Since last we spoke, Rupert Murdoch’s once imperious empire has appeared to built on proverbial foundations of sand, E3 has come and gone with only Nintendo’s kooky Wii U console making much of an impression and I’ve only gone and applied to take my driving test. Things, they have been a-happening and no mistake. Perhaps the biggest thing of all to cross my desk over the past few months is helping me fulfill a teenage dream (and not one of the ones that Katy Perry is talking about)…
Iron Maiden are playing in my neck of the woods this week! Huzzah!
Yes, come Sunday evening, I shall be heading along to Sheffield’s glamorous MotorPoint Arena to take in an evening of the finest British metal, with fine support by those Antipodean scamps, Airbourne (who never met an AC/DC record that they didn’t like, and who can really blame them?).
I’ve wanted to see the band since I was a gawky youth and, as an only slightly less gawky adult, I get to join my denim, leather and hoodie-clad brothers and sisters in an evening of communal metal ass kicking. Can’t wait – specially given that this “Final Frontier” tour is using a lot of awesome Science Fiction imagery. #NerdHeadbangerCatnip is the hashtag that I would be using if I used hashtags.
I’m so excited that this post is being written to the dulcet tones of Blaze Bayley-era Maiden’s “The Sign of The Cross”. Yeah, that excited. Have a Maiden video to be going on with – I’m sure that I shall return in days to come with obnoxious fanboy wittering on the subject of Sunday’s performance, which is something to look forward to…
I don’t believe in guilty pleasures. If you love something, and it gives you moments of joy in an otherwise difficult existance, it’s long been my belief that you shouldn’t have to defend it against those self-appointed, self-important culture cops who would prefer you to watch, read, listen or play something more enriching and ‘worthwhile’.
You love “The X Factor”? That’s fine – I don’t. In fact, I’ve barely watched a full episode of it, but I would never try and diminish somebody’s enjoyment of it by disparaging the singers and bands entering the competition, or the people who enjoy it (Full disclosure: thanks to my wife’s love of the show, I’m more a “Project Runway” man).
Equally, when it comes to films, I’m quite happy to defend the next movie that I’ll be venturing out to see (and let’s be absolutely clear, here – it’s a movie, not a film).
“Resident Evil: Afterlife” is the fourth in the series of avowedly unpretentious B-movies adapted from the long-running Capcom series of “Resident Evil” survival horror video games and the latest iteration arrives with that most modish (and divisive) of technical additions – 3-D presentation (indeed, the first teaser trailer proudly boasts of using the same James Cameron /Vince Pace camera system used to shoot “Avatar”).
Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, who returns to the helm after producing the second and third films, “Afterlife” apparently continues to appeal to nobody. Critics have consistently deplored the series’ video game aesthetics and ‘level-boss-level-boss’ construction of the screenplays and are united in their condemnation with gamers who would only be happy once the series has gone back to the drawing board, rebooted and the foul stench of the Anderson years has been once and forever expunged.
This, as you may or may not be unsurprised to learn, is where I take my leave of fanboys and hacks and publicly proclaim my unironic, whole-hearted love of this film series (isn’t the word ‘series’ nicer than ‘franchise’? I do get the assertion that this is a movie sequence which has more in common with Fast Food that Fellini, but I do feel that the ‘F’ word, in connection with films, has reached a point of some over-use).
I’ve enjoyed every film in the series to date – and this is possibly due to my misgivings about the Capcom games and their hackneyed insistance on prioritising ancient notions of game design over player logic – if Visceral Games/EA’s Sci-Fi horror mash-up, “Dead Space” can achieve the insurmountable task of balancing simultaneous player movement and looser, intuitive combat against your mutant foes on their first go-round, why can’t Capcom eschew the antiquated, player-hobbling mechanics ingrained in the series and move forward?
That I’m not a fan of the games perhaps affords me the opportunity to enjoy the films for what they are – wilfully absurd, B-grade pictures with no ambition higher than cranking up the sound mix and scaring the crap out a weekend theatrical audience.
I don’t have the problem that many fans have with the films’ insistance on recontextualising characters from different games into a mix-and-match continuity all of their own – that Alice doesn’t appear in the games, or Chris Redfield doesn’t look like a steroid-crazed, 90’s boy band escapee is not my primary concern.
I anticipate only solid, B-movie thrills from “Afterlife” – series mainstay Milla Jovovich glowering and dispatching Zombies with the dispassionate economy one would extend to removing stray lint from a sweater cuff, crunching electro-metallic scoring from neo-industrial noise mongers Tomandandy, the steely metallic set design and clinical look indicative of director Anderson’s involvement and which was perhaps missing from 2007’s entry in the series, “Resident Evil: Extinction” and – drum roll, please – the proper and overdue arrival of game series Big Bad, Albert Wesker.
The film has enjoyed the biggest debut of any entry in the series yet – due, perhaps, to the hilariously overpriced premium being charged by cinemas for 3-D presentation – and shows no sign of slowing down (indeed, initial reviews indicate that Anderson goes for the bold, post-credits gambit of referencing the next installment before the movie that you’re watching has actually finished).
The 3-D aspect is something of an issue to me, as I have suggested in the title of this post. Simply, I’ve yet to see a film which has been honestly and truly enhanced by the 3-D process currently so fashionable with studios and spectacle-minded producers (the less said of the cack-handed, post-processing model beloved of tight-fisted Hollywood power-brokers, the better).
Even “Avatar” couldn’t convince me – I saw it first in 2-D presentation and couldn’t truly tell you that stereoscopic presentation gave me anything more or enhanced my enjoyment over the ‘flat’ viewing I initially took in. The best part of $2 billion at the box office isn’t to be sniffed at, but the technique seems at best to be an enhanced value proposition for the studios – at worst, and in my view, 3-D is a case of the Emperor’s New Pseudo-Raybans.
I hope to report back with good news – I do feel that we need fewer ponderous blockbusters and more unpretentious B-movies filling cinemas, if only to preserve the idea of (comparitively) economic, genre-aware film making – and will do my best to convince you that this latest return to Alice, Raccoon City and Global Saturation is worth your hard-won moolah.
As my lovely wife, Mrs Boo, will be happy to tell you over on her blog at Rolling Eyeballs, today is the eighth anniversary of our first meeting.
After many long letters and some ruinously expensive phone calls, our first date happened on July 7, 2002. We met at York Railway Station, and after some initial – ‘Is that you? Are you him? What’s going on with his hair?’ type shenanigans, we walked around the city centre for a while and chatted away merrily before going to see what become our first movie – Spielberg’s awfully chirpy Philip K. Dick adaptation, “Minority Report”(hence the ‘Rolling Eyeballs’ title of Mrs Boo’s blog). I thank the good people of “SFX” magazine every day, honestly.
Further to Dave’s suggestion, I am more than happy to share my thoughts on Kevin Smith‘s latest visit to these shores.
He was dead funny and really cool.
You require more, perchance?
The venue was well chosen, if a little out of the way: The IndigO2 is a reasonably sized theatre venue which nestles in a corner of the massive O2 complex in Greenwich, London (It’s the former Millennium Dome, if you haven’t had the pleasure of visiting it yet). It’s reachable by Tube and the Docklands Light Railway, but it’s still something of a trek. There are plenty of places to eat, but all of them operate what can charitably be described as ‘Capital Pricing’ – just enough to make you complain, but not enough that you consider going without a meal.
We sat towards the rear of the stalls, but still had a great view, room to stretch out and easy access to the bar – and Kevin’s fan base is very conversant with alcohol, if you catch my drift. Fans were an amiable bunch – an excellently geeky and diverse crowd, with kudos going to eventual star of the evening, Kevin Latter, whose stood in front of us in the queue outside (you’ll see him on stage in the video linked at the end of this post).
The show itself was everything that I hoped it would be – Kevin started off the evening with a truly splendid anecdote about breaking an employee toilet, which embodied the blend of social embarassment, absurdity and vulgar wit which makes his movies and worldview such a joy to embrace.
After the twenty minute mark, Kevin opened up the floor to questions and fans made a beeline for the microphones set up in the stalls and circle. I had contemplated making just such a run but thought better of it on seeing the queues instantly assemble.
We had a variety of queries, from the usual “Where’s Jason Mewes tonight?” – living his own life and doing his own thing – to questions about his writing (which, as a currently studying screenwriter, particularly caught my attention). Other bloggers who were there have noted the only shark-jumping moment of the night, which came from an overly earnest and ultimately ill-advised fellow who wanted to discuss the tragic murder of actress/writer/director Adrienne Shelly and made an excruciatingly long five minute sojourn into the hows and wherefores of her death (Kevin has worked with the Foundation set up after her death and offered charity benefit prizes as a result). Right cause, wrong venue.
When the only criticism you can offer is that the evening went on a little bit too long – we left at 11:30pm in order to catch a train back to the hotel, but many others were leaving much earlier – that really speaks to the enjoyment had by all. He’s a really engaging storyteller who deserves a larger audience and the very antithesis of the egotistical Hollywood power player (by his own admission, he’s anything but that).
My friend Dave went down to London Village for the Kevin Smith signing on Tuesday 6th October – photographic evidence of which is available at his Twitter feed – and he will be joining me on Tuesday 13th October to take in An Evening With Kevin Smith at the IndigO2 theatre with our better halves.
Dave was kind enough to snag me a copy of Kevin’s new “Shooting The Sh*t With Kevin Smith” book, which collects the highlights of the regular Smodcast that Kevin and Scott Mosier unleash on their listening public – and which was signed, to boot!
Some pics for you to peruse…
I’ll try and provide a heads-up on the show for you on Wednesday – as we’re overnighting it in Londonium and having a morning perusing the city’s finer fabric emporia for Mrs Fluffrick’s various projects.
Or, to put it another way, why not check out the redoubtable Mrs Boo who has taken the reigns over at the previously shuttered “Rolling Eyeballs” blog at Blogger, in order to share with you her excellent creativity and magical design talents.