Archive for the ‘drama’ Category

Mecha Scramble! – Macross Zero: Return to Zero

September 9, 2010

Welcome to the first in a new series we’re going to try out here on Grump Factory: Mecha Scramble! We’re fans of anime on this blog, and one of the enduring genres of the medium is mecha. What is mecha? Mecha is a Japanese term describing animation that focuses on robots (giant or otherwise) or complex machinery in general. Mecha is the place where mechanical designers are king! A good example of a mecha show is the original Mobile Suit Gundam; so iconic that it’s become as inextricable with Japanese pop culture as Star Wars or Star Trek is here in America!

But Gundam and all its myriad offspring shall be dealt with in due time. Today the focus is on the origins of another revered series: Macross. But not the original Super Dimensional Fortress Macross series, but the chronological origin story, Macross Zero! Macross has been mentioned before on this blog, but now it’s time to go back in time and uncover the shocking beginning of the Macross timeline!


Heavy Rain: You’re gonna carry that weight

March 3, 2010


God, where do I even begin. (The discussion below “spoils” the first hour or so of the game, so consider yourself duly warned.)


Grump Alert – LOST on Hulu

January 6, 2010

Just letting any interested parties out there know that the superb television series LOST is offering the past 5 seasons of full episodes on the streaming service Hulu. Why should you watch LOST? I think I’ve covered this before, but to sum it up: it’s some of the best, most creative suspense out there, with richly-drawn characters, a fantastic ensemble of actors and some truly stand-out scoring for a TV series. LOST is best consumed all at once, so hopefully those of you out there that have been sitting on the fence will use this as an opportunity to bone up on the show in anticipation of its final season in early February. Hope it hooks you like it hooked me!


Public Enemies – Michael Mann’s Romantic Ride

August 25, 2009

In my introduction I professed my complicated feelings for Michael Mann’s 2006 dud Miami Vice. It’s my misunderstood baby, to be endlessly defended against the world. There are few other critics who grant it affection while audiences yawned or failed to notice. Which is understandable. It doesn’t have a normal story structure, it doesn’t waste time with exposition or setting up characters’ origins or whatever. It plops you right in the middle of an undercover drama full of confusion, heartbreak and some of the biggest beards you’ll see outside of Spanish cinema. It’s not the big-budget action extravaganza it was marketed as, but a love story wrapped around guns, style and mood. It’s the movie I point at and say “That’s everything Michael Mann is known for.” People often refer to Heat, the decadent crime opera that influenced everything from Grand Theft Auto to The Dark Knight, as Mann’s masterpiece. Those people haven’t seen Miami Vice. If they have they probably hated it despite everything those two movies have in common – which is everything. You know how auteurs seem to do the same thing over and over in different ways?



(grumplet) Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince: SNOGGING

July 30, 2009

Anyone who talks to me about the Harry Potter movies or read my rant in the comments section for Magus’ grumplet about Order of the Phoenix knows that I had a venomous dislike for David Yates, the man who had been handed the keys to the Harry Potter kingdom. Here was a man with absolutely no experience directing a theatrical feature film, let alone a huge, effects-laden installment of one of the most lucrative franchises in the world. While that alone was not enough to damn him in my eyes, the dull, lifeless adaptation of Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix was. Not only had it left out certain crucial details that would become important in future installments, but it also seemed to have no regard for the heart of the book, Harry’s inner turmoil, and instead focused on soapbox political allegories and rah-rah student rebellion. While all of this was present and indeed a necessary part of the original work, it seemed like David Yates missed the point. It’s true that the absence of the screenwriter of the previous four films, Steve Clowes, couldn’t have helped things, but the amateurish direction by Yates missed the mark. And with the usual 150-minute runtime cut down to a brisk, 120 minutes, it seemed like Warner Bros. had found its perfect stooge for cranking out another Harry Potter installment on time and on budget under the studio’s thumb.

Inbetween the release of Order of the Phoenix and Half-Blood Prince, a couple things happened. Steve Clowes returned from his sabbatical to adapt the sixth installment, Yates was tapped by Warner Bros. to direct all following Harry Potter installments, beating out other hopefuls like Alfonso Cuarón, and the decision was made to cleave Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows in two so that proper respect could be paid to sending the series off (and, of course, to allow WB to milk their cash cow to the bitter end). My heart understandably sank. Not only was Cuarón, the director of my favorite installment of Harry Potter, not returning, but that Yates hack was getting the glory of finishing up the whole thing. C’est la vie, eh? It was with a heavy heart and extremely low expectations that I entered Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince, almost daring Yates to do his worst.

You must be very careful while entering a giant's anus, Harry...


(grumplet) Moon: One Small Step for Real Sci-Fi

July 23, 2009

You might remember me bemoaning the state of serious science fiction in my Virtuality post. (Which about as many people read as actually saw the program!) Wellllllll… in the back of my mind, I was looking forward to a movie that had been teased to me for the past six months: Moon. It premiered to generally good buzz at the big film festivals and of course it took forever for it to finally show in Kansas City. And hey, it has a Kevin Spacey A.I. and was directed by David Bowie’s son! So as soon as I was able to cajole my dad into paying for the tickets, off we were to the barren, lonely landscape of Moon.

Is this hip enough for you?!


Virtuality: Virtually Ignored

July 6, 2009

After the new Battlestar Galactica shuttered its doors earlier this year, it left a palpable hole on television where a serious, thoughtful science fiction series should be. Dollhouse is too uneven to fit the bill. LOST is too twisty, zany and soapy to match it, either. Fringe, as much as I enjoyed Season 1, is too mainstream and procedural. Where’s that hard-nosed space travel show I, and so many others, desperately need?!

Well, it seemed Ronald D. Moore’s fellow BSG and DS9 and alum, Michael Taylor, who was responsible for a DS9 episode “The Visitor,” one of the only episodes of television to ever make me cry, had his own ideas for a new series; one that would take the Star Trek staple of virtual reality and give it an edgy twist. And his take on things interested Ron Moore enough to attach his name to the project, practically assuring that someone at the major networks would also catch interest in it. After all, Moore spearheaded a universally critically-acclaimed series that, while never quite breaking out into a huge mainstream success, garnered a sizable cult following and a permanent place in geek culture. His next project could be the one to explode into the mainstream consciousness! Or it could be Virtuality.