Monday, November 30, 2009

Mates of State

Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is intended. Screencaps from

Sunday, November 29, 2009

It's The End of The World As We Know It

Over the holiday weekend we donned space suits and headed to the cinema.

The Road (2009)

A man and a boy walk the wasteland that is their post-apocalyptic world, seeking a better place.

I just started reading Cormac McCarthy’s novel upon which this John Hillcoat-directed film is based, so I’m not yet in a position to compare the two. However I will say this: there is a truly bleak feeling in McCarthy’s prose that the movie accurately touches on at the beginning, but later seems to give up.

The movie, as in the book, does not specify WHAT happened to turn the earth into a living hell (a meteor, perhaps. Bruce Willis where were you?). The air is always cloudy and gray, ashes fall from the sky constantly. There are often earthquakes, and heavy rain. There is no sunlight, so there are no green growing things. And if there are no green fields there are no animals. So what do you eat?

If you are the Man and the Boy, you eat grasshoppers that have withered and dried up, and any precious canned goods you can get your hands on. And you stay away from the roving gangs of men that have given up on humanity and turned to cannibalism.

When the Man and the Boy were alone is when the movie worked best for me. Similar to Cast Away, when Tom Hanks had to learn to survive alone on the island, it was interesting to see civilized people reduced to being something else. At one point they are huddled under and overpass, boiling water in a hub cap before pouring it into a cut up plastic bottle with some make shift filters stuffed in it to catch impurities. But they soon run into the cannibals (more than once) and have to flee for their lives, and in doing so the film seemed to move from something special and unique to something I’ve seen before with the chase and evade stuff. For a film about a man and a boy walking alone in the wasteland, they seemed to run into a lot of people.

Viggo Mortensen does a heck of a job as the Man to the Boy, his son played by Kodi Smit-McPhee. Mortensen with his scruffy beard, shoulder length greasy hair and stained and torn clothes LOOKS like someone who is barely surviving an apocalypse. The pained expression on his face tells us more in a few glimpses than other actors could in a half hour monologue.

I also liked Smit-McPhee who starts out innocent but learns some hard lessons along the way. Some critics have called him “whiney” (I didn’t see him that way) but if you’re a ten year old boy walking – always walking – in a wasteland, wouldn’t you “whine” about some things once in a while?

The production design on this movie is first rate - for a film only budgeted at $20 million it is even outstanding. There is some CGI matte work and miniatures, but a great deal of the production was shot on actual decayed, decrepit locations in Pennsylvania, such as the Abandoned Turnpike Tunnels and other derelict projects.

The problem with The Road is that it appears to be about nothing (when SNL does their parody, the Man should be Jerry Seinfeld, “What’s up with these cannibals? They’re always hungry!”). The man and boy face incredible hardships and he tries to instill in him a sense of decency by telling him, “We are the good guys” and that they are “carrying the fire (in our hearts).”

But to what end? There appears to be no real hope in this world that things will ever get better. The sun cannot pierce the thick cloud of ash that covers the sky; every green thing – plants, grass, trees – is dead. All the animals have died off. There aren’t enough canned goods to keep them alive indefinitely. This literally is Hell. The earth will eventually heal, but that may take hundreds, even thousands of years. But long before that every last human will die off too. Under these conditions they have to. So why must the Man and Boy walk to the coast. What really is there for them? The Man is also very, very sick. When he dies the Boy will be on his own. What then?

The book is a very poetic read, and I suspect the author’s intent may have been lost in translating it to the screen. What is it all about? What did it all mean? Maybe at the end of the world we’ll never truly know.

Don't Sign Up For This Army

G.I. JOE: The Rise of Cobra (2009)

Another lousy, crappy, dull, uninvolving, and unimaginative summer blockbuster.

What's it about? Good guys fighting bad guys, both with armies of troops, guns, jet planes, attack subs, accelerator suits, and other impossible hardware at their disposal. We also get silly subplots involving one good guy's past with the now-bad hot chick and one silent good ninja's childhood upbringing with another snotty evil ninja.

The acting was uniformly bad. Chris Eccleston, Dennis Quaid, Channing Tatum, Rachel Nichols and Marlon Wayons should all be court martialed for offenses against the craft of acting. I’ve seen elementary school plays with higher quality emoting. Quaid literally appeared to be embarrassed in all his scenes, like he realized he was appearing in a movie based on a Hasbro toy. Tatum has a vacant expression that reminded me a lot of MacCauley Culkin in Home Alone. And Marlon Wayans is the human incarnation of Jar Jar Binks. He was annoying and knocked over things; the only thing he didn't do was step in poodoo, but then that's what sequels are for!

The action scenes were some of the blandest and least involving I’ve ever witnessed, filled with lots of obvious CGI doubling (especially JOE Scarlett racing on a motorcycle - her reation time in turns and spins was what made it stand out as fake). It made me long for the Raiders of the Lost Ark truck chase, which had huge stakes in it as far as the story (the Nazi’s have the Ark and Indy’s desperately trying to retrieve it), amazing, but still believable action (Indy riding up alone on horseback, jumping onto one truck and thwacking Nazis left and right, making his way along the convoy, crackerjack editing timing, all set to an incredible score by John Williams. In JOE, Tatum and Wayons done Iron Man Jr. costumes called accelerator suits and race on foot after the bad guys in their SUV on Paris streets (the baddies what to destroy the Eiffel Tower). The accelerated JOEs never catch the baddies because they spend all their time bouncing around like bionic gymnasts as they smack into and leap over cars. In the big final showdown, the JOEs attack the baddies' underwater city and their aqua-jets or whatever zip around in dogfights that aped Star Wars Death Star trench battle but weren't half as involving. It was all loud and poorly conceived, backed by a completely forgettable score by Alan Silvestri.

Come to think of it, Airwolf, a 1980s action/adventure show for which Silvestri composed a nifty theme is a much better version of G.I. JOE. Both featured secret organizations operating from hidden bases that used futuristic hardware to combat various enemies out to control the world (or at least L.A.). Airwolf’s hero was the cello-playing, wounded-to-his-soul Stringfellow Hawk, who had more depth to him than JOE’s Duke who merely lost his fiancĂ© to the bad guys. Airwolf’s action scenes were more thrilling that all the CGI nonsense of JOE, and they did it for pennies compared to JOE’s $170 million budget.

This movie grossed $150 million, so 9 year old boys had their summer movie, but that is the ONLY audience for this. Hey, I played war as a kid just like millions of other people - if the movie was done well, it should have been made for ALL of us (grown up and not just 9 year old boys).

The makers of this GI JOE movie obviously have little to no imagination (everything looked like a toy!!). Here’s how to do them one better: buy some old GI JOE figures from a discount store (12" or 3/34" it doesn't matter), grab some boxes and foam packaging molds, then find a mound of dirt or sandbox and let your imagination fill in the rest.

Saturday, November 28, 2009

Open the blast doors, open the blast doors!

If you've ever wanted to own your own decommissioned missile silo or other missile base property, NOW is the time!

This is some cool ass stuff. Some of the nifty features: half-mile long tunnels, stairs and ladders galore, thousands of feet of floor space (one had 15,000 sq ft!), that great concrete look, giant diesel engines and turbines, old computer thingys with switches (what are those, grandpa?), multi-ton blast doors, and if an area is flooded you can use it for scuba diving!

And since most of it is all underground, you can probably throw up a bunch of solar panels on top, maybe even a wind mill/turbine, and generate your own electricity. Neato!

Friday, November 27, 2009

So I Watched An Axe Murderer

The madmen/women at have posted the movie So I Married An Axe Murderer for your holiday weekend pleasure.

What's that you say, It's not science fiction? Well I say, SHUT IT!

This movie mentions a "virtual planetoid with its own weather system," Sputnik, it includes an homage to Alien's chestburster and contains the very science fictional phrase "pregnant man gives birth."

And last but not least, it posits the futuristic Scottish martial art known as "Fuck You."


Thursday, November 26, 2009

Happy Thanksgiving

We'd like to take a moment to thank all the readers of Bad News From Outer Space. We know you have a choice in blogs so thanks for flying with us.

Happy Thanksgiving to one and all.

Star Trek Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No Infringement of those rights is intended. Screencaps from

Wednesday, November 25, 2009

By Grabthar's Review looks (favorably) on the new-fangled Blu-Ray release of Galaxy Quest, one of the greatest science fiction (and comedy) movies of all time.

It's very funny, and after watching so many big budget "comedies" lately that maybe have one laugh every half hour this truly means something. And it's funny that comes from character and not simply lame sit-com situations.

It's touching. It really has a great heart, which you rarely see in movies.

The visual effects are top knotch. Land of the Lost cost more than twice GQ's budget, but had a limp cartoony quality to it (if they didn't want it realistic, why didn't they just use a TV budget for LoL's effect?). ILM does some amazing work here.

It's a rousing adventure. One you want to go on with these great characters.

Seriously, if you haven't watched this movie yet, what the heck are you waiting for?

Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Them's fighting words

Star Trek Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied. Screencap from

Monday, November 23, 2009

Launch Interceptors!

According to, Joshua Jackson from Fringe has been cast as Paul Foster in the feature film version of Gerry Anderson's UFO. Also it's apparently titled U.F.O. which doesn't look as cool, but whatever.

Since Jackson is committed to Fringe, and the show hasn't been cancelled, are we to assume this is to shoot during Jackson's show hiatus in spring 2010? A quick check of imdb shows it pencilled in for a 2011 release, and with a reported $130 million budget. Another Star Trek (please, please) or another Land of the Lost (dear goodness NO!)?

If Will Ferrell is cast as Cmdr Ed Straker I will be VERY upset. VERY UPSET.

Sunday, November 22, 2009

Watching this movie is the 13th Labor

Hercules (1983)

Instead of a formal review, here's a new feature "Guy Watches a Movie With A Laptop in his Lap."

Tremble at these names of legend: Golan-Globus, The Cannon Group, Luigi Cozzi and Lou Ferrigno.

“Darkness and chaos merged and formed the four elements: night, day, matter and air.”
I’d really hate to take an Italian science test.

Why are the stars so big and splotchy?

Zeus looks like Jon Stewart wearing the worst fake white beard and hair since Cameron Mitchell’s Cmdr. Santa Claus in Space Mutiny. It also appears he’s killed and skinned the Michelin Man to make his robes (it’s the white hoops that give it away).

Hercules was born from a roving photo torpedo.

The chief bad guy, attempting to kill the infant Herc says, “Where’s the BAY-bee.” That’s an almost Shatnerian pronunciation.

Sybil Danning’s extremely revealing costume is both highly inappropriate for the era and a GREAT fashion statement. She looks like she’s in charge of Ming the Merciless’s harem.

Zeus goes to save Baby Herc’s boat from going over the falls so he uses…a badly stop motion animated hand? Even for cheesy Italian fantasy, this is stupid.

Hercules punches a grizzly bear and his fists make a “ZAP” sound like a laser.

Hercules just threw a (stuffed) bear INTO ORBIT. It’s now the constellation Ursa Major. This has been verified by Galileo, also an Italian.

Why does it look like King Minos is on the moon (and the moon is made of paper mache and foil)? This looks like a high school play set at Stonehenge.

Now I know why King Minos’ orange-ish ensemble bothers me: it reminds me of the Burger King’s costume. Just call him Burger King Minos.

“Hercules, your mother is in danger. Come!”

Herc running across the field sounds like a couple of erasers being clapped together.

Hercules is now fighting a bunch of hastily assembled scrap metal that’s been hot-glued together. And it has wings. Give me Bubo any day.

More cheesy optical blasts as Herc battles a couple of gladiators.

Herc is taking a poll now – he’s using a telephone pole to pin ten swarthy Italian dudes.

Herc just threw the telephone pole into space. That’s ANOTHER thing that NORAD has to track now.

I think they put eyeliner on Big Lou. Look out Nestor Carbonell.

Herc diverted the river to clean the stables. WORST. MINIATURES WITH WATER. EVER. The stable exterior looks two feet high at best. And made of foam.

Herc, chained and tossed into the sea, is now singing “Here’s to swimmin’ with bowl-legged women.”

Zeus and Athena are pulling an Obi Wan Kenobi and appearing all spectrally and see through underwater to blather on about Herc. Either get involved or piss off.

Herc washes ashore and gasps for breath TWICE before passing out. Lou Ferrigno is acting the SHIT outta this movie.

An old witch hag just "beamed down" (the sound effects made it seem like there was a frequency problem). Why does she sound like Carol Kane in Taxi?

I keep expecting Box from Logan’s Run to roll into her icy witch’s pad.

The witch has a PUKA SHELL necklace thing! Gnarly.

The old witch is really Circe the Sorceress. Say that three times fast.

How does Syblil Danning keep that costume up? Talent, sheer talent.

Another mechanical beastie? I’ve seen LEGOS that looked tougher than that thing.

These sounds effects are so bad. That sounded like a fart. (It was the mechanical hydra turning over or on or something.)

Rainbows lead to Hell. Who knew?

“There under the Hand of Destiny is the Soul of the World.” When all else fails, make shit up (using the “this of that” template).

Now Herc is as big as the statue of Talos.

The look on Zeus/Jon Stewart’s face is priceless. He would SO rather be elsewhere.

The “magic chariot” looks like it was made from a giant margarita glass. The salt around the edges is a dead give away.

Want to know Hercules greatest weakness? He can’t tie knots! Circe the Sorceress has to use her magic to tie the rope around a rock and to the chariot.

HOW DO YOU STEER a rock-powered chariot?

Looks like Herc is gonna fight the Italian Terminator (another shitty stop motion pile of junk). And it’s a Centaur Terminator, a Terminataur!

Why are all the night sky scenes filled with only six or seven stars? Didn't Galileo explain astronomy to the locals?

Death by lava? Activate the unnecessarily slow lowering device!

Burger King Minos’ fire sword is actually kind of cool.

…commercial for Booty Pop panties – “it’s like a padded bra for your booty!”

Herc “impales” Sybil Danning on his sword, just not the way she wanted.


The special effects were done by the company, A Guy and a Bathtub (not to be confused with A Guy and a Sink).

The credits are rolling. Now I know who to blame.

As the Blackout Turns


(episode descriptions from Wikipedia)
"Playing Cards with Coyote" - Mark gets a lead on the tattooed assassin that he saw in his flashforward. Simon and Lloyd play a game of poker to settle old scores. Aaron uncovers the harsh truth behind Tracy's death. Janis has second thoughts about her career.

"Believe" - Bryce begins his search for the woman in his flashforward, Aaron becomes concerned over Tracy's odd behavior, Mark attempts to track down the person responsible for texting Olivia and outing his drinking during his flashforward vision, and Demetri's co-agents try to find the mysterious caller who forewarned him about his unfortunate fate. The music playing as the episode ends is "Shelter from the storm" by Bob Dylan.

Egads, but this show has seriously devolved into a bad version of Grey's Anatomy. There is just too much focus on the soap opera elements. Case in point, I am tired of Mark's and Olivia's (Joseph Fiennes and Sonya Walger) "You're going to cheat on me in the future" "I'm never going to have an affair" "But we can change our future" back and forth. It's repeated over and over. You know, perhaps this see-sawing back and forth might happen to a married couple in this situation, but there has to be another way to approach the material.

In a way it reminds me of the first several years of Smallville and the "will Clark Kent and Lana Lang get together" ongoing storyline. Everyone knows Clark and LOIS LANE are destined to be together, but episode after episode, year after year, Smallville kept this fire going and it just became ridiculous. The Benford's of FlashForward haven't been doing it that long, but it's beginning to feel like it.

The story with Aaron (Brian F. O'Byrne) and his back from the dead daughter Tracy (Genevieve Cortese) isn't very interesting. If military contractors are out to get her, wouldn't her dad's home be the first place they'd look?

The cancer-striken Bryce (Zachary Knighton) throwing caution to the wind and flying to Japan to find the girl of his dreams felt like it was more appropriate for a teen show on the CW, complete with Bob Dylan song (admittedly a bit older than most recording artists used on the CW). This despite the fact that the actress playing the girl, Keiko (Yuka Takeuchi), is seriously hot.

And how much BS was it when the NSA with all their superduper software can't create a decent upgraded photo of Suspect Zero (the man at the stadium) during the blackout, but they could bring out ALL THAT DETAIL on a ring on his finger. Bad, sad writing there.

Goyer, get this show back on track!!!

Saturday, November 21, 2009

Gorn's Twitter Feed

Would the Gorn's tweets be better labeled "grits?" Or perhaps "greets?"

Why's that little pale dude wearing a ssskirt? And why's he so sssparkly?
Stardate: 7134.8

I am SO gonna throw gray boulders at that man.
Stardate: 7136.6

Stardate: 7013.5

Where’s my tunic? And my flint knife, Mr. Pointy?
Stardate: 6421.2

Kirrrk? He’s here? Right now? On Sestus III? FUCK!
Stardate: 6421.1

I could really go for a Rat on a Stick & a Coke rrright now. Or a Manwich.
Stardate: 3289.1

Gonna shed my skin now. Don’t peek!
Stardate: 3295.6

Sunlight is really a bitch when you can’t blink your eyesss. Grrrr.
Stardate: 3196.3

Think I’m gonna lay in the sssun for a few hrs & just bake. After all, I AM a lizard.
Stardate: 3195.6

Boy, these rocks on Sestus III are pointy. And at an angle.
Stardate: 4319.8

Stardate: 5125.6

Oh, FESTUS. Never mind.
Stardate: 3195.9

Sestus III? Wasn’t he on Gunsssmoke?
Stardate: 3195.7

2day’s wardrobe choices: tunic, tunic, thong, tunic. Gonna go w/ the tunic.
Stardate: 3195.6

Friday, November 20, 2009

You light up my life

This article has something I've never seen even in the most visionary of science fiction movies: LED tattoos. (One thing Blade Runner missed!)

Crazy, sexy, cool.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

An Observation

Fringe - "August"

A puzzling abduction case leads the Fringe team to...The Observer?

A great episode, revealing more details about the mysterious Observer, the hairless man who dresses like Mad Men's Don Draper at a funeral. For one thing there is more than one Observer! In fact we see four in this one episode. (I liked how the senior Observer had the light gray suit, in contrast to the junior members' darker gray suits.)

Dipping a toe into Final Destination territory, the abducted girl Christine (Jennifer Missoni) was scheduled to fly to Italy on a plane that blew up after take off. This new Observer (Peter Woodward) has messed with the natural flow of things.

I like that the Fringe team is quickly swallowing these incredible, even outlandish, concepts instead of doing the slow to the fact, skeptical thing that Scully did on The X-Files for far, far too long. Case in point: Peter (Joshua Jackson) reiterates to Olivia (Anna Torv) that the Observers not only perceive time differently than we do they EXPERIENCE it differently, as in non-linear (all at once), neither bats an eye. The Massive Dynamic scientist (a goofy young guy) they consulted with that brought forth that theory was a hoot. Bring him back, please.

Olivia and Ella (Lily Pilblad) her cute as a button niece have some nice family moments in this episode. I loved that Olivia - the tough FBI agent who has crossed parellel universes - is afraid of roller coasters. It makes the character more human (even if she turns out to be superhuman when all is said and done). Meanwhile, Walter (John Noble) starts the story bummed that his favorite strawberry ice cream has been discontinued, but the appearance of the Observers quickly snaps him back to reality. Walter fears they've come to take Peter away.

We witness some new Observers details. We already knew of their love for hot sauces (hotter the better), now we see they write down their observations in a plain notebook in a very strange code, one that team linguist Astrid finds most frustrating because it's like no language ever made. The Observers can pull a Clark Kent and catch a bullet in their bear hands. They also have a hand gun that seems to shoot a force blast instead of bullets. They are supposed to observe, but they have interfered when the proper flow of things was in danger. And the Observers hire unassuming assassins, like Donald (Paul Rae), to do whack jobs.

This episode's denoument was incredibly touching. (SPOILER) As this new Observer (Peter Woodward, yes, The Equalizer's son!) lay dying in the back seat of a car he revealed to his collegue, basically, that his heart was touched by this girl nearly

was so touched by watching over a little girl all these years that as she grew, he grew to love her. The regular Observer's (Michael Cerveris) realization that the girl is important, and will not be harmed, because she was responsible for the death of one of them nearly brought a tear to my eye.

If it hasn't been said before someone on the Fringe writing team must be a huge comic book fan as the Observer and his/their credo to never interfere harkens back to the Marvel Comics character of Uatu the Watcher, who first appeared in a 1963 issue of The Fantastic Four. Compared to the Watcher's usual toga and sandals, the Observers are the snappier dressers.

This show is firing on all cylinders. I can't wait to see what comes next, though I'm sure the Observers will be there, scoping things out with their retro tech, putting lots of hot sauce on food and watching, never interfering.


The nice folks at have an article about scifi series that need movie reboots.

Let's roll up our spacesuit's sleeves and weigh in, shall we?

1. Space: 1999
Great special effects in the original, no argument there. But the stories and acting were so veddy British, as in dry, it should have had a hand creme (that's lotion, to we Americans) tie in. The premise is just so stupid: the moon not only is torn from Earth's orbit, but somehow is speeding through space passing by other planets and encountering all sorts of aliens. Does it travel with its own wormhole? And where do the Moonbase inhabitants get all their food, fuel and supplies? PASS.

2. Time Tunnel
Are they serious? Wasn't this already remade as Quantum Leap? And hasn't the Terminator franchise screwed up time travel movies for a good long while? PASS

3. The Six Million Dollar Man
Hells yeah! Bring back Big Steve Austin (sorry, Stone Cold) and tell Oscar Goldman and Rudy Wells to spring for the bionic extras package and up the budget to six billion. This would give the superhero genre a kick in the pants: Look ma, no spandex! Sort of like Jack Ryan with superpowers. Maybe the Wachowski Brothers want to give this one a wack? As long as Bigfoot shows up in the sequel. AGREE

4. Earth 2
I kinda liked this short-lived TV series, about a rag-tag group trying to survive and settle on a "new Earth" in the future. Make it an HBO mini-series, but I don't see it working as a big budget film. PASS

5. UFO
Bring on the Grays! This would be an AWESOME big screen trilogy, chronicling the discovery of alien life and their nefarious plans for the earth, the building of our only hope of defense, S.H.A.D.O. (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defense Organization), and all of its amazing hardware and vehicles: the moonbase, Interceptors, Skydiver and Sky One, S.I.D. (Space Intruder Detector), the mobiles. This trilogy would be recast with new and upcoming actors, a la the recent Star Trek, to play Cmdr. Straker, Paul Foster, Gay Ellis, Alec Freeman, Virginia Lake and the purple-haired moonbase hotties! AGREE

6. Voyagers!
Yeah, right. Maybe (maybe) if they made it in the tone of the first Harry Potter movie. PASS

7. Buck Rogers
Biddy-biddy-biddy, it's going to take a lot to erase the discotastic memory of the spandex-clad Gil Gerard from our retinas (he's blocking our memory of the spandex-clad Erin Gray). If they could somehow capture the true flavor of space opera - perhaps by studying Star Wars (the first one!) and The Empire Strikes Back for a few years - this might work. Maybe Sam Raimi might be a good choice to produce this. His Xena and Hercules had about the right tone and flavor, but they would need to really cast this well, picking the male equivalent of a Lucy Lawless. AGREE

Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Battlestar Conceptica has some great, often little seen, concept artwork for the original, old school Battlestar Galactica.

All the greats from the original Star Wars worked on BSG-TOS, including Ralph McQuarrie and Joe Johnston; they were joined by such similarly awesome talents as Andy Probert (before he moved over to Star Trek: The Motion Picture), Dan Goozee, and the legendary Frank Frazetta.

Gorgeous stuff, absolutely beautiful. Take some time to give it a look-see.

Tuesday, November 17, 2009

May I Make a Suggestion?

Fringe - "Of Human Action"

"You're going to hold this over my head for a long time, aren't you?"

Two used car salesmen take a teenage boy on a crime spree killing policemen, robbing a convenience store and demanding a $2 million ransom from his scientist father, who just happens to work for Massive Dynamic.

But who really is being held hostage? And by the way, Scientist Father (which would make a great sitcom name) was working on mind control.

A good solid episode, which at first blush brings to mind The X-Files episode "Push" which had a similar mind control theme, but writers Robert Chiapetta and Glen Whitman spin this tale in another direction by focusing on Peter who is later taken hostage. Walter is beside himself at the possibility of losing his son again. Nice work done by Joshua Jackson and John Noble as son and father. Let's start the John Noble for Best Supporting Actor Emmy campaign early!

Agent Broyles (Lance Reddick) is SHOT and Olivia (Anna Torv) has a nice scene where she ribs him about the hazards of field work versus sitting behind a desk.

I wished they would have given a shout out to the movie Scanners when Walter was comparing the human brain to that of a computer. That's the first film I know of where that sort of comparison was made.

I hope Olivia is noticing the strange references Walter makes surrounding Peter and soon deduces that her Fringe mate is not of this earth. That will be some episode, and I hope they really showcase Jackson in it.

There's a great coda to the end, not so much a "twist" but something to remind you that you are indeed watching Fringe and not some other show. And I loved the older late 1970s era computer terminal Nina (Blair Brown) was using to communicate with William Bell.

Next week, Bring on the Observers!

All My Circuits has a cool article looking at the history of computers.

Check out the Difference Engine (isn't that just the most awesome name?) designed in 1822 but not built until recently.

The greats are all there: ENIAC, the IBM 360, the Xerox PARC Alto, the Apple II.

In a parallel universe, they were joined by the Batcompter, HAL 9000, Colossus and the M-5 Multitronic Unit.

Monday, November 16, 2009

Watch the skies

V – “Pilot” and “There is No Normal Anymore”


Writer/director Kenneth Johnson’s fondly remembered 1983 mini-series V is dusted off without him and given a new coat, or skin, as the case may be.

You should know the plot by now: giant spaceships appear all over the world one day. The aliens, who appear human, tell us that they’re here only for a short time and in exchange for a bit of water and fuel, they will share their advanced tech with us, curing many human ills. But a human resistance is started when it is discovered the aliens, called Visitors, are not what they ssseem.

The jack-booted, red-suited, sunglasses-wearing Visitors, as well as the original’s Nazi allegory, are jettisoned for crisp business suits and the old trope of “beware of wolves in sheep’s clothing,” a theme which the recently ended Battlestar Galactica already explored in great detail.

I had no real expectations for this show, so it’s not entirely a huge bummer that it’s not working for me.

The cast for the most part isn’t doing clicking. I liked series lead Elizabeth Mitchell on Lost, but here, as single mom FBI Agent Erica Evans, she really doesn’t register at all; she just appears tired all the time. (As a comparison, Fringe's Anna Torv comes across as a more credible FBI Agent.) Erica’s teenage son Tyler (Logan Huffman), who joins a Visitor’s group despite his mom's wishes, is extremely annoying. The rest of the cast doesn’t come alive onscreen, except for Morena Baccarin as Visitor leader Anna. Similar to how Brent Spiner nailed portraying an android as Data on Star Trek: The Next Generation, Baccarin has succeeded in making Anna something exotic - dare I say it, alien - with just her smile and her bearing.

The story is simply RACING by with no real plot development. The Visitors appear one day, then after just a few scenes it’s now three weeks later. Erica’s FBI partner, played by the great Alan Tudyk, is barely introduced before he’s revealed as a (gasp) Visitor. We are told about how they’ve been partners for seven years and are very close, but we never had a chance to SEE that before the big shocking revelation. I think that was a very poor storytelling choice, especially with an actor of Tudyk's range. Is he just going to be a snarling lizard for the rest of the series? In a way this feels similar to X-Men 3: The Last Stand where they rushed from plot point to plot point as fast as they could in between big visual effects scenes, except without the big visual effects scenes.

The theme about Visitors already being among us – as loved ones, friends and trusted collegues – was examined in depth in Battlestar Galactica. Not to say that science fiction shows can’t have similar themes, but that was just one of many ideas and issues explored on BSG (and that series just ended early this same year). On V, that appears to be it, and I don’t believe that is enough to sustain this series.

Destroy planet. Reset. Destroy planet. Reset.

Director Roland Emmerich's kiss your ass goodbye, end-of-the-world movie 2012 was the number one film at the box office this weekend, scooping up $65 million sawbucks.

Here's a CGI-laden clip from this blockbuster. (make sure you watch it, it's awesome!)

Roland, you've destroyed the same cites a few times over, it's time to blow up something bigger. Next time, how about the solar system?

Sunday, November 15, 2009

Can you hear me now?

This is a fun article on that looks at the evolution of the indispensible cell phone.

The SRA/Ericsson MTA looks from 1956 like one of the wall-mounted phones on the Battlestar Galactica (the SRA weighed 88 pounds!).

The Nokia Mobira Talkman from the Orwellian year 1984 looks a lot like those old Army phones you saw on the battlefields in World War II movies. "Call in an air strike to these coordinates!"

Our own cell phone looks so 2002. Screw it, give me a communicator any day.

Saturday, November 14, 2009

DO NOT visit this Land of the Lost

Land of the Lost (2009)

"Marshall, Will and Holly on a routine expedition met the greatest earthquake ever known...." If you're a child of Saturday morning TV in the 1970s, there's a better than average chance you recognize that theme song.

But it does you little good with this empty-headed, and empty-hearted, big budget Hollywood update.

The original Land of the Lost was a live action kid's show produced by Sid and Marty Krofft, the duo famous for extremely trippy hippie/disco-era shows such as H.R. Pufnstuf, Lidsville and Sigmund and the Sea Monsters. But unlike those programs Land of the Lost was a straight up adventure show, about a father (Rick Marshall) and his two teen kids (Will and Holly) who get trapped in a strange land lost in time and space. The show featured lots of cool science fiction ideas and concepts from luminaries in the field such as Ben Bova, Larry Niven and David Gerrold. You had dimensional portals, time displacement, control towers called pylons (operated by crystals), the Pakuni ("man-apes" with a language devised for the program by a UCLA linguist - how's that for Saturday morning education!), Sleestak (primitive reptile-insectoids), Enik (an advanced ancestor of the Sleestak), aliens, and gravity drives. Oh, and dinosaurs. Lots of dinosaurs.

The show was made on the cheap with chroma-key work (that's how the weatherman gives his report in front of that screen), hand puppet dinosaurs (to alternate with the costly stop motion animation), but what it lacked in budget it made up for in big ideas and lots of heart (similar to the UK's long-running Dr. Who, pre-Christopher Eccleston).

But who needs any of that when you have Will Ferrell and Danny McBride doing their patented stupid idiot and loudmouth moron routines? I used to be a big Will Ferrell fan; I loved his entire run on Saturday Night Live and enjoyed his first few big screen movies. He lost me with Talladega Nights, where his man-child character just became cruel in his treatment of his best friend (John C. Reilly). He carries on that tradition here.

This is a comedy but I didn't laugh much at all. Ferrell's Rick Marshall is supposed to be a scientist (okay a fringe scientist), but he comes across not only as a total idiot but a complete jerk as well - this guy couldn't load an iPod let alone create a machine that opens a doorway in time and space. He's always stupid. When he first meets Chaka (Jorma Taccone from The Lonely Island) in the land of the lost, his first impulse is to tell the man-ape that he is his master and superior. He immediately tries to dominate him. Why would he do this, especially since Holly can fully communicate with Chaka? Of course the answer is just so you could have some lame jokes and then continue to stretch them out later on between the two.

Anna Friel plays grad student Holly pretty much straight. She is NOT an idiot, so why anyone with an ounce of smarts would fall in love with the doofus idiot moron that is Rick Marshall is beyond any sort of belief. Danny McBride, rounding out our lost trio and ostensibly playing Will, plays the Danny McBride character. (Hey, Jack Black, you have a replacement in the wings!) McBride plays a watered-down version of his hilarious Tropic Thunder character, but his schtick is already wearing thin. (Find some more layers Danny, and fast.)

Pick any lame sitcom and it is practically guaranteed to be funnier than this movie, which was rated PG-13 for "crude and sexual content." That's what every big summer comedy/adventure movie made from a kid's show needs: dick, crap and f--- jokes.

Do yourself a real favor and rent the original Land of the Lost. That's real filmmaking there.


What's on Medusan Ambassador Kollos' mind is today's "Moment of Zen:"

Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied. Screencap from

Friday, November 13, 2009

No Real Sparks in Crank 2

Bouncing, careening and ricocheting off the shelves of the L.A. Library system.

Crank 2: High Voltage (2009)

Chev Chelios (Jason Statham) survived his mile-long fall from a plane in Crank 1 and is kidnapped by Chinese mobsters who plan on harvesting all his organs for their aging mob boss. They start with Chelios' heart (giving him an artificial heart to keep him alive), but before they can take anything else, Chev comes to and starts killing everyone around him in his quest to get back his pumper. Every so often (when the plot requires it) he has to "jump start" the battery powering his heart. Hilarity ensues.

That's the whole movie and it's an absolute waste of time. Writer/directors Neveldine/Taylor have zoomed past the frantic antics of Crank 1 and gone right into the surreal and downright silly. They've gone from cartoonish to cartoon.

Watching this movie made me feel like I was on drugs. The vast majority of the film is shot with a very wide angle lens (the type that bends the image on the right and left sides) which was really annoying; it's right up there with Battlefield: Earth's using "dutch tilts" for every shot. I felt like I was in a video game, like Grand Theft Auto. That is NOT a compliment.

Chev Chelios roughs up anyone and everyone, when he's not killing them. Well, they're all gangstas and low-lifes so they deserve to die, don't they? There's a scene where an innocent bystander from Crank 1, who Chev had temporarily taken hostage, is seeing a shrink. (Of course for this movie, the shrink is a very busty woman, with a lot of cleavage showing.) He makes a breakthrough and exclaims that he's finally ready to start living his life, when a stray bullet from one of Chev's gun battles comes flying through the window and splatters his brains all over the wall. FUN-NEE.

Neveldine/Taylor do whatever they want in this movie. There are no rules. Graphics are thrown up on screen a couple times (as when a guy tells Chelios he has "Full Body Tourettes"). A man slowly and painfully cuts off his own nipples to atone for his failure to nab Chelios (in a scene that could have been in a Scorsese-like crime drama). Chinese actress/celebutant Bai Ling, playing a very stereotypical asian whore, has subtitles for her English dialogue (but no one else needs it). There's a hallucinatory dream-like sequence (it looks like a demo for Adobe After Effects). And of course Chev had to bang his lady love Eve (Amy Smart) in public once again (at the Hollywood Park racetrack, no less). The movie has the frantic, frenetic photography and editing of the love child of Sam Raimi, Robert Rodriguez and Tony Scott when he did Domino. A lot of it felt like film school kids just fooling around.

The one thing this movie showed me is that Jason Statham would be perfect for a remake of Airplane (not that I want them to remake that classic). He is just SO damn serious. I'd like to see him try comedy (one where he's not sticking shotguns up gangbanger's sphincters).

This movie is only for juvenile minds, addled by long term violent video game play and the constant screech of its guitar rock soundtrack. I am not one of those people.

Thursday, November 12, 2009

Itsy bitsy amber-encased spider web

This article looks at the WORLD'S OLDEST KNOWN SPIDER WEB. It's about 140 million years old, and of course it was preserved in amber.

That amber (tree sap) is amazing stuff. I don't know why Ted Williams didn't just have his head coated in amber instead of going the cryogenic freezing method. It would be a lot cheaper than what those cryo companies charge, and if future scientists can revive a severed head, they can surely clean off the amber (lemon-powered "Amber Away").

Wednesday, November 11, 2009

FlashForward loses one of the team

FlashForward – “The Gift”

Major Spoilers

Here is the episode description from
“Mark, Demetri, Gough and MI6 agent Fiona Banks investigate a Blue Hand club and its possible connection to some recent suicides. Meanwhile, Aaron receives a surprise visit from a former army buddy of his late daughter's, Demetri comes clean with Zoey about his lack of a flashforward, and Nicole helps Bryce uncover the mystery of his flashforward while volunteering at the hospital.”

I really want to like this series. I don’t watch shows merely to rag on them. But this episode, like the last couple just haven’t had the “oomph” that the pilot had. It’s the same characters, yes, but that spark is definitely missing.

Let’s jump right to the meat of the episode:

A recurring character died in this episode and it didn’t really affect me. Young FBI Agent Al Gough (Lee Thompson Young) couldn’t deal with his vision: he accidentally causes the death of a woman, Celia (she dies from her injuries in the hospital), and her two young kids are to be remanded to state foster care. He’s destroyed this one family. To prevent that from happening, and to make a stand against people who had visions of nothing and go to underground Blue Hand Clubs (sort of Fight Club meets the S&M scene, for people with nothing to lose), Gough commits suicide by jumping off the FBI building.

I think the reason it didn’t impact me is because we only ever got glimpses of it. Gough got a phone call in his flash telling him the woman had died. We never see Gough meet Celia, let alone how he causes her death (the caller tells him it was accidental). We didn’t get to experience this tragedy that Gough has now seemingly avoided. We were TOLD about it all, and the telling was in tiny shards. If this was told properly I should have been devastated by Gough’s death and moved by his sacrifice for Celia and her family, but I wasn’t.

The other big happening was with Aaron (Brian F. O’Byrne) meeting Mike, an ex-solider friend of his supposedly deceased daughter. Mike tells him that he was there with Tracy when their Humvee was hit with rocket fire, and we see this in a flashback. Mike sees Tracy’s severed left arm and one of her legs. The flashback ends on her face and upper torso. Mike gives a pocket knife back to Aaron the father had given to his daughter. In Aaron’s flashforward he saw himself returning this pocket knife to a very much alive Tracy, in what looked like an Army tent. At episode’s end, Aaron walks into his home to find Tracy sitting at the table. Is she real or a vision of some sort?

After the pilot I was very interested in the dilemma of whether or not the future is set in stone or if it can be changed or at least altered from the flashforwards. Now they've thrown an interesting monkey wrench into the works, which is a good thing. I'm still interested in the overall story, but I'm not as invested in the characters.

They haven’t found a way to balance moving their complicated plot/mythology forward while still keeping the human element. While network sibling Lost may have stumbled a few times in that first season, the characters (and actors) were so compelling, viewers didn’t mind. FlashForward isn’t quite in that league. It has good actors and characters, but no one POPS from the screen. And just as it starts to develop an interesting mystery, building some story momentum, it drops into a lower gear and slows down.

Dominic Monaghan's possible villain Simon hasn't been given much screen time since his debut a couple episodes back. There was only one brief glimpse of him in this episode, in the closing montage sequence. David S. Goyer is a huge comic book fan, and what they're doing with Monaghan's character feels like what they do in comics when you see a villain for only one or two panels. He's slowly plotting and planning, but doesn't have anything to do with that issue's story. That works in comics, but not on television. Let's get to it.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

Martian land grabber

Thanks to friend of the station D for sending this link from to some absolutely stunning photos from the Mars Reconnaissance Orbiter.

There is so much variety in the landscapes and rock formations it looks like photos from dozens of different planets and not just the solitary Red Planet. That MRO is an amazing little machine.

Speaking of amazing, after noticing something unusual in one of the photos, we ran it under the station's spectro-interociter, cross fed it into the techo-analyzitron, and found something the good folks at NASA and the JPL missed. Here it is:

parody photo

MRO Mars landscape photo copyright 2009 it's respective rights holder. Marvin the Martian is copyright 2009 and a trademark of Warner Brothers. No infringement of these rights it implied.

Monday, November 9, 2009

Open the Pod People door, HAL

Top 10 Ways to tell your spouse has been taken over by Pod People.

10. Constant phone messages left by someone calling themselves Green Giant saying, "Ho-ho-ho!"
9. They recoil from electricity (or maybe they're just Amish).
8. Their eyes go all misty when you mention soy protein isolate.
7. They take a bath in melted butter and scrub with salt and pepper.
6. When watching The Thing From Another World, they always root for the carrot man (The Thing).
5. They're always carrying cans of peas in their pockets.
4. No matter your ailment- from headaches to a paper cut - they prescribe sleeping pills.
3. They recoil in terror from McDonald's french fries (only aliens don't love Mickey D's fries).
2. They think Star Trek should have been called Spock Trek.
1. Whenever you mention Kevin McCarthy they give you the finger.

Sunday, November 8, 2009

Mugged by a fleet of trucks

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen (2009)

I feel like I've just been mugged by a fleet of trucks. The bastards took my money and then just continued to run me over, again and again. Bastard trucks are like that.

I think it must be said up front that Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen is NOT a movie: there is no cohesive story at work, nor do any real characters inhabit the thing. When shit is not blowing up and the camera is not constantly circling* whomever is on screen, the "dialogue" is spit out like everyone is entering a John Moschita speed-talking contest. Even with the sub-titles on, it was hard to follow what everyone was blurting out.

I dare you to ask any ten people who saw this to explain the plot of the movie. I bet huge Vegas bucks not two of them would have the same summary. The most easily understood part is Sam (Shia LeBeouf) is going off to college on the east coast, leaving the world's hottest girlfriend that a nerd could get, Mikeala (Megan Fox), to lay around on top of motorcycles while skankily clothed at her dad's auto shop in L.A. I guess he's doing this because there are no reputable colleges in the Los Angeles area? For no reason a shard of the All Spark imprints some symbols into Sam's brain, which causes him to have what appear to be epileptic fits at inopportune moments, such as during physics class with Prof. Rainn Wilson. Apparently the evil Decepticons need those symbols to find the "Matrix of Leadership" which will activate the something or other and blow up the world, giving the Fallen said revenge. The "Matrix of Leadership" is also the most ridiculous name for any MacGuffin, ever.

There are several moments in the film - between loud, annoying action scenes - where the characters have to stop and explain the plot of the movie. This is usually called "exposition." Here it is simply called "bullshit." Practically every movie has a bit of exposition, but the rule of the cinema, being a visual medium and all, is to SHOW. We're told about the Dynasty of the Primes, and the search for Energon in the universe, and how the Fallen was once a brother Prime, but didn't renew his membership card, and about finding the Key and how they hide the Matrix of Leadership from the Decepticons, and watch out for the Sun Harvester, and to do this you have to do that, ad nauseum. The more they explained the more confusing the movie got.

As another prime (get it!) example of what a bullshit story this was, Sam finds the Matrix of Leadership, needed to resurrect the dead Optimus and which looks like half of the Glaive from Krull, but it immediately turns to dust when he picks it up. He bags the dust but is killed by Megatron before he can use it. Sam in death gets a vision of Autobot heaven (all together now: WTF?) and they tell him that "the Matrix of Leadership is not found but earned." Now this sounds like a really bad motivational seminar - one put on by Yoda. Sam is resusitated and the dusty Matrix of Leadership magically reforms itself into the Glaive-thing; it revives Optimus Prime, who then goes on to kick metal-ass and save the day. What a crock of Autobot-shit!

That's the real problem with this movie: the writers (Ehren Kruger & Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzman) could and did make up ANYTHING that would get them out of the corners they were stuck in.

This is a terrible, nasty empty-headed movie. The visual effects by ILM were for the most part amazing - it really looked like giant robots were there on the screen with the human actors - but what the writers and director Michael Bay did with them is inexcusable (this is a movie only for people with Attention Deficit Disorder). Aside from the forest battle, the action scenes are largely forgettable (they were hyper-frenetic, all poorly staged and filmed - you could NOT follow the action). Everyone remembers the Imperial Walker attack (machines vs. men, sound similar?) in the snow in The Empire Strikes Back. You had a sense of where everyone was in the battle, you knew the stakes, you cared for the characters and you could follow the amazing action (plus you thrilled to the fantastic John Williams score). Aside from ILM's brilliant compositing in Transformers 2, NO ONE will remember this movie for anything because it has nothing to offer. Except a full body headache.

* The constantly circling camera, where it tracks around one character in one direction (say, counter-clockwise) as they say their dialogue, then tracks in the opposite direction as another character responds was so ridiculously overdone in this movie. There was at least one version where instead of a steadicam they used a helicopter for the circling shots (it was one of the major exposition bits). The circling camera is a Michael Bay trademark, but he overused it so much it became a howlingly funny parody of itself. Play a drinking game based on taking a shot each time Bay does the circling camera and you will be flat dead drunk less than 10 minutes into the movie. Pick any moment in the film and with just a few minutes the camera will be circling around someone.

Saturday, November 7, 2009

Godzilla vs. Twitter

You know the Japanese would so totally tweet about sightings of the Big G and Company.

IT’S GODZILLA! Run! (here we go again)
Aug 18, 2004 12:33pm

Go, go Gotengo!
Aug 18, 2004 1:10pm

How do you like that, weirdo?
June 23, 1969 3:06pm

My mother’s not even the slightest bit afraid of Minya. Can u blame her?
June 23, 1969 1:40pm

June 23, 1969 12:33pm

Now there’s a big thing with 3 heads. This is obviously hopeless.
April 7, 1968 10:40am

That is one big fucking MOTH!
April 7, 1968 10:02am

Where’s that fucking Oxygen Destroyer?
Nov 8, 1967 11:23am

Nov 8, 1967 11:01am

Just ran into Steve Martin. No, the other one.
Jan 13, 1956 4:55pm

Jan 13, 1956 3:43pm

Jan 13, 1956 3:42pm

Study THIS, Dr. Yamane!
Jan 13, 1956 3:35pm

Friday, November 6, 2009

Ashes to ashes

Fringe - Season Two – “Earthling”

The Fringe Division investigates a case that has haunted Agent Broyles for four years when people turn up disintegrated into ash.

Olivia and the Bishop Boys take a back seat in this episode as a little light is shed on the usually closed Broyles (Lance Reddick). It turns out he investigated a similar series of ashen disintegrations and his single-mindedness in pursuing the case, and trying to protect the public, directly lead to his divorce. Another side of the stern Broyles is shown in the teaser as he is having lunch at a restaurant when a little boy a couple tables over starts “mirroring” Broyles’ every movement and gesture. Instead of dismissing the kid, Broyles, who is a father, starts playing with him. But of course Fringe business quickly breaks up the fun.

The “fringe monster” this week appears to be a big nod to the DC Comics’ character Negative Man, a member of the misfit superhero team the Doom Patrol. After pilot Larry Trainor is exposed to a radiation field high up in the atmosphere while testing a new jet, he is able to project from his body a shadow-like “negative energy” being with superpowers. He takes the name Negative Man. In this episode of Fringe, a Russian cosmonaut is exposed to some unknown element or substance while in space that bonds with him. It is able to project from the cosmonaut’s as a shadow-like being that must drain the natural radiation that human bodies possess. It’s the world’s first radiation vampire. Another slight parallel or nod was to The X-Files first season episode “Space” where an astronaut brings “something” back with him that kills others and torments him (if I remember correctly, they showed the “something” as a kind of project from the astronaut).

“Earthling” wasn’t a home run. I liked the comic’s connection, but that’s not enough to recommend this one show. I hate to say it but Broyles is not that interesting a character to anchor an episode. He’s great in a supporting role, often going to bat for Olivia and the Fringe team when they go too far (as Olivia points out to him). I think this episode wasn’t personal enough. Perhaps if they included flashbacks to Broyles and his wife and kids four years prior, showing his life then, it would have provided some contrast and truly focus on what he had lost.

Walter didn’t really have any fun one-liners or observations as in previous episodes. Here he had a puzzle to solve in the form of a complex chemical equation. A good Walter moment was when he realized a way to help him solve the equation was to use some old Tinker Toys (it’s not clear if the Tinker Toys were Peter’s or Walters!).

The Name's Rider, Ghost Rider

Didja see the movie Ghost Rider starring Nicholas Cage? Not very good, was it? Very standard, dull superhero movie, more Fantastic Four than The Dark Knight.

The only good scenes were him driving the fiery ghost bike up the side of the building and when he and the Cowboy Ghost Rider were riding side by side in the desert. Other than that, it was dullsville.

But Ghost Rider made money, so naturally we're gonna have our skulls set on fire a second time, and according to this article from, screenwriter David S. Goyer said GR will seem more like JB (James Bond) in part deux. Specifically Goyer sites Casino Royale, the movie that not only introduced a new actor into the 007 tuxedo, but reined in the jokes and silliness and bald, world-conquering cat-stroking madmen for a much more realistic, serious tone. Goyer says GR2 will have a "more realistic" tone.

Goyer goes on to say it's not really a reboot, but if you know nothing about Ghost Rider you can still follow the character. Come on, it's a reboot.

Here's a question: why didn't you just do Ghost Rider right THE FIRST TIME? Ghost Rider was created by Marvel Comics in the 1970s to capitalize on the Evel Knievel motorcycle craze and the success of horror movies like The Omen and The Exorcist at the box office. What part of any of that translates into "let's do a slick, loud movie version of this character?"

The look of Ghost Rider was like any slick overshot music video. I think it should have had a raw, visual look and feel more like Saving Private Ryan; the colors are bleached out so it's almost black and white. After all, Johnny Blaze isn't the happiest of characters - the devil is literally messing with this dude on a constant basis. And with a much more gritty, subdued visual style, when Blaze becomes the blazing Ghost Rider that would really POP on-screen.

For goodness sakes, get some interesting actors to play cool villains. Peter Fonda and Wes Bentley made NO impression as the villains in the movie. Yes, Fonda is famous for THE motorcycle movie Easy Rider, but Ghost Rider is NOT that type of movie, so that stunt casting did nothing for the movie in the end. Quentin Tarantino cast unknown actor Christoph Waltz as the villainous Col. Landa in the recent Inglourious Basterds. Now everyone is talking Oscar nomination for Waltz. The right actor for the right role will always help your movie more than stunt casting or using a "name" actor (see Martin Sheen in Spawn). Everyone was talking about the Col. Landa character this summer. When Ghost Rider was released NO ONE was talking about Fonda's Mephistopheles character.

And keep the story simple, like the Spider-Man movies do (well, Spidey 1 and 2). Ask someone to explain the plot of Spidey 2 and I'll bet they can, but try to explain Ghost Rider's story and it's a mess, with the Contract of San Venganza, Blaze's deal with Mephistopheles, Blackheart's plot to overthrow his father, the trio of demons called the Hidden, blah, blah, blah. Keep it simple!

Now it's time for a vodka martini, flaming not stirred.

Thursday, November 5, 2009

A Real Nightmare

Say you're re-launching a highly successful, long-running horror franchise - one that has spawned an iconic figure known around the world.

This re-launch is even more gritty, more realistic than the surreal original.

So you seek to promote this new A Nightmare on Elm Street - which the studio hopes will be the first of many new movies - with... cutesy wootsey wittle toys?

The Freddy Krueger plastic doll with cloth clothes looks like Chucky's older brother, while the vinyl Mezco toy, with the round "elephant" feet, merely looks stupid. The other thing to consider is that the Freddy character is a child molester. No getting around that. While these toys may be aimed at adults, I bet more than a few will end up in kids' hands.

What's next, will someone put out a "Famous Child Killers" line of action figures (I'd hate to think of the accessories)? When money and good taste butt heads, money always seems to win out.

Let's hope the movie's better than the toy tie-ins.

Wednesday, November 4, 2009

Waxy build-up

William Shatner's Admiral James T. Kirk from the Star Trek movies is immortalized in wax at Madame Tussaud's Hollywood, per this report from

I think the facial likeness is pretty good for Shatner circa 1982 for The Wrath of Khan, but his hair looks more like Matthew McConaughey's 'do, something Shatner's ego would no doubt approve. Alright, alright, alright.

But who the hell designed the bridge "diorama" behind the figure? Aside from the turbo-lift doors which look like they're from TWOK, the rest of the stuff, especially the displays, look like a strange AMALGAMATION of the movies' designs. All topped off by the hot blue-white lights from J.J. Abrams' summer trek. Can you say, "bastardization?"

Oh, well, at least it's much than the old Movieland Wax Museum version, where Kirk (and the bridge crew) just looked very grumpy.

Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Coming Soon - Paranormal Activity 2: We Want Your Money!

According to this post on The Hollywood Reporter, brought up on Ain't It Cool News, Paramount is seriously considering a sequel to Paranormal Activity.

Even though this shouldn't be a huge surprise, it still sucks. It's like believing your spouse is slutting around on you then suddenly having proof of said slut-age. You just feel worse for having it confirmed.

This sheer naked greed is what brought about the collapse of the U.S. economy, people. The article states that Paramount parent corp CEO Philippe Dauman said, "the movie has been one of those surprise hits that comes along only rarely," admits that a sequel wouldn't have the same element of surprise as the original.

"Our team will come up with the right creative and marketing approach to make sure that we benefit from a sequel," Dauman said.

Two words, Mr. Dauman. Bull. Shit.

First of all Paranormal Activity was not the product of the Hollywood sytem and its studio-think. It was one individual in charge: its writer/director. When it was presented to Hollywood after receiving great responses at film festivals, Hollywood's first reaction was to buy it to remake it. How typical. (In a parallel universe that was exactly what was done and that film was slickly remade for $25 million, directed by some young dude who made commercials and music videos, starred some hard bodies from hot shows on The CW and Fox, and made a grand total of $7.2 million on over 2,500 screens. It was beat out by a Jim Belushi movie, Wild Hogs 3: Hog Wild. The parallel universe marketing team, when called to the carpet on the failure of the movie stated, "we did the same flashy, strobe-y, editing by Cuisinart campaign we always do for these stupid horror movies." (On Earth Prime here, the original movie was released to theaters and has grossed to-date more that $85 million.))

From what I've read it seems the studio suits had to be hit over the fucking head SEVERAL TIMES to see the worth in this movie. I have to imagine that most of the people involved HAD NEVER EVEN SEEN THE MOVIE. After viewing one online trailer early last year for Paranormal Activity I was immediately hooked on this (and so were a ton of other people). "WHEN IS THIS COMING OUT" I wondered? Here's the problem with the studios: too many memos and lunches and yackity yack. Watch the damn movies. If you're thinking of remaking something into a big budget movie, or spending millions of dollars on advertising you need to watch the films first. The powers that be obviously don't trust the word of their many layers of underlings if they have to be told over and over and over that something they watched is really good.

So get ready for Paranormal Activity 2. Or PA2 as the marketing peeps will no doubt push it. That's the scariest thing I've heard in a long while.

Monday, November 2, 2009

Counterfeit Crater

A meteorite crate in Latvia is a phony, according to this AP news item on Yahoo News.

At 27 feet wide and 9 feet deep, that's a buttload of effort to try and pull the wool over the eyes of Latvian scientists (motto: "We're LATVIA. We have nothing to do with Latveria, the home of Dr. Doom."). The "crater" was even smoking when lead science guy Uldis Nulle (which SOUNDS like the name of a Fantastic Four villian!) showed up on scene, tricorder and beakers in hand.

"It's artificial, dug by shovel," said Girts Stinkulis, a geologist at the University of Latvia. "Stinkulis" sounds like the name of an Avengers villain, maybe someone manipulated by Ultron into attacking Marvel's premiere super-team in an attempt to soften them up before Ultron shows up on the scene to lay some smack down.

I'd like to apologize to all the hardworking Latvian scientists here and elsewhere for all the wisecracks. Latvia is a great country and really doesn't make the news headlines as often as other countries.

I blame Dr. Doom for that.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Is "Yub nub" Ewokese for "pour me another scotch?"

As a capper on the weekend's Halloween festivities, have you seen the Today Show footage with the allegedly drunk Ewoks?

Yub yub, indeed.

Man, George Lucas is gonna have a fit. Who let the drunk, punk-ass midgets (sorry Little People) wear those costumes? That fool will soon find himself fired (or force choked).

Wicket, the adorable Ewok kid from Return of the Jedi would be rolling around in his grave after he saw this--if he were dead, and wasn't walking around in that stupid Leprechaun movie costume.

ps: Al Roker. You're a black man and you dress up as Han Solo - admittedly the coolest pirate in the galaxy until Johnny Depp does Pirates of the Caribbean XXIII: Avast Ye Scurvy Space Pirates, but he's a white dude. WHAT ABOUT LANDO CALRISSIAN, THE COOLEST BLACK SPACE PIRATE IN THE GALAXY? The Star Wars Saga has so little people of color and you just turn a blind eye on your macrobinoculars to Lando, the administrator of Cloud City (Lando's motto: "Colt 45 in every spaceport").

Oh, well, Al - at least you didn't dress up as Lobot.

This Flashforward was definitely a trick

FlashForward - "Scary Monsters and Super Creeps"

What the heck just happened? That huge sucking sound was this episode talking all the air out of the room (and viewers' lungs).

Here's the episode description on Hulu: "Mark, Demetri and Wedeck try to connect Janis' attack with a separate attack made on them; Olivia confronts Mark about his experience; Demetri and Gough track down a clue from Mark's; Dylan goes missing from the hospital."

This felt like a whole lotta nothing. Because it was.

First of all, the first line of that description is wrong or overstated. Demetri (John Cho), with Gough (Lee Thompson Young) riding shotgun, is the one who looks into Janis' attack. Wedeck (Courtney B. Vance) is babysitting Janis (Christine Woods) at the hospital, so he's not turning over any stones at the moment.

Mark (Joseph Fiennes) takes his daughter Charlie (Lennon Wynn) out trick or treating and gets into a big footchase with some black-garbed guys who seem to be wearing the same masks as his assailants in Mark's flash. Of course the guy Mark tackles is just some kid out egging houses.

Demetri and Gough do end up finding another piece of Mark's Mosaic board (Blue Hand) but what it means - and who are all the dead bodies - isn't clear.

Mark at last comes clean with Olivia (Sonya Walger) about him drinking in his flashforward. And Lloyd Simcoe (Jack Davenport) finally realizes why Olivia has been so abrupt with him.

The big teasing moment in last week's preview of this episode involved Dominic Monaghan's Simon asking someone if they want to know what caused the flashforward. Turns out that it was bullstuff (OF COURSE IT WAS). He was trying to pick up a girl in a bar. The only concrete piece of info from the entire episode is that Simon is some sort of physics genius (he had her do a web search on that subject, and he pops up in a risque photo, probably from Playphysicist magazine).

This episode didn't pack any "oomph." There was no forward momentum, just a lot of spinning wheels and keeping balls in the air (it felt like Season Two and most of Season Three of Lost, before they set an end date), and a new clue added to the pile that as this point really means nothing to the audience. Did they spend too much money on action or visual effects in previous episodes and just decided to do a show about the personal dilemmas of the characters? If I want that I can always watch Brothers & Sisters, folks.

One character truly seems to be ripe for cutting: Dr. Varley (Zachary Knighton). He was going to commit suicide just before the flash happened, and now he's alive and has a sunny disposition. His only function appears to be to question and debate his superior, Dr. Benford, a lot. His character has no real stakes in anything or anyone.

To paraphrase and contradict Talking Heads: Let's start making sense. And soon, please.

Space Cowboys and Indians

Star Trek (TOS) - "The Paradise Syndrome"

Capt. Kirk gets his marbles scrambled (electricity is BAD kids!) and becomes "Kirok," the god of a tribe of space Indians at the Obelisk Village Casino & Resort (motto: "Loosest slots in the solar system."). Meanwhile, Roland Emmerich has thrown a giant asteroid at the Indian's planet.

Wait, "space Indians?" Well, at least they aren't as bad as the "space hippies" from "Way to Eden." So, one bullet dodged. I think they just walked across the lot and borrowed some Indian costumes from Bonanza for a week.

This is a good episode for Spock and McCoy to lock horns over first abandoning Jim to the planet, then Spock's treatment of the ship/crew and not lastly how hard Spock is on himself. Maybe they'll appear on Dr. Phil one day to work out their differences.

Kirk, of course, gets to hook up with Miramanee, the hottest Indian maiden, played by Sabrina Scarf, which ticks off the medicine man Salish, played by Rudy Solari, who reminds me of nothing so much as Paul Lynde on steroids, minus the smirking laughter. But even a hott Space Native American doesn't deter Jim Kirk from kicking the asteroid's, well, ass.

And the crew built a really cool obelisk/meteor deflector on location.

Remember: always bet on black, and always bet on Jim Kirk!

Star Trek is Copyright 2009 and a Registered Trademark of CBS Studios, Inc. No infringement of those rights is implied. Screencaps from