Friday, July 23, 2010

friday fun times

no youtube'y goodness today, folks. but i assume you've all heard of a little thing called the san diego comic-con? yeah, thought you had.

and i don't really want to get into the details but suffice it to say that some folks with a fucking nasty turn of mind decided for reasons best known to themselves to protest the good ol' sdcc.

go forth and enjoy some heartwarming geeky responses here and here. also here. and over here.

:)

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

just eat them already!

so this past weekend it was fucking hot in boston. again. and what do we do when it's hot? well, i rewatch jaws. not obsessively, mind you, about once or twice every summer season but still. it has to be done and i'm the woman to do it.

but it occurred to me that i'd never seen any of the jaws sequels -- quite a few, weren't there? and when i was on netflix looking for something else -- withnail & i, if you must know, which my acupuncturist informed me was my homework after he was done being appalled that i hadn't seen it yet! but he hadn't seen little britain, so i figure it's all equal -- what d'you think but netflix had put up all the jaws sequels in wonderful glorious pixellated starz-ness. (am i the only one who gets wicked pixellation on the starz movies?)

when it topped 90 before noon on saturday, it seemed as though those sequels were just callin' my name.


and what i'm really interested in here is the fact that the second one -- poetically called jaws 2 -- is such crap and i say this as a dedicated fan of the bad movie: i buy them; i rent them; i seek them out -- i'm a particular fan of the bad '50s and early '60s sci-fi movie -- particularly japanese or british. true incomprehensibility isn't fun -- i'm not after something that's gnomic in its badness. i'm more after the gamera/the day of the triffids/journey to the center of the earth (the one with james mason) badness. i'll take worse -- i do own doom, after all! -- but i love bad creature effects, guys in rubber suits, obvious model shots, awkward acting, and plots that take random turns in the last 5 minutes because the screenwriters just figured out what had to happen and had no time to rewrite!

and jaws 2 was worse than all of that put in one movie, blended, frothed to a tasty goodness, and mixed with cesar romero, john agar, hugh beaumont, and a random little japanese boy.

it was slow; it was boring; it was practically a sleeping pill in movie form. about the only good thing you could say about it was that roy scheider tried (and he tried well) and john williams clearly didn't waste too much time on the soundtrack.

part of the reason for my puzzlement here is that jaws 2 isn't so much an homage to spielberg's original film as it is a total hash-job of it. the story's the same -- great white cruises into waters off amity island; starts chowing down on holiday-goers; sheriff brody struggles to convince commercially minded city council; gets in trouble; shark goes ballistic in large public way; everyone goes, "oh, brody! we're so sorry! save our sorry asses!"; and he does. tah-dah -- end of story.

but whereas jaws has you munching your fingernails when you run out of popcorn, this one nearly put me to sleep. there was no character development; the plot was okay but nothing to write home about and barely advanced from minute 1 to minute 119; and the tension? where was it? you have a giant. killer. man-eater. white. shark. and i'm bored, movie! wtf! i spent the last 20 minutes of the movie desperately hoping that the shark would scoff the terribly annoying teenagers and save the human race from their potential contribution to the gene pool.

jaws 2 seems to ricochet back and forth between a slavish adherence to the first movie and a deeply 1950s sensibibility that them darn teens what with their tight pants and their rock n' roll music and their kissing with tongues must be punished. and what better way to punish them than by stranding them in mid-ocean with a homicidal shark circling in? oh, and lets just pander to pretty much every bad horror movie chick stereotype while we're at it, shall we? lorraine gary -- who played mrs. brody with some guts, intelligence, and sensibility in the first movie -- is reduced to running around after her men in a way i really hope the actress was ashamed of; and as for the interchangeable teenage girls? the first sign of stress and they become either a) hysterical (what was with that girl who wouldn't shut up with the screaming?); b) shock-ridden (thanks for helping me while the shark was nibbling on my toes, hun! really -- you don't need to try and save me or anything!); c) or completely silent (really, the best option of the three). it's pathetic.

it's just a bad sequel is what i'm saying. bad bad bad. really really awful. all the sins which a bad action movie can commit, this one does, being absolutely mindnumbingly dull right from the get-go. and the worst thing about it is how hard it tries to piggyback on the original, down to ripping scenes -- the long, loving shots of beach-goers, anyone? yeah, but spielberg didn't use them in the original to make fun of the overweight bathers! -- straight from the first movie. if you're going to be bad, at least have the courage to be bad in an original way; don't haul someone else down with you!

i tried to find scenes here to compare to give you a sense of the crap that is committed on screen here. i managed to find a perfectly reasonable rip of the closing scene of jaws -- just as impressive to watch if you haven't seen the movie -- but all i could find from jaws 2 was a video someone clearly made off their tv on their phone. and after some deliberation, i decided that was just fine.



but sadly, believe it or not, that's all i could find for the ending of the original movie, too! also -- wtf? i'm really going to have to up my technical competence one of these days so i can rip my own damn scenes; youtube is letting me down once too often!

i can say that, in comparison to this two hours of boring pain, jaws 3 seemed quite charming. :)

Monday, July 19, 2010

short thought: "daybreakers"

i think the real short thought on this movie is: it could have been worse.

either that, or the bit from an mst3k host sketch where the bots and mike think they've gone back to earth and mike says, "yay! we can see ethan hawke movies again!" and he and the bots cheer wildly for several seconds before mike goes, "wait -- that's not a good thing. oh...no..."

but that's a bit unfair -- hawke is actually pretty good in this.



rough outline of plot (spoiler-free): vampires rule the world. humans are a much-hunted endangered species. when they're found, they're either eaten on the spot or turned over to a giant corporate conglomerate which milks them for blood. the blood is then packaged and sold in a variety of ways to the vampire population. the obvious problem here: the humans are running out and the vampires never die. this is an issue, particularly when these vampires, when denied human blood at regular intervals, go truly peculiar: full-on nosferatu, clinging to the ceiling, hissing at everyone, anti-social to the nth degree peculiar (see below -- not exactly sparkly, is he?)


enter ethan hawke as a vampire scientist, trying to find a blood substitute. problem is, the only substitute he has developed so far has -- well, lets just say, serious side-effects. head-explody kind of side-effects. (i don't know why, but i found the scene where hawke and his associates test the substitute on the soldier volunteer hilarious. i don't know what this says about me.)

so this is a pretty good story: we have a population under threat. we have a bad guy (sam neill as evil corporate magnate with a great suit) and we have a good guy.

then the story started to wander. our evil corporate magnate has a daughter who refused to turn vampire and ran to the renegade human population. he wants her back and turned. okay, well, that's--- and then we have renegade humans who get in touch with ethan hawke (as our token "nice" vampire) and try to interest him in developing a cure for vampirism. and then we have willem dafoe (enjoying chewing on passing scenery) who claims to have been a vampire and have been cured by -- getting into a high-speed car wreck in his '57 chevy, going through the windshield, and lighting on fire.

huh what now?

so -- the cure for vampirism is auto crashes? and lighter fluid?

ah, what the hell. the whole thing turns out kinda cool with a huge bloodbath -- there's a lot of good suits -- and some awesome crossbows. focus on that and you'll do just fine. don't think too hard about all the opportunities daybreakers missed to be much more awesome.

Friday, July 9, 2010

friday fun times

okay, so the following isn't work-friendly, it is definitely nsfw, and, if you have tender sensibilities -- well, i can't help you.

it is very funny and it is a totally worthwhile nearly 10 minutes of your time.

so, please, go forth and enjoy my birthday with...

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

salt and fire

hey, look, guys! i finally finished a season of something! i thought the fireworks last night were in celebration of that fact, really -- not the really irritating ones at 2 a.m., but the nicer ones earlier in the evening. i definitely think that something should mark the accomplishment of finishing the first season of supernatural.

yeah, i know; i'm only about 6 years behind the curve here but at least part of that time? i was living with no cable and no real way of knowing such a show existed. i would have walked over broken glass to get cable had it been a new doctor who series -- and, in fact, went to great lengths to find internet rips of the first christopher eccleston episodes via canada -- but no-one told me about supernatural.

i actually rather walked into it through sheer chance; the first season boxed set was on sale at best buy for something like $12. and i looked at it, remembered part of an episode i had seen recently where the boys walked into a convention of themselves, and thought, 'what the hell.' so far, i have not been disappointed.

in fact, certain episodes -- like "asylum," "faith," and "nightmare" -- have raised the bar in terms of what i expect. if you can do that, guys, lets have less messing about with stuff like "skin" or "the benders" -- both fun, don't get me wrong (and it's always a delight to see dr. julia from earth 2 again), but nothing special and both really derivative of episodes from other series: "squeeze" from the x-files in the case of "skin" and "countrycide" from torchwood in the case of "the benders" as well as things like the hills have eyes and so on and so forth.

i always hope for more out of season finales than i usually get. the exceptions to this tend to be the new seasons of doctor who ("journey's end," anyone?), torchwood, and buffy. carnivale kind of doesn't make the list because, lets face it, it's that weird all the damn time and there are only 2 seasons. i have a great fondness for al swearengen's monolog at the end of season 1 of deadwood, but i haven't found time or focus yet to watch the next season, so i can't comment.

back to the original topic in hand: so, yes, i like the end of season 1. it was great to finally get some answers out of john winchester even if they were unsatisfactory and partial. i'm interested to see what happens with the colt if only because i know it's important in later seasons and the idea of a side-arm made especially for a "hunter" on a horse by colt himself just seems like such an obvious nod to roland in the dark tower series that it makes me happy. it probably has nothing to do with it and we're either setting up for a plot element that goes nowhere or a flashback to some winchester ancestor, but it makes me happy anyway.

and there was some good character development in the last few episodes. it was nice to see dean finally admit how much he depends on his brother and father; how little else he feels he has outside of them. and equally pleasant to see sam stop bitching about his father in rather vague ways and actually take a shot at standing up to him squarely.

and since i vaguely remember some of the twitching online in the genre blogs i read around the end of season 1 and the kind of "well, we know it got renewed so they really can't all be dead---right?" feeling that was wandering around, i'm intrigued to see what happens next. the good bit is that season 2 was on sale the next week for about the same amount, so i don't have to indulge in any delayed gratification. i can get my gratification at about -- oh, 5 this afternoon. :)

Monday, July 5, 2010

wouldn't you read a newspaper called "after the end times"?

so i'm going to sit here and partially ignore/partially watch jaws -- one of the perfect summer-time movies -- and tell you about feed which is neither a movie nor particularly related to summer-time but which is pretty damn awesome.


so, feed is the first novel -- i think; her bio page at miragrant.com was a little sketchy on this -- by mira grant, the first in the (now inevitable) trilogy. on the one hand, i'm quite pleased about this because there are characters i really liked who i now get to look forward to seeing again. on the other hand -- god, another trilogy? really? another one? and it would have been a good, solid, scary stand-alone. *sigh* oh, well. no-one asked me, i suppose.

anyway, short spoiler-free plot summary: the zombie rising takes place in 2014 (start your countdown now, i guess) due to the interaction in the real world of two lab experiment viruses that weren't ever really meant to interact. they do; bad shit happens; suddenly great-aunt jane is chewing on your ankle. the risen are highly infectious through bodily fluid; new zombies are even charming enough to seek simply to infect rather than to eat which is just so thoughtful and considerate of them. but feed takes place some decades after the rising, focussing on a team of young bloggers, georgia, shaun, and buffy, who are chosen to cover the presidential campaign of senator peter ryman.

daily -- or even hourly -- blood tests are the new norm; your car will test you before you can get in; your house will test you before you can get in; you get the idea. and blogging has become the new form of news in the post-rising world because in 2014, the regular news outlets pretty much just sat back and had kittens rather than doing anything useful. the bloggers, on the other hand, passed on rumor, fact, video, audio, anything that would help anyone survive -- and, given the nature of the blogging community, a lot of them were genre geeks. george romero, by the way, is now an international hero. our narrator, georgia, is named after him; the most popular names for female children born in her year were all female derivatives of george and barbara. :) just how awesome is that?

the fun tweak here is that everyone is infected. due to the spread of one of the two viruses (virii?), everyone has a dose of zombification just waiting to become activated. a bad day at the office? your dose of virus might flip on and really kill your boss. our narrator, georgia, for example, has an inert form of the virus affecting her eyes: she can't go out into what we would consider normal light without heavy-duty sunglasses. her pupils are permanently dilated.

so, yeah, there are some nifty new twists on the basic "er-argh" plot here. grant plays with them well: there are consequences beyond the daily need to deal with possible incursions by the living dead. the virus doesn't just affect humans, for example; any animal over 40 pounds can potentially be a carrier or "amplify" into undead form just as a human can. there are, then, legislative efforts to ban large animals from being kept in urban or near-urban areas; extremists want to kill all large land mammals; other extremists want everyone to go back to living on their own (heavily armed) family farms. grant has thought out her world really well; it works; it's believable. there are people whe have flipped out and live like survivalists -- even if they live in a city; they'll shoot if you simply get too close. there are other people who refuse to acknowledge danger; they tend to have a short life expectancy.

georgia and her brother, shaun, and their tech-geek teammate, buffy, are chosen to follow the campaign of senator ryman as he runs for president. as you can probably imagine, this involves ever increasing amounts of unpleasant matter hitting spinning blades.

and i won't spoiler any of the really good bits for you but suffice it to say that there are at least two character deaths that hit like a gut punch. grant has written characters you care about; they aren't just ciphers moving through a horrific world for your amusement (and isn't that a weird sentence to write?). instead, they're believable people; betrayal hurts because, hey, that was a cool person and how could they do that? the second and last major character death is a killer. i knew it was going to happen -- really, it was inevitable from about 3/4 of the way into the book -- but ouch.

i have to say, i was a little disappointed in the actual end. there's a switch in narrative voice which -- well, i don't really like it when anyone does that. kage baker -- whom i otherwise adore -- does it in garden of iden and it's truly annoying. in this case, it's less annoying but -- it's sad and wrong for a whole variety of reasons to say nothing of the fact that the new voice who finishes out the book isn't as accomplished or as observant as georgia.

despite that, this is fun, clever, well-put-together stuff. good times all around.

Friday, July 2, 2010