Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Johnny Mnemonic

I never watched this movie.  I remember the trailer with Keanu Reeves asking if somebody ordered a pizza & showing some crappy computer graphics & so even though it was written by William Gibson I had no interest in it.  I worked at a video store when it came out with its gimmicky transparent box & orange videocassette, so I could’ve seen it for free at any point & still didn’t bother.  Part of it was I’d seen Hackers & thought it was pretty awful & showed what Hollywood thought sci-fi was about – shitty graphics.  Also I never really liked any movies that Reeves was in with the possible exception of Bill & Ted’s Excellent Adventure (more recently I have grown to respect Point Break & apparently I’m the only person who likes Constantine).

Over the years this has been one of those movies (like Tron) that everybody is surprised I never saw.  Well, this is no Tron.  While I wasn’t super into Tron, it had a cool look & a world of it’s own.  There’s a problem I have with most Hollywood sci-fi movies & especially the dystopian variety & this movie is filled with it.  They try to make a movie with dirt & grit to it, but everything is polished & the dirt strategically placed.  It’s what makes a movie like Johnny Mnemonic harder to give a suspension of disbelief than say Cyborg.  & then there’s the CGI.  If your movie is going to rely on state of the art special effects, your movie might be okay that day (in my opinion it usually still sucks on opening day, I hated Avatar, though I oddly have a great affection for Roughnecks: Starship Trooper Chronicles), but it will definitely be crap a few years down the line.  I do always get a kick out of seeing Ice T in a movie, so that was nice, but even he didn't make the movie fun.  I do like that there isn’t a love story going on (I’m surprised they didn’t throw that in actually).  Really I think one of the problems is this tries to cram too much into one movie.  It half explains a bunch of things without actually explaining or exploring anything.  I think this movie would work better without the epic over-arcing story of Reeves saving the world from a plague.  It’s like they took one okay movie & a pretty crappy sequel & merged them into one not very good movie. & what the fuck is the dolphin about?  If you’ve managed to avoid this movie so far, stay away.

Saturday, July 21, 2012

Superman IV

So I pretty much always hated Superman growing up.  I always felt he must be an idiot or their wouldn’t be anyway to create stories with the character.  I think my dislike of Superman is part of why I basically didn’t buy any DC comics until I was 17 (when I started getting Shade & Hellblazer) despite the fact that I got plenty of crappy comics (I bought & read pretty much every Marvel comic from 1984 – 1989 whether I liked them or not, plenty of clunkers in that bunch!).  So while I actually did end up seeing the first three Superman movies (& to be honest as an adult they’re all decent & gave me a bit more respect for the character (plus who doesn’t love Richard Pryor?)), some how I never saw this one.  I think it’s worth mentioning for a while there was a cup from a Superman IV Slurpee that lived in the garage that my dad kept old rusty nails in.

I wouldn’t have been able to appreciate this as a kid because it has way too many dumb Clark/Superman on the same date problems.  Gene Hackman is pretty awesome as Lex Luthor & to be honest he’s probably the main redeeming quality of this whole franchise.  I mean, this movie isn’t actually good & would be better for sure if it was cut down to be only an hour long, but it’s fine as dumb fun. I hardly think it deserves only a 10% rating on Rotten Tomatoes when they give the first one 95%.

Teen Wolf Too

I really am not sure how I managed to never see this.  I mean, I like Teen Wolf fine & I guess I’m a fan of Jason Bateman.  But I’ve never heard anything good about it except from this girl named Melissa that was in my gym class in junior high.

This is pretty much the worst movie I can think of as far as it having nothing interesting even conceptually going on.  To even sit through the whole thing while drinking a beer & working on other things was hard for me.  I like to think the reason Michael J Fox didn’t want to appear in this is because he read the script.  It’s not even fun or stupid, it’s just crappy.  & man the musical montages are awful & way too long (check out the one below so long that it goes from studying to making out & back to studying & then back to making out!).  These folks should take Clint Eastwood’s advice, “It takes just as much work to make a bad movie as to make a good one, so you might as well make a good one.”

Friday, July 13, 2012

The Tribe (1999)

A post-apocalyptic show?  A show about teen angst?  A show from New Zealand?  Sounds like a perfect mix, right?  Well, maybe it is.  The kids even do their makeup & hair to look like early 1980s punk rockers.  I have absolutely no idea who this show would be made for besides me.  I mean it has teenagers after a plague kills adults fighting each other for food & water, which isn’t super child friendly.  It has the typical amount of teenagers hooking up as boyfriend & girlfriend, but it seems to lead to pregnancy pretty quickly which makes it a weird show for kids (even more bizarre, when a romantic rival has a pregnancy scare one girl pushes her in front of a truck to make her lose the baby, sounds like 1920s birth control!).  Major characters die on a regular basis. Unlike most teen angst shows it has a ton of little kids in it (5 year olds & toddlers!) & the comedy in it is reminiscent of Power Rangers?  Also the music is really Disney Chanel-ish.  I didn’t watch this whole series because it ran 260 episodes (& because they aren’t all up on YouTube), but I saw enough to be pretty intrigued & confused by it.  If I ever date a girl from New Zealand, we’ll definitely try to watch this as a couples show.  This review should already tell you if this is of interest to you or not, even I’m not sure how I feel about the show….

Tuesday, July 3, 2012

McTeague by Frank Norris

At some point in the 1990s I started watching silent movies.  At this point in time where I’m constantly multi-tasking, I really miss watching them & know I need to start again.  They’re calming & soothing & because of needing to read & not being able to look away, I find them more engaging & submersive than most modern films.  Anyway, one of my favorite silent films is one called Greed (1924) in part because of its experimental use of color with gold painted yellow & such, but also because of it showing how quick the decline can be in friendships & relationships & morality when money becomes important.  I liked the movie so much that I named a character McTeague in my cowboy comic Just A Man.  So I’ve known about the book McTeague that Greed is based on for a long time, but I’ve never seen it anywhere & it’s fallen into the public domain so reprinting it I guess isn’t that lucrative & I’d kinda given up on it when I found an audiobook of it on Archive.org.

So this book is from 1899, which means it has a slightly different writing style than people might be used to.  The way the chapters are divided up it feels almost like a collection of short stories rather than a novel & I can’t find any information on the mighty internet about if portions of it were published prior to being in the novel or not.  The first half of the book is more or less a soap opera about living in a lower class part of San Francisco & has two best friends (McTeague & Marcus) in a rivalry for the love of a young girl named Trina.  McTeague is a dentist & he falls in love with Trina while working on her teeth after she falls down & busts some teeth out.  The bit where McTeague is trying to scare himself off the girl is handled really well with him listing off reasons to himself not to love her as he eventually finds those things appealing & attractive.  Marcus gives up his pursuit of Trina & helps McTeague to get in a position to marry her, but on the wedding day Trina wins $5000 & Marcus feels the money should be his & does what he can to screw up McTeague & Trina’s life which includes making McTeague lose his dental practice.  After McTeague loses his job, things get really creepy with typical characters being consumed with a desire for money & the slide from being someone relatable to despicable is pretty smooth as people become misers, thieves, liars, & killers.  I mean when a woman has $5000 in gold pieces she lays on the bed & sleeps naked on while keeping her husband locked out hungry on the streets isn’t particularly sympathetic & neither is the man that has given up looking for work & steals from his wife to buy beer.  Painting an honest portrait of unlikable characters in a way that is compelling enough to still be readable is tough.  So while I do dig this & think it’s pretty solid, there is something weird to me where it feels more like a collection of short stories than a novel; but then again I like short stories.

Monday, July 2, 2012

The Changes (1975)

So as many of you know I’ve been on this weird post-apocalyptic british 1970/1980s television kick.  I mean, how can that even be a freaking genre?  Shouldn’t that just be one show that got cancelled after two episodes?  Anyway, I’m fascinated by it I guess in part because it shouldn’t exist.

So this show Changes seems to be one of (if not “the”) first teenage post-apocalyptic television series.  It opens with, for no apparent reason, people getting mad at technology & beating up cars & televisions & such.  The reason people do it is because of hearing “the noise” inside their heads.  Then the series follows a girl who gets separated from her parents & teams up with random folks in order to stay alive.  For the most part they don’t go back to why it is that people hate technology nor to the main character trying to find her parents, she is too busy trying to survive to think about things like that.  Which is kind of awesome.  After the apocalypse will people have more time to think about things because they don’t have television to take up their time or will they just be caught up staying alive & any down time will be spent sleeping?  Who knows?  Anyway, the ending of this series is pretty crazy because it comes pretty suddenly & out of nowhere.  I’ll go ahead & “give it away” because it doesn’t exactly make sense & I figure who but me will want to watch it?  It ends up that “the noise” is caused by someone unleashing some kind of ancient power that the last person to even try & control it was Merlin & it feels like some kind of Lovecraftian elder god trying to save the world by taking machines away from us stupid humans.  Anyway, here’s the first segment from the series….

Saturday, June 23, 2012

The Tripods (television series)

I first heard of the Tripods stuff because when I was a kid they had a comic about it in Boy’s Life.  I don’t know where I got a copy of the magazine from, but I assumed the comic was some sort of War of the Worlds lift & I loved Killraven which was also a War of the Worlds lift.  I never found out anything more about it.  Then I was nosing around for some british sci-fi television shows & I found they had a program based on the same books as the comic strip.
So this television show… I guess it’s for kids… but not in subject matter.  The storyline is that aliens have taken over & humans are functioning as an agrarian society & borderline slave race.  The aliens take teenagers & install some technology to keep them from having rebellious thoughts & keep them docile the rest of their life.  So there’s a couple kids who are suspicious of this & run away & have adventures & over the course of a year or so become bona fide revolutionaries.  There is some kind of weird unexpressed idea behind the series that love/sex domesticates a person & keeps them from fulfilling their potential.  It kind of feels like a post-apocalyptic Lord of the Rings coming of age thing.  The acting quality is along the lines of the original Degrassi & most of the time there aren’t any actual special effects to speak of.  The intro to it is some really weird ominous computer animation that is interesting, but not at all indicative of the series.  As teen sci-fi goes you could do a lot worse.  I kinda liked that a lot of the characters were kind of annoying & endearing at the same time.
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