This Week in Geek (26/06-02/07/17)

"Accomplishments"

In theaters: Edgar Wright's long-awaited Baby Driver is a marvel of sound design, using its diagetic soundtrack and sound effects to create the visuals' syntax, with Wright bringing his attention to detail and sense of comic timing to what is this time technically an action drama. The story follows the character of Baby, a precision driver with tinnitus who must listen to music to drown out the noise and has been roped into a rash of burglaries that, as might be expected, go terribly wrong just as he's trying to pull himself out. It occurred to me that while Hollywood movies are credited for inventing, or at least over-using, the car chase, few of them are ever at once interesting and look real (as opposed to both Fast and Furious). It takes Hong Kong directors or Europeans to really hit some high notes with that type of action, it seems. All that to say the car chases in Baby Driver are INSANELY good. And while the plot, though not without its surprises, is simple and even familiar, its interesting characters and technical mastery hardly give you enough time to notice.

Netflix: Bong Joon Ho (The Host, Snowpiercer) could never be called subtle when it comes to his themes, and his Netflix original film, Okja, about the love between a little Korean farm girl and the eponymous giant superpig, is no different. It could be about any kind of livestock and consumer meat. But tonally, while he steadily gets us to a heavy-handed climax, the action, visuals, strange comic performances from the like of Tilda Swinton, Paul Dano and Jake Gyllenhall, keeps the audience in a state of amused delight until it's almost too late. And perhaps that unpredictability is what prevents it from turning into cheese. Okja is an adorable creature creation - like something out of Miyazaki, brought to life - and extremely well realized in terms of interaction with the real world. And as is often true with the best Korean directors, even shots of New York have a freshness. It's a beautifully designed film with an usual story that will probably tug at many a heart string. It didn't quite get to me personally, but there were salt-encrusted eyes in the room when the lights came up.

DVDs: To my surprise, Arrow's 4th season has turned out to be the best, or indeed the only one I've felt very enthusiastic about, even though the Island/past story has mostly felt like slow-moving filler. But I don't remember the show ever getting me as emotional as this season and the extremely desperate positions the characters were placed into, all become of the season's villain, Damien Darhk, played by the very entertaining Neal McDonough (though perhaps his portrayal isn't far enough from his Justified villain), and the introduction of proper magic to the CW DCU. At the 4-year-mark, the DVD extras are getting a little more scarce, but there are still deleted scenes, outtakes, and a very boring ComiCon panel, and three featurettes on key guest characters.

The Flash Season 2, contemporaneous with Arrow S4, follows the same formula. It front loads episodes that introduce characters heading for Legends of Tomorrow, then gets down to brass tacks, developing a super-evil villain and putting its heroes through hell, a hell from which not all of them may survive. It also introduces Earth-2 (or AN Earth-2), which becomes a source of a fair few new villains, which is cool. I'm less enthused by the tepid Jay Garrick-Caitlin Snow romance, no matter what its payoff is. I guess at this point, I can't quite stand Caitlin blubbering about something or other. That, and anything to do with time travel, because Barry invariably commits time crimes in the most bonehead manner whenever the show goes there. From what I understand, I'm in for some pain in Season 3. But mostly good despite my misgivings. The DVD has tons of extras, with featurettes and/or special effects featurettes on most episodes, two convention panels, an hour-long feature on Kevin Smith directing an episode, plus the usual deleted scenes and well-produced gag reel.

Doctor Who Titles: Edge of Destruction (on YouTube) is a 30-minute sci-fi/action short out of China, heaving on homemade CG effects, and sadly light on substance. The premise is pretty cool, combining the legend of the Small Goose Pagoda and alternate worlds, but in a half-hour packed with shoot-outs and Street Fighter-style kung fu, there's really no time to develop a story or characters (the protagonist has the most depth, but he's not all that deep anyway). End of the day, Edge feels like the kind of genre TV series they aired Saturday afternoons in the 90s. I did not then want to watch the 15-minute sequel, which is the most damning comment I could make. Promising, but fails to rise above the level of student film.
#The TARDIS lands in the film... near the Pagoda, and he's in charge of saving the hapless tour guide/"Alpha" from the mirror universe's cyborgs, and of course, all the technobabble. After he and the Ponds help the young man master his powers, they leave him to defend the interdimensional rift lest worse things slip out.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Yeah, Barry just keeps doing stupid shit until you just want to slap him, doesn't he? But it's not all bad; Caitlin gets more ... interesting in future seasons.

Mike W.

Anonymous said...

Aside from casting Jason Mewes in a minor role, Smith's episode wasn't the sophomoric train wreck I was expecting.

--De

Siskoid said...

Mike: I tried to slap Barry but he was too fast for me.

De: There's a house style he had to conform to, and he certainly didn't write it, so I don't think it was ever going to be a "Kevin Smith movie".

 

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