Archive for October, 2017

24
Oct
17

It’s Pilot Season – 2017

The Fall 2017 television season is upon us. And that means we’re inundated with the worst the networks have to offer. Each year brings us new series; a few will be great, but most will be unwatchable trash. There’s far too many horrible series out there for me to review them all. So, I’ve decided to watch the three pilots that had the most promotional advertising of this season and review them. Please note, my reviews are not necessarily what I think of the entire series, but simply my thoughts on the pilot episode.

The Orville

Unabashed Star Trek fan Seth MacFarlane’s new series sees him as the captain of an intergalactic vessel charting the galaxy in a comedic fashion. I am absolutely not a fan of MacFarlane’s work. Family Guy is one of the most insipid, vacuous excuses for a TV show of all time. Ted was nothing more than a live-action version of his crassest jokes with no redeeming qualities whatsoever. So, I was not looking forward to this series. On the other hand, I, too, am an unabashed Star Trek fan, and since we haven’t had a Star Trek series on TV in 12 years, I decided this was as close as it was going to get, so I gave it a shot. (Yes, I am aware Star Trek Discovery started this year, but I’m not going to pay for CBS’ shitty streaming service to watch it.)

To my surprise, The Orville wasn’t half-bad. The concept is exactly the same as what you’d find on Star Trek. MacFarlane captains a starship filled with a variety of alien species as they explore the universe. The main gag here is that MacFarlane’s first officer is his ex-wife, whom he hates because she cheated on him. The show presents her as maybe not all that bad, but it’s hard to feel sympathy for her since she’s a cheater. MacFarlane gives a restrained performance, pretty much playing himself and not Peter Griffin. He’s even likable, as he is sensible with the crew and his actions.

The pilot episode features the crew discovering a time-altering device, which is coveted by the deadly alien species, the Krill. They battle it out on land and in space, and use the device to save the day. The writing was pretty solid, the action was serviceable, and the interactions of the crew were believable. But this is a comedy, right? Yeah, there is a hefty helping of comedy, but it doesn’t get so loopy as to take the audience out of the show. They don’t have cut-away gags, and they don’t have any jokes about present-day Earth politics/people. Most of the jokes arise out of the situation, and nothing feels totally out of place. Thankfully, MacFarlane left all his shit jokes for his other projects.

The Orville was much better than I expected, and I plan to check out the next episode. It certainly felt more like Star Trek than the reboot films, and that is definitely a good thing.

Verdict: Average

Continue reading ‘It’s Pilot Season – 2017′

14
Oct
17

Blade Runner 2049: A Sequel Nobody Asked For

Blade Runner 2049 is a sequel that nobody wanted or asked for. The 1982 original was a landmark film that inspired the look and feel of virtually every sci-fi film since. It told a self-contained story, was completely satisfying, and had no need for a continuation. It was also an abysmal failure at the box office, and these are precisely the reasons why there was never a follow-up film. Well, this is a new era in Hollywood where every ancient property, no matter how obscure or irrelevant, gets resurrected for a reboot or sequel. If there is even a remote chance for name recognition, the hacks in charge green-light it for production.

The new film has strengths, but also glaring weaknesses. It is by no means a bad film, but perhaps ill-advised. As a direct sequel, director Denis Villeneuve, captured the look and feel of the universe exactly. It feels just like the original film. The neon nightmare, the crumbling infrastructure juxtaposed with state-of-the-art technology, and the oppressive loneliness are all brought from the original without missing a beat. Without a doubt, it feels like a Blade Runner film. And that is perhaps the sequel’s greatest strength, that the universe is still tangible and plausible, and, most importantly, consistent. The transition between films, despite a 35 year gap in time, is seamless.

Continue reading ‘Blade Runner 2049: A Sequel Nobody Asked For’

08
Oct
17

Movies > Books: Blade Runner

I’m willing to bet a lot of people aren’t aware that seminal sci-fi noir film Blade Runner is based on a novel. The awkwardly titled Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep forms the basis for the 1982 film. The film is a loose-ish interpretation of the book. The two entities are similar, yet different enough to make comparisons difficult. Even so, I’m going to give it a whirl.

Blade Runner is a film I didn’t initially like. I had seen the theatrical cut twice, and wrote it off as a failure. I ignored the international cut and director’s cut, because why would I watch additional cuts of a movie I didn’t like? Then, the final cut came out in 2007, and was much ballyhooed. So much so, that I decided to give the film one more chance. This time, I was blown away. Director Ridley Scott had perfected his dark, futuristic vision. What he had in his head when he filmed it was finally conveyed to the audience without studio tinkering. I liked it so much, I now consider it a masterpiece.

But what about the novel? This, too, I had actually read a long time ago, when I was a teenager, and unable to appreciate the nuances of it. I thought it was a weak-ass sci-fi novel which had been completely overhauled and improved upon in every aspect by the film. Even though I didn’t like the film at that time, I still considered it a vast improvement over the novel. I didn’t give it much thought in the years since. But with the release of the sequel film, Blade Runner 2049, I thought I’d revisit the source material. My intent was to write up what a piece of shit the book was compared to the superior film. But what I found was that the book was surprisingly great, too.

Continue reading ‘Movies > Books: Blade Runner’




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