Man, you guys do love your animated fantasies from the late seventies/early eighties don’t you? In fact, I’ve now reviewed enough of these things that they’re starting to run together. Which animated fantasy centring on wizards and a war between science and magic with seriously dodgy gender politics is this again? Nit?
This review was requested by patron Mathom. If you’d like me to review a movie, please consider supporting my Patreon.
New Year, New Mouse, New Regular Feature!
This is Bats versus Bolts!
Someone ask me what Bats versus Bolts is.
Glad you asked! Dracula and Frankenstein are two of the most famous and frequently adapted stories of all time. Hell, Dracula alone has been adapted…hang on let me just Google that…
Anyway, in every decade there are Dracula movies and Frankenstein movies that reflect the culture, trends and social forces that created them and I thought it would be cool to take two from each decade and pit them against each other in a no holds barred monster mash. So let’s start with the two most iconic versions, Universal’s Dracula and Frankenstein from the nineteen thirties.
I don’t hold with New Year’s, personally, it’s just a fake holiday cooked up by Big Calendar. But I suppose it’s as good a time as any to take stock of everything that’s happened last year and check for structural damage.
So, 2018 was…mixed.
A better year than 2017, definitely. 2017 (for me) was just an series of unending failure, rejection and humiliation culminating in me hitting my lowest point since…ever, pretty much. 2018 on the other hand, was a series of sharp highs and lows and I’ll definitely take that over the alternative. If current trends continue, 2019 might actually be (whisper it softly now) good?
The bad was losses in the family, the occasional depressive episode and just the general mental and emotional wear and tear of living in a world run by an insane wall-obsessed golden tamarin.
So let’s talk about the good.
Hope you all have a wonderful, happy time and I’ll see y’all in the New Year.
Love from the Mouse House
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Much like an awesome party where someone suddenly showed up with a suitcase full of tainted MDMA, the X-Men film franchise got real bad, real fast. From the dizzying (well) highs of X2 the franchise had laid two massive turds in a row and was now in the unenviable position of having exactly as many bad films as good ones (also known as the Star Trek ratio). What was to be done?
Alright, all joking aside, the idea for a movie about the early days of Xavier’s School for Gifted Child Soldiers had been knocking about since the shooting of X2, and as an idea it’s pretty damn bad. Making a movie about the earliest adventures of the X-Men is like making a movie about John Lennon and focusing solely on his time in the Quarrymen. That was the worst part. Virtually all the good stuff came later. For a while. Then things got really, really awful.
But First Class also shares much of its DNA with what was originally going to be the second instalment of the X-Men Origins spin off series, Magneto. After Wolverine Origins bombed so hard that the box office was glowing in the dark, the ideas for Magneto were bundled up and worked into First Class.
So how does this grab-bag of sewn together bad ideas and discarded movie bits work as a film?
Surprisingly well! Except when it doesn’t. It’s complicated.
In the wake of a catastrophe as total as the rise of the Norsefire Party and its continuing control over most of the British mainland, it is only rational to consider the path that led us here and only human to look for someone to blame.
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Not so long ago, in the pages of this here very blog what are you reading like, I reviewed Makoto Shinkai’s 5cm per Second and my good Lord, it bored me so. It bored me like Sarah, plain and tall.
Well, Shinkai apparently took my criticisms onboard and went away and created Garden of Words, a movie that has all of 5cm per Second’s stunningly gorgeous visuals and sumptuous sound design but which actually marries them to interesting characters and some class of plot. I mean, I don’t want to take credit for this critically acclaimed film but honesty compels me.
Anyway yes. Okay. I am now on board. I am on the Makoto Shinkai train (and the dude does love his trains). Like 5cm per Second, Garden is slow and relies heavily on atmosphere but there is a definite sense that it’s telling a story patiently and methodically and not faffing about and wasting your time. The characters are also far more distinctive and memorable, compared to the 5cm per Second’s leads who were so bland and grey you could use them to wallpaper the walls of a dentist’s office. For instance, one of the main characters, Yukari, spends her days in the local park drinking beer and eating chocolate because her depression has dulled her sense of taste and those are the only flavours she can experience. That’s good writing, because it informs us of an important character trait (her depression) but does it in a way that’s unique and memorable and makes her stand out from all the other sadsacks (I’ve had depression, I get to use that word).
The movie begins with the two things that get Makoto Shinkai out of bed each morning; weather and trains.
You know, I remember a time in 1994 when Star Trek: The Next Generation was in its final series, Deep Space Nine was trundling along merrily and the Star Trek fandom was eagerly awaiting the first Next Gen movie and this new show called Voyager. It felt like peak Star Trek, like there was more Star Trek than we could ever need. But that was nothing compared to the veritable tsunami that is currently cresting on the horizon and preparing to sweep us all away. Is it a good tsunami? Is the tsunami made of water or piss? Well, like most tsunamis, I would hope it’s mostly water but can’t disregard the fact that there will almost certainly be some piss in there. Fish piss probably. But maybe some human. Who can say? Where was I?
Oh yes, Star Trek.
So I’m writing this post more or less because I just want to get straight in my head exactly how many potential new shows and movies are floating out there. We’ll start with the concrete stuff that is definitely happening first and move onto the less likely ephemera.
Star Trek Discovery Season 2
What is it?: After a hella troubled production and a good to great (though no means universally beloved) first season, the crew of the Discovery are back and now under the command of Captain Christopher Pike to search the galaxy looking for Spock.
Is this definitely happening?: Yeah. Definitely. It’s already been filmed and everything. There’s a trailer, look.
Will it be any good?: I thought Discovery’s first season was fun, occasionally dumb, visually gorgeous and overall a pretty good time. That has me excited for Season 2 as all Trek series (with the exception of TOS) took at least a season to get going so I’m expecting the show’s sophomore outing to be even better. Also, the Klingons have hair now and I can breathe again.
What is it?: A series of short, fifteen minute episodes set around Star Trek Discovery and being released periodically over Winter ’18, Spring ’19.
Is this definitely happening?: Yup.
Will it be any good?: No clue. Because it’s not being streamed in Ireland. Because CBS are racist.
Untitled Picard Series
What is it?: A series set 25 years after Star Trek exploring the continuing adventures of a now elderly Jean Luc Picard.
Is this definitely happening?: Looks like. Patrick Stewart is signed up and they’re due to start filming in April ’19.
Will it be any good?: They can’t screw this up, can they? I mean, this is like slamdunking with a step-ladder. This is the series the fans have been crying out for (a look at the post-Nemesis timeline) starring the greatest actor in the history of the franchise playing one of its most beloved characters. They can’t screw this up. Bring back John de Lancie as Q, give them back their balls from the little locker Janeway keeps under her desk, sprinkle with some TNG cameos and boom. Instant classic. They can’t screw this up. They can’t screw this up. Oh God, they’re going to screw this up, aren’t they?
What is it?: Okay, follow me closely. It’s a Star Trek comedy. Done by one of the creators of Rick and Morty. Taking place on the least important ship in Starfleet. And it’s a cartoon.
Is this definitely happening?: Uh…maybe? Apparently? Yes? Unless I’m being pranked, yes this is a real going concern.
Will it be any good?: Look, it’s not like there’s never been a Star Trek cartoon before. There was. It was weird as balls.
If this is done kinda like Blue Harvest where it’s obviously not taking place in the main series continuity it could be really funny. If they try to make this canon though, I don’t see how that’s gonna work. It means every time I watch an old episode of any other series I’ll be thinking about how weird it is that somewhere out there there’s a ship full of cartoon characters wubba-lubba-dub-dubbing around.
Star Trek 4
What is it?: The next instalment of the Kelvin timeline movies.
Is this definitely happening?: This is pretty much definitely not happening. Both Chris’, Pines and Hemsworth, are apparently unwilling to return which means the series is probably dead. Jim.
Would it have been any good?: Ehhhhhh…the Kelvin films seemed to have a reverse curse going on with the odd-numbered movies being good (well, acceptable) and the even numbered one being bad (well, a festering atrocity on the buttocks of the franchise) so going by primitive Trekker superstition, probably not. Plus, the plot apparently involved Chris Hemsworth returning as Jim Kirk’s father despite being
- Hella dead and
- No seriously. Really, really dead.
So I’m going to say we dodged a phaser blast with this one. Rest in peace, Kelvin timeline. You sure were a thing that existed.
Quentin Tarantino’s Star Trek Movie
What is it?: Yup, Quentin Tarantino wants to direct a Star Trek movie and who can blame him?
Is this definitely happening?: Since it was announced that Tarantino would direct in December 2017 things have been quiet so don’t get your hopes up.
Will it be any good?: It’s really fascinating to speculate whether this would have been/will be a Quentin Tarantino Star Trek movie or a Star Trek movie directed by Quentin Tarantino. On reflection I don’t think this will be/would have been what most people imagine with this mash up, with dude massacreing their way through the Federation, dropping F-Bombs and noting how on Qu’onos they don’t call it a gagh with extra tentacles they, call it a gagh Royale. Tarantino’s first and foremost a fan and I’d expect a Star Trek movie that homages the movies that went before it in tone, cinematography, costumes, everything, and absolutely laden down with nods and references to Trek lore. Average Joe probably wouldn’t be able to make head nor tail of it but I’d dig the hell out of that.
Untitled Philippa Georgiou Series
What is it?: Alright, spoiler warnings for the last season of Discovery. Apparently, Michelle Yeoh is in talks with CBS to star in a spin-off series as Empress Georgiou, the evil former ruler of the Mirror Universe Terran Empire who’s currently running around the regular Trek universe having adventures and cackling evilly.
Is this definitely happening?: This is very, very early days and honestly I’ll be surprised if it goes beyond initial negotiations.
Will it be any good?: Think about this for a minute. The Empress is a an absolute hoot and Michelle Yeoh is clearly having a blast playing her. But we’re talking about basing a series around genocidal, cannibalistic space Hitler. It’s…it’s a little removed from Gene Roddenberry’s vision, no? I’m going to guess that this doesn’t come to pass and also remind the execs at CBS that cocaine is a hell of a drug and they should quite while their septums are intact.
And that’s it…that is all the Trek that is currently percolating around out there like nebula-fresh coffee. Am I overlooking anything? Let me know in the comments.
Hi guys. Firstly, thanks and welcome to new patron Felreign, a recurring villain in Marvel’s Eternals in the nineteen eighties. Fans would always look forward to his team-ups with main villain Ghaur, which would always result in Felreign betraying him, leaving Ghaur shaking his fist impotently and screaming “CURSE YOU FELREIGN!”
Also, my brother Dónal has a new music video out and it’s absolutely awesome. Check it out.
Why do we Irish drink so much? Foxes and peer pressure. Now you now.
This review was requested by patron Allison. If you’d like me to review a movie, please consider supporting my Patreon.
Way back in the before times I reviewed Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings, an important step on my journey to realising that Ralph Bakshi is a pretty terrible filmmaker, his importance in the animated canon notwithstanding. Well, Bakshi’s Lord of the Rings (BLOTR, henceforth) was originally intended as part one of a two part series but United Artists never actually got around to making the sequel, despite the first movie turning quite a tidy profit. So Rankin-Bass, proud purveyors of “good enuff” animation, bought up the rights to Return of the King. Rankin-Bass had previously done a made-for-TV version of The Hobbit (which I haven’t seen but have it on good authority is good enuff) and together with that movie and BLOTR they form a kind of loose trilogy, albeit the kind of trilogy with wildly different animation styles, voice actors and plots that only have a tenuous narrative continuity. Still, if you were living in a pre-Peter Jackson world and didn’t want to have to sit through three chapters of Tom Bombadil humble-bragging about how hot his girlfriend is, it did the trick.