Archive for the ‘movies’ category

Of Giant Monsters…

May 20, 2020


There’s a special place in my heart for 1950’s horror movies, especially those featuring giant monsters…and it’s hard to think of a better tag line for one than, “This was the day that engulfed the world in terror!”  More than 60 years after its 1957 debut, The Deadly Mantis continues to be entertaining as a high camp classic, more amusing now than horrifying.  The clumsy and dated not-so-special effects of the giant mantis flying are alone worth watching the film for.

In these times of invisible horrors like the coronavirus, it’s so nice to see our fears embodied as something gigantic and readily identifiable that we can shoot artillery at, and direct flame throwers towards; we know that we’re going to win against it at the end.  I doubt, however, that bleach and bright lights would be effective against this thing.  Perhaps we can get a large number of regular praying mantids together, and make one really big one like this that we could threaten murder hornets with.  A Universal Picture creation, one yearns to see the Deadly Mantis locked in mortal combat with some creature from the Toho Studios world…Mothra vs. Mantis has a nice ring to it.  Now that’s entertainment…I’d go bugs over that one!

 

https://youtu.be/G8R9OoQh4q0

 

 

“Cheetah” in “Wonder Woman 1984”

February 14, 2020



I’m really not a big Wonder Woman fan, but have been known to dip into it for the occasional but thrilling glimpses of Cheetah, who together with Catwoman can really pique my interest.  This is not to deny or dismiss the many dazzling vixens that are out there, although cat-women are far more common in film.

It would appear that Cheetah is going to be done right in the Wonder Woman 1984 film, unlike the much-touted felines of Cats, which disappointed and creeped-out many briefly before disappearing into commercial oblivion.  Cheetah (Barbara Ann Minerva) will be played by Kristen Wiig, and the image of her above to the left is fan art rather than an actual image of the CGI creation in the upcoming film.  It’s unclear at this point as to how fully transformed we’ll get to see the formidable Wonder Woman villainess, but hopes are high that the rather sedate, plain-dressing Barbara Minerva will during the course of the film become a were-cheetah, complete with fur and predatory skills.  I’ll certainly be pulling for her in what could be legendary battles with the Amazon…

Wonder Woman 1984 reportedly has an ’80’s vibe, and also pays tribute to the comic book traditions of the series.  While the exact physical depiction and portrayal of the character is being kept under wraps, the film won’t hit theaters until June, at which point the cat will be out of the bag…

 

 

The Guilty Pleasures of “BattleBots”

June 21, 2019

  

Robotic fighters have long been a recurring theme in science fiction, and an object of fascination to males like myself who refused to grow up.  From the Richard Matheson story to its adaptation in the Twilight Zone episode “Steel,” inspiration was drawn for the Hugh Jackman movie, “Real Steel.”  As an enabling step towards realization of those fantasies, we also have airing on The Discovery Channel the BattleBots series, a place where the pugilistic arts meet high technology in an arena of mechanical mayhem.

Now the tone of these different sagas varies greatly, with Steel as shown on The Twilight Zone dark and dystopian, and set in the then-distant future world of…(gasp)…1974!  Good ole Battling Maxo could no longer hold his own against the more advanced models then.  Far more family-friendly was Real Steel, a movie more centered upon the relationship of a father and son than upon the robots themselves.  The weekly BattleBots series is a strange spectacle featuring teams of bright people from around the world who at times don costumes and whoop and yell as they yet intently field weaponized remotely-controlled devices against one another in a containing area.  Their creations, often resembling lawn mowers from hell, inflict damage upon their opponents until an adversary is unable to operate, or time for a match runs out.  Although not choreographed, matches borrow from “over-the-top” traditions of professional wrestling, complete with a ring announcer, commentators, and a whipped-up audience waving signs…

…Now, it might be interesting to see some cross-over action on BattleBots, such as seeing those ‘bots versus a Cylon from Battlestar Galactica, or perhaps a Dalek from Dr. Who.- – That ought to drive up the old ratings!

 

Jonesy’s Tale…

October 24, 2018



In the original 1979 classic science fiction movie Alien, officer Ellen Ripley and the ship’s cat, Jonesy, are the soul survivors of the cargo ship Nostromo when it comes under attack by a vicious predatory life form genetically engineered by another race. Jones the cat is left safely behind in the movie sequel Aliens when his mistress goes off to fight xenomorph hordes with space marines, presumably living out a more mundane existence.  

Ellen Ripley’s strong and resourceful character appears in two sequels to the original movie, with her clone appearing in yet another.  Now the enduring cat gets to tell his own story from the feline perspective in an 80-page illustrated book, Jonesy:  Nine Lives on the Nostromo.  More a graphic novel than a children’s book, the beloved fan-favorite cat in Rory Lucey’s book does not actively work with Ripley to defeat the alien but remains true to his species, displaying normal and at times disconcertingly humorous feline behavior throughout.  

In the movie, Jonesy at times perceives danger before his human shipmates do, a key to his survival in the face of an alpha predator.  In one brief although memorable scene, the crated cat and the alien simply regard one another through the carrier screen, each perhaps possessed of a mutual curiosity about the other before Ripley and the creature resume their fight to the death.  Ripley’s formidable protectiveness extends to the cat in the same way that it would later extend to the child Newt in the movie sequel.

Published earlier this year by Titan Books, Jonesy is a purr-fect find for fans of the series, and cat lovers in general…

 

 

Vintage Sci-Fi Delights, or Nasty Things from Venus…

May 21, 2018


I recently revisited Ray Harryhausen’s 20 Million Miles to Earth, which I first saw as a kid and which hooked me on science fiction for life.  The 1957 black and white film featured Harryhausen’s stop-action creature features, and was filmed in Italy because that was where Harryhausen wanted to vacation.  He wanted the film to be in color, but they didn’t have the budget to do so at the time although a later colorized version was made. The name of the snake-tailed Ymir creature from Venus was not mentioned in the film because they were afraid people would confuse the name with “Emir.”

The film included many memorable scenes such as a fight to the death between the Ymir and an elephant, which traumatized the young me as the elephant lost.  Then there was the grand finale scene which featured a show-down with the creature in the Roman Coliseum; what could be better staging?!

Equally epic was Harryhausen’s stop-action filmed fight with the skeleton army in Jason and the Argonauts.  That one creeped me out as a kid for some time…

 

 

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… 😉

“The Shape of Water” is Extraordinary!

December 7, 2017

It’s being called everything from a sympathetic re-telling of “The Creature from the Black Lagoon” to an origins story for the Abe Sapien character from Hellboy, but by most accounts The Shape of Water is one of the best films that Guillermo del Toro has produced.  

Set circa 1962 during the depths of the Cold War, the fantasy drama concerns the unlikely relationship between a mute female custodian, Elisa,  and an intelligent amphibious humanoid creature torn from South America and kept in a secret government laboratory in Baltimore.  It’s readily believable for any dabbler in government conspiracy theories.  Called “the Asset” by his captors, the being faces exploitation and eventual “harvesting” in order that his biology might be further studied and applied to the space program.  As their relationship deepens, the humble cleaning lady resolves to take action to save a unique individual from captivity and worse…and “the Asset” has additional capabilities of his own…

The film works on many levels, and is rightfully up for numerous awards.  Seeing it might be the best Xmas present that you could give yourself!