A Failed Review – Shackleton

Thursday 17 January, 2013

It was a dark and stormy night. The winds were howling, the rain was peltering and reverberating against the windows, and the temperature was bitterly cold.

Luckily we have central heating, so it wasn’t too long until that last point no longer bothered us.

Anyway, so, I came to add Shackleton on to my LoveFilm list through my Paul McGann catalogue. It’s obviously not part of my Classic Movie Quest, so this excuse for a review won’t be all that comprehensive.

Here’s what I was expecting:

An early 20th century voyage told with accuracy and finesse fit for such a true story. A tightly executed narrative and quality acting the directors of Master and Commander would be envious of. And Paul McGann.

Here’s what I found:

An early 20th century voyage told with some accuracy and embellishments fit for a dramatic reading. A decently executed narrative that was somewhat spoiled by subplots, quality acting from very good but not very high billed actors. And no Paul McGann.

There’d been a mix up on the LoveFilm site. Paul McGann was listed in the credits instead of his brother Mark, who played Second Officer Tom Crean.

My biggest problem with this “film”, is that it’s actually split into two parts, in the same way the Hallmark miniseries version of The Titanic is. The acting is very good, a very high standard from all of them. The budget must have been a brilliant one because the camera work was excellent, the quality of the film was excellent, the scenic shots were amazing and I’m not actually sure the actors didn’t end up stranded in the south pole for real. I’ve seen a lot worse when it comes to mini series.

But the subplots and slow beginning almost made me give up before it really got started. I understand there must have been a back story to show how Shackleton got established again, what exactly drove him to go on a second expedition… but at the same time, I was hoping for something a bit more like Master and Commander (I don’t know why and I blame myself for the notion) where we’d get the backstory as the movie went on, rather than see half of the backstory on screen and build up from there. Because that took up about a good 50 minutes at the beginning, and the film overall is 3 hours and 15 minutes long, approximately.

And then there’s the affair. I didn’t know much beyond the basics of Shackleton before watching this film, but I didn’t know anything about an affair with an “up and coming” actress. A bit of a google later, and I can’t find anything about an affair outside of this production. If that was a way to show that his home life was in shambles, I feel like it’s a bit of a cheap shot. We saw glimpses of his home life, was that really needed to drive the point home? Or was it put in for a bit of a dramatic flair? To give it a bit more of a hollywood feel, maybe?

The last twenty minutes, though, that’s where I was sat on the metaphorical edge of my proverbial seat. The men were split up into three groups, their desperation was believable. All that they went through in the latter half of the film, especially those last 20 minutes, was what I imagine a failed expedition to be like. But they didn’t give up, as is historically accurate.

Shackleton didn’t give up, and the rest of the men had no choice but to survive one day at a time whilst they waited. And the film showed that brilliantly. The actors really did the real men justice.

Which is why I’d recommend this film/mini series. Because it is good, when it comes to the important parts.

It’s just got a few parts that are superfluous in the long run that people might want to fast forward through.

The Terrible Twos!

Thursday 22 November, 2012

Happy Birthday To Me
Happy Birthday To Me
Happy Birthday to I Once Was a Twenty-Something Journalism Student!
Happy Birthday To Me


Now, like I said last year, it’s not actually my birthday, it’s the blog’s birthday. Two years ago today, I started this blog so that I could throw all of my journalistic-styled stuff somewhere that didn’t belong on my personal blog. This year has been a bit of a stop-start station, because of that project that took up my free time, health problems and all the rest in between.

I had planned to get going again in October, but health problems got in the way and continue to get in the way. It was a miracle I was able to stick with Asexuality Awareness Week, and even then you’ll notice the absence on the wednesday.

But here marks the start of a new year, on the blog’s 2nd birthday.

It’s been a good two years so far, and despite all obstacles that might get in the way, I don’t plan to abandon ship just yet.

So here’s to many more years filled with asexual awareness, disabled awareness, your run of the mill ramblings, reviews that may or may not actually qualify as reviews and so much more.

You’ve been a good reader and I’ve been A Failed Journalist!



Saturday 30 July, 2011

I shall tell you all a story… with no twist in it’s tale whatsoever.

No. This tale practically goes nowhere, and barely highlights any points, morally or otherwise, i’d even attempt to make.

I once had a friend who liked Paul Bettany. For those who don’t know who that is, he’s an actor. IMDB him. She liked him a fair amount, but not obsessively so. She had your average fangirl-esque crush on him, without the wall sized posters on the walls. Whenever she mentioned him, I’d repeatedly ask “And who’s that again?”.

She’d reply “He’s the guy in Wimbledon!” and I’d just kind of look at her, sometimes doing the plane-over-the-head motion with accompanied sound affect. I’m not one for RomComs. Then sometimes she’d say “He was in A Knight’s Tale! He was the naked one!”

Which, if I didn’t already have it down in my “No” pile, pretty much secured it’s place there. Naked people? Big No for me.

At various points during our friendship, I’d mention a film I kind of liked called Gangster Number 1. “I don’t know who the main guy is, but he’s really blonde!” I’d say. She had no interest in seeing it because, well, British Gangster Films weren’t really her area. Fine by me, I don’t like RomComs.

Shortly before our friendship was well and truly drying up, she put Wimbledon on her computer one night when I slept over, as something we could fall asleep to. I must have seen some of it, because I’m an insomniac and wouldn’t have fallen asleep so early in the film not to remember any of it, but there we have it. I don’t remember any of it. Was he naked in that too? I might have been too traumatised to remember it, if that’s the case.

Either way, I didn’t register the character in my mind and still at that point, the name Paul Bettany meant little or even nothing to me.

Fast forward three years later. For a few years at that point, my parents had raved about a film called Master and Commander. The first time I watched it, I saw a very bad bit in it and took an instant disliking to it. After a while and much insistence from my parents, I read up on it and found that it had quite a lot in common with a favourite series of mine called Hornblower.

In fact it wasn’t just a coincidence, the books were inspired by the book series of Hornblower, and the movie was influenced in the way of set design, costumes and naval interactions that the books didn’t cover, by the television series.

So I watched it a second time. I like Age of Sail, I like Hornblower and i’d already learnt from another film that one bad bit of a movie does not a full opinion make. And, well, I loved it. It is now a firm favourite of mine.

But the second time I watched it, I spent a good twenty minutes wondering where the hell I’d seen the doctor from. I recognised his face a teeny tiny bit but he just looked too different from anything in my memory to put a name to his face. So I IMDB’d him.

Paul Bettany. Did the name ring a bell? Not really, no. I mean there was something there, in the back of my mind, tinkling a little bit, but it was no Fire Alarm. And somehow my mind failed to register the words “Wimbledon” and “A Knight’s Tale” on the list, so my mind was still floundering until I caught “Gangster No. 1”.

Even to this day I still have no Idea how he went from The Super Blonde, Couch Obsessed, Shifty Looking Gangster to The Auburn Haired, Soft Spoken, Gentle Yet Dangerous, Fighting Naturalist, Doctor Stephen Maturin. My mind? It was boggled.

Then I watched the movie again and I was sat there thinking “Paul Bettany…” and suddenly, that name had too many familiar leaves to it in my tree-like brain to only be from Gangster No. 1. Yes, I did like that film, Yes I did mention that film a few times. But there was something more to his name. This is how my mind works.

So I IMDB’d him again and spotted A Knight’s Tale. And then it hit me! I recognised his face from Gangster No. 1, but I knew his name from my old friend! That’s why the name was more of a bigger deal than his face. I never put The Super Blonde Gangster together with the name Paul Bettany, cos I never found out his name. Or if I did, it never registered with me.

Sometimes I am oblivious, it happens.

Fast Forward 8 months later. I happen to be working my way through films that Alan Tudyk is in. Alan Tudyk, of Firefly and Death at a Funeral fame, is in A Knight’s Tale. Well, with a nice mixture of actors such as Alan Tudyk, Paul Bettany and Heath Ledger, and a few years between the first watching and that moment in time, I decided to go for it. I already found a new favourite film in Master and Commander, right? So maybe I was wrong with A Knight’s Tale upon first watch.

More accurately, I was 14 years old and looking forward to either the Summer or Christmas Holidays so much that when the opportunity arose to leave the classroom after the register was taken, I took it and left the room after the first five minutes.

Even by my standards, that’s not giving it much of a chance.

Well, one thing to be noted, Paul Bettany is very much naked a couple of times in that film. Oh, you don’t see much by Offensive Standards, no. Just a little bit too much by my own. If Paul Bettany was a little less naked in that film, i’d give it a 10 out of 10.

Which kind of proves some sort of point. Sometimes, I should listen to my friends when they rave about films (or particular actors from films) I might like. More often than not, they’ll be wrong, but sometimes it’s worth humoring them. And I only say that because in my experience, More Often Than Not, they are wrong. I know what I like and I have no intention of broadening my horizons.

I’ve spent 22 years disliking most RomComs and films where characters are terminally ill. That’s not going to change, because the messages and ideologies of these films equally aren’t going to change. But that’s a rant for another entry.

So yeah. Three cheers for Paul Bettany, IMDB and Friendships of the past.