Game Review: HyperParasite

Well this is it, the start of a new year. A quick outline for 2021 from me before I get into this review. I have quite a lot planned for 2021, more books, with a new gaming book to be published this summer. My first gaming book, MICROBRITS is still available on Amazon. More articles, including me finishing my gargantuan GamesMaster retrospective that I started last year. More writing in general. I’m also currently messing around with giving this blog a facelift too, a new design just for a change, which (when I make up my mind) will be ready in a week or so.

But my first blog post of 2021 is a game review… a game that is several months old already as it was released back in April of 2020. I do have a reason why I’ve only just gotten around to this though. The truth is that I never really intended to review HyperParasite at all. In fact, I never even really knew about it until my pal Badger over at Stoffel Presents (his review is right here) kept going on about it. He reviewed the game back in April, 2020… that’s how behind I am with this. Anyway, I kept seeing Badger talking abut HyperParasite on social media, and his continual praising of it. As of writing, I’ve not even read his review yet, I want to get mine done first before see what Badger thinks. But as for the last eight months, he has been lauding the game a lot, even calling it the best indie game of 2020. So, I just thought that I may as well give it a go myself. With that out of the way, on with my review.

As I get older, I find myself less drawn to the big AAA games released today. Instead, I find most of my gaming enjoyment comes from smaller indie titles. I mean, the side-scrolling, action rouge-lite game, Dead Cells was released in 2017, and I’m still playing it today. For an indie game, that’s a hell of a lot of longevity. There are some really great games in the indie market (some not so good ones too) that often get overlooked, but is HyperParasite one of those great gems?

From developer and publisher Troglobytes Games comes this fast-paced, action packed shooter with a very eighties flavour. Using the now very much ‘on trend’ rouge-lite gameplay mechanic, HyperParasite is a top-down, twin-stick shooter where you play as a parasite. Basic? Yes. But like an alien taking control of a human, there’s a lot more going on under the skin.

So the plot for this is (as mentioned) you playing as a parasite, an alien with the ability to take control of humans. As the alien is pretty weak (one hit deaths) you seriously need those human host bodies to complete your mission. And your mission is it to take control of the POTUS and then press the ‘big red button’ to take out the human race. Oh yeah, you’re the bad guy… or bad alien. With this being a rouge-lite game you will die… a lot. That is the very nature of the sub-genre, you die, you make a little progress, you die, you learn more of the game, you die, you get a new upgrade, you die. Rinse and repeat… and die. It is this trial and error gameplay mechanic that turns a lot of people off, if they don’t understand what a rouge-lite game is like. It can be frustrating, it can be annoying and many games in this sub-genre get the balance wrong between being frustrating but also fun. Thankfully, HyperParasite strikes that balance right, almost perfect in fact.

If you’ve ever played a twin-stick shooter before, then you’ll know what to expect. The controls are simple, one stick moves your character, the other aims your weapon, then you have a button to shoot. But don’t let that simplicity fool you, cos HyperParasite is tough, very tough. Every time you die (and you will), you go back to the very start of the game. There are no save states, no checkpoints, this is permadeath territory. So this is where the whole being a parasite comes in handy as every time you take control of one of the humans, that acts as an extra life. Each of the humans have their own strengths and weaknesses, as well as their own unique weapons and stats too. This element of taking over humans adds a wonderful element of strategy to the game. Do you go for a long range human, who will be less accurate with their attacks, or do you go for a close range/melee and stronger attack putting you closer to the danger? Then you have to take into account you target’s speed, some humans are quite nippy, others lug about, but may have other talents that will prove helpful. Then there’s the luck stat, as the higher the luck is, the more likely they are to find decent loot, loot that will come in very handy. I love this aspect of HyperParasite, this level of thought instead of just running around gung-ho. You really do have to think about which human to take control over for specific situations, be very aware of each of the character’s unique skills. For instance, I tend to like using the fast ninja character with high luck to get my hands on some much needed in-game money. But his attack isn’t great and going up against an end of level boss with the ninja will often result in death, so I’ll swap out with a more robust and weighty character for a big showdown.

HYPERPARASITE TITLE CHARACTERS

Aside from the basic shooting and taking over humans, there are a few other tricks at your disposal. You can dodge, use special attacks (when in control of a human) and more. There are upgrades to be found or purchased from the in-game shop. It is also this shop where you can unlock new humans to take over. You start out with only four, but as you massacre your way though the areas of each stage, you’ll find the brains of those you have killed dropped by stronger versions of those characters. Take said brain back to the shop and that will unlock that human, but you then have to use in-game money to buy the human to make them available to take control of. You can also store up to three human bodies at the shop for use later (see my swapping out the ninja point above). This is an extremely handy feature as you can keep hold of some of the harder to find characters for use when needed. Speaking of the humans, I think this is a good time to talk about the game’s setting.

As I mentioned at the start, HyperParasite is set in the eighties… and it’s not shy about that either. Aside from the very neon looking 16-bit stylised graphics, there’s also a rather impressive electronica/synth-pop soundtrack, it sounds like something from a Chuck Norris/Cannon, direct to VHS film… and it’s glorious too. Then there are the sixty-odd humans in the game you can control. Some of them are fairly generic, but a lot of them are obvious (but non-copyright infringing) eighties pop culture character references. Each of the five acts in the game have their own unique setting and graphics. As an example, the first being ‘Downtown’ with its grimy and sleazy back streets, where you will cross paths with the likes of Delivery Girl (Paperboy from the game), Ghost Hunter (Peter Venkman from Ghostbusters) and Drug Lord (Tony Montana from Scarface) to name a few. Each act has three sub-bosses that needs taking out too, and yes, these are also eighties pop culture references. Just sticking with the Downtown area for this bit, you will have to face the likes of an off-duty detective (John McClane from Die Hard), a Rocky Balboa parody and my personal favourite sub-boss character, Michael Jay Wolf, and if you need me to point out who that’s supposed to be, then you didn’t grow up in the eighties. The eighties references even extend to the background details, posters on the walls parody famous films of the decade, there are some really cute little details in the in-game shop from eighties toys to film and gaming references.

HYPERPARASITE TITLE CHARACTER ALMANAC

Being a rouge-lite game and the fact you will die… a lot, could begin to grate after a while. But like all good rouge-lite titles, every time you do restart, everything is procedurally generated. So each time you play, you play a different game. The act layouts are different, the items found are different, upgrades are different, the stock in the shop is different, the sub-boss you will face is different and so on. What you basically have to do in HyperParasite is it make your way though the acts, which are split into multiple different areas, kill all humans in an area and move onto the next. Clear all areas, all humans and the sub-boss character to go onto the final area, which will be the main boss of that stage. Kill the end of act boss and move onto the next act… simples. But you have to lose to advance, it’s straight up impossible to go from the start of the game to the end on your first try, it’ll be pretty damn difficult to do it on your hundredth try to be honest. I’ve lost count of how many times I have died and restarted, and I don’t even care to be honest.

With five different acts to clear, each with their own set of unique characters to unlock based on each act’s setting. You’ll find yourself going from Downtown with it’s grimy back street look to Chinatown with a certain Kurt Russell film influence (and yes, Jack Burton is even in the game… sort of) and an Industrial area where you’ll meet a Robocop, Mario and a Toxie The Toxic Avenger parodies… and I don’t know what the last two acts are as I’ve not got to them… yet. But I can use the in-game almanac to see the characters you’ll meet. There’s Crocodile Dundee, Rick Deckard, Xenomorph, Ash Williams, Mr. T, John Matrix and so many more fun eighties pastiches to unlock. It’s also worth reading their bios for some funny references and jokes. Each of the five acts also has a loads of secrets to discover along the way, like underground areas and hidden upgrades. There’s plenty here to keep you coming back an exploring, even if you are playing the same (procedurally generated) areas over and over again. 

HYPERPARASITE ACTION

Well now I’ve got how HyperParasite works out of the way… did I enjoy it? Let me put it this way, when I got my review code, I put it on for an hour just to see what it was like. Played that hour and that was it, I got an idea of the game. The next day, I played for another hour and that’s when I began to get a feel of the whole rouge-lite mechanics and unlocked a few more characters. The next day, I told myself I’d play another hour then begin to outline this review. I began this hour long play at 8PM, the next thing I knew, it was 3:30 in the morning. HyperParasite is one of those ‘just one more go’ games that sucks you in, and that ‘one more go’ often becomes several dozen more goes, and an hour becomes seven hours. Since getting my review code, I’ve been playing the game every day, hours at a time… I’m officially hooked. Even more so, though I was given a review code for the Xbox (thanks to Troglobytes Games), I still bought the game on Steam regardless. I tend not to buy games that I’ve been given for free as there is little point, but I have with HyperParasite because I really want to support these guys and hope to see more from them in the future… and it means I can have a cheeky play on my laptop when I should be working.

I adore this game, adore it. Seriously, I have fallen in love with this beautifully crafted piece of software. It is sublime, balanced and frustratingly hard… in a good way. I mentioned my friend Badger at Stoffel Presents at the start of this review, he has said that HyperParasite is the best indie game of 2020 (a lot) over the last few months. That’s a statement I simply can not argue against, but I’m willing to go one better. I think it’s the best game I played in 2020, indie or otherwise. If the team over at Troglobytes Games can keep updating this with new features, areas, weapons, enemies, etc, then just maybe this could be my new Dead Cells and I’ll still be playing it three years later?

I may be late to the party with this one, but it’s a hell of a party to be at. My only niggle is that I had to stop playing HyperParasite to review it. A niggle I’m going to rectify as soon as publish this.

HyperParasite is fast, frantic, frustratingly-fun, frolicking fare. A must buy for anyone who enjoys a good, well balanced rouge-light game. Just buy it now.

Diana Rigg: We Have All The Time In The World

A few months ago, back in April, we lost my all time favourite Bond girl. Pussy Galore, played by Honor Blackman, was a class act and her mix of beauty, brains and brawn made her a formidable girl for James Bond to conquer… she was lesbian in the book don’t you know? Today we lost another Bond girl and if Pussy Galore was my favourite, then Countess Teresa ‘Tracy’ di Vicenzo was a very close second. Played by the amazing Diana Rigg, who sadly died today.

DIANA RIGG 2

Now, when I do these in memorandum articles of stars we have recently lost, I tend to do a whole look back at their career and life in general… I don’t want to do that this time around, I’m sure other sites will do just that. Instead, I want to look at the impact this Bond girl had in the James Bond character and the franchise as a whole. I mean, she is the only Bond girl to ever tame Mr Bond. But before I do get into that, there’s just a little quick thing I want to bring up.

I’ve already mentioned the passing of Honor Blackman earlier this year. Now with Diana Rigg gone too, there’s a little something the also connects them outside of the whole Bond girl thing. 

THE AVENGERS

Yup, Honor Blackman played Cathy Gale, the sidekick to Patrick Macnee’s, John Steed in the classic sixties TV show, The Avengers (Iron Man not included). But when Honor left the show at the end of the third series (to play Pussy Galore in Goldfinger), a replacement was needed. Enter Diana Rigg as Mrs Emma Peel. So we’ve not only lost two great Bond girls within a few months, we’ve also lost two feisty Avengers too.

So anyway, back onto the point of this article and time to take a look at just how much of an impact Diana Rigg’s, Tracy di Vicenzo had on James Bond.

OHMSS

Appearing in the only Bond film that George Lazenby was in, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, which incidentally is one of my favourite Bond flicks. Tracy was the only girl in the original franchise to mean more to James Bond than just an opportunity to get his leg over. We all know how ‘disposable’ Bond girls are in the movies. They appear in one film, James Bond seduces them and are never mentioned again. Not Tracy di Vicenzo though, she was much more than just another notch in Bond’s bedpost. He actually fell in love with this one. This wasn’t just a roll in the hay of the stables of the main villain, this was a genuine and evolving relationship between James Bond and Tracy di Vicenzo, up to the point where they actually got married and Tracy became Mrs Tracy Bond. Not a sham marriage to cover tracks, get out of the country, get a green card or any other flimsy excuse. This was a marriage of love and respect. James Bond actually married one of his girls.

The wedding was a massive shock at the time as Bond was already very firmly established as a womaniser, a casual sex kind of guy, the ultimate bachelor. No woman could ever tie him down… but Tracy did. However, that shock of the wedding was soon overshadowed as the happy couple drove off at the end of On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, planning their lives together and talking about having children, for Tracy to then be tragically killed by James Bond’s arch nemesis, Ernst Stavro Blofeld (well his hench-woman, Irma Bunt) in a drive-by shooting.

As Bond cradles his dead wife, he talks about her as if she’s still alive (“she’s having a rest”), as if he can’t believe that she’s gone… and then he says it, he says the line. “There’s no hurry you see, we have all the time in the world”. It’s really genuinely heart breaking, not just for James Bond, but also the viewer. Perhaps the darkest moment in James Bond history and a moment that was never fully forgotten.

Usually, there’s very little, if any continuity in the James Bond franchise. Each film is pretty much like a restart, a new mission that doesn’t reference any previous Bond films. There is the odd exception here and there, the 40th anniversary of the Bond franchise and the many references in Die Another Day as an example. But generally speaking, events from one Bond film tend not to impact another… until the Daniel Craig era anyway. But Tracy’s death was referenced in the movies from that point on and I’m going to see if I can mention all of them.

DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER

Strangely, the next film after Tracy’s death doesn’t mention her at all. Sean Connery returns for Diamonds Are Forever and it opens up in that classic Bond manner of a pre-title action sequence. Here, Bond is tracking down Blofeld. We can assume it’s to get revenge for killing Tracy… but it’s never mentioned if that is the reason. It could just be Bond going after his nemesis because that’s what he does. I’ve always felt that Diamonds Are Forever should’ve referenced Tracy in some way, but it never did and missed the perfect reason to give Bond motivation.  However, the first and often overlooked reference of Tracy is from when Roger Moore stepped into the tuxedo for The Spy Who Loved Me. When Bond meets Russian agent, Anya Amasova, she begins to talk about James Bond’s life, she says of Bond that he was “married only once. Wife was…”. Her speech is cut off by Bond saying how she had made her point, to which Anya replies that Bond is sensitive about certain things. Yup, I guess your new wife dying, after being gunned down in cold blood by your most bitter enemy is kind of sensitive.

Next up is perhaps the most famous reference. It comes from For Your Eyes Only. In it, James Bond is actually standing at the grave of Tracy, on which he places some roses. The grave clearly has the immortal line engraved into it to… we have all the time in the world.

TRACY BOND GRAVE

After which, Bond boards a helicopter controlled by Blofeld, sending James on the ride of his life. Once Bond gets control of the copter, he manages to pick up Blofeld and drops him into a industrial smokestack. Presumably killing him and finally getting his revenge for Tracy’s murder. Though due to some strange licencing and legal issues, Blofeld is not actually credited as Blofeld but as ‘Bald-Headed Man with White Cat’.

The next reference comes in the Timothy Dalton starring Licence to Kill. In this flick, CIA operative and friend of James Bond, Felix Leiter gets married. Felix’s new wife, Delta throws her garter after the wedding and Bond catches it. She then suggests that he (Bond) will marry next. James Bond looks upset and leaves. Delta asks Felix if she said anything wrong, to which he replies that Bond was married “a long time ago”. Plus there is the whole plot of Delta being killed shorty after getting married in the film that mirrors James and Tracy’s short marriage. In fact, it could be suggested that the reason Bond goes after the main bad guys in this film is because he was motivated by the memories of his own tragically short marriage.

GOLDENEYE

Another film another Bond as Pierce Brosnan’s first foray also has a reference. In GoldenEye, naughty 006, Alec Trevelyan asks Bond if he has “found forgiveness in the arms of all those willing women for the dead ones you failed to protect?”. Now, this one is a bit more vague as doesn’t directly reference Tracy or their marriage… but Bond gives a certain look that to me, says a lot. A look that’s not just one failed relationships with random women, a look that has a lot of pain behind it. Sticking with Pierce Brosnan and The World Is Not Enough. When Bond is talking to Elektra King (whose father was killed in the opening sequence), she asks if Bond has ever lost anyone he truly loved. Bond never replies, he offers another one of ‘those’ looks and seems to be very unconformable by the question. Bond then changes the subject and continues the conversation.

I believe that is all the references, either direct or just passing to the death of Tracy. But it goes to show that Mrs Tracy Bond’s death is one that had a bigger impact on James’ life than you first realise… and it’s all thanks to the wonderfully beautiful and charming Diana Rigg. She was more than just a typical Bond girl, she was Mrs James Bond.

DIANA RIGG

“I thought it was ridiculous that I was being paid less than a cameraman, and I wanted to shame them. And I did.”

– Diana Rigg

Ready To Feel Ancient? The Matrix Is Twenty Years Old

Originally released on the 31st of March way back in the space year of 1999. The Matrix was the brainchild of Andy and Larry Wachowski the then Wachowski brothers… that’s a whole other article in itself. The Matrix changed cinema for years with it’s groundbreaking effects work. But it was not a film that was all looks an no substance, The Matrix is a flick that can be as simple or as complex as you want it to be. Just watch it as a kick-ass action romp and enjoy it on that level – or delve into its more philosophical elements and how it questions reality and existence.

I still remember the day I went to the cinema to watch the film. You have to bear in mind that we are talking about a film made by relatively unknowns. This was only the Wachowski brothers (yes I know, but at the time they were brothers) second film after the taught and incredibly sexy and stylish thriller Bound from 1996. Bound was very much an underground hit. It had it’s fans (I’m one) but it was hardly Hollywood blockbuster material – so expectations were low for The Matrix. Then there were the stars like Laurence Fishburne who now is instantly recognisable, but back in 1999? He was known as that guy from the Tina Turner biopic or Max from A Nightmare on Elm Street 3: Dream Warriors. Carrie-Anne Moss, aside from some bit-parts in T.V. shows, she was unknown and The Matrix was her big breakthrough. Hugo Weaving was perhaps even more unknown than anyone else in the main cast unless you were Australian. Joe Pantoliano had already had a steady acting carer by the time 1999 came around mainly playing bit-parts and character roles. He starred in the previously mentioned Bound… and that’s about all he would’ve been known for back then unless you were a die hard Goonies fan.

Plus it was a time when the internet was still till in its infancy, we didn’t have super-fast fibre optic broadband to watch trailers with, no social networks to spread the word, no smartphones to catch up on movie news on the go… it was a very different time.

The Matrix Cast

Oh and there was some guy by the name of Keanu Reeves. Yeah a household name now but not back in 1999, he was really only known for comedy rolls like the Bill & Ted films and small indie films. I guess the action flick Speed could be seen as his foot in the door of action cinema but he was still hardly known as an action film star afterwards in the same way he is today. It’s not as if Speed was to Keanu what Die Hard was to Bruce Willis. So really with The Matrix you had writer/directors not really know for anything with a cast of actors no one really cared about. It was not an easy film to see any merit in.

So yeah, quite honestly I had zero interest in the film. My brother called me up and asked if I wanted to go to the cinema – I had nothing going on so said yes. Didn’t see any trailers, paid no attention to who was in the film or who made it. Had no idea what I was going to watch just went along because I was bored and had nothing else to do. I went into the film 100% blind. But when I came out of that cinema? The first thought that went though my head was that must have been what it was like to have seen Star Wars at the cinema for the first time back in 1977. I felt that The Matrix was a game changer as if cinema had just taken several jumps forward not just in terms of effects work but also storytelling. I just knew then and there that The Matrix was something special, that people would still be talking about it decades later… twenty years later and here I am.

The Matrix Pills

But the big question is, two decades later, does The Matrix hold up? We live in an age where films date quickly. I’ve certainly seen films in the last decade or so that feel old only months after release. Yet some films are timeless no matter when they were made – The Matrix is one of them. Aside from some of the questionable technobabble and dated references/technology (remember when everyone wanted one of those Nokia flick phones?). The effects are still impressive, bullet time may not hold the impact it did when you first saw it, but it still looks good and just as satisfying as ever. The fight sequences are as exciting as they were back in 1999. Shoot outs are heart-pumping, that lobby scene is still one of the best shoot outs ever caught on film. As an action picture, The Matrix delivers. But it’s not just the impressive action sequences and still amazing effects work that hold up after twenty years. It’s the writing, the storytelling. It’s when you really get into the deeper aspects of The Matrix when the film comes to life.

The basic of good vs evil, human vs machine is nothing special I admit and yes the whole fulfilling a prophecy, being ‘the One’ shtick got tiresome. The love thing between Neo and Trinity was trite. Yet it’s the questioning reality, self-existence and everything that comes with it where the story excels. The multi-layered and textured story telling is fascinating and I love getting lost in the questioning of reality, the two worlds shown in the film – the simulation that is The Matrix and the real world of a desolate future where humans are dying out compliment each other perfectly. When Joe Pantoliano’s Cypher wants out of the real world by betraying his crew mates and when he is offered to be reinserted into The Matrix with a whole new life. The line “ignorance is bliss” he says speaks volumes. Seriously, given the choice of living in on a dead planet being hunted by machines, fighting a war that seemingly has no end or living in ignorance inside The Matrix is a tough call. I can’t be the only person who has often wondered if there is something better out there, something other than the life we believe is all we have?

The Matrix Gun

I’m going off on bit of a tangent here, but I quite honestly could write lengthy articles just on how deep The Matrix goes.  I don’t mean to get into questioning one’s own existence but just to look back at The Matrix after two decades and see if it still holds up. It does, very much so. Having just re-watched the film for the first time in a good few years – I still found it thoroughly entertaining. As I said earlier, it’s a film you can watch on so many levels. Yes it’s a great action flick, but it also asks and addresses much deeper themes and ideas if you really look beyond what is shown on the screen.

I’m not a fan of DVD commentaries, I find it’s usually full of nothing but overpaid people inflating their own egos by making themselves sound like cinematic geniuses. But the commentary for The Matrix is very different and highly unique. Instead of having the Wachowskis harp on about how creative and insightful they are, they decided not to do the commentary themselves. Instead what you get are two commentary tracks. One is from two film critics that didn’t like the film, while the other is from two philosophers who did. The two commentary tracks are amazingly interesting and show how one can perceive the film from two very different standpoints. The critics are negative but bring up several interesting flaws (some stupid ones too). While the philosophers, understandably get deeper into the subtleties of the story. Their polar opposite views really are interesting to hear and yet they really work together. Well worth checking out. I came out with a very different view of The Matrix after listening to the two commentary tracks.

The Matrix Kung Fu.gif

The Matrix is my generation’s Star Wars. Even two decades since it’s release, there just hasn’t been anything like it… plenty of imitators that have tired to delve into the depth The Matrix offers, countless flicks doing similar/same effects work – and yet none of them have managed to capture what made The Matrix so special, not even it’s own sequels and spin-offs.

It’s a film that is still talked about twenty years after it’s release and will probably still be talked about in another twenty, and still relevant in today’s cinema. Even films coming out soon like to throw in a The Matrix reference now and then, it seems even Keanu Reeves himself can’t escape them…

 

“Unfortunately, no one can be told what The Matrix is. You’ll have to see it for yourself.”

 

– Morpheus

My Book Update And The First Three Chapters

So I guess I had better do a quick summary for those not in the know.

I’m currently going full-tilt on writing a book covering some of the best British game developers and publishers of the 80s and 90s gaming boom, a book I spent a huge chunk of 2017 reserching. There really was a revolution in terms of gaming going on that I think tells an interesting story – one that intertwines and creates a tapestry of British gaming.

My aim is to entertain and even educate. A fantastic trip down memory lane for older gamers like myself  and even an insight for younger gamers that didn’t realise just how important the British gaming scene was. Right now, I have seven chapters written up, but there is still a long way to go yet. Each chapter tells the story of a gaming company from the start until the end while also covering the people responsible for founding them and some of the games they created. When finished, I hope to put together a huge and impressive hardback, glossy paged beauty any gaming fan would love to own. I’m making good progress on the book, as I previously said – so far I have seven chapters written and I’m working on it on a daily basis. I think I’ll have the first draft completed within two months – depending on how big the end result ends up being. Then the editing and proofreading begins and I’ll remove some parts, add to others, etc. I think I can get a final draft done by mid-late summer.

I have decided to let people (who wish to) read the first three chapters of the book just to give an idea of exactly where its heading and what it will contain when finished. But before I do let people read, there are a few things I want to make clear.

  • The following chapters are a VERY rough first draft. There are spelling/grammar errors. These will be sorted out through future drafts. So please don’t let them bother you too much.
  • This is just the text version. I aim for the final product to be accompanied with numerous images that relate to the stories being told. So try to imagine those as you read if you can.
  • I have a very specific art style in mind for the final product that will make the chapters pop, but all of that will come much later.

So anyway, if you feel like having a read you can find the first three chapters right here.

If you wish to give me some feedback, then you can leave a reply or use the contact form on this very blog.

Happy reading.

Upcoming Movie Sequels And Remakes…Plus My Plan For This Year

Well, its my first article of 2018. I hope you all had a great Christmas and New Year. Before I get into the meat of this one – I just want to quickly cover my plan for this blog in 2018. You see, normally when I write – I tend to do so on the fly with no pre-planning except for major holidays like Halloween, Christmas and so on. But this year I have a plan… several in fact.

My Plans

First up and something regular readers may notice creeping into a lot of articles over the next 12 months. The 15th of July this year marks not only my birthday but also the 30th anniversary since the release of Die Hard. And I fucking love Die Hard – I mean, this was my Christmas jumper this year…

Die Hard jumper.jpg

So pre-warning… there will be a lot of Die Hard related stuff this year. With retrospectives looking back at all the films and games, behind the scenes ‘making of’ write ups and much more. There will be Die Hard centric articles as well as just passing references and nods to the film(s) throughout the year. 2018 is the year of Die Hard for me. Yippie kai-yay mother fuckers!

Secondly, I will be trying my hand at some new series with multiple articles all connected via a common theme. I’m going to take a look at several movie/character/actor curses this year. Plus I have an idea to compare specific movies to the books/novels that inspired them. No prizes for guessing what my first one will be about (see my first note above).

Third, I have an idea buzzing around in my head for a book I wish to write. I’m keeping this one under my hat for the time being, but I have been researching a particular niche topic over the last 5 months or so that I feel could make an interesting book. So I’m going to write an in-depth article right here that connects to my concept and give a taste of what my plan is to test the waters…

Finally – I aim to finish my vigilante novel that I have been writing the last few months. I’m around halfway through right now. There’s still a long way to go yet and a lot more writing to do. But this year is where I push myself to write more so than I ever have done before.

Anyway, on with the show.

Love them or hate them – sequels and remakes are here to stay. Over the next few years we could be seeing old faces return as well as new ones playing much loved characters as more and more films are due to be sequalised and remade. Some of the films in this list are confirmed, but some are still in the very early development/rumour phase and may never see the light of day. Regardless – I’ll be taking a look at some upcoming sequels and remakes as well as offer my opinion on whether I’m looking forward to them or not.

The Sequels

Die Hard 6… told you didn’t I?

Die Hard

Yes John McClane is set to be heading back to the big screen for the fifth sequel in the franchise. Let’s be honest here, Bruce Willis is getting on a bit now and he just can’t do the same films he was doing 30 years ago. Which I why I think this sequel is going the route it is. The film’s title is rumoured to being Die Hardest or Die Hard: Year One and will not be a straight up sequel – it’s being suggested that the film with be both a sequel and a prequel in one movie.

There will be ‘present’ segments of the film with Willis playing the iconic John McClane – and now retired as a cop but then some of the film will also be set in 1979 telling the story of a young, rookie cop McClane in New York years before the whole Nakatomi Plaza ordeal from the first film. Its also said to show the early relationship between John and his future wife, Holly before they became estranged.

My feelings on this one are a bit mixed. I adore the first film – I really, really do. I massively enjoy the first sequel. The third film I keep going back and forth between of liking and just putting up with. The last two? Fuck them. The whole franchise is a mixed bag of inconsistency. Part of me wants to see Willis back as McClane but another part of me just thinks they should let the series die… hard. I’m really not all that interested in seeing a young McClane to be honest.

Lethal Weapon 5

Lethal Weapon.jpg

From one Christmas classic getting a sequel to another. It seems that the ‘on the edge’ Martin Riggs and still retiring after 30 years Roger Murtaugh could be coming back for one more flick.

Recently, Lethal Weapon legendary director – Richard Donner took part in a podcast where he discussed his illustrious career and future plans and part of those plans involved a new Lethal Weapon sequel. Donner had this to say…

“It’s a story I came up with Channing Gibson, the writer who wrote [Lethal Weapon] 4, and I’m just having to work it out with the studio. If everybody steps up and we all get together, we’ll make it. Mel and Danny are on board. If they don’t… if it doesn’t work out, at least we tried. But there’s a good… a better chance that you will see the movie.”

So things sound like they are moving ahead with the fifth film in the series. Everyone is on board and Donner just needs to sell the idea to the studio.

My views on this one pretty much mirror my views for Die Hard 6 –  I love the first two flicks, the later sequels though… I can take or leave. There is a part of me that would love to see Gibson and Glover get back together as these two have magical chemistry – but then I also think the franchise has run its ground. Plus, lets be honest here. Both of them are “getting too old for this shit”.

Shaft 2

Shaft.jpg

Ya, damnnnnnn right. It also looks the the bad mother… (shut yo mouth) – but I’ talkin’ bout Shaft, so you can dig it – could also be returning. Yes the remake of Shaft from 2000 that wasn’t a remake but a sequel is getting a sequel itself. Okay, before I continue – please allow me to clear something up, the 2000 Shaft film was NOT a remake as many people like to claim. It was a sequel with Samuel L. Jackson paying the nephew of the original Shaft…the film even had the original Shaft (Richard Roundtree) in it.

Anyway, this sequel is said to be a direct sequel to the 2000 Shaft film and Samuel L. himself is coming back to be joined by Regnia Hall as Variety reported a few weeks back. Even more so…Richard Roundtree is also said to be returning as the original Uncle Shaft too. The plot revolves around nephew Shaft’s son played by Jessie T. Usher who investigates the death of one of his close friends and asks his estranged father for help.

You know something, this is a sequel I can dig. I thought the 2000 Shaft flick was damn entertaining but sadly overlooked. Getting back both the original Shaft as well as nephew Shaft could be awesome. Teaming up with son of Shaft. That’s a lot of Shaft. Yes, I’m fully aware that I’ve written the word ‘Shaft‘ a lot but he’s a complicated man – no one understand him but his woman.

Creed 2

Creed

I love the Rocky franchise. The more recent flicks in the series have been amazing and the last film, Creed was by favourite film of 2015. So of course I’m eagerly awaiting the next part of this epic saga and after the amazing success of Creed, a sequel was all but inevitable.

So details on Creed 2 are slim, but seeing as Stallone has been posting picks of himself and old Rocky rival Dolph Lundgren – its not hard to piece together what Creed 2 will be about. It looks like Ivan Drago from Rocky IV will be back and rumours are suggesting that Drago will be bringing along his son too. For those not in the know, there is some bad blood between the Drago family and the Creed bloodline…to put it mildly. So it seems this new flick will be about Adonis Creed (possibly) seeking revenge for what happened to his father, Apollo in Rocky IV.

I don’t know if I’m looking forward to this one. I can not stress enough how much I loved Creed, the film is sublime. I adore how they took it back to basics and grounded it in reality, if felt raw and real. And this is where my problem lies as Rocky IV was anything but raw and real – I personally consider the film the bastard of the franchise as its so ridiculous and lost all of the heart the other films had. Yes, I even consider Rocky V a ‘better’ sequel over Rocky IV. I just do not see how these two worlds can work together – Creed with its heavy emotion and character driven plot tied with Rocky IV complete with its talking robot and 7ft tall indestructible video game boss. Plus the whole revenge motif just does not interest me either. I’d love to see a sequel to Creed, but I have no interest in seeing a sequel to Rocky IV. This could be a cocktail that is pure genius or utterly terrible.

John Wick 3

John Wick

I thought the John Wick flicks were awesome. True action pictures directed brilliantly, simple plots and really just about seeing a talented hitman shoot people in the head…a lot. The first film became an instant action classic and the sequel was even better. The way the last film ended, there just had to be a sequel.

Derek Kolstad, who wrote the first two films has been hired to write the third and Keanu Reeves is set to return too – because it wouldn’t be a John Wick film without him would it? Details are thin on the ground but going off the end of the last flick, we can be sure old Johnny boy is in trouble with the Continental – the organisation of assassins he once worked for. Prepare yourself of a lot of gun-play, car chases and fisticuffs.

Can’t wait for this one and if original director – Chad Stahelski returns too (he may be busy with another project), this could round off and become one of the great modern trilogies of cinema.

Gremlins 3

Gremins

Looks like yet another Christmas classic could be getting a new sequel. The original Gremlins was a wonderful mix of horror, comedy and action. One of the last great PG films before PG films became diluted messes. Gremlins 2: The New Batch was also a cracker but for very different reasons – with its forth wall breaking and self-aware humour. Writer of the first flick, Chris Columbus has already written a third film in the series.

Columbus says the script is completed and that its going to be more like the first film with its dark, twisted tone and style.

“I’m really proud of the script. It is as twisted and dark as anything, so we’ll see. It’s always a budgetary conversation when we’re going to shoot it. I wanted to go back to the really twisted sensibility of the first movie. I found that was a very easy place for me to fall back into and start writing again so hopefully we’ll see that movie soon.”

Zach Galligan, who played Billy Peltzer in the first two movies in the franchise has also said that the movie is moving forward and how he is excited to be in the picture. All that is left to do is convince Warner Brothers that this is a project worth investing in and with the 35th anniversary of the first film coming up in 2019 – the timing could work out well, but they need to start ASAP.

Yeah I wanna see a Gremlins 3, especially if they can get the original cast and crew back. With Columbus’ script ready to go and as dark as the first film, Galligan eager to get involved, if they can get Steven Spielberg back as producer too – this could be a slice of fried gold.

Coming To America 2

Coming to America

Back in the late 80s through to the mid 90s, Eddie Murphy was cinematic gold. He starred in some of the best comedy films of that era. When he teamed up with John Landis for the second time after Trading Places for their next project, Coming To America, they hit comedy gold. Now it seems that Prince Akeem could be returning.

There had been rumours for years about a sequel, but nothing ever came of them. But things now seem to be moving ahead full steam. Sadly, Landis is no longer on board and sitting in the director’s chair this time will be Jonathan Levine. With a script written by Levine and Kenya Barris, who created the hit sitcom Black-ish. What the plot will be about is unknown right now and its still early days yet so anything can happen. Murphy is expected to return as Prince (or possibly by now, King) Akeem and even Arsenio Hall could return as his right hand servant, Semmi.

I love the original flick and its probably my favourite Murphy picture. So I’m looking forward to this one…but I have been stung in the past by decades gap sequels to great comedy movies. Hopefully this is one that can break that tradition. I don’t know whether to shake your hand, or kiss it, or bow, or what… I feel like breakdancin’. With most of the cast still able to return (sadly no Madge Sinclair) I just hope they flesh out the Cuba Gooding Jr. character. But they had better not call it Coming 2 America – I hate that shit.

Remakes

An American Werewolf In London

American werewolf in London

From one John Landis classic to another. Yes the greatest werewolf movie ever is being remade. The original is a damn fine film, its scary and darkly hilarious too – a perfect melding of comedy and horror. But just who as the sheer brass balls to even think about remaking this film and dare to step into the shoes of the great John Landis?

Well none other than his own son. Max Landis is writing and directing this remake, in fact young Landis says he has finished the first draft of the screenplay, so things are moving forward.

I’m quite looking forward to this one and I adore the original. I’m open to a new version of one of my all time favourites but I think Max has some pretty big shoes to fill. I just hope he makes the film his way and not the way he thinks he father thinks he should.

The Crow

The Crow

1994’s The Crow, based on the graphic novel by James O’ Barr was a flawed masterpiece. And yes, we very sadly lost Brandon Lee due to a tragic on set accident too. For many people, they think the fact Lee lost his life making the film is enough for the remake not to happen.

Look, The Crow was an okay flick – I enjoyed it immensely back then…not so much now. Yes its upsetting that an actor lost his life while making it too – but there is so much the movie left out from its source material, which for me I felt was a FAR superior story. This remake is said to follow the graphic novel much more closely and even its creator O’ Barr is on board giving this new version his full support. With Corin Hardy directing Jason Momoa as Eric. Production is said to start this February.

Yes I’m looking forward to this one because I am such a huge fan of the original graphic novel and I feel there is so much more a film version can do that the 1994 version didn’t. The fact its going to follow the source material much closer is great news instead of it being a straight up remake of the 1994 flick.

Big Trouble In Little China

Big Trouble in Little China

John Carpenter has had several of his films remade over the years and it looks like things are not going to be changing anytime soon either. Next up is his awesome tale of kung-fu and magic as Jack Burton is coming back to the big screen.

News of this remake broke last summer with Dwayne (I actually really like this guy) Johnson set to not only play Jack Burton in the remake but also produce it too. He has also said he wants Carpenter himself involved in the project.

The original is a stupidly over the top action/adventure kung-fu flick…and its magnificent. If they can get this right, it could work out well as they just don’t make pictures this stupid anymore.

Escape From New York

Escape From New York

See, I told you John Carpenter films get remade a lot. Even the mighty Snake Plissken is going to be ‘reborn’ in the form of a remake. The bleak, dystopian New York is all set to be re-imagined…and its sounding good so far.

The script has been completed and written by Luther creator Neil Cross. He has even sent it to John Carpenter who has given the project his seal of approval. No news on who will be playing Snake in the remake but a director has been announced. Robert Rodriguez is going to helm this project.

This is another one I am genuinely looking forward to. The original is a classic, no doubt about it and its a film I adore so damn much. But this remake really has piqued my interest as I’m a huge fan of Rodriguez who is in turn a huge fan of Carpenter – so I think they have got the right man for the job here as he will treat the film with respect. I just hope we get hard edged Sin City Rodriguez and not the family friendly Spy Kids one.

Death Wish

Death Wish

Vigilante films don’t get much better than the 1974 original as its often held up as the archetype of the sub-genre. This Charles Bronson revenge film is a dirty, grimy action packed masterpiece.

The remake is has been directed by Eli Roth. I say ‘has been’ because the film is completed and ready for release, there’s already trailer for it too. Bruce Willis is playing Paul Kersey who after his wife is killed and daughter left in hospital following an attack at their home, goes out for revenge on those responsible.

Now I’ve seen the trailer – I’m not convinced by this one. The original had a style that worked and the underlining message was one that showed vigilantism in a bad light. This remake looks too glossy and cookie-cutter ‘shooty-shooty, bang-bang’. It could just be the way the trailer is cut and the finished film might be much better. Plus as much as I love Willis…hes a lame stand-in for Charlie B.

Highlander

Highlander

Ahhhhh, Highlander. A cracking first flick – then a deluge of shit after it. A franchise I have covered previously and came to the conclusion that there should’ve been only one.

A remake makes a lot of sense when the franchise has been completely ruined by bad sequel after bad sequel after bad sequel. Plus there is the fact that Chad Stahelski is directing it…which was why I questioned his involvement in John Wick 3 earlier. It has been reported that Drew Barrer and Gabriel Ferrari, who have been working on the Ant-Man movies have been hired to write this remake and to get the project moving forward.

This is one I’m definitely looking forward to. I’m a big fan of the original and as much as I love the film – it has many, many problems. I hope this remake irons out several of the creases. Plus there is the fact that Stahelski is directing it and I think he’s a great choice for this one. There is one troubling factor about this remake, the soundtrack. Any Highlander fan will tell you that the music by Queen is just as important to the film as the story and characters are and with Queen no longer the same band they once were – that leaves a pretty big gap in the film’s production. Even Stahelski himself has expressed concern of this problem.

“The tone of the first one just hit at that weird music video edge in the 80s that had Queen and for some reason, Queen just fits. I don’t think you can do Highlander and bring about that kind of tone again with the mythological world and take it too seriously. Just as we did with Wick, you can’t kill 80 people over a puppy and take yourself seriously. We got to let the audience know that we’re having fun and that there is a world here.

Point being I can’t see Highlander without Queen, without the Queen center, without having Freddy Mercury, Prince of the Universe, and all this stuff. I can’t picture the movie in my head without it.”

It seems that Stahelski wants Queen on the soundtrack as much as any self-respecting Highlander fan does…he seems like the right guy for the job.

Rambo

First Blood.jpg

Yeah, yeah I know the first film is called First Blood and not Rambo, but everyone calls it Rambo anyway. Even the upcoming remake is going with that title…sort of.

Yes John Rambo could be heading back to the big screen only without Sly Stallone as a remake is being worked on right now. With the title said to be Rambo: New Blood and it being written by Brooks McLaren with the film to be directed by Ariel Vromen.

This one seems a bit sketchy right now as details seem to change on a weekly basis. From Stallone originally returning, to it being turned into a TV show which will focus on John Rambo’s son with Stallone in a secondary role to it now being said that Stallone is out completely and the film will be a hard reset/remake instead. Nothing has been confirmed and as far as I can tell, there is no script yet either. Who knows?


Well there you have it, a handful of sequels and remakes that are on the way over the next few years if things go to plan. There are so many more I haven’t mentioned but I can always cover more later. For now – I have more writing to get on with and several Die Hard related articles to plan…