Monthly Archives: November 2011

The Beginning…?

This week sees the release of the latest in the Twilight series of films, Breaking Dawn – Part 1. Apparently they needed to release the film in two separate parts just so they could fit Robert Pattinson’s chin on screen. Although this latest instalment is undoubtedly an abominable affront to film, the English language, and distinguished fictional vampires such as Nosferatu and Count Duckula, it will inevitably make hundreds of millions of dollars because of the impressionable and easily impressed demographic that it appeals to. In light of this I have decided to write my own movie, utilising all the aspects of modern popular culture that attract these gangs of jabbering tweens like particularly excitable flies to a giant light bulb made of  shirtless vampires and crap dialogue.

In the spirit of Hollywood trailers I will now outline the entire plot for you so that you needn’t even go and see the film. It will be in three parts, although the plot will only take up the first of them; the other two just consist of four hours of my executive producers counting massive piles of money.

Since mythical beings seem to be the protagonists de rigeur these days, my main characters will all be examples of such creatures. Although since vampires and werewolves have been overdone lately, and zombies are old news, this doesn’t leave me with much choice. Therefore, the movie will revolve around Sasquatch and the Loch Ness Monster, or Harry and Hamish if you prefer. The film’s plot will centre on the pair’s trials and tribulations in vying for the affections of a nubile young unicorn named Penelope who is blessed with an amazing singing voice and a non-threatening Caucasian complexion. Our heroine is played by Dakota Fanning’s unborn sister, who although still a foetus, has been generating a lot of Oscar buzz over the last few months for her incredible performances.

Penelope’s heartrending back-story is a tale of woe worthy of a spot in the final ten of The X Factor. Her parents were killed before she was born in a tragic jetski-related accident. To be precise, a jetski fell off a truck onto them as they were out jogging one day. She then fell in love with a prince who turned out to be a frog, until one day he was captured by an enthusiastic young science teacher and subjected to a gruesome dissection. After mourning him she next fell in love with a frog who turned out to be The Artist Formerly Known as Prince, but his hectic touring schedule meant that the relationship was doomed from the start. After this heartbreak she vowed never to love again, and locked herself away in the top of the tallest tower in the land, never to set eyes on another man as long as she lived. It was only after she threw away the key that she realised the toilet was on the ground floor.

It is at this point that we meet our intrepid heroes, Harry and Hamish, played by Ricky Gervais and Stephen Merchant. After hearing the tragic tale of Penelope, both instantly fall in love with her, or possibly just have nothing else to do, and they decide to undertake the perilous journey across Slightly-Right-of-Middle Earth to reach her and rescue her from her self-imposed solitude. Russell Brand appears to them separately in a dream and tells them, amidst much Dickensian hyperbole and fanciful hand gestures, that they must seek the powerful but highly camp wizard, Gandalf the Gay. Only he can help them in their quest to find Penelope.

The pair set off on their journey to reach the exuberant wizard, meeting many strange and wonderful creatures along the way. They defeat the screeching two-headed monster Jedwardius in a breakdancing competition in order to gain the keys of the magical closet from their guardian King Louis of Walshtown. They fight on the side of the Tweeters against the MySpace clans in the legendary Flame Wars. They even meet a particularly dull rock named Gerald, played by Orlando Bloom.

Finally, after following an extremely bright and glittery yellow brick road, they reach the Aquamarine City, home of Gandalf the Gay. The wizard grants them two wishes, since it infringes on copyright to grant three. While arguing over how best to use their wishes, Harry wishes Hamish would hurry up and wish for something, after which Hamish wishes ‘that mincy wizard would stop staring at me like that’. Having inadvertently wasted their wishes and angered Gandalf the Gay, the pair are banished from the City, and fear that all hope of reaching Penelope has been lost.

Harry and Hamish are in the middle of planning a route home that means they don’t have to cross paths with Gerald again when suddenly a ghostly pirate ship appears in the water beside them. Out steps Captain Zack Sparrow, younger brother of Jack, played by Justin Bieber. He offers to take them to Penelope, since he has to stop at Centra on the way home for some ham anyway. The other packet was left open too long in the fridge and it’s gone all weird and hard around the edges. While on the ship, our characters are joined for a triumphal musical number by the entire cast of Glee, except the wheelchair kid because the ship didn’t have a ramp. Pirates are notoriously insensitive to the needs of the differently abled.

Eventually, after the thirty-minute long musical interlude ends with the teacher from Glee riding a porpoise voiced by Gary Barlow into the sunset singing ‘Unchained Melody’, Harry and Hamish arrive at their destination. They come to the foot of the tower and call Penelope’s name until she appears at the window. She looks just as radiant and beautiful as they imagined she would, although Harry remarks that she could have put in a bit of effort, since she’s just wearing a snood and a pair of trackie bottoms. They tell her to throw her hair down so they can climb up but she sensibly notes that this would leave all three of them trapped in the tower, so she just flies down to them instead, leaving Hamish to wonder aloud how a winged unicorn could have been trapped in a room with a large open window in the first place.

As the trio prepare to leave together to start their new life, Penelope asks them how in the world they ever found her.

‘Russell Brand came to us in a dream.’

‘Oh, I think I had the same one. Was he naked by any chance?’

‘Yes,’ says Hamish sombrely. ‘Yes he was.’

Our heroes slowly walk away into the background, and just as the screen is fading to black and the dulcet tones of Gary the porpoise can be heard lilting over the waves, Miley Cyrus flies through the air in a biplane hauling a huge banner that simply says, ‘The End…?’

Let’s hope not. I think I could make a career out of this screenwriting lark.


Fresh COD

This week sees the release of the newest game in the Call of Duty franchise, Modern Warfare 3. Over the next few weeks, for a certain demographic of young men at least, workplace productivity will decrease, college essays will go unwritten and girlfriends will be ignored. Until they try to change over to The X Factor when you’re right in the middle of garrotting a Soviet sergeant with his bootlaces, at which point the relationship will have become irretrievably lost.

The game’s campaign mode is set to continue its predecessor’s storyline of a Russian invasion of the US and Europe during the Cold War. This imagined history is certainly a lot more exciting than the reality of the 80’s, during which time the Americans were mostly building new helicopters after dumping them all in the sea after ‘Nam, wondering aloud what glasnost and perestroika meant, and engaging in bloody combat with the fearsome Central American superpower of Nicaragua.

The storyline of Modern Warfare 2 was entertaining, and a cut above many films of a similar genre. The good guys boasted several likeable characters, the levels were varied and cleverly put together (with some nice references to films like Red Dawn and Aliens thrown in for good measure), and the villain was the most ostentatious Russian terrorist since Gary Oldman was politely asked to leave Harrison Ford’s plane.

The sequel is set to feature some European locations like Paris and London, with the latter’s inclusion prompting an outcry from some people who claimed it was insensitive to show terrorism affecting the city after the July bombings in 2005. Maybe in the next instalment the developers should spare people’s feelings by using countries that have never suffered any kind of terrorist attacks. The plot could focus on a Swedish invasion of Greenland, with the player having to utilise polite Danish diplomacy to defuse the situation, after which everyone quietly returns home to their cold, dull lives and exorbitant tax rates. There could even be a bonus level where you have to ensure your character lives through his 20’s in Scandinavia without committing suicide.

More popular than the story mode these days, however, is the multiplayer option, in which people from across the globe can play against each other online. This experience can be made even more interactive with the use of a headset and microphone, but this becomes incredibly irritating. There are fewer more humbling experiences in life than getting an RPG to the face while being laughed at and called a noob wanker by some 10-year old kid from Leeds on his mid-term break.

Of course much of the action in the Modern Warfare games is glamorised and not very true-to-life. It would be interesting to play some games that reflect the mundane realities of life as a soldier in a major conflict.

You could have Call of Duty: Vietnam, in which the player takes on the role of a GI looking for some female company on a night out in Saigon. The mission is to negotiate a reasonable enough rate so that he has enough left over for half a dozen bottles of whiskey and a poorly thought-out tattoo on his arse that will help his unit to identify him the following week when he steps on a landmine and they come across a smouldering pound of flesh with the words “Charlie can suck my balls” emblazoned across it.

Or how about Call of Duty: Afghanistan, where the object is to avoid roadside bombs and British friendly fire while using less important troops from places like New Zealand as shields. The last level involves your character reading a history book about Alexander the Great and realising just how fucking stupid it is to start a war that has consistently proven to be unwinnable.

The most realistic would probably be Call of Duty: Off Duty, following the life of a grunt when home from the war. Challenges could include complaining about immigration and the Democrats, dealing with a severe drinking problem as a result of your acute post-traumatic stress disorder, and putting up huge American flags on your front lawn so passers-by don’t forget what country they’re in.

Ultimately, the best thing about the Modern Warfare games is the opportunity for young men to indulge some of our more violent tendencies without having to experience any kind of real danger or leave the comfort of our pizza-stained underpants. The fact that the horrors of war still have to be endured by so many of our generation is a pathetic indictment of the limits of our civilisation, but these weighty issues matter little when you’re busy taking the head off the shoulders of some teenager from Kansas with a sawn-off shotgun, his tormented wails of anguish echoing in your headset as his pixellated stump sprays a red mist over your screen and you move on to your next victim, cackling maniacally to yourself as you crack open your third beer of the afternoon. War may be hell but it’s also a hell of a lot of fun.