All of this has happened before, all of this will happen again

We got news of two potential remakes/reboots/re-imaginings/I-don’t-know-what over the last couple of weeks. I wouldn’t normally comment, but these are two franchises that I love, and enough people have asked my opinion, so let’s do this quickly.

First is Ghostbusters. But let’s start with this:

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I really don’t get the attitude that the “Ghostbusters” franchise is going to be ruined by this. The “My Little Pony” comment is on the money; but I’ve never understood the fandom for that either.

I don’t know Paul Feig’s work as a director, though none of his films have appealed to me enough to want to watch them. I only know Melissa McCarthy from ‘Gilmore Girls’ which ended eight years ago. I only know Kristen Wiig from How To Train Your Dragon. And I’ve never heard of Leslie Jones or Kate McKinnon prior to now.

Courtesy of Vogue Magazine.

I’m pretty sure Kristen Wiig and Melissa McCarthy don’t have man-hands like that…

If you don’t find this director or any of these women funny, that’s certainly a valid reason not to go see the film. You can’t tell a person what they find funny, after all.

I’ve heard a couple of critics say that McCarthy shouldn’t be cast in this because she plays the same character over and over again.

Yeah. Cos Bill Murray never did that…

Courtesy of Consequence of Sound

I love you Bill Murray, but you played Peter Venkman before and after ‘Ghostbusters’.

I am sure there will be plenty of valid reasons to not see this film, but having four women cast in the lead roles is not one of them. I like the idea of four women in STEM fields characters fronting a “Ghostbusters” film. But I don’t like the idea of this being a remake or a reboot, which is what this apparently is. Have this as a continuation of the original film, with four new Ghostbusters buying a franchise in another city to start up their own ghostbusting business, and getting in over their heads with some new dark supernatural power rising. The reason for risk to the city or the world shouldn’t be that these four Ghostbusters are women; it should be that it’s their first month on the job and something old and powerful has started tearing up downtown, and these four are an unknown quantity.

I’ll be following this one with interest, if only to see what the new tech looks like…

Ghostbusters have been using the same proton packs for 31 years! It's time for an update, if only from a nuclear safety standpoint...

Ghostbusters have been using the same proton pack design for 31 years! It’s time for an update, if only from a nuclear safety standpoint…

The second remake/reboot/re-imagining/I-don’t-know-what is for another ’80s icon; Indiana Jones.

The last Indy film, Kingdom of the Crystal Skull was seven years ago, and not well received. I’m one of the few Indy fans who likes it, but it’s a deeply flawed film. The original hope there seems to have been at least one more Indiana Jones film with Harrison Ford, then continuing the stories with Shia Labeouf as “Mutt” Williams. Again, I’m in the minority in saying I’d watch those films though I had one caveat: make a grown up Short Round the Competitor, à la Belloq from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

I'm still annoyed Jonathan Ke Quan wasn't asked back for a cameo for Crystal Skull...

I’m still annoyed Jonathan Ke Quan wasn’t asked back for a cameo in Crystal Skull

But that’s not going to happen. Crystal Skull wasn’t enough of a hit to warrant a continuation, and even so, due to the downtime Harrison Ford is just too old to put the hat on for even one last time. Then, in late 2012 Disney acquired Lucasfilm and it’s film properties, including “Indiana Jones”, though distribution rights were still tied up with Paramount. That has finally been negotiated as well, so it makes sense that Disney would want to do something with the property.

Then, a few months back, this image hit the Internet, from an original source I couldn’t track down:

Chris-Pratt-as-the-new-Indiana-Jones

It’s not the best bit of photo manipulation, but it certainly got the people thinking about the idea of Chris Pratt as Indiana Jones.

And then the news hit in the last two weeks that Disney were considering making a new Indiana Jones film, with Chris Pratt taking over the role.

Now, how this all originally started and played out to this point I don’t know, but I think Pratt is a fine choice for the role. He’s on a well deserved career upswing right now and seems like the right kind of star to take on the character. However, I don’t think the hard think is casting a new Indiana Jones.

The first three Indiana Jones films are the perfect fusion of Steven Spielberg, George Lucas & Harrison Ford making a project work. I think that getting the right Writer and Director team to make this project is what will make or break it.

But this is exciting news to me. Due to Indy’s pulp sensibilities, you don’t have to touch the first four films via either remake or reboot, just make something that slots in with the timeline around the other films. Indy had a long career and a lot of adventures, and this is one of those times a studio should really fight the urge to compress the universe or show us the origin of a character, which we’ve already seen anyway.

A new Indy film would also allow some of the cultural insensitivity of previous Indy films to be rectified, and that’s not a bad thing.

Again, this is another project I’ll definitely be watching with interest. It’ll be fascinating to see Indy become like his progenitor James Bond and become viable with a different actor in the role. Though I must admit, I am weirded out by the idea that we’ll be getting a new actor playing Han Solo as well coupled with a new, separate Indy actor in the coming years.

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Before we begin this year in earnest…

…some housekeeping. I figured I should put this in a separate post before actually posting new content, and not have this story cluttering up the front end of something more fun. So, just where have I been since August?

Well, surprisingly I wasn’t procrastinating for once. I was suffering from what can only be described as “Evil Hand Issues.”

"It's not quite what we planned, but now we've got your hand!"

Yes. It was kinda like that.

Over a month after my last post (I’ll admit, there was some procrastination in that month, but I digress) I started developing a problem in my right wrist. An exacerbation of an old injury.

Then it got worse. To the point where emergency tests and procedures were done. Long story short, I had surgery, rehab went well, and things are getting better. My hand is usable and has full range of motion again, and should be back to normal regarding strength and pain within a couple more months.

Suffice to say, 2014 kinda sucked. I even have the scars to prove it.

But now, let’s move onward and upward from there. I have posts to write, which is something I’ve missed.

Be seeing you…

 

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For Those Who Came In Late: Brazil

Some media you just get to much later than you probably wanted to, for a variety of reasons. This is my attempt to play catch up.

I’m 34 years old, and until 31 July 2014 I had never seen Terry Gilliam’s Brazil.

brazil

In the middle of watching this film I could tell that this was a fucking travesty; why had I waited so long? I love Terry Gilliam’s other work, though I’m still to watch The Imaginarium of Doctor Parnassus and The Zero Theorem. Those are gonna be dealt with a lot faster now. But unfortunately I knew nothing about this film. Or perhaps fortunately, as I’d never been spoiled on any of it. But this is really not a film you can just tell someone about; you have to sit them down and get them to watch it.

Also, I have to say the poster was kind of…not exactly off putting but didn’t exactly grab me either; it was an artistic non-event. Though with contextual hindsight it seems beautiful and wildly appropriate now. The final issue was a lack of access; I was never able to get my hands on a copy of the film for some reason.

How I finally got around to watching it was due to comparisons friends made to Brazil as we were watching Snowpiercer last week. That’s also a fantastic film that is difficult to get your hands on. Now that it’s finally getting a wider release here I may write something on it, but in the interim you can check out a good friend’s thoughts on the film here.

Given the depth and breadth of my film knowledge, my friends were shocked that I’d never seen Brazil. So on our next usual Thursday night gathering they decided they would sit me down to watch the film. I’m very glad they did.

There’s a risk when approaching something so lauded so late, that you won’t be able to appreciate it on its own merits. To quote TV Tropes, “It wasn’t old or overdone when they did it. But the things it created were so brilliant and popular, they became woven into the fabric of that…genre. They ended up being taken for granted, copied and endlessly repeated.” Fortunately, Brazil is so brilliant and so innovative that despite being able to think of at least one thing that had riffed on this film almost per scene, it still outshone them all and nearly 30 years later it still seems groundbreaking.

I was unaware of the production problems this film had, with the “Love Conquers All” cinematic cut being originally released by the studio as opposed to Gilliam’s preferred vision for the film. I can’t say I’m surprised though; Gilliam is one of the unluckiest filmmakers working, to the point where some commentator have publicly wondered whether the man took a dump on an Indian Burial Ground at some point. The dude is cursed. Fortunately, I watched the director’s cut as my first viewing, though there’s very few films you shouldn’t do that for anyway.

But to the heart of the matter, Brazil is a satire of dystopian futures with a masterful script co-written by Gilliam, Charles McKeown, Tom Fuckin’ Stoppard (seriously, is there anything that man cannot write for?) with uncredited contributions by Charles Alverson. This is a very 1984 universe; “Grey cities linked by grey highways across a grey desert. Slag, ash and clinker – the fruits of technology.

brazil_information Superhighway

Our story is kicked off by a administrative error fingering the wrong man as a terrorist, with the State’s Death Squad bagging him, and the plot progresses as one unambitious and dissatisfied bureaucrat tries to rectify the problem (from an administrative standpoint), accidentally bumping into an All Mighty Janitor rebelling against the system and the Literal Girl of His Dreams from his segues of flying with his ethereal love.

t100_movies_brazil

But the story is so much more than that; it is dark and depressing yet hilarious and extremely on point as a satire and deconstruction. To quote my friend as we watched, the fantasy sequences are so heartbreakingly beautiful. It is amazing how Jonathan Pryce just becomes a Siegfried. And it is amazing; in the dream sequences they manage to make Jonathan Pryce look heroic simply in the act of flying on metal wings. But that makes sense; the man can play an amazing villain, so the inverse has to be within his reach.

There’s a terrorism subplot that does nothing to romaticise the notion of terrorism. There’s no nobility of purpose here against a grim oppressor; collateral damage and civilian casualties are shown in grim, gory and sickening reality.

The production design is used to great effect, be it the propaganda in the background, or foreground. Or how this world is shown to be stagnating due to being overly bureaucratic and overly complicated. Or the thin veneer of sophistication over the upper classes as they go about their crass excesses.

And the entirety of the cast is brilliant, being a veritable Who’s Who of the British Comedic Acting Fraternity from the 1980s that shakes every ounce of subtlety from the story. There’s nothing more disturbing than Simon Jones, AKA Arthur Frelling Dent telling a woman to sign a form in triplicate whilst a Death Squad bags her husband. Yet Michael Palin; arguably one of the nicest men in the world; manages to top even that by using that persona to full effect to make his role even more disturbing when you realise what his character’s job actually is. And this is probably Jonathan Pryce’s greatest role, playing the tragic figure of the only sane man in an insane world.

The final thing I’ll mention is the music. This is another wonderful Michael Kamen score; one of my favourite film composers. It weaves the elements of the nostalgic past with the grimness of the retro future that are visually displayed.

There is some weirdness to the film I still don’t understand, having only watched it once and not having had time to fully consider all I’ve seen. On the flipside, it’s a Terry Gilliam film; non-sequitars are to be expected.

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As for the ending, I can see why some people may have been shocked by it. But it’s thematically perfect, and in many ways hopeful. Unfortunately I don’t feel I can discuss the underlying philosophy of the ending without ruining it potentially. it’s something that has to be thought about quietly by the individual.

Ultimately, this is one of the best films I’ve ever seen. As a stand alone piece of art, it is a masterpiece. As a media touchstone, it’s influence cannot be denied. I can’t wait to watch it again.

Be seeing you…

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Trailer: “The Legend of Korra: Book Three – Change”

You’ve done enough angsting, Korra. Now it’s time to do some fucking bending:

I liked season two, but Korra’s constant bickering with poor, stupid Mako got old fast!

He should’ve stayed with Asami; his contant flip-flopping will drive her to the villainy her character model implies…

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(Lonely) God is in the Rain

So I haven’t been keeping up with this. In my defence, I’ve been sick and I find that it is the pits trying to write whilst unwell, especially considering I find it difficult at the best of times anyway.

Now, I meant to share the final video in this piece when it first came out, but various things distracted me. But it’s worth talking about in lieu of any actual new footage (silhouettes don’t count), and should give you some insight into how my brain works. If you’re interested in that sort of thing…

This all started somewhat paradoxically a few weeks back, when I went to see the new Godzilla (strange film; enjoyed it) and saw this trailer for the first time:

This film wasn’t even on my radar, so it was a pleasant surprise. However, the music was so hauntingly familiar. Eventually I tracked it down, it’s “Evey Reborn” by Dario Marianelli from the under appreciated “V for Vendetta” soundtrack that plays over this scene:

As an aside; this scene is fascinating due to the juxtaposition that’s on display. Sure, it’s about Evey being reborn and “washed clean” by the rain after her long and torturous incarceration, tying in with the sentiment, “God is in the Rain.” Now that veers dangerously into “There Are No Atheists in Foxholes” territory, which is really not a discussion I’m trying to have so let’s plough through that…the juxtaposition comes down to this; what is Evey being reborn as? Despite the Shawshank-eqsue beauty of the scene and the uplifting music, a monster is being born. The movie doesn’t really get into it, but V clearly knows what he has done, and may even be considering the moral implications of it…as much as can be construed from the body language of Hugo Weaving as he acts silently in a padded doublet and mask. It’s a fascinating and subversive idea in a major studio film that is surprisingly brimming with them, but that really is a discussion for another time, so  I digress.

Now, I love fan trailers; after all a fan made trailer was what finally convinced me to track down and watch ‘Blake’s 7′.

Man, I should discuss that series at some point as well. Moving on.

So after watching the Interstellar trailer and hearing that music, I wanted to sit down and watch V for Vendetta again, as it had been awhile. It took a couple of weeks, but I finally got around to it. When I did, during Evey’s rebirth scene I remembered this from a week or so earlier:

As a fan piece, it’s kind of amazing in its simplicity, beauty, power and technical prowess. It’s also surprising in how it could potentially overshadow how Peter Capaldi plans on playing the Doctor; I’d be surprised if he shows this sort of whimsical nature, but now I kind of want him to. Occasionally.

We still have no idea how Capaldi will play the Doctor; I’m banking on something closer to Jon Pertwee’s portrayal, authoritarian, but just as quick to criticise authority, too. I also remember a pair of blazing, determined eyes and the promise that they held. However it goes, I like this idea of a newly regenerated Time Lord simply standing in the rain under an alien sky, and hope that the new Doctor, if only occasionally, reminds us that he’s a wonderful and charming old man, still open to the wonders of the Universe.

Be seeing you…

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DC Showcase

Earlier this week we got this trailer:

Confession time; I’ve never read an issue of Hellblazer, Swamp Thing or even the Nu52 Constantine. Prior to meeting a friend of mine, my knowledge of John Constantine came solely from his interactions with Dream of the Endless and Zatanna, which certainly doesn’t give one the full picture.

Unfortunately, I think this is an awful trailer to try and sell new audiences onto John Constantine. I don’t think it’s the fault of showrunners or the advertisers, I think the world of Hellblazer; from its concepts to its mythology; is a hard one to try and summarise in a three minute trailer. Fortunately in my case at least it doesn’t matter, I’m excited for this series, particularly after the first promo shot came out for this series.

Constantine

Look at this magical mutherfucker (and yes, I know this is the doctored version)

In all seriousness, the trailer just could’ve been Constantine smoking and glaring at the camera for three minutes and I’d still be excited for this series. I love the idea of the character, and I think it’s one that can translate well to live action…

…well, better that the last attempt, hopefully:

The major complaint you can level against the 2005 film starring Keanu Reeves is that it isn’tHellblazer movie. Outside of that it’s a bit of fun, though Constantine stubbing out his last cigarette in his arterial blood from his slashed wrists is probably the most Constantinesque thing in the whole damn film. But let’s put this one out of our minds. If anything, the new series trailer has inspired me to track down issues of Swamp Thing and Hellblazer and start reading them from scratch. Hopefully I’ll be able to report back on what I think of it all, as John Constantine is one of few comic book characters to have such a long, unbroken run where the character ages in real time. Pity he never got the proper send off he deserved.

Moving along, and today we got this teaser:

My major concern about this show’s announcement was that I had no idea who Grant Gustin was and if he could carry a series, particularly as the legendary Barry Allen. I still have those concerns, but they are majorly alleviated by the huge amount of goodwill this trailer buys for me.

Why? Cos Ollie and Barry are Target Racing!

This was a thing the characters used to do with each other during the Silver Age and beyond. It’s a bit of goofing around, but it shows that the showrunners for each show have thought about how these two characters should interact whenever they’re on screen together. Which I honestly don’t think will be much, but the fact that these two are sharing a universe is interesting in itself.

Considering how grim/dark the original Flash TV Series was; being a product of ’90s Comics mentality and the fallout from the successful Tim Burton Batman films, it’s good to see that maybe this television incarnation of Barry Allen will be a bit lighter. I like that the Flash is exuberant in this, and even the reasonably grim Arrow cracks a smile. His darkness is a product of PTSD; realistically portrayed for the most part; but there are some moments of genuine humour from him as well. These guys can be fun characters, and it’s time that was acknowledged again.

'90s Flash

This guy: awesome, yes. But rarely fun…unless Mark Hamill’s Trickster was involved.

So at the start of the next TV season we’re going to have four shows based on DC properties; these two, Arrow and the new series Gothamwhich I completely forgot a trailer had been released for!

I’m still apprehensive about Gotham; I believe  a series centred on Jim Gordon or his Major Crimes task force, à la Gotham Central would make a great basis for a TV series set in the Batman universe without Batman making regular appearances. But I’m not sold on the idea of younger versions of the traditional Batman Rogues Gallery running around a decade before Bruce Wayne put on the cowl. That being said, with Ben McKenzie and Donal Logue as the leads, I’m more than prepared to give this a chance.

Be seeing you…

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Eurovision Lead Up 2014 – When The Fat Lady Swings…

Somewhat vulgar figure of speech aside, here are the final six entrants guaranteed to make the Eurovision Final; the Big Five Plus One – the host nation. No idea where they will be placed in the running order on the night, so let’s just get on with it…

32. Denmark

Wow, Basim really is Danish Bruno Mars, but maybe with a bit more doo-wop thrown in.

“Cliche Love Song” is a cute and fun effort from the host nation, but it’s triteness at the back end of the running time may hurt it.

33. Spain

Ruth Lorenzo is a singer-songwriter that emerged from the UK’s X Factor, then developed an impressive resume in her native Spain and abroad. “Dancing in the Rain” shows off her vocal and lyrical talents well, and I’m impressed enough to think that this will do very well on the night.

34. Italy

I generally don’t expect much of Italy at Eurovision, but Emma Marrone here is knocking it out of the park!

She’s got a lot of vocal power, she’s got incredible amounts of presence, and she can rock a wind machine. Let’s hope a song in Italian doesn’t hurt her chances.

35. France

Ah, France. They can often be relied on to bring something that’ll make you tilt your head in confusion. I have no idea what Twin Twin are trying to do with “Moustache”, but I’m sure it’ll offer some amusement on the night…

36. United Kingdom

The UK wildly oscillates between not giving a damn and trying too damn hard. But I think with this artist Molly, they’ve nailed it this year.

Some bookies have tipped this one to win as well, and I can see “Children of the Universe” winning on the night. But making even tangential references to Queen and Highlander will always win me over…

37. Germany

An all female alt-folk German band? I can get behind that.

Elaiza clearly have some talent, and “Is It Right” sounds raw without it detracting from the song overall. Another one I expect to do well overall.

And I’m spent! And before time too, amazingly. Remind me not to leave this to the last minute next year…

I’ll be following along with the Australian Broadcasts of the two semis and the Grand Final this coming weekend. You can follow my far too frequent posts on the subject on Twitter, but be kind and no spoilers please; Eurovision is one of the few things in this world I actually like to be surprised about!

And with that, thanks for reading.

Be seeing you…

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