Tag Archives: it’s that guy

The Martian (2015)

It's a small niggle, but although Watney's faceplate gets smashed like that in the book, it never happens in the movie.
It’s a small niggle, but although Watney’s faceplate gets smashed like that in the book, it never happens in the movie. It has been pointed out to me that actually that’s a reflection in the faceplate, so there you go.

“Help is only 140 million miles away”

Directed by Ridley Scott
Starring Matt Damon, Jessica Chastain, Chiwetel Ejiofor and… well, a whole lot of folks

When a storm forces the Ares-3 crew, led by Commander Lewis (Chastain) to abort, an accident seemingly kills mission botanist Mark Watney (Damon). By pure luck, he survives, but is faced with the seemingly insurmountable challenge of continuing to do so until some sot of rescue can reach him.

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Dragon Dynasty (2006)

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Directed by Matt Codd
Starring Federico Castelluccio, Stana Katic, Peter Kwong, Aaron Hendry, Dion Basco and James Hong

Marco Polo is getting ready to leave China, together with his entourage of Italian explorers. When the emperor (James Hong) gives Marco a bundle of gifts, evil priest guy Shang Sel (Peter Kwong of Big Trouble in Little China fame) smuggles some kind of mystical dragon thingummy into it so that dragons will follow Marco and kill him? He doesn’t like westerners or something.

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Blade (1998)

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“The power of an immortal. The soul of a human. The heart of a hero.”

Directed by Stephen Norrington
Starring Wesley Snipes, Stephen Dorff, Kris Kristofferson and N’Bushe Wright

In a world where vampires rule from the shadows, making deals and controlling multinational businesses, only a handful of hunters oppose them. Blade (Snipes) is one such hunter, a hybrid with the powers of a vampire but not their weaknesses. When vampire radical Deacon Frost (Dorff) threatens all out war with humanity, only Blade can stop him.

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From the Archive – Nemesis (1993)

Nemesis (1993)

Nemesis

“In the future, it pays to be more than human.”

Inflicted by Albert Pyun
Starring Olivier Gruner, Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa, Tim Thomerson and Brion James

Right. Alex is a cop, see, and he’s hunting these terrorists called the Red Army Hammerheads. The RAH are cyborgs. Or maybe they don’t like cyborgs. Anyway, Alex gets shot up by them and has to have even more of his meaty bits replaced with robot parts. He pursues his quest for vengeance to “Baja, New America,” where he guns down the people who shot him up. He then confronts the LAPD types who follow him, and tells them he’s quitting.
Good so far?
More time passes, and we find Alex eking out a mercenary lifestyle in the “New Rio net.” He gets bushwhacked by a cyborg and taken to confront his LAPD boss (Tim Thomerson) and his inexplicably European minions. They tell him he’s got a bomb in him and send him off to Java or somewhere to track down some terrorists. Or something. A chip with his ex-girlfriend’s personality (Personality is a pretty strong term for it – The Prophet) on it comes into it somewhere. Surprise surprise, Tim Thomerson was the baddie all along, being in actuality an evil cyborg who replaced the real Tim Thomerson and who now chases Alex and this girl he just met all over hell and gone, shooting at them with an arsenal of high-tech waprons.
Yes, waprons. Goodness defeats wickedness, hurrah hurrah.

What’s wrong with it?

Olivier Gruner fails to bring the necessary tenderness and humanity to his role as a none-too-bright robot. Special effects are crude, fight scenes are stilted and dull, and the love interest was obviously sleeping with the director, which just goes to show that if your name is Albert Pyun, even being a Hollywood director is not enough to get the really pretty girls. He’s going to have to start dealing coke.

What’s right with it?

 Uh, some of the scenery is kind of nice, I guess, when they’re in the south pacific. And Cary-Hiroyuki Tagawa is funny as a tropical gangster. But he’s not in it for long.

How bad is it really?

 I saw this movie with Happyfett and our friend Tim, and those hardened veterans were ready to gnaw their own legs off to get away. And Happyfett wasn’t even drinking.

Best bit (if such there is)?

Alex and girl-he-just-met fly away from robo-Thomerson in a plane on strings. But the villain clings to the bottom and clambers up to attack! In the ensuing struggle (which is all done in stop-motion; it’s kind of like watching Jack Skellington kick King Kong’s ass), robo-Thomerson grabs Gruner’s head and scrapes it against the plane’s torn bulkhead, peeling the skin off his forehead, revealing gleaming metal beneath!. Course, we already knew Alex was a cyborg, so it’s really not that big a deal.

What’s up with…?

  • “cyborg” meaning “robot” in this world?
  • the New Rio net? It’s totally inexcusable that this was not called “neo-Rio.”
  • “Baja, New America?” “Baja” just means “lower.” Baja what? I mean, yeah, OK, people call Baja California “Baja” for short, but that’s still not its name.
  • the LAPD’s incredible expanding jurisdiction? Not only do they send Alex to chase crooks in Bora Bora or wherever, but when he gets there the crooks are hiding from the LAPD.
  • the haircuts? Whenever Pyun needs to tell us that time has passed, he changes Alex’s haircut, from Moe-cut to mullet to low-top fade. He’s like a one-man Kid ‘n’ Play of the future.
  • the Red Army Hammerheads? I think I saw them opening for Midnight Sunstone Bazooka.
  • gunheads? The cyborg superweapon is this titchy little gun that emerges slowly from the machine’s head. Wouldn’t a pistol just be more efficient?
  • The wapron? It’s this titchy little gun that blows robo-Thomerson into robo-smithereens. Of course, he gets back up, but it’s a very big blast for such a small wapron.
  • Albert Pyun’s strange need to dump tons of backstory on us before the chasing can begin? It’s not like anyone gives a crap about Alex’s motivations.

Ratings

Production values: Poor, even allowing for it being 1993. Unforgivable in areas like props and armoury, which aren’t that expensive. 17

Dialogue and performances: Nope. 15

Plot and execution: Remember Blade Runner? Well, imagine if it sucked. 17

Randomness: Well, if you mean “random” in the sense of “proceeds with no rhyme or reason” then, well, yeah. 15

Waste of potential: The relationship between humanity and technology has been the basis of many great stories. This is not one of them. 13

Overall 78%

From the Archive – Krull (1983)

Krull

 

“A world light years beyond your imagination.”

Directed by Peter Yates
Starring Ken Marshall, Lysette Anthony, Freddie Jones and Francesca Annis, plus just about every British character actor who went on to make the Hollywood second-string or higher in the next twenty years.

Historical note: This was the first film to be titled (or rather, subtitled) Dungeons & Dragons, despite a complete absence of dragons and precious few dungeons.

The terrible Beast arrives on the world of Krull in his big, flying rock, and unleashes his army of inhuman Slayers upon the population. To unite two kingdoms against the Beast, Prince Colwyn (Marshall, sporting a dodgy beard), and Princess Lyssa (Anthony) are to be married. Luckily, they fall in love, but unluckily the Slayers crash the wedding, abducting the princess and slaughtering all and sundry. Saved by the wise man, Ymyr (Jones), Colwyn climbs a mountain to find the Glaive, and ancient symbol and a powerful weapon, then sets out in pursuit of the Beast.

Trust me. It makes no more sense than this in the film.

Gathering a ragtag band of British character actors (including Liam Neeson, Alun Armstrong, Robbie Coltrane and Bernard Bresslaw as a cyclops), Colwyn tries to find out where the Beast’s teleporting fortress will be at the next sunrise. A seer is killed before he can help them, and so Ymyr must sacrifice himself to learn the secret from old flame, the Widow of the Web (Annis). Dodging Slayers and Changelings (shapeshifting assassins), Colwyn’s band travel by fire (or should it be shire) horse to the fortress, where Colwyn and Lyssa destroy the Beast with the power of their love; the Glaive proving rather less butch than advertised.

What’s wrong with it?

Well, it was made in the 80s, so for starters, there’s the hair. Also however, Marshall is a turgid hero, the whole premise is immensely silly, and the dialogue is rather trite. It also has too much material, such that it all seems rushed. The fact that the Cyclops race was tricked by the Beast and given the curse of knowing the time of their death is introduced in one sentence, crops up in a second, and is defied in a final, brief scene.

What’s right with it?

Some of those ideas are quite good, and – hairstyling aside – the production values are fairly high. The Slayers are also genuinely creepy, or at least were when I was twelve. It’s also fun seeing all those British character actors as an outlaw band.

How bad is it really?

Not as bad as all that, but really rather dated.

Best Bit

The opening credits; they really are rather flash.

What’s up with…?

  • The little bug-things that skitter out of the dead Slayers and bury themselves?
  • The ancient and powerful glaive actually sucking somewhat?

Ratings

Production Values – Pretty good for the time, although terribly, terribly dated now. 6

Dialogue and Performances – This film is a major offender in the field of ‘this is fantasy, so everything must be stilted and pretentious’. The dialogue is self-important drivel, even the conversation. The support playing, by the gang of outlaw character actors, is pretty solid, but the leads are fairly bloodless. 14

Plot and Execution – The majority of the plot involves the hero trying to find his way to the magically teleporting Fortress of the Beast, itself basically an excuse for the film to be more than just a hike across hostile country. The film is sometimes jumpy and confusing, and there is a feeling that there is more going on than you see in the film; and not in a good way. In addition, Krull is never entirely sure whether it’s a fantasy or a sci-fi movie. 15

Randomness – Within a fantasy context, there isn’t too much randomness, but by any other lights it’s all over the place. The flying horses just happening to be in the right place; allies and enemies popping up out of nowhere; the Beast shmoozing with the Princess for no readily apparent reason. 10

Waste of Potential – With a better lead and a little more work, Krull could have been a pretty decent film. as it is, it’s just a bit of a mess. Also, in retrospect, I think it was better than Dungeons & Dragons8

Overall 53%