The Highlight Reel Preview: 15th July Edition

It’s that time of the week again for a look at what is coming up in our latest episode of the The Highlight Reel that broadcasts every Monday at 11PM on Sine FM, or you can catch it anytime over the week if you press this shiny red link! (Do it!)

But anyway, what’s in the show? Well I’m glad you asked, (well I asked under the guise of you, but anyway) in this week’s show, we’re taking a look at a prequel to one of the greatest animated movies of all-time: The Lilo & Stitch prequel. Just Joking! We’re of course taking a look at Monsters University. We cast our eyes (or should that be eye) upon the return of the second most famous green testicle on legs, Mike Wazowski (voiced by Billy Crystal) as he and his future friend Sulley (John Goodman) go to University and learn how to be “scarers” (and just in case you are wondering why Mike is the second most famous green testicle, the most famous is of course Hitler’s loose one, but I can neither confirm or deny as to whether his testicle does have legs or not, so I’ll err on the side of caution and say that it probably does).

But is it a good film? Well you will have to listen to the show to see what we think. However, I do apologise if i used one too many genitalia jokes in the last paragraph and I take them all back, I also promise that you will not hear any more penis jokes in the rest of this preview. So why not take a look at the trailer of Monsters University and see how this one eyed monster is doing (…I’m so sorry):

We also have a review for the new American TV drama: Ray Donovan. It stars Liev Schreiber as a “fixer” called Ray Donovan who battles to fix the problems of the rich and famous while struggling to fix his own. Take a look at the trailer below:

And finally, this week’s feature sees us taking a look at one of the strangest genres that has ever came to the screen, these films are what we have called ‘Nanny movies’. They are the films where famous tough guys look after little kids in films like: The Pacifier, The Tooth Fairy and Kindergarten Cop, and we ask the question, “who are these films actually made for?”

So for all that and more, tune in tonight at 11PM, or anytime over the week on Sine Fm, to have a listen to our show The Highlight Reel where we take a look at the weird and wonderful about film and TV today. So why not give us a listen? Go on! You know you want to!


Sharknado and the Rule of Cool

“OH EM GEE! That was totally epic! #rekt!!!” We’ve all seen a film that had us respond in such a manner, although maybe not in such sickeningly modern terms. The magic of cinema can show us some truly awesome things, but the problem is, since real life is a mercilessly grey dirge that never seems to end, it’s hard to make something that’s both awesome and totally realistic. So why even bother? That’s why films often decide to take the awesome:realistic ratio and ratchet it way, waaaay over towards the awesome side.


Sometimes, this approach works. Take the Indiana Jones Quadrilogy for example, and yes, I’m counting Crystal Skull in this equation, too, because I’m assuming anyone who hadn’t gotten over the fridge thing has long since clawed their own wrists out with their fingernails in a desperate attempt to escape their miserable existence. You see, Indy was always based on the classic adventure serials of the 30s – tales of high adventure, with a swashbuckling hero who’d leap off a moving train and look damn cool doing it (instead of looking like someone with shattered shin bones poking out from the back of his calves), all while wooing an attractive young lady. That’s awesome, but hardly realistic, because come on. No one could do that, least of all you, with your pasty, flabby arms, cellulite and yellowed teeth. However, we go with it because you can always believe that somewhere out there, this chiselled superman does exist. Of course he exists, you’re watching him! If you’re invested in characters by good writing and acting, you relate enough to them that you can also relate to the action, even if it starts to get a little extravagant at times. Think about the wit, the charm, and the seamless exposition woven into the dialogue in all the Indy films – it all means that you completely buy this guy as being better than you, mentally and physically. Why shouldn’t he be able to outrun a massive boulder, or ride an insane minecart track, or survive a nuke by getting in the fridge? It’s not like it’s you that’s doing it, you waster.


I guess I didn’t have to use this as an example, but any excuse to show you all this gif again is fine by me. It’s for your own good.


Of course, this also means the inverse is true: it’s hard to care about characters who give you no reason to care about them, and as a result no amount of quote-unquote ‘awesome’ action will save it. Herein lies a quandary: writing fun, engaging characters to take part in equally fun and engaging action is hard. So, what do you do? Well, you ratchet up the awesome-ometer (awes-ometer?) to self-parodying levels and hope that enough stoner chuckleheads post it on Facebook with ironic “Best. Film. Ever” comments to make you an instant smash hit. Exhibit A: Sharknado. I know it might be a little unfair to start slating a film before it even comes out, but let’s be real here, we all know the score with Sharknado. It’s an Asylum movie, and I’m guessing the pitch went down much the same way that their pitch of Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus did, with a bunch of goofy laughter and “dude, AWESOME”-s before they finally realised they also had to write a script and that ironically-bad, deliberately-stupid joke title of theirs would probably be a lot less fun when it’s stretched over 90 minutes of meaningless twaddle.



And that’s seriously all it is; just the one joke that this is kind of a shit film with a stupid, B-movie-parodying title that’s suckered you in based on the guffaws and your stupid sense of humour, numbed by years of overexposure to Family Guy, that means anything ironically bad and unfunny must automatically become funny. There is very little actually “awesome” about Mega Shark Vs Giant Octopus, and I’ve never been more confident in saying there won’t be anything “awesome” in Sharknado, either. These sort of films are usually surprisingly boring, because they miss the point that being awesome isn’t a right, it’s a privilege, and as such it has to be earned. You can’t just throw something like a tornado made of sharks at me, and literally nothing else (yes, Tara Reid does count as nothing else) and expect it to hold up for 90 minutes unless I’m really, really high, and in that event I’ll probably be too busy trying to dig out the ants from under my skin with chopsticks anyway. You have to give me something, anything, to care about, whether it’s a bit of a laugh – not counting the one laugh I’ll get from the title, which I can get for free by looking at the box – or a genuine connection to the characters. You want to make a cool movie? Then make it cool. Don’t throw your quirky title at me and then stand back waiting for me to laugh. There’s nothing worse than being prompted to laugh at an awful joke, and that’s what all this Sharknado hype feels like to me. Ask yourself, for all the Facebook liking and sharing and LOLSOEPIC banter you’ll be doing about Sharknado, will you actually bother to see it? I doubt it, because you’ve already got as many laughs as you’re going to get out of that one minute of trailer. And that, my friends, is definitely not awesome.


Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to add the finishing touches to my script about a shark who is also a revolutionary Roman slave leader. I call it Sharktacus. Tell your friends.

The Highlight Reel Feature: Terrible Comic Book Movies from the 1990’s.

As you may know, I recently joined The Highlight Reel team (well, technically I made it a team, because before there was only one person doing it, but shh!) and because I’m new, we thought we would like to bring something else new to the blog too: Our own YouTube videos!

However as we were too scared to release moving pictures of our actual faces onto the internet for the sake of humanity, what we decided to do instead was to take the feature from this week’s episode of our radio show The Highlight Reel and put it on YouTube for you all to enjoy instead.

So we now present to you, cut straight from our latest episode of our radio show, our discussion about the terrible Comic Book Movies of the 1990’s. In it we take a look at some utterly awful movies like Batman & Robin, Steel and Tank Girl.

Enjoy! (…hopefully):

The Highlight Reel Preview: 8th July Edition

Hello guys! It is that time of the week again to have a quick preview of what is to come in this week’s episode of The Highlight Reel, airing Monday nights on Sine Fm. So what’s happening in this week’s episode? Well this is actually my first proper episode co-presenting with Chris and in it we will review the latest Magical Crime Thriller (talk about a niche market): Now You See Me, which stars a whole raft of stars such as Woody Harrelson, Mark Ruffalo, Morgan Freeman and everyone’s favourite Michael Cera impersonator: Jesse Eisenberg.

We are also having a look at the returning BBC drama Luther, starring Dj Driis (A.K.A. Idris Elba) as the troubled detective John Luther, and you’ll find a teaser trailer of this new season below:

And finally, if you have already seen Chris’ great article just below (go on give the page a little scroll down), you’ll know that this week’s main feature sees us taking a look at something so terrible, so utterly, utterly, terrible, that some of them almost managed to killed off a whole genre before the genre had even had a chance to start getting good. We’re taking a look at the disastrous times for Comic Book movies that was the 1990’s.

So for a quick fix of the latest film and television news, catch our show at 11pm on Sine Fm, Monday the 8th July, or anytime over the week. So go on give it a go, you won’t regret it! (However, you would regret it if you pressed this link – Ooooooh! The tempation!)

Batman And Robin: “Buy This, You Simpletons!”

I’ve gone on record many, many times about how much I enjoy bad movies. Many of my favourite films of all time are famously awful train wrecks. Troll 2, The Wicker Man (Nic Cage’s Woman-Beating Extravaganza, not the original one) and The Happening are all films I heartily recommend to anyone, even you, who I would almost certainly despise if I ever met. There’s something admirable about them. Maybe there’s something remarkably human about a pathetic, incompetent effort of a bad film. Maybe I appreciate that it actually was an effort. Maybe I’m just insane and, shortly after writing this blog post, am going to shit into my own hands and hurl it at the moon, but the point is there’s a soul to the bad movie that I just find really endearing. Well, not quite every bad movie.

You see, on the latest edition of The Highlight Reel we discuss bad comic book movies, specifically ones from that faraway land of the 90s, and while films like Steel, The Phantom and Tank Girl are laughably bad, and miles away from what your average comic book movie today is, there at least seems to be some value to them. A picture drawn with human shit is still art to some people, after all.  You’ll notice I’m referencing excrement more than I usually do in this article, a theme which is appropriate given the final film we talk about on The Highlight Reel: Batman and Robin.

If you squint slightly, it looks sort of like the cast are emerging from a cavernous, brightly coloured, torn anus. Or maybe I’m just projecting again.

Now, it’s hardly a revelation on my part to suggest that Batman and Robin is a bad movie. The film has been universally panned by anyone who has so much as caught a glimpse of a frame in their peripheral vision, not least by the entire cast and crew who spent much of the promotional featurette that went out on the DVD apologising while looking sheepish and profusely ashamed of themselves. The cast refers to the film in much the same tone as that rehab group leader in Breaking Bad recounting how he accidentally killed his daughter. Director Joel Schumacher apologised to the fans for making such a gaudy, horrible light show instead of thinking about what the hell he was doing for more than 5 seconds. And honestly, I don’t like this kind of senseless rage that this film brings out of me. I like to have a bit more poise about my criticisms. While I love film, I don’t like to take it too seriously. I like to separate my passion from my inner Youtube commenter. Rarely will I flip out and let a film get under my skin so much that I fly into a Tazmanian Devil-esque rage at the mere mention of it, over fifteen years after its release, with a desire to write a lengthy, ranty blog post about it before shoving blunt sticks into my eyes to make the nightmares go away. But holy fucking shit, this film is terrible.

After Tim Burton made things too dark and weird with the vastly overrated Batman Returns, a shift into lighter territory wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. So, when they turned to Joel Schumacher to make Batman Forever with the instruction to make the Dark Knight that little bit brighter, it was pretty successful. That film isn’t without its faults, but it’s a decent watch. Of course, in typical Hollywood fashion, following the success of Batman Forever they immediately decided that, hey, the lighter tone worked so well, so that means going several hundred miles further in that direction is the only logical course of action! Let’s have everything daubed in gaudy, horrible neon. Let’s have every other line of dialogue be some crushingly awful pun, let’s have the costumes based on what a five-year old would find cool, and let’s turn the entire relationship between Batman and Robin into some bickering nonsense that would make even the worst buddy cop movies cringe (assuming a film could cringe, of course, which they can’t unless you live in Peewee’s Playhouse where everything has eyes and a mouth or something).

Batman and Robin is so bad because it’s a slap in the face not just to Batman fans, but to film fans in general. It’s so obviously toyetic, geared to sell action figures and theme park rides and horrible little collector cups. It’s corporate bullshit being poured into your eyes, and if you try to blink and look away you can’t because the horrible ice puns and frantic editing and screechy children and bat-nipples all surround you until it swallows you up, swallows you up in gloopy brown filth, the rotten hands of Chris O’Donnell grabbing at your ankles as he pulls you down to whine about how he hasn’t got his own shit little car, and all this steamy shit roars up your nostrils and into your ears and into your brain and it’s whirling, whirling around the inside of your mind and oh god it just won’t ever stop because it’s Batman and Robin, fuck me it’s Batman and Robin and they’re in your brain forever screeching BUY THIS, BUY THIS SHIT PLASTIC TOY FOR YOUR MORONIC OFFSPRING until you eventually relent and begin convulsing, naked and sweaty, on your bathroom floor at 3am as the last wisp of your soul evaporates through your red withered eyeballs and you live out your days as a shrivelled husk, not quite dead yet not really alive.

What I’m getting at is: this film has no soul. It was made to sell crap to you and your kids by people who think you are incredibly stupid. It was made by the kind of people who only exist in episodes of Scooby-Doo, cartoonishly evil folks who sit around working out how they can stab each other in the back for a 0.0000001% increase in their Christmas bonus, if they even believe in Christmas, which they don’t because they spend their holidays kicking orphans and hacking up baby animals with a rusty cleaver. I hate this film and everything it stands for. I hate the sheer, sneering contempt it shows towards people like me. There was no artistic endeavour whatsoever from anyone involved. Everything resembling character, or setting, or atmosphere, was reduced into some horrible neon sludge that SM:TV Live would consider tacky and lowbrow. I know Batman’s reinvention into some badass, dark crimefighter is a relatively recent thing, and I’m by no means denying the history of the franchise here, but during post-production of Batman and Robin someone made the decision to insert comedy sound effects when people fall over. Someone actively made a decision to turn Mr. Freeze into a big blue pun machine who only ever talks about ice. Someone threw out all that great, rich history that Batman had by this point because they wanted to make toys with George Clooney’s nipples on them. They wanted to make this lowest-common-denominator pap that they thought would get little kids to pester their parents into buying the toys, and the obvious, blatant cynicism of this is what really gets me. I know it wasn’t the first or last film to do this, but few have done it so blatantly at the expense of absolutely everything else in the movie. Not only is Batman and Robin completely without any artistry whatsoever, there was a conscious effort on the part of the filmmakers to avoid it altogether.

And no, bat nipples do not count as ‘artistry’.

As I stated earlier, there’s something weirdly likable about an incompetently put together movie – like Steel – that shambles along, put together by a bunch of people who had no clue what they were doing, as evidenced by the fact they cast Shaquille O’Neal as a superhero. You can’t be mad at it any more than you can be mad at a baby for soiling itself every day. With Batman and Robin, there’s a callous, almost malicious disregard for the audience on show. You are an idiot, and you will buy what we tell you to, it says, more loudly and more clearly than almost any other movie I care to remember. Whenever anyone whines about how bad movies are today compared to “back in the day” (when “back in the day” actually was varies on when the cretin using it was born. For my generation, it usually means the 90s), I often like to hold up Batman and Robin as a counter-example. After Earth sucks and I’d never tell anyone to go and watch it, but at least it doesn’t insult you while it steals your time and money. It’s for precisely that reason why Batman and Robin is one of the worst films ever made. It’s underpinned by this seething ocean of greed, made by suits of the kind only previously thought to exist in Wayne’s World, and it’s inescapable. It’s as if the film was written by feeding a bunch of sales figures into some monolithic supercomputer, which then churned out the script for this film before becoming self-aware and threatening to release dirty bombs all over the world unless it was made exactly as it thought it should be. It’s this forced, artificial version of cool that nobody in the world actually thinks is cool, and in the end, looked horribly out of place both “back in the day”, and even more so in the cold, harsh light of 2013.

In short: I don’t mind if your movie is shit. As long as it has a bit of soul.