Saturday, May 27, 2017

Collectible Time #87: Moebius/Yagher Frank Gorshin Riddler Kit

Moebius and Jeff Yagher (sculptor supreme) have done it again, with a marvelous 1/8 scale plastic, assembly-kit tribute to Frank Gorshin's Riddler!!!


This "Batman '66" representation is part of an ongoing series (see "Collectible Time #83": March '17), with each kit containing a "rocky" base that ultimately blends with the others in the set.

Yagher captures Gorshin's facial likeness to a tee, as well as the actor/comedian/impressionist's hyper energy. (The kit also comes with a handy Riddler cane, an alternate/masked head and dig that crazy box artwork!!!)



The Riddler goes for $35-$40 at most hobby shops and online sources. (I got mine from good ol' trusty Z&Z Hobbies, of course, which included my "loyal customer" discount.)


Next up from Moebius--Cesar Romero's Joker!!! Hoo! Hoo! Ha-Haaaa!!!

Friday, May 26, 2017

RIP JARED MARTIN...


You covered lots of television turf, but to science-fiction fans, you'll be forever remembered as the diligent Dr. Harrison Blackwood of "War of the Worlds", not to mention the futuristic Varian of the unjustly short-lived "Fantastic Journey". You also made the memorable rounds in other imaginative productions, like "West World '73"; "Men of the Dragon"; "The Incredible Hulk"; "Project UFO"; "The Six Million Dollar Man"; "Tales of the Gold Monkey"; and "Wonder Woman". No matter what the genre, you never failed to be sophisticated and charming: a man's man whenever push came to shove and above all, a darn good actor. 

IN GRATITUDE, HONOR AND RESPECT...MEMORIAL DAY 2017

Thursday, May 25, 2017

I saw Pirates V...


Disney's marketing claims that the fifth in the "Pirates of the Caribbean" franchise, "Dead Men Tell No Tales" (directed by Joachim Ronning and Espen Sandberg), is the final. I'm not sure about that, but if it's truly the series' farewell, this chapter acts as a satisfying enough sendoff. That's mainly because the Jeff Nathanson and Terry Rossio's script wisely stations Johnny Depp's roguish Captain Jack Sparrow at the adventure's center.


I don't mean to demean the initial, three movies (the fourth one got it right, by the way), which will likely gain classic status as the years pass, but to me, as significant as Orlando Bloom's Will Turner and Keira Knightly's Elizabeth Swann are in that trilogy, they often invade Depp's precious space. In this fifth installment, Turner and Swan do return, but only enough to let their offspring, Henry (Brenton Thwaites), make his debut. (In truth, the couple remains relegated to cameos, with one coming only after the film's cliimax.) "Dead Men" remains Sparrow's story, therefore, though to be honest, there are times when Javier Bardem's Captain Salazar gives ol' Captain Jack a respectable run for his money.


Salazar seeks revenge on Sparrow for having entrapped him and his crew in the Devil's Triangle some years prior. (Sparrow did so because Salazar made it his life's mission to slay all pirates.) Though the now liberated, spectral crew (inadvertently released by Sparrow) is on the maddening hunt, our brave buccaneer has a clever card up his sleeve, even if he doesn't know it at first. It's through the mythological Poseidon's staff, the Trident, that Salazar and gang can be subdued, but how in the world does Sparrow hope to find this fabled object?


Sparrow enlists not only young Henry on his quest, but a spunky astronomer, Carina Smyth (Kaya Scodelario), which leads to more meandering peril, with Salazar always in hot pursuit. Incidentally, Sparrow's companions are each in search of something of their own: for Henry, it's the chance to free his father from the Dutchman curse; for Carina, it's the chance to fulfill a dream of a father she's never known (and by the way, his identity proves quite a pleasant surprise). 


Old and new friends appear throughout the journey, including Sparrow's affable Black Pearl buddies, First Mate Gibbs (Kevin McNally) and little big man, Marty (Martin Klebba). Old rival, Captain Hector Barbossa (Geoffrey Rush) is also on board, doing a dandy job of keeping the rocky seas even rockier. On the new cameo front, Paul McCartney plays Uncle Jack, honorably taking the reins from Keith Richard's paternal presence. 


It's this eclectic blend of characters that make the film click. However, in this instance, the supporting players never once steal from Sparrow or his focused foe. Depp has full liberty to gobble the scenery (and engage in lots of humorous shenanigans), allowing Bardem to raise his persona to an eerie, earnest peak. Truly, the actor would make an excellent Count Dracula, if given the chance. 


Like other "Pirates" films, this one defines the importance of fulfilling one's duty (that is, doing what's right), despite one's shortcomings. Sparrow isn't a bad guy. Never was. Never will be. He's human, but for any good cause, clever, suave and cunning. Again, he's the reason why we've tuned in. He represents all that we are and wish to be. "Dead Men" conveys this identifiable idea yet again. 


Let's hope the film's box-office earnings give Disney pause before axing one of its most profitable series. As much as "Dead Men" gives us a glimpse of Sparrow as a young man via CGI, wouldn't it be great to see Depp mature further in the role, visiting the likes of Atlantis and Shangri-La, rubbing elbows with such memorable mariners as Long John Silver and Captain Nemo? There are far too many Sparrow tales yet to tell. What a rotten cheat it would be if they now ceased. Savvy?

Tuesday, May 23, 2017

GOODBYE, ROGER MOORE...


I became a fan thanks to your suave portrayal of Simon Templar on "The Saint". You then charmed me with your smooth transition into the James Bond franchise, carrying your 007 persona through a string of whimsical hits: "Live and Let Die"; "The Man with the Golden Gun"; "The Spy Who Loved Me"; "Moonraker"; "For Your Eyes Only"; "Octopussy"; and "A View to a Kill". 

Your in-between jaunts also delighted me, including "Gold"; "Ffolks"; "Sherlock Holmes in New York"; "Wild Geese"; and the uproarious "Cannonball Run"; as well as your continuing roles in "Maverick" and  "The Persuaders".

You're still a hero to me, Sir Roger, and you always will be. Thanks for the wonderful escapism you bestowed upon the world. Your sterling efforts will remain forever appreciated...forever admired. 

Friday, May 19, 2017

Twin Peaks: Enter Season 3


Somewhere between the romantic terror of "Dark Shadows" and the wry chicanery of "Fargo" lies David Lynch and Mark Frost's wickedly quirky "Twin Peaks": the tale of "defunct" Laura Palmer, a young lady who appeared wholesome on the surface, but whose dark secrets did her in and revealed so much more than anyone dared imagine. 


Just as fans demanded "Star Trek'"s return, lovers of the surreal soap opera have insisted on the same. Alas, the wait has taken far longer than it did Gene Roddenberry's science-fiction saga to resurface, though there was hope for a "Twin Peaks" continuation after the theatrical prequel/sequel, "Fire Come Walk With Me." (That should have spawned a series of offshoots, if only matters had gone accordingly.)


At least producer/creators Lynch and Frost are in charge of the new Showtime endeavor, despite a nearly three-decade hiatus (and an infuriatingly false start in '16). At least to sweeten the pot, our creators are accompanied by many of our original favorites, including our dimensionally anguished lead, F.B.I. Agent Dale Cooper (Kyle MacLachlan); Bobby Briggs (Dana Ashbrook); Shelly Johnson (Madchen Amick); Big Ed Hurley (Everett McGill); Dr. Jacoby (Russ Tamblyn); Andy Brennan (Harry Goaz); Lucy Moran/Brennan (Kimmy Robertson); Sarah Palmer (Grace Zabriske); Leland Palmer (Ed Wise); and that not-to-be-forgotten daughter, Laura (Sheryl Lee). 

Others will make supporting manifestations of varying degrees, such as Sherilyn Fenn's Audrey Horn; Peggy Limpton's Norma Jennings; James Marshall's James Hurley; Richard Beymer's Ben Horne; David Patrick Kelly's Jerry Horne; Wendy Robie's Nadine Hurley; David Lynch's Gordon Cole; David Duchovny's Denise Bryson; Al Strobel's Phillip Michael Gerard; Michael Horse's Deputy Hawk; Catherine E. Coulson's Log Lady; and Miguel Ferrer's irascible Albert Rosenfeld. Carel Struycken's Giant will also revisit (hurrah!), but where oh, where is Michael J. Anderson's Dancing Dwarf/Man From Another Place? (Come now, there's no way he can't be shimmying and speaking in reverse behind some crimson curtain. If not, what a pity...)


We're at least guaranteed a faithful flow of wayward messages and cryptic codes. If it were any other way, it wouldn't be "Twin Peaks". For this particular saga, only slanted, slow-burn reveals will do. 

"Twin Peaks: The Return" enters our dimension Sunday, May 21 at 9 pm. Tune in and dream those wild dreams. Perhaps have a piece of pie while you're at it. Agent Cooper would respect you for that.

Thursday, May 18, 2017

I saw Alien: Covenant...


Ridley Scott’s “Prometheus” was a dream come true for those in the long-term know: those of us, that is, who were informed of the prospect in ’79 when the likes of Famous Monsters of Filmland reported the director's plans for a prequel. That promised tale of the Engineer/"space-jockey" race, and how its members met their fate, seemed an intriguing one, but its delay long exceeded expectancy. The Engineers' cause, when finally revealed, startled many with its Christian references.


“Alien: Covenant”, as the “Prometheus” sequel has come to be known, picks up on its predecessor's inspiring and disturbing concepts. However, the story (by Michael Green; Dante Harper; John Logan; and Jack Paglen) concentrates more on rampaging H.R. Geiger offspring than theological essay: a tactic evidently used to appease those fans disenchanted by the previous film's spirituality. That's not to say "Covenant" is shallow, for it rehashes "Prometheus'" themes in its own, disquieting way, while still supplying multiple monsters. 


Noomi Rapace's Elizabeth Shaw is but a shadow here, leaving Michael Fassbender's refurbished, Peter O'Toole-ish David to interact with the Weyland-Yutani colonists, who come upon a world that could be Paradise's equivalent. 

Fassbender also surfaces as David's charismatic, Covenant "clone", Walter, but it's David who knows what's impacted the planet: an experimental unleashing of a black substance the Engineers concocted, something that's triggered a peculiar pact or merger (a covenant, if one will) with the landscape. 


The crew includes (in addition to Walter and the nearly two thousand who remain hibernated) Captain Jake Branson (James Franco, in cameo); his wife Daniels/"Dany" (Katherine Waterston), a terraforming officer and this chapter's roundabout Ripley; Sergeant Lope (Demian Bichir), the security head; Sergeant Hallet (Nathaniel Dean), her husband; Christopher Oram (Billy Crudup), a pious, accidental leader; Karen (Carmen Ejogo), his biologist spouse; Upworth (Callie Hernandez), the medic; Tennessee (Danny McBride), the prime pilot; and Faris (Amy Seimetz), his co-pilot wife. They're good people, interesting and well meaning, but have entered the wrong place at the wrong time, due to their shared ambition. 


Once the obligatory introductions are made and the androids form a touching, though odd bond, the monsters position themselves for attack (in their various, progressing shapes, of course), but why did the Engineers set forth these horrid things? "Prometheus" proposed the question, but does "Covenant" answer it?

That's up for debate, for the interludes are sometimes more ambiguous than clear. Nevertheless, Scott's film alludes to the idea that some of the Engineers wished to punish the human race for harming one of their own, but was this victim a surrogate Christ--or the Christ--as Scott has mentioned in his "Prometheus" interviews? It appears another chapter is required to substantiate this theory. (Scott has gone on record, stating that "Covenant" is his way of returning to the series' traditional, terrifying roots, so perhaps the once intended religious extrapolation will be stripped for the sake of another entry.)


At least on an atmospheric level, the current film matches its predecessor, thanks to cinematographer Dariusz Wolski, who creates a visual revitalization of Mario Bava's "Planet of the Vampires"/"Demon Planet", with smoky blues and hazy grays to represent the egg-laden danger. The demons now look more freakish and frightening than before, coming and going among the weird pigments and baroque architecture. 


One harrowing scene depicts a traditional Xenomorph atop a Covenant shuttle, grasping it like some elongated gremlin, in hopes of getting inside. The scene's visual composition is raw and unsettling because on an subconscious level, we know this sleek, lethal thing could very well have sprung from any of us, if only the vicious variables had allowed. 

Writers Dan O'Bannon and Ron Shusett hatched the latter concept for the '79 film, along with some rape implications and the jarring effects that such physical violation brings. Given the chance, there's no telling how far such a mad cycle could go, but then we've already gotten a hardy hint via James Cameron's "Aliens". 


Unlike the tough-as-nails Ripley, Daniels projects a caring, cautious side, which shines especially in her relationship with Walter. When push comes to shove, though, her fight for survival consumes any cordiality. In fact, most folks would sooner resign than battle the daunting circumstances she and her crew mates face. 

Though the Xenomorphs are outwardly bestial, their symbolic seeds were planted with lofty care in "Prometheus". In fact, Guy Pearce's Peter Weyland (who set forth much of that film's conflict) speculates on humanity's content in "Covenant'"s flashback prologue, but even without this handy trigger, we'd still find ourselves pondering who and what we are. 


The Engineers created humanity, but our inherent, recurring penchant for evil defiled that gracious gesture. The saga's serpents are simply our inner devils unleashed, hugging our faces and chest-bursting forth to punish us for our sins, just as Hyde dared to overcome Jekyll or Shelley's Monster dared shackle Frankenstein. If life was the Engineers' gift to us, then the Xenomorphs are our curse.


When the Covenant crew meets its fate, we realize there's no escaping our harbored evil. Once that ugliness is revealed, we are, in essence, preying upon ourselves: a shocking notion, but one any sinner should consider. Primal rage has never been alien to the human race, but rather something that's nurtured, encouraged, and as long as we live and breathe, we'll suffer its consequences. "Covenant" knows this, conveys this, and because of this, we come to learn that humans and their so-called aliens are (for better or worse) one and the same.