Science-fiction franchises rarely die. The eyes might close but the heart continues to beat, even if only a core collective of fans can hear it. The fact that Planet Of The Apes’ ticker is still pumping, despite the life-threatening surgery it underwent in 2001, is testament to the series’ resilience. Though a success in financial terms, Tim Burton’s film paled in comparison to its 1968 forefather, lacking its well-defined story, strong characters, thought-provoking subtext and, well, let’s be honest, plain old charm.
Of course, fans of the original Apes movies – those that were disappointed in 2001, anyway – were always going to forget, if not quite forgive, Burton’s effort. But Hollywood? Had the critical chirping over the 2001 film – especially its confusing ending – halted the wagon train? Or would the realisation hit that the movie had simply strayed too far from the source? The answers, it seems, are in Caesar, the seventh Planet Of The Apes film, mooted for release by Fox in 2011 – providing it makes it into production (at the moment, it’s awaiting a green light).
Rising at 6am on Saturday wasn’t an ideal way to start the weekend, but at least it had purpose. This year’s London Film & Comic Con, held at Earls Court Two, had a 9am kick-off, and I didn’t want to be trailing behind the throng when the doors opened. After catching the 7.52am train to West Brompton, I arrived at about 8.10am and joined the queue, which was already snaking around the corner of the venue. It was a grey morning but, thankfully, the rain held off for just long enough.
After last year’s event, which was held in a cramped and gloomy hall in Earls Court One (currently home to the Doctor Who Exhibition), it was a relief to find myself entering a spacious and reasonably well-lit venue Never having arrived so early at one of these events, I wasn’t quite sure what to do first: head to the back of the hall and grab some ‘virtual queue’ tickets for the guest signings, pick up some talk tickets or queue at the organisers’ booth to sort out a wee problem?
“You have never experienced anything like Cloverfield.”
Empire magazine’s Olly Richards, there, igniting a flame up my backside that propelled me to my local Vue on Saturday afternoon.
Unfortunately, the Cloverfield experience echoed ones I had watching The Zombie Diaries and, to a lesser extent, The Blair Witch Project on the big screen. I’m just not cut out to have stomach-churning shakycam engulfing my field of vision for any length of time.
And so, after 30 minutes, I disengaged emotionally from the film to focus my attention on not spewing. My thoughts, therefore, are a bit random and not worth twisting into a review, so I won’t.
What better place to meet George A Romero, writer/director of the original Dawn Of The Dead, than in a shopping mall?
Yup, it’s Collectormania time again. This morning, I made the trip to Milton Keynes’ trendily named thecentre:mk – lower-case, of course – in the hope that I’d beat the weekend rush (the ‘mania’ of the event’s title).
And, hey, what d’ya know? Everything seemed to be proceeding at a leisurely pace. All the guests had open queues – there were no virtual tickets – so I met everyone I wanted to within 45 minutes of arriving, securing four signed and dedicated 8x10s and some snaps for the ‘family’ album.
I’m not one to lie in bed all day, but I reckon risin’ and shinin’ at 6.30am on Saturday is pretty courageous.
Yesterday’s heroic streak was inspired by a mini Planet Of The Apes fest-type convention thing at Memorabilia, the twice-yearly movie/TV/sport collectors’ fair held at the NEC in Birmingham. I had a 7.52am train to catch, to arrive at the venue around 11am.
Say the word ‘fanzine’ to a lot of people and they probably think of a few sheets of A5 held together with attitude and, if you’re lucky, a couple of staples. Which is why I’m hesitant about describing Simian Scrolls as such.
For the uninitiated, Scrolls is an expertly tended, 44-page, A4 publication, put together by Planet Of The Apes fans for Planet Of The Apes fans, that you really need to see if you’ve anything more than a passing interest in this classic series of movies and the short-lived TV show. It’s clearly a labour of love for its editors and contributors – its articles, interviews and reviews have real thought and care poured into them, and its enthusiasm and passion for its subject is infectious. I started reading around issue four, and have watched it grow over the years into a magazine that Apes fandom can be proud of.
I saw X-Men – The Last Stand on Saturday. As usual, it was freezing in the (Vue) auditorium, the air-conditioning blasting away throughout. At least, being an early screening, the audience was quiet and respectful – if you make it out to a cinema before lunchtime, chances are you’re interested in actually seeing a film.
I didn’t know much about this second X-Men sequel, other than the fact that Bryan Singer’s not involved and it’s been getting middling reviews, which I can understand because, while the film packs just as much visual wallop as X2, it’s not as satisfying.
Some plot points that beg further exploration/explanation are neglected or glossed over, while in one instance a subtle reversal of roles is made explicit by one of the characters commenting on it in a clunky manner, lessening its impact. Magneto’s band of mutants are characterised, for the most part, as a stereotypically grimy street gang, and Vinnie Jones jars as Juggernaut – a role that will, I imagine, provide much mirth for his critics in years to come.
“No one would have believed, in the last years of the 19th century, that human affairs were being watched from the timeless worlds of space…”
As a kid, I often heard these words, spoken by actor Richard Burton, rattling out of the speaker of a mono tape recorder in my bedroom. The cassette it was playing was an orange-labelled BASF C120. For the full, immersive experience, I’d go downstairs and play it on my dad’s music centre, which had a lovely rich sound and plenty of bass, and clamp a pair of chunky brown headphones to my ears. It was manna from Mars.