Here’s a gem from YouTube. If you’ve got about 35 minutes to spare watch this video from 1979. Life of Brian has just come out and this show has organised a “debate” between Python’s Cleese and Palin and two old Christian dudes.
Start watching at 3:10 for the debate, or go back to part 1 of 4 if you’re interested in hearing the Python lads’ talk (unopposed) about their movie. Be warned: it’s not a very controlled debate and there’s a fair bit of waffling.
If you put the old fashion, the Cold War references and that (now lost?) British extreme politeness aside it’s amazing how familiar the Christian vs skeptic debate is.
If I were to rate movies on cost-effectiveness Colin would be through the roof. It was made for $70. Say we peg the average Hollywood movie at $100 million then then Colin only has to be 0.0000007 as good. But the thing is, it’s at least 0.5 times as good as the average Hollywood hit. And Colin actually does something interesting, unlike many Hollywood affairs.
Colin, basically, is the story of a zombie in a fairly typical zombie outbreak. The production values, while outstanding for $70, are rough. The story has its ups and downs, it shambles through underwhelming chapters, strange chapters, gory chapters and some genuinely emotional chapters.
It seemed to me to be a story about disability. It’s a sort-of Zombie Gump. Whether this was intended I don’t know (a quick search on Google turned up nothing). Here’s my “proof”:
Rather than being berserk zombies, or sleepy shamblers, Colin’s undead seem to have problems controlling their bodies, twisting and spasming.
They’re not pure animal instinct. Some zombies apparently know that the handle operates a door (though they lack the motor skills to use it easily). Zombie Colin is drawn to sights and locations familiar to him in life, and he curiously examines certain objects as a child might.
There was a short scene where zombie Colin climbed a flight of stairs. Colin is meant to be a sympathetic character; generally wasn’t buying it. But here, when he overcomes something so simple (at least to most of us), I was cheering for him.
There’s a scene where a pair of yoofs mug zombie Colin for his shoes. That seems to be an idiotic thing to do days into a zombie apocalypse. But it makes more sense as a reference real-world attacks on disabled people.
Later, when a group of zombies are being exterminated by a vigilante group, it feels unjust because they are attacked preemptively. They stumble about confused as pipe-bombs detonate amongst them. When the mob closes in one can almost imagine they’re fighting back purely in self defense.
The movie’s best chapter is about Colin’s family finding him. It reminded me of The October Child, where caring for a difficult, disabled child puts immense destructive strain on a family. Unconditional love can seem illogical.
A massively impressive movie considering the budget, but due to extended periods of underwhelming plot this is probably not a go-to movie to watch for entertainment.
First up, why does the movie poster not show the main actor? Would the mob be put off by a nerdy-looking young teenage male lead?
Disclaimer: I have not read the book.
I enjoyed it. A solid sci-fi with some profundity, as they should be; not just an action movie painted with blasters and spaceship. It was compelling and fairly believable.
The film explores first-strike doctrine and (to a lesser extent) drone warfare, which are very relevant topics for our time. It’s not preachy and the themes are suitably nuanced.
Only three things annoyed me.
Firstly, the preoccupation with the weird zero-g sports arena. If skill in a weird sport produced super-strategists then our armies would be lead by lacrosse captains. But hey, I understand it’s more fun to watch space laser tag than it is to watch long scenes of studying orbital mechanics. (Besides, Ender’s ultimate laser-tag tactic exploits Newton’s third laws in quite a clever way.)
Secondly, there’s a running theme that any strategic situation can be won if you think hard enough and come up with an unconventional gimmick. Failure to think of such a gimmick means you’re a bad leader. Of course, this is way overblown; if such a thing were true the Allies would’ve never beaten Hitler and his strange ideas. Other important leadership qualities are mentioned in passing, but the happenings in the plot makes it clear the reality is gimmick uber alles.
Finally (spoilers here) was the ending, where Ender saves the alien race he blew up. At first I thought this was a Hollywood focus-group feel-good addition, but it turns out the book did something similar. Here’s my armchair writer/director improved ending: The cadets cheers as they win their graduation “game” but Ender keeps watching and is confused as to why the simulation is showing graphic detail of the planet’s destruction. He quietly asks this of General Solo and/or Colonel Tattoo-face, who tell him it was not a game and explain why they had to trick him. Show Ender’s reaction of horror as the crowd cheers around him; fade to black.
It’s an entertaining sci-fi that’ll make you think, at least a little. It makes no critical mistakes yet it doesn’t quite achieve excellence.