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The Troubled Remake Of The Crow And My Idea

Its recently been announced that they are remaking the Bruce Lee classic Enter the Dragon.

Enter The Dragon.jpg

Well I never expected that news but as a huge Bruce Lee fan (my middle name is Lee named after him) I was brought up on his movies, I’ve read countless books about the man and watched just as many documentaries. I love me a bit of Brucie so you’d think I’d be upset about a remake of one of my favorite films of his. I’m not.

Just as a quick aside. The Enter the Dragon remake is getting some backlash over the fact they have hired a white American to direct the film in David Leitch. Errrr, the original was directed by the white American Robert Clouse, produced by white Americans Fred Weintraub and Paul Heller and written by white American Micheal Allin. Worked then didn’t it? Point is, why does the colour of a person’s skin or their race matter? Shouldn’t it be about hiring the best person for the job regardless of their race?

Back to the main point…the talk of remaking Enter the Dragon got me thinking about a similar subject, the much troubled remake of The Crow.

Yes I know there will be a certain group of people who will instantly take a disliking to any talk of a remake of The Crow. But hey, I’m not one of them and this is my blog – so tough. You want to rant and rave against it, set up your own blog.

I honestly think that, if done right a remake of The Crow could be amazing. But before I offer my idea, a quick history on the numerous troubles in getting The Crow remade…okay so before my idea and before the troubled history – maybe a quick mention of exactly what The Crow is and why some people are against it.

The Source

The Crow Comic

Originally written in the form of a comic book series and published in 1989, The Crow was born from the bitterness and anger of writer/artist James O’Barr who lost his girlfriend at the hands of a drunk driver. The Crow is a bloody and violent revenge tale with a hell of a lot of heart and emotion. Telling the story of Eric and his girlfriend Shelly, who one night are attacked. Eric is put in hospital fighting for his life while Shelly is killed outright. Eric holds on to life while a mysterious crow tells him the let go. Eric eventually dies but is brought back by the crow. Eric now possess supernatural powers such as invulnerability which he uses to extract revenge on those that killed both him and Shelly.

Its a dark and moody story with a lot of rough edges and a little uneven in places for sure, but its also a brilliant and utterly enthralling story and well worth reading if you can find a copy.

The Movie

The Crow Eric

In 1994, a film adaption was released after the death of its star Brandon Lee who was accidentally shot on set while filming in 93. Director Alex Proyas was so upset by Lee’s death that he felt he couldn’t continue with the film despite the fact that Lee had already finished pretty much all of his work and his death occurred with only three days let of the film shoot. The film sat on the shelf for several months and it looked like it would never be released, until Linda Lee (Brandon’s mother) stepped in an urged Proyas to finish the film out of respect for her son.

The Crow was released in 94 and became a huge cult hit and made a star of Brandon Lee.

The Controversy

It is the death of Brandon Lee while making The Crow why many people feel it should never be remade. I’m not one of them. Look, I loved the movie back in the day – but quite honestly, it hasn’t really held up well. A film I once loved back in the 90s just feels very off after I read the comic books it was based on. The 94 film is a bastardised, diluted film that lacks so much of what made the source material so damn good. I don’t “hate” the film version at all and can quite happily sit down to watch it – but its just lacking in so many ways, it feels so weak after reading the comic books. And as controversial as it may seem, no film or character is bigger than any actor.

The Crow Eric 2

Getting upset over a remake of The Crow due to the death of Lee is like boycotting any and everything involving the character of The Joker due to the death of Heath Ledger. Times change, new ideas need to be explored and above everything else – no matter if The Crow remake eventually happens or not…the 94 film will always be there. Nothing any remake does or does not do can ever take anything away from the film Brandon Lee died for while making. If the remake does happen and whether its the best film ever made or a big piece of shit, the 94 film will still be the exact same film it was before. Nothing changes, so just calm down folks.

The Troubles

So the idea of remaking The Crow has been around for quite a while, as far back as 2008 in fact. Originally Blade director Stephen Norrington was in the main man for the job until he left the project and director Juan Carlos Fresnadillo of 28 Weeks Later fame stepped in around 2011. There were talks of having Bradley Cooper play the main role too as this early concept art shows.

Concept Art

The film was moving along nicely but a few legal matters between the production company of the remake, Relativity Media and creator of The Crow James O’Barr that had not been fully sorted out surfaced. This eventually put the project on hold and led to scheduling conflicts with Cooper who then had to drop out. Producers needed a new lead and looked at Mark Wahlberg, Channing Tatum, Ryan Gosling and James McAvoy as possible replacements. Around this time, director Fresnadillo also left the project. So they were back at square one.

This was when the then unknown Spanish director Francisco Javier Gutiérrez became attached. New actors were considered including Tom Hiddleston, Alexander Skarsgård, and finally, Luke Evans. The film even got to a point where Evans was officially announced to star and the remake was once more going ahead around 2015. Not too long after the announcement though and Evans dropped out to be replaced with Jack Huston…who also dropped out soon after being announced as lead actor. New actors were being suggested with both Nicholas Hoult and Jack O’Connell but director Gutiérrez eventually left. Yes, back at square one…again.

Jason Momoa and Corin Hardy

Enter English director Corin Hardy who relished the idea of remaking The Crow and began working on the film in 2015. However, Relativity Media who were set to produce the film filed for bankruptcy, so Hardy left. Still, Relativity Media carried on with the project despite their money troubles and Hardy unexpectedly returned to the film with Game of Thrones and Aquaman actor Jason Momoa signing to play the lead. It seemed a little strange that a studio filing for bankruptcy were still trying to get a big budget film  made and in 2016 Davis Films, Highland Film Group, and Electric Shadow banded together and bought the rights to the film from Relativity Media. Both Hardy and Momoa stayed on board and in 2017 Sony agreed to distribute the film. Things were looking good once more and the remake was going full steam ahead. Production was set to begin in early 2018 in Budapest. This was the furthest the remake had ever gotten. There were even start dates announced for filming…

Yet around May of this year and it all fell apart…again. Even though Sony announced an 11th of October, 2019 release date, both director Hardy and lead actor Momoa left the project. Which all brings us up to date with this decade long attempt to remake The Crow. Once more, the remake is back at square one. And its a damn shame too as it had been said that James O’Barr was fully on board with this remake and aimed to make it a much more faithful adaption of his original source material…which is exactly what I want to see…

My Idea

I fucking love the original The Crow comics and as I said earlier, I feel they are far more powerful and with more depth than the 94 film version which I think is massively diluted over its source material. I have a far simpler and I think much better idea for the remake than any of the attempts over the last ten years too. Just take the comic books and animate them.

The Crow Comic 2

Same art style, same characters, same plot. Use the comics as storyboards and bring the whole thing to life via animation. I’ll even allow some creative license with the material to a point. Much like Robert Rodriguez did when he made Sin City. Be about 90% faithful to the source, but still tweak things enough to allow the director to put their own stamp on it. Alter and switch some of the dialogue, tinker with colours in the stark black and white world – blood, etc. But still remain as true to the comics as you can. James O’Barr could be story and art director but give the main directing job to a great animator/director such as Brad Bird, Dorota Kobiela, Sylvain Chomet, Gil Kenan or how about giving one of the old guard a chance to return to their roots with Don Bluth or Tim Burton?

Holly fuck-balls. An adult based Tim Burton directed animated film closely based off The Crow comics. That has to be the best idea since someone said “I think I’ll put some Jack Daniels into this glass of Coke.”.

The Crow Comic 3

I’d love to see an adult, uber violent, bloody but still with all the heart and emotion animated attempt at The Crow and finally see one of the finest comic book series brought to life on film full of life. Make it happen Sony.

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Why Disney Sacking James Gunn Is Bullshit

So over the weekend, Disney decided to fire writer/director James Gunn from his duties on the up and coming Guardians of the Galaxy 3. This is after Gunn had already penned and helmed the first two films for Marvel who are owned by Disney which went on to become huge box office hits and an important piece of the growing Marvel Cinematic Universe. Gunn was fired in relation to a handful of Tweets he made with jokes about rape and paedophilia, now on the surface and given Disney’s strict “family friendly” persona that yes, sacking someone who would make such Tweets is understandable. On the surface. Walt Disney Studios’ Chairman had this to say on the matter…

“The offensive attitudes and statements discovered on James’ Twitter feed are indefensible and inconsistent with our studio’s values and we have severed our business relationship with him.”

Fuck off Disney as if you’ve never been offensive in  the past. Which brings me nicely to my main gripe. I have a few problems with the whole thing and Disney’s blatant hypocrisy over the whole affair. Yes Gunn made some questionable Tweets…some of which are a decade old. Are Disney really going to bring up the past of someone as a negative about who/what they are today? If so, then I feel there should be a balance and on the subject of being fair – lets look at Disney’s past…

What about their animated propaganda film, Education For Death? For those not in the know, this was an animated short showing the evolution of a Nazi soldier form birth to adulthood. Given the fact that it was strongly believed that Walt Disney was a Nazi supporter/sympathiser. Would it be acceptable to bring this past up too then Disney? You know, just to be fair. Just imagine what it would be like if Disney also had one of their most famous characters like Donald Duck dressed as a Nazi giving a photo of Hitler the Nazi salute or reading Mein Kampf…

Donald Duck NaziDonald Duck Mein Kampf

Oh yeah, that happened too in the cartoon Der Fuehrer’s Face. Funny though, Disney don’t seem to bring this slice of their past up all that often, as if it was something they no longer associate themselves with as they were different back then to who they are now. A bit like James Gunn and his Tweets. You can’t walk around Disney World and line up for a Nazi Donald Duck ride for example, nor will you find any Nazi Donald Duck merchandise.

Or what about the fact that Walt Disney himself refused to hire women to work as animators at the studio? Its true, Disney felt that “women do not do any of the creative work” and declared “that work is performed entirely by young men”. So if you were a talented animator and female back then…well fuck you. No penis, no job.

Disney Sexist Letter.jpg

Yeah it all a bit unfair to bring up the past as a punishment for someone today isn’t it? Yet still – there’s more. Song of the South a Disney film surrounded by infamy and a film that still has never seen a home release in the U.S. But why? Mainly due to its massive racist under and overtones. Now to be fair, Disney have never fully banned the film, they have released clips and even songs from the film, most famously the Oscar winning Zip-a-Dee-Doo-Dah for example. Plus there is the Splash Mountain ride at Disney theme parks that is inspired by the movie…none of the racist stuff made it into the ride though for some reason. Still, even after all these years, the film has never been given a home release in the U.S. despite several times over the years where Disney have said they fully intend to do just that, the most recent of which was back in 2010 by Disney creative director Dave Bossert who said that Disney intend to give the film a U.S. release but still that has not happened. Does it really take over eight years to get a film released for the home market?

There is a lot more to Disney’s rather checkered and questionable past and some of it can be a bit more recent than the 1930s and 40s when times were different. I mean I could bring up their refusal to put up warning signs about the population of alligators at Disney World in Florida as they believe these warnings would break the illusion and magic they strive for at the theme park. Well lets be fair, they now have these warnings in place, but only after the death of a two year old boy in 2016. Its just a shame it took the death of a child before Disney did anything about it though eh?

Aligator Warning

Or what about the working conditions at Disneyland Paris where so far two employees have committed suicide over their treatment. With one of them leaving the suicide note of “Je ne veux pas retourner chez Mickey” (I don’t want to work for Mickey any more). Expecting staff do work longer hours for minimum wage and numerous staff cuts despite the increasing visitor numbers?

Maybe I’m getting a little off track here, but my point is that Disney sacking James Gunn over Tweets made a decade ago is more then a little hypocritical given their own past and some of their questionable standards. Much like Disney, Gunn is not the same person he was a decade ago they have both changed. Surely if people can and have forgiven Disney for some of their questionable history, then Disney can do the same with James Gunn? He clearly feels remorse over his past humor.

“My words of nearly a decade ago were, at the time, totally failed and unfortunate efforts to be provocative.

I have regretted them for many years since – not just because they were stupid, not at all funny, wildly insensitive, and certainly not provocative like I had hoped, but also because they don’t reflect the person I am today or have been for some time.

Even these many years later, I take full responsibility for the way I conducted myself then. All I can do now, beyond my sincere and heartfelt regret, is to be the best human being I can be: accepting, understanding, committed to equality, and far more thoughtful about my public statements and my obligations to our public discourse. To everyone inside my industry and beyond, I again offer my deepest apologies. Love to all.”

If it really is Disney’s policy of sacking people who work for them over questionable jokes that person has made, then they’d have to fire pretty much any and everyone associated to the Disney company as everyone has made an off colour joke/comment in their lives.

Hey Disney, that fella that plays Tony Stark/Ironman in your movies – you may want to look into his past as you may find he has said and done some questionable things too, drugs, firearm offenses and the like…

But wait, I have another slice of hypocrisy for you. Disney have recently bought 21st Century Fox for $71.3 billion. That’s a big chunk of cash alright and Disney now own all the IPs and licences that 21st Century Fox owned, that includes the film rights of a certain other Marvel superhero…

Deadpool.jpg

Yup, Disney now own the Deadpool movies and if you’ve seen either of the two movies, then you know that they are hardly “family friendly” and really do not fit into the Disney mantra. But even more specifically, Deadpool 2‘s main villain is Firefist who was brought up in an orphanage and its made pretty clear that he was sexually abused there too…and there are several jokes about paedophilia within the film. The very same reason Disney have sacked James Gunn to begin with. The only difference is that Gunn’s comments are years old, Deadpool 2 is just over two months old. I’m still willing to bet that Deadpool 2 will see a home release and fully uncut with those paedophilia jokes in tact even though its now owned by Disney who clearly have a problem with such humor. The irony eh?

Moving on from Disney’s obvious hypocrisy, James Gunn was known as a comedy writer, he was known for his near the knuckle comments and jokes long before he was hired by Disney. So they must have already known what he was like beforehand right, they must have done their homework on the person they chose to head-up and be part of one of their biggest franchises? I mean, that would have been like Disney asking Richard Pyror to appear in a Disney film in the 70s/80s but not knowing he had a penchant for saying “nigga” beforehand. But now his past comments have been brought up…now they decide to sack him? Utter bullshit.

I don’t know James Gunn, never met the guy and for all I know he could be a complete prick. So my offering any kind of opinion on the man would be pretty pointless. But what about people who do know him, worked with him? His cast members from the Guardians of the Galaxy films as an example have spoken out on how much of a great guy he is and how wrong Disney are for sacking him. Actors like Dave Bautista

“I will have more to say but for right now all I will say is this.. is one of the most loving,caring,good natured people I have ever met. He’s gentle and kind and cares deeply for people and animals. He’s made mistakes. We all have. Im NOT ok with what’s happening to him”

Or Selma Blair

“@JamesGunn I thank you for your talent, your decency and your evolution as a man. You propped me up when I was in a scary place, and guided me towards the decent and right thing to do. You have shown strength of character more than most anyone I know. You understood.”

Because if people are punished despite changing, then what does that teach people about owning mistakes and evolving? This man is one of the good ones.”

There’s a long list of celebs echoing similar views and opinions, they all know Disney are in the wrong here.

James Gunn 2

A petition has been started to get James Gunn reinstated and back working on  the Guardians of the Galaxy sequel, and rightly so too. Disney should be offering Gunn an apology right about now while crawling back to him on their knees asking him to return. He has done nothing wrong. Do me a favor, sign the petition. Its currently smashing its target and even if Disney do not reverse their pathetic decision, at least it shows support for a man who has been wronged.

Why I Miss VHS Rental Stores

To paraphrase Madonna.

“We are living in a digital world. And I am a digital girl…or boy.”

Quite honestly, I think the digital age of media that we are living in is amazing. Any and everything we want/need at the click of a button and most of the time we never have to leave our nice, soft and comfy sofas. Then if we do need to leave the comforting warmth of our homes, we can just download media to our mobile devices to enjoy on the move. Movies, TV shows, music and games, we have everything we need for hours upon hours of entertainment. Just give me a beer (or seven), my smart TV/Xbox and I’m good for a few days – happy as a pig in…well you know.

The convenience of the digital age, the speed and sheer variety of things we can watch/play is astonishing. You’ve got yer Netflix, Amazon Prime, iTunes, Google Play and many others. All services that offer all the movies and so much more besides at the touch of a button. But I want to take you back to the dark ages, before digital media and to an age when we actually had to leave the house if we wanted to watch a film at home. The age of the VHS rental shops.

Blockbuster

Now, I’m from England and yes we had the likes of Blockbuster Video over here too, they were everywhere at one point. Blockbuster were the kings of VHS rentals, love em’ or hate em’, you can’t deny they were the best of the best until their inevitable downfall. But I don’t want to talk about a giant store like Blockbuster or their fall from grace, I want to cover those smaller, independent rental shops. Those tucked away, grubby, sticky floored, stale popcorn selling shops that us older generation went to before Blockbuster became king. I also want to try and paint a picture with words (and a few pictures) to show just how great these places were and try to explain just why I miss them so.

A nice little history lesson for those too young to remember or know the excitement of VHS rentals or even a trip down memory lane for those old enough to remember/care and who miss the whole rental experience as I do.

My Memories

My local VHS rental place was in Kings Norton, Birmingham – where I grew up in the 80s. It was just opposite The Navigation Inn on Pershore Road. Can’t remember what it was called, but they all had generic names like Bob’s Rentals or VHS Village, etc. They were never impressive places, often dully lit, stains on the carpet and had that weird/hard to place smell. They were grim places and yet, they were the highlight of the week at the same time.

VHS Store

Yeah, they looked like that, complete with carpet stains and dozens of movie posters plastered everywhere. The VHS rental visit would always be on a Friday night after school and this was something you looked forward to from Monday morning onward. Spending all week during break-times between classes chatting to your school friends about the films you watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you saw. Sometimes even during class if and when you got bored.

Those five days from Monday to Friday seemed to go on forever and ever. Then, Friday afternoon at 3:30 pm, the school bell would ring and it was the sweetest sound you’d hear all week. School was done and what lay in wait was two days of watching movies, just hours away and that weekly trip to Terry’s Tapes (or whatever it was called) was on the horizon. But first, homework, something to eat and tidy your room just to build that an-tici-pation. Once all the annoying time wasting stuff was out of the way sometime after 5 pm, it was VHS rental time.

VHS Village

As you’d make your way to the shop, you’d be thinking about the films you wanted to watch and remember the ones you and your friends were talking about at school over the last several days, looking forward to the posters you might see hanging in the window or stuck to the walls via Blu-Tack. Then before you knew it, you were there, standing outside the door of the shop and just like Father Merrin standing outside the MacNeil house, you’d stop, look at the windows and pause just staring at the shop in wonderment.

The Exorsict

After the pause, you’d eagerly push open the door while your eyes darted between the many posters on display and that smell would hit your nostrils. That stale, stagnant odour only independent VHS rental shops had and one I’ve not smelt for decades. It was a strange mix of body odour, the plastic of the VHS boxes, cigarette smoke (as people could still light up indoors back then), finished off with whatever the hell was staining the carpet. And trust me when I say that the distinct aroma was even worse during the summer. Then you stepped inside and you were finally there. The annoyances and frustrations of a hard week at school just melted away – had a painful and laborious double science class on Wednesday? Fugetaboutit. You were standing right in the middle of your own personal nirvana and loving every single second of it.

Four of your five senses kicked into overdrive. Your sight was almost blinded by the images on the posters and the rows upon rows of VHS boxes. Your hearing bombarded with the sounds of films and trailers being played on the 12 inch TV resting on the shop counter. Your smell took in every last whiff of that horrible, yet familiar odour. While your touch was put into practice as you held and caressed the VHS cases as you browsed the impressive collection. Your fifth sense, taste, would just have to wait until later when you bought some of that out of date Toffee Butterkist sitting in a wire basket/shelf near the counter as no one ever bothered checked the use by date.

Merrily making your way through the labyrinthine rows of VHS tapes and heading straight to the horror section that was always at the back of the shop, away from the front door and windows. Not necessarily because you wanted to rent a horror film (though you mainly did), but because you knew that the very top row of the highest shelf of the horror section was where the shop owner always kept the ‘discrete’ porn section (we didn’t hide our VHS porn behind a curtain in England). You’d intensely look at the wide array of horror film covers as you walked back and forth along the horror section pretending to be really, really interested in Hellraiser, Demons, Dawn Of The Dead, etc –  but then quickly flit your gaze upwards toward that top shelf in a vein attempt to catch a glimpse of some Russ Meyer movie cover, maybe a little side boob or censored nipple as this was the equivalent of hardcore porn of today to a 14 year old in the 1980s.

ELECTRIC BLUE VHS

Your hands were at the point of breaking into a clammy sweat as you picked up the numerous empty VHS boxes and your eyes soaked up in every little detail of the cover art. Awesome box art like; The TerminatorMad MaxHighlanderBig Trouble in Little China as well as numerous others – images that still bring a smile to your face even today. You’d flip the empty box over and read the synopsis, see who was in the film and look at the tiny screen caps as you thought about renting the tape out. But even though you were browsing…you already knew what films you wanted rent. One of them was always the holy grail of VHS rentals in the 80s – Back to the Future. Even though you saw it seven times at the cinema, you wanted to watch it again at home, but every time you tried to rent it, all copies were already out as the shop only had two tapes and the waiting list was around seven to eight weeks. Still, you’d always ask anyway in case someone brought it back early...they never did.

Back To The Future VHS

So you’d pick your three or four films for the weekend, one of which would probably be Raiders of the Lost Ark for the eighth time that year (and it was only March). Taking your arm-full of empty boxes to the counter and picking up a couple of bags of that several months out of date Toffee Butterkist too, the shop owner would ask for your membership card despite the fact you’ve been going in every Friday night like clockwork for the last five years and he knows you by name and your address better than you do. As the server frantically searched the wall of VHS tapes behind the counter for your chosen rentals, you would glace over at that 12 inch TV most probably showing a trailer for Death Wish 3 or maybe Breakin‘ 2Electric Boogaloo. That’s when you’d notice the ex-rental basket where older VHS tapes were being sold off cheap so you could own them yourself. I still remember buying the Making Michael Jackson’s Thriller tape for 75p…bargain.

If you were lucky, if you were a regular and if the owner liked you, then they may let you rent one for free or even better…the behind the counter stuff, the banned or fully uncut versions of The Evil Dead or The Exorcist that were not readily availableYou see, in the 80s here in England, the British Board of Film Classification (BBFC) went a little mad and created the infamous video nasty list. Where a lot of (mainly) horror films were either cut to shreds and censored to the point of being unwatchable or they were just outright banned. So getting to see these films in tact in the 80s was an even more sought after holly grail than a VHS copy of Back to the Future. You didn’t know how he got these films and didn’t care either. All I knew and cared about was that I got to see a fully uncut version of The Evil Dead in 1984, which (if you know anything about the infamy this film had in England at the time) was simply impossible. Still, ask no questions, tell no lies. There were no real age-checks back then, no ID required as long as you were not renting out porn, everything else was fair game if you had the membership card. Yeah blood soaked violence, horror and swearing were okay but nudity and sex? That was a major taboo. You may have been only fourteen years old but if you wanted to rent out John Carpenter’s The Thing…okay. I quite honestly think I saw more horror films as an underage teenager in the 80s via my local VHS store than when I was legally allowed to and after becoming an adult.

Then after paying for your rentals, the guy behind the counter would thrust your chosen VHS tapes into a plastic bag with that not at its best Butterkist and hand it to you along with your by now very used, slightly torn and curled at the edges membership card. Then you’d step out of that odorous, stuffy VHS rental shop into the fresh air which provided an instant hit like no other legal high could manage, that smell of freshness that indicated it was almost movie time.

VHS Player.jpg

Hurrying home and thrusting your rented VHS tapes into that monster of a top-loader player (about the size of 4 Xbox One consoles combined…and I don’t mean the slim version). The loud mechanisms and servo motors would whirl into action as the top loading tape-tray eagerly swallowed the VHS tape and digested it. You’d have to adjust the tracking (look it up), sit through direct to VHS trailers of so bad they’re good action films that most probably starred Chuck Norris and were produced by Cannon Films. Movies that most people have long forgotten about or secretly still admire to this day, those guilty pleasures all us VHS enthusiasts love to watch but don’t tell anyone about, like the Missing In Action trilogy. Then the main event began, the film(s) you have waited all week to watch. You rented out Best Defense only because Eddie Murphy was on the cover and he was the big comedy star of the 80s. Yeah the film was terrible…but you still enjoyed it, not because of the film itself but because of the entire experience of choosing the film previously and an experience you couldn’t wait to repeat the following weekend.

Then after the weekend of watching films. One of which was probably Raiders of the Lost Ark…again, while eating that stale Toffee Butterkist. You’d go back to school on Monday morning to tell your friends about the films you’d watched over the weekend, swapping stories, film suggestions, talking about the trailers you watched, etc and restart the whole cycle once more as that five day countdown to Friday and 3:30 pm began again.


 

That, all of that is what I miss about VHS rentals. Yes, I do love and very much appreciate the digital age…but we have lot something very special to make way for it. We have pretty much any movie at the touch of a button now, we don’t have to worry about something not being in stock as its always going to be there and with that, we have lost the anticipation and excitement of getting your hands on the film you really want to watch. We no longer get to explore cover art, flip the box over, read the synopsis and soak up those movie stills, etc. We now just click on download/stream and instantly have whatever we want. Convenient? Yes. As enjoyable? Not at all.

RIP VHS

R.I.P VHS rental stores. I for one miss you.

 

From Page To Screen: Die Hard

Today is the 15th of July, my birthday. But despite marking me getting older, this day is important for another reason too. Thirty years ago today and Die Hard was given its official cinematic release. Admittedly, it had its premier on the 12th but it was given a public release on the 15th of July 1988. So yippee ki-yay mother fuckers – Die Hard is thirty years old today.

Die Hard 30th

I have been doing a few Die Hard related articles through the year to celebrate three decades of arguably the greatest action/thriller movie ever from quick nods and references to dedicated articles for the film itself (with more to come later). Today I’m going to try my hand at something different and an idea I have wanted to do for a while now – take a look at the novel that inspired the film and bring up some of the differences. This isn’t to compare the two mediums at all or try to work out which one is “better”, I love both the book and movie for different reasons. No, I just aim to go through the two and bring up the changes (big and small) made from page to film. I have a fair few of these I’d like to do in the future but I think to celebrate 30 years of one of the greatest action/thrillers ever, that Die Hard is a fantastic place to begin this (hopefully) new feature.

So I guess I’d better crack on. But before I do, I will offer my usual SPOILERS warning for both the movie and book from this point on. If you have never read the book, then I strongly suggest you do as it is awesome and offers quite a few surprises even if you know the film inside out.

Die Hard Book.jpg

Yup that is me holding my very own copy of Die Hard the novel…except it wasn’t originally called Die Hard. What I have is a reprint released after the success of the film. Which brings us to the first notable difference. The title. The novel was originally released in 1979 by author Roderick Thorp and was called Nothing Lasts Forever (sounds like a James Bond flick to me) and NLF was even a sequel to Thorp’s own novel, The Detective from 1966.

In DH, the main character played by Bruce Willis is called John McClane. In the book though he is called Joseph Leland. There are other differences to the characters than just their names too. John is a young-ish but experienced New York cop with a witty almost sarcastic attitude (“No fucking shit lady, do I sound like I’m ordering a pizza!”) and problems with authority figures. Joseph however is an older, more grizzled and weary character and now retired from the police force. His attitude seemingly comes from his many years as a cop, some of which are from the previous book along with his time serving as a fighter pilot during World War II. This man has seen his fair share of death already and is vastly different to the upbeat and wisecracking John McClane from the flick.

John McClane

When we first meet John in the film, he is on a plane from New York and just landed in L.A. on his way to meet his estranged wife, Holly at a Christmas party held at her work place of Nakatomi Plaza. Joseph’s introduction is a little different – though the scenario is similar. We meet him in the book as he rides in a taxi on his way to the airport to catch a plane to L.A. There’s some issues with traffic and Joseph brandishes his gun – showing his short temper and bitter anger very early on. He is flying to L.A. to meet up with Stephanie Gennaro, his only child who works for the Klaxon Oil company to celebrate the closing of a huge multi-million dollar deal on Christmas Eve. The relationship between father and daughter has been strained since the death of Joseph’s wife (Stephanie’s mother) eight years previously.

At the building in DH, John quickly scopes the place out before meeting Harry Ellis, the sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine, who has eyes for Holly – John doesn’t much like him. This is similar in the book too as Joseph does pretty much the same, checking out the Klaxon building on his arrival. He also gets to meet Harry Ellis who is also a sleazy executive with a penchant for cocaine. However, in NLF Harry is actually sleeping with Stephanie which Joseph instantly takes a disliking to. DH also features Joseph Takagi, Holly’s boss and head executive of Nakatomi. A character John seems to like during their brief introduction. NLF also has a boss character called Mr. Rivers as the president of Klaxon Oil. Its made pretty clear in the book that Joseph really doesn’t like Rivers at all and sees him as trouble and a bad influence for his daughter and thinks she is becoming just like these coke snorting assholes she is working with. There is the very expensive watch in both too. In DH, its a gift to Holly from her boss for helping to close a big deal. In NLF, the watch was bought buy Stephanie herself and this tiny detail is important, later…

Ellis

The film and book pretty much follow the exact same plot form this point onward. In DH, John is separated from the party as he cleans himself up after his flight. He’s making fists with his toes as the terrorists strike and John hears gunfire. As all hell breaks loose, John manages to slip away from the main action avoiding being rounded up with the other hostages, barefoot and with only his service pistol for backup. Joseph in NLF pretty much does the exact same thing. Its here in the flick when we get to meet one of the greatest cinematic villains ever. Hans Gruber, played flawlessly by the great Alan Rickman. Hans is slick, charismatic, well educated and highly intelligent. In NLF, the main villain is Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber. They are pretty similar in their personalities but I guess the main difference between Hans and Anton is their goal. In DH, Hans uses a facade of a terrorist attack to steal $640 million in bearer bonds from the vaults of Nakatomi Plaza. But in NLF, there is no facade. Anton and his cohorts are real terrorists and are there to take on Klaxon Oil over the very deal Stephanie and her colleagues are celebrating. You see, Klaxon Oil have been dealing with Chile’s junta and Anton plans to steal documents that he will use to publicly expose Klaxon Oil for all their corruption.

Nakatomi Plaza.jpg

Once the action kicks into gear, there aren’t too many notable differences. In fact some of the iconic action sequences from DH are lifted verbatim from NLF.  The killing of the first terrorist is the same including the broken neck along with the undignified trip in an elevator while wearing the “Now I have a machine gun” sweatshirt. Only in the book the message reads “Now we have a machine gun”. Its a subtle change for sure, but its also one worth mentioning as it shows Joseph’s line of thinking and how he is playing mind games with the terrorists by tricking them into thinking there is more than one of him running around the building. The elevator shaft escape while being hunted down, getting trapped in the air ducts, etc. All in both the movie and the book. As are the throwing a dead terrorist out of the building to get the attention of the police, strapping C-4 to a chair and using it to stop the terrorists from killing the police all from the book. Think of a major action sequence in the film and you’ll find it on the page.

There is even a Sergeant Al Powell who John/Joseph communicates with throughout the story. But where Al in the movie is a older, experienced cop – in the book he’s in his early 20s and with much less experience under his belt. Yet they both serve the same purpose in both the film and book and this it to keep John/Joseph as clam and sane as they can through the whole ordeal. There’s also a Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson in both the picture and the novel and yes, they are both complete assholes too who think of John/Joseph as doing more harm than good. I guess its also worth noting that earlier in the book as he was flying to L.A., Joseph made friends with a stewardess named Kathi who he manages to talk to several times through the book.

Powell

More of the same with John/Joseph listening in and feeling helpless as Hans/Anton kills Harry Ellis over the matter of getting his detonators back. Only the book makes it much more clear that Joseph feels responsible for the death although there was nothing he could’ve done. Yes even the fire-hose/exploding roof jump escape is in both the movie and book. So is the psychical damage done to John/Joseph as they both get beaten and bloody throughout – though in my opinion, I feel the book does a far better job of detailing and getting across just how much physical abuse Joseph goes through in the novel over John in the film. Some of the descriptions in the novel vastly outweigh anything John suffers in the film.

A big difference between film and the book is that the novel is told pretty much always from the point of view of Joseph Leland. In the film we get to see several scenes that follow and detail what Hans and the boys are up to, what the police are doing while John runs around Nakatomi Plaza. The book doesn’t really do any of that and we only learn what the terrorists are doing if and when Joseph sees or hears it. There are also times when Joseph thinks back to his World War II days and some of the horrors he witnessed that shaped him to be the troubled and and bitter but tough retired cop he now is. Overall, Joseph is given a much more detailed backstory in the book over John in the film.

Now for the ending and once more, I will issue another SPOILER warning here as the books ending is similar but also very different to the movie. Its well worth experiencing as a first time reader rather than have it ruined for you here. Read on at your own peril.

Hans Fall

DH has one of the most iconic and satisfying endings in action cinema. The way John’s quick thinking with some seasonal sellotape and only two rounds of ammo is a joy to watch. The image of Hans falling backward out of the window while still holding the watch enveloped wrist of Holly, slowly pulling her to her possible death – only for John to save his wife at the last second by unfastening the watch. The ending of NLF is similar as Joseph finds himself is much the same situation. Yes he has his gun taped to his back to as he faces Anton “Little Tony The Red” Gruber who is using Joseph’s daughter, Stephanie as human shield.

Things don’t exactly go the same way though for Joseph in the book as they did for John in the movie. Anton manages to shoot Stephanie in the gut just as Joseph empties his gun into Anton. As he falls out of the window, Anton manages to grab Stephanie’s watch…you know the one she bought for herself to celebrate the big deal Klaxon Oil signed off on and the very reason Anton and his cohorts turned up at the Christmas party to begin with. Anton begins to fall to his inevitable death dragging Joseph’s only child, Stephanie with him and they both fall from the Klaxon Oil building before Joseph can react. Yes, they kill off the girl and its pretty shocking too knowing the ending to DH. Joseph snaps and hunts down the rest of the terrorists, he finds an unarmed female member of Anton’s group who is trying to surrender and kills her in cold blood by shooting her in the head out of anger. Its pretty brutal stuff.

Joseph then discovers some corporate documents that detail everything Klaxon Oil had been doing including arms deals with the Chilean junta. Illegal deals that Stephanie was fully compliant with. This is why the little detail of who bought the watch is very important. In DH, the watch is a gift to Holly from her boss to celebrate her helping to close a big deal. In NLF though is was Stephanie who bought the watch for herself to celebrate closing a shady deal between Klaxon and the Chilean junta, shady and illegal deals she was directly involved in and the very reason Anton launched the terrorist attack to begin with. Its this point in the book when it hits you that the terrorists were the good guys and Stephanie’s death via her own greed of the watch is pretty damn justified. If she hand’t gotten involved in all the illegal activity at Klaxon Oil, if she hadn’t bought that watch – then she would’ve lived.

Of course there is still the little stinger at the very end that needs looking at. In DH, John and Holly get out of the building and our hero sees Al Powell for the first time after spending a big chunk of the movie talking to him via a walkie-talkie. They share that look of respect and admiration without a word spoken now all the terrorists are dead. But then Karl, a previously believed dead terrorist appears, bloody and beaten. He aims a gun squarely at the unarmed John. Al opens fire killing Karl where he stands. John and Holly drive off into the sunrise as the credits roll while Vaughn Monroe belts out “Let It Snow! Let It Snow! Let It Snow!” Classic.

Karl

That stinger is in the book too, only it plays out a little differently. Joseph emerges from the Klaxon building, he’s tired, bloody and now his only child is dead – he’s a completely broken man lost in his own madness and anger. Karl appears just as he does in the film, only he sprays the gathered crowd outside the building with automatic gunfire killing plenty of people, mainly reporters who have surrounded Joseph trying to get an interview. People die…lots of people as Karl tries to shoot Joseph. He does manage to shoot our hero in the leg and would have finished the job too but for a rather shocking moment where Al Powell grabs hold of Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson and forces him in the line of fire and Dwayne is mortally shot…Al kills Dwayne, yeah he was an asshole but still, fucking hell! Al then kills Karl by shooting him in the head. Joseph is taken away in an ambulance as he lies an the gurney a broken man who has lost everything. The end.


Die Hard Vent.jpg

So there you have it some (not all) of the differences between Die Hard and the novel it is based on, Nothing Lasts Forever. As I said at the start, I haven’t written this to decide which is best –  I love them both but for very different reasons. Like most, I saw the flick before I read the book and while they are both very similar in the basic plot, there are still many changes between the two that I feel make both investing some time in.

I enjoy Die Hard for its everyday guy against the odds story. The character of John McClane is an utterly charming and engrossing one. The ending is rousing and uplifting. Then there is Nothing Lasts Forever. Which I see as the darker, negative mirror image of Die Hard. Joseph Leland is a cantankerous, rougher and older character. Killing off his daughter is a ballsy move but one that pays off when you realise she is really one of the bad guys through the illegal deals of the Klaxon Oil company she works for. The realisation that the terrorists are really the good guys is a brilliant twist and when you think about it, if Joseph had done nothing and was taken away with the rest of the hostages…then no one would’ve died including his daughter and the dodgy, illegal deals that Klaxon were involved in would have been revealed. Really, Joseph fucked everything up…he’s the bad guy.

I really enjoyed looking at these differences between book and movie and will do more in the future. Now where did I put my The Crow graphic novel?

I Have A Strange Feeling Of Déjà Vu

Have you ever watched a film and thought you’d seen it before even though it’s your first time seeing it?

Yeah its a strange question for sure, but I have just had that feeling. I only recently watched Ready Player One and all through the film, something was niggling away at the back of my head. The overload of 80s nostalgia and video game references were not enough to distract me from the fact the overall plot was similar to another film. A film where five kids enter a world of wonder and amusement, a world that co-exists along with the real world…”a world of pure imagination” one could say.

Ready Player One.jpg

So quick synopsis for Ready Player One. A poor and underprivileged kid enters a contest to out-right win an entire multi-million dollar company. Along the way he meets four other kids all wanting the same prize. The five meet in a world called The Oasis, a world like no other crafted by an eccentric individual who is a genius video game programmer that creates tests for those who enter. Solve/survive the tests and inherit the whole company.

Does any of this sound familiar? What if instead of a computer generated world it was a chocolate factory and instead the eccentric individual being a computer genius he was a confectionery one? Well you’d have Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now I’m not saying the are the exact same film…but they are strikingly similar in various ways. Both films feature a poverty stricken main character, both are about escapism, both have an isolated and eccentric genius behind the company, both films revolve around testing the protagonist for them to claim their prize and so on.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

You know what, I have more too…

The Lego Movie

This film was much more fun that I thought it would be. A kids film adults can enjoy just as much if not more so.

The LEGO Movie

The plot is about a loner main character who meets a mysterious girl dressed in black. This girl introduces our hero to all sorts of surprising secrets including a whole other world our hero is not fully aware of. He gets questioned by the authorities, but the hero is rescued by the girl in black and he is then introduced to a male character who yaks on about some kind of a prophecy. As it turns out, the hero character is destined to be “The One” from the prophecy. The obligatory training begins to ready the chosen one for his unavoidable destiny. During an action scene where it turns out the hero has been tracked, the authorities turn up and take hostages. The hero comes up with a plan to save the hostages that are held in a skyscraper. The hostages are being tortured via some kind of brain thing to extract information from them. Near the end, the hero ‘dies’ only he’s not really dead and comes back stronger than before and takes on the bad guys to win fulling the prophecy after which the hero and girl in black fall in love.

The MAtrix

Cracking flick, but remove the kid friendly angle and aim it toward a more adult audience and well, you have The Matrix. Yes, The Lego Movie is a more kid friendly take on The Matrix.

The Terminator

One of the finest Sci-Fi films ever made. The right blend of action, thriller and even horror…yes horror.

The Terminator

This film tells the tale of an unaware female being stalked by a killer who is not all he appears to be. But before we get to that, the killer steals someone’s clothing before stealing a car and heading into town to find his victim. The killer stops off at a store to stock up on weapons. The female lead is helped along the way by a male character who is mainly there for exposition while wearing a trench-coat. Our female lead has a friend who suggests the lead needs to live a little and let her hair down and strangely enough this friend is killed off pretty quickly. The trench-coat wearing male tries telling the cops all about what is going on but they don’t believe his story.  Eventually, the killer discovers where the girl is and the stalking continues. It all builds to a showdown in a building where the trench-coat wearing dude seems to kill the killer…only for the killer to not really be dead.

Halloween

So lets just ignore the whole time traveling details of The Terminator for a second and you have a slasher horror film here, one we have seen before. Its Halloween isn’t it? The Terminator is a Sci-Fi spin on John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Interstellar

One of Christopher Nolan’s better pictures and shows what he can really do when he just copies another film.

Interstellar

So this one takes place in the future (from when the film was made) and is about a discovery of a big black thing in space. A board of suits get together and decide the big black thing needs investigating. So a team of astronauts are sent up into space to research and learn what this big black thing really is. The main character starts to feel homesick and tends to stay up late missing his family. The ship they are on has a super advanced A.I computer. Our main guy decides to get close to the big black thing which opens some kind of portal our hero enters. On the other side, he finds himself in a strange room looking at himself at another point in time. He eventually finds a way out that leads him to floating around in space.

2001 A Space Odyssey

So what we have here is a take on another Sci-Fi classic. A more lavish and emotional story I admit but still pretty much the same film as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

This sequel to the smash hit original owes quite a lot to a certain other monster movie.

Jurassic PArk 2

A team of experts head out to a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere to document the life found there. This island is inhabited by numerous vicious creatures and the experts end up trapped on said island where they soon find themselves having to fight for their lives. Numerous chases and action sequences ensue but eventually they capture one of the bigger animals found on the island which is then transported via boat to a major American city. The enraged creature manages to escape and run amok around the city causing great fear and destruction along the way.

King Kong

The only thing that is missing here is the weird love story between a giant monster and female lead, cos what you have here is King Kong (any version).

Jurassic Park

Oh I’m not done with those damn dinosaurs yet, even the original film was not that original.

Jurassic Park

So here we have the basic concept of taking a theme park to a whole new level. A hugely successful company open an all new theme park with the major attraction allowing people to experience a time long lost in history they never otherwise would get the chance to visit and live through. Only things do not go according to plan as the main attractions turn on the visitors and the very people who created them. People die as the very things created to entertain turn to murder and the humans are left fighting to survive and escape the park that has gone haywire.

Westworld

So this one kind of gets a free pass seeing as the two movies were both written by the same person, Michael Crichton. But Jurassic Park is an updated version of Westworld.

Independence Day

Yeah I know its cheesy but I really enjoy this flick…the sequel, not so much.

Independence Day

Aliens come from somewhere (maybe Mars?) and strategically place themselves all over the planet. Have they come in peace? Well no as they then destroy famous monuments and buildings along with thousands upon thousands of lives. We Earthlings put up a bit of a fight but it soon becomes clear that these aliens are far to advanced and powerful, the planet is doomed…that is until the aliens become infected with a (computer) virus. They begin to die out and Earth is saved.

The War of the Worlds

I know invading aliens is hardly an original idea but how they were taken out with a virus? H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was clearly the inspiration behind this one.


 

Have you ever watched a film and thought you’ve seen it before even though it’s your first time seeing it?

Yeah its a strange question for sure, but I have just had that feeling. I only recently watched Ready Player One and all through the film, something was niggling away at the back of my head. The overload of 80s nostalgia and video game references were not enough to distract me from the fact the overall plot was similar to another film. A film where five kids enter a world of wonder and amusement, a world that co-exists along with the real world…”a world of pure imagination” one could say.

Ready Player One.jpg

So quick synopsis for Ready Player One. A poor and underprivileged kid enters a contest to out-right win an entire multi-million dollar company. Along the way he meets four other kids all wanting the same prize. The five meet in a world called The Oasis, a world like no other crafted by an eccentric individual who is a genius video game programmer that creates tests for those who enter. Solve/survive the tests and inherit the whole company.

Does any of this sound familiar? What if instead of a computer generated world it was a chocolate factory and instead the eccentric individual being a computer genius he was a confectionery one? Well you’d have Charlie/Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory. Now I’m not saying the are the exact same film…but they are strikingly similar in various ways. Both films feature a poverty stricken main character, both are about escapism, both have an isolated and eccentric genius behind the company, both films revolve around testing the protagonist for them to claim their prize and so on.

Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory

You know what, I have more too…

The Lego Movie

This film was much more fun that I thought it would be. A kids film adults can enjoy just as much if not more so.

The LEGO Movie

The plot is about a loner main character who meets a mysterious girl dressed in black. This girl introduces our hero to all sorts of surprising secrets including a whole other world our hero is not fully aware of. He gets questioned by the authorities, but the hero is rescued by the girl in black and he is then introduced to a male character who yaks on about some kind of a prophecy. As it turns out, the hero character is destined to be “The One” from the prophecy. The obligatory training begins to ready the chosen one for his unavoidable destiny. During an action scene where it turns out the hero has been tracked, the authorities turn up and take hostages. The hero comes up with a plan to save the hostages that are held in a skyscraper. The hostages are being tortured via some kind of brain thing to extract information from them. Near the end, the hero ‘dies’ only he’s not really dead and comes back stronger than before and takes on the bad guys to win fulling the prophecy after which the hero and girl in black fall in love.

The MAtrix

Cracking flick, but remove the kid friendly angle and aim it toward a more adult audience and well, you have The Matrix. Yes, The Lego Movie is a more kid friendly take on The Matrix.

The Terminator

One of the finest Sci-Fi films ever made. The right blend of action, thriller and even horror…yes horror.

The Terminator

This film tells the tale of an unaware female being stalked by a killer who is not all he appears to be. But before we get to that, the killer steals someone’s clothing before stealing a car and heading into town to find his victim. The killer stops off at a store to stock up on weapons. The female lead is helped along the way by a male character who is mainly there for exposition while wearing a trench-coat. Our female lead has a friend who suggests the lead needs to live a little and let her hair down and strangely enough this friend is killed off pretty quickly. The trench-coat wearing male tries telling the cops all about what is going on but they don’t believe his story.  Eventually, the killer discovers where the girl is and the stalking continues. It all builds to a showdown in a building where the trench-coat wearing dude seems to kill the killer…only for the killer to not really be dead.

Halloween

So lets just ignore the whole time traveling details of The Terminator for a second and you have a slasher horror film here, one we have seen before. Its Halloween isn’t it? The Terminator is a Sci-Fi spin on John Carpenter’s Halloween.

Interstellar

One of Christopher Nolan’s better pictures and shows what he can really do when he just copies another film.

Interstellar

So this one takes place in the future (from when the film was made) and is about a discovery of a big black thing in space. A board of suits get together and decide the big black thing needs investigating. So a team of astronauts are sent up into space to research and learn what this big black thing really is. The main character starts to feel homesick and tends to stay up late missing his family. The ship they are on has a super advanced A.I computer. Our main guy decides to get close to the big black thing which opens some kind of portal our hero enters. On the other side, he finds himself in a strange room looking at himself at another point in time. He eventually finds a way out that leads him to floating around in space.

2001 A Space Odyssey

So what we have here is a take on another Sci-Fi classic. A more lavish and emotional story I admit but still pretty much the same film as 2001: A Space Odyssey.

The Lost World: Jurassic Park

This sequel to the smash hit original owes quite a lot to a certain other monster movie.

Jurassic PArk 2

A team of experts head out to a mysterious island in the middle of nowhere to document the life found there. This island is inhabited by numerous vicious creatures and the experts end up trapped on said island where they soon find themselves having to fight for their lives. Numerous chases and action sequences ensue but eventually they capture one of the bigger animals found on the island which is then transported via boat to a major American city. The enraged creature manages to escape and run amok around the city causing great fear and destruction along the way.

King Kong

The only thing that is missing here is the weird love story between a giant monster and female lead, cos what you have here is King Kong (any version).

Jurassic Park

Oh I’m not done with those damn dinosaurs yet, even the original film was not that original.

Jurassic Park

So here we have the basic concept of taking a theme park to a whole new level. A hugely successful company open an all new theme park with the major attraction allowing people to experience a time long lost in history they never otherwise would get the chance to visit and live through. Only things do not go according to plan as the main attractions turn on the visitors and the very people who created them. People die as the very things created to entertain turn to murder and the humans are left fighting to survive and escape the park that has gone haywire.

Westworld

So this one kind of gets a free pass seeing as the two movies were both written by the same person, Michael Crichton. But Jurassic Park is an updated version of Westworld.

Independence Day

Yeah I know its cheesy but I really enjoy this flick…the sequel, not so much.

Independence Day

Aliens come from somewhere (maybe Mars?) and strategically place themselves all over the planet. Have they come in peace? Well no as they then destroy famous monuments and buildings along with thousands upon thousands of lives. We Earthlings put up a bit of a fight but it soon becomes clear that these aliens are far to advanced and powerful, the planet is doomed…that is until the aliens become infected with a (computer) virus. They begin to die out and Earth is saved.

The War of the Worlds

I know invading aliens is hardly an original idea but how they were taken out with a virus? H. G. Wells’ The War of the Worlds was clearly the inspiration behind this one.

Killing Off A Superhero, Why Bother?

Before I even get into this one – there will be major SPOILERS for Avengers: Infinity War (and others) so If you’ve not seen it yet then stop reading now. Go watch the flick and then come back and read my rant…you have been warned.

Infinty War.jpg

Killing off a much loved character is always a gamble and when it comes to superheros, that gamble is tenfold. Avengers: Infinity War kills off a lot of characters…a lot. But before I get to that, I want to take a look at a certain other superhero death to put the point across as to why that superhero deaths are a lack of surprise.

Batman v Superman logo

Yes, I’m going to got into the deep, dark and depressing depths of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice. Such a fucking awful flick in which they kill off Superman at the end…except they really don’t. This whole thing was just such a cop out and pretty much anyone who saw it came out angry even if they enjoyed the film. The main reason for this is first, there is no way they would kill off Superman after only his second appearance and you feel as if the movie studio think you are stupid. Seriously, just forgetting the little but obvious hint at the end of the film that he wasn’t really dead – did anyone seriously believe they would kill off Superman after only two films? The shock does not work when its painfully obvious there is no shock there. Secondly and most importantly, they had not earned the right to kill off Superman. In order for a character’s death to mean something and resonate with the viewer you have to allow the audience to get to know the character first and with Superman that didn’t work because it was only the second film in the franchise.

You want to know how you kill off a popular superhero in a movie and have it mean something, have the people behind the death earn the right to kill a character off?

Logan Poster

Why it worked with Wolverine and not Superman is simply because the audience got to know and love the character over several years and movies. Seventeen years and nine movies of Hugh Jackman playing the same character gave us the viewer a chance to enjoy him and it really did hit hard when he was killed off in Logan. They earned the right to kill him off unlike Superman. I came out of Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice laughing at how bad it was, not just the overall film but just the hackneyed and unsurprising way they killed Superman off that left a terrible taste in my mouth. I came out of Logan with a huge lump in my throat, feeling emotionally drained and yet strangely satisfied. It felt right.

This whole thing brings me to Avengers: Infinity War. As I said, lots of characters die in this one and most of them suffer from what I’m now calling “The Superman Syndrome”. Before the film’s release, a lot of people thought that either Captain America or Iron Man would be the ones to bite the bullet and yet they were some of the few to survive. I admit, its an interesting twist on the part of the film to not do what the fans were expecting. But by doing this, the film also suffers from The Superman Syndrome. If they won’t kill off the two main long running characters, it pretty much only leaves them with the newer ones, the ones we haven’t yet had chance to form the same bond with.

Infinity War Spider-Man

Pretty much the big death in the movie that people are talking about is Spider-Man…yes Spider-Man dies. Except just as with Superman from Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice…we all know he wont be dead for long. We know this for two very good reasons. First, he died via Thanos’ clicky finger dissolving super-death move and every character who died that way will be back in the second part of the film (yes Avengers: Infinity War is a two parter). We already saw Thanos turn back time thanks to the Infinity Stones/Gauntlet during the whole Vision scene, plus Captain Marvel will be in the second part and she can and most probably will time travel (with the help of Ant-Man), then there is the whole Soul Stone thing – these little factors all add up to the fallen being brought back, we may not know exactly how yet…but we all know they are coming back.

EDIT: The Russo brothers have recently confirmed that Gamora is still alive trapped in the Soul stone. So her ‘permanent death’ is a moot point too.

Secondly there are more Spider-Man films planned. In fact a lot of the characters who die in that dissolving thingy-bob have future films planned in the MCU. Kind of ruins the whole shock factor when we know what they have planned eh? Just as with Superman’s ‘death’ in Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice – a movie that sets up the Justice League flick which everyone knew Superman would be part of, you can’t kill off Spider-Man and except people to believe it really is the end for the character. They also killed off Black Panther shortly after his solo flick that was a huge success and critically acclaimed, of course he’s not really dead. You’re fooling no one Marvel and the shock/surprise just does not work.

I’m not taking anything away from the Spider-Man death scene itself as the acting was great. Both Tom Holland and Robert Downey Jr were fantastic in it. Just before I move on, Loki dies, Heimdall dies, Vision dies, Spider-Man dies…all played by British actors. Does Marvel have something against British actors? Back to the point, yeah the acting was brilliant but we know Spider-Man will be back and that takes a huge chunk away from the emotion of the scene. Compare this to the killing off of Wolverine in Logan – We knew it was the last film, we knew that Hugh Jackman wanted to retire the character and even though we all knew he would die at the end…it still hit us hard, we were still gobsmacked as James Howlett breathed his last and anyone who had watched the character grow though the films for almost twenty years felt something as he died. You just can not get that by killing off a massively popular character after only a handful of appearances.

They even kill off Nick Fury in the after credit scene, one of the originals and a death that really could’ve meant something…except he dies via Thanos’ clicky finger dissolving super-death move so we know he’ll be back. Just as DC didn’t earn to right to kill off Superman, Marvel also didn’t earn the right to kill off pretty much anyone who dies in Avengers: Infinity War.

Thanos

Of course there is another side to this coin, an argument that can be put forth that destroys every point I have just made. Yeah we the viewer may know Spider-Man and the rest will be back, we know that ultimately the Avengers and Co. will win and Thanos will fail in the second part of the picture…but the characters in the film don’t. Maybe this is where we are meant to draw our emotional connection from, not our own viewpoints and expectations as with Wolverine’s death in Logan but instead those of the characters in the flick. Spider-Man’s death didn’t work for me looking at it knowing that he will be back, knowing that the good guys will eventually win. But as I said, the acting was sublime and really lifted the scene as a whole. It was Peter Parker just being the teenage school boy he really is crying that he didn’t want to go, it was Tony Stark’s look of disbelief and abject failure as his protégé died in his arms that sold it.

Yeah, in the grand scheme, Spider-Man’s death is really nothing. But at the time, those few seconds, that acting and everything else? That was a Logan moment and one that will stay with me forever.

Farewell To The King Baby!

Well, by the time I have finished writing and publish this article, one of the great icons of the big and small screen will be no more. The man with the chin, Bruce Campbell has decided to retire Ash Williams and tonight the final episode of Ash vs Evil Dead will air.

I guess all good things have to come to an end eventually and to say a personal goodbye to one of my all time favorite characters. I’m going to to take a look at the Ash Williams character from the very start to the end by covering all his big and small screen appearances from the movies, TV show and even video games. Here is my farewell to the King, Ashley Joanna Williams.

There will be possible SPOILERS for those that have not seen the films or all of the TV show.

The Evil Dead

Ash The Evil Dead

This is where it all started back in 1981 with the release of The Evil Dead…though the film was shot through the late 70s. People who are more used to the modern Ash will be quite surprised at the original version. The quips, the one liners, the chainsaw-hand, the balls to the wall hero – none of that existed in the original film. The Ash Williams here is much more subdued and even cowardly…a complete wuss really by comparison to his modern counterpart from the Ash vs Evil Dead TV show. That’s not to say he still doesn’t kick any Deadite balls as he spills plenty of demonic blood through the flick. Its just that most of it boils down to the fact he’s scared and has his back against the wall over him being a wisecracking bad-ass.

Seeing Ash snivel and shake with fear adds a lot of depth to the character and its a trait you don’t really see in horror male leads as that’s something the females usually get associated with.

This film is still one of my all time favorite horror films and one I find much more appreciation for knowing the hell they went through to make it. I personally like my Ash Williams more in this than what he becomes later in the franchise. I prefer the underdog that fights back to the obvious, bombastic hero with the over-inflated ego.

Evil Dead II

Ash The Evil Dead II

So after the unexpected success (and it was) of the first film, the sequel was released just a mere 6 years later. Its quite obvious by the end of the previous film that there was no intention to bring Ash back. In fact the film’s director Sam Raimi said that “everything dies at the end” of the film and that includes the music too…it really does. But as The Evil Dead became such a much loved cult classic, a sequel was made and Ash Williams was brought back too.

This is where you first start to see the more ego-fueled Ash begin to creep in. Don’t get me wrong there is still a touch of the cowardly about him especially during the first 40-odd minutes, but as the film progresses, Ash gets more confident and cocky. Deadites get shotgunned and chainsawed as plenty of claret flies around – something Ash begins to take great relish in, just watch the scene where he cuts off his own hand for proof.

This is a more balanced Ash. He still retains some of that cowardice and reluctance but Ash will go toe to toe against some Deadites and begin to enjoy it too. There are also a couple of his wisecracks including his most famous catchphrase of “groovy”.

Army of Darkness

Ash Army of Darkness

Three films in and Ash is nothing like his original anymore, there is no balance between coward and hero – Ash is now a full-tilt, verbose, overblown leading man. This is the dawn of the Ash Williams most people know of. Pretty much all of his dialogue is some kind of wisecrack and Army of Darkness is easily one of the most quotable films ever made.

Ash is at his Deadite killing best here and where the iconic status of the character really stems from. All the trademarks are here from the chainsaw-hand, his ‘boomstick’ to his quips and comedic lines. There was a delicate balance between horror and comedy in Evil Dead II, Army of Darkness is a very different story as there is very, very little horror and bucket loads of comedy in its place.

I have a love/hate relationship with this flick because I can not deny that its awesome. It really is such a fun and entertaining picture. But its just not the Ash I like and the film is really an action/comedy that has lost sight of its horror roots.

Ash vs Evil Dead

Ash vs Evil Dead

This is where it all lead up to. For years, from 1992’s Army of Darkness the fans had been wanting to see Ash Williams back on the big screen and several times Sam Raimi hinted at making an Evil Dead IV. The film never did happen but in 2015 Ash was brought back in TV show form for 30 episodes over 3 seasons.

This is the same Ash from Army of Darkness only turned up to 11. Ash from this TV show makes Ash from the previous film look like Ash from the first film. He is so overblown and explosive that you just can’t ignore him. The one-liners and insults come thick and fast. Ash now much older (its been almost 40 years), but still trying to play young is fun and provides plenty of comedy. Plus the show had more than enough gore to appease even the most hardcore Evil Dead fan.

It was a good show and great to see Ash back where he belongs…even if I thought the finale was very weak. Yeah I’m writing this just after watching the final episode of the show and I was disappointed by the send off to be honest. Its left open while also passing the torch at the same time. But I feel for a swansong for one of my all time favorite characters, it ultimately was a let down.

Well that covers Ash’s life in terms of movies and TV. Time to take a look at what he got up to in a few games.

Evil Dead: Hail to the King

Ash Hail to the King

This game from 2000 is set 8 years after the events of Army of Darkness and Ash is back still being played by Bruce Campbell. Yeah this is wisecracking Ash too as he has to battle Evil Ash, also played by Campbell. Its a game so obviously heavy on the action more so than anything else – including character so Ash takes a bit of a backseat to the onscreen chaos.

There’s still plenty of Ash to enjoy along the way but just not enough to please Ash fans like myself. Still, this was the first time Bruce had played the role since the release of Army of Darkness in 92.

Evil Dead: A Fistful of Boomstick

Fistful of Boomstick

The second game is set 3 years after the previous one with Ash spending most of his time in a bar getting drunk. Of course the evil is released…again and Ash has to spring into action in an adventure that takes Ash through time kicking Deadite ass long the way.

Its always great to have more Ash Williams even if these games were very average at best. Bruce is still playing the character too so expect many more of those one liners delivered in that distinct Bruce Campbell manner.

Evil Dead: Regeneration

Evil Dead Regeneration

The last Evil Dead game and this one tells an alternate timeline set after Evil Dead II where Ash has been locked up in an asylum after the events of the first two flicks. This time, Ash teams up with a half human, half Deadite called Sam (named after franchise co-creator Sam Raimi).

Pretty much more of the same as Ash battles Deadites while cracking-wise. Of course Ash is still being played by Bruce Campbell so you can expect plenty of that Ash Williams crass humor.

Other notable game appearances include The Evil Dead released for the Commodore 64 in 1984. Based on the original film, the game is probably one of the first survival horror games and of course you play as Ash Williams. Broforce was a side scroller released in 2005 and features a Ash parody called Ash Brolliams. Finally there was Poker Night 2 from 2013 where Ash plays poker against other notable characters. Its also worth pointing out that Bruce Campbell does not play Ash in this game.


So there you have it. Ash Williams’ life on the big and small screen. Its been a hell of a ride and he’s a character I’m going to miss. Still, the phrase ‘never say never’ comes to mind here. I mean, it looked like Ash would never return to the screen at all after Army of Darkness and yet he did. There are still rumors of a big screen outing for Ash in an Evil Dead IV, the TV show could continue in one way or another with a different network picking it up, they could do a spin-off continuing the adventures of the Ghost Beaters lead by Kelly, Pablo and Brandy with Ash appearing – its possible given the whole ‘passing the torch’ of the last episode.

But whatever happens to the character from this point on, its been a damn fun, blood soaked journey. Thanks for the memories Bruce, its been a great ride. Hail to the King indeed!

Ash Chainsaw

Ash J. Williams:Life is hard and dangerous, and sometimes you just gotta chop off somebody’s head to survive.