This Week in Geek (24-30/11/14)


Bought a couple t-shirts with comic book iconography on them, Amazing Spider-Man 2 on the cheap (it's a mess, but Emma Stone!), and looking ahead to daily reviewage in 2015, all of Alien Nation (the film, the series, and the TV movies). Also, Christmas gifts with a geekly bent, but no spoilers!


At the movies: I saw the first two Hunger Games on DVD and thought they were just okay. The third installment, Mockingjay Part 1, I saw in theaters, and though that certainly has a more absorbing effect, I would cite other reasons for it being the first Hunger Games movie to actually move me. For one thing, it's not about those gimmicky games. In the first two films, you could feel the episodic feel of the source material, with its succession of disparate threats, the games a delivery system for incident. Mockingjay is about a rebellion against the Capital blooming, but more than that, it's about propaganda. And as a theme and topic, it's handled with a little more depth than I would have thought (given the other films' far more obvious attack on reality shows, and less than hidden metaphor about growing up). We know the Capital is evil, and that Katniss is good, but the way the Rebellion manipulates information falls into a gray area at best, and that's a whole lot more interesting than throwing the kids into another round of pointless games. I suppose the books grew up with its audience; as a movie franchise, it's just now managed to reach this already wizened audience member.

DVDs: Can you believe I'd never seen The Rocketeer past, I dunno, the first 10 or 15 minutes? Even though I have an interest in superhero movies. Even though Jennifer Connelly (created by God himself to play women in the 30s and 40s) is in it. And Timothy Dalton? Sheesh! Even though it was probably on TV all the time. Remedied the situation this week and thought it a thoroughly pleasant experience. Its hero, played by Bill Campbell, is a "gosh wow", earnest type, which gives the film a retro, serial feel, but the movie is still an atypical Disney release, with plenty of deaths, usually from tommygun fire. But it's still cartoon violence and there's plenty of goofy comedy to lighten things up. By the end, when a Nazi blimp is flying over Hollywood, I was laughing my head off. It's remarkable how its sense of fun pushes you to a place where you can accept the ridiculous as a massive gag. If the Rocketeer had flown again and become a franchise, I'd no doubt have paid more attention to it at the time. It's too bad that never happened, because there's some nice pulpy potential there, fun stunts, and though the effects are dated today, they really aren't THAT dated. In no way do they take you out of the experience.

Aller-Retour is a French-language film made locally about a teenage girl who leaves home after her grandmother's death to make the same cross-province trip she did at her age, traveling for a time with another youth, a flirtatious drifter dealing with his own issues. Filled with non-professional actors, it nevertheless featured a script from one of my better friends (from ideas that came from teenagers as part of a project managed by the province's Francophone Youth Federation) and starred a couple of our improv kids. And an unfiltered, unsanitized, wintry New Brunswick, gray and bleak. And you know, it had its moments of humor and pathos, and I appreciated that the romcom element was left to after the movie ended. If it IS a romantic comedy, then we only see its first act, so we can actually concentrate on the real story, that of a girl exploring her roots and contemplating her future. And you know what? Extra points for not being preachy and in fact, being a movie for teenagers BY teenagers about an experience I'm sure parents would rather their kids not have (running away from home). The DVD actually had some extras, including a trailer, some behind the scenes footage under music (like a second trailer, really), and a fun blooper reel. And of course, my friend was in the room to give her commentary live, and it's amazing how a small indie project like this still had its battles, whether it's about dumbing down the action, forgetting to remove an inappropriate "shop" in the background, or how people should be credited on screen.

Audio: For Doctor Who's 50th, Big Finish and AudioGo released one story per (then known) Doctor in a series called Destiny of the Doctor. These are narrated by actors who played one of each Doctor's companions, somewhat in the style of the Companion Chronicles - generally a two-hander with a guest-actor playing one of the characters while the main actor does every other voice - but the "narrator" being its own separate entity. So for example, in Hunters of Earth, the Hartnell audio, Carole Ann Ford refers to Susan in the third person. Written by Nigel Robinson, the story takes place before An Unearthly Child, when Coal Hill School and London itself are beset by a rash of youth violence, with some mad science potentially responsible. Even without the necessary SF plot, I'd have appreciated the look into Susan's life (and the Doctor's, of course) before Barbara and Ian barged in, just trying to fit in, make friends, and keep their noses clean. Ford does a great job with it - just as she did on the BBC audios of the lost episodes - with Tam Williams bouncing off her nicely as a potential love interest. The series is off to a nice start, making good use of Doctor Who and ACTUAL history.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
V.ii. The Readiness Is All - Classics Illustrated


snell said...

Joe Johnston's great feel for the era made him perfect to direct the first Captain America movie. And now that Disney owns Marvel, don't think that I don't fantasize about him directing a crossover film of Cap & Cliff teaming up to fight saboteurs during Cap's "victory bond" tour...

Siskoid said...

That's be cool, though I imagine Dave Stevens really owns the Rocketeer, not Disney, right?

snell said...

I think Disney still has the film rights...there were reports in 2012 that they were developing a remake/relaunch film...

Siskoid said...

Intriguing news?

LiamKav said...

One thing the AudioGo range has for it is that it's allowed to reference things beyond the TV movie. Nick Briggs mentioned that RTD is basically the reason the audio range didn't get cancelled back in 2005 when the BBC were trying to distance themselves from Doctor Who's old past, and one proviso of not being cancelled was that they weren't allowed to mention things in the new series (Briggs had asked if, for instance, they could mention the Slitheen, and was told "absolutely not" by RTD). I don't know if that rule has relaxed, but I do know that it doesn't seem to apply to AudioGo, hence Destiny of the Doctor covering the first 11 of them.


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