Big Ben in film: Top 5

Adam Brannon HeadshotBy Adam Brannon. Big Ben has been standing alongside the Houses of Parliament since 1859 and has become a symbol of the UK’s incredible engineering talents.

So when news broke on August 14th 2017 that its bells would fall silent for four years whilst necessary maintenance was carried out, it was met with a degree of sadness from the British community. In fact, the news was reported across the globe, showing just how important a landmark the clocktower actually is, not just to people living in the UK, but by fans of our history too.

This got me thinking, how many films has Big Ben featured in, and more importantly, has it ever featured in any truly amazing sequences in films well-received by viewers and critics alike. So, with that in mind, I decided to trawl through the archives and count down the top 5 scenes featuring the gargantuan timepiece.

5) Mary Poppins

Mary Poppins at Big Ben

Photo by Disney.

Ah, Mary Poppins. Still to this day it remains one of Disney’s hottest properties. So much so that Emily Blunt is currently filming Mary Poppins Returns, the sequel to the 1964 masterpiece.

Alongside Dick Van Dyke’s dreadful British accent, the film features another UK staple in film, Big Ben. As Julie Andrews’ titular character is gliding along, black umbrella in hand, she flies straight past the iconic landmark in a scene that has become nearly as well-known as the film itself.

4) Peter Pan

Peter Pan at Big Ben

Picture by Disney.

The 50s were good to Disney. They released five of their greatest animated films in that decade alone. With classics like Lady and the Tramp, Alice in Wonderland, Sleeping Beauty jostling for attention, it would take a near-masterpiece to pull focus.

Thankfully, Peter Pan remains one of the best films from the House of Mouse. With stunning animation and a story with real emotional resonance, it’s a must-watch for parents and children alike.

Of course, seeing the main characters standing atop Big Ben and walking along the clock face’s hands is a scene that remains with you even after the film has ended. The backlighting from the clock itself looks almost lunar and is breath-taking in every sense of the word.

3) The Great Mouse Detective

The Great Mouse Detective

Picture by Disney.

Ah Disney, you do love Big Ben don’t you? This personal favourite of mine and a largely forgotten film from Disney’s back catalogue is more British than a crumpet tea party and is an incredibly dark adaptation of the Basil of Baker Street children’s books by Eve Titus.

The climactic scene in which our titular hero battles the villainous Professor Ratigan (he’s a rat, get it) atop Big Ben is terrifying and mesmerising in equal measure. It’s a truly horrific sequence made all the more awful by its excessive length.

Scared for life is not the word. The Great Mouse Detective is worth a watch for its take on the Queen alone.

2) V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta

Photo by Warner Bros.

A truly underrated British film featuring talent like Stephen Fry and Natalie Portman. Following world war, London is a police state occupied by a fascist government, and a vigilante uses terrorist tactics to fight the oppressors of the world in which he now lives.

It’s as bombastic as it sounds and a great one to watch on Bonfire Night in the UK. With its impressive special effects and exceptional sequence showing Big Ben and the Houses of Parliament being obliterated, it certainly deserves a silver medal here.

1) Reign of Fire

Reign of Fire

Photo by Touchstone Pictures.

Dragons and destruction. What more could you want? Reign of Fire is another underrated flick that’s actually great fun and filled with pretty good special effects. There are also some cracking performances from Christian Bale and Matthew McConaughey.

But the pièce de résistance is the wide, landscape shot of a totally destroyed London being surrounded by you guessed it, dragons. The eerily quiet cityscape is incredibly well put together with Big Ben’s hollow shell rising above everything. Stunning.

Do you think there’s an appearance that should have made the list? Leave a comment in the box below. I reply to them all.

Box office disappointments: Top 5

Adam Brannon HeadshotBy Adam Brannon. So Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets has tanked at the US box office, taking a paltry $17million in its opening weekend on a budget of around $200million. Ouch! By contrast, Star Wars: the Force Awakens took just shy of $250million in its first few days.

That got me thinking, which other films have been box office disappointments and led to huge losses for their studios? This list isn’t necessarily counting down the biggest box office bombs of all time, rather the films that were actually pretty decent but ended up being a massive let down for their directors, stars and studios. Continue reading

MM Top 5: Transformers Movie Moments

14859347_1040969846011519_1192281544_o-copyBy Adam Brannon. If you’re not aware there’s a new Transformers movie coming out this week; where have you been?

The fifth film in the long-running franchise, The Last Knight sees Mark Wahlberg return alongside fellow Transformers alumni, Josh Duhamel and series newcomer Anthony Hopkins to kick more Decepticon butt.

Michael Bay’s popular series has taken over $4billion at the global box-office despite being absolutely slaughtered by critics the world over.

To celebrate the release of The Last Knight, I’ve been trawling through the Transformers archives to pick out five moments that stand out as the best things that have ever happened in Transformers. Continue reading

MM Top 5: Alien films

14886217_1040838869357950_851251975_nBy Rob Stoakes. So over at the Battleship Potemkast, the finest podcast on the seas, we’ve been doing a few retro reviews of the mainline Alien franchise in celebration of Alien: Covenant, which to be honest is a bit of a rubbish name. It’s the Matrix syndrome of taking a cool sounding word that means nothing and pairing it with alien. Alien Synthesis. Alien Carbohydrate. Alien Titillation.

Anyway, Alien is very similar to Star Wars, in that it is the absolute king of its own genre, space opera for Star Wars and sci-fi horror for Alien, and one of the most popular multimedia franchises this side of Pokemon, and the highs of the franchise are so good that it somehow makes people forget that about 90% of it is absolutely terrible.

So, of course, I am a huge Alien fan, so I get to drop the pretense of professionalism and indulge in my inner child, which normally I lock in the shed, to find out which of the mainline Alien films is actually the best. Strap in, folks; this road is bumpy. Continue reading

MM Top 5: Things Marvel needs to stop

14886217_1040838869357950_851251975_nBy Rob Stoakes. Guardians of the Galaxy 2 is finally out, and audiences all around the world have been bowled over by its borderline adequecy! Yes, at long last we get to follow the lovable crew once again as they embark on an adventure of middling quality in the most passable blockbuster of the year! Prepare for the most moderate experience of your life! Woohoo! Go Marvel! The Kings of Hollywood!

So, yeah, as you might have guessed, Guardians of the Galaxy 2 has left me a little cold. While not exactly bad, it does feel tired, the humour seems more forced than before, and what started out as a promisingly quirky and bizarre series has basically turned out to be a Fast and Furious movie with characters constantly rambling about family and how families are and how we’re not friends but a family and I didn’t have a family and I thought we were your family and I have found my family and aaaaaaaaargh!

And Marvel has been grinding my gears for a while now, so this is a good time to give a list of the things Marvel could stop doing if they want to remain the Kings of Tinseltown. Continue reading