Phage In A Vice

Desert Island Films (2013)

Something a little bit different for everyone here. Head on over to our good friend’s site over at HeadInAVice.com to learn a little bit about what makes my, The Phage’s, mind tick along… That and try and figure out why we’re so obsessed with dessert whilst talking about desert island films.

I can’t promise you’ll get an answer to that query, but it’s a hell of a site!

Head In A Vice

desert island

The Phage from Film Phage has kindly submitted his Desert Island Films. Read on for his choices and reasons, and be sure to check out his site.

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The Reboot Ruling

The Reboot Ruling

Most of the best sagas come in threes: Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings… erm… Rush Hour? Now we’re not tooting our own horn here at Film Phage and comparing our trail-blazing Reboot Zone saga with these epics but you can’t argue with the rule of three. It’s unquestionably true. Let’s just not mention film franchises that break this trend OK? Perfect. So welcome to our final instalment in the ongoing debate regarding the fate of D.A. Reboot.

Proceedings were opened in Part I: The Reboot Rebuke where the prosecution (The Phage) launched into a tirade against reboots, with references galore to Rob Schneider. This was followed in Part II: The Reboot Redemption by the defence counsel (erm… The Phage aka me, again) where we learnt that reboots probably aren’t created for fans of the originals and that we should be more forgiving. And now we come to Part III: The Reboot Ruling, where our honourable judge (you guessed who – I’m so schizophrenic we’ve got three personalities) will pass verdict on whether reboots are a legitimate form of cinema… Please be upstanding for Judge Phage.

I would like to thank myself for providing compelling arguments both for and against the defendant over the past fortnight. Although I do not normally condone so many frankly bizarre analogies to first dates or Rob Schneider, you have both made valuable contributions to the ongoing case. As I am The Judge, I forgo the need for a jury and make the decisions myself. Hell, you don’t get such a bad-ass helmet through asking for other people’s opinions. I am the law, despite what Robo-Phage would claim.

I will address each of the accusations individually and deliver my verdicts accordingly:

1) Reboots are always awful.

On this count, we find the defendant not guilty. Although we note that many rebooted films have been as painful as a claw hammer to the temples, there are notable exceptions that disprove this. Batman Begins, The Amazing Spider-Man and Star Trek are all shining examples of how to successfully reboot a franchise.

2) Reboots have stifled Hollywood’s original film output.

Although the court does not have access to the in’s and out’s of Hollywood, we have assessed the lay evidence. On this count, we find the defendant not guilty. I point to the fact that The Avengers / Avengers Assemble has become the third highest grossing movie of all time, and it is an original franchise. Similarly, Avatar and Titanic: the top two grossing films of all time, are also original motion pictures. Although the court acknowledges how derivative Avatar is in the grand scheme of things.

3) Reboots destroy the magic of the original film.

The court finds this to be the hardest area to judge. Although we acknowledge that remaking a film does nothing to impinge on the already-existing original, we know that some people feel like the film’s been “ruined” by the remake. On balance, we find the defendant not guilty owing to the fact that you can still enjoy the original, and that the reboot is probably not made for you. As the defence pointed out, these remakes are for a new generation who would otherwise not invest themselves in an older, “dated” movie.

4) Is Rob Schneider responsible for any of these reboots?

No. Sorry Rob… though you really do take some god awful roles.

Not guilty of reboots… but probably guilt of something…

So although we note that reboots nearly always falter, there are gleaming exceptions to the rule: those that stand out as fantastic movies in their own right. However, we must note that our opinions are perhaps coloured by the fact that none of The Phage’s favourite movies have been rebooted as of yet. They’re all still out there in their original version. Maybe if this changed, we’d be a little less lenient on the reboot. But for now, D.A. Reboot is acquitted of all charges.

If you agree, or disagree, then please feel free to make your voice known in the comments section below.

The Reboot Redemption

The Reboot Redemption

Reboots: much maligned and much deplored by many a movie-goer. Here at Film Phage, we’re continuing to act as both the prosecution and defence on behalf of D.A. Reboot, who is accused of besmirching Hollywood’s good name. We now follow on from our first entry in The Reboot Zone saga: The Reboot Rebuke, and re-join proceedings, where I believe the council for the defence is about to make its gambit. Will we see more surprise guest appearances, or any more mention of Rob Schneider? Read on to find out.

Ladies and gentlemen of the jury, I am here today to show you why I respectfully disagree with myself with regards to the innocence of my client, D.A. Reboot. I am here to show you that retelling and re-adapting a concept is not a new premise; indeed without such practice one would not have stories passed from generation to generation. To borrow from the London 2012 Olympics, these new interpretations are needed to “inspire a generation” – maybe not your generation, but those after you. I will present evidence that is our own selfish desires to oppose change that makes us so vehemently opposed to the mere concept of a reboot and that reboots are not necessarily bad. If you agree with me, I urge you to vote to acquit D.A. Reboot of all charges.

We all have our favourite memories, and some of those will undoubtedly tie themselves to films. My honourable friend likened a reboot to a first date: one where you don’t get that first kiss and end up being brandished a pervert, somehow. To use the same analogy: do you remember those dates that didn’t work so well? Ones filled with regrets? Perhaps you moved too soon, or didn’t move at all. An opportunity wasted. An opportunity squandered. An opportunity to never be had again. What if you could go back and alter things; tinkering with the very basis of the experience. Would you? I’m willing to bet you would. A bit like 50 First Dates, but with less Rob Schneider.

This is a lot like the entire concept of a reboot. It goes back and undoes and alters what went before. Let’s take an example: Batman. The Batman movies have been commonplace since the 1980’s, but have been picked up and played with by numerous directors. The character’s origin story was explored in 1989’s Batman. Several questionable sequels followed. As I’m sure you’re all well aware, the character was reborn, or rebooted, in 2005 courtesy of Chris Nolan. I think you’ll agree that this reboot was regarded as something of a success. It takes nothing away from the 1989 original; that too is still a great movie in its own right. Some would argue the original isn’t even dated, and I would agree, yet I’m sure some decried some upstart director (Nolan) retelling the origin story of Batman again. If you preferred the original, then great. If you preferred Nolan’s take, then also: great.

“There can only be one.” Not always.

Another example of such “rebooting” with beloved franchise involves a group almost as vocal as comic book fans: Star Trek fans. Everyone’s aware of Captain Kirk’s Star Trek from 1966. This was rebooted in 2009, with new Kirk’s, Spock’s and Scotty’s. People were at first a little hesitant, but the film was a hit; with a sequel currently in the works that may itself be a remake of Star Trek II: Wrath of Khan. Reboots clearly can work.

To summarise my first point: reboots aren’t always a failure, and if you don’t like the remake, so what? You still have the original. It’s not like the reboot has erased the originals from existence is it? Some will like the new, some will like the old.

Still scary by today’s horror standards? Probably not. Is it therefore “dated”?

This leads me to my final point on the matter: who these reboots are aimed at. You’d be naive if you thought that a remake of something like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre was for the same audience that saw it back in 1974. Of course it isn’t. It’s for a new generation: new youngsters to the genre. By anyone’s admission, the horror movies of the 1960’s-1980’s are tame by today’s standards. The Exorcist was once banned and deemed too terrifying for public consumption. Nowadays? Well… we have The Human Centipede. Whether you like it or not, a film’s appearance holds a lot of sway in whether a newcomer will watch the movie.

Not the bleeding edge of cool.

Let’s put it in the context of technology. I grew up playing video game consoles: the Sega Mega Drive and original brick-like Game Boy. These were cutting edge in the early 1990’s. Can you imagine giving Tetris to your average 12 year old nowadays? They’d be disgusted at how “retro”, “boring” and dated it is. Technology isn’t like the fashion industry: it’s not cyclical. It will not come back. Movies are the same. If something was filmed in analogue and just looks dated, then regardless of plot, it will be rejected by many. Stick a teenager in front of Teen Wolf, and they’ll just scoff. Hell – look at adult entertainment. Do you still like the chica-chica-wow-wow wah-pedal driven, moustachioed, all around “dodgy” take of the 1970’s, where all the male “actors” look like Super Mario? Well, some of you might – but you’re unique. In general, people aren’t always interested in “classics”. You want something relatable and immersive? You need to re-do it. Shallow? Maybe. But does it make business sense? Totally.

To outline my case, reboots can falter, but it’s not always pre-determined. Some are fantastic re-inventions, and if it is bad then you still have the original. What have you lost? If you’re that desperate to not sully a film’s memory, then don’t see the new version, as it’s probably not even for you. Do you think the new Total Recall is for you if you saw the original? How about the in-the-works new The Running Man? Both Arnie juggernauts back in the day, but many teens and 20-somethings will find it hard to relate to these movies. That’s just the culture we live in.

Although my tone is more solemn than that of me, I hope I have convinced you that reboots are not the Antichrist reincarnate. Nor are they Rob Schneider. I urge you to forgive and exonerate the outcast of the movie industry, the leper of films, the blight of Hollywood. We are here to redeem the reboot.

The Reboot Rebuke

There is a fifth dimension beyond that which is known to man. It is a dimension as vast as space and as timeless as infinity. It is the middle ground between light and shadow, between science and superstition, and it lies between the pit of man’s fears and the summit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of imagination. It is an area which we ca… we ca…

>ERROR... ERROR... Rebooting...

There is a single dimension that is well known to man. It is a dimension as vacuous and repetitive as infinity. It is the grey area between new and old, between unneeded and unnecessary, and it lies between the peak of man’s fears and the pit of his knowledge. This is the dimension of zero imagination. It is an area which we call… The Reboot Zone.

Welcome to the first part of The Phage’s editorial piece on the scourge / saviour of the box office: the reboot. Over the next fortnight I’ll be acting as the prosecutor and defence team in the case of “The People vs. D.A. Reboot”. Schizophrenic? You bet we are!

I’d love to say that you’ll ultimately be the judge… but I probably will, as a) I like the sound of my own voice keyboard clacking, and b) we’re quite a new site and our readership so far are a lot like peeping Toms: often here, but as invisible as the awards in Adam Sandler‘s trophy cabinet. But hey – I’m an exhibitionist, so carry on coming back to feast your eyes folks, I’ll give you a show! Speaking of which… let’s get the aforementioned on the road…

The Prosecution

Beautiful ladies and handsome gentlemen of the jury, I come to you today to demonstrate that lightning never successfully strikes the same place twice. And should you brandish a lightning rod to force the strike, you inevitably get burned. I will present evidence that will show you beyond reasonable doubt, that the defendent, D.A. Reboot, is guilty of destroying actors’ careers and modern cinema as a whole.

I urge you to think of your most cherished memory or experience involving a movie. You can still remember the sights, smells and sounds of that day. Perhaps you were with a loved one: a first date, the first connection of hands, or a stolen first kiss? Now imagine that your leading man or leading lady has been replaced by Rob Schneider doing his normal “derp-de-derp” routine (see Exhibit A: the YouTube video below) and the plot is essentially the same, but has been sapped of all charm, excitement and wonder. And what’s that smell? Oh God! The room you’re watching in smells inexplicably of sewage. Your date? Well they are not happy – you never got that first kiss, in fact he/she spread rumours that you have a weird, depraved fetish that no-one in the Western world condones (outside of Amsterdam). Yeah, that one. Not pleasant is it? Not pleasant at all. This is essentially what Hollywood is doing to so many people’s favourite films: defecating on them and sullying people’s memories. And making you out to be a pervert.

Exhibit B: Bubo the Owl. A casualty of the reboot.

I’d like to draw your attention to 2010’s abomination that was Clash of the Titans (straplined “Titans Will Clash“, honestly!): a reboot of the 1981 stop-motion classic. The UK’s Guardian newspaper put it best, stating that it is “at its best during its breakneck second half, when the 3D effects distract from the 2D protagonists and the risible dialogue is drowned out by the clash of steel and the gnash of pincers.” I applaud Xan Brooks’ scathingly backhanded compliment, which highlights the problem with so many reboots: all style, no substance. And they scrapped the lynch pin of the movie: Bubo the adorable, robotic owl. Some things cannot be forgiven, or forgotten.

But it continues: Robocop, The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles, Godzilla… the list of reboots continues to grow. Godzilla, already rebooted in 1998, is again being rebooted in 2014. Perhaps without a rockin’ Jamiroquai theme song this time.

Exhibit C: Spider-Man and The Amazing Spider-Man.

Some will argue that an “adequate period” always passes before a reboot is released: typically 20 years. I refute this, highlighting 2012’s The Amazing Spider-Man as a copy of the 2002’s Spider-Man, or Death At A Funeral – a 2010 remake of a 2007 original. Mistake me not, I am not citing films that re-use the title, but change the film, such as X-Men and X-Men: First Class, or any James Bond movie, as these are obviously worthy films in their own right. The prosecution draws issues with the retelling of tales that are either a) uncalled for, b) already told recently, or c) retold so appallingly that they trigger widespread disgust amongst critics and the public alike.

I now read you an account from a witness, whose identity is withheld:

“I grew up adoring The Pink Panther movies, but was so scarred by Steve Martin‘s reboot that I had a severe psychiatric trauma, which caused me to draw a moustache on my face with a marker, paint my chest pink, and parade around in a pair of torn white underpants yelling “I am le Pink Pom-Pom”. This went on from dawn ’til dusk for a good 3 weeks. I was arrested on several occasions. For unsettled legal reasons I’m unable to talk of the horrors that occurred after The Pink Panther 2 was released. But I can tell you it did involve a spate of sexual activity with packs of supermarket brand streaky-back bacon and a love for all things Rob Schneider. Reboots ruined my derp, derp, de-derp life.”

Shocking words. Shocking, bizarre words. But I hope it illustrates how damaging a reboot can be; not just to the actors and film studios involved, but to people like you – the viewers. You may be sitting there now saying “never me”, but what if your cherished series was next on the block? Could you handle it? Ever noticed how obsessed you’re becoming with food and cookery shows recently? Well that’s symptom #1 of what doctors* are referring to as “Reboot Rebuke”, or the street slang Schneideritis.

I hope that you agree with me that reboots are a plague on our cinemas: robbing truly gifted, imaginative film-makers of the opportunity to begin novel franchises. Novel franchises that amaze, captivate, and begin so many more “cherished moments” that will last a lifetime. And not only this, but the same reboots smash the memories of those that loved the original. I leave you with a question: would you rather eat your favourite flavour of ice cream for the rest of your life; knowing that every new scoop would taste more and more like sewage every time you ate it, until the point it was inedible? Or would you rather try a new flavour every time? Sure you’d eventually hit that appalling coffee flavour that no-one likes, but the next scoop is bound to be tastier! The same is true for films. If you’re with me, then I urge you to find D.A. Reboot guilty on all charges.

*Doctors accredited by the same University as Dr. Dre, Dr. Who and Dr. Nick Riviera from The Simpsons.

Believe The Hype?

Philosiraptor says...You read the film was announced, heard who was cast, read the phenomenal previews, saw the trailer and couldn’t wait for ‘your’ film to drop. You’re there first day of release in your seat, popcorn in hand, and two hours later you want to grab the remaining corn kernels, hunt down the director and force them up his/her nostrils to the point it tickles their brain until they apologise for that abomination you just wasted your life on. We’ve all been there. We’ve all bought into the hype of a movie. Why do we do this, and should we continue to buy into Hollywood’s hype machine?

Getting press for your latest upcoming film is something of a no-brainer; publicity’s needed to bring in the customers after all. And nowadays the companies behind your favourite products have capacity to seep into every crevice of your life and expose you to “what’s to come”. But widespread awareness and hype does not a great film make.

Indeed, the same is true for most multimedia, with video games pulling in enormous sales on a yearly basis, especially thanks to blockbuster franchises such as Mass Effect and Dragon Age. Both of which have famously fallen foul of having so much hype surrounding them that they could never live up to expectations. Mass Effect 3 in particular brought in tens of thousands of disgruntled fans who bemoaned the ending of their cherished franchise: not because it was over, but because of how poor it was. Imagine that cardboard box at the end of Se7en didn’t contain a head, but a tube of Pringles that magically carried Freeman, Pitt and Spacey to the moon for a party with Bugs Bunny – that’s how misjudged and down-right weird it was for many. In light of this, the people behind the franchise went as far as amending the ending to suit the public’s demands 4 months post-release. A movie however, is an entirely different beast.

Sarcastic WonkaOne of the most hyped films of 2012 has without doubt been Ridley Scott‘s Prometheus: the long in development spiritual predecessor to 1979’s Alien (I know – it’s aged fantastically for a 30+ year old movie, as has Sigorney Weaver). Every magazine, website and newspaper boy was extolling how great this film was going to be. It was like knowing about the second coming of Christ in some circles. Then when the reviews came out… they were mixed; although it scored a respectable 7/10 with critics and audiences alike, it fell short of many people’s expectations. This was pegged as a “Film of the Year” contender, but it’s clearly not going to get that title any time soon. I mean, sure, we all liked Michael Fassbender acting as an android with scary realism, and liked learning a little about the mythology of the Alien franchise, but the writing sure was haphazard in places; see HISHE‘s YouTube clip below for a brilliant send up. I’d sure like a rewrite on that ending, as opposed to the deliberate sequel-bating that’s so rife right now… but I think I’ll save that rant Opinion article for another day.

Looking for another prime example? How about Star Wars I: The Phantom Menace? Possibly one of the most eagerly-anticipated films ever considering people have been asking “I wonder what happened before Part IV” since it aired in 1977. As I’m sure the majority of you have seen this film it goes without saying that it didn’t live up to the hype… damn you Jar-Jar Binks. And STILL, after we were all bitten by this Ebola-carrying abomination, we still went back again for Episode II, and AGAIN for Episode III. Why? Because we were all promised “this one’s guaranteed to be better” by every publication under the sun. Don’t even get me started on Indy vs. Aliens (commonly called Indiana Jones IV)…

So should we believe the hype, considering how cruelly we’ve been misled by the press in the past? Or do we look to the examples of where the hype was realised, as with Avengers Assemble and Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows? Do we think that Django Unchained, The Hobbit et al., are going to live up to our expectations? Though I must admit, the thought of stretching The Hobbit (a single book) into THREE films probably damages the hype for me. Personally, I think “hype” is great for public awareness of a movie, but shouldn’t be used to gauge quality. We all like to get excited about the latest installment in our favourite franchise / film from our favourite director, but manage your expectations. My advice? Watch a trailer and see the film for yourself… or let The Phage tell you what to think… then watch it.

What do you guys think: is the hype surrounding these massive potential blockbusters merited? Or would you rather go in to a movie blind and be totally surprised by what you see – a bit like walking blind into a dark-room orgy. Sure, it might be fun… but you could come out wishing you were forcing popcorn kernels up your nose, as opposed to forcing **** in your ****, whilst your **** ****s. And no-one likes that.

A Superhero Movie Too Far?

Batman slaps Robin

If we don’t talk about it, we won’t jinx it!!

Batman 1999 v 2012

Batman ’99 vs Batman ’12: Pretty accurate portrayal of the public’s view of a comic book movie. From frumpy to bad ass.

If you mentioned that you liked comics back in 2000, people would assume one of two things: a) you’re a small child, or b) you’re probably a bit of a social pariah and that you should probably avoid a). Then a movie came along that changed everything: X-Men. It featured a relatively unknown cast of actors, spare a couple of big names such as Captain Picard and Gandalf (before he was Gandalf), and told the tale of a group of genetic mutants who had fantastic powers. And boy did it resonate with audiences. Sure, there was the brilliant Blade in 1998, which could be argued as the “first” big movie, but it wasn’t that much of a hit! The success of X-Men and Spider-Man two years later opened the floodgates to a slew of superhero movies from major and minor characters alike, culminating this year in the juggernauts of the box office that are Avengers Assemble and The Dark Knight Rises. But now the question is: what next? And more importantly, how much longer can Hollywood’s latest fetish survive before it implodes? Too big to fail you say? Now where have we heard that before…?

Humble Beginnings

Undoubtedly, we’re right now riding the wave that is the Golden Age of comic book adaptations. Marvel Studios’ success with their tales of Iron Man, Captain America, Hulk and Thor, and Warner / DC’s success with Nolan‘s Batman universe have cumulatively brought in over $5,400,000,000 (you need the noughts just to realise how many McDonald’s cheeseburgers that could buy you), with the split being $3.7 billion to Marvel and $1.7 billion to Warner (so far; the Bat is still flying). But crikey Batman, how the golly did we get to such jeeperiffic figures? They’re just comics!

The secret to their success, I believe, is two-fold. On one hand you have a collection of stories that are on-the-whole believable, or at least plausible for the most part, which is something I’ll come to later. And on the other hand you can’t help but notice that they’re somewhat a symptom of the times: gloom. It’s the same perfect storm that results in fast food sales soaring during times of economic hardship; this manifests in the need for escapism and heroes at the box office. Sure, some of the first big hits came pre-2008 meltdown, but all the gargantuan films: the Dark Knights and Iron Man(s) came post-2008. Hell, if you were being really analytical, you could even say the threat of global terrorism following 2001 also fed the public’s need for heroes. That’s a controversial point, but I think it’s valid. So… so long as the world is still at risk of going bankrupt or blowing itself up, the superhero can do no wrong right? I mean, the public tolerated Nic Cage‘s antics as Ghost Rider (twice!), Superman‘s lacklustre return and watched the Blade, Spider-Man and X-Men franchises tie themselves in knots; yet all was forgiven when the latter two returned recently. Not sure we’re going to see Wesley Snipes stopping people “ice skating up a hill” any time soon though. Unless the IRS lets him… Or Twilight takes a hard left turn in its final bow later this year.

Blade: Breaking Twilight

But can the studios sustain this enormous momentum, or is something looming on the horizon that could bring the whole house of cards crashing down?

There’s a Storm Coming…

The Guardians of the Galaxy

The Guardians of the Galaxy: The Four Horsemen (and a Tree) of the Comic Book Apocalypse?

As I mentioned in my round-up of Comic-Con 2012, Marvel made some peculiar announcements this year, namely by choosing The Guardians of the Galaxy as a flagship film franchise. For those unfamiliar with this group, they’re essentially a cosmic group of heroes who fly around in space, preventing intergalactic tyranny. Sounds like a typical sci-fi film right? And there-in lies the problem. The most successful comic book movies have more-or-less had some semblance of reality, whether its being bitten by a spider, having genetic mutations, or building a high-tech suit of armour. Thor, who for all intents and purposes is classed as a “God” was explained through comparing magic and science and saying they’re the same thing (hokey, but it worked). So he’s essentially just a scientific freak who wears chainmail. And is ripped. But I haven’t got to the outworldy part yet… is the public willing to accept a living tree, some aliens and a talking raccoon (cumulatively known as The Guardians of the Galaxy) as superheroes? I know Disney are involved nowadays, but a talking raccoon and tree? Last I remember, the TV series The Raccoons ended in 1991… maybe that’ll have a resurgence? God I hope not.

And in the non-Marvel Studios stable, we hear rumblings that Warner is looking to open Pandora’s box and unleash all manner of oddities on the cinema-going public, now that their baby bat has flown the nest. The Metal Men? Lobo? Really? It’s a case of a studio reaching the “terrible 2’s”, seeing what Marvel has and saying “I want, I want”. Add this to the in-production reboots of failed franchises such as Fantastic Four, Daredevil and Green Lantern and you’re risking meltdown with the public, being the fickle beings they are, not caring any more.

What’s my opinion? Hell, I love the comic book genre, and was one of those little kids that read about Spider-Man and X-Men and religiously watched the cartoons on Saturday mornings. And I’ll no doubt watch every movie that comes out, even the Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance‘s, Elektra‘s and The Punisher‘s of this world. The only fear I have is that we’ll return to that pre-2000 mindset, where only us nostalgic fans remain… in our rooms… talking of the now mythical Golden Age of comic book movies. But then again, people have been predicting this bubble will burst for years now, so maybe I’m barking up the wrong tree. Possibly a tree that isn’t a superhero.

Sound off in our Comments section below…