Terminator 2 at 20

03-Jul-11 12:35 PM by
Filed under Films; 1 comment.

Today marks the twentieth anniversary of the release of one of the greatest films of all-time. I am speaking of course of Terminator 2: Judgment Day. I already sang this film's praises on the tenth anniversary of Judgment Day, so I won't again fawn over its intricate plot, layered characters, and stunning action. But I will offer this creative amalgamation of line art and stop-gap motion in tribute to the best sequel ever:

Do Androids Dream of Electric Apples?

14-Jan-08 12:00 PM by
Filed under Films; Comments Off on Do Androids Dream of Electric Apples?

Targeting systems online.

Targeting systems online.

When David Szetela delivered his keynote speech at KansasFest 2007, he revealed a fact that is little-known to all but diehard geeks (which was, of course, exactly who he was addressing). It connected two of my favorite things: the Apple II computer and the Terminator movies.

In the Terminator films, the audience is often treated to the perspective of these cybernetic organisms sent from the future to change the past. This red-hued vision makes assessments and executes routines faster than the human eye can perceive — but if you watch a certain scene in the first movie frame-by-frame, you may spot some familiar algorithms.

Read the rest of this entry at Computerworld.com »

The Power of RiffTrax in the Palm of Your Hands

04-Sep-07 12:44 PM by
Filed under Humor; 1 comment.

I've previously blogged about what the masterminds behind MST3K are up to these days: RiffTrax, which gives us a whole new way to lampoon and enjoy Hollywood's best (and worst).

This weekend, RiffTrax presented its fans with a new gift: RiffTrax DIY. Mike Nelson, Kevin Murphy, and Bill Corbett have recorded hundreds of sound clips that you can drag and drop to any time index in any video, using their Web-based editing tool. This free product creates the potential for fans to apply the style and wit of Mike, Kevin, and Bill to design MST3K-style parodies of any practically video in existence! Budding artists have already used it to riff on everything from Batman & Robin to Sailor Moon. (Me, I just used it to mock my brother) Any riff made through September 6th is also eligible for fantastic prizes!

The genius of the tool is that it can import any YouTube video. In fact, this is required to use RiffTrax DIY, as stated in their FAQ: "RiffTrax DIY does not store or host any videos. All videos are provided courtesy of other websites. If you wish to Riff your own video, you need to host it on YouTube and come back to RiffTrax DIY with the URL." Apparently, what RiffTrax does is save your custom audio overlays and play them with someone else's video track — just like a real RiffTrax! And completely free of copyright infringement, too. The downside is that the site currently does not check to see if a video has any riffs enabled before saving it to the DIY directory, creating the potential for the site to become cluttered with YouTubers looking for a new distribution channel.

The site is currently in beta. The designers are aware of bugs such as the longer riffs cutting off during preview; also, I hope in later versions, watching your own movies when logged in as yourself will not count toward its number of views. More sound effects are also coming, which is great: even the hundreds currently available don't take long to hear.

Features still to come include the ability to upload your own audio riffs, and to export your final product. I question the value of either of these options. First, anyone who can record and upload their own audio probably has the hardware and software to be doing their own editing, without the need for RiffTrax DIY. Second, YouTube doesn't allow video exportation; why should RiffTrax? Not only that, but I'm such a fan of RiffTrax that I want people to have to go to this site to watch these riffs. The traffic is well-deserved!

So go ahead and get riffing — and reply here with your favorites!

Judgment Day

29-Aug-07 11:28 AM by
Filed under Films; 6 comments.

Three billion human lives ended on August 29th, 1997. The survivors of the nuclear fire called the war Judgment Day. They lived only to face a new nightmare: the war against the machines. The computer which controlled the machines, Skynet, sent two Terminators back through time. Their mission: to destroy the leader of the human resistance, John Connor, my son. The first Terminator was programmed to strike at me in the year 1984, before John was born. It failed. The second was set to strike at John himself when he was still a child. As before, the resistance was able to send a lone warrior, a protector for John. It was just a question of which one of them would reach him first.

Thus begins one of the most kickass films of all time.

I may be perceived as a stereotypical, testosterone-driven ape when I declare the explosion-laden Terminator 2 to be one of my favorite movies ever, but only the superficial viewer would make such a judgment. T2 is a film about perseverance, courage, family, and free will. It has moments of introspection that are both poignant and terrifying, not just for the audience but for the characters, leading our female protagonist to break down in tears when she realizes she has become that which she most abhors. She is not alone, as we all see our own fears played out in this film: not only our own internal struggles, but also that artifact of the Cold War: the futility of resistance against total annihilation, depicted in what several U.S. federal nuclear testing labs unofficially declared "the most accurate depiction of a nuclear blast ever created for a fictional motion picture."

Even now that the film's special effects are not as groundbreaking as they were in 1991, or now that the jaw-dropping twist — when the hero and villain reveal their identities, shattering our expectation of who to root for — is well-known, this film still stands the test of time, with a title character who is both a hero and villain for all ages.

So happy tenth anniversary to the realization of your worst nightmare. May you live only to face a new horror…

Quarterly Review

08-Aug-07 2:45 PM by
Filed under Films, Star Trek; 3 comments.

The June/July issue of Geek Monthly has a cover story on what a great year 1982 was for geeks. We may not have noticed it at the time, but it is astonishing what a plethora of great sci-fi films came out all in that one year. Unfortunately, some of these films I did not see upon their initial release, and some are not as great today as they were 25 years ago. Nonetheless, here in brief is my rundown of their list:

Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
Considered "the zenith of the Trek feature films", I agree this film began the even-numbered successes that persisted until Nemesis. The tie-in to the original series, Ricardo Montalban as the villain, and the ending were all fantastic facets… but for all that, I still think I prefer the more lighthearted The Voyage Home.

(more…)

Prepare To Be Regurgitated

13-Feb-07 1:42 PM by
Filed under Films, Television; 10 comments.

Terminator 2, added this week to the iTunes Store, is one of the three best films ever made. Intense action sequences, gut-wrenchingly authentic emotions, and surprising, jaw-dropping special effects (for 1991) warrant T2 being the only film I've purchased on DVD more than twice.

I made a point of watching the film on August 29th, 1997, the supposed Judgment Day. If only the franchise had ended there: Terminator 3 is best summed up in the final words of my review. "A great movie? Yes. A great Terminator film? No."

Now, the blasphemy continues: the tenth anniversary of the war against the machines will be commemorated with The Sarah Connor Chronicles, a television series detailing the years between the second and third films. (News courtesy of StarTrek.com)

I question Terminator's capacity to exist in this medium. Are we looking at an Incredible Hulk-type "wandering hero" format, with Sarah and John Connor, on the lam from the future, doing good deeds until a robotic Mr. McGee catches up with them? Will it have the budget for action sequences that made the first two films so legendary? How will the show tie into next year's supposed Terminator 4 film? Never mind that this show will be the first incarnation of the series to omit Arnold Schwarzenegger. But hey, it worked for Predator, right? Err…

I can't think of any movie that has successfully spun off into a television series: My Big Fat Greek Wedding, Uncle Buck… well, okay, there's Buffy. So maybe the rule of thumb is that, between a movie and a TV show, at least one will bite. If so, Terminator passed that threshold long ago.

Though I'm thrilled at (and jealous of) the opportunity of an actress from my hometown to attach her name to as geeky a franchise as this, I'd rather the series had been terminated gracefully sixteen years ago.