Sunday, April 22, 2018

Hampton Beach in the Actual Sun

Erin and I went up to Hampton Beach today. Beth had grown up work to do. I dunno why Hampton Beach, a vacation spot on NH’s minimal coast, except that it’s close enough. It’s a small scale New Jersey boardwalk.

We just wanted to greet the ocean, it is one of the largest oceans in the world (the Atlantic). The day, the day was entirely cloudless. The machinations of commerce were at about half speed this early but the place was quite lively. Families spread out across the wide embrace of sand.

We just hung out, talking, absorbing. There were a lot of horses ridden on the beach, I mean 15-20, with children rushing eagerly towards them. A few people even entered the water.

It was lunchtime but I had no interest in the greasy options in the busy beach area. I’m not above greasy food but the goal of exciting crap increasingly becomes anathema to me. I don’t want to over invest in crappy pizza.

Near the beach was the water slide of the gods. It is an adrenalin machine. My aim is to lower my adrenalin output, so I shall avoid such pranks, but enjoy what you enjoy.

A kite on the beach served me well. I couldn’t see who commanded it. The wind brought it towards us, rather than lifted high. It fluttered with bird-like movements and held my attention.

We drove around a bit in this maelstrom of distraction, then sought food elsewhere. Trying to elude the temporary bliss of grease. 

Outside the gross plea of the shoreline grab, we peeked at a brunchy place that we have been to before but it looked full. Erin pulled into a parking lot to consult the god Google. A full 200 feet away was a well-reviewed establishment. Google’s genius led shortly down the road then turn back to arrive at where we were. A place called Victoria’s Kitchen. A caterer but open to dine in.

The modest appearance from the outside was belied by the friendly space within. A large selection of items for breakfast and lunch. Erin and I both went for Angus bacon and blue cheese burgers. They were cooked perfectly, ensconced on home made English muffins, with home made potato chips (food of the gods).

Northbound we listened to Silly Wizard, traditional sad Scottish. Homeward, The Darkness, sort of AC/DC with an exotic falsetto. I brought home beach stones for Beth, those are pretty real.

“It’s the same old man sitting by the mill

Mill turns around of its own free will.”

Thursday, March 29, 2018

Pacific Rim Uprising

Erin and I saw this yesterday, with anticipation. I'm not big on sequels but I enjoyed the cheesy thunder of the first movie, so full steam ahead. We arrived for the pre-noon matinee only to discover that it was in 3D. Bad cess on that! Just gives a headache. Came back around two. Nary a soul in the theatre. An older man was already seated up front, killing a day, I suppose.

The trailers foretell a summer of the usual summer stuff. At least no heart to heart dramas portend. So, I glean that the Jurassic Park franchise goes on. It looks like this one grandly renders the spectacle but it doesn't look like a surprise otherwise. Special effects and movie tech keep improving, or at least continue to up the simulacrum ante.

I don't think I have seen a Dwayne the Rock movie, he's one of those entities who osmose into your consciousness, but two are in the pipeline. He's got a good comedic delivery, give him that. One movie has a gorilla in it, the other a burning skyscraper. Take your pick.

The only true excrescence in the coming flicks is one with Johnny Knoxville. A rundown amusement park must fight off the advances of a super new one. I've seen this movie 111 times or maybe ten thousand, ie, what the hell do scriptwriters actually do??? Supposedly the idiot stunts are done for real. O wasteland!

The first Pacific Rim was fine. The idea of robots versus dinosaurs is fun, tho every step of the way revealed something ludicrous. The scale, the careless destruction, the outsized, clumsy robots. Those big lunks have to be helicoptered to the battle zone, which seems like their most telling weakness. Number two here follows that map. The movie begins with the son of the iconic hero of the first one. The son flamed out at robot corps and turned to a dissolute life. It's a semi-post apocalyptic world with the bones of dead kaiju from ten years ago laying where they died but life otherwise going on. The son is a petty thief trying to steal robot parts.

He meets a young girl who herself made a small fighting robot out of spare parts that she fingered. The two get caught because such is illegal, not sure why that's so. After a brief jail cell scene in which we see the two verbally spare, he is brought in to the Jager corps to train young recruits, and she becomes a recruit. A certain charm to this with him being the protective big brother a bit. Like with the first movie, we have our heroes not quite fitting in with others. You need not skip ahead to find out it all works out, the trail is wellworn and clear.

The movie is not about that anyway, it's about Rock 'em Sock 'em Robots. It's a surprise that the first big battle occurs between two robots. Wait, what? A mystery robot appears and performs devastation procedures until finally sent packing. It's all an ode to unrestrained collateral damage. That miscreant of a Jager suggests nefariousness, but I will let you see how the plot unrolls for yourself.

Only a few of the characters in the first movie return, and mostly in minor appearances. The tech guy and the science guy from the first prove central in this battle to end all battles redux. The gist of the fight is literally destruction of the planet. Some kaiju appear, a few red shirts die. Something about racing to Mount Fuji before the kaiju end everything, thwarted by the son and the girl. You can open your eyes now.

The great line from the first movie was referenced: We are cancelling the apocalypse!!! I wish this movie had something that popped out as effectively. I suppose equaling that lame ass battle cry could not be expected. There's evidence at the end of the movie that a third cancellation may be in order. Stay tuned.

I'd say the movie is technically better than the first in its look. No actors in either one is familiar to me, which actually is a relief. Let the vehicle be the vehicle. Movies are so much about these branded creatures called actors, who must remain in brand. Whatever their chops are, when you see Sylvester Stallone on the screen, or Jennifer Anniston, or every damn whosis on the red carpet, it is first of all a branding exercise. These creatures of infernal power then can prance on the screen as may be, secure in their inviolate importance. The competent nobodies that people this movie and its predecessor are allowed to stick to the task of just taking the ridiculousness on the movie screen seriously enough to keep plot going. That is all I ask.

Sunday, March 25, 2018

Easter and That

I grew up in the Unitarian-Univeralist church, mainly, I suppose, because of a long family line in Massachusetts. My father was dutiful about having a church to go to, and my mother was relieved that no fire and brimstone appeared in the services. I gather someone on her side of the family offered too much of that.

Services at our stately church on Lexington Green seemed pretty formal to me but I never had experience in other churches and temples probably till I was an adult. My friend’s mother one time suggested that I go with him to confession. I imagined it as a strange and awful event and hastily declined. As her sight failed, and then her broken hip, my mother stopped going to church. She was not as gregarious as my father, anyway, tho both were well known in the church.

An Easter tradition developed late in her life in which I would stay with my mother while dad was at church with the quadrupled holiday turn out, and we would watch movies. For instance, we watched Easter Parade with Fred Astaire and the not yet trashed Judy Garland because mom loved dancing, any dancing. Garland was young and Astaire seemingly always would be.

I remember finding a documentary about a 12th century painter whose name escapes me, who apparently invented perspective. The paintings of course were hellaious Christian imagery both terrifying and uplifting. I remember in elementary school, a boy told me that God died on a mountain. I had not been so informed, that's not the sort of thing Unitarians talk about, either in or out of church. What I pictured was something akin to Mount Doom, in that famous movie.

For me, growing up Unitarian, Easter simply meant candy, big dinner, and coloring eggs. I didn’t like coloring eggs, or eggs in general. Easter only became interesting when it linked to spring rebirth and revival, sword dances, daffodils, banging the earth with a stick, and all that. The ritual with my mother, we did this for several years, felt meaningful, if not exactly part of that. Connecting life to that thing that isn't life, but is.

Monday, January 01, 2018

Rogue One, at This Late Date

Finally saw this addition to the Star Wars canon. I loved the original three Star Wars creations, tho I admit that when Yoda appeared, some of my enthusiasm slid away. Muppet dharma, no thanks. I eventually saw the next three releases but by then I didn't care about the franchise much. I have seen no other Star Wars movie till Rogue One. Expect here a dour response to Rogue One.

Right from the start, a grimness pervades the movie. A child watches as an Imperial task force comes to get her father, and kill her mother. She takes to a prearranged hiding place and eventually someone collects her. Years later we find her in prison. There's probably a project in the works to detail those years.

The plot didn't want me to follow it. Rebel leaders apparently want our heroine, I forget her name, to help find her father or something. And she ends up joining a rebel in I don't know. Suffice to say a band of misfits forms a suicide squad to get the plans of the Death Star (of legend!!!), which her father designed. She and the rebels race around, explaining plot points between breaths. I was lost, tho partly owing to disinterst. This could as well be The Guns of Navarone, tho a few of that mission survived.

The bad guy in the opening scene could be a Marvel or Bond villain. Which gets me to my ulteriour point. These franchises have begun looking the same, weak from hunger. Granted in this film, everyone in the mission dies, there's no Ishmael alone who alone escapes. Still, it's the same cheese we've had before.

The actors were pretty faceless, competent but forgettable. The droid reminded me of Marvin in Hitchhiker's Guide, and was a highlight of the movie. If you really needed to know about the beginning of the rebellion, this flick works. I am about done with prequels and franchises, however.

The Star Wars franchise is like an ode to jury-rigging. There's the Lucas outline to be honoured, and then these outgrowths of intention that produce more movies and, it seems more importantly, more action figures and merch. As far as story-telling goes, it's all so inorganic. I mean, thank goodness Melville didn't incite Ishmael to avenge Captain Ahab's death. Or Queequeg's, or...

Obviously people like all this stuff but to me the mercantile aspect of this franchise, and all movie franchises, bother me. Movies operate in something close to geologic time, with gross national product budgets. They attenuate the creative kernel to the farthest farthing.

Wednesday, November 02, 2016

The Many Loves of Hercules

The alternate title to this mythic cup of instant soup is Hercules Versus the Hydra, so take your choice to the kind of thrills to enjoy here,

When I was very young, Hercules as an entertainment entity was quite the thing. There were the Steve Reeves movies that seemed incredible. I never saw them but whatever I heard about them sanctified the idea of wonder in this world, entertainment division. I believe The Three Stooges met up with Herc in one of their later cinematic affairs featuring Curly Joe. There was even a lame-o cartoon in which a lot of mythic names were misapplied. The cartoon was stupid, even young Allen could tell.

Like Samson, Hercules was more anti-hero. He couldn’t quite handle his power, thru impetuosity, ambition, pride, a bit of ADHD. Welcome to the 2016 presidential race.

Anyway, here we have a movie to dissect as part of the teeming flood of entertainment that humankind apparently needs. By entertainment I guess I mean the broader word content. When you peruse the opulent lists of possible movies to watch on Netflix, or whatever fount of entertainment, you can only feel amazement at the quantity of items needed to keep us entertained. Who urges these projects, who pays for them, who profits from them, who cares? I mean the scale of movie making, even the shoestring budget stuff, compared to the production of poems and selfies, is huge. The Many Loves of Hercules was the instance of soothing entertainment for this nonce.

Entertainments like these are worthy one’s attention. Within their machinations and veritable excitement lies the intent to capture. That intent deserves consideration. For years Donald Trump sparkled in public as a celebrity dingbat. Turns out he was serious, and seriously sucked people into his production. We take the greatest of shit seriously, to our core.

The movie begins straight away with action, leastwise with a number of people running around without much dialogue. Whoever scored this thing apparently understood that this was a dramatic event of some flurry. Unfortunately that person never saw the rushes, which honestly aren’t all that rushed, if you get my drift. Grand musical incitement occurs while on the screen half-hearted actors try to read their lines and hit their marks correctly. The catchphrase Make America Great Again holds no future or past, it’s just a rousing musical score to accompany a lot of dithering. Dithering opens the action of the movie, with the invading army laying waste in lightly swishing gestures. The person who scored it read it differently, with vital armies and vital objectives. On the screen some listless grappling, like recalcitrant calisthenics.

This opening action, to call it that, is oddly intriguing. I found myself drawn to the sub-vignettes of the extras attempting to bring forth the carnage of war without overly exerting themselves in the hot Italian sun.
Plot starts when the he of evil beard invades the tent of, it turns out, Mrs Hercules. She is a pawn on this fell person’s chessboard. He is the adviser to the invading king. I think his perfect beard and ringlets tell the story well enough. He has Mrs Hercules killed. Mrs Herc vows that her hero will avenge her. The plot says that her death will be attributed to the king. Pathway to the throne cleared.
The king is then dispatched, but with the story that he died bravely in battle against all those peasants with sticks. Evil smirk. Believe me now and hear me later.

Hercules is played by Mickey Hargitay, erstwhile husband of Jayne Mansfield. Herself is the other dot of civilized glamour in this Italian-American production. Hercules is first seen chatting up the oracle. Hargitay was a body builder but back when one could still look humanly plausible. He looks beefy, albeit glistening with oil, He looks a little brash, a little self-involved, a touch of boyish charm. Not heroic but at least he has qualities fitting of the hero. Thru out the film, he wears a skirt, I guess, and sometimes a sash across his shoulder.

Hargitay was from Poland in real life and retained an accent. A poncy English person spoke his lines, wishing in his heart, no doubt, that this was King Lear. He of the glistening hairless pecs pleads with the oracle as to when his life might settle down. The oracle is none too positive on that question.
Suddenly, a colleague of Hercules interrupts this misty scene to announce the defeat of the city and death of Hercules’ wife. Hercules heads to the city. The oracle is left to look oracular.

Hercules arrives at the city gate and yells that he wants admittance. An army awaits behind the gate but no one replies. Exasperated, Hercules picks up a lengthy tree trunk. It is long enough that he has trouble gaining balance. Carrying it awkwardly overhead, he applies it battering ram style to the gate, which eventually succumbs. The army runs away. The slain king’s daughter chooses to meet him.
The queen is movie star galore, Jayne Mansfield, whose star I wot has already faded. She tells Hercules that her father is dead and that he can avenge himself on her. He decides against wreaking further havoc. There’s some claptrap about the now queen having to endure some test if she meets with Herc. Bravely she does so. 

Priests strap her to a wall and Hargitay must revisit his presumed Vegas act of throwing axes at her. If he can sever all four cords and not the queen, she can go free. Calling on Zeus, head honcho of Greek gods, he succeeds. Jayne faints.

Hercules comfortably makes himself at home with the queen, despite having threatened the city and breaking its gate. His presence upsets the plans of the evil bearded one. He sends a text message to the queen’s betrothed. This was to be an arranged marriage unburdened by the shackles of love. He arrives to find the queen and Hercules all lovey dovey. He attacks Hercules with a knife but Hercules overpowers him. In the ensuing dust up, we see Hercules holding the betrothed over his head somewhat pointlessly, and the queen pleads for the man’s life. Hercules accedes, and leaves.
Maybe it was earlier that Herc and the queen were out on horseback when suddenly... Well, kind of suddenly, some cattle escape and Hercules manages to corral them in a scene of scintillating milling about. A bull, however, wanders over towards the queen. She falls off her horse and screams as the bull apparently considers whether to gore her. While the bull considers his next move, Hercules arrives in time. He wrestles the bull to the ground then stabs it. He leaves the knife in the beast as he rushes to see to the queen. A stealthy co-conspirator cannily takes the knife. Now go back to the scene where Hercules fights the betrothed.

Hercules leaves in a huff. He camps with a couple of colleagues. Someone arrives to say the queen’s betrothed is dead and Hercules is implicated. Hercules rushes back to the city.

Looking for extra credit, the director makes more of the funeral scene than you’d expect for a minor character albeit a linchpin to the plot. We see a full procession including women in nightgowns and men in short skirts. A couple of servant boys wear thin bibs that reveal barely unbare butts. Fashion choices. Jayne Mansfield is always squeezed into some sort of emphatic Hollywood gown.
Hercules crashes the funeral to say he is innocent, calling upon Zeus and the dead guy as his witnesses. Somehow, it is worked out that tho Hercules’ knife did the dirty work Herc himself was not responsible. A certain someone is identified and Hercules goes in chase. Someone says that the perp was headed to the gates of Hades, like how did that person know and why would the perp go there.

We see the guy with his chariot clattering along. Hercules a-horse catches up. The perp tries to ascend an embankment but lacks horse power so he leaps from the chariot and enters a cave. Motivation unclear.
As he stands in the cavern, three giant monster heads arise. They look like dragons, spew flames and smoke, and bob their heads. Ray Harryhausen was not called in for animation duty, this is just paper-mache. An enormous paw presses down upon the unfortunate one.

Hercules arrives, enters the cave, scopes the scene and grabs an axe that happened to be there. Forthwith he goes banging at the monster, the Hydra of one of the movies’ titles, which bobs its heads and furthermore bobs its heads. The perp had gotten free from under the paw but then a head grabbed him n its jaw. Hercules keeps thumping. Eventually he hacks thru the neck. He pushes at the head so that it falls off. Dead hydra. Dead perp, as well. If you had entered this by way of Hercules vs the Hydra, you’re done. Herc won, winner take all.

Hercules endured injuries in the fight and swoons after the Hydra’s death. A couple of warrior women on horseback saw him enter the cave and go in to find him. They take him away.

Hercules’ two colleagues discover the chariot of the perp and head to the cave. For some reason we now hear the sound of rushing water, which was not audible earlier. Dead Hydra and Herc’s cape, where could he be? One of them remembers that this is the land of the Amazons and no one has ever left it alive. They decide to return to the city.

The healer of the Amazons says she can fix up Hercules right nice, but warns Hipolyta, Queen of the Amazons, that his presence will not go well. He is still transfixed by the other queen. Hipolyta entreats the healer to transform her into the queen’s likeness.

Here, then,is Jayne two, a redhead. The other queen was black haired. I suppose it shows Jayne’s range that she can do black and red hair as well as her patented platinum. Hercules is smitten. We get some overacting on the part of Jayne. Thru out the movie, her lines sound concocted. She’s trying to take the dialogue straight but there aint much to hang on it. She resorts to gasps and thunderstucks, plus a curious widening of her eyes which seemingly betokens sexual attraction, if not some ophthalmic distress. Too much effort.

Earlier we had seen the evil side of Hipolyta. She visits a blasted area of stunted trees. Only thing is, these trees are former lovers. One is still human enough to plead horribly to be freed. Yikes! Hercules falls right in line with the temptation. Interesting to note that now it is Jupiter to whom people call in times of atavistic distress.

One of Hipolyta’s minions can’t abide this bullshit and warns Hercules. She shows him the trees, breaking a twig to show blood flowing from the wound to prove her point. She tells him to return to the city, where insurrection against the bad guys is rising. Herc carelessly trots off. Hipolyta arrives in time to shoot an arrow into the one who betrayed her. In turn, one of the trees grabs her and kills her, and her appearance returns to normal.

Within the city a reign of terror, The bad guy tortures a fellow, trying to gain information about the revolt. The fellow eventually is dropped into a pool of dry ice. We don’t know what that pool might be.

Hercules gathers a force of people escaping the terror. Proudly a-horse, he leads them back to the city. Insurrection in the city and the army joining the peasants.

On stone steps the army makes a stand. They shoot arrows, which sort of damages the insurrection. Hercules finds a cart with a large wheel. He removes the wheel, hefts it over his head and runs towards the archers. I think the theory is that the wheel offers protection. It would, but only from those archers shooting directly above Herc. And no one else is protected. No matter, the mob presses thru the gate, energized by Hercules’ lifting capabilities. Hercules lifts a very large stone block to smash one enemy, and that’s about the only offensive action he takes to defeat the enemy.

Hercules runs to the dungeon to save the queen. The Bad Guy is already there and drags her away. They ride off and Hercules follows. The Bad Guy finds a cave. In it is a big hairy beastie, Bigfoot. Bigfoot kills the Bad Guy. He looks lovingly at the queen, who screams. Herc arrives and the two tussle. Hercules is knocked against a wall, which causes a paper-mache boulder to fall on him. He lifts it up and crushes Bigfoot. Then everything is good again.

This whole ride is of the 2016 presidential race. Secret motives and machinations. Self-involved heroes. Idolatrous public. Tricks, deception, unwarranted ambitions. Hercules for sure does very little. Especially during the revolt, which he charismatically led, he hardly supplied any muscle, and his sole aim was to save the queen. It all sounds too familiar, like the tv show we’ve been watching about electing a president in 2016. At least we got ninety minutes of thoughtless entertainment out of this movie, clearly a core ideal in this world.


Wednesday, October 19, 2016

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Watched this beauty on my phone, using something called an ‘app’. I previously saw it in my youth, I believe, in a theatre, certainly not a first-run film. I think even then I recognized the limitations of the movie, yet the power of the monster projected intense visceral response.

I somehow understood that there were a gazillion of these rubber-suited monstrosities on show somewhere serving the need for unexamined fear. Donald Trump now fills that role. Few of these movies were available to me in the darkness before VHS and Internet. This movie somehow exceeded the niche and became a classic. It’s not The Thing (50s version), which is both more primally scary, and also has a livelier script. Still, it’s an iconic sea monster until we can get Spielberg to present sharks as psychopathic killers.

The movie begins with an archaeologist whose team discovers a large, unprecedented clawed hand from, as repeatedly said, the Devonian Era. The archaeologist hacks it out of the earth to bring it home. He wants to return with a proper crew to excavate the site.

His two native workers were to remain at the site. Whilst they discussed the logistics of the archaeologist’s return, we see a living version of that hand reach out of the nearby river. It just feels the ground a bit then draws back into the water. That, my friends, is presaging. Use it wisely.

Scene change to somewhere else. The staff ingenue, yclept Kate, drives a speed boat to a larger one. Under the sea someone is scuba diving. The diver, David, emerges from the water and we get some exposition going. Kate brings the archaeologist to meet with the diver. David and Kate are an item, albeit unmarried

They gather with the rest of the cast, which includes Kate’s boss. He too is a scientist but, as belaboured, he thinks too much in terms of bottom line. His name is Mark as in the ill-fated King in the Tristan and Iseult cycle of stories. Just saying.

Meanwhile, the two natives back at the archaeological site are in their tent one night. A, but we know it is the, creature emerges from the water and heads for their tent. We see one native sleeping, the other a-fright and saying “No! No!” The big claw lands on the fellow’s head and then from outside we see the turmoil of his death. Similarly so for sleepyhead, who wakes just in time to see himself killed. Okay, monster fully checked in. Such a monster can easily get thru first floor windows, and find its way upstairs to bedrooms of overly-imaginative youngsters. Easily!

The scene changes to our scientific party as it starts its journey African Queen-style down the Amazon. The captain has been charged with overacting as the wise but eccentric master of the river who needs a shave. A couple of natives help him drive the boat while our science friends lounge on deck.

Kate has a remarkable facility to keep her hair well-fussed with pins and scarves. Her shorts don’t seem like Amazon ware. David seems to look older as the movie progresses but they remain fluttery in their moon eyes. Mark proves to be a bit grouchy. He never seems to have been in the game vis-a-vis Kate but jealous nonetheless. Also, he’s not idealistic like David is.

At the site they happen to notice that the two natives have been eviscerated. Everyone’s almost shocked, but then they get back to business. They dig at the site for a while until Mark becomes disgruntled about not discovering a fishy Piltdown Man. They decide they need to investigate the water, on the off chance that earthquakes and landslides had moved the rest of the bones. David and Mark do the diving.

I believe that every movie or television show featuring diving becomes an act of following random fish around with a camera then occasionally taking note of the divers. At least glimpses of the Creature sends some adrenalin into our bloodstream. He does a lot of lurking, kind of a wallflower.
After one dive, Kate decides the boys are having all the fun so she takes a dip herself. We see her swimming luxuriously. She even performs some synchronized swimming routines for our viewing pleasure. And the pleasure seems even more so for the Creature, who lurks below watching. At one point she swims backstroke and the Creature below her unbeknownst does the same thing. A curious mating dance.

Lucas, the Captain, espies Kate and tells her to come closer, it is dangerous out there. She complies. Despite webbed feet and hands, the Creature barely can keep up with her, outstretching his clawed paw but unable to grasp her.

Just after she is back on board, the boat is rocked. Something large has gotten into the net they have in the water. They try to reel the net in but whatever that was caught burst thru the net. Later that night, the Creature climbs aboard and kills a native, using his patented claw to the head maneuver. Kate gets to scream.

Mark and David argue what to do next. Mark wants to kill it, and bring it back as a lucrative trophy. David wants to capture it, and bring it back as a scientific trophy. In a hunt for the Creature, Mark wounds it with a spear gun. It may be that it is now that the Creature comes aboard to kill a native. Specific narrative doesn’t matter, we know what’s going to happen.

Lucas suggests using a powder the natives use to catch fish. When they get the dose right, the Creature becomes woozy. I think the boys chase it to its grotto or something.

Whatever narrative details I have missed, Mark still falls to the clutches of the Creature, tho David does his best to save him.

Since it would be silly to take defensive measures, Kate sits out somewhere dreamy-eyed. The Creature appears, and the last native runs to her defense and is killed. That guy in all the 50s movies (Whit Bissell by name) joins the affray and is wounded, David and Lucas coming in the nick of time shooting guns.

While discussing the next move in a cabin with Whit Bissell laying there with his head completely bandaged, the Creature’s hand appears at the porthole. David slaps at the hand and closes the porthole. What was the Creature planning anyway? Surprise attack thru the 10” porthole?

Well, time for denouement. Kate sits out in the open on the shore and the Creature scoops her up and takes her to his grotto. David follows with loaded spear gun. Finding Kate he drops his weapon and they enter full smooch-mode, At which time the Creature reappears. Before things go too far regarding David’s head in the grip of the Creatures clawed paw, Lucas and the archaeologist appear with firearms a-blaze. The Creature hightails it. David, out of some arcane definition of humane, prevents the coup-de-grace. They let the Creature return to the water, where death comes soon enough. The end.

Like in King Kong, the movie wants to suggest the Creature’s humanity, or humanness, at least. And he seems attracted to Kate, tho expressed in a muddy way. But this is a monster, and the trumped up logic is simple:
  1. See monster (code word Other)
  2. Kill it.
  3. Revel in the thrill of fear.

Tuesday, August 02, 2016

Star Trek Beyond

Generic franchise title: beyond what? An uncrowded theatre welcomed us yesterday. We considered going Sunday but off day Monday worked well.

The upcoming films look downgoing. Tom Cruise again asserts an image of invincibility with an apparent rash, yes, rash of fight scenes of complete improbability. It keeps getting said that Cruise does all his stunts. Bullshit or not, it suggests an overweening self-concupiscence. Plus video game glory in murderous mayhem. Really, screw that! His name is mud.

That nugget was followed by Matt Damon likewise, as Jason Bourne. Previous Bourne movies have been pretty good, not for the fight scenes but the narrative tension. The highlights yesterday stressed fight scenes but maybe some narrative tension remains in the franchise.

There were two, yes, two films that were based on true stories. Snowden, and something about apparent frat boys as big time gun runners. Oliver Stone directs Snowden, so it will pretend to be journalistic while clearly taking a side. The frat boys looks like it was made for frat boys. Now Ben Hur… I never read the book or saw the Charlton Heston film, but it looks like Gladiator so I’m all in.

Beyond begins with Kirk looking restrained and official, like he got old on us. He’s on a diplomatic mission with some cgi creatures. The diplomacy immediately goes comically bad and ends with the creatures swarming him and him getting beamed out. No worries!

Really, Chris Pine completely out-shatners Shatner. Bemused yet heroic, and comfortably so, he wears the role well while remaining an actor, not an icon. Shatner was never more than Hollywood okay.

From there, things go dim for me, narrative-wise. The problem is that much of the expositionary parts explaining why things are happening are shouted in the midst of action scenes. I couldn’t track it all. Especially as the screen is so visually active with stuff going on, and noises. Much of it exceeded my processor speed. Your mileage may vary.

For the most part, my lack of understanding didn’t matter. The ensemble is really good together, with lots of wry, dry comments of hearty yet likely humour. The action scenes certainly are active.

So the Enterprise sets out on a rescue mission at the behest of some captain or something. They encounter an alien ship that pulverizes the Enterprise with pokeballs, I believe. It looks like 99% of the crew dies, except for a handful of captives and our headliners. There’s even a point where it looks like Kirk will have to sacrifice himself to save the crew, just like his father did. In the event, the headliners all escape using pods. They land scattered on the planet below.

Spock and Bones land near each other. Spock is injured. They spend a while bantering, then head off knowingly to somewhere. Sulu and Uhura end up together, I forget how. Scotty lands on a cliff edge, we see him hanging by one hand. Later it appears he has made it to the bottom of the cliff without utilizing the falling protocol. Must have been a considerable hike. Here he is met by some aliens (natives, actually) who are about to kill him. Then appears a warrior woman, almost deus ex machina. Some sort of flashing business makes her difficult to fight, so she vanquishes the aliens. She befriends Scotty, or the other way around. They go back to her place. Her name is Jayla.

Her place turns out to be a long lost federation ship. Alone, she’s trying to defeat the perp who attacked the Enterprise earlier. Gad, it is confusing. She joins the good guys, when they finally, and somehow, get back together.

I didn’t mench that the captain who sought Federation help turned out to be traitorous. I think the Enterprise crashed on top of her. Her crew had been captured by Kraal, the same who attacked the Enterprise, and she was trying to save them, even while selling out the Enterprise crew. Oh well.

Kraal has been doggedly seeking a thing-a-ma-jig that I dunno who originally found. Turns out the thing is a key part to a super-destructive thing. Kraal wants that thing, so he can destroy everything, something like that.

After much battling, our heroes defeat Kraal’s forces. Kraal escapes, heading towards the space station whence the story began, bearing his Destructo-thing.

The gang manage to get the ancient ship into the air and back to the mondo space station. Kraal unleashes his remaining forces and his pokeballs at the station. By broadcasting the song “Sabotage” by the Beastie Boys (redux from the first reboot), the good guys jam the ships and pokeballs. That leaves a last battle between Kirk and Kraal. I was thinking maybe Kirk would lose...

I never made out how the leap was made that Kraal, who I was thinking might be a Klingon, was actually the captain of the ancient ship. And he had the ability to change his appearance radically. Everything rushes by.

So narratively, I think the movie was messy. It doesn’t matter to me, really. I’m not much interested in the development of the canon. Some of the fight scenes are exaggerated but somehow don’t seem so woefully stupid as the Cruise vehicle. It’s Cruise’s self-satisfaction that annoys me. He likes the imagery too much. Kind of Donald Trumpish, don’t you know.

As a villain, this Kraal falls well below the level of those in the first two reboots. He’s just a crazy angry guy. The evocation of the space station, well, that’s what I’m here for. And the dialogue.

Jayla, who was a pretty good character, ends up a space cadet. Tho alien in appearance, she didn’t have to wear a football helmet to indicate her alien heritage. Likely she will appear in the next blockbuster. Better start worrying what the next one will be about.