Category: Opinion

Sequels that shouldn’t have been made – Part 1

Films will generally get a sequel based on the box office success of the original. The film may not merit a follow up however this is a minor quibble when profit is involved. Take RoboCop 3 for instance. The studio execs didn’t flinch when Peter Weller didn’t sign on to complete the trilogy. Fuck him, Murphy wears a helmet anyway. 3 grams of cocaine later and RoboCop can fly. There are some truly great sequels that are superior to the original such as The Empire Strikes Back, The Dark Knight and Fast and Furious 6. However good sequels are generally considered the exception to the rule with cineland a desolate wasteland of ruined ideas and ill advised cash ins. Every so often though a sequel comes along that is not only awful, but so terrible that the sanity and logic of those involved in making it is questioned. Here’s a few of them.
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Origin Of A Horror Icon – Part 3: Freddy Krueger *Contains Spoilers*

If your parents were as cool and hip irresponsible as mine, you were allowed to watch horror films from a young age. Donnie Darko told us infants can’t remember their infanthood however I have a clear recollection of watching Nightmare on Elm Street: Freddy’s Revenge as well as the follow up Dream Warriors.

Though a little dated, the original concept remained frightening enough. Local child killer (yes killer, not paedophile) Freddy Kreuger escaped justice through a technicality that set him free. Not that the parents of Springwood stood for that as they took it upon themselves to form a lynch mob and burn Freddy alive. However, his thirst for revenge was so great, he came back from the dead and started killing the children where no one could protect them…in their dreams. Brilliant. Simple. Inevitably ruined. Continue reading “Origin Of A Horror Icon – Part 3: Freddy Krueger *Contains Spoilers*” »

Origin Of A Horror Icon – Part 2: Michael Myers *Contains Spoilers*

Many fans felt that Jason Goes to Hell scored an own goal by barely featuring Jason in it. At least Jason was still the killer though, even if he was unrecognisable and missing his trademark hockey mask for most of the film.

Halloween III: The Season of the Witch went one step further. They removed Michael Myers as the killer and included something about killer masks that may have proven to be a good film if anyone bothered to watch it.

This wasn’t a decision made by the studio, instead it was the wish of John Carpenter himself. He didn’t want a slew of Michael Myers films, and only agreed Continue reading “Origin Of A Horror Icon – Part 2: Michael Myers *Contains Spoilers*” »

Origin of a Horror Icon – Part 1: Jason Voorhees *Contains Spoilers*

If Hollywood has taught us anything, is that it likes
sequels/reboots/remakes/reimaginings; basically anything that doesn’t involve an original idea. For every Inception we’re blessed with, we’re subjected to a weekly Saw or Paranomal Activity. Not that all of the above are necessarily bad things. The Dark Knight was a sequel spawned off the back of a reboot, though this should not give Michael Bay any more “great” ideas.

Basically Hollywood doesn’t know when to say stop when the cash is flowing, and in doing so has managed to ruin many a great character by their constant toying with them. None more so than the movie maniac!

What makes these villains so great is they have unexplained supernatural power. This is a film after all, plausibility can sit nicely away from me if the genre fits. Unfortunately most franchises get to the point where the writer feels it’s time to explain what it is that makes these monsters in the first place.
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Batfleck, and why everyone needs to calm down

man-of-steel-2-superman-vs-batmanI wrote this article on the day that Warner Bros announced Ben Affleck would be the new Batman. I didn’t get a chance to publish it at the time, and after a few days wondered if there was much point as a lot of the issues had already been covered. However since the angry mob has not yielded, I don’t see why I should either.

A few weeks ago I had compiled a shortlist of actors who I felt would be suitably cast as Batman. This never went to publication as the time I’d finished it, Josh Brolin was all but signed up to don the mantle in 2015. 
My list was pretty good though. Alongside rumoured favourites such as Chris Pine and Ryan Gosling I’d thrown in some wildcards such as Aidan Gillan and Idris Elba. Ben Affleck never crossed my mind, and I was as shocked as the rest of the world when Warner Bros made the announcement. My first thought on it was “interesting” and a quick glimpse on Twitter led me to believe what I already knew. The fan boys were in meltdown. instinctively I felt I should leap to the defence of the two time Oscar winner who I’ve always felt was underrated as an actor.

Daredevil was instantly launched by the prosecution as the prime reason Affleck should burn in comic book hell and never be allowed near a masked hero again. I’m not going to defend Daredevil (it’s too difficult, even for arguments sake) or even Affleck’s performance, which wasn’t really that bad to be fair. Ask yourself, was he the prime reason the film is deemed so terrible? Director Mark Steven Johnson was lambasted, Colin Farrell was crucified and people forget Joe Pantoliano was actually cast despite being the best thing in it. By the same logic Nicholas Cage shouldn’t have been allowed near Kick-Ass for the cine-crime that was Ghost Rider (guess who the director was?). Cage’s portrayal of stunt man Johnny Blaze drew much criticism (although about 70% of that revolved around his wig) however it didn’t stop the plaudits from rolling in when he dressed up like Batman and called himself Big Daddy. Should Samuel L Jackson have been removed from Avengers Assemble because he was in the Spirit? Of course not, though all involved should have been severely punished in some way. There isn’t a rule that states that thou that portray one superhero wrongly shall be banished from wearing tights in the future. Which is a good thing, especially if you ask Chris Evans.

My defence for Affleck came in the form of one name…Heath Ledger. Back in 2007 when the Australian actor was announced as the Joker, there were calls to boycott the film and an overall consensus amongst fan boys that the movie would indeed suck. Well, we’ll let history be the judge of that one shall we? I can’t pretend that I was thrilled about the choice however my flatmate, and Heath Ledger enthusiast, was. He was right, I was wrong and the fan boys looked like the idiots they are.

Taste comes down to opinion and not everyone will agree on who is and is not a good actor. Believing he can’t act is one thing but some of the reasons for wanting rid of him borders on ridiculous. “He doesn’t look like Batman.” What I didn’t realiseUnknown was that the Man of Steel sequel would be based on the real life crime fighting vigilante called Batman. And apparently he looks nothing like Ben Affleck. Anyone suggesting he doesn’t have the physical prowess to pull it off is clearly clutching at straws. At over 6ft he’s not only taller than Christian Bale, he’s pretty ripped as the Town highlighted. And even if he wasn’t, the studio can afford a personal trainer, they’re good that way. Good looking pretty boy with dark hair; sounds like Bruce Wayne to me. The fictional character that is, not the real life guy that looks nothing like Affleck.

Another reason I read was that Superman could easily kill Batman in a fight. Now, I know what you’re thinking here, that’s clearly a reason not to make the film. Nope, it was listed in reasons why Ben Affleck is a bad choice. Oh, and he has a beard, because as well as not knowing how to act he doesn’t know how to shave. Unlike Christian Bale.

Whether you agree with the casting or not, Affleck has matured as an actor over the years. He’s made smarter choices and looks to be improving with each performance. Will he be good as Batman? Time will tell, but will he be so bad that even if the film is awesome his performance will singlehandedly destroy it? Very doubtful. I’ve a feeling come 2015, many hats will be eaten and I intend to be there with the seasoning.

No pay no way?

clapperboardLast year I attended a screening in Edinburgh for a short film I’d made. After the film was shown I was invited on stage to do a Q&A for the audience. I tend to get a little nervous standing in front of a crowd however the enthusiasm of those in attendance helped rather than hinder my answers. One man asked what my budget was which led to the next question of whether I had paid my actors or not. When I had informed him I hadn’t he decided to press me further, almost interrogating me. I explained that no one on the crew had been paid however he wouldn’t let it go. It was a fair enough question and one I was prepared for but it got me thinking. Why did he ask specifically about the actors and no one else who worked on the film? Why had he sneered when I explained that I had written, co-produced and directed the film and received no pay for it? It’s a subject that doesn’t go away and has been at the centre of many debates I have witnessed on social media. I felt it was time to directly ask those it affects their opinions on the matter.

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Fear of the Dark…

Heads up. Spoilers bide within.

superman-kills-zod_137332-fli_1371483068-280-80Having been one of the most anticipated films of the year, it was natural that Man of Steel would become the subject of much discussion and derision. Devoid almost entirely of humour, Zack Snyder’s take on Superman was a much more serious and darker affair than cinema goers were accustomed to. The wanton destruction that is caused in the film, without so much as an afterthought from the last son of Krypton, was too much for many to bear as they likened Man of Steel to disaster porn outings such as Transformers 3. Worse for some people was Superman’s decision to snap Zod’s neck like a twig (warned you there were spoilers),  a move many felt was out of character for the alien boy scout. But was it?

Let’s go back to Superman II when Kal-El and Zod had their last big screen battle. After being released from the Phantom Zone Zod, Ursa and Non quickly discover that being in proximity of Earth’s yellow sun gives them powers. Powers which any sociopatheic monster is soon likely to abuse.

Zod goes on to conquer Earth as the President of the United States kneels before him. Who exactly gave POTUS the go ahead to be in charge of the entire world is neither here nor there, this is Hollywood dammit. Zod then learns of Superman and, thanks to Lex Luthor, his true Kryptonian origins. Since Zod can’t kill Jor-El, what better way to get revenge than target his son? Not long into the battle it’s clear that Superman cares very much for us humans, a weakness which is soon exploited by the villainous trio in one of the most poignant scenes in cinematic history. .

Much to the dismay of the people, Superman eventually runs away. Not that he’s turned chicken, he has a plan. Luring Zod and co to the Fortress of Solitude he strips them of their powers rendering them human. Remember, not superman2zod1only do his enemies share his powers they are also trained military terrorists whereas Superman is not . The next part of his plan would naturally involve Superman turning over the bad guys to the authorities in the name of truth, justice and the American way. Not quite. Having turned them human, Superman crushes Zod’s hand, picks him up high above his head in a mocking manner and then throws him to his icy death. Oh, and did I mention he’s pleased with himself?

Let’s compare that to Man of Steel. Having Zod in a choke hold, Zod forces Superman into a choice. Kill him and betray his beliefs or watch an innocent family be incinerated… to death. Naturally being the big softie that he is, Superman kills Zod and guess what? He doesn’t look to happy about it. No, instead he’s filled with agony at having murdered someone. Plus, he killed a yellow sun powered Zod to save a family. Unlike the previous incarnation that clearly couldn’t be fucked having to attend court as a witness for the prosecution.

Despite this, almost everyone accused Man of Steel of being a darker take on the character and instantly drew comparisons to The Dark Knight Trilogy. With Christopher Nolan and David Goyer on board, that was inevitable however is it justifiable to assume that these men would add a darker sprinkle to proceedings?

Tim Burton’s Batman was a little more morally unhinged than Nolan’s when you compare them. In the first movie, Batman seems to have no qualms in blowing up henchmen with rockets and throwing people from great heights. But hey, you know, he’s Batman. We can let him away with the odd murder, it’s not like he’s enjoying it. Well…

batman-returns_41In Batman Returns, you could argue that Bats was on his way to becoming the Dark Dexter. Whilst fighting with the Penguin’s carnival army on the streets of Gotham, he comes across a behemoth of a beast. Batman tries to floor him with one punch but fails to even irritate the brute. What can he do but fight harder, second time lucky and all that? No, instead he straps dynamite to the man’s chest, smiles, hits him again and then throws him down the sewer. An explosion is seen in the background as Batman casually strolls away and no one speaks of it again. Yes, Batman has just killed someone in cold blood and if it seems excessive, it’s because it is. Compare that to Nolan’s “darker” take on the source material. How many people did Batman kill in the whole trilogy? I’m saying two, though he seems pretty cut up about it to be fair. Well,Harvey’s death anyway, with Ra’s Al Ghul’s he seems to be a bit more at ease as he’s managed to convince himself it wasn’t murder.  Though I think beating the man to a pulp and allowing him to die in a fiery train crash is a little more culpable than I think he’s willing to admit. Whatever helps him sleep at night.

So maybe people can cut Man of Steel a little slack? Yes, the film is not without its flaws however let’s not just attack it for what it’s not. So Superman killed Zod. Big fucking deal, Zod is The. Bad. Guy.  It’s not as if he grinned orgasmiscally or made a quip  like “you’re a real pain in the neck.” No, that was his girlfriend that did that before killing Ursa in Superman II.  I’m actually surprised Reeve’s Superman didn’t just whack Luthor while in the Fortress of Solitude. At the least it may have stopped Superman IV from being made.

 

Independence Day (Or why I can’t stand Will Smith!)

When Independence Day was released back in 1996 it erupted onto our cinemas amidst a furious media storm.  Everybody was raving about it.  I too got caught up in all the excitement, ready to witness the movie of the year where the trailer promised us such glorious action sequences and iconic visuals: an explosion of the Whitehouse, the Empire State building being incinerated and other mind blowing special effects never seen before!  When I woke up two and a half hours later I was, safe to say, a little disillusioned, a feeling that seemed to kick start the rapid decline of my admiration of Will Smith.

All those years making me laugh in The Fresh Prince?  Poof!  Gone. Continue reading “Independence Day (Or why I can’t stand Will Smith!)” »

Star Wars Prequel Trilogy Revisited

When you mention you’re a Star Wars fan to anyone outside your normal social circle, you tend to get one of two reactions. One is the “Eurgh, what did I just step on?” look as they inconspicuously try to get as far away from you as possible, and the other is the knowing smile and the awkward attempt at conversation, usually on the subject of “Is there any other bounty hunter cooler than Boba Fett?” (The answer to that of course, is yes!)

Star Wars Celebration III

Who says it’s not cool to be a Star Wars fan?

Mention to the latter however, that you’re a fan of the prequels and you’ll normally get the exact same reaction as the former gave you the first time. My point is, it’s never cool to admit to being a Star Wars fan, and even less cool amongst other Star Wars fans to admit you like the prequels. Well I’ll freely admit to not being cool just as I’ll freely admit to being a fan of George Lucas’ most recent offerings and here’s why:

Episode One is where it all began, telling the tale of young Anakin Skywalker long before the Clone Wars, his tragic downfall and rebirth as evil alter ego Darth Vader, and the eventual rise of the Empire. What’s not to like here? First off, the special effects, the backdrops and the set design are all second to none. No matter what you think of this movie you cannot say it’s not a beautiful film to look at, from the virtual paradise of Naboo to the swarming metropolis of Coruscant and the rolling arid landscape of Tatooine, it’s a feast for the eyes and the imagination alike.

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Django Unchained

Django UnchainedDjango Unchained is Quentin Tarantino’s 7th outing as Writer / Director and takes us back to his love of the Spaghetti Western. It tells the story of the black slave Django’s escape from bondage in a pre-civil war america at the hands of the bounty hunter Dr Schultz. The two of them set off on a lawful rampage of bounty collection before venturing into the heartlands of Mississippi to find and liberate Django’s wife from the Candieland estate.

Down the years I have seen all of Tarantino’s films and this follows a very similar vein to the ones before it. Whilst I am not his biggest fan I have always enjoyed them (ignoring Kill Bill pt2 – snore) but never really felt the need to add any of them to my DVD/Bluray collection. In fact I think I preferred his early work to what has followed and nothing since Jacky Brown has warranted a second watch!

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