Tales from the Cultural Wilderness - Journal

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2005-05-30 Entry: "A Real Mixed Bag"

Friday night and Saturday morning see me finishing Jonny Quest... and it's still not very good so I'm still not writing synopses for it.

Then I decided to finish the Karate Kid boxed set, starting with the not-very-good Karate Kid 3. It's more Ralph Macchio / Pat Morita nonsense, with a really over-the-top villain and a completely throwaway girlfriend... at least the girls in the first two films had some substance to them...

The Next Karate Kid is a little bit better... there's no Ralph Macchio for a start, and we get Hillary Swank instead, so there's a slight improvement in acting, even if the story isn't much better. And we get celebrity villain Michael Ironside as the head of security in a school who trains a bunch of thugs in martial arts. There's also a very silly scene with some Zen bowling.

The Day After Tomorrow became my evening viewing, and it's a reasonably entertaining disaster movie, even if the science is complete hogwash, and the ending is way too preachy.

Star Trek Voyager's "Flashback" fills the hole before bed. It's a Tuvok episode, but we've got to put up with Neelix's interference at the start... not a good opening. There's a nebula, and they're going to harvest an explosive element from it... but Tuvok starts suffering from shakes, dizziness, and disorientation. And then he starts hearing voices and seeing images of a young girl hanging off a cliff and him failing to pull her up before she falls.

This is part of the anniversary celebration that also brought us "Trials and Tribble-ations," but this time we've got Tuvok doing a mind-meld with the Captain that takes them back to his first posting on the Excelsior, serving under Captain Hikaru Sulu and whatever position Janice Rand now holds. Ah, and we're dealing with the Star Trek 6 timeline, as Praxis is about to explode. And there's the energy wave...

It's a fun flashback, but it's not as good as the tribbles episode... and the parasitic lifeform masquerading as a traumatic memory is a little silly...

After Sunday morning's bout of Grand Prix shenanigans, and most of Iron Eagle 4 (so now I at least know who some of these characters are when they're used in Journeyverse fanfic), it was back to Voyager, at least for the two episodes necessary to finish the disc.

The first of the two is clearly a rejected script for Deep Space Nine... it's the annual "Torture Miles O'Brien" episode, but they're playing it with Paris and Kim and it doesn't quite work. Anyway, it's called "The Chute" and they're thrown in an alien prison with no guards and the only escape up the chute they're thrown in through.

The only good thing in the episode is the tension slowly ratcheting up between Harry and Tom, although I suppose we're supposed to get all outraged at the dumb legal and penal system that the Acreterians have...

"The Swarm" opens with B'Elanna and Tom in a shuttlecraft, looking for the cause of some odd sensor readings. They manage to let an alien ship attach itself to their hull, two aliens beam aboard and shoot them... these highly trained Star Fleet officers really need some remedial studies!

Oh, and the Doctor is playing at opera singer on the holodeck, and his co-singer has to put on a laughable accent... ah, it's Carole Davis, who we last saw doing a terrible accent as the Italian head of Wolfram et Hart in The Girl In Question. But the Doctor is starting to suffer from memory loss...

So the Doctor is suffering from a failure of his memory circuits while the rest of the crew are trying to find a way to cross the aliens' space and avoid waking up the swarm of ships that are just hanging in space doing nothing. Of course, everything goes to hell when they stop to pick up an injured survivor of an attack...

Oh, and they don't find a permanent cure for the Doctor... so why does his memory not degrade again?

After Voyager, I decide to catch up on some of the films cluttering up the shelf, and we kick off with the next of the Fox Film Noir collection, Call Northside 777. James Stewart plays a newspaper reporter who's investigating an advert calling for information about an 11 year old murder and offering a five thousand dollar reward. As he investigates, he comes to believe that the two guys thrown in gaol for the murder are innocent and he starts digging for evidence.

It's a fun little film, and the bit with the blown up photographs is an interesting view of how far technology has come since then - how long did they have to wait to transmit that enlarged photo over the wire?

The original Assault On Precinct 13 is a nice tension building Carpenter film... you can tell it's his from the opening music, which sounds a bit like the Escape From New York theme. A streetside shooting of a young girl causes the father to go after the guy who did it... he kills him, but the other gang members chase him in to the Precint 9 Division 13 police station, which closes in the morning. It's got a skeleton staff just waiting for the phones and power to go out in the morning, and they're not prepared for the siege that ensues.

This is a great film, with some fun interactions between the staff, the police officer, and the criminals who were dropped off while waiting for a doctor for one of them. There's a certain element of zombie film here, with the relentless horde of nameless, faceless thugs trying to break in, which Carpenter will return to with The Fog and Prince Of Darkness.

The Day The Earth Stood Still is the next Fox Studio Classic and it's a great little skiffy classic. Of course, everyone remembers the robot Gort and the famous line spoofed in Army of Darkness, but it's Klaatu's performance that holds this film together. His reactions to the Arlington cemetary and the Washington monument are great.

I planned to finish the night with the extremely low budget Trancers 6. It was almost entertaining in places and Zette Sullivan did a pretty good job of playing the girl possessed by her own tough as nails father, but I probably need to see at least the first film in the series to have an idea what's going on!

I didn't quite finish the night there, as I got stuck watching An American Werewolf In Paris... which is still pretty awful, but the werewolf effects are pretty good, and I've now seen the original to compare it to. Julie Delpy is pretty much the only reason to watch the sequel...

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