Friday, December 21, 2012

We all live!

Another day, another apocalypse down. I don't know what the next one will be, but odds are there is another one on the horizon for people to obsess about and for hollywood and more than likely the SyFy channel to exploit. Untill then, Happy Non-Apocalypse!

Tuesday, December 18, 2012

Bilbo lives!

An Unexpected Journey was much of what I expected. It was good. I didn’t see it in IMAX, 3D, or in the HFR. I wanted to enjoy it in the way it should be, just as it is.

Being a fan of the book, it was a joy to see just how closely the film followed along. Yes, they added stuff, but it is true to the original material. Well, not entirely. In the book the animals can talk and have their own kings. But that might be a bit much for some people, especially the critics who somehow found enough problems with this film to not like it. Well, maybe one other criticism, and it did not bother me all that much, was that there were quite a few flashbacks. However, these flashbacks have a lot of action. And to be honest, I found the pace of this first part of The Hobbit trilogy to be faster than the pace in The Fellowship of the Ring. It did not feel like I was in the theater for nearly three hours.

Not that I was worried about how The Hobbit films would turn out, but An Unexpected Journey gives me a good feeling about the final two parts of this adventure.

Gender Wars?

I always thought it was interesting that while in the various Star Wars novels female characters were everywhere, there were very few in the original trilogy. Aside from Leia and Mon Mothma, you had to go to Jaba’s Palace to see anyone of female gender of any species. I never paid much attention because of when the movies where filmed. There wasn’t a lot of racial diversity in the galaxy far, far away either. So no big deal.

But apparently there were four, yes four, female fighter pilots present at the Battle of Endor. Two flew X-Wings and two flew A-Wings. They just got edited out. Well, most of them. One had her voice dubbed over with a male voice in the short scene she had.

Now, I’ll go with the popular theory that the thinking at the time may have been that “people can’t handle seeing women being shot and blown up” argument as the reason these women were cut. I can look past that. But what happened during the re-release? They could have at least given that A-Wing pilot her voice back. And with the additions in the Blu-Rays like seeing the younger spirit of Anakin at the end of Return Of The Jedi, we couldn’t see a return of at least one of these female pilots? One, actress Vivienne Chandler, even had about a page of dialogue. Which is funny because the two A-Wing pilots got their scenes added in the Blu-Ray extras and they just had the usual quick banter before never being seen again. Chandler, and the other X-Wing pilot are still lost on the cutting room floor. Maybe the footage was to degraded or had other issues that kept them from being added. Who knows?

Now that there are plans for the Star Wars universe to expand in to several different projects, maybe we’ll get to see more women in combat roles. And not just as Jedi. It worked on Battlestar Galactica.

(Photos from Star Wars Aficionado)

The many lives of Eric Draven

In 1994 James O’Barr’s The Crow was brought to life on screen. It is one of my favorite movies. The mythology O’Barr created is tailor made for a movie franchise. The fact that “sometimes, just sometimes, the crow can bring that soul back to put the wrong things right” means that you can have a new story, with a new character, and a new world to explore every time. It is a good theory. It just has not worked so well so far.

The various The Crow comic series have brought the stories of different people and different takes on what is now the iconic face paint of Eric Draven. It makes sense. Different person so different design. Each different but still recognizable as part of the mythology. Unfortunately, all the films have in a way, attempted to bring Eric Draven back to life. They are different characters, but they all have the same face paint.

The second film, City of Angels, had it’s moments but somehow it did not live up to the original. I have not seen the TV series, Stairway to Heaven, so I can’t comment on it. Salvation was again, a different character, but went back to the original formula of a guy and a girl who die a tragic death and he comes back to punish the wicked who killed them. It has been a long time since I first saw it so the details are a bit fuzzy, but it just didn’t work. I remember more of the third sequel, Wicked Prayer, but I kind of wish I didn’t. Again, guy, girl, tragic death, etc. For me, it was just a mess. I think they tried too hard or maybe they didn’t try enough and just banked on the cult status of the name to get people to watch. It’s sad in that it had a pretty decent cast.

On December 14, 2008, it was announced that a “reinvention” of The Crow was in the works. I’m not sure what needs reinventing since each story is a new character every time, but that’s Hollywood I guess. But the following statement makes me nervous. "The original 1994 Crow film holds a special place in my heart. The current film is a 'reinvention' of James O'Barr's graphic novel for the 21st century. We're thrilled to have teamed with director Javier GutiĆ©rrez and screenwriter Jesse Wigutow on this story, which remains true to the core of Eric Draven's plight for revenge. Giving too much away wouldn't be any fun. 'Disorder, chaos, anarchy — now that's fun!'" This was said by the Current Producer, Edward R. Pressman. It has been through a few different directors and lead actors with more being thrown in the mix.

Without actually seeing or hearing anything concrete about the latest film, I can’t simply write it off. Not yet anyway. There is still a chance it could be good. I have my doubts, but it’s possible. I just wish they would let Eric Draven rest in peace. There are other tales to tell. And not all of them have to be about men either.

Thursday, December 13, 2012

A love and meh relationship with J. J. Abrams

Usually I am either a fan of someone or I just don’t bother with him or her at all. Although sometimes some people just annoy me for whatever reason, but those are other stories.

It seems I either love something J.J Abrams is involved with, or it does not speak to me at all. For instance, though it has some flaws, I thought his reboot of the Star Trek franchise was fantastic. On the other hand, I don’t see what the big deal was with Cloverfield. Okay, so I was one of the few who got a little nausea watching it, but that had more to do with the hand held footage thing. The movie itself didn’t really leave much of an impression on me. Then there was Super 8, which was fantastic. It had the feel of the movies from my youth that I still love like Stand By Me. Not as good as Stand By Me, but still pretty dam good and you don’t get many movies like this anymore.

The only TV series of his that I am really a fan of is Fringe. Ironically, I’m one of the few who are fans, but at least it got a final season to wrap things up. Alias never real interested me and I couldn’t get into Lost. Revolution didn’t do much for me either. I never caught an episode of Undercovers, but neither did a lot of other people. Felicity, while not really my thing, but I have seen some of it and I thought it was pretty good. The same goes for Person of Interest.

It’s obvious that Abrams is a busy and talented guy. In spite of my opinion of some of his work, he is very productive and has made a very good name for himself.

Obviously, my opinion is in the minority when it comes to J. J. Abrams. While I am not a fan of all of his projects, there are a lot of people who are. And there is nothing wrong with that. You don’t have to like or dislike everything a person creates. You can be a fan of the art and not necessarily a fan of the artist. I am eagerly anticipating Star Trek Into Darkness. I have no doubts it will be as good as the fist.

Why we need to see more of Brandon Routh

Why we need to see more of Brandon Routh

I was originally going to title this with some sort of play on words of “A world without a Superman” but I couldn’t get it to work.

Anyway, my point is the guy needs more roles. The first time I saw him was in Superman Returns. Yes, it could have been better, but I thought he was excellent as Superman and as Clark Kent. It’s a shame the movie could not have been better because I believe he could have carried the franchise through at least one other movie.

His next role I saw was a bit of a surprise. He was the boyfriend of a gay porn star played by Justin Long in Zack And Miri Make a Porno. It was not much of a role, but I thought it was funny to see him go from superman to that and I had to give him credit for it. For me, his biggest impression was made in Scott Pilgrim vs. The World. I guess if you need someone to play a douchbag, vegan bass player with Superman type powers, why not get a guy who actually  played Superman. And Brandon Routh did it well. He was funny in the roll. To bad most people didn’t see the flick. A lot of people also didn’t see Dylan Dog in which he played a paranormal investigator and cop/intermediary of the various undead and monster factions. It was pretty good and could have been better had it a bigger budget. And he proved again that he can do action and comedy.

While I am sure there are other Brandon Routh projects out there that I have not seen, there is another recent one that I did see and not a lot of people gave a chance. In the recently canceled TV series, Partners, Routh played Wyatt, former Mennonite nurse love interest of Louis, who was brilliantly acted by Michael Urie. Where Urii was the sort of typical flamboyant gay man, Routh was the straight man. Straight as in serious. It was an interesting and I thought successful combination. They played off each other very well. Unfortunately CBS axed the series and all but denies it ever existed.

So the guy is no stranger to the geek word. He has actually read and collected comics. He is also a fan of and plays World Of Warcraft. He has also shown a knack for comedy and has the physique and talent to pull off action. He obviously isn’t to shy to play gay if the roll is good. So why have we not seen him in more? I have no clue. He surprised me a lot in the rolls he has chosen and in my view, they were good choices for him. But maybe that is the problem. His choices in rolls may not be typical enough for a leading man to warrant the kind of attention to get more starring rolls. Pure speculation of course. But I do think if he were given more chances to impress, he would impress a whole lot more people.

What to expect from An Unexpected Journey

I, like many people, was surprised when news broke that The Hobbit was being split into three films. I figured two would be plenty to cover the bases and I got worried when a third was announced. But upon hearing the reason for the change (other than one more movie = one more box office round to grab our cash) I think I am feeling slightly better.

If you have read the book or saw the 1977 The Hobbit animated TV special, you’ll note that Gandalf does not hang around much. He sets the whole adventure in motion and mysteriously pops up to save Bilbo and the dwarves at different points, but for the most part, he is off conducting business that we are not aware of. Well, with three films, we get Bilbo’s adventure as well as find out just what The Grey Wizard was up to that whole time. We also get to see the epic Battle of Five Armies, which should do well to satiate our cravings for fantasy being on fantasy being violence.

Another thing worth noting will be the difference in tone between The Hobbit and The Lord Of The Rings. The Hobbit is a lighter themed story. It is more of a kid’s book after all. Where The Fellowship Of The Ring was on a mission to essentially stop the end of the world, The Hobbit is about a group of dwarves out to steal back treasure from a dragon. The stakes are still death, but the end goal is monetary. But the world does have a stake in the dwarfs’ mission. You could say that the world of The Hobbit is in the mist of a Cold War between the light and the dark and The Lord Of the Rings was World War III. Gandalf helped the dwarves so that when Sauran called his forces together in LOTR (Lord Of The Rings), he would not have a dragon at his disposal. Gandalf was also dealing with the Sauran situation during The Hobbit, which is why he did not stick around for the whole journey.

Some early reviews have complained about the pacing being too slow and the High Frame Rate (HFR) version making things seem too artificial and even making a few people nauseous. But other appear to really enjoy the film. It’s not like we put the LOTR trilogy on to high of a pedestal to enjoy more, right? We shall see, but I expect to enjoy the ride.