FUNNIES: Ray Parker Jr Theme Songs – (Key & Peele)

We’ve mentioned the very brilliant sketches of Key & Peele here on Retro Ramble in the past, here’s one of our favourite recent sketches featuring Ray Parker Jr, the artist responsible for the Ghostbusters theme song, a neat segway into our upcoming episode for Hallowe’en.

Back in 1984, the Ghostbusters soundtrack was such a huge success that it purportedly generated an additional $20 million to the films overall takings and made Ray Parker Jr an overnight star.

What’s he been up to since?

Check out the video below and be sure not to miss out on this fantastic opportunity.

REVIEW: Terminator 2: Judgment Day

Retro Review by George McGhee

Terminator 2 a nutshell: Ten years after the events of The Terminator and Sarah Connor is in mental asylum with no-one believing her story. Her son and the saviour of the future, John is a delinquent, living with foster parents. This time, two terminators arrive from 2029, one sent by Skynet to assassinate the Connors, another sent by John Conner reprogrammed to protect them.

No time to read the article?  Listen or download the podcast episode here!

The Terminator was a surprise hit in 1984, introducing the world to writer/director James Cameron and turning Arnold Schwarzenegger into a bona fide star. Taking 1950’s pulp sci fi themes (time travel, robots, nuclear paranoia) and infusing them with a 1980’s punk-slasher-film aesthetic.  

Cameron learnt his craft under low budget maestro Roger Corman, so he knew various tricks on how to make a movie look more expensive than it should. The film exceeded everyone’s expectations and earned over $75m worldwide (from a $6.5m budget) creating well deserved demand for a potential sequel.  Thanks to this success Cameron now had his pick of projects so he decided to tackle another sequel instead, Aliens (1986). 

In the wrong hands, Aliens could have been a simple cash in, like many other horror sequels – same monster, different victims. Yet, among the hordes of xenomorphs and gun happy marines, was Ripley, a scarred survivor wanting closure on her ordeal. A grieving mother forced to become a surrogate mother and protect her new child by any means.

Aliens was a huge hit, proving The Terminator wasn’t a fluke and with a decent budget, Cameron could deliver a blockbuster spectacle, taking a story in new places with engaging characters. Like with The Godfather Part II, it was a film many would go on to claim (much to the displeasure of Sir Ridley Scott) actually improved on the original film. 

Expanding the Terminator universe…the right way.

With Terminator 2: Judgment Day, Cameron changes conventions again. Damsel-in-distress Sarah Connor has become distressed-damsel-in-asylum and Arnie’s unstoppable killer now the comedy relief babysitter. Albeit one who will kneecap you to protect his charge.

It’s a smart move from Cameron turning the villain into the hero, but also a logical one. Arnie’s career had sky-rocketed since the first film and audiences were used to seeing him as the leading action hero.  One capable of defying expectations in family friendly comedies like Twins (1988) and Kindergarten Cop (1990) with both released in the run up to T2.

Cameron could have easily followed his Aliens template even closer and simply upped the numbers.  An army of Terminators get sent back to take out more cannon fodder. However, as the first film showed, with a decent amount of firepower or heavy machinery, Schwarznegger’s hulking Terminator could be stopped. So, how do you top that?

What about a villain who can’t be shot, crushed or blown up? One that doesn’t need any weapons, can assume anyone’s identity and runs like Usain Bolt? The T1000 is an inspired choice of villain that has never been bettered in the following sequels. Relatively unknown, Robert Patrick brings a brilliant mix of physicality and sinister charm that Arnie’s monosyllabic T-800 is incapable of.

Cameron had always wanted to use a liquid metal Terminator, but ironically, he had to wait for technology catch up with his vision. Effects legends, ILM (Star Wars, Back to The Future, Indiana Jones) are responsible for delivering ground breaking effects that still impress today. The film pushed CGI effects to it’s limit, though Cameron uses them to enhance the storytelling, making the T1000 a unique and very dangerous villain.

At the same time, it’s easy to forget how much stunning practical trickery is at play here –  prosthetic’s, animatronics, pyrotechnics or even some clever use of twins – check out the podcast episode where we discuss the several uses of twins and links with Gremlins 2 in more detail.

Raising the stakes

Much like it’s predecessor, Judgment Day deftly balances some chunky time travel exposition between some thrilling action sequences that maybe long, but the pace never lets up. In all of the key action sequences, Cameron cleverly dials up the tension before unleashing stylish action that still impresses.

The first big action scene (outside of the prologue) begins with both Terminators closing in on John in the Galleria. Despite the heavy marketing, the uninitiated don’t know which robot is hero and which is villain. Without any prior knowledge, you could even assume that Patrick is a human, like Kyle Reese.

Once the Terminators reveal their true colours, the extended action that starts with a brawl in a mall and ends in a thrilling storm drain chase. Following that set piece, Cameron gives us time to breathe whilst the T800 brings John (and the audience) up to speed on his mission whilst allowing some comic relief, as John realises the T800 must follow his every command.

“a fearsome mamma bear who’s willing to break a few bones to protect her son”

t2-linda-hamilton.w1200.h630-retroramble.blog

Meanwhile back in the asylum, we get to spend time with the original film’s lead, Sarah. Gone is the clumsy waitress from the original.  We now are faced with a caged animal!  She’s a fearsome mamma bear who’s willing to break a few bones to protect her son and prevent the nuclear apocalypse. It’s a clever take on the Greek myth of Cassandra, a woman who can foresee the future, yet no one believes.  

Main differences from the original

The first film used the exposition a lot more economically, whilst our heroes are on the run. Yet, considering how action packed the last 40 minutes of the film will be, it’s a wise move to allow us to spend proper time with our heroes whilst adding some emotional heft.  Whether it be the key scenes of the T800 bonding with John or Sarah’s descent into a cold-blooded killer, as she decides to go after Miles Dyson.

The scene at the Dyson’s is also a stand out for it’s chilling menace, as Cameron briefly returns to the body horror of The Terminator. It’s an interesting move for John, essentially a child, to instruct the T800 to savagely reveal his true self, but it’s certainly gets the required reaction from Dyson.

The third act is another brilliant example of tension and action spectacle, beginning with the Cyberdyne break in, which quickly turns into a break out, escaping most of LA’s police force as well as the T1000. The final chase again has echoes of the first film but the budget ups the scale considerably before reaching another factory set climax. The tension is cranked up until the very end as it appears the T1000 is unstoppable, the T800 is beaten to a pulp and our heroes have nowhere to go. After finishing off the T1000, Cameron hits home with emotional sucker punch – Sarah and John must also put their beloved protector into the furnace.

Is the sequel better than the original?

It’s a frequent debate between film fans, which is superior, The Terminator or Judgment Day? Similar to Alien and Aliens, there’s no straightforward answer. Both sets of film take the story in unexpected places, evolving characters and twisting conventions. Whilst I love, the gritty, no frills neo-noir chase movie of the original, I prefer T2 because it has a bigger story, amazing action sequences, humour and more humanity. Like many great philosophical sci-fi, the sequel dares to ask the popular question, “What does it mean to be human?”

Whilst the first film was a survival horror with a fairly forced love story, the sequel shows us the importance and complications of family.  A mother who will go to any means to protect her son, a hard-working family man destined to destroy civilisation and a boy yearning for a father figure. Amidst all the action, special effects, plot and character development there’s also a good amount of humour and just the right amount of emotion. John can be an annoying little shit at times but I always have something in my eye, come Arnie’s fiery thumbs up.

After several botched sequels, the rights to the Terminator franchise have ended up back with Cameron once more. Even whilst busy with Avatar sequels, Big Jim is currently crafting a new sequel, with Tim Miller of Deadpool in the director’s chair.  Arnie is back, as always and more interestingly, so is Linda Hamilton, as the film intended to be a direct sequel to T2. Will it be good? The future is not set…

Coulda Woulda Shoulda

Rock star Billy Idol for first choice for T-1000 but injured himself in a motor bike accident. Denzel Washington turned down the role of Miles Bennett Dyson

MVP

James Cameron – the man knows how to deliver a sequel.

NEWS: Stranger Things 2 New Cast Members

With October 27th looming every the more closer many people are beginning to get excited about what Stranger Things Season 2 will bring with it. For the uninitiated, Stranger Things is a show set in the 80s focusing on a quartet of bmx driving, fantasy savvy kids that discover there may be a connection to another dimension in their hometown. Things escalate when an unknown threat from the “upside down” dimension abducts one of the group.

Can Stranger Things continue to surprise in Season 2?

Here at RetroRamble we may mainly fixate on the films of our youth but I can’t think of another show that encapsulates films and popular culture of the 1980s in the way that Stranger Things does.

We spoke about its influences back when we reviewed The Goonies in Podcast Episode 6 and if you listened to that you will recall we mentioned that Mikey from the Goonies / Samwise Gamgee from the Lord of the Rings trilogy (aka Sean Astin) is returning in season 2. What role he will play we do not know, so if you are in the know please share and embarrass us in the comments below.

stranger things sean astin retrorambleblog

A more recent edition is he of Aliens and My Two Dads fame, you guessed it, its no other than 80’s slime-ball Paul Reiser. No offence Paul – we’re sure you’re a lovely guy in real life, but Newt was only a kid, man.

stranger things paul reiser retroramble

Paul is no stranger to playing to his strengths so our guess he will most likely take on the role of a bad guy, a good guy who’s creepy or a good guy who later turns out to be a really a creepy, bad guy.

We’ll just have to wait until October 27th to find out!

In the meantime, check out the cool Ghostbusters Themed Trailer below.

PODCAST: Ep8 – Terminator 2 (1991)

In this episode Charlie and George travel back in time (but not naked, that’d be weird) to 1991 for the action sci-fi extravaganza that is T2: Judgement Day!

Whilst discussing the genius of James Cameron’s original vision and why it remains one of the best sequels ever made, they also take a closer look at Robert Patrick’s privates and remember a time when tie dyed t-shirts, mullets and Axel Rose were all considered acceptable.

Featuring monthly features like Coulda Woulda Shoulda and more behind the scenes trivia than you can shake a liquid metal fist at this is an episode that can’t be missed.

Copyright Notice: All copyright material remains the property of the original copyright holder and all clips and audio samples have been used only as a reference and as part of a review in line with Creative Commons FAIR USE policy.

Stream or download all of our podcast episodes directly from any of these sites below:

Extras

Would you like to know more?

No time to listen to the episode and enjoy a good read then be sure to check out George’s full Retro Review of T2: Judgement Day here!

RetroRamble 2017

Check out this episode on Libsyn!

TRAILERS – The Dark Knight Returns – Part One

As referred to in our recent podcast episode on Batman (1989) here’s the trailer for the Dark Knight Returns animated film –
definitely worth a watch for any fans of Batman. (Check out the podcast episode here.)

Please comment and let us know what you think of the film if you’ve already seen it.

Available to buy on Amazon or as part of Amazon Prime.

amazon prime free trial - retroramble.blog

FUNNIES: Honest Trailer – Batman (1989)

Honest Trailers – Batman (1989)

Obviously, in our podcast episode we’ve already gone into great detail to cover our fondest memories of the Tim Burton 90s classic film but have you checked our Screen Junkies take with the Honest Trailers Batman video?

In our podcast we focussed on our memories growing up with the film. Why it endured extensive production battles to make it a reality back in the late 1980s. In a slightly different and always welcome tone, the Honest Trailer below is a great parody of Tim Burton’s classic, paying respect when and where its due.

Check out the Honest Trailer for Batman (1989) below or directly on YouTube.

PODCAST: Episode 6 – The Goonies (1985)

This month George & Charlie revisit beloved kids adventure, The Goonies! We jump on our bikes, head for the woods and go in search of what makes it a cult classic.

Everyone that was a child of the 1980s remembers growing up with The Goonies, like Star Wars or Back to the Future it seems like it was a mandatory rite of passage, forever etched in our hearts.

Along the way, we discuss the talent behind the camera including Steven Spielberg and Richard Donner, as well as our favourite moments, some unique spin off ideas and the films’ influence on recent shows like Stranger Things.

Would you like to know more? Read George’s review in full HERE.

Stream or download all of our podcast episodes directly from any of these sites below:

Copyright Notice:

All copyright material remains the property of the original copyright holder and all clips and audio samples have been used only as a reference and as part of a review in line with Creative Commons FAIR USE policy.

EXTRAS

 

Credits:

Intro and interlude jingles by Flick3r  http://soundcloud.com/flick3r

Brassy Horns –  http://freesound.org/people/klankbeeld/geotags/

Outro music by Frankumjay – https://soundcloud.com/frankumjay

GAMEPLAY: GTA V Online – Recent Updates / DLC

Grand Theft Auto V was first released on the PS3 back in 2013 so the game is itself quite retro to consider this worthy of our attention here on RetroRamble.

Despite being around for so long the game continues to draw an enormous online gaming community and was the 2nd top selling game of 2016 which is unprecedented.

Having being upgraded for the PS4 with improved graphics (first person views, improved draw distances etc) not to mention a bunch of impressive updates and more recently DLC (downloadable content) its clear that Rockstar not only had big plans for the game from the outset but also had the skills and in-house techies to successfully pull it off.

Rockstar, not one to rest on their laurels have released a steady amount of DLC and most importantly for gamers have done so completely free of charge.

Here’s an overview of some of the best DLC Rockstar have provided for free (for a full list go here):

  • Import / Export Update
  • High Life
  • The Heists
  • Bikers Update – Motorcycle Clubs
  • Stunt Series
  • Gunrunning
  • New Adversary Modes – Tiny Racers, Land-grab, Bunker Series etc
  • plus many more seasonal updates

GTA Online gunrunning 3 retroramble.blog

Obviously, if you want to get your hands on all the DLC has to offer and don’t have the hours to invest you may be forced to invest in the in-game cash they offer through their Shark Credit Cards. To be honest I think this is one of the fairest uses of DLC I’ve seen on the current generation of consoles.

Its for these most recent updates that we felt it necessary to revisit the world of Grand Theft Auto V, the most recent update Gunrunning has brought with it a host of new features with are most definitely worth a look. What’s great about these updates is that they seamlessly integrate themselves into GTA Online and heavily weighted towards players working together and minimising the load times – the only real complaint anybody could level at the near perfect game.

As per usual, I’ve compiled some gameplay videos – its worth pointing we at RetroRamble are only casual gamers and not heavy Youtubers so don’t expect any voice over or killer moves in these videos. They are simply an attempt to show some of the highlights these new updates bring with them.

Before we delve into these new updates if you’re wondering how else to quickly in-game cash one nugget from RetroRamble would be to get involved in any of the Rockets vs Cars adversary games which are a lot of fun and come with big payouts for the winning team.

Here’s a quick look at what to expect.

Gunrunning & Bunker Series

To get started in Gunrunning you’ll need to either be a CEO of a business as per the High Life update, a VIP with SecuroServ or the President of a motorcycle club. Each of these requirements cost cash but if you log in to GTA you’ll no doubt be rewarded by Rockstar with a cash boost simply for playing the game – its obvious they’ve recognised that many people who love the game simply don’t have the hours available to open these new features and not everyone is happy with paying for the Shark credit cards to speed up this process.

Once you’ve achieved one of the above you will get the option to buy your own bunker and once you’ve bought one of these you’ll be able to purchase a Mobile Command Centre (basically a rip off of the lorry that Knightrider used to drive into or more recently what the bad guys in series 3 of Fargo drive around in) see below.

Many players may be put off by the cost associated with purchasing these items, worry not since you don’t need to have them to enjoy them since you can simply team up with players who already have access before making your mind up.

Gunrunning – Dawn Raid Adversary Mode

 

Bunker Series – Bunker Series Adversary Mode

CONCLUSIONS

The result of these updates is that other players you bump into in the Los Santos may well have upgraded their SuperCar for a Armoured Personnel Carrier or Tank and you’re frequently offered the opportunity to take part in / or completely disrupt movement of guns, drugs or other nefarious items being organised by other players.

This new dynamic, not to mention the addition of challenges (mini games that don’t require any lobby screen loading to take part in) are a welcome move for Rockstar and something I believe breaths new life into the already proven game.

At a tempting £25.00 on Amazon and even cheaper second-hand, if you’ve not already checked out GTA V, there has never been a better time to do so.

Sir Roger Moore – PART 1

Following the recent passing of Sir Roger Moore, and with us being such massive James Bond fans, we felt it necessary to commit a short episode in tribute to the former actor/knight of the empire.

Sir Roger Moore Tribute

Here, in Part 1, George and Charlie take a retrospective look at Sir Roger’s career starting with his time in the roles of The Saint and that of The Persuaders before discussing his Bond legacy and his work for UNICEF.

Roger MOORE and Christopher WALKEN on the set of “A view to kill”, a James Bond directed by John GLEN. 1985. Part 2, available next week (edit – it’s here) will feature an EXCLUSIVE interview between author and comedy writer Mark O’Connell and RetroRamble’s very own George McGhee.

Mark wrote the highly acclaimed Catching Bullets: memoirs of a Bond fan, and you can get yourself a copy of it here. Thanks to his connections with EON, the producers of the Bond franchise, Mark brings unique insider knowledge regarding all that goes into making a Bond film not to mention what Sir Roger was like in real life and where he sees the franchise going next.

rogermoore_retroramble.blog

Stream or download all of our podcast episodes directly from any of these sites below:

Extras

Copyright Notice: All copyright material remains the property of the original copyright holder and all clips and audio samples have been used only as a reference and as part of a review in line with Creative Commons FAIR USE policy.

RetroRamble 2017

REVIEWS: The Rock (1996)

Check out George’s full review below (click here to listen/download the podcast episode)

In a nutshell

Alcatraz is taken over by terrorists with chemical warheads and a rescue team go in to save hostages and defuse the weapons, with the help of a former inmate and a chemical specialist.

No time to read the article? Listen or download the podcast episode here!

Retro Review by George McGhee

When I mentioned we were going to cover The Rock in the next Retro Ramble episode, most people would take a moment before answering. “The person or the film?” was the response on more than one occasion. Understandable as Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson appears to have a new film out every month and apparently the nicest man in Hollywood.

It’s sad to think that some may have neglected the film, as there’s much to enjoy- a cracking cast led by Sean Connery, Nicolas Cage and Ed Harris, some stylish over the top action and some memorable one-liners.

therock_actors_retroramble.blog

Whilst not as snappy pitch as “Die Hard on a Plane” or “Alien in the Jungle”, The Rock has a solid premise – a great setting of Alcatraz – the (near) inescapable prison, an interesting twist on the buddy cop formula and a compelling villain with some very nasty weapons.

Brought to us by 80’s and 90’s powerhouse producers, Don Simpson and Jerry Bruckheimer – it’s everything you’d expect from the makers of Top Gun, Crimson Tide and Bad Boys. Stylised action, cheesy music, military hardware and beautiful sunsets.

Simpson/Bruckheimer had a mostly successful formula and whilst this was the last as a partnership (due to Simpson’s death mid-production) Bruckheimer has continued to have a midas touch at the box office (Con Air, Armageddon, Pirates of The Caribbean) and all the small screen (the many, many CSI series).

bruckheimer_simpson_fims_retroramble.blog

The producers definitely had a talent for sniffing out…talent. Whilst the plots, on the whole, are cheesy, patriotic and over the top, you can’t help buy into it because there’s usually competent people in front of the camera. It’s hard to deny that these guys turned Tom Cruise, Eddie Murphy and Will Smith into box office stars.

The Rock is no different, by wisely casting Cage, fresh off his Oscar win for Leaving Last Vegas (1995), quickly turning him into a credible action hero. Whilst Cage was known for his more twitchy, eccentric types, it didn’t stop audiences lapping up Con Air, Face Off, Gone in 60 Seconds over the following years.

Cage brings a real energy and heart to the role of Stanley Goodspeed, making him him a great foil to a grizzled and grumpy Connery, playing Bond in his twilight years – 0070, if you will. Their casting and relationship are the main reason I keep coming back to this film, their zingy dialogue cuts through a lot of heavy exposition throughout the film.

Whilst our heroes are great fun to spend time with bickering, you also need a compelling villain and the ever-reliable Ed Harris certainly delivers. His General Hummel is a genuinely sympathetic and believable character, a man fighting for recognition of his fallen comrades and Harris seamlessly shifts from hardened soldier to a conflicted leader who realises he may have gone too far.

The Rock_hummel_retroramble.blog

Like a lot of our favourite films at Retro Ramble, there’s no shortage of great supporting actors on the sidelines: Xander Berkley (24, Air Force One, Terminator 2), Michael Biehn (The Terminator, Aliens,), John C McGinley (Point Break, Scrubs) and Stuart Wilson (Lethal Weapon 3, The Mask of Zorro, Hot Fuzz) are just a handful of familiar faces amongst the good and the bad.

The visual template of Simpson/Bruckheimer films has been pretty much determined by two directors, Tony Scott and Michael Bay, both who come from a background in commercials and music videos and carry that frenetic editing style to their features. Bay’s calling card was Meat Loaf’s I’d Do Anything For Love (1993)  video which practically plays like a short film for Bruckheimer & Simpson.

meatloafv1_retroramble.blog

A lot of people give Michael Bay stick, and after some of his recent films rightly so. That said, it’s hard to argue that he has an eye for action sequences, much like Zach Snyder who comes from a similar background.

The Rock is fairly well paced with great sequences – Hummel’s raid on the weapons depot, a Humvee/Ferrari/Police chase that makes The Blues Brothers look tame and a tense final act which cuts between Connery and Cage taking names and diffusing rockets. Bay and his production team have fun with Alcatraz’s architecture, sewers, shower blocks, industrial furnaces etc, but frankly the mine cart sequence is one action scene too far.

Like a mine cart, the Bayhem is helpfully guided along on rails by a good story and witty one liners – apparently Tarantino, Aaron Sorkin and the writing team behind Likely Lads, Porridge and Auf Wiedersehn Pet! all did polishes on the script as well as some improv from The Cage.

Bar regular doses of pyrotechnics, the film doesn’t have the need to dissolve into the CGI-fests that Bay is now renowned for – the 90’s were a simpler time when most special effects were practical. Whilst the films of Bay and Bruckheimer can be fairly formulaic, I’d argue The Rock holds up as it’s a delicate balance of spectacle and character. I think it’s safe to say that it’s Connery’s last good film and Michael Bay’s best film.

His best?! Losers always whine about their best….

SeanConneryTheRock_retroramble.blog

MVP

Admittedly a cop out but all three leads – Connery, Cage and Harris are key to the films’ success.

Coulda Woulda Shoulda 

Arnold Schwarznegger was initially approached as a lead (conflicting reports say for both Mason and Goodspeed). Arnie claims he regrets not getting involved but he was approached when the script was in it’s earliest stages. Years later, Arnie would go on to play a similar role in Escape Plan (2013) with Stallone (worth a watch)

Fun (or terrifying) fact 

In 2016, the Chilcott report on Britain’s involvement in the Iraq War noted that one agent had falsified claims about observing weapons of mass destruction in Iraq, and had based his description of them on the VX gas missiles featured in The Rock!