Browsing all articles tagged with Alan Sugar


Great vigilante, terrible beautician.

Like most people with eyes I was in awe of The Dark Knight upon release. To paraphrase the abiding message of Batman Begins, it elevated itself beyond the sum of its parts to become something much more rich and meaningful. In this case it was undoubtedly more than just a film about a rich nutter dressing like a bat to stop crime. And while its predecessor dealt with themes of fear and revenge, The Dark Knight dealt with escalation, both thematically and literally – using a broad canvas to explore, among other things, the impact of terrorism and how fragile humanity can be when pitted against the unerring will of a psychotic clown.

But with an overriding exploration of terrorism and its fallout, what once made The Dark Knight a transcendental contemporary thriller could also now confine it to a real world time and place. Like Steve Guttenburg, Chris O’Donnell or the word ‘Ninja’, some things are so indicative of a certain time that their addition is set to forever date the film in which they appear. Conversely, The Dark Knight’s predecessor actually featured ninjas, but holds up better, at least on a thematic level. I suppose ninjas follow the basic tenets of narrative: show, don’t tell, which would make sense because, like most people, I wouldn’t attempt to tell a ninja shit.

It’s likely that in a few years we’re going to roll our eyes at the prevalent themes of early millennial entertainment – like we do today with pop-socks or Alan Sugar’s E-m@iler – especially if it’s true that the death of Bin Laden has seen global terrorist incidents fall to 0.00%. This isn’t really going to help The Dark Knight’s legacy. And to compound matters further the film also features Batman engaging in levels of phone hacking that might have even raised a ginger eyebrow in the News of the World offices circa 2000. While this may have seemed like a necessary invasion of civil liberties back in 2008, it now makes the Caped Crusader look like a ruthless privacy-violating cock-end.

Still, tasteless invasions of privacy notwithstanding, The Dark Knight is undeniably superior entertainment and any problems it might have are caused by over-reaching ambition. Perhaps we’re so engendered by summer blockbusters that we need moments of levity, or the kind of fromage-laced dialogue that, when recited in the real world, would cause instant vomiting and/or a swift punch in the gob. Or maybe that says more about my own base levels of expectation. Regardless, It was a brave choice to make such an unremittingly bleak blockbuster. But it’s perhaps even more telling that audiences decided that this was exactly how they wanted to be entertained in the summer of 2008.

We don’t know much about The Dark Knight Rises, save for the recently released teaser trailer (below), but its voiceover suggests that it picks up some of the threads from Batman Begins. Whether that’s due to the fact that The Dark Knight’s themes are lacking in relevance, that there’s little left to explore, or because Heath Ledger is no longer around to pick up the antagonist’s mantle, we can’t be sure. But since the majority of new footage consists of Gary Oldman complaining in a hospital bed it’s possible that Christopher Nolan has chosen a new real-world crisis to explore: the one in the NHS . That would certainly make for an interesting rogues’ gallery. And even if The Dark Knight doesn’t soar like he once did, 2012 still can’t come soon enough.

What a gwaan

What a’gwaan?

The main problem with Robin Hood 2010 is not necessarily Russell Crowe’s accent, which veers from a low-rent impression of Fred Trueman from the Indoor League, to broad scouse, before taking a wrong turn up a Jamaican patois cul-de-sac; it’s not even the fact that by now Ridley Scott has been back to the medieval well so much that he seems to have caught creative leprosy from the water, and could theoretically direct a castle siege in his sleep (and probably did – lulz).

No, the real problem is the fact that when going for a theoretically realistic retelling, of what is quite clearly bollocks, they decided to cast Russell Crowe. Now, suspension of disbelief plays a large part in any cinematic entertainment but when you have someone who is in medieval terms, and putting it as politely as possible, is not so much reaching his twilight years as wondering where the light’s gone, playing a common archer you can’t help but feel that he’s perhaps been kept back in the ‘special group’ for a few years.

If archery were studied at degree level, you get the impression that Russell Crowe’s character is about to take his attempt at an NVQ into double figures. Then again, he’s really good with a bow and arrow, so maybe he’s only recently taken it up, like old people who volunteer for work in their retirement. That would make sense I suppose.

Digressions aside, I kind of enjoyed the film, despite the age and accent of the lead, the fact that the merry men’s personalities were so interchangeable they were more like a bearded hydra, obsessed with ale, song and wenchery; despite the ride of the midget army at the end – and basically, the end itself.

I think if the problems of the film are symptomatic of anything it’s when the major creative forces on a film are allowed to do whatever they want, because, short of hiring a music video director, there is no surer way of creating a cinematic shark sandwich.

Of course the example of this phenomena that’s so text book it should be given its own ‘ism’, is George Lucas, whose ‘Lucasism’ was to return from a 20 year directorial break with The Phantom Menace. By producing Howard the Duck and not a lot else in the interim, he wasn’t spending all this time working on the script and VFX, he was essentially taking an extended gap year – though I’ve had friends spend a single gap year more productively, and all they did was blow up a cow with a rocket launcher and investigate the lady-boy paradox before (or maybe after) going mental.

Another, more tragic case of Lucasi-sm is Peter Jackson, who not only managed to make elves cool but also broke the curse of the third part of a trilogy being total balls and helping to create one of the best visual effects of all time: Orlando Bloom appearing to have screen presence. But when he’s earned the right to do whatever he wished, he came back with King Kong, which despite being half-decent, was needlessly over-long and featured a dinosaur chase sequence that was so poor, it appeared to have been created using the world’s largest treadmill and the processing muscle of a computer bearing Alan Sugar’s company logo.

Following Gladiator, Ridley and Russell’s return must have seemed as impressive on paper as it is in alliteration. And with a reputation of assaulting workers in the service industry, what would Crowe do to a well-paid film producer were they to dare suggest that Robin Hood probably didn’t sound like Bubbler Ranx in a Lilt advert?

Now I’m not suggesting that film producers should solely have their way, but if the creative forces can be reigned in by money men with occasional interjections of common sense then we may get more enjoyable films. But with news of Mafia Wars and Ice Road Truckers films being green-lit then perhaps common sense, as a commodity in Hollywood, is rarer than finding the word ‘good’ in their eventual reviews.