Legion of Ultramen

We're here with Quentin Parks, director of the latest movie in the Legion of Ultramen franchise. Mr Parks has built his reputation as a thoughtful, insightful and occasionally provocative filmmaker who has done much in recent years to raise the profile of the independent sector. It has therefore come as something of a surprise that he should take on a big budget comic book adaptation. We asked him what it was that so attracted him to this latest project.

Parks:

Oh wow, all those guys with the superpowers are so cool! Y'know, wouldn't it be just awesome to be able to fly, or be invisible or have like superpower x-ray vision, or something? Just think - pow!

UBO:

I see, so am I right in thinking that that these concepts - the implausible, the impossible - these represent the kind of wish-fulfilment fantasies that provide a commonality between your characters; that there is, in this desperate need for escapism, a bond which unites us all?

Parks:

Oh yeah, sure, 'cos who doesn't want nuclear powered supercars or a jet-copters and all that? And Xenon Man has this amazing neutron cutlass that can cut through anything, which is just so cool. And do you know what the freaky thing is? They can like totally do that now. The military, they have them and, y'know, it would be just the most amazing thing ever to have one of those things. Kind of like zap! Goes through anything: steel, concrete. Anything!

UBO:

It's interesting that you talk about 'cutting through everything'. There is a theme which harks back to your very first film in which one of the characters - Lydia, I think it is - after learning the truth about her alcoholic father, talks about being able to 'slice through all her problems'. This metaphor appears several times throughout the film before she ultimately commits suicide. Of course, like many of your characters, she is never able to escape her dark past. With Legion of Ultramen, are you hoping to be able to do that once more? Is this about bringing the characters' inner turmoil out into the open?

Parks:

A bit, yeah. But mostly it's about a giant radioactive space lizard that's trying to suck out the core of the Earth through a straw inserted through the North Pole. The Ultramen have to work out their own interpersonal conflicts before teaming up to fight it with lasers.

UBO:

Interesting. You used a very similar idea in your 2006 movie The Conversation, in which a group of friends on a skiing holiday spend three consecutive evenings working through a number of issues and conflicts. That film had some very poignant and thought-provoking moments and took the audience on a highly charged emotional journey. Are you aiming for something like that here?

Parks:

Similar, yeah, but this is more about the lasers. And there's one really amazing bit where Mouse Boy leaps over a burning tank on a motorbike, which is also on fire. And we did it for real. No CGI. An actual burning motorbike jumping over an actual burning tank. It was fucking incredible! We were like, did you see that! Did you see that shit, man! That was like, for real!

UBO:

Fascinating. That's such an unusual concept. It's certainly a departure from your usual style and I think critics are going to be interested in seeing how much this new movie resembles your previous work. For instance, you've never shied away from providing difficult or incomplete resolutions and many of your films have ended with awkward moral questions that have left filmgoers feeling anxious and uncertain. Without giving anything away, does the denouement of the new Legion of Ultramen movie deliver a similar uncomfortable ambiguity?

Parks:

No. The space lizard gets its butt kicked

UBO:

Well, thank you for your time, Mr Parks. I'm sure we're all looking forward to seeing your new movie and I believe you've already starting work on your next project? I'm told that you will be returning to more familiar territory, with a bleak suburban drama that deals with hopelessness, addiction and a community's sense of betrayal by the outside world.

Parks:

That's right, yes.

UBO:

And what's it called?

Parks:

Ninja Vixens IV: Attack of the Robot Vampires.

UBO:

Thank you very much, Quentin Parks.

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