Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Sci Fi 4 Me "12 Monkeys" review and my new "freemium" gig.


So all of you know that I am an avid film buff.  Duh, right!  I have been toying with helping with some SciFi type stuff with Jason P. Hunt out of Kansas City who runs the site SciFi4Me with some movie and TV reviews.  I finally jumped into the fray and recorded my first review of SyFy Channel's TV show "12 Monkeys".  It is a take on the original movie directed by Terry Gilliam starring Bruce Willis and Brad Pitt.  I know that I have been posting a lot about Gilliam lately but this just landed in my lap.  I thought, why not!  So I decided to have a little fun with my review and went a little long. Oops!  Jason didn't mind that I went over the original 3 minute time limit so there is that.  I bet it's because I am making it for free, yeah, that might be it.  I do know, I am not a fan of the cover art he chose.  I guess I will do it myself next time, sorry Jason.

One of the interesting things about the show is that you kind-of have to see the original movie before you watch it if you want to get up to speed fast enough to keep up with it.  I would dare say that most will not have to go back to "the source material" but it might be a 50/50 split.  It moves so fast in the pilot that if I wanted to browse Facebook on my phone or text my filming buddies I had to pause and come back to it.  There is a lot of information you have to absorb in order for the sow to make sense.  For one, time travel seems to confuse most folks who aren't up to speed on the genre.  I write about time travel in my shorts and screenplays quite often so my mind has "worked out" the paradoxes, to a point.  I mean, it is time travel after all, it can be hard!  Thinking about the speed of the program's pilot I completely understand why they did it.  As a writer that can coherently take you through three acts in less than twenty minutes, I am not sinless.  A TV sow like this has three jobs: Selling Advertising, Keeping you interested and making you want to return and watch the next one.  Thats a tall order when you pack on the load of keeping it relevant to the story line set forth in the movie and actually telling a story that makes sense involving time travel.


The lead character is a man named "Cole" (Aaron Stanford).  He is a vagrant from the future that has been incarcerated for some offense.  He lives in a world where the population has been struck by a virus that is believed to be man made in 2015 by Leland Goins (Zeljko Ivanek), the owner of a large company that develops pharmaceuticals as well as many other things.  Cole must travel back in time to find Leland and stop him from creating the virus that destroys humanity, but has no way of tracking him in the past.  In his attempt to find Goines, Cole returns a little too early (same as in the movie, btw) in an attempt for find Dr. Cassandra Railly (Amanda Schull), kidnap and interrogate her, as she is the only person the scientists of the future believe can be sure to know where Goins might be.  Any of  you that have seen the movie will know that because Cole has arrived years before she would be introduced to Goins, Cassandra doesn't know who he even is.  There is a confrontation with police, Cole is shot and then disappears only to show up two years later for Cassandra with the same gunshot wound he sustained during her kidnapping.  She nurses him back to health and the game is on.  What, really?  Yes, really.

This is where I got a little pushed out of the story.  For me, the prospect of a kidnapped woman helping her kidnapper two years after her abduction stay alive puts me a little sideways.  I was even more put out when I watched some behind the scenes stuff on the SyFy Channels website.  If you watch long enough the show is cast as an "epic love story".  Ok... She falls in love with her kidnapper.  That's a tough pill to swallow.  If you watch Cassandra's reaction to Cole, you will see she is already falling for him.  I guess Munchausen syndrome is a thing in this show.

As far as the technical stuff; I wasn't overly impressed with it.  There is a scene where Cole scratches a watch from his past which, in turn, creates a scratch on the watch from his future and proves to Cassandra that his time traveling is real and not a delusion on his part.  The effect of the scratch appearing was cool but the shaking of the camera is somewhat cheeky.  The level of expertise to do this shake is not too hard, I even did it in my review.  There is some lens flares and an addition of light using an after market program.  It is ok, but to me it felt a little cheap.  I suppose it is the pilot and the money may have not been there just yet due to the fact that pilots are usually shot before major funding has been secured.  You can tell that they tried to color it "film Style" but the video look is still underneath it all as it is with most SyFy Shows.  In fact, I might have done a better job at getting the film look on my review.  I said Might,

All in all, I find the show somewhat entertaining.  It is dialogue heavy with not much Terry Gilliam camera work and shot set up going on.  It really is just another TV show as far as "prettiness" is concerned.   I plan on reviewing the as they come out, or until it is cancelled.  As of this moment I was unable to see the total viewership for the show and it might be next week before we know if anyone at all is watching and eventually, returning.