Of all the tropes, the ‘Last of a Kind’ concept is one of that rare theme, plot and character devices that has evolved into mythical existence with one perfect master stroke. Richard Matheson’s classic vampire novel towers over them all. ‘I Am Legend (1954)’ is an ingenious hybrid of two previous classics, such as Mary Shelley’s ‘The Last Man (1826)’ and Bram Stoker’s ‘Dracula (1897)’. Vampirism and plague, a combination that captures the definitive pretext for a last man alive narrative, grounding the myth of the supernatural with the reality of pathogens.
Matheson also deploys another trope in the finale of the story, one that is more devastating in its social commentary. The vampires, the pandemic, and the last man on Earth are just the setup for the novella’s central message, and it’s the one element shunned by all the film adaptations to date.
All artists are influenced by the previous generation of artists. Westerns were part of John Carpenter’s cinematic diet growing up. John Ford, and Howard Hawks, these filmmakers were shaping cinema at the time, stamping out a movie language that would become the standard for anyone wishing the tell a story using cinema.
A fan of horror and science fiction movies such as The Thing from Another World andForbidden Planet, John Carpenter defined another set of standards for a new generation of filmmakers. The modern horror genre is partly his offspring. Like his predecessors, Carpenter mastered the long game, building the tension until the big payoff.
Nowadays, it’s clear that motion pictures have devolved somewhat. Big-budget Hollywood blockbusters lack most of the qualities that gave movies from the past the greatness they deservedly earned. Nowadays, even B-grade movies are more pathetic than ever. Low-budget productions are missing the mark completely.
It’s as if the current batch of filmmakers has stopped learning from the best.
Now that this sad shit-show of a saga is over, the only thing we have left, is the thought, ‘what if they did a decent sequel trilogy with a coherent story without the political rape that Disney inflicted upon this series?’. How hard was it to produce something that remotely resembles a Star Wars story?
Apart from the visuals, there are three fundamental flaws with Episodes 7, 8 and 9. The visual effects and art design are the trilogy’s best asset, but sometimes they do act against the films. The entire narrative seems to be built around these great visuals. And then, to make things unbearable, the cluttering of the SFX is overdone, almost to the point of ridiculousness.
It inevitably has to, because art starts off by imitating reality in an attempt to explain it in ways we humans can understand. We tell each other stories, to teach ourselves how to coexist in this strange existence, this universe. We learn from these tales all about what it means to be complex social beings.
When Flash Gordon was ‘again’ resurrected back (thanks, Princess Aura for the first time) into pop culture by Seth MacFarlane in his film, Ted (2013), I was filled with bemusement and joy. Ever since that day, walking home from school and coming across the giant movie billboard, Mike Hodges’s Flash Gordon has remained doggedly on my top ten list of favourite movies.
For three decades I felt alone being a fan of this movie. Mention it at film school and people would look at me as if something was fundamentally wrong with my brain. I remember critics panning it at the time, much to my dismay. They were worried about cardboard characters and cardboard sets. Again, to my utter dismay.
There’s nothing more bewilderingly mind-numbing than watching a science-fiction movie franchise get butchered and killed then brought to life again, re-butchered and murdered once again. It’s sad in a way because I really love this time-bending, robot monster, chase story. The potential, even without branching away from the hunter and the hunted plot device, is endless. Bewildered? With all this goodwill and talent, and money involved, how the hell could they get it so wrong? This is a major iconic brand. “The Terminator” is embedded in the brains of at least two or three generations of consumers. There is no shortage of creative talent nor money that prevent this story from working its magic, yet the IP owners have achieved nothing else but toss stools of shit at audiences across the globe. Sure, the movie industry wins, artists, technicians and executives got jobs, and the marketing machine scored, but tossing shit at the audience’s faces was still the end result.
Now the next time Skynet returns to threaten our future chances are audiences will be a little suspect before handing over money, or even waste time and bandwidth to illegally download it. Skynet will hopefully learn from past mistakes and deliver the killer blow they’ve been trying to throw since it first hatched up the plan to go back in time and kill John Conner.
No matter how much one attempts to enjoy a work of cinematic science fiction, one cannot help but feel robbed. This is what the makers of ‘Oblivion’ have done. They promised something fantastic and poured $120,000,000 into an intriguing concept, so intriguing that even with a marketing campaign featuring Tom Cruise looking bored…
Sometime late in 1999 I was planning a series of short films. An actor I approached at the time to be in one, managed to ‘somehow’ convince me into making a feature-length film. “Why not?” he asked. I explained the negatives such as the lack of funding, which meant no big-name cast and little to no crew, and the unlikelihood of selling the finished product. It would have to be a very, very low-budget guerrilla film.
Somehow, a few positives were enough for me to proceed with the project. I had the technical experience (more or less) to complete the film, the 95-180% commitment from my lead actor and cameraman and the fact that I had the total creative freedom to experiment.
I eventually combined the short films into one and came up with a script entitled “The Bad Samaritan” about an unassuming and prolific serial killer having a burdensome time covering up his crimes. I prepared a shooting schedule and budgeted it at around $1000.
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