Top 10 Most Exciting Films of 2017 (First Among Lists)

4 01 2017

star-wars-episode-eight (Lucasfilm - 2017)

Jasper Fforde is a British bestselling Author whose selected works include the The Eyre Affair, The Last Dragonslayer and Shades of Grey.  He is something of an inspiration to me and someone I have not just met and had books of his signed, but have had the fantastic opportunity to have my work looked at and even edited by him; it was a wonderful opportunity and moment for me and still ranks as one of the best moments in my writing career to date. Anyway, I have been thinking a little bit about Jasper Fforde recently, mainly because of The Last Dragonslayer being shown on Sky 1 on Christmas Day, a book which was one of my favourite reads a couple of years ago.

The Last Dragonslayer (Hodder and Stoughton - 2011)

Anyway, to get back on topic, one of the books in his Thursday Next series is called; First Among Sequels. Well before I began writing this; (having awoken from a small nap on Boxing Day) I thought that it could be fun to give a personal touch to one of my early blog posts, in particular one of the early Top 5-ish posts where I talk about last year and this year in films. I was thinking that I should call it First Among Lists. Then I thought that this could be rather confusing for anyone who came along looking for a post on films, as the tile does not suggest anything along those lines. Then I thought; ‘why not’, and added it in brackets after writing this sentence. See. Just thought I would do something a bit more fun and a lot less like written uniform.

split (Universal Pictures - 2016)

2016 has passed, and 2017 has begun. Yes, it’s that time of year when we can break those freshly made resolutions and convert the newly acquired weight’s beach into a clothes horse. I prefer not to make such resolutions as I don’t see any real point in them. Why not, instead of making pathetic New Year’s Resolutions which you’re not going to complete, find something to look forward to instead, like; I don’t know – movies to be released this year? There are quite a lot of good-looking films to be released this year, including the possibility of a remake of The Empire Strikes Back, something to look forward to for many I’ll bet. As is something of an annual tradition for me and my blog now, I have had a good look through the (Wikipedia) movie release schedules and found a whole load of good-looking films to look forward to this year, and am keen to share this information with you all, including which are the Top 10 films I personally am looking forward to. Now there is quite a lot this coming year I have found, and not all could end up on my Top 10, so I just want to give a shout out to the following films: Wonder (the book is really good), King Arthur: Legend of the Sword, Alien Covenant, Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Men Tell No Tales, Geostorm, Despicable Me 3, Split and The Great Wall. If there is anything you in particular are looking forward to this year but is not mentioned on here, please feel free to leave a comment and let me know; but for now, here is what I am looking forward to this year.

dunkirk (Warner Bros - 2017)

10. Dunkirk – Films set during World War II don’t really get my interest. World War 2 is an important event during the entire history of this planet of course, but the use of the subject matter in the media I feel has been rather overdone; you only need to look at Video Games set during WW2 to see what I mean. Why am I interested in this then, well because Christopher Nolan is directing it, and I feel that that is a good a reason as any to not write it off as of yet. A trailer has been released which I have yet to give a proper look at, and will probably do so when I edit this post in WordPress, the one thing we have to hope for of course is that the film is done right, and does not replace the British, Belgian and French Soldiers with American Ones for the sake of the film (America was actually still one whole year away from joining WW2 during the events of the Dunkirk Evacuation).

return-of-xander-cage (Columbia Pictures - 2017)

9. XXX: Return of Xander Cage – I am surprised how long it has taken to get this film made, as this should have been done nearly 10 years ago. The first Triple X film starring Vin Diesel, Marton Csokas, Samuel L. Jackson and Asia Argento was a film I really liked and was hoping for a sequel. A sequel was what we got, but without 3 of the previous mentioned cast members, try to guess which ones. The first one was a unique blend of modern and traditional spy films with the added bonus of extreme sports and stunts, creating what I think is still quite a cool little film. While this new one may be missing Asia Argento (and Csokas of course for those who have seen the original), I still feel quietly excited by this, and hope that the juices that flowed in the original will blossom once more and possibly create an interesting franchise; 14 years late.

thor-the-dark-world (Marvel Studios - 2013)

8. Thor: Ragnarok – The first Thor film was something of a surprise to me, as I had no idea what to expect, but absolutely loved. The Marvel Cinematic Universe has the feeling about it that it might have begun to start to come to a close as the series for one feels like it’s beginning to drag and feature less of its more prominent characters. I do feel sort of glad though that Thor gets one more solo outing before that happens, but it does come with a bit of un-nerve. I have not really been tracking its production, but it feels wrong that Natalie Portman is not going to be in it. I don’t know as to the why she is not in it, but when you have been using two previous films to create a romance between two characters, only for one to leave with no real reason and probably to be replaced, I feel that is something of a bad idea, because, that previous romance has been developed, this new one won’t be to an audience point of view and will come across as more confusing, than heart-warming. It has been done before, just look at Transformers: Dark of the Moon as an example. Anyway, I still have hope for Thor, as I want it to be just like the previous two films; proper fun, enjoyable films. While the love life maybe completely in the air, what isn’t is the male cast which still includes Chris Hemsworth, Tom Hiddleston, Idris Elba and Anthony Hopkins, as well as newcomers to the Thor films in Avengers regular Mark Ruffalo, and more interestingly; Jeff Goldblum.

war-for-the-planet-of-the-apes (20th Century Fox - 2017)

7. War for the Planet of the Apes – The new Planet of the Apes film series has become one of the standout heavyweights of cinema, and has achieved this with only 2 films released so far. Rise of the Planet of the Apes was a wonderfully thought out and brought together film which created truly marvellous moments (including the death of Draco Malfoy), this continued on with Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which set man and ape against one another in a brutal fashion while also weaving in a thought-provoking plot. Now, things are set to get even deeper, as audiences have a heavy minded choice to make, as they decide whether to fight with humanity, or with the apes in a battle to decide who will be the new dominant species. Regular ape cast members are set to return, while humanity is represented by former District 12 Winner Woody Harrelson…..should be pretty interesting.

the-shape-of-water (Bull Productions - 2017)

6. The Shape of Water – In all honesty I don’t know much about this film. Wikipedia says its: “An other-worldly story, set against the backdrop of Cold War era America circa 1963”. Why do I take an interest in this film you ask? Because Guillermo Del Toro is directing it! While it’s plot is currently vague with not much known about it other than production details including cast members such as Sally Hawkins and Doug Jones, it is hard to expect what it could be, but considering what this film sort of suggests, part of me wonders if this could be Del Toro’s next Pan’s Labyrinth?

the lego-batman movie (Warner Bros - 2017)

5. The Lego Batman Movie – When I went to see The Lego Movie, it was clear to me who the real star of the show was: Batman (voiced by Will Arnett). I loved the portrayal of Batman in the Lego movie, just could not get enough, so was super excited when I found out that he was getting his own movie, and this year it gets released. I can still hear his awesome self-crafted theme tune going through my head right now. Have seen a couple of trailers so far, and it’s hard to work out where it is going or what it is going to do, but as long as Batman is the Lego Movie Batman (which is by far the best Batman to date), then it should be awesome (pun intended).

Power Rangers (Lionsgate - 2017)

4. Power Rangers – Is it excitement or hope why I have put this film so high in this list? I am not going to get too detailed here about this; I made my views very clearly detailed back in September. What I do want to say is that I am excited but still very nervous about the Power Rangers movie due for release in the coming months. The film is not too far from release and the trailer does look pretty promising, but given what we have seen in the past when Power Rangers have taken to the big screen, I think my nerves are a reasonable reaction. I do want this film to work, and do feel that in the right hands and with the right execution, this film could become a worthy rival to the Transformers film series. The trailer and shots from production do look pretty good, but I don’t think any of us who intend to see this film can really hope to relax until this film actually gets released, then we can find out if a third time can be some kind of charm for the Power Rangers.

transformers-the-last-knight (Paramount - 2017)

3. Transformers: The Last Knight – I have been a fan of the Transformers films from day one. It is a series I have enjoyed throughout and have continued to do so to the present day. When Age of Extinction came out in 2014, I was unsure of where the series was heading for, but was blown away by a powerhouse of a film, my favourite entry to date and have been super excited to hear there is not just going to be a sequel, but also returning with the fantastic new cast of Extinction. While Nicola Peltz is a no-show at current, Mark Wahlberg, Stanley Tucci and Josh Duhamel (from the first 3 films) are all confirmed for what is so far looking to what could be the most ‘confusing’ entry in the series to date (and I can’t help but wonder if the title is a reference to something that happens in the film, or is a reference to the status of the series director).

kong-skull-island (Legendary Pictures - 2017)

2. Kong: Skull Island – Soon after the release of Godzilla in 2014; Legendary Pictures announced that they were going to make some more Godzilla films, as well as possibly creating a shared universe which would also include King Kong. Well; King Kong is set to return this year with his very own reboot, as a stellar cast of actors including (but not limited to) Tom Hiddleston, Samuel L. Jackson and John Goodman decide to explore an uncharted island occupied by a variety of horrific monsters, all of it overseen under the might of the Great Ape known mainly as KONG. So far the film is looking really good; Kong’s design especially looks terrific and while details of the story are still relatively unknown, the current premise looks pretty cool. How it will turn out is another thing, but so far, I am really excited for this one (let’s just hope Peter Jackson didn’t accidentally walk onto the set during production).

logan (20th Century Fox - 2017)

1. Logan – A lot of things have happened in cinema over the last 17 years, but one of the very few constants is the portrayal of Wolverine in the X-Men Film Series. Since the series began, Wolverine has been portrayed by Hugh Jackman, and has helped not just kick-start his movie career, but made him a household name. “But all good things must come to an end” many pessimistic people have said, and this appears to be true for the relationship between High Jackman and Wolverine, but the animal is not going to bow out without one last bloodbath. Set for release this year: Logan looks to tie up the loose ends of the series so far, as the X-Men head to bold new directions (especially with Deadpool looking set to become the series main star). Expect possible tears, as well as a lot of blood as Wolverine bows out in more ways than one, delivering potentially his final chapter, with support from his long-time friend and series heavyweight Patrick Stewart returning once more to play Charles Xavier, as they face one last enemy together, possibly in the rumoured form of Mr. Sinister.

GENEPOOL (Well that is my list, what movies are you looking forward to this year?).

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Top 10 Most Exciting Films In 2016

28 01 2016

Film Reel 2016

I don’t know if you saw my Top 7 Films of 2015 post – if you did, thanks for the support, if you didn’t; why not? – but in that post I had a little gripe at the film awards season. It was more of trying to understand why they are held in February, and not January or December, and why was it films released between February and February, and why was it Always films neither me nor the rest of the cinema going audience in general is going to see. But anyway, I had a little gripe at that before going into my Top 7 films. Why 7; well it’s because I was going to do 5 instead of 10 like I did in 2014, but then I saw a film I wanted to mention (Spoiler Alert – something I don’t generally do, but just thought I would include one here); It was Krampus by the way, but then I don’t like the number 6 so I increased it to a number I do like…7. Anyway, had a slight gripe at Movie Awards before presenting my Top 7. It’s sort of like a Movie Award, being my favourite films of the year, and it’s from someone who enjoys telling people what films he’s seen in that particular year. Anyway why am I talking about this now, well, this is also something like a movie award, but not as prestigious, for an entirely different reason.

Joy (20th Century Fox - 2015)

Basically, the year has passed, some good films, others not, and in the time-honoured tradition since 2012, this blog is going to announce what films the blog writer (me), is looking forward to in the coming year. It’s sort of like an award, but not as prestigious as it’s a list of films that look good this coming year, but if the examples of last year are anything to go by, there is no guarantee that the films in this list will feature in the Top 5 (or whatever number I do Next January/December time) of my favourite films of that year, or generally if they are any good or not. Now while all of these films look pretty good (there’s a major issue with number 10…and number 6), there is at least one other film I can think of that I would have liked to have add, but seeing as it was released well before time of writing, I thought I would just briefly mention the Jennifer Lawrence film Joy. The reason for not including it is the same reason why Birdman was omitted last year, because it had already been released. Anyway, Joy Looks good and I thought I would let that one have some promotion. Anyway, enough of all this, let’s look forward to some stuff. So without further ado, here are the Top 10 films I am most looking forward to in the coming year.

Godzilla Resurgence (Toho Co. Ltd. - 2016)

10. Godzilla Resurgence – I know what you must be thinking; “Why is a Godzilla film, let alone a new Japanese Godzilla film only at number 10 in this list?” Good question. Don’t worry, I am still a huge Godzilla fan, but as to why this is so low in the list is simple enough to answer, just rather longer to explain. The simple answer is that I don’t know if I will get to see it or not. The longer explanation is; that when it comes to the release of such films in the UK, let alone anywhere in Europe, The UK and Europe are consistently ignored. Most of my Godzilla collection is American Region 1 Imported DVD’s and one Blu-ray (try to guess which one). The only DVD’s that are not included in that are a BFI release of the 1954 film, King Kong vs Godzilla released in 2006 for the DVD release of the 2005 King Kong…I think, the 1998 film, and the 2014 film. So, as I can get hold of some DVD’s sort of OK, watching the Japanese films themselves on the big screen are close to an impossibility in my home country, so the reason for this being so low is that “Why should I build up my excitement for something that I probably won’t get to see at all this year?” Ok, I do keep up to date with news of it, and like to hear new stuff. Yes there is something of a trailer out for this, plus I have seen the ‘interesting’ poster for the film, so I am not completely against this film (it’s not the new Star Wars). Hopefully I will get to see it sometime, plus apparently overseas markets are being looked into, so there is some, if be it little hope, that I may get to see it after all. So there is some allowance for Excitement (plus it’s also one of two films being released this year with the word Resurgence in the title).

Dad's Army (Universal Pictures - 2016)

9. Dad’s Army – What originally sounded like a bad adaptation of a popular British Sitcom, now looks like a really promising film. I have seen the trailers a few times and it does look rather funny. Set to star Toby Jones, Bill Nighy, Catherine Zeta-Jones and Michael Gambon, expect laughs galore for what so far looks like a faithful rendition to an old TV favourite.

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows (Nickelodeon Movies - 2016)

8. Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles: Out of the Shadows – The sequel to the surprise film of 2014. Ok, it wasn’t much of a surprise, in the end it was alright and Fun, and did get into my Top 10 (just) for 2014. It was a funny film and at least for me was faithful to its original material, particularly the character of Raphael. So far the new film looks like it will improve over the first film, which I felt was rather quick and got bogged down too much in the origins story of the Turtles. The first trailer released a couple of months ago makes a good first impression and already looks like a major improvement. Don’t get me wrong I am looking forward to this film; I just think this film needs to accomplish more than the first and get the series on the proper track. So far it looks like the main cast is returning, along with some new cast members (including WWE wrestler Sheamus) to play old favourites. Who knows, Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles could turn out to be the big surprise of the year, or not as the case may become.

Kung Fu Panda 3 (Dreamworks Animation - 2016)

7. Kung Fu Panda 3 – It’s been nearly five years since the last Kung Fu Panda was released, and the reasoning as to why this has happened is rather sketchy as I thought DreamWorks would have been more pro-active in releasing the next film sooner. Good news however, it is a sequel and in no way a reboot. Original cast are back along with new cast members Bryan Cranston, J.K. Simmons and Kate Hudson in a story that so far sounds like an adaptation of Seven Samurai, which pings my excitement a little more. Kung Fu Panda 3 so far looks like good old Kung Fu Panda fun, and all being well should be good enough to plug up the hole that it has created since the release of its predecessor. The trailer also looks really funny.

Gambit

6. Gambit – The first of three X-Men films to be featured in this list. Gambit is of course a standalone film about my Favourite X-Men character. The film is set to star Léa Seydoux and Channing Tatum, an actor whose career I am not familiar with, but already sounds like a promising choice (as does the casting of Lea Seydoux). Thankfully the film appears to be in no way connected to the events of Origin’s, however as far as my knowledge goes, it appears the film is yet to begin filming, so right now does not sound all that promising for a release this year, and if it does; the relevant quality also. However, given the quality of the X-Men series recently, I am hopeful that when the release date finally arrives, be it this year or not, that it should be worth the wait in the end.

The Divergent Series: Allegiant (Lionsgate - 2016)

5. The Divergent Series: Allegiant – What began as a film series that was worthy of a chance has grown into a series to be looked at. Divergent was a really fun film; Insurgent meanwhile was a vast improvement over the first with plenty of enjoyable quirks to make it stand out as one of my Favourite films of 2016. Now I am more and more looking forward to the next film in the series, and see where it goes. So far all I know of this film is what I have seen from the trailer, which just looks weird. I don’t get it at all. Ok, maybe the books will highlight some of the more weird bits the trailer is showing, but as I have not read the books, it’s kind of hard. Also, I don’t fully understand the casting of Jeff Daniels in a film like this, he just looks like someone who walked onto the wrong set, well as a far as the trailer goes. I am just worried that the high quality walls that Insurgent built, are just going to be flattened, just as the series is finally making some good headway. No matter, we’ll see what we’ll see. I mean so far it does look interesting and fun, and includes previous cast members in Shailene Woodley, Theo James, Zoe Kravitz and Naomi Watts (one of the big standouts of Insurgent). So while it is a mad looking trailer, the promises and successes of previous films in the series are good enough for me to put this high on my list.

X-Men: Apocalypse (20th Century Fox - 2016)

4. X-Men: ApocalypseApocalypse is a character I have been fascinated by since I first heard mention of his name in an episode of X-Men Evolution. Since hearing that name I have for many years been researching his character, and waiting for my opportunities to experience him in some manner of speaking. Either be it in the comics, cartoons or films. So upon hearing what the plan for the next X-Men Film was going to be after Days of Future Past, I could not wait. Since after the release of DoFP, I have been checking in and out with the news of X-Men Apocalypse. I have looked into casting, filming, and even saw a rough copy of the trailer that was filmed at Comic-Con. But it’s only recently I got to see the actual trailer. The film is set to star the main cast of the First Class series so far, with returning actors including James McAvoy, Michael Fassbender, Jennifer Lawrence, Nicholas Hoult and the return of Rose Byrne who was sadly not in DoFP. Also in the spotlight for the next film includes classic comic characters Nightcrawler, Archangel and Psylocke to name a few, with rising actor Oscar Isaac taking the coveted role of the film’s lead villain. Also set for a return is the winning team that started the whole series from the word go, in producer Lauren Shuler Donner and director Bryan Singer (with any luck the X2 theme will return as well). As is the case though with the X-Men film series, the trailer does not show much in what is likely to be happening and appears to be a bit mad on the whole, and so it’s hard to see what the film is going to be about, however as this is the next film in a long line of extremely good films, I am hopeful that come release day, everything is going to be great.

Deadpool (20th Century Fox - 2016)

3. Deadpool – Since the dawn and for nearly every year in the current century, cinema appears to be awash with movies about Comic Book Superheroes. Now while this is all being well, and most of these are usually fun, there seems to be a level of child-friendly-like-ness to all of these films so far, and very little of the blistering action seen in the comics, as said fights could be considered un-child-friendly. Well in 2016 that is all likely to change with the release of Deadpool. Based on the X-Men Character of the same name, this will be one of two ‘planned’ standalone X-Men films due for release this year. This is not Deadpool’s first time on the big screen, but his last appearance did not go down to well, and was one of the low points of an already bad film. Things have appeared to move on however, and so far Deadpool is beginning to stand out as one of the must see films of 2016. Returning to the role, of which he also played in the bad film; is Ryan Reynolds. Looking at the trailer, the film appears to have Deadpool presented in his correct red and black, sword wielding, gun shooting, breaking the fourth wall…ing self that has become so loved by fans of the character everywhere. The trailer looks fantastic and from what I have seen of images here and there, Deadpool may not be the only X-Men Legend in this film, as the film looks like it will also star Colossus. Deadpool looks Fantastic, and it also looks really funny too, if this film lives up to the hype, this should be one of the best films of 2016.

A Monster Calls (Patrick Ness and Siobhan Dowd - 2011)

2. A Monster Calls – About this time last year, I read a book. Ok, I read many books, but I read a book in the space of just a few days, and at the end of which made me cry, becoming the first book I have read to make me do so. Since then I have looked through bits of it every now and then, and have come to like it as one of my 2 Favourite books. The book is written by the 2 time Carnegie Medal winning author Patrick Ness whose other works include The Chaos Walking Trilogy and More Than This. Anyway, why am I talking about this so far yet un-announced book? Well, in 2016, there is due to be a film release of this book, of which the title is, as the book: A Monster Calls. Not much info is readily available about this film other than Juan Antonio Bayona is directing it, Patrick Ness himself is writing the script for it, and that Felicity Jones, Sigourney Weaver and Liam Neeson are going to be starring in it. Ok, so there is quite a bit of info on it actually, but not as much as other big films of the year, but given from what I experienced in paperback form this time last year, if that is anything to go by, then A Monster Calls already looks very promising.

Independence Day: Resurgence (20th Century Fox - 2016)

1. Independence Day: Resurgence – In 2012, The Walt Disney Company purchased the rights to Star Wars from George Lucas with plans to make some new films. More than likely; 20th Century Fox probably weren’t best pleased by this announcement, especially as it was 20th Century Fox who took the original risk to produce the space film series after practically every other major studio turned down Lucas’s idea. It would be fair to say that 20th Century Fox were probably a bit miffed by this news; if it wasn’t for them having their attention on something else far more promising. You see as far back as 2011, they have had their eyes on the sequel to a film which when released in 1996 cast a shadow over the world’s cinema’s and did so well that all other films to that date were left in its shadow; and now, 20 years later; INDPENDENCE DAY returns. It’s been a long time coming, but the team of director Roland Emmerich, producer Dean Devlin and actors Jeff Goldblum and Bill Pullman return once more to save planet earth from an impending alien invasion. News of this film has been mostly scarce (except for those actively looking for it) but just a few weeks ago, a trailer was finally released, and it looks EPIC (and I don’t use that terminology all that often). Everything I have read to date, plus the number of times I watched the trailer continues to get me excited about the release of this film. This time around it looks like the invasion from 20 years ago was just a Beta test, and things are going to be a whole lot worse for planet Earth. The trailer looks Fantastic, I have not been as excited about a single film trailer since the first teaser for the 2014 Godzilla film in December 2013. I have watched it over and over again since I first saw it, and I simply can’t get enough. It won’t long now until the film gets released, but I am more excited about this film more than any other due to be released this year. I don’t know how it’s going to turnout when it is finally released, but like many other films in this list, it’s one I am going to be keeping a keen eye on in the year to come.

GENEPOOL (2016 will feature a resurgence in the word; resurgence…..possibly).





Checkmate – Independence Day

23 12 2015

Independence Day (20th Century Fox - 1996)

The question of whether or not we are alone in the universe has been tossed around for decades. Since upon discovering that there was an area above the planet, many have wondered if there was life on other planets. These thoughts usually then go onto the thought processes of considering the existence of Aliens, or UFO’s. To date, these thoughts are only theories. Yes, scientist’s get a little bit too excited when patches of liquid are spotted on other planets, but as this data has yet to be connected with proof of the existence of aliens, it should be noted that even if there is life on other planets, that it is a very big sky. But let’s not forget: “The chances of anything coming from Mars are a million to one, but still…..they come” – Jeff Wayne’s Musical Version of the War of the World’s.

ID1

Released in 1996 by 20th Century Fox, Produced by Dean Devlin and Directed by Roland Emmerich, Independence Day is a Science Fiction Epic Disaster Movie involving the subject of a large-scale Alien Invasion on planet Earth. What is one of the most successful, inspiring, influential and most important films of the last 20 years; it helped to re-kick-start the creation, development and release of other big action disaster films, including films like Armageddon, Deep Impact, The Day After Tomorrow and 2012.

ID2

July 2nd. Above the surface of the moon, something big, black and ominous has arrived and is moving towards the nearby planet of Earth. Down on the planet, a group of scientist’s discover its signal, but don’t know what it is. The object is investigated by Army General Grey (Robert Loggia) who is informed that it is not a meteor, as it appears to be slowing down. He contacts the Secretary of Defence Albert Nimzicki (James Rebhorn), who in turn informs the President (Bill Pullman). In New York City, David Levinson (Jeff Goldblum), an MIT Graduate works for a cable company, who appear to be experiencing technical difficulties. Meanwhile out in the desert, a young family made up of Miguel (James Duval), Alicia (Lisa Jakub) and Troy (Giuseppe Andrews) have to continually contend with their drunk out of control father Russel (Randy Quaid) who supposedly was kidnapped by aliens several years ago. Back in space meanwhile, several large Flying Saucers appear out of another vessel. This is spotted on Radar and the President along with Grey, Nimzicki and Communications Director Constance Spano (Margaret Colin) are told that each one of these objects, 500km wide in diameter are now entering the atmosphere. Sightings are spotted globally, eventually hitting mainland USA. Slowly, one by one, large clouds begin to appear over the world’s major cities, clouds so big they completely shadow everything underneath them. Eventually, the clouds break and out of the come the huge flying saucers, eventually hovering over and plunging several major cities into darkness worldwide.

ID9

In Los Angeles, air force captain, Steven Hiller (Will Smith) and his girlfriend Jasmine (Vivica A. Fox) wake up to see these things and Hiller is told to return to base, despite being given time off for the 4th. Back at work, David discovers a hidden signal and informs his boss Marty (Harvey Fierstein) that they are going to attack. He quickly rushes home to his Dad Julius (Judd Hirsch) and asks him to drive to the White House. The President asks everyone to remain calm while mass hysteria breaks out. Arriving at the White House, David contacts his former wife Constance and tells her that he needs to speak to the President – despite once punching him. He manages to talk to the president, telling him that the ships are planning a coordinated attack. Everyone at the White House rushes to evacuate, but just as they board Air-Force One, the time runs out, and all the spaceships power up their primary weapons, instantly decimating every city they are currently over. Air force one manages to get away, with Jasmine, still stuck in the city hiding in a tunnel.

July 3rd. Captain Hiller leads an air attack on one of the flying saucers near the ruins of Los Angeles. Upon firing their weapons twice, they discover the ships have a protective shield, before then launching their own fighter squadrons. These too are shielded, and slowly all the fighters are lost, except for Hiller who manages to run away. He is chased though by an alien craft, before they both crash and he knocks out the still alive alien creature. Several prime American military installations are then destroyed by alien forces. Hiller is eventually rescued by Russel Casse and an entire caravan of fleeing travellers. On Air Force one meanwhile, after David gets into an argument with the President and his advisors, Julius comes along telling them that the government were not as unprepared as they claim they were, talking about Roswell and Area 51. While everyone else dismisses the legend of Roswell and Area 51, Nimzicki has other knowledge. As a result they all go to Area 51 in Roswell New Mexico. There they meet Major Mitchell (Adam Baldwin) and scientist Dr. Okun (Brent Spiner) who reveal that there is indeed a crashed spaceship along with 3 dead aliens. Out in the remains of Los Angeles, Jasmine and her son (Ross Bagley) manage to get out of the tunnel, and using a truck finds survivors including the President’s Wife (Mary McDonnell). Hiller arrives at the base with the Alien, which Okun takes to dissect. However the Alien wakes up and attacks the scientists. Using Okun as a voice channel, The Alien reveals to the President what all they want is for humanity to Die, before psychically attacking him. The President is saved by his security detail shooting the alien Dead. He uses this as an opportunity to declare a nuclear attack on the Aliens. A nuclear strike team head to Houston Texas to attack one of the spaceships. After what appears to be a successful attack, the ship survives. At his old destroyed base, Hiller finds Jasmine and rescues her and the other survivors, however the First Lady dies, with the President comforting his Daughter (Mae Whitman) saying that she is sleeping now.

ID3

July 4th. After a drunken stress out, David is inspired by his father who talks about getting a cold. That morning; David presents his idea to fight back against the aliens using a computer virus, and reveals that such a virus can bring down the alien shields. The only way of doing this though is flying the old ship into the Mother ship, something that Hiller steps up to do.  The President and his men manage to communicate with all the remaining fighter squadrons around the world, and plan to organise a counter offensive. With pilots low however, pilots have to be recruited from among survivors and refugees, to which end Russell steps up. As night falls, Hiller and David fly into Space and are pulled into the Mother Ship, spotting the large number of aliens inside it. Managing to hide themselves from the aliens, David implants the virus, which in turn brings down the Alien shields, allowing all weapons to penetrate. Flying at the front of the Squadron, The President joins in with the attack, piloting a fighter. They are able to do some damage to the ship, but are then attacked by the smaller alien fighters. With very little damage done to the big ship, it begins to circle over Area 51, planning to fire its primary weapon. With little ammo left, Russell flies in with the only remaining unfired missile, ready to disable the weapon. When the missile jams however, he decided to fly straight into the alien weapon, blowing it up instantly. The ship now destroyed internally, it begins to disintegrate. Inside the Mothership, Hiller and David launch a Nuclear Weapon strapped to the ship, and escape just as an invasion fleet is being launched. Successfully escaping, the Mother ship blows up from inside. The two men crash-land in the desert, as the disintegrated mothership streams into the atmosphere.

If I were to ask someone you to sum up Independence Day in one word, I highly doubt that the word you would reply with would be Tame (not unless you are doing it just for a laugh). It is not a tame film, in reality I can’t find a single word for Independence Day, but I can think of several. It’s Surprising, Hard Hitting, Enormous, Unstoppable, Redeeming, I could go on, but I will finish this bit with the word Fantastic. It’s a big film and does things in a big way, but why shouldn’t it, why should it conform or do things done before when that is not the point of this film. Not in its conception, not in its delivery, nothing about this film is small in any way, but it was designed to be as such. The idea originated with Emmerich’s fascination as to why Aliens fly through space for thousands of Light Years only to arrive at Earth and stay hidden. This knowledge sprouted the idea for a Large Scale Alien Attack, and as much became the case in future films from Emmerich, Nothing is kept down to a small-scale. It’s go big or go home; and everything in this film is big; Big scenes, big action, big surprises, big battles, big alien spaceships and an even bigger mothership. Independence Day delivers all of these things at an incredibly high standard that surpasses its own challengers and competitors. It’s a film with character, but also on that it is a film with a lot of characters.

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Independence Day tells a story, it tells a story of an Alien Invasion and what it could happen if Aliens with large amounts of firepower came to earth and set about wreaking havoc on it. But the destruction of cities and a way of life only for the heroes to find a way to overcome it is only one side to the telling of the tale. The other side is through what the characters are experiencing and how this either drives them apart or brings them closer together; Independence Day for the most part does the latter, but also reveals what drove them apart in the first place. Independence Day therefore contains a lot of subtext. These points are less subplot; and are more background details of characters, but it’s told with such passion and energy that you cannot hope to ignore them. Most of this is shown through the films top billing and the characters supporting them in particular. The President for instance is a hardworking man trying to do the right thing and lead in a rough situation, but at the same time he has a daughter and wife to think about. On top of this though he has past experience and animosity towards someone who rides in on a white horse and eventually helps save the world twice. This coming in the form of David. David is also a hardworking man who loves his job; he however though has a previous divorce with Constance which comes back up to haunt him, and somewhere in the past believing she was having an affair with someone, walked into the white house and punched him, although then he wasn’t the president. Then next to this we have yet a similar position with Captain Hiller. He however though has a girlfriend with a child; he loves them both dearly, and loves his new life, but finds this torn away from him due to current events. These events though ironically help him to find his family plus make a difference by bringing in his own skill set and knowledge. He is something of an outcast to this trio, but without him nothing could be done in the end. It’s a sort of three little pigs who all decide to stand up to the big bad wolf in their own ways; even though they are not pigs but humans, and the big bad wolf is a fleet of Alien Ships.

Bill Pullman, Jef Goldblum and Will Smith

Something that I continue to discover with Emmerich films is how enjoyable secondary and tertiary characters are. While these characters at no point in any of his films share the grand stage with the top billing, they provide so much enjoyment that it feels like they are as important as the top billing even if they don’t share this podium. Russel case’s family shares very little scenes as compared to everyone else, however they produce an important point of view on what these situations and events are to standard civilians, whereas most of the rest of the cast are actively involved in the understanding and activity of the event itself. What we have here is a solid family unit with Miguel having to be a father figure to his brother and sister while their father is not around. Troy and Alicia are at best supporting characters to this, but are involved in some interesting scenes including the cliché of Alicia wanting some love and intimate relationship before the supposed end of the world scenario; with Troy looking on. It’s a nice little addition to the cast while also representing a very important point of view; especially seeing as the rest of that point of view is represented in mass hysteria, and people thinking all these aliens are worth dressing up in ridiculous costumes all for the benefit of a night out (a lot like people who go to watch the Darts live). A lot of work has gone in to include a child cast in this film, but not have them in the background but as important editions. The President’s daughter and Jasmine’s son show much stronger understandings to the situation more than most adults. Add to this the level of emotion they show to the ones they love; it shows a much deeper level of understanding a stronger response to situations from a completely miss-understood point of view. Next to this we also have some interesting additions in the military with characters like officers and commanders. Some of these range from Air Force and Submarine captains, to their aides, plus the level and amount of military officers too. One person who needs mentioning of course is Major Mitchell. A strong caring and understanding character, but still maintains a serious tone. He is supportive of everyone around him and always persists to do the right thing. Easily one of the most enjoyable characters.

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What’s always important in high concept disaster moves like this is a sense of light relief in order to retain a level of humanity. So, bring in the clowns, of which there are a lot of in this film. From people like the Joke secretary of defence Nimzicki, to Mad Scientist Dr. Okun (not forgetting of course David’s boss; Marty). But next to that you have characters who start out as something of an off the cuff clown, but grow into very important and serious characters, while also maintaining their bright side. To this end we have the wonderful Judd Hirsch playing David’s father. He is not a clown as such, more someone who has his moments. He is a misunderstanding father to David, and throughout the first third of the film provides moments of laughter as to how a hysterical point of view of the situation is seen. There is another side to him though, a very admirable, and respectable side, one that creates incredibly powerful on-screen moments in the middle of tough, hot situations. Scenes like demanding that the people on Air Force one should be more grateful towards David for saving their lives, or when David is about to go into space. He is a very caring father and a very strong character; less of a clown, but one of the several strong emotional anchors throughout this film.

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Straight after that we have a string of Secondary characters; however some of these I fell are a bit hit and miss. Their part in the story being one of them, and I just feel like it’s more their story rather than themselves that help to make them stand out a bit more.  Jasmine for instance is much like Judd Hirsch’s character in that she is very strong and caring, but her determination proves to be her survival, and her love for Captain Hiller helps to bring them back together. Her attitude mixed with her caring side make her not a clown, but one of those strong characters, another anchor if you will that helps to keep your head in the situation in a situation such as this. The first lady is a weird one; I don’t see how her role is applicable in this film other than being another thing for the President to worry about. That’s not to say she is bad or unneeded, just relatively confusing.  Sort of reminds me of The Raid, where Rama has reason to get out of the building alive, but I think in this instance it just doesn’t really work as well. Mary McDonnell’s performance though is still pretty good. Constance on the other hand is a rather interesting character and helps deliver one of the major, if several subplots; that of the former relationship with David, and an uneasy relationship between David and the President. Constance is a much trusted advisor for the President, and speaks like a voice of calm reasoning in a tense situation. She does though also sport some relative attitude and does not keep herself back in such situations. Her relationship with David is a nice and slow addition providing room for the audience to take a breath for a moment, eventually leading to situations where she tries to keep David back or explain to him certain situations, but in the end is rather futile, all leading to a moment where you realise she is a more a career woman than a lover. While she does present herself as a really strong, warm character, it is hard to keep it up, and eventually she needs to redeem herself in this light. Then there is of course the films accidental hero. Russel Casse spends most of the first third of this film as a drunk crazed lunatic talking about being abducted by aliens. While this is the tale of many others and whether or not this is true, it turns out for the sake of this films plot that it is. He tries to be a good father to his children, but equally fails in this respect too. For the while he remains a clown, but as the film reaches its climax, he completely redeems himself. This could be either for what he believes in or vengeance, but deciding to sacrifice himself commits the ultimate defeat on the aliens by sacrificing himself, but at the same time, notes that he is doing it for his kids too. Thus he becomes not really an accidental hero, but the films real hero, similar in some sense to the ultimate fate of Toshiro Mifune’s character in Seven Samurai. Finally there is the fantastic General Grey. I love this role and character so much. He is played by an excellent, believable and likeable actor in Robert Loggia. He presents the General as a highly experienced and respectable character. He shows real calm and emotion but does not hold back his aggression for when he needs it to be, retaining his stance as a leader.  On the more common occasion though, he becomes and remains one of the Presidents most trusted men and along with Constance a sort of voice for reason. A real treat throughout this film. I don’t know how much more I can say about him other than just say how enjoyable a character he is.

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While not cast members themselves, to be fair The Aliens are characters too. They share some very interesting characteristics about themselves, and a lot of time has been taken in creating them and their ships, but as stated above, in Independence Day its go Big or go home. The looks of these aliens are very stereotypical like, with really thin bodies and really big heads. Shiny eyes, and no moving mouth, however, the detail of such creatures look less Science Fiction like and more Horror like. They are freakish and scary close up, and they are meant to be. They’re first appearance has to look scary as up till that point, only their ships have been seen. So there is no going overboard. We don’t know what aliens look like and it’s important for their first moment to be right, but also freaky and haunting. The big fight in the hospital room which leads to the scary conversation between it and the president is as equally chilling with small scenes of a moving arm, running, screaming, tentacles flying, and close up of the legs and inner bodies. While for the rest of it the aliens don’t show themselves like this except for in the mothership (where I can see a scene that looks either like an alien Call Centre, or the NSA HQ in The Simpsons Movie), their appearance here is enough to get us more involved, and take a brief pause from mass disaster to personal horror.

A lot of work has gone into this film regarding themes. There is a large selection of them. One of the most used themes is the large amount of evidence suggested and supported into the existence of alien life. These are mentioned periodically throughout, thanks in a way to Russell Casse consistently mentioning how he was abducted by aliens, plus people’s views and theories suggested around this. But the one that is used more than most is of course the mention of a crashed spaceship in Roswell and how it is being hidden inside Area 51. It’s a nice little touch which goes on to divert the story in a direction for the heroes to find a way out of the situation and rise up against their space oppressors. There are a couple of additional themes too in the forms of Extinction and Survival also. The theme of extinction is rife in this film. On the first day alone in the film’s narrative, within 20 minutes, an outside force arrives on earth, and soon destroys most of it. You look around the cities, being covered by this unstoppable black cloud, to which reveals a huge flying saucer. Huge cities with massive buildings and people everywhere and in one fell swoop, something much bigger and more impressive shows up (rather slowly to ramp up the tension) and by nightfall destroys 36 cities worldwide. In one day, a load of aliens show up in one ship, immediately separate into several and bring down a civilization that had spent so long fighting each other, rather than helping each other. Then however the theme of Survival begins to grow and come to light. With everyone now facing extinction together, they immediately pull together to help survive as a species than fight as one instead of several nations. It is a strong theme, and though while to begin with this film shows how selfish and weak humanity is not to work together but build to dominancy, it also shows how eventually they will come together to fight a common enemy.

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Independence Day Boasts some of the best Special Effects used in Cinema history to date. It’s been nearly 20 years since it was first released, but the effects produced back then were made to such a great standard, that two decades later they don’t look like they have aged a day. They look as sharp and crisp now as they did then. A lot of hard work has gone into produce such great effects and have as such created some terrific moments and scenes. While it is an Alien Invasion film, the Action Directing style of Emmerich reveals itself more than once, showing scenes of wonder amazement as well as terror and tension. Scenes that are common in action movies like the plane fleeing from the circle of fire, the missiles hitting the alien ship at the end, people running away in mass hysteria (which today would be a lot different as most people would probably take videos, selfies and upload them to twitter way before thinking about running away) as well as the launching of the Nuclear Missile half-way through. Add to this you also have the big near Top Gun like air battles between the planes and the small alien fighters, one of the film’s first surprising moments. However, don’t forget about the great detail and design that went into the spacecraft and how well it was delivered to the big screen. The big city sized vessels are amazing things to look at, especially in their earlier moments in space, and of course hovering coldly over the city. Two images in particular I love include them breaking out of the clouds, and one hovering ominously over New York as David looks on. Then into this, we get the brilliant scene of the weapons powering up. It’s an interesting seen that just speaks “WOW!” This bright light that suddenly appears all over a city plunged into darkness. Like the idea of how Moths are attracted to light, or a bug zapper entices a bug to its death, this long moment of a revel of pure green light, and how it attracts everyone to look, but then too late. Like the Death Star preparing to fire; it builds up and then everyone nearby simply gets destroyed by the Aliens true intentions and power. Then as the counter attack begins early on, the wonderment at how powerful the aliens are and even have a defence which makes them nearly indestructible and can fight back any enemy, no matter how big or small they are. The aliens in this film are Dangerous, and that’s a fact, but as the film carries on, of course they need to be defeated, and so with the defences down, they finally get their comeuppance in a barrage of missiles strikes on their hull. Big, destructive, but so is the ships. Eventually though, they get destroyed at their weakest point, their main weapon systems. But don’t forget, there are other ships worldwide, and that brings us onto the Mothership. Now while the mother ship could look smallish alone in space, don’t forget this thing houses millions if not billions of aliens, plus the city sized spaceships. This ship itself, while not flat like the city ships; is still pretty black and ominous, hidden in space. All this together alone creates an amazing look to this film that still stands out to this day, and let’s not forget the destruction of the cities, particularly the iconic view of the White House getting blown up.

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With all this detail and eye candy on the large amount of special effects, it’s easy to forget about the level of charm Independence carries also. Several scenes with the human interactions, and just moments like images of Air Force One arriving at Area 51, or the world discovering the arriving alien force, there are so many nice scenes that nearly get forgotten about, but are still fun to watch. What helps these additionally is the wonderful score composed by David Arnold. Independence Day has a great mix of pieces, from sounds of incoming death, destruction, big battles and victory, to sounds of remorse, emotion, curiosity, the lot. The music is very Americanised and patriotic in its sound, this includes pieces like the President’s speech, the beginning of the end credits, and when the air force starts winning in combat. These though are reserved more towards the end, and to begin with, instead of a high level of mystery as to what is going on, instead a more serious tone begins almost immediately as the film starts. For example the ominous scary tone as the Mothership arrives and reveals itself. As the discovery stage commences you get a wave of Military style tunes as events unfold all over the place. These tunes don’t stop when the city is initially destroyed, but continue throughout the second act, then developing into the patriotic music to end with. But for me, the real soundtrack is when the aliens arrive over the city.

This sound of terrifying magnificence, deadly wonder and impending doom is just fantastic. It mostly takes the form of something building up, but then, when the ship comes to light, breaking the clouds and hovering over the scared people, backed up with sounds of something roaring just creates another simply “WOW!” moment that gets me every time. The opening credits feature similar dark sounds plus this music does return briefly in the end credits.

Alltogether, Independence Day is a Fantastic film. I love it to bits. It comes packed with action scenes as well as scenes of disaster emotion and moments that just make you want to shout out “WOW” and is backed up with so many brilliant characters and a stellar cast to play them all to back it all. Plus, let’s not forget the terrific soundtrack and beautiful special effects. I am not kidding when I say how much I like this film; it takes the idea of an Alien Invasion and puts it in the here and now, in a very believable setting. To me, I prefer this to Star Wars, I think it’s better than all 6, no 7 (seventh had not been released at time of writing) films put together, I will go on record for saying that…..no wait, better: “This is Better than Star Wars!” it’s a big claim, but I wouldn’t be saying that if I didn’t feel that.

GENEPOOL





Your Choice 5 (Part 1): Classics

16 09 2013

Your Choice 5

About this time every year since 2010 I have given my readers the opportunity to choose a film for me to review. On the previous 4 occasions (ok, one of them was mid 2011), I have reviewed High School Musical, Cloverfield, The Host, Slumdog Millionaire and Star Wars Episode 1. Now we arrive at the 5th vote, but over the course of the series, the voting numbers have gone down and so I have decided that after this vote, I might give it a break for a year or so and then bring it back eventually (or maybe do it next year anyway if this year does well or if I want to, but more likely I will only bring it back next year if the votes from this year go up from previous years). So because of this, I have decided to do something really big this year. Classics and Future Classics. I have chosen 7 films which are highly regarded as some of the best films produced in the entire history of Cinema, but that’s not all. I have also chosen 7 films produced this current century (2000 onwards) which I think have great potential in becoming classics themselves. For this post we are going to concentrate on the Classics, check back later in the week for the Future Classics.

Easy Rider (Columbia Pictures - 1969)

Easy Rider: Directed by Legendary Actor Dennis Hopper and starring both him and Peter Fonda, Easy Rider is a road movie about two bikers going on a journey across south of America. A landmark film of its time and helped to get the wheels turning for New Hollywood Era. the film explores many issues that were happening around America at the time including Drug Use and the Hippie Movement. The film’s soundtrack is also of particular note as it used music from bands including Steppenwolf and The Jimi Hendrix Experience. Easy Rider is quite possibly the Greatest Road Movie of all time.

Jaws (Universal Pictures - 1975)

Jaws: Steven Spielberg‘s 4th film as well as in many ways being the archetype film for all future Summer Blockbusters, this classic film about a monstrous Shark who comes and terrorizes a small town in America, is one of the most critically acclaimed, successful, well-remembered and much-loved films of all time. Based on the book of the same name by Peter Benchley, and starring Roy Schneider, Richard Dreyfuss and Robert Shaw, the film looks to the more human side of the film than like with some other monster movies who just look at the Monster. The film also has one of the cinema’s most well known pieces of music produced by John Williams who would later work on Star Wars. Almost 40 years on since it was produced Jaws still captivates movie goers around the world and on many occasions, may still scare people into not going back in the water.

Jurassic Park (Universal Pictures - 1993)

Jurassic Park: 18 years after frightening people with Jaws, Steven Spielberg would once again captivate audiences with one of the worlds most ground-breaking, modern films. Based on the book of the same name by Michael Crichton, the film follows a group of explorers played by Sam Neill, Laura Dern and Jeff Goldblum who travel to a safari park where Dinosaurs have been brought back to life, what could possibly go wrong. With another excellent score provided by John Williams and special effects that shook up an entire industry and still to this day are pretty much unmatched in sheer scale and the experience it gives, Jurassic Park has thrilled audiences world wide and has created a Legacy that continues to live on to this day in the hearts of many a movie goer.

The Hidden Fortress (Toho Co., Ltd. - 1958)

The Hidden Fortress: From Legendary Director Akira Kurosawa comes The Hidden Fortress. Released four years after Seven Samurai, the Hidden Fortress is a classic in its own right. Starring Legendary Japanese Actor Toshirô Mifune, the film follows the journey of a couple of fools as they are enlisted by a General to help escort a princess through enemy territory. The films score was produced by Masaru Satô who in the space of 44 years working with Toho would produce 300 film scores. 19 years later the film would become a huge influence to director George Lucas when he produced his first Star Wars film, but in many a way, The Hidden Fortress is better than Star Wars.

The Lion King (Disney - 1994)

The Lion King: Produced at a time when Animated CGI films had yet to make an appearance, this animated musical would become on of Disney’s most well-loved classic films. The film follows young lion Simba on his quest to take his father’s place and prevent his uncle from taking over the land (I had to look that up as I personally have not seen The Lion King). The film was scored by Hans Zimmer, one of his earliest successes and at the time of its release became the second highest grossing film after Jurassic Park. While films of this style don’t really exist anymore these days, films like The Lion King continue to make an impact to audiences worldwide.

Top Gun (Paramount Pictures - 1986)

Top Gun: Directed by the Late Great Tony Scott and starring Tom Cruise and Val Kilmer, Top Gun follows Navy Pilot Maverick as he is given the chance to train to become one of the best pilots in the navy at the Navy’s Fighter Weapons school. An action film with scenes of Drama intertwined, the film is amazing shot with many amazing airborne shots as well as those that are more grounded on Earth. included with that is one Amazing and well-remembered soundtrack by many moviegoers that like the film has essences of both Drama and Action. Top Gun is a shining example of Action and Drama films but also a crowning achievement for Tony Scott.

Zulu (Paramount Pictures - 1964)

Zulu: Directed by Cy Endfield and starring Stanley Baker and the breakthrough performance of Michael Caine, Zulu is one of the great War Films. Set during the events of the Battle of Rorke’s Drift where 150 British soldiers defended their small outpost against the might of 4000 Zulu Warriors. With an amazing cast of actors, great scenes almost unparalleled to any other film produced to date and a soundtrack which consisted of both studio produced music from John Barry and the voices of the actors playing the Zulu Warriors many of whom were descendants of those who fought in the great battle. Zulu is a one of a kind film that should be viewed by all, one of the real Greats.

So those are the films of the first part of this vote to choose from. So how do you vote, well that’s easy, just choose which film you would like to see reviewed (or if unsure, you can choose 3) by clicking in the required fields on the poll and then click vote. While the poll does block previous voters, you can always get over that by using another computer, so if you really want to see your choice win, just keep doing that. The poll will be open from now until the stroke of midnight into the new year this coming December 31st. So, take a look at the choices above choose one (or two or three), and place your vote. Check back later this week for part 2, in the meantime, get voting, Thank You.

GENEPOOL








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