Saturday, 10 November 2012

Frakkin' Toasters

It seems I'm going to be trying that whole "being prolific" thing with blogging. At least in the sense that for the first time since I started this blog in January I've done two posts in rather quick succession. But then again, in my last entry, I did promise my judgements on Skyfall and Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome. Since I have watched both, it's time to get on with the judging.

Of course, no blog entry would be complete without my establishing ramble about the historical context of how things came to be in my life. The James Bond movies were strangely ever-present during my childhood, perhaps because of the influence of my ownership of a Nintendo64 and my love of the timeless classic, GoldenEye. So we'll say it all kicked off for me around the mid-1990s, taking full hold around 1999 when television channel ITV went a bit James Bond happy and were showing one Bond movie a week (or maybe a day, I can't entirely remember). I pretty much religiously taped these movies, watching and absorbing useless trivia facts and favourite lines ("Don't touch that...! That's my lunch." - GoldenEye, Q to Bond). Pierce Brosnan was the definitive Bond as far as I was concerned and I think his movies will remain my favourites. That being said, I am quite enjoying the new Daniel Craig movies.

Now, just for a moment, let's have a little discourse on the major differences between all these movies. You see, in last ten years or so, movie studios have gone a bit reboot mad. On some levels, it's been brilliant - Christopher Nolan's trilogy of Batman movies - and on others, not so much (Superman Returns. Sorry, Brandon Routh. But we loved you in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). But the James Bond franchise is one of those Marmite Principle things - people tend to love it or hate it. Of course there's grey area ambiguity where people neither love nor hate, but for the sake of argument and discourse it's the Marmite Principle. So in 2006, when Eon Productions where gearing up for Bond 21, they decided to reboot - take the series in a different direction. Dispose of the gadgets and make it grittier. Make Bond get his hands thoroughly dirty. And I'd say, personally, I think it worked. I enjoyed Casino Royale. I did miss Q and all the wonderful gadgets (I still do), but it seems, with Skyfall, there may be a light at the end of the tunnel on that score.

Judgement time!

I'll start with this - I really enjoyed Skyfall. It was almost grand, but still gritty - the villain, brilliantly portrayed by Javier Bardem, wasn't just some power-crazy megalomaniac, but by gods could he bring MI6 to their proverbial knees. The premise of his character, Silva, is that he's a former MI6 agent with connections to M's past. He's deranged and he wants to kill M. Naturally, 007 turns up and decides to be a snag in that little plan. What ensues is your standard fare of chaos, mayhem, one-liners and things going *BOOM*. And very awesomely so.

What's interesting about Skyfall is it's sense of the past. 2012 is the fiftieth anniversary of the release of Dr No, the first ever Bond movie. So naturally, there's a lot of cheeky references to past movies - especially the classic Aston Martin DB5. But more than that - the scriptwriters not only interwove those little references to the last fifty years of Bond movies, but they also delved into the chequered pasts of our beloved characters - James Bond himself and his boss, the ever-wonderful M. Once again, Judi Dench is on excellent form as Bond's superior. The relationship between the two characters is explored in a lot greater depth in this movie, once more linking in to the theme of the past being thrown at us throughout the entire movie.

On a happy note, the movie sees the return of Q. This time, it's the youthful Ben Whishaw taking the mantle of MI6 Quartermaster. Now let's face it - Desmond Llewellyn will forever be the definitive Q. John Cleese did a sterling job living up to the legend after Llewellyn unfortunate passing in 1999 and from what I saw in Skyfall, Ben Whishaw will be bringing his own unique charm and wit to the role. So while Skyfall does dwell a lot in the past, there's a glimmer of hope for the future - although Q quips "Were you expecting an exploding pen? We don't go in for that sort of thing anymore", I hope to see some level of plausible gadgetry being developed by Whishaw's Q Branch in future movies. He's also a bit of hacker/computer wiz and was given quite the expanded role in Skyfall compared to the role of Q in previous movies. Again, pinning one or two hopes on this young whipper-snapper.

In overall conclusion, Skyfall was a very much enjoyable movie.

Now, Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome.

Loyal Colonials and Frakkin' Toasters everywhere have been champing at the bit since the demise of prequel series Caprica for the promised release of prequel series Blood and Chrome. We've been through a lot in that time. A promise of a television release downgraded to webseries and constant delays and setbacks. But finally, last night, episodes one and two were posted on YouTube! Thank you, Machinima Prime!

Watch them here: Episode 1 and Episode 2.

First off, I did enjoy the episodes. Short and sweet, but what do you expect from a webseries? And I'll be honest, I was very sceptical about Blood and Chrome. It was Luke Pasqualino, the actor chosen to play Bill Adama. For one thing - where the frak is his gruff voice? But credit to the boy I watched in Skins, he actually pulls it off!

The premise for those rooks just joining the worlds of Battlestar Galatica is thus: it's year ten of the Cylon War. Fresh out of the academy, Ensign William Adama has been assigned to Battlestar Galactica, one of the fiercist (and newest at this point) battlestars in the Colonial Fleet. Adama is a typical rook - he's cocky, eager and wants to rack up a quick kill count and few dozen medals, then return to Caprica a hero.

Of course, nothing ever happens that way. War is Hell, remember?

Adama is quickly put in his place and assigned to pilot a Raptor, not the Viper he had been hoping for. His ECO, Lieutenant Coker Fasjovik, is bitter and war-weary, coming to the end of his mandatory second tour of duty. He wants out, a concept Adama can't quite wrap his head around. I'm intrigued to see how this plays out through the series.

Now the budget isn't as big as the re-imagined 2004 series. There's a lot of CGI backgrounds, which doesn't necessarily bother me - it's the changes they've made that irk my brain a little bit. Galactica is one of my favourite ships, it's been discussed before. So when I see what they've done to the interior of my beloved Battlestar with their CGI, I'm a little confused. I can easily explain it away - by the 2004 series, Galactica's been in service for forty years. There's probably been endless updates and refits. So while it irks me, I can get over it.

There's not a huge lot to say about Blood and Chrome for the moment. So far, I like it. I might try and make it a weekly thing to keep this blog updated on my growing opinions of the series, might not. We'll see. Regardless, by the end of Blood and Chrome, I'll likely have a lot to say. I might not say it week to week, but by gods I'll be saying something eventually. For now, it's good. Carry on.

Well, that's all for today. Until next time...

(Song of the Mind: Immigrant Song (Cover) - Karen O, Trent Reznor, Atticus Ross)

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