04 December 2013

Humpday Musings: Elysium, del Toro, and Man of Steel .

Movies: Just saw Elysium the other day, which I'd not had a chance to see at the cinema.

I wish I had. Though the movie itself is nothing revolutionary and some of its themes seem to be a tad on the nose, I really have to hand to to Neill Blokamp, whose 2 movies so far (this and the great District 9) show a really great sense of art direction, which is something I look out for in fatasy/sci-fi movies.

The opening shots of favela-like slums in Los Angeles set the mood perfectly. Dystopian world, poverty, disease, unemployment. Many of them have come to accept their life, but others would dare to dream, to look up at the stars and literally see a better world look down at them. Powerful imagery, if unsubtle. I love the barrenness of Earth contrasted with the lush greenery of Elysium (even its offices are teeming in greenery). Perhaps some changes less noticeable to mist include the differences between earth-based ships and those originating in Elysium as well as the scarification that many Elysians(?) seem to have.

As always, Neill Blokamp's fascination with interesting weapons and equipment shines through and WETA workshop have once more outdone themselves deigning credible-looking items. The addition of cunning product placement, such as Bulgari watches, pesonal Bugatti ships and Kawasaki exo-armour. Really great stuff!

Though I found the characters somewhat one-dimensional (Matt Damon's Max in particular seemed somewhat flat after a great sarcastic start) There was much I took away from the movie, as a worldbuilder. And this is something i admire WETA workshop and directors like Peter Jackson, Neill Blokamp and Joseph Kosinski, who devote as much time to creating a beautiful world as they do to the storytelling (if not more-so).

This in turn pushes me to try harder with my own worldbuilding, showing me where i might be at fault, or urging me to perhaps explore a part of the world i might not have before (immigration, exodus, diaspora and social inequality, in the case of this movie).

Music: I don't listen to much normal music. Its generally audiobooks and movie soundtracks/scores for me. I'm still obsessed with the Man of Steel soundtrack from this year's eponymous movie (The movie itself is another matter...). Hanz Zimmer has really outdone himself with this one - the percussions in particular just get me going and really help me create a rhythm with my writing. I find I actually write quicker to such a beat, though my girlfriend says I also hit the keys on my keyboard a lot louder too...

Geeky Stuff: I used to love Lego...

Let me digress for a moment and express my uter contempt for people who refer to Lego in the plural. It's Lego, not Lego's! :)

Anyway... as I was saying, I used to love Lego and experiences what is known amongst the Lego community as my 'Wilderness Years' at around the age of 12, by which point I had already been heavily into wargaming and roleplaying for 2-years, and though I like to keep up-to-date with many Lego sites (the wonderful brothers-brick.com, being one of them) which offer a lot of great ideas for scenarios and machines, amongst other things. For instance, Mihai Mihu's Cuircles of Hell from Dante, which just got my creative juices flowing so much!

I hit thirty this year and think I might be getting my mid-life crisis a bit early. Amongst other (arguably far more important) things, I got an urge to buy a Lego kit, so ordered a Star Wars X-wing fighter for m,yself for Christmas. I'm looking forward to it.

I also got my my girlfriend to buy me Guillermo del Toro's Cabinet of Curiosities for Christmas. One of my favourite directors, I;ve been fascinated by his production journals for some years, enjoying them so much whenever they pop up in the documentaries on his movies' DVD's extras. I'm looking forward to that one very much...


  1. I've yet to see either movie, but I want to. Man of Steel is an oddity in that I usually don't care for Superman, and after Superman Returns got such scowls and razzes, I figured I wouldn't bother with Supe's movies anymore; but I was actually kinda excited about this one.
    As for Elysium, I expect it to be about as predictable as Oblivion (the movie, not the game) was. However, any movie that moves a worldbuilder gets an automatic thumbs up.

  2. I quite liked superman returns (brandon Routh, rather than the movie to be honest), though Man of Steel was much darker, if that's the right term. Nolan's influence is quite blatant though that's no bad thing. The end was quite divisive amongst fans though.

    I think the comparison between Oblivion and Elysium is quite fair - both gorgeous to look at but with quite tame plots/characters.

  3. Hey there, I just stumbled on your blog and have been enjoying it. I'm in the process of reading Dante's Inferno and just in general getting back into fantasy. I'm really interested in reading your book! Is there anyway that I can get my hands on it?

  4. Hi thanks! I'm a big fan of Dante's Inferno and think it's influenced my writing quite a bit, particularly in reference to the region of my world known as Carceri, which is a near-world-spanning crypt/dungeon/cavern hollowed out by hand, which contains many horrors similar to Dante' inferno.

    Regarding the book, neither volume is fit for reading, unless you want to go insane through typo's and repeated descriptions. the first volume is closer to completion - with just one last draft pending. The 2nd volume is still half-way through the first-draft, so a while off from being finished, though i might post up something from it soon to see what people think about it.

    thanks for the interest!