HOW DID I MISS THIS PARTY?!! Get Out (2017) Review

Get Out is a mature and disturbing horror film with its unpredictable plot and clear but unique commentary on American race relations.

Rose invites her boyfriend Chris to a weekend getaway at her parents’. When Chris meets Dean and Missy, they’re friendly but over polite. He interprets their behaviour simply as a demonstration of tolerance of their daughter’s interracial relationship. However, as the weekend progresses Chris discovers that there are more sinister motives behind the parents’ display.

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I was quite impressed by Get Out.

Chris and his ‘Vulnerability’

The first act quickly establishes the protagonist and his weakness. Chris is a normal man like everyone else with a job and a girlfriend but he lives in a world where, because of his race, he is not considered a person. This is shown in a scene where Rose and Chris call the police, after running over a deer on their way to her parents’ place. When the officer approaches them he asks Chris for his ID, even though he wasn’t driving. With this scene, we know that Chris’ ‘blackness’ is a vulnerability.

The plot then exploits Chris’ weakness, with the threat escalating each time. For example, when he first meets Dean and Missy, they constantly bring up Chris’ race. Dean uses black slang, praises Barack Obama and discusses his interest in other cultures. Knowing Chris’ weakness, you feel anxious and cringe at his exchanges with Rose’s parents because even though he isn’t being discriminated against, you can feel that he’s being socially alienated.

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Missy and Dean, Rose’s Parents [Credit: Universal Pictures]

The Element of Surprise

I think one of the most affective elements of horror, similar to comedy, is the element of surprise. Usually the spontaneity and unexpectedness of a scare is more frightening than the contents of the scare itself. Get Out is full of shocking twists and turns that create a disturbing and tense atmosphere. Following his introduction to Rose’s parents, Chris witnesses some unsettling incidents such as the groundskeeper and housekeeper’s oddly ‘white’ behaviour.  There’re moments of relief, when we think there’s a character Chris can trust but later we discover they’re no better than Missy and Dean.

Get Out’s tone is very balanced, while the majority of the film can be described as dark and intense, there are comedic moments with Chris’ friend Rod. Even though I never really laughed at any of his lines, I appreciated the film for including some comic relief as most modern horror films tend to be dark and depressing all the way through, which is very boring to watch.

The Social Commentary

The social commentary is of course the most striking and original quality of the film. Unlike Blair Witch and The Bye Bye Man, the horror of Get Out is terrifyingly real. With Missy and Dean’s awkward behaviour, the film argues that racism hasn’t died, its adapted. Today’s racists are not rednecks or neo Nazis. They are normal, everyday liberals who claim to be tolerant of black people but in reality, they just see them as exotic objects.

Overall, I think Get Out is one of the best and most original horror films to come out this decade, with its setup, unpredictable plot and the reality of its horror. I highly recommend it.

I give Get Out an outstanding 9 out of 10.      

Well Done DC. Wonder Woman (2017) Review

Wonder Woman is a good, simple superhero film with a coherent plot, defined supporting characters and a strong protagonist that learns and evolves.

This instalment in the DC Extended Universe is an origin narrative, showing Diana leaving her mythical island home to find and destroy the Greek God of War, Ares. She does this by helping an American pilot uncover a German plot during World War I. As she fights and sees the brutal consequences of war, she discovers her powers and becomes Wonder Woman.

The film is focused on telling Diana’s story. Unlike Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman, no subplots establishing storylines for upcoming sequels are shoehorned into the narrative. There are little to no references to the DC Extended Universe in Wonder Woman, the film is standalone.

Now I wouldn’t call Wonder Woman ground-breaking or perfect as it is just another origin story like Thor, Dr Strange and many other superhero films, but it’s the first DC film in a while to get the origin story right and its thematic question of whether anything is worth fighting for knowing that humanity will inevitably be violent, makes Wonder Woman a little more original.

Wonder Woman pic
Just to be clear, I’m smiling at the film that the poster is promoting. Not the woman on the poster.

Diana is the archetypal superhero protagonist. Like Peter Parker in Sam Rami’s Spider-Man she wants to help people. She hopes to achieve this by killing Ares, which will rid the world of pain and suffering. However, she encounters obstacles in the form of man’s tendency to wage war. She sees these obstacles in vicious detail as she travels across the Western Front. She overcomes them, gradually growing stronger and wiser, learning the causes of war. I felt invested in Diana. Whenever she won or lost a battle I felt something and I definitely can’t say the same in regards to Suicide Squad and Batman V Superman.

The supporting characters are also strong. They all reflect the various outcomes and consequences of war. For example, Steve Trevor, the American Pilot, accepts war as an inevitable phenomenon. He fights to reduce as much suffering as possible, rather than trying to stop war and pain all together. Another good example is Charlie, a Scottish marksman who accompanies them to the front. While he seems to be just as enthusiastic about fighting as Steve is, we see that war has scarred him mentally.

The plot of Wonder Woman is easy to follow and has a clear predetermined goal. We learn that the German army are developing a deadly gas bomb. Diana, along with Steve and his team, try to infiltrate an army base and destroy the bomb before it is used. No subplots or supporting villains clutter the story, the film is always focused on Diana’s journey and struggle.

I do of course have a few issues with the film, the main one being the pace. The story takes a while to get going. A lot of time is spent on Themyscira, Diana’s home, at the beginning. I know it’s necessary to establish the world and mythology but, without getting into spoilers, there are a lot of scenes showing Diana with her family that I don’t think add much to the story.

I think the climax could’ve been shorter as it went on for so long it got to the point of getting boring. I know some people have problems with the climax and the villain but, once again avoiding spoilers, I don’t think the climax is inappropriate, not in thematic terms. The villain’s method made sense and was set up beforehand. If a few scenes were cut from the first act and the climax I think the film would’ve been more engaging.

Overall Wonder Woman is the best film in the DC Extended Universe to date. It is the archetypal origin story we all know but the historical setting and thematic question regarding war and suffering are original qualities. I recommend it.

I give Wonder Woman a strong 7 out of 10.

 

 

 

Icesica: An Introduction

Icesica Poster

I was an action figure kid. I had a big blue box full of them, all from multiple franchises like Doctor Who, Star Wars, Power Rangers. I played with them for years, enacting my own stories with epic plots and huge battle scenes.

One weekend, a friend of my father’s came over and showed me a moviemaking software, which came with a camera. Digital Blue Movie Creator was designed to introduce primary school children to animation and filmmaking. That weekend changed my life. I made countless animations with that software using action figures, army men, cuddly toys and even my own characters I made out of plasticine. For months my father’s friend would bring the camera over, let me keep it for a few weeks, take it back only to let me borrow it again until finally, at Christmas that year, he gave me one of my own.

Not many people know this but I actually had another YouTube account before I started MetalicoOfMeltron. Among the many films I made, a lot of them were Doctor Who themed, featuring my stop-motion Dalek toys. I was attracted to the Doctor Who fan film community on YouTube. So towards the end of 2008, I made my channel and uploaded my fan films.

It was in the middle of 2009 however, when while running the channel and enduring secondary school, that something magical happened. I discovered a film, a film that would have a profound, life-altering effect on me. That film was David Lynch’s panned 1984 adaptation of Frank Herbert’s Dune.

I’d watched many Sci-Fi, Fantasy epics at that point but Dune was unlike anything I’d seen. It was a space opera yet it was artsy, dark, political, disgusting, beautiful and overall amazing. To this day it remains as one of my favourite films.

So, I had an animation software, a ton of action figures and an inspiration. In my head, a fantasy took shape. A Sci-Fi epic set on an ice planet. It would be big, visual and weird just like Dune. Instead of giant worms there’d be giant sharks. Instead of a floating, repulsive baron there’d be a monstrous, alien general. Instead of a fictional spice being ‘the most precious substance in the universe’, it would simply be water. This epic would be called ‘Icesica’. This was a fantasy purely because I didn’t think I could do it. It was too big, it would take forever to make. The fantasy stuck with me for months until one afternoon, at age 13, I got out some cereal boxes, cut out some doors, got some figures and started animating.

My original plan was to make a trilogy; three episodes chronicling a civilisation’s struggle to overthrow a tyrannical empire, a bit like the Lord of the Rings trilogy. There was no script. I improvised the whole plot, stealing characters, lines and images from Dune, with no knowledge of story structure.

After months of animating scenes, voicing scenes, animating them again because they were no good, I finished ‘Episode One’ and uploaded it to YouTube. It was the same process for the second episode, only longer. ‘Episode Two’ was uploaded mid-2010. The audience I had on the channel wasn’t that much bigger than the audience I have now but they were certainly loyal. They enjoyed the Icesica episodes and couldn’t wait for the third one.

Unfortunately, my audience wouldn’t see ‘Episode Three’ or any more videos because, in October 2010, I deleted my account.

There are many reasons why I shut down the channel; one of them being boredom. I was cranking out a lot of videos and was, rather naively, expecting a much larger following. Since that never occurred, I didn’t see the point of continuing. The main reason however, was that my peers at school were discovering my videos. This resulted in some unwanted attention. It was difficult to make videos knowing I had a rather unpleasant audience, hence I deleted my account. However, despite having no platform, I continued with Icesica.

I noticed that ‘Episode One’ was 5 minutes long and ‘Episode Two’ was 12 minutes long. These were not the runtimes of Sci-Fi epics. Being a naïve 13-year-old I was hoping these episodes would be over an hour long and, when watched together, would be true 3-hour saga. I abandoned my original plan and focused on merging the two episodes together, making Icesica into a single film. As I re-watched the episodes I spotted more mistakes, more scenes that had to be done again. By the end of 2010 I was 14-years-old, I had now been working on this thing for over a year. Once the two episodes were bound to my liking, it was now a case of finishing the rest of the film. By the summer of 2011 Icesica was complete.

I felt fulfilled and proud. It was done. It was finally done. This fantasy that’d been born from my love of Dune was here, in the flesh, ready to watch.

Why it has taken me this long to get the film online I’m not sure; a combination of fear, procrastination and lack of time. I had many nightmarish fantasies about all my hard drives dying and Icesica being lost forever but now I will no longer be haunted by such anxieties.

Looking back at the film with the experience and knowledge that I have now, I can say with a smile on my face that it is god awful. The animation is too fast, there are countless plot holes, subplots are started but not finished, the dialogue makes no sense (in terms of both logic and grammar) and the music ranges from sounding distorted to so loud you can’t hear what the characters are saying.

Despite the many flaws I still feel that Icesica, for what it is, is quite amazing. It is an expression of many weird and bizarre passions. Passions for epic battles, giant monsters, political waffle, a panned 80s film. It’s an ambitious and pretentious film that shouldn’t have been made, yet it was. I’m proud of Icesica and I am happy that it’s finally out here in the world, for people to see.

I hope you are amused, impressed and entertained.

And Now For Something Completely The Same. Alien: Covenant (2017) Review

Alien: Covenant technically gives the fans of the franchise what they want, with the familiar plot and visuals and provides answers to the questions many audiences had at the end of Prometheus. While the film does have some good characters and original material, the recycled plot and certain revelations make it less than what it could’ve been.

A colony ship tracks a strange transmission to its source and discovers a rich, habitable world. There they find David, the android who served on the Prometheus. Suddenly, a hostile alien-lifeform appears and the colonization mission becomes a fight for survival.

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I call this my ‘positively neutral face’.

The premise is exactly the same as previous Alien films; crew lands on a planet, someone is impregnated, aliens are produced and everyone tries to survive. As expected, most of the crew are one-dimensional characterizations, as their sole purpose is to be cannon fodder so the aliens can showcase their aggression.

Daniels appears to be the main protagonist. As a character I thought she was a bit boring; she doesn’t do a lot in the story except try to survive and get everyone off the planet. Even though she has a desire, which is to colonize a world and settle down with her husband, its only mentioned occasionally hence it doesn’t really feel relevant.

One character who I found compelling was Christopher Oram, the assumed captain. Unlike Daniels he has weaknesses and vulnerabilities that are challenged and exploited in the plot. He is a first-time captain, having to take responsibility for thousands of lives, his wife is on the planet with him and he is a religious man, trying to maintain his faith in a horrific situation. My favourite character however has to be David. He is capable of both emotion and intellectual ambition, I thought he was a very conflicted character hence I found him the most attractive.

Covenant does provide some original content despite the recycled plot. The aliens in the film for example are significantly new. Rather than infecting the crew with the classic facehugger, these aliens enter their hosts as spores through their ears and nostrils, forming embryos deep inside their skulls. The dubbed ‘Neomorph’ erupts via the back or throat. These ‘birth’ scenes I thought were, quite honestly, more gruesome than the previous chestburster scenes.

Another example of Covenant’s original content is its continuation of the storyline established in Prometheus. The film does answer questions many had following Prometheus, whether or not I thought these answers were believable will require going into spoilers.

So for those who haven’t seen the film I will state my overall conclusion here, while those who have seen the film can read ahead to my spoiler thoughts.

Alien: Covenant recycles a lot of old plot points but the film does have some genuinely compelling characters (like Oram and David) and does tie up the loose ends left by Prometheus. It isn’t great but it’s certainly one of the most gruesome and philosophical Sci-Fi films out there right now so I recommend it.

I give Alien Covenant a worthy 7 out of 10.

 

Ok, spoiler talk.

I found the idea of David wiping out the engineers and creating the xenomorphs to be a bit far-fetched.

I know a lot of people didn’t like Prometheus, but I appreciated its originality, it didn’t rehash old ideas and characters like most prequels and reboots do. It was the start of an epic science fiction series that would comment on religion, God and the relationship between creation and creator. After watching Covenant I was a little sad because it seems apparent now that we’re not going to see that series.

However, David’s backstory of experimenting with the black liquid and desiring to create does seem to continue the themes of Prometheus. I thought it was an interesting notion, but I didn’t expect the film to show us where the xenomorph came from. I’d thought that’d be something we’d discover later in the series, not in the second film.

The last twenty minutes, once again, recycles plot points we’re all familiar with. The xenomorph goes on a rampage and then gets sucked out the airlock, just like in previous Alien films. I liked the cliff-hanger at the end with Walter being revealed as David, having full control of the ship and the thousands of embryos. It looks like he’s going to be a major character in the series, which I’m happy about.

While Covenant didn’t go where I hoped it would, there’re some things about this new course the series is on that I like and I’m going to keep watching to see where it goes.

WEIRD But Still Good. Sandman Brief Lives (1994) Review

I’ve been finding Sandman more and more difficult to review with every volume. In my review of Fables and Reflections I confessed that I didn’t fully understand the stories because they had historical contexts that I was oblivious to. I’ve never mentioned this in previous reviews but a lot of the Sandman stories are full of weird, fantastical, bizarre scenes. Now, since I’m a big fan of cult horror and sci-fi films I appreciated these scenes.

There were parts in Brief Lives however that I just couldn’t get my head around.

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My thoughts were violently provoked…

The seventh volume in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman saga takes the form of an overarching narrative, similar to Doll’s House and A Game of You. Destruction has left his realm and three hundred years later Delirium wants to find him. She persuades Dream to help her and together they embark on an inter-dimensional journey to find their lost brother.

One thing that immediately confused me was the titles of the issues. They seem to compile of particular lines of dialogue from the issue. For example, the title of the first issue is “Blossom for a Lady – Rain in the Doorway – Not her Sister – Want/Not Want – The view from the backs of mirrors – journal of the plague year – “the number you have dialled…””

It’s a quirky choice, taking lines from your story and putting them together to make a big, long title but I have no idea what the point of it is. If anyone knows, feel free to tell me in the comment box.

Another thing that confused me was a character known as ‘The Alder Man’, who appears in the fourth issue. Basically, he is a man in the forest who takes off his clothes, urinates a circle around him and turns into a bear, yet still has the shadow of a man. Despite my bewilderment I let the scene slide. However, the Alder Man is brought up several more times in the volume so he seems to be of some importance. Is this a reference to an ancient myth or folktale? Once again if you know, feel free to enlighten me.

Now despite these confusing scenes, as an overall story I very much liked Brief Lives.

The characters are the stars of the show; Morpheus goes on quite a journey in the book. He experiences many emotional dilemmas such as recovering from a lost love, having to live with the child-like Delirium and confronting his son. It’s fascinating and kind of heart-breaking at times to see Morpheus in these situations, considering how cold and intellectual he is. I personally felt that I saw some sides of Morpheus I hadn’t seen before.

From what I can remember Delirium has only been a supporting character in the series so far, so it’s great to see her as the protagonist of Brief Lives. She is lovably innocent and child-like. We get glimpses of her past and see how she ended up the way she is now. This was another part I couldn’t get my head round. Delirium appeared to be even more innocent and child-like in the past, but why she was like that and how she changed I couldn’t understand. This may be explored further in future volumes but in Brief Lives I was left confused.

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Merv Pumpkinhead

A new character is introduced in this volume, a cigar-smoking pumpkin headed janitor called Merv Pumpkinhead. He has to be my favourite character in Sandman so far. His simplicity is his beauty. Merv is just a grumpy, sassy, New York average Joe and that’s why I love him.

The book’s structure is similar to that of A Game of You; it’s a quest narrative that starts at one place, goes to some other places and then finishes at another clear, pre-determined place. It’s a structure that’s as old as our species so it’s pretty hard to get wrong. However, if the story has good unique characters (and with the intellectual Morpheus and the childish Delirium, Brief Lives certainly has) a stronger story can be made, which overall, I think this volume is.

Despite a few confusing moments, I think Brief Lives is another good volume in the Sandman series. It’s a journey narrative, we get to learn more about Delirium and we get to see Morpheus in many challenging scenarios, forcing him to expose qualities we’ve never seen.

I give Brief Lives a strong 7 out of 10.

An Observation: Dead Man Walking (1995)

This piece contains spoilers regarding the plot and ending of the film Dead Man Walking.

I was expecting the climax of Dead Man Walking, where Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) is executed via lethal injection for taking part in the murder and rape of a young couple, to be emotional. We were watching this criminal who we’d come to understand and sympathise with, approach his inescapable death. However, the scene went against my expectations. It wasn’t tragic like I anticipated, it was something very different in terms of tone.

I don’t usually write posts like this but I was so challenged by this scene that I had to write about it and after some reflection I’ve come up with a theory on what I think the climax means.

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Matthew Poncelet (Sean Penn) and Sister Helen Prejean (Susan Sarandon). 

I think ethically most stories present a black and white view of people. In stories like Harry Potter, It’s A Wonderful Life and Batman we are told that there are two types of people in the world; people who consciously protect others (heroes) and people who consciously harm others (villains). The latter tend to be presented as inhuman, unsympathetic, merciless monsters. We’re happy when we see Voldemort or the Joker die because we feel that they deserve it.

While we enjoy watching villains die in the imaginary world, I think we all know that in the real-world people just aren’t that simple.

No one’s completely good or evil and I think that’s what the execution scene in Dead Man Walking was trying to convey.

After his lawyers fail to pardon Poncelet’s execution the film focuses on Sister Helen’s (Susan Sarandon) struggle to persuade Poncelet to admit his crimes. When he does confess Sister Helen helps him seek spiritual redemption but whether this makes Poncelet undeserving of the death penalty or not, the film remains neutral.

This neutrality is expressed heavily in the execution scene. While Poncelet lays on the stretcher, looking at Sister Helen through the glass as the drugs travel into his body, the film cuts to flashbacks of Poncelet and his partner brutally raping a young woman. We’ve seen short glimpses of this scene throughout the film but here we get to see all of it, in disturbing detail. All the while Poncelet, a flawed character we’ve come to empathize with, is slowly dying. The same man who is performing these horrific crimes in the flashbacks.

By showing these contradicting sequences featuring the same character, I think the scene tells us that Matthew Poncelet is not a good-hearted hero who made a devastating mistake or an aggressive villain who got what he deserved. Rather it says that he is simply a man. An individual who is capable of both caring honesty and mindless brutality. We are not told how we should feel about him like we are with Harry Potter or Voldemort.

This theme reaches fruition at the end of the scene, where we see Poncelet laying dead through the window and the deceased young couple standing eerily in the glass’s reflection. His dead body shows us who Matthew Poncelet is and the ghostly couple in the glass show us what he has done.

As a film, I’d highly recommend Dead Man Walking because compared to most pieces I’ve seen with their black and white ideologies, this scene stuck out to me as an honest and balanced representation of human nature and I think that’s something many artists don’t usually present.

Better Than Godzilla. Kong: Skull Island (2017) Review

Kong: Skull Island is a fun, original monster film and is vastly superior to 2014’s Godzilla.

This re-imagining of King Kong takes place in 1973 during the Vietnam War, focusing on a group of soldiers and scientists exploring an uncharted isle known as ‘Skull Island’. There they discover the great Kong and soon the group are pulled into a vicious battle between Kong and the other inhabitants of the island.

Kong Skull Island pic

Compared to previous Kong films and monster films in general Skull Island is very unique aesthetically. The Vietnam War setting makes Kong reminiscent of American films made during the period, most notably Apocalypse Now.

What the narrative says in regards to the Vietnam conflict I’m not sure but using the setting for a monster film, with 70s music, fashion and technology makes Kong: Skull Island an original contribution to the monster genre in my view.

The highlight of the film of course is Kong himself. His updated look and design is very menacing, making him appear quite scary at some points.

The other creatures are also well done. I thought the Skull Crawlers were good opponents for Kong physically but visually they reminded me of so many aliens from recent sci-fi films, particularly the creatures from Riddick.

I was more impressed with the crustacean spider creature that impaled people with its legs. It’s an effective design and makes for a pretty intense scene.

The increase in monster action makes Skull Island an obvious improvement compared to Godzilla, however the film is also superior in terms of character.

I thought the characters in Godzilla were way too bland for the screen time they received. Now I’m not saying the characters in Skull Island are completely three-dimensional but they at least fit the basic universal archetypes in storytelling, which makes them a lot more fun and relatable.

James Conrad (Tom Hiddleston) and Mason Weaver (Brie Larson) are courageous heroes, Packard (Samuel L Jackson) is a brutal villain and Hank Marlow (John C. Reilly) is the comic relief.

With an original aesthetic, great monsters and good characters Kong: Skull Island is a solid monster film and I recommend it.

I give Kong: Skull Island a strong 8 out of 10.

UPDATE: It feels like I’ve written this update over a hundred times but sorry for the absence! Uni and Life are once again the culprits. The good news is that I do have some new upcoming content planned, including another article for MoviePilot and some videos.

Just in case you’re new, keep any eye on my Facebook Page and Twitter for more regular updates.

Hope everyone’s having a good 2017 so far!

 

This was tricky. Sandman Fables and Reflections (1993) Review

Happy New Year everyone!

I put off reviewing Sandman Fables and Reflections for a while because I wasn’t sure if I could do it. Its length was intimidating, this collection of standalone stories contains not four, not five but nine stories!

Also, some of the stories are heavily based on certain myths and historical contexts. Since I knew very little about most of the histories conceiving a review was difficult.

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The struggle was real.

So, despite my historical ignorance and the book’s length I am going to review Fables and Reflections, presenting little mini-reviews of each story and making a conclusion based on the number of stories I liked and didn’t like.

Let’s start with the first and shortest story in the volume, Fear of Falling.

I liked this one. It was simple and concise. The protagonist starts out acting unwisely and making bad decisions, so when a paranormal entity (Morpheus) shows him the errors of his ways, he changes and becomes prosperous. It’s a simple but effective little tale.

Three Septembers and a January – This is probably my second favorite story out of the whole volume, it was emotionally and philosophically uplifting. In a series of scenes taking place years apart the story shows how a man, with a delusional but comforting belief, can live a great life. It’s a touching fable.

Thermidor – This was an interesting story. I thought the protagonist was a little bland hence I found parts of the story a bit boring. The ending was good; the protagonist’s mission was wrapped up nicely and the antagonist’s demise was quite satisfying but overall, it was just decent.

The Hunt – I liked the framing device with the old man trying to tell his sassy granddaughter the story but I didn’t get a lot out of the story itself. It seemed like a basic medieval fairy-tale; it had most of the motifs like castles, forests, witches, a princess and a quest. The twist at the very end was a nice little surprise but I thought the story as a whole just wasn’t that interesting.

August – This was decent, it was a bit heavy on dialogue for me but still a decent story. It’s essentially about Julius Caesar pretending to be a beggar for a day with a dwarf actor. The conversations are too long and at times they feel pointless. However, as they talk through the day you get little hints of Caesar’s past and his motivations behind his strange act. Not great but you can’t put it down.

Soft Places – This is probably my least favorite story out of the whole volume. For me there were too many captions describing the scene and too much dialogue. Some of the dialogue between Marco and Rustichello was amusing and it was nice to see Fiddler’s Green again but a lot of the story seemed pointless. Marco is really inactive; his desire is to find his father and uncle but he doesn’t really do anything to find them. He just hears some stories, meets Morpheus and then gets sent back to his father and uncle. Maybe if I knew more about Marco Polo I would’ve gotten more out of it but reading it as it is with my current knowledge it didn’t impress me.

Orpheus – This is honestly the best Sandman story I’ve read. Like Fear of Falling it’s simple but effective; we meet Orpheus, we understand his great love for his fiancée and his great pain when his love dies on their wedding night. You feel Orpheus’ despair as he tries everything, even going down to the underworld to get his fiancée back. With a heart-breaking ending, I think Orpheus is an unpredictable and emotionally blunt story and the best of Gaiman’s work I’ve seen.

The Parliament of Rooks – This was another good one. It doesn’t really have a plot, it’s essentially a bunch of characters telling each other stories but we do get insights into the characters’ backstories (including Morpheus). It shows more of Morpheus’ world, showing his minions together in their spare time and how Cain and Abel became a part of the realm. It’s an easy little story told in the dark, fantastical Sandman style.

Ramadan – This was another ‘interesting’ one. Most of the story is told through captions similar to Soft Places so we don’t really get up close to the characters but I don’t think you’re supposed to. It explores the origin of Ramadan, an Islamic holiday, so the story is entirely based on Islamic mythology. As someone who is unfamiliar with those myths I did get something out of Ramadan on an intellectual level. It’s a fascinating tale about a king who summons Morpheus to help him preserve the beauty of his kingdom. Not much emotional value but still a good, engaging story.

In conclusion, out of the whole volume there was one story I didn’t like, five stories I did like and three I thought were just ok. I’d say that Fables and Reflections is definitely worth reading for those golden five, four of them aren’t great but it’s still worth the read.

I give Fables and Reflections a strong 7 out of 10.

One More Thing Before 2017

2016 has been an interesting year.

For cinema it’s been a mixed bag; I saw some decent pieces including Civil War and Star Trek Beyond and some real gems like 10 Cloverfield Lane and Anomalisa. I of course saw some slightly mediocre films like Dr Strange and Rogue One and a few terrible pieces such as Batman V Superman and Ghostbusters.

Politically it’s been depressing; Brexit and the US election has caused so much division and confusion. While I was against Brexit and Trump I hope the damages are minimal and that things get better.

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Creatively it’s been fantastic; I’ve been running this blog for over a year, I joined MoviePilot, I got back into drawing and made some good YouTube videos (Mupple Film 3 and Guilt – Counsellor 6 are my personal favorites).

Anyone who’s read my blog since the beginning will know that I never mention my personal life. Talking about Uni is probably the most personal I ever get on here but now I’m going to make an exception.

I had a bit of an existential crisis in 2016; I started to question why I write, draw, act, edit etc. I wasn’t sure if I enjoyed creating, this impacted the frequency of my output. I never had a schedule but I tended to get something out at least every two weeks or so. Towards the end of the year however entire months went by where I hadn’t posted anything. Even though in the last month or so I have released some content I’m still unsure about my position on creating. Sometimes I get a lot of joy and satisfaction out of it while other times it can be a chore.

I don’t know what 2017 will be like for me creatively so for those who are interested I suggest you follow my Facebook Page and Twitter as I do post on those platforms regularly.

I thank you all for your patience when I don’t put something up and your enthusiasm when I do put something up. It is very much appreciated.

At the moment I see nothing but possibilities in 2017.

For cinema it looks like it’s going to be exciting with some pretty good-looking films like Kong: Skull Island, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, Alien: Covenant and Star Wars Episode VIII. There’re some films I’m not looking forward to like Justice League, Wonder Woman and the Beauty and the Beast remake but for me there’re more films to anticipate than dread so I’m happy.

Creatively it looks good; I’ve got some ideas for videos I want to make, I’m hoping to crank out some more articles for Moviepilot and I’d like to do some more drawing.

I thank you all for staying with me on this blog and I wish you all a Happy New Year.

Now if you’ll excuse me, I’m going to take part in a personal New Year’s Eve tradition of mine. I’m going to watch Adaptation. It’s got nothing to do with New Year’s Eve but it’s a beautiful little film written by Charlie Kaufman that’s always left me with a feeling of replenishment and hope.

A Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year everyone.

The Best and Worst of 2016

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Since 2017 is only a few days away I thought it would be appropriate to list the best and worst films I’ve seen in 2016. I’ll be listing three films that I thought were great and really stood out and another three that I thought were weak and very underwhelming.

Let’s start with the three best films of 2016.

  1. Deadpool

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It’s not Citizen Kane but I can’t deny that Deadpool is one of the wittiest films to come out in a while.

The film’s sassy satire of superhero tropes and clichés is hard not to like. Its pop culture references may damage its posterity but Deadpool isn’t supposed to be a timeless classic, it’s a cinematic piss-take for today’s generation.

For me Deadpool is one of the best films of 2016 because of its humour and its courageous originality.

  1. 10 Cloverfield Lane

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The setting may be limited but with understandable, empathetic characters and a plot that doesn’t stop twisting, 10 Cloverfield Lane is incredible. The film had me engaged in a way that all the big-budget, Sci-Fi, Superhero, Fantasy epics couldn’t.

Despite the far-fetched climax 10 Cloverfield Lane produced an intense experience with minimal characters and a single setting and for that it’s my second best film of the year.

  1. Anomalisa

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This film is unlike anything I’ve seen, that’s the primary reason Anomalisa is the best film of 2016 for me (it technically came out in 2015 but it didn’t get to the UK until 2016).

It tells a strange and disturbing story about a man with a depressing view of the people around him. With beautiful stop-motion animation the film shows his psychological condition, how it changes and how he struggles against it as it grows stronger.

Out of all the films in 2016 Anomalisa stuck out the most hence it was my immediate choice for best of the year.

Now let’s get onto the three worst films of 2016.

  1. Suicide Squad

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I thought this film was a mess. It had too many characters and subplots, some of which I liked to be fair such as Deadshot and Harley Quinn’s backstory.

I think Suicide Squad lacked focus; there was no protagonist or any principle characters. Everyone, even the most minor characters, gets a scene or two.

The overabundance of characters and backstories was so great it was impossible for me to get invested in the story. It’s cluttered and boring, which is why it’s my third worst film of the year.

  1. Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice

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2016 hasn’t been a good year for the DC Extended Universe.

Batman V Superman basically has the same problems as Suicide Squad but worse. Suicide Squad at least had a clear, defined ending. The whole film was leading to the squad defeating the enchantress.

Batman V Superman has a lot more unnecessary subplots, many of which don’t need to be in the film. Wonder Woman, Doomsday and even Lex Luthor could’ve been cut out.

The film felt more cluttered and more boring than Suicide Squad hence it’s my second worst film of 2016.

  1. Ghostbusters

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If this was more of a paranormal, Sci-Fi film with more action and less comedy I don’t think I would’ve disliked it as much. However, since Ghostbusters is a full-blown comedy I was a little appalled by it.

The plot is slow and forgettable and the comedy consists of pop culture references and ad-libbed banter. On top of that, there are some depressing cameos from the cast of the original.

It’s one of the worst comedies I’ve ever seen and when reflecting on all the films I saw in 2016 Ghostbusters seemed the perfect candidate for the number one worst film of the year.

 

So those are my picks of the best and worst films of 2016. As the New Year draws closer there doesn’t seem to be anything else to do apart from sit back, relax and await the cinematic marvels and atrocities of 2017.