Netflix Follies — Terminator 2: Judgement Day

June 24, 2013

FOLLIES

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♠ Terminator 2: Judgement Day

I wanted to watch this again because I’ve thrashed it hard over the years (23 of them to be precise) and lately have begun to suspect I was being unfair to it. Judgement Day seems to be the franchise favourite among fans and sometimes I have a knee-jerk negative reaction to popular favourites.

So what were my issues with the film going in? Basically just that they’d taken the gritty, ultra-violent, campy B-movie, sci-fi action/horror of the original Terminator and sanitized it into an almost family-friendly, Spielberg-esque boy-and-his-robot buddy movie. I remembered it being basically E.T. if Elliott was a juvenile delinquent and E.T. had been a time-travelling hunter-killer cyborg. While I’ll always have a nostalgic love for E.T., doing a Terminator version was just a terrible concept from the get go.

The heart-warming tale of boy and his robot

Rehashing the same time-travel paradox gambit from the first film was probably a bit dodgy to begin with, but I had a huge problem with the switch-up in making Arnie a good guy this time around (at his insistence if I remember correctly). The concept might have been okay if, instead of playing a reprogrammed T-800 sent back to protect John Connor, he was  a human being—the one that the T-800’s appearance was based on. Having this “good guy” version of the T-800 completely destroys the character. He’s simply not interesting unless he’s indiscriminately killing people without mercy or remorse. Maybe human-Arnie could even have been fighting robo-Arnie! Or maybe someone like Dolph Lundgren could have been a T-900 cyborg? Anything would have been better than this neutered version of the T-800 and the weird liquid man.

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Episode 171: CATS

June 13, 2013

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CATS! They might not be “man’s best friend” but they sure are the Internet’s best friend.

If you’re one of those (unfortunate) people who are instinctively mistrustful of cats, we also discuss two very different DS9 episodes (“Melora” and “Necessary Evil“) in the final third of the show.

Our listeners have already pointed out something great we didn’t talk about: BBC‘s Secret Life of the Cat. Even the website is pretty great.

Also pretty awesome: Cats With Owl Faces.

But more awesome? OMG CATS IN SPACE.

And just because we can, here are our cats, clockwise from top left: Quita, Bartleby, Cardi, Bartleby, Pan, Bartleby, Quita.

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More: Bartleby, Eddie (neighbour’s cat), Bartleby, Pan, Bartleby, Pan

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Their iPad masterpiece created in situ on the podcast (suitable for framing)!

Our cats' painting!

BRING ON THE CAT VIDEOS!

Sad Cat Diary

Henri, the French existentialist cat

Maru compilation


Netflix Follies: Battle Los Angeles

June 7, 2013

FOLLIES

Battle: Los Angeles

Under the impression it had been universally panned by critics and audiences, I’d been avoiding Battle: Los Angeles. Also, I’d heard the words “shaky” and “cam” associated with the title which meant I had to wait until Mandi was out of the house to watch it.

Perhaps it was a case of low-expectations engendering a forgiving attitude, but I was impressed. It’s a by-the-books war movie though, not strictly an alien-invasion story. The enemy are aliens but they could easily have been Nazis, Viet Cong, Iraqi insurgents or even Red Dawn era Soviets. It doesn’t matter who they are. The film is really about a platoon of grunts thrown into a relentless FUBAR situation for about an hour and a half.

After watching the film, I wasn’t sure why it’d gotten panned so I looked it up

Rotten Tomatoes: “Overlong and overly burdened with war movie clichés, Battle: Los Angeles will entertain only the most ardent action junkies”.

Roger Ebert:  “Noisy, violent, ugly and stupid… Generations of filmmakers devoted their lives to perfecting techniques that a director like Jonathan Liebesman is either ignorant of, or indifferent to. Yet he is given millions of dollars to produce this assault on the attention span of a generation.”

Time Out: “… flat military characters… hackneyed dialogue and corny sentimentality”.

Well, I can certainly see where these reviewers are coming from but I also have to cock an eyebrow at them. It seems almost like they were rating the film using The Hurt Locker as a standard and not summer popcorn movies like Aliens.

I think The Miami Herald got it about right:

“Not so goofy as Independence Day, not so terrifying as War of the Worlds, and it utterly lacks the imagination and emotional resonance of District 9.”

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Episode 170: Close Encounters of the 8 Extra-Super Terrestrial Goonies

June 6, 2013

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We decided to stay on the J.J. Abrams train for another episode to cover his 2011 Spielberg homage, Super 8. Surprisingly, it’s not a derailed disaster like the train the film—but does it live up to the source material?

ALSO IN THIS EPISODE: We talk about Deep Space Nine in the first of our promised installments on the popular TNG spin-off.

I’d avoided Super 8 for three reasons. 1) J. 2) J. and 3) Abrams.

Which may or may not be fair. I was also under the impression general consensus was the film completely fall apart by the second act. But I thought Super 8 was actually pretty fantastic. I mean, given that there is less than a single original idea in the whole film.

It far surpasses homage to being a direct mash-up of producer Spielberg’s E.T., The Goonies and Close Encounters and Abrams’ own Cloverfield. If you wanted to be generous, you could use another French word, bricolage, to describe the creative process here. Basically the exact same approach that hampered Star Trek Into Darkness (not so much an homage to Wrath of Khan but a wholesale pillaging and re-purposing).

In Super 8 though, the approach works really well. Perhaps more so than any other film or TV endeavor Abrams has managed to tell a solid story with three-dimensional characters who act in a psychologically believable way, with a minimum of WTF plot points and continuity flaws (Why, oh why, did the truck carrying the white cubes come back into town?).

Perhaps Spielberg (not credited as a writer, though basically he should have been since he wrote pretty much all the source material) helped him out a lot more than was let on. I can’t remember what the criticisms leveled at the film were exactly, but I can’t help feel they must have been fueled by a post-Lost Abrams backlash. I can fully appreciate that, like I said, this is why I avoided it myself (Mandi avoided it because she thought it’d be all hand-held shaky-cam like in Cloverfield). A part of me even wanted to downright hate the film with a white-hot intensity.

But the negativity makes no sense if you watch the film objectively. Without the baggage Abrams’ name (and Spielberg’s for that matter) carries, the film is a solid coming-of-age-boy-and-his-alien-friends-sticking-together-flick (The most convoluted movie sub-genre ever?).

I’m willing to surrender to the inevitable complete lack of originality in the films of the upcoming decade (and beyond) if they’re made this well. 


DOCTOR WHO’S NEXT?: 10 Picks For The Next Doctor

June 4, 2013

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Unless you live under a TARDIS, you know Matt Smith is quitting his tenure as the Doctor. Perhaps the only likely suspect who could get me to watch the next regeneration is Benedict Cumberbatch.

But, given his new Star Trek fame (and the fact he better damn well be concentrating on new Sherlock episodes), he’s a long shot. Also he’d be about as boring a status-quo Doctor as you could possibly squeeze out of the Dr. Who machine: tall, thin, dark and terribly British.

So who could break the Dr. Who mold? Here are my top-ten picks of people who probably won’t even be considered.

Doctor W judi-dench_2198108b1. Dame Judi Dench

The first name that came to my mind when I thought about possible Doctors-in-waiting was “Jude”. And, oddly, it wasn’t Jude Law. No, we’re talking The Dame. Not only would she be a hard-as-nails Doctor, she’d bring a much needed reserve to her portrayal of the famous Time Lord. Also, she could play the role as a bit of a grandmotherly figure, which could be an interesting dynamic. Sort of like a sci-fi Nanny McPhee. But let’s face it, though she played M in the James Bond films (proving she’s not shy of lowly “genre” work), she’s not going to do it. So why bother even entertaining the daydream?

doctor-w_helen-mirren-baftas-red-carpet-2013_12. Helen Mirren

Someone who might do it though, is UK television aluma Helen Mirren. And she might even be a better choice. Old enough to play that same grandmotherly angle, but young enough that we’d not be worried about her breaking a hip. We already know from Prime Suspect she can also do hard-as-nails and, from those RED movies, she can do whatever action is required by Dr. Who. As a bonus, she’s more suited than Dench to playing up the Doctor’s annoying “zany” side (while still dialing it way back, hopefully).

doctor-who-tildaswintonacnestudiosfall2013413. Tilda Swinton

When I think of the Doctor, I think, “What a weirdo.” When I think of Tilda Swinton, I think, “What an awesome weirdo.” Done and done. Other than the fact she might actually be a Time Lord in real life (or a member of some other alien race) and  might not want draw attention to that. Not that the Doctor has ever been terribly covert operator.

Doctor WhoTricky-260x2604. Adrian Thaws (Tricky)

So far I’ve been focusing on possible female actors to add a little much needed gender parity to the franchise. But, assuming they’re not going to make the Doctor a woman, how about a man who isn’t whiter-than-white? Tricky‘s done some underrated acting and is, like Tilda, a bit of a damn weirdo. I could listen to that odd marble-mouthed voice all day. Plus, his music career has been sputtering and stalling for the last decade and it’s been a bit painful to watch. Maybe a stint as the Doctor could help jump-start it again. Or just distract us from what’s become a perennial series of “come back album” failures.

Doctor Who Naveen+Andrews+Naveen+Andrews+Outside+London+ks8ixpwVmwWl5. Naveen Andrews

Yeah, Sayid from Lost. How about a suave and swarthy South Asian Doctor? It seems like an obvious choice for regeneration since this particular Time Lord is so freakin’ obsessed with being British every single time that he’d look to Jolly Old’s colonial past for inspiration. I know, I know, he couldn’t even choose to be ginger when he ended up as David Tennant, but still…

Doctor W dawn-french6. Dawn French

Considering how being “wacky” is apparently an entrenched character trait, a good Doctor should actually be played by a good comedian. And there aren’t many British comedians better than Dawn French. In fact, I think she might actually be my top pick on this list. If the producers would be brave enough to picture someone who is not male, not rail-thin and is over-40, French would be a perfect fit. In her career, she’s played characters who’ve displayed all the qualities required by a Doctor. Most importantly, when she acts goofy, unlike a certain someone named Christopher Eccleston, she’s entertaining to watch. That is, she induces laughter and not massive, full-body cringing.

doctor-who-lenny-7078238617. Lenny Henry

Equally funny, though not as versatile (from what I’ve seen), French’s ex-husband Lenny Henry would be an interesting over-40 choice. Personally, I’d like to see a Doctor with the kind of snarky, ballsy, cocksure, arrogant-to-a-fault attitude displayed by his Chef. Also, dude’s black. Win-win.

doctor-w-takei-sin108-523-2013-201108-high-jpg8. George Takei

Sure, the obvious Star Trek veteran to play the Doctor would be Sir Patrick Stewart. But maybe it’s time for an American actor to fill the role. Why always British? Why always straight? I don’t think I really have to make a case for why George Takei would be an amazing Doctor. You’re already nodding you head. Oh myyyy indeed.

doctor-w-katie-leung-7085910637_613a0bef6a9. Katie Leung

Likewise, the obvious Harry Potter alumni for the role would be Dan Radcliffe, or the more likely in need of work, Rupert Grint. But what about Katie Leung who played Cho Chang? Scottish and Asian! Okay, okay. She’s more an “affirmative action” choice here. She made no impression on me at all as Cho other than being oatmeal. So, really, she’d be perfect companion material. Spunky but kind of boring. There needs to be a little diversity on that side of the Dr. Who equation too, after all.

Doctor who Rowan Atkinson article_fa296ab40abfffed_1360325309_9j-4aaqsk10. Rowan Atkinson

Okay, if there has got to be a white guy in the list (since they’re obviously going to pick a white guy), how about Mr. Blackadder Bean? Like Dawn French and Lenny Henry, Rowan Atknison is a top-shelf comedian. And though we rarely get to see him not being a completely irritating clown, he can do straight as well as anyone (and also comedy that isn’t based on pulling stupid faces). It’s actually a crime against acting that his serious side hasn’t really been given its day in court. It’d be interesting to see the Doctor as an older, Oxford professor type as well. Leather patches on the elbows of his tweed jacket and all that. Maybe smokes a pipe and needs reading glasses. Dr. Who could be the role of his lifetime.


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