Monday, June 10, 2019

RiffTrax: Live – Star Raiders Review! Ronel Talks Music, Smallfoot and Wandering Earth Reviews, and Ninja News

RiffTrax: Live – Star Raiders!

June 6 was the latest RiffTrax: Live event, showcasing Star Raiders: The Adventures of Saber Raine, starring Caper Van Dien of Starship Troopers fame. (Which they also riffed a couple years ago – Casper doesn’t have a good track record with movies.)

The show started with an educational short about lying. Kids discussing lying with a teacher. Kids obsessing over a man laying cement. Kids throwing rocks and breaking a window. I’d be lying if any of it made sense, but the guys had fun with it.

Then came the feature film and the opening credits showed Casper scanning the horizon with binoculars, to which the guys said he was searching the cast for another name actor. (None were to be found.)

At another point, someone commented that the effects weren’t too bad for 1992 but he was corrected – the film came out eighteen months ago! That’s right – the craptastic film came out in 2017.

The acting was bad. The plot was thin and in most spots made no sense. The dialogue was beyond cheesy. And the special effects ranged from ‘okay’ to worse than an Asylum film.

This was inside Saber Raine’s ship. Yes, that is a submarine periscope in his spaceship!

One of the aliens didn’t speak English and the guys dubbed him Gary. “Gary, you are the voice of reason.”
Ironically, we watched Gary die four times in the film. I guess they missed that in editing.

However, it was a blast and very funny! Do not attempt to watch this film without RiffTrax. (DVD comes out later this year.)

Next up The Giant Spider Invasion on August 15!

Music and Dark Desires by Ronel

When Alex said that this post should focus on progressive rock/metal, at first I had no idea what that meant. And then I Googled it. Mm, yeah, I definitely listen to progressive rock!

For those who don’t know, progressive rock is a style of rock music popular especially in the 1970s and characterized by classical influences, the use of keyboard instruments, and lengthy compositions (according to the online dictionary).

I love using music to inspire me while I’m writing. During the planning phase of “Dark Desires”, I listened to a lot of Rush and a bit of Deep Purple (yeah, “Smoke On the Water” was on replay).

Linkin Park probably doesn’t fit in with the genre (though I think they might despite not being listed as such along with other favourite bands like Muse, Led Zeppelin and others in this post), but that is what I listened to while drafting the story. There’s just something about the music itself – forget the lyrics for a moment – that makes creativity flow.

Rush and Queen helped me to polish the story and get it ready for publication. In the TV series “Chuck”, Morimoto who created the arcade game “Missile Command” called Rush the music of the universe. I think he might be right. Chuck later figured out that there is a correlation between the music (specifically “Tom Sawyer”) and how to play the game, some mathematical pattern others couldn’t see. Maybe it’s the same with writing?

There are other great prog rock bands, of course, but these guys helped me with this specific story. (If you click on the links on each band, you’ll be led to a post on my blog about them.)

Find Dark Desires on all platforms: UBL

Award-winning author Ronel Janse van Vuuren mainly writes for teens and tweens, though she is known to write mythology-filled short stories for anthologies aimed at older readers. Her dark fantasy works, usually full of folklore, can be viewed on her website and on Goodreads.
Ronel can be found tweeting about writing and other things that interest her, arguing with her characters, researching folklore for her newest story or playing with her Rottweilers when she’s not actually writing.
Sign up to be notified of new releases, giveaways and pre-release specials – plus get a free eBook – when you join Ronel’s newsletter.
Connect with Author Ronel Janse van Vuuren: Website, Twitter, Pinterest, Goodreads, Instagram, and Amazon author page

Movie Reviews


A Yeti named Migo goes in search of the elusive smallfoot – humans.
It’s a simple message – people hurt by others, create rules and build walls to prevent it happening again. But walling ourselves off from others isn’t the answer. And we always need to seek the truth. (And in the deluge of media crap these days, that is so true!)
The animation is good. The scenery is very realistic while the characters are cartoony, which works.
It was mildly entertaining and better than I expected.
Recommended for a rainy day rental.

The Wandering Earth

The sun is dying and thrusters are built to move Earth to a new location.
This film made 800 million world-wide. I have no idea why…
It was ambitious to take on the book. Hopefully it’s not as bad as this film.
This film is just stupid and on so many levels. So many plot holes, inexplicable character actions, etc. There is no rhyme or reason why the two main characters leave the underground sanctuary. The mystery sister’s origins aren’t revealed until over halfway into the film. (Like the director forgot to explain it and stuck something in to cover his butt.) Actual science is out the window. (Move the Earth to another galaxy? Really?)
Plus there’s a HAL computer who wants to kill everyone.
And it’s good video game animation, but it’s not realistic and looks bad on the big screen.
This film makes Michael Bay movies look intelligent.
Not recommended!

Ninja News!

IWSG Anthology Contest

Don’t forget the Insecure Writer’s Support Group Annual Anthology Contest is open and taking submissions!
Genre is middle grade historical – adventure/ fantasy and the theme is voyagers.
See the site for full details.

New release!
Hoosier Dad by Elizabeth Seckman

Find it on all platforms HERE

Did you catch RiffTrax’s Star Raiders? You don’t want to miss the August show! Does music inspire your writing? Seen Smallfoot or The Wandering Earth? And are you entering the IWSG Anthology Contest?

I’m not posting next Monday but I will poke in and check on people during the week.


Elephant's Child said...

Congratulations to Ronel.

Heather R. Holden said...

The character died four times in that film? Hah, priceless! XD

And great guest post from Ronel! Music often inspires me when I work on my own projects, too. Dark Desires sounds so intriguing!

Mason Canyon said...

Congrats to Ronel and Elizabeth. Sounds like Star Raiders is one you definitely don't want to watch without RiffTrax.

Joanne said...

anytime you use the word "craptastic" it's a Rifftrax winner.
Funny. I do want to see Smallfoot. I thought the previews looked clever for a kiddie movie.
Have a good week!

Elizabeth Spann Craig said...

Somehow I didn't realize Rush was progressive rock (and I went to a concert with my husband, ha! He's a fan).

Nilanjana Bose said...

Craptastic is a brilliant word. Gary, even with his four deaths, doesn't stand a chance against a cat.

Smallfoot sounds fun, but only because I tend to enjoy kid films. And I don't think I've ever come across such a stern 'not recommended' in your reviews before!

Jemi Fraser said...

I haven't decided about the IWSG contest yet. We'll see how my idea develops :)
I never know which category music fits into, but I've always like Queen and Rush!

Natalie Aguirre said...

Congrats to Ronel and Elizabeth!

And I'll keep Small Foot in mind for a rainy day. It sounds sweet.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Heather, I couldn't believe they missed all those deaths.

Joanne, exactly!

Elizabeth, they are the founding fathers of prog rock.

Nila, every now and then I watch a film that is that bad. And in need of RiffTrax.

Jemi, hope you enter!

Patricia Stoltey said...

I've never found any kind of music helpful for writing. Instead, I enjoy relative silence (especially now that the young drummer from next door has grown up and left home). I use music for relaxation.

Computer Tutor said...

Good post by Ronel (as well as the rest of the info!). I would have been lost at 'progressive rock/metal'.

Andrew Leon said...

According to the-numbers, Wandering made just under $700m, BUT $0 in the US.
So that tells you something.

Birgit said...

I am glad to say I missed both films and Star Raiders reminded me of this British TV Show with the worst special effects I have ever seen but great writing. Gosh..I can't recall the name right now but it has a Computer/Robot that needs anti anxiety pills:) Serveron(??) was a wicked villain but you love her as she is wicked. Anyhoo, Music does inspire but I normally listen to classical. Did I tell you that, even though I can't stand Rush (sorry) because of the lead singer, the drummer(I think the drummer) was born in the city I live in!

The Angry Lurker said...

I like the honest Wandering Earth review, saves me a few hours!

L. Diane Wolfe said...

I love the band Muse.

I thought Smallfoot was cute.

Stacy McKitrick said...

If I'm struggling with a scene, I find listening to music while writing helps. And I'd probably listen more often, but I'm just too lazy to turn on the music! Haha!

I saw Casper Van Dien at Dragon Con with Nathan Fillion a couple of years ago. He was funny. Maybe he just hasn't been in the right movie yet.

Sherry Ellis said...

A submarine periscope in a spaceship? That's a good one!

The IWSG Anthology...the topic is exactly what I like to write, but time is an issue. We'll see.

Enjoy your week off!

J E Oneil said...

Too bad about The Wandering Earth. It's an interesting concept. Maybe someday someone will do a better take on it. That's the good thing about the constant reboots/remakes.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Andrew, yeah, that the Chinese government made its people go see it.

Birgit, what??? Say it's not so.

Stacy, he's had plenty of chances.

Sherry, hope you can!

JE, they can't make a worse film.

Liz A. said...

Did they make that movie just for a RiffTrax? Because, it doesn't sound good. And Wandering Earth needs a RiffTrax, stat.

I can't write to music. I can't think to music, actually. If someone has music playing in the background, and they want to have a conversation... It really throws me out of my head. I need silence to focus.

John Wiswell said...

I haven't even seen the movie and your account of the 1992 joke cracked me up!

Susan Kane said...

It just goes to show any casting director that strong jaws, pretty eyes, great hair cannot make up for being a rotten actor.

I predict he will be hitting the anaconda movies next.

Dang. It would have been a perfect movie to see, but wasn't in this area.

Truedessa said...

I still haven't experienced Rifftrax. As far as music goes, Rush works wonders to get the imagination flowing. I wish I could have seen them live, once. Their music is still played on the rock stations around here. I do enjoy a bit of wine with my music when writing.

Enjoy your week Alex!

Tonja Drecker said...

Congrats, Elizabeth! A guy dying 4 times in a movie is quite the thing.

Rhonda Albom said...

Too bad the Wandering Earth is so stupid, but how did possibly gross so much money. Thanks for your honesty. Glad you enjoyed RiffTrax, although it still confuses me.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Liz, you would think they did! And yes, I need to suggest Wandering Earth.

John, more laughs where that came from!

Susan, bummer!

Truedessa, you never know when they might do another show.

Rhonda, the Chinese government made everyone go see it.

Patricia JL said...

Music is the other way around for me. I hear a song that matches with a story or scene. It's not often I hear a song and it sparks a writing idea.

Botanist said...

It wasn't the submarine periscope that caught my attention, so much as the fold-up aluminum stepladder in front of him. Is that so short aliens can reach the periscope?

Arlee Bird said...

The Wandering Earth sounds absurd enough for me to want to see it. Not gonna go out of my way to do so and I'll likely forget about it later, but maybe I'll see it. Sometimes stupid is reassuring.

Arlee Bird
Tossing It Out

Fundy Blue said...

Hi, Alex! I am totally confused by RiffTrax. Do you go to a movie theater to see it? Is it online streaming? Maybe it's just that it's late and I'm flying tomorrow morning, but I couldn't figure it out by googling. I like progressive rock, and I like to listen to all kinds of music when I write. I guess I'll skip "Wandering Earth" since I can't even stay on top of the good movies. All the best to you!

Elizabeth Seckman said...

I've never watched RiffTrax. My loss, right?

Thanks for the shout out! Much appreciated. :)

Ronel Janse van Vuuren said...

Love how you brought it all together! Thanks for hosting me :-)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Patricia, a song once sparked an idea for me.

Ian - funny!

Fundy, the perform live in one theater (usually Nashville) and it is broadcast live through Fathom Events to theaters across the nation.

Elizabeth, you're welcome. And you have to see a RiffTrax at least once!

Ronel, you're welcome.

Cathrina Constantine said...

Congrats to Ronel and Elizabeth!!!

Have a great week, Alex.

Carrie-Anne said...

Sounds like the writers of Star Raiders took a hint from the playbook of soaps! A lot of the classic villains die multiple times and unfailingly come back.

Mary Kirkland said...

I haven't seen Smallfoot but I bet my grandson would like it.

Tyrean Martinson said...

The character died four times?! Whoa. That's a get-off-the-horse-twice moment nightmare. (I read a book out loud to my kids in which the character got off of his horse twice in two pages ... and then I read my own book out loud and found something similar - a character drew her sword twice in one action scene. Argh.) 4 deaths for one character is just terrible editing - I guess even the editors didn't want to watch the whole film.

Smallfoot sounds like fun!
Congrats to Ronel and Elizabeth!!!

Elizabeth Mueller said...

Better late than never! I apologize for not publishing my comments over for the IWSG posting. I'm there now!

I love Little Foot. The first time we watched it was at home and I fell in love with the upbeat plot and lively music! I knew I should've listened to my son when he wanted to see it in theatres!


Tara Tyler said...

So the movies left something to be desired... glad Spiderverse, How to Train your Dragon, and Captain Marvel came out on DVD!

Yay for Elizabeth =)

It felt nostalgic visiting you today... isn't it strange how few bloggers there are compared to just a few years ago?? or is it just me?

The Cynical Sailor said...

I don't generally like animation, but Smallfoot really looks fun. I love the idea of Bigfoot coming in search of those mythical Smeallfoot creatures.

Toi Thomas said...

Wow, Star Raiders sounds terrible, but ideal or a rift.
Small Foot seems kinda cute.
Music is essential to my writing process in so many ways.

Donna K. Weaver said...

Died FOUR times? Oops! Too funny!

SpacerGuy said...

I'm not sure what I doing with the IWSG contest. Its all money now with movies which explains reboots, remakes and sequels which is what folks want, I guess.

Magic Love Crow said...

Dies 4 times?????
Congrats to Ronel!
I want to see Small Foot!
Thanks for a great post Alex!

LynNerdKelley said...

Oh, wow, I guess I'm a progressive rock fan, too! I also love Queen. The movie was awesome!

Karen Jones Gowen said...

Where do you hear about all these films? Your review of the first one is probably more entertaining than the movie would be lol.

Sandra Cox said...

Ronel will be at my place tomorrow:) said...

Elizabeth keeps delivering! Proud of that gal.
Well, maybe I'll see Small Foot, if only because I have two of those.
Be well, Alex.

DMS said...

Smallfoot looks pretty cute from the cover. A good rainy day movie sounds good to me. :)

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Tyrean, glad you caught the sword thing.

Elizabeth, next time you have to go see the film on the big screen and not wait.

Tara, they come out of the woodwork on IWSG day...

Lynn, good for you!

Karen, thanks!

Rajlakshmi said...

Laughed so hard at your review of star raiders. Now I really want to see how bad it is. I finished reading Wandering Earth few weeks ago... But I would try to watch it, if it comes on netflix. It would be interesting to find out how they depict the whole moving the earth thing in the movie.

Anonymous said...

Congratulations Ronel!

I often wonder how movies like Star Raiders make it...even if it's straight to DVD. It boggles my mind. At least we have people like RiffTrax to make it entertaining.


Sandra Cox said...

Congrats to Elizabeth on her new release.
Have a great one, Alex.

Notes Along the Way with Mary Montague Sikes said...

Enjoy your week. Thanks for visiting my blog!

Pat Hatt said...

Rather sad that that was graphics for 2017 lol Small Foot wasn't bad, a bit of an eyeroll worthy ending as humans would still hunt them, but it's a kids movie so...

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Raj, I hope you watch it so you can tell me where the movie went horribly wrong.

Elsie, and why the producers don't fund some of our books instead!

Ella said...

Wow, Ronel, I love all the music you selected and now must listen to all of it~lol Congrats!!

Wow, Captain-sad, about Casper!

Music inspires everything...

Happy weekend to you Captain AC!

Shah Wharton said...

Muse - gosh, that takes me back to a muddy field, head fuzzy with beer, heart full of song. :) Good band.

Enjoy your break!

Shah X

Susan Flett Swiderski said...

Um, maybe Star Raiders is SUPPOSED to be bad... for comedic effect? Let's hope so. We went to the movies yesterday and saw the new Men in Black movie. It was okay, I guess. Not nearly as entertaining as the ones with Will Smith and Tommy Lee Jones.

mshatch said...

Small foot looks like something that would be fun to watch with my niece. And I like the message. Walls are not the answer, Open arms and understanding are. As the dalai lama says, there is no other.

As for the wandering earth, well, I just can't imagine moving the earth. What about gravity? Earth's rotation? Sounds like someone did absolutely no research. I think I'll skip it, lol

Michael Offutt, Phantom Reader said...

I too watched "The Wandering Earth" and wondered what all the hype was about. It was a weird thing sing rocket engines strapped to Earth so that it could cruise to another solar system. However, as ridiculous as that looked, it did give me an idea of how the Death Star might have looked had we been allowed to see its many engines. A lot of people don't realize that it could move under its own power, as you only saw it from one angle (the death star super laser dish).

Chrys Fey said...

I watched Smallfoot on HBO a little while ago and I also thought it was pretty entertaining and clever.

Alex J. Cavanaugh said...

Ella, happy weekend to you as well!

Susan, I heard it was just average.

Marcy, exactly! No scientific backing to the theory at all.

Michael, true, it did move on its own.

Jennifer Lane said...

Thanks for the education on progressive rock and congratulations to Elizabeth. Good luck to the entrants of the anthology contest!

Beverly Stowe McClure said...

Ha, ha. Love your post. That guy just wouldn't stay dead. Have a great weekend.

mail4rosey said...

I'm not a writer, but music inspires my cleaning. I get tons more done, and far more enthusiastically if music is going. Rush is definitely on my iPod.

Christine Rains said...

I'd been considering watching the Wandering Earth. Now I think I'll pass. Too many other better shows to watch. Like Good Omens! That was all sorts of awesomeness. Have a lovely week!

Lynda Dietz said...

The Riff Trax sounds like it was great! I'm laughing at the guy who wouldn't stay dead. I edited a series of books like that once, where a character kept appearing, and I'd tell the author "so and so is back from the dead again," and he'd laugh and change the name. Again. The two of us could never figure out why he kept forgetting that particular name had been used and done with, over and over.

Julie Flanders said...

Gary dying four times in that film and also someone thinking the film was okay for 1992 when it actually came out in 2017 cracked me up. What a perfect movie to make fun of. :D
Congrats to Elizabeth and Ronel! I love the idea of the pattern to the music/game possibly also relating to writing.
Good to see you, Alex!

Loni Townsend said...

Sounds like Ronel and I have similar music tastes!

You know, I'm not sure if my kids have seen Small Foot or not.

LD Masterson said...

Okay, I'm feeling very old. I can't leave a comment until I Google what you were talking about because most of this post was written in a foriegn language. I know Queen...does that count?

Al Penwasser said...

Off topic, but....
Finally saw "Endgame" last week. I liked it, but my biggest pet peeve is "Professor Hulk." Not a fan. I much prefer "Hulk Smash."
And Marissa Tomei as sexy Aunt May. Oh, the horror!

Erika Beebe said...

Congratulations to all the authors! Music definitely inspires me. I pick songs for certain scenes and listen to them over and over as I am writing a scene or chapter.

Raimey Gallant said...

Note to self: Do not watch The Wandering Earth, lol.

Anonymous said...

RiffTrax sounds very much like MST3K? Which I miss. Used to be on one of my local channel and then it vanished, sadly. I love a good BAD movie.

Raimey Gallant said...

Murders on Boats caught my eye, and I now want to see all of those films, perhaps with the exception of the Adam Sandler one. I started watching it, and I wasn't super keen on it.

J.H. Moncrieff said...

I've missed those films--been buried in work--but Smallfoot sounds cute.

Sadly, I need silence while I'm writing, but I've always admired those who can listen to music while they write. Sometimes songs will pop into my head while I'm writing. The most recent was "The Things I Do for Money" by the Northern Pikes.