Sunday, May 31, 2009

The Awesome Tale of Velocity Gnome

Anyone who reads this blog knows that I spend quite some time trolling the interwebs for things that scratch my nerd itch (sorry, that is one shitty turn of phrase). Well, I found a doozy just the other day that I want to share with as many people as possible, as I think it's a tale packed to the rafters with awesome and stuffed to the gills with rad.

This story is about an adventure that took an ordinary guy across the country on a mission to save the future. Seriously. It's one part prank, one part art project, one part theatre piece, and one of the most detailed and ingenious plans I've ever heard about that didn't involve a robbery or the military.

The story is told here, and while the tale is quite long, do yourself a favour, set aside ten minutes, and read it. I think you'll be as amused and amazed as I was. Go on, read it, I'll wait right here.

Done? Okay, how frickin' cool was that? The guys who planned that are both nuts and also insanely ingenious. They took a real gamble in that Kolin could have just as easily ignored it all, but obviously they chose the right guy. Just an amazing story, through and through.

Tuesday, May 26, 2009

Green Lantern Trailer

Over at I Watch Stuff, I came across a totally kick-ass fan-made trailer for a Green Lantern flick. Granted, this film doesn't exist yet, but the guy who did this made it look really cool. Waaaay cooler than the picture you see here.

By the by, Nathan Fillion is a great choice for the role of Hal Jordan. He's a good actor with leading man charm who really is due for a break to shoot him into the bigs. And that break is not the abysmal TV show Castle. I know that DC is looking at Chris Pine, but after seeing this I hope they do go with Fillion.

Monday, May 25, 2009

Dead Starship Captain to Play Norse God

According to Nikki Finke's historically accurate blog, Deadline Hollywood Daily, Star Trek actor Chris Hemsworth has been cast in the title role of Marvel Studio's eagerly anticipated Thor film.

For those who can't quite place the Australian actor, you probalby haven't seen Star Trek, where he gave a memorable performance as George Kirk, Captain Kirk's doomed dad. It was not the hugest role, but it had some weight to it, and Hemsworth made a sizable impact, considering. I thought he was pretty good in the role, and I remember thinking, "Who's this guy, and when will he do more?"

Well, it seems that Thor director Kenneth Branagh and Marvel agree:

Chris had read for the part of Thor but wasn't given a test because a casting director had nixed him early on. I'm told Chris' younger brother Liam...then tested for the role of Thor, but Marvel Studios President Kevin Feige passed. Then,... Feige decided to let Chris read again. And once Marvel put him on tape, it was "Oh my god". Branagh came to town last week and saw the Chris test and made the final casting decision today.

However, no word has come from Marvel confirming this, which, as MTV pointed out, is a little fishy. It's probably simply the fact that whoever winds up playing Thor will have to sign up for multiple films, which makes contract negotiations complex. However, that same article does confirm that Tom Hiddleston will be playing Thor's evil half-brother Loki. Here's a pic of Hiddleston:

That's a pretty good match for Loki:

So, now we've got our Thor and our Loki, so we're only days away from people photoshopping their faces onto pictures like this:

Saturday, May 23, 2009

I Can Read Movies

In what has to be one of the coolest wastes of time I've ever seen, a guy named Mitch Ansara has created a fictitious books series called "I Can Read Movies", and he's designed funky retro book covers for said series. The one for Blade Runner is seen here, but you can go here to see a slide show of the others. They are extremely cool. Spacesick is Ansara's blog, and it's kind of fun. He also has a pretty cool project on Flickr called Make Something Cool Every Day that is

He says that this book project was inspired by artist Olly Moss's work redesigning posters for classic films, which you can find here. They're also pretty coolio.

Sci Fi Tech That Will Kill Us All (6)

Meet the Big Dog Robot. This little fella is being developed by the US Army as a sort of robotic pack mule. The idea is that this thing would be able to transport supplies in areas where the terrain is too difficult for conventional vehicles, but too dangerous to just give some guys some backpacks.

According to this article in the NY Daily News, the military has funded the development of this thing, and there's a video below that shows just how creepy its movements are. Seriously. This thing looks alive, and it creeps me the fuck out.

Peter Singer is an author and expert on the use of cutting edge tech in the military and while he says the noise of the Big Dog is a drawback, he also points out that this is just the prototype. Which I guess means later versions will be terrifyingly silent. Like robotic ninja mules. Strap a rail gun to this thing and it could be a bad guy in Halo.

Singer also had this to say:

"You're seeing this big sea change (in the use of robots)," Singer said. "Even though we're using them more and more, it doesn't mean that we are replacing humans."

War is a human story," he said.

Obviously he has not seen any of the Terminator films. Check out this vid (Yeah you can kick that thing now, but do you think it'll forget that? Nope, robots have long memories, and that dude will be the first to get fried when they take over):

Thursday, May 21, 2009

They've remade V.......for reasons passing understanding

Hey, look, I'm as big a fan of cheesy 80s sci-fi as the next guy (bigger, probably) but is there really any reason to revisit V? When it originally came out as a miniseries, it was a well done little allegory about political resistance, occupation and whatnot. It also had lizard people. And Marc Singer.

came the second minseries, which was more standard laser blasting cheesy sci-fi. Finally, we had the short-lived TV show, which was simply cheese.

ow we've got the new show, which seems to in no way take a fresh slant. Well, here's hoping I'll get to see Morena Baccarin eat a gerbil or something.

Saturday, May 16, 2009

Whatever Works

Ahhhh, the Woodman. Sometimes he makes mediocre movies, sometimes he makes genius movies, but I love them all. Now, he's paired up with Larry David, and this could be a match made in heaven.

Check out the trailer:

Tuesday, May 12, 2009

A Brand New Trek

So, I went and saw Star Trek this weekend, and I'm very happy to report that obviously all of you took my earlier warning to heart and were pretty quiet during the flick.

This will come as no shock to those that have been reading the overwhelmingly positive reviews, but it was a great film. It successfully captured everything about the original series that made it specials; the optimism, the frontier adventure, the humour, the spirit and heart. But it merges these somewhat nostalgic qualities with 21st century sensibilities, creating a film that feels at once modern while at the same time classic.

The script is well-done, even if it does fall back on the old Star Trek chestnut of time travel and alternate timelines. All of the characters feel right, and the dialogue they speak accomplishes what the best of Trek always did, keeping the people reliably human even while speaking the most ridiculous techno-babble. The story moves along like greased lightning, and the threat is more palpable than many of the other films in the franchise.

The cast is uniformly excellent, with special notice being given to the three central figures of the original series. Chris Pine gives a breakout performance as the young Kirk, perfectly capturing the character's daredevil courage, cockiness, and charm even while displaying a deeper nobility underneath. Karl Urban is pitch perfect as Bones, easily putting across the grumpy, earthy humanity of the man. Finally, Zachary Quinto has the hardest job in playing Spock. Not only is he playing arguably the most iconic role, but the man who originated the role is in the film as well! Quinto delivers the goods in spades, creating a different character to the original, but one that feels exactly right. And it's a treat to see Leonard Nimoy as Spock. Nimoy is a wonderful actor, always has been, and he steps back into the role with consummate ease.

Director JJ Abrams does a great job; the film moves along at a breakneck pace, employing some of the most impressive visual effects I've seen in a long time. It is far more action-packed, but is also character driven, which allows the film to retain its heart while still providing all the thrills you could want.

So, it's a great reboot for the franchise, and one that leaves me anxious to see more.

Wednesday, May 6, 2009


Okay, I'm throwing an open warning out there to everyone going to Star Trek this weekend. I will be going to see the film, and I'm begging you guys, shut the fuck up, kay?

Seriously, this talking during the movie thing is getting out of hand. How hard is it to shut your talk-hole for 90 minutes? And I'm not talking about leaning over to your buddy and whispering "awesome" when something awesome occurs. I'm not talking about random comments. I'm talking about full on, in depth discussions of the plot.

I went and saw State of Play recently, and the two guys behind me talked ALL THE TIME. It took me a minute to realize that it was, in fact, only one guy talking. You know what he was doing? Yeah, he was translating the movie. The other guy spoke no English. You know what? If you can't speak English, you can't go see movies in English. That's it. I'm not going to go see a Japanese movie without subtitles. You know why? Cause I don't speak Japanese. I wouldn't ask a Japanese buddy to come with me and translate the whole thing 'cause that's pretty fucking distracting wouldn't you say?

Another thing. Put your cell phones away. Unless you're a doctor on a transplant team, you do not need to be constantly in touch with people. And it's not just the noise of you talking, it's also that your screen lights up with the power of a thousand suns every time you check to see if someone texted you in the last thirty seconds. Hey, tween, you can wait a couple hours to find out who blew who on Gossip Girl last night (odds are it was Serena. Slut).

Here's an extreme example; a couple years ago, Scofe and I went to see 3:10 to Yuma. A couple seats down from us were a guy and his girl. From the opening credits and through every single scene, she kept asking him to fill her in on what was going on. He had to explain every single scene. After a few minutes we started with the annoyed looks and the coughs, hoping this would politely get the message across (we ARE Canucks, after all). Finally, we resorted to a polite, yet forceful, "Shh". At which point she and the guy got all up in our grills, saying that they could talk through the whole movie if they wanted and who did we think we were and that it was perfectly fine to chatter away. She insisted he get the manager and get us kicked out. He left but came back without the manager, who I'm guessing laughed in his face and suggested he sit down and shut the eff up.

My point is that if you can't follow the plot of 3:10 to Yuma, you are too stupid to go to the movies. You need to go home and find a less challenging form of entertainment, like watching two other people play Pong. That's about the level you're good for.

So, I know a lot of people will be going to see the Trek this weekend. I'm just asking, for everyone's enjoyment, keep your shit to yourself for two hours. Unless you just want to say, "Awesome!" That's okay.

Tuesday, May 5, 2009

RIP - Dom DeLuise

Sad news out of Hollywood, as beloved sidekick Dom DeLuise has passed away at the age of 75.

DeLuise attended New York's legendary High School of the Performing Arts before embarking on a career as an actor, appearing in numerous off-Broadway shows. In 1968, he got his first break when he appeared in Neil Simon's The Last of the Red Hot Lovers, kicking off a long comedic career.

Although he made his film debut in Sydney Lumet's Fail-Safe, he gained fame for his comedic roles, becoming a favourite of Mel Brooks who cast him in many films including Blazing Saddles, Silent Movie and Spaceballs. He would appear on countless television shows, performing with the likes of Carol Burnett, Rowan and Martin and Bob Newhart. He was also a frequent and popular guest on The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson.

But it was as Burt Reynold's wacky sidekick that he gained the most fame, appearing with the actor in The End, Cannonball Run, The Best Little Whorehouse in Texas, Cannonball Run II, and Smokey and the Bandit 2. In a statement, Reynolds said, "I was dreading this moment. Dom always made everyone feel better when he was around. I never heard him say an unkind word about anyone. I will miss him very much."

In later life, DeLuise released a series of bestselling cookbooks and won good reviews for a performance at the Met as Frosh the jailer in the opera Die Fledermaus.

He will be missed. Here's how I'll always remember him:

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Wolverine will rule the box office......and it kind of sucks

Well, I've just come back from seeing X-Men Origins: Wolverine, and I keep asking myself one thing over and over; how did they manage to fuck up one of the most effortlessly cool characters and stories in modern comics history?

Let's take a look at the good things first of all.

There's a reason why this role made Hugh Jackman a big star. Jackman gets the character; his thinly concealed rage, his desire to prove to himself he's more than the violence, his nobility, his romantic qualities, the way he exudes "badass" with almost no effort or posturing. The fact of the matter is, the film relies totally on Jackman's talent and understanding of the role, because the script sure as hell contains none of this. In fact, it strains throughout to communicate these qualities with all the subtlety of a sledgehammer, and therefore it all feels forced and over-simplified, and ultimately rings false. Look at the scene on the train with Rogue in the first X-Men film; there's nothing even approaching that level of simple effectiveness or heart here.

Ryan Reynolds is his usual charming self, creating a fun and interesting character that is sorely missed when he disappears after ten minutes. Dominic Monaghan invests his miniscule role with some real pathos and some hidden depths, but this is never explored in any way, and he is gone too soon as well. The first ten minutes or so are good fun, following Wolverine and his early years as some sort of government operative, but after one or two scenes of this, it's over.

Everything else doesn't work at all. The story is total mess. When Wolverine debuted in the X-Men comics, he was a sawed-off obnoxious thug with a big mouth and impulse control issues. Over time, he grew into an anti-heroic, grimly effective killng machine struggling to find his place. He finally became the tough but noble masterless samurai-like figure that we all know and love. Along the way, much his past was shrouded in mystery, even to him, and this, I believe, was a central tenet of his massive popularity. Like Eastwood's Man with No Name, the less we know, the more fascinating he is.

In the late 80's at the height of his popularity, a mini-series depicted how Wolvie got the adamantium skeleton and claws. Titled Weapon X, it was a strange, moody, bloody and brutal story, and is justly legendary. Twenty years later, Origin was released. It was another mini-series that depicted Logan's childhood and very early years. It depicted him as having been born in the 1800s, and showed his decline from aristocratic boy to feral beast. Once again, it was brutal and atmospheric.

These stories are clumsily mashed together, with every mutant that we didn't see in the previous X-films clumsily sewed into the plot to create a sanitized hodegpodge that makes little to no sense. Popular comic characters like Gambit (who I have always hated anyway) and Deadpool are introduced for really no other reason than fans have wanted to see them. Other characters are added just so they can show some cool powers and are then promptly killed off or otherwise disappear. Wolverine's relationship with Sabretooth, one of the most visceral, intense, complicated and bloody in mainstream comics, is reduced to an ill-defined sibling rivalry where two guys with claws repeatedly gut each other without drawing a drop of blood. At no point after the first ten minutes was I vaguely intrigued, nor did I truly despise the film. It is so middle of the road and bland that I found myself amiably drifting from episodic moment to moment, and when it was over, I merely shrugged and left.

To me, the classic Wolvie is the one with little to no back story at all. He should be a mysterious, damaged figure; a guy trying to uncover his past and finding that the more he learns, the more pain he feels. The single story most responsible for elevating the character into one of the top figures in comics was an early 80's mini-series where he goes to Japan and has to prove his honour to the father of the woman he loves. The father happens to be an organized crime lord. Wolverine winds up fighting hundreds of ninjas, bedding a Japanese hit-woman, taking on most of the Japanese underworld, and finding some peace as he proves to himself that he's a man, not a mindless animal. Wouldn't you like to see Hugh Jackman fight 100 ninjas?

Oh, well. This flick will make money, for the first weekend, at least. Maybe in the next flick we'll get something worthy of the character, and the actor who plays him.