Monday, September 30, 2013

The Black Hole (1979)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This Post spoils movie The Black Hole (1979).

The Black Hole raises one big question. How much success of Star Wars changed it? I mean that during first hour it is serious science fiction movie. Then there is about 20 minutes of Star Wars and last ten minutes are a trip from science fiction to strange dream. That 20 minutes of Star Wars could have been easily replaced by same science fiction that first hour was.

Security robots were there only to enable 20 minutes of Star Wars. Movie would have been better without them. There was no point of having them on board unless robots were on control. There was little hint of this, but right after hinting it, we saw that wasn't the case, since Reinhardt called all the shots. Because robots weren't in control, there was no point of having them, because Reinhardt was on scientific mission.

USS Cygnus was long-lost ship that was sent to find habitable planets. Smaller ship Palomino finds it next to black hole. Crew of Palomino finds only Reinhardt and robots onboard of Cygnus. Reinhardt tells that rest of the crew had left Cygnus earlier. He had stayed onboard and made scientific break troughs. He is about to make his next big experiment. Reinhardt is mad scientist, who is ready to make anything for knowledge. Later we learn how far he has gone and how far he is ready to go. Palomino crew tries to find out what has happened. This takes the first hour. First hour is quite slow having big and beautiful models and sets.

Then crew finds out what Reinhardt has done and what he is about to do. Reinhardt has killed all the Cygnus crew and turned them into robots. I don't understand reason for this, unless they didn't want to follow him. Cygnus could have sustained them. Turning them to robots didn't make sense either. Movie didn't tell reasons why he needed human robots. He had security robots, that were more emotional than human robots. We learn that he wants to go to black hole and beyond. When his plans are revealed, Reinhardt want to kill the crew of Palomino or turn them into robots. This is where Star Wars part starts. Star Wars part is not that bad, but movie's mood changes during this time. I would have liked this part to be done without fighting. It didn't suit the beginning of the movie or the end of the movie.

During Star Wars part Reinhardt flies Cygnus into black hole. Ship is hit by meteors and starts breaking. There is no point why Cygnus needs to be going to black hole. Reinhardt's plan is to fly to black hole with small probe. Why destroy Cygnus, if he flies to black hole with probe? Reinhardt can't make it to probe, but crew of Palomino makes and they fly to black hole. Then movie totally loses it. Movie turns into strange dream until probe enters beyond black hole. What makes it even worse, another scifi movie have redone this strange dream and made it main plot point. Here it was just strange few minutes. Without those few minutes that other movie would had another main plot point and been much better movie.

The Black Hole has a reputation of being Star Wars rip-off. It has that 20 minutes, but movie is much more than that. First hour is actually good science fiction. Movie looks and sounds good. Story is interesting. But then it starts to go down hill. Destruction of Cygnus looks good, but that fighting was unnecessary. First hour makes this movie worth watching. Movie was better than I expected. It deserves cult movie status it has. It could have had more philosophical study of limits of how far scientists can go in their search for knowledge. 20 minutes of Star Wars could have been replaced by that.

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Doctor Who - An Unearthly Child (1963)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This Post spoils Doctor Who episode An Unearthly Child (1963).

Susan Foreman in fifteen years old girl, who is at different level than other students. But sometimes she forgets everyday things. Two teachers want to figure out why she is like she is. They want to meet her grandfather with whom she lives. But she tells that grandfather doesn't want to meet anyone. They follow her to junkyard where she disappears. When teachers try to find her, strange old man comes to junkyard.

Old man wants to make teachers leave junkyard. Suddenly close by police box opens and teachers hear Susan's voice inside. They rush inside before old man can stop them. Police box is larger on inside and it appears to be some kind of spaceship. Strange old man appears to be Grandfather. Susan and Grandfather tell teachers, that police box is called Tardis and they are aliens cut away from their own world. Then Susan and Grandfather start to argue what they should do with teachers. Susan want to release them and she wants to stay with them, but Grandfather says they can't be released, because they would reveal Grandfather and Susan.

Grandfather starts Tardis and they start their first adventure. An Uneatrhly Child dvd contains four episodes. If you check Wikipedia entry of An Unearthly Child, it also contains four episode. I won't go deeper into those other episodes. In those episodes our heroes meet cavemen during ice age. To me that story is different than An Unearthly Child.

Back to first episode. This episode established many things in Doctor Who lore. Grandfather is the Doctor. Susan and teachers became his first companions. Susan being Doctor's granddaughter made more sense when episode was aired first time than it makes now. By that time regeneration was not established. it is strange that member regenerating species had grandchild when he hasn't regenerated. This comes stranger when we know that Doctor can regenerate to any age. During classic doctors regeneration changed from time to time. It was invented first time because William Hartnell could not continue as Doctor.

When Doctor tells teachers he and Susan are cut away from their world, it probably means, that Tardis is so broken, that they can't set time or place where Tardis enters. Sometimes Doctor can go where he wants and sometimes that is not the case. It depends on story. First episode didn't explain reason, why they were cut away, but that could be likely explanation.

After Doctor and companions survived ice age, they met their first alien race the Daleks. That story is so good one, but I planned to do another Dalek story next time.

Monday, September 23, 2013

Hotel Transylvania (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This Post spoils movie Hotel Transylvania (2012).

This was kind of request. Movie has waited for months, because I forgot it and when I remembered it, I expected it to be something I can't write long post about it. Now I finally watched it. It is not bad movie but not great either. It is movie that well oiled movie factory has made.

We have seen basic premise of monsters fearing humans few times before. Also old-time monsters together. This time Dracula has daughter Mavis, he wants to save from humans. He has Hotel, where monsters come to be away from humans. Just before Mavis' 118. birthday one human named Johnny founds the hotel. Dracula want to get rid of Johnny before anyone realizes he is human. How ever Johnny and Mavis fall in love. During the movie Dracula start to like Johnny himself. Monsters also start to like Johnny.

Nitpicking. During the scene where Johnny is revealed to be human, bass guitar string breaks. The string that breaks is thickest string in bass. Bass strings never break. Guitar strings break and even then the thinnest strings are the ones that break. Not the thickest. That ate credibility of movie that had vampires and all kinds of monsters in it.  That is also the moment movie start to make less sense. When monsters learn that Johnny is human, they want to leave the hotel. To where? Somewhere there is much more humans? Hotel was their safe haven and there are less humans even when one managed to get there. They calm down when Dracula says maybe all humans are not bad. Why they listen him in this issue, when they have more experience on humans than Dracula, who have stayed away from humans for years.

When they go after Johnny, there is a scene, where girl werewolf tells where Johnny is going by sniffing his shirt. That was stupid. I know that was joke, but until bass string breaks, there was nothing that couldn't happen in these characters worlds. In real world those things couldn't happen but they were believable. This went too far. There isn't any way that anyone could tell what happens in future by smelling the shirt.

Monster festival. They entered to monster festival and found that some people love them. They show people, that they are the real monsters and people doesn't panic. They are like they met celebrities. That is not how that would go in real world. People can dress as monsters, but that doesn't mean, that they like to meet the real monsters. If we don't stuck to this, why this wasn't used later in movie? I expected there to be party with monsters and humans. That would have grown Dracula and other monsters who feared human. But no. Accepting one human was enough for this movie.

After monster festival Dracula flies long time in direct sunlight. Smoke rises from him and he only damages his clothes. I understand what they wanted to tell, but Dracula was far too long in sunlight. If he can survive that long in sunlight why he doesn't move more in daylight? This was just stupid. Before the bass string, they followed rules of these characters and here they forget them almost completely. Then to last disgrace. Auto-tuned Dracula singing voice. Dracula told earlier that last time he singed was before his wife died, No wonder humans wanted to kill him and his family, if his singing sounded that much like auto-tune. To be honest every thing else in that song is also auto-tuned to death.

I went to ranting mode to get this longer. Movie is not that bad. It is quite good until bass string breaks and even after that there are good moments. Movie doesn't use full potential of the premise, but it looks good and have few good moments. The Twilight joke was funny. There is potential for sequel directed by Tim Burton. Dracula never turned Johnny into vampire. He ages like normal human while Mavis ages slower than humans because she is vampire.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

The Dark Knight (2008) - Revisited

SPOILER WARNING!!! This Post spoils movie The Dark Knight.

I am not that much of a Batman fan as all these Batman posts seem to show. You can thank Dan Carlin ( for this post. He said in his Common Sense podcast that americans see themselves as Superman while rest of the world sees them as Batman and The Dark Knight is best Batman movie, because it was done by non-americans. That made me think about this movie from different perspective. You could say this post is about The Dark Knight through Dan Carlin lenses. This is what The Dark Knight looks like when considering themes Dan Carlin talks about in his podcasts.

Dan Carlin is podcaster who has two podcasts, Common Sense with Dan Carlin and Dan Carlin's Hardcore HIstory. Hardcore History is better known of these two. It has long audio book like episodes. Podcast is worth checking if you like history. Other podcast Common Sense with Dan Carlin is almost weekly look into US politics. Common Sense sounds like conspiracy theorist rants at first, but when you listen more about them and know the other podcast, you see that Dan Carlin is more into something that your average conspiracy theorist nut.

I always had problem with Alfred saying that Batman caused Joker. When I changed into this point of view it made more sense. That is why I revisit The Dark Knight this time.

You can see Batman as US authorities. Lucious Fox as politicians, who give authorities more power to fight terrorism and criminals as countries, who suffer from US politics. Fox gives Batman system that can use mobile phones to spy area around them. This was given that Batman could get Lau from Hong Kong. Later Batman uses same system to spy the whole Gotham City. Every place in Gotham City. Batman had taken something that was given him to do single thing and made it much bigger and using it to do something totally different. Fox wasn't pleased about that. Doesn't it sound lot like what has happened after Snowden leaked what NSA is actually doing. Something that Carlin has talked many times. When you give authorities power to do something, they later use that power for something different that it wasn't originally intended.

Next we should think Joker as terrorist and criminals as countries who fund terrorists. Alfred said Batman hammered criminals so hard that they turned to man they didn't fully understand. This makes more sense if you think criminals as countries who can't fight against US in conventional war, but want to attack US. They turn to terrorists, who can fight unconventional ways. Terrorists can also turn against them and replace them. As has happened some extent in real world with political wings of terrorist organisations. Joker tells criminal bosses that he want to get rid of Batman. To Batman he tells that he doesn't want to kill Batman, because Batman completes him. In real world terrorist organisations get most support when there is enemy to fight against. People tend to turn against terrorist organisations when this enemy disappears. Joker may know that and that is why he needs Batman.

From this point of view ending shows how long you have to go to fight terrorism, if you want to fight them with brute force. Batman had to build spying machine that spied every citizen of Gotman City. This wasn't intended by movie makers, because they offer more power to authorities as solution for crime problem. Dan Carlin has talked how futile current war on terror is and there should be different solution for terror problem. I guess those other solutions couldn't work in this movie, because negotiating and working with criminals wouldn't have worked in movie's context. In real world it is not that black and white.

I can easily see Batman as US authorities. He has tunnel vision. He goes for his goal without thinking what effects his actions could have. He is ready to sacrifice everyone's privacy to get Joker. We have seen that US authorities could do the same. Seen this way movie shows terrorists something you can never understand. As someone who just want destruction. When in real world it is more complicated issue. They are not some men, who just want to see the world burn. They have other, more sophisticated motivations.

This point of view doesn't explain why Joker want to show people of Gotham are as rotten as he is. It also doesn't give any more light to Two-Face storyline. Two-Face becomes terrorist because he was victim of terrorist attack. Dent was himself fighting against terrorists. It is hard to believe he would see his former team mates as reason for terrorism. If he had been neutral before changing, it could have been possible. But it had required some explanation.

Dan probably meant that we non-american see USA as shadowy figure, whose methods we don't always accept, but which goals are usually good. Movie wasn't meant to be taken like this. Here I view it through events that happened after the movie was made. But doesn't that make The Dark Knight better movie. You could argue it saw thing happening before they happened. This point of view explains some aspects of the movie, but doesn't work that well on whole movie. Movie is still better seen as Batman movie, but if you want to think some themes deeper, this point of view gives you something to think about.

Monday, September 16, 2013

The Dresden Files (2007) and Charlie Jade (2005)

When I wrote Total Recall 2070 post, I was about to buy box-sets of these shows. Then I changed my mind, because I didn't want any more physical media that I watch once. How ever I think I should write something about these, because I dropped the names. This is what I remember from them and I might remember something wrong.

The Dresden Files is X-Flies inspired show about magic. I would not call it total rip-off, because it had only one character and name from X-Files. That one character is police officer Connie Murphy, who is sceptical about magic, but uses services of magic consultant Harry Dresden. She doesn't have as big role as Scully, because this is one man show. That man is outcast wizard Harry Dresden, who owns magic store. No-one seems to like him at first but his actions wins them over. Dresden have comic sidekick spirit called Bob. Bob was captured spirit, that wanted to be released. Even thought he wanted to be free, he rather was captured by Dresden that anyone else.

The Dresden Files wasn't as dark  as trailer let you believe. Show has darker themes but mainly it is about lovable scoundrel solving mysteries using magic. Most episodes followed pattern where Murphy, who didn't believe in magic, came to Dresden for magical consultation. Then Dresden solved case, but Murphy still didn't believe in magic. Main storyline told about Dresden's history and why other wizards didn't like him. Show lasted only 12 episodes. I liked it because I liked special effects, Dresden character and his sidekick Bob.

Charlie Jade was weird show. It has ambitious scifi story, visuals from cheap Blade Runner and story telling from art movies. Large corporation has managed to connect three universes. Alphaverse is Blade Runner like future world. Betaverse is our world or world like our world. I don't remember, if it was mentioned that it is our world. Gammaverse world where humans live in harmony with nature. Alphaverse uses other verses via connection. Terrorists in Gammaverse destroy connection in their verse, which cuts all connections.

Charlie Jade is thrown from Alphaverse to Betaverse, He didn't know about other verses. He tried to find out why he is in this strange world and what happened. He finds out that one man, 01 Boxer, can travel between verses. During the show he learns that talent too.

Story is quite interesting dystopian scifi story containing evil corporation and people whose lives evil corporation has destroyed. I don't remember story good enough to go into more details. To be honest show was quite hard to follow at times. Show lasted 20 episodes. It kind of has ending, but there is possibility for second season which never came. This show is worth checking. It may be hard to follow at times, but in the end it is worth it.

Thursday, September 12, 2013

Total Recall 2070 (1999)

After watching Total Recall movies I remembered that there were also tv series named Total Recall 2070. Total Recall 2070 is one of those forgotten scifi series, that were cancelled after first season. Series was closer to Blade Runner than 1990 movie. There is company called Rekall selling similar services than in movie, but series has other themes too and Rekall is not above other themes. Main theme was how androids and humans can coexist. Naming this Total Recall was mistake. This is almost nothing like that Schwarzenegger movie. There is no humor and actors compete who can be coolest and darkest character. Just like in Blade Runner.

Main character is human cop, whose partner was killed by android. His partner is android. Partner is not revealed to be android at the beginning. He is new more advanced model than other androids. During the season we learn more about his origins. If you don't know that android is android, he feels like he has mental issues. After learning he is android it makes more sense. The cop is having problems with his relationship. Police department is pressured from outside and our heroes' boss fight to let them do their jobs.

World was controlled by huge corporations. They even had their own police force to investigate crimes that related to them or was made by them. It was dystopian future, where people didn't mean that much and where there was little hope. Because huge corporations had their own police forces, our heroes had problems in their investigations when something pointed to huge corporations.

Series was film noir like scifi. It was violent and had adult themes. It was slow and dark. You could see low-budget at times, but that didn't matter, because story was interesting. There were clichés and flaws. But it had interesting themes and world. Too bad that we only got so little of them and only small hint what the main story arch could have been.

It has been a while since I watched the series. That is reason why this is so short and I don't go deeper into details. As far as I know there is no region 2 dvd release and online distribution is lacking. Which is great shame, because this was better scifi than your average scifi tv series. I recommend watching this if you have a change. I saw this on channel that was specialized on obscure scifi series. We need more channels like that. Otherwise we miss all Total Recall 2070s, Charlie Jades and Dresden Files.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Total Recall (1990)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movies Total Recall (2012) and Total Recal(1990)

There are two ways to view Total Recall movies. Either everything really happened or most of the movie happens in our hero's brain-damaged head. Both sides have good arguments for them. If I had to choose side it would be the latter. Which side you pick depends if you believe that Rekall treatment started or not. I think it started in both movies. Somehow something went wrong and Quaid started Rekall experiment at Rekall premises thinking something went wrong. After all everything happened almost as Quaid ordered. In original movie he got program named "Blue Sky of Mars", they mentioned aliens while creating the program and we can see something like alien device on Mars on screens of Rekall room. Remake didn't make that point so clear. In it solders came too fast to be in real world. Other side can argue that Quaid was primed to go to Rekall and order the program that reminded him who he was.

Then we get to another major scene in this. The scene where someone tries to talk Quaid out of dream. In original it is Rekall employee or fail safe program. In remake it is Quaid's colleague. This scene doesn't make any sense if these things are real. These persons are on villains side and villains plans are working as planned at that point. There is no point to talk Quaid out of what he is doing, because he is doing what villains want him to do. In original movie Rekall employee tells Quaid exactly what will happen if Quaid kills him. Quaid shoots him, because Quaid sees sweat on employees  face. After that everything happens as employee described. Other side can argue about sweat, but I like to know reasons why villains want to talk Quaid out of what he was doing at that points.

In remake scene is not that clear. There colleague tries to make Quaid shood Jessica Biel. Biel acts like program that doesn't know what to do in this situation. When Quaid sees tear on Biel's face he shoots the colleague. In both movies Quaid is told that something went wrong and he is in danger to be locked inside his mind if he doesn't come back. I would be unethical to sell memories, where customers family and colleagues are his enemies. That tells that something went wrong. In original movie there are two shots that hint Quaid's wife and colleague are spying on him before he went to Rekall. I don't remember remake making so sure that wife and colleague were spying on Quaid before he went to Rekall. I might have missed that because I didn't watch the movie from that point of view.

If it was just a dream, you don't have to find reasons why Michael Ironside can walk freely. He is clearly danger to everyone. Endings would be more meaningful. In both movies Quaid pauses for a moment thinking was this real or just a dream. Then he continues to live in dream. He could still come back to real world, but chooses to stay in dream.

Only good argument I can think for this to be real is that in both movies it was told, that procedure wasn't even started when Quaid became agent. Counter argument to that is that Quaid just thinks that way and what we see after he was put to machine is Rekall dream. I didn't have opinion which was the case until now. In remake it felt more like it was dream on first time. Now that I watched this from point of view it was dream,  I saw all small hints pointing it was just a dream.

Thursday, September 5, 2013

Total Recall (2012)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movies Total Recall (2012) and Total Recal(1990)

This is good example of movie that focuses getting good looking shots and forgets that story and world around it. This is remake of Total Recall (1990) which was based on Phil K Dick's short story. I think this is more based on Schwarzenegger movie than on Phil K Dick's short story. This has couple scenes from Schwarzenegger movie which didn't move the story ahead and could have been dropped. If you have seen Schwarzenegger movie this movie is spoiled for you. This follows Schwarzenegger movie that closely. I can't say which is closer to original short story because I haven't read it.

After great war only Great Brittain, some parts of France and Australia are inhabitable. That map at the beginning shows that there is something close to Great Britain. Workers come to Great Britain from Australia through the Earth. I liked Earth vs Mars setting of 1990 movie better. In this Britain has nothing to threaten and it's quite strange that Great Britain would be inhabitable is rest of the Europe or world is not. This time evil plan is to replace all Australian workers with robots, occupy Australia and send Australians to inhabitable areas. 1990 evil plan of controlling air supply in Mars made much more sense. I think I am saying that Schwarzenegger movie made more sense than this serious 2012.

I would like to hear how they justify the design of the world. In Australia everything was more or less like slum. There were small apartments almost hanging in the air. It was like they were meant to be obstacle course. I didn't see any practical reason for them to be build like that. Probably in real world they would collapse under their own weight. In Great Britain everything was build on levels. There were elevators moving cars between levels. Elevators for humans moved in vertical and horizontal directions. When movie went to elevator shafts, it looked like there is no other way to move anywhere but elevators, Web of elevator shafts was so dense that there hardly could be anything else. Car elevators didn't make any more sense. They could take only one car at the time and moved so slowly that there would be pretty long lines for them during rush hour. I don't know how that kind of system would work even on lighter traffic.

The wife. In this movie Katie Beckingsale plays the role of Michael Ironside and Sharon Stone of original movie. In original movie Michael Ironside had reason to kill Arnold. In this there is no reason why Beckinsale would want to kill Colin Farrell. She wants to kill him as soon as she learns who Colin Farrell is. She didn't know who he was when she played the wife. She tells later that he was well known person. Everyone act in the end like both Farrell and Beckinsale were high-ranking people. The why she didn't know who Farrell was before it was told to her and why she was so eager to kill him? It wasn't like he had killed her wife.

I won't point all plot holes here. It would make this post too long. I go straight to ending. In the end tunnel between Australia and Britain is destroyed. I don't know how unrepairable it became and how long it would take to prepare it. That made Australia independent and everyone was happy. If they wanted independence, why they didn't do anything for it? Why they played Britain's game. It was like Britain needed them more than They needed Britain. If reason was Britain's police forces in Australia, I think they could hold their own until tunnel is prepared. It is also hard to believe that there was only one tunnel. It was never explained why Britain and Australia stayed inhabitable. Britain wanted to invade Australia because of over population. Why not clean more room for people? They had plans to replace workers with robots. Cleaning should not be too hard for robots.

Why Hollywood puts lot of money into these movies and leave tons of mistakes that could be found on planning stage? This looked good and had potential to be much better. Without all the stupidity and references to original movie this could have been really good scifi movie. I really wanted the ending to show that all this was all just implanted memory. That would have made all stupidity of the story less stupid.

One more thing. Because Hollywood is lacking original ideas, I give one here. Please make movie which happens in this world thousands of years in future. Britain and Australia have evolved differently because tunnel was destroyed and there were no way to contact each other because pollution and lack of resources. Movie where they meet again could be interesting.

Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Another opinion of Shoot 'Em Up

I found this post after I wrote my Shoot 'Em Up post. I had to link it here because it has a point. I realized they were aiming for what that post says. But I think they didn't go far enough to that territory. After reading that post and reading my post again, I think my post gave too bad picture of the movie. It is still quite entertaining at times. I left my post as it was, because that was my  reaction right after watching the movie.

Monday, September 2, 2013

Shoot 'Em Up (2007)

SPOILER WARNING!!! This post spoils movie Shoot 'Em Up (2007).

I have to do this because I teased it on my last post. Now that I watched, I realize that there is really nothing to write about. I remembered this to be over the top action movie. It is that, but not as much as I remembered it to be.

The plot is worst I have seen a long time. It is there to tie action scenes together and give bad guys reason to kill our heroes. Plot involves baby factory for a senator and gun manufacturer, who wants to kill babies and kill senator that way. Gun manufacturer want to kill senator because senator supports gun control. Everything revolves around one baby, who was born in middle of gun fight. Mother dies during the fight and our hero Mr Smith has to figure out what to do with baby. I know that sound stupid. It would become more stupid, if I went deeper to details.

The plot is there only to set up action scenes. it wasn't suppose to make sense. We get gun fights at warehouse, at playground, at toilet, at brothel, at gun factory, at another warehouse, while our heroes are having sex, at highway, while hero jumps off the plane, at gun manufacturers house and at ice-cream parlor. Baby is born during first gun fight and is there during most of gun fights. I guess that tells where all effort was put on. Gun fights have interesting angles. For example in toilet fight Mr Smith dropped his gun in toilet seat and during the fight he tries to dry the gun enough that he can shoot with it. In other fight he kills with carrot.

Most interesting character is disgusting hitman played by Paul Giamatti. Mr Smith is too one dimensional. He rather minded his own businesses, but he has to take care of baby. He either doesn't care about anything or he gets really angry about something. It was strange to see Monica Bellucci in this kind of movie. Others are there to be killed.

I think director didn't know should this be over the top action movie or something, that should be taken seriously. I didn't like torture scene at the end. It pulled this movie into more serious territory. Before that movie was brainless action movie. Torture didn't brought any more brains. It didn't felt like rest of the movie and following fight was anti-climatic because our hero couldn't use his gun. This would have been better if they had gone further into brainless over the top action territory.