Weird, Wrinkled and Wordy

May 27, 2009

Terminator Salvation: What Might Have Been

Filed under: Movies,science fiction — Valorie Hoye @ 1:14 pm

Terminator Salvation seemed to be a good movie, with exciting visuals and action sequences, but the script showed definite signs of major alterations having been done.  It has been widely reported that Christian Bale only agreed to take the role of John Connor once his part in this movie was greatly expanded.  Personally, I think the film without John Connor would have been much better, and I’m going to give some concrete examples below, so beware spoilers.

The key lies in the most compelling characters in the film, Kyle Reese and Marcus Wright.

TerminatorBaleThis film failed to show John Connor actually leading people.  He made a few poignant comments over the radio, but we never saw him in charge of a mission.  His comrades appeared to show deference, but those in command didn’t even respect him.  Why wouldn’t they if he has all of the knowledge passed on by his mother?  Why wasn’t John Connor in charge of the first mission in the desert?  The only explanation I can think of is because the scene was written for Kyle Reese.  Think of how much better a set-up it would have been if this young, resourceful kid had been the only survivor of that mission.

Why was John Connor surprised by the appearance of a humanoid terminator?  The difference between a humanoid machine and one with a heart didn’t justify his reaction.  And since he’s been listening to his mother’s tapes, he should have known what to expect.  So why the surprise?  Perhaps because the scene was written for Kyle Reese.  Imagine if Kyle had come face to face with the true identity of the man who he’d fought beside, and who he obviously looked up to since he copied his phrase about pointing a gun.

Why was the believability stretched so thin during the end sequence in Skynet?  John Connor clearly could not withstand the temperatures of molten metal that close to him.  No amount of good shooting (of which there wasn’t much) would make him a match for the T-800.  The final sequence seems to have been  written for Marcus alone.  A suicide mission into Skynet in order to purge his demons and save Kyle, who had been so devastated to learn he was a machine.  And a classic Terminator on Terminator showdown, where the man accepts the machine within in order to save the day.

My theory is that the original script likely only included John Connor as a voice on the radio that no one met until the end.  I doubt if I will ever see the unaltered script, so I will never know if I’m right.  Just because I spent so much time afterwards  pondering what a better story it might have been doesn’t mean I got extra value for my money.

3 out of 5 stars.

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April 7, 2009

We’re in Control Now

Filed under: Movies,science fiction,Television — Valorie Hoye @ 9:05 am

You can definitely tell it is my generation that is now moving into positions of power in the entertainment industry.

supernaturalJust watched the most recent episode of Supernatural, called “The Monster at the End of This Book.”   Of course, that was the title of one of my favourite books from childhood, a Sesame Street book in which the very loveable and very blue Grover desperately tries to stop the reader from turning the pages because he is so afraid of what waits for him at the end, only to find out it is himself.  The Winchester boys may be a tad younger than myself, but clearly the creative team was reading the same books I did.  It was a clever nod for a show that does “clever” particularly well.   This show is firing on all cylinders and now with BSG gone, it is likely to be my fave as it winds down to a big finish at the end of Season Five.

And of course, one of the true masterpieces of literature from my childhood was Maurice Sendak’s Where the Wild Things Are.  Spike Jonze is making it into a live action movie due out this October, and the trailer is now online, as well as some promotional pictures that tell me the people who made this cherish the source as much as I did.

Can’t wait to see where it goes from here…

July 10, 2008

“True Blood” ought to be delicious

Filed under: science fiction,Television,vampires — Valorie Hoye @ 2:33 pm

I’ve been a fan of the vampire genre since I first cracked open Bram Stoker’s masterpiece, Dracula, in university. Actually, I may have to go back further than that since The Count was my favourite character on Sesame Street. The vampire genre has been with us for a long time and has been tackled from many different angles with many different variations. But no one writes great vampire lit like Charlaine Harris.

I’ll take every chance I get to rave about her Southern Vampire novels and now HBO is making that task so much more fun.

HBO has launched the advertising campaign for True Blood, a television series based on Harris’ work. Anna Paquin will star as Sookie Stackhouse, a beautiful waitress with a unique gift and poor taste in men. Set in a time when Undead Americans have come out of the closet thanks to the development of a synthetic blood substitute, the novels mix adventure, romance and humour into an intoxicating brew. Need another reason to check it out? The show is run by Alan Ball, the man who brought us Six Feet Under.

The viral marketing campaign for new show, which begins September 7th, has taken off, with a variety of websites now running ads for TruBlood, the vampires’ new drink of choice. Gotta love a tag line like “Friends don’t let friends drink friends.”

January 30, 2008

Star Trek diversions

Filed under: Movies,science fiction,Star Trek — Valorie Hoye @ 12:50 pm

Star Trek XIThere seems to be a lot of Star Trek goodness out there these days, with Star Trek: The Tour coming to a city near me in the next while and the buzz starting for Star Trek XI.

It’s the movie buzz that has me intrigued. The man behind Star Trek XI is none other than J J Abrams, who is mainly known for creating such television hits as Lost, Alias and Felicity, but who recently revealed a degree of marketing genius in the promotional campaign for monster flick Cloverfield. And since the buzz created for that movie had so many intriguing viral elements, I thought I would point out what seems to be an interesting yet odd bit of Star Trek viral marketing.

Check out this site, which appears to feature live webcams of the dockyard building a certain new (er…old) spaceship. If you tweak the frequency on each camera, you can bring in a clear picture. Not much there yet, but I’m curious as to why there is a separate site, when the official movie site featuring even more welding footage, is here. Is it just a tease? Or should we be watching this site in the months to come?

We’ll have months to figure it out. Star Trek XI won’t hit theatres until the end of the year.

January 15, 2008

My BSG club turns 1 year old

Filed under: 13th Colony,Battlestar Galactica,BSG,science fiction,Vancouver — Valorie Hoye @ 2:22 pm

One Year LaterIt was one year ago today that I screwed up my courage and started a sci-fi fan club. I’ve been a die-hard science fiction fan since I was very young. I watched Star Trek re-runs on our black & white TV every day they were on. I was enthralled by Star Wars right from that summer in 1977. I read every Asimov book I could find. In the early 90s, I was on the executive of a Star Trek club, holding the post of XO. I’m a Browncoat. But until this date one year ago, I didn’t consider myself truly hard core. But I knew there had to be other fans of Battlestar Galactica in Vancouver (this is where they make the show, for frak’s sake!) and if I was going to find them, I had to start my own club. The 13th Colony was born.

In the last year, the club has accumulated 95 members in 5 countries. We’ve had 14 events. We’ve shot and almost finished editing one “mini-movie.” Through the club and our blog, I’ve met lots of other fans, from all over the world. My little cylon mini-mates (and a couple of ringers) have travelled through Canada, the US, the UK, Europe and Mexico.

Kinda glad I was feeling brave that day one year ago. It’s been a blast. Can’t wait to see what new adventures lie ahead.

October 29, 2007

A new Jekyll and a brilliant Hyde

Filed under: Movies,science fiction — Valorie Hoye @ 3:25 pm

Nesbitt as HydeEvery year at Halloween, I make up my mind to watch something scary on TV. Some years I’m only brave enough to watch Linus wait for the Great Pumpkin to arrive. This year I took a bold step, but I may already have hit my fright limit and we’re still two days out.

Spent six hours watching the very worthwhile Jekyll on Showcase this past weekend, starring James Nesbitt. Originally shown on BBC1 this summer, the miniseries is a delightful new take on the old tale of the curious Dr. Jekyll and his evil counterpart, Mr. Hyde. Nesbitt does a fine job with both characters, but once you’ve seen Hyde, drenched in lion blood and belting out “In the jungle, the mighty jungle, the lion sleeps tonight” as if he were on Broadway, you can’t help but cheer for the bad guy. He is deliciously over the top when indulging his Hyde side, capturing both the menace and the charisma of the original literary character.

The modern twist is that Jekyll is set in 2006, and Dr. Tom Jackman is the reluctant inheritor of his ancestor’s curse. There is a conspiracy with plenty of layers, enough shocks to satisfy and just enough gore to be atmospheric. Through it all, a solid dose of black humour keeps the audience in line.

Besides Nesbitt’s tour de force performance, Gina Bellman is full of substance as the hero/villain’s great love and Denis Lawson (familiar to sci-fi fans as Wedge from the Star Wars movies) is excellent as Peter Syme, a man who could be both a villain and a friend at the same time. Michelle Ryan makes a pre-Bionic Woman appearance as the assistant to both Jekyll and Hyde, helping both keep secrets from each other.

It’s a worthwhile way to spend six hours of your time, and though it may not give you nightmares, it’ll give you pause. Are we supposed to cheer so enthusiastically for the bad guy?

October 11, 2007

Getting Ready to Geek Out

Filed under: 13th Colony,BIFF,Firefly,science fiction,Vancouver — Valorie Hoye @ 2:11 pm

VCON 32I don’t go to science fiction conventions very often, perhaps one a year for a few years in a row, and then nothing for several years. I’ve been to fan-run ‘cons’ and huge, highly commercial ones. I definitely prefer the smaller ones. I think my favourite had to be a Norwescon in Seattle back in the early 1990s when I got to hear Robert Silverberg talk to two dozen eager fans about writing and where I first saw the artwork from James Gurney’s then upcoming book “Dinotopia.”

VCON, Vancouver’s annual sci-fi convention is just over a week away and for the second year in a row I’ll be there promoting one of my various clubs. Last year I ran a table in the Dealer’s Room on behalf of BIFF, the Burrard Inlet Fan Fellowship. Our stuff sold very well and I got to meet and chat with some very cool people, including authors Robert J. Sawyer and Kathy Tyers. But honestly, it was a lot of work and I never even managed to get to any of the panels. I plan to pace myself better this year, but so far it is looking even busier.

I’m hosting a Room Party on the Friday night on behalf of The 13th Colony, Vancouver’s Battlestar Galactica Fan Club. I’ll also be running a Fan Club table to promote that club, as well as the local Firefly/Serenity club and BIFF. I would love to check out the art show, some of the science programming and the filk concert.

It’s not like I don’t indulge my inner geek on a regular basis anyway, but this feels a bit like binge geeking.

August 3, 2007

The Inspiration of Illuminares

Filed under: 13th Colony,science fiction — Valorie Hoye @ 10:05 am

Two shipsOne of my favourite events of the summer is Illuminares, the Festival of Lanterns. Organized each year by the aptly named Public Dreams Society, the event draws 20,000 people to a Vancouver park for the evening. There are a number of creative displays, live music, stilt-walkers and fire breathers. The best part comes after dark. Everyone lights up whatever lanterns they’ve made and parades around the lake. It takes at least an hour for the procession to wind it’s way around. You see everything from dragons and stars to clowns and fish.

Of course, I went with a group of sci-fi fans, so we built spaceship lanterns. “Jediyves” did a great job creating an Imperial Destroyer. The other one in the picture is my own version of a Cylon Raider. For more pics of it, check out the 13th Colony blog.

What I love most about this event is how inspired I feel after it is over. I always want to build something bigger and better for the next year. I know that anything goes. It is such an accessible form of public art that anyone can try it. You don’t have to have special skills or talents. You don’t have to buy expensive materials. You are free to create. It is a wonderfully rare feeling and I wholeheartedly endorse any event that promotes such creativity.

Go out and light up the night.

July 5, 2007

A Worthwhile Who

Filed under: Dr. Who,science fiction,Television — Valorie Hoye @ 1:46 pm

I’m a Doctor Who fan from way back. I was in high school in the 80s when the nearest PBS station south of the border started airing Tom Baker episodes. I loved the character. My mom didn’t like to knit and I was hopeless at it, so those were the only reasons I didn’t end up with my very own overly long multi-coloured scarf to match the ones worn by all my drama club friends.

But until this past weekend, I hadn’t bothered with the new incarnation of Doctor Who, even though the show is a prominent feature of CBC’s prime time schedule. I have caught a few minutes here or there, but never got a good feel for the show. Then a few months ago I happened on the scene from the last part of the last episode of Season Two, when Rose got stuck in a parallel universe and the Doctor (David Tennant) struggled to say goodbye to another companion. That one got me.

This past weekend I saw “The Runaway Bride,” last year’s Christmas Special episode, starring comedienne Catherine Tate as a bride who dematerializes during her walk down the aisle towards her intended groom, only to materialize onboard the TARDIS. I loved the episode. I thought she made a wonderful foil for the Doctor, and I found Tennant equally convincing as both the jovial and goofy Gallifreyan and the grave and dangerous Time Lord, both sides of which are integral to the character. Not surprisingly, Tennant has an impressive theatrical resume, having spent time in the famed RSC. Seems that’s almost a requirement to convincingly do sci-fi on TV, as many of my favourite Star Trek actors have proven.

As die-hard fans already know, yesterday the BBC announced Catherine Tate will reprise her role as Donna and join the series full-time as the Doctor’s newest companion for Season Four.

So I guess I will be programming a new show into my DVDR pretty soon.

On another note: Sorry for the infrequent updates these last few months, both here and at The 13th Colony. I’m off on a well-deserved vacation for a week but shall get back to serious blogging when I return.

Donna and the Doctor

May 28, 2007

The Force Was With Us

Filed under: BIFF,Movies,science fiction,Star Wars — Valorie Hoye @ 2:24 pm

They ate all of the cake. BIFF’s Star Wars party was a success. We had almost thirty people come out to celebrate the 30th anniversary of my all-time favourite movie. Not too shabby. Kathy Tyers read her favourite scene from Balance Point, and described a bit about the story meeting where she pitched the idea that Luke & Mara should have a child. She considers herself a godmother as a result of her successful efforts. Cindy Turner came out to sing three Star Wars filk songs, and I had the tune for “He’s always a Wookie to me…” going through my head for the rest of the weekend.

I made a couple more contributions to the evening, aside from the cakes, including the Top 30 lines of dialogue improved by replacing one word with “pants.” The best of which was “I find your lack of pants disturbing.” I also polled a number of BIFF members for their memories of Star Wars, and got a very interesting picture of the group.

Half of the respondents named Han Solo as their favourite character, but 50% of them thought his name was really Hans. We ranged in age from 6 to 25 when we saw Episode IV: A New Hope for the first time, but more than 20% of us have never seen the movie in a movie theatre. 43% of our group doesn’t own any Star Wars toys, but I managed to single-handedly skew the results since I confessed to owning more than 50.

36% of our favourite Star Wars memories involved being with other fans. 36% related to the movie itself. 22% didn’t have a favourite memory (of which one declared themselves to really be more of a Trekker), and 6% involved an act of action figure vandalism (something about an epic battle in the microwave).

But the best part of the day was when someone at work (who isn’t really a fan but had listening patiently to me chattering all day about how much I was looking forward to the party) ducked into my office as she left and said “Have a good weekend. May the Force be with you!”

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