Tag Archives: movies
Evening all. Everyone sobered up from New Year? Good, then let’s talk about antagonist character development, shall we?
With all the family oriented movies on over Christmas and there affiliated one-dimensional villains maniacal laughter still ringing in my ears, I’ve been thinking a lot about the nature of villainy and what make a good bad guy in a story.
My working theory when it comes to villains in stories (and in life in general I suppose) is that no one thinks of themselves as evil. Bad people do bad things because they’re greedy or spiteful or angry but not just for the sake of being evil. Evil isn’t an emotion, it’s not a driving force for a personality in the real world so it always rings hollow when it’s presented as a motivation. I mean sure, if the character is a psychopath then they might do stuff just to be evil but if that’s the case then they cease being a character and simply become a dangerous obstacle for the protagonist.
When in come to villains , I personally think that most of the good ones can be broken down in to 2 categories.
1. The bad guy
All the aforementioned motivations. Greedy, spiteful, angry or all of the above. A person giving in to all there negative emotions but that’s the thing, they’re still a person and no-one, absolutely no-one is all bad or all good. No matter how close they are to being pure one way or the other they are never a paradigm.
Just as a good guy can do something bad, a bad guy can do something good. They don’t stop being a bad guy, it simply shows a capacity for good that is unused. Shen from the movie Kung Fu panda 2 is a good example of this.
2. The anti-villain
Someone trying to do good but going about it in a bad way. Arguably more dangerous than a simple villain because just like the hero, they’re fighting for something beyond themselves. Fighting for good as seen from their perspective. A trait usually associated with a protagonist and ultimately, a motivation we expect to win the day. I like these kind of antagonists because it creates a nice moral ambiguity within the story about right and wrong. The Operative from the movie Serenity qualifies as an anti-villain I think, although taken to a particularly mental extreme.
But anyway, I’m board of hear myself talk. What do you think? What makes a good villain?
See you next week!
Evening all. let’s jump right into this.
So I went to see Rise of the guardians last week and it was really good and the graphics were amazing and the baddie was boring and Kiddie Christmas cannon fodder blah blah blah the end. But it did get me thinking about films aimed at kids that are made today and the relative lack of complexity.
Now before you jump all over that statement. I don’t think children need to be watching stuff like Kingdom of Heaven (directors cut, not the original. Completely different movies) I just think that kids can handle the concept of a bad guy having motives beyond “being a dick.”
The reason I’ve been thinking about this is because of the films villain, Pitch. A character so diametrically Black and White that I’m starting to think that his colour scheme was meant as sort of a subtle joke. Every single scene with him in is a protracted explanation of just how horrible he can be. Every now and again the film flirts with the idea of Pitch being a sympathetic character, With him stating how little he has and how hated he is but before any kind of emotion can be applied to these notions, he quickly switched back in to Dick-Dastardly mode and jumps right into an evil monologue.
I’m assuming the reason for this is that the creators don’t want anything too emotionally difficult for the kids to deal with but I think that’s bunk. Children always seem to be underestimated when it comes to crap like this but plenty of stuff has been made for kids in the past that dealt with more challenging problems, like The Snowman. He freaking DIES at the end and kids love that one.
Modern films aren’t completely bereft of this either. Both Kung-fu Panda films have villains that were undeniably bad but had a history, reasons for being bad and showed some emotions to indicate this beyond moustache-twirling villainy.
I guess in a very very VERY broad sense I’m saying kids don’t need to be protected from reality as much as we think. I mean kids go out of their way to watch horror movies that they’re not meant too but it doesn’t instantly turn them into serial killers. In fact, I’m starting to think that a lot of the things we’re told turn kids into serial killers actually don’t.
If a kid comes out of a movie and is a bit quiet because they’re “thinking about it” I mark that as a success. I still think that children’s stories should have a happy ending because that’s what we should always be working for in real life. I just don’t think everything needs to be black and white. Give them a problem that doesn’t have a perfect answer and see what they do with it. Chances are they’ll surprise you.
Anyway, what do you think?
See you on Christmas Eve!
Afternoon all. How’s everyone doing this fine Monday?
Alright folks. Discussion Time did well enough last time to convince me to try it a few more times. So this week, we head over to the dark side and ask who is the best female villain.
Same rules as last time. Any geeky media, Computer games, comic books, cartoons, sci-fi and fantasy TV, movies and books.
For me, it’s a tossup between Kai Winn from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Azula from avatar: The Last Airbender. Kai Winn was constantly spitting malice and denial which made her infuriating. Azula is possibly the best example I’ve seen of an archetypal villain that still has a strong character development arch.
Alright, best female villain. GO!
See you next week!
The other day at work, I discovered something horrifying. It all started last week during a lunch break. Somehow Ewan McGregor came up, and one of my coworkers didn’t seem to have any idea who that was. I figured she had to know him, but just didn’t know his name. I started rattling off the titles of movies he had been in that I figured she must have seen. Moulin Rouge, Trainspotting, Ghost Writer. But no, she hadn’t seen any of them. Then, the revelation that blew my mind out through the back of my head. “Star Wars?” I asked. “No,” she said. “None of them?” “No.”
When I finally stopped screaming, I decided that this woman’s movie knowledge was frighteningly deficient. In an effort to appease me, she suggested that I make a list of ten movies that she must see. I wholeheartedly accepted this challenge. But, as I devoted more and more time and energy to make this list, I realized that I was actually just making a list of ten movies I would show myself if I completely lost my memory and I needed to be re-educated.
I came up with a new plan. On Twitter, Facebook, and amongst my co-workers I proposed a simple hypothetical scenario: You meet an English speaking, Canadian adult who tells you they’ve never seen a movie before. They ask you to pick the first movie they’ll ever see. What do you choose?
I think some of the earnestness I used in person was lost online so some of the answers are probably less realistic than others. But, the full, unadulterated list will appear at the end of the column.
For now, I’m going to list the ten that I’m going to actually suggest with a brief explanation of why.
- Star Wars – Just the original trilogy. But, the whole trilogy, because that is such a part of the world now that it’s just about stopped being “pop” culture, and just regular old culture. On top of that it’s a great, imagination capturing group of movies.
- The Wizard Of Oz – Of the 29 replies I got, this is the only one that got 3 votes. That’s over 10% of the vote. How can I not include it? It’s also a charming movie that is beloved by all and, in a lot of ways, redefined what movies could be. The special effects still work really well, and the songs are catchy as hell.
- Casablanca – Often listed as one of the top movies ever made, it’s an epic romance that also has the intrigue and action of World War 2. It’s one of the few movies that everyone likes when they see it. Even Citizen Kane can’t claim that.
- The Sound Of Music – I haven’t seen it myself (gasp, shock) but it got two votes in my poll, so that’s good enough for me. At almost three hours, it’s a little long, but I’m hoping the singing nuns and Nazis can keep her attention.
- The Shawshank Redemption – Who am I to argue with the number 1 movie on the IMDB top 250? Also, it’s a great movie. It’s got triumph, tragedy, lols, and wtfs. In other words, something for everyone.
- The Princess Bride – A modern (well, 1987-era modern) take on the fairytale. A heartwarming and utterly delightful movie about love, and giants, and things that are practically inconceivable.
- Ocean’s 11 – The Soderbergh one, not the far less entertaining rat pack one. This movie takes the typical heist formula and injects a ton of razzle dazzle and pizzazz. A lot of which is delivered by an incredible all-star cast. If movie casts were an Olympic event, this movie would take the gold.
- Iron Man – I’ll concede that this is a bit of an odd ball choice, but it’s the most fun superhero movie made to date. Other films in that genre are certainly smarter, or more profound, but this one is hands down the best time you’ll have in the theatre.
- Ghost – Another movie I haven’t seen, but I want to make sure I’ve got enough stuff on here that will appeal to a more feminine audience, as that’s the audience I’m going for. I’m pretty sure it’s about Patrick Swayze’s ghost possessing Whoopi Goldberg and seducing Demi Moore. Oh, and pottery.
- Wall-E – Finally, in order to cover as many bases as I can, a film by the universally beloved Pixar studio. This is my favorite of their movies because it does what the best sci-fi movies do. It takes a modern day problem and hides it in robots, spaceships, and special effects to make it more digestible. It’s also, and I may have used this descriptor before but I can’t help it, completely and unabashedly charming.
All right, so that’s my list. Assuming she actually watches any of these, I’ll post her thoughts here in future columns. In the meantime, here is the full list of answers I got from the people I polled. Thoughts?
- Rosencrantz and Guildenstern are Dead
- Back To The Future
- The Princess Bride
- Ocean’s 11 (2)
- The Fugitive
- The Room
- Jurassic Park
- A Walk In The Clouds
- Catch Me If You Can
- The Sound Of Music (2)
- The Neverending Story
- Wizard of Oz (3)
- First Blood
- Return of the Jedi
- Three Amigos
- Ferris Bueller’s Day Off
- A New Hope
- Step Up 4
- Cannibal Holocaust
- The Great Dictator
- Cast Away
- Big Butt Sluts 3
Graham Becksted thinks my coworker better watch all of these after I’ve gone to all of this trouble. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 69th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
If anyone were to ask me what the worst part of seeing a movie in theatres is, I wouldn’t have to think long to come up with an answer. It wouldn’t be the people around me, ‘cause they can be hit or miss. It wouldn’t be the ticket or food prices. It wouldn’t even be the screen being too dark, or the sound being out of sync. The worst part, without a doubt, is all of the stupid commercials that are forced on us. At home you can change the channel or mute them, but at the theatre you are a captive audience. You can’t go anywhere for fear of losing your seat, or turn off the sound without getting into big trouble. It’s even worse if you go to the theatre multiple times in a month. They don’t change the ads often, so you can get stuck seeing the same minute long buy holes over and over again.
To be clear though, I’m just talking about car commercials and soft drink commercials and anything else like that. Trailers are exempt from my wrath. They’re the only ads that I’ll go out of my way to see. If there’s one in particular that I want to see online, sometimes I’ll suffer through the indignity of watching an unwanted commercial before I see the one I’m after. I like trailers so much that I’ve actually gone to a movie just for the trailers.
One in particular stands out in my memory. I went to see I Am Legend on opening weekend in IMAX just to see the Dark Knight trailer. And, you know what? The movie was okay, but I would’ve paid that IMAX price for the trailer alone. (To be fair, that wasn’t a traditional trailer. It was actually the first 5 minutes of the movie. But those five minutes are sooooo good.)
In that case, we got a great trailer for a great movie. But, sometimes trailers can make good movies look bad, and bad movies look good. The best example I can think of for this is the X-Men: The Last Stand trailer.
Pretty cool, right? It’s got Juggernaut, Angel, Beast, Magneto, Phoenix, The Golden Gate Bridge flying around. It’s a bit of a geekgasm. At the time, I had been following the news about this movie pretty closely. Bryan Singer, the director of the first two movies, had dropped out of the production in order to make Superman Returns. (The jury is still out on whether that was a good decision or not.) For me, that was Red Flag 1. Then they continued their pre-production without a director. Red Flag 2. Then, they finally hired a director: Brett Ratner. Red Flag 3. But, the trailer made it looked like they had crammed in so much X-Men goodness that it couldn’t go wrong. Unfortunately, the crammed in way too much X-Men goodness. There were way too many plot threads, and no character got enough attention. I mean, how can you introduce Juggernaut, Phoenix, and a mutant cure in one movie and expect them to all be given enough screen time?
Anyway, I guess my point is that the people who make trailers should get more money, or something. They make the only commercials that are worth seeing, and they can make crappy movies look good. (That X-Men movie made almost half a billion dollars. At least half of that is due to the trailer alone.)
Graham Becksted is coming to a theatre near you. But, not like Paul Reubens. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 67th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
(This was originally going to be an article about how there will never be a true 3D Pokémon game but with the release of Poképark 2 that seems to feature hundreds of the little bastards in full bouncy, skippy 3D. A new, more accurate article was required. So without further ado, here’s some random thought.)
I like movies. I like a great number of movies of all genres, moods and complexity and most of the time, I like the same movies as my friends. But every now and again after watching a new film with my chums, my first thought of “huh, that wasn’t bad. Not great but not bad” is quite loudly and exuberantly interrupted by “That was the worst piece of shit I’ve ever seen!”
I think everyone has them. Movies that you don’t think are that bad only to find that the rest of the world considers them a cinematic war-crime. The worst part is (and this is pure weakness on my part) that I’ll frequently nod along with my friends so as not to spark of a verbal onslaught about my error in opinion.
You know what? I liked the Watchmen movie. I liked the 3rd Matrix the most. I liked Ghost Rider. Are these amazing films? No but at the very least, I can sit down and watch them without cringing or the desire to turn it off. Maybe I have low standards but I don’t need every film to be a tour de force. Sometimes I just want to be entertained and a great deal more films then I admit can do that.
Alright, your turn. What movies do you like that everyone around you hates. 3rd X-men film? The Invention of Lying? Indiana Jones 4? Just get it off your chest, you’ll feel better for it.
See you next week!
Another week, another theme column. This week – OSCARS. As I’m sure you’re aware by now, the Academy Of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences gave their awards out to the best movies of the year. The big winner was The Artist, a movie that I was not terribly fond of. To be fair though, it was not a great year at the cinema. There were a lot of good movies but not many great ones. Out of those good movies, the Academy nominated nine for best picture. But, since there were so many movies of similar quality I’ve decided to give my alternate nine nominations for the year. I’m only going to list movies I’ve seen, so if your favorite didn’t make this list it’s either because I didn’t see it or it sucks. Oh, also they’re in alphabetical order.
1.) Attack The Block – A really fun movie about an alien invasion that hits a London low-income housing complex. Teenage punks and drug dealers have to save the day, in this incredibly original little movie. The most original part is the aliens themselves. They’re pitch black except for their glow in the dark teeth. They’re unique, which is especially welcome after the sort of generic and unmemorable monsters in Super 8 and Cloverfield. 2.) Beginners – Another movie highlighted by its originality. It jumps back and forth through time showing a man helping his recently out of the closet father deal with cancer, and then coping with his death. He also inherits his dog, and meets a pretty girl. It’s probably the most personal and real feeling movie on this list and is filled with excellent acting. Christopher Plummer as the father is especially great. 3.) Captain America – In a year where there were quite a few super hero movies, this is the only one that really stood out for me. A lot of that is due to the surprisingly good Chris Evans performance as the Captain. He makes what could have been a total boy scout character interesting. You can’t help but root for him. Hugo Weaving is also nicely evil as the Red Skull. The movie is a bit hampered by a bit of an anti-climactic ending that seems to serve a potential sequel more than this movie. But, before that minor disappointment can take root, there’s an amazing preview for this year’s Avenger movie that totally makes up for it. 4.) The Descendants – The movie that makes George Clooney seem mortal. Instead of his usual full bore charm and handsome, he seems like a weathered, middle aged man who’s been through some stuff. His wife is in a coma and he has to deal with raising their two daughters on his own for the first time. Of the actual Oscar nominees, it’s the one that’s going to stick with me most. I’m reluctant to say more simply ‘cause it brings up a lot of interesting personal questions for the audience that are better discussed just after having seen it. So go see it!5.) Drive – This is what Roger Corman’s movies would be if they had a budget. And, I guess, a European director. A stuntman/getaway driver with a heart of gold tries his best to help a pixie woman and her impossibly cute son. The villains chew scenery with the best of them, and the violence is delightfully over the top. Backing it up is one of the best soundtracks of the year.6.) 50/50 – Also known as “That Seth Rogen Cancer Movie.” It’s equal parts funny and touching. Joseph Gordon Levitt plays a guy who gets diagnosed with cancer and Rogen plays his best bud. While it didn’t make me cry, it has made pretty much everyone else I know cry, so there’s that too. It’s one of those few movies that I genuinely think has something for everyone. 7.) The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo – Honestly, I think I would have enjoyed this movie more if I hadn’t read the book first. That being said, it is a David Fincher movie which means I was pretty much guaranteed to like it. In typical Fincher fashion, it is beautiful to look at. His perfectionism in the appearance of a film does not usually lead to great performances, but that’s not the case this time. Rooney Mara is absolutely amazing, to the point where I’m not sure I’ll ever be able to accept her in another role. It’s a good movie and deserved far more recognition than it got.8.) Midnight In Paris – Woody Allen, a director who has almost as many misses as he’s had hits, puts out a very serviceable film. It’s not one of his masterpieces like Manhattan or Match Point, but it’s a fine lark that gets the job done. Owen Wilson, playing California Woody Allen, falls in love with Paris while visiting it with his fiancée. The fiancée in question is played by Rachel McAdams as a grown up version of her Mean Girls character, and Michael Sheen does a fantastic job as a complete arrogant dick. When Wilson goes back in time, he meets every famous artistic person who lived in Paris in the 1920s and who are played by an all-star cast. The plot is about a man coming to grips that the life he is living probably isn’t the right life for him. Like a lot of the nominees this year, it almost certainly wouldn’t have been nominated in a better year.9.) Mission Impossible 4: Ghost Protocol – Easily the best movie of the year. It’s one action set piece after another, and each is more exciting than the last! I have no memory of the story, but everything else is incredibly memorable. The climb up the side of the tallest building in the world, the fight in the weird car park, the chase through the dust storm. All of it is fantastic! I was even able to get passed Tom Cruise’s general weirdness. And finally, Simon Pegg was delightful. So, that’s it. I think all of these movies are the equal or better of any of the actual nominees, and most would have garnered more fan support. Here’s to a better 2012, everyone!
Graham Becksted just wrote the longest blog post of his short career! He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 58th follower (thank you, bots), he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.
This is the only time you are going to see the words “comic” and “book” in this post. Today, I would like to talk about the slow, crawling death of the movie theatre. I don’t want to see it happen, but there have been some telltale signs in my life lately and I thought I should share them with you.
Did you see the Golden Globes this past weekend? To me, it kind of felt like the whole thing was a disguised “In Memoriam” for the medium. Two of the big winners, The Artist and Hugo, romanticize the past in a way traditionally reserved for dead relatives. The Artist depicts a silent film star watching his career fade as a young woman’s career is getting off the ground in talkies. It takes elements (and sometimes entire scenes) from actual silent films and tries to show why that effectively dead format should be remembered and cherished. Talkies took a lot, and eventually all, of the interest away from silent films. These days, there is a parallel between all the fine entertainments available at home taking away interest in going to actual movie theatres.
Hugo features the character of Georges Melies. In real life, he was one of the first true artists of cinema inventing camera tricks and special effects that wowed audiences all over the world. Eventually, he fell into obscurity and, as in the film, ended up working at a candy/toy store in a train station. He did receive praise and awards later on in his life, he is not remembered outside of the most hardcore cinephiles now. Hugo is a fine tribute to his life and work but, judging by its box office, it’s not going to help Melies gain many new fans. Just like the audience lost interest in Melies, perhaps people are just losing interest in seeing movies in theatres.
Movie theatres aren’t doing much to help their case either. I’ve seen three movies in theatres lately: The Girl With The Dragon Tattoo, Sherlock Holmes: A Game Of Shadows, and War Horse. Tattoo and Holmes were both at an Empire theatre, and both were too dark. I don’t mean content wise, I mean the screen was actually too dark. My girlfriend’s theory is that they left the 3D lens on, and 3D movies are always darker (something to do with polarizing lenses or something). It was distracting and maybe I’m too nitpicky but it took away from my enjoyment of the films. War Horse was at a Cineplex theatre, and the picture quality was fantastic. But one of the speakers was broken and whenever there was a quiet moment all you could hear was an irritating buzz.
When I watch a movie at home, I never have to worry about those problems. My screen is set up the way I like – I can see and hear everything perfectly. Sure, I don’t have surround sound or a floor to ceiling screen. I also don’t have overpriced food, endless commercials, and irritating people sitting all around me.
I know a lot of this isn’t exactly a news flash. But, I find it telling that now it’s not just viewers talking about this. Now the films themselves seem to be forecasting their eventual demise.
Graham Becksted had a long day and is grumpier than usual. He is the author of Graham’s Grumbles the second blog by that name that is listed in Google results when you search for Graham’s Grumbles. If you would like to be his 50th follower, he can be followed on Twitter @GrahamBecksted.