Anniversary Special

Jokerside’s Top 10 Posts of the Year: 2016

jokerside's Top Posts of 2016

The results are in – which posts from the Jokerside were the most read in 2016? From A New Hope to much-missed Bowie, Psychotic comic book stars to 1966, there was something for everyone… And a mere five visits between the fist and second spot!

  1. “The Frankenstein Murders” – Frankenstein on TV and Film AD 2016 (January 2016)

Victor Frankenstein 2016 ADA romantic start, well, Jokerside’s version of it. It had been two years since our look at how Mary Shelley’s most famous creation was faring on screen, from the Munster‘s one-off come-back to the I Frankenstein‘s collapse. So for the leap Month’s  Valentine’s Day we galvanised ourselves into an update. The creature is going stronger than ever from big-spending ITV’s curious The Frankenstein Chronicles (surely the one series that even a Sean Bean would struggle to kill his character off in) to the bold, hugely anticipated but hugely flawed Victor Frankenstein

“The major let-downs are so destructive to this Frankenstein adaptation that it’s unbelievable they got through. Just as Frankenstein’s early claim about Igor’s hands seems misplaced, the film never displays Frankenstein’s genius. There’s the sketching, but little hands on work that previous adaptations have managed so well. That’s an unnecessary difficulty, but the real horror comes on the far too ‘logical’ solution to creating life. In creating a literal superhuman with two hearts, two lungs, super-strength and a gigantic physique, Frankenstein may be tapping into the supernaturally Promethean aspect, but the film completely misses the point, particular when framing it around the Doctor’s need to reanimate the idea of his lost brother. The point is that he creates man, not a superman.”

Yes, Frankenstein, as ever, has parts of various quality… Read more

If you liked that in 2016: Where there’s Jokerside there’s horror – stay tuned for the return of science-fiction’s most infamous scientist in a slightly different guise in 2017

  1. David Bowie: The Man Who Fell to Earth – Station to Station at 40 (January 2016)

David Bowie Station to Station at 402016 was riddled with confusion, shock and horrid irony from the start. Having kicked off the year with a light-hearted look at two muppet-powered movie classics, one inevitably featuring David Bowie himself, it was as horrific to find the great man had fallen away from the planet just days after the release of his sublime Blackstar album as that it came just days before the 40th anniversary of one of his finest years. It was with a heavy heart in a month dominated by the one-time Thin White Duke that Jokerside took a two-part glimpse at The Man who Fell to Earth and then the extraordinary album that surfaced that same year. Legendarily one that Bowie couldn’t remember recording…

“The Thin White Duke is as difficult to analyse as the album he apparently narrates, sometimes argues. It’s easy to dismiss the character as Bowie’s most ruthless, even evil – yes, even more than the Goblin King – but any analysis is difficult because of the amount of distraction built into the Duke. Unlike Ziggy Stardust, he’s less prevalent in a shorter album. He also appears more “normal” than those early ‘70s glam avatars. Impeccably stylish, simply cabaret, emotionful and emotionless in equal measure. The Duke may actually be Bowie’s most eroding character. And at times, there’s seems to be a real conversation taking place between the searching Bowie and the Duke – particularly in the title track that mixes first, second and third person perspectives.

The Man who Fell to Earth had sowed the seeds of a character that could carry a knowing and necessary transition and complete some of the greatest music of Bowie’s career. Not bad for a film that, as he said, “he didn’t really know what was being made at all”. But what’s crucial is the speed with which this character came to dominate his mind, just a catalyst of the clashing components in his mind and the Station to Station LP, and a character that took up less than year of Bowie’s incredibly prolific mid-1970s period.” Read more

If you liked that in 2016: Stay tuned for more David Bowie as Jokerside celebrates another of the chameleon’s incredible works as it passes a significant landmark this January…

  1. 1966: Invasion Earth 2150 – Movie Daleks at 50 (August 2016)

1966 Dalek Invasion Earth 2150 at 50“Changes (to the original television serial) are to a certain extent inconsequential in a condensed story that works almost beat for beat to the original template. It’s a heady mix of The Time Machine, 50s B-movies and the intrinsically British television show it adapted.

“The real change came in the spectacle. And of course, that was in the full employ, for the first time of colour. It would be seven years before the Daleks broke into colour on the small screen, and they’ve never looked better than in their big screen outings. The Daleks are utterly transformed as technicolour beasts…

“Sadly, this was to be the last live appearance of Peter Cushing’s alternate Doctor. On television, the character was to regenerate in a few short months, only to face the Daleks in his first adventure, away from the pen of Terry Nation. On screen, Dr Who leaves on a high. His first cell-break aboard the Dalek saucer is wonderful,. As he immediately fails, unlike Dortmun’s inability to cope with his frustrated situation, Cushing opens his eyes to Dalek eye-stalks with a meek “Back in the cell?” Read more

If you liked that in 2016: It’s time for the creator… In 2017 Jokerside will turn the microscope on the most fascinating Doctor Who villain, Davros…

  1. Jungle Garb: Star Wars Episode VI – Return of the Jedi (August 2016)

Star Wars VI - Return of the JediLast out the blocks and ranking third – Jokerside’s third and final retrospective on the Original Trilogy reflected Return of the Jedi in more ways than one. The property rejuvenated by JJ Abram’s The Force Awakens in 2015, the timing seemed perfect for a skewered long-read glance at Hollywood’s most influential science-fiction blockbusters. Unfortunately, come the third film and in view of the recent sad loss of Carrie Fisher, Jokerside couldn’t ignore the neat trilogy closure’s Bechdel’s collapse…

“Sat around (Jedi) is (an) unnecessary sadism. (After the opening Palace break) the gang’s back together, but a far cry from their greatest moments. Freed, Han is blind. Luke is powerless, and worse he’s lost the boyish charm that made him the audiences entrance to this strange new world. And then, the deception of Leia being behind the bounty hunter quickly leads to her enslavement in a gold bikini. Any attempt to assess the Bechdel test falls into the Sarlacc pit.

“It’s an incredible dive considering not only Leia’s role in the previous two films, even as she fell into the blossoming love plot in Empire, but her exceptional, defiant and strong entrance. Yes, she’s captured at the beginning of the first film, the classic damsel in distress princess that Mel Brooks’ Spaceballs had such fun aping in 1987. But it took a Star Destroyer, the Emperor’s apprentice and many people’s lives to land her in a cell. And when she’s rescued, hers is a brilliantly barbed escape with a succession of “Aren’t you a little short to be a Stormtrooper?” and “You’re who?” and then, withering, “Looks like you managed to cut off our only escape route.” Read more

If you liked that in 2016: Prepare for the return of blockbuster sci-fi to Jokerside in 2017…

  1. Batman: Which Villain Are You? (March 2016)

Which Batman villain are you TITLEThe complicated and not wholly satisfactory bursting onto the big screen of Batman v Superman brought the return of the flow-chart to Jokerside. Crucial to finding your way back to the right cell in Arkham… Read more

If you liked that in 2016: A special series taking on the Dark Knight in three distinct comic book personas is coming soon …

  1. “Oh no, don’t say it’s true David Bowie 1947 – 2016” (January 2016)

Bowie on JokersideIt was a horrid cold morning in January already when the news broke. Just as Blackstar was sinking in… Jokerside paid immediate and personal tribute to a huge influence…

“I was hailing his late ‘90s and early 21st century work when The Next Day caught us all by surprise in 2013. I had fun breaking his persona’s down in what’s probably my most read feature. But I also had to rant about him not swamping the Q Awards that year. Last week I was praising Labyrinth, ready for its 30th anniversary this summer.

And last night I was writing my review of . Working on the cartoon that I just couldn’t get to work. I was pleased to get some form of Jareth into last week’s Labyrinth retrospective, but now more than ever I can see that was just Jareth and not Bowie. I could never never really get that to work. It never quite felt right.

Now I know why it didn’t work last night. That review of★ will now transform into something different for a new era of Bowie on Jokerside.

David Bowie is… In the past tense. But David Bowie is.” Read More

If you felt as bad as us on that dark day in 2016: Joekrside willbe marking the year of Blackstar this January…

  1. Desert Clothing: Star Wars: Episode IV – A New Hope (April 2016)

Star Wars Episode IV - A New HopeAgain true to form, the first Star Wars film comes out second in the rankings. Kicking off one of our most enjoyable to write series, the influences and legacy of George Lucas’ defining work never fails to disappoint.  From the strong shadows cast by Frank Herbert’s Dune and Joseph Campbell’s opus The Hero with a Thousand Faces, to the magnification lent by the box office success of The Force Awakens… Despite the savage break between its second and third acts, the original film remains an incredible realised film of elementary balance, and a familial centre…

“A New Hope is a simple film, deceptively slight despite the prolonged opening act that you couldn’t imagine making it through a cutting room today. Still, pondering on the dusky dual-sunset of Tatooine backed by John Williams justly lauded score is one thing that can’t be tarnished by the Special Edition treatment. Come the second act the small band of confused heroes prematurely arrive in the villains’ lair. But as if to prove the inherent balance of the film, the Millennium Falcon is tractored into the Death Star at precisely the halfway point of the film’s running time…

“There is no awakening here, despite the tremor caused by Kenobi’s arrival or the mass destruction of the Death Star when an engineering fault is exploited. This is on a smaller scale than the story would tackle in following films. In hindsight, it’s on a familial scale. Vader pursues his son through the Death Star trench although we would have little idea as to the relationship for three years and disappears in an ignominious Tie spin. Vader’s path, had the film flopped as Lucas feared, could have been a short and homicidal one. But definitely the kind of day he would have long remembered. In a saga now almost obsessed with the tightening Gordian Knot of generational repeat, Kylo Ren’s patricide in The Force Awakens is the final revenge for Solo’s pivotal intervention during that Death Star run.” Read more

If you liked that in 2016: In the golden year of that great other space franchise, Jokerside’s taking a similar glimpse at the Big Screen voyages of the Enterprise, starting this January…

  1. Doctor Who: The Master through the decades – The New Series Compression Eliminated (November 2016)

masters-combined-iiJokerside never thought its defining series on the Doctor’s greatest foe (sorry Davros), would stretch for two years. But come the two-part summary that emerged for Doctor Who’s 53rd birthday, the complicated legacy of this arch-foe was clear. It was the New Series, a complicated crossing of universes, canon and gender that proved most popular. 46 years on, the second most famous Time Lord in the universe is in a stronger position than ever. Wasn’t it inevitable?

“The suggestion remained that this foe would always return for the big moments. While the Daleks and Cybermen stole a spot in the show’s 25th anniversary season, it was the Master who backed the final story of the Classic Series. On many levels, brilliantly named Survival. Seven years later, it was the Master who took the role of antagonist in the Doctor’s short-lived foray into American television.

So surely it was a done deal that the show’s glorious return to British screens in 2005 was counting down to the greatest death-dodger’s next resurrection… It just took a couple of years. And when this Jokerside retrospective of the Master through the decades reached the 21st century, a few rules needed to be broken.

The schism caused by the Great Time War on screen and the machinations of the BBC behind it, led to two parallel glances for the first decade of the new century. The Who canon had split and the trail of the Master with it. Although it hadn’t appeared likely at the beginning of the decade, the 2000s would prove to be a pivotal decade for the despicable Time Lord. He was to take on three distinct forms, breaking out of his survivalist years with a bang, before plummeting back to them and helping to take out yet another of the Doctor’s incarnations on the way. And then things were really going to change.” Read more

If you liked that in 2016: Jokerside’s opening up the gates for more of the Doctor’s most fearsome foes in 2017…

  1. Snow Boots: Star Wars Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (June 2016)

Star Wars Episode V - The Empire Strikes BackSeizing three spots in the 2016 top 10, Jokerside’s three part retrospective of the original trilogy proved as popular as it as fun to write and illustrate. And it was only to be expected that the second film, the one still regarded as the greatest, came out top.

The Empire Strikes Back is an incredible film that, under the scrutiny of numerous viewings, always lives up to the hype. Jokerside dug deep, as was the point with these slanted long-reads, finding the familial story of the first film quickly expanded to Shakespearean scope:

“Come the end it’s easy to see that The Empire Strikes Back had no choice but to ramp up the drama. That it did it so well, following the simplistic, fairy tale plot of the previous film, is Empire’s considerable achievement. We join the Rebel Alliance in a far different state to the one we left it. On the run and in a make-shift soon to be discovered base; dug into ice foundations that are a metaphor for isolation. It’s cold in space, it’s colder on Hoth. We didn’t know it at the time, but the saga’s overriding themes of family and lineage were about to be set in carbonite. So it’s little surprise that one route to that dramatic elevation falls to classical tragedy…

Indeed, Empire pushes Shakespeare to the fore. We join the Rebel troops on the battlements of Elsinore, unknowingly waiting for a ghost of Hamlet’s father that is a far more powerful and compelling than it appears in massed stop-motion and snowtrooper-clad force. That establishes a heightened universe where Vader, seen for the first time in communication with the Emperor, the father figure he rushed to with indecent haste, can get away with the use of “thy”. But the Bard’s influence is greater than choice words. We have expanded the atavistic palette of Biblical quests and Campbellian monomyth to include the nearer world of Greek tragedy and the great playwrights in general.” Read more

If you liked that in 2016: 2017’s the year when the Alien roars back…

  1. Marvel: “Go to Hell Castle” – The Punisher on Film (March 2016)

Punisher on FilmWell here’s a surprise, just like catching Frank Castle’s reflection in the mirror…  To celebrate the blackest of sheep in the Marvel fold’s emergence in the so-far-so-compelling small screen Marvel Universe Jokerside’s plan was simple. Three attempts, with three different Punishers had made it to the big screen since the 1980s…  Much like our expanded Spider-Man series from 2015, we wanted to investigate what went wrong, after all…

“There’s nothing like a good antihero, and he’s one of the psychologically damaged originals. So it’s no surprise that aside from his devastating runs on animated series and his huge homecoming on Netflix, he’s fronted three feature length films. But none of these have sustained a franchise, each picking up a different actor for a different portrayal of Castle. Perhaps the prolonged serial story of the new Daredevil adaptation will finally be able to piece together a compelling persona for one of the most damaged Marvel has to offer…” Read more

It’s the second year in a row that a comic book character has topped the poll and there was no doubt about it come the end of the year: the Punisher was the big gun of Jokerside in 2016.

If you liked that in 2016: Comic books aren’t going anywhere – and turning off the testosterone, the main woman at the heart of the of the DC Universe is celebrating her 75th anniversary this year… Jokerside can’t help but celebrate!

A happy New Year and welcome to 2017 – follow Jokerside to make sure you don’t miss any of this year’s posts!

And most of all, keep smiling!

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