X-Men: The Pubic Years

Who doesn’t love the X-Men? Before Iron Man changed thing like a bat-themed vigilante changed Gotham, almost anyone you stopped in the street could reel off more mutants that any superhero type, even if they’d never held a comic beyond using it to beat its dorky owner around the head before going off to do man stuff (as one of the frequently beaten, I assumed this involves lots of sex making with those terrifying cootie-carriers called “girls”, and chopping down trees while shirtless). Yes the X-Men enjoyed some pretty lofty times capturing the hearts and minds of millions, helped exponentially by the still acclaimed 1993-97 animated series and game-changing block buster movies. But then Mojo infiltrated 20th Century Fox in order to destroy his enemies in the most effective way possible: bad ratings. Sub-standard films staring way too much Halle Berry, not enough Deadpool and WAAAAAYYYYYY too many subplots followed. Initially ­X-Men: First Class appeared to be a salvation from this near-devastating blow to the franchise. But as with a certain blue-skinned woman, looks can be deceiving…

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A Parasite that Absorbs and Shamelessly Imitates the Form of the Original

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.

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‘Battleship’, or Hasbro Presents ‘Veteran’s Day: The Movie!’

Two men in suits sit in a bath tub filled with hundred dollar bills, naked women and fried swan meat. One reaches for the cocaine bucket but finds it worryingly low. To sooth his clearing head he turns on the taps and to his horror discovers only a stream of $50 comes pouring forth. He turns to his equally worried associate.

Movie Executive 1: Time for a new film.

Movie Executive 2: How about something about offensively rich kids spending their parent’s money on lavish parties and having copious amounts of sex during a time of global recession and mass unemployment?

Movie Executive 1: Nah, Made in Chelsea and Real Mums of the OC already have the monopoly on that.

Movie Executive 2: Hold up, did you say ‘monopoly’…..?

Movie Executive 1: Ho. Lee. Shit. Are you picturing what I’m picturing?

Movie Executive 2: Board games, the last untapped frontier. We buy up a load of game product rights and make tenuously linked narratives to fit.

Movie Executive 1: I’ll phone Hasbro, they’ll do anything for money.

Movie Executive 2: We can cut further corners thusly; we have a load of CGI left over from the good edits of the Transformer films we’ll never release, the soundtrack rights to Iron Man 2 and all the ACDC anyone could ask for, and since we dropped both the movie adaptations of Cysis and Under the Dome mid-production we have all those cool mecha suits and force field effects on hand. Not only that but apparently boats are in vogue this movie season, and with Veteran’s Day coming up we can claim money off tax by using real war survivors in place of actors. Then all we do is paste it together with deleted scenes from Top Gun and Pearl Harbour and you get……wait for it…..BATTLESHIPS!

Movie Executive 1: I think you made my mind cum so hard you turned it gay! Excellent work Number 2. I’m so impressed that were this swan sandwich a woman I’d make it fuck you.

Review coming soon…….

….or not. You see, after several weeks sitting, brooding on the film, starting and stopping, I’ve come to realise that there is nothing stand-out enough about Battleship to do a piece on. It’s as bland as it is stupidly compelling, and practically all you need to know about it has been summised by the preamble. So sorry to disapoint but I have conceded defeat. Congratulations Battleship, you are so lacking in any substance that you’ve slipped the net. Now kindly fade from memory so we can continue to bask in the glory of Avengers Assemble.

This is how the World Ends; not with a Bang, but with a Baysplosion

Y’know, there was a time, before Pearl Harbour decided to set a quality trend, that Michael Bay proved himself capable of directing entertaining action flicks, marred with goofy stupidity certainly, but competent and inoffensive. Armageddon certainly fails to set the world on fire (thanks to the asteroid nemesis being destroyed before it can do this very thing) however it’s not the worst flick of its kind and even has less racism than we’ve come to expect from him since Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen – and somehow less racist than its death-by-space rival  Deep Impact, a film about a black President attracting the attention of an otherwise uninterested asteroid (at least that’s what I got from it – before Obama proved the film wrong).

So before Pearl Harbour, The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Transformers, Friday the 13t, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen, Nightmare on Elm Street, Transformers: Dark of the Moon and please let me be wrong on this Ninja Turtles, Mr. Bay showed he was capable at big whoosh bang action flicks, with a good cast ensemble playing likable characters, a decent sense of peril and tension, and impressive use of destructo-physics (the birth of the Baysplosion was right here). Were Armageddon a forgettable CGI apoco-flick I’d be tempted to ignore it and move onto the next on the axe-to-grind list (spoiler: possibly Hollow Man or Titanic 3D), HOWEVER I find myself unable to get past this: a NASA consultant and Asteroid expert were brought onboard to make sure the film was as accurate as possible. ARE YOU SHITTING ME?! A story about a hunk of interstellar ice requires an expert on the subject, while the much anticipated Transformers was crafted with no concern for the subject matter and no advice sought from the millions of people with an interest in the franchise? You couldn’t even be bothered to watch the 20 minute pilot episode, yet for this you hired a team of fucking experts?! No, fuck you Michael Bay! And fuck Armageddon!

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Star Wars Specials Episode II: Attack of the Continuity Issues & Compulsory Fan Service

We all came to recognise Phantom Menace for the debacle that it was 10 minutes after the lights dimmed in the cinema, the following 100 minutes going on to make Star Wars fanboys even more intolerable to the rational world as we bitched and moaned like self-righteous Holocaust survivors. However by the time Star Wars Episode II: Attack of the Clones aired its first Fett filled trailer many were convinced that Lucas had learnt his lesson. After all, he’d been out for the writing/directing game a while since Willow, and if you examine the context of the period in which Phantom Menace is set – during the end of the longest period of galactic peace – for all we knew the child-friendly nature of the piece could have been symbolic of the innocence and tranquillity wrapped around the denizens of the fictional galaxy at the time. I’d like to say this could be the case, but as his repeat offences have shown, George Lucas knows crap all about his own characters, setting and general themes of his universe, in addition to also having no idea of pacing, directing, editing, emotion on any level of human comprehension or any of the other baser skills required to handle a film series of this magnitude [to its’ fans]. But what did we care back in the Spring of 2002; this trailer featured more Slave-I dog-fighting, space rhino bronco riding, lightsaber swashbuckling, weird alien gladiatorial battles and plot-thickening romance brewing between Anakin and Padme than we could shake a Bantha at. We were willing to move on, all it had to do was live up to our ridiculous expectations, and how hard could pleasing Star Wars fans be…..?

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Survival Horror of the Fittest, pt.1

Marvel vs DC; Xbox vs Play Station (fuck off Nintendo Wii); Family Guy vs South Park; Coke vs Pepsi, no matter what it is people like to insist upon brand/franchise loyalty, forgetting or overlooking that it’s actually halving their enjoyment factor by denying them certain pleasures they’re getting from the medium. I mean, does it matter if a life-long Marvel fanboy picks up a copy of Suicide Squad in the greater scheme of things? Of course not, but we do it anyway because as a species we are fundamentally retarded like that. Thus to kick start 2012, I figured I’d do the first in a possibly recurring line of joint-part postings with one of the most hotly defended console gamer rivalries from the first decade of the millennium: Resident Evil vs Silent Hill. For the record, both franchises only have onE stand out/good game between them (4 and 2 respectively of the series), yet there was a time when this fractious rivalry rocked the gaming community who clearly had nothing better to do between gaming sessions while waiting for broadband porn to be invented.

Then in 2002 the me-against-them ball really got rolling when Sony released the first of its Resident Evil films, which have proliferated like zombies and have proved to be every bit as unlikable, unkillable and annoying as a plague of shambling corpses – and when fans of Umbrella Chronicles and Resident Evil 0 think the films suck you know they must suck more than your sister at the docks come shore-leave. Not that Silent Hill the movie fared any better (if Resident Evil blows like the pro that is your sister, Silent Hill is as unstimulating as a hand job from your arthritic grandmother), but at least to date we’ve only had two of them – Res now has film 5 on the production slate 😦

So whether you be a fan of the gun-toting adrenaline fuelled shoot-em horrors, or someone who favours that warm trickle of fear (at least I think it’s fear) that comes from the paranoia-oriented slow-burner titles, join me to see which film comes out…well not #1 – that implies there are true winners here -, but not as unwelcome on our screens as a turd in the bathtub. Come one, come all to the Ticket Stub Refund Horror Smack-Down 2012!!!

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Green Masked Monster

This movie is an affront to everybody; comic fans and non-fans alike, cinema goers and film lovers, Warner Brothers back catalogue, the actors (except Ryan Reynolds), the crew, God, DC and especially Geoff Johns. Green Lantern is not just bad; mark my word this film is BORING to the point of being applied in non-lethal combat scenarios as a sleeping agent. The ironic thing is that this film was green-lit to prove that  Warners’ had something up their sleeves aside from the Superman and Batman franchises, no doubt to taunt Marvel Studios imposing and highly successful Avengers franchise (that started with a bang back with Iron Man in 2008) with the possibility of a Justice League film. HA! This has been touted and rumoured for over 20 years and WILL NEVER HAPPEN – the best we can hope for is the Superman Vs Batman fanwank piece and it’s utterly unoriginal premise (details on IMDB.com). Well, it backfired SPECTACULARLY. Make no mistake this film is atrocious; Sex & the City 2 with a bigger CGI budget. This has nothing to do with the source material, given that since Geoff Johns reinvented the title back in 2004, transforming the comic into one of Star Trek Deep Space Nine soap opera proportions set against galactic civil war, making it one of the most popular of DC’s run for years.

So where exactly did it go wrong? Well, as mentioned this was to be Warner’s chance to put a new power-tights wearing hero up on the big screen, mainly due to increasing pressure from Marvel’s successful run, so they were desperate to have complete control over the project to assure success – and we all know how good bureaucrats are at the creative process. So despite bringing Johns himself on to write an adaption of a series he saved from the grave (Hal Jordon has a long and WTF back story prior to this that ended with him essentially becoming Space Stalin and all but destroying the universe…it wasn’t exactly a fan favourite), and proven action director Martin Campbell to direct, Warner, in its desperate panic to make the potential SPACE OPERA SET AGAINST CIVIL WAR appeal to as wide an audience as possible brought on numerous co-writers (because that always work so well) to ‘fix’ the problems they thought plagued Johns script like Parallax in a host body. And guess what happened; we got Top Gun 2011 rather than a sprawling, multi-textual, multi-layered, deeply characterised and extensively populated space opera set against a backdrop of galactic civil war. Gee thanks.

I chose this film as my end of year/Christmas special review because it is so bad, so disappointing, so awful to look at (it’s an ugly film populated with bad design and less convincing CGI than that in Wild, Wild West), so so dull, and an affront to not only comic book movies but to cinema in general, with the added misery of starting Ryan Reynolds. And the worst part is that this will no doubt prevent Warners’ risking a gambit on any of their other licence rights such as Wonder Woman, Flash, Cyborg, Dead Man, or even Aquaman – instead they’ll just reboot Batman in 3 years (I wish this was just pessimistic thinking but they have stated as much once Nolan abdicates his seat on the franchise). So congratulations Warner Brothers on producing a film that not only destroyed your dreams of beating Marvel Studios at their own game and making a shit ton of cash, but for the miraculous way you’ve finally stopped the nerd community ragging on Batman & Robin. This is your prize, the top spot on Ticket Stubs’ refund pile.

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