Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Sci-Fi Saturday rundown

Saturdays have become known as Sci-Fi Saturdays for me now as for many years starting around 1995 or so I was part of a small Dr. Who club, which met together in the small West Texas town of Midland on Saturdays nights around 7pm.  We'd meet for pizza at some pizza buffet and discussed SF and stuff, and then we'd go watch a Doctor Who video.  Sometimes we'd watch some other SF movie, but it was a fun time and shared social experience.  Like many things life has a way of changing ones course and many of the people in our club had to move on due to jobs and other commitments--me included.  But the Saturday experience stayed with me and is hard to shake, not that I particularly care too as I'm still a big science fiction fan, and there's still plenty of it I wish to watch and re-watch.  I think I learned more about SF and gained a deeper appreciation of it due to that experience.  It was a relaxing way to forget about work and the past week and forget about other worldly matters and just shared a like-minded hobby. 

This past Saturday was no exception as I got up and watched Battle In Outer Space (1959) or originally titled Uchu daisenso, by director Ishiro Hondo and the Toho studios.  He made other Japanese movies like Rodan, Mothra, Destroy All Monsters, and others.  It was an epic SF movie in that it had cool special effects, aliens, flying saucers, cool laser battles, and was a perfect way to begin Saturday.  It is similar to a lot of other alien invasion films in that the aliens want to take over Earth for their needs, which means getting rid of  humans or enslaving the rest of us.  The Japanese are wonderful at crafting small miniatures for blowing up, and using quick cuts in the editing so that it fools the mind with their special effects.  The film has a retro coolness about it too with the space uniforms, space station, and vehicles that they used.  It was interesting too that the aliens used mind control to get some of the earthlings to do their bidding.  The one small flaw in the film occurs a bit with the special effects.  With the advent of high def  TV and blu-ray DVDs some of the strings used for the space ships and such are visible which spoil the effects a bit, but as I said they are quickly edited so the action moves pretty quickly.  The second half of the film deals with a great battle of laser weapons from both them and us.  What a fun film. 

I did a few chores during the afternoon, but my general habit for Saturday nights has been to watch Star Trek: The Original Series.  I have the first and third seasons on DVD, but I like watching them this way  because for some reason seeing the broadcast over the airwaves takes me back to their original time of on-air broadcast.  The episode that was shown was another classic called Errand Of Mercy.  Where Kirk and Spock are sent to the planet Organia to help rally them against a Klingon invasion.  They seem alarmingly unconcerned and pacifistic.  The Klingons do indeed show up, and not to give away spoilers, that's when the episode gets interesting.  It seems when Star Trek fans get asked the question, "What's your favorite Star Trek episode, most polls come up with the classic episode, City on The Edge of  Forever."  Which I can't blame them, it's a classic episode, and there are many classic ones when dealing with Star Trek: TOS.  This one seems classic to me as well, as it ends with Roddenberry's  utopian view of the universe in that war could be overcome if we'd work harder at it. 

I finished out the night by watching Neon Genesis Evangelion Platinum Collection.  It's an anime series that came out in 1995, which contains episodes 1-5.  It's pretty good, and a fast paced series that deals with the invasion of  our planet by some creatures oddly known as Angels.  I say oddly, because living in the western world normally angels have a reverent connotation.  At any rate a young boy is chosen to become the one to operate one of the mechanical robot weapons that is to defend the earth against this invasion of aliens.  Perhaps it comes out later why he was chosen--possibly it's due to his father's references as he works for the same government organization.  I've just started watching the episodes, but I'll say it is fun to watch with interesting art, and I enjoy it when the robots and aliens start battling with each other. 


At 1:03 PM, Blogger Roman J. Martel said...

"Battle In Outer Space" sounds like a blast. I love Japanese sci-fi from that era, and I've completely missed this one. I'll seek it out!

"Errand of Mercy" is a good one. I haven't seen it in a couple years, but I remember it pretty vividly. So it must have made an impact. (I did a revisit of the entire original series a couple years ago. Had a blast of nostalgia and a new appreciation for the series).

So happy to see you are digging into EVA. I have the Platinum collection as well, and it looks great. EVA is a series that builds on itself, so more answers (and questions) are revealed as you go along. When it ends, you'll want to take some time to digest what you saw, and then go back in for a rewatch. The second time you can keep an eye out for the symbolism and themes that drive the show and it becomes an even more engaging watch.

Here's a hint though... Fear and how the different characters handle it is a big theme to the entire series. Looking forward to more thoughts about EVA as you go along!

At 7:38 PM, Blogger El Vox said...

Hey Roman, yes, Battle in Outer Space is a fun romp all the way around. I just caught it off TCM on cable, but I wouldn't mind owning a copy of it on DVD--good technicolor too. I hope they keep finding these smaller SF films and putting them out on DVD for the fans.

Errand of Mercy was a good episode, and TOS is my favorite era, but there are many good episodes on Next Gen and the others. It's hard to believe at times that it originally aired so long ago.

Yep, I like Evangelion, and I think it may lead me to watch other anime. It does take a while to acclimate to it, and there are things I still don't understand about the medium in general. Perhaps a book on the subject might clear up some of that. If I were to criticize one thing on the DVD though it would be that I wish they'd released the disc with English language, and also with English subtitles. The disc I have from Netflix only allows Japanese language with Eng. subtitles or English language with no subtitles. (I also watched one episodes in the Japanese language once too.) I watch stuff all the time with subtitles. Cheers.

At 5:05 AM, Blogger SFF said...

Hey gents.
As you mentioned El Vox, the special effects are terrific in BIOS. I found it a little slow, but enjoyed the visuals. A stronger story would have made it a better film to be sure.

I actually did a full write-up of it if you guys want to check that out. Just an FYI.

Have a great day.

At 6:56 AM, Blogger El Vox said...

Thanks SFF. I will check that out as time allows. So much stuff has hit me on the home front lately, I've had to slow down a bit with the blogging/reading and what have you. Sometimes hobbies and fun have to take a back seat to real work affairs. But I like to have my fun when time allows.

At 10:13 AM, Blogger SFF said...

Understand. I have periods like that as well. It just comes to a screeching halt for me sometimes whether its being busy or brain drain. You take care.


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