The Ministry of Truth (Minitrue)

Resplendent in Newspeak and Doublethink.

“Choke on ‘em! CHOKE ON ‘EM!!!”

Oh, for those halcyon days of my youth when I watched ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ for the very first time. It would undoubtedly have been a Saturday night/Sunday morning affair but I can’t remember whether it was on BBC2 or C4. It was certainly not my first horror movie, but it was the one that changed everything I thought about the genre. Until then, I had been exposed to classic Universal creature-features and Hammer, which had kept me engrossed and entertained. I had also been used to watching the ‘slashers’ that had spread like wildfire since the mid-eighties.  Nothing, however, had captured my imagination like that experience I had in the early hours of that fateful Sunday morning.

What I can recall was how, to coin a phrase, it “blew my mind”. The juxtaposition of 70’s commercialism and greed fitted perfectly in Romero’s vision of a dystopian future, overrun with the walking dead. After all, “When there is no more room in Hell, the dead shall walk the earth”. It sparked my imagination beyond its boundaries and continues to do so.  I began to imagine what it would be like to face such a world, broken down by something unexplained which had turned the dead into the living once again. I would think about what I would do. Would I fight or run? Would I have a conscience in killing friends or family if they ‘turned’. That’s just how it sparked my imagination*.

‘Dawn Of The Dead’ began my fascination with George A. Romero. I then went back and watched ‘Night Of The Living Dead’ and fell headfirst into its world of claustrophobia and isolation along with paranoia of communism and the space program. It’s finale enthralled and shocked me (a finale which still raise questions to this day), especially after all Ben, it’s protagonist, had been put through. Every time I watch ‘Night’, it still continues to astound me. It is both brilliant and magnificent.

With ‘Day Of The Dead’ I became, to what Romero himself dubbed, a “troll” (those fans who regard ‘Day’ as their favourite). I revel in that tag! Focusing on a real-world 80’s fear of scientific progression coalescing with the advancements in warfare, Romero, in my opinion, produced his most bleak, paranoid and goriest feature in the series. He also gave us the iconic figures of the military nut-job Rhodes and Bub, the first loveable zombie! I can still vividly remember the TV spot for the release of ‘Day’. It unnerved me then and still does every time I see it.

Then, in June 2005, Romero was back with a fourth part of the ‘Dead’ saga with ‘Land Of The Dead’. Trying, in part, to bring to the big screen what he had planned for ‘Day’ (the idea of over and underground camps, isolated from the threat of the dead), he would use capitalism and greed once again as a basis for this fourth part in the saga. Yet, this is where the ‘rot’ (no pun intended) would set in. By now, it had been so long since ‘Day’ that the zombie movie was almost ‘dead’ (pun?), only barely ‘breathing’ (pun!) with Zack Snyder’s ‘reimagining’ of ‘Dawn Of The Dead’ in 2004. ‘Land’ was a reasonable movie. It was still somewhat cannon to the legacy. Most of those who have seen it regard it as a natural ending point.

It wasn’t to be. In 2007 Romero contracted ‘Carpenter’s Fever’.  I’m thinking of adding it to Wikipedia. To define:

“A highly contagious virus, first noted when contracted in 1996 by film-maker John Carpenter whilst making the motion picture ‘Escape From L.A.’.  The infection breaks down the imagination of a once highly regarded and capable genre filmmaker. The individual will lose the ability to make coherent and entertaining motion pictures within their applicable genre. Once contracted, the filmmaker will instead begin to produce sub-standard, flatulent nonsense, to the universal disappointment to all those who have, until contagion, appreciated their body of work.’ There is no know cure at this time.”

Romero had become contagious. He filmed ‘Diary Of The Dead’. An uninspired (read: ‘The Blair Witch Project’), insipid, dreadful mess of a movie that had nothing do to with the established chronology of his past work. With no noticeable plot and little character development (you feel no shock or sadness for anyone who “buys the farm”) it was a shameful piece of work from the master of the zombie genre.

He has shown no signs of recovery with ‘Survival Of The Dead’. It have tried so hard to be fair in my appraisal of this latest effort from someone who I admire so greatly. It pains me to say what I’m about to say. The thought of it almost brings me to tears.

It is an utterly ridiculous, derivative, noxious piece of garbage. There is nothing worthy about it. Lack of a sufficient budget is one thing, but once again Romero delivers a film of such colossal under-development and abysmal characterizations that it now seems fate that he, like Carpenter, will never recover from it.

The day has come for us Romero fans to utter the words we feared. The words we hoped we would never have to say.

“Please, George. Please, STOP.”

I feel like I’ve betrayed him. I’m sorry. When I think back to a ‘Land Of The Dead’ signing when, upon meeting him I went almost catatonic, I never thought I’d be so disappointed.

* Think I’m nuts? Go and read ‘The Zombie Survival Guide’ by Max Brooks. I even have a copy of the thesis ‘When Zombies Attack!: Mathematical Modelling Of An Outbreak of Zombie Infection’ published by the University of Ottawa (the maths works by the way).

March 21, 2010 Posted by | Film | Leave a comment

“I’d rather be Irish than anything else.”

On the eve of that wondrous day known to all as Saint Paddy’s, like many I look forward to spending the forthcoming twenty-four hours rejoicing in my (part) Irish-ness. Having found this on Dara O’Briain’s Twitter feed, I love being from ‘oirish’ stock even more. Co-written by the modern-day Wilde, Neil Hannon, and Thomas Walsh (of  Dublin band, Pugwash),  I proudly present to you:

(Here’s the link with AUDIO!) http://bit.ly/bXSyX5

Ireland, Ireland!

By ‘The Duckworth Lewis Method’

Ireland, Ireland, damp sod of earth
lost on the surf of the North Atlantic.
Ireland, Ireland, mountains and mist,
Vodka and chips, it’s so romantic.

Joyce and Heaney, Beckett and Wilde,
Bill O’Herlihy, Dunphy and Giles,
Evans, Hewson, Mullen and Clayton,
Westlife and Jedward the pride of our nation!

Ireland, Ireland, once we were poor,
Then we were wealthy; now we are poor again.
Cows and horses, donkeys and sheep,
Munster and Leinster, Connacht and ******.

Chinese, Polish, Africans too,
Doing the jobs we don’t want to do.
An Irish stew, a nation of nations,
Working for peanuts in petrol stations.

Ireland, Ireland, you are the best
Place to the west of Wales and Scotland.
Sometimes it’s heaven, sometimes it’s hell,
But I’d rather be Irish than anything else.”

March 16, 2010 Posted by | General Musings | Leave a comment

‘Alien3’: A difficult relationship.

For some time now, Sunday mornings have been known as the ‘Sci-Fi Sunday Breakfast’. Coffee, cereal and the aforementioned, carefully selected and nutritional, Sci-Fi movie. A hearty way to start the day.

Going back some time ago, when the ‘old gang’ used to congregate every Saturday night around a huge round table (something akin to the Geek Knights of the Round Table) in my local seafront pub (I live by the sea, but I guess you figured that out), we would spend an inordinate amount of time pickling our livers, doubling our bladder density whilst debating (read: arguing) over our shared love of movies and Sci-Fi. To do this EVERY Saturday night was the norm for many years.

I would be regularly flamed for being the only sensible one who saw through the haze of cliché and tedium to admit that the James Bond franchise was shit. Scott (Rest In Peace old friend) would harp on about how much he adored the ‘Highlander’ franchise and ‘Quantum Leap’, quoting endless ‘Simpsons’ references along the way. Chris, Ben & I would bang on about ‘Batman’ and the DC/Marvel universe (‘DareDevil’ is STILL BLIND, Mark!). I would harp on relentlessly about the ‘Hellboy’ comics. As for ‘Star Trek’ &’ Star Wars’ (eventually the ‘Rings’ trilogy would be added to this roster), countless observations and arguments would arise and be debated until way past last orders and distended bladders.

Every so often, I would be alone in my hatred of one particular movie. Everyone else I know loved it and saw something in it I couldn’t. I detested it. I found it’s Director overrated, the plot contrived, the FX lame and the whole experience a waste of time where I could have been watching, I don’t know, ‘Star Trek V’. That’s how much I hated ‘Alien3’.

Then, on the release on the ‘Quadrilogy’ box set, I found it included the long-mooted ‘Assembly Cut’. The cut Fincher intended but the one Fox ditched.

I think it was a further eighteen months before I could muster the vague interest to watch it again.

I can be man enough to admit when I’m wrong. I WAS wrong. There, I said it. The ‘Assembly Cut’ changed my whole outlook on the third instalment of the saga. Gone was the horrid ‘dog birth’, replaced with the intended ‘Ox birth’ and the explanation of a second Facehugger on board the escape pod. The character of ‘Golic’ and his descent into madness would now be shown in much more depth (the FX were still shite though). The thirty minutes added by this cut changed my experience entirely. I finally found what it was that made ‘Alien3’ a more enjoyable movie. What I could never fathom, however, was if it took the ‘Assembly Cut’ to make me finally appreciate it, how come everyone else was sufficiently satisfied by the theatrical release?

By the time the group disbanded, I could never convince anyone that ‘Alien: Resurrection’ wasn’t that bad. Once again, I was alone. Nuts.

March 14, 2010 Posted by | Film, Sci-Fi | Leave a comment

“Get to da chopper!”

This could be great or a colossal arse-ache of a event. From Robert Rodriguez:

March 13, 2010 Posted by | Film, Sci-Fi | Leave a comment

Comic Book Movie Roundup

A couple of weeks ago I was FB messaging with an old friend, who, for the purposes of my blog, shall be referred to as ‘McDaddy’ (or, seeing as I love Apple Macs, I guess I should be the ‘Mac Daddy’? No? Ok).

It all stemmed from a link he sent me posted on YouTube from www.reelzchannel.com which talked about live-action adaptations of ‘Robotech’, ‘Ghost In The Shell’ and ‘Akira’ (for the record it’s a big Siskel & Ebert ‘two thumbs DOWN’ from me on all three). Here’s that link: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=7_DarhYERwI

Anyways, I took the opportunity to evaluate the plethora of big-screen adaps of established comic-book characters. I think I’m bang on the money with my take on things. So, I thought I’d post them.

DC:

‘Batman’: Started poorly with the campy saga (Burton/Schumacher). Redeemed with Nolan (NOTE. Maggie Gyllenhall gives a performance in ‘The Dark Knight‘ that’s so poor that she has you begging for Katie Holmes to have taken that role again!).

‘Superman’: Classic start. Downhill from there, culminating in Singer’s dreadful ‘Superman Returns‘.

‘The Phantom’: As vacuous as the apparition.

‘Swamp Thing’: Reasonable casting, with Louis Jordan making a suave Arcane. Little else is that memorable though.

‘Constantine’: Is John Constantine a cynical, morally ambiguous, hard-drinking, chain-smoking, foul-mouthed Scouser in this? No. What’s the point then?

MARVEL:

‘Iron Man’: Almost flawless. It’s problem. Terrence Howard. Said problem removed for ‘IM2‘.

‘X-Men’ (inc. ‘Origins: Wolverine’): Overblown saga with some truly ropey performances (Halle Berry, James Marsden, Rebecca Romjin-Stamos…..). ‘X3‘ not as bad as some say but still below-par. ‘Wolverine’ does have Gambit but royally fucks up Deadpool.

‘Ghost Rider’: * enter your own derogatory comment here*

‘Hulk’: ‘Lee’s version is an utter travesty. Leterrier’s ‘Incredible Hulk‘ vast improvement, but not great.

‘Captain America’: Is there any more polite way of saying “shite”?

‘Spider-Man’: Un-gripping start, great sequel, diabolical third act. Showed some classic Raimi shots but not enough to keep you interested. Dunst is just tiresome in all of them.

‘Fantastic Four’: First movie. Boring. ‘Rise Of The Silver Surfer‘. It had the Silver Surfer. It had Galatcus as a huge fart cloud. Still boring.

‘DareDevil’: Moments of good action and faithfulness. Dreadful casting. The ‘Director’s Cut’ is much improved.

‘Punisher’: Lundgren’s is instantly forgettable. Thomas Jane is just as dreadful as Frank Castle. As for ‘War Zone‘, Ray Stevenson makes a pretty good Castle. Still ropey thanks to the casting of Colin Salmon and some dodgy dialogue. Get’s the level of violence and bloodshed just right to the source material, making this the best attempt so far.

The rest:

‘Hellboy’: I am biased, but a great start and a brilliant sequel . Extremely close to the source material and excellent casting. Didn’t really need the creation of John Myers to help the audience along though.

Alan Moore: ‘V For Vendetta’ still stands as the best adaptation so far. ‘Watchmen’ is the best we could have hoped for but is still flawed. ‘From Hell’ is ok in parts. ‘The League Of Extraordinary Gentlemen’ was fucked from the outset.

‘Spawn’: Still waiting for the reboot. A great character utterly wasted on an under-developed script, atrocious dialogue and under-produced FX. ‘Clown’ looked reasonable at the time but hasn’t dated well.

’30 Days Of Night’: Ok. Not as astounding as the Niles/Templesmith series, just ‘ok’.

‘Wanted’: Was it? Really? No, didn’t think so.

‘Sin City’: More typical mysogonistic tripe from Miller (who should just not develop female characters EVER). Over-cooked, over-hyped and utterly tedious.

‘300’: Inferior to the graphic novel and drawn out to the edge of boredom. A good cure for insomnia though.

‘The Spirit’: (*see ‘Sin City’). Refer to the cliché of Will Eisner spinning in his grave.

To come:

‘Thor’: RSC master Kenneth Branagh bringing the son of Odin to the big screen? Really? Heavy on the dialogue. Little comic-book action to be expected. No balance.

‘Green Lantern’: Great character, especially as the Hal Jordan/Parallax is the one being worked on for the L/A. However, his superpower being a ‘glowing ring’? Expect ridicule. Also, Ryan Reynolds? Martin Campbell? Expect derision.

March 13, 2010 Posted by | Comics, Film, Sci-Fi | Leave a comment

Where it all began……

So, this is my first attempt at running a blog of my very own. I think it appropriate to acknowledge the mission statement:

” I hereby promise to post irreverent thoughts and opinions and to recount my journey through various fads and addictions related to my fascination of all that is nerdy and cool.”

I think that sums it up. I am a fanboy. I make no apologies. Actually, I’m kinda proud of that fact.

I guess this can be seen as the beta version of my blog. The jumping-off point, if you will. Hopefully, it’ll be more BSG (just kept getting better every season) than ‘Heroes’ (just keeps getting duller with every season). One thing I can guarantee, it won’t be the equivalent of ‘Lost’ (empty and irrelevant at every conceivable level).

I’m hoping to use this as a means to announce my ponderings on the stuff that keeps me sane, be it movies, comics, music, sci-fi, TV, even sport (beware aggressive postulations on the week-in/week-out performances of Leeds United and London Irish, as well as F1. You have been warned.)

Why a blog though? Honestly, with the limited Facebook/Twitter update space, I just don’t find them sufficient enough to air my thoughts (adequate space to postulate thoughts was the one benefit of MySpace). So, in a moment of cataclysmic revelation akin to the point Agent Kujan looks at the bulletin board at the end of ‘The Usual Suspects’ and realizes he’s let ‘Verbal’/’Soze’ walk (too soon?), I decided to set this up.

Well, it’s a start.

I do have one question.

Uwe Boll. What’s up with that?

March 13, 2010 Posted by | General Musings | Leave a comment