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Monday, April 13, 2015

Ladies and Gentlemen- I Give You... The Bloodthirster!

Hey there my fiendish fanatics! Welcome back to a special edition of Chaos Corner. Old Man Chaos has a confession- I was supposed to be working on my Harlequin vehicles, but, alas, the Khorne Daemonkin book came out. And, as you all know, my dear readers, Chaos is my true 40K love. How could I resist the lure of the book? Or the new Bloodthirster? What can I say? I am weak. So, without further ado, I give you... the Bloodthirster of Khorne!!

First off, the model is huge. Absolutely huge. It makes the old Bloodthirster look like a minor daemon. The new guy is just terrifying- muscular, vicious, pure aggression. The model is simply fantastic- those huge wings, gigantic weapons, the baroque armor plates... this thing is a pure monster, simple as that.

What's great about the model is the various options. The weapons are all cool looking (except the flail- its OK, but not my cup of tea). The three faces are also very different and very nasty looking. But, no matter what choices you make, this thing is an evil looking daemon. I chose the Great Axe of Khorne. In friendly games, I can just say he's a Bloodthirster of fill-in-the-blank. I just love the huge axe- its bigger than a Terminator! I also decided not to do chest armor, because I just see him as this all powerful daemon of war that needs no armor to kill his foes.

In terms of painting, I used several techniques in GWs own video. The flesh is done with the following steps- Khorne Red, Nuln Oil, then, careful drybrushes of Khorne Red, Wazdakka Red, and Evil Sunz Scarlet (very careful, you want the various reds to show slight variations in skin tone). Finally, I used Wild Rider Red as an edge highlight. I DID NOT use the Bloodletter Glaze- I like glazes for several things, but I thought it would produce the wrong red.

The armor and axe I did Balthazar Gold, with a wash of Earthshade. I then drybrused Griffon Gold- in some places heavily, and lightly in other places. Finally, I did Ironbreaker around the edges, skulls, etc. I didn't think it would work (I was planning on using Brass Scorpion- but the video convinced me otherwise). The armor is very cool looking, and different from any armor on my World Eaters, but close enough to be the same Khornate force.

The wings were a bit of fun. I did Bugman's Glow, followed by a wash of Crimson. Then, I drybrushed Bugman. With that done, I drybrushed with Cadian Fleshtone on the raised areas on the outside of the wings, and on the deepest areas on the inside, making for a nice visual effect. Finally, on the Chaos markings on the back of the wings, I highlighted with Kislev Flesh, to make them stand apart from the wings. Finally, I did the wing veins with Incubi Darkness.

The horns I did black with some grey edge highlighting, followed by 'Ardcoat. What can I say? My Khorne Daemons have always been influenced by Darkness in Legend. So the horns are a shinny black against the deep red of his body. Like I said, all my Bloodletters are done the same way.

The hair I did with Stormraven Fur, and the skulls are built up from Zandri Dust to various bone hues (Ubshanti, etc.). There are a lot of skulls on the model, but not enough to really detract from the creature itself. I say that because I find the Khorne Daemon Bloodthrone to be waaaaaayy too overwrought (seriously, one of the worst models GW has ever made). The Bloodthirster is not that at all, thankfully.

 As for the fire- again, I mostly copied the video- Yellow Glaze, followed by Orange Wash, Yellow Wash, Crimson wash, and finally a bit of Yuriel yellow paint.  I did not do Nuln Oil, as I felt the Crimson turned dark enough on the fire.

Finally, I tried some of the Martian Ironearth for his base. I really didn't like it that much, so I did the rest of the base my usual urban wasteland grey. However, I kept the Ironearth around the fiery skulls- the land burning upon his taking off/landing.

Of course, the Bloodthirster has some company. I already had 2 Daemon Princes of Khorne. One of them is from GW, the other is from another place that I can't seem to remember the name of. The last, and most recent, is a Daemon Prince I bought from my local "used" for 25 bucks. Now, normally I wouldn't do that, but buying him used saved me 10 bucks, and I really liked his pose. Plus, there was absolutely NOTHING wrong with the model, so why not? After all I just bought the Codex, cards, and Bloodthirster- surely a $10 break is justified.

I painted him with the same techniques that I used with the Bloodthirster (at the same time too)- so they do have a rather consistent look to them. The Daemon Prince is clearly the Bloodthirster's subordinate, both waging war in the name of Khorne.

I must say that putting the 3 Daemon Princes with the Bloodthirster is a great visual- plus I would hate to face that on the battlefield! That's a lot of Daemon coming at you!

Speaking of, I did play my first battle with the Daemonkin book last week (sadly, my Bloodthirster was not ready so I did not use him, as I never use a model that I haven't finished painting).  I won the battle, score 2 to 1, as I managed to kill my opponent who had the relic. It dropped, but the game ended at that point. The book was a lot of fun, very fluffy but not overpowering. A lot of my guys died to Grey Knight Terminators, but each death created more Blood Tithe tokens (which I made myself by the way, using square fantasy bases). The more he killed, the more I was able to summon bloodletters, a daemon prince, and a pack of flesh hounds. True to form, the hounds pursued the unit with the relic, tying them down till the Maulerfiend arrived and finished them off. It was a great game.

At any rate, I should get back to painting my Harlequins. But... the lure of Chaos... is... too strong. Want to do... more... for my Khorne Daemonkin...

Until next time!

Tuesday, April 7, 2015

Introducing: The Masque of the Red Death

Greetings once more to my fellow Chaos fanatics! How are things in your neck of the Eye of Terror? What do you think of Khorne Daemonkin? I can't wait to play a game or two with this codex. It may not be "perfect", but it looks like fluffy fun indeed. I am currently painting a new Bloodthirster (damn, that thing is huge).

But I also put the finishing touches on some Harlequins (finally- took a long time to paint them). I still am working on the bikes and one vehicle. So--- let us begin:

My biggest challenge was to do a decent Harlequin force that would make a good ally for my Dark Eldar that would look complimentary, but quite different. My Dark Eldar wear black armor with red highlights. Now, how the heck would I be able to match em up?

After a lot of thought, I came to the conclusion that I would do their masks red- the red would match the DE well enough. Their jumpsuits would be black (with grey highlights). Then, I picked two opposing colors to red- purple and yellow. Thus, the look was born. Yellow was a pain in the arse to paint, I must say. However, it turned out good enough. I had fun, painting purple and yellow on opposing sides, etc. My only regret was that I absolutely couldn't do the check pattern. My hand simply shakes too much for such fine lines. I tried several times, but gave up.

My Solitaire I did in all purple with a pink mask, befitting of the actor who plays Slaanesh. The Deathjester I did in dark colors, though again the mask was red (kinda making him look like the Red Skull). The Shadowseers I was able to have fun with, paining red, purple, and yellow in different ways.

 I bought 2 Shadowseers because I figured Dark Eldar have no Psykers, so why wouldn't I go for more? I may get a third at some point- we shall see. Of course, I HAD to do a conversion on one Shadowseer- using a Kiss arm instead of a gun.

Now, why would these particular Harlequins ally themselves with my Dark Eldar? To answer that question, here is my Harlequin's story:

The Harlequin players known as the Masque of the Red Death were among the first troupes to appear after the fall. Their original name has been lost to time. They initially performed at the Iyanden Craftworld, but traveled far and wide to other Eldar, including the Dark Eldar.

The performance they are most famous for is the comedy/drama known as The Red Death. They have performed it so many times that they are now known as The Masque of the Red Death. The play has a particular relevance for the Dark Eldar. Indeed, the hero of the piece is in fact a Commoragh prince at the time of the fall. 

The play has several acts/dramas, but the central character throughout is Autë Lar, a wealthy inhabitant of the port city of Commoragh. The play begins with the beginning of The Fall. As Slaanesh is born and the Eldar are dying, fear grips all in Commoragh. Though they think they are protected, they can't be sure that Slaanesh won't get them- the doubt gnaws at the Commoragh Eldar, even though that fear doesn't make them change their depraved ways. Prince Autë Lar has a large palace, well hidden and protected (even by Commoragh standards). He invites his friends to stay with him, providing both safety and entertainment. Indeed, the guests engage in all manner of depravity and degradation as The Fall continues unabated in real space. 

When the gala is at its height, Autë sees a guest wearing a mask that he doesn't recognize- a smiling mask- stunning in its beauty. Autë personally invited all of his guests- how could there be someone here that Autë doesn't know? And no Dark Eldar would wear such a mask. Autë gives chase, pursuing the stranger throughout his fortress. The masked stranger retreats towards Autë Lar's most protected and private chambers. Autë pursues, thinking he has cornered this interloper. 

But the joke is on Autë Lar. The masked stranger reveals his true self to Autë. The stranger is in fact an aspect of Cegorach, the Laughing God; a fragment of the divine being given shape. Autë does not  doubt it at all, for he can feel the power of this entity; even the cynical Autë Lar must bend his knee to this living embodiment of a god. Cegorach explains that the Eldar gods are falling, and if they ALL fall, even the Dark Eldar won't be safe in their lair. Cegorach knows that Autë is calculating and cunning, with the strength and wits to overcome nearly any foe- but he is also mortal, and can easily be unseen to gods and daemons who are busy waging war at this moment. If ANY Eldar are to survive, Cegorach will need seven artifacts scattered throughout both the webway and real space. Only Autë can retrieve them. With no real choice, Autë agrees, and is immediately dispatched on this quest. Dark Eldar audiences laugh at Autë becoming the reluctant hero, knowing full well how foolish the very idea sounds- a heroic Commoragh Eldar? Impossible, absurd, and hysterical. 

Throughout the play, Autë is put in both dangerous and humorous situations, escaping each time just barely. The climax of the play comes as Autë must journey into the warp itself to find the last artifact. Within the warp, Autë (protected by Cegorach's power)witnesses the epic battle between Khaine and Slaanesh. In the midst of this titanic struggle, Autë is like an ant, scurrying around the footfalls of gods. In the end, Autë finds the last artifact, just as Khaine is about to be defeated. It is then that Cegorach appears, and uses his deceptive powers to protect Khaine's essence- allowing the shards to go into the craftworlds. It is at this point that the full cast of players come on stage- each one being a piece of Khaine. This dance is called The Red Death (hence the name of the play and Troupe). The dance starts as a lament, but builds into a hopeful piece, as parts of Khaine escape to fight again someday. As Slaanesh is about to take her rage out on Cegorach, Autë uses the artifacts to help Cegorach make his escape. The artifacts allow Cegorach to hide entirely in the webway, protected from Slaanesh. 

And what of Autë? The play never fully explains the fate of Autë Lar. The play ends with him in the warp helping Cegorach escape. Cegorach flees in a blast of blinding light. When it dims, all players except Autë have left the stage. Autë is kneeling near the artifacts, with the spotlight only on him, dimming until the stage goes dark. 

The character Autë Lar
Does he die? Escape? The ending is ambiguous, leaving it to the audience to ponder his fate. Some say that Slaanesh consumed his soul. Others believe that he made it back to real space, deciding to live on an Exodite world. Yet others think he MAY have gone with Cegorach- the first Harlequin perhaps? Again, the Dark Eldar audiences laugh at this suggestion.

Cegorach given living form in the play
Hope you have enjoyed the pics and my little back story. I will show you the rest of my Harlequin stuff (and my Bloodthirster) as soon as they are done. Until next time...

(Note: Just for fun- of course Masque of the Red Death is a short story by Edgar Allen Poe. I used the story as a springboard for the Harlequin play. Further, Autë and Lar are both Elvish words for prosperity. In Poe's story, Prince Prospero is the chasing down the unknown guest in his castle while the outside world is succumbing to an illness known as the Red Death).

Monday, March 23, 2015

Some Dark Eldar: Recently Completed

Hey there Chaos lunatics. Old Man Chaos here and boy, has it been a crazy time to be Chaos in Warhammer 40K! You've got Codex Khorne Daemonkin, a brand-spakin' new Bloodthirster, and now the Adeptus Mechanicus is in the offing- a Dark Mechanicus perhaps can't be too far behind, am I right? Hahahahaha!

At any rate, I have yet to put my bad boy Bloodthirster together because I have a backlog of stuff I am trying to finish. I am currently working on a small-ish Harlequin force as allies to my Dark Eldar. But to get to them, I had to finish some of the aforementioned Dark Eldar. I also had some Khorne Bloodletters I have been working on for a couple of months (in between doing the gaming boards, etc). Yikes! So many models, so little time...

As it turns out, I made myself a promise- I would finish my DE and Harlequins BEFORE I get to the Bloodthirster. Though the Chaos side of me is crying out, I know if I do the Bloodthirster, I will forget the other stuff, thus making my backlog grow more! No, I resolved to finish some other stuff first, so I can take my time on the Greater Daemon of Khorne.

So, first up is some pics of the new Haemonculus (a Christmas gift from my friend Pete, along with a Succubus that I haven't gotten to yet). I really like this model- much better pose than the finecast ones (though I managed to do some minor conversion work to them). I did nothing to this one, though. IF I get another of the new plastic, I'll be sure to do some "extra" work to it.

I painted the Haemonculus to fit in more closely with my Wracks. Since each Haemonculus would look radically different from any other Haemonculus- why not, right? So I painted him with purple washes, to be a LITTLE closer to my Wracks- but not to close, since he is WAY above the lowly servants.

Speaking of, here are some of the new plastic Wracks. I must say, they are so damn close to the finecast sculpts that they are virtually indistinguishable (some of the details are different, and the slotterbase gives it away). They look great, and really have a mean, sick look to them. The hooks, blades, and vials make them look like demented torturers right out of Hellraiser. I love these models, and enjoyed painting them.

I made 9 of them (one was made into a gunner for the Covenite Venom). So, combined with my 10 Finecast, I have 19 total. Not quite enough for some of the Formations from the Haemonculus Covens book, but its a start- I can pull off a couple now...

I also finished a second Talos. I love the model except for one thing... I hate how the model just stops at its base. I know it is hovering, but it just looks foolish. I much prefer the tentacles as the base of the engine. It could be floating, but the tentacles are near the ground, ready to grab the victims. I also dislike the "spirit catcher" thingie for the Chronos, hence the Talos tail.

In friendly games, I can use him as either a Talos or Chronos, and it won't matter. This new one looks very similar to my other one, just with more tentacles. So if I say the two are in a squad they will be either or, so it'll be easy to keep track of. Again, I have a formation here- 1, 1, and 1 Haemonculus, if I choose to. I do need ONE more to have a full squad though (and two more if I try for the Corpsetheif Claw formation- yikes).

So, here is the whole thing- 1 Haemonculus, 9 Wracks, the Talos, and the Venom I finished a few months ago. Not too shabby, huh? I could have brought out my other Haemonculus stuff, but that stuff is older- maybe at some point I will show off all my Covenite forces in one pic...

Well, that's all for now. I will be completing some of my Harlequin stuff very soon. Then, its on to the Bloothirster. I'll let you know my progress as it goes. Hope you are all doing some cool modelling stuff!

Until next time...

Monday, March 2, 2015

Examining a Movie: The Black Hole

Hey there, foul inhabitants of the warp! Old Man Chaos here, very excited by the new Bloodthirster coming out this week- can't wait to get my mitts on him! But first I have to finish the 8 Billion projects I already have going... I have been going through a case of painters OCD, but I should be able to finish a few models fairly soon... At any rate, I said a few weeks ago that I wanted to write posts about things other than my main hobby, so here it is...

Examining a Movie: The Black Hole

The film The Black Hole was released by Disney in 1979. It was Disney's answer to Star Wars' big success (and Trek was having a big screen come back as well that year). However, when the film opened it bombed badly, and was an embarrassment to Disney. It fell into a strange obscurity thereafter- known by die-hard sci-fi fans, but ignored and unknown by everyone else. Even many of those sci-fi fans dislike the movie.

However, I feel this film needs to be re-evaluated on a number of levels. I think its bad reputation is not only NOT deserved, but unfair. This is not just nostalgia, though I did see the movie as a kid. I watched the movie recently with my wife, who had never seen it before. At the end, she said she liked it a great deal. She admitted it had flaws, but was an interesting movie. Now, my wife will tell me if she thinks a movie I get her to watch blows (she has reminded me about how much she hated Watchmen oh so often). She liked this movie, with no rose colored lenses of nostalgia.

I would like to discuss the movie in some categories. Forgive me if I jump around a bit...

Plot: I don't want to give spoliers at this point, so here is the set-up: The movie is set in the future- when is somewhat unclear. We have space travel, though it is risky, dangerous, and, frankly, arduous. We also have robots- they have "personality", but are they "living things" (one of the film's many ambiguities). The crew of the Palomino, led by Captain Dan Holland. Their mission is to explore and find "intelligent life". Without the crew saying so, it seems the universe is pretty empty indeed, and their mission has not been much of a success. At any rate, the Palomino encounters a Black Hole, more powerful than any recorded. They are nearly pulled in, but they escape due to the "aid" of another, almost ghostly ship. Upon scanning, the crew finds it is the USS Cygnus- a huge, behemoth, yet graceful and elegant, ship; one presumed lost in space. Holland and the crew decide to investigate.

On the Cygnus, they find only one man alive, Dr. Hans Reinhardt, commander of the vessel. Reinhardt explains that his ship had been damaged by meteors years ago, and that he had the crew abandon ship (he didn't leave the ship though; Captain is the last man on board deal, going down with the ship), and he didn't know what happened to them. He repaired the ship with the help of his robots. But rather than return home, he stayed in space, exploring the galaxy's mysteries. The one "challenge" that has eluded him is the Black Hole, and he is in the process of unravelling that one too. He is planning to go into the Black Hole, proving science (and his ego) can overcome anything, even the power of a Black Hole.

As the crew deal with Reinhardt, they notice three things. One, he is definitely on the "eccentric" side- is he crazy, or is just that he has been alone for so long that it has made him a bit weird? Two, the Palomino crew realize Reinhardt's story just isn't adding up, for reasons they can't explain. Third, they find that Reinhardt's robots are, well, threatening, to say the least, particularly Maximilian, Reinhardt's own special design. Holland and company have more questions than answers. Then, as the film goes on, Reinhardt begins to reveal his true motives and intentions, which have Holland's crew running for their lives, trying to escape the Cygnus, and the Black Hole. Can they escape? Will Reinhardt accomplish his plans? And just what is the true nature of these robots?

From here, I'm going to get into different aspects of the film. There will be spoilers, so if you don't want spoilage stop here and see the movie... If you haven't seen it, you really should...

 What Went "Wrong" in 1979 (and after): The movie was a box office disaster for Disney, and at first glance, you can see why. This is NOT Star Wars (or Trek). The Black Hole is a complicated movie, part Sci-fi actioner, part mystery, and a whole heaping dose of questioning morality. The film is slow at the beginning, with a hefty amount of exposition. Once the threat is revealed, the movie then kicks into gear, progressing quickly. However, the nature of the threat is rather "dark" and frankly, a little scary- kids certainly would be scared. It is a "dark" film- somber, with some disturbing questions about life in the universe. It does attempt some humor with VINCENT, the robot member of the Palomino, but it is minor at most. So, when sci-fi people went expecting a Disney Star Wars type of film, they got a bleak movie. So, it failed. Further, the film does break some of the basic rules of physics (even my wife snickered at some of the rather implausible space physics). That turned off serious sci-fans too.

But "Wrong" is actually (mostly) "Right": Disney should be respected for taking a risk. They could have made a simple Star Wars clone, but instead they opted for something very different. This wasn't a space epic, it was a morality play. Disney didn't take the easy way out, and it hurt them, though it didn't deserve it. The pacing isn't fully action packed, but it isn't really that type of movie. One needs to "get" that in order to appreciate the film. This movie is examining big ideas, and even uncomfortable ones. Further, though the science/physics are wonky, one must accept it as the price of admission. It might be a bit of a leap of faith, but if you can really suspend your disbelief, you might be able to ignore the "bad" science. If you can, it won't actually matter to the plot of the film.

Special Effects/Music: If there is one area that people can agree on this movie, even the haters, it is that the Special Effects are top notch. The two ships are very well detailed miniatures. The Palomino is a small, but trusty vessel, while the Cygnus is just sweeping and ornate, with a hint of both grandeur and menace. The various robots are mostly cool (some hate VINCENT and BOB, but I get what they were doing here- they are "friendly" robots, so they look "cute", unlike Reinhardt's creations). In particular, the robot Maximilian is just the stuff of absurd nightmare- he is painted devil-red, hulking, fast, but with an odd assortment of weapons.

The interior of the Cygnus is cavernous, but again brilliant and just larger than life- Gothic is a good word for it. Finally, there's the Black Hole itself- omnipresent, in space, always swirling, moving, destroying. The effect will stick with you, as does the entire production design. Plot aside, the LOOK is unique, and no sci-fi film has this look and feel. The score, by John Barry, is equally good- ominous, brooding, and on occasion rousing. The score adds to the feel of the film.

The Plot Thickens: Now, here I want to get into the "twists", turns, and themes. The film is about the human mind- Reinhardt's in particular, but in general as well. Reinhardt is mankind- looking to the stars, blessed by God with intellect. Humanity wants to solve the mysteries of the universe. The NEED to know is great. It may be arrogance that man THINKS he can control science and conquer all, and what happens to man if he does accomplish this?

This is where we find Reinhardt. A brilliant man who believes that "the ends justify the means". He will achieve what none have been able to. He will solve this last great mystery- what lies on the other side of the Black Hole. His genius will make it happen. Unfortunately, he will do ANYTHING to achieve his (noble?) goal. Morality, humanity, God... all irrelevant to Reinhardt's quest. Reinhardt believes that the other side of the Black Hole is a place why the concepts of right and wrong are gone, fundamental laws of nature do not apply, they vanish. And one could live forever there.

As it turns out, the Cygnus' original mission was to find new life- the government spent a fortune building the Cygnus, based on Reinhardt's own singular vision. After a good amount of time exploring space, Earth contacted the Cygnus and ordered Reinhardt to come back, his mission deemed a failure. That was something he could not tolerate, and he refused to obey. His crew mutinied, but he managed to put down the revolt using his "Sentry Robots". However, he was faced with a dilemma- the ship was too large to be run by one man with the rest of the crew locked in the brig. So, bending his intellect to the problem, Reinhardt came to a horrifying conclusion. He decided to lobotomize his crew- basically he destroyed their free will and "programmed" them to continue working on the ship as they had before. Now, they are mute, wraithlike. He dressed them in robes and masks so he wouldn't have to look at their faces- he thought of them as robots, without troubling his mind too much over what he had done. He then turned to his obsession- the Black Hole, without worrying about any one else's needs. He is Niche's "Superman"- nothing can stand in his way of achieving great feats.

Interestingly enough, NONE of his robots speak, not even his greatest creation, Maximilian. Free will troubles Reinhardt. This is why humanity cannot accomplish anything- free will is too troublesome. You need a singular vision- an iron will and steely determination. Get rid of free will, and the "great man" can do anything. Or so it seems to Reinhardt.

However, the film has more to say on that. Religion (or, perhaps, a spirituality) is a major theme in the film. BOB says that intelligent life is the MOST important thing in the universe, and Reinhardt disregards that basic, important rule. Reinhardt himself quotes the Bible at one point. One Palomino crew member, Dr. McCray, has minor ESP abilities (more a psychic spirituality and empathy than anything else, though she can mentally communicate with VINCENT. Is that a huh? Yes, it is odd, yet the theme of Spirituality covers this- VINCENT has free will and is therefore alive). One character calls what lies on the other side of the Black Hole the "mind of God". There is a religious quality at work here that many Space Sci-fi movies lack.

And just to be clear, the theme of religion dominates the film. Reinhardt expresses SOME slight guilt over his deeds, and he IMPLIES that Maximilian is responsible, as if the creation is in control of the creator. Could it be? Or is Reinhardt simply projecting his evil onto his robot? Is Maximilian the DEVIL (as he appears)? Or is he just a physical representation of Reinhardt's Id? The movie gives no answers here. Is there a devil, or are we evil all by ourselves?

The end of the movie just adds to the Spiritualism. The Cygnus is struck by meteors (irony or karma?), and drifts into the Black Hole, breaking apart. Reinhardt has a smaller probe ship, and he intends to fly it into the Black Hole. However, his command center collapses, and he is stuck in the wreckage, surrounded by his lobotomized crew who, thanks to his evil handiwork, can only focus on their tasks running the ship, and thus pay no heed to his cries of pain. Maximilian ignores Reinhardt as well, following his last order to prepare the probe ship. Is Maximilian the devil leaving his pawn Reinhardt behind and discarded, or is the robot simply following its master's last order?

In the end, the surviving Palomino crew members destroy Maximilian and board the probe ship, with no choice but to fly into the Black Hole. Time, space, and matter begin to distort, as the ship plummets faster and faster down the Black Hole. In McCray's (psychic) mind's eye, we then see something bizarre, yet fitting. We see Reinhardt spinning in infinity- alive? How can this be? What the...? His hair has grown long, his beard immense. How long has he been there? Then, when it looks like he will be there forever alone- he sees Maximilian. He grabs hold of his wicked robot. Then, with a quick camera pan, Reinhardt's eyes are WITHIN Maximilian's red visor. Reinhardt is INSIDE his creation, his eyes frantically looking about in abject horror. The robot is then stuck on a rock, immobile, looking down on a field of fire, with the lobotomized crew standing by. It is a rather creepy image, and it just begs the question- is this hell? Is this Reinhardt's punishment for his disregard for morality? And the crew? Did he not only strip away their free will, but also their very souls? Are they damned as well? Intriguing, and uncomfortable.

But then, the hellish scene gives way to a bright corridor, through which a robed figure glides through- Jesus? God? The Human Spirit? With a flash, and without word, the probe ship comes out of the other side of the Black Hole. Ahead of the ship is a planet, bathed in white light. Heaven? Sanctuary? Just an alien world? The film ends here, leaving you to ponder their fate.

Whoa, That Is Weird: Yes, the film is certainly an oddity. And I love it for that. It has big ideas, and isn't afraid to make you think about the darker side of human nature and the technology we have created. The film is anchored by Maximilian Schell and Robert Forster. Schell gives a great performance as Reinhardt. His German accent adds to the character (and the Niche threads). But, he is larger than life, full of grand thoughts and gestures. But he is also warped beyond all repair- knowing the evil he has done, but believing the evil was for a greater goal. The actor evokes awe, sympathy, and disgust in equal measures- which is no small feat.

 Robert Forster, on the other hand, is in many ways the opposite of Reinhardt. He is neither brilliant nor grand. He is, in some respects, an everyman. He is captain, and his responsibility to to protect the lives of his crew. He does have an innate, quiet decency, even when it comes to the robots VINCENT and old BOB, which Reinhardt lacks entirely. It is certainly the less flashy role, but works as a good contrast to the antagonist.  The other cast members are good as well, particularly Anthony Perkins, whose Dr. Durrant admires Reinhardt's brilliance and finds it hard to believe that genius has led to insanity.

This may be the strangest movie review I have written, but it is also a strange movie, so I guess it is fitting. I think any sci-fi fan owes it to themselves to check this film out (Disney, you need to make a special edition on Blu-ray, immediately). You need to put it into the context of the time in which it was made, as well as being able to have a stronger suspension of disbelief than you are used to. If you can do those things, you should watch this film. It is visually interesting, has a good cast, and does make you think.    interestingly, Interstellar recently had somewhat similar questions about Black Holes and human nature, though that film is FAR more upbeat, optimistic, and positive than this older movie.

I give this film 3 out of 4 Marks of Chaos. If you're a space / sci-fi fan, you may want to check this out. 

Until next time!!