Share Your World – 2016 Week 30

Another template, I stole from Inspiring Max – not sure if it will become a regular or not…although I do miss Mama M‘s old Five Question Friday challenges…

With your answers, please remember we are in the SYW world which may not always match our reality.
Source: Share Your World – 2016 Week 30 – Cee’s Photography

Do you prefer a bath or shower?
Generally a shower because showers are quick and I am always in a hurry; also because it has been a long time since I actually had access to a working bath…I’d like to replace the bathroom external wall with a double-glazed slider or bifold, tile the interior and be able to lie in the bath (the same bath that has been sitting in the garage since the end of 2009) and gaze out into the native bush. Somewhere, I’d also like to spot a couple of external baths, preferably with solar heating, actually out in the bush for even more chilled chllin’…

Imagine…

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..this wall but…

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…with a view like this and…

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…this bath where the current shower is…
If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which one would you choose? Why?
ITM. I would stock up on unlimited building supplies and tools so that I can start and ultimately finish all the projects I want to do here: bathroom, kitchen, post and rail fencing down the driveway, around the boundary, and around the Lodge and the cottage, decks from the front door, dining area and bath room, and retaining walls against the banks. The only resource that I would need that would not be available from ITM would be time.

Imagine four bar post and rail fences….

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…running along both boundaries and…

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…closing the cottage in…

If you could be one age for the rest of your life, what age would that be?

My thirties were a lot of fun…I think I’d like to try them again but knowing what I do now…

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List at least five movies that cheer you up.

Love Actually. I don’t like all the plot lines in this but some I do and, combining a neat sound track with happy endings, this is my – for now – bestest feel good movie…

Brainstorm. I’m not sure why – this movie is set, in the real world, against the tragedy of Natalie Wood;s untimley death…the story itself is vaguely technobabbly…but it always leaves me with a good buzz…

The Quiet Man. A babe, a brawl and a bully. A John Wayne classic set in an Ireland of along ago…

John Carter. An epic that flows and that works – for me anyway – totally unchallenging, I can just let it flow over me…

Remember the Titans. I just like it…greta story…great soundtrack…

Bonus question: What are you grateful for from last week, and what are you looking forward to in the week coming up?

DSCF0329I am actually grateful for the big fridge deciding to pop a fuse. I put the back-up fridge – it would be THE beer fridge if I ever got round to putting beer in it – in the kitchen as an interim measure…while I miss the capacity of the big Bosch – possibly because I have to think a little bit harder about what goes where – I really like the more open appearance of and access to the kitchen area…

With your answers, please remember we are in the SYW world which may not always match our reality. Do you prefer a bath or shower? If you had an unlimited shopping spree at only one store, which on… I think that I may keep the small fridge here as the ‘ready use’ fridge and relegate the Bosch to the back pantry for longer term storage…after three years, finally making changes that suit me…

 

And then what happened…

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In response to The Daily Post’s writing prompt: “Missing Seqeuls.”

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Like a good book, some of the best movie experiences are those that we don’t want to end. Most times, though, it is best that they do end…we’ve all seen the series of hacked sequels that can follow a movie that makes money, that erode and diminish the original experience (did someone say George Lucas?). But there are those rare occasions where a story so well told begs for a sequel…

For me one of those such times is the 1964 classic 633 Squadron, based on Frederick E. Smith’s novel of the same name. Although hinted at in the book, the movie leaves the story of Grenville and Hilde hanging: she’s stranded in England, he’s seriously injured, possibly dying, in a Norwegian field…

Rather than succumb to the current plague of remaking of classic movies, I’d like to see that sequel that answers that question, that fulfils the expectation set at the end of the book (sorry, you’ll have to read it!). Smith wrote another five or six sequels to the original novel but I always felt that these were rather 2D products more focussing on paying teh rent than developing the promise of the original. Only Operation Valkyrie comes close and possibly it would be a vehicle for the sequel that closes both the Svartfjord story and that of Grenville and Hilde, Adams, Hoppy and the other survivors;  and whatever happened to Maisie (Rosie in the movie) the buxom lass who waved them all off from the bar of the Black Swan…?

For the boys…

Babylon 5: Crusade

crusade coverDomestic DVD acquisitions have been limited this year due to the reduced availability of disposable cash. I am a big fan of the original Babylon 5 series and recently rewatched the first four series – I am a bit cool on the final series as it lacks the overarching story arc of the previous series and many of the cooler characters and character interactions are missing. That, aside I did enjoy  the five movies that accompanied the series before it declined into products like The Lost Tales and The Legend of the Rangers that only sought to quite blatantly milk the franchise for more profit.

Crusade has been available here for a number of years but retailing for $99.99 most of the time which is pretty steep for only 13 episodes, more so when the original B5 series usually go for only $29.99. I stopped in Te Kuiti on my way home from my trip to Germany to stretch my legs and grab a bite to eat. To pass the time while I refreshed myself, I went for a wander through the local Warehouse looking for any bargains, and found Crusade in the bargain bin for only $9.99 which was more to my liking and this formed the basis for my next week’s big screen entertainment.

Overall, I found Crusade rather pretentious – every aspect of the series seems to think very much that they it is part of an epic saga – and quite boring. The stories are uninspired and lack anything like the sense of drama or urgency that a. the original series developed so well and b. that you might expect would dominate a series based on the premise that all life on Earth will cease in less than five years. Instead many plot lines are more concerned with petty bureaucratic squabbles and only a few actually contribute to the main theme of the series which is to find a cure for the Drahk plague.

The characters are bland and two-dimensional with none of the interplay between the key characters of B5 e.g. Londo and G’Kar, Sheridan and De’enn, or between Garibaldi, Ivanova and everyone else. The only two characters of note are both guest roles: Edward Woodward as a maverick technomage in The Long Road, and Richard Biggs reprising his role as Dr Stephen Franklin in Each Night I Dream of Home. All the rest struggle to reach an average standard.

Although there are regular reference to ‘First Contact protocols’ what these are is never spelled out and they seem to be the plot device equivalent of the dilithium crystals from Star Trek – no one really knows what they do what they are handy to write stories around. If anything, Crusade takes more joy in breaching these protocols than upholding them – but only because it can, not to support the driving imperative of the central story-line. Episode 12, Visitors from Down the Street, has some potential for an interesting tale reversing the popular ‘they walk amongst us’ and ‘the truth is out there’ devices but is handling rather clumsily with an ininspired conclusion. Also, one has to wonder about a story’s sensitivity when a story in the premiere season already starts to rely on cute role transpositions when such are normally reserved for the ‘shark jumping’ stage of a series life cycle.

My verdict on Crusade is that diehard B5 followers (if which I guess I am one) will get something out of it if they can find it for the right (as low as possible) price but generally most will find it underwhelming. Personally, I got more out of re-watching the original Babylon 5 than I ever did from Crusade and it is probably a small mercy that it was canned when it was.

If there is anything in the future of Babylon 5 that we should be pinning our hopes on, it is that J. Michael Straczynski will release his George Lucas-like strangehold on the franchise and sell it off to Disney or some other group capable of realising its re-imagination potential…OK, just to Disney then…

PS. If you area  B5 diehard, on Facebook and haven’t already, then sign up to follow Claudia Christian’s fan page

Movies – Dubai to Dusseldorf

man of steelA darker re-imagining of Superman is what they claimed and to a point this is that…Russell Crowe makes a credible comeback from the disaster of Robin Hood as Jor-El and certainly improves on Marlon Brando’s 1978 hack at the role…I thought the villains were largely unconvincing and not nearly as intimidating as the General Zod and his henchfolk in Superman II and was disappointed that the final battle was not much more than a knock ’em down, drag ’em out kind of thing. The story of Clark’s early years is more credible than any of the previous takes but I remain ambivalent about the lack of even a cameo from anyone from the Luthor family and have high hopes that this will be remedied in the sequel…

IMG_20131028_034423More fun with guns…I had low expectations of this movie but it is a must for the home library…it moves fast with an excellent selection of big boys’ toys and plot turns to keep me engaged. I do however have to say that it is EXTREMELY unlikely that any sort of RPG-7 is going to upset an M-1 Abrams with a direct frontal shot…

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All the reviews for World War Z that I heard before I left NZ were bad but I have a thing for this sort of movie and had to see for myself. I am glad that I did because, while flawed in some areas, it is an interesting take on the zombie genre and fun to watch. I can only assume that those that than gave it such bad reviews are the same crew that bleated because The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit are not 100% true in every detail to the original books. The flaws I found in it are more from poor editing than poor story development especially during the final flight where time is wasted with inflight emergencies that add nothing to the plot but their eventual landing is not shown…in the plane, now on the ground, in the plane, on the ground, plane, ground…did we miss something in the middle – the first time I watched it, I thought that I had nodded off for a few minutes. Only on rewatching the last 30 minutes was it clear that this apparent teleportation was simply the result of poor film editing…

Movies – Dusseldorf to Dubai

desert fox

Emirates have massive movie libraries on their most modern aircraft…they claim 350 across all genres and languages which is a pretty good effort…and this includes a variety of classic aka old movies. I had never seen The Desert Fox and while not a big James Mason fan, thought that I would give it a shot. For its time, it really is quite an amazing movie – I’m not sure how many others would celebrate a soldier who only seven years before had been one of its nation’s most dangerous foes..?

It recounts the tale of Erwin Rommel from the Battle of El Alamein until his mysterious death in 1944 and covers his involvement with the anti-Hitler movement in Germany over that period. It is based on Desmond Young’s Rommel the Desert Fox, which he researched and wrote immediately after the war, and which is considered a credible if not full treatment of one of Germany’s greatest generals. Although no attempts is made to conceal the American accents of all the actors, the plot and story-telling are sound and I found that I quite enjoyed this oldie…

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I see that Tom Cruise is ‘starring’ again for allegedly comparing his absences from family during movie shoots with the absences felt by soldiers in Afghanistan and generally I think that he is a bit of a big-headed dork…but…I do like some of his movies and this is one of the ones that I like. I didn’t have high expectations of it but found it, if not challenging, certainly clever in the unfolding of the story and the final realisation of what has occurred on Earth…a little like Wall-E with a darker flip side…

Movies – Dubai to Auckland

Despite only having a few hours sleep in Dubai on the flight home – landing at 1159PM and didn’t get out of the terminal til after 1AM for a 9AM check-in that morning, I was quite refreshed for the final leg and managed to clock up seven movies and still be quite chipper on landing in New Zealand…planes

Another in the Disney/Pixar/Cars mold but good clean entertainment anyway…a sidenote is that there should be a nice line of plastic and paper models come out of this movies as they did for Carspacific rim

Giant robots meet giant monsters intermixed with raw Ozzie accents…pretty tired and lacking the kitschy appeal of the Godzilla genre from which is is drawn…

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Cop buddies do Hellboy meets Ghostbusters meets Heaven Can Wait…entertaining but definitely on the lite side..

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Wolverine has been in five of the six X-men movies and this is the second that has featured the character in the title role…it’s getting a bit tired now and the franchise either needs to be introduce some new X’s or be put out to pasture…red22

Fun with guns and old people…charming fun and violence…

emperorThis should be a noble story of dignity and pride and its pretention is that it assumes this to be so…instead of letting the story tell itself, it relies on cumbersome and unnecessary flashbacks and voiceovers to overcome the weakness of its script. Even Tommy Lee Jones as Douglas MacArthur comes across as stilted and somewhat common, not as the shrewd aristocrat that the man really was. Full of cliches and stereotypes with a distracting and irrelevant search for a missing prewar girlfriend. Stick with the Gregory Peck MacArthur and read Manchester’s American Caesar for the real story…

2gunsBoring with no real story…a mercy when it finally ended…mindlessly meandering plot lines and even the action is mediocre…give it a miss in favour of Gigli or Johnny Depp’s disastrous take on The Lone Ranger

The greatest question ever asked…

Star Wars saga

Arguments will rage and wars may be fought over this question and there may never ne a full resolution that all thinking peoples will be happy with however it is a discussion that needs to take place and not be shuffled away under th hustle and bustle of day to day life…namely…

What is the CORRECT order in which to watch the Star Wars saga?

I don’t think you can go wrong with Andrew P. Street’s take on the question – I agree 100% that the correct and only sequence that makes sense is…

4

2

3

5

6

Although appearing rather like a dyslectic’s take on the opening scene from Thunderbirds, this sequence makes absolute sense, and the logic in the article can not be faulted…

But’s there’s no ‘1‘!!” you cry – and crying is really only a natural response to Star Wars Part I George Lucas Gets It So Wrong – correct. This ‘movie’ adds nothing to the saga other than a sad comment on what happens when David becomes Goliath, or Anakin becomes Darth Vader in the real world…

And, as astute Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fans will have noted, it is clearly no accident that the first numbers of the answer are 42 – Douglas Adams just got the question wrong…

Humph!! Puny God!!

For the first time in a long time, I have done the NZ-Europe trip in one hit instead of stopping over for a night en route – definitely something that I do not intend making a habit of as I am not feeling like the Energiser Bunny at this moment. Still as always, international air travel offers a great opportunity for this rural dweller to catch up with recently released movies…so here we go…

MIB III. Loved this – the first two movies haven’t, in my ever so humble opinion, quite got ‘it’ – no such worries with this third crack at the franchise: I found it thoroughly enjoyable and much more complete and consistent than the previous two iterations. Definitely one for the permanent library.

A few people whined that Thor and Captain America were somewhat unfulfilling and incomplete…while I am not one of those whinynanas, The Avengers certainly grips up and draws together all the strands from Ironman, Hulk (who keeps changing lead actors), Captain America and Thor into a thoroughly entertaining and satisfying action roller-coast. As above, another for the permanent library. The classic line that titles this post comes from The Avengers after Loki attempts to assert his godliness upon the Hulk – short conversation…!

I really enjoyed the Toby Maguire Spiderman trilogy but sorry, dude, this new kid, The Amazing Spiderman, in town knocks you off your perch as the consumate ‘Spidey’ – the best Spiderman movie by far and I’m really pleased to see the hints that there will be sequels to carry on the character development.

I always suspected that there was more to than ‘Honest Abe’ story that met the eye and now the truth all comes out out in a perhaps timely manner in Abe Lincoln: Vampire Killer as the White House is again threatened by the undead (although that’s zombies from eith r the left or the right). Personally I think that this is a story that deserved to be told sooner, if only to add to the genral popular awareness of the vampire threat…

This was a bit of a slow burner that I was prepared to kill if it looked like bollocks – instead I found a gripping thriller with an alternate taken on the last days of Edgar Allen Poe. Very well done and very much recommended. On a personal note I was intrigued to see Richard Sharkey‘s name in the credits as co-producer: I worked with Richard for a period when he was the lead location manager for the Lord of the Rings trilogy and the consummate problem-solver for any and all of the practical logistic and support issues that arose everyday during filming. If I had not decided to stick with what I was doing at the time, he would have been my inspiration to jump ship into a similar career…

This was another sleeper that I took a bit of a punt on and found myself thoroughly enjoying…nothing stellar so far as story-lines or plots are concerned but just a good solid action movie…

So there you go, watched six movies and scored all six quite highly…in fact there was only one major disappointment and that was #7…

Prometheus. What a load of old bollocks and a blatant attempt to try to screw some more money from the Alien franchise….it was boring and nothing more than a remake of Alien without the terror, suspense or gripping storyline. It starts badly with a scene where an alien Engineer drinks what looks like passion-fruit seeds and flies all to bits – an action and scene totally irrelevant to the rest of the movie; it is never clear where all these civilisations across human history would note down in cave drawings the location of an obscure planet was not (SPOILER ALERT!!) the home world but just a cast-off wasteland world, and what was really happening on that planet. Even a little time spent on character development would not have gone astray: take out the standard Alien ploys like the facehuggers, acid for blood, etc, etc…and you could not have a movie that is more hohum…

Mainly faf–trans-Pacific movie reviews

Yep…on the ‘road’ again…I thought that Air New Zealand as a Star Alliance member would have a better entertainment menu but certainly this month’s was rather bland and I am hoping that heading home after the first of June will see a broader range available down the goats and chickens end of the plane…

This weekend’s viewing included…

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Faf for people too dumb, lazy or ignorant to read subtitles

I have been meaning to write about the remade Girl With The Dragon Tattoo since Empire released its cover story issue on it a few months ago – I held off because I hadn’t seen the new version and because I was just really busy – my gut feeling from the start though was that any remake would have to be pretty good to improve on the Swedish original and I was right. Unfortunately the Daniel Craig version isn’t the one: if you haven’t seen the original movie then this one is OK but only a shadow of the grittier and far more thrilling and gripping original….

A brief break for a Coke Zero and then…

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Nothing stellar but fun…

I must admit that I quite like movies that Mark Wahlberg is in, even if the movie overall in a bit of a stinker…Contraband is a fun movie but nothing stellar – a rather implausible but fast-paced cruise to Panama while Mum, Kate Beckinsale, looks after the the kids and rues the day she didn’t push her younger brother off the fire escape…

I had a bit of a snooze but was really that sleepy so took a punt on Shutter Island.

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Psychiatric Shaggy Dog story

Titanic aside, Leonardo has the opposite effect on my desire to watch a movie than Mark Wahlberg: as soon as I see his name in the credits, I’m automatically wondering if there aren’t any drains that need clearing or gutters than need cleaning. Shutter Island did nothing to persuade me that Leonardo offers anything meaningful to movie art…it doesn’t so much drag as charge towards one of only two possible endings and once the killer is revealed its all a bit hohum….

I was pleasantly surprised to find that my Air Canada hop from San Francisco had an excellent range of movie entertainment but only a two hour flight to watch anything…

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Oh, God! Make it stop…!

The Underworld ‘saga’ never really grabbed me like some other franchise series Resident Evil which is just good clean hyper-violent gory messy fun….Underworld Awakening screams for a a stake through its inner essence (if it had any). It is a sad example of what happens when money is short and greedy production companies want to flog a license to death, or un-death in this case. Production values are rock-bottom with poorly integrated low-resolution video game graphics mixed with blurry flash-back sequences and only occasional live-acting scenes. It’s unlikely that you will see this one in the bargain bin at Warewhare because the other bargains movies will keep hefting it out on to the floor…

I had angsted over a choice between Underworld Awakening because I suspected how bad it might be and the 1951 original of The Thing, another victim of remake-itis, although John Carpenter’s 1982 version remains a classic in its own right…and after watching this version again, I wonder how much Ridley Scott’s Aliens franchise owes to it as well…?

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A true classic in all its monochromatic glory…

Wooden acting aside, this Arctic tale of terror is still enough to put any seven year old to cowering behind the couch of dark and stormy nights…

Trans-Pacific Movie Reviews


I bouqueted Qantas a week or so ago for the way it handled my having the ONLY dysfunctional video terminal on my Trans-Pacific flight last month…the entertainment was somewhat better on the trip back, more so because I was able to use my new noise-cancelling headphone which, to that point, had been so much dead weight in my travels…

Even though I was on the midnight flight, I still got to watch three movies while tacitly avoiding what Qantas chooses to refer to in-flight meals (no bouquets here, folks)…

More rollicking good fun from the MI team, even though it is still led by Short Stuff (who in creation decided that he could ever be a Jack Reacher in the next franchise he is about to star in?). Great to see that the writing team have taken the hint and dropped the whole rubber face ‘get out of jail free card’ which was always about as plausible and convenient as the dodgy time-travelling and transporter buffer swindles in Star Trek…A lot of fun but I would point that few if any nuclear missiles are point-detonating so that team would have run out of time about ten seconds before they actually did…

Rather ho-hum really…watching this series one would think that Sir Arthur Conan Doyle only wrote about Holmes’ tribulations with Professor Moriaty…it is really not much more than a rehash of the same gimmicks and tricks from the first Downey/Law Holmes movie – wait for it til it appears in DVD bargain bins…if there is to be a third movie in this series, it will hopefully get back on track and rethink some of the really great Sherlock Holmes tales…

Jury’s still out on this one – it is very well made but I am not sure how true to the book it is….will have to dig it out for a reread as the ending was a little too smug for me…great to see a certain actor catch a bullet near the end…can’t say who without giving the game away but he’s always struck me as just a little too smooth…The movie certainly catches the almost industrial work environment of Cold War British intelligence services and the internal wrangling that persisted over decades…definitely worth a look….