Posts Tagged ‘Lost’

Lost in Space: Awesome Sauce!

April 14, 2008

 

Photobucket

First off, dear readers, I feel the need to give a little background on this blatant attack from OG on me.

See, it all started with Dave.  Not an individual, but the film, Dave, starring Kevin Kline.  I saw the movie, and I found it to be neither good nor bad.  As a matter of fact, I found it to be the most perfectly balanced film I had ever seen, eliciting zero reaction from me of liking or disliking the film.

Photobucket

Understand what I’m saying here – this movie, Dave, simply exists for me.  It is there.  It has no qualities I wish to exalt nor does it have detriments I wish to highlight.  On a scale of 1 to 10, it is a 5.  It is exactly 2 1/2 out of 5 stars.  It is the middle of the road.  It is the first zero sum movie I ever saw.

And, by that virtue… or failing… it is perfectly suited to judge EVERY other film by.  If a film is better than Dave, it is deemed good.  If a film is worse, it is bad.  If it is equal to Dave?  Well… now I’ve never encountered that.  I suppose it is possible, but for the moment, Dave lives a lonely life within the vacuum, simply being the balance point on the scales of enjoyment.

Now, OG is a bit of a contrarian and upon hearing my views on the movie Dave has, in his mind, lifted the movie up on a pedastal that is impossible for most really fantastic films to reach.  Last I heard, I believe that Dave now ranked as number 6 on his greatest films of all time list.  We both know that this is a false view, that it is an honor that Dave by no means deserves, and yet, OG’s nature cannot allow him to admit that I am correct about Dave.

As such, when the issue of taste in film comes up in film, two topics are immediately presented by OG – my view of Dave, and the fact that I think the Lost In Space film is the finest film ever made.

Photobucket

The only problem is, I have never propogated this myth about Lost In Space.

The statement has grown over the years.  Originally, the accusation was merely that I thought Lost In Space was better than James Cameron’s Titanic.  Then, it grew to “he thinks Lost in Space was the best film of the year.”  And, now, myth has it that I think God Himself blessed the earth with the celluloid on which Lost In Space was filmed.

I can tell you the origin of this.  Picture it, if you will:  The year was 1998.  I was taking a light load of classes, finishing up my final semester of college.  As such, I went to a lot of movies.  At the time, the movie Titanic was going on something like its 8 millionth week as the number 1 movie.  Yeah, I saw it, and it was good.  But, after so long of hearing about it breaking records, the constant playing of Celine Dion on the radio, and the swooning of the fairer gender on the campus at the thought of this movie, I was pretty well sick of it.  Near the end of the school year, in April, I went to see Lost In Space.  And you know what?  I enjoyed it.  It was a fun movie, with great special effects.  It was complete eye-candy, perfect for someone finishing up their last semester in college.  Arriving back on campus, I shot off an email to my friend OG, in which I wrote something to this effect:

I think Lost In Space will finally knock Titanic out of the #1 slot.

That’s it.  That was the statement.  My view was that it was a big special effects film, the beginning of the summer blockbuster season, and the audience of poor males that had been drug to see Titanic 14 times would come out to see a film that was so completely NOT Titanic that it would win the slot.

And, by the by, I was right.  It did take over the 1 slot on its opening weekend.

Unfortunately, the email statement has been radically deformed from beyond its original meaning. 

That said, I still think that the 1989 film Lost in Space is an entertaining movie.

A lot of people refer to it as a bad translation of a TV classic.  I would disagree with these folks.  It is not a bad translation of a TV classic, but, rather, a valiant attempt to update a nearly unwatchable TV show.

That’s right, I said it – the Lost in Space TV series was nearly unwatchable.

Actually, that may be a little strong.  The show, in its infancy, was pretty good.  Later, though, particularly when the show hits the color episodes (seasons two and three), when it devolved into the “Dr. Smith, Will, and the Robot Show,” that’s when it became a travesty.  There was little drama, little danger, and very little character development.  Oh, and the “villains” on the show were… well, sad really.

Photobucket Photobucket
The infamous Tybo the Carrot… actual “villain” from the TV show.

This show wasn’t Star Trek (which I love).  This was not a platform on which one could easily build an empire.  No, this was a crummy TV show that has a following based more in nostalgia than any true merit.

(Hey, feel free to disagree with me.  Nevertheless, this is my opinion.)

So, the time comes for a new translation of this idea for film.  The creators are saddled with the responsibility to not only capture a new audience, but to also appeal to those that have a soft spot in their hearts for the original series.

Don’t kid yourselves – this is a tall order.

They take elements from the original series – the basic concept – A family goes into space as Earth faces the massive overpopulation in an effort to find a new world.  The ship is sabotaged by a stowaway using a robot.  The ship is “lost,” forced to try to find a way home.

Photobucket

The filmmakers then spent a fortune on special effects.  If you haven’t seen the movie in a while, you should try checking it again.  The effects are really spectacular throughout… with one exception… but we’ll get to that later.  The ship looks great, the battles are good, lots of explosions, and, man, the space “armor” that is reminiscent of the Batmobile armor is really cool.

Photobucket

And, you know what?  I liked the actors chosen for the roles. 

Photobucket
William Hurt seemed a reasonable fit for an obliviously negligent father.

Photobucket
Mimi Rogers worked quite well as the mother.

Photobucket
Heather Graham was competent in her role as Judy.

Photobucket
Gary Oldman was thankfully restrained to a massive degree in his portrayal of Dr. Smith.

Photobucket
Lacey Chabert brought a nice bit of personality to Penny (who was pretty well forgetable in the original series).

Photobucket
The kid that played Will Robinson (who I can’t be bothered enough to look up his name) was just as annoying as virtually every other kid actor ever. 

Photobucket
And, they got the original voice actor for the Robot, Dick Tufeld (a real treat for fans of the original). 

Photobucket
Plus – I saved this for last – I think that Matt LeBlanc’s portrayal of Don West is probably the best thing he has ever done, and was a shockingly nice surprise.  The chemistry between him and Heather Graham was quite believable.

The film also had the disadvantage of being an “origin” tale.  The makers had to establish the settings, the characters, the reasons they were doing what they were doing, and include an initial adventure all within about a two hour frame.  It is seldom done well, which is why films like X2: X-Men United and Spider-Man 2 surpassed their establishing films.  (On a side note, I think that if the studio had made a second film in this series, the result would have been a much, much better film.)

The movie could have been lighter, sure, but I suspect that the makers were trying to bring a seriousness to the concept that the original series gave up early on.  Their are moments of humor throughout, but the heaviness of the film overshadows them. 

The irony in that is the injection of lightness via the introduction of one of the worst examples of CGI in the film, the one short coming of the effects that I mentioned earlier – Blarp, the chameleon-monkey-creature-thing. 
Photobucket Photobucket
In a lighter type of film, such an obvious toy tie-in might not have been noticable, but in this film, it is glaringly inappropriate, and the very 2-dimensional look of the creature seems to reflect a lack of enthusiasm by the animators to include this thing among their other achievements in the film.

Was the film the best thing ever?  No.  Like I said, it was a little too dark (throwing the film off-balance), and had a really obvious and irritating toy tie-in.  Was it the worst thing ever?  Far from it.  I won’t even say it was a bad film.  It was entertaining, and I’d rather sit through it than any episode of the original series.  If you haven’t seen the movie in a while, check it out again.  You may find yourself pleasantly surprised.

Oh, and I enjoyed it more than Dave, so it must be good.

Advertisements

This blog won’t be the last thing to fail you in life…

March 3, 2008

 

So, you might have noticed I’ve not blogged in a few days and that I also missed my Friday “Post-Id Notes” commitment.  Due to this, you are probably inclined to call me a failure.  

Well, that’s fine.  But, guess what, if you want to call me a failure you’re gonna have to get in a very long line behind most of my family members, friends, the faculty at Carson-Newman College, and the teller at my bank to do so. 

Anyway, I don’t have any long-form reviews or essays today.  Instead, I’ll just throw out a handful of things that are percolating at the top of my brain can… 

TERMINATOR:  THE SARAH CONNOR CHRONICLES: 

I haven’t had a chance to mention this, but I was actually surprised to find that I like this show quite a bit.  I think the lead chick (Lena Headey) is quite compelling and Summer Glau as the female Terminator is playing one of the great odd-ball characters of recent sci-fi.  And, though I’m not the biggest fan of emo John Connor, I like how they’ve found a great story to tell that fills in the gaps between the film series. 

That said, I have yet to watch a single episode all the way through in one sitting.  It’s like something in the Fox transmission signal triggers this narcoleptic condition I never knew I had.   

It’s weird.  It’s not a boring show.  It’s got a good lot of action that isn’t completely mindless, interesting characters, and an automatic “IN” with me on concept alone.   

But still, tonight is the season (possibly series) finale and I’m still 3 episodes behind on my Tivo.  I can’t figure it out.  I keep trying to watch it and keep falling asleep. 

Now, to top it all off, the episode I’m stalled out on currently is the introduction of Brian Austin Green into the series.  Yeah, I’m doomed.  All they need now is for Ian Ziering to appear as a Terminator and I’m all done. 

“Even we are concerned with how boring we are.”  

YOU TUBULAR: 

I saw this clip today at Gawker.com which linked it from kottke.org which got it from You Tube.  But, I couldn’t help myself.  This was too cool and I’d hate for anyone to miss it. 

We comic fans love a good “What if?” and this is a great one.  What if Saul Bass designed the opening credits for the original Star Wars film…  Brilliant! 

THE CONSTANT: 

Last Thursday’s episode of Lost, “The Constant,” is exactly the one I would point to as exhibit A for someone who doesn’t understand my fascination with/adoration for this show. 

In said episode, one of the island-dwellers, Desmond Hume, travels back and forth in time from the present (2004 on the show) and the year 1996.  But, this time-travel isn’t done in a Delorean, a phone booth, or any physical means whatsoever.  It’s actually his consciousness that is travelling back and forth between his current and past self due to heavy exposure to a powerful electromagnetic force. 

This is a heady sci-fi concept and they don’t skirt around the science of it or the inherent paradoxes that time travel stories are typically rife with at all. 

Now, before you tune out, that stuff, while catnip for your hardcore Phillip K. Dick fan, is all very much beside the point.  If it was just about the mode of the time travel and the puzzle that the audience has to piece together to understand it then it would be alienating to most and I wouldn’t win over a single convert. 

But, in this episode, the writers have used the concept for all its metaphorical weight in order to tell a very compelling, heart-breaking love story that culminates with a simple, lump in the throat, phone conversation between two separated lovers struggling to get back to each other’s arms. 

Lost, for all its mysteries, literary references, creepy smoke monsters, and pseudo-scientific minutia is about the characters first and foremost.  It is populated with a cast of broken people who are trying to escape who they are and somehow overcome great obstacles to become who they are supposed to be. 

The greatest mystery being explored on the show is that of the human heart and how you heal it. 

Even the creators of the show have lost track of that from time to time, putting the mythology first.  But, as the strange Ms. Hawkings says in Desmond’s last time-spanning episode in season 3, the universe has a way of course-correcting. 

So too does this show and I think this episode in specific and this season in general have done just that.  It’s once again about being lost and hopefully being found. 

WHAT IN THE FREAK IS FREAK?: 

So, one of the reasons I’ve been not feverishly writing this blog is that I’ve been feverishly writing something else.  This something else is turning out to be all-encompassing to me and I’m completely obsessed with working on it lately. 

It’s a screenplay that takes place in the year 1985.  As happens with my writing, I often have a song playing in the back of my head when I’m working.  These songs usually become themes or evoke a mood for me that I’m trying to get across in the story.   

The song lately on this particular script has been Whodini’s 1984 rap classic, “Freaks Come Out At Night.”  It was mainly the chorus that was thumping in my head but due to the glories and conveniences of iTunes, I grabbed up the song for 99 cents and have been listening to it.

I shouldn’t say “listening to it.”  I should say “living in it.”  What happens is that sometimes I’ll play a song in the car when I’m with my son and if he likes it (“Someone Keeps Moving My Chair,” by They Might Be Giants was the last one) he asks me to play it over and over again until I want to throw myself out of the car window. 

As a result, I’ll venture a guess that over the course of the past weekend I listened to this song more times than it may have ever actually aired on the radio.   

I’m not out of love with it yet.  But, prolonged exposure to it has made me realize that I have no idea who the “Freaks” in this song are supposed to be.  I guess when I first heard it in the 80’s it was fresh off of the still brilliant “Thriller” video and my own Fangoria-obsessed childhood and so I naturally thought the freaks were some sort of ominous, shuffling contingent of the undead prowling the nighttime streets in search of brains.   

But, read a snippet of the lyrics and you tell me who the freaks are supposed to be because I have no idea… 

Now the party’s jumpin’, the place is packed
And when the crowd’s like this, I’m ready to rap
But before I could bust a rhyme on the mic
Freaks are all over me like white on rice
Freaks come in all shapes, sizes and colors
But what I like about ’em most is that they’re real good lovers
They do it in the park, they do it in the dark
But most freaks are known for breakin’ hearts
You could never tell what a freak was thinkin’ of
And you may never catch a freak without at least one glove
And they don’t walk, when they step, they strut
And nine times out of ten they drive you nuts
But take my advice, you don’t stand a chance
Freaks are so bad they got their own dance
So if you wanna live a nice quiet life
Do yourself a favor, don’t come out at night, ’cause
 

Now, let’s pull out a few attributes of the freaks from this.  They’re good lovers, they engage in lewd exhibitionist behavior, they break hearts, they generally wear at least one glove, they strut, they drive you nuts, they’re bad, they have their own dance, and most importantly, they come out at night. I may have been on to something with the “Thriller” connection.  But, it’s not the undead we’re talking about here.  It’s Michael Jackson, right?  I guess the big giveaway is the one glove thing.   

That being said, the song is “Freaks” plural.  Which, as terrifying as it is, means there are more than one of him, right? 

Yikes.  I guess I’m staying in at night. 

Okay, that’ll have to do it for now.  I’ll try to show up again tomorrow. 

But, if I don’t, please know that I love you and I miss you like the deserts miss the rains.

This sure ain’t Garfield!

February 8, 2008

 

Okay, okay, okay.  So here’s what I’m thinking now… 

I’m pretty much convinced that the island exists at a nexus or cross-roads where parallel universes and timelines intersect; this new theory is due in part to the bones of a DHARMA polar bear appearing in the Tunisian desert, Desmond’s cognizant flashes into the past, Charlie’s appearance to Hurley in the future, Christian Shepherd in Jacob’s cabin, and a host of other prevalent anomalies that have been cropping up.  And this nexus is highly unstable especially since the hatch imploded.  Because now there are places, I think, where the island is bleeding out to the rest of the world (remember that healing spot Rose and Bernard went to in Australia) as well as places where the rest of the world is seeping onto the island.  This is why it’s so hard to find or conversely leave the island and also what makes it so valuable to those who seek it.   

Oh, wait; I just alienated exactly 50% of my readership (that’s one person by the way).  

Plus, I wasn’t planning to blog about “Lost” anyway.  (Although I probably will get to that at some point) 

I actually wanted to talk about a whole other mystery-soaked obsession (albeit much more recent) of mine – Cameron Stewart’s addictively good noir webcomic, “Sin Titulo.”   

To confess, I’ve not dug very deep into the world of webcomics.  The peripheral places I’ve skimmed past that subculture have only been the strips of a humorous nature.  (PvP, Perry Bible Fellowship, etc.)   In fact, I actually owe finding “Sin Titulo” to the PvP website.  There was a posting there about a month or so ago about “The Abominable Charles Christopher” by Karl Kerschl at www.transmission-x.com and I went, enjoyed it thoroughly, and have been reading it for weeks since. 

Well, this Wednesday after reading the latest beautifully rendered “Abominable” strip I starting looking at the Transmission-X site and all the other strips that they have there.  I had some time to kill (aka the time I clocked in at work until the time I clocked out) and clicked on the next strip there that looked interesting to me. 

And down the rabbit hole I went. 

I hadn’t realized this, but David Lynch has been writing/drawing a webcomic for the past few months and it’s freakin’ brilliant!  But, in fact, it’s not really David Lynch.  It’s this guy named Cameron Stewart who has clearly consumed his weight in Lynch and is regurgitating it in a far more accessible way.   

Now, don’t get me wrong.  I don’t want or need my Lynch to be accessible.  I’m not saying that.  But, it is nice to read a piece of work that carries over that Lynchian vibe but does so through the auspices of a fairly linear (I assume, but I suppose I need to read more before I say for sure) narrative. 

The story is about Alex Mackay who just found out his grandfather passed away after a month of not knowing.  His trip to collect the old man’s things at the nursing home kicks off a spiral of intrigue, mysterious encounters and dark memories that start bringing down Alex’s world around him. 

I don’t really want to say much more than that because it’s such an engrossing and twisty tail and the kind of journey you should go on yourself. Let me just give a few of the finer points that have me squirming in anticipation for this every Sunday. (That’s the day the strip updates weekly, by the way) 

          The art:  Like I said, I hadn’t heard of Cameron Stewart before this even though I apparently own some of the stuff he’s done (work on Morrison’s “Seven Soldier’s of Victory” project specifically).  I’m kind of stupid that way and don’t remember artist’s too well.  Anyway, that said, I won’t be forgetting this guys name now and I’ll be scanning Previews for his name in the months to come.  I love what he’s doing here.  The dark doorways.  The seedy characters populating the shadows.  The creepy, Lost-esque Room #3.  It’s definitely shown me the true potential of the webcomic medium. 

          The writing:  So, I know comicbookdb.com is far from definitive, but near as I can tell, this guy hasn’t written any major comics.  He seems to be working exclusively as an artist professionally and not as a writer.  If that’s true – someone needs to rectify this situation immediately.  This guy is a great storyteller.  Dialogue and pacing is stellar in this strip and I feel like I’m in the hands of an old pro while reading the story.   

          Alex Mackay:  At first, I was a little put off by the seemingly bland character design of the strips protagonist.  But, as I started to get the Lynch vibe and really began to let myself hear Alex’s voice, I could see the similarities to the kind of characters Kyle MacLachlan played in “Blue Velvet” and what I’ve seen of “Twin Peaks” and how he had to be an everyman type.  What really got me invested in him as a character though was his recollection of a particularly traumatic childhood memory that spanned a handful of strips.  Now I can pick this guy out of a line up easily (the band-aid on his forehead helps too!) and I’m desperate for him to get at the truth.  Also, his job is as a fact-checker at a local newspaper and is a brilliant surrogate for the traditional noir PI character archetype and reminiscent of the insurance adjuster in “Double Indemnity.”  That’s so great that I kind of can’t believe that someone hasn’t thought of it before. 

Anyway, I’ve gone this far and haven’t given you the link to the strip.  So, get yourself a cup of coffee, clear an hour on your schedule, and click here:  http://www.transmission-x.com/_sin_titulo/2007/06/17/page-01/ 

You’ll only be sorry once and that’s when you get to the end of the most recent strip and realize that you now have to wait for the next piece of the puzzle.

Ex Files

January 23, 2008

Remember the “X-Files?”   

Boy, that show was really, really cool until it really, really sucked.  A great few years of classic sci-fi anthology storytelling marinated in a rich, well-crafted mythology that built up conspiracies within conspiracies only to squander it with two (arguably three) final seasons and one passable film that did nothing to pay off the years of speculation and mystery that had been created.  And, for our endless patience and faithfulness as an audience, they gifted us with a bored, half-awake David Duchovny (who only bothered to enunciate his lines or “act” when they gave him the occasional vanity episode to write/direct), a floundering Scully with pregnancy/cancer melodramas to muddle through, and two replacement leads in Robert Patrick and Annabeth Gish as Agents Grumbly Pants and Vacant Stare respectively.  

Oh, and then there was the “Lone Gunman” spin-off.  The “Joanie Loves Chaci” of sci-fi entertainment.  (Yeah, I watched it.  And, yeah, I hate myself a little bit for that.) 

Ya know, you hurt me “X-Files.”  You took me in, held me tight, and made me feel alright about being home on a Friday night.  You gave me a place when no other show would have me; when all the cool kids were hanging out on “Melrose Place” making fun of my knock-off Bugle Boy jeans.  But, not you “X-Files.”  You were there for me.   And then…you hurt me.  You hurt me real bad.  In fact, if I’m being completely honest, it still burns a little when I pee. 

But, that’s okay.  I’ve gotten over it all.  I’ve moved on.  It’s been six years.  I’ve been seeing other shows and they’ve been treating me a heckuva lot better than you ever did; treating me with more respect.  “Lost,” to name one, has given me mysteries too; perhaps even similar to the ones you gave me.  But, they’ve also given me an end game and the promise that they saw what you did to me and aren’t going to leave me hanging the same way. 

Oh, there are others I could name.  But, I’m not trying to make you jealous “X-Files.”  If you are then that baggage is all yours.  I’m free now.  And I’m beautiful.  You won’t ever make me feel ugly or stupid again! 

I hope. 

So, I see you’re coming around again with a new “movie.”  I guess I’m supposed to get all excited just at the mention of your name.  Perhaps you expect me to get myself all dolled up again, put on my best dress, and wait outside for your car to come around the corner all shiny and new and stop at my door.  Well, not anymore mister!  I respect myself too much to do that again!   

(A long pause as I look into the dark recesses of my weary, pathetic geek soul.  The very same soul that actually got excited about “Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer” even after watching the first film resurrect Jack Kirby only to visit Biblical levels of punishment upon his writhing, moaning zombie corpse.) 

Oh, who am I kidding?  I love you “X-Files.”  I always have and I always will.  I know you’ll try harder this time.  I know you’ve learned from your mistakes and that you’re ready to put the full 110% into this relationship again.  I know you’ve got it in you to be good again.  To be good to me!   

I’m waiting for you “X-Files!”  Opening weekend baby!  You, me and a big bag of popcorn.  This time we’re going to do it right.  This time it’s gonna last forever!   

What’s this?  A new promotional picture.  Ooh.  Well, I must confess I’m dying to see what you’ve done with yourself all these years….

Zzzzzzzzzzz…..huh?  What’s that?  Oh, goodness me.  I fell asleep just pasting that image there. 

You haven’t changed a bit, have you?  I should’ve known.  You’ll never change!  You disgust me!  I don’t ever want to see you again!!!!!

 So, um, er…. I’ll see you opening weekend, then?…Great, great…What’s that?…Don’t wait up? … You’ll call me when you’re ready? 

Oh, okay.  That’s cool.  Well, talk to you soon.  I love you. 

Hello?  X-Files?  Aren’t you going to say you love me too? Are you there?

Hmm.  Must have lost the connection.  I’m sure he’ll call back.