(September 8 – 14)
This week was largely taken up by further planning for the podcast. I say planning, but what I really mean by that is ‘thinking with intent’. I’m hunting around for a good name for the show, but that part is eluding me for now. I’ve also been looking at which of my stories could potentially go in the first ‘season’, and which may need a quick review/rewrite first.
In other podcast news, I also put together a first edit of the second episode of The Fifth Quadrant. Some of you may remember this as a podcast project I was dabbling with last year, but it’s taken some time to get the stars aligned for further episodes. Hopefully the ball will keep rolling from here.
In the meantime you can listen to the first two episodes below:
Lots to write about in film viewing world this week, so let’s start with Shazam! This was one of the few DC superhero movies that managed to get itself some fairly decent reviews, so it’s been on my ‘curious to watch’ list for a little while. Turns out it is, indeed, fairly decent, even if it’s a totally by the numbers blockbuster-style film. In fact, it was so by the numbers that I felt throughout as if I was watching a lost superhero movie from the 1980s. They don’t quite make movies the same way these days, but if you watch any big budget, family-oriented movie from that era you’ll see where Shazam! has been getting its story notes from. Maybe DC Studios has been so burned by trying to make grimdark superhero movies that aren’t really superhero movies that they decided to go right back to the well for this one?
On Monday I rewatched Fargo with the Elderbeast; he enjoyed The Big Lebowski so much that I had to introduce him to this one, and I’m pleased to report that he completely got it, and laughed uproariously at all the right bits (usually whenever Steve Buscemi was around).
This week’s Horror Friday fell on a Friday the 13th, which meant we were legally obliged to watch a Friday The 13th movie. However, since we’ve been watching the series with the Elderbeast, who wasn’t with us this Friday, this presented a bit of a quandary, as we didn’t really want to plough on without him. Luckily the 2009 remake came to our rescue.
I say ‘luckily’ in jest, as the film is deeply average. It’s a functionally competent slasher movie, which has absolutely no personality and certainly doesn’t feel like a Jason movie. The company behind the remake, Platinum Dunes, remade a number of horror properties around the same time and they each possess the exact same lack of charm. Given that Michael Bay was one of the producers involved, I’m not entirely surprised. All I can say is that I’m really glad that we now have Blumhouse as one of our primary horror studios, as evidence so far suggests they seem to thoroughly understand what makes for a good horror film.
On Saturday I went to see the eagerly awaited It Chapter 2. Sadly, it’s a bit of a disappointment. It’s certainly not Matrix sequel levels of fail, but it doesn’t come anywhere close to the near-perfection of chapter one. The ‘adult half’ of the story was always going to be a challenge, given that the novel mostly frames this as the adults getting back together and recalling everything that happened when they were children. Given that we’ve already watched that earlier story, there’s not a whole lot of meat left on those bones.
One way the writers get around this in the movie is to establish a three-act structure and a series of goals:
- Adults reunite at Derry
- Adults are each charged with retrieving a memento from their childhood
- Adults come back together for the final battle with Pennywise
Unfortunately, they also throw in too much padding and waffle for that structure to serve the film in any useful way. Worst of all, Pennywise is reduced to Freddy Krueger-like caricature, popping up at various times to antagonise the characters, but not really providing any genuine threat.
So, not disastrous, but let’s just say that I’ll probably be leaving Chapter One on its own on my bluray shelf.
This week I was very excited to check out an audio play called Baker’s End: The King Of Cats, which was produced by my new favourite studio: Bafflegab. This production stars Tom Baker and Katy Manning, and the plot description starts off with this: “Peevish actors are descending mournfully upon the remote English village of Happenstance for the funeral of TV legend Tom Baker …”
Obviously my expectations going into this were pretty stratospheric, so it shouldn’t be a great surprise that this didn’t quite live up to those. It was absolutely as British and eccentric as you would expect, but almost too much so. Even in his advanced years, Tom Baker still possesses all of the energy that made him such a compelling Doctor Who, and the script is absolutely tailored to his wild eccentricity. However, at times the flurry of made-up words and ridiculous happenings is a bit hard to keep up with. As a consequence, the overall experience fell a bit flat for me, even if the concept and execution is mostly glorious.