Mr. Bean Movie

Getting to the Theatre

I managed to get to the Westgate theatre on Wednesday in time for the Mr. Bean matinée (teacher's strike still on). The delay was due to an extended meeting at work and then a slow lunch at Lone Star (because we were half an hour late), and then a bit more to scarf down a second free desert (because of the delays) at Lone Star.


Even though there are many other film reviews, here is mine. The first half of this movie was painfully funny, the second half was funny (guess I got used to it). It centers around inept museum guard Mr. Bean being sent to the USA as the representative of a British art gallery, to handle the showing of Arrangement in Grey and Black No. 1 (Whistler's Mother) (See James McNeill Whistler biography) (the board was trying to fire Bean but the chairman foiled them so they got revenge).

Naturally, everything he touches gets destroyed or warped. The police take him in a couple of times (once for pretending to have a gun in a vest pocket, once for reprogramming a virtual ride to be faster) but his genius reputation gets him out. There are some awkward moments in the men's room and board room when he's trying to dry off his pants after splashing water on them in a conspicuous spot (he, umm, dances in front of the hot air blower and an oscillating fan). The curator at the US gallery that bought the painting has his wife and children leave (they can see how horrible Bean is, unlike the currator who interprets his grunts and stupid remarks as genius, and doesn't clue in even in the exploding turkey scene).

The climax is when Whistler's Mother gets destroyed, and the surprising ending where Mr. Bean successfully makes a forgery of the real painting. Well, that's not really the ending, there is an add-on at the end where he picks up a doctor's dropped stethoscope while waiting in the hospital, the rest of the script is predictable based on what you know about the forgery.

RuneQuest Adventures

Previous History: Troll Food

The RuneQuest rôle playing game resumed on Friday night, after a long summer absence due to Monopoly Star Wars. While I was gone, aftershocks from the hibernating troll fiasco resulted in Puck's permanently maimed leg (he had charged into the cave while my less brave character was running up a tree). No, he didn't get injured in the cave, he wounded the troll and got away. But later, the troll died from the wound and its children came and wanted revenge. After a bit of fighting, the affair was settled when the party agreed to do the troll funeral ceremony for the deceased. This involved eating the dead troll, raw. Fortunately it was winter so it hadn't gotten too gamey. Still, it took a week, a long boring week from what I hear. I also hear that I got the story wrong, but I'm writing this so, unless someone gives me some corrected text (hint hint), this is the story.

Economics: Lumber Trade and Ship Salvage

Anyway, the party succeeded in its spring time lumber run down the river, and sold the Giant Boot Wood trees to a shipbuilder down in Corflu for a good sum (paid in pearls). They also raised the previously sunk Esrolian cargo ship (they had stolen it from the Lunar military dock at Corflu a season earlier in a stealthy night raid) and claimed it as salvage. After some legal wrangling, the Lunars agreed to let us have it (the govenor had a policy of friendly occupation). So, now the party has a sea going boat. Next, we needed to learn a bit about going to sea.

The Search Mission and Sea Training

The ship builder's client, someone called Barran the Monster Slayer, was looking for a group of non-Dormal cultists to do a bit of searching for him. We agreed to help, in exchange for some training in running a sea going ship. Apparently there is a group of islands and nearby waters that is off limits to his cult due to a previous agreement with a sea monster. He wants us to go there and look for the princess of the sea, someone with white skin and green hair.

The Hunt and the Hunted

We went. After paddling around, looking on assorted tropical islands, fending off giant turtles and water dinosaurs with lots of teeth, we found a lady with green skin and black hair. Close enough. We invited her to go with us to the ship, and she agreed, after hearing the captain's name. On the way back to the ship, a giant white shark with black spots was spotted, chasing us. We activated the emergency undine and surfed down it to the ship. The lady also helped, by jumping into the water and enlarging the wave. Some mobility spells helped even more. Still, it was close. We got to the ship, where they were waiting for the shark, with harpoon ready. The undine deserted us to help push the ship towards the shark, and we got to watch a great sea battle. The captain won after several hours of bloody fishing. Later, after getting cleaned up, he met the lady and chatted with her. A bit later, we found out that she was the wrong one, but the captain didn't mind, and headed back to Corflu without any furthur searching. Hmmm, were we used as bait? Oh well, at least we didn't die and we did get paid.

Starship Troopers

On Saturday night I went with some of the Dad Fultz gang to see Starship Troopers. This is a gory action film based on Robert A. Heinlein's book.

The Story

The too perfect high school kids (how many hours did they spend in the make-up department?) start out in civics class, where the battle scarred teacher explains that citizens have to be willing to sacrifice their lives for the greater good, while civilians don't and don't vote either. A bit of emotional pull makes the poor student want to join the Federation forces to follow the girl he loves, who is going into the space force. His parents object, but he goes anyways. A couple of other satellite lovers also follow the main pair.

Boot Camp

Next, you get the usual boot camp scenes. Well, there is also a shower scene in addition to the usual brutality and sad mail delivery. Brutal is a good description, the drill instructor knifes one of the recruits in the hand when he asks why they are bothering with knife instruction when a push of a button will do it. There are several more such incidents. The hero makes it to squad leader, and then makes a mistake in a live fire exercise that results in the death of one of the recruits. He gets 10 lashes in public. He decides to leave the military, to give up a chance at citizenship, after his girlfriend stays she really likes the space force and wants to make it a career. However, an asteroid sent by "The Bugs" impacts on his parents' home and kills them, so he says on.

First Disaster

Their first mission is reminiscent of World War I: bad intelligence and planing lead to a slaughter. We get to see the great computer graphics used for the bug infantry units. They have nice long pointed stabbing legs/claws and are quite agile. They also have missile launchers - giant bugs with impossible mechanics (but the missiles do leave behind a nice debris trail of pebbles - perhaps that is what they use for reaction mass).

They Fight Back

They come back and a new force commander takes over. This time they go in more slowly and are more successful. Soon, the hero gets transfered to a unit led by a tough marine. Lots of death and desparate odds and heroic actions follow (like jumping onto the back of a giant flame throwing tank-like bug, shooting a hole into its carapace, and burying a hand grenade in it). Lots of the good guys get killed in quite gory ways, there are many impales, and sometimes the bugs toss around their prey when they have the time. There's lots of blood and bug goo splattering around. Both of the sub-lovers die. Space ships get blown up and collide, quite realistically for a change (I like the way the life boat crashes into debris on the way out of the battle zone, but I don't like the way it bounces off the ground without crumpling).


Anyway, after a lot of close calls and desparite situations, the troops manage to capture a brain bug and change the course of the battle. Presumably it ends happily after that.


So, lots of action, lots of gore (maybe realistic too, I haven't seen enough to know), some romance and sex, not much technology (space ships but only two weapons - bullet spewing guns and tactical nukes, and not much in-between). There is also a fascist undertone - might makes right - to the whole thing (Heinlein's political system). There are even some Nazi fashion references in the phychic officers dressed in great coats and dark shirts with long neckties.


On the plus side, it was fun (if you don't mind gore). The computer graphics used for the bugs were simply amazing. Quite believable. Also, they had lots and lots of bugs, whole herds of them swarming down on the beleaguered troops, which really added to the battle tension. It reminds me a lot of my favorite 3DO game, Space Hulk. The space ship battles (well, more like destruction by incoming missiles than a two sided battle) were good too, with quite nice explosions and destruction (you can see the decks and watch it break apart, though I think there was too much fire in the decks open to space). Oh, I also liked their web page news idea (click here for more...) which was funny for a few of the topics.


On the minus side it's science had a few holes (why not use a virus or nuclear bombs to destroy the planet rather than sending in the infantry to do it hand-to-claw) in the story. Why were their space ships placed so close together that when doing troop drops they keep on crashing into each other? There was also that Heinleinian political spin on it.

Overall, I'd be happy to see it again.

- Alex

Copyright © 1997 by Alexander G. M. Smith.