This week in history: 13th – 19th January

Image is a still from the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Jim Carrey is shown wearing a jazzy shirt with his hands out wide.
Image is a still from the movie Ace Ventura: Pet Detective. Jim Carrey is shown wearing a jazzy shirt with his hands out wide.

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The 17th of January 1962 saw the birth of the most manic and immature Hollywood comedian of all time, Jim Carrey. With notable roles in such films as Bruce Almighty, The Mask and Ace Ventura: Pet Detective, Jim Carrey is often seen having a great time on screen, pulling faces and making jokes.

Georges Melies, one of the first magicians to bring magic to the theatre died on January 19th 1932. Georges made over 500 short films and movies with A Trip to the Moon being the most notable. He died forgotten and in poverty.


The game adaptation isn’t always as good as the movie

Image shows a screenshot of the video game, E.T The Extra Terrestrial.
Image shows a screenshot of the video game, E.T The Extra Terrestrial.

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Do you ever find that a brilliant film leaves a gap behind and you’re left wanting more? Video game adaptations should fill that hole but unfortunately they aren’t always what you’re looking for. Often the video game following the movie doesn’t live up to its silver screen counterpart. After all, what is seen as the worst video game ever made was in fact, a movie tie in game.

E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial for the Atari 2600 was initially believed to become a very successful game, achieving high sales figures due to the connection with the film when it was released in December. But the E.T video game was a commercial failure with very few units sold. Why did it do so badly?

Initially planned to be an innovative companion to the movie, E.T. the Extra-Terrestrial tasked players with moving the titular protagonist from a top down perspective through a variety of levels in order to locate pieces of a phone. Funnily enough, the objective of the game is to phone home.

Set back by poor controls and sub par graphics of the time, E.T. just didn’t sell as expected. Many believe it was a contributing factor to the video game industry crash in 1983, where there was a surplus in video game cartridges and consoles, the market was saturated. The unsold copies of E.T. are rumoured to be buried in New Mexico, as Atari had nowhere to store the cartridges.

Edit: The copies of E.T. have been found in Alamogordo, New Mexico after a recent excavation according to video game website, Kotaku.

Clearly, this didn’t set the bar high for video games that are tied in with movie releases. Since then, many of the games that have centered on recently released movies and typically, haven’t done all that great. Catwoman on the PlayStation 2 for instance, was atrocious, marred with clunky animations and god awful game mechanics. In the game, the character model barely resembled the lovely Halle Berry.

Movie tie in games have a (often true) reputation that they are rushed in order to coincide with the release of the movie. The big wigs tend to see them as cash grabs, something they can make some quick, easy money from, regardless of the quality.

However, not all video games that are tied with movie releases are bad. There are a few that are generally fairly entertaining and worth a mention. Spiderman 2 for the PlayStation 2 and original Xbox coincided with the release of Sam Raimi’s Spiderman 2 movie. The game allowed players complete freedom of exploration of New York City, with really well-crafted web swinging mechanics. Spiderman 2 the video game showed us that it’s certainly possible that movie video games can be done right, if care and attention is applied.

Image shows a screenshot of the video game, Spiderman 2

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Whilst you’re more than welcome to pick up a movie tie in video game, I recommended to make sure that you don’t go head first into your purchase and do your research beforehand! Check reviews from video game websites and others who have played the game. You don’t want to be spending your hard earned money on another game like E.T.

Events, offers and releases 13/1/14

the image features a still from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. In the image, Leonardo DiCaprio is being pushed away by a beautiful woman.
the image features a still from the movie The Wolf of Wall Street. In the image, Leonardo DiCaprio is being pushed away by a beautiful woman.

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This week there are two notable film releases, one’s set to scare you and the other will make you laugh.

The 16th January sees the release of Devil’s Due, a horror movie directed by Matt Bettinelli-Olpin. The film surrounds the events of the birth of a demonic baby, with plenty of frights and horrific moments ensuing.

For something a bit more light hearted, The Wolf of Wall Street hits cinemas on the 17th January and stars the ever popular, Leonardo DiCaprio. The Wolf of Wall Street is based on a true story of Jordan Belfort, an eccentric stockbroker who likes to do crazy things with his money.

In terms of offers, there’s currently a promotion going on over at for two Cineworld tickets for just £11, so if you’re planning on going to the cinema this weekend, make sure to bring a friend and make best use of this offer.

Events, offers and releases 06/01/14

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Pictured is the poster for the upcoming release of walking with dinosaurs 3D.

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The Golden Globes 2014 will return this Sunday, with Jennifer Lawrence, Leonardo DiCaprio and Bryan Cranston all expected to sweep up the main awards before next months Baftas, closely followed by the Oscars in early March.

Mark Wahlberg’s new film Lone Survivor, which tells the story of four US Navy Seals on an ill-fated mission in Afghanistan, is due for release on Friday and has already been highly recommended by critics.

And finally, Vue cinema are offering a free kids ticket to families attending showings of Walking with Dinosaurs: The 3D Movie, which will be redeemable from Sunday 12th January until Thursday the 27th February. For more info visit the “MyVue” website here.

How is Gustav Holst still inspiring modern movie composers today?

Pictured is the composer Gustav Holst
Pictured is the composer Gustav Holst

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The English composer Gustav Holst is still inspiring modern movie composers today, almost 100 years after his death.

Gustav Holst is most well-known for his orchestral suite, Planets that featured five dramatic movements focusing each on a planet in our solar system, Mars, Venus, Mercury, Saturn and Jupiter. These movements have inspired many movie composers since, and in many ways the score has made its way into a majority of modern film.

For instance, the rhythmic ostinato featured in Gustav Holsts’ Mars is heavily featured in the final scene of Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope. The concluding act sees Luke Skywalker firing his proton torpedo into the exhaust port of The Death Star, with a dramatic sequence ensuing. During this time, the score crescendo’s, becoming louder and louder, building tension. This dramatic composition is almost identical to that of Gustav Holst’s Mars, a piece written in 1919.

John Williams, the composer for Star Wars was actually told by George Lucas himself to make the score for the scene equal to that of Mars. We could talk about John Williams ‘using’ pieces from other composers another time, that can certainly be a separate discussion altogether.

Digging deeper it’s found that there a huge selection of movies that feature Gustav Holst’s work fairly heavily, many composers at the very least drew inspiration from Holst’s Planets. The Alien franchise (most notably Aliens) features a variation of the score during the scene where Ripley fights off the Alien queen with a powerloader. Other notable mentions include Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home, The Terminator, Predator and the fairly iconic Inception soundtrack.

There’s undoubtedly a pattern here, almost all the films that use this score fall within the science fiction genre.

Mars is certainly a fitting score for science fiction films in general. The piece was written with the titular planet in mind and was featured in the orchestral suite Planets, which included movements for other planets such as Venus and Mercury. Not to mention the fact that Mars was also titled, “The bringer of War”. Clearly, Gustav had science fiction in mind from the start.

Gustav Holst can be seen as unintentionally being one of the greatest movie composers of all time, inspiring many film scores of the last 50 years.