Saturday, 19 August 2017

Universal 1932A

Right, let's loosely base a movie on the book. Let's just add a new character and change the nature of the villain. Murders in the Rue Morgue.

Visiting the local carny, two couples meet a human ape (which is a lot like a normal ape, expect he has a good PR man) and his PR man Dr Mirakle. One of the men is also interested in the local murders (in the Rue Morgue!), and Mirakle takes a rather too interested interest in his damsel. Eventually the good guys realise that the murders are due to people being injected with ape blood, and Dr Mirakle sends the ape to get the dame. However, the ape kills the doctor and the guy kills the ape. No-one says "'Twas Beauty that killed the Beast", but I kept expecting it.

Dr Mirakle is the sort of inserting you get when you say "we have an ape, but what we really want is a human protagonist, even if they had nothing to do with the original story". Although this does give a good chance for Bela Lugosi to ham it up on screen.

Again we have a problem with a lack of sound. While some scenes get natural sound, most of the time we get large slabs of silence. Come on, Universal, get rid of that!

[END]

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Friday, 18 August 2017

Next Generation The 3!

And so we get the full on cast for the rest of the series, with minor variations of minor members.

And yet, when I'm scanning through the episode listing, all I can think now is "ugh". Mainly because the character sentiment overrides the actual story. That said, we do have some good episodes. Powerless Q, return of Tasha Yar, the introduction of Vash and Barcley. And there are a few with actual interesting character motivation, such as The Most Toys which leads to Data's gun fire. And Sarak in which Picard has to do a long take.

But we also get the start of the Klingon fascination and endless Empire development. I don't find the Klingons that interesting, and now we are about the head deep into their mythology. Sigh.

And of course we end on a big cliffhanger of the Borg. Now I do have the BluRay set and such, but can't say that I was more impressed by the Borg now than before. Although this is largely set up to the big set piece next season, which, as is pointed out in the documentary/commentaries, was not meant to be written by Michael Piller, but they kept him on...

[END]

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Monday, 14 August 2017

TELOS: Rip Tide

Wow, this is the longest novella so far. It’s even longer than most Target novelisations! And yet…

We are at an English beach down near Cornwell (if it is at an actual place, I’m not going to know that). We follow lifeguard Steve and his sister Nina as they encounter some odd figures and slowly strange events happen. One odd figure is Ruth, and the other is the Doctor.

It takes a while for the Doctor to actually be in the story. In fact, it takes a while for the story to be in the story. Louise Cooper takes her time setting the scene, and there are some scenes that are very well described indeed, but mostly it just feels like a lot of time is passing without anything happening. That is not a gripping novel. Oh, and since I’m critiquing, we get scenes where the third person perspective changes from character to character from one paragraph to the next. Now that is given as a classic example of bad writing, and that’s for a point because it is very jarring.

Nice description, but it goes on longer than needed.


[END]

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Saturday, 12 August 2017

Universal 1931B

The same year, another classic, Frankenstein.

Henry Frankenstein has odd ideas about surgery and with the help of Fritz he pulls together a plan to pull together a man. His friends find out about this, and want in, and they all witness the birth of the creature. However, it's a terrible thing that goes wrong, so they have him put down. Only the creature escapes and crashes a little girl, the wedding and then a windmill.

While this is another talkie, and there is a lack of musical score, this works a lot better because there is actual background sound throughout most of the scenes, creating a great atmosphere. This is why I say we don't need musical scores. Admittedly they could turn down the lightning a tad, but there's there's a decent soundscape happening that keeps things going.

Better performances too, including from Edward Van Sloan and of course Dwight Frye. And Boris Karloff may not get many lines, but he can leer with the best of them.

Definitely the better of the two movies this year.

[END]

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Friday, 11 August 2017

Next Generation The 2!

On to the two most notable changes: Whoopi Goldberg and Riker's beard!

Let's immediately point out two episodes, The Measure of Man and Matter of Honor. These are great episodes with drama in different directions. However, we also have Time Squared, and one of the worst episodes I tried to rewrite it as a Doctor Who story The Royale. This is a season of differences, we have the one and only flashback episode, but then we also have Unnatural Selection.

Yes, I'm going to come out here on the side of Pulaski. Diane Mulder gives a great performance, and I far prefer her over Beverly Crusher. But I'm in the minority and there were salary disputes involved, and fans demanded the return of Beverly. Oh, and as I mentioned, we also get Guinan the mysterious bartender, who would have a random collection of plot required abilities over the seasons. And large hats. Mainly large hats.

And then there are the Borg. The remastering here should make this look a lot better, but it makes the matte painting really obvious and they retained the props and the quality of the shot of the props, so not really. Oh, and this was back when the Borg were potentially a menace, unlike the nerfed appearances they would make later.

With Pulaski checking out, what is the point watching any more really?

[END]

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Wednesday, 9 August 2017

Batomic Londe

So kickass female hero? I have to see this right?

This is more spy thriller than action flick, as we are when the Berlin wall is coming down. The Mcguffin is the standard "list of spies" which Theron is sent to find, and we get a ready supply of unreliable characters to get in the way and possibly help. To be honest, you've probably guessed most of the plot already just from that, but we do have action scenes.

Kinda. There are a couple, and a big set piece, although (I really am too cynical) I spent a bit of time going "and that's a hidden cut there" and working out how the scenes were put together. And although it isn't cut to music in the same way that Baby Driver was, there is a lot of 80s hits here.

And I'm also guessing the IMDB trivia/goofs page will be chocka with millions of tiny little anachronistic moments most of us don't care about.

Decent performances, but overall this felt more middling than the action movie people were thinking it was going to be.

[END]

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Monday, 7 August 2017

TELOS: Foreign Devils

This is a bit more like a classic DW story, this time told by Andrew Cartmel. No particular gimmick of language or concept, just a story told short. (Because it does sort of feel like a longer story that’s been truncated a bit.)

This also features Carnacki, a creation of William Hope Hodgson, who might well have out Lovecrafted Lovecraft if he had lived longer. It’s pretty good characterisation, and this volume contains The Whispering Room to compare with.

This is a horror story that ramps up from strange death to being in the void. In this is the Second Doctor and Zoe. Jamie is around, sort of, but is basically out of the story. And often Zoe is viewed as a creature to be leered upon (but methinks the author doth protest too much about that).

In that this is a more standard adventure it is a departure from the standard fare so far. But that this is a good story I welcome it, which makes this the better of the stories so far.

[END]

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Saturday, 5 August 2017

Universal 1931A

It's been a few years, and there are quite a few changes, and we get into it with a big name, Dracula.

While we know the story, in this version we start with Renfield coming to Dracula and falling under his power, and they move to London. While the ship crew is rather... dead, and Renfield is insane (complete with eating spiders). Dracula meets the Harkers and co and is rather quicker in killing. However Van Helsing is on the case, and when Mina is threatened they instantly manage to track down Dracula's casket and stabby time.

This is a quicker retelling of the story, and... it feels very sterile. We have actual dialogue now, not just a music score, and... Now, this goes against things I have said, but without a musical score the scenes are just large parts of empty air with odd bits of dialogue. Yes, Bela Lugosi gives a good performance, although mainly when in a single shot with the right light setup. And Dwight Frye is an early Jim Carrey. But Edward Van Sloan is not a good performance.

As an early talkie, they've got some way to go.

[END]

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Friday, 4 August 2017

Next Generation The 1!

I watched the Original Series a while ago, so I would get around to TNG. However, not just any TNG, but the BluRay Remastered Sets!

Season 1 gets a lot of stick, for episodes like Code of Honor and Angel One and... yeah, deservedly so, really. But then it has episodes like The Last Outpost, Datalore, and.. well, there are adequate episodes. A lot of episodes have some good ideas, like Home Soil and Too Short a Season, but don't quite manage to put it off entirely.

Now, we do get a different take on the whole crew, and the idea of the Captain not being the one at the center of away missions (which would last only as long as Patrick Stewart didn't complain to the writers). And, to be fair, they did have too many characters, but what they did to Yar was just stupid.

And this is the remastered. Call it 'memory cheating' but the amazing new picture quality isn't that amazing. Sure, you can tell when it's gone back to the old style footage, but the cleaned up version still has quality issues to it. As for the new effects... without the old side by side, it's hard to tell that it is amazingly new. It's been ages since I've seen the episodes, so I'm not blown away by how good they look now.

Due to the VHS released, I am familiar with a lot of these episodes, and not that avid about these episodes, so only good things to come?

[END]

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