This Week in Geek (7-13/05/12)

Buys

On DVD, I got Haywire, Brave and the Bold Season 2 vol.2, Longford, Men with Brooms, Chuck Season 5 (still haven't seen anything post-Christmas), Shaolin Handlock, and because they were on the cheeeeap, the new Bionic Woman, the first two seasons of Warehouse 13 and the first three of Sliders. Plus, Doctor Who DVDs of Face of Evil, Nightmare of Eden, Dragonfire, The Happiness Patrol and Carnival of Monsters (special edition). Incredibly, the DCAdventures RPG Heroes and Villains vol.2 came out, featuring the other half of Green Ronin's stats for characters from a universe that no longer exists (sigh).

"Accomplishments"

DVDs: Steven Soderbergh's Haywire seems to have gotten a lot of flack online, usually about his casting of a non-actor, mixed martial arts star Gina Carano, in the lead role. I have no trouble with it, personally. Soderbergh has been casting a lot of non-actors lately, to basically play versions of themselves. Carano doesn't emote much, but neither is she terrible. She's pretty hot in this and the martial arts are outstanding, with every performer pretty much doing their own frenzied fighting. In fact, this spy thriller has many of the sensibilities of Hong Kong cinema, which you know I appreciate. Action heroes chosen for their physical abilities and brute charisma, not their acting chops; a lyrical use of music, filters and editing; and character revealed through action and plot. I'm also a fan of spy thrillers that show off actual spycraft, and Haywire feels legit in that sense as well. Haywire is a slick, structurally interesting action movie that I hope leads to more for Carano. The DVD features interviews with the entire cast, a longer feature on Carano herself - from MMA to film star - and all the web-based promos that essentially give away most of the twists (maybe it's no wonder the film was reviled by some - they got spoiled!).

Mother's Day pick! I got Terminator: Sarah Connor Chronicles' two seasons for a song, but wasn't expecting much. After the first, short, 9-episode season, I can honestly call it a minor gem. My one (small) problem with it is the casting of Lena Heady in the title role, not because she isn't badass and devastatingly beautiful (she is), but because as a Brit, her American accent is distractingly indistinct. Otherwise, it's dark pre-apocalypse series that reminds me in many ways of Battlestar Galactica, not least because of of Bear McCreary's music. Plus, you know, Terminators = Cylons. We've even got Summer Glau doing what she was seemingly built to do as John Connor's new Terminator guardian. The series wins big points as well by being set after T2 and almost immediately erasing T3 from the time line. True to the films, it features uniformly strong action beats, but splits its focus between escaping evil robots from the future and the FBI, and trying to actively prevent the future from happening. There's a certain poetry to some of the episodes thanks to religious themes (again, BSG is invoked), and the creators don't shy away from filling in the blanks left by the films, including flashbacks (forwards) to the future. The DVD has some good extras, including commentary by cast and crew on key episodes, deleted scenes and outtakes, audition tapes and dance rehearsals, a revealing extended cut on "The Devil's Hand" with no music and unfinished effects, and a very good three-part making of.

The first time I saw Paul Gross' Men with Brooms, it may have been a sanitized TV version (though Canadian TV doesn't usually do that), because I don't remember it being so scatological in its first half-hour. Potty humor aside, it remains a fun, offbeat sports comedy that treats curling the same way others treat baseball (i.e. as poetry). You can pretty much expect that odd Canadian mix of eccentric characters, zany humor and truthful, well-acted moments. I do think it goes overboard in its conclusion, which feels like a parody of the Hollywoodian "happy ending". But fun. And the three leads are people that are always watchable - Gross himself, Leslie Nielson and the soulful Molly Parker. The DVD has a short making of featurette and an archive interview with Gross that has nothing to do with the movie.

Chang Cheh's Blood Brothers tells the same basic story as the more recent (and excellent) The Warlords with Jet Li, Andy Lau and Takeshi Kaneshiro. Of course, the aesthetic is completely different, lush greenery where the newer film is a gray wasteland choked with dust. The three blood brothers are here played by Chang Cheh regulars Ti Lung, David Chiang and Chen Kuan Tai, whose happy lives of banditry are ended by one of their number growing ambitious, joining the military and setting his sights on his brother's wife. Despite the love triangle, this is a particularly homoerotic effort from Chang Cheh, but amazingly, a relatively bloodless one. The action is strong across the board, the drama works, and the direction is interesting, but I'm afraid the film is monstrously padded in areas. Could have done with a big editorial trim. Doesn't beat out The Warlords, but still good.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
III.ii. The Mouse-Trap - French Rock Opera

8 comments:

Toby'c said...

I preferred T3 myself (indifferent on Salvation), but I'll give the Sarah Connor Chronicles credit for putting some thought into just what kind of life the Connors could expect after the end of T2 - which is more than I can say for James Cameron. Also, Thomas Dekker and Summer Glau were pretty good.

Siskoid said...

Of course, it might all fall apart in Season 2 which I haven't seen yet (no spoilage thanks!).

I hated T3, personally. It was an unaffecting action film that left me cold and bored. A large part of that is due to the leads, but groaners like the Terminator's inflatable breasts didn't help matters. I did like the twist at the end, but that was about it.

It's entire possible that it misunderstood what makes the Terminator series engaging, and that's Sarah Connor.

Toby'c said...

In fairness, I think they kind of had to move away from Sarah Connor once the Rise of the Machines came along and John was old enough to step up. And the direction T3 took John - homeless drifter as a result of having been robbed of any kind of normal childhood, as well as being totally unprepared for Judgement Day thanks to the 10+ years he spent thinking it had been prevented - it's a lot better thought out than the happy ending that Cameron planned for T2 and I feel Nick Stahl played that role to perfection. And at least he looked like the son of Michael Biehn and Linda Hamilton.

As an action film, I can't deny that T2 is better, but it screws up T1's time-travel concepts so badly (specifically, its Moffat-worthy depiction of a stable time loop) that I much prefer T3 as the canonical conclusion to the saga. Or better yet, for T1 to have never had a sequel. YMMV, obviously.

Incidentally, I haven't seen Season 2 either.

Siskoid said...

I can appreciate your positions and understand it. It just never worked for me.

Anonymous said...

I have endless love for "Men with Brooms". Agreed about the ending being a bit much; I would have been satisfied with an honest, honorable loss that Chris could walk home proudly from.

As for the rest of the mega-happy ending, I didn't have too much problem with all the threads resolving favorably. George Buza's return / forgiveness was straight out of a couple episodes of "Due South", where a Lurking Figure Of Menace would unexpectedly be moved by Constable Fraser's virtue and side with the good guys. If you can't give your protagonist a ridiculous break once in a while, what's the point?

Siskoid said...

Actually I did like that the villain had some kind of honor and took defeat so gracefully. I mean, he was the antagonist, but it's only curling right? He wasn't evil.

Anonymous said...

I didn't have a problem with the American curling star either; I'm thinking more of how the rock explodes and the chunks land so as to give Chris a victory. I can understand how, when Popeye punches a tree, it flies up in the air and it lands as neatly-stacked firewood; it just seemed a bit much for Chris Cutter.

Magical realism, maybe? I guess we can allow for that, in a movie with so many Portentous Beavers.

Siskoid said...

Magical realism sounds about right. The stone was possessed by the coach's ashes.

 

Blog Archive

Category

5 Things to Like Activities Advice Alien Nation Aliens Say the Darndest Things Alpha Flight Amalgam Ambush Bug Animal Man anime Aquaman Archetypes Archie Heroes Arrowed Asterix Atom Avengers Awards Babylon 5 Batman Battle Shovel Battlestar Galactica Black Canary BnB 2-in1 Books Booster Gold Buffy Canada Captain America Captain Marvel Cat CCGs Charlton Circles of Hell Class Comics Comics Code Approved Conan Contest Cooking Crisis Daredevil Dating Kara Zor-El Dating Lois Lane Dating Lucy Lane Dating Princess Diana DCAU Deadman Dial H Dice Dinosaur Island Dinosaurs Director Profiles Doctor Who Doom Patrol Down the Rabbit Hole Dr. Strange Encyclopedia Fantastic Four Fashion Nightmares Fiasco Films Within Films Flash Flushpoint Foldees French Friday Night Fights Fun with Covers FW Team-Up Galleries Game design Gaming Geekly roundup Geeks Anonymous Geekwear Gimme That Star Trek Godzilla Golden Age Grant Morrison Great Match-Ups of Science Fiction Green Arrow Green Lantern Hawkman Hero Points Podcast Holidays House of Mystery Hulk Human Target Improv Inspiration Intersect Invasion Invasion Podcast Iron Man Jack Kirby Jimmy Olsen JLA JSA Judge Dredd K9 the Series Kirby Motivationals Krypto Kung Fu Learning to Fly Legion Letters pages Liveblog Lonely Hearts Podcast Lord of the Rings Machine Man Motivationals Man-Thing Marquee Masters of the Universe Memes Memorable Moments Metal Men Metamorpho Micronauts Millennium Mini-Comics Monday Morning Macking Movies Mr. Terrific Music Nelvana of the Northern Lights Nightmare Fuel Number Ones Obituaries oHOTmu OR NOT? Old52 One Panel Outsiders Panels from Sheena Paper Dolls Play Podcast Polls Questionable Fridays Radio Rants Reaganocomics Recollected Red Bee Red Tornado Reign Retro-Comics Reviews Rom RPGs Sandman Sapphire & Steel Sarah Jane Adventures Saturday Morning Cartoons SBG for Girls Seasons of DWAITAS Secret Origins Podcast Secret Wars SF Shut Up Star Boy Silver Age Siskoid as Editor Siskoid's Mailbox Space 1999 Spectre Spider-Man Spring Cleaning ST non-fiction ST novels: DS9 ST novels: S.C.E. ST novels: The Shat ST novels: TNG ST novels: TOS Star Trek Streaky Suicide Squad Supergirl Superman Supershill Swamp Thing Tales from Earth-Prime Team Horrible Teen Titans That Franchise I Never Talk About The Prisoner The Thing Then and Now Theory Thor Thursdays of Two Worlds Time Capsule Timeslip Tintin Torchwood Tourist Traps of the Forgotten Realms Toys Turnarounds TV V Waking Life Warehouse 13 Websites What If? Who's This? Whoniverse-B Wikileaked Wonder Woman X-Files X-Men Zero Hour Strikes Zine