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Monday, December 27, 2004
2004 Year-End Sci-Fi Geek Out
If you ask me ... and you're here, so I'm assuming you did ... 2004 was a pretty unremarkable year for sci-fi entertainment action. But the year arrived with no expectations, so the gems we got were gravy. 2005 is gonna be a riskier venture. Here are some impressions of 2004:
THE CRAP: DULL AS DIRT
There wasn't much truly bad stuff this year, the way Attack of the Clones was bad (unless you were drunk when you saw it ... which made it great). The worst stuff of '04 was simply boring, pointless and mildly irritating.
Enterprise introduced a Space Nazi plot and failed to milk it in any way, whatsoever. I can just hear the pitch for that one:
BRAGA: Space Nazis! It writes itself!
BERMAN: You're right! Here's a stack of paper and a pen. Stick it in a drawer for a month and see what happens.
One month later ...
BRAGA: YAY! This is a great script! This will wrap up the Temporal Cold War for good!
COTO: These pages are blank.
BRAGA: It gives us room to improvise! Hey, let's have a character named, 'Carmine'!
Also worth mentioning is the fact that the Xindi story failed to address the issue of sexual relations between the various Xindi species. Do Arboreals have fetish sex with Aquatics or Insectoids? And do they have a Xindi Speaker's Corner where they go to complain about it, "Listen up, Reptillian men, they don't show women no respect!"
The original Shrek is one of those movies that's fun to watch one time ... just one time ... and never again. Shrek 2 is like watching Shrek again. Without Lithgow.
Someone told me that when Gwenyth Paltrow had her baby, she was in labour for 20 hours or something. That's far less pain than I endured watching her ruin the otherwise decent Sky Captain.
On Smallville, Lana is quickly threatening to overtake Richard Pryor as the most irritating thing in the history of all things Superman. What made Lana interesting was her internal struggle against being "just another small town girl" (just as Clark & Lex struggle against their destinies). Instead of following that through to a logical and satisfying conclusion, they've tossed in witches, a lame tatoo and a mysterious boyfriend. When Robert Vaughn shows up, you'll know it's all gone to hell.
I, hated this bloody movie. It wins the Star Trek:Generations award for I Hated It Even More After I Left The Theatre. Someone should do a phantom edit and splice this movie together with Minority Report to create the ultimate adaptation bastardization.
Finally, when acquaintances work on projects my first impulse is to be a booster. But there's no denying how bad this sludge was:
Dawn of the Dead
After a promising start this remake quickly became an A-Team episode (one of the later ones when Peppard and Mr. T were fighting and wouldn't shoot scenes together). There is a missed opportunity every 6 minutes and 12 seconds. But the big question is ...
WHERE ARE THE FREAKIN' ZOMBIES?
One of the fun things about the original were the various zombie characters: the zombie Hare Krishna, the nun, etc etc. The remake gives us 28 Days Later-style "running zombies" at the expense of letting us spend any time with them. And, except for Sarah Polley, the human characters don't grab you enough to pick up the slack.
And the ending is a huge cop-out. The characters escape at the end (thus fulfilling the 'Hollywood Happy Ending' requirement) but if you bother to sit through the credits, you discover that they actually get chewed up after all (thus fulfilling the 'Having Your Cake and Eating It, Too' requirement). Compared to the original's bleak, ambiguous ending, it's total smudge.
The orginal Kingdom miniseries played at the Bloor several years ago and was weird & spooky with a great payoff at the end. And Udo Keir. Only someone as tiresome as Stephen King could mess that up, and he does with his unwatchable adaptation. Doesn't like her cooking? Damn you, Stephen King!
Cancelled with prejudice.
There was worse stuff than this, but I avoided it. For example, last night I was at the local video rental joint and Van Helsing was on the shelf and when I reached out and touched the DVD case I blacked out and woke up in Switzerland.
THE UNEXPECTED GOOD STUFF
It wasn't all Snoresville. Some stuff glowed like a shaft of gold while all around was dark.
After Computerman was cancelled on Channel101, I never thought I'd love again. But the first season of LaserFart is the funniest thing not on tv, especially the 'inspired by Jesus' speech LaserFart gives at the end of one episode.
Shaun of the Dead
I don't get film reviewers. A bunch of them complained that Shaun of the Dead turns into too much of a standard, violent zombie flick at the end. It's just a bit o' blood. I think it gets a bit too hammy and the sense of jeopardy wanes nears the end. Doesn't matter, the flick was necessary to show Zack Snyder how much emptiness is in his soul.
Watch this miniseries and take a drink everytime you sense that something was lifted from Babylon 5 and you will get as drunk as Col. Tigh/Garibaldi. But other than that, it's a damn fine update of the original, right Ivanova/Starbuck? Looking forward to the series next month, but if they do a follow-up series called Galactica 2006 where they reach earth with a bunch of magical space kids, all bets are off!
Star Trek: Enterprise
After a rocky first few episodes, Enterprise hit its stride with some great Trekkage, improved music and some much-needed character action (such as the Trip/T'Pol mess). The 3-episode arc with Spiner featured some Grade A, hammy Trek acting. The only way it could get better is by including scenes like this:
ARCHER: You're with Trip?
T'POL: I am married to some doughboy at home, but yeah, I dig Trip.
ARCHER: And you don't dig me?
T'POL: I'm sorry Captain, I could never love a man who cries after sex.
See? Cause Archer, he is all ... ah ... aw, screw it ...
On Smallville, scenes of Lex's descent into evil are flat-out glorious. And I remain pro-Lois.
Best movie nobody will remember in five years.
Not a great year, not the worst year ... just a blaaaahhhhh year. 2005 shows promise, it could potentially be a terrible year!
FEAR THE FUTURE
2005 is gonna be one of those years that raises your expectations ... and then splatters them on the rocks like a bunch of zombie brains. Here are my pics for the biggest potential disappointments:
Star Wars III
Come to think of it, after the first two prequels, if you have any expectations for this movie at all, you're a complete idiot. Sure, we're all going to line-up and see the sucker, but let's face facts: George Lucas is insane and ADD and this movie is going to be like watching an outer space version of that Real Gilligan's Island reality show. You could sit Jake Llyod, Hayden Christensen, James Earl Jones, David Prowse and Sebastian Shaw at a table and film them discussing the big fight between Obi-wan and Anakin for two hours and you'd probably end up with a better movie.
How do you make 20-year-old jokes fresh & funny again? For some reason, I'm expecting a 2005 Fifth Element.
War of the Worlds
Speilberg + Cruise = Minority Report on three legs.
What could go wrong?
So long, 2004! Thanks for nothin'!
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