Letters: defending Wolverine, Heat, Blade Runner, Doctor Who

Our letters page is back! Are we doing a podcast? Is Heat overrated? Are we mean to X-Men Origins: Wolverine? The answers lie right here...

Ah, you’ve been busy. When we opened our special folder to see what new letters have come in, it turned out you’d sent us loads, and that the questions aren’t getting any easier. As such, this is our longest letters page yet. Keep the correspondence coming – contact details are down at the bottom – and we’ll crack on with the latest letters here…

Four Questions, Not All Of Them Easy
 

Having read your first few letters pages, it appears that a good way to start is to spend a paragraph or so gushing about [nice things redacted] which then gets deleted out, and then to start mid-sentence. So, here goes: … but what I really wanted to do was ask you a few questions. 1. Why all the love for Heat? I’ve watched it a couple of times and I keep coming back to the same conclusion, that it’s a decent film, but not worthy of all the praise heaped upon it. 2. Why all the love for Blade Runner? I’ve watched it several times and I keep coming back to the same conclusion, that it’s a poor film, not worthy of even half the praise heaped upon it. 3. Being honest, when was the last time that an episode of Doctor Who really blew you away? To be honest, Blink was the last one that I watched and thought “That was amazingly well done”. Since then, even the big set piece episodes have been good, but not spectacular. Do you think it’s a sign of us expecting too much from it, that there are fewer big ideas left that you can have for the show, or something else? 4. We were having a discussion down the pub a few weeks ago, and we were trying to think of either of the following: a potentially good film ruined by the directing (not the acting, script, effects etc, solely the director’s choices of shots and so on) or a poor film saved by the directing. Any come to mind for you? Finally, For many and varied reasons, I’ve kind of got a bit left behind with the Marvel universe movies. I’ve seen Iron Man 1 & 2, Captain America 1, Thor 1 and Avengers Assemble. Which order should I watch the remaining ones to ensure that I get the best running narrative through them all? Thanks for ploughing through all that, Stuart

1 and 2. Ryan writes: I’ll try to answer both of these questions at the same time, since I think the same can be said of Heat and Blade Runner. Neither movie is particularly new in the grand scheme of things – Blade Runner’s 32 years old, while Heat will be 20 next year. As a result, it’s inevitable that the impact they had on release has diminished a bit. What remains, however, is their cultural legacy.

The influence of Blade Runner on science fiction films and videogames can still be readily seen today, and that we’re even discussing such an old movie’s artistic merits is surely significant. I’d say the same thing about Heat; like Blade Runner, it defined its genre (in this case, cop thriller) and has had a lasting effect on film and television. The Dark Knight and Captain America: The Winter Soldier are but two high-profile movies that openly reference Michael Mann’s film.

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So while not everyone necessarily likes Heat or Blade Runner (though speaking personally, they’re among my favourite films), they’re still worth admiring for their contribution to the cinematic landscape. Like all pop culture, they’re sure to be rewatched and reassessed for years to come.

3. Simon writes: For me, probably Day Of The Doctor. It really felt like a treat, and considering how buried it could have been under a ton of nostalgia, I had a really, really good time watching it.

Your point is sound, though (and the answer is not unlinked to the previous one): Doctor Who is 50 and a half years old, existing in a time now where there are umpteen things you could be watching, each of which is exploring new ideas and themes. 24, for example, is nine seasons down, and the last episode of that that blew me away was back in season five. I love The West Wing, but nothing for me matched the incredible high bar of Two Cathedrals, back in season two. Something doesn’t have to blow you away, I’d argue, to be brilliant, and the older we all get, the less blown away by things we’re likely to be.

4. Simon writes: Ah, a fair few examples, particularly of the former. If we were in the pub, I’d go through them. The internet’s got enough narking though for me to add some more here!

Finally: Simon writes: In the order they were released makes the most sense. So: The Incredible Hulk, Iron Man 3, Thor 2, Captain America 2 and Guardians Of The Galaxy. Er, I hope you weren’t expecting a more radical answer to the question…

Unofficial Doctor Who
The Tardis is surrounded by fans of the Catherine Tate announcement

Dear Den Of Geek,

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As a Big Whovian, I wondered what you knew about A Wild Endeavour that I have seen on Facebook – is this a real possibility, a pipe-dream or a scam? What do the team at Den Of Geek think? The ‘trailer’ seems genuine but the idea of raising money seems unrealistic – could it get BBC copyright? Wouldn’t it undermine lots of Who history? DWM and official sites never mention it so I wondered if you knew any more?

Best wishes,Karl Machin.

Simon writes: In all honesty, your letter was the first time I’d come across it. The BBC is tight on controlling who can do what with Doctor Who, understandably, so I’d be genuinely surprised if the project got too much further after it’d found out about it (the trailer has been pulled from YouTube for breaching Ts and Cs). It may yet be an interesting calling card for its makers, though – there’s lots of precedent of unofficial material attracting the attention of the makers of the official stuff, in a good way…

The Den Of Geek Podcast!

Hello DoG,

I’ll avoid the high praise and stating my [nice bit redacted, so sentence will now restart in an awkward place] it will no doubt be edited out, but be assured that there [aw, thank you, but we’ve redacted this bit too] from this first time writer. Oops I did it anyway [er, so did we. Sorry!].

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This question has two parts:

a) Has Den Of Geek contemplated the idea of starting a podcast? I probably already know the answer; Yes you have contemplated it. Can you divulge whether this could be something on the horizon or whether you had ruled it out completely?

I’m pretty sure you would get plenty of ‘backers’ should you need to fund it by the Kickstarter route. I would certainly back and listen to The DoG-Cast.

b) If categorically NO! Could you recommend any under the radar British podcasts that discuss film/TV and geek culture?

The reason I state British is there are plenty of decent US ones but struggle to find any homegrown.

Many thanks

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Gaz

Simon writes: This answer has two parts:

a) Yes. We even recorded one once, but weren’t happy with it. And given that we’re a small team, we had to choose between writing more material for the site, or taking time out to make a podcast. The former is winning. If there’s lots of demand for a podcast, then we may take another look, not least because on our ‘pilot’, Ryan came up with a delicious recipe for chutney.

b) Readers?

Defending X-Men Origins: Wolverine
X-men Origins: Wolverine. Coming in 2009.

Having read your excellent articles recently that looked back at the Highlander sequels, I wanted to suggest giving a similar treatment to X-Men Origins: Wolverine?

The reason I’d like you to do this is because firstly, I quite like the movie and always have, and secondly whenever X-Men Origins: Wolverine is mentioned in an article, it’s never in anything other than a negative light. A search through your previous articles shows similar bias:

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Gavin Hood on where X-Men Origins: Wolverine went wrong.Full synopsis for The Wolverine.Official synopsis released for The Wolverine.

Each time its always referred to as ‘disappointing’ or ‘muddled’, and yet your own review of the movie in April 2009 awarded it three stars, with the biggest criticism being the film’s poster campaign (incidentally, this was the same rating you awarded to 2013’s The Wolverine). I remember Mark Kermode writing that ratings given to movies at point of release do not always reflect the quality of the movie as time goes on and specific films are watched again and again. Some movies get better with age, some get worse.

For me, it got better. I watched Origins in 2009 and thought it was pretty good – it built upon what we knew of Logan from the X-Men movies up to that point and was faithful to them. Logan/Wolverine as a character was better than ever before and Hugh Jackman showed a side of Wolverine we hadn’t seen, he was vulnerable, scarred by years of war and by his mutant powers, and by what he did as a child. The supporting characters were good as well, Stryker, Victor, Gambit, Wade, Kayla, all had a strong presence and Logan’s interaction between them is well written and well-acted.

I went away from it having enjoyed it but then didn’t watch it again for another year, when I got a Blu-ray player and it was one of the first discs I bought. And since then I’ve watched it x number of times and still enjoy it – wish it was in 3D!

I know it’s silly in places, like the helicopter crash and the way Logan blows it up by walking away. It’s cliche-central but it’s a comic-book movie, and it’s fun so why be overly harsh to it?

And whilst I liked The Wolverine as well, I didn’t think it was as good. It disregarded Wolverine’s memory-loss backstory from the first two X-Men movies and Origins and I don’t think presented him as troubled, and as heartbroken as we see him in Origins.

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Anyway, I just wanted to get that all written down! I love the site and read your articles everyday – keep doing what you do!

Luv and respect,

Andy Pancheri

Simon writes: A really interesting letter. Now I have to try and do a really interesting answer to it. Bugger.

Let’s start with the score. Star ratings are a guidance at best, and a bit of a necessary evil. It would be remiss of me to say that every writer agrees with every score we give to a film. For me, X-Men Origins: Wolverine is a two star film, pushing three on a very good day. Today’s a Friday, so let’s stick with three.

I do think it’s a disappointing film though, and a muddled one. Also, I do think The Wolverine is slightly better (most notably in its first two thirds), although that has problems of its own. It’s little secret that 20th Century Fox and director Gavin Hood didn’t quite see eye to eye on Origins, and I think the compromised end product is testament to that. I think it’s easily possibly for a comic book movie to be dark, gloomy and remain interesting and engaging. There’s no shortage of examples. I found, though, that Origins made the character of Wolverine, one of the beating hearts of the X-Men movies, simply less interesting.

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However! Challenge accepted. We will add it to the list of films we take a second look at. It’s a long list – I’m in the middle of my Costner-thon at the moment – but we will get to it.

Send your letters to denofgeek@yahoo.com. Or write to Den Of Geek, Dennis Publishing, 30 Cleveland Street, London W1T 4JD. Please enclose a stamped addressed envelope if you want us to send you your letter back once we’ve read it.