Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

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A Reflection of Cinema in 1982

When I did the review of the new Blade Runner last week, I recalled I saw the original the same week I saw Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan and ET: The Extraterrestrial. I thought about how many films I saw in a theater that year. I went online and checked the list and my goodness did I see a lot of films that year!

Making Love

Quest for Fire

Swamp Thing

Porky’s

Cat People

Conan the Barbarian

Dead Men Don’t Wear Plaid

Poltergeist

Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan

Firefox

Blade Runner

Megaforce

The Thing

Tron

Summer Lovers

The World According to Garp

Zapped!

Night Shift

Fast Times at Ridgemont High

Pink Floyd – The Wall

Creepshow

48 hrs

The Dark Crystal

 

In 1980 – 1981 school year, my junior year, I decided to seriously consider working in film. When I graduated in 1982, I had been accepted to UCLA (not my first school of choice, but that’s a story for another day) and I mistakenly thought getting into film school would be as easy as saying, “I want to be in film school.” Sadly, it wasn’t that easy but I watched and studied a lot of films in 1982. I was studying storyboard techniques by reading and studying the layout of comics. I was breaking down scripts. I was looking at architecture. The thing I studied most at the time was people. I wanted to get the essence of natural dialog. I was getting all sorts of books on filmmaking and going to movies.

The thing is I don’t remember seeing a lot of those films while at UCLA. There were a lot of theaters in the area, but most of the films on the list I saw in San Diego. The only film I can remember seeing at UCLA was The World According to Garp.

Somewhere in my archives I should have a copies of my high school underground newspaper, The Phoenix. I know I did a review for Quest for Fire in it. I remember seeing Pink Floyd – The Wall with bunch of friends and getting my first contact high because of so much marijuana wafting through the theater. Correction: it was actually the second contact high. The first one was watching the original Heavy Metal in 1981.

That was the theater in La Mesa, where I saw Star Trek – The Wrath of Khan near the end of its theatrical run. I saw that film a few times during its run. I saw it originally at the old Cinerama on College Ave, same place where I saw The Empire Strikes Back in 1980.

The movie on the list I disliked the most of that year would be Megaforce. Think of the movie as a low rent GI: Joe inspired movie in the 80s. What I remember the most about that movie was the hair. The hair was like a typical 80s music video, but a bad one.

I’m not sure if that was a good year for films, but I’m leaning towards yes, but I can’t believe how so many films I saw that year.

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Movie Review: Blade Runner 2049

When I realized there was going to be a Blade Runner 2049, I went on semi information silence. I obviously was curious about the new project, but I didn’t want to closely follow the production and obsess about every detail of the production.

Blade Runner, like Star Wars, was a defining moment in my geek development. Much like Star Wars, it was a defining moment for a lot of people who caught the film on its initial release. Blade Runner was the definition of film noir, of cyberpunk; this was the defining film of a generation of creative people that was a symbol of a literary movement.

Over thirty years later, could they recapture the “Blade Runner magic”?

The first thing I did when going into the movie was not putting high expectations on the film. I didn’t watch the video of the film before watching the movie. While a lot of the same people responsible for Blade Runner were involved in the new movie, I didn’t want to get my hopes up too high by a fresh comparison to the previous film. I also realized that the audience of 1982 and the audience of 2017 are generations apart. Would a seemingly groundbreaking film in 1982 be as inventive to an audience in 2017?

The way I think if the film is to compare it to San Diego downtown back in 1982. It was a big city, a little bit dangerous, if you knew where to find danger, but it was familiar and to people living there at the time. Today, downtown San Diego is a lot different, less dangerous, more modern. To me, a lot of the organic charm is gone, and you can look at it nostalgically and this of the loss of the different landmarks and the character that made up old downtown San Diego, but the new downtown does have its own charm and vibe to it.

It’s not the same downtown from 1982. There are some reminders of old building from the downtown of old, but the city is different and has logically changed for modern sensibilities.

That’s what Blade Runner 2049 feels like when I watched it. There’s enough of the old Blade Runner magic to recognize the style of the film, such as the giant billboards, but Blade Runner 2949 is a different beast. It keeps the same framework in terms of story, such as skin jobs are still hunted, but something that seemed odd to me was how much replicants were an open part of society. My goodness, you had replicant prostitutes and Ryan Gosling’s character is an out in the open replicant hunting replicants. Robin Wright’s character is a replicant. There were so many replicants in this movie that I started to wonder where were the organics?

This was a different dystopia future. Where Blade Runner was all tall buildings, rain and punk sensibilities, this Blade Runner was about wild weather shifts and surprisingly open spaces. This film didn’t feel like crowded humanity packed into cities like the movie Soylent Green. Yes, there were a few shots in the beginning of the film that showed crowded streets but a lot of this movie took place in wide open surrounding, well, relatively open surroundings.

The most fascinating idea of the movie for me was do androids dream of electric sheep? Apparently, the answer is yes. It is interesting to imagine that technology could advance to the level of generating companions. It does make sense, judging by the way we deal with smartphones and home automated systems that technology could evolve to have interactivity to the level of a Joi unit. Joi was an interesting development of a character that harkens back to the original novel by Philip K Dick. In a world where artificial is more desirable that real, would it make sense that an AI would be a better companion that someone who is flesh and blood? Would you fall in love with an artificial? Would they have rights?

I found the first half of the movie very intriguing because while it hinted at the old Blade Runner the style and ideas moved just far enough away but was familiar enough to keep me interested. Sadly, when Harrison Ford entered the picture, to me this is where the movie started to falter. It stumbled because he was a reminder of the former film and that old magic. That’s when I couldn’t help but make comparisons in my head to the older film. Again, the older film was from a different time, but when compared to the newer film I wanted to go back to that magic and the new film didn’t give me quite the same impact on the imagination as the classic film.

Overall, I liked the film even with some flaws. This is different, but overall enjoyable return to the Blade Runner universe.

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Quick TV Reviews

Marvel’s The Inhumans – I finally got a chance to see the much maligned 2 hour premiere of this show. I’m a little behind because I haven’t watched last Friday’s episode, which I will catch up to by this weekend. There’s not a lot I can recommend about this show because I found it boring. There was no Marvel excitement, no real drama and it was just there, I didn’t hate it, didn’t like it or love it.

It was like the producers said they wanted to make a movie in exotic location, but half of the action takes place on the Moon. It’s bad to compare this to Star Trek: Discovery, but the production values on that show are much higher than this shows. The sets are distracting. If there was interesting dialog or a compelling plot there may be something to excite me about the show, but if I wanted strictly Hawaiian scenery I would watch and episode of CBS’ Hawaii Five-O.

Marvel’s The Inhumans makes a mistake I’ve seen in a lot of productions back in the old days of SF TV. If they’re dealing with extraordinary situations, they tend to overact and the portrayal will seem arched and overdramatic. There was a lot of that with Marvel’s The Inhumans. It’s a syndrome I see because the plots in a lot of SF/comic book stories aren’t small scale things. They tend to be on the variety of “the end of the world/out way of life” stakes and the actors, to me, go over the top in showing those emotions.

There are a lot of things to dislike about Marvel’s The Inhumans. I’m watch a few more episodes in hopes of it getting better.

UPDATE: I caught episode 3 and I’m still not feeling it. There were a few things in the episode I liked but I might be reading more into the scenes because I’m grasping for anything to like about the show. Best thing, in my opinion, was the scene with Medusa breaking into the home.

Why I liked the scene was because it gave me some examples of what the royal family might be like, and it made the motivations of Maximus seemed justified. I understand that Medusa in on the run, strapped for cash and all that, but I would have imagined she would have more of a moral dilemma taking the clothes and other items from that home. To me, it seems like she had the attitude she was royal and was entitled to take whatever she needed from the home.

But still, talking to an ATM to get money? How did she know what money was, then how did she realize to take the credit card? That with many other things just makes me shake my head on this show, because they aren’t explaining things and we are left to assume actions that we logically shouldn’t assume. Remember, most have lived on the moon and I doubt they have been introduced to the subtleties of American culture. Yet, Medusa, somehow, cannot figure out how to use an ATM but she can call a cab.

 

Scorpion – Ever since this show aired in 2014, I’ve had a like/hate relationship with the show. I think I want the show to be better than it is, and every week it’s slightly intriguing to keep me interested but it always, ultimately disappoints. The two part season opener continues my like/hate struggle. This show should have the vibe of the old MacGyver show, a smart guy who uses ordinary devices to get out of tight situations, but they want to bill the show as a bunch of geniuses who can solve problems, yet they are the most unlikeable geniuses that are out there. They don’t get into the realm of the genius of the show House, but in that character who had someone who is the smartest person in the world, he knows it, yet he still comes off as an interesting character. Everyone in the Scorpion crew says they are a genius, but they focus on their quirks, which is annoying.

Over time, the characters have done stupid television drama stuff. Will the 2 main characters finally hook up (they do)? Two members get married. There has been tension between two main characters, in the forms of failed relationships and a longing interest in one another, before they, in TV inevitability, got together. It just becomes a formula, a standard TV drama plot and not something organic. Now that they have one married couple and one in a new relationship, now you have bickering couple who, of course, resolve their differences. This done with the constant reminder to the audience they are incredibly brilliant people who shouldn’t have relationship issues.

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Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

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Memories of Green

I feel guilty because I will have to wait to see Blade Runner 2049 next Wednesday. There was no time to see it Thursday and I’m at work every day until Wednesday. I haven’t heard much about the movie, other than watching a few trailers.

When I saw the original version, it was at a small theater in San Diego, can’t remember which one, and I saw the movie before I saw ET: The Extraterrestrial. I remember there were hardly any people for Blade Runner and ET was showing at one of the large Cinerama theaters that seated over 800 people. I was blown away by Blade Runner and viewing ET right after that was crushing.

Watching Blade Runner took me down the film noir path. I wanted to know the noir style, the look and feel, and bring that into a lot of visual work I was doing. For years AMC and Turner Classic Movies were watched a lot. I got a better appreciation of older films, especially those films set during WW2.

The biggest thing that happened to me during that time was meeting Paul M. Sammon, the writer of the behind the scenes book on Blade Runner, Future Noir. I was working at Comic Kingdom, a comic book shop in San Diego at the time and he was at a signing at the store. I got Paul to sign the book.

For the longest time, maybe up to five years ago, I don’t remember where I got it but I had a Spinner driver’s license and Blade Runner ID badge. I must have gotten it at the San Diego Comic Con back then.

I might watch the original Blade Runner again, if I have the time.

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Getting Off on the Wrong Foot

When I’ve gone to my YouTube feed the past few weeks, there have been numerous videos shot of reviews speculating and then commenting in the first two episodes of the new Star Trek: Discovery. The vast majority of the posts have done lots of speculation about the show.

The most unusual speculation has been about nature of the main character for the series, Michael Bernham. It’s kind of a tossup if fans are speculating more about her relationship with Sarek, as she is presented as the unspoken of sister of a certain Vulcan science officer and the possibility of her being transgendered.

Being Spock’s sister, by being taken into Sarek’s home, is something to wrap your mind around as a Star Trek fan, but right now I’m kind of taking this view. We didn’t know, until Amok Time, that Spock was technically married, or at the least he was promised to another. In that light, until that episode we didn’t know about Pon farr. If outsiders wouldn’t know about the ritual, nor would Spock talk about his possible mate until forced to mention it, couldn’t it be expected that other aspects of his life, such as a sister, been not spoken about? OK, yes, with 50 years of Star Trek lore maybe she could have been mentioned but it could be possible it wasn’t spoken of to outsiders.

Here’s where I’m going with this; people lost their minds over a name. Because her name is Michael, so many people online jumped to the conclusion, since she was a woman and had a male sounding name, that she had to be transgendered. Remember, this speculation occurred just because of the name, even though there have been many women who have traditional masculine names and men with traditional feminine names. Without any evidence, and maybe just a bit of wishful thinking, some speculated to this outlandish idea.

Like many things with Star Trek: Discovery, the expectations were very high because this was part of the fifty years of Star Trek legacy and the focus, for long time fans, seemed to be based on the Kelvin timeline rather than the original timeline. With the changes to the Klingons, the odd name of the main character and other issues, the deck was stacked against the series.

I saw the first two episodes and I wasn’t especially impressed. To me, the problem was it was too much like Star Trek, and I figured if it was any other show that didn’t have the branding of Star Trek, things may have been more receptive for the show.

After watching the third episode, I’m feeling things got off on the wrong foot with this show.

I don’t think the show is perfect, but it’s not so much of a mess as I saw it in the beginning. I hated the whole concept of the Klingons, and without the Klingons I liked the evolution this story is taking. I didn’t need to have the fan service stuff (tribble?) but the vibe of the series is starting to grow with me. I can say this has more of a Deep Space Nine feel than a Next Generation or TOS feel. This episode to me had a mix of DS9 episode Valiant, about Red Squad and the TNG episode Ensign Ro. The new captain of the ship is less Picard and more like Admiral Erik Pressman from The Pegasus episode.

Right now, I’m willing to give the show more time. There are issues I have, but a lot less issues I had than before. I’m sure if this didn’t have the Star Trek name this show would be more forgiving with fans, but it may find a way to get through the fans speculations and dashed hopes to forge a unique path in the Star Trek universe.

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Comic Book Wednesday

This is the latest picture from my personal comic book collection.

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Celebration of Comic Book Wednesday

I’m going with a suggestion some people on my Star Citizen discord channel mentioned to me. Starting Wednesday, Comic Book Wednesday, I will post a picture of a comic from my collection. I just want to show some of the comics I’ve collected since 1977.

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Quick TV Reviews

Some quick observations from TV shows I saw last week:

The Blacklist – Raymond Reddington is an interesting character with style and flair. The character is almost unbelievably over the top, with many of his exploits bordering on farce, but with the joy of James Spader chewing up the scenery it was giddy fun. Now that the worst kept secret in TV in recent years has been solved and the toppling of his empire, it was a question to me if The Blacklist could maintain the quality. As Reddington said in the episode, his value is in providing high target lists to the government and with his organization destroyed his value to the government is in question.

It seems, with this first episode of the new season, his goal will be to rebuild the brand, to get what was taken and to get back on top again. I think this will prove to be a good turn for Reddington, as he won’t be the all-knowing, money deep power-broker. It will be an interesting season, I believe.

Designated Survivor – I was fascinated with the series at first, but as time went on in the season it became tiresome because of so many crazy, off kilter plot developments. When Designated Survivor went through a quick discussion of what went on last season, it seemed like it was too much for an administration to endure. Well, considering the current administration, looking at the fictional world of Designated Survivor didn’t seem that fanciful.

I’m going to have to give the show a few more viewings this season to come up with a conclusion. Last season, it went from a pretty interesting idea to a not so competent whodunit with far too many plot twists and missed opportunities. I can’t judge by the first episode of the second season what direction it is taking, but I sense it will continue the jumbled mess that it ended last season with.

The Orville – This is a real surprise of the season. I wasn’t keen on The Orville at first. One, I’m not a big fan of Seth MacFarlane and two, the promos suggested a knee slapping Star Trek. This has won me, which this show as alternative to Star Trek.

What surprised me the most, especially with the hype about this bringing optimistic SF back to TV, was that it has been refreshing to see it bringing optimistic SF to TV. I’ve become a fan of this show with every episode and I was extremely surprised with was episode three entitled About A Girl. That episode, and the decision Bortus and Klyden ultimately allowed to be made, was incredibly gusty in retrospect. It was something I really wasn’t expecting, however, honestly, considering the Bortus society it would have been the correct choice for their society. The debate was given on all sides and I appreciated that. This was definitely in the tradition of Star Trek.

Gotham – All sorts of things can be said about Gotham, both good and bad. This is one show that if I don’t think about the decades of mythos behind it, if I look at this as a fresh series and ignore where it will ultimately end, this would be a guilty pleasure of a show for me. If I try to think about where it fits into the mythos, I have some issues with it. If I just go along for the ride, I like it.

Seriously, Gotham is a conflicted show for me, because I appreciate what they’re doing, and it is a good twist on the basic elements of the mythos, but if this wasn’t Gotham, meaning tied into the Batman mythos, I might enjoy this series more. Now that Bruce Wayne is becoming the non-caped crusader, will this be a good or bad thing for the series? It’s too early to tell, but I think it’s too early for my taste to get Bruce into the costume.

Will & Grace – I wasn’t planning on watching this but my curiosity got the best of me. Would this be a laugh out loud experience of a groan fest? Here’s the thing, I think there has been a change since Will & Grace was the edgy, funny and endearing series. This was over the top in the political message and it was probably inevitable they would attach the President. What surprised me it that right out of the gate they leaned into the current administration and didn’t let go. I laughed at a few things but I didn’t think it was a laugh out loud episode because the comedy was too broad. I’m not sure what I was looking for, but it wasn’t exactly this.

My hope is that they got the Trump bashing out of their system, at least for a little while, and can work with the chemistry of the cast. That was, for me, the reason I liked Will & Grace in the first place. I’m definitely not saying I don’t want the political humor, but I’d like it even it out. If this is going to be constant Trump gags every week, it will get old for me.

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