January 31, 2014

The Desolation of Smaug

[Digital Gonzo 2013]

Welcome back to the ninth part of the Middle-earth series of Gonzo podcasts. To any newcomers, the first episode was a prologue, focusing on the books and the animated films, the next six were two-part super in-depth reviews of the Lord of the Rings films, following that was a first impressions round-table of the then just recently viewed theatrical edition of The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, a tone we will be reprising with its follow-up, and the eighth was a Sound of Gonzo celebration of the music of Howard Shore’s Lord of the Rings scores.

If you are filled with apathy about these films or boundless spite towards their creators, these are not the podcasts for you. We like them.

Guests:

Chris Eason of GameBurst

Sharon Shaw of School of Movies

January 30, 2014

An Unexpected Journey

[Digital Gonzo 2012]

For the first time in our series we cannot look at the film we are delving into in retrospect of the entire trilogy or with the deeper familiarity with its creation that the extended edition extras grant us. So this is a first impressions round-table with as much as possible on what we thought about the inaugural installment in the new Hobbit Trilogy. 

For those who haven’t heard the Digital Gonzo Lord of the Rings podcasts, I heartily recommend you go back and listen to the first seven shows. They’re an incredibly in-depth and detailed exploration of a film series I place above all other cinema. For those looking for a negative review of the Hobbit, you’d better stroll on and search elsewhere. We do call the creators on the flaws we’ve found but this is pretty much a Weta love-in once again. Also this is the first of this series where we fulfill our voracious need to swear so those with little children listening, be warned. 

Guests:

Sharon Shaw of School of Movies

Chris Eason of GameBurst

James Batchelor of Bond and Beyond

Paul Gibson of Gonzo Planet

January 29, 2014

Troll + Troll 2

[Digital Drift 2014]

To kick off a discussion about “nanar”; that is movies that are so spectacularly bad that they wrap right the way round into great we bring you the podcast reviews of Troll and Troll 2. This also constitutes our Halloween Spooktacular and gives you all something fun to listen to while taking shelter from the GamerGate debate.

Troll was a daft fantasy horror movie made in 1986. It’s hard to say who it’s aimed at because it’s too scary for small children and too silly for anyone over the age of nine. It has inflections of Gremlins and Poltergeist but none of the style or craftsmanship. There are plenty of surprising and appealing nuggets of fun to be had amongst the weird “troll-menaces-apartment-block” plot and some disarmingly canny performances to boot, but ultimately this was one of those films made to be forgotten.

Until Troll 2 came along in 1990 that is. This isn’t a sequel of any sort. It was originally going to be called “Goblins” and the name was changed so as to purposefully be confused with the mildly successful Troll. Now that’s the sort of creative pedigree that makes us sit up and take notice. Dig even further into this green gloop and you’ll find it is one of the most incompetently constructed movies ever, with every single scene botched in some way and some world class overacting and delivery by the hysterical cast. The short of it is; Family goes on a house exchange to a town in Utah named “Nilbog” turns out it’s full of goblins. They like to eat people after turning them partly into vegetable matter. Also the boy has the Shining or something. Clickety clack.  

It has in recent times been rediscovered and cherished by a select group of fans celebrating its sheer badness. A documentary by its now grown up child star; “Best Worst Movie” was made in 2010 and is available on Netflix UK. In it we re-acquaint ourselves with the oddball cast reflecting back on when they took part in this extraordinary project. The brilliant review podcast “We Hate Movies” won’t cover Troll 2, because in their words, what are they going to say that’s funnier than anything within this film? We had to at least try since in the UK this is not infamous and is barely even known. That’s an injustice we’d like to redress.

Don’t worry about seeing these first. Listen to the show to get a feel and then track down the R1 double DVD set if it sounds like your thing. 

It also leads to a discussion about nanar film and whether or not it is possible to make one on purpose, with a wonderful little inspirational piece on that subject from The Idea Channel, which you should be watching every week. 

 

[Digital Drift 2014]

The Transformers road trip has lost all but one lone, solitary truck, powering on through a new leg of what may be a never-ending journey.

Yes folks, I did end up going to see Transformers 4, and on this show, Sharon asks me all about my experience. 

Is this a new lease of life for the series? A soft reboot, ditching the former human cast members in favour of all-new ones and setting aside awkward frat comedy for the dilemma of a struggling family. [Sounds great.] Still written by Ehren Kruger and now starring Mark Wahlberg [Oh Jesus Christ!]. The autobots are now a hunted, endangered species, thanks to their heroic genocide of their own people in the last movie, done in the name of protecting us humans, with our interminable capacity for greatness. Plus it has the dinobots [No it doesn’t]. And Optimus is seriously suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder [Nobody ever mentions it]. Is this better or worse than the first three? Find out right now. 

I do something with Michael Bay halfway through that will surprise you. 

Next pit-stop we are rejoined by a full cast as we delve into the best depiction of these bots in any medium, the animated show, Transformers Prime. Even if you haven’t seen it, have no immediate interest or don’t want it spoiled we still suggest you listen as the depth, subtlety and character focus we describe in detail will surprise and delight you, leaving everyone wondering why that can never be their big screen representation.

 

 

[Digital Drift 2014]

Our road trip with the autobots veers off the beaten track and onto a superhighway full of exploding guns and alien car invasion. In a series defined by its crapulence this may actually be its lowest point. Billed by some as a return to form on its release in 2011, which prompted the question from others; “What form?” and from still others “What form will our destructor take?”. 

We’ll tell you what form in this very podcast. If we sounded like we were in pain on the last episode we can assure you it was just the preliminary wave of agony. This one actually made my heart hurt as well as my brain. 

We wished for Megan Fox to return, that’s how bad it got. 

As for plot? The moon landing in 1969 was in fact a secret plot to find a thing and… weird, CGI Kennedy face. I can’t even carry on beyond that first minute. Spock is in this. A robot Spock. A robot Spock that actually manageress to defile and spin on its axis one of the greatest lines and greatest sentiments of one of the greatest sci fi movements of all time. Optimus is not only laid low in this, he is in fact unwittingly depicted as John Rambo in First Blood, only in a context far closer to Rambo III. His obvious post-traumatic stress disorder sidelined and ignored in favour of robot carnage and the American flag. A violent juxtaposition of lost themes and soulless jingoism.

It would be churlish to call this film “Evil”, it would also fall somewhat short of the mark in describing what a blight upon the world it is. 

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

[Digital Drift 2014]

Our road trip with the autobots continues. We hit a bumpy road as the writer’s strike of 2007 looms. Fortunately this movie proved that you apparently don’t even NEED writers and that a triple-A blockbuster action movie could be sloppily thrown together without discernible structure or coherence and still rake in more than its predecessor. Just cast your eyes over the image I’ve used for this week’s podcast. Ask yourself “A: What the hell were they thinking? and B: Why did everybody let them get away with it?” And that character and his brother are just two of the issues that slaughter any enjoyment and engagement you might have felt.

This is not a movie for watching, it’s a movie for laying down and avoiding. It’s a terrible experience from beginning to end. Even fans of the original tend to dislike this one. However we’re out to establish WHY it’s so awful.

Joining us for this leg of the journey is Mike Hearn of the webcomic “Walter the Wicked” who kindly put together some special artwork for the show. Neil Taylor of GameBurst also returns for further punishment. 

 Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Mike Hearn of Walter the Wicked

January 25, 2014

Transformers

[Digital Drift 2014]

Every now and again I’m reminded on Twitter or the forum that you guys love this show best when we review something we absolutely love. Our passion for it is palpable and in many cases infectious enough to get people who have yet to see the movie in question to finally take the plunge.

This point usually comes up when I mention that we’re reviewing something awful. In this case Michael Bay’s Transformers movies. 

But there is a silver lining to the critical thunderstorm you’re about to hear. Firstly this initial 2007 movie turned out to be a lot more of a mixed bag than we were expecting. It has some genuinely uplifting and well managed moments as well as one or two dryly delivered performances that suggest character of the kind you’d find in good movies. We’re actually pretty positive for a while. Now granted that iceberg tip of quality is sitting atop a mountain of mishandled garbage and yes of course we delve into that one with a metaphor for the viewing experience that will haunt your cinema visits.

However it’s actually very important that we maul pictures like this every now and again. Without the lows and the shadow the brightness and the highs will never be as intense and purifying. Michael Bay’s Transformers sequels in particular are a parallel for the depressing filth of our lives, a soul-devouring mire consuming us from the ankles up that we need to escape with the wings of the Avengers, the Lego Movie and Guardians of the Galaxy, basically anything with Chris Pratt. 

Without these inexplicably crowd-pleasing doldrums the journey’s end as we come to rest in the warm glow of Transformers Prime has a great deal less meaning. So fill your gas tanks folks, this is going to be one crazy road trip to remember. We promise you by the end you’ll be glad you came along. 

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Andy Rodriguez of the Digital Drift community

 

January 24, 2014

The Transformers: The Movie

[Digital Drift 2014]

This kicks off a surprisingly thorough series of podcasts focusing on the Transformers franchise. I actually said I could barely get one show out of this as there was no high point that I really connected with to balance the many lows. However these toys and the animated show and movie were a huge part of my childhood and that gave me more than enough to engage with.

I’m sure there will be many comic, Beast Wars, Animated and Unicron trilogy fans out there who would want me to cover those shows as well but listen for the next few weeks and you’ll see we actually run the gamut on as much Transformer lore as we could muster without going insane.

For this first outing we take a look at the original animated series incarnation of the shape-shifting robots, a movie commissioned to sell a new wave of toys but actually created by a small team of dedicated Transformers fans who really wanted to do something special. Much like the 2007 TMNT movie this one was disregarded by adults for being a cartoon and performed feebly at the box office, while the live action versions which came later drew in massive crowds of dads and kids.

It’s daft and incoherent and when disassembled makes barely a lick of sense but it has a soundtrack that can only be described as rad, and it’s still cherished by many people as it meant something to them, not least because of the death of Optimus Prime, a move that took Peter Cullen’s classically inspiring portrayal of the character 21 years to journey back to permanent fixture. Joining Sharon and I are Neil Taylor of GameBurst and Ryan Astley of Exient games. 

Next week we begin to assess the Bay films and see if they were really all that bad, but this week… Bah-weep-Graaaaagnah wheep ni ni bong! 

Guests:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Ryan Astley of Exient Games

 

January 23, 2014

The Iron Giant

[Digital Drift 2014]

This is it. Alex’s 400th podcast. And what better way to celebrate a broadcasting career like this than with something lovingly crafted, and beloved by its small but enthusiastic fanbase?

This summer everyone fell in love with Groot, voiced by Vin Diesel. Journey back fifteen years to a very similar performance in a lost film to be found and absolutely treasured. The Iron Giant was one of the final hurrah’s for 2D cell animation at the end of a decade that marked a major renaissance for Disney, on the cusp of a new age of 3D animation.

The mid 1950s and the sleepy town of Rockwell, Maine is visited by an alien behemoth. A titan of iron, innocent and inquisitive, found and befriended by a young boy and the cause of alarm and violent aggression from an America living under the shadow of the mushroom cloud. It’s funny, clever, sweet, beautiful, tragic and ultimately as life-affirming as it gets, so naturally hardly anyone saw it. Warner Bros were in the process of dismantling their animation division and pratfall comedy Inspector Gadget was playing next door with the marketing clout of Disney behind it so there was no contest really. Ironically Warner not being too invested in the sale of this thing to America granted the creative team all manner of freedom to make the film they really wanted to. 

Our team of intrepid explorers fight the red menace of apathy and delve into the Giant’s metal frame to root out every riveting detail, Dan Floyd of Extra Credits, Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse and The Animation Archives, Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst and Nama Chibitty of the Digital Drift Community.

 

January 22, 2014

The Lego Movie

[Digital Drift 2014]

The second in our trilogy celebration of Alex’s 400th podcast. 

This time we’re talking about another of the best films of 2014; The Lego Movie. Arguably the most potent cocktail of inventiveness and pure joy in an animated movie since the original Toy Story. Deceptively child-friendly, especially after a slew of sporadically funny Lego games, and prone to assumptions of being nothing more than an enormous toy commercial this is in fact a far richer experience than your usual blockbuster cinema trip as well as a surprising and tacit celebration of contemporary remix culture.  With our team of intrepid yellow, plastic master-builders we go deep into the detail of this fascinating deconstruction of the hero’s journey and examine the many vibrant themes and characters found within. 

This one is child-safe in terms of language but does of course feature massive spoilers so if for some reason you’ve not yet seen it, do so first. If you didn’t think the movie was all that special we can offer many reasons why it might warrant a second viewing and if you love it you will adore every second of this episode. 

Guests:

Daniel Floyd of Extra Credits

Glen Watts of the Digital Drift community

Iain Hopwood of Year of Steam

January 21, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

[Digital Drift 2014]

This is the tenth of the Marvel Cinematic Universe podcasts.

We talk at length about the transition from obscure Marvel comic to breakout success, how the characters differ across the mediums taking many detours into the depiction of female and black characters in comic book movies, the inspired soundtrack, the hilarious, often touching performances, the detail-filled worlds and of course the vibrant, fun-filled rollicking space adventure now finally earning recognition. 

This is also the first of a trilogy of unrelated movie reviews all celebrating some of the best aspects of the human spirit. Next week it’s The Lego Movie, followed by The Iron Giant, which also makes this a Chris Pratt and Vin Diesel appreciation trio. This is because episode 30 is my 400th podcast (give or take a few dozen, Digital Cowboys ran for 209 episodes and Digital Gonzo for 161). 

Each has an epic running time. The discussion for all three went super-in depth for what might be perceived as kids movies by anyone who doesn’t listen to this show, and while we kept things clean for the other two it does get dark for Guardians at times so be aware of that going in. We brought in multiple voices across the board for a broader range of perspectives and experience and I’ve gone all out on the music and clips. 

Listen out for my suggestions for Awesome Mix Vol. 2. A Marvel No-Prize to anyone who can give us the complete track listing for these hypothetical, thematically consistent tracks on the forum. 

James Batchelor also makes a special guest appearance as The Henchman Agent, returning from his stint on the James Bond and Batman podcasts. 

There are various readings from ‘We Are Groot: ‘Guardians Of The Galaxy’ Celebrates Heroes With Authentic Psychological Deficits’ written for Comics Alliance by by Dr. Andrea Letamendi

http://comicsalliance.com/guardians-galaxy-psychology-analyisis-trauma/

Guests:

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

Mike Hearn from Walter the Wicked

Rose Lynn from the Digital Drift community

Doctor Lorin Grieve from Year of Steam

 

[Digital Drift 2014]

We conclude the Planet of the Apes series for now with the 2014 follow up to Rise, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes.

Continuing the story of Caesar and his new tribe of intelligent, simian compatriots we rejoin earth ten years after the close of the last picture, a quiet, overgrown world of dilapidated buildings being reclaimed by nature, separated pockets of humanity scrabbling to survive and one group of apes living in peaceful seclusion in the woods close to San Francisco.

We accompany you on a journey through discovery and loss, betrayal and loyalty, and actions led by hope and fear. In doing so we take in some truly stunning performances in what constitutes a triumphant thematic remake of the worst of the previous films; Battle for the Planet of the Apes. This is how that should have been done and we’re both so very glad people have taken to this series. 

[Digital Drift 2014]

Ten years after the Burton version surfaced, spluttered and sank this one came out of absolutely nowhere, surprising everyone. Set up as an alternate prequel to the premise of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes, this movie answered the question of “How could this actually happen?”. In marketing terms it serves as a reboot, beginning its own new series which has now branched off from the original five movies into its own circular arc. 

One thing I found while editing this show together was that I didn’t have many clips I could use. This is, as I came to realise, because this movie is a masterpiece of visual storytelling. Everything you need to know is conveyed far better in terms of what you’re looking at, both in terms of its ape and human stars.

Director Rupert Wyatt is at the top of his game here, James Franco and John Lithgow pull off rarely valued, powerful performances and of course Andy Serkis takes center stage embodying one of the finest collaborations between performer and digital artists the world has ever seen. Caesar, the chimpanzee, capable of a subtlety and gravity of presence that most actors never achieve.

January 18, 2014

Planet of the Apes (2001)

[Digital Drift 2014]

2001: Planet of the Apes

Some 28 years after the original quintet closed out, and after over a decade in development limbo being passed from writer to director like a hot potato, crossing the paths of some of the most significant of Hollywood players the reboot/remake/reimagining of the original 1968 Planet of the Apes was ultimately rushed to the screen with Tim Burton at the helm and the kind of slapdash, thrown-together approach that stifles overall vision and creative freedom. 

And so begins a podcast-long rant about the constant meddling backstage during development, the nonsensical story, the erratic pacing, the occasionally rather excellent casting and  prosthetic makeup and most of all the appallingly tepid play-acting nonentity that is Mark Wahlberg. This bozo has darkened our screens long enough and I’m hoping this podcast sways public opinion enough that his inexplicable popularity falters and he has to eke out his remaining years doing breakdancing movies and straight to video frat comedies that I was going to ignore anyway. He can be the angry sports coach who wants to crack down on the slackers.

Next week the one that surprised everybody and began the new ongoing series, taking the premise seriously and giving the world some of its finest performance capture creations; Rise of the Planet of the Apes. 

[Digital Drift 2014]

1971: Escape from the Planet of the Apes
1972: Conquest of the Planet of the Apes
1973: Battle for the Planet of the Apes

The remaining three movies from the original series of five get the Drift treatment. Again we went in having never seen any of them and reviewed them immediately following our first watch. So our emotions are raw and reactions pretty strong. 

Escape turned out to be a 70s flavoured political thriller, not unlike a small scale Winter Soldier which we watched around the same time. It also had the most heart of the five. Conquest is a film that Rise ended up being patterned after, with a harsh undercurrent of slavery and revolution at its core and a hastily rewritten ending. Then the series went from a place of strength to wobbly, embarrassing, confused, and laughably mismanaged as it farted out of existence with Battle for the Planet of the Apes, which bears the unmistakable signs of the crazy mutants of the rushed second movie; Beneath the Planet of the Apes.

Kim Hunter and Roddy McDowall remain the standout stars of these three and what they manage with the basic ape masks is genuinely impressive. Hopefully our disgust at Battle won’t dissuade some of you from digging into Ape history with the others.  

Next week we return to the movie that ruined Alex’s 21st birthday to see if it’s still as awful as we remember. Tim Burton’s re-imagining of the original Planet of the Apes.

 

[Digital Drift 2014]

1968: Planet of the Apes

1970: Beneath the Planet of the Apes

For newcomers to the series, all eight movies of which will be reviewed over the coming weeks here is a brief breakdown of events. 

1. Universe A: The first five Planet of the Apes movies spanning the period between 1968 and 1973. Planet of the Apes / Beneath the Planet of the Apes / Escape from the Planet of the Apes / Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. You can also include the short-lived live action TV show, comics and animated series in this period (although we won’t be reviewing these that doesn’t mean you guys can’t talk about them at length on the forum).

2. Universe B: The 2001 Tim Burton directed re-imagining of the original movie.

3. Universe C: Rise of the Planet of the Apes and Dawn of the Planet of the Apes. This originally started out as both a reboot and an alternate prequel to the original movie (as well as loose remakes of Conquest and Battle for the Planet of the Apes) but has now clearly branched into its own universe where events played out differently to the history laid down in the initial quintet of movies. 

This first podcast covers the first two movies, Planet of the Apes and Beneath the Planet of the Apes. We recommend that all listeners at the very least see this first one for its historical significance and most of all, track down Rise of the Planet of the Apes, the 2011 movie that came out of nowhere and surprised everyone by not being terrible and in fact being truly excellent. 

But for these first ones send your mind back in time to the late sixties to a time when men were men, teenagers were hippies, war was a very immediate topic, women were saying scary things about equality and civil rights were being challenged left, right and center. We were experimental in our approach, having only ever seen the first of the original five before and reviewing each movie in turn after viewing for the first time. That way you get our immediate reactions. We pull no punches and judge the film as far as it holds up today, before moving onto its grotty, rushed and unintentionally hilarious sequel.

Next week, things take an unexpected upturn as films 3 and 4 turn out to be really rather good… however there’s the matter of film 5. After that it’s Tim Burton’s contribution followed by Rise and then Dawn for a total of five shows.

January 15, 2014

X-Men: Days of Future Past

[Digital Drift 2014]

We round off our X-Men series with a discussion about Days of Future Past. Further proof that you can have a complex, sci-fi blockbuster which the audience doesn’t need to fully understand in order to become one of the highest grossing movies of the year. 

If you haven’t yet seen my explanation of the multiple timelines in the X-Men movie chronology check it out on YouTube. “Days of Future Past Explained [X-Men Movie Timeline]

I’ve included it at the end at the 01.13.30 mark if you need a refresher going in, though without diagrams it gets even more complicated. I’ve also followed that up with further questions from Sharon at 01.22.50 to close out the show.

00.03.06: Days of Future Past Review
01.13.30: X-Men Timeline Explained
01.22.50: Some Questions

This is effectively the second installment of a new trilogy starring the young Charles and Erik, also designed to clear the decks for future films without getting bogged down by what has to happen in the future (although it’s still in our past and oh I’ve gone cross-eyed). 

With another brilliant set of performances at its core and the spurious accolade of being the second X-Men movie that doesn’t stumble at the ending this is a worthy new step in what appears to be a very much ongoing franchise. 

 

January 14, 2014

The Wolverine

[Digital Drift 2014]

This one kind of came out of nowhere. Since Wolverine hasn’t been an enjoyable and compelling lead since 2003 with X-Men 2 it was a surprise for him to suddenly reclaim his onscreen presence a decade later after we’d had a new Spider-Man, two new Hulks and two new Supermen, Iron Man, Thor, Captain America the rise and fall of The Fantastic Four, Ghost Rider and the entire Dark Knight Trilogy.

Wisely avoiding tying this in too heavily with the established X-Men continuity this takes the form of a stand-alone action thriller closer to something like Man on Fire than the average mutant adventure. Logan is grieving his actions in X-Men 3 and mourning the loss of Jean, exiling himself to the Canadian wilderness. He is tracked down and summoned to Japan and the lion’s share of the film is a reflective, taut rōnin story, steeped in this distinctive eastern culture, caught part way between the past and the future. Virtually no mutant powers beyond Wolverine himself, a plot filled with intrigue and hidden motivations with multiple serious, more-than-competent characters, several of them female. 

It’s arguably the second-best X-Men film, but as is tradition they completely fudge the ending. And I mean REALLY fudge it. Like *tap measured, skillful director James Mangold on the shoulder and replace him with a fornicating baboon* fudged. That’s the level of bonkers tone-shift that follows a natural climax point. You know in some parallel realities the Fox executives didn’t step in as the greatest enemies of the X-Men series’, forever preventing them from achieving true greatness.

 

January 13, 2014

X-Men: First Class

[Digital Drift 2014]

This time we dive deep into the best X-Men movie and actually one of the very best superhero and comic book movies of all time. 

What started as a Magneto spin-off got combined with a reboot and turned into a flashback/prequel/period piece/James Bond homage/romantic drama/reboot for the series. With all those goals to accomplish it’s a wonder it turned out as well as it did. 

It’s not without its flaws, but the strengths on display are myriad and powerful. We discuss the shaping of Charles, Erik, Raven and Hank in these vibrant, formative years.

 

January 12, 2014

X-Men Origins: Wolverine

[Digital Drift 2014]

I never thought I’d find myself defending this film.

In actuality we’re not, we’re just saying it’s not the worst X-Men movie and stating the few reasons why it’s not entirely awful. Don’t get us wrong, it’s a stinker nonetheless. Tedious action, lame mutants, barely characterized beyond their powers (again), CGI claws that never fail to distract, stupid script riven with plot holes, ruined fan favourites Deadpool and Gambit, balsa wood performances and most of the cast seem like they’re having a thoroughly terrible time.

Worst of all this mishandled not one but two key Wolverine stories. Weapon X and Origin, in a way that means there’s no point attempting them again, so sour will the taste of this remain. It very nearly killed the already flat-lining X-Men series.

But we’re the best we are at what we do and what we do ain’t pretty, so we also highlight the few stronger points that make it not quite as complete a failure as everyone remembers. The pinpricks of light in the darkness. Enjoy… Bub.

 

January 11, 2014

X-Men: The Last Stand

[Digital Drift 2014]

This is the worst. 

The very worst onscreen incarnation of the X-Men, and not simply because it screwed up the Dark Phoenix saga in a way that will take many years to remedy. 

It is in point of fact abundantly clear on investigation that meddling Fox executives combined with a creative team who seemingly didn’t care what occurred onscreen or what state they left the series in once the enforced release date was reached created the perfect Storm to send a potentially accomplished franchise hurtling into the doldrums. It’s one of the few movies that actively required erasing from existence to correct the horrendousness that it entailed.

But allow us to elaborate on these points. We promise that even if you disagree with our impassioned rantings that you’ll be entertained. 

 

January 10, 2014

X2: X-Men United

[Digital Drift 2014]

This is one of the all-time fan-favourite X-Men films, following up on the promise of the slight original with far more detail, exciting action, grander scale and emotional wallop. We give it a ton of credit for its strong points which expand the world and further legitimizes the mutant conflict.

However this movie also contains two of the most series-breaking scenarios at its climax. Everybody was having too much fun at the cinema to notice at the time and nobody ever mentions this, but we’re going to… X2 pretty much destroys the characters of both Charles and Erik in a way that is only remedied in First Class eight years later. 

Overall it’s still a very strong entry in the series and far above the dregs of The Last Stand and Origins, but there are character and narrative inconsistencies that need to be taken into account.

Next week, it all goes horribly wrong!

 

January 9, 2014

X-Men

[Digital Drift 2014]

Looking back on the 2000 original it is both extremely important in legitimising the real life comic superhero movie for modern times and increasingly a relic of a bygone age when this sort of thing was considered a flaky risk and where low budgets, self-conscious cast members, dismal costumes, short running times and pedestrian action sequences were acceptable.

That being said there are also some excellent performances within, especially Stewart, McKellen and the breakout star, Huge Action. Had this been a mishandled flop, the course of the Marvel movie might have been very different. Then again, Spider-Man was already in production and it’s possible a reboot would have changed the course of the X-Men in movies, one that has instead sailed on for fourteen years and off into the future.

On that note if you’d like to better understand the convoluted, contradictory history laid down in the X-Men movies be sure to check out “X-Men Movie Timeline [Days of Future Past Explained ]” on YouTube. It clarifies a hell of a lot with a three-universes theory that compliments and augments the explanation given in the seventh movie. 

January 8, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man 2

[Digital Drift 2014]

This is the one we’ve been rounding up to. All the stops are pulled out and we are in full meta mode this time round. 

01.38: We begin with a review from Sharon and myself, zeroing in on what drove us crazy about the film’s structure and character development but closing out with what we really loved about it despite so much holding the movie back. 

51.45: With Bob Chipman, AKA MovieBob from The Escapist as our guest we discuss the possible futures of Spider-Man. This was a match-up a lot of people were angling for, but we chose not to butt heads over why we do or don’t engage with the Webb or Raimi movie series’. Instead we focused on what we have in common which is that all three of us want the Amazing series to stop right this very minute. 

Guest:

Bob Chipman of Moviebob

 

January 7, 2014

The Amazing Spider-Man

[Digital Drift 2014]

This is the first of two of the toughest movies we have ever had to review. With so much love for at least the first two Raimi films out there and no real time to be without Spider-Man and start to miss him, this movie made by necessity, along with its sequel trod on a lot of people’s toes. There are folks out there who absolutely hate them, many of whom are people whose opinions we take very seriously.

We found good things and bad things. That’s all we’ll say now.

 

January 6, 2014

Spider-Man 3

[Digital Drift 2014]

This one has been even more long-awaited than the first two Spider-Man reviews, because while it’s fun to listen to great movies being praised and slightly less fun to hear about the flaws that either don’t bother you or will now bother you every time you see the movie, everybody loves hearing a film that disappointed the entire planet getting torn to shreds.

As it turns out, this is less a torrent of anger and frustration as it is a clever disassembly of the ten plot lines that were mashed together into this bloated mess. What we found is that to get this to make sense and be a better, leaner, more focused film in the editing process you would actually have to remove some of the best elements. This was a melange of narrative contradictions that left many people stumped as the easy targets for what was wrong; too many villains, mistreatment of the Venom character and Peter being too emo all got blamed. In actuality it runs deeper. Find out where, why and how, right here. 

 

January 5, 2014

Spider-Man 2

[Digital Drift 2014]

This is the second of our Spider-Man shows and since last week folks have been champing at the bit for more. We take that as a good sign, but again this even more beloved entry in the original trilogy still has issues that bother us. 

Some weak key casting, spurious character motivation and occasionally baffling leaps in logic are all elements that most people don’t tend to notice in this one, principally because  it’s almost certainly the best Spidey film on a technical scale. It delivers more emotion, more spectacle, more threat, more exhilaration, more depth and more fun even than its predecessor. Along with X2 it became the benchmark for the superhero sequel, expanding on the story rather than simply repeating the formula. 

Peter is genuinely troubled in this, to the point where his body and mind appear to rebel against him, forcing him to be Spider-Man NO MORE! Fortunately relateable antagonist Doc Oc is on the scene to peel the flesh from MJ’s bones (Rated PG) and give Pete the motivation he needs to get back in the spandex for a phenomenal, breakneck (literally) train fight. 

 

January 4, 2014

Spider-Man

[Digital Drift 2014]

For the first of our Spider-Man podcasts we travel back to 2002 and the film that not only started it all for the wall-crawler on the big screen, but arguably brought the superhero blockbuster to true legitimacy. 

Now this has long been considered a sacred cow, not quite as sacred as its sequel which you slight at your peril, but widely understood to be a superb superhero movie. Well here at Digital Drift we have a habit of holding the untouchable to higher account. We did it with Donner’s Superman, Burton’s Batman and very shortly we’ll be doing it with Singer’s X-Men. We’ve found while reviewing these that there is no perfect Spider-Man film yet, and just like Superman, maybe there never will be. What we can do, however is examine the flaws and celebrate the strengths of each of them (yes, even Spider-Man 3). 

Spidey is a hero defined by the events in his life and the enemies he faces. This is the one with the origin of Spider-Man… OK it’s the one with the origin and the organic web-shooters. It’s also the one with Green Goblin… OK it’s the one with Norman Osborn… OK it’s the one with Willem Dafoe as Norman Osborn in more than just a delusional cameo. See our problem? 

The real question is, in a post-Avengers world can a lone Marvel hero in his own little world offer us the same level of engaging, epic adventure? Spidey swings, J.J. shouts, Aunt May Worries, MJ pouts, Kroeger croons, MJ swoons, and all the while Tobey Maguire’s pallid, expressionless cow’s flank of a face occupies the screen. There’s no doubt about it, we’re gonna get emails.

 

[Digital Drift 2014]

The second solo outing for Captain America has already proved immensely popular and we focus on what a strong, lean, politically charged action thriller it is. Far now from the Nazi-punching Indiana Jones style adventure of The First Avenger and separated from the volatile super team of which he had to make his mark as a significant member, this time Steve Rogers is left all alone in a world he’s seven decades out of step with.

As well as welcome newcomers Falcon and Winter Soldier we talk Robert Redford’s Alexander Pierce, Black Widow, Nick Fury, Maria Hill and how this advances and changes the Marvel Cinematic Universe leading up to Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

Guests:

Joshua Garrity of Cane and Rinse

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg

Jerome McIntosh of GameBurst

 

January 2, 2014

RoboCop

[Digital Drift 2014]

To coincide with the release of the 2014 remake, we bring you this journey into the flesh & metal heart of the 1987 original. 

We were planning to cover the trilogy but the sequel bored us more than expected and the third movie (aside from a lunatic robot ninja chap) didn’t even have the decency to be amusingly terrible. Also if there’s no through-story or the sequels don’t even really observe the developments in the original is it not actually a trilogy at all, but a successful story and its licensed and incompetent copycats? A discussion for another time perhaps.

Guest:

Neil Taylor of TheKidDogg 

January 1, 2014

Kill Bill

[Digital Drift 2014]

Welcome to the introductory episode of Digital Drift. With the first two volumes of my podcast, Digital Cowboys and Digital Gonzo now complete that makes this the 370th podcast episode I’ve put out. For the third volume I have recruited a new co-host to share the creative load; my wife, Sharon Shaw. She’ll be offering the show a second voice and a ton of perspective.

And we’ve decided to go right back to the beginning on this one with a prototype for the Gonzo movie reviews, released on the Digital Cowboys feed in May 2010 many months before I began the Star Wars Gonzo reviews. This was originally two hour-long episodes covering both volumes of Kill Bill. We’ve taken them, trimmed away the bits that didn’t work, added more clips and music and some additional segments with our views on the films four years on. You can hear how we were back then, what’s changed and what’s stayed the same.

We’ll be releasing regular episodes throughout 2014, interspersed with Digital Cowboys to give me room to write the book. Focus will be on more conceptual topics (much like the Fan Response show of Digital Gonzo) and while movie reviews will still remain, we’ll be doing a lot more interviews and shorter, discussion podcasts, bringing on the experts so that we don’t have to devote all our time studying absolutely everything.

Kill Bill is in both of our top three movies lists and by the time you get to the end of this one you’ll know why.

 

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