Imagine my “uhg :(” upon hearing that not only would one of my all time most loved films (John Carpenter’s 1982 The Thing, a remake of the 1951 The Thing From Another World, based on the short 1938 ‘Who Goes There?’) was about to receive the prequel treatment, but it would share the SAME EXACT TITLE OF THE ORIGINAL [REMAKE] in order to totally fuck with my DVD filing system. Despite my initial scepticism I lowered my axe and stopped Google mapping the houses of the production team upon learning that the crew were obsessive fan boys who’d gone over the 5 min scene of that smouldering Norwegian base with an anally attentive eye, weeding out all possibilities of how the shit went down at the camp 24 hours before it hit the American base. This was no half-assed studio grab for cash (….not entirely) but a Hollywood financed fan fiction by a duo of fanatics. And best of all it would show the alien in its first form before it added people and dogs to its lexicon. So why did it suck?
Well mainly it’s the story, a retread of the 1982 movie with a few variations of the familiar sequences. The biggest let down is that we learn nothing new about the creature who demands a film dedicated to exploring the physiology alone, and its true alien form is quickly ditched in favour of humanoid designs – seen that back in ‘82, now show us more lobstrocities from Planet X! The characters feel like nothing more than underdeveloped monster fodder and it’s all too predictable to know who the hidden alien is, which is never a good aspect in a narrative centred on paranoia and guess work. Most damming of all though was the decision to use CGI rather than practical effects. The 1982 films’ puppets/robots were the finest of it’s time, and although their quality may appear dated to modern audiences the masterful direction skills of John Carpenter made use of light/shadows and camera positions to minimise obvious puppetry while maximising gross-out scares. The fact theses were fully automated animatronics bound in rubbery flesh and oozing all manner of vile viscous fluids gives them an off-putting ‘almost real’ vibe, which is why 30 years on they are still much more frightening than computer generated creatures, because no matter how convincing the CGI it’ll always lack that crude physicality (those who doubt should compare the slug-turds of Shivers to those in Slither).
The shame of all this is that this [p]re-make’s producers went to the trouble of crafting fully working animatronics, only to then overlay them with postproduction flesh tones to better match them to the lighting, rather than adapting their lighting to better hide their imperfections. The end result is a film with blockbuster glitz and glamour that undermines the horrific designs, and tries to tries to follow in the footsteps of its forbearer with a few new twists that fail to distract from the fact this is a fan love letter to Carpenter. A letter written from the heart and with some creative flair, but nothing more. This is The Thing….2011.
BLARP BLARP FUCKING BLARP SHIT CUNTING BUTTHOLE MATT LEBLANC! That about sets the appropriate tone. In a world where films like this can be funded, made, and populated with A-list actors (or should that be a list actor), can mankind truly expect to advance as society, particularly one dominated by capitalism and commerce? Well as the 2008-Present recession has shown, no it can’t, and wastage of cash on poor-meh CGI blockbusters hasn’t exactly helped matters.
This film is detestable for many, many reasons which will all be details in time. Once again 1997 has made the shit list, forcing my time machine/time anthropomorphic personification device to be rushed into even speedier production in the vain hopes that one day I shall be able to meet ’97 and roundhouse kick her in the January 1st to prevent her spawning 12 months of atrocious, art-killing features. I lost my innocence to this year like the Robinson family lost their planet, and with it their dignity as Matt Leblanc piloted them deeper and deeper into the abyss…
For many the announcement of a new ‘origins’ film that went back and updated the original crew on their early adventures was a blessed celebration of everything they love about the franchise, while others thought it a blighting – a sacrilege of their childhood memories…
I don’t like the original Star Trek. It’s considered slander to say as such, and many would have me retract my status as a virgin for proclaiming it, but what can I say; Next Generation is where my devotion lies. Now don’t get me wrong; the characters and ideology, innovations and being almost singlehandedly responsible for all sci-fi ideas and technological developments since the late 1960s are all fantastic – that’s not my problem. My problem is the fucking Trekies, who bluntly refuse to admit that it’s far from perfection, if not the divine manifestation of the Madonna herself; never mind that I find it cheesy, misogynist, poorly acted and more fun to dwell on than watch, these tunnel vision wankers have been a bane to sci-fi and the general populous for decades, so if they hate this film then I say ‘good’, let ‘em watch the same 72 episodes till the end of time and let us non-fans be. Blesses with a non-bias viewpoint, I can fairly state that this is as good as a Star Trek re-boot could be. However, it’s still plagued with problems – predominantly that viewing can cause severe motion sickness, seizures, migraines and epileptic fits, as is to be expected from anything from J. J. Abrams. So let’s take a trip into the final frontier with sickbags at the ready.
The concept is a simple one, one that has been working for some time now; find a successful film or movie franchise that belongs to another country; make a Hollywood blockbuster version of it (because Hollywood can make a spectacular blockbuster out of a Minsk period drama about one impoverished peasant boy and his love of the kitchen radiator); fuck it up beyond all recognition, including the scrapping of all culturally specific resonance and significance, relatable characters, deep thought provoking subtext, and instead make it about Americans’ overcoming adversity using weapons (specifically the military and their guns); blame the original source material for never being good enough to have made a decent ‘reimagining’ in the first place once it flops spectacularly; move back to stage one; repeat process. Sounds familiar right? Thus, in response to reading a very good article on the subject by astute film critic Mark Kermode, today’s instalment shall be the woefully abysmal Godzilla ‘reimagining’ of 1998; a movie conceived to be the first of an ongoing monster mash staring the title character, only to end up as one of Hollywood’s greatest and most savagely berated blunders. It wasn’t just that the film was bad or pointless, but that it was so lacking in the symbolism and subtext that made the Japanese original so powerful and significant to begin with (a film made in response to AMERICA DESTROYING NAGASAKI AND HIROSHIMA WITH ATOMIC BOMBS – that’s like a Japanese adaptation of 9/11 but declaring themselves the true victims of the attack, such is the irony here) But hey, at least it didn’t feature Godzooky…oh…
In a time present historians call the past, and future historians will call the past-er or ‘past plus’ there was a film called Planet of the Apes, a romantic comedy that was mistakenly billed as science fiction. Nowadays we refer to it as a classic to avoid confusion when hunting it down in local video rental stores (unless you’re reading this after 1998, and it’s all done by downloading into some magic box in your home), and hail it as one of the grand masterpieces of social commentary film making. And then in 2000 some floppy haired individual with delusions of grandeur whom wears sunglasses all hours of the day yet isn’t Bono (future readers will know him as the current Space Pope) decided it warranted a remake, only with less of that glorious social critiquing and monumental (literally) ending stuff, and better ape costumes….okay so that part I can deal with. So in honour of the recent release of Rise of the Planet of the Apes, here is Tim Burton’s Planet of the Apes (2001)