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.

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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.

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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.

Adam West 1928 – 2017

“In the Sixties, there would be the three B’s; Bond, Batman and The Beatles” Adam West.

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In the space of just a few weeks, I’ve lost two childhood heroes, James Bond (Sir Roger Moore) and now Batman. Much like Roger Moore, Adam West isn’t likely to be at the top of many people’s lists for playing a popular character, but it’s hard to argue he’ll be the most fondly remembered. His Batman was one for a certain era, full of colour and camp. West was always proud to acknowledge that all the other Batmen were Dark Knights, whilst he was The Bright Knight.

Despite growing up with Michael Keaton and Tim Burton’s gothic take on Batman complete with “moulded rubber”, it would be West’s Batman that I would rush home from school to catch the reruns on Channel 4. The dated effects, wonky sets and cliffhanger set-pieces – “tune in, same Bat-time, same Bat-channel” – all had a certain charm, spearheaded by West and his measured, dead-pan delivery.

Along with Christopher Walken and William Shatner, West’s voice is often parodied or homaged. Whilst Big Daddy from Kick Ass was a knowing parody of Batman’s violent vigilante side, Nicolas Cage, in a genius move, gave the character West’s stilted delivery as his voice.

At university, probably around the same time Christian Bale was growling at criminals in Batman Begins, I rediscovered West’s Batman through the 1966 TV movie. The film is a great celebration of the series with all the best villains, ridiculous Bat-gadgets (including the infamous Shark Repellant Bat Spray) and some genius West one-liners, “They may be drinkers, Robin, but they’re also human beings!” The film is bat-shit mental, tongue in cheek and far too long but I can’t help revisit it from time to time.

West kept himself busy with conventions, voice work and guest appearances over the years, but Seth   gave him a career boost by casting him as a recurring character in Family Guy – Mayor Adam West! West is portrayed as a paranoid nut case, though still oddly lovable. He has many standout moments in the show, which work due to West’s sense of humour and self-deprecation.

Many who knew him have commented on how charming, warm and generous he was – a true gentleman by all accounts.

Rest in peace, Bright Knight, and thanks for all the memories.

NEWS: I’ll be back….again

After flirting on the fringes of each new production, it appears James Cameron is ready to go back to Titanic, Terminator. George McGhee wonders if this is a good idea.

It’s a machine that can’t be bargained with, it can’t be reasoned with, it doesn’t feel pity or remorse or fear, and it absolutely will not stop…EVER. Yes, I’m talking about the Terminator but not the actual character- I’m talking about the studio engine that will not let this once great franchise die, by letting it gracefully slip into the fiery furnace of time with a graceful thumbs up, so to speak.

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Can James Cameron recapture T2’s magic?

Yet Hollywood keeps hitting the reset button on this franchise – why? Nothing is an easier sell than brand/name recognition – hence the continuing bombardment of remakes, sequels, and the term that makes me cringe – “shared universes”. The big surprise is that none other than the Miles Dyson of this franchise, self proclaimed “King Of The World” James Cameron, is actively involved in this new production.

Whilst Mr Cameron is far too busy prepping numerous Avatar sequels, it’s been revealed that he is taking on a “godfather” or a creative consultant role for a new Terminator film – as the film rights revert to him in 2019. One would hope that his involvement means proper production opposed to executive production – which is essentially funding a film but with little creative input.

On every sequel since Terminator 2: Judgment Day (1991) the Cameron Connection has always been crowbarred in some way, however tenuous. Both Terminator 3: Rise of The Machines (2003) and Terminator Salvation (2009) had his best wishes – mainly support for his friends/collaborators Arnold Schwarzenegger or Sam Worthington.

He had a more direct involvement in Genysis, from the initial suggestion on how to bring back Arnie (“what if the T-800’s skin ages like a human?”) to a cringe worthy video endorsement where he praises it as a true sequel to the first two films…. The claim is almost as outrageous as the shirt he’s wearing for the video.

Following the poor critical and audience reception at remake/reboot/sequel, Terminator Genysis (the first of a new planned trilogy and potential TV series tie in) we all thought the franchise, like Salvation before it (another planned trilogy…) was a non starter.

As a huge fan, I can still find strengths in each sequel post Terminator 2, which happens to be one of my favourite films of all time – however disappointing they can be. Rise of the Machines was averagely entertaining in a familiar way but I was really impressed with it’s bleak ending. Salvation was the opposite – fans were eager to see the future war teased in Cameron’s films and it had an interesting twist with a human/cyborg hybrid (like Genysis, the key twist was spoiled in the trailer). However the film still couldn’t avoid giving us another smack down finale in familiar factory, followed by the world’s first desert based heart transplant…

As Cameron points out, Genysis is a “true” sequel of sorts, with it’s Back to The Future II approach, the opening half hour impressively recreates previous scenes almost shot for shot. Sadly as soon as they announce “we must travel to 2017! For reasons!” it quickly falls apart with all too familiar action scenes (another Golden Gate Bridge set-piece, really?!) and wooden exposition delivered by Arnie, a miscast Emilia Clarke and miscast in everything, Jai Courtney.

The press release promises this new take will be a reboot and conclusion of the story, which…makes little sense. With Cameron’s busy slate, rumour has it that Tim Miller, the other man (besides Ryan Reynolds) that we have to thank for the wonderful Deadpool (2016), is due to take on the directing duties. Apart from being one of the funniest films of last year, Miller displayed an inventive flair for stylish action and violence and most importantly with a limited budget – so again, another reason to be hopeful, if not outright excited.

Is Cameron the right man for the job? Or does it need some new blood? After all, Star Wars is doing a lot better without George Lucas, now it’s in the hands of talented filmmakers who grew up with the originals. Cameron has done little to tarnish his Terminator legacy, with his last two theatrical features are two of the biggest selling films of all time. You can moan about the mawkish romance of Titanic or Avatar being Pocahontas with blue cat people all you want, those numbers don’t lie. It’s fair to say that box-office numbers don’t always mean quality (e.g. Transformers/Fast & Furious films) but it’s unlikely many would accuse Cameron of approaching anything half-heartedly – in each of his films, he’s clearly looking to push boundaries in terms of using technology to tell a story, opposed for the sake of it.

My concern is where can the story go, that it hasn’t tried already. Whilst a groundbreaking idea in the early 1980’s, has today’s technology overtaken the concept of a killer robot disguised as a human? Cameron pointed out back in 2011 that the machines have already won, we’re already enslaved to technology. It seems that Genysis took this concept literally with Skynet turning into a killer app – a storyline that people found hard to take seriously.

Personally I feel the only sensible way to approach Terminator is to go back it’s roots, as a low budget, horror sci-fi, and controversially get rid of Arnie – alright, give him a walk on cameo if you must. For further proof, check out the excellent action film The Guest (2014), which lovingly homages Terminator and other 80’s action thrillers. It’s almost an unofficial remake, with Downton Abbey’s Dan Stevens (yes, you read that right) as a seemingly unstoppable soldier.

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To be, or not to be? Can Cameron save the franchise?

Time will tell if Cameron can right the course of this franchise and what exact role he will take. The last two features Cameron produced were Strange Days (1995) and Solaris (2002), both are strong sci-fi entries in my opinion. They offered intriguing concepts and strong visual aesthetics whilst still recognisably the work of their respective directors, Kathryn Bigelow and Steven Soderbergh. (On a side note, check out the Solaris DVD commentary with Cameron and Steven Soderbergh – it’s very informative and entertaining).

Many fans are saying the franchise has had it’s day, and whilst an unknown future rolls toward us. I face it for the first time with a sense of hope. Dun-dun-dan-dun-dun…….

Should Terminator be rebooted again?

Let us know in the comments below.