King Lance

This morning I was listening to the Midnight because they’re the best.

For some reason I then felt compelled to Google this scene from Terminator.

Hey – who’s that at the 1-minute mark? It’s Bishop from Aliens! Who is that guy, anyway?

Google.

Hey, he’s been in a lot of stuff. Mostly bit parts, looks like. But hey, as recently as Into the Badlands. Cool. He also did some voice work in the Mass Effect games.

Wait. Hold on a sec.

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Oh snapola – he was the King in the Super Mario Bros. movie!

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Time to go home. This has been a productive day.

-Bushi

bushi

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Worth a Watch: The Babysitter (2017)

Despite my growing fondness for weird tales and Gothic fiction, I’m still not really that much of a “horror fan.” A lot of modern horror movies are too reliant on cheap scares (oh shit something popped out and there was really loud string music!) and also I like being able to sleep at night without dwelling on dark and terrifying alternate realities.

But I do make allowances, particularly for horror movies that some might not even consider real horror. Netflix’s teen horror comedy The Babysitter is such a one. The trailer looked kind of goofy in an Evil Dead kind of way and gave off a sort of late-80’s-early-90’s camp flick vibe.

I gave it a viewing last week and on the Bushi Binary Watch Scale, I give it a 1 for “Watch.” Without saying too much about the plot, it’s able to successfully build and maintain tension while scattering in plenty of humor. While there are certainly a few gaping holes should you make the mistake of taking the story too seriously and there are silly moments, I wouldn’t call it a silly movie.

A word of caution – there’s a bit of dirty language, and that girl-girl make-out scene featured in the trailer does carry on a little bit longer in the film. It doesn’t get much more graphic than that, though, with the exception of a very brief scene with a couple in bed and a rather unsexy handjob apparently going on under the covers.

Aside from that, of course there’s gratuitous blood and violence. But in a fun way.

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Pictured: Bruce Campbell as Ash Williams

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Kaiju commented that it is definitely an homage to classic slasher films like Halloween. Personally I can’t point to any of that, but it did feel like a throwback to growing up in the 80’s and 90’s. The wardrobe and the cultural references were dead-on. There’s even a “hot girl getting in the pool” scene!

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If any of this sounds up your alley and you’ve got a Netflix subscription, go check it out! There are definitely worse ways to spend an hour and a half. Like watching Mazes and Monsters.

Oh, and Bee’s SF Dream Team kind of sucks. Picard is a waste of a slot!

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-Bushi

bushi

Mazes and Monsters

There is a film from 1982 called Mazes and Monsters, starring a young Tom Hanks. What? You’ve never heard of Tom Hanks starring in a fantasy Dungeons and Dragonsy movie? That’s because this isn’t really a fantasy movie, and it isn’t a good movie.

Mazes and Monsters is about a group of college kids who play the titular game. Tom Hanks takes on the role of a transfer student looking to make a new start after becoming too absorbed in M&M to the detriment of his grades. Almost immediately he meets a young (and unconvincing) genius who also happens to be the Dungeon Master Maze Controller for a small group of players on campus. Hanks initially declines, but is eventually pulled in after meeting one of the other players, who happens to be a girl. The fourth member of the group is a hunky blonde dude who apparently can’t find love because nice girls are put off by his good looks.

The movie kind of crawls along. Things happen. There’s an inconsequential romance. The genius MC convinces the group to graduate from tabletop play to LARPing in a dangerous nearby cave.

For some reason Tom Hanks has some kind of psychotic break in the darkness, and he takes on the identity of his “holy man,” Pardieu. Somehow he’s living with this new personality for weeks and his friends don’t really notice anything other than him acting “a little weird.”

Then he disappears. His friends eventually track him down to New York City, where he’s gone to seek “the Great Hall,” some crazy fantasy version of his long lost and probably dead brother. Some punks try to mug him and he knifes one of them, seeing a lizard beast.

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His friends wind up saving him before he takes a dive off one of the Twin Towers, but the film ends on a bleak note. Despite his mother saying that he’s much better, the group discovers that he’s trapped thinking of himself as Pardieu. He tells them that the inn he’s been staying at (his parents’ house) is a good place and asks them to accompany him on an adventure to the dark forest beyond the enchanted lake, just off the family’s property.

So this isn’t a fantasy story of magic and adventure. It’s the story of a stressed out kid who goes crazy and retreats to a game world. Shame. I was hoping for something like Dragonslayer but with Tom Hanks instead of the guy from Ghostbusters 2.

If for some reason you’ve read this and still want to see it, it’s currently on Amazon Prime.

-Bushi

bushi

Fire & Ice and Warcraft 3

Fire & Ice is currently available on Amazon Prime. In case you’re unfamiliar with it, it’s a 1983 fantasy flick animated by none other than Frank Frazetta. If you’re a pulp fan, you probably know who he is. Even if you’re not, you may have seen some of his work:

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So on one hand, Frazetta is awesome. On the other hand, the film was directed by Ralph Bakshi, whose name is also attached to the ill-fated 1978 animated Lord of the Rings film (not to be confused with the excellent Rankin and Bass movies).

I gave F&I a watch, and I have to say it’s okay. It’s not bad, and although Frazetta was a lot more skilled at stills than animation, I loved watching his art here. And that’s basically what the movie was – a vehicle for his art. The story wasn’t great, but it was serviceable in that role.

One thing that struck me – as far as I’m aware no one from Blizzard has cited F&I as an inspiration for pieces of Warcraft 3. But.

I mean come on. Also Frazetta was the master of thick chicks.

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Also Nekron is a gaylord.

-Bushi

bushi

McLintock! and the Minstrel of Gondor

I recently discovered that Amazon Prime’s got a nice little cache of westerns and have been picking through some of the old John Wayne flicks. Yesterday’s lunch break selection was McLintock! – a kind of comedic western about the titular wealthy, but of course manly, cattle baron (Wayne) and his estranged wife (Maureen O’Hara). I was pleasantly surprised to see her in the leading woman’s role. Hadn’t realized the two of them had co-starred in so many films together!

Anyway, there was something familiar about movie’s opening song. It took me a moment, but it was that lead vocalist. Sounds a lot like the vocals from that 1977 animated Rankin and Bass Hobbit production. Well, turns out that’s because it is!

Glenn Yarsbrough, who just passed away last year, had a real nice timbre. Here are a couple of his pieces that I remember fondly, despite not knowing who he was until now.

The Minstrel of Gondor! Not a bad post.

RIP, Minstrel.

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-Bushi

bushi

Rogue Wut

So I finally watched Rogue One because it’s on Netflix and why not. Just a warning up front – I’m going to spoil the hell out of this thing, so if you haven’t seen it yet and don’t want anything “ruined” for you, skip this post!

Now, I didn’t think the movie was bad, per se. The sets were pretty good and the costume design was well done. I didn’t hate the characters as much as I expected I would, and I even felt bad when Almost-Jedi and his buddy Big Gun Guy died.

There was quite a lot to pick apart, though. It’s been done before, but you haven’t had the pleasure of reading my particular nitpicks, so. Here we go, with some of my thoughts as I was watching:

1. The film starts off with blue milk. Oh, this is going to be that kind of film. Oh…

It seems this is what we’re going to get from Star Wars movies now, and we saw it coming in The Force Awakens. We’re going to be served up fan service galore! Since the writers are incapable of coming up with new witticisms and/or the actors aren’t up to delivering them in memorable fashion (instead we get garbage like “Rebellions are built on hope.”) rest assured that you’ll continue to hear “I’ve got a bad feeling about this” at least once or twice in every new film.

The droid did have a few good lines, at least, and I’m glad the writers either resisted the temptation (or it didn’t occur to them) to reuse “Never tell me the odds!”

2. I’m glad to see Mads Mikkelson going more mainstream. I like his work, generally. Still, a genius scientist? What, was the Rock unavailable for the role?

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3. Good to see stormtroopers are still and always will be useless unless deployed in the hundreds and with heavy support.

 

4. Oh good, Mon Mothma. Can’t get enough of her. (?)

This goes back to the fan service bit. While I enjoyed the fact that Red Leader was either the same dude from a New Hope or else looked and sounded really damn close, I didn’t need Mothma and Tarkin to be major characters just because hey I KNOW WHO THEY ARE WOOOOOOO!

 

5. CGI has come a long way, but it’s still not a great tool in the place of real people. It’s true that Peter Cushing cut a pretty ghoulish Tarkin even when he was alive, but in Rogue One it looked like they dug him up and found some necromancer to reanimate his corpse. I found his appearances jarring and not at all natural-looking. Thank God CGI Leia was only on screen for all of 5 seconds.

 

6. The pilot dude who was mind-raped by the tentacle beast – didn’t Saw say the side effect was losing your mind? Meh, whatever! Details!

 

7. Speaking of Saw, he was pretty lame. What a waste of Forest Whitaker.

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8. I thought Felicity Jones actually did a decent job with what she was given. I don’t see the “fish face” thing. Also the film and her character weren’t as “girl power!”-y as all the marketing material led me to believe. True – the part where she beats up a bunch of Stormtroopers with a baton is absurd, but so is the blind monk beating them up with his stick. This just reinforces the fact that Stormtroopers and their cosmetic armor are the worst.

The main problem was really…why should I care about Jyn? Or any of the characters? We got a glimpse of some humanity when she viewed her father’s holo message. Ip Man the blind force monk was likable enough, but neither he nor his companion were really fleshed out all that much. The droid was funny sometimes. The pilot was a dude. Cassian (I seriously didn’t even remember his name – had to look it up) was introduced to us in a very scumbaggy way – getting news from an informant and then murdering him.

The messaging of the film was inconsistent and off-kilter. At first the writers seemed to want to tell us that there are no good guys – just bad guys and less bad guys. But then they seemed to realize they’d lose the audience with a bunch of bland, half-assed miscreants, so they tried to make them somewhat likable. By then, though, half the film had already been wasted.

Cassian and Jyn actually had a little bit of romantic chemistry going at the end of the movie, but by then it was too late and didn’t matter. And the dude didn’t even kiss her as the giant wave of destruction approached to kill them. Lame.

 

9. The ending was forced and stupid. I don’t mean the ending where all the protagonists die – there is actually some argument to be made for that kind of ending, I think, though it’s more compelling when you know and like the characters. I mean the part where a bunch of rebel soldiers play hot potato with the Death Star plans and then the Admiral Ackbar stand-in’s capital ship spits out Princess Leia’s blockade runner.

First off, back on Yavin IV there’s a scene where some peon tells Mon Mothma that there’s a battle going on and Fish Admiral is already on his way. And then we are treated to fan service of R2D2 standing with 3PO as the latter complains about not being informed of military deployment. But they’re supposed to be on the ship! Unless Leia makes a pit stop back on Yavin IV (in which case the rebels would already have the plans by a New Hope), the continuity is messed up! Did no one think of this?

Also, why the hell would Princess Leia, a diplomat and important Rebel leader, be traveling into the thick of battle on the Admiral’s flagship? Not like she’s got anything to contribute.

In conclusion, Rogue One wasn’t terrible, but it wasn’t good (comparatively, anyway). These new Star Wars films just don’t get me excited. There’s a lot going on and a lot of action, but…it just falls flat. Is it just me?

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-Bushi

bushi

 

 

 

MUST READ SFF: Replay, by Ken Grimwood

  • by Gitabushi

It should be no surprise by now that I like books with good stories, good characters, and ideas that challenge me.  Who doesn’t want to be entertained?  But there are so many options for entertainment, so when I read, I want my mind to get a workout.

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This book does that.

To be honest, this book may be generation-locked.  The main character was born in the 1940s, and so is in college in the 1960s, and the culture of the 1960s has an impact on the plot. Growing up in the 1970s myself, I didn’t live 1960s culture…but most of the books I had available growing up were written in the 1960s or early 1970s, and set in the late 1950s and 1960s, so I was familiar with the culture.  For someone who never had to dial a rotary phone or never lived before there was cable TV or microwaves, maybe the book will lack some impact.  I don’t know. If you are one such reader, try it out and let me know.

However, Grimwood does an excellent job capturing the normality of those early times.  The protagonist goes back to his youth, but brings his adult sensibilities with him. And if you can imagine how society has changed just from the introduction of widespread use of the birth control pill, you can imagine how his mature assumptions clash with the culture and society of his youth.

The entire book is written with bedrock-solid descriptions of mainstream life in the United States. It feels real. The characters actions and reactions seem real. The author thinks of aspects I didn’t (and maybe couldn’t) and plays them to the hilt. The result is a book that makes it extremely easy to willingly suspend disbelief. It is easy to get drawn in, to care about the protagonists, what they want to do, and why.

It is also intersting to see things fall apart when the main character gets to experience one of the most common wishes of humankind: “If I knew then what I know now.”  Jeff gets several lifetimes of that wish fulfillment, and it still never turns out like he expects.

From that point of view, the book can be seen as a comfort: you are already doing pretty much the best  you can. More knowledge wouldn’t make your life better, it would just move you along to encounter new problems. Life is life. Stop pining for how things could be different, and start appreciating what you actually have.

In the end, you may get a “Groundhog Day” vibe out of this book, but rest assured: this preceded Groundhog Day by several years.

In fact, I would like to challenge all writers: Take the premise of this book, or Groundhog Day, or Flash Forward, and write your own stories. We have endless takes on zombies, vampires, young adult dystopias. Enough!  These three formats are crying out for additional exploration.

But first, you have to read this. Find it and read it. Let me know if you think I steered you wrong, but I think you’ll love it as much as I did.

Oh, and give me a review of the review. Did it make you want to read the book? If not, what else should I have included to help persuade you?

Replay Radar