Mini reviews of Television seasons old and new. No fuss. No spoilers. Occasional bunnies.

Sunday, November 3, 2013

Terminator Salvation: The Machinima Series (2009)

The Machinima Series is an animated prequel set two years before the Terminator Salvation (2009) movie. I've no idea if it improves upon or adds additional depth to the movie's back-story because I haven't watched the feature, nor do I think I ever will, so I'm able to judge the series on its own merits, of which there are few.

It's a CGI animation constructed using the game engine of the movie tie-in video game. Already, alarm bells should be ringing in your head.

It's a bold idea but the result is pretty awful. The movement is stiff, limited by the engine's existing parameters. The environments are structured like a game environment, coloured by the seven shades of shit-brown and six shades of concrete-grey that dominate the uninspired action genre.

Its blandness is matched by its obvious padding out of story. There's a story there but it could've been easily told in one 25 minute short. Instead, they stretched it to 6 episodes, approx 12 minutes each.

When the first episode ended there was a fraction of a second when my brain said it was time to pick up the games controller and prepare for some insipid shooty action. I was unconsciously making ready to target exploding barrels for easy kill points. Thankfully. that didn't happen, which was comforting. Although, what that means is that very quickly the Machinima Series feels like it's a game without any actual gameplay. No, not like Heavy Rain.

1 system crash out of 5

Saturday, November 2, 2013

Under the Dome: Season One (2013)

I am so very, very bored of 'edgy' US dramas, but I'm a huge fan of sci-fi and a sucker for a Stephen King adaptation despite their tendency to have a great build up and then fall flat on their ass in the latter half. Under the Dome bucks that trend by falling flat on its ass even earlier. It kills off the most interesting character in the first episode and leaves the chaff to pick up the slack, meaning that from episode two it drags its shitty heels through the corn.

It's (obviously) the story of a town trapped under a dome. What that means for the people within differs depending on their ability to cope with disaster, the unknown and the depravity of the secrets they want to keep hidden. Their focus is on getting out, but the story's focus is on exploring the inner aspects of each individual and the community as a whole.

It's an interesting premise and a great starting point from which to build something that branches out in many directions but remains centralised by circumstance. It's a shame the makers didn't capitalise on it well enough. Instead, they milk it like a weary tit until there's nothing left but to throw in arbitrary events that may or may not matter in the grand scheme of things. If they do matter, it's because someone decided they liked the idea and wrote something new, not because the core plot demanded it.

A medium sized cast of regular clich├ęs keep you mildly irritated. There's the army veteran with a violent past; a hateful investigative reporter who pokes her nose up everyone's ass; an enthusiastic female police officer who's as thick as two planks nailed together; a semi-genius teenager; a shady politician that only has two emotional states; and a few others that I don't care to remember. None of them are the least bit interesting, but the cast is only a small part of the reason it's so tedious. The bullshit scenarios that are supposed to increase the tension are forced and unrealistic. The ease with which people give in to suggestion is laughable. The amateur acting (especially those kids) is painful to watch.

It cost approx $3 million dollars per episode to make. Just think about that for a minute. $3 million dollars! Christ knows how, why or where the money went.

13 episodes, approx 43 minutes each.

1½ cows out of 5

Friday, November 1, 2013

Masters of Horror: Series One: Volume Two (2006)

Volume Two of MoH contains the final six episodes of the first season. You can find information on Volume One HERE. As before, there may be a difference in running order between the R1 and R2 editions. I'm using the UK R2 editions. NA also got a full season box that included both volumes.

The first is by Dario Argento, adapted from a ten-page comic book story by Bruce Jones. It's about attraction, repulsion and the lengths some people will go to in order to sate their obsessions (or escape from them). — 1 out of 5 —

The second is by Tobe Hooper, adapted from a story by Richard Matheson, and stars Robert Englund! That's sure to be good, right? Nope. The fast editing and edgy in-camera effects rob it of any promise it could've held. — 1½ out of 5 —

The third is by Takashi Miike. What the fuck, Miike? It's the Japanese auteur doing what he does best. It contains some genuinely chilling imagery. It's also sadistic and will be deeply disturbing for some viewers. It loses half a point for not having the Japanese parts spoken in actual Japanese. — 4 out of 5 —

The fourth is by Larry Cohen, adapted from a short story by David Schow. It features a hitch-hiker, a trucker, and a slew of murder victims. Some nice camera movements punctuate the boredom but mostly it remains vapid. — 2½ out of 5 —

The fifth is by William Malone, an attempt to subvert the 'trapped in a basement' nightmare scenario by adding some reasoning to the whole affair. I think it could've worked well as a short story, but as a film, aside from the occasional surreal flashback, it’s mostly dull. — 1½ out of 5 —

The sixth is by John McNaughton, adapted from a Clive Barker short. It’s Haeckel's Tale, the story of a man of science and a necromancer. If not for the painfully disappointing ending it would be great. It doesn't try to reinvent the genre, but instead finds a different way of presenting it. — 3 out of 5 —

Like the previous volume, it’s the quality of the extras included (over 16 hours this time) that helps raise the overall score.

6 episodes approx 55 minutes each (345 minutes total), split over 6 discs.

3 resurrections out of 5