zaterdag 31 augustus 2013

The Lost World Series 1: Roland Tembo

Year of release: 1997

-Dino Stun Prod
-Pachycephalosaurus hatchling

Description: Roland is looking very butch sporting green dinosaur skin (including a dinosaur head) wrapped around his brown shirt. Apart from that he’s also wearing ominously dark green pants (along with a knife strapped to his left leg), dark brown leather boots, brown belt and gloves, and a small neck collar made of bones. To top it off he’s sporting a very black hat with the InGen logo at the right side. Roland stands in a fairly neutral pose with his right leg outstretched to the right.
He carries a very large metallic looking device called a Dino Stun Prod. It’s painted metallic dark grey with silvery highlights on both ends. On the front end these consist of two large “claws” surrounding a smaller electronic looking device. On the back end there’s a button: when pressed the claws swing open and the front end sticks out, knocking anything it hits over with some force. The apparatus is almost as big as Roland himself. He can hold the device by sticking his arm in it, making it appear he’s got a bionic arm of sorts. When holding the weapon he can only stand by leaning the thing on the ground, otherwise he topples over. Roland has a second weapon, a small metallic grey knife.
The Pachycephalosaurus hatchling stands in a ferocious attack posture, ready to knock anything it comes into contact with down. Its body is fully outstretched with its head lowered and its skull ready for head butting: his legs stand in a running pose. The animal sports a light green paint job, with its back, tail and upper legs adorned with dark green stripes. Its underside is coloured yellowish beige. His thick skull is painted pinkish red with a large beige spot in the middle, and his eyes are beige with black pupils. A yellow JP Site B logo can be found on his right upper leg, hardly noticeable.

Analysis: Roland has quite a presence with his eerie outfit confirming his reputation as a great white hunter. Unfortunately, the dinosaur skin is just a bit too campy, especially the face with the oversized nostrils. It would have been better not to have Roland sport such dinosaur leather, it’s kind of ridiculous. Other than that his outfit looks pretty swell, especially his dark hat.
The weapon isn’t very special. Though it’s fun to have it spring open, it just doesn’t feel right. It’s simply oversized, making it unrealistic, and its look isn’t very appealing. Also, it only does damage to any dinosaur standing right in front of the weapon, and it only works on smaller dinosaurs, like hatchlings. It doesn’t do anything to larger figures. It’s just hard to think of Roland using such a weapon to hunt dinosaurs with; it would have been better if he had the gun we saw him carry in the movie, or at least a weapon firing stuff. The knife is a neat little bonus though: it looks good and feels like something Roland would use.
The Pachy is a fierce little devil. It looks ready for action even though it’s just a hatchling. The paint job is good enough and resembles the colours of the larger Pachycephalosaurus (the medium size Pachy that is, not the biggest of the three this toy line featured), adding some consistency to the line. Still, it doesn’t really look like a hatchling, apart from its big eyes maybe. It looks more like a smaller version of an adult Pachy. But it’s a good little figure anyhow.

Playability: it could have been better. Roland has the usual poseable limbs and a decently neutral position too. The weapon however doesn’t add much action options: the knife is a good little addition though. The Pachy’s active pose limits playability somewhat, since it’s basically usable for action only. It would look good in dioramas though.

Realism: though the dinosaur skin is really cheesy, the rest of Roland’s outfit isn’t farfetched and looks like something Roland might wear on hunting trips. It’s not the same as what he wore in the movie though; the outfit worn by the exclusive Roland figure that comes with the D.A.R.T. looks more like it. Still, the head sculpt sure looks similar to Pete Postlethwaite’s facial features, and the hat isn’t far off either. Though there was a stun prod in the TLW movie, this weapon looks nothing like it: it’s much bigger and more complex in design. The knife is more realistic.
The Pachy looks a lot like a Pachy in defensive mode might look like, though it’s doubtful hatchlings would also behave like this. But as said above, this sculpt looks more like a small version of an adult Pachycephalosaurus than it resembles a juvenile. It’s quite anatomically correct, though it may be missing some fingers.

Repaint: no. The figure, hatchling and weapons would not be repainted for later toy lines either.

Overall rating: 6/10. The figure and hatchling are decent enough, though both have some aesthetic downsides. The weapon isn’t great and doesn’t fit Roland’s character: the knife can’t help it be better. This figure isn’t hard to find, nor should it prove very expensive if you run into it.

The Lost World Series 1: Ian Malcolm

Year of release: 1997

-Smart Missile Launcher (with missile)
-Tyrannosaurus hatchling

Description: this Malcolm figure sports a typical black outfit like Malcolm usually does. Shirt, trousers, gloves, sunglasses, belt and shoes are all black. He’s got some equipment on him, consisting of a green pair of binoculars on his chest, a brown knife on his upper left leg, and a JP Site B patch on his right shoulder. On his back he’s got a small black device: what it’s supposed to be doesn’t matter, since it’s there to support the missile launcher when it’s attached to the figure’s back. Malcolm also has black hair: depending on what variation of this figure you’ve got the hair is either smooth or curly.
The missile launcher is basically a red backpack (including pockets and rope on the sides) with black highlights sticking out, namely a button for firing the device, two straps for attaching it to the figure, and black supports for keeping the wings of the missile down. The missile is a large red sort of rocket with wings, which can be loaded on the upper side of the launcher.
The T-Rex hatchling is a cute little critter with large black eyes and white pupils, standing tall on its legs. It stands in a walking position with its head slightly positioned to the right as if something is attracting its attention. It’s coloured in a dull grey paint job, with a large green stripe running from its head all the way to the end of the tail. It has a black JP Site B logo on its right upper leg. It’s also got a grey bandage on its lower right leg, hardly noticeable because it’s coloured in the same grey as the rest of the sculpt.

Analysis: this is a good enough figure. It stands in a neutral position, but it tends to fall over easily because of the odd cowboy shoes. The black outfit is very Malcolm, but also a bit monotonous. The little gear details help to make it more diverse, but cannot be removed: Malcolm has no choice but to keep those heavy binoculars on all the time. The missile launcher can easily be attached to the figure’s back, but makes the figure get further out of balance, so it can only stand when the torso is really moved forward, making the figure stare at the ground. Despite these minor flaws it’s a pretty good sculpt.
The missile launcher is a neat new weapon and really works well. When pressing the buttons, the wings pop out and the missile is fired, hitting anything in its path with forceful impact. The colouring the weapon sports is a bit ugly though, and the weapon isn’t totally realistic. But it’s best not to complain too much over a weapon that works so well as this thing does.
The Rex hatchling is quite good, but also has some balance issues. It too falls down easily. Also, the paint job isn’t very appealing and could have used some more work: it’s especially disappointing the bandage on its leg isn’t painted in a different colour, because it’s hard to spot the animal has a bandage there at all. Other than that, the Rex looks cute and cuddly, with a hint of potential to become the next Site B tyrant king.

Playability: pretty high. The figure’s pose is very neutral and all its limbs are poseable, so there’s no problem there. The weapon works well, though it’s better to use it independently from the figure: it’s guaranteed to knock any hatchling and most smaller dinosaur sculpts over. Like all hatchlings the Rex has no poseable body parts though.

Realism: though this figure is easily recognizable as being Ian Malcolm, mostly because of the sunglasses and black outfit, it looks more like the Ian Malcolm from the first JP movie than it resembles the one from TLW. Malcolm didn’t wear any glasses in TLW and could have used a shaving, but that’s not the case with this particular sculpt. Also, despite the colour this figure sports a somewhat different outfit: for example, Ian didn’t wear short sleeves and had no knife or binoculars. But it’s still definitely a Malcolm.
There was no missile launcher of this type in any of the JP movies, nor does it look much like anything that people really use to kill animals with. There was a T-Rex hatchling in TLW though, but it looked somewhat different from this one. The biggest difference lies in the paint job. Also, the head of this model doesn’t resemble its movie counterpart, and the overall creature is a bit smaller as well (but not much). Adding the bandage to the figure’s leg is a nice detail though, because the young Rex in the movie also had some leg problems: this makes the fact it’s hard to spot even more annoying.

Repaint: no, for the most part. The Rex hatchling, missile launcher and most of the figure itself are new, but the head (at least the curly variation) looks very much like the head sculpt from the JP Series 2 Malcolm figure. Also, the Rex hatchling would be repainted for TLW Series 2 (Eddie Carr).

Overall rating: 7/10. The figure has several minor downsides, but overall it’s pretty good and has a nice weapon as well as a cute little Rex. It’s not rare and it should be easy to get at an affordable price, so you might get one yourself.

The Lost World Series 1: Nick van Owen

Year of release: 1997

-Spray gun with backpack
-Pteranodon hatchling

Description: this figure sports beige shorts, brown gloves, shoes and utility belts, and a green shirt with a yellow vest over it. A brown knife is attached to the back of his right leg, while another knife is attached to the back of his left upper leg, coloured in the same beige as his pants so it’s hardly noticeable. The figure’s got black hair and eyes. He’s got a JP Site B patch on his left shoulder. It stands largely in a neutral position, except his right leg is stretched out somewhat. There is a variation of this figure: this particular sculpt wears a green hat with the JP Site B logo on it, while that logo is missing on his shoulder.
This figure comes with a small silver camera device, or at least something resembling a camera, which does nothing: it’s just an extra little gadget. The action of this figure is provided by the spray gun: it consists of a yellow pack with a black hose attached to it, ending in a silver gun. By putting the gun in water and pressing the yellow pack, the pack gets loaded with water. Pressing the pack again makes the gun squirt water at anything in its path. The pack can be put in a brown backpack, so that the figure can wear it on its back and hold the gun.
Along with this figure comes an adorable little Pteranodon hatchling. It’s coloured mostly beige, with some slightly shiny blue paint on its back, neck and crest. The throat and front part of the head are coloured in a yellow paint job, with black eyes and yellow pupils. The animal can stand on its legs and has its wings outstretched, as if it’s about to take flight. It has a black JP Site B logo on its right upper wing.

Analysis: this figures has its pros and cons. Nick himself looks pretty good, though the upper part of his outfit looks a bit odd and unrealistic. The two knifes are a bit out of place, since Nick didn’t have them in the movie. It’s also a shame one knife is hard to spot on this figure, making that one seem useless altogether. But other than that, this is a pretty cool figure with an okay paint job.
The spray gun isn’t very original. In fact, it’s a repaint of the weapon the JPS1 and JPS2 Dennis Nedry carried. It works the same too, so there’s no improvement or anything. This weapon may be good for people who like to play with water alongside their other action figures, risking paint wear and damaged electronics. For people who’re not keen on potential hazards to their figures the weapon is a plain redundancy. The camera thingy also doesn’t add much since it doesn’t feature any action. However, it helps Nick’s character as a video expert (which the carding claims he is, and people who’ve seen TLW know him to be) to be emphasized.
The Pteranodon hatchling is cute and sports a paint job very similar to the Giant Pteranodon figure of this toy line. The paint job is a bit bland, but the figure looks real cute. It’s also nice to see it can actually stand and not just lie down like the other small Pteranodon figures.

Playability: it could be better. The figure itself has the regular moveable body parts. The hatchling too, in the sense that it’s not poseable in any way like most hatchling figures are. The weapon does work, but it doesn’t look totally impressive and has little impact on any figures that get hit by firing water at them. Also, for people who don’t want to use water for fear of damaging other figures the weapon is more of an obstacle since they can’t do anything with it. The camera is a fun bonus gadget, but nothing more.

Realism: Nick’s face sure resembles Vince Vaughn somewhat, except it’s got less detail and his hair is too dark. The clothes this figure sports don’t resemble the outfit Nick wore in the movie, except his pants maybe. There wasn’t any type of weapon firing liquids in TLW, nor was there a type of camera similar to the camera device this figure carries.
The Pteranodon looks like a hatchling, and could very well be the offspring of the Pteranodons seen in the closing shot of TLW. However, it’s not entirely palaeontologically correct: for one thing, its crest is oversized. Another, even worse, mistake concerns the wings of this sculpt: they feature a bat like pattern, with multiple long fingers with skin stretched between them. However, real Pteranodons didn’t have wings like this. They basically has a hand with one extremely long finger and skin stretched between this finger and their body.

Repaint: the figure, hatchling and camera are new. As mentioned above however, the spray gun is a repaint from the same weapon carried by JPS1 and JPS2 Dennis Nedry. Additionally: the Pteranodon hatchling would be repainted for JP Dinosaurs 1, for a set containing a large Pteranodon figure and two of such repainted hatchlings.

Overall rating: 6/10. It’s a decent figure, but the weapon isn’t great or original. A new weapon, or even a repaint of another weapon that doesn’t require water, would have been preferable. Also, both the hatchling and the outfit of Nick himself could have been better. Both variations of this figure aren’t hard or costly to come by, so it should take little effort to acquire them if you wanted one, or both, of them.

The Lost World Series 1: Eddie Carr

Year of release: 1997

-Capture Claw Launcher
-Triceratops hatchling

Description: Eddie wears a beige overall with a lot of pockets, as well as a brown utility belt and a brown pair of boots. The upper part of the overall is green and has a rope wrapped around the right shoulder. A pair of black sunglasses are dangling on his chest, and a JP Site B patch is located on his left shoulder. Eddie has a light brown hat with some green adorning: underneath he has brown hair. He stands in a completely neutral position.
His large weapon is called a Capture Claw Launcher according to the carding: it’s basically a heavy grey gun with a large yellow claw shaped dart sticking out. The dart is attached to the gun by a piece of black string. On top of the weapon there’s a large yellow disc around which the string can be wrapped, as well as a yellow button for firing the weapon.
Eddie comes with an adorable Triceratops hatchling. It sports a dark green paint job with a white underside. The creature has three very small horns, almost stumps. A large white spot surrounds every eye: the eyes themselves are black with white pupils. The creature stands with one front leg raised and his beak opened, as if squawking for attention. It has a black JP Site B logo on its right hind leg.

Analysis: this figure is not bad at all. Eddie sports an interesting and detailed outfit, but the paint job could have been better. The numerous pockets are hardly noticeable and the rope around his shoulder is a bit cheaply done. Eddie doesn’t stand in any weird pose, but remains totally neutral adding to the playability. It’s a good figure, except for one thing: it doesn’t look like the movie Eddie at all. It might as well be another dino tracker or park ranger.
The weapon is quite cool, though it is a repaint. Despite its size Eddie can easily hold it with a single hand without falling down. It works well: pressing the button fires the claw and hits anything in its path with some force. The range is limited to about 70 centimetres by the rope, though people who prefer the weapon without the rope to increase the range will have no problem removing it from the weapon. It’s a nifty weapon, but there’s one downside: it’s called a claw, implying it can grab, catch or restrain things. However, when fired the dart doesn’t catch anything, it just knocks things over. This is just a minor point of criticism though.
The baby Triceratops is cute, like most TLW hatchlings. The paint job could have been better though: for one thing, its horns shouldn’t be green like the rest of the animal. Also, the white isn’t really aesthetically pleasing. Other than that there’s nothing wrong with this little Trike.

Playability: well enough. The figure has the usual range of poseable body parts and stands in a neutral pose. Like all hatchlings the baby Triceratops can’t movie in any way. The weapon provides some good shooting action, though one might say the string limits its potential. But that’s easily fixed.

Realism: this Eddie looks totally different from the Eddie we saw in the TLW movie. His outfit differs completely from the clothing Eddie wore in that film. Was Eddie even wearing a hat in the movie? The face also doesn’t resemble Richard Schiff as he played Eddie: most noticeably, Richard was bald. There was no Capture Claw Launcher in TLW either. It’s a good figure, but nothing about it reminds us of that guy that got ripped in half by a pair of angry Rexes.
The little Triceratops is clearly recognizable as such, even though its horns are pretty small (which was normal for baby Trikes). It still has a large crest on the back of his head, as well as a horned beak. It’s not very different from the contemporary view of young Ceratopsians’ appearance.

Repaint: the figure and the hatchling are new, but the weapon is a repaint of the double harpoon JPS2 Harpoon Harrison carried.

Overall rating: 7/10. It’s a good figure, but it’s a shame it just doesn’t look anything like Eddie Carr. The weapon (despite being a repaint) and the cute hatchling make up for it somewhat. This figure isn’t rare and shouldn’t prove to be very expensive when you find it.

vrijdag 30 augustus 2013

Today's Mini-review: Elysium

Elysium: ****/*****, or 8/10

A fabulously dystopian science fiction flick in every sense of the term, courtesy of the still fairly inexperienced South-African director Neill Blomkamp, who continues treading the path he started with the smash hit District 9 (2009). No extra-terrestrials this time, as Elysium focuses on our own local troubles on Earth. Overpopulation and pollution have taken their toll on our world by the time the year 2154 arrives, but for those stemming from rich and powerful families, life is a never ending vacation on the space station Elysium, where the wealthy look down on their fellow man below in excessive luxury. Alarmingly protective to make sure the huge masses won't infect the beauty of their private Heaven, the common man is not allowed to visit the station, and most travel between locations is done exclusively by robots. There's no sickness on these Elysian fields made reality, as each residence has its private medical pod which immediately cures all ailments. The ex-con Max (Matt Damon) is not so lucky, as he gets exposed to a lethal dose of radiation at the shuttle factory – you'd think such dangerous but important work was delegated to droids too, but humans are no doubt cheaper and more expendable in this sorry state of affairs – after which he is informed he's only got five days left to live. In an effort to save his sad existence, but soon that of the daughter of the love of his life (Alice Braga) too, he gets involved with a shady criminal organization that seeks to infiltrate Elysium to hack its systems and make illegal human trafficking easier. All Max needs to do is kidnap a visiting station dignitary – the terrific and terrifyingly rude and unsympathetic William Fichtner, who considers his Earthly brethern little more than unhygienic cheap labour – and break into his head via a comlink wedged in his brain to steal the neccesary data. Unfortunately, things go wrong and the target dies during the heist. What's worse, he happened to be involved in a covert operation orchestrated by Elysium's Minister of Defense (Jodie Foster with a funny accent) – who has no moral qualms in shooting down refugee ships from earth to make sure no poor people invade her homeland – to seize government control. Soon Max must run for his life, both to reach Elysium before the countdown ends, and to evade a particularly nasty and amoral band of ruthless mercenaries led by the unstable, maniacal Kruger (Sharlto Copley, who starred in District 9).

Blomkamp develops this disturbingly inhumane world with its outrageous divide between the haves and the have-nots – a not all too inconceivable and unbelievable scenario considering our present day social situation – to a frightfully effective extent, hearkening back to similar dystopian genre classics of the the notoriously gloomy Seventies the likes of Soylent Green and Rollerball, illustrating a future society where all our present day problems continue to exist, except they've grown to seemingly unsolvable proportions. The potential consequences of our everyday indifference and our political inabilites to end such increasing social inequality are amply showcased in Elysium, but not in such a heavy-hearted manner they alienate the audience. Similarly, Blomkamp has put his design team to incredibly good use, creating a visually lavish world which does not seem so farfetched in terms of technological capabilities and is clearly an extension of today's tech, which makes for many a memorable, visually pleasing shot and dynamic action scene. It looks and sounds amazing, yet always serves both the story and this world's credibility.

Still, despite its superior look, solid action and fascinating plot, Elysium as a film is not as perfect and beautiful as the space station that shares its name. The climax is rather a forced one, much more cheerful than expected and warranted, wherein common criminals inexplicably prove to be revolutionaries. Foster's conspiracy plot line ends up underexposed and essentially unused in the last act, while her character remains underdeveloped to be adequately menacing and understandable. Both Foster and Copley are guilty of overacting, the latter going a little bit off the deep end in his portrayal of a bad guy that apparently does not have a shred of recognizable humanity or redeeming qualities at all (though he does know his South-African lullabies). Similarly, Damon proves a flawed casting choice: true, Damon can act, but he's much too big a movie star to convincingly play an everyday down-on-his-luck factory labourer with a checkered past. A less known actor would have been preferable, since all we can see now is Matt Damon looking goofy with a heavy assortment of tattoos and all kinds of mechanical gizmos strapped to his body. Despite these few shortcomings, Elysium is science fiction filmmaking according to the finest traditions of the genre: socially engaged, thematically rooted in the actuality of the day, intricate and intriguing but grounded where reality is concerned in terms of its futurist design, and simply never dull. Delivering a worthy successor to District 9, Blomkamp is sure to become one of the greats in contemporary science fiction cinema, deservedly so.

donderdag 29 augustus 2013

Today's News: an Exodus of Thor posters

Here's a double bill for ya:

A pair of grand new posters, befitting the characters in question me thinks. Thor looks mighty and divine as a thunder god ought to, while Loki appears sinister and villainous as always. There's some subtle clues in the Loki poster concerning the fate of Asgard at the hands of the legion of the Dark World of Svartalfheim, possibly - and likely - with Loki's aid. There's little more to be said about these new one-sheets other than that they continue to foster hopes Thor: The Dark World will be an epic Marvel flick successfully succeeding its predecessor in terms of cosmic scope and marvelous mysticism.

And speaking of epic - as subtle a segue as you're ever gonna get from me - there's Sir Ridley Scott's latest project which appears to be just that, but Biblical. It appears Exodus is his serious take on the Old Testament book of the same name, without going for a more cynical tone, as was at first the idea with his Robin Hood (which unfortunately didn't work out though, and it ended up a typical period film devoid of surprises accordingly). So far its increasingly impressive cast seems up to the task, though I do disagree with the casting choice for Christian Bale as Mozes; personally I wouldn't follow Bale to the Promised Land, though I concur there are plenty of others that would. I'm more intrigued by the casting of established character actors the likes of Ben Kingsley (also a Sir), John Turturro, Sigourney Weaver and Joel Edgerton (not Sirs). As for Aaron Paul, he seems the odd one out in this bunch. Unless he's supposed to deliver a lighter overall tone to the piece, something I trust Scott won't let get out of hand. That he can play the type of character he did in Breaking Bad is one thing, but now Paul must prove he's up to playing other types of roles as well. Under Scott's supervision, I say we need not fear for anything less than stellar performances of Bale's colleagues throughout. As for Bale himself, well... he's Batman... no more! Ben Affleck is Batman now, deal with it.

woensdag 28 augustus 2013

Today's Mini-Review: Kick-Ass 2

Kick-Ass 2: ****/*****, or 7/10

The wacky creations of Mark Millar and John Romita Jr. return to the big screen in this sequel to the 2010 hit film Kick-Ass. Again centered around the premise of everyday people (that is, if nerds are eligible for that title) donning silly outfits and going out on the streets at night to fight bad guys, only to have things go wholly awry, we find Dave 'Kick-Ass' Lizewski (Aaron Taylor-Johnson) and Mindy 'Hit-Girl' MacReady (Chloë Grace Moretz) a while after the events of the predecessor, as they struggle to decide whether they should continue where they left off or just settle for a normal boring life after all. While Dave is adamant of returning to the criminal infested back alleys to keep his fellow civilians safe from harm, Mindy is confronted by her custodian Marcus (Morris Chestnut) who keeps telling her she should stop such behavior in favour of resuming the normal childhood taken from her by her father, and go in search for her true self, and disregarding the foul mouthed little crimebuster her father transformed her in. She does just that and quickly gets drawn into the equally vicious unforgiving world of teenage high school girls (walking talking clichés, but none the less hilarious for it). Meanwhile, Kick-Ass meets a band of fellow vigilantes, named Justice Forever, led by the seemingly mentally derailed born-again Christian Colonel Stars and Stripes (Jim Carrey; his presence was heavily marketed for this film, but he's only in it for a screen time of less than ten minutes), with which he readily signs up. Trouble is brewing though, as his archnemesis-to-be, the treacherous vigilante formerly known as Red Mist (Christoper Mintz-Plasse), is hellbent on revenge for the death of his father – whom Kick-Ass shot out of a skyscraper window with a bazooka – and is determined to become the world's first true supervillain, for which he gathers an army of evil henchmen (dubiously called the Toxic Mega-Cunts) and assumes the outrageous code name The Motherf*cker. With tensions mounting as the new ultimate bad guy hunts down the members of Justice Forever in search of his benevolent counterpart to exact his revenge on, things can only come down to a climactic showdown of epically violent proportions. The main question is: will Hit-Girl find her true nature in time to come to the good guys' aid?

Though the novelty of the concept of “ordinary” folks wearing ridiculous costumes and getting into more trouble than they anticipated has worn off since the first Kick-Ass was released, it's gratifying seeing our favorite take on the subject receiving a follow-up. Nevertheless, Kick-Ass 2 doesn't kick Kick-Ass' ass. Though still delivering a plethora of good gags and witty in-jokes, the emphasis on overly gratuitous violence and heavy swearing tends to rule the plot just a bit too much at times, being rude just for rudeness' sake, while most of the action scenes feel repetitive as they feature mostly costumed weirdos beating each other up with clubs, knives and the occasional guns instead of opting for more original scenarios like the previous installment did. As is the case with most sequels, this one just gives us more of the same without feeling the need to properly expand the world in question too much for fear of leaving its comfort zone. That said, it cannot be denied there's a heart and soul to Kick-Ass 2, and as was the case with the previous film, it's mostly centered around Hit-Girl. Whereas Kick-Ass' most endearing (and funniest) moments revolved around Hit-Girl and her father Big Daddy (you'd never think you would miss Nicolas Cage!), the same is true for Kick-Ass 2 where Hit-Girl's plot line tends to steal the show as she's off on her own adventure surviving the torments of being an unpopular teen girl in a world ruled by major bitches. And though Hit-Girl was always the most awesome ingredient of the franchise, it's amazing to see Mindy by herself works just as well without her alter ego, which makes us go without the purple suit for most of the film without missing it that much. As for girl power, we have the bad-ass new character of the hulking Mother Russia (bodybuilder and first time actress Olga Kurkulina) to do some serious damage to other people in the same style whilst in the employ of The Motherf*cker. In this regard, she's rather an exception, as almost all other evil henchmen, as well as the majority of Kick-Ass' new fellow protectors, get very little development. There's so many zany new characters with similarly goofy outfits that we can only hope for a neat DVD bonus feature to explore them all. Overall, Kick-Ass 2 gives us exactly what we were kinda expecting, an explosive and hilarious sequel to its predecessor that does an adequate job further delving into the crazy nature of vigilantism and fleshing out the characters of our beloved Kick-Ass and Hit-Girl a bit more, but lacks the smarts and charms that characterized the first film and feels otherwise rather a repetition of moves. It must be stated though, you haven't lived until you've seen Mindy melt over a Union J video clip. And as a bonus you get Jorah Mormont Iain Glen doing a very creepy New Jersey mob accent.

dinsdag 27 augustus 2013

Today's Mini-Review: Safety Not Guaranteed

Safety Not Guaranteed: ****/*****, or 8/10

Delightful indie comedy, courtesy of newbie director Colin Trevorrow, is first and foremost an ode to all the outcasts that don't follow society's expected patterns of social integration but prefer to stick to being themselves. Aubrey Plaza stars as the witty intern Darius, a young woman who has always had a hard time fitting in or making friends, and as such is relegated to do all the dirty jobs at the magazine publisher she works for, until she jumps at the chance to show her employers she can do more than refilling toilet paper. As it happens, a most peculiar newspaper add surfaces, wherein an unknown person is looking for a companion to travel back in time with him ('safety not guaranteed', it says, along with the advice 'to bring your own weapons'). Together with the arrogant but lazy reporter Jeff and her fellow intern Arnau (an Indian guy who is suffering from virginity, or so the overly horny Jeff seems to think), Darius is dispatched to track down the one who posted the add to see if he's for real, in the hopes of getting an interesting story out of it. What they find is a seemingly completely nutty supermarket employee named Kenneth (the comedically underrated Mark Duplass) who proves rather paranoid and prone to violent selfdefense of his privacy, so he won't let anyone come too close to him. Deciding to let the interns do all the hard work so Jeff himself – no so coincidentally – can seek out an estranged girlfriend in the area, Darius soon infiltrates Kenneth's life in order to get to the bottom of it all. She gets more than she bargained for as she soon considers the oddball a kindred spirit, who is all too serious about his quest to jump back in time, making her go through a rigorous training course before deciding on whether she's time traveler material. This naturally causes the pair to bond, despite the both of them engaging in some convenient truth-altering to get closer to the other. Meanwhile, Jeff finds his lost love and gets stuffed with all sorts of delectable pies, while Arnau may or may not have his cherry popped. Instead of allowing the time travel element to drive the plot in an effort to have the protagonists reconnect with their pasts and set their status as outsiders straight, Trevorrow cleverly opts to have them connect to each other in the present for their own mutual emotional gain. The film's message: 'here's to the losers, bless them all'. If you go in focusing on the time travel aspect the movie seems to be built around, expecting a big FX show, you'll be disappointed in that regard – the movie cost less than a million bucks for heaven's sake! – but few will find it impossible not to be charmed by the true heart and soul that drives this film and its likeable out-of-the-box characters. Not to mention the fact this flick contains its fair share of hilarious situations, including a night equipment raid at a science lab where the employees just so happen to be throwing a surprise birthday party. Mr. Trevorrow, Jurassic Park IV is all yours. If this appetizing film is any indication, an interesting result seems guaranteed.

maandag 26 augustus 2013

Today's Article: Destination God, Part 3: Chapter 3

Hoofdstuk 3: Religie in de terrestrial creature en altered human subgenres

Hoewel religie zeker aanwezig is in zowel het ‘terrestrial creature’ als het ‘altered human’ subgenre, zal ik beide genres hier samen kort behandelen. De reden hiervoor is dat religie in beide genres in grote lijnen op dezelfde manier naar voren komt en een vergelijkbare boodschap beschrijft. Als geheel is zij minder prominent aanwezig dan in de ‘man into space’ en ‘alien invasion’ subgenres. Desondanks, religie is wel degelijk aan te treffen in beide subgenres, waardoor een beschrijving van haar rol hierin niet in dit paper mag ontbreken.

Het met religie verbonden thema dat als rode draad door beide subgenres loopt is het spelen of rommelen van de mens met machten die buiten zijn begrip en controle liggen, vaak letterlijk aangeduid (zowel in de films zelf als in dat wat over de films geschreven is) als ‘playing God’. De wetenschap bedoelt het niet slecht en is slechts uit op nieuwe uitvindingen en inzichten die het leven van de mensheid er beter op maken: men is zich bewust van het gevaar, maar acht het de moeite waard het risico te nemen ten bate van de vooruitgang. Zoals gesteld wordt in Monster on the Campus (USA: Jack Arnold, 1958):

Man can use his knowledge to destroy all spiritual values and reduce the race to bestiality. Or he can use his knowledge to increase his understanding to a point far beyond anything now imaginable. [my emphasis]

Maar door gebrek aan inzicht en vooral overmoed lopen dergelijke experimenten uit de hand, met rampzalige gevolgen. De termen die de subgenres volgens mijn benaming aanduiden reflecteren deze gevolgen: in het ‘terrestrial creature’ subgenre wordt Amerika bedreigd door reusachtige monsters, in het ‘altered human’ subgenre wordt de mens zelf vervormd. In beide gevallen wordt frequent gesproken van een straf van God, of in ieder geval een hogere macht, voor het rommelen met krachten die alleen Hij beheerst en mag beheersen: ‘divine retribution’, noemt John Brosnan het.1 De mens leert zijn les: aan het eind van bijna elke film uit deze subgenres wordt opgemerkt dat men arrogant en onverantwoordelijk was om met goddelijke machten te rotzooien. Zulke machten, van het atoom of van de natuur, hebben opnieuw bewezen niet te bedwingen te zijn: eens te meer beseft Amerika dit.2 ‘Humanity acknowledges that it has been arrogant in presuming upon its role in the cosmos’, zo omschrijft Lucanio dit besef, wat hij aanstipt als eindpunt in een vastliggende narratieve formule die welhaast constant gebruikt werd in het ‘terrestrial creature’ subgenre.3
Het voornaamste verschil tussen beide subgenres ligt hem in de schaal van het experiment en haar gevolgen. In het ‘terrestrial creature’ subgenre is deze schaal collectief: de omvang van het experiment en de daarbij gebruikte krachten (meestal verbonden met de atoom- of waterstofbom) genereert een kolossale ramp – op te vatten als zowel de grootte van de monsters als de omvang van de door hen aangerichte ravage – die hele steden verwoest en duizenden bedreigt (voorbeelden: It Came from Beneath the Sea (USA: Robert Gordon, 1955), The Deadly Mantis (USA: Nathan Juran, 1957)). Vivian Sobchack citeert Joe Kane, die spreekt van het ‘Bestial Invocation theme’: ‘…the creatures are seen as instruments of punishment for nuclear misuse’.4 Hoewel niet de hele samenleving direct verantwoordelijk is ligt de schuld bij het collectief: de geleerden in deze films werken nooit alleen, maar altijd in groepsverband in dienst van de regering. Het mandaat voor hun experimenten ligt bij de politiek en het leger dat hun werk goedkeurt en zelfs aanspoort in naam van het volk, waardoor in feite iedereen indirect schuld draagt aan de monsterlijke gevolgen. De schuld is collectief, als reflectie op de angst voor het atoom (de belangrijkste oorzaak voor het ontstaan van de creaturen) die immers ook collectief is.5
Hiertegenover plaatst het ‘altered human’ subgenre de individuele schaal van de eenzame wetenschapper die afzonderlijk werkt aan een experiment dat grote gevolgen kan hebben voor het welzijn van de mensheid. Lucanio duidt deze variant aan als de Prometheustekst.6 De ramp voltrekt zich en alleen deze wetenschapper zelf wordt getroffen en vervormd. Hierna valt hij op kleine schaal, vaak op persoonlijk niveau (de mensen in zijn directe omgeving, degenen die hij liefheeft), de maatschappij aan. Lucanio, voortbouwend op de rol van de ‘scientist hero’ als de ‘American Adam’ (zie Paragraaf 2.2), omschrijft deze ongelukkige ‘scientist hero’ als ‘Adam falling’:

He is tempted and seduced by the serpent of curiosity, and he invariably partakes of the forbidden fruit of scientific experimentation. […] the scientist’s acquisition of knowledge is at the expanse of his own life, a reflection of God’s curse upon Adam that “in the day thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die.”7

Deze ‘misguided scientist hero’ alleen draagt schuld: vaak hebben zijn naasten hem gewaarschuwd tegen het voor God spelen en sloeg hij hun advies in de wind wegens zijn hoogmoed (voorbeelden: The Fly (USA: Kurt Neumann, 1958), Monster on the Campus). De wetenschappers in het ‘terrestrial creature’ subgenre zijn daarentegen minder blasfemisch en uiten zelf hun angsten voor het experiment en de krachten die daarmee gepaard gaan, maar gaan er toch mee door aangezien ze hun werk van groot belang achten. Twee citaten onderstrepen dit. Het eerste citaat, uit The Fly:

Helene: ‘It’s frightening. It’s like playing God.’
André: ‘God gives us intelligence to uncover the wonders of nature. Without that gift nothing is possible.’
Helene: ‘Oh André, I get so scared sometimes. The suddenness of our age; electronics, rockets, earth satellites, supersonic flight. And now this. It’s not so much who invents them, it’s the fact that they exist.’
André: ‘But you’re not frightened of TV, or radio, or X-rays, or electricity, or that the Earth is round.’
Helene: ‘No, but everything’s going so fast, I’m just not ready to take it all in. It’s all so quick!

Dit citaat refereert expliciet naar God en het ‘playing God’ motief, waarbij de vrouw van de wetenschapper haar angst verwoordt en haar man waarschuwt: deze heeft hier echter geen oren naar en wijst naar de positieve resultaten van andere wetenschappers als excuus voor zijn eigen experiment. Vergelijk het tweede citaat, uit The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms:

Nesbitt: ‘The world’s been here for millions of years. Man’s been walking upright for a comparatively short time. Mentally, we’re still crawling. This test will add to our knowledge.’
Ritchie: ‘Every time one of these things goes off I feel as if we were helping to write the first chapter of a new Genesis.
Nesbitt: ‘Let’s hope we don’t find ourselves writing the last chapter of the old one.’
Evans: ‘You sound like a man who’s scared, Tom.’
Nesbitt: ‘What makes you think I’m not?’

Dit citaat omhelst een dialoog tussen wetenschappers die zelf hun bedenkingen verwoorden en niet gewaarschuwd hoeven te worden door buitenstaanders: er wordt verwezen naar de Bijbel, maar niet naar het opperwezen zelf. In het eerste citaat wil de wetenschapper van geen wijken weten, terwijl de wetenschappers in het tweede citaat zich wel bewust zijn van het gevaar en er daarop zorgvuldiger mee omgaan.

Hoe wordt God gezien in deze subgenres? In het ‘terrestrial creature’ subgenre wordt zelden direct melding gemaakt van God: er wordt doorgaans gesproken van ‘hogere machten’ of ‘Moeder Natuur’ die wraak nemen voor de transgressies (het tweede belangrijke thema in dit subgenre is ‘man against nature’, maar de natuur en God spelen hier eenzelfde rol). Immers, God stond in het Amerikaanse denken aan de Amerikaanse kant dus Hij zal zich niet tegen Amerika keren (zie Hoofdstuk 1). De precieze benaming van degene die de straf oplegt blijft in het midden op het gebruik van vage termen na, maar de boodschap is hetzelfde: spelen met goddelijke machten is ‘not done’, ook niet voor de natie die Gods zegen draagt. Hiertegenover plaatst het ‘altered human’ subgenre het individu dat gestraft wordt voor ‘playing God’: God wordt hier vrijwel altijd met name genoemd als de benadeelde die wraak neemt voor de zonde (zie het citaat uit The Fly). ‘Playing God’ levert hier een letterlijke straf van God op.
Hoewel God zelf zelden bij naam genoemd wordt in het ‘terrestrial creature’ subgenre, worden de monsters die de mensheid bedreigen in Bijbelse context getrokken, vooral verwijzend naar de Apocalyps. Een klassiek citaat uit Them! (USA: Gordon Douglas, 1954):

We may be witnesses to a Biblical prophecy come true: ‘And there shall be destruction and darkness come upon creation, and the beasts will reign over the earth.’

Dergelijke citaten worden frequent gebruikt in het subgenre. Zo maken deze films de omvang van de verwoesting die zulke wezens kunnen aanrichten duidelijk voor het Godvrezende Amerikaanse publiek door het in een context te plaatsen met de Dag des Oordeels. Niet voor niets komt een archetypische variatie op het ‘terrestrial creature’ vaak terug in het subgenre: de slang, het serpent, het reptiel, symbool voor het kwaad (o.a. in The Giant Behemoth (USA/UK: Eugène Lourié, 1959)8 en The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms (USA: Eugène Lourié, 1953)).9 Gelukkig laat de wetenschap (of misschien God) het niet werkelijk zo ver komen, maar de bedreiging voor de mensheid wordt onder krachtige verwoording gebracht.
Het Amerikaanse individu wordt wel direct door God gestraft, de Amerikaanse maatschappij niet. Niet voor niets is de straf tegen de samenleving in het ‘terrestrial creature’ subgenre slechts van tijdelijke aard, aangezien de wetenschap uiteindelijk altijd het middel geboden wordt de straf (de monsters) te vernietigen zodat ‘normality’ hervat kan worden (voorbeelden: Them!, The Beast from 20,000 Fathoms), terwijl de straf in het ‘altered human’ subgenre fataal is en de zondaar zijn transgressies met de dood moet bekopen (voorbeelden: 4D Man (USA: Irvin S. Yeaworth Jr, 1959), War of the Colossal Beast (USA: Bert I. Gordon, 1958)): ‘death takes him for looking upon the face of God’, zo omschrijft Lucanio dit thema.10 God vergeeft het collectief, maar nooit het individu, in het sciencefictiongenre.

De narratieve formule van de wetenschapper als Prometheus die voor zijn hoogmoed gestraft wordt door God is prominent in het ‘altered human’ subgenre en vormt het grootste deel van het subgenre. Er zijn echter enkele ‘altered human’ films die geen gebruik maken van deze formule en een andere verhaallijn hanteren, waarin ook de relatie met God anders ligt. In deze variatie op het thema wordt niet een wetenschapper, maar een doorsnee burger veranderd door krachten die hij/zij niet zelf in werking heeft gezet. Voorbeelden van dit afwijkende narratief zijn aan te treffen in onder andere Attack of the 50 Foot Woman (USA: Nathan Juran, 1958) en The Incredible Shrinking Man (USA: Jack Arnold, 1957).
De relatie tot het goddelijke wordt in dit type films minder besproken dan in de Prometheustekst. De vervormde protagonisten zien hun lot niet als veroorzaakt door de hand van God, maar als een onverklaarbaar fenomeen, dat mogelijk het werk van de wetenschap is (wat niet bewezen kan worden). In The Incredible Shrinking Man wordt de transformatie bijvoorbeeld veroorzaakt door een mysterieuze nucleaire nevel die over zee drijft en waar de hoofdpersoon mee in aanraking komt; de oorsprong van deze nevel wordt verder niet ter discussie gesteld. Aangezien deze personen hun lot niet opzettelijk over zichzelf hebben afgeroepen, in tegenstelling tot de wetenschappers in de rest van het subgenre, worden zij niet gestraft door God. Waar de wetenschappers hun verandering met de dood moeten bekopen, is dit voor de burgers in deze variatie vaak niet het geval.
Het belangrijkste thema dat dit type films aanspreekt is de relatie tussen het veranderde individu en de conformistische maatschappij. De maatschappij ziet de ‘altered human’ als een freak, een mogelijke bedreiging voor de conventies van ‘normality’. In dit thema is maatschappijkritiek op de conformistische Amerikaanse samenleving in de jaren vijftig te herkennen. De angst voor dergelijk conformisme was reëel in deze periode. Mark Jancovich legt uit dat

There was a deep-seated anxiety about social, politic, economic and cultural developments which led many to argue that America was becoming an increasingly homogeneous, conformist and totalitarian society; that the basis of individualism was being eroded: and that the possibility of resistance was disappearing.11

Het ‘altered human’ subgenre bekritiseert dit conformisme, door te stellen dat het individu dat zich niet conformeert naar de samenleving met argwaan wordt bekeken. Men dient zich te schikken naar de principes van de massa waardoor een ‘loss of self’ ontstaat: het individu mag zich niet ontwikkelen in een gewenste eigen richting. Echter, in het ‘altered human’ genre is de non-conformistische ontwikkeling niet gewenst door het individu, maar is sprake van een ongeluk. De samenleving, vooral de naaste omgeving, kan begrip opbrengen, maar als het veranderde individu een bedreiging vormt dient ermee afgerekend te worden zoals met elke andere bedreiging. De empathie van het publiek ligt echter bij de getransformeerde en niet bij de conformistische samenleving.

Na het ongeluk resulteert de positie van de veranderde in de existentiële vraag hoe hij/zij tegenover de maatschappij staat. Hier komt ook het religieuze aspect - indien aanwezig, want niet iedere film uit deze variatie betrekt religie in haar verhaallijn - bij kijken. Laten we The Incredible Shrinking Man als voorbeeld houden. In deze film komt de vraag naar de plaats van het individu, Scott Carey, het meest tot uiting, aangezien de veranderde in dit geval geen bedreiging is voor de maatschappij en er daardoor geen strijd losbarst hem te vernietigen voordat hij mensen doodt. Dit in tegenstelling tot die films waarbij de transformatie gigantisme als resultaat heeft waardoor er letterlijk ‘geen plaats is in de samenleving’ voor de ‘altered human’ (zoals in Attack of the 50 Foot Woman en War of the Colossal Beast. In The Incredible Shrinking Man blijft zijn begripvolle naaste omgeving Scott hoop bieden tot het eind toe (althans, tot het moment dat men meent dat hij opgegeten is door de kat). Het is Scott zelf die stelt dat er voor hem geen plaats is en die het hardst is in zijn oordeel over zijn relatie tot zijn directe omgeving:

I felt puny and absurd, a ludicrous midget. Easy enough to talk of soul and spirit and existential worth, but not when you're three feet tall. I loathed myself, our home, the caricature my life with Lou had become. I had to get out.

In dit citaat komt zijn relatie tot het hogere en ondoorgrondelijke (‘soul and spirit’) al tot uiting, maar de connectie met het goddelijke wordt pas op het eind gelegd. In de klassieke slotmonoloog brengt Scott zijn nieuwe positie tegenover God en het universum tot uitdrukking, en vindt hij vrede met zijn verandering, als hij krimpt tot in de oneindigheid:

I was continuing to shrink, to become... what? The infinitesimal? What was I? Still a human being? Or was I the man of the future? If there were other bursts of radiation, other clouds drifting across seas and continents, would other beings follow me into this vast new world? So close, the infinitesimal and the infinite. But suddenly, I knew they were really the two ends of the same concept. The unbelievably small and the unbelievably vast eventually meet - like the closing of a gigantic circle. I looked up, as if somehow I would grasp the heavens. The universe, worlds beyond number, God's silver tapestry spread across the night. And in that moment, I knew the answer to the riddle of the infinite. I had thought in terms of man's own limited dimension. I had presumed upon nature. That existence begins and ends is man's conception, not nature's. And I felt my body dwindling, melting, becoming nothing. My fears melted away. And in their place came acceptance. All this vast majesty of creation, it had to mean something. And then I meant something, too. Yes, smaller than the smallest, I meant something, too. To God, there is no zero. I still exist! [my emphasis]

Scott begrijpt dat, hoewel dit niet geldt voor de conformistische en daardoor beperkte menselijke samenleving, God alles accepteert voor wat het is (hoe groot of klein ook). In deze kijk op de relatie tot het goddelijke vindt Scott verlichting en betekenis. The Incredible Shrinking Man is de enige ‘altered human’ film die deze blik op God hanteert, en vormt zo een uitzondering in een subgenre waarin God doorgaans gezien wordt als wraakzuchtig en waarin Hij transgressies afstraft, maar in dit geval barmhartig is en het veranderde individu verlossing schenkt door hem in eenheid met het universum te brengen.12

1 Brosnan 1978: p. 95
2 Baxter, John. Science fiction in the cinema. New York: A.S. Barnes & Co., 1970: p. 138
3 Lucanio 1987: p. 44
4 Kane geciteerd in: Sobchack, Vivian Carol. The limits of infinity: the American science fiction film 1950-75. New Jersey: A.S. Burnes and Co. Inc., 1980: p. 46
5 Sobchack 1980: p. 47
6 Lucanio 1987: p. 46
7 Lucanio 1987: p. 89
8 De titel van deze film verwijst op zichzelf al naar de Bijbel, naar de ‘Behemoth’, het grootste monster ooit.
9 Lucanio 1987: p. 55
10 Lucanio 1987: p. 105
11 Jancovich 1996: p. 22
12 The Incredible Shrinking Man wordt door alle critici die het ‘altered human’ subgenre bespreken als meesterwerk beschouwd, terwijl de andere films uit de hier besproken variant van het subgenre verguisd worden als matige, oppervlakkige B-films. Als zodanig is deze film niet alleen een uitzonderlijke film in mijn corpus, maar in het gehele subgenre. Hoewel ik niet alle films uit het ‘altered human’ subgenre gezien heb (hoofdzakelijk vanwege beschikbaarheid), kan ik met zekerheid zeggen dat The Incredible Shrinking Man de enige film uit het subgenre is die deze kijk op de relatie tussen God en het individu bespreekt. Als zodanig vond ik niet dat de film, hoe summier beschreven dan ook, in deze scriptie mocht ontbreken.

zondag 25 augustus 2013

Today's Review: The Mortal Instruments: City of Bones

Here's another one of them review thingies I did for the folks at MovieScene:

Suffice to say, City of Bones gave me no boner. It's simply too much of a formulaic movie doing whatever you expect from a formulaic movie, especially where it concerns the lack of being at all interesting. It's a real shame, considering the abundance of good, capable actors, even of the teen variety. I doubt this film will do what Twilight did - drawing excessive numbers of teenage girls to the cinema - and I don't lament it, but I mostly see a waste of talent here, both in terms of acting and in terms of the art department which also did a solid job. Oh well, it's not the first disappointing movie of the year. Not that I had particularly high hopes for this one.

zondag 18 augustus 2013

Today's News: Kosinski goes to... the Twilight Zone

Hot off MovieScene:

You can't keep a good idea down. I'm currently still working my way through the classic Twilight Zone series (just started Season 4 with its eerie one-hour episodes) and I continue to be amazed by some of the mindblowing stories they got away with in the early Sixties. Granted, there's a fair share of not so intriguing or even downright boring episodes too, but show me an episodic television series that does not suffer from the occasional yawner. Considering the series has been rebooted twice and made into a movie as well, it's not surprising it would crop up again sooner or later. Every generation needs its own Twilight Zone. Okay, we had one only ten years ago but that lasted only one season so apparently it wasn't very good (I intend to watch it someday to judge for myself though), but in this day and age where television has outdone feature films in terms of quality and popularity, we can do better. And hopefully we will. Few will disagree The Twilight Zone works best as a television series, but I'm not averse to the idea of another big screen adaptation either (preferably one without horrible helicopter accidents this time), but to present only a single story sounds like a mistake, unless it's a really good one. Though the notion of stuffing it with references to Rod Serling's other classic stories is a fascinating one, I can only see it work as a way of pleasing the fans while potentially confusing the general audience. I much prefer the route of telling multiple stories and interweaving them to only a minor extent á la Sin City, briefly connecting but not getting in each other's way more than needs be. As for the director, Joseph Kosinski is neither the best nor the worst pick (though I would rather have seen Matt Reeves picking up this project). He has shown to have some affinity for telling intricate stories with hardcore Sci-Fi ideas (not that The Twilight Zone is a science fiction show per se, as it also incorporates various other genres), but both Tron: Legacy and especially Oblivion suffered from flaws in execution. Whether that was the case because of flawed writing or studio interference remains unclear, but I'm willing to cut Kosinski some slack. After all, though both of the films he directed were big budget action flicks, he's still a fairly inexperienced director and he may just need a bit more seasoning. Third time is the charm perhaps? We'll have to wait and see, but as long as they stick close to Serling's original writing (which really requires little improvement), it's hard to go wrong entirely.

And now for another week of vacation. But not in... the Twilight Zone. Dum-dum-dum-dum, dum-dum-dum-dum, dum-dum-dum-dum. Be sure to try Oasis,