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Why there shouldn’t be a Fast and Furious 8

Now before I continue, first watch this.

Now, spoilers ahead.

That is how the 7th film ends. With a very respectful and well put together tribute to the late Paul Walker. Now I’m a person who really disliked this franchise. I thought it was a shallow and boring piece right from the first film. I hated what it stood for and that it makes so much money when other better films struggle to make an impact at the box office. But, even I found this tribute to be fantastic. When watching the seventh film, I connected with the characters and their family unit. See, when the film was good, it wasn’t during the chase scenes or fight sequences, it was during the character pieces. When Vin Diesel spoke about the group being a family, the humorous banter among the characters, the sense of unity when Hans died, and the final scene when they see where Brain really belongs. With his family.

Now when they were shooting that final scene, it was after when Paul had died. So the reactions from the characters about them losing a family member is very real. The actors were all very close as having been on the same project for a number of years. Everything was authentic.

Now you ask what does this have to do with an eighth film. This film ends perfectly. Some say it has an open ending, but it is also all wrapped up. Bad guy is caught, old romances rekindled and Brian returns to his family for good. It’s a perfect ending. It ends on a sentimental note. You can’t ask for a better ending. To do another film would do a big injustice to not only this ending, but to Walker’s tribute. How do you follow that? The death was something that affected not only the film makers but the huge fan base. And to carry on the series would be to “brush it under the carpet”.

Now I’m realistic, I know too well that with this film making $800 million worldwide in its second week, it screams for a sequel to be made, but from a critical point of view, there is such a thing of spoiling a good thing. Too many films ruined by studio greed with the dreaded sequel. Before this film the franchise resembled a line graph where the dots were forgettable films judged only by their box office performance. Now the seventh actually put some life into the film, took it out of the graph and into our hearts. With that, it would be a massive shame to see it go back to another statistic.

Censorship

Censorship is a funny topic, which myself I can only agree with some of it. It’s basically when some big corporate guy who apparently speaks for the rest of the world goes up to you and say that “you can’t release your work unless you take these things out”, reasoning is mainly because it’s inappropriate for the general public.

Another phrase I like to use for censorship is “restricting creative outlet”. Speaking as an artist, having your work censored, or saying that your work is “inappropriate” is close to being an insult. Yes sometimes harsh language and graphic scenes aren’t required, but sometimes they are to tell your story and fully represent the message you are trying to tell, and for someone to go and say it’s not suitable for the mass market because it may make some people a bit uneasy, well that’s why it’s there in the first place.

Ok, there are usually two types of films, the artistic films, made for creative expression, and those for making money and reaching out to a mass audience. Now I will agree that for the latter, censorship is important, you want people to enjoy your work without receiving any backlash yourself, along with making a bit of return for funding your next project.

Now with artistic films, they tend to get away with a bit more as there’s a smaller audience but for those gems that do get discovered and wider released, censorship can be a big kick in the teeth. For starters, the film WASN’T made for wide release, hence why everything is as it is. Also, all the explicitness (if any) is there for a reason, they all represent something. For example, swearing represents anger. Nudity can represent lust and feeling exposed. Gore…. er gore is a bit of an odd topic, I’ll come back to it.

Going back to the other side of film making, we have the swearing dilemma. Now generally only films above the PG rating are allowed to have swearing, and the higher the rating gets the harsher the language can be. But looking at 12A films, they all have “s***” and “b****” in them and sometimes even “f***” once or twice, but it does confuse me. I mean looking at the audience, the age that these films are rated at. Twelve year olds. Now come on, I bet that some of you remember when you were twelve, you were saying words a lot worse that “b****”. They say they censor the language because it wouldn’t be appropriate for that age. At that age, most kids are saying it on a daily basis at school. Now I know swear words are bad and we shouldn’t use them, but telling our kids NOT to use them, is not going to stop them, once the parents accidentally let it slip and the kids hear it, then that’s it, we can’t stop them, they are kids after all. But instead of saying that they are bad words and we shouldn’t use them, we should be telling them that yes they are bad words and we shouldn’t use them all the time. Now before parents bring out their pitch forks hear me out. You have to admit, there does come a time in our every day lives that a profanity needs to be used, like when you catch your finger in the door, or you get hit by a car, or you find out your girlfriend’s been sleeping with your dad. Ok maybe that last one calls for more than just a swear word, but you get the idea. I think educating our kids in perhaps using them appropriately rather than willy nilly could possibly be better than just saying they can’t use when clearly you just have yourself.

Nudity is an odd one. Over the years the BBFC has been becoming more lenient with it, I mean now you can show breasts in a 15. However the whole idea that nudity on screen as a whole is inappropriate is a bit odd. I mean nudity is generally used in films during a sex scene or to represent vulnerability and exposure (more so in art films but does come up in block busters occasionally). Now this goes into the whole what age is good to start teaching kids about sex. Now when I was in school, we didn’t start learning about sex until I was about nine or ten, but nowadays we have schools wanting to teach it when kids are aged from four to seven. Now their goal is to reduce teenage pregnancies and contract STIs, but a part of me is thinking that this could back fire in a way, but that’s for another blog. My point is, if kids start learning it this young, then shouldn’t nudity be allowed in say a 12 rated film? Probably not. Reason is to stop influential minds from having sex before the legal age, being 16, which is a good enough reason for keeping restricted to 15 and up, however you then get films rated 12 having sex scenes in it, not explicit but still there. Like I said it’s a bit of an odd topic this one, but if kids are being taught about sex and the human sex organs at such a young age, then it must be ok to a bit more explicit in a 12, right? I myself am a bit two sided with this one, there are pros and cons and can see there are viable reasoning for both but for the time being I think the BBFC are right about this topic.

Going back to gore… I don’t know, for me I don’t see the appeal. But on a censorship side I can see why it can be inappropriate in some cases, however that can sometimes stop it from being realistic as well. I mean think about it, can you imagine Predator without all of the gore, I mean the humans got brutally murdered and torn apart, I’m pretty sure there’ll be a bit of blood there, which is why I guess it’s rated as an 18. But when films aren’t even allowed that for being too gory and bloody, it makes me think what is too gory? I mean ok maybe Cannibal Holocaust is a good example of that but then we have films like Antichrist and I’m left wondering where is that fine line of acceptance?

In the end, a mass market release for a product that needs to make money, then yeah censorship is quite important, for a small released film that is used majorly for creative output, then censorship should really back off, even when one of those films does go for mass release, it was chosen for a reason, so just leave it alone. I know I’ve missed out things such as politics and religion but after seeing the length of this and the potential length of those topics, I think it’s best to leave them for another blog.

Tape Vs HDD

Right, this has been a battle going on ever since the emergence of Hard Disk/Flash Disk cameras. Time for a pros and cons blog.

Right starting with tape. Bad things about tape is the whole capturing process. In order to get the footage onto the computer to edit you have to sit there and capture your footage, which takes as long as how much footage you got. Tapes also take up a lot of space, not memory space, but physical space.

However, good things about tape is that it is a physical form of your data, if you lose your footage on the computer, you at least have it on tape as a back up. Tapes are also relatively cheap these days, a box of ten panasonic tapes (equal to ten hours of recording) cost ten pounds. With tapes, you can record continually for the duration of the tape, a function that is not possible with flash disk cameras.

Moving on to hard disk. Good things about them is that they are quick to transfer, small in size, you can watch your footage back the moment you recorded it, and reliable as in they won’t get stuck in tape decks or cameras. However, cons on hard disk is that memory cards are quite expensive, a 32GB card (equal to two hours recording at full HD) costs forty two pounds. Hard drives, so that you can back up your work, for 1TB costs at least sixty pounds. Also, if you are to lose your footage, there is no way to get it back unless you back it up in the first place, whereas with tape, you have a back up the moment you buy the tape. Also, after twelve minutes of recording, the camera will stop recording in order to prevent over heating (something very common with DLSR cameras).

All in all, they both have their own functions. Tape is more suitable for recording long events, something that needs continuous recording, whereas hard disk is better for film making as you can look over the footage as you record, something that is vital with film making.

A New Age: Social Network

A few posts ago I did an article on Google+, this got me thinking about social networking in general and how it has affected our world and how we as humans interact.

Social network websites first surfaced in 1995. back then they were in the form of simple chat rooms and blog pages. However, the website classmates.com took a different approach. The idea behind this website was to reconnect people with old friends they went to school with (sounds familiar?). The site featured two types of members, those were free and paid (more on them later). The functionality of the site was basically that a user would have a profile page and was able to find their friends through the directory and they could read and post on the community message boards, much like a forum. However, free members were not able to send e-mails to other members or view their profile pages unless they upgraded to paid membership.

It wasn’t until the late 90s, early 2000s that the next big hitter appeared on the market and that was friendster.com. It had featured similar features to that of classmates.com however all membership was free. People could view their friends profiles and message then at their whim. Another feature was “fan profiles” which was a way for celebrates (big and small) and local bands and etc could make their mark on the internet and get a following/fan base.

With the great success of friendster.com, two more specialized social websites were released the year after, those where myspace.com (the music orientated website where you created profiles and people could message on them) and linkedin.com (more orientated to business links, allowing people to fine employers and employees). After them a rival site known as bebo.com came along to “fight” against friendster.com however it quickly lost it’s impact among the other social network giants.

However all of these sites did lack one thing which was quite crucial and that was exclusivity. With these sites, people could look at ANYONES profiles and gain access to their information without the users knowing, allowing online predators to lure young victims into meeting them without giving away their identity.

In 2004, a young Harvard undergrad, Mark Zuckerberg released Facebook.com a new social networking site that initially started out as a college only website but has branched out into so much more. It very rapidly gained popularity and what made it different to all of the other sites was it’s exclusivity, you could only add people on the site and before you can see their profile they had to confirm that they knew you, making the experience much safer. To this date, facebook.com is the largest social networking website in the world, but that didn’t stop other companies from releasing any others. In 2006 Jack Dorsey released twitter.com a social network more focused on users updating with short messages known as tweets. It’s a really effective way for celebrates and companies to keep their followers up to date with what was going on, in effect it’s a new feed more than anything.

A New Age: Computers

Technology, a very key element in our lives. Always rapidly changing. But with this rapid change and advancement in technology we also have those that are being outdated. One piece of tech is the personal computer. Yes, what was considered a revolution in the early 1970’s is now being removed from existence. With the increased popularity of Laptops and Netbooks, PCs are losing their place in the market.

Back in the 1980s, PCs became the norm in many establishments including schools, police stations and offices whilst having programmes being developed for domestic use. It wasn’t until the late 80s and early 90s that it was the norm at homes. During the 90s at each household had at least one personal computer which was used by everyone in the family. As technology and demand increased throughout the 90s, more and more were being bought. However this did bring about the issue about space and where to put the PCs. This was answered with the Laptop.

Now the first laptop actually came out in 1981, however they weren’t really commonly used due to their lack of performance compared to their PC counterpart. But in the early 90s, their popularity increased vastly as their usefulness improved. They were compact, graphically their improved vastly and can be taken anywhere. Their performance were still inferior to that of the PCs, however this drawback was answered with efficiency. As time passed by and technology improved, the Laptop became more popular than the PC and by 2007, the Netbook appeared on the market, which was a compact version of the Laptop.

As time went on, the Laptop eventually got bigger, some even ranging to a 17” screen, and in effect they were more common than the PC. So requests for a compact version appeared, and the Netbook was the answer. The Netbook is a laptop back without the disc drive and are typically less than 12” in screen size. This is when it became clear that PCs are being written out of the market. With Laptops becoming on par with PCs in terms of performance and overtaking it on convenience, there is little that the PC is useful for. Even doing things like video editing, which takes a lot of processing power, the Apple Macbook Pro is a fine tool for this and does it exceptionally well, where as the Mac Pro may do the job better, it is targeted more at a higher level in the industry, hence the Macbook Pro being the more popular computer.

Even gaming, with range of Alienware Laptops out there that all perform quite highly, it takes the opportunity to take gaming with you. Plus with console gaming taking over the market, there is little genres of games that remain exclusive on the PC, those only being Real Time Strategy and First Person Shoot.

With all of this advancement, I predict that very soon we will see the PC slowly disappear and become an antique.

Nostalgia

Ah nostalgia. We all know the saying “back in the good old days” but nothing says that more than Hollywood these days. With the recent releases in the cinema and some others yet to come, it’s made me realise that Hollywood has really started focus on our nostalgia.

What made me realise this today is I recently found out that the original Short Circuit has been green lit for a re-make (http://www.avclub.com/articles/short-circuit-remake-now-in-the-hands-of-alvin-and,59998/).

Now Short Circuit was a brilliant film about a robot showing the humans their human side. Now without getting into all the stuff underneath, that itself is a good premise. And with the success of Short Circuit 2, you could say it made quite an impact. Short Circuit was released in 1986, I myself didn’t see it until the 90s (something to do with not being born yet) but it’s a fantastic film, engraving the image and voice of character Johnny 5 in the hearts of many movie goers. What Hollywood saw was potential to make money by feeding of that nostalgia. In terms of business it’s a pretty good idea. I mean 2011 alone saw a big list of “nostalgia” films. We had the live-action adaptation of the 1981 animation of The Smurfs along with the many comic book adaptations such as Captain America, Green Lantern and Thor. I mean even Winnie The Pooh got a reboot. Feeding of the nostalgia of the younger audience we have the next film in the Spy Kids series, Spy Kids: All The Time in The World, set for release August 19th this year.

Along with 2012 seeing another reboot of the Spiderman franchise and the film adaptation of the 1931 board game known as Battleship, I’m guessing there’s a lot more “nostalgia” films to come.

However, something in the back of my head is just telling me that this is all a sign that’s saying that Hollywood is starting to run out of ideas. I mean don’t get me wrong, some of the reboots/remakes/adaptations are brilliant, I mean Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is proving that, but it’s only so many times they can get it right, and so many more times they can get it wrong, Transformers is the perfect example of that.

That’s not to say that they aren’t making any original films, they are still a few of those coming up, but looking at the film releases over the next few years, I’m mainly seeing remakes and sequels and it really saddens me that Hollywood has to feed our nostalgia in order to get a quick profit. I hope that further down the line they start to take their time, and come up with many more ORIGINAL films and let the past be the past.