The Graveyard

The Lair Of Gary James

Posts Tagged ‘star wars’

So Much More Than Meets The Eye

Posted by BigWords on December 3, 2009

I had thought that I’d seen every sick and twisted Transformers image on the web, but I was wrong. Perverts obviously have much more imagination and creativity than I give them credit for, so – after an exhaustive five minute search of weird shit – I present two more examples of the neverending Transformers gallery of weirdness.

And while I’m at it, here’s something for the Star Wars kids to get upset over:

Posted in Misc., Over The Line | Tagged: , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

How Unforgivable Does An Artistic Work Have To Be Before Enough Is Enough

Posted by BigWords on October 26, 2009

There is a thread on Absolute Write about reading a second book by an author whose first book ain’t quite up to scratch, and it got me to thinking about how bad something has to be before a creator’s entire canon is ignored. In some ways I am able to see past the voice of a writer, or filmmaker, or musician, or any other art, to accept the output for what it is, but a small part of me knows that there is more to life than slogging through an annoying or ill-conceived concept for a few good moments. There are some big event releases coming up which I’ll be waiting a while for due to this very topic.

Avatar, James Cameron’s return to the big screen may be endlessly hyped by some, though after the dumb True Lies, an obnoxious Titanic remake, and his terrible Entourage cameo, I don’t see how he has any reason to expect my money. I’ll wait on the DVD, only if the film gets good reviews, or the television premiere if it sucks ass. The notion that he has anything new to say in the realm of SF is doubtful, especially when the idea behind Avatar is examined closely. It sounds like the plot of any number of novels by people who have something to say.

George Lucas, the man to blame thank for Star Wars: The Phantom Menace is another individual who has lost any respect from me. Did he fall on his head and forget how to direct? Jeez, it’s a good thing that the fanbase ignored the terrible aspects of his second trilogy long enough for him to turn a quick buck. I’ve been wary of Star Wars properties since those films, but there have been a few games (The Force Unleashed and the Lego tie-ins) which pulled back some of the wonder from those first Star Wars films. Better than Jedi Academy at any rate…

I’m more forgiving to people who strike me as people I could have a drink with and not be irritated by. Even after Land Of The Dead and Diary Of The Dead failed to impress me, I guess I would still check out any new film George A. Romero comes up with. Is that an asshole / box office equation that I’ve just come up with? There are other creators I forgive poor quality work from, and Clive Barker – once hailed as the future of horror by no less an authority than Stephen King – is one who goes straight to the top of that list.

Cabal, a book I love as much as I am infuriated by its missed opportunities, is still with me after fifteen years of re-readings. His Books Of Blood were brilliant, and I can forgive him pretty much anything for their existence alone. His film career may not have panned out quite so well, and I’ll comfortably ignore Rawhead Rex despite it sitting on my DVD shelf alongside his other cinematic outings. I bought it, but that doesn’t necessarily mean I’ll ever watch the fucking thing – collector mentality only goes so far.

Those are familiar names. My opinion on their talent is irrelevant. Suckers will still shell out money for any old crap that is associated with Star Wars (and how else could stores shift Jar Jar Binks toys?), but that kind of loyalty has long since left me. I (thankfully) missed the One More Day storyline in Spider-Man as it was happening due to endless and awful Spidey crap from the late nineties. I hold my grudges well. Only… The Spirit (the DVD of which I finally managed to get running) is shit. I’m sure everyone is in agreement on this. Does that mean I should wait and see if Sin City 2 is okay for human viewing?

Frank Miller, whose work is divisive when discussed in polite company, is one of the very few comic book creators who have yet to create something completely unreadable. DK2 is a hard book to love, but it isn’t as terrible as some make it out to be. There is a rhythm and a specific cadence to his writing that instantly appeals, and his artwork on Sin City, while reminiscent of both Hugo Pratt and Jim Steranko in places, is a breath of fresh air. The Spirit is an anomaly, and I’m sure he will put it behind him.

I haven’t mentioned music yet, because that is trickier to separate the artist from their work. Many times I’ve heard a song which is catchy but at the same time doesn’t sound like it belongs to the performer. It isn’t necessarily that they are doing a cover of a famous track, it’s just that they aren’t the best singer for the song. Can you imagine anyone else but Roy Orbison singing In Dreams? No. That is a perfect match between singer and song, and it is a good benchmark for anyone to compare against.

Most people deserve at least two opportunities to prove themselves. If we implement the one strike rule, then James Cameron’s career would have amounted to a shit sequel to Piranha. No Terminator, no Aliens and no Titanic… It’s a good way of looking at most artistic endeavors.

Posted in Misc., Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

The Message Vs. The Story

Posted by BigWords on October 13, 2009

There’s something interesting about books which have agendas, and I’m never sure if I should be impressed or annoyed when I discover a deeper meaning in the work of an author. Ayn Rand is an obvious example, and L. Ron Hubbard is another (even if he isn’t as good a writer as Scientologists blindly believe)… I’m sure that most readers are familiar with those types of books which push a political or philosophical stance.

Is it right, though? Is it, when crafting a story, a requirement that some thought must go in to a work of fiction. I’m not sure if this is too close for me to call or not, because a lot of what I have written would be considered to contain an idea that “Chaos consumes all” and “Life is tough.” Those themes seem to come across when I sit back and armchair-analyze my own scribbles.

I owe a big debt to my reading material over the course of my childhood and teenage years for the crazier aspects of my work, and the numerous cult films I have devoured hungrily probably influenced more than a little of my world view. Trying to insert a message would be spotted right away (and everyone would call me on it immediately) so I’ve never deliberately added things which could be considered stances.

Ambiguity of politics, race and religious belief is a strength. If I don’t feel the need to promote being a certain kind of individual, then it isn’t going to come through in my work. Having said that, my writing is horrifically white… Which – being the lazy honky I am – flows easily and readily, irrespective of setting, character or era. I can’t help the fact that my characters come out a certain way.

Yet the race of my characters – and my own race – doesn’t, as far as I am concerned, bear much analysis. Same with politics, and I’m writing a lot of characters who have ideas that don’t fall into specific (and agreed-upon) political sets. I, and my creations, prefer to seek the intelligent answers to each political problem individually rather than follow the mainstream or counterculture blindly.

Religion is a tougher topic. One of my characters is very certainly a Christian (albeit a mass-murdering, psychotic and utterly irredeemable bastard), while another is shaping up to be some kind of Bhuddist-wise-man trope. I could never get over the initial stages of skepticism that is required where religion is concerned, but I’m trying (seriously, I am trying) to keep from pissing off the religiously minded.

Yet my non-beliefs aren’t playing a subliminal message in my work. I hope the agnosticism doesn’t come through too strongly, else it’ll handcuff my work, and I’m aware that there is a lot of religious folks out there…

And I come full circle to my original thought on messages-

They are interesting, and yet I have no idea why I find reading the books containing agendas so intriguing. Maybe it’s the fact that the authors believe strongly in their agendas, or because I can’t give myself into a single way of thinking so deeply that I feel the need to preach. It’s the other which exists beyond my grasp, and I’m perhaps slightly envious that some people know exactly where they fit into the universe.

Don’t get me wrong on this… I’m still annoyed when the last chapter is a monologue about how great everyone’s life would be if only they lived according to the author’s belief, or when the solution to a problem is a philosophical one, or when the MC turns out to be a political or religious figure in sheep’s clothing… The plot (and the story as a whole) should need no forced message if the message is so powerful, yet this type of story turns up a lot.

And this is where I’m stuck. This is the bit where I’m meant to come up with a clear-cut answer. This is where I’m meant to have some insight.

Nope. Not a single easy answer.

I’m not sure if I’m missing the message, agenda or whatthefuckever in my work, or if there is a dwindling pool of original ways to look at the universe, but I don’t think I need to push a world-view. It will come out in my work whether I want it to or not, as sure as the fact that most of my characters will be annoying crackers. They are a part of me, and I will influence them… And I am a bad influence.

Quick story (I promise):

I read C.S. Lewis when I was eight or nine years old, having found it in the library own my own. The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe. I didn’t know anything about the book, hadn’t heard of the story and couldn’t care less about the Christian roots of the book (which I had yet to discover). Got to hand it to Lewis… I LOVED that book. It rang a bell in my brain that didn’t stop ringing for weeks.

Why, you ask? The message is pretty blatant, and his writing is clunky in places…

It has a talking lion. A. Talking. Lion. And, if you doubt me just ask any kid, a talking lion is up there with aliens blasting ray-guns, white-hatted cowboys and knights on white horses. The fact that he can come back from the dead and kick ass just like Obi Wan made my love of that book last until I hit high school and discovered there was a book about a guy who did the same thing a couple of thousand years ago.

That revelation killed the book stone dead in my eyes. Never picked it up again.

Maybe the messages authors want to deliver, and the messages which readers take away, aren’t always so close as would be thought.

Posted in Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 2 Comments »

Got It… Got It… Got It… Need It.

Posted by BigWords on September 9, 2009

It’s probably to be expected from a book-addict, but this admission is really beyond anything I ever expected to write here. It’s fairly well known that I have a compulsive personality, so the concept of me being near shops which might – on the off chance – have books for sale is a bad one. It isn’t my fault that I have to scour the paperbacks, because it’s something I have no control over. There’s always something I don’t own, and I really ought to be looking at the important works every so often.

Only… It isn’t the classics which catch my eye. They usually have dull covers, so I’m naturally drawn to the gaudy, gauche OTT stuff which most people instinctively pass over. The latest purchases, in no particular order, are:

Batman & Robin novelization by Michael Jan Friedman
In Search Of The End Of Time by John Gribbin
Babel-17 by Samuel R. Delany
Star Wars: Hard Merchandise by K.W. Jeter
Star Wars: Vision Of The Future by Timothy Zahn

And that is one day’s purchases. Not to mention DVDs and games, though those are just as addictive:

Saints & Soldiers (Ryan Little, 2004)
The Game (David Fincher, 2001)
The Punisher (Xbox)
Project Zero II: Director’s Cut (Xbox)

Does it need to be said?

“My name is Gary, and I am an addict…”


The thought that my library will one day grow too large to safely remain contained in a building originally designed merely for domestic purposes is worrying. There are a few tonnes of books, DVDs, CDs, games, comics and toys. There’s also a very real worry that one day the floorboards will give out under the pressure of holding all that stuff in place, and I’m gonna wake up under rubble, roof-slates and all manner of construction material.

Yet I can’t bring myself to sell anything. Not even the crap which I’ll never look at again. Even if I did start selling bits of my collection, I would only end up buying back the same things.

I’m still looking for a couple of Spider-Man paperbacks, the novelization of Mission: Impossible and a few of the earlier books by Harlan Ellison, so the mad collecting isn’t going to be curtailed at any point in the near future.

Posted in Over The Line | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »

Bridging The Gap Between Sub-Genres (SF)

Posted by BigWords on August 13, 2009

(note: I don’t normally do BIG SF, so this idea is likely to change.)

There’s a lot to think about when you consider introducing the actual nuts and bolts of space travel into a science fiction novel. I would have said ‘story’ there, but ‘novel’ makes more sense, ’cause there just isn’t room in a short story to get into the how’s, why’s and where’s that would give those big ‘ol spaceships a bit of depth. I’ve been thinking of applying a fresh take on the ancient trope of interstellar combat, but the technology has been bugging me since I started thinking about space travel seriously three or four years ago.

My concepts so far run to extrapolations of current technology and a few sensible adjustments of naval terminology. Everything needs to connect in a way which makes sense of the complications which would arise, though there is damn few things which work across both hard SF and space opera, the two sub-genres I would like to tie together in a way which doesn’t negate either approach. Yeah, it’s asking a lot from the reader to believe 100% in the world and get away with epic storytelling at the same time, but it shouldn’t be this hard.

I’m getting ahead of myself, because we need a chunk of space to drop spaceships into before the mechanics of the universe can be dissected.

The Basics

I’ve started a bit of the basic outlining, such as working out how large the known universe will be, which side the hero will be on, and where everyone is in terms of alliances and emnities. The worlds which I have decided will be used are full of humans, getting rid of several added layers of complexity and staying true to the hard SF side of the mix which has evolved through the story. I’m going to let you in on how I come up with the names of the planets, because it’s only fair that some techniques get aired for future reference.

The colonies are given six-letter names, alongside a numerical reference used for diplomatic and astrological reasons. The numbers are (loosely) based on a three-dimensional grid combined with elements lifted from a Victorian map of London. It’s an eccentric approach, but it seems to adds a layer of realism to the numbering. The names on the other hand, which is what the planets will mostly be called, is pure imagination combined with a level of geekery that I am ashamed to say runs to my core.

So, you’re wondering about the names? Try these out for size:

Reofje, Cilide, Masoun, Yebroa and Maoste.

They are some of the ones which remain in the text (there are more, with even obscurer origins), and serve well to demonstrate the naming of large numbers of objects / places / ideas when I have better things to do than concern myself with minutia. I’ll tell you how I did it now…

I’ve been using a form of shorthand for the better part of a decade now, mostly because I can write incredibly fast when I get excited about an idea. My handwriting goes to shit when I’m typing fast, and is impossible to read past three or four pages. Nuts and bolts: The shorthand eliminates ‘the’ from sentences, using t/ in its place, and unique words or phrases are compressed into a few letters.

So, in this vein, Return Of The Jedi becomes ReOft/Je. When I take out the t/ I am left with ReOfJe, which gets standardized into a normal word, and “Hey presto!” I have the name of a planet, without having to discover everything about the people living there to get the ‘perfect’ name. As if I could actually come up with something better, right? Actually, this isn’t so far from the lame way in which aliens were named in Alien Nation, resulting in characters named after dead actors and cartoon characters. The guys who would name planets would get bored after a while and start calling them whatever cruddy names they felt like.

Which means I now have planets, though the planets need governed. I’ve used a loose appropriation of US politics, mingled freely with 18th and 19th Century British Empire thinking, to create a governmental system which can be seen as both horribly oppressive and wonderfully free without contradicting myself. All colonies are regarded as equal, but those with more natural resources are better than the ones which just come in over the basic requirements for the sustenance of life. It saves building factions and competing powers.

The Space-Docks

When I decided on giant space cruisers as a primary mode of transport I found myself thinking about size. Guys do this a lot, because no matter how often we are told otherwise we will obsess about size. It matters. The bigger the better, right? Well, in deference to the laws of physics I decided that the manufacturing of these behemoths would be done in space, where the issue of weight isn’t a concern. It’s still problematic, because without friction anything which begins to move will keep moving until it hits something.

Bad artists copy. Good artists steal.
Pablo Picasso

I’m taking technologies which exist, so – postulating the advances in technology combined with human ingenuity – I decided that the sensors used in cars to avoid crashes would make the process easier. There is a commercial running at the moment where a car automatically brakes when it comes up behing another car, so that is a nice example of the technology in action.

But the light from the sun is going to make things difficult… Which is where simple manufacturing robots come into their own. I pointed out the ROS being used now, so robots will have hopefully become cheap enough to mass-produce when we finally get into space. I’m not sure they will ever attain sentience, so Data from Star Trek, the annoying gay butler and the Tourettes-suffering dwarf from Star Wars (and even Arnholt from the Terminator films) can be ignored. No droids in my story thankyouverymuch.

Which brings me to A.I., and one of the worst assumptions in film I have seen. Every robot looks the same (sorry for spoiling the film if you haven’t sen it), yet in the real world there is always competition. Numerous companies trying to outdo each other is one of the cornerstones of innovation, and the idea that one single company has cornered the market so completely that no alternatives exist strikes me as ‘off’ somehow. Ghost In The Shell: Stand Alone Complex handles the idea much better.

But I said there would be no robots chatting with my main characters, so the point is moot.

To be continued…

Posted in Misc., writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

Business As Normal

Posted by BigWords on July 25, 2009

The last couple of posts were kinda lazy, pulling up stuff from disk and fobbing you guys off (which sucks – I know), but the course, my writing and a commitment for the end of next month have eaten into my already-tight schedule. So it’s back to business as normal…

Which means that I’m off on another tangent, and thinking strange thoughts.

I spent a while yesterday afternoon looking at my western-not-a-western and trying to decide when to drop the bomb. The story has taken a leap into deep mythology without me even trying to be smart, and there are now references to Aztek curses, angry spirits and ‘ghost lights’ alongside the usual shootouts. There was a half-second when I considered using a little bit of Cthulhu mythos in there as well, but I don’t want to over-egg the weirdness factor. And I took out the zombies, ’cause that would be too much even for me.

This all built itself up from a couple of completely disconnected scenes which I couldn’t figure out. Now there is a couple of thousand years of back-story, two time frames and a massive monologue which (hopefully) ties everything together. I’m still patchworking in some facts, strange characters, references and sly call-backs, but at least it looks like something that I am not completely dissatisfied with.

It was only when I got to the beginning of the mid-section (a long and convoluted trek through the middle of nowhere to find lost gold) did I realize that I have managed to link it in to some of my other stories. This is where I should explain that my stories were never intended to share a single universe, but the cumulative effect of simultaneously writing different eras, genres and formats (short stories and novels) has manifested a few common points of reference:

  1. The Native American whose skeleton is discovered in a thriller short story is of the same tribe who appear in The Reverend. Might even be a character from the novel…
  2. There’s some loose threads from Faerwither which get tied up in the monologue, though it is presented as a myth in this instance. I may leave it as it is, but the coincidental use of a common legend is slightly jarring when surrounded by other elements.
  3. A similarly-described charm to the one the MC wears turns up (chronologically) a hundred or so years later in Ghost Bureau, and has an important plot surrounding it.

It isn’t as if I am deliberately creating a cohesive universe across my work, but it seems to be happening regardless.

I’ve also noticed that there are a lot of whathefuck moments passed by completely, when something extraordinary happens and none of the characters seems too put out. The tidying up of the absurdisms will get done soon, when I have time to edit properly. There are many people who use anything they like in a story, but I have always had a hard time censoring my own thoughts – That goes some way to explain one of the stranger concepts (which has been shunted to one side now), but was originally going to be my first novel…

The novel in question began life when I was probably six or seven years old. Yes, six or seven years old, because you’re never too young to start. I didn’t write anything, but that is when the idea came to me for a fantasy story which, looking back on it, is probably no sillier than many ideas which have made it into print.

The basic concept came to me – and stuck in my brain for the better part of a decade – when I was playing on the floor, my toys laid out in front of me. I remember sorting the action figures into ranks, standing them in rows according to how large they were. The giant Voltron robot (which may have been a Hong Kong knock-off come to think of it) was at the back, with all of the Action Man figures. In front of them were the slightly smaller figures from Super Powers, He-Man, ThunderCats and other mid-sized toys.

In front of those stood the Action Force, Star Wars and tiny little toys. I seem to recall a handful which had shiny silver 3D stickers for faces, or maybe on their chests… The very smallest toys stood in the front, little 5mm tall yellow figures (I have no idea of their origin, so they remain a question mark) and some Dinky cars. The basic thought which kept interrupting my already-logical little mind was one of scale, and I struggled to put them all in a single story. When I think about it, most of the other kids had no problem whatsoever accepting the varying sizes of their playthings…

The story unfolded itself over the course of my school days, when I discovered lots of little facts that could help me orchestrate the idea of a planet with characters ranging in height from a few inches to dozens of feet tall. I also came up with a massive cast of characters at this point – somewhere in the region of two thousand main characters and many, many secondary ones. I threw everything and the kitchen sink into the epic, with werepeople, robots, the ghosts of dinosaurs, talking monkeys (just because) and other strangeness.

The original story now exists as a series of tales (300-500 pages handwritten) in the bottom left hand drawer of my desk. I’ll eventually look through them to see what I can salvage, but I have a feeling that I will be disappointed. So there you have it… The roots of my writing addiction, and a disturbing glimpse into the mind of a child who was plotting out an epic when he should have been playing in the sun.

Posted in Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

The Joy Of Series

Posted by BigWords on July 9, 2009

Have you taken a look at the number of novel series which have been published? Jeez, it’s too many… Way too many. I’ve been searching for information to add to a little something something which I’m working on, and it appears that every time I get close to nailing the “collection complete” phase, another title pops up. Is it too much to ask for a little pause between the publication of the books? I’m gonna go broke at this rate. The worst offenders are the TV tie-in books, especially those for younger readers, which seem to come off a conveyor belt somewhere.

I’ve managed to track down information on individual books, though the lists I come across are either outdated or plainly incorrect. It’s a pain when you just need a ISBN number or date of publication checked, especially when the book in question isn’t a rarity. I am, of course, skirting the issue of why I am hunting down information on books. Yeah, it’s a secret. You’ll get a kick out of the idea when I tell you, but for now I’m keeping the geeky list-listed listy kind of list under wraps. It is a difficult sell, simply reeling off a bunch of stats and information, so I’m trying to keep it from being too dry.

Whenever I decide to do one of my lists, which is more regularly than anyone should think about, I get around to the time / cost matters. How much is it gonna cost to buy all the books, and how long can I read the series before fatigue sets in. I didn’t do very well with Doctor Who, and I’ve only read a dozen or so Star Trek books. Star Wars? Maybe eight or nine books. I had the determination and the necessary funds to track down all of the X-Files tie-ins, both official and unofficial, but even those weren’t all read immediately. I’m currently sifting through a pile of completely unrelated novel series, and I think this is the way to go. Mix ‘n’ match.

I’m going to bypass the late seventies ultra-macho crap completely, and I hate the annoyingly twee Mary Kate & Ashley with a vengeance, so you can breathe easy if you thought that I was gonna be covering those. Uh-uh, not a chance. This is looking to be a much more interesting endeavour, and one which should turn out slightly better than my attempt at creating a dictionary of places, characters and terms used in the Judge Dredd strips.

Fingers crossed, this should be done by the end of the week…

Posted in comics, Over The Line, writing | Tagged: , , , , , , , , | Leave a Comment »

I Hate Everything

Posted by BigWords on June 28, 2009

Having managed to piss off a fair proportion of folks with a sledgehammer approach to critical analysis of the Blockbuster film experience, I figured I would expand on what constitutes a shit film. In the process I will serve up some sacred cows as juicy steaks, so be warned that there will be a fair amount of pain and anguish. Just because you might think something is out of bounds doesn’t mean I’m gonna play nice. My slice ‘n’ dice of the first decade of  the “Blockbuster” (as summer ‘event’ films seem to be regarded) follows thus:


Star Wars has a shitty script. Yeah, the first film. Sure, I’m talking about the one which inspired a religion. Yes, I know it is a cultural milestone. Doesn’t change the fact that there are plot holes so large that I could fly the Millennium Falcon through them. Blindfolded. With one hand tied behind my back. It doesn’t mean the film itself is worthless – it is brilliant in several regards, foremost of which is the appropriation of Lensman’s light-based weaponry. George Lucas ain’t no writer, as he has proven with the 1990s trilogy. It was also the 1990s films which showed up the fact that he ain’t much of a director either, but that is neither here nor there.


Superman. Do you need me to explain why a musical interlude in the middle of a superhero film is a bad idea? The rest of the film is fine, but Margot Kidder singing? I would rather listen to Danny Boyle explain (for the millionth time) how Slumdog Millionaire is meant to be a ‘feelgood’ film.

Jaws 2. Two words: shit floats.


The year that gave us Monty Python’s Life Of Brian and Alien also puked up Star Trek: The Motion Picture, in which nothing much happened. The film is so slow that I felt my fingernails grow as I was watching. I wouldn’t have minded so much, but the hideous costumes, abysmal acting (“The Shat” really earned his nickname with this film) and pornographic indulgence of the special effects were too much to bear.


If anyone has the balls to defend Xanadu I’ll be amazed. Popeye was a mistake writ large, while The Empire Strikes Back didn’t so much end, as abruptly stop with the main characters looking out of a window. I thought there would have been a final scene filmed for Empire, but nobody else seems to notice the lack of emotional closure for the characters. Too busy imagining what a better director would have done with the material maybe…


Superman II introduces arbritary powers for the main villains, ups the comedy and lowers the tone of the franchise – sowing the seeds for Quest For Peace, while The Cannonball Run manages to squander the talents of a host of brilliant actors.


Rocky III signals the beginning of loud, obnoxious films which have no significant point to them, other than giving the viewer a headache and nausia. Star Trek II continues to plunder the Star Trek corpse, as Poltergeist shows that horror films don’t need to be scary… Wait. Uh… Yeah, that’s the whole point of horror movies. Add Poltergeist to the shit list as well.


Not exactly a stellar year for good movies – Blue Thunder, Psycho 2, Superman III and Trading Places… The third Star Wars film seemed to be a good bet for entertaining space opera, but the best Return Of The Jedi could muster were fucking annoying Ewoks running around a jungle, Princess Leia reduced to a sexualised stereotypical damsel in distress (after a stronger presence in the second film) and poor comedy moments. It would have been better ending the franchise after the Holiday Specials. At the least, it would have been more merciful.


Star Trek III. Proving that even overweight men get to captain starships isn’t adding realism to SF. Seriously. Fat Kirk? Indiana Jones And The Temple Of Doom manages to waste time on a romantic subplot which feels tacked-on, because – obviously – Harrison Ford doesn’t need questions raised about Indy’s friendship with a little boy. 1984 also gave us the wonder that is Police Academy, the longest running comedy movie series in which you will find no comedic elements whatsoever. The gags which did work (and were honestly funny) were better when they were filmed years earlier – in films which earned the label ‘comedy’.


The producers of Rambo: First Blood Part II probably thought they were going to get some brains with their brawn, but Stallone (and the funniest accent since Kenneth Williams) is as monotone as he has ever played a character. The Rocky saga reached it’s fourth entry (incredibly, it was worse than Rambo), and had little in the way of deep insight. Raging Bull (released five years earlier) played on the same tropes as Rocky, yet managed to provide the audience with a complex main character rather than a cartoon figure masquerading as a human being. 1985 was also the year in which Cocoon served up stereotypes and character traits instead of real characters.


Just a list: Top Gun, Crocodile Dundee, Raw Deal, The Delta Force, Highlander, Howard The Duck, Maximum Overdrive, Three Amigos… If you can still savour films after sitting through that lot, then you have a better constitution than I. “Wait,” you cry, “What is Highlander doing on the list?” Apart from the accents, the needless pyrotechnics, the cheesy lines, the jarring tonal shifts, the clumsy plot, the poor FX and the historical innacuracies, it is actually quite a good film.


The Untouchables rewrites history, badly, and gives special appearances by the camera operators in-frame… Spaceballs. I don’t need to qualify that with any explanation. Even the Nightmare On Elm Street series had given up anything remotely resembling plot, character or setting in order to make the villain (a fucking child molestor!) into a comedy routine. If Lethal Weapon can be considered a film, then it also goes on the list, but I prefer to think of it as cruel and unusual punishment. Show that shit at Gitmo, and every motherfucker in the joint will be claiming they are Osama bin Laden, just to end the pain…

There you have it. Ten years of film distilled in one easy blog. If I can bear the memories of another ten years of awful films I may continue…

Posted in Over The Line | Tagged: , , , , , , , , , , , , | 1 Comment »