Monthly Archives: March 2011
This article is an interesting attempt at defending Sucker Punch. By the end of the article, the argument becomes weak – eventually saying it’s flawed but Snyder was at least allowed to make an attempt at something. But I do like how the author says that no one is using the movie screen canvas like Snyder. It’s true.
Now that I’ve spent my $7 and seen Sucker Punch, I can work on a letter I’ve been meaning to send out. Well, a series of letters, if you will. Sucker Punch is not the only film plagued by certain media problems, but it is one of the most recent. If you want, you can imagine this for other films. I definitely have ideas for other letters, too, based on the form of this one. Read the rest of this entry
To be as blunt as possible, there is very little to say about Simon Pegg and Nick Frost’s film Paul. If you enjoyed the parodic sendoffs in Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz but also appreciate science fiction films, then you already plan on seeing Paul. You no doubt already plan on enjoying the film as well; you will not be disappointed. Like the other two films, the beats of parody hit quite soundly while a very solid heart beats beneath. The main difference between those films and the new release are the American setting, the higher budget, and the more local (or recognizable) cast.
What further differentiates this film in my mind from the other two films, not to mention the science fiction and comedy worlds in general, is that it made me reconsider the conceits we make when indulging in media. Fiction is a form of entertainment that requires the audience to suspend its disbelief. People talk about this all the time, often when defending the more ludicrous aspects of a media property when someone mentions a suddenly misguided spark of logic that has come to mind. “It’s a movie! You’re supposed to suspend your disbelief!” There’s no need for logic. There’s no need for realism. This is a movie! Read the rest of this entry
While Doctor Who is slowly establishing itself as a source for decent science fiction stories in America, its spin-off, Torchwood, is still an obscure property over here. Given the pop culture sensibilities of this country, it should have been an easy sell. Torchwood is Doctor Who‘s shadow. Torchwood shows a dark and gritty world of sex, swearing and pessimism while Doctor Who promises the romantic notion of clean fun while bringing out the best in everyone. Torchwood should be an easy sell because the first two series of its run are mature in the same way that R-rated movies and M-rated games are mature. Who doesn’t like violence, unnecessary swearing, and strong sexuality?
Then came Torchwood: Children of Earth. This third series can be considered an experiment by the producers, mostly because the BBC had to cut the budget and thus the entire run. Instead of 12 episodes, they received 5. Instead of the usual late Sunday night time slot, it was shown on five consecutive nights during the week. This is what television stations do to a show when they expect it to fail and just want to get it out of their system. Children of Earth should have floundered but was an absolute success. Focusing on five consecutive episodes forced the writers in a position to make a strong yet concise tale about human pessimism and survival. Read the rest of this entry
Philip K. Dick’s back catalog of paranoid insanity is sadly becoming easy pickings for Hollywood’s drought of ideas. While Blade Runner and Minority Report have become classics for one reason or another, films like Paycheck and Next make fans almost ashamed of their beloved Dick. The general problem is that few truly understand the complex and sometimes schizophrenic nature of the material. Most films attempt to simplify it, which changes it into something else entirely. And then it doesn’t work.
The Adjustment Bureau could have been a complete toss-up. Showcased in this story is Dick’s paranoid view of the world around him, how there is a second layer discretely manipulating the first layer. Whether it is a shadow conspiracy or the hand of God does not matter. What matters is that people are not noticing. What matters is that people are having their choices nullified and reduced to insignificance. A world like that causes existential angst. It’s nihilism based not on a lack of reward but on lack of involvement instead.
[Author’s Note: If you’re just curious about what I thought of the movie, skip down to where you see the asterisks. Otherwise, this is a very lengthy post. I’ve noticed that no one tends to read the entries about anime (except for the dozens of people who keep coming here for Tekkaman Blade pics), so I went crazy with it. If you want to read a 2300-word post, knock yourself out. I promise you none of it will be on the exam, though.]
It is difficult to find good, creative, original science fiction. Sure, some people might have that one friend who does nothing but read science fiction anthologies and keep up with all of the latest material on the web, but the rest of us have few sources and even less time. What the popular multimedia world is most often known for are the scifi retreads – either of old works or old ideas. “It’s the delivery that matters!” we say to ourselves. While true, it also opens ourselves up to eating the same cereal so long as the marshmallows are offered in new shapes and/or colors. For example, I loved four and a half seasons of Ron Moore’s Battlestar Galactica despite the fact that it was a retread of the original BSG that invoked the darker and edgier trope and borrowed heavily from Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep?/Blade Runner and a little from the rest of the Philip K. Dick library. I recognized the sources clearly but still moved forward. That may very well be the reason why I was able to move forward with it.
There are no more original ideas. It’s all be done before. The movie trailers on TV look like items from either a few years to a few decades ago. It seems like movies are being made just so the studios have a steady flow of product coming out. No one holds off for the great ideas. No one devotes time to meticulously perfect a creation. Having something out there is generally regarded as being much better than having something great.
I’ve always been an anime fan. The general anime fan likes to cite creativity as a reason why s/he prefers Japanese output over American. I’m not that fan. I’m not an otaku, as I’ve said before. I watch what I watch. While the ideas over there are decidedly different in origin, they area also quite plagued by hackneyed ideas. Watch enough Japanese content and you find that it becomes increasingly more difficult to find original ideas. (Even in writing this introduction to a review about The Disappearance of Haruhi Suzumiya I’ve realized that it is not entirely original because it could be considered a lighter and fluffier version of Akira. I’m still moving forward with this idea of original content, though.) No matter where you look, people borrow from ideas that they find interesting. Read the rest of this entry
It is not uncommon these days to be curious about copyright laws and how they became the creature they are today. Not a month goes by without the mention of another lawsuit about someone breaking copyright law, either by copious downloading of material on the internet or by direct reference in something recorded and published. Copyright appears to be this limiting force that somehow costs people thousands of dollars. Honestly, that is all I really knew of copyrights – aside from the obvious “I own the rights to the work, so profits for original sales should go to me.”
Then I discovered James Boyle’s The Public Domain, which he has fittingly offered up for free download. The book is not the complete history of copyright law that I sought. Instead it was an overall easy read about the idea of copyright as well as its evolution to what it is today. It is also a commentary on what it should be. Read the rest of this entry