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. 2

Last time on Ticket Stub Refund…

“We’re going into the HIVE.” SECURITY ALARMS. “I. HAVE. AMNESIA!” “Deactivate the little girl laser robot, stat!” GUN FIRE. “Zombies!!!” “You’re all going to die down here.” GROANS and UNDEAD MOANS. “*Gasp*, my amnesia has amnesia!” “The Pokémon has gone AWOL. Repeat, Lickitongue is on the loose!” TRAIN WHOOSH. “Oh Christ, we lost the generic sassy Latino.” “We’re free!” “Haha! Double-cross.” “Noooo~!” Zompocalypse………..

And now…

Last time I decided to pit two mighty game franchise fanbases of the past decade against each other, by comparing the underwhelmingly pedestrian Resident Evil movie to the blandness that is today’s post, Silent Hill. Without wanting to pick sides, based on the only good game either franchise have ever produced (churning out poorly concived sequels and prequels like parents that have kids for the tax benefits rather than because they want them and are proud of their achievements), I prefer Silent Hill [2]. While Resident Evil [4] has action, story and swashbuckling action in abundance, Silent Hill [2] was steeped in atmosphere, psychosexual imagery, and purpose. Sure it handles like a remote controlled shopping trolly operated by a drunken, thumbless 85 year old with sever cerebral palsy, and yes its central character had the unfortunate personality, spine and likability of post-election Nick Clegg, but the game itself crafted a world that was unique to it and used it to scare the living shit out of the player. Now I’m not going to waffle on about how deep, meaningful and symbolic Silent Hill 2 is (a much more concise and hilarious account can be found on Zero Punctuation: (http://www.escapistmagazine.com/videos/view/zero-punctuation/878-Silent-Hill-2) because it’d only hammer home the utter disappointment of the 2005 movie. When I say the town of Silent Hill is the most interesting character in the game it’s a compliment; when said about the film it’s an indication of how truly dull and lifeless this entire production is. Perhaps it’s fitting that thick fog should be so prominently featured, as these 90-odd minutes are about as interesting as flying through clouds on a 16 hour direct flight to Australia – and the only onboard movie is Silent Hill! Man this is going to be an arduous one…

*WARNING: for the purpose of Silent Hill-esque atmosphere, this review will feature moments of tension and scare tactics – in HD, DTS, 3D!!! Readers with nervous conditions should buckle their sphincters now*

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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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No Refunds Folks

With 2012 here and the race between Galactus and Unicron to reach and consume earth only 11 months away, I figured I’d take a few weeks o take stock of my life, get bored of that and return to wailing on bad movies – it’ll take more than planetary annihilation to change my ways. So with fans no doubt clamouring for new material, having devotedly read and committed the entire content of this site to memory, here’s a little taster for the current crop batch up for consideration – I hope you hate the selection as much as I do:

Wild Wild West

Alien Resurrection

Star Wars Specials Episodes II & III

Iron Man 2/ Incredible Hulk/ Thor/ Captain America/ The Avengers

Resident Evil Vs Silent Hill

Transformers

X-men: The Last Stand

The Twilight Saga

The Village

Alien vs Predator

Tomb Raider 1&2

Scream 1-4

Ring/Ringu

Lost world/JP3 double bill

Cloverfield

Saw 1-7

Daredevil

Catwoman

Elektra

Matrix Reloaded

Watchmen

Terminator 3

League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

And if we don’t all die horribly on December 23rd, maybe a revised anniversary edition of Green Lantern.

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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Star Wars Specials Episode I: The George Lucas Menace

Once upon a time there lived a shy, discerning young boy with an obsessive addiction to television to make up for the lack of friends. In 1967 he was awarded a scholarship at Warner Brothers for his short film THX 1138, where he met with up-and-coming director Francis Ford Coppola who took the retreating young Lucas under his wing, instilling in him the confidence to make the movies that he wanted to make – too Hell with the studio system. Oh the irony that despite being mentored by one of the master art-house pioneers of the decade, Lucas’ Star Wars only helped cement the blockbuster, death of art, ‘greed is good’ mentality of the movie making world, as studios desperately tried to reign-in the ego-mad directors running amuck with their wildly escalating budgets and Apocalypse Now release push-backs – affirming and justifying the need for the heads of Fox, Warner Bros et al to reassume control at the expense of ‘artistic vision’ after a decade of directors running the show. If not for George Lucas, and Stephen Spielberg deserves no fewer lashings for this, we’d all have a lot more District 9s and a lot less Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen in our picture houses right now, all because by-the-numbers, epic in audio/visual scope (though not narrative) films with high child-merchandise capabilities were proved to be more profitable than say Super or Stranger than Fiction thanks to Star Wars and its ilk. Yes, thank you George for allowing studios to make more from mass profit toy sales with ZERO collectors value (all those ‘Power of the Force’ figures in your cupboard since the mid 90s: burn ‘em to save on heating bills) than on drawing in audiences with intelligent, provocative features that may actually make people think.  

Not contented with destroying art in cinema for over 3 decades, and self-evidently holding little to no love of his own creation, pre-Ewok (Lucas admittedly went through Hell making Star Wars, which is why directing duties went to the excellent Irvin Kershner for the stand-alone brilliance that is Empire Strikes Back), Lucas has since gone on to repeatedly shun the original fans who got him to where he is today; the Prequels, the re-edits after re-edits, the shoddy rips of the originally presented Saga despite Lucas campaigning against filmmakers tampering with their films AND presenting viewers with the best possible quality of film – this man just does not give two shits about those who made him the one-man monopoly he is today. And as if this hasn’t been made clear enough since Return of the Jedi, here’s the ultimate proof: if not enough people shell out for the £9/$15 tickets to see Phantom Menace 3D then we won’t get to see any of the other films as they should be seen: on the big screen. That’s right, Lucas hasn’t got the message that Episode I is derided, despised trash, or he has realised and is using it as blackmail: “Hey Guys, you wanna see Empire right? Well then you better go see Episode I, II & III then”.

With Phantom Menace now threatening selected cinema screens once again, now ‘enhanced’ with post- edit 3D rendering to add migraines to the mix, and with the new year knocking at the floodgates of time, there is no better time to re-familiarise myself and readers with one of the most cash-sapping pieces of crap since Batman went Schumacher.

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