I saw Watchmen the other night. On an IMAX screen, which was a treat. I enjoyed it. I’ve not read the comic. Someone, somewhere is going nuts now. Graphic novel! Graphic novel! Well, I haven’t read that either. But surely nothing can compete with a big blue nuddy man on an Imax screen, no matter how great the comic is. If only he’d put on some pants the film could possibly have got away with a 15 certificate (ok, ok, I know, there’s near rape, and a man covered in chip oil… but you get that in your average Pixar offering these days). It just seems a shame to prevent the audience who’ll most enjoy seeking a latex clad Silk Spectre kick mens teeth out, ie. 15 year old boys, from seeing the spectacle.

Enough of that though. This isn’t meant to be a review. No, it’s more than that. The film takes place in the mid 80’s; a time when the world became a big bloated corporation and everyone lived in fear of being destroyed by the WMD’s of the day- nuclear weapons. The Watchmen of the title are a group of “superheroes” who aren’t all that super. They’re essentially impotent thugs (well, at least Night Owl), who have to dress up and be uber-violent to get their kicks. And, understandably, they’ve become a bit unwanted and redundant. But they team up again, and as the world heads towards destruction, they do their damndest to sort things out. Any more information and I’ll spoil it for you. And, as I said, this isn’t a review. All of this is a prelude to a most pressing question- why has Planet Hollywood closed?

Planet Hollywood! A restaurant owned by our very own 80’s superheroes. Three men who had to dress up and be uber-violent to get their kicks. One in metal and leather, laying down the “la-aw” as Judge Dredd, another in shiny metal as an anti-superero who makes the Comedian look as dangerous as Bernard Manning (which is still, let’s face it, pretty dangerous), namely The Terminator, and the third in a dirty vest as John Mclaine. Ok, not quite as impressive, but he did have the best catchphrase- take your pick; Yippee-kay-aye motherfucker (if that’s too much for you try the rather odd sanitised version- yippee-kay-aye Kemo Sabi). Superheroes three- Sylvester Stallone, Arnold Schwarzenneger, Bruce Willis.

Like the Watchmen, once their stars began to wane they had little choice but to slowly disappear from their superhero onscreen lives. But everyone’s got to earn a living. That’s why they got into the restaurant business. You could often see them in the kitchens of Planet Hollywood, flipping burgers and wise-cracking with each other; “Hasta la pasta”, “I’ll be back… in the kitchen”, that kind of thing.

And now Planet Hollywood has gone, only to become a repository for teddy bears in bearskins and reflected glories of non-ass kicking Mamma Mia melodies. The credit crunch? I think not. Times ahead are going to be tough. And when the going gets tough, and us mere mortals can’t stand the heat, that’s when the tough get out of the kitchen. Welcome back boys!



Seven Pounds

January 7, 2009


I went to San Francisco for the day yesterday. Here I am as the train pulls into Sunnyvale station at 8.13am. Once in San Francisco, it rained and rained. Or rather, drizzled. It left me with no appetite for trooping around, or even taking any pictures. I considered a trip to SFMOMA (the Museum of Modern Art) but again, my heart wasn’t in it.

So after doing my best for a while, I gave up and went to the pictures. I went to see Seven Pounds.

Is Jonathan Ross back on yet? Has he been forgiven? Let me get in with my Film 2009 review ahead of him, if I can. Let me get in ahead of Seven Pounds being released in the UK. Has it been released yet? I hope not. I like to think I’m ahead of the game.

Years ago, I used to come to the States and see films months before they came out in the UK. I’d come home and show off, like a kid from the future. Sometimes months would go by before my friends could be as hip as me. I remember seeing The Quantum of Solace in Boise, Idaho in 1977, when smooth-talking Roger Moore was James Bond. By the time it was released in the UK, in 2008, Roger had left the movie, replaced by the thuggish Daniel Craig.

Years and years and years ago, when I was a child, the film process was even slower. If you missed a movie at the pictures (or a picture at the movies) you had to wait five years for it to show up on TV. Now, it’s out on an illegal terrorist-funding DVD before it’s even been written.

The world is speeding up and we’re all racing towards death.

So, where was I? Oh yes. Seven Pounds and my attempt to swipe the Film 2009 gig from under Mr. Ross’ nose.

Seven Pounds is a bit like Mamma Mia. You’re either going to go with it, or you’re going to go against it. I went with it and cried and cried.

That’s it really. That’s my review. Unless I go ahead and spoil it for you.

I am going to write one more thing, and if you think you may go and see Seven Pounds, look away, because whilst it’s not quite a plot spoiler, it is a kind of plot teaser, and it’s may be best to go along and see the film without a clue.

Here goes. You wait an age for a Will Smith film to come along where he shares a bath with a non- human life form and then two come along at once. That’s it. Go on Will, do a third and make it a real bus story.

In I am Legend Will shares a bath with Sam, his dog. If you haven’t seen I am Legend, and if you’re thinking, that’s not a film for me, give it a go, it might surprise you. And Sam’s side of the story will have you in tears.

Hmm, perhaps I cry too easily at Will Smith films.

Two dogs, SF, 2006

Two dogs, SF, 2006