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Thursday, 21 April 2011

Deckard is Not a Replicant. Deal With It.

Yesterday, a friend and I were seeing if we could name actors who have never died in a movie, and when he suggested Harrison Ford, I was stumped. I couldn't think of a movie Harrison Ford had died in, but was sure he must have. So, we took to the internet, and discovered a thread discussing the exact same thing. Naturally, one of the first posts on there said "Yes, he died in What Lies Beneath" (duh), but this wasn't what caught my eye. Instead, what caught my interest was a later post, stating "He was technically never alive in Blade Runner", obviously referring to the suggestion that Deckard was a replicant.

I've heard this suggestion on multiple occasions, and whilst it makes sense that there is a certain degree of ambiguity about Deckard's nature (the film was based on a Philip K. Dick novel, after all), it seems that many people take the idea that Deckard is a replicant as being an absolute truth, as though there is no question about it. And I don't see how they could have come to this conclusion, because looking at the facts:

Deckard starts the film apparently retired. He is roped in by the police to hunt down the four escaped replicants who have come to Earth. There is clearly a suggestion that Deckard has been a Blade Runner for quite some time, and has since been in retirement for quite a while as well. Now, the obvious point to make here is that, if Deckard had a limited lifespan, as most replicants do, then he would not have been able to have been working for long enough to become the best, and then go into retirement for a significantly long period for it to be a shock when they bring him back in. But, I know what your response to that will be "Deckard has had false memories implanted, making him believe he was a Blade Runner before, when in fact he only comes into existence around the point where the movie starts, as a specifically designed Blade Runner replicant". Whilst this argument does make sense; after all, we know Rachael had false memories implanted to make her believe she was human, this still ignores the obvious.

Firstly, the cops all act as though they know Deckard, and speak to him as though they are old friends, and yet, if he was a replicant, they wouldn't have known him. Not only this, but when they discuss his past, they would have to be familiar with the backstory that had been given to the replicant Deckard in order to make their statements fit in with what Deckard remembered. This means that either the cops would have had to have been told Deckard was a replicant, and told the exact details of the false memories he was given, and told to act as though they knew him, and everything in the memories had really happened to him as well, which is a long shot, or; Deckard is a replicant based on a real Blade Runner named Deckard, whose memories were implanted into the replicant version of him, whose colleagues are unable to distinguish from the original. Now, this argument does make sense, but not in the context of the rest of the film. And here's why:

If Deckard's memories of being a Blade Runner prior to the start of the film are fake, that means they were deliberately implanted in his memory. The reason for this is simple: Deckard was designed to hunt other replicants; that is his only purpose. But then, why is he so weak when compared to the other replicants? Think about it; Deckard only kills one of the four escaped replicants without a ridiculous stroke of luck:

Leon - had the drop on Deckard, and would have killed him if Rachael hadn't turned up at that exact second.

Pris - Could easily have broken Deckard's neck, but chose to release him and taunt him rather than just kill him. Not only this, but Deckart only managed to kill her because he got to his gun - he would have stood no chance hand-to-hand, nor if she had really wanted him dead.

Roy - Deckard never killed him. In fact, he had Deckard in a position where he could have killed him with ease, but saved his life instead, before succumbing to the built-in defect designed to keep replicants in check.

In fact, the only replicant that Decker manages to kill by himself without them allowing him to do so is the stripper who he shoots as she tries to evade capture. And even she manages to knock him flying, and get quite a way; and she isn't even designed as a combat replicant - she was designed as an advanced sex toy for off-world soldiers.

So, if Deckard is the most advanced replicant in the world, and was made specifically for the purpose of hunting down and retiring other replicants - why the hell wouldn't he be as strong as even the weakest of the replicants he is hunting? Sure, they wanted to make him appear as human as possible, so that even he would think he was human - but why make him so much weaker than those he is hunting? If Deckard is a replicant, he has to have been designed to be a Bladerunner; there's no other explaination for his memories (without him being human). So why the hell isn't he strong enough to take on the replicants he is hunting? As I said, every one of the replicants in the film is more powerful than him, and he only seems to beat them by chance, so if he is supposed to be a replicant, that is some awful scripting. Besides, what evidence is there that he even is a replicant?

There is the theory that Rutger Hauer saves Deckard at the end because he is a replicant, but this is utter crap. As evidenced by Hauer's last statements before death. Roy Batty tells Deckard of all the wonderful things he has seen, which will die with him when he goes. There are only two reasons for this. Either:

(1) he saves Deckard simply because he wants to be remembered; he can't believe that when he dies, all the incredible things he has witnessed will die with him, and no-one else will understand the things he saw. But by saving Deckard, he saves his own existence in Deckard's memory, and therefore his experiences live on that little bit longer.

(2) he wants to teach Deckard the value of his own long lifespan. Deckard is a tormented Alcoholic with nothing to live for, and yet when it comes to his final moments, hanging from the edge of a building, he still wants to live. When Roy tells him of all the beauty he has seen in his short life span, he is showing Deckard what he can do with his far longer, human, lifespan, and is trying to teach him to value that which he takes for granted, but which Roy would kill for.

And Guess what? Both these theories kind of revolve around Deckard NOT being a replicant.

I know both these theories are strongly contended, but it really is that simple, guys. Deckard isn't a replicant, Batty doesn't save him because he is a replicant - he's just a regular guy, saved by a replicant who doesn't want to leave this Earth without at least leaving some impact upon it.

Now, of course, I haven't seen the original version of the film; I've only seen the Director's Cut, and the "Final Cut" of the film. Yet, I think the evidence shows that Deckard has to be human. Yes, there is supposed to be a small element of ambiguity, but on the balance of probabilities, Deckard has to be human; either that or the writer was too dumb to notice the massive plotholes he had created and the film is actually nowhere near as good as I give it credit for being. Either way, as far as I'm concerned, the suggestion that "Harrison Ford wasn't technically alive in Blade Runner", is utter Bullshit.


Monday, 18 April 2011

The Superior Wiki is Dead. Long Live the Superior Wiki!

Hmmm... A bit rich coming from "Motifake", don't you think???

Last week, millions of internet users mourned the passing of possibly the greatest site of our time, Encyclopedia Dramatica. Whilst Oldfags fill /b/ with stories of how ED never existed, and was simply a prank played on Newfags to make them believe that every significant story and meme to come out of 4Chan and other such sites could be found in one place, those of us who were familiar with the site found ourselves being linked to their new page, "Oh, Internet", and said but one thing:

How will you ever find out about the origins of this meme without ED?!?!

As a Blogger who frequently lets his Docx slip, posts photos of himself online, has an opinion on everything, and can't handle even the slightest of criticism, you would think that I would be terrified of ED, and the mountains of trolls who visited the site and were more than willing to ruin the lives of countless Bloggers and LiveJournal users simply for teh lulz of it. But whilst I admit that there was a scary side to the underworld of the internet, I still fear that the loss of Encyclopedia Dramatica may be the biggest loss the internet has, or ever will face. And here's why:

Encyclopedia Dramatica was the archive. It took everything great which ever happened on /b/, or the other boards no-one ever visits, and documented it in Wiki form. Whilst I could technically be called an Oldfag to the 4Chan boards, having known of their existence before most of its current users had grown out of dressing as Spiderman on Weekends, I still suffer from the insane problem that I am not a lurker. I drop in on the board on occasion to see what's going on, and to catch up on lulz, but that's it. And so, I have missed almost every historic event to occur on the boards, simply because I spend so little time on there. Jessi Slaughter? Missed it. Tara Gilesbie? Missed it. Chris Chan? Missed it on /b/, caught some of the lulz on *shudder* YouTube. And so on, way back to the beginning - I never caught a significant event on /b/. We'll see what happens with this Qu'ran burning thing from last night, but since the moron actually burnt a copy of "Approaching the Qu'ran", as opposed to the Qu'ran itself, I highly doubt we'll ever hear about it again, unless people are still laughing at how dumb the guy is...

"That Book is Evil, and the work of Satan!" - oh, who am I kidding? It would sound just as dumb putting that caption on a picture of the actual Qu'ran...

And that's what was so great about ED - it captured all of these moments, and stored them in lulzy fashion, so we could cherish them forever, even those that we missed because we were too busy actually doing things with our lives. Why Lurk Moar when you can simply hit up a wiki that tells you everything you need to know about what you've missed between odd sessions on /b/?

[image file: Chicks_with_Dicks_Pictures_From_/b/ has been removed due to a terms of service violation - Staff]

Another great thing about ED was the brutal honesty contained within. The site was run on a shock-for-shock's-sake basis, and tried to put in as many offensive comments as possible. And yet, when you looked at any serious discussion they had on there, the offensive views were always well balanced. For example, whilst many people would have found the articles on Cho Seung offensive, owing to their marvelling at his achieving a high-score, and a 32-1 KDT ratio (fucking camper), it does highlight the point of an underlying encouragement of violence in our society, in much the same way as Oliver Stone's Natural Born Killers did with its potrayal of the evils of the media. Under the lulz, there were serious points being made. The same thing happened with the article on "The Jews did 9/11" - they took a ridiculous theory purported by a number of conspiracy nuts, and simply ran it as being the truth, including crude photoshops of a Rabbi using his Laser-eyes to blow up the World Trade Centre. Sure, the article was written in a ridiculously anti-semitic manner, but it was satirising the way that some redneck Americans genuinely do blame the Jews for the Twin Towers attack, and by taking it to such an extreme, showed the ridiculousness of the idea.

Although, now that I see the photographic evidence...

Not only this, but if you looked at even basic articles, such as discussions on certain websites, you could always rely on the views being fair and balanced. For example, the site praised The Spoony Experiment as having once been a good website, but bedgrudged his fan-films made with the team from That Guy With the Glasses, and his constant over-use of Doctor Insano, a character funny the first time, but massively over used. It also dissed him for being too happy with the banhammer. All of this was true, and it painted a really accurate representation of the site; which whilst insulting, still acknowledged what was good about it, and constructively criticised the problems within it. Of course, it was filled with comments on how fat Spoony's girlfriend is, and how his family was responsible for 9/11 (being Jews), but it was actually a very fair review at heart, simply dressed up to seem more offensive than it really was.

Ok, maybe they didn't dress up Everything...

As an instructional website, too, Encyclopedia Dramatica flourished. It had excellent guides on how to deal with conditions such as "Unwarranted Self-Importance", "I have Aspergers Syndrome", "I Have a 140 IQ" and "Girl on the Internet Syndrome"...

A typical GOTIS sufferer...

On top of this, it also contained guides on what to say to people posting pathetic status's on Facebook in order to get the most lulzy responses, and even had an article on the most hilarious ways to commit suicide, in case you wished to become an hero, rather than just a regular, boring suicide. These guides were all consistently hilarious, and it's sad to think that we may never see them again.

Though, I won't miss the spoilers, that's for sure... oops...

Encyclopedia Dramatica also stood for Truth, and Justice. It was the webiste the internet deserved. It just apparently isn't the website the internet needs right now. No matter how many lawlsuits they were threatened with, the leadership of ED stood firm, refusing to give in in all but the most exceptional of cases. They may have folded to Madeleine McCann's parents' lawyer when it came to their article on how Madeleine was clearly murdered by her mother, but they stood tall against many, many other individuals intent on killing the lulz, and for that, I salute them. Not only this, but even when the website's Overlord, Girlvinyl, was threatened by a group of trolls for posting a rather unpleasant article on how they all lived in their mothers' basements and fapped to Chris Hansen, she still refused to removed the page, despite having her docx leaked, and receiving multiple phonecalls from people saying they were coming to rape her. Now that's some vaguely-heroic shit. Shame, then, that she threw it all away to move to a site so tame as "Oh Internet" - which is basically "Know your Meme" mk. II.

The way they tackled real-world news as well as internet trends also made Encyclopedia Dramatica a valuable resource for tracking down information. For example, there was a lot of talk on this kid "Casey Heynes" last month, but his video was blocked on YouTube to anyone who wasn't logged in (and, as I have explained before, I'm not able to log in to my YouTube any more). But who needs YouTube when a source as comprehensive as Encyclopedia Dramatica was available? Encyclopedia Dramatica frequently contained more details on events than Wikipedia, even if half of them were simply made up. They were so comprehensive that they managed to shame Wikipedia staff into updating their Pokemon pages to include a section on "I Herd U Liek Mudkipz", among other things, and I learnt a lot more about the Japanese Tsunami from ED than I did from Rupert Murdoch (even if half of it was Fallout 3 jokes...)

Possibly the thing I will miss most about Encyclopedia Dramatica, though, is the hilarity of the site. I would frequently read Cracked as my lunchtime comedy, then switch over to ED for my late night lulz. You could go on just about any article, and there would be plenty of laughs to be had. It may well have all been user-submitted material, and therefore patchy and inconsistent, but the editors sure as hell did a good job keeping it as funny as they possibly could. I look at this site "Oh Internet", the toned-down replacement for ED, and can't help but feel they're selling out to try and appeal to a wider audience. After all that shit they gave to sites like Memebase and Know Your Meme, you would like to have thought Encyclopedia Dramatica would stick to its principles, and remain one of the most dark, shocking sites on the internet. Instead, it has just become another place where all the kids who think dressing up as "Rage Face Guy" and "Forever Alone" and taking pictures of yourself in class is cool will hang out, and will eventually die a slow and un-lulzy, as it fades into the unfunny background of mainstream memes. I tried to parody this attitude last year with my articles on "going viral", and "creating a meme" - the idea of trying to force something to be popular, and therefore making it incredibly pathetic, and I can't help but feel the creators of "Oh Internet", henceforth know as "The Murderers of Encyclopedia Dramatica", have betrayed their own values. And for that, I feel genuinely disappointed. In fact, the only good thing I can see coming out of this situation is that the title for "Most Offensive Webiste on Earth" is now up for grabs, and assuming actual Nazis and Hatemongers don't qualify for the title, I may have a fairly good shot at it.

Is there an award for Blog containing the lamest puns?

I can't help but feel that the day ED died may well have been the day the lulz died, and whilst it may increase traffic for the Cheezburger Network, or Unencyclopedia, it is a sad day for the rest of mankind. Now cracks a noble heart. Goodnight, sweet Wiki.
And flights of angels sing thee to thy rest...


Get it? No? Fair enough, I didn't think anyone familiar with Shakespeare would watch CSI, or vice-versa...


There's apparently a BBC guy on /b/ right now trying to put together info for a news section to be broadcast on Saturday 23rd at 11.30 - I would call him a troll, but the guy's a Namefag. Shit creeps me out...

Friday, 15 April 2011

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows is the Next Schindler's List

Before I get into anything too serious, I just want to ask one question: Why are people so upset about the scene in this movie where Dobby the House Elf dies? If you ask me, that’s like getting sad if Jar Jar had died in The Phantom Menace...

Fuck this guy.

I watched Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part One on Monday, and have only one major concern – well, 2 if you count the fact that I’m a 22 year-old who not only still watches kids’ films, but then brags about doing so online – were all those references to Nazi Germany and Religion in the book? It’s been years since I read it (I read the book the day it was released, but haven’t looked at it since), but I honestly don’t remember any analogies for Nazi Germany appearing in it. Yet when I watched the film, literally everything was to do with Nazis or Jews. SERIOUSLY.

...Or should I say… Siriusly?

Firstly, we have the whole round-table discussion at the start, where the death eaters all meet to discuss the problem with muggle-born wizards, and how muggles are an inferior race to wizards, which is strangely reminiscent of the Wannsee Conference (Which, incidentally, had a film (‘Conspiracy’) based on it starring Kenneth Branagh, who played Gildroy Lockhart in ‘Harry Potter and the Chamber of Secrets’, as a Nazi). But this is just the beginning of the comparisons. When Harry, Ron and Hermione sneak into the Ministry of Magic later in the film, we see all the muggle-borns being rounded up, and reviewed, and put on trial on various trumped up charges. Everything about this scene was clearly written as a thinly veiled analogy for the Holocaust, from Umbridge accusing a Muggle-Born Witch of stealing her wand from a pure-blood, to Harry’s extraordinarily Gestapo-looking leather Jacket. I’m also certain we at some point see a shot of a Muggle-Born witch or wizard with the word “Mudblood” carved into their left forearm. Hmm… a mark on the left forearm? That’s not overly obvious…

Hell, even the scenes set in the woods in the snow when Harry and Hermione are jumping around from place to place and hiding out reminded me of the movie “Defiance” (with none other than the Tank himself, Liev Schreiber), and I couldn’t help but feel that this was also intentional, if not to parallel that movie directly then at least to correspond to images from the War of Jews hiding in woods on the Eastern Front to avoid being sent to the Concentration Camps.

In Soviet Russia, Horcrux Destroys YOU!

In fact, I would say it’s just about impossible to watch this movie without making comparisons with the Holocaust. Hell, Lord Voldemort was the SS Officer in charge of the Concentration Camp in Schindler’s List, for fuck’s sake. But my question is – why?

Oh, you thought I was kidding?

I mean, I get that it’s often a good idea to make your movie actually mean something, to stand for something – the comparisons made with the Nazis and the Communists in Starship Troopers made that film far more awesome. But why make comparisons with the Holocaust in a children’s film? I mean, it’s not the sort of thing you would really want kids to know about (unless you’re of the opinion that they’re gonna learn about this stuff at some point, so fuck it), and it’s a very dark subject area. Plus, you know, setting it in the wizarding world tames it all down, so it’s not as if the film is making a point about how terrible and diabolical the events were, and nor is it trying to show what can become of humans when driven by hate, or mislead by those in power. It is simply a side-plot, as though someone said “Hey, let’s put in references to the Holocaust – wouldn’t that be cool?” and the rest of the writers agreed with them.

Typical Writers' room session - in their defence, it is less than a week til 4/20.

But even if we ignore the whole Holocaust thing, what’s with Harry and Hermione deciding to go to his Birth Place on Christmas Eve? Harry’s Birthplace. On Christmas Eve. Are you following me? Then Ron finds them, by following a bright light, which guides him back to them. Hermione is a Muggle-Born, and Harry’s mother was as well. If we look back at the Holocaust comparison, it is clear that the muggle-borns are Jews. Two Jews travelling to the male’s birthplace at Christmas, and a man who travels from a far-away place to find them, guided by a bright light, whilst the evil ruler of the land sends his forces (his snake) to try and find and kill “the chosen one”. That’s right - It’s the motherfucking Bible.

Was this shit present in all the books, or even the other films, and I just never noticed it until now? Almost certainly. Yet still I find myself wondering: why?

Tell me Why...

Anyway, that’s all I really wanted to say – the movie is about as good as you’d expect, and well, there’s not all that much I can really say about it. The scene at the end where Voldemort opens Dumbledoor’s tomb could have been done differently, because as it was when the lid began to slide back I half-expected to see Thunderbird One come soaring out, but other than that I have no real complaints. The scene where Harry first leaves the house and tries to get to the Weasley’s is bitchin’, and looks as though it was from a proper action film, rather than just a wizards story aimed primarily at children, and although it did drag in places, I quite like the darker, slower tone of this film. It was cool seeing Rhys Ifans again, though I’m glad he and David Thewlis didn’t have a scene together – I wouldn’t want to see Professor Lupin whip his cock out and draw a face on it for Xenophilius and Luna, that would just have been beyond creepy…

and let's not even think about Lupin kneecapping Xenophilius...


Wednesday, 13 April 2011

Up In The Air - Review

As some of you may recall, I had a bit of a disagreement with Jason Reitman a while back, when he suggested that having yellow walls in your bedroom was "girly", and I suggested that having a broken nose was fair punishment. Nevertheless, I decided to put that incident, and the restraining order, behind me, and watch Reitman's newest film: "Up in the Air", starring the future Sam Fisher.

I wish... (However, there is hope)

The plot is relatively simple - But to be honest, if you want to hear about that, you can just go and look it up on IMDB. Right now, I just want to tell you what impressed me about this film:

Even though it is ridiculously predictable in many, many ways - it still somehow goes differently to what you were expecting. Now, I know this sounds weird, but bear with me for a second (oh, and massive spoilers ahead, in case you literally haven't read any of my blog posts yet and aren't aware that when I "review" a movie, I basically just mean I give away the end of the film...)

Think about Se7en. Now, we all knew Kevin Spacey was going to die at the end of Se7en - there was just no other way to end it. Hell, I figured it out straight away, when I first heard the killings were based on the Seven Deadly sins. But, assuming you, like me, hadn't heard anything else about the film, you probably didn't expect it to end quite as it did. So, here's what I thought was going to happen:

I assumed that Brad Pitt and Morgan Freeman would be tracking the killer, and getting ever closer to him as he murdered his way through the sins; Greed, Gluttony, Pride, Envy, Lust and Sloth. Then, when there was only one person left to kill, the two detectives would finally capture him at his home, and it would look like they had won. He would then smile, and reveal the painfully obvious truth; that by killing all these sinners, he himself had sinned, as he had become wrath. He would put the gun to his head, and Brad Pitt would run forward to try and stop him, but *BANG* he would blow his brains all over the wall, taking the life of the 7th and final victim. End Scene.

Now, I was correct in thinking that the killer would be one of the sinners, and that he would die, but what actually happens in the film is, as you undoubtedly already know, very different to what I described above.

It's actually fairly similar to this...

And the same is true for "Up in the Air".

Clooney's character meets a girl early on who he becomes steadily more and more interested in as the film progresses. When it reaches time for him to give his big speech in Vegas on how being single and not having relationships tie you down and get in the way, I thought I knew exactly what would happen. After all, I had already seen this movie:

I'm having a very Coen-Brothers-y day today...

He gets partway into his speech, realises he no longer believes what he's saying, and completely changes what he was going to say - we are met with a stunned silence from the crowd, who can't believe their ears, then they all start applauding, and he goes off to be with the woman he loves, before finding out a terrible secret about her.

Well, Up in the Air did unfold in a very similar manner to this, but with a key difference. Whilst the bit about the woman he loves having a terrible secret was still there (it could hardly be considered a spoiler to tell you *shock* she has a husband and a family!), and the speech scene started out exactly the same, the way it unfolded really surprised me. Rather than change his mind and express his new found beliefs, changing his ways and still winning the support of the people who once loved his uncaring, greedy attitude, he just walked off the stage. That was it. When he stopped speaking, I was certain things would unfold in exactly the same way they did in Intolerable Cruelty (though, without the wacky humour, Up in the Air is a tad more subtle), but instead he just paused, with the same look on his face as he had in Intolerable Cruelty at the exact same point in the film, but then he just turned, and walked off. End of scene. And I was impressed.

I mean, everything worked out exactly the same, but just to show how that character didn't need to convince everyone his change in direction was the right thing to do, how he didn't feel the need to spread his message, and how he didn't even care what people would think of him if he left the stage, was awesome, and really fit in with what had happened prior to that scene. Not only that, but it makes the character, and by extension the film, seem so much more believable than if he had given an impassioned speech and won over the crowd. Of course, I loved what the Coen Brothers did in Intolerable Cruelty, playing the speech out for laughs, but I'm glad they didn't try and have George do a serious speech in his change of direction in this film, because I love that scene just as it is.

The other thing I was impressed with was how he didn't get with the other girl the movie focuses on (Anna Kendrick) at the end, as I expect to happen once he found out that Matt Damon and Leo DiCaprio's shared girlfriend already had a family. Instead, she flies away to live in San Fransisco, and he simply writes her a reference for a new job - it was so different, and yet was a great way to break the crappy romantic movie cliche of the guy falling in love with the girl he's been spending time with and not thought about in that way before. It is, simply, genius. The very end scene, too, is incredible, because we realize that, after all that has happened to him, and how different Bingham (Clooney) is for his experiences, nothing has really changed. He understands more about family, and attachment, than he ever did before, and he realizes that he can't live as he is forever, but in the end, he's still the same guy, living the same way, perhaps just a bit more depressed than he was at the start. At the end, does he just get on the first flight and go anywhere, as Kendrick suggested he should earlier in the film, or does he go straight back to work? The point is that we don't know, but as with the ending of Inception, the real point is that it doesn't matter, because either way Bingham has had to put the idea of family behind him, and is back to his lone-wolf travelling ways. And, of course, this was also a surprise, as it had been hinted at right from the start that Clooney would lose his job to the new system invented by Kendrick's character. So, whilst I thought the film would end with the man who fires people for a living being fired himself, and getting together with the woman responsible for him losing his job, Reitman played it cool, and threw us one hell of a curb-ball.

The real achievement in this film, however, is not how great it is to see cliches smashed, but more how incredibly cool Reitman was able to make a guy whose entire life revolves around racking up air miles. Every man on Earth wishes he was George Clooney, that's a given, but to make us all wish we were a man who does nothing with his life but catch planes, and stay in hotels, trying to reach the grand total of 10 million air miles? Well, that's some impressive writing. And you know what? I genuinely did want to be just like this man when I saw the film. Even the idea of going after something so pointless as 10 million air miles just to say you'd done it seemed cool after watching this. I mean, how is it not? 10 million air miles? Jesus, that's as impressive reaching your 100th Blog post. Speaking of which...


But seriously, the character is instantly likeable, and yet at the same time, we are all very aware of his hollow existence. And that fact that I haven't wanted to be another character this badly since Richard B. Riddick is testament to just how well written this script is... Riddick's a badass.

Pvt. Caparzo, on the other hand...

There were a couple of odd things I noticed, however, which I thought I would mention...

For starters, how is it that Vera Farmiga had no boobs at all in the Departed, but apparently has huge ones in Up in the Air?

I swear, she must have a double who looks identical to her, but with much bigger boobs. Kind of like Zooey Deschanel does...

Seriously, which one is this? The boobs are literally the only way to tell. Well, that and the presence of Russell Brand, I suppose...

The other thing which I thought was odd was that I learned the people who are having a go at Clooney for firing them are mostly people who had actually just lost their jobs recently, and thought they were appearing in a documentary about the recession. That seems a bit twisted, don't you think? "Oh yeah, it's for a serious documentary to help raise awareness of the struggles faces by the lower classes. lol jk, it's a Clooney film."

Still, I was thoroughly impressed by this film, and highly recommend you watch it, even if it is by the same guy who thinks yellow is too girly a colour for a man's bedroom, and who made one of the actors from the Trailer Park Boys have sex with Michael Cera, an offence which should rightly be punishable by death...

He has a certain Naïve charm; but no MUSCLE!



3 Stars

Unfortunately, recently, I'm only reviewing films I like, so I'm not ranting anywhere near as much as I used to... Still, this film was really well done, and certainly worth a watch. It's not laugh-out-loud funny, and most of the humour is very subtle, but it is still a brilliant comedy, which tackles movie cliches in a cool, stylistic manner. Plus, there are some pretty damn good actors making cameos throughout the film, including none other than Sam Elliott:

Sorry, I just had to put another one in...

I highly recommend you check it out. Even if it isn't as good as some other movies I've seen recently, it's a hell of an enjoyable 105 minutes. Plus, George Clooney - NEED I SAY MORE?


Saturday, 2 April 2011

"The Thing" Review

How is it possible that this film did not win the Academy Award for Best Visual Effects? I have seldom, if ever, seen effects quite as realistic, as horrifying, as were present in “The Thing”, and to think that the majority of these were created by a 22 year old, working on a movie with an overall budget of $15 million, is simply mind-blowing.

Like you didn't know it was coming...

Reviews from the time of the film’s release seem to suggest that they may have even been too good; they are described as being grotesque, and gratuitous, and a number of reviewers seem to feel that the focus on gore detracts from the movie as a whole, killing the suspense. I, however, respectfully disagree.

The Thing is a movie about Isolation and Paranoia – about not knowing who you can trust, but being stuck in the company of those who may kill you at any second, because you have no way of escaping. It is possibly the most intense psychological horror movie to grace our screens since Stanley Kubrick’s adaptation of The Shining (although, since that movie was only released 2 years prior to “The Thing”, this may not sound like such an impressive achievement as it actually is). Few horror movies, if any, can even be mentioned in the same sentence as The Shining without paling in comparison, and yet somehow this movie, made on an even lower budget than Kubrick’s famously small $22 million for The Shining, seems to me at least to hold up under the same levels of scrutiny. It is, quite simply, one of the best horror movies I have ever seen.

Yep, even better than this...

However, it is common knowledge that “The Shining” was also critically panned upon its initial release, with Stephen King practically disowning it, and the movie finding itself nominated for Golden Raspberry (Razzie) awards not only for Worst Actress for Shelley Duvall, but (unbelievably) Worst Director for Kubrick as well. Indeed, it seem the early 80s were a bizarre time to be a film maker, with both The Shining and Blade Runner, two movies now regarded as being among the greatest ever made, being universally panned, and even Rocky IV finding itself nominated for 9 Razzie awards, despite being 90% pure awesome, and only 10% shitty robot/little kid scenes (I think this, in and of itself, proves that John J.B. Wilson needs to hurry up and fucking die already so we can all be rid of his worthless opinions on movies (INB4 “look who’s talking”)). So, I suppose I really shouldn’t be surprised that The Thing was nominated for a Razzie Award as well – but for the score? You’ve got to be fucking kidding me!

I'm running out of these...

Ennio Morricone has proved himself time and again, from the original spaghetti western trilogy (on the subject of which – how are there people who think that “The Good, The Bad and The Ugly” is set after “A Fistful of Dollars”? It is clearly a prequel, and, assuming you don’t count “The Godfather, Part II” due to it’s only being part-prequel, part-sequel; is the greatest prequel ever made), onto “Once Upon a Time in the West”, right through to “The Untouchables” and “Bugsy”, and “The Thing” is no exception to his consistently high standards.

What is this? Lame Pun Day?

In fact, the score is extremely reminiscent of that of “Escape from New York”, John Carpenter and Kurt Russell’s previous outing, which Carpenter scored himself. The score is made up of very low beats, mostly bass notes, set at a relatively slow tempo, which really enhances the sense of foreboding at the start of the film, and provides a subtle, yet dramatic soundtrack to the film. Much like in “Escape from New York”, the score seems specifically designed to raise the tension in the suspense-ridden plot of the film, whilst also maintaining excitement. It is one of those rare scores which would hardly be noticeable if it didn’t almost fit in too well; and in fact only drew my attention because it was so reminiscent of Escape from New York.

Remember this one?

Looking back at the effects as well, they are so incredibly well done that it almost seems to bring you out of the movie, as you stop and say “wow, that looks incredible!” – and this is perhaps why many of the critics from the time of the film’s release didn’t see the same brilliance in it that I do. I’m watching this movie from an age where CGI and visual effects are everywhere – so imagine seeing effects that blow my mind today, way back in 1982. You would actually be consciously bringing yourself out of the movie, forcing yourself to think “It’s only a movie, it’s only a movie”. And there, my friends, lies the sheer brilliance in The Thing. Even if you can’t suspend your disbelief long enough to just sit back and enjoy it, it has real artistic value.

Depending on how loose your definition of "Art" is, I guess...

At the opening of the film, I was worried we were going to see the aliens crash land, and then the team would dig them up in an “Alien vs. Predator” manner. Hell, the opening shot of the film is identical to the opening of Predator (made 4 years laters), so it was a really present surprise when the film opened apparently halfway through the attack of the Aliens, as the team of Norwegian scientists who thawed it out are mostly lying dead, and the American Scientists who the rest of the movie focuses on are still unaware of what horrors await them. This decision to introduce us to the story part way along is inspired, because not only does it help you identify far more with the characters if we are all thrown into this mess partway through, but it also means we avoid the need for various tedious explanations. Upon seeing the charred remains of one of the Aliens at the Norwegian camp, Kurt Russell’s character MacReady instantly realizes that the only way to kill the creatures is with fire, and orders them to be burnt from the beginning. This allows the story to progress rapidly without the tedium of having to show the characters discovering that fire works against the “things”.

Till Lindemann agrees that fire works against pretty well everything...

MacReady himself is one excellently written character, and Kurt Russell portrays him superbly. Starting off as merely a bored everyman, MacReady quickly progresses into badass action hero, then apparently regresses back into a paranoid, nervous wreck, before finally taking control of the situation again. The character is multi-dimensional, which is nice to see, and somehow combines the cool of Snake Plissken with an everyman feel which makes him easy to identify with, yet still see as a badass. They just don’t make them like that anymore…

This is actually a picture of Patrick Swayze. Sorry to Mindfuck you...

The rest of the characters, too, are a lot better written than those in most contemporary horror movies. In the same manner in which Predator created a team of Commandos who were all memorable in their own ways, some more so than others, but all with real personalities, “The Thing” manages to do the same thing 4 years earlier with its Antarctic research crew. Of course some of the characters are not explored too thoroughly, and not every last one of them is given a detailed personality or background, but given the pace of the film, it is hard to imagine any way that this could be reasonably achieved without affecting how the plot unravels.

The sets are incredible, with the cuts between location shoots in British Columbia in the winter, and studio scenes in the Californian Summer being unnoticeable, thanks to clever camerawork and direction, and the brilliant idea to supercool the sound stages to a mere 40F so the actors would appear just as cold in the interior scenes as they did outdoors. John Carpenter once again outdoes himself bringing his movie to life with the smallest of details, much in the same way as he and his set designers transformed just a couple of blocks of East St. Louis into the apparent sprawling Urban environment of a dystopian Manhattan in Escape From New York (shot on an incredible $6 million, incidentally). It is impossible to fault the sets or locations in this movie, and that is one of the advantages of setting a film in such a small, confined area. Even though 95% of the movie takes place within a single compound, the overall feel of the film is grander than many which take place across entire cities.

In the end, it is hard to fault this film. It is very disappointing that it didn’t win the Oscar for Best Visual Effects; E.T. won in 1982, with Blade Runner and Poltergeist being the other 2 nominees, whilst Return of the Jedi won in ’83 – with no competition whatsoever. Of these films, only Blade Runner really seems to deserve the award over The Thing, and even then, only because it created such a grand scale futuristic metropolis (Incidentally, I have only seen the Director’s Cut, which I hear is far superior to the original version – hence the critical panning and missing out on the Oscar?) – The Thing still has the more realistic, and ultimately more impressive, visuals. The only reassurance that I take from the effects side of filming is that Rob Bottin, the incredible designer of many of the alien creatures, went on to work on such great films as Se7en and Fight Club, so it seems his talents weren’t entirely wasted after this.

My only real concern now is the rumours of either a remake, or a prequel to, The Thing being made later this year. I hated the idea of an Escape from New York remake when I first heard about it, and I hate the idea of The Thing being remade, even with John Carpenter at the helm. There’s an old saying which goes “If it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” – and with an average rating of 8.2 on IMDB, landing it in rank 177 on their Top 250 list, it doesn’t look like there’s too much wrong with The Thing in anyone else’s eyes, either.

You know, except for the obvious...




Probably the best horror movie I have ever seen, and certainly the best Alien movie (that's right, even better than Aliens! *GASP!*) - If you haven't already seen this, place it right under Full Metal Jacket in your stack of films to fucking watch! Peace Out!