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Month: April 2017

MST3K – Episode 1104 – Avalanche

MST3K – Episode 1104 – Avalanche

Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 1104, Reel One

Continuing on with the new season of MST3K on Netflix. I’m a little behind on writing these (viewing-wise I’m actually on episode 1108 now), but I’ll try my best to catch up before I continue on with the watch. So far, and I’m speaking as a MSTie from the original Comedy Channel days, way way back in the show’s first season, I really dig the new iteration of this show. It continues to be one of the funniest and most subversive shows out there, and much of the spirit of the show, the stuff that I found hilarious and charming in the original, has been retained. I do love that many of the riffs are now current (though, they were current when I watched the previous seasons the first time), and I’m so proud of Jonah Ray taking the reins as the hapless human trapped on the Satellite of Love.

But I’m here to talk about Avalanche, the 4th episode in MST3K’s 11’s season. Let’s go. You know the drill. There’s a read-more and then you click on it and there’s gonna be a bunch of random stuff I liked and disliked about the episode, through bullet points

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MST3K – Episode 1103 – Time Travelers

MST3K – Episode 1103 – Time Travelers

Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 1103, Reel One

It’s so hard to binge-watch this show, you guys. I mean, back in the Comedy Channel/Comedy Central/Sci-Fi Channel days of the show, I’d just watch the episode once a week live, while taping it on my VCR, and then if I found the episode entertaining enough I’d watch it more than once. Some of the episodes have been emblazoned into my subconscious just as strongly as early Simpsons episodes. King Dinosaur is an underrated gem and still one of my favorites, with lots of riffs sticking in my head because I used to watch that dang episode over and over. Now, with the Internet, it’s a lot easier to bring up and rewatch certain¬†bits I remember from absorbing the show back in the day. But…I’ve had 17 years of living with the first 10 seasons, picking and choosing and remembering all the weird stuff that made me laugh.

So it’s hard to absorb an entire season’s worth of MST3K in a single weekend. Of course, it doesn’t help that each episode is 90 minutes long. I think my brain is just not built for taking in this much data at once. At most, I think I can just about handle two or three episodes a week. I’ll probably slow down to two a week at this rate.

Anyway, Time Travelers, amirite?

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Random thoughts from a rando – Part 2(?)

Random thoughts from a rando – Part 2(?)

  • I finished the first Tomb Raider game (I mean, the first from the Square Enix reboot that came out in 2013) and while I adored the story and the gameplay, the camera was always triggering my motion sickness by forcing me to look one way while I want to look at another. Look, I’ve been playing video games since the Atari 2600. I played Horizon Zero Dawn which I had no real problems with (other than when the day/night cycle hit and I couldn’t see where the hell I was going so I was swinging the camera all over the place and had to basically wait for sunrise to come so I could see again and my sense of direction wouldn’t get so freaked out.) I never got disoriented when I was playing Uncharted, so I don’t know what the big issue is with these open world action games. I think also that Tomb Raider made gratuitous use of simulated shaky-cam during the cut-scenes which didn’t exactly help with my motion sickness. I’m not even sure if I want to platinum Tomb Raider anyway, so I’m now seeking out the next game to play. Perhaps Nier: Automata, Persona 5, or the HD remasters of the Kingdom Hearts games. Maybe. Not sure yet. I want something more RPG-ish anyway.
  • I’m still terribly excited over MST3K coming back, but I’m not sure when I’d be able to finish up the entire season. This is a show that shouldn’t be binged. It should be savored, sipped like a fine whiskey.
  • I did a horrifically stupid thing over the weekend and attempted to eat some of that incredibly spicy Korean chicken noodle concoction from the Youtube Spicy Noodles Challenge and I covered my experience on my Instagram Story, but here’s a taste:

  • I realized too late that I was supposed to drain the liquid from the noodles after cooking, but for reals, I don’t think it would have helped. The flavor profile from these noodles was surprisingly sweet? I think that was meant to be a bit of the chicken flavor? But it was sweet, savory, and spicy, but it wasn’t killing my tastebuds. It was actually quite edible and tasty and not that spicy, but it was more of a slow burn that I could see as potentially. It wasn’t nearly as bad as I had suspected. Then I drank a bit of the broth and my stomach finally decided enough was enough. All the noodles came back up in a glorious waterfall of instant ramen terribleness. Never again.
MST3K – Show 1101 – Reptillicus

MST3K – Show 1101 – Reptillicus

Mystery Science Theater 3000, Show 1101, Reel One

Y’all, it’s back.

I’ve been dealing with some personal drama over the weekend, which has made my heart ache both literally and figuratively, but rather than feel sorry for myself, I decided to watch the new premiere episode of MST3K because I had donated enough money to their Kickstarter to have advance access to the first episode. It’s bizarre how often MST3K has popped into my life whenever life started to beat me over the head with awfulness, and reminded me that yes, you can still laugh at goofy things. All of the episodes will be available on Netflix this Friday, and I for one, cannot wait.

I did have some reservations about the revival of the show, because reboots and revivals have all too often sucked, but Joel Hodgson was at the forefront of bringing the show back, and having MST3K’s creator spearhead its return made me feel that it would be in good hands. From what I’ve seen in the first episode, the show is in extremely good hands. Joel’s definitely still a guiding force behind the show, but it does feel like he’s handing the show over to the next generation of folks who’ll take the basic concept and add their own spin to it. I’m reminded that Joel once said that he looked to something like Doctor Who as a template for a long running show that’s still relevant today. Like Doctor Who, the return of MST3K feels a lot sleeker than its older version, but it’s still the same show, just updated for the modern day.

Everything still had a homemade feel, and I loved the look of all the miniature work. Believe me, there are a lot of practical effects in the show, and it looks so great in HD, versus the older video masters that MST3K were recorded on…17 years ago? The last episode aired in 1999 so…that’s almost 18 years now. Yikes. No wonder everything looks so pretty now.

I have a lot to say about MST3K, but I don’t wish to spoil the first episode, so the rest of this post will be behind a cut:

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Ghost in the Shell (2017)

Ghost in the Shell (2017)

So, even with the whitewashing controversy surrounding the new live-action Ghost in the Shell movie, I went to see it anyway because as a fan of the original franchise, I’m kind of a completionist when it comes to GITS. Also, I figure that any criticism I have about the new movie should be informed criticism, which meant that I actually had to watch the movie and not rely on Internet think pieces.

I went into the theater prepared to be disappointed. I came out of the movie wondering who, exactly, was this movie made for? Was it for me, the hardcore GITS fan who would pick up all the references to the original franchise? Because, the script felt like they took a bunch of set pieces, scenes, and dialogue from the 1995 original movie, the anime series Stand Alone Complex, and even the direct to DVD prequel series ARISE, stuck all those references in a blender and decided to film the results. But, the film wasn’t made for a hardcore fan like me, because I would not have pictured Motoko Kusanagi as ScarJo. Plus, the film doesn’t go deep enough into the questions of identity and post-humanism. It just felt like a bunch of missed opportunities in between some cool action scenes. If the movie was made for the casual movie-goer, then it failed in being a crowd-pleasing actioner, because of its cerebral roots. It does still touch on the questions of humanity in an increasingly technological world, but not in a satisfactory way. Or, at least, satisfactorily enough for me. It was a primer to the world of GITS, I suppose, an open door through which the curious might, if they wished, explore the franchise properly.

But, again, this assumes that the film was made for the casual movie-goer in mind, but it doesn’t feel like that.

Was it the worst thing to have ever assaulted my eyeballs? Nope, not by a longshot, and often the best thing about the film is the visual aesthetics. Plus, I was quite pleased to see that Section 9’s team is a bit more diverse than in the anime version. The Major’s team, in the anime, consists of an all-male group. The live-action version gives the team a bit more diversity, with a female member of the squad (yay!) who is a WOC (yay!) and has the hacking and gun skills to make her a valuable part of the team. While this meant that one of my favorite characters from the anime, Ishikawa, an older, bearded hacker who does most of the tech stuff, wouldn’t get as much screentime, I’m all for a more diverse squad. And Togusa still has his revolver, Saito is still an ace sniper with a cyber-eye, and Batou’s relationship with the Major is still the deepest one in the narrative. I’m quite pleased that many of the details I liked about the original are still there in the live-action version. Batou’s soft spot for animals, and dogs in particular, for example, and the Major’s strange need to go deep sea diving. And the climactic finale where the Major goes toe to toe with the spider-tank, (spoiler) tearing her arm off in the process. Those kinds of visceral connections to the original, I liked.

And I’m sure they wished to switch up some of the Major’s backstory just so hardcore fans would be surprised with some of the plot, but it all just felt a little trite, and…actually kind of insulting. Major Mira Killian (Killian, really) is actually a young anti-technology activist named….Motoko Kusanagi, who was kidnapped and experimented on and was turned into this state of the art weapon. Which would’ve been a great backstory if they actually went through with showing the Major’s struggles to come to grips with her past.¬†All that really happens is (spoiler) she tracks down her real mother (who automatically recognizes her because….moms? Or the cat recognizes her? Or….what?) and they have an instant rapport. I don’t know, it just seemed weird that a Japanese woman would immediately welcome this strange white woman into her apartment. The Major doesn’t even mention what she’s looking for. Her mother just….knows.I suppose we could argue that her mom recognized her daughter’s ghost right away. It….it just feels a bit too mystical in a movie where technology rules the world.

All of this pales, of course, in comparison to the fact that the Major was literally whitewashed for no good reason other than to have ScarJo play her. Hanka Robotics could’ve stuck Motoko’s brain into any sort of body they wished. Motoko is literally a Japanese woman in a white body and they don’t entirely address the degree of dysphoria that that kind of situation would bring up. Yes, they erased her memories of who she was, but the very fact that she’s trying to uncover her past should’ve been a gateway to a deeper exploration of race and identity, on top of the post-humanism. But the movie never goes there.

And finally, I’m a little irked that the movie managed to shoehorn a love story (of a kind) into the plot, with villain Kuze actually being Motoko’s significant other Hideo. In Stand Alone Complex, Motoko and Hideo Kuze do still share a past, but they were both children who received cyborg bodies after accidents. Motoko, as a young girl who is already cyberized and getting used to her robot body, serves as a kind of counterpoint to Hideo, who lost most of the control of his body but refused to become cyberized because a robot body still wouldn’t have the fine motor control required to fold paper cranes. Eventually, the two children bond through their shared attempts at origami, and once the young Motoko is able to fold paper cranes herself, Hideo is willing to undergo the cyberization process. It’s a little off-putting (at least to me) that this sweet little moment (and initially a medical breakthrough of enormous proportions) was co-opted and transformed in the movie into a corporation’s need to create better, deadlier soldiers and doing illegal experiments to make that happen. I suppose the anime posits a technological world where enhancing bodies is inherently a good thing that is used for evil, whereas the live-action movie shows a world where the tech is inherently evil and Section 9 must use that tech for good.

Perhaps I wanted too much out of the live-action movie, but I also know that the rest of the franchise is still out there and the movie doesn’t change that. Ghost in the Shell still exists, and in my mind, it’s still awesome. And once again, like so many other adaptations before it, the live action version is just not as good.