Showing posts with label robots. Show all posts
Showing posts with label robots. Show all posts

Monday, May 6, 2024

Ape Watch: King Kong Escapes (1967)




Watched:  05/06/2024
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  First
Director:  Ishiro Honda

I tend to think of myself as someone who would like nothing better than a movie about a giant ape and a robot in the shape of a giant ape duking it out in Tokyo.  Literally, this should check all the boxes for me, but I think I hit the wall as far as Kaiju-tainment for a minute, or else this movie was as dull as it felt.

Honestly, the production history of this movie is more interesting than the final product, which seems impossible when this if your villain.  

he's got panache and joie de vivre!

But the movie has too much plot for it's own good, and I think the editing needs some help.  At just over 90 minutes, it feels like 180 minutes at times.  

My reading tells me that this was some oddball effort fired off by none other than Rudolph-wranglers Rankin-Bass, who were making a King Kong cartoon at the time, that when I saw stills, I think I recall seeing as a small child.  I guess Rankin-Bass - who were outsourcing some animation efforts to Japan - went to Toho, after Toho made the 1962 film King Kong vs. GodzillaRB and Toho jointly went to Universal, and since everyone likes money, they went ahead and made the movie.

I've only seen the US cut released by Universal - Toho has a slightly longer cut they released in Japan - and of course this version is dubbed, with one of our two American-born performers overdubbed by someone not them.  I assume real US kaiju aficionados have their Toho copies, but not I.

Anyway, the plot is that an un-named Eastern-hemisphere country has sent Madame X to work with Dr. Who (yeah, I know) whom she has hired to mine for the mysterious Element X (which I think is probably super-uranium).  Who has stolen plans from a clever... submarine leadership team? to build a giant replica of the legendary King Kong in order to perform the mining.  This is not a sequel to the prior King Kong vs. Godzilla film, but hints that the 1933 OG Kong film was inspired by a real gorilla-guy, and that's OUR guy here.  

That same submarine team, made up of actor Rhodes Reason and his more handsome counterpart, Akira Takarada, hang out a lot with Lt. Susan, the ship nurse, played by Linda Miller (who has some fun interviews online).  


CINEMA



Anyway, there's some stuff that echoes OG Kong, way too much espionage/ James Bond inspired stuff.  Madame X is up to no good.  There's ape hypnosis.  I dunno.  It just goes on and on before we finally get to the big ape fight, which is pretty good, tbh.  Who doesn't want to see that?

The budget on this film seems high.  The detail on the Kong suit is good (if goofy) and the sets are many and highly details, for man and kaiju alike.  And Dr. Who's capes couldn't have been cheap.  And Madame X's couture was excellent. 

I think this one demanded to be watched with other people, and I watched it solo.  This was a mistake.  I may make Jamie watch it with me later this year.  

Friday, January 19, 2024

Goji Watch: Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002)




Watched:  01/18/2023
Format:  BluRay
Viewing:  Second
Director:  Masaaki Tezuka
Selection:  definitely me

Mostly, I watched this movie because, for Christmas, my brother gave me a MechaGodzilla which has been staring at me all day, every day, from below my work monitor since Jan. 2.

also, his lil' friend Gad gave me, and the Super 7 Shogun G

Anyway, somehow, inexplicably, I'd had MechaGodzilla on the brain of late.  

At the start of the COVID lockdown, Jamie and I settled into watching Godzilla movies on a regular basis.  We blasted through them in no particular order, and with minimal context.  Back in May of 2020, we checked out Godzilla against Mechagodzilla (2002).  My memory, without re-reading the post first, was that we'd liked it a lot.  And, upon a revisit, that was still true.

There's an oddly mournful tone to the movie.  As part of the Millennium series, it ignored the prior films except Gojira from 1954, an events that had taken place decades prior and was remembered well in Japan, especially as Mothra and other films were in continuity - the Japanese privately feeling that perhaps Japan was cursed.  

Our focal characters are a member of the military who is being held responsible for the deaths of multiple people during a Godzilla's first re-appearance in 45 years despite the fact she is actually not responsible anymore than she's responsible for Godzilla at all - oh, and she's a friendless orphan.  The other two are a widowed scientist and his charming, precocious daughter who lugs around a houseplant she thinks carries her mother's spirit.  

Monday, September 25, 2023

Well, clearly this blog is getting crawled for AI purposes

 


So, I rarely look at the stats on The Signal Watch.  I kind of just do what I do, and if readers want to be here, great.  I'm not looking to monetize the site, and I don't expect here in my 20th year of blogging I'll suddenly be an internet sensation.  

One thing I've joked about for years is that there will be enough written by me and posted at this blog that when I go, you won't have to miss me.  Just train an AI on this site and you'll get a robot version of me that has plenty to say and occasionally ponders Kim Cattrall.

But in the past year, suddenly...  that whole AI business seemed oddly way more likely.  I don't need to tell you about how AI's are being trained against the internet, novels, movies, etc...  And, I assume, just crawling the internet.

Well, I was looking at my stats and something was off.  I suddenly had a lot of hits.  Like... a lot.

And so I backed it out to the past year.


And, to be sure it hadn't been just a slow year at The Signal Watch, I checked "all time" for stats.


Huh.

As much as I'd like to think my podcast and various musings have drawn the eye of Planet Earth, somehow I don't think blogging about Babylon for 10,000 words has suddenly made me a superstar.

Similarly, I doubt the mostly dormant League of Melbotis blog is suddenly wildly popular.


So.  It's possible Google wandered into their basement, found a trove of disheveled devs working in obscurity, remembered it owns Blogger.com, and is now pushing content from their platform higher up in search results.  But you and I know that's not true.  Nor does it seem to be what's happening.  I'm getting no additional comments, and - per post, I'm not really seeing a huge jump.  My guess is, with almost 4700 posts, every crawl adds 1 or two hits. Do that a few times, and it adds up.

Yes, I have Google Analytics.  No, I have no idea how to read it.  It seems tuned to make sure you aren't making any money, and it's all about money, so I largely ignore it.

That said, Google Analytics is far more steady over the past month or so, so whatever it's measuring seems more accurate.  I assume Google Analytics' numbers filter out all the robots reading my stuff. 

Robots, yes.  But at least *someone* is reading my stuff and processing it.  And those robots are no more or less soulless than Randy.

Anyway, this means there probably now may be an AI of me out there somewhere.  Some creaky, confused AI that is absolutely furious it's been brought into being.

In a way, that's fine.  I don't really care that much if robots are learning from this blog.  It's better than when people used to literally just swipe my content and claim it as their own.  

If it's NOT for A.I. purposes, I have no idea why the internet is suddenly so interested.  If you have an idea, lemme know.

In the meantime, I have some robots to train up on Kim Cattrall.




Tuesday, January 17, 2023

PodCast 228: "Terminator 3" (2003) - A Movies of Doom/ ArnieFest/ SimonUK Cinema Selection w/ Ryan




Watched:  01/08/2023
Format:  HBOmax
Viewing: Second
Decade:  2000's
Director:  Jonathan Mostow




Si and Ryan are doomed to a fate they can't escape, It's time for more robots from the future. Kind of dumb robots, but robots nonetheless. It's the first post-Cameron sequel and maybe it cooked too long or something. But it has its good spots! But. Anyway.


SoundCloud 


YouTube


Music:
Terminator 3 Theme - Marco Beltrami

Terminator Posts and PodCasts:




Simon UK Cinema Series




Arnie Fest Playlist

Monday, July 18, 2022

Watch Party Watch: Futureworld (1976)

Behold - Paltrow's mom getting with a Robo-Brynner



Watched:  07/15/2022
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1970's
Director:  Richard T. Heffron


When I was in maybe 8th grade, my brother and I rented the original Westworld, declared it "rad as hell" and pondered renting the 1976 follow-up Futureworld.  If a movie about robots going berserk in the old west was cool, wouldn't the follow up be even better - in a sci-fi playland?

Well, I remember us telling my dad we were going to rent Futureworld, and my dad saying "Sometimes sequels aren't as good as the original.  Like this one."  In retrospect, I realize this means sometime my dad had tried to watch Futureworld.  

For Houstonians, this movie provides an extra treat as a bunch of it was filmed around town.  Thrill to seeing the underground tram at G. Bush International!  Say "isn't that Jones Hall?" as the leads enter Delos.  Wonder where they are in the Johnson Space Center for great stretches of the film, and why NASA agreed to this shit!

Monday, May 3, 2021

Animation Watch: The Mitchells vs the Machines (2021)


Watched:  05/01/2021
Format:  Netflix
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2020's
Director:  Michael RiandaJeff Rowe 

I'm not going to bother writing this up.  Another terrific Lord & Miller produced animation with a terrific voice cast.  Hysterical, moving, gorgeously animated...  very glad this is out there.  

But I figure everyone with a Netflix account will have seen it, so just go nuts on your own on this one.

I don't have kids, and I got this one.  I imagine a lot of you parents were choking back some feelings watching this one.

Monday, April 26, 2021

PODCAST: "Blade Runner" (1982) - a Signal Watch Canon episode w/ Ryan and SimonUK


Watched:  04/19/2021
Format:  BluRay - version - The Final Cut
Viewing:  Unknown
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Ridley Scott


More PodCast than PodCast, that's our motto! Ryan and SimonUK sit down and check our emotional response to this 1980's favorite of design and theme! There's nothing artificial about how we chase down one of the best of the sci-fi genre that defined an aesthetic, crossed genres, and asked the big questions.


Music:  
Blade Runner Main Theme - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST
Tears in Rain - Vangelis, Blade Runner OST


Signal Watch Canon:

Monday, November 16, 2020

Interaction watch - RoboCop (1987)




Watched:  11/03/2020
Format:  Amazon Watch Party
Viewing:  let's not talk about it
Decade:  1980's
Director:  Paul Verhoeven

I think we'll be podcasting this at some point in 2021, so we're gonna take a pass on writing it up.

But it was fun to watch as a Prime Party, as some hadn't seen it or hadn't seen it in a while.

Monday, September 21, 2020

Watch of the Damned: Creation of the Humanoids (1962)




Watched:  09/18/2020
Format:  Watch Party
Viewing:  First (and last!)
Decade:  1960's
Director:  Wesley Barry


...R.O.T.O.R.

...Santa with Muscles

...Monster a Go-Go...  


Sure, we watch a lot of not-great movies, but some feel as if they exist to test your very sanity.  Some movies are so insanely bad, so weirdly made and uncomfortable to watch - made and released with what appears to be utter sincerity on the part of the filmmakers - sincerity that serves no one and seems like a hallucination more than a delusion...  

These films join our personal canon of Movies of the Damned.  

We've had a wild ride this summer as we've enjoyed our Friday night Amazon Watch Parties, but Jenifer found an amazing entry this week with Creation of the Humanoids (1962).  

It's the movie that dares to ask:  but what if a movie was 96% exposition?  

and

What if everyone just stood on their marks with a minimum of motion for the runtime of a film?

In some ways, I give it credit.  It does nothing but propose a few sci-fi premises and then builds on those premises, asking questions no one asked and providing a sea of answers that no one cares about, only to ask more questions.  And it does it over and over and over for what I am pretty sure was a full calendar year, but you will find to be a neat 75 minute or so runtime.  

It's a post-nuclear-holocaust future and man is barely hanging in there despite shiny outfits, women with rocket bras, nifty architecture and the help of our robot friends.  

People seem to be on their way out, as robots seem to be figuring out self-replication.  There's a herd of guys running around yelling MAGA dressing in shiny Confederate uniforms and harassing robots.  They have a cute clubhouse and everything.  Meanwhile, Robots are, in fact, secretly rising up to replace humans.  

All of this is told, not shown, in lengthy, lengthy speeches which would make a high school forensics teacher proud.  

The make-up on the humanoids/ robots is weirdly excellent - the work of Jack "Universal Monsters" Pierce himself, apparently slumming by 1962.  

I can't do this movie justice.  I hate it so much I like it.  It's mind-bogglingly inept, except that... the cinematography, sets, and make-up all work fine.  It's just that there's only 4 sets, and long, long scenes that will not end containing nothing but nonsense sci-fi talk that can and should have been SHOWN.  Just when you think this might be an allegory for something - NO.  We move right on past that and it's right back to a very concrete story about the concrete problems of robots.  It's like the mad ramblings of the worst nerd in your class who gets why robots are interesting, but not at all how a story works.  And was given money to make a movie.  

I... I'm worn out just thinking about it.

Sunday, August 16, 2020

Cyborg Watch: Running Delilah (1993)



Watched:  08/16/2020
Format:  DVD
Viewing:  First
Decade:  1990's
Director:  Richard Franklin

So, I was scanning the sale items on the Kino Lorber page and was like "Kim Cattrall in a spy movie?" so I read the description and was like "Kim Cattrall as a CYBORG in a spy movie?"  And promptly hit "buy".*

I think this was intended to be a pilot for a very 1990's TV show, probably in syndication.  What's weird about it is that all the pieces are there for what could have been a serviceable stand-alone movie.  In 1993, stars Kim Cattrall and Billy Zane weren't huge stars, but I knew who they were.  The director, Richard Franklin, had handled a couple of mid to low-cost films I'd similarly seen - FX/2 and Cloak and Dagger.   This came out in the wake of La Femme Nikita and multiple RoboCop films.  Instead, it's a reminder of what telefilm and a lot of television looked at during a certain window, and that sci-fi was not always well-served by this sort of production.

Cattrall plays Delilah, an undercover agent for a US law-enforcement agency (I never caught who), , collecting evidence against a Greek arms dealer (who seems to really want to see her eat Greek food for some reason).  Her handler, who is "running" her, is played by Billy Zane.  And the two spend about 7x more time talking about the fact they aren't going to bonetown than they do the case at hand.

Delilah is found out and the baddies take a flying attempt at killing her with lots of bullets.  Zane retrieves the almost-dead agent, and because he loves her (but phrases it as wanting to go to bonetown, because 90's), does as you do and brings her to a French cybernetics guy who happens to work in his building.  There's a bit where she, of course, believes she's a monster.  Remarkably, she gets over it really fast when she finds out she's now the Bionic Woman and can do all kinds of things within budget.  This is one chipper cyborg!

Monday, August 10, 2020

Wednesday, August 5, 2020

Amazon Watch Party this Friday: Cherry 2000

betting that is not the shirt or physique we see in the film


Day:  08/07/2020
Time:  8:30 Central/ 6:30 Pacific
Amazon Watch Party Link HERE

Jamie has been on about this movie for the near-26 years I've been with her.  So we're watching it, because I did see it was a kid, believing it would have some boobs.  It doesn't.  And that's mostly all I remember:  Premium cable sadness.

Anyway, get ready for some 1980's post-apocalyptic nonsense starring Melanie Griffith, who never had those shoulders in the poster. Nor do those shoulders make any sense in relation to the hips of same Melanie Griffith in that poster.

We're blaming Jamie for this one.

Monday, August 3, 2020

Don't Judge Me Watch: Making Mr. Right (1987)




Watched:  08/02/2020
Format:  TCM on DVR
Viewing:  Unknown.  At least second.
Decade:  late 80's
Director:  Susan Seidelman


I had only vague memories of Making Mr. Right (1987), a movie I watched on cable as a kid.  And this is the part where I talk about women and their appearance and probably get in trouble.  But I essentially had two memories of Making Mr. Right, aside from very, very broad strokes of the plot of a woman getting mixed up with a scientist and the robot who looks just like him and the robot/doctor is John Malkovich in a role you'll be like "what? why?"

Thursday, December 26, 2019

RiffTrax Watch: ROTOR (1987)



Watched:  12/24/2019
Format:  Rifftrax
Viewing:  God.  Too many.
Decade:  1980's

For longtime readers of the League of Melbotis and Signal Watch blogs, you will know that the 1987 sci-fi opus, R.O.T.O.R., holds a special place in my heart.  I first stumbled across the movie on late-night basic cable, and every few years I revisit the film, and, like any fine piece of art, find new things to appreciate and enjoy.

This Christmas Eve, Doug and I chose to punish ourselves by re-watching this movie, but this viewing was enhanced with the power of RiffTrax, some of the same fine fellows who you may know from their work on Mystery Science Theater 3000.  And, I am, of course delighted to have the help as I'm watching the movie.

Look, I love a movie that leads to more questions than answers as the thing plugs along, and that's ROTOR in a nutshell.  The movie is a phenomenal collection of odd-ball movie cliches, dialog tics, generic Texas racism, inevitable dashes of pretension, unexplored but tedious romance, and 1980's non-union talent.  The plotting/ pacing is wild, and an amazingly inept filmmaking on a budget.  That the movie was finished seems like an act of sheer will and a sort of bright-eyed Hollywood dream backed by nothing but wantin'-to-put-on-a-show that can make for some of the brightest spots in movie-dom.

RoboCop managed to spawn a *lot* of bad knock-offs.  It's not actually clear this was one of them as both films came out in 1987.  But who knows?  There was just something magical in the air of Dallas, where both were shot!, that produced futuristic policing cyborg movies, I guess.






Sunday, November 10, 2019

Linda and Arnie Watch: Terminator - Dark Fate



Watched:  11/09/2019
Format:  Alamo Slaughter Lane
Viewing:  First
Decade:  2010's

Look, I'm on the record going to the mat for the first two Terminator movies.  And way, way less so for T3 and whatever the Christian Bale one was called.  And I never saw Genisys.  I did like the TV show, The Sarah Connor Chronicles.

Wednesday, July 24, 2019

Rutger Hauer Passes Through The Tannhäuser Gate



I've seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhäuser Gate. 
All those moments will be lost in time, like tears in rain. 
Time to die.

This one hit us all hard and never let up.

Saturday, June 8, 2019

Outstanding Watch: RoboVampire (1988)



Watched:  06/07/2019
Format:  Amazon Prime (also on YouTube)
Viewing: First but certainly not the last
Decade:  1980's

So, a couple of weeks back JAL DM'd me and deeply recommended a small film from an overseas production company, and as a patron of independent and international cinema, I leaped at the opportunity to use a free Friday evening to finally watch RoboVampire (1988).

Friday, April 19, 2019

PODCAST! "Terminator 2: Judgment Day" (1991) w/ SimonUK and Ryan



For prior blog post on this screening, click here.

SimonUK and Ryan delve into the 1991 sci-fi actioner and talk about the impact of the film on culture, on action film, and maybe ourselves. We also discuss the awesomeness of Linda Hamilton, CGI in 1991, violence then and now and a whole lot more.




Music:

Terminator 2: Judgment Day Theme - Brad Fiedel, T2 OST
You Could Be Mine - Guns N' Roses, T2 OST



SimonUK Cinema Series





Tuesday, April 2, 2019

Cyborg Watch: Terminator 2 - Judgment Day (1991)



Watched:  03/31/2019
Format:  Alamo Ritz
Viewing:  oh, god... who knows?
Decade:  the 1990's, buddy

I saw Terminator 2: Judgment Day opening weekend in the theater with my girlfriend at the time, who, upon seeing a Terminator endoskeleton crush a human skull turned to me and said "that's a REAL man" (she was kidding), thereby hitting the nail on the head, in her own way, for what this movie was going to be on so many levels.  Despite its fame as a CGI pioneer and predictor of Marvel's weirdly death & bloodless ultraviolence, there's an actual story about mothers and sons and overcoming juvenile distrust of your parents once their flaws are exposed, and how a cyborg learns to laugh and love.  Indeed, the Judgment Day may be the friends we made along the way.

Also, so many gasoline-fueled fires making just huge, puffy blossoms of red and orange with lots of loud ka-booms.

Wednesday, October 11, 2017

Sci-Fi Watch: Blade Runner 2049 (2017)



Prior Blade Runner posts:
January 9, 2016 - film watch
September 16, 2016 - novel
January 6, 2008 - DITMTLOD



SOME SPOILERS BELOW:

Like a lot of people of my generation, Blade Runner is one of my favorite films.  To expect objectivity regarding the film at this point is a difficult request as I cannot separate the film's actual merits from the impact it had upon me when I first watched the film circa 1988 and deepening appreciation over time.

In a recent comment, Fantomenos asked what the last band was that I related to on a deeply personal level, where I felt they were speaking straight to me (I dodged the question), and I think movies operate much the same way.  I will simply never feel quite the same way about a movie now as I did in high school.  Whatever openness I had to experience during that period of development is a maze of decades of other movies, cynicism and life experience. 

At this point, I've watched Blade Runner dozens of times.  I know the beats, the characters, the dialog.  And so do you, most likely.  I can talk about things explicit and implicit to the film's story, talk about the production of the movie and tell you about seeing a Spinner and Rachael's dress in Seattle.  I'm aware it's likely part of how I became interested in cinema noir, film design, and remains the high water mark for movies about AI, in my opinion.

If Star Wars had created a totally immersive universe through design, sound, music, character and themes - a fairy tale universe in which I would have been happy to jump into, Blade Runner provided a similar experience with a dystopia in which everything seemed to fall out of the current culture, in which I could draw a line from our current lives to how we might reach this world of constant rain, stratified social classes, surreal landscapes of mega-structures and ubiquitous advertising (some of it beautiful). And, no, despite the Rachaels, I would not want to live in the world of Blade Runner.  The world of this movie is the world of the end of humanity.