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Archive for the ‘Films’ Category

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Big

Posted by Big Boo on November 25th, 2011

Big starring Tom HanksI believe it is fair to say that Big, starring Tom Hanks, is one of the better examples of the “age swap” genre of films. You know the ones, where a child ends up swapping bodies with a grown up, quite often their mother or father, after making a wish near some kind of magical artifact. Whilst these films can be fun, they are often quite formulaic.

Big was slightly different though, and all the better for it. It may still have featured a magical object (in this case a fairground fortune telling machine called Zoltar Speaks) and a child making a wish to be grown up, but in this case the child doesn’t swap bodies with anyone else. Instead, they wake up the next day to find themselves fully grown.

The child in question in Big was a lad named Josh, who suddenly becomes a 30 year old man with the mind of a 13 year old. Josh first runs away from home when his mother thinks he is a kidnapper who has taken her son, and having nowhere else to go ends up at his school where he manages to convince his best friend, Billy, that he actually is Josh.

Billy helps Josh to get a job at a toy company as a data entry clerk, but it isn’t long before he befriends Mr. MacMillan, the head of the company and gets promoted to an executive job as a toy designer! This all happens because Josh happens to be talking to the boss one day in a toy store, when he comes across a giant floor piano, and in a very memorable scene Josh and Mr. MacMillan play Chopsticks together on the keyboard. Apparently the pair really did play the tune for real, as is evidenced by the very occasional wrong note.

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Nike MAG – Back 4 The Future

Posted by Big Boo on September 16th, 2011

Nike MagHere’s the thing. At the time of writing, in just four years time (if Back to the Future Part II is to be believed anyway) we’ll all be flying around in our cars, riding on hover boards and wearing self drying clothes. Better get a move on scientist-type-guys! 😉

However you won’t have to wait that long if you want a pair of the rather cool Nike MAG trainers that Marty McFly wore in the aforementioned film, assuming you have a spare $2,000 (minimum) lying around that is.

Nike have made a limited edition run of 1200 pairs of the shoes, and although they may not be self lacing like the ones in the film, they do look identical, and even have light up soles and illuminated Nike logo across the front.

But the best thing about all this is that it’s Nike’s way of raising some money for charity, hence the steep asking price. Nike are giving the proceeds to the Michael J. Fox Foundation for Parkinson’s Research, which couldn’t be a more apt cause given that Fox is himself a sufferer of the disease.

They are being offered for sale on eBay, with 150 pairs being made available every day. You’ll need to be quick though, as this all started a few days ago, and there are now just 600 left! Head over to the Back 4 The Future website for more details or to nikemag.ebay.com if you want to bid on a pair.

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Battle Beyond The Stars

Posted by Big Boo on August 31st, 2011

Battle Beyond The StarsI recently caught The Last Starfighter on TV, which led to a discussion with my friend Phil about the film Battle Beyond The Stars, which as it happens was also on TV around the same time but I happened to miss. I certainly remembered borrowing this film from the video library several times as a child, but I remember very little about it, so I was pleased when Phil came to the rescue with his copy of it on DVD. Cheers mate!

Before re-watching the film, my over riding memories of it were that it was a bit like Star Wars (like so many films were back then), and that it starred John Boy Walton (Richard Thomas) and had some space cowboy character in it.

So I popped the disc into my player to begin my journey of rediscovery. Up pop the menus accompanied by a piece of music that at once felt stunningly familiar to me, and there’s a picture of John Boy and a cowboy character. So far, so well remembered then.

The film begins with the peaceful inhabitants of the planet Akir being invaded by the evil Sador (John Saxon) and his Malmori warriors. Sador tells them that unless they bow down to his demands he will destroy the planet with his Stellar Converter (Death Star anyone?), and to prove his intent goes about killing a few innocents just for good measure.

Most of the Akira believe they are doomed, but young Luke, sorry, John B… I mean Shad, says that he will take the planets only space craft, powered by a computer named Nell, on a mission to go and recruit some mercenaries to help the Akira defend themselves.

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The Last Starfighter

Posted by Big Boo on August 10th, 2011

The Last StarfighterThe other day I watched The Last Starfighter, which is a film that somehow, I’m not quite sure why, I’ve never managed to see before.

The Last Starfighter is best known for being one of the first films to extensively use computer graphics to provide the special effects, and it was always this film and Tron that were the standard bearers for many years. Whilst a modern games console could easily recreate graphics of the same quality today in realtime, back then this was a new technique and the end results were the state of the art.

A quick plot recap then. Alex Rogan is a teenager who lives and works on a trailer park in back-of-nowhere America. He’s bored with his life and desperately wants to leave to go to University and take his girlfriend Maggie with him. The only thing he has to occupy his time is an arcade game called Starfighter.

Alex becomes quite adept at the game, which it turns out is actually a training simulator for a real space fleet called the Rylan Star League, who are at war with the evil (of course) Ko-Dan Armada. Alex is whisked away in a space craft (which looks stunningly like a DeLorean with a big chunky extension on the back) by a chap name Centauri and is told he has been chosen to become a real Starfighter.

Alex is shocked by all this, and asks to be returned home. Whilst Centauri takes him back, the Ko-Dan Armada launch an attack which kills all the other Starfighters.

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Stocking Fillers - Suppliers to Father Christmas
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Look Who’s Talking

Posted by Big Boo on May 23rd, 2011

Look Who's TalkingReleased as the Eighties were coming to an end, Look Who’s Talking was the first in a trilogy of films whose unique feature was that the viewer could hear what the young baby in the film was thinking.

Technically the film probably slots into the romantic comedy genre, but given that the spoken thoughts of the youngster were what provided most of the films funny moments, it is easy to overlook the fact that the film did actually have a plot.

Mollie Jensen (Kirstie Alley) is an accountant who finds herself pregnant after having an affair with one of her clients, Albert (George Segal). Despite promising to leave his wife and help bring up the child, Albert ends up breaking Mollie’s heart when she discovers him with another woman (and not his wife either).

She is so angry that she storms off, but then goes into labour, so hails a cab driven by a guy called James (John Travolta), who rushes her to hospital and is then mistaken by the hospital staff as being the father of the baby, and ends up being Mollie’s birthing partner. Mollie gives birth to a baby boy, who she names Mikey (and who’s thoughts are voiced by Bruce Willis).

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Airplane!

Posted by Big Boo on February 23rd, 2011

Airplane!I noticed Airplane! was on TV the other day, so I recorded it as I could never remember having seen the film from beginning to end. Sure I knew most of the gags from it, but more from reputation than having watched them first hand.

So, I watched it the other night, and I have to admit I almost, almost, switched off after the first 15 minutes or so, because what I was watching was failing to live up to my expectations. Sure there were a few bits that made me smile, like the tannoy announcers arguing about which coloured zone was which, but everything seemed far too serious at this point.

Maybe that was the idea though, as when Airplane! was first released in 1980 it was pretty much the first film of its kind (I’m struggling to think of anything similar that came before it, though I’m sure there must be something) so perhaps it was intentional, to ease audiences in for what was to come later.

Signs that things were heading back where I expected them to be soon came though, when Ted Striker goes to buy a plane ticket and is asked if he wants smoking or non-smoking. He replies that he wants smoking, and is then handed a paper ticket which, yes, you’ve guessed it, is literally emitting smoke in his hand.

Things started to improve also when Leslie Nielsen finally appeared. If there was ever an actor to be linked to this type of film it is the now, sadly, late Mr. Nielsen. I admit I gave a little cheer when he appeared, and from then on Airplane! suddenly became what I expected it to be from the beginning. The running gags I had been waiting for started to appear, including Nielsen’s “Don’t call me Shirley” line, and the “…but that’s not important right now” jokes.

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Annie

Posted by Big Boo on January 24th, 2011

AnnieAnnie was one of my sister’s favourite films when we were growing up, so it was a film that I saw myself quite a bit, and I have to say I too have good memories of it myself.

The film was released in 1982 and stars Aileen Quinn as the titular Annie. The film is a musical and was based on a stage musical from the late Seventies, which in turn was based on a newspaper comic strip Little Orphan Annie which dates back to the 1920’s. Annie is an orphan with a curly mop of very orange hair. She lives in an orphanage run by Miss Hannigan, who makes the lives of Annie and the other orphans an unpleasant one.

One day though, Annie’s life changes for the better, when the secretary of Oliver Warbucks (Albert Finney), a hard headed billionaire, turns up at the orphanage looking for a child to live with Warbucks for a week as a publicity stunt. Annie is chosen, and whilst Warbucks is not best pleased (he would have preferred a boy), as time goes by Annie starts to melt his cold heart, and eventually Warbucks adopts Annie as his own daughter.

Whilst happy at leaving the orphanage, Annie has always been convinced that she is not actually an orphan, and that her mother and father are still out there somewhere. Warbucks decides he will try to help Annie out, and makes an appeal for her parents to come forward.

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Scrooged

Posted by Big Boo on December 6th, 2010

Scrooged - Bill MurrayCharles Dickens really couldn’t have known what he created back in 1843 when he first published his story A Christmas Carol. This tale must have been made and adapted for film and television more than any other literary work ever. As well as countless film versions telling the story pretty much unaltered, many TV shows (especially US ones) have taken the idea and adapted it for Christmas specials of their own.

Personally, my favourite version (and apologies to the Muppets because I did like their version too) is the 1988 film Scrooged, starring Bill Murray as the Scrooge like Frank Cross. Whilst it changes some details of the story to bring things up-to-date (for example, Frank Cross is the boss of a TV Station, rather than a money lender, or whatever Ebenezer was supposed to be) the basic premise of the story survives intact.

Frank’s TV company is attempting a world’s first for their Christmas extravaganza. A live transmitted version of A Christmas Carol. Frank’s motives in this are more driven by money and greed than by presenting a good Christmas message. He had a bit of a miserable childhood, so doesn’t really take much interest in Christmas celebrations.

Frank is first visited by the ghost of his long dead boss, who warns him that he is to be visited that evening by three more ghosts who will show him his past, present and future, in an effort to make him change his ways. Frank, unsurprisingly perhaps, believes he has just been hallucinating, but he begins to change his mind as the ghosts start to pay him visits.

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