2013: Revenge of the Sequels

2013: Revenge of the Sequels

With 2013 only a stones throw away, it looks like we’re in for another good year at the box office.

Unfortunately for what you make up with in terms of movie quantity, you may be disappointed by the lack of originality when it comes to the scripts. We seem to be awash with sequels in 2013. Not only that, but action sequels!

  • Monsters University: Mike and SulleyMonsters University [sequel]. We all know the magic between Mick and Sulley, but were they always that close? In Monsters University we’re going to find out as we head back to their uni days of pranks, jokes and of course studying. Even with Monsters Inc being nearly 12 years old, I’m sure that Pixar will be able to pull another classic film out of the bag. Definitely looking forward to this animated sequel.
  • The Hunger Games: Catching Fire [sequel]. The first film came out in 2012 and was reasonably okay from the scripts perspective, but nothing ground breaking. What lifted the first film out of the 2012 tide-of-mediocre movies was the cinematography style it used to depict its gruesome look at society. Hopefully in Catching Fire the script will be better written, without compromising the look that the first one achieved. Jennifer Lawrence is staring again as the lead protagonist, Katniss Everdeen, hopefully this film will also include more character development. Catching Fire is currently scheduled for our screens in the last quarter of 2013.
  • The ImpossibleThe Impossible. Based on a true story as one family is caught with thousands others by the 2004 tsunami catastrophe. Ewan McGregor plays the husband and father of three children who are celebrating Christmas as the waves crashed over the islands of Thailand. Separated by the destruction and saved by nothing less than a miracle, the family members try to find each other, as well as bringing hope to those around them. For me, this is likely to be the tear jerker of the year I think. Hitting our screens on the 1st of January… cos this is what you need to see as you recover from your hang overs 😉
  • Iron Man 3 [sequel]. Tony Stark does not have an easy life, beside the billionaire thing. Even after saving the world, and various cities multiple times, his life just gets more and more dangerous. I’m not entirely sure how all these Marvel films are meant to hang together, but surely after Iron Man faces the ‘Mandarin’ we’ll be free of bad guys for once. Plus isn’t a Mandarin a type of orange? No doubt this will be a decent film, whether it’ll be another classic Marvel film depends on how well Robert Downey Jr., Guy Pearce and Gwyneth Paltrow come together on-screen.
  • Django Unchained. A Western film, shot by Tarintino, staring Jamie Foxx, Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson. It is surely going to be good! Even though the film deals with racial prejudices, human bounty hunting and forced labour, Django Unchained looks like it could be a good balance of action, story and even comedy. Perhaps the true dark nature of the film isn’t shown in the trailer, but with Tarintino behind the camera it should be another great film. Check out the trailer below:
  • Les Miserables. The epic musical that is based on Victor Hugo’s 19th century novel is finally being turned into a film, one that I cannot wait to watch. I’ve listened to the musical version of the novel dozens of times, sometimes (thanks to YouTube) a few times a day while working on projects. Hugo’s novel examines the nature of law, death and grace, as well as the complex issues of philosophies, hierarchies of society and religious beliefs. All set to the most amazingly composed musical scores you can imagine. The Les Mis’ 25th anniversary performance is all on YouTube if you want to check it out. Thankfully this new film, staring Hugh Jackman, Russell Crowe and Anne Hathaway, is hitting the UK screens early 2013. Amazingness!
  • Now You See Me. A series of banks are robbed by a known group of illusionists, the only problem is that during the robberies they’re on stage in the centre of Las Vegas’ biggest and brightest casinos. Yet the crowds still reap the financial rewards of their criminal activities. With its mind bending trailer, this film looks like it could swing to either being a brilliant masterpiece  (i.e. Inception) or a disastrous flop (i.e. Next). I have more than a sneaking suspicion that there’s going to be a massive twist at the end of this movie. I’m very much looking forward to this one coming out in June 2013, hoping its a cross between The Illusionist and 21. Oh yeah its also got Morgan Freeman and Jesse Eisenberg (Zombieland) in it too.
  • Oblivion. Tom Cruise stars alongside Morgan Freeman in this futuristic spin on what looks like another “everything you’ve been told is a lie” kind of film. A blend of Minority Report, Inception, The Matrix and even some Star Wars thrown in for good measure. I’m not entirely sure how this film will pan out, it looks like it could just be the product of the films mentioned above, but it has lots of potential. Scheduled for an April release over here in the UK.
  • Superman... again!Man of Steel [sequel]. I’ve lost count of how many Superman re-makes and re-launches there has been, but none of them have ever had Zack Snyder directing them! Hopefully this re-make will appeal to a wider audience, no doubt that’s what they’re shooting for as it deals with Superman’s earlier years. Growing up in rural Kansas, Clark finally becomes a journalist, in between saving the world. How many times have we heard that told?
  • World War Z. Perhaps the 2013 film I’ve been waiting the longest for to come out. World War Z follows UN worker Gerry Lane (Brad Pitt) and his family as the world is torn apart by a global deadly zombie pandemic. Based on the book by Brooks (which is great BTW), this film has been long-awaited for by many. Sadly coming a year or two too late to ride the zombie-high wave caused by The Walking Dead, this film should still be a big hit. I’m quietly confident that this film will make it into my top zombie apocalypse films.
  • Star Trek into Darkness [sequel]. Trailer shown below. Sherlock Holmes is on the Enterprise! Okay perhaps not Sherlock, but Benedict Cumberbatch is staring alongside Chris Pine and Zachary Quinto in this Star Trek sequel. Apart from a lot of destruction, death and fire, its hard to know from the trailer and posters what the plot for this story is. Cumberbatch plays the bad guy, that’s fairly obvious. Plus he’s bad enough to force a star-ship (probably not the Ente

Mayan’s, apocalypse & spheres

Mayan’s, apocalypse & spheres
We all survived – bring on Christmas!

I’m sure many people reading this know that the ancient Mayan civilisation predicted the world was going to end on the 21st of December 2012. Thankfully those ancient Maya must have their calculations wrong ‘cos the world didn’t end!

Ha, in your face ancient civilisation.

Strangely enough though, even the Maya didn’t think the world was going to end on the 21st. Yet we as a ‘more intelligent’ civilisation, interpreting their calendar, we thought they thought they did.

Ha, in your face modern civilisation!

In case you have no idea what I’m talking about…

The Mayan ‘apocalypse’

A pyramid built by the Mayan
A pyramid built by the Mayan

The Maya people lived from around 2,500BC to 900AD, at which point their empire collapsed. The Maya had a calendar very similar to ours, grouping their calendar into the equivalent of days, months and years. Their calendar also had an extra metric of time, a block of 5,125 years, called the ‘long count’. The current block of 5,125 years, ran out of days on the 21st of December.

The Maya however believed that after the 21st, a new era simply starts. The calendar resets. Much in the same way we’ll celebrate the 31st of December as the end of one era and the beginning of another. I’ve never heard people discuss the apocalypse or end-of-days before breaking out with Auld Lang Syne.

In fact, this ‘doomsday’ marks the end of the 13th era. So as a world, we’ve survived 13 doomsday’s already. Go us!

Yet even without the creators believing it, the modern world has been whipped up in a media frenzy about doomsday.

Faith, the Mayan and the media

Many religions mention an end-of-days, or apocalyptic time. Whether that be to mark the start of a new era, or to rapture people to their god is irrelevant to this article. I don’t have a problem with people having faith in a system that predicts the end of the world. People shouldn’t however, believe the world is going to end and then go look for a religion that fits it. Or worse, read the world’s going to end and then just accept it.

BBC onboard with doomsday scenario
BBC onboard with doomsday scenario

If you genuinely believe the world is going to end, you must have come to understand it from some point or another. You’ve also done more than understand it to, you’ve adopted that theory into your worldly beliefs. The source of your information is what your belief is based on.

As an example, I believe the rapture is possible in my lifetime. I believe it because the Bible talks about it. Jesus talks about it. My faith is in those things, not the rapture itself.

I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that 99% of people who have heard of the Mayan date of the apocalypse did so through the recent flurry of media stories. A further 99% of those people, didn’t go to any museums or libraries to learn about it further. The majority of these people probably didn’t know the Maya existed until they read articles about the coming end of the world.

People have based all of their understandings from mainly one source, most likely one medium too. They essentially created a belief system off of the understanding the world was coming to an end. Ouch.

It’s easy to sit there and think people who believed this ‘event’ are gullible or less mature, yet as you’ll see below, people have now destroyed their lives based on this.

The media is an insanely powerful tool in any society.

No wonder James Bond tried to save us all from a media tycoon in Tomorrow Never Dies.

Mayan ‘Apocalyphiles’

Yes I’ve coined a new term. There’s probably already a term for it, but I like this new one. So I’m running with it.

Below is a few stories and pictures found online showing how the Mayan doomsday event has changed people’s worlds.

French village of Bugarach closes borders

bugarach-closed-off-franceThe police have had to stop an influx of people entering the village of Bugarach in France after some connection between the Mayan ‘prophecy’, the Bugarach mountain and UFO has come about. Apparently when the cataclysmic end of the world occurs, aliens will leave from this mountain and take some people with them. I actually don’t know how to even process this. Why would a south American civilisation pick a mountain in France for their escape route? Where has the idea of aliens being involved come from? All rather strange.

Bob around the world in safety

A Chinese farmer took the survival of the Mayan doomsday into his own hands, spending about $350k to build seven floating “survival pods”, or “ping-pong balls” as he refers to them as. Liu Qiyuan has spent 2-3 years building these guys, so he was well aware of the Mayan date before the media jumped on board. Gotta’ give him credit for that foresight.

Liu Qiyuan posing with survival podsSadly I have no idea how many of the 84 seats he managed to sell, but hopefully all of them at $4.1k or greater, otherwise he’s going to have some serious explaining to do to the banks.

Made of a mix of fibreglass and steel, and holding 14 people each, I’m not entirely sure what the plan was. Ride out the 3000 foot wave he had built them to withstand (???) and then casually bob around until they found land?

Man builds ark of safety

Lu Zhenghai builds Mayan ArkIf bobbing around aimlessly in the ocean isn’t your thing, then perhaps a nifty little boat would be better. Some guy has spent his life savings, some £100,000 to build an ark to literally ride the wave of chaos that we should have experienced.

Inspired by the 2009 film about this special date in December, starring John Cusack, many people have linked ideas from the film with everyday reality. I’m no expert in naval technologies, but my money would be on this boat not surviving any apocalyptic wave.

Panic buying in Russia

With pending doom around the corner, shops in Russia have been hit by panic buying survivalist. Demand for products have gone through the roof for candles, fuel, matches, torches, drinks flasks and tinned food. Needless to say I don’t think any amount of candles is going to stave off meteors or tsunamis, but you can never be too ready for the apocalypse (I have to say that, you never know when the zombies will rise!)

Surviving – what’s the point?

If tomorrow some archaeologists dug up ancient proof that the world was going to end soon, later to be conclusively agreed upon by dozens of experts in various fields and nations, why prepare to survive it?

Don’t get me wrong, I’m all up surviving the fall of society due to war, zombies or man-made scenarios. What I’m not entirely clear on, is why people would try to survive a scenario put in place by a god, ancient or otherwise.

If this hypothetical dug-up proof talks of worldly destruction, decided upon by a god(s), how is buying candles and fuel  useful? Will billions of other people die because they didn’t have enough tinned food? Unless the doomsday event specifically addresses that all logistics will fail around the globe, it’s unlikely to help.

By definition, “doomsday” means “The last day of the world’s existence”. So being ready for it with physical products isn’t going to be much good.

Police and US Military were issued orders of "shoot to kill" as the looting got so bad following Katrina
US police and military were issued orders of “shoot to kill” as the looting got so bad following Hurricane Katrina

On the other hand, if the people are panic buying products because they predict a collapse of society, due to the reaction of others to a non-existing doomsday scenario, that’s another situation all together. Society collapsed for large parts of the state of Louisiana in 2005 when we saw Hurricane Katrina tear through it, causing looting and desperate mobs taking to streets after the disaster. Nothing drives the need of survival more than the fear, whether real or implied, that society is going to be destroyed around them.

I think if this hypothetical proof were ever dug-up, societies all around the world would tear themselves apart in terror…

Ironically producing some sort of horrific situation that borders on the apocalypse.

Merry Christmas 😛

 

A couple of sources if you wanna read around the subject:

 

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The 5 Best Films of 2012

The 5 Best Films of 2012

top-20120movies-hobbit-batman-the-gray

Well it’s nearly the end of 2012 and the cinemas are pretty much closed for business for another calendar year.

I thought I’d take some time to look over the best 5 films I caught at the cinema this year. If someone wants to sponsor me in 2013 to watch and review even more films… I won’t say no!

Hopefully you’ll agree about at least some of these movies. In no specific order the best 5 films of 2012 are:

The Grey

The Grey with Liam Neeson

A plane crash in the Arctic leaves a crew of oil-workers stranded with little means of rescue. Unprepared for extreme cold, injured and without basic supplies – the forecast for their survival looks as bleak as the snow-covered landscape. Shortly before nightfall, the seven survivors realise the temperature and injuries are the least of their worries, as they’ve crashed in the centre of an Arctic wolf hunting area.

Carnivorous eating machines stalk and pick them off, can they find shelter or a way to survive the wolves? Can they even survive their hostile group of lowlife’s and criminals.

I thoroughly enjoyed this film and Liam Neeson’s performance is as strong as it can be. The other members of the group also put in great performances, inspiring emotions of hatred and compassion at the right times.

Definitely worth a watch, although perhaps avoid if you’re planning a trip to the Arctic!

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

 in The Hobbit: An Unexpected JourneyPerhaps the biggest film of the 2012; The first third of the Hobbit trilogy!

Most of us have seen at least one film of The Lord of the Rings films but An Unexpected Journey tells us of how a reluctant Bilbo originally came to own the almighty one ring. With a cast full of Dwarves, as well as Gandalf the Gray, the party of amateur adventurers start on one of the most perilous and important adventures to ever take place in Middle Earth.

Their mission is to reclaim a great lost city of Dwarves, taken by the fire-breathing Smaug dragon. The Lonely Mountain lays full of Dwarven gold and guarded by the beast that forced their ancestors from their empire. Can a bunch of fiery and high-spirited Dwarves really take back the mountain?

Although its long at almost 3 hours, and perhaps a touch on the slow side to begin with, once the action arrives its relentless until the end. Of course the end isn’t actually the end, it’s just a set up for the 2nd film, but you don’t feel cheated of your money.

With a lot of action, sparingly used 3D effects to complement beautiful scenes, and quite a bit of humour, this is a great film.

Sir Ian McKellen (Gandalf), Martin Freeman (Bilbo), Andy Serkis (Gollum) and all the others really make this film, with solid performances. Not to mention the spectacular visual effects that fill this film from the moment it starts.

In fact it’s so good, I’m off to see it again at the cinema, only days after watching it the first time. A cinema first for me I think.

The Dark Knight Rises

The Dark Knight Rises - Its been some time since Gotham City got its new night-time, black clad saviour. However times are changing.

Bane, a new super terrorist, has emerged to bring Gotham back to its knees. What’s worse is Bane has also turned the cities populous against themselves. More daring and more deadly than Batman ever could be, how can our favourite Bat face up against this new foe.

One of the biggest and most anticipated films of 2012, it should be no surprising that this film made it into the list. Perhaps a touch too long, but then so much happens in it how could you remove any of the scenes.

I’m a massive fan of Christian Bale (Batman) and Tom Hardy (Bane) films, both of them put in epic performances again in this new film classic.

Skyfall

 Skyfall with James Bond is back and this time he’s not entirely playing by MI6’s rules. Left to die out on a mission, Bond is less than pleased with the agency and country he’s tried so hard to protect.

Now the United Kingdom is under attack, specifically MI6 and M (Judi Dench) herself.

Washed up, ragged and out of the loop – can Bond even get his clearance back, let alone stop the terrorist Raoul Silva (played by Javier Bardem).

From China to Scotland, quite a few different locations pop up in this great film, including the bizarre Battleship Island off of Japan’s coast.

Perhaps one of the best films I’ve seen, the plot to Skyfall is both engaging as well as secretive and twisted. The trailers I saw left half of the film completely unknown to me, which was brilliant and rather refreshing. Daniel Craig‘s rough-edged version of Bond is my favourite rendition of this character, being more true to how I think a highly strung yet still emotional engaged spy could be.

Definitely worth a watch. Definitely worth a Blu-Ray purchase too!

The Hunger Games

The Hunger Games with Jennifer LawrenceIn a dystopian future a realm of 12 districts put forward a pair of lottery chosen people to fight in a brutal series of televised survival matches, ‘The Hunger Games’. The games were derived for part entertainment purposes, mainly for the wealthy Capitol population, and part retribution of a past rebellion uprising. Allowing no-one to forget that the Capitol control everything in the 12 districts – from life to death itself.

Jennifer Lawrence (Katniss) nominates herself as the female participant for her district when her younger sister is original chosen by lottery. From the poorest of the districts, Katniss teams up with her male district counterpart to challenge not only the other contestants, but the very nature of the games themselves.

This film was probably the one I was least expecting to like. I saw the trailers and couldn’t help but think they’d just taken the powerful Japanese film of Battle Royale and slapped Hollywood all over it. Added a blatant romance plot line, removed the 18-certificate hard-hitting graphical realism and weaved in an ending that you could see coming from the first 15 minutes.

Well to be honest the ending shouldn’t really come as a surprise, but this film was well shot and reasonably well scripted. It also has a great cinematography feel to it, with strong resemblance in both footage and style to world war 2 POW films. Perhaps the most important sign it was a great film was the fact it inspired such deep conversations among our group immediately after viewing it. I don’t think any of us were expecting to be debating society or worldly morals – but we sure did afterwards.

2012 Movie Summary

Looking back, I think it was a fantastic year at the cinemas. From desolate Arctic suspense to horrific dystopian societies, it was quite a mix! The only major let down I thought, was the Alien prequel Prometheus. Perhaps it was an okay film by itself, but the fact it was meant to be part of the amazing Alien franchise, it fell significantly short in my eyes.

How about you though?

What one film would you add to this mix if you could?

Perhaps you rated the action packed Avengers or fairy-tale Snow White and the Huntsman higher?

Let me know, I’ll definitely need some DVD inspiration in 2013