Friday, February 26, 2016

3 Short Paragraphs: Absolutely Anything

2015, Terry Jones (Erik the Viking) -- download

I love Simon Pegg, I love Terry Jones and I love godcomplex movies. Bruce Almighty did it before, Click has done it (and had Kate Beckinsale to boot) -- a movie where someone is given godlike powers and things go hilariously wrong. Things do go wrong in the movie, but hilarity is hard to find.

I watched this movie in two sittings, as is my wont these days. Life always interrupts. Attentions wane. The first sitting had me watching in detail the humorous antics between Pegg's schoolteacher Neil, with his crush on the gorgeous neighbour (Beckinsale)  and his alien-given magic hand. Said aliens are a council of Monty Python actors testing to see if humans are worthy of obliteration or continued existence. He does fun things, silly things and selfish things only to be done in each time by a childish version of the genie's lamp wish -- liberal interpretation. Then it hits that key point, that happened just as I was moving onto sitting two.

The number one antic for socially awkward lonely men to do, once they get powers, is make the the girl of their dreams love them. Or just have sex with them. And you get the latter is rape, right? If she has no choice because you control All, then you are basically forcing her. Icky. The movie tries to get around the uncomfortable bit by having him lose his powers for a brief period (unbeknownst to him) and Kate getting drunk & horny. They have sex. He thinks he made her do it and feels terrible. It was a cute way of sidestepping the issue, but it really didn't. He could have said no, because she was drunk. Suddenly, after that deed, the movie falls apart as if it lost its direction. Things just got sillier without any introspection and couldn't be dragged up by Robin Williams as a dog. But at least Pegg made some money so he can get to making the next Star Wars & Star Trek movies.

Thursday, February 25, 2016

3 Short Paragraphs: Everest

2015, Baltasar Kormákur (Contraband) -- download

Why do men climb mountains? Because they are there? Seems a little facile doesn't it? Everest focuses on the men who keep on climbing the mountain, often as continued attempts to reach the peak that has eluded them. And supporting them are teams of "adventure companies" whose job and expertise is to guide the climbers safely. So, yes some men climb mountains because it's a paycheck.  Those are the guys are who intrigue me, not the idiots who spend vast quantities of cash to be frozen, exhausted and potentially dead. They were the reason I watched this movie.

Notice I said men, men, men. Jason Clarke (Terminator Genisys) leads one adventure company, Jake Gyllenhaal leads the other. The people they are leading up include John Hawkes (Deadwood), Josh Brolin, Michael Kelly (The Adjustment Bureau) and ... Naoko Mori (Torchwood). Emily Watson, Keira Knightley and Robin Wright are also in the background as support and wives. This is a man's movie about men doing as men will do. In this biographical flick, we get these two groups (lots of other nameless climbers in the background) combine in order to successfully reach the peak in spite of some bad weather coming up. And it all goes wrong. People die. There is something eyerolling to be said there about men doing as men do.

So, you have a handful of great actors and a decent director building a challenging story around icey set pieces and fake snow. There is a reason the best scenes are in the camps at the foot of the mountain. The rest is low key disaster flick footage, unless you are into climbing -- scary precipices, narrow ledges and blinding snowstorms. This was another reason I watched it, to see if they could build a movie from the small idea of people going up and getting back down. The drama is very low key, focused on loss and strength of character. People are going to die, so you are just ... waiting. Why? How? Railing against stupidity and ego was my primary emotion, as few of these men are unlikable. I did not get out of it any more than I expected and confirmed my own desire to not climb it, because it is there.

Saturday, February 20, 2016

I Saw This!! What I Have Been Watching (Pt. 6)

In this new trend of "leaking" things early, I am surprised I did not give the first episode of this alternate history series a brilliant review.  Brilliance on part of the show, not the review. Anywayz, I loved the first episode of this PK Dick story adaptation about a world where the Nazis won WWII, along with the Japanese. The Americans entered into the war too late for Europe, which in turn allowed the atomic bomb to fall into the Nazi hands. The war ended when they dropped it on Washington DC. We enter the story in the early 60s, a generation into America living as an occupied country -- Nazis controlling the east coast, Japanese the west coast with a neutral freezone (but still not America) in the Rockies.

This is an uncomfortable show to watch. Sure, we are still deeply seated in accepting Nazi Germans as bad guys (with no argument of them being so, but they are so deeply embedded in our forefront Bad Guy brain, more so than any other historical force) but the Japanese are generally considered decent, hardworking if a bit pervy these days. But in this world, both cultures are dominating, ruthless and downright scary. But the Nazis come out on top for the Bad.

The story focuses on two young people: Juliana, in San Francisco, whose sister is killed as a resistance agent and Joe, in NYC, a truck driver for the resistance. Both are quickly caught up in a conspiracy involving movie reels from The Man in the High Tower, the leader of the resistance. These reels show an alternate history where the Allies won the war -- our history.

The uncomfortable part is watching the show depict societal norms, even more upsetting than some we already had in the 60s. Joe drives his truck west, through a light snow fall, that is not snow. They are burning the old, the infirm and the insane. Just good population control for the Nazis. And in San Francisco, Juliana's boyfriend is detained & tortured, his Jewish ancestry used as leverage to have him confess to a conspiracy he knows nothing about. His sister and her children sit in a nearby room, a room with gas vents. He knows this. A generation under an occupation and most just ... accept it.

I love alternate histories, where you get to explore all the little bits of change. You can postulate how bad things can get, and how things could have just been different. And of course, you can comment on how some people just accept the world as it is, no matter how horrible it gets. Ahem America, we are all talking to you.

Time to binge watch the rest of the season.

Doctor Who started a trend, well at least in North American eyes -- maybe the Brits have been doing it for ages?  It is the Xmas special. No, not like us, where we have a themed Xmas episode, but a single episode that stands alone from the other stories, usually why the show is inbetween seasons or on a long hiatus. A tasty snippet while we wait.

The Abominable Bride is the first such for Sherlock. It picks up the continuity from last season, in that plane. But really, it takes place in the mind of Sherlock, in the Victorian era, giving us Sherlock and Holmes in their original timeline.

Hee! As a fan of the original books, I loved revisiting that setting.

But it doesn't stop there, as they twist and turn, mixing the stories together with a bit of breaking the 4th wall. As Sherlock investigates a mystery of a bride returned from the dead, he uncovers a rather odd conspiracy of .... feminists?

This episode was for the fans, as it just dives into the characters and their playful interaction with each other. The juxtaposition of 19th century versions vs the current ones, the contradictions and the ever presence ghost of Moriarty. The mystery is just a canvas unto which the characters paint themselves. Great fun! And yet, we are still connecting seasons together, considering how things went last season.

And from great fun to great-gawds-this-is-terrible we get Shadowhunters. This is the TV adaptation of the YA chicks-with-knives genre book series. Yes, the one that had a failed movie franchise attempt starring Phil Collins daughter Lily. Chicks with knives? You know, those books in the store that have a girl in tight, dark clothes usually with tattoos (often a tribal tramp stamp), a sword or dagger and she gets mixed up in Urban Fantasy, usually vampires.

The Mortal Instruments, as the books were called, is about a group of attractive, counter culture youth descended from Angel blood, who are charged with protecting the human world from Demons, and other monsterish creatures. Great idea. No idea about the execution, but boy does it lend itself to a CW style TV show. These shows practically are born on this station. But this one comes from Freeform, formally ABC Family, which might explain why it is so so so terrible.

The main character Clary is coming of age and bumps into Shadowhunters (the pretty kids in leather an abs who fight demons) in a nightclub. Before she can drag out her true history from her mother, the woman is attacked and taken. Clary is left piecing together the story by stalking to Shadowhunters back to their CSI style lair (lots of glowing set pieces, monitors and equipment) and learning of her heritage.

Help me find my mother! Help me find out who I am! Tell me what a Mortal Cup is! These are the strained cries of Clary as she goes from pretty highschooler in jeans and tees to Shadowhunter in short skirts and leather. Its not much of a transition for she looks ridiculous in the outfit, which is not surprising because she got it from a girl who seems to want to look like Vampirella in a pair of tight leather pants. Like the original movie, the boys put and argue over Clary not wanting to get wrapped up in her anguish but knowing they must.

The Vampire Diaries does it better. And yet I have watched a couple of more episodes, not to see if it got better but to see if the incredibly terrible was a fluke, a bad first episode. Nope. Stinker. Not even "I'm on a horse!" Isaiah Mustafa can raise it from the filthy floor.

The most annoying thing about the whole show, movie and book series is that it stole MY idea for a d20 Modern campaign that was also called Shadowhunters, stole its idea from Buffy but used the template of Angel blooded vs Demon blooded. Mine was better. But still had a chick with a dagger nee sword.