Friday 19 February 2021

Cult Cinema, now available

So I wrote another book. That's CULT CINEMA: A Personal Exploration of Sects, Brainwashing and Bad Religion in Film and TV. It's notionally supposed to be available on 26th but Amazon pulled the trigger a little early. You can find it on Amazon on most marketplaces, including: 

I'm going to be doing two launch events. On 26th February, I'll be launching the event with a watch party for The Invitation (2015) followed by talk and a live QnA on Zoom, because that's how we do events like this now. And on 25th of March, I'll be promoting it with the Cultural Institute at Swansea University, of which more details to come.

Monday 8 February 2021

Your Move, Darwin #11: War for the Planet of the Apes (2017)

(Spoilers. Always, spoilers.)

Cultural historians of the future will probably have no hesitation in recognising that cinema in the second decade of the 21st century was the high point of the Franchise Genre Blockbuster. A flood of Marvel and DC superhero movies; five new Star Wars movies; four Hunger Games movies; five Fast and Furious movies; a couple more Terminator movies; four more Transformers movies. And of course, there were more Bond movies (there have always been more Bond movies). Failed, super-expensive attempts to kick off franchises abounded, with Luc Besson’s good-hearted but chemistry-free attempt to bring French comicbook legends Valerian and Laureline to the screen flopping catastrophically, and ready-planned sure-thing multimillion-dollar franchises based around King Arthur and the Universal Monsters getting themselves cancelled on the spot thanks to movies that were frankly crappy enough that audiences noticed. Every studio was looking for a property to resurrect: indeed, the Rocky, Rambo, Alien(s), Mad Max, Predator and Jurassic Park series all came back, and the long-running Toho Kaiju series – home to Godzilla, Rodan and Kong – got a monster American relaunch. Why wouldn’t they have another pop at rebooting one of the most successful sci-fi movie franchises of the past? They did it with pretty much all the others.

I’m not the first to observe that the titles of the Planet of the Apes reboots are a bit wonky. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a film about the dawn of the Planet of the Apes. Dawn of the Planet of the Apes had a war for the Planet of the Apes in it, explicitly flagged in dialogue. And it’s fair to say that War for the Planet of the Apes is really about the ultimate rise of the Planet of the Apes. Even the final film itself seems implicitly to admit this, explaining how each of the films supplies a Rise, a Dawn and a War in an opening crawl. I do not know if this is true, but I have this guess that they came up with the titles, pitched the movies and announced the return of the franchise before having a script. In the same way that Paul Dehn was long ago sent off to write another one with the terse words “apes exist” (and by the way knocked it out of the proverbial park), I would guess that the writers of these new movies got sent off to produce a bible and create scripts after the titles were settled. The initial thought behind these films was plainly “Hey, I guess we should make some more Planet of the Apes movies.”