Soapbox: Remember, Remember The Fifth Of November – Five Things You Didn’t Know About V For Vendetta

v-for-vendetta-promo
Do pop culture icons come any more unlikely than this guy?

When V for Vendetta first arrived in cinemas back in 2006, it seemed unlikely to trouble the box office. After all, it was based on a 1980s comic book by Alan Moore and David Lloyd that was practically unknown to non-comics fans, giving it very little brand recognition to trade on.

And yet director James McTeigue’s take on the material – which follows the efforts of Guy Fawkes-clad V (Hugo Weaving) and his protégé Evey (Natalie Portman) to topple a totalitarian UK government – nonetheless wound up being a huge critical and commercial success.

With Bonfire Night upon us, now seems like the perfect time to revisit the film, so here’s a list of five things you didn’t know about V for Vendetta!

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Soapbox: Remember, Remember The Fifth Of November – Five Things You Didn’t Know About V For Vendetta

Review: Blade Runner 2049

Blade-Runner-2049
This vision of the future remains as bleakly beautiful as ever

So much has already been said about Blade Runner 2049 – director Denis Villeneuve’s follow up to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult sci-fi classic – that it’s hard to know where to begin.

The film – which, like its predecessor, draws upon Philip K. Dick’s novel Do Androids Dream Of Electric Sheep – has received near universal acclaim from critics, which is nothing short of remarkable for a sequel weighed down by 35 years worth of expectations!

But amid reports of underwhelming box office returns, casual moviegoers might be left wondering if Blade Runner 2049 lives up the massive amount of hype cinema buffs have built up around it.

The honest answer is no, probably not. However if Villeneuve’s film isn’t quite the masterpiece it’s being hailed as, it’s always good and often brilliant, and most importantly, serves as a worthy continuation of the Blade Runner story.

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Review: Blade Runner 2049

Live From The Pop Culture Studio: Is Cobb Awake At The End Of Inception?

Inception_Cobb
Never before has a simple children’s toy caused so much speculation!

There’s been a lot of buzz lately around Christopher Nolan’s latest film, Dunkirk, which opened last month. As stunning as Nolan’s war epic is, recently, I’ve actually found myself more preoccupied with one of the director’s earlier classics, dream-heist caper, Inception.

Specifically, I’ve been fixated on one question: at the end of the film, is Cobb awake or not? It’s a question that cinephiles have debated constantly since Inception was released way back in 2010 – and in this month’s Live From The Pop Culture Studio, we’re going to answer it!

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Live From The Pop Culture Studio: Is Cobb Awake At The End Of Inception?

Crystal Ball: The Future Is Now – Five Minority Report Technologies That Came True

Minority-Report_Interface
Many readers will have used this exact same technology before – and without the goofy gloves, either!

With all the hoopla surrounding Blade Runner 2049, the upcoming sequel to Ridley Scott’s 1982 cult classic, it’s easy to overlook another Philip K. Dick adaptation celebrating its anniversary this month. That’s right: Minority Report recently clocked up 15 years since its theatrical release.

The first collaboration between Steven Spielberg and Tom Cruise, Minority Report is as good as you’d expect from a pair of cinema legends. It offers up a smart, heartfelt and scarily prescient commentary on where humankind might be headed – all wrapped up in a gripping, visually stunning action-thriller detective story!

One of the things the really sets Minority Report apart from other sci-fi movies is just how plausible its fictional world feels. This is largely thanks to the think tank of actual futurists that Spielberg assembled to help him realise his vision of 2054.

It should come as no surprise, then, that so much of the futuristic hardware we see in the film is now very much a reality in our world. Whilst long-range personal jet packs unfortunately remain a mere pipedream (for now…), here are five Minority Report technologies that came true!

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Crystal Ball: The Future Is Now – Five Minority Report Technologies That Came True

Soapbox: Yes, Arrival Is Good (But That Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Overrated)

Arrival_Pods
Calling a movie that features alien squids who talk via ink blots “overrated” goes against everything I believe in…

The Oscars have been and gone, and – despite the ardent support of a vocal group of critics and fans – Arrival failed to snag the Best Picture gong (that went to La La Land…I mean, Moonlight).

Whilst this will no doubt disappoint the many fans of Denis Villeneuve’s sci-fi thriller (it has a 94% rating on Rotten Tomatoes, suggesting near-universal acclaim), there’s also a less vocal group of naysayers – myself included – who question whether Arrival really deserves the heaped praise it has received.

Indeed, if you do a quick google search, you’ll find more than a few cinephiles asking whether Arrival is just a little overrated – a good film over-hyped into a great one.

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Soapbox: Yes, Arrival Is Good (But That Doesn’t Mean It Isn’t Overrated)

Anatomy Lesson: “La Mer”

TinkerTailorSoldierSpy_Smiley
For a guy named “Smiley”, he sure does frown a lot…

I love James Bond. Seriously, the 007 franchise is an absolute favourite of mine.

Heck, I’m a sucker for spy movies in general – from the Bourne series through to Mission: Impossible flicks all the way down to The Man from U.N.C.L.E.

Yet even as I’m drawn to these films for their escapist thrills, there are times when I hanker for something a bit more “real”.

I’m talking about espionage yarns less about shooting up the bad guys and bedding gorgeous women, and more about the less glamorous legwork and moral quandaries that plague the secret agent trade as it exists in our world.

Fortunately, there are more than few films out there that cater to those with similar hankerings to get their fill.

One of the very best is Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy, Tomas Alfredson’s adaptation of the classic John le Carré novel – released in cinemas five years ago this month – the closing montage of which serves as the basis for this latest Anatomy Lesson feature.

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Anatomy Lesson: “La Mer”

Review: Super 8

Super8
“Super 8″?! But there are only five of ’em! Ohhhh, it’s a reference to film stock…

I’ve written before about how all directors have their trademarks – creative calling cards that let you know you’re watching a Scorsese movie as opposed to a Tarantino flick, for example.

I’ve also bashed out more than a few hundred words on the trademark that defines J.J. Abrams body of work.

No, I’m not talking about lens flares, but rather his tendency to largely recreate the films he loves, rather than use that inspiration to create something new (for evidence of this, look no further than The Force Awakens).

Yet when it came time to take a look back at Super 8 – released this month five years ago – what struck me was how, even though the film does indeed owe a huge debt to the films of Steven Spielberg, it still works as a stand alone effort, telling a unique and personal story all its own.

This is visible in every strand of Super 8‘s DNA, from its semi-autobiographical narrative that looks back at what it was like for Abrams growing up a movie-obsessed kid making his own short films, through to its nostalgia-tinged sensibilities, which allow it to serve as a love letter from that same kid to the films of the late 70s and 80s that influenced his eventual blockbuster career.

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Review: Super 8