Jack’s Bad Movies – Robinson Crusoe on Mars (1964)

IMDB’s description:

Stranded on Mars with only a monkey as a companion, an astronaut must figure out how to find oxygen, water, and food on the lifeless planet.

Has there every been a movie poster that was truthful?

This movie opens in space orbiting Mars. Two astronauts, Mack (Adam West) and Christopher Draper (Paul Mantee) are in orbit with a monkey. Suddenly an asteroid is on an intercept course with them. The thing about space is, it is really big, and so a minor change in course becomes pretty dramatic as you orbit a planet. Anyways, they do a couple of major maneuvers to dodge the asteroid, and they slip into a decaying orbit around Mars. NASA tells them they have to eject.

Christopher aka Kit, hits Mars and is immediately attacked by what I can only describe as a Fire Elemental. He hides in his ship wreckage (like a coward) and then immediately takes off his helmet. After a few minutes he decides Mars’ atmosphere is not breathable.  It can’t be all that bad though, because he spends the rest of the first half of the movie opening his visor to occasionally suck down a little oxygen from tanks and to talk into his recording device.Why he didn’t immediately turn into some bug-eyed mutant like in Total Recall is anyone’s guess.

This movie is basically just a cheap rehash of the critically acclaimed The Martian and the film makers tried to shameless hide this fact by releasing Robinson Crusoe on Mars 51 years before that movie hit theaters.

Kit is low on food, water, but most importantly oxygen. He finds a cave, which looks like a multicolored version of the Fortress of Solitude, and makes a base camp. He figures he knows where Adam West went down, and it probably banking on finding Batman’s utility belt, complete with a Mars Atmosphere Rebreather spray or something. He travels for some time over the bleak Martian landscape, stopped only by occasional bizarre bouts of fire and Fire Elementals, which appear to rule Mars.

Eventually he finds the other pod and runs down a slope to get to it. When he gets near the wreckage, he shouts for Mack, but doesn’t find him. Instead he finds a severed arm with a class ring on one of the fingers. Do astronauts wear class rings into space? Apparently. Then suddenly Mona the Monkey appears. She is wearing a spacesuit, but has no visor. Kit takes the helmet off, saying she obviously doesn’t need it (for reasons that are never explained). and then steals her oxygen tanks. They are puny and worthless though. He returns to the cave.

He notices certain rocks inexplicably burn on Mars, and so with some experimenting he gets some lit and has heat. This is the point where he is going to mimic the explosion Matt Damon has when he makes his water maker in The Martian, and I hung on the edge of my seat as Kit took his air hose from his suit and put it next to his rock and kindling to light. Tragically this movie failed to capture that humorous event, and there was no explosion.

Somehow he decides that if he bakes the rocks in a pressure cooker, he can distill water and also get oxygen (possibly also moonshine), so he does this. He says something like “Mona doesn’t seem to need water, because she disappears for hours at a time but never has any interest in food or water.” At this point I realize that Kit is an idiot. Would you believe it takes him a significant amount of time to realize that Mona has probably found food and water somewhere? Well believe it.

Pressure cook rocks for water and air.

Finally he follows the monkey and discovers a pool of water with a strange type of plant in it that produces Frank hot-dogs. That is what they look like, and he calls them sausages.

Flash forward to four months from the crash, Kit is becoming increasingly more hostile towards Mona for her refusal to speak to him. I’m pretty sure he has forgotten she is a monkey. I mean, he already forgot she required the same resources as he did to survive, so Kit is pretty forgetful. Kit has an audio record he frequently uses (again ala The Martian, so shameless). He finally decides to try and cook one of the sausages, and he and Mona end up having some kind of bad LSD trip. During this manic drug induced episode, Adam West comes to visit him, but refuses to talk to him. Kit notes in his log that the isolation is killing him.

After that, he randomly decides to go for a super long walk with Mona. Then he sees a strange black rock protruding from the gravel. Below it? A humanoid skeleton with a strange bracelet. Now Kit gets super paranoid. All this while the command module for his spaceship has been circling Mars and he has futilely yelled at it to land, now he decides to detonate it. He also removes the grave marker he made for dead Batman.

Literally like an hour after that, his rader (he salvaged a radar and an audio tape / VCR from his wreckage) picks up an object in the sky. He sees a ship land on the horizon. Believing himself to be saved, he races towards it. When he arrives, there are alien ships pointlessly blasting the crap out of the Mars surface. Kit pulls out the world’s worst VHS camcorder and shoots some footage of the event, all the while rocks exploding around him.

Sudden a man appears next to him. Other than his dark hair this man is basically Yor, he wears no shirt, has unusual jewelry, and destruction follows him whenever he goes. Kit promptly takes him back to his cave. Kit reviews his video and sees a lot of slaves and men in space suits with laser rifles. He names this seemingly deaf mute Friday. Friday has magic oxygen pills that let him survive on Mars without needing a tank (because that is the only obstacle to living in Mars’ atmosphere…).

Kit (right) and dark haired Yor (left).

Eventually Kit and Friday go to Friday’s old village, where everyone seems to have been killed. Then suddenly Friday starts to talk and stuff, and Kit starts teaching him English. Couple months later, Friday says the aliens are overdue to return. And so they do. The bracelets Friday wears somehow can be detected by the ships, and they bombing the cave. Kit and Friday flee into the underground caverns. Friday says these caverns lead to the polar ice caps, so they go there. Along the way Kit is working on cutting the bands off Friday’s wrist. A few pointless details about Friday, he is actually like 76 years old (Mars years?) and he is much better suited to the Martian atmosphere, because he takes like 1/3 the amount of O2 pills as Kit.

The terrible aliens that rule Mars with an iron fist.

They make it to the ice caps, looking for water, and then find snow and start to freeze. Kit is finally able to free Friday of his shackles, and then the fiery meteor from the beginning of the movie crashes into the polar ice caps and melts the ice. Just after that an Earth ship arrives and Kit identifies himself as Commander Christopher Draper of the US Navy. Of the Navy? I’m pretty sure they took their orders from NASA at the beginning of the film. These people drop a pod. Presumably this is helpful. In case you were wondering the monkey made it through the whole movie as well. Not sure how the three of them are going to fit on that pod though.

Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice : Exploring the Questions of Good vs. Evil

So a little while ago I got over my hesitation about reading a book about vampires and read Interview With the Vampire by Anne Rice. It was worth it! The book swept me off my feet with it’s deep questions about what makes us good, what drives us and how do we live when we have lost our faith. I say faith but I don’t just mean faith in a religion or a god/s as the book tackles so many different kinds of faith. Faith in people, ourselves, freewill, society, morals, law, god and religion and I am sure that I am still missing a few! But for the purpose of ease of writing I will just say faith.

When I first started I thought I was going into a possible drama, star crossed love, action novel. Little did I know that it was less about vampires and more about exploring philosophical ideas. Rice delves into the question of what makes us tick; and are those that lose faith (regardless of what they lose faith in) really just the vampires of the world? Always taking, but having nothing to give in return?

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Logan – A (mostly) Spoiler-Free Review

The latest film in the X-Men Cinematic Universe, Logan, is a major departure from the genre of movies we usually associate with mutant superheros. Indeed, it’s not a superhero movie at all — and in many ways, that’s why its one of the best superhero movies yet. The film focuses on one single character, on a journey of discovery; and no matter how predictable the ending, by the time we get there, the emotional investment is so powerful that you feel it anyway.

In this review, I won’t spoil the ending, and will keep the spoilers to an minimum. If you’ve never seen another X-Men movie, though, expect those to be spoiled at will. (I’m looking square at you, Age of Apocalypse). And, since the question has come up more than once: no, you don’t need to watch any previous movies to enjoy Logan, but you will probably enjoy it more if you’ve invested in the characters already; that means watching at least X-Men, The WolverineDays of Future Past, and Age of Apocalypse (mostly for the ending) first.

Overall, I give this movie a 9/10; to see why, and why you really want to see it for yourself, keep reading. (Also, in case you didn’t know, the movie is rated R — there’s tons of violence and tons of swearing. No kids, please).

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Gargoyles – A review

Cover of Clan Building #3, which shows a number of characters. Clockwise from top left: Flying gargoyle silhouetted against the moon, heavyset cyan gargoyle, small olive gargoyle, large lavender gargoyle with wings covering shoulders like a cape, blue dog-like gargoyle beast, human woman, red gargoyle with horns and white hair. All these gargoyles are male. In the center is a female lavender gargoyle.Warning: While this review is largely spoiler-free, it briefly mentions a few aspects of the show’s premise that might qualify as minor spoilers for the (lengthy) pilot under a strict definition.  I’ve done my best to minimize this by focusing on structure and themes, but it is difficult to avoid altogether.  Some of the links may contain more substantial spoilers, so please click at your own risk.

Unlike many Gargoyles fans, I was introduced to it via TV Tropes rather than the more conventional route of “watched it when I was a kid.”  The latter is apparently rather common for my generation, but I was just a little too young.  Moreover, I was raised on Cartoon Network and Nickelodeon, instead of the Disney Channel, so I probably wouldn’t have seen it anyway.  Instead, as an adult I wanted to know who this “Xanatos” person was and why his gambits were apparently so foolproof.  I started watching the show and rapidly found myself addicted.

Seeing as most of us have never heard of Gargoyles, it might help to start with a definition.  Gargoyles is an animated urban fantasy series, with some superhero undertones, primarily set in Manhattan.  It originally aired in the mid 90’s and largely took place in the then-present.  Many parts of Manhattan were substantially more dangerous at that time than they are today, and so the series is a bit of a period piece by modern standards.  Fortuitously, however, this works in the show’s favor: the perception of heightened crime is a necessary backdrop for any crime-fighting story to work.  You can’t have Batman without Gotham.

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