Monday, April 5, 2010

Jared Reviews Sweet Fanny Adams!

The new Doctor Who is out. I have not seen it.

Remember the times when the presumption would be to have not seen a TV show broadcast hundreds of thousands of miles away, a mere hour or two after the fact? We were used to shows mysteriously not appearing on TV at all, such as Black Books series 3 (for a very recent example) or half the output of The Comic Strip Presents, when the only option to watch Blackadder and The New Statesman was to tune in, bleary eyed to Channel 7 at one in the morning, the 'sexy new time' for comedy that has perservered to make sure Arrested Development has never found an audience in the country outside of complete nerds like me.

We are in a different age now, entertainment travels at the speed of information, which as Terry Pratchett tells us is in fact faster than the speed of light. (Note: this is not actually true) My friend had the new episode. He was relentlessly telling me how good it was, to a degree I wanted him to stop. He told me I would have it, along with the new Ashes to Ashes, Stargate Universe and something else I have forgotten 'soon'. This was at 3:30 yesterday afternoon. It is currently 21 hours later and I do not have it, so there is some discrepancy between our definitions of the term, clearly.

It isn't so much that I'm such a spoilt prick that I can't stand to wait for stuff - in fact I like to ration out my TV shows for as long as possible rather than watch them all in one go - but when the promise is laid out so clearly I get pretty pissed off. It isn't even as if I asked for it - I was happy to wait until I saw him next, since I have borrowed BSG season 1 and Fascape season 1 from him (though Battlestar Galactica seems astonishingly crap going by the first 30 minutes... which seems to be utterly shit soft-core porn filmed on a spinning top)

I mentioned it to mum, see, and so she got excited to the point where she was more disappointed than me to the point we ended up watching Talons of Weng-Chiang which, surprisingly we don't do too often. Bugger this 'best Doctor ever' nonsense, there's no way he can beat Tom.

Anyway, the point is I HAVE NOTHING TO REVIEW! And I should. I was getting myself psyched to make unhelpfully snarky comments. Well, 'nothing' is a harsh term. I could review, say, the trailers, the wallpapers, Matt Smith's faintly horse-like visage, Amy Pond's arse, the rest of Children of Earth or the inordinate number of films I've watched recently (Green Zone, Moon, Superbad, Irreversible, Black Hawk Down) or the overrated dross that is True Blood.

Seriously - is there a running theme going through the world? People rave about a show, and I watch it to find it's a load of shit where people are constantly angrily bitching at one another and fucking with some tangential sci-fi references? The TB pilot was nothing but 'cute chick can read minds and falls in love with a vampire. Meanwhile soft-core sex scenes happen around her a lot'. People wonder why I like Blakes 7 - because it isn't that shit, that's why!

Anyway, let's pick something at random for me to rant about...

The Terminator

When people heard I had not seen this film in high school they were horrified. Which I found very funny because, hey, it's a fucking movie. The idea that not actually realising why occassionally some mental defective in my presence would grunt "Da Termunatah - bekoz I told ya too!" could possibly serve as a hindrance in my life was truly odd, yet these were the same people who were vehemently hostile at my refusal to watch Big Brother. Ironically, when they set out to prove how out of touch this made me all they did was ask me questions about the people in the house. Not only was this flawed, as, say, Sarah Marie (remember her?) glutinous having an extra maximus doesn't really equate to Robert Mugabe's presidency on terms of gravitas but furthermore I got every question right, because of the ludicrous media over-saturation. I never set out to know ANYTHING about BB, but rather absorbed by an unwilling and unhappy osmosis.

Much the same happened with Terminator's plotline. Who doesn't know the names John and Sarah Connor, T-800, T-1000, all that bullshit which is apparently one of the 'cleverest sci-fi plots out there' if you believe the drivellous shit I read on the IMDB.

I should perhaps qualify that my fellow students offered a qualification - 'not so much the first one, but Terminator 2.' I now understand why they said this... because The Terminator is complete balls.

The thing that amazed me about this film, as some teenager who is not even a shadow of the talent of Paddy Kingsland, mucks about on his synth while a shiny, naked Schwarzenegger strides up to some guys in home-made Mad Max costumes bizarrely fighting one another over the change to use a coin-operated telescope is that this is the type of film that rightfully belongs on a screen in front of Mike Nelson, Tom Servo and Crow T. Robot. MST3K fodder at its finest, or worst depending on your point of view.

None of the dozens of eager glimpses into the nightmarish machine future are even briefly convincing - a series of Micro Machines are moved by strings through a Warhammer 40K gaming table. The sci-fi plot is clumsy, and imparted entirely through vast swathes of exposition that don't recieve the response they should from the characters, and there's similarly ham-fisted 'foreshadowing' - "Don't worry, in a hundred years nobody will care!" says Sarah's far-too-dumb-to-live fellow waitress, expressing a saying that has never ever existed.

Yes, the film is cheap - 6.5 million according to Wiki. But that is more expensive than any Doctor Who made in the 80s so why the hell can't it look as good as any Davison story? And I am serious. The people who mock the wobbling sets need to have a look at the pitiful cubicle the two cardboard cut-out detectives use, who complain about the small crowd scenes need to look at the way any other staff in the station only materialise when they need to get killed gruesomely, and at the aforementioned miniature shots hovering at just-above Robot level of sophistication, and the outrageously unconvincing stop-motion of the Terminator's tiresomely relentless 'exo-skeleton'. I guess all that money went into the one-and-a-half chase scenes and the exploding petrol tanker - money well spent? I'm not convinced when we have moustachioed dudes in bib and braces that look like they're from Super Mario Bros at best or a late 70s porno at worst.

Oh, and I forgot about that damned electric puppet-head of Arnie they use when he cuts his eye out. You though Zaphod's head in the Hitchhiker's TV series didn't look life-like? That was the fucking Beeb! What's these guy's excuse??? Especially seeing as this is a fucking effect you could have achieved much better with a little bit of prosthetics!

On the brightside, I understand so many parodies of brain-dead action movies - this was the type of thing they were talking about. Films completely unconcerned with any grasp on reality. On one of the few occassions were we see more than 2 extras in the police station there is media throng chasing the hero detective - bizarrely they are doing this in the heart of the offices, the type of area media would need a pass to do so and there are no policemen anywhere to even chaperone them. Thankfully, even though they have trespassed so far they are deterred at having a door closed in their collective faces and presumably hang around outside the door long enough for the D. to make a press conference right outside.

Similar oddity with Sarah's aforementioned retarded friend making a giant platter of sandwhiches for some sort of midnight post-coital banquet, she seems to carry to allow the plate to smash dramatically when her boyfriend is killed along with the walkman she uses to keep herself in complete ignorance of everything. Plus the usual minor details such as nobody remembering Schwarzenegger shooting up a bar, off-the-shelf Uzi submachine guns, and apparently unlimited ammunition in Rees' shotgun.

Plus a lethal cocktail of shithouse dialogue with some abhorrent acting from people I can only assume speak English as a 1.5th language. The policeman early on who is asked what the date is and responds "Tuesday. March. 26th." like a robot kept back in remedial class is an early highlight... this film becomes quite impossible to take seriously.

Ironically, the acting was probably the one saving grace in the three leads. Linda Hamilton just manages to turn a hackneyed damsel role with stilted dialogue into something halfway interesting and heroic, Michael Beihn is both vulnerable and strong and sympathetic as Rees and a strong counterpoint to the relentless killing machine, and Arnie is Arnie, which is just what the role requires. More films should have had him as an emotionless creature that stands around looking badass, as anything more truly stretches his capabilities.

Aside from that the film was mostly a comedy to me, with the final punchline being the kid from The Three Amigos showing up at the end, much to the bemusement of my fellow viewers who were not versed with that particular classic.

The film did make me put enough thought for how the hell Kyle Rees could possibly have not known for sure he wasn't John Connor's father, a twist that was hellza-easy to see coming...

REES: Man, it sure is lonely out here on Death Machine patrol. I'm glad John gave us all these hot photos of Sarah Connor.
SOLDIER 1: Say what?
REES: You know, those Sarah Connors pics he gave us... where's yours?
SOLDIER 2: Man, he didn't give us shit!
REES: Really?
SOLDIER 3: Yeah I didn't get no photo.
SOLDIER 4: Me niether.
REES: Wow.... am I the only guy?
SOLDIER 1: Looks that way.
REES: Isn't that fucking weird?
SOLDIER 3: It is weird.
SOLDIER 4: Pretty fucking weird...
(Pause)
REES: Am I meant to share the photo around, is that my job?
SOLDIER 3: So her tits are out in the photo?
REES: No... it's just she's a chick, you know. Why else would he give me a photo of her?


And so forth and so one.


After The Terminator had been shown the host declared that after seeing that film he HAD to put the second one on. I have to say, being an actually genuinely watchable film, Terminator 2 was quite dull for me to watch. I left before the end and didn't regard this as any sort of a big deal.

1 comment:

Youth of Australia said...

Dear me, I sympathize with every single part of this post. I only saw Terminator relatively recently late one night, and probably the only good bits were

a) the complete lack of free will and predeterminism
b) the amazing ability for Arnie to be so robotic that when he's burning metal skeleton it's like he's suddenly had an acting class

The whole thing kinda stretched my brain slightly. Didn't Skynet or whatever WOTAN's bastard offspring was called, noticed there's a giant freaking robot that turned up nine months before its arch enemy was born and laid waste to downtown LA? It would be so freaking amusing if one of those random Sarah Connors shot dead happened to be crucial to the creation of the computer apocalypse.

And it always struck me that... I dunno his name, Connor Jr, was a complete prick to his dad. Sure puts Rose's "Yeah, Donna about you dying..." manipulation in context.

To be honest the best thing about Terminator is the Mr. Hell skit that was inspired by it...

"Sarah Connor, your son will one day run the human resistance to free mankind from the rise of the computers!"
"What shall I do in the meantime?"
"Work for me!"
"Where?"
"At McDonalds!"