SCHIZO-
POLITAN
Voyaging on the Seas of Cult Fiction – Comment and Reviews on Comics, Movies, TV, Books and more…

Schizopolitan – The Podcast: Episode 8 – The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies

It returns! The Schizopolitan podcast roars into 2015 with a fresh episode, in which Saxon and Jehan take on The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies! Not only do they examine the latest Peter Jackson film in detail, they also us it to look back on the whole experience of Middle-Earth on film, and all the interestingly weird ways in which the Hobbit Trilogy hasn’t worked out as planned. Action! Bloat! Sexy Dwarves! Plus, a Comic Recommendation for the current (and spectacular) Image Humble Comics Bundle, an offer which runs until January 21st 2015!

Enjoy the podcast (please let us know in the comments if you do), and stay tuned for more episodes soon! And remember – you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Share and Enjoy!

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

RE: VIEW – Tron Legacy, The Grand Budapest Hotel

Films recently watched:

TRON: LEGACY

Shiny. So shiny. ALL THE SHINY. I hadn’t watched Tron: Legacy since seeing it in IMAX in 2010, and it’s still a fantastically odd film – a megabudget sequel to an oddball 1982 example of style over substance that was a cult favourite and a style classic but never what could objectively be described as good. Here, we get shininess, epic vistas, gigantic amounts of visual style, and an hilariously creaky screenplay – plus, it’s also a fantastic argument for getting a Blu-Ray player and a decent soundsystem so that Daft Punk’s epic soundtrack can DESTROY you with its bass. There’s a good film trying to make itself heard inside Tron: Legacy, but it’d take a better director than Joseph Kosinski to make it happen. The Arena/Light Cycles sequence remains a highlight, and Jeff Bridges’ creepy digital younger self remains a brave but failed experiment that latter-day films have mostly steered clear of. Odd to view it in context as Disney’s attempt at doing an Avatar (which had hit only a year previously), and that Hollywood is no longer quite so desperate to sell us on 3-D as it once was.

THE GRAND BUDAPEST HOTEL

Wes Anderson films often don’t agree with me (I can remember being frustrated and confounded by Rushmore, while others adored it) but this weird and melancholy confection is just about stylised and crazy enough to win me over. Presented inside a nested set of stories (with different aspect ratios), it’s an oddball 1930s European caper that gradually unveils a darker, more violent edge, before delivering a tragic finale in its last minutes. As always, it features an incredible cast (Ralph Fiennes is a particular urbane highlight), it’s production-designed within an inch of its life and so studied and kooky that it may make less open-minded viewers want to scream, but it’s also a gloriously odd exercise in moviemaking that plays as if Anderson had watched the stranger films of the Coen Brothers and declared “Not odd enough!”, thus pushing into territory that’s sometimes similar to fellow cinematic arch-kook Guy Maddin. I may not always adore his work, but I’m glad that Wes Anderson is still out there, making these kind of individual, quirky, love-them-or-hate-them films.

Schizopolitan – The Podcast: Episode 7 – Star Wars: The Force Awakens, Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys and The Wicked + The Divine…

It returns! Once more, Saxon and Jehan hurl themselves into the heart of the pop culture maelstrom to discuss the latest SF/Fantasy pop culture happenings! This time, it’s a trailer special as they take on the recent burst of movie trailers for films upcoming in 2015 – along with an in-depth (and pretty much unavoidable) discussion of the Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser, they also talk Insurgent, Mad Max: Fury Road, Jurassic World, Terminator: Genisys, and much more! (Rewatch the relevant trailers above, to get you in the podcast-listening mood!)

Plus, there’s the Comic of the Podcast, which this time is The Wicked + The Divine by Kieron Gillen and Jamie McKelvie, which you can buy digitally here on Comixology.

Enjoy the podcast (please let us know in the comments if you do), and stay tuned for more episodes soon! And remember – you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Share and Enjoy!

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Schizopolitan – The Podcast: Episode 6 – Pax Americana, Doctor Who and Marvel’s Phase Three movies…

IT RETURNS! The podcast that EVERYBODY is talking about (well, everybody worth knowing) returns with another sense-defying episode to expand your horizons, transform your life and make you a better, sexier person. This episode, Saxon and Jehan take on a wide variety of subjects as they look at the recently concluded Season 8 of Doctor Who and also tackle the upcoming Phase 3 of Marvel films, sorting out who’s who, what’s what, and the kind of blockbuster madness that we can look forward to – while also finding time for a look at the more worrying movie developments with Spider-Man and the Fantastic Four…

Additionally, starting this podcast, we’re recommending a comic an episode – this time it’s The Multiversity: Pax Americana by Grant Morrison and Frank Quitely, and you can buy a digital copy of it here at Comixology.

Enjoy the podcast (please let us know in the comments if you do), and stay tuned for more episodes soon! And remember – you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! SHare and Enjoy!

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Schizopolitan – The Podcast: Episode 5 – The Mad Max Trilogy Retro Special

It returns! The Schizopolitan podcast rides again, and this time Jehan and Saxon have cranked up their V8 Interceptor and blasted out of the Wastelands with a bunch of fetish-clad bikers on their tail, all so they can bring you a detailed examination of the Mad Max trilogy, the three post-apocalyptic cult classic movies that gave us a uniquely bonkers view of the end of the world. Cars! Bikes! Trucks! Mel Gibson! Assless chaps! MORE ACTION THAN YOU CAN POSSIBLY HANDLE! (With a few added technical snafus…)

Enjoy the podcast (please let us know in the comments if you do), and stay tuned for more episodes soon! And remember – you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! SHare and Enjoy!

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Schizopolitan: The Podcast – Episode 4 – The DC/Marvel Superhero Movie Smackdown

It’s back! The Schizopolitan podcast returns, and this time Jehan and Saxon tackle the thorny subject of the newly released DC movie slate! A slew of release dates have been revealed for movies in the DC shared universe (which will be properly kicking off in Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice) stretching through till 2020. But what does this mean? What properties have been chosen, and why? Will DC stand any chance of matching Marvel’s success? And will any of what Jehan and Saxon say result in Aquaman actor Jason Momoa wanting to punch them? Listen to the podcast to find out the answer to these questions, and many more!

Also, Lego movies! Fantastic Beasts and Where To Find Them! Rumblings in the world of Marvel! And does Sony really not have the faintest idea what they’re doing with Spider-man?

Enjoy the podcast (please let us know in the comments if you do), and stay tuned for more episodes soon! And remember – you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Follow this link to subscribe – the first three episodes are already available, and this latest one should be up there in the next 48 hours…

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Schizopolitan: The Podcast – Episode 3 – Doctor Who, Gotham and Star Wars: Rebels

Schizopolitan lives! After a hiatus longer than we wanted, Jehan and I have finally succeeded in recording another episode of joyful rambling about film, television, comics and everything else that takes our fancy. This week, I do a brisk half-time report on Season 8 of Doctor Who, looking at how Peter Capaldi is shaping up as the new Doctor, and then we’re on to tackling two new US TV shows. First up is Gotham, the new series that’s using a traditional cop-show format to do a massive prequel story for the Batman mythos, giving us a sprawling origin not only of Batman and stand-up cop Jim Gordon, but also virtually every villain you can think of. We look at the first two episodes of Gotham – its highs, its lows, and its tonal weirdness – while the other show we look at is Star Wars: Rebels, the entertaining new CGI animation that’s also the first onscreen Star Wars material released since George Lucas sold the franchise to Disney, and an interesting sign of what’s to come…

Enjoy the podcast (please let us know in the comments if you do), and stay tuned for more episodes and less lengthy hiatuses! And please remember – you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Follow this link to subscribe – the first two episodes are already available, and episode 3 should be up there within the next couple of days…

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Schizopolitan: The Podcast – Episode 2 – Guardians of the Galaxy

And we’re back! Our first podcast went better than we expected, we got some nice feedback from a few people, so here, for your delectation and bewilderment, is episode 2 of the Schizopolitan podcast, featuring 75 minutes of Saxon Bullock and Jehan Ranasinghe talking about stuff! This time we tried to be a little more structured, and spent most of the podcast discussing Marvel’s latest hit Guardians of the Galaxy, looking at the many aspects of the movie that worked surprisingly well, while also examining the parts that didn’t come off quite so effectively. (There are a few spoilers in what we talk about – nothing huge, mainly about story structure (especially as relating to big Marvel bad guy Thanos), but it probably helps if you have seen the film already, and it isn’t spoil-free.) After that, there’s also time for a short update on the first podcast’s discussion on Female Superheroes, as we examine Sony’s plans for a female-fronted superhero in the Spider-man universe and try to work out whether any of them have any chance of working…

Hope you enjoy the podcast (feel free to let us know in the comments if you do), and stay tuned for another episode in the not-too-distant future!

Also – you can now subscribe to the podcast on iTunes! Follow this link to subscribe, and episode 2 should be available there relatively soon after this post goes live…

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Podcast: Schizopolitan – Episode 1 – The Saga Begins…

It’s been a long time, but Schizopolitan has risen from the grave… and this time we’re trying something a little different – presenting the SCHIZOPOLITAN PODCAST! I’ve teamed up with my friend and occasional collaborator Jehan Ranasinghe (on Twitter as @Maustallica) for what we’re hoping is going to be a regular series of podcasts looking at the world of Movies, TV, Animation, Games, Comics, and whatever else grabs our attention. It’s our first attempt at anything like this, so bear with us as we figure out various problems, wrestle with technical difficulties and generally ramble like there’s no tomorrow.

In this debut episode (running for 95 minutes), we use the recent aftermath of San Diego Comic Con to discuss some of the con’s announcements and reveals, but that soon spirals into a general discussion of blockbuster cinema in general – there’s talk about Star Wars and the new TV animated show Star Wars: Rebels, the first photo of the Wonder Woman costume and how much we know about Batman V Superman: Dawn of Justice, the potential upcoming DC Universe movies, and then a more wide-ranging talk about the ‘problem’ of a Female-fronted superhero blockbuster and why Hollywood seems so nervous about the idea…

Hope you enjoy our first episode, and stay tuned for more editions of Schizopolitan: The Podcast soon!

(The opening and closing music on the podcast is ‘Ouroboros’ by Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com). Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0. creativecommons.org/licenses/by/3.0/)

Wars Trek: Eight Thoughts on JJ Abrams directing ‘Star Wars: Episode VII’

JJ Abrams Star Wars Episode VII
1: I’m surprised that it’s actually happening. My first reaction to the rumours that JJ Abrams might be directing Star Wars: Episode VII was “That’s weird.” My second was “Didn’t he say he’d turned it down?” My third, eventually, was “I bet this is one of those rumours that turns out to be false.” Just occasionally, it seems the Internet can prove me wrong.

2: It’s a choice that’s simultaneously understandable, a little odd, and almost a little too obvious. Alongside Joss Whedon, Abrams was one of the first directors touted by fans for Star Wars, simply because of his 2009 Trek reboot, which almost immediately seemed to make him unlikely to do it. He’s proved himself able to handle a big, technically complex blockbuster with heavy levels of special effects. He’s also able to handle character well, something not every candidate could manage (Hello, Zack Snyder). The fact that the 2009 Star Trek reboot shared so much storytelling DNA with Star Wars makes this all feel like one of those fandom wish-fulfilment “Oh, wouldn’t it be great if ****** got to direct it?” dreams that’s somehow spilled out into reality. But he’s signed. It’s official.

3: The countdown begins now to the point where Disney announce a release date shift from 2015 to 2016. Abrams is still in post-production on Star Trek: Into Darkness, and then he’ll have major press commitments around the release. If the 2015 release is stuck to, that gives him just over two years for all the pre-production, shooting the film, and the post-production – for a blockbuster, that’s a pretty tight turnaround, and while they can be made to a tight schedule, the end results often aren’t pretty. Many blockbusters have been ruined by sticking to a release date over everything (often meaning that shooting starts without a script in place), but with so much riding on this, I’m pretty sure Disney aren’t going to force Abrams to rush what’s likely to be an epic production schedule (especially in terms of post-production and CGI effects work). I’d also lay bets on that being part of the deal – I doubt Abrams would have signed to do something like this if he didn’t also get the power to do it *right*.

4: He’s a fan. It’s one of the resons he quoted for originally turning it down, but Abrams is a dyed-in-the-wool Star Wars fan, which means anyone worrying about Episode VII being slathered in lens-flare can probably relax. I’m sure it’ll look slick as hell, but I also suspect he’s going to stick a lot closer to the visual style of the original movies. Not being a fan of Trek before he hopped onboard the reboot meant he went about reviving the franchise in a very deliberate way (admittedly, one I didn’t always agree with), giving it a very new and fresh identity, with aspects of the classic version of Trek woven in. I suspect Abrams’s Star Wars will be a lot more faithful to what’s come before.

5: He’s capable of being an amazing director, but Abrams has yet to make a film I’ve wholeheartedly loved. Mission: Impossible III is great fun, but light as a feather and essentially plays as a feature-length episode of Alias (Abrams’s hilariously convoluted female-led TV spy-saga) with Tom Cruise as a lead, a blockbuster budget, and fewer over-the-top costumes and wigs. Star Trek is great fun, but has a plot that shatters into pieces if you so much as breathe on it, and also sacrifices a bit *too* much of Trek’s sense of intellectual SF adventure in favour of wham-bam action and STUFF! BLOWING! UP! Super 8 is frustratingly close to being an outstanding movie – when it’s being a homage to the Amblin movies that Abrams grew up with, it’s heartfelt, beautifully played and genuinely moving. However, when it veers left into Stephen King territory, it ends up drowning out the quieter (and stronger) emotional content in favour of horror-movie shocks, an alien that’s both an evil chomp-monster and a misunderstood tragic figure, and even more STUFF! BLOWING! UP! It’s especially frustrating when Abrams’s television work has almost always been stunning – especially the pilot episode of ‘Lost’, which still stands up as an awesome and adventurous piece of television. I’m hoping that maybe taking on Star Wars will make Abrams push that little bit further, and produce something that really does pay off the talent and storytelling I saw in all those jaw-dropping early episodes of Alias.

6: Screenwriters Alex Kurtzman and Roberto Orci (Transformers, Cowboys and Aliens, Star Trek) are not writing this film, and I can’t begin to describe how happy this makes me – especially as they seemed joined at the hip with Abrams. Other people are worried at the idea that Damon Lindelof may get involved thanks to his Abrams connection, a worry mainly rooted in him getting lots of the blame for people’s disappointment with Prometheus – but (a) most of the blame for Prometheus’s undeniable flaws have to be piled at Ridley Scott’s door, and (b) screenwriter Michael Arndt is already at work, and if whatever he’s done is presumably good enough to play into changing Abrams’s mind, I’m hopeful that we may be in good hands. (And whatever happens, any of the screenwriters will have to work very hard to best some of the insanely creaky writing in the prequels).

7: Thanks to a rumour that directorial contender Matthew Vaughan would have cast Chloe Moretz in a pivotal role, it’s very possible that there’s a significant role for a young female lead. If Abrams isn’t on the phone to his Super 8 star Elle Fanning right now, then the man’s a fool…

8: Ultimately, I can live with JJ Abrams directing Star Wars, but it doesn’t fill me with an immense surge of excitement either. We’ll get a damn efficient crowd-pleasing SF blockbuster, and I can almost guarantee there’ll be a sense of character and life back in the celluloid Star Wars universe that hasn’t been there for a while, but there’s still no guarantees that it’s going to be anything other than a pretty SF blockbuster with kick-ass setpieces. Abrams is unlikely to serve up a turkey, but he isn’t the bold and interesting or left-field choice they could have gone for, and he isn’t a director with an approach I would absolutely love to see tackle a Star Wars movie. (I know it’s a foolish dream and it’s ultra-unlikely to happen, but a Star Wars film directed by David Fincher would send my inner geek into meltdown). But I do think Abrams is a solid choice, and there’s potential for greatness there (as well as the potential for it all to go a bit wrong, as well). Whatever happens, despite previous disappointments, the prospect of new Star Wars movies still has me intrigued. For now, there’s life in the old Saga yet…

All written material © copyright 2011 Saxon Bullock, unless otherwise stated.