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The "it's the end of the year and we're still here" Blog

You know what?

I’m really embarrassed because I haven’t blogged a personal blog for such a long time. The personal blogs were supposed to be the main backbone of this site, with a few features and reviews along the way. And I’ve let it slide.

It’s not as if the blogs are a chore in any way, I actually find writing them to be theraputic and pretty relaxing. This is where I randomly talk about just...anything and everything that catches my interest or raises my hackles or catches me square on the funny bone. Often they’re a stream of consciousness type of thing. (and it’s disturbing what goes on in my consciousness, let me tell you)

Anyway, I need to get back to doing this.

So, as we look toward the dawn of a new year, one of my resolutions is to get back in the whole personal blogging thing. There are going to more regular blogs in 2013. You may not agree with their content, but you are all invited to comment and discuss on the site’s Facebook page right here. If it’s been a while since you saw a blog, review or feature and you think I’m being negligent or tardy, then I wholeheartedly invite you to tell me so.

So, here we go................

....and incidentally there goes 2012. I observed a countdown on December 21, 11:11 GMT and was pretty pleased that the world didn’t end. Not that I believed it would - but I’d had a blast a couple of months earlier watching several "end of the world" movies as research for a Starburst magazine article which I’d pitched, entitled "Apocalypse Maybe". So, no meteors, no magnetic core anomalies, the sun didn’t come hurtling toward us, the plants didn’t take umbrage. It was all business as usual and the world went on. Some of our more learned scholars believe that the Mayan prophesy was pointing to the end of a cycle and the beginning of another. So let’s celebrate we’re still here and show a little hope and optimism for the future. Mind you, I guess that one bunch who won’t be celebrating are the makers of 2012. Fine movie, great effects but nothing makes a film redundant quicker than having a specific date in the title. That date passes and the title looks just silly. (Example, we did NOT have a Space Odyssey in 2001 and as magnificent a film as it is, it’s hard to sell as "futuristic" now in 2012 (well, 2012 as I write this, 2013 when most of you’ll read it).

Sadly 2012 kind of ended on a sad note for me with the news that Gerry Anderson had passed away. His TV productions of the 1960s were a colossal part of my formative years, watching them on the old black and white TV was a huge influence on my outlook and stirred my imagination. Watching his programmes like Fireball XL5 and Stingray was, in all probability my first exposure to science fiction in any form. I had definitely seen XL5 before I ever saw Lost In Space in the mid sixties. I still remember that I had a pretty vivid nightmare after watching XL5 at the age of five. I can’t remember the episode, but I remember that dream.

Stingray was cool and here’s a tidbit of trivia, was the first ever British made series to be filmed in colour. Colour broadcasting wasn’t in existence in the UK at the time, but Anderson had his eye on the American market. But his following series changed everything. From the first moment I saw the opening and heard the militaristic theme, my childhood revolved around Thunderbirds as much as it revolved around Batman that same year!

Imagine being a none too popular kid at school (you know, the one who sucked at sports and was always the last to be picked for teams - and even then after heated arguments between the captains on the level of "but we had him LAST time") and coming home to an hour-long epic adventure fraught with danger, intrigue and some dazzling special effects. Anderson brought Hollywood production values to a TV show shown in the kids’ slot. Not that Anderson was producing kids TV - like Disney, Anderson had his eye on the family audience.

Captain Scarlet was a head turner - a show where the hero was horribly killed in the line of duty every single week and then resurrected. How marvellously twisted is THAT?

I have to admit, I didn’t care for Joe 90, but the first of his live action series UFO was a late night treat in the early seventies, shown in my region in the 11:00 slot on Friday nights. As for Space:1999 - hmmm.....Well, that came and went and the moon is still up there, but I applaud the audacity in having the moon as a vehicle to travel through space.

Yep, those were the days when shows aimed at kids were imaginative and classy and didn’t pander to the lowest possible intelligence. We had action, adventure, solid storytelling and not a boy band in sight.

Here’s a shot of a Thunderbirds VHS sleeve from the early nineties, hand signed by Gerry Anderson which I have on display in the study, with thanks to my good friend and brother from another mother Whitney Bain who got it for me a few years ago.

Thunderbirds VHS sleeve signed by Gerry Anderson

Films of the year - I love doing these. Here’s my list of the films I’ve enjoyed most over the past year. Where the title is a link, it takes you to Amazon where you can find out more and maybe even purchase. If you do, then a small portion of the money gets passed back to me to keep the site running.

Without further ado, here they are.....

10) Chronicle - A found footage film about a bunch of guys who suddenly find they have super powers. That hits the sweet spot right there. Under stated and under sold, but a cult classic in the making.

9) The Amazing Spider-Man - A reboot seemed a bit premature, but all in all the film worked far better than I thought it would. The film takes more from the more recent Ultimate Spider-Man than the original comic continuity (confusingly called The Amazing Spider-Man) but there’s more than enough room for another series, right? Besides we saw the first live action smack down between Spider-Man and the Lizard. Next up, I believe is Electro (Though I’m still holding out for Mysterio)

8) Dark Shadows - Tim Burton directs a comedy vampire movie with Johnny Depp in the lead role as Barnaby Collins. The soap opera origins are casually tossed aside making the film more accessible to new viewers who never had the chance to see the long running afternoon soap series. For me, an unexpected appearance by the legendary Alice Cooper sealed the deal, moreso as the movie featured the song Ballad of Dwight Frye in a way that provided an essential part of the backstory.

7) The Expendables 2 - The gang’s back, except for Mickey Rourke - but added to the line up are Chuck Norris and Jean Claude Van Damme. Having said that, the show stealer is absolutely Arnold Schwarzenegger. He’s BACK.

6) Batman : The Dark Knight Returns (DVD - animated) Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns was the graphic novel that brought me back to the world of Batman and comic books in 1985. Gotham in the new future, ten years after the last sighting of Batman. The streets are in the grip of a gang called The Mutants. It’s time to come out of retirement for one last case. Good point - DC have left nothing of the source material out of this animated film, slightly bad point, it’s a two parter and it seems I have to wait until the spring for the concluding half. At the time of writing, this DVD is exclusive to HMV in the UK.

5) Don’t Be Afraid of the Dark - remember those "made for TV" movies of the seventies? This was a remake of one of the better, spookier ones. Nicely done, but being greedy, I wouldn’t say no o to a DVD of the original as well. Nasty little critters living in the walls of a house, up to no good. The tooth chipping with a chisel scene still makes me shudder.

4) Cabin in the Woods - More Whedon is never a bad thing, especially when the subject matter of creepy cabins in spooky woods is given a Buffy-esque twist. Who, among the Buffy fans, didn’t watch this and think "Initiative" straight away?

3) Skyfall - Finally, Daniel Craig IS James Bond. My Bond rule of three was proven right and this actually gave me a new perspective on Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace. They make sense now.  This won't be on DVD until February, I believe.

2) The Dark Knight Rises - and so the trilogy ends and what an ending. Bringin together elements of The Dark Knight Returns, Cataclysm/No Man’s Land and Knightfall story arcs. A worthy payoff for Nolan’s epic tale.

1) Avengers: Assemble - I had such high hopes for this, having enjoyed the build up with the Marvel movies of the last few years and being a fan of the comics as well. When I heard that Joss Whedon was directing, it seemed to good to be true and my expectations went through the roof. When the credits rolled at the end of the film, each and every one of my hopes and expectations had been surpassed. Easily my film of the year by quite a wide margin. (Plus of course it gave me the classic line of the summer, if not the year.... "Puny God".)

You may have noticed that The Hobbit isn’t among these - that’s because I’m not seeing it until Jan 1, so there’ll be a review to follow.

....and that’s it for 2012.

See you on the other side, in 2013. The year we get Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Pacific Rim and a whole lot more. Now that we know the planet’s not going to implode, we have a lot to look forward to.


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