Sky Fall

/*23rd James Bond Film/

Here is another installment in the bond franchise that continues to evolve its main protagonist into a kick butt punch whisker ruffian. It’s a 23rd outing and gushingly thrilling flick. But I shan’t give sway to tell all for my preoccupations lies elsewhere. Besides Bond’s troublesome childhood what viewers might find particularly interesting is the changing of some of the cast members nuanced at the opening of the film and affirmed at the end of the film as the curtain falls down marking the closing of this spy speak thriller.

Skyfall-007 (more…)

The Way Back

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The Way Back (2010) is a moving tale that reminds us that against all odds there is always a yearn within us to survive and reclaim our freedom. The epic is set during the second world war.
In a grand scale and stunning visuals it tells the tale of a group of escaped prisoners from a Siberian Gulag camp who traverses thousands of kilometres braving the Siberian cold, deserts and other obstacles thrown by nature at them to make their goal a deadly affair. On reaching China they realise that the Communist Ideology has reached that country as well. The third part of the film deals with mental constitution when it is brought to its last gear.

See Jim Sturgess as Janusz Wieszczek, a young Polish inmate taken Prisoner of War during the Soviet invasion of Poland
Colin Farrell as Valka, a tough Russian inmate.
Ed Harris as Mr. Smith, an American inmate.
Saoirse Ronan as Irena, an orphaned teenage Polish girl on the run from Soviet Russia who meets up with the fugitives near a lake. Just to sight a few cast members. (See wikipedia http://en.m.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Way_Back#section_5)

We give the film a flicking 4def points out of 5def points.

A Planet of the Six Legged Horses

Indirect metaphor

 James Cameron’s Avatar (2009 )can be considered as a part of a chain reaction response to the detrimental situation our planet faces due to carbon emissions. Its release follows hotly COP 15 (the United Nation Climate Change Conference 2009) a conference where the super-powerful countries, the developing powers as well as underdeveloped countries met to discuss and find solutions to the challenges brought on by climate change due to CO2 emissions.  The conference did not reach the satisfactory results on a global level in that the drafted Copenhagen Accord document was ‘taken note of’ and ‘not adopted’ by the participating countries. Not even legally binding countries to comply with it, the Copenhagen Accord document pledged that countries should keep temperature rising to below 2 Degrees Celsius. The closure of the conference saw a division between the leaders of industrialized countries, who were happy with the accord, and leaders of other countries and non government organizations who were opposed to it.         

 It remains to be seen whether the Copenhagen Accord will be adhered to in the not so distant future. The fact in this maze of power-play is that poorer countries will be the one’s to suffer from the results of carbon emissions, with Africa being at high risk

As a motion picture Cameron’s Avatar follows on the heels of works such as The Day the Earth Stood Still (2008) as well as The Day After tomorrow (2004) and to a somewhat metaphorical sense the documentary An inconvenient Truth (2006) by Al Gore.

 Avatar (2009) takes the phenomena of invasion and colonization to another level, which may be termed inter planetary intrusion with intent to dominate and retrieve by any means necessary what belongs to the indigenous inhabitants. In the film we see human beings invade a foreign planet with the intention to mine its precious mineral – unobtanium. If the invasion was motivated by acquiring a new and distant planet to live in due to the earth’s inhabitable condition (in the future) then their invasion could be justified, doubly so if it is done with the intention to coexists peacefully with of the original inhabitants of Pandora. However with the hostility of Planet Pandora’s air to the humans, their invasion is geared towards acquiring the precious mineral located deep within the forest of the Na’vi People – the indigenous inhabitants of Planet Pandora.  The Na’vi native occupation of the forest represents an obstacle for the acquisition of the precious minerals, to which the Na’vi seems oblivious or ignorant.

 I See You

In order to infiltrate the social infrastructure of the Na’vi people in planet Pandora Avatars have been developed to stand in for the humans. They are infiltrating humanoids that look like the Pandorians except for the noticeable five figures whereas the Pandorians have four. The Avatars have been genetically engineered to withstand the un-breathable air of Pandora which is harmful to human beings. When Jake Sully’s twin brother dies in the line of duty his brother is brought into the campaign to acquire the mineral of Pandora by operating one of the Avatars. Having being paralyses in battle, the commander who is heading this invasion mission offers him a surgery that will restore his walking ability.

After a haphazard preparation for Jake Sully to acclimatize to the control of his avatar a team is assembled to go deep within the forest of the Na’vi to do research and negotiate with the Na’vi – the Pandorians. Accidentally separated from the team in the thicket forest while attempting contact, Jake Soley undergoes an epic transformation, enculturation, acquire empathy and affinity for the Na’vi people through Neytiri, A Na’vi maiden who rescues him from being torn part by ravenous beast in the thicket forest. This leads him, through his Avatar to take sides with the Na’vi in order to stop the capitalist Neo-planetary looting that is launched.

A battle between human firepower, driven by greed, and aborigines of Pandora driven by self love and acknowledgement of nature as Mother God ensues. The Na’vi unites different tribes, defends the forests and destroy the enemy. As a reward the protagonist’s soul is transferred permanently to that of his Avatar thus reborn  as a full Pandorian.  

 There is no distance in the Universe

 There is a safety valve in place to cushion Avatar from becoming another cliché film dealing with apartheid ideology on a global level. This element is that the planet is inhabitable to human beings – without the use of oxygen  masks they cannot survive in Pandora; henceforth the use of Avatars. Avatar reminds us that in the universe all is connected to the ‘Mother Earth’ and we are all siblings and are connected to her. By hurting the earth we are simply inflicting pain to our selves in the long run.

 This, what the film teaches us, is the philosophy of self consciousness and that of our precious environment. It is with this message that one can begin to look around with a heightened consciousness, a third eye, an intense appreciation. Such appreciation will make us aware at all times that whatever we do to our environment affects all in all, this way our actions are bound to haunt us in the not so distance future.

 Avatar is a metaphor that sets the tone for the new age struggle, the fight to keep the earth habitable. This is the new age struggle; we ought to find it in us as humanity to coexist with our natural environment, to be conscious that our actions will always haunt tomorrow, a fact that resonates across cultures and continental boundaries. This is the bar that Cameron’s Avatar erects before us.

 21 January

 © Mmutle Arthur Kgokong 2010

 

Films referred to 

  1. Al Gore, A.A. An Inconvinient Truth 2006. Paramount Classics.
  2. Cameron, J. Avatar 2009. Lightstorm entertainment, Dune Enternainment and Indigenous Film Partners.
  3. Mostow, J. Surrogates 2009. Touch Stone Pictures 
  4. Dune Enternainment and Indigenous Film Partners.
  5. Derrickson, S (Dir). The Day the Earth Stood Still 2008. 20th Century Fox and Alliance Films  
  6. Emmerich, R.  The Day After tomorrow 2004. 20th Century Fox  

 

 

 

X- Men Origins: Wolverine

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What one must understand when it comes to a super hero like Super Man is that he is a super hero by birth! He is an alien, from krypton, he has traveled galaxies to get to our world and his existence is linked with the protection of humanity. His being an Alien outstrips him of human weakness already and endows him with mystery and possibilities of the unknown.

When one actually contrast Super Man with another super hero, say Spider Man for instance and you look at their gestation you realize that he/Super Man defies a case in point of an experimental went wrong which affects someone by modifying their genetic composition to the elevation supernatural power – the accident turned hero.

He is a hero par excellence but that does not make Spidey a degraded hero by no measure. Those grown on Super Hero fables know that most of the time the poor heroes finds it hard to fit in with the normal society due to their unpredictable tremendous powers and that they lead a double life. Interestingly enough DC Super Man Clark Kent is an alter ego of Super Man. In alter ego mode he must act powerless, he must portray weakness and suppress bravery and boldness but underneath that false portrayal there lurks a force that can shake the world to its foundation. In his weak state portrayal he is self control personified. Doesn’t Peter Parker signify the latter?

Spider Man on the other hand, to enter into existence, has to be stung by a genetically modified Super Spider in order to reach the state of a force to be reckoned with. He must evolve from being human to superhuman. In this sense then Super Man must do the reverse to fit in. Spider Man must learn to contain the powers at an advanced stage of his life whereas Super Man grows with the super force and learns early to manipulate and transmutate his energies and use them without causing harm to others and himself – especially the innocent.

The Super Man phenomenon is the situation within which Wolverine comes into being although he is still much an earthling. In the new motion picture which is a prequel to the X Men trilogy Gavin Hood takes us back to those defining moments of Wolverine as a child, the sprouting of his talons, his mother’s (thus loss of maternal element) and his fleeing from home with his half brother Sabretooth who promises to take care of him no matter what. Then Hood string us along in a tour de force play of time as the two boys grow up through decades of war and survival into men, immortal warriors; they go through the American war as well the two World Wars.

The discerning viewer familiar with Hood’S Tsotsi will be pick up similarities between Tsotsi and Wolverine in the scene where the boys run away from home after the pre-adolescent enraged Wolverine kills his father.

You will remember that in Gavin Hood’s adaptation of Athol Fugard’s Tsotsi there is a scene where the main protagonist, Tsotsi, in a nightclub is confronted by one of his gang members, called the Teacher/Boston, asking him why he loved violence and as he pressed on in addition with a supposition as to the latter’s violent behavior Tsotsi loses it and punch him repeatedly into a pulp. Perplexed by his doing and with all the clubbers looking at him Tsotsi runs away into the night and as he runs flashbacks of the time he ran away from home as a pre-adolescent are played out giving us an interplay between the younger Tsotsi and the older Tsotsi. At that point the viewer is able to appreciate the nature of the trouble man and later the narrative with furnish the viewer with more data as to the isolation of the protagonist and perhaps from then onwards the viewer will then be led to understand why he relishes in violence.

The intense emotional appeal that we experience with Tsotsi as he runs away from the club is also encountered in Wolverine as the boys ran away.

But in its full explosion the mastery of Gavin Hood’s story telling through motion picture narration here leaps forward in refinement in terms of the artistic heightening experience which touches one at the core of the heart. What am I talking about?

Firstly we see the boys seared from their mother as she accuses Wolverine of the murder of the father (with whom we deduce right away she had had an affair with while married), who has actually murdered the father that Logan/Wolverine thought was his. But then as his talon/blades (still in their keratin state) protrude the mother gives the boy a hateful look and right there and then a stage of isolation is set for Wolverine the Super Hero. He has transcended weakness through anger and by so doing unleashed a force that lay buried within him ever since birth. We must remember what Prof. Xavier says in the first installment of the trilogy: that moments of high tension reveals the super powerful force that mutants posses. This force may lie dormant until a sudden appearance given the necessary environment, which is usually retaliation.

But going back to Hood and the moment of the boys’ departure and fleeing from home. When the loose canon Sabretooth consoles Wolverine that he will stick with him no matter what because they are brothers – right there and then hope flushes in and it is this scene which sets Hood apart by numerous leaps from what he has achieved with Tsotsi in that scene where the hoodlum’ isolation from the norm is fore grounded – I am talking about his ability to capture our emotions…in the matter at hand only this time he achieves the same feet and more by using modern mythological characters – Super Heroes.

In Oliver Twist Charles Dickens achieves the same feat of rallying our emotions to sympathize with Oliver Twist when he escapes from the orphanage. We experience an almost similar heightened effect at that juncture where the poor boy tells one of his friends at the orphanage, who catches the sight of him fleeing, that he is running away from that horrible place to find happiness (fame and fortune). We immediately fall in love with his character and he simultaneously evolves into a round character – he is backboned. Such is the effect here with the boys as they flee. They evolve beyond just being mere younger selves of the mutant brothers into higher possibilities and that is what will compel us to sit throughout the entire motion picture narrative.

If my readers are not able to connect with what I am fussing about here I offer only one solution – One will have to see Tsotsi and then X-Men Origins: Wolverine to experience the heightened emotional tension that I am preoccupied with, even going as far as reading Oliver Twist for that matter or Athol fugard’s Tsotsi.

Wolverine is violent by nature when provoked and this is the Superhero phenomenon that he has to suppress in order to fit in the normal society. All the more Wolverine signifies humanities yearn for immortality. He is a prediction of future societies whose genes would have been modified to withstand cuts and acute injuries through nano technology that will accelerate healing.  X-Men Origins: Wolverine the Prequel to X-Men trilogy serves to show cases how he acquired his adamantine skeletal system and it also explains his loss of memory. These are provided as gaps at the outset of X-Men () To fill the gaps one will have to see the motion picture itself and delight in Gavin Hood’s craftsmanship.

20 May 2009

© Mmutle Arthur Kgokong