Archive for star wars


Posted in Morpheus Tales Magazine, Reviews with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2012 by stanleyriiks

This blog is written in response to Simon Marshall-Jones column in the latest issue of the FREE Morpheus Tales Supplement:


Too many remakes he says, and I can’t whole-heartedly disagree. In fact, in the main I agreed completely. Hollywood (and they are not alone in this) seem driven to re-hash, remake and ruin all of my favourite films. I would suggest, however, that the “magic” Simon talked about in his ramblings is actually a much more personal matter than the gods-aligning. The “magic” happens when you grow up with a film, when it becomes a part of your life, of your history and background, and it speaks to you at a time, on a level, that nothing else does.

In my mid-teens I watched a film called Total Recall, with that unappreciated thespian Arnold Schwarzenegger. Arnie was never a great actor, but I’d grown up watching his films, and this action-romp was (apart from Star Wars) one of my first introductions to SF (despite being a die-hard fantasy and horror only fan, apart from Star Wars!). I loved the over-the-top action, that Arnie’s wife was so hot (Sharon Stone before Basic Instinct), the incredible effects, there was even an alien with three boobs (this was my mid-teens remember)! The film spoke to me, it was great. But now, Sony in their infinite wisdom, have decided to remake it. Why? Because Total Recall (1990) is now over twenty years old, and apart from the money (I’m sure that’s the main reason), they want their film to speak to a new generation.

I have been quite prepared in the past to watch remakes, and give them a go as I would any other films. Unfortunately my past experience hasn’t always been pleasant, remakes of Halloween (rubbish, an extra forty minutes of pants and then a remake tacked on to the end), The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (not too bad, not that I can remember any of it), King Kong (not terrible), A Nightmare on Elm Street I am just too scared to watch in case it’s crap. But sequels are the same, and yet lack the stigma of being another version of the original. I happily sat and watched the X-Men movies, Spiderman trilogy, all the Halloween films, A Nightmare on Elm Street (up to number 6), and even saw the Star Wars prequels at the cinema (rubbish, not bad, and ok, respectively [come on Disney, time to do something great with this franchise!]). Yet we don’t have the same disdain for sequels, which are (or can be) equally derivative. Like all films, or books, the first one is usually the best and the rest that follow (be they remakes or sequels) mere imitations.

So what about the book of the film, or, more likely, the film of the book? I like the first one best. Whether it’s the book or the film, the first time I discover the story is almost always my favourite. With Harry Potter it’s the books, although the films were also pretty damn good. The James Bond books are so very different from the films it’s difficult to make a direct comparison, the same with Holmes’ adventures. Guy Richie’s new Sherlock films, although I grew up with much older versions, are great fun. Stephen King’s adapted films, except perhaps for the excellent Shawshank Redemption and Stand By Me, are far better in written form. No, despite Stand By Me being one of my favourites of all time, the original story (“The Body”) is even better.

In my early years (before the age of ten, although I couldn’t narrow it down any more than that), I watched Conan The Barbarian. Classic Arnie action flick. Not the greatest film ever made, in fact, on re-watching it’s fairly tired and out-dated, but it’s still Arnie and it’s still Conan, and it’s still the original and it’s still the best. I’ve read the book too, and you’ve gotta love a Conan book. I watched the remake last year, and was pleasantly surprised. Plenty of action, well-muscled barbarian, buxom wenches, and swordplay. This is not a bad remake except for one small thing they seemed to have forgotten. Conan has blue eyes. How the hell can you make a mistake like that! It’s like taking Judge Dredd’s helmet off! (Oh yeah, they did that too). Can’t wait for that remake of Dredd though, Sly Stallone is no Judge Dredd.

Remake, sequel, adaptation, whatever the hell they do, they need to make it authentic. That’s what remakes generally lack. And that is what gets our goat. That’s what reins all those remakes, and sequels and adaptations.

But remakes are not for us. They are not made for the people who enjoyed the first version, or the second or third. They are for the new people, these films are meant to speak to them and make them feel how we first felt when we watched them. Yes, of course there should be more originality, but you can say that about publishing and TV too. Sequels galore, derivative are us, is there anyone unafraid of originality? Who will take a risk and put their money where their mouth is? Independents, small presses… If they are lucky their original work will be remade with a big budget by a soulless corporation…

Reading, Controversy and Horror

Posted in Life..., Uncategorized, writing with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on June 16, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Wow, I’ve just finished a marathon session reading The Kultby Shaun Jeffery, which is definitely one of the best books I’ve read this year. A brutal thriller. I felt exhausted after the finale, like I’d experienced it right alongside the protagonist.

The reading part of being a writer is going well! It took my only two days to polish offThe Kult. Before that I dug deep into my book pile and got out The Gobbler by Adrian Edmondson, which was pretty good. Comedic novels aren’t my favourite genre, but it’s good to have a laugh every now and then to relieve the horror and terror that are my usual entertainments.

Before that the Eyewitness Guide to Stockholm, which is a bit of a strange one, trying to take on all these facts and marking off almost everything in the book because I want to see it when I go visit with my girlfriend next month. Woohoo! A holiday! Desperately needed, I must say.

In between the reading I managed to write one story. It’s pretty raw still, needs major editing, but I think it’s pretty good. Bit controversial. It’s about a young teenage boy who kills his thirteen year old sister by accident when playing an erotic asphyxiation game. The fact that both of them are underage I consider a problem ethically. Normally I’d steer clear of anything underage, just because it makes me feel uncomfortable. But I felt the story needed something extra to make it more… horrifying.

And then I got to thinking about what makes a horror story. Some of them make us feel disgusted, some of them make us feel pain, hurt, horror, lonely, neglect, uncomfortable… Horror is such a limited categorisation in some ways. I think the point of all art is to make the reader/viewer feel. The works that have impacted most upon me: The Lord of The Rings, Star Wars, Dracula, are the ones which had the biggest emotional impact.

So, if a story makes you feel uncomfortable, if the point is for you not to enjoy it, does that mean it works? And does that make it legitimate? Or is it just best to steer clear of controversy?

Star Trek (2009) Reviewed

Posted in Reviews, Uncategorized with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on May 8, 2009 by stanleyriiks

Star Trek
Directed By J. J. Abrams
Starring: Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Karl Urban, Zoe Saldana, John Cho, Simon Pegg

I don’t like Star Trek. I don’t understand the obsessive Trekkies. The first, the original Star Trek series was old before I was even born, and my dad forcing me to watch it just repelled me. The cardboard sets and acting, the men-in-costume monsters, and the different forehead per species just didn’t endear the series to me. The Next Generation improved and developed the Trek universe, and Picard was a decent captain, but it didn’t really interest me, it still had the stigma of Trek. Deep Space Nine is probably my favourite series, because it’s the least Trek-like. Voyager I wasn’t a fan of, although this series opened out and further developed the universe with a number of new creatures and species. Enterprise was barely a blip, with that bloke (Scott Bakula) from Quantum Leap.

The film were always better than the series, but I’m a silver screen kinda guy. Although I lost interest completely when the Generations lot took over.

I was a Star Wars baby, so liking Trek went against the grain, and my dad’s fascination put the nail in the coffin of me liking it during my teenage years.

So, I wonder why I am actually paying to sit in a cinema to watch the latest, eleventh, in a series that I’m not particularly enamoured with? Did I come here hoping to hate it? No, I would have waited for someone else to buy the dvd so I could borrow it if that was the case. There’s nothing else decent at the cinema, so it’s the new Star Trek movie or nothing. My limited options have driven me here.

Live long and prospect, to boldly go, Captain’s log, the Vulcan v-fingered salute, McCoy (played brilliantly by Urban) Sulu, Chekov, Uhura, Spock and James T. Kirk are all present and correct. This film is at once comfortable and familiar to all those aware of the Star Trek legacy, and who in the civilised world is not?
But this is not the reality we are all comfortable with, something is very, very wrong.

The film starts with the death of Kirk’s father at the hands of a huge Romulan ship from the future, and Kirk being born in a escape pod. The Romulan’s are after a Ambassador Spock, but there is no Ambassador Spock, not yet.

The Romulan’s have come from the future and upset the universe’s continuity, which is course means that nothing is what we are familiar. So this is not traditional trek territory after all? Marvellous!

A few years later and now a troubled twenty-two year old, Kirk enlists in Star Fleet, along with Spock after being offended by the Vulcan Scientific Council over his half human mother, and the rest of the team. McCoy smuggles Kirk onto the USS Enterprise after Kirk cheats to beat a test and is suspended, as the entire fleet head out to stop an attack by the mysterious time-travelling Romulan ship, on the Vulcan home planet.

The Enterprise is under the command or Captain Pike until the Romulan’s force him to enter their ship, so Commander Spock takes over with Kirk as his “Number one”. And so the battle begins…

Of course there’s a lot more to it, but to fill you in completely would spoil it!

The time-continuum has been distorted by the Romulan ship coming back and killing Kirk’s father, allows the writers a freedom they would otherwise not have had, giving them the opportunity to play with our perceptions of the traditional Trek universe and offering something new whilst still playing to the strengths of the Trek universe. We are at once given both the new and familiar. This allows us to smile at the familiarity: Kirk solving most problems with his fists and being an unstoppable womaniser; the Vulcan death grip and aforementioned v-fingered salute; and the rest of the crew, looking a lot younger and hotter than previously.

Special mention should also go to Simon Pegg and Karl Urban for their portrayals of Scotty and McCoy, respectively, lending true acting skills to their parts and playing with the duality of existing characters from a new perspective.

A timely intervention by Leonard Nimoy with his expert touch just seals the deal.

This is Star Trek, but not as we know. This is the new Star Trek, a brighter, fresher, younger, upgraded model. An action-packed, thrill-a-thon, that’s new and yet oddly comfortable. A Star Trek going boldly where it hasn’t gone before, which is excellent!

Can’t wait for the next one!

I don’t believe it, I’ve been converted into a Trekkie!