Discussion in 'Science Fiction & Fantasy' started by Kail, Nov 21, 2015.
Looks like it's now down to $100 for preorder at amazon.com.
I seemed to have been the karmic balance to all the people who got their copies early from Amazon, mine ended up not arriving at all. It was supposed to get here on Tuesday, but the weather was bad, and their system doesn't seem to be set up to handle late packages. When it hadn't arrived by today, I cancelled delivery and went to a Best Buy and had to have someone go into the back to get it. We are in dark days for both physical media and retail.
It was really good to be back in the old place. For the story and dialog, it had a bit of a crossover kind of vibe, all the characters were heightened versions of themselves. I can see how it could be intended to be a decent "taster" for the series for new people, but I also see the argument that it bounces around a lot and if you aren't inclined to go with the flow, that could be off-putting if you can't immediately zoom in on the context (or if you're providing too much context on your own; two different places in the story I was wondering about Anna Sheridan). I was a little nervous about the spoilers I saw about the movie ending in an alternate timeline; I'd thought that meant Sheridan didn't end up back home, but he did, and that's nice. The movie slots in pretty cleanly in a chronological watch-through (unlike, say, The Lost Tales, which has the pre-credits sequence "rewinding" from "Sleeping in Light").
I'm not too thrilled about the prospect of future movies in that timeline, though. I do defend the episodic, slice-of-life, world-building aspects of the Earth Force-uniform era of the show, but "Babylon 5: No arc, just vibes" is a very hard sell. I feel like filling in the conspicuous missing pieces and doing new all new stuff in the mainline universe a la what TLT was intended to be would be a better path forward, especially in the best-case scenario that the animations and the live action show both continue on. We'd basically have a prestige-drama alternate universe, and a coffeeshop alternate universe. Though that could be intriguing to JMS; his original lightbulb moment was realizing that the Casablanca-in-space and fall-and-rise-of-empires sci-fi story ideas were actually the same story, one telling the other in microcosm, so splitting Babylon 5 back into its two components might be something he'd find interesting or refreshing.
As for the visuals, I'm more on the design-purist side of things, but given that it was stylized animation, I'm not going to begrudge them every set and starship reimagining. They always looked interesting, if not necessarily better, and they captured the vibe where it counted. I do have some notes, though.
First of all, I saw JMS explain that, since Vir, Zack, and Corwin (and, I suppose, Number One) weren't in the movie except for the one shot recreated from "Objects at Rest," they didn't spare the money to secure their likeness rights, which is why Vir has some conspicuous facial hair, Zack was a security guard of a different ethnicity, and Cowin was a woman. Didn't seem to apply to Marcus, though, which is odd, considering what we heard.
Couple of little glitches with the space shots. B5 isn't rotating from time to time, and the Observation Dome is upside-down. On the other hand, I feel like there must've been on Babylon 5 die-hard on the animation team who just put all their energy into the space-battle shots during the not-quite-alternate-War-Without-End timeline. We got the cobra bays, a Starfury flip-and-fire, all four of the defense grid guns (complete with the correct doors opening!) and even the Starfury grappling claw.
I was a touch disappointed with the quality of the 4K blu-ray. I'm not sure what exactly it was, but especially in the first parts of the movies, there were some strange artifacts around some of the linework, like it was a little overcompressed, which is not something that should be happening for a 75 minute movie on a 100 gigabyte disc. Unfortunately, I don't have an HDR screen, so I can't speak to that aspect of the transfer.
Marcus had a line or two in a "War Without End" flashback. Leaving him out would've required a retcon.
Nothing particularly stood out with regards to the HDR to me, although I'm hardly an expert. (Note that I also didn't notice the artifacts you mentioned either. )
Is it actually a 100 GB disc? I thought UHD also came in 33 GB and 67 GB variants. (It looks like a two-layer disc to me, so 67 GB.)
I suppose it would’ve been more noticeable than the others if he was replaced by his non-union animated equivalent, since he was talking.
Today I learned; I always heard about 4K discs in the context of BD-100, I thought that was the standard size. And the movie file actually is 32 GB, so it probably is a 33 GB disc.
It was mostly the fine lines on Sheridan’s face during the turkey conversation I noticed, but looking again, it might be a glitch with the depth-of-field effect. Parts of his face seem to be rendered at half-resolution, that could be the result of a bad blur. In any case, the problem is probably with the master itself and not the disc.
So far, it's a good movie, but the replacement actors did a good job mimic-ing the original actors voices or style.
But it still feels like another "Side Story".
Setting up a pretty massive viewpoint shift, however.
Aside: I was watching an episode of Stacy Keach's "Mike Hammer" series today (the 90s revival, not the 80s one), and two of the suspects in the episode were Denise Gentile and Ed Wasser, as a sleazy talent agent and a sleazy lawyer, respectively.
Mr Morden did it. In the end Mike outdrew him and blasted him into a swimming pool.
The Shadows will not be pleased.
Though, I guess that does beg a discussion point, though I think I know how this will go...do folks think the Shadows had any particular regard for Morden, or was he, in the end, just a disposable tool for them? They seemed to at least care enough to heal him after the Z'ha'boom, but then, if that was trivial and finding a new 'ambassador' would have been a hassle, then maybe that was more a matter of convenience than anything else.
Morden was a tool for the Shadows. They didn't care about him. They cared as far as his usefulness went.
Morden already had an in with Earth, the Centauri, and others. It was likely easier to heal him and keep that networked person in than to find someone else and start again.
Time was likely a factor, too. The Shadows, once awoken, probably had a timetable on what they wanted done, and they didn't want to deviate too far from it. Losing Morden and his connections would likely have set back even further their timetable.
"Care" is probably the wrong, but they recognized that someone willing to help them was better than someone unwilling, and were going to invest in his health and success. One Morden is worth a dozen Annas, after all. And Morden was highly motivated to help the Shadows, since they gave him what he wanted more than anything else.
Though that makes me wonder why, when the Shadows had to choose, they picked a reluctant Londo rather than an amoral Refa. Londo was trying to break things off with them, but Refa was pulling them in tighter. Unless it wasn't about repairing their relationship with Londo, but using Londo to eliminate Refa so they could have direct access to Cartagia.
Maybe they thought, rightly or wrongly, that if push came to shove then Refa would ultimately be harder to control than Londo proved to be? Londo was pretty easily manipulated for the bulk of the series, while we didn't really get a sense of what might have mattered to Refa beyond power.
I do wonder how things might have turned out if the Shadows had aligned with the Narn rather than the Centauri, and how close that came to happening...and if that happens in the movie, please don't tell me so!
Reefa wanted to be Emperor.
Londo wanted his people on top.
Different goals, and different roads to get there.
Well they wouldn't have aligned with the Narns for the simple reason that the Narns were inherently limited, which was the whole point of that scene with Morden & G'Kar. Murdering all the Centauri to death was the extent of their ambitions. Had the Shadows facilitated that desire, they'd be left like the proverbial dog that caught a car. They wouldn't know what to do with themselves beyond that point.
Remember that the Shadows weren't just looking for belligerents for the sake of belligerence. They had specific goals in mind, and those goals required agents of chaos with limitless ambitions and scope.
What made the Centauri so perfect and so dangerous was precisely that they were a fading power. A culture that has once tasted "glory" will do almost anything to claw it back, given the opportunity (even if it was never actually all that glorious to begin with.)
The Narns were never in that position, so that's just not a part of their collective psychology. At worst, they'd be the bully that got big enough to bully others in turn. If unleashed; a danger to themselves and anyone within arms reach for sure, but that path is ultimately cowardly and protective. Not good material for the Shadows; but as it turned out, perfect for the Vorlons.
That reminds me, I recently had an epiphany about one of Babylon 5's better worst episodes, "Infection." I've seen the theory that the Ikarran war-suit was probably a bit of Shadow technology provided to goose a conflict during one of the previous Shadow Wars (as with the Technomages), but it occurred to me that the description of why the suit went wrong, that it was programmed with such a strictly dogmatic view of its own people that no one could actually live up to in practice actually sounded more like the Vorlons. It could be Ikarra was a one-planet battleground between the Vorlons and the Shadows.
It would take 12 soldiers with arm cannons decades to kill 4 billion people.
Maybe they were blowing up nuclear shit, taking out entire cities judged unworthy?
Then of course the Vorlons don't like unchecked Shadow tech running, while the Shadows are sleeping.
The Vorlons could have killed everyone after it took those super soldiers a year to individually judge and execute 50,000 peoples.
It's still a shit episode.
At a rate of one Ikarran blasted per second, it would take about eleven years. I kind of didn't mind the episode for its 50's shlock SF body horror vibe. It did introduce any audience member unfamiliar with TNG or Doctor Who to cyborgs created by advanced nanotechnology. More dumb than shit, I felt.
I actually thought "INFECTION" was a good tie-in to the weaving thread of racial purity that was used in multiple arcs of the show, especially with certain human elements and some Minbari castes.
Also, it was the first episode shot for the series after THE GATHERING, so I can see what people mean by the weakness of it.
Saw The Road Home tonight. It's a bit late and I'm having trouble composing my thoughts, so I think I'll leave it at thinking it was alright, but it didn't quite turn out to feel as special as I was hoping for, some of the decisions relating to the presentation were a bit hit-or-miss for me, and the ending left me with a number of questions.
I'll definitely be curious to listen to the commentary, but I don't think this is going to change my overall view that JMS captured lightning in a bottle with the original series and maybe it would have been best if things had been left at that.
I believe Crusade could have had a good 5-year arc if it hadn't suffered from network interference and, of course, cancelation. It would always have been a lot more niche, though, and it would have struggled to attract and maintain an audience. If there's any continuation, I'd prefer a reboot of Crusade to a reboot of B5. It is basically a D&D party on a campaign in space, so perhaps it's too niche if it attracts only fans of the intersection of the sets of two genres? I'd like to think it would be a union rather than an intersection. I've never been into D&D, but I didn't mind the affectation.
Maybe the strongest concern I have...
Spoiler: The Road Home
Firstly, I didn't like the implication that the Icarus was solely responsible for waking the Shadows. It seems to go against the (previously?) canonical story that the Icarus might have been a catalyst, but that the Shadows were already active. But then, I really like "The Shadow Within", and I don't like seeing that get retconned. It's one thing when it's a theory the characters have, but another to see it explicitly dramatized.
Consequently though...how does the end timeline even work? If we assume the Icarus didn't go to Z'ha'dum, and that it would have been responsible for waking the Shadows, then shouldn't this universe's John Sheridan be married to Anna? Or are we to also assume that Anna fell down an elevator shaft at some point in this timeline? How does the Minbari War happen if Dukhat's flagship wasn't en route to Z'ha'dum when it encountered Prometheus? This just seems a lot like a thread where if you try to pluck at it then a lot of other things begin to unravel.
Unrelated: I'm always up for a good multiverse story, but paradoxically I both wish we'd gotten to see more of the various timelines, and also that we'd gotten some more interesting ones than what we got. Probably the most compelling aspect of this story was the idea that if "the good guys" lost the Shadow War then the Vorlons would have destroyed Earth, but the fact that we only see three people on the entire planet and that Earth looks so boring make the execution far less than it might have been.
Also did not care for the new Shadow ship design. Please bring back the spiderships with the purple rays of doom!
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