Last Stop

laststop1I don’t write about video games here too often, but I feel I must regards this game which I just played to completion- something I find myself managing all too rarely now. There is a tendency for video games to be sandbox experiences these days, without any real endgame one could mention, so an adventure game like Last Stop, which has a single-player narrative with a beginning, middle and end is rather unusual lately (perhaps quaintly old-fashioned to some). Its a third-person adventure game where players take control of one of three characters, deciding via multiple-choice options what they say and performing minigame sections.  I found the game really interesting, with well-written characters, excellent voice-acting (the best since Everybody’s Gone to the Rapture, in my mind) and a really wonderful, evocative score from Lyndon Holland that takes it to some other level. The art style refreshingly does not take an overly realistic approach- the character models and settings have a colourful feel not unlike 1960s television, or perhaps an animated movie.

Set in modern-day London with supernatural undertones, Last Stop is an anthology drama: its actually three seperate stories, each with six chapters, involving seperate characters whose adventures slowly bring them together for the finale. Paper Dolls is the best of the three, a Twilight Zone-type story in which a messy encounter in a Tube station results in two neighbours, middle-aged single-dad John and the young, always-distracted Jack waking up to find they have swapped bodies. The premise may seem daft but the character arcs are so well written, and their connections so endearing, that it was a joy just to play through the chapters and discover what would happen next: episodes of their misadventures, such as when both have to go to work pretending to be the other with ensuing fish-out-water comedy moments are really funny. As usual in the best-written dramas, having gained our emotional connection the humour turns dramatic when things go wrong and young Jack, trapped in John’s middle-aged body with a failing heart, becomes ill. 

Of the other two storylines, Stranger Danger is a more obvious supernatural tale about teenage Donna’s fascination with a tall handsome stranger with a penchant for glowing green eyes and suspiciously disappearing the people he takes to his house, is also quite good. There were some subtle writing choices here, and I enjoyed the initial disorientation I felt when I noticed that once someone was disappeared, oddly nobody in the game seemed to notice: it wasn’t that they were suddenly gone, it was like they were never there and totally forgotten. Quite unnerving. The third storyline, Domestic Affairs, is the lesser of the three, although it has to be said it was a brave choice for its main character, an unfaithful wife caught up in an office promotion rivalry, to be such a decidedly unlikeable playable character. It was quite polarising compared to how much I was rooting for the two guys in the Paper Dolls story.  

laststop2After finishing the game I turned to reviews to learn more about it and sadly it transpires that a lot of the choices I was making possibly didn’t effect the plot as much as I had assumed. The adventure is fairly linear, more so than I has thought when playing it, more the illusion of choice than genuine choice- not the ‘future of interactive entertainment’ that Edge Magazine was promising back in the 1990s, anyway. I think I can forgive some of that as the overall narratives were so involving and entertaining: maybe limiting how much the player interaction actually impacted outcomes was a trade-off to ensure the arcs flowed so well (it must certainly be a tricky balancing-act in game design). I haven’t enjoyed a videogame quite as much as this since, well, possibly What Remains of Edith Finch, which was another really involving single-player adventure. 

In a nod to modern television trends (making me wonder if developer Variable State have a few frustrated wannabe tv producers on its roster) Last Stop actually ends with a bit of a tease/cliffhanger, suggesting that its characters may yet return in a Last Stop 2– I’d certainly be open to that. Meanwhile, I’m going to play that last chapter again, see if I can’t alter how John and Jack’s storyline ends after all- my playthrough ended with a rather downbeat conclusion that felt at odds with my in-game choices. Disturbingly, all I’m thinking now is regards the illusion of freewill and choice in real-life: perhaps not the intention of Last Stop‘s programmers and developers, but hey-ho. If I can get the game outcome to change, maybe there’s hope for us in the Real World too…

Last Stop has just been released on Xbox Game Pass and is well worth a punt if you’re a subscriber.

The new Dune trailer

Oh this looks good. This looks so VERY good. Anyone else get a tingle watching those Ornithopters flying over the sand dunes?

But is anyone else concerned that the last ten years of dumbing down blockbusters may have robbed this film of its audience? Nobody turned up to go watch BR2049, and that film wasn’t being dumped on HBO Max at the time either. I don’t know how much of an impact that HBO Max thing will prove to be, or how much Covid will be in the equation come October, but considering the money that Dune needs to make in order to break even/get Part Two greenlit…  My biggest concern is simply that, are audiences going to go in droves to watch a sci-fi epic minus caped superheroes beating the shit out of bad guys while wrecking a city? Are audiences going to sit still for a film with ideas? 

Mind, Dune is an epic story with epic spectacle so maybe that will pull people in. Films are so stupid now though, particularly the ones that make any money. I’m still reeling from the assault on my senses that was Godzilla vs Kong and that Hobbs & Shaw thing. Is that what films are now? While I take some comfort from how Disney’s Black Widow seems to have under-performed recently, that also makes me nervous regards how streaming (and yeah, Covid) seems to have pulled people away from the movie experience, wondering if things have changed forever. Have the weekly drops of content on Netflix and Disney+ so diluted peoples appreciation of tentpole releases (I have to wonder if Disney putting Marvel and Star Wars content for ‘free’ onto subscribers televisions is a kind of self-sabotage) weakened and diluted the appeal of said franchises as regards getting bums on seats in cinemas, like it used to be? We’ve already seen how people don’t seem interested in buying films on disc anymore. Some of the high-end stuff being dropped on Netflix is often poor but production-wise, they are essentially exactly the same thing as is seen in cinemas. I remember when I was kid, I saw The Empire Strikes Back at the cinema on a Saturday afternoon and when I got home Buck Rogers in the 25th Century was on the telly, and funnily enough it was the episode with the asteroid sequence and Buster Crabbe but it was so different in quality, the chasm between home entertainment and cinema entertainment was plain. That’s gone now, and seeing ‘new’ Star Wars and Marvel stuff straight onto the telly…

I’ve noted before that movies don’t seem as important or special as they used to be in my youth, back when Star Wars would be on the big screen only and when you’d wait for years to ever see Jaws again- gradually films have become more disposable. In a world where you can buy Avatar for a fiver, is there any wonder that Avatar itself fails to have any real cultural significance (and I’m really curious how those Avatar sequels will perform in a few years time). Are movies, as we fans remember them as ‘MOVIES,’ essentially dead, and things like Dune simply being made for a world and business model that no longer exists?

One has to wonder if Dune: Part Two will eventually just be a mini-series on HBO Max.

Blade Runner: Black Lotus

While I’m a sucker for anything Blade Runner, and appreciate the efforts that Alcon are making to keep their investment in the property alive (the Titan books, comic spin-offs etc) this trailer for an anime series titled Blade Runner: Black Lotus just feels so woefully generic (it also disturbingly looks too much like that old Westwood Blade Runner game). For me it is just a cautionary reminder of how bad BR2049 could have been- it would have been so easy just to make a Blade Runner sequel with steamy, wet, rain-swept streets and superhumans beating the shit out of each other. Hell, maybe that would have been more successful at the box-office than BR2049 proved to be, and maybe closer to what many would have actually preferred but really, that tired old aesthetic is not what makes Ridley’s film so great for me, and there is surely more to the franchise/IP than that. Its not about countless neon signs and throwing Coca-Cola logos into the background. At least BR2049, while it made nods to that, actually went with a brutalist look of its own.

Perhaps this trailer is not indicative of what the actual series will be like- maybe it will be more intelligent than it looks and have some decent ideas behind it, but it does look so woefully generic that I fear the worst. I’m not confident about the CGI anime style either; to me I don’t see the point in this semi-cartoony/semi-reality ‘look’: you either go stylised art or photo-realistic (there’s plenty examples of both in Netflix’s excellent Love, Death & Robots series). Oh well. Mercifully I may not be able to watch the thing anyway, as its being made for Adult Swim and Crunchyroll in the States so I rather hope it doesn’t get sold over here in the UK at all.  Ignorance is bliss.

Ratched (Season One)

atchedposterThis was brilliant and appalling in equal measure.

Firstly, and here’s why I waited until now to watch it (this originally dropped on Netflix in September last year) – what’s the preoccupation with prequels and origin stories? This series could be about anyone, they could have written about an original character and told the exact same story, it didn’t need to be Mildred Ratched of One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest. It could have been any nurse, in any asylum, in any place (in fact it probably is, as the film took place in Oregon, not this series’ California), and the character as far as I recall (its been many years since I last saw the film) was not some super-heroine needing an origin story.

So what gives? Is it all just about having a ‘hook’, a gimmick, to hang a series over, to make ‘selling’ it easier?  Is this where we are now with getting anything greenlit by a studio? Are creatives so bereft of ideas that they have to mine all their film collections looking for any possible narrative hook to spin from? Or is the only thing studios/streamers understand now the Marvel MCU/Disney Star Wars school of carpet-bombing an IP for any possible spin-off?

To add a further mix of confusion, this is essentially a remake of Ryan Murphy’s second season of his American Horror Story, which was titled Asylum, and even stars one of that season’s stars, Sarah Paulson, as the titular character Mildred Ratched. Like Asylum, Ratched is full of bizarre characters, crazy situations, gory deaths, violent ends: a delirious cacophony of excess. People are lobotomised, boiled, shot, burnt, impaled, stabbed, smothered…

Not once but several times did I shake my head and comment to my wife “these characters are all monsters.” You could argue there is not one redeemable character or anyone slightly approximating ‘normal’ here at all: a rogues gallery of misfits and oddballs. Indeed it has a pretty formidable cast lining up as these freaks: Judy Davis, Cynthia Nixon, Sharon Stone, Vincent D’Onofrio, Corey Stoll, Amanda Plummer, its a pretty cool bunch of character actors competing in the chew-the-scenery stakes, and I’d argue the show actually gets stolen by Sophie Okonedo who plays a patient with multiple personalities: she is absolutely the best reason to watch this show. She’s a murderous female Two-Face multiplied by ten and I could watch her in a show of her own (hey, maybe this show has already got its own spin-off sorted).

One sequence has a prisoner on Death Row being taken to his execution room, the viewer having been shown in slow graphic detail the process of said execution via lethal injection. Once in the execution room however, the waiting Governor Wilburn (D’Onofrio) gleefully pulls aside a white sheet covering the apparatus to reveal it has been replaced by an electric chair. The prisoner shrieks in horror as he’s strapped in while Wilburn reaches to the power switch and fries his victim- here’s a politician who gets his own hands dirty for the votes.

You either accept the camp, pulpish fun of it all being written in big thick crayon or snort in disgust and reach for the off button: as much Wretched as Ratched. For my part I actually enjoyed it but I admit feeling a little guilty about that- I was watching it aghast at some of the twists and turns feeling I was being had most of the time. A character is shot in the stomach and near death one minute and a few scenes later is up and walking around fine (the scenes in between being about another character on the run from the police and caught the next morning only adding to my confusion re: the passage of time). You just cannot take it seriously as it stumbles over plot holes and characters doing bizarre 180’s just because it suddenly suits the plot (such as there is one). Usually you get an interest in a character just before they get murdered in horrible fashion but the six characters that survive to the end of the finale are thankfully the best and hint at great possibilities for a second season.

I was a fan of Murphy’s American Horror Story show and rate Asylum as its best offering by some margin, so watching a Greatest Hits remake of that show was pretty perfect for me. Murphy would be no doubt horrified at me lazily summarising Ratchet as Asylum MkII but it appears pretty clear to me. I’m just mystified why they likely wasted so much money getting the rights to the Mildred Ratched character at all, any links to the film appear pretty tenuous to me so far and it would be no worse being something wholly seperate, unless the second season ties things up somehow. But tonally, this is definitely more American Horror Story than One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest by a very considerable gory margin.

Speechless; words fail me…

I’ve watched my first Fast and the Furious movie. It was a spin-off, really, or so I’m led to believe- Fast & the Furious: Hobbs and Shaw. My goodness it was silly. In fact, it was so silly I feel rather insulted by the film-makers. Didn’t they think I deserved a decent script, character arcs, drama, realistic action sequences? No? Indeed, apparently not. Coming so soon after Kong vs. Godzilla (or was it Godzilla vs. Kong? Is there even a difference?) a film I’m still trying to figure out enough to write a review… A line from a Pet Shop Boys song springs to mind, What have I, what have I, what have I done to deserve this? 

That joke from Airplane comes back to me, of a news pundit commenting he has no sympathy for the doomed air passengers “they knew the risks, they bought their tickets…” or something like that. In my case, “he knew the risks, he knew what kind of films they are, I say- let his brain explode!”

Perhaps I need to watch some of, if not all, the remaining eight (soon nine, I gather) Fast & the Furious films in order to glean some sense of logic or purpose in the events and characters I watched in that Hobbs & Shaw movie (I mean, what was Helen Mirren doing in it?). All I could gather from its huge body count was that if you don’t have a line of dialogue then you’re simply cannon fodder and that there’s no harm in excessive bloodless, painless carnage as long as everyone is spitting out silly wisecracks and the cars look cool.

I didn’t expect that Idris Elba could mine the depths of his ‘performance’ in that Star Trek film again, but he found a way… I did like Vanessa Kirby though. I don’t think I couldn’t have lasted it out to the bitterly senseless end without her being in it. Oh well, we’ll put my eventual review on pause.

Saint Maud (2019)

smaudI’m pretty certain this one is a Marmite movie: one of those love/hate pictures – for my part, I have to admit I was quite blown away by it. I thought it was astonishing and intoxicating; its mood, its sense of time and place, I couldn’t take my eyes off it. I’m not sure it works as a horror film, which appears to be how it was marketed- sure there are horror undertones but I much prefer to think of it as a decidedly unnerving psychological drama. A little like Taxi Driver set in Scarborough. Maybe that’s just cheating: its a lot like Taxi Driver, its nothing like Taxi Driver; it feels like Taxi Driver. Younger audiences with a more contemporary frame of reference might be surprised by its similarity to something like Joker, but Martin Scorsese was there long before. This is a study of a fragile psyche increasingly marginalised and isolated from society and the normal world around her, descending into madness. Its the farthest thing from pleasant.

Palliative care nurse Maud (Morfydd Clark) is a very withdrawn, increasingly isolated young woman, traumatised from a prologue in which something seems to have gone terribly wrong with a patient in a hospital. Sometime later, and no longer working in that hospital, Maud is hired to look after Amanda Kohl (Jennifer Ehle), a middle-aged woman who was once a celebrated and successful dancer and choreographer but who is now dying from terminal cancer, living her final days as a recluse in an isolated run-down coastal town. Maud is deeply religious, convinced that she has been touched by God and is meant for some hidden purpose, and is both fascinated and horrified by Amanda’s atitudes and those of her visiting freinds. Amanda seems have led a wildly hedonistic lifestyle and clearly has no Faith. It begins to dawn upon Maud that Amanda is the subject of her Purpose: that Maud needs to save Amanda’s soul from eternal damnation and lead her to the light. By any means necessary.

Saint Maud is about the terror of loneliness, and clinging to some kind of purpose and reason, however misguided or dangerous. Like Travis Bickle before her (and admittedly my comparison is likely lazy, too on the nose but throughout watching the film I couldn’t shake it) Maud’s attempts to connect with the people around her fail utterly, suffering rejection and her ensuing self-obsession twisting into further insanity as her helpless rage descends into religious mania. One can use God to justify anything. 

This film is beautifully filmed, with darkly unsettling cinematography and a truly nerve-wrecking musical score. The performances are excellent, particularly the double-act of Morfydd Clark and Jennifer Ehle who are both thoroughly convincing, Clark mentally disintegrating while Ehle physically disintegrates. Its not an easy watch. It might even be boring to some, particularly those expecting a more ‘traditional’ horror movie, but I found it quite fascinating and endlessly bouncing around in my head afterwards.


The Phantom of the Opera (1962)

HyperFocal: 0

Its oddly fitting that this is one of the very few Hammer films I didn’t buy when it first came out on Blu-ray several years back. One of the Hammer films I’d not seen, you’d think I would have been curious enough to add it to the collection (I bought Captain Clegg blind, after all, but then again, that does star Peter Cushing). It transpires that my indifference was not unique, and it seems to have suffered a similar response from critics and cinemagoers back when it first came out: possibly the most widely unloved Hammer film of its era.

And yet, finally getting around to it now that its included in Indicator’s sixth Hammer boxset, it transpires that its a pretty good film. Blessed with what is claimed to have been Hammer’s biggest budget for a movie, it looks pretty spectacular with some lovely sets and even better location shooting (the Wimbledon Theatre posing as the ‘London Opera House’, the film cleverly moving the setting from Paris to London). The staging of the opera is really quite impressive and the period costumes and décor is to the usual high standard of Hammer. There is clearly some considerable ambition here. The film is also blessed with a really fine cast which includes the great Herbert Lom as the Phantom, Heather Sears as the Phantoms muse, Christine, and Edward de Souza cuts an impressively engaging hero (there’s also a delicious cameo by Patrick Troughton as a rat-catcher). Its even directed by Terence Fisher, one of the best directors that ever worked at Hammer (The Curse of Frankenstein, the 1958 Dracula, Hammer’s fine The Hound of the Baskervilles and many others). 

Perhaps the problem was that it was a Hammer film, and by 1962 when this came out, that already inferred a certain kind of picture, typically lurid, sensational and gothic, and this version of The Phantom of the Opera is a bit more sophisticated than usual for Hammer, and certainly much more restrained. Herbert Lom gives us a more sympathetic Phantom than the crazed killer one might have expected from Hammer (his stooge dwarf does the dirty work for him) and the real bad guy is the deliciously corrupt Lord Ambrose D’Arcy (Michael Gough, who steals the show with this lecherous and horrible scumbag, complete with casting couch shenanigans no less- its a marvellous performance that is thoroughly enjoyable, the best I’ve ever seen him). Lom is of course as excellent as one would expect- spending most of the film with his face hidden behind a mask, his commanding, lyrical voice is unmistakeable, and a flashback sequence where we see him pre-disfigurement allows him to show added facets of the character and a warmer performance that encourages our empathy. This film’s Phantom is very much painted as a victim, previously the impoverished Professor L. Petrie who was cheated when his opera was stolen by D’Arcy and subsequently horribly disfigured -and believed dead- after a fire, slowly rotting away in the sewers beneath the Opera House to plot some way of undermining D’Arcy’s success from claiming authorship of Petrie’s masterpiece.

I rather suspect that this was not the Phantom that Hammer fans wanted to see back in 1962, that they would have much preferred to have had another kill-crazy Hammer monster, with plenty of thrilling action scenes and gore, and as far as critics were concerned, who wanted to take Hammer seriously at that point when it had settled into its easily-derided (albeit successful) exploitation/gothic horror format?

All these years later gains this film a fresher perspective and it is indeed a better film than I had expected. In hindsight its clear that the film-makers should have trusted to Hammer’s reputation a little, and leaned more towards the usual ‘X’ certificate than the ‘A’, keeping both camps happy and ensuring the film has more of an edge than it does- but its clearly a conscious artistic choice they made, albeit ill-judged and dooming the film to box-office failure, critical indifference and relegation to lower-rank Hammer status, which it doesn’t really deserve at all. Its not perfect but its definitely a film past due a reappraisal, certainly by those such as me who too easily dismissed it in the past. I guess all films have their time, no matter how overdue.

Some connections:

Terence Fisher also directed  The Hound of the Baskervilles, The Two Faces of Dr. Jekyll, The Stranglers of BombayDracula: Prince of Darkness  and many other Hammer greats.

Dog-lovers beware: Synchronic (2019)

Synchronic_UK_Digital_BannerSynchronic has an enticing pedigree, coming from the team behind The Endless and Spring, two of the most interesting genre films of the last few years. For the first half-hour its really pretty great, rather like a weird, winning combination of Videodrome and Angel Heart (two of my favourite movies), but unfortunately it gradually self-destructs in bewildering fashion: the ending is supposed to be some kind of climactic, emotional resolution but its more of a whimper, the narrative running out of steam and floundering, never reaching the catharsis it deserves. Is this a case where giving film-makers a bigger budget actually works against them?

Two New Orleans paramedics, Steve (Anthony Mackie) and Dennis (Jamie Dornan) on a series of night shifts are called out to unusual deaths that are related to a new designer drug, named Synchronic, which alters the users perception of time, and appears to enable travel into the past. In some ways it feels a lot like a Philip K Dick-kind of story, a strange tale about altered perception of reality and reality changing around the central protagonist- in Videodrome, it was the signal creating tumours in the viewers brains that altered their reality, while in Synchronic, its the drug altering the users brains breaking them from the usual forward flow of Time. Its a fascinating premise that initially isn’t as silly as it might sound, and there is an ingenious twist that a person’s position in three-dimensional space dictates where in time the drug will send them, Spacetime like a hologram: as the scientist who developed the drug states, Time is the tracks/grooves etched into a vinyl album, any moment existing in perpetuity and instantly ready to be played, and the drug Synchronic is the needle that drops on any position (the analogy was described better in the movie, mind). 

The film has a certain visual flourish in its first sequences that display what people taking the drug actually experience, with an unsettling music score that reminded me of those of Altered States and Annihilation; its all quite arresting and exciting and seems full of all sorts of possibilities. Unfortunately the script struggles to take it anywhere meaningful and for some reason, in editing, some scenes seem to have been placed out of order, a stylistic choice that is perhaps intended to unsettle the viewer or perhaps prefigure the films suggestion that Time is not linear. Adding to this confusion is the sound mix losing some of the dialogue, letting it get buried in the mix, a sin I find particularly annoying. 

It isn’t helped by Anthony Mackie, who I really struggle to take to in most any film he appears in- he just sees to be the same guy in every film and here he seems terribly miscast : he just can’t convince as a loner with an addictive personality who womanises and drinks too much and cannot find peace, and is then diagnosed as terminally ill with a brain  tumour. He looks like he’s walked straight offset from a Marvel movie (which he probably did). Part of the conviction of movies of old was from their casting: you can buy James Woods as Max Renn in Videodrome, as he’s patently dangerous and on the edge, and there is always something ‘wrong’ about Mickey Rourke’s Harry Angel in Angel Heart, but films these days just like its actors/characters to be some kind of ideal or ‘perfect’. Movies just don’t do flawed characters well anymore, certainly nobody overweight or with a bad complexion or not fresh out of the gym.

So that’s the root issue with Synchronic, well before the film starts to unravel into a plotline involving going back in time to rescue Dennis’ daughter who has become lost in the past (no, really, that where this damn thing goes). I just never ‘buy’ into Mackie. To be fair, parts of the script do him no favours; how any guy can risk taking his dog into the past and then not fall to pieces when said dog gets left behind, well I call bullshit on that right there (non-dog-owners mileage may vary). Any dog owner would never risk that and would be in pieces afterwards when the pet was lost; Steve hardly bats an eyelid. This ill-thought writing can be seen elsewhere: it turns out Dennis’ marriage is on the rocks, presumably this is intended to add tension/drama but it comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere, there is a sub-plot involving the scientist who created the drug, but that again comes out of nowhere and goes nowhere (and the scientist dies, apparently, offscreen). Most crushingly of all, Dennis’ daughter Brianna is ill-served by the plot, we don’t really ‘know’ her, she takes the drug offscreen and disappears offscreen and frankly, who cares about her at all (and her connection to Mackie’s character seems perfunctory at best)?

So watching this, I had the feeling I was watching a solid 8/10 movie for awhile but could sense the score slipping as it went on. If I did score films I review, it possibly fell back to a 5/10 that becomes a 6/10 because of just how good the beginning and its mood and execution early on was. Such a shame, really; its so rare that I watch something that compares favourably to films like Videodrome and Angel Heart, and this film could have, perhaps should have, been a classic. 

Some connections:

Directors Justin Benson and Aaron Moorhead also made the much better Resolution, The Endless and Spring.

Anthony Mackie similarly failed to impress in Outside the Wire and The Woman in the Window.

As far as better movies with a similarly atmospheric New Orleans vibe go, obviously there’s Angel Heart.

Directors Cut of Star Trek: TMP 4K in 2022

Fascinating! Well, unless someone is winding me up with some elaborate geek scam (and I’ll be honest, it does feel a bit like a ‘pinch-me’ moment), this is a turn-up indeed, and one surely worthy of Spock’s raised eyebrows. Paramount have announced that a 4K restoration of Robert Wise’s 2001 Directors Cut of Star Trek: The Motion Picture is indeed coming after all. This is after the recent news of a set of the first four Star Trek films on 4K UHD being released this September as part of the franchises’ 55th Anniversary celebrations, the inclusion of the theatrical cut-only of ST:TMP seemingly shutting the door on the Directors Cut ever appearing in HD or UHD.

It transpires that a full restoration (i.e. rebuild) of the Directors Cut., originally created only in SD format back in the days of DVD, has been greenlit for a premiere on the Paramount+ network in 2022. Apparently the work hasn’t begun yet, and it is assessed that it will take between six to eight months to complete: on board  for the project are producer David C. Fein, restoration supervisor Mike Matessino, and visual effects supervisor Daren R. Dochterman, all of whom worked previously with director Robert Wise preparing the original 2001 re-cut of his 1979 feature. So, a mid-late 2022 premiere over in the States followed by a disc release over here and in other international territories. Feels a lot like what happened with HBO Max financing Zack Snyder’s Justice League: maybe streaming is not the Great Evil after all –  it certainly seems good for SOMETHING. 

Anyway, if done right – and I certainly have faith with Matessino involved- this will be great indeed. I still watch my Blu-ray of ST:TMP from time to time and while its fine (oddly one of those films that seems to improve with age, for all its numerous faults) I always wish I could sometimes turn to Wise’s revised cut. Heck, with advances in CGI this could actually be a vast improvement over the 2001 edition (lets see those artists fully match their CGI Enterprise with the film’s gorgeous original model photography). So you know, the long wait looks like it has been worth it. 

I need a Lotto win

peter cushingSideshow collectibles over in the USA have announced two statues of Hammer stalwarts  Christopher Lee as Dracula and Peter Cushing as his adversary Van Helsing, from the 1958 Dracula. My, the Peter Cushing one is gorgeous, a work of beauty, that – Kudos to the artists at Sideshow, that looks pretty special. Mind, at something like 20″ tall I’d need a bigger shelf, as well as a bigger bank account.