Via Chicks on the Right: Liam Neeson's new flick Non-Stop features villains all-too typical by contemporary "progressive" standards ...
SPOILER ALERT!! See spoilers "below the fold" ...
...the villain is not a hijacker but a terrorist -- someone who wants to murder everyone on the plane to further a political goal.
The terrorist is a 9/11 family member. Yes, you read that right; the terrorist is a 9/11 family-member who lost a loved-one in the World Trade Center on that terrible September morning.
It gets worse…
After 9/11, this 9/11 family member-turned-terrorist then joined the military but found himself disillusioned by the pointless wars.
The 9/11 family member-turned-terrorist is upset because America hasn’t done enough to ensure there will never be another 9/11. And so he figures that if he can get an air marshal blamed for a terrorist attack, America will wake up and anally probe us before we're allowed on a plane, or something.
It gets worse…
The villain's sidekick is a member of the American military willing to murder 150 innocent people for a payday.
It gets worse…
The one passenger on the plane who is forever helpful, kind, reasonable, noble, and never under suspicion is a Muslim doctor dressed in traditional Muslim garb including a full beard.
Of course! But I especially like how the villain was disillusioned by the "pointless wars," but at the same time is pissed off that the US "hasn't done enough" to thwart another 9/11. That's some logic gold, there, eh?
... you're -- what else? -- a racist.
No, writer Joseph Phillip Illidge doesn't actually say that, but it's more than obvious via his between-the-lines snark. Just like with our president, any dislike just couldn't be due to his policies, right? No, it's his COLOR, dammit!
Hey, if Marvel wants to change one of their longest-established characters for no other reason than to just do it, go for it. And if those who love this move want to keep referring to those who don't as wannabe Klan members, go for that, too. It's not my fault if you like coming off as microcephalic jackasses.
The Corner's Thursday Links yesterday included a link to the Top Ten Coolest Guns in Sci-Fi. I was a bit disappointed as they were just hand weapons/rifle-style gizmos. So, as a result, you know what that means: Because no one demanded it, here are Hube's Coolest Sci-Fi Weapons (not just guns) of All-Time! I've limited the list to film -- TV and/or movies. If I included print, this list could be interminable.
THE DOOMSDAY MACHINE:
THE COMET EMPIRE:
KRENIM TEMPORAL WEAPON:
WAVE MOTION GUN:
We've discussed the rumors of Jordan, a black actor, playing the blond-haired, blue-eyed Johnny before; however, looking at the images of the entire quartet -- especially Teller as Reed -- all one can say is "WTF????" As someone noted in the comment section of the first link, what is this -- "Fantastic Four 90210??" Teller looks like he's thirteen. Bell doesn't appear much older. And the only one of the four I've ever seen in a film (which doesn't mean much, admittedly) is Mara (she played Heath Ledger's oldest daughter in Brokeback Mountain).
And, naturally, the PC Police are out and about, crying "racism" when anyone dares to take issue with Jordan playing the Torch. The funniest thing about this is that at least one commenter takes this on in ... an ironic way:
Why Jonny?[sic] Why not Reed? A black guy can't be smart? He has to be the dumb jock?
Really, I think Reed being black makes a ton more sense if you were going to racebend anyone. Not that they should be. They should be promoting black heroes instead of using white ones with black actors.
At the CBR forum on the topic, this comment might be even better: "Like someone suggested they should turn Richards and Grimm into gay lovers to fill the quota."
Via Weasel Zippers:
This was an advertisement for Al Gore's enviro-nut outfit? Niiiiice. But hey -- why do they assume aliens want a warmer planet? Was Gore part of The Arrival's conspiracy?
He'll be played by Paul Bettany who voiced Jarvis in the Iron Man and first Avengers flicks.
I recall Bettany best from his role of the savior angel Michael in the so-so film Legion.
Cracked has a [brief] list of The 3 Most Depressing Minor Characters in Famous Movies. But they missed one. Here's Jonah Goldberg (via his e-mailed "G File"):
But it leaves out The Gimp from Pulp Fiction. I understand it's awkward since the man the character is based on is now the vice president of the United States. But come on.
It could happen, according to Bleeding Cool:
But surely the most interesting proposition they raise is that Josh Trank and Fox are open to gender-swapping iconic F4 villain Dr. Doom, who is expected to be the Big Bad here as well. Here’s how they’re approaching casting the character: the studio is likely to go for a big name and isn’t ruling out switching genders for the role.
Uh ... whaaaaat??? Last May rumors surfaced that a black actor may take over the role of the Human Torch; now we possibly may get a Doc Doom with breasts. Why not change the team moniker to the Politically Correct Four? And why stop at the Torch and Doom? Why not an Asian Reed Richards and Native American Sue Storm? And, how about making the Thing out of dry ice instead of rock, so that when his body sublimates there can be ample room for a discussion of anthropogenic global warming?
Don't dare peek at this still from The Amazing Spider-Man 2 if you don't wanna be, well, disappointed.
DC Comics is making a "move" with many of its most popular villains joining hero teams. Lex Luthor becoming a member of the Justice League is the latest. You may recall that Marvel had Peter Parker's (aka Spider-Man, natch) body taken over by his arch-nemesis Dr. Octopus.
'Ya gotta like how comics' modern creators believe their most base villains can get a shot at redemption. I mean, it's not as if Luthor or Ock have ever plotted massive, Hitler-esque genocide, right? The funny thing is, just imagine if Luthor or Ock was a member of the NRA ... or was against gay marriage! Then they'd be relegated to some interdimensional hoosegow for the rest of their natural lives!
Furious D's The Offend-Bore Matrix: "The use of insulting portrayals of politically correct targets to give a project more appeal to critics and within Hollywood, but fails to sell tickets because it offends a large swathe of the audience while boring the rest. The use of insulting portrayals of politically correct targets to give a project more appeal to critics and within Hollywood, but fails to sell tickets because it offends a large swathe of the audience while boring the rest."
Cut to movie maker Harvey Weinstein who says the National Rifle Association (NRA) will "wish they weren’t alive after I’m done with them.”
[Howard] Stern asked Mr. Weinstein on Wednesday whether he owned a gun. The Hollywood heavyweight replied that he did not and never would. “I don’t think we need guns in this country. And I hate it,” the producer said. “I think the NRA is a disaster area.”
The movie mogul said his vision was to scare people away from firearms. He foresees moviegoers to leave thinking, “Gun stocks — I don’t want to be involved in that stuff. It’s going to be like crash and burn.”
Mr. Weinstein thinks guns are necessary for self-defense, but only in other countries, during genocides and if the weapon is not personally owned.
Uh, what? Weinstein says he thinks it would have been right for Jews to have guns during the Holocaust (no sh**) ... seemingly ignorant of the fact that the Nazis purposely confiscated firearms from them.
It may surprise you that Weinstein is behind such movies as Pulp Fiction, Rambo 6, Jackie Brown, Planet Terror, and the Kill Bill series. And yet he said "his vision" is to "scare people away from firearms." As long as it doesn't interfere with his making some major cash, though, right? (And hey, you can hear his excuses already: "Well, I did say guns were OK for genocides and in other countries [Rambo, Planet Terror] and Kill Bill relied on knives, not guns. He'll purposely avoid the other two flicks, natch.)
But back to the Offend-Bore Matrix: You can bet your bottom dollar his coming anti-NRA film will do precisely what the Matrix states. Which means, it ain't gonna do anything to "bring down" the gun-rights group. If anything, it'll have the reverse effect, just like we witnessed in Colorado with the recall elections of various gun control state legislators.
Some fans of comics writer Gail Simone and her comic The Movement (sort of a superhero version of the Occupy Wall Street Movement) are miffed -- miffed, I tell you! -- that the WB show Arrow featured a group by that name in the recent episode. They're miffed because this Movement "is apparently an anti-government terrorist organization."
So? What's the problem? Isn't that pretty much the case? Let's take a look at some images from a few years ago:
Not only does Simone glamorize "Occupy" with her comic, there was also an anthology of "Occupy" stories in comicbook form. This, despite the myriad instances of violence, depravity, rape, trashing of property, and littering. But the Tea Party? First, it's a miracle Arrow didn't make its "Movement" some sort of Tea Party analogue. (Maybe I'm jumping the gun and they still might. I don't watch the show.) But secondly, comics didn't waste any time condemning the TP with its partisan vitriol, despite there being absolutely NO reasonable comparison between it and Occupy when it comes to causing disruptions and crime.
So, pardon me if I don't get all huffy about The Movement on a DC Comics-based TV show more accurately depicting the real thing than the wanna-be fantasy of the Tea Party in past comics.
Via Douglas Ernst: Filmmaker Kevin Smith is going to demonstrate how ... "brave" of a guy he is with his next endeavor: A movie titled Helena Handbag, about "mankind teaming up with Hell to fight a rapturing giant Jesus."
Gee, how "edgy!" How "courageous!" How "daring!"
As Doug says,
If Kevin Smith wants a movie that no one else would make, perhaps he could write a film that pits Giant Muhammed against Mothra. Giant Muhammed could also have a harem of topless women the size of The Sacred Mosque Al-Masjid Al-Haram. But Smith won’t go there because it’s easier to needle Christians with “Christzilla” than it is to make a film that lands on the radar of the world’s nuttiest Islamic clerics. Just ask Mark Basseley Youssef (formerly Nakoula Basseley Nakoula), the director of “Innocence of Muslims.” He’s the guy the Obama administration couldn’t act fast enough to pull out of his home for a perp walk. Crime? Daring to criticize Islam.
Not to mention, there's the little tidbit about being scared shitless. Just ask MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell about that: In a rare moment of complete honesty, Crazy Larry admitted that "I would like to criticize Islam much more than I do publicly, but I'm afraid for my life if I do." When asked about, say, Mormons, O'D responded, "They'll never take a shot at me. Those other people (Muslims), I'm not going to say a word about them."
The ever-indignant Furious D has more. Which certainly makes sense since his Offend-Bore Matrix comes into play here. The OBM says
The use of insulting portrayals of politically correct targets to give a project more appeal to critics and within Hollywood, but fails to sell tickets because it offends a large swathe of the audience while boring the rest.
So he makes films like Red State, a horror film about Hollywood's irrational fear of "psycho American Christians" inspired by America's craziest pseudo-Christian religious cult the Westboro Baptist Church which consists of 1 large family and approximately 5 other people, who haven't actually done any physical violence. In fact, all the Westboro dicks seem good at is attracting attention for being obnoxious.
It got him some attention, but the film wasn't the noble disaster he needed to bow out. So why not ... follow that up with an apocalyptic comedy about battling Jesus.
Indeed. And that's precisely the Offend-Bore Matrix -- it'll give more "cred" to Smith in the comfy bubble of Hollywood, but he won't make squat at the box office. And, Smith won't have a damn thing to worry about safety-wise, despite the "message" of flicks like Red State.
As we noted back in September, the writer of Star Trek Into Darkness is a known 9-11 Truther. This site does a terrific job of nailing down all the related nonsense. The conclusion:
While there have been Starfleet officials who have been bad guys in the previous Trek continuity, Marcus is special because he’s the very head of Starfleet. In the reboot universe Starfleet isn’t dealing with occasional bad apples, it’s rotten from the very top. It is an organization run by criminals, something that would not have fit in Roddenberry’s vision.
(h/t to Nate)
Comicbook writer Ed Brubaker ironically tweets:
Here's a real question: Can you still enjoy an artist's work if you find out they're an asshole later?— Ed Brubaker (@brubaker) January 2, 2014
Some responses by some of our "buddies":
@brubaker I think it's hard to enjoy it if they're contemporary, and still working. Easier to look past someone being a jerk 100 years ago.— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) January 2, 2014
@brubaker I have a whole bunch of people whose work I can't enjoy any more because of racist or homophobic statements.— Gail Oakenpants (@GailSimone) January 2, 2014
After many answers, Brubaker subsequently tweeted
So the answers seem to be: Yes, no, it depends on the art/depends on how big an asshole/depends on the time they lived.— Ed Brubaker (@brubaker) January 2, 2014
To be fair, at least Marz (and Dan Slott) have stated that they are aware of the [business] chance they take by being outspoken on certain matters (usually political). But, once again, it's one thing to spout off on matters political, and another to be, as Brubaker pondered, a jerk about it. It would matter much less to me (and I'd be a lot more inclined to buy their stuff) if people like Marz, Slott and Simone tweeted left-wing politics ... but were a lot more gracious/respectful towards dffering opinions. Not to sound like a broken a record, but, y'know, Michael Jordan's 1990 comment about Republicans buying shoes, too, and all ...
Happy 91st birthday to Stan Lee today!!
Phil Robertson should look African American and gay people in the eyes and hear about the hurtful impact of praising Jim Crow laws and comparing gay people to terrorists. If dialogue with Phil is not part of next steps then A&E has chosen profits over African American and gay people – especially its employees and viewers.
You can read the entire GQ interview with Robertson here. His supposed "praising" of Jim Crow laws is on page one, and the "comparison" of gays to terrorists is on page two.
As I've said in the past, I've never seen this show (and don't plan on watching it) but I do believe the network had every right to do what it wanted regarding Robertson. They axed him ... and then they brought him back. I totally understand how certain groups would get offended by some of his remarks; of course, the issue beyond the remarks is the media interpretation -- and coverage -- of such. As we well know, only remarks made (or actions taken) by certain people/groups are socially/culturally impermissible. This is why Robertson was so quick to be dismissed in the first place, while Capital One could have cared less about Alec Baldwin's noxious behavior (and hey -- where was GLAAD then?), not to mention MSNBC regarding myriad instances. Just to note two institutions, natch.
God, I hope so. io9 reports that some tweets over the weekend stated that a reboot script is in the hands of a studio right now. Zack Stentz characterized the script thusly:
Less a satire & more an actual adaptation of the Heinlein novel. An Officer & a Gentleman in power armor... I love the Verhoeven version too! But this was a chance to actually engage with the source material instead of just mock it."
To which all I can say is "HALLELUJAH!!!" Writers Stentz and Ashley Edward Miller have done work on Thor and X-Men: First Class, so I am optimistic. Hey, I dig the 1998 ST film, but it really is nothing at all like the novel. The book is, like the quote above says, more like An Officer and a Gentleman with powered armor. The personal "coming of age" story of Johnny Rico (who's Filipino, by the way, in the book) and political philiosophy is as important as the sci-fi action.
My father, who usually stays away from cheesy sci-fi actioners like Verhoeven's ST, actually watched it recently and was impressed by the F/X. But, natch, he asked me: "We have faster-than-light spaceships but use 20th century-style machine guns and body armor??" I hear 'ya, pop. But Verhoeven claimed he could use his budget for the amazing bug F/X or the powered armor of the novel, but not both. He chose the bugs. Still, I don't see how troops outfitted in budget-inexpensive-but-technologically sophisticated outfits and weapons couldn't have worked.
io9 links to an old page which discusses the differences between the book and the film.
Most science fiction deals with the future, obviously, hence the "fiction" part. In scifi literature, TV and movies, some future timelines appear more ... "realistic" than others. Notice I said "appear" because we are talking about science fiction. Older scifi efforts (like the original Star Trek) usually will appear more "dated" and hence, oft times, outright wrong.
So, first, let's take that of the original Star Trek (meaning, the original series and its spin-offs, not that of the two rebooted flicks). Here's a timeline of the "future" Trek history. The earliest stuff (that is, 20th-21st century), natch, is already incorrect. For instance, there was no interstellar probe launched in 2002, not to mention no Eugenic Wars which spawned the notorious Khan. However, a lot of the remaining timeline seems fairly feasible, especially since it was established in Star Trek: First Contact and the series Enterprise that Earth had the assistance of Vulcan. I do, however, have a beef with how quickly Earth was able to recover from its [largely nuclear] World War III and continue its scientific progress (which led to Zephram Cochrane's development of warp drive.).
I'm a huge fan of Larry Niven's "Known Space" universe which has, in the last few years, been updated with the "Fleet of Worlds" novels. Here's the Niven chronology. I think Larry has a very realistic outlook on the progress of human science; we're using fusion-powered interstellar ramscoops in the mid-24th century to travel between stars ... which takes years. And we'd still be using such if not for the intervention of an advanced species which sold us the secret of FTL (faster-than-light) travel.
What about Isaac Asimov's Robots/Empire/Foundation universe? Here's its timeline. Can humanity conquer the entire galaxy in 20,000 years? With the assistance of its robots (their actions are largely unknown to humans), why not? Only the early part of the timeline is unrealistic: we develop a "hyperatomic drive" by the mid-21st century and settle our first interstellar colonies by 2064. Ain't gonna happen.
The Alien-verse. According to this timeline of events, the supposedly omniscient Weyland Corporation discovers FTL travel in 2032 and begins practical application of it three years later with a spacecraft. Apparently this FTL tech did not lead to the elimination of the need for suspended animation, however (see: Alien, Aliens which occur in 2122 and 2179 respectively).
Then there's Snake Plissken's Escape From New York future. Somehow, in 1981, John Carpenter believed that in sixteen years Manhattan would be evacuated and turned into a maximum security prison. Oh, and that fusion power would be developed. (Remember that audio tape?)
1975's Rollerball (a classic, in my opinion) posited that nations no longer existed and corporations ran the planet ... by 2018. I think this could certainly happen at some point, just not four years from now.
In 12 Monkeys, time travel is invented some years after 1997, even after a virulent virus has eradicated most of humanity. Uh, right.
The 1993 flick Demolition Man thought that the ability to freeze a human cryogenically would exist in 1996.
The 1994 film Timecop predicted time travel by 2004. And you get to ride in a cool-looking vehicle to make a trip (see below).
1973's Soylent Green told us that by 2022 there'll be over 40 million people in New York City, food will be scarce and global warming will be out of control. Ahh, remember when people used to believe that Malthusian bullshit?
A book I started some time ago but set aside is John J. Lumpkin's Through Struggle, The Stars. I didn't set it aside because it was bad; other things occupied my interest, is all. Nevertheless, check out how many colonies various Earth nations have settled by 2139. Does this seem possible to you?
Lastly, how 'bout these which really blew it:
Today, Trimnell has still more following some e-mail queries as to whether he was going to "force [Scalzi] out into the open." Ed, of course, says "no" (that isn't his concern, after all), but what was interesting is that he links to an article by "Mrs. Instapundit," Helen Smith, regarding Scalzi's treatise from earlier this year in which he says "white guys have it so easy." I was unaware of Dr. Helen's post at the time, but it's telling she wrote about it because Scalzi and her husband, Instapundit's Glenn Reynolds, are supposed to be pals. At any rate, Helen wrote of Scalzi's conclusion:
I say “bullshit.” Straight white men are today’s whipping boy. Scalzi’s fawning commenters start out telling him how brilliant his little essay is while this Uncle Tim and some (but not all–some commenters fight back) of his sycophants eat it up.
In my upcoming book with Encounter Publishing entitled “Male Strike: Why Society’s War Against Men is Suicidal and What to Do About It,” I discuss these Uncle Tim types (those who put down other men) whose life is made easier by pandering to women and other men who are either Uncle Tims themselves or White Knights trying to save a damsel in distress. There is always a benefit to putting down straight white males. What’s yours, Scalzi?
She links to this site, which has a very good response to the author as well. Best line from it?
But the problem with Scalzi's piece isn't his metaphor or his condescension: it's their implication. SWMs (straight white males) must be properly silent and guilty for who they are, or they're assholes. Expendable.
Personally, I have less of an issue with Scalzi's [questionable] point(s) than with his condescension and snark. Like the usual comicbook cadre, I truly am at a loss to figure why these folks act the way they do when their career depends upon selling their wares to the public. Such relies on public goodwill and relations. As I've said ad nauseam, why in the world would anyone patronize a person who spits in your face?? I've bought all of Scalzi's Old Man's War novels, including the latest, The Human Division. But y'know what? That's probably the last one I'll purchase. Even if Scalzi wrote something that was WAY out there (say, like Communism is the greatest governmental system in the history of man), I'd still be inclined to buy his stuff ... as long as he treated those who disagree with him politely and amicably. Or, just ignored them.
And I know I've said this before, too: Is it because guys like Scalzi have "made it" that they don't care anymore -- about how they come across to the public? I mean, unlike comicbooks, which is a slowly dying medium (and may explain why guys like Ron Marz act the way they do online), science fiction novels, it seems to me, will continue to flourish for quite some time.
I just don't get it.
The big thing today is writer/blogger/reformed Muslim Bosch Fawstin's article at PJ Media titled 10 Truths Mainstream Comic Books Evade To Promote ‘Muslim Superheroes.' Bosch is extremely passionate, and takes no prisoners. You may remember how Marvel is rebranding the title Ms. Marvel with the title hero a Muslim with super powers. Bosch discusses this and a lot more; it's a must-read.
I sort of got a kick out of this, linked to by Bosch. Blogger J. Caleb Mozzocco couldn't understand why no one was reading JLA/The 99. The 99 was (is) an all-Muslim super-team who got their powers "through magical Noor stones," and the team name comes from the ninety-nine attributes of Allah. Mozzocco writes
I did experience a new emotion while reading this installment of the sales analysis though, beyond the usual shades of the gray and blue rainbow of sadness I generally get from the chart—shock.
Specifically, I’m shocked at how poorly JLA/The 99 seems to be selling in the direct market.
They received about as much press coverage as any comic book characters could hope to. In the six-issue miniseries JLA/The 99, the new heroes team up with The Justice League of America, the DC super-team (usually) composed of Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman and the most popular and well-known superheroes who aren’t owned by Marvel.
It started off selling pretty poorly, and, in just four issues, is selling half as many copies.
Well, as Bosch says in his article, it won't matter how much a series is promoted in the press if the story is poor. (And, as Mozzocco's commenters state, the price is too high.) Merely making a big deal out of the fact that the characters are "different" -- in this case, Muslim -- doesn't mean squat if the story and art blow. And if the tale is preposterously PC. This will happen with Marvel's new Ms. Marvel, too, I guarantee it.
Elsewhere, Carl brings word, sadly, of how sci-fi author John Scalzi is acting just like the usual cadre of "progressive" contemporary comicbook writers when faced with the slightest degree of criticism. In this instance, writer/blogger Ed Trimnell took issue with Scalzi, and the latter responded thusly (my emphasis):
Out there in the stupidosphere comes the suggestion that …I am a stone-cold opportunist…(No, I’m not going to link to the blog post in question, because it is in the stupidosphere. You can probably find it if you make the effort. But why would you? Now, then -)
This appears to be Scalzi's M.O., especially now that he's "made it." As Trimnell says, if you're going to blog, and especially blog about politics, you have to expect disagreement. But if you're Scalzi -- not to mention some of our usual [comicbook] nemeses like Ron Marz, Kurt Busiek, Gail Simone and Mark Waid -- you don't have to take the dissension. You're "above" it all. You're "better" than those who differ with you merely due to the fact that you're more well known and financially successful. The only response to make to those who disagree (if you make a response at all) is snarky scorn.
Such a shame. I dig Scalzi's Old Man's War universe. But as with the snotty comicbook creators, why should anyone patronize you if you treat people (and their differing viewpoints) with smug contempt?
In the comics Twitter-verse, the aforementioned Kurt Busiek and Ron Marz are actually right about the issues surrounding Phil Robertson and the Duck Dynasty/A&E network. They've both correctly noted that this is not a First Amendment issue. But that didn't stop them from their usual snotty snark, natch:
Palin logic: Duck Dynasty guy's 1st Amendment rights are being violated, but David Letterman should have been fired for telling Palin jokes.— Kurt Busiek (@KurtBusiek) December 20, 2013
Um, Kurt? Palin never demanded Letterman be axed for his vile remarks. Some of her supporters did, but not the governor herself. Indeed, when she accepted Letterman's eventual apology, what she did say was "Letterman certainly has the right to 'joke' about whatever he wants to, and thankfully we have the right to express our reaction." This isn't the first time Busiek has ripped on Palin; back in early 2011 he took up the MSM narrative in wondering if the governor's "target" imagery was in some way culpable for Arizona Rep. Gabby Giffords being shot but a psycho. (And be sure to read my response to Kurt in the comments to the previous link; it's directly related to being thin-skinned when getting responses to posted political opinions.)
And let's not forget our "pal" Ron Marz, of course, who tweeted yesterday:
What if Trey Radel resigned his congressional seat, but then we give it to Phil Robertson? Would that make everybody happy?— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) December 20, 2013
Indeed. Because Duck Dynasty's Robertson has so much in common with the representative who was busted for cocaine possession, right?
Nate tips me off to this Furious D post: The Sundance Channel is developing a series about -- wait for it! -- a "fictional head of the NRA." Furious D notes, rightly, that "something as politically charged as a channel founded by Robert Redford producing a show about the NRA, can only fail." Why? Because of the Offend Bore Matrix which states:
The use of insulting portrayals of politically correct targets to give a project more appeal to critics and within Hollywood, but fails to sell tickets because it offends a large swathe of the audience while boring the rest.
Or, to put it more succinctly,
This is because those who don't think the NRA is the font of all evil will feel insulted and offended, and those who do think the NRA is the font of all evil will be bored, because it'll just be a regurgitation of everything they read about the NRA in the New Republic.
Furious says Sundance is doing this to get a "noble failure" in its coffers so it can get a "pat on the back" from its peers "at the next political fundraiser at George Clooney's beach house." Sort of like Lions for Lambs, y'know.
The new sci-fi actioner starring Tom Cruise looks quite good:
The film is based on the novel All You Need is Kill by Hiroshi Sakurazaka and deals with a near-future Earth battling an invading race called "Mimics." Cruise plays "an officer who has never seen a day of combat when he is unceremoniously dropped into what amounts to a suicide mission." But somehow, he gets caught up in a recurring time loop, giving him an opportunity to change things -- for the better -- each time he [re]lives a new loop. This reminds me a lot of the Star Trek: TNG episode "Cause and Effect" in which the Enterprise is caught up in a "temporal causality loop." It keeps repeating the same segment of time over and over, until exaggerated feelings of déjà vu enable the crew to plan for the next loop in an attempt to get out of it. They are successful, and after encounter a Federation vessel (captained by none other than Kelsey Grammer himself!) which had been trapped in the loop ... for eighty years.
One of the more satisfying episodes of TNG is the third season's "The Defector." At the beginning of this installment, we see a Romulan warbird pursuing a Romulan scout ship. The warbird fires on the scout, crippling it and injuring its pilot, but the Enterprise (which was alerted to the incident and hence was nearby) quickly transports the pilot to sickbay and snags the scout with its tractor beam. The warbird, now in Federation space, backs off, cloaks itself, and retreats.
The pilot is tended to by Dr. Crusher, and is promptly interrogated by Commander Riker and Counselor Troi. He claims to be a logistics clerk who has stumbled upon a [Romulan] plot to drag their empire and the Federation into conflict. He states he has seen plans for a Romulan base on Nelvana III in the Neutral Zone, the supposed focal point for their thrust into Federation space. Needless to say, the Enterprise officers are skeptical. Almost matter of factly, and easily missed if one is not paying attention, is Picard asking Worf to come to his ready room.
After more questioning and continuing doubt (especially by Capt. Picard), not to mention feekinsg of homesickness spurred on by a visit to the holodeck, the "clerk" finally reveals himself to be one Admiral Jarok, which instantly gives his story a lot more credibility. Initially hesitant to reveal much, if anything, about Romulan secrets, a stern Picard informs Jarok that he has "already made his choice" -- that is, to defect -- and if he really wants to prevent a war between the two quadrant powers, he'd better inform the Enterprise crew of everything he knows.
As the Enterprise ventures into the Neutral Zone towards Nelvana III to check out ambiguous signals which may or may not be what Jarok has revealed, Capt. Picard remains unconvinced. Once it's confirmed there is no base, Picard orders the ship back to Federation space ASAP, but is suddenly confronted by two decloaking Romulan warbirds. Admiral Tomalak mockingly informs Picard that this time it is he who has ventured into the Neutral Zone (the last time the two confronted each was in the episode "The Enemy" where the Enterprise encountered Romulan shenanigans on a planet inside the Neutral Zone). He demands Picard surrender, which is refused. Tomalak pleads for Picard to consider his crew's lives, but again Picard refuses, saying "If the cause is just and honorable, his crew will follow him to their deaths." He then asks Tomalak if he "is prepared to die," to which Tomalak snorts that he expected more than idle threats. Picard then says, "Then you shall have it!" He motions to Worf, and then suddenly three Klingon Birds of Prey decloak around the Romulan vessels! Picard had clandestinely prepared for just this eventuality, natch!
Tomalak, totally busted, attempts a measure of saving face, exclaiming "You'll still not survive our assault!" To which Picard responds, "You'll not survive ours. Shall we die together?" Tomalak then nods to Picard and says "I look forward to our next encounter, Captain" and then he and his ships re-cloak and leave.
Despite the satisfying humiliation of Tomalak, Admiral Jarok is crushed. He's thrown his life away for nothing -- the entire thing was an elaborate ruse to ferret out [Romulan] traitors and get revenge on Picard and the Enterprise. The final scene shows Picard entering Jarok's quarters where he is tending to by Dr. Crusher. Jarok has committed suicide, but he left behind a letter with hopes that one day, if peace is established between the Federation and Romulans, his family will be able to read it.
Of course, this is impossible now, since the 2009 Star Trek reboot film establishes that Romulus is destroyed in Trek continuity proper. I wonder if a future film (or TV series) will return to the "main" Trek timeline.
... has debuted:
... and I thoroughly enjoyed it. When it first hit theatres, there was a big controversy over (and I don't think I'm giving anything away here, now) Superman killing General Zod at the climactic battle's end. I personally don't have an issue with how it all panned out, but then again I am not as versed in Superman lore as I am with that of many Marvel characters.
Nevertheless, it has been established that Supes has killed before, and that it caused him great torment afterwards. In Superman vol. 2 #22, Supes executed an alternate-universe Zod, along with his two cohorts (basically the same trio as that seen in the film Superman II) after they obliterated an alternate-Earth. Superman could take the chance that the trio would do the same to our planet, and so took the fatal action. I first learned about this incident in the TPB Superman vs. Aliens, of all things. Supes' despair over his actions was referenced because he was (at first) reluctant to kill any of the [Alien] xenomorphs he had encountered on a desolate asteroid.
In MoS, it is clear that Kal-El is in [spiritual] agony after snapping Zod's neck (see above), shown by his tears and bellowing scream following his fateful action. And just like the situation in the comcbook referenced above, Zod had vowed never to give up -- give up trying to destroy Earth -- as long as he lived. For me, killing Zod was the only alternative. There certainly wasn't any place to imprison him, given that the Phantom [Zone] space drives were all just destroyed.
There's certainly stuff to be nitpicky about in MoS, but I thoroughly enjoyed the film. I think it provides a more realistic situation with the [human] population coming to realize that there's a nigh-omnipotent alien living in their midst. Henry Cavill as Clark/Supes is excellent -- he's built like Hugh Jackman, and a better actor than Brandon Routh (Superman Returns). The distrust of the US government regarding Supes is very much like that of the truly excellent Superman: Secret Identity written by Kurt Busiek. In it, Supes just wants to be left alone, to live in peace and raise his family, and to help out humanity when he can. But the government hounds him, and he eventually has to come to an agreement with some higher-ups to have his persecution cease.
The Kryptonian backstory was very well done, with notable homages to the classic 1978 and 1981 films. I thought the planet's 100,000 year interstellar history was reminiscent of Zenn-La's -- home of the Norrin Radd, aka the Silver Surfer. Both civilizations journeyed the stars and planted their flag on thousands of worlds ... only to get bored and return home to live a risk-averse life of comfort and plenty.
I certainly look forward to the follow-up, which is supposed to feature both Superman and Batman.
Geez, ya'd think what with the way guys like Ron Marz, Dan Slott and Tom Brevoort were all high and mighty about what people asked regarding the new [Muslim] Ms. Marvel, the company would be more sensitive. Guess not:
A Hindu group has called on ABC to apologize following an episode of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. that suggested the god Vishnu, like the hero Thor, might be an alien.
In the Nov. 19 episode, which tied into the events of Thor: The Dark World, Agent Coulson (Clark Gregg) and hacker Skye (Chloe Bennett) have an exchange designed to deliver exposition about the Asgardians, who in the Marvel Universe are ancient aliens who were mistaken for gods when they visited Earth thousands of years ago. “Do you think other deities are aliens, too?” Skye asks. “Vishnu for sure, right?”
Normally this would be a non-story despite what the group thinks (it later states that it "believes in free speech, but..."), but considering the ridiculously PC nature and rabid manner in which many of the company's creators go after any fan (or non-fan) who dares utter something critical of their characters, creators or stories, I frankly hope this ruckus kicks them in their pompous asses.
That said, Universal Society of Hinduism? Get a life. And I'm certain just about any other religious group, Christian included, would have objected had the actors referenced their religion. I doubt, however, that Marvel would have been brave enough to mention a Muslim deity or figure since to do that would have brought on death threats. Hindus aren't known for doing that sort of thing. (Just recall MSNBC's Lawrence O'Donnell's remarks regarding criticizing the "right" religion.)
Here: The Boycott on Normalcy.
... if he means it. The comic writer on CBR today:
There are likely people who will avoid my work because of this column. There are certainly those who already do so because I don't hide my convictions or my politics on Twitter. And that's fine. Orson Scott Card didn't hide his beliefs either. This is what I'm doing about it.
Isn't that big of him? It's "fine" if you skip his work because of his obnoxiousness on Twitter. What a guy. But at least (on paper) he doesn't have a beef if you say "F*** you" to him by thumbing your nose at his product. And as we've noted here ad nauseam, there's plenty of reason to do just that if you're right-of-center with your politics. For instance, he tweets
So yet another "bad guy with a gun" was stopped by trained, armed law-enforcement officials, not some yahoo with a concealed-carry permit.— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) November 2, 2013
In other words, you who believe in gun rights should "STFU" because we have people like those in the TSA to defend us.
His column is on Orson Scott Card, by the way, whose Ender's Game just hit theatres. Card, as you may recall, isn't particularly fond of gay rights.
UPDATE: As pointed out in the comments section by Andrew, Marz's fellow (and much better) writer Peter David takes him to task for his column. I can't say I agree 100% with David, but he's spot on regarding the radical left and their boycotts and [political] pressure.
UPDATE 3: Marz has finally opined on the ObumbleCare disaster -- and it's the GOP's fault! But of course!
Remember: "There are certainly those who already do so because I don't hide my convictions or my politics on Twitter. And that's fine."
It sure is.
That's what Comic Book Resources' Brett White ponders. His beef is multi-fold, and even tosses in a neat little PC nugget to assuage the contemporary audience:
They're hitting Christopher Nolan-level dramatic highs to prove to everyone turned off by the super-silliness of those two films that things are different now. But that course correction involves moody lightning, slow motion pain faces, and grandiosely somber music -- three things that just don't get me as excited as Anthony Mackie's Falcon going head-to-head with a plane mid-air.
The older I get, though, the more I realize that I have very specific ideas of what I want from the X-Men. I find it hard to relate to what younger fans want, and I am not that enthralled with what director Bryan Singer wants to give me. At what point was it decided that the central characters of the entire X-Men film franchise would be Wolverine, Professor X, and Magneto? The three oldest, whitest dudes in the entire canon? It feels like I'm 8 years old again and all I want are some X-Men action figures -- but my parents bought me the old good guy who doesn't fight, the bad guy who makes speeches and controls metal, and the angry guy that's filled with metal. While I have to appreciate the fact that I have these toys, because otherwise I'd be a brat, I have to admit I wouldn't mind having a few more, maybe Rogue or Storm or Gambit.
Brett's problem is that he is thinking precisely like a fan-boy. Which is OK, certainly, but one cannot seriously maintain that manner while pondering a cinematic version of great comics. A couple points:
I could care less if there is little superhero action in DOFP. I just want a damn good story, like the way Claremont and Byrne told it. If Singer can get close to that, I'll be happy.
Remember, this flick is supposed to tie all the X-films together. If it does that without making me laugh and tells a great story, it'll be a hit.
Bleeding Cool has it.
It looks like someone had the "brilliant" idea to "up the ante" from the first; however, that's hard to do. The original (from 2005) was an extremely well done suspense/horror flick about a deranged serial killer who preys upon tourists in the Aussie Outback. It takes a really good horror film to suck me in; Wolf Creek did just that. John Jarratt is eerily creepy as the madman.
And I see my main question about the [original] story has been answered ...!
I happened -- purely by accident, but I'm glad -- to catch this PBS program last evening, and even for a well-seasoned comics guy, I thought it was quite entertaining. It's divided into three parts, basically dividing the Comics Age into their three main segments: Golden, Silver and Bronze Age. I know less about the Golden Age than the others, and learned quite a few neat tidbits about it. For instance, at one point, 70 million comics were sold around World War II. At the time, that was half the American population! And, for GIs fighting abroad, comics were their reading material of choice!
I didn't enjoy the Silver Age as much, mainly because I knew just about everything presented. What was cool, however, were the "insider" nuggets offered up by guys like Jim Steranko (Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD) and Neal Adams during their stints in the late 60s and early 70s. Adams' recounting of a DC editor telling him and writer Denny O'Neil that he wanted Green Arrow and Green Lantern together in their own book -- because they both had "green" in their names -- was hysterical.
I fell asleep during the Bronze Age-present segment, but I'm certain I didn't miss much. The previews leading up to it showed a lot from the comicbook films from the last thirteen years or so, and I read that the "bubble" of the 1990s was discussed.
The entire program is available for free for a limited time at the link above.
... and was underwhelmed. While I can appreciate the myriad homages to the classic 1982 Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, the story was pretty unoriginal and included way too much consipracy nonsense that writer Roberto Orci dabbles in.
*Sigh* I really don't have much to add from what I wrote here, despite then not having seen the film. One thing stuck out at me: If the film's message was supposed to be so ... "anti-military" (Admiral Marcus' clandestine attempts via Section 31 to prepare for war against the Klingons is the "real" bad guy), then why are Starfleet personnel now decked out in overtly Nazi-esque gray uniforms, complete with hats? Oh yeah, right -- maybe that's precisely it. Yeesh. And that ending? Kirk's speech about "not getting revenge?" Cheeyeah. Got it. "We created Khan and co. just like we 'created' al Qaeda/bin Laden/Muslim fundies." Or something.
If there was a need for the gratuitous "real Trek universe" Spock appearance ("new universe" Spock summons him for info on Khan), then why couldn't he also have filled in 'ol pointy ears about the Klingons, hmm? That Admiral Marcus was spot-on -- conflict with the Klingons was inevitable??
Newsarama has the hype.
Although Star Trek is best known these days as a film franchise, could a return to its first medium – television – be in the works? Could be.
Sky News reporter Joe Michalczuk tweeted on October 8 that during a press junket for the film Ender’s Game, Star Trek co-writer/producer Robert Orci told him that the franchise’s producers had met with CBS to do a new Star Trek television series. Neither Michalczuk or Sky News have published a formal article elaborating on this and Orci hasn’t made any public comment on his own, so this second-hand statement can be seen as a potential, but unconfirmed report.
This contradicts an earlier report that said JJ Abrams claimed CBS said it was not interested in a new Trek TV series.
Of course, there's no indication of just what the series would be about. It's highly unlikely that much -- or all -- of the "rebooted" universe cast would be willing to move to the small screen. And contrary to comments I have seen here and there, the "real" Star Trek universe does still exist. That supernova which [ridiculously] "threatened the galaxy" (as noted by "real" Spock in the 2009 reboot film) only annihilated Romulus, as far as we know. Spock stopped further destruction from occurring via the enigmatic red matter. Thus, there's a plethora of stories that could be done in what seems to be a popular idea: An anthology-style series.
Consider the possibilities: Episodes detailing the changes in the quadrant after Romulus' destruction. How Section 31 has influenced the Federation. Stories about the Dominion War. Episodes dealing with Starfleet Academy. io9 has some intriguing ideas in this thread.
Ace notes a few nuggets I had never known about Gene Roddenberry and his beloved Star Trek. Like, Gene never dug the idea for the best of all the Trek films, The Wrath of Khan. He did not want Spock to die at the end (OK, I can dig that), but he also had an issue with the "paramilitary" aspect of the film. Uhh, what? Hey dude, what about all those original series episodes featuring, y'know, Klingons ad Romulans which the Enterprise (and Starfleet) had to fight? Gene also wanted a plot he had pushed for years to be used: The 1701 going back to 1963 to the time of the Kennedy Assassination. This, in a movie.
OK, so let's consider this: Would Kirk and co. thwart Lee Harvey Oswald? What could you do that wouldn't make the flick hopelessly political? Would Roddenberry take an Oliver Stone-like tact and have the Enterprise discover Oswald wasn't really the shooter? If not, what would happen in the altered timeline? Would JFK end the Vietnam War before it really got rolling? Would the turmoil and social unrest of the late 1960s be no more?
No, to all of the above.
Like in what is considered the best episode of the original series, "City on the Edge of Forever," Kirk and crew would have had to ensure Kennedy's death to preserve the timeline. (Recall that in "Forever," Kirk and Spock had to "undo" McCoy's saving of Edith Keeler [Joan Collins] to prevent the Nazis from ultimately winning World War II.) The plot indeed used the Guardian of Forever from that episode. After "losing ships to V'Ger" (Star Trek: The Motion Picture), some Klingons discover the Guardian, and use it to jaunt back to 1963. Somehow, preventing JFK's assassination results in the Klingons dominating our portion of the galaxy by the 23rd century. (I'd love to hear the explanation for that.) William Shatner noted that the plot's climax "would find Spock standing on a grassy knoll in Dallas, firing that infamous `phantom shot'... thereby guaranteeing a brighter future for all of mankind." The film also would have included Kirk vociferously trying to persuade Kennedy about his mission, and the president touring the Enterprise. Paramount nixed the idea, obviously. I mean, preventing the death of one of the country's most popular leaders leads to a dystopic future? That wouldn't exactly have sat well with a lot of Americans.
Roddenberry apparently was distraught at the rejection; he tried to get the plot approved for ST III and then ST IV, but no dice. (Ironically, ST IV involved time travel, but instead of allowing JFK to be killed, Kirk saved a couple of whales.)
Hey, I'm a huge time travel fan, and I have to admit I kind of like this idea. The problem with it is (was), it certainly wasn't original. "City of the Edge of Forever" was way too similar -- Kirk having to allow a death, and a very unpopular one at that, to preserve the timeline. No doubt it would have been Trek-gastic to see Kirk and Kennedy chum around and the latter strolling through the Enterprise, but as noted above, how would the Klingons know that allowing JFK to live would ensure their dominance some 300 years later? If anything, it seems like his death logically would result in that as the former president was very pro-space program. Kennedy's challenge to land on the moon by the end of the 60s was met despite his death in 1963; does anyone think it wouldn't have been had he lived?
From Cracked: Four Famous People Who Have No Clue How to Handle Criticism.
The "military thriller" novelist is dead at age 66. Of his work, I'll best remember his Red Storm Rising as it came out my senior year of college and I skipped a few classes to finish the damn thing. It was that good. (It's about a hypothetical World War III scenario ... but would come off as "dated" now, I'd wager.)
Titled "Age of Ultron," natch:
Last night was the long-awaited debut of Marvel's Agents of SHIELD on ABC. While it was good, it certainly wasn't great. It was definitely formulaic, clichéd, and predictable, but it had its moments.
*Agent Coulson. Of course, there's a ton of speculation about how he survived Loki's death stroke in The Avengers. Or, did he? Ron Glass's character Dr. Streiten (Glass played Harris in the 1970s sitcom Barney Miller -- how many of you knew that?) brought up the most significant point regarding that, leading me to conclude that Coulson is ... an LMD -- Life Model Decoy. Also, for me, Coulson's humorous side in Agents didn't really jibe with his [very] serious demeanor in the Marvel films.
*The gadgets. This is what SHIELD is all about, natch. It was great to see they pulled no punches when it came to such.
*Ming-Na Wen's Melinda May. She's probably the best actor on the show, and as such drastically assists the show's gravitas. We know there's something in her past that discomforts her, and she wears that burden "well," so to speak.
*The connections. Not only were there myriad mentions of the Iron Man films and The Avengers most especially, but hat tips to the comics, as well. Tell me you didn't know the SHIELD flying car wasn't going to pop up at some point? (The effects were too cheesy, though.)
*Agent Coulson. There were as many negatives as positives regarding Clark Gregg's character. As mentioned, he seemed out of character from that of the films. Some of his dialogue seemed forced, and again, the humor seemed too out of place, even though there's certainly room there for it.
*The Brit twins. Sorry, but give me the Gaffer any day over these mewling twits. (That's right -- I meant twits, not twins.)
*Chloe Bennet's Skye. If she's this annoying already, I worry 'bout the future. Plus, as Bleeding Cool notes, how does an anarchist hacker who lives in her van look so good?
*Beware plot convolution. I always worry that a show like this will devolve into what became of Lost, Battlestar Galactica and/or The X-Files. In other words, logic-defying plot ideas, complete nonsense, and/or ties to other episodes that make no sense or are completely ignored. I never really watched Lost so I cannot speak to that personally, but I know many folks who hated what became of it. Regarding BSG you may have read my many posts about it. And as for X-Files, even with the two films you still gotta be going "WTF???"
Of course, I'll stick with it (hey, I did with Falling Skies, after all, for a season), but if the BAD above occur, I'll be saying "see 'ya" very soon.
UPDATE: Noted SHIELD creator Jim Steranko rips the show's premiere.
Carl sends me word of the latest issue of Daredevil whose writer, Mark "Go F*** Yourself" Waid, has included a brief Trayvon Martin allegory. But first, just so you know Waid's mindset on that whole deal, let's go back to the time of the George Zimmerman verdict:
Zimmerman initiated the conflict. That is the bottom line. Had he done what 911 TOLD him to do, that kid would be alive today. Full stop.— Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 14, 2013
Remember, it's Racism Savings Time tonight. Don't forget to set your clock back 60 years before you go to bed.— Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 14, 2013
@AcidAttack89 Agreed system is flawed, but if races were reversed in this case, defendant would be on death row right now.— Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 14, 2013
And, of course, there were the typical "come backs" by Waid to those who dared to question his tweets on the issue, such as:
It's times like these that you get to see just how many of your followers are racists.— Mark Waid (@MarkWaid) July 14, 2013
And there's plenty more where they came from. *Sigh*
So now we have Daredevil #31 where DD is fighting against ... the Sons of the Serpent?? This shows you how pitifully desperate Waid is to keep his ridiculous NarrativeTM alive. The SoS have been around since Marvel's earliest days. They're a -- wait for it! -- white supremacist group! But, y'see, Marvel's earliest days weren't exactly great days for American blacks. The Civil Rights movement was still in its infancy, after all. (One of the SoS's earliest appearances was in the pages of The Avengers where they went after Giant Man's [black] assistant, Bill Foster, who later assumed the role of Goliath himself using Pym's growth-changing formula.) But that doesn't matter one iota. They're a perfect way for Waid to make his "point" about Trayvon Martin in 2013! After all, we know how widespread and numerous white supremacist organizations are these days, right? I mean, other comicbook writers have told us so, too. There was Ed Brubaker in Captain America, and even Rob Liefeld in the same title.
Here's the panels from the issue of Daredevil in question. Now granted, when Carl tipped me to this, I was expecting a bit more. The whole Sons of Serpent stuff is just one of a few plots that Waid is juggling around here. But in these two panels, look at what Waid says. The "suspicious-looking Black teenager" line is patently obvious (and notice he adopts the PC capitalization of the word "black"), but notice the others -- the defendant is an "entitled society harpy" with a "long and recorded history" of racism, and the black teenager who was shot was an honor student who happened to be tutoring another kid. Of course, the only real connection to the Zimmerman/Martin matter is the line "suspicious-looking Black teenager." To me, it's a good bet Waid is counting on people making that obvious link, and then hopefully buying the rest of the "connections," which actually happen to be total bullsh**. George Zimmerman certainly ain't "entitled," nor is he a member of the hoi polloi. (And, he's not even white.) And Trayvon Martin wasn't an honor student who tutored other kids. (Ironically, it was Zimmerman who did that.)
Oliver Sava at AV Club says the above
... is a great way for Waid to explore a major theme of the series in a different context. Fear is an essential part of Daredevil’s character, and Waid’s plot looks at fear on a broader scale as New York City citizens rebel against a justice system that has betrayed them. This anger is bred out of fear that the system in place is no longer serving the best interests of the public, and all it takes is the smallest spark to turn that fear into a raging fire.
Which makes sense. Waid didn't necessarily have to get all the facts about the Zimmerman case right to make the [supposed] larger point that Sava notes above. The problem is, in the Zimmerman case, the justice system (and the mainstream media, natch) had a bias against Zimmerman from the very beginning. From constantly referring to Zimmerman as a "white Hispanic" to completely ignoring cases that mirrored his (with the races reversed), the verdict then led to preposterous yammerings like "Keep your black/boys inside, now!" as if white-on-black racist killings and a crooked justice system are today akin to those of 1950s Mississippi. The sad fact is that young men like Trayvon Martin have much more to fear from other teenagers ... who look like him. But just don't bring that up to Waid, though. Besides referring to you as a "racist," he may shout something like this.
Alas, this is all totally predictable. Waid, like other comicbook "geniuses" Erik Larsen, Ron Marz, Dan Slott, and, regrettably, Kurt Busiek, lives in an insulated bubble, a product of northeast urban liberalism which essentially deifies certain narratives. And, again, the comicook fan has to ask him/herself: "If this guy feels the way he does about my cultural and political beliefs, then why the f*** should I turn my hard-earned money over to him?" The answer is you shouldn't. But it is your choice, of course. I chose long ago not to part with any cash to purchase something by someone who vociferously trashes my political (and other) beliefs. It's perfectly natural, after all. Waid and other "progressives" do it all the time. Just ask Orson Scott Card, among many others.
Avi over at FCMM has more.
... let's jump on rapper A$AP Rocky who committed the sin of standing an "awkward distance" from gay NBA player Jason Collins when the duo introduced the next act at the MTV Video Music Awards, and appeared to make "mocking facial expressions" toward him. Philly.com's Gabrielle Bonghi writes that A$AP's actions "sparked outrage of all kinds on the internet."
But of course. But the PC Police and radical multicultis are once again in a bind. They're outraged at the rapper's supposed homophobia; however, he is a minority, so they cannot show too much outrage at him.
Also, here's a good question for 'ya: what's more shocking: A rapper being homophobic, or being charged with assault?
Thanks to a tip from my comics pal Carl, I say THE question is: Think there would be an outcry if a popular movie's writer was a known Obama Birther?? Cheeyeah ....
The writer in question is Roberto Orci. It seems Orci has a reputation on Twitter (and elsewhere) as a conspiracy theorist, specifically about the aforementioned Sept. 11 terror attacks. It shouldn't come as much of a surprise that someone who believes such is ... "socially accepted" enough to gain a position as a writer of one of Hollywood's biggest franchises. And not only that, but actually write such conspiracy mongering into his scripts. If you have't already seen it, Into Darkness is very much a 9/11 [Truther] parable. You can check out our past summary of the flick here.
Now, imagine if Orci were a Birther ... and Into Darkness included a sub-plot about Admiral Barnett not being actually born on a Federation planet, thus being ineligible to be the head of Starfleet Academy. What do you think the media would say, then? Orci would be denounced as a complete lunatic, much like what Orson Scott Card has faced with his comicbook writing, and most recently with his film Ender's Game. With the mainstream media (and Hollywood), it's very simple: Trutherism = good, Birtherism = bad.
UPDATE: Carl has more here, including why Orci deleted his Twitter account, and an interesting tidbit regarding Ender's Game.
The consumption of media is changing. Kevin Spacey is at the forefront of that change. He knows that the customer is the ultimate driver and the Big Content managers can only fight against that tide for so long before they have to change. Netflix (and Mr. Spacey) are ahead of the industry in meeting that need. "Form factor" is big industry buzzword and so is "platform agnostic". Both mean that the means of consumption (i.e. viewing) of the movie/tv show should be ignored. What matters is "engagement". That is, how loyal is your audience, how well can you measure them and ultimately, can you sell to them? A show like House of Cards is way too smart for major networks. It is deft and assumes you have a brain which is anathema to the major networks. Methinks this is going to be the new normal in fairly short order.
The comics and entertainment world is abuzz with word that Ben Affleck will be the new Batman in the Man of Steel sequel. I read many "HUH??s" on Facebook and Twitter last night, but overall I think [nutty-but-right-in-this-case] comicbook guy Erik Larsen's tweet pretty much sums it up:
Mr. Mom played Batman. Think about that. Ben Affleck is certainly a less controversial choice than Michael Keaton. Sheesh.— Erik Larsen (@ErikJLarsen) August 23, 2013
Indeed. Think about how nuts everyone went when it was announced that Keaton was playing the Dark Knight. And hell, Affleck's already played a superhero. And apparently, I'm one of the few that thought Daredevil wasn't all that bad.
But so what? (Warning: Rambling rant to follow):
Despite what the film's director and star Matt Damon claim, the movie is very political. But, much of it's just stupid political if you ask me. As you may have heard by now, "Elysium" is the name of the huge space station orbiting Earth and home to the very richest of the planet's [former] citizens. These folks essentially can live forever thanks to the pinnacle of modern medical technology. Just don't ask how this tech works, however. I had to guffaw when bad guy Sharlto Copley's disintegrated lower skull was instantly rematerialized in one of these medical pods. C'mahn.
You're sure to ask just how this tech is so miraculous ... when even those on Elysium are still using alpha-numeric keyboards and large screen LC monitors or their computers, for one thing. It's supposed to be 2154, after all. That's over 130 years from now, dammit. Consider where we were 130 years ago and then tell me we'll still be using such tech for computers. Not to mention, given the year, why the hell were there 1970s model automobiles on the streets of the dilapidated Los Angeles? 1970s!! I mean, really? The poor residents of LA couldn't use makeshift 2110 model cars? Even 2080 models?? I know that director Neill Blomkamp wanted to give the city a sort of "Cuba" feel -- like how cubanos have to make do with revamping old 1950s-era American automobiles among other tech -- but this just goes too far.
But, after all, those are just scifi nits. The big question is, how the hell did the world situation come about that gave us this ritzy space station, and the ridiculously poverty-stricken planet below? All of LA looks like Rio de Janeiro's favelas, even once-modern downtown with its skyscrapers and all. Blomkamp wants us to analogize the situation to the US-Mexico relationship, or even the Western world to the Third World in general. We see "illegals" taking off from LA in a desperate attempt to reach Elysium to make use of a medical pod. The pod won't work, however, unless you have a tattoo of an Elysium citizen. (Get it? Green card, Social Security card, etc.) For some reason, the citizens of Elysium refuse to share the miraculous medical tech with Earth. At all. Really. I mean, one damn medical pod can instantly heal anything and any number of people, yet Elysium refuses to even loan one out. (I guess this is supposed to be analogous to the dastardly pharmaceutical cos. not giving free drugs to poor nations.)
Poor Matt Damon, who's accidentally irradiated at work and hence has but five days to live, is merely given a few pain pills to ease his agony. Such sets in motion the main plot: Damon will somehow get to the space station and heal himself. I won't offer up any spoilers from here on out, but my question remains: How could such a situation come about? Elysium ruled Earth with an authoritarian fist, via their robotic police force. It would have taken many years -- decades, at least -- to construct such a station; did the "evil" one percent manage to build it all ... by deception? Perhaps with a promise that anyone could venture to live there sometime?
Blomkamp certainly isn't the first to relay such a message. In the 1970s we saw the likes of Soylent Green (starring Chuck Heston) and Rollerball (starring James Caan) where wealthy corporate types have control of the world and care not much about anything but themselves. In the former, the Soylent corporation begins making food out of people after it, and many other corporations, have essentially trashed the planet's ecology. In Rollerball, nations' borders are defined by which major corporation is HQ'd there, and the public is kept placated by ultra-violent "sports" like the film's title.
"Progressives" will champion Blomkamp's vision; however, the important thing to consider is just how and why certain countries are successful ... and others aren't. The same "progressives" will clamor that the US (like other developed nations) has basically "robbed its way to prosperity" from the very beginning, starting with the Native Americans. Certainly, a chunk of this has merit, but not nearly to the degree "progressives" would have us all believe. This isn't the post to now delve into all such reasons; just consider what I noted above, and then ask yourself to what degree countries like ours obligated to help others less developed. And how.
By way of the inimitable Nate Winchester comes word of a new ... novel that purports to be something of a "case study" of what would happen if the Religious Right ever got its way. It's called Christian Nation and, well, you can just guess at the usual "progressive" clichés:
Christian Nation is a work of speculative political fiction, arising from the counterfactual of a McCain/Palin victory in 2008 followed soon after by McCain’s sudden death and Sarah Palin’s ascension to the presidency.
When the book opens, eight years have passed since the Holy War ended in victory for the fundamentalist Christian forces. Americans live in bondage to a comprehensive authoritarian law called The Blessing, enforced by a totally integrated digital world known as the Purity Web.
Yeesh. As a big fan of alternate history, I believe the single biggest factor involved in establishing an alternate reality is the plausibility. So, how exactly did Palin manage to pull all this off?
Struggling with perspective and memory, the memoirist recounts the country’s long slow descent to religious authoritarianism, propelled by economic distress, a second major terrorist attack, and the fanatical ambitions of an extremist evangelical minority.
Oh, I see. So after another radical Muslim terror attack (which kills substantially more than 9/11, FWIW), we traded what those fundies wanted ... for what other fundies wanted. Got it.
Interestingly, Nate mentioned to me that this whole premise makes an interesting addendum to our post about Orson Scott Card, which soooo irritated the [comicbook] Left with its fantasies about Boss Obama creating a national police of disaffected "urban youth" ... even though Obama actually stated a desire to create a civilian "security" force some years earlier. Can someone point to me where Sarah Palin has indicated where she wanted to create a fundamentalist Christian government here in the United States?
Hilariously, the irony of some of the reviews put up at the book's website seems to have escaped the author/publisher. For instance,
Though McCain did not win the 2008 election, in recent years controversial actions like drone strikes, invasions of privacy and unlawful detainment have been condoned in part due to greater worries over terrorism. So it’s not for us to say, “It can’t happen here.” This disturbing book argues that much of it already has.
Uh, helLO?? And just which administration has done that?? The irony that is completely missed by the author via his HAL-9000esque (thanks, Ace) dialogue is beyond head-scratching. He has his protagonists pondering how the Right would completely overlook "their self-proclaimed values and their own interests" in order to get power ... and that if Obama had won in 2008 this same Right would be "screaming bloody murder" if he took the same measures that President Palin did. Apparently author Fred Rich must exist in the reality in which his novel is set. After all, in our reality it's the Left which was screaming bloody murder about George W. Bush's methods of fighting the War on Terror -- for seven long years -- but now that "their own" inhabits the White House, these very same measures, and much, much more, are EMBRACED by the Left. Or, at least, their complaints are kept very mute. And why is that? Yep: They're overlooking "their self-proclaimed values and their own interests" in order to get (and maintain) power.
At least the Kirkus Reviews blurb knows precisely what the book's intended purpose is: "Dystopian, wonkish fun for the Maddow set.”
Even more gut-busting hilarity ensues at Ace's, where he dissects the stodgy -- and ridiculous -- dialogue (or, as Ace calls it, "Compelling and Realistic Simulacrum of Human Speech") of the book. Be sure to read this one all the way through. It'll make your day for sure. But before all that, Ace has the money quote: "When Alex Jones prattles on about this, the right goofs on him; when 'Frederic Rich,' leftist fantasist extraordinaire does, W.W. Norton books says 'Let's publish that.'"
Oh, Ace also bets that the terror attacks in the novel actually were not enacted by Muslim fundies, but by some Christian militiamen framing Muslim fundies. Because that's how the fringe "progressive" Left rolls, after all. It's the same 35-some percent that believes G.W. Bush orchestrated/knew about 9/11, y'know.
Here's USA Today's review of the book. And here's a [very cheesy] video summarizing the story:
The vid includes a blurb comparing Nation to Philip Roth's The Plot Against America. Uh huh. Aside from the fact both are alternate history, that's where any and all similarities end. Remember what I said about "plausibility." I liked this comment about the video (at YouTube): "I'm an atheist and I found this ridiculous and idiotic."
I'm always fascinated by those who "warn" about a Far-Right Christian takeover of America. I really -- and I've tried! -- cannot fathom how such could realistically (key word) come about. Lefty scifi author Joe Haldeman's novel The Accidental Time Machine (which I liked a lot, by the way) unfortunately spent a lot of time on a future America ruled by a similar regime found in Nation. I had to laugh at the premise. Tom Kratman's Caliphate approaches the same American society from a bit of a different angle: radical Muslim attacks against the US leads to Islam basically becoming illegal in the country, and the world geopolitical breakdown includes a US "empire" which encompasses all the Americas, and Muslim caliphate presiding over Europe and much of Asia. Though seemingly more plausible than Haldeman's scenario, I still couldn't buy many of the actions taken by the future US and especially the Muslim domination of Europe as if those countries' majorities would just sit still and meekly accept their new overlords.
At any rate, expect to see Christian Nation proferred about by many of the usual suspects as "insightful," "prophetic," and "realistically frightening." Which, of course, it's anything but.
He's (at left) been in the news in recent months first because he was slated to write a Superman tale (which was delayed due to the outcry), and lately because his classic scifi novel Ender's Game will soon be out as a major film. These instances had to deal with the controversy of Card being vehemently anti-gay.
Despite my (and other comics bloggers') posts either defending Card from boycotts or (more in my own case) pointing out the hypocrisy of the boycotters, I believe it safely can be stated that Card is pretty much a nut. A big nut. If calling for a revolution if gay rights continue to expand in the US wasn't enough for you, maybe this is:
Where will he (Obama) get his "national police"? The NaPo will be recruited from "young out-of-work urban men" and it will be hailed as a cure for the economic malaise of the inner cities.
In other words, Obama will put a thin veneer of training and military structure on urban gangs, and send them out to channel their violence against Obama's enemies.
Instead of doing drive-by shootings in their own neighborhoods, these young thugs will do beatings and murders of people "trying to escape" -- people who all seem to be leaders and members of groups that oppose Obama.
Really? Really? Card thinks Boss Obama will actually be able to cull a "national police force" out of disaffected urban youth" to act as his personal ... gang? Even [ridiculously] allowing for the fact that if Obama wanted to do such -- how would he manage to do it?
This is 9/11 Truther territory, folks. But the problem with the contemporary comics world, though, is that they put out comics about the "truth" regarding 9/11, whereas views like Card's are in desperate need of Maoist re-education. Thus, I don't give much more than a shrug to the screaming and yelling from comics creators (and fans) about Card's nuttery.
UPDATE: As Nate notes in the comments, Card, in his original article, states that his is just a "silly thought experiment" and that he wasn't serious about it. But -- he also then writes
It isn't my work as a writer of science fiction and fantasy that prepares me to write about unlikely events. My job in writing sci-fi is to make impossible events seem not just possible but likely. Inevitable.
I admit this is one of the rare instances I didn't go to check out the original source material (which was linked to in critical article I linked to originally); however, while I agree that Card's "disclaimer" lessens the impact of his lengthy treatise, as noted he qualifies such enough throughout to get a reader wondering.
The former, whose highly regarded Ender's Game will shortly be released as a major motion picture starring Harrison Ford, is anathema to Hollywood types and is the subject of a rather large boycott effort. Why? As we've noted here several times, Card is a Mormon and outspoken opponent of homosexuality. Polanski is a highly regarded film director and producer who just happened to have brutally raped a 13 year-old girl in 1977. He subsequently fled the country and hasn't returned since. He was rewarded for this with myriad awards, including Academy Awards.
Angie Hartley pretty much nails it:
In 1977, Roman Polanski pleaded guilty to raping then 13-year-old Samantha Geimer inside the home of Jack Nicholson. Before his sentencing, he fled the country and has not returned to this day.
Geimer, who is releasing a memoir in September about the attack, has expressed forgiveness of Polanski. In 2003, when her attacker was nominated for an Academy Award, she wrote in the L.A. Times:
I believe that Mr. Polanski and his film should be honored according to the quality of the work. What he does for a living and how good he is at it have nothing to do with me or what he did to me. I don't think it would be fair to take past events into consideration. I think that the academy members should vote for the movies they feel deserve it. Not for people they feel are popular.
If people including Samantha Geimer can look past the wrongs of Roman Polanski, why can't we also ignore the crazy bantering of Orson Scott Card? For gay rights activists, the crime Orson Scott Card committed isn't really a legal offense, but the wound is very fresh. It's wise to do whatever they can to bring attention to their cause, but it might be a bit of a stretch to reject a film with so many well-intentioned contributors for just one crazy, old sci-fi writer. Still, for a group like Geeks OUT, it means a lot to have so many science-fiction fans standing against something they might otherwise hold sacred.
I'm sure Hartley knows that the issue is a fundamental difference between "progressives" and classical liberals (modern conservatives). The former want to eradicate the latter, not just debate/argue with it. To the former, there are certain issues which, if violated, are much worse than actual crimes like Polanski's. Orson Scott Card's "violation" is one such example: Being an outspoken advocate against the gay agenda. But anally raping a minor? Yeah, it may have been rape, "but it wasn't 'rape-rape,'" in the words of Whoopi Goldberg. Hell, we see this with our current administration and, of course, the mainstream media, too. Boss Obama and company tiptoe around [accurate] terminology like "War on Terror," "Radical Islamists" and the like, but there's never any vacillation when it comes to using harsh language against domestic political and cultural opponents. Never. (Here's a recent example. Here's another.)
To be sure, I abhor Card's past screeds against gays and find his recommendations quite dangerous if there were actually any way to implement them. And, I've no problem with any group or individual who wishes to nix seeing Ender's Game because of this. Or, any group or individual who wishes to boycott anything out of some strong conviction. But DON'T pretend that you modern "progressives" and Hollywood types occupy some moral high ground. Because you don't. Not at all. Even on iota. You make excuses for people like Roman Polanski, praise him, and bestow awards upon him. He RAPED a 13 year-old girl!
I'll never forget the one Academy Awards show (it was 1999 -- I just checked) when the Academy [remarkably] gave Elia Kazan a Lifetime Achievement Award. Why do I say "remarkably?" Because in one non-hypocritical moment, Hollywood bestowed an honor on a guy who was/is a cultural enemy. Kazan had named names back in the day -- Communists in Hollywood during the so-called "Red Scare" of the early 1950s. During the 1999 presentation, many of those in attendance remained seated and silently mouthed opposition. Among those I remember were Nick Nolte and Ed Harris. (One who bucked the trend and even gave a standing O to Kazan was Warren Beatty.) Yep. Those two, and many others, perfectly exemplified the above mentioned "political/cultural" hatred of [fellow American] enemies to a tee. They were still livid at what Kazan did half a century prior, and to which Kazan had stated was "only the more tolerable of two alternatives that were either way painful and wrong." But that doesn't matter to "progressives" in the poli-culture wars.
Always keep this post in the back of your mind the next time a Hollywood type/modern "progressive" lectures us all about some "moral" issue.
As we noted here, the next Avengers [film] villain will be the dreaded mechanoid Ultron. But the powers-that-be have stated that the robot will not be created by Hank Pym, aka Ant Man/Giant Man/Goliath/etc. So, how will Ultron come about? Bleeding Cool offers up some suggestions:
Could J.A.R.V.I.S. be Ultron? Modelled on the brain waves of Tony Stark?
Next, we have the return, somehow of Agent Coulson in Agents Of S.H.I.E.L.D. And there’s a mystery something that “he must never know.”
Is Agent Coulson a Life Model Decoy? Could he be an artificial intelligence.
Could Agent Coulson be Ultron?
Of these, the first one is great possibility in my view. A commenter to the B.C. article offers up this:
I love how all these comics news sites are publishing articles "predicting" that Tony Stark will be Ultron's creator in the movieverse, when Whedon pretty much spelled that out already. (I haven't read where Whedon has alluded to that. -- Hube)
And not a single one of them mentions how the movieverse Iron Man helmet kind of resembles the Ultron helmet, or that having Stark accidentally create Ultron finally gives everyone a reason to put Tony back in the Iron Man suit (once you can control an army of Iron Men from a distance, it'll take a reason like this to explain why Tony would *ever* want to risk his life stepping into an Iron Man armor again; having the AI gain sentience and try to take over the world would certainly make ME think twice about ever allowing an Iron Man suit to leave the house without me again).
Perfectly logical. I'm sold.
Via Screenrant, the biggest news (for me, at least) out of Comic-Con this year is the title of 2015's Avengers sequel: The Avengers: Age of Ultron. Why? Well, frankly, many (most?) consider the evil robot to be Earth's Mightiest's greatest enemy of all-time. He was recently the nemesis in a multi-title Marvel epic, but for me the best tale featuring the dastardly mechanoid is Kurt Busiek and George Pérez's from early volume three Avengers.
Ultron was created by Hank Pym (as seen way back in Avengers vol. 1 #58) and amazingly quickly gained sentience and turned on its creator. Once having escaped, it (he) "evolved" himself, and created the Vision. The idea was to use Vision against the Avengers, but much like Ultron did with Pym, Vizh turned the tables -- and ended up joining the team!
Ultron subsequently has menaced the Avengers many, many times. What has made him so formidable since their first battle is the fact that he managed to steal a supply of adamantium (y'know, the same stuff Wolverine's claws and skeleton are made out of) and "evolve" himself again -- this time with a body made of the stuff (Avengers vol. 1 #66-67). He at one point even managed to infiltrate the so-called "sentient" Iron Man suit. This he was able to do, along with his many other re-creations/rebirths, via to the so-called "Ultron Imperative." In essence, the Imperative is a "suggestion" implanted deep within an electronic/computer system, and at a designated time activates. Then, its victim is compelled, however necessary, to reactivate Ultron.
This movie announcement is also somewhat of a surprise as we saw in the post-credit scene in The Avengers the smirking visage of Thanos. Thus, we expected him to be the bad guy in the sequel. He still may show up, of course (maybe be responsible for activating Ultron?), but it's a lot more doubtful now.
The latest example is Falling Skies, the alien invasion TNT series that is now (if you can believe it) into its third season. io9's Charlie Jane Anders looks into this problem.
I gave up on the show in the middle of season one. Initially, of course, I was all like "Alien invasion series?? Sign me up!!" But sadly, the series quickly degenerated into what we saw in the re-imagined Battlestar Galactica (though, admittedly, with BSG it took roughly three seasons to do so): Nonsense plots in an attempt to "build characters." In Skies' case, it's as Anders says:
But forget about the fact that this show has a yawning gap between the things it tells us are important, versus the things it spends time on. I don't know, thematically, what this show is about — except, in a vague sense, "family is important."
With BSG you know the ship and the fleet are escaping the Cylons and searching for Earth. With Skies you know ... well, I don't have a f***ing clue. Look, I know that TV demands inter-character drama and all, but why can't it be just a tad realistic?? Are we so inundated with a clueless public these days that they'll buy anything?
Who knew? I've written about this -- sort of -- in passing before, but an author who was allowed to "play" in sci-fi legend Isaac Asimov's Foundation/Robot/Empire Universe has expounded upon the theme to a much larger degree. But first, a quick synopsis:
In Asimov's interconnected stories and novels, humans developed positronic robots in the early 21st century. (The film I, Robot pretty much highlights this, and Star Trek: TNG's Data's positronic brain was a big hat tip to Asimov.) As more and more robots took over the work of humans, resentment against the mechanical men grew widespread. On Earth, robots became delegated to doing work well away from humans (usually outside of the huge, domed underground cities -- see The Caves of Steel) while the first wave of interstellar travelers, the so-called "Spacers," made optimum use of them.
Over the course of a few thousand years, the Spacers ended up settling some fifty new worlds, and their societies became heavily dependent upon robot labor. Back on Earth, robots remained despised. Spacer society came to despise the home planet as backward, and Earthlings as even "sub-human." Ironically, it took two of the most advanced Spacer robots ever created to drastically alter this dynamic. For, the Spacer worlds' societies were slowly dying out: Their dependence on robots for just about every aspect of their lives was destroying basic human initiative. Indeed, the typical Spacer had innumerable robots to tend to every conceivable chore: cooking, waiting meals ... even dressing and bathing their masters!
These two robots -- R. Daneel Olivaw and R. Giskard Reventlov (the "R" standing for "Robot") -- devised a plan by which to circumvent the embargo placed upon Earth by the Spacer planets: the "Zeroth Law" of Robotics. This law supercedes the legendary Three Laws of Robotics created by Asimov, and which were deeply embedded into each and every robot ever created. (Well, not exactly every one, but that's a post for another time ...) This law permitted robots to consider the greater good of humanity over that of individual human beings. Olivaw and Reventlov concluded that, if the status quo were allowed to continue, humanity would eventually perish as the Spacer worlds dissolved, and Earth continued its one-planet stagnation. What was needed, they argued, was for Earth to generate a second wave of interstellar settlement -- one without robots. And, one that would depend solely on human drive and initiative.
And this plan was put into effect. But it came at the cost of Earth. After all, as humans always do, people needed an incentive to leave their planet. A mad Spacer had devised a means to eradicate the hated Earthers, and even though the robot Reventlov had discovered the plot, he allowed it to proceed. That "Zeroth Law," after all. This plan would make Earth's crust permanently radioactive, a poision which would only continue to increase, slowly killing out Earth's teeming billions. Except that, with the aid of Daneel and Giskard, Earth's second wave of settlement -- the "Settlers" -- would vacate the planet and spread forth into the Milky Way.
And this they did. Over the course of some twenty thousand years, the Settlers established a Galactic Empire and eventually the Foundation, as depicted in Asimov's Empire and Foundation books. And all without robots. (Except one notable one, of course, as noted here.) Because the fifty Spacer worlds showed what would happen if humans were dependent.
Author Roger MacBride Allen, in his Caliban, probably described in the most intricate detail the effect robot slave labor would have on human society. Allen is the aforementioned author allowed to "play" in Asimov's universe, and his first novel takes place as those "second wave" Settlers are busily spreading through the stars, while the Spacers continue to just hang out on their fifty worlds. One of the Spacer planets, Inferno, is facing ecological ruin, and its inhabitants have to swallow their pride and call in Settler expertise and assistance to literally save their world. The planet's society eventually becomes an uneasy hybrid of Settler and Spacer cultures, with the Settlers constantly attempting to demonstrate that robots are a detriment to human development.
And no person in the novel does that better than Dr. Fredda Leving. Allen uses an academic presentation by her -- to a group of Settlers and Spacers both -- to show just how robots have disintegrated virtually all human drive and initiative. As Caliban's Wiki entry states, "It is her thesis that the superabundance of robotic labor has caused humans to become indolent and nearly incompetent at accomplishing even trivial tasks." Allen does a good job at illustrating this at a personal level, too: though there is a Spacer protest group interrupting Leving's speech and which eventually leads to a riot, these Spacers are shocked at the pain inflicted upon them by rival Settlers during the scuffle ... even the most trivial of injuries are barely withstood by the Spacers -- because they have been completely coddled all their lives by their robot servants.
Does this sound familiar in contemporary society? I believe so. "Progressives" have been successful in cultivating a similar culture of dependency among some of the poorest of our society. No one I know seriously argues that this segment of the population is "well off" or even "very comfortable" like the Spacers in Asimov's books; however, the problem is that too often they are "comfortable enough." They are given (yes, given) just enough have all their needs provided -- food, shelter, and even communication and transportation -- so that the incentive to "go beyond," if you will, decreases or evaporates altogether. And then the so-called "cycle of dependency" slowly becomes entrenched. There's no more "What can I do to better my situation;" instead, it's merely "What can you do for me?" Gone is even the most remote sense of shame about getting any sort of governmental/state assistance; now it's "I'm entitled to it." And people (especially politicians) who attempt to limit such aid, or who may ask for something like, say, means testing, let alone cut off aid, are derided as the devil incarnate. "How dare you?" "Don't you have a heart??" "You're so callous!!" And it's not just individuals. Corporate welfare has a similar effect. With politicians of all stripes in their back pocket(s), and guaranteed markets and/or prices for their products (every wonder why milk and sugar, for example, are so damn expensive?) businesses lose their motivations too.
Human incentive may be the most misunderstood (purposely or otherwise) aspect of our nature, especially by "progressive" academic theorists. Communism, for example, posited that the New Man would be "altruist in spirit, communal in outlook, sacrificial in his labour for the common good." But as economist Bryan Caplan notes,
The classic argument against socialism is that it gives people bad incentives. What’s the point of working, conserving, saving, quality control, and/or taking out the garbage if they don’t pay? The classic socialist reply is that capitalism creates the selfishness it purports to benevolently channel. Socialism will give birth to a “New Socialist Man” who loves his neighbor as himself....
I’ve always considered the New Socialist Man position to be not just weak, but absurd. Ever heard of Darwin? People are selfish because of billions of years of evolution, not capitalism. End of story...
I take hindsight bias seriously. Many mistakes really are hard to see until you actually make them. But socialism wasn’t one of them.
Indeed. Asimov's and Allen's tales are only [science] fiction, but they rightly understand human nature. One of the more guffaw-inducing lack of such understanding occurs in a different sci-fi universe, Star Trek: The Next Generation. Does anyone recall Capt. Picard's lecture to the rescued 20th century capitalist in the episode "The Neutral Zone"? "We're no longer obsessed with the accumulation of things," he tells him. 24th century humans may no longer be obsessed with such, but you can bet your bottom dollar they'll still be important to them. But even more absurd is the notion that, with things like replicators and holodecks available to anyone, that folks in their right mind would freely volunteer for an organization like Starfleet and put their lives in jeopardy against races like the Klingons and Romulans. Face it, the vast majority of humanity would gladly hang out all day inside their holodecks and only come out to eat the food and drink the beverages provided by their replicators. "End of story," as economist Caplan said above.
Alas, as with anything else, the only way we'll change is when a tragedy or emergency hits us. With communism it was the lack of freedom, the grinding poverty, the secret police, and the millions killed. In Asimov's Robot societies it was ecological and planetary decay. With our own society it will be the crushing debt and economic collapse. Would that we rectify the situation before it's too late.
Via the Hollywood Reporter: "According to a new study, seven television shows about serial killers were added, an increase of more than 35 percent."
The article notes how Hollywood and the media love to take credit for changing views on homoexuality due their positive portrayals of gays; however, when it comes to violence (y'know, like in seven new shows about killers), it's "Who, me?"
But of course.
Inspired by Taste of Cinema's list of "The 20 Worst Special Effects That Ruined The Movie," 'ol Hube is gonna have a go at some F/X moments that, in his view, while not ruining the flick, may have come close to doing so. And, hopefully, he can find some YouTube clips or images to show you what he means. And keep in mind he ain't gonna be unfair like ToC; I mean, they use made-for-SyFy flicks which are designed for parody purposes.
LIFEFORCE. A little known scifi flick which I actually like, it stars Star Trek: TNG's Patrick Stewart. The plot is basically this: A space shuttle discovers a mysterious ship in the tail of Halley's Comet, and some of its [very attractive humanoid occupants] are taken aboard and taken back to Earth. They turn out to be some sort of energy vampires, and they end up turning London into a war zone. It's an admittedly different tack on the vampire legend, one that'd be a lot better if not for the pathetic effects:
ALIEN 3. I don't know which Alien sequel is worse -- this one or Alien: Resurrection. Nevertheless, this second sequel fell short in one of its trademarks: Kickin' F/X. Granted, this was the dawning of the CGI era (Terminator 2 had just kicked box office ass the year before), so producers/directors probably got full of themselves thinking it could substitute for old fashioned plastic, latex and goo (more cheaply, too). But it sure didn't in this scene where the "dog Alien" confronts Ripley in the infirmary:
I'm not kidding: This scene led to guffaws from the audience at how fake it was. Because of the CGI. It would have been a lot better to utilize the original film's "slow moving" creature for a much more realistic (and frightening) effect.
TOTAL RECALL. This is on Taste of Cinema's list, and rightly so. This original Ahnuld version (1990) is a kick-ass film from start to finish, but if any one scene can ruin it ... it's this one:
You're already probably laughing (on purpose -- "Two weeks!!") at Ahnuld's malfunctioning robot disguise upon entering Mars customs, but when he finally reveals himself you'll be unintentionally howling -- at how awful the ersatz Schwarzenegger is done.
STAR WARS (EPISODE IV, 1977). This probably isn't fair since the original, "non-special" version was way ahead of its time at the time. But twenty years later showed us how inadequate the genuine article really was, especially the climactic Battle of Yavin. I always recall one scene after the Death Star first dispatched Tie Fighters to take on the X-Wings ship-to-ship. It's quick, but look how stiff the ships move in the original:
Check out the entire vid for great comparisons of the entire battle!
JAWS 2. Granted, the sequels that follow are undeniably worse; however, this was still fairly big budget and star Roy Scheider was still at the helm. So, how were the shark effects even worse than the original? Good question. I mean, check it:
I AM LEGEND. There's no excuse for this lameness. The film was made within the last decade, after all. Why are the albino vampires so CGI bad -- especially in the finale when they invade Will Smith's inner sanctum?
The killer virus must have led to mutant, elongated jaw bones, I guess.
THE THING (2011). This is another example of thinking CGI is inherently superior to old-style plastic and goo. This is the prequel to John Carpenter's scary-as-sh** 1982 classic, yet never really comes close to its 30 year-old predecessor mainly because of the effects. Don't get me wrong -- they're good, but take a gander at the following clip. The F/X indee are fine, but they're too ... "clean," not to mention quick. Carpenter's version showed fairly slow transformations, allowing the audience to wallow in the gore. But look at how fast this poor chump transforms into the Thing in the prequel:
DEEP BLUE SEA. This whole flick about mutated "super" sharks is littered with shi**y CGI effects (how can something move that fast in a liquid environment??), but perhaps none is worse than when Samuel L. Jackson gets nabbed by one:
Comics dolt Ron Marz shows his "vast intellect" again:
Delightful to see right wing, which howls about film/video game violence, now lacerate Jim Carrey because he's not supporting violent film.— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) June 24, 2013
Um, Ron? Carrey starred in the very flick he's bitching about (Kick Ass 2). And while he claims filming wrapped a month or so before the Sandy Hook tragedy (and hence his views have since changed), here's the question(s): Did he give his paycheck back? Did he put his wallet where his [big] mouth is? There's no indication he has as yet, via a reading of various news sites today. A fan asked Ron just this (about Carrey's paycheck), and Marz refused to address it. Shocking.
So, with Carrey, as with way too many other "progressives," it's all just words. With Marz, it's (again) utter cluelessness.
Who (what) are the coolest/baddest/neato-est mechanical creations in all of entertainment that you may not know about? In movies, comics, novels ... you name it. I'll name a few now, natch -- because no one demanded it!
R. DANEEL OLIVAW. Scifi master Isaac Asimov's ultimate robot, he becomes the guiding force for humanity's expansion throughout the Milky Way beginning with his first Robot novels (like Caves of Steel). Once Asimov died, his estate allowed other scifi writers to "play" in the Robot/Foundation universe, and for the culmination of everything (and I mean EVERYTHING) related to robots and the Foundation, check out David Brin's mindf*** Foundation's Triumph. Olivaw, as usual, is the central figure.
THE VISION. Marvel Comics' "Android Avenger," he was the creation of another Marvel robot, Ultron-5. Fitted with the brain patterns of the then-dead Wonder Man and reconstituted from the android frame of the Original Human Torch, Vizh eventually overcame Ultron's influence and joined the Avengers. My favorite era of Vision stories is Steve Englehart's run on Avengers from the mid-1970s, especially Avengers #147 when Vizh takes on three of the Squadron Supreme (including the super-strong Hyperion) to rescue his love, the Scarlet Witch.
R. GISKARD REVENTLOV. Another of Asimov's creations, this telepathic robot helped to form the "Zeroth Law" which superceded the original Three Laws of Robotics. It allowed robots to look out for humanity as a whole rather than individuals. Giskard deactivated after he, using the Zeroth Law, allowed a madman to turn Earth's crust radioactive (see: Robots and Empire). Why? Well, the madman's actions led to humanity spreading forth into the galaxy, but the [human] destruction of that action was too much even for Giskard's positronic brain.
THE IRON GIANT. The name of the protagonist of the lovable 1999 animated film is about a, well, giant robot that falls to Earth and is discovered by a little boy. Eventually the robot's true purpose is discovered, but the big guy "overcomes" it and shows what a true hero he is. Voices include Harry Connick Jr. and Vin Diesel as the Giant.
ADAM LINK. Before there was the awesome Star Trek: TNG episode "Measure of a Man," there was the episode of The Outer Limits featuring this robot. A robot, Adam, is charged with killing his creator. He goes to trial in a typical courtroom. Great scifi, but just try not to laugh at Adam sitting at the table in court.
SASQUATCH. Yes, I said "Sasquatch." Back when there was a show called The Six Million Dollar Man, one of the most popular episodes (go figure) was the two-parter featuring 'Squatch going up against Col. Steve Austin. Of course, it may help to fill you in that 'Squatch was a robot (else why would he be on this list?) and he was a servant of a group of aliens -- aliens like a very hot Stefanie Powers in a mini-skirt. Trivia: Wrestler Andre the Giant played 'Squatch.
IQ-9. This guy was the "comic relief" (sort of) of the awesome anime show Starblazers, or in the original Japanese Space Battleship Yamato. In that original, IQ-9 was called "Analyzer." I can only guess how ... "less" of a humorous diversion this robot was in the Japanese version, as I've read many times that the original was much more violent (i.e. realistic) than the American counterpart.
IMPERIOUS LEADER. This leader of the Cylons from the original Battlestar Galactica series (1978) was fashioned to look like the original reptilian race which created the robotic race. Voiced by Patrick MacNee (The Avengers ... the British spy series, not Earth's Mightiest Heroes) he (it?) was always seen in a darkened room barking orders to either the traitorous human Baltar, or the protocol Cylon Lucifer.
THE HUMAN ROBOT. One of Marvel Comics' (then Atlas Comics) earliest creations, this mechanical dude was revived in the comics Bronze Age in a terrific What If? issue (#9) which asked "What If the Avengers Had Fought Evil in the 1950s?" Even better, Kurt Busiek included M-11 (his technical designation, based on his first appearance in Menace #11) alongside the 1950s Avengers in the epic Avengers Forever mini-series. (Unfortunately, Immortus destroyed the 1950s Avengers timeline, but Marvel revived the group years later in Agents of Atlas.)
Because -- you guessed it! -- nobody demanded it, it's time for yet another Hube culture-oriented list, this time a subject which gets the hackles up on "progressives" (ex. 9/11 Truthers) and conservatives (ex. Birthers) alike: Conspiracies. In no particular order:
ALL THE PRESIDENT'S MEN (1976). So good it keeps me watching every time it's on, stars Dustin Hoffman and (ultra-lib) Robert Redford play Washington Post reporters Bernstein and Woodward who slowly uncover what happened during Watergate.
CAPRICORN ONE (1978). There's still a whole cottage industry on the 'net dedicated to moon landing conspiracies; this flick plays on that as government entities nab three astronauts from their rocket moments before the first manned launch to Mars, and convince them they need to stage the whole deal. (Budget cuts play a big role, go figure.) The trio realize, after acting out their parts, that the gov. can't afford to let them live, so they steal a jet to escape. Unfortunately, it's almost out of gas; sas such, they crash land in the desert, separate, and the chase is on! OJ Simpson is one of the astronauts, and Elliot Gould is the reporter who pieces together the truth. Many other stars abound in this flick including James Brolin, Sam Waterston, Telly Savalas and Hal Holbrook.
NO WAY OUT (1987). Guaranteed to elicit big "WTF???"s when the "secret" is revealed, Kevin Costner, Gene Hackman and Sean Young star in this political thriller. Hackman is the Secretary of Defense who accidentally kills a lady friend ... who Costner has also been seeing. To help cover his tracks, Hackman invents the story that a Russian mole killed her. Major "WTF"s ensue. Will Patton (Falling Skies) is great as Hackman's loyal aide.
J.F.K. (1991). Star Kevin Costner plays Jim Garrison, the Big Easy district attorney who takes it upon himself to prove that the Warren Commission conclusions about President Kennedy's death were so much bullsh**. I actually include this on the list because if you manage to stay awake for all the three-plus hours of the film, you deserve kudos. I managed to make it on my third viewing, the first complete one.
SEVEN DAYS IN MAY (1964). Ever wonder if our military guys planned a coup right here in the U.S. of A.? This flim will scare the beejeebees out of you, then. Burt Lancaster plays the chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff who plans to oust the president (Fredric March). Kirk Douglas plays a Lancaster underling who blows the whistle. The scene where Lancaster and March confront each other is classic.
MINORITY REPORT (2002). In 2054 a trio a psychics called "precogs" (for "precognition") are the basis for a new police unit: "Precrime." In other words, they'll stop the crime before it's ever committed. The unit's chief, Tom Cruise, unearths a frightening truth about the unit's origins, and is then framed. Great evilly deviousness by Max Von Sydow.
VALKYRIE (2008). Speaking of Tom Cruise, one of his better roles is in this flick where he plays a disillusioned Nazi officer during WWII who joins the [very true] conspiracy to kill Adolf Hitler. Unfortunately, it didn't work out.
BLUE THUNDER (1983). Helicopter pilot Roy Scheider discovers a plot by -- who else? -- the government to use a highly sophisticated new chopper for "the quelling" of domestic disturbances. Malcolm McDowell is the gov. agent who tries to stop him. Great urban aerial battle scenes.
SOYLENT GREEN (1973). One outta two predictions ain't bad. Global warming leads to food shortages (that's the "one") and overpopulation (the "missed one") exascerbates it. Police guy Chuck Heston stumbles upon a conspiracy that the Soylent Corp. is making its new "Soylent Green" outta ... people. Yummy.
THEY LIVE (1988). "First World" aliens have been using Earth as their "Third World" for decades. Roddy Piper discovers the secret via a special set of sunglasses. Still wondering how the aliens could whisk someone away at faster-than-light but couldn't safely protect their cloaking transmission.
io9 (again) asks the question. My clear favorite is Starship Troopers; what's yours?
I gotta admit I didn't know all the entries on the list were based on novels ... like Soylent Green, for instance. Nevertheless, despite its unfaithfulness, it remains a classic. As does Children of Men. (Though technically based on a novel of the same name, CoM indeed borrows heavily from Brian Aldiss's Greybeard which was published nearly thirty years prior. I highly recommend the book.)
Number 12 on io9's list is "Almost Every Philip K. Dick Movie." Blade Runner is an example, though in my view, though "unfaithful," it isn't very "unfaithful." The novel is indeed much, well, "freakier" (Earth is contaminated cesspool for the most part, real-life animals play a key role, and the scene where Deckard is almost trapped in a fake police station is surreal) but the central elements are all there.
What are some other entries that are worthy?
io9 has a year-old article about films that were considered and even almost made, to one degree or another. Some were quite fascinating:
First, you guessed it -- an MSNBC panel labeled pro-lifers as white supremacists: Panel Suggests Racist Motivation by Pro-lifers, Goal of 'Reproducing Whiteness'
So I think that there's a kind of moral panic, a fear of the end of whiteness that we've been seeing a long time in that I think, you know, Obama's ascension as President kind of symbolizes to a certain degree. And so I think this is one response to that sense that there's a decreasing white majority in the country and that women's bodies and white women's bodies in particular are obviously a crucial way of reproducing whiteness, white supremacy, white privilege. And so I think it's just a kind of clamping down on women's bodies, in particular white women's bodies, even though women of color are really caught in the fray.
Of course, what this dolt (University of Pennsylvania Assistant Professor Salamisha Tillet) fails to realize is that pro-lifers don't just care about white babies. And, since black women are approximately five times more likely to have an abortion than white women, how is lobbying to eliminate that statistic ... an example of wanting to preserve the white race??? Unbelievable.
Elsewhere, I was alerted to a recent (and past) post by one of my favorite scifi authors, John Scalzi, on the subject of white privilege. Scalzi has written the superb Old Man's War series, the most recent book of which is The Human Division. Unfortunately, Scalzi, like many other a successful liberal, feels the need to assuage his guilt over his having "made it" by giving a rhetorical hat tip to his fellow "progressive" academic types (like the above Professor Salamisha Tillet). But Michael Z. Williamson takes Scalzi to task:
Predictably, when invited to discuss the issue further with the above people, in a polite email, Scalzi completely ignored the issue. I can't presume his motives, but someone did suggest that the purpose of his posts is more to promote his books in the guilt-ridden, white, racist, liberal sellout market than to actually accomplish debate.
I have no doubt from his scribblings that Scalzi played life on the easy setting. Now that he's gotten rich, he needs to properly excoriate his success to avoid being a bad liberal.
An actual racist (I've met a few) would say, "Well, yes, I've done well, because I'm genetically and intellectually better than those lesser races." They would have no reason to get upset with his post, because it would tell them exactly what they wanted to hear: That they're at the top of the heap, awesome.
I had lengthy discussions with black writers and editors about Scalzi's post, and their concurrence seemed to be that it was shallow. I'll go a step further: It was an elitist white male passively-aggressively talking down to others about how awesome he is, but he feels guilty about it, so don't judge him too harshly.
How about going even further? If Scalzi is so guilty about having made it, partly (mainly?) because of the "leg up" he initially started with, why doesn't he abrogate the rights to his published properties to a minority writer and let him/her continue the stories? The same premise applies to the imbecilic Chris Matthews, Lawrence O'Donnell, Ed Schultz, et. al.: Really put you money where your mouth is. Resign your position and hand it over to a member of a minority group. Otherwise, you're a bloviating hypocrite like way too many a vocal "progressive."
UPDATE: Nate notes in the comments a blogger who has dissected Scalzi's "progressivism" quite thoroughly.
UPDATE: Scalzi digs in deeper, claiming he doesn't feel guilty about being a straight white male, and delves further into the usual I-know-better-than-you condescension. In spades.
In honor of the upcoming Man of Steel and as an homage to the terrific io9 scifi site's "12 Weirdest Moments From Superman: The Movie," 'ol Hube is doing his very own list. Why? You guessed it -- because no one demanded it, natch.
1) Goofy Powers. Everyone I knew guffawed when Supes tossed that "S" from his chest at the bruiser, Non, in his Fortress of Solitude. What was that -- Kryptonian cellophane? And that white beam from the Kryptonians' fingers which did, well, pretty much whatever they wanted? Whaaa ...? And don't get me started on Clark's kiss on Lois which caused her to forget! COME ON!!
2) Zod kicks an astronaut; guy barely moves. When Zod, Ursa and Non are freed from the Phantom Zone and land on our moon, they terrorize a few astronauts who are there. Check out when Zod picks up the one -- he kicks him ... but the astronaut merely floats away. With Zod's new yellow sun-induced superpowers and the moon's low gravity, that astronaut should have at least reached escape velocity! After all, a few seconds before, Ursa did pretty much that. Check out the effect of Zod's lame boot:
3) How did the Phantom Zone Trio reshape Mt. Rushmore in, like, two seconds? You tell me, 'cause it's stupid:
4) What super hearing? In the climactic battle in the Fortress of Solitude -- when Zod and co. hold the upper hand (and Lois hostage) -- Superman begins whispering to Luthor (who Zod had ordered killed, again -- more on that in a moment) about "getting them all into this molecule chamber." Uh, wait a second: How is it remotely possible that Zod and crew can't hear every word Supes is saying? (Not to mention how Supes would forget that Zod, et. al., could hear him?)
Speaking of which ...
5) Why do Zod and co. just stand around while Superman and Luthor chat (whisper) to one another? What are they doing? Notice that even the mute Non sorta motions to Luthor while he heads over to Supes in a "Hey, wait a minute" sorta way:
6) Why does Luthor continue to court Zod's "goodwill" after the villain orders his death several times? Seriously. I know Luthor is a maniacal genius psychopath, but there are at least three times Zod orders him killed (the White House, the Daily Planet, Fortress of Solitude) yet Lex is still there trying to wheel and deal with the general. Lex had remarked at the attack on the Daily Planet building that "Ya'd think with all this accumulated knowledge these guys would learn to use a doorknob;" one would think Lex would get the hint that Zod couldn't care less about him, any deals notwithstanding.
7) Dad didn't teach Kal-El very well in those twelve years. Ah, yes -- the 'ol diner scene where a bully trucker kicks the sh** out of a recently depowered Clark Kent. OK, I'll easily buy that the trucker is now stronger; however, what did Jor-El teach his son in those dozen years leading to adulthood? You mean to tell me there wasn't at least one course in fighting techniques and/or self-defense? And if you're thinking that Jor-El probably skipped those lessons because his son is invulnerable on Earth, keep in mind that Clark tells Lois (in the diner, too) that "They knew." Meaning, his parents knew about the potential threat from Zod and co. (and perhaps others).
8) Young kid climbs over rail at Niagara Falls, no one cares. OK, yeah, the mom of this moron won't win any parenting awards, but what about the public in general? Was this Apathy Day in Canada or something? Not to mention -- what kid is this fearless that he'd do something like this?? Lastly, is there a strange gravity gradient or something at the US-Canada border that causes people to fall a lot slower than normal? The kid would'a hit the drink long before Supes got there if there was real gravity.
9) Best winter garb: Thin Members Only jacket and penny loafers. Right after the above-mentioned diner scene, Clark tells Lois he has to go back (to the North Pole) to see if there's some way to regain his powers. So what does he do? He walks there ... with the clothes he's wearing at the moment.
10) Zod's heat vision has problems with tankers. After zapping a few cars with his heat vision -- cars which instantly blow up (despite Zod not even having a line-of-sight to their gas tanks), it suddenly takes the General what, a good thirty seconds to attempt to blow up the fuel tank on that tanker??
11) How does a snake bite hurt Ursa? After she, Zod and Non land on the Planet "Hooston," she picks up a rattlesnake to check it out. Like any such snake would, it promptly bites her ... and she reacts in pain! Like ... why? She just got through traveling through the vacuum of space, yet a mere snakebite causes her to wince. Uh huh.
12) "We used to play this game as a kid." In the final battle at the North Pole, Supes inexplicably creates duplicates of himself to confuse Zod and crew. One of these doppelgangers tells Lois "We used to play this game in school; he was never really good at it." I used to think Supes was talking about himself here, y'know, as in here on Earth with his [human] friends. But no -- he's preposterously referring to him and Zod ... as in back on Krypton. Did the producers ever bother to watch the first film? Supes (Kal-El) was an infant on Krypton, and was promptly launched into space by his pop when the planet was about to blow up. Zod was an adult who was caught and sentenced to eternity in the Phantom Zone alongside Ursa and Non. YEESH.
Saw a great quote on Twitter last night about the whole NSA/spying flap: It used a classic line from M*A*S*H's Colonel Flagg (from the episode "Quo Vadis, Captain Chandler"). In the episode, a shell-shocked bombardier has come to believe he is Jesus Christ, so Hawkeye and BJ call in Dr. Sidney Freedman, the show's every-now-and-then psychiatrist. Unbeknownst to the protagonists, recurring CIA nutjob Flagg has also been dispatched to investigate the matter.
In the conclusion, Flagg lets Freedman have it in Col. Potter's office:
You're not smart, Freedman. You're dumb. Very dumb! But you've met your match in me! Chandler may get out as a psycho -- he's small potatoes. The army can teach my mother how to drop bombs. But, you, Major, are here to stay! Right here, shrink! Where we can make sure you remain loyal to the country that's gonna hound your every step!
From the National Review writer in his e-mailed Morning Jolt this morning:
And as Jonah mentioned a few Goldberg Files ago (my link -- Hube), our evil Starfleet admiral — hey, we haven't seen one of those since Star Trek: Insurrection! — is evil because he's trying to "militarize" Starfleet (you know, that big armada of torpedo-armed starships with crews organized by naval ranks) to prepare for a war with the Klingon Empire he thinks is inevitable. What Abrams & Co. have decided is the plot's "evil plan" is actually absolute common sense, and our heroes' brief interaction with the Klingons only confirms the admiral's analysis that the Klingons are relentlessly hostile and aggressive.
I wrote about this as well, natch.
Maybe the whole thing is meant as a very, very subtle parody of the pacifist nature of future humanity, and how our "progess" into a nonaggressive, conflict-avoiding culture will slowly but surely quietly doom us when we encounter an alien culture like the Klingons or Romulans.
Which some may argue that's just what the Boss Obama administration is doing to the country now ...
Bleeding Cool has a pic of the Oval Office from next year's sure-to-be-blockbuster X-Men: Days of Future Past. The guy behind the desk is obviously ... Richard Nixon. It's already been established that the film will take place in the early 1970s; it'll be curious if Watergate will play into the film considering 1) X-Men First Class director Matthew Vaughn has already been shown to be somewhat of a Kennedy assassination truther, and 2) the current situation with Boss Obama and all his scandals. It wouldn't be surprising if Marvel's Merry Mutants figure into the scandal which brought down Nixon; First Class had the mutants being key figures in the Cuban Missile Crisis.
"Days of Future Past" remains one of the all-time classics not only in X-Men lore, but in that of comics in general. Creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne showed how a terrifically intricate tale could be told in one title, and in two issues. They didn't need a ridiculously drawn-out crossover across multiple titles and innumerable issues.
The comicbook tale actually takes place about eight years later than what will be seen in next year's film: 1980. It centers around Senator Robert Kelly (seen in the first X-Men film) and his assassination by the Mystique-led Brotherhood (of Evil) Mutants in that year. Thirty-three years in the future (ironically, our current year of 2013), we witness a dystopic technologically-regressed United States in which mutants are either all dead or imprisoned. Humans with mutant potential are carefully watched and regulated. How did all this come about? Because, as a result of Kelly's murder by the Brotherhood, like a domino effect, one thing led to another against mutantkind, ultimately ending up with the robotic Sentinels taking over North America and ruling it -- for the "good" of human[ity].
Some of the few mutants left alive in 2013 include Magneto, Colossus, Storm, Kitty Pryde, Franklin Richards (son of the Fantastic Four's Reed and Sue Richards), and Wolverine. There's also Rachel Summers (daughter of Cyclops and Jean Grey), a powerful psionic who has devised a plan: She will use her mental powers to place the mind of 2013 Kitty Pryde with that of her 1980 younger self. If successful, Pryde will convince the X-Men of her mission, prevent the assassination of Senator Kelly, and then -- hopefully -- the dystopian anti-mutant future will cease to exist.
Summers' efforts are successful. Kitty's minds trade places, and the adult version (now in 1980) convinces the X-Men of why she is there and what the team needs to do. The X-Men set out for Washington DC to thwart Mystique's plan, and the first issue's closing panels show the clear surprise of the Brotherhood at the X-Men being in DC. But they're no less determined to kill Senator Kelly!
The second issue is mainly an all-out donneybrook between to the two teams. Those familiar with the X-Men films but not so much the comics may recognize a few characters aside from the obvious: Pyro (played by Aaron Stanford in the films) has a flashy costume and is British, and the Blob (played by Kevin Durand in X-Men Origins: Wolverine) who's enormously obese and whose only weakness is Wolverine's claws. The X-Men are ultimately successful in preventing Kelly's murder; however, the visceral fear of mutants still surfaces as a result of the massive battle between the two mutant teams. The waning panels witnesses Sebastian Shaw (played by Kevin Bacon in First Class) suggesting to Senator Kelly a ... "remedy" for controlling mutants: Sentinels. Thus, we're left pondering whether the X-Men and the future Kitty Pryde really were successful in preventing the dystopian future.
(Side note: Of course, using multiverse theory, the dystopian future of "Days" did continue to exist in Marvel lore, known as Earth-811. However, Rachel Summers later traveled to the past herself to join [our universe's] X-Men, and was still later pursued by the ultra-powerful Sentinel Nimrod.)
Some of the events in "Days" wouldn't make much sense (if that's even possible in comics) today based on subsequent events in Marvel books. For instance, in 2013, again, Franklin Richards was one of the captive mutants alongside the elderly Magneto. As we learned in the late 1990s, Franklin is one of the -- if not THE -- most powerful beings in the Marvel Universe. He created the "pocket" universe known as "Heroes Reborn," and was then responsible for returning the various Marvel heroes from that universe to the Marvel Universe proper (Earth-616). Thus, instead of sending Kitty's mind back to 1980, why not concentrate on freeing Richards ... and then have him eradicate the Sentinels and "restore" reality the way it was meant to be? In addition, in the second part of "Days," a Sentinel blasts Wolverine, leaving only his adamantium skeleton remaining (see above). But as we saw during "Civil War," the villain Nitro zapped Wolvie the same way ... and then Logan completely regenerated himself (due to his mutant healing factor).
At any rate, back to this post's title: Will (an attempted assassination of) Richard Nixon be the impetus behind the film's version of "Days?" It makes sense, especially from a traditional Hollywood perspective. After all, Republicans are almost as bad as Nazis when it comes to tinseltown villains. It's easy enough to presume Nixon would have no qualms about ordering the manufacture of the robotic Sentinels, and then siccing them upon mutantkind.
What do you think?
Michael Douglas's throat cancer the result of ... giving oral sex. No kiddin'.
Considering who the recipient was (is) -- Catherine Zeta Jones -- I can think of a lot worse fates.
I read that former prez Bill Clinton has endorsed a comic written by long-time US representative -- and noted civil rights activist -- John Lewis titled March. The book "focuses on his (Lewis's) youth in rural Alabama and the start of the Nashville Student Movement." Unfortunately, Lewis was one of those who claimed members of the Tea Party shouted racial epithets during the 2010 Obamacare vote ... epithets that were never proven, despite innumerable recording devices at the scene (press, individual cell phones, etc.) and a $10K award for such proof by the now-deceased Andrew Breitbart. Nevertheless, Lewis, of all people, deserves some slack about that given his history.
The little-known TV network The Hub will be featuring a cartoon titled "SheZow" starring a tranvestite superhero. No sh**. Newsbusters' Randy Hall explains:
The 26-episode Australian-Canadian animated series begins with the death of the boy's Aunt Agne, who was the previous SheZow. The ring was meant for Guy's twin sister, Kelly, but her brother decided to put it on himself as a joke.
Once on his finger, the ring won't come off, and since it was intended to be worn by a female, Guy must wear a large wig, a purple skirt and cape, pink gloves and white go-go boots to gain access to the many powers it bestows, including tremendous strength, speed, flight and his strongest ability, a sonic scream. (Yeah, no gender stereotypes here.)
Whenever trouble arises, the boy says the magic words “You go, girl!” to become the cross-dressing superhero and returns to his secret identity by shouting “She-yeah!”
He/she also has a "beautility belt" which includes items such as "laser lipstick" and "vanishing cream." Uh ... right.
I still say that it would have been better to have Shezow be a girl because there aren't enough female superheroes, but does it promote transgender? I don't think so. Barely promotes drag queens at best, but I'm only judging by one episode.
Here's the opening of the 'toon, FWIW.
Comics guy Erik Larsen, a big lefty who believes the GOP "stole" the 2000 and 2004 elections (but thus far, no word from him on how the IRS shenanigans may have aided Boss Obama in stealing 2012's), apparently is not a big fan of comics legend John Byrne. A while back, the duo had a bit of a feud regarding artwork, which Byrne turned into a topic at his website. A couple days ago, Larsen tweeted the following about Byrne:
@tombrevoort but the big difference is that you would like him to work on Marvel books. I have no interest in him working on mine.— Erik Larsen (@ErikJLarsen) May 30, 2013
So Larsen doesn't want Byrne working on his books. Oooooh, golly. But here's the thing: Larsen is nowhere near Byrne when it comes to comicbook talent. In a discussion of comicbook greats, Byrne should certainly occupy some air time if you're at all serious about the topic. The "Dark Phoenix" saga. "Days of Future Past." The re-imagining of DC's Superman. Memorable run on the Fantastic Four. Larsen, on the other hand? He'd probably raise a few "Who??" He did average artwork on Spider-Man. Created a character called the Savage Dragon. Whoopee-freakin'-do.
Perhaps the bloated, overhyped entity that is Image Comics has done "wonders" for Larsen's ego.
Hey, you know the drill by now: Because absolutely no one demanded it, here's Hube's picks for the top of each Trek TV show. The five in each category are in no particular order either, for what it's worth.
Disagree with me? Let me know in the comments. Hell, let me know if you agree, too, dammit! Here we go ...
THE ORIGINAL SERIES
THE NEXT GENERATION
DEEP SPACE NINE
Five days ago I wrote about Star Trek Into Darkness:
But preparing for conflict against the Klingons? Remember that in this era the Federation is pretty much constantly at war with them. The Klingons are troublemakers to the extreme, brutal warriors who have moved away from reason and enlightenment (as described in an episode of the prequel show Enterprise). Even in the sixth Trek film, Capt. Kirk's own words came back to haunt him ("I never trusted Klingons, and I never will"), not to mention he explicitly told Spock to "Let them (the Klingons) die" when Spock informed a Federation confab about the Klingons' desired peace initiative. (Brought about, of course, because their empire was dying.) Thus, what is so wrong about preparing for what is almost a certain conflict with the Klingons? In fact, it makes a helluva lot MORE sense in Into Darkness's case what the Federation (Section 31) was doing than what George W. Bush and Dick Cheney actually did, since, as I noted, Khan and the Klingons are much greater threats.
Jonah Goldberg in his (e-mailed) G-File from yesterday:
In Star Trek Into Darkness a major plot driver is the notion that any "militarization" of Star Fleet is an unthinkable outrage. This is crazypants. We know that the Federation is in fact destined for a brutal and devastating war with the Klingons -- the idea that the Federation should be better prepared for it isn't fascistic; it's common sense.
Just like the villain of the new Trek stated last week, new "Scotty," Simon Pegg, had this to say about the film's theme:
"In the face of overwhelming militaristic might, you can argue John Harrison is in fact kind of a strange dichotomy between freedom fighter and terrorist, and the militarized Starfleet is slightly more the heavy handed aspects of American foreign policy," Pegg says. Admiral Marcus (played by Peter Weller) has weaponized the Enterprise because he thinks war with the Klingons is inevitable, and Pegg believes there's an argument to be made for his view. But, he adds, "There is always diplomacy, and there is always an alternative to violence...."
There is a parallel with the terrorist activities of Osama bin Laden and the decision to attack Iraq. Iraq had nothing proven to do with 9/11, and yet [President] Bush used that as an excuse to start a war with those people. You can always see the Klingons as like Iraq and John Harrison the proxy for Osama bin Laden."
Admiral Marcus certainly seems like a stand-in for former Vice President Cheney. "Absolutely," Pegg laughs. "He's definitely a Republican."
Wow. How "brave." Hell, why not make it a Vietnam War parable, then? Y'know, an internal struggle between two factions of Vietnamese which had nothing to do with the US, yet [Democrat] Lyndon Johnson staged a military incident to thereby allow the US to get involved ...
It's become quite tiresome to point out the stupidity of these comparisons, especially given Trek lore and canon.
SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD.
(Keep in mind what follows is stated without my having seen Star Trek Into Darkness as of yet. I'm not certain I will see it, either.)
The film's villain, "John Harrison," is actually Khan -- the classic villain from the Original Series and the second Trek film (and played by Ricardo Montalban). It is hard to see how Khan could ever be considered anyone's "freedom fighter." However, an in-depth synopsis of Into Darkness can be found here, and even with some differences (the new Trek is set in an alternate reality), I still think the connection to big 'ol bad Bush and Cheney is questionable. Indeed, the one connection to the "real" Trek universe -- Ambassador Spock -- fills in Kirk and co. all about the evil that is Khan in this sequel. So, consider:
Hmm. OK, I say make the comparisons to Bush/Cheney! The only really objectionable facet to this whole scheme in my view is Section 31's attempts to recruit Khan for its own ends. But preparing for conflict against the Klingons? Remember that in this era the Federation is pretty much constantly at war with them. The Klingons are troublemakers to the extreme, brutal warriors who have moved away from reason and enlightenment (as described in an episode of the prequel show Enterprise). Even in the sixth Trek film, Capt. Kirk's own words came back to haunt him ("I never trusted Klingons, and I never will"), not to mention he explicitly told Spock to "Let them (the Klingons) die" when Spock informed a Federation confab about the Klingons' desired peace initiative. (Brought about, of course, because their empire was dying.) Thus, what is so wrong about preparing for what is almost a certain conflict with the Klingons? In fact, it makes a helluva lot MORE sense in Into Darkness's case what the Federation (Section 31) was doing than what George W. Bush and Dick Cheney actually did, since, as I noted, Khan and the Klingons are much greater threats. If we're making a comparison, then, it seems to me to justify the former president's actions.
Of course, it can always be argued that what Bush/Cheney did was perfectly reasonable based on several rationales (most of which I still disagree with), but certainly some of them include not allowing a despot like Saddam Hussein to continue to thumb its nose at the international community especially in a post-9/11 world ... to permit him to become an even greater threat.
RELATED: Since guys like Pegg and Cumberbatch want to make present-day comparisons, let's make some of our own. How does our present political world compare to the Federation's of Kirk's time? Here's what I say:
THE FEDERATION: Essentially the First World -- the US, Western Europe, Australia, Japan, South Korea.
THE ROMULANS: China and North Korea.
THE CARDASSIANS: Russia.
THE KLINGONS: The Muslim Middle East.
THE FERENGI: Switzerland.
As usual, because no one demanded it, it's time to take a peek into what cracks Hube up. And the following Saturday Night Live sketches do just that. First, Hube's Top Six, followed by some Honorable Mentions. In no particular order:
MORE COWBELL. Possibly Will Ferrell's funniest skit during his SNL tenure, he cracks up virtually all his companions, especially Jimmy Fallon. Christopher Walken is classic yet again as producer Bruce Dickinson (yes, the Bruce Dickinson):
JAMES BROWN CELEBRITY HOT TUB. Eddie Murphy had a gazillion funny sketches while a part of SNL; there is none funnier than this one. Whoever thought up this idea is my kind'a writer. So hilarious, Murphy even cracks himself up:
ARSENIO BECKMAN. Host Rob Lowe's best-ever sketch, here he mocks former late-night host Arsenio Hall. Note the finger extensions on Lowe's hands, and especially the audience as the skit progresses:
DICK IN A BOX. Cast member Andy Samberg's and host Justin Timberlake's "SNL Short" classic about the perfect gift for anytime, anywhere:
THE RESTAURANT ENTERPRISE. One of the best offerings from the early Phil Hartman and Dana Carvey era, host William Shatner becomes the proprietor of the now-drydocked USS Enterprise ... which has been converted into a restaurant. Carvey as villain Khan absolutely steals the show:
STEVIE WONDER & FRANK SINATRA. Eddie Murphy and Joe Piscopo do up a gut-busting bit with an "alternate" version of "Ebony and Ivory":
SEE BELOW THE FOLD FOR SOME HONORABLE MENTIONS ... !!
MR. NO DEPTH PERCEPTION. Kevin Nealon was never my favorite cast member, but this may be his best bit:
GERMANY'S MOST DISTURBING HOME VIDEOS. I loved just about every "Sprockets" offering; this one is my fave. This is my favorite Mike Myers character by far, and this is a rip on "America's Funniest Home Videos," natch:
DEBBIE DOWNER. Rachel Dratch's character had a few follow-ups, but none tops this debut. All the cast members cannot keep a straight face:
SPACE THE INFINITE UNIVERSE. Will Ferrell (as Harry Carey) perplexes host Jeff Goldblum with his constant -- and hilarious -- ad libbing:
THE McLAUGHLIN GROUP. Only political junkies will find this funny, and as I am -- and as a fan of this show -- I threw up a lung the first time I saw this. Dana Carvey's show host John McLaughlin is so spot-on it's scary, and each of the guests nail their real-life counterpart as well:
SAMURAI DELICATESSEN. The only entry I have from the original SNL cast, this John Belushi-helmed skit always kills me. There are several other "Samurai" skits; this, however, is the best:
JIZZ IN MY PANTS. Coming off the success of "Dick in a Box," Samberg, Timberlake and crew at the very least equaled their success with this raucous video short:
Avi over at FCMM points to an article which -- surprise! -- excoriates American "bigotry, nativism and xenophobia" for the creation of Iron Man arch-villain the Mandarin. Avi does what he does best -- dissecting the unspoken hypocrisy and one-sidedness of the article -- and I largely agree with him. He notes that, by far, the US is hardly alone when it comes to offensive and stereotypical portrayals of [foreign] characters. This isn't to excuse what has transpired before in this country; however, it needs to be noted that 1) The US has largely excised such characterizations from its entertainment outlets, and 2) Marvel was actually at the forefront of combating prejudice and bigotry in the comics field. Article author Andrew A. Smith fails to note the irony, too:
Speaking of Marvel, that publisher introduced the Yellow Claw in the 1950s, but also — perhaps indicating changing times — heroic Asian-American FBI agent Jimmy Woo. And Marvel gave us the Mandarin. A Chinese mastermind with long fingernails and longer mustache, he was just another Fu Manchu clone for years.
In the 1950s Marvel intro'd an Asian-American FBI agent ... yeah. Not only was that "indicating changing times" (not "perhaps"), it was actually very forward-thinking. And Marvel did a lot more in the following decade, too, in the realm of [racial/ethnic] inclusion.
Marvel has tried updating him (Mandarin) now and again to excise the racism element (and make him more relevant), but because that’s the character’s core, it never really works.
I beg to differ. Mandy has never been my favorite Iron Man baddie, but his constant "updates" through the years have certainly moved away -- excised -- the "racism element." That is, unless you believe (like Smith seems to do) that simply because he is Asian -- and a villain -- that that in itself is racist.
Smith wants Mandy "retired" as a villain, and on that I agree. But I think that's Marvel has pretty much done all it can with the guy.
I haven't yet seen Iron Man 3 (I know, can you believe it??), but from what I've read from hardcore IM fans, the Mandarin characterization is pretty pathetic.
RELATED: Some of the Mandarin's stand-out moments in Iron Man history:
In Mandy's first-ever appearance (Tales of Suspense #50), we see Stark -- in the heat of battle! -- calculate how to deflect one of Mandy's karate chops ... using his "built-in slide- rule calculator!" Also note the classic insult: "Who's laughing now, Sunny Jim?"
One thing I've always pondered: Why in the world is there a big "M" on Mandarin's chest? Ya'd think there'd be his name in Chinese characters, right?
Iron Man #100 was the climax of yet another IM-Mandy scuffle, and it's one of the better ones by far. Mandy's plot involved political subterfuge, nuclear weapons, the giant robot Ultimo, and an incredible all-out action 100th issue (with great art by the late George Tuska):
One of the sillier Mandarin moments came in the late #50s of IM's book when Mandy attempted to ... take over the union that organized Stark Industries' workers?? (His stage name was ... Gene Khan.) Not too big a goal for a wannabe world dictator, huh?
In John Byrne's "Dragon Seed" saga, the origin of Mandy (and Iron Man, to a degree) was retconned. It involved original IM bad-guy Wong Chu and the very Chinese myth about dragons:
In the [lame] 1994 Iron Man cartoon, apparently Marvel wanted to move way away from the Chinese origin, so they gave Mandy ... green skin:
Possibly even sillier than the #50s Gene Khan schtick was when Mandy assumed the role of some businessman and wanted to ... make a movie where he (as Mandarin) battled Iron Man. Cool new battle armor for the villain, but c'mahn:
Then there was the WAY overly drawn-out cross-over title tale where Mandy attempted to stop all of the world's technology (from functioning) and turn the planet into a battle of the feudal warlords. Could have been done in two issues but took a lot more than that to conclude. Lame Tom Morgan artwork doesn't help either:
Finally, one of the BEST Iron Man issues comes in the form of one #69 -- my first-ever comicbook and an incredible all-out slugfest between 'ol Shellhead and Mandy. Yes, Iron Man has his infamous nose in this issue, but penciller George Tuska is at his best here. George is always great when it comes to action sequences, and oh man does he not disappoint here! Take a gander at some the panels.
So says director John Carpenter:
So a lot of the ideals that I grew up with were under assault, and something called a yuppie came into existence, and they just wanted money. And so by the late ’80s, I’d had enough, and I decided I had to make a statement, as stupid and banal as it is, but I made one, and that’s ‘They Live.’ … I just love that it was giving the finger to Reagan when nobody else would.
'Ya just gotta love that nonsense "when nobody else would" line. Yet another example of how limousine libs live in a cuddly bubble. That, or totally devoid of actual reality. I mean, really -- anyone who lived through the 1980s was treated to a daily barrage of anti-Reagan messages, whether serious or via satire. As Christian Toto notes, Saturday Night Live regularly had a field day with The Gipper. And does anyone recall the "special" Nightline broadcast where Ted Koppel and a bunch of other MSMers sat around dissecting a Reagan speech? It was an Old Media bias extravaganza. And the comicbook field was certainly another part of the bandwagon:
Ah yes, the 'ol "Nancy is REALLY the one in charge" bit. But that ain't nuthin':
And just a little bit of anti-Semitism mixed in for good measure ...
And these are just the panels I could find on Google. There's many more, including Frank Miller (in his old liberal days) with The Dark Knight Returns, and I know there's a "funny" panel in What If? (vol. 2) #19 where a member of Reagan's staff informs The Gip that the android Vision has taken over all the world's computers ... to which Ron asks "He's taken over all the world's pewter??" Yuk yuk.
Comic Book Resources has the Top 25 Greatest Iron Man Stories Ever up, and thank goodness the fans showed some plain 'ol good common sense. Well, for the most part, that is. As the post title notes, Iron God-Men David Michelinie and Bob Layton claim the top three spots with "Demon in a Bottle" (#1), "Armor Wars" (#2) and "Doomquest" (#3). Admittedly I haven't read any of the recent entries (approx. 2005-present) so I cannot make an informed judgment. I have heard a good amount of praise for writer Matt Fraction's run on the title, and he has a few spots on the list.
But here's some that had me shaking my head a lot (or a little):
But LOOK! Layton's (and Michelinie's) "AW2" has now seen print!! (I'd get it, but Layton filled me in on the entire plot many years ago ...!)
So say the rumors. Michael B. Jordan (Chronicle and Friday Night Lights) is in the running. To which comics guy Ron Marz makes yet another interesting Tweet:
All those movies with a black guy playing Nick Fury were box-office disasters, and no fun to watch, right? #Torched— Ron Marz (@ronmarz) May 2, 2013
Well duh, Ron. Maybe that's because the African-American Nick Fury was already well established in comics continuity before the latest crop of Marvel films came out (that featured the character). Marvel's popular Ultimate Universe is where the Samuel L. Jackson-based character began -- over a decade ago at the turn of the milennium.
On the other hand, where has there been a black Human Torch/Johnny Storm in comics? I haven't bought a new book in some time, but I keep up with what is going on regularly. I don't recall ever seeing an African-American Torch. Spinoff's article author Steve Sunu indicates same. Such a deviation certainly doesn't mean the reboot FF film won't be successful; however, it could be problematic if there's a decent amount of concentration on the team's origin. Maybe one way around that is to make Sue and Johnny half-siblings, or one adopted. That sounds easy enough. And a new FF film, however altered, certainly can't be much worse than the original two!
That all said, why the change in the first place? Is this just another example of needless political correctness for the sake of ... political correctness?
UPDATE: The ultra-PC creator Gail Simone chimes in with her "coherent" thoughts:
I swear to god, I am NOT going to listen to a bunch more dumb outrage about a black actor being cast in a superhero movie. GOOD. #FuryRules— GailSimone (@GailSimone) May 3, 2013
Why the hash-tag "FuryRules"? Is there really a pissed off fan base out there regarding Samuel L. Jackson being cast as Nick Fury? If so, where? As I noted, at least this Fury actually has a basis in the comics. A black Johnny Storm does not. I really wonder what Simone's reaction would be if, in the upcoming Captain America sequel, a white guy was cast as the Falcon. Or, what if a movie studio took one of her characters ... and completely altered him/her?
I've opined in the past already that I could care less if African-American actors are cast as characters that were originally portrayed as white (or something else) in the original comics -- because most of the most popular characters in the biz were created when blacks were still considered second-class citizens. We've seen Heimdall portrayed by a black actor in Thor; Jamie Foxx is slated to play Electro in the upcoming Amazing Spider-Man 2. And big deal. But, again, the Fantastic Four is a bit different. It's a major property of one of the Big Two comics companies with a rich (and immense) continuity history. It'd almost be akin to putting out a film with a black guy playing Superman ... just for the sake of having a black guy playing Superman. In other words, it really makes no sense.
But whoever said political correctness ever made sense?
Watch Art Laffer get his ass handed to him by Peter Schiff.
To me, these sorts of analysis is very helpful in determining analytics for economists. It is a really good means of determining their "optics" as it were. (NB: analysis here means reading past performance and analytics means using that past performance to predict the future)
If Schiff was as right as he was (and he was) and Laffer was so completely wrong (but never in doubt) I would tend to listen to Schiff more than Laffer.
With a big hat tip to the hard copy of Entertainment Weekly, let's take a look at some noted apocalypse films, their major players, and how it all turned out. Because, as usual, no one demanded it.
We're purposely excluding alien invasions (too easy) like in Independence Day and War of the Worlds, and films in which most of humanity lives on, as in Deep Impact and Armageddon. The focus here is on man's own mistakes, whether intentional or not, which lead to his demise (or almost demise), and seemingly natural occurrences out of his control.
The Movie: On the Beach (1959 and remade in 2000).
Cause of Apocalyse: Massive nuke exchange in WW III.
The Threat: Radiation eventually making its way to the southern hemisphere.
The Hero: Gregory Peck (later, Armand Assante) as the American sub commander.
The Payoff: None, really. The last refuge for humanity, Australia, will eventually succumb to radiation poisoning. Peck/Assante vamoose in their sub hoping that after some years they'll be able to come back out again. But to what?
Classic Moment: When the sub tracks a radio signal to San Diego ... only to find that a wind-pounded window shade is responsible.
The Movie: The Road (2009).
Cause of Apocalypse: Vague, but most likely an asteroid/meteor strike or a major ecological catastrophe.
The Threat: Increasing cold, cannibal gangs.
The Hero: Viggo Mortensen, who never gives up leading his son to what they hope is a sunnier south.
The Payoff: Bleak for Mortensen, but the son looks like he'll make it thanks to the generosity of a family of strangers.
Classic Moment: All of Robert Duval's guest appearance.
The Movie: The Omega Man (1971, remade as I Am Legend in 2007).
Cause of Apocalypse: A plague that kills most of humanity, but turns some into acid rock loving, albino homicidal hippies (see right). (In the remake, they're vampire-like creatures.)
The Threat: The acid rock loving, albino homicidal hippies.
The Hero: Chuck Heston (later, Will Smith).
The Payoff: Heston manages a cure, but will he survive long enough to disseminate it?
Classic Moment(s): Chuck beds a black chick (way ahead of the social climate of the time) and Christ symbolism at the end.
The Movie: Planet of the Apes (1968 and remade, dreadfully, in 2001).
Cause of Apocalypse: Maniacs, who went nuts and "blew it all to Hell."
The Threat: Apes who now rule, hate humans.
The Hero(es): Chuck Heston as astronaut Taylor, along with rebel apes Cornelius and Zira (Roddy McDowall and Kim Hunter).
The Payoff: Heston escapes, to show that Man is "better" than Ape. Plus, he gets a little ape nookie (see left).
Classic Moment: "YOU MANIACS!! YOU BLEW IT UP! AH, DAMN YOU! GOD DAMN YOU ALL TO HELL!!"
The Movie: When Worlds Collide (1951).
Cause of Apocalypse: A rogue star hurtles through our solar system, which will decimate the Earth.
The Threat: The star Bellus.
The Hero(es): Pilot David Randall and Dr. Cole Hendron.
The Payoff: Fortunately, the rogue star Bellus is carrying with it a planet -- Zyra -- to where a few humans can rocket off in order to restart the human race.
Classic Moment: Earth's last moments; the film won an Oscar for best special effects.
The Movie: Mad Max (and sequels) (1979).
Cause of Apocalypse: Fossil fuel depletion ... which amazingly didn't lead to a cessation of using gas guzzling vehicles like the V-8 Interceptor (at right).
The Threat: Insane, homicidal biker gangs led by Toecutter, and later The Humongous.
The Hero: Max (Mel Gibson) and a handful of still-dedicated cops.
The Payoff: More like payback. Max makes waste of the gang who killed his wife and boy, and later Humongous's horde of killers.
Classic Moment: Max chasing Toecutter right into the front of a Mack truck.
The Movie: The Day After (1983).
Cause of Apocalypse: The US and USSR finally do it to one another.
The Threat: Like in On the Beach for the survivors, creeping radiation. Also, starvation, illness.
The Hero: Dr. Russell Oakes (Jason Robards), a doctor who works to help others until he basically collapses.
The Payoff: None. Looks like we ain't gonna make it.
Classic Moment: If you've ever seen it, tell me you didn't look outside when it was over to make sure everything was still there!
The Movie: The Quiet Earth (1985).
Cause of Apocalypse: Energy experiment goes awry, changing physical constants of the universe. The only survivors on Earth are those who died at the exact moment of the Effect.
The Threat: The Effect will happen again soon and who knows what it'll do the next time.
The Hero: Zac Hobson (Bruno Lawrence) worked for the lab involved in the experiment, and only he can stop the Effect from occurring again.
The Payoff: WTF is up with that ending?? Incredibly cool vista, but WTF was it??
The Movie: The Matrix (1999).
Cause of Apocalypse: Humans grow distrustful of mechanical servants and try to destroy them (actually seen in the animated collection The Animatrix.) They fail, and the machines retaliate, using human bodies as living batteries.
The Threat: The remnants of humanity must continually steer clear of the murderous probes of The Matrix, the Sentinels.
The Hero: Neo (Keanu Reeves) who is The One.
The Payoff: Should have ended at the first film as the two sequels blow chunks and make it impossible to follow the ultimate resolution. At least at the end of Matrix it appears Neo is unstoppable.
Classic Moment: Neo smashing right through Agent Smith (Smith at left).
The Movie: Damnation Alley (1977).
Cause of Apocalypse: An all-out nuclear exchange.
The Threat: World War III has caused the earth to tilt further on its axis, and radiation has mutated various lifeforms.
The Hero(es): Tanner (Jan Michael-Vincent) and Maj. Eugene Denton (George Peppard).
The Payoff: Making it across the devastated US to find a Shangri-La in ... Albany, New York??
Classic Moment: Marveling at the ultra-cheesy F/X, especially Paul Winfield getting eaten alive by mutated cockroaches, and Michael-Vincent attempting to kick car-sized scorpions.
The Movie: The Terminator (1984).
Cause of Apocalypse: Automated defense system becomes self-aware and destroys humans.
The Threat: Aside from launching nukes across the globe, SkyNet begins to assemble Terminator cyborgs to eradicate the remaining surviving humans.
The Hero(es): Kyle Reese (Michael Biehn), Sarah Connor (Linda Hamilton)
The Payoff: Uncertain. Four films seem to indicate that Judgment Day is inevitable, but it just keeps getting pushed back.
Classic Moment: Too many to mention. My fave is when the landlord knocks on Arnold's door demanding rent, and a list of possible responses pops up in the cyborg's field of vision. He chooses "F*** you, a**hole."
The Movie: Waterworld (1995).
Cause of Apocalypse: Melted polar ice caps result in just about all of Earth's surface being covered by H2O.
The Threat: Dennis Hopper's "Smokers" who have a reliable supply of fuel (thanks to their base on the Exxon Valdez!) and pillage anyone they stumble upon.
The Hero: Kevin Costner's "Mariner."
The Payoff: Costner's persistence pays off and the map on the back of a little girl leads to (supposedly) the only remaining dry land on the planet.
Classic Moment: Costner taking the girl and her companion underwater to see a late, great city once seen on land.
The Movie: Reign of Fire (2002).
Cause of Apocalypse: Construction dudes in London unearth a mother dragon who then begins to lay eggs and wreak havoc. Humans can't keep up and the creatures set fire to just about everything, effectively trashing the planet.
The Threat: The dragons still rule years after everything has been laid waste. Going outside is risking death. Trying to fly is death.
The Hero(es): Christian Bale's Quinn, and Matthew McConaughey's Van Zan (at left).
The Payoff: Quinn, Van Zan and some others discover a way to stop the dragon threat once and for all: Kill the mother. But it ain't gonna be that easy!
Classic Moment: Van Zan and co. showing how they can beat the flying beasts in the air.
UPDATE: Fellow Watcher's Council member Dave Schuler of the Glittering Eye offers up some entries I left out.
Via io9 we see news that the classic soap operatic Space Battleship Yamato -- aka Star Blazers in the US -- has been remade using updated animation. I absolutely loved the original series, which is over thirty years old. I wrote about the three main series here, when the live-action movie debuted in Japan.
Here's the new intro (in Japanese):
I am totally diggin' this news! Via Bleeding Cool:
Here’s how Deadline describes it;
“…a team of explorers travels to the farthest reaches of space to investigate a mind-blowing alien artifact called Ringworld, an artificial habitat the size of 1 million Earths. They discover the remnants of ancient advanced civilizations, mysteries that shed light on the origins of man and, most importantly, a possible salvation for a doomed Earth.”
This is a bit different from Larry Niven's novel, as you might expect. The book is a part of Niven's vast "Known Space" universe, and utilizes numerous species from it. This wouldn't make a lot of sense to the casual viewer, of course (I was a bit lost myself when I began the book as I hadn't yet read older Known Space stories), so the "doomed Earth" part noted above is an obvious deviation. But that might be all they really have to change. A human vessel could discover the amazing artifact, land and encounter evidence of advanced races, and also as noted discover humanity's origins: the alien Pak race which I wrote about in-depth here!
And then there's Arthur C. Clarke's Childhood's End:
"Childhood’s End" follows a peaceful alien invasion of Earth by the mysterious Overlords, whose arrival ends all war and turns the planet into a near-utopia. [Michael] De Luca (The Social Network) is producing with UCP.
I read this Clarke novel many years ago, and unlike Bleeding Cool's reviewer I dug it. As noted above, advanced benevolent aliens arrive on Earth and essentially impose a peaceful Utopia upon us. But at what price? Children becoming part of an advanced hive mind? One of the coolest parts of the novel, in my opinion, is when one of our scientists stows away on board one of the Overlord's starships in order to visit their home planet.
Also apparently in development by SyFy: "The Man in the High Castle" based on the novel by the same name by Philip K. Dick, and "Eyes of the Dragon" based on Stephen King's book. I read the former because it was a recommended alternate history story; however, I was unimpressed.
And, are you ready for a "Tony Stark-in-space" scifi series?
When an alien armada is sighted in the region of Pluto, the Earth government turns to a young billionaire industrialist — who has the only ship ready for interstellar travel — to greet the aliens and avoid a catastrophe. Powered by secret alien technology discovered on Earth in the 1960’s, the ship engages in a firefight that sends them spinning through a wormhole into an uncharted region of space. Lost in the universe, the team struggles to survive as they encounter new planets and alien species, searching for a way back home.
Sounds very Star Trek: Voyager-ish, so with a Stark analogue? Count me in! (Yes, I liked Voyager.)
Well, despite the air of mystery created by Kevin Feige, the EW TV spot pretty much spoils The Mandarin’s nationality. At the beginning of the footage, The Mandarin announces, “My fellow Americans. My soldiers will destroy your country.” So, by addressing his “fellow Americans,” it looks like The Mandarin is claiming to be a homegrown American terrorist.
As the title says, "Oh, brother." It's bad enough that the film will have a different version aired in China, and that the Red Dawn remake had to be redone to make to baddies North Koreans instead of Chinese. I'm not saying (and there's no indication) that Mandy's ID was altered to assuage our Chinese overlords; however, the "disgruntled/vengeance-seeking 'one of our own'" bit is exceedingly boring already. Not to mention that Iron Man was refreshingly pro-American while being anti-war at the same time.
This revelation has the potential to be a huge disaster.
So asks Newsarama. The only one I'd LOVE to see would be #5 -- the Vision.
Others on the list I'd like to see: #2's Hank Pym, #3's Scarlet Witch, and #4's Black Panther.
Forget it: #10's She-Hulk, #9's Tigra, and #7's Captain Marvel (recently Ms. Marvel).
Roland Emmerich talks Independence Day sequels. (That's right -- plural!)
... he plans to wreak a new round of havoc in two sequels – ID Forever Part 1 and ID Forever Part II. The films take place 20 years after the original, when a distress call sent by the first wave of aliens finally brings reinforcements to Earth. ”The humans knew that one day the aliens would come back,” explains the director, who completed two scripts with Independence Day co-writer Dean Devlin and has given them to White House Down writer-producer James Vanderbilt for a rewrite. ”And they know that the only way you can really travel in space is through wormholes. So for the aliens, it could take two or three weeks, but for us that’s 20 or 25 years.”
After the mass destruction of the original Independence Day, what’s left for new aliens to destroy? “We’ve rebuilt,” Emmerich answers, with a smile. “But [the aliens] also do different things.”
This sounds not unlike Marvel's 1970s adaptation of H.G. Wells' War of the Worlds. When the comics giant got the go-ahead to do a comics series based on the classic sci-fi novel, they set it 100 years later -- in the year 2001. The "martians" learned from their mistakes (namely, their lack of defense against basic Terran microbes), and they also manage to disable our nuclear arsenals. This backdrop is the basis for the Killraven Amazing Adventures stories beginning with issue #18 in 1973.
I have a question about ID2, though, from the above quote: If the aliens can traverse a wormhole in 2-3 weeks, why have they waited 20 years to answer the distress call? Unless (and I'm guessing here), their distress call can't travel via wormhole like their ships can; it has to go through normal space at the speed of light. Thus, after receiving the distress summons, the aliens only need those 2-3 to get to Earth.
Of those in the original film, so far only Bill Pullman (the president, but of course he won't be president in the sequel ... I think) is on board. And this sounds cool too:
It’s a changed world. It’s like parallel history. [Humans] have harnessed all this alien technology. We don’t know how to duplicate it because it’s organically-grown technology, but we know how to take an antigravity device and put it in a human airplane.
Oh yes! Massive reverse engineering of alien tech to create a whole new type of society? Huzzah!!
In anticipation of their coming silver screen debut, Comics Alliance's Andrew Wheeler takes a ... well, "look" at a history of Marvel's Guardians of the Galaxy. But he tries so damn hard to be "cute" you won't get the real picture. So, I'm here to give you the lowdown on the original crew (because after that, with few exceptions, they pretty much sucked IMHO).
As Wheeler notes, the team's first appearance was in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 written by Arnold Drake and drawn the master Gene Colan. The first GoG were highly appealing to me because of their hard science fiction feel. Their first appearance is about all Wheeler makes plain, though. He says the team was composed of "four men from different worlds who banded forces to fight the Badoon," but doesn't say that these worlds ('cept one) are all planets in our own solar system. Nor does he mention that two of the team from worlds not Earth are actually genetically engineered humans.
This original incarnation of the Guardians had many cool adventures throughout the 1970s, most of which included time travel. (Of course! How else could they interact with the Age of Marvels?) An excellent chronological history of this team can be seen in Defenders #26, when they journey back to the 20th century and acquire the aid of Dr. Strange and the "strangest NON-team of all" in their [future] battle with the Badoon. In addition, Captain America and the Thing also ventured forward in time to help out the GoG as seen in Marvel Two-In-One #5. Speaking of Marvel Two-In-One, it was in #69 that the 1,000 year old Vance Astro encounters his younger version. (Which, if you read the above-mentioned Defenders #26, you realize Vance can't be that young here as he'll be jetting off to the stars in a mere eight years from the time of this ish.) Old Vance tries to convince his younger self not to get on that rocket ... but the old adage about no two things can simultaneously occupy the same space (or something) begins to wreak havoc on the planet!
In the late 70s, Jim Shooter had the GoG travel back in time to help the Avengers battle Korvac, aka Michael. If you want to read an all-out battlefest issue, as well as some heart-wrenching Shooter dialogue, get a hold of Avengers (vol. 1) #177.
One of the neat things I'll always recall as a teen was in the GoG's [brief] regular appearance in Marvel Presents, specifically #3, where new teammate Starhawk lectures the GoG and humans in general that “Harsh though it may sound, your race’s period of oppression cannot be permitted to excuse whatever excesses it may commit.” The human race had just overcome near extinction at the hands of the Badoon, and were pretty damn bloodthirsty as a result. Starhawk warned the Guardians that, having possession of FTL travel, humanity must not carry this negative emotion to the stars. This was written as pages of text, not word balloons.
Years later, Starhawk appeared as one of the "Cosmic" Avengers alongside Thor, Commander America (descendant of you-know-who), Jhen the Gammazon (She-Hulk's successor), Tachyon Torch (Human Torch's descendant) and Irondroid (employee of Stark Interplanetary) in volume 2 What If? #19.
Most recently (according to the "Hube Calendar," which incorporates cessation of new comics purchases effective around 2004), the Centaurian Yondu's race was featured in the opening sequence of the spectacular Avengers Forever. The "Galactic Avengers Batallion" led by Earth Emperor kin Jonz Rickard (descendant of perpetual sidekick Rick Jones) swarms Centauri-IV and annihilates a substantial portion of the populace in retribution for planning an uprising against the Terran Empire.
Amazon has several editions of the Guardians of the Galaxy stories noted above in trade paperback format.
Dwight Schultz's Lt. Reginald Barclay is one of the more endearing recurring characters on The Next Generation. (Barclay went on to also guest on a few episodes of Star Trek: Voyager in its later seasons; he assisted is trying to find a way for the vessel to get home.) In season four's "The Nth Degree," the bumbling lieutenant and Geordi LaForge are investigating a mysterious probe near the Federation's Argus [Telescope] Array. As their shuttle actively scans the probe, suddenly the duo is enveloped in a brief, bright light. LaForge is unaffected, but Barclay is knocked unconscious. The shuttle hustles back to the Enterprise, where Barclay awakens and appears none the worse for wear.
However, something has definitely changed with the lieutenant. For example, as the probe chases the Enterprise and endangers it with increasing radiation, Barclay overrules LaForge with a hasty shield modification. Barclay's modification, though, increases the Enterprise's shield strength by 300 percent. LaForge, Picard, and Riker are all aghast at what Barclay has just accomplished. Later, Barclay demonstrates remarkable acting skills working alongside Dr. Crusher, who shortly requests a medical once-over of the officer. She discovers that the hemispheres of Barclay's brain are essentially acting as one, single unit now -- giving the lieutenant an approximate IQ of 1500!
Shortly thereafter, Barclay uses the holodeck to create a computer-neural interface (telling the computer how to build it!) as a solution to make up for the "time lag" difference of "just" using the computer to prevent one of the Argus Array reactors from overloading. Once attached to this device, however, Barclay refuses to disconnect himself; he "becomes" the computer and assumes control of the ship!
Defying all authority to cease and desist, eventually Reg creates a space-time distortion which shunts the Enterprise ... 30,000 light years distant! The center of the galaxy!! Suddenly, a huge holographic head appears on the Enterprise bridge and begins spouting off personal observations. Barclay then enters the bridge, having disconnected himself from the interface. He explains that the Cythereans, as the "big heads" call themselves, are "just like us" -- they're "exploring the galaxy." The only difference between them and Starfleet is that the former ... never leave their home. The Cythereans usually reconfigure technology to bring another race's starships/devices to them; however, in this case, the Cythereans reconfigured Barclay. (Well, his brain, at any rate.)
This is what Trek is all about, and you can tell just that by the smile on Riker's face upon hearing what the Cythereans ultimately were up to.
-- The Argus Array telescope featured prominently in a later episode, the 7th season's "Parallels" which features a dimension-hopping Worf.
-- The Enterprise spent a few weeks in the company of the Cythereans. Why the f*** didn't they bring back (and then make use of) their advanced technology? Y'know, like at least the FTL method by which Barclay brought them to the center of the Milky Way?
-- The Enterprise-D isn't the first Starfleet vessel to journey to the Milky Way's center. In Star Trek V: The Final Frontier, the Enterprise-A did it, too. Except that, in the latter's case, using standard warp drive protocols, there is absolutely no way for the 1701-A to make it in the time-frame that they did. It'd take several years to do so ... at warp 9.
Iron Man: Rise of the Technovore, "an original direct-to-video anime movie produced by Studio Madhouse in conjunction with Marvel," comes out in one month. And here's the trailer:
If you've never seen some of the Japanese-made Iron Man anime featured on the cable channel G4, be sure to check 'em out -- they're pretty well done!
Douglas Ernst has the story on how director Shane Black views arch-villain Mandarin:
We use as the example Colonel Kurtz from “Apocalypse Now,” this guy who may have been an American, may have been a British National, someone who is out there doing field work, supervising atrocities for the intelligence community who went nuts in the field and became this sort of devotee of war tactics, and now has surrounded himself with a group of people over which he presides, and the only thing that unifies them is this hatred of America. So he’s the ultimate terrorist, but he’s also savvy. He’s been in the intelligence world. He knows how to use the media. And taking it to a real world level like that was a lot fun for us.
Oh my gad. As Iron Man was a pro-American/pro-good capitalist tour de force, IM3 has the potential to be just the opposite. We now know that the "Extremis" storyline has a major role in the film; it looks like Black took a lot more than just the technical aspect of that tale. In the comics, writer Warren Ellis had a field day using a not-so-concealed analogue of radical filmmaker John Pilger to grill Tony Stark about his life and company.
As I mentioned in this post about Isaac Asimov's Robot/Empire/Foundation universe and Larry Niven's "Known Space" universe, these authors have allowed other authors to "play" in what they've created (Asimov posthumously). Which leads me to ask the title of this post. I can think of one right off the bat: Robert Heinlein's Starship Troopers universe. As far as I know, there was a comicbook series based on the film by the same name, and there is at least one [role-playing] book that utilizes the novel's background. But no new stories in either novel or short story form.
Then again, maybe it's a good thing. After all, look at what Paul Verhoeven did with his 1998 film adaptation. The Terran Federation was turned into a semi-competent quasi-fascistic regime with minimal concentration on how the Federation came about in the first place (and why it worked). To continue the novel's philosophy, it'd take an author that would be truly dedicated to Heinlein's vision. in other words, no "progressives." Off the top of my head, I could see the aforementioned Niven or his sometimes writing partner Jerry Pournelle playing the Troopers-verse.
What are some others?
For all we see/hear about how our [future] creations will eventually turn on us and possibly destroy us (The Terminator, The Matrix, Battlestar Galactica, Colossus: The Forbin Project, I, Robot, the Sentinels in the upcoming X-Men: Days of Future Past), there is is a highly regarded well-known science fiction series that features human creations which seek to save us at virtually any cost: Isaac Asimov's combined Foundation, Empire and Robot universe. These series were always loosely related in Asimov's early days; it wasn't until the 1980s that he began to "officially" connect them. The original Asimov works in each area appeared in the 1950s, and covered approximately some 15,000 years of future human history. Humanity's key development wasn't so much the hyperspatial Jump, but the robot. Asimov's Robot novels are loosely tied to his early Robot short stories, many of which feature noted robot genius Susan Calvin (played by the gorgeous Bridget Moynihan in I, Robot). By the Robot novels' time, some robots have been built in Man's image -- literally. The Spacer societies -- those who have settled the first fifty extra-solar planets -- have developed and made use of these humanoid servants for myriad purposes. The most popular -- and ultimately most influential -- of these robots is R. Daneel Olivaw.
R. Daneel (the "R" standing for "Robot") becomes the partner of noted human detective Elijah Bailey in helping to solve several high-profile killings. (See: The Caves of Steel, The Naked Sun and The Robots of Dawn.) Another robot, [R.] Giskard Reventlov, was constructed with the ability to detect, read, and influence human thoughts. In the crucial connecting novel Robots and Empire, Giskard conceives of the pivotal "Zeroth Law" which overrides Asimov's legendary "Three Laws of Robotics" by permitting robots to act out of regard for humanity as a whole instead of individual humans (the First Law). Using this new Zeroth Law, Giskard allows a madman to make Earth's crust radioactive, thus forcing the vast majority of humanity to venture forth and begin a new wave of settlement across the galaxy. All in the name of preserving humanity.
But that's far from all. R. Daneel Olivaw becomes humanity's ultimate guide, conceiving of various plans through the millennia to maintain and preserve humanity's dominance, and survival, in the Milky Way. Asimov died in 1992 but his estate permitted other authors to "play" in his universe. The "Killer Bs" -- David Brin, Greg Bear, Gregory Benford -- together put out "The Second Foundation Trilogy," which greatly expands upon Isaac's ideas and concepts. The ultimate finale is Brin's Foundation's Triumph which pretty much explains everything you ever wanted to know about regarding the Galactic Empire/Foundation. Perhaps the most controversial was Olivaw's use of "mentalic dampers" -- hidden satellites around each human planet (20 million in all!) which kept the populace calm and tranquil, but also diminished creativity and curiosity. This, psychohistory's and the Foundation's inventor Hari Seldon finally realizes, is what has kept humanity's technology curve static for so very, very long. It was the robots fulfilling their purpose to the extreme ultimate ends.
In another science fiction universe, and one whose time-frame is much closer to the present day, that of Larry Niven's "Known Space," it is a group dubbed the ARM -- the Amalgamated Regional Militia or the police force of the United Nations, which is dedicated (in large part) to suppressing advanced technologies that could endanger the delicate balance of peace which Earth enjoys beginning more-or-less by the late 22nd century. Some of the earliest tales of the ARM are featured in The Long Arm of Gil Hamilton. Hamilton is an ARM agent whose arm was severed in a space mining accident. However, he developed a "psychic arm" which in many ways is superior to the real thing. One of the technologies Hamilton stumbles upon (and has to help suppress) is a "time retarder device."
As humans move into the 23rd and 24th centuries, many extra-solar colonies are settled. In the Niven-authorized "Man-Kzin Wars, we learn that the ARM has "secret societies" that have traveled to the various human worlds to continue their work. The "Man-Kzin Wars" books are assemblages of short stories detailing the centuries-long conflict between humanity and the felinoid Kzin. In many of these tales, we see how the ARM resorts to making use of many suppressed technologies, discoveries and inventions in order to defeat the Kzin. One of these is a stasis field which Earth uses in its most destructive counter-attack against the Kzin to help liberate the human colony at Alpha Centauri. In another, the ARM plans to unleash the "Tree of Life" virus, detailed in Niven's novel Protector, on the planet Wunderland. This would turn a substantial number of humans into the ultra-strong and ultra-smart Protectors who would be more than a match for the brutal Kzin. Yet another is using an A.I. (artificial intelligence) as the brain of an interstellar vessel. All of these inventions/technologies are stored in an ultra-secret "black vault" on the moon.
So, back to the original question: Will we need such overseers to ensure that we don't destroy ourselves? Surely we cannot permit rogue regimes (and terrorist groups) to acquire weapons of mass destruction; however, contemporary [international] laws largely hamstring more powerful (and lawful) nations such as the United States from thwarting such proliferation. In Niven's future Earth, the United Nations was the planet's governing body which passed laws by global referendum. This is what empowered the ARM to do what it did. Niven's United Nations makes the present-day UN appear even more of a eunuch than it already is.
Humanity's present technological curve is staggering when you stop to think about it. Consider how far we've come in just 100 years. Then imagine where we could be 100 years from now. Brin's robotic intervention can account for avoiding this staggering fact in his Foundation book; Niven retroactively incorporated many newer technologies such as nanotechnology (that he didn't/couldn't foresee) into his later novels, in particular his last Ringworld sequel novel, and the "Fleet of Worlds" series. Without someone, or something, to "watch over us," the manner of destruction we could face is varied. A rogue nation or group could set off an EMP which could set large areas back to the Stone Age. The same entities could release a pathogen to wipe out a sizable chunk of the population. And what about a "gray out" from nanotechnology run amok?
The ever-present thin line balancing personal [civil] liberties and national (or planet) security is always a tough issue. How much law enforcement intervention is the public willing to allow in the name of security? We saw what happened after 9/11; devout civil libertarians claimed the US government drastically overreacted. But what would happen if a catastrophe like one noted above occurs? And then there's the question of should we ever let it get to that point? Because if something like an EMP decimates most or all of the United States, the Patriot Act will look like a parking ticket.
If this is half as awesome as it looks, I'm gonna go 'nanners.
How does Star Trek deal with the issue of homosexuality? Easy: Create a genderless society where an inherent disposition towards one gender or the other ... leads to social ostracism! Such was the case in "The Outcast," from Star Trek: The Next Generation's fifth season. The Enterprise is assisting the J'naii, the aforementioned genderless race, in resolving a "null space" issue where a shuttle has vanished. Commander Riker is teamed up with Soren who proves to be quite inquisitive. The two take an instant liking to one another, and Soren reveals that "she" has an affinity for males ... meaning, she leans towards the female gender.
Soren informs Riker that no one among her society must know for she would be sent away for "psychotectic treatments." Riker, being from the highly enlightened Federation, says that such is stupid, cruel, and inhumane, and that it won't stop their budding relationship. Unfortunately, Soren is spotted showing affection for 'ol Number One, and later when Will shows up to work with his new squeeze, he's informed that "she's" been taken away for treatment.
Riker plans on a rescue, and Worf pops by the commander's quarters to inform him that he'll assist. The two clandestinely beam down to the surface of Soren's planet, scrap with a few of the genital-less guards, and as Riker whisks Soren away, she pleads for him to stop. "Why? What's wrong?" Riker asks. It's too late: Sorin has already been "treated." She says "she" knows what "she" did was wrong, and that "she" is "better now." Despite a "But I love you!" from Riker, Sorin remains umoved. "She" tells Will that "she's" sorry, and runs away. The commander and Worf transport back to the Enterprise.
This episode is really Trek's first attempt at addressing homosexuality. Which does and doesn't make sense: Does in that the then-current social climate probably made it too risky to produce such an episode. Doesn't in that you'd expect a society like 24th century Earth to have plenty of homosexuals, with many serving openly in Starfleet. At least Riker's reaction to the J'naii's "solution" to people like Sorin indicates revulsion and horror. Which brings up another point: You'd think a society with whom the Federation does business -- meaning, basically as enlightened as the Fed -- would have eradicated such "treatments" for "deviants" like Sorin long ago.
The Atlantic has a discussion about the latest happenings in the hit show The Walking Dead. Two of the participants argue that the show is a showcase for political conservatism. Take Jeffrey Goldberg:
Andrea, the civil-liberties lawyer of dubious character, ventures to the prison from Woodbury on a misguided mission to make peace between Rick and the Governor. Andrea, like any good liberal, believes that dialogue between two warring parties will inevitably lead to understanding and compromise. "I cannot excuse or explain what Phillip has done but I am here trying to bring us together," she tells Rick, who answers, "There's nothing to work out. We're going to kill him." This exchange echoes a common debate we have in post-9/11 America: Can we come to agreement with Iran/the Muslim Brotherhood/the Taliban -- take your pick. These debates are interesting, in part, because, though we can have our obvious suspicions (as I do) about the incapacity of, say, the Iranian regime to compromise with the United States, we cannot know with 100 percent certainty whether such compromise is, in fact, impossible, because we have only an imperfect understanding of Iran and its leaders.
While it is true that we can't say with 100% certainly that any negotiation/compromise is "impossible" with groups like the Iranian government, what we can ascertain very well is that, at least with groups like the Iranians, is that their rhetoric towards other countries needs to be met with counters of a similar nature. For instance, when Iran says that Israel should be "wiped off the map," why would it be impolitic to respond thusly: "Any move to make good on that statement will result in the utter destruction of you, your regime, and your nation"? Obviously, such a statement would be anathema to Boss Obama. or any contemporary "progressive." To them, groups like the Iranian government are just "misunderstood," and/or act the way they do because it's our fault (usually for meddling in their affairs in the past).
When it comes to outfits like al Qaeda, this is where the attitude of Rick and his group should prevail. There is no redeeming value of such orgranizations. They exist solely to effect terror on populations, to ward over women, children and the meek with complete and harsh authority, and to kill anyone who would challenge them. Period. I happen to think the Governor is more akin to the Iranians (crazy, but possibly able to be dealt with on nakedly self-interest concerns only); however, the world situation with the undead lumbering about everywhere clearly alters this equation. It's kill or be killed. Ironically, Boss Obama has [hypocritically, mind you] adopted this attitude in numerous ways: keeping Guantánamo Bay open, maintaining rendition, continuing US military efforts in Afghanistan, and most controversially, with unmanned drone strikes.
As two of the article writers ponder, all this may be moot. The show's writers may not even be cognizant of any of the above. Goldberg says "I think there's a reasonable chance that they've simply lost control of their characters, and are simply winging it, minute-to-minute." Which I can certainly see ... and which would be a crying shame. This is precisely what occurred with Battlestar Galactica after its first couple seasons. Like TWD, BSG was an immense hit. But then it got silly. (In fact, I wrote a post about this.) TWD hasn't reached the levels of BSG absurdity -- yet -- but it sure might. Rick seeing visions of his wife? Ugh. Little-to-no concern about the copious quantity of blood spatter when zombies are attacking? Yeesh. Zombie found in drinking water well? Let's get it out despite the fact that doing so won't make the water drinkable. Uh huh.
You may recall the insanity surrounding some of the Galactica crew by them not wanting to wipe out the enemy Cylons when they had a chance ... not to mention the very motivations of the Cylons changing midway through the series (apparently the writers weren't prepared for further seasons). Oh, and how about the "revelation" that several of the Galactica crew were humanoid Cylons who had infiltrated the Colonial Military many years before? Funny how even the recent Blood and Chrome movie revealed that the final development of the humanoid versions of the Cylons was still way off. *Sigh*
Ah well. I'll be staying with The Walking Dead ... but I have been losing interest. By BSG's fourth season, I had barely tuned in. I hope this is different.
Jay Nordlinger: "So, a lesson is reinforced: When it comes to comedic frontiers, the [Three] Stooges can be expected to have arrived first."
Let's face it: If you're a guy, you probably dig the Stooges. If you're a chick, you don't. It's highly doubtful that the trio could thrive in today's "hyper-safe, politically correct" environment ... which is what makes them all the more funny (get this) ... eighty years later (from the earliest shorts). Their physical slapstick just cannot be topped. Take the first three-or-so minutes of this part of "Rhythm and Weep":
Or this insanely hilarious Curly moment when his head gets caught in a mine shaft (from "Cactus Makes Perfect"):
Or the crowded car scene from "False Alarms":
I could go on and on and on ... nevertheless, this is comedy. Anything that is still funny 80 years later is the real article, folks!
Fans of The Terminator films and The Matrix trilogy would do well to seek out 1970's Colossus: The Forbin Project. Way ahead of its time in scope, it deals with a massive supercomputer (which has been put in charge of the US's defenses) who hooks up with its Soviet counterpart to ... literally take control of the planet. Unlike Terminator's Skynet, however, Colossus doesn't want to eradicate humanity -- it merely demands it do its bidding in order to survive. (Which may be due to the era in which the film takes place -- Colossus may actually need humans for maintenance and upkeep.)
Younger viewers may chuckle at the huge screens, printers, and the mountain in which Colossus is housed (indeed, miniaturization doesn't seem to have been considered in the early computer age), but figuring that an Einstein-like genius like Forbin would have to utilize the technology of the era to construct what he wants, it makes perfect sense.
The "eerieness" quotient soars when Colossus demands to keep a 24-7 watch over Forbin, and when the computer belches schematics for humans to build its "voice" (see above pic). The now-anachronistic "vocoder" Colossus voice still chills to the bone -- especially when it lectures Forbin that "freedom is an illusion," and how Forbin "will come to love" Colossus eventually.
The flick stars Eric Braeden, probably best known for his long stint on "Young and the Restless," but whom I'll always remember as the bad guy from Escape from the Planet of the Apes. Colossus is based on a novel by the same name, but what I didn't know is that the novel has two sequels: The Fall of Colossus and Colossus and the Crab. These sequels appear to be a bit silly after reading their synopses, but who knows. I've ordered the original, at least, because the novels are usually always [a lot] better than the film versions.
Oh, and if you didn't already figure it out, yes -- this very blog's name and images are [partly] an homage to this great film.
Newsarama's Graeme McMillan does it again with his famed Top Ten lists, this time hitting upon a topic of most interest to yours truly! Here is his list, with any comments by me to follow:
#10. The Legion of Super-Heroes. Featured Superboy traveling to the future to assist. And when he returned to the present, he lost all memory of what he had just did. Was never highly impressed by any of these stories.
#9. Prisoners of Doctor Doom! The first-ever appearance of the evil Doc in FF #5 made use his notorious "time platform" to send three of the quartet back to Blackbeard's time to nab some treasure. The Thing wanted to remain, but he couldn't, natch.
#8. Lost In Space-Time. Being an Avengers fan and a time-travel fan, I simply cannot believe I haven't read any of these stories. So, I promptly rectified that and ordered the TPB on Amazon yesterday!
#7. Doomquest. David Michelinie, Bob Layton and John Romita Jr.'s masterpiece, Shellhead and Doc Doom travel back to King Arthur's time. Was reprised -- in reverse -- almost a decade later (and exactly 100 issues later) when IM and DD go forward to the year 2093. Michelinie/Layton concluded the trilogy many years hence with Iron Man: Legacy of Doom.
#6. Armageddon 2001.
#5. Legion Quest / Age of Apocalypse.
#4. DC One Million.
#3. Avengers Forever. I'd have this at number one, hands down. And here's why.
#2. The Return of Bruce Wayne.
#1. Days of Future Past. The easy choice, I suppose, for the top spot because as it says the tale "changed everything for the X-Men, and created literally decades of stories ..." And, as you probably know, it'll be a major motion picture next summer!
One of the best science fiction series of all time (and true to creator Gene Roddenberry's "positive" vision of the future), I am intimately familiar with each and every episode of this late-80s/early-90s syndicated show. Each week I'll be dissecting an episode, good or bad, which will, if you're not a fan, will spark interest in you.
Our debut post is dedicated to one of the very best episodes of the entire series -- voted on by fans in 1994 as one of the Top Five TNG offerings ever. It comes from what is arguably TNG's finest season, season three: Yesterday's Enterprise.
The Enterprise-D encounters a disruption (rift) in the space-time continuum and while observing it a ship comes through the rift. We then see the bridge of the Enterprise-D undergo a massive change -- it's noticibly darker, Worf is missing, the Starfleet uniforms are different, and ... Tasha Yar is back as security chief. The timeline has been altered by the arriving ship. Yar announces to the incredulous crew that the ship that came through the fissue has Starfleet registry NCC-1701 ... C -- the Enterprise-C. Picard's vessel's predecessor was believed destroyed defending a Klingon outpost from a Romulan attack some 22 years prior. But that was in the timeline we know -- not this altered one.
The Enterprise-D away team transports over to the C and discovers that, though heavily damaged, the ship is salvagable, and there were many survivors of its [obvious] last battle. Wait -- "salvagable?" Why is that important? Because in this altered timeline, the Federation has been at war with the Klingon Empire for years ... and is losing. The C's Captain Garrett informs Capt. Picard that her vessel was in the middle of a battle against the Romulans in defense of that Klingon outpost. Picard informs Garrett that there is no record of her ship's battle, and more importantly, of it defending the Klingons. Data hypothesizes that had the Enterprise-C battled the Romulans on behalf of the Klingons (and most probably destroyed, as it was the C against four Romulan Warbirds), it would have been considered an honorable act by the Klingons ... and possibly prevented the war in which they're now engaged. As it is, it probably appears to the Klingons that the C fled the battle, even though it actually -- accidentally -- vanished in the space-time continuum fissure, brought about by high-energy weapons fire and explosions.
There's one crew member that definitively knows something's up: Guinan. As Data states in the episode, "Perhaps her race has a perception that goes beyond linear time." Indeed. Though she can't put a concrete finger on what is amiss, she frantically tells Capt. Picard that something is wrong -- that "all this" is wrong, and that Tasha Yar shouldn't even be here. She convinces Picard to have the Enterprise-C return through the space-time fissure, even though it will mean certain death for them. The stakes are huge: The lives of the crew of one Federation vessel vs. that of countless billions killed in the war with the Klingons.
Despite the opposition of officers like "Numbah One" Will Riker, Picard discusses the issue with Capt. Garrett and it's decided the C will return through the rift. However, just when things get started, several Klingon vessels show up and attack!
Capt. Garrett dies in the first wave of the attack, leaving Lt. Castillo to lead the C back to its proper time. However, Tasha Yar, who has become infatuated with Castillo, asks Capt. Picard to allow her to beam aboard the C to assist in its return -- since she's not supposed to be alive anyway. Picard agrees, and the 1701-C enters the rift as the Klingons return and pound the living sh** out of the Enterprise-D.
Suddenly, we see things as they were at the very beginning of the episode: Work informing Picard of a space-time disruption ... but now it has disappeared. The timeline has been returned to normal.
"Yesterday's Enterprise" is a gem of the Next Generation series. Five out of five stars, easily.
Grammys? What Grammys? Since music pretty much sucks these days, I opted to watch Battlestar Galactica: Blood and Chrome this past Sunday, a prequel one-shot movie featuring a young Will Adama as a pilot in the Colonial Defense Forces. It's ten years into the Cylon War, and things haven't been going so great for the Colonials. Adama is cocky and enthusiastic, but his first experiences aboard the Galactica show him to be in the clear minority when it comes to vigor in destroying the robotic enemy. And why is that? Well, keep in mind that in this "re-imagined" Battlestar Galactica, the human race created the Cylons to serve them. (In the original 1979 series, the Cylons were "replacements," so to speak, of a near-extinct reptilian species.) It seems many Colonials aren't too hip to go to war with something created by them -- and subsequently treated rather despicably by them.
Adama and a colleague are ordered to transport a computer specialist to a remote ice planet on a secret mission. Supposedly, this specialist will upload a virus into the Cylon systems diabling their communications and defenses, thereby allowing the Colonials to mount a massive offensive. But OOPS! The specialist turns out to be a Cylon sympathizer whose "virus" seems to be akin to that which we saw in the original 2004 BSG [re-imagined] mini-series (which allowed the Cylons to shut down Colonial defenses thereby allowing them to decimate the twelve Colonial worlds), in this case it would reveal the location of a hidden "ghost" Colonial strike force. The specialist, wounded, informs Adama that the Cylons "were only defending themselves" (why they went to war), that the Colonials should negotiate with the Cylons, and that robots seem to value life more than humans.
OK, that's enough since there's really nothing new here from the original [re-imagined] BSG, which contained much of the same overall theme. And how many times have we seen this before? The Matrix. The Terminator. I, Robot. And part of this blog's moniker, Colossus: The Forbin Project. That aside, I'll bring up what was bandied about when the new BSG hit the airwaves -- that almost everything we're treated to these days in entertainment and in particular, sci-fi, is "dark," where humans are always to blame for their own predicament, where the line(s) between good and bad (or evil) are blurred beyond recognition ... or are non-existent altogether.
Was the original Battlestar Galactica too morally unambiguous? In it, the Cylons were created by a human-hating reptilian race which was now all but extinct. The robots wiped out the twelve human colonies mainly due to the traitorous Baltar (who, in the new series, was essentially seduced into revealing defense secrets to a humanoid Cylon), and from there the surviving Galactica led that "rag-tag fugitive fleet" to the mythical Earth. Producer Glen Larson is a Mormon, and wove Mormon themes into the series (many of which remained in the newer version, at least in name). In the middle of its only season in a two-parter, the Galactica comes upon a mysterious being named Count Iblis to whom it is strongly hinted is the Devil. This Iblis is fearful of a group of mysterious white lights that have been tracking him, and now, the Galactica. In the second part, Apollo and Starbuck see something frightening in Iblis' ship (supposed proof of his real ID), and subsequently Iblis kills Apollo. The white lights appear again with an adjacent ship, and angelic-like beings all dressed in white take Starbuck to Apollo -- where he is brought back to life. The battle between good and evil, God vs. Satan is so obvious it'll hit you over the head with a hammer. But is that bad?
Probably the most obvious -- and popular -- of "just plain good (guys)" is Star Trek. Especially with The Next Generation, Gene Roddenberry's optimistic vision of humanity among the stars is simply hard to top. Only Earth and United Federation of Planets appear to have their collective act together in the Trek-verse; everyone else has major issues, whether it's the Klingons, Romulans, Cardassians, or the Borg. The instances of Capt. Picard trotting out treaties and principles that must be upheld despite questionable circumstances are too numerous to mention. Picard threatening to expose a Starfleet admiral because he clandestinely developed a cloaking device in violation of treaty ("The Pegasus")? Check. Picard threatening to expose a Starfleet admiral because he's forcibly removing a population from their planet ... because Starfleet wants the special radiation that surrounds said planet (Star Trek: Insurrection)? Check. Picard rhetorically beating down an over-zealous Starfleet admiral who sees a conspiracy in everything ("The Drumhead")? Check. That was Roddenberry's vision, and he was very protective of it.
Then there's one of my favorite novels, Starship Troopers. Robert Heinlein's masterpiece has a mathematically-derived moral humanity battling it out with a race of intelligent insects in a more-than-obvious Cold War parable. We never doubt who the good guys are; indeed, Heinlein quite often in the book shows us where we were as a species, and why it's so much better now (then, actually, since it takes place in the far-future); in other words, "good." Frequently dubbed fascistic by some critics because of its militaristic tone, the book actually should satisfy left wingers due to its message of "doing what's best for the greater good of all." Except that, the manner in which the sci-fi master gets to that greater good is the issue: Only through a term of military service does one become ingrained with the necessary moral compass to know what's best for all. Or, to put it more simply (as was quoted several times in the not-at-all-like-the-novel film), "Everyone fights, no one quits." And that meant everyone. Generals fought right alongside privates in the trenches. No special privileges were permitted, which was one of the major downfalls of the "old militaries" of the past.
The new BSG, like much of what we've seen in scifi over the last few decades, is awash in conspiracy, intrigue, hidden agendas, and corporate villainy. After a while, it becomes a real downer, frankly. People want to feel good too, which escapism like science fiction can do well ... if you let it. They want to see the future optimistically, to know we can grow ... and do better.
DC Comics has issued a statement in response to gay groups' protests against the anti-same sex marriage creator:
“As content creators we steadfastly support freedom of expression, however the personal views of individuals associated with DC Comics are just that — personal views — and not those of the company itself.”
Many of the commenters at the above link are less-than-satisfied, however. Which, again, in my opinion, is just plain hypocritical. Some stated that being against gay "marriage" means you're a bigot, plain and simple. If this is truly the case, then approximately half the US population is comprised of bigots. Not to mention myriad religious groups.
As often as I've opined about the preachy leftism in comics today, I've never called for a creator to be fired for his/her political views. As Siskoid and I agreed in the comments here, if you don't like the creator, just don't buy his/her stuff. It's that simple.
Avi Green informs us of an article where former Iron Man writer Denny O'Neil claims that Tony Stark is one of nine comicbook characters he considers atheists:
...Larry’s Google search revealed that there are at least 17 atheist characters on series television and – here comes the shocker! – nine in comic books. Among them is a fella I thought I knew pretty well because, for three years or so,I was his chief biographer. Tony Stark’s the name, and Iron Man’s the game.
Avi takes issue with O'Neil's characterization:
Oh good grief. So now Tony's been turned into an atheist? Now that is definitely contrived. If he doesn't believe in God, then he doesn't believe he worked alongside Thor in the Avengers, nor does he believe in Asgard. What next, will the Marvel staff claim he hired Bambi Arbogast as a secretary because she's an atheist too?
Unless I'm mistaken, hasn't it been established that Thor, and hence his homeland of Asgard, is/are actually "just" an advanced race of aliens? The Universe X series (a sort of future history of the Marvel Universe) used this premise, as did clearly the Thor and The Avengers films. Therefore, Avi's defense is moot. That, and it has been clearly noted many times throughout Iron Man's/Tony Stark's long history that he hates magic. Stark is the epitome of a pure scientist -- he defines reality with science. And, I cannot recall any explicit reference in Iron Man or The Avengers where Stark engaged in something religious. Feel free to correct me if I am in error, of course.
To me it is perfectly logical that Tony Stark is an atheist. And I've no problem with that. That is, until some hack "progressive" writer comes along and decides to turn Stark into what too many atheists seem to be today: Whiny, arrogant, holier-than-thou (an oxymoron, I know) quasi-sages who simply know better than you. Merely because they do not believe in a supreme being.
Any fan of John Carpenter's 1982 The Thing has probably seen its prequel, the 2011 film by the same title. Unfortunately for the newer flick, even modern CGI can't make up for its completely unoriginal story -- it's essentially just like Carpenter's film.
However, not only does Carpenter's version leave open the possibility of a sequel, the new one does too. The prequel ends exactly where the 1982 film begins. At the end of Carpenter's story we see the [American] survivors Kurt Russell and Keith David sharing a bottle of whiskey while they await certain death at the hands of the brutal cold. In the new film, star Mary Elizabeth Winstead torches what she thinks is the last remaining Thing, and then attempts to make it to a "nearby" Russian outpost some 50 miles away in the remaining snow vehicle. In both films, we never see what happens to these three.
So, why not find out? The possibilities are endless!
Personally, I like linking a sequel to the 2011 film. Have Winstead make it to the Russian base, and upon informing them of what happened, subsequently a whole gaggle of Soviet military personnel, scientists, etc. make their way down to Antarctica. Finding nothing at the wrecked Norwegian outpost, the Russians make their way to the American base, whereupon they discover frozen Russell and Keith. Around the same time, an American rescue party arrives to determine what happened at the American base since there's been absolutely no communication from it in many weeks. The story now becomes a Cold War parable as the two superpowers race to unlock the secrets of the alien spacecraft, and uh oh! Why isn't Childs dead?? MWAHAHAHAH!
Newsarama's at it again with the Top Ten lists, this time a Worst Comic Book Animated Series of All Time. I haven't seen all on their list, but enough of them to know they're pretty much right on the money. Here's the highlights:
#10 and #2: Fred and Barney Meet the Thing. So bad that Newsarama lists it twice. Some brainchild thought it would be cool to make Ben Grimm (the Thing) a teenager, and have him hang out with the stars of The Flintstones. Seriously. Oh, and "Benjy" Grimm (that's what he was called) changed into the rocky orange monster ... via a ring. And saying "Thing Ring do your thing!" For real.
#9: The Marvel Superheroes. Gotta give a little break here since these came out in the mid-60s. Then again, animation of that era wasn't this lame. Basically, these 'toons were still pictures taken directly from the comics and given occasional animation -- usually just a moving mouth, sort of Clutch Cargo style. My fave Iron Man was among these offerings, and its theme song was immortalized in the 2008 film several times -- like when Stark was playing craps in Vegas (the band in the background), and Rhodey's cell phone ringtone.
#8: Black Panther. This 'toon only saw the light of day in Australia(!), mainly because the animation ain't much better than #8's above! And it was made in 2009! Originally slated for BET (Black Entertainment Television), the John Romita Jr.-drawn show definitely had an anti-Western (and even anti-white) tone.
#6: Avengers: United They Stand. As the Newsarama entry says, where's the Big Three -- Cap, Iron Man and Thor? It's also bad enough that Hawkeye's outfit looks like that from the dreadful "The Crossing," but instead of turning diamond hard, the Vision turns into something like ... a stone statue??
#1: The Fantastic Four. This is the 1978 version which did not include the Human Torch. Really. Because of some copyright hassle, the Torch was replaced by HERBIE the robot in what made for a dreadful half hour of Marvel's First Family.
A couple days ago we filled you in on who's in for what is sure to be THE film event of 2014; now, Newsarama has still more details. For one, it seems at this point that Famke Janssen (Jean Grey) and January Jones (Emma Frost) won't be in the flick.
The plot looks to follow the comicbook story (Uncanny X-Men #s 141 and 142) pretty closely. Director Bryan Singer says that
"It has a lot of aspects of the comic. The actual comic of Days Of Future Past had a whole ton of stuff going on, so it’s like any of these things; you have to distill it. But I think the fans will be pleased that some of the most exciting parts of Days Of Future Past are going to be connected to this movie.
It sounds like it would be easy enough to have several "contemporary" X-Men (those from the first three X-films) portray those in the dystopian timeline -- the necessary Kitty Pryde being one of these) -- and then use the method to contact the past (to hopefully alter the timeline) as seen in the comic (Pryde exchanges consciousness with her younger self). Also, look for the giant robot Sentinels to play a big role (as they do in the comics).
Interestingly, X-Men: First Class director Matthew Vaughn briefly spoke about that film's upcoming sequel:
"I've got some ideas for the opening for the next film," Vaughn said. "I thought it would be fun to open with the Kennedy Assassination, and we reveal that the magic bullet was controlled by Magneto. That would explain the physics of it, and we see that he's pissed off because Kennedy took all the credit for saving the world and mutants weren't even mentioned."
Hmm, I know that Kennedy Trutherism is probably one of the most acceptable conspiracy theories to believe in, but sheesh. At any rate, Newsarama's Albert Ching posits: "Could it be that it's not Robert Kelly's assassination that the X-Men are trying to foil (as in the comics), but rather a much less fictional politician (Kennedy)?"
Very interesting indeed!
Part one of five here.
... over at The Comics Journal.
Newsarama reports that many of the X-film veteran stars are returning for what is sure to be a blockbuster next year. "Days of Future Past" is the classic Chris Claremont/John Byrne X-Men tale from 1981 which establishes a dystopian future (an alternate timeline much used, by the way, in many subsequent issues of X-Men) where mutants have been hunted down and either killed or interned, and North America is ruled by the mutant-hunting Sentinels. This future was triggered by the assassination of Senator Robert Kelly by a band of evil mutants in 1980. (Ironically, the future scenes in the comics take place in our current year of 2013.) Kitty Pryde (played by Juno star Ellen Page in X-Men 3) devises a plan to exchange her consciousness with that of her 1980 counterpart in an effort to prevent the senator's murder, and hence, the dystopian timeline.
Screenrant notes that hotshot comics guy Mark Millar has been tasked with making the film version of "Future Past" tie together all the X-related films. He'll have his work cut out for him. The X-films have paid little mind to continuity in their many offerings. Here's just a sample of the inconsistencies, some repeated from this past post of mine:
So far, Ian McKellen (older Magneto), Patrick Stewart (older Prof X), James McAvoy (young Prof X), Michael Fassbender (young Magneto), Hugh Jackman (Wolverine), Anna Paquin (Rogue), Jennifer Lawrence (young Mystique), Ellen Page (Kitty Pryde), Nicholas Hoult (young Beast), and Shawn Ashmore (Iceman) are all slated to appear in Days of Future Past. It opens July 18, 2014.
Get this: Way- overhyped comics guy Rob Liefeld has penned -- wait for it -- a 100 page screenplay about the formation of Image Comics.
One question: Why?
Well, of course anyone familiar with this hack knows why: I doubt anyone in the industry has a bigger (and undeserved) ego than Liefeld. In the terrific book Marvel Comics: The Untold Story, author Sean Howe says that, essentially, Liefeld came upon the comics scene at precisely the right time. The early 90s were a time of ridiculous speculation in the industry; Marvel and main rival DC were churning out crossover after crossover (so readers would have to buy multiple titles to figure out what the heck was going on), putting out books with special covers (foil and chromium) and other "special" gimmicks. But perhaps most importantly they were [re]introducing a lot of "Number 1" editions. Fans hoarded these editions with the hope that years down the line they'd be able sell them for a lot of money.
It didn't work (for the fans, that is). Though Liefeld-drawn issues and titles with new Liefeld characters sold millions of copies, the novelty of all the gimmicks quickly died out. Comic shops had a glut of #1 issues (which, years later, you could pick up for around 50 cents in bargain bins). Still, Liefeld and other Marvel guys, their egos now as bloated as their wallets, ditched Stan Lee's company and founded Image Comics. (To give you an idea of the conceit the Image guys had, Howe notes that Todd MacFarlane, who gained fame drawing Spider-Man and created Spawn for Image, once bragged to a Marvel editor that he could sell a million issues of a comic that contained only blank pages -- as long as his name was on it.) (Minor correction added 1/27: MacFarlane actually said to editor Danny Fingeroth, "You sell a million, I'll listen to you. If I can turn in 22 blank pages and the kids buy a million copies, who cares how comic books have been done for the past 50 years?")
Just like when they were at Marvel, some of the Image guys (like Liefeld) were missing deadlines, which royally pissed off dealers who were (obviously) eagerly awaiting the books from these "hot" creators. Still, throughout the decade, Liefeld and crew remained in demand ...
... so much in demand that in the late 90s Marvel asked Liefeld and co-Image guy Jim Lee to return to the company in order to "re-imagine" some of their marquee characters: Capt. America, Iron Man, the Fantastic Four and the Avengers. In what was dubbed "Heroes Reborn," these heroes were cast off into a "pocket universe" where the Image duo would rework the heroes' origins and pretty much do as they wished. While Lee's books -- Iron Man and Fantastic Four did well, Liefeld's books, in particular Captain America, were dismal. Marvel ended up relieving Liefeld of his "Heroes Reborn" contract.
Take a gander at some of Liefeld's Captain America (vol. 2) #1 (courtesy of my now-defunct comics blog). First, here's Cap (Steve Rogers) and a guy named Abe:
Notice above that Rogers is about what -- roughly a head taller than Abe? Not so fast:
Look! Somehow, Rogers miraculously grew about two feet, or Abe suddenly contracted osteoporosis and shrunk by same!
And then there's Rob's remarkable grasp of human anatomy:
Yep, there sure are a lot of people out there with arms that dwarf people's entire bodies! Yet, perhaps there is no picture which best exemplifies Liefeld's anatomical ineptitude than this one:
C'mon, say it with me: "W. T. F.??"
The "Reborn" titles were merely a [bad] extension of what made the Image guys famous -- huge, action-based panels with ridiculously proportioned characters ... and very minimal story-telling/dialogue. To show you just how minimal, former Iron Man fanzine Advanced Iron's Bill Egan did an analysis of "Reborn" Iron Man and Acclaim Comics' X-O Manowar. Here's what he found:
Average # of panels per page: Iron Man: 3.18; X-O: 4.5 Total # of panels: Iron Man: 70; X-O: 99
Average # of words per page: Iron Man: 38.9; X-O: 136.23
Total # of words: Iron Man: 856; X-O: 2997.
See? X-O Manowar had roughly three and a half times more written story than Iron Man.
At any rate, if you contain your laughter, be sure to check out some of the pages of the Liefeld's aforementioned screenplay. (Note, too, his bad grammar.) Also, scroll down to see whom Rob wants to play who in the film (he wants Star Trek's Chris Pine and John Cho to play him and Jim Lee respectively).
Via Jonah Goldberg at The Corner:
Briefly sidelined by Sandy, FX’s The Americans started production in New York in December and gets a speedy launch on the network later this month.
The thriller, which stars Keri Russell and Matthew Rhys as embedded Soviet spies in 1981 Washington, DC, made an appearance during Wednesday’s Television Critics Association winter press tour — and producers were quick to emphasize who viewers should be rooting for.
“It might be a little different to believe and get used to, but we want you to root for the KGB,” said EP Joel Fields. “They’re going to try to get the Soviets to win the Cold War.”
History knows they’re fighting a losing battle, but the creative team behind the high-profile launch expressed a confidence that more than enough time has passed for American audiences to not hold a grudge.
Really? What's next -- a show about a team of Nazis embedded within the Warsaw Ghetto in order to track down and murder even more European Jews during the 1930s-40s? Hasn't enough time passed to "not hold a grudge"?
Fields also said “If you tried to tell a story like this about al-Qaeda now, it would be impossible; no one would want to hear it.” How 'bout that? Yeah, maybe 30 years or so hence, we'll be treated to The Infidels, about a team of covert American Islamic jihadists planning major terror attacks within the US. It'll work -- we won't hold a grudge, right?
The Japanese got the corner on the extension, for what it's worth:
It's not an entirely fair question, certainly, given the age of the franchise, but we'll try to be as even-handed as possible. Take a gander at this most-cool graphic (via Insty). In my view, the winner is Jane Seymour (at right; Solitaire from Live and Let Die). She still is seen on those commercials pitching her product line (for whatever store chain it is) and she looks fabulous. And who didn't want Owen Wilson to take advantage of her overtures in Wedding Crashers??
And the "Uh, yeah -- OKs":
First, I admit I dig it for the sheer unbridled fun and patriotism, but anyone with a dose of moderate reality has to admit that the original Red Dawn (1984) is an unadulterated piece of excrement. And it starts right from the very beginning (literally) with what we have to accept before the attack begins:
I suppose if we can buy all of the above, then we can also accept that much of the mixed Soviet/Cuban/Nicaraguan landing forces arrived via "masqueraded" commercial jets. (Shot-down Air Force Colonel Powers Booth tell us so.) I suppose we can also buy that our presumed allies in this whole farce -- the Red Chinese, of all countries -- would just sit back and not answer the annihilation of almost half a billion of their citizens via Russian nukes. (A Wolverine: "I thought there were a billion screamin' Chinamen." Powers Booth: "There were." [Tosses whiskey on fire causing dramatic flare-up] Remember?) I'm no nuclear war strategist, but it seems to me that if China had nearly half its population incinerated, they'd have little qualms about totally retaliating against the USSR in any way possible. It's unlikely the Soviets would zap all of China's then-estimated 360 nukes, so it stands to reason the Chi-Coms would off quite a few Soviet targets in response. Not to mention a land invasion of the sparsely populated western portion of the USSR.
Alas, Booth's statement that the war was "pretty much conventional now" stands to reason. If the Soviets had managed to off much of our land-based ICBMs thus leaving only our nuclear subs, their ultimatum of "If you launch those we will utterly FINISH you" could cause US leaders to refrain from an all-out nuclear counter-offensive.
And why not? The president knows he has THE WOLVERINES defending the western half of our beloved country for him!
Uh huh. Right. Guess the best Russian and Cuban troops were fighting elsewhere.
The Wall St. Journal pans the new Red Dawn flick as "manipulative," full of "horse-pill jingoism," and "plays readily into classical stereotypes."
Those that depict Asia as a Mordor-like alien netherland where every hand wields a weapon and every weapon points at the throat of the civilized West — and those that treat Asians as an interchangeable, all-same mass. Can’t offend these Asians? Well, let’s just say they’re those Asians instead. A little cosmetic adjustment to flags and uniforms, and we’re off to the races....
Writer Tao Jones' solution? Make Red Dawn about invading aliens. Uh, hello?? Independence Day?? War of the Worlds?? Yeesh.
Look, I'm as incredulous as the next guy when I think of North Korea invading the US (instead of China -- remember, the movie had to change the bad guys away from the Chi-Coms because 1) they were pissed off, and 2) you don't want to piss off a movie market audience of that size!); however, if the premise from what I've read is correct, the Norks use a "new type of weapon" preceding their actual invasion. It's probably something like an EMP device which would shut down any and all electronics over a vast area, depending on the size of the device.
Of course, the United States would retaliate completely, effectively turning North Korea into a smoldering glob of radioactive glass. But that would only be slightly worse than what the Norks live in today! Their regime is irrational and paranoid, and if you read One Second After -- about a hypothetical EMP attack on the US mainland -- you'd know that such an attack could result in over 100 million deaths. Think that'd be worth the Norks' existence -- especially if the honcho "intelligentsia" of that country jaunted off to another locale before they zapped us?
Who knows. But it's a freakin' movie, after all. One can only imagine what Jones would whine about had the movie been about radical Islamists using a similar device, invading a portion of America, and instituting strict Islamic law across the region. Not that the filmmakers would have done that, of course ... they wouldn't want a fatwa issued against them!
I cannot believe I neglected to catch the Fox series "Fringe" when it first came out. Thankfully, the Science Channel ran a two-day marathon Friday through Saturday of the series' entire first season ... and is beginning season two regularly on Tuesday evenings. The show is very much like the "X-Files, but concentrates its emphasis on alternate realities -- specifically a particular parallel reality that is causing our own some havoc.
I've always been a huge fan of the "multiverse theory." One of my favorite Marvel Comics titles was What If? which had several volumes beginning in the 1970s which explored, well, what if something happened at a pivotal moment in Marvel history? The inaugural issue detailed what would have happened had Spider-man joined the Fantastic Four (because in Amazing Spider-Man #1 he tried to do just that; see below).
Once an alternate reality has been established by Marvel, it is given a numerical designation. The "main" or "prime" Marvel reality is that of Earth 616 (see here as to why it's this number), whereas that created by Spider-Man joining the Fantastic Four is Earth-772. Some realities have obviously become incredibly popular, such as the Age of Apocalypse reality (Earth-295) via the X-Men, and the Days of Future Past reality (Earth-811) via same, but some of my faves are a bit more ... obscure. Let's take a look, shall we?
EARTH-712. This is the home reality of one of my favorite superhero teams, the Squadron Supreme. I first became enamored with this group because they fought the Avengers during the time I first began to take an interest in [Marvel] comics. The SS is basically Marvel's knock-off version of the Justice League, and they've had a very difficult time of it. I detailed why at my old comics blog over three years ago.
EARTH-1610. Better known as the "Ultimate Universe," this is the reality where classic Marvel characters were "updated" to contemporary times. The Avengers are The Ultimates on this Earth, and much of The Avengers film is based on this team's first volume of issues.
EARTH-9997. The frequently misunderstood "Earth X" universe designed by comics painter supreme Alex Ross, if you want to experience a funnybook cerebral explosion beyond measure, seek out all the "X" trade paperbacks and allot yourself about a week. Then, if you can figure it all out, report back to me.
EARTH-689. This is the reality from the classic Avengers Annual #2 from 1968. In this reality, the Avengers as we know them ended up being diverted here, where they encountered the earliest incarnation of the team. Unbeknownst to our team, the evil Scarlet Centurion had convinced this Earth's Avengers to trounce every other superhero on the globe so as to make the planet ripe for conquest. Check it: The Centurion is yet another manifestation of the classic Avengers villain Kang, and was the main protagonist of Earth-712's super-team, the aforementioned Squadron Supreme.
EARTH-??? The reality that recent commenter (and supposed comics fan) "Questionman" comes from since he obviously has some major difficulties in the realm of reading comprehension and making assumptions.
Via Entertainment Weekly:
Via Yahoo! UK we're treated to the rumor mill surrounding "Episode IV's" possible sequel ideas from the late 70s:
1) Han Solo battles Vader.
The most intriguing rumour nugget on the pile was that Harrison Ford's iconic scoundrel was to wield a lightsaber in the anticipated sequel. It wasn't that simple however; in a battle with Vader towards the end of the film, it was reported that both Solo and Vader's lightsaber's would fuse together, combining the life forces of both.
When Luke came to the rescue, he would be faced with a conundrum: If he kills Vader, would he not also kill his friend?
Hube says: Lame. Han is a rambunctious adventurer who was shown to be very skepitcal of the Force. Nevertheless, if Luke was a full-fledged Jedi in the sequel, I'm sure he could've figured out how to extricate Solo from his predicament, and then lay Vader low.
2) Vampires and Princess Leia falls for the Dark Side.
At one point Luke and C-3PO were apparently going to be captured by a "horrendous" alien and dropped off in a prison full of breathable liquid.
Weirder still, the only way to kill their alien captor was to drive a metal stake through its heart, like Dracula. With no option, Luke was going to melt down his friend Threepio and use him as the stake to kill their oppressor and escape.
In another dark twist, Princess Leia was said to be captured once more by Vader and seduced by the dark side of the force to betray her friends and the rebel cause.
Hube says: The first idea blows, but the second has merit. Imagine seeing how a Dark Side-seduced Leia would be dressed as opposed to the outfit Jabba made her wear in Return of the Jedi!
3) The cast uses time travel.
Black holes and time-warps were both rumoured to be space crevices the Millennium Falcon would tumble through in the 'Star Wars' sequel.
Luke, Han and Chewbacca were allegedly going to travel back to the time of the Clone Wars and fight alongside a younger Obi Wan Kenobi and his padawan Anakin Skywalker.
In another scenario Han and Chewie land on a desert planet to find 13th Century time-travellers fighting Stormtroopers off with crossbows and catapults. As ridiculous as it sounds, the kernel of the idea may have found its way onto the screen in 'Return of the Jedi' with the Ewoks and their Empire-confounding shenanigans.
Hube says: Count me in. I'm a big time travel fan and that first scenario sounds delightful. And, as the article states, it does sound better than what we got in "Episode II."
4) Who was Luke and Leia's pop really?
There was talk of both Obi Wan being Luke's father and the much more interesting idea that Obi Wan is revealed to have murdered Anakin Skywalker, with Anakin not eventually becoming Vader. Obi Wan is a character who barely develops over the course of the original films; remaining a mentor figure and a beacon of the light side. This would have lent a nice darker shade to the character.
Leia's adopted father, the ruler of Alderaan, was also once reported to have a bigger role in the overall story. He was rumoured to be in the pocket of the Emperor, and to have had a part in the destruction of his own planet before escaping to be Palpatine's right hand man.
Hube says: Color me interested. I like the idea of flshing out Obi Wan's character, and how many of you really wondered about 'ol Ben having offed Darth back in the day? Would'a been nice, and certainly would have added a cool maudlin aspect to the story.
5) Who to play the emperor (and more)?
Speaking of Vader's evil mentor, his involvement was correctly predicted early on in reports on the film, but who would play him was subject of some debate. Two names popped up: Christopher Lee and Orson Welles.
Christopher Lee of course got his chance to play a Sith in Episode's II and III, but Orson Welles would have undoubtedly been fantastic as the series' big bad, purely because he's Orson Welles!
There were many other rumours, such as our heroes meeting an evil space queen, Rebels enlisting winged aliens called Quarrels to their cause and Luke convincing Vader to join turn good earlier than he eventually does.
Hube says: Either actor would have made a great emperor; however, who really cares about the other stuff other than seeing Luke convincing Vader to join the good side? That could have been cool, especially a climax with a battle against him and the emperor.
If the rumors are true, ugh:
According to a new rumor, Disney has been asking the same question. While original stars Mark Hamill, Carrie Fisher and Harrison Ford are expected to reprise their roles, what about the most iconic figure in the Star Wars universe? A new report claims the Mouse House is trying to figure out a way to resurrect Darth Vader and have him be a part of the sequels.
“He’s an integral part of the franchise. Replacing him is virtually impossible,” a “film mole” tells British tabloid Express. “The plan is for him to return and play a significant role in the new films.”
The source adds, “This is science fiction, remember. Darth Vader will rise from the ashes.”
Puh-lease. Like many commenters at the link above, I agree that a "ghostly" or "spectral" Darth (like that seen at the end of Return of the Jedi) and/or some flashbacks sequences would be appropriate. But it seems Disney is listening way too much to its other property, Marvel, for advice. Comics fans have had it up to here with gratuitous character deaths and resurrections; if this is the plan for Vader, you can count me out. I'll wait until the damn thing comes on Encore.
Because, y'know, no one demanded it.
First off, Skyfall does not -- NOT! -- top Daniel Craig's debut in Casino Royale. In fact, it really isn't even close. But it certainly is [much] better than Quantum of Solace if that's any consolation.
SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD!
The title comes from the name of Bond's childhood home, which plays a pivotal role in the film towards the end. More on that in a bit. The film opens in Turkey where Bond and a female operative (who'll be revealed later) are after a stolen hard drive that contains the names of MI6 agents the world-over. As 007 is battling the remaining bad guy atop a train, M (Judi Dench) orders the female operative to "take the shot" -- despite the fact that Bond will likely get hit and perish as well. The operative nails Bond, but the bad guy escapes -- with the valuable hard drive. Oops.
Of course we know that Bond survives the shot and subsequent fall (into a river). However, the hard drive leads to the infiltration of MI6 by cyber-genius (and former MI6 agent) Raoul Silva. Javier Bardem is absolutely masterful as the villain -- deliciously devious and incredibly slyly insane. His machinations lead to a massive explosion at MI6 headquarters, resulting in half a dozen deaths and the agency moving to low-tech digs in old WWII era (and earlier) underground bunkers and tunnels.
007, who has been taking it easy, so to speak, somewhere, sees the news about the MI6 on the tube at a bar and decides he has to go back. This is where the film takes a wrong turn, in my view. Taking a page from the not-officially sanctioned Never Say Never Again, Bond hence has to prove himself ready, physically and mentally, to rejoin the British Secret Service. He actually fails to do so, but M green lights him anyway. If you're a big fan of Craig's first two outings as Bond (as I am), this whole "Bond is getting old" schtick doesn't seem to fit as Casino Royale and Quantum of Solace demonstrated that this was a new era for Bond -- a tougher, grittier and more fit 007. Indeed, Ralph Fiennes plays Mallory, the chairman of the government's Intelligence and Security Committee, who continually hassles Bond about his age and fitness (physical and mental). C'man. But then again ... maybe ...
At any rate, the newly reactivated Bond journeys to Shanghai on a lead based on shrapnel taken from a wound from his initial scuffle with the bad guy in Turkey. After dispatching of said bad guy, he then encounters the beautiful Sévérine (played by Bérénice Lim Marlohe) who agrees to take him to Silva. It is here, at a secluded and deserted island, that Bardem really shines as Silva. This sort of role has been played before -- the vengeful secret operative out to get his former employers -- but Bardem takes it to whole other level. He attempts to convince 007 of his "righteousness," even trying to get Bond to join him. It is more than hinted at that Silva is a homosexual, and Bond even hints that he's had a gay tryst (or two) in the course of his many past missions! Whoa! Nevertheless, Bond has been carrying a radio transmitter given to him by the new Q (Ben Whishaw, at right), and the MI6 suddenly appears via several helicopters to take Silva into custody.
Back at the "new" MI6 HQ, as Silva wallows in detention, Q attempts to access Silva's computer. He unwittingly allows the computer to infiltrate MI6's systems (again) thus enabling the villain to escape. Bond pursues Silva through the London subway ("Tube") system, but he escapes (after an incredible Silva-induced subway crash scene). Silva and a few henchmen head for the hearing room where M is testifying before a panel who're miffed at her (and MI6's) intel failures (i.e. allowing that hard drive to be captured). Silva and his cohorts arrive and begin shooting up the place, but M is unharmed. Mallory (Fiennes) surprisingly(?) demonstrates bravery, preventing a few deaths and taking a bullet in the shoulder.
Shortly thereafter, Bond whisks M away from the mess and tells her that they've "been going about this all wrong." Silva has managed to stay one step ahead of the MI6 the whole time because they've "been playing his game." Bond suggests changing the rules, so to speak, and takes M out to the desolate countryside of Scotland ... to Bond's childhood home. To get "away" from technology and go "old school." There we meet the house's keeper, Kincaid, and along with Bond and M he gets the house ready for Silva's inevitable assault.
Silva and a gang eventually arrive and blow Bond's house to shreds in their attempt to kill M (and Bond), but Kincaid has escaped with M through a hidden tunnel while Bond remains in the [shredded] house to continue to do battle. After 007 sets off two huge propane tanks that destroys the rest of the house, the wreckage that goes flying destroys Silva's helicopter, preventing his departure. Only Silva and two bad guys remain now, and they give chase to M and Kincaid. Bond sets off in pursuit, but he's stopped by Silva and co. A last ditch effort by Bond kills the henchmen, but Silva corners M and Kincaid in a nearby chapel. Alas, 007 arrives in the proverbial nick, lancing a knife into Silva's back. But -- M was injured in the attack on the house, and soon after dies in Bond's arms! Thus ends the Judi Dench era as M, begun in 1995 in Pierce Brosnan's Bond debut in Goldeneye.
In the epilogue, it is revealed that the "female operative" (Naomie Harris, at left) who had assisted Bond in the prologue and again in Shanghai is none other than [the new] Eve Moneypenny. She's given up field work and will now work directly with M and the double-Os in the main office. Did I just mention M? Indeed, who takes Judi Dench's place? It's none other than Mallory (Ralph Fiennes), who now welcomes James Bond into his office with a new vigor, perspective, and ... respect. He informs 007 that "there's a lot of work to do" and asks "are you ready?" To which Bond enthusiastically responds, "Yes sir, M -- with pleasure."
Skyfall is a terrific entry to the James Bond mythos. However, as noted at the top, it still doesn't eclipse Casino Royale for sheer awesomeness despite all its critical acclaim and hype. In my view, this is due to Casino's better combination of action sequences to "down time," not to mention its much more diverse locales. In Casino we began in eastern Europe, then to Madagascar, to the Bahamas, Miami, and then to Montenegro. The vast majority of Skyfall occurs in dreary London and Scotland. Skyfall shines, though, with its [re]introduction of classic characters Moneypenny and Q, its homage to what has gone before (the classic Bond theme and music, and the Aston Martin from Goldfinger), and its consistency with keeping Craig's Bond realistic and gritty. I mean, who'da thought that with Q coming back all we'd see him provide 007 with was a palm gun and cheesy radio distress transmitter? Speaking of which, Whishaw's Q is delightfully arrogant and childlike, a perfect specimen for the current generation of cocky technophiles.
Skyfall can easily be placed in the top ten of all-time Bond films, and Bardem's Silva is a top five villain.
Hube's rating: Four out of five stars.
The first two epsiodes are online and available now; the full movie will be on SyFy early next year.
I'd be a lot more enthusiastic about the film if I didn't already know what the outcome was. Nevertheless, it's pretty cool seeing the flashbacks to the Cylon uprising and use of "classic" imagery like the original series Vipers and Cylon Raiders, the original Cylon base-stars, and original Cylon centurions.
Looks pretty good but nothing like the story I read. I don't think the book in it's original form was something that could be made into a film unless they wanted to do it documentary style.
(Via Geeks are Sexy)
Spinoff reports that Episode VII will be an original story -- no basis on anyone's novels or anything else.
“Forget the Star Wars novels. Forget the graphic novels. Forget everything you think you know about what happens to Luke Skywalker. According to my sources, Episode 7 will literally be nothing you’ve ever seen or read before from the Star Wars universe.”
Disney has just acquired the rights to Lucasfilm (George Lucas' film company, natch) and promises a brand new Star Wars flick in three years:
For the past 35 years, one of my greatest pleasures has been to see Star Wars passed from one generation to the next… It’s now time for me to pass Star Wars on to a new generation of filmmakers. I’ve always believed that Star Wars could live beyond me, and I thought it was important to set up the transition during my lifetime. I’m confident that with Lucasfilm under the leadership of Kathleen Kennedy, and having a new home within the Disney organization, Star Wars will certainly live on and flourish for many generations to come. Disney’s reach and experience give Lucasfilm the opportunity to blaze new trails in film, television, interactive media, theme parks, live entertainment, and consumer products.
Ms. Kennedy will serve as executive producer on new Star Wars feature films, with George Lucas serving as creative consultant. Star Wars Episode 7 is targeted for release in 2015, with more feature films expected to continue the Star Wars saga and grow the franchise well into the future.
I've never read any Star Wars-related novels, so I've no idea whatsoever what a sequel would entail. A continuing battle between Rebel forces and those of the Galactic Empire leading to a restoration of the Galactic Republic? An all-new force of Jedi Knights? The execution of Jar Jar Binks?
Whatever the case, I'll be there come 2015.
In case you're wondering:
Comicbook rendition of the Mandarin.
And ever wonder just what Mandarin's Ten Rings of Power can do? Wonder no more:
Spinoff says that the new X-Men: First Class film (due in July 2014) will be based on the classic early 80s "Days of Future Past" story by Chris Claremont and John Byrne. If true, this could be the blockbuster of all comics films, at least in terms of plot. The comics detailed a dystopian future where the Sentinels have killed just about every superhero in North America and basically rule the continent, dividing people into three distinct groups -- human, mutant potential, and mutant -- and are preparing to spread that rule elsewhere. Other countries have warned that if this happens, they'll unleash their nuclear arsenals against them. To prevent worldwide nuclear holocaust, a few mutant survivors -- Magneto, Kitty Pryde, Colossus, Storm, and Wolverine among others -- concoct a plan to have Kitty exchange minds with her younger self in the early 80s to warn the X-Men about the "catalyst moment" that led to the bleak future: The assassination of Senator Robert Kelly. (He was featured in the first X-Men film -- captured by Magneto and turned into an "artificial" mutant who then subsequently died.)
Spinoff reports that the sequel "might" feature the giant robot Sentinels; if it doesn't, it'll be lame, quite frankly. But Mark Millar in the article mentions "time travel" and "robots," so who else would these robots be? Not only that, fans got a tantalizing taste of the Sentinels in X-Men 3's Danger Room scene, and the mutant-hunting robots have been an X-Men staple villain since the mutants' earliest adventures. It just makes pure sense to feature them.
Woody Harrelson, Martin Sheen, and Ed Asner are among those signed on to the project.
No word yet on whether trust funder Jason "Reasonable People Can Disagree About Whether or not George Bush Had Prior Knowledge of the 9/11 Attacks" Scott of the Local Gaggle of Moonbat Bloggers will help bankroll the film.
My bud Carl over at Carl's Comics was the inspiration for this idea, especially since he recently wrote about one of the biggest sci-fi lemons of all-time. Ladies and gentlemen, I give you, from the year 2000, Battlefield Earth.
Star John Travolta apparently wanted to make this film since he is a well-known Scientologist and B.E. was written by the cult's founder, L. Ron Hubbard. Based on Hubbard's book of the same name, it details an enslaved humanity (what few remain) ruled by the Psychlos -- approximately nine-foot tall aliens with six fingers, huge, hairly heads, and colorful eyes. The film doesn't even really try very hard to hide the ridiculous elevator shoes that stars Travolta and Forest Whitaker have to wear to "gain" such a height. These Psychlos apparently come from a different dimension, not just a different planet (according to the novel, that is; the film is cryptic about this), and they're basically like Star Trek's Ferengi species -- merciless capitalists who've ruined Earth for its supply of gold.
Which is stupid. Really. If you want gold then why not freakin' mine some asteroids, huh?
"No, instead we're gonna invade and destroy another intelligent species whose atmosphere is poisonous to us, and whose remaining population we need to mine our precious gold because radiation (radiation? That must be from the weapons we used against the humans) will ignite the gases we need to breath.
"Oh, and then we'll construct a glass dome over the city of Denver which will contain our natural atmosphere. Not something nigh-unbreakable like plexiglass or even, y'know, an advanced material since we're a dimension-hopping intelligent species ... but glass. That's not risky, right?
"Oh, and how did we become so developed when we can't even start a freakin' fire in our own atmosphere? One of those pesky human slaves, after all, managed to hop aboard one of our teleport machines with an atomic bomb ... and set it off on our home planet. One second later it was 'Goodbye, Psychlos.'"
Lest you think the silliness is solely the realm of the Psychlos, imagine a bunch of near-feral humans discovering a thousand-year old military depot -- with miraculously preserved equipment and devices -- and then operating what they find nearly flawlessly. Feral humans flying jet aircraft -- taking on and defeating Psychlos fighter craft. Y'know, the same sort of craft which Travolta brags about earlier in the film as destroying the world's greatest military in around twelve minutes. And those human aircraft were piloted by experts!!
So, if you're looking around for a delightfully dreadful scifi flick which will make you laugh quite often (and not on purpose, mind you), Battlefield Earth is for you.
Our own Wilmington News Journal has a write-up today about the new NBC drama "Revolution" -- about life in a society where all electrical power has vanished. It takes place fiften years after the "event."
My question is: Is it realistic? I'm not watching because I've become so turned off by the "unrealisticness" of such programs. Most recently, I gave TNT's "Falling Skies" a shot, but frankly, it's terrible. I dropped it after the first season, and that was pushing it to the limit. Even decent actors Noah Wylie and Will Patton can't save the show from basic silliness and the crappy acting of the other stars. Recall that the re-imagined "Battlestar Galactica" fell victim to not being realistic even right off the bat; however, great stories and a good measure of conflict between the realists and "unrealists" on the show made it great until the middle of the third season or so.
I'm curious as to the explanation of how all power worldwide could suddenly be extinguished. It seems way too far-fetched. Even an EMP (electro-magnetic pulse) attack couldn't blanket the entire globe simultaneously. For a really realistic (and scary) look at what would happen after an EMP attack (on the United States), go read William Forstchen's One Second After.
If you're watching "Revolution," let me know what you think.
... about "Star Trek: The Next Generation" (it's its 25th anniversary, after all). McMillan writes
Here’s the terrible secret about The Next Generation: The first year is kind of terrible. At first I thought that, perhaps, I was being a little too harsh on it – I’m not the biggest fan of the series, and, I figured, perhaps there are some odd charms that I’m missing because I’m not one of the hardcore – and so I asked Twitter for some guidance, only to receive a quick affirmation of my original feeling: For those looking to make a start on the show today, you might do well to skip that first year.
(That’s not to say that there aren’t any good episodes that year, but they’re few and far between, and even the best don’t compare that well with the average episode from, say, season three or four.)
The second season, too, may be better left untouched, at least to start with, if the Twitteratti are to be believed. That’s a fair assessment; although the show had improved greatly on its first outing, too many things are still falling into place to be able to convince the uninitiated. The second season makes for a fine place to back up and revisit once you’ve decided that you actually like this whole Next Generation in the first place, but considering everyone is still wearing their onesie costumes and there’s a replacement doctor for the whole year, maybe it’s not a good place to throw yourself into without some immunization.
He goes on to note that TNG really begins to rock with season 3, and I totally agree. I didn't really get into TNG until then, and you can instantly tell that that's where the series finally caught its stride. As Graeme advises, I caught seasons one and two in reruns years later. I realized (easily) I didn't miss very much.
Here's the most worthy episodes (very subjectively speaking, of course) of TNG's otherwise dismal first two seasons:
This is interesting.
Fair warning: NSFW, violence, language etc.
Friends, Americans, Countrymen! Lend me your ears;
I come to bury this movie, not to praise it.
Seriously, we have some major disagreements in this country but I think we can all agree that this fiasco has to be destroyed:
Screen Rant has the details. But based on the (hilarious) video below, is Starfleet really ready for a starship-leading Captain Worf?
Celebrating the 25th anniversary of the hit show, CBR is asking the title of this post. I'm a huge fan of a the series, and 'tho some aspects of it are already dated (away teams don't take miniature cameras with them so the poor captain has to sit and imagine what's going on, like some 1930s radio listener?), aside from most of the first two seasons, the episodes are pretty well written.
I've been pretty consistent in ranking my top five entries of TNG over the years, although they may have switched places here and there:
1. "Yesterday's Enterprise." A rift in time propels the Enterprise-C twenty-two years into the future to encounter the Enterprise-D, drastically altering the timeline. The Federation and Klingon Empire are at war, and the former is losing. The older Enterprise must return to its own time at all costs -- but will it make it?
2. "The Inner Light." Capt. Picard is zapped by a beam from an alien probe and lives out an entire life as a member of that alien species ... in the span of 25 minutes. Patrick Stewart is at his Shakespearean best. (A drastically aged Picard at left, actually only about 20 minutes old.)
3. "The Best of Both Worlds." This season 3 two-parter is a no-brainer, really, as while it didn't introduce the Borg (that occurred in season 2's "Q Who?") it put them front and center as the Federation's newest -- and greatest -- nemesis.
4. "Parallels. Worf is propelled from reality to reality while his crewmates try to figure out just WTF is going on. One of the "solutions" ends up bringing hundreds of thousands of Enterprises (all from other realities) into a single reality, including one captained by a cheesily bearded Riker whose reality has been overrun by the Borg. Classic.
5. "The Measure of a Man." A no-action masterpiece, it features Picard defending the right of the android Data to exist as a sentient being: "The goal of Starfleet is to seek out new life! Well, There. It. Sits!!"
-- "The Drumhead." A McCarthyite Federation admiral sees a conspiracy among Picard and the crew of the Enterprise. Picard's stoic rebuttal in the final hearing is something we should never forget.
-- "Unification." Generations meet as Spock essentially gets suckered by unscrupulous Romulans into believing they want to reunify with their Vulcan cousins. Picard and Data go undercover as Romulans to set him straight.
-- "First Contact." We finally get to see how the Federation goes about revealing itself to civilizations that are on the cusp of interstellar travel. And it doesn't always work out as planned.
-- "Darmok." Basic communication thwarts the Federation from establishing a relationship with the Tamarians ... until drastic action by a Tamarian captain makes Picard realize the race communicates ... entirely by metaphors.
-- "The Nth Degree." Recurring guest star Dwight Schultz reappears as the aloof Barclay and here he is zapped by an alien beam which makes him a super-genius. He takes over the Enterprise and devises a means to travel 30K light years in seconds, bringing the ship to an advanced civilization in the center of the galaxy. In short, Barclay was "programmed" to do just that by the beam, because the aliens "explore" the universe by bringing others to them.
As we noted back on the 3rd, this remake is due to hit theatres just before Thanksgiving.
Two things about the trailer: It looks like the North Koreans make use of an EMP to disable a section of the country (or maybe all of it -- "central command" is mentioned as being "taken out"). This (thankfully) makes sense as there's no other feasible way the Norks could mount an invasion without something like that. Second, the head Nork baddie is the same actor (Will Yun Lee) who played the Nork bad guy in Pierce Brosnan's last Bond flick, Die Another Day.
Oh, and one more thing: How many homages to the original film can you spot in the trailer?
My favorite entertainment mag features readers' takes on the best and worst movie remakes of all-time. One asterisk means I've seen only the original; two asterisks only the remake; three asterisks I seen both original and remake. (Of course, no asterisk means I've seen neither.)
First, the best:
#10. The Fly.***
#9. Dawn of the Dead.***
#8. The Magnificent Seven.
#7. 3:10 to Yuma.
#6. The Birdcage.
#5. The Thomas Crown Affair.**
#4. The Thing.***
#3. True Grit.
#2. The Departed.
#1. Ocean's Eleven.**
#10. Conan the Barbarian.*
#9. The Longest Yard.*
#8. Clash of the Titans.*
#7. The Day the Earth Stood Still.***
#6. The Women.
#5. Planet of the Apes.***
#4. The Pink Panther.*
#3. The Stepford Wives.
Admittedly, I've been remiss in not yet catching True Grit and 3:10 to Yuma from that "Best" list. They're highly recommended from what I've heard. And you really can't blame one for not seeing some of those lame remakes -- what incentive is there, really? For instance, I loved the original The Longest Yard (see right), but then read that the remake was beyond awful. Why would I want to see it -- even for free on HBO or Encore?
On the heels of their BEST all-time comicbook film performances list, Newsarama now has their WORST such performances top ten. There's definitely some head-scratchers on their list; here's their entire ten:
OK, I exempt myself from commenting on #7 or #2 because I haven't (mercifully) seen the films. #1 is the best call, for, as Newsarama says,
We don't think actors like George Clooney, Tommy Lee Jones, Jim Carrey, Val Kilmer and yes, even Arnold Schwarzenegger, all inexplicably turned in their career-worst performances in those movies. We just think they were hung out to dry in perhaps the most ill-conceived comic book project ever put on film (Jonah Hex notwithstanding).
I have real issues with having Maguire, Reeve and Routh on the list. While Andrew Garfield is definitely better than Maguire as Pete Parker/Spider-Man, Maguire wasn't so miserable as to make a top ten list like this. And Reeve (and Routh, whose performance was so similar) on the list is way too nit-picky; Newsarama just doesn't like the way he portrayed Clark Kent/Superman, not so much that his acting and characterization was bad. And was January Jones that bad as to make this list? Not in my view.
Here's some notable omissions. (And note that Newsarama purposely omits some of these as "unworthy" of mention. Aside from Roger Corman's never-released Fantastic Four, I don't think that is really fair):
Anyone we're missing?
November 21st, to be exact. And it stars Josh Hutcherson (Hunger Games) and Chris Hemsworth (Thor, Avengers) -- big names, eh? Well, the flick was shot back in 2009 before these two became big names. Kinda works to the studio's advantage! Still, check out the plot:
In Red Dawn, a city in Washington state awakens to the surreal sight of foreign paratroopers dropping from the sky – shockingly, the U.S. has been invaded and their hometown is the initial target. Quickly and without warning, the citizens find themselves prisoners and their town under enemy occupation. Determined to fight back, a group of young patriots seek refuge in the surrounding woods, training and reorganizing themselves into a guerrilla group of fighters. Taking inspiration from their high school mascot, they call themselves the Wolverines, banding together to protect one another, liberate their town from its captors, and take back their freedom.
Gosh, what was omitted? That the invaders are North Korean. That's right, North-freakin'-Korean. A country which can't even feed its own people, and they're gonna invade and occupy us. In the original [reboot] script, the invaders were Chinese, but apparently this didn't sit well with the ChiComs. And the studio was worried about losing profits from the huge Chinese film market.
But ... North Korea? I certainly hope this is more of a "terrorist"-style invasion -- that the Norks invade a small geographical area and hold it hostage for some devious deal-making purpose. If it's akin to the original 1984 film where the Soviets (along with some Cubans and Nicaraguans) invaded the entire United States, it'll be laughable on its face ... and hence only worth a DVD viewing Mystery Science Threatre 3000-style.
The master of the comics Top Ten lists, Newsarama, has up a Top Ten Comicbook-Based Movie PERFORMANCES of All-Time. It should be no suprise that Heath Ledger's Joker comes in at #1, while Robert Downey Jr.'s Tony Stark/Iron Man ranks #2. You can check out the rest for yourself, but who did Newsarama omit? I can sure think of a few ...
Terence Stamp as General Zod (Superman II). Seriously? Is there anyone out there who would argue that Stamp doesn't deserve to be on this list? If so, check your papers. Stamp's Zod set the stage for comicbook film villainy, even moreso than another omission ...
Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor (Superman, Superman II, Superman IV). Although his role was a bit diminished in Supes II, Hackman was at his deviously hilarious best here. "BOW, YIELD, KNEEL!" he openly mocks Zod, and as the general is about fed up, Superman appears ... and then Luthor exclaims "Superman, thank GOD! I mean, GET 'IM!!"
Michael Fassbender as Magneto (X-Men First Class). He's simply brilliant as the troubled mutant who eventually parts ways with friend Charles Xavier to lead his own team against humans who would subjugate them.
Wesley Snipes as Blade (the Blade films). He's best in the first film, adding in his unique blend of cocky humor as he decimates vampires right and left. The fact that it was rated "R" works perfectly for Snipes.
This looks totally kick-ass:
The network has bought drama pitch Founding Fathers, from Di Bonaventura Pictures TV and ABC Studios. Written by feature scribe Rich D’Ovidio (Exit Woods, Thir13en Ghosts), Founding Fathers is described as “Donnie Brasco set in the world of Texas militias.” It centers on Nick Keating who, after serving a third tour in Afghanistan, returns home to find his small Texas town under the control of a militia group led by his older foster brother.
A mainstream media network ... doing a drama about an American militia group? Gee, what could it POSSIBLY be all about? Anyone wanna take a stab at the subjects broached on this show?
This is Hube's Dark Knight Rises review (because, as usual, no one demanded it). Let's just say this quickly and up front: If you're a so-called "progressive," you ain't gonna like this movie.
Wait a second -- if you're a radical "progressive," you might like this movie. You probably won't dig the ending, however.
SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD. YOU'VE BEEN WARNED.
First of all, this is one damn good flick. Chris Nolan tops even The Dark Knight, the second installment of his trilogy, with this almost three hour-long epic finale. The pace is quick enough that the "slow" spots in no way bog down the story. The villain, Bane, is an "excommunicated" member of Ra's al-Ghul's (Liam Neeson in Batman Begins) League of Shadows who seeks to finish Ra's' work in "cleansing" Gotham City. Ironically, Gotham has had numerous years of peace since the ending ofThe Dark Knight, the middle installment of the trilogy. Batman is believed to be a murderer, and Harvey Dent is made into a hero. Bruce Wayne is a self-imposed recluse in his mansion, never venturing outside.
The "trigger" for Wayne ending his exile is the appearance of Selina Kyle (Anne Hathaway) in his mansion during a party. Wayne recognizes the pearls she's wearing as his mother's. Turns out Kyle is a "cat" burgler, or, if you prefer, the Catwoman. It also turns out that Kyle had snatched Wayne's fingerprints from his own safe for devious use later in the film.
Eventually Bane and his loyal League of Shadows followers infiltrate Gotham and begin to execute their plan of isolating the city for eventual destruction. Massive explosives are planted throughout the city, and Bane manages to snatch Wayne Industries' [secret] fusion reactor core. Bruce pulls his Batman uniform out of mothballs and goes after Bane -- but this first encounter goes horribly wrong. In a clear homage to the classic comic confrontation, Bane slams Batman's back over his knee, incapacitating him.
Bane uses the fingerprints stolen from Catwoman to deplete Wayne's vast fortune, and while Bruce languishes in Bane's old prison with a broken back, Bane and the League consolidate their hold over Gotham. The fusion core stolen by Bane will decay in five months, thus, of course, (conveniently) granting Wayne time to recover in prison to come back and save the day. In what (again) is a three-hour flick (which, though, doesn't seem that long at all), this is the most rushed portion of the story. Wayne's recovery and time in prison should have logically taken more of the film's content. Nevertheless, with the assistance of several other prisoners, Bruce's back gets fixed, and he escapes back to Gotham.
Once back in the city, Batman now teams up with [now-rationally thinking] Catwoman and the now-freed police force to wage war against Bane and the League. The main goal is to find the fusion reactor core, which Bane has hidden in a lead-lined truck which is continuously driving through the city's streets (along with numerous decoys). As Bats pummels Bane and is about to emerge victorious, Miranda Tate (Marion Cotillard) suddenly thrusts a knife into the Dark Knight's side! She reveals she is Ra's Al Ghul's daughter, Talia. (In the comics, Batman and Talia were once lovers and had a son, but no such connection is mentioned nor implied in the film.) As Bane recovers and is about to off Batman, Catwoman shows up and blasts the villain to Kingdom Come. But Talia has escaped and plans to set off the fusion core ASAP!
Needless to say, Batman saves the day and you should probably guess how if you have been paying attention to the film. And Nolan definitely leaves the trilogy wide open for a sequel (even though he has said he won't be the one doing it/them). I won't spoil these last five minutes or so of the movie ... because they're so damn awesome.
Now, the politics:
As I noted above the fold, if you're a "progressive," you won't like DKR. And if you do, you're a far-left radical "progressive." If anything should give away that villain Bane is no Occupy Wall Street-style hero, it's the brief early mention that he sold his [terrorist] services to a rich corporate type to assist in the overthrow of a small African nation ... to secure mining rights for the corporate type's company.
In essence, Bane's whole "revolution" can remind one of the French Revolution. What seems to have noble goals and purpose quickly degenerates into mass chaos -- or, the tyranny of the masses, if you will. Bane's "revolution" actually never has any noble goals like France's, although it certainly does appeal to many in the Gotham underclass as they ransack the "wealthy's" homes and businesses for their own, ironically, personal avarice. In France it was called the Reign of Terror which lasted for about one year. In Gotham, it persists for five months; as noted above, this is the duration in which Wayne Industries' fusion reactor core, captured by Bane and co., will decay and then explode, decimating the city. France's Revolutionary Tribunals meted out immediate and swift "justice" via the guillotine; Bane and the League of Shadows set up similar kangaroo courts (featuring head judge Jonathan Crane -- Scarecrow from Batman Begins), and their "guillotine" is "exile" -- walking across the frozen river surrounding Gotham which no one survives. Everyone eventually falls through the ice and drowns.
And Bane -- is Bane a Maximilien Robespierre analogue? Once Max was elected to France's Committee of General Security during the Reign of Terror, terror became its formal policy (my emphasis):
"It is time that equality bore its scythe above all heads. It is time to horrify all the conspirators. So legislators, place Terror on the order of the day! Let us be in revolution, because everywhere counter-revolution is being woven by our enemies. The blade of the law should hover over all the guilty."
Robespierre himself stated,
If virtue be the spring of a popular government in times of peace, the spring of that government during a revolution is virtue combined with terror: virtue, without which terror is destructive; terror, without which virtue is impotent. Terror is only justice prompt, severe and inflexible; it is then an emanation of virtue; it is less a distinct principle than a natural consequence of the general principle of democracy, applied to the most pressing wants of the country ... The government in a revolution is the despotism of liberty against tyranny.
Bane and the League of Shadows believed that what they were doing to Gotham was "virtuous" (just re-examine Ra's Al Ghul's speeches to Bruce Wayne in Batman Begins), and hence their terror was "an emanation of that virtue." Just listen to Bane's speeches to Gotham's populace at various locales, especially the football stadium -- where he also promptly breaks the neck of a scientist in the name of his "virtue." (Gotham's football team, by the way, was comprised of the roster of the Pittsburgh Steelers.) Bane was merciless -- just like Robespierre, who "saw no room for mercy in his Terror, stating that 'slowness of judgments is equal to impunity" and "uncertainty of punishment encourages all the guilty'." Backtrack to the "courts" headed by Scarecrow.
Catwoman, again played by (the amazingly built) Anne Hathaway, personifies the "second thoughts" about the "revolution." Never clearly having taken a side in the whole ordeal, Cat essentially rolls her eyes at her friend's exclamation that the contents of a ransacked (supposedly upper-class) home were "the people's" now. Despite her past self-absorption (and statement to Bruce Wayne that we've all seen in the movie's trailer about a coming class war), Cat realizes that she has to do something -- alongside Batman -- to thwart Bane and the League's plans for Gotham, for they've clearly gone way off the deep end.
And need I mention that the eventual authoritarian dictatorship that inevitably arises from such a "revolution" leads to what we've seen time and time and time again in the communist/socialist "paradises" from history? After Bane and the League take over, the residents of Gotham are routinely stopped by League members (secret police) asking what they're doing, and some are snatched up to face the Scarecrow kangaroo court. And perhaps most significantly, we see long lines in the streets waiting for basic necessities like food, clothing and fuel (ahem, like the old USSR, East bloc countries, Cuba, North Korea, etc.).
An aside here: Keep in mind that the American Founding Fathers abhorred direct democracy, which they rightly believed would lead to "tyranny of the majority" -- or masses, if you will -- a term coined by Alexis de Tocqueville in his classic Democracy in America. Aristotle said that "democracy [is] a perversion of constitutional government in the interest of the needy." Alexander Hamilton said, “We are a Republican Government. Real liberty is never found in despotism or in the extremes of Democracy.” The Founders codified republican measures in the Constitution, not democratic ones. Things like checks and balances. The Electoral College.
While it's obvious that director Nolan is no fan of the Occupy movement, especially its more radical strains, keep in mind this doesn't mean he lets corporations and their bigwigs off the hook. Indeed, as mentioned earlier, one of Wayne's business rivals had made use of Bane in securing mining rights in an African nation, and there's the undercurrent commentary that truly virtuous corporate types like Bruce Wayne can never -- or almost never -- really help out the community or world at large because their less virtuous rivals will always seek to stop them. Wayne's fusion reactor is the personification of this. Bruce never sought to activate the reactor -- which generates incredibly plentiful, and cheap, power -- in part because of just what Bane and co. did -- turn it into a weapon.
... he's not new to the Batman movie scene. He was actually a bit character in the execrable Batman and Robin from 1997.
He was easy to forget ... as was the movie itself. Of course, however, if you're a Schwarzenegger fan, his cheesy one-liners as Mr. Freeze are for you: "Ice to see you!" "Let's kick some ice!" "Cool party!"
It was bad enough that Rush Limbaugh hypothesized that Hollywood was releasing The Dark Knight Rises -- whose villain is named Bane -- to coincide with the latest round of Boss Obama attacks against Mitt Romney ... those linking him (or not linking him) to Bain. Now, Team Boss Obama is doing the same in reverse:
"Bane" is the terrorist in the new movie who drives the caped crusader out of semi-retirement in the final Batman movie. Democrats, who believe they have Romney on the ropes over the president's assault on his leadership at Bain Capital, said the comparisons are too rich to ignore. "It has been observed that movies can reflect the national mood," said Democratic advisor and former Clinton aide Christopher Lehane. "Whether it is spelled Bain and being put out by the Obama campaign or Bane and being out by Hollywood, the narratives are similar: a highly intelligent villain with offshore interests and a past both are seeking to cover up who had a powerful father and is set on pillaging society," he added.
Thankfully, one of comicdom's few conservative-leaning creators and co-creator of Bane, Chuck Dixon, throws ice water at this nonsense:
As for his appearance in The Dark Knight Rises, Bane is a force for evil and the destruction of the status quo. He’s far more akin to an Occupy Wall Street type if you’re looking to cast him politically. And if there ever was a Bruce Wayne running for the White House it would have to be Romney.
The Washington Times' Kerry Picket continues:
The DC Comics character Bane is best known for releasing all of Gotham City's criminals from Arkham Asylum. Batman is pushed to the point of exhaustion as he rounds them all back up, but Bane is waiting for him and breaks Batman's back. Bane brings forth chaos, anarchy, and lawlessness. Mitt Romney is not the first person to come to mind as far as the character of Bane is concerned. In fact, the chaos that Bane brings is reminiscent of Occupy Wall Street protests.
If anything, Selina Kyle, aka Catwoman, would be better suited to what the Dems have in mind -- based on what she whispers to Bruce Wayne in the flick's trailer: "There's a storm coming, Mr. Wayne. You and your friends better batten down the hatches. Because when it hits you're all going to wonder how you ever thought you could live so large and leave so little for the rest of us."
That's still nonsense -- the premise that if others gain someone has to lose -- but it makes a helluva lot more sense than tryin' to make Mitt Romney out to be an Occupy Wall Street guy!
... here's what you get when you have a writer assigned to a topic for which he knows next to nothing:
Imagine that you are a child billionaire, orphaned in a mugging that goes terribly wrong. You decide to devote yourself to making sure that no one else will suffer as you did. But how? Do you open a series of outreach centres, hire probation workers, sponsor rehabilitation schemes? Or do you put on a rubber suit and prowl the streets at night, clobbering members of the underclass until they promise to stop breaking the law?
This is the Telegraph's (UK) Robert Colvile "informing us" just what Bruce Wayne/Batman is "really about." Because he wants to go on a rant about how the Dark Knight is supposedly a conservative's wet dream -- a protector of the "plutocracy." But, of course, anyone who is even remotely familiar with the Caped Crusader knows that it's hardly only "members of the underclass" that he goes after in his quest for justice. Granting that Colvile's never read a Batman comicbook, didn't he see Batman Begins and The Dark Knight? Organized crime and white collar criminals are hardly "underclass." More like [criminal] underworld, if anything. But hey, don't let reality get in the way of a good "progressive" diatribe.
But Colvile doesn't stop there. He then displays even greater ignorance by invoking the name Iron Man -- a certain Tony Stark -- next:
... the most popular superhero characters today – Batman and Iron Man – are both handsome tycoons”. Indeed. Iron Man is the ultimate carefree capitalist, who shuts down his weapons business not in the spirit of peace and love, but because he wants to fly around in a metal suit that fires, in the deathless words of Doctor Evil, frickin’ laser beams.
This is a total fabrication, even purely based on the movie(s) alone. Did Colvile miss the part in Iron Man where Stark witnessed the devastation his weapons wrought? So that, when he was finally rescued and brought back to the States, he announced he would be shutting down all weapons development in order to pursue more peaceful endeavors?? Becoming Iron Man was convenient side effect, if anything, of his kidnapping ordeal. In the Iron Man comics, being Iron Man wasn't even convenient at first; Tony Stark was constantly plagued by the need to monitor the power level of his chestplate device -- so that his heart would keep beating. Numerous early stories had him barely making it to a wall socket to recharge the thing!
In addition, Colvile never ponders why pampered rich guys like Bruce Wayne and Tony Stark even bother to become superheroes in the freakin' first place. Gee, could it be ... to give something back to society? How many times have they saved average joes (let alone the whole damned planet) -- either by themselves or as members of their respective super-teams, the Justice League and the Avengers?
Indeed. Why bother to even consider such when it completely and thoroughly shreds your ridiculous premise? Cripes, it'd make a helluva lot more sense from a "progressive" perspective to make the case that our real modern-day capitalists ought to be a lot more like Wayne and Stark. But oh, that's right -- can't have that. Capitalism itself is an enemy of "progressives." How silly of me.
In the first hour of Rush Limbaugh's show today, he actually wondered if the release of the upcoming Dark Knight Rises wasn't so coincidental -- because the villain in the film is named ... Bane.
Ye gads. First of all, Bane was created back in 1993. Second, Dark Knight Rises has been in the works for a few years now. And lastly, not the least of which, many have opined that Bane and his actions are actually an allegory to the Occupy movement (just Google "Dark Knight Rises Occupy movement"), which could be seen is a detriment to Boss Obama, not Mitt Romney.
UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter picked up on Rush's silly idea yesterday as well.
... as well as confirmation of the villain:
The money shot involves the reveal of the film's villain -- confirmed officially to be Ben Kingsley as The Mandarin. Though some prior moments hinted at his existence (a few glimpses of a samurai sword are interspersed throughout the footage), the end sequence makes it clear who the main antagonist of this movie is. Kingsley's introduction involves a shot from behind as he removes the hood of his cape, revealing a mostly-bald head with a samurai-style circular patch of dark hair in the middle, a long train of hair protruding from it. Slowly revealed from the front, the camera trains along his hand (rings on every finger), pulling out to show The Mandarin, face-on, seated and sporting a full, long, bushy, dark beard. Reading into his stature alone, Kingsley looks to embody the villain with appropriate menace and confidence.
Looks like all the guessing back in April was on the money. And while the "Extremis" storyline still looks to be in play for the sequel, the armor is definitely different from that arc:
The "Extremis" armor is actually the basis for the Iron Man armor we see in the first two films. But one would certainly expect to see something different for "Extremis," which includes a "bio-tech" aspect for Tony Stark to "armor up." And "Extremis" did feature a gold "under armor" that Stark utilized.
Iron Man 3 arrives in theatres May 3, 2013.
Of course, it's damn terrific when the system makes him a sh**load of money. Otherwise, it's nasty:
Joss Whedon launched into a fervent political rant at Comic-Con on Friday in which he savaged modern capitalism and said America was turning into Tsarist Russia.
Whedon began the panel, “Dark Horse Comics,” by noting he had nothing prepared because he had been speaking all day, so he opened it up to questions from the start.
Toward the end of the session, one woman noted the anti-corporate themes in many of his movies and asked him to give his economic philosophy in 30 seconds or less.
“We are watching capitalism destroy itself right now,” he told the audience.
He added that America is “turning into Tsarist Russia” and that “we’re creating a country of serfs.”
Y'know, listening to ultra-hypocrite limousine liberals like Whedon (who was raised in the Upper Westside neighborhood of Manhattan and taught that socialism was a "beautiful concept") spout their cliche-ridden screeds has become so tiresome that it fails to raise hackles anymore. The inherent comedy in it all is delicious. Breitbart's John Nolte's response to Whedon is best:
Good heavens, there are probably a hundred thousand people living in poverty around Los Angeles -- living on the streets, waiting tables, parking cars -- waiting and working and hoping for a taste of the success Joss Whedon's enjoyed. You know, the people Whedon is obviously referring to when he speaks of serfs.
I say, tear down those studio walls! Open those studio gates! Enough of Hollywood meritocracy! Spread the wealth!
It's time to produce screenplays written by nobodies and cast actors who aren't very good.
It's time to pay gaffers and production assistants and wardrobe and make-up personnel the same amount of money as, well, Joss Whedon makes!
Lead by example, Joss.
Show us the way.
Show us how it can work.
A hearty amen.
I finally got a chance to see this only-a-decade-later reboot starring Andrew Garfield (The Social Network) as the geeky Peter Parker-turned-superhero.
SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD!
I had only read one negative review of this flick going in, (by former MTV pundit Kurt Loder, now at Reason.com) so I was fairly optimistic. And ... the movie is good. No doubt about it. The big "but" is, however, is it good and different enough to warrant a huge reboot of the franchise after a mere decade?
The answer to that is "no."
I'll keep it simple here, breaking it down into the usual "Goods" and "Bads":
Guess who the "secret" bad guy was? Yep, Norman Osborn, whose henchman pressured Connors into using his formula on himself, turning him into the Lizard. Apparently Osborn needed a working formula for himself (for some undisclosed ailment), and in the after-credits scene we see some hidden dude (presumably Osborn) talking to Prof. Connors in jail asking if "Peter knows what really happened to his parents." MWAHAHAHAHAH!
YAWN. I never liked the fact that Marvel brought Osborn "back to life" after one of the best -- and tragic -- Spidey storylines of all. This scene could lead one to believe that a sequel could be this past story -- the Green Goblin causing Gwen Stacv's death -- but that would be silly for a couple reasons. One, the Goblin (Norman and Harry) was already used to death in the original Raimi trilogy. And two, any such parallel to issues #121-122 was already seen in 2002's Spider-Man, with Kirsten Dunst's Mary Jane Watson in place of Gwen (but obviously not dying). Of course, we could an entirely new Osborn/Goblin plot which leads to Gwen's death, but it'd still use Norman Osborn.
Be sure to also check out Carl's review.
Courtesy of -- who else? -- Newsarama. The new Amazing Spider-Man incredibly makes their list at #5. I haven't yet seen it so as to make an informed judgment.
Yours truly did up his own list over a year ago, but it was limited to Marvel-based films only. And while I've certainly seen a ton of comics films outside of Marvel properties, there's probably enough I haven't seen to disqualify me from making informed judgments. Case in point: Newsarama's #10 is Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. Uh, who? See what I mean? However, that's actually the only one on their list I never heard of. But there are myriad other films based on comicbooks I had no inclination to see and/or never even knew they were based on comics.
But y'know what? The hell with it. Let's do it. It's a tough call, but based on what I have seen, here are (because NO ONE demanded it) Hube's Best Comicbook-Based Movies:
#10. Batman Begins. The beginning of the spectacular Chris Nolan Dark Knight series. (Newsarama's #10: Scott Pilgrim vs. the World.)
#9. The Dark Knight. Heath Ledger is beyond sensational as the Joker. (Newsarama's #9: Batman from 1989.)
#8. Superman II. I find it very hard to fathom how this superior sequel didn't make Newsarama's list, but Superman: The Movie did. Terence Stamp's General Zod: 'Nuff said. (Newsarama's #8: X-Men 2.)
#7. Spider-Man. The movie ALL comics fan waited for, and it was well worth it. (Newsarama's #7: 300.)
#6. Blade. Marvel takes a chance on an R-rated film and it pays off not only in cash but in quality. Wesley Snipes is beyond bad-ass as the vampire hunter. (Newsarama's #6: Superman: The Movie.)
#5. 300. Based on Frank Miller's terrific work, Gerard Butler and his CG-enhanced physique Spartan minions defy the odds and Xerxes. (Newsarama's #5: The Amazing Spider-Man.)
#4. Spider-Man 2. Another superior sequel, Tobey Maguire's Spidey takes on Alfred Molina's Doc Ock. (Newsarama's #4: The Dark Knight.)
#3. The Avengers. See here. (Newsarama's #3: Iron Man.)
#2. Iron Man. Jon Favreau's masterpiece featuring my fave hero more than earns the runner-up spot. (Newsarama's #2: Batman Begins.)
#1. X-Men 2. The most awesome sequel and comicbook film ever, it features Xavier's good guys teaming up with Magneto's bad guys to stop an evil mutant-hating homo sapien. (Newsarama's #4: The Avengers.)
After watching several Bond flicks this weekend (Casino Royale, Tomorrow Never Dies, For Your Eyes Only) my creative "list" juices got flowing. I absolutely love James Bond films; I rarely will change the channel when one is on. And so -- because nobody demanded it -- here's Hube's list of Bond Best (and Worsts)!
HUBE'S FIVE HOTTEST BOND BABES.
Of course, the list could be much longer, but we got a lot to cover here, natch. Hube's judgment doesn't include just physical hotness, mind you, but an overall combination of beauty, sexiness, strength, and brains.
#5. Michelle Yeoh as Wai Lin (Tomorrow Never Dies, 1997). Admit it -- you craved seeing Yeoh in something skimpier than that silver sequined dress at Elliot Carver's big celebration. But what makes Yeoh so damn attractive is that she can kick Bond's ass, let alone just about any other dude she comes across!
#4. Honor Blackman as Pussy Galore (Goldfinger, 1964). I wasn't aware that she preceded another Bond girl, Diana Rigg, as the female lead in Britain's "The Avengers" TV series. Blackman is tough, smart, and sexy as all hell (her husky voice can melt a dude in mere seconds). Oh, and she's a pilot, too.
#3. Claudine Auger as Domino Derval (Thunderball, 1965). It was quite a step down when the unauthorized 1983 remake of this flick -- Never Say Never Again featuring the "comeback" of Sean Connery -- assigned Kim Basinger as the female lead. Auger's beauty is virtually unsurpassed -- my God just look at those eyes! -- and she made an otherwise so-so flick oh-so watchable.
#2. Carole Bouquet as Melina Havelock (For Your Eyes Only, 1981). Absolutely the greatest natural beauty of any Bond girl, she was also tough as nails: She came from money, but that didn't stop her from going after some of the baddest asses in the underworld for the murder of her parents. She also saved 007's ass, too, by the way.
#1. Carey Lowell as Pam Bouvier (Licence to Kill, 1989). I know I'm gonna get grief for this pick, but only Lowell rivals Bouquet for the top spot in natural beauty. But Lowell possesses that rough-edged American charm ... not to mention she's a CIA operative. After she cuts her hair in Licence and puts on that shiny silver gown ... whoa. Not to mention, check out the outfit she has on when Wayne Newton's character tries to make the moves on her!
DEADLIEST BOND VILLAIN PLOT.
Without a doubt it's Hugo Drax's brainchild of eradicating all humans on Earth and replacing them with his hand-picked genetically perfect specimens. (Moonraker, 1979.) Drax, before being offed by 007, managed to launch a trio of poison-carrying modules, each capable of killing 100 million people. But Bond's marksmanship saves the day, natch.
MOST RIDICULOUS BOND VILLAIN PLOT.
Without a doubt it's Hugo Drax's brainchild of eradicating all humans on Earth and replacing them with his hand-picked genetically perfect specimens. (Moonraker, 1979.) I mean, really -- how would Drax manage to employ hundreds -- thousands -- of workers, most of whom would have to be aware, even marginally, of his nefarious plot? C'mon -- building a massive, radar-proof space station? Building a space shuttle launch base ... in the Amazon River Basin?? And hey, if Jaws could figure out that he'd have no place in Drax's new world order, why the hell didn't all the other genetically imperfect employees inhabiting the space station?
BEST CHASE SCENE.
Without a doubt, it's Casino Royale's (2006) romp through the Madagascar construction site. And it's "merely" a foot chase. In case you're wondering, the dude Bond pursues is named Mollaka, and his skill is called "parkour running." What Bond lacks of this skill he more than makes up for in brains -- he analyzes every situation instantly during the chase and uses it to his advantage. (Need to descend quickly? No worries -- just hop on the hydraulic scaffold and hack off the hydraulic tubing!) Not to mention Mollaka can't come close to 007's fighting prowess, natch.
Definitely Casino Royale. Chris Cornell's powerful vocals in the song "You Know My Name" alongside way-cool playing card-style graphics of 007 fighting bad guys can't be beat. And you know the babes were swooning at the conclusion -- the slow approach of the new Bond, Daniel Craig, vacillating between all-black and vivid color.
BEST BOND "GADGET."
One of the first is still the coolest: The Aston Martin DB5 from Goldfinger. What wasn't to love about such a car in the mid-1960s? Machine gun fog lights? Check. Oil slick? Check. Passenger ejector seat? Oh yes.
BEST OPENING SEQUENCE.
Casino Royale's for several reasons. One, it's the only James Bond opening sequence done in black and white. The cinematography is perfect. Two, it details the very beginnings of James Bond as a double-oh. Third, the action is brutal and incredibly realistic. And lastly, the sequence's conclusion leads into the best song/intro in Bond history (see above).
HUBE'S TOP FIVE BOND VILLAINS.
#5. Hugo Drax (Moonraker, 1979). Masterfully portrayed by French actor Michael Lonsdale in an otherwise cheeky film, Drax had the most ambitious bad guy scheme ever: the death of every person on the planet (see above). Drax coolly dispatched of anyone who f***ed him over (like calmly snapping his fingers to release a pair of dobermans to tear apart a former female aide who had assisted Bond) and never lost his cool until the film's climax, when he merely raised his voice to reprimand fellow bad guy Jaws in his orbiting space station.
#4. Jaws (The Spy Who Loved Me, 1977; Moonraker, 1979). The giant with the cobalt choppers was essentially turned into comic relief in his second outing, but you know he freaked you out back in those halcyon days of the late 70s!
#3. Auric Goldfinger (Goldfinger, 1964.) "No, Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE!" 'Nuff said. He employed babes (Pussy Galore, see above) and bad-ass enforcers (the razor-edged hat throwing Oddjob, who just missed this list), and devised far-out nefarious schemes (robbing Fort Knox). Oh, and he "neatly compacted" two agents inside their car. And almost lasered off Bond's private parts.
#2. Franz Sanchez (Licence to Kill, 1989). Sanchez didn't mastermind any diabolical conquering schemes; he was "just" a drug kingpin whom Bond's CIA cohort, Felix Leiter, happened to royally piss off. So, Sanchez kills Felix's new bride, and feeds Felix to a shark. Bond resigns from the service to get vengeance, and through a wacky twist of fate, lands in the drug lord's confidence. Masterfully portrayed by Robert Davi, he perfectly embodies Scarface-ish sociopathy and fierce loyalty.
#1. Le Chiffre (Casino Royale, 2006). Mads Mikkelson is creepily sensational as the terrorist who makes millions in the stock market by having underlings commit assorted acts of terror. He's also a mathematical genius, smoking opponents in high stakes card games. But if you start to get the better of him, he'll have your drink poisoned ... or even better, he'll tie you to a chair with the bottom cut out, and then smash your balls to jello.
HUBE'S TOP FIVE "OH, COME ON!" BOND MOMENTS.
#5. Jaws surviving everything. He lives through a cable car smashing through a massive concrete building. He survives falling into a circus without a parachute from thousands of feet in the air. And, most head-shakingly, he and his new girlfriend survive their descent from orbit in a busted piece of Drax's obliterated space station (all in Moonraker, 1979).
#4. Bond survives Gustav Graves' heat beam by wind-surfing on a tidal wave (Die Another Day, 2002). Aside from the fact that the heat beam still should've crisped Bond despite him hanging aloft on the side of the cliff, his escape via surfing atop the collapsing cliff's-caused tidal wave defies more belief than when 007 surfed into North Korea in the film's opening.
#3. Hugo Drax constructs space shuttle launch facilities in the Amazon jungle (Moonraker, 1979). I already mentioned this major head-scratcher, but it bears repeating: How in the hell does a major corporate figure manage to build such a base in the middle of the densest jungle on the planet ... with no one noticing? After such a massive intel failure, the CIA and MI6 should've been completely dismantled ... and then rebuilt from scratch!
#2. Casting Lynn-Holly Johnson in For Your Eyes Only. It's bad enough her movie name was "Bibi Dahl," but what were the writers thinking -- M would have to spring Bond from jail for statutory rape?? Johnson's "acting," such that it is, may be the worst ever witnessed in a Bond film, and her mere inclusion in the FYEO was ridiculously gratuitous.
#1. The "Bondola" in Moonraker. Cracked.com nails this one perfectly:
Sure, the Bondola looks like a Venetian gondola, but there’s one crucial difference: the Bondola is embarrassingly stupid. Okay, two crucial differences: with the flip of a switch, Bond (Roger Moore) converts the craft from mundane gondola into high-speed turbo Bondola to escape an assassination attempt. An enemy motor boat pursues the Bondola through the canals of Venice. At one point—this is hilarious—the bad guy boat slices a regular non-turbo gondola neatly in two. The two lovers on one half of the bisected gondola are so busy kissing they don’t even notice, while the gondolier in the other half keeps rowing.
The Bondola has yet another trick up its figurative sleeve. Bond presses a button labeled “LAME” and the turbo gondola turns into a hovercraft gondola. He drives that bad boy up on to dry land and across St. Mark’s Square, blowing everyone’s mind. A waiter spills wine on a patron, another fella decides to quit drinking on the spot, and a pigeon does a double-take. Yes, a pigeon does a double-take. The Bondola freaks that pigeon’s shit out! That is comedy Moonraker-style.
Maybe Bond skipped the class on keeping a low profile in Secret Agent School.
That's it for now, folks, but stay tuned for more still more Bond-related lists!
Since my own mega-review, I've been busy perusing the 'net checking out various reviews of the film and their own speculations regarding connections to the Alien-verse as a whole. Via the ever-awesome Screen Rant, I visited this site which confirms something I was uncertain about when watching the film.
Once again, SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD!
And that is ...
... when the Prometheus away crew first entered the huge chamber that contained the black liquid-containing vases, there was an engraving on a mural which depicts an Alien -- the xenomorph -- seemingly as we knew it from the original film(s):
But does it really? Take a look at it again. Does it look like the Alien we all know and loathe? Or does it look like the so-called "proto-xenomorph" which bursts from the Engineer at the very end of Prometheus? It's hard to tell.
Next, I neglected in my review to address the Engineer ship seen in the original Alien. How did it get there? Why did it contain different xenomorphs (and their eggs)? We may never know these answers, but speculation allows that the Prometheus creatures continued to evolve/mutate, or that the xenomorphs from the original film were already known to the Engineers. Some speculate that the Engineer base at LV-223 was an Engineer attempt to re-create the xenomorphs -- that they're a naturally occurring species (perhaps died off) that our creators wanted to use for some [mostly] unknown purpose.
At any rate, what is fairly easy to now understand is why the Company (the Weyland Corp., or Weyland-Yutani if we include the Alien vs. Predator films) replaced the Nostromo's science officer with the android Ashe just prior to its departure from Earth in Alien: It had detected the Engineer ship's "distress" beacon on LV-426, probably recognizing its signature as similar to that of those seen/heard 30 years prior on LV-223, the events of Prometheus. Knowing what it learned on LV-223, it wanted an investigation -- and retrieval -- at all costs. Or, as Ashe said, "All other priorities rescinded."
I'm almost as big an Alien-verse fan as I am an Iron Man fan, so the apparent Alien prequel was definitely on my list of must-see flicks this summer. Was it worth it? How were the connections to Alien? These -- and many more -- questions are answered below the fold!
WARNING: MAJOR SPOILERS AHEAD!
I'm usually left confused by several aspects of any film (and usually have a friend or two there to clue me in), but there was really only one with Prometheus: The beginning. I admit I knew going in a lot of what to expect, thanks to my favorite movie site, Screen Rant. At any rate, we see an "Engineer" -- the supposed creators of humanity (who look quite like human beings, by the way) -- standing by a waterfall (with a huge starship in the background). He has a cup of some writhing liquid in his hand, which he then promptly drinks. The liquid has the effect of essentially (slowly) disintegrating him, and he then falls into the waterfall and eventually dissolves into the river below. Was this Earth thousands of years ago? Or was this the planet LV-223 which is where the Prometheus vessel travels to in this film? I could not tell.
After the prologue, the film begins in Scotland in the year 2089 where archaeologists Elizabeth Shaw and Charlie Holloway discover a star map -- a map that was also discovered among other famous cultures' ancient drawings and hieroglyphs. The duo (who are lovers, by the way) believe these maps to be a message ... to come find the "Engineers."
Fast forward four years. The Weyland Corporation has funded a trip to LV-223, the planet (a moon, actually) to which the star maps pointed. The Prometheus (name of the ship, just in case) lands near several clearly constructed edifices, and most of the crew journey inside. Once there, they discover that the Engineers were indeed remarkably human-like in appearance, and a sort-of holographic video seems to show that something went awry in the installation, causing the Engineers to flee and resulting in the deaths of some of them.
It's here that we first glimpse the eerie similarities to Alien. In the chamber where the huge Engineer bust is, there are hundreds of "vases" each containing a mysterious black liquid. ("The X-Files" fans will be thrilled at this, by the way.) The vases clearly are reminiscent of the Alien "eggs" the way they're arranged on the chamber floor. In the vases' black liquid there appear to be small worm-like things swimming around; the liquid and squirmy things appear to be what the Engineer drank in the film's prologue. The android David (played phenomenally by Michael "Magneto" Fassbender) ignores orders to "not touch anything," and not only touches the liquid, but secures an entire vase for retrieval (unbeknownst to the away team crew).
It's also here that we see the eerie similarities between David and Alien's android Ashe (played by Ian Holm). It's pretty clear by this point that David is operating at the behest of the Company (meaning Weyland), and that retrieval of anything deemed of value by Weyland is top priority. Back aboard Prometheus, David clandestinely adds a minute amount of the black liquid to Holloway's drink, thus beginning a slow transformation of the latter into ... something. Viewers, too, will cringe as Holloway and Shaw have sex shortly after David has infected Holloway.
Elsewhere, two crew members who wanted to leave the initial away trip early (because they're pussies) haven't reported back to Prometheus -- they're lost inside the edifice. This provides the convenient set-up for the already-known-by-now dastardly nature of the whole temple or whatever the building is. This duo eventually enters the same chamber that the main away crew went into, but somehow -- despite being scared shitless before -- these dudes become brave enough to touch the black liquid ... and even approach a mysterious snake-like creature which has popped up from a small stream of the black stuff surrounding the vases. And voilá -- the snake thing wraps itself around one of the dude's arms, eventually making its way inside his suit -- and stuffs itself down his throat! The other guy, in the struggle, was knocked down and his spacesuit's faceplate landed in the the "stream" of black liquid. Somehow this stuff is quite acidic (obviously another connection to Alien -- acid blood), melting the suit's faceplate and infecting the guy within with ... whatever the hell it is.
Aboard Prometheus, the predicament of these two has become known, and the away crew sets back out to (hopefully) rescue them. Holloway, however, is becoming more and more ill. After discovering that the dude who had the snake-thing go down his throat is dead, and that the melted faceplate dude also appears so, the away crew head back to the ship. But Holloway's "illness" has become acute, and leader of the expedition Vickers (played by Charlize Theron), acting in a very un-Ashe-like way, refuses to allow Holloway back on board -- and eventually blasts him with a flame thrower when he tries to force his way in!
Things begin to flow at break-neck speed now. Shaw, upon Holloway's death, realizes she'd better get a medical exam pronto (remember, the two had conjugal relations the night before!). David stoically informs Shaw that she is pregnant, and that the ... "child" is about three months along. He refuses to perform an abortion citing "danger," but by now we know his interest is Weyland's interest -- the same as it was in Alien: Bring back lifeform; all other orders rescinded. Shaw then quickly heads to an auto surgery recepticle where she promptly performs surgery on herself, extricating the creature from her body. The little monster looks like a small octopus, rather than the xenomorph we all know and loathe. Shaw manages to contain the creature within the recepticle's confines for the nonce.
Being the Alien-verse geek that I am, the auto-surgery machine and the small, wormlike creatures in the black liquid (see left) made me wonder if producer/director Ridley Scott had read Dark Horse Comics' Aliens: Labyrinth series, one of the f***ing scariest and gruesomest stories I've ever read in comics. If you don't believe me, then check out what Jeff says about the story at Sky-Ffy:
#3 was the first issue I had and probably my favourite, inside we get treated to a young Dr Church's ordeal inside a slightly different Alien Hive, described in vivid, visceral detail; quite possibly the most brilliant and disgusting Aliens story I've ever read.
If Scott is familiar with that series, he certainly picked the right one. As I (and Jeff) noted, you'd prepare yourself before reading, especially issue #3 -- possibly the freakiest of any comics series I've ever read. No joke.
Now that Shaw is Alien-free, she meanders around the ship and eventually comes upon a recently-awakened Peter Weyland (played by Guy Pearce). Weyland, near death, is surrounded by assistants, including the android David and Vickers. He's been on the Prometheus the entire time. Shaw asks "Why??" "To meet our creators," Weyland tells her. Indeed, David had discovered that inside the Engineer edifice is a starship -- exactly like the one discovered in Alien. He found the "pilot room" (as seen by Dallas, Kane and Lambert in the original film) and managed to activate its star mapping programs. During such, he saw Earth among the many planets and stars on the map. And ... he discovered that there was a surviving Engineer in the room -- in hypersleep.
Weyland, David, Shaw and a few crew journey back to the "pilot room" to awaken the Engineer. David, after all, has learned the alien's (not Alien's) language, so they can communicate with it (him?) Unfortunately for all concerned, once awakened, the Engineer promptly proceeds to rip David's head off, and bash the shit out of everyone else, killing them -- except Shaw who's managed to bolt down the "hall." Shaw frantically radios Capt. Janek back at Prometheus, informing him that he needs to destroy the powering-up Engineer starship, for it is heading to Earth to release the black liquid. (This is what David had revealed to Shaw a little while prior.) Janek complies, and rams Prometheus into the horeshoe-shaped vessel, causing both to tumble back to the surface. But the Engineer survives the crash, finds the lifeboat which just happens to house the auto-surgery recepticle, and proceeds to give chase to Shaw. Shaw leads it/him back to the surgery room where her "aborted" creature is. As the Engineer enters the surgery area, Shaw unlocks the door, and a now-massive octopus-like monster attacks the Engineer, who actually manages to put up a decent fight! But, eventually the Engineer succumbs, and the creature acts like a behemoth face-hugger, jamming a proboscis down the Engineer's throat.
Shaw is contacted by the decapitated David, who is then recovered by the archeologist. David informs her that there are other Engineer ships on the moon, meaning they can use one to get back to Earth. Shaw tells David "no" -- they'll use one to journey to the Engineer home planet ... to get answers to all her (their) questions. In the last few scenes we see in the distance an Engineer ship rising up and jaunting off into space, presumably Shaw and David en route to the Engineer homeworld. But the very last scene we witness is that of the Engineer attacked by Shaw's "offspring": its/his body convulses and jerks and then a creature burst forth from its/his torso. It clearly is a proto-xenomorph, the precursor to the Alien we all know and are scared shitless of!
Now, back to Shaw's and David's (and ours, natch!) questions:
* Why do/did the Engineers want to destroy us? We're their creations after all! The proof of this is shown after an examination of the remnants of the first Engineer discovered in the edifice: Its DNA and that of humans are an exact match. So, what's the deal? A clue is offered in the scene where the android David is talking with Holloway. Holloway has a rather condescending manner toward David, mocking his lack of emotions, among other things. But David has the last "laugh," so to speak: When David asks Holloway why humans created androids, Holloway replies "Because we could." To which David responds, "Perhaps that's why the Engineers created you." And, of course, human lore is replete with stories of human creations turning against its creators (contemporary ones include The Matrix, The Terminator, Colossus: The Forbin Project, I, Robot), so why wouldn't the Engineers fear the same? Of course, the Engineers originally planned to wipe out humanity millenia prior, so one may wonder what sort of threat humans of that time period actually posed. Perhaps the Engineers feared the rapid technological progress humans were making and decided to nip it in the bud, so to speak. After all, going from horse and buggy to faster-than-light travel in 200 years might be frighteningly fast.
* Why would the Engineers use stuff like the xenomorphs (Aliens) to eradicate us? Was it to "cleanse" our planet of the human scourge? If so, then wouldn't the Engineers have to then cleanse the Aliens afterwards? This doesn't make a lot of sense -- unless we take a clue from the prologue and from the holographic imagery seen when the Prometheus crew first enter the Engineer edifice. In the prologue, the Engineer who consumes the black liquid disintegrates, with his remains in the water supply leading us to believe this would infect the entire biosphere. Was this evidence of how the Engineers had always dealt with mistakes of their [genetic] experiments? As for the holographic film of the apparent disaster that befell the Engineers in the edifice, this leads us to conclude that their [genetic] experiments went awry -- that a contagion (the black liquid?) mutated and escaped, causing mass [Engineer] death. I say "mutated" because throughout the film this is precisely what we witness: Black liquid becomes "wormy" black liquid, becomes snake-like creature, becomes embryonic octopus-like creature, becomes massive face-hugger-like creature becomes, proto-xenomorph. The fact that the Engineers created us demonstrates that this is indeed what the Engineers were -- masters of genetics. But they're clearly not infallible despite their prodigious technological superiority.
* Why did the Earthly star maps point to LV-223? This is a great question. Why point to what is essentially a world where death is created, a planetwide [bio] weapons laboratory? Perhaps the moon wasn't always what it was in the film, or, maybe the star map served its purpose: If a race reached a level of intelligence necessary to comprehend and decipher the star maps, they'd then journey to this death-world and hence doom their race -- doing the Engineer's work for them (wiping out a threatening species).
My buddy Vic Holtreman wrote up a "Five Simple Changes That Would Make ‘Prometheus’ Better (For Fans Of ‘Alien’)" article over at his awesome site Screen Rant. Note that Vic isn't advocating such changes, just that these would placate hardcore Alien fans who wanted a more "direct" sequel. However, I personally side with script writer Damon Lindelof who said
If the ending to [Prometheus] is just going to be the room that John Hurt walks into that's full of [alien] eggs [in Alien], there's nothing interesting in that, because we know where it's going to end. Good stories, you don't know where they're going to end. A true prequel should essentially proceed [sic] the events of the original film, but be about something entirely different, feature different characters, have an entirely different theme, although it takes place in that same world.
Obviously, since Shaw and David warped off to (we presume) the Engineer homeworld, a sequel is anticipated. There is one big thing we can conclude about this sequel already: The Engineers ultimately decide not to destroy humanity. How do we know? Easy -- we have Alien and its sequels, the last of which takes place over 200 years after the events in Prometheus. Either Shaw and David succeed in convincing the Engineers we're worth of survival, or perhaps the Engineers just don't care anymore. We have, after all, "unlocked" the scourge of the Alien, and perhaps our creators know that eventually it will be the death of us ... just as they always intended.
Spinoff Online has more details, including Ben Kingsley as ... Mandarin? A pic of ... the Iron Patriot?? This is starting to sound a lot like Spider-Man 3 -- in other words, there's too freakin' much going on.
Comics Alliance, in its report that original Iron Man director Jon Favreau will be making a cameo appearance in the second sequel as Happy Hogan (he will not be in the director's chair this time out), notes that perpetually tanned actor George Hamilton's son Ashley will be in the villain's role as Firepower.
Firepower is yet another David Michelinie/Bob Layton-era Iron Man villain whom I roasted here almost five years ago. Speculation will remain as to just how big a role Hamilton's Firepower will have considering that the "Extremis" storyline is supposed to be front and center, not to mention better known actors Ben Kingsley and William Sadler also have starring roles.
Yep -- the whole planet. Can't wait to hear the explanation for that. Not to mention how fifteen years later no technology is still able to function.
And, of course, the trailer shows how one man seems to know what happened ... and he gets killed. But, there's this mysterious medallion that apparently can make technology work which the dead guy "downloaded" before the EMP hit. Can you say "government conspiracy?" But of course. How "original."
Color me bored.
Via Screen Rant: Check out director Ridley Scott and the stars of the upcoming film discuss the premise of what could rival The Avengers for box office supremacy this summer:
If you're an Alien fan and want to read a spectacular [what now is an] alternate history story in the Alien-verse, seek out Mark Verheiden's Aliens: Book One from Dark Horse Publishing. It details what happens after the 1986 sequel Aliens, and features what was supposed to have been the plot to Alien 3 -- Earth being overrun by the Aliens. Verheiden continues the story in Book Two and concludes it in Earth War. I wrote up a summary of these excellent stories at my now-defunct Comics of Rhodey over three years ago.
Newsarama (as usual) has the list:
10) Operation: Galactic Storm. The team finds itself in the midst of a war between the alien Kree and the Shi'ar. Consider me bought.
9) Lost in Space-Time. This is a West Coast Avengers yarn that I am [unbelievably] unfamiliar with! Newsarama says it might be the best time-travel story in Earth' Mightiest's history, so I think I'm gonna have to track these issues down ...
8) The Serpent Crown Saga. One of my favorite Avengers arcs ever, if only because it came out when I was really getting into comics back in the day, and because it had the team battling it out with the Squadron Supreme. IMO, this story would only be worth doing if the alternate Earth's super-team were in it. But I think that'd wishful thinking ...
7) The Infinity Gauntlet. Well, um, this is the odds-on favorite for the sequel considering the first post-credits special scene ...
6) House of M. No thanks. Ugh.
5) The Korvac Saga. I'm totally game for this. It could work perfectly -- Korvac gains incredible power in the future and travels back in time as a "god" with the goal of liberating humanity from "destiny." If done as well as Jim Shooter wrote it back in the late 70s, it would be one damn kickin' film.
4) Under Siege. The plus side of this would be a lower budget film because all the action takes place right at the Avengers' home base. Could have the Red Skull in place of Zemo tantalizing the captive Capt. America and trashing his 60+ years worth of lock box memories.
3) Civil War. This could indeed make for quite a slam-bang sequel; however, if the politics in the film is as it was in the comics, I won't be caught dead in the movie theatre.
2) Ultron Unlimited. This would rock non-Avengers fans perfectly as it's a Terminator-like horror yarn where the insane, indestructible robot decimates an entire country ... and threatens the whole planet.
1) The Kang Dynasty. (See left.) In a movie, this'd be like the Korvac tale noted in #5: the time-traveling future human comes back to the 21st century to take over and rule like a king. If the depth and scope is like Kurt Busiek's 2001-2002 story arc, we certainly won't be disappointed!
My buddy Vic Holtreman's site, Screen Rant, details the results of a recent Internet poll compiling the greatest films of all time. Here's those results:
1. Citizen Kane (73 points)
2. Star Wars: Episode V – The Empire Strikes Back (61)
3. The Godfather (57)
4. Raiders of the Lost Ark (53)
5. Casablanca (48)
6. 8½ (44)
7. Back to the Future (44)
8. 2001: A Space Odyssey (43)
9. Bicycle Thieves (41)
10. Vertigo (40)
Vic and SR editor Ben Kendrick offer up their own choices, too.
I don't know if I could actually put my faves/greatest in order, but I certainly can name ten:
Always subject to change, natch.
Newsarama has moved up its previous article of the Top Ten Avengers Villains to coincide with the blockbuster film. Here they are, along with my indespensible commentary:
10. TASKMASTER. He was created by Iron Man writer extraordinaire (and Delaware resident) David Michelinie.
9. KORVAC. One of the greatest "cosmic" story arcs of all-time, spectacularly scripted by Jim Shooter.
8. SCARLET WITCH. Ugh. She was recently made evil and trashed her own team. Give me a break. Terrible story, and terrible choice for #8.
7. NORMAN OSBORN. I didn't really follow the whole story which involved everything from "Civil War" to "Secret Invasion;" nevertheless, Osborn was killed way back in Amazing Spider-Man #122 anyway, so he's just another lame brought-back-to-life plot device for writers who've run out of actual ideas.
6. THANOS. Pay attention, Avengers neophytes! If you didn't know who that smiling dude was after the first set of credits in the Avengers film, well, now you know. Get ready for the sequel, natch.
5. KREE/SKRULLS. Always formidable enemies, the "Kree/Skrull War" from 1971 is widely considered to be one of Earth's Mightiest's greatest epics. ... possibly the greatest.
4. THE MASTERS OF EVIL. When they seized Avengers Mansion in the mid-80s, it quickly became one of the most memorable stories in the title's history.
3. LOKI. Worthy really only because he brought the team together in the first place -- way back in 1963 in the comics, and in 2012 in the kickin' feature film.
2. KANG. A tormentor of the team since issue #8, this time-traveler has been responsible for more Avengers distress than anyone. Save perhaps for ...
1. ULTRON. Originally created by Ant-Man/Giant-Man Hank Pym, this evil robot (above left) quickly rebelled and evolved itself into Ultron-5 and created the iconic soon-to-be-hero the Vision. Virtually impossible to kill (due to the "Ultron Imperative" implanted in whatever nearby computer tech), he perhaps most notably wiped out an entire European nation until a battle-weary Avengers finally managed to stop him.
The network has picked up the new sci-fi series, which
is described as an epic adventure thriller in which a family struggles to reunite in a post-apocalyptic American landscape: a world of empty cities, local militias and heroic freedom fighters, where every single piece of technology — computers, planes, cars, phones, even lights — has mysteriously blacked out … forever.
The article further notes that "all forms of energy mysteriously cease to exist." Which may cause you to ponder: There's no more wind? No more water? No more coal to dig up? No sun???
Yeesh. I can't wait to hear the "explanation" for this one.
Y'know, I've read back through some of my past movie reviews and thought, "Does anyone really care what I think about them?" I hope some do, but I came to the conclusion that I don't think my opinion warrants a long, drawn-out verbose opinion piece. So, let's keep this short and simple!
SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD!
The film is probably just what you'd expect: A lot of snarky one-liners, with attempts to give equal time to all of the main characters. Story takes a back seat to all-out action, but the story is good enough that you won't disappointed.
Robert Downey Jr. steals the show. By far the best actor of all the Marvel superhero characters, he doesn't disappoint. He's just like he was in Iron Man and Iron Man 2 -- showing off his brain power and snappy patter at every opportunity. And a new twist: Stark and Pepper (Gwyneth Paltrow) are an item now! Very cool.
Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) possibly stole the show. I read one review (can't find the link now) which stated Renner was sorely underutilized; I agree. His actions sequences, in my view, were hard to top. He truly epitomized what Hawkeye is ... and should be. Wow.
Joss Whedon knows his comics. The team was just what any Avengers-phile expects: A collection of egos which sometimes explode at the wrong times. How many issues of Earth's Mightiest have you read which show a few team members battling each other? Yep, quite a few. And the scuffle between Iron Man and Thor (and ultimately thwarted by Capt. America) exemplified that to a perfect tee. Whedon did a masterful job of giving each character his due, and the interactions between each was next to perfect. A little testosterone tension between Cap and Tony Stark? Yep. The Hulk and Thor? Done. Sexual tension between the Black Widow and Hawkeye? Sure.
The Chitauri were mere cannon fodder. This is a shame since in the comics (The Ultimates, actually) they actually had infiltrated Earth hundreds of years ago in their clandestine attempts to gain power here. They were shape-changers, essentially the Ultimate Universe Skrulls. In the film, the were reduced to Loki's lackeys, there merely for the Avengers to beat the crap out of. It worked, but for those who wanted a more in-depth story, it's disappointing.
There will be a sequel. You don't have to wait through all the closing credits to find this out; we see the defeated Chitauri all pissed off licking their wounds and verbally pontificating that Earth (and humans) are strong, not weak. When one of them mentions "death," we see a looming large character slowly turn his head and eerily smile -- Thanos. HOOO boy!
So reports Spinoff Online:
First, word is that Leonard Nimoy will appear as Spock Prime, even though he’s supposedly retired from live-action acting (when he appeared on a recent Big Bang Theory episode, it was in a voiceover).
Next is one that a lot of people might expect, but the site asserts that Benedict Cumberbatch is in fact playing none other than Khan, a role he won after a powerful audition tape filmed in a kitchen. Rumors have swirled about Khan’s involvement in the sequel since it was announced, and gained momentum when Benicio del Toro was in the running to play the film’s bad guy. However, Abrams remained dodgy about the villain’s identity. TrekMovie’s sources insist the film’s story will not be a rehash of Khan’s first appearance in the “Space Seed” episode, but rather something entirely new.
No word on whether alternate/reboot Kirk Chris Pine will have a scene like this.
I know The Avengers is slated to be THE money-maker of the summer, but in all honesty, this is the flick I'm dying to see:
While moving some stuff around in the basement the other day -- including some old "long boxes" of comics -- I came across one of my favorite classic comic editions: The Official Handbook of the Marvel Universe -- Book of Weapons, Hardware, and Paraphernalia. The section on Iron Man's armor is especially intriguing because it offers up a novel technological "explanation" of the awesome armor that was never conceived of before:
You read that right -- Iron Man's armor was (and I say "was" because this issue came out in 1984) composed of bacteria. "Metal affinity" bacteria. And Tony Stark genetically engineered this bacteria to, when they expire, "deposit" various layers which his armor needs:
If this sounds incredibly fantastic, it, well, is. I mean, take a look at what these bacteria leave behind when they die:
Yep, when the bacteria die, they deposit things like a "graviton generator and magnetic beam path," a "magnetic beam generator," and an "integral electronic motor speed control." Pretty fascinating, huh?
The book is the brainchild of Eliot R. Brown who also did up the fantastic Iron Manual back in 1993. I'd say "seek this out!" if you're an IM fan, but I see that Eliot has the entire issue online at that link!
Giant Freakin Robot has the pretty good synopsis.
I'm of mixed feelings about Enterprise. It always seemed to me that the writers didn't care about established Trek canon ... and worried about it all at the same time. For example, the show's very premise violates everything we'd learned about Trek and the Enterprise. I mean, the ship -- "NX-01"?? Since when? And who the hell was Capt. Archer? In the show's premiere, Earth/Federation history with regards to the Klingons is altered from what we know. On the other hand, when Archer is trapped in the past with the time-traveling Daniels, the writers seem to go out of their way to establish the canonical Earth-Romulan wars. The list is endless.
Nevertheless, BFR's Josh Tyler makes a good point in that the show's right-from-the-bat weakness is that it established time travel as the main plot device. Of the entire show. I'm a HUGE time travel aficionado, but even I saw that this was pretty weak -- and left too many "easy outs" for the writers if they needed 'em ... or, would allow them to just complicate the living sh** out of Trek canon even further. Honestly -- when news broke that the series was canceled, I seriously thought the whole Temporal Cold War stuff would act like the "Dream Season" of Dallas in which the whole series was erased from history.
And this all doesn't even address the insanity of dedicating an entire season (the third) to searching for a doomsday weapon. It gave "boring" a whole new concept.
As Tyler notes, the series seemed to have gotten its act together in season four, its last, but by then it was too late. It quickly (and very neatly) did away with the Temporal Cold War, and began to concentrate on story above all. Possibly the best episodes of the entire series were the "In a Mirror, Darkly" which used the long-established "mirror" universe (and, ironically, time travel) to tell an incredibly good story. But, alas, in the rush to tie everything up while running out of time, the finale hastily "established" the Federation ... with the lame plot device of the Enterprise-D's Will Riker using the holodeck to "live out" a history lesson.
But hey -- does any of this all matter, though? Star Trek has been rebooted, existing now in an alternate universe. Yeah, I know the Trek universe proper still exists (and many cool stories can be told!), but will we see any of it outside of novels, comics and fan fiction?
I tend to doubt it.
During an interview to promote The Avengers, as well as the documentary With Great Power: The Stan Lee Story, Moviefone asked the legendary writer and editor (Stan Lee) about concerns — more like complaints, actually — that his co-creator’s name appears nowhere on the $220 million movie. Lee seemed genuinely perplexed, replying, “I don’t know how to answer that because in what way would his name appear?” before offering that “it’s mentioned in every comic book; it says ‘By Stan Lee and Jack Kirby.’”
As Robot 6 notes, it's not entirely fair to ask Lee, but you can tell he's uncomfortable by the whole issue. I mean, c'mon -- "in what way would his name appear"?? How 'bout "co-creator," maybe? Y'know, like, because Kirby co-created the characters and the concept of the team?
Lee gets a certain percentage of the take on Marvel flicks mainly because he's been alive to negotiate such deals. No such luck Jack Kirby. But in my opinion, the very least Lee could do was demand Kirby's name appear in the freakin' credits as, mentioned above, "co-creator." That'd be the decent -- and right -- thing to do. Especially since Kirby was much more responsible for the storytelling of Marvel's titles in the 1960s than Lee ever was.
The hypothesis? Sex robots would become the leading ladies of sex-for-profit in the seemingly distant year of 2050.
The paper was called “Robots, Men and Sex Tourism,” a work that made its way into a journal called Futures, according to a report in The Dominion Post.
Part of their research involved the hypothetical creation of an Amsterdam sex club called “Yub-Yum,” where robot women create a land rife with “sexual gods and goddesses of different ethnicities, body shapes, ages, languages and sexual features.”
Far fetched? I doubt it. Remember Jude Law's character in A.I.? And in Isaac Asimov's classic The Robots of Dawn the author featured a "humaniform" named Jander who had a clandestine sexual relationship with one of the main characters, Lady Gladia Delmarre.
If Asimov, the master of robotics, hypothesizes that, you can bet it will probably happen.
Get this: A ridiculous scene in the upcoming Avengers film had Captain America lamenting the loss of “loss of health care and welfare” in his country. Thankfully, it was cut from the final product by director Joss Whedon:
One of the best scenes that I wrote was the beautiful and poignant scene between Steve and Peggy [Carter] that takes place in the present. And I was the one who was like, ‘Guys, we need to lose this.’ It was killing the rhythm of the thing. And we did have a lot of Cap, because he really was the in for me. I really do feel a sense of loss about what’s happening in our culture, loss of the idea of community, loss of health care and welfare and all sorts of things. I was spending a lot of time having him say it, and then I cut that.
Aside from the ridiculous historical inaccuracy of such a statement (healthcare and welfare coverage have both increased dramatically since the 1940s, for heaven's sake), it's simply something that Cap would never say -- unless he's in the hands of a typical leftist contemporary comics creator. Some commenters at the article link say that Whedon is more a libertarian (he created "Firefly"), but Avi Green at FCMM believes the liberal slant given Whedon's abortion arc in Buffy the Vampire Slayer comics.
Nevertheless, Cap, over his long history, has been quite reluctant to get into political debates. In my view, Cap's philosophy is best exemplfied by the following panel from Daredevil #233, the "Born Again" storyline written by Frank Miller:
CBR reports that the Oscar-winning actor is in "final negotiations" to play the villain in next year's Iron Man 3. But despite yearnings for a Mandarin appearance/battle, don't count on it:
The odds would seem to be against Mandarin, though. While "Iron Man" and "Iron Man 2" director Jon Favreau wanted to include the character in the third film -- "You have to do the Mandarin," he told MTV in 2010 -- his successor Shane Black ("Kiss Kiss Bang Bang") more recently dismissed the villain as a racist caricature. The criminal mastermind with ties to the Communist Party could also prove an obstacle to the all-important Chinese film market. Then there's the matter of the Mandarin's 10 Makluan rings, which even Favreau acknowledged "just doesn't feel right for our thing" (and, The Hollywood Reporter notes, edges a little close to Green Lantern's power ring).
Well, first of all, it was more than subtlely hinted in the first film that the head terrorist bad guy was the Mandarin -- or at least one of his acolytes. He kept twisting that ring on his finger and the name of his organization was the "Ten Rings." And given that Stark's captors were Afghanis/radical Muslims, why would Mandy have to retain his Chinese heritage for the film?
IM3 is set to loosely utilize the "Extremis" story arc which was done by Warren Ellis and artist extraordinaire Adi Granov (whose armor designs were used in the films). The story was pretty cool -- Stark literally becomes one with his Iron Man armor based on a nanotech "virus;" however, Ellis injected far too much leftist propaganda into the dialogue via reporter "John Pillinger" who's not-so loosely based on radical filmmaker John Pilger. Hopefully, this drivel will be excised from the film, otherwise it'll ruin the very successful franchise.
In an era of totally unnecessary movie sequels (The Amazing Spider-Man? Really? Total Recall?) we, the crack young staff of the Colossus of Rhodey (with apologies to the now-defunct Hatemongers Quarterly) have compiled a list of needed sequels -- sequels that make sense and would (or should) be eagerly popular. Of course, being that we, the crack young staff of the CoR are science fiction aficionados, be forewarned that the following list contains an inordinate quantity of said sci-fi hypotheticals!
INDEPENDENCE DAY 2. What's not to like? Aside from the insanely ridiculous method by which we defeated their alien vessels, the aliens themselves are hardly conquered. Sure, scads of them perished as their city-sized ships crashed all over the planet, but untold numbers of them would still be alive. And they have "bio-mechanical" battle suits. Oh, and they're telepathic. So, in what could be an awesome Battle Los Angeles-like extravaganza, ID2 could virtually exclusively focus on the battle that should follow after ID. Right after, y'know, our fighter jets stop shooting off fireworks and all.
STAR WARS EPISODE VII. Let's be honest: Did anyone really care about the prequels? Or, did you go see them because you wanted to check out just how insanely cool computerized FX had become, and how George Lucas took advantage of it? Exactly. Now, if Lucas had shown us how the remnants (and there is a helluva lot of them) of the Empire fought back against the supposedly victorious Rebel Alliance, well, now you're talking! There's still a ton of Star Destroyers and Super Star Destroyers out there with a prodigious quantity of firepower, and their occupants are gonna be royally pissed off -- most especially because a bunch of sub-60 IQ quasi-teddy bears somehow managed to help defeat the storm troopers responsible for guarding the second Death Star's force shield!
MAD MAX 4. After the ridiculously lame Beyond Thunderdome which vainly attempted to recreate the spectacular climax car chase from The Road Warrior, creator George Miller has to redeem this franchise/character. No matter that Mel Gibson is old now; it'd suit the film perfectly, some 25+ years after Thunderdome. Perhaps Miller can fill us in a bit more on just how the world came apart which led to the anarchy we see now, and maybe, just maybe, Max can be part of the planet (or, Australia, at least) getting its act back together.
THE THING 2. The 1982 John Carpenter version of this flick is a fave of ours; last year saw the release of a so-so prequel. But, like the Star Wars prequels, we already knew what to expect: bloody, gory mayhem via an alien organism. But at the end of the 1982 film, we see star Kurt Russell (MacReady) and Keith David (Childs) all alone, the sole survivors of the American Antarctic base's skirmish with the alien Thing. Once the fires from the base's destruction go out, the duo will freeze to death. And when the eventual rescue party arrives to see what the hell happened? HOOOO BOY! Of course, either Mac or Childs could be infected (most likely the latter as he disappeared for a time at the finale of the film) and the sequel could detail what happens when the organism is unleashed upon populated areas. How freakin' scary (and gory) would that be, eh?
CLOVERFIELD 2. One of the cooler sci-fi flicks of the last decade, the ending certainly leaves it wide open for a second parter. The obvious question is, WTF is the damn creature and where did it come from? Did our two protagonists survive the massive bombing that ended the first film? We know the government has files about the creatures and the incident as a whole. And we wanna know about 'em!
The recently released Hunger Games is a big hit in the theatre, taking after its popular book of the same name. I haven't read Games nor seen the film (yet); however, based on having read its plot I was immediately reminded of the only book I ever read straight through without so much as budging from the couch -- The Running Man.
The Running Man is by Stephen King under his pseudonym Richard Bachman. Do not confuse this awesome novel with the cheesy Arnold Schwarzenegger film from 1988 -- they're nothing alike, really. In a dystopian future, we find Ben Richards, an unemployed father of a sick daughter who decides to try his hand at one of the games featured on the "Games Network." He's good enough to be chosen for the ultimate game, "The Running Man," where contestants are literally hunted down across the entire planet if need be. Survivors are rewarded handsomely (although not many know no contestant has ever "won"). It reads like one big car chase scene, and remains one of my favorite all-time scifi novels. If you're big into Hunger Games, I highly recommend Running Man.
Via Screen Rant:
Chris Claremont – probably the most renowned X-Men writer ever, having written everything from “The Phoenix Saga” to “Days of Future Past” – recently reflected on the potential X-Men film from way back when – the one produced by James Cameron (Avatar), directed by Kathryn Bigelow (The Hurt Locker), and starring Bob Hoskins (Who Framed Roger Rabbit) as Wolverine and Angela Bassett (Waiting to Exhale) as Storm.
Hoskins? It sure is hard to imagine that after the svelte, buff Hugh Jackman assumed the role. But Claremont saw Hoskins in Lassiter (starring Tom Selleck) and thought he'd "be perfect" to play the Canuck X-Man. Here, you decide:
Bassett I can totally see as Storm. She's a better actress than Halle Berry, but certainly not as hot. Big-time blockbusters tend to go for the latter.
Via Big Hollywood:
“The storyline is being described by writer-director Shane Black as being a Tom Clancy-thriller, with Iron Man fighting real world villains. Black stated, “the studio wasn't happy with the result of Iron Man 2, as a result that pretty much came about due to a rushed production schedule in an attempt to hit a release date rather than simply make a good film, but I digress. Iron Man 3 will not be another, 'two men in iron suits fighting each other.’”
I'm not certain what "real world villains" could mean; it could mean introducing what many consider to be Shellhead's greatest enemy ever, The Mandarin, into the mix. Recall that the head terrorist who captured Stark in the first film headed a group called "The Ten Rings." This is a quite obvious reference to Mandarin, although certainly a name change would be necessary as the film terrorist is Afghan/Muslim, while the comics bad guy is Chinese. IM3 could have the Golden Avenger battling radical Islamic terrorists dispatched by Mandarin (or whatever his name would be) across the US (and world).
I just hope, as Big Hollywood's John Nolte does, that "Stark's unabashed love of country and capitalism continue."
Spinoff Online has the story:
Initially envisioned as a 10-episode webseries, Blood & Chrome made the jump in October 2010 to full-fledged television pilot, chronicling the adventures of a young, brash William Adama (played by Skins star Luke Pasqualino) during the10th year of the First Cylon War. In contrast to the other Battlestar Galactica prequel, Caprica, Blood & Chrome relied heavily on special effects — in addition to the battle scenes, many of the sets were virtual — leading delivery to the two-hour pilot to be delayed until last November.
Since then, Syfy executives apparently have been trying to iron out a workable budget for such an effects-reliant project before ultimately determining there’s no way to make it work as a television series. However, the cable channel there’s still a chance Blood & Chrome could return to its roots, airing as a webseries.
Makes sense to me; the original 1979 Battlestar series, after a huge debut, quickly fizzled as its reliance on FX at the expense of story was just too much. That, and do we really care what happened in the Cylon Wars now? We know its outcome, after all. The Star Wars prequels, you may argue, are similar; however, there's always a chance for Star Wars sequels, too. No such luck with Battlestar. Its ultimate conclusion was already [lamely] played out.
As previously noted here several times, Prometheus is the highly anticipated "prequel" to Alien and opens June 8th.
As The Avengers movie gets closer and closer, Newsarama helps celebrate its release with their "10 Greatest Avengers Lineups of All Time." But, as you might expect, some of their choices are questionable to yours truly, and some are misplaced. Let's begin with the notable omissions:
What shouldn't be on Newsarama's list:
Best call by Newsarama: Heroes Return Avengers (volume 3) at #1. After all the initial hype, but then quick disillusionment, of "Heroes Reborn" (volume 2) featuring the talent of Jim Lee and the hype (notice I didn't say "talent") of Rob Liefeld, Marvel had its marquee characters return to its universe proper. Kurt Busiek and George Pérez took over the title and quickly established it as their own ... and one of the best ever. The team was insanely powerful (Thor, Iron Man, Warbird/Ms. Marvel, Scarlet Witch, the Vision, and the return of Wonder Man), but more importantly the stories were killer! Busiek immediately morphed the team into medieval versions of themselves, had them battle the Squadron Supreme (in a clear homage to the late Englehart era), and scripted one of the all-time best Ultron yarns ever. Kurt's love and respect for Earth's Mightiest oozed through in each and every issue.
One needs a suspension of disbelief to enjoy science fiction. This is just a basic fact of the genre. But for total enjoyment, the suspension has to be, well, plausible. For instance, with Star Trek, there are actually working theories about how an interstellar warp drive could work. (This doesn't absolve Trek overall, though, not by any means.) Wormholes, another means by which scifi writers use faster-than-light travel, are also hypothetically possible. Hell, even time travel now has more of a concrete scientific basis, going backwards in time (usually assumed to be impossible) included. But scifi writers can still push the ... "boundaries" of this necessary suspension of disbelief, most especially when it comes to current technology. This leads to B.S.O.D.M. -- "Biggest Suspension of Disbelief Moments." These are the moments when we set aside the necessary suspension and say, "C'mon." Here are but a few examples; I'm certain there are many, many more:
The end of Predator. This Arnold classic deserves its popularity. The premise is fairly sound, the action is first-rate, and the alien rocks. I enjoy the film ... right up until the last few minutes. Arnold successfully lures the Predator into his trap, and has him dead to rights after the massive tree trunk falls on the creature. But the alien then activates a wrist device which begins to make a classic "countdown" sound ...
The B.S.O.D.M . First, Arnold -- a superbly trained special forces operative -- stands there for precious seconds "figuring out" what the Predator is doing. Dude! I know what that sound means; why don't you?? Second -- and this is the biggie -- Arnie barely makes it some 400 meters away when the Pred's tactical nuke detonates. We see that the EMP from the nuke causes some of the electronics on Arnie's rescue chopper to fry, yet when the smoke clears, there's our hero ... just a bit singed. The pressure wave, the heat and the sound alone should have been enough to off Arnold, despite him managing to find a small crevice in which to hide.
The Ewoks in Return of the Jedi. Aside from the fact that their inclusion totally ruined the first trilogy, was there anyone who actually believed the rebels needed their [military] assistance?
The B.S.O.D.M. During the battle to destroy the shield generator on Endor, the Ewoks are knocking out Imperial troops -- who're wearing armor, mind you -- with rocks, spears and arrows. If those visually appealing white exo-suits ain't doin' their actual job, take 'em the hell off, Imperials. This is the empire that can build moon-sized space stations, but can't provide its troops with basic equipment? YEESH.
Jeff Goldblum in Independence Day. Aliens who've been watching Earth since at least the 1940s finally decide it's time to invade -- and only cable TV guy Jeff Goldblum can figure everything out.
The B.S.O.D.M. Not only is Goldblum the only dude who figures out there's a hidden signal coming from the aliens, he later writes a computer virus which disables the entire alien network! Considering that Jeff's 1996 virus couldn't disable a [human] computer today with up-to-date anti-virus protection, it is beyond laughable that interstellar-traveling aliens do not have system protection thousands of magnitudes better.
The moon in Space: 1999. We recently covered a possible Space revival; the original premise was that a nuclear waste dump on the moon explodes -- and acts as a giant "engine" which propels our satellite away from its orbit.
The B.S.O.D.M. Sci-fi god Isaac Asimov, among others, rightly laughed -- hard -- at this ludicrous premise. First, a nuke explosion powerful enough to knock Luna from its orbit (let alone act as an "engine") would obliterate it. Second, how does even a makeshift nuclear "engine" manage to propel a whole world to speeds which will enable it to encounter far-off worlds in other solar systems ... in human lifetimes?
Trans-warp beaming in 2009's Star Trek. Personally, I dug the reimagined Trek and the lengths JJ Abrams went through to include connections to the original "universe" and this new, alternate one. But shortly after Jim Kirk and original universe Spock discover Scotty on the base on that frozen planet, I said "WTF?"
The B.S.O.D.M. Original universe Spock informs [alternate universe] Scotty of his theory of "trans-warp beaming." No, Scotty hasn't invented it yet, so naturally Spock fills him in (adding more muddle to the new timeline and all that jazz). But this is besides the point. If Scotty developed a means to actually beam things through space faster than light -- with such precision that Kirk and himself materialize on the Enterprise with only minor hassles (Scotty pops up in the ship's fusion water tubes -- D'OH!), why in the f*** does Starfleet still need ships? All you gotta do is beam people to different worlds!
Insty had a link up yesterday to Amazon's top "comics and graphic novels." In the top 25 are The Walking Dead (numerous volumes), Watchmen, The Dark Knight Returns and The Killing Joke. The latter two are Batman tales, and they're definitely superb. Also later in the list are quite a few Dark Knight yarns, yet the line between "graphic novel" and "trade paperback" is blurred. A graphic novel, as I understand it, is supposed to be a stand-alone story collected in a large volume. A trade paperback is a volume of collected separate individual comic issues. For example, The X-Men story "God Loves, Man Kills" is a graphic novel. Watchmen first hit the stands as twelve individual issues, thus its collection into one volume makes it a trade paperback.
Whatever the case, it's now time -- because, as usual, no one demanded it -- for Hube's own definitive list of great graphic novels and TPBs. Included in that list would be those listed above. In no particular order:
MARVELS. This delightful Kurt Busiek-written offering highlights some of Marvel Comics' greatest moments in its history through the eyes of a Daily Bugle photographer. Beautifully painted by artist extraordinaire Alex Ross, it's a must for any long-time Marvel fan. The chapter on the X-Men may actually invoke some tears, too. FYI.
KINGDOM COME. Although I am not a big DC fan, this Alex Ross-painted "Elseworlds" tale is extraordinary. It deals with a hypothetical future world where Superman and other classic heroes have "retired," and the chaos that comes about as a result.
SUPERMAN: RED SON. Another "Elseworlds" tale this time by Mark Millar which hypothesizes the Man of Steel as a Soviet superhero. The art isn't all that great, but the story sure is, and the ending should catch you off-guard.
THE KREE-SKRULL WAR. See here. 'Nuff said.
AVENGERS FOREVER. I think only a true-blue Earth's Mightiest aficionado can truly appreciate this Kurt Busiek masterpiece (being that Kurt is THE master of comics continuity). The spectacular art by Carlos Pacheco sure helps, too. It features Avengers from past, present, and hypothetical futures.
IRON MAN: THE ARMOR WARS. Probably creators David Michelinie and Bob Layton's greatest Iron Man story, it details what happens when IM's technology is stolen and what happens when Tony Stark goes after it. Former Marvel head man Jim Shooter had a big hand in coming up with the idea.
DAREDEVIL: BORN AGAIN. Frank Miller wrote it and David Mazzucchelli drew it, and man-o-man does it rock. The dreaded Kingpin learns Daredevil's secret ID and sets in motion events that will slowly destroy the hero. But ... keep in mind the story's title!
X-MEN: THE DARK PHOENIX SAGA. Creators Chris Claremont and John Byrne's mutant masterpiece, it follows Jean Grey's descent into super-powered madness and how her teammates have to stop her. Loosely told in the third X-Men film, "The Last Stand."
SUPERMAN: SECRET IDENTITY. Possibly the best superhero tale ever told, this Kurt Busiek story features little action yet is stupefyingly awesome. In a world without superheroes, a young lad named Clark Kent suddenly realizes he has superpowers. If you don't have a big smile on your face at the end of the book, you're an unfeeling excuse for a human being!
GIVE ME LIBERTY. A highly underrated Frank Miller story, it features unlikely hero Martha Washington as she makes her way out of the prison-like housing projects to the top of the American military's ranks. At times way over the top, you can't help but root for Martha throughout.
SQUADRON SUPREME. Writer Mark Gruenwald's opus of the Justice League analogues of Earth-S fighting to save their world from anarchy and chaos following the takeover attempt of an ultra-powerful alien. Many consider this the basis for similar tales like the aforementioned Kingdom Come.
THE AUTHORITY: RELENTLESS. Way over the top radical leftism in its approach, this Warren Ellis and Bryan Hitch tale has a team of mega-powered heroes not only saving the Earth from insanely powerful menaces, it proactively goes about [attempting] to make the planet "better."
BATMAN: YEAR ONE. Another masterpiece by Frank Miller and David Mazzucchelli, it deals with just what it says -- the first year of the Dark Knight's activities in Gotham.
Via The Hollywood Reporter comes word that the campy 70s sci-fi drama "Space: 1999" will be revived, under the new (and necessary) title "Space: 2099." The original's premise had our moon blasted out of its orbit by the detonation of nuclear waste we had stored there over the years. The 300+ people on the moonbase there are stuck as our satellite leaves Earth and hurtles through space.
I must admit I don't remember much of the 70s show; I preferred the scifi of series like "UFO" and "Battlestar Galactica." Maybe the reboot will address how Earth would be affected after having lost its moon, not to mention how boring it would actually be for those stuck on the moonbase to travel through space. I mean, c'mon -- unless you're traveling at relativistic speeds, the only thing you're gonna see in your lifetime as a "moon-naut" will be our own solar system ... and perhaps a little beyond it.
Here's "Space: 1999's" opening sequence:
And in case you've never heard of "UFO," here's its opening sequence:
Notice the name Gerry Anderson in both? Not to mention the cool funky theme songs? Heh ...
How else can one explain the idiocy that is this Yahoo! Movies article by Timothy Sexton in which it is argued that the "Star Wars" prequels are -- wait for it -- superior to the original trilogy. And 'ya know why? Because they (supposedly) perfectly analogize the George W. Bush administration.
But right off the bat, Sexton fails (as so-called "progressives" so often do) to recognize that so much of his blather can describe what we've seen over the last three years of the current administration:
It verges on cinematic treason to suggest that the "Star Wars" prequel trilogy is in any way superior to the original trilogy. However, history has proved that treasonous behavior is just as often necessary to stimulate progressive revolution as it is to endow malevolent forces with unrestricted authority necessary to obstruct basic human rights.
I guess it never occurred to Sexton that the rise of the Tea Party and the massive electoral losses of Democrats in November 2010 were "stimulated" by Obama's actions like trying to force people to buy things that they do not want (gov.-mandated health insurance), or, more recently, forcing religious institutions to act against their beliefs? Nah, I guess not ...
The difference is that the original trilogy appealed directly to the simplistic moral perspective of an America above reproach and always on the side of right in global geopolitics, whereas the much more subversive prequel trilogy stands in defiant counterpoint to the much more dangerously simplistic moral absolutism of the Age of Bush.
Ah, yes -- ever the "progressive" penchant for moral relativism when it comes to the Cold War. No right or wrong -- just two equal-in-every-way superpowers conspiring and battling to see who would get better control of the planet.
But, of course, the "Age of Bush" was ... much more dangerous, you see.
The problem is that the post-9/11 world meant Americans also were forced to identify themselves with the Jedi in the prequel trilogy as well, and we don't like the face we see in the mirror. Let's face it, the Jedi don't exactly come off too swell in the prequel. This time around they are the guys in charge, and it is painful to watch them screw it up, especially when the way they hand over the keys to the Empire is so eerily familiar to a historical era defined by words like "signing statements" and "Patriot Act."
Just in case you didn't notice in your rush to castigate Jar-Jar Binks and complain about the wooden dialogue of the prequel, the peaceful Galactic Republic in place at the beginning of "The Phantom Menace" doesn't turn into the dark empire in place at the beginning of "A New Hope" due to an invasion by a foreign element. The Republic falls as a result of due democratic process, albeit due democratic process that is manipulated through lies and deception. Again, sound familiar?
It does sound familiar: Our own Justice Dept. suing states trying to uphold federal laws; our own Justice Dept. suing states who democratically pass laws requiring that a basic photo ID be shown when voting; our own government mandating that the people purchase and be enrolled in something whic they may not desire; our own government promising to close down Guantánamo Bay prison in one year yet finding every excuse in the book to maintain it; our own government initiating military action in a foreign country and never informing Congress; our own government, which had excoriated the previous administration for its tactics in the War on Terror, using the very same tactics and more, like the increased use of unmanned drones to assassinate those deemed enemies; our own government, upping the legal ante from the previous administration, now claiming it the right to detain indefinitely American citizens if they're deemed terrorist threats.
Yes indeed. Very familiar.
Chances are you don't even remember these words of Darth Maul: "Fear is my ally." One can well imagine that slogan scrawled across the office walls of men like Scooter Libby and tattooed across the back of Dick Cheney.
Or, perhaps, tattooed across the backs of Eric Holder and Barack Obama himself, especially when it comes to black America vs. white, or the American poor vs. the "rich."
Anakin's justification that if authoritarian control works in keeping us safe was being repeated on a daily basis by those in charge at the very time the scene was being projected onto multiplex screens around the world. Too many Anakin Skywalkers existed then and, amazingly, exist right now in this country who are far too eager to give up hard-earned civil rights for the illusion of security.
Wait -- did Sexton just take a jab at the current crop of dolts running the country? Nah, couldn't be. First, he says "amazingly" as if he just can't believe it. Second, he doesn't name names because, either that would be a disservice to the "progressive" cause ("Hey, maybe -- just maybe -- Obama and co. will come around and see the light, OK?"), or perhaps he expects to just stay in line with his argument, such that it is, that he's referring to old Bushian-style neocon Republicans still in government.
There is absolutely no element or character in the original trilogy that isn't delineated in stark black and white terms. Episodes IV through VI tell a much happier story, one that is consistent with the birth of the American democracy through acts of rebellion by a ragtag group of people who held the moral high ground.
What a laugh. Cretins like Sexton today would label those "acts of rebellion by a ragtag group" "domestic terrorism," and would call them either "racists," "angry, extreme mobs," and even "un-American." Those who rebelled in the Revolutionary Era did so mainly because of taxes and a belief that they weren't being [adequately] represented in government. Just look at how our government (and media) treated such people today -- the Tea Party, for example -- and these modern-day "rebels" did not even engage in acts of sabotage, less armed rebellion!
And from the article's comment section, an astute reader further tears asunder Sexton's idiocy:
The writer's entire premise is destroyed by the fact that Episode 1 was released in 1999, before Bush was even elected. Episode 2 was released 8 months after 9/11. I'm pretty sure it was in post production before 9/11. The most prescient line was in Episode 3. "So this is how liberty dies, with thunderous applause." That is what we are witnessing right now.
Better yet, perhaps, is this brief commenter sentiment: "The Force was Weak with this writer."
At least that made me giggle after the stream of interminable guffaws in the actual article. At any rate, ultimately what we're left with is just another pathetic attempt at keeping the "progressive" George W. Bush demon alive, this time via popular entertainment. And I this may be the most laughably hilarious attempt yet.
GEORGE W. BUSH:
There's NOTHING for which
he can't be blamed!
There ain't that many out there, but they exist -- follow-ups that outshined the original. Now, keep in mind that I am only including those which I've seen; please add to the list if you feel something has been omitted. Also keep in mind that I am only including immediate sequels, not later follow-ups (like, for instance, many Star Trek sequels were better than the first film, but only Star Trek II can count.)
So now, in no particular order:
SUPERMAN II. "Kneel before Zod!" (See left.) The original 1978 Superman made you believe that "a man could fly;" Superman II made you fear what four Kryptonians doing battle in a large city could wreak. The original Richard Donner cut is the one to see (despite the obvious edits), and given that it was 1981 when the flick came out, the F/X still kick butt (especially the city battle scenes).
STAR TREK II: THE WRATH OF KHAN. Despite the big hype surrounding the return of Kirk and co. in 1979's Star Trek: The Motion Picture, the film was way too slow, especially the ridiculously interminable scenes where various Enterprise crew gazed in awe at the remodeled NCC-1701. But no worries -- the follow-up featured hated villain Khan hijacking a Federation starship and threatening to wreak havoc upon civilization everywhere. Vintage Kirk hijinks, epic space warfare, and Ricardo Montalban spouting the classics make this one of the best sequels ever.
TERMINATOR 2: JUDGMENT DAY. Maybe not fair considering the budget of the original; nevertheless, Jimmy Cameron delivers and then some in this non-stop sci-fi action thriller. Schwarzenegger's killer android this time is good, and comes back to protect young John Connor from a more advanced Terminator. Connor's efforts at teaching Ah-nuld human colloquialisms ("Chill out. Dickwad.") are an instant classic.
THE INCREDIBLE HULK. Yep, it technically is a follow-up to Ang Lee's Hulk which had Eric Bana in the title role. But this time it's Edward Norton as Bruce Banner, who's on the run from his own government because, y'know, he's super-charged with gamma-irradiated BADNESS!! General Ross flushes Banner out of Brazil, and back to the States, where he eventually has to battle the Abomination (played awesomely by Tim Roth).
THE ROAD WARRIOR. "Two days ago I saw a vehicle that'll haul that tankeh. You wanna get outta heah? 'Ya talk t'me." That's probably the longest line star Mel Gibson has in this follow-up to Mad Max. The dystopian Outback can't be any scarier with the hordes of The Humongous waiting to pounce on you. But 'ol Max has a plan, and the climax car chase scene cannot be topped in cinema.
THE GODFATHER PART II. Delves much deeper into Michael Corleone's motivations and psyche, and features a young Bobby DeNiro as young Vito when he first came to America. Very long, but very, very good.
X-MEN 2. In my view the greatest comicbook flick ever made, it features Charles Xavier's minions teaming up with Magneto's Brotherhood of Mutants to stop the evil William Stryker from unleashing a plan to eradicate the planet of mutants. The action never stops, and the story is fantastic. It also features the live-action debuts of popular X-Men Nightcrawler and Colossus.
SPIDER-MAN 2. The origin story is over, and the lame movie version of the Green Goblin is done with, so now it's time to really swing! (Pardon the pun.) Spidey takes on one of his greatest enemies -- Dr. Octopus -- smartly portrayed by Alfred Molina. J.K. Simmons' Jonah Jameson couldn't be any better (especially his coining of the name "Doc Ock"), "The Soup's" Joel McHale has a cameo, and the action is sensational.
THE DARK KNIGHT. This sequel to the "re-imagined" Batman Begins not only kicks major ass in the action department, it features the absolutely spookiest portrayal of a villain I think I've ever seen -- Heath Ledger's Joker. Insanely dark and brooding, the soundtrack expertly adds to the creepiness whenever Ledger's highlighted.
FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE. Though Dr. No is noteworthy as the original Bond flick, it's arguably one of the lamest. The immediate sequel is much better, featuring, of course, Sean Connery in the title role and a young Robert Shaw as a buff Russian killer.
The following are HIGHLY DEBATABLE:
ALIENS. It's very difficult to compare the original, Alien, to its 1986 follow-up. They're two completely different types of films. Ridley Scott's 1979 scare fest was just that -- an insanely spooky and gory horror film. James Cameron's sequel was a knock-down/drag-'em-out action flick with the US Marines charging in to (futilely) attempt to off the deadly xenomorphs. Each film is top-notch in its own way.
THE EMPIRE STRIKES BACK (STAR WARS EPISODE V). I'm not at all in the cadre that agrees with this; however, many, many folks online believe that TESB is superior to Star Wars. Sure there's more characterization and mind-blowing revelations, but as a whole the original is clearly superior. SW's action alone makes it better; couple that with the snarky humor and Mos Eisley bar scene and it can't be beat.
DAWN OF THE DEAD. I saw this one pop up a lot in online debates on the topic; I have to disagree with this one as well. The original Night of the Living Dead is so classic in its campiness (it helps being in black and white) that none of the sequels tops it, in my opinion. Oh, and did I mention the dark humor? "Yeah, they're dead. They're all messed up." Love it!
LETHAL WEAPON 2. The sequel to the Mel Gibson-Danny Glover team-up is at least on par with the original, and it probably has better villains: racist, Apartheid-loving, "kaffir"-spewing white South Africans. Aside from Nazis, there's no easier bad guys to make use of then outright hardened bigots. But ... how does Mel always seem to bump into old Special Forces acquaintances? Especially ones now in the employ of a foreign government? I dunno ...
CHRISTMAS VACATION. Personally, I dig the original more, but I can see the appeal of the sequel. I've never been a big Chevy Chase aficionado, and he's definitely dopier (in a negative sense) in this sequel. I also could have done without the silly Julia Louis-Dreyfus/Nicholas Guest neighbor interludes. The original had it all: John Candy's dopey amusement park guard, Randy Quaid's hillbilly-esque family, and, of course, Christie Brinkley!
The "DO NOT GET ME STARTED" list:
DIE HARD 2. Nothing, I repeat, NOTHING tops the original Die Hard film. The original premise was so good that a flurry of knock-offs quickly followed (Under Siege, to name one, and even an episode of "Star Trek: TNG" did one -- "Starship Mine"), not to mention the campy humor was first-rate (Harry Ellis: "Hans? Bubbie!"). Classic roles by character actor Paul Gleason (Deputy Chief Dwayne Robinson), Robert Davi (FBI agent Johnson -- the white one), Reginald VelJohnson (Sgt. Powell), and William Atherton (Richard Thornburg) are not even close to being eclipsed in any of the sequels. (The only exception, perhaps, being DH2's Dennis Franz as Capt. Lorenzo.)
BACK TO THE FUTURE II. Good film, good sequel, but hardly on par with the original. C'mon -- the first film had it all, including a terrific soundtrack, and the while the sequel (to me) was pleasing from a time travel/scientific point of view (it actually made sense!), the overall entertainment value was taken down a notch. And I'm still laughing at how Biff didn't manage to see Marty riding behind him on his hover-board!
DC plans to put out numerous prequel Watchmen comics in the months to come (titled Before Watchmen), but original creator Alan Moore ain't happy about it:
Moore, however, isn’t as generous, describing the prequels as “completely shameless.” “I tend to take this latest development as a kind of eager confirmation that they are still apparently dependent on ideas that I had 25 years ago,” he told The New York Times.
The writer, who stopped working for DC in 1989 following disputes about Watchmen royalties and a proposed age-rating system, revealed in July 2010 that the publisher had at last offered to return the rights to his most famous creation, if he “would agree to some dopey prequels and sequels.”
“So I just told them that if they said that 10 years ago, when I asked them for that, then yeah it might have worked,” he said at the time. “But these days I don’t want Watchmen back. Certainly, I don’t want it back under those kinds of terms.”
Moore echoed those sentiments to The Times, insisting he likely won’t try to block Before Watchmen or face DC’s “infinite battery of lawyers” in a legal battle. “I don’t want money,” he said. “What I want is for this not to happen.”
And though I can't stand J. Michael Straczynski's politics -- he's writing the Dr. Manhattan prequel -- he's spot-on about Moore's ego:
“A lot of folks feel that these characters shouldn’t be touched by anyone other than Alan, and while that’s absolutely understandable on an emotional level, it’s deeply flawed on a logical level,” he said in an exclusive interview with Comic Book Resources. “Based on durability and recognition, one could make the argument that Superman is the greatest comics character ever created. But neither Alan nor anyone else has ever suggested that no one other than Shuster and Siegel should ever be allowed to write Superman. Alan didn’t pass on being brought on to write Swamp Thing, a seminal comics character created by Len Wein, and he did a terrific job. He didn’t say ‘No, no, I can’t, that’s Len’s character.’ Nor should he have.”
Exactly right. Scores and scores of writers and artists have created [good] stories using characters created by other people. Some argue that because Watchmen is a self-contained story -- it has a beginning, middle and end -- this makes Moore's point valid. No, not really. There's easily plenty of room for more background story on the characters; for that matter, there could easily be a Watchmen sequel, too, if DC wanted. Watchmen is quite a lucrative property for DC, so it makes perfect sense to expand upon its "universe." DC will make money, mainly because demand should be high for these prequels (such that demand is these days for comicbooks). The different creative teams and their respective characters' books are here.
I won't buy the prequels, but not because I'm uninterested. As mentioned, Straczynski's politics are a huge turn-off (as are those of many other current writers), and comic prices are just nuts when compared to what you get for your cash. Maybe when the series are collected into trade paperbacks I may consider a purchase.
In a decade-long court battle, mutants were ruled "not human" ... or more precisely, they’re not dolls:
Saving the world is ordinary fare for superheroes, especially teams like the Avengers and the X-Men. But one of the biggest battles ever fought in the Marvel universe took place in the real world, a historic fight that lasted 10 years and crossed America.
The clash ended quietly in 2003, with a monumental, six-figure legal ruling by the U.S. government: The X-Men and many other superheroes simply aren’t human.
Or more precisely, they’re not dolls, which, according to the U.S. Customs Bureau, represent “only human beings.” They’re toys, which represent “animals or non-human creatures.”
What’s the difference? Gazillions of dollars.
The U.S. government waded into the “mutant or mortal” battle 19 years ago at ports in Los Angeles and Seattle after Customs officials there classified several large shipments of action figures, including the X-Men, as “dolls” instead of “toys.”
But labeling the figures as “dolls” made importing the X-Men nearly twice as expensive as they would have been as “toys,” facing a 12 percent tax rather than a 6.8 percent tax.
It wasn't that easy, though. "'Humans have eyes, and ears, and mouths, and noses, and legs, and arms,' [lawyer Sherry] Singer explained to FoxNews.com. 'It was other features these figures had that, we believe, made them non-human.'" So, while many superheroes, including mutants, look human enough, characters like the Beast (blue fur), Wolverine (claws) and Hulk (huge, green skin) are, well, "non-human."
Interestingly, in the comics themselves, mutants are human -- they're the next step in human evolution, dubbed "homo sapiens superior." And why did the article use a picture of the Avengers at the top of the article? There's only one character in the pic that could be considered a "non-human creature": The Hulk. From left to right, the Black Widow is "merely" a highly trained super-spy; Thor is a very human-looking alien "god;" Captain America is a medically enhanced regular joe; Iron Man and War Machine (is he even in "The Avengers" movie?) are regular guys in powered suits of armor; and, lastly, Nick Fury is just a regular dude.
So I recently finished The Hunger Games trilogy. It will be coming to the big screen shortly so if you're not familiar with it you'll have plenty of opportunity.
The books are about a girl named Katniss who lives in a dystopian future which is totalitarian and rather bleak. I'll not go too into the plot so as to avoid spoilers. The first book, The Hunger Games, I rather enjoyed. It was well paced and fairly well written. The characters seemed plausible and the dialog was good. I do blame the editor for not knowing that arrows are carried in a quiver and not a sheath. Or that missiles are not "ground to ground" or "ground to air" but rather "surface to surface" and "surface to air". Other than that, a good book and suitable for younger readers
Next up was Catching Fire which furthers the plot from the first book with Katniss taking a pivotal role in the upheaval facing the Hunger Games universe. Like the first one, this book is quite good and exciting for young readers. It gets a bit graphic in terms of violence but nothing horrible. Katniss also starts to show some romantic interest in not one but two characters.
Lastly was Mockingjay. Ugh. You know how movies go wrong in the third act and ruin the whole thing? That's what we have here. There are characters acting in bewildering fashion, pacing problems (from too fast to too slow) and the book fails for me is the endless, torturous whining about her inability to choose between to boys. The boys, of course, remain friends despite their rivalry for her affections. I cannot tell you how aggravating this is. It is a trope that is the staple of every Lifetime movie or damn Romantic Comedy. Its unoriginal and unrealistic. I can make leaps of faith about evil governments and technology and so on but for me to believe that two teenage/twentysomething guys are going to remain friends when they're both after the same girl is beyond believable.
If re-edited to sanity the third book would be a good way to complete the story but as it stands you may want to read the first two and then go to Wikipedia to see how it plays out.
It's called, I believe, "work for hire":
Comic book publisher Marvel Entertainment owns the rights to the Ghost Rider character in the fiery form that originated in the early 1970s, a federal judge ruled Wednesday as she rejected the claims of a former Marvel writer seeking to cash in on lucrative movie rights.
U.S. District Judge Katherine Forrest tossed out 4-year-old claims brought by Gary Friedrich, who said he created the motorcycle-driving Ghost Rider with the skeletal head that sometimes had fire blazing from it. A Ghost Rider of the 1950s and '60s was a Western character who rode a horse.
The judge said Friedrich gave up all ownership rights when he signed checks containing language relinquishing all rights to the predecessor companies of Marvel Entertainment LLC.
"The law is clear that when an individual endorses a check subject to a condition, he accepts that condition," the judge wrote.
He (Friedrich) said he thought he had given Marvel the rights to use Ghost Rider in comic books, but that he retained the rights for movies and anything else.
"Was that understanding ever reduced to writing? Marvel attorney David Fleischer asked.
"No," Friedrich answered. (Link)
I know many a comic creator has [some] regrets about the 'ol "work for hire" stuff; this changed largely beginning in the 80s when writers/artists began staking out legal ways to get better compensation for characters they originated. For example, Delawarean David Michelinie apparently negotiated a way to get a small royalty from Marvel for anything sold related to the popular character Venom. Alas, as noted, Friedrich did his Ghost Rider work in the 1970s.
After once considering ditching the role due to interminable delays on the next film, Daniel Craig is reported to have been offered a contract to make him the longest-serving James Bond ever, surpassing [the lame] Roger Moore.
Oh, and maybe this explains why Quantum of Solace was significantly below the standard set by Casino Royale: Daniel Craig: 'I wrote 'Quantum Of Solace' script myself.'
Most definitely count me IN!!
WTF is Glenn Beck's problem now? He thinks that supporting Newt means ... you're racist??
“If you have a big government progressive, or a big government progressive in Obama… ask yourself this, Tea Party: is it about Obama’s race? Because that’s what it appears to be to me. If you’re against him but you’re for this guy (Gingrich), it must be about race. I mean, what else is it? It’s the policies that matter.”
Yeah, it is the policies that matter. And if you think Gingrich is another Obama, then you've got a big screw loose. YEESH.
Elsewhere, a group called The Florida Family Association is urging advertisers to pull spots from the new reality show “All-American Muslim":
“’All-American Muslim’ is propaganda clearly designed to counter legitimate and present-day concerns about many Muslims who are advancing Islamic fundamentalism and Sharia law,” the Florida group asserts in a letter it asks members to send to TLC advertisers.
Right. As if there are no everyday Muslims who don't subscribe to Sharia law and fundamentalism, and who act as apple pie American as anyone else. Please. Look, I'm for being as vigilant and as non-PC about radical Islam in the US as anyone else, but this show seems completely harmless. It's a freakin' reality show, for heaven's sake. There are literally uncounted numbers of them infesting the (cable) airwaves these days. What's one more about a non-fundie American Muslim family? C'mon.
Spinoff Online reports that the mega-star will be featured in All You Need Is Kill, based on Hiroshi Sakurazaka’s "light" novel. In it,
Cruise play[s] a new recruit in a war between humanity and invading aliens who becomes trapped in a time loop and has to relive the same battle over and over again until he discovers a way to break the cycle.
That's sounds like a very familiar concept. If anyone's a Star Trek: The Next Generation fan, the episode "Cause and Effect" should come to mind.
Looks like my favorite scifi novel of all-time (original cover, at bottom) will be getting -- thankfully -- a needed reboot: Starship Troopers.
Chances are good that (like just about every other reboot out there) the new Starship Troopers movie will be sold as grittier and more grounded in tone than its cinematic predecessor. However, similar to the Total Recall and Logan’s Run “updates”, this project could be designed as a more loyal interpretation of Heinlein’s original source material – rather than a strict remake of Verhoeven’s movie (check out the Wikipedia page for a quick rundown of some of the major differences between the Starship Troopers book/film).
The long anticipiated "Alien" prequel may leave fans disappointed. Not disappointed with the quality of the film -- disappointed that the ruthless xenomorphs might not play as big a role as we were teased previously. Ridley Scott's "Prometheus" will take an in-depth look at the basic origins of the human race, and the film's title will certainly have meaning:
As for the title, what is Prometheus? A ship? A character? Simply an allusion to the Greek myth? Or will the alien be revealed as a Frankenstein-like human creation? (Remember, the full title of Mary Shelley’s tale was The Modern Prometheus.)
“We’re not going to talk specifically about how it connects into the movie, but yes, [in Greek mythology], Prometheus was a titan who stole fire from the gods because they were keeping it for themselves and worried about what mankind would do if we got our paws on it. That’s a resonant theme. What are humans doing that we shouldn’t be doing?” Lindelof says.
Color me intrigued. "Prometheus" opens June 8, 2012.
Extraterrestrial origins of humanity has long been a popular theme in science fiction. Some of my favorite writers have extrapolated on such in incredibly interesting ways, and I wrote about 'em here.
Via Deadline, former James Cameron spouse (and scifi heavy hitter in her own right) Gale Anne Hurd is currently shopping for a buyer for her "Area 51" series:
The hourlong project, which will be taken out to the networks shortly, will be written by feature scribe Karl Gajdusek. It will follow two men working on the base who are thrust into danger when they uncover secrets that the government will protect at any cost. Gajdusek, who was brought in by Valhalla executive Beatrice Springborn, will serve as showrunner and executive produce with Hurd.
The show is based on Annie Jacobsen’s book Area 51: An Uncensored History of America’s Top Secret Military Base.
Here's what gets me about the teaser above (and what could ultimately lead to the series' downfall): The two dudes who work at the base will be made into martyrs for trying to "inform the public" about what they've discovered, and of course the [US] government will once again be the ultimate bad guys -- ruthless killers determined to silence any potential whistleblowers no matter the cost.
In a word: YAAAAWWWWN.
Been there, done that. Again and again and again. That was a big hassle with "The X-Files" -- the stand-alone episodes of that series were usually superb; however, the on-going (and interminable) plot about alien occupation of Earth and subsequent government cover-up was so convoluted and non-sensical that all one could do after a while was sigh a big "WTF??" Even the movies failed to resolve the issue.
Hey, look, I'll be the first to say that skepticism about our government is a damn good thing. But perpetually portraying it as an inhuman ogre (no alien pun intended) is not only not realistic, it's not smart from a business angle. If "Area 51" threaded the needle between the usual "evil government conspiracy" stuff and instances where secret US intervention actually benefitted the country (and humanity), then I think you'd have a winner. No one wants to constantly be told that their country sucks, even with regards to clandestine machinations. In the immediate post-nuclear age, most entertainment was brutally lopsided as portraying the US as uniformly positive. The last thirty years or so, such has taken an almost 180 degree turn. As the current demand in Washington DC these days is compromise and balance, Hurd would do well to heed this advice.
... ironically after The Guardian (UK) hypothesizes that his Batman would defend the Occupiers.
Here's part of Miller's diatribe:
Everybody’s been too damn polite about this nonsense:
The “Occupy” movement, whether displaying itself on Wall Street or in the streets of Oakland (which has, with unspeakable cowardice, embraced it) is anything but an exercise of our blessed First Amendment. “Occupy” is nothing but a pack of louts, thieves, and rapists, an unruly mob, fed by Woodstock-era nostalgia and putrid false righteousness. These clowns can do nothing but harm America.
“Occupy” is nothing short of a clumsy, poorly-expressed attempt at anarchy, to the extent that the “movement” – HAH! Some “movement”, except if the word “bowel” is attached - is anything more than an ugly fashion statement by a bunch of iPhone, iPad wielding spoiled brats who should stop getting in the way of working people and find jobs for themselves.
Would the Dark Knight battle on behalf of the OWSers? Well, if you recall, Gotham City's politicians were virtually all on the take, so if anything, Batman would be doing his thing down in Washington first and foremost -- scaring the bejeebees out of Obama, the House and Senate. Second, he would have very little sympathy for the violence, drug use, and wanton aimlessness of too many of the protesters.
That is, of course, unless some radical lefty writer gets his hands on the title and totally retcons the character ...
Jonah Goldberg and I would really hit it off if we ever got a chance to meet, mainly because we seem to enjoy precisely the same sort of entertainment. About the only TV show I am regularly following now is AMC's The Walking Dead, based on Robert Kirkman's incredible graphic novel series, and today Jonah has a thorough dissection of why that series -- much like another big fave of ours, Battlestar Galactica -- is rapidly ceasing to make a lot of sense.
You may recall Battlestar's main failing (aside, that is, from the writers' winging it during the last couple seasons) was the utter ridiculousness of the human motivations and interactions based on an extinction scenario. Tens -- hundreds? -- of billions of humans were systematically exterminated by the Cylons, and what does that "ragtag fugitive fleet" led by the Galactica do? Worry about freedom of the press. Make sure there's a democratic government that rules over the military. Refuse to act on an opportunity to exterminate their genocidal enemy. In other words, things that make no f***ing sense whatsoever.
Which brings us to The Walking Dead. Goldberg covers many items that have had me scratching my head during this second season, such as:
* There needs to be more talk about the best place to hide from zombies! Indeed. So far the survivors seem determined to plunk around in rural -- and wooded -- areas which offer seemingly little safety from the zombie horde. The last few episodes they've lost one child in the woods, and another was accidentally shot. I've always thought about appropriating a nice little island somewhere; the water acts as a natural buffer to zombie incursions, and if you get a few boats you can occassionally send a party back to the mainland for supplies.
Or -- and maybe the series will get to this -- the group can hole up in a prison like it did for many issues of the graphic novel series. It served their purposes quite well, for the most part.
* A little more concern about blood spray. It's long been established in zombie lore that the zombie infection is spread via the undead's bodily fluids -- their blood and saliva. But the crew in The Walking Dead always seems to have little worry about blood spatter when they happily smash to hell a zombie's skull. (A head shot/wound is the only way to kill a zombie, if you recall.) One character recently got a really nasty open wound on his arm -- so much so that it became gangrenous -- but there he is, wacking away at the undead with wanton abandon soon after. Not to mention in last week's episode the crew was hilariously trying to remove a zombie who had fallen into a well -- so that they could drink the water?? Like, how long had the freakin' thing been in the well in the first place? And, he didn't excrete any nasty fluids all the time he was in there?? Yeesh.
Anyone remember 28 Days Later? That flick did the infection part to a perfect tee -- so much so that it included a close-up of a drop of blood from an infection victim falling directly into a survivor's eye ... which then led to the survivor's immediate execution by a colleague ... because he had become infected! 28 Days Later routinely pointed out how survivors had to worry constantly about the infected's fluids -- a [very] intelligent plot point.
Most of Jonah's other points are also very well taken, especially the seeming lack of concern for acquiring more firepower. But I don't worry overmuch about the scientific "plausibility" of a zombie virus other than his point about the aforementioned 28 Days Later making more sense (fast zombies vs. the traditional slow ones) when it comes to the rapidity of virus dissemination, and the inability to control it.
Hopefully Walking Dead's writers will rectify these concerns and make a good show even better.
Rosie O'Donnell's new show premiered to 497,000 total viewers, and a .44 rating among OWN's target audience of women 25 to 54. It debuted Monday at 7 p.m.
"Oprah's Lifeclass," meanwhile, had 333,000 total viewers and a .4 among women 25 to 54. It aired at 8 p.m.
The network has struggled for ratings since its debut in January, and doesn't look to have an instant hit with O'Donnell.
Maybe that's because she's a first-class moonbat 9/11 Truther who turns the stomachs of a significant portion of the potential viewing audience.
Jeez, didn't McClain's wife say in the second installment, "John, why does this keep happening to us?" Yeah, three more times, it seems!
Totally kick-ass. Just hope the actual film is, too!
How 'bout that? A politically incorrect-panned-by-the-usual-MSM-pinheads story about a hero who takes on al Qaeda actually resonates with average people.
Yep, Frank Miller's Holy Terror leads in graphic novel sales.
One of the comics news sites I regularly visit is Newsarama. It's good for getting up-to-date information on the latest happenings in the comicverse, but unfortunately their "Top 10" lists (or whatever number) are woefully lame. Case in point today: Their "10 Comic Book Superpowers Way Worse Than Talking to Fish" includes the following characters: 3-D Man, Black Bolt, Venom, mutants (in general), and the Great Lakes Avengers. But if you know even a little about comics (and in particular, Marvel), you'd know such inclusions are ridiculous considering all the other characters that are out there. Consider, about those listed above:
If you want to read about character superpowers that are really much lamer than talking to fish, use Google -- because you'll discover sites like this which make a lot more sense in terms of "Top" lists ... which include NFL Superpro (above) which I myself panned here.
Well, it appears I was right when I asked "How 'bout some truth in advertising?" regarding Image Comics' The Big Lie -- its Trutheresque comic about the 9/11 attacks. Avi Green over at the indispensable Four Color Media Monitor reports on its debut, and the initial reports about it were chock full of ... well, lies. Avi notes via Wired:
It’s enough to make you void your Comixology pullbox. Rick Veitch, a legend in the comic book industry, published The Big Lie on Wednesday, a sleazy 9/11 Truther screed in sequential-art form. Spoiler alert: pseudo-scientific hysteria married to paranoia about How Bush Knew isn’t any cuter when told by cartoon figures.
[...] Veitch doesn’t stop at one conspiracy. They build in their scope and scale. First it’s about Norad unexpectedly preoccupying U.S. air defenses with frivolous training exercises. Then it’s about how the neocons in the Bush administration are looking for an excuse to invade Iraq. (“I’ve heard more than one of these nut-jobs say what the U.S. needs is a ‘New Pearl Harbor,’” says a character who informs us he voted for Reagan.) Finally, the skeptical husband, an engineer who did his thesis on the World Trade Center, dismisses his future-wife by assuring her that “the only way to bring down these structures down is with explosives.” You see where this is going.
Sigh. Yes, planes loaded with jet fuel and used as missiles can — and did — destroy the World Trade Center. Read the authoritative Popular Mechanics story about the physics of 9/11 if your mind is open to persuasion. Bush and company indeed wanted to take down Saddam Hussein from the start of his administration and they cynically tied Saddam to 9/11 absent evidence. But sorry: there is no evidence they planned an invasion before 9/11; no evidence that they knew about 9/11 and let it happen; and no evidence at all they brought the Towers down.
Actually, Bush and Co. didn't do any such thing, despite the "progressive" conventional wisdom. The only thing I can ever recall of "making" any such "connection" was one time Dick Cheney, after being asked about a relationship early on, said "we don't know at this point." But the fact is, President Bush specifically stated there was no a direct connection between the 9/11 attacks and Saddam Hussein.
But back to the comic: Remember what author Veitch said about it in its initial reporting: "[he] has aimed the book itself straight at the middle." In other words, Veitch's words about The Big Lie were themselves a big lie. There's nothing "straight at the middle" about George W. Bush somehow orquestrating 9/11. What it is is pure moonbat lunacy. Not only should Image Comics be ashamed of itself for publishing this drivel, but MSM outlets like USA Today should ashamed too for not accurately reporting on the book.
Remember what I said back in June:
Would anyone credibly state that "wondering" about our current president's place of birth is "down the middle?" Hell, no. That's the exclusive realm of the extreme right.
And you can be sure USA Today would be damn sure to point that out -- and not at all sugarcoat a a report about a comic whose premise is President Obama really being born in Kenya. Not to mention you can bet that major MSM outlets would be screaming bloody murder about the story ... how crazy Image is, what our political discourse "has descended to," and all the other [hypocritical] BS.
Oh, and if I didn't already say it, I'll paraphrase Maxine Waters: Veitch can go straight to Hell.
Another no-talent rapper wanting to get some ink:
A proud military veteran is demanding an apology from Soulja Boy — after the rapper posted a video saying, “f**k the army troops.”
Soulja ignited a wave of controversy this week over his new song, “Let’s Be Real” — which includes the lyrics:
“F**k the FBI and the army troops … fighting for what? Be your own man …
… I’ll be flying through the clouds with green like I’m Peter Pan.”
To which Michelle Malkin retorts: "Just wondering: Has 'Soulja Boy' ever penned lyrics telling jihadists to 'f*** off?' Be your own man for once, 'Soulja.' Try it."
Apollo 18 is not a documentary. The film is a work of fiction, and we always knew that. We were minimally involved with this picture. We never even saw a rough cut. The idea of portraying the Apollo 18 mission as authentic is simply a marketing ploy. Perhaps a bit of a ‘Blair Witch Project’ strategy to generate hype.
Gee, thanks. They must not be very busy, then, with their Muslim outreach, huh?
Next up: Historians reveal that Oliver Stone's "JFK" is a "work of fiction."
Inspired by this Cracked.com article (which is incredibly funny, by the way) and being the movie culture maven that I am, I just had to chime in with my own takes on some of the most ridiculous match-ups in action film history ... as usual because no one demanded it!! Now, keep in mind I tried to be 100% original and come up with my own fracases, but some of Cracked's were just too good to skip over. Like the first one here:
JOHN MATRIX vs. BENNETT in COMMANDO.
This is Cracked's #1 such fight, and deservedly so. In fact, if you're not cracking up very early in the film when you realize that Bennett is supposed to be Matrix's (Ah-nuld Schwarzenegger) arch-nemesis, something's wrong with your WTF meter. Bennett looks like he's spent the last decade or so trying to win the National Couch Potato contest. Heck, the only thing that even gives Bennett ("I feel good, Jawn!") a chance in hell is that he pops a bullet into Ah-nuld's shoulder before their scuffle ensues.
ROCKY BALBOA vs. IVAN DRAGO in ROCKY IV.
Let's be real here: Drago killed Apollo Creed after just a bit over a single round in the ring. Later we see that, after a punch, Drago's pressure per square inch figure rises to superhuman levels. Meanwhile, Rocky insists on training "naturally," which in this case means chopping wood, dragging sleds, and climbing mountains so he can shout Drago's name at the top of his lungs. All of which would more likely get Rock a nasty cold or virulent flu rather than prepare him to defeat Drago. Even if you buy that the Italian Stallion could best the towering Russian, the fact that Rock's face looks like he's only been through a minor sparring exercise after the fight is laughingly ridiculous. At least as ridiculous as his Cold War kumbayah speech after his victory.
ROGER MOORE vs. JUST ABOUT ANY VILLAIN in ANY JAMES BOND FILM.
Moore is by far the least believable Bond in terms of being able to kick your ass. Every other dude who played the role looked like he could, especially Connery and the new Daniel Craig. What's even funnier is that Moore had to go up against probably the most physically powerful Bond baddie ever -- Jaws -- not just once, but twice! (The Spy Who Loved Me, Moonraker.) By Moore's last flick (A View to a Kill), he'd have had a hard time taking down his co-star, The Avengers' Patrick Macnee.
CHANCE BOUDREAUX vs. EMIL FOUCHON in HARD TARGET.
That'd be Jean Claude Van Damme vs. Lance Henriksen, for the uninitiated. Let's see ... Van Damme is a martial arts expert whereas Henriksen is best known for playing the android Bishop in a couple Aliens movies. Yeah, sounds fair. I dunno, for some reason, for a few years there, some folks in Hollywood though Lance would make a good bad-ass. A few years before Target, he locked horns with NFL bust Brian Bosworth in the dreadfully bad actioner Stone Cold.
MICHAEL HARRIGAN vs. THE PREDATOR in PREDATOR 2.
Er, that'd be Danny Glover vs. the nasty (and huge) alien hunter. Let's face it: Ah-nuld in the original barely bested the creature -- and he's the best special forces badass any government could possess. And what's Harrigan? A freakin' street cop in Los Angeles. He'd have, what -- a tiny fraction of the training that Ah-nuld had. Not to mention, Harrigan just happens to school some special ops dudes who've been tracking the Pred since shortly after Ah-nuld's original mission (reuniting Glover and Gary Busey from Lethal Weapon) ... as if they wouldn't know more about the alien than he. YEESH.
GABE WALKER vs. ERIC QUALEN in CLIFFHANGER.
This is also on Cracked's list, and again very deservedly so. Not only is this flick ridiculous in that the surroundings are snow covered mountains and Sly Stallone is meandering around in a f***ing tank top most of the time, but Qualen is played by ... John Lithgow. The only thing I could envision that would allow Lithgow to even get one good shot in on Sly is being his still being miffed that he couldn't see Debra Winger anymore. Or, perhaps, still being miffed that his town of Bomont threw in the towel and allowed dancing.
UPDATE: A good buddy of mine e-mails me one that has just got to be added:
DALTON vs. BRAD WESLEY in ROAD HOUSE.
OK, yeah, Wesley (Ben Gazzara) had bruiser Jimmy do most of his dirty work throughout the flick -- that is until Dalton (Patrick Swayze) beat the living sh** out of him. Ultimately, it came down to the two protagonists as we all knew it would ... and would the outcome ever be in doubt? Heh. Except that Dalton gets overcome by a nasty streak of morality at the critical moment. No worries; Wesley's long-time victims blow the SOB away with multiple gunshots.
Picking up on a post by Ace, I've read with some interest about how Marvel plans to kill off Peter Parker as Spider-Man. Well, not really Spider-Man, but the Spider-Man of the popular (alternate) "Ultimate" universe (on which much of their movie franchise is based).
And Parker's replacement will be a half-black, half-Latino kid.
Some have an issue with this -- not because of the new Spidey's heritage, but because the usual peons in the MSM are highlighting this very facet, complete with silly statements:
It’s not simply about publicity and stirring things up to get people talking (although Marvel surely welcomes those, too). It’s about a black kid in D.C., a Dominican kid in the Bronx or a young Mexicano from California being able to read a comic and come away from it saying, “I can be Spider-Man.” Generations of minority comic-book fans before this day, couldn’t say such a thing.
Come on. Marvel's been on the cutting edge of societal change since it exploded on the scene with the Fantastic Four in 1961. And there have been plenty of minority superheroes created by Marvel who have been positive examples and have been quite popular. And how much of a ... conceit is it to claim that a minority kid can't dream of being a [white] superhero? And why would it have to be a white superhero anyway? Why can't it be just a superhero in general? Ridiculous. This is akin to the preposterous "minority kids can only learn with a minority teacher" mantra (which also has no basis in reality).
And for some, the fact that the new Spidey is of mixed racial heritage ain't enough. He might be gay. Sheesh.
Overlooked in all this is the fact that Marvel already has a mixed heritage Spider-Man: Spider-Man 2099. His real name is Miguel O'Hara, a Latino-Irish mix. Miguel's mom's name is Conchata.
Avi Green over at Four Color Media Monitor has more.
Overall, I think this move by Marvel is A-OK. I mean, why not? Their "Ultimate" universe, like their many other alternate realities, exist precisely to create new (and possibly controversial) stories. The folks making the biggest issue of this are the lefties, who are, as always, obsessed by race, ethnicity, sex, and sexual orientation. The rest of us just want good superhero stories, and could care less that characters like War Machine, the Falcon, Luke Cage, Firebird, Living Lightning, Cyborg, and now the new Spider-Man, are minorities. And as a kid, I couldn't have cared less what their color is. I'd just fantasize about having their powers and abilities!
I've been a fan of the Ape movies ever since I was a little boy. And why not? They had it all for a budding science fiction fan: space travel, time travel, intelligent apes, Armageddon ... so, I just may have to venture out and catch the new Rise of the Planet of the Apes which comes out tomorrow.
But now -- because no one demanded it!! -- here is your guide to the Ape movie franchise, just so you'll have some inkling of what's happening in the new flick (if you don't already, that is).
PLANET OF THE APES (1968)
Why it's cool: The ultimate catch-you-off-guard twist ending, superb Cold War-era moralizing, classic catch phrases, Chuck Heston in his heydey, and the very hot Linda Harrison as Nova.
Why it blows: It doesn't! Although you might have a few in-depth questions like "Why was their spacecraft so damn small for an interstellar voyage?"
BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES (1970)
Why it's cool: Funky human mutants living beneath Earth's surface worship a doomsday weapon, and Linda Harrison is back as Nova.
Why it blows: Totally unnecessary, really; gratuitous Chuck Heston appearances. And a cobalt bomb is not a doomsday bomb because of devastating megatonnage -- it's deadly because it produces extremely long-lasting radiation. Thus, the Earth would not blow up at film's end.
ESCAPE FROM THE PLANET OF THE APES (1971)
Why it's cool: Roddy McDowell and Kim Hunter are terrific as Cornelius and Zira who've been hurled back in time to present-day Los Angeles (1973, that is) after using Taylor's (Chuck Heston) repaired spaceship to escape the destroyed Earth (from Beneath). Lots of humor and a neat continuum tie-in make for a cool story.
Why it blows: How in the hell did Cornelius and co. salvage Taylor's ship, let alone repair it and get it flight-worthy? The apes were essentially at the technological level of the 16th century!
CONQUEST OF THE PLANET OF THE APES (1972)
Why it's cool: At the very least shows how the hell apes came to rule the planet in the first place: The intelligent offspring of Cornelius and Zira (from Escape) lives a hidden life until adulthood, and then leads the ape revolution against an oppressive fascist [human] state in 1991; apparently good enough to spark a 2011 remake (Rise).
Why it blows: A limited budget hampers better plot development by limiting the scenery to just one city; more explanation of how America (and elsewhere) became fascistic would've been nice; how does one smart ape lead a revolution with all the other apes -- who're dumb?
BATTLE FOR THE PLANET OF THE APES (1973)
Why it's cool: Only redeeming facet: Shows that time is not immutable. Apparently, Caesar (Cornelius and Zira's child) changes the future by establishing a society where apes and humans live in harmony.
Why it blows: Talk about stretching things just to make more cash. This flick is ten times more unnecessary than Beneath. The "battle" scenes totally suck, the scenery of the nuked city is cheesy beyond belief, and well, everything else.
PLANET OF THE APES (2001)
Why it's cool: A remake 33 years later? Sure, why not? Better make-up and special effects!
Why it blows: It didn't work. The plot sucked and we didn't see anything novel or inventive save, perhaps, the ending. Which, by the way, I thought would be tied in to the coming Rise. But apparently not.
RELATED: Check out MSNBC.com's "Best and Worst" of the Planet of the Apes.
Never let a long-codified law get in the way of a politically correct statement.
Such is the case in Star Trek: The Next Generation. The last couple seasons of TNG got a bit ridicuous trying to make present-day-connecting (and politically correct) "messages," the most egregious of which was its last season's "Force of Nature" in which the utilization of warp drive has been tearing up the fabric of space-time ... a la greenhouse gasses and Earth's atmosphere, get it?. But there was also "Journey's End," also in the final season, where Wesley Crusher is shown to be (perhaps) the next step in human evolution.
This isn't the WTF Moment (because, although silly, is still science fiction); that goes to the scene where the inhabitants of Dorvan V -- who are descendants of North American Indians -- lecture Capt. Picard about his distant ancestor's involvement in massacring their distant relatives in the 17th century(!) Pueblo revolt. The problem is that this directly contradicts Star Trek's very own "law," even cited by Picard himself against the omnipotent Q in the series premiere, "Encounter at Farpoint." And this law says that "citizens may not be held responsible for crimes committed by their ancestors."
Though Picard never mentions this exculpatory law in "Journey's End," he clearly agonizes over the actions of his 700 year-old(!!) descendant as he works out a plan to remove the 24th century Indians from their planet (due to a Cardassian-Federation treaty). Weirdly, this long-standing law was good enough for Picard to use to argue in favor of humanity as a whole (despite its horrific past), yet it's not enough to assuage his own personal guilt over the actions of some 3/4 of a millenium-old ancestor who was involved in a battle against Native Americans.
One of the cooler science fiction series from my teenage days was "V." The premise: Supposedly friendly aliens come to Earth begging for our assistance to save their dying world, and in return we'll get some advanced technology. Unfortunately, the Visitors actualy want to harvest us for food -- because they're actually reptilian humanoids. Oh, and they also want ... our water.
The economics are obtaining liquid H2O from Earth are ridiculous, especially when there's plenty of water in outer space -- and it's extremely easy to obtain. Y'know, like a thing called a "comet?" How much easier would it be for a space-faring race to just nab a [dormant] comet (or, even better, a mostly all-ice asteroid), and tow it to where they want? The answer is MUCH easier. There's no need to store it in tanks, no need to use pumping machinery, and you can transport a LOT more of it.
This whole idea is as silly as the premise of, say, "Independence Day" where the aliens have come to steal our resources. Why would aliens want Earth's resources (and by the way, which resources, precisely?) when we humans have plundered them so thoroughly already ... and most of these resources are already readily available in outer space?
Interesting read today over at New American by Bruce Walker titled "When Marvel Comics was Anti-Communist." Overall, I think Bruce makes a solid case. During the "Marvel explosion" of the 1960s, Stan Lee (the main Marvel writer) had no compunctions about scribing overtly anti-Communist stories. Many of my fave character's, Iron Man's, early adventures in Tales of Suspense had him thwarting many Commie plots, whether they were Russian, Chinese or whatever. For example,
Walker's difficulty is that he concentrates on Captain America (due to the new movie). He mentions Cap's exploits against various Communist baddies in the 1950s; however, he omits how that was actually explained in Marvel continuity. After all, as we see in the new film, Cap was frozen in ice for decades, from the 1940s to his awakening in the modern era to fight alongside the super-team Avengers. This parallels exactly what we saw in the comics.
So ... if Cap was frozen, how did he fight Communists in the 1950s?
Marvel's answer came in the 1970s with writer Steve Englehart's landmark run on Captain America. As I wrote in February of 2010:
In the 1970s, aforementioned Marvel scribe Steve Englehart decided to "explain" the story behind the Captain America that was seen in the 1950s. (You may be aware that in "standard" Marvel continuity, Cap was thrown into suspended animation at WW II's end and thawed in the mid 1960s.) Essentially, a guy had stumbled upon, while doing research, the formula by which Steve Rogers became Capt. America. He approached some government highers-up and proposed that the "super soldier" program be started anew. However, the formula that had been unearthed isn't the perfected version that was used on Rogers. Tests showed that it caused the subject to slowly go insane. Nevertheless, our researcher befriended a new "Bucky" (the name of Cap's original partner) and both decided to use the [unperfected] formula on themselves. They then briefly go about "resuming" the roles of Capt. America and Bucky for a time.
Unfortunately, the whole aura of Cap fighting evil Communists in the 1950s is tarnished -- not because it wasn't the real Capt. America doing the fighting, but because in Englehart's story the substitute Cap is revealed to be a fascist bigot. Granted, it's explained that the "unperfected" version of the Super-Soldier serum that the faux Cap used slowly caused him to become mentally unstable, so that he began to see Commies everywhere ... quite Joe McCarthy-like. But you cannot escape the knowledge that we essentially had a nutcase fighting "for America" in the 50s.
Walker's lament of comics in the late 60s and 1970s switching from anti-Communist tales to those of social issues is understandable, but from the business viewpoint of Marvel (and DC), the choice was obvious. The social and political fabric of the USA had [irrevocably?] changed, and readers wanted stories to reflect the times. But even then, Marvel wasn't overt in "taking sides," if you will. Tony Stark (Iron Man) switched his company from weapons to more peaceful pursuits (like in the movie) such as pollution control and medical tech, but he still was the quintessential capitalist, and he still battled Communist badguys like the Mandarin, Titanium Man and Crimson Dynamo. Characters like Capt. America's partner, the Falcon, and the Black Panther dealt with racism and civil rights. So did the X-Men. It was, after all, the culmination of the civil rights era. But these characters still battled obvious badguys like those just noted.
Throughout the 70s and 80s, overt political posturing wasn't much of an issue. Talented writers did a good job hiding their biases. It wasn't until the 90s and first decade of the 2000s that overt [left-wing] politicking became commonplace, as we've documented quite thoroughly here at Colossus. As Walker notes, lately there has been a lack of pointing out, and then fighting, the obvious bad guys, including Communists. Remember the ridiculous controversy surrounding Frank Miller's [now greatly modified] "Holy Terror, Batman." Somehow, the Dark Knight taking on al Qaeda, of all things, was "too controversial." Unbelievable, I know. Not only does the liberal media (of which comics is currently a part) have a soft spot for Communism, as Walker states, it has a soft spot for any anti-Western entity.
SPOILERS BELOW THE FOLD!
The background story is fairly true to the original comicbook tale (unlike the dreadful 1990 straight-to-video version that almost saw the theatre). Chris Evans does a good job in the title role of Steve Rogers, and the CGI effects used to portray him as a 98 lb. weakling pre-super soldier formula are amazing. The film is also supposed to portray, apparently, the "Ultimate" version of the hero -- the alternate reality "updated" Capt. America.
The film does what it's supposed to -- make the necessary connections to the various other Marvel movies of recent years ("Iron Man," "Iron Man 2," "Thor," "The Incredible Hulk") to lead us to next year's "The Avengers." Tony Stark's father, Howard, plays a big part in the film in the role of civilian technical adviser. He's also responsible for designing Cap's iconic shield. Hugo Weaving is superb as the Red Skull, oozing evil deviousness as well he should. His principal weapon, the Cosmic Cube, is mentioned to be one of Odin's artifacts from Asgard, a neat and obvious connection to "Thor."
Be sure, if you're a fanboy, to make careful note of the "World of Tomorrow" fair (or whatever the actual name was) that Steve and pal Bucky Barnes go to before Steve becomes Cap. You'll notice several homages to classic Marvel lore, notably Professor Phineas Horton's "synthezoid" -- who just happens to be the Original Human Torch standing in a large glass tube.
Bucky dies, true to the comic. It's falling from a train this time, though, not from a plane as in the comic.
There was no shortage of American flags and other red, white and blue!
Hayley Atwell as Agent Peggy Carter. YOWSAH!!
The ending: This is taken directly from the pages of The Ultimates, where SHIELD attempts to "ease" Cap back into the modern world by pretending he's still in the 1940s. When Steve realizes it's a ruse, he busts out of the building, tearing up SHIELD personnel along the way.
Frankly, the NY Post has a point in its criticism of the film. Where the hell are the Nazis?? The Red Skull is a Nazi, and while there are several references to Hitler and his fellow goose-steppers, the Skull is actually part of HYDRA, somehow made into an SS-like rogue subdivision of the Nazi Party. I can't even remember seeing a swastika in the film, for heaven's sake. And the sad thing is, there is absolutely no reason to make this change for the film. It just adds an unnecessary layer to the plot. Debbie Schlussel, who I usually cannot take, is spot-on in her criticism of this.
Then there was the lack of action. Or, I should clarify, the lack of hand-to-hand action that makes Cap what he is. There was too much "big" action -- Cap and the Howling Commandos tearing up that advanced HYDRA base, for example -- and a disappointing lack of Cap doing what he does best. The few scenes of such that there were were done very well.
The Red Skull is light-years smarter than Howard Stark? Since when?? The scene where Stark takes a gander at the submarine captured by Cap shortly after Professor Erskine's murder is befuddling. He says, "I don't recognize ANY of this stuff" (or something similar) which means the stuff is so advanced, the greatest scientific mind in the US is totally clueless! At first I was thinking that, since this is supposed to be the "Ultimate" version of Cap, the alien Chitauri/Skrulls were responsible for the advanced technology as they were in the first series of The Ultimates. But this was not the case! The Red Skull (and righthand man Arnim Zola) were genius enough to create weapons technology so far advanced that not even America's greatest mind could comprehend it. Right. Uh huh. How would that happen, precisely?
Historical accuracy. African-American troops didn't exactly serve alongside white troops during WW2. In fact, aside from only a few instances, they served exclusively in segregated units. But if we believe what we see in "Cap," it seems President Truman's order desegregating the military occurred five years earlier. If you think about it, this is really a silly nod to political correctness. There have been ample stories about Cap's unhappiness with the racism towards, and segregation of, blacks in the WW2 military (including an emotional one in an Ultimates annual). The film could have made a [powerful] statement about prejudice and bigotry (via Cap), especially since an African-American did indeed serve in the Howling Commandos: Gabe Jones.
While the background of Rogers was done pretty well, they leave out an important aspect: How he became the incredible fighter that he is. The film concentrates on him becoming a USO performer (which, admittedly, was done well and was a cool comic touch), but it just assumes that because he received the super soldier serum, he automatically becomes the best fighter the world has ever seen. Wrong! The transformation made Rogers a lot stronger and durable than the average guy. It didn't imbue him with fighting prowess. For a good example of how this story should be told, check out John Byrne's superb 40th anniversary issue of Cap, #255 from 1981.
Why did Cap have to crash the giant B-2-like aircraft at film's end? Peggy Carter -- rightly -- tells Steve that there are several sites where he can land the craft. For some inexplicable reason he says he can't do that, and he'll have to ditch it into the water. I assumed it was because of the plane's autopilot; however, Steve quickly pushes down on the jet's stick, causing it to descend rapidly. If he can control the jet, why can't he do what Carter said?
WTF? Dept.: Why in the hell were the [atomic?] bombs destined for various American cities painted with their city names on them in affectionate "Enola Gay"-like style? This made absolutely no sense considering the design of the lettering, not to mention it was all in English!
Too long. The flick could have trimmed at least 15 minutes and you wouldn't have missed anything of value.
HUBE'S RATING: 2.5 shields out of 5.
From the NY Post: 'Captain America' goes soft on Hitler.
I'm seeing the film tomorrow (the official premiere day), so I'll chime in on whether this is an accurate assessment sometime after.
Possibly the biggest WTF in the seven seasons of "Star Trek: The Next Generation" goes to the sixth season's "Relics." This episode brings forth the popular Scotty from TOS (The Original Series) fame into the future. The premise is pretty cool: Marooned, the expert engineer rigs the transporter to continuously cycle, keeping him alive but as energy. Hopefully, someone will discover him before either the power fails or his [molecular] pattern degrades. Of course, the Enterprise-D stumbles upon Scotty's ship ...
The problem is where the famous engineer's ship had crashed. It's on the outer shell of a Dyson sphere, which would be -- by far -- the most incredible artifact the Federation has ever discovered, possibly ever. It's a shell constructed about one AU (astronomical unit) around a star, a complete envelopment to make use of virtually all of a sun's energy. The engineering to accomplish such a feat is, of course, mind-boggling ...
... but what does "Relics" concentrate on? Scotty -- his engineering wizardry and how he'll cope with being some 80 years out of time! The most amazing architectural specimen ever conceived and then discovered? Just a minor sub-plot. Sheesh.
Due out about a year from now:
It will be a mere ten years since Marvel's first Spidey flick starring Tobey Maguire. Is it too soon? In my opinion, a definitive yes. The nagging question surrounding this film is ... "why??"
My daughter was combing through Fandango's website the other night looking for upcoming films, and she suddenly exclaims, "Hey papi -- 'The Thing' in October!!" I immediately thought, "Ah, the prequel."
And indeed, that's what it is. The prequel will have the same title as John Carpenter's classic 1982 horror fest (and that of the 1951 original, although it also has the sub-header "from another world" in it) and will detail the Norwegian Antarctic outpost's unearthing of an alien spaceship (buried under the ice) which houses The Thing. (In the Carpenter film, Kurt Russell and co. discover, belatedly, what had happened to the Norwegian camp ... see at left.) But here's the problem: The prequel will offer nothing new. It will be essentially exactly what we saw in Carpenter's flick! Consider: In the 1982 offering, the Americans freak themselves out wondering 1) just what the f*** the alien is, and 2) who among them is infected by the alien organism. Aside from the actual discovery and unearthing of The Thing's ship, how will the prequel be any different? Answer: It won't. It'll be just like 1982.
This is akin to the debacle known as "Alien 3." Early drafts for the sequel called for something like that which we saw in the second "Alien vs. Predator" movie: the Aliens get loose among a heavily populated human settlement. They also offered unseen takes on how the Alien infestation progressed. But what we actually got was really in no way different from the original "Alien" film, but sans the original's abject horror and suspense.
Just as the discarded drafts for "Alien 3" would have been more daring and original, I think a sequel to Carpenter's film would have been better than a prequel. Consider: At that flick's end, only MacReady (Kurt Russell) and Childs (Keith David) remain. Their outpost is totally destroyed (thanks to Russell and two other now-dead companions in their effort to destroy The Thing), and once the fires die down MacReady and Childs will slowly freeze to death. The more-than-obvious question Carpenter wants us to ponder is ... is MacReady or Childs infected with The Thing's alien organism? Or, was The Thing really killed by Mac and company's efforts? A good sequel, using contemporary CGI tech, would do well to do the following: Have an expedition discover Mac and Child's corpses, one of which, when thawed, is revealed to be The Thing. (Or, have the expedition discover that The Thing was not obliterated by Mac and co.'s attempts.) The key, however, is to have The Thing be revealed back in civilization -- not the remoteness of the Antarctic. Recall the dread you felt when you saw Doc Blair's (Wilford Brimley) computer screen projecting that the entire world population would be infected with the alien germ 27,000 hours after first contact!
Imagine how suspenseful it would be watching authorities attempting to quarantine the alien plague, all the while various people are slowly and inexorably being transformed into Things. The ending could be the perfect dystopian terror: Planet Earth becomes a whole new world ... of Things.
From 1986: Classic William Shatner appearance on "Saturday Night Live" where the Enterprise has been turned into a restaurant ("Cap'n Kirk's"). Dana Carvey as arch-villain Khan is so dead-on, just try not to die laughing!
If you haven't already noticed (but it is easy to miss), I've added a new comics blog to the roll. It's that of none other than Jim Shooter -- former editor-in-chief at Marvel and one of the best comics writers of all-time.
If you're an older comics fan, you'll recall Shooter's reign. Many of his blog entries deal with inside stories of anecdotes we've only heard snippets of. I spent about two hours yesterday reading through some of them.
Because NOBODY demanded it but because I know you all look to me for the pinnacle in creative and cultural insight(!!), I now present to you the official Hube James Bond Films Ranking Index.
The number in parentheses is the number of the film (chronologically).
1. CASINO ROYALE (21). Daniel Craig explodes onto the scene as the sixth James Bond ... and the best. "Casino" signals a "rebooting" of the franchise with Bond as a meaner, grittier and less perfect agent. So good, I watch it in its entirety every time it's on.
2. GOLDFINGER (3). Original Bond Sean Connery's best outing, featuring one of the best Bond villains ever, Oddjob; one of the best lines ever ("No Mr. Bond, I expect you to DIE!"); and, of course, probably the best gadget of all, the spy-equipped Aston Martin. Oh, and need I mention the best Bond Girl name of all -- Pussy Galore?
3. FROM RUSSIA WITH LOVE (2). Connery has to deal with a beautiful fake Soviet defector, as well as a sociopathic (Soviet) assassin Robert Shaw.
4. LICENSE TO KILL (16). I know I'll get grief for this choice, but Robert Davi's portrayal of drug lord Franz Sanchez makes this second (and last) Timothy Dalton-as-Bond film a keeper, not to mention possibly the most beautiful Bond Girl of all, Cary Lowell.
5. YOU ONLY LIVE TWICE (5). Connery kills it again in this epic featuring snatched spacecraft, "marrying" a kickin' Japanese babe, and SPECTRE's Ernst Blofeld.
6. THUNDERBALL/NEVER SAY NEVER AGAIN (4, 13.5). Put together because the latter was a(n) [unauthorized] remake of the former (starring Sean Connery making a comeback), albeit with the added subplot of James Bond becoming an aging agent. The plot: SPECTRE threatens the planet with stolen nuclear weapons.
7. MOONRAKER (11). I'll get grief for this choice, too, but this fourth Roger Moore offering has non-stop action in worldwide locales, a classic villain (Jaws), and it unabashedly latched on to the late-70s "Star Wars" science fiction craze. There's never a dull moment, despite some silliness.
8. DR. NO (1). Set the stage, though it arguably doesn't hold up very well in contemporary viewings. Ursula Andress is the first-ever Bond Girl, and it was a damn good choice.
9. THE SPY WHO LOVED ME (10). My least favorite Bond, Roger Moore's, third outing features hottie Barbara Bach as a Russian agent with whom he must team up. Introduces Jaws and villain Karl Stromberg is deliciously evil (even though he keeps calling our hero "Mr. Bund").
10. DIE ANOTHER DAY (20). Pierce Brosnan's last outing is his best as he goes after the North Korean despot who once escaped him (and is responsible for his torture). And Halle Berry as the Bond Girl? HOO-YAH!!
11. DIAMONDS ARE FOREVER (7). Connery's "adiós" to the role (until the non-sanctioned "Never Say Never Again") where he's put on a few LBs and has to deal with a sexually androgynous duo of assassins. But hey, an incredibly sexy Jill St. John livens up things nicely.
12. TOMORROW NEVER DIES (18). The second Brosnan outing, Bond takes on a ... media mogul? Yep, but he's nicely portrayed by Jonathan Pryce ("Brazil," "Glengarry Glen Ross"). Bond Girls Teri Hatcher and Michelle Yeoh make the film verrrry easy on the eyes.
13. THE WORLD IS NOT ENOUGH (19). The third Brosnan outing features Sophie Marceau and Denise Richards as the Bond Babes. That's enough for this one!
14. QUANTUM OF SOLACE (22). Daniel Craig's second outing is a precipitous drop in quality from his premiere, but that's a bit expected when that debut is the best of all-time. Bond continues his search for the baddies behind the Quantum Corporation.
15. OCTOPUSSY (13). Roger Moore's second-to-last effort is better than you recall, for the most part. Louis Jourdan is neatly diabolical as the baddie and a still-hot Maud Adams is the main chick.
16. GOLDENEYE (17). Pierce Brosnan's debut is a rather boring affair, though Pierce himself definitely lives up to his long-desired role. Bonus points for the totally hot Famke Janssen as the sociopathic female baddie.
17. ON HER MAJESTY'S SECRET SERVICE (6). A brief break on the Connery era stars George Lazenby (an Aussie!) as Bond, Telly Savalas as Blofeld, and Diana Rigg (of "Avengers" fame) as Bond's eventual wife.
18. FOR YOUR EYES ONLY (12). Rather lame Roger Moore effort features Bond in a race against time to retrieve a submarine computer system. Trivia: Cassandra Harris, who has a small part in the film, was married to Pierce Brosnan. She had wished her husband would eventually get the role of Bond, but unfortunately she died of ovarian cancer four years before it actually happened.
19. THE MAN WITH THE GOLDEN GUN (9). Even Hervé Villechaize ("Tattoo") as Nick Nack cannot make this one interesting, but at least Roger Moore is young enough in this one to at least make one believe he could actually be MI6.
20. LIVE AND LET DIE (8). Moore's first outing as Bond and all it does is mimic the "blacksploitation" craze of the 1970s. At least a [very] young Jane Seymour makes it easy on the eyes.
21. THE LIVING DAYLIGHTS (15). Timothy Dalton's debut as 007 only induces a lot of yawning. At least he went out with a bang with "License to Kill" a couple years later.
22. A VIEW TO A KILL (14). Since it's hard to know who's older -- Roger Moore or costar Patrick Macnee ("Avengers") -- this means that Moore is way past his prime to play 007. Even Chris Walken and Grace Jones can't save this dreck.
Soccer Dad sends me an interesting link via e-mail:
The immortal founders of the Green Lantern Corps are an ancient race of aliens that, no joke, bare a striking resemblance to the State of Israel’s first Prime Minister, David Ben-Gurion. The similarity is no urban legend - when the alien race the “Guardians of the Universe” were first drawn in Volume 2 #1 (July, 1960), the illustrators didn’t want to create unusual looking aliens, but opted to make them more human, more approachable. For whatever reason, the blue-skinned aliens with large heads and white hair were all modeled off of Ben-Gurion. Over the last 50 years, Israel’s Prime Minister has been in the comic books, cartoons, and now - a feature film.
Check it out:
The first one can be seen here.
I like the "documentary" feel that it seems to have; however, especially based on the first trailer, the plot seems all too predictable: nasty "Alien"-like creatures infect the crew and, well, you can figure out what happens after that.
Ah yes, more cultural and political enlightenment from our musical community:
It's fun being in Islamic countries, to know there's only one religion. There's order. You wear a burqa. There's no choice. People are happy with that. -- Prince
I wonder if Prince'd be "happy with that" if he had to live in an Islamic country. He'd have been in jail for blasphemy 20 years ago.
UPDATE: In a related matter, Tom Hanks says he'll be voting again for President Obama:
If you would have told me a few years ago that ‘don't ask, don't tell’ would be repealed and about a billion jobs at General Motors and Chrysler would have been saved because the president was smart enough and strong enough and bold enough to do so, I would have said, 'Wow. That's a good president, I think I'll vote for him again.'
He's probably exaggerating (like that scene in "Used Cars" where bad guy Jack Warden wants to sue good guy Kurt Russell for saying his car lot has "a jillion" cars), but then again, given the state of today's "progressives" ...
One of the true greats of comicdom has passed, Gene Colan, probably best known for his stints on Daredevil and Tomb of Dracula. He also did a fairly long run on Tales of Suspense, the precursor title to Iron Man. In fact, Gene drew the cover of 1968's Iron Man #1.
Peter Parker has spun his last web.
In the storyline that has garnered the attention of fans and media worldwide, Peter Parker meets his tragic end in ULTIMATE COMICS SPIDER-MAN #160, hitting stores tomorrow -- Wednesday, June 22. Concluding the critically-acclaimed, sold-out “Death of Spider-Man” story arc, the death of Peter Parker signals a major change for the Ultimate Comics Universe and sets the stage for the upcoming debut of an all-new Spider-Man.
“10 years ago, Brian Bendis and Mark Millar changed the way people saw super heroes with the birth of the Ultimate Universe. With ‘Death of Spider-Man’ the two have done it again, creating a story just as big, and something that would really resonate with fans.” said Mark Paniccia, Marvel Senior Editor. “But Peter’s death doesn’t signal the end of their larger plan—it’s the start of one of the most ambitious stories you’ve ever read in comics.”
And you can bet that Peter's death doesn't signal the end of ... Peter Parker, either. Remember, here's why.
Color me bored.
In a nutshell, "don't bother."
"Falling Skies" is about a band of human survivors after an alien invasion. Now, considering we've had "Independence Day," "Battlestar Galactica," "V," "Skyline," and "Battle: Los Angeles" among others, you'd think we'd get something a bit different. We didn't.
Noah Wylie is a history professor that is one of the human resistance leaders. Will Patton is in a semi-familiar role as another resistance leader, sort of like his portrayal in "The Postman." The two-hour pilot opens up with several resistance fighters who've nabbed some food and are fleeing the aliens. There's no initial invasion scenes; that description is done via a child's drawings and monologue which, among other tidbits, states that the aliens had quickly dispatched of the world's nations' militaries, and then the planet's major cities. The aliens are insectoid, and they have a distinct interest in humanity's children, who, when captured, have a "harness" attached to them -- an larvae-like object which is fixed to the back and base of the skull. This apparently [mentally] controls them.
The pilot was a slowly plodding affair, filled with incredibly beautiful human resistance fighters who spew overly cliched lines and display remarkable courage for average people. What worried me most was the insertion of utterly ridiculous "Battlestar Galactica"-like insanity like the "rights of civilians" in what is a human extinction scenario! Fortunately, at least in this opener, Will Patton puts the kibosh on that by stating that the rights and needs of civilians will be dealt with once the aliens are defeated. And in further BSG analogies, in the upcoming scenes segment at the end of the show, we hear the aliens "are more human than we thought" (or something similar), which sounds conspicuously like what the humanoid Cylons kept talking about. Perhaps this similarity isn't a coincidence -- writer Mark Verheiden did a lot of BSG; he was listed as co-executive producer of "Skies."
At any rate, I do not hold out much hope for a long series. There's nothing new to se