The First in iHartMovies’ Monumental Movies – 1980: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back

Darth Vader as depicted in The Empire Strikes ...

Image via Wikipedia

And so, to kick off our new movie exclusive at iHartMovies, Monumental Movies, here is the very first film, which is from the year 1980. Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back, is arguably the most memorable movie out of the Star Wars saga, considered the best episode out of the six by many, and generally considered to be one of the most epic creations in the movie industry ever. Anyone and everyone, whether you’re a fan of Star Wars or not, knows about this movie, and the four most famous words ever to be uttered…” I am your father”, of course soon followed by the “NOOOOOOOOOOOOO!”, from a somewhat displeased Luke Skywalker…

The Empire Strikes Back, set after the events of A New Hope, in which Luke Skywalker destroys the dreaded Death Star, shows Luke and the gang fleeing to the Rebel base on the snowy planet of Hoth. On Hoth, Luke experiences an apparition of his dead mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, who tells him to travel to the Dagobah system to meet legendary Jedi Master, Yoda (voiced by Frank Oz), from whom Luke will receive training in order to become a Jedi. Soon after this, Vader and the gang discover the rebel base on Hoth, ordering a full frontal attack on the rebels, in honour of the hundreds of Stormtroopers who lost their lives on the now obliterated Death Star. During the assault on the rebels, Han Solo ( Harrison Ford) and the gang manage to escape in the Millennium Falcon, and Luke manages a quick getaway, heading to Dagobah, to meet the green legend, Yoda.

During his time on Dagobah, Luke, although skeptical at first, soon learns the ways of The Force, being trained by Yoda, in the hope that he will bring down the one at the top of the Galactic Empire, Darth Sidious, a.k.a, The Emperor, and the depraved Sith Lord, Darth Vader. After numerous events occur, which I won’t go into as I’m sure all Star Wars fans are aware of them, an inevitable confrontation towards the end of the movie shows Vader and Luke in a brutal lightsaber duel amidst the narrow platforms of Cloud City, before we see Luke hanging on the edge of a platform, with nowhere to go, right before Vader saber-chops his hand off. Then the words that send chills down every Star Wars fan’s spine are uttered, “ I am your father”, before Luke goes berserk, right before jumping off the platform as an escape from this slightly awkward situation. Although the Rebel Alliance has received an insanely huge bitch-slap, the movie ends on a positive note, as always, showing Luke safe and sound, preparing for what will be an epic battle between the Rebels and the Galactic Empire, in ‘The Return of The Jedi’.

The Empire Strikes Back is arguably the best episode out of the original three Star Wars movies, highlighting the main points of the storyline, along with the downfall of the Rebels, before the inevitable uprise. Creator, George Lucas, portrays Darth Vader, easily the best villain ever, in all in merciless glory, as he tears apart the Rebels, and rebuilds the devastated Empire. This movie is just a classic. It has the best subplots of all the episodes, easily some of the best scenes, and obviously, a brilliant script, and is pretty much the pinnacle of the epic Star Wars saga. If you haven’t watched this movie, it’s simple – Watch it.

Stay tuned, as next Saturday, the movie of 1981 will be revealed.

By Manpreet Singh


Can Skins Series 5 Be Saved?

Freddie McLair (Luke Pasqualino) & Effy Stonem...

Image by r9M via Flickr

Skins, one of the most original teenage dramas when it first aired.
You had the likes of Tony, Cassie, Sid, and Michelle. Teenagers loved the sharp wit, the humour, and the drama of regular teenage problems in the storylines. It worked because you learnt about the characters – they all have flaws, their friendships had on-screen chemistry.

Then that cast ended (apart from Effy), and Series 3 emerged. Everyone’s expectations were high. What would the new characters be like?
Fortunately, the characters were really good; but unfortunately, some viewers didn’t like the new series at first. This could have been due to a number of reasons: they became too used to the original characters, they were not used to the new style of script, or possibly the hype and expectations made them want more than what they got.

Eventually, people warmed to Skins, it had guest celebrities, like Will Young; and people began to enjoy the characters’ mannerisms and sense of humour. Series 3 and 4 were criticised for being too deep, and not having enough fun involved. But I, personally, thought this worked in favour of the storyline.
You had Cook and Naomi, Effy And Freddy, Pandora and Thomas, JJ and the Twins, Emily and Katie – all of whom had deep, psychological, teenage problems. Cook’s was obvious, he was an abandoned child (not raised properly), so lost control. And Effy, became a partial schizophrenic. I think eventually the previous cast grew on people, and their audience started to understand the storylines.

Skins listened for series 5, which many people will heavily disagree with. They have tried to make it more fun, but the characters do not yet look comfortable on-screen. Especially the second episode of series 5, which was awful (no disrespect to any moshers reading this) but for some reason the stereotype for that episode didn’t suit how Skins works. It became disjointed, and uninteresting. Like listening to a character being deaf for 15 minutes is entertaining?
Things finally got going in the third episode however, but is it enough? I find that in the first and second episode, the show was trying to develop a storyline and character progression in a vacuum, and that, quite frankly, doesn’t work.
It needs to keep up with the same consistency as episode 3 from now, before it loses a majority of it’s viewing figures.

There will be no more Tony’s and Cook’s, or Cassies’ and Effy’s. But hopefully, it will manage to get itself out of this vacuum and produce something that they are truly capable of.

By Daniel Hart

‘Dead Space: Aftermath’, The Second Full-Length Animation, Reviewed by Guest Blogger, Jonathon Wilson

Dead Space: Aftermath

 Review Director: Mike Disa

 Released: January 25, 2011

 Running Time: 90 minutes

Usually in horror movies, or at the very least movies with strong themes of persistent danger and the ultimate goal of survival, one of the most entertaining aspects is trying to figure out who’s going to survive until the end. Dead Space: Aftermath, the second full-length animated movie in the ever-popular Dead Space universe, throws us a curveball right from the start by opening with the survivors of its disaster being rescued.

As marines board the deserted, carnage-strewn corridors of the USG O’Bannon, we’re introduced to the four mismatched individuals who will function as our principle characters: Nicholas Kuttner (Christopher Judge), head of security; Alejandro Borgas (Ricardo Chavira), an engineer; Isabella Cho (Gwendoline Yeo), a doctor; and Nolan Stross (Curt Cornelius), the ship’s chief science officer.

The group is quickly incapacitated and transported to the Marine battleship Braxus, which is on its way to the Sprawl – a huge space station built on Titan (one of the moons of Saturn) and also the setting for the recent Dead Space 2 videogame. It quickly becomes apparent that all is not what it seems, and a pair or interrogators are brought in to decipher the happenings aboard the O’Bannon before the Braxus reaches the Sprawl.

The majority of Aftermath takes place in the past, as each of the four main characters tell their story through flashback sequences. As a framing device this is hardly original, but here it works surprising well, allowing us to see radically different perspectives on the same event, while we witness first-hand the trauma these individuals have suffered and how their psyches have been affected. While the guy who constantly cries out for his dead daughter is a little bit of a cliché, in general I liked the four main characters and was interested to learn more about themselves and their stories.

Unlike Downfall, the first Dead Space movie experience, Aftermath doesn’t rely on a single, comic book-style of art and animation. Rather, the portions set aboard the Braxus are presented in an (admittedly crude) CG rendering, while each individual flashback plays out in a different artistic style. I was worried this format may come across as somewhat schizophrenic, but it actually worked out as one of the stronger elements of the film, providing a range of interesting aesthetics while adding a strong sense of separation between each character’s version of events.

While we’re comparing Aftermath to its predecessor, it’s also worth mentioning how the pacing is wildly different. In Downfall, the basic premise was introduced and vaguely explained in the first ten minutes, leaving the remaining hour to show the massacre aboard the Ishimura in as much detail as possible. Here, we have a much healthier balance of exposition and action, with the former being presented in a reasonably dynamic and interesting way, and the latter just as vivid and brutal, if not more so, than it was before. Once again, the most impressive element on display here is the art and visual design, which juxtaposes the grim, industrial feel of the O’Bannon with the almost surgically pristine, white-walled corridors of the Braxus. The movie looks great throughout, with the weakest elements (the off-key CG) being the least prominent.

I said in my review of Dead Space: Downfall that for fans of the videogames that movie was a must see, and that goes for Aftermath and then some. Overall, it’s a vast improvement over its feature-length predecessor and a credit to the Dead Space universe. Highly recommended.

By guest blogger, Jonathon Wilson:

The Dark Knight Rises Update: Marion Cotillard Joins The Cast?

Actress Marion Cotillard — People aux défilés ...

Image via Wikipedia

The latest news is that French actress Marion Cotillard, has joined the cast for the upcoming Bat-flick, The Dark Knight Rises. Cotillard, who played Mal, in blockbuster, Inception, is reported to have joined the cast, although there is no news as of yet as to what her role will be in the highly anticipated movie.

Cotillard will be joining Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, both of whom also starred in Inception, directed by Christopher Nolan, who will also be directing TDKR. So, another cast member of Inception is brought into TDKR. I feel that this cast is definitely an interesting selection, and I have a good feeling that the movie will turn out to be an amazingly brilliant one, just like its predecessor, The Dark Knight Rises (for those of you who don’t know; although, if you didn’t know that, there is no hope for you).

This lovely bunch will be working alongside Anne Hathaway, who will be playing Catwoman. The Dark Knight Rises, will begin shooting this summer in Los Angeles, and is set to hit the big screens on 20th July, 2012. This will be a movie not to be missed. Guaranteed.

By Manpreet Singh

Monumental Movies..An iHartMovies Exclusive…

Ok, so as promised, with our previous exclusive on the Top Ten of 2010 proving to be a success, we at iHartMovies have decided to present you movie lovers with another exclusive…Monumental Movies. Every week, we will hand-pick a classic film from each year, paying homage to their awesomeness. Starting from the year 1980, an outstanding movie will be picked, which we will pay our respects to, sharing our views and experiences on the movie, highlighting their remarkable moments, and generally reviewing these classic masterpieces. Although an iHartMovies exclusive, I, Manpreet Singh, will be presenting the Monumental Movies for this exclusive.

So, basically, we will choose a movie for each week, from each year, starting from 1980; and the week after, another movie will be selected from the following year, i.e. 1981, and the week after, 1982, all the way up until the present year (2011, for those of you who have forgotten). And remember, although all chosen films will be memorable, don’t be startled if a chosen movie seems unexpected or somewhat unworthy in your eyes – remember this is an iHartMovies Exclusive, not an official list of the best films, so there may be many movies that you weren’t expecting. What I can promise however, is that all chosen movies will be awesome.

So keep an eye out, as the iHartMovies Exclusive has now begun, with the movie for each year being presented every Saturday, starting from the 26th February, starting with a chosen movie from the year 1980. What will it be? Stay tuned to find out…

By Manpreet Singh

Why The Justin Bieber ‘Feature Biopic’ Film Is The Worst Idea This Year

NYC signing September 1,2009 Nintendo Store - NYC

Image via Wikipedia

Cult followers in the entertainment world never fail to surprise me, Lady Gaga’s followers, although obsessed, are pretty much justified because of her stamp on music. Justin Bieber, a young lad of 16, came into our music world in 2009 after his success on Youtube in 2007. Usher pretty much had the lad on his doorstep after being founded by Scooter Braun. Although not a fan of this boy, and although most of his songs being quite irratating, he has been an instant international success; and he has a crazy following, an obssessive fan club.
Now, people may think this article is biased after reading the rest, just because I’ve noted I am not a fan of him, but try to understand my points here:
Justin, is 16; now think back to when you were 16, a mile-stone back then in your opinion, a minor step up into the world. You probably thought you could have a few stories to tell from being born, up to 16 years old. Add on two years, you’re now 18 (I’m not trying to patronise you here with simple maths); what a difference two years makes – you can drink, smoke, vote, go to university, and pretty much have the freedom of an adult (Although if you’re American of course all of this freedom come at 21). You probably, at that age, have way more stories to tell. Now, add on 3 years. In fact, add on 22 years so you’re now the big 40. That’s a life time in which you’ve probably seen the world for what it is, you have a ton of life experience, you’ve met a lot of people, encountered problems, and solved many issues life has thrown at you. Which brings me to my point, Mr. Bieber has only been in the industry properly since 2009 – and he’s only 16. Why make a film now which is a biopic? And what gives him the right to have a film about his life already? I find it hard to believe that a boy of 16 years of age has much to say about his life, probably the only thing worth shouting about is how he became famous. Which is always a good story.

If they made this film in 5-10 years time it would have probably been a film worth seeing. A lot of things could happen to Justin from now to then. Look at Britney Spears, for instance, she went from being a sweet girl to an ultimate press rebel, having a lot of break downs along the way. I’d rather see that than a G-Rated pile of crap showing Justin having his first baby steps (I have no idea if the movie shows this, but I wouldn’t be surprised if they did..with Usher clapping from a distance).

Some of you might be reading this, thinking, I am a Cult follower of Justin, I want to see him riding his first bike, I want to see him hitting puberty then getting signed by Usher. Good for you, but luckily for me, my mind isn’t easily tampered by advertising shit splattered over every media device going. But then comes my other theory. Justin Bieber probably has the most squeaky, clean celebrity image to date. Maybe they want to get this film out before his voice drops, or before he sips his first drop of alcohol and turns into another Lyndsay Lohan. Maybe, Mr. Bieber is an actual money spinning human.

But if we were to follow this example, then other stars should have a feature film biopic already. Lady Gaga? Rihanna? Usher? How come these people who have lived longer and had more success, and probably have more to talk about, don’t have their own biographical movies?
No doubt I’ll get many followers commenting, saying you’re wrong! Am I? So you agree his life is long lived and worthy of a biography already? Well we all have our own opinions.

By Daniel Hart

‘Dead Space: Downfall’, Reviewed. A Post From Guest Blogger, Jonathon Wilson

Dead Space (series)

Image via Wikipedia












Dead SpaceDownfall                                                                                                                                   

Released: October 28, 2008

Running Time: 75 mins.

It’s a widely accepted fact that videogame adaptations make terrible movies. We need only to look at the work of German filmmaker Uwe Boll to see many examples of respected intellectual property butchered, for want of a better word, in its transition to the big screen.

The task of transforming a piece of interactive media into a product that can entertain and excite without the need for agency is undoubtedly a difficult one; video games succeed or fail depending on how well they adhere to their own language, rather than the language of film or other, non-interactive mediums.

The key in crafting a successful video game-to-film adaptation is simply setting the bar low. Trying to create the next big-budget blockbuster invariably fails unless you have the money, time and talent to see it through. Rather, play to the strengths of your license and understand exactly what you want your product to be. Such forethought yields infinitely more favourable results.

Take Dead Space: Downfall as an example. Developed b,y Team Roman in collaboration with Electronic Arts, this animated movie functions as a prequel to the events detailed in the original Dead Space video game, it’s closing moments set within minutes of the game’s opening.

It’s quite clear throughout the 75 minutes running time that Downfall isn’t a self-sustained narrative experience. Rather, it is to be taken as a portion of the overarching storyline of the series; although its culmination ultimately serves as a catalyst for the events in the first game, it doesn’t need to spend time establishing mythology and backstory – the meat of the exposition can be found in Dead Space.

Because, however, Downfall is an independent work separate from the main series of games, it’s important that we employ a different critical lens in the interest of fairness. In that regard, Downfall has several narrative shortcomings, the most prevalent of which being its hasty summarisation of important aspects of the universe which deserve more explanation. An 8-10 hour video game has the liberty of drip-feeding us context without spoiling the pacing, but a 75 minute movie has no such advantage.

We’re presented with a lot of questions and few answers are provided – we’re told about the Church of Unitology, it’s desire to uncover an alien Marker from a dead planet called Aegis VII, and the fact that several of its sympathisers or members have been planted on the USG Ishimura, the “planet-cracker” sent to lead the excavation of the artefact. We’re then required to accept these facts at face value.

Once the concept has been established, though, Downfall launches into a wonderfully drawn survival story. As the alien Marker begins to corrupt the members of the Ishimura, transforming them into hideous, savage creatures called necromorphs, security officer Alyssa Vincent must lead a ragtag group of her crewmates on a mission to summon help and, more importantly, prevent the Marker from being taken back to Earth.

Downfall’s primary selling point is its excellent art and animation, with an intentionally muted colour palette lending the dark, mechanical corridors of the Ishimura a real sense of place. The action, when it comes, is exciting and visceral, and the inevitability of the crew’s demise brings with it a terrific feeling of urgency. You know bad things are going to happen, you just don’t know when, or how, or to whom, and as a result many of its slower scenes are wracked with the suspense of the unknown.

The characters, while sometimes unconvincing, are nonetheless interesting to follow. While there are a few too many self-sacrifices for my liking, as dementia begins to set in it becomes a guessing game of who is going to succumb to the effects of the Marker next, and what the consequences will be.

As a huge fan of the Dead Space universe, Downfall was a highly-entertaining prequel for me. My foreknowledge of the finer narrative aspects allowed me to enjoy the movie for what it is, and that’s an exciting science-fiction story of desperation and the will to survive. If you’re a fan of animation this is definitely worth a look, and if you’re interested in the videogames, I’d even go so far as to call this a must-see.  

A post from guest blogger, Jonathon Wilson, founder of Dynamic Loading :