Monday, August 8, 2022

Episode 103: If I Were a Carpenter: The Films of John Carpenter

In this episode we celebrate and explore the films of legendary film-maker, John Carpenter! Carpenter is such a unique director, a man who has always done things his own way, with a real talent for story-telling. The Planet 8 crew will start by discussing Carpenter's early life and how he became a film-maker.

We move on to a discussion of the qualities that define John Carpenter's style. Obviously we'll talk about his work with his film soundtracks, but there are so many other aspects to a "John Carpenter film" - the 'slow burn' or building of suspense, his use of unusual camera angles or long takes, his distrust of authority figures, and so much more.

As we go through Carpenter's style, we'll talk about his films, lingering on some of our favorites, including The Thing (we dedicated a whole episode to it -you can hear it here),  Halloween, The Fog, Escape from New York, They Live, and Big Trouble in Little China. But we also talk about some of his films that aren't on our favorites list too, just to balance things out.

Without a doubt, Carpenter has an impressive and varied portfolio that includes some real classics. If all he had ever done was make The Thing, he would be a master, but he's made so many films that exhibit incredible skill and style. He's truly an amazing film-maker.


For the Sensor Sweep this week, we sadly note the passing of Nichelle Nichols, famed for her portrayal of Lieutenant Uhura on the original Star Trek. Nichols was 89. Beyond the impact she had in her role as one of the very first African American women on TV who wasn't in a subservient role, Nichols went on to work with NASA to recruit women and people of color into the astronaut corps. A constant presence on the convention circuit, she was known for her warmth and beautiful smile. She will be greatly missed.

That's it for this go round. Please share your thoughts with us on anything we talked about -or forgot to talk about!

Are you crazy, is that your problem?


Friday, July 22, 2022

Episode 102: Thor, Phase 4, and a Lot More

 


The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe is here -Thor: Love and Thunder - and your Planet 8 crew has a lot to say about it. And it ain't necessarily good. Much like the previous Thor film, this newest look at the God of Thunder takes a decidedly goofy slant. It's a little too goofy for our taste.

Beware -there are spoilers ahead! 

Not to say there aren't some interesting or exciting things in the film. There are. But the whole film feels so unbalanced that it's hard to appreciate  Christian Bale's performance as Gorr the God-Butcher, or Natalie Portman's appearance as Jane Foster, aka the Mighty Thor. Both of these characters have serious stories behind them; Gorr is a deeply grieving man, Jane is battling cancer. But they are undercut by the  absurd situations and performances that surround them.

We're not against humor. The Marvel films have always had humor in them. But typically it's been relegated to wise-cracking, not slapstick and utterly ridiculous situations. While some complain that Marvel films are too formulaic and there's no directorial freedom, in this case, it seems like Taika Waititi was given absolute free reign. Surely there's a happy medium, a balance between the serious and the absurd, formula and artistic license.

We move on from Thor to discuss Marvel Phase 4 and where it's going. What's the overarching plan? In Phase 3 we had Thanos and the Infinity Stones, what's the threat now? The multiverses colliding? It's also difficult to get excited when so many of our favorite characters are gone now. 

The conversation  takes us to the Disney Plus Marvel shows, and even some of the DC films. You just never know where it's gonna go with us!

For our Sensor Sweep, all you fans of both tiki and kaiju will want to know about the King Ghidorah tiki mug from Mondo ! This is a mug nearly as big as the three-headed monster himself.  It stands a whopping 8 3/4" high and holds 26 ounces! You can buy it for $65 at Mondoshop.com.



And don't forget Godzillafest is coming up in August! The Planet 8 crew will be at Creatures-Con August 7th, and Bob will be selling passes for Godzillafest for $10 off at our table. Be sure to come see us and the fabulous guests at Creatures-Con in Orinda, California, including author David J. Skal and Sarah Karloff! 

That's all for now. Let us know what you thought of Thor, our review, what's going on with Phase 4, and anything else!

By the bristling beard of Odin!!

Friday, July 8, 2022

Episode 101: Help us, Obi-Wan Kenobi


One of the most anticipated TV series in years has just concluded its first season, and there's been a lot of talk about it, especially between the members of Planet 8. We're talking, of course, about Obi-Wan Kenobi, the latest Star Wars show on Disney Plus.

Picking up threads from the prequel trilogy and the Clone Wars series, the show follows up on a downtrodden Obi-Wan Kenobi, years after the devastation of the Jedi Order and the fall of the Republic. Obi-Wan lives an unremarkable life on Tatooine, making a living harvesting meat from gigantic desert beasts, and living in a cave not far from the Lars homestead, where he can watch over the young Luke Skywalker. However, through a turn of events, Obi-Wan is called back into service, and must ultimately confront his former friend and now greatest foe, Darth Vader.

One of the problems of doing a story like this, where you're dealing with events that take place in a character's past, is you know they can't be killed off or face serious physical jeopardy, so the focus is much more on their development and growth. The show managed to believably take us from a defeated, self-doubting Obi-Wan to one who has rediscovered his self-worth. It's rewarding to watch, mainly due to the wonderful acting skills of Ewan McGregor. He fully embodies the former Jedi knight and makes him relatable and sympathetic.

A true delight was the unexpected appearance of ten-year-old Princess Leia as portrayed by the marvelous Vivien Lyra Blair. She perfectly captured the spirit of Carrie Fisher's performance.

The introduction of the inquisitor Reva, played by newcomer Moses Ingram, brings to mind questions regarding how the Jedi council functioned -or didn't - and the idea of redemption and how that works in Star Wars. It seems like a person can be truly reprehensible but repent and then be completely redeemed. Does that make sense?

This series, along with Rogue One, helps establish Darth Vader as a true villain again. He and Obi-Wan have several encounters, with Ben getting the upper hand only at the end. The last battle also sets up their encounter in the original film, and explains Kenobi's somewhat cryptic remarks to Luke regarding his father. It's a bit of backwards dancing but it's done well.

All in all, we enjoyed the series. It provides some insight into established characters without breaking canon and gives us some new characters and developments that might allow for a season two. 

Our Sensor Sweep carries on the Star Wars theme, as Karen presents a fabulous book, Secrets of the Force: The Complete, Uncensored, Unauthorized Oral History of Star Wars by Mark A. Altman and Edward Gross. This hefty tome moves chronologically through the history of the Star Wars films, animated series, and The Mandalorian via interviews with the people who made them. It's a treasure trove of great stories and information for any Star Wars fan.

Big News: Your Planet 8 crew will be appearing live at Creatures Con! Held in Orinda, California on August 7,  all three of us -Larry, Bob, and Karen - will be hanging out at a table at the convention! The show is going to be a blast. This year author and film commentator David J. Skal will be a special guest, along with Sara Karloff, daughter of Boris Karloff,  and many others. The show is hosted by our good friend, Lord Blood-Rah, and  Tom Wyrsch, also friend of Planet 8. It's going to be a fantastic show, so please check it out. You can find all the info at http://www.creaturescon.com/. 

All right kids, that's it for this time. Please be good to each other and be safe!

Let us know what you think of Obi-Wan:

Utinni!!



Wednesday, June 22, 2022

Episode 100: We did it!


 

They said it couldn't be done. They said we would never make it. They said hot dogs are sandwiches. But despite the nay-sayers, and against all odds, we made it to our 100th episode! 

When we started the Planet 8 podcast, we had no idea we would reach this kind of milestone. But here we are. Despite the hiccup of Recon Officer Karen getting hit with Covid right before we were going to record our 100th episode, and having to delay a couple of weeks, we bounced back to bring you this episode, where we celebrate this milestone by throwing a party in the Planet 8 Officer's Club.  

It wouldn't be a party without guests, and we have quite a guest list! Through the miracle of science, we're able to reach through time and space and bring to Planet 8 a collection of actors, artists, and more who have all contributed to our love for science fiction, fantasy, and horror media. We discuss why we would want to have them at the party and what we'd talk to them about. Who would each of us invite? You'll have to listen to the episode to find out!

Rounding out our episode is our Sensor Sweep, this time focusing on upcoming events that Chief Engineer Bob will be putting on through his Bay Area Film Events group. First up, on August 12, 13, and 14th at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco, is the annual Godzillafest. This year's theme is "Gamera crashes Godzillafest" and Gamera the Brave will be shown, along with a number of other Gamera films. Bob and his partners will also be showing two films in 35 mm format, Terror of Mechagodzilla and Godzilla vs. Gigan. If you're in the Bay Area, don't miss this kaiju bash! They'll also have artists and vendors on site, so you can buy all sorts of goodies! Click here for more information.

On October 1,2, and 3, Ultraman will be coming to the 4 Star Theater in Chinatown! Details will be posted soon on the Bay Area Film Events site.

Listeners, we want to thank you for sticking with us, for posting comments on our site, Facebook, and Twitter. We appreciate your thoughts and being able to engage with you! Hearing from you and knowing you're out there is what keeps us going!

We would rather be with you people than with the finest people in the world!

Wednesday, June 8, 2022

Best of Planet 8: Road to Apocalypse!


 

Unfortunately part of your Planet 8 crew has been struck down by the Covid virus, causing us to delay our 100th episode! We hope you will enjoy this encore presentation of Episode 13, Road to Apocalypse, from November 8, 2018. We'll be back on the 22nd with episode 100!

Sunday, May 22, 2022

Episode 99: Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness


 

We're back with a spoiler-filled discussion of Marvel Studios' 28th film, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. Surprisingly, Bob and Karen both liked this movie more than Larry did! But we all enjoyed it. As usual, this film is bursting at the seams with guest appearances and all sorts of craziness. We'll do our best to examine the story and characters and share our thoughts on some of the plot points.

A big part of this movie is Wanda Maximoff, aka the Scarlet Witch, and it definitely helps if you've seen Wandavision before you plop your butt down in your seat to catch this film. Wanda's past and her motivations are at the center of the movie. We had a lot of feelings about this and her eventual fate.

This is not to say our titular hero doesn't get his fair share of time in the spotlight. This may be one of Dr. Strange's best outings in the MCU, showing him in a more nuanced light. Of course, we get more than one Dr. Strange, as we are voyaging through the multiverse, and it's enlightening and enjoyable to see how different, and yet how alike, each version of Strange is. 

Traveling through the multiverse is a blast, if a bit condensed. But we do get to meet The Illuminati, a group of superheroes who believe they are the only ones who can make the important decisions that shape the world. It was quite a thrill to see who comprised this group, including some characters we'd never seen on screen before -and one we had, but not in the MCU. The scenes with them, while brief, were terrific.

Director Sam Raimi left his imprint on the film - this is not a bland or faceless production. All the hallmarks of a Raimi film are here, and as many have said, this does often feel like a horror film. There are several jump cuts and some genuinely scary scenes. But there's nothing grisly or gory. 

How will this lead into the remaining MCU films? Hard to say. We know we are getting more of the multiverse. But for now, Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness stands on its own as a solid Marvel production.

Our Sensor Sweep this time ties right into our film. Commander Larry gladly presents The Book of the Vishanti: A Magical Exploration of the Marvel Universe. Described as  "the ultimate collection of spells, history, and personal accounts recorded by practitioners over centuries, including notes from Doctor Strange himself." This hardbound book can be purchased from your local bookseller or bought online. Who needs to go study with the Ancient One? Just buy this book!


We also have some sad news. After a long battle with cancer, legendary comics artist George Perez has passed away. You can't sum up his career in a sentence or two. He was an incredible artist who did landmark work on titles like New Teen Titans, Crisis on Infinite Earths, Wonder Woman, Avengers, and so many more. Beyond his artwork, he was known for being one of the nicest people in comics. His passing is a huge loss. We send our condolences to his loved ones.

That's it for now. Thanks again for tuning in, and for your support for the podcast. And hey, episode 100 is right around the corner! Please share your thoughts, on the movie, or anything else:

By the Hoary Hosts of Hoggoth!

Sunday, May 8, 2022

Episode 98: The State of Star Trek

 

There's never been a time like this: no less than five Star Trek series on the air at the same time! You would think Trekkies (trekkers?) would be rejoicing. But, not so. While some fans are enjoying these new iterations of Star Trek, other fans are gnashing their teeth. In this episode, the Planet 8 crew, along with our guest Lord Blood-Rah, discuss the state of Star Trek - what it has meant to us, what it is now, and where we hope it is going.

For all four of us, our love of Star Trek started with the original series. We grew up watching Kirk, Spock and crew on their adventures. Through them, we felt excitement and wonder, and learned about loyalty, duty, friendship, mercy, and more. Classic Trek offered up morality plays that deeply imprinted on our minds. Our expectations and definitions for everything Star Trek flows from the first series. 

This has been an issue with every new Trek series that followed. People forget, but even when The Next Generation premiered, fans denounced it as not being "real Star Trek." So it has been with every series since. But what constitutes "real" Star Trek? We share our thoughts about what is essential, what lies at the core of Trek.

Throughout we'll weave in thoughts on the current Trek shows -although Strange New Worlds had not aired yet when we recorded this - with pros and cons aplenty. Beyond whether the new shows are truly Star Trek, are they even decent science fiction? Or well-written dramas? We go there!

Despite our misgivings, we do love Star Trek and remain hopeful for Strange New Worlds. We all agree that Anson Mount is a very charismatic man! Can he carry the show? Will going back to episodic story-telling be the right move? Time will tell.

This time around, instead of our Sensor Sweep, we have an In Memorium segment. Last week we lost legendary comic book artist Neal Adams. Adams was a massive talent, leaving a huge legacy. He may best be remembered for helping to remake Batman along with writer Denny O'Neill. Adams worked for both DC and Marvel and had outstanding runs on Deadman, Superman, The Avengers, and X-Men. Adams also campaigned for creator's rights and helped the creators of Superman, Jerry Siegel and Joe Schuster, regain rights to their character and get remuneration from DC. He was an important figure in the comics world and will be missed.

Also passing recently was artist James Bama, an artist best known to fans for his paperback covers for Doc Savage novels, and for the illustrations on the Aurora monster models boxes.

That's all this time. We hope you enjoyed the discussion! Share your thoughts: 

Live long and prosper