The fifth of November,
Gunpowder, Treason and Plot.
We see no reason why Gunpowder, Treason
should ever be botched into a one hundred minute shambles with Robert Carlyle
#18B: Gunpowder Treason and Plot Part 2: The Gunpowder Plot
General Opinion: It’s better than Part one and there’s a nice grizzly speech at the end, but that’s it!
Review: After part one I put this on with some trepidation. In many ways it’s just as bad, if not worse. It’s different to part one, but different in the wrong sort of way. The script is still dire and the setting still doesn’t feel quite right, but it has a nicer feel than part one. You can read what I said about Part one here.
In a way though, the shadow of part one hangs over this, quite literally as Fleur Delacour is hanging on the wall dressed as Mary Queen of Scots. For what should quite rightly be it’s own separate piece, this has been lumbered with a pitiful excuse for a prelude in the form of part one. The two are only tenuously linked by a rather insane decision to have King James (Robert Carlyle) visit his mother in Fotheringhay (spelt Fotheringay on the subtitles for an equally insane reason… IT’S NOT HARD TO CHECK THE SPELLING OF SOMETHING FOR GOD’S SAKE!) and endless shots of that bloody picture hanging on the wall.
That’s not the worst part though. The worst part is the way this is done. It’s been hacked from the pages of history very crudely, probably with a banana by the same brainless monkey who wrote the first part. It’s all done in a very lazy kind of way and the actual gunpowder plot doesn’t have the prominent place it deserves. It’s not really about the gunpowder plot. That all just seems contrary to the whole thing, which doesn’t have much of a structure to it anyway. It mostly consists of Robert Carlyle shouting like a mad man and even, at one point, pogoing up and down on his wife’s stomach like some rejected member of the Inbetweeners. His wife, meanwhile spends a little time squawking in a cod-German accent that wouldn’t be out of place in a bad World War Two film before she gets sidelined and then promptly forgotten about. Why is she there exactly? Occasionally, we see a few men who appear be doing almost next to nothing. Three of them blow up a bit of gunpowder at one point and another bones Emilia Fox before bashing her head in, but that’s about it. We don’t actually see much plotting at all.
And then there are the inaccurate bits. The government trying to stop the Catholics from starting an insurrection (Really?) At one point a man gets randomly shot just because ‘he might be Guy Fawkes’ (I am not joking!) The turning point of the Monteagle letter is botched as well. Rather than giving us the hooded stranger in the rain (which I personally rather like) Francis Tresham’s wife writes the letter for him after he finds out about it. Which is bo**ocks!
Whilst Carlyle makes for an acceptable James I, showing wonderfully the vile, putrid and unwholesome man that he was, he is let down by the storyline of him supposedly hating his wife with a passion, when, in actual fact, whilst they had their ups and downs, they had a strong respect for each other. The script also lets it down. There’s a nice, well performed and grizzly speech by Carlyle to Parliament at the end but in both parts this is the only minute of decent dialogue. And for some weird reason characters frequently turn to the camera and break the fourth wall. No… Just no. That’s an awful school play sort of thing. It shouldn’t happen in something like this.
Rating: 3/10- Basic and shoddy, it has some nice bits but not enough. Carlyle saves the day here.
OVERALL RATING (PART 1 AND 2): 1.5/10- Again, only because of Carlyle.
I thought this might be a good time, as every child in Britain has the events of the Gunpowder plot drilled into them on a yearly basis, to explore beyond the challenge and look at how the history has been utilised and adapted in a modern context. Starting with the one and only….
V FOR VENDETTA
General Opinion: A brilliant film in it’s own right, but suddenly it has a whole new meaning.
Review: 1984 + the Gunpowder Plot is an idea that spells disaster from the off. But it’s pulled off with brilliant zeal. Maybe it’s down to the source material (A comic Book by Alan Moore- The man who gave us such classics as Watchmen and the League of Extraordinary Gentlemen). Now I’ve never read the book, but maybe I should because this is a fantastic film and one I would definitely recommend watching if you haven’t seen it.
Set in a dark future where Britain is ruled by the fascist Norsefire party, led by Chancellor Sutlor, aided by his sinister minion Mr Creedy, the whole film oozes Orwellian fantasy. The very Orwellian slogan of ‘Faith through Unity, Unity through Faith‘ is seen throughout on various posters. People are beaten up and dragged off in the dead of night and John Hurt’s Chancellor appearing as a huge, evil face on a screen is chillingly reminiscent of Big Brother. But there are modern twists as well, the black surveillance vans prowling the streets and the decimation of the population by a deadly virus being the most prominent.
But this definitely isn’t 1984. It’s a world denizens of Orwell’s pages would find familiar, but its not that world. It borrows heavily from Orwell in it’s imagery, but it has its own story, its own plot and its own spunk.
Hugo Weaving as the enigmatic V makes this film. He spends the whole film behind a mask but there is just so much expression without much movement. It’s quite amazing. You know when he’s happy, sad, angry… And that’s even before he speaks. All in all, on its own merits this makes for a very good film.
However… It’s when you look at this film from a historical perspective that it really hits you in the face.
First off we have the obvious- The gunpowder plot. The whole thing is expertly weaved throughout the tale in both blatant and subtle ways… From the whole opening sequence of Guy Fawkes to the rather sly use of the word ‘bangin” in one scene, they make sure you never quite forget about it. This film could so easily have just turned into a modern hash of a real event, but instead when they use it as the basis and instead create a completely new story that sparkles and shines brilliantly, it becomes something else. Yes… It glorifies Guy Fawkes at the expense of the other plotters but we are talking about the modern world here and the other plotters have generally been forgotten about, so this can be forgiven.
When you look deeper though, you see that all of British history is threaded throughout and pulsating like a beating heart. It underpins the entire film and once you start looking for it it becomes impossible to avoid. The gunpowder plot, the plague, V For Victory… It’s all embedded into this film and once you notice this it all takes on a whole new meaning. It becomes the story of a nation fighting for freedom against an oppressive regime. It embodies the spirit of Britannia.
So, therefore, who is V? Well… Turns out that he’s all of our British heroes, all our myths and all our legends. Most prominently he’s Guy Fawkes… But he’s also King Arthur and Robin Hood. He’s Sherlock Holmes. He’s Boudicca, Henry V, Lord Nelson and Winston Churchill… He could even be Harry Potter ( that would be a revelation…). Well… That’s what I thought anyway.
Rating: 10/10- One that everybody should watch.
Doctor Who: The Adventure Games- The Gunpowder Plot
General Opinion: A detailed little game that’s good enough to waste a few hours on.
Review: There’s a major graphics problem with this game. It’s called Rory Williams. Well… Maybe it’s not that major but it’s an irritation. Every character in the game is well designed and believably humanoid/sontaranoid? except for Rory. For some reason Rory looks like a walking, talking cabbage patch doll who’s just been dropped into the TARDIS. Fortunately you kind of get used to him as the game progresses so it’s not that bad in all actuality. He looks better in the actual game than he does in the cut scenes- Plus you also get to play as him running around firing weapons at bad guys towards the end so it’s not all bad.
Then there’s the fun bit with Rory: Getting him killed in as many different ways as possible. It’s quite a humorous endeavour tbh. At one point I was running around shooting Rutans with an EMP device and he shouted “ASTA LA VISTA!” at one of them before promptly being shot in the head. Then there’s the bits where the game glitches and he falls through the ground, like the earth itself wants to be rid of him!
But that’s enough about Rory. What of the game itself? It’s good. Certainly worth having a go when you’ve got a few spare hours floating around. The storyline itself is more classic Doctor Who than anything else, but it suits the game. If it were modern Doctor Who then I don’t think it would work quite as well. It’s a good story-line, more than a match for any Call of Duty or Assassins Creed plots. In fact… It is in some ways better than an awful lot of games that are released these days. The problem comes with the actual dialogue. In places it is weak and limp wristed… Nineties style computer game dialogue if you like. The gunpowder plotters sound like they’re giving an educational lecture most of the time and the people you meet in the street just shout when you try and talk to them. Fortunately the regulars, Matt Smith et al. make light work of the script and it doesn’t seem half as bad.
As for gameplay, there’s enough substance to keep it entertaining and enjoyable but at times it can seem to be a bit easy. Much of the game is either spent solving some puzzles, running around trying to find things to enable progression or sneaking past bad guys/killing them. It’s no great endeavour but it’s fun and insanely addictive. The levels themselves are well crafted, particularly the London Bridge and Tyburn level, and there’s also a nice cameo from a Silent in there, which actually did scare me a little when i first found it. Plus you get fireworks as a nice little treat for finishing the game.
All in all, for a game that is absolutely free to download it’s well worth playing, even if there are a few problems with it.
Rating: 7/10- Well worth taking the time to play
The Gunpowder Plot: Exploding the Legend
General Opinion: An interesting experiment with the aim of discovering just what might have happened had the plot succeeded.
Review: Richard Hammond builds a replica of the House Of Lords from 1605, and then blows it up to see what happens. A simple premise peppered with the history of the plot throughout and answering some intriguing questions on the side. How would Fawkes have escaped? How much Gunpowder would have been enough? Would the plot have succeeded? It’s all rather interesting.
In places the history does seem a bit rushed, particularly towards the beginning. This isn’t about dealing with the established facts though. This is a big ‘what if.’ What if the House of Lords really had gone up that day in 1605? The answer, I’ll admit, is rather predictable but at the same time mind blowing. At the end you can’t fail to appreciate the audacity of a plot that, as it turns out, would have blown up half the city of Westminster and killed far more people than just the king and parliament.
It’s well worth a look just for the explosion alone.