Wednesday, March 30, 2016

Emerald Web

Back in the early to mid-80's my brother and me would take a short trip to Austin.  We'd go down there about twice a year, and stock up on culture, music, visit friends, eat some good food, soak up good positive vibes, and all that.  Austin at that time really radiated that sort of thing.  We'd usually plan a trip around this time of year when the bluebonnets would be coming out in the spring.  The ride down was always pleasurable, as you'd go through a bunch of smaller Texas towns, the Texas hill country, and we'd stop off around Brady or Eden, Texas and get some barbecue.  It was just about often enough to super charge your battery, and then you were energized enough to go back to the daily grind back home.

Once in Austin we'd stop in Whole Foods, they originated as a small store in Austin,  before they became the the huge supermarket chain store that they are today, and we'd pick up some coffee, usually Kona from Hawaii, but also some other variety like Pecan,, vanilla, or some other flavor, again this was quite before coffee became a vogue commodity.  We'd get some international beer, maybe some other groceries, we'd go to Waterloo Records and another small independent store there, I forget their name, it might have been BookPeople when they were a much smaller store, and before they moved to their larger shop on the other side of Lady Bird Lake (Colorado River).  At any rate they were sort of a New Age shop.  New Age was a new thing then, and this shop had all sorts of things.  I'm not even really sure what all the movement encompassed or what it was all about, but I think it was about overall self-improvement of the mind, body, and spirit.  In other words it was a self-discovery thing.  They had crystals, music, books, incense, movies, massage oil, and all that.  It was really a neat place to go look around in because of its uniqueness.

That's where I'd look at some of the merging New Age artist, and buy a few cassettes or LPs.  I really found some interesting things that I still listen to today.  I had already heard of some of these musicians from a radio show I'd tune into on a Sunday night called Hearts of Space, and taped that pretty religiously for nearly a year or more.  I still have many of those tapes as well.   At any rate, I picked up the above album, The Best of Both Worlds: The Second Audion Sampler, either on cassette or CD.  I've tried to find it today, but I'll have to look further as I can't find it, but it was one of those compilation albums that contained many different musicians.  I eventually picked up other albums by the artist featured on that album.  Emerald Web had one of the first songs on the album, and I've been listening to their music today.  They were a husband and wife team that made some really lovely music. It was a combination of synthesizer and flute.  Some of it is up-temp, at other times mysterious, majestic, ethnic/world infused, haunting, serene, and so forth. 

I ran into a radio broadcast online that features many of their songs on it, and have been listening to it this morning as well.  Check it out, it's wonderful and has brought back a lot of happy memories for me. 

Tuesday, March 29, 2016

Model kits & Nostalgia

Back in the day I used to put together a lot of plastic model kits.  I'm not exactly from the same era as the kid on the cover of that Life magazine, though I can identify with him.  I'm a child of the 50's, and back then other than playing outside with friends, riding bikes, swimming, reading comics or books, watching a bit of TV, and whatnot, there wasn't a whole lot of entertainment out there for kids.  There is still something about modelling that appeals to me, and I have a few kits around the house that I have bought throughout the years, that I've been meaning to sit down and put together.  But I digress.

There's a magazine called Amazing Figure Modeler that I like thumbing through from time to time, and ever so often I'll pick up a copy.  Some of the models and kits in it are indeed pretty amazing.  Back when I was putting those kits together though the industry was in its infancy.  Mostly the kits were cars, planes, and later on, some figures, like the Universal monster kits, the Big Daddy Roth Revel Monogram kits, and there was a knock off of those as well on Testors, called Weird-Ohs.  The hot rod culture was in full bloom.  There was a kid in our neighborhood, who lived adjacent to our house, whom I became good friends with, and he used to be a kit builder.  His name was Scott Reid, I still remember him after all these years, but once he moved to Jacksonville, Texas, and then we moved, I lost contact with him.  At any rate, he used to make models, and got me into the hobby as well.  They had a little garage behind their house where he'd put together his models.  There's something about that era, however deplete we were of high tech, that's still remains pretty nostalgic to me.  

I ran into two videos about a Japanese model maker that I thought were pretty interesting so I thought I'd share:  Here's Part One.

And here's Part Two.

Here's a couple of new model kits planned from the film Pacific Rim: Gypsy Danger.  I don't know if these are true model kits or action figures.  They look more like the later to me, but are still pretty cool.  

My head has been in the clouds lately thinking about science fiction.  I wish they would make more of it.  There's so many books that would make a good SF movie or at least a TV series, if they produced it well.  That's always the sketchy "if."  But, yeah, there's nothing better than seeing a cool SF movie.  I ran across this article on some future plans for some SF movies, but they are still a ways off.  Some of them, like The Martian, and The Expanse have already come out.   The six-hour mini series, Childhood's End also played on the Syfy channel, and to tell you the truth, I didn't think it was that good. Here's one critics take on it, but for me, I think aside from it  being a bit lackluster production-wise, I think one of the main drawbacks is that after so many years later after the book's initial release we've seen so many alien invasion films that it's not particularly new or awesome anymore unless done extremely well,  even though Childhood's End is a classic of that genre.  Here's a BBC production on that same novel if interested in hearing it.

Stephen King's book adaptation, 11-22-63 is also currently playing on the paid Hulu Network.  So some of these SF adaptions look to be pretty cool at least on paper, while others, we'll just have to a wait and see.  Wool by Hugh Crowley always sounded like it was perfect for a SF series.  I'm currently reading Swan Song by Robert R. McCammon.  It would make a pretty good TV series or movie.  It's similar to The Stand by Stephen King--it's an apocalyptic story.


Speaking of SF stories, I ran across these "free to read"  older SF stories feature in the publication called If.   If was an American science fiction magazine launched in March 1952 by Quinn Publications, owned by James L. Quinn. The magazine was moderately successful, though it was never regarded as one of the first rank of science fiction magazines. If achieved its greatest success under editor Frederik Pohl, winning the Hugo Award for best professional magazine three years running from 1966 to 1968. If was merged into Galaxy Science Fiction after the December 1974 issue, its 175th issue overall.

 IF, originally titled If Worlds of Science Fiction and later Worlds of If, was a monthly magazine that began publishing in 1952. It was published continuously for 22 years. During its run it published some of the most acclaimed SF of the 20th Century, including “I Have No Mouth, and I Must Scream” by Harlan Ellison, Robert A. Heinlein’s The Moon is a Harsh Mistress, Larry Niven’s “Neutron Star,” James Blish’s A Case of Conscience, Roger Zelazny’s Creatures of Light and Darkness, Heinlein’s Farnham’s Freehold, Jack Williamson and Fredrick Pohl’s The Reefs of Space, and much, much more.

Also over at Archive.org, I ran across James Burke's Connections.   Connections was a BBC produced series, which was an examination of the ideas, inventions, and coincidences that have culminated in the major technological achievements of today.  It was a ten-part TV series that was broadcast over PBS many years ago.  It was conceived in the tradition of the highly popular series, Civilization and The Ascent of Man (both worth watching too).  Connections traced the steps that led to eight inventions that ushered in the technological age.  The computer, the airplane, the atomic bomb, plastics, the guided rocket, and television are innovations that permanently altered civilization and man's relationship to nature.

Burke himself was a graduate of Oxford University, and was the BBC's chief reporter on the Apollo missions to the moon.  In 1972 he began his own weekly television series, "The Burke Special."  Connections took over two years to make, and research and filming has taken the author to twenty-three countries.  If you haven't seen it, it's worth a watch.

  
 

Friday, March 25, 2016

Woody Allen

Time Out magazine, the arts and entertainment magazine in NYC ranked Wood Allen's films.  That would be a hard challenge.  I can't do that as I haven't seen them all.  I can name off the ones I really enjoy or what I might recommend to someone that was interested in seeing something he made to find out if they'd like to watch more.  But that's about it.  For me I'd say:  Manhattan, that might be my #1 film to recommend, others might say Annie Hall, and I can't quibble too much with that, but Manhattan is really a nice ode to a classic city.  It's also a story of romance.  I've always been fond of Radio Days too, which has sort of a quasi-autobiographical feel to it.  Plus I like the era in which it is told.

I've always enjoy Stardust Memories too about a director that wants to shift the tone and style of his films and make something more series in nature, and the quandary that goes thru his mind thinking about that.   If fantasy is more your bag (sans unicorns, hobbits, and elves), Purple Rose of Cairo is a nice celebration of the cinema and the escapism it provides to us the audience.  If Sci-Fi is your thing, check out Sleeper.

His earlier films are a little more slapstick and vaudevillian, and his later films more mature and subtle though many still contain comedic elements.  So it's just a matter of what you might be in the mood for.   One they don't list because he didn't write or direct it, although Allen is one of the main stars in it, is The Front.  It's an excellent film about the blacklisting (Communist witch hunts) of the writers in Hollywood.  They also don't mention, Play It Again, Sam, which I've always liked a lot as well.  Allen did write it, and starred in it, but it was directed by Herbert Ross.  Here's the list if you want to see how they ranked them. 

Tuesday, March 22, 2016

For The Record



All Things Must Pass is a recent documentary on Tower Records, I'm anxious to be able to rent a copy of it on DVD.   They started out in California, and grew into just about every metro area of the U.S.A. and even Japan.  The closest one to me at the time was in Austin or Dallas.  I'd been to both stores, and they were huge warehouses catering to any taste.  One of the things about that era of brick and mortar stores was that they had listening stations, where you could hear several albums before purchasing them.  This may not seem like a big deal during our computer age, but back then it was a innovative way to sell music.  If nothing else they were a good place to just go kill some time, sample some tunes, and people watch, but if you were a music fan it was like Nirvana.

Below that is Armadillo World Headquarters, it was a venue in Austin, Tx which showcased live bands.

I saw Frank Zappa and Captain Beefhearts play  there when they were on their Bongo Fury tour, and they taped all of that album there over several nights.  Commander Cody and His Lost Planet Airmen also taped their live album there. That album cover by the way was created by Jim Franklin, a local Austin artist.  I have one of his posters at my wall at home, which I got free from one of the local record stores there called Inner Sanctum Records.

I wish I had taken in more shows there while I live in Austin back in the mid-70s.  One of the bands that I wish I had seen while I was still there, but missed, was the British band, Gentle Giant.   It has since closed, which is too bad.  There are still many venues there where bands can play, but there was something intimate about Armadillo World.  If you've ever seen the PBS show, Austin City Limits, that is taped at the Moody Theater there as well.

I've always been a big music fan.  I started out listening to things as a small child and it just naturally bloomed from there.   The first 33 1/2 records I got were The Beatles '65 album, and the odd selection of Roger Miller's second album, The Return of Roger Miller.  That may seem like an odd juxtaposition of musical taste, but Roger Miller was popular at the time.


Here lately I've been listening to the Mile Davis album, A Man With the Horn, and the British guitarist, Allan Holdsworth's IOU album.  Both are sort of fusion-y.  I've been listening also to an Electronic/ New Age duo, a husband and wife team known as Emerald Web, the album titled, Aqua Regia. By the way they've also done soundtracks for Carl Sagan, some soundtracks for TV,  NASA,  and Planetarium shows.  They do a nice job of fusing synthesizer to flute and other instruments.
I've also been listening to this very odd progressive jazz album by Wolfgang Dauner, along with bassist Eberhard Weber entitled, Output.  If you are into Sci-Fi you might try to seek this one out.  For some oddball reason it reminds me a bit of George Lucas' film, THX 1138.  I know back in the day when I was buying more jazz and picking up some ECM albums the cover to this album always intrigued me by its weirdness.  One of the fascinating things about album cover art is that a lot of the times they could almost give you a slight indication about what the music might sound like, and Output is mostly jazzy with keyboards and synths, but there's some weird futuristic soundscapes at the beginning too.  Overall though it's a pretty cool album.  You can hear some of this on Youtube.    But I believe it's just one cut from the album.  The song though is representative of the ECM label at the time, rather evocative, experimental, and introspective.

Also lately here on Youtube, I've watch several videos from the vinyl community or VLOGs, which are just vinyl collectors talking about what they have picked up in record stores, or used outlets, or what they've been listening to lately.  They come from all different places in the world and have all sorts of taste, but they can be interesting to hear if you are a music fan.  Here are a few of those:

This guy lives up around the Chicago area and goes by the name of Gorvo31.  He has unusual taste that runs the gamut of jazz, free jazz, new age, space synthesizer, tranquillity, peace/taoism type music and a bit of everything in-between.  I enjoy his Vlogs.

This guy goes by the name of Cosmic Pickle, and I believe he's up around the NYC area.  I've listened to a few of his videos and he gets pretty detailed about the bands and the different discography that they've released.  But if you are in the mood, he can be pretty entertaining.  I believe he used to DJ radio shows.

This guy (el bicho feo) lives up around the Santa Fe, NM area, and is also a drummer.  He has very broad taste in music, but generally centers around the jazz/progressive genre.  I really like listening to his videos and generally grab a notepad and pen because I'll want to take notes and jot down some of the titles he mentions.  Very informative.

Dereckvon lives up in the Omaha, NE area, and also is a musician.  His taste gets pretty broad too.  He likes anything from classic rock, jazz, funk, independent, hip hop, synth, and all things in-between.  With his Vlog he'll also just make a video about any old thing on his mind that day, but he's pretty interesting.

There are several more, and I since I have a pretty broad musical taste myself I really like hearing these guys talk about music.  Oh by the way I ran across a new music festival I'd never heard of called Big Ears Festival.   The currently lineup for 2016 looks like it's broad in scope and is up in Knoxville, TN.  Take a look at their lineup of music.  It would be great fun to attend, but it's already getting close to being sold out. 

Sunday, March 20, 2016

Steampunk

April and the Extraordinary World is a steampunk adventure that will open in New York (IFC Center) next Friday, March 25, followed by an April 1 launch in Los Angeles (Nuart Theater), and will have limited national expansion on April 8. 

Based on the iconic graphic art of French comic artist Jacques Tardi, April and the Extraordinary World is set in an alternative electricity-less Paris, circa 1941, where a family of scientists on the brink of discovering a life serum is kidnapped by shadowy forces. Their daughter, April, continues the family’s research in secret, only to become entangled in a far-reaching conspiracy that puts her “on the run from government agents, bicycle-powered dirigibles and cyborg rat spies.”

I first ran across Jacques Tardi's work in an international anthology comic called Cheval Noir put out on the Dark Horse Comics imprint.  Tardi's artwork is fairly simplistic, but the stories were always fun to read.  Directed by Persepolis animator Christian Desmares and Boyster producer Franck Ekinci, April won the Cristal for best feature film at Annecy last year.

ENGLISH VOICE CAST
  • Paul Giamatti – Pizoni
  • Tony Hale – Darwin
  • Susan Sarandon – Chimène
  • J.K. Simmons – Rodrigue
  • Angela Galuppo – April
  • Tod Fennell – Julius
  • Tony Robinow – Pops
  • Mark Camacho – Paul
  • Macha Grenon – Annette
Speaking of foreign animation, if you've not seen The Illusionist, it's well worth your time.  It's a French-Scottish 2010 film by Jacques Tati, who also did Mon Oncle and Play Time, so it has a light air about it.  It's  about a magician who meets a young lady who is convinced his magic is real.  To me, I thought it was a romantic relationship perhaps about an unrequited love that never happened, but upon looking at the Net, it's about the relationship between a dad and his daughter.  Youtube has it up now if interested. 

    I was at Walmart the other day picking up groceries and they must have gotten in a new shipment of DVDs as it looked like it had been stocked recently.  It's bad for me to go into that section as I always see a few things I want to buy. I noticed they had a new set of the Universal Monsters, which contained Frankenstein, The Bride of Frankenstein, The Invisible Man, Dracula, the Wolf Man, and some others for around $30.  I'd eventually like to own that.   There's also a new complete slim-packaged set of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century with Gil Gerard and Erin Gray (which I already have).  I saw two new sets of the anime Voltron among some of the newer releases.

    I recently picked up St. Vincent with Bill Murray, Melissa McCarthy, and Naomi Watts, a comedy that I enjoyed some months back.   Star Wars: The Clone Wars (2008), which I believe is the third cartoon, which came after the hand drawn movie known as Star Wars: Clone Wars--Volume One (2003).  Confusing, I know.  Then I picked up a Steve Martin 3-disc set, and the Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which is the second film in that series.  Those I picked up fairly cheaply at pawn shops for a couple of bucks.

    But going back to the Dr. Who set.  It surprised me as it is a boxed set of four DVDs from the long running BBC SF series.  It contains Warriors of the Deep with Peter Davison (4 eps. 97 mins) When the TARDIS is forced to make an unplanned visit to Sea Base Four, the Doctor, Tegan and Turlough find themselves accused of being enemy agents.  However, there is a greater threat of the Silurians and the Sea Devils who have formed an alliance.

    The Sea Devils with Jon Pertwee (6 eps. 147 mins), When the Doctor and Jo Grant pay a visit to the Master at a top security prison off the south coast of England, the Doctor soon finds himself pitted against the Sea Devils, an ancient race of reptile intent on eliminating humankind. 

    Doctor Who and the Silurians (2-disc, 7 eps. 175 mins), Stars Jon Pertwee as the Doctor who is summoned to an underground research center to investigate a series of inexplicable power losses and soon discovers that the nearby cave system conceals a colony of an ancient race called the Silurians.  Supposedly available in color for the first time (I don't know if these were re-colored or what or the history on that, but perhaps the Bonus features will address it).  This package has a bunch of Bonus features as well.   So all three classic Who stories are about the Silurians and the Sea Devils.  I've seen the two Pertwee episodes, but don't remember seeing the Davison one. 

    The odd thing about the box set is that it was priced at $9.96, which I thought was cheap.  I came home and checked on Amazon, and there it's around $24.  So I don't know if it was miss priced or what, but I was happy to pick it up at the discount.  So you might check at the Walmart in your area if interested. 
    Over on the Inkstuds site you will find a podcast with Gilbert Hernandez.  He and his other brothers are the creators of the comic, Love and Rockets.  I'm not a huge fan of that particular series, but they've done other stories, which I have enjoyed, and I always enjoy looking at their art.  The Blubber story looks fun to me.  While digging through some of my back issues the other week, I ran across one of their stories in comic called Measles.

     

     

    Friday, March 11, 2016

    More Comedy





    The other day I was running some errands before the big deluge was predicted to hit our tiny corner of East Texas.   You may have seen on the local news or weather how parts of Louisiana, particularly Shreveport, LA., which is about two hours or so just east of me, got hit hard by all the rain, the swelling of rivers, and such has really made a hardship on some of those people.  They've gotten around twenty inches of rain, and I think here we've gotten a fair amount.  It's like living in a sponge lately and they still predict more of it.  My yard has pools of water in it, but I'm lucky in that I sort of live on a hill or slope and the water tends to drain away from me.  Knock on wood.

    At any rate while I was running around town while it was still dry, I stocked up on grub, and listened to Terry Gross's show, Fresh Air, where she interviewed Louie Anderson.  I've always enjoyed seeing Louie on late night shows, and enjoyed listening his stand-up monologues.  He sort of has the reputation of being a family friendly comic as he doesn't use a lot of obscenity or sexual situations, and yet is still interesting and funny to hear.  Another comic and one that I enjoy is Brian Regan.  For some reason, Regan, reminds me of a cleaner George Carlin, whom I enjoy as well.  Oddly they both use body language and facial expressions to drive home their humor.

    At any rate, Louie delves into his humor, where it comes from, and also that his home life wasn't all that great.  Being as large as he is you might think he also enjoys eating, which he does, and has a problem with it, which he says that eating is his drug of choice.  Currently he is playing a woman, the mother of a rodeo clown played by Zach Galifianakis on the new FX Channel comedy series.  I have not seen any of it yet, but have been meaning to check it out.   Listen to the full interview here. 

     Let's see what else has been going on?  Well, with all the rain been mostly staying inside and I'm still sorting through comics, which at least I've finding a stopping point.   My sister flies in next week as an aunt died last week, she made it to 100 years old.  I enjoyed listening to some of my family history through her stories.  She amazingly still had a fairly clear mind, however, her physical body had failed her as she was blind in one eye, and wore a hearing aid.   I did swing by a pawn shop, and they were busy, but I managed to buy three CDs (really just one of those combo packs), but it does have three Steve Martin movies in it:  Dead Men Don't Wear Plaid (which I already had, but a great movie), The Jerk (which I was wanting), and The Lonely Guy (as I remember, a fair movie).

    Also gathering together BS for taxes--don't you hate that?   I do!  I did run across a pretty fun video or vlog from a young woman that lives in Japan.  It's mostly her everyday life over there, but since she was from Texas and married a Japanese man it makes for interesting videos.  She'll show some of their excursions out into the countryside and around town too.   In one of her videos it shows her cooking in the kitchen, and evidently everything, of course, is compact due to all the people, etc.  But the oven or stove she was cooking on looked similar to something you'd take on a camping outing.  It was a small stove and ran off what looked like a propane-powered gas canister.  If interested you can check those out here. 

    Tuesday, March 08, 2016

    SF Podcast

    I'm putting this up as I thought it might appeal to others interested in the SF genre.   Most of these podcast from what it looks like are about different SF movies.  I'm  curious to hear the one about Ex Machina as well, which is episode 4.  Here's a list of the overall episodes that are available right now.

    Here's the one concerning the Dune episode.  Dune is one of those films that sort of polarizing within the SF community.  Personally I enjoy it.  Is it perfect, no, but what film is, particularly when taken from a pretty complex SF book like Dune.  I enjoy the film adaption over the made-for-TV series.  

    I've seen the documentary called Jodorowsky's Dune (2013)  as well.   My take on that is not as positive as others have enjoyed it.  I thought it was okay, but as that documentary went on, I kept thinking, well, all that is well and good in hindsight, but who knows if anything Jodorowsky says could have actually transpired?  It's food for thought, but rather lofty.  Saying he wanted to get Orson Welles and Salvador Dali to help with the film, and actually getting their help is two different things entirely.   It just seemed more a cerebral pipe dream to me.  I don't know of any director really that could outdo what David Lynch has already done.  If I were to pick one, it might be Peter Jackson.  He has the talent to pull it off and I would like to see what he could do with it, but there again the story has already been told by Lynch. 


    Monday, March 07, 2016

    B-Movie


    Trancers (1985) came out on HBO and was where I first saw it, but was also released on VHS.   It was a low budget movie, sort of modeled  something like Terminator with Arnold Schwarzenegger.  It was a time travel film, but to aid in their time travel, they were injected with a drug.  Now granted Terminator is a much better film, and I actually prefer the original over the sequel, Terminator 2: Judgement Day.  At any rate back then if one film had some kind of success, you could pretty much expect to see many spinoff/ripoffs.  I remember seeing Trancers all the time at Blockbuster.  I have to admit it does have a cool cover.   Actually it's not that bad of a film either, if you can deal with the low budget and some of the neon cheesy lighting.  I  think it may be the first role I'd seen Helen Hunt in.

    Trancers is the story of Jack Deth (Tim Thomerson) a character with a very pulpy name,  who lives in the year 2247.   He travels back in time to Los Angeles, 1985 to prevent the murders of some ancestors of the council members.  While tracking down the evil Martin Whistler (Michael Stefani) he falls in love with Leena (Helen Hunt, who looks around 20 years old in this film, and about a fifth of Thomerson's age.  Ok, weird and a bit creepy).  Jack has a personal vendetta against Whistler and his army of trancers because Jack's wife was recently killed by a trancer. 

    The movie is your basic B-movie action story--a guy, a girl, and somebody who chases them around trying to kill them (does that plot sound similar to Terminator?).  This simplicity actually adds to the quality of the film.  Trancers succeeds in taking some silly and unoriginal ideas and turns them into an enjoyable piece of entertainment.  I say entertainment since Trancers is somewhat lacking in the artistic merit department.

    To add some madness to the mayhem,  Jack has to face a rabid Santa Claus, a rabid diner waitress, a rabid surfer, and some rabid cops.  Whistler creates an army against Jack and Leena by trancing innocent civilians.  Trancing is a mind control technique, which forces Whistler's trancers to obey
    only his will.  Of course, being tranced looks just like being rabid to me.

    Jack's mission is basically to protect the life of Hap Ashby, a former pro baseball player who is now a homeless person.  But one of Ashby's descendants will be a major political leader in 2247.  Whistler wants to singe Ashby to keep his descendants from being born.  (Hmmm, that sounds familiar.)

    I won't spoil the ending for you, but I will say that everything is wrapped up and a few new twist are introduced.  In few films does the protagonist have to battle for his life against a candy cane wielding Santa Claus.  Yes, a scene like that actually works in this film.

    Trancers, however, has never received the critical acclaim it is due, if indeed it was due any.  When Time Magazine did a muli-page article on Helen Hunt some time back, however, it failed to mention Trancers as being among her film credits.  (Illuminati, conspiracy theory perhaps?)  Most critics have dismissed it as being an imitation of Bladerunner and Terminator. 

    It is not Bladerunner.  It is not Terminator.

    It is Trancers. 

    Oh by the way, Trancers went on to have six more sequels.  Six!  There was also a "lost" half hour sequel episode, Trancers:  City of Lost Angels,  set between the first two films.  It was released via fullmoonstreaming.com in September 2013.

    By the way if you haven't seen Trancers, and would like to partake in its majesty, you can find it on Veoh here.