(NOTE: This is not an overly drafted, academic film review)

Well at the weekend I had a choice to make. I had already decided to ignore the summer super-hype focused on Jurrasic World and instead go for one of the more geek or nerd genre targeting movies. It came down to either Terminator Genisys or the latest new Marvel flick, Ant-Man.

I had seen and read about both of these movies having very troubled productions. Ant-Man had been languishing in some kind of sluggish development for around seven years, as Shaun of the Dead Brit director Edgar Wright put out his own films, but continued tinkering and teasing with news about the script. He was suddenly booted off the film only months into the final making of it for vague reasons.

The next problematic and super-confusing movie added to the Terminator series was announced and a few months back we saw the first head-scratching WTF trailers. Just what was going on? It seemed like a remake of Terminator Judgement Day with different actors, and then some new added time-travel parts thrown in just to keep it all enigmatic.

Both these films were recieving mixed reviews in the days after their release. Was Ant-Man a great new step for Marvel, as their movies were possibly becoming to too predictable, familiar and dated?

Was this new Terminator movie a terrible low in the series, a questionable cheap cash-in, desperate move for Schwarzenegger, far too old and was it embarassing and mocking the classic first two films in the series?

Only some of these questions would be answered as I went ahead and got a ticket for Ant-Man.

So I knew that the original version of this film could possibly have been very ‘wacky’ and off-beat, many clever jokes and meta or post-modern scenes related to Marvel, comics, superheroes but that unique and fun director of Hot Fuzz and Shaun of the Dead was gone. So what woud be left of his original ideas for the movie, his style and direction?

This was also the next film up in the continuing Marvel cinematic world. After the huge event that was Age of Ultron a couple of months ago, would this just simply be a let down? After being in production for longer than possibly many of the other Marvel films, it surely deserved to succeed.

Some of the main actors involved were annouced quite late as the film seemed to move closer to the release date. Things were looking uneasy, like Marvel decided if many fans of Edgar Wright and Marvel might be very skeptical after the long and troublesome production, a few big name random Hollywood actors would still pull us all into cinemas.

As we have seen movies including IRON MAN, THOR and recently Guardians of the Galaxy, we come to expect a certain standard and quality from Marvel studios at this point. These films all connect up, with their end credits scenes and in-film references to themselves and other Marvel characters. Would Ant-Man fit in among this increasingly packed hero world well?

In only minutes, I could see that it at least had the look down, similar to Avengers or Iron Man with some of the locations, editing and thankfully dialogue. Oh yes, the dialogue.

This was a funny movie. The main character Scottt Lang,cat burglar played by Paul Rudd as a sarcastic loser, out of jail with no real hopes but needs to get back on track for his daughter. His old friends offer him new criminal work, but he passes until he finally has to just say yes.

This guy is more sarcastic and dead-pan than Tony Stark, but with a level of tragic loss and desperation in his life, which is played in a new way for Marvel. He is tricked into helping retired scientist Hank Pym, Played by Michael Douglas and soon we get a fairly extended portion of the movie seeing Scott bungle his way trough learning to use the special shrinking Ant-Man suit, work with ants and learn to be the best for the job. Hank Pym worked with and inspired a younger scientist called Cross who develops his own shrinking suit, but aims to use it for military purposes and he is just a little psycho-nuts about doing this.

For a Marvel film, it does have a different pace, it has a few jokes and lines of dialogue which possibly should have been cut, some scenes might have been edited down more but it is probably a good film to help expand the Marvel world in other ways.

This superhero may not be a super muscle-bound might man like Captain America or Thor, he may not be the mega rich ladies man that Tony Stark can be, but that is just fine.

I might even go as far as suggesting that at times, this film is very much more exciting and adventurous than Avengers: Age of Ultron. Really, the last half hour or more of Ant-Man is one wild, crazy spectacle ride.


Diversity In Comics: We’ve Come A Long Way, But We’re Not There Yet

Graphic Policy

THOR 001_coverThe comic book industry has been making great strides when it comes to introducing more cultural, and ethnic, diversity in the last decade. Superheroes are no longer just straight white men with the odd woman around, but depending on who you talk to about diversity in comics, you could easily  be mistaken for thinking that there really isn’t any. There is diversity, but not as much as perhaps there should be.

Beginning with Luke Cage, the Black Panther, and Shang Chi in the 60’s and 70’s, Marvel Comics did begin to slowly introduce ethnically diverse characters to their roster, but in a medium traditionally dominated by straight white superheroes, diversification had been a comparatively slow process. Not because publishers were against diversifying their lines (although that may have been a part of it for some) but because the publishers wanted to make money, and because the existing popular characters they had were…

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I’ve recently seen the first images of Bruce Campbell reprising his most iconic role as Ash in the new spin-off television series Ash Vs Evil Dead, filming now and due on screens soon.

I had previously seen some of the early poster artwork, and was mildly interested. I think that I like many others, may have gone with the idea that Campbell was simply going to appear at the start of the show or series very briefly but now I have also watched an on-line interview where he actually reassures us that he really is again the main character and the show returns to meet and older but still highly entertaining and goofy hero in a world with supernatural evil creeping up around him.

The show now also gives lead man Ash two younger friends who he will be sort of training up to combat the deadites, if he does not accidentally kill himself or them first.

So the show now thankfully really does look to possibly be good fun, plus it does have original Evil Dead director Sam Raimi helping to produce it. We never did get Evil Dead 4, but this show could very hopefully make up for that.

This has also got me thinking about others old cult horror films which might be good adapted to small screen. We are getting a few things like this now of course, such as Hannibal, Bates Motel and more but some of the more gore filled bloody fare could also be worth seeing.

So which ones?

Well some of my own favourite horror movies include Hellraiser, Texas Chainsaw, Hills Have Eyes, Dario Argento and Romero films. Some of these could maybe result in some interesting things when given an hour each week, or even put into a short mini series such as we now get on Netflix or Amazon.

Hellraiser could focus on a different house, home or place where the box appears each week or where the Cenobites turn up for different reasons.

Texas chainsaw series could be perhaps a little similar to The Walking Dead in setting at least, following some deep-fried American Texas law enforcers on the trail of mystery chainsaw killers, uncovering the depraved legacy of bloody death.

If some Dario Argento films were adapted to small screen, they could maybe take his Giallo mystery thriller style with something like CSI or NCSI detective series, but add in a spooky occult or monster twist behind it all.

We could see these kind of things happen I think, give it a few years or less. We already have successful bloody shows such as American Horror Story and Penny Dreadful, and films adapted to small screen regularly. The classic monster creepshow times are here.

Great North Road #ScienceFiction #Storytelling

An excellent almost near-future sci-fi thriller set in my home area of the UK from one of the very best SF authors around…

Kate's Science - Real and Fantastic

great north roadHere’s a story I’ll never finish. I’ll never read it in a 21 day library lending period, but I realize I’ll never finish it anyway.

Peter F. Hamilton’s novel Great North Road put a map and time line right up front, which should have been a clue – any opus that requires such things is going to be ponderous. Indeed, even the bizarre murder of a bazillionaire’s clone that opens the book, and the cool technologies and climate change that form a backdrop, were buried in too much description for me.

Off-world chapters also have great themes that got lost – life in orbit around Jupiter, and colonies on distant worlds threatened by an unstoppable, mindless thing that consumes planets and changes the nature of matter. When one character stopped to explain how searching for an alien reminds him of the fossils of the Burgess Shale (on page 83 of…

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Terminator Genisys Movie-This time he really is back

So now after many months of regular confusion, suspicion and fan apprehension we get this latest bizarre movie in the sci-fi franchise which has had a good many ups and downs over the decades. It would seem possibly ever since the series picked up again attempting to follow up after the massive commercial success of T2:Judgement Day with Terminator 3:Rise of the machines, it has continually had mixed results and harsh responses from die-hard fans and regular cinema audiences and has never really hit the right balance. So T3 did receive a huge backlash, and while it was not all deserved, it was a film which started really well but fell to pieces before the half way point and by the end became such a sad waste and dissapointment. It gave us a pretty great crazed female terminator, a few break-neck paced action sequences but held back on what we were really hoping to see. The machines did not rise-well, a handful of small laughable ones. The actor playing John Connor was a terrible choice as well. A few years passed, Arnie became the Govornator in America, while on the small screen we actually had a really great Terminator spin-off show The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Sadly this lasted only two seasons, at a time when more and more new shows were appearing and dropping off on a regular basis. It should have lasted much longer. Not too long after we lost this, the next bold and defiant Terminator sequel movie exploded onto cinema screens. This one finally did decide to take us right into the future, to reveal to us the actual world of John Connor and the apocalyptic and wild ravaged times of man against machines and Skynet which so many fans had been desperate to see much more of ever since the first film. Terminator:Salvation looked spectacular, it had so many fantastic and thunderous scenes, it did almost seem like this was it-this time we were really getting what was had been missing ever since the first film, what had only ever been briefly teased. No, it all came to us in such a terrible way. We had Christian Bale so should have been great right? No, that didn’t do much good either, as he was below his usual standards, also because the actual lead actor was more wooden than Keanu Reeves has ever been in any of his movies. The script was fairly dull, predictable, even sexist and disjointed. It was such a waste. Are these repeated failures simply due to original director of the series James Cameron not being there to add his personal touch? This year, we have the next instalment in the series. The reviews are now gradually trickling in today, but responses may not be great already. I cannot speculate an opinion, but it has certainly seemed a very confused film from the various trailers. I am fairly sure that I do just about understand the basic plot premise-an alternate time-line, some similar terminator bonding like we saw in T2 and a young Sarah instead of John, in what mostly looks like T2 again. Well it was T2 which worked so very well, so can we now blame Hollywood for rehashing that particular sequel finally? I really would like this new Terminator movie to work-okay, lets just put aside the matter of Arnie as a T-800 having aged into his sixties as a terminator for one thing-as we really could still have some great sequels in this well loved movie series I think. Some of the trouble may come from the fact that the Sarah Connor tv series was so good that it may have been great to possibly have seen that transfered to the big screen instead. However this new movie turns out to be on screen, a future still needs to be saved.