This Week in Geek (14-20/05/12)

Buys

Some DVDs came in this week, mostly from Amazon sales: The rest of Sliders, Treme Season 1, The Expendables, Chronicle, Miracle (am I thinking of collecting hockey movies now?), and an Ong Bak/Kiss of the Dragon 2-fer.

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: In its final 13-episode season, Chuck keeps teasing a new status quo, but seems to pull back an episode later. Jerking our chains does make it difficult to figure out how the series will end exactly, and creates more and more apprehension as the finale approaches. The funny thing, it all plays a part and pays off in the end. The game of who gets the Intersect, Carrie-Anne Moss as a possible romantic entanglement for Casey, Chuck's house hunting, etc. But it's the last couple of episodes that may have you sobbing. No spoilers here, but the finale pays tribute to everything that made us fall in love with the show in the first place. It had me in turns smiling and weeping. All the apparently wrong turns bring exactly where we need to be. The DVD includes several deleted scenes, commentary on the two final episodes, the BuyMore commercials, a gag reel, a time-lapse teardown of the set, an extended cut of the finale, and featurettes on the score, fan support, the finale, and the show from the start to beyond the end. The extras are VERY emotional and will have you crying all over again.

Speaking of cancelled TV series starring a kickass Sarah... The Sarah Connor Chronicles is yet another Fox victim, first shuffled off to Friday nights (the kiss of death) and then cancelled after only two seasons (and the first had been abbreviated by the writers' strike). What is clear to me after Season 2's 22 episodes is that it's a great shame it never got the audience (the network?) it deserved. Season 2 is very much about making John Connor grow up to become the man destined to be humanity's best hope, but as Judgment Day looms, the series becomes darker and darker. I mean Battlestar DARK. And like BSG (with which is shares many themes), it's done smartly and poetically, and continues to add depth to the Terminator universe with many sequences either in Sarah's past and the bleak future. Plus, a T-1000 played by Garbage's Shirley Manson! The end is really loopy and works as both a cliffhanger and a series finale, closure of the most maddening kind. The DVD includes commentary on 4 key episodes, deleted scenes, a gag reel, an 8-part making of, and a few smaller featurettes on such things as storyboarding and fight rehearsals.

Speaking of killer cyborgs... If you read the blog, you already know what I thought of Tomb of the Cybermen, but I did have the Special Edition DVD to flip, so I'll talk about its extras. You see, the number, quality and completeness of classic Doctor Who extras is quite high today, but the first releases from the early 2000s weren't quite so great. The Tomb Special Edition doesn't just add extras though, it also offers a much better looking restoration of the story, the original being soft and juddery. It has both commentary tracks - the original with Deborah Watling and Frazer Hines reacting to the picture, and a more interview-ish one with them and other cast and crew. You also get a making of, Matthew Sweet's punchy history of the Cybermen, a discussion of Tomb's Egyptological influences, a featurette on the VidFIRE process, a better photo gallery, and a 2nd Doctor-related commercial. From the original DVD, it retains the production notes, a director's introduction, title sequence tests, a vintage interview with the designer, and behind the scenes footage from The Evil of the Daleks. The only feature NOT on the new release is a half-hour panel discussion with the cast and crew from a convention. The package is in every way superior.

It's hard not to like the premise behind Sylvester Stallone's The Expendables - an old school action film featuring a number of action stars (and wrestlers) from the 80s and 90s (plus Jason Statham, but he's their spiritual successor). What works is that these guys are basically playing their action personae 10-20 years on, tired, damaged and nihilistic, and perhaps in need of redemption. It's in the character moments that this movie shines, with the one Oscar moment going to Mickey Rourke. Where it doesn't shine so much is in the plot and action. Far too many fights are played in the dark and go on too long - in fact, if the action scene is in daylight, it tends to be pretty awesome, if not, it gets dull pretty fast. Tributes to 80s action films are fine, but updating the genre a little bit would have been nice, in particular the role of women in this. They're basically victims of violence and while my hat goes off to Giselle Itié for agreeing to be waterboarded for real, it still doesn't sit well. Stallone provides a fair director's commentary (I wish his character had his diction), a pretty good making of, one deleted scene and a gag reel.

"By the makers of Robo-Geisha" are words that inspire dread, but I still agreed to put Alien vs. Ninja on the Kung Fu Friday docket (so long as I didn't have to buy it). Well, it wasn't all bad. The video look makes it look horridly cheap and the sexual humor is groan-inducing and immature, but the martial arts were good, and the movie works as a spoof/tribute to such movies as Predator, Alien(s) and Tremors, as filtered through anime's greatest clichés. Hey, it's a ridiculous ninja comedy where they fight gross-out alien monsters. How much are you actually expecting from it? It wasn't boring at its slim 80 minutes and more often amusing than sexist.



RPGs: Our plans for Hong Kong Action Theater this summer are solidifying. I've created a website for the fake "studio", with three fake releases representing the games I'm preparing (based on the scenarios in the book, so I can cut my teeth on the rules). Chargen (that's character generation for you noobs) has also started, with Pout reviving an old stuntman character from a Dream Park game as Hong Kong star Tommy Chu (profile to come on the site, Pout's gotta write the flavor text). We had a good discussion and even created a new Actor Defect, Bad Manager. Tommy Chu will have to contend with random clauses in his contract inserted "for his own good". Gonna be fun. Furn was supposed to create his version of Bolo Yeung, but was called away on a work emergency. Tomorrow then.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
III.ii. Critical Reception

2 comments:

Tim Knight said...

I'm setting my DVR for future Joy Luck productions.

I owned a copy of HKAT back in the day, but never got to play it, so will be interested to see how this pans out (with your penchant for Asian cinema).

Hope it holds the Game ADHD in check... for a while, at least!

Siskoid said...

It only has to hold for the summer, and it looks like it will.

 

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