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My 2 Cents on I Worship His Shadow
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Bilbo67
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 Posted: Tue Oct 31st, 2006 06:17 am

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***My thanks to Angel for first pitching the idea of this thread to me.  For those who don't know, I was a member of the original scifi.com Lexx bboard, where I staked my claim writing episode reviews.  At the time the show was being rerun in the wee hours, and I wrote these as a means of keeping awake while I waited for the show to start.  While they were initially little more than responses to unfamiliar eps (despite having already seen much of season 3 and most of season 4, I was still quite the newbie), they eventually became something of a tradition. 

In this thread, I will attempt over time to repost all of my old reviews (all of season 1, most of season 2 [excluding Luvliner, Nook, and the Net, which SciFi never aired], and all of season3.  I did a few at the tail end of season 4, but they mostly consisted of one and two paragraph responses amidst a torrent of unfounded speculation), in order of episodes aired.  They remain unaltered, except for the stuff I've altered (primarily my piss-poor spelling).  Anyhoo, enough of this high and mighty horseshit...let's get on with it***

 
My 2 Cents on Episode 1.1: I Worship His Shadow
(5/12/03)
 

First and foremost, before hitting the review, I've a message for the one who made it all possible: DGREQUEEN, YOU ROCK! (For those who don't know, I missed this ep two weeks ago, and Dgre was cool enough to mail me a copy). FROM THIS DAY FORTH, YOU WILL OCCUPY A PERMANENT SPOT IN THE UPPER ESCHELON OF MY LIST OF PEOPLE WHO KICK ASS. THAT BEING SAID, TO PARAPHRASE THODIN (roughly three seconds before keeling over), TODAY, I BILBO DO HEREBY SERVE NOTICE: BADMOUTH DGRE, AND YOU WILL ANSWER TO ME! Now, on to the review...

You know, I've seen roughly 95% of the entire Lexx series, having only missed out on two season 2 eps, and 2 season 4 eps, so I think I have a pretty good idea of what the best episodes are. That said, IWHS is AMAZING. Everything I've heard about it is apparently true, because it blew me away, and considering the fact that I've seen just about everything that comes afterwards, that's saying something. I'd have to say that IWHS is now number 3 on my all time list, behind only The Game and Brigadoom.

Strange as it may seem, IWHS did not feel like an episode of Lexx. That's not to say that it felt like any conventional sci-fi show I've seen before, but it was something else entirely. Of course, there is a perfectly logical explanation for this, as the Beans (who had yet to earn that moniker when this movie was first broadcast) had absolutely no idea where their characters would eventually end up. I like this myself, as it's interesting to see what they were like from the get go, and it almost makes me wish I could erase my memory and watch the series in order (though to be perfectly honest, I don't know if IWHS would have appealed to me were it not for my previous knowledge of Lexx).

I don't know about you, but the defining moment of this first film, IMO, is the opening dogfight. The intensity on Kai's face is absolutely visceral, and the shots of the Foreshadow blowing the hell out of Brunnis 2 are amazing, especially considering that they are almost 7 years old. Did anyone else catch Kai's reaction when his planet was finished off? This marvelous little piece of nonverbal acting carries with it more raw emotion than words ever could, and shows the depths of Mike McManus' talent. I found myself rooting for the half dozen little stingers, despite knowing full well how it was going to end.

Kai's execution is just as powerful, inasmuch as it is done in a peaceful, almost reverent manner. His Shadow’s presence verges on calming, his soothing, hypnotic voice the antithesis of the unbridled evil which possesses him. Kai is clearly in shock, as he doesn't even seem to notice when the knife punctures his heart. I think this is for the best, as excessive blood/violence would have ruined the mood for this scene (besides, there's plenty of that to come later). BTW, am I the only one who saw a child's face in the memory "stream" that HDS absorbed as Kai was dying?

Powerful as Kai's story may be, I'm a Stan fan through and through, and was anxious to see the Stunner's first appearance. All I've got to say is that from this day forth, I will no longer bitch about the tiny accommodations my school provides for me (okay, that is a blatant lie, but it's hard to think up a good analogy late at night). The slightly modified broom closet in which he lives is anything but inviting. Sure it offers privacy, but I looked around, and I didn't see a single window. Let's face it folks, nobody wants to know what they really smell like. The only question that remains is, since Stan and his emasculated security guard brethren live in what essentially amounts to big stacks of coffins with slightly more head room and one really shitty TV channel, where are the bathrooms, and how many people have to share them?

It was interesting, as a long time Lexxian, to be able to see what day-to-day life on the Cluster was like. In past readings I’ve seen it described using words like "Orwellian," but after seeing the movie, that phrase hardly scratches the surface. This is a society which Orwell could nary have fathomed, and the only way I can sum it up without getting very long winded is to say that it is a living nightmare. Were I watching this with no prior knowledge of things to come, I would definitely want to know just how evil and depraved the Dark Zone is, seeing as the Cluster is supposed to be a shining beacon of light.

Thodin is cool. That point has already been stressed to death. His wardrobe raises some unsettling questions, but I'll cover that a little later. What made an immediate, lasting impression on me, were his prison accommodations. The precautions taken, as well as the badass shots of his eyes through the slit in his modified pet porter, help to emphasize that he is a dangerous man.

Before I go on, I think I should mention something that irked me. We all know why Zev was sentenced to become a love slave. However, never once during this broadcast was anything mentioned about her failing to perform her wifely duties, or being jilted at the alter by her snot-nosed fiancé. Methinks I detect the always erratic presence of Sci-Fi's editors. Can anyone back me up on this, as I'm sure there is something they cut out.

One aspect that separates IWHS from the rest of the Lexx canon is the violence. Granted there is death in damn near every episode of the show (in fact, Brigadoom may be the only ep where no one is killed), but this level of gore is certainly never revisited. I have friends who were utterly revolted by the final scene in Hannibal, which leads me to believe that they would puke up pure, concentrated bile if they were to watch this. I lost count of how many human brains were shown (all of which looked pretty realistic), and the execution scene is particularly disturbing. In what looks, to my best reckoning, like an amusement park ride devised by Trent Reznor and constructed by Rob Zombie, a cheapskate pie maker is utterly eviscerated. BTW, this scene brings up two questions. First of all, could the editors at Sci-Fi be any more hypocritical? They leave in long, uncut shots of some of the most graphic violence I've ever seen; yet they hit the panic button over something so small as Xev wearing naught but yellow goo. I guess that goes to prove the old axiom: “You'll never see a breast on American TV unless it has a bullet in it.” Second of all, did anyone else notice that this piece of human sausage was a “level 2” pie maker? What the hell does that mean? And for that matter, what is a level 1 pie maker? Am I to assume that back on his home planet he and his bosses had a conversation that went something like: “You're good kid...damn good...but you just aren't ready for ‘the show.’”

Lex Gigeroff, who I believe portrayed the future HDS host, looked positively wicked. Kind of like a pissed off, drugged out, roid raging version of Mantrid in human form, and the cadre of markings/tattoos/scars that adorn his forehead make me wonder just how far Mike Tyson intends to go when he claims that his ridiculous looking face tattoo is only 25% complete. In yet another link in the Lexx chain of causation, we learn that if the clerics had just taken the extra five seconds to zap the host again, HDS wouldn't have screwed up later on (though I'm sure the prophecy would have been played out in some way).

Poor Stan. The guy just can't win. The captain of the prison ship should set off bells for any of us who have ever had to deal with annoying customers (don't get me started...I was a telemarketer). I imagine Stan would have been disciplined no matter what he had done...it's a catch 22 right up there with Prince's “kill her if she doesn't strangle you” ultimatum. BTW, is it just me, or did it seem odd to see a whole bunch of people dressed just like Stan?

It goes without saying that Thodin is the ultimate boy scout (no, that is not a gay joke directed at his wardrobe, but if you wish to take it that way, then be my guest). The guy is prepared for every possible contingency, which is why he spends the majority of the trial looking bored. Now, Thodin's Ostral-B pirate/belly dancer outfit doesn't seem to have any pockets, so how does he sneak along his little James Bondian trinkets? By shoving them into every natural orifice on his body, of course! After witnessing the bug bomb, and the glass eye/cloaking device, I know I wasn't the only one who was wondering where he chose to stash his emergency sidearm. Speaking of the bug bomb, I got a kick out of the stop motion techniques used to bring it to life. Personally, it looked to me like Thodin should have run a field test or two before taking that thing into action, but then again, this is a universe in which the most feared man in the empire wears a fluorescent skirt and hangs around with a group of young men who look like refugees from Liberace’s basement, so interjecting logic into the situation just doesn't cut it here.

I got a special kick out of watching a swarm of cluster lizards devour that pack of do-gooders. When I was in high school, I took a few AP classes which were chock full of national merit scholars who thought they were all high and mighty. Basically they snubbed me because I was a jock, and refused to laugh at any of my glib witticisms and dick jokes (the final straw...I can't mesh with people who don't laugh at my jokes). So believe you me, I fantasized about such a fate befalling them on many an occasion, which is why viewing this scene makes it seem as though the Beans can read my mind. (***DISCLAIMER: If any of my fellow board members were national merit scholars, I harbor no ill will toward you...unless you were in that class with me, in which case, I invite you to get bent***).

Considering how big a role she eventually plays, Zev is barely featured in the first 2/3 of this film. Her lusticon transformation is pretty cut and dry, but I'm wondering just how that thing caused her clothes to shrink. Am I to assume that being zapped by a lusticon is akin to being washed in hot water?

Speaking of which, I know the great Zev/Xev debate will rage until the end of time, so I thought I'd weigh in on the subject. Like many, I think Zev is better looking (that's not to say Xenia is unattractive, but you know what I mean), but ultimately, when it comes to character work, Xev is better. Maybe it's just me, but I never thought Eva's English was as good as Xenia's. While this is hardly Eva's fault, it gives Xenia the upper hand, as she is able to project a wider range of emotions, and make it look more natural. That's my take on the matter. Obviously it will be debated until long after I am gone. Until the situation is ultimately resolved via a Zev vs. Xev Miller Lite style catfight, it will be up to us to jump to our own conclusions.

Eyeball, kidney, testicle. While I think it's a good thing that Stan didn't give in and submit these three organs (a one eyed Stan wouldn't have been quite as sympathetic), I think a one-testicled Stan would have provided the Beans with a bountiful cornucopia of jokes. Ah, the road not taken.

My God this review is taking forever.

If you knew you were doomed, as was the case with the Major, and had the living embodiment of evil telling you to shoot yourself in the head, wouldn't you have to take a shot at him? Granted, she would have been dusted off anyways, but anyone who's ever been fired knows that you've got to stick it to your boss on the way out. Zinging a few energy waves his way would have been akin to stealing a box of paper clips on the way out.

Well, after wasting even more time freeing Giggerotta (who apparently incorporates the old Native American practice of not letting any part of the buffalo go to waste into her own cannibalistic lifestyle), Thodin is reunited with his crew, who look as though they got lost en route to auditioning for Queer as Folk: The Musical. After taking advantage of some really stupid guards, it's off to the special projects unit (even now I get a chuckle out of Brian Downey's distinctly Canadian pronunciation of pro-ject).

I know that later on, Stan will admit that he didn't even know who Zev was when he attempted to turn her over to the guards, but let's be honest guys...who in their right mind would want to part with a woman like that? Thankfully, Zev pulls them out of the fire with her Axl Rose-esque cluster lizard singing voice.

And now the moment we've all been waiting for. HDS decides to piss into the wind and defy the prophecy by defrosting Kai and saying “Sick 'em boy.” Once again, the entire chain of causation would have been nullified had he just used another assassin...but that would have robbed us of a wealth of “dead do not” jokes and one way, semi-necrophilial sexual frustration...so it's all for the better.

Watching Kai quickly dispatch one of Thodin's helper monkeys (Simpsons reference) shows just what a no nonsense approach he took to his old job. However, why did he wait after that? Why not just dispatch them all right there. I realize the obvious answer is that tried and true adage “Bilbo you dolt, then there would have been no story,” but I prefer to think of it as Kai being cautious. He's not the best in the business for nothing after all.

Thodin passes the key to his lackey. This has been at the center of a number of debates about just how that damn thing is passed on. I've always subscribed to the theory that in addition to sex/death, it can simply be passed willingly. That seems to make the most sense, and is also a lot less disgusting than the alternative...is it possible that right there on that ledge, Thodin reached the pinnacle of sexual ecstasy just by looking his comrade in the eyes and touching hands with him...I shudder to think.

Thodin actually put up a hell of a fight, proving that it's not impossible for a well-trained human to disable an assassin. However, he really dropped the ball. After hacking various pieces of Kai's anatomy off, I'd have kicked them off the ledge so he couldn't put himself back together. I'd have also...oh, I don't know...MOVED AROUND! Being invisible means nothing if you stand in the same damn place, as Thodin quickly found out.

In watching these old eps, it's amazing to see just how radically different the interior of the Lexx used to look. I especially like the long shots of the bridge, which show just how high up it is, and how damn big our favorite phallic shaped planet crushing insect really is.

Once again, Kai's procrastination gets the better of him. He wastes no time in dispatching Giggy, but then he decides to have a little fireside chat with Zev and Stan. Granted, had he killed them then there would be no show, but still, seeing as he is essentially the terminator, he is a tad indecisive.

I must say I love the way in which they handled Kai's memory jog. His discourse with the Divine Shadow who killed him has a sort of unfinished business feeling to it, and suggests that perhaps Kai really does have some humanity left in him.

Well, we now know where Kai gets his procrastination from. HDS, who could have killed Zev and Stan just by looking at them, decides that they need to hear him talk first. Definitely a no-no when running an evil empire.

Clearly, HDS has covered his ass in some way. Those energy bursts seem to be legitimately hurting Kai, so much so that he couldn't even get a shot off without help. I guess we should file that one under the “hard to destroy but not indestructible” category. The shadow essence that encircled Kai's body seemed to be causing him great pain. This makes perfect sense to me. After all, if HDS didn't have some way to harm the main protagonist, then he wouldn’t pose much of a threat (except for the whole, “let's kill everyone in the league of 20,000 planets so that I can be the divine ruler of nothing”). Finally, even though the essence was gone, I would have gone ahead and dusted off the rest of the brains. The only good that I can find in the characters staying their hand is the fact that destroying them would have robbed us of the immortal Ballad of Stanley Tweedle.

BTW, I have to wonder what was done with His Divine Carcass. Dead or not, I wouldn't want to be traveling around with any part of His Shadow. In order to keep from giving myself an analysis-induced migraine, I'll just say that the Lexx absorbed it.

I mentioned before that this film doesn't really feel like an episode of Lexx. Well, by the time it is over, it's business as usual. Kai hops in the freezer, Zev stares longingly at the dead man, and Stan tells the big bug to find them a new home. Oh, and of course, 790 throws in a few humorous diatribes ("I'm a robot who wants to live in your underwear"...you'll never hear that one from Data).

All in all, IWHS kicks ass. The special effects are a little rough (some obvious use of models and matte paintings), the characters aren't quite as fleshed out (McManus hasn't quite nailed down how he wants to portray Kai, Zev's disgust of Stan is nowhere to be seen, and Stan, who is the most fleshed out at this point, is incredibly pale and looks a little bit like Steve Buschemi), and there's not quite as much quirky humor...but that is in no way a bad thing. This is an amazingly dark, twisted, intriguing story, which I plan to re-watch just for the hell of it. From the high-octane opening to the open-ended conclusion, this is among the best offerings in the entire Lexx series, even if it doesn't feel like Lexx.

Well, I could write plenty more about this, but I'm tired of writing, and by this point, if you've managed to make it this far, you're probably tired of reading. I can now say I've seen where it all began. Who knew, back in 1997, that a poorly hyped, obscure miniseries on a network best known for post-2 in the morning programming could have garnered such a cult following.

Well, I'm outta here for now. If I left anything out (as I'm sure I did), chock it up to lack of sleep.

Cheery bye.

Last edited on Tue Oct 31st, 2006 11:44 pm by Bilbo67



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 Posted: Tue Oct 31st, 2006 01:53 pm

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I ADORE YOU! ALWAYS HAVE ALWAYS WILL..marry me..if not at least let me be your love slave for life!

I worship his Bilbo's feet! or is that I worship at his feet? *gads but ya feet stink!*



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 Posted: Tue Oct 31st, 2006 09:13 pm

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I fall to my knees in reverence to your unequivocal powers of observation, I hope to see many more of these to come. Your reviews are the stuff of legend. *drools*

:re_04::kai-red::stan-h::zev::790::eek::re_21:

 



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Bilbo67
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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2006 04:23 am

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Ketana wrote: at least let me be your love slave for life!

Careful they don't tag you with one of those pesky seven day expiration dates.

Last edited on Wed Nov 1st, 2006 04:24 am by Bilbo67



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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2006 11:19 am

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Hehehe, I love how you interject humor and how it really was into your reviews.  There were alot of inconsistencies in the Lexx series, so it's not surprising to find them in the movies too, I LMAO about how did Zev's dress shrink.



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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2006 12:00 pm

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I really enjoyed reading your review! Although my favorite seasons are 3 and 4, I had lots of fun reading this...

Bilbo67
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 Posted: Wed Nov 1st, 2006 05:55 pm

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Season 3 is my favorite by far (although my favorite episode--The Game--is from the much-debated/oft-maligned season 4).  Everything about it; from the storyline to the characters to the philosophical under/over-tones to the special effects...just brilliant.  In time I will eventually have reviews posted for all 13 season 3 episodes.



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If you're normal, the crowd will accept you. But if you're deranged, the crowd will make you their leader.
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 Posted: Fri Nov 3rd, 2006 08:54 pm

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Bilbo67 wrote:
Season 3 is my favorite by far (although my favorite episode--The Game--is from the much-debated/oft-maligned season 4).  Everything about it; from the storyline to the characters to the philosophical under/over-tones to the special effects...just brilliant.  In time I will eventually have reviews posted for all 13 season 3 episodes.

I love "The Game". And although many fans don't like season 4 much, I love watching every scene that has President Priest and First Lady Bunny in it...and, of course, Prince.

I'm looking forward to reading more of your reviews...


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