Sunday, November 1. 2015 | Comments (2)
I just finished watching a couple of "classic" Disney movies from my childhood, Condorman and The Black Hole. The Black Hole has long been a cult classic with a large following, and has received a lovely digital remaster and 1080p transfer. Condorman has long been a very, very minor cult classic and is available pan-n-scanned for $10.00. Both are worthy of comment.
I watched TBH with my oldest daughter. She found the movie entertaining, but noted some of the obvious problems. The tone is bi-polar, crashing from serious sci-fi to goofy kid action movie. It features scenes of a psychotic, homicidal robot drilling a hole through Anthony Perkins, and scene where the serious, scientific helper-bot beats an all-black sentry-bot at a shooting gallery game and does funny tricks. TBH is literally two movies in one: someone at Disney said they needed grim-dark anti-heroes to get money from the adults, while someone else pointed out that the kids needed something to laugh at before they sit through the psychedelic black-hole journey that ends with a literal depiction of HELL.
Of interest is how hard Disney tried, at least at times, to make the film more scientifically accurate than the typical space adventure. Hard sci-fi had one major film champion in the West; 2001. TBH tried to depict microgravity and freefall rather than just hand-wave artificial gravity. The film also mostly accurately depicted how rockets are utilized to maneuver spaceships in space, only to fail spectacularly in depicting the correctly oriented, slowly approaching Palomino firing rockets all the way down until docked with Cygnus, as if the ship was fighting gravity all the way.
The most spectacular scene, the asteroid (mistakenly called a meteorite) crashing along the center longitudinal axis of the ship, genuinely impressed my daughter, and still impresses me. But in the end, she was aghast when I explained after the movie that Disney had marketed the film to kids. They did. I had a coloring book. In fact, I had the coloring book long before I ever saw the movie. I thought Maximillian was the coolest robot in the world. Until I discovered he was a murdering psychopath and a literal depiction of Satan. Good job, Disney.
Next up was Condorman, a seemingly-low-budget Michael Crawford?!? vehicle shot on location in Paris, Monte Carlo and Zermatt. I hadn't seen this movie since I was in single-digit years. My memories where of the Car, the Boat, the Other Boat, and the Suit. I conveniently forgot about all the boring story.
It's incredible to see what Disney put money into and what they didn't. The story is bad, but it doesn't have to be good. The idea is that an American comic book artist and writer, the creator of Condorman, is tapped by his mid-level CIA friend to be a civilian placeholder in an inconsequential paperwork exchange. The artist, Woody, comicly plays up his importance to the Soviet spy, who subsequently requests escort and assistance by code-name Condorman when she wants to defect. The rest of the movie is set-piece action scenes as Woody and Natalia race across Europe to get her back to America. As I said, the story doesn't have to be good, but it's lazy. Some scenes stretch out needlessly, some things are glossed over. Some things are explained that have no bearing on the movie, other things are jumped into. Of course, this could be the result of editing, a problem many Disney movies faced in the 70's and 80's.
Other areas that are problematic are the mix of quality FX with, again, lack of effort. A rocket-powered zip-line rig has a well-animated rocket flame, and then the rigs are shown travelling down the line at what is clearly the normal speed of the ski-lift line. They could have at least sped up the film. The laser guns used in a couple of scenes are Star Wars quality or better; the dummies used in multiple stunts appear to be wooden cutouts. As is the piggy-backed figure of Natalia riding the Condorman glider at the end of the movie. I mean, you can SEE it. It's right there on the screen. They couldn't even use a blow-up doll.
The single biggest issue is that the movie is boring. The interesting bits are the car chase, the boat fight, and the Condorman suit. No wonder that's all that stuck with me. Of course, as an adult, Barbara Carrera was quite interesting as well.
Michael Crawford doesn't think Condorman is the worst movie he ever made. He thinks it's the second-worst movie he ever made. But kudos to Crawford; he puts a ton of misplaced energy into the mismanaged project.
Monday, August 11. 2014 | Comments (0)
Friday, August 8. 2014 | Comments (0)
WonderDuck has a post up on how he identified the Akagi, Kongou and Fubuki in the Kantai Collection anime video. I was considering doing the same but he beat me to the punch, plus his post has pictures. But seriously, how big of a challenge could it be to identify which three "ships" were used for this video?
Tuesday, August 5. 2014 | Comments (0)
This looks like it could be pretty neat. The plot seems to basically emulate Strike Witches, although I have to admit that I've never watched all of that anime. I just couldn't get past the, uh, lack of pants. I couldn't reconcile that character design choice in my mind. I really like the character design in KanColle, though.
I think the "fleet girls"/ships featured are the Akagi aircraft carrier, the Kongou battleship, and the Fubuki destroyer. Which would make sense for something like this, as those happen to be the first card for each of the first three sets of ten. It doesn't hurt that especially Akagi and to a lesser extent Fubuki are both popular fleet girls outside of Japan.
Sunday, August 3. 2014 | Comments (0)
Tuesday, April 29. 2014 | Comments (0)
Warning! Godzilla is shown pretty clearly, and the main plotline is made fairly clear in this trailer. If you want to go into the movie cold, you probably shouldn't watch this.
Sunday, January 5. 2014 | Comments (0)
I've had a bunch of links building up for a while. I'll try to not lose them like I did last time.
Six Lies Most People Believe About U.S. Schools at The Federalist. 1) Rich, suburban schools are better than poor, inner-city or rural schools. 2) Poverty is the root cause of poor education 3) It's better to teach generic philosophies and ideals than specific skill-sets or fundamental knowledge 4) Teachers are well-prepared professionals 5) Education is non-partisan and amoral 6) Everyone should go to college. That's the short lists. Read the reasons and get links in the article.
Dark Roasted Blend's Abandoned Places and Urban Exploring archive.
A Critical History and Filmography of Toho's Godzilla Series. That's the name of the book. I bought a copy of the revised edition. It doesn't have everything about Godzilla, but it has a bunch of stuff about the production and content of the movies that you'll only find in this book.
Fifty Shades of Marx by Sara Hoyt:
"Yesterday on Facebook, someone took exception to my saying that Marxist ideas are ascendant in the world. This shocked me so much I didn’t know how to react, and before I had time to explain – I was trying to finish the novel. No, it’s not done yet. Long story, but hey HVAC people this afternoon – people were in a big argument over whether or not we’re living in a police state.
The End of Days and the Rule of Gray by John C. Wright:
I had an interesting, and admittedly disturbing experience, which made me reflect upon the end of the world.
Five Myths about Ty Cobb. Thanks to the sensationalist (and largely, we now know falsified) biography of Cobb by journalist Al Stump, most people believe the Tigers legendary player was a violent, selfish and greedy, foul-mouthed extreme racist and murderer loved by no one. Those characterizations are mostly, if not entirely, untrue.
I linked this on Facebook. Matt Walsh discusses why the debate on abortion is comprised of two positions that are simply too far apart for compromise.
The WondLa books look fascinating. Will definitely be picking them up as soon as we're all settled in to the new year.
Monday, December 30. 2013 | Comments (2)
Friday, November 8. 2013 | Comments (0)
So here's the opening to Slayers Try, "Breeze" by Megumi Hayashibara.
and here's a different version by NOVA:
The full version of "Kujikenaikara!", the closing song from the original Slayers series (it's worth it, if you've never heard the full version. Hayashibara and Okui harmonize beautifully:
Hayashibara performing "Going History", the opening from Slayers Next:
Ok, this is mostly pop stuff. So here's "La Isla Bonita" as performed by Twilight Guardians.
Yeah, it's a cover. Sue me. Ronnie James Dio was one of the gods of rock; I like Killswitch Engage's version of "Holy Diver" better.
Thursday, September 26. 2013 | Comments (2)
It's a baseball reference. Nobody panic.
New MLB instant replay rules still emphasize getting it wrong.
Two carries, six yards: The tragic story of Ricky Bell.
Vivien Maier, brilliant amateur photographer of the 1950's, wasn't discovered until 2007.
The Soviet superplane program that rattled Area 51.
The Mars Science Laboratory is still running, btw.
Would you like to own every MAD magazine ever printed?
How long has it been since DC Comics did something stupid? 8 days, when I made the link.
Akira predicted the 2020 Tokyo Olympics. Sort of. But it's still kind of...eery.
Jon Sorensen: Personal recollections of working on the film Alien.
So Los Alamos prepared three nuclear cores, right? And we used two of them right? Hiroshima and Nagasaki. You remember that. So where did the third core go?
Raising the Dead: Bushman's hole in South Africa claims the life of a preeminent deep-dive expert when he tries to return a body found in the hole to the surface.
Grand Theft Auto IV: San Andreas I'm gonna give this a try.