Tuesday, March 31, 2009

RIP - Andy Hallett

Some sad news today, as Andy Hallett, the actor who portrayed lovable lounge-singer demon Lorne on four seasons of Angel, passed away for heart failure at the age of 33.

Apparently, Hallett had been battling heart disease for over five years, so while it's a good thing that his suffering is over, it's sad to see such a young man pass away.

Here's E! online's story on the matter.

And below you'll find a great scene of Lorne in action.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Where the Wild Things Are

Having read this book a few times to the Nerdlet, I'm pretty excited to see this trailer, which looks amazing. Spike Jonze is such an interesting filmmaker who doesn't make nearly enough movies as far as I'm concerned. Plus, I love the use of Arcade Fire in the trailer. Very cool song.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Bye-Bye, BSG...

After four years of wandering through the cosmos and reflecting modern society through an only slightly heightened lens, Battlestar Galactica ended its run last night. I was turned onto the show by my friend Scofe relatively early on; after the miniseries but before it became a critical darling. Over four years, I was often thrilled, sometimes challenged, and occasionally frustrated, but I remained engrossed throughout.

So, did the finale live up to the high standard the series set? While the high points of the finale easily matched any of the other high points in the show's history, there were some missteps that I wasn't so wild about. Spoilers follow, so consider yourself fairly warned.

First off, I loved that they wound up on prehistoric Earth. Great shout out to one of the original show's central concepts but done in a completely new way, with our Earth being the "second" Earth. Very cool. Then came the idea that everyone was going to forsake their tech and their old lives and live among prehistoric, pre-verbal humans as some sort of.......mentors, I guess. Breeding partners? Gods? Not really made clear. The thing that didn't work for me was that I had just spent four years watching this society turn on itself and argue and disagree at every point, and now they all just make one big decision to live like reallllly dedicated Survivor contestants for the rest of their lives. No one refuses? No one decides to hide a gun in their knapsack? No one keeps their wristwatch? This show was known as the anti-sci-fi show for the way it made issues more complex, and yet they go for a resolution that seems a little too pat, a little too free of complexity. Also, 38, 000 people dressed in synthetic fibres with buttons and snaps and plastic are walking around during a time when loincloths were haute coiture and there's no trace of them left? Surely we'd have dug up Chief Tyrol's belt buckle somewhere and gone WTF?

Next comes the spiritual stuff. Unless it was used in an allegorical or metaphorical way to comment on our own society, I have never cared one iota for any of the spiritual stuff on the show. To me, it smacked too much of every other sc-fi show's obsession with creating a slightly cheesy mythology, a la Star Trek, Babylon 5 and what have you. So, when Kara Thrace disappeared, apparently an agent of "God" since her resurrection, I felt a little gypped. Firstly, her whole thing doesn't make sense. She dies, and "God" resurrects her to lead the Colonials to Earth, right? She slowly has to go through a whole emotional journey to gain the inner strength to follow her calling, yadda, yadda, yadda. Well, if "God" was going to zap her away once she finished her task, why make her go through the journey at all? Why make her have to work so hard to make sense of the info her phantom dad was giving her? The only reason to make her do any of that is to make her grow as a person, which is kind of wasted when you zap her back into the afterlife or whatever. So why do it? To keep the audience interested and guessing. I believe it would have worked much better had she stayed, but was now completely untroubled by how she survived, or what she was. Because if she was simply an agent of "God", meant to accomplish a task and no more, then why make her uncertain at all? What does that teach any of the other Colonials? What does it teach her? Just seemed like they had no idea how to explain her resurrection, and wanted to inject some ambiguity. All of which is fine, but it felt forced and arbitrary to me.

Still, the vast majority of the finale I absolutely loved, don't get me wrong. Those couple of things I didn't like will always bug me a little, but there was so much more to enjoy. One of my favourite moments had to be when Baltar broke down after admitting he knew how to farm. Even though he was a weasel, it was a really great journey we went on with Gaius, and I was moved to see him finally at peace, finally a decent man who was happy with who he truly was.

Finally, enjoy the clip below, which merges my favourite element from the 1970s BSG and the modern series:

Wednesday, March 18, 2009


So, over at Newsarama, DC Universe Executive Editor Dan DiDio sat down to talk about a few things, the most exciting being the way that the Batman corner or the DCU is changing in the wake of Batman: RIP and Final Crisis.

For those of you that don't know, at the end of those series, Bruce Wayne fought the reincarnation of an alien god named Darkseid. So it was a guy with a really cool tool belt versus a God. Did not go well. Basically Darkseid zapped Bruce Wayne back to prehistoric times where he was last seen carving a bat into a cave wall. Seriously. If that seems ridiculous, well, it kind of was.

Now there's a miniseries going on called Battle for the Cowl, where a bunch of candidates are set to scrap over taking over the mantle. The candidates are: Dick Grayson, the original Robin who now goes by Nightwing; Jason Todd, the resurrected second Robin and all around asshole; Tim Drake, the current Robin and nerdy virgin; Harvey Dent, former Two-Face; and some sort of unknown psycho who is killing criminals. Along for the ride is Damien, the illegitimate son of Bruce Wayne and Talia Al Ghul. This annoying ten year old was raised by a league of assassins.

The photo included here shows the new Batman and Robin, as drawn by Frank Quitely. He worked with Grant Morrison on All Star Superman, and they're teaming up again on the new book. From the look of things, I'm betting our new dynamic duo is either Dick Grayson and Damien or Jason Todd and Damien, but certainly Damien looks to be the new Robin. And what of Tim Drake? He'll be the new Nightwing, I'm betting.

Here's how DiDio says the new Gotham City will shake out:

The Batman titles that are coming out in June – a reader asked if there will be a cohesion between them once they all launch and start rolling in the post Battle for the Cowl world as we see in the Superman titles after New Krypton?

DD: There’s a cohesion in a sense that it’s clear that they’re all coming from the same place. There is a new Batman, that’s pretty clear, so that character will be reflected in all the series and the ramifications of the change in the character will be reflected as well. But each of the series comes from a different point of view – Batman & Robin will naturally focus on the new team of Batman and Robin, Batman will focus on the new Batman, Detective Comics will focus on the new Batwoman and her role in Gotham City as she tries to affect change; Streets of Gotham will focus on the supporting cast members of Gotham’s world and how they interact with Batman; Gotham City Sirens will be dealing with Catwoman, Ivy and Harley Quinn and their adventures, many of which may dovetail in with other adventures that are taking place in other places in other aspects of Batman’s world; Outsiders deals with Alfred who will be seen in other books, but this is Alfred’s mission and directive and is about adventures that take place outside of Gotham City and Batgirl will be featuring...well, we’ll leave that for another day.

NRAMA: And all of those are ongoing?

DD: Yes they are.

Hmmmmm, we'll see.

Tuesday, March 17, 2009

Happy St. Patrick's Day!!

The best holiday for people who wish they were Irish or people who have drinking problems is here once again! Get out your green, curse the fuckin' English, drink yourself into oblivion, and get in a fight with a stranger!

Here's a sample from the only band that provides a perfect soundtrack for all the goals listed above.

The Pogues:

Perhaps the finest preventative measure against alcoholism: Shane MacGowan!

Monday, March 16, 2009

RIP - Ron Silver

Some sad news, as actor Ron Silver has passed away from cancer at the age of 62.

Silver was a Tony Award-winning actor and outspoken and committed social activist. He spent most of life advocating Liberal ideals and supporting Democratic candidates, but in the last years of his life became what he called a "9/11 Republican", going so far as to make a speech at the Republican National Convention.

Silver first gained fame as an actor in the early 1980s after appearing on Broadway in the original production of Hurlyburly and then originating the role of Charlie in David Mamet's Speed-the plow, for which he won a Tony award. His notable film appearance include Garbo Talks, Enemies: A Love Story, Blue Steel, Silkwood and Ali, but his most celebrated role was that of Alan Dershowitz in Reversal of Fortune. On television, he made many appearances, most notably as political consultant Bruno Gianelli in several episodes of The West Wing. He'll be missed, and not just for his talent, but for his fiery devotion to social causes.

Read a very nice obituary here. And below you'll find an example of his talent in this little speech from The West Wing:

Sunday, March 15, 2009

Ricky Gervais and Elmo - Interview Outtakes

Okay, Gervais and a Muppet - that's comedy gold right there. But for some reason, whenever they show Muppet outtakes where the Muppet acts like a real person it makes me lose my shit. Hilarious.

Combine that with Ricky Gervais' regular hilarity and the way that funny things make him cackle with glee and you've got awesomeness!

Tuesday, March 10, 2009

5 Simple Rules for Rebooting the Fantastic Four

Over at IESB, they're reporting that 20th Century Fox is seriously considering rebooting the Fantastic Four film franchise, which is good news for anyone who loves great comics or movies that don't insult your intelligence every five minutes or so.

Yeah, yeah, I know, the first two Fantastic Four films were hits, which still boggles my mind. I personally believe that director Tim Story has some sort of secret pact with the devil, which is the only way I can explain me seeing both films in theatres. I can only assume most of you fell prey to the same demonic bargain.

So, to help 20th Century Fox release a good film (which aside from Taken, seems more and more difficult for them to do lately) and to help do justice to what was called "The World's Greatest Comic Magazine", I've come up with some simple rules:

1 - Get the right guy in charge - This is the very first and most important quality. First off, get a director with some sort of vision. Sam Raimi clearly loved early 60s Spider-Man. Jon Favreau had some mad love for the gee-whizzery of Iron Man, and a exceptionally clear idea of the tone of his film. Christopher Nolan may not have been the hugest Batman fan, but he had a unique and innovative direction he wanted to take. So, pick someone to direct that either really gets the FF, or that has at least a clear direction other than wanting to make a superhero movie.

2 - If it ain't on the page... - Stan Lee and Jack Kirby's 100 issues of the FF are considered one of the greatest creative runs in comics history. Mine it. Modernize it by all means, but there's a boatload of stories there. Forget the Galactus stuff, that's pretty hard to render effectively (see the second film for proof), but what about a movie where the FF get trapped in the Negative Zone and face off against a whole dimension of creepy creautres, culminating in a huge battle with Annihilus. Cool. And it's a superhero movie that feels more like sci-fi, which we've rarely seen.

3 - If it ain't broke... - You know when the first film lost me? When Doctor Doom went from being the genius ruler of a foreign country who was Reed's college rival and who blames Reed for an accident that scarred Doom's face to an American industrialist who funds Reed's experiments and who is dating Sue Storm. What made Doom so frickin' cool was the fact that he was a gee-dee king! How do you arrest a king? And they gave him powers? No. Doom is a scary genius who created a suit of armor capable of kicking wicked ass. He lives in a castle surrounded by security robots and he tries to launch the Baxter Building into space. He should be totally nuts, consumed by jealousy, and over the top. Doom wants to rule the world, not make money.

4 - Get the FF right - No slight on any of the actors who played the FF, but they were never written well, let alone portrayed properly.
  • First off, Reed Richards is not a young guy. He's in his late thirties at the earliest. That's why he's got the grey in his hair, guys. And Reed is famous. He's not a really smart guy. He's not even a genius. He's the kind of mind that comes along once in a generation if we're lucky. He's Oppenheimer, Einstein and Stepehen Hawking all rolled into one. Your average theoretical scientist might come up with a theory about another dimension, but Reed comes up with the theory and then builds a portal that will take you to said dimension. In a weekend. That's Reed Richards. He's the coolest, nerdiest, smartest explorer of all time.
  • Sue Storm admittedly is the hard one. She's sometimes shown to be a little too denmother to these guys, but that's because she's historically been written by men who have trouble creating women who aren't madonnas or whores. But she's tough. She's capable. She's the one who is connected to people. Johnny is all about the fame, Reed is all about the work, and Ben is a little too damaged. Sue keeps the team going. While Reed is the de facto leader, I think Sue is the one who takes the lead in the field.
  • Johnny Storm was actually the single character the films got right. Chris Evans played him just like he hould be played; a hot-headed, fun-loving, ladykilling guy who loves the fame of being in the FF. The only thing to change is that he should be a kid at the start. Johnny was a teenager when the FF started, and that's what he should be here.
  • Ben Grimm was done fairly well, but frankly the pathos of the character was never really captured, and this was mostly down to the suit. The suit was nice, it was well built, but it didn't really make him into the monster he needs to become. The Thing is huge. If you saw him walking down the street, you'd be scared. His transformation should be the biggest mistake of Reed's life, and in order to communicate that, he needs to really come across as a freak. That being said, when clobberin' time comes around, the Thing has got to be frickin' impressive. A CG Hulk worked very well, and there's no reason (other than expense) why a CG Thing wouldn't be even better.
5 - Kids like good movies too - I've got no problem with making the FF more for kids, but does that mean we have to be treated with incredibly idiotic jokes like Reed using his stretching powers to grab another roll of toilet paper, or the insipid dance number in the second one. Will kids laugh at stupid jokes? Yes, of course they will, they're kids. But they'll also laugh at smart jokes and there's really no need to dumb anything down or simplify for kids. Take a look at Pixar, and you'll see movies tht all kids love and there's not a stupid joke in sight.

So, those are my ideas. We'll see if anything materializes. Hopefuly the FF will get the flick Marvel's First Family deserves.

Monday, March 9, 2009

Apparently, Lots of People were Watching the Watchmen

Well, the long wait was over, the lawsuits were settled and the box office tallies are in. Watchmen is officially a hit.......for now.

It took in a big $55.7 million over the weekend, making it the biggest opening so far in 2009. Although, as my wife said, "Isn't 2009 like five minutes old?" So, maybe not a record that's going to stand for long. Worldwide, the film raked in $83.2 million, so let's just say that, for a nearly 3 hour long, hard R, thematically dense and detailed film, it's done well.

I went and saw it this weekend, and while I did enjoy it, it was not a perfect experience. The fight scenes seemed amped up to an almost ridiculous degree (didn't Matrix-style slo-mo wire work become passe, like four years ago?) Some of the contemporary music was used extremely well, but a lot of it was hugely distracting.

Overall, however, it was pretty much exactly how I always pictured the film version looking and feeling. It was long but nver dragged, it was complex but not confusing. It retained its tone and weight despite the relatively minor changes (and those changes needed to be made). So, was it everything I hoped for? Well, as the book is one of my favourite novels ever, no. But attempting to capture every little thing that made the book so ground-breaking and mesmerizing was never a possibility, so I'm not disappointed.

However, I am quite interested to hear feedback from someone who never read the novel. Was it completely incoherent? Was it boring? Did it hold together?

Friday, March 6, 2009

Curb Your Show About Nothing

According to Entertainment Weekly, all four stars of Seinfeld will be appearing together for a multi-episode arc in the upcoming season of Curb Your Enthusiasm. While Jerry Seinfeld, Jason Alexander and Julia Louis-Dreyfus have all appeared in the show on their own, this will be Michael Richards' first time on Seinfeld co-creator Larry David's long-running HBO show. It more importantly marks the first time all four have appeared together since the series went off the air over a decade ago.

Sweet Fancy Moses, this is good news to me. To this day, Seinfeld remains my absolute favourite sitcom. I don't own any DVDs of the show, because it's on around eighteen times a day, but I can watch all eighteen reurns and still laugh my ass off. Curb Your Enthusiasm is also great, and Larry David is probably a comedy genius.

I wonder if Richards will spew any racial slurs while on the show?

Here's one of my favourite moments from Curb:

New Star Trek trailer is good example of kick-assery

So, a brand-new trailer just came out for Star Trek, and I have to say, it looks like the flick will be a whole lot of fun. There's a little less Spock here and a lot more "things going blooey in space" which will look awesome up on the big screen.

I still think things on the Enterprise look a little too much like a really cool Apple store, but it's not like all the other versions were all the functional either. As long as it has a big chair for Kirk to sit in, then hey, what more do you want?

Click here to see the trailer in shiny Quicktime.

Thursday, March 5, 2009

Public Enemies shows a welcome lack of Pirates or Goth influences

In a welcome change of pace for a Johnny Depp film, Michael Mann's new gangster pic Public Enemies appears to be free of both pirates and freakish goth-styled weirdos. For a while there, I was beginning to think that if a script didn't have feature a character that would make you change seats on public transit if he sat next to you, Depp wouldn't do it. However, following his trend, he will base Dillinger on a member of the Rolling Stones, but he's using Bill Wyman this time, so it just looks like he's playing a normal guy who likes banging chicks half his age.

I love his poster, too, which subtly comments on the fact that Dillinger was, shall we say, packing a pistol with a verrrrrrry large barrel. Get it? Eh? Do ya?

The trailer's below, and it looks great.