Thursday, July 28, 2016
I pulled this image from Birth.Movies.Death.
As far as how this could have gone - I can't complain, really. I have no idea what DC's deal is with the classic costume or how they think continually messing around with elements of the visual iconography of one of their most famous properties is somehow a good idea. But, no one is asking me. Red boots and cape. Yellow in the "S". No mandarin collar.
Sigh. Look, I'm a red trunks guy, and the fact that DC can't seem to make the suit work correctly either here or in Man of Steel (piping and stippling is all just a bit much, especially with a useless belly-button belt-buckle) without an awkward red belt-to-nowhere is just maybe a sign we throw in the towel and go back to the red trunks look.
But, man, that dude ALSO looks like Superman, doesn't he? You'll never hear me complain about Cavill, but so many folks have drawn Superman in so many ways over the years, and between Reeves, Reeve, Alyn, Cain and Cavill... Well, I don't necessarily have a particular face I identify with Superman. Just a certain presence, and I think this dude has it, just as Melissa Benoist doesn't look like Silver Age or Bronze Age Kara, but she sure has that same vibe.
I have never seen actor Tyler Hoechlin in anything, but so as long as he doesn't have a voice like Peter Lorre, I want to give him a shot. So far so good with Supergirl defying expectations and beating the odds for what it seemed they'd do - and the energy the actors have brought to the show.
Look, I planned to hate-watch Supergirl, but I became a fan. I am always excited to see what they'll try to do next with a character I have a little affection for. Now we've got Superman, Martian Manhunter and Lynda Carter as POTUS. I mean, OBVIOUSLY I'll be watching.
And if, you know, they want to one day do a Superman show or TV movie or ten, I won't complain.
Wednesday, July 27, 2016
There's an argument to be made that Stranger Things, 2016 (8 episodes, Season 1 on Netflix) is a rip off and riff on popular and cult media of the 1980's and that we should be suspicious of it's desire to emulate the stylings, feel and sensibilities of the era. The show trades in nostalgia for Gen-X'ers (and likely Millennials, whom, it seems, grew up on the media of Gen-X), from font type to musical selection to references to kid culture of the time to conspicuously placed posters of influential films of the era.*
That it does these things is unquestionable - this is not convergent evolution. But with 1983 (the year the story takes place) now 30-odd years in the rear-view mirror, it's also a period piece (I'll just let that sink in, 40-somethings.) just as much as Grease was in the late 70's, or 90% of the output of Martin Scorsese. That the Duffer Brothers, show runners who wrote and directed a huge portion of the 8 episodes, chose this period to mine is not a huge surprise. We're still working our way through Star Wars sequels and Ghostbusters relaunches. We can casually drop an E.T. or Poltergeist reference and expect to be understood. In perhaps more self-selective circles, we can do same with The Thing or Evil Dead.
Anyway, something happened in the 1980's that was not entirely of the era, but it showed up like an open wound in our media of the era in a way that movies have forgotten how to do.
Tuesday, July 26, 2016
I don't remember exactly where we came down on the vote, but on Friday night I'm going to watch the 1990's Disney live-action classic The Rocketeer.
Time: 9:15 Central huddle time with a 9:20 start
Runtime: about 2 hours (we'll take a potty break)
Where to watch: Amazon Options including streaming
Twitter Hashtag: #bettyteers
I'm at: @melbotis
Cocktail of Choice:
Cliff's Undrinkable Rocketfuel
- 1 part vodka
- 1 parts gin
- 1/2 part dry vermouth
- twist of lemon
1. Add liquid to shaker with ice
2. Shake for five seconds
3. Pour into class (without the ice, you heathen)
4. Add lemon twist
5. Stop complaining, it's good for you
No big secret to anyone with whom I talk Star Trek, but I hated Star Trek: Into Darkness. That's not a term I use lightly. Generally, I "didn't like" a movie, it "wasn't aimed at me", "wasn't my cup of tea" or I might have believed "it sucked". But, nope, I hated Into Darkness.
The movie, which could and should have been about the launch of the Enterprise and establishing the universe around the characters set up in the first movie (which, in many ways, was a glorified version of Space Camp), didn't just feel like a betrayal to the spirit and (pardon the pun) enterprise of the Star Trek universe I've enjoyed as both an avid enthusiast and sometimes occasional fan, depending on which incarnation of Trek we're discussing. Into Darkness felt like it was picking the bones of a better, much-loved franchise to tell a lousy story and try to steal some of the gravitas along the way rather than creating anything of its own or lending anything new and not doing anything compelling with what bit of novelty it did contain.
With this third installment, Paramount does a yeoman's job of righting the ship and getting it back on course. I won't try to oversell the movie - it's far from a perfect film (but name the Citizen Kane of Star Trek movies, I dare you), but for the first time in three movies, it feels like Trek. And, man, that is actually terribly important. Not only does this installment understand the universe of Trek better than its forebears, it does that thing of spiffying it up and adds some new bits along the way.
I hadn't actually planned to see the movie. The first trailer I saw alongside The Force Awakens was so cringe-inducing and tone deaf (and, as it turns out, a bad representation of the actual film), that I just laughed it off and decided I'd get back to Star Trek at some other point with some other relaunch after the public wrote off this series for good.
The Star Trek reboot, in my opinion, was a failure.
Monday, July 25, 2016
Yesterday Ms. Lynda Carter turned 65. Happy Birthday to our ideal Wonder Woman.
Some folks may not know that Carter is a vocalist with several albums out there in the ether. Carter is currently performing with a band where she sings both original songs and some covers. She also appears as voice talent in several videogames, including Fallout 4, where she contributed a song or two as a lounge singer.
Earlier this year she was given a Lifetime Achievement Award by the Gracies.
This fall, Carter is scheduled to appear as POTUS on CW's Supergirl TV series.
If you aren't following her on social media, we highly recommend doing so. Her account is a lot of fun.
Sunday, July 24, 2016
Randy suggested I take a look at the trailers that came out during Comic-Con, and while I haven't looked at every one of them, and some of them I have no opinion on in general (like the new Harry Potter), I guess I can do this fairly quickly and painlessly.
I've already been asked how accurate this is to the original comics, but as one always has to say with DC comics and characters, in particular, the specifics aren't that important. Especially trying to bring the character to the big screen in 2017 versus what the characters were like in their 1941 original first appearance.
The question needs to be: how did they handle the origin in general (do the producers understand the character well enough to understand the importance and resonance of the most important details of the character), and what did they do to demonstrate that the character is not a new character masquerading as the titular character?
I am not expecting the poly-sexual, bdsm subliminal antics of the original comics to ever make the big screen (we can make arguments about Season 1 of the Lynda Carter show some other time). This is the Wonder Woman of the Greg Rucka era, who still carries the lasso, but is like to pick up a sword and shield. To avoid comparisons to her contemporary creation, Captain America, the origin story has been transported to WWI instead of WWII, a change which I feel doesn't exactly make sense for a downed aviator to find Themyscira by accident (the range on those flyers was not putting them out over the mid-Atlantic, and aircraft carriers barely existed at the time).
But, ignoring the logistics of aviation history, I have to say I'm as excited by this trailer as I likely am to be about anything spinning out of DC/WB's theatrical efforts. Gadot isn't my first choice, but she seems fine in the part. The action looks like it's not softened in the slightest and the Amazons are living up to their potential from the comics if this trailer is to be believed.
Like Captain America, the action is likely to move to the modern era for any sequels, which kind of begs the question "why set it in WWI when it's going to draw so many comparisons to Captain America?" It's not like we've lacked for military conflict in the past 20 years.
Saturday, July 23, 2016
Tickets are already purchased for Jason Bourne for next Sunday, and so it was time to wrap up the original trilogy here at home. Eventually I'll make time for the Jeremy Renner Bourne movie, but... anyway.
The Bourne Ultimatum (2007) wraps up the storyline started in the first movie, answering the questions of "who is Jason Bourne?" and gives Pam Landy a conclusion to her arc as the non-compromised CIA agent trying to do right within the agency.
It has some incredible car chases and whatnot, and I highly recommend it if you've seen the first two and want more of same, but it's not like it's an incredible story on its own. It does feature Albert Finney and David Strathairn with about 30 seconds of Scott Glenn.
Some forms of comedy just don't work for me, and it's safe to say that I'm not a huge fan of Red Skelton. I know the guy was huge in his day, but whatever he's up to always feels a bit like he's opted for the obvious, crowd-pleasing, least offensive choice. If we were active today he'd be on a sitcom with an improbably good looking wife who would always be putting her hands on her hips and saying, "Oh, Red!"
I watched the movie for two reasons. (1) It took place in Texas in the 1950's, and I wanted to see what Hollywood thought Texas was like in 1951. (2) Ann Miller is in a smaller role in the movie as a girl with showbiz dreams and also ready to marry the first idiot who comes along.
The marquee names are Red Skelton and Esther Williams, the bathing beauty famous for her aquatic acrobatics and perfect make-up at 10 feet below sea-level. Which is an odd fit for the deserty Texas where the action occurs.
Look, I basically wanted to see what numbers they'd give Ann Miller, which was one song and dance number you can already find on YouTube. The rest of the movie, including an effects sequence with Esther Williams superimposed "swimming" around a bar as Howard Keel thinks about how much he's in love with her, is barely memorable.
There's an element or two that requires the movie take place in Texas, but 90% of the movie takes place anywhere but the titular carnival.
So. You got that going for you.
What was kind of funny was that i gave up on the movie, thinking it had about ten minutes of denouement left to work through and I'd catch it later. So I turned it back on this evening and it had literally 30 seconds left to go. I guess that tells you how much I felt invested in the movie.
Friday, July 22, 2016
I wasn't feeling well on Wednesday night. Allergies, I think.
Anyway, by the time Jamie turned around to see what I was watching, I was 15 minutes into Ghostbusters (1984), which I'd been curious to re-watch since catching the 2016 remake.
There's not much to say other than that I was paying a lot of attention to Harold Ramis in particular this go-round, partially because of how different his take on the mad scientist character was than Kate McKinnon's Holtzmann.
It's interesting to consider that Ramis is credited as a co-writer, and that he also has a writer credit on Animal House, Meatballs, Caddyshack and Stripes, all of which feature a sort of devil-may-care, wise-cracking protagonist(s) always played by other people, such as Bill Murray or Chevy Chase. When he did appear, Ramis himself took a back seat as the quiet, brainier/ more sensitive guy with a lower-key sense of interaction, clearly aware of where his sweet spot really was as a performer. Fans of the movie aren't surprised to hear Egon Spengler's side remarks, or his "Your mother!" as one of the laugh out loud moments of the movie, but, man, Egon is a really, really funny character.
It was funny, I was watching that scene after the Ghostbusters catch Slimer where Bill Murray seems to be pulling the prices out of thin air, and I had the thought "where did they come up with those prices?" when Jamie said "hold it". So I paused the DVR and backed it up, and though I have seen Ghostbusters no fewer than 25 times, I had never noticed - when Murray is rattling off the prices for proton pack charging, etc... Spengler is actually indicating the prices to him with his fingers. It's fully in shot, but I'd never seen it before. You probably have, but I had not.
It's not like people don't appreciate Ramis as performer, writer and director, but it may be that a lot of what I've attributed to Bill Murray in some of those earlier pictures was a collaborative effort in a way maybe I didn't give enough credit where it was due. We all know the early drafts of the Ghostbusters scripts were envisioned very differently as Dan Aykroyd/ John Belushi weirdo movies, and it may be that Ramis' touch for the absurd in the mundane mixed with Aykroyd's wild ideas and with all the performances put together is where we wound up with the Ghostbusters we think of when we're not thinking of Kristen Wiig and friends.
Here's to Ramis. That guy was all right.