This Week in Geek (16-22/09/13)


This week, two Doctor Who books came to my mailbox: The 2nd Doctor Sourcebook for Cubicle 7's Doctor Who RPG and About Time 7, Mad Norwegian's tackling of Series 1 and 2 of the new series. I also got In the Loop (see below) and Parks and Recreation Season 5 on DVD. ANNNNND a co-worker went to Morocca this summer after asking if I wanted anything. I said a fez, of course, and she got them for the whole team. Now I have headwear for my 50th Anniversary Doctor Who party next November 23rd!


DVDs: I already gave Star Trek Into Darkness a long review yesterday, and the DVD I got has absolutely no features so... enjoy that review one more time. What? I need to vamp while the picture on the right clears off the scroll? Hm... Let me look at the DVD case here... Ok, here's a thing. I actually own the "bilingual" copy, so most of the packaging is in both official Canadian languages. Of course "Star Trek vers les ténèbres" is only half in French. Sad, really. When I was a kid, Star Trek in French was called "La patrouille du cosmos", literally "The Cosmos Patrol". They'd dropped that by Next Gen I think. I'm wondering too if it's kosher to translate critical quotes instead of finding new quotes by French critics. I mean, if Rolling Stone's Paul Travers thought it was "Crazy good", he didn't mean "Diablement bon" which means "Devilishly good". Nuance. We done now? Good, ok. NEXT!

Well the next film on the list is one I've briefly reviewed before when I saw it in theaters: Abraham Lincoln - Vampire Hunter. Still awesome, though I will admit that the movie sometimes takes shortcuts to get from one place to another in Lincoln's life, and I find myself missing scenes that might've deepened the various relationships. Throw me a bone, cool-ass movie about an American president fighting the undead! It's a DVD, Director's Cut this thing to something approaching an epic-level two hours! This DVD includes a very good and honest commentary track by writer (of both the novel and the screenplay) Seth Grahame-Smith of Pride & Prejudice & Zombies fame, and if you don't usually have the patience for commentaries, a 15-minute making of will take you threw many of the important beats with cast and crew.

I watched them out of order! Julie Delpy's 2 Days in New York was a fun and well-observed comedy that brought her French family (including her real-life hilarious father) to NYC to plague her character's boyfriend, played by Chris Rock. 2 Days in Paris was the first of the sequence, taking place 5 years before when Marion went back home with her then-boyfriend, a neurotic New Yorker played by Adam Goldman. First of all, I can see how Delpy would have wanted to do a follow-up that focused on Marion's crazy family. 2 Days in Paris uses them, but leaves you wanting a lot more. The focus is instead on Goldman freaking out as his girlfriend's history comes back to kiss cheeks and make inappropriate comments (to a repressed American anyway). As with the other film, it's especially funny to someone who speaks both French and English like me, because you understand both sides of conversations without the filter of subtitles. Oh look, the DVD packaging has DIFFERENT pull quotes for each language! Take note, Star Trek. The DVD also has a long, fun conversation (in French) with Julie Delpy.

Another comedy about clashing cultures is In the Loop, which takes Peter Capaldi's foul-mouthed Malcolm Tucker character from The Thick of It and has him deal with screw-ups in foreign affairs for a change, when a mid-level minister makes a diplomatic faux-pas about a possible war in the Middle East which some elements in the U.S. government are supporting. As a part of the Thick of It universe, it's a bit odd because it uses a lot of the actors from that show in different roles, and yet is undeniably part of the same world. Opening that world up to similar departmental shenanigans in the U.S. adds new and equally funny characters on the American side (including a peacemongering general played by James Gandolfini) and could almost act as a pilot for an American Thick of It. Capaldi gives a full performance (which is exciting for Doctor Who fans), moving from big fish in a small pond to the opposite when on the other side of the Atlantic, getting in well over his head, and hopefully triumphing in the end. It's not unlike his character arc over the course of the entire TV series. Sadly, no DVD extras here. I'm sure there was a lot of funny stuff on the cutting room floor.

The Lone Wolf and Cub movie series's second film, the fantastically-titled Baby Cart at the River Styx, continues its adaptation of the famous manga, and with the "origin story" out of the way, is free to develop more interesting villains and get the heroes to different parts of Japan. A lot of badassery and pathos, and Baby Cart (which is what I'm forced to call the baby, I know that's not his name) gets his first active kill. So cute! Despite the carnage! Plus, rocking geisha assassin action. I wonder if the the role of women in the series is an evolving metaphor. In Sword of Vengeance, there were a lot of visual metaphors for motherhood. Here, women are not caretakers, but relentless killers, perhaps because the kid is bonding with his father and moving away from the need for a mother figure. Of course, it's quite violent and gory, but also visually inventive and beautiful, bringing the manga to life (including a scene that I remember being parodied in an issue of Ambush Bug - so THAT'S where that came from!). The DVD cannot provide a trailer (apparently a few from the series have been lost to the ages), and while the liner notes do have some repetition (the stuff about feudal Japan) from the first DVD, there's some new stuff as well (on ninjas, various clans, and the geography and economy specifically seen in this sequel).

Staying in Japan, All Monsters Attack AKA Godzilla's Revenge is a very bad Godzilla film. Or at least, I thought it was when I first saw it during a marathon on TV some years ago. Watching it again, it's not a bad children's film, or even a bad portrait of post-war Japan and how a whole generation of kids had to deal with both parents working and the industrialization of their country. It's still a bad kaiju film though. Basically, the film follows a young boy, bullied by classmates, alone for long periods after school, and absurdly, kidnapped by bank robbers as part of the film's plot. He merely DREAMS of Godzilla, or really, of being friends with the so-called "Son of Godzilla" Minilla, a silly creature with which he views film clips from previous Godzilla movies (all fights, thankfully, though don't expect the 'zilla suit to be consistent from moment to moment), with some new material against one of the lamer monsters. Minilla must learn to fight (I basically want to scratch my eyes out whenever he's on screen), and that in turn teaches the kid to fight back against the crooks holding him. The DVD in the excellent Toho Master Collection also features the American version, which does away with the stupid song at the beginning and makes Minilla sound like it was dubbed by Goofy, and includes an expert commentary track (that doesn't mind making fun of the film's weaknesses and bad reputation, which is appreciated) and liner notes on the director's biography and various promotional materials.

RPGs: Justice Legion - A Fragile Peace, episode 4: Marie Celestial
We've reach the halfway point in my ongoing DC Adventures RPG "season" about the Justice Legion, a superhero team in the DCU somewhere between the present day and the 31st century. Tried a fun experiment to open the session, asking three players present (playing the brick Green Lantern, sentient computer program Oracle, and Aaron Strange, Adam's descendent who owes a lot more to Zap Brannigan) to name the villain they wanted to have just captured, to set the adventure as they were returning to Earth with him/her/it. They got to flashback to the fight, and I got to improvise since I planned for said villain to awaken at the worst possible time to screw things up. They decided on Bizarro Starro, or Biztarro for short, an insane idea that was both ridiculous and awesome to implement (Biztarro doesn't conquer worlds, it mind controls whole populations into leaving their world behind). The real crux of the story was a Dominator ship drifting across the Buffer Zone between the Dominion and the United Planets, with all hands lost. Aaron got sick checking things over there, so it became a race against time finding a cure, while another Dominion ship bore down on them for revenge, and Biztarro sprung itself loose. Lots of laughs, an evolving mystery (who infected the crew?) and seat-of-the-pants GMing and playing alike. Next: Bringing future Task Force X into it! Task Force Z!

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
IV.v. Laertes' Return - Fodor (2007)

Your Daily Splash Page this week features a splash from every DC title, alphabetically, from Secret Origins to Sensation Comics.


American Hawkman said...

Bizstarro is easily the best idea I've heard of in a while. Awesome!

Siskoid said...

I can only take maybe 25% of the credit, obviously, but I'll relay the compliment!


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