The Expanse season 1 [Spoilers]

Image result for the expanse season 1

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Plot: a group of ice haulers from the asteroid belt between Mars and Jupiter go from ship destruction to ship destruction, pinballing themselves into a conspiracy, possibly a web of it, to start an inter-planetary war.

War between?

Mars, Earth and the Belt, which are all probably representative of specific nations on Earth, not sure which ones.

I suppose Earth might be the US, Mars might be China/Asia and the Belters are the entire third world.

Or it might be real world politics simplified into three groups.

Though what does that make Russia?

The OPA [Outer Planetary Alliance]?

Characters:

Holden the unofficial ship captain [Does most of the talking, so much of it that other characters just start looking towards him whenever they need to make a decision]

Naomi the vice captain/possible former OPA operative. Has a British accent, but is not from the usual crop of rich kids e.g. Daisy Ridley, Keira Knightley, Felicity Jones.

Amos the muscular, pragmatic grunt. Not homophobic and at home in sleazy bars cos that’s where he grew up.

Alex the pilot, who flew for Mars and gets a costume out of it in episode 3.

Chrisjen the UN rep who will defend Earth and deliver lines badly at all costs.

Miller the working class cop who has only ever killed one person before episode 8, and about 23 people two episodes later. Continue reading

The Tomb of Ligeia 1964 [thoughts + spoilers]

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Starring: Vincent Price, a possessed cat

Director: Roger Corman [Masque of Red Death]

Screenwriter: Robert Towne [‘Swing Shift’, ‘Mission Impossible 2’, Lloyd Bridges Show]

Plot: A reclusive widow with an aversion to sunlight, who is supposed to be in his 20’s but is instead Vincent Price in his early 50’s, allows an impulsive young woman from a mansion nearby to hang around his own mansion twice before she falls in love with him and they get married. The only problem is the dead wife of the man is buried in the back garden and she’s some kind of Egyptian witch who isn’t fond of sharing her husband with anyone. Her plan; ring a bell very loud and snarl at the new wife when in cat form.

Subplot: an admirer of the young woman tries to use his brain to figure out what’s going on and rescue her from her dangerous + exciting marriage so he can then trap her in a stable and tedious marriage with him. Opening line of Tomb of Ligeia 2? ‘Into the living room and knit me a sweater, sweetheart.’

Sub sub plot: a cat tries to regain control of its brain after being possessed by a dead Egyptian witch, but ultimately fails and is relieved when Vince Price strangles it to death.

Any good?

As with all Corman-Poe-Price films, it’s watchable, though it doesn’t achieve the greatness of The Masque of the Red Death, probably because the main horror comes from a possessed cat.

Possessed cats are neither interesting nor scary. Continue reading

Nirvana in Fire [defies weird translated title to be decent Chinese historical drama]

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Nirvana in Fire [not sure what the Chinese title is, but don’t try directly translating anything from Chinese, you’ll end up with weird results] was the most popular Mainland drama in 2015, even the most popular of the last 10 years if you believe the hype machine, which I didn’t mostly cos the only other Mainland drama I know is the one where Fan Bing Bing became the Empress of China.

What’s it about?

The plot’s hard to layout as there are so many characters [you’ll be lost in the first few episodes. In fact, in Hong Kong most people are still lost after 35 episodes, which has led to terrible ratings and a desperate attempt by TVB to get it over and done with as fast as possible, mainly by showing double episodes on Saturdays and Sundays. It’s all pretty sad as a] it’s a good drama and really not that hard to follow if you pay attention, and b] the average audience for TVB has been revealed to be either braindead or only half-watching.]

Those were long brackets.

Basically, the story’s set around 500AD, I don’t know the official name for this period, but it was after the Three Kingdoms and before the Sui/Tang dynasties, and generally is an underexposed era for historical dramas. Basically, China was split in half [north and south] and those regions were further split into mini-kingdoms. The one in the drama is made-up but they talk about the Wei, which was real, and the other big kingdom at that time was the Jin, either northern or southern, I’m not sure.

I actually like dramas that are set in unfamiliar periods, though to be honest most periods of Chinese history are pretty unfamiliar to me. I know the vague details, but not the specific player names or the majority of main events/rebellions/coups etc.

Nirvana in Fire focuses on a main character, Mei Chengsu, the leader of the Jiangzou Alliance [basically a bunch of criminals, rebels and outlaws, kind of like Mance Rayder and the wildlings in Game of Thrones], who travels to the capital to make an unfavoured prince the next Emperor. He does this through manipulation and meticulous planning, sometimes unbelievably meticulous as every small character seems to be one of his spies and no one else realises it.

Secretly, and this is revealed early on so not really a spoiler, he’s the son of a general who was labelled a traitor by the current Emperor 13 years earlier and massacred.  Actually, the Emperor was just going by what he was told by others, so it’s not completely his fault, and he’s suspicious by nature so he’s not a hard guy to manipulate. Continue reading

Daredevil on TV – season 1 [spoilers]

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A year too late with this, but I watched season 1 of Daredevil and these thoughts came into my head either while watching or afterwards when I probably should’ve been thinking about other things like Cantonese and Dracula 2…

As with most things that can be discussed, the thoughts are mostly problems, but I did like the show overall and respected the writers’ decision to have two hour long scenes of uninterrupted dialogue every episode, even if the dialogue wasn’t always good enough to warrant it.

Rosario Dawson really did take a long time to exit his apartment in

episode 10, didn’t she?

Of all the gangs, the Russians were the first to go

If you’ve ever met a Russian, you’ll know this was ludicrous. They would’ve been hanging on with their fingertips, even if they’d had their hands chopped off.

Russians will do things that no other gangster will, except maybe Mexicans, and can take punishment like no other can

except a scripted TV hero or

John McClane.

I know, I might just be basing this on Eastern Promises and Red Heat and

Russian porn and Running Scared and The Equalizer and…

Actually the only Russians I’ve ever met were a prostitute in HK and an angry dinner lady in Moscow airport and

no, I did not fuck the prostitute

[or the dinner lady] Continue reading

Star Trek Beyond

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It starts with Klingons cos you’ve gotta put them in somewhere and there’s no room in the rest of the film so that’s where they are, in the first seven minutes, and

ZOOM IN

…the Enterprise is flying at warp 10 out of Klingon space, chased by three birds of prey, each one captained by Kang, Koloth and Kur [sic for all 3], and they’re almost out of petrol and their ship’s taken a pummelling and

INT. ENTERPRISE BRIDGE

…it looks like this is it, this is the end before it’s even begun, and the computer confirms it, saying hull integrity at 0%, and Sulu saying, Captain, one more hit and we’re dust, and Kirk looks at Spock and Spock looks at Kirk and McCoy sandwiches himself between both of them and

ZOOM OUT

…the three Klingon ships hang back and wait for the moment to stretch and then when it’s stretched to breaking point, Kang says fire and a torpedo leaves the ship and heads in a zig zag line to the hull of the Enterprise which still has zero integrity and

CLOSE UP – KIRK’S FACE

Kirk waits until the torpedo is almost on top of them or under them then clenches his fist and says

now, Spock!

but it’s no good, Spock is the science officer not the gunner, so

Kirk has to say now, you, and point to

the extra who could be a star in 5 years, but right now is

nothing compared to Chris Pine so

the extra doesn’t speak, he fires

and the deflector shield activates and sends some

green energy at the torpedo and

thanks to Kip Pardue and his 20 years of Physics study

the torpedo is picked up and redirected back at

the Klingon bird of prey and before Kang can

charge up his own deflector shield

the torpedo hits their hull and the ship flips sideways

knocking the other two ships into another part of space

with a planet nearby so there’s some visual

frame of reference and

they don’t explode, cos those guys are canon and

canon never dies, it just sits in the corner

and waits like an elderly racist

for nothing to change

cos if anything changes, we’re all

doomed and

CUT TO – ENTERPRISE BRIDGE

Kirk is looking at the three Klingon ships on the viewscreen and

Spock is standing behind him like a bully’s sidekick and Continue reading

The Haunted Palace // The Pit and the Pendulum [thoughts + spoilers]

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Like all Poe/Corman films, the plots of Haunted Palace and Pit and Pendulum are quite similar. We’ll try the lighter of the two first…

Film: The Haunted Palace

Starring: Vincent Price, Debra Paget, Lon Chaney Jr, a painting of Vincent Price, interchangeable villagers

Setting: An old American palace

Plot: Several women are zombified and impregnated at Vincent Price’s luxurious American palace, but some of the villagers find out and burn him to death. Before he dies, Price borrows the Bush family strategy and vows revenge via a future relative who will look exactly the same as him.

A hundred and something years later, a relative who looks exactly the same as Vincent Price arrives to claim the palace he just inherited. The villagers tell him not to stay there, it’s haunted, it’s remote, it’s draughty etc., but Price defies them and stays there until his evil ancestor starts to possess him [with the help of the butler].

Subplot: The wife of Vincent Price takes one look at the creepy painting above the fireplace and immediately enquires about the nearest Holiday Inn. On hearing that the village has a pub, a graveyard, a smoke machine and that’s it, she tells Vince they should leave anyway, but he says nonsense, the palace is great and will make an excellent sex den.

Sub-sub plot: Interchangeable villagers ignore the lack of jobs/daylight in the village and focus on something more achievable i.e. the persecution and possible burning of Vincent Price.

Subterranean plot: An unknown monster waits in a hole in the basement of the castle. It waits there, in that exact spot because Vincent Price keeps bringing naked women for it to stare up at, just like those old men who stand under the transparent stairs in the Causeway Bay Apple Store. Yup, the old Gods may be ancient and glorious with powers beyond human comprehension, but they’re still base enough to sit and gawp at some extra’s muff.

Notes:

I watched this film the day after I saw The Pit and the Pendulum. And the week after I’d watched the House of Usher.

A lot of these films blur into one, and it’s especially true of The Haunted Palace + The Pit and the Pendulum. Continue reading

Manborg [thoughts + spoilers]

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Title: Manborg

Director: Steven Kostanski

Cast: Matthew Kennedy, Conor Sweeney, Meredith Sweeney, Ludwig Lee, Adam Brooks

Production Company: Astron-6

Plot: A reanimated soldier wakes up in a nightmarish future world where a demon called Count Draculon won. All humans are either enslaved or dead, except two Australians, a treacherous scientist, an Asian martial arts fan and a dubbing artist. It’s up to Manborg to entertain them all for the next 60 minutes.

Subplot: The Baron is feeling things he’s never felt before in places Count Draculon never told him he had. But does the Australian girl feel the same way?

Subplot 2: An amateur martial artist breathes a sigh of relief as he discovers his limited skills are better than anything the bad guys have got and secretly pines for one of the only two women left in the world. Will she overcome typical Hollywood prejudice and accept that Asian men also have sex? Or will she overcome typical Hollywood prejudice and accept that female characters don’t have to fuck a guy by the end of every movie?

Subplot 3: An Australian lout feels positive about things until labels start appearing with words on them. Who put them there? Why are they all in Russian?

Subplot 4: Count Draculon conquers the world and shacks up with Mary Elizabeth Winstead to celebrate good times with buckets full of plum wine. But the party never seems to stop for Draculon, even when Winstead says she’s giving up the booze. Can he get past this or will he drag them both down into the abyss?

Notes:

Manborg is absolutely all over the place.

Seeing the opening five minutes is like seeing that little mermaid statue in Copenhagen and thinking, jesus, this cannot be it.

The dialogue, CGI, and plot is so basic and cheap and…actually, I looked at the running time straight away and if it hadn’t been an hour long I probably would’ve stopped the film right there and then.

But then the CGI kind of grows on you. I can’t explain why or what exactly they’re doing, but it seems to be some kind of method where each shot is of characters moving towards the camera in an action pose and then passing it before moving on to the next one. So, in one of the chase scenes, for example, you’ve got Manborg on a hoverbike zooming from one corner of the shot to the other, then a switch to the bad guys doing the same thing, but at a slightly different angle. Continue reading