Honour Among Punks: Sherlock Holmes like you’ve never seen her before.
Did you know there’s a comicbook where Holmes and Watson are both women and it’s set in an alternate-history 1980s where Victorian society continued on throughout the 20th century because World War II never happened? And Holmes (Sharon) is a punk who solves punk crimes that are ignored by the police? And she has an angry punk girlfriend named Sam, who lives with her and nerdy American med-student Watson at 112 Baker Street?
Well there is! And look at this sassiness! More info at Hello Tailor
It’s almost more from Watson’s point of view than Holmes canon, because Watson-as-narrator is enthusiastic but still mostly a naiive outsider to Sharon and her girlfriend’s standoffish circle of punk acquaintances. Sharon is more of a mystery than canon Holmes, possibly because her closest emotional connection is to Sam rather than to Watson, who fills the role of well-meaning sidekick as Sam becomes more and more embittered about Sharon’s obsession with her work. The mysteries resemble classic Holmes without being direct adaptations (they investigate a forgery ring that’s somehow connected with the London punk scene; Sharon tracks a latter-day Jack The Ripper who preys only on men), and the characters frequent an underground nightclub called Baskerville’s.
Something I noticed yesterday, something that’s been nagging at me for awhile, dancing around my peripheral, ducking out of the way just as I turn my head, hiding in the corners of my consciousness:
I don’t think people give a shit about Doctor Who so much anymore.
Before I continue: I know that what I’m about to offer up as “proof” of this phenomenon is entirely anecdotal. I didn’t commission Nate Silver to collate data and pore through the stats before I yarked this up onto the internet. But I do wanna get this out there, to see if it is, in fact, just me. Or rather, me, and my friends, and their friends, and the legions of Who fans (I’m not calling them Whovians. They shouldn’t either) online who seem to be responding to the back half of Series 7 with a tweedy shrug and some sideways snark at best.
Basically this article articulates how I feel about the current run of Doctor Who. I’m not an alarmist who thinks that Moffat’s going to kill the show if he’s not removed, but I’m so damn… underwhelmed by the show at the moment. A couple of high points aside and my still being a big fan of Matt Smith’s portrayal, it’s become more of a habit than something I genuinely enjoy. And that makes me sad.
Right. I think the meat-grinder aspect of the book is wasteful, puerile crap and reason enough to give this thing a pass. Take that as a given.
Outside of that, the book itself isn’t anything to get very excited about: good art, but the voices for the established characters seem off, and Hopeless goes for one of those winking meta moments that, as they often do, only highlight the flaws the writer is trying to shield from criticism (namely, that the core concept here is a rip-off of better-conceived material). This is the set-up issue, so if you’ve been following the hype, there aren’t a lot of surprises here, but I assume that getting the story off the ground quickly is one of the reasons Marvel is double-shipping this title for December.
Recommendation: unless you’re a fan of Arcade, leave it on the shelf. Try the Courtney Crumrin books if you want to see kids in peril. Good mix of growing pains, dangerous bastards, betrayal, living with the consequences of one’s actions (in the long and short term), and all the snark you can handle. Also? Tommy Rawhead is more frightening than Arcade could be on his best day, in this incarnation or any other.
I’m a big fan of Arcade and still wouldn’t pick this up. Because trying to make Arcade a credible villain and take him seriously, pretty much entirely misses the appeal of the character. I don’t want to see him killing kids. Trying, maybe, in suitably wacky and hilarious ways, but actually succeeding? No thanks. Even the character’s own stated motivation isn’t to succeed.
On paper, The Amazing Spider-man doesn’t look its best. Slated to retell the origin story already well covered in Raimi’s movies, supposedly darker in tone, more akin to The Dark Knight than Spider-man, with first previews sending bloggers rushing to their keyboards to complain that the film was a Twilight for superheroes, it’s probably not surprising that anticipation for this movie hasn’t been particularly high.
Which is a shame, really, because, a few flaws aside, this is by some margin the strongest outing for Peter Parker on the big screen, in my opinion. The movie might not deliver anything new, but it does deliver better, standing up strongly against the more recent crop of Marvel outings thanks to some charismatic performances and some heart.
After the Assassination - An extract from the Royal Shakespeare Company’s production of Julius Caesar, which was adapted for television and shown on BBC Four over the weekend.
Shame on the BBC for scheduling this magnificent production opposite an England match, which ensured it went almost overlooked.
Critics have been singing its praises though, and I can join their number. Modern settings for Shakespeare are nothing new, but I suspect transposing the entire play to an (unnamed) state in Africa is something unseen before. Paterson Joseph leads the cast as Brutus, but he’s by no means alone in standing out in an impressive cast that includes Cyril Nri as Cassius, Jeffery Kissoon as Caesar, Ray Fearon as Mark Antony, and Adjoa Andoh as Portia.
The staging is intriguing too. The camera is conspiritorial for the appropriate scenes, but when the staging calls for crowds and open spaces, it cuts back to the stage production in Stratford. I’m not sure if it was a deliberate choice or budgetary restrains, but the reminder that this is a stage production that’s been simply lifted onto television isn’t a bad thing, showing each medium to have its strengths.
Definitely worth checking out if you have any interest in the Bard.
I was going to write a review of Prometheus, but than I discovered (via Roger Ebert) that Red Letter Media had posted their own (kinda) review and I suddenly felt superfluous.
My comic review of Prometheus is up on Tor.com! Yeah, it’s not Alien, but that’s kinda okay! Also, GIANT plot holes & dumb Astronauts who really would’ve benefited from seeing … Alien. ^^
So, yes, The Avengers. It’s out over here, a week or so before North America for some reason, so we have it and I saw it. And what did I think? Well…
Opinions follow that may be mildly spoilery…
Finally managed to get hold of a copy of Faith Erin Hicks’ Zombies Calling. I don’t remember enjoying a graphic novel this much in a long time. Absolutely hilarious with interesting things to say about zombies and the Canadian student loans system (yes, really). To say much more would be to give the game away, really, but the book’s by turns laugh-out-loud funny and touching, heading in unexpected directions while having fun playing with the tropes of zombie movies. And great characters in the shape of Joss (especially Joss), Robyn and Sonnet. It’s pretty much everything I love about the indie publishing scene.
Went and saw The Hunger Games last night and was suitably impressed. While the film didn’t always work for me, it was a strong adaptation, sticking close to the source material. Which was a benefit in this case. I can’t imagine fans of the book will be too disappointed.
The trouble with the updated version of Fright Night is that it’s all very slick, but it’s essentially charmless. Oh, it looks great, but it just lacks the gonzo charm and occasional subtlety of the original, being neither funny enough to be a comedy horror, nor scary enough to be a straight horror.
Some of the blame for the former can be laid at the door of David Tennant, who’s set up as being the comic relief, but would have benefited (for once) from completely hamming it up to that end, while the latter lack of scares is mostly down to Colin Farrell being not particularly chilling or memorable in the villainous role. Again, more scenery chewing and fully embracing how ridiculous the material is probably wouldn’t be out of place. Anton Yelchin and Imogen Poots made perfectly satisfactory leads, but in the end, it’s only Christopher Mintz-Plasse who’s allowed to completely ham it up and the movie’s the better for it.
When it’s said and done, the remake’s not displeasing, by any means. It just feels rather redundant and average. Redundant because, perhaps, they’ve stuck a little too closely to the original, rather than trying to find something to set it apart. But it’s still a perfectly good way to kill a couple of hours.
A lot’s been said about the financial failure of John Carter, but I went into the movie wanting to like it. On paper, it’s the kind of story I love - I’m an avid consumer of pulp adventures. And a screenplay by Michael Chabon? Added bonus.
In reality, I couldn’t love the movie, although I did enjoy it. Most of its flaws have been well reported - over long, bland villains, a lead that lacks star power - and those are probably true. Taylor Kitsch lacked the secret ingredient of charisma and the twinkle in his eye. Something that James Purefoy’s performance had plenty of. Sadly Purefoy was on screen for maybe a few brief minutes. Kitsch was there through the whole movie. Purefoy was, however, for me, the only supporting character to stand out. In fact, thanks to the similarity of costume design between most of the supporting characters, armies and even CGIed characters, I had trouble telling any of them apart. It was like watching a Transformers movie.
John Carter had plenty of the ingredients I love, but the one vital ingredient it seemed to be missing was a sense of fun. The movie didn’t need to try and be a comedy, by any means, but everything was so straight faced and earnest. I just felt that more buckles needed to be swashed in the process and the central character’s reluctance to play the hero dragged. The aforementioned James Purefoy seems to have been the only one who was really relishing his role and had the playful rogueish element the movie could have done with more of, although Lynn Collins was also a strong Dejah Thoris.
But the elephant in the room was, perhaps, the biggest problem with the movie, in my eyes. The movie’s lost a lot of money, yep. And it’s lost a lot of money because a lot of money was thrown at it. The film has the reek of over-indulgence. The world-building is rich and detailed, but you can’t help but feel that a much smaller budget would have led to a more thrifty screenplay. As it was, the movie was bloated with scenes that could easily have ended up on the cutting room floor and led to a more punchy, and enjoyable, movie.
But when all’s said and done, John Carter wasn’t a terrible movie by any means. A complete marketing failure, to be sure, but there’s plenty I enjoyed about it. But it’s not a movie I’ll be rushing to pick up on DVD. Worth a look and, despite pulling for it because of the beating it’s been getting, I enjoyed it just enough. But I couldn’t necessarily recommend it.
Bruce Robinson’s first directorial gig in nearly two decades, The Rum Diary was always likely to fail to meet expectations, despite its impressive pedigree.
Supposedly, Robinson broke six and a half years of sobriety when he encountered writers block during the screenwriting, drunk a bottle of alcohol a day until it was done and during the filming did some “savage” drinking with Johnny Depp.
The final film definitely feels like the logical end result of that atmosphere - it’s rather like a conversation with a drunk. Rambling, sometimes incoherent, occasionally very funny and rarely making any kind of logical sense with any message lost in a blur of alcohol. The film’s neither anarchic or gonzo enough to truly represent Hunter S. Thompson’s novel, nor coherent enough to form a satisfying narrative. But when it’s good, it’s very very good - at its best when it descends into black Withnail-esque farce set pieces.
The film’s well served by a great cast, however, Johnny Depp’s fantastic at the humour, but toothless when it comes to the real savage bite that the central character needs in the final act, seeming more bewildered than defiant. Worth a look, certainly, but the critics had it right - ultimately it was set up to be a disappointment.