This Week in Geek (19-25/05/14)


Just in time, it seems, I got the DVDs of The Day and the Time of the Doctor, as well as the release of the newly-found The Enemy of the World, and unrelated to Who, the final season of Warehouse 13.


At the movies: I launched Godzilla Week last Monday because I'd just seen the new Godzilla film, and as you know, I'm a big fan of the King of the Monsters. If I were to compare the other American attempt at the franchise, by which I mean the unwatchable 1998 Roland Emmerich flick, I would point to how in contrast Gareth Edwards isn't ASHAMED of doing a Godzilla film. His monsters may be CG, but they look like they could be guys in suits. Godzilla has his full suite of powers and the way his plates light up before a radioactive breath blast is AWESOME. It neither tries too hard to make the kaiju "realistic" nor camp things up because "it's a silly premise", two traps the Zilla'98 fell into despite seeming like opposites. The destruction is great, and the original monster feels of a piece with Godzilla's rogues gallery. Edwards shoots the film as a homage, with neat little references to other monsters, but with an artist's eye as well. The theme, for the monsters as much as for the human characters, is the parent-child relationship, and we're often confronted with the sight of a child reuniting with a parent. Now, I don't think the human characters are all that engaging. The big stars don't get enough screen time and Aaron Taylor-Johnson is a fairly forgettable action hero, but I've seen Godzilla movies before; that's par for the course, and they still do better than most. My one big complaint is the music. Not only is the memorable Godzilla theme absent, but the score feels entirely generic. I can't believe there was a rights issue when an indie like Holy Motors used it just last year. Get on that for God2illa, won't you?

DVDs: Catching up on some UK TV, I watched Ripper Street Season 2. It puts the Ripper murders that loomed large in Season 1 in the deep background, and concentrates on new villains, including a corrupt police inspectors working out of nearby Limehouse, and a greedy land baron who has our favorite brothel under his fist. These subplots are advanced throughout and eventually come to a head, while also giving us a different case each episode, and a new police rookie played by Being Human's Damien Molony in the regular cast. If I keep returning to Ripper Street, it's for more than the Holmesian mysteries, but for the heightened antiquated language, which gives the show its own unique poetry. We're also at a point where we care about the recurring characters' lives, which may then be explored for their own sake. The DVD includes about 12 minutes of making of material.

As you know, I just finished Doctor Who Series 7, which means I flipped the DVD. It wasn't my favorite - probably the weakest since Series 2 - though it wasn't the characters/actors' fault. Episodes mostly left me cold, with some notable exceptions. Track back through the daily reviews to find out more. As for the DVD package itself, I found it a little disappointing as well. There are commentary tracks on several episodes, though almost never the big arc ones, the exception being The Snowmen, which is given over to art directors, so not very arc-relevant after all. Was Moffat afraid to give away too much? None of these tracks actually passes "okay". Obviously, all the mini-episodes and prequels are included, as well as a medley of Doctor Who Confidential-type making of material, not always concentrating on what I'd like them to (for example, they talk about stunts for The Name of the Doctor, instead of, y'know, how they integrated classic Doctors into the action). Several episode-centric featurettes add to the corpus (one on Clara, another on recreating the Ice Warriors, etc.). You'll also find BBC America materials including a better-than-expected special on the Doctor coming to America, physically or in the show (going back to The Chase), what the show's relationship with the U.S. is, on its American characters, etc. Another special, interviewing actors and scientists about the Science of Doctor Who is about what you'd expect, but it at least doesn't take itself too seriously. The featurette on the Doctor's companions is just New Series, so whatever. Doctor Who's visit to ComicCon has some fun bits, and Matt and Jenna's interviews on The Nerdist complete the package. Oh. And the subtitles are complete RUBBISH. Obviously not working from the scripts, they are peppered with mistakes, what the typist think they heard.

Books: Douglas Coupland's most recent effort, Worst. Person. Ever. is a toxic satire of our culture, as narrated by the eponymous character, Brit B-unit cameraman Raymond Gunt. We follow him, and his well-meaning, formerly homeless assistant Neil, on a long and karma-stricken trip to a Survivor-like show/island. Throughout, Ray does and says the worst thing possible, and is rewarded for it by a vengeful universe. It didn't take long at all for me to imagine this as a Simon Pegg/Nick Frost double act, and it can, like those actors' films, be genuinely funny. Nevertheless, because Coupland uses Ray's voice, he too must become the worst person ever, and it can sometimes make it difficult for the reader to laugh along. If this is a piercing look at a culture, like Generation X, Microserfs or Jpod, it is more far-ranging, not tied to any one job environment or generation. It's the culture of the selfish asshole that transcends all of that. It perhaps reaches for too much. Themes and allegory seem to emerge at times, but it would be very much like me to project too much on what is essentially just a (witty) collection of dick moves.

Hyperion to a Satyr posts this week:
V.i. The Gravedigger Scene - Fodor (2007)


Randal said...

I'll be the guy. I liked 1998 Godzilla. My four and five year old boys love the cartoon...been watching it on Netflix ever since the new movie came out and I tried to explain Godzilla to them. As far as they're concerned, the movie is funny and scary and Godzilla makes sense to them because they chase lizards all the time in our backyard here in Arizona. Funnily enough, there's a seven or eight inch lizard that lives around here that we've called Godzilla for years...I think they were primed to see Godzilla that way from birth.

Michael May said...

I don't think the '98 Godzilla is an awful kaiju movie. It's not a Godzilla movie, but I can enjoy it as a generic giant monster flick.

Siskoid, it took me three viewings of the new Godzilla to miss the original score, but I'm there with you now. I love the movie and that didn't take away from it for me, but it does seem like a missed opportunity.

Siskoid said...

I admit: I never finished Zilla98. I's one of those movies that became a little too stupid for me and I just got bored (not that many Godzilla movies aren't completely stupid, but then I have the motivation that it's Godzilla). Other films in this category include Batman & Robin and Lost in Space.


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