It’s Showtime – The Running Man

29 03 2017

Have you ever considered appearing in a Game Show? Like many kids of the 1990’s, I used to dream of appearing in shows like Gladiators, The Crystal Maze, Virtually Impossible, and the biggest one of them all; Fun House. As time went on it became obvious that me appearing in any kind of Gameshow was probably not going to happen, but I kept some tiny day dreams for shows like Cross-Fire, Raven, Bamzooki, Jungle Run and of course Robot Wars (which given its return to TV has got me thinking about it once more). While I may not have been a contestant, many people have as is the point of game shows, many of them striving to achieve the grand prize of money, a holiday or maybe a boat. Win or lose though, many of them should be thankful that they were not competing for the right to stay alive.

Released in 1987 by TriStar Pictures and directed by Paul Michael Glaser; The Running Man is a Dystopian Action Thriller based on the book of the same name written by Stephen King (under the pseudonym Richard Bachman) where a wrongly convicted man is forced to compete in a gladiatorial style TV game show known as The Running Man. The film is set in America between 2017 and 2019, where after a worldwide economic collapse; the country has become a police state and the government soothes the population with the airing of game shows where convicted criminals have to fight for the right to stay alive with a chance of being pardoned by the state.

Former cop Ben Richards (Arnold Schwarzenegger) is wrongly convicted for the mass shooting of civilians at a food riot after he refuses to follow an order to kill the civilians in the first place, and is now dubbed the Butcher of Bakersfield. He along with a few other inmates including William Laughlin (Yaphet Kotto) and Harold Weiss (Marvin J. McIntyre) escape from a labour camp, with Ben going to his brother’s apartment to hide out only to discover that it is now occupied by Amber Mendez (Maria Conchita Alonso); a composer for ICS who are the broadcaster of The Running Man. Taking Amber as a hostage, Ben intends to leave the country for Hawaii, but while at the Airport, Amber informs the authorities and Richards is captured. Taken to ICS, Richards meets the host and producer of The Running Man; Damon Killian (Richard Dawson) who tries to persuade Ben into competing in the show. When he refuses, Killian threatens to enter Laughlin and Weiss instead; upon learning this Richards agrees to take part.

The next day the show begins with people all over America and from different backgrounds tuning in to watch. Backstage, Amber; who is working on the show that night discovers some evidence that some of the news made about Richards maybe untrue and goes in search to find out more. As the show begins and Richards is introduced, Killian reveals that he has entered Weiss and Laughlin into the show anyway. Richards threatens to return for Killian, before he and his other inmate pals are sent on their way through large tunnels on strange rocket powered sledges. The Idea of the Running Man is that the contestants are forced to run through a large area of urban wasteland while being chased by an elite team of Killer Stalkers; if they survive, they are pardoned for their crimes. The Audience though love all this brutality and cannot wait for the first stalker to be introduced; that stalker being a very large hockey player dressed character called Sub Zero (Professor Toru Tanaka). The three runners are penned into Sub Zero’s own specially designed area and are toyed with endlessly until Richards uses a barbed wire fence to strangle him, killing him in the process, the first time that has happened in the history of the show. With the audience in shock, the three runners use this advantage to get away. While in the game zone, Laughlin and Weiss use this opportunity to find the network’s uplink for the benefit of the resistance. Amber meanwhile has been caught, and is forced to enter the Running Man also; she arrives just before two more stalkers enter the game zone in the form of chainsaw wielding Buzzsaw (Gus Rethwisch) and arc electricity user Dynamo (Erland Van Lidth). Buzzsaw fatally wounds Laughlin, while Weiss is shocked to death by Dynamo. Richards kills Buzzsaw with his own chainsaw, but spares the life of Dynamo after his electric suit stops working. Richards agrees to carry out Laughlin’s last request of getting the uplink node information to the resistance within the game zone. Off camera; Killian sends a message to Ben offering him a job as a stalker, but he refuses, and Killian sends out the next stalker; the flamethrower wielding Fireball (Jim Brown). In the studio and outside however, the audience starts cheering for Richards given his unstoppable killing streak. While being chased around by Fireball; Amber discovers the decaying bodies of the supposed winners of the last series of the show, discovering that their victory was faked. Richards then kills Fireball by blowing him up.

Running out of options (and stalkers), Killian asks the help of retired and champion stalker Captain Freedom (Jesse Ventura). Freedom however refuses as he does not like the way the show has become compared to what it was like when he used to do it. Using body doubles, Killian fakes the death of both Richards and Amber by the hands of Captain Freedom. Ben and Amber meanwhile are still in the game zone and have been found by the resistance and their leader Mic (Mick Fleetwood) and learn of their faked deaths. Using the transmitter info acquired by Weiss earlier, the resistance launches a two-pronged attack on ICS. First they show footage of what really happened at the Bakersfield riot and present details that Killian has been lying to the audience for a very long time. Then resistance fighters led by Ben and Amber break into the studio fighting the guards. Amber succeeds in killing Dynamo while Ben confronts Killian. Killian’s bodyguard Sven (Sven-Ole Thorsen) shows up, but decides not to fight Richards as he has had enough of his boss and walks off. Killian tries to convince Richards that he was only doing what the audience were asking for; saying that they love reality TV and televised violence. Richards decides to give the audience what he thinks they really want and sends Killian off in one of the rocket powered sledges down the same tunnel that Richards went down. Killian crashes into a sign on the way out bearing his image and dies, while Richards and Amber leave the studio sharing a kiss on their way out.

One thing that stands out about The Running Man is that while it may not be the first among discussed films of the same genre, or even not as frequently mentioned as other Arnold Schwarzenegger films of note; it is still a very entertaining and enjoyable film. While maybe not Schwarzenegger’s best film or performance, this does not distract from how enjoyable the experience this film delivers. The Running Man is one of those films that is guaranteed to entertain an audience whether it be a seasoned viewer, or even those who are watching it for the first time. Saying that though is pretty simple, as explaining why is even harder. While I could immediately jump on saying that the film has a certain je-ne-sais-quoi about it, I think that could be considered cheating. From an action point of view, The Running Man delivers plenty of it. It does what any quality action film does, which is always having something going on, and never too slow. It has lots of running around, plenty of fights, death, explosions while also allowing the use of drama to give those scenes purpose. It’s swift and uneasy, but does not lose sight from its main plot or setting. It’s very basic levels of action uses its scene and scenario to ramp it up and create more meaning, providing the audience with a continued reason to watch. The film’s setting, while not being fully represented, still presents an idea of what it is like to live in a dystopian America, really representing the lives of rich and poor, but also presenting an idea of how a police state could soothe tensions within the populace to keep it under a better form of control than with strong levels of violence. One thing though that probably helps a lot in its film making is how that while you are watching a film; you are also an audience member of this TV Gameshow. The Running Man is presented like many classic American game shows with the charismatic host and big budget effects, to produce the best show they can. In the case of The Running Man the show has its charismatic and popular host; it has music, dancers, merchandise as well as a reality TV effect to it which always grabs an audience. Another thing in the shows profile is how it incorporates what Pro Wrestling was like around the time of the film’s release with a cavalcade of wrestling gimmicks. While said gimmicks are pretty much non-existent to a point these days, back then it was all the range, and with the show’s Stalkers; while they are blood thirsty killers, they are taking on personas with a detailed and strong gimmick. This combination of reality TV and Pro Wrestling along with everything else makes The Running Man Gameshow the kind of show people could actually get into to, even nowadays as it’s a perfect formula conjured up from some of television’s most popular programming. While you are indeed watching a film, you are still watching a Gameshow as presented in the fictional scenario. With the films level of action, small but basic plot, and unique presentation style; creates a very entertaining and enjoyable film. That does not mean though that everything is plain sailing, or perfect.

The Running Man is actually a very small film; not necessarily in length, more in the form of detail. There is a lot going on in the background and a very strong setting is implied, but not delved into. The film says that America is a dystopian police state, but the only evidence of that is a strong police force that could be considered more as security rather than peace keepers. There are a lot of city scenes, some showing a more privileged sector, and that of a down trodden and poor area too, but there are only two scene shots of this, one on a small street area, and the other on the outskirts with the city in the background, but it does not suggest police state, just city and slums; like many a large city. We are told there is a resistance movement but because we have no grounding as to how bad this police state is, there is no real building of reasoning as to why a basic resistance movement is required or needed. That’s the major problem with this film’s setting; that while we are told this stuff, there is no visual evidence to back it up with, other than some scenes with police forces casually walking around. The only thing we have is this TV Show, and that too causes a major plot problem in that supposedly bringing down the TV Station is all that matters. The resistance works hard to bring down a game show and TV channel; but if you are living in a police state where the political elites have control, why would bringing down a TV channel solve the problem? It’s a big foot hole in the plot, because the more you watch it, the more you want to tell everyone that it really doesn’t matter, it does not really solve much, if anything; it’s just going to get worse from here on out. So the ending is a bit unhooked. It’s a real shame really, because the city from a visual perspective looks really good.

On the perspective that the producers of the film could not see into the future, the film’s game show does not lend itself to the current modern-day culture that we live in. One thing that stands out with the film’s selection of stalkers is how they are designed not necessarily around practicality, but more around gimmicks and personas of pro wrestling at the time of the film’s release. In that respect when looked at now it could suggest that the film may not have aged well, but this is only in one short way. Yes the Stalkers do look a bit ridiculous now, but back then would have looked pretty impressive, and in honesty, they are not all that bad. This however brings me quite neatly into another of the films major issues, which is that the cast on the whole is a bit shoddy. The stalker gimmicks are nicely made and it’s easy to see where the ideas came from and what the film’s producers were hoping to achieve, but there aren’t many standouts. Dynamo for instance comes packed with a costume which even back then would have probably looked ridiculous with the glowing hair and light up costume, it looks dire. Buzzsaw does not really do much other than show off his teeth, and Sub Zero is rather wasted given that Professor Toru Tanaka is actually a pretty cool big guy actor when given an actual chance to show off. In reality it makes Tanaka’s performance in an episode of the A-Team far more career prestigious than in a big action film starring Schwarzenegger. In the end it does come down to Captain Freedom and Fireball, which in itself is rather sad. For the most part, both characters; while given major credited parts find themselves on the side-lines until necessary. Fireball’s introduction is rather late on, but has a much stronger stalker part than the others. His entrance and intro is one of the film’s best looking and most enjoyable scenes, plus he helps shed some light on the malpractices of the show. Jesse Ventura as Captain Freedom has a similar part as he is played as mainly the retired veteran of the sport who has great memories and respect for what he used to do and how he did it. His passion for the sport shows off well as he does not like the new wave gimmicks and probably would want to take on Richards if it was left to him and not Killian. Much like Fireball, he is a late intro and is only really referenced up to this point, but his veterancy and style portrays a really interesting character that creates an on-screen identity before he even becomes relevant. Both Brown and Ventura give good performances but it’s only worth between 10 and 15 minutes of the entire film; they both deserved well more.

The rest of the cast is pretty much near hit and misses with very few of the headliners actually standing out. I don’t really get much of a feeling for Mick Fleetwood’s character, nor Weiss, and while Amber’s character does improve towards the end of the film, it just feels rather late. There is some interesting cast minors such as Killian’s assistant Brenda (Karen Leigh Hopkins), The Running Man’s director Tony (Kurt Fuller) and of course Sven who sadly could have had more of a part. From there though we do get some cool characters; Laughlin for instance has great on set chemistry between himself and Richards. If it was not the case of these two needing to work together, he could be a really good nemesis for Schwarzenegger, but in this case what we have is a strong ally for Richards. While he does meet a gruesome end at the end thanks to Buzzsaw, he does produce one of the film’s most powerful and poignant moments backed up with that killer soundtrack. It is an interesting but good casting as it’s one that could have worked either way, be it friend or foe. Richard Dawson is an inspired casting for the part of the cold and ruthless game show host. Given his background and history of Gameshow hosting, it comes more naturally to him, as he looks and feels like a game show host, no matter what the context. He is able to draw popularity to himself through a natural form of charisma, but on top of that he is also able to play a character, one who enjoys a level of ruthlessness that comes with the power and joy of presentation and production control, one that also makes himself believe that whatever he is doing is not necessarily selfish, but right. It is an incredible part and one played by a naturally talented persona that produces a real sense of reality to a very fictional product. Arnold Schwarzenegger for me is someone whose career I have known about but have seen him in very few roles. I have seen most of the Terminator’s, Batman and Robin and Kindergarten Cop, and it’s hard not to think of the large brutish character we have come to expect from said roles. He is a big muscle guy, but it’s hard to see him in other light especially with him playing very archetypal roles. This however does allow me to see another side to him. Yes, he is the muscle-bound hero, but there is more to him here. There is compassion to his friends, love (in the end) for him and Amber but also a sense of belief between right and wrong given his introduction and background. While the film makes use of his well-known line from The Terminator (just 3 years earlier), there are more lines to come, including a very daft form of spoken humour when it comes to the stalker deaths. While he does have a very physical role to play, he shows and does more than that, and in the process allows audiences who have only seen one real side of him to see more of what is quite a cool and diverse actor when provided with a chance.

The Running man does have some interesting and nice effects to it, all be it though come mostly down to some nicely designed and created set pieces such as the tunnels and the main stage of the game show itself. The jumpsuits (I had to at some point didn’t I) are not too putting off; yes they look weird, sort of like how Arnie would look if he was asked to play Wolverine in the iconic spandex (I really don’t think bright banana yellow is his colour), but altogether look ok in different colours. It’s not the best effects of the film but more than most is definitely not the worst. But it’s not really the films effects where I want to look at; more the film’s incredible soundtrack. The Running Man’s soundtrack (composed by Harold Faltermeyer) on the whole sounds very futuristic, but also very low; not sad but grimmer, helping to construct the idea of a dystopian future. It has a lot in common I think to Escape From New York with powerful and hard-hitting keyboards with a sense of fast and light rock. There are four pieces though I would like to make particular mention of; the start of the show, Laughlin’s death, the broadcast attack and the end credits. Mick’s Broadcast attack features this very light siren like sound to begin with which appears rather irrelevant, but quickly builds to include other sounds. It is a pretty light track until the fast repeating drums come in. Before this, they feature the Running Man’s general theme, something which can be heard throughout the film; but once those drums come in, a different piece comes to the stage. It actually breaks the tension and grim sounds of the previous pieces of music and allows a lighter sense of hope as an attack comes its way. It’s in no way optimistic or celebrating, but it gives a lighter more hopeful energy which suggests change in the film’s plot. It’s still dark, low and tense and continues to produce, but it’s a different vision of what once was and is now to come.

A good film plot, as many people will tell you is about change; change from one thing into something else. The Running Man is a film which features a small but dramatic change, the change of a country from one that is cut in half by class, to one united by a common goal, the same could be said for the change in Richards, as he goes from a criminal, to that of a free man. While the broadcast theme suggests change and hope, the end credits (Restless Heart by John Parr), actually present one, as it’s a theme that is much lighter. Gone are the low-toned sounds of a despotic regime raining down on its citizens, in comes the sound of willful change and hope as we see a nation now with hope for a change in attitude, even if it is very much only suggested. It’s a nice light theme for the film to end on in general and has a nice beginning to it, which really helps provide that breath of fresh as it all comes to an end, all the excitement and adrenaline is now over, so remember to breathe.

The ICS Theme for the game show itself is actually pretty light and does not feel as hard-hitting as a game show’s introduction should be. It does not feel catchy or memorable, just light; but mix it in with the dancers, and a different perspective is revealed, that of less a game show, more of an event, and one that requires and deserves a level of build up to get the audience going before the main event begins. It’s a similar idea I think to when in The Hunger Games there is that 1 minute countdown to the bloodbath, the calm before the Storm, but held in a slightly more glorious way as this time the whole nation is backing it, and because it’s the kind of show which gives audience participation, there has to be that level of joy for them too as the show begins. One track in The Running Man that is not joyous is that of when Laughlin dies. The Running Man’s general musical theme is this sort of keyboard based riff which can be heard in several parts of the film, more of an atmospheric track than anything else, but when Laughlin dies it is played a lot heavier. It’s the loss of a good strong friend and his message for Richards, one which Richards agrees too, but also from belief that Richards should have died not Laughlin. It is a pretty funky track and sound, but especially more so at this point when the notes are pretty much being slammed by the soloist. It is a game of life and death, but becomes more real at this point, and the soundtrack goes out of its way to use this point as the most poignant reminder of this, creating the film’s and film’s soundtrack’s best and most memorable moment.

The Running Man critically is a very hard one to judge. Yes it has its issues ranging from a mainly makeshift cast, to a setting and theme which is not really delved into enough to really provide scope. On the other hand though it delivers an incredible soundtrack, some wonderfully designed set pieces, some interesting moments, but on the whole a lot of very enjoyable moments of action. As a dystopian thriller, it definitely does not hold a lot of ground and there are far better ones out there than this. But as a dystopian action film; this is one of the best. While I still prefer the Hunger Games and Battle Royale; I would happily put this up a good level. It has something that every action film fan would enjoy while also using a unique perspective to create something that is truly unique in cinema. Trust me on this when I say that this is a truly enjoyable film; I mean it, give it a go.

GENEPOOL (The poster is a bit off-putting).

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The Strain (Should Be) Back (Soon)

24 08 2016

The Strain

Over the last few months, I have steadily begun to grow weary of nearly everything on TV. Since about April for me it’s sort of been about recording and re-recording shows on Playback, of which many shows that I do indeed like, but have grown a little weary of as I watch them while doing stuff on the laptop and have only been able to truly appreciate them when I have a Nano-second to sit down and watch them on TV while doing nothing else. I have been trying to get back into other shows on my own like Arrow, while also watching the last episodes of Castle, re-watching old episodes of Rizzoli & Isles, trying to get more involved with the good but rather cheesy Quantico, The sometimes hard to find funny when doing something else Bob’s Burgers; the enduring but still relatively light Deadliest Catch, The odd repeat of The Bill, the yet to be watched Containment, and the thankful repeats of Rookie Blue. I have watched maybe 20 minutes’ worth of the new Top Gear, but that was 20 minutes too long in my opinion, while really enjoying the new Robot Wars which continues to deliver (at time of writing). There are some shows that gather my interest such as The Closer and Major Crimes which my Mam has been recording, but altogether, the current state of TV for me is pretty bleak and near boring. All I can really hold onto is that soon or later The Strain will be back.

TS2

For those not in the know, The Strain is a TV Series based on the book trilogy of which the first book is named written by Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan. The series (Produced by Carlton Cuse) is about a virus: a Vampire Virus. It brings vampires back to their roots as scary villains and not love icons. Basically, an ancient entity known as The Master (Robin Atkin Downes), has brought a curse upon the city of New York as he has willingly caused Vampires to return. Very quickly many people in New York have begun to turn into what are known as The Strigoi. Being vampires they can only come out at night, however, the Master has a group of major servants in the form of Eichhorst (Richard Sammel) and Eldritch Palmer (Jonathan Hyde) who work for him during the day to help push and instigate his plan, that being of eventual domination. In his way however are a group of vampire hunters led by Holocaust Survivor Abraham Setrakian (David Bradley), Scientists Ephraim Goodweather (Corey Stoll) and Nora Martinez (Mia Maestro), rat exterminator Fet (Kevin Durand) and computer hacker Dutch Velders (Ruta Gedmintas). That’s not all standing in The Master’s way however as he also has to contend with another batch of Hunters in the form of former convict Gus (Miguel Gomez), and his estranged half-vampire supposed son Mr. Quinlan (Rupert Penry-Jones). It is a losing battle however as more Strigoi are being turned and New York begins to fall further into darkness, aided further by Kelly Goodweather (Natalie Brown), Eph’s former wife, who has since been turned into a vampire herself and is busy stalking Eph and their son Zach (Max Charles).

TS1

Now I wasn’t so sure about this program when I first heard about it (much like Blade: The Series), but I thought I would give it a go, I watched the Pilot and not only found it very riveting, but also rather terrifying and chilling. The first season pretty much just revolved around the initial spread of the Vampire Plague and the gathering of some heroes, while the second season went more into the public perspective as the plague gained more ground and became majorly noticeable, while the Master starts conceiving new ways to keep things going, whilst other characters begin to question their lives and place within this new world, and as such history and backgrounds of the events and characters begin to get more explored. Since then more characters have become more defined and brand new characters have been introduced. My favourite from pretty much the outset has been Dutch Velders, the group’s complete outsider, and whose character I have come to love and enjoy well.

Dutch Velders

Another character that has also begun to get traction is that of The Born. Better known as Mr. Quinlan, he is the missing link of the series as he is half vampire and possibly the son of the Master, and is out to kill him. His scenes so far have turned out to be rather fruitful and really enjoyable, and as given his position as become to stand out as something of the shows version of Blade, the hunter who is of himself of the species he is hunting, he also has a rather impressive voice.

I have no idea where the show is going to head next, but Series 3 is now on the horizon, having nearly waited a whole year with the Season 2 DVD yet to come out. I know this because I have been following the show’s progress, mostly from the accounts (on Twitter and Instagram) of Ruta Gedmintas. No idea what the show is going to involve other than the episode count going down from 13 to 10 annoyingly. Having not read the books, only reading a brief synopsis I can see some direction of its path, but as of yet, still no clue. Sorry to be so anti-climactic, but it’s true; however I am certain that it should be worth the wait, the show has done this to me once previously but has done more than just deliver, and so I am hopeful it will do so again. I am hopeful it will return within the next couple of months, and will in turn make TV exciting for me, at least for a little while and maybe a bit beyond that.

GENEPOOL (I am assuming and Hoping that it’s still going to be on Watch, even though it has since changed its name to W).





Starting Over

27 07 2016

Rizzoli and Isles

Back in May, I hit a low point. For personal reasons I will not discuss what exactly was making me low, but in order for me to give this blog some meaning, I just needed to point that out. Anyway, I got low, one day I was really, really down, ended up wasting the whole day, not accomplishing or doing anything. There were games on my Laptop that I just did not want to play. There was some writing I just did not want to write, and on TV, there was nothing I wanted to watch. I had a whole load of shows to watch on catch-up, but just did not want to watch anything, even the shows I was really enjoying. Since then I have managed to reach up and get out of my low point, but one consistency remained; that of me not wanting to watch anything I had recorded on TV.

Quantico

I have come to the point that currently, there is nothing worth watching on TV. I have sort of grown out of Holby City, I am several seasons behind Arrow, The Strain is not back until roughly September, Top Gear is Dead!, and Robot Wars has no start date yet (at time of writing). Even though there are still shows on that I enjoy such as Castle, and a little bit of Quantico, I just have no interest in watching anything on TV at the moment. Basically I am bored and disinterested. I suppose I could watch Game of Thrones but first I need to get permission off my Dad to watch them.

I do not know if it’s just that time of year or something, but right now, there just appears to be nothing on TV. Perhaps it’s my mood or disinterest, but right now TV just feels empty, if it wasn’t for Rizzoli and Isles repeats, new episodes of Bob’s Burgers and new episodes of The Big Bang Theory (and apparently New Girl is to return soon too). A few weeks backs though I got some help from a new friend at church. I told him all about the above, and he told me what I needed to do. That was to find something new. Well, I think I have found it, but I wouldn’t exactly call it new.

Breaking Bad Season 1 Poster

A few weeks ago, I took some old DVD’s and games into CEX in Lancaster and got some stuff in return. My plan there was to look out for something in particular. I got some Bill Bailey Stand up DVD’s, some PS3 Games, a copy of the fifth season of Breaking Bad (having trading in the previous 4), but most of all, I got he first season of Arrow. Arrow is not exactly new to me, I have in fact been something of a fan of the show since it first started, but there was a complication. You see, when it first started I did manage to watch the first whole series and I really enjoyed it. So, I waited for and watched the first few episodes of season 2, then something bad happened. I don’t remember the full way round of the details, but the episodes were recorded on a machine, but then I think the machine got corrupted (possibly thanks to some episodes of The Tudors), and the machine was swapped, therefore I lost all the episodes of Arrow season 2 I had not watched yet. I put on a record for the other episodes, but after a while it became obvious I was not going to catch up effectively. So I deleted them and instead planned to purchase season 2 when it got released on DVD. Then however, when it did get released, it was pretty expensive, so I decided to wait until it dropped in price. Meanwhile season 3 had begun, and by the time that I did get a copy of Season 2 (nearly a year ago now), Season 3 was done with 4 on the way. As you can see I have fallen really far behind. In the meantime, season 2 on DVD has remained unwatched while over the last few weeks I have gazed too and throw at season 4’s episodes.

Arrow

It’s always been a plan of mine to get back into it, but I never could work out how, until I came up with a plan. The plan was to start from the beginning. Get a copy of Season 1 on DVD, watch that, then Season 2 and beyond. And so far (at time of writing), it appears to be working. I have watched the first episodes of season 1 and am able just to sit down and enjoy them one after another, no worrying about what will happen or anything like that, just plain old enjoyment of a TV program. Currently I do not know if it will last, if I will be able to enjoy Arrow to the full, or if I will hit another low point and not want to watch it anymore. But, I may as well enjoy it while it lasts, and then find something else to watch when it is all over.

GENEPOOL (suppose it will keep me going until the rumoured X-Men TV Series comes along, not unless it turns out to be like Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.; Uninteresting).





Top 5 Robot Wars Robots

20 07 2016

New Robot Wars Logo

In 1998, a TV Show began airing on BBC Two that would change Friday Night Programming for many years to come and would become a highlight in many people’s TV Calendar’s. It was a show about engineering, construction, but mostly fighting. The show was called Robot Wars and each week involved people from all walks of life, stepping into an arena with a homemade contraption of weaponry and forcing it to fight with another homemade contraption of weaponry. It was so much fun, it was new, exciting, revolutionary, futuristic, but above all…fun; and now it’s back. Yes, coming soon to BBC Two, the game show about creating but most of all destroying robots returns for a brand new run. I have been excited since the day it was announced, and have already begun to celebrate: my profile picture on Facebook is a picture of my favourite robot from the original show, and I have written a post about the House Robots from the original show too. It has been my goal to write a post though on my Top 5 Robots from the original show, and now that teaser trailers have already been appearing to air on BBC Two for the last few weeks, I thought I should better hurry up and write it.

It has been something of a struggle trying to choose my Top 5. There have been so many great Robots (Steg-O-Saw-Us, Rameses II, GBH, Dantomkia, Cassius, Pitbull, Dominator 2, Roadblock, Panic AttackBerserk 2Pussycat and Behemoth to name but a few) in the show’s history, and whittling them down to 5 was going to be hard. My top 3 were easy as they have always been my top 3, but choosing another 2 was hard. Number 4 was chosen over time as eventually it made sense that it would be in the Top 5, while the 5th position was being fought for by 3 machines. At one point I was sure that it would be those 3 machines holding that title equally, but then it came to mind that one of them stood out more than the other 2 (Tornado and Dreadnaut): so I got 5. Anyway, enough of how I chose the 2 bottom machines, here is the list of my Top 5 Favourite Robots from Robot Wars (original series).

Trident

5. Trident –During series 3, a new format was introduced in the form of more battles, less trials. Because of the more pro wrestling style format; more of certain performers would become firm fan favourites in the future. Many of the future crops of Robot Legends did not actually debut until the third wars with such (and other related) robots as: Firestorm, Wild Thing, Bigger Brother, 101, Spawn Again and Hypno-Disc. One thing though that was good about series 3, it was still virtually about homemade machines that anybody could enter, and still make a name for themselves with relative ease. As the show progressed, some teams poured thousands of pounds into their machines making it look more like a professional gig rather than a fun thing to do. Series 3, and 4, were the place to be, with some machines still carrying that homemade feel, while also making some really interesting designs, and one such entry that stood out more than most (at least for me) was Trident. Trident was an interesting design, it seemed to be very long, and a bit over balanced, but kept upright. It shined both gold and silver, had a triangular wheel axle and a pretty impressive axe. It debuted in series 3 and reached the semi-finals with ease. It stood out for me as 1 it had an Axe and 2, it just looked pretty awesome, but still looked like it could deal a world of hurt to whomever it challenged. I don’t know what it is specifically that makes it stand out for me, except maybe for a flare of je-ne-sais-quoi, which is more than most robots had.

Mace

4. Mace – As the second wars dawned, it was still anyone’s game as to who will achieve immortality. By series 2, Weapons still had a point, and the age of flippers was still over a year away, lifters had more purpose than flippers, and a good weapon would always go far. Series 2 though was a time for new blood to join the fold, as more and more people got in on the act and wanted to compete, and into this fold came Mace. Mace was very box like in shape, but on the front it came with a sort of sloped angle which easily merged with its thin but still effective lifting arm, and while mostly for rear defence, it came with a terrifying looking flail, possibly the only time in the show’s history where one of those was actually effective. It wasn’t the most terrifying of robots, nor was it a looker, for the most part it looked more like a thin shopping trolley than anything else, but Robot Wars is not about looks: it’s about conquest, war and the fight to be the very best, and Mace on several occasions showed that it too followed this belief. It may not have been the hottest date at the prom, but it was definitely one you did not want to meet outside. Mace would appear in both Series 2 and 3 and on both occasions do pretty well and carries an impressive fight record of 6 wins and 2 losses. While it may never have won a title; it is clear that Mace is a bona fide Robot Wars Legend.

Chaos 2

3. Chaos 2 – During series 3, and beyond, a terrible curse was brought into Robot Wars, one that: to cut a long as tory short; basically the show became more about flipping robots around and out of the arena rather than causing any damage. There was some pretty impressive weaponry, but if you did not have a flipper, you were nothing, pretty much. It stayed like this for quite a while. Anyway, while the show became mostly about flippers, some stood out that were worthy of carrying them and showed what Flippers could do. One Robot more than most stood out, and is the only robot in the show’s history to win the Grand Championship more than once, in fact it won it two years in a row: Chaos 2. Chaos 2 had something of a stumpy small body, and looked like a car in design; however size is not everything, as Chaos 2 proved. With Chaos 2, it was all about the flipper and the power within, the robot was designed with that in mind and it worked as a self-righting mechanism too. It was quite a nippy machine too, one that zoomed around the arena quite happily, which is more than could be said for its opponents. Yes, it may not have had a proper weapon, but everything else in mind, Chaos 2 was a pretty cool little machine.

Killertron

2. Killertron – During the show’s first series, the term War suggested lots of robots fighting each other to the death, and while the machines were a load of contraptions made from stuff around the house, the Weapons were anything but, and Killertron was the first one to show off a viable and destructive weapon. Killertron was an Axe Robot unlike most of that class. It would become more common place in future wars (with robots like StingerThor and Terrorhurtz), but at that time Killertron was the only robot to have an Axe that could attack on two sides rather than just one. The Axe was terrifyingly big, and thanks to the machines design of Big Wheels in the middle, and small on the front and back, The Axe came down with more force than most. Killertron would actually have a successful career, making it to the Heat final in series 1 and the grand final in series 2. From there it sort of got lost in the pages of robot history, but thanks to its terrifying weapon, it’s pink and yellow (and orange) colouration, it’s strange wheel design, and generally how good and amazing it looked; the show for those of us who remember the first episode got a treat but also a taster into what this show had in store for us all.

Mortis

1. Mortis – Throughout the show’s entire run, one robot stood out for me more than most. It was this tracked tank like vehicle, and it sported an impressive Axe (or Tanto Blade as it was called) that from the moment I saw it, just fell in love with it. From then on, it became a case of me cheering it on, and even when it was retired after series 4, I had hope that maybe one day, it may return. Yes, it never was UK Champion nor never reached a grand final (it did win the War of Independence for the UK though), but I always knew it should have been champion, and was pretty annoyed every time it was eliminated. Firstly it had an Axe, and then it gained a lifting arm. In the course of the show’s history, it was the most expensive machine built but sort of relatively underperformed and gained numerous faults, but when it was working just right, it showed everyone how capable it was of causing widespread damage to all its competitors. Many roboteers feared and loathed it and beating it in battle was considered a badge of honour by many. In hindsight, maybe it came in a bit too early, and was better built for later competitions, with some beating it by luck in the first couple of series; but from those early years onward, it remained my favourite; and while it has not been seen since, Mortis is still my Favourite Robot Wars Robot.

GENEPOOL





Top 5 Weapons I Would Choose In The Hunger Games

18 05 2016

Katniss Everdeen

I love The Hunger Games, by that I of course mean the combination of the Film and the Book, not necessarily the setting of jumping into an arena and having to kill people. A few years ago, after the release of the first one, I remember an interview that was conducted on some of the cast members who were asked how they would act inside the arena. Now for me, I would more than likely just hide in the corner, and cry my eyes out until I was either dead, or just go mad and become some kind of psychopath. In my head though, it’s a completely different story as I would see myself being like Blade and just be invincible going round killing everyone, but that is very unlikely. Anyway I thought I would do a post on what my ideal weapon choices would be in the arena.

M110A2 Self-Propelled Howitzer

Now I decided to sort of be semi-realistic in my choices. For one, I know I cannot bring anything in to the ring, so it prevents my 3 main options: Godzilla, a M110A2 Self-Propelled Howitzer and Lisbeth Salander; although fair point, Lisbeth Salander would receive double points for having access to a cool leather jacket.

Lisbeth Salander

It’s certainly better than wearing those swimming outfits in Catching fire. I mean, what would you prefer; the swimming costumes from Catching Fire, or a Cool Leather Jacket?

Anyway, under the point that I can’t necessarily take anything in, this list is made up of choices I would choose if they became available in the arena themselves. Now, I do realise that this list may seem a little bit rushed. I have had these dreams for a while of what I would choose, but have only just decided to do this as a post, and in the end, I don’t think I have used my imagination all that much, and this list is made up of more practical stuff mixed with things from Movies, and so I may eventually regret my choices (apart from the leather jacket), and do another one of these in the future with either some additional thought, a selection of weapons from the films/books, things I just made up. Anyway, here are my choices of what I was able to simple cobble together.

Mortis

5. Mortis – What could be better than if one of the choices was the robot Mortis from Robot Wars? What could be better than Mortis, the best robot in all of Robot Wars? Now he would be ranked higher if it wasn’t for the case of a remote-controlled robot being relatively impractical as you would spend most of your time behind the robot directing it rather than looking out for the girl from district 6 creeping up on you. But forgetting that bit, its axe would be so deadly an attack, you don’t necessarily need to kill anybody, just puncture them and let them bleed out. It’s a grim idea, but it might be easier on your conscience.

M4A1

4. M4A1 Assault Rifle – Ok, this one is mostly based on what fun I could get out of MW2 Multiplayer, but yeah. Why not choose a Gun? It makes complete and total sense; you can get it over with good and quick as long as your aim is good and true. Why not add the attachable grenade launcher, then that way you can set fire to any forestry around you and force people out before shooting them. Ok, it relies on you not wasting ammo; but why on earth would the Capitol only give you one clip?

Crossbow

3. CrossbowKatniss Everdeen had her bow and arrows; I would have my Crossbow (even though I should point out this is all hypothetical and I don’t actually own one). It’s similar to the above mentioned Gun, but this time it’s a bit more quiet and lethal. Yes, I can see a Crossbow coming quite handy in the Hunger Games, and I don’t mean just some old relic of a device, no! I mean a proper modern beast of a weapon, similar to the one used in Brainiac: Science Abuse for testing armour in a modern civil war, or like at the end of Reign of Fire when Christian Bale’s character kills the Big Dragon.

Quarriors

2. Quarriors Dice – If you have no idea what those 2 words mixed together mean, it’s obvious you have not played my Favourite Board Game. In Quarriors (using a similar sort of game play to Dominion, if you know what that is), you roll and collect dice to attack other people. Dice can be used to summon spells, and summon monsters. Just imagine it, you roll the dice, and in a similar vein to Yu-Gi-Oh, Monsters and Spells come out of the dice to attack your enemies.

Heimdall

1. Equipment from Thor – When I think about me being in The Hunger Games, one thing that always comes to mind is the film Thor, quite possibly because the night on the day that I first saw The Hunger Games, I went home and watched some scenes from Thor. Anyway, I have decided to call this bit Equipment of Thor (I know it does not sound all that exciting), because there are 3 things I can think of that would be quite useful to have in The Hunger Games. As to how you would get them is relatively obvious, basically you will be covered in lightning like Thor and receive the equipment as it is bonded to your body. Anyway, the items in question; Heimdall’s Armour, Heimdall’s Sword, and Thor’s Hammer. It’s all you really need isn’t it, just the basics, and the hammer could prove to be a useful escape route as you could just plough through a wall or the roof, or better yet, send the hammer flying and destroy the Capitol, end of The Hunger Games, everyone is free, let’s go home. Basically, all this time, I just see myself becoming Thor while also receiving some equipment from the mighty Heimdall too.

GENEPOOL








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