Sunday, 30 September 2012

DUMPSTER DIVING #1: The Patriot – Flower Power

First up was 90s not-particularly-action-packed action movie, The Patriot.


Steven Seagal plays a genius doctor who is called into action when a rebel militia, led by a bearded Neo-Nazi, release a lethal biological weapon in a small American town.

Even though Seagal is clearly not a genius doctor – and his character development is slightly suspect and lacking in explanation (quiet doctor to martial arts master in a matter of minutes) - it is enjoyable watching him do his thing. The rest of the cast aren't half bad either and, on the whole, the acting is sufficient.

Personally, I also enjoyed the fact that I was never sure what the point of it all was. Is it hippy propaganda, or is it simply harking back to simpler times with no biological weapons and no fancy labs? To add to that, I'm not even sure how 'American' it is; in many ways it seems to speak negatively about the US (focusing on their views on biological weapons, war in general and the treatment of the Native Americans).

But whatever it's about, The Patriot provides a mostly enjoyable 90 minutes, with some surprisingly heartfelt moments. And its 'action movie' claim isn't completely defunct; featuring, among other things, a memorable death by wine glass.

★★★

DUMPSTER DIVING: An Introduction

I know summer may seem like nothing but a distant memory to many of you, but I still have remnants of that summer spirit on my hard drive . . . and by 'summer spirit' I mean the movies I watched on VHS while I was baking away in Cyprus.

What better way to spend long Mediterranean nights than sat in front of a ten year old 4:3 screen watching whatever gems have been left there by the owners??

Gems including;
  • The Patriot (of the Seagal variety)
  • Crimson Tide
  • Ransom 
  • Delta Force 2
  • Universal Soldier: The Return
  • Under Siege 2
A cineaste's wet-dream, I'm sure you'll agree.

Seeing said stacks of VHS tapes, I set myself a trashy action movie criteria in order to see what I was missing on ITV4 a couple of nights a week.

Anyway, I got around to watching the above films; thoroughly enjoying some and utterly despising others.

I'll leave you to guess which ones are which . . .

Sunday, 2 September 2012

Catching Fire (Suzanne Collins) Review

I like reading whole chapters at a time; in the same way that I like watching whole TV episodes. That's no big deal . . . . .

Not usually, anyway . . . but that links with the gripe most prominent in my mind about part two of the Hunger Games trilogy: the last chapter.

I had made an effort to save the last chapter so I could read it all in one go. Now I'm not one for spoilers, but it was disappointing . . . to say the least.

I had been slightly worried when I reached the end of the penultimate chapter and realised Suzanne Collins only had fourteen pages to fashion some kind of suitable ending in preparation for the last part of Katniss' story. My worries were apt.

I just felt let-down. I had already worked out some of the twists, and unfortunately they happened to be the ones Collins focused on most. The twists I hadn't been expecting were glossed over and never carried the weight good twists do. All this adds up to a badly executed final chapter, but one that I hope will be made up for with part three.

However, even with all this negativity, I enjoyed the reading experience of Catching Fire more than the Hunger Games. Now, this was probably down to the fact that I watched 'The Hunger Games' before reading it, but that's not the point.

I must also add that while the Hunger Games are what the series has focused on up until now, they aren't the most interesting aspect. What I am looking for in Mockingjay is the continuation of the rebellion story-line rather than another, probably over-contrived, Hunger Games.

In Catching Fire, Collins did manage to develop the Games themselves, adding more of a problem-solving element for Katniss and the reader, but I'm growing tired of angry animals (that are going to look horrible in CGI, I might add) and killer weather patterns.

So please, Suzanne Collins, don't disappoint me with Mockingjay. Both The Hunger Games and Catching Fire had their ups and downs, but the ups have the chance to become something special.