A Different Sort Of Game

It’s recently come to my attention that there are quite a few folk out there who are fans of or have seen the movie ‘Battle Royal’ and have recently come to the conclusion that ‘The Hunger Games’ is a version or adaptation of ‘Battle Royale’. Some individuals have even gone so far as to say such things as, and I quote: “So what’s up with this hunger games craze? I don’t see what it can possibly give me that “battle royale” “the lethal lottery” and “running man haven’t already.” Well, while ‘Battle Royale’ and the ‘Running Man’ are good movies with similarities even to ‘The Hunger Games’, they are in no way the same and as thus in no way offer the exact same things. And believe me, I’m the first to yell out “hasn’t this been done before?”

I’ve decided to take it upon myself to enlighten or rather… impress upon those who think as such, just how wrong they are. So, here’s the…nitty gritty if you will.

The Running Man– The story’s protagonist, Ben Richards, is a citizen of Co-Op City, a suburb of the fictional Harding, which is located somewhere in the Midwest, west of Detroit (not to be confused with the real Co-Op City) in the year 2025. The world’s economy is in a shambles and America has become a totalitarian dystopia. Richards is unable to find work, having been blacklisted from his trade, and needs money to get medicine for his gravely ill daughter Cathy. His wife Sheila has resorted to prostitution to bring in money for the family. In desperation, Richards turns to the Games Network, a government-operated television station that runs violent game-shows. After rigorous physical and mental testing, Richards is selected to appear on The Running Man, the Games Network’s most popular, lucrative, and dangerous program. Richards meets with Network producer Dan Killian and Running Man host Bobby Thompson. The men proceed to discuss Richards’ contract for appearing on the show, as well as the challenges he is expected to face when the game starts.

Battle RoyaleShuya Nanahara is a Japanese middle school student trying to cope with life after his father’s suicide by hanging. Meanwhile, Noriko Nakagawa, finds her class, 3-B, empty with only her teacher Kitano present in the classroom. Kitano leaves but is attacked by student Yoshitoki Kuninobu with a knife. Kitano later resigns after recovering from his wound. One year later, class 3-B makes a field trip after completing their compulsory studies; however, the class is gassed and summoned to a “briefing room” on a remote island after being gassed, wearing electronic collars. Kitano explains that the class has been chosen to participate in this year’s Battle Royale as a result of the BR Act, which passed after 800,000 students walked out of school. The orientation video has the class forced to kill each other for three days until only one student remains.

The Hunger Games– The Hunger Games takes place after the destruction of North America by some unknown apocalyptic event, in a nation known as Panem. Panem consists of a wealthy Capitol and twelve surrounding, poorer districts. District 12, where the book begins, is located in the coal-rich region that was formerly Appalachia. As punishment for a previous rebellion against the Capitol in which a 13th district was destroyed, one boy and one girl between the ages of 12 and 18 from each district are selected by annual lottery to participate in the Hunger Games, an event in which the participants (or “tributes”) must fight in an outdoor arena controlled by the Capitol, until only one remains.

There you can see that all three films, while having a vaguely similar theme of people set in a game of life and death, they are in no way the same movie. Each film offers up something completely different. In ‘The Running Man’, the main character places himself in that situation rather than face jail time. In ‘Battle Royale’ none of the combatants has a choice in fighting. And in ‘The Hunger Games’, everyone who’s not a citizen of the capital has to enter their names in a lottery of sorts in order to receive rations for their families. Of course the more times your name’s entered, the more likely you are to be chosen as “tribute” of your district.

If you’ve managed to see past vague similarities and other folks opinions of the film or book, then by all means, do check out the film. Give it a chance. If nothing else, the story (the theatrical version) was quite well done. The acting was superb, and the effects were quite nice. Not over the top and not underwhelming, just nice.


A Few Films To Look Forward To…

Those who know me know that I tend to go to the movies a lot. One of my favorite things about going to the theatre; other than seeing the film I’d planned on seeing, is the previews. If not for the previews, there are a great many films I might have possibly missed out on. So, I have decided to take this time to provide you good folk out there who may have possibly missed out on some things coming soon and or not soo soon with a heads up if you will. Here are a few tidbits of news  about what’s to be expected on the big screen.

Enjoy the trailers:


The Cabin In The Woods – April 13th

Just upon hearing the name, I’m sure your imagination starts to conjure up the image of your typical slasher flick. Take a few nubile youths, put them in a cabin in the middle of the woods, add a wrong turn here, stupid thing said there, and mistake here, and throw in one slash-happy psycho with a larger than life knife, chainsaw, ax or what have you and there you have it. Right?  That would be the usual recipe for a movie with a title like ‘The Cabin In The Woods’, but with a tagline like “You think you know the story”… one can’t help but be somewhat dissuaded from thinking they know enough to brand this as just another cabin-slasher flick.

The Avengers – May 4th

Now, I’m sure just about anyone who’s seen a movie preview in the last while knows that there’s an Avengers movie coming out in the next few months, but in the event that you were unaware of this.. now you know. For anyone unfamiliar with Marvel Comics or The Avengers, this film has Thor, Cpt. America, Iron Man, the Hulk, Hawkeye, Black Widow and of course Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury as they are pitted against Loki (Thor’s adopted brother) and an enemy that I’m not all too sure about. It could be anyone from A.I.M. (Advanced Idea Mechanics) to Zodiac, though let’s face it.. it’s not likely to be Zodiac. It’d be more likely to be Hydra or even Ultron. Anyway, you may or may not have seen one of the latest previews for the coming film, but in case you haven’t seen the awesomeness that is this particular trailer, here it is for your viewing pleasure.

Spider-Man – July 3rd

I’m far from the biggest fan of Spidey, be it in comic book form, cartoon form, action figure form, or video game form, but I can’t help but have some interest in the character. Nerdy geek ends up being imbued with super-human abilities like agility, super strength, the ability to know danger’s near, and of course the web slinging and clinging to any surface he wants to (All which comes along with an upgrade from dweeb to pretty cute guy, it seems.), but they’ve gone and changed ol’ Spidey up it seems. He’s got a new face and a new suit. He even comes with a new villain. I won’t get my hopes up for this one, but I could be wrong and this film could blow every other Spider Man film clear out of the water.

In place of writing more and more about this movie, that movie, and the other, I’ve decided to show you good people the Super Bowl movie commercials. (Alright, I know it’s a cop-out and I’m fine with that.) If you’ve seen them, here they are again. If you’ve missed them.. Here they are for your viewing pleasure. (Excluding the Avengers trailer; as it’s already on here.)

The Hunger Games

G I Joe: Retaliation

John Carter (Extended Super Bowl movie trailer)

The Dictator

Act of Valor


The Lorax



Enough is Enough…Isn’t it?

LOS ANGELES (TheWrap.com) – “The Avengers” has a new superpower: 3D. Walt Disney Studios said Thursday that the movie will be released in the format when it debuts May 4.

I’ve noticed an alarming trend recently. That trend being that there are more and more movies being made in 3D. Now don’t get me wrong, when I saw James Cameron’s Avatar, I had to see it in IMAX 3D. It was just that epic of a movie. So I’m not against 3D movies all together. There are a ton of movies that have been made 3D though and unnecessarily at that.  Upon checking Wikipedia, I found over 30 titles that have been released in 2011 alone in 3D; starting with The Green Hornet on January 14, 2011 and ending with the release of The Darkest Hour on December 23, 2011.

While I love my films based on super powered individuals as much as the next person, or a little more, I don’t really think that every single superhero film should be made in 3D.

Movies deserving to be made in 3D this year include:

Transformers: Dark of the Moon

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows – Part 2

Final Destination 5

These are the kind of movies that should be done in 3D, especially seeing as you don’t see these types of films being popped out every other day.

Movies undeserving of being made in 3D this year include:

Gnomeo and Juliet

Justin Bieber: Never Say Never

TT3D: Closer to the Edge

Hoodwinked Too! Hood vs. Evil


Piranha 3D

Priest… the list goes on.

Now I’m sure you’ve noticed the first list is shorter than the second one, but that’s just the way I see it. I’m not saying that any of these movies are bad in any way(except the Justin Bieber one of course.) All I’m saying is that if you’re a film maker and you’re going to make a movie in 3D then you should be sure that the film is worth being put in 3D. You don’t see George A. Romero making every single zombie film he makes in 3D, do you? No.. and his films are awesome.

As a matter of fact, I’d say why not take a break from making 3D films Hollywood.?. I mean.. does 3D really enhance the films or is it just plain unnecessary? The average price about now where I live to see a non 3D film is $9.75 for an adult, $7.00 for children, and $7.00  for seniors. When it comes to watching those same films in 3D, the prices jump to $11.25 for an adult, $10.50 for children, and $10.50 for seniors. Sure, that’s only a difference of $1.50, but is it really worth it when the odds seem to always lean more towards the 3D being ill-used? If a family of 3 were to go on a movie night just to see.. “The Adventures of Tintin 3D”, assuming it’s 2 adults and 1 child the price for viewing the movie alone comes to about $33.00, not to mention the concessions such as drinks, candy, and or hotdogs…

Are you a slave to 3D?

The Gay Geek

The word geek can be defined as a slang term noting a person as “One who is perceived to be overly obsessed with one or more things including those of intellectuality, electronics, etc.” … or a person with an eccentric devotion to a particular interest. From oxforddictionaries.com it’s asked “Is being a geek something to be proud of?” I personally say yes, yes it is. The site goes on to say that “a few decades ago the answer would almost certainly have been no: the word was a cruel and critical label attached to clever, but socially awkward, people: train-spotters, computer geeks, and unpopular college students. Then in the 1990s everything changed. The computer industry helped many geeks to achieve great success, and the wider perception of geeks began to shift. Being a geek was suddenly a positive thing, suggesting an admirable level of knowledge, expertise, and passion: geeks could do ‘cool stuff’. It’s now common for people to be self-proclaimed or self-confessed geeks, with geekiness no longer confined to the world of science and technology ( a music geek with an awesome vinyl collection, the kind of film that every true movie geek would give five stars). Nerds have undergone a similar change of image but to a lesser extent, with some negative terms such as boring and pathetic still commonly attached to the word”

I’m greatly inclined to agree with oxforddictionaries.com’s take on geekdom. Thanks to the computer being a thing that’s widely used worldwide and in countless homes across the globe, people who show an incredible interest in it are no longer shunned as being strange, or weird simply for their interest. These days a geek is not simply someone with technical know how and an interest in the electronic. A person can be a geek for sci-fi movies and novels, fantasy, video games, music, film in general, anime or any number of things. I myself saw the light of geekdom at an early age when I watched my first episode of Star Trek, though it was expressed even earlier with my love of Star Wars merch. As an adult I consider myself an all around geek, or the equivalent of a “jack of all trades” sort of geek. As well as being a geek, I’m gay.. and a+b equaling c would make me a gay geek.. even a gaymer as some would say.

The Sci-fi genre has seen its share of gay and or bi-sexual characters since I’ve grown up. There’s the lesbian character of Willow from TV’s “Buffy the Vampire Slayer”, (TV & comics), Parthenon, aka Dan Williams from “Who Wants To Be a Superhero?”; The Sci Fi Channel, Ianto Jones from “Torchwood“; BBC America, Northstar, aka Jean-Paul Beaubier from “The Uncanny X-Men“; comics, The Midnighter, aka Lucas Trent from “The Authority“; comics, and Captain Jack Harkness from “Torchwood“; BBC America to name a few and plenty of Gay actors out there; most notable are Ian McKellen (Gandalf from Lord of the Rings and Magneto from X-Men (Film) Zachary Quinto (Sylar from Heroes and Spock from Star Trek the movie), & George Takei (Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu from the original Star Trek, Captain Sulu in an episode of Star Trek Voyager, Kaito Nakamura from TV’s Heroes). Any geek; gay, bi, or straight worth his salt could tell you who at least one of those characters is.

That all being said,the influx of gay characters in the sci-fi, comic book, fantasy, and cinematic world has also seen a rise in gay geeks in the last few years or so. You can’t go to an anime convention or Trek convention without coming across at least a small handful of gay men who share your passion for things geeky in nature. Despite this influx of awesome, the dating pool if you will, for a gay geek stills seems as small as it has ever been. Where are all the men who appreciate a well-timed Star Wars reference? Where are the men who can understand my fascination with Doctor Who…when they’re not at the cons looking resplendent in their geeky costumery? Where’s Waldo? I obviously don’t know the answer to any of those questions; otherwise I wouldn’t ask, but I wish I did.

Even if Mr. Geeky “Right” eludes me, I’m happy to know that geekdom has a foothold in the gay community and visa versa. I’m also happy that I have a community…. communities in which I am welcome as I am.

Night of the Living Allegory

Cinema is littered with allegory, from movies as far back as Metropolis(1927) & its allegory of a fear of mob rule, fear of being overcome by technology  to current day, such as with The Chronicles of Narnia and their allegory of Jesus Christ of Nazareth as the lion Aslan. Allegory is everywhere, whether it’s meant to be there or not. Ever since the first zombie dug its way from out of the earth, zombies have been a widely used and popular symbol of our science run amok. You can look at a zombie film and see it as an allegory/symbol for out of control technology, as they are often brought into being by a spill of some highly toxic experimental chemical, re-animated through the means of some bio-engineered/man-made bio-weapon, or even though less often than other cases they are brought into being due to mans meddling in forces far beyond their understanding.

With Night of the Living Dead you have the possibility of all of these allegories, yet one that stands above them all is that of racism. The role of the lead character of the film (Ben) is played by Duane Jones, a black male; though the role does not call for a black male specifically. Ben is noticeably the sole non-white character in the film. Some saw this casting as significant, but George A. Romero says “he simply gave the best audition.”

Looking at the film, you can see the interaction and the distinction between the black and the white characters in the film.  Racism is defined as “The belief or doctrine that all members of each race possess inherent differences or abilities specific to that race that determine cultural or individual achievement, usually involving the idea that one’s own race  is superior and has the right to rule others.”

As noted by one Steven Russell, within the film Night of the Living Dead “despite the fact that Ben is the only member of the house that survives the night and in spite of his success against white zombies, he is killed quickly and cleanly by the living white, the zombie lynch mob, as he emerges into daylight.

As I stated at the beginning of this blog, there are zombie films where the dead are often brought into being by a spill of some highly toxic experimental chemical, re-animated through the means of some bio-engineered/man-made bio-weapon, or even though less often than other cases they are brought into being due to mans meddling in forces far beyond their understanding. Most of these cases easily show in the titles 28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later where you have a zombie outbreak unleashed by means of monkeys who’ve been tested on using a “rage virus” which infects unsuspecting and slightly militant “animal rights activists” early in the film. These two titles(28 Days Later & 28 Weeks Later) also highlight how quickly man can go from reasonable and rational to irrational and just plain immoral.

Though lacking subtlety, in Zombies of Mass Destruction we see less the folly of man in his becoming overwhelmed with aftermath of his own machinations and a more racist, sexist, homophobic underbelly not of the undead, but of the people in the town who are plagued by the undead. The virus in this movie is described as a “terrorist” virus and being in a small town, one of its inhabitants believe the sole Middle Eastern girl in town to have had a hand in the virus attack. Here you see the racism brought to light by the zombie outbreak. It is not that the outbreak caused the racism, but that because of the outbreak we are allowed to more clearly see racism’s presence. You have sexist mayor who flouts the campaign of his female opposition, but more-so you have homophobia brought to light by the homophobic yet quite closetly gay preacher. In the film, before the outbreak takes place you have a cute gay couple who are coming to visit with the mother of the not soo openly gay half of said couple. The mothers reaction shows a lesser degree of homophobia than the aforementioned preacher. Through “re-education” he believes he can change someone from gay to g-d fearing straight. The themes of racism and homophobia lay strewn about the story this movie tells.

Regardless of the film title or director; zombie films have come with some lesson or parable that we as human beings should probably take to heart. Till that happens, there will always be a zombie movie pointing out the bigotry, violence, hate, racism, and just plain worse that humanity has to offer…while occasionally…possibly offering us a laugh or scream or two to lighten the tone or not focus soo heavily on the meat of the films.