Review

Jessica Jones season one review

2015-11-27 by Dr R Dizzle. 0 comments

If Daredevil managed to prove anything back when it was first released, it was that the ABC stylings of Agents of SHIELD and Agent Carter were not going to define the TV side of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Significantly darker than anything we’d seen in the Marvel Cinematic Universe so far but still managing to avoid the joyless grit of films like Man of Steel, Daredevil used it’s tone to tell a fascinating long form story with one of, if not the, best antagonists in the Marvel Cinematic Universe at that time. Sure, Daredevil had issues (ones that are becoming increasingly apparent in the wake of Jessica Jones), but it created a baseline for the Netflix/Marvel Studios shows that Jessica Jones adheres to nicely.

It is the same Hell’s Kitchen from Daredevil that we find ourselves in for much of Jessica Jones. We follow our titular character as she attempts to make a living for herself as a Private Eye, but Jessica is significantly more than she appears – gifted with super-strength and very limited flying abilities, she gave up her attempt at super-heroics after a prolonged encounter with a man who can control minds, Kilgrave, left her with severe PTSD.

In case that basic synopsis isn’t enough of a clue, the topics that Jessica Jones deals with are sensitive ones. Although the idea of mind control has been used in various ways in the Marvel Cinematic Universe before now, it’s never been explored in such detail – the implication of somebody being able to control not just your actions but your very thoughts and emotions is naturally horrifying, and the loss of agency that comes with that haunts everyone that Kilgrave uses. And it isn’t just an allegory for rape or sexual abuse – Jessica herself is a rape survivor thanks to Kilgrave, and much of the shows focus on human sexuality (and the diverse nature of it) shows us her taking that aspect of herself back from Kilgrave. One of my only concerns going into Jessica Jones was that this aspect of the show would be handled poorly, in an exploitative way or used for shock value, but I’m pleased to say that it isn’t.

If some of that sounds a little heavy for a superhero show then you’ll be pleased to find out that Jessica Jones isn’t just a superhero show, at least not in the way that you might expect. Don’t get me wrong, it’s very ‘comic book’ at times, with multiple characters having superpowers and the show having subtle (and not so subtle) links to the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe – but in much that same way that Daredevil was a crime show first and a superhero show second, Jessica Jones is very film noir for much of its run time, with Jessica the cynical and jaded narrator talking us through her thoughts. She’s a fascinating character to base a show around, in some ways the prototypical noir protagonist – deeply damaged and self-destructive (particularly in her coping mechanisms) but also truly heroic when given the chance, she isn’t so much an anti-hero as she is a hero who has been through too much, and thanks to an emotional and often understated performance from Krysten Ritter I can’t imagine anyone else in the role.

The entire supporting cast is on the whole pretty great, particularly Mike Colter as bulletproof bar owner Luke Cage and Carrie-Anne Moss as cut-throat lawyer Jeri Hogarth, but special mention has to be made to David Tennant as Kilgrave. The way he is written and how that ties into the subtext of Jessica Jones already meant that Kilgrave was destined to be the best villain in a Marvel Studios production to date, but Tennant’s performance takes that and elevates the entire thing to a new level, making Kilgrave one of the best villains of any comic book property that I’ve ever seen. Kilgrave is broken at a fundamental level, petty and cruel and completely lacking any concept of right and wrong thanks to how long he has been abusing his powers, and the result of that is that he has no regard for anyone beyond what they can do for him. His motivations are simple and make sense in a twisted way once you understand the character, which just makes his particular brand of villainy all the more disturbing – because people like Kilgrave (sans powers, obviously) exist in the real world.

He is effectively the living embodiment of entitlement, a disgusting human being without a moral compass who decides what to do based on what he wants right now and nothing more – but he’s also charming when he wants to be, a true manipulator who hides just how nasty he actually is behind a carefully crafted façade of niceness and a level of self-pity that is both understandable and almost certainly unearned, and Tennant balances these two sides of the character perfectly. More impressively, Jessica Jones isn’t afraid to humanise Kilgrave without ever justifying him – his back story is a sympathetic one, but we see other characters with much the same story who have taken a very different path, and the show doesn’t try to explain away his actions by making you feel sorry for him.

The fact that everything about Kilgrave ends up tying into the subtext and themes of Jessica Jones is a testament to how well written the show actually is, never mind the consistently high quality of each episode . Whereas Daredevil peaked very early on and very slowly went downhill from there (I should mention here that Daredevil was still never anything less than good even in its worst moments), Jessica Jones starts off good and continuously gets better until it peaks around about episode nine with what I can only describe as some of the best few episodes of any show I’ve ever seen. It does drop in quality slightly over the last few episodes with the introduction of sub-plots that the show doesn’t need and an increased focus on the most tertiary of side characters taking some of the momentum out of the build up to the final confrontation, but even here it is amongst some of the best television of the year.

Jessica Jones isn’t perfect, but the minor flaws it contains are more than made up for by the multitude of strengths that come with them. In a time when television is regularly giving us shows that raise the bar for what the small screen can offer, Jessica Jones still manages to stand out as a show worth paying attention to, a legitimately great season that would work just as well on its own as it  does as a part of the Marvel Cinematic Universe. Jessica Jones is stronger and more confident in its first season than the vast majority of shows ever manage to be, and I can’t wait to see what the Netflix/Marvel Studios partnership brings us next.

For more film and TV review and other articles like this, visit ScreenNerds.

Minority Report – Pilot

2015-09-22 by Jack B Nimble. 1 comments
Minority Report is set 10 years after the events that took place in the Steven Spielberg directed movie, but instead of Tom Cruise attempting to prevent crimes before they occur, it’s Meagan Good who’s serving up her own brand of justice as Detective Vega.

Minority-Report

The show opens with a recap of the events of the movie and origin of the three Precogs. It then jumps 10 years into the future, where we learn at least one of the trio as left their island sanctuary. That island living was good for them, because they are all a lot thinner and more attractive.

Precog Dash is back in D.C. trying to make it on his own. He has flashes of murders, but he doesn’t get the whole picture (he needs his twin to put the pieces together). After witnessing a murder 40 minutes in the future, he dashes (pun intended) to try and stop. He arrives just a moment too late.

Enter Detective Vega (Meagan Good). She is a homicide detective investigating the recent murder. She lives in the shadow of the now defunct Precrime (the first fifteen minutes has several news reports in the background stating how things have become worse since Precrime closed). Murder is back with a vengeance in D.C. and Vega can’t help but marvel at the days when unnatural deaths were extinct in the nation’s capital. As she is leaving the scene of the murder she is followed by Dash. After an encounter in an vacant stairway he gives her a drawing of the killer. Vega is able to run down the killer with the image and begins looking for the mysterious informant. She easily finds him (no one can hide in the future!), moments before he has another Precog episode about a murder to take place the next day. Vega and Dash team up to stop the murder of a prominent politician and his wife.

Here are some things I noticed about the show:

  • Dash’s murder insights come in a variety of timeframes. From several seconds, to forty minutes, to a day, but not the four days they enjoyed in the movie (for premeditated murder).
  • Minority Report, the film, is famous for predicting several key technologies, such as multi-touch interfaces and breeding crack babies who can see the future. This pilot tries to capture that magic; with HUD contacts, small surveillance drones, and the future of advertising.
  • Dash’s twin brother doesn’t look much like him as an adult (in the kid flashbacks, they are identical).
  • They did manager to get one actor from the film. Daniel London reprises his role as Wally the Caretaker, at least for the pilot.
  • The show seems to be going out of its way to make sure we know that Meagan Good is a woman.

Overall I thought the pilot was okay, but I feel like the detective with the none-cop partner has been done. I’m thinking of Sleepy Hollow, Forever (canceled), Castle, Bones, Due South, Rizolli and Isles, Fringe, just to name…a bunch. Are there any detectives out there who are partnered with other cops?

Anyways, Minority Report. If you loved the movie for all the elements that weren’t Tom Cruise, you might like the TV show.

Live Chat: The Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

2015-08-25 by Jack B Nimble. 2 comments

Recently the live chat movie night has been reborn. Several movies have been watched and commented on. One recent one was the classic 1951 film “The Day the Earth Stood Still.”

Previous Live Chats were Star Trek TOS: Space Seed and Star Trek TOS: And the Children Shall Lead.

IMDB description.

An alien lands and tells the people of Earth that they must live peacefully or be destroyed as a danger to other planets.
tdtess01
Opening title scene.
Richard: Surely if the Earth stood still, we’d all go flying off?
Ixrec: Only if it was sudden. The real problem is that we’d lose the magnetic field generated by the rotation.
Jack B Nimble: This movie was filmed on location, on Earth.
tdtess02
The Army detects a UFO “It’s traveling at 4,000 miles an hour!”
Richard: Wow, tiny counters moving on a board. Slow down, movie.
Wad Cheber: Nice shorts.
tdtess02.5
Radio broadcasts from all over the world report the strange object in the sky
Richard: I remember this bit. This is where they blow up the ships over the White House.
Wad Cheber: The French have already surrendered to the flying saucer.
Richard: Signs of normalcy. Clearly he’s never been to America.
Wad Cheber: People in the 50’s were silly. Why wear a suit on the radio?
tdtess03
The flying saucer enters Washington D.C. airspace
Ixrec: Looks exactly like when I was last in Washington. Except half the men are in uniform. Jack B Nimble: Destroys Washington Monument in 3..2..1
Ixrec: It’s a glowing Frisbee!
Richard: Run!
Wad Cheber: Damn those people run fast.
tdtess04
The flying saucer lands in a baseball field
Richard: Couldn’t fit on the White House lawn?
Ixrec: It does look a bit big for that lawn.
Wad Cheber: I come in peace to play baseball.
Richard: You’ll need some steroids. I can hook you up.
Ixrec: I’m sure Gort would be a great left fielder.
tdtess05
The military is deployed to the landing site
Jack B Nimble: I didn’t realize you could drift with a tank.
Ixrec: Oh there are loads of tanks that can drift.
Wad Cheber: Treads are awesome
tdtess06
Radio broadcaster reports the spacecraft has landed.
Richard: Who wears a hat on the radio television?
Jack B Nimble: It is important to look professional, even if you aren’t seen.
Wad Cheber: I’m wearing a fedora on the radio for no apparent reason.
tdtess07
An humanoid emerges from the spacecraft.
Richard: Something is happening!
Ixrec: I’m curious what the guy inside is thinking
Ixrec: Surely it doesn’t take two hours to power down enough to make opening the door safe.
Richard: It’s called “making an entrance”, darling. You wouldn’t understand.
tdtess08
The alien approaches the crowd and displays some kind of object in his hand. A soldier loses his nerve and fires his weapon.
Richard: Look out. He’s got a rampant rabbit!
Jack B Nimble: That Lt. just got a promotion. First one to bag an alien!
Wad Cheber: Shot after 20 seconds on the planet.
Richard: Welcome to ‘Murica.
Ixrec:Ok I can kind of understand why that device would provoke a shot.
tdtess09
A large robot emerges from the spacecraft and begins disintegrating the soldier’s weapons.
Jack B Nimble: Cylon.
Richard: Laser. Laser! Laser!! We get it.
Ixrec: That is an awesome laser. It only vaporizes melts weapons.
tdtess10
Recovering in a hospital, the alien meets a government official named Harley. The alien introduces himself as “Klaatu.” He says the object he was carrying was a gift for the President. Too bad it was ruined.
Wad Cheber: My name is Harley. I’m a douchebag.
Richard: Nice hat. Just Klaatu.
Wad Cheber: Did he just say 250 million miles?
Jack B Nimble: He said “250 million of your miles” It is possible Harley has his own miles.
Wad Cheber: That’s not even as far as Jupiter.
tdtess11
Klaatu requests a meeting with all the world leaders. Not just some of them as Harley suggests.
Richard: Frank with you Mr. klaatu.
Wad Cheber: Klatuu’s sling is terrible.
Wad Cheber: Seriously, what kind of hospital made that sling?
Wad Cheber: Is it made from bed sheets?
Jack B Nimble: Aliens don’t warrant the best doctors.
Richard: I think it’s a makeshift sling.
tdtess12
Meanwhile, back at the spaceship, the military is attempting to gain entry to the flying saucer.
Richard: Blowtorch guy is clearly crap at his job. How can you cut with a flame that big?
Wad Cheber: “Let’s sell the flying saucer for scrap!”
Ixrec: I’m amazed Torchwood hasn’t shown up and taken the saucer away
Wad Cheber: Everyone smoked. Everyone was cool.
tdtess12.5
After spending a day in the hospital, Klaatu is completely recovered from his gunshot wound.
Wad Cheber: “His body is normal, except he’s missing all the vitamins and minerals provided by Lucky Strike filterless cigarettes.”
Ixrec: Gasp, he has a healing factor!
Ixrec: Gort should really vaporize everyone’s cigarettes, they do as much harm as any gun.
Wad Cheber: Smoking in hospitals ftw. Now Klaatu is a monk.
Richard: Where the hell is SHIELD in all this?
Jack B Nimble: He’s just an undocumented Canadian.
tdtess14
Harley returns to tell Klaatu that a number of nations refused the invitation to meet him on US soil. Klaatu states “I’m impatient with stupidity. My people have learned to live without it.”
Richard: Oh look, it’s Harley again. Stand by for non-stop action.
Wad Cheber: Michael Rennie has phenomenal cheekbones.
Jack B Nimble: He’s an alien, makes sense.
Ixrec: That feels like something I should try to work into a conversation one day.
Jack B Nimble: And yet, they sent him to Earth…
tdtess13
Klaatu takes some clothes and vanishes from the hospital.
Richard: He’s gone! What an amazing surprise!
Wad Cheber: That kind of stuff would be likely to get you blacklisted.
Jack B Nimble: That man from the spaceship? Come on, he has a name!
Jack B Nimble: I suspect the guy with the case, something about him says “alien”
Wad Cheber: Major Carpenter is gonna be pissed when he finds out Klaatu stole his threads.
Richard: And his identity
tdtess17.5
Klaatu enters a Bed & Breakfast and assumes the name Mr. Carpenter.
Jack B Nimble: Klaatu is a home invader.
Wad Cheber:“I’m Kla— I mean, I’m some guy who isn’t an alien”
Richard: An illegal alien who commits petty theft and identity fraud. He’ll fit right in.
Ixrec: Hopefully he took off the laundry tag at some point.
Wad Cheber: Bobby is an [obscenity]. That is NOT a New England accent.
Ixrec: A “terror” seems like an overstatement for a weapon that very precisely only harms other weapons.
tdtess19
Klaatu asks if Bobby can show him around town.
Richard: Hey, why not give your child to a complete stranger?
Ixrec: And eerily slow talking 50’s guy who is totally not an alien.
Wad Cheber: “Give me your human earth child– I mean, your child.” Bobby is a dork.
Richard: Say, Bobby. Have you even been to a Turkish sauna?
tdtess20
Klaatu trades two diamonds for $2 from Bobby
Jack B Nimble: For being intolerant of stupidity Mr. Carpenter sure is dumb.
Ixrec: Has he actually done anything “dumb”? he just seems baffled by our dumbness.
Jack B Nimble: He traded two diamonds for $2.
Richard: In the great American tradition.
Wad Cheber: $2 in 1951 = $50 billion today
Ixrec: Ok I guess the diamond thing could be dumb. It had to happen right after I typed that.
Jack B Nimble: Probably alien blood diamonds.
tdtess21
Klaatu and Bobby visit Lincoln’s memorial. Klaatu says he’d like to meet a man like Lincoln.
Wad Cheber: Who is this ugly giant, Bobby? That’s the kind of man I’d like to talk to. A hideous giant made of stone.
tdtess22
Klaatu and Bobby arrive at the site of the spaceship.
Ixrec: it looks like they’re building a carnival around the saucer
Jack B Nimble: World’s Fair
Wad Cheber: I bet you should shut the hell up, Bobby.
Richard: I’m at a loss why they don’t cover it in concrete.
Wad Cheber: Why is Bobby a Yankees fan?
tdtess23
A report asks Klaatu what he thinks of the alien. When he replies, the reporter wanders off.
Wad Cheber: “I’m the only TV person who dresses like a janitor”
Ixrec: “your opinion is weird, we’re not interested”
Jack B Nimble: “Yeah, we don’t want real opinions Mr. Carpenter, just fear mongering, thank you.”
Richard: Let’s go talk to a scientist. That’ll help.
Ixrec: “Screwball” does seem like the most accurate description of Carpenter right now.
tdtess24
Klaatu goes to the house of a prominent scientist and sees a complicated equation on the wall.
Jack B Nimble: At least he earned 3 checkmarks.
Wad Cheber: “I’m going to rob this [person], Bobby”
Ixrec: “I opened the unlocked door-sized window, that’s how I got in”
Richard: I think you’ll find that a ground-level door sized window is, in fact, a door.
tdtess25
A woman interrupts Klaatu adjusting the equation. Klaatu leaves a note for the scientist.
Wad Cheber: “I’m Ms. Fussybritches, and I want you to leave!”
Jack B Nimble: “I used science”
tdtess26
Mrs. Benson and her gentleman friend sit in car. As she leaves to enter the house he proposes to her. She says she has to think about it.
Richard: My god. This film has everything. Smouldering passion too!
Wad Cheber: Cars were so beautiful back then.
Jack B Nimble: Her parents are already telling her “if you don’t accept this proposal another might not be coming”
Richard: She’s “courting”. After dark. In a parked car.
tdtess27
Klaatu meets with the scientist and explains his issues with the government officials. He says he has to do something dramatic to get Earth’s attention. He asks for the scientist to gather a diverse group at his spaceship the next day.
Richard: [Hostility towards], Bobby.
Richard: We’re an intergalactic menace. That’s actually kinda cool.
Jack B Nimble: Sinking the Rock of Gibraltar seems pretty random.
Richard: What the hell did Gibraltar ever do to him?
Jack B Nimble: It was BORN!!!
Richard: You might be a threat to interplanetary peace so we might have to destroy your planet
Jack B Nimble: I’m going to carve my face on Mt. Rushmore.
Ixrec: I like how he suggests levelling New York in a “would that get your attention?” way.
tdtess28
Back at the B&B, Mrs. Benson expresses concern about Bobby’s enthusiasm over Mr. Carpenter.
Ixrec: The alien likes our music boxes.
Richard: Bobby, I think your relationship with Mr Carpenter is deeply unhealthy. Show me on the doll…
Ixrec: “I don’t like the way he’s attached himself” makes me think of very different aliens.
Wad Cheber: Mom is wearing the ugliest shirt ever.
Ixrec: I like how mathematical notation is identical on all planets or he learned our notation via radio, somehow.
tdtess29
Klaatu borrows a flashlight from Bobby, claiming the light is out in his room (spoiler alert, it isn’t). Klaatu tells Bobby maybe he’ll tell him about a train that doesn’t require tracks in the morning.
Richard: Nice train set.
Wad Cheber: Worst train set ever. A train that doesn’t need tracks = a car.
Ixrec: I guess he could be referring to a maglev or something.
tdtess30
Klaatu tries to sneak away from the B&B. Bobby follows him.
Richard: Klatu is off to cleanse the streets
tdtess31
Klaatu returns to his ship. He sees that it is guarded. He uses the flashlight he got from Bobby to signal Gort (the robot).
Richard: Bizarrely, there are no crowds near the spaceship. When in reality, there would be a million people there.
Ixrec: I’m sure the crowds would subside every so often, it has been doing nothing for several days now
Wad Cheber: My spaceship…I miss you.
Richard: I’m reasonably sure there would be millions of people there to have a look. Maybe after a few months/years you might find the occasional quiet moment.
Ixrec: Then again the military has the whole thing walled off. Not that those walls would do anything.
tdtess32
Gort takes out the guards
Wad Cheber: Klaatu is screwing with Gort.
Richard: Bobby just watching as Gort kills the guards. What a jackass.
Wad Cheber: Vulcan nerve pinch
Richard: They ded. So ded
tdtess33
With the guards incapacitated, Klaatu returns to the ship. Bobby is horror struck by what he has seen.
Richard: What is thy bidding, my Master.
Wad Cheber: “I’m sick of taking orders from you, Klaatu. I’m the killer robot, and I’m in charge now. You merenga me for a change.”
Ixrec: Why cut out the part where Gort KO’s them? it’s not that hard to film a vulcan neck pinch.
tdtess34
Klaatu dictates some message into a device on his ship.
Richard: Mission report: All the people on Earth are jerks, apart from one small boy.
Richard: His name is Bobby and I’ll preserve him in aspic for the journey home.
Ixrec: Oooh, motion controls, and more responsive than the Kinect.
Wad Cheber: Are you boys cooking in there? “No” Are you building an interocetor? “NO!”
tdtess35
Mrs. Benson’s gentleman caller finds a diamond in Klaatu’s room
Richard: Ooh. A diamond. Shiny
Wad Cheber: Honey, look at this diamond I just stole from Carpenter’s room. Marry me!
Richard: She’s pregnant. She’ll have to marry him.
tdtess36
Bobby tries to tell his mother that Klaatu is the alien.
Ixrec: “Everything you say is wrong because you’re Bobby, I don’t care how plot-relevant it is”
Wad Cheber:“The diamond I just stole makes me think that Carpenter is a crook!” Mrs? Your husband is dead, you liar!
Wad Cheber: “I didn’t pay much attention. Bobby is such an [obscenity].”
tdtess37
Klaatu meets Mrs. Benson at her office. As they enter the elevator Klaatu’s ship shuts off eletricity for 30 minutes across the world. Klaatu tells Mrs. Benson who he really is.
Richard: Hmm. About 10 million people just died.
Wad Cheber: Klaatu is smarter than that.
Richard: If he’s turned off the electricity then every plane in the world just fell out of the sky millions of car accidents.
Richard: Oh, Hospitals and planes were exempted
Richard: State of national emergency
Ixrec: So, if he has the power to do this, how are atomic missiles a threat to his people?
tdtess38
Mrs. Benson attempts to get in contact with her gentleman friend to tell him about Klaatu.
Ixrec: “Call the phone company” wow, I thought no one made that kind of mistake until we had ISPs with support websites
Wad Cheber: Why was she sitting in the dark? Are operators unworthy of light?
tdtess39
Mrs. Benson finds her beau and tells him about Klaatu. He insists on alerting the military so he can be famous.
Richard: Silence woman, men are speaking
Wad Cheber: “How do you know?” “I had sex with him in an elevator”
Wad Cheber: “I don’t care about the rest of the world”. Best line ever.
tdtess40
The military mobilizes to find Klaatu
Wad Cheber: “According to Plan B” So, trapping an alien in the downtown Washington DC area is literally the second plan they made?
Wad Cheber: “ATTENTION ZONE 5, A LITTLE BOY SAYS WE SHOULD DO WHAT HE SAYS”
tdtess41
The institute “Plan B” which is to barricade D.C. so that the “space man” can’t escape.
Ixrec: Good thing this is the 50’s, they’d have found him in no time with today’s technology.
Richard: Thrill as we watch stock footage of cars.
tdtess42
Klaatu attempts to flee in a cab with Mrs. Benson. He figures he might be caught so he tells her if Gort goes “Crazy Eddie” to give him the command “Klaatu barada nikto.”
Richard: Klaatu barada nikto = “Avenge my death!”
Wad Cheber: “I’m worried about Gort. He’s been so homesick lately”
Wad Cheber: “Klaatu Barada Nikto”. The most iconic line in science fiction history.
tdtess43
Klaatu is cornered and he flees his cab…and is subsequently shot. He is pronounced dead at the police station.
Wad Cheber: “All vehicles close in on the indestructible robot overlord”
Wad Cheber: Three days on earth and already shot twice.
tdtess44
Gort escapes the plastic containment and attacks some guards. Mrs. Benson ceases his mad rampage with the magic phrase. Gort grabs her and takes her into the spaceship.
Richard: He’s quite clearly going to laser you. See? Morons.
Ixrec: Oh yes, walk up to the robot as he melts his super-plastic cage.
Richard: Klaatu barada nikto unfortunately means “kidnap this woman”
Wad Cheber: Apparently the actor who played Gort was suffering from giantism and had trouble trying to pick up Patricia Neal and Michael Rennie. They had to set up a crane behind him to bear the weight.
tdtess45
Gort leaves Mrs. Benson in the ship and goes to retrieve Klaatu’s body from the police station. “I’m a friend of Mr. Klaatu, can I see him please?”
Wad Cheber: She is now what Klatuu’s people refer to as a “Robot Bride.” Soon she will birth a brood of Gortlings.
Wad Cheber: Why are there chairs set up around the flying saucer?
Wad Cheber: The effects on the saucer door are pretty cool.
tdtess46
Gort returns Klaatu to the ship and places him in a special bed. Klaatu is revived in his ship.
Wad Cheber: “What happened? Are my cheekbones alright?”
Wad Cheber: The almighty spirit = Bobby
tdtess47
Klaatu gives the gathered scientific dignitaries a speech about how the other planets will not allow Earth to let their violence spread to other planets. The robots like Gort were designed to destroy people who would wage war against the stars.
Richard: I came here to give you these facts. But instead you kept shooting me.
Jack B Nimble: You’ll notice my murder bot is just behind me. That is because I’m tired of being shot. Wad Cheber: Best speech in science fiction history.
Jack B Nimble: These robots are basically Manhunters from Oa.
Wad Cheber: And the “forced choice” is “don’t try to kill us or Gort will vaporize you” “Now get the hell away from my spaceship, you jerks!”
tdtess48
Klaatu and Gort enter the ship and it leaves the planet.
Jack B Nimble: And the crowd scatters as Klaatu’s ship spewes radition everywhere during take off.
Wad Cheber: We literally shot him 20 seconds after he arrived.
Richard: He had a weird thingie
Wad Cheber: The only thing he had said was “I come in peace”
Richard: Shoot to kill!
tdtess49
“The End”
Jack B Nimble: And…the credits roll, leaving Earth to wonder when those murder bots are going to return to destroy them.

Fantastic Four: A (mildly spoilery) review!

2015-08-10 by Michael Edenfield. 0 comments

This weekend, Fox released their latest Marvel comic book adaptation, a reboot of the Fantastic Four franchise. The previous two Fantastic Four films weren’t very well received, and Fox was likely hoping to cash in on the post-Iron Man comics boom to change that perception. If so, it didn’t work out as they’d hoped. What follows is a review of the movie, what went right, what went wrong, and where Fox may go from here.

Overall Impressions

The movie wasn’t terrible. Despite what you might read on Rotten Tomatoes, this wasn’t anywhere near the worst comic book movie I’ve seen; it’s not even the worst comic book movie Fox has ever released. For starters, it’s definitely an improvement on the previous Fantastic Four and Rise of the Silver, not to mention Daredevil and Elektra. Having said that, it doesn’t hold up well at all compared to the Marvel Studios movies, or X-Men franchise. If anything, the movie was disappointingly mediocre. Mediocre, because it’s just kind of there: there’s a story, and it occurs, and there’s people and they get powers and they sort-of use them, but by the end of the film, you feel like they never got around to the interesting part. And disappointing, because it could have been better: it’s obvious that there was a much better movie just begging to be released, but we’ll likely never get to see it. Adding to the disappointment is the fact that the trailer promised so much more: whatever movie that trailer was from, I would have much rather seen that than Fantastic Four.

In the end, it wasn’t a complete waste of time — it wasn’t offensively bad coughcoughGhostRider2coughcough. But I don’t really think there’s much of an audience that’s going to be happy to pay for this movie. If you’re a fan of the Fantastic Four, this movie will anger you, and if you’re a fan of superhero movies, it will disappoint you. (For reference: its the first Marvel movie since before Iron Man that I’m not going to see twice, and that includes Thor 2).

Rating: 2/10 (mostly for the acting and the first act); wait for Netflix.

For the rest of this review, there will be some broad spoilers, so if you’re planning to go see it, you might want to stop and come back later. But since you probably aren’t, you can read on…

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The Solarian War Saga

2015-07-28 by Jack B Nimble. 1 comments

I recently signed up for a trial membership of Kindle Unlimited to find new reading material. Like so many others, I discovered their “100,000s” of books were most ones no one had ever heard of. They have a few stand out series, Harry Potter, Hunger Games, and Lord of the Rings, but the vast majority of their unlimited selection is comprised of titles and authors few have heard of.

On a whim I decided to choose a science fiction series titled The Solarian War Saga by Felix R. Savage.

The first book, The Galapagos Incident introduces us to a future where humankind has spread out throughout the Solar System. The main protagonist is Elfrida Goto, a half Japanese woman who is working on the United Nations Venus Remediation Project. This is an effort to make Venus habitable. They acquire asteroids, load them with some kind of organisms that can survive the 600 degree weather, and crash them into Venus. Elfrida uses remote viewing (think Surrogates 2009) to attempt to acquire asteroids and relocate any settlers who may be already there. Things turn dicey when her remote body’s machine intelligence appears to have its own agenda and goes rogue.

The series tries to imagine a future where technology has taken us to the point of remote sensory, bionic implants, and highly advanced artificial intelligence. These intelligences are so advanced that the United Nations (the supreme authority on everything in this future) has placed bans on just how smart machines can be. This was a direct response to some incident on Mars that resulted in all colonies being lost there and the planet going dark.

The writing might lack a little at times, and the science doesn’t hold up to a lot of scrutiny, but I enjoyed the series none the less. After reading the The Galapagos Incident I continued on to The Vesta Conspiracy, The Mercury Rebellion, and finished with the short story prequel Crapkiller (an ill advised title in my mind). People who enjoy a good space opera might enjoy visiting the future of Felix R. Savage for a few books.

The first book is available for free on Amazon, and the series is available via an Amazon Unlimited subscription (or trial).

Ant-Man: A (mildly spoilery) review!

2015-07-20 by Michael Edenfield. 2 comments

From the moment it was announced, Ant-Man was viewed as a bit of a risky move by Marvel. Even for a comic book movie, a guy that gets really small and talks to ants seemed like a bit of a stretch. Could they make it work? Would this be the beginning of the end for Marvel?

Of course not. Marvel doesn’t seem capable of making a genuinely terrible movie, and Ant-Man was far, far away from terrible. Following up on epic adventures like Guardians of the Galaxy and Avengers: Age of Ultron, Marvel gives us a small, fun, and funny heist movie that more than delivers.

The short version: 9/10, definite watch, and do so in 3-D if possible. One of my favorite MCU movies yet, largely because it’s something different from what we’ve gotten so far. For more details, keep reading.

Note: There will be very minor spoilers here for some elements of the movie; I will try not to give away anything major, but you may want to skip this one until you’ve seen it. If you’re willing to risk it, click on down:

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Revisiting The Terminator

2015-07-17 by Dr R Dizzle. 1 comments

The film that put James Cameron on the map, The Terminator is quite rightly seen as a science fiction classic, a film that has had enormous impact on modern pop culture thanks to both the lasting impression that The Terminator made and the huge career boost that James Cameron received afterwards. Without The Terminator, I very much doubt that we would have seen the rest of James Cameron’s filmography come to fruition, never mind the number of actors that he has since helped turn into film stars.

The story follows Kyle Reese as he travels back in time from a post-apocalyptic future in which an artificial intelligence known as Skynet has taken over the world. His mission is to protect Sarah Connor from a killing machine known as a Terminator that was also sent back in time to kill her thanks to the fact that she is destined to give birth to the leader of the human resistance.

The time travel mechanic is a creative and tidy way to set the story in motion, and allows James Cameron to hint at the much larger world he has created without it getting in the way of the progression of the story and the momentum that is being built from the very start. It also allows Cameron to easily explain why Kyle can’t call for back up, and why the police and authorities are simply unable to help – it’s a very smart way of ensuring that their is no easy way out for the main characters, keeping them isolated and on the run for the entire movie.

Which is important, because at it’s core The Terminator is little more than a slasher flick with a science fiction flair. The Terminator itself is the ultimate slasher bad guy, a silent, expressionless, intimidating and virtually unstoppable killing machine that is never too far behind our heroes, who are hopelessly outmatched. The best example of this is during the now iconic assault on the police station – even dozens of cops on their home turf can’t do anything to stop the Terminator, really upping the ante and making the Terminator feel as dangerous and unstoppable as it is meant to be, while at the same time showing us how capable Kyle Reese must be to have successfully fought the Terminator off several times before now.

Potentially more important, The Terminator manages to avoid the casual misogyny and conservative politics that are now synonymous with the slasher genre, defining itself as markedly different during a time when slasher flicks saturated the market – no doubt a part of why The Terminator was both a critical and commercial success in it’s time and why it still stands up as a solid piece of film making over 30 years after it’s initial release.

It’s also worth pointing out how well developed the relationship between Kyle Reese and Sarah Connor is in The Terminator when compared to Terminator Genisys, and it’s mostly because of the subtle but important character work that the The Terminator does with Sarah Connor both before and after her first encounter with Kyle Reese. You can understand completely why a vulnerable and scared Sarah Connor would seek comfort in the only man in the world that knows what she is going through, but the equivalent of this in Terminator Genisys is (like everything else in the film) rushed, forced and ultimately unsatisfying.

And the only reason that this all works as intended is because of Cameron’s ability to recognise and work within his limits. His original idea for The Terminator also included a liquid metal robot that would go on to be the primary antagonist in Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but he cut it because he knew that the visual effects available in 1984 weren’t good enough to do the idea justice. This restraint is noticeable throughout The Terminator, which saves it’s limited special effects for important moments and manages to do more with it’s modest budget (just $6 million!) than films that cost upwards of 20 times as much – I’m looking at you, Terminator Genisys.

I still stand by my opinion that The Terminator should never have been a franchise, with the phrase “diminishing returns” very much applicable to the series after Terminator 2: Judgment Day, but that’s neither here nor there – The Terminator is a testament to the importance of inexperienced directors being given the opportunity to prove themselves, showing us the potential longevity of a film when an idea is executed well by someone who knows what they are doing. Even if The Terminator has since been overshadowed by it’s own sequel, it’s still an important and entertaining film that shouldn’t go under appreciated.

For more film and TV review and other articles like this, visit ScreenNerds.

Stitchers – Early Episode 1 Release

2015-05-29 by Michael Edenfield. 2 comments

As seems to be the trend these days, the first episode of an upcoming show has been released a bit early, though this time officially. The show is Stichers, and it’s a summer show for the ABC Family network. The full episode can be found as an exclusive on the EW website.

Here is a short, spoiler-free review of this new sci-fi show.

The basic premise of the show is a strange mash-up of Inception, Source Code, and iZombie. A top secret, unnamed government agency has developed technology that lets them inject the mind of a living person into the memories of a recently-deceased one, to extract information that person took to the grave and help solve crimes. The main character, Kristen, is a college student with a particularly odd (and, as far as I can tell, entirely fictional) condition called “temporal dysplasia”, which means she has no concept of the passage of time. This makes her perfectly suited for use in the memory device, and the episode shows us her first pass at using it. Once inside, Kristen can walk freely around the memories, even manipulate them to some degree, though she can’t physically touch anything. For memories tied to particularly strong emotions, she can also get drawn fully into the experience, feeling the emotions as if she were there and dragging up other, related memories from the subjects’ subconscious.

The episode follows the main character as she gets recruited into this new world, as well as showing us some of the problems her condition is causing in her private life, and how they eventually collide. The show made really good use of some simple effects and editing to show what it was like going “inside” someone else’s mind, saving most of their FX budget for one really flashy explosion. It was subtle, but clear, what was going on.

Though this is a science fiction show, it’s mostly a procedural with science-fiction elements (similar to, say, Almost Human). All the expected elements are there: a government agency no one knows about, a team of anti-social tech geniuses, the main character who lives to flaunt the rules, the overbearing boss who yells at everyone, and even a best friend who’s pulled into the drama early for a really lame reason. They work pretty well together, though the addition of the roommate to the “team” seemed forced and unnecessary. (However, as she is played by veteran SyFy actor Allison Scagliotti, of Warehouse 13 fame, I will at no point complain.)

The show has a similar tone to my previous favorite ABC Family show – Kyle XY – in that the show isn’t really about the science. The science fiction aspect is just there, everyone just accepts that it’s real, and moves on to the actual plot. On the plus side, if you ignore the dead-brain interface, the rest of the technology in the show stands up better than a lot of highly popular network shows. Though the main character and her roommate are both “IT geniuses”, most of what they do is at least plausibly based in reality — dressed up for TV as you expect, but nowhere near Scorpion or NCIS levels of stupidity.

The main problem I had with the show was that most the characters spent at least a small part of the episode being cliches, with some worse than others. Kirsten, has a mental disorder that basically makes her a psychopath: because she can’t “feel time passing”, she has no sense of emotional attachment or loss. (Someone close to her dies early on and she shows no distress because, as she explains, the minute she knew he had died, it was like he had always been dead.) She really plays up this aspect of her character in how she treats other people; the show is desperately trying to paint her as a young female House. That worked for Hugh Laurie, but didn’t work out so well for Rainn Wilson. In my opinion, they need to tone that down a bit or the character will turn people off.

The boss character, played by another SyFy veteran (Eureka‘s Salli Richardson-Whitfield), also felt a bit wooden to me. In this case, I can’t really pinpoint where I lost interest, but she’s playing the “head of a black ops agency” bit in a very paint-by-numbers way. Hopefully she’ll begin to show some personality, once we’ve established just how in charge she is.

The other characters were not quite as bad, though the lead nerd in the show had a few fragments of extremely terrible dialogue, especially during the scene where Kirsten goes under for the first time. There’s also the standard attempts at establishing nerd cred (he asks for a list of Doctor Who actors in a way that no Doctor Who fan would ever do), and some obvious fan service (the “Cat Woman” suit designed by the even-more-cliche nerd sidekick.) The only character on the show that showed a consistently realistic personality was the roommate, Allison Scagliotti’s character, and I hope they’re smart enough to give her screen time to show it.

Overall, I found the show to be about as enjoyable as I expected. It’s a summer show and it’s on ABC family, so I wasn’t expecting Game of Thrones. Science fiction is rare on ABC Family (unless you count Ravenwood…) but this time, it seems like they did a pretty good job. It seems like it will probably stand up well against the summer fare coming out of SyFy, and give me something to watch while I wait for the return of Arrow. That’s really all I can ask.

I’d give it an even 5/10, and a try to catch it.

Supergirl “leaked Pilot” – An almost completely spoiler-free review

2015-05-26 by Michael Edenfield. 11 comments

This fall, CBS will begin airing a new superhero show Supergirl. This series has a lot in common with the highly popular CW shows Arrow and The Flash. The new show shares the same executive producers, Greg Berlanti and Andrew Kreisberg, and all three are based on popular characters from the DC Comics universe. The new show has a tone somewhat reminiscent of The Flash. It also has one more thing in common: reminiscent of last years unauthorized release of The Flash pilot episode, the premier episode of Supergirl has been leaked six months early.

Leaving aside the details of how and why this leak happened, since it did, we get an early look at the show in much more depth than the officially released trailer gave us. Without giving away too much, here are some first impressions of the show, and how well it stacks up to the growing competition in the comic-adaptation space.

General Impressions

First of all, just to be clear: this is being called the “pilot” episode, but it’s not really a traditional pilot. It’s is obviously a final product – S01E01 of the series, with all of the final cast in place and post-production work done. This is good news and bad news. Good news, because we get a faithful representation of what the show will be like for the rest of the season, but bad news because there probably won’t be much chance to fix things that might be broken. (I may be wrong here, we shall see.)

Generally speaking, I think the show is much better than the trailer led us to believe. I still have concerns over where the focus of the show will be, but the pilot seems to be moving in the right direction. The main complaint about the trailer has been how much time was spent on the mundane details of Kara Danver’s life. Was that an indication that the show was trying too hard to attract a broader audience, at the expense of the core superheroine story? I think the pilot gives us good reason to think that’s not the case. I thought the episode had a nice mix of straight up action, character development, and laying groundwork for the rest of the series. It has about the same mix of heroic plot vs. dramatic development that it’s sister shows on the CW did during their first episodes.

The Good Stuff

The first thing that struck me was how little time this show wasted getting the basic exposition out of the way. Within the first 5 minutes of the episode — basically, the opening stinger — most of the plot questions people had from the trailer are answered, right up front. They let us know quickly what’s happened already and where the world sits. It’s also clear that these writers have worked on DC shows before, and they know their stuff, which is a good sign.

Without giving too much away, the show follows the basics of Kara Zor-El’s modern origin story: sent to Earth as a young girl to protect infant Kal-El, an accident causes her to arrive much later. By the time Kara arrives on Earth, Kal-El is fully grown and has revealed his existence. Supergirl is set in a world where Superman is a household name, though the show goes to extreme measures to avoid using the S-word (there are lots of reference to “he”, “him”, and “my cousin”.) The reason for her delay is explained, but it’s a key element to what looks to be the first season’s story arc, so I won’t go into any more detail.

I really like that this show didn’t have your traditional superhero origin story structure, not even for the first episode. Kara was 12 years old when she left Krypton for Earth, and was made fully aware of the special powers she would have. As we see in the trailer, once she decides to embrace her super side, the show jumps right into the heroics: in the first episode, we see flying, super-strength, x-ray vision, invulnerability, and heat vision. Watching Clark Kent come into his powers, and struggle to master them, can be interesting (it was done very well on Smallville; maybe less well in Man of Steel), but it’s been done. We’ve spent three seasons watching Oliver Queen on Arrow become the Green Arrow, we don’t need to spend a whole season waiting for Kara to figure out she can see through walls.

I also like the fact that the show has a nice upbeat tone, much like The Flash, and in stark contrast to the current DC cinematic universe. The show is bright and colorful, and most of the people are generally happy, or at least content. Thus, when Kara has an emotional moment with her sister, it actually seems important — the character’s not just moping around because that’s how she is. There’s also a lot of friendly banter and humor thrown in. I’ve talked to a lot of casual fans who watch The Flash but not Arrow or Gotham for exactly this reason – it’s just more fun to watch. This show was fun to watch.

The Less-Good Stuff

Of course, there were some places where the show seemed to miss the mark. For one thing, much of the character development seems rushed, or even forced. In parts, watching the pilot was almost like watching a really long trailer — it felt like there was chopped up from a longer, more coherent scene. For example, the Supergirl costume montage from the trailer happens at just about that speed in the episode: we go from an obvious fan-service first try to final outfit, including a Kryptonian powers montage — just a few minutes. It seems like the scene was meant to set up the relationship between Kara and her sidekick/support-nerd, but everything happens so fast there’s no real impact.

Several other character development plot threads (e.g. Kara’s blind date) seem like they’re supposed to be giving us characterization, but they’re moved past and forgotten so quickly they don’t mean much. And much of the banter seems a bit forced, like it’s desperately trying to drive home just how comfortable these characters are together, even in a situation where they probably shouldn’t be!

They’re also falling into a pattern that drives me crazy on The Flash — Kara’s secret identity is almost an afterthought. When the show starts, only four people know she’s Kryptonian — her family. When the show ends, we’ve added at least three more! Please, please lets keep that number down for at least a half a season?

Hopefully we can chalk all of that up to this being the first episode, trying to get the characters and their relationships settled and in place, so we can get to the good stuff. The second episode will be crucial in determining if this will be an ongoing problem for the show.

Another miss, for me, was the Kat Grant character. Calitsa Flockhart is obviously channeling Meryl Streep from The Devil Wears Prada, but that’s a huge set of shoes to fill, and it comes across cliche. Even worse, she completely drops that act when it’s time for her to be serious and sensitive, then goes right back into it. She almost comes across as having a split personality.

And really, there’s just too much of her. Perry White or J. Jonah Jameson play mostly bit parts in their shows: they’re foils for the other, primary characters that work for them, and rarely the focus of any scene. Kat Grant, on the other hand, dominates all of her scenes with Kara, and not merely in a keeping-her-secret-identity way. She really does completely overpower Supergirl’s personality, but doesn’t really add much to the scenes. I was constantly wanting to fast forward past her scenes. In seems like they’re positioning her character as a kind of surrogate mother figure for Kara (though, as far as we know, her adopted parents are alive), but most of the time she just comes of needlessly harsh. Perhaps the writers plan to use this dynamic to show Kara’s personality changing as her confidence grows, but if so, I hope they get to it fast, because I was completely sick of Kat Grant by the end of this episode.

Lastly, and perhaps most annoyingly, is how much this show wanted to be about Superman without being allowed (I assume) to say Superman. It’s obvious that Kal-El is the far more famous of the two cousins, and by tying Kara’s story in with his, it lets us fast forward past a lot of otherwise tedious exposition. But the number of times Kara’s cousin comes up in conversation got old very quickly. The fact that they try so hard to avoid naming him makes it even worse. During the opening exposition scene, they identify him as Kal-El and Superman but after that, we only get one occurance of “Man of Steel”. Instead, Kara would frequently talk about “him” in a way that we’re supposed to know who she’s talking about. Obviously, since she’s related to Superman, it’s going to come up, but the point of this show is that Kara is a hero in her own right. She doesn’t need to have her now-older cousin’s specter towering over her all the time. Much like Gotham is not about Batman, Supergirl should not be about Superman. Hopefully this will dwindle away as the episodes continue — we’ve gotten the idea, lets move on.

Conclusion

I think this is going to be a good show. The major elements I think are there. While I have some issues with some of the dialogue, I think the actors themselves mostly have their characters nailed. Melissa Benoist, in particular, seemed to have no problem carrying the show when she needed to, although her Kara Zor-El was much more believable than her Kara Danvers. The central relationship with her sister seemed genuine (jury’s still out on the other two budding relationships). There’s a good hook that should provide good fodder for the early villain-of-the-week episodes, with hints of the broader story arc as well.

This isn’t going to be a show for the hard-core DC comic fans, though. It’s clearly meant for a broader audience, even more than any of the other DC shows on TV so far. Constantine this is not. But I’d make the same assessment about The Flash and that’s turned out to be one of my favorite DC shows to watch, so don’t let that discourage you from giving this one a try.

Overall, I would probably rate this show at about 7 out of 10. I’m not quite as enthusiastic about it as compared to Arrow, The Flash, or even Agents of SHIELD. I would probably rate it somewhere in my top 10 comics-based shows, around where iZombie and (likely) Legends of Tomorrow are sitting.

Definitely worth watching.

Review – Cinderella

2015-03-13 by Jack B Nimble. 0 comments

If you are familiar with the 1950 animated production of Cinderella also produced by Disney, then the latest live-action version may not offer anything new to you. This new version is simply a retelling of that 1950s classic. Both versions are derived from Cendrillon, by Charles Perrault in 1697; Featuring a girl forced into servitude, a fairy godmother, the changing of pumpkins and animals into a coach with horses and footmen, and glass slippers.

Cinderella

The casting is spot on. Lily James as Ella plays the part of the humble country girl well. Cate Blanchett is the perfect evil step-mother, because this is how you believe she acts in real life. When asked by Cinderella why she is treated as she is Blanchett says “Because you are young, and beautiful, and good.” and then stops herself. The realization is that the step-mother is none of these things and resents Cinderella for it. The two step-sisters are sufficiently stuck up and insensitive, and the goose plays a convincing goose. Richard Madden plays the Prince, who is given something of a nickname of “Kit,” but does not go by the name of “Prince Charming.”

The primary complaint I heard about the film is that it offers nothing new to the Cinderella story. It is essentially a retelling of the animated version, despite what the previews claim. Because the last year’s Maleficent changed and added to the story of Sleeping Beauty, the expectation, for some, was that this new Cinderella would do the same. The example given was Ever After: A Cinderella Story which seemed to add a lot of new detail or circumstance to the Cinderella story. However, the differences can likely be explained that Ever After is closer to the Brothers Grimm version Aschenputtel than to the version Disney chose to base their films on.

There are no songs in this film, and the mice do not talk, although Cinderella clearly has some innate ability to communicate with animals. We are also given explanation of why she is named ‘Cinderella.’ I am sure many people have always assumed her name was simply ‘Cinderella’ without question. But the title character’s first name is actual Ella, and transforms into Cinderella.

Bottom-line, if you enjoy the classic Disney animated film and want to see a live-action version of that, then Cinderella will be right up your alley. If you are expecting Disney to evolve the character from their established story line, then you may be in for disappointment.