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Get in the Bin!: The Localised Product Placement in San Andreas

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Product placement is a long, rocky bridge to navigate. It generally pays for a large portion of a film’s production budget, therefore it is a necessary evil. You can only hope that the product placement is subtle and natural to the story being told. Is someone in a movie using an Apple iPhone, using a Dell laptop or wearing Nike shoes? That’s okay, as these brands are a part of our everyday lives as well.

Award: Converse All-Stars Vintage 2004I even have an award I give out for my movie reviews for bad product placement. It is based on an early scene from the Will Smith movie i,Robot where Smith’s character fetishises over his ‘vintage’ (vintage as the movie was set in the future, but the sneakers were currently available at all major stockists) Converse sneakers. The dialogue was clunky, and the product shilling was apparent, and it is these things that drive a viewer directly out of the movie-going experience. It’s reverse movie-magic.

Bad product placement sticks out as it actually looks like an advertisement mid-movie as opposed to harmonious integration. Wayne’s World perfectly skewers the perceived product placement faux pas by tackling it with comic effect (and no doubt paying some bills at the same time):

It’s up to the filmmakers to not throw in brands so gratuitously that it affects the viewing experience of the audience. Michael Bay can’t do this, and he’s the prime example but he’s not alone.

This is the scene!

This is the scene!

This brings me to the recently released disaster movie starring Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson, San Andreas. Without getting into the plot too much, Rocky is an air rescue pilot who finds himself swept up in the middle of an massive earthquake that devastates many Californian cities based on the San Andreas Fault line. There is a scene where Johnson and his estranged wife (Carla Gugino) crash-land a helicopter into an outdoor goods store. Upon leaving the store we get a hero shot of Johnson exiting the flaming wreck to reveal the product placement that caused my neck to whiplash due to the speed of the double-take: that outdoor goods store was Australian retail chain Ray’s Outdoors. (more…)

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The Best Films of 2014

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It’s time to list my favourite films from 2014, a year that was… actually not quite as disappointing as previous years. 2014 was a year where a larger than usual percentage of blockbusters were above average, and some were even great! Of course, it wasn’t all terrific, but I definitely enjoyed more movies than I hated this year, and that makes me one happy film-going guy!

Obvious caveat: I’m a human, and being a human means that I can’t see every movie, so this list features only movies I saw last year. If I saw Whiplash, maybe Whiplash would be on this list. Same goes for Boyhood and Under the Skin. I did see Birdman (it was great), but Birdman didn’t come out in Australia until 2015, so it saw the bin on a technicality.

You got really close: Captain America: The Winter Soldier, The LEGO Movie, Jodorowsky’s Dune, The Skeleton Twins, 22 Jump Street, The Grand Budapest Hotel, Blue Ruin.

Let’s start at 10 with a controversial choice:

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10. They Came Together

The funniest comedy of the year. Director David Wain‘s style is not for everybody, but this was undoubtedly the one movie that made me laugh more than any other. The joke-per-minute ratio is outstanding, but They Came Together makes the cut for being a hilariously clever spoof of the romantic comedy genre. While I was certainly a fan of how much fun 22 Jump Street had with subverting cinematic tropes (Plainview Red Herrings is my favourite gag of the year), and 22 Jump Street was close to taking this spot, but I give the nod to They Came Together simply for the audacity to be as silly as it is.

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9. John Wick

May I follow up a controversial choice with another? On paper, John Wick does not deserve to be on any ‘Best Of’ lists. The logline basically reads, ‘Top hitman Keanu Reeves comes out of retirement to avenge the death of his beloved dog.’ That is a silly premise, but the film is so visually kinetic and self-aware that it was a pure, genuine joy to watch. Against the grain of similar films of previous years, the action is grounded in reality, featuring a lot of close-quarters combat (so many head-shots!), mixed martial arts, and inventive gunplay. First time director Chad Stahelski — a former stunt-man by trade — successfully transforms Keanu Reeves a legitimate badass for the first time in his career, and man, it’s a thing of beauty.

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Five Favourite Birthday Episodes

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To commemorate the creators birthday earlier in the week, and by the creator I mean the high overload of Sorry I’m Late, please enjoy this quick list of of the best birthday episodes in some of his favourite shows. Happy Birthday!

#1. The Simpsons – Stark Raving Dad

When you think of The Simpsons and birthday episodes, the honorary mention will always fall on this memorable episode. While admitted to a mental hospital because of another one of Bart’s shenanigans, Homer befriends Leon Kompowsky who believes he is Michael Jackson incarnate. Leon inevitably helps Bart with a birthday present for Lisa that will last through the ages.

#2. Futurama – I Second That Emotion

Leila and the gang throw a birthday party for the five year old Nibbler, but a resenting Bender flushes Nibbler down the toilet. A distraught Leila and an emotionally crippled Bender swap emotions in order to enlighten Bender on the horrible thing he has done. Caving under the pressure of emotions, Bender goes after Nibbler where we are first introduced to the underground sewer mutants. Enter El Chupanibre.

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6 Classic TV Characters Who Should Have Stayed Dead

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As you may or may not have heard, there’s a rumour doing the rounds on the mill that the presumed dead father of the incest twins and grand papi to the King, Tywin Lannister, may make an epic comeback in season five of Game of Thrones. Whether or not Tywin’s role in the upcoming season will be a resurrection or only in a flashback capacity has yet to be confirmed. In light of this new information, I thought it was fitting to revisit some of those classic TV characters who just should have stayed dead. In case you haven’t already guessed the following has MAJOR SPOILERS from a whole lot of TV shows, so proceed with caution:

6. Lex Luther – Smallville

The dramatic death of Lex Luthor at the end of season seven in Smallville should have been the last hoorah for Lex and Clark. Instead, the series that believe it or not went so far down hill it fell on it rested gently at the bottom after the death of iconic villain Lex Luther and decided, ‘Hey, let’s give him another shot.’ Then after almost three seasons they slowly re-integrated Lex back in to the last season, desperately manipulating a story that would seem only slightly legitimate in explaining Lex’s comeback. This resulted in arguably the worst season of Smallville. Firstly, he should have quit while they were ahead, and secondly, if they didn’t devote the whole season to some convoluted Lex resurrection, it could have actually been a great end to an awesome series.

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Top Five Trashy TV Treasures

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Everyone has their secret trashy TV guilty pleasure, and if they don’t… they’re lying. If you’re in the market for a new bout of entertainment, here’s the most cringe-worthy, craptastic, laugh yourself silly and call them crazy, Top Five Trashy TV Treasures. Grab some friends, some chocolate and the alcohol of your choice and get cosy coz it’s gonna be a long night.

#5 –Toddlers and Tiaras

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Pageant shows are the pinnacle of reality TV. Crazy pageant mums: check. Kids sugar-high tantrums: check. Fierce competition: check. But most of all, the shameless parents lacking any moral or intellectual substance: check! Toddlers and Tiaras has it all rolled in to a bundle of oh-so-wrong entertaining television. Follow new kids every week through their daily pageant routines, spray tan, fake nails, even the odd eyebrow wax to win that Ultimate Grand Supreme title.This show isn’t about watching a child fulfil their pageant dreams, it’s your chance to yell profanities at the brainless parents who are clearly manipulating their children, it’s so bad it’s good. Catch these parental malfunction daily on Lifestyle You.

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San Diego Comic Con 2014: The Collectables to Collect

Luke Miksa's: The Negative Space Bar

While San Diego Comic Con has now become a mixed-medium Mecca of marketing (I will patent that phrase), at the core it is still a place to salivate over all things super-nerdy; in this case I am going to talk about some choice upcoming action-figures and collectables from some of the world’s best toy companies.

Thanks to Toy News International and MWC Toys for this year’s great coverage and photos.

HOT TOYS/SIDESHOW COLLECTABLES

Starting at the most amazing, eye-catching piece on display this year, the Hot Toys booth showed off this amazingly accurate and life-like Marty McFly 1/6th scale figure and scale DeLorean Time Machine from Back to the Future.

*Drool* **Droooooooollll**

*Drool* **Droooooooollll**

As with many Hot Toys releases, the likeness of Michael J. Fox is uncanny, and the attention to detail is unbelievable. He will come with a fabric outfit (including life-preserver!) as well as a host of accessories including his skateboard, walkman, and ‘Save the Clocktower’ flyer. The DeLorean may very well be the nicest release of the iconic vehicle yet, and includes working headlights and a Flux Capacitor that fluxes!

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