Saturday, 22 September 2007

Ain’t looking good for Britain…

Ever since the dawn of time (e.g, 1900), film-makers have been fascinated with the future and what lies ahead for mankind. Some seem to have pinned the metaphorical tail straight on the donkey of time, with Metropolis (1925) predicting the rise of momentous monorails and everyday flying machines; through to The Matrix (1999) who predicted our love of little blue pills. Boing.

Some of the more unforgettable science fiction movies have been created by our own British novelists: Mary Shelly, Victor Hugo, and John Wyndham. Not forgetting George Orwell and H G Wells; the very creators of British sci-fi, who are still churning out Hollywood hits such as War of The Worlds and Animal Farm. Maybe these two film giants should not be placed on the same scale, but WoTW will hopefully soon discover their mistake of believing weeds are so much cooler than pigs. Have they ever been to Yorkshire?

Let’s focus on H G Wells, a personal favourite of mine. Having read The Time Machine, and seen the movie (not counting the more recent one, but who honestly does?), anyone can see they jazzed up the original though-provoking book into an action-packed testicle fest with daring rescue missions, cannibal scenes and lava pits. I enjoyed both versions of the story, but I still wonder why they turned a cowardly scientist (let’s call him Shaggy), into a hunky liberator for the future, (let’s call him Alex). It’s quite creepy to think that even though this film was created in 1960, they added the threat of nuclear war, during the year of 1966. This kind of plot isn’t unheard of; A Clockwork Orange, 1984 and Brave New World are but a few more examples of Britain’s grim future, yet they’re all set in our past.

As I mentioned before, WoTW has become a huge hit over the last few years thanks to great actors, effects, music and directed by the legendary sci-fi guy himself; Spielberg. Although many changes were made, one of the more major ones was to shift the location from London to New York. They’re similar I guess, in that they’re both in charge, the people are large and not much else. What I really liked about the original WoTW, was the fact that I could share the protagonist’s journey through Britain and recognise certain accents or landmarks I’ve seen myself. Well that, and the hilariously appalling crash scene at the finale. Wanna know what really exterminated the alien menace? Morgan Freeman and his penguin horde.

Speaking of hordes, America has had more than it’s fair share of apocalypses. They can keep their fancy Terminators, and we’ll stick to our Triffids, thanks very much. A handful of futuristic American dystopias such as I, Robot and A Scanner Darkly are the brainchildren of writer Philip K. Dick. Although they are staged and located around the US, they all seem to stem from the typical British sci-fi themes: corrupt government, hallucinogenic drugs and the use of needless and new technologies. Sounds like a day at the races for the States, but still has it’s roots buried in the little Empire that is the United Kingdom. I should probably stop digging on at them so much, as without their superior budgets and resources, superstar films such as Blade Runner, Logan’s Run and The Running Man would never have been created! And where would that leave us? Very unfit I guess….

Another gruesome end that Britain may inevitably face thanks to cinema is the threat of zombies, and all the merriment that surrounds them. 28 Days Later was perhaps the most profound British zombie movie, causing quite a stir in horror-circles for containing themes that remained unused until now. The zombies are quite alive in this film, but having ingested the Rage virus, they are drawn into a blood-thirsty and ultraviolent unconsciousness, where memories and reasonable thought are lost completely. To be true, it’s not the first appearance of such a style, but never has it been applied so delicately. Even the director, Danny Boyle identified “John Wyndham's The Day of the Triffids as the original inspiration for the story”. Cillian Murphy and Christopher Eccleston, both renowned British actors, are to be found amongst the credits, playing their roles superbly and realistically. With the introduction of 28 Weeks Later, and the planned 28 Months Later (2009), one cannot feel disappointed at the film industry for failing to realise once again, LEAVE THE FRIGGING SEQUALS OUT OF IT.

One of the most recent British classics and, in my eyes, one of the greatest but disturbing dystopias ever created for our tiny island. Children of Men blew me away when I first saw it, and not because of the amazing action towards the end, or the stylistic directing, or the brilliant acting on all accounts. It was the scarily realistic plot that won it over on me. The idea that all immigrants were to be placed in a Nazi-themed concentration camp, and treated like an inferior species until they rose up and took on the country by force, scared the shit out of me, as I could see it happening before my own eyes. It really felt as if we were heading for such a bleak future, where all over superpowers have fallen to war or poverty, teenagers violently rule the streets and racism is rife once again. It’s hard not to see the similarities between this future and a past that we encounted only a few decades ago. This is a must-see for anyone that I know, and that I don’t, and I can guarantee that if you aren’t worried about this possibility, then you’re in the wrong country mate.

Soon to be heading our way is an American style “last man on earth” wasteland movie, starring New York (peopleless) and Will Smith (topless). The idea branches from earlier movies on this genre, but with the twist that he’s not alone in the city, and that diseased mutants are hiding and waiting to unleash an ugly and brutal revenge. To be honest, I’m pretty excited about I Am Legend, and although I could be wrong about this film, I’d still like to go see. There are also tales of a similar tale coming out in 2009 aptly named Doomsday, written and directed by Neil Marshall, starring Malcolm McDowell, who excellently played Alex in A Clockwork Orange 40 years earlier. If this kind of story really interests you so, give Stephen King’s Novel The Stand a checkout, a long story of fear and hope in a post-apocalyptic America, fuelled by religion and warfare. Definitely one to keep away from the kids…

And so, I put it to all you out there, that we British have a great knack for a certain genre; the post-apocalyptic, fascist governed, drug controlled, zombie ridden, deceptive dystopias that we so love. And to think I was worried about the lack of llama farms…

5 comments:

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
UnionJackson said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Anonymous said...

It's a good right up! :D

weezer_kid said...

sci-fi?
high five!

UnionJackson said...

you mean sci-five! :P