Bladerunner 2049 as it was for me

“Every civilization was built on the back of a disposable workforce, but I can only make so many.”

I had waited a long time.  I had waited before I knew there was anything to wait for.  Anything to anticipate.  Then when I knew there would be more my heart sank.  For I knew…I knew..that it would bring despair.  That it would fail to emulate what Bladerunner was to me and that was a cornerstone of my artistic identity.  When the date was announced for the new film Bladerunner 2049 I just had to see it.  I had to.  I had to know.  So when tickets came online they were bought and to the cinema I went.

So…how was it?

I will ignore all that has been said about it being boring…you don’t get it.  I will ignore the lack of cinema revenue…who cares it will be a legend.  I will ignore the pedants who laugh at it…no one will remember them.  My thoughts after nearly three hours in the seat is that Bladerunner 2049 is a masterpiece of film making and it restored my faith in the medium.  The best film in a decade.

The universe set up in the original film survived and was expanded.  Atari and the Soviet Union are both still going strong.  The visuals were stunning and the music…souring and epic.  For me the giantess of the virtual billboard was a highlight.

A core tenant in the film was the nature of what it is to be Human and the reactions of the Human with the Enhanced and now the Virtual too.  All too relevant for the world as it is now and as it will soon be too.  After all her eyes are blue but they should be green.

I could wax on for an age.  But I will not.  I loved this film and I will continue to do so.  Do yourself a favour and see it.  Also do yourself a favour and ignore the critics and their screeching about feminism and other issues..they will never be happy.  This film is a gem.

GBS

All You Need is Kill or Live, Die, Repeat Review

I treated myself to a night at home not doing any work and rather spending time with my good lady and watching a science fiction film.  I know…how dare I!  Moving on from that the film we choose to buy (I tend to just buy DVD’s as renting them is now very difficult and downloading does not suit me) was Edge of Tomorrow or Live, Die, Repeat or All You Need is Kill.  Take your pick of the title.  Though the last title is the book the film is based upon.  So sitting in the dark with a beer or two how was it?

Well as an adaptation of the book it was quite a bit different which was sad really as the setting in All you need is Kill was to me better than a d-day recreation set in London and northern France.  As a movie though Live Die Repeat was very good with a nice look and a lot of action.  Here is the synopsis:

“The epic action of “Edge of Tomorrow” unfolds in a near future in which an alien race has hit the Earth in an unrelenting assault, unbeatable by any military unit in the world. Major William Cage (Tom Cruise) is an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission. Killed within minutes, Cage now finds himself inexplicably thrown into a time loop-forcing him to live out the same brutal combat over and over, fighting and dying again…and again. But with each battle, Cage becomes able to engage the adversaries with increasing skill, alongside Special Forces warrior Rita Vrataski (Emily Blunt). And, as Cage and Rita take the fight to the aliens, each repeated encounter gets them one step closer to defeating the enemy.”

It is well worth checking out when you have a chance if you are a science fiction film fan.  Also it was good to see Bill Paxton back in the army!

So the book.  I have owned the book since near its English language translation date in the VIS Media edition in 2005.  I always thought it would make an excellent Manga but never thought it would be a Hollywood A lister live action film.  Here is the synopsis of the book:

“The story is told from the perspective of Keiji Kiriya, a new recruit in the United Defense Force which fights against the mysterious ‘Mimics’ which have laid siege to Earth. Keiji is killed on his first sortie, but through some inexplicable phenomenon wakes up having returned to the day before the battle. This continues and he finds himself caught in a time loop as his death and resurrection repeats time and time again. Keiji’s skill as a soldier grows as he passes through each time loop in a desperate attempt to change his fate.  After several dozen loops, he realizes his fate is tied to that of Rita Vrataski. He uses his knowledge of the day to get close to her and her mechanic, from whom he gets a copy of her massive axe, a weapon he learns to use well given the boltgun normal troops use runs out of ammo and jams easily. Realizing he is a fellow looper, Rita confides in Keiji, telling him of the system the Mimics use. There is a central nexus that can loop the day, as well as several antennae, all of which signal the loop to reset. Contact with an antenna is what trapped Keiji in the loop. Only by first killing all the antennae and then the nexus can Keiji escape. The Mimics constantly adapt to Keiji’s attacks, but he and Rita manage to eliminate the nexus, only to have the loop reset. After telling Rita this, she acknowledges that they missed one antenna. On the last loop (#160) they proceed to eliminate the antennae again, and then Rita attacks Keiji, explaining that being trapped in the loop has modified their brains so both of them are similar to the antennae, meaning one of them has to die before killing the nexus, else the loop will continue indefinitely. Keiji manages to kill Rita and then the nexus, and is hailed as a new hero of the Unity Army.”

Its a very original novel and its story works very well as a text, better than as a film if not using a narrator.  Confusion and despair mixed with a foreboding of events that will happen, have happened and will happen again.  If you have the inclination to read the book then you should and do so before you see the American adaptation of the book.

A last mention needs to be made of the alien creatures ‘Mimics’ which are described in the book but the film brought to CGI life.  It is a shame that no ‘making of’ book exists to be bought since I would purchase it.  The work that went into the design of the aliens was large and done in tandem with the designs of the armoured suits worn by troopers in the movie.  I got this information from two short documentaries included on the DVD.

GBS

Rest in Peace Rik Mayall and know that I will miss you…

I was going to do a blog post this evening about how the build of the mighty new Alternative Armies website is now complete and that preparation to move over to the new site will begin soon.  I was going to do a blog post about it being only 100 Days until Scotland must choose to be in this union or become an independent nation once more.  I was going to do a blog post about the great success of the latest Ion Age early supporter offer or about the great reception to the re-mastered Sabre Jet Flyer for Laserburn or even about the massive efforts we have been going to for project Darkhelm.  But no.  I little piece of my world died this afternoon for my comedy hero of my entire remembered life is dead.  Rest in Peace Rik Mayall aged only 56.

Its not a big tribute.  Its just what I feel.  On the odd occasion where it has gotten a little dark for me in life the comedy programme of Rik kept me going.  I know literally all the lines of Bottom dialogue off by heart.  I own four copies of Guest House Paradiso in an effort to support him.  I have seen him live on tour.  I own all the Young Ones, all of The New Statesmen, the movie Drop Dead Fred and even the little known Filthy Rich and Catflap and the Dangerous Brothers.  Since the 1980’s and boyhood I have adored Rik Mayall.   Hell in the last blog post I put up there was a still of Ade Edmondson leading it, that is how much its on my mind most weeks.  I had hoped for another series of Bottom, of another Tour.  Really anything but no chance of that now.

I do not yet know what happened to Rik but it must have been quick and that is something.  Time will tell.  My thoughts are with his wife and three children.  Enjoy these video links:

No more work for me today.  Email will have to wait this evening and instead its going to be a DVD and a few beers.  Anarchic comedy one last time before it becomes legend.

GBS

The Lego Movie – Am I looking too far into it?


Am I not part of normal society now?  Now before you go thinking I have put on a mask and lurk in dark alleys tackling criminals or I have forgotten its the early 21st century and moved to another time zone I have not. What I mean is ‘am I the kind of guy that mainline movies are made for’.  What made me have this thought, well the LEGO movie did.  I had promised my eldest son that he and his brothers could go see it and that happened this weekend.

This film has had rave reviews.  I mean rave.  Aside from the review above which you can watch the film got a 96% positive rating on Rotten Tomatoes which is no mean thing.  But I just don’t buy it and here is why.  Firstly I sat in an audience of three hundred most of whom were children and most of them were at times so bemused and bored that they cried, spoke and wandered around (that did not happen during the excellent Despicable Me 2) and secondly the film just made me sad.  Some have said that it pokes fun at the society that created it, the media obsessed, consumerist driven, you are never a failure despite your mediocrity society of the Western World in 2014.  It does but its a veneer that covers the following.

The main LEGO character called Emmett is a vacuum of a man who just wants to fit in with a generic ‘awesome’ template of being ideal in his environment.   The bad guy is called President Business (telling eh!) who does away with everyone who disagrees with him using a fascist police force.  Literally disassembled by the powers that be.   If you fail you get bailed out or soothed by the government if you are rich and important but if you try to be different and you are normal..you are killed.  Special privileges for those in control in manipulation of the masses.   President Business explains that ‘everything must stay the same’ and that building lego on your own is bad, that the elite must stay in control and society must confirm rigidly.  Those at the top want to freeze everything, nothing must change or fail if its important.   Business wants to literally ‘glue everything in place’.  In the film the creativity of builders is brutally repressed for conformity.   Emmett must believe he is special to become special and so he does and the film pokes fun at this but not enough.  Skills don’t come from simply thinking you have them.  Believe and it happens…leads to the dangerous core of this film.  Emmett is passive and vacant and then someone tells you to be in violent conflict with others, you don’t see your own goals and you do not make your own choices.  Its a bleak and a dangerous message.  ‘Believe you are special but only when we give you the power to attack and destroy’.   It is all troubling.  At the end of the movie there is a cop out of the core drive of the film that brings it to a sudden halt before the appearance of Duplo.

Its a veneer to me because it actually left me feeling cold inside.  This is not the times of my childhood with films like The Goonies, Karate Kid, Short Circuit.  Its a veneer that once pushed through covers the fact that actually we are all like the movie portrays us and perhaps our society now is really rather screwed.  Buy the lego kits, don’t create your own designs but you are awesome and you should create your own designs but don’t since you need to conform.  Some scenes actually put me in mind of adult rated war movies.  No hope in this fantasy world.

Did I look too far into it?  Well maybe but I thought I would put my considerations to virtual paper.

Its a fun movie, its fast and its bright and it pushes buttons.  Go see it.  I don’t want to see it again.

GBS

Why M&M Direct show the worst of people..in my opinion

Have a look at the video above.  If you are lucky enough, in this instance, to not live in the UK you might not have seen this series of adverts.  Each evening at 6pm my family watch an episode of The Simpsons on Channel 4. The latest sponsor of the programme is M&M Direct a catalogue company which delivers clothing and the like to your door.  Why I am posting about this and these adverts?  Well they really, really annoy me.

Advertising is like water off a duck’s back to me normally but these adverts are just wrong on many levels and perhaps I am not a ‘normal’ person and the target audience but they put me off ever placing an order with this company.  See if you can sit through the whole video.  See if you can ignore the ear bursting screaming, the fact that often the parents of the ‘kids’ look the same age as them but mainly the fact that these grown men and women (these are not small children doing the screaming) are just an example of the crassness of the UK modern age.  Old enough to have a job and life of their own, old enough to buy their own clothes but no.   Ask yourself did your parents ever buy you anything because you screamed at them all day?  No..thought not.

As I said this idle muse posting is really just because I wanted to share my annoyance with these adverts but there is one other point.  I know for a fact that these ad’s have been rather successful for M&M Direct.  Why you might ask.  They show horrid spoilt people being lazy.  Well I think its because…many people identify with these adverts and see their own lives in them….shudder.

GBS

50th Anniversary Doctor Who success!

Just a quick posting in reaction to last night’s 50th anniversary celebration of Doctor Who on the BBC.  I know, I don’t do reaction postings but on this occasion I will.   There are many critics and reviews of last night’s programme and the live reaction shows and so on which you can fine elsewhere but here is a link to the wiki page about the special episode.

What did the programme do for me?  I thought it was one of the finest of the new and modern episodes that is first off.  My three children sat glued to it for more than an hour which is testament to its quality.  Leaving aside the plot of the episode which the wiki will tell you I will mention my feelings about it as an event.  A cameo by THE Doctor made my night, Tom Baker, they kept that quiet but my feelings from my post yesterday was justified.   The bringing in out of the cold, finally, of Paul McGann who was short changed as the Doctor and is now official canon.  Lastly bringing Gallifrey back from the DEAD!  Can’t emphasis this one enough.  If my thinking is correct it mean that with Moffat at the helm the time lord will return to his roots in the original version of the universe.

Special surprise after ‘Day of the Doctor’ on the BBC ‘red button’, a one off accompanying short film called ‘The Five’ish Doctors’ starring Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Peter Davidson with many other characters appearing.  Well worth a watch and it beat the frankly cringe worthy after party hosted by Zoe Ball.  Have a look at the trailer below.

Well done BBC!

GBS

50 Years for Who?

Today is the day, across all the multi-verses today is the day.  I have listen to, watched, recorded and sat the dark late at night to see all of the multitude of BBC programmes on TV and Radio to celebrate the 50th Anniversary of Doctor Who.  I could dribble on about the programme and about the books, the gifts and gadgets and the other items across the years that have form a part of my life from this mighty science fiction show.  But I won’t.  I will just say that since I was a wee lad its been a part of me.  I have gone to exhibitions, met the cast, got autographs and that is saying something.  I waited with the rest of my generation through the long 1990’s for it to return and it did in time for my own children.

From the brand new (tonight!) to the very oldest in flickering black and white Dr Who is a programme unlike any other on television.  Its fans and devotees among the best of Humanity (those I have met anyway) and its lore so diverse that it has covered more ground than any other science fiction series.  It has tackled issues wide and far.

Best Doctor….

So tune in tonight and if you are not in Great Britain then I feel sorry for you this time.  License Fee is worth it today!

GBS

Riddick – Film Review

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Fear the Dark…Riddick’s third outing!

I have known Mr Richard Riddick since Pitch Black way back in 2000 when both he and I were quite a bit younger and fitter.  Don’t get me wrong I took my one day off this week and went to the cinema to watch ANYTHING, I just wanted out and about as they say.  So standing in front of the boards looking at what was on at the Odeon only one film jumped out from among the sugar soaked, the digitally cretinous and the British made luvvie fan club and that was Riddick.   As is my way, and you might have guessed, I pay literally no attention to trailers and I don’t read reviews until after I see something so that I can go in fresh with no spoilers.  So tickets were bought (ouch!) and in myself and my good lady went.

Was Riddick any good?  In short yes!  I enjoyed it.

Riddick is a stripped down lean B-Movie of the kind that made Predator and Alien such successes.  Its not on a par with those movies by any means but it has the same narrow focus and small cast with a linear plot structure. It has plenty of action, it has decent special effects.  The characters are all good fun even if their dialogue is of the worst cardboard cut out variety.  Its not trying to be something that it isn’t and this made me happy.  Riddick cracks along at a good pace and it twists and turns often enough not to become boring.  In fact kudos to the film as for really its first third there is no dialogue at all and only the main character on screen as he makes his way on a hostile planet (all non urban planets in this universe are hostile in these movies) aka Robinson Crusoe.  I will not spoil the plot but I will say that the three thirds of Riddick centre around firstly isolation and survival against the wild, secondly the hunt and survival against Humanity and lastly a third of survival against monstrosity.

Special mention must be given to Katee Sackhoff’s breasts which are seen in the film and as a married man I must describe as ‘very nice’ and nothing more but honestly its a naked woman and most of the online commentary about the movie is about this and nothing else.  Which is sad really, its an adult rated action film what do you expect!  Time to offend those who like to be offended me thinks.

Lastly this movie would make a superb series of 15mm or 28mm scale wargame skirmishes so if you are a fan of sci-fi gaming then have a look at it for that reason alone.  The grav bikes are really nice as are the space ship designs and sentry pods and so on.  Good technology for those who like to look at that as well as the naked ladies.

The same lead actor, the same basic plot, the same director.  Riddick goes back to what made Pitch Black excellent and largely succeeds.  Go and see it if you have the time.

GBS

p.s. just remember…someone’s head goes in the box.

Pacific Rim – Review

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Pacific Rim Poster!

Two weeks ago I got the chance to be treated to a showing of Pacific Rim at the Odeon Kilmarnock.  It has taken me some time to get around to posting this review of the film basically because I have been mired in the shallows of the summer school holidays, birthdays, house guests and other things which have slowed me right down on non-essentials (see I do this blogging lark out of love not money!).  But now here we are and the film is still very much on at the cinema so its still relevant.  A full 3D experience in a modern and this time fully functioning cinema (my experience last year with Dredd was interrupted by technical problems in the same cinema)…how was it?

As normal I tried to avoid trailers, adverts and especially reviews of the movie before going and in this I was successful.  Aside from a TV spot and the basic idea I knew nothing and went into it with an open mind.  A mind that was frankly very excited to see the film since I really like giant robots, giant monsters and the whole anime roots and premise of Pacific Rim.  I also really like the films of Guillermo del Toro too and Hellboy as well.  So my mind was looking for comparisons for Pacific Rim and while some people have used Transformers and the 1990’s version of Godzilla they are wrong the true father of Pacific Rim is the seminal Robot Jox from the 1980’s (which you should watch if you like mecha) and it delivered big style.

The giant robots and the monsters were superbly rendered on screen and the action set pieces were at times really tense and nail biting too.  Characters are often a let down in summer blockbusters but not in this case as the cast played off each other brilliantly.  From the names of the ‘Jagers’ to the names of the pilots there was a tongue in cheek humour.  The film had heart and drive while dropping the nod to its source material.  At no point in the cinema did I feel bored or did my attention wander from the screen and while you could have written the ending on a postcard and mailed it from minute one of the performance it did not matter.  In short it is a very good film in its own right before you get to the genre and in terms of the genre it is one of the finest of its kind ever filmed.  Go and see it!

In terms of wargaming there is plenty of scope for giant robots in scales such as 15mm with 1/100th and 1/72nd plastic kits…heck even a few 1/60th if you want really big.  Gives me ideas!

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Pacific Rim Movie book and Pacific Rim Year Zero book

Finally I got a package this morning ordered just after seeing the movie containing the two books that go along with the Pacific Rim film.  Excellent!  Once time allows I will read them and hopefully post a wee look at each of them.

Go see the film!

GBS