Issue 7 – 23 July 2010

After far too long, a return to the Friday Round Up – apologies for the delay, this was entirely due to forces beyond my control (ie, Jake Gyllenhaal and Jerry Bruckheimer combining powers to create the Prince of Persia black hole event horizon). So, moving on…

You don’t need me to tell you that three quarters of the movie blogging world is at Comic Con in San Diego this week. There’s more to Comic Con than fine Batman and Star Wars costume recreations, there’s also the chance to see advance screenings of Scott Pilgrim vs the World. This has indeed created a tweeting stir as the lucky viewers reflect on seeing one of the summer’s big movies well in advance of everyone else and very shortly after the completion of the film. While the overall reaction to Edgar Wright’s movie appears extremely positive, not to mention hyper, early reviews have mentioned that this may not be the film for everyone, largely because of its attention span. And so, after the initial expectations, now hearing that the film goes by in a flash of short, sharp punches of image – as if someone was flicking quickly through the pages of a comicbook – I am a little concerned that Scott Pilgrim is more about style than content. More about scene stealing than story. I’ve decided now to steer clear of the reviews during the month leading up to the release (13 August in the US and 25 August in the UK). Each one I read is putting me off, just as each successive film clip or trailer is putting me off. This is definitely a case for I’ll make my own mind up when the time comes – given half the chance.

An opposite to this is Tron: Legacy. This film will not be with us until December but a trail of ever more enticing breadcrumbs has been left at Comic Con, including an appearance by the great Jeff Bridges – resulting in a new trailer, which makes me want to see this form more and more. It’s hard to believe that the original Tron was made in 1982 but it was. It was an extraordinary film for its time, as I remember, and looking at the trailers for the 2010 revisit one can’t help but thing something out of the ordinary awaits us. If only the wait weren’t so long…

The UK Film Council released its 2009 figures this week and they make great reading for the British film industry: ‘UK cinema visits of 174 million made 2009 the second highest year for admissions since 1971, while the UK box office grew to a record £944 million… Avatar was the run-away box office success of 2009, generating more in 3D takings alone than the total gross of any other 2009 film. Still on release in April 2010, with UK box office takings of over £91 million, it displaced Titanic at the top of our inflation-adjusted all-time top 20 UK box office chart. It was the only film of 2009 to break into this chart. Three UK films had a particular impact at the UK and international box office in 2009: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince continued the dominance of the schoolboy wizard franchise, while Slumdog Millionaire hit the jackpot as the most successful-ever UK independent film. The third most popular UK film of the year, Sherlock Holmes, confirmed the enduring appeal of characters from classic British fiction. Other UK independent films to win significant audiences in 2009 included St Trinian’s 2: The Legend of Fritton’s Gold, Nativity, Harry Brown, Dorian Gray and In the Loop.’

On top of that, of course, were critically acclaimed films An Education and Moon, which won awards internationally for their originality and cast. The list of top 20 UK films for 2009 can be seen here. The Guardian’s report makes interesting reading.

The big stars in the UK this week were Tom Cruise and Cameron Diaz who reached London in their Knight and Day tour of the world. Personally, I’m looking forward to this flm due to its inclusion of the one and only Peter Sarsgaard (as a baddie, naturally), but aside from all that, as a movie fan, I always respect Tom Cruise on the red carpet. He is a fan’s movie star. He interacted with his fans for three hours last night and finished off sitting on the floor with writers and bloggers as they filed their reports. He and Cameron also managed to fit in a day at the racetrack competing as ‘Stars in a reasonably priced car’ for Top Gear. Publicity? Absolutely (they even turned up at the Tour de France today, on either side of the Yellow Jersey). Above and beyond what we can expect from other movie stars on our shores? Absolutely. When I was in LA a couple of years ago, I went to the Beverly Hills Hotel to see what I could see for the Oscars Night Before Party. The barman in the Polo Lounge told me that Tom Cruise had just done the rounds with his family, saying hello to everyone, staff and guest alike, shaking hands with everyone and introducing them to his daughter. For a personal experience of movie stardom you can do a lot worse than being a fan of the consummate movie star Tom Cruise. As for the film, it seems irrelevant… Could be fun though.

Back to Comic Con – kind of… Piranha 3D was too hot and nasty for San Diego. It lost its place at the last minue. However, JoBlo has reported on a screening of a good few minutes from the movie that took place down the street from Comic Con. It seems fair to say after reading their report that the film is a tad gory and gratuitous when it comes to the merciless slaughter of all and sundry at the hands of a bunch of razor-toothed grumpy fish. Also, the fish are well trained and prefer to snack on big boobed morsels.

But, obviously, talking about fish movies, there can be only one…

Of course there’s always this one.

Finally, we’ve had some publicity about next year’s Cowboys and Aliens, which will star Harrison Ford and Daniel Craig (directed by Jon Favreau) and may well boggle the mind: ‘1873. Arizona Territory. A stranger (Craig) with no memory of his past stumbles into the hard desert town of Absolution. The only hint to his history is a mysterious shackle that encircles one wrist. What he discovers is that the people of Absolution don’t welcome strangers, and nobody makes a move on its streets unless ordered to do so by the iron-fisted Colonel Dolarhyde (Ford). It’s a town that lives in fear. But Absolution is about to experience fear it can scarcely comprehend as the desolate city is attacked by marauders from the sky. Screaming down with breathtaking velocity and blinding lights to abduct the helpless one by one, these monsters challenge everything the residents have ever known. Now, the stranger they rejected is their only hope for salvation. As this gunslinger slowly starts to remember who he is and where he’s been, he realizes he holds a secret that could give the town a fighting chance against the alien force. With the help of the elusive traveler Ella (Olivia Wilde), he pulls together a posse comprised of former opponents-townsfolk, Dolarhyde and his boys, outlaws and Apache warriors-all in danger of annihilation. United against a common enemy, they will prepare for an epic showdown for survival.’ May time fly.

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