Archive for ‘Movies’

07/05/2014

Hey, I think we all forgot one Doctor!

I’m back, well sort of, from now on I’ll be posting one glorious article a week. The sheer number of new subscriptions I’ve received in the past few months, along with how healthy my reader numbers are, have shown me that I’m probably not finished with this yet; or any time soon. “But why only one article a week?” I imagine you crying out. Well I’m short of time these days. At the moment I have a novel to rewrite, a webcomic to update (hopefully more regularly), two video blogs which I am still trying to develop, as well as learn the skills I need to make them happen…oh and I am in the middle of the second worst migraine cluster of my life. Two months, and so far no let up! Go me!

Anyway, on with the show.

So last week (while huddled in a dark room while I tried to ignore how my brains felt like they had decided to leave my body through every pore in my head) I was trying to cheer myself up by rewatching the 50th anniversary episode of Doctor Who. How awesome was John Hurt as The Warrior Doctor by the way? So at the end of the episode we have that wonderful moment when all 13 Doctors, including a picturesque shot of Peter Capaldi’s eyebrows, fly to the rescue of a well and truly boned Gallifrey. It’s an amazing moment, 50 years in the making, a flawless piece of science fiction television; but something felt off to me. A question became embedded in my mind.

Shouldn’t there be 14 of them?

Hartnell…check.

Troughton…check.

Pertwee…check.

Baker…double check.

Davison…check.

Baker 2…unfortunately check.

McCoy…delightfully check.

McGann…meh-check.

Eccleston…ears and all-check.

Tenant…check.

Smith…yup there he is.

Oh and here’s William Hurt.

And hey look at those eyebrows controlling Mr. Capaldi.

So yeah 13…Where’s Peter Cushing?!

“What?!” I imagine you crying in Karen Gillian’s velvety voice.

You see in 1965 and again in 1966 Peter Cushing played The Doctor in a pair of full length feature films. I remember these two films more clearly from my childhood than anything else “Who”. So clearly in fact that when I would finally see the television version of the Doctor Cushing was playing I would find myself rather put off at  first. But only at first.

Cushing was recreating the part played by William Hartnell. The older, somewhat bumbling, rambling, wise, but often foolish first Doctor. The first of the two movies was in fact a direct retelling of the very first Dalek adventure. And to my eyes it was a very good retelling. I can, and have, watched both versions back to back, and despite the differences between the two versions find myself equally satisfied by both.

The second movie was Daleks – Invasion Earth 2150AD. This one was based loosely on the 10th Who adventure “The Dalek Invasion of Earth.”

Visually they’re pretty ordinary science fiction movies of the 60’s. The special effects are…not all that special. The music is okay. The acting, with the exception of Cushing himself, is passable. But the story’s make up for all that by the simple fact that they are genuinely interesting. In other words it’s classic Doctor Who through, and through.

And yet, these movies are largely ignored by Who fans.

Well I’m a Who fan. Sylvester McCoy is my Doctor. Ace is my companion. I was there when he broke the curse of Fenric, when he recovered the Silver Nemesis. I saw as she was carefully moulded in to something more than merely another human companion; a future Time Lord? The first Human Time Lord? We’ll never know, their stories were cut off mid-stream, before they could become a cultural touchstone like Tom Baker and Elisabeth Sladen.

That’s how I see those two Cushing movies. An attempt to create a Doctor for the big screen, a companion piece to the television series. An alternative universe of adventures. A failed great experiment. But does that mean that his Who should be ignored, then forgotten?

Fuck No!

Cushing, to my eyes at least, sparkled as The Doctor. Different, but still equal to the great William Hartnell. A Doctor equal to all those who followed, more than an equal to Colin Baker…seriously does anyone like his version?

So here I am, left wondering, if the Cushing version had cracked America would we have a vast sea of Who movies to rival Bond, or Godzilla?

What if he has been so taken with the character to have supplanted Troughton? Would we ever have had the whistle playing jester version?

Is there any way that the movies can be seen as canon? Another universe, like Y-Space? Or Roses alternative happy ever after Earth?

Regardless the Who fandom do themselves, and the franchise they so love a disservice by ignoring the Cushing movies. And perhaps it’s time for a rediscovery of them, and to imagine a different Who that might have been.

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02/09/2013

Why I love the new J.J. Abrams Star Trek universe.

Look, let’s face it, while the Original Star Trek Universe has given us all decades of entertainment, a lot of laughs, a few tears, it’s kind of been written into a cul-de-sac. And by that I mean, they were seriously considering a series based around Worf. Worf people. You know, the guy who gets his ass kicked when they writers needed to show that someone was tough enough to actually bother fearing. (Yeah, yeah, I know he was frikkin’ awesome in Deep Space Nine, but still…no, just no) Besides with the launch of a new Trek universe the original is probably, at the very least from a studio point of view, dead as a doornail.

But where does that leave us?

Well actually it leaves us with an entirely blank slate. As of this moment the only thing the new Trek-‘verse has in common with the original is a handful of characters. That’s it, seriously. Don’t believe me, well consider the following points.

Kirk is captain of the Enterprise 10 years too early.

Christopher Pike is her captain for probably, allowing for crew assembly and equipping time, less than a year. Instead of his original five years, which are alluded to as being almost as legendary as Kirk’s two stints as her captain on five-year missions.

Robert April…is nowhere to be seen. Hang on a second. Robert April is nowhere to be seen? Hang on that can’t be right.

Ah but this is where we get to my utterly blank slate theory. Old Spock came back in time, created a parallel universe, and in so doing changed everything. He’s indirectly responsible for the destruction of Vulcan, as well as the almost destruction of Earth. He is directly responsible for bringing in to being new technologies and new concepts (the trans-warp transporter). Look reduced to brass-tacks he’s responsible for the destruction of the entire known future history of his universe.

He brought about a universe where George Kirk died thirty years too early, and so all the lives he would have touched, not least his sons, are irrevocably changed.

Kirk instead of launching the mission that will meet the actual God Apollo (Well sort of a god, it’s complex), Gary Seven (Which may explain Khan being met far too early, I’ll get to this), and will serve as inspiration for hundreds of subsequent future heroes; has instead launched on what should have been Robert April’s voyage. Have you even heard of Robert April? If you’re under thirty, and weren’t a hardcore Trek fan, probably not; but then neither apparently has Abrams.

So, Kirk will probably never end up back in 1960’s Earth, never meet Gary Seven, or his cat (sort of, again, it’s complex) Isis. So it’s possible that Gary Seven will, for all his extra-terrestrial technological and training advantages, die on that particular mission. Which (if you’ve read the Eugenics War novels) means that Khan will have faced far lesser foes. Which could well mean that he escaped an Earth that was rapidly slipping from his grasp aboard the Botany Bay far later than in the original universe. Which in itself could explain why he was found so much earlier…he simply hadn’t travelled as far from Earth.

Add in the destruction of Vulcan and suddenly we very likely no longer have the characters T’Pau, T’Pring, Saavik, Tuvok, or Valeris. Why? Well, they’re all probably dead.

With the destruction almost the entire of the Federations 2nd Fleet at Vulcan in the first Abrams movie, we probably lose a huge number of Next Generation era characters. Why? Well again, and again we meet characters in The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, and Voyager who come from families with a legacy of Starfleet service. So, unless they were with the 1st Fleet they’re bang out of luck, possibly out of existence too.

But guess what folks? We’re just getting started because now we get to the head-wrecking time-travel stuff.

The Enterprise under Kirk is going on it’s first five year mission a decade too early. Which means it’ll likely be going a decade of exploration too close to Earth. So as I previously said, it’s likely there’ll be no trip to the 60’s, much less two of them. But with Khan well and truly on ice, will there be a Genesis planet? A battle with Captain Kruge? A Klingon Bird of Prey to use in a desperate flight back to the 1980’s in search of a Humpback…whale, not person, whale damn it!

And here we run in to another problem. Scotty gives someone the formula for Transparent Aluminium, you know kind of how Old Spock gave New Scotty his own theory of Trans-Warp Transportation…yeah, that won’t cause any problems to the timeline.

Oh and just to add salt to some canonical wounds, this might also mean no encounter with the Guardian of Forever, or at least not ’til much later in the new universes history.

And then there’s Tasha Yar and her time onboard the Enterprise C…mmmmmm Tasha Yar…*sighs*…*coughs* anyway. We know that Tasha Yar becomes another linchpin of her own universes timeline when an alternative version of her goes back in time to fight with the crew of the Enterprise C during their Thermopylae moment against the Romulans. The means she’s captured by a Romulan commander, who fathers her daughter Sela, and then kills her for trying to escape. Leaving Sela to become one of the hottes…I mean nastiest recurring villains in The Next Generation era. (and in the extended universe one of the people fighting for the Romulan Imperial throne. But yeah, only real geeks know about that…or Robert April, so moving on.)

And then there’s the Dividians in America during the lifetime of Samuel Clemens. Hmm I wonder what happens with them in the new timeline, maybe they eat Guinan. (Well that should spark some truly filthy fan-fiction.)

But what about Sisko and his jaunts to the past? Let’s ignore for a moment the fact that there’s currently no real reason for the station K-7 to exist, much less for Kirks Enterprise to wind up there with Kirk still in command in around 12 years time. Instead let’s ask ourselves is there even a Sisko to go back, and fanboy all over Kirk? We’re assuming he exists in the later timeline here. But with the changes Old Spock has created is there even going to be an Enterprise D? Will its crew who are really, truly unlikely to include any familiar faces, be similar enough to the original version to push Q’s buttons the same way, meet the Borg, and trigger the battle which leads to Sisko being in command of Deep Space Nine when the Wormhole is found? Or instead, assuming he exists in the future of this new universes timeline, will he instead be a starship captain of little note.; thereby saving the Alpha and Beta quadrants from the ravages of the Dominion War. And remember Sisko is also important to his universes history because he plays the part of Gabriel Bell, who admittedly he is partially responsible for the death of, and right about this time my head explodes from trying to figure out timelines and temporal paradoxes.

Will Voyager ever exist? And if it does without Tuvok (remember he’s probably dead) will it end up in the Badlands so it can find itself in the Delta Quadrant (Fuck that’s far away! They wanna go home.). This is kind of important, remember they had at least ten episodes based around time travel. Most of which must have left some changes in their wake.

Anyway.

Yeah. Where did I start with this? Oh yes the blank slate.

The original time-line was frankly awesome. It’s probably the single largest continuous storyline in television and movie history. It covers centuries. But it’s also become very restrictive. Look at the last thousand words for evidence. All of those things happened, and have to be worked around to tell new stories. And while the various series of books have done sterling work explaining and exploring a lot of the under utilised plot devices (New Frontiers take on Apollo being a brilliant example.) they were also rather hamstrung by being written into a universe with a solidly established storyline. And in fact this has only gotten worse as various writers have filled in the blanks.

Abrams universe took the Star Trek rulebook, tore it up, set it on fire, and then pissed on the ashes.

No more Vulcan.

A Kirk who is FAR too young for his position.

A Federation which is far more aware of it’s vulnerabilities.

And best of all, no known future history.

Sure there might well be a Captain Picard in the new universe. But with the changes he’s just as likely to be the producer of the finest red wines in the Alpha Quadrant. Or a history professor in the Academy. Or a street sweeper.

Nothing in the new universe is set in stone. There’s no reason that Abrams can’t take old storylines (Gary Seven being my favourite  prime example.) and run with them, giving them the time, and polish they deserve. But there’s nothing stopping him, and his successors, from ignoring them completely.

And that’s why I love both the original and Abrams universes equally. The original gives me stories I know and understand. I get the setting, and after a lifetime of watching, and reading can see most of the connecting strings between episodes, books, comics, and films. It’s a tapestry, sometimes loosely, and sometimes tightly woven. But I know it. And that’s both comforting, like an old fairytale, and in its own way exciting.

But the new universe is just pure adventure, for everyone. Everyone who watches it is experiencing it, more or less, for the first time together. It’s an opportunity for new writers, new storytellers to tell their Star Trek story on a relatively fresh and new sheet of paper. The basic rules still apply. Kirk is still, more or less, Kirk. Spock is still logical. Scotty is Simon Pegg…ummm ya *happy dance*. And the Enterprise is still the badass of the fleet. But beyond that, who knows. Who knows what changes have extended from the distant into the (future)past of this new universe. Who knows what dangers were swept away by the new timeline, only to be replaced to newer, deadlier foes.

Well someone knows, they’re sitting behind a laptop right now, wondering how to tell that story. And probably wondering how you write in lens flare.

So in memory of the original universe, Voltaire. *Riotous applause*

29/06/2013

Have you seen my voice? I know I left it around here somewhere.

I have the flu, aches, pains, bunged up, and somehow my voice got away from me. I feel miserable, so I’m going to watch a television classic The Day After. Miserable now, I fully expect to be absolutely bummed, while also being incredibly relieved, and happy to go with it in a couple of hours (despite the presence of the beauteous Bibi Besch). Why not join me?

I might even follow that with the classic, and original version of On The Beach.

And hey, just to round out my relief, and happiness that we actually lived through the Cold War, why not finish up with Threads?

These shouldn’t depress, they’re cultural relics of a type of war which so far we have avoided. I find them sort of uplifting because, they show an awareness of the reality of that time in the artistic communities. And an unwillingness to just be quiet about it. I honestly believe they made a difference.

Anyway have a nice Pride Weekend Dublin. And now I go to wish my sinuses would just explode, and get it over with.

15/06/2013

Why I think Superman sequels almost always suck, and why you should go to the new one.

Are you looking forward to the new Superman movie Man of Steel? You are? Good, I’d be worried if you weren’t. After all it’s not every year you get the chance to see a new big screen adaption of one of the best known god origin myths. And that right there is my reason why Superman sequels always suck.

He’s a god.

Okay, I’ll explain a little more. Superman, like most if not all superhero stories, can be viewed as modern mythology. Wolverine is perhaps a modern take on Odysseus, wandering the world in search of home. Wonderwoman, is quite literally an Amazonian princess. Nightcrawler and Angel, are supposedly descendants of races early humans mistook for angels and demons. And Superman, is Heracles, or maybe Perseus, well one of Zeus’ bastard sons anyway (I think probably more Hercules though because the second part of his origin story is usually his having to slay more gods/titans. An act which in Heracles mythology ends with his taking a seat alongside his father in Olympus.).

We’ve always had superheroes in our cultures. In the past though they either represented the very, very best of humanity (a lot of the Fianna, or the Knights of the Round table), of semi-godly origin (half of the classical Greek heroes were demi-gods), or were straight up gods (Prometheus sacrificing his freedom to give mankind fire, etc). But they were, with the addition of tights and some ACDC to the soundtrack, what modern kids would recognise as superheroes. They can simply do things that “normal” people can’t. They’re smarter, or stronger, or have powers, or are immortal, or, or, or.

So back to Superman.

Superman has one of the better origin stories of the very early superheroes. His entire world is destroyed by some cataclysm. His father desperately tries to save his entire race, but his efforts are rebuffed by his own people. So out of absolute desperation he sends his only son to Earth in a small purpose built spacecraft. Then Supermans parents die. Next twenty-ish years of boring stuff about him growing up as a normal mid-western kid on a farm, all the while hiding his true nature. His adopted dad dies (man this kid is bad luck to have around). Moves to the big city, wants to use his powers for good, creates a costume, becomes Superman, has a career saving a REALLY clumsy, and self destructive newspaper reporter. Saves the world a bunch of times like a good solar powered god.

That’s Superman boiled down to a single paragraph. Doesn’t sound so good does it? It actually sounds kind of comical.

But in reality it’s actually a rather engrossing story. You have the ultimate fish out of water, an honest to goodness alien, whose father sends him to a world where he knows his son will become godlike because of his new environment. And a lot of Supermans origin story, when it’s told well, is about his struggle to accept his true nature, and the responsibilities that go hand-in-hand with that nature. Because in Superman, just like in the ancient myths, power/acclaim doesn’t come for free. There is always a price.

Sometimes that price is your bitch of a step-mother trying to kill you as a child, before driving you mad enough to kill your own wife and children, in some versions not once, but twice. Heracles.

Sometimes the price is that you become a king, only to have it all taken from you, and then have the universe add ridicule to insult to injury by dropping the the prow of your own ship on your now homeless head. Jason of the Argonauts.

And in Supermans case, the price is knowing he can never save everyone. No really, that’s the price. No matter how perfectly he pulls off a rescue, someone will still be hurt. He is a god, but one who isn’t all powerful, a god who can’t have a really perfect win. The world is just too damned big for one man, even a superman, to save all of it. So instead he spends his time saving as much of one city as he can, and Lois Lane constantly, because and I cannot state this strongly enough, she is a super-magnet for trouble as well as being incredibly clumsy (and yeah, usually kinda hot so there is that).

His origin story works really well because it’s about a young god who wants to be a normal man, but is forced over time, by circumstance to accept his true nature. Even though it means he will have to pay some enormous personally torturous price. Perseus anyone?

And right there is why the sequels, 1980’s Superman 2 being an exception mostly because it was actually far more the second part of his origin than a true sequel, usually suck. He’s a god. There’s really no suspense, no peril. Superman will not die. Lois Lane will not die. And everyone else is more or less just a nameless face in the crowd who you won’t see more than once, or at the most very often. Superman always wins in the end, because he’s a god. So why bother warming up the edge of your seat?

Peril is important to good storytelling. And it is an element that even one of the worst superhero movies of all time had in spades. X-Men 3 is an abomination of a movie. I honestly think it’s far worse than the 2003 movie Hulk, and that was just a mess of bad CGI, combined with not enough good story. But even with it being such a terrible hash of a movie, X-Men 3 really had one thing going for it. Characters, major ones, could and did die. The good guys won, yes. But they paid a truly huge price, and you were never sure how many of the characters you loved would still be kicking at the end of it all.

Best of all it showed a god-type character, Dark Phoenix, dying from something as mundane as being stabbed. It allowed the unstoppable, to be stopped in a way that was not only easy to relate to, but in a way that tore at your heart strings.

This is something that Superman has never, to my mind, really managed to achieve in the sequels. Simply because Superman is Superman. He always saves the day, so why worry? Even in the comic books the writers have had to continuously ramp up what his opponents can do, to have even the slightest hint of peril. But it still doesn’t work. Why?

Superman dies…

He’s cloned.

That version was from a parallel universe.

That version was another a clone.

It was all a dream.

A vision experienced in the Fortress of Solitude.

…and so on. (Not sure how many of those have actually happened. I stopped reading Superman comics around the same time I discovered breasts. But really what else can you do with that character?)

When your chief character is a god, it really is almost impossible to do much more with him. I mean sure you can knock off his support system. Kill his mother, his father, his girlfriend, his dog. But even then you wind up having to tell a superhero story which has no superheroism. Instead you wind up with a story that you could have told better by just having an all human cast of characters, and setting it in a universe that everyone can fully relate to.

Or you can strip him of his powers…superhero movie with no superpowers that isn’t Kickass. I’ll pass thanks.

What’s the point?

But all that said, he does have probably the best of the early superhero origin stories. And I fully expect Man of Steel to quite simply rock. So I really am strongly suggesting that you go watch it. This won’t be the campy 80’s version, or Lois and Clark. This will be a fully realised gritty version based solidly in the same sort of universe as Nolans Batman Trilogy. Or to put it another way, Superman the way we’ve never seen it on the big screen, or really any screen.

Just…don’t expect a lot from the sequels. And there ARE going to be sequels.

So if all that isn’t enough, as a loyal member of the Angry Army I will leave you with the Angry Joe himself pleading with you to go see Man of Steel. I mean come on, could you say no to that face?

And now I leave you. It’s time to Up, Up, and AWAY!

08/06/2013

I had the dentist yesterday.

And I feel like a horse kicked me in the face. So after I finish my grocery shopping I’ll be panning out for the rest of the day, while I watch some of my favourite movie, and game critics. Nothing cheers me up quite as much as someone ripping the shit our of bad movies, television, games, music…you know the important things. So seeing as I’m not really up to writing today I thought I would share the channels of some of my favourite critics on the intewebs.

Nostalgia Critic: He remembers it, so you don’t have to. And I pity him, all those bad, bad movies.

The Spoony Experiment: One of the most brilliant reviewers I’ve ever had the good fortune to watch. For my gamer readers I’d suggest starting with his Ultima series. Or his hilarious written review of Battlestar Galactica.

And finally for those of you who just want something short, and funny to watch.

Lore: Ever wonder what the story behind your favourite game is? Well learn here in roughly one minute.

So have a nice weekend. And enjoy avoiding the sun, so you don’t end up with that horrid tanned effect…or maybe that’s just me.

01/06/2013

Movies I won’t be seeing – The Purge.

Well I have a toothache, a really vicious one, and so I am in vicious mood. Thus it seemed like the perfect time to start a series of blogs in which I rant at how far down the pathway of suck Hollywood often goes. And now we start with the first big “horror” of the Summer, The Purge.

The concept behind this movie is very simple. A near future America has almost no crime, and no poverty. How did they achieve this miracle of social engineering? By declaring all crime of, any type, legal for one night of the year. So for one night of the year you can have your house broken into, be gang-raped, and then have what’s left of you tortured to death. Oh and guess what? Yes, that’s right, the police, the ambulance service, and the hospitals will do NOTHING to help you (we’ll get to the last part in a minute). According to this movie this is apparently the cure to all of America’s social whoa. I think I forgot to mention something, if you don’t get involved you can be summarily shot.

Now I like a dystopian future as much as the next nerd, 1984 is both one of my favourite books, as well as one of my favourite movies. But I really don’t think the writers of this premise really thought it through, at all.

There is no possible way that this premise could cure any of the social ills of any nation. For starters what will this fictional America do about the huge numbers of PTSD sufferers they wind up with post-Purge night? What about the complete breakdown in trust between people? Because you sure as fuck aren’t gonna trust your violin teacher if you saw her hacking the fingers off of her least promising student, for playing every note flat. What about the insane cost of basically rebuilding huge swathes of most cities every single year. What about the collapse of healthcare after doctors, nurses, orderlies, and frustrated dentists realise that they can legally walk into a hospital ward, and slaughter every single person there with total impunity?

It’s a dumbass premise for a dystopia movie…what? It’s the premise for a home-invasion movie?

Oh fuck, Hollywood? Really? I just give up, I’m taking some painkillers and going back to bed. I can’t cope with a toothache and this sort of idiocy at the same time.

Good day to you.

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09/02/2013

HMV, if only I’d known how much I’d miss you.

I spent last weekend in Cork visiting the mammy, and one of my adopted lil sisters. *waves* Hey Neads, so Bif Naked huh? I actually managed to have a pretty funky good time. A Friday afternoon was spent wandering my home city, checking out the shops, and more so the many, many gorgeous female Corkonians. Seriously, why did all the insanely beautiful Cork women decide to come out of hiding after I moved to Dublin? Is my raw sexuality, and sensuality that scary. (Yeah, I don’t believe that last part either, have ya seen me? Raw mincemeat is more like it.)

Very cheap things were bought, a laptop slip cover for my new baby. 10 Euro down from 75!

A pair of John Rocha leather gloves that were supposed to be for my Partner in Crime but which barely fit my moms barely adult sized hands…woops. 18 Euro from 40.

Three Xbox games, Gears of War 1, Golden Axe: Beastrider (cos of the very hot redheaded amazon on the front cover), and Lost something or other (you kill things and then huddle up to them to keep warm before killing more things. Basically a cross between The Lord of the Flies and the first half of Empire Strikes Back.) Should’ve been 25ish Euro, I got them for 15. *fist pump*

Noticeably absent from that list however, for anyone who knows me well, are DVD’s.  I collect movies. My house has somewhere in the region (now) of 300 movies, and probably a dozen box-sets. But the important point to be made at this stage is that I’ve never paid full price for any of those movies. None of them. I will not pay over a tenner for a movie on DVD, and I won’t pay over twenty for a box-set. Let’s put it this way, I’m still waiting to find a copy of Ironman 2 at an acceptable price to round out my Marvel collection.

So, back to Cork last Friday. I’d found gloves, games and laptop accessories. So I decided to use the last of my unassigned money for the weekend to find something cool to watch with my Mom on Saturday evening. I toddled off to the place where HMV has stood on Patricks Street for my entire life. But of course it’s closed down.

Hmm, Virgin, or whatever company own the site of the shop formerly known as Virgin. What The Hell?! Why is there a Dealz there?

Golden Disc’s? I’ll be honest here. I couldn’t remember where Golden Disc’s had shops in Cork so I gave up at that point.

Now G.D. I can take or leave. I always could, it’s never been that great a shop. Virgin, or whatever the last shop on that site was last called…meh. They never had deals that were that good. But HMV. Oh HMV come back to us! My great joys in life the past 9 years or so have been in descending order.

My Partner in Crime. (And my other girlfriend/Slavegirl at the time.) Hubba Hubba!

My friends. They kind of rock collectively, as well as rolling individually.

Video gaming, and watching movies.

The bargain sections of HMV.

My kinky toy-box.

Thrift shops.

Kari Byron.

My electric blanket.

See how high HMV is in that list? Going to Liffey Valley Shopping Center really meant “PiC you wander the clothes shops, I’m going to wander HMV and spend hardly any money on a shit load of movies, or secondhand games.” And now, Liffey Valley just means…New Look. Which is great, don’t get me wrong. Cute staff, and sort of affordable clothing, even if they own nothing what-so-ever that fit on my feet.

HMV has been the unknowing savior of this girls sanity so many times. Those days when I’m in too much pain to sit on the frikkin’ toilet, watch a movie I love, that I bought in HMV. Just finished all my creative work for the day? Reward myself by playing a game I bought in HMV. Feel down over being the only girl in sight with a hair color more commonly seen in Anime or Hentai? Wander through HMV, at least one member of staff would have nutty hair, and cute tats.  Need a birthday present in a hurry? Everyone likes music, or movies, or games, hmm gift voucher, ah HMV.

I’d known they were gone for a while now. I’d even walked past the Liffey Valley branch several times, staring wistfully at the closed shutters, wishing I could wander through it one more time. But last Friday struck home to me just how badly I’m going to miss HMV now that it’s gone. And yes, some other company will buy it, and reopen some, if not most, of those stores. But, it just won’t be the same.

So HMV this one’s for you. And me and Neads. Bif Naked, take it away.

18/12/2012

Little Ruminations on Movies – So The Hobbit is out then?

Yes, of course I know that The Hobbit is out. I’m not sure it’s possible to have a pulse, and either eye sight, or hearing, and not know it. The only thing they’ve held back on where advertising is concerned is using a death ray laser to cover the Moon in Hobbit related graffiti.

I haven’t of course seen it yet, but I am forced to admit that I am worried.

I’m sure it will be a powerhouse, tour-de-force, filled with award-winning performances. I’m certain it will be filled with wonderfully choreographed fight scenes, brilliantly written comedic moments, unforgettable characters, and Gandalf.

But have you read the book lately? I mean since that time you read it when you were 18, drunk, and just read it as a primer before finally settling down to read The Lord of the Rings?

What I’m getting at here is that what I remember of the book is not exactly exciting. Unexpected party, go on an adventure, meet some trolls who are dumb enough to argue themselves to death, meet some elves, get rocks thrown at, fall underground, find a magic ring, meet eagles (the animals not the band), meet a kind of warlike hippy (it makes sense in the book), get caught by spiders (or maybe that was in Harry Potter so many scenes are interchangeable in fantasy I kind of lose track), get caught by elves, find mountain, trick a dragon, big battle, the end.

I mean it is fun, but to me it never really felt real. It felt like a real fairy tale, as in something you read to a child. I guess the best way to put is that to me it never felt complete. Where as the Lord of the Rings felt more like a complete story, a window into complete world. And I’m just not too sure about that being on the screen.

Still I’ll bet dollars to doughnuts that this time a couple of weeks from now I’ll be ranting, and raving here about how awesome it was. Because it probably will be. But…

24/11/2012

Little Ruminations on Movies – DVD collecting.

I’m a collector, I love to gather collections of things. Though my Partner in Crime would probably describe me more as a hoarder, or a packrat. (remember those words the next time I save one of her family from being without the internet with my collection of spare PC parts.) In the past I collected books.

Yes, honest to goodness paper books. The kind that people seem to have decided should be replaced with digital copies.  *sigh* But this post isn’t about my strong feelings on that particular topic. Anyway, I used to collect books, and after I moved to my current home, I realised that I had to have a clear out. I went from about 650 books to just over 100. It killed me. I loved my books, a lot of them had been with me for most of my adult life, and not a few for my entire childhood as well.

But it was a salve to my collectors soul that my DVD movie collection was still intact, still mine, and still very, very portable.

I have about 120 movies in my collection, but in addition to these I have a box set collection, including Babylon 5, The West Wing, and Andromeda to name a few. It represents a couple of thousand hours of televisual entertainment. It covers everything from political satire, to war movies, to horror, hell there may even be a romantic comedy in there somewhere. It’s a pretty decent collection for a girl who refuses point blank to pay full price for any DVD.

Of course it does come with one big problem. I’ve watched every single last one of them. And while my joyful, OCD riddled heart is normally delighted to watch the same stuff over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and over, and *deeeeeep breath* over again, right now it’s not. I’m feeling truly awful these days, an since that means I’m pretty much housebound I feel a really serious need for new things to watch…

Yeah, that’s not happening. Guess I’ll watch Lord of the Rings again.

23/10/2012

Big – Birth of a Monster?

Last weekend, for the first time since it was in the cinema I watched the Tom Hanks movie “Big”. I can honestly say that I barely remembered anything from it, but everyone seems to have warm, happy childhood memories of watching a little kid, meeting what must bea god/genie powered wish machine, wish himself into being a young Tom Hanks, so I thought why not. After all it was there, on the telly, so, not as if I have anything to lose.

*sigh* That terrible hair, it gives me nightmares. (Image via http://www.nndb.com)

Well except for some of my little remaining faith in humanity. You see I think what everyone has mistaken for a fun, frolic filled family movie, is in fact intended to be a window into the birth of a serial sex offender, a serial killer, or perhaps even a despotic world leader such as has never been seen, not even in humanities rather sordid history. Or at least that’s how I would have written it.

But why Amanda? Why would you think such a thing of a sweet early Tom Hanks vessel?

Well dear reader, I think it because…

1: Too much power, and freedom far too young.

Do you remember when your parents let you move out of home when you turned 12?

How you went off, and got yourself a high-powered job?

How about the way you ate whatever you wanted, when you wanted, and stayed up as late as you wanted?

No? Really, to all three?

Me neither. That’s because no sensible, or competent parent would allow their children to live that way. As children we’re surrounded by boundaries, rules, and parental guidance for a reason. The reason being that children are not generally good judges of what’s best for themselves. Though sometimes they do grow up to be people who are in fact good at making decisions for themselves.

But in Big the main character, Josh, receives all the freedom of being an adult overnight, literally overnight. Sure to begin with those freedoms include the freedom to starve to death while huddled for warmth in a ditch, somewhat like the Little Matchstick Girl, as portrayed by Tom Hanks. But he manages to land on his feet, not once but twice.

The first time he somehow finds a job as a clerk in a major company. The second time when he flukes his way into a job as a junior executive for the same company.

Maybe if you danced a little harder he’d have let you have his 12-year-old granddaughter, Josh.

Yup so lil Josh learns early on that life just works out in his favor. Need a job? The world provides even though you have the social security number of a 12 year-old. Want a better job? Dance on a giant keyboard with the company owner, and you’ll end up with a higher rank and more power.

2: Lying little git.

Through out the entire movie Josh shows an amazing comfort with lying in the most casual way. He lies constantly. He lies to his parents about his whereabouts, and condition. He lies to his landlords, co-workers, bosses. And he lies to his first girlfriend, but we’ll get to her later.

So what? Many of you must be thinking. Amanda, look at the situation he was in, of course he had to lie.

And of course you’re right. His survival to a degree depends on his ability to lie, otherwise instead of watching a family comedy named “Big” we’d be watching a tragedy named “The Gape: A Magical Story of a 12 year-old rent-boy, With Unfortunate Hair.”

But what does he learn about lying over the course of the entire movie. Why only that lying never has negative consequences. Seriously, the only negative consequences that happen due to his lies are to other people. His parents live shattered lives believing he’s a kidnapping victim. And what about any men, who whose lives are torn apart when the police show up to interrogate them, on suspicion of that kidnapping. And of course he winds up breaking his 30 year-old girlfriend’s heart.

But every lie leads to a pot of gold for Josh himself.

3: Selfish little b*****d.

The movie ends with Tom Hanks wishing himself back into his 12 year-old body. And walking away from his heart-broken statutory rapist girlfriend (we’ll get to that), heading home to his parents and their shattered lives, with a song in his heart, and on his lips. Happy ending!

Selfish little bastard is what I say.

Let us, for a moment, consider the Zoltar Speaks machine. This object grants wishes.The sort of wishes that require at the very least a temporary local rewriting of all temporal and physical laws. It can make a young boy into a grown man literally overnight, and a grown man into a young boy in very baggy clothes. And all without even being plugged in.

I remember even as a ten year-old watching this movie, and thinking that the machine had to bea trap, a cage for a god, or a genie, a demon, or some other supernatural, and above all else insanely powerful being. Yes being, after all it shows itself to be able to correctly interpret a spoken wish. Then it somehow moves billions of atoms from one place to another, thus making a functional, living Tom Hanks. And as we see in the finale of the movie, it can reverse this in an instant. And all without coating every nearby surface in a thin layer of main character.

Behold you mortals the face of a god! (Image via http://www.pinrepair.com)

So let’s just say that young Josh has access to his own personal enslaved god. And he makes precisely two wishes?!

What the hell? What about your heartbroken parents Josh? Don’t they deserve for all this to have led to something good for them? Like winning the lottery? Or finding Ollie North’s gold under their floorboards?

Or let’s not think small here. What about world hunger? What about street children Josh? You could have been one you selfish little prick.

Hey let’s think even bigger, you have access to a limitless source of power Josh. How about this wish…Zoltar I wish for the world to be a truly safe place for everyone…Just imagine the dystopian sequel that wish could have spawned.

The point is that throughout the entire movie Josh again, and again strikes me as am exceedingly selfish brat. Not in the “I want everything”, way. But in an unthinking disregard for other people, and for the potential of what he has right at his fingertips at the close of the movie. And by that point he doesn’t even have the excuse of immaturity to fall back on, he’s spent the previous months living as an adult. Which leads us finally to…

4: Premature sexual awakening.

And I do not mean a twelve-year-old, semi-innocently fumbling with his first girlfriend in his treehouse here. I’m talking about full-on, outright statutory rape.

Hang on! What?! I hear you cry.

Well the main character is of course 12-years-old, though admittedly a 12 year-old in a 30 year-old man’s body. However his girlfriend is a 30-odd year old Elizabeth Perkins.

Well, at least he has good taste. She on the other hand…a little boy trapped inside a fully functional and anatomically correct Tom Hanks? Really? (Image via http://www.thefancarpet.com)

So what do we call it when an adult has sex with a minor?

And make no mistake he is a minor. Check up Josh Baskins birth certificate, and it would tell you he was 12.

So now you’re wondering how all this leads to his being a dangerous predator?

  • This boy has his first consensual sexual experience with an experienced older woman at far too early an age. (Though it’s highly questionable that he could have given anything like informed consent with the average 1980’s 12-year-olds life experience.)
  • He has experienced power, prestige, respect, and legitimate adult authorities and freedoms, with the mind, and outlook of a young child. This has then been stripped away.
  • He has, by the end of the movie become and accomplished, habitual liar. Not such a long leap to go from there to self-delusions.
  • He’s a selfish little so and so, as shown by his not asking the Zoltar god/genie to help anyone in his life with their problems.
  • He walks away from the life he’s built as an adult, leaving his company, adult friends, landlord, etc to pick up the pieces of his mess with absolutely no signs of guilt, the movie even ends with him having a jolly sing-along with his best friend.

In short I watched this movie, and saw a VERY young adolescent get his every fantasy made real. He has sex, has his dream job, freedom, money, and power. True, he gives it all up in the end. But I can’t help but wonder how his still not fully formed personality would cope with everything he’s been through. And I see three main possibilities.

A: He convinces himself it never happened, or otherwise finds a way to normalise it all, and lives a normal happy life.
B: He lives an increasingly bitter life, as his natural adulthood fails to live up to what he remembers from his first one. Leaving him an embittered, sad, shell of a man who never amounts to anything.
C:
His experience of too much, too young, and his encounter with a trapped god/genie with the power that represents twists his mind over time. Leading him to a life of evil, crime, and horrific acts.

To see this movie as the genesis of a monster, all you have to do is try to look at the lessons he learned, the adult things he experienced through the eyes of Josh as a twenty-something.

As for what he might become, think of it this way, he’s only one small step from absolute global power. Find the Zoltar machine again. Make all the wishes he wants. Or even one carefully thought out, and worded wish. Boom! The sort of power even Hitler never dreamt of. And as we all know from our history lessons, power does in fact corrupt the wielder. Now imagine that power in the hands of an emotional cripple…

(Admittedly he might use that power for good, but then this wouldn’t be nearly  so much fun to imagine.)

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