Did Gender Alter the Tone of the ‘Alien’ Series: Narrative Implications of Femininity.

Film & TV, Opinion July 24, 2016

Originally published for Bitch Flicks’ June 2016 theme of “Ladies of the 1980s” and still available in full (28/06/16).

When Ridley Scott cast Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) in Alien, he created The First: The First Action Heroine; The First Female in a Science Fiction Film That Did Not Have To Be Rescued or Was Not Brunch for a Swamp Monster. Such titles may as well be monikers attached to her name. Ripley was important, and still is, her legacy living on in many an action heroine that followed: Buffy (the Vampire Slayer), The Bride (Kill Bill), G.I Jane, Trinity (The Matrix), Furiosa (Mad Max: Fury Road) and Sarah Connor’s transformation in Terminator 2.

It is science fiction fact however, that Ellen Ripley should not have been “Ellen Ripley” at all. Dan O’Bannon’s original script for Alien stated: “The crew is unisex and all parts are interchangeable for men and women.”  In the climate of the time, it is wholly plausible that Ripley was intended to be a male, as despite the script’s stated gender ambiguity, the original name for the character was still “Martin Roby.” So far so standard for horror and sci-fi, for the genres had always been male-dominated whether it be characters on-screen or in literature or those who create them. After all, it was not until the New Wave of sci-fi that women began to truly stake their claim on the genre, birthing feminist science fiction and writers such as Margaret Atwood, Joanna Russ, Marge Piercy, Ursula K. LeGuin and the singular entity that is Octavia Butler — C.L. Moore and Leigh Brackett being exceptions in the “Golden Age,” and Brackett went on to contribute to the screenplay of The Empire Strikes Back.

O’Bannon once stated that:

“I don’t see it as that revolutionary to cast a female as the lead in an action picture,” said O’Bannon. “It didn’t boggle me then, and it doesn’t boggle me now. My conception from scratch was that this would be a co-ed crew. I thought there was no reason you had to adhere to the convention of the all-male crew anymore. 

After all, Star Trek had already had a mixed gender crew for years, and Ridley Scott had a similar reaction when the prospect of making the character female was pitched to him (“I just said, ‘That’s a good idea.”’).

Read the rest of the article on Bitch Flicks!

or

Read my previous Bitch Flicks post: “Why Black Widow is the “Realest” Superheroine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Yes, Even After All Those Tropes)”!

THE REVENANT

Film & TV, Latest Reviews June 27, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (20/06/16).

Leonardo DiCaprio embarks on a quest for survival through harsh terrain in this artfully vengeful Oscar-winning masterpiece. ★★★★★

When a film begins to trailer a good two months prior to its release date, the viewer is left to assume one of two things; The First: that said film has a really big budget to recoup or – Second: that this film is being plugged, shamelessly, for Oscar season. Occasionally, both are true and, even less often, they actually turn out to be worth the hype.

From the first viewing of the tense, adrenaline fuelled trailer, it was apparent that The Revenant was one such film (it cost $135 million), and as seems to be perquisite these days, we are treated to approximately 90% of the plot in the promo alone. Native American attacks, bear mailings and live burials are no spoiler. Set in hostile US territory circa 1823 and based on real life events, The Revenant follows the tale of intrepid explorer Hugh Glass (Leonardo DiCaprio) and the events following his being severely injured during the aforementioned bear attack. The remaining members of the pelt-hunting crew drag him along for as far as they dare before Captain Andrew Henry (Domhnall Gleeson) and co push onwards for help, leaving Glass with his son Hawk (Forrest Goodluck), naive youth Jim Bridger (Will Poulter) and poacher John Fitzgerald (Tom Hardy), whose outlook is as harsh and unrelenting as the terrain.

We all know what happens next, thanks to that over-revealing trailer; Fitzgerald thinks it kinder to snuff Glass and be gone, much to the distress of Hawk, who Fitzgerald murders whilst Glass looks on and buries him in a shallow grave. It’s quick, shocking and tense, and it is the start of our intrepid chase across the wilderness. For a film that is nigh on two and a half hours long, director Alejandro G. Iñárritu – he of Birdman (2014) fame, for which he won multiple Academy Awards in 2015 – creates a pace and ambience that drives the inhabitants of this world onwards in a quest to escape the peril and solitude. It is a testament to DiCaprio’s earnest performance as Glass that, despite being the sole entity onscreen for the majority of the film, he conveys more emotion via his eyes and body language than many an actor struggles to do with their voice. He (and the rest of the cast and crew, for that matter) is certainly put through the ringer; clambering in and out of frozen rivers, sleeping in animal carcasses, chowing down on raw bison liver (DiCaprio is vegetarian) and the constant threat of hypothermia were no doubt contributory factors that saw the actor finally being awarded an Oscar for Best Actor.

Continue reading at Post-Modern Sleaze.

Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “Battle Of The Bastards” (Season 6 Episode 9)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne June 27, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (21/06/16).

BRR! BRR! You know the drill: spoiler time once again, and a couple of biggies this episode. Some bigger than Drogon.

Going against this season’s tradition of starting every episode up t’North, we find ourselves in Meereen which, at the end of the last episode, was being firebombed by the Master’s fleet of ships. Understandably, Daenerys (Emilia Clarke) is not impressed; sure it’s been a while since she was spirited away, but it was barely any time in the grand scheme of things. It even served her well, as she acquired an army of Dothraki (read: every tribe) in the process. Tyrion (Peter Dinklage) actually looks sheepish as he answers to his queen on the how’s and why’s of the city being bombarded. Together with Grey Worm (Jacob Anderson) and Missandei (Nathalie Emmanuel), the pair state their claims: that the Masters broke their agreement with Tyrion and, in attacking Meereen, they are being treacherous. Daenerys frees Rhaegal and Viserion from their prison – the pair are noticeably smaller than Drogon – and together the three destroy the Master’s army (all, somehow, without burning their fleet of ships. Convenient, right?).

Read the full post here!

Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “No-One” (Season 6 Episode 8)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne June 27, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (15/06/16).

Spoiler-bound, but no fear! This was a (relatively) quiet episode.

This week is Arya’s week, which I’m rather glad about. Her entire story has been on the back burner since last season, when she arrived in Braavos and opted to spend her days being bashed with sticks. So far this season, she has learnt some valuable lessons, such as not victimising others for personal gain, humility and perseverance. She definitely missed the memo on obedience, but this is Arya Stark. We have always loved the rebel in her.

Read the rest of the post here!

Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “The Broken Man” (Season 6 Episode 7)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne June 27, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (10/06/16).

Spoiler spoiler everywhere, be wise or you’ll be in for a scare!

What’s that coming over the hill, chop-chop-chopping wood as he goes? It’s not… can it be… The Hound!? It’s a bold first shot for this week’s episode (can you believe that we’re on week seven already!? Where is the time going?), but depending on how much of a social media denizen you are, you may or may not have already seen some compromising theories pertaining to such over the peat week or two. I’ll link the Cleganebowl theory HERE should you be as much of a speculative and nosy and self-spoiling obsessive as I.

Read the rest of the post!

Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – ‘Blood Of My Blood’ (Season 6 Episode 6)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne June 7, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (06/06/16).

Spoilers if you are lagging behind: beware. Or if you’ve given up on a spoiler-free existence, come right on through!

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Why Black Widow Is the “Realest” Superheroine of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (Yes, Even After All Those Tropes)

Film & TV, Opinion May 27, 2016

Originally published for Bitch Flicks’ May 2016 theme of “Superheroines” and still available in full (26/05/16).

Black Widow: the original female Avenger. Actually, up until recently, she was the only female Avenger. Scarlett Johansson had her work cut out in carrying the unspoken burden of representing women everywhere in one of the highest profile, highest-grossing franchises to ever exist onscreen.

To date, her character has only ever been written by and directed by men. It is apparent that the linchpins of the Marvel Cinematic Universe are very male skewed, with the only woman currently having contributed to screenplays being Guardians of the Galaxy’s Nicole Perlman, who is returning for Captain Marvel alongside recent recruit Meg LeFauve. Perlman herself stated that writing Captain Marvel has been a far more stressful project than Guardians of the Galaxy ever was, and that she and LeFauve will catch themselves saying:

“‘Wait a minute, what are we saying [here] about women in power?’ Then we have to say, ‘Why are we getting so hung up on that? We should just tell the best story and build the best character.’”

As nice – and preferable – as that would be, it simply is not possible currently. Every woman onscreen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU) is a minority compared to the sheer amount of male characters and therefore automatically complicit in representing every woman, everywhere, all at once.

Read the piece in full over at Bitch Flicks!

Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “The Door” (Season 6 Episode 5)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne May 26, 2016

Originally published on Post-Modern Sleaze (26/05/16).

OK, so, you know when you usually get told that this review is ‘MAJOR SPOILER’? Well this one is M.A.J.O.R  S.P.O.I.L.E.R! Please take heed and watch episode 6 before reading this; any damage done here is irreparable.

As so above. If you were situated on the wrong side of the Atlantic come Monday morning, then the Internet was a dangerous place to be, especially social media, and especially Twitter. There’s only so many times you can see the hashtag #HoldTheDoor before you clutch your face, delete your apps and put your phone on aeroplane mode, but alas, this is what we are dealing with here. It’s one of those ones.

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Watch The Throne: Game Of Thrones – “Book Of The Stranger” (Season 6 Episode 4)

Film & TV, Latest Reviews, Watch The Throne May 26, 2016

Originally published on Post-Modern Sleaze (17/05/16).

As is always, MAJOR SPOILER! If you’ve yet to watch, take heed; it’s a goodun (you’ll need a cuppa after this one).

After years of misfortune and misery, it seems dear Sansa (Sophie Turner) is on a stroke of luck. After escaping Ramsay Bolton’s clutches by jumping from Winterfell with Theon/Reek and being found by Brienne (Gwendoline Christie) and Pod, she has now been delivered (finally) to one of the remaining members of her family after 239751 false starts. Seeing Sansa and Jon set eyes on each other for the first time since Season 1 Episode 2 (yes, really) is surprisingly emotional; she’s all grown up whilst he is dead-undead. If the laws of nature were paramount, then their reunion would never have happened and we would have false-start-part-239752 on our hands – but alas, thankfully, they are not, and deservedly so; that poor girls needs a break.

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CAPTAIN AMERICA: CIVIL WAR

Film & TV, Latest Reviews May 26, 2016

Originally published and still available on Post-Modern Sleaze (13/05/16).

The third Captain America instalment sees The Avengers confront international politics, their moral ethos – and each other. ★★★★☆

Come 2016 and one would presume that the world would be completely Marvelled out. It’s been eight years since Iron Man, the first instalment of in the Marvel Cinematic Universe, and since then we have been met with a barrage of establishing films (Thor, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America: The First Avenger and the aforementioned Iron Man and its sequel), secondary progression (Iron Man 3, Thor: The Dark World, Captain America: The Winter Soldier, Guardians of the Galaxy, culminating with Ant-Man) and the upscaled, end-of-the-world menageries also known as The Avengers and Age Of Ultron.

At a quick count, that’s 12 films in seven years. That’s an unprecedented amount for a wider integrated franchise. That’s a lot for any series. Luckily – for viewers and the company alike – Marvel are savvy to the worldwide superhero fatigue, and in entering “Phase 3 ” they are looking to deconstruct the alliance that they took so long to painfully establish. As such, Captain America: Civil War immediately takes a different tone to all of the aforementioned films. There is no hypothetical “big bad” in the conventional sense, and for the most part it is a refreshing departure that pays off, and in the lack of a full-scale “big bad” assault, all of the Avengers’ pent-up energy is spent inflicting it on each other.

It is the last of these fate-of-the-world initiatives that sparks the main dilemma: following their triumph (or consequential travesty, depending on whether or not you were situated on or under the floating town of Sokovia) in Age Of Ultron and after the full-throttle opening sequence in Africa results in a large amount of collateral damage, the United Nations intend to clamp down on the superhero team thanks to their disregard for accidental civilian death. They are presented with the Sokovia Accords whereby, in complying, the Avengers would only be legally allowed to act should a UN panel vote in favour of action.

It is ironic, with their main initiative being to save the world and everyone in it etc, but nevertheless, from the human perspective, who would want a bunch of strange super-able vigilantes acting as they see fit and claiming it to be in the benefit of the human world? Who is to say if, or when, those superheroes would turn on those they intend to help? Why should they get to wreak untold havoc in their quest to aid the world, without any regard for the consequences?

Continue reading over at Post-Modern Sleaze.