Somewhat belated but I haven’t done a film review in an age.
So, Ghostbusters. Not bad, reasonably good even. Made nods to the original but was still its own story with its own characters and challenges. Leslie Jones’s character seemed to me the weakest of the four, with a bit too much of the stereotypical ‘black and sassy’ and not enough blue collar local historian. Kate McKinnon didn’t get the best lines but certainly the most memorable as a full on mad scientist in the I-was-going-to-make-ghost-catching-device-but-then-got-hungry-and-ended-up-with-a-nuclear-powered-nutcracker sense. The weakest part though by far was the villain of the piece. I’d say the scriptwriters were taking a pop at the various man-babies who’ve been screaming into their keyboards ever since it was announced that the Ghostbusters re-boot was going to be ovaries heavy. Problem being he didn’t really convince as someone who could be a threat to anyone outside of twitter.
Still I went in with low, really low expectations and surprisingly came out happy.
Oh and whoever made the trailer, quit, you’re supposed to make the film look good!
Okay first off the Martian was my personal book of the year. Secondly I went in to this film with low expectations, really low expectations. After Gladiator Ridley Scott films started to go downhill and by Prometheus it was starting to feel like a power-dive with afterburners. Also in the main role I had doubts about Matt Damon. He isn’t a bad actor but what I mostly associate him with is the Bourne films it a role where the character wasn’t the most expressive. But let us start with the obvious question, is it faithful to the book? Yes, incredibly so, in fact it’s probably one of the most faithful adaptations I’ve ever seen. Not the most faithful, that title goes to Ender’s Game, but with one difference. The Martian is a good film.
What the two books have in common is that the meat of the story is first person, so much of the books is about what is going on in the head of the main character as events happen. It’s something that book can handle fairly easily but film or television – because they are almost inherently third person – struggle with. The Martian works around this via Mark Watney (Matt Damon) addressing the camera directly via video logs and in doing to give us a sense of the man.
Yes there are differences but overwhelmingly they take the form of omissions rather changes. These are understandable and justifiable as this film clocks in at over two hours and frankly it’s a busy film. Coming away from the film I was left with the impression that this book ended up in the hands of people who got what it was about – where science and human drive can take us. I would say one slight problem is that for anyone who has read the book, the sheer faithfulness does mean that it’s harder to get a sense of tension but that might just be me. If you’re wondering which is better, the book or the film, for my money the book, as I said the book has been trimmed to make the run time reasonable, so the book simply has more room to breath.
One thing that I think is also worth noting is the question of women and minorities, this film is pretty good in that regards (although no black women is speaking roles that I can remember) in that we have both women and men who are not white in plot relevant roles. The book, with its female characters and characters with sufficiently un-Anglo Saxon names undoubtedly helped but even ten years ago I suspect the likes of Chastain would have found herself playing a love interest as opposed to a spaceship commander, but perhaps I am being cynical.
So in summary, one worth watching and then if you haven’t read the book, move on to that.
Something from the big wide web:
MGM, Warner Bros Reboot ‘Stargate’ By MIKE FLEMING JR | First it was Cliffhanger, and now MGM and Warner Bros. announced they are teaming with Roland Emmerich and Dean Devlin to create a re-imagined trilogy based on the sci-fi hit Stargate, one of the biggest titles in the MGM library. Emmerich, who directed and co-wrote the original 1994 film with Devlin, is on board to direct this one, with Devlin producing. Those two are already hard at work on a new version of Independence Day at Fox.
Write MGM’s Gary Barber called Emmerich and Devlin “world-class creators of the original Stargate,” and said they will “bring their reinvigorated vision of this wildly popular property to audiences of multiple generations.” gateSaid Emmerich and Devlin: “The Stargate universe is one that we missed terribly, and we cannot wait to get going on imagining new adventures and situations for the trilogy. This story is very close to our hearts, and getting the chance to revisit this world is in many ways like a long lost child that has found its way back home.” MGM’s Jonathan Glickman will oversee it with Warner Bros’ Greg Silverman. Warners will distribute with MGM handling some international territories. Back in its day, Stargate set the record for highest October gross and did near $200 million in global ticket sales. It went on to have a very successful run as a syndicated TV series.
The rest can be found here
So yet another reboot that is about as welcome as a fart in a spacesuit. The thing is I enjoyed Stargate in all its forms (well nearly all, I’ve heard there was a cartoon never seen it though) but not uncritically. The original movie had a certain cheesy charm but when you get right down to it, the TV series really became greater than its sire. But that said, SG1 overstayed its welcome by at least two seasons and while Atlantis was okay it was never more than that. The franchise tried to go in a new direction with Universe, which had a go at being SG’s DS9 but was choked off by the fan boys who were apparently looking for the franchise’s version of Voyager.
My point is Stargate had had a damn good run. But the word is had, as in past tense. I want something new. There have been a few fresh idea in film and television recent years but they’ve been cancelled or written off as a failures before I even heard of half of them. So I have no enthusiasm to see resources being poured into a project like this, because while this thing is probably two or three years from seeing the light of day, from where I’m standing it already smells stale.
Now for once something nothing to do with writing. Last Friday I attended my local cinema to see Pacific Rim, a film that could be summarized as big stompy robots punching big stompy monsters in the face. A lot.
It is not a deep film.
It is however not a re-imagining, sequel, re-make or watered down adaption from another source. Sure it has borrowed heavily from several tropes popular in Japan but the point is that it is something that in reasonable light resembles a new idea. Which with modern Hollywood is pretty close to heresy.
So far this year in terms of blockbusters we’ve had that I actually saw or consciously decided not to see:
Ironman3: Best of a bad lot. Fun but in terms of artistic creativity playing safe by relying on an established franchise and a popular actor.
Oblivion: Pretty but utterly predictable (particularly if you saw the trailer like I did)
Star Trek – Into Darkness: Utter, utter, utter rubbish! The cast did their best but the script might as well be written in crayon.
Superman: Not a fan of Sup and nothing I heard encouraged me to try.
World War Z: The book is one of my favorites. This I clearly has nothing beyond sharing a title in common, I don’t begrudge the writer any payout he got from this but I will not go to see it.
A few others that haven’t left much of a stain on my brain.
So whatever its limitations Pacific Rim at least has the backbone to be something new and Hollywood should be encouraged to try that more often. Or to put it another way if you don’t see it don’t come crying when in the future all you’re offered is scarcely reheated sequels.