Playpen

Welcome to the Playpen, our space for ferrety banter and whimsical snippets of things that aren't quite long enough for articles (although they might be) but that caught your eye anyway.

at 18:50 on 03-09-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
So I saw Apollo 18 last night.

Not gonna lie, as a horror movie, it doesn't work that well. We essentially spend the entire movie with two characters (the two guys in the LEM, natch), but the script doesn't really give them much to do beyond reacting to whatever's going on outside. The reveal of what's menacing our heroes is also, but be honest, kinda dumb.
It's vacuum-dwelling spider-things that can turn into rocks and back. I was willing to suspend my disbelief over them existing (mostly because if you have something actually living on the moon's surface, we've already thrown conventional wisdom regarding biology out the window), but even I have to admit it's silly.


I think this movie shows the limits of "found footage" as a narrative device. The whole film is presented as an artifact cobbled together out of footage broadcast from cameras placed on the lunar surface and in the Apollo LEM and CM, so everything looks like Apollo footage. The problem is that Apollo footage just isn't that scary, and the action in the movie isn't enough to make up for it. About halfway through the movie I started thinking that the whole thing would've been stronger if the director had just shot the movie traditionally, where you can use all the traditional tricks horror movies use, not to mention gaining the ability to jump between locations to bulk up the story a bit more. It also didn't help that the video/audio distortions sometimes made it hard to make out just what was going on.

All that being said, I'm still glad I saw this movie. As a technical achievement alone, it was very impressive. Everything looked authentic, and I did get a kick out of
seeing the Soviet lunar lander in all its glory
. Maybe the only thing that would keep someone watching it would be enthusiasm for just seeing astronauts do astronaut things, but for me that was enough.

In short, an ambitious experiment, but a failure nonetheless.
permalink
at 11:28 on 03-09-2011, Wardog
Choice of Games sure looks shiny these days.
permalink
at 00:07 on 02-09-2011, Alasdair Czyrnyj
We're decidedly in minority, but yes, we are out there.

Really? Just out of curiosity, what do you like about them? This isn't the setup for a joke or anything; I'd just like to know.
permalink
at 19:00 on 01-09-2011, Sunnyskywalker
Supposedly Lucas is against colorizing old black and white films, or at least he was at some point. Because he does understand the concept of film history and the integrity of the original product. For anyone's movies but his own. I can understand him wanting to market his preferred version as the "real" or "main" version (not that I agree with all the changes)... but come on, you just don't try to sideline and erase a major piece of film history!
permalink
at 18:00 on 01-09-2011, Robinson L
valse de la lune: There are prequels fans?!

We're decidedly in minority, but yes, we are out there.
permalink
at 15:48 on 01-09-2011, Arthur B
The sheer amount of CGI tweaking he's done to some scenes would make that difficult but I'm sure people have tried.
permalink
at 15:32 on 01-09-2011, Andy G
I always watch on a laptop screen, so perhaps that's why I've not noticed the difference.

Maybe what's needed is for someone to carefully re-edit over his more gratuitous additions to the revised versions with footage from the original.
permalink
at 15:00 on 01-09-2011, Arthur B
Does the Blu-Ray version include the original versions also?

Not that I am aware of.

Also the original versions packed with the special edition DVDs really aren't great. First off, they're sourced from laserdisc as opposed to the original masters (which, according to Lucas, have been destroyed), so the quality takes a hit right there. Secondly, they're not in anamorphic widescreen, which to put it simply means that they will look crap on a widescreen TV (either the picture will be horribly stretched out, or it'll have black borders on all sides).

I've got the special edition DVDs precisely for the purpose of having the original versions and I'm glad to own them in any form at all, but the picture quality is markedly worse than if they'd been released in anamorphic widescreen and sourced from the original masters. I imagine on Blu-Ray the difference will be even worse.

Generally Blu-Ray releases are a good choice for anything which was originally recorded on film (because film's natural "resolution" is vastly superior to standard DVD resolution so Blu-Rays get a bit closer to replicating the original picture quality) but a non-anamorphic release on Blu-Ray sourced from the laserdiscs (and therefore restricted to standard laserdisc resolution) would look so, so much worse than the main feature that it'd be almost laughable.

I'm not obsessive about picture quality, but I will buy Blu-Rays of things I already own on DVD and like just for the sake of getting a better picture (and likewise I'll buy an anamorphic DVD to replace one with a crappy non-anamorphic transfer because that also gives you a big boost in picture quality). And in the case of the original Star Wars trilogy, the swooshy awesome special effects were an enormously important reason why they were a commercial success on release and why the theatrical versions are so important from a film history perspective. Only making the theatrical cuts available in clearly and objectively inferior picture formats is entirely within Lucas's rights, but it's also a shameless act of revisionism which is going to make the job of anyone trying to understand why they were such a hit back in the late 1970s/early 1980s markedly more difficult.
permalink
at 13:51 on 01-09-2011, Arthur B
Yeah, and star wars has always been lucas-oriented, and the fact that anyone else actually liked it was enormous coincidence raised a smile with me. Not the first time I've seen the point raised - Plinkett says similar things, I've seen the "Lucas doesn't understand why the original films were good and only succeeded by accident" idea raised elsewhere - but it's a snappy way of putting it.

I'll look forward to getting Star Wars on Blu-Ray after Lucas dies and the LucasFilm guys retrieve the original theatrical master copies from the secret vault they were hidden in when Lucas ordered them destroyed.
permalink
at 13:45 on 01-09-2011, Andy G
Craig Owens that is.
permalink
at 13:44 on 01-09-2011, Andy G
There may be light on the horizon for Doctor Who yet. Everyone's favourite character is coming back later this season: Craig! Played by James Corden. I can't wait!
permalink
at 13:40 on 01-09-2011, Andy G
My DVDs include the original versions, which is ideal. There are worse things than lightsabers with shadows.

Does the Blu-Ray version include the original versions also?
permalink
at 12:55 on 01-09-2011, Dan H
The Chainsawsuit comic is indeed hilarious, although I almost think the funniest bit is the comment underneath, where the author observes:

so now when vader throws the emperor into the throne room pit, he goes “no. nooooo.” because before that, we assumed vader was on the emperor’s side, and in his zeal to celebrate the murder of his son, accidentally threw the emperor to his death
permalink
at 09:06 on 01-09-2011, Wardog
Re: NOOOOOOOOO!

I can't believe Lucas's technique for dealing with something superlatively stupid is to do it AGAIN.
permalink
at 05:57 on 01-09-2011, Melissa G.
Oh my god, Cleverbot vs. Cleverbot. This is pretty fantastic.
permalink
at 05:35 on 01-09-2011, Fin
There's at least one prequel fan, I think. His name is George.

I hope the continued shitting on the original trilogy eventually leads to more Plinkett reviews.
permalink
at 04:40 on 01-09-2011, valse de la lune
There are prequels fans?!
permalink
at 03:30 on 01-09-2011, Robinson L
I read the article first, and was cringing by the time I got to actually playing the video.

It actually wasn't as bad as I expected ... not nearly as awful as the Big No from Revenge of the Sith. On the other hand, that came with the movie, whereas as this is later revision to a scene from already-released movie which was perfectly functional as it was.

Watch it, Lucas. Even prequels fans think you're starting to crack.
permalink
at 02:16 on 01-09-2011, Guy
NOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!!
permalink
at 00:49 on 01-09-2011, Arthur B
Oh for fuck's sake, George Lucas. Someone at LucasFilm needs to hide the key to the editing room until George faces up to this horrible addiction which is robbing him of his dignity bit by bit.

At least we got a fairly funny Chainsaw Suit comic out of the news.
permalink
at 00:41 on 01-09-2011, Arthur B
I'm sure Moffatt will find some other character to be insufferable about once River Song is out of the picture. Probably the Doctor, at which point it'd be like RTD never left.
permalink
at 00:36 on 01-09-2011, Robinson L
I was annoyed by River Song right from the get-go. Ptolemaeus and at least one other sister took an instant hate to her which has only grown more virulent with each succeeding appearance. (She'd be so happy to see other people expressing dislike for River Song.)

I suppose she might've been better in "Time of Angels"/"Flesh and Stone," but she still had that More Awesome Than Thou vibe going full strength. That's the one where she shows up the Doctor flying his own goddamn TARDIS better than he can.

I wouldn't say she's at the nexus of all Moffat's worst problems as a writer. He seems to share with Davies and Joss Whedon (and Rowling, come to that) a delusion that he's writing something really deep and meaningful and so on when he's only delivering tiresome melodrama. I will agree though, that this problem has grown worse simultaneously with River Song growing more central to the narrative.
permalink
at 19:58 on 31-08-2011, Janne Kirjasniemi
That's true. In A Time of Angels she was competent, but somehow plausibly, but somehow it has been overdone after that and perhaps overdone in execution, that her action-hero aura seems cartoony or more of a juvenile sort of badassery. Dr. Who is cartoony and childish at times too, but perhaps in different tone. But I might be reading things in my own way. The thing lacks a certain subtlety in my opinion.
permalink
at 18:54 on 31-08-2011, Orion
I actually liked River best in A Time of Angels, one of her only appearances where she was just another competent character interacting with the episode's plot rather BEING the plot in her own right. That's the moment when I agreed to believe she's as cool as Moffat wants her to be, not that she's been demonstrating it lately.
permalink