Tag Archives: Buffy The Vampire Slayer

Joss Whedon – what next for Marvellous Movie Maven?

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In news calculated to give even the most vehement Whedonist indigestion, the awesome nerd visionary behind Buffy The Vampire Slayer, “Angel”, some show (and movie) about people with brown coats and this summer’s eyeball-buffing work of epic awesome sauce has mixed feelings about returning to the fold to helm another Avengers adventure.

Empire magazine has more (via the L.A. Times’ ‘Hero Complex’ blog).

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Notwithstanding Marvel Studio‘s alleged tendency to get cheap and cheerless when it comes to hiring back expensive creative talent (a predisposition apparently much maligned by Mickey Rourke and Jon Favreau on Iron Man 2), I think it certainly behoves all concerned to sit down and talk sensibly about returning for another go around the giant exploding bush (it’s like a Money Tree, if Michael Bay invented it).

Here, for my money, is Marvel’s chance to have an equivalent film-maker/studio relationship to that enjoyed by Warner Bros and Christopher Nolan – which is something that’s not to be taken lightly, as it appears to be of massive critical and financial benefit to both parties.

Make it happen, Marvel – this guy helped to get you your first $1 billion blockbuster and he’s worth betting on again, the big geeky lug of a renaissance man.

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“The Avengers” – a reading list

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Just seen “The Avengers?  About to see “The Avengers” for the fourth or fifth time?  Not entirely sure who these “Avengers” folks are and just what all the fuss is about?  Don’t worry about it – Den of Geek has your back.

DoG’s writer James Hunt has compiled a handy cheat sheet for reading material which might tickle your fancy after viewing Joss Whedon‘s face-meltingly awesome superhero adventure and I heartily concur with some of Hunt’s choices.  Just be forewarned that the list can be considered rather spoiler-filled if you’ve not yet seen the film and have been observing radio silence prior to its release.

Right off the bat – check out “The Ultimates volume one and two.  You’ll find them very familiar if you’ve seen any of the Marvel Studios films.  Whedon’s film feels like a cover version, to some extent – bits and bobs from the original comics appear in the film, but he hasn’t slavishly copied anything and invents some other plot strands which are as satisfying as the ones weaving their way through Mark Millar‘s story.   Whedon’s tone is also distinctly different from Millar – compare Buffy The Vampire Slayer to Hit Girl from Millar’s “Kick Ass” and you might sense that the two writers approach an empowered heroine from distinctly different viewpoints.

The Whedon run on Astonishing X-Men is also worth your time – it fell victim to scheduling delays, which rather rankled, but was quality storytelling for the most part from a writer who genuinely loves the comics medium and its history.

If you fought the action in "The Avengers" was nuts...

I was really into the Marvel event “Civil War”, which would arguably make a better movie than comic – the spectacle and hero against hero conflict is inherently dramatic and there’s a chance to fix the somewhat underwhelming ending of the story if it gets a big screen makeover, too.  You can almost see the roots of this story being set down in “The Avengers” – I’ll not spoil your experience of the film by saying any more…

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A Season of Vamps: “Fright Night” (2011) review

A rare remake that's worth your time...

(MILD SPOILERS from herein for the new version)

As noted in my previous post, I’m quite a fan of Tom Holland’s 1985 comic horror gem, “Fright Night.  It was genre-aware long before such a thing was fashionable, scary in the right places whilst never being frightened to bring the funny and had characters subject to memorably unpleasant, feral vampire transformations – not so much a case of sporting one or two pronounced fangs as protagonists suddenly looking, well, like this:

Edward Cullen and his photogenic clan of Gap Bloodsuckers this isn’t.

That said, the new “Fright Night”, as directed by Craig Gillespie finds itself entering a cultural space in which vampires have never been more popular but that popularity has arguably come at the expense of some of their credibility and fear-inducing iconography.  Also the vampire in literature has always been a popular conduit for discussing forbidden desire, repressed sexuality and ideas of body horror, the romantic side of the mythos is quite the thing latterly, whether it takes the form of eternal emo teen Edward in Stephenie Meyer’s “Twilight” novels , the sexy southern gentleman bloodsucker Bill Compton of Charlaine Harris’ Sookie Stackhouse books or the tortured angst of Angel in Joss Whedon’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer” and “Angel” series.

Where to go, then?  Go into the same territory as “30 Days of Night” and make the vampire an implacable, terrifying, predatory threat or make your anti-hero ruggedly handsome and just hope that there’s enough of a vampire fan base to let your guy chomp his way into their hearts?

Hmm. You would, wouldn't you?

To its credit, this iteration of “Fright Night” manages to make its night walking antagonist Jerry, played splendidly by Colin Farrell, into a threat who is both charming and genuinely dangerous, using his rogue’s persona to good effect as a way of ensnaring victims, entrancing would-be enemies and putting the authorities off the scent.  He’s a rougher, more working class guy than I remember Chris Sarandon as being in the original film – this Jerry is a jeans-wearing and six-pack of Budweiser kind of bloke, a fellow who “works nights” on the Vegas strip.   He’s a world away from the refined, elegantly attired, ‘old world’ blood drinker of the Lestat school – he’s the sort of dude you expert you see working on his car in the driveway of his sub-division home, cranking Alice in Chains on the stereo.

Vegas is another change in this version, which is expertly written by “Buffy”/“Angel”veteran, Marti Noxon, and it’s an inspired choice.  The suburban neighbourhood under threat in this version is out in the middle of nowhere, which makes for some striking photography and compositions by cinematographer Javier Aguirresarobe, who intriguingly also shot both “New Moon” and “Eclipse” in the “Twilight” series.

Imogen Poots, as Amy, in "Fright Night".

In many ways, “Fright Night” is the best kind of remake.  It takes a much-loved horror comedy and updates it for a contemporary audience without negating the original’s qualities in any way.  The effects work is slightly more elaborate, as befits the CGI era, without going too far into the realm of Flubber-like virtual characters who suspend the viewers belief immediately.  The script is deliciously smart and multi-layered, giving Anton Yelchin’s Charley an interesting arc and a believable, quite charming relationship with his girlfriend, Amy – the oft-underused but always excellent Imogen Poots.

The alterations made to the characters and their motivations are often inspired, never less so than in the case of Peter Vincent, played so memorably in 1985 by the late Roddy McDowell and in this version by the abso-bloody-lutely hilarious David Tennant.

He’s half Criss Angel, half Russell Brand, somewhat of a fraudulent jackass and a an absolute hoot to watch whenever he’s on screen.  In this version, Vincent is a Vegas theatre illusionist rather than the TV horror movie host he was previously but the change allows for many excellent jabs at the artifice of illusion and the cosplay-like nature of a rock-star wannabe like Angel.

I have no idea whether he is as much of a buffoon as Vincent is in this new version but the influence of the self-described ‘Mind Freak’ is so clear that it’s impossible not to erase him from your mind whenever Tennant’s camping it up in leather trousers and bolting for safety at the first sign of supernatural trouble.

"You have to have faith for that to work".

What we have here is a remake which respects the original film but is never in thrall to it.  It expands the canvas whilst keeping the things which worked and improving on them in some ways.  It has a superb cast, genuine moments of unnerving tension, clever and creepy ideas (the holding cells in Jerry’s house – I don’t know why, but the idea just gives me the proverbial wiggins) and a sense of humour which is both up to date (yes, there is a gentle jab at Stephenie Meyer;s fan base) and genuinely funny.

TL: DR version? If you like vampires, see this.  If you like the principal cast, definitely see this.  If you enjoyed the original, see this.  It’s great.

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An illuminating chat with Joss Whedon

I’ve never heard of Rookie before – it’s a website for teenaged girls.  I’m not part of the demo, I guess – are teenage girls latterly beardy, nearly 40 and quite fond of Rush nowadays?  No?  Huh.

Two men that I have a man crush on. Wait, I just said that on the internet, didn't I?

They have a singularly great interview up with Joss Whedon, who is fricking awesome and talks a bit more about “Much Ado About Nothing”.

Rookie ain’t bad either.  Isn’t it nice to discover new things?

 

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