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Defying Gravity (2009)
Science aside, a dull show.
I do not have a physics degree. Of the many scientific inaccuracies, the only one that really pops to my mind was the almost comical handwave of why, with their spiffy nanoclothes, their hair wasn't affected by zero gravity (it's NANO HAIRSPRAY, because perfect hair is Just That Important).
No, I'm not here to complain about the (admittedly laughable) science.
There are two shows contained in one. The first show is a highly interesting one about a space mission where Things Go Really Wrong And It's A Big Mystery. That's INTERESTING, you are always wondering what's going to happen next, what could the solution be?
Then there's the other show, a drippy pointless melodrama about people training for This Big Mission, and who is screwing who, and who gets pregnant, and endless drama. There is a plot point: One of the characters got pregnant, and then got an abortion. Another crew member was the father. They go on about it, episode after episode. It's not alone either, there are enough for any soap opera. (The maker revealed, by the way, that had the series continued, we would have learned that one of the female characters was abandoned as a little girl, baby astronaut has a mysterious Space Pregnancy, and still *another* lady astronaut is actually a Man). It goes on, boring hour after boring hour.
Guess which show makes up 90% of this one?
It's infuriating because I would have really loved to see how the Actual Plot went, but no, half of every episode is flashbacks (or more, no exaggeration at all), forty percent is them angsting over the flashbacks, and ten percent is Real Plot.
It amounts to the most frustrating shows I've seen. The worst part is, if they just said 'she got pregnant with his baby and then got an abortion' in one episode, if they had one episode devoted to a character or little snippet about them, if they introduced the characters properly, it might actually work. They don't so it doesn't.
Lost Tapes (2008)
A refreshing change of pace.
Cryptozoology shows all have one thing in common: they don't have results. If they did, we'd have heard about it on the news long before the show could air. Instead, we get 'the best evidence out there' in some and absolutely nothing in others. As viewers, we can't hold it too much against them, it's an integral part of any field science. Even creatures that don't suffer from the 'they probably don't exist' problem can prove elusive.
I love shows like Monster Quest, Destination Truth, and Animal X. They appeal to the truly scientific side of me that hears the evidence and assigns probabilities, but there are only so many times they can scan Loch Ness. There are only so many bear footprints I can look at with the question 'was it Bigfoot'? Then, Animal Planet brought us Lost Tapes, a horror show with a cryptozoology theme.
Lost Tapes is about as academic as an episode of The X-Files. Instead of creating a show to please skeptics, it's more or less straight horror. It makes no claims that anything it has are real, doesn't expect us to believe anything about it. It frees them from having to give us the most credible critters out there. In fact, it frees them from *everything*. Instead, they can just make a show, and not another one where the *same* evidence is run over again and again without any conclusion. The science only invades the show long enough to explain the plot. Lost Tapes does not appeal to the same side as MonsterQuest, it appeals to the side of me that watches horror movies.
Lost Tapes suffers from a few problems. The acting isn't always great, the stock sounds can get a little tedious, the obsession with never allowing a clear shot of the monster of the day (see below) can often lead to some hilariously bad special effects. It's very, *very* clear that the show was shot without any budget to speak of.
On the other hand, given what they have to work with, it's very well done. Comparing the show to the Blair Witch Project is unfair. That movie was missing the whole 'scary' part, whereas this is not (some people actually *complain* that it's too scary...). The director understands that the more time a creature spends in camera, the less threatening it is (you get a maximum of one or two fuzzy glances per show). The show also does a good job of making the characters behave realistically. The Mexicans in the Chupacabra episode speak almost exclusively Spanish, the woman coming upon the remains of the beast's last kill says 'I'm going to leave this to the authorities!'.
Animal Planet would be wise to give them more money and resources to work with. It would be great if, for example, a few film crews found themselves falling victim to the nasty critters.
If you're a big skeptic looking for a highly scientific show, don't bother with this one. If you're into horror, this show is for you. I advise even the most die-hard skeptics to watch it the way they watch the X-Files (I remember *it's* first season special effects as being bad too). Despite its many flaws, this show blew me away.
Let's hope it's not too good to last.
Maybe remove the 'Bram Stoker's' from it
This movie is fine, seriously, if you like Dracula and have never read the book (nor do you ever intend to) and are completely ignorant about Vlad the Impaler, go ahead, you'll love it.
I, unfortunately, do not fit into either of those categories.
Dracula, in the book, is a *really* evil guy, there is no love between him and *anyone*. He's not mourning his lost love (one might say he's incapable of it). He's not going to London in search of anything. He's a sociopathic monster.
Instead, we get a lonely guy who just wants a hug and who doesn't want to hurt people.
No characters are spared.
Both Lucy and Mina are turned from virtuous women into, and I'll try to put it delicately, 'women of the night', ready to spread their legs for anyone who happens by so we get a few boob shots.
All of the men are turned into idiots at best, vindictive psychopaths bent on destroying Dracula for no particular reason at worst.
The part that gets me, though, is the connection to Vlad the Impaler. I, for everything I've read, all of the research I've done, can't fathom feeling sorry for him. It is written that Bram Stoker himself chose Dracula because he was (at the time) fairly obscure, and anyone who *had* heard of him would think "I say! That's nasty!" Case in point, his most pronounced victory over the Turks was accomplished by seriously freaking them out. He stopped a smaller force and took them, and anyone else he could find, put stakes up their bums (and out their mouths) and made a little forest. As I mentioned, the Turks were *seriously* freaked out.
As for his love story, he killed one of his wives, according to legend, by cutting her from snooch to neck to prove she was pregnant with another man's baby. No word on the results. He remarried.
That's not much with the movie though.
I feel like my largest problem is the creative licenses taken, and the places where it *isn't* taken. OK, I can't avoid spoilers anymore.
Every single sex scene in the movie, especially where Dracula is a big werewolf, I could do without. John Harker getting a BJ from the concubines, please.
Dracula had, what they call in some circles, his Rape the Dog moment. It was taken straight from the book. It fit with Bram Stoker's version, not with Coppola's: he goes out, finds a random baby, and brings it back to feed his concubines. Maybe he doesn't finish it all by himself, but make no mistake. Dracula starts off by eating a baby.
On the other hand, when Dracula is climbing down the wall, yes, they say in the book 'he climbed down like a lizard' and that is exactly what Gary Oldman did. I would have, I don't know, added some wind. He just looked like someone crawling on a flat surface. Just because *he* isn't affected by gravity, doesn't mean his massive cloak is the same.
What was the deal with the mice on the ceiling? Are they vampire mice? Are they trying to say that the wall climbing wasn't a vampire thing, but because of the liquid John Harker found? This movie felt more like Anne Rice's Dracula. Maybe they're sociopathic killers of the night, but they just want to be loved. Humans are bad for wanting to kill them.
If, however, you are halfway sane and have no plans of ever reading either the original book or anything about Vlad the Impaler, you'll love it. You even get a few boob shots.
By the way, if you've seen the baby and *do* want to read the book, by all means, go ahead. The two have very little to do with one another.