This looks pretty good....
Saturday, March 31, 2007
Flicking around last night, we came across 1985's 'Lifeforce' - with Steve Railsback at his best (giggle). My hubs and I have a special place in our heart for this flick. Mainly because the style exemplifies the 'British vs. the Alien' genre.
You see it in the Dr. Who series. Especially the older episodes where the action took place on earth. There was always matter of fact Brigadier Generals with green jumpers with elbow patches who took in everything without flinching. Nobody was ever really freaked out by Cybermen walking the streets or blood thirsty space vampires.
Bring in the military, close the city and lets get on with it.
In Lifeforce, London is trashed by weird blue lights and a horny vampire alien. Everyone Peter Firth explains this too, seems ok with it. They don't even blink.
We saw this in Invasion Earth too. Which was great. Real end of the world stuff. But with no big freak out flag waving. Just clenched jaws and gritted teeth. We don't know what it is but we will blast the hell out of it.
Even early British sci fi was filled with this understatement and calm. From 'The Village of the Dammed' to the wonderful Quatermass series.
Quatermass and the Pit or Five Million Years to Earth, as I knew it had the British authorities unearth an ancient alien species with strange psychic abilities and nobody questioned this. Nobody blamed the Russians...no cold war paranoia. It was aliens. Right, better get on with it then. Call in the guard and get those green jumpers on.
We always giggle at these shows....Britain has been attacked by so many strange creatures over the years, that they are the pro's in this business. Torchwood must be real! It must be because of the two World Wars. The brits are so good at handling big things and work so hard at not making a big fuss about things....that this is how they react to even the weirdest of events.
If there is ever an alien invasion, I am moving to the UK. I think I would be much safer, despite the robots and blood thirsty aliens, or strange zombie viruses out and about.
Mind you, my husband pointed out that Canada is probably the safest place because in any movies about invasions or natural disasters, Canada never gets a mention. Nothing....I swear we must have some sort of force field that circles our country.....and keeps it out of internation news and notice from aliens!
Friday, March 30, 2007
... life will once more become worth living this Saturday at 1900 GMT as Doctor Who returns on the BBC for season 3 of the new series! The Doctor (the not unattractive David Tennant) has got a new companion in the form of Martha Jones (Freema Agyeman) and I am frankly getting a little bit over excited. My joy literally knows no bounds and so I will say nothing more to avoid making the post resemble a sort of giant, unsightly lovefest unsuitable for a family blog such as this.
Thursday, March 29, 2007
This just struck me as something fun to do. Don't we all have characters that get on our nerves in certain movies? Well, here are a few that bug me-- tell me what you think. Jar Jar Binks: No explanation needed. What was George Lucas thinking? Anakin Skywalker: This character never really had a chance did he? Who on earth thought Jake Lloyd could act? And Anakin never really fared much better when Hayden Christiansen took over the role: though George Lucas really must take the blame for making all of his actors behave as woodenly as possible. But let's face it, Darth Vader was never really that interesting until he became Darth Vader. Cyclops: I almost feel sorry for Cyclops. Maybe I would have liked him better if Wolverine hadn't taken an instant dislike to him. But he just never seemed that tough despite his killer eyesight. And when you rank him against all the X-Men he unfortunately doesn't seem to measure up. Poor Scott. Elektra: I haven't read comic books in years, so I might like this character a lot more as she is meant to be. But I never cared for the Jennifer Garner version of the character. I know it probably seems like I have some sort of weird grudge against Garner, but I don't: I just don't think she can act. And I never thought Elektra's toughness came across convincingly in Daredevil or the movie Elektra. I mean, wasn't she killed pretty much in her first serious confrontation in Daredevil? Though I honestly don't know how tough she came across in her own movie since I couldn't force myself to sit all the way through it. Harry Osborn: As played by James Franco in the Spiderman movies. This guy just always comes across as spoiled and whiny to me. I know he is supposed to turn into the Green Goblin, like his father, at some point: but I wish he'd get on with it already and quit blaming Peter Parker and Spiderman for everything. Be a man already. Twiki: I know it's probably heresy for me to say it, but Twiki used to annoy the heck out of me. I admit I had the poor taste to like Buck Rodgers as a kid, but I drew the line at thinking Twiki was funny. For some reason a smart alec robot didn't work for me and the whole "Bidibidibidibidi" got old. Maybe I'm just cranky. Shannon Rutherford: Thank all that is good in the universe that Shannon Rutherford is no longer on Lost (sorry if any of you didn't know that). I despised this character from day one. Was she ever not snotty and annoying? I am going to be forever mystified by the fact that the producers of the show thought Sayid and her could ever make a convincing couple. No, no, I refuse to ever believe he could fall in love with her. I'm being very rational about this. Really. Gollum: I'm not even sure if I should put Gollum on this list because I don't think we were really meant to like him. But as the Lord of the Rings trilogy developed I got really tired of Gollum. One can only hear someone go on about my precious in an incredibly annoying voice before you want to hurt someone. Thank goodness Andy Serkis doesn't actually look or sound anything like Gollum, or I wouldn't be able to watch him in anything else. And all in all, I like Serkis, just not when he's doing that voice.
My little sister makes a killer cheesecake that's cooler than James Bond in a tux. She can spew out all kind of culinary terms as fast as my little brother can quote sports figures. So it was no surprise when she said she would be attending culinary school in the fall. One of the perks of having a sister who's a serious foodie is that I get to borrow all of her cool cookbooks. I was browsing through one of them this morning and then sometime odd occured...I felt like I was looking at something off the SciFi Channel. Some fruits look really strange, almost alien. Here are a few of God's interesting little creations: 1. Passion Fruit - Have you seen the inside of one of these? It looks like something you would serve to little green men from Mars. 2. Pomegranates - I know they're supposed to be super healthy for you but why does it look like at any given moment one of those pods will awaken and bite the tip of your tongue off. 3. Papaya - Sure these are great in smoothies but what would happen if legs sprouted out of those tiny black seeds? Umm..yuck. 4. White peaches - friendly peaches by day, blood suckers by night. And don't even get me started on vegetables...that's a whole other weird world .
I only have the energy for silly stuff like this.
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Wednesday, March 28, 2007
3 posts in one day, what is the world coming to? You know, of course, that I will not be posting anything tomorrow... However, I am almost a week late with this, and Carl over at Stainless Steel Droppings has issued a challenge and it's just too good for this blog to pass up. It's called the The Once Upon a Time Book Challenge. There's another link HERE that has some great suggestions for books to read. The basic idea is to commit to reading 5 books (though allowances are made for those who just don't have the time) from March 22 to Midsummer Night's Eve June 21st. They can be in any combination of the following genre's: Mythology, Folklore, Fairytale or Fantasy. There is also a special challenge to read A Midsummer Night's Dream, though it is by no means required. The funny thing is that I am already reading two books right now that fit right into the mythology category, since I have been thinking about writing a story based on Greek Mythology. So I am going to add some of my current reading to my list and add some other books I have on my to-do list. My list: The Firebrand by Marion Zimmer Bradley The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley The Merlin Trilogy by Mary Stewart The Taste of the Night by Vicki Peterson All Together Dead by Charlaine Harris And if I have time, A Midsummer Night's Dream by William Shakespeare I'm not attempting to keep my books in each of the categories since I already have most of these sitting in a pile to be read. I'm also currently reading a couple of encyclopedia's of Greek Mythology, so I'm rather loaded down. I hope a few of you (especially those who may not already read a lot of fantasy) take up the challenge. This one is pretty easy for me because I would have read these books anyway. But I like the idea of encouraging others to pick up a fantasy book and try something new. Let me know if any of you are inspired to take up the challenge, and forward your lists and I'll link them.
My friend Mike sent me a bloggers poem that reflects my frustration with losing a blog post. Bloggers' Night Before Christmas 'Twas the night before Christmas, and inside each house Was a blogger quite busy with keyboard and mouse. A post each one published on Blogger with care; Then viewed the results with a horrified stare. They wistfully thought of their comfortable beds While dealing with problems that each blogger dreads: The bloggers on Beta are caught in a trap They cannot revert though their blogs turned to cr*p. Blogger has always got something the matter Both versions have problems, not just the latter: Our lengthiest posts disappear in a flash To see our file uploads we must delete cache The style sheet's gone crazy, but why we don't know The sidebar's no longer beside, it's below Your blog skin and link list may soon disappear Along with your archives for most of the year Unless you go back up your template, and QUICK You might lose it all with just one ill-timed click. And if all of that is too much of a pain You'd better ask Santa for your own domain. Quick Note: That Zeroes video? Turns out it wasn't just a homemade parody. NBC produced it to hype the show. Kind of disappointing huh?
I seem to like lists. But I guess that’s what blogs are for: to write lists and commentary about things we like or dislike and hope that someone will choose to comment on it. There is no way, however, that I could possibly list every character I like in all the sci-fi movies I’ve seen; so here I will just mention a few with the promise (threat) of more to come in the future. Han Solo: I don't know if I like Han Solo because he's a great character, or because Harrison Ford plays the part. I guess it doesn't really matter. Han Solo was the guy I think all the boys wanted to be when playing out their Star Wars fantasies. And why not? He was the cool one; the guy with all the one liners-- and he got the girl. And yet somehow there was more to the character than we've kind of come to expect from George Lucas. I know the character was meant to have a change of heart at the end, but Ford made it believable. I only wish we had had a character (or actor?) like this in the most recent Star Wars trilogy. Captain Kirk: I almost picked Picard. I love Picard, I really do. But I have to pay homage to the original Captain of the Enterprise; Captain Kirk. This is another character that's hard to separate from the actor. William Shatner is such a great over-the-top personality that he will probably be parodied forever. But somehow I always felt that Kirk wouldn't be the character we love to see making out with green women without Shatner's zest. And in a way the character, the show and the costumes kind of demanded a certain campiness; kind of like Adam West's portrayal of Batman. Speaking of which.... Batman: But not just any Batman; I particularly like Christian Bale’s take on the Dark Knight. I wasn’t a huge fan of the character during the 80’s--especially the Tim Burton versions. But the re-imagining of the character in Batman Begins really impressed me. The character development in this particular film was well done and Christian Bale seems to really bring the right kind of stillness-that-can-turn-into-menace to the role. Sarah Connor: Sarah Connor was a character that I liked in the first Terminator movie, but grew to love in the second. She might have been a little crazy, but then you’d kind of expect any woman who’s been chased by cyborgs to be a little unhinged. But I remember when T2 came out and I can’t remember another female action hero who had been so muscular prior to Linda Hamilton’s buff portrayal. It seemed as if every actress in Hollywood strove for that look from that day on. But the character was more than defined arms, she was tough. I don’t know how many of the female action hero’s of today would be the same if Linda Hamilton hadn’t set the standard. Wolverine: Yeah, my avatar might be Mystique, but if I was a guy it would be Wolverine. I only became familiar with the character when the X-Men movies came out; but something tells me I would have liked him in the comic books too-- though I certainly won’t argue with the taller Hugh Jackman in the role. Wolverine is tough, cynical and sometimes a bit of a jerk. But so what? He’s another one that’s just cool. The mystery surrounding Wolverine makes him interesting and his flaws make him empathetic. And apparently I’m not the only one who likes him-- a X-Men spin-off movie based on him is now in the works. Trinity: I loved the originality of The Matrix. I loved the fact that the movie made me think after it was over. But as a woman I also couldn’t help but love the character of Trinity. I will admit there is a part of me that still doesn’t really believe that she could fall in love with Keanu Reeves, but that’s beside the point. I really liked Carrie Ann Moss in the role too. Who else could point a gun at Agent Smith’s head and say “Dodge this” with such authority? So that's my pick, for today anyway. As always, I'd love to hear what characters you've liked in the past and who you would like to see more of.
Tuesday, March 27, 2007
These are the moments when I want to throw my computer through the window. I just spent the last hour or so writing a new post and blogger said an error occurred when I went to post it and deleted the whole thing. *&^%$# Blogger! The short version is that there are going to be two new shows premiering later this year: The New Bionic Woman and The Sarah Connor Chronicles. I had a whole post about it, commentary and everything. But right now I am too traumatized to rewrite the whole thing. *sigh*
Monday, March 26, 2007
Look at that, I'm Deep Space Nine even though I said that I wanted to fight space hippies.
Posted by Jon the Intergalactic Gladiator at 3/26/2007
Saturday, March 24, 2007
Friday, March 23, 2007
King Arthur. Where to start? I think I first became acquainted with the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table at about the time Excalibur was released in 1981. Oh sure, Disney had released The Sword in the Stone back in 1963, but I'm not sure that counts. I haven't seen Excalibur in many years, but I'll never forget the scene when Percival, during his search for the Grail, comes across a number of his fellow Knights hanging dead from a tree, their corpses being picked over by birds. Disney can't compete with the imagery of Excalibur. The story of King Arthur can compete with any soap opera. There's love, lust, betrayal, magic-- you name it. Not only that, but it's the kind of story that can even get historical scholars debating its importance (perhaps Alex can weigh in here). However, from my perspective as simply a fan of sword and sorcery myth, King Arthur looms large as an influence on the genre. Whenever you see or read a story about a young man unaware of his legacy, such as Luke Skywalker or Harry Potter, it's pretty easy to see the just how much these stories take from the King Arthur legend. And though many think that Harry Potter is a direct rip-off of Star Wars, I would argue that Star Wars is sort of a King Arthur-in-space kind of story. Luke Skywalker parallels Arthur in many ways: Luke is raised as a farmer unaware that he is the son of royalty (Queen Amidala in this case), learns of his legacy from Obi-Wan Kenobi--who could be considered a Merlin-type character, and uses a lightsaber-- a sort of space-age Excalibur IMO. You can fill in the blanks with Harry Potter too. And just the sheer volume of literature spawned by the King Arthur story is staggering. I mean, you have everything from A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court by Mark Twain to The Mists of Avalon by Marion Zimmer Bradley. There are individual novels about virtually every character from Arthur, Merlin, Lancelot and Guenevere-- and on. This topic is so huge, that I honestly don't know how I can possibly cover it all. In fact, I know I can't. So why don't you tell me what the Arthurian legend means to you. What movies do you think of? What books? What famous stories do you think find their roots in King Arthur?
Thursday, March 22, 2007
Am I the only one who thinks this is cool? It's even cooler when you're standing in Harvard Square, sipping on a lemonade and watching these "worlds" being created right before your eyes. There's no dramatic Lincoln Park-esque soundtrack but if you really want music I guess you could blast your iPod until people give your dirty looks for being rude.
Wednesday, March 21, 2007
I loved Mel Brooks as a kid. And why not? His humor can definitely be on the juvenile side. He will always be somewhat forgiven for his fart humor (Blazing Saddles-- my husband's favorite btw) because he created one of my all time favorite movies; Young Frankenstein. If you haven't seen Young Frankenstein, you really should. It was made in 1974 and stars a young Gene Wilder as Doctor Baron Frederick von Frankenstein, the grandson of the infamous creator of the Frankenstein monster. Probably my favorite part of the movie is when Wilder's character is addressing a class he is teaching and someone uses the traditional pronunciation of the name Frankenstein while asking him a question. He becomes so agitated that he stabs himself in the leg while yelling "My name is Fronkensteen!" Once he calms down and realises he has a scalpel in his leg, he quietly, brokenly says "class dismissed..." That cracks me up every time. This particular Brooks film is probably the best, IMO, because it goes beyond the normal, superficial humor that we see in a lot of Brooks' movies. Wilder's character struggles with his family legacy and yet embraces it in the end-- with humorous results. Mel Brooks often used the same actors in many of his movies. Gene Wilder starred in Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles and The Producers. Other actors you would frequently see in a Mel Brooks film include Marty Feldman, Cloris Leachman and Madeline Kahn. I grew up watching many of these actors and thought they were tremendously funny. But the thing I liked best about Mel Brooks was that he often parodied my favorite film genres. I already mentioned Young Frankenstein, but perhaps you haven't heard of Spaceballs; Brooks' film spoof of Star Wars. Instead of Princess Leia, we have Princess Vespa. Dark Helmet takes the place of Darth Vader and Chewbacca becomes known as Barf. This is not for intellectuals mind you, it's slapstick and often goes for obvious jokes (such as the light saber being used in an overtly phallic manner) but it can be funny. In 1995 Brooks also attempted to spoof the Dracula legend by making Dracula: Dead and Loving It. By this time however I don't think audiences were as into these types of parodies as they used to be. Or maybe it's just that I had grown up and didn't find them as funny as I did when I was 10. In a way that's a shame. The movies are silly and meant to be that way. And for some reason Mel Brooks could get me to appreciate over-the-top humor the way no one else could. He also co-wrote and created the 60's series Get Smart. Maxwell Smart, played by Don Adams was the anti-James Bond (or perhaps a later version of Inspector Clouseau from Pink Panther). Bumbling and not-too-bright, Smart was always fun to watch while he tried to use his Bond-gadgets to save the day. Though I don't know that Bond ever had a shoe phone. So, for good or ill, Mel Brooks definitely had a hand in shaping my sense of humor. I still think Young Frankenstein is funny and I can chuckle at Blazing Saddles and High Anxiety. And though there have been some other great parodies made over the years (Airplane!) I can't think of any in recent years that were as funny as the old ones. Is a good parody a lost art? Or am I just not looking hard enough? What silly movies do you guys like and what do you recommend for a good laugh?
Monday, March 19, 2007
I tend to fall into a pattern on the old blog; that is I write about what I like most of the time. Occasionally I'll write about what I don't like, but not as often. And then there's the stuff I just don't understand. I love sci-fi and fantasy; that much is obvious. But that doesn't mean I like everything that is put out in the genre. I also don't have a brain that understands a whole lot of scientific mumbo jumbo. I like sci-fi movies and I can play along if facts are presented in layman's terms. I do not claim to be a genius. But if I'm being really honest, I have to admit it's the artsy stuff that tends to really lose me. Okay, so artsy is a subjective term, but maybe you'll see what I'm getting at. For example: Stanley Kubrick. I know to some he is a God among filmmakers. But frankly, I don't get it. I have tried watching films like Dr. Strangelove, 2001: A Space Odyssey and A Clockwork Orange and I can never make it all the way through any of them. To me they tend to be overly drawn out and well, artsy. I can honestly admit the style just doesn't appeal to me. Mentioning Kubrick also made me think of another thing I don't really get, though it isn't often sci-fi or fantasy related. I was looking up info on films and it was mentioned that A Clockwork Orange was controversial at the time it was released-- that's not the part I don't understand. (Yep, I'm going on a tangent) Let me explain... I worked at a movie theatre when I was a teenager and the movie The Last Temptation of Christ came out while I was working there. All the local churches, the leaders and their congregations were in an uproar. In fact, a local reverend came to my movie theatre while I was working there, with a camera crew from the local news station, and shoved a microphone in my face and asked me what I thought about the fact that the theatre was going to show the movie. You want to know the best part? The movie hadn't been released yet and no one had seen it. Not only that, but the theatre I worked at wasn't going to be showing the film. So what this dumb*** thought I was going to have to say about it was anyone's guess. It bugs me to no end when people protest movies that haven't been released yet. Religious movies seem to be a favorite target. I also remember The Passion of the Christ being called anti-Semitic prior to it's release. Granted, what we know now about Mel Gibson and his views may indeed prove the point. But I'd rather hear opinions based on actually seeing the film thankyouverymuch. The same should apply to books too. If you're going to try to ban a book from library shelves, at least do me the favor of actually reading them. I don't care if someone objects to Harry Potter (though I don't like someone trying to tell me what I ought to believe) I just want to know that they have actually done more than read the back cover. And since I've taken this post off on a completely different tangent than I originally intended, let me throw in one more thing I don't understand. People who are famous for no particular reason. Need I even name names? (Paris Hilton) How on earth did this particular trend get started? Was it a result of yet another inexplicable trend, "reality" shows? I don't get either of these things. People who are nothing but "personalities" (and I use the term loosely) and shows that have nothing to do with reality whatsoever. What has happened to our culture? Or did we ever have any culture to speak of? Now that I look at my post, I realize that the only thing here that makes any sense at all is Stanley Kubrick. I'm going to go watch A Clockwork Orange now.....
Sunday, March 18, 2007
My friend Mike over at What's Happening Vegas? had an interesting post that I thought would translate into a good post for this blog. He mentions a guy by the name of Robert Lazar who claims to have worked in the notorious Area 51 and had the opportunity to study alien spacecraft. What if it this guy was telling the truth? Granted, the guy is probably a crackpot, but it is kind of fun to toss around the idea isn't it? I tend to be in the camp that believes aliens do exist, though I don't know if alien contact has actually occurred or not. The funny thing about people like Lazar is that they are believable precisely because they claim government conspiracy. Doesn't almost everyone believe the government is concealing at least something of significance from the public? It isn't much of a stretch to think that they would conceal alien contact is it? Movies like Men in Black and TV shows like X-Files base much (if not all) their storylines on the government-hides-the-aliens premise. What is interesting to me about Lazar though is that he isn't another I was abducted type who we all generally dismiss without thought; though I don't know if he is generally taken much more seriously. But this is a topic I frankly don't know much about. Have any of you heard or read anything credible on this subject? Or do you pretty much assume it's all bunk?
Saturday, March 17, 2007
How much did I hate this movie???
"300" is all pretty pictures (and I admit there are many of them) and no substance---much like most things tainted by Frank Miller). However,in this instance, Frank Miller can be held mostly blameless. Instead let's put the blame where it belongs: in the empty void of candy cotton nothing that is director Zack Snyder.
There is much here that toys with the audience, giving glimpses of what could have been reworked into a solid film. For instance, the character of Leonides' wife and her political moves to convince Sparta to send the army to back the 300 warriors in their battle against the Persians. Here, is the potential for something compelling. However, "one-note" Zack and his poor choice of Lena Heady as Queen Gorgo crush that flower before it can blossom.
Another element that could have given this film the depth it desires is Gerald Butler and his portrayal of Leonides. Now Butler, who continues to fall short of a strong film presence in his career, falls even shorter being hamstrung by Snyder. Instead of anything resembling nuance or subtlety, we are given horrible close-ups that last far too long as Snyder forces Butler to glare inward and brood. I can just hear Snyder calling out: "Now look left, now right. Camera One, zoom in..more..more...I wanna see that pupil glisten!!!"
The visuals, many of which are in your face homoerotic, are amazing. Lot's of pec, oiled down abs, and mansweat. Truman Capote would have cried at such a dose of testosterone. That, or exploded.
However, as should have learned from Lucas, a film needs to be more. I should not have been watching the rhino charge and laughing out loud. The Persian horde is an absurity in this film. One wave of bizarre warriors after another attack the 300. Here comes the ninja boys, then the bomb hurling whatever they are, and behind them the snarky looking thingums with the twisted faces. I kept expecting Michael Beck and the Warriors from the 1970's cult film to make an appearance.
Sadly, behind this display of oddities the real drama and the real humanity that made Leionides stand such great drama is lost.
But don't worry, many critics out there, doubtless numbed by the poor quality of last year's offerings, have heaped praise on this outing. Or maybe many contemporary critics have lost their way. Or maybe they're getting payola.
And the fanboys will be thrilled. They'll clap their greasy little hands and their utterances of "cool" and "kick-ass" will be heard in bursts throughout the theater. But fanboys are a pathetic lot overall, losing perspective or taste when it comes to trying to be critical about their genre or favorite author (I'm guilty of that as well).
I know many people reading this will try and defend this film. They'll scoff: "You didn't get it" or "You just don't like Frank Miller. You didn't like Sin City, either". They'll find ways to justify kitsch. They always do.
Friday, March 16, 2007
Thursday, March 15, 2007
There are three type of cable movies: the ones you really want to see, the ones you never want to watch again and the ones you stumble across when you've eaten too much Taco Bell and you can't sleep. Cyborg 2 is one of the latter. I stumbled across it on the Sci Fi Channel late one night and paused to give it a chance because I vaguely remembered the first one with Jean-Claude Van Damme being good. I hadn't seen that one since the early nineties and all I could remember was Van Damme kicking butt (like only he can do). The sequel exchanges a buff Van Damme for a sensitive yet sultry Jolie. Cyborg 2 reminds me a low-budget version of The Island. It includes a not too distant future, an escape from an evil company and the two main characters spend a large portion of the movie being chased. Cyborg 2 is cheesy, no doubt about it. But for the sake of all things Angelina Jolie it was fun seeing her pre-Tomb Raider days. That got me to thinking, it's about time for her to do a new Sci-Fi movie. And one that doesn't have a "2" in the title. Let's see...maybe she could play the role of a woman with an extremely hot boyfriend who goes around the universe adopting poor orphan alien babies from different planets and basically ends up saving the world. Sound like a taker? You tell me.
Wednesday, March 14, 2007
Monday, March 12, 2007
Is it me, or are we as people fairly pessimistic? The reason I ask is that while I was looking for movies that were set in the future I noticed that movie makers generally seem to assume we're heading for trouble. Avery had a post on his blog that mentioned the movie Logan's Run, which is what got me to thinking about this topic in the first place. I remember seeing this movie when I was a kid. I don't remember if it was particularly good, but I do remember it. If you haven't seen it, the basic idea is that the futuristic society in this movies kills off everyone once they reach the ripe old age of 30. If anyone attempts to escape this fate and become a "runner" then another character called a "sandman" will hunt you down. The main character, Logan-- a sandman in the beginning, becomes a runner, hence the name of the movie. What's interesting to me about futuristic movies is that there always seems to be assumptions that the planet will either be totally overpopulated, resulting in a need for extreme population control, or that we will be living in a totally post-apocalyptic society in which humanity will be struggling to survive. Well, either that or the machines will take over. But no matter the future depicted, it usually isn't one we would want to live in. Another movie that follows the overpopulation scenario is Soylent Green. This movie also uses euthanasia as a convenient form of population control, but also explores other problems associated with too many people. The name of the movie refers to a type of food that has been developed to feed a population that does not have the money, or access to regular food. Soylent green is a sort of cracker like wafer that is supposed to be a combination of soy and lentils which are cheap to produce. And though the main "scandal" of the movie is the fact that Soylent Green isn't solely made of soy and lentils, I won't spoil it for those who haven't seen it. Like Logan's Run, Soylent Green is pretty dystopian in nature. The Government is run amok and the poor, pathetic populace at large doesn't really know a thing. Hmmm, maybe they're on to something here. Mad Max, the movie that brought us Mel Gibson (I'll let you make the judgement call on that) is sort of the flip side of dystopian stories like Logan's Run. Set in post apocalyptic Australia, Gibson is a member of the Main Force Patrol, who's job it is to protect the few surviving citizens from violent motorcycle gangs. To be honest, I don't remember this movie that well. It wasn't my taste at the time but I do remember it showed a bleak vision of the future. I also remember 12 Monkeys as a very bleak, and profoundly weird movie that assumed most of us probably won't survive very long. Like a lot of futuristic movies, 12 Monkeys assumes that time travel will be possible in the future and that it will be used to try to change the past. Unlike the Terminator movies, our fate isn't at the hands of machines who have decided to take over, but rather the result of a man made virus that wiped out most of the population. The virus is so virulent that the survivors are forced to live underground as it is still possible to be killed if one ventures above ground. The movie does end on an open-ended note, with the possibility that humanity will still be able to change the future. But it is one weird ride. Omega Man is a more old school version of the same theme in 12 Monkeys. I haven't seen this one, but it came up a lot when I was looking at post-apocalyptic movies to include in this post. Charlton Heston stars in this one as the Omega Man, "the last immune and uninfected person on Earth" according to Wikipedia. Those of you who have seen this will have to tell me if it's worth watching. But the thing that is really interesting to me is that most movies and books about viral/bacterial/chemical infections wiping out humanity were written prior to 9/11 and our current worries of chemical/biological weapons after the Anthrax attacks of several years ago. It could be argued that authors like Michael Crichton, The Andromeda Strain and Stephen King, The Stand were just a little bit prescient on the subject. I mentioned The Terminator movies previously, and they are kind of the go-to example of films about machines taking over the world with Battlestar Galactica as the television equivalent. Blade Runner examines the idea of sentient machines without the complete takeover of humanity, though the society depicted in this future isn't particularly rosy either. The Matrix assumes sentient machines will use us as batteries and I, Robot shows us where it all might begin. And I haven't even begun to talk about the aliens-take-over-the-world scenario. But like all my posts, I run the risk of going on and on and you get the idea. If we were to belive most authors/movie-makers/TV shows, we don't have a heck of a lot to look forward to. I don't know if this is the result of a basic study of human nature, or if simply put, it sells. Some of these movies do end on a hopeful note, though as often as not nothing is expected to change. And the funny thing is, we like it. I know I do anyway. I guess I do hope for a happy ending though. A humanity-will-triumph ending-- only time will tell though...
Saturday, March 10, 2007
Dorothy pours the water on the witch by accident, who screeches. "Oh, no!!! Stupid child!! What have you done. I'm melting!!! I'm melting!!!"
Darth Vader, trying to redeem himself, turns on the Emperor to save his son. Lightning crackles, tearing through him, piercing his defenses. He lifts his master and pitches him into the void. Having dones this, he sinks to face death, knowing that while his past deeds may be unforgivable, he has at least done one thing worthy
Dr. No, having almost successfully initiated a nuclear war between the United States and Soviet Union, screams in rage as he faces James Bond. They clash. No, who isn't used to defeat, finds himself overpowered and shoved into a pool of boiling water. Ouch.
And these are just the D's
A matinee where the good guy and the bad guy clash in epic battle is never so satisfying as the moment when the villain buys it. But it's not enough to just cash in the chips. That villain needs to exit in a grand style, with a departure that befits his or her various crimes. Think about the endings of Dr. Octopus, the crazy Gary Busey character from the original "Lethal Weapons", the death of the giant in "The Amazing Colossal Man". Now that makes for some good popcorn eating.
Of course, the above death of Darth Vader, now that we have seen the first three films, in no way makes up for his earlier crimes (slaughtering the children at the Jedi Academy), but we didn't know any of that when watching "Return of the Jedi".
But Darth Vader aside, when I opt for mindless escapist fare on a Saturday afternoon, I want to see life and death writ large. I'll forgive all manner of plot holes and character flaws if only you'll wow and dazzle me.
Stun an audience...and they'll love ya.
Bore them, and they'll only look for flaws.
Heroes... I love this show. I was skeptical when I first heard the premise. Another superhero rip off show. I was wrong. It has tremendous potential. Oh mind you, I'm a little disappointed at how slow the storyline drags along from time to time, but if you watch the shows in blocks, as I did when was rerun on a marathon on the Sci Fi channel, then it gallops into a cohesive tale.
Although I am tempted to throw more accolades onto the heap, let me instead say what I said to my wife last week: "I will finish this season and then wait until Season Two is on DVD rather than watch it week to week." Why? Consider that "Heroes" is now on its second break of its first season. Fans who sat on the edge of their seats now have to wait until the end of April for the series to resume. WTF?
When "Battlestar Gallactica" started this, I nodded. Okay, a science fiction show, it probably needs time to get its effects together. And I would rather have a break than watch a bunch of reruns. But two breaks? TWO??!!! No. I draw the line there.
In the last two years I have watched several series on DVD. I've watched the entire X-Files, except for the last two seasons (I'll be finishing that this summer). I've watched "Millenium", "The Shield", "Rescue Me" and "24" in the same way. At times my wife and I would kick back on a Saturday night and after some fooling around watch Jack Bauer for a four hour block torture his way into our hearts. What struck us was how well the continuity of some of these shows worked when watched that way. And sometimes, how tired one became of recurring storylines.
Of course, it's tough to stay away from a show because you want to wait for the DVD. I've been sorely tempted to watch a little of "Lost"'s current season. Just a peak. But nope, I'm keeping my resolve so I can watch it on DVD, without commercials, without having to wait weeks while they interrupted airings.
So, I say of "Heroes", one of the three television shows that I watch as aired: ENOUGH IS ENOUGH. After this season, I won't be watching you until Season Two's DVD is available. The whole season. And they better not do what BSG does, release Season 2.1 and then 2.2.
Friday, March 09, 2007
Just thought I'd let anyone who is interested know that I might need to take a couple of days off. I'm having a little family drama going on right now and it's leaving me feeling a little addlepated. I'm sure it's nothing a two day coma won't fix and with any luck I'll feel up to writing my normal nonsense in no time. If anyone who isn't already a contributor would like to author something, let me know and I'll send you an invite. If I don't see you all soon, have a nice weekend.
Thursday, March 08, 2007
Tuesday, March 06, 2007
Now for the men; I'm all about equal time on the blog. This is kind of a hard post to write because there are so many action heroes out there. Obviously I can't possibly cover them all, so I'll compose my list, starting with some of the one's who came earliest, and I'll leave it up to the rest of you to add your own choices. Where could I start but with Superman? He is kind of ageless though isn't he? Superman first appeared in the late 30's and has gone through more incarnations than any superhero I can think of. And why not? He was basically the superhero that started it all IMO. Not only was he meant to fight evil (as defined by the mores of the times) but he was beyond powerful. He was also the first costumed superhero which added to the mystique and seemed to define him as much as his powers. He has been the star of comics, television shows, movies and the topic of more than a few dissertations. If not for Superman would Batman or Spiderman exist? One can only speculate. The Lone Ranger may not be THE first, but the character goes back to 1933, first appearing on radio before appearing on television in the 40's. He was not a superhero like Superman, but he may have paved the way for powerful, though mortal, action heroes; and perhaps was the first to introduce us to the sidekick. Tonto may have had a large influence on the creators of famous sidekicks like Robin, though I suppose Dr. Watson deserves credit for coming first. And as a solitary crusader who wore a mask to hide his true identity, he had a thing or two in common with Superman. He was also described as a master of disguise which may have also influenced the creators of shows like Mission Impossible. Bruce Lee only lived until he was 32 years of age and yet he may have had one of the largest influences on the action film ever. Oddly, it was his last film, Enter the Dragon--released after his death, that made him famous. Perhaps it was his death that created the legend but he is still arguably one of the best martial artists who ever lived. His movies captivated our interest and opened the door to future stars such as Jackie Chan, Steven Segal and Jet Li. And his influence goes beyond the martial arts film. Virtually any current action star in any genre is now virtually expected to display some impressive martial arts skills. From movies like The Matrix to The Transporter, Bruce Lee's influence lives on. One of my all time favorite action hero's is James Bond. Created by writer Ian Flemming in 1952, Bond has had almost as many incarnations at Superman. The definitive super spy, Bond seems to have defined a genre. In films spanning over 40 years and 6 leading men (not including TV versions), Bond is endlessly fascinating regardless of whether or not we like the current actor portraying him. And while Sean Connery has long been held as the ultimate James Bond, Daniel Craig has delighted many by breathing new-- very muscular-- life into the character. While there are some action heroes like Bond who transcend time and manage to survive many actors in the role, there are other men who have made virtually whole careers on being known as action heroes. Arnold Schwarzenegger is a classic example of this. Already well known as a bodybuilder, Schwarzenegger gained some credibility as an action star (if not a great actor) in 1982's Conan the Barbarian before really bursting onto the screen in James Cameron's Terminator. And though the future Governator would occasionally try his hand at other genre's in movies like Twins, he still devoted most of his career, and success, to action films; building a resume that includes movies like Commando, The Running Man, Predator as well as two Terminator sequels. In a career very similar to that of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Sylvester Stallone has also been largely defined as a star of action films. Stallone first hit it big with the Academy Award winning film Rocky which he wrote, directed and starred in. Rocky was more the story of an underdog than a straight on action movie, but I believe the fight scenes convinced audiences that Stallone was more of an action figure than actor; later films like First Blood only cemented that impression. And also like Schwarzenegger, Stallone also made some attempts at films outside the action genre, with almost universally dismal results. (Stop or My Mom Will Shoot....) He had some success with films like Cobra and Cliffhanger but his legacy will definitely rest largely on the Rocky franchise. Harrison Ford is someone I need to mention for no other reason than he has created not one, but two iconic action heroes; Han Solo and Indiana Jones. George Lucas may have intended the hero of the Star Wars saga to be Luke Skywalker, but everyone I knew thought Han Solo was cool. And Harrison Ford was the action hero who could really act. He proved his ability in a number of dramatic films from The Mosquito Coast to Presumed Innocent. But luckily for fans he still kept his hand in the action genre with classics like Blade Runner, as well as more mainstream movies like Air Force One. There are so many characters and actors that fit into this genre that I could literally go on for pages. I think I'll spare you that. But this is a list I think is good to start with. These are the men who make it possible for people like The Rock to even have a career. Action stars do not need to be great actors (think Keanu Reeves), and they still have this ability to make us watch them. Maybe it's the fantasy of being invincible. Whatever the reason, we love to watch these guys in action, don't we?