The dog without an owner as an allegory for a Ronin (masterless Samurai) is a cute find, and while arguably the best looking of Wes Anderson’s films yet, the choice to have the Japanese characters speak unsubtitled Japanese, but have both the dogs and the Americans speak perfect English is peculiar.

It should’ve either been a Charlie Brown type of thing, where you could only understand the dogs and all humans speak unintelligible gibberish, or they should’ve just done everyone in English, even the Japanese characters. That would’ve been fine. No one complains that Beauty and the Beast isn’t in French. The way it’s done now Anderson & Co. write themselves into the corner where they’re forced to create American human characters to make the story work, because the Japanese can’t give any expositional dialogue, and in doing so they make all the Japanese characters semi-idiots, since the dogs (English) and the americans (English) are destined to do all the heavy lifting in the story. It seems insensitive, because you keep wondering ‘Wait, am I supposed to laugh at them?’. I don’t think that’s the intent at all, but the fact that you’re not sure is curious. I don’t really feel like laughing at an entire culture.

For a love letter to Japan and Japanese Cinema, it also feels a little easy, as all the Japanese culture portrayed in the movie is just the greatest hits of Japanese culture as chosen by white people (they use actual music from Seven Samurai) and it never delves any deeper than that.

Wes Anderson has never been a filmmaker with nuanced portrayals of foreign cultures, and his movies rarely pass the Bechdel test, but in the current climate, he could’ve done better. His films might be set in a world locked in some gorgeously preserved bygone era, Anderson as a filmmaker should keep up with the times.

I’ve never even read the book. I know people who have, they liked it, and it’s apparently a ton of fun. I’ve seen some people put it down online as being a badly written list of ’80s stuff its writer Ernest Cline likes, catering just to nerds in a self-esteem short supply who need the obscure-knowledge parts of their ego’s stroked. Perhaps, but I know of at least one person who isn’t that trivia-ish and who thought it was a thrilling book, so I guess it’s pretty well written too. I’m not gonna discuss the book though, I’m gonna discuss the movie.

From frame one of the first teaser trailer, blaring Rush’s Tom Sawyer (apparently and unsurprisingly one of the writer’s fav songs) in the background and throwing vehicles from other movies into our eyeballs at 24fps, it was clear: Warner Brothers spared no expense (Hey! I made a reference!) and pulled out all the stops on their licensing budget. Even though they couldn’t get parties like Disney to join up (Han Solo’s belt is all we get to see of the world’s most important pop-culture franchise) there’s still more geekery crammed into Steven Spielberg’s Ready Player One than there’s probably ever been in a movie. Every frame is like a full season of Stranger Things. And I’ll be honest. I love that stuff. I love the obvious in yo’ face references like the The Shining sequence (showing that in the right hands, a parody movie is actually not a bad idea at all) and the exo-armour from Mobile Suit Gundam showing up to serve some ass kickery in the final battle, I love the hard to find stuff like the Excalibur poster on Halliday’s bedroom wall and the mention of Gary Gygax’ name as a game location, I love the homages like using the same types of guns as they use in Inception when they do the simulation-within-a-simulation sequence. But I don’t really go to the movies to see bits and pieces of other movies. That’s what Youtube is for. (I guess? What is Youtube for actually?) I don’t watch Stranger Things because there’s a synthesizer in the soundtrack and they dress up as Ghostbusters. I go to the movies to see a story that I like. That entertains me, makes me think, and moves me emotionally. Preferably as many of those three as possible within a single project. Stranger Things has got the first and third one down, and Ready Player One (thank God, ’cause I’ve been defending it on twitter before it came out) isn’t just entertaining. It’s a legitimate entry into the pantheon of Spielberg’s sci-fi masterpieces.

The Guardians of the Galaxy soundtrack and the omnipresence of Stranger Things further enforced what we all already realised. We’re living in an age of nostalgia. There’s a third fucking Expendables. Generation Y, the Millennials, or whatever we’re supposed to be called, as well as the final bunch of those Gen X kids, grew up behind a cartoon spewing TV set, and were the first to grow up with the internet. Before grown-ups could figure out what this internet was to be used for, we spent the ’90s and early Naughties filling her up with fan sites, top lists, and came together on forums to discuss whether or not Ghân-buri-Ghân would show up in Return of the King. He didn’t. Now we’re old enough to be a major force in what drives the world’s economy, and what do we buy? Backpacks shaped like PlayStation 1’s, Yoda shaped Christmas tree ornaments (real glass), and a Raspberry Pi that lets us give getting through that Terminator 2 video game another shot. Nostalgia’s become an industry that can rival any other, and with the dominance of Kevin Feige’s crew at the box office it seems clear that yes, the nerds have won.

So what have we won? As the Babyboomers use their dotage to sell the last of the Earth’s natural resources to whoever drills up the most oil, we find ourselves in rental houses, searching for jobs, and not really making a dent in the world even when we try to. (Don’t @ me with exceptions, I’m painting with a broad-ass brush here. OF COURSE there are exceptions.) Growing up has let us down big-time, and now we’re barely thirty and already filled with more nostalgia than most of the grey-haired population of the world. We’re not happy here and we want to leave. ENTER STAGE LEFT: POP CULTURE.

Escapism is turning into the doom of our age. As we’re unequipped to deal with actual problems, we hide away in safe places like Nakatomi Plaza, the world of Warcraft and the Forest of Fangorn, and the longer we stay there, the longer we’re happy, but the less equipped we become to succeed in anything when we finally go back outside and breathe in the smog of a world in decline. Even socio-political matters have become the stuff pop-culture is made of: Jon Stewart is as much a portrait to be printed on a hoodie as Robocop is. Click here to see Trudeau’s Star Wars socks. We’re living in a world where Trump is compared to Jabba, not the other way around. Fantasy is the measure by which we value reality. But that’s a bar reality will never reach. I’m a filmmaker by profession, which basically means I’ve managed to make a living out of not making a real living. Escapism is where all my talents lie. Boy am I a millennial. And boy are there a lot of would be artists in my generation. If the Pixar protagonist can do it, so can we, right? ‘Anyone can cook’, right? And would I be happy making popculture for the popcorn popping screenagers of the world for the rest of my life? Damn straight I would. Halliday, the big friendly giant of the world of Ready Player One (Remember Ready Player One? It’s a movie. This article is about it), is clearly one of my contemporaries. Unfit for real life, he hid away in comic books and walkthrough vids, and found a following in the one place where he never had to lead.

Ready Player One is a fun ride, sure, maybe the fun ride, but there’s a bleak goddamn dystopian vision at the core of it. Nostalgia is pure love, but it’s also somewhat of a cultural rot, an Alzheimer’s of humanity, where it’s becoming harder and harder to keep up with whatever the world’s turning into now, and we keep dredging up something we goddamn loved in ’86. (It’s Aliens. I was talking about Aliens. God, I love that movie.) If we follow whatever’s happening with the Oculus Rift and stuff like that to their eventual outcome I’m sure we’ll end up with Oasis-ish technology in the future, but Ready Player One doesn’t even have to play the ‘look at what could become’ card. Ready Player One is now. Netflix is the Oasis. Marvel vs. DC is the Oasis. Fuckin’ facebook’s the Oasis. But facebook’s also IOI. Google is IOI. There’s Oasisses (what’s the plural of Oasis?) and IOI’s everywhere. And we’re letting it happen ’cause the alternative is worse. We keep chompin’ down on the whopper, cause the effort of being a vegan is just too much of a hassle (it is) and there’s like just too much stuff goin’ on in my life to deal with all of that right now, you guys! So we keep eating and eating, and now we’re just eating because we’re eating. The screen is a drug administered through the retina.

Once we’re addicted, the actual love starts to wane. Was it just a crush? We’re now defending the original Total Recall because, well, because. It’s just the best, it just is, I’m telling you. And the new one is the absolute worst ever and it isn’t even a movie! Childhood raped everything raped. We’re becoming more and more narrow minded. In need of a cigarette. Now. No, I’m not addicted. It’s just that one you can have after dinner, you know, to wash the dirty taste of food off your tongue. That sound’s like an addiction to me. Because what if you have to let go? What if Luke becomes old, makes mistakes and hides on an Island? What if Total Recall wasn’t really all that great? What if you just loved it for its silliness? What of your heroes now? What if women want a piece of the action? Pop has become toxic. You’ve been hiding away from life by investing in the fandom, and now the fandom is falling apart at the seams. Are you watching Blade Runner: The Final Cut because you love it or because you’re supposed to? Because knowing Rutger Hauer’s soliloquy by heart earns you a place in the club house so you won’t have to deal with the fact that if those fucking taxes don’t go up, we’re all going down with them. I bet you weren’t even alive when Blade Runner came out. I sure as hell wasn’t. Have we artificially created nostalgia as a defence mechanism? Have I really been watching all those ’80s movies since I was 7? I doubt my mom let me put on The Thing as a kid now that I think about it. I wonder how many of the Oasis’ top avatars in Ready Player One actually like The Shining. I wonder how many never read the book. Why are they obsessed with the ’80s in the first place? They were born in like 2029. Do they just watch it because Halliday loved it? Is it status, a badge? And don’t you dare dissin’ the Kubrick, man. He’s the best. Did you know he shot Barry Lyndon all with available light? Well he did! Let me tell you how!

On first glance Ready Player One might feel like a big-ass thing of candy floss. Where you ask the guy in the booth for the Extra Large, ’cause the eyes are always hungrier than what the stomach can, well, stomach, and once you’re about a third of the way into it you just want to die. It looks like too much of a good thing. The Oasis looks like fun, the characters look like fun, the action looks like fun. Hey, it’s fucking Chucky! Even the ‘dystopian’ real world is too much fun. They’re still handsome action heroes fighting an evil empire in a resistance. Even the real world is a Spielberg movie. But then that’s the point, isn’t it? The dystopia of Ready Player One isn’t The Stacks, it’s the Oasis that’s the dystopia. Pop culture is the world that’s been pulled over our eyes to blind you from the truth. “What truth?” That you are a slave, Neo. Like everyone else you were born into bondage. Into a prison that you cannot taste or see or touch. A prison, for your mind. Pre-order the blu-ray now on Amazon.com. Do you want fries with that?

I went to The Last Jedi opening night and I really liked it, but thought it was very weird, a little uneven in tone, and that it possibly had a little too many twists. But I knew Rian Johnson as a filmmaker, having been a huge fan ever since Brick came out (which you should see, it’s a goddamn masterpiece), so I expected that there’d be more too it. I went on the twitter and was overwhelmed with people who hated it. Some dickwad even yelled #RianRapedUs. An actual person. Possibly with a job and kids and the right to vote. A man felt like he was raped by a movie. Can you even imagine? I hope not, because if you can you’re probably gonna leave some nasty comment. Humans really suck, don’t they?

But as the day progressed I started finding more and more positive reactions. People who loved it, people who thought it was the best. I found some in depth articles really diving into the thematics of the thing, and as I thought about the movie more and more I started to peel away the layers, the Porg jokes (#teamporg btw) and the story as it is presented to the audience on the surface level of the movie, looking at what was underneath, and the thing just became better and better and better.

Quick sidebar here: Did you remember Shrek looking that bad? It’s like a cutscene from a video game version of Shrek. It’s insane. Anyway. Where was I? Oh yeah, The Last Jedi. SPOILERS from here on in.

The way I see it The Last Jedi is about unforeseeable consequences. That’s the theme of this particular chapter in the Star Wars saga. A sentence that is repeated during the film is about ‘the spark that will light the fire’. The butterfly effect (not the Ashton Kutcher joint, but the actual effect). Everything you do has a billion results. One of them might be what you were hoping to achieve, but it might just as well not be. Failure is a natural part of life. It’s how we grow and learn. That’s even stated pretty literally by Yoda in his great little scene. But there’s more to an action than what you hope to archieve. That’s the butterfly effect.

Whew, that was a weird movie.

Rey’s main objective in The Last Jedi is to defeat Kylo Ren, preferably by turning him back towards the light side of the force. This fails. She doesn’t beat him in a fight, she doesn’t turn him. But there’s a TON of unforeseeable consequence to her actions. She pulls Luke back into the force, she defeats supreme leader snoke, she becomes a Jedi and even ends up igniting a spark (Luke’s stand-off with the empire on Crait) that will light the fire (all the little boys and girls on every planet inspired by this heroic tale) that will burn the First Order down.

Finn tries to save Rey (‘Cuz they in love, and don’t even try to tell me otherwise) but the unforeseeable consequence of that failed little plan is that he meets up with Rose, together they try to find another way to save the entire Rebellion (not just Rey) by finding a codebreaker, the unforeseeable consequence of which is that they end up freeing a bunch of tortured dog-horses, ripping a bunch of rich assholes a new one by destroying a casino and show a bunch of slave kids that there is a different life out there, a life free from the whips of Snoke’s nazi-bitches. They end up igniting a spark (their daring adventures on Canto Bight) that will light the fire (those same kids who will become rebels when the chance is there) that will burn the First Order down.

As Luke descents further into his fear of the dark side, Yoda turns up in all his muppety greatness and tells him that failing is fine. In fact, most of the characters in this movie fail in what they were originally trying to do, except for maybe Benicio Del Toro and Rose’s sister on the bomber in the opening battle. But I doubt Benicio’s character even had a plan to fail, he just went with the flow of it, and Paige Tico might have destroyed the Dreadnought, but seeing as she died, it didn’t really go as she thought it would. All of this is, I think, where most of the hate towards the movie came from. Not one of the main characters succeeds in anything they try to do in this movie. This is quite possibly the most depressing blockbuster ever made if you look at it that way. The only real fun is derrived from the Porgs, who are also the only characters in the movie who never try to do anything. They are literally without goals of motivations. Which is why the can’t fail. I don’t think haters realise that this is what’s going on, that this is why they dislike it, but subconciously that’s why they’re unfulfilled, because they came to see the classic hero’s journey, the three acts and the triumph at the end. But, as Poe learns throughout the film: It’s not about what you tried to do at all, it’s about what your actions end up accomplishing. That’s what’s important. It’s not about flyboys. It’s about the future of a galaxy. The lesson to take away from all of this madness is to be mindful, not just of your goals, but of every unforeseeable consequence the pursuit of those goals might have. Even throwaway jokes like the rock Rey chops off crushing through the little wheelbarrow seems like it’s about nothing, but that too is unforeseeable consequence, and ends up being a small step in teaching Rey to be mindful as she should be. Is it time to dive into the Force now? I think it is.

The force is what connects everything, the force is what binds the universe together, and the force is the only way to understand those consequences, those unforeseeable reactions to every action. This is what Luke learns in the movie, and why he decides to stand up to Kylo Ren all on his own.

I’m gonna do a short Force sidebar here, because I feel like a lot of people maybe misinterpret the force. Anakin was prophecised to bring balance to the force, and a lot of people think that the balance means equal amounts of light side and dark side. And this is not wrong, but it is also not the entirety of it. In Rey’s meditation on Ahch-to she sees the peace that belongs to the light side of the force, and the chaos that belongs to the dark side, and the balance between it all. But for things to be in balance, shouldn’t they be in peace? Yes they should. There are two balances at work here. The balance between all things, the force itself, destruction, creation, light, dark, fear and love (Note to self: I need to watch Donnie Darko again). But there is another balance, which is the light side of the force. The light side is the balancing side, it represents peace, it constantly tries to balance everything out, to create a calm, an equilibrium. The dark side represents chaos, it is the un-balancing force. Life isn’t in perfect balance and peace all the time, it in a balance between balance and unbalance. I know I’m sounding like a late sixties George Harrison now, but stay with me. A lot of people ask “But how can Anakin bring balance if he destroys the Sith, shouldn’t he destroy all but two Jedi to bring balance? Then you have two sith and two Jedi. Ergo: Balance.” Some will even go as far as saying that’s exactly what he did do. He killed all the Jedi except for Obi and Yoda, so you have two Sith and two Jedi. But that’s not the balance that was prophecised. The balance that was prophecised was that of the light side. The balancing side. It was to bring an end to the power of the dark side which caused too much chaos, unbalancing the galaxy from its equilibrium between peace and chaos. And that doesn’t happen until the end of Return of the Jedi, when little Ani Hulk Hogans the shit out of Palpatine and throws him down a shaft before dying himself. That’s the end of the Sith, the end of the tumor that made the dark side grow larger than it should.

Now that there are no more Sith, the dark side and the light side are in balance again. But why don’t a bunch of Jedi make the light side too strong? Because that’s not what the light side does. The light side is a wall, the dark side a battering ram. If the battering ram is too strong, the wall falls. If the wall is too strong, nothing happens, the battering ram can keep on battering. That’s the balance of the force.

Now what Luke had learned during his exile was that the powers of the Jedi and the Sith weren’t the only forces at work. The Sith are just a random religion with a strong connection to the dark side and the Jedi are just a random religion with a strong connection to the light side. But these were just cults. That kid on Canto Bight wasn’t a Jedi. Maz Kanata wasn’t a Jedi. In fact, the Jedi kind of failed in what they were trying to do. They became too organised. A bureaucratic mess. They were so arrogant and wrapped up in themselves they couldn’t even see the sith cancer grow right in front of them. Luke is afraid when Rey drifts towards the dark when they’re meditating. Afraid that Rey will be tempted, lured in by the ways of the Sith. But the dark side is not the Sith, and even still, Rey has no interest in power, Rey has no fear of being left alone, she’s been left alone her whole life, if the whole galaxy falls apart and only she is left she’ll find a way to make it work, that’s how she’s always done it. The dark side cannot lure her in ’cause it holds nothing of interest for her. That’s why she’s our hero.

Wrapping everything up, Luke sacrifices his exile and chooses to become the hero he feels he isn’t (due to some small failures in his otherwise heroic life) just so he can become that spark the rebellion needs so much, Poe sacrifices his heroism to be able to fight another day in the fire that Luke’s spark has lit, Rey goes through the same thing as Luke and sacrifices her exile on Jakku, the possible return of her parents to become the centrepiece of that fire, and Finn sacrifices himself and his personal goals of not having to fight to become the rebel hero that will help that fire grow. They all sacrificed what they thought they had to be doing for the benefit of the entire galaxy, and those lessons could have only be learned from the unforeseeable consequences that came from their failed actions. Yoda says that failure is important for growth, and the unforeseeable consequences are unforeseeable, they could not have been known.

This is why The Last Jedi deserves a second look, this is why it defies all expectations. The Force Awakens was such an easy watch, like a soft rug that you could sit on to enjoy yourself and feel comfortable with all the characters. It is precisely that rug that The Last Jedi needed to be able to pull it out from under you. This is what a sequel should be. These two movies make each other better.

You know what the difference is between a person who is aware of the consequences of their actions and a person who isn’t? It’s the difference between an adult and a child. In the hands of Rian Johnson, the Star Wars franchise has literally grown up.

So some cool men have been looking at the trailer for my movie Molly and were apparently super threatened by it? How in the Good Lord’s sweet name is the patriarchy to survive now that there’s a little tiny indie movie out there with a female lead!? THINK OF THE CHILDREN.

At least Sci-clops likes it.

5. High Fidelity

Am I the biggest John Cusack fan? No. Am I a fan? Not particularly. But I never dislike him. At any rate, this film kicks ass. Mostly because the main character is a compulsive list-maker (Coincidence? I THINK NOT!)

In this scene Cusack is trying to hide from his ex girlfriend by jumping into some bushes and landing in the mud. Classic comedy. I couldn’t find a picture of him in the mud, so I added one of him in the rain, but since mud is 50% water, I guess I’m halfway there and that should be good enough for all of us. Moving on…

 

4. Apocalypse Now

I’ve heard say that Apocalypse Now should feature in every movie top-list ever. But I’ve heard say the same about Citizen Kane and I couldn’t think of any excuse to put that movie in here, due to a disappointing lack of mud, so I guess the people who do the saying which I will then hear, are often full of shit. Apocalypse now however, does have a place in this list, and I bring up the image above as exhibit number one. Apocalypse Now is of course among the greatest movies ever made, and scores arguably just above Britney Spears’ Crossroads.

Query: Is Platoon a prequel?

 

3. Predator

I ain’t got time to write a bit on Predator in a way that references its many awesome oneliners.

 

2. Jurassic Park

The four commandments of great filmmaking:

  • Night
  • Rain
  • Dinosaurs
  • Jeff Goldblum (not pictured)

 

1. Seven Samurai

I couldn’t find a color image from Seven Samurai, presumably because the world was still in black and white in 1954, but this film is arguably the mother, father, grandpa, ancestor and second cousin thrice removed of any modern action movie. This bitch got everything: Epic battles, drama, comedy, characters, cinematography to make you give up filmmaking yourself, everything needed to keep you locked to the screen for it’s relatively long running time of 18 weeks. My Gosh, that’s almost as long as that sentence was!

I should admit that, most of the time, I can barely work up the interest to keep up to date with what my closest friends are doing, especially on social media. I mostly just read up on Marvel movie rumours and whatever’s going on with Henry Cavill’s moustache today. Answer: A lot.

And why would I care about what my friends’ friends’ friends’ friends’ page like is up to? Because on Facebook, that’s really all I get to see. ‘Did you know so and so’s sister twice removed just befriended Random McJoe?’ No I didn’t because I’m aware of the existence of neither of those people. Zuckerberg made the right move buying Whatsapp and Instagram, because at least they’re the ones that are actually stuff your friends are doing, instead of just some company trying to get you to buy, in my case, a Star Wars sweater.

And even Insta’s getting worse. You know when you’re browsing Instagram Stories (which is already Instagram’s most annoying feature because it’s just a collection of every picture too fuckin’ ugly to save for longer than a day) and suddenly an ad pops up just as if the corporation is one of your buds, hoping you buy another fuckin Star Wars sweater and and you just close the app. You don’t wait it out to see the other stories by your actual ‘friends’, assuming they are friends. Who stays to watch the ad all the way through?

Nobody.

Who the fuck wants to put in a lot of effort for social media. Social media was invented for one reason, which is to make it easier to look cool. Nobody wants to work hard to seem cool. If it was worth the effort people wouldn’t use social media in the first place. They’d do it in real life. But do you know how hard it is to look cool in real life? Superhard. In real life you need to look good every second from every angle to be cool. On social media it’s just one picture, one funny comment.

That’s it though, innit? That’s why social media exists: So you can seem kinda cool for a tenth of the effort from the comfort of your own home for the measly cost of a polyester Star Wars sweater.

I discussed X-men movies with my VFX Supervisor, Robin.

 

T:
Just got back from Days of Future Past. Probably the best since X2. It’s really about discrimination and fear again, instead of about superpowers.
R:
Yeah, after a couple of movies they just sort of throw those themes out the window. First Class tried to find them again.
T:
Last Stand has the themes more than First Class.
R:
Does not!
T:
Does too!
R:
Let us make an X-Men toplist.

 

T:
In 7th place I have X-Men: First Class.
R:
Really?
T:
Of all the franchises I grew up with X-Men the most. The comics, the TV show, now the movies. More than Star Wars, more than any other geek thing that I was far too into. And to me, Matthew Vaugn doesn’t get X-Men. He makes fun movies, but they’re not X-Men. Vaugn has far too much fun. But X-Men isn’t Avengers. X-Men isn’t fun. X-Men is about discrimination and racism, about fear, loneliness and group behaviour. It’s like Vaugn just wanted to make a Bond movie.
R:
This is nothing like Bond.
T:
It’s in the sixties, they’re all secret agents with cool gadgets and fly suits. They’re too cool in a way. My problem with Matthew Vaugn’s X-Men is a bit like your problem with the JJ Abrams Star Trek movies. They’re fun, but they’re not Star Trek. I didn’t grow up with Star Trek, so it’s all fine by me.
R:
But those are discriminatingly bad! But I understand the comparison. I really liked Magneto in First Class though.
T:
Yeah, Magneto’s storyline was great. But I had a problem with most of the other mutants. Banshee and Angel, the girl who spits fireballs. Those aren’t cool powers. Especially not for a movie. That entire Xavier storyline, which is basically about a rich kid who get’s off on peoples powers. First Class should’ve been what it was originally going to be: X-Men Origins: Magneto. With just Magneto and Sebastian Shaw as the only mutants. But now they had like a thousand different mutants running around in that movie, far too many for the sixties, when nobody in the world was supposed to even know they existed. Days of Future Past tries to rectify some of that, bringing the mutants back undercover, instead of out in the open. Which works better with X1.
R:
I haven’t seen Days of Future Past yet, so I don’t have a 7th place.

R:
In 6th place I have X-Men Origins: Wolverine.
T:
Me too.
R:
It’s an hilariously melodramatic shit of a film. Dumb characters, horrible writing. Only some of the scenes with Wolverine being witty were sorta funny.
T:
It drifts off pretty far from the Wolverine and setting we saw in X1, to which this is essentially a prequel. And some of the VFX are really bad.
R:
How could they approve those?
T:
I have no idea. I used to superhate Origins as well, but not anymore. Maybe I’ve gotten used to it, maybe I’ve discovered the good bits in it.
R:
Oh you actually watched this more than once?
T:
I told you, X-Men is my bible.
R:
Oh yeah, right.

 

R:
In 5th place I have The Wolverine.
T:
Me too! It’s very ‘different’ isn’t it?
R:
This is kinda like Bond. Reminds me somewhat of You Only Live Twice.
T:
I don’t really watch Bond films. I liked the red-headed girl. Yukio. But I found it a little weird that the whole mutant issue wasn’t really going on in this movie, whilst this is supposed to happen after Last Stand.
R:
I guess all of that isn’t really going on in Japan.
T:
Setting it in Japan was a nice breath of fresh air though.
R:
I thought this was everything Origins should have been.
T:
Maybe, though I didn’t really get what exactly Wolverine’s arc was in this. That was left far too vague to focus on it so entirely. The swordfights were great, by the way.

 

R:
On 4th place I have The Last Stand.
T:
Again: Me too.
R:
It’s a fine continuation of the first two, but it suffers
from crowded plots and characters.
T:
Really? Than you won’t like Days of Future Past, which is the most crowded of all X-Men movies yet. But I thought Last Stand was kinda simple in it’s story. Little exposition and stuff, but more made as the third act to a story, the trilogy, which made this the action climax. I think it works if you think about it like that. But you’re right that they introduce a lot of mutants that don’t really have a function, like Vinnie Jones as Juggernaut, which was terrible. Though, to Brett Ratner’s defense, he was cast when Matthew Vaugn was still going to direct it I think. Matthew Vaugn really doesn’t get X-Men.
R:
It focusses on cool mutant powers too much, and it’s missing the themes of X1 and 2.
T:
No! It has those themes, with the cure, the oppression. That subplot of Rogue deciding to get rid of her powers.
R:
I thought that was Mystique’s story in First Class. Before first class she wasn’t that interesting a character.
T:
First Class is a 60’s revenge movie. Last Stand is Brett Ratner trying to make a Bryan Singer movie, in which he fails, but it is closer to what X-Men should be I think.
R:
I just enjoyed First Class a lot more.
T:
So on 3rd place I have X-Men: Days of Future Past. The middle act is a little slow, as it over-X-plains the plot for non-X-perts. But the first and final thirds of the movie are as good as Singer’s other episodes. It didn’t really feel as big as the budget suggested it was going to be, but then again, X-Men movies have never really felt huge in the way Avengers or Transformers feels huge. It focusses more on character. Which is also sort of my only problem with DOFP. The movie’s main story is about Wolverine having to convince Xavier to become the Xavier we know from Patrick Stewart. This is fine, but the depressed Xavier just isn’t one I personally like very much. Also: I would’ve liked to have seen more of the future bits, ’cause they were awesome. These are minor details. Overall it was very good. A return to form for the franchise with a nice teaser for the next part: X-Men: Apocalypse.
R:
My 3rd place has First Class, which we already sort of discussed. It has some of the same problems that Last Stand has, being overcrowded with plot and characters, but it was more enjoyable. But I really would’ve wanted it to be a Xavier/Magneto buddy cop movie à la Lethal Weapon.
T:
My 2nd place is X2: X-Men United, which is a terrible title by the way.
R:
But a great film.
T:
It’s a lot cooler than the first one, more slick and actiony. Especially in that opening scene.
R:
My 2nd place is the first one actually: X-Men. A great way to start a franchise and introduce the universe, the characters and the themes.

T:
My 1st place is the only one left: X-Men. The movie that sort of started the comic book movie craze and, I would say, is still the best one ever made. The dialogue and the metaphor are so spot on that they overshadow the comic book fun in a great way, making it very real, for a comic book movie. Maybe even the most real of all comic book movies. This is one of my all time favorite movies.
R:
My 1st place goes to X2 for the same reason why The Empire Strikes Back is the best Star Wars movie. Like Empire this too is very dependent on the first film, but it continues and improves on it’s characters and themes in a great way.
T:
Let’s recap.

T:                                          R:
7.   First Class                    –

6.   Origins                          Origins
        

5.   Wolverine                     Wolverine
        

4.   Last Stand                    Last Stand
        

3.   Future Past                   First Class
         

2.   X2                                   X-Men

         

1.   X-Men                            X2

             

I rewatched Godzilla (1998) with my VFX supervisor Robin.
 
T:
I just saw the new Godzilla movie.
R:
I have not seen it yet.
T:
While it was a lot more loyal to the original japanese movies, and the monster fight scenes were absolutely epic, I didn’t really connect to the characters. In fact, most of what they do has no influence on the story at all, and the female characters are reduced to the bare minimum. They could’ve easily cut about 45 minutes of scenes with humans without any effect on the story. Cranston’s character is the only one that was sort of interesting. I like the ‘98 Godzilla a lot more. There, I said it. When that came out 16 years ago (!), I was eleven and it blew my mind to shit.
R:
As a kid yes, but as an adult no. It has the Episode 1 syndrome.
T:
It does not!
R:
It does too!
T:
Let us watch Roland Emmerich’s Godzilla.
R:
For some reason also the name of our hero.
T:
Yeah, they changed the name of the main character to honor the designer. He’s the guy who also did the robots from I, Robot and the werewolves from Underworld I think.
R:
Honor the designer? The writer just needed a funny name, because people saying your name wrong is fucking  funny.
T:
We’ll never be able to find out if that was what it was, ‘cause they’ll never admit to it not being an homage.  Though I must say that tapadopapopoulos is a pretty funny name. Now, the opening credits of the new Godzilla actually have a very similar vibe, though they don’t fit that movie all that well. They should have just started the movie, like with the Dark Knight. No title, no nothing. Would’ve suited that movie better. But I like it here.
T:
Boom. Leon is in this bitch.
R:
Yea, as a lovely french stereotype.
T:
I don’t think that counts as a stereotype, but he is definitely very French. The whole thing where all the french characters are called jean-something is a weird joke. My main problem with the french thing is that they were the ones who caused this with all of their nuclear testing. In reality up until 1998 the french have caused exactly 210 nuclear explosions, whilst the americans detonated 1032 of those assholes (the first two of which were in Japan). Emmerich is german, so I don’t think he really minded who created ‘Zilla. This was probably the studio saying that some other country had to be the cause.
R:
Saying stuff like: “where is my croissant?” makes him a bit of a stereotype.
T:
There’s a lot of silly cliche’s yes, but the character itself is not a stereotype. The-French-secret-agent-who-hates-american-coffee-and-is-unaware-of-donuts-but-loves-Elvis is not a classic stereotype.
T:
Love how they go from huge-hint-at-what’s-going-on to huge-hint-at-what’s-going-on during this opening bit where they introduce the main characters. Finding these footprints is kind of like them finding the planes in Close Encounters.
R:
Sure, but having two whole sequences of boats being destroyed was really unnecessary.
T:
Yeah, he must really like fish. Godzilla, not Emmerich. Or maybe Emmerich too. Who knows.
R:
There are rumors…
R:
Was Jean Reno also holding a camera?
T:
Maybe they’re watching Godzilla ’98 on VHS. I like how both this and the new movie reference the original name Gojira on multiple occasions.
R:
And an American reporter saying it wrong as ‘Godzilla’ is also a nice reference.
T:
See! I told you this was like Close Encounters! They both have boats on land as part of their huge-hint-at-what’s-going-on-montage. Love how they did this shot by the way. I think the boat is a miniature that is composited in? Looks pretty epic. Say what you will about Emmerich, but he knows how to make stuff look huge.
R:
Yeah, this is a miniature. The 90’s was a great period of still using old practical effects and using the latest (but not always realistic) CGI and digital compositing. Emmerich know how to make things huge? No way! Godzilla looked no where near as big as it should have been. The first 10 minutes of introducing Godzilla was great. The camera was always on the same level as the people, making Godzilla really big. But after awhile they got lazy with the animation. Godzilla was suddenly moving way too fast for its size and instead of Godzilla being huge the buildings looked really small.
T:
True, I meant it more in the sense that the could’ve had a ship in the dock with some scratches on it. But with Emmerich, the entire ship is on a beach, with tanks and jeeps beside it, hundreds of extras, etc. Spielberg did this with encounters, but a lot of big budget movies are actually kinda small. The special effects are big, but the sets are small. Not with Emmerich. There’s always people running around in the background. In some ways the 90’s were the best era for VFX. Sure, the CG wasn’t that great yet, but combining CG with miniatures and puppets really diverts your attention from the VFX to the story (assuming there is a story).
R:
Spielberg (really all filmmakers before CGI) was doing things small because he had to. The technology was simply not advanced enough to do everything a filmmaker wanted. I think having these kind of restrictions makes for really creative solutions to tell a story.
T:
This shit also kicked me in the face when I first saw it. They might have used some miniatures, but in a shot like this I think they really just pulled that entire ship under at full speed with the stuntmen on it.
R:
I think they used miniatures for some shots. Sometimes the water looks really weird.
T:
Hank Azaria is in this as well. The cast is actually pretty great. Broderick, Reno, that guy from Spinal Tap. Azaria’s life action career never really took off. I thought he was funny in this and in Mystery Men where he was the fork throwing Blue Raja. But both those films sort of flopped I think. So now he’s back doing 80% of all Simpsons voices.
R:
I always had the impression that he was being paid handsomely for The Simpsons and having small roles in films was just something he did for fun.
R:
Godzilla makes wood explode
T:
That poor guy super-died.
R:
Nice practical creature FX
T:
That shit is practical? Awesome. Also: A lot of people super-die in this movie.
R:
Most of the close ups were made with a puppet Godzilla. I think they could have done more practical shots in the style of the Rancor in return of the Jedi or the aliens in Alien3.
T:
Alien3 has some of the worst compositing possible by the way.
R:
Yeah, that was a problem, but the movement of the aliens was great.
R:
Even Barney looks more like Godzilla
T:
True, he doesn’t really look like the classic Godzilla, though from an objective point of view I think this makes a lot more sense than the fatzilla. What is he, descended from hippo’s? The only reason Godzilla was fat in the  first place is because they had to fit a guy in that suit. I thought they did a great redesign. But fans don’t want redesigns. They want the exact same thing. A guy once told me the Transformers movies suck because the transformers don’t look exactly like they do in the cartoons. Of all the reasons he could pick, THAT was why he thought those movies sucked. There is no way Bay could’ve made a bunch of colorful boxes look real.
R:
The problem with this design is it looks like a dinosaur and not a monster. I don’t mind a redesign either but using the Godzilla name was completely unnecessary. Emmerich saw the Jurassic Park movies and wanted to make a dinosaur film for himself. Knowing that he couldn’t get away with making another dinosaur movie he used the godzilla name without looking at the original movies. Its is really disrespectful, and if you want to make a remake you need to have respect for the source.
T:
That’s true. If this was called Cloverfield it might not have flopped.
R:
Lets fly low between skyscrapers in Apache helicopters. Smart!
T:
But it looks awesome. I love how they have New York be this rainy colourless place. This is not Nora Ephron’s New York City.
R:
I bet they used rainy and foggy weather to get the CGI more realistic. Around this time it was really hard to get a realistic CGI character/monster in bright sunlight. Jurassic Park being the exception.
T:
That might actually be true, because the sunlight is exactly where Disney’s Dinosaur (2 years after this) completely failed. Whether it is just to get away with effects or not, it does add a nice atmosphere.
T:
Now these guys, the Mayor and his right hand, are called Siskel and Ebert. They even kind of look like them. I never really got why.
R:
HA! You’re right! Does Ebert eating a lot of candy also has something to do with this?
T:
I feel this is overlooked. The main female character in this is actually pretty fleshed out. She’s not a damsel in distress, she’s not some evil bitch. She has her own motives and her own arc. She makes bad decisions and good ones. Almost reminds us of a real person. Good on you, Hollywood!
R:
Strong female leads was a product of the 90’s I believe. Now we have strong psychical female leads who are also really sexy looking (Transformers, Sucker Punch, the Resident Evil films), which I think is weird. nothing against women being psychical and being sexy, but it feels like Hollywood is missing the point.
R:
Thank god! The Pepsi machine still works.
T:
Product placement is at the heart of hollywood. It’s why they get to make the big movies.
R:
Bad VFX. Soldiers coming out of nowhere.
T:
I have to admit: I didn’t notice it, but you’re absolutely right.
R:
This whole scene feels like a Scooby-Doo chase.
T:
It does, doesn’t it? I never got how something as huge as Godzilla could hide, nor why they would fly at eye-level with him/it, instead of above him/it. It does make for some awesome shots.
T:
The King Kong shot.
R:
It’s too bad that Emmerich was being inspired by american monster movies and not the japanese ones. At one point you could see one of the monsters of Ray Harryhausen on a television screen.
T:
“Well, he was eating, so he must be a female who is pregnant.”
R:
Those are some massive mood swings…
R:
Great way to keep things secret.
T:
They should’ve written ‘Son of Godzilla’ on the tape. I never want to see that again.
T:
I’ll admit that this whole egg/babyzilla thing ventures pretty far from the original films. Also: Those eggs are gross and seem a little big for what comes out of it. I thought they were supposed to be all curled up in there?
R:
That’s what radiation does to ya. I always wondered, Godzilla was the first of its kind right? But did he himself mutated into something big or was this mutation passed on over generations? If so, there must be more godzilla’s out there only smaller like Matryoshka dolls.
T:
Oh, yeah, it’s definitely the Matryoshka thing. There we’re gonna* do a sequel called Godzilla Reunion where all the different sizes of Godzilla were reunited and snapped together into MegaGodzilla. *not gonna
R:
I would actually go see that.
T:
A sequel to the new Godzilla has already been greenlit, so who knows what will happen.
R:
By having Godzilla and young Minizilla’s he got to have T-rex and raptor action scenes. Emmerich had know idea what to do with Godzilla. He really just wanted to make a Jurassic Park film.
T:
Can you blame him? I’ll answer that one: No one can be blamed for wanting to make a Jurassic Park film. Except for maybe like Lars von Trier. I would never want to see his Jurassic Park.  Who do you think would make a great Jurassic Park movie? No Spielberg’s allowed.
R:
Other director? Wes Anderson. Pretty much the same movie, but with characters having an existential crisis and cartoony stop motion dinosaurs. And really bright colors.
T:
I was gonna say Wes Anderson! Those raincoats already look like they belong in a Wes Anderson movie anyway. That is actually the only director where you’re certain that even a Jurassic Park remake thing would be awesome. We should disagree more.
R:
Whats this movie trying to tell me? Be sympathetic to Godzilla or see it (and its children) as a threat?
T:
It was a threat, but not by intent. It was just an animal trying to protect itself. This is actually some nice commentary on the way we treat nature. We should be careful because our reckless intrusion on nature is having a bigger and bigger influence. Like when they just discovered that something inside most pesticides is actually killing all bees. That shit will fuck up the entire ecosystem. Without bees plants won’t reproduce. If plants die out, no oxygen. Oversimplifying, yes, but not untrue. The movie isn’t super clever or anything, but then again, neither is any other Godzilla movie ever made. I prefer it over the new one, where Godzilla is like Mother Nature’s Neighborhood Watch or something, but also there to protect mankind? If you’re there to protect nature, the first fuckin’ thing you do is kill all humans. But no, Godzilla was all like: “Sorry I let my dogs loose around your kids, let me just punch them to shit and I’ll be on my way.” All that movie missed was Godzilla giving Quicksilver and The Scarlet Witch the thumbs up before returning back to the ocean.
R:
The point the movie its trying to make is fine, but I have no idea what the film wants me to think at times. It’s all over the place. Especially the music. The music contradicts the scenes a lot of times. in one scene The movie wants me to be sympathetic to Godzilla and the next scene it wants me to be afraid of it. It feels like a guy punching a dog almost to death and then suddenly pet him and saying everything will be all right.
T:
Is not!
R:
Is too!

 

R:                                     T:
        

I had an argument about Star Wars with my VFX supervisor Robin.
R:
X-wing Pilot or Jedi?
T:
What? You mean what I’d rather be? Is that even a- Jedi, obviously.
R:
X-wing Pilot.
T:
No! Really?
R:
Imagine how awesome it would be flying one of those.
T:
Yeah but still. Name one X-wing Pilot that survives who is not also a Jedi.
R:
Wedge.
T:
Oh shit, you’re right! And he’s like Luke’s best buddy too. But he’s not in the new Abrams movies, so apparently he didn’t survive that long.
R:
They asked him, but he didn’t want to be in it because his part was too small. [Source]
T:
Would’ve been cool to have him back.
R:
Porkins.
T:
Porkins didn’t survive did he?
R:
No, but he’s awesome. Thanks to him you can have fat pilots. Ever seen a fat jedi?
T:
And he was in… what was he in?
R:
Raiders.
T:
Exactly, in the beginning. And he was the guy in Burton’s Batman. The corrupt cop.
R:
Yeah.
T:
Imagine naming your fat character Porkins. That wouldn’t fly today. That’d create so much bad press.
R:
Yeah well, its better than calling a Jedi Kit Fisto.T:
Is not!R:

Is too!