Symptom 110: Star Trek III - Klingon Bastard You've Killed My Son

The crew couldn’t make it this week, which left me alone in the studio. So of course I decided to review a Star Trek film. I have returned to the odd numbered Trek films with Star Trek III: The Search For Spock. It is seen as the ok odd numbered film, but it is more than that. It is a deep exploration of loss, death, life and rebirth. It asks what you would lose and how far you would go for a friend. Who would you be if you lost everything that made you who you are?

Star Trek III is flawed, but most movies our. This film suffers from being sandwiched between The Wrath of Kahn and the Voyage Home. On its own merit, it is a good, not great or bad film.

Symptom 109: Battlefield Earth - It Is Scientology's Fault

Battlefield Earth. What can we really say. Travolta mailed it in and seemed to channel the worst aspects of Williams Shatner, nobody else could even remotely act their way out of a wet paper bag and there isn’t a single character the viewer cares about. Adding insult to injury this isn’t even saved by great visuals or sound design. It just sucks. This movie was rightfully called maybe the worst movie of the century. It has not a single redeeming quality. It is nonsensical, lacks a coherent plot and makes no relevant social commentary. Battlefield Earth is the worst science fiction has to offer. It does not work as a drama, an action movie, comedy or thought provoking study of the human condition and unlike Star Crash or Plan Nine From Outer Space, it isn’t so bad it is good either. It is just so bad that it is bad. It didn’t kill Travolta’s career but it probably should have.

Symptom 108: Solo, You Should Have Been Good

The theme this month is movies that bombed that should have been can’t miss success stories. Nothing, and I mean nothing fits that bill more than Solo. First, it is a Star Wars tale. Star Wars should by the virtue of being the second most successful franchise ever (well first if you don’t count the entire 1,834 movie MCU) always be a massive box office smash. Secondly though, is that that this was the back story of Han Solo. One of the most identifiable and iconic characters of a generation. Easy right? Young Han Solo meets Lando, saves Chewie, makes the Kessel run in less than 12 parsecs and wins the Falcon in a game of Sabacc. Simple. A grad student could write it.

Well, either because this was really Train Heist with Young Han Solo and Roy Munson from Kingpin or that the Mouse had pissed off 80% of the fandom by either scrapping the EU, killing Luke or politicizing Star Wars and what you get is a Star Wars film that lost a dumptruck full of money and halted future movie productions beyond episode 9.


Solo: How to Kill An American Film Icon! Now Playing Near You!

Symptom 107: Pacific Rim Uprising, A Fun Disaster

Fighting robots. Large fighting robots battling Godzilla like alien creatures. How can this not be awesome? Well, it probably was awesome. It was two hours of fun action that was visually amazing. If it wasn’t for four transformers movies and the 1st Pacific Rim movie, plus however many Godzilla and Cloverfield movies in the last few years, it probably would have been awesome. Pacific Rim Uprising is a victim of fighting robot fatigue. A decent, mindlessly fun romp that in 2008 would have killed, but in 2018 is just tired. After losing money I think it is safe to say this franchise will be returning exclusively to the world of Anime/Manga and done with big screen efforts. Its somewhat sad too, because there was really nothing wrong with this movie.

Symptom 106: Valerian And The City Of...At Least It Looked Good

Space Kids Save The World!!!

I mean Valerian and the City Of…dear god this title is just to long. Valerian. There, I fixed your title. Pay me. Seriously, we can remember Valerian and the City of 1000 Planets. Shorter. Shorter, as my podcast title is longer.

This movie should have been amazing. Conceptually it has it all for space drama. An artificial construction in space that houses 1000’s of species, an interdimensional portal with two realities existing in the same space? A species devastated by two warring factions trying to reclaim its power? Power, witty, government/quasi military agents fighting for their lives and uncovering a military coverup? An effects budget that makes Michael Bay and JJ Abrams cry tears of joy? How was this not amazing?

Lack of a plot. Lack of a story. Bad acting. Horrific casting, dialogue that makes Anakin’s I hate sand speech sound like Romeo and Juliet in comparison. Oh, and yes, focusing way to much on the visual at the expense of telling any sort of story.

Valerian - the murdering of a concept with a movie that is two long, cramming at least two films into one, that is visually amazing at the expense of having any resources spent on plot - and 1000 worlds, or something.


Space Kids Save The Day In Technicolor CGI!!!!!

Missed It March!

March is here, and in Ohio we know it is March because the temperature hit 40 degrees and everyone has busted out their shorts like its 80. For this month our theme is movies that missed it. Not just movies that missed, but movies that missed when it should have been nearly impossible to miss. We will discuss Valerian and the City of A Thousand…whatever I literally fell asleep, Pacific We’re Not Transformers Rim as well as Solo - The Film That Nearly Murdered Star Wars.

All of these films should have been can’t miss blockbusters. All of these were good films, even the one I fell asleep watching (it was late). Ragemaster might vehemently disagree on Solo but they were good films but one reason or another, all of them were box office failures. This month we discuss why these movies failed and why the should not have failed.

Missed it March - movies that were good but box office albatrosses.

Supplement: Captain Marvel and Toxic Fandom

Captain Marvel. Is it going to be a tour de force and another jewel in the MCU crown? Or is it a bomb waiting to happen because the creators have lost touch with the base? Or is it a great movie that is going to be unfairly shouted down by crying man baby toxic fans who can’t handle a lead that isn’t a white male?

Captain Marvel has brought the toxic fandom debate into the center stage again. Are fans resistant to change because they have come to identify with a character and feel protective of it, or are they resistant to change because they just don’t want to watch movies with diverse casts and political messages? Have creators lost touch? Is it all of these things? Is it none of these things?

In this Sci-Fi Malady/Quick Rants! crossover I attempt to answer these questions.

Spoiler - everyone is right and everyone is wrong.

RageMaster Rips A Clip VII

After a long hiatus, longer than the Quick Rants hiatus, but not as long as the America Asunder break, RageMaster has returned to rip a clip. This his target is Neill Blomkamp (I thought i was done spelling that name) and Elysium, particularly the part where the medical bay can restore and recreate from thin air a man’s brain that was more messed up than JKF’s by detecting brain activity. Ragemaster isn’t asking for the tech in science fiction to be fully believable, Death Stars, Lightsabers, Hal 9000, warp drive and transporters are fine, but he at least wants an effort made to present it in a way that we, the viewer, believe that some “the future” can make the tech in question feasible.

Symptom 105: Chappie Like Podcast

Blomkamp month wraps up with a review of Chappie, the movie that starts deep discussions but doesn’t really finish them. This movie seems to want to talk about so many critical social issues, nature versus nature, how a child’s behavior can be equally influenced by his parents and his own experiences and how that same child can overcome that conditioning. It toys with the idea that a robot has to be taught evil and tricked into harming people, but humans seem to figure out how to be evil naturally. It also wants to discuss corporate greed and how creative genius is stifled in the name of profit. At times this movie is echoing RoboCop and discussing the dangers of contracting vital public services to the private sector.

The problem is that in trying to discuss all of these things the movie discusses none of them very well. What we are left with is a decent action film with a philosophy 101 discussion of major social issues. The movie is a potential science fiction epic that needed a re-write forcing the story to focus on the primary point - is evil a taught or natural state. Are we who we are or are we the product of our environment and experiences. There is also probably room for a good discussion on what it says about humans that the synthetic intelligence Chappie has more compassion for human life than the humans in this story do.

All in all this is movie has some really good moments but it falls short and falls apart because it suffers from shiny ball syndrome and tries to discuss to many topics for one film.

Symptom 104: Elysium - The Good Side of Town

We continue or exploration of the works of Neil Blomkamp with Elysium. You know, the movie that put a very fine point on the class struggle between the poor and ultra rich. The movie that came out when the term “the 1%” was just gaining steam. That movie. Well, while we all thought it would be a progressive left power fest, it was really just an action film. Yep. Just Matt Damon punching things into submission.

Oh wait, sarcasm font doesn’t exist. Yes, this is exactly what we thought it was. It is a progressive left tale of the woefully unbalanced distribution of wealth and power. How the rich can’t be arrested, have access to all the best health care while the poor are shuffled off to die or arrested on their way to work. There is an immigration commentary as well as a labor rights discussion. Unfortunately the movie is a shallow as a a puddle in a pothole and once you dive in your find the substance of a good, balanced discussion is missing. Unlike District 9 this one lacks depth of any kind. Maybe Chappie will be a little deeper?

For record, one of us really didn’t like this movie and might be writing the show notes. The other two felt it was ok/average and might not be writing the show notes.

****I apologize for the delay and for the audio issues this week. The delay was due to attempting to clean up the audio as much as possible. There is some distortion all throughout this recording due to latency. I recently purchased a new computer and the pairing with the interface wasn’t correctly done and it resulted in a latency/lag that i did not catch until after editing was being done and it could not be corrected. This will be fixed for Symptom 105***

Symptom 103: District Nine

We start Neil Blomkamp month with a review of District 9. Far more than just a sci-fi action move (which it is, and a good one) It is an interesting commentary on Apartheid but more than that the movie is an intriguing discussion on the cultural tribalism that prevails in humanity to this day. We still, at all levels divide groups into us and them, placing far for value on us than we do on “them”. There is also a sub message within this one that sometimes to find your humanity and compassion you have to lose your own identify, status and belonging with an “Us” group. District is a great piece of science fiction that is well paced, full of meaning and enjoyable, while being accessible to all.

Supplemental: The Top 14 Episodes of Star Trek

To conclude Trekkin into the New Year month I felt it was necessary to add a supplemental episodes that answered a couple questions:

  1. Why did I choose the four I did?

  2. What other episodes did I consider and why didn’t they make the cut?

As I started writing the supplemental episode it occurred to me that I might as rank the episodes that did not make the top four from 14 down to five. When originally figuring out the top four I didn’t rank these episodes, I did that in preparation for this supplement. In the original preparation I simply looked at an episode and said should it be considered for the top four that we will review on the podcast. These 14 episodes are the ones that were considered for the top four list. Of course this selection logic leads to another question and that is


Well, I answer that. At least I hope I did. You may not agree and that’s ok, because this is my list and no one else’s list.

I feel like there was one other question I needed to address in this list, but what was it? What could it be?

Oh yes, why didn’t City on the Edge of Forever make the cut? Well, in my opinion, it could just as easily be a great episode of the Outer Limits with almost no changes and three other actors playing the parts written for Bones, Spock and Kirk as different characters. If that can happen, is it really essential Trek or the best of Trek? The best of Trek should have a uniqueness to Trek and City just doesn’t feel unique to Star Trek.

Symptom 102: The Corbomite Manuever

We finish off Trekkin’ into the New Year with The Corbomite Maneuver. It is talky. It is slow. It is cheesy. It also represents the very best of what Star Trek has to say about humanities future. Don’t fear the unknown, embrace and often you will find that the unknown is not frightening. Don’t fear other cultures because often you have more in common than you think. Be who you say are not only when it is easy to be that person, but be the person you claim to be one it is hardest to be that person. That is Star Trek in a nutshell and it is wonderful. For these reasons and more this is in my mind (Scott) the very best Star Trek has to offer.

Symptom 101: Balance of Terror

Trekking into the new year leaves behind the faster, more fun filled romps like Mirror Mirror and Doomsday Machine this week and looks at Balance of Terror. This is simply one of the best episodes in the entire franchise. It speaks to the core of the Roddenberry ideal, that we aren’t all that different if we take the time to look past fear and prejudice. Balance of Terror also examines war from the perspective of the individuals who fight it and its impact on them. This episode is Kirk at his finest, it is Star Trek in one of it’s best hours and an all around excellent piece of science fiction - even if sound doesn’t travel through space and space warfare would not be like submarine warfare.

Symptom 100: The Doomsday Machine

100 Episodes in. Thank you to anyone who has listened to this podcast. For our 100th episode what better than a review of one of the best episodes of the original Star Trek - The Doomsday Machine. This one has it all, a message about the socio-political climate of the 1960’s, action, space combat, great acting by the primary cast and the guest stars and an early treatment of post traumatic stress disorder. Sure, in the 1960’s they didn’t fully understand and that rings through but today, more than 50 years later, the episode works as a discussion on the effects of trauma on the human psyche. This episode holds up well over the test of time, in terms of story, acting and visually. Doomsday Machine - simply an example of Star Trek at it very best.

Symptom 99: Mirror Mirror

Finally, 99 episodes in and we finally dedicate a month to my favorite franchise - Star Trek. January is Trekkin into the new year in which we review my favorite episodes of The Original Series. We kick off Trekkin into the new year by reviewing Mirror Mirror, the episode that brought you evil Spock with a beard. This episode make the list because it is culturally iconic, is an example of excellent acting by the main cast, a solid script, good action and a story that encapsulates the Roddenberry ideal. All in all it is a great piece of science fiction.

Symptom 98: Bits and Pieces

We wrap up 2018, or I guess start 2019 with a free from show where we revisit old topics, add to or amend our prior positions on things, or just hit topics we really didn’t throughout the year. In this weeks show we hit on:

  1. Walter Peck in Ghostbusters - was he REALLY the villain?

  2. Why Ragemaster doesn’t want a sequel for The Thing from The Things perspective, and why Scott does

  3. Star Trek Discovery

  4. The failure of DC’s movies

  5. Stranger Things Season 3

  6. How Disney nearly killed Star Wars

Symptom 97: Welcome To The Party Pal

Merry Christmas from Sci-Fi Malady!

This week, its not really a Sci-Fi Malady as we review a decidedly non science fiction movie - the greatest Christmas movie ever - Die Hard.

I know, I know, this is a science fiction show, why are you reviewing Die Hard. Well, because it is Christmas and I wanted to. Next week we are back to sci-fi, but for this week, yipee kai yay sickies and shoot the glass. Somehow, this movie is the first and only movie we all gave a 10.

Symptom 96: Robert Downey Jr's First Sci-Fi Movie Is Weird

Do you remember the 80’s? If you do then you will love Weird Science. If you don’t physically remember the 80’s by living through them you will be horrified by the casual objectifying of women, writer’s thinking its ok for two 15 year boys to create and living adult sex bot with I dream of Genie powers, and that Bill Paxton’s character opens doors with his shotgun, and he’s the responsible one.

This one really depends on when you were born. If you grew up in the 80’s its a fun coming of age, teenage party romp. If you grew up with cell phones, it is a monstrosity. I side with fun.