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Non-Review Review: The Hunt

The Hunt could never live up to the controversy.

After all, The Hunt was a film that attracted a considerable deal of attention. The basic premise of the movie finds a number of “deplorables” kidnapped and taken to a secret location, where wealthy liberals hunt them for sport. This premise attracted the attention of Fox News back in August. From there, it attracted the attention of the President of the United States. Donald Trump tweeted angrily about The Hunt, and within a day it was pulled from the release calendar.

The Hunt arrives in cinemas cresting that wave of controversy. The trailer for the new release date openly acknowledges the controversy and leans into it, encouraging prospective audience members to “decide for [themselves]” about it. So The Hunt arrives as an object of curiosity and fascination. Unfortunately, none of that feels earned. Indeed, it looks like the most remarkable thing about the shift in release dates was that it allowed The Hunt to avoid a direct class with the similar-but-superior “elites riff on The Most Dangerous Game” film Ready or Not.

The Hunt goes looking for controversy, but comes home empty handed.

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My 12 for ’12: Prometheus, Faith, Treachery & The Great Beyond…

I’m counting down my top twelve films of the year between now and January, starting at #12 and heading to #1. I expect the list to be a little bit predictable, a little bit surprising, a little bit of everything. All films released in the UK and Ireland in 2012 qualify. Sound off below, and let me know if I’m on the money, or if I’m completely off the radar. And let me know your own picks or recommendations.

This is #5

In the year 7510,
If God’s a-comin’, he ought to make it by then.
Maybe he’ll look around himself and say,
“Guess it’s time for the Judgement Day.” 

In the year 8510,
God’s gonna shake his mighty head.
He’ll either say “I’m pleased where man has been”,
Or tear it down and start again.

-Zager and Evans, In The Year 2525

Faith is a funny thing. If you don’t have it, it’s impossible to explain. If you do have it, it needs no explanation. Ridley Scott’s Prometheus feels a little bit ham-strung by the Alien DNA” that it carries. As a prequel to the iconic film series, it’s hardly the most successful endeavour. Indeed, the film’s references to everybody’s favourite chest-bursting extra-terrestrial feel almost forced. Like the discussion about the Scientology influence on The Master, focusing on the instantly recognisable xenomorph tends to obscure the unique strengths of Prometheus as its own film.

Interestingly, the strongest connection to Alien is thematic rather than literal. Like Ridley Scott’s first science-fiction masterpiece, Prometheus postulates a cold and uncaring universe, one that is inherently alien, incomprehensible and hostile. The human condition causes us to question, but Prometheus suggests that there can be no answers – no satisfactory answers at least.

prometheus16

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Prometheus Unbound: Sir Peter Weyland Speaks…

I am looking forward to Prometheus, as are most film geeks out there. Ridley Scott is returning to the shared fictional universe he created with the original Alien to tell an incredibly ambitious science-fiction epic, with a tremendous cast and a huge budget. We don’t know much about it at the moment, and that’s not a bad thing. I’m always a sucker for a clever piece of viral marketing, and this video appeared on-line today. it wasn’t leaked to film sites or geek news. It was published on TED.com, an on-line forum for “ideas worth spreading”, where today’s real-world luminaries share their thoughts on the problems of the day. Sir Peter Weyland, one half of the fictional mega-corporation Weyland-Yutani, has provided us with his own talk, from the year 2023.

Directed by Luke Scott and written by Damon Lindelof, this is a light piece, featuring Guy Pierce and some CGI. However, it very shrewdly does several things. It explains and contextualises the title, even if it wasn’t too much to guess that hubris and ambition would play a major role in a science-fiction film named for the guy who stole fire from the gods. It gives us a glimpse of the film’s universe, and provides connective tissue, explaining how we got from today to the gigantic futuristic universe. It even ties itself to Lawrence of Arabia, no mean feat.

It’s well worth a gander.

And here’s Sir Peter’s official biography, for those looking for a bit more context:

Sir Peter Weyland was born in Mumbai, India at the turn of the Millennium. The progeny of two brilliant parents; His mother, an Oxford Educated Professor of Comparative Mythology, his father, a self-taught software Engineer, it was clear from an early age that Sir Peter’s capabilities would only be eclipsed by his ambition to realize them. By the age of fourteen, he had already registered a dozen patents in a wide range of fields from biotech to robotics, but it would be his dynamic breakthroughs in generating synthetic atmosphere above the polar ice cap that gained him worldwide recognition and spawned an empire.

In less than a decade, Weyland Corporation became a worldwide leader in emerging technologies and launched the first privatized industrial mission to leave the planet Earth. “There are other worlds than this one,” Sir Peter boldly declared, “And if there is no air to breathe, we will simply have to make it.”

When it Hits the Fan: What Do Creators Owe Fans?

Fans are a very dangerous group to court – although I suppose that’s implied, what with the word being an abbreviation of “fanatic”. Sure, they’ll follow a particular project with zeal and enthusiasm that most producers could only dream of, and (perhaps) prove an invaluable marketing tool in this era of the viral campaign – at the very least, they are more likely to invest a lot more money in your product than a regular consumer. However, that investment comes with a downside – one that I wonder how much creators ultimately end up resenting. To call it “demand” perhaps understates the matter – after all, plenty of non-fanatic movie fans wait for the big blockbusters of the year – but there tends to be a note of what is best described as “possessiveness” or “entitlement” that comes with a large invested fan group. And is that necessarily a good thing? Do these fans feel that these creators “owe” them something for their extended loyalty? Is it fair to demand that from any producer or writer or director?

Heated fan disagreements sometimes get out of hand...

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Ultimate Wolverine vs. Hulk

I’m on a bit of a Wolverine binge at the moment. I got the quite enjoyable Old Man Logan last week and am slowly working my way through the Wolverine Omnibus at the moment. I would have picked up Enemy of the State if it had a nice hardback version. But such is life. I figured I’d dip my toes into Marvel’s Ultimate line. Basically a shrewd marketing decision to launch all their titles from scratch – the hope being that the line could attract readers alienated by decades of continuity in mainstream comics. The experiment was a bit of a mixed success – Ultimate Spider-Man might be the most successful interpretation of the web-slinger this decade, but Ultimate X-Men left a lot to be desired. However, this continuity-free playground offered Marvel a chance to do two things: invite big-name film and television writers to handle their properties (such as allowing Lost scribe Brian K. Vaughan and Heroes writer Aron E. Coleite to work on Ultimate X-Men), but also to shameless release miniseries to capitalise on their big screen projects. Released between the big screen adaptations of The Incredible Hulk and X-Men Origins: Wolverine and featuring the work of Star Trek co-writer Damon Lindelof, this series attempts to do both. Does it succeed?

It's a game of two halves...

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