21 Mar 2012

A break from Angolia to Barsoon

John Carter 2012
An ode to Tim who thinks my blog is just film reviews
Edger Rice Burroughs the writer is most famous for the Tarzan stories. As a boy I loved watching old black and white Tarzan movies on TV on a Saturday afternoon.  They were exciting and full of adventure. Edger Rice Burroughs had the ability of capturing your imagination, of taking you deep into a jungle full of wild beasts, exotic native tribes, and lost civilisations. Tarzan is a seminal figure in literature, parodied, paid homage to and blatantly copied in various mediums and forms over the years.
Edger Rice Burroughs wrote many other works including The land that time forgot, and the Martian chronicles, also known as the Barsoon novels. The stories revolve around John Carter, a civil war veteran who is transported to Mars, where he fights monsters, wars and has high adventure. But while most people have heard of Tarzan, not as many know who John Carter is.
Disney has spent a very large sum of money (around 250 Million US) to reintroduce John Carter to the world.  What was it like? Here is a Synopsis.
In 1891 John Carter invites his young nephew, Ned Burroughs to visit him in New York . Ned is surprised and upset to find that his favourite uncle has suddenly passed away since he received the invitation. Not only that, Ned discovers he is the heir to his uncle’s vast wealth and many possessions. These possessions include a locked diary which only Ned is allowed to read.  Ned opens it to find that his uncle has a fantastic secret.
 After the civil war had ended John Carter, late of the north Virginian Calvary was an itinerant treasure hunter on the Arizona frontier.  While escaping some Apaches, John discovers a cave filled with gold and strange alien carvings. He investigates the cave only to be attacked by a mysterious robed man who appears out of no where. John shoots the stranger and takes from him a glowing talisman. Instantly he is transported to an alien world.  On that world he encounters adventure, aliens, and that on this world his body reacts a little differently than normal.
Queue Martian hijinx!
John Carter is a Disney production directed by Andrew Stanton, who has previously directed highly successful movies such as Finding Nemo, and Wall-E.  John Carter is Stanton ’s first live action film.  Taylor Kitsch relatively unknown to cinema viewers plays John Carter opposite Lynn Collins who you may recognise from True Blood.
250 million $US, a director who has previously only directed animated films and no a-list actors in the lead roles, how can this be good idea?
In fact is a great idea. The production value is fantastic; half the cast are cgi aliens and the interaction with the human cast is virtually seamless. This is important because it keeps the narrative flowing and does not jolt the audience out of the story.
The supporting cast includes; Bryan Cranston, James Purefoy, Mark Strong, Dominic West,  Ciarán Hinds, and the voice of Willem Dafoe. It is a strong supporting cast of character actors who invested themselves into their roles.
While studio has obviously spent a lot of money, it appears to be invested into the story, not just spent on the movie, if that makes sense. And that is the crux of it, the story. Great cgi, A-list actors and loads of money do not make a good movie if the story sucks (look at Clash of the Titans).
Andrew Stanton wanted John Carter to be true to the adventure stories envisaged by Edger Rice Burroughs. And if trying to capture the audience’s imagination the way that Edger Rice Burroughs did in his novels meant he got the science wrong, so be it.  The story is rich with action, unexpected humour, and romance. And I don’t necessarily mean the love interest between John carter and the beautiful princess of Mars (yes a princess), I mean with the romance of a grand adventure.
The low points of John Carter would be the performances of Ciarán Hinds, and Dominic Wests. Ciarán as the ruler of the city of Heluim and Dominic as the villain did not give as strong as a performance as they could have done in my opinion. I would rate both actors quite highly and of the two Ciaráns performance seemed the most stilted. I think they were more disappointing than bad performances really, but not enough to detract from my overall enjoyment.
Critics are completely divided over John Carter, some of them really enjoying it, others loathing it as a cheesy expensive mess. To me this is not a movie that critics will fall over themselves to rate. And the reason is it isn’t a grand experiment in acting or technical expertise, it’s not a dramatic work that challenges you. It is a story of swords, monsters, princesses and Mars. Also there are a lot of comments like derivative and John Carter is no Luke Skywalker, with out taking into consideration that these stories were the inspiration for a lot of modern science fiction.
I liked John Carter because it was an unpretentious fun story that fully delivered a grand adventure. Having read some of the stories I think it was a decent adaptation as well. I think, and hope that Mr. Burroughs would have enjoyed it for what it was too.
Seven Martian Monkeys
P.S. do not confuse John Carter with A Princess of Mars.  That’s dire. 

18 Mar 2012

Angolia part six; The F.L.A. and the Banana war

Civil war lasted in Angolia for around six years. During this time the B.L.A. would terrorise local fruit and veggie shops by running in and stealing all the Banana’s at gun point. Then annoying the public by throwing them into the jungle with shouts of “Be free my yellow non gender specific siblings!”
Dozens of people emigrated from the ice cream sundae parlour to the bakeries in the great banana split famine of 1966
Their reign of terror ended in 1967 when Madonna Patel,the enraged wife of Tiberious Patel, Fruit merchant, followed the masked revolutionaries to their bed and breakfast after one of their strikes against her husband. After locating their hideout she called the community constable who arrested them. The B.L.A. were then forced to work in the Patel's shop for six months soft labour, before being thrashed and deported back to America.
A Portrait of Madonna Patel who was give the bronze croissant for service to the horticultural industry
Alfonzo's war continued well into 1972 due to his continued absences from battling the army with sick notes and a medical certificate from his GP. Eventually his army was cornered while trying to sneak into orientation Week at Angolian University. After a fierce battle the F.L.A. was destroyed by a group of enraged boyfriends egged by their girlfriends that Alfonzo and his army tried to hit on.

Alfonzo himself escaped to a near by bar and being a complete idiot decided to try his luck again. Learning the lesson from the devastating defeat of his army from the first year student body he decided to try what he thought was easier prey.  He spied a young blond tourist in the middle of a fight with two women. Angolian historians have pieced together the next few moments. Alfonzo smoothed back his greasy dreadlocks and sauntered over the the women and uttered something along the lines of:
"Hey is this cat bothering you." The women told him to go away, and he said
"Hey baby, why have vanilla, when you can have chocolate. Alfonzo is the sauce." The women repeated their request to go away, but Alfonzo persisted.
"Hey baby, did it hurt when you fell form heaven, coz Aflnzo has not seen two such smoking angels before."
At this point the nearby Norwegian tourist, Oscar Erikdotterisen politely asked Alfonzo to leave the ladies alone. Alfonzo pushed the blond tourist over. "Alfonzo to the rescue, don't worry  there is plenty of Alfonzo to go around."

While there is some academic debate as to the cause of the death of Alfonzo Boohoohoo; some consider it was due to to the fact Alfonzo spoke in the third person when he tried to pick up women,  Others hypothesise  it was because he touched the women with his greasy paws.  Leading Angolian historian Francois Amelie Deville who interviewed the witnesses has the most accepted theory.  The two women were champion karate black belts who were celebrating a mutual friends birthday. They were both quite enamoured by young Oscars accent, and being both highly competitive were fighting over the tourist. Alfonzo's interruption, his violence to their intended paramour, and twenty seven jagerbombs drove the women past breaking point. The two women dragged Alfonzo outside to the car park and promptly kicked  him to death. The battle of Oscar Erikdotterisen ended the F.L.A.'s fight and the revolution in Angolia. 
The battle of Oscar Erikdotterisen improved relations between Angolia and Norway considerably.

13 Mar 2012

Angolia; Part five More revolution

The sixties were a decade of republics and revolution against colonial rule in Africa. But in Angolia the citizens were more interested in the cultural revolutions of the UK and the USA.In December 1965 Angolia offically adopted the Mini-skirt as the national dress. 

Angolian woman in traditional dress

 But civil unrest did occur. Disaffected members of the minority Frooti tribe felt that they should have a bigger say in Government. Alfonzo Beatrice Boohoohoo, fourth son of one of the Frooti cheifs stated that Cabinet was just made up of a “bunch of monkeys!” That traditionally Angolia was Frooti land, and that the original tribe was now segregated to a small village near the north east border of the country near a large tannery and a soap works. He demanded that he and his people be given 90% ownership of Angolian territory and complementary drinks at the casino.

Alfonzo Beatrice Boohoohoo and his entire army
He furhter demanded that he was to be made the minister of the treasury so the Frooti people had the same rights to be corrupt and rob the country just like other African nations.

 The Angolian parliament responded to Alfonzo’s demands with this statement :

“Yes we are a bunch of Monkeys, but democratically elected monkeys from every species found in Angolia. We also note that Mr. Boohoohoo is banned from the casino for insisting on wearing sandals and running up a tab, which was still unpaid. We further note that all members of parliament are paid in Bananas, and that Mr. Boohoohoo might not feel so oppressed if he got ajob instead of just applying for endless student loans, and hanging around campus trying it on with first years.”
Angolia's Parliment meeting over the new transport act in March 1965
Alfonzo took this statement as the motivation he needed. He made a general call to arms, and with his Brother Nigel and his sisters boyfriends cousin Tirone, he established the Frooti Liberation Army (F.L.A.).

As in other countries foreign nationals flocked to support the revolutionary cause. However to a bad translation of the above situation the only revolutionaries who came to Angolia were two dozen vegans from San Francisco who thought they were liberating Banana’s. They formed the Banana Liberation Front (B.L.F).
The B.L.F.

Civil war erupted in 1966

11 Mar 2012

Angolia Part 4; Godkings to Merlot and revolution

Sir Renoir Aubergine
God king of Angolia
1905 - 1946
 The reign of Renoir Aubergine God-king of Angolia was brief. His new policies of triple garlic portions in garlic bread, and all church communion wine being Merlot exclusively from his families winery caused great unrest in the sleepy country. 

The final straw was when he closed that little Tapas place on the corner of Bourbon and Gautier street for not giving him a complimentary meal for being God-King.
Edward de Scarlett
King of Angolia
1946 - 1984

Incensed by his dictatorial regime he was shot in the face by the direct ancestor of the Founder of Angolia, Edward De Scarlett.  

After the assassination of the God-King the country breathed a sigh of relief and Turkish cigarette smoke, and they promptly offered the Crown to Edward. He responded with a shrug.

Edward promptly established a parliament and made Angolia a  constitutional monarchy so he wouldn’t have to do any thing.  He then retired to the family estate, and ran his own pirate radio station.  

Peace reigned in Angolia for fourteen years until the sixties when all sorts of crazy ideas were sweeping the world. Angolia gained its own communist party consisting of five visiting students and a sociology professor from Yale. 

They were horrified by the Monarchy, the misogyny and the use of Monkeys as slave labour.

Actually the appalled academics were entirely mistaken in their understanding of Angolian society. The country had happily voted in the Monarchy as a they thought it was a classier form of government, the king had shown to be a crack shot and the Savior of Church, state and tapas, so why not him. Also Angolian Law recognised Men, Woman, Monkeys and Apes equally in all matters of law. The Monkeys and Apes became quickly annoyed that these foreigners kept shouting "throw down your tools!" because contrary to popular belief , Monkeys like working to a strict work schedule, and throwing their tools down didn't really seem a logical way of building a bridge. 

Angolian women also could work in any sector and be paid the same as everybody else. Except that most Angolian women were ridiculously lazy and preferred lounging around a pool in the latest fashions, drinking cocktails in the sun and mooching off celebrities.  They had bloody well built this country, it was their decade off.  Why would they want to work in an office all day when they could drink Mojitos by the sea.

Keith Safe
the Patisserie bomber seconds
 before his demise
1945 - 1963
But despite many attempts to explain all this, the students formed the Angolian Communist Freedom Army (C.F.A). and inspired by the likes of Che Guevarra, the C.F.A. revolted for the good of the people in 1963. They hoped to ignite the country to throw off the shackles of imperialism through extreme action.

On May seventh 1963 the C.F.A. threw a bomb into a Patisserie in New Noir hoping to kill the Bishop of Angolia and General Malcolm Umboto, the head of the Angolian army. The pair liked to share a crossword and a raspberry bun together before they started their day.

 Unfortunately the sociology students turned revolutionaries had little knowledge of chemistry or explosives so all they achieved was showering the two in jam and pastry. 
General Malcolm Roderick Umboto 
  The General Umboto following the military tradition of Angolia, was a four hundred pound angry chimp, he responded to the jammy attack by ripping the arms off the young student, ending the revolution in a day. The surviving members of the C.F.A.  deciding that Angolia wasn't ready for revolution yet left that very day.

10 Mar 2012

Angolia Part 3; Bogarting History

After Angolia just finished the after party for surviving World
War 1. World War 2 started. 

The Angolians found that British Forces and the commonwealth were fighting against the Italian East African Empire.  

Although culturally having more in common with the laid back Italians, the French colony was still miffed over the embarrassing defeat over the east African football cup, where Angolia lost 3-1 to the Italians. 

HRH Humphrey Bogart I
Reigned 1943-1944
For the duration of the war Angolia was known as the “Casablanca of East Africa.” this was mostly due to the fact the colony elected Humphrey Bogart as their King, a position he held for  two years before his film schedule interrupted his duties. 

The Angolian involvement of the war was limited due to their lack of reasources. But they were instrumental in the surrender of the  Italian Viceroy when they cut off the supply of expresso to Ethiopia. 

After victory in Italian east Africa the Angolian army looked at it's meagre forces, and lack of munitions and wondered how it could aid it's allies. The Angolians were not aggressive by nature, but two important reasons pushed the small colonial force into war.

The first was the German occupation of Paris. The concerning thought of the facist occupaiton would ruin that beautiful city, and with their vile censorship laws destroy the capital of culture, beauty and erotic literiture forever. 

The second was their natural desire to be included at every party. Even if it was a world war.

So the Anglians did what they did best. After negotiating with the Lemur resistance  of Madagascar, they launched a commando operation onto the Frecnh Vichy controlled island and did what they did best.

They threw the best party ever. 
The Angolian commnados in full swing with the Vichy French army

The Vichy troops were so hungover and dazed by the time The British launched  thier final offensive victory was assured. Sadly drunken Angolian troops on sighting the British resisited their occupaiton of French soil for another month.
After the war ended the prime minister of Angolia, Sir Renoir Aubergine was so inspired by Mr. Bogart's rugged independent nature,  he declared independence for Angolia and himself God king for life. 

France responded with the famous quote:
Désolé qui sont vous ? Oh nous avons oublié que vous vous êtes trouvés présent. Merde! Est cela trop tard? Parfait être cette 
Translated this was
“Sorry who are you? Oh we forgot you were there. Drat!
Is it too late? Fine be that way!”

And Angolia became the Kingdom of Angolia

8 Mar 2012

Angolia Part 2; 1700 - World War one

Due to the success of the patisserie, and the threat of retribution by hung over monkeys, the colony was secure from further attacks.

Governor Scarlet eventually returned home to Southern France to live out the reminder of his life in polygamy, writing travel guides for the local paper. 

The colony, popular with tourists both human and monkey had much to offer with a stunning beach and a new fabulous casino. Also the equal opportunity employment laws (Angolia prides it’s self on legally being the first country to offer paid employment to monkeys and primates) hired chimpanzees as bartenders and croupiers. 

Sadly due to the success of the many new cocktails and the fabulous wines, the countries history for the next two hundred years was lost as the country stayed in with a hangover. 
A historical reenactor

 At the beginning of the 20th century Angolia emerged from the dark scratching itself and feeling like a chocolate milkshake and some bacon only to discover  that East Africa was vibrant with war between German East Africa, the Portuguese and the British colonies.
Angolia being allied to the British but not really liking them much were left to their own devices. The small Angolian army was too small to enter the field conventionally so they developed hit and run tactics. These tactics usually involved someone running up to a German and hitting him before running off into the jungle.
Captain Hans Sheisshund

In March 15 1916 the German army laid siege to the Angloian capital city of New Noir. This siege was relived when the Mayor of Noir challenged the German commander to a “truth or dare” duel. The Prussian Captain Hans Sheisshund with drew red faced.

There was one more engagement before the end of the war where the Angolian army captured a small German sausage factory. This had little strategic value, but it gave the Angolian military the opportunity to throw around euphemisms about "their access to the best sausage on the continent" also "you haven't been conquered, until you have been conquered by our sausage!". The comments got so bad that there was a plea by Angolia's neighbours to include terrible euphemisms in the Geneva convention.

After the war as a sign of good faith Angolia returned the factory and promised to be a lot more sophisticated in future. 

7 Mar 2012

Angolia part one; The first colonial settlers.

Captain Jean Scarlett
1615 -1687

Angolia was formed in the 17th century when the mad French Privateer, Captain Jean Scarlett, sacked the Spanish city of Panama of an estimated 600,000 pieces of silver from the Spanish crown. 
After having a slap up party in Tortuga. Captain Scarlett fired his entire crew of hardened buccaneers and hired a crew exclusively of promo girls and a young seamstress from Port Royal of the name of Victoria Secret.  The intrepid captain piloted his frigate in a rum fuelled party back home to southern France. 
Unfortunately the new crew were not as adept at navigation as the previous crew, and instead of arriving in Marseilles for wine and medals the ship anchored off the east coast of Africa.

Although slightly disappointed The intrepid captain decided to settle the landon behalf of the French crown.
 Luckily the local tribe, the Frootis were fluent in French and Englishdue to the fact their chief was educated at Eton and then Harrow, receiving a MS.c. in Engineering. The captain offered to buy the portion of the land where he and his crew landed. But as the local tribes had just evicted the Portuguese from the area they had no intention of allowing the French in. 
The Frooti chief laughed and said to Scarlett “You may as well negotiate with the Monkeys for this land”.
Vervet monkey

So Captain Scarlett did.
After a protracted negotiation with the resident troop of Vervet Monkeys and their Chimpanzees allies in the mountains, the Monkeys sold Angolia for thirty muskets, one thousand Spanish crowns and twenty barrels of Rum

The Chief of the Frootis was incensed by the transaction. He  demanded that the Colonists leave immediately, “It was a joke. I didn’t mean literally.” he claimed.

But the captain and his crew were adamant they were not leaving, as they had just opened a patisserie, and planted some pinot grapevines. Also the crew were working on their tans.

The Frooti rallied for war and marched on the fledgling settlement. Although the tribesmen outnumbered the French settlers ten to one, they had not taking into account the troops of drunken heavily armed monkeys wandering the jungle.  The tribes were soundly thrashed after a vicous battle and the settlement was secure. 

The fledgling colony of Angolia was born.