Saturday, May 29, 2021

Thundarr the Barbarian in "Den of the Sleeping Demon"


In “Den of the Sleeping Dragon,” Thundarr, Ookla, and Ariel travel to a stretch of land that looks like the Grand Canyon, and find humans -- “The Glider People” -- imperiled by cat-people and other mutants.

Worse, a dark wizard called Ju-Dang plots to awaken a slumbering demon from his 2,000 year slumber, and gain from that demon the secret of ultimate power.

With the help of two youngsters, Shara and Merlin, Thundarr and his friends attempt to find the sleeping demon first.  

They finally find it in an ancient hospital laboratory, and realize that the demon is actually a genetic experiment gone horribly wrong…



“Den of the Sleeping Demon” explains perfectly the magic of Thundarr the Barbarian, in my opinion. The stories are no great shakes, and the characters have no depth.

But the imagery and backgrounds are startling, and often quite beautiful.  

In many cases, the action is set against the ruins of our world, whether in New York, Washington D.C. or Chinatown.  

But here, we see something else, and it’s a perfect example of Thundarr the Barbarian’s visual aplomb.  

Specifically, there is a pitched battle between Thundarr’s forces and the army of mutants and cat people.  

A typical cartoon of this vintage might have had them battling it out on a wide-open plain, or in a jungle, or even, perhaps, underwater.

But “Den of the Sleeping Demon” sets the action…in a 2,000 year old playground…the playground of death!  

In one shot after the other during the fight montage, we witness Thundarr and Ookla fighting…on “play” equipment that they could reasonably have no knowledge about.  

Thundarr battles an enemy on a slide, and near a swing set.  Ookla tosses a bad guy onto a see-saw, and rips a rotating or spinning platform out of the ground. Thundarr leaps off a jungle-jim, etc.

It’s all kind of funny, but inventive as hell.





The best thing is that the episode offers no commentary on the fight’s setting.  The playground location is just a little -- but important – detail that excavates some aspect of this barbaric world.  The background of Thundarr’s life is, literally, a destroyed culture….ruins of inexplicable and bizarre nature.  He takes the oddities of this long-gone culture for granted when he must, and just gets down to business.

But it is really imaginative to have a Saturday morning series stage a pitched battle on the ruins of a playground. I can imagine that if I had seen this episode as a kid, I would have been aping Thundarr on the playground at school come Monday morning.

The rest of “Den of the Sleeping Demon” is not nearly so much fun as the audacious playground fight.

Instead, it’s the same story we’ve seen again and again. There’s another imperiled human village.  There’s another evil wizard on a quest to recover some object, person or device that can give him power.  

And finally, there’s Thundarr’s heroic intervention.

This episode also has one other interesting factor beside the playground, however: Merlin’s malapropisms.  

The character just can’t seem to get pre-holocaust speech right, as we see.   He exclaims “Far in!” instead of “Far Out!” and so forth.  

This is a little goofy, but at least it’s another point of differentiation in the formula...

Thursday, May 27, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #24


In this installment of the first season of Star Blazers (1979), the Argo escapes from a trap in Gamilon’s “sulfuric acid” ocean, as Desslok activates the Sulfuric Acid Storm Machine in an effort to melt the ship.

Facing missiles, acid, and other hazards, Deputy Captain Derek Wildstar takes Nova’s advice and seeks guidance from the bed-confined Captain Avatar. 

The good captain recommends total submersion of the Argo in the acid sea for ten minutes, so the ship can get a good shot (with the wave-motion gun) at the unstable volcanoes devastating Gamilon.  This could be the advantage the Star Force so desperately desires...




Wildstar accepts this risky recommendation, and even as Desslok orders the Argo “erased from the skies forever,” the great ship survives the final battle and devastates the planet Gamilon.  

One of Desslok’s panicked underlings notes that they “have been fighting a force” they “don’t understand" since the day the Argo left Earth.

After the fierce battle, Nova and Wildstar share a quiet moment atop the hull of the Argo, now twisted and nearly melted by the Gamilon oceans.  Nova expresses her fatigue with constant war and strife, and Derek assures her: "I think this was the last battle..."


Whether that observation is true or not remains to be seen, as two episodes of Star Blazers remain.  

Still, this episode makes a satisfying conclusion to the long-standing chess game between the Gamilons and the humans from Earth. For episode after episode, we've witnessed the Star Force defeating the plans of Gamilon underlings such as Lysis and Volgar.  

Here, Desslok himself is in charge, and there's no one else to blame for his failure.  During some moments of this episode, he seems to go mad at the prospect of defeat.  Oddly, there is not as much joy in seeing Desslok's defeat as one might expect.  We know now that Desslok is trying to save his own planet.  That knowledge adds a melancholy feeling to the episode.  Earth and its people may be saved, but Gamilon still, will die. 


Once Desslok and Gamilon are firmly in the rear-view mirror, Star Blazers features a great visual composition. Near the end of the episode, we witness the Argo rising triumphantly over the planetary curve of Gamilon.   Then, the planet recedes out of view as another planet appears directly ahead: Iscandar.  

The danger is passed, and the destination is in sight!

Only 161 days left!

Wednesday, May 26, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode # 23


This week on Star Blazers (1979), the Argo nears its destination -- the distant planet Iscandar of the Magellanic Cloud -- but soon finds itself mired in a metallic cloud that causes navigational instruments to go haywire.  

While Captain Avatar is confined to bed for his worsening illness, Derek Wildstar faces his first test of command: Should he trust Starsha, Queen of Iscandar, or worry that she is somehow allied with the Gamilons? 

What’s the right course of action?


Surprises and reversals come at the viewer `fast and furious in this Star Blazers installment, one of the very 
best episodes of the series thus far.

Part of the reason for that success is that we learn a tremendous amount about the Gamilons this week.  For instance, Gamilon is a doomed planet, just like Earth.  The people there need a new home world because volcanoes are systematically destroying theirs.  That’s the reason Desslok so desperately wants Earth.  This motivation helps to humanize the Gamilons, who often come off as simply “black hat” bad guy characters.

Secondly, we learn the shocking fact this week that Gamilon and Iscandar are twin planets, ones sharing a close orbit around their sun.  Therefore, the whole time that the Argo has been heading for Iscandar it has also been heading directly for Desslok and Gamilon!  



This is a pretty mind-blowing revelation, and I must confess, I had forgotten this plot detail (if I ever knew it to begin with…).

We get to see more of the enigmatic Starsha this week as well.  She shares an orbit with Gamilon, but not that planet’s value system.  Instead, she is doing everything she can to save Earth, and even notes that Desslok’s solutions to their mutual crisis “are all evil.”  Starsha also reveals to the Argo that the “twin planets are very different from each other” in terms of governing philosophy.

Desslok is also a powerful presence in this episode, noting that “the only battle that counts is the last one,” and then, literally, releasing the hounds on the Argo.  


This episode reveals Desslok launching a gaggle of missiles and using a “climate de-stabilizer” to plunge the Argo into Gamilon’s turbulent oceans, which are made of “pure sulfuric acid.”  

And it is there -- in that swirling sea of acid -- that the Argo remains as the episode closes (with a cliff-hanger), facing a missile barrage and the threat of being totally dissolved…

Only 164 days left to save Earth!

Tuesday, May 25, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #22


The battle royale -- the main event of the series -- occurs in Star Blazers (1979) episode 22. 

In this story, the Argo goes toe-to-toe with four Gamilon space cruisers, and the depiction of the sprawling battle makes it feel like naval combat in the Pacific during World War II…only set in outer space.  Fighters strafe the Argo, and giant explosive plumes appear on the buffeted, listing ship.

Here, the Gamilons launch their attack, and use the powerful new weapon S.M.I.T.E. (Space Matter Instant Transforming Equipment) to transport fighter ships across vast distances instantaneously.  Once the Argo is badly damaged because of this tactic, the Gamilons launch a “drill missile,” which is designed to burrow into the Argo’s forward hull and destroy the wave motion gun.




The plan comes incredibly close to succeeding, but Sandor and IQ9 manage to set the drill on reverse once it has damaged the hull.  It backs out…into the Gamilon ships.

This supreme space battle continues throughout the episode in new and dangerous iterations as General Lysis refuses to relent.  He plants a bomb on the Argo’s hull, and also tries to ram the great ship.  Finally, however, Lysis is defeated and the Argo is victorious.

The episode is almost entirely action-oriented, but it resolves with strong characterizations and intense human moments.  A funeral for the Argo’s dead is held on the hull of the ship, with the full crew in attendance.  



We all belong to the Star Force and to each other,” declares Captain Avatar.  

At this point, we all belong to Star Blazers, it is fair to state. 

This episode is gripping, and it is downright tense to see the beloved Argo under such vicious, damaging attack.  This episode is a high-point for the battle, but the battle is effective, finally, because we care for the characters…

Monday, May 24, 2021

Guest Post: Army of the Dead (2021)



Army Of The Dead… Go AWOL instead.

 

By Jonas Schwartz

 

There’s an ingenious quote from famed movie critic Pauline Kael about the 1969 comedy, Bob & Carol & Ted & Alice,Playing the bitch, Dyan Cannon-… looks a bit like Lauren Bacall and a bit like Jeanne Moreau, but the wrong bits.” Army of the Dead, the latest from Zack Snyder, is a bit Aliens, a bit Dirty Dozen, a bit Oceans 11 and a bit Zombieland,but ALL the wrong bits. It’s impossible to leave out the fun when filming about zombies in Las Vegas, but Snyder has committed the impossible sin. 


 

After a collision between an army caravan and horny newlyweds who obviously never paid attention during drivers ed, a government experiment escapes outside Las Vegas, either killing or turning the brigade members into zombies. These military newly walking dead turn Sin City to mush and the US quarantines the toxic city from the rest of the country by building a wall around it. The wealthy Bly Tanaka (Hiroyuki Sanada) hires a crew of mercenaries to free his money ($200 million) in his casino vault from the city that now never wakes. Led by the complicated family man Ward (Dave Bautista), the squad sneaks over the border and quickly discovers that the monsters inside are not brainless brain-seekers but super intelligent creatures who have formed their own dead militia. 

 

Snyder attempts satire by drawing correlations with COVID (the military takes people’s temperatures to assure they’re not a danger) and the last four years’ controversial policies against our neighbor Mexico (many of the zombies’ captured refugees are Hispanic, the wall around Las Vegas brings to mind a colossal, expensive folly), but just reminding people of the last half-decade is not satire, per se. Snyder finds nothing new to say about either current circumstances, nor the zombie genre — one that he reinvigorated in ’05 with his remake of Dawn of the Dead. The action scenes are appropriately gory but not inventive, and the quiet scenes between the actors are staffed with trite dialogue by writers Shay Hatten and Joby Harold. The characters are interchangeable, and the zombies’ pecking order is confusing. The opening sequence that shows in slow motion the usual stable of Vegas characters (showgirls, prostitutes, strippers, gamblers) turning into zombies is the one fun scene, but it’s heavily reminiscent of the superior opening fromZombieland.  The opening song, a goofy cover of “Viva Las Vegas”, is even sung by Richard Cheese, whose “Down With The Sickness” was utilized to great effect in Dawn of the Dead.  

 

The effects are involving. Anytime you take a cherished landmark and pummel it, people will feel personally desecrated and out for revenge from the monster/tornado/ice storm responsible.  The acting is non-descript — no one’s backstory feels fresh, especially leader Wards’ ties to his estranged daughter, which is a storyline found on cave drawings. Huge props for Snyder swapping allegedly toxic actor Chris D’Elia with groundbreaking comedian Tig Notaro as the getaway pilot. The gifted monologist, who has written and spoken about her bouts with cancer, adds a wizened devil-may-care to a role that would have been easily forgotten.

 

Besides Richard Cheese’s opening cover, the movie is filled with the expected Elvis tunes, along with a few sly covers, like Thea Gilmore’s sleepy grift on CCR’s “Bad Moon Rising”.  The actual score by Junkie XL is monotonous and makes you yearn for another Elvis remake. Potentially for the death scenes at the palatial abandoned casinos, why not “Heartbreak Hotel” sung by Tickle Me, Elmo with maybe the Cookie Monster on back-ups? At least it would be unexpected.

 

This critic has not enjoyed Zack Snyder’s many comic-book/graphic novel films. Only his debut really exhilarated me. Since Snyder is the constant, the variable in Dawn of the Dead was James Gunn, Snyder’s screenwriter for the hyper-driven, hilarious film back in ’05.  It’s a shame that Gunn, who has become a legendary director in his own right with such blockbusters as Guardians Of The Galaxy, wasn’t hired to give life to Army of the Dead —this dead, walking dead’er. 

Saturday, May 22, 2021

Thundarr The Barbarian in "Battle of the Barbarians"




In the ruins of ancient Chinatown, Thundarr, Ookla and Ariel attempt to stop a wizard and his powerful robots.  When they succeed in protecting the human village nearby, the Wizard Kuglai swears his revenge.

He hires another barbarian, Zogar, to eliminate Thundarr.

Now, it’s barbarian against barbarian…



“Battle of the Barbarians” pits Thundarr against his most dedicated and dangerous opponent yet: Zogar the Barbarian!  

The two men become bitter enemies locked in combat, and the episode works largely on the basis that it is cool to see Thundarr go up against one of his own. 

Yet the challenge does seem to unhinge our hero a bit.  Thundarr does a lot of leaping before looking in this episode. “I have a score to settle with Zogar!” he bellows madly. 

It seems like there might have been an opportunity on the writer’s part to discuss obsession, or the idea of not letting someone else’s actions dictate your own, but instead “Battle of the Barbarians” is all action all the time.




Besides the conceit of an evil barbarian, this episode is pretty much the exact same fare we have seen in preceding episodes. 

The setting is a 20th century, pre-holocaust landmark (here Chinatown) in ruins. 

And the conflict involves Thundarr saving a human village from plunderers or other villains.  In this case Thundarr actually seems to sniff out trouble.

“The sounds of destruction…and humans in danger!”

Single-minded and lacking much in terms of story depth, “Battle of the Barbarians” gets by mostly on its break-neck pacing.  It’s a thrill-a-minute every minute, and I suspect that just what kids were looking for on a Saturday morning in 1980 while gulping their Froot-Loops.

Friday, May 21, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #21


Rather uncharacteristically, this twenty-first episode of Star Blazers (1979) commences with activity on the planet Gamilon as General Lysis is prosecuted and held under house arrest for his failure to destroy the Star Force.  

Lysis is found guilty for his failures, and destined for execution until Desslok intervenes and claims that Lysis is actually the only general he can count on.



With Desslok in his corner, Lysis gets a (dangerous) second chance to destroy the Argo.  Acting immediately, he takes a war fleet consisting of four space carriers to the Magellanic Clouds to intercept the Earth vessel.  

Predictably, he also has a brand new secret weapon available, one (hilariously…) termed S.M.I.T.E. (Space Matter Instant Transforming Equipment) to move ships through space instantaneously.  Lysis believes that this will be the critical factor in destroying the Argo.

Lysis then issues a challenge to the Star Force to meet at the rim of the “Rainbow Galaxy” and settle their differences there.  After prodding from Derek Wildstar, Captain Avatar agrees that it is time to confront the Gamilons, once-and-for-all.  “We must face and defeat them before we get to Iscandar” is the thinking that dominates discussion.

This episode ends with preparations for the mother of all space battles, and tension builds nicely throughout the half-hour as all-out war nears.  

In this episode, Avatar walks with a cane and looks weakened, which is a good, consistent character touch.  He addresses his crew in the Assembly Room of the Argo and notes that “no man ever had a better crew.”  This compliment is especially poignant given the facts that Avatar may not live very long, and that he is lauding his crew at the same time he is reflecting, essentially, on his final command.

This episode features the typical “Gamilons invent secret weapon to terrorize the Star Force” plot-line – which recurs every other episode of Star Blazers -- but nonetheless succeeds because of the character touches on Argo, and because the episode opens on Gamilon, with more background on the enemy than we’ve seen before on the series.  At the very least, we get a sense of Gamilon “justice” from Lysis’s trial.


The secret weapon plot, I know, relates to World War II and history, and so I understand and appreciate it.  America dropped two atom bombs on Japan in 1945, two devices of frightening, staggering, and heretofore unknown destructive power.  The recurring plot of Star Blazers is one that suggests that even as an alien invader develops fierce new weaponry of unimaginable destructive power, the old-fashioned qualities of sacrifice, honor and dedication to duty will win out.  

This through-line represents a nice, romantic construct, but it’s a shame that the same single point is reiterated constantly, at the expense of more creative and varied narratives.  Still, the next episode is a very strong one, and everything is on the line for the Star Force as the battle begins…

Only 215 days left! 

Thursday, May 20, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #20


Compared to last week's non-traditional installment of Star Blazers (1979), which concentrated on the demons of inner space (guilt and self-doubt), this week's installment about the demons of outer space -- the Gamilons -- feels dull and formulaic.

Once more, the narrative involves the dedicated attempts of a Gamilon underling, this time Lysis, to defeat the Star Force and achieve glory.  He does so, naturally, with a new secret weapon THAT CAN'T POSSIBLY FAIL...but does.

This time, that secret weapon is the "artificial sun" that orbits the planet Balan (instead of vice-versa).  Lysis can control the star's path remotely, and hopes to crash the sun into Argo when it attempts to attack the Gamilon outpost on Balan, one built inside a crater.



Volgar naturally objects that playing with a sun that close to the planet surface could harm the outpost, and goes over Lysis's head to get Desslok involved.  Desslok is none too pleased, but in the end, the outpost is destroyed anyway.

In the end, the Argo -- 44 days behind schedule now -- escapes destruction only because Wildstar, on the bridge of the ship, gets a hunch about the sun, and is prepared to evade it.  

Afterwards, Captain Avatar promotes Wildstar to the rank of deputy captain, noting that he can no longer perform all the responsibilities of that important rank.  "I need your help," he tells Wildstar, "I want you to take on some of my duties."


I love this scene because it represents the torch-passing aspect of the hero's journey, the moment when the wise elder must step down and hand control to the next generation. The great last (tender) scene in this episode between Wildsstar and Avatar all but makes up for the fact that this is probably the sixth or seventh time we have seen this story on Star Blazers already.  Gamilon secret weapons are, at this point, literally a dime a dozen.  And seeing the nefarious aliens handed their hats so frequently by the Star Force only makes them like like ineffectual buffoons.

Only 253 Days Left!

Wednesday, May 19, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #19


The nineteenth episode of Star Blazers takes the story of the Argo in a more intimate and intriguing direction than some installments do.  The story by-and-large focuses on a minor character, the communications officer named Homer, as he grapples with feelings of guilt about his family on Earth, as well as feelings of homesickness for the distant planet.  His parents don't do much to help him, either  In long-range transmissions from Earth, they are accusatory and histrionic.  They all but ask him to forsake his mission and return home.  But of course, to do that would mean the end of every human life on the planet.

Homer's existential angst goes much deeper than homesickness and guilt, however.  He is literally obsessed with impending death.  He worries that "every space warp takes us further into the dark unknown," and that Earth and his family are truly lost to him.  




At one point in the drama, Homer asks for guarantees of success, and Captain Avatar very rightly provides him none.  "No one knows tomorrow.  There are no guarantees," he notes.   

This comment reflects one reason why I admire Avatar so deeply as a character.  He doesn't candy-coat anything, and he doesn't underestimate the danger that the Star Force faces.  On the contrary, Captain Avatar is facing his own "dark unknown" in the form of his illness, but even that sickness doesn't prevent him from continuing to focus on the job at hand.

In moments such as this one, this episode of Star Blazers ably charts the psychological impact of the long journey to Iscandar, and in a way that only a few episodes thus far have managed to equal.  The story resolves with Homer becoming a hero, which is a nice, optimistic touch.  After he attempts to commit suicide by leaving the Argo in a space suit, Homer encounters a Gamilon relay satellite, and helps Derek Wildstar to destroy it.  This act refocuses him on his mission, and his duty.


This episode of Star Blazers also features scenes of Homer in the "holography room," experiencing his home on Earth during the winter.  This "holography room" is very much a forerunner to the holodeck on Star Trek: The Next Generation though in fairness to that franchise, Gene Roddenberry had envisioned this brand of rec room technology as early as Star Trek: The Animated Series (1973 - 1974) and episodes such as "Practical Joker."    

Again, the important thing here regarding the holography room is the emotional important. Homer recognizes that a simulation of home is not home. "It's not that way now," he objects, before storming out of the holography room, offering the audience an explicit reminder that the beauty of Earth has largely been destroyed by Gamilon bombing.

All in all, what this episode points out rather nimbly is the notion that on a long, lonely voyage through space, self-doubt and guilt can prove just as dangerous to the Star Force as a Gamilon weapons array.

255 Days Left!

Tuesday, May 18, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #18


In this week's installment of Star Blazers (1979), the Argo nears the mid-point of its long journey when it encounters a mysterious object in space.  This strange space vessel causes Sandor's fighter to break-up, but fortunately he bails out and survives.  He reports to Captain Avatar that his plane "shook itself apart."

The Star Force soon realizes it is dealing with another Gamilon threat: a "space fortress" that can pursue them and which emanates deadly "magnetron waves."   These waves are powerful enough to destroy the Argo, or even damage it upon entry into space warp, and so the enemy ship must be destroyed.

To that end, Wildstar and Sandor board the living space fortress and attempt to destroy the organic ship. 

While navigating its weird passages, Sandor tells Derek a story about his brother, Alex, and how Sandor was assigned to repair his ship, the Paladin.  Even today, Sandor feels guilty that he didn't do a good enough job on that work, and that if things had been different, the Paladin and Alex might have survived the Battle of Pluto.

When Sandor and Wildstar become trapped in the control center of the biological space fortress, Sandor reveals that his limbs are bionic -- and therefore removable -- and that he can escape from captivity...


The eighteenth episode of Star Blazers is filled with weird contrivances, and those contrivances manage to undo some of the strong emotions the episode hopes to engender.

For instance, when it is learned that the Gamilon space fortress can shake apart any conventional spaceship, Sandor effortlessly wheels out a pre-existing "seamless" fighter, one with no parts which can be shaken loose by the magnetron waves. 

Convenient that such a fighter should exist, and more-so that one would be aboard the Argo, which left Earth in a tearing hurry.

Then, late in the show, Sandor reveals that he is an amputee and can thus escape the wriggling bonds of the space fortress's command center.  

Again, Sandor is a character we have known for some time, and yet this information has never been forthcoming.  Instead, the information about his arms and leg arrives at the very moment in which such information is most useful to the plot's resolution.  Even if Sandor's condition had been explained at the start of the episode (maybe when he bailed out of his ruined fighter...), it would not seem so contrived as it does now.

If these contrivances scuttle much of the episode, other aspects are certainly noteworthy. 

For instance, I love the organic design of the Gamilon Space Fortress (though it doesn't look like other Gamilon construction....).  At points, it looks like Sandor and Derek are walking through a human digestive system...




Also, once more, the flashbacks into the characters' past are most welcome.  It's nice to see Alex Wildstar once again, and to get a deeper sense of Sandor as a character. 

Only 260 days left...

Monday, May 17, 2021

Star Blazers, Episode #17


In this seventeenth episode of the animated series Star Blazers (1979), the Argo has just 45 days left in its voyage to distant Iscandar, and the great ship has fallen three days behind schedule.  This delay means that it may be necessary to activate the motion wave engine early, and possibly risk the ship in the process.

At the same time, the Gamilon officer Volgar -- working for Lysis -- has developed a bizarre new weapon to challenge the Star Force.  On the planet of a nearby Gamilon outpost, energy cells in a sea of volcanic lava are actually life-forms that can combine and form different shapes.  Volgar has been training these creatures to form a giant, space-going (kaiju) monster called a Balanosaurus.  

His plan is to let the Balanosaurus destroy the Argo...

But as this challenge rises, the Star Force faces another problem.  Captain Avatar falls gravely ill, and collapses on the bridge.  He must undergo surgery immediately...or die.  "Any time you can give me...I'm counting on you," he tells the ship's doctor. 

Avatar's illness provides a test of command for Derek Wildstar as the giant balanosaurus approaches...




In many senses, this episode of Star Blazers relies on a tried-and-true series formula: a new Gamilon weapon endangers the mission to Iscandar.  

We've seen ultra-menace missiles, reflex guns, Desslok space mines, and other various and sundry threats thus far.  The energy-cell "colony" -- in the form of a space-going dragon/Balanosaurus -- is only the latest in a long line.  

And not unpredictably, this threat also fails to destroy the Argo.


Yet, this episode's subplot about Avatar is affecting.  

As viewers, we have known for some time that Avatar is weakening, and coming to the end.  Here, his condition is "very serious," and he pulls through, but there's also the sense that he is living on borrowed time. 

I find it interesting (and very human) how he uses that limited time: once awake, he commends Wildstar (in front of other crew members) for pulling the Argo through the latest scrape with the Gamilons.  Avatar is no doubt proud of Wildstar's accomplishment, but his public appreciation for the young man's actions serve another purpose: they allow the process of building-confidence in Avatar's replacement, when the time comes.  Avatar understands that he will leave big shoes to fill, and that the crew must feel committed to and confident about his successor.

It's for moments such as this one that Star Blazers proves so fascinating and worthwhile, at least to me.  All the space battle stuff we've seen before (and will see again...), but the character arcs are the ones that keep us watching.

Only 263 days left...

40 Years Ago: Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)

If adventure has a name, it must be Indiana Jones. But if adventure movies could have  three  names, they would be Steven Spielberg, George ...