Posts Tagged ‘60’s’

The King is back!

Fri ,09/04/2021

and by King, I do not mean Kong. Saw the latest G v K movie just now – and here’s my review – (major spoilers ahead, so you have been warned).

So it was inevitable, by the end of the last movie (and if for no other reason that he has ‘king’ in his name) – it was Kong’s fate to fight Godzilla. Last time they fought (in the 60s), it was a draw. This time, it was largely the same outcome, but a lot more plot challenges along the way.

Without boring the reader too much, there are, simply stated, too many plot elements stolen from other movies, monster or otherwise, recent or old. I’ll simply name a few and you can figure out where you think they showed up in this movie: 2001 Stargate Sequence; Crazy Godzilla watchers tearing around in a van; Human-kaiju interface being used for ‘new’ mechas; little kids being used as a ‘friend’ for the kaiju; – i’m sure I saw more but simply can’t remember them all.  And you may spot some of your own?

There are other silly mistakes (the old-school Transformers problem of scale depending on scene and camera shot comes to mind in several places, just like it did in Cloverfield).  One unexpected amusing part – when the ‘evil Richard Branson‘ (effectively a Bond villain that thinks he’s saving the planet while stroking his own immense ego, immensely) gets killed by his own creation *just* as he starts “monologuing” – thereby saving us from having to hear it – but then a central character complains he ‘wanted to hear the speech’? Too funny.

I also liked that while it’s arguably partially stolen from Godzilla 2000 (specifically, the Godzilla Prediction Network in that movie) – the daughter of the GZ scientist from the previous movie (who is in this one too but only gets 2-3 token scenes this time around) is running around with a computer geek and connects up with another crazy kaiju conspiracy theorist who has a podcast they both follow. Arguably the best parts of the ‘human’ plot are with them, hands down.  The little girl who is Kong’s “muse” (akin to the tiny Japanese fairies in all the classic Mothra movies but not near as corny) is good, but her reactions are obviously meant to make you root for Kong (and that’s just wrong, of course 🙂 )

This makes for an interesting side plot/comment – in monster movies, one of the easiest traps to fall into plotwise is to have too much human interest plot and NOT ENOUGH MONSTERS! I would argue that the first of the GZ remakes balances this nicely, this movie somewhat goes slightly too much in the wrong direction (meaning more monsters, please). There have been unique takes on this angle though, e.g. Cloverfield is all about the disaster effect on the humans, and the monsters are the cause, but arguably not otherwise the center of the plot, really.

But a key point – does it deliver on the actual monster battles? Arguably the most important of any ‘monster’ movie – By and large, yes. There really weren’t enough of them, but for the most part, we get to see a lot of taxpayer-funded military hardware going to Davy Jones’ Locker, and a lot of future Hong Kong real estate developers are going to be pretty rich about 20 years from now, to be sure. I’ve never understood why in monster (or superhero) movies all the crowds seem (still) to be ‘hiding’ in skyscrapers when the all the fighting starts? I guess it makes for interesting camera work and effects? At least the crowds in Cloverfield actually seem to be trying to GET AWAY, excepting the roof rescue near the end of the movie.

So we get to see both GZ and Kong get in their hits, although the big ‘e-ax’ Kong wields is a bad version of Excalibur meets Harry Potter’s wand in the end with a little bit of Krull thrown in – although having it around pays off when the ‘real’ villain shows up in the end, courtesy of Evil Richard Branson (see villain snark above). And as per usual in these movies, apparently these megacorps have so much money as to build giant underground, magnetic tunnel transport systems and THEN be able to afford building a mecha-Gz only to know it doesn’t have enough power to actually DO anything for longer than a few minutes? Seems like bad decisionmaking to me, but hey, I’m no CEO. 🙂

In the end, as with all the non-Toho Gz movies of late (and their latest, Shin Godzilla, although it’s arguably closer to the 70s one) – the original, classic 70s ‘roar‘ of Gz is still left out of these movies, and that’s arguably the biggest plot flaw of all, besides no Ken Watanabe (and he is missed!). Of the three recent Godzilla movies, the first one (directed by Gareth Edwards) is still the best. The second one arguably has some of the best ridiculous monster battles (and still has Ken Watanabe), but is otherwise simply a set up for this movie, really.

Bash on, Titans – you make too much box office to stay out of the frame for long – I’m sure someone will make another – maybe Gz will fight a Jaeger or one of the Avengers or something – they did it several times with both Predator and Alien, after all :).

Star Trek Discovery: Season 3 – reactions, spoilers?

Thu ,14/01/2021

So finished up watching Season 3 the other night. Here’s some reactions (and yes, the inevitable spoilers if you read far enough – be forewarned!)

positives:
1) This is a **way** more exciting and cohesive long-story than Season 2. One of the best things about Season 1 was the excellent and multi-episode storytelling, including the mysterious reveals as to Capt. Lorca and others – but Season 2 kind of squandered that and went in a lot of different, sometimes meaningless directions. I had heard there were some personnel changes behind the scenes during Season 2, which may have affected things, not sure – but they definitely righted the ship for Season 3, to be sure.

2) They are obviously spending the money on this show, the effects are amazing and they’ve kept them top-notch throughout.

3) There were more ‘overt’ bad guys this season, including aspects of some of the main characters, Georgiou being most notable of course. But Osira later and a few others mid-season stood out too.

4) they spent even more time on character development – while this crew seems to have among the most ‘main characters’ of any Star Trek to date (including DS9) already at the start, they introduced at least 1-3 new ones this year too, depending on your perspective (but more on the downside of that below);

5) Better focus. They stuck to a simpler overall long plot (what caused The Burn) and the various adventures taken to figure it out;

6) good to look back at why people left the Federation, especially Vulcan/Nav’arr – and then the attempt to bring them back, definitely one of the best episodes.

Gripes and spoilers
1) there was a bit too much of Saru’s inner struggles for me. I realize he was ‘growing into his role’ as Captain but it just seemed like he’d have matured faster than they wrote him to over the course of the season.

2) Other than aiding Burnham when she wants to go rogue – what does Georgiou do all day otherwise? Great character but definitely unclear – she’s not ship security, she’s not Empress (save for her series exit late in the season) – so is she just a passenger?

3) Too many main characters – I like that they’ve done far more character development but unless they want to do more episodes per season, they really don’t have the time to share lines with that many main cast members? Especially if they are introducing new characters like Book, Adeira and slightly more minor characters like the Admiral, Osira and similar? yes, going back to Kirk, Spock and McCoy beaming down to every planet is way too simplified but at some point they need to simply focus on who they already have on the ship?

4) Burnham is one of the most interesting and dynamic central characters in any Star Trek series to date, but (as some characters like Book and Georgiou snidely remark from time to time) she can’t resolve EVERY problem they run into (whether within or against regulations).

5) I’m glad they brought back Federation HQ but then they all but never showed us ANY of the latest starships they have? Discovery is literally in nearly every scene – they showed more of Osira’s ship than any other Federation vessel(s) once they found the HQ?

6) Why does Discovery need ‘floating’ nacelles? How is that an advantage for any reason?

7) While it made for decent fight scenes, the ‘infinite turbolift’ scenes in the last couple episodes were simply ridiculous. It felt like something out of Charlie & The Chocolate Factory or the planet-building scene out of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy?

8) there were more than a few key moments sprinkled across the season where there’s obviously a tight deadline, ship about ready to be destroyed, Federation lost, etc. – yet the characters are ‘monologuing‘ a bit too much instead of solving the problem?

9) I liked that they gave Georgiou a two-part farewell, but I felt it wasn’t a tight enough story, despite a cameo from an old friend, which was very cool and I didn’t seem coming, to be sure! I get that she needs to kill ‘bad Burnham’ to move on and grow as a person but the other plotters would have wacked her before the first episode ended if past plots based on the ‘mirror Empire’ are any measure?

10) They are getting way too free with the ability to ‘talk to people instantly’ no matter where they are in the universe (because now with the spore drive they can go anywhere in nearly an instant), yet call up the Admiral and have a chat anytime with full fidelity? At least in the first two seasons they at least pretended there were times where that wasn’t possible. I realize the Federation upgraded a lot of Discovery when they found HQ, but really?

11) Ultimately, the explanation for The Burn was a bit weak in the end. It all made sense and it was far better than the ending of Season 2 which was a huge mish-mash free for all – but just too pat, even though they tried to make it exciting, i’ll give them props for that.

12) the whole ‘sphere data’ thing was definitely way underused and only pulled out as a McGuffin from time to time when convenient (e.g. last two episodes but there were other times too) – if it’s sentient, wouldn’t it be doing more interesting things (possibly like trying to get OFF Discovery, which is being chased by Orion pirates all over the galaxy, not the safest place to be)?

So on balance, a pretty strong season, good bad guys and some great episodes. Looking forward to Season 4 but due to covid, not expecting that for at least another year at this point?

candybowl

Goodbye, Mr. Bond….

Sat ,31/10/2020

Somewhere in the North Atlantic, Cmdr Ramius is going to his final resting place. RIP.

Former James Bond actor Sean Connery dies aged 90

candybowl

Napoleon Hill – scamster…

Sat ,12/09/2020

So I started reading the Maurice White autobiography (My Life with Earth Wind & Fire), and it’s been pretty good so far. In it, he references The Laws of Success by Napoleon Hill, so I thought i’d look that up – no one can argue with the success, talent or influence of Earth, Wind and Fire, after all and Maurice White was *the man* at the center of it all.

In doing some digging on ol’ Napoleon, however, while i’m happy the book worked out for Maurice, I think i’ll pass. Gizmodo has a great article on Hill for those interested – Enjoy.

candybowl

What a bunch of flower children….

Sun ,12/07/2020

Been perusing Yes’ back catalog on YT – came across this from their second album, Time and a Word – too weird. The 80s wasn’t the only decade making weird music videos, to be sure….

candybowl

miss The Ox….

Sun ,21/06/2020

need to find that Thunderfingers DVD out there somewhere, maybe Scarecrow??

plenty more where that came from:

https://www.youtube.com/results?search_query=thunderfingers

candybowl

RIP, Syd Mead.

Wed ,01/01/2020

one of the great ones…..RIP.

Legendary sci-fi artist Syd Mead dead at 86

Iconic Concept Artist Syd Mead Passes Away

candybowl

DC Fontana – a great writer and a true pioneer…RIP.

Thu ,05/12/2019

RIP, science fiction pioneer Dorothy “DC” Fontana

Great tribute here: RIP: Dorothy (”D. C.”) Fontana

candybowl

Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass

Mon ,13/05/2019

yet another very interesting looking book i’ll have to check out from the library sooner or later – great interview in the meantime….he’s also such a nice guy, just to listen to.

Geddy Lee’s Big Beautiful Book of Bass
https://www.powells.com/book/-9780062747839

candybowl

The Conscience of the King – Star Trek:TOS

Fri ,05/04/2019

So i’ve watched a few original Star Trek episodes here and there over the past few years, despite having seen them all a bazillion times by now. However they may have dated – and definitely many have – there are still some cool aspects of them to watch.

But, since CBS took over several years ago, they reissued all 79 original episodes on DVD. You’d think that was a good thing, and for the most part, it’s fine, BUT, they also took the ‘liberty’ of updating CGI into them. Again, you’d think well, in some cases, the special effects are pretty bad (i’m thinking of The Constellation flying into the Doomsday Machine scene in particular, where it is ridiculously obvious it’s a model on a stand in front of a tv screen showing the effects, right at the very end of this clip:

.

However, I find in watching these ‘redo’ episodes that I mostly dislike the redo of the “CGI”. Maybe it’s just an old man ranting, but I just think in many cases, the original approach with the huge original model lit from within just simply looks better than their attempt at ‘muted’ CGI – naturally they can’t “really” do CGI because that didn’t actually show up until TRON and The Last Starfighter, over 16 years later.

The first YT video below shows the difference side by side (original vs update), from this episode, and you can see what I mean.

As to the episode itself, mixed reviews. Too much Kirk (no Sulu, Scotty at all), the plot is somewhat contradictory of itself (why does Kirk keep the attempt on his life such a big secret and, why does he yell at Spock, twice, for trying to keep him from getting killed, especially when that’s Spock’s JOB?). Also, his attempts at getting laid are simply lame and way too obvious, and like so many ST attempts at including Shakespeare – this probably being among the first given it’s from the first season of TOS – just detracts from the melodrama already in play (literally). And Uhura’s otherwise fine song in the rec room is obviously dubbed, much like the clip I watched of good ol’ Clint Howard in The Corbomite Maneuver as a (literal) kid, playing a scary alien. But i’m probably just jaded….

candybowl