The Call Up – Review

Gaming is often a misperceived by the major publications. The influx of violent game play and real life implications have been a hot topic for years. The idea that you could rampage on with believable graphics and shoot life-like things but then separate it from reality is baffling for some people. The grip of those unable to see the escapism of gaming have imposed strict propaganda and calling it fact. Truth be told, people can play video games without turning into killers and can separate computers from the real world.

However, if you were presented with a game that immersed you so realistically in modern warfare and you really felt was though you were shooting a gun, would you?

That’s the theme of The Call Up, a brand new science fiction thriller from director and writer Charles Barker. It revolves around a group of online gamers who are invited to try out a brand new virtual reality experience. Excited, the gamers leap on the chance to play state-of-the-art equipment and soon, they are playing in the immersive shenanigans. However, they start to realise that something more sinister is happening. Could the game be real?

Similar to last week’s low budget British sci-fi Kill Command, The Call Up has an interesting premise and starts of phenomenally well. The conflict of modern warfare in popular gaming, especially in a world where the industry relies on killing and shooting games, clearly drives the movie forward. The intriguing and brooding initial narrative allows the audiences to be immersed into this question of how far we can push gaming and how your morals can be thrown into turmoil when the life at the end of your hyper-realistic trigger could actually be real. On these aspects, the actors and the film thrive in a thrilling cinematic product.

But sadly, these interests don’t last and the movie relies heavily on action flick clichés and bounds forward in unoriginality. The film sticks to a one-note story that turns boring as you long for exploration of those leading the charge and despite presenting us with all the moral conflicts, it safe side-steps them without making a clear conclusion. Without stepping out into an edgier and grittier intellectual movie, The Call Up wanes into an explosive and “pretty to look at” movie that is garishly predictable and somewhat dull and that’ll add to your frustration because there are could elements here.

The combination of aesthetics and a team of great actors pull the film away from its downfalls and actually has you enjoying the experience, as average as that may be. What’s disappointing is that the simplistic approach to a complex story, particularly with the character motives, is that the bones of a phenomenal film are there but it’s as though those involved are too afraid to flesh it out beyond the idea. With that in mind, the film is wasted.

However, for science fiction nerds and gamers, the chilling thriller could be worth a watch.


Interview: Ali Cook talks technology, thongs, and The Call Up

Today’s entertainment industry is certainly a balancing act. Many people have to have different talents in order to get buy. Singers turn actors, actors turn directors, directors turn writers, and writers eat scraps of the table.

Jokes aside people can no longer have one bankable skill and must learn to work 25 hours a day to keep up with the speed of the industry.

That’s before you even factor in the technological advances that keep us connected to a world of internet and having to secure a loving online profile for our fans and producers.

So speaking with Ali Cook, a magician, actor, AND writer really solidifies the sentient of having many talents up his sleeve (and a handkerchief too.) To celebrate his performance in The Call Up, a British sci-fi thriller, we spoke with Ali about his upcoming role.

It’s quite busy today,” says Ali a week before the release of this astonishing well-made thriller in which he plays Edward, a gamer called up to play a heavily realistic virtual reality game. “I have press and then I’m flying over to Cannes to do stand-up comedy.”

Oh yes, he’s a stand-up comic too. As a performer, Ali never thought he’d become an actor but he says that the script for The Call Up was too tantalising to refuse. “It was a little bit like those eighties movies such as Tron or War Games that I watched as a kid. I have a soft spot for those films and a film about the world’s best game appealed to that.”

What’s more, the producers of the film had Cook hooked by showing him small teasers of the film which the actor says were fantastic. “It was sensational and unique with really fantastic special effects.”

As aforementioned, Cook plays Edward, a city type turned gaming pro called up to test this highly realistic game. “When people think of gamers, they tend to think of nerds who are madly into computers when there is actually this subsection of guys in suits, working in the city all day, and are then up to three in the morning playing ‘shoot em up games.’ Edward is a character offering an alternate to the stereotype. He’s well-educated, posh, and a city boy that I imagine working in law and very bright. He’s not in for the money. He’s purely in for the comrade.”

Despite playing the role of a gamer, Ali stresses that he isn’t into gaming himself. “I made a decision when I was 17 to move away from gaming because I couldn’t be good at it and be good at magic and comedy at the same time. So I stopped playing.”

The film itself presents so many complex themes including commentary on war and the realism of gaming. “It’s a double edged sword, many people love to it but from the safety of their sofa,” Cook explains as he delves deeper into The Call Up’s narrative. “If it were that realistic, you’d hate it. It brings to light the reality of war, if you really shot someone, and it felt completely real, would you do it?”

When talking about the technology aspect of The Call Up and our own advances, Alli mentions how he feels the conflict is more about the human aspect and how it impacts your morals. “That’s the idea, would you really want to play if it were so hyper-realistic? And I believe that people wouldn’t.  Though it’s a cool how rapidly we progresses the same way 15 years ago, no one would believe you could talk over the phone like Star Trek. Films like the matrix seems so far away and so does the technology in the game. It could be less than ten years away – scary thought.”

Apart from wearing some fetching blue spandex, Ali Cook tells us that he had few difficulties in filming, particularly from the relentless schedule. “It was seven to seven, six days a week, and because it’s a computer game, everyone is in every scene. I’m certainly in the film at every possible moment. Sometimes you’d get a break but you are quickly back into filming.”

But this didn’t stop him from fitting in a gig during filming. “I performed in Amsterdam for a big company Christmas whilst I was there,” laughs Cook. It wasn’t just the schedule that was difficult. “We had to wear a thong and the helmets looked amazing but we’re highly uncomfortable.”

Ali Cook is not relaxing any time soon. He has two films lined up (though he can’t talk too much about them) and will be doing a period gangster film in the autumn, adding for variety to his life. For someone who didn’t initially get into acting, Ali is certainly brilliant at it. “I really enjoy it, and it’s great alongside the comedy world. Soon you are forced to write your own material and comes in very useful for role in a film and with dialogue. I like the idea of being the best you can be.”


Gang Bang – Brand New Trailer!

Being a teen is difficult. Especially when it comes to sex. There is so much pressure bouncing around doing it. Your first time. Your sexual awakening. It’s almost like race and sometimes that pushes you into situations as you struggle to find your own sexual identity.

The film revolves around George, a teen girl who falls in love with Alex. When she tries to vie for his attention, she ends up pushing their limits of sexuality.

French movies about sex and sexuality are not uncommon, take a look at Blue is the Warmest Colour, and Eva Husson’s film looks to capture something poetic about the boundaries of youthful sex and all the intricacies it inspires. Warning. This trailer is NSFW.


The Purge: Election Year – Brand New Trailer!

We all want to kill a politician. I mean, have you seen Donald Trump and Ted Cruz? They are pretty much the devil’s incarnate and, whilst we cannot publically say we’d do anything to them but we can hint heavily that if a loaded pistol was sitting nearby and we could aim, then accidents might happen.

Anyway, we all want to kill the politician and continuing the trend of exploring the inner-workings of our dark thoughts, The Purge is back to cinematically show us that it could be possible.

Oh wait, warn us. Warn us. Apparently.

Anyway, the third film in a franchise we never asked for, The Purge: Election Year (can’t say it isn’t topical) is supposedly the most terrifying chapter yet. And that’s pretty much as close as we got to a plot, except there is an election and people will die. It’s produced by Michael Bay so there isn’t much more you need than the title, this shoddy trailer, and that name to solidify your thoughts!

Seriously, who is producing this garbage and why is it so popular? Do we really have to suffer through a third film that will have an interesting premise but wind up being utterly dry and lifeless? Yes, we do apparently.

God help us all.


Personal Shopper – Brand New Trailer!

Kristen Stewart is oh so better in independent films than she is in mainstream films. In fact, she’s a superbly talented actresses that is let down by the media and the directors she is with. So when you give her an interesting film with an unusual plot, you know she going to transport it into something incredible.

The film revolves around Maureen, a personal shopper, who hates her role and who she works for – the bitchy celebrity Kyra but staying in Paris cost money and she muscles through to live there. However, during the night, she looks for signs from her twin brother who died a few months ago. As Maureen suddenly starts to receive threats, her life spirals out of control.

Met with boos from critics and cheers from audiences, Personal Shopper could be a movie that separates audiences. But this trailer does nothing to squash the fact that Kristen Stewart as one of the more intriguing actresses at the moment.


Ghostbusters – Brand New Trailer!

There are a lot of different reactions to the new Ghostbusters. Some come from the darkest crevices of a sweaty internet loser’s ball sack and some are actually positive. Though the film marks a trend that Hollywood cannot seem to shake – the incessant need to reboot classic films – there is an element about Ghostbusters that is simply unshakeable glee.

For those who have absolutely no idea what Ghostbusters is (of which, I’ll assume that you are a ghost and you need to be busted,) the film revolves around four women who become the titular spectre fighters and try to save New York! Starring Kate McKinnon, Kristen Wiig, Melissa McCarthy, and Leslie Jones, this homage to the original series could be the funniest film of the year!

I don’t care what anyone is saying about this film: I think it looks amazing. Somewhat cheesy, some parts nostalgia, and with some of the world’s greatest comediennes at the core of it. There’s also a lot of intrigue over some of the characters and perhaps they have nefarious alterior motives?

Watch the trailer and see.