February 13th, 2015
We were so hot for Plok‘s extensive and illuminating reading of Guardians of the Galaxy (you know, the one with the raccoon that thinks it’s not a raccoon) that we invited him back to talk about X-Men: Days of Future Past, Jennifer Lawrence, Ellen page and their role in a series of movies that are just full of “great” men…
You all know this guy, right?
…So, goddamnit, after all this time, they finally have a chance to make a genuine statement about difference in these X-Men movies. Or, rather: the X-Men franchise itself has that chance, and takes it. They don’t want it to, obviously…would like it to somehow be other than it is, even though the way that it is, is all their own doing. Oh, it almost breaks your heart, doesn’t it? Watching them floundering around trying everything they can try just to miss the point, yet the point still comes through, the meaning still comes out, inevitably. Sow the wind, reap the whirlwind, and all that. Instant karma…
Or, maybe not “Instant Karma”, actually. Not primarily.
I have to be honest with you: this is the only lens through which I can view X-Men: Days Of Future Past where it even counts as a movie that’s about anything. For what’s really happened here? I am, I freely confess, just a bit too old to have been tagged by the famous Kitty Pryde Nerd Crush – myself, I always liked the skinny, scared Jewish kid from the suburbs who was smarter than she thought she was, with the fairly-useless power – Chris Claremont used to talk about how maybe if she phased her hand through some loose rope for about an hour, maybe gradually the fibers of the rope would unravel – but Ellen Page was so astonishingly born to portray a film-version Kitty Pryde that she threatens to make actual even ALL the different kinds of Kitty Pryde out there, even for me who never really believed in about half of them. The Chess Grand Master. The Yogic Flyer. The Pro-Solar Mechanic. The Perfect Girlfriend. And just look at her whaling away on the thing, for heaven’s sake! From the second she wheeled to face Vinnie Jones in X3, perfectly improving on a Paul Smith cover (uh, it was a Paul Smith cover, wasn’t it?), my nerd-breath was absolutely taken away. Every time she’s been on screen, she’s been acting the CRAP out of this real-life-Kitty-Pryde thing…but you hardly get to notice it, because I think she’s been given, all told now, about ten-and-a-half minutes of screen time to do her thing. Even here, in what was really HER story in the comics, she’s doing dramatic things, badass things…even when it seems all she’s being asked to do is be hurt by Wolverine’s abduction of her storyline, she is heroically soldiering on and doing everything you and I probably couldn’t without breaking down and breaking right in two. Holy shit, and does anyone imagine that Ellen Page couldn’t have carried an X-Men movie? Wolverine would still be in it, you know. He would have a pretty cool part, in fact! Why you could even still have given Hugh Jackman top billing…but it would’ve been Kitty’s story, and so it would’ve been the right one, instead of the wrong one.
February 4th, 2014
YOU DO YOUR JOB PENCIL-NECK, AND I’LL DO MINE!
He was a tough, embittered Disembodied Ex-Copbot 15735 on the edge, waging a lonely war against a sea of scum and internet indifference…they were a plucky odd-couple of podcasting upstarts with a holster-full of half-baked opinions and a healthy disrespect fro doing things by the book. Add in cute little ginger orphan, a basketball playing dog, Iranian terrorists, time-travel, a hooker with a heart of gold, a show-stopping musical number, nazis, aliens and a sinking ocean liner and you have the MOVIE (comics podcast) OF THE YEAR (week)!
<SCENE 1> Sponsorship admizzle, a rambling account of back issue bin snooping at Krypton Comics (featuring Suicide Squad, Mr X and Lloyd Llewellyn), VHS Rental shops from the eighties and finally an ACTUAL demonic summoning that leads us into…
<SCENE 2> The Reviewniverse! Covering Black Science, Saviors, Miracleman 2, Midas Flesh, Saga, Guardians Of the Galaxy, All New X-Men, Wolverine & The X-Men, Revelutionary War: Knights of Pendragon, George Romero’s Dinner Dance of The Dead
<SCENE 3> Finally it’s new segment…Discussion Point! The twosome take on real world references in comic book worlds, and this scintillating debate takes in Dazzler’s pop career, Marvel Vs DC, The twin Towers, Britney Spears, Zenith, Cloud 9, Robot Archie, Spacehorse & The Teen Riders and more. INTENSE!
It’s the movie event of the Summer! It’s McConaughey back at his hunky best! It’s about time you were afraid to go back in the water! IT’S WALL ST…ON ACID!!!
April 4th, 2013
OR: last year I went to the movies and all I got was a sense of temporal displacement!
DREDD, dir. Peter Travis, 2012
This relatively low-budget attempt to graft a late seventies vision of the future onto the present day doesn’t quite come off seamlessly – the opening drone-cam riot shots would be much more convincing without the sci-fi data overlay – but the grim lack of distance between these three (equally imaginary?) time zones ensure that this bolted-together aesthetic is effective rather than ridiculous in the end. A lot of the credit here has to go to Karl Urban, who sets the tone of the movie by somehow managing to play the perma-frowning Dredd with a straight face:
Like Urban’s Joe Dredd, DREDD (the movie) treats exposition as little more than a series of snappy situation updates, necessary only because they point the way from one dynamic lesson in pain compliance to another. The result is a lean, efficient action films that you suspect the Judge himself would approve of. The rules are established in the opening scene and are ruthlessly enforced throughout: you get a quick report of the location and nature of the crime in progress (the irradiated ruins of a future America; whatever takes your fancy) then whooosh, before you can say “hot shot” the situation has been resolved with the maximum amount of acceptable violence.
Because hey, when you fuck up, he’s got to fuck you up, right?
There are obvious affinities here – with Robocop, say, or with your Carpenter movie of choice – but these reference points never threaten to overwhelm the movie. Geoff Barrow and Ben Salisbury’s almost/alternate score Drokk is far more heavily indebted to Carpenter’s work, for example, and while the soundtrack that plays out in its place is less immediately striking it’s also perhaps better suited to DREDD’s relentless utilitarian drive. The aesthetics of past, present and future might me all jumbled up here, but there’s no time for reverence in this movie – everything is judged by how well it performs in its specific moment in the field.
Still, I’d be remiss in my duties as a reviewer if I didn’t point out that there are certain plot similarities to Batman Incorporated vol 2, #6, and while I don’t know how Peter Travis and Alex Garland were able to travel through in time in order to rip that script off, I’m glad that they did all the same - this is a joke about the seemingly manditory you comparisons with The Raid, you can tell it’s a good gag because I feel the need to flag it up like this. Since we’re all pals here I’ll assume that we can all agree that the similarities between DREDD and The Raid are worth talking about – in the same way that its resonances with this Moebius strip are worth talking about – but that simply saying “The Raid” is in no way the end of the conversation. There are many different ingredients in DREDD, and the end result might have familial similarities with various other movies, but it’s overwhelming flavour is still undeniably that of “Judge Dredd”.
As my good pal (the devil)Andre Whickey has pointed out, there are several different types of Judge Dredd story, and this is a great example of one of them - Judge Dredd as straight action story. While this means that DREDD can’t touch 2012′s Day of Chaos story (for example) for either political complexity or gonzo fanboy thrillpower, it does mean that this is Judge Dredd at its most insidious, a compelling story of good guys vs. bad guys that doubles as a cheap, spooky reminder of the fact that authoritarianism can always be made to look both necessary and cool using the right tools: