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Jyn, Rey and The Star Wars Experience

Leia

As with all great debates, this began in Forbidden Planet as a discussion about which Funko Pop! figure Jared should buy for his desk at work. We take Funkos very seriously here (an discussion for another day), and, before we knew it, a simple Rey/Jyn decision had spiralled out of control.

Also, contains spoilers for Rogue One, The Force Awakens and, in case you're Kimmy Schmidt, the original trilogy.

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Rogue One: Darth Vader is a Scary Dude

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There are two things I need you to understand here.

The first is there are many varieties of Star Wars fans, and I’m of the sort whose love for the whole thing is rooted solely to the original trilogy. I never got a proper introduction to the Expanded Universe, I haven’t read any of the new books or comics, and I remember the prequels with the clarity of a fever dream. I’ve seen maybe three episodes of The Clone Wars, which I would’ve adored as a kid but didn’t grab me as an adult. I’ve played the Old Republic games, and enjoyed them very much, but they served as something small and ancillary to the main event: The Millennium Falcon, the Battle of Hoth, philosophy lessons with Old Ben. The small amount of Star Wars tie-in stuff I’ve dabbled in was a good time. The original trilogy — and now, The Force Awakens, which my heart welcomed in with ease — I hold on a different level. That’s hallowed legend to me. That’s my canon.

That’s the first thing. The second is I’m about to throw down some Rogue One spoilers. You have been warned.

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Villain of the Month: Hans Gruber

Hans GruberIn the evolution of the blockbuster action movie, it’s hard to overstate the importance of 1988’s Die Hard.

Though unmistakably a product of its time, it represented a significant departure from its contemporaries. Most 80s action flicks tended to come in one of four flavours: Spy/Cold War narratives (the James Bond franchise), soldier/ex-soldier stories (First Blood, Delta Force), sci-fi (Alien, Terminator), or buddy cop (48 Hrs).

Die Hard didn’t conform to any of these, yet in spite of this – or perhaps because of it – it became the most influential action film of the decade, spawning so many knockoffs that it practically qualifies as a subgenre all its own.

The 1990s recycled Die Hard over and over again, serving it up Sam-I-Am style in every conceivable location: on a plane, on a train, on a trip and a ship, in the snow and the ice, in a school with a fool… well, you get the idea.* And that’s not even counting the sequels: Die Harder, Die Hard with a Vengeance, Die Already, Why Won’t You Just Die (or some such… I lost track after a while.)

Much the same could be said of the film’s iconic baddie, Hans Gruber, played by the inimitable Alan Rickman.

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Pornokitsch's Absolute and Definitive Guide To The Best of Everything in 2016

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There are a lot of 'Best of 2016' lists coming out now, but they're all flawed and wrong because they don't include the things we wanted them to include. More importantly, they weren't written by us.

As our gift to the internet - and therefore the world - we've put together the Absolute and Definite Guide to the Best of Everything. It is conclusive and final, and should be used as a reference to settle all arguments.

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Rogue One: A Star Wars Story - Reviewed

Rogue One

Eggy. Rogue One (2016; directed Gareth Edwards)

[Warning: this review contains traces of eggs. Also many spoilers]

Plenty of movies nowadays contain easter eggs, something particularly true of movies that are part of a larger franchise or sequence. These nods and winks to the knowing audience members are, at root, a reflection of the way DVD, TV and digital copies of movies have changed the viewing experience. To see the original 1977 Star Wars seven times would require schlepping out to your local cinema every night for a week. A fan can watch 2015’s Force Awakens seven times over the weekend without ever leaving her couch. Naturally, this has resulted in a change in the logic of movie-making. Directors, designers and SFX teams now craft their visual texts full aware that fans will watch them over and over, sifting the image for every little nugget.

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Arrival - of what, exactly?

Arrival

The imaginary must be imagined, accurately and with scrupulous consistency. A fantastic setting requires vivid and specific description; while characters may lose touch with their reality, the storyteller can’t.

Ursula Le Guin, review of The Buried Giant by Kazuo Ishiguro

Is there any more point to science fiction?

The history of a genre is driven in part by the dynamic between convention and invention; science fiction, though, seems to have an extra feature. Its USP is meant to be its inventiveness, assumed to be found in a given story’s idea or set of ideas. Fans believe that this is proof of the genre’s vitality as compared to others. Critics believe it’s an excuse for what they see as science fiction’s otherwise more general conventionality.

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Stark Reviews: Lemonade Joe (1964)

Lemonade Joe

Stark says: “Wounds, shock, sore feet, Kolaloka will cure all!”

Ever since I staggered headfirst into a clip from Lemonade Joe on YouTube, I’ve been dying to review it. “Who the hell is that?” I thought, watching a man with a curly moustache prance through a musical routine, “what is this film? Why are those Jan Švankmajer-style wax heads spinning around? Wait, IS THIS A WESTERN?”

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Stark Reviews: Alice's Wild West Show (1924)

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Stark says: “Gimme uh double one”

Yes, so granted you’re getting used to me reviewing some pretty odd Westerns, but I have to say this one’s particularly odd, even for me. In it a six-year old girl – who also happens to be Sheriff – smokes a cigar and cheerfully massacres a room full of strangers, later beating up a load of troublemakers with a stick. Sounds like something out of a peyote-crazed Acid Western, right?

Wrong. It’s a Disney film.

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Monsters & Mullets: The Phantom of the Opera (2004)

PhaaaaaantomMore than 130 million people have seen The Phantom of the Opera on stage since it first opened in London in 1986. It has won a million awards, is the longest running play in Broadway history, the second-longest running West End musical and its soundtrack has gone four-times platinum.

Having clocked an estimated $5.6 billion in revenue in the last 30 years, The Phantom of the Opera is considered ‘the most financially successful entertainment to date.’

The Phantom of the Opera is one other thing, however.

It is a terrible movie.

Given the immediate and spectacular success of Phantom, creator Andrew Lloyd Webber, for obvious reasons, began thinking about a film adaptation right away. (Michael Jackson approached him about playing the Phantom, apparently.) The film rights finally went in 1989, with a young filmmaker signed on to direct – Webber had seen The Lost Boys and been impressed with how the director used music in the film, and so the young auteur Joel Schumacher tied himself to the project. Originating stars Sarah Brightman, who was married to Lloyd Webber, and Michael Crawford agreed to reprise their roles.

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Villain of the Month: Loki

Loki by Caspian WhistlerThis month, we’re looking at Loki, as represented in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (who differs a little from Comic Book Loki, and a lot from Norse Mythology Loki).

Loki is a great place to start, because he’s a perfect example of a villain who isn’t really all that impressive on paper. Oh sure, he’s got some nifty tricks up his sleeve – notably his talents as an illusionist – but on his home turf of Asgard, a world populated entirely with godlike denizens, Loki’s powers barely set him apart from the pack. As a warrior, he’s no Thor; heck, he can’t even compete with his brother’s merry band of cookie-cutter sidekicks. His schemes aren’t all that subtle, either. He does manage to manipulate his brother pretty effectively, but let’s face it – that takes about as much cunning as convincing your golden retriever to chase the stick you didn’t really throw.

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