Thursday, 4 July 2013

You don't actually think they spend $20,000 on a hammer, $30,000 on a toilet seat do you?

As today is Independence Day in the United States, it seems only fitting that the quotation title of this entry is a quotation from the 1996 film named after this peculiar occasion. It also seems only fitting to choose today to talk about said film, but more importantly...the dubious nature of this rather awesome film getting a FRAKKING SEQUEL twenty years later.

Now for the traditional context portion.

Independence Day is one of my favourite films ever. It's kind of a classic from my teenage years and a film I shared in common with one of my best friends from school. In fact, it was part of our bonding process, along with our shared fascination with UFOs and aliens. In fact, this lady is the reason I received the nickname "Alien Dave". So yeah, Independence Day is an absolute classic for me and my friend. We would quote it and a couple of other choice films that we shared a love for. I even got her hooked on Firefly and Serenity. But I digress, so back on track.

Roland Emmerich...once I thought he was brilliant. He gave us Stargate, he made Independence Day. But in more recent years, his credentials have become ever more dubious. Now, he's making a sequel to Independence Day (without Will Smith but still keeping Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman) and talking about going back to Stargate (which he originally conceived as a trilogy of films). I want to frakkin' scream.

A while back I talked about my scepticism of remakes. I was proven wrong with Total Recall and I still want to scream at them for what they're going to do to RoboCop. And now Hollywood are making angry about sequels. They're not bad as a general concept. Some movies are fantastic as trilogies, some would have been better if you'd left things well enough alone. Perhaps a top ten list with some pretty pictures will illustrate my feelings on this one day, but not now. No, for now I want to make this point. All these sequels that work well as trilogies and the ones that don't...they were made within a couple of years of each other. Admittedly, we've been waiting some six years for the final part of Edgar Wright's Blood and Ice Cream trilogy, but it hasn't taken them twenty years.

If it takes you twenty years...I think there's a subtle message in there.

Don't frakkin' do it.

Now I could be entirely wrong. Come 2015, I could be back on this blog admitting to everyone that I was wrong to nay-say and that Independence Day 2 is amazing or at very least a passably enjoyable movie. And perhaps, somewhere, there's historical precedent for a sequel being made twenty odd years after the original being absolutely fantastic. But I can't help but think of the Die Hard movies and George Lucas' reprehensible treatment of Star Wars and seriously contemplate weeping. The historical precedent does not look good, Roland Emmerich. Oh no.

I'm now going to digress entirely into a new topic, since I don't think there's much more I can say about my hesitance regarding the Independence Day sequel. Intriguingly enough, I've just realised it could be construed as somewhat tying in to the subject. Although I'm not going to chat about sequels, I'm going to be talking about a particular reboot. A reboot Man of Steel.

For all my geekdom, I'm not actually a big reader of comic books. In fact, I don't really have any. I have some graphic novels, but as for comic None. Alas. So when it comes to the Marvel and DC comic book superhero movies, I have to ask my friends about the source material for more information. Or look it up online. So many glorious hours of procrastination...

So, Man of Steel. Bottom line, I enjoyed it. But it seems to me that it's an incredibly divisive film. Once upon a many Moon ago, I talked about the Marmite Principle. I think it applies here. You either love Man of Steel or hate it. Or you can go completely middle of the road. But still. I've spoken to people who love it, people who hate it. And one of the most interesting things I've come to learn about this movie and what divides people, is the nature of the source material. Superman is the perfect superhero. He's invincible, he has pretty much every superpower crammed into one human being. Oh wait, sorry, crammed into Kryptonian being. Ahem. Anyway, as I've been told, in the comics he's the square-jawed perfect hero. He always saves the day and he's always a jovial, lovely chap.

So for this reboot, they make him all dark and brooding.

Now I didn't necessarily have a problem with this, given that I don't have an attachment to the source material and know very little about it. But apparently, this is not a good thing. Superman is not dark, he does not brood or seethe with repressed issues. He glides through existence with an almost child-like fascination at the actions of humanity and continues to save them all the while. And this leads me to an interesting point that one of my colleagues made...

...if you do not want spoilers, do not read on.

In the finale of the movie, Superman and General Zod are having themselves a fine old brawl. While they are beating the ever-loving crap out of each other, they are simultaneously laying waste to Metropolis. Seriously. The amount of damage they perpetrate is quite astonishing. I didn't think too much about it at first. But then my colleague made the point that, as Superman is the perfect square-jawed superhero, he would have been trying to save everyone. Or, at the very least, the director could have allowed for a couple of brief scenes showing people escaping from the carnage and devastation that Superman and his nemesis were causing. I found this to be...well, quite a compelling point.


An interest counterpoint was presented to me - while it is inevitably true that Superman caused untold carnage that is uncharacteristic for him, it could be part of the backstory for the sequel (there's that word again...) and its potential villain, the one and only Lex Luthor. The devastation wrought upon Metropolis would give Luthor an opportunity to step in, rebuild the city and use the events of Man of Steel to poison the people against Superman. As a premise, it's very intriguing and I can see it working out. So we'll just have to wait and see I guess.

On that note, I wrap up today's babbling with the final thought - Independence Day 2, I really hope you don't suck but I won't hold my breath and Man of Steel, you were a really rather enjoyable movie, even if you do have some plot falls here and there.

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