Monthly Archives: June 2016

When You Have No Clue about a Franchise and Enjoy the Movie Everyone Else is Hating

The majority of you are probably aware that Independence Day: Resurgence is currently playing in theaters. It is the sequel to the 1996 blockbuster Independence Day and once again features the good ol’ US of A pitted against fearsome alien invaders who want to mine the Earth’s core. Here’s the thing, though–I haven’t watched Independence Day yet, and I didn’t want to see Resurgence for that very reason. Movies are supposed to be watched in order, people! We must have standards and rules if we don’t want chaos to descend! Watching movies out of order is two steps away from anarchy!

Ahem. Sorry about that. Once I got over my initial hangups, I found that I enjoyed the movie. I didn’t know about a lot of the characters at first, but I figured things out about them from context. On the whole I found it to be an intriguing story that hinted at a deeper, more richly layered backstory, and it got me even more excited to watch the original.

Needless to say, I developed quite a bit of confusion when I began seeing a plethora of reviews tearing it to shreds, asking questions like, “We waited 20 years for this?” Basically, most of the articles I’ve seen on it have been saying it’s a horrible sequel with terrible acting and lousy writing, and I’m over here like, “But…but I liked it. I thought it was good.” Granted, my opinion of it may change after I watch the original, but I still thought it was a fun mishmash of war movies and science fiction.

Or maybe this is all just a lesson in you can’t always believe what the critics have to say about a movie. Sometimes you just have to watch things for yourself and form your own opinion.


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“Jurassic Park” is a Book with Bite

Last year was when I watched all of the Jurassic Park movies for the first time, which was a bit unusual for me because I normally read the book first. However, I didn’t read it until last week. Part of me is kind of glad I didn’t read it before the movie because chances are I wouldn’t have enjoyed it as much (I’m one of those people who nitpicks about changes made from book to movie, in case you didn’t already know from my Hobbit and Les Miserables reviews).

There wasn’t a whole lot changed from the book, though; it’s the same basic premise of, “Hey, look, we cloned dinosaurs and put them in a park; isn’t it neat?” and three hours later everyone is on the carnivores’ menu. There were minor deviations that didn’t affect the overall plot; the most noticeable changes were that Lex and Tim’s ages were reversed, Grant and Sattler were most certainly not in a relationship, and both Hammond and Malcolm are dead by the end of the book. They kept them alive in the movie for the sequel, I suppose, although I think I remember reading that The Lost World was already a book before they adapted it, and they never fully explained how Malcolm was in that when he was supposed to be buried in the first one. Or maybe I’m thinking of something else entirely.

I liked the book’s pacing better than the movie’s–it was a nice, medium pace, not too fast and not too slow, and there was more time to flesh out details that didn’t get as much attention in the movie. Also–and this is probably a weird observation–but there was something about the book that felt more intellectual than what the movie was like. I’m not sure if that makes any sense or not, but that was the impression I received.

Overall, I think both the book and the movie were well done, and it’s not often you can find a movie that lives up to its book.

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Some Thoughts on “Doctor Who: Paradise Towers”

Late 80’s Doctor Who is a curious creature. It’s full of stories that had good premises but didn’t always have the execution to back it up. Part of it was due to the budget restrictions that always plagued the show (Colin Baker once commented that the special effects budget for one Star Wars movie would have paid for an entire season’s worth of special effects for Doctor Who), but it’s important to remember that this was a time when the BBC was actively trying to kill the show. So when watching some of the 80’s serials, you have to try to avoid being too critical with them; you usually have to look past the flaws in production and/or acting and see what they were trying to do with the story.

This is the case with “Paradise Towers”, a serial from 1987 starring Sylvester McCoy as the Doctor and Bonnie Langford as Mel. Mel fancies going for a swim, and as the Doctor has jettisoned the TARDIS swimming pool, he offers to take Mel to Paradise Towers, which is supposed to have one of the nicest pools around. When they arrive, however, they find a broken-down, gang-ridden apartment complex instead of the luxurious Towers they were expecting. The Towers are run by the Nazi-like Caretakers (the Chief Caretaker even sports a little Hitler-style mustache); the Kangs (the all-girl gangs) try to stay one step ahead of them, and the Rezzies (the residents, which include a couple of cannibalistic old ladies) are often caught in the middle of their struggles. But a new threat is arising and threatening all of them, and the Doctor and Mel must convince these three warring classes to put aside their differences and work together for the preservation of the Towers…

…which, in theory, sounds like an intriguing premise. If the infamous “Vengeance on Varos” proved anything, it’s that Doctor Who could still do depressing, dystopian futures really well in spite of all of the other problems the show was facing. However, the heavy 80’s feel to it, especially with the Kangs’ hair, fashion, and slang, seemed a bit embarrassing for the show. I understood the culture they were trying to portray, but it came across a bit contrived.

I couldn’t do a post on “Paradise Towers” without mentioning Pex, the once-cowardly soldier who gave his life to protect the other inhabitants of the Towers. One of the things the Doctor always likes to do is to take someone who thinks he is a nobody and prove that he is really a somebody, and I think Pex’s story arc reflects that aspect very well. Pex never would have died a hero if the Doctor and Mel hadn’t believed in him and given him confidence, and I like to think that ties in with the fact that the Doctor and his companions, whoever they are, spread hope wherever they travel.

Final conclusion: you may have to look past the 80’s–erhm–specialness of this one, folks, but if you manage that, you’ll find an enjoyable installment of classic Who.

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