Posts tagged “Sci-fi

The Mouse on the Moon / Computer Games


The Mouse on the Moon  -  Front DVD Cover  -  US Release

The natives are growing restless in the tiny country of Grand Fenwick! There’s no indoor plumbing, no money to pay for it and no one’s had a hot bath in ages!  Facing a winter without warm water, the conniving Prime Minister (Ron Moody, “Oliver!”) convinces the U.S. Government to give him a million-dollar grant by promising to use it for Grand Fenwick’s Space Program.  There’s just one pesky problem: Grand Fenwick doesn’t have a space program!  But when a local crackpot professor discovers that the region’s wine makes radical rocket fuel, the little nation determines to blast its way into the space race… and land on the moon before the U.S., Russia or anyone else!  Get ready for a spoof on space travel and political plotting that’s so funny, it’ll have you howling at the moon!  Full of “hilarious slapstick moments” (Boxoffice), this lunar laugh-riot is a “delightful farce” (The Film Daily) that’s out of this world!

1963 –  Certificate: Not Rated  –  British Film
8.5 out of 10

My computer’s graphics card broke last week, which meant I had to buy a new one.  So Cactus World said goodbye to its old Foxconn NVIDIA GeForce 8800 GTS and hello to the Asus NVIDIA GeForce GTX 760, which despite its marginally less impressive name is actually a lot more powerful.  Consequently I can’t afford to eat this month, but if I ever find any time to play games, I’m sure I’ll experience an enhanced level of optical pleasure (and hopefully do a bit better too.)  I have tried it out on one game, “BattleZone II: Combat Commander” and it was very good.  (BZ2 is one of my all-time, favourite games).  The alien scum had no chance.  Then again, BZ2 was released in 1999, so a pencil and paper ought to be able to provide good graphics for it.  BZ2 is one of only nine games I can honestly say I’ve ever managed to play all the way through, (even though I own around 90).  The others are “BattleZone”, “Myst”, “Riven”, “Star Trek: Voyager: Elite Force”, “Star Trek: Borg”, “Star Trek: Starfleet Academy”, “Star Trek: The Next Generation: Klingon Honor Guard” and “The Longest Journey”. I must be the only person who’s still trying to finish “Carmaageddon II: Carpocalypse Now” and “Resident Evil” (as in the first Resident Evil game).  What can I say?  I’m hopeless at computer games and I like to explore the places I visit and not just go around killing everything.  At the rate I’m going I probably won’t even unwrap my pre-ordered copy of “LEGO Batman 3” until around the year 2145.  I think my oldest game is a 1990 ‘big box’ copy of “MegaTraveller 1: The Zhodani Conspiracy”. I haven’t actually got around to playing it yet, but it comes on a number of 5.25” floppy discs.  However, this film is even older than that… and me.

If I’d tried to come up with a list of my favourite films when I was young, this one would have been in it. In fact I’d go as far as to say it’s one of the two films that stick in my mind the most from when I was little.  (The other is “The Great Escape”, mainly because it always seemed to be on the TV every single Christmas.)  When I got older and DVDs came along, it was one of the very first ones I bought and I think the first one I got from Amazon via its US site.  This was back in 1993, when the idea of buying things like that from abroad still seemed a bit risky and weird.  Sadly it’s not been released on Blu-ray yet, so I still have my non-anamorphic flipper disc, with the widescreen version on one side and a horrible pan-and-scan one on the other.  The part where Bernard Cribbins tries to do what looks like The Twist in the café, only to find that the jukebox seemingly just plays music that would be more at home in barrel organ, has become a long-term memory that’s stuck in my mind for many years.  I don’t know why; it’s funny how random things like that happen.  Ed Bishop has a small part in it as an American Astronaut.  (He later went on to become the commander of SHADO (Supreme Headquarters Alien Defence Organization) in “UFO”, where he got to drive around in a cool-looking car and hang out with attractive women in silver hotpants, who wore purple wigs and worked on the Moon.)  With its political satire and caricature of the British Empire, “The Mouse on the Moon” is still pretty funny.  But more importantly it’s part of my childhood.  It reminds me of when I was young, my parents were both alive and life felt far simpler.  A wonderful film.

It doesn’t really have much of a soundtrack. A few bits of incidental music but that’s about it.

Movie Weather Forecast. Nothing to report.  I’d watched it before I decided to record the weather, so I’ve nothing much to say, although anecdotally I think it was pretty good, warm and sunny.

The trailer’s actually quite fun, although it wasn’t easy to find a decent copy online, despite there being one on the DVD itself.

Recommend for politicians, astronauts and twitchers.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment? Grand Fenwick manages to use its locally produced wine to power a space rocket.  I guess that’s pretty badass, although if you ask me it looks even more like a criminal waste of good alcohol.  It must have been an excellent vintage.  Perhaps it’s something for Richard Branson to look into, after the very sad new this week about Virgin Galactic.

The Mouse on the Moon at IMDB (6.5 /10)
The Mouse on the Moon at Wikipedia
The Mouse on the Moon trailer on YouTube

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Cutie Honey / Even More Root Canal Treatment…


Cutie Honey  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK Release

Popular manga comic “Cutie Honey” is brought to life. Honey is an office worker who hides a secret.  Developed by her father, Honey has the ‘I System’ a necklace that allows her to transform into the super hero “Cutie Honey”.  The evil Claw Gang attempt to steal the necklace and “Cutie Honey” must use all of her superpowers to save the world from hate.  With plenty of eye candy and madcap villains, “Cutie Honey” is pure fun and truly wacky entertainment.

2004  –  Certificate: 12  –  Japan
Rating Details: Mildly sexualised posing
9.0 out of 10

It was back to the dentist for me again yesterday, to finish the root canal treatment on a tooth that was started in January.  For over 90 minutes my dentist drilled (as in I could see and smell clouds of smoke rising), filled and generally hacked about inside my tooth.  It’s actually really hard to lie still for that long on your back; (which is something that my many, many lovers could confirm).  Dentists’ chairs aren’t the most comfortable bits of furniture in the world and I was started to get a bit bored too.  There’s only so many times you can count the screws in a light-fitting before you realise that attempting yet another recount is probably not going to yield a more accurate total.  The ‘calming’ classical music playing on the CD kept skipping as well, which really started to bug me after a while.  The injection at the start was really weird.  I felt like it hadn’t really worked, as nothing seemed to go numb.  Normally you lose some of the sensation in the side of your face or lips, but this time I had none of that.  I was expecting the first touch of the drill to feel like it was boring into the centre of my brain or something, but actually it was fine.  Afterwards I had no sensation of the anaesthetic wearing off either. It was like I was just immune to the pain.  Maybe I’m a superhero, with the mental and physical power to control my body’s own pain reflexes?  (Nope, I don’t really believe that either.)  I was starting to think there must be more miles of canals in my tooth than in the whole of Birmingham, when the dentist finally declared she couldn’t do it.  Whatever’s blocking my root canal, it’s defeated the best that modern dentistry can provide.  (Perhaps I should give the Canal & River Trust or Inland Waterways Association a call?)  This was followed by a discussion about what I wanted to do about it.  I say ‘discussion’, but as I still had a mouth full of rubber dams and other weird stuff, I was limited to saying ur urggurggh, guhhh urgghhher; so it was a bit one-sided.  So now I’m the proud owner of a temporary filling, whilst we see how it settles down.  So it looks like there might be a sequel to this horror sometime.  Can’t wait…  This film is about a superhero who has perfect teeth.

I loved this film.  I’ve no idea what demographic the makers were aiming it at, but it was great.  Like a Power Ranger on acid, Cutie Honey (and that must be the worst superhero name ever) deals with the Panther Claw Gang, one by one.  Based on a manga/anime character, the story is some nonsense about saving the world from hate.  As a movie it has many highlights.  The opening 15 minutes are as fun as any opening to any film ever.  It does calm down in the middle a little and the ending is a bit wimpy, but overall it’s an over-the-top mess of action and fun.  I was especially impressed with the Black Claw’s song and dance routine.  When I’m involved in a fight to the death, I always like to start with one of those too.   My copy came in a vivid pink, DVD case.  Don’t think I’ve got many of those.

We see Honey change into her superhero alter-ego a number of times, which comes with a bit of music that wouldn’t be out-of-place in the world’s worst game show.

The trailer is a shambles of colour, noise and imagery.  It’s great.

One cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A beautiful, ginger cat (with a brief speaking part), steals the whole first scene from an otherwise naked (except for bath bubbles) Eriko Sato.

Recommended for police officers, journalists and anyone with an uncle who can invent cool stuff.  Also recommended for criminal gangs that want to fill the world with hate, (you know who you are).  Good for fans of 60’s Batman; not good for fans of Nolan’s Batman.

Top badass moment?  Starring Eriko Sato (Japan’s top swimsuit model).  That’s badass.  Well that bad just about everywhere really.  (Note for ‘old people’: that’s “bad” as in good, not “bad” as in bad).  In any case, any film that carries the BBFC Insight “Mildly Sexualised Posing” has got to be worth watching.

Cutie Honey at IMDB (6.5 / 10)
Cutie Honey at Wikipedia
Cutie Honey trailer at YouTube


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan / Cinematic Perfection


Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK Release Box SetFeeling that the future holds nothing close to what the past once did, Admiral James T. Kirk begins to believe that galloping around the cosmos is a game for the young.  Yet on a routine inspection of the U.S.S. Enterprise, Kirk’s Starfleet career enters a new chapter as a result of his most vengeful nemesis: Khan Noonien Singh, the genetically enhanced conqueror from late 20th-century Earth.  Escaping his forgotten prison, Khan sets his sights on both capturing Project Genesis, a device of god-like power, and the utter destruction of Kirk.

1982  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
10.0 out of 10.0

Yesterday was Wednesday; time for another trip to the dentist.  My dentist (who for some reason reminds me more and more of a vampire each time I see him), seemed in a slightly better mood this week; (I guess he must have had a good feed of virgin’s blood or something).  He still didn’t want to remove my misbehaving wisdom tooth though.  Instead he gave me even more antibiotics.  In this film Khan says to Kirk, “I’ve done far worse than kill you, Admiral.  I’ve hurt you.  And I wish to go on hurting you.”  This time my dentist gave my antibiotics that I’m not supposed to drink alcohol with.  I’m pretty sure I know how Kirk felt about Khan at that moment.  I think my dentist might be into my “utter destruction” too.  It’s just a feeling I have.

When people ask me what my favourite film of all time is, I often say this one. The best sequel ever, I’ve watched it 1,000s of times (poetic licence okay) and can probably quote most of the dialogue, but I still love watching it again.  And I’m probably about to gush a load of insufferable, embarrassing and slightly degrading stuff about it and how it’s affected my life, but I don’t care.  If this movie hadn’t become the success it was, it’s quite likely there’d have been no more Star Trek and basically life as we all know it would be futile and virtually meaningless.  Star Trek gives us meaning and purpose, and this film is probably as close as any of us will get to perfection.  From the awesome first scene, where most of the regular crew appear to get killed, until the final one where someone really does, it’s just one, long, cinematic orgasm.  It’s the sort of film the Borg would enjoy in its search for perfection.  The fact that it was revisited for “Star Trek: Into Darkness” (which was also an amazing movie) just goes to prove how good it really is.  It’s got a great villain and a great (if slightly clumsy looking) space battle in it too.  Made over 30 years old, it’s theme of getting old has become more and more relevant to me with each viewing, as they characters in it haven’t aged a bit but I have; I guess it wasn’t such a big deal when it was first released when I was 19.  I use so, so many out of context quotes from this film in my day-to-day life.  Indeed, I think I’ve probably arranged my life to better fit the film, entirely for this purpose.  So, for example, when I drive about in my car I secretly, (or not so secretly if I’ve got a passenger with me who I don’t feel will think I’ve lost it), when I go from one area to another, ‘borrow’ from Sulu’s words during the Kobayashi Maru scene and say something a bit like, “exiting the Berkshire sector, for the Hampshire sector”.  (Yes, I really do that; in fact it’s become such a habit that I have to actively stop myself doing it if I don’t want to weird anyone out too much.)  When I do my budget forecasts at work I often think that I’m facing my very own Kobayashi Maru test and then find myself quoting Sulu again, “We’re not going to make it, are we?”  In fact my whole life is a “no win scenario”.  And as someone who used to do something quite similar to “exploring strange new worlds” and “galloping around the cosmos”, but is now stuck behind a desk delivering the occasional bit of training, I can totally relate to Kirk when he says the latter “is a game for the young”.  If it didn’t mean I had to go outside when it was cold and wet, I’d follow McCoy’s advice; “Get back your command. Get it back before you really do grow old.”  Sadly I’ve never had anyone say anything like “Commanding a starship is your first, best destiny; anything else is a waste of material” to me.  I guess that means I was as rubbish at what I used to do as what I do now.  Shame really.  I guess I’ll have to steal one of our minibuses from work, go back in time and save the Dodo or something like that; which seems strangely apt.  (But that’s another tale for another Star Trek film.)  And the list goes on and on.  Sad, isn’t it?  And as for the overall story arc of starting the day with a routine bit of work and ending it literally saving the universe from an evil genius with a terrifying weapon; well, that’s not as unusual for me as it might seem.

Is there’s a bigger gap anywhere between a great film and a diabolically bad trailer?  I don’t think so.  OMG, it’s bad!  (Note for young people:  That’s “bad” as in actually bad, not “bad” as in wicked, sick, hot, etc.)

Not only is this film almost perfect, it’s also got an amazing soundtrack; I even bought it on CD and I hardly ever do that.  There’s a bit of music which is used when the Enterprise is first seen in dry dock just prior to launch.  Whenever I’ve start anything epic in my life (which is exceedingly rare), or driven a new vehicle for the first time (also exceedingly rare), that bit of music is my soundtrack to the event.  Imagine the lights coming on, the music booming out and try it yourself, it really works!  (Incidentally, I’ve never really understood why Kirk looks so uncomfortable in this scene.  Whatever Saavik says or does, it’s Sulu that’s actually ‘driving’, so I can’t imagine for a moment he’s just going to go ahead and crash into something if she makes a mistake.)

Recommended for everyone.  Seriously, if you don’t like this film you really need to go see a doctor.

No cats, chainsaws of decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Can I say the whole film?  I guess not, so I’m going to select Kirk’s reprogramming the Kobayashi Maru test so he could beat it.  Is that not the ultimate in thinking outside the box?  (You could set up an entire and very lucrative, senior management training programme around that one.)  It’s just a shame it’s not possible to do it to real-life.  I’d have my Aston Martin by now if it was.  It’s still totally badass though.

Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Wikipedia
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan at Roger Ebert (3.0/4.0)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (the original one)
Star Trek 2: The Wrath of Khan trailer at You Tube (a better one)


The Hunger Games / My Own Hunger Game


The Hunger Games  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseEvery year in the ruins of what was once North America, the Capital of the nation of Panem forces each of its twelve districts to send a teenage boy and girl to compete in the Hunger Games.  Sixteen year-old Katniss Everdeen volunteers in her younger sister’s place and must rely upon her sharp instincts when she’s pitted against highly trained Tributes who have prepared for these Games their entire lives.  If she’s ever to return home to District 12, Katniss must make impossible choices in the arena that weigh survival against humanity and life against love.

2012  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Strong violence and threat
9.0 out of 10

It’s back to the humourless dentist oral surgeon for me this Wednesday.  Not sure what he’s going to say or do.  Perhaps there’ll be a full moon that night and he’ll be resting, or taking the day-off for a lie-in in his coffin.  Actually my wisdom tooth isn’t really hurting anymore, nowhere near enough for me to need pain-killers or anything.  However, I can’t open my mouth much now without my jaw aching, a lot.  In fact I can’t really open it at all.  Whilst this might seem to some around me to be a positive step, it’s really pissing me off.   My ability to eat has reverted to how I imagine I was when I was nine months old, all sloppy food which I then fail to push into my mouth properly, resulting in it ending up everywhere except my stomach.  I may not show it, but inside this is how I feel.  I did initially think this was a film about dentists, but apparently not.

A movie about a dystopian future?  That’s always a good start.  Female hero?  That’s good as well and makes a change too. Woody Harrelson’s in it, playing a character who looks very much how you might expect Kurt Cobain to look now, if he’d sadly not killed himself; somewhat ironically, this version is very much a survivor.  This is an awesome film, even though it’s only a few steps beyond a cross between “Big Brother” and any number of romantic dramas.  In fact the only reason I didn’t think it was even better was that I could sort of tell where some parts of the story that I’m sure must be in the books, weren’t really used in the film.  Not having read any of the latter, that’s not good. But I’m glad someone’s writing popular ‘teen fiction’ that uses this sort of challenging setting for its stories; it’s just a pity it’s a bit buried in this film.  I have to admit I couldn’t really see what Katniss saw in Peeta.  Sure he’s good looking and there’s all that stuff about being thrown together in a crisis, but really, he was a bit boring.  I can well imagine she’d soon get fed up with him.  I thought the make-up crew did a good job on Jennifer Lawrence, making her appear very different from setting to setting.  Then again, there’re so many credited at the end that each of her eyebrows must have had a whole team working on it, etc.  I watched the “Unseen Version” (which kind of isn’t true now).  I certainly enjoyed the extra 3.2 seconds and reinstated blood that had been digitally removed and denied to the sissies that went to see the Certificate 12 version shown in cinemas.  I’m so hardcore.  Anyway, despite it being targeted at a ‘younger audience’, I really enjoyed it and got an emotional buzz from watching it too.  Critically, I actually cared what happened to the main characters.  And let’s not forget that Katniss Everdeen gets her family name from Thomas Hardy’s Bathsheba Everdene, which alone is enough of a reason to recommend this film.

The orchestral score is great but I didn’t much care for the rest.  I guess it was an attempt to give a primitive, combative edge to things, but most of it sounded just like some boring drumming to me.

I really like this trailer.  It makes me want to see the film.

Recommended for sibling sisters, bakers and archers.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A great bit of cat hissing gets the action underway shortly after the start.  Sadly this isn’t utilised further and we just get a couple of hours of reality TV nonsense instead.

Top badass moment? At a key moment, Katness gives two fingers to the watching millions; (actually three but anyway).  A defiant gesture that starts her journey from ‘average teen’ to rebel hero.  There’s no way on Earth that’s not badass.  Sticking it to ‘The Man’ always is.

The Hunger Games at IMDB (7.3/10)
The Hunger Games at Wikipedia
The Hunger Games at Roger Ebert (3/4)
The Hunger Games Trailer
Spoof Trailer for The Hunger Games


Demon Seed / What’s An Emergency?


Demon Seed  -  Front DVD Cover  -  UK ReleaseSusan Harris is alone in the house when, suddenly, doors lock, windows slam shut and the phone stops working.  Susan is trapped by an intruder… but this is no ordinary thug.  Instead, the intruder is a computer named Proteus, an artificial brain that has learned to reason.  And to terrorize.  In “one of her finest, most vulnerable performances” (Danny Peary, “Guide for the Film Fanatic”), Julie Christie plays Susan in this taut techno-thriller based on the Dean Koontz novel.  Packed with suspense, surprise and special effects, “Demon Seed” follows Susan’s desperate attempts to outmaneuver and outthink her captor.  Then Susan learns what Proteus wants: its own child, conceived in her womb and destined for domination.

1977  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details: Moderate sex and violence
6.0 out of 10

My wisdom tooth is getting more and more painful.  :-(  I’m waiting for an ‘emergency’ admission to have it sorted out at the hospital, but it’s been over two weeks now and there’s still no sign of an appointment.  It’s lucky I’ve not been attacked by a chainsaw wielding alien and have all my insides hanging out.  I can’t open my mouth properly so eating has become a rather frustrating experience, although to put a positive spin on it I’m now an expert in flat shaped food.  I’m also losing some weight as I just can’t be bothered with all the effort of cutting things up small enough to eat them.  I feel like I’m trying to feed some poor little baby animal that’s lost its mother in an oil spill or something.  To make matters worse, I went to see the brilliant “Imperial Leisure” last Friday and now have a horrible cold too; and yes, it’s the worst cold anyone’s ever had ever.  I don’t think I’m long for this world…

This is a film about a randy computer that’s got a crush on Julie Christie.  Julie meanwhile has just been dumped by her husband Alex.  Why, for goodness sake?  He’s married to Julie Christie, animal rights campaigner and star of the 1967 version of “Far from the Madding Crowd”.  What was he thinking?  (Although to be fair, her character does come across as about as interesting as amateur golf.)  The irony in all this being, he’s more interested in developing his new computer, Proteus IV, than bothering with her anymore.  And of course it’s Proteus that turns out to have the libido issue.  Ha, what an idiot.  He actually designed and built his own competitor.  For a supposedly intelligent man, that’s an awe inspiringly stupid thing to do.  Even I’ve never managed anything on quite that level.  So leaving her alone in the house, (which in a nod to the future of home automation, Proteus seems to run), the latter tries wooing her.  Now I have a theory about things here.  I personally feel she had the hots for Proteus too.  Being a 70s mainframe computer with remote terminals, the best Proteus can do in terms of shaking his ass, is control a wheelchair with a mechanical arm attached to it.  With this he chases Julie around the house, before catching her and tying her down to a table in the lab in the basement, so he can have kinky sex with her.  (I’ll come onto that bit in a minute.)  So there’s Julie, a fit woman in her own home, a large detached house.  She really couldn’t escape?  Really?  She couldn’t outrun a remote control wheelchair?  Sadly the plot holes are gigantic; she could easily have simply climbed through one and escaped.  We never do get to see how the wheelchair manages to get up and down the stairs either, but anyway, back to the kinky sex.  So, there’s Proteus, the bondage obsessed, dirty old man computer, who’s got the mechanical arm to tie the charming Julie tied down with a few bits of cable, whispering sweet nothings to her about showing her stuff no human’s ever seen before.  (The mind boggles.)  In her defence, after all that flirting with the wheelchair, Julie does seem to realise that things have gone a bit far and perhaps taking a shower in full view of one of Proteus’s camera wasn’t the best thing to have done.  (There really wasn’t anything wrong with her ass either, so don’t tell me all the messing about with it in the bathroom was for any reason other than to access Proteus’s hard drive.)  Anyway, I don’t want to spoil the good stuff, but Julie gets pregnant, just in time for her estranged husband to return and fight what looks suspiciously like a giant D20 “Dungeons and Dragons” dice.  “Demon Seed” is a sci-fi movie, so obviously it’s also got a laser in it and a geeky guy who works in a lab too.  Shortly after this film was released “Star Wars” came along and sci-fi was never the same again.  The End.

Sounding exactly like it’s escaped from a bad, 50s B-Movie, the soundtrack is somehow everything you’d want and then some.

Pompous and faintly ridiculous, the trailer is a great example of how serious science fiction films’ trailers used to be; before “Star Wars”.

Recommended for computer scientists, home automation fanatics and anyone who ‘likes’ their PC/laptop/smartphone just a little too much.

1 decapitation, no cats or chainsaws.  The Dungeons & Dragons dice somehow manages to cut someone’s head off.  Weird.

Top badass moment?  Proteus is one sick puppy.  Nevertheless, he’s also charming, highly intelligent, virile and (I’d imagine) pretty well off too.  In many ways he wouldn’t be a bad catch for someone like Julie Christie.  So I guess the kinky sex just wasn’t for her.  Having a partner that’s not what others expect him/her (or it) to be, is definitely badass.

Demon Seed at IMDB (6.3/ 10)
Demon Seed at Wikipedia
Demon Seed Trailer


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen / Decorating My Kitchen


Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe battle for Earth continues in this action-packed blockbuster from Michael Bay and executive producer Steven Spielberg.  When college-bound Sam Witwicky (Shia LaBeouf) learns the truth about the ancient origins of the Transformers, he must accept his destiny and join Optimus Prime and Bumblebee in their epic battle against the Decepticons, who have returned stronger than ever with a plan to destroy our world.

2009  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
Moderate action, violence, language, sex and drug references
8.0 out of 10

This is going to be boring, sorry, as it’s about decorating; I’ll get to the film later on.  When I moved into where I live now, nearly eight years ago, everything was painted magnolia.  I hate magnolia like I hate the idea of all my limbs suddenly detaching themselves; (well obviously not really, but I’m trying to make a point).  The first thing I did when I moved in was paint nearly everything a different colour; hall white, bathroom blue and white, lounge yellow and green.  For reasons too complex to go into now, (but basically they revolve around me being too poor and lazy), the bedroom and kitchen never got done; and that’s how things have remained ever since.  However, inspired by my washing machine’s recent breakdown (and I still haven’t got around to getting it fixed yet) and the subsequent OH MY GOD horror when confronted with the state of things under and behind the washing machine when I pulled it out from its normal resting place, I’m going to ‘do’ the kitchen.  It’s going to be red and white.  It’s going to be red and white because the kitchen still boasts all it’s original fixtures and fittings and when I pulled all the horrible sticky plastic off everything it’d been stuck on, those are the colours I found underneath.  I hope it doesn’t turn me into a Manchester United fan.  This is an especially weak link, but the big tile cutter I’ve bought, with all its levers, moving parts and things, could well be a robot in disguise…

Ever eaten too much ice cream, cake or sweets?  The big ‘I can rule the world’ sugar hit followed by the comedown?  This film is like that.  Two and a half hours of too-fast-to-work-out-what-the-hell-is-going-on-half-the-time action, followed by the dreadful realisation that you’ve just taken several months off your lifespan by wearing your soul out.  This is a film that’s wrong in so many ways, but if you ignore all of them and just let the stuff that’s going on in front of you batter you senseless, then it’s actually loads of fun.  Enjoy watching what’s basically “Team America: World Police” on steroids.  Marvel at Megan Fox’s enormous, ‘porn star’ lips.  Relish the challenge of working out which fast-moving bundle of scrap metal is which.  To impress your mates with later, memorise Optimus Prime’s “Fate rarely calls upon us at a moment of our choosing” line.  Cheer along at every highly unlikely bit of good fortune that comes our heroes’ ways.  Be amazed that a load of robots that are huge, clumsy, noisy and trash everything they come into contact with, have managed to stay so well hidden for so long.  The highly irritating Sam Witwicky is back, although he’s marginally less irritating this time around, in the same way that a wasp is slightly less irritating than two wasps.  Megan Fox is also here again; (I don’t think her character’s got a name, as she’s Megan Fox in a range of tight shorts, so no one really cares about what her character gets up to).  On an entirely superficial level (which worked for me), the whole movie looks and sounds great.  The special effects are excellent and relentless; whilst it boasts a soundtrack that’s great for pissing off your neighbours.  One thing puzzles me though.  When I was young, Transformers weren’t “Robots in Disguise”.   What they were, were crappy little toys that you quickly lost half the bits for, got annoyed by and soon moved on from.  Who are all these people who’re so into them?  I’ve never met a single one in my life.  When I hear Hasbro, all I can think of are those sticky, disgusting jelly sweets made by Haribo.

Suitably bombastic, the soundtrack does all the things you’d expect it too.  It’s not bad.

The trailer is nearly two and a half minutes long, which means you get to see about 1/60th of the film by watching it.  Lucky you!

Recommended for robots, students and young women with ‘pouty’ lips.  Probably not the best movie for anyone interesting in recruiting new air force or navy pilots; or Egyptians.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  Despite all the ‘good-guys bad-guys’ stuff going on, the sound of a Transformer saying “bollocks” to a door, works for me.  It’s probably the best line in the whole script.

Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at IMDB (6.0 / 10)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at Wikipedia
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at Roger Ebert (1.0 / 5)
Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen at YouTube


Cyborg She / Rubbish MusicMagpie


Cyborg She  -  Front VDV Cover  -  Chinese ReleaseJiro (Keisuke Koide) meets a mystery girl (Haruka Ayase) on his birthday!  One year later, they meet again.  It is a shock to Jiro as she confesses and turns out to be a cyborg from the future that Jiro has sent to him as a present!  Getting along with this mischievous cyborg girl friend, Jiro falls in love but she has no feelings at all.  All of a sudden a disastrous earthquake his Tokyo, the cyborg saves Jiro’s life by sacrificing herself and the ultimate mystery of cyborg is going to be revealed.

2008  –  Certificate IIA  –  Japanese Film
8.5 out of 10

Because I’m a fairly stupid person I sometimes buy DVDs or BDs (Blu-ray discs) that I’ve already got a copy of.  I also occasionally upgrade from a DVD copy of a film or TV series to a BD one, or buy an alternative version because it’s longer or uncut.  This means I gradually accumulate a supply of discs I no longer want.  I used to sell these on eBay, but mostly I can’t be bothered to anymore so just get rid of them via MusicMagpie instead.  The latter doesn’t pay a lot, but it’s quick and easy to dispose of them this way.  Sadly, its home collection service is, (from my first attempt to use the latter), entirely shit.  I waited about at home from 8:00am to 8:00pm on the relevant day for someone to come and collect my parcel, but no one came.  It’s not like I live in an invisible castle floating in the sky, stuck in a parallel reality and out of phase with the regular universe, protected by a high (electrified) fence, a pack of hungry attack dogs and a set of visitor traps that even Indiana Jones would think twice about tackling; I live in a flat with a clearly marked buzzer on the outside wall by the door.  And in a rare bit of good, British urban design, there’s always space outside to park too, without fear of getting a ticket or being clamped.  I e-mailed the company a couple of days ago to find out what the problem was, but I’ve yet to get a reply.

Despite it’s time-travelling, disaster, sci-fi, slapstick, action-movie clothing, this is really a romantic comedy, the sort where nothing else really has any real world consequences outside of the two main characters.  Get caught in the middle of a restaurant shooting?  Big Deal.  Doing your Terminator ‘thing’ in the middle of a busy road junction?  So what?  Your capital city gets destroyed?  Whatever.  It’s another one of those movies that only Japan seems to be able to produce, where this eclectic mixture of genres not only works together but feels entirely normal.  In a damming indictment of our screwed up, star gossip culture, our hero, the nice but exceedingly dull and boring student Jiro, has become a bit of a celebrity in the future.  This is enough for someone to want to travel back in time and meet him.  Or something like that anyway.  The special effects are decent enough and the story is fun in its own way, but it’s a film that gets its kicks from frequently and suddenly changing its mood.  The scene where they travel to Jiro’s home village is really rather touching.  It also has a dance-off scene that’s pretty cool too.  The ending is a bit of muddle, as if the writers were suddenly struggling with how to sort out all the loose ends, but it’s a fab and fun mash-up of a movie, full of little Terminator references and well worth watching.  Haruka Ayase is very cute too; not at all like Arnold Schwarzenegger.

The soundtrack varies from forgettable to okay, with the use of some pop songs filling in the gaps.  J-pop is an interesting beast…

The trailer isn’t bad, although it does underplay the ever-changing mood of the film.  The use of some questionable music over the action probably doesn’t help; then again, maybe it’s very appropriate given the ‘atmospheric turbulence’ of the movie.  For some reason, YouTube has cut the second line off the subtitles; it probably doesn’t make a lot of difference though.

Recommended for dull students, both geeks and nerds, cyborgs (and other artificial life forms) and teachers who like to throw bits of chalk about.  (Does that still happen these days or is chalk now classed as an offensive weapon?)

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  A body does get severed in two though.

Top badass moment?  I’m not sure someone/something that’s programmed to be what’s basically badass can actually then do anything that should count here, which leaves us with wusey Jiro.  Sadly the latter fails to do anything remotely badass for the entire movie, which leaves me with a bit of a constitutional crisis.  I’ll need to consult a solicitor before I’m prepared to comment further.  Raoul, Jiro’s pet cat (not the lizard), puts in a couple of excellent performances; his eating from the dish was especially nuanced and controlled.

Cyborg She at IMDB (7.0 / 10)
Cyborg She at Wikipedia
Cyborg She at YouTube


Gattaca / How a Washing Machine Can Start a Nuclear War


Gattaca  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  German ReleaseIn der nahen High-Tech-Zukunft entscheidet ein Gentest gleich nach der Geburt über das Schicksal der Kinder. Futuristische Biochemie macht es möglich, dass fast alle Eltern sportliche, hochintelligente Superbabies zur Welt bringen.  Vincent aber hat Pech gehabt.  Wegen seiner körperlichen Schwächen wird er nie zur Elite gehören.  Doch er träumt davon, als Gattaca-Pilot die Galaxis zu erforschen. Vincents Freund Jerome hat beste Gene, ein Unfall hat ihn allerdings an den Rollstuhl gefesselt.  Beide tauschen ihre Identität.  Ein äußerst riskanter Plan, denn die strengen Sicherheitskontrollen des perfekt organisierten Polizeistaates sind kaum zu umgehen. Bald hat Vincent die Geheimdienste auf den Fersen …  Ein spannender sci-fi thriller mit beängstigendem Zukunftsszenario.  Ethan Hawke (“Reality Bites”) und Uma Thurman (“Batman & Robin”, “Pulp Fiction”) in einem brandgefährlichen Spiel, das durchaus wahr werden könnte.  (It’s called German.  I’ve got a German copy of the film.)

1997  –  Certificate 12  –  American Film
8.5 out of 10

My washing machine broke down on Christmas Eve.  Well more accurately, it still washes things but it won’t dry them.  Using my amazing engineering skills, I’ve worked out that it’s either a broken thermostat or something to do with the fan.  Unfortunately I can’t be sure, as my skills don’t extend to having the special sort of screwdriver that appears to be needed to open the case where the fan lives.  I think I can hear it spinning but I can’t see the end of the spindle turning, which is a bit confusing.  Few things piss me off more than technology breaking and companies producing things which require a special bit of information (that they make it very hard to find out), or a special tool to fix.  So as you might imagine, this little occurrence has made me incandescent with fury.  The fact it happened at the most inconvenient possible moment of the year has just made things worse.  Really, it’s just as well I’m not the one with ‘my finger on the button’.

In the near future, parents will be able to create a ‘designer baby’ for themselves.  These “Valids” will go on to get all the best jobs, whilst the rest of us do the crappy stuff.  I know this to be true, because even Ernest Borgnine could only get a job as an office cleaner in “Gattaca”, yet a few years ago he was one of the crew of “Airwolf”, the most advanced helicopter ever built.  (It had a good theme tune too.)  Our hero Vincent wants to go into space, but sadly he’s one of the “Invalids”, the rubbish people who got born the normal way.  So starts his quest to beat the system.  I’ve seen a lot of good films over the past month or so and this is yet another.  Within its ‘hard’ sci-fi setting and 1984 overtones, this is a thriller with a great “will he or won’t he make it” right up to the end.  With its murder-crime subplot and some entirely superfluous love interest provided by Uma Thurman, we get to watch Vincent and his mate collecting bottles of blood, hair and other bits of discarded body from the latter; (mainly skin and stuff, we’re not talking about anything too Frankenstein-like here).  It’s a while since I saw a film with so much urine in it too, although to be fair it’s generally all contained in bags or plastic beakers; they’re a bit obsessed with testing at Gattaca.  (It’s the name of the company that does the space launches.)  Things don’t quite go to plan, (even more so if you watch the deleted scenes), someone gets murdered, the police investigate.  It’s just the sort of shit you don’t want to have to put up with when you’re about to diddle your way onto the first manned flight to Titan.  The final scene is really quite powerful and it’s a “proper good film” as they might say up North.

With a great film should come great music and we’re not disappointed here.  A full orchestral score, it’s not used a lot, but when it is things get taken to an extra level.  As an interesting side point, there’s a scene where we see a 12 fingered pianist playing a bit of music that’s actually meant to be impossible for one person to play; (Schubert’s Impromptu No. 3 in G flat Major, with some extra bits).  I find that strangely cool.

I’m not especially keen on this trailer.  It’s sort of okay, but it doesn’t really get across the feel of the film.

Recommended for astronauts, police detectives and the genetically pure.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  It has to be the impossible to play piano performance.  As someone who can barely manage to play “English Country Garden” on the piano with two fingers, am I the only one who finds that whole idea strangely arousing?  Oh, right.  Okay then…  I think I’ve just discovered a new kind of porn.  (Well actually no, as Google gives nearly 52,000 results for “piano porn”.)  Now that really is very weird.

Gattaca at IMDB (7.8 / 10)
Gattaca at Wikipedia
Gattaca At Roger Ebert (3.5 / 5)
Gattaca at YouTube


Alien / Immigration


Alien Anthology  -  Front Blu-ray Cover  -  UK ReleaseThe massive space-tug Nostromo glides silently through space.  Back from the outer reaches of the galaxy, it’s taking its seven-member crew back to Earth.  But when the ship’s computer receives a distress signal from a nearby planetary system, it rouses the crew from their cryo-sleep.  It isn’t until after the Nostromo has landed on a barren planet named LV-426 and three crewmembers have gone out to investigate a huge derelict spacecraft that the signal is deciphered and found to be a warning.  But one crewmember has already experienced a shocking face-to-face encounter with an alien creature while inspecting an egg-shaped pod.  And so the horror begins – a horror which will end the lives of six crewmembers and alter the life of the seventh forever.

1979  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Contains strong language, moderate violence and horror
8.0 out of 10

So anyway, I sat through this entire film convinced I was watching a party political broadcast on behalf of the Conservative Party; one that had chosen to spotlight the Party’s views on immigration.  Why?  1.  Well, for a start it’s called “Alien”, a phrase which seems to sum up a large proportion of everyone the Daily Mail, (which is the propaganda wing of the Party), doesn’t like.  2.  It features a crew of people who are “working hard to get on in life”, before having things suddenly buggered up for them by a nasty alien.  This is obviously a reference to wholesome, law-abiding Middle England British families having to deal with the effects of uncontrolled immigration.  3.  It features a hideous, unstoppable creature that wants what we have and bleeds acid everywhere if you piss it off.  (Well, it’s 45 years since Enoch Powell’s “Rivers of Blood” speech, so I guess you have to up the ante these days.)  This is clearly an allusion to foreigners, especially the billions of people from Bulgaria and Romania who’re poised to ‘invade’ Britain (or more importantly the Tory heartland of the South East of England) on the 1st January 2014.  From what I’ve seen in some of the media recently, I doubt there’ll be anyone left in either of those two countries by the time everyone here goes back to work the following week.  Not that we’ll have jobs anymore, because they’ll all have been taken by them instead, whilst they’re simultaneously signing on the dole, having babies and not learning to speak English.  And Romanians in particular are all just gymnasts, orphans or vampires, so why should they be allowed into the country?  4.  Crewmember Ash turns out to be an android, in the pay of some nefarious organisation, ready to sacrifice everyone to make sure the alien gets back to Earth.  Ash just has to be Vince Cable, working for the Lib Dems.  His dark, evil plan?  To let some foreigners into Britain.  Traitor!  And what does the android turn out to be full of? Nasty, goo-spewing Cables.  Case proved I think.  5.  The movie features a lot of people desperately running and creeping about in dark corridors, with a weird device that uses technobabble to find aliens, until they finally manage to successfully track one down.  To me that sounds a lot like politicians quoting from random surveys and statistics, in an effort to concoct some evidence to support their views.  6.  When they stop worrying about the alien for a few moments, it suddenly explodes out of John Hurt’s chest.  I think that’s self explanatory; give them an inch and they’ll take a mile.  7.  When they actually manage to find the alien, they quickly throw together some sort of bizarre, home-made weapon to try and get rid of it, which is undoubtedly analogous to their hastily thrown together ideas about caps on immigration; badly thought out, probably illegal, unfair and unworkable.  8.  The alien kills everyone off one by one, which is exactly what all foreigners want to do to our way of life.  Indeed, that’s their only reason to exist.  (And let’s not forget that John Hurt was also Doctor Who).  9.  Most things in the film have an alternative,  sexual interpretation, which somehow just comes across as eww.  Ever seen British politicians trying to be cool, attractive, or in-touch?  It’s provides much the same feeling.  10.  The alien is killed, after  just about everything is destroyed, including the whole spaceship.  This is exactly what will happen to the country if the Tories deal with immigration in their way.  Babies and bathwater.  Apparently there’s a party political broadcast on behalf of UKIP somewhere too.  It’s called “Aliens”.

There can’t be much that hasn’t been said or written about this film.  So I’m just going to say it’s essential viewing for anyone interested in cinema.

Most of the music used was composed by Jerry Goldsmith, one of the best film composers ever.  It’s good.  Very good.

Isn’t this a rubbish trailer?  Slow, confusing, and sounding and looking horrible, it makes the film seems about as appealing as snogging a face hugger.

Recommended for aliens, foreigners, politicians and anyone that works on a spaceship.

1 cat, no chainsaws or decapitations.  Despite providing one of the most famous cat characters in all of film history, Jonsey doesn’t even get a mention in the credits.  It must suck sometimes being a cat.

Top badass moment?    Vince Cable giving the rest of the Government shit about its approach to immigration.  No, wait, I’m mixing this film up with a Conservative party political broadcast again.  Malevolent aliens?  Bulgarians?  Romanians?  It’s confusing.  Don’t worry, I’ll check the facts in tomorrow’s Daily Mail.  (Interesting, when I was 16 I’d have probably said the top badass moment heavily featured Sigourney Weaver’s panties.  I must be getting old.)

Alien at IMDB (8.5 / 10)  –  43rd best film ever
Alien at Wikipedia
Alien at Roger Ebert (4.5 / 5)
Alien at YouTube


Godsend / Magnolia Hell


Godsend  -  Front DVDCover  -  UK ReleaseStarring screen legend Robert De Niro, “Godsend” is the story of an eight year old boy named Adam Duncan.  A kind, thoughtful and well-behaved child, he’s the apple of his parent’s eye, until one day he’s knocked down by a car and tragically killed.  With both parents totally grief-stricken, the mysterious Dr Richard Wells (De Niro) offers them another chance of happiness.  He can create a clone of Adam that will be identical to the child they lost.  Nine months later they have their child back.  Identical in every way, it’s like Adam had never left them.  He has his mother’s eyes, his father’s smile, but when he crosses the age at which he died, terrifying things begin to happen.

2004  –  Certificate: 15  –  American Film
Rating Details:  Language: once strong.  Sex/nudity: infrequent moderate.  Violence: infrequent moderate.  Other: moderate horror.
8.0 out of 10

Whilst I have a lot of sympathy for Jean-Paul Sartre’s view that “Hell is other people”, he failed to take into account their surroundings.  After this last week I now know that Hell is less to do with people, or fire and brimstone for that matter; in fact Hell is a large room painted magnolia.  In the same way as the Devil has a variety of different names, such as Satan, Beelzebub, Lucifer, etc, so magnolia disguises it’s presence amongst us as alternatives like light brown, biscuit, white with a touch of brown, beige, mushroom, wheat, taupe, fawn and harvest.  This week we moved our office at work, (or more accurately moved everything in our office to a different building to use as a new office; we didn’t actually dig up the existing one and put it elsewhere).  Moving is a stressful and spirit-sapping experience at the best of times, but when you have to paint every single surface, including the floor (about 500 square metres in all) before you leave, in three days, mostly magnolia, then you come to realise what pain is really all about.  The only respite was repainting the ceiling, doors, door frames, skirting boards and 12 radiators, white.  And painting something white on a white background in a weakly lit area isn’t exactly my idea of a fun day at Alton Towers either.  In fact the only facet of pleasure came from deciding which shade of gray to paint the floor, slate or frigate; and after magnolia, gray is the next worst colour.  I imagine there are more advanced species in the universe that have, in a similar way to smallpox, totally eradicated magnolia and grey from existence.  Magnolia is the distilled essence of evil.  However, for some reason there are many sick-minded and weak-willed individuals who appear to gain a sort of inner peace from using this colour.  Why?  What’s wrong with them?  Appearing initially to be the colour equivalent of elevator music, any close encounter with it soon dispels any pretence it has of being ‘neutral’.  It’s a vile, boring, sick, nauseating abomination, which is as attractive as having a squashed, pregnant cockroach smeared on your mouth; and then some.  And why is it always the cheapest paint you can buy?  The artificial distortion of the paint market in this way is clearly the work of some ungodly power.  If our media had any real balls, it would be investigating this bizarre and unwarranted proliferation of magnolia; it’s destroying lives.  In a similar way, this film is about something that goes against the laws of nature and scared the crap out of me too.

At its core, this is a thriller/horror about a disturbing, eight-year-old skinhead called Adam, who develops a mental illness of some sort.  The reasons for the latter are, unusual.  The rest of its runtime is spent faffing about with his parents and Robert De Niro, as they act and react to what Adam gets up to.  If you analyse the plot too much, you’ll come to the conclusion that some of it doesn’t really make a lot of sense.  Visually it’s not a very exciting film either; it looks a lot like it was ‘made for TV’ with a colour pallet that’s far too much like magnolia for my liking.  However, the acting’s pretty good and the story interesting enough.  The decision of the parents to have a clone of their recently killed son created is worthy of further study.  This part of the film could easily have been the whole story, but because it’s not it does get treated a bit superficially, which is a shame really.  What the movie does do really well is be creepy. I’m sure I aged a few years watching it, which is a somewhat alarming thought.  It’s one of the most unsettling films I’ve watched for quite a while.

The soundtrack is unmemorable, yet works well.  Job done.

Recommended for dodgy doctors, desperate parents, teachers, photographers and eight-year-olds that want to freak their parents out.  And clones of course.

No cats, chainsaws or decapitations.

Top badass moment?  We all know that a good teacher can change someone’s life, but in this film we also learn that it can literally save your own life too.  I sometimes provide training as part of my job and like most things I suck at it.  I’ve never managed to impart a single bit of knowledge to anyone and tying to do so has never saved my life or changed anyone else’s for the better.  So I guess being a good teacher is badass.

Godsend at IMDB (4.7 / 10)

Godsend at Wikipedia

Godsend at YouTube