SPECIAL ANNOUNCEMENT: Alex Sigsworth joins The Well-Red Mage

You may have noticed I’ve been somewhat absent recently, and now I can reveal why. Over these past few days, I’ve been preparing for my debut at The Well-Red Mage, the community-run independent webzine posting primarily about video games. My first post will be published in the foreseeable future. I will be joining a wide selection of contributors. Come by for analysis of entertainment media and insightful engagement with art, which will hopefully save modern journalism.

“But some day you will be old enough to start reading fairy tales again.”

“Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2” VFX supervisor interviewed by Rotoscopers

Directed by James Gunn

Recently, Rotoscopers‘ Angelo Thomas interviewed Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s Visual Effects Supervisor Chris Towsend. The interview revealed how some of Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2‘s visual effects were created, and can be read here.

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 is the 3rd film in Phase Three and has been playing in the United States since 5th May 2017.

Star Trek Beyond (from Letterboxd)

The USS Enterprise crew explores the furthest reaches of uncharted space, where they encounter a mysterious new enemy who puts them and everything the Federation stands for to the test.

(Source)

Star Trek Beyond
Screenplay by Simon Pegg and Doug Jung
2.35 : 1 aspect ratio

Star Trek Beyond is a film based on the Star Trek television series, which was first broadcast on 8th September 1966. Star Trek Beyond was released in Star Trek’s 50th anniversary year, which was celebrated with the announcement of a new series in the Star Trek universe, Star Trek: Discovery, a prequel to Star Trek. The significance of 1966 within the i franchise is referenced with Cpt. Kirk’s log acknowledgement that Star Trek Beyond begins on the 966th day of the 5 year mission.
Star Trek ran for 3 seasons, with 2 animated seasons, bringing the 5 year mission to a successful completion. Star Trek Beyond is set toward the end of the 1st year of that 5 year mission, putting Star Trek Beyond firmly in the time-frame of Star Trek’s 1st season, which began all those years ago in 1966. Cpt. Kirk acknowledges that events are beginning to feel “episodic”; and Star Trek Beyond is definitely more like an extended Star Trek episode.
Following the political thriller of Star Trek Into Darkness, Star Trek Beyond returns to formula – but this should not be mistaken for being unimaginative. Long-time Star Trek fan Simon Pegg makes his first screenwriting contribution to the Star Trek universe (no surprise that Pegg’s character, Lt. Cmnd. Scott gets more screen-time and much more dialogue), and takes the approach of establishing that Star Trek Beyond is very much the traditional Star Trek known to the television series’ audience, before dividing and pairing characters in order to examine how the bridge crew work as separate components, before putting them back together again. Pegg realises that Star Trek Beyond only needs so much plot; if three major things happen, the events between those points can be focused on character study.

That’s why the logical Cmdr. Spock is paired with his opposite, the rational Lt. Cmdr. McCoy – putting these antitheses together will only lead to synthesis. The same is true for the pairing of Cpt. Kirk and Ens. Chekov – the highest-ranking bridge officer with the lowest-ranking bridge officer, and their father-son/mentor-student relationship. These characters’ mere presence with one-another creates a narrative fusion by default, and the characters become individual from story.
The aim is to lend appreciation to the Star Trek bridge crew by taking them apart and re-establishing them. Thus, the conventional three-act structure of equilibrium – establishment, disruption and reestablishment – is inherent to the subject and approach. The first act works because we know who these characters are, the second act is better because these characters are now being amplified and combined, and the third act is even better still because the crew now feels larger and more complex, both as an integral crew and as a collection of fractional people. However, this is still part of a greater theme of togetherness and unity.
Antagonist Cpt. Edison is opposed to the United Federation of Planets for what Cpt. Edison perceives as treachery; Cpt. Edison served in the former Military Assault Command Operations, which fought the species now united with Humanity. Believing that Earth needs liberating and restoring to a greater former state, Cpt. Edison intends to destroy the United Federation of Planets in order to regain Earth’s independence. This being a deliberate analogy to Britain’s relationship in Europe, and relations with Germany, is probably not the case given how long before the announcement of the Brexit Referendum Star Trek Beyond began development.

But Star Trek has always been a marker for its time by creating a future reflecting the present. In the year of numerous shootings in places of sexual liberation, the character of Lt. Sulu – originally portrayed by sexual rights activist George Takei – has been given a spouse. Star Trek’s core ideal is the strength in unity – the bridge crew consists of an American, a Brit, a female of African descent, an Asian and a Russian.
These are all demographics that would have never worked-together – the American War of Independence against Britain, the black civil rights movement, the Cold War and the Hiroshima and Nagasaki bombings. If Star Trek is constructed on contemporary politics, then 2016’s events should be as much of an influence as 1966. In Star Trek Beyond, that is still the case.
The details are different, but the gaps that need filling are still present. If anything, Star Trek’s 50th anniversary has shown us that we still have a way to go.

Doctor Strange to link with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2?

“Doctor Strange” follows the story of neurosurgeon Doctor Stephen Strange who, after a horrific car accident, discovers the hidden world of magic and alternate dimensions.

Emily Gaudette at Inverse has speculated that Doctor Strange will open a gateway for the Guardians of the Galaxy in Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2. Gaudette’s theory begins with Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 concept art released in Empire being described by Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 director James Gunn as a “multi-dimensional” being. Following yesterday’s news that Doctor Strange‘s villain is allegedly the multi-dimensional Dormammu, Gaudette has connected that the Guardians of the Galaxy will be able to access multiple dimensions with assistance from Strange. Strange and the Guardians of the Galaxy have never crossed-paths in the Marvel Comics Universe.

Doctor Strange opens 20th – 22nd October 2016 in New Zealand, starring Benedict Cumberbatch as Strange. Strange first appeared in Strange Tales (1951) #110 and will next appear in Doctor Strange (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016. Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 opens 28th – 30th April 2017 in the United Kingdom, starring Chris Pratt as Quill, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Dave Bautista as Drax, Vin Diesel as Groot, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Pom Klementieff as Mantis, Michael Rooker as Yondu and Karen Gillan as Nebula. Quill first appeared in Thanos (2003) #8 and will next appear in Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016. Gamora first appeared in Strange Tales (1973) #185 and will next appear in Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016. Drax first appeared in Iron Man (1968) #55 and will next appear in Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016. Groot first appeared in Anihilation: Conquest – Star Lord (2007) #1 and will next appear in Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016. Rocket first appeared in Marvel Previews Vol 1 #7 and will next appear in Rocket Raccoon and Groot (2016) #8 and Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016. Mantis first appeared in Avengers (1963) #112 and will next appear in Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016. Yondu first appeared in Star-Lord (2015) #1. Nebula first appeared in Avengers (1953) #257. The Guardians of the Galaxy first appeared in Annihilation: Conquest (2006) #7 and will next appear in Guardians of the Galaxy (2015) #11 on 31st August 2016.

What not to tweet if you’re a Hollywood screenwriter

“I feel like England is making really terrible political decisions out of solidarity”

In my return to this blog (having finally confronted the real reason for leaving in the first place), I want to return to the subject that interests me the most – screenwriting; not a noble profession in any way, but a source of entertainment and enlightenment nonetheless. Being a screenwriter gives a person the ability to write the script for – if you’re Alex Chandon or Paul ShrimptonInbred; if you’re Steve KlovesHarry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2; and if you’re Max LandisVictor Frankenstein. The art of storytelling has become a commercial industry, and consequently, those that manage to establish themselves as a part of that profession earn themselves a position of admiration and respect from those that want to follow in their footsteps. Public image is now more important for screenwriters than ever before, with the paid job now being increasingly less hidden from the public.

Which brings us back to Landis: writer of ChronicleAmerican UltraVictor FrankensteinMe him Her and Mr. Right, and the first screenwriter trying to establish themself online without also being a director, producer or actor. Recently, the marketing campaign behind films based on Landis’ screenplays have been exclusively on Landis’ Twitter feed (unprofessionally named @Uptomyknees), which is where the majority of information Landis chooses to share about screenwriting can be found.

So engaging in political debate about the public vote in another sovereign state in another continent without really understanding the important details is definitely a bad move.

About an hour after BBC News revealed that the majority of votes in the United Kingdom’s European Union membership referendum had been cast in favour of Leave, Landis had this to say:

The inaccuracies in this tweet are difficult to overstate. Firstly, Landis refers to “England” as a synechdoche for the United Kingdom, despite England being only one of the four constituent countries within that union. While the majority of England residents voted Leave, the majority of Scotland and Northern Ireland residents voted remain. England’s decision was only matched by Wales. So either Landis is focusing on England’s majority but ignoring that same majority in Wales, or is just making unresearched assumptions about the political structure of a sovereign state comprised of four constituent countries, in the same way as assuming Alaska speaks for all America. Thus, it stands to reason that, if a person doesn’t understand the political structure of a sovereign state, that person probably shouldn’t judge the decisions that sovereign state’s majority makes – especially when that political structure is a factor in that decision, which was the case here: Scotland’s majority voted to Remain in the hopes of a further referendum leading to Scotland as an independent state that remains a European Union member. Not understanding that complex issue disqualifies anyone from condemning a political choice made in a sovereign state they don’t fully understand. And Landis definitely doesn’t understand the United Kingdom, as this next tweet shows:

Since 2010, the British Prime Minister has been David Cameron, Leader of the Conservative and Unionist Party. In the referendum campaign, Cameron supported Britain Stronger in Europe, as did Damian Green, Conservative MP for Ashford. However, Vote Leave was supported by: Michael Gove, Conservative MP for Surrey Heath; Steve Baker, Conservative MP for Wycombe; Iain Duncan Smith, Conservative MP for Chingford and Woodford Green; Liam Fox, Conservative MP for North Somerset, Chris Grayling, Conservative MP for Epsom and Ewell; Boris Johnson, Conservative MP for Uxbridge and South Ruislip; Andrea Leadsom, Conservative MP for South Northamptonshire; Priti Patel, Conservative MP for Witham; Theresa Villiers, Conservative MP for Chipping Barnet; John Wittingdale, Conservative MP for Maldon; Bernard Jenkin, Conservative MP for Harwich and North Essex; Anne-Marie Trevelyan, Conservative MP for Berwick-upon-Tweed and Owen Patterson, Conservative MP for North Shropshire. Noticing a pattern yet? Cameron’s own party was so divided over the matter, that Cameron had already announced the intention to resign were Leave to be the majority. Cameron ultimately announcing his resignation on BBC News wasn’t really news to anyone in the United Kingdom. The expectation was, that had Remain been the majority, the Conservative MPs supporting Leave would’ve been replaced, so Cameron’s resignation with a Leave majority makes perfect sense – because he himself needs replacing. Cameron claimed that the United Kingdom needs strong leadership during this transitional period – the only reason the referendum happened is because there wasn’t a majority in the House of Commons. Which means, Cameron needed to gauge public opinion and act based on that. Therefore, Cameron’s resignation following a Leave majority was a known condition from the beginning. United Kingdom residents would know this, because we’ve been following it. Therefore, to claim that Cameron resigned because the majority disagreed with him is making assumptions about the outcome without being aware of the context (which United Kingdom residents were). The British people voted with the knowledge that one of the two outcomes would result in Cameron’s resignation – something which has escaped Landis’ attention. Plus, one of Cameron’s main policies as Prime Minister was to preserve the United Kingdom, and opposed independence or British republicanism. But failing to persuade the majority of voters to support leave also triggered another Scottish independence referendum and the possible reunion of Ireland as a single state. As a result of the Brexit, many commentators have already been calling Cameron one of the United Kingdom’s least successful Prime Minsters. Cameron’s resignation wasn’t a spur-of-the-moment decision, but Landis isn’t aware of that.

Secondly: another thing this statement ignores is the resignation of Alex Salmond as Scotland’s First Minister. Salmond’s campaign was lead by the intention to hold a referendum on Scotland’s membership of the United Kingdom – when the majority voted Remain, there was no point in Salmond continuing as Scottish First Minister. Cameron’s resignation as Prime Minister is the equivalent of that. When Ed Milliband wasn’t voted Prime Minister in the latest General Election, Milliband resigned as Labour Leader. When Nick Clegg wasn’t voted Prime Minister, Clegg resigned as Liberal Democrat Leader. When Nigel Farage wasn’t voted Prime Minister, Farage resigned as Independence Leader. Political figures resigning a post because they lost a vote isn’t uncommon, at least not in the United Kingdom. Had Cameron not resigned, there’d have been a backlash against Cameron remaining despite the referendum showing that the majority were against him. Need I remind Landis of the only American President to resign, Richard M. Nixon?

Thirdly – and this is by far the worst – Landis refers to the Prime Minister as “‘president'”. Now, the reason for this isn’t entirely clear, but none of them are good. Were Landis implying that the United Kingdom is a smaller offshoot of the United States, that’s just a perpetration of a foreign policy between the two governments that not everyone supports. Another possibility is that “‘president'” is to say “That is, Britain’s equivalent of America’s president”. But there’s already a term for that: Prime Minister. It’s not just the United Kingdom that has one. To say Landis is a writer, Landis doesn’t seem to have the best words (not unlike you-know-who). In actuality, putting a word in quote marks (“/”) implies that, while the subject is officially called that, the writer doesn’t think that it is in practice. What Landis is basically saying is, “He’s not really the British President”. Yeah, no shit.

And then there’s this, which Landis felt compelled to retweet:

This is something else which is infuriating. What Landis has done is see one extract of one British news programme from a channel that he otherwise wouldn’t have seen, and has used that to justify all his previous misfounded assumptions. As though Landis thought, “Well, it’s on the news, so it validates what I think”. What Landis didn’t see was… anything else. Any other news programme from other broadcasters interviewing different people about different angles. Landis isn’t even a British citizen, but feels inclined to claim British media to reinforce his own cultural ignorance. Like how Fox News only represents some of America, not all of it. Storytellers are supposed to understand people, but how Landis has managed to be successful in this industry is something I can’t understand about him.

Bastard.

The Handmaid’s Tale coming to Hulu from Bruce Miller

The Handmaid’s Tale
Showrunner: Bruce Miller

Deadline is reporting that Hulu have ordered The Handmaid’s Tale as straight-to-series season of ten episodes. Based on the novel by Margaret Atwood (who’ll be executive producing), the premiere teleplay was written by Ilene Chaiken, who joined Empire as Showrunner before The Handmail’s Tale was commissioned. Bruce Miller has been brought-aboard to fill the role. Production is expect to being later this year.

The Handmaid's Tale streams on Hulu 2017

Jack Ryan novels to be adapted for Amazon Prime Instant Video

Jack Ryan
Showrunner: Carlton Cuse

Deadline is reporting that Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan novels are to be adapted as a series for Amazon Prime Instant Video with Carlton Cuse attached as Showrunner. The report claims Jack Ryan has been ordered straight-to-series with no pilot, and will not be Jack Ryan’s origin story; instead, Jack Ryan will begin with Jack Ryan already working as a Central Intelligence Agent. No green-light has been officially given, but the casting of John Krasinski of Arrested Development season four (Showrunners: Mitchell Hurwitz and Jim Vallely) and BoJack Horseman (Showrunner: Raphael Bob-Waksberg) is understood to be the deal-breaker. Rather than directly adapting the Jack Ryan novels, Jack Ryan is instead a series starring the character in original adventures, but is expected to feature a Jack Ryan who is yet to experience the novels.

Jack Ryan is streaming on Netflix 2017.