Film review of ‘21 Jump Street’ by George Richardson

Film review of ‘21 Jump Street’ targeted for Front Magazine.

Good cop – fat cop go back to school and figure out that their stereotypes have changed, or are still the same, or – what? Review by George Richardson.

Jonah Hill (Superbad, Moneyball) and Channing Tatum (G.I. Joe, Haywire) take their orders from Ice Cube, which they interpret as taking loads of drugs and getting fucked up as much as possible in order to get laid or at least get a job done. This film starts like a high school musical and sprouts some badass facial hair that gets fashioned into a fully grown, exploding beard. It sort of takes the piss out of itself, which the more refined of us might call meta-humour, as it mocks its own genre and in doing so, is just bloody hilarious. A scene towards the end sees them suit up in white tuxedoes and stock up with guns like the matrix followed by gardening. Well in – directors Phil Lord and Chris Miller!

The last time we remember Channing was in G.I. Joe, a role that you could watch in Latvian and still get the gist. This time when he opens his mouth, its like a clamp gently squeezes your bladder, you’ve got pepper in your eyes, and your sides have had the work out of a thousand Olympic squats. He is funny. Jonah Hill – he’s always been funny. He has only been funny. This film sees the characters forced to swap roles but in doing so, Hill tried to pull off being a badass but that sort of reminds us that it’s only a film – he just can’t quite manage it.

There is a surprise cameo that frankly OWNS all others that have ever graced cinema. Of course, we wouldn’t want to ruin it, you actually have to pay to go see it, or download it illegally if you have no money or friends. You’ll know who it is straight away, but you won’t see it coming, unless someone has been mouthing off.  If you’re watching it online, odds are that won’t happen.

What’s most intriguing is an appearance from what can only be described as young Saul Silver from Pineapple Express. Dave Franco is essentially a small clone of his taller, prettier, more successful older brother. You’d be forgiven if at times you’re saying ‘look it’s that guy, from that spider film and the one-where-he-chops-his-own-arm-off!’ He’s just as good though. You watch it and think, yeah, I’ll follow that guy, I bet there’s loads of intricately layered family dynamics and inter-sibling rivalry.

Since our invite to the premier got lost in the post again, we’ll never know. All we can say is this film is sick and makes it look like American cops are somehow socially acceptable. If you don’t like cliché buddy cop movies then that’s fine, but this film knows its cliché. Like a fat kid who doesn’t give a shit and is totally confident; he’s jokes and gets all the girls. With the wise words of Ice Cube – “embrace your stereotype!” Couldn’t agree more you angry, black, heroic bastard!

ENDS

Word Count: 506

Comments: The language used in Front magazine often incorporates dramatic devices such as swearing and follows patterns that mimic conversational English rather than neat text. Baring in mind the target audience, despite some offensive language in this review, it does have a market and I feel it does adhere to the Front readership and editorial context.

Marvel Avengers Assemble (2012, Joss Whedon, Marvel Studios). Review by George Richardson.

Film Review of The Avengers Assemble targeted at the Guardian Online.

If you managed to miss all or any of the five blockbusters that lead up to this, perhaps the most ambitious comic book movie of all time, this film and this review are not for you.

The most important thing to understand about Marvel Avengers Assemble (or The Avengers, as it is known across the rest of the world) is that it is a film for the fan boys, by the fan boys. With Marvel Studios now at the helm of most major comic book films, we have been spoiled with silver screen super heroes that are not only true to their interpretation on the pages but also enriched by consistently quality casting and directing, and Joss Whedon is truly the geekʼs geek and leaves his signature firmly on this most highly anticipated of features.

Much of the films humour is derived from the witty and occasionally hostile interaction between the reluctant teammates. Downey Jrʼs now iconic Tony Stark and his casual undermining of authority makes for some excellent Whedonesque banter with the order- following a well-regimented Captain America played by a stern Chris Evans. As Chris Hemsworthʼs Thor and Mark Ruffaloʼs Hulk meet their match in each other, Scarlett Johanssonʼs femme fatale Black Widow holds her own alongside fellow non-super hero Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) and Samuel L Jacksonʼs Nick Fury and together they bring their skills to the table to challenge Tom Hiddlestonʼs brilliant yet manic Loki as he threatens the safety of the planet.

After watching the lead-up films it is fair to expect a heaping portion of awe-inspiring super- heroics from Marvel Studios, and there is no lack of high-octane action sequences over the 140 minute run time. It would be irresponsible to put a single moment up on a pedestal, too much pressure and responsibility for this writer, what with such an array of high calibre moments to consider; Thorʼs less than sparkling first impression on Iron Man and the Cap, Bruce Banner with the revelation that he is, in fact, “always angry”.

But surely the Avengerʼs greatest moment is when they pull together for the first time to rescue the plummeting Helicarrier. How can anyone watch without wide-eyes and triumphantly clenched fists as Thor subdues the wild and reckless Hulk as he threatened to become as much a threat as that cheeky God Of Mischief, or Iron Man as he used his rocket powered suit to manually spin the sabotaged propeller, or Captain America as he relentlessly disposes of Lokiʼs possessed minions?

With Marvel Avengers Assemble, Whedon has taken the elements of those previous films, starting with 2008ʻs Iron Man, that paved the way for this hyped up juggernaut of super hero cinema, and put them together in a way that satisfies the hardcore fans. He ultimately entertains the newcomers and brings the Marvel Cinematic Universe into an exciting new chapter. Bring on Avengers 2!

Marvel Avengers Assemble is released in cinemas on April 12 in the United Kingdom.

ENDS

Word Count: 500

Blowing Wind Out Of The Water

Article aimed for The Economist.

Can new wave energy devices usurp the rise of offshore wind farms? Words by George Richardson

Just off the south coast of Cornwall, in Falmouth docks, there is a trial device that, even though it is a scale model, takes up a quarter of a dry dock the size of two Wembley football pitches. After completion it will be floated out to a test site in Falmouth Bay where it will be monitored for its performance, its potential flaws, and its ability to cope in live conditions.

Ocean Power Technology (OPT) is the company that is pioneering this new type of wave point energy module, dubbed Powerbuoy. Charles Dunleavy, CEO of OPT said in an interview with Bloomberg that, “Wave power is such a dense form of energy, it’s about a thousand times more dense than wind energy.” He stated that, “90% of the time we have waves that we can harness. We are squarely competitive with offshore wind as far as price and at 15 cents per kilowatt hour, it’s actually less expensive that some solar plants too.”

It appears that although 90% of waves that can be harnessed, the technology is yet to advance to the level where these waves can be used efficiently. Dr. Helen Smith of Exeter University, an expert on wave modelling, explained that these wave devices need very specific conditions in which to operate. “A device will be designed to a particular type of sea state.” She explained that devices need to calibrate to various wave periods and heights in order to optimise power production output but this can be challenging. “It’s not necessarily easy to quickly be able to change those properties.”

Still, there could be more benefits to wave energy production than statistics. Peter Child, MD of AP Group in Falmouth, the company responsible for the manufacture of this trial device, explained that a working version of the device would be a potential rival for the wind turbine industry. “They have a much lower visual impact than wind turbines and could be placed closer to shore. It makes them easier and more accessible for things like maintenance and installation.”

Despite their optimism, the technology is not yet ready. The company launched their first trial off the coast of Scotland in 2011. It was a full-scale model but it was not connected to the national grid and could only provide data of potential power production. The device being built at Falmouth docks will be sent out to the FAB Test site to gather further data on the wave spectra.

There are two facilities on the South coast of Cornwall.  FAB Test, which is a ‘nursery’ site for scaled devices that do not produce power for the grid and that are under observation for further development. This is the one found just out of Falmouth Harbour. The other, larger trialling facility called Wave Hub can host up to 25 fully functioning wave energy devices, off the beaches of Hayle. The Wave Hub site is particularly important with regards to the development process of wave energy devices since there is an onshore transformer where the devices can be connected to sell energy back to the National Grid.

OPT will conclude their FAB Test trials by the end of 2012 and have stated that a fully commercial model of their Power Buoy device should be ready for deployment before 2013 at the Wave Hub site. If successful, the company estimates an annual generation of renewable energy of 13,800 megawatt hours.

The coalition government launched the Renewable Obligation scheme whereby it subsidises the expense and balances the need for developing renewable energy firms to provide investors with long-term financial certainty. Ofgem regulate the allocation of ROCs, (Renewable Obligation Certificates) where every megawatt hour (MWh) of eligible renewable electricity generated receives a ROC. These certificates can be ‘cashed in’ to Ofgem as demonstrations of a companies compliance with the obligation and so the more power a single device makes through renewable energy, the more of a premium a company can accrue to offset the enormous initial investments required in starting up renewable energy devices.

The sooner a competitor company begins producing electricity, the sooner they can capitalise on the government incentives. This makes the Wave Hub site near Hayle a competitive staging platform as rival renewable firms scramble to get their devices functioning.

Dunleavy appeared to appreciate potential rivals. During his interview he said, “we would welcome them and we want to see more of them. We know that this could be a billion dollar industry. We’re not going to realise the full potential of wave energy until we have a larger scale of activity.” It is evident from the OPT website that the company is keen to be “one of the first to install a working device at Wave Hub.”

Readiness is the crux of the problem for wave energy advancement. David Haverson, an associate research fellow for Exeter University, specialising in wind energy development, explained that the OPT devices are not imposing any risk of a miraculous uprising in the renewable energy sector. “These devices are far from ready. Granted that the technology works and in theory they could be viable assets to the country’s goals of achieving 50% renewable energy by 2030.” He went on to explain how there are specialised seagoing vessels that have been built and customised to pile in the foundations for offshore wind turbines. “That sort of infrastructure just doesn’t exist for wave energy.”

Although many of the wave devices have been tested and produced some promising results, the catch appears to be that without significant and rapid investment into the fledgling industry, the wave renewable energy sector is likely to remain static for quite some time. Haverson pointed out, “renewables as a whole is one of THE highest risk areas you could possibly invest into but only because investments on the scales that are sought after require sold estimates and returns. Its just too new for those predictions.” He added, “It costs tens of millions to develop a single prototype.”

Despite the slow development, if the devices are working and if each test is successful then there will be investors based on even limited results. The ROCs incentives will ultimately aid a project’s development and eventually we may see whole arrays of working wave point module devices producing power to the grid. Even so, the government’s goal of reaching 50% of renewable energy by 2050 will require a combined effort of every natural resource that our country has. Dr. Smith said that “in the UK, by the end of 2010, wind, wave and tidal combined produced 10 terawatt hours… Wave and tidal combined actually only produced 0.01% of that total.”

ENDS

Comments; Although only a short article, this required securing extensive interviews with specific specialists in order to depict an accurate portrayal of events. I could not get hold of any representatives of OPT and so used an interview posted on their website that essentially covered all the aspects that I needed to know. The original content of this article is reflected in the choice of opposing viewpoints from the various professionals. I will also admit that this article is fairly boring but I needed to pad out the negotiated portfolio with some more substantially researched and informed topics rather than just film reviews and articles about hats!