Red Dwarf X

Strictly speaking not a film, but this year Santa brought me Red Dwarf X, on DVD. I escaped from the clutches of my family and fell into the pit of Cats/Gundarks at home and had to watch the DVD.

Having seen Red Dwarf from season I onwards, I was intrigued as to how it was going to go, as I was less than impressed with series 7 (meh), 8 (meh) and Back to Earth (ommmm).

Well this series does seem to be a return to form in terms of script, and dialogue. Many Rimmerisms surface (m’laddo) with out being forced as do the Cat’s mannerisms from the first few series, especially the physical ones. Lister is a bit over dressed in leathers but he’s still a pleasant slob. Kryten is pedantic and wound up as usual, only a small niggle that sometimes his prostehtics/makeup around his eyes looks a little green.

The first episode: Trojan is good, though it doesn’t explain why the ship was abandoned. The data freeze Arnold, Howard and the simulant suffer is hilarious (and I wonder when the simulant is going to return, she was good). Fathers and Suns was good overall though the plot did a sudden lurch half way through. Lemons allegedly the best episode left me a bit cold, it was fine, but well, I think other episodes were better as did Entangled which was saved by really really good performances by Cat/Kryten.Dear Dave was really good, with Rimmer discovering his past but maintaining his weasely self. The final episode The Beginning had some good scence, and as they commented in the making, some of those scenes had none of the Red Dwarf crew in them for the first time. I’ll be watching that one again.

The production values are high. Not convinced by the amount of green screen in the bunk room that seems to happen, but the rest of the SFX are good.

Overall, a good return to form, 4/5, not the best but certainly a keeper and repeat watch !
I hope they get series XI commissioned.

Smoke me a kipper, I’ll be back for breakfast (or at least another blog roll entry tomorrow wrt Xmashammer 2012.)

Film: Total Recall

Just been to see the remake of the film Total Recall.

Stop reading now if you havent seen it as there are spoilers below.

I was expecting a mildly entertaining action movie that could have been entitled “Total Remake”, but I was pleasantly surprised by it. I like the original Total Recall film, and like some of the cheesy humour it has in it.

The first and obvious points to note are that the: background is totally different; and the technology is radically more advanced. However, the basic plot is there.

In fact the second point is often unnoticed these days. The science fiction from pretty much the 1980’s and before has been over taken in many ways. Ok, we don’t have warp drives or stuff, but the day to day computing technology is way in advance, and the use of hand held digital phones, PDAs, tracking devices and so on are unrecognisable with yesterday’s science fiction.

The background is very different – it’s not set on Mars. The colony is now the remains of Australia (Freemantle IIRC). There is a lot of back story that doesn’t get a lot of air time and I’d hope any DVD pack would fill us in on some of this, but it basically seems a series of NBC wars have rendered habitable areas limited. So there is a struggle between the United Federation of Britain, and the Colony with Quaid/Hauser the double agent which matches the first film.

There was at least one blatant hat tip to the original film, which I won’t spoil for you, but did make me want to laugh, and the high proportion of Asiatic culture was also a h/t to both Blade Runner and Firefly, but also a healthy dose of Russian/East European culture as well.

The SFX were good, and whilst some of the protracted sequences were a bit wearing, they were interspersed with a goodly dose of scenes driven by dialogue and proper acting (Bill Nighy criminally under used). There were only a couple of points when I wanted to slap the main protagonists[*] – NO YOU DO NOT WAIT TO HAVE A SMOOCH AT THE END OF A NEAR ESCAPE WHEN THE EVIL PERSON IS WATCHING YOU AND CAN PROBABLY SHOOT YOU. Quite by co-incidence today’s Torygraph has a good article about how Hollywood’s obsession with SFX is detrimental to the overall film making experience. I prefer films with good dialogue, a decent plausible plot, good acting over and above a violent adrenaline rush of chases and explosions. This is why I like films like The Big Sleep, Schindlers List and so on that contain few if any action scenes and/or SFX.

Minor annoyance, the evil troops are ‘synthetics’…robots…and bear more than a passing resemblance to Star Wars’ Stormtroopers.

Apart from the evil evil evil one that is the bodyguard to Cohaagen…(think The Black Hole…)

I think we’ve moved on a bit from there.

This remake I think was a good one – not the best – but certainly worthy of lasting attention. I may be wrong, but I think I’ll get the DVD for further watching if I can’t catch it in the cinema again. Thinking about it, its like comparing the original series of BSG, with the remake. Each has its +/-s, each is unique, and each is enjoyable for those reasons.

I also recommend getting VIP seats in cinemas. Have been in them three times now, and the whole experience is much better. Being a tall guy, I need the leg room, don’t want to crane my neck upwards etc…ok I’m getting picky in my old age…bah humbug…

One thing that did shock me though, and it has nothing to do with the film, was the large number of clearly under-age children in the cinema. This is not a gross out film by any means (sexually, linguistically or in terms of violence), but it really is not suitable for kids who looked no more than 8.

[*] Whereas within 15 minutes of watching Speilberg/Cruise’s remake of “War of the Worlds” I wanted the entire family to die very very quickly. Painfully.