Tuesday, February 23, 2016

Basement Matinee - The SAW Franchise

The SAW Franchise certainly made it's money... but is it something I enjoyed?



From 2004 to 2010, the SAW Franchise held a strangle hold on late October with 7 films that had a combined gross of over $870 Million dollars, with the stimated cost of each film being a total of about $65 Million... so to say the films made serious 'bank' is of course an understatement. And I'm all for people making money. And I understand the series has its fan-base, and they are excited for 'Saw: Legacy'

The thing is... I don't consider SAW to be a horror franchise, because for me, it is a constant example and reminder of the low standards I had when it comes to movie. With the exception of the first film, which is more of a psychological thriller that I do consider a classic, the remaining films rely on shock kills, and over the top antics, that have basically earned SAW the nickname of torture porn, relying on shock, and basically a 'can we top this' hot shoting attitude. Problem is, at some point you can't top yourself and you have to actually rely on a story, and doing things in a traditional manner, which would lead you alienating your audience.

And I know what people are going to say, that the slash-flicks of the 80s were that too... to which I say, no they weren't it. Halloween, Friday the 13th, Nightmare on Elm Street, yes they had over the top deaths, but there was an actual story being told, and there was effort put into making you want to at least like the characters and hoped they survived. SAW basically went the other way, making the characters so cookie-cutter that when they got whacked, you didn't care, in fact viewers laugh and cheer, a clear first sign indicator that they weren't going for the film itself, it was for the spectral of a simulated death.

And don't think I'm against 'bad people' getting what's coming to them, the thing is, in any decent story, these 'horrible' folks have some redeeming qualities... in SAW, again with the exception of the first film, the characters were just bodies for the next 'torture endued death'. Hell the scariest film I've ever scene would be John Carpenter's The Thing, where the story built the tension, making you wonder who can be trusted and who is the creature, and when a character ended up dying, it served a purpose to further enhance the horror. In SAW, there is none of that.

Now if you enjoy the SAW Franchise, awesome, I'm happy for you, but you won't see me in line to see the new film when it hits theaters in 2017. ..

Lets Play Star Trek Online: All That Glitters

Are you familiar with Voyager's Emergency Medical Hologram? He's quite unique, even for an old EMH Mark I. Now he holds rank in Starfleet in his own right! We've received a message that the Doctor requires assistance to deal with a medical situation on an Ocampa freighter in the Shenda system. He is currently en route in one of Voyager's shuttles. Normally I would send a medical Vessel, but we have seen a spike in Vaadwaur attacks and I want to make sure he has all the resources he will need. Could you go to the Shenda system and assist the Doctor?

So we're back to the actual story, and as you can tell by the mission intro, we have a special guest for this mission, The Doctor, voiced by Robert Picardo, who played the character for seven seasons on Star Trek: Voyager. Much like Ethan Phillips as Neelix, Picardo steps seamlessly back into a role. The voice work is rather solid, in my opinion.

Now this mission itself, is rather well balanced, opening in space, beaming down, with combat spread out so that its not to overwhelming for the player. The actual story introduces Gaul, the leader of the Vaadwaur, a rather self-righteous villain who twists things around so that it benefits him in the long run... which leads to the cold-blooded massacre of the Talaxians on the Asteroid base.

This mission is also notable for the 'who do you save' element when you have two groups of hostages, but can only save one, regardless of how fast you are. Its perfect for the story being told, and the first time in Star Trek Online this is a factor, though there is no consequence or difference regardless of who you choose to save.

Next time... it's another set of Patrol Missions with 'Know Your Enemies..."  

Nosalgia Trip - Quantum Leap

This week's Nostalgia Trip is a quite a 'Quantum Leap'

VLOG VERSION - Scroll Down For The Blog Version

BLOG VERSION Theorizing that one could time travel within his own lifetime, Doctor Sam Beckett stepped into the Quantum Leap accelerator - and vanished. He awoke to find himself trapped in the past, facing mirror images that were not his own, and driven by an unknown force to change history for the better. His only guide on this journey is Al, an observer from his own time, who appears in the form of a hologram that only Sam can see and hear. And so Doctor Beckett finds himself leaping from life to life, striving to put right what once went wrong and hoping each time that his next leap... will be the leap home.

That my friends, is the opening narration, or one of them, for Quantum Leap, one of the most unique televised sci-fi series of all time.

Created by Donald P Bellsario... the guy behind other shows like Magnum PI, Airworlf, JAG and NCIS (Wouldn't that be a hell of a cross-over)... and Starring Scott Backula and Dean Stockwell, the series was a staple of NBC from the spring of 1989 to the spring of 1993. I will admit , I didn't watch the show when it first aired, instead watching it when it was syndicated and of course thanks to things like Netflix and Hulu, able to stream the entire series in epic binge watching marathons.

Now one of the most unique aspects of the show was the fact that our hero, Sam Beckett, leaped into the 'life' of a different person every episode (with one noteable exception), in different time periods and situations. For example, he ended up being a boxer in the early 70s in one episode, then the very next a veterinarian in the mid 1950s the very next, followed by being a mafia hit-man in the 1960s. And don't think that gender and race were a factor, some of the best episodes of the series saw Sam become a woman (for example in season 2's 'What Price Gloria') and a person of color (for example season 3's Black on White Fire, where Sam is an African-American med student caught up in the middle of the Watts Riots of 1965).

Of course to say the show didn't have some quirks is an understatement... as Sam when he leaped from one situation to the next, was often in the proverbial deep end of the pool, for becoming a soldier in Vietnam just before a platoon is ambushed, to being part of the Triple-K (you know the guys with the white hoods), being a woman whose about to give birth, or being a guy who is strapped into an electric chair.

What a lot of people have a problem with the show is that it is built around 'happy endings', to which I say, what's wrong with that? The show had it's premise, it's on-going story arc of hoping Sam manages to return home (which he does for one episode, but the kick in the crotch 'series final' says he never does), so there is something bittersweet about everything. And of course, there is the 'modern' take on what a 'sexy male lead' in a series should look like... and while Stephan Amell on Arrow is jacked to the damn gills... the physique Scott Backula had in Quantum Leap is much more realistic for the average Joe.

Of course, I have to talk about the on-screen chemistry of Backula and Stockwell, which in a way is very much 'odd-couple' like, but it works so well, and lets face it, it had to work, cause they were the only characters for the entire series. Its a testament to the acting ability to make something work when the only thing consistent on each episode are Sam and Al, since everything else changes.

Now as I said earlier, the show did give a kick in crotch ending, Quantum Leap ended with a title card telling viewers that Sam never got home. Granted it was probably due to finding out the show was not going to be renewed for a sixth season, but for it be outright stated that he never did make it back, really blows.

But... with the recent success of the X-Files mini-series on FOX... why can't NBC pull Quantum Leap out of mothballs to bring some actual closure to show... oh right, Scott Backlua is starring on NCIS New Orleans, which airs on CBS. But anyway, you probably see my thinking here, a short mini-series of 6 episodes, perfect for a Summer Run would be perfect for the shows 30th anniversary in a couple of years, and maybe fix what did go wrong with how it ended.

Of course that's just my opinion on this little trip of nostalgia.

Additional Footage & Music In The Vlog Quantum Leap NBC, 1989-1993

11/13/2019 Grandia Highlights

Night 3 of Grandia is in the books as we made it to Luc Village. We'll return to this game on Monday, becaues of course Thursdays are fo...