Saturday, March 31, 2012

Primeval: My Latest Obsession

I don't normally find it necessary to mention spoilers; however, I will be dividing this post into two sections. The broad commentary, then the spoiler-ridden part that assumes you're already familiar with the plot-lines. This will also be rather a long post. Just so you know.

On with the broad commentary: I tend to watch a random assortment of things on Netflix, as one does. Genre only defines things to a certain degree, which is evidenced by the fact that Netflix will suggest things to me in which I am not at all interested based on other things I watched that are supposedly similar. But sometimes I take Netflix's random suggestions. Primeval was getting thrown at me, so I eventually added it to my instant queue. It seemed like it would be a little . . . tacky.

Which I suppose you can say that it is. It's interesting to look at comments on this show. Everyone admits faults in the first episode, particularly concerning the CG, but many of us were quickly able to move past that. Most people feel the need to state outright that the show isn't perfect, but those who like it really like it.

So let me say that I agree with some of this: the CG starts off weak (though you have to admit that 2007 is a long time ago in terms of computer effects, and TV effects are never going to be the same as movie ones). There are some plot holes in the writing, though it's sometimes hard to distinguish the plot holes from things that just haven't been revealed yet. But it's okay: I enjoyed the show, anyway. There's a little action, a little drama, a little suspense/conspiracy/whatnot. And it's the characters you want to see and learn more about. It's British sci-fi; I admitted to myself from the start that I probably wouldn't be as interested if it weren't British, but what's wrong with that? A show being British means more than just what the accents sound like (which are wonderful in their own right, of course). To imagine Primeval not being British is to imagine a completely different show.

Moving right along, let's bring in the spoilers.


I think Connor became my favorite character from episode one, based off of such traits as his nerdiness, his nerdy fashion sense, his smile, his accent, and did I mention the way he dresses? Abby slowly started to win me over, too, until the pair became the show in my mind. And they do end up becoming the constant factor, the only members of the team to be there from start to finish. Their character arc is handled nicely: they never change, but they do develop. Outwardly, they gain more knowledge/awareness, but they also grow a little wiser about serious issues. They came back, in particular, from their year in the Cretaceous completely altered (yes, I am using altered as different from changed). Abby smiles less and Connor chickens out less (which probably only happened most in the first season, anyway). They're also officially a couple, which is . . . cool. Talking clothes again, Connor lost a little of his weird way of dressing when they got back, but I also noticed that he and Abby started wearing almost identical outfits. My theory is that neither of them cares much about material things anymore, so when they returned from a year away, they just went together on a quick shopping trip and bought the same items in men's and women's versions. I love Connor and Abby; if they had a two person show together, I would be happy.

Not that I don't have opinions on the other characters, too. Cutter reminds me of the western hero in the way that he stands off on his own. He's a very reactionary character. Connor initiates more action than Cutter: he's the one who brings everyone to the first creature investigation and the one who invents the devices to detect anomalies, close anomalies, and create anomalies. Cutter just thinks about things, assesses the situations, tries to help, sometimes tries to look for Helen and sometimes to stop Helen. Because he kept so much to himself, I don't think the show necessarily lost much when he died.

Stephen is different. I sort of liked him at first: he and Cutter had a nice partnership. When they were working together as friends, their characters complemented each other. But bring Helen into the picture and Stephen loses something. He and Cutter at odds was sad to see, and the more Stephen lets Helen draw him in, the less sympathy I have for him. He became sort of useless by the end of the second season: all he did was avoid the team and let Helen know what they were up to, it seems.

Ah, Helen. I'm split on her. She's played quite well and makes a convincing baddie. But she always appears to know (and be hiding) more than we ever find out she knew. Again, this is, if anything, an issue with writing. But she was a good antagonist for the show, while she lasted (you almost want to admire how many characters die in this show--that's a failure Star Trek never overcame, though no one really cares/complains). Fan theories about her reappearing remind me of those in Narnia-dom that argue about whether or not the Lady of the Green Kirtle in The Silver Chair is actually the White Witch.

Two characters that came to have more importance at a slow, nice pace were Lester and Becker. They were just the bureaucrat and "action man" (to quote Connor) at first, until I found myself pausing to realize that I liked their characters. Contrary to their slow integration were the characters introduced in Season 4. From Lester's intro, I was scared that Abby and Connor were gone--that would have been too much. Even when the two came back, still I was reluctant about the newbies for a while. Jess (I know, this is a childish criticism) I didn't like at first because I thought she was flirting Connor, though that's really just her personality. Matt I didn't much like because there was so much suspicion set up around his character; even after he gained Abby's trust, there was just something distant about him.


Understand that I grew up watching Star Trek, from an early enough age that I'm still forming my opinion on it. I don't consider myself a fan of sci-fi, but I think there are certain traits in it that draw me in. Sci-fi is an opportunity to combine action and drama. I like a little action, but I need more than just straight action or I get bored. So if sci-fi adds in that drama element, I get both. Primeval has both. There is the Abby/Connor sweet relationship, also whatever is going on with Helen, Matt/Emily, and Jess/Becker. Plenty of couples there, but none of it is over-the-top (some of the stuff with Helen is a little random, but, oh, well).

And while you have action, it's integrated with nerdiness. Cutter and Connor looking in such awe at the creatures that they recognize from fossils, a little distracted from any danger. The nerdiness is a big factor on this show: it's the reason most of the first characters are a part of everything and it's what allows them to take steps forward.

I think TV shows used to be more about individual episodes of similar events; now they are more about continuing plotlines. Primeval does both. The problem with the overarching stories here is that they have to come to an end; then you have to either stop or invent new ones. That's why Seasons 4 and 5 are so different from Seasons 1-3. And that's why:

Future works:

It's strange coming into this show with five seasons already out and just the slightest possibility of a sixth season dangling in the air. But it seems very slight. In any case, it won't be until next year and we know that they would have to reintroduce yet another reworking/new overarching plot. The show, as it is, came to a nice ending. I can leave the story there. But I really want just one last lap, one last chance to finish up with Abby and Connor.

Because of that last sentence, I'm hesitant about Primeval: New World. Set in North America, it will have new characters, although Andrew-Lee Potts will return in a cameo of Connor in the first episode. But can the show have strength without the characters we've come to love? Will it be at all the same? The Britishness will be gone, too, after all. Will anomalies be all we have left, and will they be enough?

The same goes for the rumors of a Primeval movie. We know Warner Brothers bought the rights a long time ago now and that it's still in the works as a possibility. But once again, it very likely will have no Abby & Connor. I would be so excited if it did . . . that could make a nice way to end five seasons (assuming that, after all, they won't make more). But with different characters, it would just be another sci-fi movie that I may or may not enjoy.

Final statements:

Whatever is coming for the series in the future, I have enjoyed these five seasons and found their no-more-than-ten-episodes-each too short. It's a silly show with fun humor that just happens to coincide with action about dinosaurs and future predators and drama about character relationships and developments. Pure, fantastical entertainment.

March Favorites

1) Primeval - I really shouldn't keep starting new TV shows--I just end up addicted until I've watched all available episodes. This particular one is British sci-fi; although the first season is from 2007, I think I am among many Americans just now discovering it (which likely has something to do with it streaming on Netflix). But I have, in fact, so much to say about this show that it will have to wait for a later post.

2) Revlon's Lip Butter - Having heard much about this product, I finally picked one out in Sweet Tart. Although the shade is perhaps a darker pink than I need, it's a nice product. It works much like a tinted lip balm, but is more pigmented, yet not at all like a lipstick. It has a small sheen or luster, but not high gloss--a positive for me. My complaint is actually about the container: the top/lid/whatever-you-call-it is too tight--it should be easier to remove.

3) Crafty painting - Sometimes I like to do things with my hands, whether it's pretending to sew or paint. Now, I have a black jewelry box that I have never particularly liked, but just used because it was convenient (it used to be my mom's--she didn't like it particularly, either). So while listening to the audio for a book for class (I don't do this often), I covered it in coats of acrylic craft paint and added some flowers. I had to be sure and not go overboard with the craftiness; a little offbeat is fine, but I didn't want it to be too much. I think I found the right balance.

 The top section:
 And the side:

4) Graphite pencil sculpture - I actually got this one for Christmas, but kept forgetting to add it to the list. I first spotted it at the Phoenix Art Museum's gift shop, but you can also buy them online. They're beautiful, and you can write with them if you so desire. Yes, the entire piece is graphite.

5) Barse silver and pearl necklace - I have had this necklace for years--there is something in it that I find both delicate and sturdy. The pearls provide the former and the silver piece the latter.

6) Belt buckle necklace - At least, I suppose that's what it is. I found it at a craft table at an event last month and instantly befriended it. Things like this remind me of what labels like Lucky Brand try to recreate--but why pay their prices when you can buy a $10 piece like this that is both unique and repurposed?

7) Fireflight's Now - My intention had been to do a separate post for this album, but I never had enough incentive to. While it's nice enough and has some good songs, it isn't my favorite overall of Fireflight's work. I find their music most inspiring when it is loud and, frankly, confused/unsure (before being drawn back into comfort--the way the songs in Unbreakable work); if I want a quieter, more methodical sound, I can turn on Philip LaRue. Still, it's an album worth getting, and I think the weaker songs (every album has them, whoever the artist) are stronger than they were on For Those Who Wait.

8) The sun - As I was riding my bike yesterday, I started to smile at the feel of the sun, the feel of warmth. As I have said before, heat is a force that is endearing and attractive because it is impossible to ignore. The temperature has yet to reach ninety, but we're moving up into the eighties now; summer doth begin to speak.

9) Noah's ark - Not the actual ark, but a picture I found at an antique store. It has an interesting artistry to it and makes a nice addition to my over-packed walls (although it's actually hanging in a fairly empty space near my desk).

10) Fingerless gloves - These are in thought only as it is much too warm by now to wear mine, especially since they are elbow length. But I so much want to; you will recognize the influence if you have also watched the aforementioned TV show, in which a certain character often wears such gloves (in the first three seasons, that is).

Friday, March 9, 2012

Thoughts On The Host After Watching Hanna

When the announcement first came that Saoirse Ronan had been cast as Melanie/Wanderer in The Host, I was confused or disappointed or some such thing. Melanie has a rather detailed physical description, and Saoirse doesn't really fit it; she is also rather younger. Considering that The Host has marked differences from Twilight, but that the media would see greater similarities, I wasn't thrilled about this age difference. None of it really seemed to make sense.

But here are my thoughts now. A Vogue spread (in December, I believe) showed that Saoirse Ronan is one of those people who can look different ages--so, in theory, even if she is younger than Melanie, she should be able to look Melanie's age. Further, it may be useful to have a younger actress: she will easily be able to play Melanie in the flashback scenes and, if a certain amount of time elapses before the second and third movies are made, she will still be young enough to return to the role (assuming that the second and third books will still involve Melanie and that she will still be around the same age).

Last night, I also watched Saoirse in Hanna. Any spy-related film isn't something I'm likely to watch, but I was intrigued by the similarities between Hanna and Melanie/Wanderer. The survival instinct is there, of course. Then in a couple of shots of Hanna walking through the desert, I was giggling at the fact that these could almost be shots of Wanderer. So I've grown convinced that, even if she doesn't look entirely like Melanie, Saoirse can still play her. Considering the way that Hanna doesn't have an exorbitant amount of lines in this movie, yet her face still expresses much, Saoirse will probably also be adept at showing outwardly the internal dialogues of Melanie and Wanderer.

I can never decide if I'm excited to watch The Host or not. I have quite a soft spot for it simply because it takes place in Arizona . . . and it's difficult to see other people's perspectives on something you have that kind of affection for. But we'll see.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

Wristbands, Wristbands

Yesterday, I got my wristband in the mail for donating to The Hillywood Show's Breaking Dawn Parody. Wristbands aren't normally my thing (since I have inevitably skinny wrists--even if I lifted weights all day or ate cupcakes all day, they would stay the same), but I can't resist one like this. I intend to wear it on a daily basis . . . whether or not that plan will last long, I can't say. The loose band does, after all, fit halfway to my elbow, so I may neglect wearing it soon enough. But if I can learn to be accustomed to it dangling on my wrist, perhaps I will keep up the habit. Perhaps, too, it may encourage me to wear more bracelets. (I do have a few, after all, though the one I actually wear occasionally is a metal band from World Market that I can wear above the elbow.)

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Star Wars in 3D

At least, I am told the movie was in 3D--it certainly cost the extra two dollars and I did wear my lovely 3D glasses to watch it. But the effect was a little disappointing; 3D done well can just add so much to a movie. The Voyage of the Dawn Treader was probably one of the first times I realized this (even though, of course, that movie wasn't initially filmed for 3D--they just had a lot of postproduction time to work on it), and the 3D of Deathly Hallows last summer was rather amazing at times.

I can't speak for the technical side: I don't know what differences there are in making a movie 3D that is twelve years old versus one made today. I imagine that this allows you to do less . . . at least I hope this was the case because Star Wars did not have the best 3D moments. Some were good, and I do believe there was an overall added clarity, but mostly I was just excited to see this movie in theatres for the first time. As I mentioned when I talked about Beauty and the Beast in 3D, it's different seeing a movie on the big screen instead of on a VHS at home.

As I think we all know, there were some minor adjustments to the film itself. Most of them were small, fairly inconsequential things. There were nice added shots of the cities (similar to the adjustments made on the original trilogy) that I certainly wouldn't want to complain about. The odd thing was the addition to the pod race, the scene already infamous for being long. Okay, the bits added were interesting to see--they showed how Anakin managed to win the race, but I don't know if they were completely necessary . . . I guess it doesn't matter, anyway.

Still, I have a weakness for Star Wars, and even if I consider myself primarily a fan of the original trilogy, I'm not so against the prequel trilogy as, er, most people are. I was glad for the chance to see this movie in a theatre, even if the 3D element was very little to boast of (let's hope it will be better next time), and I will certainly look forward to watching the next five movies likewise in the years to come.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

Struck by Hugo

I'm just going a little insane here, so what better way to recover than to blog?

Less than an hour ago, I finished watching Hugo. Its trailer had made it seem to be a nice movie that I might enjoy watching, but I never got the chance to while it was in theatres. Then it was so popular at the Oscars, so I quickly moved it to the very top of my Netflix queue to try and get it before everyone else did. During my break from schoolwork, I slipped the DVD into my laptop . . . and I emerged two hours later. I have somewhat succeeded in occupying my mind since then with some delicious potatoes, but when I tried to settle into some more reading (I'm being forced to read Pride and Prejudice again), I just couldn't. There are some movies that take a little time to recover from, and Hugo was one of those for me.

I feel like this is also one of those movies (like Remember Me, although for different reasons) that the less you know going in, the better. You have to just sit and let it take you in and let it flow.

The first bits have cinematography to delight your eyes and charm to delight your mind. It seems an odd comparison, but certain sections reminded me of Amelie--in a more, er, innocent way, I guess you could say. The character of Hugo is wonderful . . . maybe something like how Oliver Twist would have been to his original audience (before he became such an archetypal character, I mean). Besides Amelie and Oliver, Hugo reminds me slightly of Sarah (from A Little Princess); his circumstances are not completely opposite to hers, either.

The other characters are nice, as well, and the story unfolds with a balance of suspense (that word just doesn't sound right . . . ) and heart (that doesn't seem like the best word, either). It's a lovely movie. I do feel that something in it could have been taken just slightly to a higher level; just some tweaking I think could have made it into an absolutely brilliant movie. As it was, I felt like it maybe could benefit from that extra nudge.

Yet this was a delightful movie, one I won't be forgetting quickly. Its use of scene makes it both beautiful and thoughtful. Yes, it definitely has touches from the three stories I mentioned, which is funny considering how much thought I have been giving to A Little Princess lately: I caught sight of the leather-bound Barnes & Noble edition of that book and have been coveting it since, which means that I have also been going over how wonderful I think that book is--it is innocent, imaginative, tender, and heartbreaking. These are traits that Hugo shares.

My conclusion: oh, dear, I just added two more books to my Amazon wish list (the movie companion is the second). As if I didn't have enough to read without also having twenty books waiting to be bought.

(And I realize that this was probably an even more rambling post than usual--remember, I did say that I wrote it to cure my temporary insanity. I believe it worked: I should be able to focus on other things now. Also note that this rambling is why I usually give at least twenty four hours before commenting on things.)