Tuesday 7 February 2012

Dammit, I can't find my driving moccasins anywhere!

G-Savior was an anniversary movie of some sort for Japan's monolithic Gundam franchise, which stemmed from the original Mobile Suit Gundam television series that was a bastardisation of elements from the original Starship Troopers novel and visual aspects of the first Star Wars movie filtered through the sanctimonious anti-war fixation of Japan's anime industry, an industry founded on creating interesting and exciting ways to animate things exploding, though nowadays seemingly surviving by creating new ways to animate the knickers of underage schoolgirls.
The original Mobile Suit Gundam begat several sequel series and movies as well as remakes set in alternate continuities, but this Canadian-made straight-to-dvd flick is set - for some reason - in the original MSG's Universal Century timeline despite having nothing to do with it beyond some vaguely familiar-looking Gundam/Gouf designs on the giant suits - yes, I know the names of the robot designs from a cartoon I watched ten years ago. I am not proud that I know the serial number of the original Gundam was RX78 without having to Google it, but it does illustrate that I'm a fan of Gundam as much as I am crappy sci-fi, and even though I am by all accounts the primary audience for this film, there's no getting away from the fact that it's blimmin' terrible, being more about the bland hero sneaking about for some reason - he might have been on the run, he might have been investigating something, I do not recall - than it is about giant smashy robots, of which there is merely one space fight right at the end realised with FX that would let down an episode of Babylon 5. There was a rich mythology to draw upon to make this kind of film and I wonder why they didn't do so. Terrible film, now disowned by the makers and the owners of Gundam to the point I think the dvd I have may be some kind of collectable rarity for hardcore Gundam nerds, a notion not discouraged by the fact you can watch the whole thing on Youtube and the makers could not care less.

Robot Wars is kind of a let down for me, seeing as I've waited more or less fifteen years to see it, having first glimpsed a trailer back in the late 1990s when my film viewing was dictated by whateverr I came across in the 50p rental section of my local video store(1), which was fine by me, as before me, alcohol and vaginas started spending more evenings together, I was happy enough to be entertained with the filmic oeuvre of Michael Dudikoff, Billy Blanks, Jean Claude Van Damme, Olivier Gruner, Matthias Hues - these were name draws for me, actual honest-to-god reasons for me to pay (admittedly not very much) money to watch a man with oiled abdominal muscles kick another oiled man in the head for 90 minutes, and it was likely before some magnificent opus like Talons of the Eagle or King of the Kickboxers that I first saw that juddery stop-motion giant robot scorpion and it looked like the greatest damn thing ever. Fast forward a lot of alcohol and considerably less vaginas later and I did finally get to watch it, and it is not good.
I think its main problem is the total prick main character, who was one of those anti-hero types beloved of the era but which were rarely realised particularly memorably or well, who sits in his control room of his bus (which is a giant robot scorpion with death-ray lasers - I'll admit that this is pretty cool) being an asshole and smoking cigarettes, and there's some feisty reporter types and a plot about a fake town, but it's all preamble that stops us getting to the robot fights right at the end anytime soon, even though the film's only about 71 minutes long. I didn't enjoy it much, and I think by knowing through repeated exposure how to spell the name Mattias Hues correctly that I have established my bar is pretty low.

(1) a note to anyone under fifteen years old: a video store was something that used to exist. Its primary function was the rental of what would seem to you to be large, rectangular MP3s.

Monday 6 February 2012

The law isn't what's important to me right now. What's important is you.

Screw your billion dollar budget and racist, homophobic worldview and contempt for women and jews, I go and got me a straight-to-video - yes, video, these films are that old - marathon when I want to get me some giant robot action going on.

Crash And Burn has a giant robot in it, which is a great start, but the giant robot has the face of Marvin from the BBC version of Hitch Hiker's Guide to the Galaxy, which is a terrible follow-through on an initially great premise. The robot only shows up at the end, too, with the bulk of the film being about some people staying the night in a building that has a robot in it that looks like a human and who's a bit angry at one or possibly more of the regular humans and chases them about until the end when the giant robot shows up to lift some trash out of the way of a car so the humans can drive away and the film can end. A young Megan Ward is in it, playing about with her baps and pouting at the viewer, and fair play, that's what I'd have her do, too, seeing as there's nothing much else going on to keep your attention until the stop-motion giant robot turns up.
It's clearly a product of its budget and that's presumably why the SFX only really appear right at the end as a money shot, but what there is that isn't dependent upon giant robots is competently done stuff, if uninteresting and often let down by poor acting even from Ward, who went on to not exactly be a new Glenn Close but did at least show she can acquit herself with the right material in such opuses as Joe's Apartment (where she played The Girl) and Dark Skies (where she played The Woman). It's not the best low-rent Terminator riff I've ever seen - something like APEX which goes full-on to entertain you is a better bet - and while I've seen worse, I wouldn't really recommend Crash And Burn to anyone except lovers of lo-fi post-nuclear film, giant smashy robot fights and/or stop-motion FX.

Robot Jox is actually quite charming for all the disappointing FX and lo-fi sets, and there's a bit where bit-of-a-prick leading man Achilles is locked in a room and I was going "why doesn't he just go through one of the walls? They're made of paper." and I was not actually being sarcastic, the walls are clearly made of paper in a pseudo-oriental style - then it dawned that I was supposed to be suspending disbelief and thinking they were something else entirely. I was watching the film wrong, but it's easily done when you have Gary "the human from Alien Nation" Graham giving a career best performance - yes, even better than in Enterprise when he was cast as the Vulcan who screams "WE ARE NOT EMOTIONAL BEINGS!" within five minutes of the start of the pilot episode creating a real mystery as to why Trek fans hated that show - and despite the cheapness, the terrible acting and the FX (despite being poor and occasionally underwhelming in their execution, a lot of the FX are clearly the product of a great deal of time and effort), this is still an entertaining movie. Dumb as heck and not one original thing beyond "giant robots smash the ugly off each other and we don't care how it looks" happens, but entertaining it most certainly is, with some decent ideas padding out the space between robo scraps, particularly the dystopian world in which normal human beings reside being cheaply realised but interesting enough to show that giant robots are a massive sideshow to distract the populace from their lot without spelling this out for you at any point. There's plenty going on to keep you amused even if it is delivered in an unconvincing manner now and then, and it's definitely one of those films that they invented "so bad it's good" as a critique for, with failings mostly in ambition falling short of execution, because this is a film about blokes piloting giant robots in arena battles that ends with - SPOILER - sworn enemies fist-bumping. Don't go in expecting great things, just go in knowing at the end of it you won't hate yourself as much as you did at the end of Transformers 1, 2 or 3.

Friday 3 February 2012

He couldn't have been very happy ever - he didn't trust people. He seemed to hate them.

I'm going to be published sometime this year. It's a watershed moment for me, as I've really only puttered around in independent anthologies and small press fanzines for the most part since they're more accommodating to someone who's got a work schedule that reads "when I can be arsed", but this year, Com.X will publish Babble, and the last few weeks I have been editing the pages already in the bag and - not unsurprisingly for something over a hundred pages long and drawn by someone with a drinking problem and ADD over a four year period which included a still-ongoing brush with RSI, arse bleeding of a magnitude that went from funny to disturbing and which now requires surgery because dignity is overrated, two deaths in the immediate family, a cancer scare, a house move, two computers dying on me, and my boring GP giving me the "stop drinking or die" speech while wearing the ugliest tie I have ever laid eyes on - I came to notice that the pages are wildly inconsistent and I have to grudgingly admit I am just not quite there in terms of my craft. So with that realisation that others far outstrip my own ability in creating comics and how much I have to learn, I have to take the only sensible step and resent Alan Moore. I don't think I'll improve much beyond the point I'm at now, so I may as well slag him off rather than concentrating on upping my own game.

Oh, I also can't publish any screen grabs, either, until I get the book finished proper, at which point I shall be taking a break from drawing, using the computer, playing videogames or even using remote controls to see if I can make myself go insane - or rather to see if my RSI will bloody well fuck off for two whole minutes so I can have day without pain, though if you really want to see the final few pages from Babble, you can probably grab a free .CBR of the book from a torrent site two hours after it goes on sale. In the meantime, I have to pad out the blog with text in place of the screen grabs, which means I have to come up with something to say. Thank Christ I hate Alan Moore now - I won't even have to make sense or be consistent.