Monday, August 17, 2009

You Slackers...

Saw three sci-fi pieces over the weekend. I'm not going to explain or review them. That would be your job, O you sci fi wunderkind. Of course, if you screw it up, I'll give you the lamebrain explanation, which you won't like at all.

"Knowing. " Angels, ETs, and GPS coordinates. A hearing aid, a little girl who could be the dead ringer for Tim Rice's weird wife as a girl, and a blatantly asked and apparently unanswered question about the meaning of the universe. Go for it. As a footnote, guessed every single major plot development before it happened, incluiding the tree in the final scene. But it was still better than some the icons I've heard you all prating about.

"Suspect Zero." Excellent cast,good acting, more GPS coordinates, and a plot premise I was familar with beforehand. I know "remote viewing" when I see it. And I know the U.S. military actually used it. So, why is it, as the better half said, far-fetched?

"Rise." Okay. Vampire pic. Different, though. Lucy Liu, Michael Chiklis, Cara Gugino, and Robert Forster Interesting take actually, if not actually a good take. Vampires who are only slightly more powerful than human beings. much sloppier eaters, and far less prevalent in the population at large. Or was the whole thing an excuse for Lucy Liu to be nude a lot? Or am I supposed to be cheered by the lack of GPS coordinates? (P.S. Michael Chiklis is not only a wimp with vampires; he's also short.)

I don't know. You're supposed to tell me. What do you tell me? Nothing.


  1. I got tricked into watching "Next", which was the last movie where Nicholas Cage was supposed to know the future. You're asking me to watch another one?

    Can you at least make assurances that these films are halfway decent? My wife is not going to buy any story I feed her if I am suddenly interested in watching a movie with a nude Lucy Liu running around if it's not any good.

    And if you've got time to watch all of these, when are you starting on Babylon 5? Just asking...

  2. I've seen both Next and Knowing.

    Like most Nicholas Cage movies in recent years, I think both would've benefited greatly from his complete absence. I can't for the life of me figure out why he's still getting work in anything outside Sci-Fi Channel (no, I will not use their cutesy new designation) monster films. In a just world, the guy would be happy to get fourth billing under Lance Henriksen, Lou Diamond Philips, and Gilbert Gottfried's voice in another made-for-television Pumpkinhead sequel.

    Story-wise, I guess Knowing wasn't quite as vile to me because the big plot twist didn't come off as so contrived. The ending of Next ranked right down there with classics like the St. Elsewhere series finale, 100% pure medical-grade deus ex machina. And being an effects junkie, I couldn't help but love some of the eye candy...c'mon, that plane crash was pretty damn nuts.

    Never even heard of the other two. Suspect Zero sounds vaguely interesting, though years of listening to Art Bell during late-night networking shifts left me a little burned out on the "remote viewing" schtick.

    Eduardo, tell her you're watching it because you're interested in seeing how Chiklis' portrayal of police technique has developed since his The Shield days.

  3. Like most Nicholas Cage movies in recent years, I think both would've benefited greatly from his complete absence.

    Good One. As for your advice on "Rise", I guess I can try that one but I doubt I can pull of playing dumb with, "Oh, is Lucy Liu in this? I had no idea."

  4. Imagine a 5-year-old aspiring chef. One day, Gordon Ramsay Jr. decides to make the best dish in history, by combining his two favorite desserts: chocolate cake and sour gummi worms. Scorning finesse, he pours a bag of sour gummi worms onto a slice of cake, and with his bare hands smushes the two together.

    When the carnage ends and the dust clears, he hands you a plate piled with what looks like a medly of tie-dye brains and salt-n-pepper mud.

    How would that taste? A lot like Suspect Zero, a movie made from two great premises smushed together with all the discrimination of our would-be Wolfgang Puck.

    Remote viewing is fascinating because it might be real, in real life. As a fictional "super-power," it's dull. Not all that different from a thousand other plot-contrived powers we've seen before. To compel us, Suspect Zero needs to peak from behind the curtain from time to time and remind the audience "this stuff is based on real authentic fact, don't forget." It doesn't. *That's* why it seems far-fetched. And why the best thing on the Suspect Zero DVD is the documentary in the bonus features.

    (Or, failing the above, the movie would had to have been made so well, it sucked us utterly into its world and did not let us leave until it was good and ready. And it definitely wasn't that.)

    And really, all the remote viewing stuff should have been its own flick. Suspect Zero should have been *about* the serial killer who leaves no trace. And the efforts to track him down. Here's a quick off-the-cuff sketch of how that might play out:

    - Greenhorn FBI agent learns about the "Suspect Zero" theory, which postulates a serial killer so thorough and inventive, he has no pattern and leaves no clue. Some profilers are convinced such a killer exists *because* they can conceive of him.
    - Like many before him, he gets sucked in, spending more and more of his time trying to figure out how to find the unfindable.
    - Inexorably, he decides has to *become* (a) Suspect Zero, to fully get inside this once-hypothetical-but-now-all-the-way-real-in-this-agent's-mind guy's head.
    - He starts off Dexter-style, killing only those who deserve it, but that's a pattern in itself, so his victims get progressively less evil. When he kills a baby in a carriage because he *knows* he can make it look like an accident, he truly becomes a bad guy. But he, and we, can see he's made the crucial change in himself to profile the "real" Suspect Zero. He could actually find and catch his man. Is all this worth it?
    - One day, *he* gets attacked, and narrowly escapes death. Does someone know what he is? More awful: If so, does that mean he's not really a Suspect Zero?
    - He outwits his attackers, who turn out to be FBI agents themselves. Like him, they became consumed by the Suspect Zero story, and like him, they all became Suspects Zero.
    - Every couple years, a new agent enters the Suspect Zero "field." The veteran Suspects Zero try to kill him in a kind of initiation: If he survives, they figure he can contribute some unique insight to their "research."
    - Is there a Suspect Zero out there? Besides the nutzoid FBI guys? The search continues...

    That's the story I wanted. Something that dealt *with* Suspect Zero, and specifically *not* some other goddamn thing.

    Other points: Nick Cage hasn't been any good since Face/Off, Carla Cugino is the new Michael Caine, and Lucy Liu naked justifies *any* movie.