Warm out today, warm yesterday – blisters on me fingers

milkHmm, seems summer has come to an end. Well, it’s no longer over 30 degrees anyway. Twas a good heatwave, the length of which this country hasn’t seen in quite some time.

To pay tribute to the crazy climate, I’ve compiled my favourite cinematic moments linked to heat. Mix yourself a mohito, sit back, read and enjoy.

  • Death of Captain Kaneda
    The impressive and arguably underrated Danny Boyle/Alex Garland collaboration, Sunshine (2007). Astronauts on a mission to save the sun. The Captain sacrificing his life to fix the ship’s shields was a powerful, emotional scene.
  • Dr Manhattan is born
    Alan Moore’s graphic novel Watchmen was expertly brought to life by Zack Synder in 2009. In this scene character Jon Osterman – played by Billy Crudup – gets incinerated in a nuclear accident, then reforms as the godlike Dr Manhattan.
  • I hate you! Anakin burns
    Whilst I’m not a massive fan of the prequels, this climactic scene in Revenge of the Sith (2005) is actually brilliant and tonally closest to the originals. McGregor finally loosens up and Christensen as Anakin shows a glimmer of emotion.
  • Evey is reborn
    In another Alan Moore adaptation V for Vendetta (2005), Evey – played by Natalie Portman – is reborn after V tortures her. Her rebirth is intercut with clips of V’s rebirth from the fire, thus binding them closer as characters. Great scene.
  • May I have a glass of water?
    Beatrix Kiddo: dusty, hot, tired, just clawed her way out of a coffin where she was buried alive; walks into a diner and politely asks for some water. Western music powerfully scoring the scene in Tarantino’s Kill Bill Vol II (2005).
  • Milk was a bad choice!
    Thinking his beloved dog Baxter dead, Ron Burgundy in Anchorman (2004) – unshaven and dishevelled – mourns him; wandering the streets on a hot day drinking milk from the carton.  Pure comedy gold.
  • Are you going to tell my daddy?
    So it’s not all burning to death and drama, I thought I’d sex things up with a scene from Swimming Pool (2003), a fairly low-key French-British film starring Charles Dance, Charlotte Rampling and the delectable Ludivine Sagnier.

To finish, here’s a (quite badly filmed) clip of Family Guy. Stewie and the Cowtones playing ‘My fat baby loves to eat’. When the sun comes out, there’s nothing quite like the dulcet tones of a banjo to while the day away.

Dammit Christensen, you ruined Star Wars!

You know how these days Google predicts search terms as you type based on searches others have made? The reason I mention this is the other night Star Wars: Attack of the Clones was on TV. I found myself watching despite the fact that disappointment lurked around the corner.

I am, of course, talking about Hayden Christensen. Now this film was released in 2002 and I cannot believe that, despite the amount of time passing, Christensen’s performance still bothers me. Enough to motivate me to write this piece at least.

Straight after the film I fired up my laptop and began to type ‘Hayden Christensen c…’ and you know what Google predicts? (Get your minds out the gutter for a second.) As soon as you hit the last ‘c’ it gives you, ‘can’t act’, ‘career over’ and ‘criticism’. Seems I’m not alone in my assessment of his performance.

Lukesaberanh

Star Wars – the original trilogy – was massive, huge, so influential it became ingrained in modern culture and it’s stood the test of time and remained popular from the first film in the late ’70s to the present day. The world George Lucas created was captivating… the Force, the Jedi, the Sith – all of it so richly drawn out but – and this is a big but – above all, it was human.

The characters he created were human ones, they were flawed, they struggled and fought and loved and lost. For example: Luke to understand where he came from and what his power was; Leia, in part, the same; Han to get his rocks off with Leia and prove to himself he wasn’t as selfish as he first came across. And so on.

That is why if you’re going to do a bunch of new films it’s essential you cast Anakin Skywalker as well as you possibly can. All the background about separatists, the republic, the senate, political power plays – that’s all it is, background. These films have always been about the Jedi and the Force and the whole story arc (in this case) revolves around Anakin and his journey from light to dark. It’s what we all want to see and have paid our bucks for – everything else is window dressing, to a degree.

Anakin

So why couldn’t he deliver?

Now I know it’s easy to condemn and hard to create but honestly, how did Hayden Christensen get the part? He had been in precious little before Star Wars and his career after has been sparse to say the least. I know some say these films are career killers; for example in the Family Guy version Peter Griffin (playing Han Solo) introduces himself by saying ‘I’m Captain of the Millennium Falcon and the only actor whose career isn’t killed by this movie’.

I suppose this was more true of the original trilogy than these modern prequels, established actors like Ewan Mcgregor and Liam Neeson all fared well post-Star Wars, but then they didn’t have the heavy burden of being the lead. They propped him up as best they could, but it wasn’t enough. Not nearly enough.

Just to put things in perspective: I didn’t buy the way Christensen attempted to portray inner conflict as he wrestled between the two sides of the Force; I felt his delivery of dialogue was stilted and forced; I felt he lacked chemistry with Natalie Portman’s character; I didn’t like his stupid haircut; I didn’t like the fact that a number of his scenes had a homoerotic undercurrent, he had more chemistry with Ewan Mcgregor’s Obi-Wan for Christ’s sake.

To be serious for a second, one of the few scenes in which he actually convinced was his final battle with Kinobe on the river of lava. Much closer tonally to the original films… dark, brooding, dramatic and intense. In that respect maybe their bromance helped, ‘I loved you Anakin!’ (Ahem, like a brother.)

Who else?

It would be fascinating (or infuriating) to know which up-and-coming actors auditioned for the role at the time and were rejected. Given Attack of the Clones came out in 2002 guys breaking out then included: Jack Gyllenhaal (Donnie Darko, 2001), James Franco (Spider-man, 2002), Christian Bale (American Psycho, 2000) and Ryan Phillippe (Way of the Gun, 2000).

Christian Bale wasn’t right as he was probably too old and just doesn’t seem the right fit, however there’s a few scenes in American Psycho that make you think maybe he could have done something pretty interesting with the role. Ryan Phillippe is similar in appearance to Christensen and showed great inner conflict in Way of the Gun with a surprising level of emotional depth. (Incidentally, it’s a great film and worth a watch if you get the chance.)

Then there’s Jake Gyllenhaal. He would have been a brave albeit unconventional fit – his creepy and tormented downward spiral in Donnie Darko showed he could have handled the character’s journey from light to dark. And James Franco may have been an interesting choice too, as he’s since showed in his career he likes to take on alternative types of roles, such as 127 Hours and Spring Breakers.

attackoftheclonesbdcap8_original

In a galaxy far, far away

Anyway, none of this matters. We’re stuck with Christensen as Anakin – so as a rule of thumb, if you’re bored one day and fancy a Star Wars fix, one that has classic scenes, tension, dread, adventure, joy and wonder – stick with the originals. If you want glossy CGI action aimed at kids, Jar Jar sodding Binks refusing to shut up and Samuel L. Jackson flashing his purple light sabre around the place, go with the modern prequels.

But then, if you’re reading this blog you’re most likely film fans (you clever lot) and know this already. In fact, maybe I’m just taking this all too seriously and had better go watch the Family Guy version to lighten up. May the farce be with you.

PS Read my review of Star Wars: The Force Awakens here.
http://mikeysfilmreviews.com/2015/12/22/star-wars-the-force-awakens-review/