Directorial debuts are tough. Get it wrong, and you will have a much more difficult time funding and releasing your follow-up. Get it right and you’ll spend the rest of your career trying to live up to your own work. If you made a name for yourself as a writer first, that goes double.
Alex Garland began his Hollywood career when Danny Boyle directed the adaptation of Garland’s novel, The Beach. This is a fact I just learned from IMDb, and I was as shocked as I bet you are. Later the two collaborated again, on the zombie film 28 Days Later and sci-fi thriller Sunshine. I confess I don’t care much for zombie movies, and therefore have only seen 28 Days Later once but I believe Sunshine remains sorely underrated. Popular criticism is that the characters were poorly developed and it took a bizarre turn in the third act that alienated audiences. Either I didn’t notice or I didn’t care, because I fondly recall enjoying this movie and being moved by its ideas about destiny and sacrifice. I know the world is kind of burnt out on space movies now, but I’m fascinated by the effect that isolation has on members of a close-quarters crew. In Sunshine, their camaraderie starts to unfurl once they realize they might not be going home and the mission to save mankind takes a backseat to their own survival.
Taking a break from original screenplays, Garland tackled a couple of dystopian adaptations: the novel Never Let Me Go by Kazuo Ishiguru and Dredd, based on characters created by John Wagner and Carlos Ezquerra.
Everyone knows Dredd is an amazing film and if you don’t, then I pity you. Perfect cast, incredible action sequences, and escalating stakes that barely let you breath.
What more can I say? Just do yourself a favor and watch it.
For as many years as I’ve been keeping track, the Best Original Screenplay award has been an unofficial “Best Independent Movie of the Year” award, and this year is no different. With his first feature, Ex Machina, Garland proved to be most adept at directing his own material. This movie got everyone talking about topics ranging from the nature of consciousness to Oscar Isaac’s dance moves. Most importantly, however, it introduced Alicia Vikander to Hollywood, and we’re bloody well keeping her. P.S. Ex Machina spoilers follow though if you haven’t seen it yet, you have only yourself to blame. It’s already on blu-ray, like wtf.
For what is essentially a three-hander set in a house, the film displays impressive visuals and a feeling of witnessing something extraordinary. Once all the dust settles, you’ll feel as betrayed as Caleb and as liberated as Ava. And unless you are also a robot, you’ll have a great many questions about what happens next. I wish Alex Garland the very best of luck on Oscar night and I’m eagerly awaiting his next project, the currently in production Annihilation.
One thought on “Alex Is On Fire”
Yasss queen. That is all.
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