Sunday, April 22, 2018

Beyond Skyline (2017), Lost in Space (2018), and spiders

I'm trying a new format for my reviews this time, to see how it pans out.  I was going to add a TL;DR version, but that's just counter-productive.  This isn't Twitter.  So I just simplified my comments into what I like and dislike, and I'll let you guys make your own decisions.  I'm going to review a movie, a series, and give you a little update about my personal life in this post.  The movie and series are all available on Netflix, because I don't have amazon prime or hulu, and there hasn't been anything decent on the premium cable channels lately.

Beyond Skyline (2017) starts out pretty normally.  A suspended police officer is bailing his son out of jail for the third time.  There's a little backstory about how the cop's wife died recently, and that's why the son is acting out, blah de blah blah, but thankfully all this chick-flick crap doesn't last long.  Then, like in all good horror movies, all hell breaks loose!  Aliens descend from the sky and start vanishing human beings by the city-full!  :-o  Can the hero cop save his son, and the rest of humanity?

Beyond Skyline isn't the best sci-fi movie you've ever seen, and it's not going to win any Oscars for acting talent, but it does move the story right along.  The first few minutes of the movie sets the stage for how normal daily life is going on, and lets you know the background relationships between the characters very quickly, before bringing on the aliens.  Then it's all fighting and running and killing and aliens and robots and space ships and there's even some martial arts tossed in for good measure.  I think the only thing lacking from making this a solid B-movie adventure is the lack of nudity, but maybe that's just a personal preference, or maybe I've seen too many 80's movies.

What I liked about this movie:  The aliens, the robots, the spaceship.  Even the hand-to-hand combat with the aliens was ok.  Even the out-takes from the movie were funny, though the movie was not a comedy.  What I disliked about this movie:  The lack of nudity, and the lack of veteran acting talent.  I don't think I've seen any of these actors before, not that they didn't do a decent job.  Maybe they are veteran actors in their field, I don't know.  I am too lazy to look them up on IMDB.  Still, I liked the movie.  I might not watch it again, but it was entertaining the first time, and I'd probably watch a sequel.  Now, on to the series!

Lost in Space (2018) is a remake of the original 60's TV show.  The Robinson family is emigrating from a polluted Earth to go to the "paradise planet" of Alpha Centauri, along with a bunch of other families.  Each family owns and operates their own short-range landing craft, designed to house and support each group of settlers until they have established a solid base of operations on the next alien planet.  Along the journey, something goes horribly wrong, and the Robinson family is lost on an alien planet, struggling for survival!

I've seen several iterations of lost in space at this point in my life, the 60's show on TV, the Lost in Space movie that came out in 1998, and now this.  Sadly, I think this series is probably the weakest entry in that short list.  The original series was a classic, and featured a bumbling but self-interested Doctor Smith that was more comedy relief than anything else.  The 1998 movie blamed everything that happened to the Robinsons on Dr. Smith, and made his into a tragically mis-guided but well-meaning villain.  This Lost in Space series features a Dr. Smith who seems more thoroughly evil than either of the first two, but is probably the weakest and most contradictory character I've ever seen.

I don't want to give away any spoilers if you haven't seen the series yet, but if I could give you a bit of an analogy, think what would happen if Jar-Jar Binks (from Star Wars) had incredibly good luck, and everything went his way.  Now picture Jar-Jar Binks thoroughly evil, even more annoying, and thinking he's some kind of master planner and manipulator because of his incredibly good luck.  Then, because of his supposed incredible genius, he's a cocky prick who likes to give monologues to dead battle-droids about how he's planned all this, and it's really all the droid's fault that it's actually dead.  Makes you want to kill him already, doesn't it?  Yeah, me too.  That's Netflix's Dr. Smith, and it sure doesn't make the series any better.

What I liked about Lost in Space:  The special effects were decent.  The acting was decent, and there were even a few veteran actors with some clout tossed in as supporting cast.  I especially liked the actress who played Judy Robinson (the Medic), not necessarily because of her acting talent, but because she was really cute (hey, I'm a heterosexual, what can I say?).  What I disliked about Lost in Space:  Dr. Smith.  Really dragged the whole series down.  The character's motivations didn't make sense (even when she explained them), and her unbelievable luck (or seeming ability to predict the future) just made nearly the entire plot ludicrous.  She can't possibly be the smartest person in the room, and yet due to everyone else's ludicrous stupidity, she somehow is the smartest.  Furthermore, I am disturbed by the precedent this sets, that the smartest person in the room ends up being the villain.  You'd think smart people would make better life-choices, but meh, what do I know?  Also, everything that happened was so ridiculously predictable, but maybe that's just because I saw the previous versions.

I'll probably watch the next season of Lost in Space on Netflix, if only to see the Robot and Judy again.  Maybe next time, it won't be so predictably stupid?  I can only hope.

In other news, I killed a Spider today!  It was on the wall in the shower, no doubt trying to attack me when I was most vulnerable, but I think I noticed it before it was ready to attack.  It was above my head, about a foot away from me.  For a brief moment, we stared each other down like a pair of old west Gunfighters, each waiting for the other to make the first move.  My two eyes met his eight, and the Spider blinked first.  Perhaps re-thinking his plan of attack, the Spider turned, and began to crawl away up the wall.

As a Veteran of the Spider Conflict of '91, and after surviving several skirmisheas with them over the years, I'm somewhat of an expert on their behavior by now.  I know that once a Spider has entered my home, I cannot allow it to live.  After what I did to them during the Spider Conflict, I've heard they have a contract out on my life.  I cannot blame them.  I am merciless.  They say a Spider never forgets, or maybe that's elephants.  I always get those two confused.

My Anti-Spider martial training has taught me to use any available weapon, but in the shower, my preferred weapon (a box of Kleenex) wasn't handy.  No doubt the Spider planned it this way, hoping to use the water to his or her advantage, but water washes both ways.  I picked up a bottle of Shampoo, and like tapping a nail into a board with a hammer, I gently beat the Spider into a mushy brown paste on the shower wall.  They say a Spider never forgets.  I say, the only good spider, is a dead spider.

Of course, I am only talking about Hosue Spiders.  The peaceful outdoor Garden Spiders and their ilk have no truck with the Evil House Spiders, and often kill them on sight.  I leave Garden Spiders alone.  With their Centipede allies, the evil House Spiders have waged a guerilla war against humans for millennia, trying to occupy our very homes, and feasting on us.  Scientific evidence has recently proven that Spiders enjoy listening to our terror, and are attracted to the sound of our screams, but I don't think it's Humans who should be the ones screaming.  I have been bitten hundreds of times, I have been crawled across, I have been startled nearly out of my wits.  No more, I say, NO MORE!  Perhaps the Spider Assassins will get me, one day.  But that day is NOT TODAY!

That's all for today.  I'm going to go hunt down some more spiders.  Spring's finally arrived, and their armies will be on the move.  Until next time.