Spoiler Warning: The Endgame Awakens

Spoilers for Avengers: Endgame ahead.

Avengers: Endgame. An epic film 10 years in the making. It delivered on the great conclusion and audiences love it. But in 10 more years, it may not be remembered so fondly.

The Marvel masterpiece raises the specter of Star Wars: The Force Awakens in many significant ways. That film, too, had a massive build and smashed box office records. Critics and audiences praised it and the director. It was the rebirth of Star Wars, but there was always a sense that something wasn’t quite right with it for a small segment of audiences.

So years later (and after the cinematic catastrophe that was its sequel, The Last Jedi), fans have revisited TFA and found its many, many problems. Conveniences abound, world building is non-existent. Mysteries exist for mystery sake and characters fail to have any real characterization. And a beloved character dies in a climatic scene.

It’s not a perfect parallel in its elements to Endgame, but it’s similar in a broader sense. Fan service, intrigue, and a few good moments plaster over the many plot holes and logical inconsistencies.

Years from now or maybe sooner, today’s fans are not going to look back so fondly on this film. They’ll return to Chubby Thor playing Fortnite; bizarre time hopping and alternate realities and that raise so many questions of how, when, and why; the Avengers plan in general; the off screen creation of Professor Hulk; Bucky not being made the next Captain America, and Captain Marvel’s tacked on parts. There are more issues, but I’m not trying to be comprehensive here.

The biggest problem for me comes from the Avengers plan. They use the gauntlet to bring everyone back that was snapped away 5 years ago. This is what Tony Stark wanted/demanded to keep his family. It’s hard to blame the guy for this plan without sounding ungrateful, but it’s still a hard thing to accept.

That decision made, the Avengers return the survivors to the present, creating a horrible dystopia. In five years, people have moved on from the loved ones they lost, killed themselves from grief, and died from other causes. The result is this world where half the population returns to a world where most of them no longer belong, some are missing family members, and society no longer has the capacity to sustain them after letting infrastructure decay. Confusion, new grief, rage, starvation, and global riots await them after being gone for subjective seconds.

And that’s just on Earth.

It’s an issue the screenwriters could have completely avoided had they not chosen the story option of Thanos destroying the Infinity Gems. Had they not given Thanos the capacity to do that, there would not have been a need for a 5-year time skip or time travel in general. That story decision is the root of almost all of the major problems with the script. The only reason I think they did that was to have the time travel plots to revisit the previous films. In a sense, they wanted to close out the story with a quasi-clip show.

The workaround would have been to have the Avengers steal most of the gems from a wounded but healing Thanos, who is preparing to return to his duties ruling his empire to curb the chaos his snap created, and then watching the Avengers race around the cosmos trying to build a new gauntlet while protecting the gems from Thanos. If the writers are still married to the time traveling, then the Avengers could have inexpertly used the Time stone to try to escape to the past with the various stones for brief periods of time. In the climax, they finish the gauntlet, get the rest of the gems from Thanos, and Tony snaps to bring everyone back and all his returned allies to the new battlefield. That’s just one thought.

Where the MCU goes from here is anyone’s guess. There are movies scheduled to be produced and we have some idea of which heroes will comprise the next wave of Avengers, but Endgame undercut a lot of interest in any story that follows. Multiple timelines/realities reduce the stakes, as nothing really matters in such a multi-verse. Lesser-known and less-liked heroes won’t have the time they need to endear themselves to audiences while grappling with threats far below the threat Thanos represented. And the prime timeline is pretty messed up thanks to the reasons mentioned above with bringing back half the population of everything after 5 years.

Endgame did future stories and heroes no favors in this regard. This lack of establishing a solid launch platform for the next phase will further tarnish the legacy of this film as the new films premiere to decaying fan interest.

Maybe I’m wrong about this. Maybe tonight’s episode of Game of Throne made me salty. We’ll see.

Eliminators: A Mandroid, Scientist, Riverboat Captain, and Ninja Walk Into an 80s SciFi Movie…

With the 1986 film “Eliminators,” the joke is the punchline.

I purchased this “4 Sci-Fi Movie Marathon” for a few dollars from Amazon specifically to see this movie. I had fond memories of it when I was a child. I remember renting it on VHS from the local video rental store and catching it on HBO when premium cable channels were still a relatively new thing. I had images of a half-man, half-tank cyborg rolling around and shooting people with lasers, an even more powerful and evil cyborg that was planning to travel into the past when civilization was still young and dominant mankind as an immortal god-emperor, and a somewhat tragic ending. There was this lingering sense of drama and building suspense and intrigue.

All of this demonstrates how memories alter over time. The bad, if it was even understood, gets worn away and only the pleasant things remain. Time doesn’t heal all so much as it obfuscates the past for you.

Because Eliminators is not a good movie. And without alcohol or a group of friends, it’s not even that funny of a B-movie, because it drags.

The basic plot involves evil Dr. Reeves and his assistant Takada creating all sorts of technological marvels in a compound deep in the Mexican bayou/forest/wilderness. One of their wonders if the film’s protagonist, the Mandroid. The Mandroid was once a pilot that crashed along the river leading to the compound and Reeves and Takada re-purposed his human body by supplemental it with robot parts intended for space exploration.

The Mandroid only has the barest fragments of his human past and follows the orders of Reeves and Takada as they use him as a test pilot for their time machine. Yes, Reeves and Takada built a time machine and they’ve send the Mandroid back to the Roman Empire at least once where the cyborg returned with a centurion’s shield and no memory of how he got it. Spoilers, he blasted a bunch of roman soldiers with his arm laser cannon and took it.

After this successful use of the time machine, Reeves orders Takada to dismantle the Mandroid as they no longer need him. Takada is appalled by this and argues against it but seems to bend to Reeves’ will. So, Takada takes the Mandroid aside and explains what Reeves intends and the Mandroid agrees to escape the compound with Takada, after securing his mobile unit (tank tracks, see pick below).

During this escape, we also learn Reeves is not in good health. He plugs himself into a machine to filter something from his body, but the Wily scientist has a plan to prolong his life.

Takada is shot by one of the many plainclothes guards protecting the compound while assisting the Mandroid in his escape, but he lives long enough to tell the Mandroid to seek out a Col. Nora Hunter (played by Denise Crosby of Star Trek: TNG fame). And the Mandroid takes several shots from a ridiculously modified rifle fired by Reeves’ top enforcer, Ray. Poor Ray gets left out of a lot of plot synopsis but he does cause a lot of headaches for the Mandroid.

Though damaged, the Mandroid escapes the compound and rides into the wilderness. He eventually discards his tank half and reattaches his legs through the miracle of film editing. Not long after, we’re introduced Nora. She’s some sort of scientist/engineer. She’s tinkering with a semi-artificially intelligent, gallon-of-milk-sized robot called S.P.O.T. (Don’t ask what the acronym means; it’s stupid) that’s designed to be an advanced scout and tracker. And it has flight and matter teleportation abilities. It can zip around rapidly as a ball of colored light.

The Mandroid forces his way into her lab and reveals himself to her. There’s an exchange of exposition. Nora’s ticked that Dr. Reeves has been stealing her designs and using them for no-good. The Mandroid is based on her designs and she even offers to fix his damaged parts. He’s reluctant to take her with him to confront Reeves and stop his evil plans, but Nora’s persistent and the Mandroid does see a benefit in having her and Spot.

While driving into Mexico, the pair run across a pair of carjackers and the Mandroid is forced to intervene. He blows up their car. The plot continues.

The pair get a hotel room somewhere in Mexico. The Mandroid and Spot fight over the TV channel. Nora goes to a local bar to find a guide to take them up river to find Reeves’ compound. The Mandroid doesn’t know how to find his way back for reasons and only has a general idea.

This is where we’re introduced to the Han Solo/Yamcha of the adventure in Harry Fontana. Harry is a weasel of a riverboat pilot, but he’s clever enough to outsmart all the other local competition like his primary rival, Bayou Betty. Nora draws a lot of attention when she enters the seedy Mexican tavern because she’s pretty and declares she wants the toughest guide in the place. This prompts Betty to bunch her own crewman in the face and begin a tavern brawl designed to anoint the last man standing as the toughest guide worthy of taking Nora upriver. Harry stays out of the brawl until the very end when Betty is the last person standing, clocks her on the head with a beer bottle, and then strolls out to accept Nora’s job.

It’s worth mentioning that this movie shares a lot of bizarre commonalities with both the original Dragon Ball and Star Wars: A New Hope. The trio of Goku, Bulma, and Yamcha match up pretty well with the Mandroid, Nora, and Harry. The same is true for Luke, Leia, and Han in the same order. Maybe that was just a really popular triangle of characters back in the day.

The Mandroid disguises himself as a wounded friend of Nora’s by wrapping his cybernetic head in bandages and weather clothing to hide the rest. Harry is initially suspicious, if not jealous, but agrees to take the Mandroid, too, for some extra money.

This is where the film gets tedious. It felt like the next half hour consisted of a drawn-out, badly-done speedboat chase where the film crew was limited to some stock footage, a very small body of water in which to film, and some use of either a projected background or green screen. Bayou Betty and others chase Harry and his boat, shooting shotguns at the heroes to try to force Harry to forfeit Nora and the Mandroid to them so they can make the money from the guide job. Yeah, it doesn’t make sense. Neither does Harry’s constant zigzagging, the fact his boat doesn’t leave a wake in any of the scenes, or that there’s little to no wind affecting Nora’s hair during this high speed boat chase up river.

And of course Harry’s boat has sudden engine troubles (like the Millennium Falcon) he can’t fix, but Nora can. So she does, but it’s not enough and the Mandroid has to intervene by launching a torpedo to take out Bayou Betty’s boat.

And these poor boats gets used in at least two more chases just as ridiculous. The Millennium Falcon Harry’s boat is not.

Skipping ahead, the Mandroid and Nora try to ditch Harry and do for a while. They find the plane in which the Mandroid crashed and he learns he once had a family. Nora almost drowns after swimming into the crashed and partially submerged fuselage, but it saved by the Mandroid casting a line to keep the plane from sinking completely and Harry returning in the nick of time to chop some tree branches out of the way so Nora can swim free.

Harry learns the truth and story of the Mandroid and is determined to help. I’m skipping the part where Ray found Bayou Betty in the water and learned that the Mandroid was around. Ray then caught up to Harry, but Harry pulled a few tricks and wrecked Rays’ boat. It was boring.

Moving on, the trio re-board Harry’s boat to go further up river rather than try to find a way through the “jungle” by way of old Indian trails. Along the way, the Mandroid falls overboard for some reason and Nora and Harry can neither find nor retrieve the metal man from the deep river water. Upset, they vow to continue on the quest to stop Reeves. Then Harry’s boat engine craps out for good and the pair go on foot where they are captured by cavemen. Yes, cavemen, neanderthals. It’s never explicitly explained, but it hints that Reeves has been making many trips into the past and returning with all sort of artifacts. Later on, he’s shown to have a vault full of ancient roman items.

The pair manage to escape when Harry steals a kiss to give Nora some bullets to toss into a fire. They’re eventually reunited with the Mandroid who managed to walk out of the water and come across a real life ninja in the form of Kuji Takada, the son of Takada who has been searching for his father.

Altogether, they locate and assault Reeves compound. The Mandroid recovers his discarded mobility unit and rolls around shoot lasers at hillbilly’s on modified three-wheelers until he gets tipped over and has to go back to his legs. They concoct some plan where the Mandroid will distract Reeves and his guards while the other three sneak inside and sabotage the time machine. Nora deduced what Reeves was planning after piecing together the Mandroid’s story and her understanding of the technology Spot uses to transport around.

It’s during this infiltration that Kuji ninja’s his way through a spinning fans without being touched by the blades. And Harry sets off an alarm by trying to remove an artificial from Reeves’ roman collection. The three are captured and brought to the courtyard where they are used as hostages to force the Mandroid to disarm (literally) his laser cannon. The Mandroid complies, but Kuji gets the drop on the guards and another fight ensues with the heroes beating Ray and the other henchman.

It’s at this point the Mandroid demands Reeves come out and face him. And Reeves does. This might have been more shocking if it hadn’t been shown earlier. Reeves emerges as a blood-red, Roman Emperor version of the Mandroid. He’s a far more advanced cyborg. In the earlier scene, he was shown tinkering with a lightning cannon mounted on his forearm that also acted as a kind of telekinetic beam. He used it to grab Ray by the balls, akin to Dark Helmet from Spaceballs, to further motivate the poor guy into stopping the Mandroid. It didn’t work.

This improved cyborg body is way too much for the already damaged Mandroid and Reeves blasts our hero multiple times with lasers before leaving the Mandroid for dead in the courtyard. He then traps the remaining three heroes in an ever-shrinking energy force field that threatens to crush and electrocute them to death, while he goes inside to fire up his time machine and become the god emperor of Rome.

Fortunately for civilization as we know it, the Mandroid recovers long enough to crawl over to the trio and sacrifice himself by grounding out the charge of the force field. The trio don’t have time to mourn their friend because they need to hurry to stop Reeves from traveling into the past and the movie needs to end. By the time they find Reeves, he’s already in the time machine and traveling into the past. Nora tries and fails to hack the control computers as the date on the screen winds closer to the Roman era.

Harry bemoans he didn’t learn about computers and wipes and punches a keyboard, causing the control system to short and Reeves to overshoot his target by millions and millions of years into the past, probably to become the god emperor of the Engineers from Prometheus.

The movie cuts back to the group realizing the stopped Reeves. They cheer and laugh and the frame freezes on them. Credits roll. The Mandroid’s carcass still lies warm in the courtyard with no further mention made. Tragedy.

So, that’s the basic summary of the plot. I can understand why I might have liked this movie as a kid. It has robots, cyborgs, time travel, and ninjas. I mean, there you go. But it doesn’t hold up, even as a good, bad movie watch. It’s too slow. Though, it may be serviceable with drinks and friends and might make for an interesting remake with a little more thought put into it.

The same can be said of another movie in the 4-pack. Arena (1989) does right what Eliminators did wrong. It moves much faster, almost too fast, and doesn’t linger on stretching it’s run time out with sequences it had no business trying to film. But Arena is worth its own blog.

Lastly, there is no explanation why Eliminators was titled Eliminators given in the movie.

 

The Force Awakens and Decides to Stay in Bed for a While Longer and Watch Some Netflix

Non-Spoiler Review

I caught the Force Awakens just a couple of hours ago in 3D IMAX. On the whole, it was a treat. If you liked what JJ Abrams did with the Star Trek movies and you like the original Star Wars trilogy, you’ll probably dig this movie. If you felt Abrams was recycling too much and his Star Trek scripts were messy, then it’s going to be like trying to ignore a splinter in your finger.

The acting was mostly good, as was the casting. There were a few awkward scenes, but certainly not on the level of the prequel movies. And really, Harrison Ford reprising Han Solo seemed to be one of the weaker links. His timing just feels off and he comes across as a guy who knows he’s playing Han Solo (again) rather than Han Solo. It’s just this inescapable bit of self-awareness that he almost never quite gets away from for most of the film. John Boyega as Finn is probably the next weakest link. He can’t seem to settle exactly on who his character is or wants to be or why. It’s possible he just didn’t know when he was filming. He has decent chemistry with Daisy Ridley’s Rey, but he, too, has the same distracting self-awareness Ford showed when reprising Solo.

The film was gorgeous and easily the best looking, most appealing in its cinematography, and most interesting in its designs of all the films. BB-8, the little spherical droid, is an adorable addition to the franchise and represents what Jar Jar Binks might have been if done correctly. The fight scenes brought a sense of lethality to them that none of the other movies had. Blasters are powerful and deadly weapons, especially when fired from spacecraft, and the Force Awakens demonstrates this without becoming more violent than the Abrams Trek movies.

Another smart decision was a removal of the wire fu-type of combat we witnessed in the prequels. The fights now feel more chaotic, more dangerous, and less a dance.

At a run of a little over two hours, you won’t be bored. There’s plenty of real tension and good laughs. But while the story moves quickly, it is ushered along with some questionable character motivations and sloppy exposition. This is not a 10 out of 10 movie, but it is easily one of the better Star Wars movies.

 

 

***SPOILERS*** Continue reading “The Force Awakens and Decides to Stay in Bed for a While Longer and Watch Some Netflix”

Walking in the Dark Hallways with the Babadook…

I’m not certain whether I have ever had a truly supernatural experience. The kinds of things I’ve encountered have always walked the line between my imagination and reality. And the thought of actually having a true, make-me-an-absolute-believer-type of experience is both terrifying and wondrous. The implications it would have for my understanding of my own existence, as well as the numerous new mysterious and terrors, would be staggering.

In the spirit of the holiday and with this extra hour of time, I thought I’d share a brief recollection of one of the creepiest places I’ve ever been.

When I was a kid, my parents would clean our church to help pay for my tuition to attend the church’s school. The church was a relatively large building, maybe capable of seating a couple hundred people. It wasn’t a “mega church,” but it was surprisingly nice for what it was. It had a high ceiling and two massive, brass chandeliers. The stage was probably about four feet high with a pit on either side for the piano and the organ. The choir had a place in the back behind the pulpit with risers built into the floor for them beneath the balcony-like baptismal where the centerpiece of the church, a massive, wooden, and back-lit cross hung on the wall.

It would generally take my parents two to three hours to clean the place, which consisted of vacuuming the carpet, dusting, picking up any trash, changing garbage bags, bringing any glasses used by the pastor or deacons to the adjacent office building for washing, etc. My brother and I would help sometimes just to get the job done faster.

So, I spent a lot of time in this church and some of that time was in the dark. When the lights were out, the only illumination came from whatever light trickled in through the front-facing stain-glass windows and the emergency exit signs at either end of the place. Despite being a church and a place I had spent hundreds of hours over the course of the weekly services, in-school chapel services, various school activities, and cleaning, the place was creepy. Maybe it was how the magenta carpet absorbed the red light from the exits signs to make the place darker than it should have been. Or maybe it was the vastness of the space and the numerous shadows. The random sounds of the HVAC system and the building settling didn’t help either. And there were rats in the attic or on the roof, I’m sure.

During some football games, my friends and I, still in grade school, would sometimes sneak away from the game and go inside the school building (I’ll get to the school building in a moment), which stood adjacent to the church and was connected with a compact, car-length breezeway. We would dare each other to go into the darkened church. And one of my friends was a superstitious sort (even more so than the rest of us). She claimed to have seen a demon in the church once. It seemed a frightful thing to us then, much less so as we got older, but now so many years later, I wonder if she did see something or felt something. There was, after all, something very wrong in that church, but it’s not something I want to get into.

And another thing I never wanted to get into was the school building after dark. As it stood next to the church, I would sometimes find myself having to go into the building to get something or to complete some chore. The building was built like a two-story box with an H-shaped hallway on both floors. On the ground floor, each point of the “H” was an exit of double, steel doors that were usually kept chained after hours and had just tinted, vertical slits in them for windows. The line running through the middle of the H was the main hallway with classrooms and the cafeteria on either side. One side of the H was the front of the building with a kind of foyer and the front staircase. The other was a strip of rooms used as the daycare facility. The second floor consisted almost entirely of classrooms, not counting the bathrooms, was connected to the bottom floor with the front staircase and a rear staircase off one point of the H.

Because of the floor layout, the absence of any windows outside of the classrooms, which had shut doors, this building was pretty much pitch black. There were emergency exit signs at some ends of the halls, but not all of them and they were incredible dim. No, if you went into this place at night without a flashlight, especially if the lights were also off in the church, you couldn’t see your own hand in front of your face.

When I had to go into this place, I knew where the light switch was for the hallway lights, but it was several paces down the hallway and place kind of in the middle of the wall. You had to feel around for it in the dark, usually, to find it. Turning on the lights, just one set of them, felt like I was only partially revealing a monster in the dark.

Those hallways were so eerie. Never have I experienced such a sense of claustrophobia in such an open space. The darkness and the air felt thick and heavy. And the couple of times I went alone, I imagined I could feel things moving around me and watching me. Why did that exit sign way at the end of the hall go dark for a second? The place was mostly silent, but silent in the way a cheap horror movie goes silent just before the jump scare comes. There were the usual sounds, sometimes, of the building settling, the water fountain compressors kicking on, and rats. You would listen for these things, glad to hear them because they were identifiable, as your skin tingled and the hairs on your neck stood on end. There was a remarkably strong sense of being exposed and vulnerable. It was as if at any moment, something may strike at your or take you away.

I’ve never experienced anything quite like that since and even back then, I would do my best not to go alone. But even with a few people or a flashlight, the place remained unsettling by managing to be too big, too dark, too empty, and leaving you feeling too exposed. It’s probably a good example of why all those investigators on the various ghost hunting shows always check out a place at night. Some places take on a completely different atmosphere at night than what they have during the day.

Do I think there was something lurking in those black hallways? I can’t say. It would be easy to dismiss it as just being a kid, but I don’t think I would want to go through those hallways at night, alone, as an adult. I’m no stranger to being in the dark or in creepy places. I’ve visited the Myrtles a few times and find the place generally pleasant once I get past the feeling of heaviness that comes over me every time I enter the parking lot.

Real or imagined, part of me thinks there’s something there. And it’s something I do not want to trifle with.

So, the thing that brought all of this to the forefront of my thoughts was my viewing of The Babadook for the first time. Don’t worry, I’m not going to share any spoilers or get into the plot or its meaning. No, it was the design and appearance of the Babadook that stood out to me. When I imagined something in the dark waiting to take me, I imagined something like the Babadook. That may be due to the bogey man nature of the creature. We all seem to have a general fear of shadow demons hiding in the dark. But yeah, I would not want to wake in the middle of the night to find half my room in supernatural shadow and such a creature looming over me, metaphor or not.

As far as horror movies go, it’s a good flick and original, which is refreshing. It’s definitely worth checking out with a friend, but don’t expect any major scares. This is more a psychological film. It made me feel more uncomfortable than afraid. It’s also more cerebral than your average slasher flick, so be prepared to pay attention to it. It’s more carefully crafted that you might realize upon your first viewing.

The sleeve that came with the blu-ray disc had a pretty cool pop-up design, imitating the children’s book that warns of the Babadook. It’s actually so cool, I’ll probably never be rid of it.

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“If it’s in a word, or it’s in a look, you can’t get rid of the Babadook.”

Not everything you find in dark places is necessarily bad. During the last super moon eclipse, I found myself walking all the way out to the nearby park, hoping it would be dark enough to capture some good photos of the eclipse. As I made my way into the park, which you aren’t really supposed to do after sunset (I’m a rebel…), I saw dancing, colored lights in the distance. And as I continued, I eventually heard music. I almost turned back, not wanting to get involved with strangers in the dark, but stayed the course. I ended up meeting the members of the Baton Rouge Fire Guild. From what I can tell, they’re just a group of people that like to dance with lighted things and fire. Simple enough. I couldn’t actually see their faces, because it was so dark with the clouds and the eclipse but I used the slow exposure setting for fireworks on my camera to snap some cool photos of them while I waited for breaks in the cloud cover to take quick shots of the eclipse. Here’s some shots.

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I didn’t actually get any good shots of the moon until I headed back and the cloud cover broke. I found myself in the dark, bracing my camera on a disc golf basket to steady it, while I used various settings on my camera to get it to both focus on the eclipse without blurring too much and capturing the color. It was a challenge. I kind of need to get a new camera. But, here you go.

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Disney’s Estranged Child

I really enjoyed The Event Horizon. It’s very much a guilty pleasure, I admit. But the set design (amazing in HD), the tone, and the general spookiness (and later, horror) of what occurs in the film all fit together to make something special, something I hadn’t seen in film before.

Well, that’s not entirely true. Before The Event Horizon, there was Disney’s foray into more mature entertainment with it’s (apparently) not well-known 1979 film, The Black Hole.

I’m about to get into spoilers here, but it’s your own fault. One movie came out almost 40 years ago and the other closer to 20.

The basic plot of The Black Hole revolves around a crew of explorer astronauts tearing around space looking for “hospitable life” in their ship, The USS Palomino. And it’s a really is a classic archetypal group of folks. You have the veteran commander, the young hot shot, the chick (she has “esp” and uses it to communicate with the ship’s robot…), the old pragmatist, the idealistic scientist, and a philosophical robot that sounds kind of like Mr. Feeny from Boy Meets World. The intrepid crew detects a navigational anomaly that turns out to be a really massive black hole. More peculiar is the discovery of a once-thought lost American spaceship, The USS Cygnus, holding a stationary position quite near the event horizon. The crew, of course, goes to investigate. Not only did the vessel cost America a ton of money and its construction was pushed by Earth’s resident super genius at the time, Dr. Hans Reinhardt, but the father of the “chick” crew member was designated its commander. So, character motivation!

The crew finds that, shock, Reinhardt is alive and well and that he’s single-handedly invented and employed anti-gravity shields and a quasi-infinite energy reactor, as well as repopulated his ship with robots, one of which is his right (red) hand man, Maximilian. No bullshit, even by today’s standards, old Max is an intimidating robot and is the reason this particular Disney flicked earned its PG rating.

As the plot progresses, holes in Dr. Reinhardt’s story become apparent and the situation spirals into the abyss quite quickly, punctuated with laser battles, a completely random meteor storm, and robot on man homicide. It ends with the crew of the Palomino being doomed to take a trip through the eye of the black hole, following behind the tumbling wreckage of The USS Cygnus.

And much like The Event Horizon, black holes are not just super massive celestial objects that warp space time with immense gravity but are, in fact, portals to the afterlife and beyond. Interstellar got it wrong. Personally, I like to think The Event Horizon ended up in the same place as Dr. Reinhardt and the Cygnus on its maiden voyage. It makes sense, in a way.

It should be obvious that this movie has little to do with science. No, it’s part cash-in, part genius, and part cheese. The soundtrack manages to encapsulate all of these, as well. Try to listen to the main theme if you can find it somewhere. The film also pushed a lot of technical boundaries with its then-cutting edge computer animation and its special effects, especially its computer controlled camera work. There’s a lot of trivia and history about this film. It had a relatively high budget for its time and made plenty back at the box office, but was derided by critics and fans of Disney’s more kid-friendly works.

If you’ve never seen it, try to find a copy somewhere. As far as I can tell, it’s never made its way to blu-ray; I got the DVD. It’s worth one watch for the ending alone. I’m hoping it’ll get a remake, a smarter and more mature script with a consistent tone, and some modern effects, though the Black Hole looks amazing, if inaccurate. Plus, when people ask you which Disney character you’d like to dress up as, you can respond, the murderous satanic robot Maximilian.

I’d still prefer an Event Horizon sequel, though.

The Black Hole DVD Cover

Watching this old flick again after so many years has really given me the itch to work on my own sci-fi book. Writing a serious narrative incorporating black holes, robots, and psychics is a daunting task, but it’s a manageable one. Writing it around football season, however, makes it less so.