Well, last weekend was the Academy Awards, which of course means M went across the road for her friend’s Oscar party, and I sat down at home with a bunch of Science Fiction movies I hadn’t seen (generally because they were before my time). This year I started with Time After Time, and it was delightful!
This one’s been on my list for years, but kept getting pushed aside up make way for other movies. I’m super glad I finally at down and watched it. HG Wells (Malcolm McDowell) chases Jack the Ripper (David Warner) through time and space to 1970s San Francisco, and meets a lovely and independent young lady (Mary Steenburgen). Madcap adventure, romance, and comedy ensue. Wells is charming and wonderfully naive, Jack is cruel and confident, you get the idea. I totally recommend this.
It was so good that I decided I could go high risk with my next selection, and that is how I found myself watching Metalstorm: the Destruction of Jared-Syn.
3d, PG, 1983. I almost feel like that’s saying enough. This is one of those post-apocalyptic road rage movies that were so prevalent in the wake of Mad Max. Mostly they just make you realize what a genius George Miller was/is. Everything feels slow and unimpressive, the vehicles look lame, you get the idea. Maybe that’s more accurate though… What are the odds that everybody working on a car after the apocalypse is some sort of monster garage hero? This one isn’t what I’d call actively bad, it’s just not at all good. The bad guy is filling a giant crystal with stolen souls, the good guy always leaves his helmet in the tank-car, there’s a girl and a scoundrel and an honorable subvillain. It checks all the boxes, but does so with a crayon.
The final movie in this 2017 Oscar trifecta was The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension, and what a closer! Buckaroo Banzai (Peter Weller) is a rockstar/scientist (and brain surgeon?) who uses a rocket car and a black box to punch a dimensional home through a mountain, inspiring an interdimensional alien exiled/trapped on Earth to rally his War of the Worlds compatriots and steal the black box, triggering an interdimensional incident that could result in global thermonuclear war. Along the way we meet Buckaroo’s fan club slash militia, a romantic interest that seems to be the long lost twin of hours ex-wife, and a series of ever-less useful bureaucrats and aliens. I definitely enjoyed it, but I think I mostly just love that it exists; it was a very different era for truly creative endeavours.
That’s it for now. I’ve gotta say, I’m truly excited to see what I dig up for next year.
So I’m feeling that familiar, hollywood-inspired, mix of anticipation and terror/anxiety (anxicipation? anticipiety?) that comes with a book I like being made into a movie.
I first read all you need is kill a couple years ago, and enjoyed it a great deal. A few awkward bits of writing here and there but that could just be the translation. Occasionally the effort to turn a ‘hip’ young dialect into english can be a little interesting. The book follows Keiji Kiriya, a young Japanese recruit in a United Defense Force defending the planet from incredibly hard to kill alien invaders. He pilots a mechanized suit of armour, and dies an agonizng death only to wake up and relive the previous couple days. And again. And again. Like groundhog day and vanquish mashed into war of the worlds. Apparently the author was intrigued by the real-world implications/possibility of a videogame-style respawn effect. For sci-fi fans (especially fans of mecha and anime) I definitely recommend it.
I am picking it up again *now* because I’ve discovered there’s a movie coming out in 2014, and I want to reread it before I get too close to the release. While I may or may not end up enjoying hollywood’s version, they’re definitely planning on changing some stuff, and I’ll probably be better off without having the book too fresh in my mind.
So what makes me so sure they’re planning to mess about with the book I liked so much? Remember young, inexperienced rookie jacket pilot Keiji Kiriya, of the UDF’s Japanese component? Meet ‘merican Sgt Bill Cage, as played by Tom Cruise. Given that the whole point to me was that some inexperienced young nobody is granted innumerable deaths and uses them to become one of the greatest warriors the world has ever seen, it seems ludicrous to replace the raw recruit with an experienced soldier. Never mind the hollywood obsession with turning every tailor-made asian role into a white guy. Seems extra weird since the book makes a big deal of there being an American Special Forces squad assisting in the defense of Honshu. I look forward to some fantastically cutting remarks from George Takei.
Games aren’t the only medium I didn’t fully explore as a child. As much as I love sci fi (and as much as I always did), there are a ton of classic science fiction films that I missed as a kid. Let’s be honest, this isn’t a genre that spends much effort avoiding sex and violence. I got to thinking about this a while back and decided to start tracking down some of the movies I didn’t see the first time around (and a few that I did but just wasn’t old enough to appreciate).
This weekend was one of those opportunities. My boy was asleep at a good time every night and I didn’t have anywhere I needed to be. And so: damnation alley (1977), a boy and his dog (1975), shivers (1975), and hardware (1990). Damnation alley was pretty meh, although it did make me want to reread the book. The zelazny classic involved a hard run through an irradiated death zone in a super tank. The movie spent the first 15 of its 91 minutes just getting to the apocalypse, which I’m sure seemed poignant to somebody back in ’77 but was completely unnecessary to the movie. Pretty much the entire budget seems to have gone into the supertank; the rest of the effects are pretty terrible, and the ending was ridiculously abrupt.
Boy and his dog I actually saw as a kid, and is a pretty solid example of something I just wasn’t in any way old enough to appreciate. I think I probably drew pictures or read while it was on, because its incredibly dark and I don’t remember any of those bits. Weird and sorta twisted (the post-apocalyptic world depicted here is a pretty misogynistic hellhole), but I enjoyed it. Not sure how close it came to the source material but I may have to find out.
Shivers struck me as pretty cronenbergy (like zombies but with sex!) and fairly so so. Some gross and disturbing bits but again, that’s pretty much cronenberg’s wheelhouse. Considering it was a movie about parasite-infested sex zombies it was pretty clean on that front. Can’t see myself bothering to watch it again.
Which brings us to hardware. Sorta bad and good at the same time. Pacing was a little rough (the last 20 minutes seemed to pull a bit of a point break) but the movie overall was lots of fun. Some action, some cool-looking robot parts, and a crapload of mayhem.
All told, best oscar night in ages.