Tag Archives: children

Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies part III

Episode 3: the recycling of the film

The remake. I feel like I need to get a few things straight before I dive in. There is a film I must leave at the door and not mention again. To do so would make me swear (something I do very often but have tried not to do on this blog). It is a film that I loved as a child which had the ever awesome Gene Wilder as the star. Willie Wonka and the chocolate factory (1971) was remade horrifically. Even worse than that, it was done by a director I love and a star whose acting I admire. I will just leave it there.

The Italian job is a tough one for me. The original film is iconic in both its stars and script. It is one of those films that have seeped into everyday language with sayings that are very recognisable as having come from the film. I watched the original as a kid and loved the car chases and action. As an adult I still love those things but the dialogue is clever and witty and has further endeared the film to me. The new version is a pretty good film but lacks a certain something, certain flair, a leading man that is both charismatic and funny. If the new film had not been called the Italian job then I think I may have liked it more. Having said that, if it hadn’t been called the Italian job then people would have called it an Italian job rip off. Lose, lose I suppose.

Ocean’s eleven, what a great film. The remake I mean, not the original. The original was way before my time but I can see it has certain charms. You can tell that the people on screen are friends and that the story is meant to show off this chemistry. The new film needed to have a cast capable of standing up to rat pack comparisons, and it didn’t disappoint. Even the bit part players are Hollywood openers! I think though for me, the best part of the film is its intelligence. It’s increasingly hard to make a good heist film with all the casino technology in place, being able to get past it seems increasingly impossible. Not only did this film manage that, it did it in a way that was believable.

The remake of the remake.

The incredible hulk

I caught the original Hulk the other day (the 80’s one starring Lou Ferrigno) and found that when Bruce Banner turned into the Hulk it was pretty scary. In fact it was very scary. I then took a look at the remake, then the remake of the remake. The CGI is not very scary at all. I am unsure as to whether this is because I know its CGI or whether the original Hulk actually grabbed people by the throat and had to coordinate stunts. The last Hulk was impossibly big, didn’t move right and just looked plastic. The new films for me went on too long, had very weak storylines and the last one had a leading man who was neither big enough nor believable enough to be an action star.

I really hope this reboot craze stops with the new new Spiderman. It seems that ignoring the previous film has the advantage of being able to do whatever you like and start again. The problem is this: if the film was made badly then maybe it’s the premise that’s flawed, not the previous actors or directors. Most cartoons are best as just that. It takes a special kind of superhero to become a movie star.

My overall feeling about the remake is this.

1) If it aint broke, don’t fix it

2) Leave it alone for 30 years plus before a remake is even considered

3) Don’t re remake it. If it didn’t work once or twice, third time is unlikely to be a charm.

Take heed Hollywood, and tremble at the ravings of a 30 something semi popular children’s writer.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies. Part II

The film of the series (not the snappiest of titles).

You have to do an amazing job to be in with a chance of appealing to the original fans of the show, either that or go down the star trek route of actually having the actors from the series play the film roles. It worked well with both the original star trek and the next generation. As a real Trekkie (can’t believe that just got spell checked to a capital letter), I loved the films. Having William Shatner and Patrick Stewart on the same screen at the same time? Yes, yes oh yes. The same thing happened with firefly and the film version serenity (well worth a look) and the sex and the city films (not my cup of tea but the Mrs. loves em). They are recognisable characters playing recognisable parts and they work. Well, with the exception of the Simpsons movie. That was a real doh.


The problem comes when you transfer a TV show (especially a cult classic one) to film with a new cast. Basically, you can’t replace Mr T, Hannibal, Face or Murdock. Not if you want to tap into the original market anyway. I’m not saying the A-team film was awful; it wasn’t very good either though. I think the main reason was the original actors were those characters. Mr T is BA Baracus. I find the same with the avengers and the saint, and don’t even get me started on the new star trek film!

There is evidence that it can work though. Look at the Batman franchise. I loved the Adam West show, I loved the Tim Burton films (not any of the others though, why Arnie? Why?), I love the new incarnation. I think they are all sufficiently different, and no one actor really owns the role. There is no Mr T in batman (neither literally nor metaphorically).

I will finish with my 2 favourite TV show to films. It also strike me that it may well be because they started as sketch shows.

The Muppet show: I loved the Muppets as a kid and love the first Muppet movie. They took a sketch show of believable characters (albeit puppets) and showed us what they were like when they weren’t on the show. The plot is thin, the acting is hammy (terrible pun, sorry miss piggy) and you can see wires coming out of their arms. This to me though adds to the charm.

Monty pythons flying circus: An amazing TV show with a string of amazing films. The show and films are my dad’s era really, but I think they are timeless. My favourite of the lot has to be the life of Brian, if only because of the outrage of the religious community.

That’s it for episode 2: the return of the over opinionated bloggist.

Episode 3 promises the remake and the remake of the remake. I’m going down the Godfather route though (not making it rubbish, hopefully) and leaving a gap between parts 1 and 2 and part 3. Until next week.

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Sequels, Remakes and Trilogies. Part I

Seeing as this is, in part, about trilogies I thought I would do it in 3 parts. Which will be the best? Will part 3 come years after part 2? Will it have a prequel blog? Will I re do it in a few years? Will I just get on with it? Ok, here goes…

Episode 1: the Blogfather

I shall start with the Godfather. As I have said before, I came late to the godfather trilogy. It’s one of those films where the critics said you either love it or you haven’t seen it. I agree wholeheartedly. Part 1 is great, part 2 is epic, part 3 is duck suckingly bad. What happens with these great film makers? Too much time on their hands to write? Mellowed by old age? Just need the money? Part 3 could have been great. Instead you have a story of priests, borderline incest and a really dodgy hair cut. And In the end, it’s the fall from the chair that kills this great character. People may say its old age, heart attack, an aneurism. I like to think he has just realised what a pile of poo he had made and fell to his inevitable, but timely, demise. Shame on you Al Pacino. Check out the end of part 3 and you’ll see what I mean, very funny.  (Cheers John and Nick for pointing that out).

Back to the future is much the same. 1 and 2 fit so well together and have that rare quality of being able to be followed by everyone, while at the same

time making you feel smart for being able to follow it. It has hoverboards, skateboards, a cool car, outstanding music and is very funny.

Part 3? A western that is not a western. No car, no skateboards, no Hewie Lewis and the news. No thank you very much. It’s not an awful film but it has no place in the trilogy.

Two trilogies that (in my opinion) don’t feel like they have add-ons.

Star wars: my dad told me (I sound about 10 years old starting with that) that when ‘return of the Jedi’ was released that some people had the same disdain for the Ewoks that I have for Jar Jar Binks. I find this odd. I loved the Ewoks, I wanted to be Wicket! The point is that the 3rd in the trilogy was not as widely loved as the first 2. I think all the original films are awesome, but then I was very young when I first saw them. The same can be said to be true for the kids I teach and the prequel trilogy. One of them once said to me that the original trilogy was old and boring. All I could do was stand there, dumbstruck and confused, and mumble something about the youth of today. Either way, the films all have a flow from the first scene of episode 4 to the last of episode 6.


Lord of the rings: the first of these was a bit dull. I loved it (the whole trilogy) but even I struggled with the extended version of ‘the fellowship of the ring’. Unlike other trilogies though, they get better. Yes, I know it was Tolkien’s writing, that the books are amazing and that they were always gonna be great. I suppose that I was primed to like them, being a uber geek as I am. It is the only trilogy I can think of (and am open to suggestions of others) that ends better than it starts. Not that the middle one is the best, the last one is.

Thanks for watching (reading) part 1. In part 2, the film of the series. I pity the fool who misses it, unless you have something better to do. Then that’s OK by me.

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Insert clever name here…

What a year! It’s been a year of mostly ups for me and very little downs, I know how lucky that makes me and I am aware that I am in danger of becoming sincere and sentimental so I shall stop it immediately.

This year has meant 4 more of my books being published, a new website with an awesome name (www.andrewsbooks.co.uk), a rediscovery of my love of poetry, a virtual fistful of new apps for my phone, some great trips, an attempt to regrow my hair and a new found DJ. So here it comes, my best of 2011 list…

1) Poetry: I uses to like poetry at school and then I didn’t. It wasn’t a conscious decision I suppose it’s just where do you come into contact with it in your every day life. As I teacher I really enjoyed teaching it this year. The best compliment I got from a child was “you made me think about the world in a weird and different way”. Love it.

2) WordPress: I really like the WordPress website and the fact it is so easy to use. The disadvantages are that checking your stats is addictive, how many views? How many followers? I can’t help myself! The massive advantage is the WordPress app, it’s awesome. It means I can blog and add pictures direct from my iPhone. This also means I don’t drive my family mad by being constantly on the computer.

3) iPhone: blogging tool, camera, mp3 player, texting, making calls, sat nav, tv, Internet access and game console. Who needs a laptop? My favourite things on it this year have been sky go (I can watch up to 12 sky channels on my phone, including 6 movie channels), as it means I don’t have to watch kids TV all the time. Sonic the hedgehog is a great time waster as well, the mega drive version of course.

4) Squidge: what a great year for the Squidge books it has been. I have loved writing them, James has loved drawing them and proving house have loved putting them out. I think this shows in the quality of the finished books. Check them out.

5) Jaguar skills: a DJ who has been around for a while but is new to me. No one knows who he is, well they do but they don’t. Let’s try again. A DJ who keeps his identity secret. The best thing to do is have a look. Jaguar skills link.

I think that one of my favourite things though has been coming up with the names for the blogs. I’ve left this one blank so you can join in the fun if you want.

Have a happy 2012. Hope the new year treats you well.

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It’s grim up north?

Well no, it’s not. Having just got back from a small town outside of Leeds (Heckmondwike), I found it rather a relaxing experience. Yes the journey up there was long and full of delays, yes the M1 is a horrid motorway and yes, the boy screamed for a large part of the journey. But when you get up north certain things change for the better. Here comes my list of northern wonders. most of them car based…

1) people drive normally. Someone said to me the other day that driving in London is like driving in a race. I think she was right. I turn into a real arse in London traffic. I don’t let anyone out or in, I put my foot down when I don’t need to and I swear (a lot). Up in the Leeds area I was let out by a nice lady, in turn I let someone else out. I can’t remember the last time I was let out in London (and in turn I can’t remember the last time I let someone out).

2) crossing the road. Where I live you have a 50/50 chance of some one in a car stopping for a pedestrian even on a designated crossing. Where I work this percentage drops to zero. When visiting my friends, a young man (in a hot hatch sported up car with a very loud stereo) let us across the road and it wasn’t even a crossing. His music still sucked though!

3) the pace of life. People walk around up north, they don’t march. If you stroll in London then you get barged past more often than not. If you don’t run off the tube and to the escalator then you get pushed along. This happens irrespective of age, ability or what you are carrying (even if what you are carrying is a small child). I can’t see the need to run between stops, 20 seconds isn’t gonna make that much difference, you’re not that important.

So there we go. I really liked my visit up to Leeds, it was relaxing and rejuvenating. Will I be moving up there? Not a chance. I like the pace of life down here as much as my friends like the pace of life up where they live. We do like to visit each other, but as Dorothy said ‘there’s no place like home’. If only I had some ruby slippers and didn’t have to use the M1 motorway.

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The journey

Sorry for the lack of blogs the last couple of days, Christmas and all that.

I blog to you today from a little town outside Leeds, that’s right, I’ve gone national! Nothing to do with the books or author stuff, just visiting friends. It’s the journey up here that got me thinking about travel in general.

There are certain rules I tend to follow when going on a long journey. Wether or not these rules make the travel easier is debatable, although they do make me feel better and more in control. An illusion I am sure as I can’t control the roads or any form of time tables. So here are the rules I follow…

1) when driving, get as far as you can before you stop at the services. Even if you or your copilot need a wee, I go by the ‘one more services’ school of thought. I suppose the real reason behind it is the hope you might do it in one stint. This gives the driver (usually a man) a real sense of pride. Why? Got me there.

2) it’s ok to be delayed before you are in the vehicle. Delays at the airport are pretty good these days. Not that they don’t happen, that’s not the good part, it’s that you now have shops and pubs. Last time I was at London Heathrow I was disappointed that the flight was on time. As soon as you get on the plane though it’s a different story. 5 minutes delay in the air feels like an eternity.

3) don’t get false hope in a traffic jam. You are sat for hours, moving millimetres at time, fighting to keep as close as possible to the person in front in case someone pushes in and extends your journey time by 20 seconds. You feel miserable (a feeling made worse by a screaming child) and then the traffic starts to move. 10 miles an hour, 20, 30, 40, you start to hope, you think this is it, we are going, the jam has ended. Then 30, down to 20, then 10, then stop. You are left feeling worse than before because you dared to hope.

4) take plenty of sweets (unless on a train). I like a good Murray mint or a Wethers original. The worst kind is the flaky chocolate as you show up looking like you’ve had an accident. Why not the train? Sweets don’t mix with beer.

The other thing that really makes me grumpy is when the information thingys tell you to stick to 40 and you haven’t moved in 10 minutes. This leads to me shouting at inanimate objects!

May your roads be clear and your flights on time.

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Can you feel the Christmas presence?

It’s finally upon us, Christmas day. Food, Presents, food, drink, food, music, food, games and food. It’s the time of year to eat ‘til you want to burst, have a sleep then eat some more. I love it.

It’s strange for me to see the most wanted Christmas toy list that they seem to have every year. I like to think that, being a teacher, I am relatively up to date with kids TV, music and toys. Every now and then though I am reminded how wrong and old I am. So here is the top 10. Recognise any?

Doggie Doo, John Adams, RRP £22.99

Fijit Friends, Mattel, RRP £54.99

Fireman Sam Pontypandy Rescue Set, Character, RRP £29.99

Kidizoom Twist, VTech, RRP £49.99

LeapPad Explorer, Leapfrog Toys, RRP £79.99

Lets Rock Elmo, Hasbro, RRP £69.99

Milky the Bunny, Flair, RRP £59.99

Monster High Lagoona’s Hydration Station, Mattel, RRP £39.99

Moshling Tree House, Vivid, RRP £18.99

Nerf Vortex Nitron Blaster, Hasbro, RRP £44.99

Me either!

So then, here are my top 5 Christmas gifts. Time for a festive list…

5) Kid size pool table. This was an unexpected present for both me and my sister. The problem with this gift was my curiosity, that coupled with the fact that I’d had an early night and was up way too early. Basically I’m making excuses for the fact that I peaked. The size of the thing meant that it couldn’t be wrapped so I saw it. Sorry Ma and Pa I had to do it.

4) Remote control car. I loved my car, it was awesome. It was red and fast, and that is all I remember. I do remember wanting one because my next door neighbour had one and I wanted my own. He was quite a bit older than me and infinitely more patient, so whereas mine was straight out of a box, he spent months building his. I do remember that when he finished it, he drove it straight down the drive, into the road and a car ran it over.

3) A Transformer. I never wanted Optimus prime, I was always after Megatron, something about turning into a gun I suppose. Looking back at the original transformers, and the new version I suppose, is how on Earth (or Cybertron for that matter) was it a good idea to turn into a car when you could be a plane. If I had to go to war I know which one I would prefer to be. Anyway, I was told not to let other kids play with it unless I knew them, I ignored this, it broke, I cried.

2) A pack of tampons. OK so not you traditional gift for a man or boy. To be fair, not really a gift for anyone. Could you imagine on Christmas morning ‘here you are dear, I hope you like them’. Anyway, I digress. We had a secret Santa with the lads many years ago, the remit was under £5 and pointless. I couldn’t have chosen better myself.

1) A speeder bike (the one that works in the forest of Endor). This is a star wars based present and it rocked. Not only was it able to fit neatly in my hand, not only did it come with a full size Luke Skywalker (in full camo gear) but it also exploded when you pressed a button on the back. I still enjoy watching the video of that Christmas as everyone is sitting, eating and being merry and every now and again I would run past shouting (not singing) the Star Wars theme tune.

It’s a strange thing growing up as Christmas doesn’t hold the same appeal it once did. If I really want something now then I can just buy it. If I wanted something then I would have to wait months and weeks to get it. What it does have though is the joy of being able to buy presents. I do love choosing stuff for other people in a way my younger self just wouldn’t understand. May the force be with you this festive season. Merry Christmas y’all.

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The night before Christmas

Do you remember Christmas eve as a kid? I know I do. Not only did I want to go to bed early but I was ready at about 5 in the afternoon, even earlier if I didn’t know what I was getting. This though had a knock on effect, it meant that I would be up all the more early the next day. I was a slightly hyperactive child so when I woke up the whole house knew, and I’m sure it happened in the small hours more than once. I am also sure I am not alone in this.

Fast forward a few years, I am still very hyperactive, I still want to go to bed early but my parents now have a secret weapon at their disposal… I can now tell the time. They are now able to say ‘don’t wake us up until…’ To be fair to them, they didn’t choose 9 or 10 o’clock. If memory serves it was about 6 o’clock. That didn’t stop me and my sister coming in at quarter to 6.

Move on a few more years (I feel a little like the ghosts in a Christmas carol, the muppet one of course) and its my parents waking up me and my sister. Not because they have gone a bit mental and we have had to tell them to wait until 6am, but because we spent Christmas eve down the pub, and one year a club. I don’t think Christmas morning is the same for parents when they have 2 hungover teenagers.

These days we wake up in our own house at Christmas. My little boy is too young to know what’s going on, he wakes up at 6.45 most days. We will wake up in our house, open our presents (though to be fair they are mostly his), jump in the car and head down to my parents, where he will get even more presents (and attention).

I do look forward to the year, maybe next year or the year after, when he knows Santa is coming and gets really excited. I will be sure though to teach him how to tell the time and get him a digital alarm clock.

Have a happy Christmas eve, may your day be merry and bright and may all your children sleep in until a semi decent hour tomorrow.

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School dinners

Being a teacher, I have the opportunity to have free meal on a daily basis. If I wish, I can go down to the dinner hall (the same one we use for assemblies and PE when it’s raining), sit with my lovely class (no sarcasm there, they are an odd bunch but very lovely) and have a free hot meal. I never do this. Why? Here comes a list…

1) I get loads, they don’t. I get given enough to stuff me. I reckon it’s about 3 times as much as the kids. I know that they can’t all have massive lunches but it does at times seem a bit like Oliver Twist. “Please mrs meal time supervisor, I want more”.

2) the waste drives me nuts. Having said about the tiny portions, there are children who just don’t eat. They sit and pick at the food until no one is watching the quickly run up and chuck it into the overflowing food bin. My mum would have told them about the starving children across the world and then made them eat.

3) it’s not very nice. Sorry, and no offence intended, but it’s mass catering made with ingredients from the lowest bidder. If your looking for quality then you have to pay for it and no parent would pay £5 a day for school dinners, at least not in the area I work.

4) the custard hug. This is the worst! Basically it’s a big hug from one of the younger kids who have just finished their pudding. Your jumper, shirt or cardigan is then covered in whatever is still on their face. At that age they miss their mouth many times a meal. The worst part is though that they are so cute you can’t tell them off.

5) they don’t do coffee. I am a teacher. I need coffee.

I do feel that the dinner staff do a good job with the products they get. I do also feel that it is much healthier than when I was a kid. Long gone are the days of thick chocolate cake and pink custard (imagine that on Masterchef) or of Jamie Oliver’s nemesis, the turkey twizzler. So it is better, it’s just not that great.

My favourite at school was the arctic role. Ice cream wrapped in soggy sponge, but maybe the memory of it is better than the actual thing itself. What was yours?

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There’s no encouragement to drink less.

I went out the other night. A very rare treat as I have a young son and a demanding and time consuming job. I had a really good night and had a couple of drinks to boot. While in the bar I asked my wife what she would like, I went to the bar, ordered my drinks and was asked the killer question… Would you like an extra measure/shot for only 60 pence. I of course said yes. I went back and gave my wife a much larger drink than she had asked for, explaining that it wasn’t much more money. She turned to me, thanked me and said “they never encourage you to drink less”. It struck me that in our health conscious world surely they shouldn’t be promoting more alcohol. Surely they should make it harder to get drunk and hence damaging your organs not easier. This seems to me to be one of a long line of ‘more, more, more’ culture. Here are my others…

1) BOGOF. The ‘buy one get one free’ offer always gets me. I fall for it every time. Either I a) change what I was going to buy and get the deal or b) buy something I didn’t go in for in the first place. I once saw a man have an argument over cheese, he only wanted one block of cheese but it was on a BOGOF offer. The girl on the checkout was so perplexed that he only wanted one block she was insisting he go get another. The other problem is when there is only one left. Even though I would buy that product individually, and I really don’t need double the amount, I will still pick an alternative as I feel like I was being done out of free stuff if I bought just one.

2) cinema. The cinema meal deal is as expensive as a real meal. Seriously. Having been recently, I asked for a large coke and a small popcorn, the reply was ‘you can get a large coke and a large popcorn for only £8.75’. Only? Only? My dinner later that evening cost about £10.00. As an aside, I tried the popcorn, it was stale, I told the person behind the counter and she asked me, not her boss, If I thought she should do a fresh batch. Erm no thanks, I’ll eat the stale stuff.

3) Fast food: supersize anyone? Why should my blood have an easy job getting through my arteries? Bring it on.

I am yet to walk into a bar and be asked “for the sake of your liver, would you like to pay 60 pence less and get half the amount?” I suppose that wouldn’t make much business sense, just common sense. At this festive time of year I am reminded of Richard Attenborough in miracle on 34th street sending people to where they can get toys cheaper. The best we can hope for is an asda (Walmart) price promise. Come shop with us, go check every item on line and we might give you back 59 pence. Ho Ho Ho, Merry Christmas.

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