Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Total Recalled

How come I never hear about things until well after the fact?

For those who didn't click the link above (and probably some who did) let me elucidate: They are remaking Total Recall!

Why they are doing this is not really a secret. In short, fewer people are paying $13.00 a ticket to watch movies in room full of inconsiderate people, fewer people are buying Low-Def DVDs to watch on their High-Def TVs, and even fewer people are buying overpriced DRM protected locked BDs (Can anyone say "Netflix"?).

So Hollywood is turtling into the realm of 'Safe' movies (i.e. remakes, low budget productions, etc.). And what could be safer than remaking a successful movie. And that's not all, it's one of the most successful of the many adaptations of Philip K. Dick's writings. For the record, these other adaptations are Blade Runner (1982), Screamers (1995), Total Recall 2070 (1999 TV Series), Imposter (2002), Minority report (2002), Paycheck (2003), A Scanner Darkly (2006), and The Adjustment Bureau (2011). Also in the works are a Blade Runner Sequel and a Prequel.

Will I go see it? That is question that I can't answer yet.

Interestingly, it seems that Colin Farrell didn't get enough of a taste of (P. K.) Dick. Previously he played a fatally naive detective on Minority Report, opposite Tom Cruise. I just don't know how successful they will be replacing an Austrian Oak with an Irish Twig.

Be sure to check out the picture of the flying car prop over on the Wikipedia page.

P.s. Somebody please pick up the Lone Ranger project! So typical to cut a potentially good film when the crappy one you just made bombs at the box office Smiley

Sunday, September 11, 2011

Oldie, But Far From Classic

Book Review - Whipping Star by Frank Herbert

Every so often I manage to attend the yearly book sale at my local library. Last year I just happened to notice the sign while driving by. . .

Fifty cents (CDN) for a hardcover is a very good price, assuming you can find something you like.

One of the books from my haul last year was Whipping Star by Frank Herbert. Now I admit that the last thing I read by Mr. Herbert was Dune. And that was over a decade ago. What I remember is that the book was kinda obtuse and overly dense. Of course, I was seventeen at the time that I read that tome.

Despite my first impression of Herbert's writing, I bought this novel.

Or perhaps novelette would be a more apt description. The first thing I noticed when I picked up the book was that it was quite thin. Opening the book revealed rather large font. Font almost large enough for the elderly to read.

That being said, it felt kind of refreshing to read a story that wasn't plumped up 500% like many books being written today.


The Empire was built on a gift from a mysterious alien race, a gift that allows instantaneous transport to any place in the universe. Now the last member of the alien race is being slowly tortured to death by a madwoman and it soon becomes clear that once the alien dies anyone who has ever transported will wink out of existence. . . and no-one is known to have not transported.


My first impression of the writing was that it was amateurish. While reading those first few pages I surmised that this must be one of Herbert's early works. So I looked up some dates on the internet to confirm this idea, but alas, I was wrong. 1945 appears to be when his first short story was published. 1963 was when Dune appeared. 1970 is when the book form of whipping star was published (apparently a shorter version was published in Worlds of If Science Fiction the year before). I think it's safe to assume that Whipping Star was written to keep Herbert's pot of water boiling.

One thing that intrigued me was Herbert's invention called the Bureau of Sabotage, although it was not fully developed in this short work. In fact it mostly came across as just another government agency.

Herbert also created some cool alien names in this book which mostly offset the negative aspects of the Law of Alien Names. Despite this, the names match up to some pretty average aliens. That's not to say that there isn't some experimentation, especially with the eponymous race (what you couldn't figure that one out from the title?). At least, should a movie ever be made from this story, the aliens couldn't all be played by people with rubber masks.

The main character reads very much like an ethnologist from the 1960's. I picture him as a burly man wearing flannel, arrogant and full of bluster (pretty much exactly like this guy). His ethos is characterized by an oblivious humano-centrism, much as real ethnologists from the mid twentieth century were ignorant of their Euro-centrism. Central to this attitude is also the belief that everything can be understood (usually with only casual observation). Typical of literature from this period, this attitude is always correct and successful.

One last thing - I don't normally condone vandalising library books, but. . .

Rating: **.5/5

Wednesday, September 7, 2011

Hanna (2011)

Okay, not SF. Maybe fantasy if you take that word at its base meaning.

Whatever, I'm going to review Hanna anyway.

This could have been a good movie. At times it actually is a great movie. However, bad pacing and plot holes bring this one down.

Unfortunately for a 'thriller', this one starts out slow, without a hook, and continues in this rut for far too long. On its own, the opener wouldn't be such a bad movie. One I might not watch, but not bad. Does it fit where it is? Not so much.

Then the narrative finally switches and it seems that we get the movie that was advertised.

But the action is short lived. We then get a fish out of water story not unlike the movie Nell. Oh, there's also a bit of a lesbian romance.

Eventually the bad guys catch up with Hanna and there is a brief flash of excitement. Hanna totally outclasses these thugs, yet she opts to jump in the river rather than finish the bad guys off and rescue the family that has been helping her. The movie dishonestly leaves the fate of the family off camera. However, everyone else that encounters the bad guys meet gruesome ends and it is unlikely that the family would have escaped a similar end.

From here it's all downhill. The only gun seen (and used) belongs to the main antagonist which works quite well for her until Hanna remembers how to use it.

Ultimately this movie revels in a bleak, masochistic view of the world and offers little entertainment in return. I recommend last year's Kick-Ass over this movie.

Rating: **/5