12.25.2012

LEXX: CREATIVITY EXPLOSION

Been re-watching all of LEXX ... amazing how insanely creative that show was and what they were able to achieve with a limited budget. So wonderful how the throughline of the story has a such a resonant and poignant payoff in the final episode ... and along the way they spoof Star Trek, The Wizard of Oz, Brigadoon, Dracula, Survivor, survivalists, Apocalypse Now, internet porn, and so much more ... just genius.  

12.17.2012

EXTENDED STAR TREK TRAILER LEAKS ON RUSSIAN SITE

The extended trailer doesn't have a whole lot more than what's been in the two shorter trailers: It starts off like a car commercial, then they go to Professor X's School for Mutants (oh it's a hospital), some nobodies give a white rabbit stuffed animal to a sick kid ... Cumber's Batch appears and says "I can save her" ... natives chase Kirk and McCoy on the Red Plant planet ... Kirk shoots another dumb-looking CGI creature left over from Lucasfilm and the phaser sounds like a Photon Torpedo (garage-spring clang) ... lots of fake drama: Sulu "We can't take this heat" - then why are you piloting a shuttle craft into a volcano? ... more of the nauseating Uhura-Spock kissy-kissy ... lousy pilot (remember the parking brake?) Sulu clips some rocks and has to dump Spock - who somehow doesn't break all his ribs and legs falling that far ... Sulu and Uhura ditch the shuttle (why didn't they just use a transporter in the first place? ... oh that's right, JJ Abrams' lazy writing is mistaken as drama) ... Kirk and McCoy jump off a cliff and swim like dolphins to the submerged Enterprise (no, really) ... Scotty is now wearing red and we are told the "salt-water is not good for the engines" (oh, dear) ... Spock sets up some overly-complicated volcano-neutralizing device on a rock in the middle of a lake of magma (again, couldn't use transporter to put it there?) ... In sleek but overly decorative Speedo unitards Kirk, McCoy and Uhura are all now back on the bridge and going to save Spock - lots of shouting ... cut back to Spock having a Volcano-gasm ... cut to snippets of what we've seen in the other trailers

12.10.2012

STAR TREK VILLAIN FAKE-OUTS BY JJ ABRAMS

The latest PR for Star Trek (Into Darkness -blechh) is that a glorified extra from the original series (TOS as the die-hards call it) is the new villain. Some think it is a fake-out that it is Khan masquerading as this guy. Lame choice either way. Garth would be a better pick than Khan or this guy Harrison. JJ Abrams is pissing all over the glory that was TOS. Oh, Kirk, look out behind you - giant unnecessary hole in floor.

12.07.2012

BRAVURA ACTING IN BATTLESTAR

Been watching the series again - the mini to midway through Season 2 and it really is a travesty that the superb work done by so many of the actors on the show was never formally acknowledged by the industry. Mary McDonnell should have won at least a couple of SAG/Emmy/Golden Globes and Katee Sackhoff and Tricia Helfer should have won at least one or two as well. James Callis and Michael Hogan in the men's dept. should have at least been nominated. Honorable mention to Lucy Lawless. Such a treasure this show (at least through Season 3).

11.18.2012

BLAND BLOND BOND

Skyfall was entertaining but a weak entry into the Bond franchise. The always watchable Javiar Bardem hams it up deliciously as the villain - doing a more animated, gay twist on his killer from No Country for Old Men. Adele's opening title song is evocative of the best Shirley Bassey versions. Those are two out of the 3 good things about the movie.

They went lo-tech for this entry - no Moonraker lasers or underwater cars and such ... in fact the whole film is a very intentional reboot to the classic roots of the first Connery films, but too obviously so. We can see, you don't need to tell us too.


I sure hope this is the last film with all the touchy-feely emotional bullshit that has ruined the Bond franchise. Fight, fuck, kill ... and see the world, that's the Bond we want. No remorse, no introspection - just a nice dash of wit and élan.

Now that mother is out of the picture (*spoiler* they kill off Judy Dench's M) they've given us a black Moneypenny (who is a bit annoying) and new male M - both meant to evoke the originals (same basic office layout -but now with window!).


The movie excels in the lush color-palette (except for the ugly color of that padded leather door to M's new office) and production design ... beautiful to look at but pretty pedestrian in terms of exposition. All the dialogue about getting old, being too old, made you think you were watching Star Treks II, III and IV - I was waiting for M to say, "Chasing around the galaxy is for the young."


We don't want a Bond that fails his proficiency tests, who has doubt, who gets shot, who has touching memories of his orphanage and cries when Mommy dies.


The new Q (a wasted use of the very capable Ben Wishaw) gives Bond a gun which he promptly loses to a overlarge CGI Komodo dragon and, when on the run, Bond it seems has an extra car stashed away (retro nod) but doesn't have extra weapons? Even Hit Girl in KickAss had a room full of weapons. The improvised weapons of the giant Scottish manse were dumb.


Cliche after cliche, you felt the movie dissapating as you got up from your chair - nothing truly creative, nothing memorable and only one scene that actually got your full attention - when Bardem makes his Frank'n'Furter elevator entrance and proceeds to weird-vibe Bond just by talking while Bond is bound to a chair.


11.09.2012

BSG BLOOD & CHROME IS AWESOME SO FAR

Stupid stupid SyFy Channel. And NBC (since they own BSG). Blood & Chrome's pilot is absolutely terrific. The first two installments of the "web series" (the pilot chopped up) are better than anything that dumb channel has had its line-up in foreva. 
Ep 1

Ep 2

The kid playing Adama is way too good-looking but plays the part well. The production design is bangin' - with just enough difference to cheat the timeline and tie the shows (BSG, Caprica) together. The other actors are all good too. The story moves and there is a very visceral feel to the whole thing. Crisp and smart dialog so far. Kudos to those who made this. You should be working on a series if there was any justice in this world.

11.05.2012

BLOOD AND CHROME VERY SOON

Blood & Chrome is coming soon it turns out ... in fact, in just a few days as an online series ... as reported here ... new trailer below. Basically it is the pilot they shot for a regular tv series chopped up into pieces.

11.01.2012

AMERICAN HORROR STORY NOT AS GOOD THIS SEASON

Let's get right to it - Season II is not half as good as season I.

The Look: What made season I so gorgeous was the color-saturation, the diffusion, the high-style and some forced-perspective. It was warm and glowy. Season II, or AHS2 as I'll call it from here on out is pale, grey, washed-out, has a lot of angle-up shots, and is, frankly, cheap looking.

The Story: Season I had a lot going on but it related to the house and came to a white-hot finale with the birth of the demon child. Constance (Jessica Lange) was the anchor throughout. AHS2 has WAY too much going on and you just wish they'd cut out some of it. I don't care about the damn creatures outside. James Cromwell plays the sinister mad doctor with real menace when it comes to the sex scenes but when he's slicing-and-dicing patients it is campy. Lange's Head Nun character is too all-over-the-place and shows vulnerability never seen in Constance. She is a contradiction on many levels - cracking up about the hit-and-run she committed in her past; unaware an evil spirit has taken over her little innocent nun helper; doesn't know about the mad doctor's creatures; is easily manipulated into getting drunk despite being a reformed alcoholic ... and on it goes. The writing is much weaker in this version.

The Modern Story: I don't give a damn about the creepy murderer in the abandoned hospital and skanky hipsters that trespassed and the mayhem that has thus ensued nor do I see how they'll link it to the '64 story.

Characters: Zachary Quinto's psychiatrist character is so far a massive bore. The subplot with the lesbian reporter started out strong and now is lame - again weak writing. If they had made her girlfriend smarter, so she didn't fall for the Head Nun's scheming, she could now be playing Velma from Scooby-Doo and solving the mystery; the sex-addict girl is okay but the dialog is too contemporary in places; the razor-cut-hair girl - so far is a blank and I don't care about her. The earnest but ambitious priest is so far rather a bore too.

The Demon/Exorcism: too literal and too specific - didn't the writers see The Exorcist? Vulgar displays of power are not the Devil's way. And the possessed young nun killing the devout "Mexican" woman - too direct and vulgar a display of power. The Demon subplot is veering strongly into camp, and not in an intentional way.

The Alien: Why this was included in the story is beyond me. Unless the show's creator and the writers can cleverly marry the story of demons, ghosts and aliens in some way (and I don't see how without it being ridiculous), it will be a waste. The alien looks like the cheapest, fake bit of foam you've ever seen. Some smoke would work wonders on this show - hiding the cheapness of the sets, the poor lighting, and the obvious sound-stage look to theshow. 

I really don't know what the shows creators are after. Hopefully they won't fuck up so badly that AHS does not get renewed for Season III ... I really want them to return to the Constance storyline for Season III. What Constance needs is a female rival for access and interaction with the demon child as the fulcrum upon which that season's storyline could pivot. 

10.26.2012

C'MON HBO, BUY UP BLOOD & CHROME

Finally saw the whole trailer - looks good. SyFy has let this project languish and basically die because it is too expensive for their new 99cent Store business model. Only HBO (or maybe Showtime or FX) could foot the bill and commit to doing this properly. If the show has the propulsive action and storytelling of the trailer it would be worth watching. 

Battlestar Galactica: Blood & Chrome Trailer from darky132 on Vimeo.
Personally I'd rather they pick up the BSG story from Revelations as if what came after could be wiped from memory and do it right - No Ellen as the Final Cylon, no pigeon, and do it my way Battlestar Variant 1

9.24.2012

DATA CRYSTALS ARE HERE

Science fiction often anticipates actual technological advance and now the data crystal is real. We've seen them used in Star Trek, Zardoz, Babylon 5 and countless other sci-fi productions.

9.08.2012

STAR TREK INTO DARKNESS ... bleccchh

I hate when titles of stories are used in the story *ding ding* "I'm saying the title in this line of dialog, are you paying attention?" and I can't stand Star Trek using trek in a sentence - yuck. It was cringe-worthy, when in an otherwise excellent installment in the film series, First Contact, actor James Cromwell had to say that line "on this star trek" or some such. Now we get word that JJ Abrams has titled his new Star Trek movie Star Trek Into Darkness. Isn't the whole exploring darkness as a theme kinda played out? Is it literal darkness? That was done best in a Voyager episode with these creatures that lived in a dark zone (and when it comes to Dark Zones, Lexx has the last word on that). Khan? Charlie X? Tremaine? Harry Mudd? It's looking more and more that Benedict Cumberbatch's villain is going to be Lazarus (from The Alternative Factor) or Gary from Where No Man Has Gone Before ... unfortunately I don't have high hopes for this one.

8.31.2012

TROMA MOVIES NOW ON YOUTUBE

Some cheeseball gore and camp now available full-length on YouTube - Troma released 150 of films - link here

8.24.2012

8.02.2012

7.13.2012

LATEST BATMAN FILM

I'm not a fan of Christian Bale and Christopher Nolan's version of Batman - especially Bale's gruff mumble-speak ... this hilarious poster spoof for the latest Batman film coming out would make me actually go see it if indeed it did have Adam West ...I don't plan to see the film, so for a review here's Eileen Jones at ExiledOnline

7.04.2012

HIGGS BOSON - SO WHAT?

Particle-accelerators smash atoms together at very high speeds and then have monumentally sophisticated detectors read the data - quadrillions of data points could be possible and trillions of images could be taken, but millons are and then computers filter it down to a veritable handful for scientist to actually pore over and what they are looking at is trails of debris - from which they infer the composition of the debris that made it, i.e., the type of particle. In fact, all they are doing is liberating hidden mass (a term I coined in my self-published work The Fundamental Quanta c 1987). Cars smashing into one another at a stock car rally leave trails and bits of debris, and trails of debris pieces gone skipping off. This is what scientists are looking at. No doubt at even higher energies we'll find more "particles" - but so what? It still does not explain mass. I did in FQ - motion is the fundamental quanta - it has an indivisible unit size, a generally spheroid shape, and gives rise to all other forces and objects (motion is not merely an attendant property of those - it is the stuff from which they are made) ... motion held in bound states give rise to these "particles."  Higgs Boson, bah! Here's another skeptic

6.21.2012

AVENGERS - YAWN

This spoof of Iron Man at left kinda sums up my feeling about the Avengers movie. It was serviceable. It was functional. It did the job. And Iron Man was the brightest, shiniest thing in it. But I can't say I had an emotional reaction to any of it. Quite a lot of script jujitsu was employed to connect all the things we've seen in other Marvel movies featuring these characters and it did end up all making sense - the way a complex series of strings connecting points on a map plotting out crimes makes sense, but it lent nothing to the drama at hand. Joss Whedon seemed intent on crossing all the t's and dotting all the i's, but it was a big so what - only the comics geeks will care. It was like watching a gymnastics routine or maybe an ice skating routine at the Olympics and the athlete nails it technically perfectly but without grace and elan or any sense of verve or spontaneity. It felt inorganic and leaden. The actors were all good, and the dialog was pretty crisp and finally a Hulk that looked and acted as it should. The best moment in the whole thing is when the Hulk smashes Loki like a rag-doll. Gwyneth Paltrow is aging well - never looked better (has a small role). Please please let David Lynch or Paul Verhoeven or Peter Greenaway do an Inhumans movie and give us fans something interesting.

6.07.2012

PROMETHEUS REVIEW

RIDLEY SCOTT JUST DOESN’T GIVE A SHIT ANYMORE
Rated:
Review:
I had high hopes I’d be pleasantly surprised by the new Alien film Prometheus since Ridley Scott was taking another stab at the story. Instead I feel like I had my intelligence assaulted throughout every single moment of the film - almost a torture. It might well be one of the most terrible films I’ve ever seen. Imagining it as a stand-alone film it would be an okay B-movie because there are no expectations. But this story has a pedigree – a checkered one to be sure (Alien III and Alien Resurrection being the ugly step-children), but there stands a singular classic at the beginning of this family line with Alien and a powerful first-born which followed and charted its own course in James Cameron's actioner, Aliens.

Ridley Scott has clearly just given up as an artist. He doesn’t care anymore. Gladiator wasn’t half the movie that Troy was, yet a dumbed-down public loved it and Academy members voted it best picture that year. Robin Hood couldn't even lure me in for more than 20 minutes of my time. Scott has not done a first-rate film on par with his best since Hannibal. He has so many producing projects that he obviously just isn’t devoting the time to his directing duties. In an appropriate irony he brought on board Damon Lindelof (of LOST fame) to punch up the script for Prometheus and it was a terrible mistake – after all Lindelof gave us the cop-out it was all a death fever-dream ending to LOST. 


I’m sure there is plenty of blame to go around for one of the worst scripts I’ve ever seen put on screen. The dialog is so sophomoric, hackneyed and clichéd that you just felt like you were being beaten with a stupid stick as horrid line after horrid line of dialog penetrated your ears. Not to mention the sweepingly ridiculous plot structure. Soon after the open, our intrepid crew enters the atmosphere of the destination moon and are almost instantly over the area of the temples with nary a mention of having to, er, search them out, nor a mention of the Nazca Plains-like markings so clearly visible on the ground ... or that there are obviously several temples in a row and which one should we investigate first? Nope, they just land and go to the first one (we've got a sequel to get to). 

The original film Alien was not just a classic horror film but genius on film – the perfect combination of visual style, tight direction, wonderful performances, great conceptual art and production design, and a perfect build-up of suspense and then release at the finale. The tight-knit ensemble cast caught the ethos of the era with the clever but spare script by Dan O’Bannon and Ronald Shusett – the world is fucked, everything is corrupt, just look out for yourself and those you love sense of anomie that pervaded the culture in the late 70s was caught perfectly in the words and the actors’ conveyance of those words. The audience was with these people, rooted emotionally in their survival and desire to understand why the big, bad corporation would put them in this situation and how they would survive.

Contrast the perfect origin film with the mess that is Prometheus. First, I guess Scott wanted to work with Charlize Theron or something because her character Vickers is entirely useless to the story and could have been written out easily … as could the part of Peter Weyland played by Guy Pearce in some crappy old-man make-up. The big bad evil corporation could have been referenced in other ways.

The only thing I did like were some visual references to the first Alien film. David’s interface helmet has yellow light, as do many of the other CGI interface panels and small blinking lights in hallways and such – referencing the look of the master computer Mother in the original film. And many corridors and hallways and rooms were made to look as if they could be earlier versions of what the Nostromo might end up looking like. [Note to sequel writers: If Nostromo is so much more low-tech looking in Alien and it is 90 years after Prometheus then maybe the equipment needs to be simpler because the mining crews are in hypersleep so much longer - that's a way to explain the lack of flashy touch-screens and pop-up CGI animations in the first film.]

I’m getting ahead of myself. Prometheus is that film which has artificial drama at almost every turn. Lights flash, buzzers sound, people shout with a sense of urgency when there is none. People could have talked in a normal tone of voice, walked rather than run, and so on. Contrast with the original Alien when each light, sound, reaction shot to camera by an actor, and spoken word felt absolutely necessary and organic to the genuine drama unfolding. Fake Prometheus drama: a sudden storm compels the action forward at one point and again lends to a contrived sense of urgency. Oh no, someone is trapped outside and must be rescued – ho-hum. People get lost when they have locators. [Oh, and every single important moment from the film was indeed given away in the trailers and my earlier post below did state the obvious in its predictions.]

The onslaught of stupid begins early in the film as they get right to the ship en-route to LV-223 (or whatever the number, which they'll change to LV 426 for the sequel) after the cave-painting “it’s an invitation” stuff (and once again we're on a space ship with cocktail bars, couches, a pool table (!) and other high-end hotel amenities … contrast that with the realistic spare digs of the Nostromo from Alien)  … once they wake the crew from their sleep chambers we get lots of Aliens-type dialog – not just an homage to James Cameron’s version but a lazy straight-lift of the scene and it is lame … it is getting so painful to watch these let’s introduce the characters to the audience as sketch outlines and spew character-specific one-liners that I just physically cringed – also, way too many characters for one thing  (that we never get to know nor care about as they die). In fact it is Aliens which is referenced in Prometheus more than Alien, which is interesting since you would think Scott would want to put his own stamp back on the story. The ground vehicle they drive to the temple look familiar? (and why exactly were there two extra little buggy vehicles at all? – they lent no value to the story and had no logic behind them and were used at times for artificial drama).

David the Android: Fassbender is a terrific actor and did as good a job as was possible with such a terrible script. The fascination with Peter O’Toole in Lawrence of Arabia and dying the hair was just too cute and distracting. I guess that's the writers’ way of showing these early android models were “twitchy?” as referenced in a later film.  I guess because audiences since the Gen-X era have gotten successively dumber we get hit over the head with the David is weird looks and creepy lines again and again. One look and one line would have sufficed to intrigue and engage an alert audience. All that was left was for him to wear a trench coat and flash us. Oh, and the whimsy. A whimsical android? An early model that was this way? To show how truly truly bereft of ideas the writers responsible for this pile of rubbish were we got David as the disembodied head as yet another straight-lift (Ash in the original film).

Many of the crew (were there 12, 20 or 40 of them?) get killed and you don’t care – again with the artificial drama … if we didn’t know them and they weren’t doing anything important, whey have them at all and why kill them?

There are two mega-stupid parts in the film. In the first, an infected crewman wants back on the ship (one of the bad actors, more on that later) and Theron’s character comes down to say no way and then she opens the ship bay door! If she didn’t want him on, why would she open that door? So she burns him alive later, but still. Then there is lead actress Noomi Rapace doing the Ripley surrogate character and she is a bore, for one, but the writers have her get into a surgical machine to remove the alien she’s had surreptitiously implanted in her by David (via a surrogate – sex with her infected boyfriend). The machine cuts her, removes the creature and staples her up and then for the next 20 minutes she is climbing, jumping, running non-stop and it is beyond-the-pale idiotic. Er, those staples wouldn’t work themselves loose? Her guts wouldn’t come spilling out? She didn’t need to rest and courses of antibiotics after major invasive abdominal surgery? She's healed up enough to take an android head and go find the Space Jockey homeworld?

The helmets: we get told that there is atmosphere being created in the temple and they can go helmet-less inside and in scene after scene in there, no helmets (not even carried on their backs). Did they just leave them in that room that was doing the “terraforming” (another cheap nod to another film in the franchise) … what if they needed their helmets in some part they had not seen yet? Dumb, scientifically dumb (and there are 100 other instances of bad science in the film).

The most cringe-worthy of the dumb bits has to be when the captain crudely seduces Theron’s character Vickers. This just would not happen. We had never seen established that they even knew each other (of course they did, she hired him but that was not shown). The actor playing the captain was a pretty bad actor, and his dialog was terrible too - he was less than a sketch of a character. The captain was so detached and unprofessional toward the mission and exuded zero authority that it defied logic that such a person would be in charge of this “trillion dollar” mission. At the end when the captain and two surviving crewmembers volunteer to smash the Prometheus into the Space-Jockey ship and make a rousing suicide war cry while they do it it is embarrassing to watch it is so hackneyed. Other bad actors were the boyfriend scientist with the worm in his eye (he’s a scientist and doesn’t tell anyone?), the tattooed guy and the nerd guy with glasses. All were bland or hokey or just bad. The medical assistant lady was clearly a nod to Veronica Cartwright from Alien with a similar look but otherwise lent nothing to the story.

What we get is a lot of bells and whistles and bright shiny things, but a lousy story with gargantuan plot-holes, an infection of inanity and way too many cute references to the other films. They have their conference in a bay that reminds you of the end of Aliens. The table they dine at is meant to remind you of the scene with John Hurt and the chest-burster. The David-head.

The greatest crime of the film is what I predicted in my earlier post, that they would make the horror mundane by making it literal and that is exactly what they did. The magnificent and mysterious chamber of the derelict ship with the creature sitting in the giant chair in Alien is now a pasty-skinned buff 7-footer with a helmet that has the elephant snout. We saw all kinds of CGI glowy lights in that metal room. We were compelled to believe that the organic look to the metal came from the Space Jockeys’ pathogen covering the metal of their ship, whereas the original art by H.R. Giger for the first Alien film was always about integration of the organic and machine as is Giger's vision, not organic veneer covering machine so Lindelof can connect-the-dots for his sequels.

I could I go on. The worms in the soil at the temple. Did some PA just grab a handful outside the soundstage one day for Scott to shoot? Were they indigenous to the moon? If so, why were they never before integrated and co-opted by the malignant organics of the vase jars (which by Nostromo’s time 90 years later when John Hurt’s character Kane finds them have an organic outer layer that appears all organic)? Were these tiny worms brought by the humans? Was that room sealed all that time from them if they were a local lifeform? Because in short order the gooey black organic oil oozing from the vase jars transmogrifies them to dangerous eel throat-stuffers. Later the alien the Ripley knock-off cuts out of herself (the mean little bugger held in place despite violent struggle by a simple pair of forceps) looks like a squid-thingy. And at the end the squid-thingy has in less than an hour grown room-size huge and quickly throat-stuffs and births its offspring out of the last Space Jockey into a full-grown proto-alien complete with extending inner jaw (snap-snap) and (this must be a joke) a complete set of what look like porcelin veneers on human chompers in its main outer mandible. I wanted to throw something at the screen. 


Oh, the score, I've read several people say they like the score. Listen to Wrath of Khan (pretty darn close) and other elements are very similar to other soundtracks too - I found it unremarkable or evocative of other films if not dangerously similar in legal terms.


Want to read a hilariously funny version of the above? This guy just killed it with his script spoof - here

6.04.2012

DAENERYS IS BURNING

Good finale for the Season 2 closer of Game of  Thrones. After several episodes stuffing plot points into themselves like one of those dishes that stuffs a quail inside a chicken inside a duck inside a goose - the finale unfolded cleanly and we got some quality time with good characters. 


The Big Girl killed some scumbags and showed Jaime Lannister that he might be in for quite a fight if she ever goes after him one-on-one. Eery face-changer guy finally showed his true 2nd face. The blue-eyed undead are on the march, Winterfell is burnt to the ground and in a hilarious bit the buffoon Theon Greyjoy is clobbered by an Iron-born after giving a rousing speech. Poor Tyrion gets no hero's parade, no thanks even for saving Kings Landing - instead he wakes up with his large face-gash to find he's been abandoned and shunted aside. Only Lord Varys remains true (as a self-serving power-player can), as well as his lover, but Varys says he must distance himself for the time-being. 


The main takeaway for a fan who has not read the books is that the people of these novels are completely unsentimental and rather ruthless in their approach to life.  Everyone seems to be scheming about their next move and what they have to give up to survive or get power. The broad sweep of the story is still a bit overwhelming with so many characters and conflicts to follow, but it is entertaining to be sure. Our Dragon Lady Daenerys finally got some answers in the Warlock Tower (visions of possible futures and alternate realities - including a touching scene with her dead king Kahl Drogo stuck in some kind of purgatory) and she burned at least one copy of the Warlock by coaxing her little reptile children to belch fire. Over 9 months until Season 3 - yikes ... how will it be possible not to read a bit about what is to come?

5.28.2012

C'MON HBO - MORE EPS PER SEASON OF GAME OF THRONES

Game of Thrones has been terrific through 1 1/2 seasons - it is a great show. But the 6th, 7th and 8th eps of Season II felt pretty rushed to me - they are trying to cram so much story in there that you don't get to sit and rest a spell with these characters we love and bask in the brilliance of the words, performances and production - HBO is skipping along too fast to dot the "i"s and cross that "t"s in the plot development and it is lessening the enjoyment of the series and overall story. HBO needs to extend the seasons to 12, 14, or even up to 20 episodes per season, starting with season III. The show is a gigantic hit, you can afford it, HBO. At least extend 2 or 3 of the episodes to 2 hours. HBO could easily make feature films to accompany the series and they would be a hit. There are so many characters, so many stories to tell and we the audience are getting short shrift these


days with the television eps. I hate to nitpick, but there have been a few flaws in the last few eps. The scene where Brienne of Tarth puts prisoner Jaime Lannister in the boat we see them walk side-by-side and in two shots the illusion is killed that she is a giant - showing her at nearly the same height as him whereas previously all the movie tricks to frame her in other eps had given the illusion of being a giant. The big battle scene outside Kings Landing in tonight's episode IX fell flat. It looked like 80 people fighting 120 and was strangely lackluster. Lena Headey made up for it with her delicious wickedness as Cersei as she chewed up the scenery again and again with the wonderfully cynical dialogue. HBO is serving us a magnificent 20-course meal and rushing the courses before we even get more than a look at this dish, a taste of that one, a sip of that fine wine before clearing and bringing out the next course.

5.17.2012

PARSING OUT PROMETHEUS

Let's see if we can parse out the whole story of the new Prometheus film given all the goodies they've given away:


ACT I
STONE AGE ART IS FOUND to contain the same star map, "an invitation" to some, and funding is secured to launch an exploratory mission to those coordinates. ENTER ECCENTRIC BILLIONAIRE - based on a combination of Richard Branson and Steve Jobs. This money man is our MALEVOLENT CORPORATE INFLUENCE - infusing the story with greed and avarice and naked lust for power. He runs the ANDROID COMPANY and insures one of his synthetic humans is along to KEEP TABS ON THE HUMANS and report back and to FOLLOW THE ORDERS OF THE BILLIONAIRE first and foremost. Sleep chambers, flashy CGI graphics and skin-tight suits to sex up the story with cooler imagery and younger bodies than in the first Alien.


ACT II
A TEMPLE IS FOUND with a HUMAN HEAD STATUE. Turns out HUMANS WERE SEEDED so human life on Earth did not evolve there independently. ANDROID LAUNCHES PROBES into temple and finds "seed" chamber and realizes that there is also a chamber with a ship - a SPACE JOCKEY SHIP from the first Alien film. An INFECTION - either organic to the moon (we are on LV-426) or brought there by an asteroid, the newly-arrived humans or the Space Jockeys themselves infects all life on the moon. The INFECTION AFFECTS SEED PODS and some of them open and WE SEE THE FLANGED EELWORM early Face Hugger and it attacks crew. At least a couple of the CREW GET INFECTED with an EelWorm egg while others battle the infection. MOST OF THE HUMANS DIE, but the corporate witch is one of the last to go and makes sure the android can do his mission (collect data and/or samples) before she is offed. 


ACT III
SOMETHING WAKES THE SPACE JOCKEYS (android jiggling their controls?) and they attack the humans, communicate with some of them. The android MAKES SURE THE DATA GETS BACK TO THE EVIL ANDROID-BUILDING CORPORATE ASSHOLE ON EARTH (so he, in turn, can make sure the Nostromo in Alien lands on LV-426 and that his android Ash will be assigned to that ship some 99 years later). ANDROID ATTEMPTS TO FLEE WITH SAMPLES and the humans know he must be stopped, hence the RAMMING OF SPACE JOCKEY VEHICLE. Two possible endings: ANDROID SURVIVES and ABDUCTS AND FORCIBLY CRYO-SLEEPS ONE CREWMAN (the heroine) who is infected, for return to Earth ... Or, THEY ALL DIE, the last couple willingly, to keep the organism and disease from getting to Earth - not knowing the ANDROID ALREADY TRANSFERRED THE DATA. [Space Jockeys were in their own form of cryo-sleep or a 2nd ship landed once they were signaled that their ship on site was activated]


Analysis: Prometheus will be a good action film and a good, but not great, prequel to the Alien film series. What will be lacking is the camaraderie among the crew and the working-class disgust with the elite corporatists running things that so infused the first film - they were all in it together unwillingly doing the bidding of the man and sacrificed on the alter of greed and power - with a heroine who overcame the odds to survive.
[Update 6.12.12: to quote the Ripley surrogate "We were so wrong" ... the movie is terrible and even worse, the android-head and Ripley surrogate are going to chase down the Space Jockeys in the sequel]

MET BILL PAXTON

I get to meet a lot of famous people at my job, including many actors. The other day I met Bill Paxton (really nice, unpretentious guy). So so soooooo tempting to say the words: 
"Why don't you put her in charge!?"

5.14.2012

FAVORITE POST-BATTLESTAR PERFORMANCE

Katee Sackhoff as Bitch Pudding on Robot Chicken 

5.08.2012

WOWIE ZOWIE - VAN GOGH MORPH

found on Reddit: Van Gogh Morph - click link to view it in actionhttp://i.minus.com/iFJhhFR80wAYo.gif

4.29.2012

PROMETHEUS BARES ALL

Thank you 20th Century Fox for continuing the modern tradition of giving away nearly every plot point and action sequence in the trailers for your films the way the rest of Hollywood does, this time for  for the upcoming Prometheus. The latest trailer is killing yet more mystery about the story and even gives us the pre-human-contact version of the Face-Huggers - they're more like worms or eels with flanges that will evolve into fingers by the time Ripley and crew find them 99 years later. The Face-Hugger-EelWorm is kinda cute - see my version?

4.16.2012

GAME OF THRONES, er ... I, CLAUDIUS

Not having read George R. R. Martin's books, but so far loving the HBO series Game of Thrones, I can't help but notice that either the original writer Martin or the television version's writers love the PBS series I, Claudius (itself based upon the Robert Graves novels). In two scenes specifically there were almost direct lifts from I, Claudius: When Tywin Lannister (Charles Dance) sends Tyrion Lannister (Peter Dinklage) off to King's Landing the scene plays out almost the same as when Claudius is invited to dinner with Livia and the one in power realizes that the person they thought a fool was no fool at all and, in fact, quite crafty and capable. And when Tyrion replaces the Chief of the Guard of King's Landing with his own man, it is much like when when Macro replaced Sejanus and when Claudius had Cassius condemned to death as an example for leading the conspiracy to murder Caligula that put Claudius on the Roman throne. I have noticed that many of the characters in Game of Thrones have analogs to I, Claudius characters. Here is my take so far. I, Claudius has no Daenerys Targaryen. Offer your own comparisons in the comments. [click on image for larger version]

3.18.2012

PROMETHEUS, ALIEN PREQUEL

Because it's Ridley Scott, it looks awesome and gorgeous ... but because the story is by Damon Lindelof (who along with the rest of the LOST writers were great at giving you tantalizing tastes but not a satisfying meal) - we may be left wanting by the end. Based upon the trailer images, it looks like we're going to get the life was seeded angle with some 2001: A Space Odyssey themes and visual elements thrown in. We may also have the story made too literal and have it weaken the Alien lore by giving us their version of Star Wars' midi-chlorians as an explanation for The Force. It looks like advanced races may have used the Aliens as a bio-control mechanism or bio-warfare, but  it escaped. The thing about a ruin is that you never actually know how those people lived and what they believed - you only get some of the information. This time around we'll know all the nitty-gritty details which evaporates mystery

The IMDB Prometheus page has a longer clip of a fake TED seminar with the film's villain - a corporate titan responsible for the first androids (a nod to Cylons) ... over at Aliens.wikia they have detailed analysis based upon all the known material regarding the so-called Space-Jockey from the first film ... the really good trailer is this one, the international trailer: 



Don't watch this third trailer unless you want to see them give away the store - pretty much the whole tale is told here [My story breakdown below]  

Super spoilery: Seems pretty clear: Messages left by ancient aliens invite space-faring humans to come visit a particular place. We go. We get bad news. We are to be used to take the Aliens back to Earth (to rid it of humans or some other nefarious purpose) and the Space Jockeys are not friendlies, or if they are, they've been compromised through Alien exposure. If they seek to tie this story to 1979's Alien then the information will have been held closely by the android-building villain in 2023 and hence when "mother" the computer and Ash the android conspire to have the Nostromo land on the moon LV-426 in 2122 it will have been 99 years since the events in Prometheus happened

OUR MOON'S EVOLUTION

2.14.2012

THE JJ ABRAMS STAR TREK DOES NOT HOLD UP

Time-travel is always a cheap gimmick in science-fiction - a way to solve plot problems, especially when it is not central to the story. Abrams' film does have good qualities and is entertaining but it is pure cornball and really disrespects the source material. From the cheap plastic sets (dome on the bridge, pool light covers as transporter pads), idiotic choices like making Engineering look like a brewery and having an endless amount of shuttle crafts and especially that stupid rock-dwarf sidekick, to the lens-flare aesthetic choice it really comes across as more of a children's movie upon repeated viewing. The most ridiculous aspect of the film is how the characters we know from previous incarnations of the story are "re-imagined" here and essentially put into the Plot Scrambler and somehow they end up sitting in the right chairs on the bridge. Rumors about as to what JJ's nest Star Trek film (now shooting) will be about: possibly a Harry Mudd story, or the end of Christopher Pike, or yet another Khan story. 

2.02.2012

BEST SHOW SINCE BATTLESTAR

American Horror Story is genius. Wasn't drawn to it initially, then heard many good things about it and finally watched an episode and I was hooked. I haven't looked forward to watching a new episode of anything this eagerly since the first couple of seasons of BSG. Jessica Lange is a marvel, pure and simple. Watching her perform is like watching a world-class athlete - you are just baffled at how someone can perform at such a high level again and again. Lange chews up the scenery as Constance and you just wish she were in every moment of every scene she is so good. All the cast is terrific and the story is great. I think it's on Hulu. A must-see.