Archive for the ‘Film’ Category

Candyman: Creating an Urban Legend

Posted: November 19, 2018 in Film
Tags: , ,

The 1992 film adaptation of the Clive Barker story is (in my opinion) an underrated horror classic. In this video, I’ll be looking at the transition from book to film, taking a deep dive into the subject of urban legends and (because I just can’t help myself) looking at a few theories behind the phrase, “It was always you, Helen”.

Spoiler warning for the film – watch it, if you haven’t already. I’d give the sequels a miss if I were you though.

What did you think of Candyman? Noticed any other details, or got any theories of your own? Go ahead and leave a comment – I do read them. Suggestions for future videos, or just good films to watch, are also very welcome.

Advertisements

Happy Hallowe’en!

To celebrate the spookiest day of the year, here’s a retrospective I’ve made on a film often hailed as the scariest of all time. It also happens to be one of my personal favourites.

It’s the merry month of Hallowe’en! To celebrate (and because I promised myself I’d start making more of these), I’ve planned two new horror-themed videos for this month. Here’s the first – an in-depth look at the Lasser Glass from the movie Oculus.

I’m proud of myself for two reasons. First, I finally got to grips with Final Cut Pro (well, enough to cobble this together, so I’ll let you be the judge of that) and second, that I managed to get through a Karen Gillan film making only one Doctor Who reference.

Want me to pick apart more horror films on my channel? Please leave me a comment – I’d like to make this into a series, so I’m open to suggestions.

See you again soon.

 

Here it is – my most ambitious video project to date. In it, I explore five different (but often overlapping) theories on my new favourite horror film, The Babadook.

 

Any ideas of your own? Please do share – I still haven’t stopped geeking out over this film. I’d also rank Mister Babadook as one of the all time great movie monsters.

Review: Big Hero 6

Posted: February 12, 2015 in Film
Tags: , , , , ,

bh6diagnosis

Disney movies haven’t been this popular since the nineties. They’ve been on a roll with Tangled, Wreck-It Ralph and the colossal mega-hit that was Frozen (it’s been over a year and no, we still refuse to Let It Go). Their latest 3D animation promises everything you could possibly want from a family film; action, drama, comedy and superhero antics, not to mention the cuddliest robot you’ve ever seen. Big Hero 6 faces some seriously big expectations.

Big-Hero-6-Characters

The movie is loosely based on the Marvel Comics series of the same name, thanks to Disney’s acquisition of the company back in 2009. It’s not the most famous series in the Marvelverse butthen again, neither was Guardians of the Galaxy. The original Big Hero 6 characters are reimagined as a bright young team of heroes-in-training. By day, they’re college students learning the ways of chemistry, physics and engineering; after class, they start using their knowledge to build gadgets and super suits. It’s refreshing to see that most of the obvious ‘nerd’ stereotypes have been avoided – instead we have a fun gang of guys and gals making science and study look cool. In this respect they’re positive role models for kids and with their costumes, catchphrases and unique powers, I get the feeling we haven’t seen the last of them.

But the superhero team isn’t even the real focus – the heart of the film is the relationship between 14 year-old Hiro Hamada (Ryan Potter) and his robotic pal Baymax (Scott Adsit). Baymax exists purely to help those in pain, whether physical or emotional, and he won’t give up until he’s healed the troubled teen. Considering the voice actor is best known for his work on Adult Swim programmes such as Moral Orel and Aqua Teen Hunger Force, Adsit’s performance is lovable from start to finish and is bound to win over even the most hard-hearted viewer. In fact, the odd ‘mature’ joke works all the better for the character’s innocence and charm, whether he’s enthusiastically explaining the symptoms of puberty or drunkenly slurring his words when his battery runs low. Been there buddy, now where can I get one of those charging units?

It all holds together fairly well, even if it doesn’t offer a huge deal beyond the sum of its parts. The city of San Fransokyo is one stunning location and lends itself to some nice touches in 3D, even if the name sounds like it started as a joke and somewhere during development it just stuck. The first act certainly could’ve benefitted from a rewrite – plot points often feel forced and at times the exposition drops like an anvil. However, the pace picks up as the story continues, with the audience warming to the characters and getting caught up in the action. By the time the credits roll, you might not consider it a life-altering experience but you’ll probably be feeling good.

baymaxhug

One of the main themes of Big Hero 6 is bereavement. Considering Disney’s infamous knack for traumatising children (we’ll NEVER forget what they did to Bambi’s mum!) the tragic event that sets things in motion somehow fails to create that same sense of loss. For a while, I thought my compassion chip might have been malfunctioning. It’s only as time goes on that we see the deeper impact on Hiro through Baymax’s attempts to cure his grief. Gradually Hiro learns to let go of his anger, cherish his memories and reach out to friends. It’s a sensitive subject handled in just the right way, creating touching moments but never ruining the fun or getting too heavy for young children.

Overall, this may not be the masterpiece it was hyped to be, but it’s still a solid family film. As a bonus, the animated short Feast played before the main feature – a grand tradition, long may it continue – is so adorable, it’s almost worth the price of admission alone. Big Hero 6 might not be the most incredible superhero movie out there or the greatest children’s buddy film ever written, but both elements are done well and there’s plenty for everyone to enjoy. As the big guy might ask – yes, I was satisfied with the care that went into making this film.

Sometimes you’ll discover something so weird and wonderful that you’re happy just to know it exists. Repo! The Genetic Opera definitely falls under this category.

Ever wondered what would happen if you put Anthony Stewart Head, Sarah Brightman, Paris Hilton and the chick from Spy Kids together in a musical produced by the folks who brought us the Saw movies? Or did I get drunk and put a film together and somehow forget about it? Either way, more people need to watch this thing.

Sometimes I feel sorry for Young Adult Fiction. More often than not, it’s written off as shit and mercilessly panned solely for the crime of existing. Maybe it’s a reflection of how society views teenagers in general. Once you’ve been through it all and safely reached your twenties, why not pull up the ladder and have a jolly good sneer at the poor sods down below? “Bwahaaha! Look at those stupid adolescents struggling with their angst, hormones and social awkwardness. Glad I was never like that!”

This goes double for any teen-friendly media that dares venture into the horror genre, especially when monsters are portrayed with sympathy. The beauty is you don’t even have to READ the book or SEE the movie to stick in the proverbial boot. C’mon guys, you know the chant… “Just like Twilight”. This is lazy, ill-informed criticism and I’m sick to death of it.

Now here’s a twist – I’ve just seen a movie where direct comparisons with Twilight are not only merited but actually make it quite interesting. Warm Bodies is a tale of zombie-meets-girl that I’m 85% certain is a subconscious piss-take of Stephenie Meyer’s sparkly fap fest. The thought occurred to me during a romantic flashback to a young couple lying together in a meadow exchanging sweet nothings. Why? Because A. The exact thing happens in Twilight and B When it appears in Warm Bodies, the young man in question is having his brains devoured by a zombie. Okay Summit Entertainment – I may have flinched like a classicly trained lab rat when I saw your logo but now you’ve officially got my attention.

Two zombies walk into a bar - stop me if you've heard this one before

Two zombies walk into a bar – stop me if you’ve heard this one before

Here are three ways in which Warm Bodies compares quite favourably to Twilight.

Humour
If there’s one thing I can’t stand about the Twilight films, it’s the haughty po-facedness of it all. Read the dialogue and you’ll swear blind (as I did) that it HAD to be read aloud with a healthy dollop of snark. The premise is batshit crazy and the characters would have to acknowledge this in order to claim any level of credibility. As it turned out, I was horribly, horribly wrong.

At least Warm Bodies knows it’s own ridiculousness from start to finish. Our protagonist “R” (Nicholas Hoult) is completely self aware despite being a walking corpse. His inner monologue shifts from deadpan wit to neurotic stammering depending on his proximity to a pretty girl. We laugh with him at the state of the world and we laugh at ourselves when he succumbs to shy awkwardness. Lest we forget, we’ve all been there. And – as the film effectively tells its target audience – that’s okay.

We need humour in stories like these, as they push our suspension of disbelief to breaking point. Hopefully during Warm Bodies we’ll be too busy enjoying the ride to start pulling at loose threads, because there are plenty of those! People pick apart the Twilight “Saga” not just because it’s ridiculous but because it takes itself far too seriously. It’s also incredibly long and boring, so uncovering plot holes is a fun way to pass the time when you’ve been dragged to the cinema.

Filth
No, I don’t mean sex, explicit violence or gore (mind you, for a 12A you get a fair amount of brain munching). I mean dirty stinky human grubbiness, which Warm Bodies delivers in the visceral connotations of the title alone.

(apologies for the blatant “uni-speak” there. One day I hope to break the habit and be able to talk like less of a wanker)

Helloooo ladies!

Helloooo ladies!

There are no zombies in Meyer’s world, with the possible exception of Kristen Stewart. Twilight is perfect, pristine. Twilight is virginal (big selling point) and sanitary. Vampires wear nice clothes, drive nice cars and have shiny white porcelain skin. Werewolves – a hairier, messier supernatural breed by nature – are all waxed, chiselled and (I hope) fully housetrained.

Zombies on the other hand are the unattractive, smelly kind of monster; shambling around in their filthy, brain-splattered clothing (SO last season) and making appalling groaning noises. Imagine one of them taking you to the prom! They barely possess the motor functions to string together the most basic flattery, something the Bella Swans of the world crave like oxygen. Other repulsive zombie traits – cold flesh, pallid skin, eating people etc – are also shared by vampires. But hey, who cares if you’re dating a living corpse that feeds off the innocent, so long as they have a nice haircut?

Zombification (the Z factor?) gives more depth and meaning to the bond between R and Julie (Teresa Palmer). She has to look beyond the repugnance of her zombie companion to see the person inside. He has to make the effort to be gentle and reassuring, in spite of his frightening appearance (“don’t be creepy, don’t be creepy” he repeats in his head) and the fact he’s barely articulate. Whether or not you buy the tenderness of their shared screen time is hit or miss, but I saw far more chemistry in Warm Bodies than in all five Twilights put together.

“Star-Cross’d Lovers”

Warm-Bodies-Heart-PosterBoth Warm Bodies and Twilight: New Moon deliberately reference Romeo and Juliet. As one of William Shakespeare’s most accessible plays and one frequently studied in high school, the target audience should be familiar with the source material. However, it’s a play that’s commonly misinterpreted as a romance rather than a tragedy. True, it has elements of both but the focus on romance so often distracts from the deeper themes.

In New Moon, Bella studies Romeo and Juliet in English class then she and Edward have a nice cuddly chinwag about the play’s ending. Y’know, the suicides, which in a piece of SUBTLE FORSHADOWING Edward mentions he would totally do if Bella died. And… that’s about it. No wait – in the book I’m sure Bella had a brief ponder over “what if Juliet married Paris?” when she was considering boinking Jacob. That’s it. For a story that goes to great pains to acknowledge its Shakespearian influence, it uses surprisingly little of it.

Warm Bodies is centred on the trials and tribulations of R and Julie. Yep, we see what you did there with the names. There’s a balcony scene, an enabling friend of Julie’s who wants to be a Nurse, an “also ran” guy named Parry (who gets his brains eaten) and a father who’d gladly shoot R in the head given the opportunity. But there’s something else going on – this film DOES get across the theme of prejudice, using the humans as the Capulets and zombies as the Montagues. I’m sure that’s exactly how Shakespeare envisioned his work, possibly in an earlier draft.

Yes it’s silly, yes it puts an ideal spin on certain events but at least the cues taken from Romeo and Juliet go beyond the “star crossed” couple in Warm Bodies. This phrase, by the way, is misused to the point where it annoys the piss out of me. It may SOUND pretty but implies the inevitable tragedy of the plot rather than the pure divinity of “one twu wuv”. Please excuse me, I have to vomit.

Final Thought

The goal of R in Warm Bodies is to become more human. He desperately wishes to feel joy and love again even if it means exposure to pain and death. The bond with Julie goes beyond the two of them, inspiring hope that barriers can be broken and the world can be a better place for all. The goal of Bella in Twilight is to rid herself of that pesky humanity thing for the sake of eternal prettiness. She’ll spend her immortal life being adored by her rich vampire family and making goo-goo eyes at her perfect hubby. So, which do you think is the better message for teenagers?