The Pacific Rim Trailer Will Make You Squeal

 

Hooooolyyyy… so, where do I start with this one? I needed a sit down and a cigarette after watching it, and I don’t even smoke. Yep, it’s the new Pacific Rim trailer, and Guillermo Del Toro’s latest is looking, quite frankly, breathtaking.

 

GDT has come a long, long way from his roots, telling creepy, atmospheric ghost stories in Mexico. This trailer positions Pacific Rim as THE blockbuster to check out this summer, above all else. Do I need to explain why? Just in case you haven’t watched the trailer (in which case, WHY HAVEN’T YOU WATCHED THE TRAILER?), it’s giant robots fighting giant Cthulhoid creatures from the ocean. After that, there’s really not much to say on this trailer, but what more needs to be said? It doesn’t really show you anything, apart from a few dimly-lit glimpses here and there, but it teases you with just enough to let you know what you’re in store for. That’s the genius of it. It’s as perfect a trailer as you could wish to see. It’s a triumph of show, don’t tell. You see the world in ruins. You see giant monsters. You see robots fighting the giant monsters. There’s the plot. There’s the action. What more could you want?

 

What’s that? You want to see the robots using giant oil tankers as weapons? Well, for those of you with that horrifyingly specific niche interest… just watch the trailer.

 

I need to sit down again.

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Your Mum Won’t Get It: Why Bioshock Infinite Cements its Place As A True Work of Art

So, on Monday’s edition of The Highlight Reel, I departed slightly from my usual subject matter and talked about the evolution of video games as an art form, and how they stack up against other art forms such as film, using the recently released Bioshock: Infinite as an example. In this article, I’ll be going into a little bit more depth about some of the key themes in this game, and why I believe it’s so important for the industry. Unfortunately, I can’t really expand upon the points I made Monday without going into spoilers head first, so this is your first and last spoiler warning: do not read this unless you have completed Bioshock: Infinite.

Hah, like anyone takes notice of spoiler warnings anyway.

Video games, first and foremost, need to be fun interactive experiences, in the same manner that toys or puzzles are, but the difficulty comes when games are forced to reconcile that interactive investment with an engaging and thought-provoking story or setting over a 10 plus hour period of time. Very few manage to combine these two elements effectively, so we’re left with games like Mario and Call of Duty, which are fun, but which are basically a series of challenging puzzles with little artistic significance, or Metal Gear Solid, which so desperately wants to be arty and deep, but doesn’t know how to be, so you’re left watching hours of cutscenes in between gameplay segments. While what qualifies as art is, by definition, entirely subjective, in my opinion you can never truly say an art form is deserving of that label until it is capable of deconstructing and toying with the common tropes and clichés that are unique to the foundations of the medium. When a medium can attain this kind of depth, then I would argue it is capable of producing true art, though not necessarily great art. No, great art can only be labelled as such when people are capable of completely missing the point.

I feel both of these definitions are appropriate when discussing Bioshock: Infinite, because I feel they both apply to one of the most obvious themes in the game: violence. At its core, Bioshock: Infinite is a story about violence. It is central to virtually every character in the game, just as it is central to human history itself. One of the most common criticisms of the game is that it is simply too violent, to the point where the excessive, brutal gore used is actively detracting from the message the game tries to send. I can certainly see that point of view, since the game regularly sees you mangling scores of people with what is essentially a blunt circular saw, you set them on fire, you electrocute them, you blow them up with rockets, you pop their heads like they’re made out of some hellish genetic melon-beef hybrid material, and so on. However, as gruesome as it gets, I fail to see how it takes away from the cerebral nature of the story. Your character, Booker DeWitt, is a veteran of Wounded Knee, and it’s revealed in audio logs scattered throughout the game (a brilliant method of storytelling unique to gaming that effectively fleshes out the setting and characters over a period of hours) that Booker was a particularly sadistic participant in that atrocity. He feels guilt for his actions now, but in searching for his redemption he only finds more violence. Violence which, as the player, you get to enjoy, much in the same way that Booker apparently enjoyed slaughtering women and children at Wounded Knee.

It’s not the first time video games have taken that oldest of gaming tropes, mass murder, and deconstructed it to make a point to the player. 2012’s Spec Ops: The Line remains the finest example of a game depicting standard shoot-em-up gameplay as something a little darker, after the infamous level which sees you controlling a drone using a thermal camera and raining down white phosphorous rounds on enemy forces, much in the same way that Call of Duty sees you doing in every damn game. You target a bunch of small white blobs, and press a button until there are no white blobs anymore. Easy peasy. Satisfying, too. It then entices you with a massive collection of white blobs, cowering from your mighty rampage. So, you drop a round on them without a moments’ thought, only to later discover that most of those little white dots were civilians, innocent women and children who you burned to death. It’s a shining example of how the interactivity of games can impart the feeling of being punched in the gut, and it’s something that just wouldn’t be the same in films. You can sympathise with a character in a film, but you can’t be them. You can’t get inside their heads. People are horrible, violent, animalistic creatures at times, and gaming lets us show it and revel in it. Games like Spec Ops and Infinite let you revel in it, but then cause you to look in the mirror afterwards. But hey, it’s still fun, right?

One other criticism thrown the way of Infinite is regarding its depiction of religion. Religion bad, Bioshock say. Downtrodden minorities good. Well, no, not really. To take such a simplistic view of things is to do a massive disservice to the subtly woven narrative. Having taken a somewhat broader view of the game so far in this article, with a look at how the game uses violence in terms of the gameplay, it’s now time for me to give a little background before delving into the plot. The year is 1912, and Booker is called to a mysterious lighthouse with instructions to “bring us the girl, and wipe away the debt”. The girl in question is Elizabeth, held in the floating city of Columbia (held in the air by quantum mechanics, as explained in the game, the city does not ‘float’ per se, rather it fails to fall), a majestic exercise in American exceptionalism that is ruled by the “prophet” Zachary Comstock, a religious, white supremacist zealot who uses his “visions” of the future to rule over the people and comfortably quash the poorly-equipped rebellions that break out.  Elizabeth is purportedly Comstock’s daughter, conceived in just 7 days, and, Comstock has warned the people of Booker’s plans to take her away. Now, here’s where things get a little complex. Elizabeth can ‘tear’ reality and step across into an alternate dimension, of which there are an infinite number under quantum theory (for every choice you make, an alternate reality is created where you made the opposite choice). The big twist at the end is (spoilers!) Elizabeth is actually Booker’s daughter, and Booker is Comstock from one of those alternate realities.

ALSO SPOILERS: France is made of purple.

Yes, it all gets a bit David Lynch towards the end, and, what I’m finally getting round to, after all this technobabble and plot-splurging is something resembling the point; evil is evil, no matter what hat it wears, and religion (or rebellion, for that matter) does not on its own merits alter that fact. You, the player, had that darkness in you all along, you just didn’t know it. Booker, crippled with drink, debt and guilt, sold his daughter to Comstock (an alternate version of himself) to pay off that debt. Unable to live with that guilt, Booker went to be baptised as a last-ditch attempt to be cleansed. In one universe, he rejected the baptism, deciding nothing could forgive the things he’d done, and was found by the Lutece twins (parallel versions of the same scientist who invented the quantum technology in the first place, only to be murdered by Comstock and scattered across the probability space) who were out to fix what they’d started. In another universe, Booker accepted the baptism but, instead of being ‘cleansed’, he was reborn as Comstock, a man who was still violent in nature, but instead of feeling guilt for his actions, now chose to justify them by using them to fuel his religious idealism. Religion in and of itself is not portrayed as evil in Infinite and, by the same token, those who are oppressed by religion are not depicted as good. Indeed, when the player steps into another universe in which the resistance forces are better equipped, they are just as brutal and bloodthirsty as Comstock ever was, and become the enemies which the player must fight through. However, religion in and of itself is not portrayed as good, either. Evil will out itself, and whatever cause it is done in the name of is irrelevant.

The end of the story comes some time after Comstock is killed by Booker, when it is revealed that there are still an infinite number of Comstocks in an infinite number of universes, meaning Booker will always be brought in to battle him and the loop will never end. Elizabeth promises to take Booker to where Comstock was born to end the loop at the root, and thus takes him to his baptism and drowns him before he can ever become Comstock in the first place. Crucially, at several points in the game the player is offered choices about what action to take through the narrative. This is a common trope in videogames: it offers the player the chance to put their own personal mark on a story, but is ultimately still relatively meaningless. You still play through the story to its scripted conclusion, in effect making it the illusion of choice and nothing more. Indeed, the previous two Bioshock games utilised this tactic, offering the player ‘good’ and ‘bad’ endings. Infinite’s choices, however, never have any impact on the narrative, and there is only one ending, which plays out in exactly the same way, no matter which choices you make during the game. The choices are intentionally meaningless, so when that curtain is pulled back and even the illusion of choice is stripped away, it makes the moment all the more poignant. It is fate – but then, it was always fate, because you are playing a scripted game and the ending was always written, just as it was always written for Booker. Booker finally pays the price for his sins, past and present, and, in doing so, closes the loop and prevents the events of the game from ever taking place. In return for this, Booker gets true redemption: a second chance, and a genuine rebirth, back home, with his daughter who he never gives away as Comstock could never exist in order to take her. What becomes of Booker afterwards, still heavily in debt and still racked with guilt, is another matter entirely.

But hey, anything’s better than this, right? Right?

Playing through Bioshock: Infinite was quite a revelatory experience for me, and it really caused me to think about the nature of free will vs fate, the human condition, and a whole bunch of other stuff I couldn’t fit into this already lengthy article. In my mind, anything that can do that deserves to be experienced even if it won’t always be enjoyed. Maybe you’ll hate it. Maybe you loved it, and just think I completely missed the point myself with my reading. Maybe you just hate this game stuff, hated reading this article and want me to go back to reviewing crappy b-movies. The important thing is you cared enough to feel something. Anything. And in the end, isn’t that what art should do?

Do let me know your thoughts in the comment box below. Or don’t. In another universe you already have, so it doesn’t really matter.

Brand new Monsters University trailer: your sides should be terrified

So, the brand new Monsters University trailer is out, and it shows us there’s plenty to be excited about with Pixar’s latest. Not least, the reveal of Nathan Fillion as a jock, but  more importantly (while it’s hard to fully tell from a trailer) it looks like Pixar’s knack for creating hilarious visual gags with impeccable comic timing is as strong as ever. Even though it’s a prequel, it looks very different to anything Pixar has ever done, using youth and frat house movie parodies to great effect. If it works half as well as Pixar’s ribbing of prison breakout movie conventions did in Toy Story 3, we’re in for a treat.

A Kick In The Bolls

Oh, boy. I’d better be careful with this one. Because, you see, I’m an online critic who is about to discuss the work of Uwe Boll. And, as I discuss on Monday’s edition of The Highlight Reel, Uwe doesn’t exactly look kindly upon that sort of thing. This is the guy who once famously challenged his five harshest critics to a series of boxing matches, which is a feat about as insane and admirable as his career spent plugging away despite a sea of criticism (including a 350,000-plus strong petition to get him to stop making movies altogether).

I spent much of that feature talking about the practiced eccentricity of a man who is almost certainly much, much more intelligent than he lets anyone believe. I’m fairly certain he’s aware of his reputation, and spins his public image in order to attain maximum notoriety. If you can’t be the best director, might as well make a living off being the worst. It might not be artistically better, but I’m sure financially it’s much better for you than being a bog standard director who’s simply alright at his job. Think of an average film. Go on. The most sort-of-ok-ish film you can think of. Can you name the director? Probably not, and that’s a fate worse than (creative) death in showbiz. His career is sort of like when you get stuck on Grand Theft Auto, so you just decide to blow all your money on rocket launchers and go on a rampage just for the hell of it. It’s not really the point of the exercise, but it’s certainly a hell of a ride.

Might as well start near the beginning, and what better starting point that 2003’s House of the Dead. Now, I’m sure you’re well aware of the House of the Dead video game series. It’s one of those lightgun games that you’ve probably seen gathering dust in the corner of your local multiplex, and, as you might expect from a game that has you furiously mashing the trigger on a lump of bright pink plastic, it doesn’t have much in the way of a story. Of course, Uwe never let that stop him from hurling it onto the screen like a kid throwing soggy toilet roll onto the bathroom ceiling. This movie is probably one of the finest examples of Bollism, because, as a sort of genesis for his terrible video game adaptations, it gives birth to all the archetypes that make his movies so entertaining. Gratuitous, unnecessary slow-mo? Check. Bewilderingly stupid characters? Check. Inane dialogue (“You created it all to be immortal! Why?” one character asks of a mad scientist. “So I could live forever!” is the snappy response)? Check, check, checkity-check. Laughably directed action scenes, sudden random sex scenes, hamfisted melodrama, constant ripping off of The Matrix like every crappy action film in the early 2000s and deliriously outdated European house/crap metal soundtrack? All checks.

Basically, you need to see this movie. Need to. It’s like an episode of Garth Marenghi’s Darkplace, only somehow less competent than the fictional show that was specifically made to look terrible. The plot is something of a puzzle. It’s practically non-existent – a bunch of teenagers go to party on some deserted island, but shock horror, it’s actually not deserted and inhabited by zombies who eat them all – but at the same time has nothing to do with the original games. Why even bother to come up with your own crappy non-story when the non-story of the games would have been quicker and easier? Why even call it House of the Dead at all? It’s kind of like dividing by zero. Take a game with no plot, and tack the name onto a film which also has no plot, but is somehow about something completely different and… wait, why is my nose bleeding?

There’s really nothing more to say about that film, but it’s probably the finest example of absolutely nothing you’re ever likely to see and is an absolute riot. As with most Boll movies, the appeal lies in his unnatural ability to execute the most mundane of cinematic tropes with such staggering incompetence that it’s actually sort of admirable. Never was that more apparent in 2006’s staggeringly derivative In The Name of the King, which managed to turn an average swords and sorcery ‘epic’ into something quite different with some inspired casting. Sorry, did I say inspired? I meant shit. Jason Statham as a downtrodden farmer (called Farmer, obviously)… okay, I can just about buy that. Burt Reynolds as King? Hmm, well, now you’re pushing it. Hey, that’s not really that bad at all, it’s not like he cast Ray Liotta as a sorcerer, is it…? Oh. Oh no.

Also Matthew Lillard shows up as a warlord, but I don’t want to talk about that. Really. Why are you making me talk about that?

The whole thing is basically some pitiable attempt to cash in on Return of the King, and once again makes zero attempt to tie into the game it was based on, Dungeon Siege. In the movie, The Stath is out to avenge his dead son and abducted wife from the army of TOTALLY NOT ORCS FROM LORD OF THE RINGS known as Krugs, and in the end he gets made king for some reason. Oh yeah, spoilers. This one is much less entertaining than House of the Dead, as it at least has something resembling production values, and while Uwe still has no idea how to construct a story he appeared to have graduated from the complete clownshoes direction of his earlier work, into merely a really, really bad director. However, the real reason to watch this movie is for the morbid appeal of the mass career suicide that takes place. Statham, Liotta, and Reynolds are all joined by the like of Ron Perlman, John Rhys-Davies and Terence Kelly in the pantheon of good actors who spend the movie pottering around, silently comforting themselves that at least the money is good. As with all the Boll canon, though, the real star of this movie is the DVD commentary, during which time Boll rambles like a madman, takes phone calls, and, in a truly inspiring touch, gets bored and leaves 15 minutes before the end of the film. That alone is worth the price of admission, even if the film isn’t one of his best. I mean worst. Whatever.

For the sake of my own sanity, I can only stomach one more film. But which one to choose? So many of them have so many delights, but, since I talked a little about Alone In The Dark on The Highlight Reel, I’ll refrain from doing that one (though it’s probably my personal favourite Boll movie, purely because Tara Reid is cast as a scientist). No, the third and final vintage Boll movie that we’ll be looking at is one of his sequels, and one which, surprisingly, has something to do with the game on which it is based. That might give the game away somewhat: I’m referring of course to Bloodrayne: The Third Reich, the third in the Bloodrayne ‘saga’ (you have to airquote the word ‘saga’ when using it in the context of an Uwe Boll movie under the trade descriptions act), and the only one in the series which sees the titular vampire fighting Nazis, just as she does in the (terrible) video game series of the same name.

This film is very much a return to form after several mind-numbingly average efforts, such as Stoic and Rampage, which, while bad, were just plain bad and not the special Uwe Boll brand of bad that we’ve come to know and love over the years. Now, this film is, I’m assuming, the result of years of pent-up frustration – as he explicitly and frequently reveals in most of his commentaries – with actresses who refuse to constantly get topless in his movies. Rayne certainly makes up for lost time in this one. The plot is pretty much secondary to everything else that goes on, there’s something about a mad scientist, played by Boll stalwart Clint Howard, trying to use vampire blood to create SuperHitler or something, but it never amounts to much and the hilarious way that it resolves itself shows it was never intended to (let’s just say the phrase ‘ass-kicking’ is taken much more literally than it was ever intended). Rayne gets horizontal A LOT in the movie. Like, literally every 15 minutes or so. It’s so gratuitous and so frequent that it’s pretty much the only thing you can talk about with this film, as very little else of note actually happens. When it does, it’s the traditional Boll fare of horrible dialogue (“fucking Nazis”, Rayne groans nonchalantly), laughably constructed action scenes with no impact whatsoever (something he actually started to improve on prior to this film), and ridiculous plot contrivances, most notably that Rayne’s hideout is literally across the street from the Nazi base. It’s deliriously stupid the whole way through, but thankfully rarely boring, and in a lot of ways reminds me of the 70s exploitation cinema, right down to the use of highly camp mad science and the fact that nobody in the movie so much as attempts a German accent.

And there you have it. Your perfect introduction into the quite literally insane world of Uwe Boll. I highly recommend you give his work a try, particularly the ones listed here. I’m not going to guarantee you anything, except for one thing; you will not be bored. And really, that’s actually more than you can say for 90% of filmmakers these days. That’s sort of brilliant, isn’t it?

Leave Sequels Alone!

Funny things, sequels. Not ha ha funny, of course (particularly if that sequel is The Hangover Part II), but funny in terms of the seemingly contradictory nature of the audience reaction. Nine times out of ten, if you ask someone fresh out of the screen after seeing a sequel, their exact reaction will be “ehh, it was alright. But it wasn’t as good as the first one.”

That’s a pretty understandable viewpoint to take. Inspiration is very much a one time thing, and returning to something that was inspired two or three more times often leads to severely diminishing returns. So why do people keep going? Why do we have so much faith in sequels to keep shoving cash down their trousers if we know it’s just going to compare negatively to another film? Well, the answer is pretty simple: because a sequel can be a fun standalone experience when you stop obsessively comparing it to past glories. Of course, this is in the internet age, where everyone’s a critic, and everyone thinks their opinion matters (you fools, don’t you know the only opinion that matters is mine?), so actually-sort-of-alright sequels are twisted into horrible hate crimes against humanity by the practiced malice of folk on the internet (yes, I mean you specifically. YOU). Thus sequels, which initially provoke, at worst, a feeling of indifference when you leave the screen, soon snowball downhill into abominations against cinema, with the amount of time spent on the internet being directly proportional to how many times you say the film in question raped your childhood. With that in mind, allow me to list the top 3 sequels that don’t deserve anywhere near the amount of hate that they get. If you disagree with me, feel free to explain why in the comments, but bear in mind while doing so that you are completely wrong.

The first sequel I will be acting as defence counsel for is The Lost World: Jurassic Park. I alluded to this on Monday’s edition of The Highlight Reel, but I actually think this is a damn fine monster movie. Is it as good as the first one? No, but what could be? If you take the film as a standalone experience, there’s a lot to love here. While a lot of the characters (returning Jeff Goldblum and Richard Attenborough aside) are intensely annoying, that only makes it all the more enjoyable when the real stars of this movie, the dinosaurs, start picking them off. The film does what every good sequel should, which is to take the core concept of dinosaurs running amok and go nuts with it, packing more dinosaurs and more hectic action scenes in that you can shake a claw at. Sure, it lacks a lot of the jaw-on-the-floor moments of the original, but so many of the scenes are perfectly poised monster movie fare – the survivors running through the long grass and being slowly picked off by raptors, the hunt of a stampede of dinosaurs, led by the magnetic Pete Postlethwaite, and of course, the outstanding climax which sees a T-Rex rampaging through downtown San Diego. While it could never be as inspired as the original, it’s far from boring and is in fact a pretty damn good effort, and far better than any sequel to Jurassic Park has any right to be.

“San Diego, which of course in German means ‘a T-Rex’s vagina.'”

Taking up number two on the list is actually two films, because shut up it’s my blog and I make the rules. And, I have to admit, I’m being a little hypocritical here because I have, in the past, stated that this particular franchise hasn’t been good since the second film during a review of a recent video game. That game was Aliens: Colonial Marines, and the two sequels are, of course Alien 3 (or Alien³ as literally nobody calls it) and Alien Resurrection. Now, these movies arguably suffered even more than The Lost World did in terms of audience hype leading to a messy downfall, because they were sequels to a sequel. And not just any sequel, they had to follow Aliens, one of the most successful sequels of all time, and one of the few generally agreed to actually surpass the original movie. Alien 3 and Alien Resurrection were so reviled that even their own creators (Alien 3 director David Fincher and Resurrection scribe Joss Whedon) have publicly apologised for and poked fun at their contributions to the Alien canon. “A lot of people hated Alien 3. But no one hated it more than I did.” Said Fincher. Meanwhile, Whedon said of his effort; “it wasn’t so much that they changed the script, it’s that they just executed it in such a ghastly fashion as to render it almost unwatchable.”

And, I mean, watching those films, are they that bad? Really? They deserve a place on this list not because they’re particularly good (although Alien 3 is decent and Alien Resurrection has Ron Perlman in full badass mode) but just because… well, they’re not that offensive. Did anyone really watch either of those films and bust a blood vessel that their beloved franchise was taking a special Hollywood stiff one, until people on the internet started telling them to? Alien Resurrection was comfortably the worst one, but “unwatchable”? I think not. Sure, it had horrendously stupid characters and it was entirely unnecessary, but it had its moments. Mostly featuring Ron Perlman, of course, but they were there. Perhaps they’ve aged well when compared to what would follow them in the franchise, but while neither is essential viewing, they’re hardly offensive when compared to… well… you know.

Never has a tagline been so unknowingly apt.

It’s almost time to wrap this up, but before I do, I have one more bone to pick with you. Yes, you, the moviegoer who’s reading this blog. I’m just going to come out and say it: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is a great film. There, I said it. Not just good, either. I said great, and I mean it. Given the massive outpouring of vitriol this movie has faced since its release in 2008, it’s a statistical certainly that you are one of the many who spit on the floor at the mere mention of the film. And I have to ask: why? What, about this film, is so bad, so shocking, so offensively awful, that makes it an unworthy successor to the original trilogy? Is it the fridge thing? It probably is. That’s the scene most people point to when furiously masturbating to the thought of beheading George Lucas for what he did to their childhood favourites. Honestly though, who cares? Does anybody remember the original trilogy? I sure do, in fact they’re three of my favourite films of all time. Nobody loves those films more than me. They were gloriously silly love letters to the adventure serials of the 30s, and featured Indy finding the Ark of the Covenant (which will melt your face clean off and make your head explode, natch), surviving a 10,000ft drop out of a plane by inflating a rubber dinghy and sliding down a mountain, racing Thuggees along a physics-defying minecart track, finding the freaking Holy Grail at the end of an invisible bridge and plenty more besides, and while that’s all cool, apparently we’re just drawing the line at fridges and aliens. Sorry, if you accept all the goofy shenanigans of the original trilogy, you don’t get to pick apart every single hitch in the new one just because you want something to complain about. That’s called hypocrisy. If you never liked Indy, fair enough, but to say this movie betrayed the legacy of the original trilogy is provably wrong.

Did I mention the guy who pulls people’s hearts out of their chests then sets them on fire? Because I feel like I should mention him.

The aliens were another bone of contention that I never quite got. While the old Indy films were supposed to pay homage to the 30s adventure serials, this one was set in the 50s, so naturally it instead paid homage to the sci-fi b-movies of the time. That makes sense to me. It’s a different era for both the filmmakers and the characters, and the film changed in setting and tone to reflect that. And anyway, the films are all about an adventure to find a higher power. There’s a telling scene between Indy and Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) where the two are searching a cave for treasure (which is classic Indy, by the way), and they come across drawings of the aliens. “God’s head does not look like that!” Mutt protests. “Depends on who your God is.” Is Indy’s curt response.

I just think when you’re looking at silly action movies, you’ve got to be consistent. You can’t nitpick every little detail of Crystal Skull while stating similarly silly goings-on in the originals are fair game, and as such I never really saw quite what Crystal Skull did to attract such bile from audiences. Of course it was never going to live up to the originals, as I mentioned earlier, an inspired creation is hard enough to attempt to recreate at the best of times, never mind over two decades after the fact.

Look at this. Look at it. Now move on. This is therapy.

Just remember, while many sequels are indeed cynical cash-grabs (be careful saying that bit while drunk), not all of them deserve to be lumped into the same smelly, overcrowded boat. Don’t be so protective over your beloved franchises, and try to judge things on their own merits. Part of loving is understanding, and this applies to film as much as it does anything else. Your blood pressure will thank you, if it were a tangible object with thought and feelings that is.

The Hangover Part II still sucks though.