Monday, August 26, 2013

The hidden spoilers in The World's End pub signs

                                       This article will contain spoilers. You've been warned. 

Being a fan of Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz, I'd been eagerly awaiting The World's End's release for a long time. I work for a company whose work revolves very closely around movies, so when the first official trailer for The World's End was released, I was notified instantly and watched it within two minutes of it's hitting the web.
I later stared, in awe, at the 12 glorious pub signs that make up Newton Haven's Golden Mile, wondering how each pub got it's name and if there was a story behind each one. It turns out that instead of a story behind each pub, each one tells of events to come.
As pointed out by Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg at the Arclight cinema's Cornetto Trilogy screening, each pub sign holds a clue as to what is going to happen to our heroes at each pub.

1. The First Post
When Gary King and his four buddies reach the first pub on the mile, Gary subjects them to a quick history lesson about the pub's origins, furthering my mistaken idea that we'd learn some cool fact about each of the 12 pubs.
The First Post is named so for the fact that it used to be a post office. It is also the first stop on our protagonists journey.

2. The Old Familiar
When Gary and his crew enter the second pub, it is oddly familiar, or, blatantly and painfully identical to the first one. It gives the characters Steven and Oliver a reason to quip about "corporate chains" taking over, and "Starbucking", which alludes to the Network's takeover of Newton Haven.

3. The Famous Cock
The third pub on the mile, is The Famous Cock, and here is where the real clues start to show up in the signs. Gary tries to order a drink, but is instead kicked out because of an altercation he had there back when he was 17. Gary got barred all those years ago for acting like a complete cock, earning himself fame on the wall of barred patrons. Gary King is the famous cock. Now when I look at this sign, I don't see a simple rooster, I see the rooster's boots and the lapels of a coat, two things Gary famously sports.

4. The Cross Hands
 Gary and his crew hit up The Cross Hands, and here is where shit gets real. This is when Gary and the rest discover that the inhabitants of Newton Haven have been replaced by robots-not-robots. The Cross Hands refers to the epic confrontation between our five heroes and the robots in the bathroom. The tile on the bathroom floor matches that of the pub sign. Notice the five hands on the sign, one of them wearing a wedding ring. Both Andy and Peter are married, but in my mind, the ring here foreshadows Andy's triumphant retrieval of his wedding ring from "a robot's tummy".
Also note that this is the first fight, first time we see the blue 'blood' from the robots, and this is the first sign "splattered" with blue paint. It turns out that each pub where robot-juice is spilled has blue paint splattered on it.

5. The Good Companions
This is the first pub the buddies visit after deciding that carrying on with the mile is their only hope of not alerting the Network that they know what's going on. I honestly can't remember what it was that Simon Pegg said about this sign's symbolism, if you were there and can enlighten me, I'd be grateful.
The parallels that I draw are the fact that this is really the first moment of the night that they've all been close to being on the same page. That, and while four of the men are scared and unhappy about the night's circumstances, one of them is just delighted to be back with his friends reliving old times. Guess which mask is Gary King...

6. The Trusty Servant
Here at the Trusty Servant, Gary spots their old drug dealer, the Reverend Green. They get him to divulge information about what the robots are, and why some of the town is still human, much to the annoyance of his two still-human friends. It is here we learn that the humans still left in the town are the slaves or servants of the Network. The men on the sign strongly resemble Reverend Green and his friends.
Note that this is also where the Reverend Green is ordered to go and get replaced by a robot-version of himself, and he walks to the men's room right as Oliver walks out. This indicates that this is where the real Oliver has been switched with the Blank. From this moment on, you can see the birthmark on his head, though it's well hidden through lighting and the positioning of Martin Freeman's head until Andy discovers it. Now Simon and Edgar explained that the Trusty Servant refers to the Reverend Green, but I think it might also refer to Oliver's replacement robot. This promotional poster for the movie helps with this theory.

7. The Two Headed Dog
At The Two Headed Dog, Gary, Steven, and Sam battle the Twins, two of Sam's friends who have been replaced by robots. This is the second showdown in which our heroes spill blue robot-blood, and the second sign to have blue paint smudges.

8. The Mermaid
Before our boys even get to The Mermaid, there are flyers and posters in multiple shots and scenes advertising a "School Disco" which is what the boys walk into when they get to this seventh pub. This is where the Network tries it's hand at luring our heroes into submission rather than fighting them. After all, what man can resist the siren call of the Marmalade Sandwich? The blonde/redhead/blonde trio of mermaid on the sign are the trio of girls they used to drool over back in the day.

9. The Beehive
Gary and the guys meet their old teacher Mr. Shephard here, and it's pretty clear he's been replaced by a robot. "Pretty cool eh guys?"
He reveals the Network's plans to them and tries to convince them that they're in no danger. This reunion with a man they used to look up to and trust is yet another attempt by the Network to 'shepherd' our guys into willingly joining the hive-mind and becoming one of them. A third fight ensues, hence this is the third blue-splattered sign.

10. The King's Head
I completely forgot what Simon and Pegg said about this one, so I won't even begin to tell you what the real symbolism is here. (Again, if you remember, let me know and I'll update this) I have some good guesses, but I could be making things up:
1. The King here looks a hell of a lot like Simon Pegg, therefore The King's Head is literally Gary King's head.
2. This is where Gary, Steven, and Andy have the chance to get in the car and escape, but Gary gets it into his head that he'd rather finish the Golden Mile alone than run away.
3. It could refer to the head on a beer. Gary pours himself a beer after recovering being hit on the head.
This is the first time during the pub crawl that not all 5 men are drinking, and it is in fact, only Gary who is still participating.

11. The Hole in the Wall
When Gary runs away from The King's Head, he sprints here, to the The Hole in the Wall, followed by a devoted Andy. They are attacked by robots and are saved when Steven drives Gary's car straight through the wall of the pub.

12. The World's End
It's no revelation (Get it? Revelations = end times) that this sign is depicting the world's end. What I think is cool about it is the fact that it's showing the spread of fire across the globe in the manner that our loss of electronics and communication spread across our world when the Network decided to take Gary's advice and "Fuck off back to Legoland"
Something to listen for when you watch next is that when the Network first greets Gary it calls him "Gary King, of the humans" and after it's listened to Gary's absolute inability to lose and argument, it calls him "Gary, King of the humans."
Edgar Wright, after the film wrapped, explained that instead of destroying Earth, it decided to just cut off all our technology, hopefully keeping us from going out into the galaxy and infecting other planets with our stupidity.
Unfortunately for them, the Network's muttering of "Fuck it" right before it beams up out of Earth indicates that it's already picked up on our crude apathy and it's taking some of that back to where it came from.

Our world wasn't destroyed, but the world as we knew it did end. We lost all of our technology, but we did indeed live. So thank you Gary King for annoying the invading force SO MUCH that it decided to let us err as humans. "So... err... ?"

Sunday, August 11, 2013

How I became the James Bond fan that I am

If you've met me or visited my twitter or facebook pages, you probably gleaned that I am a big fan of the Bond franchise. I know, I know, who doesn't like Bond?
I claim to be a super fan sometimes, but there are Bond fans out there that put my Bond-knowledge and devotion to shame. Whatever, it's not a competition. Unless it's a James Bond trivia competition. Those happen.

Anyhow, I came to love Bond  the way most Bond fans of my generation did; because of our dads.
Most Bond fans I talk to, on the internet, and in person, can trace their MI6 adoration to sitting in front of the TV with their dads, watching Roger Moore shoot, ski, and seduce. (Is it just me or do dads always prefer Moore?)

I caught bits of Dr. No when I was six or seven, when my Dad was watching it on TV. It was my first introduction to Bond and I remember thinking it was scary. I was scared of the "dragon", although I knew it was some kind of vehicle, not an animal. Can't say the same for Honey...
The hottest person to ever mistake a tank for dragon.
Another time, my Dad was watching You Only Live Twice, and I watched an assassin creep into the rafters and lower a piece of thread down so he could pour poison down the thread and into Bond's mouth. At the last moment Bond shifted in his sleep and the girl was the poisoned one. THIS SCARRED ME FOR LIFE. For the rest of my childhood, I had trouble sleeping in a new place, especially if there were rafters.   
I always thought a ninja was going to drip poison in my mouth.
 I didn't get to see all of the film because my mom had made me go to bed. But I sneaked out of bed and was peeking out from behind the corner of the hallway, secretly watching femme fatal Helga seduce Bond, trap him in a crashing plane while she made her graceful parachute escape.

This brings me to my next Bond memory/association; Goldeneye.
I didn't realize it until this year, but in the title song Goldeneye by Tina Turner, she sings the words "You'll never know how I watched you from the shadows as a child."  Which accurately describes one of my first Bond-film viewings.This was the first Bond film I ever watched in it's entirety.
Goldeneye was great, and really is one of the best Bond films. Top 3. I dare you to argue that.
It became easy to be a fan of the movie when my brother and I owned...that's right...A NINTENDO 64.
And if you're a gamer at all, what was probably THE best game ever made for Nintendo 64? Goldeneye.

Natalya if you run into the line of fire again, I swear to god...

This movie was my first introduction to Sean Bean, playing Alec Trevelyan in Goldeneye. I had NO idea that 6 years later Sean Bean would be in another franchise that became a big deal for me. (Boromir anyone?)

After Goldeneye I started to feel like I knew what Bond was about, I mean, how could you not? Beautiful women, guns, cars, casinos, and espionage. I was not an uber-fan at this point, though I really did like action movies more than the average teenage girl, and Bond films were good action movies. Over the next few years I caught bits of Pierce Brosnan's films Tomorrow Never Dies, and The World is Not enough. Not exceptionally great Bond films, which is a shame, because Brosnan really rocked the role. I remember not being blown away by these two films, but my brother found them humorous and when my brother finds something to be entertaining and funny, most likely I will too.

Brosnan's last Bond film Die Another Day was the first Bond film I saw in the theaters!
I was so excited for it and went to see it with some friends. It was a blast. It's not great, apart from the opening scene, really not. But I was 15 years old, the utter cheese-factor in this movie escaped me.
 I loved it. This was also the first Bond film I bought on DVD.

I remember EXACTLY where I was when I heard that the next Bond was blond.
My brother Cameron and I were at home watching Goldeneye, and he mentioned the news.
Cameron and I were big fans of the Antonio Banderas Zorro movie, and when we pictured a blonde Bond, we pictured this guy:
If you don't remember, this character gets a very Alec Trevelyan-like death.

We didn't really know what to think about a blonde Bond. However when Cam found out that 'blondie' was going to be Daniel Craig, he, being a fan of Craig in Layer Cake, was happy with the decision, and that was enough for me.
BESIDES: Daniel Craig's hair is really not that light, and while everyone purports that Bond "HAS to have dark hair" come on, Roger Moore had really light brown hair. Bond is described as having dark hair in Ian Fleming's novels, but since when have our movie characters always looked the same as they do in books? This is the biggest hair-color issue I've ever seen fans of anything have. (No one fussed this much over redhead Lois Lane in the 2013 Superman movie Man of Steel.)

When Casino Royale was released, it was then that I started to become the fan that I am now.
I saw Casino Royale in the theater with my family and best friend Heather, and Heather was QUITE taken by Mr. Craig. I didn't have a crush on him, but I liked him. I thought Pierce Brosnan was a great Bond, but honesty, I can't imagine him being able to put on the poker face that Craig did in Casino Royale.

Hooray for the return of Felix Leiter!

Heather and I LOVED this movie, and Chris Cornell's theme song You Know My Name, became our phone ringtones for each other.
I bought a read Ian Fleming's Casino Royale, though I preferred Craig's Bond to the Bond in that book.

Since then it's been a steady learning journey though online forums and articles about the franchise. I have books about the franchise written by fans, and a nice little selection of Bond collectables.
The game changed when I ordered a set of all the Bond films up to Quantum of Solace, I was able to go back as see entire Bond films I'd only caught bits of growing up.
I confronted the "dragon" in Dr. No, the poison-assassin in You Only Live Twice, the MANY MANY snakes (my biggest fear) in Live and Let Die, and Bond was there for it all.
I'm not sure how long the franchise will keep going. There will be great movies, and there will continue to be terrible ones as well, but I will love them :)