Monday, December 21, 2015

The Force Will Be With You, Always. No, like Literally, Dude.

Today marks the last day that my stream of consciousness will include only six Star Wars films. Tomorrow, I take my first step into a larger world. Or, more accurately, my seventh step. But who's counting? I mean, other than the execs over at Disney? Star Wars: The Force Awakens marks the seventh feature film in the now-legendary franchise, which is simultaneously an inspiring tale of hope and redemption and symbolic of a sort of uber-consumerism with merchandising tendrils worming their way from all manner of action figures to kitchen utensils and appliances to makeup. Fucking makeup!

Ever since George Lucas followed up his beloved original trilogy with the prequel trilogy, which received--to put it mildly--mixed reactions, the future of the saga remained a giant question mark. According to Lucas, his vision of Star Wars included a trilogy of trilogies and presumably orgies of cocaine and hookers dressed as wookies (at least you can always tell whether the walking carpet matches the drapes).

Saturday, December 19, 2015

Of Mercs and Men... Riddick Rides Again

In another world, Pitch Black and the iconic character Riddick might have been relegated to the realm of the one-hit wonder, and the truly frightening thing is that world isn't that different from this one. Only through the sheer willpower of director David Twohy, Vin "Riddick" Diesel, and a ragtag group of dedicated fans and social miscreants were further exploits of the infamous "escaped convict and murderer" committed to film (as well as a few video games to boot). If anybody had told me when it first came out that Pitch Black would spawn three sequels (Next one is in development. Can I get a "Fuck yeah!?") I probably would have stabbed you to death with a teacup.

In a move that came as a surprise to exactly no one, Twohy doubled down on the insanity for Chronicles of Riddick, thrusting Riddick into an intergalactic space adventure dealing not only with mercenaries but also alien elementals, a technologically advanced death cult, and Karl Urban's bizarre yet completely entrancing haircut. It's like if Star Wars had been written and directed by an escaped lunatic high on acid and Luke had been written as a homicidal, shiny-eyed rogue with a heart of gold and also violence.

Just like Pitch Black, Chronicles of Riddick begins with an opening voice over (by Dame Judy fucking Dench no less) so ludicrous and over the top that it can't help but grab your brain by the balls a pull you along for the ride. And with an introduction like this, you're all but guaranteed that the ride is going to be a wild one:

"They are an army unlike any other... crusading across the stars toward a place called UnderVerse, their promised land--a constellation of dark new worlds. Necromongers, they're called. And if they cannot convert you, they will kill you. Leading them, the Lord Marshal. He alone has made a pilgrimage to the gates of the UnderVerse... and returned a different being. Stronger. Stranger. Half alive and half... something else. If we are to survive, a new balance must be found. In normal times, evil would be fought by good. But in times like these, well, it should be fought by another kind of evil."

Tuesday, December 08, 2015

Batman V Superman V Captain America

For those of us who still haven't tired of watching superpowered (and not so superpowered, though Hawkeye has his uses) individuals boil down complex moral, social, and philosophical issues into basically a  case of who can punch harder, then the past decade or so has been a godsend. The future looks to be equally as fruitful, as heralded by the arrival of two trailers, one apiece for the upcoming Captain America: Civil War and Batman V Superman.

Ever since Iron Man blasted his way onto the silver screen all the way back in 2008, Marvel has slowly but surely been establishing its onscreen brand with a series of calculated moves like a well-played game of three-dimensional chess. Their path to cinematic superhero dominance is a carefully concocted sort of alchemy brewed by Marvel and Disney that involved slowly cultivating a cast of characters from over 75 years of source material, carefully and strategically translating it to the strange, new medium of motion pictures while developing a shared movie universe unlike anything that's come before. DC hired Christopher Nolan to make some Batman movies.

Monday, November 30, 2015

Once You Go Pitch Black, You Never Go Back

Pitch Black is a movie so ridiculous, so outlandish that it was bound to succeed gloriously, if only for those watching with the right eyes. It was absolutely a movie of its time, emblematic of everything that was great about movies and pop culture around the turn of the millennium. But it also had its own, unique voice, which it used to scream to the heavens and anybody else willing to listen.

The plot of Pitch Black is built on a series of events and improbabilities that skirt--and sometimes blow right through--the very boundaries of plausibility. Yet combined with the proper and proportionate dose of ambiguity and a complete dedication to its own demented trajectory, the result is so absurdly awesome that you really can't turn away.

You know that what you're going to be watching is going to be fucking awesome when the opening voice over goes something like this:

They say most of your brain shuts down in cryo-sleep. All but the primitive side, the animal side. No wonder I'm still awake. Transporting me with civilians. Sounded like 40, 40-plus. Heard an Arab voice. Some hoodoo holy man, probably on his way to New Mecca. But what route? What route? I smelt a woman. Sweat, boots, tool belt, leather. Prospector type. Free settlers. And they only take the back roads. And here's my real problem. Mr. Johns... the blue-eyed devil. Planning on taking me back to slam... only this time he picked a ghost lane. A long time between stops. A long time for something to go wrong...

Thursday, October 08, 2015

Who Ya Gonna Call? That Ship Has Probably Sailed Already...

As a huge cross-section of the movie-going population is already aware, audiences are soon to be subjected to yet another remake of a beloved cult/classic film, with Ghostbusters slated for release next summer. Except it’s not a remake, it’s a re-imagining, which is the current trend du jour in Hollywood for an increasing number of individuals and entities for whom the only goal is reaping boatloads of cold hard cash. In order to keep the conversation moving, it's important to make the distinction between three interrelated terms: remake, reboot, and re-imagining.

Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Legacy of the Twelve Colonies Volume II: Battlestar Galactica... Cross-Species Pollination and Burdens Laid Down

I like my television shows how I like my women: coherent, engaging, relatively free from plot holes, and benefiting from a strong narrative arc. Also, a healthy budget doesn't hurt either. Also, after diving into Battlestar Galactica, a love of cigars and fine liquors is also a plus. Also, strong doses of Katee Sackhoff are also basically a must. Being Katee Sackhoff is even better. Or maybe just a show about Katee Sackhoff taking names and kicking ass, or just kicking ass, or just doing whatever the fuck she wants to do because Starbuck is a fucking god.

After a strong start, I think it's safe to say that I did not find it too hard difficult to become completely immersed in Katee Sackhoff the world of the reborn Battlestar Galactica television series. As far as television sci-fi goes, it's hard to think of a real contender in recent years. It's as exciting as it is insightful, effectively dealing with moral, social, and political issues in a fairly nuanced way without any really definitive black or white answers, but more of a murky grey maybe flecked with, I don't know, whatever colour explosions are. Red and orange maybe. (I don't know, I've been watching a lot of Archer recently, and I totally can't help but read that last sentence in Archer's voice. I know, right?)

Thursday, June 11, 2015

Simon Pegg's Last Stand: Paying the Celluloid Price

Oh, you thought you could make a POINT BREAK remake
with no consequences? Lock and load, bitches...
Recently, the one and only Simon Pegg caused a bit of a stir in certain social circles due to some comments he made in an interview with the Radio Times and, subsequently, his follow-up comments on his website, which I discovered exists. Specifically, he made several comments in regards to the state of cinema today, especially the realm of science fiction and fantasy, which seemed to cause a great deal of butt hurt to residents of them thar parts. Before I even clicked on the click-baity article (I'm only mortal, after all), I was ready to chalk up all of the indignation and hurt butts to the current social default setting of Taking Offence To Everything. Then I read the brief snipits of the interview posted online and, as a huge fan of sci-fi and fantasy myself, couldn't help but begin to ruminate on his insights into these genres:

"Before Star Wars, the films that were box-office hits were The Godfather, Taxi Driver, Bonnie And Clyde and The French Connection--gritty, amoral art movies. Then suddenly the onus switched over to spectacle and everything changed... I don’t know if that is a good thing.

Sunday, May 31, 2015

Atomic Supermen and Geriatric Soldiers: Captain America, We Need a Hero

In recent years, the concept of security has become an increasingly popular topic in our collective consciousness, what with political and military unrest abroad, the seeming rise in terrorist activity both international and domestic, and a whole host of other atrocities like school shootings and the various unnecessary death of non-white citizens at the hands of their much paler police brethren that seem to be plaguing the United States like some kind of..., well, plague.

Though on the forefront of our consciousness, there has been very little actual rumination from the common folk, or really anyone in the upper echelons of our governments and world leaders, and the Band-Aid solutions they usually slap on the most recent wound inflicted at worst are completely ineffective and at best mostly ineffective.  Perhaps highlighted best by the Patriot Act, the discourse surrounding security seems to have drifted more and more towards some strange social economy where capital in the form of freedom must be exchanged in greater and greater amounts to achieve higher and higher levels of safety. The problem with this particular paradigm is that, taken to its ultimate conclusion, the only way we can achieve Total Safety (the abandoned and admittedly less action-packed sequel to TOTAL RECALL) is by bankrupting the Bank of Civil Liberties, which may be the only bank in the Western world that may never be deemed too big to fail. While it is true that you can keep your dick free of sexually transmitted infections by keeping it in a hermetically sealed, temperature-controlled, fragrance-enhanced plastic enclosure with a tube up your urethra for proper drainage, it wouldn't be all that conducive to fucking, which is a fairly self-defeating system.

Wednesday, April 29, 2015

The Search for Leonard Nimoy

Leonard Nimoy is gone, and there's almost nothing we can do about it.

I remember lying in bed one night as a child, my parents tucking me in as was their way, with no shortage of whiskey and depraved tales of suburban invasions by crazed rural folk who had stuck it rich with "black gold," clutching a toy I had scammed off of some kid from school in one of the few standout moments of my elementary school career.  It wasn't until later I would learn the social significance of the toy I had grifted; it was a die-cast model of the USS Enterprise NCC-1701-D.  Shortly thereafter, my mother began schooling me in the geeky arts of science fiction, not the least of which included the increasingly expanding Star Trek universe.  Star Trek would eventually become not only a viable source of entertainment but also open the door to an entire sub-culture of which I am still proud to count myself a member of, if only in the slightest sense these days.  It would come to serve as a source of inspiration to a budding imagination, provide a place of solace in the turbulent social storm of adolescence, and have a subtle yet profound impact on my sexual awakening (Counselor Troi, oh yeah).

Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Over the Lips and Down the Cape: Indie Film Making and a Regime of Counterfeit Communists

Whoops, I think this might
be the wrong cape...
I don't believe in fate; I believe in the Internet.  So when some random dude messaged me on Twitter asking me to review some micro-budget indie film, I felt a strange compulsion to follow that path no matter where it might lead.  I was slightly relieved that the whole thing didn't turn out to be some kind of clandestine campaign to proliferate some variety of softcore amateur porn in a bid to "make it big" as they say in the industry.  While the democratization of information enabled by the digital age is (mostly) a marvel to behold, I think the world has more than its fair share of pasty white middle-aged meatbags from the basement of some old farmhouse in Iowa sharing their particular brand of love with webcam quality images etched forever onto the retinas and brains of a (mostly) unsuspecting audience.

So, of course, my first instinct--as is the case with most people--was to completely abandon my beliefs at the first sign of even the slightest inconvenience. I replied with an enthusiastically noncommittal answer of course, the Twitter equivalent of a one-night stand, a linguistic "quickie" like the ones we give to homeless people begging for change or the apologies celebrities give the rest of us. I wouldn't qualify myself as an asshole of epic proportions, but it definitely did occur to me to agree to watch this budding young director's work and then fucking ignore him for the rest of my natural life. I guess I would say I'm more of an asshole of modest aspirations.

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Interview With the Devil: Exit Wounds In the Torso of Democracy

Ever since 9/11, the common fallback cultural hyperbole in the Western world has been the facilitation of the victory of terrorism.

"If you don't fuck that hot blonde and her sister, you are literally letting the terrorists win."

"Every time you refer to a Freedom Fry as a French Fry, then the terrorists have already won."

"Sweetheart, if you don't brush your teeth before you go to bed, then you're basically a terrorist and you're supporting their bloody reign of terror against everything that is good and pure about Democracy.  Now, go say goodnight to your mother before I ship you off to Guantanamo Bay."

It seems absurd to think that anybody outside of a small group of key players in the military-industrial complex (or, of course, any person or group wishing to perpetrate bloody acts of carnage against other human beings) could have any discernible impact on terrorism one way or the other.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Bullseye: Walking Dead in the Wake of Retail Failure

The tramp stamp of the retail world.
It was with a perverted sort of curiosity that I wandered into the nearest Target this past Thursday.  After just two agonizing years attempting to expand its financial reach into the Great White North, the retail giant is heading back to the good ol' US of A with its tail tucked firmly between its legs and short one overpaid CEO.  It was all eerily familiar, what with Canadian retail staple Zellers closing its doors just before Target moved into the neighbourhood.  In fact, Target bought up many of Zellers' previous locations when they advanced their troops northwards, so for many outposts, this would mark the second time that their regiment had abandoned them in the face of an insurmountable enemy.  Historically speaking, this is what you would call "the old one-two."

All of the vultures had been circling for sometime by the time word finally came down the ranks this week: Store closing. Liquidation.  Everything must go.  Dutifully, I took my place among the flock, and swooped in as much for the potential deals as for my own morbid fascination with the death of this retail god and the fate of all of his acolytes.  I typically try to avoid making eye contact with sales associates in any store, as I prefer to shop freestyle, but this time was different.  I tried to drink in as much as I could, tried to read what was going on behind the dead eyes of these walking damned roaming the store, answering questions from all the squawkers about price reductions while facing the liquidation of their own future.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

We're the Guardians of the Galaxy, Bitch: Hearts and Legs Stolen, Ancient Ruins Plundered

It turns out that the largest obstacle that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY had to overcome also turned out to be its saving grace.  What GUARDIANS had going both for and against it was a thick veil of obscurity (outside of a very tight, very virginal cabal of hardcore comic book adherents).  On the one hand, obscurity--anonymity's step-brother--is a barrier to achieving glory.  It's a pit you have to kind of claw your way out of, inch by inch, until you reach the top and start shouting your name at the top of your lungs until people begin to recognize or you get locked up in an insane asylum with an all-you-can-eat smorgasbord of electric shock therapy and the drooling faces of doomed souls.  On the other hand, obscurity can act as a shield against preconceived notions, giving you the freedom to create yourself in whatever or whoever's image you are so inclined, even if it's a cybernetic, anthropomorphic raccoon.

If you had told me a year ago that I would be trying to reconcile the fact that not only might GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY be my favourite Marvel movie so far but also one of my favourite movies from 2014, I probably would have punched you in the face, gouged out your eyes and used them as dice, and fucked your sister without so much as a phone call the next morning.  Luckily for those in proximity to me, GUARDIANS turned out to be great.  Which worked out well, because I already have boxes full of eye-dice in my basement I'm still trying to figure out how to store effectively.

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Legacy of the Twelve Colonies Volume I: Battlestar Galactica... Sex, Guns, and the Apocalypse

I was raised on a steady diet of sci-fi (and Whoop-Ass, a can of which a day is conducive to keeping away all manner of punk-ass bitches), though for a short while I underwent a definite nutritional deficiency. I never bottomed out completely, but for a time, I was most certainly not getting my daily recommended dose of science fiction, and all of the health benefits that such a regime typically provides. It was really kick-started again a few years ago with the double-shot of Mass Effect 2 and Mass Effect 3, the second and third installments in the beloved (except for the ending, apparently) video game franchise sensation. Besides being catapulted to one of my top ten trilogies of anything in any medium, the Mass Effect series also ushered in my own personal Sci-Fi Renaissance (think RENAISSANCE MAN but with less military training and more sitting on my ass on the couch watching movies and playing video games, slightly less Danny DeVito, and basically a lack of anything that even vaguely resembling the archetypal ‘90s comedy except the name).

My reborn, ravenous appetite had some pleasant side-effects, such as a willingness to expand my horizons, the most notable case of which involved overcoming my irrational hatred of Joss Whedon and discovering Firefly, which turned out to be incredibly awesome. Another sci-fi narrative/phenomenon that has been on my radar for some time is the remade/rebooted/reimagined Battlestar Galactica series that ran from 2004 to 2009. (Incidentally, Tricia Helfer, who featured heavily in the Mass Effect series as EDI is also one of the leads in Battlestar Galactica, which was another reason to throw myself into the fray.) The show was developed in large part by one Ronald D. Moore, whose Star Trek pedigree gives him all kinds of street cred on the proper street, which just happened to be one I had frequented all too often in my youth and then basically took up permanent residence on.

Friday, January 09, 2015

2014 Greatest Hits: No Prisoners Taken, No Quarter Given

This is kind of a cleanup of sorts.  With only limited resources of time and effort, I am, unfortunately, unable to write about everything I would like to write about.  I try not to clog the pipes with too much personal bullshit because, despite a brief stint as a transvestite jewel thief in Indonesia, I'm not exactly the most interesting man in the world.  On the other hand, if your life is so fucking boring that even you can't be bothered to try and immortalize yourself in some way, then you've got even bigger problems.  So now I'm going to take this opportunity to kind of blow my 2014 load all at once and mention a few, memorable things and leave you to clean my word-jizz off of your brain later (at your earliest convenience, Jeeves).  So here's my 2014 Top 10 Countdown in no particular order:

1) Finishing my Master's Degree

There are no guarantees in life, but it's probably a safe bet to make that, odds are, I am quantifiably smarter than you.  And most people, for that matter.  Luckily, I'm also incredibly humble, so I don't let my brilliance go to my head.  There are some who tout a degree from the School of Hard Knocks as an unparalleled academic achievement, and while such scholarly pursuits do have their merits, there's also a lot to be said from actual quantifiable achievements from an accredited university that lets you put some fancy letters beside your name on a resume.  Also, I can't retroactively go back and make my life any shittier in order to claim the moral high ground, so I'll have to settle for forging ahead with my graduate degree trying to carve out a larger slice of the financial pie.  And probably some hookers and blow for good measure.