This Week in Geek (28/02-6/03/11)


I won the Oscar pool this year, but we all did rather badly. I'm not going to rub my measly 12 out of 24 result in anyone's face, that's for sure. But with victory comes booty. We all throw in DVDs we don't want, or specially bought in a convenience store, for the winner to take home. I'd say the gang outdid themselves this year, because the ten films I won look TERRIBLE (and I've seen NONE of them). The pick of the litter has to be Masters of the Universe, which can at least be turned into blog-fodder. The same is true of Hamlet 2, which could get a feature on Hyperion to a Satyr. Dude, Where's My Car? Not so much. And then it gets downright WHHAAA?!

Some of it looks at least intriguing: He Was a Quiet Man (William H. Macey and some awards), Dead Fish (Gary Oldman, Terence Stamp and Connor from Primeval) and Michael Madsen in Pressure Point (strangely with a French-only cover, "Pris au piège"). The latter two probably aren't very good, but they still seem better than the rest: Backlash (it has two helicopters on the cover just like Dead Fish), Lisa Lampanelli - Long Live the Queen (a comedy roast, so maybe it won't be too bad), EZ Money (looks like direct-to-DVD children's fare), and Why Did I Get Married? with Janet Jackson (hm, Rotten Tomatoes seemed to like it, I'll keep it for my roommate-sponsored Chick Flick Saturdays).


DVDs: I flipped The Guild Season 4, in which the MMO-obsessed group get back to their roots and in front of their computers, with the main villains of two seasons coming back for more. People ask me why I buy a web series on DVD when I could watch it for free online. For all the extra content, of course! (Also: I hate watching video on a computer. The couch beckons.) Season 4 has a package similar to previous seasons, including two commentary tracks, outtakes, a music video (a fun Bollywood number), the full Cheesybeard's commercial, a couple of making of featurettes, part of a table read, and if you're into that kind of thing, the scripts in pdf. Good times.


A Very Sunny Christmas is It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia's direct to DVD (read: unrated) Christmas special. It's got the usual gang of idiots, and this time they're ruining Christmas for everyone in a 45-minute story that includes a classic claymation sequence. Not having to air on tv, it's got more violence, gore, F-bombs and naked Danny Devito than ever before. Nevertheless, it fits the series. Sadly, it's not quite worth the price they're asking. At less than an hour, I'd expect a lot of extras to fill out the disc. I expect, but I don't get. There's no commentary track. The making of is really short (though not unpleasant). The "sing-along" is a creepy piece of video editing that's annoying more than it is funny. In fact, it's not funny at all. The one redeeming value is the deleted scenes of Young Charlie and Young Mac, which make me think I'd watch a whole episode of Philadelphia with those kids.

I'm of course a fan of Grant Morrison's All-Star Superman, and the animated adaptation didn't disappoint. Obviously, scriptwriter Dwayne McDuffie made some cuts, but the shorter running time makes the various revelations come out of the story, rather than the barely remembered plot points in the monthly grind. At first, the film seemed entirely too episodic (an artifact of the comics series), but after a while, I settled in, and it all became very touching. Yes, McDuffie's death was in the back of my mind, which certainly made the story more poignant, but I think even out of context, it has that poignancy. I haven't bought a lot of the WB's superhero animated movies lately, and haven't heard good things about those I skipped anyway. This one's a winner though. I still don't like the DVD packages though. While there's an excellent half-hour feature about the original comic, with lengthy interviews with Morrison, nothing else has any relationship to All-Star Superman. There are previews and making ofs for OTHER animated films, and a couple of Batman episodes. Hey, WB, I'm a big fan! I have those already!!!

Our Kung Fu Fridays selection this week was The Bride with the White Hair, the 90s classic featuring Leslie Cheung and, in a a star-making role, Brigitte Lin as the titular heroine/villainess. Though the print wasn't the best - slightly blurry and washed out - Ronnie Yu's direction is nothing less than gorgeous. The lighting and camera work art artful, giving the story a mythical, almost surreal feeling. The tragic love story between warriors of different clans gets raunchier than one is used to in Chinese cinema, and the violence, while relatively cartoonish, may test your tolerance for beheading. However, it's still involving, and at times either funny or scary. In fact, it kinda turns into a horror movie there, towards the end, in large part thanks to the demented Siamese twin sorcerers who lead the evil cult against the forces of the Wu Tang Clan. The action's good, though not the real focus of the film, usually shot as lyrically as the rest. The extras include a director's commentary (in English), though there's a pretty big lull in the middle as Yu runs out of things to say. The making of is strictly a marketing tool, though it gets various members of the cast and crew talking.

Audios: Why do writers always want to return to Peladon? It wasn't a particularly interesting place in either of its televised stories, and the New Adventures' Legacy (of Peladon, I like to add) was better for its guest Ice Warrior than the place itself. But we return to Peladon in the audios with The Bride of Peladon by Barnaby Edwards, in a story made more important and interesting thanks to two things: 1) It's Erimem's last story, and 2) an ancient enemy returns (as do, of course, the Ice Warriors, Alpha Centauri and the monster of Peladon). This may be the most interesting Peladon story of them all, but it IS an odd mix. I liked Erimem a lot and I'm glad she gets a good farewell story with a powerful enemy I'm not spoiling giving her the chance to shine. But Peladon is again the problem. While it's the setting for the story, it feels like the rest could have happened anywhere. Not that I mind what comes WITH the dreary old planet - Alpha Centauri's lilting tones, the slithering Ice Warriors, etc. - but the combination of all those disparate elements makes the audio a bit too fanwanky, if you'll allow the criticism. (I keep going back and forth in praise and criticism, let it be known I mostly LIKED IT.)

I was really curious about Eddie Robson's The Condemned, which follows on from the last Charlie/8th Doctor story to pair Charlie up with the 6th Doctor instead! At this point, it's a very interesting pairing, but Charlie is separated from the Doctor for most of the story, so we'll see. But it's great fun listening to her reacting to the major change in tone, and trying to keep the web of time intact by not revealing too much. I suppose the paradox can all be explained by Doc8's many bouts of amnesia. The story itself is murder mystery that you could imagine the Torchwood gang tackling, if only they were based in Manchester. An alien body turns up, the Doctor becomes the Mulder to a police detective's Scully, and in the meantime, Charlie is getting weird phone calls from... well that would be telling. It's a neat SF mystery, well written and acted, and with a new Doctor/companion dynamic you wouldn't have thought would work, but does.

So on to the second 8th Doctor/Lucie Miller series. It starts with Dead London by Pat Mills, and comes across as a mix between The War Games and The Beast Below (which is itself a lot like Pat Mills' abandoned space whale script). The TARDIS lands in a fractured London which includes various eras, from the Roman to the Victorian to today, and the Doctor must fight the overseers who are toying with the trapped Londoners. While there are a couple of nice set pieces, I'm afraid the story doesn't quite work for me. Lucie is separated from the Doctor for too long a time, pairing him up with a 17th century thief instead, and in these 50-minute episodes, leaving one of the leads behind for any length of time means they wind up with too little screen time, especially as this is the season opener! The plot itself is fine, though it hinges on coincidence rather too much. I was excited about the first series, it'd be a shame if they dropped the ball in the second.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
II.ii. The Fishmonger Scene - Classics Illustrated


Austin Gorton said...

Congrats on the Oscar pool win!

I lost my pool for the first time in four years. I only missed three categories outright (we do first and second picks) but we also have point system in which the categories are ranked and the option to increase your points by only picking one winner instead of two, and I didn't do that enough to overcome my losses and catch the eventual winner.

Or, as I like to say, I got outplayed, not outpicked.

The pick of the litter has to be Masters of the Universe, which can at least be turned into blog-fodder.

I look forward to that! That's one of my favorite awesomely bad movies, and a nostalgic favorite (I was a huge He-Man kid, and I vividly remember going with my dad to see the movie in the theater).


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