Baby Driver/Spiderman: Homecoming

There’s something to be said for the accidental double bill. Films that have nothing to do with each other but seem like they belong together anyway. The best example of this lately I feel is Spotlight and The Big Short. They came out at different times, and were about completely different topics, but tonally they felt very similar. There’s a similar feeling with these two films, only this time it’s actually a lot easier to quantify; they’re both modern films containing a slight throwback feel to them. Baby Driver is basically a modern car chase film, a twenty-first century Bullitt, whereas Spiderman: Homecoming is basically a John Hughes movie with superpowers. Both of them are throwback films for the modern age, you don’t lose anything going into them without knowing the history of their respective genre-homages, but you do gain if you’re aware of them.

So what were they like? I’ll start with Spiderman. I actually liked it. The plot was simplistic but it was still better than at least 50% of MCU films purely because it had a compelling villain. Michael Keaton’s character (he plays some sort of Birdman) makes sense. You’re not watching it thinking “what a terrible person, glad he’s not real”, you’re thinking “he’s actually making a lot of sense. I see where he’s coming from, and in a way, I agree with him”. He’s the most compelling villain in the MCU so far, and the performance matches the writing. A lot of comic book fans were disappointed that they changed his appearance for the films, I don’t particularly care about it to be honest, mainly because it would be really hard to take THIS seriously.

Vulture-Comic-Vine1

I know that this talk about “taking it seriously” makes this sound like it’s attempting to be super serious and gritty, thank God they didn’t do that, this film is fun as hell. Even the colours are better than lots of superhero films. A lot of films have orange and blue as the main colours, but use them against dark backdrops, this uses those colours but uses them against light. It’s very summer-ey in appearance. It’s also really funny. The characters are well written and have great lines, Zendeya’s character in particular is a great collection of sarcasm and apathy which I really identify with for some reason. She has the best lines throughout and is one of the films many comedic highlights. In terms of comedy though, most of the best moments from the non-main characters belong to Jacob Batalon’s Ned, who absolutely owns his role as “guy in a chair”. He also helps provide an audience surrogate, since the film starts with him already as hero, many people expected the origin to either be ignored, or told in flashbacks. It did neither, it had Ned ask questions and we found out small details from that, not so much that we were re-covering old ground, and not so little that people new to the franchise were confused. So in summary; very good, very fun, and I think it’s safe to say that Tom Holland is the best Spider-Man, although part of that is due to the way he’s written, he’s actually written as an adolescent, the villains he faces aren’t ones who are going to destroy the world, the main villain is basically an unfriendly neighbourhood villain.

spider-man-homecoming-trailer-micheal-keaton-adrian-tombs-vultur-216823
This scene is genuinely one of the best written scenes so far this year

So, onto Baby Driver. If you’re interested in film you need to see this, a true masterpiece of film-making. Almost the entire film has music alongside it, it’s a film which you could put on in the background at a party and just listen to it, and it would work (I will prove that one day). Yes, the plot is wafer thin, but it’s so fun you don’t notice. You don’t sit there thinking “well I know how this story is going to end”, you think “oh my God! Did you see that?”. It’s a non-blockbuster version of spectacle cinema. Everything about the way it’s made just works, the way the music complements the action and vice versa, the way the car chases are impressive without being unrealistic, the fact that Jon Hamm and Kevin Spacey continue to exist.

Screen Shot 2017-07-08 at 16.07.52
Even Jamie Foxx agrees

The most annoying thing about this film is that you will never see anything else like it, but lots films will claim to be like it. The love and dedication that goes into this is obvious. This was not “film by committee”, this was a true passion project, and it shows through every inch of the screen. It’s also surprisingly American. The open road, the American dream, diners with endless coffee are all essential to the story, so it’s weird that such an American film was made by a Brit, this feels like the film where Edgar Wright has finally stepped away from under the shadow of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost. In an ideal world Scott Pilgrim would have done that, but at least it has finally happened. One of the best films I’ve seen this year on a technical level, from the opening scene right through to the closing credits it never stops impressing, never slows down, which considering it’s almost 2 hours long is incredibly impressive.

So that’s Baby Driver and Spiderman:Homecoming. Both flawed but worth a watch. Both destined to be movies people put on and watch in large groups. Both have been put on my “buy on dvd” list. So how can I end this? The same way I end everything; cover song! Here’s an acoustic cover of the Spider-Man theme song, enjoy, then check out their other stuff on the youtube and their twitter.

The 5 Best Film-Based Video Games

Happy Friday The 13th everyone! Now like all of you I’ll be celebrating this most holy of days by killing horny teenagers near a lake somewhere (lake, puddle, it’s all the same). But other people celebrate it differently. Since the days of Jesus fighting a Pterodactyl in the Roman Colosseum, some people have watched some of the Friday The 13th films on this day. So it makes logical sense that I should take advantage, celebrate this by blogging about it. But I’ve never seen any of the films so instead I’m going to talk about video game adaptations of films, because there was once a video game adaptation of the film, and do I need another reason?

5. Goldeneye

GoldenEye007box

Let’s get the obvious one out of the way. This is the first game everybody talks about when they talk of truly great video games. There’s not a word missing there, that should be “video games based on films”, that’s how good this game is. At the time I’d never watched a James Bond film, and even now I’ve seen one I still think he’s a prick, he’s a sociopathic monster who probably has so many STD’s that he should pretty much change his name to Mydia, Chlamydia. But despite that, I still love this game. It has not aged well however, but that’s mainly because of the lot of the things we found innovative in the game are now standard. Before this game it was normal for weapons and ammo etc just to be laying around, this made ammo collecting logical: you could only pick up what had been dropped by people you killed. Yes, there were a few bits of ammo laying around, but your main source of it was the people you killed. Then there’s the multiplayer. There are two types of people who played video games in the 90’s. Those who spent hours shooting their friends in the head in multiplayer and obeying the “no oddjobs” rule, and liars! Dirty stinking liars!

4. Hitchhikers Guide To The Galaxy

maxresdefault

This game comes from a different time, whereas modern games help the player, sometimes with tutorials, sometimes with guidance during the game, and sometimes with just skipping parts of it if you find it too difficult. Gaming is now focused on enjoyment, making the player have fun (with a few notable exceptions). It wasn’t always the case, however. Some video games used to make you wonder what you had done to piss off the creators. The biggest genre for this were text adventure games. Games which by their nature were quite annoying: you could spend hours trying to talk to a character before you work out the exact phrasing needed (for example: “Talk to person” wouldn’t be accepted, but “converse with person” would). This game is fiendishly difficult, but also very funny. It will make you laugh, scream in anguish, and then hate yourself, a bit like having sex with a clown. I’m not exaggerating by the way, the game is available here if you don’t believe me.

3. Aladdin

aladdin

Oh, should have mentioned, I am not doing these in any particular order, otherwise there’s no way this would be higher than Goldeneye. But it is very very good. A 2D side scrolling platformer that stands out on a console which it seemed like almost every other game was a platform game. I don’t think people can appreciate how hard it must have been for a platform game to stand out in the early 90’s. You were competing against Mario and Sonic at their peaks. The Mario games had some of the best level design in video game history, easing you into an unforgiving game with innovative gameplay that filled you with wonder, whilst Sonic went “vroom” and moved quickly. So for a game to stand out it must be truly great, and this is. I would talk about why, but I already did it here so anything I’d say would just be repeating myself. So because anything I say would be repeating myself, and I don’t like repeating myself I won’t say anything more, because I don’t like repeating myself.

2. Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World

gmid-315-ss8

Because rarely has a video game of a film been so faithful in tone to the film. Anybody who has played video game versions of films and television shows know that the games can play fast and loose with the themes of the film. For example: there’s a Doctor Who game where you play as the famous pacifist, and go around shooting and killing everyone. In Scarface, crime totally pays, and the Fight Club game has Fred Durst. This game doesn’t suffer from that. It’s a throwback game based on a film which loves 80’s video games. It’s not just the film it uses for inspiration, the graphic novel has a scene where two characters get beaten at the same time and an achievement pops up, if you recreate this in the game, the same achievement pops up. It’s little touches like that which are missing from a lot of games.

 

1. Alien Isolation.

alien

This game is terrifying, it makes the Alien scary again, which it should be. It should be a fearful beast, it shouldn’t be something you can handle with a few shots from a pistol. This game makes you fear it, and that’s wonderful. You know how highly regarded this game is? It put faith back into the franchise after Colonial Marines, a game so bad someone attempted to sue the makers, and won. Whereas that game had you running around shooting aliens by the hundreds (and just made them into another enemy), this game only has the one alien, and you can’t kill it, all you can do is hide and survive. This is the survival horror game the latest generation has been waiting for. I am in no way saying that the genre is not good anymore, just that it’s mainly indie developers doing it now, you don’t have many major releases anymore (I mean, P.T got cancelled for f*cks sake), most of the franchises people used to turn to for the genre have now changed into more action games, so it’s good to see a game where you’re completely helpless, a game where (contrary to video game logic) exploration and discovery will probably kill you.

 

So yeah, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed it, and Fuck You Konami

Why we love the Scott Pilgrim Comics (and who we’d have cast)

 

VS

Like most I saw the 2010 Edgar Wright adaption of the Scott Pilgrim comics, named after the Second volume, Scott Pilgrim vs The World, before I knew anything of the comic, and I thoroughly enjoyed it for the quirky video gamey action comedy it was. And with what little I knew about the comics I was led to believe that the film was a fairly accurate version of the Scott Pilgrim story. Having now read the series (and loved it), it is not it turns out…well not completely.

Seconds_Cover

Writt413DrfEHYBL._SX342_BO1,204,203,200_en by Bryan Lee O’Malley, I have been a fan of his work since I read his latest graphic novel, the funny and poignant Seconds, and his first graphic novel the very poignant and funny Lost at Sea; both of which are excellent. But Scott Pilgrim is his greatest achievement so far; combining fun and funny geekerific humor with an interesting story and a host of relatable characters.

tumblr_le4ojxn9qH1qao2elNow as I said the film is an action comedy, with the romance there to thread together all the epic fight scenes and video game gags, and when it comes to fights and gags the film has it fucking spot on! The look, style and tone of each fight is very true to the style of the comics, and even the tweaks and changes they made to the fights (in the comic the twins are robotic engineers not techno musicians) are very in keeping with it. There is even a lot of dialogue and scenes recreated verbatim from the comic….but (and I think you could all feel that coming) despite all these aspects (which are basically the movie) it gets right, I have come to dislike the film. This isn’t just because of all the fascinating side-character backstory and development they left out, that’s just adaption for you, or that the lead characters Scott and Ramona are fairly off (though I will get to that). It’s because it got the tone and heart of the story wrong.

scott-pilgrim-s-finest-hour-content-3
Nega Scott is also more than a last second joke

The action and comedy is right, but Scott Pilgrim isn’t an action comedy, it’s a surprisingly nuanced romantic dramedy about the trials and tribulations of mature love, and learning to accept that change is inevitable and the more you run from it the worse of a person you become (the fact all the Ex’s turn into coins (change) isn’t just because video games); with the awesome video gamey world and fights being the sprinkles on top of the cake, not the cake itself. It’s like if the 60’s Batman was the definitive adaptation of Batman; okay it got some things right but there’s more to it than that.

tumblr_n04c5zpItu1t72jf6o3_r1_1280I know and accept that when adapting a six volume series into a two hour film a lot of details are going to have to be changed and left out, but I can’t forgive that the core of the book (the maturing and the romance) was one of them! And I KNOW it’s there in the film…But Scott and Ramona’s romance is there just for motivation and plot so that the fights scenes can happen…but it’s not what the film is about. I would have been fine for them to cut one or two of the ex’s out (the twin’s being the easiest) in favor of more time to develop the romance, but nope, perish the thought of missing one minute of the nerdgasm fight scenes.

And by the end it claims that Scott has gotten better as a person, but that just feels mostly tacked on because it needed to be there not because it earned it, and don’t even get me started on Ramona’s character…actually do, because that leads me into…

aL1uAp2
aww what a sweet moment, wasn’t this so good in the….oh wait…

Who we would of cast….and I talk about characters n’ stuff.

This isn’t going to be a full cast list, as apart from the leads, I think the casting, from Scott’s friends to the Evil Ex’s, was pretty spot on all around.yrb6l4dl

The Problem with Michael Cera as Scott Pilgrim: Honestly he’s okay, not terrible just michael-ceraokay. He captured the geekiness and immaturity of Scott well enough, and was funny and likable to a point…because he was just playing Michael Cera. What he really lacked was the charm and boundless charisma Scott has, that despite his looser ways draws people to him, and makes sense how he has so many friends and ex’s. Cera is just too meek and awkward to pull that off, Scotts the loveable slacker (like Fry from Futurama really), not just an awkward dweeb. He also couldn’t connect with the emotional side of Scott, which to those who have read the series know is vital to his character, Cera always opting for a gag or funny line over a real moment (and I know that’s on Edgar Write just as much).

Rudderless-Movie-Featured-ImageAnton Yelchin as Scott Pilgrim: not a perfect fit, but the damn closest I could think of. His most famous turn as Chekov in the Star Trek reboot (that isn’t his real accent by the way) proves he can be funny, dorky, and energetic. His lead role in the enjoyable Fright Night remake shows he can lead a film with charisma and be plenty charming. And his role in the underrated romantic drama Like Crazy, more than proves he has the dramatic chops to add the depth and lonely nuance Cera sorely lacked.

 

tumblr_mlw77ioCnE1qfjcnyo1_500
Same lines but a much more adorable vibe than the film

The problem with Mary Elizabeth Winstead as Ramona Flowers: She’s just too calm lo1tk3b3faced and cool to me Ramona. The Romona Flowers’ of the comics is an emotional tornado of spunk and bad decisions, yes there is a cool hipness to her, but most of all she is an adorable, free spirited, mess, who has just as much growing up to do as Scott; that’s why you bought them together. Mary Elizabeth Winstead just looked and acted too good for Scott in the film, gone is the hyperness and vulnerability, in its place smugness and an air of sweet superiority. It always felt like she was just playing with Scott and not actually interested in him deeply.
Her character as a whole is fucking terrible when compared to the books really, but the biggest unforgivable flaw (and I know this is a problem with Edgar Wright’s adaption) is that she is never a damsel in distress in the comic! She can always take care of herself, be it fighting or running away, and that’s clearly seen most of all in that, SHE DOSEN’T GO BACK TO GIDEON! Though it’s made clear he still has an emotional hold on her, she never returns to her clearly abusive Ex like some weak willed doormat, instead leaving on her own journey of self-discovery to work out how she feels about Scott before returning to help kick Gideon’s ass together. Now I know the film came out before the comic had finished, and they did a pretty good job in predicting where the story goes and the points it needed to touch upon, but I think we all can agree Edgar Wright could of delivered something better than the old save the princess scenario. And I don’t agree “But video game!” is a valid reason.

Picture1
THAT’S MORE LIKE IT!

emma-stone-short-bob-haircutAnyway…
Emma Stone as Ramona Flowers: I don’t think I even need to go much into why this would work, we all know how good Emma Stone is, from Crazy, Stupid, Love, to Birdman; and with every way I’ve described Ramona from the comics, who else could do it better?

 

 

Picture2
The comic has quite a few quiet moments of self reflection

 

 

It wasn’t till I wrote this that I realized how quickly and how much I’ve come to dislike the movie of Scott Pilgrim, so I’ll wrap this up. If you like or even love the film, more power to you, it’s a great action comedy with more heart than I think I gave it credit for, but for those looking for something more I can’t recommend the comic book series enough. All the side characters you love get buckets more of development, especially Scott’s band mates, and his own ex’s Knives and Envy. It’s sweet, funny, and just damn fine literature; a comedy that knows the heart is something to cherish and care for, and not just pull badass katanas from.