Drabblecast – The Cold Equations   September 24th, 2013

The Drabblecast Podcast ran a full-cast recording of Tom Godwin’s The Cold Equations. It’s an impressive piece of classic, heavier sci-fi with strong and unflinching drama.

I remember seeing an adaptation done on the 1980s incarnation of “The Twilight Zone” and wasn’t aware it was based on an older work, so it was interesting getting to revisit the story.

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In the Jurassic Park 3D re-release, the 3D was slightly blurry around the edges in a couple of scenes. It also seemed a little exaggerated in parts, though we were also watching it near the front of the theater. For the most part it worked well and was one of the better non-3D movie transfer to 3D I’ve seen. The technology of the time (“this is a unix system”) looked very dated, but the CGI and puppetry work for the dinosaurs held up very well twenty years later. it was a fun ride and really nice to see the film on the big screen again after all these years.

The Evil Dead remake is a modern, contemporary horror movie, so it’s not campy like the original films at all and the effects were very gritty and visceral. The film gets high marks for that. There were several scenes that were difficult to watch, and for that it was very effective in what it was trying to do. The movie reproduced the moving-camera POV tracking shots that Sam Raimi used so well in the originals, and they worked here too. There were a couple of nods to the original, but this film was definitely its own beast.

The characters were pretty standard, which is par for the course, but besides being dumb and reading from the obviously dangerous spell book, nobody was acting like a total douchebag or having to wear the idiot hat which happens far too often in horror movies these days. The film also had a good setup for why the characters were there which also worked well in them not recognizing the danger and discounting things when they first started happening. The final act played out in a slight twist with the characters involved, which I also appreciated.

The original films by Sam Raimi were more enjoyable for their campy horror, but this remake stands well on its own and was satisfying in its own right. If you enjoy the splatter-gore flavor of horror, then it’s worth checking out.

Christmas Podcasts of Interest   January 2nd, 2013

Here are a couple holiday episodes of various podcasts I’ve found interesting, as well as two I helped get produced.

I love EscapePod’s holiday SF stories. This year they have an alchemy-powered take on Dicken’s “A Christmas Carol” with Marley and Cratchit by David Steffen.

Drabblecast, the weekly weird-fiction podcast, has an interesting story. Postapocalypsemas  by  Tim Pratt and Heather Shaw is a post-apocalyptic Christmas tale about a robotic reindeer, a cross between a toy and a protector, searching to find the little girl he was charged to look after and keep safe and happy.

And for my own publishing efforts, Anthro Dreams has two holiday-themed stories.

Shreddy and the Christmas Ghost by Mary Lowd has a loveable feline curmudgeon having another mishap with technology as well as a run-in with the supernatural.

The Gingerbread Reindeer by Renee Carter Hall brings a new addition to the Christmas mythos, along with wonder and magic of the Yuletide night.

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Waxwork Movie Review   November 13th, 2012

I was looking for some mindless entertainment on Netflix last night and the 1988 horror movie Waxwork came up in my suggestions. It sounded interesting, so I gave it a try. It did have a fresh take on the wax museum horror setting, though unfortunately it was better in inspiration than in execution.
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Cloud Atlas Movie Review   November 3rd, 2012

Cloud Atlas is both a compelling and challenging film. It has a sweeping narrative and stunning visual style, which is to representative of the Wachowski’s work. It also expects something from the viewer as it consists of several parallel and interconnected story-lines. These stories flow linearly in their own time frame, but the plot of the film cuts between all of them, sometimes quickly so. The editing, pacing and theming of these cuts was wonderfully done.

The stories are all inter-related, but the film is not totally clear on the mechanics of that. It is eluded that the characters could possibly be reincarnated souls, but that is not strongly suggested. Several links between the parallel lives are shown, but they don’t always make logical sense. Even so, thematically it all works.

The characters are played by the same actors in each of the different periods, sometimes with some impressive makeup which loses them in the character. The acting and characterization is brilliant and the stories make for some wonderful character drama. The film also works across several different genres and tones between the stories, which made things balanced and interesting.

There were some major themes throughout the stories: man’s violence against man for greed and more basic human drives, selfish and selfless acts, falls and redemptions. Deconstructing the film, it felt like the stories fell into two types, major arcs which dealt with the fight against systematic injustice, and minor arcs which served as connections between the other stories and showed more of humanity’s mix of weakness and potential.

The movie isn’t perfect. Some of the connections between stories felt a little superfluous. The points the film made did get a bit heavy handed at times, but at the same time the drama and overall intrigue of the stories were still definitely entertaining. If you’re willing to watch a film which takes some degree of active engagement from the viewer, and which could definitely use a second viewing to aid in the understanding, then it’s well worth the effort and a rewarding experience. 4/5 stars.