james debate
james debate

Saturday 16 February 2008

Well the first two months of 2008 have come and gone and two of my big tips for this year have gone with them, but how have they fared with people's high expectations?

I gather those of you who read my blog roundups have been surprised to see Ashes to Ashes in the 'not' section of my 'hot and not' roundup, so I will clarify. First of all Ashes to Ashes is a very different show to Life on Mars, despite the similarities. While Life on Mars was very reminiscent of the Sweeney and similar shows, Ashes to Ashes is more like Miami Vice. This is no bad thing, in fact the wonderfully kitsch 80s-ness and much more likehearted feel to the show is very entertaining when you get used to it, it's just not what you expect when you first watch it. At first I was slightly disappointed by the very obnoxious and annoying lead, as well as the diluted slightly cartoonlike approach taken to Gene Hunt, the main draw of the show.

Upon reflection, and watching the much stronger second episode (featuring a very impressive 8 licensed songs- many of which are very good) I do appreciate this show it is still better than 99.99% of other tv shows, but it is not as good as Life on Mars, and the storytelling mechanic they're using with the main character is a bit misguided and jarring, but can be forgiven. If you watched Life on Mars give it a look in, I think you'll grow to like it.

Now on to Cloverfield, the brainchild of Lost creator JJ Abrams. I saw this on opening night a few weeks ago and let me tell you, I was pretty psyched about this movie. I am of the opinion that right now everything JJ Abrams touches turns to gold, and not only did this live up to that expectation, it exceeded it. 

This movie was even better than I thought it would be. I expected a decently imagined monster movie, presented from a uniquely original perpective and carried off with well engineered suspense and excitement. What I got was an experience. A naturalistic and realistic (as much as possible) account of what a monster attack on New York would be like, or any attack for that matter - one can draw parallels between this movie and 9/11 in much the same way one can draw them between Godzilla and Hiroshima, indeed some scenes in this movie look like they could have been taken straight from 9/11 footage. This immediate sensory experience is topped by a rich backstory, much more so than is apparent when you're first watching it, and much of which is simply alluded to in the film - the origins of the monster for example are never revealed although there are allusions to the answer in the movie, though for absolute details one must look elsewhere (there is an origins manga released in japan revealing said details, and a sequel/prequel movie planned). But none of this would come off so well if not for the brilliant story telling, inventively told with 'flashbacks' as it were, much in the vein of Lost. In short: Do not underestimate this movie, it is an unmissable experience, and go see it in the cinema, you owe that to yourself.

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