Happy 45th Anniversary, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes!

Tonight we have seen the birth of the planet of the apes!

Oh, damn. It’s on now.

In the “far off future” of 1991, people now live in what looks to be an oppresssive, militaristic society. Law enforcement (dressed in the finest stormtrooper fashions) is visible on every street corner, and endless directives and warnings are issued from faceless announcers as the civilian populace goes about its daily affairs. What’s missing? Cats and dogs, all of which have died off as the result of a mysterious disease brought back from a space probe. This little bit of misfortune, of course, was foretold by chimpanzees Cornelius and Zira in the previous film, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, though it’s happened far more quickly than they indicated. So too has mankind’s desire to replace their little lost subservient quadrupeds, and they’ve turned to domesticating primates. By 1991, simians are a subclass; a slave race. However, is the collective intelligence of the apes on the rise?

Could be.

So, what happens? Add one intelligent, speaking chimpanzee to the mix–himself the offspring of Cornelius and Zira–to stir up some shit. Before you know it, the apes are pissed and they’re not gonna take it anymore, and so that’s humanity’s ass. Cue revolt.

Whoops.

Released on this date in 1972, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes brings almost full circle the story begun in 1968’s Planet of the Apes. This third sequel to that classic film shows–at least to some degree–what’s promised in its title and tagline. As for Conquest being “the most awesome spectacle in the annals of science fiction,” I think we all can agree this was a bit of overreach from the marketing folks (and, we all know that honor goes to Barbarella, right?).

By the time production kicked into gear on this, the fourth of the Apes films, the cycle of diminishing returns was firmly in place. With each successive movie earning less at the box office, budgets for the next one were reduced accordingly. Therefore, director J. Lee Thompson faced the challenge of convincingly depicting what turns out to be the genesis of the ape uprising hinted at in the previous film, the longterm effects of which are–of course–apparent in the first movie. And, he had to do it on a budget which probably wouldn’t cover the catering bill on a Michael Bay shoot. This was prequel-izing before prequel-izing was rampant, yo!

The first half of the film isn’t the most exciting cinema you’ll ever see, but there’s a deliberate “tightening of the screws” going on as we see Caesar coming to terms with the role of apes in modern society, and deciding that he ain’t playing that game. Once he learns of the death of his friend, Armando (Montalban) at the hands of government officials, watching him slowly yet firmly begin to push the apes around him toward dissent is, oddly enough, satisfying.

A larger budget might’ve allowed for more expansive scenes of turmoil once the apes lose their shit and start tearing up the joint. Still, considering what he was working with, director Thompson does a decent enough job injecting energy and tension into the scenes of ape rebellion which carry the film’s final act. Tight camera angles and deft editing manage–for the most part–to mask the production’s sparse budget, while strong performances from Ricardo Montalban, Don Murray, Severn Darden, Hari Rhodes, and Natalie Trundy (as the chimpanzee Lisa, her third different role in three consecutive Apes outings) help to elevate the material a notch or two above the previous two sequels.

Conquest-CaesarBut, again, it’s Roddy McDowall who carries the film on his stooping shoulders. Starting out as a supporting role in the original Planet of the Apes before moving to top billing in Escape (another actor, David Watson, portrayed Cornelius in the first sequel, Beneath the Planet of the Apes), he dons the ape makeup here for a third time, but for the first time as “Caesar,” the son of Cornelius. As usual, McDowall brings a warmth and–dare we say it–“humanity” to the role, which is sort of important now, as by this point in the series we’re all firmly rooting for the apes to kick humanity right in its collective taint. He would reprise the role of Caesar in the fifth and final of the original films, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, before going on to play yet another chimpanzee, Galen, in the 1974 live-action Planet of the Apes television series.

Moving past the original Planet of the Apes, which (so far as I’m concerned) stands apart from everything which came after it, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes is actually my favorite of the Apes sequels. Like a lot of folks, I’ve always wanted to see what comes next. Obviously, we know what ultimately happens, but that still leaves plenty of room for a whole assload of stories set between the events of this film and the next one. Some of that territory has been explored, mostly in comics published by three different companies in sporadic fashion over the past 40-odd years.

And, lest we forget, it’s Conquest that provided much inspiration for the recent reboot Apes films: 2011’s Rise of the Planet of the ApesDawn of the Planet of the Apes from 2014, and War for the Planet of the Apes, which opens on July 14th. Indeed, you can also see more than a bit of Battle DNA in the latter two filmsespecially War, if the trailers are to be believed.

Happy 45th, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes.

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Your Moment of TrekZen*.

Because it’s better to have a bamboo cannon and not need it, than to need it and not have one.

Just sayin’.

in-case-of-gorn

(* = inspired by the “Your Moment of Zen” segments from The Daily Show)

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Happy 30th Anniversary, Full Metal Jacket!

If you ladies leave my island…if you survive recruit training…then you will be a weapon. You will be a Minister of Death, praying for war. But until that day, you are pukes. You are the lowest form of life on Earth. You are not even human-fucking-beings! You are nothing but unorganized grab-asstic pieces of amphibian shit!

Those were the days, eh?

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Holy dog shit, Private Joker! It’s been 30 years since the debut of Stanley Kubrick’s war epic. Based on The Short-Timers, a 1979 semi-autobiographical novel written by former Marine and Vietnam veteran Gustav Hasford, Full Metal Jacket chronicles the journey of young James Davis (later to be known as “Joker”) from Marine Corps recruit training in 1967 to his eventual posting to Vietnam. Before he can graduate boot camp, however, he has to get past hard-assed drill instructor Gunnery Sergeant Hartman. Following training and stationed in Vietnam as a combat correspondent for the Stars & Stripes newspaper, Joker comes face to face with the horrors of war as he endures the Tet Offensive, including the tumultuous, costly battle for Hue City in January 1968.

(Hasford would later pen a sequel to The Short-Timers, 1990’s The Phantom Blooper, which continued to chronicle Joker’s experiences in Vietnam. It was the second book in a planned trilogy, but Hasford died before that ever came to fruition.)

ermeyMost people’s knowledge of Full Metal Jacket comes from the oft-repeated and parodied quotes from Gunnny Hartman, played to complete, bang-on perfection by R. Lee Ermey. Originally hired by Kubrick to be the film’s military technical advisor, Ermey, himself a Vietnam vet and former drill instructor, convinced the director to hire him for the pivotal role of Hartman. His experience as a “Hat” allowed him to craft page after page of pitch-perfect dialogue, and his performance lends an authenticity to the boot camp scenes comprising the film’s first half which–for my money, anyway–have yet to be surpassed.

The film’s opening scene, with Hartman “introducing himself” to the platoon of terrified recruits, is an unrivaled classic, and Ermey walks away with every scene he’s in. Even Ermey himself has parodied this role in other projects, such as commercials and when he portrayed “Sergeant Major Bougus,” an instructor for the United States Marine Corps Space Aviator Cavalry in the short-lived SF series Space: Above and Beyond.

Hartman and Matthew Modine (as Joker) are joined by a stellar cast, including Vincent D’Onofrio as the troubled “Private Pyle,” Adam Baldwin, Ed O’Ross, John Terry, Dorian Harewood, Arliss Howard as “Cowboy” and Kevyn Major Howard as Joker’s travel companion, “Rafterman.”

Whereas the original novel unfolds over three distinct sections–one each for boot camp, the Tet Offensive and a later mission to Khe Sanh–Kubrick, working alongside writer Michael Herr (with input from Hasford, for which he received joint screenplay credit…and is apparently a story all its own), compresses and reworks events from the book’s latter two sections to create the film’s second half. In contrast, the “boot camp half” of the movie is expanded from what is the novel’s shortest section. There are changes to several character names, and Hartman’s role (“Gerheim” in the book) also is given more attention, likely owing to Ermey’s presence and performance.

The movie has always received mixed to positive reviews, with many praising the boot camp portion while taking issue with the Vietnam half. Personally, I’ve come to appreciate the tonal shift between the two halves while appreciating the common thread they share: dehumanization of one’s self and one’s enemy in order to conduct the nasty business of war.

Full Metal Jacket is a powerful, visceral film, easily one of the best war movies ever made. It’s not “pro” or “anti” war, though elements of both can be found. At the end of it all, it’s just “about” war…the cold, brutal, shitty reality of war, and how it transforms–on any number of levels–those who fight.

“Is that you, John Wayne? Is this me?”

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Happy 35th Anniversary, Blade Runner *AND* The Thing!

That’s right, movie fans! It’s a double dose of Geek Movie Milestone Goodness!

1982 is arguably one of the best summers ever so far as awesome movie releases goes, and two reasons for that are right here. 35 years ago today, a pair of iconic entries in science fiction film debuted on the silver screen, each going a long way toward redefining the genre in their own ways….

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Blade Runner — adapted in rather liberal form from Philip K. Dick’s seminal novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep? — influenced…what…the look of every other near and/or dystopian SF film since then? Yeah, pretty much. Ridley Scott, having already dabbled a bit in the genre with that little flick you might know, Alien, brought Harrison Ford out from under the shadow of the Millenium Falcon and Indiana Jones’ fedora long enough to have him play what would become yet another iconic role: Rick Deckard, the “blade runner” charged with finding and neutralizing renegade androids (“replicants”) in 2019 Los Angeles. The film’s production design established a benchmark which has yet to be surpassed, for whatever the hell my opinion’s worth. The movie was not an easy sell to American audiences, but has gone on to take its rightful place as a true classic.

Meanwhile, John Carpenter’s The Thing — less a remake of 1951’s The Thing from Another World than a new adaptation of John W. Campbell’s 1938 novella Who Goes There? — helped remind audiences that the SF film realm could definitely be one which might scare the shit out of us if it was done correctly. It was a welcome respite from the scads of Alien knock-offs to which we’d been subjected by that point.

I didn’t get to see either of these movies in the theater, for different reasons. Blade Runner, at that time, didn’t appeal to me, whereas theater ushers were being very conscientious about keeping underage delinquents like me and my friends from sneaking into screenings of The Thing (Damn, those “R” ratings.). I watched both on home video (VHS!) later, and I fell in love with Blade Runner on the spot. It’s a smart, layered film, in which you can always find something new to appreciate.

(Of course, the 57 different versions of the movie which have been released over the years help with that.)

As for The Thing, it was and remains a tight little monster movie. The 2011 prequel did little for me, besides demonstrating that Carpenter’s movie can hold its own without such skirt-hanging claptrap. That doesn’t mean we won’t see some form of sequel or reboot in the not too distant future.

Elsewhere, the world of Blade Runner has been revisited in prose, in the form of a trio of novels penned by science fiction author K.W. Jeter. Later this year, the long gestating Blade Runner 2049 will hit movie screens, starring Ryan Gosling and featuring Harrison Ford as Deckard.

For now, though? Spin up this double bill.

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Comic-Con Professional Badge: The Unboxening!

The first few times I attended San Diego Comic-Con as a professional, the process of obtaining your “professional credentials” was straightforward, albeit soul-killing. Even for the years I don’t go, I always register for my badge, anyway, as it’s usually a late decision about attending, and I don’t want to get left tapping on the glass because I missed the registration/verification window.

After completing the verification process which requires hopeful attendees to fill out a few forms, and submit proof of their status as professional writers, artists, or other creators, you’d receive a letter letting you know you’d been approved, and a badge would be waiting for you at the con. All you had to do was survive the gauntlet of crowds, lines, and other obstacles until you fought your way to one of the people who would give you your badge, along with a few other goodies like a lanyard, program guide, ginormous swag bag, and so on.

In recent years, the con has taken steps to streamline this process so that it moves more quickly and efficiently for everyone involved (yes, including the recipients of said badges). The last couple of years, after the verification and registration process is completed online, credentials were mailed a few weeks before the con, in a nondescript envelope.

This year, it seems the con is stepping up their game yet again. Apparently dissatisfied with the simple envelope approach, now the receipt of one’s professional con credentials is a bit of an event!

It starts with the plain packing envelope that arrived in my mailbox, and the opening of said envelope which reveals this little package contained therein:

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Pretty classy, I have to admit. This isn’t some cheap, fragile box, either. I’m moderately convinced I might be able to use this thing as an improvised weapon in one of those crazy Jason Bourne fight scenes where he uses books, pens, and whatever else he can find.

Anyway, I can hear some of you yelling, “What’s in the box?!?” Flipping up the box’s lid reveals the juicy contents:

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Yep! Right on top, there’s my badge, sans lanyard. It seems that I’m still going to have to wait in line for that, the program guide, swag bag, and other stuff, but at least now it’s more of an assembly line process where you just grab and go, etc.

But wait! There’s more! Beneath the badge, lies other goodies:

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Actually, aside from the cute little pin, the main thing in there is a small checklist/FAQ-type doc, that can be helpful if you’re new to the con and dealing with the information overload you’re going to experience upon setting foot inside the con for the first time.

Pretty snazzy, Comic-Con. Pretty snazzy, indeed.

 

Posted in comic-con, cons, fandom, nerdity | 2 Comments

Yes, this thing still works.

Blog-On-Off

I figure (read: “desperately hope”) there’s at least a couple of you out there wondering where I’ve been or what I’ve been doing the last week or so.

The answer is that I’ve been bussssssssssssssssssssy. There are several things in the hopper at the moment, almost all of which fall into the category of “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet.”

I was motoring along at a somewhat leisurely pace for a bit there, enjoying the first few weeks of my kids’ summer vacation, but then several things kicked into gear in rapid succession. On the home front, both kids are attending “summer learning” programs at school. Unlike “summer school” from back in my day, which you attended because your dumb ass flunked a class during the regular school year, this is a completely different kind of thing. For one, the kids volunteer to go, and the classes they attend are fun. Oldest daughter is taking a computer animation class, while youngest is doing one about animal sciences. How cool are those? So, it’s like summer/day camp, but I don’t have to pay for it because it’s offered by the school system (which I kinda sorta already pay for, anyway). Of course, the classes are at two different schools with different start/release times, so I’m running around town in the morning and afternoon doing my best Uber driver impression.

The kids are also on the neighborhood swim team again, this year. This requires them to be at practice a few times a week, and then there’s the weekly swim meets against other neighborhood teams every Wednesday evening throughout June and part of July. The Wednesdays are a 4-5 hour commitment, plus we parents volunteer to help with various things that need doing during the evening. I usually serve as one of the lane timers, for example, with my little stopwatch and clipboard, while Michi helps up front with registration, entering stats, or serving as a runner. When we started this last year I didn’t think I’d enjoy any of it, but it’s been a lot of fun, due in no small part to friends who also have daughters in the program, and with whom we hang during all of this.

(Note: It’s possible that an adult beverage or two may be present at these events. YMMV.)

Youngest daughter had a Taekwondo promotion this past Saturday. It was a midterm promotion for her, and she now has about half of the midterm stars she needs before she can even be considered for testing to earn her Third Degree black belt. She’s taking the rest of the summer off to enjoy swim team and the rest of her vacation before school starts back up, and  then she’ll get back to it. Oldest daughter, also a Second Degree, is taking a hiatus of her own. 

Work wise, things are maintaining pace in the “busy” lane but threatening to swerve into “insane.” As I write this, I have three…count them, three… projects all with deadlines in the next 45-60 days. One was something I was already scheduled to start working on after finishing the previous novel manuscript, and the other two came largely out of nowhere. Both are things I really, really want to do, and each has the potential to lead to more work in their respective realms, so hell yeah I signed on. By themselves, none of them is something that would be in danger of missing its respective deadline, and in truth all are of a size that I can manage together with proper time management and discipline.

(Insert joke about my being doomed here.)

What are these new things? Well, as you may have already guessed, all of them fall under the aforementioned “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet” category. Stay tuned for details as I’m given the green light to start blabbing.

Oh, and that novel manuscript I mentioned in passing a few paragraphs ago? The one I turned in on May 22nd? Yeah, I’ve heard back from my editor and the licensor and there will be some rework involved. Nothing too demanding (at least, the way I see it), but requiring more time than I’m able to give it at this precise moment. Thankfully, all parties are sympathetic to my plight, and I’m doing whatever I can to shuffle things around on my calendar so that I can return my updated manuscript sooner rather than later. Luckily, we have a bit of maneuvering room, here, but that doesn’t mean I want this thing to linger any longer than absolutely necessary. Oh, what’s it about? Again, “Things I Can’t Really Talk About…At Least Not Yet.” Sorry. 🙂

As for things I can talk about? Let’s see….today, I’m wrapping up a piece for Modiphius, to be used as part of the communications stream between game developers and players for their upcoming Star Trek Adventures role playing game. Once that’s done, I’m putting the final polish on a guest blog piece that will run in conjunction with the soon-to-be released Hidden Universe Travel Guides – Star Trek: The Klingon Empire from Insight Editions. Like the book itself, I’m writing this piece to be “in character” as though submitted by the same people who write the guides. We’ll see if anyone else thinks I’m as clever or funny as I apparently think I am. Once these are out of the way, I’ll be getting started in earnest on the Three Big Things.

It’s nice to be busy.

evil-dayton

So, enough about me. What’s up with you?

Posted in family, life, modiphius, ramblings, trek, writing | 3 Comments

Hey! It’s Captain Picard Day!

Today, June 16th, is “Captain Picard Day.” What, you didn’t know this? Shame on you.

That’s right, today we pause to recognize the life and accomplishments of Jean-Luc Picard: captain extraordinaire, explorer, diplomat, tea connoisseur, and 24th century renaissance man.

So, you know…make it so, and all that.


Of course, all he wants is to sit in the sun and read his book. Alone. Afterward? He really hasn’t thought that far ahead.

Posted in nerdity, trek | 4 Comments

Happy 50th Anniversary, The Dirty Dozen!

You will select twelve general prisoners convicted and sentenced to death or long terms of imprisonment for murder, rape, robbery, and/or other crimes of violence and so forth, and train and qualify these prisoners in as much of the business of behind-the-lines operations as they can absorb for a brief but unspecified time. You will then deliver them secretly into the European mainland and, just prior to the invasion, attack and destroy the target specified.

Major John Reisman just got dealt a shit sandwich, eh?

C’mon. Everybody knows this movie, right? It’s 1944: Lee Marvin is Reisman, tasked by his C.O. (Ernest Borgnine) to recruit a dozen ne’er do wells and train them up for a top secret insertion behind enemy lines on the eve of the D-Day invasion. What’s the target? A French chateau known to be a hot gathering spot for high-ranking German officers and their “companions.” The mission? Blow the fuck out of that place, kill every German big-wig they can find, and get out of Dodge.

Simple, right?

Endlessly imitated or just flat-out ripped off, The Dirty Dozen remains one of the most popular war films of all time. It’s based on the 1965 novel of the same name written by E.M. Nathanson (who would write a sequel, A Dirty Distant War, two decades later), and retains most of the book’s plot. The storyline is pretty simple, moving along from the selection of the prisoners to their training and the eventual parachute drop into France in mostly straightforward fashion. The training period provides the backdrop for much of the film’s humor, from the construction of their camp to the learning of the various skills they must master before being sent into action. There’s a diversion to a parachute training base commanded by an adversary of Reisman’s that’s mined for laughs, and which also sets into motion the sequence of events whereby Reisman is able to convince a skeptical leadership that his “dirty dozen” can hold their own even against spit-and-polish troops.

Most of the characters from the novel are there, as well, though a few are changed or tweaked in order to give the cast of convicts “flavor.” Filling out the ranks of the criminals Reisman selects for his team are such notable faces as Charles Bronson, Robert Ryan, Jim Brown, Donald Sutherland, Telly Savalas, Clint Walker and, of course, John Cassavetes as Franko (or, Number 11, if you prefer). Along with Borgnine, George Kennedy and Richard Jaekel also provide memorable supporting performances, but even with all this star power, it’s Lee Marvin as the non-conformist Reisman who helps bring the whole thing together.

But, does the mission succeed? Well, watch the flick, dagnabbit. Even after 50 years, this baby still holds up. For me, I love to double-feature it with one of my other favorites, The Great Escape.

When it was first released, the movie took a lot of heat from reviewers for its on-screen violence. Tame by today’s standards, it was pretty brutal for 1967. There also was some criticism as to the unrealistic nature of taking prisoners and training them for such an important mission. Hey, it’s a movie, right?

In addition to the sequel to the original novel Nathanson wrote in 1987, there also was a made-for-TV movie sequel to the film, The Dirty Dozen: Next Mission, released in 1985 and with Marvin, Borgnine, and Jaekel reprising their roles. As the events of the telefilm–centering on preventing a Nazi plot to kill Hitler–supposedly take place mere months after D-Day, actors who are nearly 20 years older than when we last saw them playing these characters is pretty weird. It’s weak…very weak, when compared to the original, but it’s still better than what would follow.

Borgnine would portray his character in two subsequent TV movies, The Dirty Dozen: The Deadly Mission in 1987 and The Dirty Dozen: The Fatal Mission in 1988. As if that wasn’t enough, there also was a short-lived TV series inspired by the original film, with Ben Murphy playing a different Army officer given the shaft the assignment to lead “unconventional” soldiers on special missions. The less said about any of the sequels, the better. For all of us.

Meanwhile, there’s still the original flick, always watchable. Give it a spin, whydontcha?

Posted in movies, tributes | 1 Comment

Happy 30th Anniversary, Predator!

So, what happens when you’re a special operations unit called in to rescue the crew of a downed helicopter that’s been taken hostage by guerillas in a Central American country you’re not supposed to be in, anyway? Even on a good day, that kind of mission likely would have its share of pitfalls, right?

Toss in an irritable alien hunter from a distant planet who carries an assload of advanced weaponry and other sweet gadgets, including a tactical nuke strapped to its wrist?

Well, now it’s a party.

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One of Arnold Schwarzenegger’s numerous contributions to the movie screens of the 1980s, the original Predator arguably is his best macho-flick aside from the first two Terminator films. Released on this date in 1987, Predator made no bones about what it was supposed to be: a stripped-down testosterone-fueled action fest stuffed to the brim with hard-core dudes shooting the hell out of everyone and everything, including that aforementioned irritable alien hunter from a distant planet. Said alien is here for a little safari of sorts, attracted to the heat of the Central American jungle and the promise of an exhilarating pursuit of worthy prey. It’s Richard Connell’s “The Most Dangerous Game” amp’d up to the max, with maybe even a touch of homage to Kirk and the Gorn for flavor.

The film is directed by John McTiernan, soon to be the man who would provide the action movie genre with what remains its benchmark (that would be the original Die Hard, for those who don’t know…and why don’t you?). McTiernan takes the script from writers Jim and John Thomas and goes delightfully nuts with it. It begins as a standard adventure story with Schwarzenegger as “Dutch Schaefer” and his team of crack soldiers sneaking around behind enemy lines. Why? They’ve been sent into the bush by CIA agent/lying douchebag “Dillon” (played by always-cool Carl Weathers) to find the hostages and get the hell out of town before more guerillas get wise to their shenanigans.

The team takes out the guerilla camp where the last of the helicopter crew has just been executed, and douchebag Dillon plunders all the wonderful intel to be found…too bad/so sad about the hostages, and so on. They also take prisoner a female companion/sympathizer/etc., Anna, who ends up being along pretty much just so she can tell the guys with guns that they’re all about to have their day ruined. That’s when things take an abrupt left turn toward science fiction and horror as Dutch and his men–played by the likes of Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke (who previously worked with Arnie in Commando), Richard Chaves (the War of the Worlds TV series) and Sonny Landham (48 Hrs.)–suddenly find themselves turned from hunters to hunted. One by one, they’re picked off by their enigmatic, invisible enemy until it’s just Dutch and the alien facing off mano-a-whateverthefucko for all the marbles.

Simple, yet satisfying. This movie rocks balls, people.

There’s very little fat on this thing, that’s for sure. It starts getting into gear almost before the damned credits are done rolling, and kicks it up a notch when Arnie and the boys start taking down bad guys left and right. A couple of the stunts during the hammering of the guerillas smack a bit of “We just did this last week on The A-Team,” but they’re forgiven when Jesse Ventura utters what will become one of the all-time great manly-man action flick lines: “I ain’t got time to bleed.”

The Predator itself, designed by make-up and FX genius Stan Winston and portrayed by Kevin Peter Hall, is the first alien-looking alien to come to the silver screen in a while. It looks like the sort of dude who’d skull-fuck E.T. before ripping off his head and shitting down its neck, then tossing a quarter into the open wound for the phone call home. Composer Alan Silvestri, yet to establish himself as a go-to guy for action film scores yet still riding high after his stint on Back to the Future, knocks it out of the park with his music for the film. McTiernan’s direction coupled with lean, mean editing is so effective you almost want to start sweating along with Dutch and the gang as they traverse the thick, humid jungle. Everything about this movie is fine-tuned to the umpteenth degree, barely giving you a chance to catch your breath even during the supposed “quiet” scenes between action segments.

Predator, despite initial mixed reviews–most of those taking it to task for its admittedly thin-as-tissue-paper plot–has managed to acquire a place of stature among the classic action films. It was followed by a serviceable sequel, Predator 2, in 1990, a “better in theory than execution” crossover, Alien vs. Predator in 2004 (which in turn received its own ill-advised horrific followup in 2007), and a second all-but pointless sequel, Predators in 2010. Predators of all shapes and sizes have also factored prominently in comics, novels, and games over the years, including more than a few crossovers with the Alien franchise as well as numerous other properties. As I write this, a new film, The Predator, is in development for a 2018 release. It’s either a sequel or a remake/reboot/re-imagining/whatever, depending on which source you want to go with.

Unless or until said sequel/remake/reboot/sequel/whatever comes around, you’re better off sticking with this–the first and still the best–Predator.

Happy 30th, yo. You’re still one ugly mother fucker, but we love you.

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Talking Hearts and Minds with Literary Treks!

hearts-and-minds-coverFor reasons that defy understanding, people like talking to me. On occasion, they even record my yammerings so that other people can then listen to them. It’s a weird thing, I tell you.

This time, I slide up to a microphone long enough to talk with Dan Gunther and Bruce Gibson, hosts of Trek.fm‘s Literary Treks podcast, where they talk all about all the latest happenings in the world of Star Trek novels and comics. As luck would have it, we were able to talk a bit about my recently released Star Trek: The Next Generation novel, Hearts and Minds.

We talk about the story’s origins, both as a NextGen tale as well as a sequel to my previous novels From History’s Shadow and Elusive Salvation. Among the discussions highlights are some of the parallels I draw to other event from “Star Trek history” as well as how the “Majestic 12” organization that features in all three books may or may not be an ancestor to what eventually becomes Section 31 from Star Trek: Deep Space Nine and Star Trek: Enterprise.

NOTE: For those who might be thinking of listening to this podcast before finishing the novel, please be aware that spoiler discussion is all over the place here.

We also cover a bit of ground about the upcoming Klingon Travel Guide as well as other projects I’ve got going on. Here’s hoping you enjoy the conversation, as the Literary Treks gang is always fun to hang with.

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Literary Treks #193: “Dayton’s Treks”

Thanks as always to Dan and Bruce for having me back on the show. I’m guessing it won’t be took long before I’m darkening their studio doorway again. 🙂

Posted in books, interviews, podcasts, trek, writing | Leave a comment