Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

August 5, 2018

Prime Geek (TV): August 5 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches TV, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of hours geek-friendly TV included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Prime Original Series

  • The Man in the High Castle (2 ten episode seasons with teasers for #3, 2015-): alternative history loosely based on Philip K. Dick
  • Philip K. Dick’s Electric Dreams (1 ten episode season, 2018): because you can never have too much PKD
  • Lore (1 season, 6 episodes, 2017)
  • The Tick (1 season, 12 episodes, 2017): 3rd series based on the comics (also available: the Patrick Warburton version)

Exclusive to Prime (they say…they are clearly only counting streaming on demand, for one thing)

  • Doctor Who (parts are exclusive to Prime…at time (and relative dimensions in space), Eccleston-Capaldi): may I recommend The Girl Who Waited, season 601, episode 10? One of my favorites
  • Orphan Black (season 1-5)
  • Batman: The Animated Series: did you think Christopher Nolan revived Batman? Tim Burton? Try this…
  • SpongeBob SquarePants (season 1-11)
  • Humans (3 seasons)
  • Grimm (6 seasons)
  • Under the Dome (3 seasons: recent adaptation of Stephen King, a lot of buzz when it started)
  • Defiance (3 seasons)
  • Just Add Magic (season 1, 201, 202)
  • Teen Wolf (originally MTV: season 101-602)
  • Wallace & Gromit (also available: Shaun the Sheep)
  • True Blood
  • Annedroids
  • Carnivale

Catch Up

  • American Horror Story (seasons 1-7)

Remember When?

  • Monsters (3 seasons, starting in 1988)
  • Tales of the Unexpected (8 seasons, starting in 1979)
  • The Veil (1 season starting in 1958)
  • The Hunger (hosted by David Bowie) (2 seasons, starting in 1998)
  • 3rd Rock from the Sun (6 seasons)
  • Medium (7 seasons)
  • Flash Gordon (2007 series)
  • Robin Cook’s Invasion (1997)
  • PSI Factor: Chronicles of the Paranormal (1998)

Superheroes (although not always that super or that heroic)

  • Todd McFarlane’s Spawn (3 seasons, animated)
  • Sapphire and Steel (not superheroes? I’m open to arguments for and against)

Remakes, Reboots, Sequel Series

  • 13 Nights of Elvira (1 season with the horror host)
  • Hammer House of Horror (2014)

Oh, the Fandomity!

  • Eureka (5 seasons)
  • Babylon 5 (5 seasons)
  • The Expanse (3 seasons)
  • Andromeda (from Gene Roddenberry, starring Kevin Sorbo…and you’ll see Rey’s hairstyle before the Star Wars’ revivals, pretty much)
  • Gene Roddenberry’s Earth: Final Conflict
  • Star Trek (the original series, The Animated Series, The Next Generation, Deep Space Nine, Voyager, Enterprise,
  • Twilight Zone (the original series…5 seasons)
  • Battlestar Galactica (2004)…4 seasons
  • The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy (the 1981 version)
  • Torchwood (a Doctor Who spinoff…and one of my favorite series) (also available: Class, The Sarah Jane Adventures)
  • The Prisoner (Patrick McGoohan’s can’t miss series)
  • Dark Shadows (various parts of it…it was on a lot!)
  • Primeval
  • Charlie Jade
  • Captain Scarlett (also available: Space Precinct 2040)
  • Jeremiah

Some more…

  • Tin Man
  • Space Debris
  • Teddy Go!

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.

 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

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Prime Geek (movies): August 5 2018

August 5, 2018

Prime Geek (movies): August 5 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches movies, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of geek-friendly movies included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Playing catchup (theatrical releases from the last two years)

  • Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017) (also available: The Nut Job…so you can watch from the beginning)
  • Nine Lives (Kevin Spacey becomes a cat)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
  • The Witch (2016)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)
  • Equals (2016): Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult resist in a repressed future
  • Tear Me Apart (2016)
  • Muse (2016)
  • Vamps (2016)
  • The Girl With All The Gifts (2017) (Glenn Close…and sort of zombies. BAFTA-nominated)

Mid-terms (not in the past two years, but in the past two decades)

  • Zathura (sequel to Jumanji)
  • Star Trek (the first of the Chris Pine movies) (2009)
  • Beastly (2011)
  • Twilight (2008): the first of the blockbuster series (also available: New Moon, Eclipse)
  • Paranormal Activity (2009)
  • The Woman in Black (2012): Daniel Radcliffe
  • Them (2006): not the giant ant movie
  • Watchmen (2002): The Ultimate Cut (24 extra minutes)

Genre-busters/Award Nominees (popular with non-geeks, too)

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939…the Judy Garland movie)
  • Hugo (2011)
  • Arrival (2016)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)
  • Jaws (1975) (also available: Jaws 2, Jaws 3, Jaws the Revenge))

Nostalgeek (remember when?)

  • The Care Bears Movie (1985)
  • Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
  • Galaxy of Terror (1981)
  • Carrie (1976) (also available: The Rage – Carrie 2)
  • The Crow (1994)
  • Highlander (1986) (“There can be only one”) (also available: Highlander II: The Quickening)
  • Leprechaun (1993) (also available: Leprechaun 2; Leprechaun 3; Leprechaun 4: In Space; Leprechaun 5 AKA Leprechaun in the Hood)
  • Barbarian Queen (1985)
  • Prancer (1989)
  • Trilogy of Terror (1975): I recently re-watched this…even more disturbing than I remembered. If you remember anything about it, it’s likely to be Karen Black (who plays three parts in this) being chased around by a small exotic “doll”
  • Nosferatu (1922): unauthorized silent adaptation of Dracula in 1922, Bram Stoker’s widow one a case and all the prints were supposed to be destroyed…an undead movie in more than one way
  • House on Haunted Hill (1958) colorized
  • Stargate (1994)
  • Piranha (1978)
  • Vampire in Brooklyn (1995): Eddie Murphy
  • Spaceballs (1987)
  • The Final Countdown (1980): More than the memorable theme song, this was time travel with a heavy dose of admiration for the military
  • The Running Man (1987): Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in a Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) adaptation. Falsely accused and put on a suicide mission Death Race 2000-esque game show, when Arnold says, “I’ll be back” it’s an existential threat to Richard Dawson’s game show character…and the status quo
  • Universal Soldier (1992): Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (also available: Cyborg with JVD)
  • Humanoids from the Deep (1980): gory, exploitative monster movie from Roger Corman (uncredited EP), starring Doug McClure
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964): my favorite version of I Am Legend (although this version is colorized…that may not be an improvement over the original black and white)
  • Invaders from Mars (1953): deliberately dream-like, many of us are still haunted by the image of what happens in the sand (also available: the 1986 Karen Black remake)
  • Missile to the Moon (1958) (colorized)
  • Mazes and Monsters (1982) (Tom Hanks)
  • Galaxina (1980)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1960) the original, not the musical…colorized
  • The Monster Club (1981)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
  • Behemoth The Sea Monster (1958)
  • The Angry Red Planet (1959)
  • The Addams Family (1991) (the first of the big-screen reboot series)
  • A Boy and His Dog (1976) (based on a Harlan Ellison story…not surprisingly, Ellison wasn’t satisfied with the adaptation)
  • The Last Unicorn (1982)
  • The Company of Wolves (1985): David Warner, Angela Lansbury, directed by Neil Jordan
  • Attack of the Mushroom People (1963)
  • Cool World (1992)
  • The Day of the Triffids (1962): “And I really got hot, when I watched Janette Scott…”
  • Chapping Mall (1986)
  • Invasion U.S.A (1952): Eddie G. Robinson…and two TV Lois Lanes
  • Giant from the Unknown (1958)
  • The Hideous Sun Demon (1959)

Fauxstalgia (movies made to look as though they were from a previous era)

  • The Late Night Double Feature (2014): faking the Fifties

Remakes, Revivals, and Reboots

  • Top Cat Begins (2017)
  • The Invisible Man (2018)
  • SpaceDisco One (2007)…a crossover for 1984 and Logan’s Run

Theme: Dorsal fins!

  • Jaws through Jaws: The Revenge
  • Ice Sharks
  • 2 Headed Shark Attack
  • 5 Headed Shark Attack
  • Empire of the Sharks
  • SharkMan
  • Mega Shark vs Mecha Shark

Thinkers

  • Coherence (2014): $50,000 budget dogroed close to $70m…
  • The Frame (2014): From Jamin Winans…
  • (Jerome Bixby’s) The Man from Earth (2007)
  • The Penitent Man (2013)
  • Shuffle (2011)

You Might Not Have Seen…

  • Evolution: Ivan Reitman-directed 2001 comedy with David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott…some really interesting aliens. $80m budget, dogro (domestic gross) under $40m
  • Event Horizon (1997): Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Neill for director Paul W.S. Anderson: $60m budget, under $30m dogro
  • Radio Free Albemuth (2014): a Philip K. Dick adaptation
  • Princess of Mars (2009): definitely not the recent Disney John Carter movie, this one has Traci Lords and Antonio Sabato Jr.

Need I Say More?

  • 5-Headed Shark Attack (2017)
  • The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu (2011)
  • Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010)
  • Zombeavers (2015)

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

August 4, 2018

The best binge? Amazon Prime Video has Patrick McGoohan’s The Prisoner

While I recently started pointing out geeky movies available to Prime Members

Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

and I do intend to update that, I planned to do one for Prime geeky TV series this weekend (I hope to eventually to do books, too).

In doing so, I was very pleased to see that they now have 1967’s

The Prisoner (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

available!

While it never pays to oversell anything, I’ll say that I’m a fan of the series…one of our dogs is actually named after it. 😉 I have a boxed set. One time, when our now adult kid had another adult friend visiting our home from across the country, we ended up spending a day just watching it (what would now be called “binge watching”). It’s over forty years old and British, but I can safely that it works for an American born decades after it first aired.

I don’t want to say too much about it; I think it’s best to go into it largely unprepared if you’ve never seen it before. It’s not a spoiler to say that a major theme of it is remaining an individual in the face of overwhelming conformity.

Was it a success at the time?

In England, it was like Lost: people were really wrapped up in the mystery of it. The series finale (it is only one season) was highly controversial…which was intentional.

It was different in the USA: it did play on CBS, but really became much more of a geek touchstone later.

Since there are only 17 one-hour episodes, you can watch it in a day.

One note: the best order in which to watch it is highly debated. Part of that has to do with the fact that it was originally conceived as a much shorter series, but was expanded for marketing reasons. There is also a US and a UK order, and clues internal to the episodes suggest yet more possibilities. I think this article covers that issue nicely:

Home Theater Forum

It’s probably simplest to just let Prime autoplay the next episode in the order they have, but up to you.

I’m going to give you one outside-the-universe bit of information which British viewers would have known before watching it. I’ll give it a Spoiler Alert, in case you don’t want that context, but it has nothing to do with surprise plot elements of the series.

SPOILER ALERT

Prior to The Prisoner, McGoohan was already well-known. He had been considered for the role of James Bond for Dr. No and for The Saint, but had been doing a successful TV series called Danger Man (or Secret Agent in the USA…the Johnny Rivers version of the theme song, Secret Agent Man, was popular), when he decided to quit. That, in a way, parallels what happens with The Prisoner’s main character…and there are reasons to think that The Prisoner’s main character is the main character from Danger Man). 

END SPOILER ALERT

If you’ve never seen it before, I think you’ll find it interesting.

If you have…be seeing you. 😉


Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Box office 2018: A Year of No Flops?

July 19, 2018

Box office 2018: A Year of No Flops?

There have been some really big movie hits so far this year! We track the “most profitable” movies in this IMDb list:

2018 The Measured Circle’s Most Profitable Movies

That’s based on dogro (domestic gross) versus the production budget.

The most profitable movies by percentage don’t tend to be the most expensive to make…but this year, certainly, some expensive movies have been worth the investment.

  • Black Panther has an estimated production budget of $200 million…and has received our “Golden” award, for dogroing at least three times that. That’s not at all common for movies which cost over $100m to make, although it does happen (especially for Disney/Marvel movies)
  • Avengers: Infinity War, with an estimated production budget of $300 million, has profited over $300 million

Another category in the past few years has been relatively low budget movies which go on to break $100 million dogro. This year, A Quiet Place has a reported budget of $17 million, and has received our “Triple Golden” award (its dogro is more than 900 percent of its production budget).

However, something which has particularly stood out to me this year is the absence of what we call “Underperformers”: movies which dogro less than 50% of their production budgets.

After the Fourth of July weekend, there weren’t any.

While you might have guessed that A Wrinkle in Time, Rampage, or Ready Player One might have been on that list, they’ve all dogroed more than 50%.

Let’s compare that to other recent years.

2017: 2018 is continuing the trend of 2017, which had no underperformers at the end of the year.

2016:

Underperformer Sub-40s (budget at least $40.0m):

Gods of Egypt $31.1m (reported budget: $140.0m) | USA release date: 02/26/16 The Finest Hours $27.6m (reported budget: $80.0m) | USA release date 01/29/16 Ben-Hur $26.4m (reported budget: $100.0m) | USA release date 08/19/16 Free State of Jones $20.8m (reported budget: $50.0m) | USA release date 06/24/16 Keeping Up with the Joneses $14.9m (reported budget: $40.0m) | USA release date 10/21/16

2015:

Underachiever Sub-40s (prodbud at least $40.0m)

Seventh Son: $17.2m (reported budget: $95.0m) Blackhat: $7.9m (reported budget: $70.0m) Mortdecai: $7.7m (reported budget: $60.0m) The Last Witch Hunter $27.1m (reported budget: $90.0m) Pan $34.8m (reported budget: $150.0m) In the Heart of the Sea: $25.0m (reported budget: $100.0m) Point Break: $28.7m (reported budget: $105m)

2014:

Underachiever Sub-40s (budget at least $40.0m):

The Legend of Hercules: $18.8m= (reported budget: $70.0m) 27% I, Frankenstein: $19.1m (reported budget: $65.0m) 29% Transcendence: $23.0m (reported budget: $100.0m) 23% Pompeii $23.2m (reported budget: $100.0m) 23% Winter’s Tale $12.6m (reported budget: $60.0m) 21% Legends of Oz: Dorothy’s Return $8.5m (reported budget: $70.0m) 12%

2013:

We hadn’t by this point made the listing quite so easy to copy and paste, but there were severaL

  • Jack the Giant Slayer (34%)
  • After Earth (47%)
  • White House Down (49% when we last updated it….so it might have made it)
  • The Lone Ranger (42%)

It looks like 2018 proves that 2017 wasn’t a fluke…a flopless fluke, I suppose. 😉

What’s the reason?

My guess is that there are a few factors:

  • Movie studios may have become more cautious about what they release…there is a lot of competition now, and a lot of post-release value in movies. You want something that people want to stream later: a middling box office movie likely will be seen as a reasonable choice to watch at home, but a giant flop might not be
  • There are more data available to use to predict success…and it wouldn’t surprise me if algorithms are part of the prediction process
  • The studios have started to expand the audience, in part by elevating the prominence of the portrayal and production participation of various minority groups (not just ethnic)

I think it’s unlikely that we’ll see years in the near future with very many underperformers.

One other factor to note: the power of the international box office for American releases has been growing. In 2017, we added a “Road Winner” award, for movies that have at least 67% of their box office (according to BoxOfficeMojo) from “foreign” box office. That doesn’t change the Underperformer award, which is based just on dogro…but similar to the post-release value I mentioned above, a movie may do better in foreign markets if it did reasonably well in the domestic market.

I don’t think the strategy of going for “in the ballpark base hits” rather than swinging for the home run and increasing your strikeout risk has reduced innovation. The success of those low budget horror movies is based solidly on innovation…Get Out and A Quiet Place are well-made, original stories.

It will be interesting to see what happens going forward. Oh, and of course, knock virtual wood! 😉

See you in the movies!


 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

July 1, 2018

Prime Geek (movies): July 1 2018

You already have

Amazon Prime (at AmazonSmile: benefit a non-profit of your choice by shopping*)

right?

You’re a geek, right?

You’re a geek who watches movies, right?

If those three things are true, you are in luck!

There are thousands of geek-friendly movies included in your Prime membership at no additional cost.

There are so many, in fact, that as is often the case with content nowadays, the challenge is discovery, not availability. Well, The Measured Circle hopes to help you out with some recommendations…

Playing catchup (theatrical releases from the last two years)

  • Nut Job 2: Nutty by Nature (2017) (also available: The Nut Job…so you can watch from the beginning)
  • Nine Lives (Kevin Spacey becomes a cat)
  • Transformers: The Last Knight (2017)
  • Valerian and the City of a Thousand Planets (2017)
  • The Witch (2016)
  • Star Trek Beyond (2016)
  • Equals (2016): Kristen Stewart and Nicholas Hoult resist in a repressed future
  • Tear Me Apart (2016)
  • Muse (2016)
  • Vamps (2016)
  • The Girl With All The Gifts (2017 (Glenn Close…and sort of zombies. BAFTA-nominated)

Mid-terms (not in the past two years, but in the past two decades)

  • Scooby-Doo: The Movie (live action series starter with Sarah Michelle Gellar) (also available: LEGO Scooby Doo: Knight Time Terror)
  • Zathura (sequel to Jumanji)
  • The Golden Compass (2007)
  • Star Trek (the first of the Chris Pine movies) (2009)
  • Beastly (2011)
  • Twilight (2008): the first of the blockbuster series (also available: New Moon)
  • Paranormal Activity (2009)
  • The Woman in Black (2012): Daniel Radcliffe
  • Them (2006): not the giant ant movie

Genre-busters/Award Nominees (popular with non-geeks, too)

  • The Wizard of Oz (1939…the Judy Garland movie)
  • Hugo (2011)
  • Arrival (2016)
  • The Curious Case of Benjamin Button (2008)

Nostalgeek (remember when?)

  • The Care Bears Movie (1985)
  • The Devil Girl from Mars (1954)
  • Galaxy of Terror (1981)
  • Carrie (1976) (also available: The Rage – Carrie 2)
  • The Crow (1994)
  • Highlander (1986) (“There can be only one”) (also available: Highlander II: The Quickening)
  • Troll (1986)
  • Leprechaun (1993) (also available: Leprechaun 2; Leprechaun 3; Leprechaun 4: In Space; Leprechaun 5 AKA Leprechaun in the Hood)
  • Barbarian Queen (1985)
  • Prancer (1989)
  • Trilogy of Terror (1975): I recently re-watched this…even more disturbing than I remembered. If you remember anything about it, it’s likely to be Karen Black (who plays three parts in this) being chased around by a small exotic “doll”
  • Nosferatu (1922): unauthorized silent adaptation of Dracula in 1922, Bram Stoker’s widow one a case and all the prints were supposed to be destroyed…an undead movie in more than one way
  • House on Haunted Hill (1958) colorized
  • Stargate (1994),
  • Spaceballs (1987)
  • The Final Countdown (1980): More than the memorable theme song, this was time travel with a heavy dose of admiration for the military
  • The Running Man (1987): Arnold Schwarzenegger stars in a Stephen King (writing as Richard Bachman) adaptation. Falsely accused and put on a suicide mission Death Race 2000-esque game show, when Arnold says, “I’ll be back” it’s an existential threat to Richard Dawson’s game show character…and the status quo
  • Universal Soldier (1992): Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren (also available: Cyborg with JVD)
  • Humanoids from the Deep (1980): gory, exploitative monster movie from Roger Corman (uncredited EP), starring Doug McClure
  • The Last Man on Earth (1964): my favorite version of I Am Legend (although this version is colorized…that may not be an improvement over the original black and white)
  • Invaders from Mars (1953): deliberately dream-like, many of us are still haunted by the image of what happens in the sand
  • Missile to the Moon (1958) (colorized)
  • Mazes and Monsters (1982) (Tom Hanks)
  • Galaxina (1980)
  • The Legend of Boggy Creek (1972) (also available: Creature from Black Lake from 1976)
  • Little Shop of Horrors (1960) the original, not the musical…colorized
  • The Monster Club (1981)
  • Battle Beyond the Stars (1980)
  • Behemoth The Sea Monster (1958)
  • The Angry Red Planet (1959)
  • The Addams Family (1991) (the first of the big-screen reboot series)
  • A Boy and His Dog (1976) (based on a Harlan Ellison story…not surprisingly, Ellison wasn’t satisfied with the adaptation)

Remakes, Revivals, and Reboots

  • Top Cat (2017)
  • The Invisible Man (2018)

Theme: You Bug Me!

  • The Ant Bully
  • Miniscule: Valley Of The Lost Ants

Thinkers

  • Coherence (2014): $50,000 budget dogroed close to $70m…
  • The Frame (2014): From Jamin Winans…
  • (Jerome Bixby’s) The Man from Earth (2007)
  • The Penitent Man (2013)
  • Shuffle (2011)

You Might Not Have Seen…

  • Evolution: Ivan Reitman-directed 2001 comedy with David Duchovny, Orlando Jones, Julianne Moore, Seann William Scott…some really interesting aliens. $80m budget, dogro (domestic gross) under $40m
  • Event Horizon (1997): Lawrence Fishburne and Sam Neill for director Paul W.S. Anderson: $60m budget, under $30m dogro
  • Radio Free Albemuth (2014): a Philip K. Dick adaptation
  • Princess of Mars (2009): definitely not the recent Disney John Carter movie, this one has Traci Lords and Antonio Sabato Jr.

Need I Say More?

  • 5-Headed Shark Attack (2017)
  • The Last Lovecraft: The Relic of Cthulhu (2011)
  • Mega Shark vs. Crocosaurus (2010)

That’s just a sampling…if you have other suggestions, let me and my readers know by commenting on this post.


 

Join thousands of readers and try the free The Measured Circle magazine at Flipboard !

All aboard our The Measured Circle’s Geek Time Trip at The History Project! Join the TMCGTT Timeblazers!

This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

June 24, 2018

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Man

(sung to the tune of Sgt. Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band)

It was many years* ago today
Kenneth Arnold taught the world to say
“There’s a flying saucer in the air”
And it gave the people quite a scare
Now here’s another term you know
Today we just say U.F.O

Kenneth Arnold, Flying Saucer Ma-an!

What’s in the sky,
Lighted up, flying by?
Could it be a real alien craft?
Perhaps it’s a star or lights from a car
Or maybe I’m just going daft…

Oh, it’s giving me the ontological bends
Oh, I hate it when a paradigm ends

Could it beeee a delusion?
I just know there’s something there
Or an optical illusion?
I’m getting to the point I don’t care

Oh, this is one of those long-lasting trends
Mm, I don’t know just what message it sends
Message it sennnnnds!


* I think I first published this in 1994…a version I found said, “It was was forty-seven years ago…” I’ve updated it for today, the 70th anniversary of the Kenneth Arnold sighting that established the term “flying saucer” by changing it to “many years”, which will enable me to keep using it for future anniversaries. 🙂 Update for this year: yep, using it again! 😉

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When Titans Merge: Disney and Comcast are after (the) Fox

June 20, 2018

When Titans Merge: Disney and Comcast are after (the) Fox*

Comics fans are familiar with the title “When Titans Clash”! Most people associate it with Marvel in the 1960s (where it was used several times), although I believe it originated with a Superman comic in the 1940s. In that case, it was Superman versus Lex Luthor.

Well, nowadays Lex Luthor would probably stage a hostile takeover of the bottle city of Kandor, giving him control of a lot of Kryptonians to battle Supes. 😉

There are titans today…and they are companies.

The Department of Justice recently opposed a merger of AT&T and Time-Warner…and the judge shot it down definitively, even basically chastising the DoJ for bringing the case and warning them not to try to get a stay.

Shortly after that decision came down, Comcast made a bid to purchase (parts of) 21st Century Fox…challenging an existing Disney bid.

It’s easy to make a snap judgement that Fox should go with Disney…you know, I’m sure many people think of Disney as an entertainment company (like Fox), and Comcast as a service provider, but it’s not as simple as that.

Let’s frame this some different ways:

“ABC and NBC both bid for another TV network”

In August of 1995, Disney announced a $19 billion bid for ABC (the American Broadcasting Company), which also included Cap Cities.

In March 2013, Comcast bought NBC/Universal after owning part of it.

If we look at it that way, is Fox more like ABC or NBC? ABC has cultivated a family friendly reputation (though that’s not all they do, of course), while Fox was sort of the anti-ABC when it started. This isn’t clearcut…

“Battle of the theme parks: Universal Studios challenges Disneyland”

Would the Simpsons fit better at Universal Studios or at Disneyland? I’d say the former…but Fox’s Marvel assets fit better with Disney’s Marvel assets for theme park rides. An X-Men ride would work well at Disney parks…and Mickey Wolverine seems obvious…

This all reminds me of one of my favorite things: the great geeky magazine, Psychotronic Video used to have “Still not a part of AOL Time-Warner” on its cover. 😉

I think Fox ends up going with Disney (I would, even though Comcast is offering an interesting sort of insurance if the deal got quashed).

So, let’s just talk movies for now: if Disney merged with Fox, who could challenge them in terms of franchises?

What are top-grossing franchises, according to

Box Office Mojo

?

  1. Marvel Cinematic Universe [Disney]
  2. Star Wars [Disney]
  3. Harry Potter extended [Warner]
  4. Batman [Warner]
  5. X-Men (including Deadpool) [Fox]
  6. “Disney Live Action Reimaginings” [Disney]
  7. James Bond [Sony currently…formerly MGM before, and yes, WB did Never Say Never Again]
  8. Spider-Man [Sony: a deal has been worked out for Spidey to appear with Disney’s Avengers]
  9. Middle-Earth [Warner]
  10. The Avengers [Disney]
  11. DCEU [Warner]
  12. The Fast and the Furious [Universal (Comcast)]
  13. Transformers [Paramount/Dreamworks]
  14. Pirates of the Caribbean [Disney]
  15. The Hunger Games [Lionsgate]
  16. Shrek [Paramount/Dreamworks]
  17. Jurassic Park [Universal (Comcast)]
  18. Star Trek [Paramount/Dreamworks]
  19. Twilight [Summit Lionsgate]
  20. Despicable Me [Universal (Comcast)]

For movies, then, Disney-Fox would be challenged by…Universal (and Warner, among others).

Eventually, it may all become like the original Rollerball movie…where there is one giant “Energy” corporation. 😉

Oh, and this was my tweet (@bufocalvin) when Disney first announced that it was going after Fox:


My crossover: Rocket Raccoon steals the Banzai Institute’s time machine, robs Mos Eisley, accidentally creating a history where Dr. Doom is President. Link Hogthrob teams with Riff Raff, using Seth Brundle tech, to set things right. 😉


 

*This one is a bit obscure, but there is a Peter Sellers movie named “After the Fox”. I didn’t think it was a great movie…but I did love the ending. 

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Version harmony: liking the original AND the reboot

May 18, 2018

Version harmony: liking the original AND the reboot

I often talk about how tolerant geeks are.

After all, much of our oeuvre is about the triumph of the outsider (or the triumph they should have had, but it was unfairly denied to them by the mainstream muggles).

That doesn’t mean that there aren’t divisions, of course, even though they are generally pretty lighthearted: Marvel vs. DC; Star Trek vs. Star Wars; The Munsters vs. The Addams Family; and many more.

One place where I see a particular strong strain of this can be when there is a “reboot”of an original. A reboot is one of the three “Re”s:

  • Reboot (which is also a re-imagining) changes the original; the suggestion is that you are taking something which may be dormant and injecting new elements to give it a new beginning which can go in a different direction
  • Remake: this follows the original, usually even including the same basic plot, but commonly with different actors
  • Revival: this returns to the original, typically with at least some of the same actors (and possibly, behind the scenes artist, like writers and producers), and gives new storylines

I often see disdain by the originalists for the rebooters…and vice versa.

It sort of goes like this:

The originalists think that the reboot lacks imagination, and may add either mainstream or extreme characteristics to make it more palatable. For example, there might be more sex and/or violence, but quirky characters may be made more “normal”.

The rebooters think that the originalists were naive, and sometimes unenlightened. The originals were too simple and unrealistic…and limited and look hokey.

However, I also say that a defining characteristic of geeks is a low threshold of entertainment. 😉 We can see the same thing over and over again and enjoy it every time. Shoestring budget with obvious flaws? No problem.

So, why can’t I enjoy both the old Lost in Space and the new one? Why can’t I admire the imagination of the Westworld HBO series…and the Michael Crichton movie?

The HBO Westworld has a complex plot, focusing on the point of view of the “robots”.

The movie was, yes, much simpler. That makes a lot of sense…the movie was an hour and twenty-eight minutes long. There have already been more than twenty episodes, generally about an hour long. That’s a lot more than ten times as long, and it could go for quite a bit longer.

While the series certainly has more impressive special effects, the movie had very innovative visuals for the time. It had to rely more on imagination…but that’s not necessarily a bad thing.

The TV series has extensive nudity, and not surprisingly, a 1973 movie didn’t have that. Would they have done that if they could have? I don’t think we can say that.

I’ve happily shown the original movie to the next generation of geeks.

At this point, I like the original Lost in Space better…but I did like the new one, too. They both have their charms. I like Will better in the original…but I like Penny better in the new one. 🙂

If you think about it, you can probably come up with two versions of the same “universe” that you like…maybe not equally, but where you like them both.

About seven years ago, I wrote

Hooray for remakes!

We used to call them all remakes. 🙂

You can like Christopher Reeve and George Reeves…and Kirk Alyn. You can like Dirk Benedict and Katee Sackhoff. You can like the 1954 Godzilla and the 2014 version…but if your favorite is the 1998 version, I’m not speaking to you…just kidding. 😉

I guess the bottom line is…you don’t have to pick sides. Stay open to the multiverse of entertainment. It’s okay to enjoy it all…even if it you don’t do it equally.

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My Lost in Space reboot paradox

April 17, 2018

My Lost in Space reboot paradox

I have begun watching the new

Netflix reboot of Lost in Space

I need to start out by saying that I’m a fan of the original. I have a boxed set of DVDs, and for years, pet toads of mine actually lived in a toy Jupiter 2 (with a lot more environment around it).

Before I give you my paradox about the new show, I do want to give you a

MILD SPOILER WARNING

I’m not going to reveal any major plot twists, but if you want complete discovery, you might want to wait to read this until you’ve seen the first couple of episodes.

Here’s my issue:

I watched it because it was a reboot of Lost in Space. That doesn’t mean I wouldn’t have watched it otherwise, but it was the specific impetus to get me to move it up in my queue.

I would have liked it better if I hadn’t thought of it as based on Lost in Space.

Whenever anybody is going to do a remake or a reboot, I always want them to come up with one sentence which describes the essence of the original, and stick to that.

For me, one of the key elements of the original LiS is that Will is a prodigy…that the youngest member of the family is the smartest, and even though they don’t always believe him, he is usually right. He is also brave and resourceful.

As far as I was concerned, Lost in Space was about Will and his family (and the robot and Dr. Smith)…not with Will as just one of the group.

Now, admittedly, that may be in part because I was resonating with Will at that point.

I want to be very clear: I would have had no problem if Will was a different gender, or race, or hair color. For that matter, Will could have been an alien in an alien family. The point was that the youngest, likely to be least respected family member, was the “best”.

In this new version, Will is incompetent and scared.

He becomes valuable, but mostly through his connection with the robot.

Okay, okay…he does have one idea which helps…but if Mom Maureen hadn’t been unable to make the suggestion, she would have.

Pretty much everybody is seriously flawed…that can work, but I think the show is geared at children. It’s nice to have people you can admire when you are a kid, and they seem to want to make a point that they all have negative qualities (although they may have more positive qualities).

There are nods to the original series. A character is named Goddard (Mark Goddard played Major Don West on the original), and an original cast member has what I thought was a pretty clever cameo.

END SPOILER ALERT

So…I’m enjoying it. It’s emotionally moving, and some of the effects are effective and even awe-invoking. It passes the “flashback test”, meaning that I have spontaneously thought about it. It doesn’t disrespect the original, and shows a deep knowledge of it…but does have a very different feel.

I’ll keep watching it and see where it goes. It may get better if it forges more of its own identity (so I’m not constantly reminded of the 1960s version), but it doesn’t need to get better to hold my interest.

Have a different opinion? Feel free to tell me and my readers what you think by commenting on this post.

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BOPMadness 2018: final results and comments

March 24, 2018

BOPMadness 2018: final results and comments

It was a good year for the team!

It’s been a few weeks since the Oscars ceremony, so a quick summary:

I’ve been doing an Oscar predictions thing for decades. Anybody can play. Players rate every nominee in every category based on what they think the Academy will do. I aggregate those guesses and put them out before the ceremony. Our system tends to do pretty well (although I don’t get them out soon enough to help you in your office games).

We break it down into two categories (and the overall):

  • The Big Six: the acting categories, Best Picture, and Best Director
  • The Incredibly Difficult Maven Section: everything else

Let’s start with the Big Six:

The group scored a 97%! We called every category except for Best Picture (we went with Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Montana…but we did have The Shape of Water second).

  • Best Picture: The Shape of Water (we gave it an 86%, and Three Billboards a 92%): I got this one wrong: I was concerned that the plagiarism allegations were going to affect it. This is a major win for geeky movies…it’s rare for a non-musical geeky movie to win
  • Best Director: Guillermo del Toro for The Shape of Water: we were 100% on this one. Nothing else was even close. Obviously, I picked this one as well. Another advance for geeky moviemakers
  • Lead Actress: Frances McDormand in Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Montana: we were 100%
  • Lead Actor: Gary Oldman in Darkest Hour: 100% Oldman has a lot of geeky credits, so this is a pedigeek win
  • Supporting Actor: Sam Rockwell in Three Bilboards Outside Ebbing, Montana: 100%…and another pedigeek win
  • Supporting Actress: Allison Janney in I, Tonya: 95% (but we picked it as the winner…Laurie Metcalf was closest at 85%

The team picked every category except Best Picture, and scored a 97%. Two of our players scored 100%: Marianne and Scott. Amazing! I personally got a 94%. By the way, I make my guesses before I see anybody else’s guesses, just to be fair.

Now, the Incredibly Difficult Maven Section.

There was a complication this year. I keep trying to find a best way to do this online. This year, I went with an Excel form…that was good for analysis, but it had a limitation I didn’t realize at first. You can only have 100 questions in a survey…since each nominee is a question, that wasn’t enough. That meant that there were two surveys: that’s also been true with some systems in the past but because I realized it up front, I could make the instructions very clear. Fully a third of our players didn’t complete the second survey. That affects those individuals scores, but I’ve decided not to have it affect the team scores. The percentage of the prediction will be based on the guesses on those questions, not the non-guesses, and that seems fair.

  • Original Screenplay: Jordan Peele for Get Out: 95%, and we got it right as a group. This is another win for geeky movies
  • Adapted Screenplay: James Ivory for Call Me By Your Name: 100%
  • Cinematography: Roger Deakins for Bladerunner 2049: we missed this one, but just barely. 🙂 The group picked Hoyte Van Hoytema for Dunkirk. I personally missed this one…I really underestimated the love for Bladerunner 2049 throughout…I gave this the lowest possibility, a one out of five. The group gave it a 70%, and we gave Dunkirk a 75%. That means the group still gets four points our of five, since that was our second highest
  • Costume: Mark Bridges for Phantom Thread: 90%, and we called it
  • Film Editing: Lee Smith for Dunkirk 95%, and we called it
  • Sound Mixing: Gregg Landaker, Gary Rizzo, Mark Weingarten for Dunkirk 95%, and we called it
  • Sound Editing: Richard King, Alex Gibson for Dunkirk 95%, and we called it
  • Visual Effects: John Nelson, Gerd Nefzer, Paul Lambert, Richard R. Hoover for Blade Runner 2049: 65% chance for the group, and we had a couple of ties, so we got 2.5 points. We picked War for the Planet of the Apes, but we weren’t confident on this. I really blew this one this year, and made this this least likely
  • Makeup and Hairstyling: Kazuhiro Tsuji, David Malinowski, Lucy Sibbick for Darkest Hour: 100% and we called it
  • Original Song: Kristen Anderson-Lopez and Robert Lopez or “Remember Me” from Coco: we gave it 85% and we called it
  • Original Score: Alexandre Desplat for The Shape of Water and we called it unanimously (100%)
  • Animated Short: Glen Keane and Kobe Bryant for Dear Basketball: we called it with 85%
  • Live Action Short: Chris Overton and Rachel Shenton for The Silent Child: we picked DeKalb Elementary with 80%…but we had this picked second at 70%, so we get 4 points
  • Animated Feature: Lee Unkrich and Darla K. Anderson for Coco: wnanimous at 100%, so we get this one
  • Best Documentary Short: Frank Stiefel: Heaven is a Traffic Jam on the 405: We were pretty sure it was going to be Heroin(e) or Edith+Eddie…we gave them both 85%. We only gave the winner 50%, and we get 3.5 points
  • Best Documentary Feature: Bryan Fogel and Dan Cogan for Icarus: we thought it would be Faces Places…we ended up with 2.5 points, and had predicted the winner at 55%
  • Foreign Language: Chile won for A Fantastic Woman. We had that one at 90% and we called it
  • Production Design: Paul D. Austerberry, Shane Vieau, and Jeffrey A. Melvin for The Shape of Water: 90% and we called it

We did well on this! We called 13 out of 18 and this is always tough. We got enough right and were close on others, so we end up with a 90%!

George Monkey was the Maven winner with 93%! Congratulations, George Monkey!

For the last accounting, looking at the overall:

The team scored 94%.

Our overall winner was George Monkey with 93%.

This year’s winners:

  • Big Six: Marianne and Scott (tie)
  • The Incredibly Difficult Maven Section: George Monkey
  • Overall: George Monkey

I’ve learned some things about the way I did it this year…hopefully, next year will reap a benefit from this year’s experience in that category…and that next year is another good year for the predictions!

Thanks for playing, everybody! See you in the movies!

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This post by Bufo Calvin originally appeared in the The Measured Circle blog. To support this or other blogs/organizations, buy Amazon Gift Cards from a link on the site, then use those to buy your items. There will be no cost to you, and a benefit to them.


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