Sunday, January 20, 2008

Entertainment

Thankfully The Tonight Show, The Late Show, Daily Show and The Colbert Report have returned to the air, all be it without writers due to the on going writer’s strike. They are my connection back to the United States while I’m down under. I used to make fun of people who only got their news from late night talk shows and in a way I am one of those people now.

Watching them again got me thinking about other movies and shows I’ve been entertained with lately so I thought I would go on about them. It started out as such a little post but somewhere along the way it ballooned up quite a bit. Sorry.

I am Legend
I am LegendI saw I am Legend recently, right after having finished listening to the audio book literally as we were driving to the theater. The book and movie are very different. The book by Richard Matheson was written back in 1954; and although it still holds up quite well, you can feel it's age in some parts. It actually takes place in the distant future of 1976’s. (note: I could have sworn that the book said 1996, but the wiki says '76 so I'll just go along with them.)

There was one part in the movie that stuck out as odd, and I mention it because my friend Drew also noticed it. It leads me to believe there was another story element that may have been cut from the film that delved more into the society of the creatures. The main character appears not only miss it but actually goes out of his way to contradict it.

Now I am also okay with the main character just being wrong and missing the point. It has always bugged me when one of the main characters says “according to my theory yadda yadda” and that’s how things all work out in the end. For example Doc Brown in the Back to the Future movies with his theories on time travel and how if they do this series of things the timeline will fix itself. It comes across as too convenient. I would rather the characters build their theories based on evidence presented as the story unfolds, modifying and honing it as it progresses. When the writers give us the clues as the story goes along it helps pull us into the story by letting us figure it all out along with the characters.

Reading the movie’s wiki right now I see the ending was redone and the first ending was related to what I just mentioned. It was also how I was expecting it to go down as I was watching it.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles
Speaking of one of my favorite story premises, Time Travel, I see that Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles has finally aired. I’ve had the opening 2-parter episode since it was ‘accidentally’ leaked out onto the internet a few months ago. I’m surprised to see that it is getting mixed reactions from fans. I even read on one forum post with somebody complaining about the good terminator saying the “come with me if you want to live” line. Of course it said that! It HAD to say that and if it hadn’t said it, the fans would have stormed the studio!

Don’t you love the way I said “it” instead of “her”? As if there is anybody who doesn’t know by now that Summer Glau is the Terminator. Look at the ad, Summer's robotic torso... Hmm I wonder if she is the... hey NAKED torso! drool.

Sure the 2-part episode is kind of limited and is basically the same story as Terminator 2; but it does everything it has to. It sets the background, introduces the good & bad terminators and brings them all up to date at the end. Yes it introduces even more questions about how the whole time travel thing works; but like I said I like it when things like that aren’t tied up nicely in some stupid “if my theories are correct” crap. I certainly don’t expect that all to be revealed in the first episode.

If you step back and look at the time travel from the perspective of the first two Terminator movies, it was never really nailed down. Skynet sent the terminator back in time to kill Sara Conner before she can give birth to John who in turn sends someone back to stop the terminator. That man then becomes John’s father. So how did John get born the first time… before people in the future started sending things back through time? Which came first, the chicken or the egg?

The second Terminator movie just tells us that destiny isn’t pre-written and that the future isn’t set. We also learn that Skynet was built using technology learned from a piece of the terminator defeated in the first movie. So again which came first? Alternate time lines maybe? We don’t know and I like it that the story can keep building on top of that. By the way, the TV series is ignoring the 3rd and the supposedly upcoming 4th movie. Though with the whole changed and/or alternate time line theories, it could easily fit in without destroying anything. Because of the time travel changing events, the things that take place in those movies don’t happen.

Anyway, I personally loved the first episode and can’t wait to see more. They have said that time travel is going to feature heavly in the show and it isn't going to have the 'terminator of the week' plot. I saw an ad for the show on the side of a bus the other day so I know its coming to Australian TV real soon.

Dexter
Darkly Dreaming DexterI finished watching season one of Dexter and am now listening to Darkly Dreaming Dexter by Jeff Lindsay, which is the first novel of at least three that the TV series is based off of. The first season appears to be based on just the first book and so far there are only minor differences.

Dexter is a blood splatter analyst for the Miami Police. He is also a serial killer but he only kills other killers. That being said it still probably isn't what you are expecting. He knows he a bad man and he doesn't try to justify his killing. He also doesn't feel any remorse, he actually doesn't feel much of anything at all. He is completely disconnected and has to fake being normal. Much of the story is told through his internal dialog which gives it a very interesting perspective. There are flash backs to his childhood where his adopted father,Harry - the cop who found Dexter as locked in blood filled shipping container where he mother was murdered, that helps give you much more of a sense of who Dexter is.

It is really very good and I recommend either the TV series or the novel... or be a wild man like me and do both.

Cloverfield
CloverfieldAnd finally I just got back from seeing Cloverfield. I really like that type of character driven sci-fi story. The entire thing is presented as if it was filmed by the characters using a hand held video camera ala Blair Witch Project. I agree with some critiques that they could have toned down camcorder shake a bit more.

If you haven't seen it yet, I beg you not to let the camera shake thing scare you off because it is solidly on the list of movies that must be seen on the big screen. Also I will give you one warning, it is a movie about the characters told as it happens to them. It is not a movie about the monster. Don't expect an overview of what is going on, how it all started and most importantly how the whole event ended. It starts as a government tape explaining that is a video found at what was once known as Central Park and when the video ends so does the movie.

4 comments:

spyder said...

I highly recommend checking out Dexter season 2 when you can. It's better than the first, and I can't wait for season 3 :D

Joseph B. Hewitt IV said...

I'm almost done with the first book and there is some stuff that was moved around, extended, and changed for the TV series and in my opinion they were changes for the better.

First I think that crunching it down into a 2 hour movie version of the book would have sucked. But by extending it out into twelve 1-hour episodes and focusing on smaller elements of the story they really took it to the next level.

The changes they made to the story aren't major. Its more like they inserted a few new thing to help build the characters and then re-ordered some of the elements to make the story flow better. The series gives all the characters more life and depth while still staying true to the book. Even the police politics is expanded upon in the series.

The whole things feels more like a good editor working with the author rather then what you get with a lot of other book to TV/movie conversions.

I would love to see an interview with the author, Jeff Lindsay, to hear his opinion on the whole book to series process.

Anyway the whole think give me lots of hope for the upcoming TV series: Song of Ice & Fire on HBO and The Diamond Age on Sci-fi that I posted about last January.

MICHAEL said...

I watched Terminator: TSCC the other night when it was on Ch 9.

I found it freaking awesome. Anyway, from my understanding of the terminator movies, the chicken and the egg came at exactly the same time. There was never a 'first time' - it just happened. Terminator 2 just confused things, my view is that the people in the future thought that skynet was created by cyberdyne but in fact they were mistaken - it was created by someone else (the future didn't change at all - the war still happened, but the people fighting it had the wrong information).

The only thing that struck me as odd was that the Summer Glau terminator had some decent social skills and could pass as a human, but after Chromartie (the other terminator) attacked and 'she' revealed herself - the whole social skills etc. just disappeared.

Drew M said...

alternative ending to I am Legend.

http://www.firstshowing.net/2008/03/05/must-watch-i-am-legends-original-ending-this-is-amazing/