In Movies, the 2011 remake of The Mechanic is a stand out rebuild. The original 1972 film was quite edgy at the time, starring Charles Bronson as the elder hit man and Jan-Michael Vincent as the young apprentice out to learn how to kill. They added some twists for the remake, and the combined talent of Jason Statham, Donald Sutherland, and Ben Foster noticeably upleveled the game, even if Sutherland died too early in the movie (it was necessary to keep the plot rolling). Why am I mentioning this non-genre film? Because the original was such a cult classic that it became a genre unto itself as soon as it hit the screen.
The indie science fiction film I Heart Doomsday has won a ton of awards at film festivals all over the world, but if it went into theatrical release it slipped right past me. Perhaps there is a reason for that and I should check this one at Netflix. And that leaves us with another feature length film to consider: RiffTrax: LIVE! Reefer Madness. RiffTrax is the successor to MST3K, with a lot of the same people writing the gag lines. I just wish they would put the theater back on a space ship.
There is a western animated feature length film from Marvel this week: Thor: Tales of Asgard. Based on the graphic novel of the same name it covers earlier adventures of the same five Asgard characters we just saw in the movie the other week.
In TV, all the entries this time around are old, starting with The Feathered Serpent, a 12 episode 1976 series that starred Patrick Troughton as the evil Nasca and Diane Keen as the Empress Chimalma. The story takes place in Aztec Mexico (which surely explains all the British accents) where Troughton is a fanatical Aztec priest out to topple the peaceful Emperor in the name of his human-sacrifice demanding god. Just like his time as Doctor Who, Troughton was the star of a children’s program, but this time he didn’t get to be the good guy.
The Twilight Zone: Season 4 also comes out this week. This isn’t the kind of show I have to explain to anyone; if you don’t know what the Twilight Zone is you have either never owned a TV or just moved here from Mars.
The Bionic Woman: Season Two brings the second round of the classic series back to be watched again. This 1975 spin-off of the 6 Million Dollar Man did well in its own right as well as having a number of crossover episodes with the original series. I quite enjoyed the 2007 rebuild of the franchise, but since it was apparently just me and some folks hiding behind the bleachers, it did not take off.
New anime this week is Allison & Lillia – Part 1, a planet with a single continent that has been at war since forever, with the inhabitants of each side of the dividing mountain range constantly fighting. While this program airs on NHK in Japan, it doesn’t play on either of the NHK channels I get here, nor is it available to watch on Crunchyroll, so to see it legally I went to The Anime Network where I watched the first episode to get a feel for the series. This is a period piece anime, with its old fashioned mores, prop-driven planes, and vintage cars; it would have been the mid 1930s if it took place on Earth, warming up for WWII. While it doesn’t look like anything exceptional, I did find the first one entertaining, and I look forward to adding it to my collection if I can find it for a good price.
The classic anime being re-released this time around is Excel Saga: Complete Series. If I had to pick a category for this series, Psychotic Anime Parody would pretty much sum it up, with a side order of Hysterical. If they missed messing with any anime tropes, it slipped by me; they made fun of the majority of them I could think of. If you don’t already own this and you have even a vestigial sense of humor, this would be the one to go for.
Finally, there is a classic old-school re-release: Project A-Ko: Remastered Special Collector’s Edition brings new quality from a classic. Created in 1986, Project A-Ko could not be shown on American TV at that point with its violence, nudity, and interstellar diplomatic issues, but it still gained a cult following. I think IMDB said it best with their description: Project A-ko is the typical love triangle of three school girls and their confrontations with aliens, giant robots, and women who look like burly men. At exactly 25 words, that quote is a legitimate implementation of the Fair Use rules, and at $14 most places it could be worthwhile updating to the remastered version.