Wait. Reboots Can Be A Good Thing…?

There is a problem in cinema with reboots. Rather than taking a risk on new, fresh content, studios prefer to churn out endless sequels, prequels and further franchise installments.

Whilst there’s definitely a stigma attached to the idea of reboots and I personally let out a little sigh of disappointment whenever I hear that another thing that I love is being remade, (can we just let Peter Parker grow up? Please!) sometimes reboots are a good thing.

Star Trek Beyond arrived in cinemas last week and it is amazing. I have loved the franchise since the first film in 2009 (which I was incredibly reluctant to watch) and there was no question about whether I was going to see this latest movie.

The new film series is the extent of my knowledge of the Star Trek franchise: I have never seen any of the series, I haven’t watched the original movies and I have gone nowhere near any of the books. That’s the beauty of reboots: they can be vexing for established fans but they offer an introduction for new generations. They create a black slate within intimidatingly complex worlds.

I can shake my head at Total Recall or Terminator: Genisys but for a lot of people, that was their first experience of those worlds and they really enjoyed them. When you have no real point of comparison or loyalty to some original screenplay, it really is just a new film and there at least a few elements in there that made the original so great.

Basically: fans’ speedy dismissal of reboots or remakes can be just as short-sighted as studios’ dismissal of original stories. Also, Star Trek Beyond is awesome.

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Accessing Hollywood

I don’t love a lot of things. Recently somebody ended a mutually frustrating conversation by asking me, “so what are you excited about?” Apathy could easily be one of my defining characteristics: from world events to my own personal life… I may have opinions but I don’t feel excitement or anything near passion for most of the information that I encounter in my day-to-day life.

There’s an undeniable causation-correlation connection between what you’re good at and what you actually enjoy. It’s difficult not to have fun being good at something. I spent my childhood and a large proportion of my teenage years thinking that I loved Maths but once it got hard, when it actually became work, my love for the subject mysteriously diminished. Writing and I have a love-hate relationship (when I have an idea life is swell but if I’m actively trying to come up with an idea I hate everything) but amongst all of that confusion and uncertainty and apathy there has been one constant for me: stories.

I love to experience stories coming to life. Since I could, I’ve read every book that I could possibly get my hands on. My personal library is now proving to be a struggle to shelve but how can I throw away peoples’ stories? I was obsessed with TV series and I would learn everything that I could about characters and actors. I wanted to know how an idea in somebody’s head became something that I could watch and could make me think about things – learn and truly care about issues and problems that have nothing to do with my own life.

Film has been a part of my life as far back as I can remember. Cinema: my true love. Movies were everything to me growing up and I never thought about watching films as anything less than a mandatory part of my experience on this planet. My mum loved movies and I loved my mum so I went everywhere with her and half of our destinations were the cinema. At home we would watch TV together and I would more or less just watch whatever she watched. With the exception of some shows that I could and will never enjoy (I’m looking at you Charmed) she introduced me to movies that my child self would never have watched because they looked old or they were for grown-ups or they were scary.

Thanks to my mum I grew up loving classic cinema and modern cinema the same, but then I reached a point where being a spectator wasn’t enough. I’m not good at just watching: I always want to be involved and that was where I got stuck. Accessing Hollywood: how does a college student from Kent do that? Sure, I read Empire, I follow the Hollywood Reporter but there is a distinct feeling of there being two sides – a Trumpian wall, if you will – and I’m desperately trying to get to the other side but I can’t.

I don’t want to be an actress – I can’t even deliver an oral presentation to a room of four people without falling apart. The idea of fame is just as terrifying to me as the idea of inadequacy. I just want to be a part of it.

That’s why I began writing this blog, or should I say website? I don’t know anymore: I used to have an upload schedule and I used to have this regimented style of content but that isn’t working for me anymore. I want to actually say something. Whilst I enjoyed writing up the news four times a week and some people would read it, I got to a point where I realised that I wasn’t adding anything to the existing dialogue. Understand: you can write up the news and add something to the conversation but that isn’t what I was doing.

I haven’t written many reviews recently because I have temporarily relocated to the other side of the country and it is too difficult to get affordable cinema tickets this close to Central London. Also, I feel like a fraud when I write reviews. I usually praise the movies and shows that I choose to watch and it really just feels like I’m reigning in the stream of joyful consciousness that would typically be expressed as an excited conversation. Then if I don’t like a film I don’t know how to write that. Millions of pounds and thousands of man hours go into producing this piece of work and there is no way that every person on that movie did a bad job. I don’t know how to fully, truthfully dissect a piece of work so I have to write broadly and it isn’t fair – I haven’t made a movie. They’re better than anything that I could make so how can I sit behind a screen and insult what they’ve done?

Throughout this summer I have gone over what I’m doing with this website again and again – I thought about just stopping or deleting it but I can’t. I keep getting drawn back in: last week it was the Hollywood Reporter roundtables, then it was San Diego Comic Con and Nerd HQ – they inspire me. These people talk about their craft and what they do and I go moon eyed. This world is shitty place, let’s not deny it, but when I go to the cinema I don’t think about that. They tell stories about people that make me laugh and cry and ignite anger and I truly can’t think of anything more beautiful than that.

When I started this site I spent a month planning it – I wanted it to be this incredibly professional website where people who loved films and television like I did could come and read things but also interact and just have a discussion. I’m now acutely aware of the fact that there are hundreds of other locations across that internet where that is possible and those places are much more established and so there are more people to talk to.

In a way, this a vanity project – I could do everything that I do here on another platform where I would reach more people and the title ‘Geek Commentary’ wouldn’t be so ironic because people would leave comments and I could talk to more people. Yet, I’m going to stick it out. I really have no clue what this is anymore – my film and TV blog? The word blog feels more personal than website and that’s what I think that this has to become.

So I guess what I’m saying is that I’m going to start doing exactly what I tried to avoid when I spent the month of January planning, I’m winging it. I don’t know where this is going. I just love cinema and TV; I like hearing writers and directors and actors speak; I relish hearing Hollywood news and I just love the history and culture of it all. I don’t know how to become closer to this thing that already takes up so much of my life but if you want, you can watch me figure that out.

Thank God For Television

The nominations for this year’s Emmy Awards will be released later today and whilst there are definitely some favourites, it is hard to say who will receive a nomination and even harder to say who will win. This is the best type of problem.

I love film and I love the Oscars but television has reached a new level. You’ve no doubt heard the term ‘Oscar-bait’ but nobody ever says ‘Emmy-bait’ because there’s no such thing. Whilst there is a certain type of film that will always get attention in the Academy Awards, the Emmy’s race is abundant with diversity and fresh story-telling.

From Mr Robot to Game of Thrones to Empire: TV is telling new stories about different types of people and they are being rewarded for that.

Representation in television is way up (except for the disabled – which is a travesty occurring in all media outlets) and thanks to online services such as Netflix and Amazon Video, writers and directors are able to take much bigger risks in their content.

We also get to see lots of new actors as opposed to the same cycle of faces recycled over and over again. With so many different channels and ways to watch TV, there is a massive sense of competition before awards season even rolls around and that means that people don’t release anything boring: ideas aren’t recycled and TV is smarter than ever.

Essentially, thank God for TV.

Who are you supporting in the Emmy’s race? Movies or TV? Let me know in the comments.

Sulu’s Gay And It’s Okay?

This week the world found out that John Cho’s Sulu in the new Star Trek franchise is gay, making him the first openly gay character in the Star Trek universe. Obviously I was seriously pissed off when I first heard about this. Spoiler warning, anybody? Seriously though, there were people that were genuinely upset (when aren’t there?) and that included the original actor behind the character, George Takei.

Speaking to The Hollywood Reporter, Takei came out and said:

“I’m delighted that there’s a gay character. Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of Gene [Rodberry]’s creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.”

Simon Pegg (who plays Scotty and co-wrote the film) spoke to The Guardian yesterday and very respectfully disagreed with Takei, saying:

“I don’t believe Gene Roddenberry’s decision to make the prime timeline’s Enterprise crew straight was an artistic one, more a necessity of the time.”…”The viewing audience weren’t open minded enough at the time and it must have forced Roddenberry to modulate his innovation. His mantra was always ‘infinite diversity in infinite combinations’. If he could have explored Sulu’s sexuality with George, he no doubt would have. Roddenberry was a visionary and a pioneer but we choose our battles carefully.”

As far as celebrity arguments go, this has been the most polite, respectful and best articulated ones that I’ve seen in a long time but who do you agree with?

There is no doubt that whilst the film industry is slowly moving towards more diverse characters and that the sci-fi genre has been lacking in that respect.This is particularly crazy when you consider the fact that science fiction brings forth the craziest of plots in unimaginable landscapes but two boys kissing is just too out there.

Fascinatingly, the two sides of this argument agree on this key point and the only issue that seems to divide them is Roddenberry – the creator of the show. Sadly Gene Roddenberry died nearly 15 years ago so he can’t speak for what he envisioned for the character of Sulu but neither can Takei or Pegg.

Would he have wanted the character to be heterosexual? Was the character’s sexuality ever supposed to be a defining characteristic? We’ll probably never know but we do know Star Trek. It was the most racially diverse show on television when it began and that was something that Roddenberry had to push for.

Personally, I can’t imagine that a man so progressive in his thinking would have been incredibly bogged down by the sexuality of his characters. When slash fan fiction stories of Kirk and Spock began to appear, Roddenberry didn’t try to shut them down or deny the possibility, he commented:

“We never suggested in the series… physical love between the two. But it’s the… we certainly had the feeling that the affection was sufficient for that, if that were the particular style of the 23rd century.” (He looks thoughtful.) “That’s very interesting. I never thought of that before.”

Even if he never thought of Sulu in that way, I would like to imagine that he would also find it interesting.

What do you make of the Sulu sexuality reveal? Do you think that it’s disrespectful to Gene Roddenberry? Let me know in the comments.

Central Intelligence – Review

The Rock and Kevin Hart: what isn’t there to like? Hmm, maybe the rest of the film.

The problem with comedies nowadays is that they seem to just choose one or two funny actors and then push them together in a vaguely ridiculous scenario, essentially creating a very genre-focused sitcom.

Central Intelligence sees Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson and Kevin Hart thrown into a shady CIA operation that I struggle to remember the exact details of. The Rock plays a high-school-loser-turned-CIA-heavyweight whilst Hart is… an accountant.

The story plays out predictably and even the twist ending can be seen coming from the first half hour of the movie.

The characters aren’t particularly interesting but it’s the chemistry between the two main actors that makes this film watchable. Unlike Hart’s recent venture, Get Hard (Kevin Hart and Will Ferrell), it is actually fun to see these two actors together. Even watching their bloopers after the film ended, it was clear that they enjoyed making the movie and that joy was contagious.

Most of the jokes landed well but Ryan Hansen’s sex-obsessed character was the single most irritating thing to cross the screen. Small cameos from Jason Bateman and Melissa McCarthy are fun but only serve to balance out Amy Ryan’s wooden CIA agent.

Film fans will enjoy the countless movie references made throughout, although they could be boring and a waste of time for those that aren’t so well-acquainted with 80’s cinema.

The action sequences – and there are a lot of action sequences – were wonderfully choreographed and it certainly helped to have The Rock on board in that respect.

Overall, Central Intelligence doesn’t bring anything new to the world of film but it will make you smile and that’s the main criteria for a comedy, right?

Have you seen Central Intelligence? What do you think of The Rock and Kevin Hart? Let me know in the comments.