Friday, August 29, 2008

"Preacher" dead at HBO

According to Mark Steven Johnson, the director of Daredevil and Ghost Rider who was attached to developing Preacher for HBO, the project is officially dead.

Johnson had this to say:

We were budgeting and everything and it was getting really close to going. But the new head of HBO felt it was just too dark and too violent and too controversial. Which, of course, is kind of the point!

No shit. He continues:

It was a very faithful adaptation of the first few books, nearly word for word. They offered me the chance to redevelop it but I refused. I've learned my lesson on that front and I won't do it again. So I'm afraid it's dead at HBO.

While it is sad that the project won't move ahead at the network (HBO was probably the only place where it would have worked), I'm not sure the man who made Ghost Rider inspires all that much confidence anyway. I do admire his integrity in refusing to redevelop it, though. That was classy.

Read the article here.

Tuesday, August 26, 2008

The Overlooked Awards - Part 2

In my second installment of the Overlooked Awards, I present an actor who is enjoyable every single time I've seen him. The man is a fellow Canadian, which automatically qualifies him as underrated, but he's also beloved by critics, the fanboys, and Mrs. Nerdlinger, who thinks he's dishy.

I'm talking about Nathan Fillion.

Fillion, for those of you out there who don't know him, is most famous for his protrayal of Captain Mal Reynolds on Joss Whedon's defunct TV series Firefly and its big screen sequel, Serenity.

He got his initial break playing the other Pvt. Ryan in a great scene in Saving Private Ryan, and parlayed that into a regular role on Two Guys and a Girl, a sitcom co-starring fellow Canuck Ryan Reynolds.

Then came Firefly, with its devoted fan following and shabby treatment by Fox (they aired episodes out of order, with little fanfare or faith before finally canceling it after 11 episodes). I'm not going to recap the show, but it was decidedly original, and Fillion's portrayal of Reynolds, a cocky roguish smuggler with a haunted past and guarded toughness, was certainly iconic. The show was so successful upon its DVD release, that it got the feaure film greenlit.

From there, Fillion gave another assured performance as the "big bad" in Buffy the Vampire Slayer's final season. He made some more guest appearances on some TV shows, notably Lost. An intriguing TV series called Drive premiered as essentially a vehicle for him, but was cancelled by Fox after six episodes. While Drive wasn't perfect, it was interesting, and there was a campaign to save it, however futile. Its quick cancellation threw light on viewers' growing dissatisfaction with networks that debuted series and then cancelled them without giving them a chance or resolving any storytelling points.

Then he appeared in two films that made the critics sit up and take notice. The first was Slither, a small, tongue-in-cheek horror film with heart in which Fillion played a heroic, if a little goofy, small town sherriff. In Waitress, he showed his quality as a romatic lead as Keri Russell's love interest. Both were well-received by critics, with Fillion himself being singled out for his ease at handling leading man roles with charm.

Most recently, he has completed a multi-episode turn on Desperate Housewives, which was almost enough to get me to watch that show. He is also part of the mega-successful internet series Dr. Horrible's Sing-Along Blog, created by Joss Whedon. But the big news comes with the announcement of Castle, a new mystery series airing this fall about a mystery novelist who consults with the NYPD.

Hey, it's not Fox, so maybe this show will have a chance! And Fillion may get to be as big a star as he deserves.

Sci-Fi Tech That Will Kill Us All (3)

This terrifying installment comes to me courtesy of one of my oldest friends, whom I shall call Newman, and is incredibly freaky.

The CTO of Intel, Justin Rattner, delivered the keynote address at last week's Intel Developer Forum. During the address, he talked about the possibilty of creating intelligent robots capable of changing their shape.

Intel is creating fucking Transformers. And while I hope that that they will be as wise and cool as Optimus Prime, let's face it, they'll probably be as evil as Megatron. Or as annoying as Starscream.

From the address:

What if those machines had a small amount of intelligence, and they could assemble themselves into various shapes and were capable of movement or locomotion? If you had enough of them, you could create arbitrary shapes and have the assembly of machines that could take on any form and move in arbitrary ways.

The article goes on to mention that that these robots would be about the size of gain of sand. So picture this:

But tiny and capable of hiding in your nooks and crannies.

Justin Rattner, you are a bad haircut, a lame accent and a cat away from becoming a James Bond villain.

Kevin Smith sees "Watchmen" & "Star Trek"...becomes luckiest dick and fart joke teller alive

As reported by Entertainment Weekly last week, writer/director Kevin Smith has purportedly seen a rough cut of Watchmen, calling it "fucking astounding" on his MySpace page.

He goes on:

The Non-Disclosure Agreement I signed prevents me from saying much, but I can spout the following with complete joygasmic enthusiasm: Snyder and Co. have pulled it off. Remember that feeling of watching Sin City on the big screen and being blown away by what a faithful translation of the source material it was, in terms of both content and visuals? Triple that, and you’ll come close to watching Watchmen.

That's quite a good review......sort of. I mean it says that it's faithful, which is good, but it doesn't really go beyond the geek factor. Thankfully, EW picked up on this and pressed the autuer of films referencing snowballing for more insightful commentary.

My God, the flick is amazing. Anything more and I start getting phone calls.

Well, while appearing on KROQ’s Kevin and Bean show on Aug. 22nd, Smith revealed that he's also seen a rough cut of a certain crew boldly going where no man has gone before.


Host: So thumbs up on The Watchmen, what else you got?

Smith: I saw a movie last night that I cannot talk about.

Host: Was it good?

Smith: It was phenomenal.

Host: Any stars, any break out stars, and do they trek?

Smith: The stars absolutely trek in this film. It is fantastic. Anybody who was worried doesn’t need to be worried–about this film I cannot talk about…It was in very capable hands. The director did a phenomenal job–the director and his crew. Top notch cast and the guy that plays the lead is an instant star. That dude is going to be so famous. He is so wonderful. He picked up a role that I would say is pretty challenging for someone to step into the shoes of, because it is a role that has been played before many times by the same guy.

Host: How do you out Shatner, Shatner?

Smith: I don’t know what you are talking about.

Host: I was just saying that as an expression.

Smith: Yes, absolutely, in a world of expressions, I would agree with that…I am so not good with this game, you are going to bury me man.

Host: We had you on before The Dark Knight and I remember asking you if you could direct a movie like Dark Knight and you said ‘hell no’ it was so far out of your sphere…but I bring that up to preface this. Let’s say a franchise like Star Trek, not that you have seen the movie or we are talking about the movie, but we are talking about it for example. That is something that is so dangerous to attempt. Is that the kind of project you would like to do? Would you like to be the guy who gets to do a movie like that?

Smith: I would not like to be the guy. In the case of something like Star Trek, it would take a really insanely talented filmmaker–storyteller. Like in the case of Star Trek, JJ Abrams. So leave it to the people who are best equipped for it. I am just the guy who should be watching those movies.

Friday, August 22, 2008

The Overlooked Awards - Part 1

Here's the first installment of what I call "The Overlooked Awards". In these posts, I'll be giving a shout out to the overlooked, underrated and underappreciated, be it in film, comics, tv or music.

For the inaugural post, I have selected NewsRadio.

NewsRadio was a sitcom that ran on NBC from 1995 - 1999. Created by Paul Simms, who was a former Letterman and Larry Sanders Show writer, the series was set at Manhattan's WNYX radio station. The show began with the arrival of new news director Dave Nelson (Dave Foley), who finds that he must contend with an assortment of odd and eccentric staff members and a decidely unique station owner.

First off, the show had one of the best ensemble casts for a sitcom since The Mary Tyler Moore Show. In addition to former Kid in the Hall Dave Foley, the series also starred Stephen Root, Andy Dick, Joe Rogan, Vicki Lewis, Maura Tierney, Khandi Alexander and Phil Hartman. Combining physical humour, sight gags and witty dialogue with a touch of absurdism, a fast pace and numerous pop culture references, the show created one of the most seamless and classy half hours of comedy seen in the 1990s.

All right, it wasn't as innovative as Seinfeld, as hip as Friends or as safely appealing as Home Improvement, but it was somehow effortlessly hysterical. This was largely due to its stellar cast, which worked together in an almost magical way, without ego or grandstanding.

The writing was top notch as well, with the humour being always sharp and vital, never complacent or familiar. The episodes could veer from standard sitcom hijinks to fantasy episodes set in space or on the Titantic, to thinly veiled attacks on the network that produced the show, to stream of conciousness dream episodes.

Both of these factors combined to create a scrappy underdog of a show. You get the sense that they did whatever they wanted because they knew very few people were watching. And that gave them freedom. The death of undisputed comedic genius Phil Hartman severly hurt the show, and even with Jon Lovitz joining the cast, the ensemble was never quite the same. Still, its final season remained hilarious, and it went out as class act all the way.

Here's some great quotes:

Bill (Phil Hartman): You're not in Wisconsin, Dave. The big story isn't about a cow wandering into the town square.
Dave: You know, I worked in Milwaukee, it's a city with a population of a million people.
Bill: So, there must have been a lot of hub-bub when that cow got loose.

Dave: I just had no idea that the (Nicotine) Patch could have side effects.
Bill: And I had no idea you're only supposed to wear one at a time.
Dave: How many were you wearing?
Bill: Fifteen, sixteen. I sort of stuck them all around my waist like a belt.

Jimmy (Stephen Root): You think if Hunchback of Notre Dame was running a deficit, Micky Mouse would jump in and bail him out?
Dave: What about Scrooge McDuck? He's the one with all the money.
Jimmy: Nah, ducks hate hunchbacks.

Dave: Normally at a time like this I'd ask you for advice, and you'd say something that would make no sense at all, but somehow it would all fit together. Like, I would tell you, "Sir, I have a problem," and you'd say, "Well, what is it?" and I'd say, "Well, sir, Lisa wants to have a baby, but she doesn't want to get married," and you'd say "Dave, why milk the cow when you have a fridge full of steaks?" And I'd say, "Sir, that makes no sense," and you'd say, "Well, it sure made sense when that guy Chuck Connors said it in that movie Chinatown," and I'd say, "Sir, Chuck Connors wasn't in Chinatown," and you'd say, "Dave, if I wanted to have this conversation I'd have hired that guy Siskel Ebert to do your job," and I'd say, "Sir, Siskel and Ebert are two people," and you'd say, "Dave, just because the man is fat is no reason to make fun of him."

Beth (Vicki Lewis): Matthew, I think you mispronounced that guy's name a few times.
Matthew (And Dick): What, it's uh, Joey Buttafu-
Dave: No it isn't Matthew! It's, uh, Buttafuoco. Butta-foo-co.
Matthew: What did I say?
Dave: Well Matthew, of all the possible mispronounciations of that name, you seemed to have stumbled on absolutely the worst one.

Warner Bros. Wises Up....

For those of you that don't know already, the company called Time Warner owns a lot of shit. Time for one. And Warner Bros. And about, oh, a fuckillion other holdings and companies, including a little publishing empire called DC Comics.

They've owned DC for loooong time, which explains why almost every flick based on a DC comic has been made, licensed or distributed by Warners. The odd thing, for a lot of comic fans, is how little Warners has really exploited owning the film rights to Batman, Superman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, the Flash, Aquaman, etc. There have been attempts to do a Batman/Superman film for years, and the early 90s attempts to relaunch the Superman franchise usually involved cameos from other DCU characters. There's been a couple references in the Batman films of the 90s to Metropolis and whatnot. Still, there was never a serious attempt to create an onscreen DC Universe; a film version of the way the comic books operate, where everyone knows each other and they often interact.

Then Marvel got in the game. When Marvel started re-acquiring their properties and began making movies with their own money, they got the idea to actively replicate their comic universe on film. Iron Man was their toe dipping into the water. Almost every review talked about the clip at the film's end featuring Sam Jackson as Col. Nick Fury, meeting with Tony Stark to discuss "the Avengers Initiative". The buzz was huge in the comic world. In their next film The Incredible Hulk, Tony Stark meets with Gen. Ross and talks about a little project he's working on. The weapons in Hulk come from Stark Industires. Hulk's bad guy Emil Blonsky is augmented through a derivation of the serum that created Capt. America, whose shield hangs in Tony Stark's lab in Iron Man. Soon after this, Marvel announced a sweeping plan to adapt Ant-Man, Thor and Captain America to film audiences, and further announced their intention to do an Avengers film featuring them alongside Iron Man and the Hulk.

Warners seemed behind the curve. Sure, they had the new Batman franchise up and running, with The Dark Knight building great buzz, but otherwise they seemed to have badly fumbled. Superman Returns didn't connect with audiences. Their attempts to bring Wonder Woman, the Flash and Green Lantern to the big screen had been mired in development hell for years. The story of George Miller's attempt to make a Justice League film with pretty, but unknown, actors and no connection to established franchises seemed to get more ill-advised and reviled with each new development. It seemed to many in the comic world that Warners did not have a lot of respect nor a clear vision for what most comic fans regarded as a veritable license to print money, if handled right.

Then The Dark Knight was released. And it made money. A lot of money. And the Watchmen trailer attached to it generated a crazy amount of excitement.

Now, according to Newsarama, they want to relaunch Superman. That's right, there will be little to no connection between the next Superman film and Superman Returns. Warners is going for a blank slate.

Also, according to Variety, expect to see Warners' plan for revamping how their DC properties are developed and brought to the screen, with an eye towards quality. No doubt, they want to follow Marvel's lead and begin creating a more unified universe for the DC characters.

For DC fans, it's about time. And for comic book fans in general, it could become a golden age of comic book movies, where the source material is finally treated with the respect it deserves.

RIP, NBC... has a fantastic article up right now called Fitting Network TV for a Toe Tag. It's both funny, true and contains some of the best ideas on how TV as an industry is changing and will have to adapt to the way we consume media.

Seriously, it's a great article. As a sample, here's a quote from the section dealing with how the major networks, in trying to be all things to all people, are losing out to specialty cable networks with niche programming. It refers to Steve Koonin, Turner Networks president, presenting his fall line-up for the year and totally schooling the four major networks:

"Koonin was brilliant," says Brian Terkelsen, of the brand consultancy MediaVest. "In my opinion, that was the turning point. We'll all look back and say the one riff that he did onstage that week shifted everything for cable and broadcasting. What he did was, he got up there and said, 'If I were to tell you the story of two networks, and one had a talking car and a steroid in a unitard who was beating up an average guy in a game show, and the other had an Academy Award-winning actress in her second season and a Golden Globe winner in her fourth season, which would you think was which?'" Koonin then unveiled slides of the cheesy shows—NBC's Knight Rider and American Gladiators—and the classy ones: TNT’s Saving Grace and The Closer. Point made, brutally. "If anybody in the room didn't think, 'Holy shit! It's all changed,'" Terkelsen says, "they’re morons."


Tuesday, August 19, 2008

Who Watches the Watchmen?......Maybe nobody!

According to a Variety article, the future of the feature film adaptation of Watchmen is in doubt due to a lawsuit.

Back in February, 20th Century fox filed a lawsuit against Warner Bros, alleging that Fox never ceded distribution rights on the property from when it tried to make a film version in the early 1990s. The judge in the suit recently denied Warners' motion to dismiss the lawsuit, which could potentially signal a serious blow to the film.

According to the article:

Surprisingly, Fox said it would rather see the film killed instead of collecting a percentage of the box office.

"When you have copyright infringement, there are some damages you never recover," said a source close to the litigation.

Fox spent more than $1 million developing Watchmen but had not previously taken legal action against the project, which had been in development at Paramount several years ago.

WTF? You'd rather see the film shelved? Here's why I think something is definitely fishy here. First off, Warners should have paid the turnaround fee that they were obligated to pay way back when. Actually, according to the article, Larry Gorden, one of the producers, should have paid it. So, yeah, Warners should pony up some cash. But here's the thing, why hasn't Fox tried to settle this before? As the above quote makes clear, Watchmen has bounced around a few studios since 1990. It even went into pre-production under director Paul Greengrass at Paramount, like six months before Warners got a hold of it.

So, Fox waits until the movie is in the can, mid-way through post-production with a hard release date before filing suit? That's just a shitty thing to do. And then to threaten to block releasing it at all, over a piddling little thing like a turnaround deal? Take your cut of the gross, like Warners will undoubtedly offer you, and shut up.

Interview with Aaron Sorkin

Here's a link to a great interview with Aaron Sorkin done by GQ.

It's kind of vintage Sorkin; witty, substantive, idealistic and arrogant, all at the same time. A Few Good Men was a great play and a really good film. I loved Sports Night and The West Wing is perhaps my favourite television series ever. Studio 60 was a mess, but it had flashes of brilliance, though those flashes were brief. Charlie Wilson's War was a terrific script let down by the direction and a miscast Julia Roberts.

So I hope that he bounces back. It sounds like he's learned some lessons. Still, I'd rather have mediocre Sorkin than a lot of other people's best stuff.

Download the Doctor.....if you're American.

As reported on, Doctor Who is now available through iTunes. The new series has been available for download for some time now, but BBC is now adding several classic serials from the 60s, 70s and 80s for fans to pay for (when previously, they stole them for stealing implies).

Yes, the downloads cost $1.99 US, but the quality of these classic serials, some of which are not released on DVD, will undoubtedly be better than bootleg downloads out there on the interwebs.

The downside......Canadian iTunes apparently does NOT have them available. So, yeah, fuck you Apple. See, this irritates the piss out of me. I tried to watch some of the streaming episodes of the remastered Star Trek episodes on, but it's not available in Canada. Hey, we're not Algiers here. We get the same fricking TV as you! Why are we excluded from your interwebs? This only reinforces the peoples' desire to remain pirates. That and the eyepatches.

It's either the fault of some dopey US legislation, or the fault of some retarded Candadian law. Either way. Boo, iTunes. Booo.

Thursday, August 14, 2008

For Scofe: Black and Showalter get new show

My buddy Scofe is a massive fan of the show Stella. He keeps trying to get me into it, but frankly, I just don't get it. Still, news is news in the world of nerdy concerns, and these guys fit:

According to the Hollywood Reporter, Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter are set to film a new pilot for Comedy Central called Michael and Michael Have Issues. They've added Josh Pais to the cast. From the article:

[The show]is a half-hour project with segments addressing issues that the two men have with themselves, each other and the world at large. Pais plays Jim Biederman, the executive producer for the duo's show within a show. The character takes the name from an actual exec producer on the Comedy Central project.

No word on why fellow Stella and The State member David Wain is not a part of this.

Hey, Stiller - Let's Get Retarded in Here!

Okay, so occasionally something will happen in the U.S. that reminds me that they are a nation of people so conservative and politically correct as to approach, well, retardation.

There is a whole whack of controversy over the use of the word "retard" in Tropic Thunder. That's right, in a movie where a white actor dyes his skin to play an African-American man, that's the controversial part. Not a white blackface.

I haven't yet seen the flick (like a lot of the people protesting, incidentally) but I'm willing to bet all the money in my pocket the use of the word retard is not intended to make fun of the mentally challenged, but is used to make fun of self-absorbed actors and Hollywood in general, like everything else in the movie.

So, I guess America, as a nation, is saying, "Hey! Using possibly offensive language, even in jest or to make a satirical point, is never okay and should always be stopped. Unless it's about gay people. In that case, go to town.............fags."

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Star Trek goes online......Nerds Lose Final Connection with Outside World

This is pretty old news, as far as gaming news goes, but just recently it was announced that the long-gestating Star Trek MMORPG is almost ready to boldly go active.

From the official website, here's a description of what the experience will be like:

Star Trek® Online is a massively multiplayer online role-playing game set in the Star Trek universe. Star Trek Online will be developed for both console and PC formats. Game features will include customizable ships and characters from the Klingon Empire and United Federation of Planets, ground, space and shipboard gameplay and unique options for player-generated content.

If they manage to deliver on all the potential of this game, it could make Warcraft and Age of Conan look like Super Mario Bros.

I will not be venturing into this world. You know why? Because if any fanbase out there can reach an intolerable level of snootiness, Trekkers are it. The first time I improperly conjugated a Klingon verb or miscalculated my antimatter ratio, I'd be cut to pieces by someone with the handle of CaptJLPicard759. My ego could not take that.

UPDATED: Radiohead Chokes for Pahalniuk

According to Pitchfork, Radiohead has gone from contributing a song to the end of Clark Gregg's film adaptation of Choke to actually composing the entire score. This is coming from an interview given by the writer of the novel, Chuck Pahalniuk, to BBC 6 Music.

According to the Fight Club author:

Clark Gregg...knew that I'd written Choke while listening to Pablo Honey, with 'Creep', over and over and over. So Clark got Radiohead to contribute a song; to write a song for the very end of the movie, the final credits. Apparently Radiohead liked the movie so much, they've written the score, most of the ambient music throughout it. So it's 'Choke-- with the music of Radiohead'.

I've always thought that they would be really great at creating ambient scores for weird little movies like this. See There Will Be Blood for confirmation of their mad scoring skills. I was excited to see this before, but now it's even cooler.

UPDATE: Well, it appears that this is a load of bullshit. Pahalniuk was talking out of his ass, which I'm unsurprised about, and the score will NOT be done by the band. In fact, the song they contributed isn't even new, but is from their latest album In Rainbows, and is called Reckoner. It's an awesome song anyway.

Tuesday, August 12, 2008

Star Trek &'s complicated

Okay, let me be up front with you all.......Star Trek and I have a complicated relationship. As this is a site celebrating nerdiness, you kind had to expect I'd go here sooner or later.

Not to put too fine a point on it, but Star Trek broke my nerd cherry. And not to worry, I'm rapidly leaving that poorly chosen image behind. When I was a kid, Saturday night was the only night where we didn't eat dinner as a family around the dinner table. On Saturdays, my dad would cook his homemade pizza (so good it's like crack) and the family would sit down to watch Hockey Night in Canada.

But not the Nerdlinger. You see, I hate hockey. Which is a big thing to admit if you're a Canadian male. But I always have, and I suppose I always will. So, what did I get to watch? I watched Star Trek. I loved it. It was my favourite show ever. Capt. Kirk was my hero, followed closely by Spock. I read the novels, I had posters and action figures and a model of the Enterprise that my dad and I put together. I bought episodes on videotape. I watched the cartoon show on videotape. I saw every movie. I read the comic books. And yes, I went to a couple of conventions, the first being a one-room affair in the basement of a local library.

Wrath of Khan blew my mind when I saw it in the theatre. From then on, I devoured each flick as it came out. I must have seen The Voyage Home four times in the theatre. The Final Frontier shook the faith, but The Undiscovered Country restored it.

Then came Next Generation. While I loved it, it did feel radically different than the original series. I still watched it religiously. I got a framed cross section of the Enterprise-D that stayed on the wall in our rec room for years. When it went off the air, I was sad. Still, I felt something was missing.

DS9 and Voyager - same thing. Something was missing. I tried to get into them, but I never really watched more than a handful of episodes. By the time Enterprise came along, I regarded the franchise with as much eye-rolling as a non-Trekkie (Trekker.....whatever). It was lame, slightly silly and self-important. Even The Next Generation has not aged well to me, and I find myself switching off when stumbling across it in reruns.

What was it? Why had Star Trek and I soured on each other? The answer came to me only recently, with the smattering of rumours and materials leaking from the new film version directed by JJ Abrams.

Gene Roddenberry's vision of the future came to overwhelm the stories. His optimistic vision of what humanity would one day become actually became a stumbling block to successful writing. In the original series, Roddenberry hadn't allowed this to happen yet. It's hard to feel self-important when your show keeps almost getting cancelled. Yes, his vision was present, but it was still flexible enough to allow for tension. It was as if future humanity had created an ideal society in theory, but were still struggling to live up to those ideals. Case in point, the great Balance of Terror episode where the Enterprise crew sneaks their first look at a Romulan and are stunned to see their resemblance to their first officer, which prompts some of the crew to suspect Spock of being a spy.

Kirk was always somewhat arrogant and impulsive, willing to take a chance at the drop of a hat. How many times was he taken to task by Bones? Spock had to deal with humans and they with him. He and Bones would clash in a robust, full-blooded, honest manner that was completely absent from the newer series.

In the Next Gen world, intolerance and conflict like that wouldn't exist. No one was ever really mean or mistrustful of each other. Everyone had only the best intentions, without arrogance or flaws. The crew could not truly argue or have any real dramatic conflict, because by that point, Roddenberry's vision of the future was legendary and inviolate.

This "nice factor" would get mitigated over time once Rodenberry passed. DS9, Star Trek's ugly stepchild, became marginalized in the face of Voyager and therefore got darker and more interesting. Voyager started off darker, with half the crew being basically terrorists, but that aspect was completely abandoned and never honestly explored with any real conflict. Enterprise tried to be more rough and ready, but did so by completely ignoring previously established continuity, which was stupid, since Star Trek fans practically invented the idea of a television show having a continuity at all! They tried experimenting with injecting conflict, but this now felt forced and manufactured.

On another note, the whole idea of space being a frontier was lost. A frontier implies a dangerous unknowable journey, without security or familiarity or rules. A place where only ingenuity and courage and determination will win the day. Wrath of Khan captured this; it's the story of a crazy genius with a grudge who tracks down a man for vengeance and along the way somehow acquires a weapon of mass destruction. And then he uses it.

So, when Enterprise ended, I really though that the only way for Trek to continue would be to upset the apple cart. Kick out everything we know about the franchise, either by zooming far ahead into its future, or rebooting it with a modern sensibility.

Enter Abrams and co.

The poster at the very top features (clockwise) Eric Bana as the Romluan villain Nero, Zoe Saldana as Uhura, Chris Pine as Kirk and Zachary Quinto as Spock. The poster above features John Cho as Sulu, Simon Pegg as Scotty, Anton Yelchin as Chekhov and Karl Urban as McCoy.

What do I like? Well, it looks a little dangerous. It looks appropriately nostalgic, yes, and familiar, but not cozy. Not safe. It looks risky, and it's succeeded in making me fall in love with Trek again.

Image Search: Robots of the 50s

Yet another in my series the results of random Google image searches. Today's phrase was Robots of the 50s, so be prepared for cool looking robos accompanied by my irrational suspicion of all things robotic.

Here's the results:

Awesome. Just awesome. This succeeds in being nostalgic and fetishistic all at the same time. Granted, a real-life robot would probably be coldly calculating whether or not to serve the pretty female.....or destroy her.

Look, I know robots are designed to be physically stonger than us, but there's no need to make them anatomically superior to man as well! And seriously, does the thing need to be rocket powered? Oh......wait....he's supposed to be in a rocketcar? Ohhhhhhhhh. 'Cause it looks like that's his....okay, moving on.

While these may be the most simplistic robot costumes ever built (they're made of cardboard, for the love of Mike), they are so retro awesome I had to include them. They remind me of the Ghostbusters proton pack my dad made for me one Halloween that was comprised of an empty Old Dutch potato chips box, some yellow nylon rope, a cardboard tube and lots of black electrical tape. I loved that thing.

Nuclear power is our friend, kiddies! Duck and cover!

That's right! Robots are evil! And they need Las Vegas showgirls! It's in Revelations, people!

First pic of Gyllenhaal as Dude of Persia

Okay, the first pic of Jake Gyllenhaal as the titular Prince of Persia is out.....and.........let's just say it's neither princely nor Persian.

Okay, first off, when you've got an established property like Prince of Persia, you'd think you could cast a guy who's within hooting distance of being Persian? Jake somehow manages to combine the qualities of a Venice beach surfer...

...with Captain Caveman

Ironically, the surfer dude I posted looks more Persian than Jake will ever look.

Friday, August 8, 2008

10 Genre Properties Begging to Be Adapted - Part 2

I went through the first five in my previous post, now here are the final five.

5 - The Walking Dead - A grim, uncompromising and brutal story about a small band of people struggling to survive in world decimated by zombies, Robert Kirman's comic series is an engrossing endurance test. The zombies are merely the catalyst for this tale, which focuses on the survivors and their attempts to retain their humanity and morality in a world where all order and structure has completely broken down. No character, even the "heroic" lead Rick Grimes, comes away unscathed, as people commit compromise after compromise, leading them to cross moral lines in the name of survival.

Is it dark? Yes, sometimes unrelentingly so. And before you think of it as a typical zombie story; well it is and it isn't. Like the best zombie stories, The Walking Dead is far more about us than it is about monsters. So, I think it would make a great television series, but only on cable. HBO could really take this series and run with it. Like the comic, it could be black and white to minimize the excessive gore. Also like the comic, it could be compulsive stuff.

4 - Preacher - This property also comes from the world of comics, and would also work best as an HBO series. It's been in development for about ten years, and the reason why it's experiencing trouble will soon become apparent.

Preacher tells the story of Jesse Custer, a reverend in a small Texas town struggling with an ever-growing sense of cynicism and disgust for his faith. Matters are not helped when the offspring of a tryst between an angel and a demon escapes from its prison in heaven and bonds with a human soul, namely Custer's. Custer reunites with his estranged girlfriend Tulip O'Hare, who is now a hitwoman and is traveling with an Irish vampire named Cassidy. Together, they set off to find God, who Custer discovers is a dysfunctional figure who has abandoned humanity whom he only created to satisfy his own sense of self.

Blasphemous, hilarious and outrageously offensive to pretty much everyone, Preacher has long been a favorite amongst fans for its sheer balls to the wall adherence to its purpose; to deflate any aspect of modern American society that is perceived as sacred. It would be television unlike anything seen on TV and would be controversial in the extreme. It would also be genius.

3 - Wonder Woman - Okay, Matrix producer Joel Silver has been in charge of bringing the Amazon to the screen for over a decade now, and pretty much nothing has happened. They got Joss Whedon from Buffy to work on the project, which was pretty much the best fit anyone could have asked for, and even his stab at the character didn't satisfy Silver. It's time to get the option back to DC and start over. With this age of comic movies in full swing, it's pretty lame that the single largest female icon in comics doesn't have her own franchise. She's got the strength of Superman, and the kick-ass, take no prisoners' attitude of Batman. She needs to be a priority.

2 - Dragonlance - Margaret Weis and Tracy Hickman's fantasy novels have sold, oh, a bajillion copies since the initial tilogy was published in 1984. They're sort of the Stargate of the fantasy world; they've got their fans but they are still considered hugely nerdy, but they're perfectly enjoyable and great in their own way. It was originally created to tie in with the Dungeons & Dragons role-playing game, and is set in a similar sword and sorcery type of world. What connected with readers was the fact that the story distilled all of the archetypes of the genre, but in a soap operatic, relatable tone. Where Lord of the Rings feels Shakespearean in the slightly stiff tone of its narrative and characters, Dragonlance dealt with the interpersonal relationships of its characters in a more modern, down to earth way. Readers loved the melodrama, even if the dialogue was often cheesy and cliched.

So, why is it number 2 on our list? For all its faults, the first trilogy of Dragonlance would make three great movies. The story takes place on world called Krynn, during a dark period of their history when an evil god has marshalled her forces to take over the planet. Dragons, long thought extinct, return to wreak havoc. Six outcast adventurers find themselves embroiled in the conflict, and the trilogy follows them. Each of the six have their own conflicts and demons to overcome during the course of the story, which also features great set pieces such as battles with Dragons, epic armies, and undead soldiers. But the personal stories give the series its heart.

With some judicious adaptation done by a solid screenwriter, coupled with a director comfortable with epic battles and cgi wizardry, it's a licence to print money. But it would be expensive as hell. Please, please, please, do not judge by the truly interminable animated film that was recently released, which is diabolically bad.

1 - Green Lantern - I once heard that Jack Black was in line to play this icon from DC comics, which is an idea so bad it can only have originated in Hollywood. Basically, Green Lantern tells the story of Hal Jordan, a test pilot who one day is transported by green energy to the crash site of an alien ship, where he is told by its dying pilot that he has been selected to replace him in the Green Lantern Corps, an intergalactic organization of policemen. Yeah, it's a cop in space. Jordan is given a ring that can create any stucture he can imagine. Armed with this, he is assigned to patrol a space sector.

Cops in space. Cool idea. So basically, it's Superman meets Iron Man meets Star Trek. There would be weird alien creatures, super space battles and cool special effects. It would be a superhero story with totally different feel than the rest of the movies we've seen, which have all been resolutely earth-bound.

So there you have it. Anyone agree? Violently disagree? Care in the slightest?

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Scientists Find Weird-Ass Chemical on Mars

According to this article, NASA has found evidence of a chemical substance in the Martian soil.

From the article:

NASA scientists said on Tuesday that the Phoenix Mars Lander has detected the apparent presence of a chemically reactive salt called perchlorate in the Martian soil. Perchlorate is a toxic material that's used in rocket fuel, but the scientists said its presence doesn't lessen the possibility that Mars has or once had some kind of life on it.

The article goes on to focus mainly on how the presence of perchlorate does not preclude the existence of life on Mars, which seems to skip right over the fact that Martian soil could possibly be used as rocket fuel. We should just rename that place "Chevron" and start trucking Martian rocket sand back here by the truckload.

Radiohead's "House of Cards" Video

Radiohead has a cool video up for their latest single House of Cards. You can view it here.

Apparently it was created without the use of cameras or lights. It used 3D plotting tech to collect information about the size and relative positioning of objects. Whatever. I prefer to think it was created using lasers and pixie dust.

Go here to create your own visualizations, after which you can upload the results here.

Radiohead. They are probably my favourite band, and they always seem to be ahead of the curve. If I went to a concert and Tom Yorke shot lasers from his eyes and the rest of the band flew in on jetpacks, I would not be surprised. It's like they're time travelers or something.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008

David Tennant makes his RSC debut as Hamlet....doesn't suck.

David Tennant, the star of the hugely successful Doctor Who, made his debut as Hamlet in the Royal Shakespeare Company production, and apparently does not suck (I had faith he wouldn't).

Tennant stars as the melancholy Dane, the mounting of which was part of the reason Doctor Who went on hiatus for 2009, with only four specials being produced.

Interestingly enough, Star Trek's Patrick Stewart co-stars in the dual role of Claudius and Hamlet's father. The production has had a tremendous amount of hype surrounding it, as Tennant is one of the biggest stars in England thanks to his bravura turn as the Doctor in the massively popular series.

Read the Times review.

On a related note, Doctor Who spin-off series Torchwood begins its second season this Friday, with a two-hour debut on Space: The Imagination Station (which I fucking hate typing).

It had aired last year on CBC, but the network declined to co-produce the second season, so it airs on Space this year. I sort of enjoyed the first season, but wasn't bowled over. Here's hoping the second year is an improvement.

10 Genre Properties Begging To Be Adapted - Part 1

Hollywood is remake crazy these days. To be fair, it does make perfect sense. Why create something new and original (hard) when you can take something that works already and slap it up on the screen (easier!). It doesn't always work out (case in point: The Wicker Man remake. Oy), but it seems like Hollywood has less trepidation when it comes to adapting a successful property.

So, below, I give you the properties that I believe need to be fast-tracked. Some are already in development but have stalled. Some have been badly adapted before but could work with the right vision. All could be great. Here are the first five:

10 - Starblazers / Space Battleship Yamato - Debuting in the 1970's, this animated series was one of the first introductions of serious anime to North American audiences. Sure, Astro Boy and Speed Racer had been around, but they were clearly kids' stuff. Starblazers was a serious space opera where more adult themes and violence combined with space battles to create something new.

The story takes place in a future where Earth is being bombarded with radioactive bombs from alien enemies. A probe is uncovered that contains plans to a method of faster-than-light travel, as well as a message from friendly aliens who claim to have a device that will cleanse Earth of the radiation now seeping into their underground cities. The crew of a new ship has only one year to get to this planet and back to save Earth.

So, it's got a clear plot, cool concepts and space battles. A new, live-action version of this show could be as grim and gritty as today's Battlestar Galactica, or it could simply be an epic adventure. Either way, done with modern special effects and filled with kick-ass space dogfights, this could be a great ride.

9 - The Puppet Masters - An early novel from sci-fi giant Robert A. Heinlein, the story sees secret agents facing off against a parasitic race of aliens that attach themselves to the back of humans, thereby controlling them. Full of cool ideas such as secret agents continually altering their physical appearances through surgery and communication devices actually implanted into the body, the novel is one of the early "alien possession" classics, beating The Body Snatchers by a couple of years.

Sure, it's dated now, but a good writer could revise some of the more out-moded ideas and create a creepy and thrilling action film. It's been adapted before, notably into a 1994 with Donald Sutherland, but the adaptations take liberties with the story that render it somewhat cliched and lacklustre. Play up the more creepy aspect of having giant slugs attached to our bodies, as well as futuristic secret agents, and you'll have something.

8 - Daredevil - the TV Show - Yeah, yeah, it was a movie with Ben Affleck, and yeah, it was terrible. You know why? Because Daredevil wouldn't work as a movie. What it would work as is a TV show.

See, the movie made a big deal about "getting" Daredevil, but all it did was get the surface stuff. That's when comic book movies don't work. It's not about fights and costumes and super villains. Well, it's not just about that. There's a central thematic concept to all of the greats, and for Daredevil it's all about a guy who is both a believer in the system (he's a lawyer), but who also goes out and defies it by inflicting huge levels of violence on criminals. Nice dichotomy. Throw in some good Catholic guilt, a willingness to cross the line into brutality and some man-whore tendencies, and you've got a compelling central character.

The series has long been one of Marvel's darkest, ever since Frank Miller put his stamp on it. Miller took the series away from standard one-off stories and turned it toward darker, longer arcs. He created the Elektra saga, had reporter Ben Urich discover and conceal Daredevil's identity, and filled in alter ego Matt Murdock's back story. He began the epic and personal rivalry between Daredevil and crime kingpin Wilson Fisk, culminating in the "Born Again" arc, where Fisk discovers his identity and totally destroys Matt Murdock's life, leaving him a homeless, babbling wreck.

Later creative teams have pushed the envelope even further, providing years of material for TV writers. Keep it as dark and adult as the book has long been, and you'll have a winner.

7 - Ubik - Philip K. Dick has long been a favourite of Hollywood. Blade Runner, Total Recall, Minority Report, and A Scanner Darkly are just four of the films based on his work. His work tends towards examinations of the nature of reality and identity, and how our perceptions can define or alter them. That usually has proven too heady for Hollywood, so they've rarely fully plumbed the depths as much as Dick did in his writing.

Ubik centers around two major concepts within a futuristic society. First, the newly dead or near dead are placed into a state called "half-life", where for a limited amount of years, their loved ones can continue to communicate with them. Second, the society is plagued by telepaths who perform terrorist acts, industrial espionage and the like, forcing the development of "anti-telepaths", people who can detect and block telepaths. When a company of anti-telepaths are called to the moon on a job, a bomb goes off, seemingly killing their CEO. However, the survivors soon begin to question whether or not they were killed instead, and whether the reality they perceive is real or a shared hallucination.

Complex and twisty, but could be a real mind-fuck of a movie if handled by someone like David Fincher.

6 -Film based on the works of HP Lovecraft - Remember when the first trailer for Cloverfield came out, and there was a ton of speculation about what exactly the movie was about? The best theory I heard was that it was a movie based on the Cthulhu Mythos created by HP Lovecraft. That theory was incredibly more interesting than the rather annoying monster movie it turned out to be.

Lovecraft wrote pulp horror stories in the 1920's. He created what is now termed as cosmic horror: a sub-genre that says that life in the largest sense cannot be grasped by human minds and that the universe at large is unknowably alien. His stories featured giant idiot-gods known as "The Great Old Ones" or "Elder Things"; gigantic hideous alien monstrosities with such power that they were completely unstoppable and unknowable.

While cool and all, stories depicting a basically impotent human race encountering god-like monsters leaves little opportunity for dramatic tension. Still, you can see pockets of his stuff appear in tons of places such as Hellboy, Evil Dead and the works of Stephen King. There are successful video games out there based on his stories, and he's long been a cult icon. Perhaps a movie where a tough private eye uncovers a dark cult that is attempting to raise one of these monsters would be good; full of chills and squishy sub-monsters. You'd have to cut out Lovecraft's rather distasteful racism, though.

See you soon for Part 2, and the final five!

Friday, August 1, 2008

Image Search: 1980s monsters

Yet another selection of the results from Random Google Image searches.

How awesome is it that this is the first result?

"Wolfman's got nards!"

I have no idea what this movie may be about, but I'm thinking that if your movie features 100 monsters, do you really want to single out "Cocktail Umbrella Monster" as the star of your promo material?

I could have gone my whole life without seeing the phrase "Boogeyman's Bulge", couldn't you?