Lukewarm Reaction To The Last Jedi

Posted Wednesday, December 27, 2017, 4:09 PM

Our handsome hero, windswept and interesting

It is now quite well known that Mark Hamill wasn't very happy with the direction Luke Skywalker's arc was written for him by Director Rian Johnson in the latest Star Wars movie The Last Jedi. He is reported as saying that he didn't see the character as his Luke, the one he had been living with since Star Wars's inception 40 years earlier. But he looked past that and gave the performance that the story required, one that was compelling and exciting and unpredictable, and in my opinion works better than anything else that you could imagine for him.

Hamill has a unique perspective of the character. When George Lucas directed Star Wars Episode IV, A New Hope, he was famously awkward and reserved, only giving very basic instructions on set, leaving the actors to basically create the character themselves. From that point of view, undoubtedly Mark Hamill had a very specific idea of who the character he was playing was. His origins were simple and clearly intimated in the script, and his somewhat ridiculed whiny nature was typical of a sheltered teenager who longed for adventure. By the time the sequel Empire Strikes Back was filmed, directed this time by a competent, nay extremely talented Director, Irvin Kershner, Hamill would have seen his character's future mapped out more clearly. No longer whiny, but still youthful in his enthusiasm, Luke proves himself a warrior as he faces down Darth Vader directly. And further, by Return of the Jedi, Richard Marquand's rumoured ineffectual direction, Hamill will have taken charge again to shape his character the way he saw him.

As the future of Star Wars as a franchise lay fallow, ten years passed before what became known as the Expanded Universe started to evolve, a series of novels, comics, video games, and toys that would involve the further adventures of Luke, Leia, and Han. Though ultimately rendered obsolete, these stories allowed the actors to reflect on their characters as vibrant dynamic heroes who repeatedly defeated enemies and saved the Galaxy multiple times.

And then came the Prequels, those much-maligned back stories of where our heroes came from, what the Galaxy was like before the Empire crushed it beneath its feet. And the Jedi Knights were not portrayed as heroic at all, but arrogant, interfering, foolish, and complacent. Mistake after mistake led them to a reckoning, one that opened up the cracks that let the Sith rule.

And so the new trilogy, that began after Disney's purchase of Lucasfilm with The Force Awakens, now having wiped those exciting stories from canon, termed Legends, has the Luke we see at the end of the first movie as having had none of those adventures. His life is not one of triumph after triumph, or even of maintaining hope in the Galaxy. Instead, as The Last Jedi has shown, he has failed repeatedly, just as the Jedi Knights had done at the formation of the Empire.

And no wonder. Luke was no Jedi, he was barely trained and was far too old. He had no living mentors, no understanding of what he was doing. He tried his best, did what he could with what little he could glean from the Histories, but he had no chance. Having seen his star pupil so easily succumb to the Dark Side would naturally have sent him reeling, realising he was no Jedi Master, no equal to Yoda or those who came before him. That is the Luke we see in The Last Jedi, the only Luke there could have been.

Mark Hamill saw Luke as a hero, a Jedi Knight who saved the Galaxy, and portrayed him that way in every movie up until then. But naturally he cannot see the character in the objective way the audience has. The Jedi are not capable of saving the Galaxy, it takes more than the Light Side of the Force to defeat the Dark Side. There must be a balance between the two. The Jedi have to end, the Sith have to end, and something new take their place. That's where the story has to go, and that's how Luke must be portrayed.

Only 14 Hours To Save The Earth

Posted Monday, April 27, 2015, 7:37 AM

Faced with bringing pulp comic book hero Flash Gordon into the modern age, the creators quickly abandoned all hope of adapting it into anything sensible without losing its charm. So without hesitation they leap into corny cheese with their arms wide and all semblance of logic cut off at the pass.

I like how you decorated the place.

Once again, simulcast with JetSimian, Al, and Jamas.

The recent attempt at adapting John Carter of Mars has a lot of plot similarities to the adventures of Flash Gordon. An ordinary man finds himself in a strange alien world, filled with exotic cultures in lavish costumes, with a brutal culture and a war brewing they enlist their hero to use his unorthodox methods to aid them in their fight.

Careful, Flash, or our wires will snag!

This time Flash, Sam Jones, brings along spunky Dale Arden, Melody Anderson, when the potentially treacherous Doctor Zarkov, Topol, kidnaps them to help him fly his rocket ship to escape earth and its impending doom. It's a parade of unmotivated weirdness, over-the-top characters, in exotic environments, wearing dazzlingly glamorous outfits.

Mongo's own "Earth, Wind, and Fire" tribute act prepares.

An unexpected theme of sensuality, rather than innocent romance, pervades most of the scenes, not least of which is provided by Ornella Muti's Princess Aura, who seems to be secretly sleeping with everything with a penis, and possibly some of those without. Timothy Dalton's Prince Barin, fully capable of chewing the scenery when the role calls for it, is surprisingly restrained here amongst over-actors like Brian Blessed's Prince Vultan and Max von Sydow's spectacularly camp Ming the Merciless. Skimpy form-fitting costumes abound.

Not the Craw.

It's a cavalcade of absurdity as the plot leaps from one tame set-piece to the next with alacrity, sharp banter keeping everything fun, the iconic soundtrack from Queen bringing much 80s glam rock to keep your heart racing. It's no wonder Flash Gordon is considered a classic in its field of over-the-top fantasy sci-fi, it recognised where the balance needed to be, and it maintained that line deftly.

Can I fit any more adverbs into this post?

Not pictured: Thomas the Tank Engine

There are a few old movies that I think would benefit from a George Lucas-style Special Edition do-over, using the original elements but modern technology to upgrade the rough edges, particularly of the visual effects and the sound effects. It wouldn't take much to make those adjustments to Flash Gordon and not affect any of its inherent charm. I'd really like to see that.

If anyone is looking for a good MST3K night with your nerdy mates, you couldn't do better than with the glamorous Flash Gordon.

A new version is in the works. I suspect they'll move away from the cheese and go for gritty realism. If so, I fear it will suffer for it. Personally I'd rather adapt Dash Decent.

P.S: spot the fleeting Robbie Coltrane appearance.

Mind Over Dark Matter

Posted Wednesday, April 15, 2015, 9:00 AM

1979 had two science fiction adventures that couldn't be more different while being somewhat alike. On the one hand was Ridley Scott's Alien, a realistic, atmospheric, carefully crafted masterpiece of a haunted house story set in space. While on the other hand was Disney's The Black Hole, an overly serious, predictably plotted, overacted mess, executed at a mind-numbingly tedious momentum.

Once again, simulcast with JetSimian, Jamas Enright, and Alistair Hughes.

Stylistically very much a Disney movie, more like Star Trek The Motion Picture that also came out that year in its choices of photography and lighting, it leaps into the plot, such as it is, immediately, with no attempt for us to get to know any of the characters or their motivations. We can't even keep track of their names, let alone their personalities. Anthony Perkins, Yvette Mimieux, Ernest Borgnine, Robert Forster, every one of them phoning it in.

Wait! This black hole is blue! I demand a refund!

A science ship, the Palomino, searching for lifeforms on other planets, encounters a lost spaceship, the Cygnus, which, heavy exposition tells us, was captained by the reckless and scenery-chewing Dr Reinhardt, played by Maximilian Schell, and they immediately investigate. A lot of special effects porn follows as we slowly get the plot properly moving. The suspense is weak, the story is non-existent, the characters bland and boring as they meander around the spaceship, reciting dull gobbledegook-heavy dialogue in a monotonous drone.

Who said that?

A by-the-numbers "imprisoned by a madman" storyline is barely worth paying attention to. Not only is there no adventure, there's barely any science fiction; it wouldn't even make a decent Buck Rogers episode. The only bursts of excitement amount to barely-motivated shoot-outs and chases, and a protracted destruction sequence, but this is no Star Wars. It looks and feels 20 years out of date, like they hadn't learned anything from the movie-making revolution that was going on around them. Even the score feels like it's a temp track borrowed from other films, with inappropriately quiet music during action sequences, bombastic music telegraphing events before they happen, all its beats irrelevantly misplaced for the events happening on screen.

So how does an anti-gravity object float in a moving elevator anyway?

The robots provide the comic relief, if you can call it that, with VINCENT voiced by Roddy McDowall, and later his damaged "brother" BOB voiced by Slim Pickens. When I watched the film in the cinema as a kid, the cool dual-barrelled guns on the soldier robots were my strongest memory, and my friends and I had laser battles with our fingers folded to emulate them for weeks afterwards. Beyond that I haven't had any desire to revisit the film, until prompted to do so today.

The robots all move like a bad mime act.

I also had a comic book follow-up, that continued past the bizarre psychedelic cliffhanger ending (aka "we don't know how to end it, so lets copy 2001"), discovering what lay beyond the black hole, which was a mirror-galaxy, but millions of years in the past. It turned out to be more exciting than the film, and yet only managed one issue.

Any nostalgia you may have for The Black Hole is best kept to your childhood. There's no need to ever revisit this tedious waste of 90 minutes.

There's Nothing Strange In My Neighbourhood

Posted Wednesday, January 28, 2015, 9:04 AM

1984 was an amazing year for movies that have resonated in our culture: Terminator. The Karate Kid. The Neverending Story. Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom. Gremlins. Beverly Hills Cop. Romancing the Stone. The Last Starfighter. Top Secret! But top of the list will always be Ghostbusters.

Simulcast with JetSimian, Jamas Enright, and whoever this guy is.

There's something about this comedy that everybody loves, with endlessly quotable dialogue, fantastic iconography, and naturally funny performances, which never get old. It made stars of its cast, it became a touchstone of pop culture, and it's still compared with modern comedies today; everyone is trying to make something as good as Ghostbusters.

Originally written by Dan Aykroyd, a man obsessed by the occult in real life, his draft relied a bit too heavily on unfilmable spectacle, so Aykroyd's friend Harold Ramis and director Ivan Reitman rewrote it to emphasise the characters more. They cast other SNL and Second City alumni (John Candy turned it down, but Rick Moranis filled his slot) to flesh it out, the keystone undoubtedly Bill Murray as Venkman, famously reluctant to do any project. Annie Potts as Janine and Sigourney Weaver as Dana, the only two women in the cast, add more than just oestrogen; holding their own and making their mark against such a strong cast of guys is no mean feat.

The movie starts off expertly, with a ghostly apparition in a library leading straight into a fantastic song by Ray Parker Jr (apparently modelled after a Huey Lewis and the News Song, though I can barely detect it). Then it's straight into the main characters, each introduction artfully establishing their individual quirks and motivations. It's so effortlessly done, it's no wonder this is a movie many want to emulate and see more of.

After establishing Ghostbusters as a company, they successfully capture a ghost haunting a hotel, causing thousands of dollars in damage in the process, but this gets them noticed, and soon their traps are full of ghosts. Sigourney Weaver, who was still a big name after her role in Alien, discovers she has a possessed fridge, somehow turned into a gateway to the underworld guarded by Zuul. Apparently a lot of the weird supernatural mumbo jumbo is genuine mythology, thanks to Dan Aykroyd's contributions to the script. Despite her asking for help from the game show host Venkman, Dana ends up possessed, leading to a fantastic scene where Venkman is caught between wanting to take advantage of her exciting state of demonic possession for a bit of happy fun times, and yet compassionately wanting to look after the real Dana.

Neighbour Louis Tully, Rick Moranis playing a sad sack, who also becomes possessed by the Keymaster Vinz Clortho in an amazing scene where he is chased by a demon dog and screams for help, but the patrons of the restaurant completely ignore him, completes the circle.

Dealing with a man with no dick, the nasty Walter Peck, an EPA official who wants their business shut down, causing the ghosts to be released back into the city, fleshes out the story in a way that anchors it in reality. The fantasy here never feels like it's out of hand or at ridiculous levels. The comedy is gentle, not insulting or aggressive like a lot of modern comedy can be, and the drama has serious consequences, with lives and the city on the line. Having red tape and an interfering busybody to deal with helps emphasise the scale of some of the larger issues the team are dealing with.

The end battle is the weak point, in my opinion. The threat Gozer is supposed to represent doesn't really come across very effectively. Her final appearance as a dancer flipping across the rooftop in a burlesque bubble costume is disappointing and not very imposing, and the comedy nature of the gigantic StaPuft Marshmallow Man taking the wind out of the villain's supposedly evil nature's sails even further. Defeating them by "crossing the streams" isn't really a solution so much as the result of desperation, and doesn't really satisfyingly resolve anything so much as just end things with an explosion, and everything is magically all better now.

But Ghostbusters place in the history of cinema can't be denied. Though a product of its time, it is almost a perfect comedy (its place at the top only surpassed by Ramis and Murray's own Groundhog Day a decade later) and can hold its head high. Thank goodness nobody ever made any sequels or has any plans to reboot the series with an entirely new cast.

Dragons Slain While You Wait

Posted Wednesday, August 27, 2014, 7:00 AM

When I think back on the movies that I enjoyed as a teenager, it's clear that my tastes were not sophisticated enough to be very discerning. To me any exciting piece of cinematic razzle dazzle was an afternoon well spent, especially in the company of friends. And yet, when I look back, though I can now recognise a dud when I see it, every one still holds a lot of joy for me.

So amongst such gems as Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Empire Strikes Back, ET, Goonies, and Gremlins, I still hold great affection for Popeye (Robin Williams, RIP), Condorman, Superman III, and today's reviewed movie, Dragonslayer. They each had something that made them resonate.

This post is part of the ongoing saga of reviews of 80s fantasy movies of my youth, also simul-reviewed by my mate Pete aka Jetsimian, and his mate Jamas.

Sir Ralph Richardson's performance definitely raises everyone's game.

After a band of travellers, led by Valerian (Caitlin Clarke) plea for the sorcerer Ulrich (a brief but beautiful performance from Ralph Richardson) to help save their village from the dragon Vermithrax Pejorative, a dickhead, Tyrian, swaggers in and ruins their plans when he somewhat accidentally (it's complicated) kills the sorcerer. Galen, the sorcerer's apprentice, steps in to take his place.

For some reason Peter MacNicol doesn't like to talk about his experiences on the set of Dragonslayer

Galen is earnestly played by Peter MacNicol. You may know him as the quirky maths mentor in Numb3rs, or the quirky lawyer in Ally McBeal, or the quirky gallery owner in Ghostbusters II. Here he is much less quirky, and, though initially cocky when he takes the mantle of Master Sorcerer, he is soon confronted with hard won responsibility, and he grows up fast.

Caitlin Clarke may be responsible for my ongoing affection for tomboyish brunettes

Valerian, a young woman masquerading as a boy to avoid being chosen as a dragon sacrifice, leads the villagers and Galen to Vermithrax's cave, where he causes half a mountain to block the entrance. Celebrations ensue, but we're only a third through the movie, so perhaps they are being a tad premature. Vermithrax soon makes his continuing existence felt. Religion fails to do anything, as a praying priest, a pre-Emperor Palpatine Ian McDiarmid, is the next to be fed upon.

Full scale dragon limbs and heads are also judiciously used by the special effects team

This is where the artistry of ILM comes to the fore, as we catch brief glimpses of Vermithrax's grand figure as he stalks from the cave and glides across the sunset.

The American accents from the two young leads are slightly annoying

When the King's daughter (embarrassingly badly acted by Chloe Salaman) gets her turn at the sacrificial stake, things get critical, and Galen is sent into the cave, though not before he admits his love for Valerian. Though they did only meet a week earlier, and exchanged maybe three sentences together.

The weakest scene in the movie

A rather weak battle with Tyrian at the cave entrance could've been edited out entirely, as it adds very little. It's a notable weak spot in what is otherwise an excellently directed movie. Director Matthew Robbins's strengths do not lie in fight choreography.

Vermithrax moves like a stalking bat in some shots. It's quite intimidating

The imagery from this movie that sticks with me the most, that resonates in my memory the strongest and keeps it listed as one of my favourite ever fantasy films, is the incredible design and stop motion animation work of Vermithrax the dragon. And when I say "stop motion" in fact it was an early iteration of a technique coined as "go-motion" where the moving elements were artificially blurred during each frame to add realistic smoothness to the animation. It is arguably the most effective use of that technique in its history. Coupled with the masterful grasp of the organic motion of animals, it is a tour de force.

There's no more definitive a dragon design than Vermithrax Pejorative

The jeopardy portrayed in this sequence is outstanding. You really feel like Galen is risking his life in every scene, thanks to excellent direction, MacNicol's performance (often entirely against bluescreen), and menacing animation of the dragon, both miniature and full size.

Galen's first volley at the dragon is unsuccessful, and it's only later that he realises his old master was not dead at all, but magically hidden amongst his artifacts, so he could be carried along with them on the journey. And when the old Sorcerer reappears, his plan to defeat Vermithrax at last requires another sacrifice, but this time a true one, freely given. His own.

Though the visual effects are dated, they remain impressive

The storyline of Dragonslayer adheres closely to a fairy tale. Kings, Princesses, Sorcerers, a plucky Apprentice, a fair Maiden, the slaying of a dragon. You can't get more storybook, and the mix is handled as well as might be expected, especially for the time when an epic scale in movies had so recently become the new default standard. This was high adventure, beautifully realised, and taken seriously. The only thing that kept it from greatness was the cynicism of audiences at the time, not ready to view fantasy as a source of genuine drama. If they had, Dragonslayer would be well deserving of fondness and respect.

Krull To Be Kind

Posted Thursday, July 24, 2014, 5:00 AM

After the VCR and video rental boom, and during the sell-through affordable video cassette era of the 90s, I decided that I wanted to have my very own collection of ten Fantasy Films that I had enjoyed during my teenage years. These were, in chronological order of release, Dragonslayer, The Dark Crystal, Krull, The Neverending Story, Ladyhawke, Legend, Labyrinth, The Princess Bride, Willow, and Dragonheart. Most of them were cheesy as all get-out, but I didn't know that at the time. For each one I was the perfect age to fall for them, hook line and sinker. Dragonheart, a 90s movie, was added in to round it up to ten, and a couple of years later I decided it probably shouldn't have been included in that list, I never really felt great love for it.

When DVD came along, I was very excited as one by one each of these movies were released in high(ish) quality widescreen, with copious extras included. By 2005 I had amassed the entire collection I'd dreamed of, and more.

I hadn't seen Krull since it had last been on TV, fifteen years at least, and I eagerly lapped it up. Did it hold up? Holy crap, no it did not. And I've rewatched it again now for this, a more formal review made at the suggestion of and alongside my mate JetSimian, and also in association with his mate Jamas Enright.

It's high fantasy. It has Kings and Princesses and fantastical beasts, in a classic plot carefully following the hero's journey. It has a bombastic score by the appropriately named James Horner (he loves his brass) introduced in a scene with a giant misshapen thing flying towards the planet Krull. This is the Black Fortress, in which lives the Beast. That's about as creative as this movie gets for names.

Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa. Not pictured: Lyssa's real voice.

Meanwhile a marriage is to take place between Prince Colwyn and Princess Lyssa. That's a lot of Ys, maybe they're Welsh. Lyssa is played by Lysette Anthony, who I had a little crush on when she was on a British sitcom, but here has been cruelly dubbed with a horrible American accent that is incredibly distracting. Colwyn is played by Ken Marshall, a blandly attractive and charisma-free actor who has done nothing of particular note either before or since.

The Prince and Princess go through a marriage ritual that involves fire on their hands. This is IMPORTANT, though it kind of feels like it was jammed into the final draft of the script a week before shooting.

Slayers. Their single-shot weapons are like muskets with bayonets.

The Beast has sent out his soldiers, Slayers, suitably creepy creatures with an exo-skeletal carapace. They attack the wedding and kill everyone in the castle, and kidnap the princess. Why? It's never really made clear. That's just what baddies do.

But one man survived the slaughter, and no prizes for guessing it's Prince Colwyn. He is discovered by the sage Ynyr (yeah, definitely Welsh) played by Freddie Jones, who plays the role of "wise old man who provides exposition".

Remember to hold it the right way round, to avoid owies.

Colwyn must retrieve the Glaive, the fabled weapon that is in all the promotional materials, the five bladed frisbee star thingamajig, which I very much would like to have a replica of my own one day. Colwyn has to reach into the lava to get it. Why is it there? Don't know. Just is. Because. Cue slow motion, soft focus sparkles, and choral chants.

Alun Armstrong acts circles around everyone else in the movie.

As they travel they pick up a cavalcade of actors, known, unknown, and future stars, including David Battley as Ergo the Magnificent, a wizard who can turn himself into various animals and has a penchant for gooseberries; Robbie Coltrane, Alun Armstrong, Todd Carty, and most famously Liam Neeson, as a band of escaped prisoners; and Rel the Cyclops, played quite brilliantly by tall Carry On actor Bernard Bresslaw and who has more character development than almost anyone else in the whole film. It's a Wizard of Oz kind of enlistment of tag-alongs and cannon fodder.

Bernard Bresslaw couldn't see very well, yet ran full tilt through forests, swamps, and rock strewn deserts.

Because the Black Fortress appears in a different location every day (quite a cool concept, I think), they need to find someone who can tell them where it will be the next morning, so they enlist the help of a blind Seer and his young boy assistant, who take them to the murky Soundstage Swamp.

In quite an impressively spectacular battle, the Slayers attack, and here's where some of the more memorable images, which held 13 year old me transfixed, occur. The Slayers' deaths, with their carapaces cracking open and the squids inside escaping underground, are really cool! The Changeling taking over the Seer and fooling them, only for Rel to race along and save the day, was a really thrilling sequence! By far the scenes in the swamp are the most effective of all.

Not what it looks like. Depending on what you think it looks like.

After the death of the Seer everyone is very sad for about three seconds, then they shake that off and head out of the swamp, happy and laughing.

Let's pause here to count how many women have been in the movie so far: One. And she's held captive, alone, for the majority of the film, with barely any dialogue. Princess Lyssa, with her shock of Nicole Kidman curls, is having a boring time of it living inside something resembling a conch shell, with nowhere comfortable to sit down.

There are only two women of note in this movie. The damsel in distress who needs rescuing...

The Beast, meanwhile, sounds a bit bored by it all, waiting for her to capitulate to his demands that she love him. Not very seductive. Though maybe he's hampered by the fact that he seems to live in a different aspect ratio to everyone else.

"Fear me, for I live in the 4:3 anamorphic dimension!"

Without the Seer they're buggered. Or are they? Conveniently there's another way to find where the Black Fortress will be. A fancy lady, played by Francesca Annis, lives in the middle of a spiderweb, where a giant stop-motion spider guards her. So the second female character with dialogue is also imprisoned, and in her scene they mostly talk about how tragically beautiful she is. Or was. Or something. This movie fails the Bechdel Test quite badly.

...and the self-exiled Nun.

The Widow of the Web sequence has always been the scene I've disliked the most; it's too laboured, the pacing is horrible, it's far too melodramatic (which is really saying something for this film), and it has a big poorly-animated spider in it. This was also about the time I started to get annoyed at stop-motion as being too distracting and outdated (I deliberately didn't watch the original Clash of the Titans because of my attitude towards stop-motion).

The only tension in this sequence is in the threads of the web. (rimshot)

After some overwrought nonsense dialogue, Freddie Jones's character also dies, just after providing the location of the Black Fortress in his last moments. The hero must now go on alone, to the Iron Desert. This leads to the best piece of music in the whole movie: The Ride of the Fire Mares. This is the other key moment in the movie that stood out in my memory, and it is still quite fun indeed, though it also has very poor bluescreen effects.

The Fire Mare sequence probably goes on too long, but it is quite beautiful.

They reach the Black Fortress with moments to spare, where Rel the cyclops dies while holding the door open. Well, of course. Noble sacrifices seem to be two-a-penny in this tale. Robbie Coltrane's character dies in this scene, and then Liam Neeson gets an ignominious death soon after. Most of the deaths in this movie are random, motivated by bad luck. None of the characters have any discernible personality, and their only roles seem to be to fill out the crowd scenes, and be sacrificial lambs during the adventure. Not to mention the numerous anonymous red-shirts who get knocked off in each battle. This movie is very poorly written, on every level. It's one of those films where I'd think "I can write something better than this" and I'd be right, I really could.

In this magical kingdom, all spells are cast with a constipated grimace.

Finally they reach the cell where Princess Lyssa is being held, and Colwyn has a reason to use his Glaive weapon at last. Remember that? The bladed thing he got at the very start, is in all the promotional material, and was seemingly so very important? And do you know how he uses it? As a glorified circular saw, to open the prison cell door.

This is how a hero saves a Princess - with power tools.

He does then use it against the Beast, but that's a double bluff because it doesn't kill him, only wounds. The actual successful way to get him is with the fire. What fire? You remember, the flame, that was part of the marriage ritual! I told you it was important! Colwyn uses that to finally destroy the Beast!

Only a true king can set his hands on fire and not be harmed. I think that's the point of the whole movie.

Wait, Lyssa had that the whole time? She had the means to defeat the Beast, literally in the palm of her hand, and yet she did nothing? What?

The Beast defeated, they race out of the Fortress. Surviving member count: Alun Armstrong, Todd Carty, Ergo the Magnificent, the Seer's boy, the Prince and Princess. Not much to rebuild a kingdom with. But they do all live happily ever after! Probably.

Note how each actor is looking in a different direction.

In a world with no villages or towns, with people who wander about and join any travelling band of wanderers that happen along, where nothing important happens for hundreds of years until the whole planet hangs in the balance over one incident involving an ugly beast who kidnapped a Princess for no clear purpose, and loads of people die quite randomly... I don't think I'd want to live there.

This script needed another couple of drafts. We needed to see some of the Prince and Princess together before the wedding so we cared about them. We needed a better motivation for the Beast to exist and to want to kidnap the Princess. We needed some proper motivation for why the gang of misfits join the quest. Every character had to have clear personalities that motivated their actions and made them lovable so we were affected by their deaths, which needed to be for more than just convenient plot reasons. And we needed a Princess worth fighting for, someone with spunk, intelligence, resourcefulness, and a prettier accent, and she and the Prince needed to defeat the Beast together.

As cheesy fantasy movies go, this is the cheesiest in my list of ten. It does not hold up too well. I once had the idea of getting a hold of all the original footage, including alternative takes, and re-editing it to modern sensibilities, updating the visual effects, adjusting some of the scenes to be more dynamic or improve the storytelling. But it may be that this movie is beyond help. They tried, just not very hard. It's a clumsy, melodramatic, poorly acted, poorly written little adventure of no consequence.

But it's fun, and sometimes that's enough.

Safe At Last. In A Prison. Surrounded By Zombies

Posted Wednesday, December 4, 2013, 11:17 AM

In order to dig myself free of this hole I've found myself in, compromises have had to be made. I am in a temporary living arrangement of a boarding house. Only it's not really one at all.

The term "Boarding House" may conjure up images of a large facility with multiple bedrooms and a communal area filled with couches and armchairs and a ping pong table. Or perhaps a multi-storey house with a shared kitchen and big yard. But instead what I'm in is a crappy house, which would ordinarily be listed as "condemned", where the doors don't close properly, the windows don't open properly, the washing machine shakes the building off its foundations, the kitchen is so small it can only fit three people, an outside toilet, and a bathroom with poor drainage.

This is a three bedroom home which has had its living room artificially divided up into two bedrooms, so there is no communal area at all, and its an overcrowded space at the best of times. Each of the residents are equally as damaged and broken as I find myself to be, but in different and more unpredictable ways, which leads to constant confrontation. Nobody here is a listener, they all just talk over each other, and never seem to get anything done. Though I am a listener, I have to count myself just as guilty in the non-achievement ranks, so it's quite a mess here most of the time, both figuratively and literally.

But the part that worries me the most is that every time I step out of my room I see a new stranger, some new visitor or friend or even enemy of one of the other residents. Are they friendly? Are they trustworthy? Are they just as broken as the rest of us? Are they staying for a few days? Will they be wandering around the house randomly while I'm trying to make my lunch? It is utterly horrible, I feel unsafe and insecure, and I want out of this arrangement as quickly as I can.

I have to be here. I am trapped here by my own circumstance. Attempts to get money from Social Welfare (Centrelink) have been a ridiculous rigmarole, horribly stressful, and, because of one single obstacle of not having a particular ID card, so far completely fruitless. Centrelink won't give me any money until I have "100 points of ID" which they arbitrarily assign to various things. Being the person that I am, I only have a few kinds of ID. I don't drive, my name is not on the Rental Agreement of this crappy place nor do I pay any of its utility bills, etc. I do have my Passport, and I do have a Bank Card, but the last sticking point is my Medicare Card. Due to random bad luck, it had expired and I hadn't updated the address, so it got lost in the mail. Now I have had to order a new one, and it should have arrived in the mail last week, but it's now a whole week late and in the meantime I have no money to live on. In fact I have had no money for the past two months; if it wasn't for my family donating funds I would have starved.

It's not entirely doom and gloom. The rent here is really cheap, and I don't have to pay any other bills. I do have internet, though it's borrowed and, due to the age of the wiring, very slow. I am close to public transport and have multiple locations nearby, like parks or walking paths, I can escape to to be alone.

But those are small comfort.

It is ironic that, at a time when safety, security, peace of mind, and reliability is what I need the most in order for me to cope, I have none of them. I've found a safe haven, except it's a prison, and it's surrounded by zombies.