Saturday, March 21, 2009

Things I learned from Battlestar Galactica.

There's a lot to hate about the Battlestar Galactica finale.There is the fact that a show that is supposed to be Science Fiction somehow sees spiritualism and ludditism as the answer. I mean, are we supposed to accept that this whole thing, the never ending cycle of Cylon/Human warfare, the almost complete destruction of two civilizations is somehow God's plan to build a better human? Am I supposed to believe that 40,000 people would voluntarily agree to give up all their technology and all the good things that come with it (modern medicine, decent shelter, abundant food supply, indoor plumbing) to go back to starving from year to year, fighting their environment for their continued survival and infant mortality rates in the 50% range? All for this vague idea of breaking the cycle? That's a fantasy that could only be concocted by someone living in L.A. 

But worse than all the "breaking the cycle" crap and angels mumbo jumbo is the idea BSG promotes that somehow anything is okay if you do it for Love. Let me illustrate exactly what I'm talking about here.

Athena murders two people over the course of the series, but she does it because of her daughter so she gets a free pass.

Tyrol helps Boomer escape unknowingly making himself an accessory to Hera's kidnapping. He gets a pass because he did it out of Love. 

Tyrol murders Tory causing the extinction of one civilization and the death of who knows how many of his own people in the process. He gets a pass because he did it because of his beloved Callie (who he hated by his own admission and who's illigetimate child he doesn't think twice about dumping on somebody else when he finds out the kid isn't his).

Roslin, who once tried to shoot Starbuck in the face because she thought she might be a Cylon, decides not to let Baltar die (or even stand trial) for his part in the death of billions, because an "angel" tells her to Love her fellow man.

Anders blows Gaeta's leg off. Does it for his wife so its cool.

Col Tigh Knocks up a prisoner. It's cool. He loves her.

Baltar helps engineer the destruction of humanity, follows it up with four years of self serving lies, deception, manipulation and treachery. But he loves Caprica Six so it's cool.

What does everyone else get? What about the people who did what they thought was right or did stupid things just because people do stupid things?

Boomer. Executed.
Gaeta. Executed.
Jammer. Executed.
Racetrack & Skulls. Dead.
Kat. Dead
Crashdown. Executed (by Baltar no less.)

So in the BSG Universe love does conquer all. Just don't fuck up for any other reason or its a bullet in the head and a swim out of the airlock.

Monday, March 16, 2009

Sy? Fy?

Sci-Fi changes its name. Next up a nipple piercing and two tone hair. Take that Mom and Dad! 

I did "Imagine Greater". All I got was Sasquatch Mountain

Can't say I didn't see this coming. Sci Fi pretty said it all it needed to say to Science Fiction fans when it passed on Season five of Farscape to instead fund the production of  Raptor Island and Manticore. Now that the last best hope of the Sci Fi Network is going off the air, it is of course the perfect time to let go and let the blue frozen body sink to the Ocean floor. Good riddance I say. The only thing I'll miss about Sci Fi is the Dadaist convention booth they have at San Diego Comic Con every year.

I do kind of feel bad for the people of Stargate Universe however. I can't imagine the fans of ECW Wrestling and the human rights violation that is Scare Tactics will be much interested in what they have to sell. 

Sci Fi if you ever decide to give up this empty trendy lifestyle and return to Sci Fi Fridays glory I'll be over at FOX's house playing with her toys.

Call me.

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

Scarface's Audience

Apparently, the most popular shirt worn by people getting their mugshots taken are pictures of Tony Montana:

So, what do these people have in contact with their cinematic icon? Like their hero, they aren't very good at being criminals.

This particular post isn't against Scarface. I like the movie quite a bit. What does mystify me about it are the legions of little wanna-be hoodlums who walk around the food court at my local shopping mall, wearing their Tony Montana tee-shirts with pride, as if trying to communicate to me thus:

"I am a gangsta. I am opportunistic, ambitious, and amoral. I reject the societal notion of working full time for modest wages, but I shall instead strike out for fortune outside the realm of contemporary laws and morality."

This is what I read:

"I am a person who chooses to admire a moron with poor self control, no planning skills, and an incestuous streak a mile long."

Let's get the obvious out of the way; Tony Montana is not a very good criminal. He's impulsive, reckless, foolhardy, and dumb enough to get addicted to the very drugs he sells to people. These aspects of his character aren't a mystery, but they're clearly worked into the storyline and inform the character's thought process.

I suppose we're supposed to see these traits as being an exaggeration of the ambition necessary to reach the American Dream(tm) but I don't think the fan base thinks that deep into this stuff. Tony Montana is himself something of an exaggeration. His accent is broad to the level of parody, he behaves like some barbarian thug king, he's childish in his temperament. The point of the movie is that he lives at such an extreme pace he is doomed to flare out into self-destruction.

All this is well and good for a tragic hero. But he's not exactly someone to emulate if you're into the *cough* thug life.

I could go on and on about this, about how successful drug dealers need to be more discreet than he chooses to be, about how you can't chose a life of crime and murder and suddenly balk at the notion of murdering innocent people, how you can't go through life pissing off all your connections, and how gross it is to want to fuck your sister, but the long and the short is that some of these cats walking around wearing Scarface clothing missed the point of their movie.

However, I won't say it to their face. They'd probably kick my ass.

Tuesday, March 3, 2009

Shaky Cam

Dear jerk.

Dear stupid, stupid jerk. Dear the fresh-out-of-film-school pretentious jerk who invented the shaky-cam.

You took my action movies away from me.

Oh, sure, I hear professor elbow patches in the back of the room. I hear him sneer, his lips curling in disgust around his meerschaum pipe. Action movies are not the domain of the superior intellect, he says. They glorify violence, anti-intellectualism, misogyny, and an outdated notion of masculinity. Better to devote, he says whilst contemplating a tryst lately undertaken with his grad student paramour, the mind to pursuits of subtlety and sensitivity. A man can be measured in the things he values. All of which I agree with, but that doesn't stop me watching Lethal Apocalypse Pew Pew Gun Guy number tumpty-tumpty X when it wanders around.

But I digress. Onto the lecture:

Where was I?

Oh, yeah.

Hey jerk. Why did you take away my fight scenes?

Oh, I see. You wanted to put my right in the action. You wanted me to not be a passive viewer but a participant! Well, thank you so much. Now I can't tell what the ducks is going on until the camera stops pirouetting like a Russian ballerina off the wagon and the Square Jawed Reluctant Caucasian Lead turns to the Useless Female and asks if her delicate constitution was offended.

Look, I'll be the first to admit that most of the fight scenes from my childhood look like this:

It's static. You might as well be watching a wild west shootout at Uncle Buck's Discount Western Jamboree. It needed improving, sure. But is this any better?

Come on, man. You had Jeff Imada, JEFF IMADA, probably the best fight choreographer in movies today and you might as well have chucked a rag doll across the screen.

Anytime someone utters "in the center of the action" I die a little inside. I don't want to BE in the center of the action. Pain hurts, death is pretty fucking final, and I'm pretty sure the actual lives of spies/commandos/ninjas/cops (on or off the edge)/soldiers/etc aren't anything like what they're portrayed on the screen. If I get too close to that, it's harder to maintain the fantasy. That's why the remake of Rambo turned me off so much.

Immersion is all fine and dandy when you're doing works of drama or tragedy, when we need to really understand and sympathize with the characters and their struggles. Alls that's needed in action movies is skill and clarity. By your immersion argument, wouldn't it be more immersive to hire some studio thug to beat up the audience every fight scene.

You want to make movies that challenge audiences perceptions of stuff, go be the darling of the indie film circuit. We pay you to make action movies. Shut the FU and do the job, monkey.