GRAPHIC NOVELS YOU SHOULD READ/SHOULD BE MADE INTO MOVIES RIGHT-FREAKING-NOW… #918 JUPITER’S LEGACY BY MARK MILLAR & FRANK QUITELY

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You know what, we had high expectations for this- after all, it’s a creation of Mark Millar, author of classic Grov’s like Kick-Ass, Kingsman and Nemesis to name but a few.  But truth be told we were more than a little disappointed with the end result because Jupiter’s Legacy felt like a chaotic mish mash of a hundred other comic book stories all trouser-pressed into one.

 

We read somewhere that Millar came up with the story after reading Carrie Fisher’s autobiography and it seems like a rumour that has some plausibility to it given the echoes of Star Wars mythology that permeate the novel (for that read: children not living up to their parents expectations, right and wrong duking it out in far flung locales etc etc.)  We know some will argue that the novel actually tries to flip the usual superhero trope of the tragic past/murdered parents on its head, eschewing the orphan loner origin story for something different but to be honest all we kept thinking when we were reading it was how formulaic things felt.  How clichéd the family dynamics seemed despite the author’s best intentions.

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Which is not to say that there aren’t some prescient ideas hidden within the narrative regarding the insidiousness of global surveillance and the current trend of glorifying celebrity and hedonism.  Comparing the modern economic position of the USA to the post 1929 years is actually an interesting idea… the problem is that it quickly gets buried under a slew of mechanical rescues and fistfights.  And every subsequent glimmer of any kind of intelligent concept peters out in the same way finding itself replaced by tiresome family drama and well- worn angst.

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We will say this though.  Frank Quitely’s artwork truly is the star of the show, outshining the story it is trying to tell.  The fine detail on the characters faces (especially the older superheroes) is fantastic and actually it makes a nice change to see the physical consequences of a life dedicated to heroism shown in such muscular close up.  The openness of the panels where the lead artist has clearly resisted the urge to overfill the space given to him is also a delight and brings a visual freshness that the tired story wouldn’t have had otherwise.

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On a side note, we’re definitely not a fan of the slutty clichéd costumes that he gives to some of the female superheroes but we guess that’s probably forgivable when the rest of Quitely’s work is so enjoyable.  And though surprisingly gory (Jupiter’s Legacy is not one for the faint of heart by the way) we love that the novel pulls no punches with its bloody reveals.  In fact the scenes describing Walter’s mental manipulations/cerebral attacks are an absolute standout and the artist’s decision to design these panels in a kind of unfinished drawn-by-hand style (representing a false constructed world) shows both talent and smarts.  Hell ,if you want an example of the novel’s gruesome nature and of Quitely’s innovation then all you need to do is check out the page showing Grace’s death- it’ll kick you neatly and violently in the nads (or tubes.)

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That’s it for the high points though we’re afraid.  Unnecessarily jingoistic and predictable the story ends with the introduction of the superheroes kid and their genetically passed on powers- somehow managing to tell this chapter in an even more earnest way than the events that came before.  And to wrap things up with such a cheap over-used narrative device (and we really can’t express how much we hate it when writers insert a child into their tale to add a sense of peril or emotional drama) just left an overwhelming sense of dissatisfaction with the whole endeavour.

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We’re talking some serious despondency here, people.  Not something we ever thought we’d say about a Mark Millar offering.  But the world is full of disappointments so they say and I guess we’ll take this one on the chin for now.  And who knows, maybe if it makes it to the small or the big screen the sciptwriters can fix some of these many flaws.  It’s not outside the bounds of possibility.

But damn.  You know?

 

Just damn.

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WTF Did I Just Watch/Some Handy Questions you Might Want to ask if you see The Neon Demon (SPOILERS WITHIN)

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So, you know that thing where you go watch a movie and don’t really know much about it beyond the fact that you like the director and the trailer was kinda trashy & cool?

 

That’s pretty much how we ended up seeing Nicholas Winding Refn’s The Neon Demon- we loved Drive after all and the trailer had a weird Black Swan vibe to it, so off we moseyed with barely any expectations but looking forward to seeing something a little different, a little off kilter.  A film without superheroes, explosions or apocalypses (is that the plural?  Apocalypsecees?  Apocalypticons?)

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Anyways Holy Bejeesus…were we thrown for a loop.  Because The Neon Demon turned out to be an absolute gaudy brain-rape of the highest order; an unconventional horror of the kind you’ve never seen before.  Like,seriously.   And after a gorgeous and relatively comprehensible 80 minutes of bitchy rivalry and catwalk showdowns, the film’s third act just goes absolutely balls-to-the-wall batshit crazy.  To be quite honest there really are no words to describe exactly what happens in its conclusion beyond… kjdsfhsdfkjdfkjsdfkjjsdfkjhkjshdfksjhdf.

 

Isn’t the film pretentious, though?  Well, sure.  Self-indulgent?  A little.  Just a case of Style over substance?  It did seem like it at first.  But actually the more we thought about proceedings, the deeper down the garish gory rabbit-hole we fell.  So in an attempt to try and ease you into your own viewing of The Neon Demon, out of the goodness of our hearts we’ve decided to offer you some questions you might want to ask for yourself if you go see this.

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And those questions happen to look a little something like this (deep breath everybody):

 

  • First of all- is the film a satire or a jet-black comedy? It’s obviously trying to comment on the excesses and darkness of the modelling industry but with its influences in colour and design appearing to stem from directors like David Lynch (Mulholland Drive) and Dario Argento (Suspiria), is Refn looking to create his own entirely new genre or simply continue their trend of surrealist horror?
  • Due to its polarising nature (the film got both laughs and boos at Cannes) is it destined to be cult classic?
  • Though the dialogue seems to be the weakest part of the film, is there actually more to learn from the script than you might think? For example, when Ruby asks Jesse, “Are you food or sex” while discussing lipstick names and Jesse doesn’t know how to answer, does that mean that she’s neither?  Or both?  Judging by what happens to her in the end, the answer might be more important than you first thought.

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  • Question number 4: How large a part does Colour play in the film? (Even though the director is by all accounts colour blind!!) Some eagle-eyed viewers have interpreted the palette as follows: green represents peace/serenity, pink as innocence or naivety, blue as narcissism and red as the seductive demon/danger.   Is this intentional or just purely for aesthetics? (Especially given that one of the main players name is Ruby)
  • Also why is Alessandro Nivola uncredited when he has more screen time than the other male characters?

 

And now, it’s time to get knee deep into the deeper, darker shit….

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  • Since Nicholas Winding Refn chose to film a large portion of the film at the Paramour Mansion (because it’s allegedly haunted), is the idea of a supernatural presence worth keeping in mind when things start getting mondo bizarro?
  • Don’t believe us? Then consider some of the following….
  • Dotted all around the mansion that Ruby stays in are large impressive statues of big cats. Does Ruby then have anything to do with the cougar in Jessie’s bedroom (threatening her safe space to make her turn to Ruby for help through using the supernatural motif of predatory big cats?)

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  • And what of all the Occult Symbolism littered throughout the film- the ‘face on the mirror’ sigil that Ruby draws to signal the start of the final act. Or the electric pink triangles that Jesse sees when she takes part in her first show.  Consider maybe Jesse’s midnight drive with Dean where she describes the moon as a giant baleful eye.  Or Ruby’s hidden esoteric tattoos that we only see when she is naked?  Does this mean that there is a mystical element to the proceedings that we hadn’t considered before?
  • At this point perhaps you might want to take a look around when Ruby is lying in the rose garden towards the end. Are those other graves around her?  Has she done this before, maybe even multiple times?  Is she then the instigator of everything that happens- is she in fact more than the woefully human make-up artist she seems to be?
  • Do premonitions or dreams have a part to play here, as Jesse seems to foresee her fate at the motel and locks her door as a result, passing her fate onto her thirteen year old neighbour instead? And where did this presentiment come from?  Could Ruby have sent it to her in order to keep her for herself?
  • You might in fact want to think a little harder about the mythological side of things as a whole. What do you think the link between the moon and the menstrual cycle means for the scene with Ruby on the floor of the mansion?  It certainly seems ritualistic in nature, doesn’t it?

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  • And in the same way that in primitive mythology warriors often became cannibalistic, eating the flesh of their enemies in a bid to absorb their powers. Is this the reason that Sarah is finally able to shine and be noticed at the end?
  • You know, they always say that there’s power in a name. Bearing this in mind, taking ‘The Neon Demon’ as a title then- what exactly is this referring to?
  • For example, is Ruby the demon- the supernatural mastermind of everything that happens?
  • Or perhaps it’s Jessie that is the demon, bringing out the worst in everyone around her –sins such as lust, jealousy, possessiveness?
  • Or moving away from the literal, is the neon “demon” simply an idea?  A feeling. Lights and Glamour. The attention and adoration of those around. The craving of the spotlight. The intoxicating feeling these women are flooded with when they are admired?
  • And when Gigi throws up the eyeball at the end (!), is she rejecting that feeling of finally being someone in the spotlight? Or using that ‘shock and awe’ cannibal finale is the director trying to give us his own take on the eating disorders that seem to be so prevalent in the modelling industry?
  • In a nutshell; is all of the madness on screen metaphorical or is it in fact…good old-fashioned witchcraft?
  • And in the final shot, where Sarah walks into the wilderness; is this implying that only the strongest and soulless survive in that world? Or is it nothing more than a great visual to close things out on?

 

It’s worth noting at this point that a great deal of the move was improvised as Refn himself only wrote a bare bones script to film from.  This means that when he created the idea for the film, he was striving for a mood rather than actual plot.

 

It’s also useful to remember that Elle Fanning was sixteen at the time she filmed this and so if you’re hoping or gratuitous shots of nudity from her then you will probably be disappointed.  This doesn’t affect the film’s potency FYI and trying to justify Jessie’s appeal to the audience never seems to the goal of the director.  You just have to understand that to the other characters around her; she has that intangible thing that turns every head in the room.  So to all the naysayers claiming that Ms Fanning isn’t pretty enough to carry the role off, we really don’t want to hear it.  Take your body shaming elsewhere, pal.

 

Of course, with this blog post it’s possible that this is nothing more than a case of The Emperor’s New Clothes and we’re guilty of reading way too much into this thing.  If nothing else though hopefully we’ve given you guys some food for thought for when you give The Neon Demon a watch.  We’re not going to answer any of the questions above either- we have our own opinions on these things obviously, but as fans of personal interpretation we want to leave with the chance to make up your own mind.

 

As always though- please hit us up with thoughts and answers.  We’re big sharers here at Off the Record and look forward to all the love/hate you’re willing to throw our way.

 

And as always-

Vive La Question Grande!

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BOOK REVIEW CORNER: The God of Small Things by Arundrhati Roy (read December 2005)

Wilkommen again gentle readers and welcome to entry part Deux in this book review series; a brief look back at my own personal journey through the literary highways and byways of these foul times.  You might remember that we started with the neon sweat-soaked brain-tsunami that is Burrough’s Naked Lunch and I guess after that mind-melter I must have felt that something a little more elegant was in order.  As a result, I picked up a copy of the Booker Prize Winning debut novel of Indian writer Arundrhati Roy round about the time I turned twenty three and threw myself headfirst into its pages.

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But enough of this tedious back story, let’s get to the real question here… was it any bloody good?!

 

It’s certainly different to the free-form mania of William Burroughs, that’s for damn sure.  Fantastically dense and brimming with unique and realistic character observations, the first (and only) novel that Roy created truly is a story dedicated to the quirks and foibles of the human race.  In fact to be completely truthful its preference for character over plot often threatens to derail proceedings and becomes more than a little overwhelming at times.

 

Which turns out to be both a good and a bad thing.  The good?  Well, every personality in the book feels like a living breathing soul; real and convincingly flawed in all the ways that you hope for when you open up a new novel.  The bad?  This means you find yourselves spending a pretty large amount of time with people who are by turns icy, selfish, racist and empty at heart.  And all of them, from the kind to the cold seem to be involved in an intricately detailed courtly dance where no-one actually seems to touch.  They just slide past each other exchanging words and insults as they go.  Meaning that in the same way that the almost complete lack of familial love in the story is unsettling to witness, it’s also refreshing at the same time.  To see it laid bare without apology.  Without restraint.  That’s a rare treat to be had these days.

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As I said, this is characterisation central.

 

It’s a lucky thing then that the fractured narrative (one that moves between the district of Kerala, India in both 1969 and 1993) is perfectly paced to balance all this character observation out and breaks up the large paragraphs of description to give some much needed relief.  It’s worth noting as well that the time jumps the author uses so frequently actually end up mirroring the short attention span of the main protagonists, twins Rahel and Esthappen, especially in their younger years.  Which let’s face it, is a neat authorial trick in and of itself.  But also shows how instinctively the entire book reflects the sibling’s experiences and thoughts.  It is after all, their story through and through and the author never strays from this mantra.

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You can’t deny either that the book is pretty epic in scope.  Exploring problems such as the relationships between the classes, the idea of forbidden love and the damning effects of betrayal, The God of Small Things is a wonderfully ambitious novel.   Although it’s based in rural Ayemenem, its themes are much larger, much more universal than its humble setting… which is probably why it garnered so much attention from the critics when it was first published.   Indeed from a lowly reader’s perspective its combination of lushly drawn Indian landscapes and fragile human connections make for a powerful experience once you fall under its spell.  Not an easy one, mind you.  But a worthwhile one.

And from a writer’s point of view; yes it may be cluttered and clogged with descriptions but it’s also a finely crafted book with narrative intelligence and a wide ranging eye for the frailties of man.

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So there you have it.  Sound like your kind of thing?  Or something that you’d burn without a second thought in a fairy circle at midnight?  Either is fine.  Both might be a bit much… but to each their own.  Live and let live and all that.

 

Just let us know if you do end up reading TGoST because we’d love to hear your thoughts.  Message, email, carrier vole us in all the usual ways.

 

CONCLUSION: An important portrait of Family Life in all it’s barren glory.

MARKS: 8.5 out of 10.

 

 

 

 

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ORANGE IS THE NEW BLACK SEASON FOUR: A RUNDOWN

So season Four of Netflix’s acclaimed prison drama has well and truly landed and as the TV adventurers we are here at Off The Record we thought we would offer you some maladjusted thoughts on the latest series.

 

Of course these are just our opinions and we’d love to know if you agree or disagree with any of them but as the usual caveat goes, there be BIG FLASHING NEON SPOILERS within me hearties, so if you haven’t binged the season yet you may want to avoid this post.

Go eat some oat bars or something.

 

Cool?  Cool.

 

Ok…well, what are the hits and misses of OITNB this cycle?  Is it ten dead flies or a cute little baby mouse in a cup?  This is what we thought…

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  • HIT: The racial tensions between the ethnic groups finally erupting into violence. The divisions between the whites, blacks, Hispanics and other cliques inside Litchfield was always present in the previous three series, offering a palpable overarching sense of threat.  But in season four these stopped being background noise and finally reared their ugly head to go front and centre in the action; showing the series’ proven commitment to plot development and slow burn drama.

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  • MISS: As much as we appreciate new characters and new arcs, some of the latest additions had way too much screen time, taking the limelight away from already established and fascinating personalities. Judy King (a remarkably unsubtle take on that well known middle class crime-bomb Martha Stewart) is overused and obnoxiously simplistic.  And if we never see another threesome like her again we can pretty much die happy.  The number of new guards introduced in one go is also jarring and threatens to unsettle the balance of the narrative.  Piscatella for his part is an intriguing addition especially in his battles with the long suffering Caputo but to change almost the entire cast of CO’s under him and the entire way they treat the inmates felt heavy handed for the most part.

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  • HIT : The treatment of mental illness. Now, this may well be an unpopular opinion because there seems to be a backlash on the old Interweb at the moment against characters like Lolly and Suzanne ‘Crazy Eyes’ Warren.  Viewers seem to have been ok with the two of them acting kooky and adorably messed up on the outskirts of the story but as soon as their mental health issues led into real world, genuinely upsetting/dangerous situations, they seemed to become a turn off for many.  We however totally disagree with this.  We think it’s more important than ever to show that while mental health can be entertaining, its dark side and negative consequences have to be shown too, so that its impact on society at large stops being brushed under the carpet.  Hell, you only have to see what happens to Healey and the inmates he tries to help to see what mishandling these kinds of conditions can lead to.   And kudos too to both the writing staff and Lori Petty & Uzo Aduba by the way ; they blew us away with their acting in this series.  Keep it up, all of you.  You’re doing important work.

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  • MISS: Nicky’s storyline. Again don’t misunderstand us- like Big Red we love Nicky, she’s the unofficial truth teller of Litchfield and has a beautifully tragic air about her.  However it would have been nice if the writers could figure out a new storyline for her, rather than falling back on the old addiction/quitting arc that’s already been done before.  She really deserves better than that.

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  • HIT: Poussey’s flashback. Just plain fabulous.

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  • MISS: Daya. After presenting her as one of the most innocent and naive inmates in the show previously, there were plenty of narrative opportunities to offer to her this series especially with her mother being released and giving her a chance to carve her own niche.  Having her wander about for most of the thirteen episodes as a non-entity simply to allow her to fall in with Ruiz’s Dominican Gang and set up the chilling finale felt uneven in terms of tone and patchy in terms of storytelling.  To go from a nothing figure to the focus in one minute is a ploy that very rarely works on screen.

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  • HIT: Blanca (or Bianca if you’re a lazy racist old white woman.)  Her backstory was short but oh was it sweet and beautifully fleshed out.  We love ya, unibrow!

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  • MISS: The Neo-Nazi Girl Band. It was funny for a brief period but quickly became tired and unrealistic.  (Although on a side note: Skinhead Helen as a character name is genius.)

 

  • HIT: The dialogue. Some of the lines this season were fantastic, even though as usual they were blink and you’ll miss them.  Lines like Morello’s, ‘You know the girl whose name sounds like that Phil Collins song’ (meaning Kikudio) .  Or Lolly: ‘Come on! Shirt up, bra down, floobies out, face slack. Dead girl porn. Cosby dream shot!’ when trying to get Alex to pretend to be dead so she can take a picture made us laugh out loud.  Just outstanding.

 

  • MISS: The Guard initiated fight scene.  Sure it was dramatic but we just couldn’t get over how distasteful and gross the whole thing was.  It left a very sour taste in the mouth.

 

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  • HIT:   She is and always will be one of our favourite characters.  And not only for her sweet moves.

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  • MISS: The Ending. Now before you pitch a fit yes, we’re not gonna lie, we cried.  Yes it was dramatic and horrifying and truly memorable.  All of which you want from a series denouement.  ..the pacing was just kind of off you know.  Tragedy requires build up and the quick succession of events in the last two episodes seemed rushed somehow.  Which is not to say it wasn’t mesmerising, it just felt a little hurried and unplanned in terms of action.  And what should have felt dehumanising and soul crushingly poignant didn’t quite hit the emotional mark.   Which is a real shame.

 

Anyways, there you have it, our thoughts on the pluses and minuses of season four.

You have anything you wanna add, then send us a comment.

Or write it down on a piece of paper, attach to a paper clip and slide it under our door.

Whatever works for you.

 

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GRAPHIC NOVELS YOU SHOULD READ/SHOULD BE MADE INTO MOVIES RIGHT-FREAKING-NOW…

#191 SECONDS BY BRYAN LEE O’MALLEY

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You ever get that feeling that you’re going to love something before you even pick it up?  It probably wasn’t much of a stretch to be honest given that we thought the Scott Pilgrim comics were fab and Lost at Sea is without doubt one of our all time favourite Graphic Novels.

 

We’re glad to say though that we weren’t disappointed at all with the sophomore effort from the Canadian cartoonist because Seconds is a joyful read, resplendent in all it’s O’Malleyesque goodness.  More than that actually, somehow it manages to offer up a couple of new twists & techniques on an old formula with something that comes dangerously close to good old-fashioned aplomb.  And let’s face, how can you not love a novel that opens with quotes from such luminaries as Italo Calvino and Fleetwood Mac?!)

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What is interesting is how quick a read it is.  Sometimes with GN’s you can find yourself going back to the top of the page, re-reading panels just to try and make sure that you haven’t missed any visual details as the narrative ploughs ahead.  But you never have to do that with Seconds.  Because every panel is clean, free from clutter and gives you all the information you’ll need in one take.

It could be argued there’s a danger with that approach that events could spiral into childishness, that the story might lose its grip on your interest by not delving into more detail or backstory than is absolutely necessary.  But luckily for us (it’s not really luck, he’s a talented man-child) O’Malley’s natural wit and ear for snappy dialogue make sure that never happens.  Not even once.  And boy is this thing funny.  Hoo, Man!

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It also makes a refreshing change to meet a protagonist in a comic who is neither an ostracised teen nor an aimless college student.  To meet one who’s struggling with adult worries like money trouble and the disillusionment of a crumbling dream is kind of invigorating (hormonal crushes on their ex, aside.)  Katie, for her part is a wonderful creation- a selfish prick most of the time actually but somehow still likeable and capable of small acts of kindness when no-one’s looking.  The fact that the author makes her aware of the story’s narrative voiceover (Stranger Than Fiction stylee) and allows her to actually respond to their comments in her own flippant fashion is a fabulous quirk that can’t be praised enough.  We’ve all seen instances of breaking the fourth wall recently (Deadpool, we’re talking to you) but whereas most examples are overdone and beat you over the head in their attempts to show how clever and self aware they are, Seconds prefers to simply bend the rules here and there.  The result being an experience that is equal parts hilarious and ridiculous.

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It should be mentioned too, that while Katie steals the show personality-wise, the minor characters are never forgotten.  Everyone who reads this will undoubtedly find a favourite.  Ours was Hazel (which is a little disturbing since for the most part she embodies the awkward outsider vibe that Graphic Novel’s and YA Novels so desperately love to cling to.)  But even the rest have their own role to play, their own motivations above and beyond Katie’s arc.  Sure they’re trapped in her story (one which has a pleasing circularity to it for those of you with an eye for narrative design J) but they also have their own reasons to be there.

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Overall though, do you know what struck us most about Bryan Lee O’Malleys last offering?  It’s free-form energy.  Yes, there’s a cyclical feel to the plot but if you look at the way it’s laid out on the page-where the panels constantly change size and shape to fit a certain mood or where the details of the character’s designs become more thorough/lose definition as the pace changes, the whole thing feels alive and unrestrained rather than simply being ink on a page.  It feels…unpredictable, even when the story’s message is not.

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And while we’re sure some people will say that the constant use of sounds scrawled everywhere in large font and the magical overtones in the plot are more the hallmarks of a juvenile mind, we would have to disagree completely.

 

In fact we’d say that they add to that unguarded child-like energy we mentioned before.  Child-like.  Never childish.  That’s the difference we found as we read it.  And since haters gonna hate (and potato’s gonna potate) we want everyone to know that we hugely enjoyed every moment of the book and would recommend it to anyone looking for their next literary fix.

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Oh, and if this does get turned into a movie (and if Bree Larson, is reading this- you need to play Katie, lady) we will officially squee loudly in a corner forever.

 

Fact.

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X-Men: Apocalypse…Nowish

Hello again gentle readers and welcome back to this week’s finale, a look at the final instalment of the rebooted X-Men trilogy courtesy of the ever talented Mr Brian (Pub) Singer.

As you may have guessed we rushed out to see the new X-Men: Apocalypse film on its day of release with blue furry facemasks on (our standard cinema going outfit tbh) and couldn’t wait to share our thoughts on this particular end of an era with you guys on the blog.  So, as usual if you have a SPOILERS allergy you may want to turn away from the page now and lather on some antihistamines in the privacy of your own bedroom because we intend to take no prisoners with this entry.

 

And so….

 

X-Men: Apocalypse.  Grandstanding climax that bucks the trend of sucky threequels  or three month-old limp biscuit you’d find at the back of the kitchen cupboard?

 

Well.  The answer is Neither.  Not completely.  But to be totally honest the biggest feeling we were left with was disappointment after watching the film.  And why?  What about the blockbuster Part Trois was the cause of such acute dissatisfaction?  Well, from the very first moment of an opening-credits sequence that chucked out the simplicity of the previous entries and instead aimed for more of a hypnotic Technicolor eye-fest, something became incredibly clear.  And that was the movie’s intention to favour spectacle over heart.  Glory over soul.

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That it chose to walk the very path that torpedoed Brett Ratner’s X Men III last time around.

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Not convinced?  If you want specifics then you don’t really need to look any further than the opening scene in ancient Egypt.  It’s a dramatic opener no doubt, with lavish sets and grand action, forcing the narrative into motion with aplomb.  But the way it’s lit, bathed in garish gold and blue shades actually serves to make it seem… kind of, uh brassy?  Dare we say even a little… lame?  If you contrast it with the most emotional scenes in the movie, the smaller ones that detail Erik’s story  (and coincidentally offer a lovely little chance to relive some of the previous X-Men movie scenes) you notice that these moments are shot completely differently;  in grainy and grimy realism. They feel lived in and honest.  Raw.  Documented.  And in comparison the rest of the film with all of its loud glossy palettes actually seems lurid more often than not.

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Even Oscar Isaac’s En Sabah Nur suffers from the same disease- his look and portrayal feeling inadequate most of the damn time.  Don’t get us wrong, he’s compelling when on screen, how could the great Apocalypse not be?  But the combination of Isaac’s impenetrable make up and subdued performance never seemed to quite gel enough.  After all, the character is supposed to be seductive, right? Tempting; offering as he does an ultimate kind of power.  But instead of being tactile and seductive, his stilted movements and passive tone of voice in fact come across as muted.  Too low key to be truly threatening.

 

And then there are his followers; supposedly the most powerful of all the mutants!  We don’t want to be harsh here but clearly that’s just not true.  Olivia Munn’s Psylocke while visually cool is almost forgettable and barely has any screentime.  Her costume too is stereotypically slutty which is something we thought would have gone by the board in these post modernist times.  Same goes for Angel and Havok as well.  Even Storm fares little better.  Alexandra Shipp’s acting is good but like all the other Guardians her character is woefully underdeveloped.  Able to be moulded for sure (which might have been one of the reasons why Apocalypse picked her) but also naive and prone to get lost in the shuffle.  And plot hole alert…if Nur’s searching for the most powerful mutants alive why on earth would he not go straight for Sophie Turner’s Jean Grey?  Other mutants can sense how potent she is including mentor Charles Xavier so how did that slip past the mind of great and powerful Egyptian God?!  And on that note, how exactly does the good guys metal warplane just sneak past Magneto when he’s in full on earth-destroying metal-bending mode when they’re making their final play?

 

We digress.

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There are bright spots of course.  The acting is generally good.  Overall the movie is entertaining enough to not be considered a failure by the masses.  Quiksilver once again is an absolute delight; Evan Peter’s big scene where he saves a buttload of school kids from a mind-blowing explosion is both beautiful and worth every second of celluloid spent on it.  And damn, the rewritten backdrop of a world where humans have grown up with complete knowledge of mutants is also a fascinating twist on proceedings.  It has to be noted too that Charles and Erik’s relationship is the backbone of the story as ever, the inclusion of repeated (quotetastic) lines from the previous films giving their own personal war a sense of weight and compassion.  Something that is sorely missing from the majority of proceedings.

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But the overarching problem as a movie maker is that when you favour spectacle over humanity, you risk losing an audience’s attention fairly quickly.  And when you decide to shear off the sharp edges of fan favourites like Mystique, turning them into bland uninspiring versions of their previous (bad girl) selves you only make things ten times worse.  Meaning that last minute betrayals and switches of allegiance in the plot become cheap.  Predictable.

 

And as we said The Last Stand was guilty of this.  It’s unfortunate then that for the most part Apocalypse follows the same trend.

 

So to the big questions…

Like was it diverting?  Well, yep it was.

Entertaining?  For sure.

But in terms of adding to the Marvel Cinematic Universe and cementing the franchise as a celluloid changing experience… just not so much.

 

Meh.

 

 

We wish we had better news guys.  We really wanted to like Apocalypse.  And we did.  We just didn’t love it; not the way we expected to.  But you guys will have to make up your own minds on this of course.  So drop us a line with your thoughts.  Your criticisms.  Send us Hate mail.  Or razor blades in the belly of a snake.  Whatever you feel’s appropriate. (Please don’t do the snake thing though.)
We’ll be right here waiting for August’s Suicide Squad to come out with our Harley Quinn diamond tights on ready.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Book Review Corner:#1

So, you might not know this but as well as being a fully licensed gun-slinging nerdlinger, I’m also an ex Lit student for my sins.  And since finishing Uni, I kinda got into the habit of writing reviews/my thoughts on the books that I read, just as a way of clearing my head of the characters before moving onto the next (is that weird?  That’s probably weird, right?!)

 

Anyways with that in mind, I’ve decided to start Book Review Corner to share some of those entries with you guys in case they inspire you to read (or avoid) some of the novels I’ve shared headspace with over the years.

 

It seems fitting then to begin with the first book I read directly after graduating and that would be the undiluted crazyscape of William Burrough’s Naked Lunch.

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(Takes a deep breath…)

 

Now listen, if you haven’t read any Burrough’s before there’s really no way to put into words his paranoia-soaked, visually arresting style other than to say it’s unlike anything you’ve ever read before.  Celebrated as a satirist, post modernist and Beat Generation Author he was a unique writer if nothing else and his wild life (including a long standing addiction to heroin) undoubtedly bleeds into every page of this book infecting it with a kind of manic energy you don’t usually get to experience.

 

In fact, Naked Lunch– his first non linear novel (and one made up of loosely related vignettes rather than chronological events) could well be described as a chaotic narrative, more akin to a mass of sensations, thoughts and physical reactions than a traditional story.  Which means that if experimental literature ain’t your thing then you might want to give this one a miss.  However if you’re up for the adventure then with this book you’ll find as close a description of a collapsing mind as you might ever want to see.  And if you’ve ever wondered even briefly what it would feel like to witness someone about to free-fall from the edges of society then this novel will answer those questions for you (just bear in mind you might not like what you hear.)

 

Isn’t it hedonistic though?  Yes, unquestionably.  Self involved?  For sure.  But in amongst the jungle of riotous excess and pleasure seeking there are also flashes of great insight into the human condition and our desperate need for distraction.  And for all its shock value, for all that visceral language (salty really doesn’t cover it) and the overwhelming sense of isolation that the characters experience it’s compassionate and progressive too.  You only have to see how the author makes the characters sexes indistinguishable to realise that.  Whether male or female, sexually promiscuous or not it makes no odds to him- all that matters is the darkness of the emotions they share- lust, need.  Desire.  Hell even cannibalism (I said it was out there, right?)

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Of course, it should be noted that offering up such a stripped down carnal view of humanity can make the reader feel kind of desolate in reply.  You wouldn’t be the first to respond in that way- I did myself at the tender age of (well I won’t put a number on it since I’m a lady.)  But the fact that the book can prompt any response at all, emotional or physical without discernible plot or character development just shows how powerful it is.  And sometimes I think that kind of primitive untempered power is something we need to counteract the bland, formulaic literature we all find ourselves drowning in.

 

So if there’s an explorer in you and an ability to not easily be offended then please take a moment to give Naked Lunch a try.  You might cheer at the end.  You might hate it.  You might throw up.

 

But you won’t be bored.  That’s for sure.

 

CONCLUSION: Nihilistic but intriguing to the last page.

MARKS: 8 out of 10.

 

 

 

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