Archive for the ‘Pointless Geek Debates’ Category

The timing of this post really has nothing to do with the upcoming release of Batman: The Dark Knight Rises. It has more to do with a debate I read about which Joker was better, and someone saying, I kid you not, “You only like Ledger in that movie because he died.” Really, no kidding. Someone actually said that to me.  I was stunned.  Anyway, let me first say I’m a huge fan of both Jokers and both of the versions of Batman they come from, and that’s key to understanding why this debate is pointless.  I grew up watching reruns of Batman on TV, reading some of the 80’s comics, and had probably one of the best comic runs of Batman in my opinion, Batman:  Legends of the Dark Knight  (I know, everyone says Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is the best, but I wasn’t collecting at that time).

Jack Nicholson’s Joker

First we take a look at Jack Nicholson’s Joker, from the Tim Burton film Batman.  The film itself, was an updated, and darker version, of the classic comic books and shows.  Violence was relatively tame, the darker elements of the Batman story were kept fairly light-hearted, and the action was what one expects from a super-hero movie of the time.

I have to say I thoroughly enjoyed this movie.  Michael Keaton was great as both Bruce Wayne, and Batman, and the chemistry between Keaton and Nicholson made the conflict between their characters fun to watch.  As far as Nicholson goes, playing the Joker, well it’s Jack Nicholson.  I don’t think I’ve seen a single role of his that wasn’t fantastic.  He brought the sadistic, humorous crazy that is that version of the Joker.  There really is no comparison for this version of the Joker in live-action film or TV.  Remember that, this version of the Joker…live-action.

Heath Ledger’s Joker


Now, we move on to Heath Ledger’s Joker. As seen in Batman: The Dark Knight.  Chris Nolan brought us a much darker version of Batman with his trilogy of movies.  His remind me more of the darker spin-offs of the Batman comics, and nothing at all like the TV show or previous movies.  The action is brutal, violent, and realistic.  Nolan’s batman is presented in a much more real-world frame of mind, with a little less camp, and much more seriousness.

These type of movies call for an entirely different version of the Joker.  Ledger’s version calls to mind the Joker from Legends of the Darknight, or Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns.  This Joker still laughs, but it’s not funny at all.  He brings a sick and sadistic humor that makes you uncomfortable to laugh at.  This version is completely different than Nicholson’s, but equally as brilliant.

That’s really the core of why this debate is pointless.  These version of the Joker are both totally different, called from different version of the Batman mythology, and protrayed in different ways to meet the needs of the film and story.  They are both perfect for the role that they were playing, and both played by great actors.  In both cases they made these movies what they were, and I can’t honestly think of better actors to have played them at the time.

All that said, I think it goes without question though, these two were perfect for the live-action version of the Joker, but they both pale in comparison to this Joker.

This is one I’ve seen going on for a while, and being a huge fan of the classic Robotech, I’m always surprised when people are so heated when they talk about hating it compared to the original version.  A little background for all the readers that aren’t in the know.  Macross is an anime series released in Japan in 1982 by Studio Nue, and later adapted in 1985 by Harmony Gold for release in the United States.  The U.S. version is called Robotech:  The Macross Saga.  The series is about an alien space craft, later dubbed the SDF-1, that crashes on Earth.  The realization that we are truly not alone causes the Earth’s countries to form a world government, which also sparks a long war.  Eventually the war is won, the spacecraft is rebuilt and adapted for human-sized crew (it is originally designed by giant aliens), and everyone goes to the island to celebrate the ship’s maiden voyage.  The real action starts when aliens that had been searching for the ship finally track it to Earth and seek to reclaim it.  The series is full of action, drama, romance, love and loss.  It touches on mature themes, not sex or graphic violence, but death, sacrifice, and dealing with fear.  Having watched the entire Robotech series I can safely say this classic will appeal to kids and adults alike, and is a fond memory of my childhood.

I have wanted to write this up for a while, but have yet to see the original Macross until recently.  After I did, my assertion that this debate is pointless is even more concrete.  Sadly I couldn’t get very far in the series.  It was the same as Robotech, for the most part, but I had some issue with the voice acting mainly.  Watching something more than once can be fun, I’ve rewatched plenty of series and movies, but rewatching something in a version that you find inferior is nearly impossible, even for research.  I know, shock and awe, I called Macross inferior.  It’s my opinion, and I’ll explain shortly.

Like I said, I watched the first few episodes of Macross and I couldn’t honestly get much further.  It’s not bad mind you, but to me it wasn’t as good as Robotech in enough places to make me want to sit through the entire series.  But, first the good.  I liked the music better in this series for the most part.  Some of the Robotech music had a tendency to be redundant and blaring, sometimes not fitting the scene it was placed in.  Robotech didn’t have bad music at all, but when I watched a couple of episodes of Macross I noticed that I liked the music there much better.  Other than that, what I liked about the series is the same as what I like about Robotech, because they are the same show.  The story is the same, animation and sound effects are the same.  I did notice that Robotech cut out little bits here and there, if I’m remembering correctly, and I imagine that was due to making it fit U.S. TV show formats at the time.  Nothing major mind you.

What didn’t I like about it?  Well, really the thing that made me turn it off and send my discs back to Netflix is the voice acting.  The casting of the english voices and the acting was awful in my opinion.  Here you have a story about a military organization fighting to save the world, and most of the characters sound and act like whiny teenagers, especially the hero Hikaru Ichijyo (Rick Hunter in Robotech), who sounds like he’s about thirteen.  Now, I watched the dubbed version I imagine, and I’m sure purists would recommend you watch the original format with subtitles, but then we are back to square one.  Watching the same series but reading dialogue instead of listening.  I just couldn’t get over this, having watched Robotech, where the voice acting was dramatic, adult, and very well done for a children’s animated series.

I can’t say the show is bad though.  It’s exactly like one of my favorite animes of all time.  There’s just a couple of things that make me like it a little less than Robotech, and therefore no reason for me to watch it all the way through.  I do intend to watch the rest of the movies and shows that come after if I can find them, and I will pray the voice acting is better.

Now, onto Robotech.  What can I say that hasn’t already been said.  I love this series.  It deals with the human experience of war, love and loss with the backdrop of impending world annihilation by an alien invasion force.  It doesn’t avoid difficult topics like fear and death, like many children’s series did at the time.  While it’s an anime series which is normally considered an adult market, this show was released in the U.S. at a time when animated shows were still for kids.

I have fond memories of watching this show on TV (yes I’m that old) with my mom and brother.  My mom, at the time, said she liked it as much as some of her day-time TV, which says something about the writing and direction of this series.  It is different, in little ways, from the original series, Macross.  Voice actors and the narrator are different.  Music is different, but the core of the show, the animation and the story are the same.  I bought the complete series on DVD some years ago, complete with all the extras and bonus material, and watched it through completely, and I wasn’t disappointed.  The series holds up well over time and with both of us having matured many years since last I saw it.

I’ve even taken to reading the books that were put out quite some time ago.  They are fun little reads, and I think would be good for adults and children alike.

Now, why is it pointless to debate which is better?  Because they are the same!  Sure, like me, you can have a reason why you like one over the other.  You can have an opinion on whether watching in its original form is more entertaining, but you can’t really lay down a definitive fact about which is better.  I’ve seen some of the dumbest, elitist, arguments about this and it just makes me shake my head.  One of them…well I’ve seen this more than once, but the one that really makes me want to choke kittens is, “The animation in Macross is so much better.”  WHAT?!  The animation cells are EXACTLY THE SAME!  The only difference I noticed in the show’s animation was some coloring, and I may be remembering this wrong on both accounts, and a few tiny cuts in the length of shows.  As far as the actual animation goes, there is no difference.  All in all, debating which is better is completely pointless.  Tell each other which one you like better and why, but for goodness sake, stop trying to prove that one is factually better than the other.

I was doing my morning workout the other day, flipping through the Netflix instant watch when I found the classic BSG (Battlestar Galactica) on the list.  I also saw the new one, and I thought why not?  I haven’t seen the old one in years, let’s give it a looksee.  As I was watching it, I was reminded of all the debates and arguments online about which one is better, and which one should be considered ‘official’ etc.  This also gave me a great idea for a feature.  There are pages upon pages of text devoted to arguments that are, actually, very important.  Who would win in a fight between Chuck Norris and Jet Li?  Who’s faster, Superman or the Flash?  Who’s the most immasculine vampire, Lestat or Edward Cullen?  Some debates, however, are just plain dumb, and I am going to apply my humble writing skills to explain why.  For this first installment of ‘Pointless Geek Debates’…Battlestar Galactica (the classic) vs. Battlestar Galactica (the new series).

So, first up on the block, the classic Battlestar Galactica.

What does this timeless classing have going for it?  No one can deny that the show was ahead of its time, as a science fiction show on television.  It has amazing effects and sound, some would say almost as good as anything in the theaters in that era.  It had a compelling story, humans, near extinction, struggling to survive with dwindling resources and on the run from an enemy force that seeks their annihilation.  The writing is good, for a show of that time, without too much of the expected sci-fi jargon to throw off the casual water, but enough to make you feel like you are in a different place.  The acting, for the most part, isn’t bad from the starring cast, and certainly no worse that network TV had to present anywhere else.  All of this, however, is related to the time it was released.

What does it have going for it now?  Nostalgia, plain and simple, oh and hair (the hair is big in space).  Compared to shows today it’s sorely lacking when it comes to effects, sound, and writing.  The only thing that honestly holds my interest with the show, is memories of watching it as a kid.  The dialogue is fairly basic and dated.  It does well with the ships, sets and models, for the most part, due to how well they did originally, but when stacked up against many shows today, sci-fi or not, this show just doesn’t cut it.  I know, that’s probably going to get me all kinds of hate from those who can’t seem to take off their kid goggles, but hey, this is just my opinion.

All in all I think the original BSG is a good show, for the hard core sci-fi viewers that enjoy just what it is.  Campy, science fiction with decent sets and props and a good story behind it.  Kids would probably still love it, and older fans obviously still enjoy the show.

Jump ahead a few years and you have the SciFi original show Battlestar Galactica.

I remember seeing the pilot for this show, when it first hit the SciFi channel, and being totally blown away by it.  The way the dogfights were shot, like you were actually there flying next to them.  The sound effects, the animation and models, it was all great.  There were also the touches that connected it to my childhood memories of BSG.  Some of the same terminology, the old-school viper fighters, the names of the characters.  The writing is fantastic, and it carries the same story as the first, but delivered in a much more compelling way.  I can honestly say that this show is one of the few that the family watched religiously, only missing two episodes on their air date.

Of course it has its flaws.  Not all of the acting was top notch, but the ones who were good overshadowed the ones that weren’t.  There were some plot holes, but nothing so glaring that it took away from the enjoyment of the show.  I didn’t always like what they did with characters, but that was more of an emotional reaction, it was good for the story in the end.  The end, while it was the best ending of any show I’ve seen, I didn’t want to see it end.  I like shows that have a concrete beginning and end, never like to see them struggle and die a slow death of low ratings, but I really wanted to see more.  Again, more of an emotional reaction than a logical one.  It had to end, and it ended well.

I could go on for days about this series.  It’s obvious that I liked it, and this isn’t really a review.  Would I watch it again beginning to end?  Yes.  Do I think everyone should watch it?  Yes.  Case closed.

Now, on to why the debate is pointless.  First of all, BSG the younger is not a recreation, reboot, or remake of the original.  Not in my eyes anyway.  It’s an homage to the classic show.  They didn’t mock it, or ignore its existance.  All of the touches that they took from the classic, the old vipers, the original model psylons, even the Galactica itself, all pay close respect to the original series.  Sure, Starbuck and Boomer were a girls, some psylons look like humans, and the end is different, but I think that’s a good thing.  The new show does a good job of paying respect to the old show, without trying to copy it.

Let’s be honest, both shows are good, for different reasons.  Comparing these two is completely pointless.  No sane individual is going to say that the classic show has better effects and sound than the new one, just like no one can fault the classic for its originality.  They both deal with a dark theme, but you have to admit that the new one did better delivering that sense of struggle and drama that would come with being the last remnants of humanity.  The classic series is fun, and campy, but rarely is it as blood-pumping exciting as the new one.  The new one is gritty, dark and intriguing, but not always a good fit for kids.  Face it, these are two shows that, despite sharing a name and a few key features, are completely different.  Comparing them is worse than comparing apples to oranges, it’s like comparing apples to apple pie.  Both good for different reasons, both different for good reason.