Tuesday, 29 May 2007

Tane's reviews:Pirates of the Carribean - At World's Ends

Writing a review of ‘At World’s End’ feels rather like retreading my review of ‘Spiderman 3’. The year’s first two Hollywood blockbusters have a lot in common. The third of a hugely successful, special effects laden fantasy franchise. Dynamite action sequences. Overlong and overcomplicated. And I enjoyed both of them.

‘At World’s End’ is the better of the two films: funnier, more imaginative and with less of a rush towards its finale. Like the first two Pirates films, it’s a refreshing romp, a gleefully, unashamedly over the top swashbuckler filled with salty sea dogs, swordplay and black magic. The Spiderman films take themselves more seriously, which – when done well – adds depth. But, when done badly, comes off as melodrama.

Don’t bother going to see ‘At World’s End’ if you haven’t seen ‘Dead Man’s Chest’. They’re part of the same story and ‘At World’s End’ is hard enough to follow if you have seen the earlier film.

‘At World’s End’ opens with the resurrected Captain Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush), Elizabeth Swann (Keira Knightley) and William Turner (Orlando Bloom) trying to find a way to bring Jack Sparrow (Johnny Depp) back from the afterlife Davey Jones (Bill Nighy) sent him to. The first stop is Singapore, home of Sao Feng (Chow Yun-Fat), one of the nine pirate lords who must gather to face Jones and the mighty British East India Company. The Company’s leader, Lord Cutler Bennett, is determined to wipe out piracy and rule the seas himself.

What follows is a globe and netherworld-spanning adventure that nearly gets sunk by a needlessly tangled plot. You need a scorecard to keep track of who is betraying who and why. It’s best just to forget about it, go with the flow, and admire the string of vividly imaginative and magnificently shot scenes. With scurvy pirates swinging cutlasses and firing cannons from the dark, sweaty dens of Singapore, to flows of ice, to a surreal desert, and beyond, ‘At World’s End’ has enough spectacle and action to make you forgive its length and other flaws.

Most of those flaws are familiar ones. Knightley and Bloom are as bland as ever, with Knightley in particular apparently lack the acting skills to do anything more than look beautiful and annoyed. Their love triangle with Captain Jack has never held any interest except for giving Depp a few good lines. To be fair though, I did like the way it was resolved.

She certainly pales next to Nighy, Depp and Rush, who are clearly enjoying themselves. Of these heavyweights, it’s Rush who steals the movie. Captain Jack is still very amusing, but we have seen most of his tricks and quirks. Rush though, is the epitome of everything piratical - dastardly, charismatic, leering and apparently unable to speak without saying ‘yaaar’. Though, had he been given longer on screen, the effortlessly cool Keith Richards might have given Rush a run for his dubloons.

You can say ‘At World’s End’ is overlong, indulgent and confusing, and you’d not be wrong. But it’s still a pirate’s life for me.


p.s. There’s a nice bit after the end credits.


Lauren’s two cents

This movie is fun. Go to it for a laugh, but turn off your critical censor first. I haven’t laughed so much in a movie for a long time, and the funny bits made the annoying Keira “I have only one facial expression and like to clench my teeth” Knightely scenes easier to forgive. A great way to spend a Saturday night, as long as you don’t pay too much attention to the plot.

Sunday, 27 May 2007

Run of DOOM minus four weeks

The half-marathon is in four weeks time. Unfortunately, my “training” over the past two weeks has consisted of little more than carrying around my running gear and talking loudly about the runs that I might hypothetically do. Until yesterday, over the last two weeks I had eaten a greater number of chocolate bars than I had run kilometres, which would have been great if I was training for a chocolate-eating competition.

Yesterday, though, Tane dropped me off at Scorching Bay and said he wouldn’t return with the car until I had gone for a decent run. That was the push I needed to change my running to chocolate eating ratio. By the time he rolled back to get me I had struggled around the 12 km Miramar Peninsular, the farthest I have ever run. Yay! The Chocolate Fish café at the end has never had a more grateful customer. Pity I was so shagged during most of the run that my eyes were fixed on the white line on the side of the road rather than the stunning scenery.

Today, I feel like someone has replaced my limbs with cardboard planks. The more I run, the more certain I am that I have the natural running ability of a cardboard box filled with custard pies. I am enjoying it though, especially learning how to do something that has intimidated me ever since the wobbliness of puberty set in.
Just a note: despite my "training", I doubt I will ever attempt a chocolate eating competition. I was in a banana eating competition when I was 13 and never want to experience an eating competition of any sort ever again.

Saturday, 19 May 2007

Mum's Wedding

On Thursday evening, my sisters and I invaded West Auckland. To quote Bryn (Philippa's boyfriend) and seconded by Tane "I always find it remarkable how quickly the decibel levels rise when those four are together." Not that any of us actually heard him say that - we were too busy being noisy. Tane had to tell me the next day about it. This weekend, though, we had a good reason to be excited and noisy. There were you tube videos featuring Justin Timberlake and a box with a hole in. There were bottles of Coke Zero. There were stories about Philippa teaching me about the birds and the bees when she was at kindy. There were dodgy jokes about Brad Pitt. And, our Mum was getting married to Ray.

The wedding was fantastic. They got married in a quarry somewhere near a motorway (sorry, I cannot do any better than that describing Auckland geography), and we had a lovely buffet lunch on the other side of the aforementioned motorway. It was great - low key, fun, and really good to see Mum getting married to someone that is clearly so good for her. The cake was pretty good too. My sisters made it, and I helped by picking at the chocolate. Mmmm.

So, now our family's a bit bigger - Mum and Ray have become the Mike and Carol of their own Brady Bunch, albiet a less wholesome version. They have five daughters, two sons-in-law, three more boys for Ray to ask when they will be his sons-in-law, one very cute granddaughter, and an entire managerie of cats. This photo is of us all, hanging out in the quarry.

And this is Chloe, my now neice. So cute. Ray has told us that he wants an entire rugby team of grandkids. We would rather just have enough play Family Von Trapp and dress them in curtains.

Monday, 14 May 2007

A shameless plug for Wellington

Back in early 1980, I was born in Wellington and lived in the area for the next 9 years. Despite growing up here, when I re-moved to Wellington in late 2003 I liked it about as much as I like my alarm clock. As far as I was concerned the wind was a pain, there were too many people marching around in suits, and I especially hated the way that whenever I took a wrong turn while driving I would end up on the motorway. Shudder.

Between now and then, though, I got to love it. I know to always carry a spare hair-tie to keep the wind from turning my hair into a face-whipping lacerator. Tane and I have morphed into suit wearing marchers, especially on Lambton Quay at lunchtime. I even shamelessly wear sneakers with work clothes like a true local. Now we don't have a car, the accidentally ending up on the motorway isn't a problem either. Having said that though, we have ended up in Newlands by accident a few times. Heh.

Yesterday Tane and I were walking through Central Park, enjoying the vibrant colours while avoiding the dangerous looking mud puddles and sodden leaves. We agreed that Wellington is the new black. Also, that while the rest of the world sounds pretty exciting to visit, Wellington is still pretty neat. Why?

1. The views

True, that means hills, and hills mean puffing and pain. The views at the top, though, are awesome. This is the view from our house.

And this is from a hill near Eastborne that we climbed on Waitangi Day. Even though I looked like an angry tomato at the top, it was worth it.

2. The Town Belt. It's pretty cool starting the day walking through here on the way to work.

3. The great vibe. And the culture - neat movie theatres, cafes and shops.

4. Feeling like we're in the centre of the country. Which, in many ways, I guess we are.

5. It's home. This is me and my sisters at Titahi Bay, where we grew up.

In fact, one of my earliest memories is of sheltering from the wind right near this spot. Pretty typical Wellington, eh?

Thursday, 10 May 2007

Lost vs Heroes

At the moment, there are two fabulous programmes on TV: Lost and Heroes. Tane and I are helplessly addicted to both, and I pity anyone that has ever tried to engage either of us in meaningful conversation while either are on. Unless, of course, all they want is a series of grunts in manner of wild boar.

On Stuff not so long ago, I was reading an article about one of these shows and noticed a poll at the side of the screen. The poll asked: which did I prefer?
a) Lost;
b) Heroes; or
c) I don’t watch either.

I couldn’t decide which I preferred. When I told Tane about it, we ended up discussing the issue with an earnestness usually reserved for conversations about such weighty topics as the environment and international relations. Heroes is great, we agreed – fast paced, great characters, mystery, eye candy, excellent concept. Lost is great also, for all the same reasons.

I since decided that I prefer Lost, mainly because it is funnier and the script is snappier. I have more of a soft spot for the characters in Lost also. All of them, in fact, except Kate. Heroes is great, but seems to take itself a little more seriously than Lost does. What do all you TV geeks out there think? For the record, on the Stuff poll Heroes won, although Lost still held its ground.
And while I’m on the topic of entertainment news, is anyone else as pleased as me that Paris got 45 days?

Tane's Reviews: Spiderman Three

With movies, third time is not the charm. In fact, third time is often when the rot sets in. Godfather 3, Return of the Jedi, X-Men 3.

Sadly, this is the case with the Spiderman franchise too. It’s guilty of a common sequel failing – in trying to up the ante above what has gone before, it get bloated with too much plot twists and too many characters.

A pity, because there’s much to like about it. Taken individually, the storylines are strong ones. Peter Parker (Tobey Maguire) is New York’s biggest hero, while girlfriend Mary Jane (Kirsten Dunst, again making the best of a thin role) is in the doldrums. High on his fame, Peter is oblivious to her problems. Things rapidly get worse when a hot classmate of his develops an attachment to Spiderman, old friend Harry Osbourne decides to seek revenge for his father’s death, a competing photographer upstages him and a powerful new villain, the Sandman (the excellent Thomas Hayden Church), appears. Worst of all, an alien substance develops an unhealthy attachment to the webslinger.

To the credit of writer/director Sam Raimi, he manages to keep all these plates spinning in the air for most of these movie. There are injections of humour, the actors do a fine job and the special effects, especially the Sandman ones, are fantastic. The big action scenes do not disappoint, with a berserk crane running the Sandman’s first appearance close for the title of the movie’s best scene.

But the tangle of plots means the movie first loses momentum and then hurries haphazardly into its big finale. There’s one villain too many in this movie, which does a rushed job of bringing all its stories together for a finale that features a couple of wrenchingly corny moments.

Fans, of which I am one, will still enjoy Spiderman 3, but if you did not like its predecessors, do not bother going.


Lauren’s Two Cents:

A Pearl Harbour movie. Great scenes, great costumes, great concept, but the end result is plain old mediocre. Not a waste of money, but not a movie that will be recommended to others either. 6.5/10

When the English language lags

We have been civil-unioned for four weeks now. It’s great – I love being hitched, and things between us are better than ever. Yay!

There have been some interesting reactions to the C.U. as well. The best? Apparently Stephen caught up with an old old friend, and was giving her the low down on the last few years. He said that I’d recently had a civil union, and she responded “What? You’re gay AND Lauren’s a LESBIAN?”

The only thing that perplexes me in any way, though, is the lack of a word to describe what we are. Civil unioned? Cupped? Unionised? Married? They all sound a bit strange or heavy. I am also unsure what to call Tane now. Legally, he’s my civil union partner, not my husband. It feels a bit weak to just call him my ‘partner’, and ‘spouse’ is a little formal. I started calling him my ‘cup’ (Civil Union Partner) until my sister thought I was making a geeky Hitler reference and calling TaneMein Kampf”.

I know that it doesn’t really matter one iota and I love having a civil union. I will be relieved though when the great evolving beast that is the English language gives me a word for what we are. I figure that if the word ‘Do’h’ can make it into the dictionary, it’s only a matter of time.