What I'm Watching: More of Love Death Robots

Apparently Netflix is doing 4 different ep orders, they say it's completely at random, though some people think it's based on gender, sexuality, age, etc. What horoscope does my robot show order reveal? Humans are idiots.

The Dump: Joe Lansdale story of a weird dump thing, videogamey CGI of of slime & trash, quick and obvious, but amusing. Not shown: Fuel-air bombing of the dump after missing persons are tracked there. ★★★½☆

Shape-Shifters: Military werewolves, realistic CGI, clearly the next Call of Duty game. Too much werewolf dick. The transformed state isn't as convincing as the Human. But not bad at the personalities and how shitty the military is. Author's Marko Kloos, a military fanfic writer. ★★★☆☆

Helping Hand: This is perfectly designed to piss me off (or any educated person). As anyone who's ever seen a spacewalk knows, astronauts don't work without a tether and a tight grip on their ship or station. It just does not happen. That was bullshit in Gravity, with idiots flying around on 5-minutes-of-fuel maneuvering packs that haven't been used since the '80s, and it's bullshit here, too. Dumb astronaut—again like Gravity a woman, which is so insulting to Peggy Whitson and other skilled woman astronauts—is knocked off station by space junk. I don't buy a cheap company sending out a lone astronaut, either: Launch cost for an extra body isn't much compared to a whole ship. And then her first solution is dumb, maybe 1kg of reaction mass thrown half-assed overhand won't move a 50kg body anywhere. Her second solution is even dumber—in reality, heat radiates away from a body very poorly in a vacuum. THAT'S HOW A THERMOS WORKS! YOU INCOMPETENT FUCK WRITER! Vacuum of space will chill you eventually, especially if you touch cold metal or regolith, but a floating body won't freeze solid for days. ☆☆☆☆☆ Claudine Griggs, hack "sexual politics" writer, I hate you and want you to get an education and then die of shame at your stupidity.

Fish Night: Interesting look, motion-captured CGI but so cel-shaded it looks hand-drawn. Probably took 10x as much time and money as simple rotoscoping and hand-drawing would've. Alas, I care nothing for the characters or the situation. Stop talking and start doing. Hunter & Dr Gonzo had "The drugs took hold around Barstow, on the edge of the desert", too, but then they did shit. Supposedly another Joe Lansdale story, but it's just nothing but a screensaver. ★★☆☆☆

Lucky 13: More Call of Duty, now in a space dropship but carrying Marines to terraforming stations on some planet. And the writer keeps calling the Marines "Soldiers" which at least modern ones don't like much. Love affair of a pilot and her dropship (AI? Maybe. It never speaks, but gets a camera POV.) is nice, and the dogfight videogame sequences are fine. It's not clear who the enemy are supposed to be, they're just as well-equipped, so are they a rival nation of Humans? Why would anyone bother shipping military to space to fight over an uninhabitable rock? Stupid premise, unexamined. Author's Marko Kloos again. ★★★☆☆

Zima Blue: Another Alastair Reynolds adaptation! Perfectly animated and told. The joke of Zima the beverage is a little weird against a serious story. The theme of transforming and abandoning unneeded complications is done several times in Reynolds (Diamond Dogs is another), but here is the best of those. ★★★★★

Blindspot: Mad Max/Jayce and the Wheeled Warriors/GI Joe do a train job with no planning, and get hosed down amusingly for it. All the nonsensical robot-on-robot violence we grew up with, but more swearing. Fuck yeah! Vitaly Shushko makes more of these ridiculous animations, too. ★★★★☆

Ice Age: A very light microscopic civilization take by Michael Swanwick (Vacuum Flowers!). Almost too silly to publish, the characters are utterly passive, but cute graphics for the micros. ★★★☆☆

Alternate Histories: Multiple ways for Hitler to die and consequences. Trivial, and I hate the stick-figure art, but amusing. Surprisingly by John Scalzi, who managed to make several actual jokes in a row! Maybe he wrote this before the brain injury that made him a humorless Internet troll. But it's about Nazis, so it gets no score according to Godwin's Law. He should have done the Lincoln one instead.

The Secret War: More Call of Duty with Soviets in fur coats in the snow during WWII, hunting monsters. And a story of making monsters, and the futility of being right in the Soviet Union. The monsters look like crap, almost literally, like the Xen in Half-Life. Written by David W. Amendola, another military fiction/horror writer. ★★★☆☆

Fin and Philosophy

And that's it for this season! More dumb combat and horror than robots in this half, and I do not appreciate that.

When I say "Call of Duty", that's not a compliment, I think the lowest form of Human slime make and play these mass murder simulators, and stories which are just "then I shoot everything wooo!" are by and for morons.

I have no objection to monster-killing if it illuminates something in a story, or in games if it's a drain on strategic resources (tactical RPGs with HP, MP, and gear to keep an eye on, and that's why my games are bright and happy AND bone-crushingly hard), but otherwise you leave those monsters alone, it's their world and you're just a morsel in it. Compare especially Beyond the Aquila Rift, where there are no "monsters" but these Call of Duty fuckheads would see one.

Total ratings are not bad, Scalzi and that incompetent Hand ep are all that's really bringing it down, but that glut of mediocre military content is hard to wade thru.

☆☆☆☆☆ 2
★☆☆☆☆ 1
★★☆☆☆ 1
★★★☆☆ 7
★★★★☆ 5
★★★★★ 2

What I'm Watching: Love Death Robots

Anthology series of adult SF cartoons, produced by David Fincher and Tim Miller (Deadpool director). Which is like Netflix said "hey, Mark, we made a thing exactly for you!" I <3 you too, Netflix!

18 episodes, I watched 8 so far, will see the rest next binge.

Sonnie's Edge: I instantly recognized this, but couldn't place it—how could I have seen it already? Impossible! Turns out it's adapted from a short story in Peter F. Hamilton's A Second Chance at Eden. What's weird is I remember it visually, where most of my SF reading I remember as text/lore with a few mental illustrations. Nicely animated 3D, a little bit videogamey and exaggerated. I already knew the twist but I don't think it's hard to figure out. ★★★★★

Three Robots: Walker, tiny walker, and weird pyramid robot explore a ruined city and talk too much. Despite withering contempt for Humans (which is entirely deserved), they don't have enough intelligence to avoid a trap. Meh, I don't like cats much, but people infected with Toxoplasma gondii will find this hilarious. CGI is adequate. Ah, it's a short story by John Scalzi, "Three Robots Experience Objects Left Behind from the Era of Humans for the First Time", which is why it feels like obvious jokes driven into the ground by a humorless boot. ★★★☆☆

The Witness: Rear Window/Run Lola Run with a stripper. Characters look like painted dolls, unfocused "camera" like an Italian giallo flick. Striptease could be erotic if they weren't so toy-like. Neatly tied up plot, nonsense surrealism but I like it. Alberto Mielgo has a number of other good animations and paintings. ★★★★½

Suits: Farmers in mecha fighting bugs. Weird 3D with cel-shading to look like a cartoon or plastic toys. This is pretty much daily life in Rifts, they even call the bugs "DeeBees" (dimensional beings in Rifts, no definition given here but maybe Damn Bugs?). Decent combat story, a little personality for the farmers, but not deep. ★★★½☆

Sucker of Souls: Archaeology/adventurer team explore a tomb and are not alone. Hand-animated mostly, I think they had to have traced over 3D in several places. Very aesthetically similar to Castlevania. Not much plot, and no chance of further adventures, but I like the team. Written by Kirsten Cross, who writes hack military-horror shovelware books; short form clearly suits her "talents" better. ★★★★☆

When the Yogurt[sic] Took Over: John Scalzi's shitty parody knockoff of Greg Bear's superb Blood Music, adapted into weird stick-figure and frizzy-hair CGI blobs, narrated ("tell, don't show") by The Brain^W Maurice LaMarche. Sadly no relation to The Stuff, which had a better plot, actors, and special effects. Fucking awful, everyone involved should be drowned in yoghurt. ★☆☆☆☆

Beyond the Aquila Rift: Short story from Alastair Reynolds! Spaceship has a bad wormhole jump/technobabble, ends up somewhere wrong, greeted by a person who shouldn't be there. Music is excessively on-the-nose. CGI is detailed but videogamey, and the space scenes look right out of some space shooter. ★★★★☆

Good Hunting: An evil man and his stupid son hunt a beautiful Hulijing (Chinese Kitsune), tragedy ensues. Then becomes a weird steampunk thing in Hong Kong. Then a superhero origin story? Hand-animated, good fighting motion, but very flat, I don't like the style. Based on a short story by Ken Liu ★★★☆☆

The Boys are Back in Town

Coming sometime this year. I'm more than cautiously optimistic, given this. The Frenchman, the Female, and Mother's Milk look great; I'm not keen on their Wee Hughie or Billy Butcher but you can tell who they are, they're not obviously embarrassing like the Powers adaptation. Hopefully all of them can act the part. The few action scenes in the trailer look great, the slutty, trashy lifestyles of the rich and superpowered look right.

They've replaced Jack from Jupiter with an invisible man; and/or a tracksuit that stands up by itself. Which really isn't much of a downgrade from Jack, the whiniest and least useful of The Seven. Hm. Though Jack can fly, which is important at a couple points.

The Boys TV-The Seven

The Boys TV-The Boys

The Boys is the cure for taking superheroes as magical demigods. Garth Ennis asks, "What if people had superpowers? What if a corporation could make more of them? What would they be like?" And you know what the answer is. They're people, they would be terrible.

So, the CIA funds a group of counter-superheroes. They get a little power, but not much. They use dirty tricks and crime and scams to keep the supers from getting out of control, and killing more people. And even then, what kind of people do you recruit for such a job? Not our best and brightest, but damaged people who have a reason to fight these fuckers in spandex.

The Boys-G-Men

What I'm Watching: Carmen Sandiego

Remember "Batman: The Animated Series" from '92, the super art deco film noir one? And Erin Esurance? This is that, but in red.

The art and action animation are nicely done. It never has high detail, and sometimes smooth art deco looks too much like paper cutouts, but if you like this kind of thing, it works.

Opens with an annoying detective Chase with an outrasheous fronsh aaacksent by way of Monty Python, Julia a little lesbian cop with an iPad, "Red" running on rooftops, and "Player" (now her sidekick instead of the antagonist like in the games), a hikikomori otaku nerd who plays Control over a radio like Theora in Max Headroom.

Carmen's a running, jumping, grappling-hook-shooting superhero (antihero, but not really that anti-), which I'd chalk up to cartoon physics except Chase is merely human, risks a broken neck trying a rooftop chase. The other pro thieves also have amazing powers and advanced tech, which always makes me wonder why they don't start businesses to sell this tech instead of committing crimes.

However, then they start having dialogue and flashbacks, and the show grinds to a halt. The writing is stiff and formal, everyone clearly enunciates in silly accents, then LOOOOONG pauses between lines. Howard Hawks, where are you when we need you for some talking-over witty banter?! Well, long-dead, just like my patience with this fucking monologue they're STILL doing since I started writing this paragraph.

Of course everyone is obsessed with their tiny glass rectangles now, and can't imagine a world where anyone isn't. Would it be too much to ask for non-phone-based tech? I miss the videogames' insistence that everywhere is in reach of a home computer or phone booth.

Eventually her Thief School (oh no) cohort become Graham Crackle, Le Chevre (goat cheese), El Topo (the Jodorowsky film?), Tigress (clearly a fursuited camwhore), and Mime Bomb (horrific).

So, uh, there's a gem, the Eye of Vishnu. And we first see this dug up in Morocco. Which is, what, 6000 miles west of anyone who has ever worshipped Vishnu?! WHAT THE FUCK, SHOW. You have one job, which is to teach geography & history, and this is a failing grade.

The final caper in the school is not bad, though, and sets up her nom de guerre, costume, and a long-term goal for the series.

Started to watch a third ep, but the whinging ginger driver annoyed me so I stopped for now.

★★★½☆

Hell no boy

I love the Hellboy and BPRD comics, the novels, and somewhat the two Del Toro movies; the second one is much closer to the comics than the first. So this drops:

No Del Toro or Ron Perlman.

The makeup on David Harbour (drunk loser sheriff from Stranger Things) prevents him from using his face, which he can't anyway, or speaking clearly. They should hire Ron Perlman to dub in his voice, like James Earl Jones did over David Prowse. Harbour's mouth full of oatmeal sound is unacceptable.

Billy Idol's fun, but is completely inappropriate in tone for Hellboy, which is Brothers Grimm seen through a Lovecraftian lens. Maybe go Celtic and have Faith & the Muse, or Nightwish. This is bullshit.

I've seen a couple of Neil Marshall's movies: The Descent and Dog Soldiers. Both are good B-grade horror, on cheaper than nothing budgets, mostly single shaky-cam following about 4 amateur actors through a dark wilderness; his other two movies are more of the same, though I haven't seen them. I have zero confidence that he can run a big-budget thing with characters and try to get acting from them.

Lots of big action scenes, which rather misses the point of Hellboy; there's usually one or two fights in an entire Hellboy comic story, mostly quiet investigation and character interaction.

Yeah, no. Waiting for streaming on this steamer.

What I'm Not Watching: She-Ra and the Princesses of Power

Yes, OK, show for little girls. But He-Man was awesome, Boris Vallejo & Robert E Howard brought to life, and classic She-Ra wasn't bad, glossy-looking but often smarter than the main series; not having Orko made it better by default.

I can't stand the art style of this new show, though. Everyone looks stupid, like that Steven Universe show the kids like (the kids are wrong). Most backgrounds are blank pastel voids (there are a few matte paintings which aren't bad), their faces have a weird spray-paint pattern under their eyes, eyes are bigger than anime but flatter. Really just a hideous look. Cartoony works for things like Adventure Time, but this half-real/half-plastic-toy look is creepy. Many characters have a boneless wobbling "walk" that would look silly on Jake in Adventure Time, let alone a supposed Human.

Editing and continuity is awful. Bow will have 2 arrows in his quiver one shot, and 5 seconds later there's 4; he makes one more shot and he's out of arrows. The sword changes size semi-randomly between shots. There's mirroring in scenes rather than redraw them left-to-right. Just shoot the animators, seriously.

Starting with Adora as a Horde soldier is interesting. Kind of a "Hans, are we the baddies?" bit with Catra and the spoopy shadow witch. But we don't get enough time in the Horde's "Fright Zone", there should be 2-4 eps of just them doing Horde stuff.

Sadly, the show then gets Adora to meet Glimmer, the most annoying whiny "princess" yet, and a good argument for sterilizing "royalty" so they can't make any more of them, and Bow, a boy so dumb he doesn't even have a name, just his weapon. I guess his brothers Shovel and Pitchfork had to stay home on the farm. They steal She-Ra's horse from a village of dead satyrs and wisecrack about it. Too dark for the tone, man.

New transformation sequence is classic-cheesy, but the She-Ra form is still a little girl and in the same crappy style as everything else.

Hard pass on this.