The return of Red Dwarf

Posted in Humour, Science Fiction, Space, War News on July 27, 2012 by Barrie Suddery

I just saw the most glorious clip of recent times.

Red Dwarf is coming back to our screens soon on Dave and here’s a link to a small clip http://scifi.icanhascheezburger.com/2012/07/24/sci-fi-fantasy-trailer-red-dwarf-x/

This is most definitely a win for class, taste and quality.

Who knows; if this keeps up I might just be able to forgive Humanity for all of those Twilight movies…

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Review: The Dark Knight Rises (2012)

Posted in Adaptation, Comic Book, Movie, Reviews on July 22, 2012 by Barrie Suddery

WARNING: POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Director Christopher Nolan brings his Batman trilogy to a stunning, 10 out of 10 conclusion with this movie. Although the script is not entirely original, borrowing heavily from the DC Comics “Knightfall” and “No Man’s Land” story lines as well as Frank Miller’s “The Dark Knight Returns”, it takes the themes and ideas in those stories in a slightly different direction, creating a story that is fresh, and very relevant to the modern world.

The story picks up eight years after the events of The Dark Knight with Batman still being blamed for the death of Harvey Dent. As per the deal made at the end of The Dark Knight, Commissioner Gordon (Gary Oldman) has stuck to the deal made and has ensured that Dent is held up as the pinnacle of law enforcement and justice. A new act denying serious criminals parole has been drawn up and named the Dent Act and, as a result, crime has dropped to manageable levels in Gotham to the point that Batman has now retired and hasn’t been seen in almost the entirety of those eight years.

Bruce Wayne (Christian Bale) is now living as a recluse in Wayne Manor having lost half of his fortune in trying to develop fusion technology to solve the worlds’ energy crisis and is still grieving for the loss of Rachael Dawes who died at the hands of Two-Face in The Dark Knight. He is slowly drawn back into the world when Selina Kyle, a.k.a. Catwoman (Anne Hathaway), breaks into a safe in Wayne Manor simply so she can take Bruce Wayne’s finger prints which, we later discover, are used to fraudulently make bad deals on the stock exchange during an attack on the stock exchange building by Bane (Tom Hardy).

The result of all of this is that Wayne ends up broke, Wayne Enterprises gets bought out by a competitor and the weapons and technologies that Lucius Fox (Morgan Freeman) had developed for use by Batman and had been keeping off the books in the Wayne Enterprises Applied Sciences Division are now in danger of falling into the hands of Wayne Enterprises’ competitors. The theme of trust, or in this case Bruce Wayne’s lack of it, is explored quite heavily in this movie as we discover that the fusion technology does in fact work and that Wayne kept in hidden for fear it would be turned into a weapon.

In addition, the events surrounding Harvey Dent’s death come back to haunt Wayne in the form of rookie Gotham cop, John Blake (Joseph Gordon-Levitt) who has figured out that Wayne is Batman and doesn’t believe that he killed Dent. Commissioner Gordon is also having a crisis of conscience as he believes the time has come to tell everyone the truth about Harvey Dent and his death.

Fearing that Gotham has been lulled into a false sense of security by the relative peace they’ve enjoyed, Batman comes out of retirement to take on Bane and ends up being soundly beaten as it turns out that Bane is a former member of the League of Shadows, the organisation founded by Ra’s al-Ghul (Liam Neeson) that trained Bruce Wayne in the first place. As a result, Bane has always known Batman’s identity and, in revenge for the death of Ra’s al-Ghul, breaks Batman’s back and sends him to the sinkhole prison in Mexico that Bane himself was born in.

With Batman out of the way, Bane seizes all of Wayne Enterprises weapons and the fusion reactor and then cuts Gotham off from the rest of the U.S. by blowing up all but one of the bridges to Gotham island. Under the guise of a people’s revolution, Bane frees the prisoners in Blackgate prison and turns the city over to the people of Gotham encouraging them to take revenge on the wealthy and seize their share of the wealth of the city. This ties the movie in brilliantly with the current world-wide economic crisis and the general ill feeling the public has toward the banking/business community.

Throughout all of this, Alfred (Michael Caine) finds himself unable to continue working for Bruce Wayne as he fears that Wayne is pushing himself on a deliberate path of self-destruction and is troubled by his inability to keep his promise to Thomas and Martha Wayne to keep Bruce safe. In acting terms, this is Caine’s movie as his performance is easily the best out of the whole cast and he demonstrates his range to good effect during some very emotional scenes.

In order to get the best out of this movie, you really should re-watch the  first two parts of the trilogy before going to the cinema as The Dark Knight Rises references both quite heavily and really links in with Batman Begins to tie off this trilogy in an exciting and emotional way. The ending gives Bruce Wayne the satisfaction of seeing his goal of inspiring the police and people of Gotham to stand up on their own against crime and injustice finally fulfilled as well as giving the audience a sense of both closure and a new beginning as a Wayne passes his secrets to John Blake who, by this time, has quit the police force.

This movie, and the trilogy itself, is what Hollywood should be producing on a regular basis. It is intelligent, complex, it requires the audience to pay attention, remember the stories of Batman Begins and The Dark Knight to some degree and has been written, produced, filmed and acted all with an assumption of audience intelligence, as opposed to what we usually get these days, which is lowest common denominator movie making which leaves me feeling really insulted and disappointed at the lack of scope and vision.

No-one will ever be able to say that about The Dark Knight Rises.

If you see only one movie this year, do yourself a huge favour and make it this one.

Free Speech is Non-Negotiable

Posted in Opinion, War News on November 28, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

Over the past few weeks, I’ve heard of several people being threatened with libel action by a Mr. Marc Stephens who claims to represent the Burzynski Clinic in the U.S. which is offering a cancer treatment that is, at best, unproven and is asking a lot of money for this treatment even though there is no proof that I’m aware of that it works.

One of the people being constantly threatened and harassed by Mr. Stephens is Rhys Morgan who has posted the e-mail trail of threats that Mr. Stephens has sent to him here:

http://rhysmorgan.co/2011/11/threats-from-the-burzynski-clinic/

I’m expecting to start getting similar threats soon, so let me give Mr. Stephens fair warning: I’m not going to take this post down.

Conspiracy Theory – Why Kurt Sutter Will Never Win An Emmy

Posted in Opinion, War News on September 17, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

Two weeks ago, the 4th season of Kurt Sutter’s critically acclaimed Sons of Anarchy premiered on American television.

Followers of Sutter’s blog or his twitter account @sutterink will know that for the past year or so he has been an outspoken critic of the Emmy nomination process and the people who make those decisions and those of us who have been glued to our screens over the last 3 years are in complete agreement with him, even if his language does make our toes curl.

The question which has perplexed and confused the Sons fans started out as a fairly simple one, “Why won’t the Emmy people ever nominate the Sons for an award?” At first, we thought it was snobbery; Sutter isn’t one of the Hollywood elite and he’s proud of his outsider status. Another theory is that because Sutter has a self-confessed tendency for obsessiveness, the shows he works on either conform to his vision or there’s hell to pay. He admits he can be quite difficult to work with and perhaps the lack of recognition in the form of nominations is some kind of payback, especially when you consider he’s been quite openly critical about the falling standard of dramatic writing over the last few years.

My theory is much simpler.

Hollywood is running scared.

Ever since 9/11, the American entertainment industry has been putting out largely pro-government material. Only a few movies and TV shows have dared to challenge the new America of the Patriot Act, the DHS and pro-war government policies. The whole concept of the arts being used to express the inner most feelings and views of the general public has been hijacked by an increasingly media-savvy political class which has sought to reach out and influence the masses through television programming and fear-mongering rather than factual debate.

Kurt Sutter however, refuses to be brought to heel.

The central characters of SAMCRO are hardly the obedient drones modern governments want their citizens to be. They think, they feel, they have their own opinions and, most important of all, they have each other. Even though they often fight like cats and dogs, at the end of the day they are a community in a way that has long since been forgotten on both sides of the Atlantic. In a world where financial and political corruption is being exposed more frequently than ever and with public perception of political figures reaching all-time lows, the characters of SAMCRO stand apart from mainstream American society.

And they do it by choice, with few regrets.

We are raised to believe that it’s a dog-eat-dog world without ever stopping to realise that dog-eat-dog is cannibalism; that we are hurting ourselves with that kind of thinking. Greed riddled bankers and rogue traders have beggared the entire planet over the past few years and none have faced any kind of trial or have had their fortunes seized to be used to repay the people whose life savings they’ve squandered. People have been screwed out of their money and had their quality of life significantly reduced by a minority of financiers who have shown little or no regret over their actions.

Granted the characters of  SAMCRO are not saints and they frequently screw over other people to get what they want, but they key thing here is that they never screw over each other. The last couple of years has seen that change, yes,  but at the very beginning the MC was founded on the principle that each Son would immediately drop everything to help another. If you needed some cash to get you through a tight spot you wouldn’t need a bank loan with a rip-off interest rate, you’d simply ask the club and they’d have a whip-round and help out. If somebody was hassling you, you wouldn’t have to worry because you knew your brothers would be there instantly and without expecting anything in return except that you do the same for them.

In this Thatcherist/Reaganomics world where Me Plc is the established moral standard, I find myself loving these gun-running, fuck-you-and-your-society scumbags. In spite of their flaws, they are more trustworthy than the law makers running the world today. Their standards and beliefs may make you turn your lips up in disgust, but they stick by them. The characters of SAMCRO have the courage of their convictions and will never be brow beaten into obedience and fear and they will never give up on their dreams and just accept the place society has marked out for them.

They are free.

And that is what the Emmy people are afraid of.

For reasons best known to themselves, the people in charge of Emmy nominations have chosen to accede to the government agenda and only nominate shows which show “good” Americans. People who obey, sit down, stand up, bark, roll over and wag their tails on command. A show like the Sons of Anarchy where the central characters frequently out-wit the Federal government, run rings around its law enforcement agencies and kill their agents, is never going to be allowed to be publicly acclaimed. It might give people ideas and Kurt Sutter’s ideas are scaring the crap out of the people at the top of the Hollywood food chain.

The fact that the ratings have been going up with few, if any, dips shows them that we like these ideas. We like the idea of having friends who’ll back us up no matter the cost, the idea that we can do our own thing and make a living and most of all the idea we can live our own way. You don’t have to conform, you don’t have to fit in. You can be your own person, hold true to your own beliefs and that is the way to true happiness.

Kurt Sutter has reached out to the people of the world not with fear or hate, but with an idea and his pen is mightier than all the swords of government because his idea is incredibly simple: brains before bullets.

I wouldn’t be surprised if, in addition to Shakespeare’s Hamlet, Kurt Sutter based the Sons of Anarchy on some of the prose of Edward Bulwer Lytton:

“True, This! —
Beneath the rule of men entirely great,
The pen is mightier than the sword. Behold
The arch-enchanters wand! — itself a nothing! —
But taking sorcery from the master-hand
To paralyse the Cæsars, and to strike
The loud earth breathless! — Take away the sword —
States can be saved without it!”

  – from The Works of Edward Bulwer Lytton, 1892.

Please Read

Posted in Opinion, Politics, War News on August 14, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

Many of us here in Britain have long suspected that the bank bailouts combined with the MP’s expenses scandal and the general me, me, me attitude long promoted by politicians of all parties and persuasions would eventually cause some serious social upheaval.

Now it’s happened, the politicians and cops are simply using mindless platitudes like, “It’s unacceptable behaviour” and “gross criminality” to describe the recent riots and their participants.

A lot of this is simply playing to the gallery of public opinion and a lot more is to reassure the politicians financial backers that they’re still at the forefront of government concern. Obviously, if you put any of the above to any politician you’ll be immediately dismissed as either sadly misinformed, out of touch with reality or sympathising with criminals.

Fortunately, we have a long tradition of comedians and satirists holding government to account and exposing the truth of situations in a way many of us are simply unable to articulate.

With this article in the online Guardian newspaper, we can add Russell Brand to that list.

Please read: http://www.guardian.co.uk/uk/2011/aug/11/london-riots-davidcameron

Review: Captain America – The First Avenger (2011)

Posted in Adaptation, Comic Book, Movie, Reviews on July 30, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

WARNING: POST MAY CONTAIN SPOILERS

Hollywood shows up its inability to always successfully transfer comic book heroes to the big screen with this messy and unfulfilling effort.

Having been deemed unfit for military service, young patriot Steve Rogers (Chris Evans) has a chance encounter with Dr. Abraham Erskine (Stanley Tucci) who, impressed by his desire to serve, recruits him into a top-secret project to create the oft-mentioned “super soldier”.

Those familiar with the character will know what happens next. Erskine is killed by a Nazi plant played by Richard Armitage (continuing the Hollywood tradition of British actors playing villains) and the formula for the super-serum dies with him, leaving Rogers’ a one-of-a-kind soldier.

It’s at this point that the screenplay by Christopher Markus and Stephen McFeely starts to go wrong because rather than make use of Rogers’ enhanced abilities, his C.O. Colonel Chester Phillips (Tommy Lee Jones), chooses instead to head out to the Italian front without him. Thus deprived of his ability to serve, Rogers is talked into joining a nationwide tour to promote war bond sales for the U.S. government. As part of this tour, the character of Captain America is created for Rogers to play and the tour becomes a massive success.

Meanwhile, Johann Schmidt (Hugo Weaving) has taken the Nazi top-secret scientific research division, Hydra, independent of the High Command with a plan to, you guessed it, conquer the world. It turns out, that Schmidt had forced Erskine to give him the super-serum first before it was ready and his skin was burned off as a result, leaving him severely disfigured and being nicknamed the Red Skull.

Rogers just happens to be in Italy trying to entertain the troops when the unit his friend from Brooklyn is in is captured by Hydra. Sergeant James “Bucky” Barnes (Sebastian Stan) and Rogers go way back and when Rogers learns of his capture, he disobeys orders and goes to rescue him with the help of Phillips’ assistant Peggy Carter (Hayley Atwell) and Howard Stark (Dominic Cooper) the soon-to-be father of Tony Stark who goes on to become Iron Man.

Naturally, Rogers, clad in his Captain America costume, pulls off the rescue and, naturally, no charges are brought against him or Carter for disobeying orders. Finally convinced of his abilities, Phillips promotes Rogers to captain in the U.S. Army and Stark creates a new costume for him complete with his recognisable shield. Assembling a crack unit made up of Barnes and some of the other prisoners he rescued, Rogers leads them though a series of battles against Hydra, slowly destroying their bases until only their base in the Alps remains.

Rogers goes up against Red Skull beats him and, in an effort to save New York from being bombed, diverts the plane he’s on to crash in the Arctic where he remains frozen for nearly 70 years until revived by S.H.I.E.L.D. agents.

I don’t want to go into too much detail here as the story doesn’t really matter as it’s pretty much what we’ve seen before in these kinds of underdog-makes-good kind of movies. However, one of my biggest gripes against the script is that the equipment used by Hydra is beyond even todays technology, let alone that of the 1940’s and saying that it’s powered by an ancient device left behind by the Gods simply makes it even less believable. Now I know that the key to enjoying a super-hero movie is the suspension of disbelief, but energy pulse weapons, modern-day looking APC’s and a massive bomber that looks like a B2 batwing, but has rotors on it for extra thrust, is just plain ridiculous.

What is really disappointing is that the whole movie is spent in WWII rather than the modern-day and this annoyed me as one of the more intriguing things about the Rogers character is his 1940’s innocent belief in the infallibility of America coming up against the modern-day world opinion of his country which makes his role as the embodiment of the best of the American way even harder and, for the U.S, much more necessary and relevant.

Watching him deal with that as well as the fact that everyone he ever knew is now dead, would have made for a much better character drama, which is what Marvel characters are really known for; real life people dealing with extraordinary abilities and/or circumstances.

All in all, a very dissatisfying movie and a waste of a really good character in what is little more than an extended teaser for the upcoming Avengers movie.

The End of The Beginning or The Beginning of The End?

Posted in Opinion, Space, Wallpapers on July 9, 2011 by Barrie Suddery

July 8th 2011 is a day that will be long remembered throughout Human history.

On this day, the U.S. space shuttle Atlantis was launched on its’, and the space shuttle programme’s, final mission, ending thirty years of U.S. manned space flight. From now until the still doubtful deployment of the Constellation/Ares replacement vehicle, astronauts will have to be launched into space by Russian rockets.

That in and of itself isn’t a bad thing as it means that manned missions will still take place and if the U.S. congress can get the funding together for the Constellation programme, the end of the orbiter will just be a brief hiatus from U.S. manned space flight.

Hopefully us Brits will have something nice for the world in a little while http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/science-environment-13520948

In the meantime, being the nerd I am, I’ve collected all the shuttle mission patches for your enjoyment.