Best xmas advert

Tommy Cooper
The legacy lives on... with LEGO

I don’t want much television these days, certainly not much “live” stuff preferring to download and watch later, but I have seen the following advert a couple of times. I recognised it as soon as I saw it from sometime many, many years ago. It’s for LEGO and features the voice of the sadly-missed Tommy Cooper.

It’s actually the second old advert I’ve seen being rejuvenated. There’s one with John Cleese for a watch company. That one, though, is wrapped with some up-to-date footage and quotes. The LEGO one is simply the original advert, unaltered.

Except for the prices at the end.


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Bah, humbug!

pound sign £
The true meaning of Christmas - these days anyway

Just so you know you’re at the right blog, my traditional Christmas greeting to you all.

Best wishes to everyone out there. I hope you all get the chance to be with your respective families and enjoy a relaxing day off from the rest of the world. Eat well, drink well and watch a ton of crap telly.

My personal aims today are to watch Little Cuz destroy 3 sapient pearwood‘s worth of wrapping paper, see both my grannies, have a decent bit of scran at my aunt’s and ensure I get to see Dr Who and the last episode of James May‘s Toy Stories.

Don’t forget – Christmas is for children. They’re the single best thing about it. So if you don’t have any to hand, just act like one. With luck, nobody will notice.

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Well, it’s the film of the moment that everyone’s going on about. But does Avatar deserve the hype?

Directed and written by James Cameron, this is the film he’s been trying to make for 17 years. Finally, technology’s caught up with his vision and he’s popped it onto celluloid (by way of a billion computers) where you can view it on the big screen, on IMAX and in 3D.

Plot-in-a-nutshell: Earthlings (all American ones, obviously) invade a planet to mine it dry, only the locals aren’t too pleased. So the invaders drop in a couple of “avatars” – remote-controlled bodies made to look like the locals so that they can try to convince them to, you know, sod off so we can destroy their planet.

Avatar follows a very simple formula right down at the basics. Boy meets girl while pretending to be something he’s not. Boy and girl fall in love. Boy is revealed for what he is. Girl freaks. Boy redeems himself. I saw The Wedding Crashers this week and it’s the same story. With fewer dragons and 6-legged horses. And blue people. And spaceships.

Visually it varies from incredibly impressive to cartoonish. Much as CGI has improved over recent years, character movement is still that little bit jerky or a bit too smooth. It is very difficult, however, to tell where real-life animatronics end and computer-generated stuff begins. The best effects in the film, in my opinion, are the background details. Check out the portable “medical charts” and the data-filled viewscreens. Lovely. And not hugely unrealistic given current “real-world” progress.

It’s also nice to see Sigourney Weaver doing something other than those bloody Orange adverts – which thankfully seem to have finally run their course. I’m impressed that she really doesn’t look any older than she did back in the days of Aliens. Now we have Danny Glover sucking at the big Orange teat and I’m sure I’ll be sick to the teeth of him within three films.

The film is a little too long, but even with the overuse of bioluminescence and cartoony colours does look fantastic. The final battle sequence, covering air and land, runs for around 45 minutes and is nothing short of amazing. Visually, though, I’d still give the edge to Peter Jackson‘s Lord of the Rings trilogy. I guess I prefer dirt and grit to shiny lights.

I will say though, Avatar is very much sci-fi in its purest form. A good, simple story; plenty of action; and a plot that could be used elsewhere without the science. Not the mindblowing genre-defining classic that Cameron was perhaps hoping for, but a very entertaining bit of cinema nonetheless. And also worth seeing in 3D. A shame there’s no convenient IMAX for me – I have a feeling that would be an incredible experience.

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