REVIEW: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Nolan's back to finish off his Bat trilogy, but does the threequel live up to its predecessors?

REVIEW: The Amazing Spider-Man (2012)

Spidey's back, with Marc Webb's controversial reboot finally swinging into cinemas. Can he justify it?

REVIEW: Rock of Ages (2012)

So, as it turns out, yes, Tom Cruise *can* sing. What more do you want?

REVIEW: Prometheus (2012)

Ridley Scott marks his return to sci-fi with this sort-of-an-Alien-prequel. But does it live up to the hype?

REVIEW: Casa de mi Padre (2012)

Yep. It's all in Spanish. And it's all batshit crazy.

Sunday, 18 March 2012

Interview with a filmmaker: Chas Whatmore

The 2012 First Light Awards, held at the British Film Institute on London’s Southbank on March 5th, celebrated the innovative talent of up and coming filmmakers in the UK - some as young as eight. I attended the ceremony for, interviewing the winners and presenters with the rest of the press.

The winner of Best Film by Under-11s, Granny Mac’s Meringues, was produced by 66 youngsters from Burntisland Primary School in Scotland. I caught up with Chas Whatmore, a filmmaker who helped the children to complete their award-winning film, after the event, for a more in-depth interview.

Chas, who has been making films for over five years, graduated from Abertay University in Computer Arts in 2008 and has since worked on documentaries, dramas and conference films. He completed a Masters Degree in Electronic Imaging in 2010, while working alongside his mother, Liz Whatmore, for the past four years. The mother-son duo helped the children of Burntisland create Granny Mac’s Meringues, which tells the tale of a milliner mixing up a cake box and a hat box just before the Royal Wedding, with disastrously hilarious results.

I spoke to Chas about the filmmaking process and how he came to be involved with First Light. You can read the interview below, and find my full write-up of the ceremony, including interviews with Naomie Harris (Pirates of the Caribbean, Skyfall), John Boyega (Attack the Block) and Ralf Little (The Royle Family), at

How does it feel to have won this prestigious award?

We are all thrilled to have won. It’s the third time lucky for Liz, but it’s so good for the kids’ confidence.

How did you get involved with First Light?

Liz made her first film with First Light in 2004, titled Un Mystere dans le Jardin, which was shortlisted for Best Under-12s. We were looking for funding, and a local media centre in Glenrothes suggested First Light.

Who or what inspired you to create this film?

A class project on the environment sparked ideas, which developed and morphed into Granny Mac’s Meringues.

How did you find the filmmaking process?

The filmmaking process is always exciting, especially with children; from developing the initial idea to the creation of characters with personalities and everything between. Working with children is never a dull moment! We were getting the kids to develop their skills, from storyboarding to voiceovers, via animation. It was a great team-building tool!

Where do you see yourself in future?

As Liz is nearing retirement, she is trying to inspire others to take up the baton. She would love to be involved with another project along similar lines.

So will you go on to create more projects with the kids?

Funding is the main issue. First Light have only just secured some funding for this year, which is a bit late for this year’s classes. The general economic gloom makes funding from other sources difficult.

How important do you think events like this are for young filmmakers in the UK?

Showcasing young folks' creative talents is wonderful for boosting their self-confidence. The First Light Awards are a great way of celebrating filmmaking by young people across the UK.

Do you have any advice for young people who want to get involved in the film industry?

Don’t give up! It’s also very important that they have facilities to express their creative talents.

Hit play below to see Granny Mac's Meringues for yourself. You can find the rest of the award-winners on the First Light website.

You can also find Chas on Twitter at @ChasWhatmore, and see more of his work at Vimeo. Photo supplied by Chas Whatmore.

Saturday, 10 March 2012

Poll Results: Who's the best Bond?

Well, the results are in. It was a close call, but, according to you, the reader, the best 007 of the past 50 years is none other than… Pierce Brosnan.

While not my first choice, that’s the point of polls; to see what everyone else thinks. Good old reliable Pierce pipped Craig and Connery to the post by just one and two votes respectively, with George Lazenby, Roger Moore and Timothy Dalton bringing up the rear with two, four and six votes of a total 48.

In all honesty, the results have been pretty predictable. The overwhelming turnout has obviously been for the more recent incarnations, as a younger film audience is more likely to have seen their efforts. Then there’s the vote for the original; the staple classic, Sean Connery.

Perhaps most surprising were the six votes for Timothy Dalton - having starred in just two films, The Living Daylights and Licence to Kill, Dalton’s is perhaps not the face that instantly springs to mind with the classic line: “Bond. James Bond.” Perhaps it’s a testament to his legacy, then, that he managed to gain 12% of the vote off the back of two films.

Conversely, George Lazenby, who took up the 007 mantle for just a singular outing with On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, drew a measly two votes - 4% of the overall turnout. So not quite the impact he’d hoped to have. Though he does have some defenders - Edward Wilkinson, 21, said: “I think it's ridiculous how underappreciated Dalton and Lazenby are. They were both a class act.”

With new Bond film Skyfall due for release towards the end of 2012, perhaps Craig can turn around the disappointment felt after Quantum of Solace and edge out a win over Brosnan in a future poll. After all, where Pierce had a good four films to establish himself in the role, Daniel’s only had two. Plenty of time left to prove himself - though, with 25% of the vote, he’s clearly gone some way towards that goal already.

Skyfall is due in cinemas on 26th October 2012. Until then, you’ve got a whole 22 Bond films to plough through. It’s Britain’s biggest spy film franchise, and it’s about to turn 50…

Photo: Pop Culture

Monday, 5 March 2012

Assassin's Creed III Trailer

As promised on Friday, Ubisoft has revealed more details about the upcoming Assassin's Creed III, including a very tasty trailer.

According to a press release from the series developers, the main protagonist is called Connor and is of British/Mohawk (Native American) descent. His full name is Ratohnak√©:ton, which isn't exactly the easiest moniker to remember.

Also, we never knew Native Americans had random punctuation in the middle of their names. Probably why Ubisoft went for Connor, though we're not sure how 'typical 18th Century' that name is.

Regardless, the game is to be set in the middle of the American Revolution, as we told you last week, and has been under development for three years on an entirely new engine. As you'll see from the following trailer...

Yes, it appears we finally have an assassin who can climb trees. Oh, and the huge battles on open terrain might be slightly new, too.

The game will apparently span coloniel and frontier towns, one of which we can see in the distance at the end of the trailer. So the classic freerunning through buildings and streets will still have a place in the new game, but now it looks as if snowy forests and open landscapes will be coming into play too.

Finally Ubisoft are giving us a full sequel, and it'll definitely be a day one purchase. Make sure to follow Cryteria for all the latest news on the game and a review when it hits shelves.

Assassin's Creed III will be released on 31st October 2012 for PlayStation 3, Xbox 360, Windows, and Nintendo Wii U.

Source and Photo: Official PlayStation Magazine UK

Sunday, 4 March 2012

Why the Oscars are a shambles

As you’ll undoubtedly know by now, what with the internet going ablaze over the event, the 84th Academy Awards happened last week. I stayed up 'till 5am to watch, but as you’ll notice, I haven’t bothered writing a lengthy post about how fabulous the winners were and how terrible it was for the losers but how delightfully sportsmanlike they were anyway and how all the ladies looked glamorous and how Angeline Jolie’s leg made more headlines than The Artist winning five awards.

Mainly because none of that matters.

Why doesn’t it matter? Because, dear reader, the Oscars are a farce. If you know me at all, you’re perfectly entitled to bellow cries of “J’accuse!” and complain I’m just bitter that Drive didn’t win anything. Because I am. But my argument isn’t completely ungrounded. Recently I’ve been reading Mark Kermode’s latest book, entitled ‘The Good, The Bad and The Multiplex’, in which he makes some very good points on this very topic. Mr Kermode describes the Oscar nomination process as follows…

The Academy, comprised largely of Americans, decide it isn’t worth watching every film, so only watch a handful, and wait for the Golden Globes shortlist to decide the rest. The Golden Globes selection process entails, as Kermode puts it, “90-odd Pharisiac hacks [getting together] once a year to draw up a list of famous people they really want to meet and hang out with. They then proceed to invite these famous people to what is essentially their annual work knees-up, by nominating their crap films for Golden Globe awards.”

Thus, the very nomination process for the Oscars is skewed; let alone who actually wins the awards - which is another matter entirely. I find further fault with ‘Oscar season’, as it’s come to be known among cineastes and cinephiles, for its horrible banality to focus only on recently released films. While a handful of films released throughout 2011 were nominated, the majority of winners were films released towards the end of the year (or early 2012).

Take the evening’s major winner: The Artist. Premiering at Cannes in May 2011, the film saw wide cinematic release just in time for the Oscars (how convenient!), from December 2011 to February 2012 around the world. In fact, almost all the major winners at this year’s Oscars were released in the last quarter of 2011 or later in the UK (Hugo won five Oscars and was released 2nd December 2011, The Descendants took one after being released 27th January 2012, and David Fincher’s remake The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo also won a single award after a release date of 26th December 2011).

The major films of 2011 released before this period could be counted on your fingers, and those that actually won awards on one hand. For an award ceremony celebrating a year of film, the focus of the Oscars seems conveniently focused on what’s just come out recently - perhaps because the Academy do indeed have an average age of a hundred and seven, as Kermode laments, and can’t remember what they saw past last week.

Hence why I haven’t reported the Oscar winners. Aside from the fact that there’s a thousand other avenues to find out the information, and I’d simply be wasting my breath (fingers?), the very process of the ceremony doesn’t accurately reflect the state of modern cinema. And what use is a film awards ceremony that doesn’t care about film?

Photo: Babble

Friday, 2 March 2012

Assassin's Creed III News Round-Up

If you're a fan of the series, you've probably heard some or all of yesterday's announcements surrounding the new Assassin's Creed game. But, for those who haven't, and to collate all the details in one place, here's a round-up of everything we know about Assassin's Creed III.

There's a new protagonist - and a new location.

With the stories of prior protagonists Ezio and Altair all wrapped up in one neat little package dubbed Assassin's Creed: Revelations, the path is set for a new face, and a new locale for him to zip about in.  Ubisoft, rather surprisingly, have gone for the American Revolution. As for that face: we know nothing yet, apart from what we can insinuate from the above shot. For instance, his garb, clearly evolved from the robes of Ezio and Altair, hint at Native American origins - so maybe Chris Columbus was a Templar (though this would probably cause riots from our Stateside compadres)?

There's a whole host of new weapons.

As we're a fair few years on from the previous games, the weaponry available to our stabby hero has obviously evolved. From the boxart above, it looks like a small, handheld axe might be replacing the hidden blades - while initially seeming a backwards step, as it's a bit harder to conceal an entire axe, it's certainly more suited to the time period. The character also comes equipped with a Native American bow and arrow; a weapon likely to replace the crossbow of previous efforts, but one that needs a much longer range to be effective. Maybe we'll be seeing more open landscapes? The location certainly lends itself well to that sort of Red Dead Redemption-esque setting.

It's also obvious that while this is one of the last historical periods to place emphasis on bladed weaponry, the use of gunpowder is a lot more widespread by now. Case in point: the gun wielded by both pro- and antagonist in the above shots. Ezio had a primitive gun courtesy of Leonardo Da Vinci, so it's not a completely new prospect for the series.

It's been three years in the making.

"We will push the title a lot, because it's a fantastic product that the team has been working on for three years," said Ubisoft CEO Yves Guillemot. "What we have seen is just fabulous."

You won't be waiting too long for it.

Assassin's Creed III is due for release on 30th October 2012.

And there's still more to come...

Ubisoft are expected to announce full details of the game at 5pm on Monday, 5th March 2012.

Source: T3/The Guardian