Monthly Archives: July 2005

Flame on!

I liked the Fantastic Four comics – the original ones. Indeed I once owned an issue from the early sixties, bought at a comics fair in the late seventies. I remember it cost me £20. I later sold it to my cousin for £25, possibly to fund a skateboard purchase. I forget.

We used to skateboard down a newly tarmacked slice of road near our school, not too far away from where we lived.

Anyhoo. To the film, which we saw last Thursday if you’re taking notes.

Anyone expecting the film to be anything other than a by-numbers summer superhero blockbuster will be disappointed. They take liberties with the origin story, but then that always happens – and Marvel does it too by rebooting and alternative universes and so on.

There is, thankfully, little in the way of schmaltz – at least relative to recent films (yes, I’m talking about you, Spielberg). Ioan Gruffudd, last seen by me as a surprise celebrity guest in The Play What I Wrote, does a plausible accent but his other acting muscles had a few weeks off, not required. Jessica Alba, blah. Julian McMahon as Victor Von Doom chews scenery as directed. Chris “Human Torch” Evans (as opposed to Chris “Big Breakfast” Evans) seems to spend a great deal of the early part of the film topless, a practice I for one welcome.

Apart from Torchy my other favourite character from the comics was Ben Grimm, The Thing. I don’t recall running round the playground shouting “it’s clobbering time!” and generally being very heavy (I did run round shouting “flame on!” and burning people’s shoes with a magnifying glass), but there was something about The Thing that appealed in the comics. Possibly it was the constant bickering with Torchy, or the fact that he was the most complex character of the bunch. Most likely it was the hat and the trenchcoat. Which make it into the film, I’m glad to say. Michael Chiklis, who plays Ben Grimm in the film, and who I’d never heard of, does pretty well. A shoo-in for Best Actor in a Rubber Suit at next year’s Oscars.

My mate Stan Lee makes his usual cameo, with lines. Our geek-infested preview audience chuckled knowingly. I said “I’ve met him, you know,” out loud. No I didn’t, but I thought about it for a microsecond.

I can confirm that the film rose above my notoriously low-hanging enjoyment threshold. Chris thought it was rubbish, but then he does have the A level.

Avaragado’s rating: four packets of crisps (assorted flavours)


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Got back this morning from a long weekend with the gang at CenterParcs in Elveden Forest, which sounds a much more pleasant holiday destination than “Thetford”.

I have discovered a number of things:

  • I quite like archery. But not enough to take it up as a hobby.
  • My back is more resilient than I thought it was. Over the weekend I have gone down “rapids” (glorified water slides) and taken part in other sundry chlorinated water-based activities; I have also bowled, arched, badmintoned, table tennised, “adventure” (crazy) golfed and snookered, with no apparent problems.
  • I can, in fact, beat Chef at something sporting – table tennis.
  • CenterParcs restaurants need prodding to take your order, seem unable to serve chilled white wine, and apparently have a single communal wine cellar. I think this is linked to the restaurants by a vast underground tunnel mechanism dug by ex-Vietcong militia.
  • Ducks, like vampires, cannot come into your house unless given permission.

My photos are up already, and so are Lynda’s photos (she’s also blogged it). I’m sure that Chris and Melanie’s photos will be along any minute, and Andy’s photos soon. Chef takes lots of photos but we never see them. I think he just deletes them when he gets home.

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At 12.49pm today I was sitting in my car, listening to the radio, as IOC president Jacques Rogge made the announcement.

To say I was surprised is one hell of an understatement. I’ve spent the afternoon shaking my head in disbelief.

Like losing on penalties to the Germans, it was inevitable that Paris would get the Olympics. London was destined to be runner-up, plucky losers, etc.

But not this time. God, I hope we don’t cock it up.

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Battle of the Planets

We went to see Spielberg’s War of the Worlds on Friday night, preceded by the traditional Zebra pub grub.

Tom Cruise is an unconvincing immature divorced parent, just as he is an unconvincing fiancé of Katie Holmes. Cruise’s role should have gone to Tim Robbins, though the latter does have a nice line in crazed loons in cellars. Cruise just looks like he’s pretending not to be a Hollywood star; Robbins can actually act.

Dakota Fanning is pretty good – it’s not a Spielberg SF film without a competent child actor. Sadly, it’s not a Spielberg SF film without a couple of tons of sugar either, generously applied.

Happily this ain’t Independence Day, and Cruise doesn’t become a superhero who saves the planet. For that, we give thanks.

Avaragado’s rating: two bottles of red wine.

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