The Time Machine – Hollywood vs. Wells

Does anyone remember H. G. Wells science fiction novel, The Time Machine?  Does anyone remember the 1960 movie version, as well as the 2002 adaptation?  I guess only if you’re cultured like myself.  Ha!  Not really.  The movies did what they thought they could to bring one of the first attempts at science fiction to life and yet still fell short of the mark the writer had set.  Now, let me explain why.

H. G. Wells (along with Jules Verne) was the first to create the concept of ‘science fiction’.  That term is loosely used today (because there’s so much of it) but back in their time during the late 1890’s, it was an idea that was brand new.  Authors wrote books about practical science, history, and fiction; stories based in more or less a semblance of reality.  So, the thought of a world in the future was not something normal to them.  Thanks to Wells, we now have the ‘time machine’.  Before his book, the phrase to describe moving through time had not been invented, much less the apparatus to carry it out.

The book itself is told from two perspectives: the best friend of the main character; Filby; and the Time Traveler himself.  Using the Time Traveler as his mouthpiece, Wells began to postulate how mankind would evolve or devolve over the centuries.  His approach was to separate man into two classes: the privileged class and the working class.  Obviously back in Wells’ time, those were really the only two classes that existed.  Wells goes even further in the book to discuss how the Eloi (above ground dwellers) came to be; in comparison to the Morlocks (below ground dwellers).  The Eloi were previously the upper classes, who never had to work in order to survive.  The Morlocks were the workings classes, who toiled and labored all day, every day.  The separation between the two is stark in the book and in the 1960 movie version.

I just watched the 2002 version with Guy Pierce and while I thought the adventure was interesting, I immediately felt disappointed that it missed the important differences that were exaggerated in the book.  The Eloi have rather superior jungle dwellings.  They work for their food and built what looked like wind mills.  That was the whole point in the book!  The Eloi had forgotten the concept of work.  They did not know what it was like to toil and break a sweat.   That was why the Time Traveler asks where everything comes from: their food and their clothes.  The Morlocks harvested the food and clothed the beings that were to be their own source of nutrition.

Another aspect of the movie that was wrong was Jeremy Irons’ character.  Obviously, there is no fault with Jeremy Irons himself, but the idea that there was a Morlock who wore clothes and could speak intelligently is totally against the book.  That was another point that Wells was making was that the Morlocks had become like animals.  You had the Eloi: unintelligent beings, just existing day to day.  And then you had the Morlocks: creatures of machines and metal, falling from their humanity.  It takes a special kind of monster to tend to then eat another human.

A question I wish had more of an answer to was how did humanity get to that point?  In the movie, the Time Traveler finds out it was because the moon broke and humanity went underground for protection.  Eventually, some people went back to the surface and others remained below.  That was how the Morlocks and the Eloi came to be; and then they eventually forgot about their shared ancestry.  How did Wells imagine the division to have occurred?  He existed before the atom bomb and anything like that which could have caused a cataclysmic event.  The worst thing that could have happened in his time would have been a plague, or the First World War to take place starting in 1914.  I myself can almost see the division being a social experiment gone horribly wrong.  Wouldn’t that be nice to have answered?  That was what made the Time Traveler’s story so far fetched to his friends when he told it.  The idea that mankind could over time become so disjointed and separated was hard for them to believe.  In a way, it is happening today.  You’ve got snowflakes and liberals, who believe in rainbows and butterflies (sounds like the Eloi) and who really don’t know how to work.  And then you have conservatives, who work very hard and frequently drive themselves into an early grave (sort of like the Morlocks, but without the cannibalism).

Was Wells inadvertently predicting a future that was closer than the year 802,701?

And on that note, it’s been real!

Ocean’s 8 – An Ocean of What the F*ck?!

Alright, this is my first time doing a bad movie review, but I’ve got to do this.  I mean, it’s a ripoff of the original Ocean series!  Now, we’ve all noticed the trend that has been appearing lately: find a good, successful movie already made by men, and remake it with women.  Okay, I don’t know about Hollywood, but I believe in originality.  If you’re taking a perfect recipe and changing the ingredients, but still calling it by the same name, you’re doing it wrong!

I’ve watched all three of the original Ocean’s movies, and I enjoyed them.  The elaborate plans, the quirky characters, the narration of their heists were entertaining, and they did a good job with just Julia Roberts as the female backup.  Now, before anyone starts saying anything, I want to remind you that I am a young, Hispanic woman; so don’t even think of pulling some Leftist bullsh*t on me.  When Holllywood decided to take those good recipes and change the ingredients (i.e. the gender of the characters) they set it up for ruin from the start (Ghostbusters, 2016; do you have to ask?).  Of course, they tied Sandra Bullock’s character to George Clooney’s character in the original trilogy, but that still wasn’t originality on the part of the writers of this latest silver screen fiasco.

The movie received very mixed bordering on not so good reviews.  It currently has 67% on Rotten Tomatoes, and people have said that Bullock and her gang are no substitute for Clooney and his boys.  Now, that’s not to say movies about women are always going to fail.  Wonder Woman was very successful and presented the DC character very well, but for me personally, the story was a bit of a drag, and I was more interested in Captain Steve Trevor (but, I’m a normal girl, so that’s to be expected).  Lara Croft did pretty well, and there was no gender flipping going on in that movie.  The Hunger Games Trilogy with Jennifer Lawrence was well received, so there is proof out there that movies with women as the lead characters can do well.  Just don’t base them off a movie that previously had an all or mostly male cast.  That’s just Hollywood banking off the success of the first installment and hoping it carries the new one.

I glanced at the other reviews from critics and the common man prior to writing this post.  Most of them said the movie was ‘fun’ but that was about it.  The chemistry of the cast was really the only thing most people could agree on.  There were several videos on Youtube, discussing why this movie was so bad.  As well as informing us what the cast thought of the reviews.  Yes, we understand that most actors try to be proud of what they’ve made as a sort of validation for doing what they do for a living.  However, actresses Mindy Kaling and Cate Blanchett (why, Cate, why?) have been blaming white male critiques for the bad reviews and ‘misunderstandings’ concerning their movie.  Just accept responsibility for your f*ck up already.

Here is a video that discusses it in greater detail.  It’s a little over 14 minutes long, just to let you know.  Ocean’s 8 Actors Blame White Male Critiques

It almost sounds like when you were a kid and you did something wrong and then blamed the dog for it.  In this case, the white male critiques are the dogs.  “No, sweetie, the dog didn’t eat your homework, you just didn’t do it.”

And on that note, it’s been real!

Troy: Why It Almost Worked

I’m sure most people recall the movie Troy when it came out in 2004.  It was one of those big, ancient pieces.  And yes, while the event is based off an actual time in history, we must remember that it is most famous for Homer’s rendition of it in his very large book, The Iliad.  The movie was entertaining and featured plenty of action and a tragic love story; heroes, bold and brave; and a marvelous movie score.  However, it lacked a key element that would have made it very successful, and gone on to continue Homer’s work in The Odyssey.  It was missing the gods!

If you’ve read the original epic, or have a basic grasp of Greek mythology, you will remember that the whole war did start over a woman.  Three Greek goddesses were arguing over which one was the fairest: Hera, Athena, and Aphrodite.  They went to the fairest man alive, Prince Paris of Troy.  They asked him to be the judge, and each offered him a reward for choosing them.  Hera offers him political power; Athena offers him victories in war; and Aphrodite offers him the most beautiful mortal woman.  Paris turns Hera down because he is already a Prince of Troy; he turns Athena down because he prefers love making to war mongering; and he accepts Aphrodite because he is a man fooled by appearances (Helen is taken back by her husband and makes comments about her adulterous relationship with Paris in The Odyssey).  He then steals Helen away from Menelaus, and flees to the safety of Troy.  Menelaus goes to his brother, King Agamemnon, and together, they rally the soldiers of Greece.  From there, the Greek gods take sides in the fight: Apollo, Ares, Aphrodite, and Artemis fighting with the Trojans; while Hera, Athena, Poseidon, Hermes, and Hephaestus fought for the Greeks.  Occasionally, Zeus would waggle a finger to aid this person or that, but he never took an official part or side.

The politics and drama between the gods would have added to the movie, making it grander.  Also, it would have explained to those who did not know, the reason why Achilles was killed by an arrow to the heel.  Just saying.

Another fact (which I mentioned above) is that it would have and should have led into The Odyssey, Homer’s tale of Odysseus’ long journey home.  Sean Bean was basically narrating the movie, so it would have made sense for his character to get the spin off he deserved.  The story of Odysseus’ road back to Ithaca is full of cunning and adventure and (yes) sex.  He sleeps with the nymphs Circe and Calisto for pity’s sake!  It would have been epic!  Anyway, I’m going off an a tangent because I really wanted to see that, but he’s too old now (sh*t!).  Anyway, that is why the movie, Troy, could have been better.  If they had modeled it more after Homer’s work, rather than guess at the actual historical event.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Master & Commander: The Far Side of the Theater

As I mentioned at the beginning of this week, Master & Commander had potential for being an epic period masterpiece.  There are five books in the entire series, and approximately four stories per book.  O’Brian’s books are the perfect material for a show.  One season could be two stories and so one.  That would have run for at least 10-11 seasons.  Decent length for a show, at least for one that has actual material to work off of.  But enough of how I could plan the perfect show, I’m talking about how the movie got panned.

Again, I believe some of the reasons it didn’t do well was because many people don’t have a proper understanding of History.  Facts to remember are that the Napoleonic War came about because of the French Revolution.  It was the cause, and Bonaparte was the affect.  The movie itself featured an all-male cast, and that might have been another problem.  Although moves like Expendables that also featured mostly male casts did fairly well, historical pieces are different.  It is usually nice to have at least one female character for us to fantasize getting together with the hero.  Aubrey’s love is hinted to at the beginning of the movie, but we don’t actually see her at all; and Dr. Maturin doesn’t have anybody but his sciences.  In the books, he had a dalliance with a rival, female spy for Bonaparte.  Dangerous and it would have been small screen gold!  Anyway, they did not have a female character at all.  Of course, we also have to take into consideration that they are on the far side of the world, literally!  They were a war ship, so they would never have been transporting civilians.  That, and no noble women would have been around, so for accuracy’s sake, they didn’t put a woman in; but that might have cost them some good publicity.

Another factor: the men might not have been good enough?  Now, for me personally, I liked the men they picked.  Russell Crowe was accurately cast in the lead.  Aubrey was described as a slightly heavy-set but capable man.  Maybe he wasn’t everybody’s cup of tea?  As for the secondary lead, Dr. Steven Maturin, Paul Bettany played the acerbic but thoughtful doctor to a tee.  He challenges Aubrey whenever he thinks he’s caring too much about his duty and not enough about his men.  Captain Aubrey is a man with a moral code, and that means following the orders he was given.  Maturin has to play conscience every once in a while.

If you have seen the movie and/or read the books, you would know that they left the movie open for more.  Unfortunately, nobody understands or appreciates History, so the movie did not do well, and no continuations were made.  However, I would fully condone a remake, as a series of course.  I would have Charlie Hunnam as Capt. ‘Lucky’ Jack Aubrey, and JJ Feild as Dr. Steven Maturin.  Their adventures would grace the small screen like a well played battle maneuver!

And on that note, it’s been real!

Vikings: Nordic Fact & Fiction

Whoever at the History Channel headquarters decided to make a show about the Vikings, was a genius.  The Vikings was a success and has been a fixture on their channel for several seasons (going on six now).  It has several characters we have all come to love and follow and many fronts on which to fight.  The series is based loosely on the actual viking, Ragnar Lothbrok, who was the first viking to begin raiding in Great Britain and Frankia.

The series quickly grew a cult following for its array of interesting characters, violence, adult content, and historical intrigue.  I believe that people are more captivated by the desires and ambitions of ancient kings than they are with modern politicians.  Kings maybe seem more human, and possibly unselfish in their reasoning’s.  Example: King Ecbert wants to be king of all Britannia in an attempt to end the constant power struggles taking place across the island.  Unselfish… right?  Ambitious?  Definitely!  Ragnar raids in the name of exploration.  Their world had been so small until he sailed west.  Rollo just wants to be thanked, to be appreciated for what he has given to the viking community.  None has been forth coming, so he made a strategic decision, married a Frankish princess, and became Lord of Paris.  He goes from nobody to somebody in a hurry!

Floki, a complicated (and insane) character, who has always lived to serve Ragnar, but he has his doubts throughout the series.  He picked on Athelstan because of his Christian beliefs and when they raided Britannia, he revealed his hatred for all things pertaining to Catholicism.  He murders Athelstan, claiming he’s protecting Ragnar.  I’m not going to lie, I started to dislike Floki a little more after that.  And then he began to harass Rollo for almost every decision he made.  Annoying!  Anyway…  The character of Floki has gone from being a ‘good’ guy to being a very morally ambiguous person.  He kills all Catholics with sickening glee and revels in their blood.  Not what you would consider normal or right.

Lagertha has gone through a transformation of her own.  She went from being Ragnar’s housewife (with a warrior’s background), to a warrior chief in her own rite, and finally, the Queen of Kattegat.  However, she can’t seem to find happiness with another man outside of Ragnar.  She left him of her own free will because he asked her to share her power and his affection with Princess Aslaug.  Lagertha is a proud woman and refused, so she left.  Lagertha has always stood up for herself and has gotten herself so far.  But now, she faces a war, a war for her position in Kattegat.  We shall see this season if she keeps her life and her throne.

Once more, a series has proven that through time, production money, and view-able characters, people can enjoy a period piece, and not even know they’re learning some history.

And on that note, it’s been real!

Tarzan: King of the Cinema?

Alright!  Who remembers the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books called Tarzan?  Okay, let me rephrase that…  Who remembers the Disney animated Tarzan movie?  Got your attention now, didn’t I?  Now, I’m not going to lie to you; when my dad made me read these books, I wasn’t overly interested.  The first book was pretty decent.  It tells the story of a British aristocrat and his wife getting set adrift in a boat after the sailors on their vessel mutiny.  They land on a jungle island not far off the coast of Africa.  From there, Lord Greystoke builds them a safe haven in the trees.  Afterward, his wife gives birth to a son, but dies shortly after.  He follows her, and their baby is discovered by an anthrapoid (Burroughs made it up) ape, adopted, and given the name Tarzan.  From there, he has to carve a place for himself in the family group of apes.  He faces his challenges and grows up to be a powerful man-ape.

Enter Jane Porter, an American girl and daughter of a Professor Archimedes Q. Porter.  Tarzan saves her from a rouge ape and obviously takes an interest.  However, there is another man who also likes Jane.  Say hello to John Clayton, the ‘heir’ to Tarzan’s fortune.  They were cousins or something like that.  Well, Jane Porter and her father and Clayton eventually leave the island, and Tarzan misses her.  He rescues a Frenchman from cannibals and learns to speak English.  When they are rescued, the first thing he does is journey to America to see Jane.  The book ends without him getting her, but Burroughs wrote several more and they did get married and had a son.  However, Jane Porter needs to be saved so many times, it’s nauseating.

In the original movie they did, Tarzan has been living in England as John Clayton, Lord Greystoke.  Jane and he still do not have children, and are upset over a miscarriage.  However, a cunning Belgian, Leon Rom, tricks them into coming to Africa and kidnaps Jane in an attempt to lure Tarzan into Mbonga’s clutches.  The movie was entertaining and the banter between Tarzan and George Washington Williams (Sam L. Jackson) tickled my funny bones.  However, it did not do well at the box office.  My theory behind that is that many of the people who went to see it had never read a single Tarzan book.  I read two (hey, at least I did that!).  Although, who doesn’t appreciate a strong, tall, and handsome, and shirtless man swinging in to save them?  Not like you see that every day anymore.  And for the guys, there’s Margot Robbie.

And on that note, it’s been real!

The Tudors: The First of Its Kind

Most people know about The Tudors when it comes to historical shows.  It was basically the first ever big retelling of an historical era.  And, it was very successful for the duration of its running time.  But, what made it so successful?  What was its secret?

It’s secret was having a decent dose of adult content (sexual), violence, politics, characters that kept us guessing, drama, and a dash of history.  I also think that even though the show was mainly about Henry VIII and all the changes he wrought in his kingdom (and the rest of Europe), most people watched it to see what happened to each wife.  Yes, we all know that he divorced Katherine of Aragon, beheaded Anne Boleyn, lost Jane Seymour, divorced Anne of Cleves, beheaded Katherine Howard, and died before Katherine Parr.  The actresses who were selected to play each wife were all beautiful in their own way, and acted them superbly.

As for the politics, they perfectly discussed each problem and revolutionary change that took place in England.  The dissolution of Catholicism and the beginning of the Anglican Church.  We watched the Act of Succession tear England apart, and in a way, destroy the family that helped set it on that path in the first place: the Boleyns.  We all saw how the Pilgrimage of Grace was brutally and cruelly crushed.  As a student of History, I was impressed by everything they did.   What was the secret?  They presented a complex time in history in a digestible and enjoyable manner for all to admire.  Series and shows are more capable of doing that than a movie.  That’s why I’m contemplating adjusting my Scarlet Pimpernel screenplay into a series instead of the movie format it is currently.  We shall see.

And on that note, it’s been real!