The Purge: Election Year

The Purge: Election Year

The Purge was an original idea a few years back but didn’t really deliver on its initial promise. Not so much about The Purge itself, the film chose instead to focus on one particular family as they attempted to survive the night.

Second in the series, The Purge: Anarchy gave us slightly more in terms of actual Purging but still failed to live up to the masked-villain filled images used to promote the series. Another negative has been the attempted cultural commentary which has been pretty heavy-handed so far and that doesn’t bode well for a story based around Election Year!

A quick history lesson in case this is your first Purge…

Basically, once a year, all crime is legal for twelve hours; it’s government sanctioned and enjoyed by a diverse cross-section of society. Some get tooled-up and head out, others barricade their homes and count down the hours until sunrise.

2016’s Election Year sees a larger uprising against the annual Purge, centred around the aforementioned running campaign. This time stakes are up as exemptions have been lifted on going after government officials – something that was previously off-limits.

The story remains fairly straightforward – a Senator must survive the night in order to win the Presidency and eliminate the evil of The Purge once and for all. Protected by Leo (Frank Grills), who has Purging previous having lost his son and sought retribution during The Purge: Anarchy, Charlie (Elizabeth Mitchell) wants to make it to the White House legitimately and tackle the injustice of The Purge when she gets there. Charlie also has history on the night of Halloween for adults, surviving the massacre of her family 18 years previous.

Now, on to that social commentary…

Election Year presents us with Charlie – a female presidential candidate who is standing up for what is right and has the support of minority groups, the rise of Purge tourism (aka. immigrants arriving in America to enjoy its righteous benefits!) and streets overrun with a whole bunch of blood-thirsty George Washington’s. Some racial tension is thrown into the mix and, all things considered, you would be forgiven for thinking the context of the film was fairly current. Problem is, it doesn’t really say anything…

Like its predecessors, The Purge: Election Year has some really cool imagery, a half-developed story and some clumsy scripting / rhetoric. The action scenes are fun and there are a couple of characters worth buying-into but, on the whole and considering the series is now three films deep, The Purge is still struggling to hit its stride.

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Batman: The Killing Joke

batman the killing joke
1988’s Batman: The Killing Joke is up there with my favourite comic books of all time. It centres on  The Joker, my number one fictional villain / continual style icon, and is a perfect mix of dark themes and striking imagery.

Last years announcement that it was being given the animated treatment was met with the usual initial excitement before the harsh realisation that there was almost no chance they would do it justice.

This was tempered slightly on hearing that Mark Hamill was on-board. Having previously retired as the voice of The Joker, Hamill agreed to a comeback only for The Killing Joke. Given Hamill’s return to prominence as a result of Star Wars: The Force Awakens, the studio green-lit the project; an adaptation that’s been started and abandoned more times than my attempt to watch Batman v Superman.

The film begins with a weak twenty minute filler, impressing the importance of Batgirl on the audience while also working to hide the fact that The Killing Joke is actually pretty short! It leaves you wondering where the Clown Prince of Crime is hiding and has no real bearing on the remainder of the story. It’s a bad start.

From there, things play out pretty straight to the original tale, everybody struggles with inner-turmoil and nothing resolves itself in the end (well, depending on your interpretation it that is). The added pieces of dialogue are a bit cliche in places but the animation is faithful to Brian Bolland’s and the voice acting is strong throughout.

Given the fact an ‘R’ rating was accepted by producers, and that this is one of the more challenging Batman stories, The Killing Joke ends up a disappointingly standard retelling that lacks personality and shy’s away from the adult themes and darker tones. Batman: The Killing Joke is fun for fans  but doesn’t push the bar or add anything to new to the long running feud between DC’s two greatest adversaries.

What did you think of Batman: The Killing Joke? Who is your favourite comic book villain?

Let me know on Twitter or in the comments section below…

Poster Credit

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4DX arrives in Glasgow with Suicide Squad…

4DX Glasgow Suicide Squad

Tonight was the launch of 4DX at Cineworld Renfrew Street, the first screen of its kind in Scotland.

4DX, in case you don’t know, is a technology that ‘allows a motion picture presentation to be augmented with environmental effects such as seat motion, wind, rain, fog, lights, and scents along with the standard video and audio’.

I found out we were going a few weeks back but Cineworld were tight-lipped about what movie we were to see. The date stuck in my mind as the day before Suicide Squad was due for release. Thinking that, with midnight showings scheduled for the same evening, the film MUST BE IN THE BUILDING – surely it was the surprise screening?!

However, worried that we may have to struggle through Absolutely Fabulous: The Movie with sprayings of cheap perfume and cigarette smoke, or Bridget Jones’ Baby with flying placenta and an air of mid-life crisis, I was over the moon to learn that the launch of 4DX was going to be with Suicide Squad.

First things first, the 4DX experience is excellent, adding a real dimension of fun to the cinema-going experience. It strikes a strong balance of augmenting a film rather than being the main attraction itself – fingers crossed we see some classics given the treatment alongside upcoming new releases.

So, on to the film itself….

4DX Glasgow Suicide Squad

It’s not brilliant – not as good as I had hoped anyway. Sure, Will Smith and Margot Robbie are great and their characters drive the movie for the majority of its running time but the film SERIOUSLY lacks a decent villain and the story (if you can call it that) is really loosely strung together with the sole purpose of providing screen time for the bad guys.

And that brings us to Jared Leto’s Joker. Admittedly, it’s near impossible to follow in the footsteps of Heath Ledger, Jack Nicholson and Cesar Romero but Leto’s slimy gangster is pretty weak, lacking any real menace or screen presence. It’s a huge anti-climax considering the reports of his ‘method acting’ and tormenting of colleagues. I’d be absolutely raging if I’d been subjected to soiled Playboys and used condoms for him to inspire such a meek performance.

On the plus side, the soundtrack is AMAZING! Like the perfect Spotify playlist with everything from Creedence Clearwater Revival to AC/DC and the film looks stunning; a nice mix of comic book details and 3D effects.

So, in summary, 4DX is a lot of fun – Suicide Squad not so much. However, it is probably the ideal film to see in this environment. With the added immersion of water, wind and motion, it’s possible to forget how bad the story is and just enjoy the ride.

Have you enjoyed a film in 4DX yet? What did you think of Leto’s Joker? Let me know on Twitter or in the comments section below.

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