After a week-long hiatus, Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are back with a new episode and a slightly less conventional format than usual. With the premiere of Sharknado 5: Global Swarming airing on the SyFy Channel at the same time as the pair sat down to record, we cover the usual movie chat whilst dipping in and out of the Asylum’s unfathomably popular franchise.
The latest episode of Front Row with Owen and Paul is likely to cause offence – not due to swearing, at least, which we’ve found a new filter for. But like the two pretentious University students trying to sound intelligent by talking about Shakespeare that they are, only to sully themselves with cock jokes throughout, many people are sure to be rubbed up the wrong way (if you know what I mean).
With the 400th anniversary of the playwright’s death/birth celebrated this past weekend, Owen revisits last October’s adaptation of Macbeth, starring Marion Cotillard and Michael Fassbender. In the sports round-up, Paul covers the infamous “deflate-gate”, the poorly defined fines in sport, and the shock of the University of Buckingham FC’s cup final victory.
The tunes on this week’s live Bucks101 Radio show (Tuesday’s, 5pm!) were chosen to fit a theme: “build a body out of songs”, as suggested on Twitter by Brian Plank. Limited to four tracks each, Owen and Paul had to find a song title or band name that made reference to a head, a body, legs and arms. Needless to say, playing Frankenstein is not as easy as it sounds with some very tenuous links being made by the pair.
Finally in the show, the dice roll lands on TV for the first time this series. Just in time for Owen and Paul to discuss why they aren’t watching Game of Thrones, what illegal downloading means to them, all before veering way off course to chat about Kid Rock’s ticketing policy. Hmm.
- Sex Pistols – Bodies (live) (Owen)
- Alex Clare – Hands Are Clever (Paul)
- The Smiths – Hand In Glove (Owen)
- Jack Johnson – Do You Remember (Paul)
- Half Man Half Biscuit – Restless Legs (Owen)
- Toseland – Good Eye Blind (live) (Paul)
- Buzzcocks – Harmony In My Head (Owen)
- Kasabian – Club Foot (Paul)
And by ‘they’, we of course mean ‘we’. We’re here to host another triple bill edition of the Failed Critics Podcast!
This week, Mike Shawcross and Matt Lambourne step into the fold along with regulars Steve Norman and Owen Hughes as they each pick their three favourite child performances in film. From sweary little girls, to doom-bringing seven year old boys, we’ve covered all of the best young performances that we could fit into 100 minutes of podcast.
Amongst that, we did still manage to squeeze in a quick round up of who-won-what at the Cannes Film Festival, which closed this week. In keeping with the Cannes theme, Mike even watched a film called The Beaver that was first screened at the festival a few years back, starring Mel Gibson. And, as if we’d planned it (we didn’t), Matt also watched a Mel Gibson movie as he looks back on the original 1979 Australian rampage film Mad Max. Meanwhile, Owen recounts his experience this past weekend at a Q&A with Al Pacino, whilst Steve quickly runs through 2012’s Avengers Assemble and the latest season of Game of Thrones.
Join us again next week as we look at Pacino’s latest project Danny Collins, as well as the Rock’s new disaster movie San Andreas.
P.S. If you can’t wait a whole week to hear Steve & Owen’s voices again …… check out the second ever Quizcast, this time hosted by Tony Black of Black Hole Cinema (or listen to the original Quizcast here).
When I found out that Failed Critics would be running a series on greatest ever TV episodes, a few shows came to mind. However there is one from recent memory that is more deserved of a praise than anything I’ve seen in years.
As the world had come to accept fantasy drama as mainstream following the success of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, Game of Thrones took that world by storm in 2011, when it was launched into realism as a TV drama out of the pages of its author George R. R. Martin. Where GOT differs from other classical mythology of Tolkien-ilk, is its unyielding portrayal of real-world brutality and shocking morality.
The new series was an overnight success and quickly became the most talked about TV show on the Internet, as people scurried to find out more from the existing texts than their weekly supplement could satisfy. Wheels are set into motion in the first episode of the very first series, pitching five families against one another for survival and ownership of the Iron Throne of Westeros.
Blackwater, the penultimate episode of the second series, is arguably the culmination of all the episodes of GOT that came before it, as circumstances create a chain of events and pawns are strategically (or sometimes less strategically) placed for the infamous ‘Battle of Blackwater Bay’.
The episode begins with the patrons of King’s Landing (the kingdom’s capital) laying in wait of the wrath of would-be King, Stannis Baratheon. The capital is ill-armed, ill-prepared and under-manned due to an ongoing war with the Northern uprising (led by Robb Stark). The tension in the air is truly palpable as troops drunkenly await their call to arms, as particularly highlighted by a delicate conversation between Sandor Cligane (The Hound) and sell-sword, Bronn (Jerome Flynn).
As the city faces seemingly insurmountable odds, the scene appears grim as the army of Stannis sails right into Blackwater Bay without any interjection from the defending King’s army. Cruel King Joffre Baratheon (Jack Gleeson) flouts the possibility of defeat despite making zero preparation, all of which has been left to the most intelligent and charismatic character of the series, Tyrion Lannister (the King’s uncle) played by the extraordinary and Emmy award-winning Peter Dinklage.
As the city forces take position at the walls, the King panics when he sees only one defensive ship in his harbour sailing directly into the ensuring armada. The attacking forces also curious as to why only one boat sails out to meet them begin to suspect a trap, but it is too late by the time they see the neon green substance leaking from the defending ship and a solitary flaming arrow flying over their heads…
What follows is the most spectacular piece of television I’ve ever witnessed, as the flaming arrow ignites the substance called ‘Wildfire’, thus creating a huge explosion of semi-biblical proportions and a shower of death closely resembling napalm, as a significant number of Stannis’ forces are consumed and their ships destroyed.
Stannis, unimpressed and non-relenting to the devastation, tells his forces to attack. When prompted by one of his commanders that so many are dead and many more will surely perish if they attack, Stannis merely responds with ‘Thousands…’.
A siege then begins as Stannis’ remaining troops storm the bay and even following the Wildfire attack still outnumber the defending troops. An impressive battle of archery and swordplay ensues on the beach between defenders and attackers, and there appears to be hope for the defenders of King’s Landing, until the King himself panics and retreats to the inner walls of the city, leading to his troops losing morale and ceasing to defend.
Reluctantly Tyrion (who happens to be a dwarf) has no choice but to lead an attack himself in the King’s absence to save the city. He is able to sneak a garrison of troops behind the attacks as they ram down the gate and begin to ascend the city walls, but they are greatly outnumbered and all seems lost as Tyrion is struck down by one of the City guards, at the orders of rival sibling Cersei (Lena Headey).
At the very last, a charge of cavalry is seen smashing into the attackers and the King’s grandfather, Tywin Lannister pronounces the battle over, just before Cersei can administer her youngest son with poison to save him from the wrath of Stannis.
The Blackwater episode is very much comparable with the Battle of Helm’s Deep from LOTR’s The Two Towers yet, in my opinion, is more impressive and unquestionably more graphic. The GOT universe until this point had almost exclusively been forged in a Medieval mythology that is compatible with real history. All that changes with the introduction of alchemy via Wildfire, and then sorcery by the end of the series with ascension of Dragon’s and the rise of the un-dead from beyond the Wall.
Game of Thrones is undoubtedly the hottest property on TV currently, and the whole-world is on count down to the launch of Season 3 in early April 2013. It’s like watching a fantastic hour long movie every week and, like any good show, it leaves you desperately awaiting the next episode. Whatever Season 3 has in store, it certainly has a great deal to live up to following the Battle of Blackwater Bay, one of the finest pieces of television you’ll have seen in many years.
Yes, yes… before I get into the nitty-gritty, it’s not ‘The Best Film of 2012’, certainly at least from a technical standpoint, and it won’t even make a blip on the radar of the Academy. That said, it fared very well in the Failed Critics end of year reviews for 2012, but I felt it was under-represented. As the movie has just had it’s home-release I decided to give it a 2nd time viewing and provide my thoughts to the masses. I am of course talking about Dredd 3D.
Let’s ditch the 3D moniker right away, it’s both pointless and adds little to the splendour of this film. The film is the fan’s realisation of a dream almost condemned to eternal humiliation thanks to the 1995 Stallone dirge. That said, I’m not a comic book fan, I never read the Dredd comics so I owe no loyalty to the franchise so I feel I’m in a position to give this movie a glowing review without being seen to be unfairly pay homage to the legacy of the ink-work.
The movie is based in a non too distant future whereby most of the United States are barron and large Cities are joined together to form Mega Cities. There is little respect for the stature of law or morality in this image of the future and justice in the form of ‘Judges’ is dished out in an equally nonchalant manner. The movie follows a day in the working life of Judge Dredd (Karl Urban) as he takes rookie psychic Anderson (Olivia Thirlby) on a live-assessment of her capabilities as a Judge. The assessment leads them to investigate a triple homicide at a run-down Apartment Tower occupied by the city’s leading drug cartel, lead by the cruel and violent Ma-Ma (Lena Headey).
As you’d expect, either as a comic fan or a casual viewer, the violence is dished out willingly and readily during the movie. That said it somehow manages to do an excellent job of not making it over-kill. The deaths come with somewhat purpose and they have impact, either in the visceral sense or in the development of the story. Karl Urban does an incredible job with such little real-estate in an acting performance to convey emotion and even intimidate with only his chin on show at all times. Yes, fans…. he never removes the helmet!
Thirlby plays an excellent green and naive heroin but develops nicely into a more confident and even sexy character as she is exposed to the real harshness that she has likely been shielded from before joining the Department of Justice. The show stealer goes to Lena Headey as the psychotic Ma-Ma, who is really building a reputation for herself as a powerhouse female lead on the back of her performances in 300 and more recently as the self-serving Queen Cersei Lannister in Game of Thrones. She takes that quality to an all new form of dementia in Dredd and provides a terrifying crime-boss with zero empathy or consideration for human-life which see expends rather casually and somewhat joyfully.
The action never runs dry in Dredd, the dialogue is economical (as it should be) and delivered with tremendous authority, particularly by Urban. A particular highlight comes during the set-piece where by Dredd & Anderson avoid total annihilation when their floor of the building is subject to heavy Mini-Gun fire, the bad-guys expect zero survivors including the inhabitants of the apartment block. Ma-Ma waits anxiously as he troops plough through the carnage to find the bodies, yet we only here 3 short single gun-shots and the silhouette of Dredd emerging to toss a bad-guy from the balcony.
Dredd is pure entertainment. It doesn’t have the greatest depth of story or character development, it doesn’t have the very best acting and it doesn’t even had the best effects (although the Slow-Mo drug scenes are quite pretty). But what it is, is a triumph for adult film making. It’s a care-free 18, it’s a barely financially viable proposition these days. I compare it much to the original Robocop, whereby it features nothing of interest to anyone who does not have an interest in on-screen violence. Perhaps this is also a weakness as it maybe threatens the possibility of a sequel.
However, Dredd for me was the film that I most wanted to discuss immediately after leaving the cinema, more than any other film in 2012. It’s entertainment at the detriment of its commercial potential, sacrificed to deliver a fully adult cinema experience. I think the tide of mass-entertainment is creating a niche for this kind of product. The recent success of highly graphic television such as Game of Thrones suggest that the masses do not only want their episodes of Friends rinsed and repeated several times daily and maybe a little Breaking Bad to satisfy their subliminal criminal urges; they actually want violence, bad taste, cruelty and a fucking good anti-hero.
I hope more studios are brave enough to create more films of this ilk, and that we get the Dredd sequels that this movie and its thoroughly adult audience deserves.