Monday, 24 September 2007

Video Lame

With Halo in development hell and Resident Evil winging its way to the U.K. very soon (at number one in the U.S. as I write this) I think yet another Video game to film blog should be made.

Video games are evolving. Colleges are advertising degrees video games and computer science, gaming magazines are full of adverts of company's looking for designers and technology is evolving to an extremely immense state. The games are becoming more realistic in looks, the storylines are getting deeper and the argument on games as art has reached an advanced stage.

While many still consider them a menace, there is reason for that. This is because, of course games are becoming more involving. They are becoming more than 2D Sprites jumping on mushrooms and becoming worlds of their own. I remember how big Super Metroid was when I first played it...compared that to Mass Effect and you'll see how far the industry as grown.

1. They depart away from the actual material

There used to be a time when American children recognized Mario easier than Mickey Mouse (I'm guessing now it would be Master Chief). Mario was the real deal all over the world during the 80's and 90's. How many kids have those games imprinted in their head? Fuck you can now go on youtube and check out speedruns. People love Mario*, so why deviate from the original storyline? The film was shit. Real shit. It was like Bob Hoskins was in a terrible sequel to Brazil....but without the awesome visuals and ideas. The tone of the film was way out for it's target audience and everyone else was asking "what the fuck?"

The same goes for most of the VG adaptations. Double Dragon any one? Who hard is it to fuck up a game with such a straightforward story? Few things would need to be padded out but seriously, better films have been made with less of a description.

Doom? Event Horizon has a closer plot line to the original game than Doom does.
Final Fantasy? What the hell? And it was MADE BY THE COMPANY WHO MADE THE BLOODY GAME! Cold, clinical and light years away from what made the games interesting.
Stick to the material and all would be well....or maybe....

2. They stick TOO close to the material.

Silent Hill Film is very faithful to the games. From the plot to the visuals and characters. It's almost like your following a character in the game. Problem is it's like watching someone else play the game. Silent Hill is famed for it's puzzles as well as it's horror and the film shows far too much of Radha Mitchell wandering around searching for clues, not talking to anyone and shoddy explanation near the end of the film. The film itself is actually not bad but these small moments detach the viewer keeps them at a distance. We as fickle viewers/gamers want the film to engage us as well as be faithful. Bastards aren't we?

3 Uwe Boll.

With his unique way of funding and Ed Wood-esque zeal. Boll is on a mission to make as many video game adaptations as possible. However from what I've watched of his output, you see that Boll is trying to make game adaptations as badly as possible. Boll's films are cobbled together as quickly as possible and no quality checks seem to be made on the script or the rushes. From what I've seen, his films are bad, almost so bad they're good. Boll himself comes off as an arrogant twat. Beating up his detractors for publicity, throwing his toys out of the pram when criticised. The more I read about him the more he comes off like one of those asshole message boarders he hates.

I don't want to say too much about this guy. Watch the movies, see for yourself....and he's the guy making the most video game adaptations.

And yes even though there are flashes of the game throughout that shot, that's pretty much the only thing that links the film to the game (that and the name).

4. Lazy Casting

I must admit Jolie as Lara Croft makes sense but Tara Reid (Alone in the dark)? Clint Howard (House of the dead)? The Bunch of wannabe nobodies in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation? Maybe if they got the right people for the right parts then the films may fair better. But this could be because...

5. The filmmakers usually don't give a shit about the project.

Comic books had to die a cinematic death before people realised that if you give the material to writers and directors that are interested in bringing about the vision of the original material to life then good things can come of it. Spiderman, Batman Begins, Sin City, the writers and directors have a certain respect for the people they are making the film for. Superman returns didn't make the splash that people want but Bryan Singer still managed to give an interesting story about a hero who has lost is place in his own world (Singer loves that idea of finding identity). Paul W.S Anderson (not Magnolia) is hated by most video game fans. But at least he tries to give fans what they want. Mortal Kombat was very close to the game, and Resident Evil has it's bashers it is much closer to the games than people give it credit for. If you still don't believe me then fine but the final moments of the first film have more passion about the games than ALL of that Super Mario Bros film. Those fuckers didn't even get Yoshi right. Pricks. Anyway. Peter Jackson gets hold of the Halo project and seems to have a basic understanding of how Halo should be and what happens? Oh no....too expensive. The fact that people got hyped over THAT toy movie and went in droves to watch it tells me that Halo would do just fine about now.

6. Critics just don't understand.

Now I'm not a critic basher per say. In fact I enjoy reading reviews (most of the time). But many reviewers like Roger Ebert have clearly never played a recent game before and never will. In fact I could swear most serious reviewers hate video games in general. I feel many of the films never have a chance in the first place. The video game movie is at times reminiscent of the modern horror film. It has an uphill struggle before it even starts to run. Reviewers like to talk a good game (no bad pun intended) about bias but many of course their reviews tell a different story. Their talk of sensible plots and in depth characters can seem silly to true game fans who just want to see the right incarnation of the material.

7. Fans are fickle

Lets not beat around the bush guys. We are wankers when it comes to crap like this. Look at the list I've written. We want too much. The perfect video game for me would be flexible enough to give the story and characters room to breathe but still have enough time to kick loads of ass. The director and scriptwriter must be die hard fans of the material but understand that you can't just make it exactly like the game...etc. Well we want it perfect don't we. To be honest, I feel Paul W.S Anderson did well with the original Mortal Kombat and did ok with Resident Evil. I also Feel Christopher Gans produced an uneven but creepy looking Silent Hill (ash snow visuals + assorted FUCKED up creatures = awesome). Fact is many are looking for this fantastic adaptation of their favorite games which they spent hours completing when they could be playing them again.

So there we have it folks. The reasons why Video Games "aren't right" in my opinion. Despite my dislike for the shoddy treatment of Double Dragon, Street Fighter, Super Mario Bros, Alone in the Dark, Doom, House of the dead, Resident Evil 2....etc. You know that I'll be like 700th in line for Gears of War or something and I'll still have something to bitch about. With this said, think about what I said before. The games are evolving. The stories are becoming more involved than their Hollywood counterparts. Halo's religious overtones, intense fire fights and epic scale, wipe the floor with such "great" ideas such as...fuck it do I have state some? Take your pick.

*Expect for my grinchy mate Richie. Who claims he likes games....but hates Nintendo

Sunday, 16 September 2007

Close to the bone

Surfing the net as you do, your bound to read something that annoys you somewhat. Be it reading a youtube comment which states that "all niggers should be shoved in jail" to another front bottom being flashed by Paris Lohan or whoever, which will be followed by every girl like everywhere. That's life I guess. The point iis the last thing to annoy me on the net was Ben Afflecks directional debut Gone Baby Gone being postponed.

The film is set in Boston and deals with two investigators who are hunting for an abducted child.
First of all what happened in Portugal is an upsetting tragedy. The disappearance of the child must bear a heavy weight on the parents and their brief moment of negligence has brought about a terrible cloud on their lives. With this said despite it's subject matter being so very close to the case, this movie shouldn't be halted from release because it may or may not hit close to the bone.

The film (which was filmed last year) and the disappearance of Madeleine McCann have just so happened to coincide with each other and while this is unfortunate for those who who may be close to the family and those who are sensitive about art being so close to reality but why keep the film away from the public eye until the case is forgotten about? Considering the distributor is Buena Vista International and the director is still quite a recognisable star (despite not being as bankable) I do believe the film will make its way out onto our shores later on next year. But why delay on a subject that is still on peoples lips months on?

There's been many films in history that have sparked debate and brought around insight for many reasons. Films such as Birth of a Nation (KKK) and The Triumph of will (Nazis) have made a huge imprint in film for many reasons. Their outlook on their subject matter have caused great discussion and they can't be ignored no matter what evil may lay behind the message. It's important that some films, despite the subject matter become educational pinpoints; creative moments that show how we've developed since.

Some films can become talking points and standout issues of the society in which they are set in. Gus Van Sants Elephant sparked controversy with it's subject matter of gun violence. It ignited the gun control debate yet again and may have allegedly sparked shootings afterward. While it disturbs me that there are a minority of people who can become greatly affected by what they see or hear and act upon it in violence, films like Elephant hint that these issues may come a little deeper than a person simply watching Oldboy and playing Doom.

Many could argue that the film coming out at this time is merely too soon. But I would like to argue maybe it feels this way due to media exploitation. Every day the tabloids have brought us fresh "facts" about this case. So much so that other tragedies have come and have quickly faded out of few. The awful tragedy of Rhyes Jones says a lot about our society of escalating gun crime however the issues around that have almost vanished without a trace. The media were quick to heap onto our new violent culture but nothing was done when Nick Love's Outlaw sneaked into the cinema earlier this year. In fact Love's obsession with gangsters, violence and youth in his films such as The Football Factory and The Business don't seem to have been commented on much at all. Add to the fact that Love supposedly based Outlaw on news articles and peoples true stories it's surprising that nothing was said let alone done.

Back to my original point on the media...we are given massive two page spreads stating that we should remember Maddie. This is a good point considering the same paper has probably spent 6 to 8 pages sprouting hearsay. Much like the Princess Diana case we are told how people are pigs for what they may be doing to the memory however the "viewpoint" to many seems that another Diana spread will sell a few more papers. While film is a business and Gone baby Gone's first objective is to make money the story was extremely relevant to our times in the first place and for Affleck to pick a story such as this is an interesting aspect. He clearly sees something in the story worth telling.

But will others wish to see it? That of course is another story. But one that the masses should really be allowed to decide. A black man such as myself isn't going to be looking out for KKK websites to check out the hate am I? In the same vein I've had friends face moments in their life which would make Eli Roth wince. However that doesn't mean I won't sit down and watch Hostel.It's that piece of mind that we have that allows you to make a choice. As sensitive as the subject is, I do not feel that we should be babied into or out of a situation. This postponement shows to me that people don't believe we can't make up our minds. If there's something we do not like the look of we avoid it. It's fight or flee a very basic instinct of our nature. Why delay something like this and soften the blow when the release of the film would spark fresh debate when the irons hot? Many topical/controversial movies can be on point and strong contenders for critical praise and discussion between cinephiles and average joes. However this cannot happen if films are being apprehended and banned before viewing.

My issue is if Gone Baby Gone could cause a great effect then the film will vanish without a trace. If it was to become a hit, it would be because: A. people would want to see insight into what may happen in a child abduction case. B. The reviews were good and Affleck has made a generally affecting film. C. The trailer has made the film something people would like to see. The filmmakers aren't making money off of people's pain and if they were, it would be extremely clear for all of us to see.

And before we even start to think it's in poor taste for the McCann family. Do you think at this moment in time that that family give a damn about a Hollywood film while their child is missing?

Wednesday, 12 September 2007

Reason's why I'm not a Tim Burton fan

I don't hate the guy....but I can't say I love him either. No doubt any true lover of the man who just happens to stumble on this blog will bitch about how ill informed I am. Fair times I hate it when someone has a different opinion than myself too.

1. His ego:

I hate it when people bitch about Quintin Tarantino or another young up and coming director/writer and their egos. However most if not all Tim Burton films are about him. And it's usually kooky Gothic loner crap. From Beetlejuice to Sleepy hollow Ichabod Crane. "oh I'm such an outsider!" He screams achingly as he cast Johnny Depp again to play yet another version of himself. Even the passable yet over rated love letter to hollywood Ed Wood is just another reason for Mr Burton to scream "LOOK AT ME!" Film Directors have always placed their passions and desires and fears on screen and we see Burton's love letter to himself every time. That's why you see Depp in the role thats clearly about the director. He's the gothic loner type with this bizarre/kooky talent the same way M Night Shamalamadingdong is going to save the world from wicked critics with his films. Not a bad thing I suppose, all directors do it. But look how lambasted guys like Spielberg get when they do it. But at least Spielberg has range.

2. He gets away with Batman Forever:

Quite simply. Joel Schumacher takes a lot of stick for his' two batman films While Burton (a producer for Batman Forever) gets away scott free as his two batman films were considered "brilliant". A. He had a producer credit on the film so he could have stepped in. you can still clearly see some aspects of the first two Batmans in Forever while you see none in Batman and Robin. B. His batman films weren't really that great. But that's what you get when you hire Burton whose notorious for disliking Comics (lil more on that later)

3. Henry Slick gets no credit:

I've never wanted to see a nightmare before Christmas and I'm far too old to really give a toss (it seems like only kids and 20 something girls enjoy the film)But Tim Burton's name is plastered all over a film that was directed by someone else. Worse thing is when someone states they're not a fan of Tim Burton that first thing someone says is "WHAT!?? NOT EVEN A NIGHTMARE BEFORE CHRISTMAS!" Yes I know he had a crap load to do with it etc etc but Spielberg had a shit load to do with The Goonies and Back to the Future and Donner and Zemerics get enough credit respectively.

4. Spooky Trees (looky-likey films):

Don't mind a bit of gothic horror. But his love for hammer horror and german expressionism has got to the stage where angry imdb boarders clutter up good web space denouncing fun little films like Lemony Snicket because "Burton would have done it better". I will say he has made the goth look his own (to a point). An example would be Sweeny Todd, his new film, which doesn't feel that much different from the borefest that was Sleepy Hollow... The story is different but once again we have a kooky outsider thing with spooky trees everywhere and Helena Bonham Carter/Johnny Depp (either or depending on the film) looking glum. I think the reason why I love Big Fish (one of his more derided films) more is because he took more risks with that film than most of his others. You could see that throughout that film.

5. Willy Wonka was not a pedo:

Johnny Depp plays Wonka like Mike Jackson circa late 90's. Burton doesn't reign him in because he thinks that's how it should be played. It never felt like that in the book. It didn't feel like that in the first film. Why do it now? Plus with such a blatant child toucher why is it that the buckets let him come near his children? If you had to shit on my childhood Mr B you could have at least put Christopher Walken in the role.

6. The Kevin Smith Beef:

Yes. you can see the film web geek in me now can't you? If you watch the DVD an evening with Kevin Smith you will hear a tale involving Planet of the apes, a comic book and Tim Burton allegedly being an arse. Now I've only heard one side of the story, it's smith side clearly. But he argument is funny and sounds truthful ya know? Read a little about it here: However it is wikipedia so it's best to watch the DVD.

7. He fucked up Batman:

Going back slightly. While his style really suited Batman (credit where it's due)His disregard for the material can clearly be seen from his treatment of the main character. He doesn't read comics (he's mentioned this more than once)But spies a "kooky" character in The Joker and away we go. Taking the shift of Keaton's Bruce Wayne/Batman and placing more focus on Nickleson mugging to Prince songs....however I can't remember Keaton being good in either film he was that forgetful/overshadowed.

8. She auditioned for the part? She got it?!?!?! What a surprise:

This is just me being an arsehole now but I do think when your fucking the director and you've been in the last four films of've got a good bet on that Sweeny Todd role, singing or not..

9. Planet of the apes:

Not just the ending.....The bland action, the naff casting (Estella Warren anyone?)The dull story...and yes the bloody ending. Tim Roth was awesome to give credit but Planet of the apes....Yeah...what the fuck was that about?

Honorable Mentions:
Batman Returns: Don't think it's as good as other make out.
Beetlejuice: Uneven in places and not as fun as I remember
Edward Sissorhands: I really tried to like this but I just felt "meh" at the end

Counter Point:
I have always found things I've liked in his movies but other aspects usually bog them down. Films like Beetlejuice were fun when I was younger but I found myself extremely bored during the first half after watching it again. However my enjoyment of Big fish will always get me thinking wanting to watch his next film. I do look forward to Sweeny Todd.
Also while I'm not a fan of his ego, I do believe it's important that good directors have a good amount of self confidence.

Overall....I may become a fan one day, but lets see what the future holds.

Thursday, 6 September 2007

The Welcome Page

Hey there party people. Welcome to Byron's Film Blog. An area in which the reader will have the chance to read the ramblings of a post grad film student with delusions of grandeur. Expect the days to come to be full of foul mouth grumblings or hyper-active praise on the art form we call cinema.

Don't take my optionated views to much to heart. Just read um, try and have a laugh, and maybe give a quick comment?

I will be very soon uploading my views on the Spike Lee films that I own and post them one at a time for all to see.

I won't however be watching Girl 6 ever again. What the hell was that about?

Good Times

Leslie Byron Pitt