Ahead of its third season releasing this year, what better time than now to look back on The Boys? It premiered and soon became a flagship show for the Prime Video brand. Its uber-gritty, so-called mature tone set The Boys apart from the mostly homogenous pack that is the mainstream of the comic book and superhero format. It was a certainty that expansions would be made to the world overseen by showrunner Eric Kripke, and Diabolical, the first addition to the universe, is a hit. This eight-episode collection is a hybrid of canon-recognised narratives mangled in with the usual outlandishness that we’ve come to expect from Billy Butcher and company, resulting in an easily watchable and equally entertaining offshoot.
Stagnation serves as a crucial part of Star Trek Beyond, the third feature in the rebooted Star Trek universe. It is not just the characters and their battle against stagnation, but the filmmakers too, who enlist Simon Pegg’s writing talents and the work of Fast and Furious franchise stalwart, Justin Lin, in the director’s chair. Not the worst of pairings, but the cracks are beginning to show. The strain takes hold. Let it ride. Star Trek Beyond is clutching at straws as soon as it begins without any real sense of who the villain is, how they’re going to patch over tragic omissions and where the story is going to take a group of characters that are now a little too comfortable for one another.
An already established universe behind it, Star Trek Into Darkness should have an easy run of worldbuilding exercises that can help further expand this J.J. Abrams science-fiction vision. No such luck. Meandering along without much to prove and even less to show for itself, Star Trek Into Darkness is an uncomfortably predictable piece with quite a strange change in pace and tone. Bumping out some of the more established characters and gambling on the introduction of Benedict Cumberbatch as a nostalgia-pop villain, surrounded by the fairly well-established new heroes adorned in roles of a bleak and whimsical past. There is room to grow into them for these characters, and thankfully, Star Trek Into Darkness does offer that in spotty moments of discourse.
Even with those thick, glossy atmosphere choices, the work of J.J. Abrams on Star Trek is far better than first expected. Having no love for the series that spawned it all certainly helps when engaging with what is, essentially, a remastering of the characters and varied stories at the heart of this installation. A reference here or there will go over the heads of newly approached novices to the Star Trek universe, but as long as the bulk of it is understandable, the threats obvious and the chemistry between the ensemble successful, then Star Trek will have no trouble appealing to a new generation. A desire to engage with that is quite difficult, but easily optimised by smart writing that rattles through the quick and successful portions of the Gene Roddenberry show.
Steven Spielberg, the directing journeyman, has covered nearly every genre one could want to. His foray into animation was not a necessity, but an inevitability. His work on The Adventures of Tintin was guaranteed a budget, a big cast and a bright future. There are few moments where we should feel sorrow for a lack of a sequel, but with the case of The Adventures of Tintin, there is room to grow the enjoyable notations that this all-star ensemble has to offer. But there is always room for that on a Spielberg project, or at the very least, there certainly should be. There is plenty to engage with here, but the elements we are meant to enjoy are far less interesting than the throwaway moments meant for comic relief.
To look at the impact Hot Fuzz has had on the comedy genre and how it blends with other popular strands of filmmaking, we must first look at the previous offerings. Comedy films were certainly in a rut, especially in the adult market. With American Pie dominating the American markets and wading its way through the channel, the home-grown products of the United Kingdom were, well, less than stellar. No disrespect to American Dreamz or Johnny English, but it was not exactly the cream of the crop. Still, there seems to have been some splash of thought coming from Johnny English, for it, and subsequently Hot Fuzz, realised that the blurring of action and comedy went hand in hand particularly well.
Whether it is a hit or miss, The Parole Officer introduced us to the big-screen efforts of Steve Coogan. Far away from the allure of Alan Partridge, he tries to shed the Norwich hero and takes on the role of Simon Garden, the hapless police officer framed for a crime he did not commit. There is irony in the sense that, the only way to prove his innocence is to commit a crime elsewhere, but it is not one that Coogan or director John Dugian are up to the task of entertaining. The Parole Officer concerns itself with an “annoying” character, his clients, colleagues and tribunal all agree on such a matter. People give him the stink eye, call him names and avoid his path for no particular reason.
As time will hopefully tell, being funny in front of the camera does not translate to humorous antics behind it. Such is the lesson to be learnt from David Schwimmer’s directorial efforts throughout, Run, Fatboy, Run. A glimmer of hope is present in the form of pre-Star Trek Simon Pegg, but that is to put all our eggs in one basket if we are to trust his efforts here. Suffering some sort of sudden panic, the cold feet of marriage, a baby and a house with a loved one is too much for Dennis (Pegg) to consider. Thus, his only option is to run from his problems, regret his mistakes, and win them back by, what else? Running after them.
I can’t add to the discussion or love that Shaun of the Dead rightfully receives. Its endearing nature has survived nearly two decades, and its admiration as a certified British classic is example enough to its charms, ability to express humour, and to comically repress the cliché narrative of the traditional zombie flick. Full of slight, sly references, incredible dialogue and a whole host of British legends coming together to make one of the finest films of all, it’s no real surprise that Shaun of the Dead has become a staple to the diet of the comedy film fan. Even further than that, though, the appeals of Edgar Wright’s first big-screen pairing of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost offers up more love, laughs, and giddy thrills than anyone could have ever expected.