Thursday, July 22, 2021

Episode 79: Marvel Two in One -Black Widow and Loki!



Finally, the Black Widow movie has been released! It's been delayed over a year, but now it's out in the theater (as well as on Disney Plus), and your intrepid crew has made the journey back to the theater to check it out. In this SPOILER-FILLED review, we'll share our thoughts on the film and how it works with the Marvel Cinematic Universe. As a bonus, we also discuss the Disney Plus series  Loki, which takes the villain/anti-hero through an adventure that has major implications for the rest of the MCU.

Black Widow takes place between Captain America: Civil War and Infinity War, and provides a glimpse into Natasha's life before she became an Avenger. On the run from Thunderbolt Ross, Natasha winds up returning home after her long lost "Sister" contacts her, and she learns that the Red Room program that turned her into an assassin is still operating.

The Planet 8 crew discusses what we liked about the film, the performances, the little bits of connective tissue to other MCU films, and so much more. This film introduces some major characters, including Florence Pugh as Yelena Belova, aka the "other" Black Widow, David Harbour as the Red Guardian and the villain Taskmaster, whose identity is rather controversial. If nothing else, it was a great spotlight for Scarlett Johansson and a good send off for the character.

The Loki TV show was a mixed bag for the Planet 8 crew. Certainly Tom Hiddleston did a wonderful job in providing us with a Loki of real substance who goes through extensive character growth. The story itself was complex and with the timestream fractured, should feed directly into Spider-Man: No Way Home and Dr. Strange in the Multiverse of Madness. What other Marvel properties might we see come out of this? Phase 4 looks to be full of surprises!


Our Sensor Sweep brings us some great shows coming to the Bay Area. In August, there will be two Godzillafest shows at the  Balboa Theater in San Francisco.  On August 20-22, it will be King Kong Crashes Godzillafest, with a number of King Kong kaiju films as well as many Godzilla films, and special guest Linda Miller from King Kong Escapes. Then on August 27-29, it's Legendary Godzillafest, featuring many Legendary Godzilla films, with special guest TJ Storm, motion capture artist who played Godzilla. Both weekends will have vendors with tons of goodies. And there will even be a show t-shirt. Go to Bay Area Film Events to get all the info about tickets, what movies are going to be shown, and more!

We'd love to hear your thoughts on Black Widow and Loki! Did you go to the theater to see Black Widow? Was it your first time back in the theater? Let us know how you felt about the movie and your experience. As always, leave a comment here or hit us up at our other locales:

Dosvedanya!


Thursday, July 8, 2021

Episode 78: You Will Believe a Man Can Fly: Superman

 

To our American listeners, a belated happy 4th of July! As we celebrate our country's independence, we thought it appropriate to celebrate that all-American hero, who fights for truth, justice, and the American way -Superman! The Planet 8 crew revisits the classic 1978 Superman movie, which promised that we would believe a man could fly. And we did indeed! Actor Christopher Reeve remains iconic as the Man of Steel in this light-hearted film.


As always, we'll discuss the cast and crew, how the film came together, and our feelings about the film, from when we first saw it and now. Although Reeve was an unknown when cast as Superman, he was surrounded by an all-star cast, with actors such as Marlon Brando as his Kryptonian father, Jor-El, Gene Hackman as villain Lex Luthor, Ned Betty as Luthor's henchman, Otis, Glenn Ford as Pa Kent, and Jackie Coogan as Daily Planet editor Perry White. The cast absolutely makes the film, with Reeve and his utter sincerity in the role essential to selling it.


There's also a wonderful chemistry between Reeve and Margot Kidder as Lois Lane -although we could all live without Lois' "Can you read my mind?" segment! But the two actors are absolutely charming together.


The effects in the film are a mixed bag, but the most important effect -Superman's flying -still holds up and gives us a thrill. The way Superman flies in the movie is graceful and majestic -truly beautiful, and Reeve again is the element that clinches it, the way he moves his body and hands as he flies. Of course, the music also gives it a lot of oomph!


Speaking of music, who could forget the grand John Williams score? The Superman theme is unforgettable! Williams' soundtrack here is every bit as good as his work on Star Wars or Jaws or anything else from his catalog.


There's a reason that this film, even 40 plus years later, continues to show up on favorite super-hero film lists. It's just a fantastic film. As we prepare to release this episode, it has been announced that director Richard Donner has passed. He truly deserves so much credit for the success of Superman. He was greatly loved and respected by his cast and crew. Rest in peace.


For this episode's Sensor Sweep, Commander Larry shares the Hasbro Stormbreaker, Thor's hammer/axe. This thing is crazy! It's full size, about 4 feet long, and makes a racket! It also lights up. If you feel the need to be a thunder god, or fear you might have to protect yourself against a mad titan, go online and pick one up.

We hope you enjoyed this episode. Be sure to tell us about your first time seeing Superman. How do you feel about the movie today? As always, you can leave comments on the site, or go to our other hangouts:

Up, up, and away!!!!






Tuesday, June 22, 2021

Episode 77: Khaaaaaaan!



 

Arguably the best of the Star Trek film franchise, Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan remains an important and highly rewatchable entry in the franchise. It took the films into a more action-oriented direction, giving the audience a movie with both personal stakes and dazzling space battles. Director Nick Meyer got the very best out of actors William Shatner, Leonard Nimoy, and Ricardo Montalban, creating an intense struggle between our Enterprise crew and the twisted superman, Khan - despite the fact the rivals Kirk and Khan never share a scene physically together. Your Planet 8 crew is delighted to revisit this film on this episode.

We'll start with a quick look back at the classic Trek episode Space Seed. Beginning with the original story (where the Khan character was called Harold Ericson) and the changes to the script, we talk about how this episode developed and how it wound up influencing producer Harve Bennett to use it as the basis for the second film.

Moving to the film itself, we examine how that script evolved, and how it was necessary to keep the budget low. The film is essentially a "bottle show," with the action taking place mainly on the two ships (the Enterprise and the Reliant), which was actually the same set, redressed. Yet because of the excellent pacing and the suspense, it never feels claustrophobic or small.

There are many themes in the film, but foremost is the theme of aging and mortality. All of the cast had obviously grown older, and seeing our Captain having to struggle with middle age was striking, making him more human, and perhaps more sympathetic. Meyer said the secret to getting a great performance out of Shatner was essentially to tire him out; his first takes were always "big", so Meyer would make him do it over and over until he got bored!

But without a doubt, it is Ricardo Montalban's performance that steals the show. After years of doing Fantasy Island, even Montalban wasn't sure if he could carry off the role. But director Meyer worked closely with Montalban and elicited an amazing performance from him. And yes, that's his real chest!

Of course, you can't discuss Star Trek II without talking about Spock's death. At the time, it felt devastating to fans. It was beautifully done, but even now, it's heartbreaking. Does knowing that he returns in ST III diminish his sacrifice when watching the film now?  We also ponder what Trek might have been like if it had moved forward without Spock.

We close out with some thoughts on Star Trek: Into Darkness - it ain't pretty!

For the Sensor Sweep, Karen shares two books, both by Edward Gross and Mark A. Altman, called The Fifty Year Mission: The First Twenty Five Years, and The Fifty Year Mission: The Next Twenty Five Years: From The Next Generation to J.J. Abrams. These dense tomes are an oral history of the Star Trek franchise, as told by the writers, directors, producers, actors, and everyone else involved! They are highly entertaining and pretty much required reading if you are a Star Trek fan. You can find them on Amazon, or from other fine book sellers.

That's all for this episode. What are your feelings about Wrath of Khan? Have they changed over time? Let us know, either here, or at our other hangouts:

Khhaaaaaaaannnnnnn!


Tuesday, June 8, 2021

Episode 76: Planet 8 is Pulled into The Black Hole!

 


A disaster movie - in space! That was the original premise for what eventually became 1979's The Black Hole! Disney's first foray into sci fi, and its first PG rated film, The Black Hole is a strange mix of adventure, gothic horror, sci-fi, and kiddie camp. The Planet 8 crew is once again joined by our friend (and yours), Lord Blood-Rah, to dissect and discuss this unusual Disney film.

We get into some of the background on how the film came together, and the obvious influences from Star Wars. We also take a look at the crew and cast - which was rather eclectic, including everyone from Psycho's Anthony Perkins, Ernest Borgnine, voiceovers by Roddy McDowall and Slim Pickens, and Academy Award winner Maximillian Schell. The director, Gary Nelson, had done Freaky Friday for Disney, but that certainly doesn't seem like preparation for an effects film like this one! 

The tone of the film is wildly uneven. Are they trying to give us a serious, epic film like 2001, a scary film, a kiddie movie? Despite some of the issues we have with the film, there are some things we did enjoy. The overall design of the production, which can be credited to Peter Ellenshaw, is excellent. The Cygnus spaceship is a mammoth structure and looks amazing. The visuals of the black hole itself are also incredible.  We also liked the shock of discovering the zombified crew on the Cygnus - that was a truly chilling moment. We get a bunch of robots in this film, from cutesy ones like V.I.N.C.E.N.T., voiced by McDowall, to Dr. Reinhart's evil robot, Maximillian, who is one of the baddest robots around. And there are some thrilling moments with an asteroid collision, although it made very little sense! 

The film also features a score by John Barry, best known for his work on the James Bond films, and the soundtrack might be a highlight. Interesting fact: this film and Star Trek: The Motion Picture, which also came out in December 1979,  are the last two films to feature an overture at the beginning of the film.

Probably the main thing anyone who has seen the film will remember is the ending, because it is just so bizarre. Apparently, the film-makers didn't have an ending when they were shooting the film. They put together the ending we have, with its Biblical connotations, because...well, no one knew what to do! So you can interpret the ending however you please.  But it was certainly unexpected for a Disney film!

The Black Hole is now available for viewing on Disney Plus. If you haven't seen it, or it's been a very long time since you've seen it, give it a look. This is definitely an unusual offering from Disney, and a real artifact from the 70s.

Just for fun, we discuss how we would do a remake of The Black Hole. Disney, are you listening? 

This episode's Sensor Sweep turns the spotlight on Lord Blood-Rah. Coming this August 7th, he will be hosting the Universal Monster Party at the Orinda Theater in Orinda, California. This will be a celebration of the 90th anniversary of the classic Universal monster films, and they will show Dracula, Frankenstein, and The Wolfman. Also present will be author and film commentator David J. Skal and film host John Stanley. There will be vendors and a costume contest, as well as an after-party. Tickets are available at Creaturescon.com. Tickets will be limited, and may sell out, so order soon! Our friend Lord Blood-Rah has also been nominated for the Horror Host Hall of Fame! We wish him the best of luck with that well-deserved honor.

Let us know what you think of this episode, and of The Black Hole. Did you see it as a kid? Have you seen it since? What do you think? Let us know, either in the comment section here or at our other locations:

Nothing escapes the Black Hole!!

Sunday, May 23, 2021

Episode 75: Get to the Choppa! It's The Predator!


 

That's right, this time on Planet 8, we take on that ugly mutha f#@%! -The Predator! An iconic creature design, and a classic original film, your crew takes a look at not only that first film, but the maybe not so great films that followed! 

The 1987 Predator, starring Arnold Schwarzenegger, is one of the great sci fi action films, but the Predator itself went through many changes before we got the amazing alien hunter we see on screen. We'll go through all the mis-fires and how we eventually got the brilliant design from legendary Stan Winston and his team. Of course, you have to bring the suit to life, and we can't forget the portrayal of the Predator by the late Kevin Peter Hall. He gave the Predator a real sense of intelligence and personality.

The first film also featured a very entertaining cast as the special crack team of commandos. Besides Arnold as the leader, Dutch, there was Jesse Ventura, Bill Duke, Sonny Landham, and Carl Weathers. This strong set of characters contributes to the enjoyment of the film, so that the viewer is glued to the screen even when the Predator is not around. 

Predator moves from action film to sci fi to horror and back around again, but does it flawlessly, with perfect pacing, keeping the suspense going in the early parts, right up to the final battle between Dutch and the Predator. It's hard to find fault in this film. Even Alan Silvestri's score is perfect!

However, the subsequent cinematic appearances of the Predator have never measured up to the first one. Predator 2, with Danny Glover, Gary Busey, Ruben Blades, Maria Conchita Alonso, and Bill Paxton, was set in Los Angeles in 1997 (released in 1990) and featured a new predator hunting in the sweltering city. While it's still fun seeing the Predator, it just isn't as interesting as the original. The cast doesn't gel as well. But there are some cool bits, especially towards the end when Glover faces the Predator and enters his spaceship.

The further we get away from the original, the more the quality suffers. AVP -Alien vs. Predator - seems like a sure fire concept, but it was a bit of a mess. AVP:Requiem -well, we didn't even rewatch it! 2010's Predators is somewhat entertaining, but we all agree, Adrien Brody was miscast as the tough special forces guy. It had some nice variations on the basic predator design though. But the worst of all the follow ups was 2018's The Predator - there are stories that this film was heavily rewritten and edited, but even so, good lord, what a terrible film.

While not an official Predator film, a flick we do love is the short film Batman: Dead End, which features the Dark Knight versus both Predators and Aliens. You can see it here on YouTube.

Will anyone ever be able to make another truly terrific Predator movie? What would it take? Is it just a limited concept? What do you think?













For our Sensor Sweep this time, Recon Office Karen shares one of her beloved pieces from her collection, her Sideshow Legendary Scale Bust of the unmasked Predator. This was produced in 2011 and is still available from certain stores and on eBay. It's about 16" high and has all the fine detail we've come to expect from Sideshow. So if you're a big fan of the Predator, you might want to hunt it down!

That's all for this time. Let us know what you think of the different Predator films, and what we discussed in this episode.

Remember: If it bleeds, we can kill it!


Saturday, May 8, 2021

Episode 74: Planet 8's Top Ten Sci Fi Films of All Time!

 


Welcome all to Planet 8's third anniversary episode! Yes, we have been doing this insanity for three years now. We thought the best way to celebrate would be to tackle the biggest question we could think of: what are the ten best science fiction films of all time?

Through an arcane process which we describe in the episode, we devised a list of ten great science fiction films. Now these are not necessarily our favorite films, but the films which we think are the most influential, most impactful, unique, and had artistic and/or technical achievements which set them apart. 

It was surprising to us which films we agreed upon, and which ones only one of us selected. But there were just so many great films to choose from. It was very difficult to cut some films, or choose between certain films in a series. 

We also noted that all of our selections fell between the 1950s and 1980s. Maybe it has to do with giving a film time to build a legacy. Or it could be we're just old farts who prefer older films!

If you want to be surprised by what films we chose, then skip over the section below. Otherwise, proceed! 


Planet 8's Top Ten Science Fiction Films of All Time

10.  Robocop

9. Tie - Predator and Empire Strikes Back 

8. War of the Worlds (1953)

7. 2001: A Space Odyssey

6. Forbidden Planet

5. The Thing (1982)

4. Alien

3. Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)

2. Planet of the Apes (1968)

1. Star Wars

 We're sure this list may inspire some debate -we know it did with us! While these are all fine films, you can make an argument for where they should be positioned in the list, or if other films should take their place in the top ten. For some more insight into our thought processes, here are our individual lists.

Bob's List

  1. Forbidden Planet
  2. War of the Worlds (1953)
  3. Alien
  4. Day the Earth Stood Still (1951)
  5. Star Wars
  6. Planet of the Apes
  7. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1956)
  8. The Thing (1982)
  9. Blade Runner
  10. Close Encounters of the Third Kind
Karen's List
  1. 2001: A Space Odyssey
  2. Star Wars
  3. Empire Strikes Back
  4. Planet of the Apes
  5. Alien
  6. The Thing (1982)
  7. The Matrix
  8. The Thing (1951)
  9. Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
  10. Quatermass and the Pit
Larry's list
  1. Star Wars
  2. Planet of the Apes
  3. Predator
  4. Robocop
  5. Day The Earth Stood Still (1951)
  6. Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan
  7. The Thing (1982)
  8. Blade Runner
  9. Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
  10. Forbidden Planet
What about the films we left off? Hard choices had to be made. Of course, we love Logan's Run but had to admit it was not top ten material. And no Star Trek films on the list? Sadly, it's true. 


We would really like to hear from you about what you would put on your top ten - again, not your favorites, but what are the best? Send us your thoughts and we will follow up on them in a future episode.

We've covered a number of these films we're talking about. If you'd like to go back and listen to those episodes, check these out:


This makes us realize that there are many more films that we need to cover! No danger of running out of material here on Planet 8.



Seeing as it is our third anniversary, we want to send out a special thanks to all of you who have been following the show. We didn't know we were going to be doing this for three years, but they have just flown by! We're still having a blast, and most of that is due to you listening and contacting us. So we hope you'll stick with us and continue on along the journey!


You also have one week until Bay Area Film Event's Godzilla's Monster Bash at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco. On May 14-16 they will show ten classic Godzilla films, and there will be vendors and guests! It should be a great event, so if you're in the area, be sure to come out. You can get more info and tickets at  http://bayareafilmevents.com/godzillafest

This wraps up our episode. Let us know what you thought. Leave a comment on the site, or you can contact us at:
Remember: Klaatu Barada Nikto!


Thursday, April 22, 2021

Episode 73: Bugged by The Fly!


 

What's that buzzing past your shoulder? A tiny fly? How annoying! Now imagine that you and that fly have somehow become inextricably joined, with you taking on the traits and even the physical aspects of the insect. This is the horror of The Fly, both the original 1958 film and the 1986 remake. On this episode we explore the concepts and stories of The Fly films, including the later sequels of the original film. We are joined once again by our good friend and honorary crew member, Lord Blood-Rah!

The original film was based on a short story that appeared in (of all places) Playboy magazine. A scientist experimenting in teleportation accidentally merges himself physically with a fly in a failed experiment and gradually loses his humanity. The film largely follows the short story.  Vincent Price stars as the brother of the scientist, in a rare sympathetic role. David Hedison (billed as Al Hedison) plays the scientist, driven to perfect teleportation, but tragically doomed by his own ambition. Your Planet 8 crew discusses the the film in detail.

Naturally we compare it to the 1986 Jeff Goldblum remake. Obviously the David Cronenberg-helmed 1986 film was much more grotesque, focusing on body horror, on the absolute degradation of the transformation. But it is also a love story, with Geena Davis playing the romantic interest. Certainly there's a lot going on in the film that speaks to fear of what can happen to us and our bodies that is timeless.


There's also a lot of plain goofing around in this episode too, but hey, what did you expect?

This episode's Sensor Sweep is from Chef Engineer Bob. Appropriately he shares the book, The Fly at 50, from Bear Manor Media (it's readily available at Amazon). Everything you want to know about the making of this sci-fi classic is in this book.

Bob also reminds us that there's still time to get tickets for Godzilla's Monster Bash at the Balboa Theater in San Francisco, held May 14-16. Ten classic Godzilla films will be shown. Go to  http://www.bayareafilmevents.com/godzillafest for more info.

Lord Blood-Rah starts season 11 of his Nerve Wrackin' Theatre on May 7th. The season kicks off with the Karloff classic, The Ghoul. Go to http://www.lordbloodrah.com/ to find the best way to see Lord Blood-Rah's Nerve Wrackin' Theatre. Also, Lord Blood-Rah's Patreon is going strong,  and at the $10 level you get access to Lord Blood-Rah's Cathode Zone. There will be a special giveaway for Patreon members on May 1st.

Karen made a guest appearance on our friend Billy Dunleavy's podcast. Magazines and Monsters. Billy covers sci fi films and Silver, Bronze, and Copper age comics. Karen and Billy reviewed an obscure British sci fi film from the 60s called The Unearthly Stranger.

Bonus: Commander Larry and Chief Engineer Bob will appear on the May 1st episode of Creature Features! Shown on KOFY TV in the Bay Area, you can go to Creaturefeatures.TV, or find them on ROKU, or YouTube. The film for that episode is The Manster.

Once again, thank you listeners for joining us. Be sure to share your thoughts about The Fly -any and all versions!

This episode is dedicated to Trixie