Friday, June 27, 2008


Tremendous. Pixar knocks it out of the park again. (What else is new?)

It's a bold film. It asks more of the viewer than any other Pixar film has, probably more than most young kids have to give. It's gotta be a good hour in before you get any real exchanges of dialogue, or characters beyond the two robots.

The tone is consistently bright, and comedic, and sweetly romantic but everywhere (in the first half) the background is apocalytic. The earth and everything on it is dead (except for the last cockroach, who is Wall-E's little pet), and the film isn't shy about pointing the finger at the culprit: us. The audience. And our SUV/Cosco culture of mega-consumption, all gloriously brought to life in the second half, which is Vegas on a starship. Or Battlestar if it was set entirely on the luxury liner. Thousands of our descendants have survived, all so fat they're confined to floating hover-lounges. They're waiting for the sign that they can go home--plant life returning to the Earth. And while they wait, they're living entirely disposable, fast food, trashy, mediafocused pop culture lives. ("Red is the new Blue." Dozens of identical outfits shift from blue to red. Heh.) They've learned nothing in 700 years, but they might be about to get a new beginning.

They even have an army of AI robot slaves performing all the labor, some of which rebel while others discover their essential "humanity." Though the rebellion is less Cylon, more Hal 9000.

The romance at the heart of the story is sweet and plucky. The boy robot is an affable but lonely nerd, a slob who idolizes Hello Dolly. (His only tape... I think it's a Betamax.) The girl robot is a sharp, polished professional, all no nonsense, quick to shoot stuff. She's on a mission so she doesn't have time for him ... at first.
Oh, and it opens with a short, which I love. (I keep hoping to see that revived on a wider scale.) And it was very good, a slapstick magic act starring a hungry bunny who wars with a cross magician over a carrot. :) It was much better than the short that preceded Ratatouille (though I also liked that one).

Thursday, June 26, 2008

Who's Grand Finale (SPOILERS)

So... people who are watching Dr Who on the Sci-Fi schedule may not want to watch this teaser for Part 1 of Russel T. Davies' two-part grand finale, which airs on Saturday in Britain, but not until two weeks later in the US.

In fact, don't even read on... unless you want to know that the S4 finale is a Dalek invasion featuring... well, everyone who's anyone in RTD's Whoniverse.

Captain Jack (and his Torchwood love interests, Ianto and Gwen)... check. Martha Jones (and her family, and her UNIT buddies)... check. Sarah Jane (and her little pinocchio boy... possibly even her "daft robot dog?")... yeppers.

Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister... (We know who you are!!)

And, of course, Rose Tyler, who's been haunting this season. (Her parents and Mickey reportedly also appear, though they are not featured in the teaser.)

Hope it doesn't disappoint. Notice how the less you actually see the (ridiculously unmenacing) Daleks on camera, the more effective they are?

These will be the last regular Who episodes until 2010 when Steven Moffat takes over, though there will be three or four specials (written and produced by Davies, starring Tennant) next year.

Thursday, June 12, 2008

Indy 4 The Way It Could've Been

Frank Darabont's draft is here, and boy, is it good. It's basically the same story as the final film, but done right. Some may recall that, though Spielberg and Ford were ready to commit to this script in 2004,Lucas rejected it... perhaps because he was hell-bent on shoe-horning that damn kid in there. Darabont told him, "You're insane, George." (And the Golden Globe for Stating the Obvious goes to....)

Here's a quick and dirty review of the first 10 pages...

The hot rod across the desert bit happens (with a lizard sunning itself instead of those ridiculous CGI prairie dogs), but it leads almost immediately to reveal Indy watching from a distance, about to enter the Atomic Cafe.

"Damn kids" is the first line. An *excellent* first line. (Already, to me, this is a FAR superior opening and reintroduction of the Indy character than having him removed from the trunk of a car and stand up to retrieve his hat.)

His old buddy Yuri -- the Mac character as a Russian -- exclaims, "American kids, Indy! Having fun! You should try it sometime."

In the diner, a Gogi Grant song Yuri likes is playing. This sets him off. He goes into a stereotypical comic monologue about all the American things he loves (with the twist, of course, that we discover down the road he's actually an enemy agent)... and then he asks Indy what *he* loves.

Indy produces ceramic shards from his nearby Anasazi dig. "This is what I love." He describes the pottery as a match cut moves the action to Indy's nearby dig. Yuri: "Words cannot begin to describe my excitement."

"Yeah, wiseguy? I see you go off everyday and come back empty handed. What are you trying to dig up?"

Yuri deflects: tonight, he's trying to dig up women... that is, if Indy will lend him his truck.

Indy: "Knock yourself out."

Yuri turns serious, says how good it was to bump into Indy, and how grateful he is Indy shared his camp "these past many weeks." He's signed onto a big job overseas. Expedition foreman. "You know how it is. Adventure calls."

Indy: "Well, enjoy it for me."

Yuri: "It no longer calls you?"

Indy: "Nyet. Not me, pal."

Yuri: "You're not the same man I knew all those years ago, my friend, before the war. Back then, adventure had a name."

They share a wistful smile.

It's dusk. The truck pulls out. Indy hikes up a ridge, contemplating a native american flute. Sometime later, he sees a dust trail tear-assing across the desert. "Damn kids." He pulls out his binoculars.

It's not the kids. It's his truck... and it meets another. Yuri climbs out, greets his comrades. New decals are applied, turning the truck into a military vehicle...

The vehicles head off together.

Indy pulls out a map, traces his finger left to: "Restricted Military Test Site."

Indy gazes up after the departing vehicles. Boy, does he *not* want any part of this.

Indy: Aw, nuts.

In camp, moments later, Indy spurs his horse and gallops off down the mountain path...


I haven't finished the script yet, but among the highlights: no Irina Spalko... no Mutt... Marion is actually Marion (and of course, Indy is *actually* Indy). And cameos from Henry Jones and Sallah.

Wednesday, June 11, 2008

Huskies & Bears--Who Knew?

Say it with me, please: awwwwww....

Tuesday, June 10, 2008

Battlestar 4X09: The Hub written by Jane Espenson

Finally watched this ep and was suitably impressed.

Roslin's turnaround was masterful, mostly due to Mary McDonnell's fantastic performance. She's holding on to life by her fingernails. I was gratified to see her get her chance to take Baltar out, but even more gratified -- and surprised -- that she ultimately elected not to go through with it. It would've been satisfying either way, but I was happy to see that she still possesses a soul. (Clearly, that surprised her as well. "About time," indeed.)

Loved the very Espenson-ian line, "if you're my subconscious, you're a little full of myself."

But Baltar remains the most engrossing character this season (possibly in every season, but I'd have to go back and re-watch). His transformation is absolutely genuine -- why else would he confess his greatest sin to his greatest enemy while she ministered to what could've been a mortal wound? -- and yet, he still remains the serpent in the garden, whispering sweet nothings about slavery into the "ear" of that centurion. Who thinks *that's* gonna come back to bite them all in the ass? (Raises hand.)

Another little moment really impressed: D'Anna's reaction on being brought to see Roslin is to go immediately to "Gauis!" I'm glad they remembered, and focused immediately on, that relationship. It's nice to have her back.

Also really liked the music in this ep, though I'm not generally a fan of the show's music.

Monday, June 02, 2008

Battlestar 4X08: Sine Qua Non

J James asks...
I am wondering if you'd post your thoughts on exactly what was going on with Rolo Lampkin on Battlestar Galactica this week?

I must have missed something....

What was in that bag?

What was he talking about?

I saw the cat alive in the same episode.

We saw it, and Romo saw it, but no one else did. Lee actually tripped over the cat's (empty) bowl at one point and exclaimed, "don't you ever feed that thing?!" The cat had died sometime between last season's finale and this episode.

Romo keeping its corpse--and fooling himself into believing the cat was still alive--is an expression of this episode's theme, "sine qua non," which (as he explained to Admiral Adama) is latin for "without which, it cannot be." Everyone has a sine qua non -- The one indispensable ingredient in our lives without which we simply could not continue. This would be especially true for the 35,000 survivors of the colonies, New Caprica, et al.

Admiral Adama's sine qua non is, clearly, Laura Roslin.

Athena's is Hera -- which is why she reacted with terminal force when she thought Natalie might take her away.

Saul's is Ellen--Like Romo's cat, Ellen is dead, but Saul can't let her go. It's all that gets him out of bed in the morning.

This is why Lee's gift of the dog at the end was so meaningful: it gives Romo something to live for. Caprica Six's pregnancy gives Saul something to live for, as well... if he's smart enough to latch onto it, as Admiral Adama advised.

Hope that answers your question. All in all, a really impressive episode that merits repeat viewings.

Sunday, June 01, 2008

Dr Who: Silence in the Library by Steven Moffat

Moffat is so #$&*ing clever you want to smack him. Truly, one of the best episodes they have done... A home-run.

I was so into the ghosting scene that I didn't see what it would turn into... Skeletons in space suits--Great visual. And a communicator that repeats their final thoughts--From the same basket of tricks as "Are you my mummy?" to be sure, but still fresh and wonderfully creepy.

Is the girl the computer core? Maybe her whole "life" as a little girl is The Matrix.

And how great was Alex Kingston? Loved the "compare diaries" bit -- "Have we done Asgard?" Um, no. File for 2010, please. :)

Again, an idea Moffat has explored before -- the Doctor encountering someone who knows him but whom he doesn't yet know... but, again, still fresh and very effective.

So does she know The Doctor in *this* regeneration or not? (Is David Tennant sticking around for the Moffat era or what??) They walked the line on that one. She seems to recognize him -- but does she see *him* and not whatever body he's currently wearing? ("Let me see your eyes... You're so young.")

I'd be thrilled if she turned out to be a timelord, but I'm not sure she needs to be one. (And how can she be Romana if he hasn't met her yet?) I'm content with her as a new character... especially if she's to be a big new presence in The Doctor's life in the Moffat era... sort of his Captain Jack, and a new Rose figure -- a major love interest -- rolled into one?

Donna's death was deliciously foreshadowed. Then again, they foreshadowed Rose's death in Series 2 and failed to go through with it at crunch time. Catherine Tate has said that she is only on board for one series. I'd rather she stick around for a while, even if it's as a guest star--She's been such an reinvigorating presence for the show--But if hey won't have access to her, then I tend to think a glorious flame-out is the way to go.