Tag Archives: badhistory

Sanctuary: we give up

We’ve given Sanctuary the pilot and the first ep aaand… I think we give up.

I liked Amanda Tapping as Sam Carter in SG-1, so I didn’t think it unreasonable to chase up her next project (well, after Atlantis). But… this is not Stargate. For a start, Tapping has a ridiculous English accent which I just can’t take seriously. For seconds, even if the action in Stargate was sometimes a bit tacky – and I love it but I’ll grant that – at least they mostly built the sets. Here? It looks like every second shot is done against a blue screen and then the set added in later, because the production company was too cheap to figure out how to do a big-ass gothic pile other than via computer.

I didn’t mind the first episode; the getting-the-team-together thing is often quite interesting too me, and Tapping’s mysterious Dr Magnus clearly had A Past. The slightly-haunted-but-mostly-down-to-earth forensic pysch she recruits had some potential as the audience’s Everyman; I didn’t mind him. And Magnus’ daughter Ashley – Buffy crossed with Whistler from Blade 3, the one played by the Jessica – was humorous in a ham-kinda way. In fact, the best bit of the whole show has been the silly repartee between mother and daughter, where mother worries but only because she’s the one asking daughter to deliberately put herself in harm’s way. So I was willing to watch a few more… but then we watched the first proper ep. And it got my goat. Badly.

How badly? Well, apparently the last recorded mention of bubonic plague was in Scotland in the 800s (wah?). And the Morrigan are an ‘ancient’ myth first recorded in ‘medieval times’ – specifically in Arthur’s day. Yeh. From that point on I was just cranky and unwilling to give it any slack.

If you can tell me that halfway through the season it got better I will reconsider, but at the moment I am considering me and Sanctuary as officially Not Going To Happen.

The Other Boleyn Girl

I wonder if Anne really was as scheming and conniving as this movie makes out… I’m not sure which I think is more believable.

And George?? Seems to me that that’s taking the slander and propaganda put out at the time a little bit too seriously. I find it very difficult to believe that there was any suggestion of incest. It was simply too taboo, surely. (The actor, though – Jude from Across the Universe! – lovely.)

Poor Mary Boleyn. How horrid to be dealt with like that… and to have history all but ignore you, too, after all of that! She is the most interesting of them all, I think, from this portrayal: George is weak; Anne is something of a bitch; Mary is simply too good for her own safety. Natalie Portman is surprisingly good in this role, as is Scarlett Johanssen.

Their mother – whom I can only ever regard as Duckface, thanks to Four Weddings and a Funeral – is magnificent in this movie. Eric Bana… usually I’m a big fan, but he wasn’t wonderful for me here. Maybe because he has quite a bit part, focusing as it does on the women; maybe because filling the shoes of Henry VIII is a big ask, and he’s just not quite up to it – or the script isn’t.

I also hadn’t realised that the gap between Anne and Jane was quite so short as the movie implies, but I guess it makes sense since one of the reasons for getting rid of Anne was the overwhelming desire for a male heir, and Jane seemed like a good option (as, of course, she was. Poor Jane).

Sad: no mention of the allegation that Anne ordered a French sword for the execution because it would be sharper and therefore swifter.

The costumes are simply delightful; I enjoyed the music, too, and the sets.

Rome

I am watching Rome!

That is, I’m into the second episode of the first season.

I still hate Octavian. Sorry. I like James Purefoy and Marc Antony, so that’s a lovely combination. Although I hadn’t expected him to be quite so… brutal… I like my Richard Burton view of him…

I also hadn’t expected the interest in the common people, which is cool. Nor the quantity of sex. (And the full-frontal nudity, too.)

For a TV show, this is a glorious production – as I had heard; it looks like a high-quality film! HBO must be rolling in it.

She Who Must be Obeyed

So for those of you about my age or older, who had parents who liked the non-commercial side of TV, that saying surely only has one connotation: Rumpole of the Bailey, discussing his Missus.

I have recently discovered, to my delight, that Leo McKern/Horace Rumpole is not, actually, the originator of that saying. Instead, it is the full title of the titular character in She, by H. Rider Haggard.

I’d heard of the book in passing, and had recently listened to King Solomon’s Mines (more on that in a bit), so I was delighted to find it at Librivox. I got seriously hours of entertainment from listening to She. It’s a glorious adventure tale – very obviously of its time; one of the few difficulties is getting past the “he was a good fellow… for a savage” comments that abound – with handsome young men, ugly old stalwarts, servants who know their place, cannibals, and a supremely beautiful yet terribly flawed woman. I couldn’t figure why I’d never heard of it as a movie – there are some scenes that just seem to have been written for the screen – but I’ve discovered there have actually been two movies. One b&w number from the 1930s, which from IMDb stays faithful, and one starring Ursula Andress as She and Christopher Lee as one of the ‘savages’ (boot polish, anyone??) (and Bernard Cribbins as the servant – that’s Donna Noble’s grandpa!) from the 1960s that is… less so. I don’t think I’ll bother.

Anyway, it’s great. All sorts of interesting questions are raised: are men simply zombified by love? Are all women expected to wait 2000 years for their true love to return after they kill them the first time (oops, slight spoiler)? Are all savages either utterly corrupt or utterly noble? Can hair really go from grey to golden?

The Last Legion

Well, call me naive, but I did actually think that this movie would be at least partly based on history, which is why I was interested in watching it. Perhaps that indicates how little TV I watch, because clearly I hadn’t watched the theatrical trailer for it. Otherwise, I would have known that while the beginning is based on historical fact – the Goths being nasty buggers on Rome – the rest was a glorious fantasy.

Spoiler Alert! Stop here if you don’t want it a bit spoiled!

Once I saw little Romulus go for the sword, and read the ‘Latin’ inscription there, I realised vaguely in which direction it was heading… hello, Caliburnus! Not for nothing am I an Arthur tragic. Mind you, it did take my fuzzy little mind a while to realise the teacher was Ambrosinus and the captain Aurelius, so maybe it has actually been too long since I thought about it.

Anyway, once I realised that this was an Arthur-fantasy, I switched expectations and really quite enjoyed it. One one level, anyway, it was miles better than poor old Clive Owen’s Arthur, by which I was utterly disappointed (except for Hengist). To be honest I had been enjoying this one even before I realised what was going on: the nice prince/pauper moment at the start; Colin Firth in general; John Hannah… and the sets were quite nice too, except for that utterly CG statue the kid insisted on moping about on top of. (And as kid actors go, he wasn’t too hopeless.)

A couple of things disappointed me. Mira – well, it was cool to have a chick warrior (always is!), and it was obvious why she was included, but I thought the romance was a bit rushed. Vortigern – cool mask, but not enough back story. I was hoping to find out he was Ambrosinus’ evil brother; that would have been cool.

It does fascinate me that so often Rome is equated with either America or Britain… Firth’s not-particularly-rousing speech about Roman warriors and Roman hearts sounded like something that would appear in a patriotic movie today (it could almost be dubbed into Independence Day). Seriously, it makes me wonder whether these writers/directors know anything about that empire. Probably not.

too much Stargate? Never!

I am lucky enough at the moment to have little bit of what I choose to call play money. My natural Scrooge tendencies are too painful to go into here, but suffice to say that splurging – even on thins that I really want and will get a lot of joy out of – is something I struggle with. So I thought long and hard, and eventually decided it would be worth it: I bought the 59 DVD box of Stargate: SG-1. This is a crazy extravagance; I know someone with them already – although theirs are pirated, and of course I don’t have easy access to them. Plus, this comes in a lovely big box, complete with tacky raised circle (aka stargate) on the front.

Anyway, it arrived on Thursday. We watched the entire first season on the weekend – my love didn’t get into show until about season 2 or 3 when we watched it the first time (oh, did I mention that I’ve already seen the whole lot?), so he enjoyed watching that; I also discovered that first time through I missed a disc – three or four episodes, including the wonderful Antarctic episode. We’re now into the second season, and we’re trying to limit ourselves to only two… or so… episodes a night. Hard, though…

Couple of things of note:
* Samantha is cringingly nerdy in the first couple of episodes. I am so glad they sophisticated her.
* Teal’c is fairly painful in these first few seasons; his facial expressions are just ridiculous. And not always convincing.
* Michael Shanks. Daniel Jackson. *sigh* Wonderful!
* Richard Dean Anderson. Jack O’Neill. As above!

I said something to my love as we watched an episode – something about enjoying the interaction between Jack and Samantha – and he turned to me, in ridicule, and asked whether I had bought 59 DVDs just for the sake of a few, frustratingly brief, interactions between the two.

Well, duh.

Productive and critical

Watching four Roman DVDs, for school, and I think I’m going to send all four back. Three are a series – republic, empire, ‘building and empire’; the other is a stand-alone. The stand-alone was definitely for younger kids, which would be fine – since this is for yr7 kids – but the background music was appalling. The others… well, I think they’re just a bit boring. I’m sure I can find docos with more interesting narration, and less bad music. They also feel a bit dated, although I think they’re actually fairly recent; they’re just leaving me cold.

On the plus side, though, since they’re all 30-45 min long – being average, I’ve been skipping through the chapters a bit; has made it a lot faster than I expected! I’ve got a couple of French and Russian Rev (eek! They’ve just shown a clip of a picture from a brothel – one of the awfully explicit ones; really not sure if I can show this to my 7s!) DVDs to preview, too, and a couple of other Roman and ancient Greek ones – hopefully they’ll be better than these.

Mummies and romance

I watched The Mummy a couple of days ago, and The Mummy Returns tonight.

I’d really like to be able to say that I watch and enjoy them because of my joy at seeing archaeology and egyptology on the big screen, getting a cool rep; for the awesome FX; and for the manic action sequences.

Part of that is true – I leave it to you to figure out what’s a big fat lie from that statement. But the truth is, I like those movies for the same reason I like the original Star Wars movies.

Yes, it’s partly the action and the explosions – particularly in Star Wars. But the reality is, I watch them for one main reason: Rick O’Connell (Brendan Fraser) and Han Solo (Harrison Ford), and their relationships with Evie/Leia.

This is my big guilty secret, that I am trying to come to grips with, and which outing myself here will hopefully help: I am a sucker for romance. It has to be surrounded by action, and explosions, and preferably lots of cool FX and a scifi bent; the heroine has to not be a wimp and the hero has to be a real hero (being a rogue helps as well) – and I love movies with no real romance, too – but, still, a bit of romance done well is not something I object to.

I’ve spent a lot of time over the last decade or so building up an anti-romance persona; it hurts to tear it down! And there are certain friends to whom I will never admit this, ever. Because they will never let me live it down. Like they still tease me for getting married, after saying I never would (six years today). Kate – stop scheming right now!

Indiana Jones

Well, to start with I am very excited that the fourth one has actually had a date set for release – mid this year. It’s been a long time coming!! With Cate Blanchett, hopefully it will be good – I really hope it’s realistic about Ford being ancient. One of the things I really enjoyed about Lethal Weapon 4 was Glover and Gibson going on about being too old for this shit. Anyway, I’m excited.

What has sparked this post, though, was a viewing of Last Crusade. Great movie. Great movie. I adore the opening, with young Indy: it is so very nicely set up – I realised that you don’t know whether Indy is a scout or in the cave for quite a long time; the main looter in the cave even looks a bit like Ford, and of course the hat is Indy’s. It made me sad to see River Phoenix – such a pity for him to die so damn young.

And the whole movie is great. Good chases – although the tank/horse scene gets a bit long; good baddies – especially Elsa, of course, and adding in Hitler is brilliant; I love the zeppelin scene; and heck – it’s Connery! “The schlime of humanity” – what a line.

Stargate – the movie

We watched the original Stargate movie for the first time in a long time the other night. I must admit to a little fangirl flutter of the heart when the theme music started: I had either not realised, or forgotten, that the theme music is the same in the show as it was in the movie. Not surprising, of course. It did give me the giggles to realise just how much I loved SG-1 – we finished it ages ago, and I miss having more episodes to watch. More than I miss FarScape; perhaps not quite as much as West Wing.*

A couple of things I noticed, post-viewing of SG-1:

# Michael Shanks and James Spader – very cool, very similar, at least in playing Daniel. sigh.
# Richard Dean Anderson kicks Kurt Russell as Jack. Completely.
# I had never thought about the fact that they must store sets – in the hopes of re-using them at some stage. Either that or they worked really, really hard at being true to the movie for the show, and I just doubt it.
# There was a three year gap between movie and show. Is that a long time? It seems like a long time.
# The movie was a bit… well… boring. Especially compared with the show. Am I getting old and jaded?
# I cannot wait for the SG-1 movie to be made. There’s nothing on IMdB about it, but seriously… it has to happen.

*Of which we must retrieve seasons 2 and 3 from the in-laws. I love the first season, but there’s only so many times you can watch it with only season 7 as your other option. Oh, and season 5, but that gets a bit depressing.