Archive for the ‘fantasy’ category

Rampage: ¬†Megafauna Rampant…

April 11, 2018

I’m glad that my cousin, Ralph, finally made it to the big screen!  He always had dreams of going to Hollywood, and deserved it after all those years of parking cars, pumping gas, and hanging out at furry and video game conventions.  It was annoying to him that people would pull at his costume only to discover that it wasn’t one. – – Ahh, his mother would have been so proud of him!  On the other hand, I wasn’t granted Ralph’s athleticism, being only a bookish writer…fortune, thou art a cruel mistress!

I suppose it was inevitable that they’d make a movie loosely based on the vintage video game, Rampage, and starring Dwayne Johnson.  After all, Doom turned out so well!  In the long-ago, I can remember playing the video game, and never doing terribly well…such is the the story of my life!  Anyways, in his latest action film outing, the Rock plays primatologist Davis Okoye who is attempting to intervene on behalf of his albino silverback gorilla, George, the object of a rogue genetic experiment gone awry. – –Tell me about it!  George, Ralph, and other mutant animals grown to enormous size are, well, rampaging through North America, and causing big trouble and general mayhem.  It’s up to Dwayne Johnson and others to find an antidote…

This sci fi/fantasy offering sounds like good brainless fun, and is opening April 13th at a theater near you!  A CGI-heavy movie, it also features Jeffrey Dean Morgan of The Walking Dead, minus his Negan bat, Lucille.  I expect that Ralphie will give a memorable performance, and even if he doesn’t, I’m still proud of the big lug… ūüėČ

“Punished, As A Boy” on “The Terror”

April 10, 2018

To dispense with what the episode title refers to, it appears that when you’re “punished as a boy” on a 19th century British ship, you’re flogged on your bottom rather than on your back, complete with all of your shipmates watching for both pain and humiliation.¬† We do get to see this, unfortunately, complete with blood spattering, agonized grunts from the punished, and the man’s behind resembling raw hamburger following his ordeal.- –¬†Hey, horror isn’t pretty! ¬†

This is grim stuff, but things are getting pretty grim indeed, with the Tuunbaq creature shredding members of the expedition brutally and pretty much at will, leaving some as only bloody smears on the ice, removing part of another’s skull to expose his brain (“It looks like pudding!,” remarks the ship’s surgeon), and tearing two others in half to crudely reassemble their bodies together.¬† The¬†Tuunbaq has also demonstrated that it can move onto¬†the English ships pretty much at will, and escape unscathed.¬† We’re kind of at the stage now that we were in¬†The Thing¬†where the men realize that the alien is inside the camp, and they’re relatively ineffective at countering it.¬† Composure and discipline are beginning to fall apart, just as some of the men’s gums are starting to turn black from lead poisoning brought by their spoiling and badly- packaged tinned food.

I’m not going to go on about the many complexities and layers of character and plot going on in the story, which can be appreciated on a variety of levels; we limit ourselves to just a few paragraphs here.¬† But central to the story and ever growing in importance is the enigmatic and appropriately-named¬†Lady Silence, the Inuit woman whose father was accidently shot by the English in an earlier episode.¬† She was seen engaging in some kind of interaction with the Tuunbaq, perhaps a ritual.¬† Is she¬†controlling¬†the creature, or what is the nature of her relationship with it?¬† Hmmm…we’ll just have to wait and see!

 


“The Crossing;” Quirky But Compelling Television!

April 4, 2018

Immigrants are washing up on our beaches again! ¬†They’re not “boat people,” because they have no boat. ¬†They’re not Cubans or Mexicans, and are not here to steal your jobs, bring crime, or drain the safety net in some Trumpian nightmare. These people are as American as most readers of this blog. They just happen to be from the future, and are seeking sanctuary…

The Crossing¬†is a new, 11-episode series whose debut episode has recently run on the¬†ABC¬†network.¬† Only the pilot episode was made available to reviewers, and not all reviews were favorable.¬† Accordingly, I initially approached this series skeptically and with low expectations.¬† I was really won over by what I saw, however, and think that I could become a fan of the series, which blends elements of dystopian science fiction, the paranormal, and even current-day, real-life social issues.¬† At times, it’s almost reminiscent of¬†X-Files¬†material while promising more episode continuity.


If you find some aspects of the current American and world state disquieting (and I do), you can console yourself with the thought that about 180 years in the future, things are gonna be¬†much worse!¬†¬†At that time, a genetically-enhanced group called¬†APEX¬†with heightened senses and abilities has taken things over, and essentially waged a genocidal war against the rest of us.¬† The details of this conflict are only available to viewers in dribs and drabs, but suffice it to say that things became bad enough in the future that a group of several hundred people took a risky time travel venture back to our present reality.¬† All of the bugs were not worked out, however, with the time travelers not knowing exactly when or where they’d wind up, and in kind of a bad Star Trek transporter incident¬†most of them wind up drowning in the ocean outside of the small Oregon fishing town of Port Canaan.¬† A small group of about 47 souls survived, however, to wash up on the beaches, presenting first local authorities and soon thereafter the Department of Homeland Security with some interesting questions and problems…and we all know that local and federal operatives tend to get into turf wars and clash.

Sheriff Jude Ellis (Steve Zahn) is a central character, as are Reece (Natalie Martinez) and her eight-year-old daughter, Leah (Bailey Skodje).¬† Mother and daughter are separated upon arrival by some distance, and Reece in seeking her daughter demonstrates freaky powers, including abilities reminiscent of¬†The Bionic Woman. – –¬†Is¬†Reece¬†of the¬†APEX¬†group, or otherwise some kind of genetic mutation?¬† Does her daughter¬†Leah¬†likewise have freaky powers, and if so, what are they?

We’ll just have to wait and see, but it’s revealed that an earlier group of time travelers have previously arrived, and some are of the¬†APEX¬†group with desires to change the present in order to shape the future.¬† Resettled into a kind of internment camp, the time travelers also pose an interesting reflection upon current immigration policies and social attitudes.

This quirky show with legs in several genres has promise, and may appeal well to a niche audience or at least generate a cult following. ¬†It’s worth a look, and in my area airs Monday night at ten on the ABC network…

“The Terror” is Coming!

March 19, 2018

I love creepy stuff, and there’s so little of it that’s done really well! ¬†For this reason, I’m really looking forward to The Terror, an upcoming horror series on the AMC network. Based on a novel by Dan Simmons and the ill-fated real life Franklin Expedition, The Terror looks like wonderful stuff indeed. ¬†

Incorporating elements of the movies The Thing with Alien and the rich period atmospherics and fine acting of the Penny Dreadful tv series, The Terror has it all.  It kind of combines a real-life historical event, the Franklin Expedition, with a horror/fantasy overlay. This kind of thing has been done in a lot of sci fi/alternative history fiction, and has lately been seen in films like Abraham Lincoln:  Vampire Hunter.

Now the ill-fated Franklin Expedition was real stuff which was kicked off in 1845 when the HMS Erebus and HMS Terror left England in search of a segment of the Northwest Passage, a kind of 19th century wormhole which it was felt would convey trade to the Orient.  The vessels, advanced for their day, became hopelessly ice-locked in the Canadian Arctic, forcing their crews to abandon ship and walk in search of a settlement.  They faced slow and miserable deaths from exposure, starvation, and lead poisoning caused by their badly-canned food.  All 129 souls on board the ships died from their ordeal.

In the television horror drama, the Royal Navy expedition instead of finding the Northwest Passage discovers a cunning, monstrous gothic-style predator who stalks the crew in a game of survival which could impact the region and its indigenous people forever. ¬†For a tale of frozen wastes, sailing ships, and Arctic monsters I’m booking passage on The Terror for sure!


Dragons vs. The Frozen Dead!

August 24, 2017

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Noteworthy: ¬†It was Dragons vs. Zombies ¬†on a recent episode of the HBO series¬†Game of Thrones. ¬†Just when things were looking hopeless for virtuous character Jon Snow and his small band of seasoned fighters under siege by thousands of White Walkers (kind of like frozen dead), it was three great dragons to the rescue, spewing flames and causing the walking dead to combust merrily, a rout and a slaughter. ¬†This is the kind of spectacle that makes for great television, about as good as it gets…

…but wait! ¬†Things take a twist when the demonic leader of the White Walkers is able to peg a lance into one dragon, slaying it and later resurrecting it as a kind of zombie ice dragon ready to do his bidding. ¬†The series finale of Game of Thrones should be truly epic…

Puppy Monkey Baby…

February 21, 2016

Some things nature never intended, and even the mad Dr. Moreau created by H.G. Wells would have shied away from. ¬†The PuppyMonkeyBaby created by Mountain Dew and first airing on Super Bowl 50 is one such thing…

…a CGI mishmash creation, the bizarre/disturbing/hilarious creature melds the head of a pug dog with the body and tail of a monkey and the lower extremities of a human infant. ¬†In the commercial, it enters with the advertised product,¬†dances into the presence of three guys watching television, licks the face of one of them, and dances off again, all the while repeating its own name. ¬†This is to promote Mountain Dew’s Jumpstart, a mix of the drink, juice, and caffeine.

People tend to either love or hate PuppyMonkeyBaby, which may cross the line between cute and horrifying. Perhaps it could be worked into an episode of the X-Files or Mountain Monsters (they probably couldn’t catch it). In the¬†current American presidential election year, the strange and the outrageous have become rather commonplace,however…

The Beasts of “Thrones”

July 26, 2015

 

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There are many reasons to watch HBO’s Game of  Thrones, including the superb acting, the complex plotting and character development, and the rich medieval settings inspired by European history.  Animal life as depicted in the series includes both present day and extinct species as well as fantasy creatures, some of which serve the human characters.  We are shown both dire wolves and dragons, for example, in continuing episodes.   An obedient dire wolf like Ghost can keep you safe from just about any hazard you might encounter in the wilderness, and an army with dragons in service is capable of laying waste to a castle.

Beyond such creature features we are introduced to the concept of a warg or skin-shifter, who is a person capable of slipping mentally into the mind of an animal and dominating that beast, making it do their bidding and seeing through its eyes.  Think mental dominance, kind of like Andy McGee’s character in Firestarter or the Jedi knights of Star Wars, but with an added remote viewing component.  It’s handy, for example, to slip into the mind of a bird for aerial surveys of the enemy’s location, and causing wolves to attack foes is also a useful skill.  Being a warg might be a nice power to have if you can’t actually shapeshift.

All in all, getting into Game of Thrones is a journey worthy of your time if you have any taste for medieval fantasy epics, and you can access past seasons on the “on demand” feature of cable services or pay per episode through Amazon.  I’d recommend starting the series at the beginning and working your way sequentially through to avoid feeling hopelessly confused should you jump in mid-stream.  Author George R.R. Martin’s A Song of Ice and Fire upon which the series is based is also quite a read…