Tuesday, 10 March 2015

ABC Cinema Chatham: You are missed

It was somewhat of a tradition in the school days; get pocket money or that all-important £20-odd from your paper round and head for the cinema on a Saturday. Not just any cinema mind, that famous, 3-screen forum of glory on the approach to the high street that was ABC Cinema, Chatham. Remember those days...

The preparation
Friday wasn't just the last day of the school week, it was prep day for you and your mates to figure out times and, of course, which film was to be the one your hard-earnt money was to be spent on. Can't remember clearly, but I'm sure tickets would only set you back around a fiver; those were the days...

The pre-munch
This wasn't just a cinema trip, this was a day out with your mates, so a pre-cinema McDonalds was on the cards. Remember, these were the days before Nandos, the mass choice of Dockside restaurants and the larger budget. A McD's was the option before a snuck-in Woolworths Pick N Mix or some trademark ABC popcorn. Hunger wasn't an option.

Queue time
Forget your fancy multiplexes, your big foyers and pre-booked tickets, come rain or shine queuing outside was the only option. The only drawback being the sense of dread when that queue was heading further up that hill after you decided that an extra five minutes in McDonalds would be fine. 

Three screens a charm
It's incredible to think of the multiple screens available in cinema's of today when back in the day our cinema of choice offered up three. Not that it was a problem mind; screen 1 was the palace of blockbuster movies as you head up those lit stairs, while 2 and 3 served up plenty of those rom-coms we couldn't help but love at a tender age. Anyone else remember seeing Get Over It in screen 3 and falling in love with Kirsten Dunst?...

The little details
The fresh smell of popcorn as you walked in, those tiny little ticket stubs you used to find in all sorts of pockets and drawers, the minimal cinema staff and the more limited ticket booths, ABC Chatham was one-of-a-kind and still holds great memories.

I'm sure you all have great memories of the place so please share them in the comments or via Facebook, Twitter and beyond!

Monday, 9 March 2015

Man Of Steel: My Dark Knight of superhero movies

It's somewhat of a fact that whenever I get a glimpse of it on the TV listings or I'm purely out for a superhero movie to fill a spare two hours, Man of Steel is my one-stop solution. For all your Avengers, Batmans and beyond, MoS is the superhero outing that resonates most with me, with its stark ambition, pure scope and ultimate entertainment. 

Of course, many will disagree profusely to my claims that is among - if not the - best superhero offering out there, but allow me to divulge my thoughts and give you a number of reasons why this really is my Dark Knight of the genre. 

You only have to look at Marc Webb's The Amazing Spider-Man and the opinions towards that film to see that recycling an origin story tends to be a risk. With Zack Snyder's Superman rebirth, that risk proved a calculated one as he brought to us a thoroughly realised and refreshed version of Kal-El's first steps to becoming a hero. Most notably, Snyder's showcase of being a true visionary came through his representation of the dying Krypton, a vast, awe-inspiring planet staggering in its scale and exceptional in detail. Needless to say, the cries for a Krypton-focused spin-off movie soon followed. 

The new Clark Kent
There's no arguing that Henry Cavill built up an incredible physique to be rightly considered for the role of Krypton's famous son, but his all-round performance makes for enthralling viewing. Channeling the heroics of his super-powered alien nature, while maintaining that human core with some truly grounded moments, Cavill's Superman is the superhero we all know, but with an added depth we've rarely witnessed. 

The way in which Snyder and his scribe David S. Goyer dealt with Clark's past is one of the most refreshing things about Man of Steel. The growing pains of evolving within a school environment as someone very different from others, the careful mentoring from Earth father Jonathan and beyond, there are some strong flashback sequences ripe with emotion. These make for a wider approach to the nature of Clark Kent and the man he will become.

Multiple nods
Skyfall did it incredibly successful in recent times, as well as many others, but Man of Steel too gave us a handful of neat little Easter eggs and treats throughout its duration, some whetting the appetite for future endeavours. From the little touches such as Sullivan's farm (one for the Smallville fans), the Luthercorp and Wayne Enterprises inclusions, and even a hint of Cavill-Reeve face transformation, this film knows it's fan base and treated us aplenty.

The threat
We all know Kryptonite is Superman's big weakness, so when it was announced it would be left out of MoS there was rightly some questions raised. Thankfully, this was dealt with both intelligently and in a way to keep this new iteration on course and not veering too far away from its source. With that perfectly arranged, the key threat came in General Zod and his followers, with Michael Shannon in suitable dark and dangerous form. While he scowled and stalked his way through a successful villainous venture, there was a superb support act in Antje Traue, proving that women too can hammer home in the villain stakes. I sincerely hope we see more of Faora more in the future.

The bigger picture
One of the qualms many had regarding the film was the mass destruction caused by Supes in his attempts to take down Zod. Personally, I found that this showcased the sheer God-like nature of the Kryptonians, cementing their brutal abilities in some enthralling action sequences. It too proved that Warner Bros and its staff have a long-game in plan, with Superman at the core and his actions consequenting in retaliation (Batman vs Superman being the start). We all know Superman should be saving lives, avoiding destruction etc but clearly this has been utilised in order to play out a much bigger scenario down the line. One can imagine Batman will have something to say about his satellite being destroyed, let alone the levelling of Metropolis. Next year will no doubt put some of the doubters to rest.

There are many more reasons I could go into but for now I think this is a justifiable list to explain why I honestly believe Man of Steel among the best in the superhero stakes. Agree or disagree it would be great to get your views.