Wednesday, May 31, 2006
X-Men III: Not Sufficiently Gay (SPOILERS)
Anyway, X-Men: The Last Stand. After movie part the two I left the cinema assuming the third film would bring Jean Grey back (obviously) and deal with Magneto's second attempt to take over the world, leaving a fourth movie to tell the story of The Phoenix, with or without added crunchy Shi'ar goodness. I didn't think they'd try and put both stories into one film, certainly not then on top sprinkle liberally from a 'cure for mutants' storyline.
Anyway, after the last film Magneto is back on the loose and wondering how to topple mankind this time. When Worthington Industries announce a cure for being a mutant he uses this as a means to rally mutants to his cause of overthrowing humanity. Meanwhile Jean Grey is back from the dead and stark bonkers.
What we have is a average-to-middling film. What stops it from being great is that it's too cluttered. The story of Magneto trying to take over the world is a big one, and Jean Grey's is a big emotional one, trying to squish them together robs both of power.
For example, I didn't realise until it was explicitely stated that Jean had killed Scott, the poor guy was a major team player and doesn't get to die on screen. Everyone must have been really pissed off with Cyclops' prima donna attitude as no-one seems to react at all to his apparent death. When Logan and Ororo find Jean's body and race back to the mansion there isn't any mention of "we looked for Scott but there was no sign of him" or "I'm going back up there, he must be somewhere". If the Phoenix is all of Jean's passion why is she so keen on killing her main squeeze? It's rather annoying that Famke Janssen doesn't get much to do for large parts of the film than stand around looking vacant. Although the film makers have gone for the explanation of Phoenix that we got in Mark Millar's Ultimate X-Men series as opposed to the rather complicated continuity nightmare from the main run, we get the positive role model of the first and second movie reduced to 'nasty stuff producer'. After all, why does Jean hang around with Magneto? Does the Phoenix support his actions and intentions? We don't get to find out.
Magneto, excellently played as ever by Sir Ian McKellen, is pleasantly more like his character in X-II than the one dimensional bad guy of X-I. Although still worryingly keen to sacrifice other mutants to further his nefarious schemes he shows true regret over Xavier's demise.
Marvel films still have a problem with fight scenes. While I'm not advocating that every film that involves people fighting hire the same fight team that did The Matrix trilogy the fights here mostly lack zing. As with the first film the fights mainly involve the X-Men being shat upon from a great height. Two few of the fights seem to be done with any real intelligence towards the location or the individuals skills. It's as though the film makers are worried that if the X-Men appear to fight succesfully at any point up to the last rumble it'll make the villains look weak. Instead we get straightforward slugfights, with a few lightning strikes from Storm as well. The only time someone uses their powers intelligently is when Kitty phases Juggernaut into the floor to try and get him stuck.
The special effects look amazing, especially at the climax where Jean appears to be destroying the island and everything on it atom by atom. Watching Wolverine's healing factor battling to keep him in one piece long enough to reach her was slightly queese-inducing. The script is good, Mystique saying she refused to answer to her 'slave name', Wolverine doesn't get to shout "fastball special!" unfortunately but Henry McCoy (who I forgot was Kelsey Grammer until the credits) does mutter "oh my stars and garters!" so my inner x-geek was partially satisfied.
The pacing of the film is just badly off. We start with Magneto, then go off to the return of Jean for about twenty minutes, then it's back to Magneto and he still hasn't really started his plan yet. When Magneto's Army invade the Worthington factory Magneto doesn't get her to do anything, using 'pawns', as he refers to the mutants around him, is all very well but he does have a Queen who could probably take out the human army with little difficulty. When she threatens to stab him with the cure earlier on (at once pointing all viewers to the outcome of Magneto's story) you wonder quite why he wants such a wildcard in his hand at all.
It's not a terrible film, though both the endings of the film (the one before the credits and the one after) suggest that a return to the pre-film three state of affairs wouldn't be too difficult to achieve early in X-IV should it be made. Hopefully if they do they'll simplify things.
Don't Mention ManBearPig!
Yay Al! It's certainly worth hoping that Al doesn't look for an immanent return to US politics or he'll have to give up this unelectorally appealing stance (it's amusing/terrifying that just by being green that enhances how blue he is) and, like Hillary, try to position himself as just not as right wing as the Republicans.
Monday, May 29, 2006
Anyway, back at the ranch of the people who have never read the Bible, they then go on to list a number of reasons why they think Ford are eeeeevil. Ford should point to this part of the page as the AFA handily sum up all the pro-diversity stuff Ford do/have done. It's almost enough to make me want to go and buy a Ford and I don't even drive!
Idle thought: Is that eleven seconds of WaT covered under 'fair use', or is it naughty for them to have it on their server? Just curious...
I am here to eat your spleens!
I must admit I'm not sure exactly why I dislike Ralph, though his insistence on it being pronounced 'Rafe' is a start. I think the way he walks around every film as though he longs to break the fourth wall and shout at the crowd "Look, do you see? I'm acting! I'm an actor!" And those smiles that never reach his eyes, and the tears that never come from those eyes when he's crying.
Apart from him the film is pretty good, though the first forty minutes seem like the weirdest BBC documentary ever about pharmaceutical skullduggery in Africa.
Sterile. Immaculate. Rational. Perfect.
The new Pet Shop Boys album, Fundamental, is fantastic. Their last album, Release, was pretty awful but they seem to have rediscovered what makes them great and also roped in one of their best producers, Trevor Horn. The result is an album that they couldn't have produced any time but now, but which is influenced by where they've been, the orchestral feel of tracks like Left to my Own Devices and their Introspective period, and the more emotional Behaviour era material. The Sodom and Gomorrah Show is one of their most openly joyful gay songs, compared to To Speak is a Sin, You Only Tell Me You Love Me When You're Drunk or even Being Boring. On it I'm With Stupid, sings from inside Blair's head about his relationship with Shrubya:
Is stupid really stupid
or a different kind of smart?
Do we really have a relationship
so special in your heart?
While Integral takes on New Labour about ID Cards:
If you've done nothing wrong
you've got nothing to fear
If you've something to hide
you shouldn't even be here
But do me a favour. Listen to Luna Park and tell me whether I'm just imagining the theme to Button Moon is hidden in there.
(And for those keeping score, yet another album I'm buying after BitTorrenting it first...)
Turn that frown upside down!
Sorry, I'm in that kind of mood today.
Sunday, May 28, 2006
Saturday, May 27, 2006
Blair, meanwhile, has been hanging out in the U.S. again and looking fantastically uncomfortable next to Shrubya. When a British reporter asked him whether this would be the last time he stood beside the Chimp that walks like a man as Prime Minister he didn't seem to reply. Then the President asked him if he could buy him dinner and they left. Which just goes to show what a cheap date the United Kingdom is. All those dead troops, all those dead Iraqis, our international standing in the toilet and what has Blair got out of it? A Happy Meal.
Friday, May 26, 2006
Mr Blair warned young people the government cannot "run your life for you". Which is rich from the Government that brought us ASBOs and the ID Card.
Lib Dem leader Sir Menzies Campbell is calling for a "violent crimes" register and an end to the automatic release of prisoners halfway through sentences. The march to the Lib/Con pact starts here.
He is trying to counter Labour and Tory claims his party is too soft on crime. Because obviously the Left wing of politics is so crowded at the moment that there's fertile ground to be had on the Right...
Wednesday, May 24, 2006
Monday, May 22, 2006
See What You Missed
LT United - We Are The Winners. "Look at the bald guy go!"
Sunday, May 21, 2006
Mind you, predicting that the U.S. will be attacked by storms? I mean, that's obviously crazy talk. Hmmm, I wonder how New Orleans is doing these days...
"On the day of Rockoning, It’s who dares, wins, You will see the jokers soon’ll be the new kings!"
Lordi were by far the best thing of the night, followed by LT United for Lithuania. It was interesting how English has pretty much become the lingua franca of Eurovision, France were pretty much the only holdouts, insisting on singing and voting entirely in French. Israel sounded like they sung their first verse in their native tongue before surrendering to the inevitable. It was odd as very few countries made any attempt to make a 'traditional' sound, perhaps showing how much Western music has penetrated? Israel's entry was a pish-sounding R'n'B that looked and sounded American, as though the US is not only giving Israel guns and money but exporting unwanted black groups too. I expect a shrill invective from Melanie Phillips any day now on how their poor showing is all down to European Anti-Semitism. Mind you, we can talk. What was up with Britain's entry? He looked like a supply teacher that had been bribed to leave a School Disco clubnight, which would at least explain the women dressed as schoolgirls who danced around him. I object to someone older than me trying to be 'down with da yoof', rapping about it and having a name that sounds like a character from an late-seventies British war comic, "Next week: Daz Sampson gives the Japs a taste of his British spunk!"
And Sir Terrance of Wogan, his commentary was great. He sounded like he'd been at his hotel minibar before things got underway and was the right mixture of sarcastic, condescending and unimpressed. So see you next year.
Saturday, May 20, 2006
Until now, the Government has argued that renewable energy sources like wind and solar power are the answer. But they’re not. The wind doesn’t blow all the time... That’s leaving aside the horrendous scars wind turbines leave on our beautiful countryside.
Horrendous scars you say? Don't worry, The Sun is already ahead of you when it comes to nuclear power and 'horrendous scars on our beautiful countryside'.
THE Chernobyl nuclear disaster has spawned a generation of ‘mutant’ super-brainy children.
Please remember, The Sun is owned by News International, sister company to Fox, who also own 20th Century Fox, who are producing X-Men III. Presumably the News of the World editorial tomorrow will be a mix of more anti-immigrant jingoism and enthusiasm for nuclear power as it will allow you to fire energy from your eyes and control the weather.
[links via Bloggerheads]
Wikipedia: Chernobyl Accident.
It is the issue which just about every politician would like to wish away; but there is no sign yet of any magic wand which can make 10,000 tonnes of radioactive waste simply disappear.
Armed police have been introduced at two nuclear power stations in Suffolk amid security fears.
Terrorist Attacks on Nuclear Facilities, a Briefing Paper for Parliament [evil pdf].
Friday, May 19, 2006
Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip.
Robots in De Skies
Tuesday, May 16, 2006
Sunday, May 14, 2006
Sod the Cybermen, Bring Back the Cybermats!
By the time they'd assimilated the bloke from The Bill in the 80s their star had really fallen. The Cybermen have a big problem. Namely, that they are crap.
Compare the Daleks and the Cybermen. Although the Doctor regularly defeats both of them the Daleks are known to be a serious problem in the universe, Captain Jack speaks with some awe of them and the Time Lords are so concerned they try to get the Doctor to destroy them at their genesis.
The Time Lords have noticeably never thought to send the Doctor to deal with the Cybermen at source. Whyso? Because the Cybermen are a bit shit.
It's not their fault, it's more that the Doctor has an annoying, to them, habit of turning up before their evil machinations are underway. With most other monsters the Doctor has the decency to wait until the evil plans are underway, see: The Dalek Invasion of Earth, The Talons of Charlie Chan, Survival. But with the tall silver ones? The Tenth Planet? The Doctor, sailor Ben and Sloan Ranger Polly are already on the moonbase when the Cybermen attack. In fact the Doctor is dying (for the first time) and still wipes the floor with them. The Tomb of the Cybermen? The Cybermen have been trounced in intergalactic war and have been forced to hide, so the Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria finish off a small group of them. The Fourth Doctor, Harry and Sarah-Jane stop a group of Cybermen from blowing up a planet made of gold, even though as plans go this would surely be suicide for the gold-phobic tin men. When it comes to the Seventh Doctor, he returns to a game he'd already set in progress some time previously with the Daleks and the Hand of Omega but with the Cybermen he destroys their fleet (with the
Cyberleader: So Timelord, you have regenerated, again. But this time, we will emerge victorious and you shall die.
Doctor: Yes, yes, yes. Get on with it.
Cyberleader: I shall. Your associate has been captured, you have no assistance, you have no radiation and definitely no gold. This time, you shall die. (raises gun)
Doctor: Go on then.
Cyberleader: I will kill you and then the Cybermen shall be triumphant.
Doctor: Come on, Kill me. (Points Cybergun to his chest) Just pull the trigger.
Cyberleader: At last, we have waited so long for this moment!
Doctor: Not as long as I have. I missed out on Jackanory for this. (Sticks muzzle in mouth) 'Ooot ee!
Cyberleader: Die Doctor, die! (presses trigger)
Doctor: ...How could you miss?
Now they are back. I was a bit annoyed by last night's efforts to keep them obscured until almost the end of the show, as every detail of their appearance had been given away on the BBC's website, in RT and by adverts themselves playing coy merely generated an impatience for them to show up. Their legs were shit, rather flared trousers, while their chests and heads were great.
While Roger Lloyd-Pack obviously enjoyed himself as the baddy it's a bit annoying that we have a Davros-clone creating the Cybermen, seeing as the concept of the Cybermen is all about what effect will technologies such as transplants and synthetic organs have on us, it's a shame that the new version of this question is just: "What happens if a megalomaniac gets his hands on your body?". It would have been nicer, and more true to the spirit of the original, if RLP's character was trying to find a way to cure his damaged body and became the first Cyberman and then set out to make everyone else like him. Yes it's The Borg but then the Master was Moriarty (as Terrance Dicks once said: "For a great story you only need one unique and brilliant idea. It doesn't have to be your unique and brilliant idea.")
Meanwhile, I hope Mickey hasn't started reading any long books. He's a black man in sci-fi, the omens aren't good. There's some great work between him and the Doctor in this episode and the moment when he says something like "you don't know me" and tells the Doctor he knows the Doctor would always chose Rose over him has me momentarily moist-eyed for the lunk. I hope we're not swapping Mickey for Full Mickey Jacket.
Saturday, May 13, 2006
Is This The Scariest Man in Science Today?
I mean, just look at him! He may have made light travel backwards but doesn't he look like he discovered this as part of his eternal quest to develop a death-ray and TAKE OVER THE WORLD? Why won't people listen to me? We're in danger here people! He's probably got robo-chimps with wings poised to attack the UN as we speak.
Wednesday, May 10, 2006
Tripping on Sunshine
Monday, May 08, 2006
Sunday, May 07, 2006
I sort of like Lost from the point of view of looking how they create the stories. I like it a hell of a lot less as a viewer, as very little happens and almost nothing is ever sorted out because it would require any of the writers to have an idea what they are doing. Remove the flashbacks and you have a bunch of people with a curious form of short-term memory damage, where old scores matter more than current dangers.
The first three episodes have the same scene happen three times. What would have been good was if events had been organised so that viewers see each time differently, with more information colouring their perception. Common sense would have suggested it be filmed from different angles for each time at least. Unfortunately the Lost production team don't seem to consider this, so each time we just get the scene again. Twice may be just acceptable, but three times? Seeing as the scene climax is the same in both the first and second episode, it suggests that someone was snoozing in the editing suite and could have done with being jettisoned from the second episode entirely.
And what do we have? Well, it's another real-world reason why the island exists, as opposed to they're all dead or it's all Locke's dream or one of Walt's comic books. We have someone that bumped into Jack a few years ago and a clock that must be reset every 100 minutes. Unfortunately, after three hours (or, considering this is down the bottom of that shaft that we saw at the end of the first season, a year and three episodes) the vagueness of this is just irritating. We have a nutter and a training film, that says the hole in the ground is run by a company run by psychologists. No-one knows what will happen when the clock runs out. The nutter legs it. Will the island explode? Will nerve gas be released? Will David Blaine's oxygen supply be cut off? No-one knows. So the crisis comes down to will they continue resetting the clock, which is what Locke wants to do, or do nothing, which is the position Jack takes. With some sense of the consequences of inaction this might turn out to be an almost interesting dilemma, but instead it's crazy old Locke with his hunches and complete disregard for the opinions of anyone else but himself, versus one of the few guys who actually tries to help other people on the island. Jack's capitulation to Locke to keep this up may be explained later on as a clever plan to keep Locke occupied, as it stands right now it looks like Jack also believes that despite absolutely no proof there is some threat they have to avert.
The other storyline is Mike and Sawyer versus the shark. With their boat blown apart by the Others they spend an episode on a slowly disintegrating raft bickering with one another. It is incredibly dull and not even finding excuses to get them into the water to be menaced by stock footage of a shark livens things up any. Although they need a raft to get back to the Island Jin vanishes when the boat explodes and is waiting for them when they return, where they are captured by more Others. Quite why the first lot of Others didn't take them prisoner or this new lot of Others doesn't kill them on sight is, like the question of what happened to Jin, not broached. The highlight of the third episode is them spending all their time in a pit, Sawyer revealing he has another gun hidden about his person and the Others taking it. I'm looking forward to similar such scenes throughout the series, 20 minutes of a character washing their hair, 15 minutes of Charlie trimming his toenails. The big cliffhanger: Is he getting a hangnail?
The flashbacks are still here. Despite the fact that 90% of the time they are completely irrelevent we've still got them or there wouldn't be a show. It's not like you could have Lost in realtime, a la 24 could you? Episode one has Jack agonising over a patient that will be crippled but isn't, episode two is Mike fighting with Walt's mum in court over his custody and three is Locke getting laid and being obsessive about his Dad and his stolen kidney. The problem is, we either know where these stories are going or we don't care. We know Mike doesn't see Walt for years. We don't care that Locke was as much of a dick before the Island as on it. While Kate, Sawyer and Sun and Jin's flashbacks are interesting, because there's a progression there, most of the time they are yet another time-wasting device to get us through the gaps between ads.
I'm finding it really difficult to care about any of the characters or their situation. I'm fairly sure the producers plan is how to get through to the end of the season while telling the least story possible (here's an idea, have Charlie fall into a coma and then do a clips show!). I'll probably give it another week or two and then decide whether to kick it.
Saturday, May 06, 2006
Friday, May 05, 2006
Originally uploaded by Loz Flowers.
48 hours is a long time in politics, especially the 48 hours since Prime Ministers Questions on wednesday when Tony Blair defended the Home Office Minister and said he should be left to sort out the mess he'd created. Now he's gone, to be replaced by the equally loveless John Reid. Shagger Prescott has had some of his toys confiscated and Jack Straw's been demoted, presumably for the PR nightmare that was letting Condeleeza Rice into the country a while back. Nice to see Margaret Beckett moved to foreign secretary, probably the least New Labour Scum of the New Labour Scum.
Elsewhere, I've decided I can't be bothered with this poll clerk business any longer. It's boring and hard work for precious little reward. Plus I had a cold that decided to attack during yesterday which was even more pleasant. Also it's depressing that people in this borough voted based on national rather than local issues because the Tory council we had were incompetent arses that lost money and then ended up in vicious infighting that resulted in half of them being deselected before yesterday's elections.
Wednesday, May 03, 2006
Show one, with the nurse-cats, wasn't much cop. The main story tried to go for an anti-vivisection message but fudges it up by translating it into a science-fiction setting and the episode is only partially salvaged by the burlesque joy of Rose and then the Doctor being posessed by the bitchy trampoline 'Lady Cassandra'. It also follows Doctor Who's often ambivelent relationship to ideas of justice, as with the lone Dalek in season one, she gets to kill loads of people and then feel a bit sorry for it, then die.
Show two, with Queen Victoria and a werewolf is better. The computer graphics are by now pretty impressive and some of the best we've seen on the British small screen, though considering British TV has tended to be reluctant to do it's own science-fiction for fifteen years this is not saying much.
It's only episode three, with RTD not scripting, that the show starts to really start hitting some of the emotional depth of last year, with the return of Sarah-Jane Smith and K9, and Rose wondering about what this means for her relationship with the Doctor.
There seems to be a drift in the direction of confirming that the Doctor and Rose are having a full relationship which I really hope doesn't happen. He'd be even worse than James Bond with a time machine. He kisses you in the morning, fights Daleks in the afternoon and then is back in bed with you in the evening. That would really be a weird relationship. However, Mickey has been ungainly shoe-horned through the TARDIS doors by episode's end so maybe he'll finally get the girl.
But, just as we had Margaret Slytheen questioning the Doctor's morality last year Sarah-Jane was reminding him how his actions have consequences in episode three. The Doctor has never been one for dealing with things, always off down the road like the Littlest Hobo, being exiled to 1970s Earth really was a punishment for him.
Hopefully the episodes will be more like this as we go on. And when it's all over we can start looking forward to Torchwood, and the return of Captain Jack.
Tuesday, May 02, 2006
What I don't really require from my local councillor is for them to repatriate all the non-white people in my neighbourhood back to "where they came from"; ensuring that my children get physically beaten by teachers for perceived wrongdoings; denying that six million Jewish people were murdered by the Nazis; and spending huge amounts of money on weapons.
Another attempt to ban Harry Potter books from a school, brought up by an Evangelical Christian who hasn't read the books, will not read the books and feels she knows all she needs to know from reading Evangelical Anti-Potter websites. At least I read the Bible before calling you a moron. [link via Delenda Est Carthago].
And on that tip, Douglas Rushkoff calls for atheists and non-Christians to take over the Bible (and presumably the Torah and the Koran while we're at it), which is an interesting idea. Certainly I think the Bible is a wonderful sourcebook for ideas and stories but the Fundamentalist reading of it is like a big-print version for stupid people. To believe that the Bible is literally true and is the only way for you to live your life today, well that's just a whitewash excuse for your hatred of whoever you want to hate and you're closing your eyes, not opening them, to the glory of your God. [link via Boing Boing]
I bet that even now the US State Department or someone is preparing to send some of their finest explodey cigars to Bolivia...
If he was serious about improving his party's chances in elections then a scene from Blackadder Goes Forth comes irresistably to mind...
Melchett: Now, Field Marshal Haig has formulated a brilliant new tactical plan to ensure final victory in the field. [they gather around a model of the battlefield]
Blackadder: Now, would this brilliant plan involve us climbing out of our trenches and walking slowly towards the enemy sir?
Darling: How can you possibly know that Blackadder? It's classified information.
Blackadder: It's the same plan that we used last time, and the seventeen times before that.
Melchett: E-E-Exactly! And that is what so brilliant about it! We will catch the watchful Hun totally off guard! Doing precisely what we have done eighteen times before is exactly the last thing they'll expect us to do this time!
There is however one small problem.
Blackadder: That everyone always gets slaughtered the first ten seconds.
Melchett: That's right! And Field Marshal Haig is worried that this may be depressing the men a tadge. So, he's looking to find a way to cheer them up.
Blackadder: Well, his resignation and suicide would seem the obvious solution.
Mr Blair, your duty is clear! To paraphrase Beyond the Fringe instead, "Pop over to Iraq, have a shufti, don't come back."
(Script via The Pleasure Dome)
Monday, May 01, 2006
No, I have not eaten too much chocolate again. Why would you say such a thing?
(See Also Justice 4 Two Sisters)