Ah, Japan! A country I would love to visit. And apparently, every giant monster on the planet agrees with this sentiment as they all end up in Tokyo at some point. So what can Japan do about this? Why, it can electrocute a poor man until he grows to a size large enough to fight off these monsters, of course. BIG MAN JAPAN is a documentary following this man – Masaru – on his daily routine.
I promised Dinosaurs, didn’t I?
I found an interesting article over on Science Daily. Researchers at Ohio University have run a study comparing the head-butting ability of many modern animals, as well as one of the classic Dinosaurs – Pachycephalosaurus.
“Pachycephalosaur domes are weird structures not exactly like anything in modern animals. We wanted to test the controversial idea that the domes were good for head butting,”
The Dinosaur is, of course, much better at butting heads than modern animals. But then, we all knew that it would be, right? You can find the full story here.
Just a quick post this morning, to highlight a couple of Star Wars inspired adverts. Like me, you may have been entertained recently by the VW ad with the small child dressed up as Darth Vader? If you haven’t seen it, I’ve included it below. Well, Greenpeace have just subverted it somewhat, with their own take on the Star Wars message used by VW. I’ve also included the video below. It just goes to show how fundamental the Star Wars themes can be.
You can find out more about the Greenpeace claims here: vwdarkside.com
This just looks beautiful. It’s only a short teaser, so there’s not really much given away, but it has made me just a little bit excited!
Considering the quality of RANGO earlier this year, and my lack of interest in CARS 2, Pixar needed to come up with something special. It looks like they have managed to do just that.
It’s due out in June next year in America, so we in the UK may well get it a little later than that. (Disney seem to like keeping Pixar releases back until the autumn half-term for us).
Why I always expect the worst from Superhero films.
I went to see THE GREEN LANTERN. I went into the cinema expecting the film to be awful. I treated THOR the same. In the end, I enjoyed both of these films and walked out saying ‘it was better than I thought it would be’.
Why do I expect the worst? I’ve not been an avid reader of either THOR or GREEN LANTERN comics (more because I can’t afford to read EVERY comic series than any lack of desire to) so I have no real fan-boy worries about outfits being wrong, characters being ill-used or origin stories being altered. Besides, none of these mean that a film will be bad. I don’t need a modern movie masterwork in order to have a good time watching a film.
I wonder if it’s a defence-mechanism. Do I try to expect the worst from a film, so that I stand a greater chance of enjoying it? I don’t think so. Why would I only do this with superhero movies?
I think I truly expect them to be bad.
A good superhero film has so many potential pit-falls, that the odds of it actually coming together in an (purposefully) entertaining way are so very, very slim.
For example, the main character of the piece is likely to have been re-launched multiple times in the comics with slightly different back-story, or marginally varying powers each time. Picking the villain of the film? Well, there are going to be several to choose from. Do you go for the arch-nemesis? If you’re introducing a hero, then there isn’t really enough screen-time for an interesting nemesis. And, again, there are probably altering versions of this nemesis, too. Would you pick one of the popular stories from the comics? The story will probably have to be altered for the big-screen anyway.
When someone takes on a superhero film, then they really do have great power (They have a shot at making one of the busiest films of the year) but it is also their responsibility to get it right.
Thankfully, so far this year the hit ratio has been pretty good. I really enjoyed THOR – it was fresh, full of humour and I had a smile on my face throughout. X-MEN FIRST CLASS let me down a bit (for the reasons mentioned in an earlier post), but I won’t deny that it was very well made. As for THE GREEN LANTERN, see below.
I’m actually looking forward to CAPTAIN AMERICA later this year. Fingers crossed.
So, what of THE GREEN LANTERN?
This film – like most superhero films – would rely mainly on the performance of its lead. You know what? Ryan Reynolds was really good. He managed to play ‘cocky fighter pilot’ with enough depth that his transition to being a hero was believable.
Blake Lively was disappointing, but this may be down to script issues. We’re TOLD an awful lot about her character, but don’t SEE her do much beyond standing around or being saved.
Special mention goes to Mark Strong – calm, heroic and menacing all at once.
The special effects were, on occasion, astounding and greatly enhanced by 3D.
I never really felt a great deal of threat from the villain of the piece, and certainly not an ‘end of the world’ level of menace. However, as a tool to make the Green Lantern shine, the use of ‘fear’ worked very, very well.
Admittedly, some of the film is a little clunky. However, I really felt some enthusiasm coming across, and a sense of fun with the action scenes.
Go see it. It is good.
Small note for the guy sat next to me in the screen; where DO you buy never-ending bags of popcorn? Or where you just rustling for the fun of it after a while?
Just a quickie to point the way to my review of GHOST STORIES over on the wonderful ITCHY LONDON. Is the show as scary as all of its advertising makes out? Well… you’ll just have to read the review to find out.
A look at CREATURE FROM THE BLACK LAGOON.
Whilst recently writing a review of the film (I’ll post a link when it’s published) it became apparent to me that there is a little more depth to this particular horror than perhaps it has been given credit for over the years. If you don’t know it, it’s one of Universal’s classic horrors, and was originally shown in 3D. (Oh, what I’d give to see it in 3D on the big screen. I hear that the BFI have a print…) Here’s the original trailer for the film.
Let us start by breaking down the horror aspect of these classic horrors. The monsters really represent our fear of an aspect of ourselves. With THE WOLFMAN, it’s our animal nature, with DRACULA it’s sexuality (obviously, amongst many other things), FRANKENSTEIN our fear of death. With each of these, the our regular safe boundaries have been broken, which creates the horror. So what does The Creature represent?
He hasn’t been created through careless science, nor is he trying to invade or attack. Indeed, it is humans that are invading HIS home, out in the deepest darkest Amazon. Maybe then, he represents our fear of nature, and how little we know about our own planet? He also lives underwater, which I believe is very significant. We know less about the deep underwater reaches of our planet, and less about the creatures that live down there. Visually, this creates a very strong divide between what we know and what we don’t. From our safety in the boat or on land, we cannot even see underwater. A metaphor, perhaps, for just how little we know? In the film, the underwater kingdom of the Black Lagoon is explored – or invaded – by our heroes. This is always when they are most at risk.
So what of the most startling and memorable scene in the film? The beautiful Julie Adams decides to take a swim and simply enjoy the lagoon. The Creature sees her, but only watches at first. Then he swims in parallel to her, mirroring her underwater. Finally he allows himself to briefly touch her ankles before swimming away and hiding. No killing, or mutilation. The reason that this scene stands out to me is because it is the only time that the two worlds meet and interact in a peaceful way, and it is on the surface of the lagoon, where the two worlds – the known and unknown – meet. Every time that this boundary is crossed, it results in horror, bloodshed or death.
What is the lesson, then? Perhaps the simple one that we cannot understand or control all the world, and that we should perhaps attempt to live in harmony with it? Or maybe that we can end up destroying the very thing that we’re attempting to understand? Maybe it’s just me, but I don’t see the eventual defeat of The Creature as a perfect happy ending.
So, I saw X-MEN: FIRST CLASS last week. It was enjoyable enough, despite a few flaws. However, there was one thing nagging at me throughout the film.
I’m bored of origin stories.
I understand that there are good ones, and great ones (BATMAN BEGINS and the recent STAR TREK reboot spring to mind), and that there may be interesting stories to tell. I understand that it’s a way to reboot an ailing franchise. But they ARE boring. Why? Because, essentially, over the course of an entire film the characters are just being put into place ready to have the amazing adventures that we know they will have. Only we don’t see those amazing adventures, we get an origin story.
I’ll take X-MEN: FIRST CLASS as my example. Yes, it’s interesting to see Magneto and Xavier in their early days. But, frankly, I think it’s more fun to watch them at their prime. A film with the X-Men and Brotherhood duking it out with all their powers properly understood and largely developed. That’s what I would rather have paid £9.80 to watch.
It’s a bit of a rant, I know, but hey – that’s what blogs are for!