The Cineplex at 40,000 Feet

Posted: 2 May 2014

Come fly the friendly skies; long flights are my only means of catching up with new/recent movie releases
Come fly the friendly skies; long flights are my only means of catching up with new/recent movie releases

“Flying is learning how to throw yourself at the ground and miss” – Douglas Adams

It is that time of year again when Bradscribe has to leave behind the humid climes, sandy beaches and delish spicy seafood in order to see what bewildering shenanigans the land of my birth has got up to lately (and catch up with family and friends).

The long-distance flights one has to undertake at least twice a year are usually – and obviously the following statement will surprise a number of you –  the only opportunity this writer has to watch the latest movie releases.

“Blimey Charley!”  you may say, “how can this be?!” 

Living on the Gulf of Thailand, in a town which only opened its first mall ten years ago, the inhouse cinema has the annoying tendency of screening just about all its Big Movies in Thai-dubbed versions only, even though the number of western tourists in the town is steadily increasing.  Even Captain America was offered only two screenings in its Original Soundtrack.

(Apologies to those expecting my dissertation on Noah, it would have been interesting to have watched this dubbed into Thai).

Although missing Gravity @ the IMAX, did get to experience it with added turbulence. Come on, you can't beat that!
Although missing Gravity @ the IMAX, Brad did get to experience it with added turbulence. Come on, you can’t beat that!

“Just do what must be done. This may not be happiness, but it is greatness” – George Bernard Shaw.

On this flight, however, this writer was grateful to finally get the chance to catch up with the critically-acclaimed Gravity. It certainly was a spectacular spectacle; perhaps the thrill-factor was reduced by watching it on a such a small screen (the movie ratio is invariably modified to fit these back-of-seat screens).

Yet there was one aspect about this particular viewing experience which you would never have got at the IMAX; when the meteor shower began (brilliant scene) kicked in, we just happened to enter an area of turbulence as we came in over the east coast of India. Now, this was a really cool “added feature”!

These flights usually provide an excuse to watch those movies one would tend to decline paying good money to go and sit through at the cinema. Started to view Inglorious Barstewards, Valkyrie (tend to avoid Tom Cruise like the plague) and The Hunger Games (what on Earth is Donald Sutherland doing messing around with this tosh?) which were all forsaken after twenty minutes (at the most), usually due to the overpowering desire for a decent sleep.

… And it must have been curiosity or sheer boredom that drove me to activate Wrath of the Titans. Don’t remember how awful it was because, quite thankfully, a long and satisfying nap ensued.

The Thing

Flying may not be all plain sailing, but the fun of it is worth the price” – Amelia Earhart.

Long ago, on a flight to Australia at the end of 2000, there were only six movies available; you had to wait ages for the cabin crew to crank up the system and, always when tuning in, you would find you had missed the opening ten minutes anyway!

The original X-Men movie holds a special place in my heart, not only because The Uncanny X-Men was one of my most beloved comicbooks, but it was the first movie Bradscribe experienced high amidst the clouds.

With an extensive back catalogue now available in the back of each seat, some of my fave movies have been viewed at high altitude, usually as the jumbo cruises over the vanilla mousse terrain of the Iranian plateau or the nightlights of Central Europe. It has been a thrill to catch up with North By Northwest (1959), The Great Escape (1962) and The Good, The Bad & The Ugly (1967).

“Come fly the friendly skies!” Will gladly continue to do so if this class of variety is made available! With nobody rushing in late or anyone nattering behind me, this is the cinema that Bradscribe prefers to frequent.

end

NOTE: Not having access to my usual laptop – plus the transition from one country to another – has disrupted my routine. Bradscribe will ensure that these technical niggles will be dealt with, and can guarantee that more blistering blogs will be delivered in the coming weeks!

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Make Mine Marvel!

 

Posted: 11 April 2014

Captain America: The Winter Soldier: everything a movie blockbuster should be
Captain America: The Winter Soldier: everything a movie blockbuster should be

“Marvel was pioneering new methods of comics storytelling and characterization, addressing more serious issues and in the process keeping and attracting readers in their teens and beyond” – Peter Sanderson.

Having watched Captain America: The Winter Soldier the other night which, in this case, thoroughly deserves the overused tag: “awesome,” the whole phenomenon of comicbook movies has proved its worth, and looks set to be the most bankable genre of all time. A tremendous amalgam of superhero action and the twists and intrigue of a political thriller, The Winter Soldier showcases all that should be big and spectacular about the modern blockbuster.  

It cannot go unmentioned that Marvel comicbooks greatly inpiring my own writing. The standard of scripts was engrossing. Even now, skip through a certain classic and the descriptions and dialogue still look superbly crafted.

The Avengers movie (2012) not only invigorated the Marvel franchise, it practically blew every other blockbuster out of the park. Having grossed $623.4 million in the US and $1.5 billion worldwide, it has become the third highest-grossing movie of all time. Only had one Avengers comic, and that was just to get scenes with The Vision (my personal fave Avenger) the “synthozoid” who can alter his own density to walk through walls, and spoke some of the more poignant dialogue of any comicbook.

Stan Lee: Creator of the best comics
Stan Lee: Creator of the best comics

“You know, I guess one person can make a difference. Enough said” – Stan Lee.

The one aspect which Bradscribe loves about the Marvel movies is the numerous cameos by Stan Lee, the mastermind behind Marvel Comics. His best appearance must surely be in Hulk (2003) in which he appears as a security guard talking with a colleague played by Lou Ferrigno, who played the green giant in the original TV series; if only the rest of this dull movie had been as good as this charming moment…

Back in 1980/1981, the heyday of my avid comic accumulation period, whenever given the opportunity to peruse the latest copies on the newsstands, there was a tendency to select a different title every time; if the cover carried the epithet: “Stan Lee Presents” it was sure to be a winner.

It is estimated that more than 8,000 characters exist within the Marvel Universe alone. Thus, there is an unlimited trove of possibilities for Marvel Studios to dominate the multiplexes for the foreseeable future. An enlightening prospect considering that Marvel had filed for bankruptcy in 1994! Moreover, when Disney snapped up Marvel Entertainment in 2010, the former’s stock price tumbled; Sony Pictures owned the film rights for Spider-Man while Fox controlled the X-Men. When a big-budget production of Captain America was mooted, it seemed nobody believed that the success of Iron Man could be repeated…

The original X-Men stories were reprinted from 1986 onwards: my best homework!
The original X-Men stories were reprinted from 1986 onwards: my best homework!

..Stan Lee had this huge breakthrough of two-dimensional characters. So, they dress up in costumes and do good, but they’ve got a bad heart. Or a bad leg. I actually did think for a long while that having a bad leg was an actual character trait” – Alan Moore.  

The comicbook which excited me the most was The Uncanny X-Men. During 1987/1988, a friend’s overflowing comic collection spurred the second wave of my comix-fix. Classic X-Men (which began in 1986)reprinted the hard-to-obtain earlier editions from the 70s. In addition to Chris Claremont’s writing, brilliantly realised by John Byrne’s artwork, it was amazing to learn the frustrations and complications suffered by mutantkind. X2 (2003) remains my personal favourite Marvel movie, perhaps coming closest to transferring the tight script and catchy characterization from comic pages to the big screen.

Like Iron Man and the Hulk, Thor was a co-creation of Stan Lee and Jack Kirby. Just a few issues of The Mighty Thor comic inspired me to peruse Norse mythology, and expand the scope for creating my own historical fiction. Even at such a tender age, the “peculiar” way in which the Thunder God spoke enthralled me.

When news of a major movie production was finally confirmed, this fan became anxious. How would they treat the Thor-talk?! The result (2011) was agreeable; appreciated the choice of director and the presence of Anthony Hopkins as Odin, but as usual, any gravitas it could have achieved was submerged under a deluge of frenetic fights, CGI tomfoolery and… Thor just didn’t sound right.   

Never mind, Captain America is turning out to be a major franchise; who knows, it might be big and cool enough to entice kids off computer games and back to comicbooks!