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Blu-ray Catch-up 06/21

(posted in blog)

Here are my possibly-coherent rants about the selection of my physical media library that I converted to digital and watched since the last catch-up.

The Legend of Korra

After the post-partum depression that finishing Avatar: The Last Airbender brought on, I quickly bought a copy of the follow-up series. (Actually I bought a combo collection and ended up with a second copy of Avatar too, but that’s OK because now I can pass my first copy off to someone else to introduce them to the best TV show ever.)

Korra took a little longer for us to get into. In fact my older kid decided he’d rather re-watch Avatar instead and it was just my younger kid and my wife who continued Korra with me. It was definitely worth it though because even though it’s a very different show from Avatar, once it gets into its swing Korra is another top notch show. After listening to us rave about it my older kid capitulated and started watching on his own and now he’s just as deep into it as we were, so if you’re on the fence when you start you should definitely give it a chance because it really grows on you.

Survivors (1975)

I bought this because my wife is really interested in post-apocalyptic fiction, particularly of the non-zombie variety, and we had watched this years ago and remembered it being pretty good. With the current ongoing covid-19 pandemic I thought it would be fun and ironic to revisit this, and I could get the entire series on DVD for less than $20 so it seemed like a no-brainer.

The first season is incredibly good, but it goes downhill quickly after that. This is probably due to the original creator Terry Nation left the show. The first season is definitely worth watching, and the second is good and has some great moments but overall is just OK. After that it’s a very mixed bag, I don’t think my wife and I have every made it all the way through to the end of Season 4. We’re still trudging at the time I’m writing this but we’re only watching an episode a week as opposed to one or two per night like when we started.

The Matrix Trilogy (and The Animatrix)

The first Matrix is obviously one of the greatest and most influential science fiction movies of this century. The two sequels are so bad that I decided the only way I could make it through another watching was if I could watch with the Rifftrax “Just the Jokes” audio commentary tracks that I’ve owned forever but never actually gotten around to using yet.

I worked out a process to incorporate the commentaries into my digital rips over top of the movie’s original soundtrack, and documented that process in this blog. The second and third movies are almost bearable when accompanied by the sarcastic quips provided by Mike Nelson and friends of MST3K fame. Although I still had to watch them across multiple sittings.

This was also the first time I watched the animated features that the Wachowskis put out before the second film compiled together into The Animatrix. All I can say is why the hell didn’t they stick with some of the themes from these cartoons in the sequels? The Animatrix was fantastic–had interesting stories, characters, and dug deeper into the world of The Matrix in ways that blew the ham-fisted religion allegories from the second and third movies completely out of the water.

There’s a fourth film in the series slated to come out soon that features a lot of the original cast including Neo and Trinity. I will definitely be watching, but I’m hesitent to get my hopes up for it.

The Star Wars Prequel Trilogy

I also watched these with the Rifftrax audio commentary overlayed. The Rifftrax boys made these movies a lot better. These movies (rightfully) get a bad rap, but I will give them props for at least expanding the story and series an a new and interesting direction. I actually prefer these movies to the unimaginative re-hash that we got in Episodes 7 through 9 for that reason. And I’m saying that without even having seen episode 9 yet and not sure if I’ll ever bother.

Iron Sky

I haven’t really looked around for reactions to this film online, but I have to imagine that it is highly polarizing. It’s brand of B-movie aesthetics, quirky sense of humor, and unapolagetic satire is not something you’re going to be indifferent to–you’re either going to love it or hate it.

Personally, they had me at Nazis on the Moon. You’d have to be very, very incompetent to take a premise like that and make a movie that I don’t immediately fall in love with, and this movie delivers in droves.

After ripping and re-watching and falling in love all over again with this movie, I decided to give the straight-to-Netflix sequel Iron Sky: The Coming Race a watch. They tried to up the ante on this one–I’m fairly certain that the entire plot was entirely contrived in order to culminate in a scene where Hitler rides on the back of a Tyrannosaurus Rex through the Nazi moon base. But it just didn’t work for me. By trying so hard they drained all of the magic and charm that was present in the original and turned it into a series of “oh come on” moments that were a chore to get through. Give this one a skip, but give the first one a chance if you love cheesy B-movie sci-fi and campy humor.

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