Wednesday, 26 February 2014

New Blu-rays

Never let it be said my tastes are focused just on the blockbusters nor on the cheap creature features despite what the postie delivered today:)

Sunday, 23 February 2014

Favourite Bikini

Not for me to wear you understand just that over the years a bikini kinda hits all the right notes and in both cases they are nothing to do with a fashion show or porn just normal movie and tv offerings. Looking at these side by side and obviously years apart it may be that I just have a thing for shocking pink and if that's the case well who knew:)
Geena Davis in Earth Girls Are Easy

Lesley-Ann Brandt in Killer Women



The Folded World

The Folded World by Jeff Mariotte is the latest novel in my resurgence of interest with the original Star Trek series stories which I grew up reading first from the James Blish era and right up to the latest breed of authors who are tackling the adventures of the NCC1701. The Folded World tells the story of the Enterprise while on route to the homeworld of the Ixtoldans encounters a spatial anomaly which has trapped a number of space ships including the USS McRaven which was also making the trip to the ceremonies intended to seal the incorporation of Ixtoldan into the Federation. The ambassadors on board the Enterprise pressure Kirk to ignore the anomaly and any rescue attempt as they believe the official ceremony is too important to their world and future for Federation representation to be absent. However Kirk as you would expect will not abandon any Federation ship and her crew and once they figure out how to breach the anomaly two shuttles are dispatched and the investigation begins.
The novel was published on April the 30th 2013 and is available as a paperback and ebook, I actually bought the paperback since the price differential did not make any sense to buy the ebook. It's a flaw in the pricing which at least to me seems to indicate a much lower profit margin on the physical media than the electronic so I'll pay a few pence more to own the book rather than a few hundred kilobytes of data.

So back to the story itself, it starts on a world which we are given very little information about, it's pre-technology and seems to be under the thrall of superstition but with very real events happening which leaves the local population dying and/or missing. We then take a big step away into the world we know from Star Trek with the usual crew and ship with one or two additional characters which play their part especially Miranda Tikloko who was the sole survivor of the canon events from Balance of Terror. She was at the time of the slaughter of the outposts by the Romulans onboard a shuttle and survived by shutting down and going dark and was undetected. She continues to suffer from the trauma of seeing her friends die and being alone in the void of space and McCoy is trying to work her through her issues but it's clear she has earned her place on the crew and is performing her duties to the level expected of the flagship.
Alas I can't really go into many details about the events onboard the derelicts within the folded region of space just that there are many ships from different races and in this area of space where time is in flux and chaos rules being dead doesn't always mean you are not still there.
Some of the reviews I've read for the book have not been too complimentary however many have also stated they were not original series die hards but as huge fan of the original series the story worked very well and had echoes of other stories which dealt with graveyards of ships but added in the mystical element and a huge conspiracy to hide events from the long distance past. The character of Miranda worked very well and her survivor guilt which Kirk also had to deal with after Tarsus IV was a key part of the story, it did add a lot of weight and onboard the derelicts within the folded space becomes critical to their hopes for survival.
Overall I enjoyed the book and while everything eventually makes sense it did take me a while to put everything into place, the opening chapters dealing with this mysterious people felt too unattached to the story I was expecting and I wonder if maybe one or two readers would have been turned off before getting into the Trek they may have been expecting.
The Folded World Amazon UK & US
Jeff Mariotte Official Site


Wednesday, 19 February 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Trailer

I really do not know what to think about this movie from the trailer, not having any fallback position from having read and of the comics I assume it's going to be a comedy but with dark overtones, I think.

Sunday, 16 February 2014

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Rewatch Part 2

Planet of the Slave Girls

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century
Episode 3 and 4

A virus spreads throughout the Earth's defence force and even into other cities around the planet, as a search for a cure goes on investigations lead to a planet which was the common link between all the food products that were being imported. The planet Vistula is an agricultural world which supplies Earth and has a governor appointed from Earth and a native population who it seems are happy to export their worlds produce so Buck and Wilma in the guise of returning an ill pilot to his homeworld arrive looking for answers. As it turns out things on the planet are not all sunshine and roses, the native population are being dominated in fact in some cases enslaved to work in the fields and processing plants and a local leader called Kaleel is fanning the flames of rebellion from his base in the Sea of Stone. Ryma a young native woman helps Buck to gain access to a processing plant but she is then captured along with Wilma and taken to Kaleel, Buck and Duke attempt to follow into the desert but are shot down and while they eventually reach the "secret" base it's decided that Duke will steal a fighter and warn Earth of the threat and Buck will rescue Wilma. Kaleel it seems has been dosing the food to weaken the Earths defence force with the aim to launch a major attack on the planet with the aid of a former Earth officer renowned for his tactical ability. Buck rescues Wilma but is unable to prevent the launch of the attack force but it is met in battle by a handful of pilots who are fit enough to fly including one very special pilot making a cameo in the series. Despite being outnumbered the tactical choices being made by Duke thanks to taking in some of the lessons given by Buck thanks to his Air Force days allows them to wipe out the attacking fleet. Back on Vistula Buck faces down Kaleel who is quickly losing his hold on his followers and once confronted and unable to use his "powers" his rebellion is broken. 

 A Stargate In Operation
Planet of the Slave Girls while very much in line with pulp scifi titling is pretty inaccurate for the episode, yes the planet has slaves but their gender is not a plot point yet the idea of colonialism and external control is rather deep for a show such as Buck Rogers. It seemed obvious that Earth wasn't asking too many questions as to how it's food was being grown and delivered nor how their appointed governor ( Roddy McDowall ) was running things when even a brief glimpse would have by his own actions and status indicated something was very wrong. That said overall the episode worked pretty well so lets get into some specifics both good and bad.

I really hate a preview of an episode to kick off the broadcast, I want to be surprised and amazed as I watch not before hand thank you very much. Anyhow I liked the Stargate method of covering vast differences in this scifi universe, credit to actually considering a method of travelling to distant star systems with a nice special effect to boot. When Wilma and Buck come across Major Duke and his charge Regis Saroyan under attack I simply did not understand why Duke was upset with their intervention, the young pilot who is being trained was in a battle for his life, it isn't a do or die test of his abilities at this stage or any stage. The ongoing conflict between Duke and Buck (Wilma in the mix doesn't help matters) is at times fun but doesn't make any sense whatsoever. In practical terms the tactics Buck proved worked and the computer combat systems having proven unreliable it was ridiculous not to embrace the new combat options. It was made worse by Major Duke himself openly negated the teaching which was fed into the younger trainee pilots, simply bad military discipline throughout. I did like the AI named Carl who had a very dry character and of course his "death" also worked pretty well making the sabotage of the search for a cure have a little more drama. When we get to meet Kaleel played wonderfully over the top by Jack Palance we see he has some sort of ability, it's not clear if he is a mutant or even native to Vistula but as an evil villain he works very well for this pulpy sort of scifi.
Kaleel - Jack Palance
The Sea of Stone which his the secret base of Kaleel and his strike force was also a clever idea, on the surface it seems strange that there is such a large desert area on this agro world but it makes sense that you can't have a planet that is all moderate climate ideal for agriculture, you have the opposite. It was also a nice twist to find out it's Kaleel himself that is supporting the slave trade for his own material benefit with the side effect of stoking the rebellion coupled with his ability to kill with glowly hands. I'm not quite sure where they got the infrastructure to build such advanced vessels in the middle of nowhere, nothing indicates they were bought in but we'll let it go but they also had a weapon that could leech power from aircraft/spacecraft which seemed a pretty good device to have. All that aside we know the Earth has a defence shield so regardless of how many fighters the Earth could send into orbit it's not as if any alien fighter was going to get through to attack the planet directly. 

Governor Toban Saroyan
A big thankyou to the writers and director for the wet look Wilam and Ryma, great idea to stick the two women into a very hot prison cell which had them perspiring like crazy and lots of skin on display, of course Buck blowing up a grenade inside a helmet to throw himself into rafters was rather silly. I also felt sorry for the women who were still no doubt sticky when they had to perform in the desert, that could not have been comfortable at all. That said both Wilma and Ryma (Brianne Leary) were strong characters who achieved a lot themselves despite being saved by a man but credit where it's due for making a good attempt to provide good female role models. The big easter egg in the episode was one of the pilots who came out of retirement to defend the Earth against the approaching alien fleet, a certain Brigadier Gordon played by the one and only Buster Crabbe and the interchange between the two characters/actors was fanboy nirvana:)

Overall a fun episode with a lot of flaws.

Saturday, 8 February 2014

The Rings of Time

I've suddenly and rather unexpectedly got an itch to jump back into Star Trek the original series novels, now I have a rather large collection of the paperbacks which kept me entertained in my younger years but the market has changed as the more modern series took precedence on the store shelves. That said we are seeing a lot more TOS novels from multiple authors so I'm going to indulge myself and given the pricing of the ebooks I'll stick to the paperbacks despite issues over shelf space:)

This week I read the novel "The Rings of Time" written by Greg Cox and published in the UK on Feb 16th 2012. The story makes full use of the well known original cast lineup in a story which deals with consciousness swapping and time travel plus a little geo-political subplot thrown in.
There may be minor spoilers but I'm going to try to avoid anything that couldn't ruin the surprise but come on the genre is well trodden and if you are reading Star Trek the characters could very well be more important than the story they inhabit:) In Rings of Time Greg drew upon the character of Shawn Christopher who was mentioned in the TOS episode "Tomorrow Is Yesterday" and is the commander of the first manned mission to Saturn and that mission intersects with the Enterprise two centuries later as it nears another ringed gas giant and the rescue of a mining colony trapped within a collapsing ring system. The two stories continue side by side as the pages are turned until they both come across the same alien probe in their respective timelines, events transpire slightly differently but the results led to complications on the NASA ship Lewis & Clark and the Enterprise as both are thrown into a pressure cooker of events and conflicting situations.

The story was certainly an interesting read, I really did enjoy picturing the Lewis & Clark ghosting towards Saturn in all the modern CGI effects glory and mixing with the tradition imagery from Star Trek. The main cast of characters were written well but none of them even Kirk was really pushed and we did get more depth from the supporting cast especially those from the 21st century Earth which wasn't a bad thing. Greg it seemed made an effort to reference as much of the original series as possible, at first that was fun but maybe he went a little over the top but again that's simply my personal taste and I think as we see more Trek written in our modern market the issues with dealing with Trek's history as it pertains to Earth's timeline will be harder to resolve and to be accepted. The end of the 20th century did seem far away when Trek came to our screens with an almost limitless vision of what they next couple of decades would bring and modern writers I believe are more grounded or at least the market isn't looking for the more fantastical Trek.
Color-composite Cassini image of Saturn’s northern hexagon (NASA/JPL/SSI/Jason Major)

I can recommend the novel to any original series Star Trek fan and the use of a canon character and in the case of the storm on Saturn a real phenomenon adds weight to the story and once again you wonder just how good a series could be with these characters and modern tv production.
Amazon UK & US available in Paperback and E-Book.





Sunday, 2 February 2014

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century Rewatch Part 1

Awakening 

Buck Rogers in the 25th Century 
Episode 1 and 2

A long time ago in a world which indeed seems far away young Michael got took to the pictures with the rest of his family to watch a science fiction movie, not usual but rare since his father was not keen on the genre. Years later an older and wiser Michael who is still a huge fan of science fiction can look back and see that maybe dear old Dad knew a little about Erin Grey and Pamela Hensley because there was something compelling about those two up their on the big screen:) The time is right to have a rewatch of the Buck Rogers television series, the movie which certainly did ok on the big screen was like Battlestar before it a Glen A Larson production and the packaging of a movie and tv edit paid off in revenue and promotion, pretty clever really. I'm going to be watching the movie edit, it's that different to the tv version but there are few things the censors of the day though inappropriate for network television. The film kicks off with some split screen video and narration before entering into a very interesting if dated opening credit sequence and then into the story proper. Buck frozen for 500 years is found in deep space by an alien ship and brought onboard, revived and interrogated they return him to his original state and plant a tracker on his ship believing he will be safely taken to Earth and thus reveal the design layout of the planets energy based defence shield. On Earth Buck is viewed with some suspicion but one of the computer AI's who control the worlds infrastructure believes Buck's story and then benefit of the doubt leads him into a reckless adventure in the ruins of "old" Chicago. The tracker is discovered on Bucks ship and he is sentenced to be executed but when the Draconian ship under the command of Princess Ardala approaches Earth Buck along with a defence squadron led by Colonel Wilma Deering fight off a pirate attack yet the Princess denies knowing Buck again raising further suspicion. Buck gets a life line when the princess personal asks for him to attend the welcoming gala and he proceeds to boogey on down which rather shocks the more restrained humans who now like in "new" Chicago and he uses his seduction techniques to flee Earth with the princess with the aim to find the proof he needs to save himself and protect Earth. Eventually the Draconian deceit is revealed and the Draconians are sent packing with the bad guys shaking their fists vowing to return with Wilma and the council embracing Buck as one of their own albeit 500 years out of his own time. Ok then first off like BSG this is a dated show but if you can get over that style of tv production and yes even the movie felt like a tv show and of course the fashions then Buck Rogers is a lot of fun but not without it's flaws:)

We'll kick off with the opening credits, very cool but a little blatant in the sexualisation of two of the main stars but then again nothing that Bond wasn't doing so we can let that pass. It was a little silly saying Buck was frozen at temperatures beyond imagination, pretty sure they knew what absolute zero was back then but even worse the Draconians using Earth based time units, easier for the audience but come on. Also as with BSG I don't think they even attempted to convey how big the universe is, the Draconians have conquered three quarters of the universe, I don't think so, even a quarter of the galaxy would be impressive. I was seriously impressed how powerful the Earth's defence shield was, they have some uber power generation on planet which does get addressed in a later episode. It was very interesting to see that the humans have allowed AI's to make decisions on how the planet and it's cities are run yet still allow the humans the freedoms to live as they please and of course we get Twiki the little robot who acts as a mobility device for the AI's, cute and funny but networking would surely be the more efficient method.
Twiki
When we are introduced to Colonel Wilma Deering she is the by the book military commander, she isn't overly impressed with Buck yet is very pro-treaty which doesn't quite make sense, from purely a military perspective an envoy from a race that has used force to gain territory and resources can't really be trusted. Buck's little trip to old Chicago did feel totally wrong, it's amazing so much was left intact after the nuclear war and the existence of the mutants made little sense, they were obviously healthy in their own reality but where was the food and water and the environment outside of the city was not viable. They messed it further up with the existence of the black market, so economically driven mutants then who value the precious metals in Theo the AI, nah doesn't work.
We now enter space and I do like the design of the Earth fighters, they do look like they are viable for both atmospheric and space flight at least upto a point and it was a good idea to have them so dependent upon combat computers rather than manual flight control, it does gel with the AI's on the plant. However as we see that pirates are fully capable of defeating the predictable tactics of the computers and only Buck saves the day even though why would he be so proficient with a vehicle he really had no right knowing how to fly with the skills required. All that is forgotten though as Princess Ardala the woman with little or no self image issues or lacks confidence thanks the Earth squadron for destroying her own ships (that's a secret) and also gets Buck off the hook with her demands for his attendance at the gala. Ah the gala in which we have to put up with some music and dancing which had no place in civilised society but no denying that Pamela looked stunning and played the role wonderfully as did Erin in dress uniform who suddenly realised she was acting a little protective of "her" man.
Hubbahubba
It was a nice twist to have Kane ( Henry Silva ) as a human, not quite sure how he got such an high position in the Draconian fleet but my guess is he betrayed his heritage and people died, he certainly wasn't to be trusted and of course he has designs on Ardala himself so not fan of her dancing display and reminds her there are 29 other daughters of the Emperor who would be happy to serve. Oh I loved the freeze ray, well Buck needed something to explain how he defeated the huge "Tigerman" and Princess and a little amusing that she suddenly got all shy and covering herself up when things started going wrong.
So Buck took it upon himself to sabotage the Draconian attack fleet by sticking a banana in their tail pipe, I kid you not that's what he did but the banana was a munition, thankfully the guards on the hanger deck were too busy doing something else. With the destruction of the fighters and the warning given to Twiki and Theo (who stowed away on the Draconian Shuttle) the Draconia comes under attack from Earth's fighters and is destroyed but Ardala and Kane escape and you know I'm fine with that, both of them are a little over the top but good comic book style villains.
Twiki looks happy
Overall I enjoyed Awakening, I don't think the movie edit is really that much of a must see over the tv edit but obviously the whole show is produced to a level of camp and tongue in cheekiness which over the years has been the downfall of too many scifi production but works quite well for Buck Rogers.


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