Tuesday, 10 March 2015

Millarworld: The Proving Ground for Superheroes

With Spider-Man recently finding his way back home to the MCU (well joint custody at least between Marvel Studios and Sony), talk has turned to who will play Spider-Man in the upcoming film Captain America: Civil War in which the character has a pivotal moment in the comic written by Mark Millar.

One of the names mentioned has been Taron Egerton who recently starred in Kingsman: The Secret Service, directed by Matthew Vaughn which is also based on a comic book series by Mark Millar.

If they do go with the character of Peter Parker for the latest reboot of Everyone's favourite neighbourhood Spider-Man (rather than Miles Morales) then Egerton stands a very good chance of landing the role.

It's not just because he is British. Lots of America's top superheroes have been played by Brits (Batman = Christian Bale, Spider-Man = Andrew Garfield, Superman = Henry Cavill).

It is actually due to an interesting trivia fact that proves that Mark Millar comic book adaptations are the proving ground for future Marvel and D.C. Heroes.

Example 1) Wanted (2008)

Millar's first comic to be adapted for the big screen was Wanted which starred James McAvoy in the lead role of Wesley.
McAvoy would go on to play Professor Charles Xavier in X Men: First Class and X Men: Days Of Future Past.

What people might not remember is that Chris Pratt aka Star Lord in Guardians Of The Galaxy played Wesley's friend in the film...

Which led to this incredible moment where Professor X knocked out Peter Quill with a keyboard!

Example 2) Kick-Ass (2010)

The first Kick-Ass film was directed by Matthew Vaughn (who would also go on to direct McAvoy in X Men: First Class) and starred Aaron Taylor-Johnson as Dave Liewiski and Evan Peters as his friend Todd.

In a very strange coincidence, both actors would later be cast as the same comic book character.
Evan Peters would play Pietr Maximoff aka Quicksilver in X Men: Days Of Future Past and Aaron Taylor-Johnson would play Quicksilver aka Pietr Maximoff in the upcoming Avengers: Age Of Ultron.

Taron Egerton should keep his webbed fingers crossed because starring in a Mark Millar based comic book adaptation directed by Matthew Vaughn can lead to great things as a quick look through his back catalogue further exemplifies.

Vaughn's 2007 film Stardust starred then unknowns Charlie Cox and Henry Cavill...

Who would go on to play Daredevil and the Man Of Steel himself Superman.

And let's not even get into Vaughn's directorial debut Layer Cake which featured Tom Hardy aka Bane in a small role but is even more bizarre for featuring a scene where James Bond steals Q's girlfriend!

If comic book movies operated in the same terms as Scottish Football, Marvel and D.C. would be due Millar and Vaughn several large Bosman-style payouts for scooping up the young talent nurtured by them on previous projects.

It would be fair to say that based on the evidence they have that adamantium touch when it comes to spotting superhero potential.

Monday, 2 March 2015

Top 21 Horror Films since 2000

Following the release of the 5 star It Follows, the best horror film of 2015 and destined to be a cult classic, I've decided to look back and pick the 21 best horror films of the last 15 years.
I was initially going to limit it to 15 films (i.e. the best horror film of each year) however 2012 proved a particularly strong year so upped the limit to 21 films.

The list contains 9 American, 5 British, 3 Japanese, 2 Spanish, 1 Australian and 1 Swedish film.

Interesting to see how my tastes have varied across the years going from an Asian Extreme vibe through body horror to European then a resurgence of UK/US horrors, in particular those that pay homage or deconstruct the genre.

2014 - The Babadook

Heed my advice. Just take a look. You'll be thrilled and scared by The Babadook.

2013 - Maniac

Elijah Wood butchers the memory of Frodo and stuffs the remains into a bin in this first person horror which draws the audience into the mindset of a killer and makes them complicit in his gory actions.

2012 - Sinister

Ethan Hawke delivers a great performance as a writer who may or may not be driven crazy as he investigates a series of brutal killings for a book he is writing. "Lawn Work" provides the biggest jump scare since the bus moment in The Orphanage.

2011 - Kill List

A film that descends into a darker and darker place as it goes on and prompted me to exclaim "What. The F*ck?" when it ended.

2010 - Black Swan

An Oscar-winning horror film? Indeed it is, certainly from my perspective. This is a "Were-Swan" horror with echoes of Polanski as a ballet dancer is driven to the edge of madness as she struggles to cope with the pressures of the dual roles in Swan Lake.

2009 - Let The Right One In

Devoid of sparkle, this was the perfect antidote to Twilight and one of the best vampire movies in years, along with being an incredible love story.

2008 - The Orphanage

A brilliant old-fashioned ghost story that, like The Babadook, explores the darker side of maternal loss.

2007 - [*REC]

Before Paranormal Activity caused every horror film to be filmed from a found footage perspective, this Spanish horror breathed life into a sub-genre that hadn't really been exploited since The Blair Witch Project in 1999.

2006 - Slither

This is body horror at it's most body orientated and most horrific (as well as its funniest). James Gunn created some of the most revolting scenes committed to film since David Cronenberg's Eighties heyday.

2005 - The Descent

It would have made this list for that "Night Vision" camera jump scene alone but it is a tense, gripping horror in two halves with claustrophobic cave crawling scenes at the beginning before giving way to a traditional horror once the group discover they are not alone in the caves. Also receives bonus points for having an all-female cast.

2004 - Saw

It gave a jump start to the body horror genre, and prompted several sequels which all tried to outdo the previous entry by coming up with even more inventive traps to kill people, but the first Saw remains a great horror that genuinely surprised me with the twist at the end.

2003 - Ju On: The Grudge

2002 - 28 Days Later

The film that reinvented the zombie genre... even though it is not technically a zombie movie. It have given the world fast moving zombies... even if they were just people infected with a rage virus but even more terrifying than that were the scenes of deserted London.

2001 - Audition

I first saw this film late one night on Channel 4 and thought I was watching a Japanese romance until the moment when the bag moved. Then there is the final segment which I won't spoil here but suffice to say I can never here the phrase "kitty kitty kitty" in the same way again!

2000 - Ringu

Going full circle (hah) from It Follows, Ringu is the earliest film on the list and also centres on a curse that must be passed on in fear of death. It was one pf those films that came to me through word of mouth, introduced me to Asia Extreme films and one of the first horror films since The Shining to truly frighten me and make me scared to turn on my VCR!

The Best Of The Rest

Berberian Sound Studio
The Cabin In The Woods
Paranormal Activity
The Woman In Black

Sunday, 1 March 2015

Glasgow Film Festival: Closing Gala - Force Majeure

The 2015 Glasgow Film Festival drew to a close this evening with their Gala film premiere of the Oscar-nominated Swedish film Force Majeure.

Described by Festival Co-Director Allan Gardner as "Bergman on skis", this is a darkly comic story that sees a family nearly torn apart due to the actions (or inactions) of the father during a crisis.

While on a skiing holiday in France, a family witness an avalanche. As it rolls towards them, the dad makes a run for it while the mother protects the children.

No one is hurt but the damage is done as the relationship between Tomas and Ebba begins to crack and fracture when Tomas is unwilling to admit that he ran away.

It becomes a battle of the sexes with a rich vein of black humour running through its heart as family arguments broaden out to bring in friends and they are forced to pick sides.

For a while, it looked like the film was snowballing towards a bleak ambiguous ending with no real resolution (because let's face it, sometimes an argument is never really finished. How many times has something you've done in the past been brought up against you?) but the optimists out there will see potential for redemption.

It is a film that is guaranteed to generate debate/discussion/arguments on leaving the screen as to what you would do or what you think others would do in that situation.

Snow joking around, Force Majeure is a darkly comic force to be reckoned with.

4 stars