Monday, 23 December 2013

8 Film Flops of 2013

In a year riddled with big openings that failed to deliver, I take a look back at 8 of the most hotly-anticipated releases that ended up being pretty forgettable.

The Hangover Part III
The concept of basing a film around a group of men who wake up after a drug-fueled blackout is not the only hackneyed notion protruding this series. The manner in which the less funny of the four goes conveniently missing every time and the story follows the calamitous trio embarking on a voyage to save their friend is getting a bit ridiculous. The movie begins with the unnecessary and foreseeable killing of a Giraffe and it's pretty much all down hill from there. The enchantingly rugged figure of Bradley Cooper is not able to save this flick from being a flop.

The Great Gatsby 
While Leonardo DiCaprio can do no wrong and I'm a fan of Carey Mulligan's also, this movie, flush with aesthetics but lacking substance was very disappointing. Perhaps because it had all the ingredients to be great means that when it came short, it looked like the local G.A.A. starlet having a scoreless county final. It lacked rhythm and some of the dialogue felt unnervingly distant. I was also not a fan of the new-age music pumped into the high-octane scenes. Was it an attempt to appeal to a younger audience? Whatever it was, it came across as silly and didn't fit at all with the mood of the book. If you're going to go vintage, then go vintage.

So this one wasn't a hotly anticipated blockbuster or anything, but I threw it in in an attempt to relieve the gripes I had about it from the beginning. What gripes you ask? Well that treacherous South African, Neill Blomkamp had originally planned on making a film on the popular gaming series Halo, of which I am a huge fan. Instead, he rang up Matt Damon and co. and proceeded to make a movie which effectively plagiarised the Halo franchise while not having any affiliation to it. Luckily, much like Green Zone, another Matt Damon action film from 2010, it was full of action but lacking in any substance or likeable characters. Remember this the next time you try blatantly stealing from a gaming series, Blomkamp!

Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues
This film honestly left me with the sensation of "Oh my God, what steaming pile of feces did I just torture myself with for the last 2 hours". No really, it was that bad. One could tell Ryan Tubridy wasn't totally convincing in his advocacy of the film before and after pandering to the cast on the Late Late Show while also attempting the desperate assimilation of Will Ferrell. Look Tubbs, while I'm always up for claiming any worthwhile Irish-Americans who openly boast their roots (no matter how obscure), Ferrell and his compadres should be burned at the stake for this unfunny eye-and-ear-sore. A cameo from Liam Neeson won't save you this time, Willy!

The World's End
Completing the Cornetto trilogy, The World's End was Simon Pegg and Nick Frost's last hoorah in making movies together for a while. Shame it was quite a reserved hoorah as The World's End left much to be desired for me. Now it wasn't a terrible film, but it didn't hold a candle to Shaun of The Dead or even Hot Fuzz. The ending followed a cliché script and while there were some high-octane fighting scenes, much like the first two, the laughs were never consistent. Watch it, but don't expect the same amusement experienced from the first two. 

Kick-Ass 2
The first iteration was fun, new and quirky due in part to Chloe Moretz and Nicholas Cage's characters. But this second installment was nothing short of putrid, lacking the brashness and arrogance of the first and following an unoriginal script. New characters introduced were drab aside from Jim Carey's and he was only around for a few scenes. 

Mandela: Long Walk to Freedom
Had Nelson Mandela been a gangster from Baltimore, then Idris Elba would have found it much easier to perform an accent not aboriginal to him. Unfortunately, his awkward blend of authentic African and South African came across as clumsy. Much like the life of Mandela himself, the film took a meandering path which was hard to follow. It harped the same worn-out liberation theme used in films like Michael Collins, The Patriot and Ghandi. 

A Good Day to Die Hard
Going into this with high expectations after an unexpectedly enjoyable prequel in Die Hard 4.0, I was sorely disappointed. Feeling like a victory lap for Bruce Willis and the franchise itself, A Good Day to Die Hard was filled with constant action which felt very flat. The premise of the story was somewhat ridiculous, again revolving around John McClane's strained relationship with his family.

Monday, 9 December 2013

Why Nightclubs Work

Bright lights, high noise levels and a general consensus that everyone's pissed all contribute to an environment where awkwardness is socially acceptable and widely practiced.

They're epilepsy inducing, ear-drum bursting, sweat reeking cesspools of dutch courage. So why are nightclubs so embedded into our popular culture? This remains a question which has racked my brain for many a year now and has brought me to maybe a rather unsophisticated conclusion - they are the only place where social awkwardness goes amiss without judgment or condemnation.

This might come across as strange to many people. What exactly do I mean by awkwardness? Well, where else can you stand around mouthing the lyrics of a song you don't really know whilst eyeing up every member of the opposite sex that passes? Where else can you commit sexual obscenities with someone whose name you don't even know, in public? Where else can you dance like a new-born gazelle with a physical handicap and no one will laugh at you or make underhanded remarks? The latter question can be answered tersely - because no one can hear you. But a better question is, how come these establishments facilitate such social ineptness?

Dj's have a hand to play in this. They ensure that there is a constant backdrop to everything you do, making the most vapid of individuals feel part of 'something bigger'. There is no doubt in my mind that this factor encourages people to make more brash decisions which, in another setting, would appear injudicious. The other impact a constant stream of music has, is it releases the pressure to talk. It's very easy to look and act 'cool' when you don't have to open your mouth. Furthermore, it means that if you happen to bump into someone that you know, a quick nod or some kind of dancing motion which acknowledges the person's existence suffices. 

Next, comes possibly the most obvious of influences. Drugs, glorious drugs. Alcohol, of course, being the most prominent, but nightclubs host an array of other delicacies, just not at the counter of a bar. However, the black market of  nightclubs is not the subject of this piece, but the effect of its products along with the ones served legally. While intoxication will predictably cause acts of foolishness and general blackguarding (which can also lead to animosity) its social effect reaches beyond the realms of its physical effect. Excusing acts of folly due to an alcoholic effect is very easy in the nightclub setting as you presume the majority of people are, to some extent, inebriated. This allows the few sober folk who wind up in clubs to pass off antisocial and awkward behaviour as being substance-influenced.

On a final note, the bright lights/dim lighting combination epitomises, for me, the environmental effect of nightclubs. The aforementioned  'something bigger' effect comes to play again as any plain vision of people's disposition is clouded by a flurry of grey, then green, then red, then strobes. How we react to this flurry of brightness and darkness (i.e. fist-bumping our little hearts out) further takes away from our social perception.

I realise that this analysis on the appeal of nightclubs falls short in many categories, but I do believe that the concept of having a place where your social awkwardness can roam free and be at one with everyone else's calamities is something powerful. It might even be something to be admired. Scratch that, you just look like a tit. But hey, so does everyone else.