Saturday, June 30, 2012

Random Movie Report #107: The Mysterians

Mysterians DVD cover

There's a lot going on in The Mysterians. On a surface level, it's notable as the prototype for nearly all of Toho's alien invasion epics, setting up a number of familiar visual and aural tropes that would recur for over a decade. But it's also an interesting look at Japan's place in a postwar world and the atomic age, with issues raised both intentionally and not ranging from atomic devastation to racial anxiety to the curious way war advances technology. Subtext in and of itself doesn't make a movie good or bad, but fortunately The Mysterians is also a fun and well-crafted story with a neat atmosphere that's just slightly askew from the company's other entries in the subgenre. Any film with a giant robot mole in it isn't entirely playing by normal rules.

Friday, June 29, 2012

Random Who Report: Planet of the Spiders (1974)

DVD cover and Amazon link

The Doctors' final stories tended to be ambitious undertakings, and Pertwee's definitely follows in that tradition. "Planet of the Spiders" is not only the last of the third Doctor's adventures and a semi-sequel to "The Green Death" from a season ago, but also a trippy Buddhist allegory about death and rebirth. It has a lot on its plate and is kinda disjointed as a result, but pulls itself together at the end to provide a fitting send-off for the actor who had, up to that point, played the character of the Doctor longer than anyone else.

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

In Theaters: Prometheus

Prometheus movie poster.
Poster via

Prometheus is the rare spectacle that allows itself room to breathe. An ambitious science fiction thriller which deliberately "precedes" director Ridley Scott's Alien, Prometheus also echoes masterpieces like Forbidden Planet and even 2001, and even if it falls short of those lofty heights it's a refreshingly thoughtful movie. If Alien was pure terror, Prometheus is more the danger and excitement of heading into the unknown. It's a movie where what waits at the end of the universe isn't very friendly at all, but there's still a thrill in uncovering it.

Friday, June 22, 2012

Live Tonight! An Evening of Audio Theater

Zombies! Dogs! Romance! Bigfoot!

At 7:30 Central Time (that's 8:30 eastern, etc.), the National Audio Theater Workshop for 2012 will present their end product, a 2-hour evening of radio theater, live from the West Plains Civic Center here in southern Missouri.

We will be on local radio, but for those not in the area, the National Audio Theater Festivals web page will be streaming it live as it happens. The link is not on their page right now as I post this, but it will be come showtime.

The work will feature the voice acting of such veterans as the Firesign Theatre's Phil Proctor and David Ossman, and audiobook luminary Barbara Rosenblatt, as well as amateur participants from all over the world. (Translation: one of them is from England.)

The plays:

  • "The Last Broadcast", a brutal horror epic featuring a zombie invasion at the doorstep of a local radio station.
  • "September, September", a touching romance between a teacher and an older man unsure of commitment.
  • "Workshop 101", written by the Workshop's freshman class- this year, the story of a struggling farmer, a wealthy developer, and a giant apelike creature named MoMo.
  • "On The Internet, Nobody Knows You're A Dog", a raucous comedy about a family and the dogs who secretly run their lives.
Tune in! Enjoy! Tell your friends! I'll be telling mine!

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

RIP Ray Bradbury

There's not a lot I can say about Ray Bradbury that others haven't, but I feel compelled to talk anyway. He was a hero of mine, and probably is my single favorite writer. In truth he's a great example for anyone who writes, who wants to write, who thinks of the whole writing thing.

Wednesday, June 06, 2012

In Theaters: Battleship

Battleship movie poster
Poster via

The sad irony of Battleship is that it would probably be doing just a little bit better- or at least receive a little more goodwill- if it weren't named after a board game in an attempt to create profitable corporate synergy. The same public that had no problems patronizing the Marvel Studios uber-franchise or a live-action Smurfs movie have drawn their line in the sand, and a film based on a boardgame is a step too far no matter how good or bad it is.

But hear me out on this. It's actually pretty good. However cynically calculated the initial boardroom meetings that produced this movie may have been, at some point director Peter Berg and writers Erich and Jon Hoeber (as well as any others who may have been involved) and the rest of the filmmakers decided to actually try and make a good, sincere sci-fi/war movie based on the simple premise of the Navy fighting aliens, and their efforts paid off. Battleship works on a simple but satisfying level, and it has the important lesson that you shouldn't judge a film by its premise.