Category Archives: Movies

Fifty Years

Today is the anniversary of the first episode of Star Trek. I have never been more emotional about a show, no, a universe, than I am Trek. Doctor Who comes very close but Trek has the lead by a Vulcan.

Trek has been a part of my life as long as Who – since before I have memory – but Spock was the first person I ever told my mom I was going to marry. Spock was my first real loss (even if it was temporary). My grandfather was a funeral director – I’ve been surrounded by death and loss my whole life – I’d lost people I cared about, animals I’d cared about, but somehow, it wasn’t as keenly felt as this fictional character who didn’t really exist. My mom was a little cruel, knowing what she knew about me. She did not let me watch Wrath of Khan until it and Search for Spock were both available at the movie rental place. She did not tell me about Search for Spock until I’d wept – full on ugly cry – until I literally had no more tears (took a few hours). She thought it was funny and Wrath of Khan still makes me ugly cry. In reality, it was easier for me to mourn a fictional character and later the actor who played him, than it was for me to mourn my mom. I’m honestly not done with any of those things and I probably never will be.

I don’t have the greatest volume of trivia knowledge of the Trek universe. I cannot speak Klingon. I don’t have ears, brow ridges, or a uniform. I do have a great love for this universe that Roddenberry created. I still have hope that we, as a people, can reach the stars and be better than we are now. I still believe we can live up to our potential.

Today, there is a video floating around with memorable moments and bits of dialogue and I get chills. Three minutes of disjointed snippets, a through-the-glass Vulcan salute, and seeing that beautiful ship (more than one version of her) and I’m all kinds of emotional and have goose bumps.

So, happy anniversary (or birthday really) to Star Trek and all the amazing people involved in it. Live Long and Prosper.

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Being Safely Scared

The horror genre is on my mind lately. In part, I’m on a serious re-watching binge (the inspiration being meeting Tony Todd and writing about Candyman for The Geek Girl Project) and in part probably because we’re reaching the part of the year where I can’t watch scary things for three months because the children will be home with me. The youngest isn’t old enough and the oldest is never sure what to make of actually scary things. Being scared is something of an acquired taste and I think being safely scared is a rush without the crash, like eating cake and not wanting to take a nap afterward (yep – I’m officially old now) is one of my favorite things.

I do enjoy being scared as long as it’s the right kind of scared. I don’t like being afraid. Bone deep, marrow chilled, how do we survive kind of fear is terrible and I don’t know anyone who likes that kind of fear. Millions live that life every day and no one should envy that fear. I’ve been that kind of afraid and I would not recommend it. I do think that knowing that kind of fear makes being safely scared even better. There’s that moment where it feels similar (never the same), the adrenaline is rushing through the blood, the heart is pounding so loud it’s like a drum in your head, and every hair is standing at attention. And then you remember that you are safe in a movie theater or living room and the fear abates without leaving it’s print on you. I think that’s why so many people like me enjoy these sorts of things – being scared without actually being in danger is an awesome thing.

I have had a movie cause panic attacks but never the scary ones, which are the ones you would think would do it. I’ve had certain thriller type movies make me uncomfortable (Maniac for instance), or completely grossed out (like the Saw movies), or disgusted (Devil’s Rejects etc), but not panicky which is nice for me. Honestly, I’m more likely to have a panic attack during Harry Potter of all things – I do not know why the Mad Eye Moody/Barty Crouch thing bothers me so much.

It doesn’t take much to startle me or make me feel uncomfortable but to actually scare me, at least as an adult, that takes some doing. I really love it. I hear Candyman’s voice in my head, the Hell Priest still lurks in the shadows of my laundry room when the light hits the one corner just so. I have a weird and overactive imagination and that doesn’t help. I tend to scare myself more than anything. One night a few years ago I stepped outside and the smell of freshly turned earth hit me and all I could think of were zombies. The fact that we’d been working outside that day planting and such completely vanished from my brain, logic took a backseat and my brain was absolutely certain it was zombies. And this is why I write – if I didn’t, I could probably convince myself that zombies are real but if I put all my weird on paper, it’s easier not to do that.

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Anticipation

As long as the weather, my oncoming sinus issue (I can feel it settling in), and the kids cooperate, I’ll be getting to see Deadpool this weekend. I can’t tell you how excited I am. I’ve been waiting on this one since they screwed him up so so very badly in the X-Men. I’ve been excited since the “leaked” test footage I shared a few years ago (as did everyone else). I would say it’s been years since I’ve been this excited for a movie but that’s not true. I love movies and get pretty excited for them, especially if there are spectacularly choreographed fight scenes and beautiful explosions and big surly antiheroes. I’m not a big fan of the movies I’m supposed to like, being a female in her mid-30’s with children, go figure.

My oldest child is very mad at me because I won’t take him with me. If, after we see it, we decide that Mr. Teenager is ready for the movie, then that’s one thing but he’s 15 and I need to see these things first for myself. I know he’s mature enough for most things. He’s taking a film studies class right now and they’ve watched a bevy of movies that probably push him maturity limits but that’s a whole different blog post I may get to at some point soon. In part, I want to see it for myself to make sure and give the proper approval. But if I’m honest, I really just don’t want to take my teenager on my husband’s and my Valentine date even if it probably will be a matinee.

I know there are parents planning to take their kids (so far 12 is the lowest age I’ve heard first hand) and I truly hope if ANY of them complain, the studio, the theaters, and everyone involved do nothing but laugh at them. They were warned. This is not the Avengers. Deadpool is not a character for children. They should be made to sign a paper prior to buying tickets for these kids that they wave the right to complain about inappropriate content. People planning to take their kids haven’t read much of the comics. My oldest has read some of them but the series we are reading through at the moment is a bit less dark and super funny and I think that’s what he’s expecting. Yes, there will be the kind of humor the boy and I get a kick out of but I have a feeling from the story line that it’s going to be a bit darker than the Dead Presidents line was.

Things I am expecting: Some mention of keeping his mouth shut or a visual reference to the mistreatment of Deadpool. Superb breakage of the 4th wall. Stunning visual feast of a fight scene. The best Stan Lee cameo to date.

If you’ve seen it, I don’t want to hear about it until Sunday. I want to find out for myself.

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Easy To Please

At least when the medium is some variation of film I am. With books, I’m incredibly critical. I can enjoy a story and dislike the writing of it or vice versa but I absolutely admit to being hugely picky about what I read. TV and movies, apparently I don’t hold them to the same standard. Did it make me laugh, make me feel, make me gasp in surprise? I think it is because of what I want from each medium. I want to feel and be a part of the world when I’m reading. When I’m watching, I just want to be entertained. One is a release and one is an obsession. Sometimes both can be either.

I enjoy shows and movies for what they are and I don’t care to rip things apart and make things so much less than they were. Yes, Big Bang Theory has become a comedy about a bunch of caricatures rather than actual characters but it makes me laugh. Yes, there are gaping logic flaws in Scorpion (seriously, simple is sometimes better writers!) but it makes me laugh and it makes me feel so I can honestly say I enjoy it. I liked Transformers and Waterworld and a few other movies that apparently everyone else hates. I like the NuWho, New Star Trek, and the new Star Wars. Despite it’s flaws and it’s retconning and inconsistent mythology, I still love Supernatural.

I guess I think sometimes we expect too much of our entertainment. Not everything is deeper than the story whether it’s father rescuing granddaughter from the satanic cult (I liked that movie!) or crazy puzzle box opens up hell. Not everything needs to be. I enjoy the  movies and shows that don’t try so hard to be something bigger. I like the bigger ones too but only the ones that don’t try so hard they’re all in your face with their lessons and their great big MESSAGE.

Personally, there’s as much pleasure to be found in the kitcsh as there is in the blockbuster, the documentary, the period piece, or the vanity films. I’ll take Toxic Avenger or Attack of the Killer Tomatoes over a lot of most people’s must watch movie list.

Case in point. One of the worst movies (or so I thought for EVER) was Vampire’s Kiss (a really crazy Nick Cage movie that I’m totally going to spoil right now). Watching it again as a grownup, introducing my oldest kid to the best angry alphabet recitation in cinematic history, I’m pretty sure I saw a different movie. From a certain point of view, it’s almost brilliant. We watch a self-important man have a killer of a psychotic break. It’s almost sad, watching him prance down the street in the illfitting plastic fangs yelling that he’s a vampire.

I’m not picky with my movies or my television (though I wish my three favorite things were not on at the same time, on the same day!). I come to a theater, to my television, asking to be entertained, to get caught up in someone else’s life for a bit and I gett what I ask for. I might not get some cinematic masterpiece or whatever but at the end of it, if I laughed, if I gasped, if I cried, I’m happy. If things exploded in overly dramatic fashion, that’s even better!

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Movie Magic

Just by pure dumb luck, we found the perfect summer camp for my oldest kid – all about the engineering of movies. He loves the magic of movies – his whole damn Christmas list was full of it – green screen, better camera, books about editing and stop motion. He’s seen a number of movies that represent the best examples of current effects magic but his knowledge of practical effects is limited to the original, non-cgi’d up run of Star Wars and Dune.

I’ve been thinking about this all morning and making up a list of movies with the best practical effects. I think he might, maybe, be old enough for Alien now and that’s the best of them in my opinion. We’ve discussed Savini’s work and Lon Chaney’s work. We’ve looked at Spielberg, Lucas, and Henson’s stuff. We’ve talked Face Off type movie makeups and things like that. If we want to look at bad special effects, we’ll see about finding some Mystery Science Theater 3000. Too bad the USA network doesn’t still run their Saturday night awful movie marathons.

What are your favorite movies that use primarily practical effects? What movies do you love for their makeups or effects?

My list so far: Original run Star Wars, Original Dune, Alien, Jaws (holy moly that shark!), American Werewolf in London (he’s definitely NOT ready for this one), Terminator 2 (not sure about this one either). Most of the best ones, I don’t think he’d like. How I gave birth to a kid that doesn’t like scary things, I don’t know. So, I need help finding awesome movies that aren’t scary (even if the best effects are in the scary ones apparently).

 

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Scary Movies have the best makeup

I have been watching and reading quite a bit of horror lately. One of my favorite things about scary movies is the makeups. So impressive. From the xenomorph in Alien to the incredibly detailed muscle, bone, and sinew suit Julia wears in Hellraiser 2.

I have a great deal of admiration for the people who create these incredible things. The Alien will probably be my favorite of all the effects makeups ever. The skill required to sculpt and engineer a thing like that, it’s pretty damned impressive. It’s one of the reasons I enjoy Face Off so much, watching the characters go from paper to application. So impressive. I know I keep using that word but there isn’t a better one.

I think my all time favorites are the Alien, the skinless Julia suit, the faun from Pan’s Labyrinth, and the torn up Jack from American Werewolf in London. What are your favorite on screen makeups?

 

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Star Wars and goosebumps

The new teaser trailer for Episode 7. If you have not seen it and you are a Star Wars fan – you must watch it.

I knew the voice the moment it started and found myself covered in goosebumps. I know I am easily moved by movies in general and certain franchises in particular (Star Trek, Star Wars, LOTR, and the list goes on and on). Certain sweeps of music send chills through my whole body. I can’t help it. I get swept up in the fictional worlds so much easier than I do the real one. Probably because the real one is the least logical and most irksome.

I am looking forward to Christmas. To taking my geeklings to their first big screen Star Wars experience. The youngest keeps googling for spoilers and cast lists and every bit of information he can find during the wait. The oldest fills his time with other franchises (he’s reading both the HIVE series and the Merlin series right now and plowing through them like they’re only a few pages long). Me, I’m just waiting for Mad Max and writing my own stories.

As much as I’d like to, we probably won’t go in the first few days – much too crowded – but it won’t be long after. I am hoping it lives up to the hype. I’m hoping we get the kind of movie that inspires instead of frustrates. Having seen the teaser, I have a great deal of hope.

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Characters we love to hate

They aren’t necessarily the big bads of their stories, maybe not the central villains, but what they bring to the story is depth and, for readers or viewers, a sense of great camaraderie with the heroes.

We’re having yet another snow day and spending the day huddled inside. We’re watching Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Kai Winn  is on. Oh how she makes my skin crawl. She is to DS9 what Delores Umbridge is to Harry Potter. Those are probably my favorite two right this moment but there are others (Q, Draco, Loki, etc). Watching them do what they do, reading about them doing what they do, it makes me furious on the behalf of the heroes. I wait and wait for them to get their comeuppance or, in some rare cases their redemption. And when it comes, as it must, there is a collective sigh of relief and cheers from the peanut gallery that there is hope yet that all will be right as rain someday.

It has been a great many years since I watched Deep Space Nine when it was originally on and I admit, I seem to have forgotten what comes of Kai Winn (don’t tell me! The boys and I have been watching and we’re just about to season 4). It’s really a very good show, better than I remember it being. That is more the difference between watching as a teenager and watching as an adult though.

Who are your favorite love to hate them characters?

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The Crow

I recently reread the original graphic novel by James O’Barr. I watched the movie years and years ago when it first came out. I’ve watched it on pretty much every format it’s been available on. I owned it on VHS and DVD both. It resonated with me deeply in ways I didn’t quite  understand until I was older – a bit like Dune did.

I am about to compare the two pieces. This will mean spoilers if you haven’t read it or watched it. I realize it’s not the sort of thing that everyone likes or gets, but it is well worth both reading and watching. Both are disturbing in their own ways, both are poignant and beautiful and dark. Obviously, I really enjoy The Crow. If you read past this, don’t blame me for spoiling things.

As far as comparing the two, it’s interesting. Both are excellent, awesome things in their own right. There are some differences, but I think there had to be, especially with the girl. Sherry in the comic, Sara in the movie. She was given a far bigger role in the movie than she had in the comic but it was a way to tie it all together. Having someone who knew Eric in life and after gave us a sense of continuity. It also allowed us to immediately trust the sole good cop in the whole movie (split between two cops in the comic without going into depth really with either of them).

There were bigger changes than that. The biggest change is that the movie gave the bad guys a motive for the crime against Eric and Shelly. In the comic, it’s more of a wrong place and wrong time sort of thing than a mission oriented crime. In the movie, the gang of thugs sets upon them for a reason, they were not random targets. I am undecided on this change. It takes away from the senselessness of the crimes that brought Eric back as the avenging angel he is.

The additional characters brought in made the movie richer but their absence does not effect the comic at all. It is the same story. The finale is a little less drama-filled but that doesn’t mean the comic was less than the film in any way.

The rest of the differences were visual, the setting made darker, more dismal with the backdrop of fire and anarchy. It worked very well for the film. And I was overjoyed to discover that all of my favorite lines of dialogue came directly from the comic.

I’m not sure how I feel about a remake of the film at this point. I want Hollywood to find original material. We haven’t had a She-Hulk movie or a Wonder Woman movie yet. Or Lady Death (I would so watch that). There are plenty of comics that haven’t been done that they need to quit mucking with the ones that have. The original movie, despite the differences from the source material, was incredible. From what I’ve read, they’re wanting to stick closer to the source material but, as much as I enjoyed the comic, I think the choices made for the movie worked for that movie with the tone and sound and feel of it. I don’t want to see it messed up and Hollywood seems to love messing up things I love.

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Remakes and Whitewashing

There are some remakes I’m really looking forward to (Mad Max, I’m looking at you!). It doesn’t happen very often, but it does happen sometimes. There are other things I think were awesome to begin with. Case in point, Ghost in the Shell. Early in my introduction to Anime, I found Ghost in the Shell and, if you’ve read my science fiction, you know it influenced me a great deal.

The news of a live-action version of GITS seems to be on the board. With Scarlett Johansson as Motoko (most likely but they’re just saying “starring” at the moment). I realize it works due to the fact that the brain and the body are two separate entities but, unless they fill out the rest of the cast with Asian actors, I will continue to be annoyed. Yes, I want more female driven action movies, especially from source material that rocks, but there’s a line that needs to be drawn somewhere. Remakes should not equal whitewashing. I realize the studios want big names to headline but fans of the source material wouldn’t have needed that headliner. In fact, if they would just make good movies, people would come to the theaters.

Of course, Hollywood seems stuck in a serious rut at the moment anyway. Everything is remakes, sequels, and fluff. I love the comic books movies and all the blow’em up, shoot’em up movies – that stuff is right up my alley (except when they screw up awesome characters almost irreparably). I’m not as picky as some geeks – there is something to love in almost every movie. I’m not a chickflick fan, but even they have their good points.

Is it too much to ask for them to stop mucking around with things that were already great and find something new to put on screen? I mean, Sandman Slim would be awesome. So would the In Death series. Hell, anyone could probably list a dozen books that would make good movies if they did them well.

Don’t get me wrong, I like Scarlett just fine, just not in Ghost in the Shell.

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