This week Steve Norman and Owen Hughes are joined by regular Failed Critic Andrew Brooker as they delve in to Ridley Scott’s latest instalment in the Alien franchise, Alien: Covenant, complete with Spoiler Alert as well as a spoiler free review.
Hello and welcome to this week’s Failed Critics Podcast, released slightly earlier than usual to try and push it out just before the end of International Podcast today (that’s today for the next couple of minutes, anyway!) As such, we recommend you check out our fellow podcast comrades Wikishuffle, Black Hole Cinema and Diamond & Human; all of whom are deserving of your time during your commute or whilst peeling the spuds, or whatever you do whilst you’re listening to us.
Joining Mexican assassin Steve Norman and intergalactic failed critic Owen Hughes for this week’s episode is Andrew Brooker, undertaking his unpaid work placement, as they review three new releases. They’re so new, in fact, that they are not even out in the UK yet! First up, Owen reviews new Ridley Scott sci-fi The Martian (which doesn’t feature any aliens – xenomorphs or otherwise) before Brooker seethes over the new Anne Hathaway / Robert De Niro comedy The Intern. There’s even room for a review of the much anticipated crime-thriller Sicario, starring Emily Blunt as an FBI agent working with Josh Brolin and Benicio Del Toro on the trail of the Cartel in Mexico.
Before any of that though we have our quiz (which Steve helpfully explains in detail) and news section where the team react to Sam Smith’s Bond theme replete with improv poetry, The Simpsons opening Smithers closet, and the Prometheus sequel details. This is followed by our usual what we’ve been watching section, which sees: Owen review cult 80’s horror From Beyond as he pleads for your HP Lovecraft recommendations; Steve runs through three first watches of Beverly Hills Cop, Cooties and Cop Car; and Brooker reminds himself of a time when De Niro could do comedy well with Analyze This.
Join us again next week as we review ‘the Scottish play’, Macbeth, and have a very special guest in tow for our Scottish triple bill: It’s the acclaimed author of the Three Realistic Holes trilogy of novels, Escobar Walker!
Hello and welcome to another episode of the Failed Critics Podcast! Joining hosts Steve Norman and Owen Hughes this week are Andrew Brooker and Jackson Tyler, sharing their opinion on the latest installment of the Pitch Perfect franchise, as well as George Miller’s triumphant return to post-apocalyptic Australia with Mad Max: Fury Road.
Starting off the podcast as ever is our quiz – in its new revamped format! With things teetering on a knife-edge; will Steve lose and be forced to watch Kill Keith yet again; will he win and force Owen to watch Kill Keith again? Or, with a bit of luck, will the cursed video-tape that is Keith Chegwin’s magnum opus finally be passed on to somebody else so we never have to darken our DVD player with it ever again?
We also chat about the 68th Cannes (with an ‘s’) Film Festival, from the end of the McConaissance to institutional sexism. There’s even room for Owen to revisit a film talked about exactly 150 episodes ago; Jackson shares his love for Alexander Payne’s high-school political-satire Election; Steve puts his geo-gea-jolly-ologist expertise to good use when reviewing The Day After Tomorrow; and Brooker delves into the twisted mind of James Cullen Bressack with Pernicious ahead of its UK release next month.
Join us again next week for reviews of the Poltergeist remake (why?), Disney’s Tomorrowland and the latest CGI-laden disaster movie San Andreas.
A year ago today I started a blog called The Failed Critic. It was the latest in a long line of attempted blogs and aborted hobbies that I tried to define my personality with. I planned to watch every film on the IMDB Top 250 list (including the ones I had seen) and record the whole experience for posterity.
Since starting the blog I have managed to add only about 30 films to my ‘watched’ list. But the year I’ve had has been one of the most fun and exciting I can remember.
The blog started off very slowly, with a few friends reading the odd post if I badgered them enough. That is until I ‘met’ Steve, Gerry, and shortly after that Owen. That’s when the Failed Critics podcast was born.
We’ve since recorded over 40 episodes of “the slightly shambolic weekly film review podcast”, and one of those episodes has been described as “pretty good”. It even attracted the attention of Carol Morley (director of the brilliant Dreams of a Life). The podcast has been through a number of reboots and guises, but it’s currently better than I ever hoped when we first sat down on Skype and shyly said hello to each other. Despite having never met them, I’d describe each of the team as a friend – and without them I’m pretty sure I would have given up on Failed Critics like I have every other blog.
I’ve been to the cinema 68 times in the last year, which is a lot more than I managed in the entire decade previously. I’ve attended the first ever Sundance London as a patron, the first ever Bowiefest as a ‘blogger’, and the première of Prometheus as a competition winner (although I ended that evening as personal friend of Jason Flemyng and Benedict Wong). In a year I’ve managed to get Charlie Higson to record an introduction for our podcast, completed a short-film script of my own, and gone from the cine-illiterate idiot who wrote that shockingly bad first post to someone a Guardian critic described on Twitter as a film snob.
One of the greatest pleasures I’ve had has been reading some fantastic writings from people who just wanted to get involved. It’s been a genuine honour to be able to publish the work of these great writers. In the next twelve months I hope that even more brilliant writers will want to get involved with what I’ve been lovingly building here. We’re not professionals, and pretty much everything we’ve reviewed has been paid for with our own hard-earned pocket money. We’re just fans of films – and I hope that comes across.
It’s been an amazing year, and we’re only just getting started. I can’t wait to see what 2013 holds for me, and for the Failed Critics readers.
This week’s podcast returns to the bread and butter work of reviewing the latest releases, and the spotlight is on Martin McDonagh’s follow-up to the brilliant In Bruges – Seven Psychopaths. Boasting a brilliant cast including Colin Farrell, Sam Rockwell, and Christopher Walken half of the podcast team (yes, I know…) give their verdicts.
Also in this episode James tries to cement his hipster art-house credentials while sporting the worst French accent since ‘Allo ‘Allo with his glowing reviews of Amour and Intouchables; Gerry finally gets around to watching Prometheus; Owen gets confused and somehow watches Predators instead of Predator; and Steve goes to great lengths to test the podcast theory that we can watch any film which stars The Rock by reviewing Journey 2: The Mysterious Island.
We’re back next week with a Tolkien-inspired special episode with our first thoughts on The Hobbit.
The Lost Reviews are articles that our editor produced for another publication but, for one reason or another, never got published.
It’s not because they’re shit. Honest.
After 24 years, Ridley Scott returns to the universe that spawned arguably his best film, and certainly one of his most influential. It’s clear from the outset however that this prequel isn’t ‘Alien Begins’; it’s a far different beast, owing more in terms of its tone and ambition to Scott’s other sci-fi classic Blade Runner. While aspects of Prometheus’ set-design and its action set-pieces share a lineage with Alien, this film is epic in scale rather than claustrophobic and dripping in terror.
And while Sigourney Weaver’s Ripley is nowhere to be seen, Noomi Rapace stands in more-than-ably as Elizabeth Shaw – a scientist who discovers a clue to the origins of mankind. She persuades the Weyland Corporation (yes, that Weyland Corporation) to fund an expedition to the darkest reaches of the universe to confront mankind’s creators. This being an ‘Alien’ film though, the meeting is unlikely to result in a welcoming party or cosy chat over the family photo albums.
Rapace is excellent as the head-strong Shaw, which will be no surprise to those who saw her in the original The Girl with the Dragoon Tattoo. The star of the piece, though, is Michael Fassbender as the ship’s android David. We see him watching David Lean’s Lawrence of Arabia and practicing Peter O’Toole’s mannerisms while the crew are in hyper-sleep. However, it is another David that seems to imbue Fassbender’s android – that of David Bowie in The Man Who Fell to Earth. He has the same other-worldly presence, clearly fascinated by humans but easily corrupted by them.
Sadly, and unlike Scott’s original Alien, the rest of the crew aboard the good ship Prometheus are largely underwritten. Charlize Theron, Idris Elba, and Guy Pierce are all more than competent in their respective roles, but as the action steps up a gear in the second half they become reduced to two-dimensional plot-devices.
The other major problem is the film’s unanswered questions. It’s great to see a motion picture refusing to spoon-feed its audience, but the ambiguity will frustrate many viewers. Whether this is intentional or not depends on how you view script-writer Damon Lindelof’s TV series Lost. Hopefully a rumoured sequel, or the almost-inevitable Ridley Scott director’s cut, will expand on the themes explored here.
Regardless of its flaws, let’s be thankful people have still got the ambition to make films as beautiful and ambitious as Prometheus
So it came to pass that on the evening of 31st May, I managed to score a couple of tickets to the world premiere of Ridley Scott’s return to science fiction – the long-awaited Prometheus. After a discussion with the lovely lady who was dealing with our arrangements, it was decided that if Jeremy Clarkson was going to be there then we might as well go in jeans, shirt, and jacket as well. Clarkson-style. Except we made a pact not to insult public sector workers or an entire nation while we were there.
To hear what I thought about the film, you’ll have to download the next Failed Critics podcast (due tomorrow). What I will say is that I found it to be an enjoyable and intelligent sci-fi blockbuster, which looked gorgeous and had a couple of brilliant central performances.
Anyway, this is meant to be about me…
So we arrived at the Empire Leicester Square, and the entrance and red carpet was completely out of sight.
After picking up our tickets, we queued up along the outside of this pretty unglamorous dystopian fence and started to lower our expectations. We are going to be bundled in the back-door, but at least we get to see the film before the shitmuchers. So, we show our tickets, pass though a few security guards and end up being vomited out onto the red carpet…
And it wasn’t just us on the carpet. We had managed to turn up at the same time as Ridley Scott…
And I even managed to catch Charlize Theron’s eye in amongst all the chaos.
I didn’t have time to even think about the Richard Curtis-esque romantic comedy about to occur before we were ushered into the cinema to take our seats…
Oh, and Ridley Scott introduced the film about 15-feet in front of me. Front-row seats were a bit of a neck-ache for the film, but it was worth it for this…
If you want to know how my mate and I ended up chatting to a film star and getting into the after-show party – you’ll have to listen to this week’s Failed Critics podcast – available on the 4th June 2012!
Once more unto the pod dear friends, once more! They may take our bandwidth, but they will never take our freedom! We’re just three boys, standing in front of our audience, asking you to love us. That’s right people, our Triple Bill this week is Great Speeches! Also in this week’s podcast we discuss our top picks from this summer’s releases that aren’t called Prometheus or The Dark Knight Rises; as well as new and future independent releases in the shape of Safety Not Guaranteed and Breathing.
Click below to listen to Steve’s reboot idea for a classic Disney franchise; Gerry’s rather desperate attempt to get free drinks in return for praise of the splendid Showroom Cinema in Sheffield; and James doth protesting rather too much about the Sex and the City Movie.
No spoilers, but if you do want to skip between sections, then the timings are:
Intro Summer Preview: 0:00
Triple Bill: 20:38
The Good, the Bad, OR the Ugly: 43:00
Total time: 1:11:00
Bonus Feature! We have collated Youtube links to full versions of all of the speeches chosen for this week’s Triple Bill. They are unlabelled for those of you who may prefer the surprise…