Tag Archives: entertainment

All’s Well That Trends Well

To celebrate the recent 400th anniversary of the death of William Shakespeare, one independent drama company is planning a series of the great man’s plays with a modern twist.

The Millennial Theatre Company for Millennials is situated in a trendy borough of London that is home to a plethora of pop-up art galleries, theatres, organic coffee shops and confused, angry locals slowly being airbrushed out of existence by the unyielding yoke of gentrification.

Indeed this chic quarter is so fashionable that it foregoes the archaic nominative traditions that have historically been used to label residents of an area as being residents of that particular area, and is often referred to by those in the know as simply The Borough with No Name.

The company’s innovative re-imaginings of the Bard’s work are designed to attract a whole new audience of young, vibrant trendsetters to the world of community theatre. Its tagline of “Drama: It’s Dramatic!” underlines the simple approach of its director, Fiach Atticus Higgins-Collins.

“Young people want to be entertained,” says Higgins-Collins. “Shakespeare’s works have a lot of extraneous nuance and subtext that tends to confuse people. We’ve just focused on keeping the drama, and that’s what our theatre is all about: Drama.”

The last word is whispered with the sincerity of a true artist at work. His ground-breaking vision is one of theatre as social network, in which the audience plays an active part in proceedings.

“They’re encouraged to Tweet their reactions scene by scene, to live blog the plays, to put pictures on Instagram,” explains the director.

“The audience is our portal to the digital world,” he says with a theatrical and rather complex hand gesture that lasts several seconds.

So what can people hope for from yet another modern Shakespeare adaptation?

“Whatever happens it’s going to be dramatic,” promises Higgins-Collins, “very dramatic.”

To give us a taste of what we can expect the company has kindly provided the following guide to the programme of plays, with a brief synopsis of each one.

~

Hamlet

The King of Denmark is having problems with paranormal activity in his royal residence. He needs to put his mind at ease so he can get back to being fiscally prudent and enjoying football and expensive beer in moderation. So who’s he gonna call? That’s right – Ghost Büsters!

Not to be confused with any existent trademarked fictional paranormal detectives, Ghost Büsters are Scandinavia’s premier exorcism specialists. Which of course means that they have their own reality TV show on Danish satellite channel Kanal Umlaut.

Follow the exploits of the team, Lars, Kristian, Lars Kristian and Magnusson Lars Magnusson as they investigate the ghoulish goings-on at Castle Hamlet. Will they succeed in ridding the place of its spectral intruders before the important visit of the Norwegian Minister for Fishing? What supernatural device does Lars Kristian find in the Queen’s underwear drawer? And which of the house servants comes under increasing suspicion as the full story is revealed in a devastating and dramatic denouement? To be there or not to be there – there is no question!

Romeo and Juliet

This timeless love story is brought into the digital age in this brave adaptation. Romeo is bored with meeting the same dull, vacuous girls on Tinder, and is feeling hopeless. When he comes across Juliet’s profile, however, it’s love at first swipe.

The two share stories, laughs and animal memes as Romeo falls deeper in love with this seemingly perfect woman. Her answer to every question is exactly the response he had hoped for; every text is witty and self-deprecating; she shares every one of his hobbies, interests and rather vanilla sexual fantasies. Romeo is besotted – he must meet her in person.

However the frisson of romance is dissolved in a heartbreaking and dramatic twist when Juliet turns out to be a Google drone that had been deployed for marketing purposes in order to improve their targeted advertising algorithms. Romeo is crushed, and after sharing some valuable insurance policy price-comparing information, and a somewhat clumsy yet beautiful kiss, the two part ways forever.

Elizabeth II

Nobody wants to hear about a boring old bunch of Richards, Henrys and Johns so the Bard’s oeuvre of historical plays have been replaced with a majestic and moving tribute to the current Queen and her family. In fact most of the play centres on Prince William and Princess Catherine, since Twitter polls have shown that they’re the most popular royals among most key demographics. The Queen and Prince Philip are actually quite far down the list behind all of their great-grandchildren, some of their pets and even a few of Princess Charlotte’s teddy bears.

There is also the fact that a large number of millennials are somewhat hazy on the particulars of the monarchy; many of them think that the Queen is either David Cameron’s mum, or the woman who invented paper money.

The action of the play, therefore, is mostly based around the morning of an OK Magazine photo shoot in William and Catherine’s stately mansion. The drama unfolds as our protagonists are forced to deal with lighting problems, make-up shortages, and a delightfully whimsical last-minute wardrobe change after a hilarious (and dramatic) juice spillage.

The play also presents us with several tense sub-plots such as Prince George’s traumatic flashbacks to his brave battle against chickenpox, and Princess Charlotte’s touching personal struggle to learn how to use a spoon to eat her yoghurt.

Othello

Othello is a Syrian refugee who attempts to flee his war-torn homeland with his family to start a new life in Europe. The story follows his heartbreaking struggle in the face of adversity.

Othello’s journey begins with a narrow escape from death in his country’s bloody civil war, which impels him to seek a new life for his loved ones. The family overcome many physical, emotional, financial and political obstacles on their odyssey to the safe haven of Europe, enduring oppression, rebuttal and failure at every turn.

Eventually Othello and his family are successfully processed and granted asylum to live and work in Europe. Many months after they had set out on the long road to meet their uncertain future, they finally arrive at their new home: a sleepy English seaside village that reminds Othello of his grandfather’s home town which he used to visit as a boy. He is relieved beyond words, beyond emotions; relieved, content and even a little proud of what he has achieved for his family.

Their travails along the way have made them stronger and brought them closer to each other than they had ever thought possible. They wake at last to a dawn full of promise and possibility.

Unfortunately two weeks later Britain votes to leave the EU and they are promptly sent home.

Macbeth

This tale of a married couple seduced and corrupted by the promise of political power is transposed to the more glamorous setting of the US for a contemporary audience, because nobody cares about Scottish independence.

The gullible, power-hungry Macbeth manages to get elected President through nefarious means, while his cold, calculating wife is the real power behind the throne.

Years after her husband’s career has finished, the cunning Lady Macbeth plots a return to power. Spurred on by her ruthless ambition, hurt by the indiscretions of her husband and supported by supremely powerful vested interests, this reptilian warmonger looks set to claim the Presidency for herself, with only a court Fool standing in her way on the other side of the political divide.

Enter the brave Macduff, a plain-speaking, honest merchant, and a member of the Macbeths’ own court. His is a hopeless task as he attempts to stand up for the rights of the downtrodden and defy the might of the Macbeth dynasty. However his wit, intelligence and integrity convince the people of the realm that the last thing they need is another Macbeth on the throne, and the vile harridan is defeated.

King Lear

Juxtaposing this classic tale of human suffering and familial conflict with the trappings of the modern entertainment industry, this adaptation sees the Lear family take their dispute to the ultimate arbiter of fairness and justice in the land: Mr. Jeremy Kyle.

The absurdly wealthy landowner Lear, a mean-tempered, conservative war veteran, is terminally ill and wishes to divide his estate among his three daughters. Regan, the eldest, is married to a successful City broker and has raised a family of her own. Goneril, the middle child, is a partner at one of the country’s top law firms. Both appear on the show to fulsomely profess their love and respect for their father.

Cordelia, the youngest, has always been different, and has not spoken to her father for many years. She identifies as a non-binary pangender individual who lives an austere, self-sufficient life on an alpaca farm in Cumbria with her life partner Esperanza, with whom she has adopted six children, each from a different African country. They earn a little extra money by making Anarchist Party woollen jumpers that they sell online.

The explosive and dramatic showdown between estranged father and daughter is one you won’t want to miss. Can Lear and Cordelia grow to accept each other before it’s too late? Will Jeremy’s sage judgement help Lear to overcome his heteronormative bias and embrace his little girl’s life choices? Or will the drama be too much to keep this dysfunctional family from crumbling apart? Drama!

The Tempest

Climate change is having a more egregious impact on our planet as each year goes by, and this retelling serves as a prophetic warning about its dangers.

As prevailing weather conditions become more erratic around the globe, the Pacific Ocean becomes one of the most turbulent regions, being struck almost daily by violent storms. One fateful day a super storm with immensely powerful wind speed hits just a few miles off the US coastline, causing a massive waterspout.

This spout causes thousand of the sea’s most fearsome (and most dramatic) creatures, great white sharks, to be pulled out of the ocean depths and deposited onto the streets of downtown LA, resulting in chaotic scenes of epic proportions.

* The Millennial Company’s legal team has advised that this synopsis be accompanied by a reminder that the company’s recent legal battle with the Syfy channel was settled out of court, and that the details of said case shall remain private by special court order.

Elizabeth II Part II

This one hasn’t been written yet, but it will just be the most popular characters from Part I repeating the catchphrases that trended the most over and over again.

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Kanye West: The Being Kanye West Years

Sue Townsend, the author of the hugely popular Adrian Mole series of books, passed away this week. From the early 1980s onwards, her creation provided the faltering, socially awkward voice of a generation, reflecting the experiences of millions in dealing with life, love, Margaret Thatcher and everything in between.

One wonders how a contemporary teenager’s diary might differ from Adrian’s, some thirty years on. Keeping a diary was once a private act of reflection; a healthy, cathartic practice for the individual, but kept secret from prying eyes. This personal reticence has been inverted with the advent of social media, with Twitter feeds and Facebook statuses consumed with indulgent over-sharing and detailed pictorial logs of people going about their everyday business.

In searching for a modern voice to act as a paragon for these shamelessly garrulous masses, one needn’t look further than the inimitable Kanye West, whose wisdom shines like a beacon through the mist of Tweeted trivialities and cuts  right to the core of the human condition.

Philosopher. Warrior. Polemicist. Educator. Preacher. Kanye is none of these things. Nonetheless, his digital diary acts as a veritable canon of life lessons for his legions of followers. Perception and sagacity drip from his brilliant mind like melted cheese and runny ketchup from a giant hamburger of profound understanding. Here is just a taste of his boundless insight…

 ~

– I just deleted the word ‘failure’ from my Dictionary app. Cos I don’t even know what that word means. Also, did you know that ‘fain’ is an Old English word that means pleased or willing under the circumstances? Because I did.

– How come paparazzi always come into the garden when I leave the gate open? Can’t a man and his wife do some gardening in their matching mink coats in peace? I feel like John Lennon, yo. After he got shot.

– Kim asked me today, How come you never sing about me, and I was like, cos your crazy name don’t rhyme with shit.

– Someone tried to hand me a pamphlet on the street today about African babies, and I was like I don’t believe in paper, it’s just dead trees. Would you put dead trees on your shelf? I don’t wanna be looking at no dead trees with babies on. They had nothing to say to me cos they knew I was right.

– Pretty sure I just invented a new colour playing around with North’s pencils. I’mma call some people and I’ll keep you posted.

– They name stars after people but they never name people after stars. But the stars were there first, so I’mma call my next child Alpha Centauri. Then when I want to reach for the stars I can just reach out and touch him. I’mma get him some tiny Timberlands too, just cos.

– Gandhi said that there is more to life than simply increasing its speed. But he ain’t never heard ‘Gold Digger’.

– I brought North to the MTV awards, and he wore a tuxedo and I wore some Spiderman pyjamas. That’s why I’m Kanye West and you’re not. ‘Cept for that one guy in Kansas but my lawyers are making him change his name to Dave or some shit.

– When I arrive at a crossroads in life I don’t choose which road to take, I turn around and go home. Cos I live in a big-ass apartment and I got a 3D TV, yo.

– I don’t allow animals in my apartment because then they think that they’re people, and they get all haughty, and they look at you like, Yeah I could make a record too. But I’m like, no you couldn’t, you’re a dog, you don’t got no thumbs. A chimp could maybe make a record, but it wouldn’t go platinum like Yeezus did.

– People ask me what my lucky number is and I say they haven’t invented it yet. Then I just drive away in my Benz while they thinking on it.

– Listening to old records trying to find samples for the new album. Can’t find anything better than my last album so I think I’ll just sample myself. I’ll call the album Kanye Squared, and instead of a circle, the disc will be a square. I like to play with conventions.

– Dr. Seuss once said, “Don’t cry because it’s over, smile because it happened.” But 2Pac said, “Thug Life is dead”, so I don’t know what to think.

– I was lying on my bearskin rug looking through abstract nouns for the name of my next fragrance. Kim was all like, you should call it ‘Talent’. I told her you can’t bottle that. If you could then I’d be twice as rich as I am today. Then we made love on the rug.

– People say nothing rhymes with orange or purple, but Shakespeare invented, like, a hundred thousand words, including ‘England’, ‘William’ and ‘ho’. So I’mma invent the word ‘morange’, and it’s gonna mean that feeling you get when you wake up from a dream, and you’re in bed next to Kim Kardashian, and you realise that you’re Kanye West. That’s why I don’t need to dream. I just morange, yo.

– If I could be a god I would be the one from Asia with eight arms, cos then I could write three times as many albums, and just make pasta all day with the other two.

– Sometimes old people be like, you young folks got it easy, we had world wars and disease and unemployment and all that, and I’m like yeah, but we got to put up with Miley Cyrus so it’s about even.

– I would like to win an Oscar one day, but I feel like I should already have one just for living my life. My life is every genre, even those crazy Japanese ones, and I’m the best actor in my life. But the Academy wouldn’t do that. Cos it’s full of white dudes.

– People ask me why I never smile, then I say maybe if you tell a joke I’ll smile. Then they say, You wanna hear a joke? Then I say no, I don’t like jokes.

– Kim thought we should bring some wine to Brad and Angelina’s dinner party, but I was like, that’s a cliché. So I took a picture of some wine and I gave Brad the picture. He didn’t say anything but I could tell he was thinking, There’s a genius in my house. And his name is Kanye West. Then later we ran out of wine and Angelina had to drive down to the store.

– I was playing Wordfeud with Johnny Depp and he was like, Influenticize ain’t a word. And I was like, well I’ll call up Webster and make him put that shit in. I know Webster and he thought Yeezus was dope. He owe me one.

– If at first you don’t succeed, then you should probably just give up. ‘Less your name is Kanye West.

– I ain’t scared of dying cos I believe in reincarnation. But I wanna come back as the stupidest animal there is, like a cow, cos if I come back smart I’ll be sad that I ain’t Kanye no more. If I’m a cow I’mma be like, alright, where the grass at? That’s my philosophy.


New Year’s Devolutions

As another year draws to a close we are left to look back on the events of the last twelve months, and assess their impact on our lives. Unfortunately, however, due to my reliance on modern technology, I have no memory whatsoever of anything that happened before yesterday. Therefore, until we manage to invent some sort of collated, easily accessible database of news through which we can record our history as it unfolds, any attempt at such reflection is pointless.

Instead, I will attempt to predict what may lie in store for the duration of our next revolution around the sun, which conveniently gives me even more scope for absurd exaggeration and crude humour. To that end, here follows a synopsis of what we can expect in the year 2014…

To domestic affairs first, as Ireland continues its upward trajectory out of the doldrums of recession. Normality returns in increments as shoddily built apartments are bought by the thousand, helicopters are dusted off to head down to the Galway Races, and solicitors start snorting cocaine before midday again.

In politics, Enda Kenny finally gives in to pressure to reform the Seanad, and appoints David Norris to take charge of the transition. Unfortunately, Norris chooses to make no changes whatsoever to the political structures or powers of the upper house, deciding instead to use millions of euro of taxpayers’ money to build an exact replica of an Ancient Roman Senate chamber, complete with annexed bath house, and opulently furnished in marble and gold leaf. The Taoiseach defends the developments by arguing that attendance in the house is at a record high average of 11%, a vast improvement on previous years.

Unfortunately for many of our émigrés, next year will also see Australia suffer a severe economic crash akin to the one that sent them there. Thousands of young Irish people are left floundering in a sweltering, barren wasteland, with no employment and no money to get home. As the last remaining Aussies leave their shores en masse to seek bar work in London, our hapless emigrants are left to fend for themselves in the desolate wilderness. Rule of law breaks down and society devolves into a post-apocalyptic nightmare, like Mad Max with more swearing and Offaly jerseys.

In the US, troublesome Republicans once again force a shutdown of the government, which lasts for over six months. The leadership claims it is due to Obama’s wish to implement stricter gun laws, but House insiders maintain it is predominantly a backlash to the dryness of the muffins in the Congress cafeteria. The country is thrown into chaos as millions are denied access to essential services. A deal is eventually brokered after military cutbacks contribute to a worrying breach in security in an army base in Kandahar, in which an enemy missile lands inside the perimeter. After eliminating the insurgents responsible, the missile turns out to be a football that had come from a nearby playing field, but military intelligence verifies that the deceased 12-year old boys were ‘a lot more terrorist-y than they looked.’

More revelations are forthcoming in 2014 from Edward Snowden regarding NSA monitoring of internet communications. In a somewhat tragic twist, it emerges that an entire subsection of intelligence operatives, who had been tasked with examining comments on YouTube to seek potential terrorists, take their own lives in what seems like a ritual mass suicide by self-immolation. NSA chiefs announce their grief and shock over the lost lives, especially since the group had just started their first day on the project.

In Britain, police continue to crack down on abusive behaviour on social networking sites. This policy reaches its zenith when a student is imprisoned for three months for calling Harry Styles a ‘gobshite’ on Twitter. When the presiding magistrate orders everyone who retweeted the offending message to be given the same sentence, thousands of hardened criminals are released onto the streets to make room for the hordes of potty-mouthed youngsters. This results in an unprecedented crime wave sweeping across the country, which the government announces is ‘probably something to do with immigrants.’ The Daily Mail takes a different approach and blames the situation on Ed Miliband’s dad.

In international news, North Korea follows China’s example by expanding their space program. They spend months ferrying men and supplies to the moon, much to the concern of the international community. When it is revealed that Kim Jong-un has built an enormous moonbase, fears grow over what kind of terrible weapon he might unleash. This alarm is soon allayed, however, when it transpires that Kim was simply remaking the movie Moonraker, starring himself as James Bond, and featuring Dennis Rodman as Jaws.

The winter Olympics in Sochi, Russia, take place in February under the shadow of a decree from President Putin that absolutely no gay behaviour will be tolerated. Secret police are stationed around the ground to enforce the law, with security particularly heavy in the figure skating arena for some reason. Putin himself projects his usual uber-macho image by appearing at the games naked, save for the pelt of a bear that he had killed that morning, which he had come upon in the wild and hadn’t been tranquilised in any way, shape or form.

However, events take an unexpected turn at the speed skating track, when Putin’s attention is turned to a young Finnish athlete named Matthias. The Russian premier feels a strange sensation stirring in him as he watches the young man glide over the ice, his golden hair radiant, his enormous quadriceps rippling with every stride. To the alarm of his aides, Putin suddenly rushes onto the track, but trips on his bear suit and falls crashing to the ice. As he rises to his knees, a strong arm appears to help him up, and he finds himself gazing upon a set of chiselled Nordic features. Matthias lifts him into his arms and embraces him, and as the strains of Up Where We Belong begin to play over the PA system, the pair exit the arena to the cacophonous cheers of the assembled masses, and disappear into the setting sun.

Technology giant Apple’s reputation takes a hit next year after it is discovered that its iPhone 6, and its iPad Extra Mini Micro, are in fact the same device. Their PR troubles continue later in the year as a 16-year old worker in one of the company’s Beijing factories hacks the official Apple Twitter account. His strongly worded criticisms of working practices and his uploaded selfie of the effects of an unfortunate smelting accident are Tweeted for the world to see. Unfortunately for him, his revelations are overshadowed by the release of the iPad Pico, a tablet roughly the same size as a postage stamp, which is later revealed to be simply an actual stamp designed to look like a tablet.

Social media continues in the new year in its quest to rid the world of unuttered thoughts, comfortable silences and the last remaining semblances of privacy. Google introduces a controversial new app in which a drone follows the user’s daily movements and updates their Facebook status and Twitter feed accordingly, with observations like ‘Sarah has just been dumped and appears inconsolable’, ‘Paul is masturbating over a fire he just started’, and ‘Sally is bleeding profusely from a head wound caused by my malfunctioning gears’.

As collective attention spans continue to plummet, the fad of six-second long Vines becomes passé. They are replaced by Stems, videos lasting just one second. The most popular of the year is of a 2-year old child from Kansas saying the word ‘jam’ in an adorable fashion, which is shared by millions. The child is later mentioned in Barack Obama’s State of the Union address, which prompts knowing laughter and warm applause from the crowd, followed by an eighteen-minute chant of ‘USA, USA’.

New varieties of the ubiquitous selfie become popular with the babbling, androgynous masses that populate the trendiest corners of the internet, where they smear digital pictograms of the tedious minutiae of their lives across social networking sites, and heap scorn on those of us born before 1994 that still use words like ‘trendiest’. These include the ‘elfie’, a festive self-portrait, the ‘farewellfie’, an inappropriate picture taken at the service of a deceased relative, and the ‘continental shelfie’, photos taken in the shallow waters of the glacially eroded coastal plains of continental land masses. Okay, that last one doesn’t really become that popular.

In Hollywood news, the most anticipated film of the year, the third instalment of The Hobbit, is delayed as director Peter Jackson falls ill during filming. The only director available to take the reins at short notice is Michael Bay, who selflessly offers his services. Upon its release, many critics question the wisdom of Bay’s changes to the original script, including casting Samuel L. Jackson as Gandalf, replacing the eagles with a fleet of Chinook helicopters, and even contriving an entirely new female elven character called Tauriel to spice up proceedings. Well actually, that was Jackson, but it was Bay who decided she should be played by Eddie Murphy in drag as the film’s comic relief.

Most of the criticism, however, centres on the movie’s antagonist, Smaug Mohammed Smaug, who is portrayed as an Islamic oligarch who uses his obscene wealth to arm a sinister band of Yemeni terrorists. The film’s denouement sees the dragon and his insurgent colleagues consumed in the hellfires of US Army drones remotely piloted by a ragtag bunch of wisecracking dwarf grunts, who are all played by Robert Downey Jr. Empire magazine gives the film five stars, their review simply consisting of the words ‘high-octane action’ repeated seven hundred times, followed by an exclamation mark.

In the world of music, Miley Cyrus continues her crusade against subtlety with her new single, Dark Room Full of Middle-Aged Men. The raunchy video becomes a viral phenomenon, and gives rise to a new dance craze among adolescent girls the world over, affectionately called ‘the Miley’. This is much like the Macarena, except with less smiling, and more penetration using household objects. Twitter is abuzz for months with trending topics like ‘doing the Miley’, ‘My tongue is a feminist too’, and ‘late night emergency room visit’.

In hip-hop news, Kanye West releases an experimental 3-hour long album featuring the sounds of his infant child’s bowel movements, set to a snappy bassline from a little-known 1970s adult movie about a Ku Klux Klan Grand Dragon who falls in love with a sassy waitress named LaQuanza. It sells eighteen million copies, and is hailed by music critics as ‘the seminal post-racial artwork of this, or any, millennium’.

So ends my forecast for the year 2014. Some of these things may come to pass; some will not; some may even look tame when reflected in the reality that comes to meet us. The future is a puzzling thing; no less a man than George Orwell had a great fear of it, which manifested itself in his works. This sense of foreboding is nowhere better illustrated than in an achingly bleak line from 1984: ‘If you want a picture of the future, imagine a boot stamping on a human face – forever.’

While I don’t think I’ve quite reached the depths of Orwellian cynicism just yet, it must be said that the pain in my face seems to be increasing exponentially with each passing year. Happy New Year you shower of bastards.


The Bruce and Clark Expedition

The last decade or so has seen comic book culture pervade Hollywood’s every intimate crevice, in a fashion not unlike a sentient mass of locusts that take it upon themselves to permeate a cornfield, an allegorical biblical tale, or a locust convention. It is as if the town were bitten by a giant spider, which instead of bestowing super powers upon it, instead infused it with an irrepressible zeal for explosions, sequels, repetition, explosions, and sequels. And repetition. With the subtlety of the hammer of Thor himself, and all the panache of a Chris Hemsworth facial expression, Disney and Warner Brothers have taken turns to beat us over the head with their revamped versions of comic book superheroes.

Some of these films have been fantastic; the best of them usually combining a darker, more contemporary spin on the original character, with a self-effacing sense of humour that gives due respect to the source material – a sort of referential reverence that never strays into outright parody. Unfortunately though, for every Dark Knight there is a Daredevil lurking in the shadows. Or perhaps in plain sight; it’s not as if he’d know the difference. And in recent years, the balance in the comic book movie multiverse has definitively shifted not towards Christopher Nolan’s Yin, but rather headfirst into Ben Affleck’s Yang (ooh, matron).

Like any creature in the midst of its death throes, this leviathan is currently preoccupied with firing desperate parting salvos in a brave attempt to delay the inevitable. The latest of these is a mooted sequel to the recent commercially successful but much- (and somewhat unfairly) maligned Man of Steel, set for a 2015 release. The big news is that it will see Henry Cavill’s Superman cross paths with DC’s other marquee attraction, Batman. With anticipation already feverishly high, one does not envy the burden placed on the shoulders of Zack Snyder to revitalise an ailing mini-industry with his impending blockbuster.

What kind of dynamic can we expect between the two heroes? Will they overcome their moral, political and sartorial differences and become fast friends? Will Lex Luthor loudly ridicule them for being a pair of tights-wearing orphan homosexuals? Well, two years is too long to wait to answer these questions, so here’s an account of what we might expect to see…

~

Bruce Wayne closed his eyes as he lay back into the luxurious bubble bath Alfred had drawn for him. His body was bruised from his night’s work, and he could not remember the last time he took some time to himself to unwind. As the soothing tones of Strauss’ Die Fledermaus overture filled Wayne Manor’s opulent bathroom, Bruce felt himself drifting off to sleep.

The sound of the doorbell woke Wayne from his snooze with a jolt. As he wondered who could be calling at this late hour, he tentatively lifted himself out of the bath and wrapped a towel around his waist. When he reached the landing he looked down to find Alfred inside the front door, accompanied by a gigantic figure that Bruce had no difficulty recognising.

‘Mister Kent to see you, Sir.’

‘Thank you Alfred,’ he replied after a pause. The butler headed for the kitchen, leaving the two men staring fixedly at each other in silence. Bruce’s visitor narrowed his eyes as he looked up the staircase.

‘Is that a bat on your towel?’

Bruce clenched his teeth and replied with a snarl,

‘Is that a giant S on your suitcase?’

‘It’s not an S,’ Clark retorted. ‘It means hope.’

‘Funny way of spelling hope,’ Bruce muttered to himself as he walked down the stairs towards his guest.

‘You know I have super hearing?’

‘Yeah I found that out at Wonder Woman’s Christmas party.’

‘It’s not my fault I couldn’t sleep with you and her going at-’

‘Okay, I’m not having this conversation again. Come on, I need a drink.’

The two sat by the fire in the study, Clark sipping from a glass of lemonade as Bruce nursed a tumbler of whiskey. Kent squirmed as he tried to fit his giant torso comfortably into the armchair.

‘Will you be careful you big lump?’

‘This chair is impossibly small.’

‘Just take it easy, everything in here is an antique.’

‘What about that Nintendo Wii?’

‘That’s…Alfred’s,’ Bruce replied curtly.

‘That must be his Wii dance mat in the cupboard then.’

‘Look, did you just come here to show off your silly little powers or is there a point to this visit?’

Clark set down his glass and sighed deeply,

‘Look, I’m sorry to bother you so late Bruce but…I was wondering if I could stay for a few days. I…kind of got evicted today.’

‘Evicted? Don’t you live in some giant igloo somewhere? The Fortress of Platitude or something?’

‘Solitude. Yeah…that melted. You know, climate change and all that. I’ve been living in an apartment for a few months now.’

‘What did you do, break all their antique armchairs?’

Clark glowered at him, ‘No, I…burnt the building down.’

‘You did what?’

‘I know, I know. I was tired, my microwave was broken, I tried to cook one of those ready meal things with my heat vision…next thing I know the place is covered in goose fat and the walls are on fire.’

‘Christ, Clark.’

‘The worst part is I was supposed to be doing Celebrity Masterchef next week. Fat chance now.’

Bruce drained his glass and rose from his chair.

‘You can stay as long as you need to Clark. Come on, you can sleep in Robin’s room.’

‘He’s not here?’

‘No, he’s off following One Direction on their tour around Europe.’

Kent looked at him quizzically.

‘Yeah, I know. Don’t get me started.’

‘Thanks, Bruce.’

Wayne grunted in response and walked towards the door.

‘Oh and don’t touch his mineral collection. When people touch his minerals he goes-‘

‘Batshit crazy?’ interjected Clark with a wry smile.

‘You know I could think of a few other things that S could stand for.’

~

When Bruce entered the kitchen the next morning he found Clark preparing an omelette for breakfast.

‘Morning roomie,’ Kent chimed.

‘Don’t call me that,’ Bruce replied flatly as he sat at the table.

‘You break those eggs yourself? I’m surprised the house is still standing.’

Clark cast him a withering look.

‘Silly me, I thought the Joker was behind bars, but here he is in the flesh.’

‘Christ, don’t talk to me about that maniac. He still writes, you know. Last week he sent me one of his shits in the post.’

‘Good lord.’

‘I know. Not to mention all the other crazies he brought crawling out of the woodwork.’

‘What do you mean?’

‘This card was left at a crime scene last week, have a look and see what you think.’

Clark peered down at the card Bruce slid across the table. It had a question mark on one side, and an almost unintelligible scrawl on the other. Clark read the words aloud, ‘What grows smaller every time you use it?’

‘That’s a bit vague, isn’t it?’

‘Tell me about it. The last few nights I’ve gone to soap producers, pencil manufacturers, tyre yards, candlemakers…’

‘Not to mention pretty much all liquids,’ added Clark. ‘And foods. Cosmetics, toiletries, I mean it could be nearly anything.’

‘Yeah I know. It really is a terrible riddle. Still, it’s the only lead I have. I’m going out tonight to check out the giant eraser factory downtown.’

‘I’ll go with you Bruce, I’m dying for a bit of action. It seems like all I’ve been doing recently is rescuing kittens, freeing people handcuffed to radiators, that kind of thing. I could do with a bit of supervillainy for a change.’

‘What about Luthor?’

‘He disappeared a few months ago after that failed attempt to steal the Taj Mahal.’

‘He’s nothing if not ambitious, that man.’

After nightfall the two heroes made their way to the Batcave. They changed into their suits, Clark waiting impatiently as Bruce put the finishing touches to his black eye shadow. Moments later the roar of the Batmobile’s engine shattered the silence of the still evening, as the pair sped towards town.

‘It’s a bit cramped in here isn’t it?’

‘We don’t all have the luxury of flight, Clark.’

Kent frowned pensively.

‘Why is your symbol a bat then? Surely it should be something a bit more sedentary. How about a panda? You’ve got the eyes down already.’

Wayne ignored Clark, who continued to fidget distractedly.

‘What does this button do?’

‘Don’t!’

Clark looked on in amazement as the entire back seat of the vehicle was transformed. A plush velvet couch revolved into view, accompanied by an ice-bucket and an expensive-looking bottle of champagne. The lights dimmed to a soft, golden hue, and the unmistakeably smooth voice of Al Green reverberated around the car’s interior.

‘Eh…you know Bruce, I like you as a friend and fellow superhero, but…’

‘Don’t even start,’ growled a seething Wayne, pressing the button again as the car reverted to its original layout.

‘This is where I have to do most of my…entertaining. Alfred doesn’t like me bringing girls home since those two hookers stole the Caravaggios from the drawing room last year.’

A few minutes later they arrived at the entrance to the factory, and got out to have a look around.

‘I’ll fly around and see if anything’s happening,’ said Clark.

‘Right, I’ll see if I can get inside.’

Bruce made his way to the back entrance, a rusty door that was bolted and padlocked. It only took him seconds to unpick the lock, and he pulled the door back to reveal the pitch black interior of the building. Just as he stepped inside, a cloud of gas appeared with a hiss and enveloped him. Bruce slumped to the ground, trying to call for help, but to no avail. His head hit the cold concrete floor, and he faded into unconsciousness.

~

When Bruce opened his eyes his vision was blurred. His head was pounding and it took a moment to regain his bearings. He looked down to see that he had been chained to the inner wall of the building. He pulled at his shackles with all his strength, but to no avail. To his right he noticed Clark, who had been similarly fastened. He appeared to be conscious, though his head was bowed, and he looked groggy.

‘Clark,’ he whispered. ‘Come on, break your chains.’

Kent was unresponsive. It was then that Bruce noticed a small green crystal hung on the wall just above his friend’s head. His heart sank as he realised what it was.

‘Well, I see you finally solved my riddle,’ came a high-pitched voice from the darkness, as a tall, gangly figure loomed into view.

Bruce surveyed the madman with contempt.

‘Yeah, it was a real head-scratcher. So you’ve just been sitting around here all week waiting fo-’

‘Silence!’ he shrieked, a look of anguish contorting his sunken features.

‘Let’s strike a deal, fellas,’ he continued, a frenzied smile crossing his lips.

‘Solve my next riddle, and I’ll let you walk away right now.’

Wayne glanced warily at Clark as the Riddler spoke in verse,

‘This two-headed beast is black and blue,

Its night of sleuthing gone askew.’

Bruce responded immediately.

‘Well…that’s us obviously.’

The Riddler’s manic grin slipped from his face.

‘So we can go now?’

‘I’m afraid not,’ boomed a voice from the shadows.

A hunched figure stepped forward into the light, his hairless dome gleaming above the evil visage that was twisted with malevolence. He turned to the Riddler,

‘Edward, we really need to talk about your villain persona. These riddles are just ridiculous.’

‘Oh really, Lex?’ he responded, his voice becoming louder and more agitated.

‘I suppose I’ll just tell my mother I don’t want the question mark onesie that she spent a whole weekend making for me?’

Lex sighed in frustration and turned to his prisoners.

Bruce calmly met his sinister gaze.

‘Cute pet,’ he quipped.

Lex smiled scornfully in response.

‘Simply a means to an end. And now that I have you two under control, that end is looking pretty close.’

Lex retreated to a control panel and flipped some switches. The building lit up instantly, revealing an enormous contraption that looked like a giant antenna of some kind. It began to emit a powerful humming noise, as if it was powering up.

‘You see,’ Lex continued, ‘I’ve been dabbling in software development. A week ago I released an app so fiendishly addictive that every smartphone user in the world has downloaded it. And now I’ll activate the signal I hid in the coding, rendering every one of them a mindless automaton, ready to do my bidding.’

Wayne scoffed at this declaration.

‘You can’t possibly have created something that addictive.’

‘Oh no? I used the most complex algorithm known to man to calculate each variable. It uses data from every meme on the internet to ensure maximum effectiveness.’

‘So what is it?’ asked Bruce.

‘Well, it’s basically just Angry Birds. Except instead of birds and pigs, you throw tiny Nicolas Cage heads at those minions from Despicable Me.’

Wayne’s eyes widened in shock as he imagined the millions of people enthralled by such a prospect.

The Riddler perked up. ‘Ooh, that sounds like fun. Can I play?

Lex ignored him and went on.

‘I’ll have an army at my disposal to…’

‘To overthrow the world’s governments,’ finished Bruce, shaking his head disconsolately.

‘What? No, I don’t want some stuffy office job ruling over billions of cretins. I’m going to have them steal the Taj Mahal for me.’

Bruce stared at him in disbelief.

‘You really have your heart set on that, don’t you?’

Lex cackled to himself as he moved his hand over the console and prepared to turn on the antenna.

A deafening crash echoed throughout the building, as suddenly scores of men in FBI jackets streamed in through the entrances, and rappelled down from the ceiling. Within an instant dozens of guns were trained on Lex. His face etched with fury as he raised his hands, Luthor turned to his accomplice.

‘You idiot. Did you send the feds one of your stupid little non-riddles?’

‘No, I swear I didn’t. I was going to, but I couldn’t think of anything that rhymes with Taj Mahal.’

An officer stepped forward from the crowd and addressed Lex,

‘It’s the NSA you have to thank, Luthor. They intercepted an e-mail sent by you to your mother, in which you explained your plot in painstaking detail.’

‘You damned tyrants!’ Lex screamed as he and the Riddler were taken away. ‘Don’t you see what you’ve become? All I wanted was the Taj Mahal!’

The officer turned to Bruce and Clark as they were being cut from their chains.

‘Well, another terrorist cell safely disposed of. Thanks for your help, guys.’

Bruce frowned. ‘Eh, well I don’t think they really qualify as a terr-’

‘Yep,’ the officer continued as he walked away, ‘a good day for freedom.’

~

Bruce opened the door to Robin’s room to see Clark sitting up in bed, looking like his usual self again. He sat by the bedside.

‘Feeling better?’

‘Yeah, thanks.’

‘Well, take your time. With those two off the streets, I don’t think we’ll have to deal with any more supervillains for quite a while.’

There was a knock at the door, and Alfred entered with a parcel.

‘Excuse me sirs, but this just arrived. The postmark says Arkham Asylum.’

‘Christ,’ exclaimed Bruce, ‘what the hell is that smell?’

‘Give that here, Alfred,’ said Clark, who stood up and took the package. He went to the window, opened it, and pulled his arm back over his shoulder.

~

The astronauts on the International Space Station were going through their daily systems check. A voice crackled in the ear of Lieutenant Chris Johnson as he inspected the communications array.

‘Uh, Chris, radar is showing an unidentified bogey passing by. It should be visible from the east viewing panel. Can you check it out?’

‘Roger, I’m here now, I’ll have a look. Oh Jesus…’

‘What is it?’

‘Well, it’s…hard to say.’

‘Well come on Chris, what the hell is it?’ laughed the astronaut.

‘Is it a bird? Is it a plane?’

‘It’s a box of shit, Frank.’

‘Well I know that Chris, but for the next five months it’s home, so get used to it.’


One Nation Under COD

The new Call of Duty video game Black Ops II was released this past week, and looks set to be the latest roaring success in the behemoth that is the COD franchise. The campaign section of the game is more realistic than ever, weaving a fictionalised but credible path through the military history of the late Cold War and into the drone wars of the future. The game play even includes appearances from actual historical figures such as that rascal Manuel Noriega, and contemporary protagonists of the military machine, such as the newly unemployed General David Petraeus. Since each new COD game is basically just an updated rehash of the last, what better excuse than to lazily revisit an old article and examine it in more detail. In considering the question of just how much more realism the producers can infuse the games with, I have come up with the blueprint for the next instalment in the COD universe. The following is a synopsis of the campaign mode for the upcoming Call of Duty Modern Warfare 4: Shit Just Got Real.

Prologue: Your Country Needs You

This preface to the action introduces your character, Buzz Q. America. Buzz is a normal, everyday, freedom-loving teenager from a dusty little farming town in Nebraska. Most of the objectives in this level involve driving a pick-up around town, bringing in the corn at harvest time, and beating up queers and nerds in high school. One day Buzz sees an advert for the military that tells him the terrorists want to take his job, his corn and his freedom. The next day he signs up for the Marine Corps, because Buzz will be damned if some pinko Commie raghead gonna come over here and take his corn. No sir. The rest of the level is mainly made up of filling out application forms in Buzz’s bedroom while listening to the new Kenny Chesney album.

Level 1: Basic Training

In this level Buzz goes to boot camp to become a fully fledged Marine. You will take him through various missions involving firing ranges and assault courses, as well as enjoying the more mundane tasks such as boot-polishing and keeping your porno mag hidden from your Drill Instructor.

You will also undergo a tutorial on how to correctly identify enemy combatants using factors such as robe length, skin tone and beard density. The level concludes with a bonus round called Kebab or Kaboom, in which you have to tell apart bomb-wielding Muslim extremists from harmless, jocular restaurant proprietors. Maximum points are awarded for slaughtering all of them, thus removing any element of doubt.

Level 2: A Man Needs an Aide

Before being approved for active duty you must spend some time as a General’s aide in the Pentagon performing various administrative tasks. Missions will involve updating the official Marine Corps Facebook and Twitter pages with encouraging messages for the troops, summarily shredding and deleting any correspondence between the senior staff and their mistresses, and most importantly, feeding Patton, the General’s goldfish.

In order to complete the level you must master the art of stamping forms in triplicate without getting ink on your fingers, as well as sending letters of condolence to the relatives of deceased soldiers without realising how futile their sacrifice is. As a reward for your hard work there is another bonus round called Game of Drones in which you get to pilot a drone into southern Pakistan while trying to avoid hitting schools and wedding parties.

Level 3: It’s Time for Africa

For your first mission out in the field you are sent to a base in North Africa to stem the tide of Islamic terrorism that hides cunningly amidst the famine and poverty in the region. Buzz has to decide which warlords seem the most trustworthy so he can sell them arms for their child soldiers.

You get your first taste of action here as you take part in a raid on a house in Somalia, killing nine people who were reported by your intelligence network as probable terrorists. The final objective of the level is to chant ‘USA, USA’ loudly on the return journey, keeping in perfect unison with your fellow troops.

Level 4: To Helmand and Back

Buzz’s second tour of duty brings him to Afghanistan’s Helmand Province. Here you will spend most of your time avoiding roadside bombs, getting pissed with the British troops, and wondering aloud why these damn ragheads are so ungrateful to have been given the gift of American democracy.

Another mission in this level allows you to sit in on a CIA interrogation and try your hand at waterboarding a suspect. You then use the information gathered to order an air strike, the targets of which unfortunately turn out to be some hungover British soldiers. The level ends with a morale-boosting visit to the camp by hip-hop sensation Rihanna, who entertains the troops with some of her songs. Your final objective of the level is to masturbate furiously later that night without waking your comrades, then cry yourself to sleep.

Level 5: Enemy of the States

Buzz is nearing the end of his tour of duty and is out on a routine patrol with his platoon one afternoon. You get separated from the others and decide to make your way back to the camp. Passing through some foothills on the way, you see a tray in the middle of the road with a steak sandwich, a six-pack of beer, and a copy of Sports Illustrated on it. Puzzled, you approach it only to feel a rope tighten suddenly around your ankle and pull you up towards an overhead branch. Hanging there upside down, you see a number of insurgents walk towards you.

‘Pathetic infidel. Works every time,’ says one of them, as he knocks you over the head with his shoe and everything goes black.

The rest of the level mostly comprises enduring horribly painful torture at the hands of your captors. As well as the physical abuse, the terrorists play theme tunes from TV shows like Cheers and Friends at full volume in your cell twenty-four hours a day. Eventually your sanity is all but eroded and you are reduced to a quivering wreck, rocking yourself to sleep in a bed of your own faeces as you try in vain to kill yourself by swallowing your own teeth, all the while singing along in a hushed frenzy, ‘Where everybody knows your name…’

At the end of the level you manage to escape after noticing that your cell is simply a hut made out of mud that can be broken through quite easily in a matter of hours. As you drag your broken body through the desert in a haze of pain, hunger and thirst, you think to yourself, ‘This really hasn’t been my day, my week, my month, or even my year.’ Eventually, on the cusp of a miserable and ignominious death, you arrive at base camp and collapse at the front gate.

Epilogue: War…What Is It Good For?

The last level of the game deals with Buzz’s recuperation after being flown home. The gameplay takes you through months of painful physical rehabilitation, intense psychological torment and post-traumatic stress, and the inevitable substance abuse and relationship problems that follow. Along the way you receive a letter from the military thanking you for your service and your sacrifice. You return to the cornfields of Nebraska a hero, and a husk of a human being.

Your final objective of the game takes place some months later. On a bitterly cold winter’s night, tired of the demons that allow you only fitful sleep, drunk with whiskey, and filled with an indescribable emptiness, you discharge your service weapon for the last time.

A map of Afghanistan and its mineral resources lies sprawled across the desk of a US General in the Pentagon. An aide drops a letter on his desk. The General reads the letter and sighs softly to himself. Folding it over, he places it carefully in a drawer that is overflowing with pages. He stands and gazes out the window in reflection. He looks down at his hands, then out the window once more. After a moment he sits down at his desk and goes back to studying the map.


Let’s Not Meet Up For The Year 2012

As 2011 comes to a close it seems only fitting to look back on the big news stories of the year and analyse how the world has changed for all of us over the last twelve months. However, that sounds really boring and depressing so instead I’m going to attempt to predict the major events that will shape the year 2012. And if there’s half as much economic misery, brutal conflict, tragic natural disasters, and television exposure for Jedward as there was last year, let’s hope the Mayans were right when they predicted that the world would end if John Cusack ever made a movie as awful as 2012.

In economic matters, the Eurozone crisis deepens even further in early 2012, with the pressure on Angela Merkel finally taking its toll at a meeting in Brussels, during which she tears one of Sarkozy’s arms off and proceeds to beat him and several other less important European leaders to death with it before she can be restrained. The outburst results in massive fluctuations in German markets as Boris Becker is declared the interim leader of the country for some reason. Commentators across the world are astounded at the move, and all agree that the end is nigh for the Euro. John McEnroe also gets a lot of air time on American TV, remarking that Germany “cannot be serious.”

Fearing the imminent collapse of the EU as we know it, President Higgins takes drastic action and decides not only to secede from the union, but also to declare geographical independence from the continent of Europe. The country’s legions of unemployed are soon put to work preparing the island for emigration. In late summer, after all the arrangements have been made, we set sail for Australia, only losing half of Wexford along the way when we hit Portugal in rough seas, which everyone agrees was probably for the best anyway. Unfortunately we have to return to the economic hinterland of Europe after only a month spent down south, due to people complaining that the weather is too mild to be working, and the milk doesn’t taste the same. On the plus side, however, we also manage to cut loose most of Cork somewhere around Angola on the way back.

Meanwhile in the US, Barack Obama is narrowly re-elected, with many citing the Republicans’ choice of an overly stereotypical candidate as the reason for their loss. Others credit Obama’s win to his catchy slogan, ‘Change we can kind of believe in after four years of not much change at all really.’ After dispatching both bin Laden and Gaddafi in 2011, Obama feels under pressure to topple another dictator before the end of the year. In December he sends a covert unit of troops to kidnap Kim Jong-un while the North Korean leader attends an anniversary feast for the passing of his father.

However, a full year in power has seen the young man balloon to epic proportions due to his gluttonous diet, including consuming over 80 percent of the country’s sugar stockpile during one particularly decadent golfing weekend (when incidentally he also beat his late father’s world record by 17 strokes). The tyrant is too heavy for the American soldiers to lift and they are forced to leave without him. Unfortunately all forty of them perish an hour later when their helicopter accidentally fires at itself having mistaken a passing seagull for a North Korean stealth bomber.

Wikileaks later reveals that the kidnap plot was simply a ruse to begin a ‘liberation’ of North Korea, after it emerged that an extremely rare ore that Apple uses to make the limited edition Hello Kitty carrier case for the iPad is found exclusively in the foothills outside Pyongyang.

The Arab world continues to suffer massive political and social unrest as its citizens voice their opposition to totalitarian rule via social media. Trending tags on Twitter for the year include #MarchLikeAnEgyptian, #Don’tBeATahrirSquare, and #Don’tBahrainOnMyParade. Unfortunately the Islamic autocrats strike back by creating a Facebook page called ‘That awkward moment when you get your hands chopped off for engaging in political dissent on Twitter’, which soon silences most of the protesters.

Civil disorder continues in the West also, with the Occupy Movement growing ever larger. Police in New York run into difficulties as the protesters on Wall Street build up an immunity to pepper spray. As the crowds increase and become more vocal each day, eventually the cops take drastic action. They erect massive television screens around the area and begin to air Kim Kardashian’s new reality show, which revolves around her eight-week search for a new personal trainer for her cat, O.J. The tactic works as the protesters dwindle in number, though the large number of deaths by self-immolation recorded mark a tragic end to proceedings.

Meanwhile the stock market traders have endless fun laughing at the occupiers. When they’re not busy burying dead hookers in shallow graves, or telling CNN that we’ve entered our sixth recession of the week, they spend their days throwing staplers and bags of substandard cocaine at the protesters from the windows of their luxurious offices. They even respond to the famous ‘We are the 99%’ slogan with a giant banner of their own that says ‘We are the 11% and we don’t give a shit.’ It takes them three weeks to realise their mistake.

The entertainment world continues to provide reasons to welcome the warm glow of the apocalypse during the year. The top grossing film is The Hangover Part III, which simply consists of the lads sitting around a breakfast table having a fry and some Solpadeine, and arguing over who paid for the taxi the previous night for an hour and a half. Lady GaGa takes an indefinite hiatus from making music as she is committed to an institution after turning up at the Grammys wearing Elizabeth Taylor’s skin. Though criticised by many, the look goes on to influence much of Karl Lagerfeld’s acclaimed ‘Eau de Cleopatra’ fashion line that takes catwalks by storm over the summer.

Overall, 2012 is little more than another crushingly disappointing vignette illustrating the woeful state that the human race finds itself in. This time next year will see us looking back on even more misery and despair that has been heaped upon us by the ambivalent teet of the universe that we have suckled until dry and withered, and unable to provide us with anything but empty hopes and crushed dreams. On the plus side though, the new Batman film turns out to be awesome, so it all balances out really.


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.