Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Hollyweirdland, TRON 2.0, and Clash of the Titans

Hollyweirdland seems to be the "tread on me" capital of the world. Just when an audience has almost forgotten a TV series or movie existed they dredge it up, smack it around like a ghetto pimp beating on a runaway, then turn it out wearing flimsy tarted up threads to make money for them. Alas Hollyweird's track record with banking on nostalgia with remakes and "re-envisioned" movies seems to be a 10:1 ratio of high-quality mediocre crap to decent well craft entertainment.

Alas you can never tell which end of the ratio a movie will fall in as there's good movies that get ruined by the biblical flood of hype Hollyweird inundates the public with. This can be a problem as some remakes should probably not publicize their cast while those lesser known 'properties' that could use the publicity never get it.

For instance mention the LAND OF THE LOST movie on certain forums and fanbois will descend on your post like the wrath of G-d out of the old testament. And all because Will Ferrell was cast as the father. For those who don't know Land of the Lost was an 70s series that most of us probably never thought would get the movie treatment. And not just because it originally aired on Saturday morning television between 1974 to 1976, LotL was fairly campy. Considering Hollyweird appears to have dropped the ball on announced movie projects for CONAN, RED SONJA, and even Edgar Rice Burrough's John Carter of Mars it's baffling to see what sort of movies do get green lit.

Tron came out in 1982, is probably all but forgotten by a very small niche group of fans, yet it's getting the remake treatment. (Not complaining!) But what sort of movie will Disney's TRON 2.0 be? Just look at some recent article headlines. .

Supermodel Serinda Swan Added To "Tron 2.0" Cast

You add a supermodel for one of two reasons. 1) to add sex appeal, or 2) to generate controversy about sex appeal to stir up the media to generate free PR ala articles like. .

Just How Sexy Will Tron 2 Get?, which speculates "This may not be your daddy's Tron, if an interview with one actress who appears in the Disney sequel is to be believed." But they also note "This could get ooky pretty quick." Other headlines grab you right away without any subtlety Serinda Swan Is One Of Four Temptresses In Tron 2.0.

Yet these articles are little more than short fluff pieces written around the following quote (apparently taken from a TV Guide article): "Yeah. Beau Garrett (Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer), these two other actresses and I play temptresses from inside the computer world. We're sort of the main guy's go-to girls. There are lights actually sewn into our wardrobe, so it's like nothing you've seen before!"

But it's not all bad. TRON 2.0 has largely been embraced by the fans. Sadly for every TRON 2.0 there's those 10 other movie remake tragedies. Movies like THE FOG, PROM NIGHT, THE AMITYVILLE HORROR, PLANET OF THE APES, CHARLIE AND THE CHOCOLATE FACTORY, THE PINK PANTHER, HOUSE OF WAX, GODZILLA, THE WICKER MAN, or the oft criticized PSYCHO. None of which were heralded with much glee by fans of the originals. And notice that list doesn't even touch on the numerous TV series movie retreads or announced remakes that may, or may not, be in production. Remakes for such diverse movies as: Karate Kid, Footloose, True Grit, Ben-Hur, or Clash of the Titans. The latter apparently having Gemma Arterton just announced as joining the cast which, humorously, according to the article in that link, currently consists of her and Sam Worthington (Perseus).

Considering I remember posting about the Clash of the Titans remake- and the not-quite-backlash but concern it was going to turn into a CGI crapfest- at least a year or two ago one wonders what sort of fanboi backlash this will generate if it ever actually gets into the production stage. Hopefully nothing as bad as that surrounding Glen A. Larson's announcement of a desire to do a Battlestar Galactica movie. Truly, Hollweirdland seems to be the "tread on me" capital of the world.

#End of Line

Monday, March 30, 2009


The Movie: Cyberjack (aka Virtual Assasin)

Year: 1995

Director: Robert Lee

Cast: Michael Dudikoff, Suki Kaiser, Brion James, Jon Cuthbert, James Thom, Topaz Hasfal-Schou, Garvin Cross, Dean McKenzie, Duncan Fraser, et al.

MPAA Rating: R

Format Viewed: DVD (R1)

Premise: Evil corporation invents a super computer virus. Terrorists seek to gain the virus to use it for their own ends with only a janitor to stand in their way. Can he save the day?

The Reality: BLADRUNNER meets DIE HARD in a wannabe JOHNNY MNEMONIC future world where villain Brion James seeks the ultimate computer virus with no one in his way but ex-cop turned janitor Michael Dudikoff.

The Story: Cop gets involved in a shooting. Has problems. Ends up working as a janitor at a tech company. Hooligans invade seeking to steal tech. Cop turned janitor must overcome his demons and face down the hooligans to save the high tech McGuffin in this run-of-the-mill action potboiler.

Assessment/ Verdict: This week's end review analysis is a bit unusual. Rather than the usual attempts at witty riposte we'll be examining the difference between two different DVD releases of this same movie.

DVD #1: This DVD was purchased at Big Lots for the princely sum of $3. The title in the opening credits is "Cyberjack" and the label is Echo Bridge Home Entertainment*. Overall a decent budget label release. Contrast levels seem a tad dark but, beside suffering the sort of minor 80s era DTV problems, the video appears pretty good. Audio is crisp and clear and the "extras" include chapter stops and a trailer for the movie. Now compare to. .

DVD #2: Found this DVD at a Flea Market for $2. It was released by Lion's Gate Home Entertainment as "Virtual Assassin" and appears to be otherwise identical to the Echo Bridge release. However this is a barebones DVD without so much as single promo trailer or chapter stop. Worse, on some players, if you try to skip forward because you erroneously assumed there were chapter stops this DVD forces you to sit through it's lame anti-piracy intro all over again. Lame.

My verdict is Cyberjack is a clichéd derivative barely worth the $5 (unless you're a hardcore Brion James fan). But if you can find it in the bargain bin for less or, better yet, are able to talk a friend into renting it then it's worth watching once; if only for the VFX cut scenes.

(*) According to the jacket cover. The DVD says Platinum Disc Corp.


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Speculations: Buck Rogers

Feeling nostalgic about science fiction, especially after recently posting about Dirk Benedict and Battlestar Galactica, I got to pondering things Buck Rogers. What sort of movie might director Frank Miller give us? Remembering that I posted a speculative outline for a re-envisioned Buck Rogers some time ago I decided to dust off that bit of fluff. Hope you find my speculative pseudo fan-boy article entertaining. - CM

Re-envisioning a pulp sci-fi series that's enjoyed multiple incarnations over the years in various media formats from the pulps to comic books, the small screen to the big screen seems simple. Alas so many remakes fall short of expectations it's obviously not as simple as us armchair critics may think. The first step, perhaps, is to just start fresh. Given recent technological advances and scientific breakthroughs a totally new and updated version of any science fiction yarn from yesteryear could only be made better with a update, if only because it'll the projected vision of the far distant future will extrapolate from contemporaty modern theory.

But where to begin?

Building on the basic story and series premise let's move on to casting. Thus without further adieu . .


In the year 2087 the ISA (International Space Administration) launches it's first official "World Peace" mission to Mars. The joint venture sees Captain "Buck" Rogers piloting the "Endeavor 1" Mars probe. However something goes terribly wrong. The ship and crew are lost in a freak mishap.

Fast forward to the year 2458 and the re-discovery of the battered, yet intact, Endeavor 1 probe. The ship, now encased in ice, is initially mistaken for a comet. A comet that happens to be on a collision course for Earth. . .



In the year 2092 the ISA (International Space Administration) on the anniversary of the first "World Peace" mission to Mars sends a "deep space probe" out to explore the Oort cloud. The joint venture sees Captain "Buck" Rogers piloting the "Endeavor 1" which, for the first, has it's human crew in "cryogenic suspension"; thus allowing them to make the trip while conserving resources. However something goes terribly wrong. The Endeavor and her crew are lost in a freak mishap.

Fast forward to the year 2458 and the re-discovery of the battered, yet intact, Endeavor 1 probe. The ship, now encased in ice, is initially mistaken for a comet. A comet that happens to be on a collision course for Earth. . .

Those are just two possible intro hooks. Obviously I'm patterning these loosely off the 80s TV series. Whatever the intro hook is the story would proceed with:


Endeavor 1's course is coincidentally following the same trajectory as Princess Ardala's vessel. Ardala, who is an official envoy on a mission to Earth, is shocked and dismayed when it is revealed the comet is not what it appears to be. She orders the vessel brought aboard and it's crew thawed out. Unfortunately this leads to a series of misunderstandings that end with a confrontation which leaves most of Endeavors crew wounded or dead, and perhaps one member of Ardala's royal entourage.

Buck (at least) escapes, but only after an intense one on one cat fight scene with Ardala that leaves more than the character's egos bruised. Of course such a slight against a Royal Princess can't be left unpunished! But what will Ardala do? How will Buck be received back on Earth? What does this mean for galactic peace?

The above merely represents one possible intro hook. There's dozens of other ways a new movie or series could start. However, for nostalgia's sake, I kept to the basic themes of the 80s series. Now what actors to have playing which parts?


Cast (Neo-Classic Movie/Series):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . Jeffrey Donovan (or Adam Baldwin)
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Yvonne Strahovski
Dr. Huer. . . Sendhil Ramamurthy (or Richard Gant)
Princess Ardala. . . Hayden Panettiere (or Tricia Helfer)
Ardala's Father. . . Dean Stockwell (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Adam Baldwin
Tiger Man. . .Ray Stevenson
Panther Woman #1. . . Erin Brown (Misty Mundae)
Panther Woman #2. . . Rena Riffel

The above is an interesting line-up. Here are some of the best character actors from recent and current television series and B-movies. The only real problem is deciding whether to cast Adam Baldwin as hero or villain, he does both well. OTOH here is the cast I chose for a poster mock-up (see below). .

Cast (80s Series re-cast):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . Christian Bale
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Yvonne Strahovski
Princess Ardala. . . Cote de Pablo
Zarina. . . Nicole Kidman

Just looking at that Christian Bale and Yvonne Strahovski are perfect fits for the characters, if you were looking to re-make the 80s series. But would Christian Bale be willing to do a TV series? Alas probably not. So how about this cast. .

Cast (Neo-Classic w/ UK Flair):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . John Barrowman
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Eve Myles
Dr. Huer. . . David McCallum
Princess Ardala. . . Billie Piper
Ardala's Father. . . Jeremy Irons (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Gordon Ramsey
["Buddy" Wade. . Chris Kattan]

Many of these actors have appeared in Torchwood; a series with one of the better ensemble casts that a BBC production has produced in a while. (The series spun-off from the Dr. Who series.) However when I came to the role of Killer Kane the one person that immediately came to mind was chef Gordon Ramsey (Hell's Kitchen), and while he's not an actor he'd make a wonderfully intimidating Killer Kane.

Cast (Re-Envisioned Neo-Classic Blockbuster Version):
Wilma "Buck" Rogers. . . Kate Beckinsdale
Colonel William Deering. . . Christian Bale
Dr. Huer. . . Donald Sutherland
Princess Ardala. . . Rebecca Gayheart (or Cote de Pablo)
Ardala's Father. . . Ian McNeice (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Tobias Menzies

With inverted gender roles it's time to have some fun. Sticking with actors from recent movies and/or series in the roles we still have a decent cast. Kate Beckinsdale is a respectable action star but she may be overshadowed by Christian Bale and Donald Sutherland, actors with strong masculine presences onscreen. So. .

Cast (Neo-Classic Hollywood Blockbuster Version):
Anthony William "Buck" Rogers. . . Brendan Fraser
Colonel Wilma Deering. . . Kate Beckinsale
Dr. Huer. . . Donald Sutherland
Princess Ardala. . . Michelle Rodriguez
Ardala's Father. . . Christopher Lee (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . The Rock
Tiger Man. . .Danny Woodburn
Panther Woman #1. . . Cote de Pablo
Panther Woman #2. . . Pauley Perrette

This time she's Col. Deering. Also returning are the "Pather Women" (see below). Brendan Fraser may not be the first actor that comes to mind when you envision Buck Rogers but his naïve charm and rugged façade could take the character in interesting directions. Or, if you really want to go whole hog and do this as an speedball of action how about. .

Cast (Re-Envisioned Hollywood Blockbuster Version):
Wilma "Buck" Rogers. . . Angelina Jolie
Colonel William Deering. . . Brad Pitt
Dr. Huer. . . George Clooney
Princess Ardala. . . Jennifer Anniston (or Jessica Alba)
Ardala's Father. . . Christopher Lee (cameo)
Killer Kane. . . Mickey Rourke (or The Rock)
Tiger Woman. . . Cote de Pablo
Panther Boy #1. . . Daniel Radcliffe
Panther Boy #2. . . Kellan Lutz
Comic Relief Sidekick. . . Demetri Martin

Basically it's Mr. & Ms. Smith in space. Gun-fu, CGI, and George Clooney. What more could Hollywood want (besides the souls of virgins)?

Notes and Sundry:

* Tigerman: Be interesting to cast totally against "type" and go with someone unexpected like David Tennant or Andy Dick.

* Calling a woman "Buck" may seem strange but it wont be, because here the character will be a non-conformist type who bucks the system, thus her nickname.

* The "Panther Women" is just an idea to expand Ardala's personal body guard to including females body guards/servants that attend her in chambers.

* The "Tiger Boys" would be similar to the above, pretty boy attendants, probably eunuchs. But only in the Hollywood re-envisioning. ;-)

#end of line

Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Words Have Meaning

I know it doesn't seem that way, especially in this age of 24 hour non-stop media, where politicians use weasel lawyer speak to debate what the meaning of "is is" and barely literate youths text each other with strings of nonsense characters that form their own barely coherent slang, but this is NOT something we should be celebrating. That any corporate entity would embrace this dumbing down of our culture is appalling. For in embracing a lack of respect for the written word, and the empowering knowledge that words bring, it demonstrates an abysmal indifference to society. In one fell move NBC Universal has said that literacy doesn't matter.

Yet, with the announcement that the Sci-Fi Channel is changing it's moniker to a name better suited to use as slang for syphilis, I began to ponder if, perhaps, the disconnect between "commercial" broadcast series and/or movies and the print medium that gave birth to scientifiction, the grandfather of the science fiction genre, wasn't perhaps far more egregious. Originally science fiction was an ill defined genre that seemed to be found only in the pulps, being the cheapjack magazines of yesteryear. The writing was formulaic, many of the stories not exactly innovative, yet, somehow, the genre flourished and grew and evolved. Science fiction is a popular literary medium that has impacted society. It has created the basic tropes and memes that continue to be recycled as clichés in everything from campy comic books to big budget space opera movies.

There is a vast science fiction fan base in the world. We don't ask for much. So long as a movie and/or series is decent and not designed by a marketing department to pander to the tween angst emo demographic with dumbed down monosyllabic catch phrases and blatant product placement we're relatively content. Alas intelligence doesn't seem to be on the checklist of things movies and/or series are supposed to have these days. Rather the studio executives seem to forgo common sense in favor of throwing money at marketing firms looking for a "hook" to reel in an audience.

Battlestar Galactica was but a drop of water in the vast ocean that is science fiction. There's a LOT of other "properties" with fanbases. Why not a Lensmen series? Why not a Gor series? Or how about a series set on Barsoom?

True BSG had/has a vocal fanbase, but most of those are fans with crossover interests in other things science fiction. The backlash from the miniseries, I think, proved just how the suits miscalculated. But that aside even if in ten years time the series, in retrospect, is deemed to be only half as good as people currently think it is just imagine how much better it could have been; if only. .

I apologize for the non sequitur, even though it's a perfect illustration of the problem at hand.

In closing I'd just like to reiterate that "SyFy" is a meaningless nonsense word that sounds more like pejorative gutter slang for syphilis. Now, world, I implore you, stop doing stupid things so I can get back to posting movie reviews!

Thank you.

#end of line

Monday, March 16, 2009

As Battlestar Galactica ends so, too, does the Sci-Fi Channel

When I first read about this I thought it was a joke and, honestly, still kind of hope it is. Or at least a faux press release because what I am about to tell you takes stupid to a new low, beats it to a bloody pulp, then drags it into the basement of absurdity and smacks it around some more.

For years the science fiction community has been wailing and gnashing their teeth hoping that the suits at NBC Universal, the parent corporation of The Sci-Fi Channel would hear their pleas and make a change. The Sci-Fi Channel has been a virtual wasteland of crap programming. It's not just the brunt of jokes it is a joke. Well it appears someone decided to do more than just bail out on a golden parachute. Though what the suits in charge decided to do is basically drop their trousers and prove, once and for all, that they don't care. According to Sci-Fi Wire and as corroborated with the NY Times and Reuters the Sci-Fi Channel is changing it's name to Syfy:

"SCI FI Channel is evolving into Syfy, beginning this summer, Dave Howe, president, SCI FI, announced today."

"NBC Universal-owned cable network will become SyFy starting in June."

Why this ludicrous change to a moniker that sounds like an venereal disease and rhymes with silly? Well, according to the NY Times:

"The tweaking of the Sci Fi name, introduced in 1992, is part of a rebranding campaign that seeks to distinguish the channel and its programming from cable competitors"

Isn't there also a Sci-Fi channel in the UK? One wonders if this will affect it. (Probably not as that channel is probably run competently.) But what can you say about a network whose executives have treated their channel as little more than a toilet in which to dump the cheapest, lamest, smelliest refuse programming that comes their way? This "re-branding" only proves they have never [seriously] cared about the genre. Perhaps this will be a good thing. Maybe someone with integrity and heart will step up to fill the void these soulless minions of mammon have left once the corpse of The Sci-Fi Channel finally dissolves away.

According to Reuters:

"The changes attempt to address longtime marketing goals at the network, as well as practical challenges that have stemmed from using a generic term as a brand name."

Contemptible. This was a no-brainer. The "goal" and "market" was encapsulated in the channel name. SCI-FI! Changing the name isn't going to make the channel better as it's going to be in the hands of the same uncaring idiots who couldn't seem to grasp the simplest concept of what science fiction was, is, and could be much less what type of programming a channel dedicated to the science fiction genre should be broadcasting. If you can't grasp that then, honestly, shouldn't you just collect your Darwin award and exit stage left? Viz:

"Though at first blush more fantastical-looking than the current name, "SyFy" aims to telegraph that the channel is a unique destination without being so different from the current title as to lose the network's core familiarity."

The suits don't get it how is changing the name going to improve upon that fact? You can't help but shake your head when reading that. It is like NBC Universal has hired the clueless to lead the blind. The suits don't just not get it they don't want to find out how to understand it because, to them, science-fiction is a waste of time. How else to explain the following:

According to SciFi Wire: ""Imagine Greater" will become the new brand message and tagline, inviting both consumers and advertisers into a new era of unlimited imagination, exceptional experiences and greater entertainment."

This from the fools that have programmed such wonderfully imbecilic filler programming as wrestling, ghost chasers, and zero budget horror movies that wouldn't scare anyone in an post-traumatic stress ward?

But what do I know. Honestly these guys get the big money, not me, not fans of the genre, and if they say an audience is out there for this garbage I guess they must be right. And darn if they aren't going to completely drive the Sci-Fi Channel, er, silly-fuss, uhm, psy-fey, whatever into the ground trying to prove how right they are. But you, and I, don't have to give in to human nature and watch the coming train wreck. Do we?

Honestly I hope the above reports are part of some massive fraud perpetrated on the public. It's just that stupid. Alas all the criticisms I've aired above are true. So, NBC Universal, if you're out there please, whatever you do or don't decide to rename your cable entity currently called The Sci-Fi Channel please, for the sake of sanity, buy a book- do NOT use GOOGLE or a WIKI- about science fiction and give it to the execs at the channel.

Thank you.

#End of line

Wednesday, March 11, 2009

Galactica Saga is coming!

Greetings All,

Cosmic Cinema's very own fanfic series will be appearing here soon. It is a work of fiction inspired by, and set in, Glen A. Larson's Battlestar Galactica universe. I hope you enjoy it.

Kind Regards,

Kester Pelagius


P.S. If I could create a teaser promo for the fanfic, it might look something like this:


A pinpoint of shimmering light appears in the vastness of interstellar space. It is an ugly crimson. Red like blood but churning with the menace of liquid fire. It begins to flash and move side to side.
(Start Cyclon sound effect.)

Extreme close-up.
(CSI-like effect into the light and through to: )

An explosion bright as a star.
The light fades revealing smaller pin pricks of light.
Each light is a ship. Each ship is engaged in combat.

NARRATION (female voice): They say no one remembers how the war began. We sent out our first exploratory vessels thousands of yahren ago, because we knew we weren't alone. We had no idea how those first fateful encounters would shape life in the Colonies.

A single discordant note chimes. A pause then (suddenly) the Battlestar Galactica them begins to play as the titles scroll with the words "GALACTICA SAGA" in the familiar font followed by "Phoenix Rising" in flames then, all color fading, out of the flames bursts the prow of a vessel shaped like a winged avian. It flys straight into center screen as a shriek sounds to end the title sequence.


Montage of space combat.

NARRATION (different female voice): They say no one remembers how the war began. But we know how long it's been depleting our resources, taking the lives of our noble warriors: a thousand yahrens. That's a long time. Perhaps that's why we were so eager to see it end. So eager to believe. . . Until we were betrayed.


A dimly lit corridor filled with smoke.
Sounds of blaster fire as a man's voice yells indistinct orders.
Suddenly two figures appear. One goes down (a colonial warrior, male) the other (a woman dressed, barely, as a socialator) picks up the fallen warriors blaster just as a cylon appears in the corridor.


Montage of socialtor and colonial warrior (female with pulse rifle) running through hazy corridors, cylons exploding, fires erupting out of air vents until . .
The following words appear on screen:


NARRATION (voiced simultaneously): Are you ready to find out how we helped put an end to the cylon tyranny?

(Cue library sound of Apollo: Let's go!)



#end of line

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Life is like a Box of Chocolates

There's plenty to like and dislike and all flavors in between.

Sadly if you type the word "doom" into Google news search these days you will likely get over eleven thousand hits. The first page seems to be full of gloomy news either about how bad the economy is, headlines heralding pending doom for the economy, or articles about how bad things are and how this, that, and the other thing are failing in these troubled times. Nothing new. Been going on for a while. But when I saw this headline:

Chimps Plotting Our Doom

My reaction wa O-M-G W-T-F that's enough I'm sick of this sh!t!

I don't even know what the article is about. I didn't bother to read it. It just happens to be the proverbial last straw.

Time is change. Once motion pictures were heralded as the harbinger of doom for traditional entertainment media, meaning theatrical stage productions, but it quickly became a popular, yet different, media co-existing with theatre. Then came along television, which had movie moguls and filmmakers panties all in a bunch, everyone swore and protested saying television would kill movies. But television and movie theaters are both still around. If history is any indication the doomsayers are, in a word, buttheads. In two words, moronic egoists that just like to hear themselves talk. They love to shout how the sky if falling, how the world is coming to an end, yet the morning always comes. It always will. Get over yourselves.

How long has it been since the new media of Betamax was vying with VHS for dominance of the home entertainment market? Now most younger videophiles probably barely remember those formats as HD-DVD is the current fading failed media format memory. It has left Blu-Ray to compete with standard def DVD for, according to the doomsayers, an ever decreasing market share. Of course the fact retailers are refusing to stock anything but studio product, which is all Blu-Ray seems to have at the moment, isn't to blame. Never mind that 99.999% of Hollywood's output these days is lame garbage. That can't possibly be why sales are affected or why people aren't going to theaters, it's obviously the economy. So say the doomsayers.

Yet it was not that long ago people were debating the merits of CED over LD discs, all long since gone the way of the dodo. Sales weren't good for LD but it held on for a number of years as an high end (meaning over priced) niche market for videophones with quantities of 'disposable income'.

Detecting a pattern yet?

Life is change. Sadly, in this age of victim culture where no one is responsible for anything, it seems that too many people aren't able to come to grips with reality. They've got their politically correct blinders on and refuse to admit there's a mountain of garbage in their backyard. Thus the garbage continues to pile up and all they want to do is complain about how bad the air smells. Alas instead of picking up a shovel to do something constructive the doomsayers just gesticulate wildly like rabid two year olds looking for attention. Well let me just remind you that certain fringe fundamentalist televangelical types have been heralding the END OF DAYS for decades. It's always imminent, always near, yet never arrives.

World I'd like you to look the doomsayers in their beady little eyes and repeat after me:


So say we all.

#end of line

Monday, March 9, 2009

Return of a Pulp Sci-Fi Hero

After stumbling across that archive of the (front page) story from the October 1978 issue of People magazine on Battlestar Galactica I decided to see if any of the other obscure sci-fi series from my youth had articles online. Sadly, aside from an article about Erin Gray, my Google-fu didn't turn up much else for any other obscure short run series besides Buck Rogers at the above site. However I did stumble across a few interesting news articles about potential new Buck Rogers productions elsewhere:

Drawing the Future: Carlos Rafael on Buck Rogers - An interesting article with sketches from a planned new Buck Rogers comic coming from Dynamite this May. Don't know if it's going to be a series as they're calling it Buck Rogers #0 and that sounds like a one-shot gimmick to me. But then I've not collected comic books in years. Maybe it's an attempt to cash in on:

Buck Rogers to reawake in the 21st century - Apparently Frank Miller has plans to do a Buck Rogers movie. Then again according to this earlier article (Back to the Future) the comic's been in the planning stages for at least a year. Here's an interesting tidbit of information from the latter:

"NRAMA: Finally, given that both you and Frank Miller are working on Buck Rogers around the same time, with you in comics and Miller in film, are you looking at keeping your versions coordinated?

NB: When it comes to the film they're two different beasts and I'm certain that Frank's vision of the film, and where the technology will allow them to go, will be much different than what we do in the comics. If there are similarities, that will be great but we wouldn't expect them to follow what we're doing as it’s taken us a bit to get to where we’re at. Each medium will live on its own. I'm also not sure how far they've gotten into the film, whether they would have materials to show us if and when the time is right and if it's a possibility we would like to look at it."

I think this is all really good news. There's been a dearth of good old fashioned pulp sci-fi heroes out there. There's a Buck Rogers revival underway and I, for one, think it's long overdue. With a new comic and movie pending I have hopes there may be a new television series in the offing. Now if it can only stay out of the claws of those brain dead zombies running the Sci-Fi channel. While their "original movies" have been showing signs of improvement their series have not. Too, with their re-envisioned Battlestar Galactica series in it's last episodes, there's a sci-fi vacuum at sciffy. Currently BSG anchors their Friday line-up in the 10 o'clock time slot and it's lead in are two syndicated series (read: re-runs of series canceled a year or more ago), one of which is about VAMPIRES! Can the suits get any more clueless? Their mission statement is right in the channel's name, but I digress.

I'll be looking forward to the movie and, yes, though I haven't bought a comic in years this new Buck Rogers may just get me back into the comic store. Assuming I can find one after all these years. ;)


End of Line

Sunday, March 8, 2009

A Blast From the Past!

Who was it that first said the more things change the more they stay the same? I think they could have added: "and if you live long enough to realize that fact first hand you wont know whether to laugh or cry."

I'm sure this has probably been mentioned before, somewhere, but I only just stumbled onto this interesting article about Battlestar Galactica- from way back in the day- archived at people dot com: Blast-Off or Rip-Off? It's especially weird to read how Dirk Benedict had been "bumming his way around the U.S." prior to getting the part of Starbuck. This seems especially ironic after having posted the article Dirk Benedict Strikes Back! last month.

You never really think about the fact a group of people who you grew up watching on TV and have achieved some modicum of fame since were once unknowns described as an "improbable ingenue foursome - all attractive and unmarried to boot - that is helping Galactica churn out more sexual tension per hour than any Sunday night show since I, Claudius."

They compared BSG to I, Claudius? And here I thought BSG was just a stupid kiddie series. Isn't that how the pundits and fanboys of the new series used to dismiss the original series? It's that old 70s disco show with the lame VFX and the monkey in a dog suit and yada yada yada who cares that it gave their own lauded show life. Yet here I am, someone who actually watched that series as a kid, reading an article about it from yahrens ago and I have to admit it's facinating. Then, as now, the press (and criticims) about the series seems to be all about "sex" and, well, read it for your self: "As Cassiopea, Battlestar's "Socialator," Laurette Spang plays a sort of intergalactic Mary Magdalene. Her first love scenes with Dirk Benedict were so steamy that ABC demanded a re-shooting. "

All I can say is. . . Who has these outtakes? ;)

I hope you enjoy reading the article as much as I did. It's a real eye opener. Once again that article can be found: here.

Friday, March 6, 2009

A Most Unusual Sci-Fi Reference

Sometimes you stumbled on something online that you don't know whether the right response is to laugh or feel insulted. Something so strange you just feel compelled to share it's existence. I image some people have felt that way about some of my rants, or I hope they have. However the last place one expects to find a rant is in the context of an "encyclopedia" entry, even if it is found online. Maybe it's just me but aren't encyclopedias supposed to be dispassionate dispensers of information slash almanacs of rarefied factoids and trivia? Yet, when a Google search turned up this entry on producer Glen A. Larson (Battlestar Galactica, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century):

"The only thing Glen A. Larson knew about science fiction was that other people were making money off of it. So, whenever the time seemed propitious, he stepped in to claim his piece of the pie, producing mounds of wretched entertainment to the benefit of no one but himself and members of his immediate family."

Yowza! And that's just the opening paragraph. Well, as you can probably guess, my curiosity was morbidly piqued and I went a-browsing and if you thought the above was harsh check out this from the entry for producer Gerry Anderson (UFO, Space: 1999):

"If the nations of the world ever decide to stage Nurenberg <sic> trials to punish the makers of bad science fiction film, Gerry Anderson will be the first defendant."

I'm caught between applauding, because that's really a great line to quote, yet at the same time I'm thinking: "Ouch!" because Mr. Anderson's live action work wasn't that bad; at the time. Was it? And how about the first sentence from the entry on George Lucas:

"In order to discuss George Lucas in the mythological context he would certainly prefer, might I suggest the term "hubris"? "

Zing! At this point I feel it's incumbent on me to point out that the above quotes come from: Gary Westfahl's Biographical Encyclopedia of Science Fiction Film. The quotes so far may read like they have been dipped in liquid repugnance for the subject matter and some may wonder how any so-called encyclopedia dedicated to a specific topic or theme could have entries so salty. Yet that's not really how all of the entries read. Yet, stumbling in as I did at random, it's does almost sound like this isn't an encyclopedia but a hater's anthem, their middle finger salute to something they objectively loathe and despise, how else to explain the gratuitous barbs that start off the entry for Ricardo Motalban:

"With a different producer, and different writers, Fantasy Island could have been a fascinating program; a team of Gene RODDENBERRY and Rod SERLING, for example, would have found many intriguing stories to tell about an enigmatic rogue apparently gifted with the magical power to make people's dreams come true. But even a science fiction critic must avoid discussing fantasies; in reality, Fantasy Island was produced by Aaron Spelling, and written by nonentities, and it was a mindless, offensive spectacle of nonstop inanity."

Notice the barbs appear to be universally directed at producers. So I'm going to go out on a limb and say, whoever this author is based on the glimpses of his entries I've read so far, he's one hard core science fiction fan that's fed up and decided to shout to the world he's not taking anymore of this nonsensical claptrap being passed off as science fiction more than he is a genre hater.

Too, I do see his point about Fantasy Island. It was vacuous and sophomoric but wasn't that the point of it? I remember watching this as a kid with my mom, one of the few shows that was mother approved by the way, and I don’t recall ever wishing it would have been more than the silly escapist fantasy it was. Not that you'd expect a kid to but, c'mon, it was okay for what it was; which was better than watching LOVE BOAT.

If you read the full entry it is short and some of the comments stray close to being offensive, if you're viewing these sorts of things through rose tinted politically correct lenses, but then so are most of the entries. But I've probably written worse and, honestly, I have to admit to harboring a bit of admiration for this gentleman's turn of phrase. Take this bit of snide filled snark that starts the entry on Arnold Schwarzenegger:

"Of course, it was all a plot. Actor Arnold Schwarzenegger longed to enter American politics, most likely beginning with a campaign for Ronald Reagan's old job as governor of California. But the essential prerequisite for such a shift in vocations is a failed acting career, as was achieved by Reagan, George Murphy, Fred Grandy, and others who sought elective office only when they could no longer land attractive screen roles. A successful film actor will inevitably find it impossible to walk away from million-dollar contracts and international adulation for the more spartan glamour of press conferences and the rubber-chicken circuit; hence, after a promising start as mayor of Carmel, California, Clint Eastwood's political career fizzled because his movies continued to be box-office smashes. To avoid this unpalatable fate, Schwarzenegger set out to sabotage his own enviable position, deliberately choosing projects that would be spectacular bombs so he would drop off of Hollywood's A-list, receive fewer and fewer irresistibly lucrative film offers, and thus face no impediments to entering politics."

BRILLIANT! That didn't just have me snickering it made me decide to write this article about the site and the encyclopedia. If this "encyclopedia" wasn't intentionally written as a work of satire then the author has some serious issues with the genre. But I'm assuming the author was just trying to keep it real, tell it like it is, meaning how he sees the facts, and that can make for a rather refreshing (and humorous) read at times. But be forewarned, some of the entries are also infuriating as they're hyper criticisms that may touch a nerve with the more nostalgic amongst us. And, going by what I've read so far, there's apparently a LOT to criticize. But read the entries and judge for yourself!

End of Line.

Wednesday, March 4, 2009

Spaced Invaders

The Movie: Spaced Invaders

Year: 1990

Director: Patrick Read Johnson

Cast: Douglas Barr, Royal Dano, Ariana Richards, JJ Anderson, Kevin Thompson, Jimmy Briscoe, Tony Cox, Debbie Lee Carrington, Tommy Madden, Fred Applegate, Gregg Berger, Wayne Alexander, Patrika Darbo, James Eustermann, Tonya Lee Williams, Ryan Todd, Barry O'Neill, Adam Hansley, Casey Sander, Rose Parenti, Glen Vernon, et al.

Format Viewed: DVD (R1)

MPAA Rating: PG

Run Time: 100 minutes

Premise: A patrol ship full of Martian misfits picks up a re-broadcast of Orson Welles infamous "War of the Worlds" radio broadcast and mistake it for a report on actual events. Not wanting to be left out of the glory said Martians steer their craft toward Earth, where they bumble through a series of embarrassing comedic misadventures.

The Reality: Spaced Invaders is a silly, ridiculous, simple yet childishly awesome War of the Worlds jibe that pokes an gignormous clown stick at sci-fi movies, especially those from the fifties. If you aren't a fan of the genre you may miss some of comedic references and genre in-jokes but the plot is pretty straightforward otherwise. .

* * Be advised the overview below may contain slight spoilers. * *

The Story: The Martian Imperial Atomic Space Navy, Battle Group 7, is preparing to invade Arcturus. .

Meanwhile, back on Earth, Halloween is getting into full swing as single dad Sam is settling into his new job as sheriff of a small town. See he moved here with his daughter Kathy after her mother died to get away from the hustle and bustle of big city life. He probably figured this sort of small town environment would be good for his darling little girl. However young miss Kathy is none too pleased, and with good reason. It's Halloween, she's in a unfamiliar town, has no friends, and is not really looking forward to going trick or treating. (Yet she put together one awesome looking costume!)

Enter the Martians. Or rather a group of oddball misfits relegated to patrolling asteroids in their small craft. Seems they've been left out of the Arcturus mission, which is not going very well, and are gung-ho to fight! So when they receive a distress signal from the fleet they're ready to lock and load. Problem is they have no idea where the fight is so they scan the heavens to try to find out which direction to set course toward. Unfortunately, for us poor Earthlings, what they pickup is a re-broadcast of Orson Welles 'War of the Worlds' and so the fun, er, I mean the invasion begins.

But before they arrive (it's a long way from the asteroid belt to Earth) Sheriff Sam has to deal with an irate elderly farmer, Mr. Wrenchmuller, whose in dept to the Farmer's Trust bank. Seems the scumbag in charge wants to foreclose on the farm so Mr. Wrenchmuller is heading into town with a shotgun. Klembecker, the teabag in charge of Farmer's Trust, cowers behind his door as the Sheriff has words with Mr. Wrenchmuller before stepping up- or rather down, the man is short!- to tell the sheriff how everything he's doing is perfectly legal. It may not be right, it may no be moral, but by the sweat on Mercury's testicles it's legal!

Did I mention this is Sheriff Hoxley's first day on the job? And it's not even lunch time yet! As dusk settles over this quaint quiet town of middle America and the Halloween festivities start to swing look, up in the sky, is it a meteor? No it's a Martian spacecraft coming in for a crash landing at. .

The Wrenchmuller farm! And with a Martian yell of, "Prepare to die Earth scum!" the movie really starts to get weird.

No, really, we mean it this time!

Did I mention it gets really weird. .

Assessment/ Verdict: While the DVD is barebones the picture is clear, the audio is crisp, and at least the movie is presented in widescreen format. As for the movie itself, let's be honest, Spaced Invaders isn't for everyone. If you have a low tolerance threshold for silly science fiction and the ludicrous watching this parody is going to be like a visit to the dentist. Spaced Invaders is a send-up of the sci-fi genre with silly elementary school level humor that's potentially entertaining for older children, which makes it a good choice for family movie night. Have fun Earth scum!


Copyright © C. Demetrius Morgan

This review has been part of March's. . .

Monday, March 2, 2009

Is Print Media Dead?

It sure feels that way, especially with the snarling hounds of the New Media nipping at it's heels. But for those declaring, Internet Leaves Print Media Industry in the Dust; it should be pointed out this is not the first time. Movies, television, video games, and other modes of home entertainment media have all been held up as threats to "traditional" media formats. Newspapers have endured for centuries whereas Youtube and Hulu and iPods have been around for, what, barely a decade?

While it's partially true that, "The Internet has left print newspapers far behind as the source for national and global news." The flip side of that is the AP remains the source for most of the information being regurgitated by the "wire services" as they used to be called. Yet, if you examine those news articles that appear in, say, a Google News search you'll see many underlying similarities borne from cribbing from the same primary source. Yes, more and more people are turning to web based media news sources, but it's still the traditional media that's providing much of that information.

While such articles note, "Media experts bemoan the decline in newspaper readership. But they usually refer to the large, national print media organizations." They are only seeing a snapshot. The print media, books and magazines especially, has been on a steady decline for the past decade. Why? Simply put people aren't reading like they used to. And with so many more forms of high quality streaming media available on the 'net today than a decade ago it's likely even fewer people are relying on traditional print media to get their news. But it's not just news anymore. You can watch TV shows and movies just as easily.

I enjoy reading. Not everyone does. What's more there are some people who actually disdain books. You can go, right this second, to IMDB dot com and find any number of posts in various forums wherein movie watchers are lambasting readers of the book on which movies are based for critiquing the movie adaptation for not being faithful to the book. Books, and the stories they contain, according to these post-modern Neanderthals are meaningless. So what if the filmmakers changed this character, dropped that plot point, or totally ignored a important sub-plot arcing through the entire book, right?

Depends on whether you've read the book or not. If not you've nothing against which to contrast and compare the movie with, thus it will stand, or fail, on it's own merits. I saw DUNE (1984) before I read the book. In fact it inspired me to dig through my parents bookshelf, find the book, and read it. I'll admit to a bit of disappointment at the departures yet if was far more faithful in comparison to the mini-series version the Sci-Fi channel aired in 2000. I mention this because, regardless of the book, if you'd seen the original movie you couldn't help but compare the mini-series to it. It's human nature to compare and contrast. Some people like Pepsi, some prefer Coke, yet others couldn't care less and will drink anything with the name "cola" attached to it. Others don't care one way or the other and will drink anything that's carbonated. Yet while there's store brand cola, regional brands, generic brands sold to budget chains, and super pow energy drinks with twice the caffeine Pepsi and Coke have remained and aren't likely to disappear any time soon. Why?

Because fads come and go and, after all is said and done, we humans like what is familiar. Life is change yet we've grown accustomed to doing things in a certain way. Even our technology, though it's light years beyond anything our grandparents had, is still basically humans doing the same sort of things in different ways. Reel-to-reel tapes gave way 8-track, 8-track gave way to cassette, and so it goes. Records were round discs, so were Laserdiscs, Compact Discs, DVDs, Blu-Ray, and so is the platter of the HDD in your computer. As the old adage goes: The more things change the more they stay the same. So, yeah, print media seems to be on the skids. Then again so is the economy.

It costs money to print a paper or magazine, and those writers don't work for free, and oh, yeah, that building everyone is in probably has a lease on it and utilities and who knows what all else. Blogs are technically free. Anyone that's literate can write a blog, if they feel so inclined. And, let's face it, with news headlines like: Distressed investors to leave media, others in cold and Casinos, media join autos on way to bankruptcy I wouldn't put too much stock in those reports of Media: "Dead or Dying"?. While I agree with the latter article's summation that, "What it always will come down to is traffic, and with the interaction and social networking element of blogs and other social media available, traditional media face a tough future."

It seems to me we're also on the cusp of a transitional metamorphosis in our culture. Computers aren't as expensive as they used to be yet, once you add up all the fees for services and software, one wonders just how the new media will adapt in the face of current economic downtrends. After all a printed book can be bought for relatively cheap, doesn't require software or hardware upgrades, and always has some resale value. It doesn't even need to be plugged in or recharged! But I digress.

The future is what you make it. Make it a good one.

End of Line.

© Copyright C. Demetrius Morgan