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It’s Only a Movie – a Column By Jordan Royce

PrintE-mail Written by Jordan Royce Thursday, 12 May 2011

It's Only A Movie - by Jordan Royce


Kristen Stewart, setting back the feminist agenda by half a century…

I’m into Vampires. Not as much as James Bond, or Comic books, but I have always been drawn to the Mythology and its many and varied interpretations across the mediums. Its constant reinvention and reinterpretation by different writers to suit their prose, was never a concern. Even up to 2008 all seemed well, with David Slade’s ’30 Days Of Night’ and Tomas Alfredson’s ‘Let the Right One In’ – both bringing some new juice to the genre. Then it changed, quickly, suddenly, and horrifically.

My Vampires were now dreamy boyfriend material for teenage girls. The modern Fairy-tale ending had substituted a handsome prince for a Demon whose ultimate objective was to drain your blood, and replace your soul with that of a demon. The rot set in many years ago with Anne Rice and ‘Interview With The Vampire’, and the Journey culminated with the hideous ‘ Twilight Saga’ brought to us by the clueless and talentless Mormon, Stephenie Meyer. A writer so bad, that Stephen King even took time out from dodging minivans to insinuate that she was a crap version of J.K. Rowling. Irrespective of the wisdom of using Ms Rowling as a literary yardstick, I find his conclusion to be satisfactory.

A few months ago when the ‘Twilight’ ethos had begun to extend its tentacles into other horror fayre with the impending release of the dire ‘Red Riding Hood’ and insipid ‘Beastly’ , it felt like being under siege. I decided to embrace my demons and, like an Emo preparing for a session of ‘self-harm’, I sat down to watch the entire ‘Twilight Trilogy’. I saw this very much as a double edged sword. Whilst there was a danger that I might become contaminated and actually like them, at least according to Sun Tzu I would ‘know my enemy’.

My worst possible expectations were surpassed almost immediately. If I ever need a nice easy job, I want to be the Official Vampire Hunter for the town of Forks. As I understand it, the Job description entails wandering up and down the high street staking anyone with baking powder all over their face, bright red lipstick, and glittering skin whenever the Sun is out. An alternative method would be to target anyone who would be at home in a 60’s horror sitcom. The whole aesthetic of the movie sets a ludicrous tone from the second the main character begins to interact with her peers, and notices the cartoony Cullen Clan. It teeters on the edge of this precipice until finally descending into full blown farce. At this point in the proceedings the most obvious Vampires in Cinematic History did at least have the fact that they were teenagers to partially excuse their appearance. When Carlisle Cullen (Edwards’ Daddy and the Town Doctor) makes his appearance for the first time, in the Hospital as a Doctor, the movie takes on the atmosphere of a ‘Scary Movie’ type of parody. With his slicked back ‘Lugosi’ hair, baking powder face, and red lips – he might as well have been wearing a Halloween costume. No-one looks like that in everyday life or within the Medical Profession, and yet everyone is seemingly oblivious to this, and no-one bats an eyelid. When you are subsequently bombarded with dialogue about the importance that they remain undiscovered, and not have their existence made public, it becomes frankly laughable. The lead characters are an absolute nightmare to watch as they infect the screen with their drivel. Kristen Stewart is setting back the feminist agenda by half a century with her portrayal of the insipid Bella, whilst Robert Pattinson gifts us with a Vampire whose fangs obviously compensate for the lack of a pair of more essential items. If you ignore all of the nonsense and concentrate on the Romance, you are similarly staring into a void, as you never understand why on earth they want to be together. Bella, in particular, simply comes across as brain washed. After ignoring his weird appearance, and a massive display of super strength when he saves her from an on-coming vehicle,  the penny finally drops when she reads a book at the Library that might as well have been titled ‘Is Your Boyfriend A Vampire?’ The confrontation scene in the forest is equally mind numbing. Edward tries to be honest with her by confessing that he is a murderer. ‘It’s ok’ she answers. Really?  So what would have been the deal breaker then, Bella? This leads to the ‘money shot’ when we first see how these new-fangled Vamps deal with sunlight. Off he goes, glistening like a bauble off a Christmas tree in a scene far too nauseating to go into detail here. Another spectacular scene of note, comes when Edward brings her home to meet the potential Vampire in-laws. It’s a jokey, folksy, scene straight out of ‘The Munsters’. All that was missing was a knock at the door from the Postman, whose hair then stands on end in terror as the Munster-Cullens appear - followed by a scene of him running away at comedy speed (cue canned laughter track). I am not going to comment on the wretched baseball game, used to illustrate that these potential mass murderers know how to have fun, and also have the super speed powers of DC Comics’ ‘The Flash’.


The Vampires are not the only Supernatural inhabitants of this Mormon propaganda-verse. There are some Native Americans with long hair. They turn out to be Werewolves in a twist that fails to shock, as we were told that they were Werewolves in ‘Twilight’, and were obviously expected to forget by the time ‘Twilight – New Moon’ was released. Two Different species, amazing. By comparison the Star Wars universe is populated by several thousand species, all fully realised in the various movies, and spin-offs. That is not relevant though, is it? Well, maybe it just shows how little work went into this crap.

Moving onto ‘Twilight – New Moon’, and things continue in the same vein. There is a sequence that is amazingly funny. I had to hit the pause button, as I was in fits of laughter. Bella gets dumped, and sits pining away. We are treated to a scene where she looks through the window, and it is summer. The camera rotates around her, and through the window you can see leaves falling, and that it is clearly Autumn. The next rotation shows that it is now Winter through the window. This sequence could only be funnier if a fourth rotation were added. This time showing a Nuclear Apocalypse through the window.  I haven’t even mentioned the Werewolves yet. I mustn’t leave them out. They are the worst portrayal of the Mythical Creature in Motion Picture History. When they appeared for the first time in ‘Twilight-New Moon’, I could barely believe my eyes. They make the CGI creations in the ‘Spawn’ movie seem complex and inspired. Bounding onto the screen like a bunch of cartoon extras from ‘Who Framed Roger Rabbit’. They are a case study in bad CGI. It is genuinely astounding that anyone thought this was acceptable in a movie of such a budget. Of course, the only Werewolf we get to know to any extent is ‘Jacob’ – a character introduced solely to provide a love triangle.

‘Twilight-Eclipse’ continues in exactly the same vein. Wash, rinse, repeat. Particularly distressing about this one is that it is directed by David Slade (‘30 Days Of Night’). Anything that was ever between me and David is now history. He is dead to me. At least by the time ‘Twilight-Eclipse’ started, I had begun to desensitise to the Mormon Trojan Horse that I had invited freely into my home. Sadly this meant that my amusement at the ludicrous happenings on screen subsided, giving way to listless apathy and boredom. ‘Twilight Eclipse’ tries to deliver the goods, and actually move the story forward. Instead you get a 2 hour Mormon sermon delivered by Edward who refuses to shag Bella before wedlock. A philosophy that runs through the entire Saga with all the subtlety of the word ‘Blackpool’ running through the centre of a stick of rock. The final battle at the end of the movie is so lacklustre that it makes you feel as though you have fallen asleep and missed ten minutes. It just feels so limp and lifeless. When you consider the usual standard of work that my ex David is capable of, it makes you wonder what mind-numbing forces seem to inhabit everyone connected with these projects.

To summarise my major problem with the whole saga – nothing happens. Over the course of a movie Trilogy,  hardly anything actually happens. I offer up my Trilogy Synopsis.

‘Twilight’.  Bella moves to live with her Dad in Forks. Bella meets Edward Munster-Cullen at College and fancies him. She then finds out He is a Vampire, and a big girly girl. She then meets the rest of the Munster-Cullens followed by some bad Vampires who want to feed off her. Despite massively outnumbering the Bad Vamps, Bella and the Munster-Cullens bugger off, then have a girly fight which they win – but one Bad Vamp escapes (Victoria).

‘Twilight-New Moon’.  Bella wants to be murdered and become a vamp, but Eddy won’t oblige. Then he buggers off. She becomes friends with Jacob who promptly shaves off his long hair, stops wearing shirts, and becomes a cartoon Werewolf. Bella is depressed over Eddy baby, and botches a suicide.
Eddy hears She is dead and tries to kill himself, before Bella turns up, says “I’m Alive” and the Munster-Cullens all agree to murder her for her graduation present. (More thoughtful than an HMV gift voucher I suppose).

‘Twilight-Eclipse’. Victoria bites someone from Forks, they make some more Naughty Vamps, and go to Forks to kill Bella. Eddy Baby, Jacob Pecs, and Bella nearly have a three way in a tent (this does not happen due to confusion over who the man would be). The Munster-Cullens team up with the Werewolves and kill all of the naughty Vamps. Eddy and Bella are now engaged, and Eddy has finally come to his senses and is willing to murder her. Tha Tha Tha That’s all folks…

Three movies to deliver  a 90 minute TV Movie of the week. ‘Twilight’ is an empty vessel of a saga. A total and utter fraud. It’s the ultimate ‘Emperors  New Suit of Clothes’ and the King most definitely is in the altogether. My massive problem with these films is the long term damage they are doing to a Mythos that so many talented Actors, Writers and entire Film Studios have shaped and moulded into a specific genre, over the last century. Only to have this Mormon nonsense, reduce the entire body of work into ridicule. Think I’m overreacting? Imagine having the villain ‘Blofeld’ in a modern James Bond movie in his classic form. Do you think that Post  ‘Austin Powers’, having a villain in a high tech Lair, stroking a white cat would not be greeted with audience hysterics, and an evaporation of any credibility?

In severe need of therapy post ‘Twilight’, I decided to catch up with the Scott Stewart Movie ‘Priest’ the other day. I elected for a private screening so I went to the Showcase Cinema in Manchester (Mancunians will catch my drift). Again the Orange ‘Rio’ ad transformed the auditorium into Guantanamo Bay for me. Those of you who listen to the Radio Show will be very aware of my feelings towards this particular ad campaign. For those that don’t I will elaborate. If you have seen a Movie during the last 6 months you will have been subjected to the Orange ‘Rio’ ad with the main characters phoning in their performances via a 3G Orange mobile, and being comically disgruntled at missing their trip to Rio, and filming on location. Genetically unfunny, and the latest in a line of Orange ads filmed alongside a major movie, and showing the cast of the movie to be the cash grabbing sell-outs that they really are (shame on you Jack Black). The ‘Rio’ ad has been showing directly in front of the Main Feature for the past six months. By now I estimate that I have seen it over 70 times. I just can’t take it anymore, and there is no escaping the damn thing, as it is the last ad before the Movie begins. I despise Orange, and would never see ‘Rio’ if my life depended on it, all due to this campaign. Genius. Please someone end this for me. I am 3 viewings away from setting fire to the screen.

Currently turning your Local Multiplex into Guantanamo Bay…

As for ‘Priest’, sorry‘Priest 3D’ – well, bit rubbish, but passed 90 minutes on a day when I was getting a load of grief. I was lured in like many of you with the Post Apocalypsy (is that a word?) stuff, and Sci-Fi trimmings, only to get a very lukewarm, pot boiler of a movie. On face value the story of a future where a war between Vampires and Humans has brought the World to its knees is nothing new, but could be realised fully in the right hands. The saga kicks off when the Warrior Priest played by Paul Bettany breaks his vows and goes off to hunt down a bunch of Vampires who have kidnapped his Niece. The problems with the movie begin almost immediately, and in no small measure lie with the casting of the Lead Role. ‘Priesty Boy’ - Paul Bettany.

Another movie cliché spotted in Priest…

Paul Bettany has apparently been studying the ‘Sam Worthington Method’. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the techniques employed by Mr Worthington, I am happy to elaborate. Like ‘Iron Pirates’, it is easy to be confused by Mr Worthington into feeling like you have actually seen the real thing. I can assure you that it is not the case and that you have not been exposed at any stage to real acting. Real acting does involve a certain amount of emotional depth, and believability that you will not have experienced. It is a very confusing situation with Mr Worthington, but movement and a pulse do not adequately provide what you are looking for. I have personally suffered many suicidal impulses during his ‘performances’, but I have been informed that these feelings are quite natural.
‘Clash of the Titans’ famously tried to compensate for some of the side effects of the ‘Sam Worthington Method’ by providing you with a 3D version of your favourite meat puppet, but this was to no avail. Sadly Mr Worthington was able to contaminate even this attempt to introduce reality into his chosen art form. Providing us with chins of varying shape and depth, and no improvement with regards to the ultimate objective of convincing us that we were watching one of those human beings living an actual life on screen. In ‘Priest’, Paul Bettany does Mr Worthington proud. The sad fact is that this type of role has been replicated constantly for the last 30 years. Since ‘Escape From New York’, bad impersonations of Clint Eastwood have been the weapon of choice for every desperate Director/Actor, given a ‘tough guy’ persona as his leading role. It’s depressing because no one EVER pulls it off. Watching ‘Gran Torino’ confirms that even in his late 70’s, only Eastwood knows how to achieve this.

The rest of the cast are equally lifeless, with the usually watchable Karl Urban doing Panto (‘Black Hat’? My Word, and don’t bother telling me it’s true to the source material). Maggie Q  as ‘Priestess’ (look, I promise I’m not making this up) is ok, but is only granted one cool scene to shine... Stephen Moyer turns up with his silly voice. I thought he only did that in ‘True Blood’,  but it turns out it really is his actual voice. He did nearly cry out “Sookieeee" in his one scene. All this disfunctionality amongst the cast may sound like fun, but it’s not. Not really. But it is in 3D, so at least we can revel in a fantasy world and just take in the visuals? No. Not really.

In Gig terms this is ‘The Greatest Hits Tour’. Similar to heat being produced as a system property from the interactions of the parts of a central heating system, a skilful director can merge ideas from other sources and create something original. This does not happen here. You sit through 90 minutes of ‘Genre Bingo’. Creatures from ‘Descent’, tick. Scene from ‘Aliens’ with eggs (sorry, cocoons that ‘resemble’ them), tick. Post-Apocalyptic desert from ‘Mad Max 2’, tick. Slo Mo ‘Matrix’ fight scenes, tick. Futuristic Cities from ‘Chronicles Of Riddick’ (or ‘Judge Dredd’, etc, etc), tick. Jedi’s from ‘Star Wars’ (surprisingly no laser type swords - my input for the sequel Mr Stewart?), tick. Bikes from ‘Tron Legacy’ that leave a dust trail behind them, tick. “House!”. You catch my drift. Sadly this Priest is urgently in need of the Last Rites (you won’t be surprised to hear just how badly that pun went down on the Starburst Radio Show).

Being a sucker for any Comic book or Superhero material on the big or small screen, I had to catch up with recent Superhero Series “The Cape”. This series had completely eluded me, but was recommended by a friend. Hopefully Paul Mount will not mind me entering his playground for a brief sojourn, but I cannot help myself, and simply have to comment on this debacle. ‘The Cape’ tells the story of Palm City Policeman, Vince Faraday who is framed by Crime Lord Chess, left for dead, then taken in and mentored by a bank robbing Circus troupe lead by Max Malini. Max trains him, gives him some weaponry (including his signature cape), and he becomes the vigilante known as ‘The Cape’. Together with his tech savvy sidekick ‘Orwell’ they set out to bring down Chess. I have a theory about this show. Cape creator Tom Wheeler is involved in an accident in 1988, as a result of which he remains in a coma until 2010. Leaving the hospital and trying to rebuild his life, he contacts an old friend who happens to still be at NBC. The old friend takes pity and commissions Wheelers’ script about a cheesy superhero that he was working on at the time of the accident. The show is made and the NBC execs sit down for the first screening. Amidst fainting, choking and blind panic they attempt to pull the show before it airs – but it’s too late.

The Cape - made 25 years ago, but with modern actors…

That previous scenario would be the only set of circumstances that would adequately explain how on earth this show ever got made. It is truly unfathomable. It would have been a cheesy embarrassment back in the late 80’s, but at least it would have had ‘The Flash’ on TV and ‘Dick Tracy’ at the flicks, providing some vindication for these camp antics. Watching this in 2011 is a very strange experience. I was a little concerned when I saw that ‘franchise killer’ Summer Glau was on board playing ‘Orwell’. Poor Summer’s CV reads like a network cancellation list. I have images of her arriving on set wearing a Grim Reaper costume on her first day of shooting any new series she lands. You can imagine the ’bitter-sweet’ moment when an actor lands a Prime Time Show only to discover a few days later that the ‘Glausternator’ is on board with the project. Cue desperate call to Agent, begging them not to turn down offers that might clash with a potential second season. Don’t get me wrong, She is a fine looking woman with adequate acting chops, but if this mag ever carries an Interview with her, then I wouldn’t bother adding us to your browser ‘favourites’, and trying to log on for the next issue.

Coming Soon to bury a Franchise near you…

As superheroes go, the main character played by David Lyons is a ropey version of Batman, and the training period in which he learns to be the ultimate fighting machine, is entirely unconvincing and too short (impressively we were spared a ‘Cape Training montage’ punctuated by a song from a soft rock band). Even the ‘cool’ way in which he uses his cape as a finely honed weapon, just looks rubbish. To add to the clichés Summer Glau does a fair job as ‘Orwell’ (don’t laugh. At least it shows they read). A cypher character filling a hybrid role somewhere between ‘Oracle’ from  Batman, and ‘Q’ from Bond. At least her presence serves to reassure you that the series will be coming to an end soon, and your suffering will be over. The villain ‘Chess’ and his henchman ‘Scales’ (played by Vinnie Jones, nuff said), would be right at home in the 1960’s, with Adam West and Burt Ward. There is no real point in evaluating the acting, because it doesn’t feel like real acting. This is a programme that catapults you back to the era of Spiderman running around in pyjamas, and not in a good way.

The whole affair has a strange atmosphere, and genuinely feels as though it was made 25 years ago, but with modern actors. The final scene with the Cape chatting outside his sons’ window is bizarre. His son thinks his dad died a criminal (he was framed by Chess), so he pays him a visit as the Cape. He is standing four feet away from his son, and manages to explain that his Dad was really a good guy. Maybe his dad was a good guy, but his son is a real jerk. Unable to recognise his own father from four feet away, just because he is wearing a cape, and putting on a growly Christian bale voice. Wow.

That is me done. Next month we will be able to chat about ‘Attack The Block’ and maybe the Starburst Launch Party in Manchester. Hopefully I will have sorted out my little misunderstanding with The Supernatural Squad in Brighton, without me going on patrol with them. Oh, how I wish that was not a serious statement. We can work it out guys…


Jordan Royce can be contacted at Jordan.royce@starburstmagazine.com
and Co-Hosts the Starburst Radio Show with News Editor Kris Heys,
every Sunday 9am until 12am GMT on Manchester Radio Online – www.manchesterradioonline.com



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Comments  

 
+1 #5 Brian Gorman 2011-05-31 06:37
Like it, Centurion; like it. ;)
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+6 #4 Matt Tender 2011-05-24 23:08
This is one of the funniest things i ever read. if this is the same dude on the podcasts i am having a listen tonight.
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+2 #3 Robin Pierce 2011-05-17 19:17
I was a HUGE fan of John Brosnan throughout his career from James Bond in the Cinema, Movie Magic and Primal Screen to his columns in House of Hammer and Starburst. So pleased to see the memoriam paying respect to the legend, and especially pleased to see the column continue in the same funny and controversial tone. Somewhere, Mr Brosnan is reading and smiling at a job well done.
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+4 #2 PaulM 2011-05-17 19:13
I'm getting the impression you really weren't fussed on the Twilight saga.
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+4 #1 Ted Lyons 2011-05-16 14:08
I got forced to read this column by JB in the troy. became the highlight of my month. Can't believe it's back. really made me laugh out loud. so good. don't know Jordan but he has done Brozzer proud.glad it is different only one JB. seems i have a new monthly treat. good luck! not many would have bothered with a memorium to JB, his friends appreciate it. very decent.
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