Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label movies. Show all posts

Monday, August 29, 2016

Super Krime Double Bill: The Mask of Fu Manchu (1932) and The Castle of Fu Manchu (1969)



The Alamo is an interesting place because they do show exploitation films, they do show controversial material, and at those special screenings, they usually have a host put a frame around what you're about to see.  This movie was shown as part of the "Super Krime" series which also contained last week's Danger: Diabolik, but was the riskier showing, certainly.  For pop-cultural anthropologists, there's a lot to chew on here from the casting to the racial issues to the pre-code genre-ambiguity and content and - for modern pop-culture which so often includes super-villains in the mix, Fu Manchu lays out the blueprint for so much of what would come afterwards.

By today's standards, your grandparents were racist as hell.  Even if they were hip, bohemian folks - by the rules of what non-awful people consider decency and mannered public discourse, what you'd hear come out of Grandma and Grandpa's mouths was likely to get them the side-eye at Thanksgiving - but we're all a reflection of a time and a place.  Attitudes change.  Society, hopefully, advances.  Insert your own election-related joke here.

I am not a paid or professional film historian or scholar, but I have an interest in the history of pop culture and the film industry as well as genre film and whatnot.  A few years ago, I came across a picture of Myrna Loy playing the daughter of Boris Karloff in a film I'd never seen.  The catch: they're both in yellowface as the nefarious Fu Manchu and his daughter.

A bit more digging told me that this movie was once a favorite, included in some circles as a premier classic horror film of sorts.

But you can't get access to a Fu Manchu film all that easily (and there are many), and it's something that doesn't screen all that often - a bit like the President's Day sequence in Holiday Inn (which they simply excise when they show it as it doesn't advance the plot, but it does feature a whole lotta your beloved Hollywood favorites in black face*).  And, yeah, I saw the movie featured yellowface, and cast most of the Eastern hemisphere in a nasty light, so it made a bit of sense to me that the studio was in no big hurry to remind the world they had the film in the collection.

Wednesday, August 24, 2016

Yesterday was the 70th Anniversary of "The Big Sleep"


I missed this until just now, but The Big Sleep, one of the best noir films and probably one of the best adaptations of a Raymond Chandler book, turned 70 on August 23.  So, my Dad shares a pretty good week with Bacall and Bogart, this being his 70th B-Day and all.

Here's to a hell of a movie and to two terrific actors in one complicated film.


TL;DR: "Stranger Things", "Suicide Squad" and Storytelling in the 21st Century

I had to have a picture, so... here you go, Barb-Heads


It's funny.  Way, way back when I was a young Signal Watch back in film school, one of my instructors proposed the idea that, in the very near future, story would not matter.  This was, of course, preposterous, but something that has come back to haunt me over and over again in the years that have followed.

It wasn't entirely clear what my instructors meant by "story will not matter", and so it became easy to dismiss, even as people lined up for Michael Bay movies and we were all vaguely aware that one does not show up for, say, a Kung-Fu movie specifically to see how events will unfold so much as to see Jet Li perform aerial stunts and kick people in the sternum for 90 minutes.  The change was blamed a bit on video games which, in the mid-90's, had yet to really evolve much past Doom or side-scrollers.  And, frankly, were thought of quite differently from movies in the zeitgeist - although that quickly changed (I guess) with games like Wing Commander (which I never played but people seemed to love) and certainly with the early 00's-era Grand Theft Auto.

Muddying the waters, "it lacks a story" was often the vague criticism of the tastemakers from the 70's through the 90's.  Nothing took the wind out of your sails quite like watching something you'd enjoyed only to have either a tweedy-type or someone whose opinion you cared about come along and say "well, it didn't have much story now, did it?" and you'd be considering "well, it had characters, a beginning, middle and an end.  There was an arc or two in there."  And, man, "lack of story" was a favorite dig at superhero faire at one point by folks with jobs at newspapers, and that was where I learned to more or less understand.  Because it often meant "it didn't have a story that resonated with me, a person who doesn't think a story about a mad scientist needing to be stopped by the swift right hook of justice is equal to a story about people very politely going through a divorce while wearing tweed coats and having a humiliating and/ or unlikely sexual encounter or two."

And that's okay.  It just means you need to look at "it doesn't have much of a story" as a criticism as sort of a smoke screen unless we're getting specific.

I can name many things which lack story that seem to nonetheless delight people, often earning a rabid, nigh-manic fanbase who is immune to your accusations of lack of story (hello, Dragonball Z fans!).  And there are lots of folks who are really, really into, say, Mario, despite the fact that his storyline is "plumber who does very, very little plumbing".  And that all feels to me a bit like getting really into, say, Tony the Tiger because every commercial has a fifteen second story arc where a kid masters a sport thanks to Tony and sugar.

But I digress.

In a very short window I watched both DC's third entry in their superhero universe, Suicide Squad, and Netflix's summer darling, Stranger Things.  In varying ways, both made me wonder if my instructor back in film school had a point.

Monday, August 22, 2016

More About Bees and the 1970's

So, Nathaniel asked me why I forgot to mention the giant, hallucinatory bees in 1978's The Swarm.   And, he's right to ask, because it's probably the most stunning/ least magical visual special effect in the movie.


What's most interesting is that the bees inject a venom into their victim that make them not just hallucinate, but hallucinate a very large bee.

Now, as a kid I saw an ad for The Swarm on TV as the Late Late Movie on local UHF, and they kept showing the clips of the hallucinations.  Unfortunately, at age 11 or so, I was not qualified to stay up for the midnight to four AM shift, so I missed the broadcast and never saw the movie I assumed was all about giant bees.  At some point when SimonUK suggested we watch this movie, like, two years ago, I eagerly said "you mean the movie about the giant bees?"
"No, the one with Michael Caine."
"Right!  With giant bees!"
"Well... no."

Sunday, August 21, 2016

Caine Watch: The Swarm (1978)



No one is going to accuse The Swarm (1978) of being a great movie.  Or, really, even a good movie.   Or, you know, a movie.

It may be a bit odd the movie isn't that good as it it's directed by producer of disaster-porn Irwin Allen, but maybe he should have stuck to producing.  The movie follows the logic of many-a-disaster movie,  which people my age know mostly from Independence Day.  Multiple storylines.  Scientists trying to understand what's happening.  Lots of people die.  Lots of famous faces in roles big and small.

Our disaster here?  BEES.  Which, I really shouldn't make fun of, because this is the kind of shit that is, in fact, going to take humanity out.  But... BEES.  SWARMS OF KILLER BEES.

Our all-star cast is anchored by Michael Caine who plays The Scientist, or - more specifically - the bee scientist.  Other honest-to-god big names include Katherine Ross as The Doctor, Richard Widmark as The General, Richard Chamberlain as The Other Scientist, Cameron Mitchell as The Pentagon Official, Olivia de Havilland as The Aging Beauty, Fred McMurray as deHavilland's SUITOR #1 and Ben Johnson as SUITOR #2.  Jose Ferrer as the manager of a nuclear power plant.  Patty Duke as a waitress.  Slim Pickens as a sad city worker.  And a clearly very deaf Henry Fonda shouting lines as YET ANOTHER SCIENTIST WHO DOES NOT KNOW THE SCIENTIFIC METHOD OR BASIC MEDICAL PROTOCOLS.

Wednesday, August 17, 2016

Super Krime Watch: Danger - Diabolik (1968)



For years I've been aware there's a movie called Danger: Diabolik (1968), but I didn't know much about it.  You'd see references to it in comics and hear film buffs mention, but details were scant.  The movie is based on some Italian comics I've never actually seen in the wild, and of a genre that's never really managed to cross over the Atlantic and with which I've barely any awareness - a sort of super-criminal fantasy.

The Alamo Drafthouse Ritz is currently running a series their calling "Super Krime", which is a series about "super criminals", ranging from the silent era to the modern era, with some Bond tucked in there.  If you're going to do a series about "super criminals", there's hardly a better fit than Danger Diabolik.  The movie is entirely about a master thief and robber, a sort of dark-mirror Batman.  He's a brilliant, quiet mastermind with a subterranean hide-away where he plans his heists and makes time with his Robin, who - in this case is a sexy blonde who knows how to wear go-go boots.

Tuesday, August 16, 2016

Movie Trailer - "Hidden Figures"



As the space race passes into history (but the all-new Space Era is on!  Thanks, Elon Musk!), and computers have long since become ubiquitous, this movie couldn't be coming at a better time.  For me.  Maybe you.

With all the thousands of people who were part of the race into orbit and then to the moon, there are so many stories, and some of them reveal corners of history that our broad-stroke approach to history does not always capture, especially in movies.

But, hey, one thing I've really come to realize is how weird and goofy our ideas are about how things must have come to be.   We make assumptions, details get left out, and our movies are rarely researched well enough or lack the scope to include stories that took place away from the kleig lights.
About ten years ago I put the pieces together that, weirdly, the word "computers" meant "people who compute".  And, in a lot of cases, when doing the math - the actual work it took to prove theorems, calculate complex equations, etc... - was done by women.  And, of course, the men who put those challenges to them took the credit.  This was true for a long, long time.

But, yeah, when computing became less a manual task and something done with machines, women were hugely influential in computer science before computers became the domain of basement lurking dorks in the 1980's.  Read up on Grace Hopper.  Woman was a boss.

I'm actually reading NASA Flight Commander Gene Krantz's book Failure is Not an Option, and - not only is it a fascinating book and I highly recommend it - but he briefly mentions the women who were not in the Control Room, but in the back spaces doing the computing by hand and then with the systems NASA put in place.  I'm unsure if one of the names he drops is Katherine Johnson (I read that passage about three days before I saw the trailer above), but I'd heard of Johnson somewhere odd, like Tumblr.  And, man, it just seems like this sort of story should get more attention.  Like, say, a big Hollywood movie starring Taraji P. Henson and Octavia Spencer.

What's not to like?  NASA.  Name actors.  Science and math romanticized!  Space.  John Glenn!  People achieving against the odds!

Sure, this is Oscar Bait, but this is the kind of Oscar Bait I actually want to see.

Saturday, August 13, 2016

Kenny Baker Merges With The Infinite


The Guardian is reporting that actor Kenny Baker has merged with The Infinite.

From a very young age, I was aware that there was a guy sitting in R2-D2 and driving him around, and like most everyone else, I suddenly got why the trashcan had so much personality.  There was an actual person putting actual thought into what was going on with that bucket of bolts.

Baker appeared in a lot of genre film, and seemed to be game for re-appearing as R2 in both film and in TV specials.

By the time The Phantom Menace rolled around, the technology was there to let Baker drive R2 around via remote control, and that continuity between the movies and R2's was a highlight of the prequels for me.  I mean, who doesn't like R2-D2?

We'll miss you, Mr. Baker.  You gave all of us a robot buddy.

Thursday, August 11, 2016

New Trailer for "Star Wars: Rogue One" Is HERE (and looks @#$%ing awesome)



AGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAAGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

AAAAAAAAGGGGHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHHH!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Wednesday, August 10, 2016

Happy 114th Birthday to Norma Shearer


August 11th marks the 114th birthday of actress Norma Shearer, an actress of the Golden Age of Hollywood. I've seen a few of her movies, both silent and talkies, and she was a remarkably talented woman.

And she had one of the best profiles in movies.

Sunday, August 7, 2016

Suicide Watch: Suicide Squad (2016)




As the lights came up, I turned and looked at my movie companion and heard myself say "that was the worst movie I've seen since Battlefield Earth".  But, that was unfair.  It's the worst movie I've seen since 1998's Godzilla,  but the issues with the movie are maybe more akin to Battlefield Earth.

Now, I don't say that lightly, and I obviously don't include "bad movie" fodder like The Room, Birdemic and other grasp-longer-than-reach independent efforts.  Rather, there's a special place in movie-going hell reserved for huge blockbuster movies with gigantic budgets for production and marketing that have been corporate committee'd to death.

I didn't show up at Suicide Squad wanting to dislike it.  I'm a grown-assed adult, and if I don't want to see a movie, I won't.  Heck, I could have skipped the movie with a refund before it rolled (and I thought about it after seeing the reviews).  The movie was sold out and people would take the seats.  I could have had a nice beer on the porch at the theater.

I am, of course, not a DC "hater" and am more than happy to discuss DC comics, associated media and lore at length.  In short, don't make me embarrass you, kid, when you come at me to explain the movie.

For decades I've read DC comics, watched TV shows - good and bad - read non-fiction histories of the characters and industries.  And, in this era I just want for DC to make a movie that isn't a trainwreck, and - while I've not seen BvS - that doesn't seem to be happening.

There's probably a competent movie somewhere in the footage and scripts that led to the product that is Suicide Squad (2016).  Director David Ayer has a respectable filmography as both writer and director, and on IMDB, he's listed as the sole writer and director, but...  well, it's Warner Bros.  I mean, they say a lot about being a "director's studio", but if you believe that the suits had nothing to do with how this movie wound up, I have some beachfront land in Arizona to sell you.

I have no doubt the folks who've already branded themselves as DC movie fans (and as carriers of true fandom for these characters) will like the movie as it follows a certain line of thinking that has so far appealed to that audience and basic issues with story and structure didn't deter them with Man of Steel, and from what I've heard about BvS, even more so.   It is in no way short of wanting to be hip and edgy like an Ed Hardy shirt or vape booth at the mall.

It's a movie that does not know the rule of "show, don't tell" - it doesn't trust the audience to follow a story, delivering character and action in literal bullet points.  Mostly, though, the film is presented in such a way that the errors and issues were so large and as consistent as gunfire throughout the movie, that it's impossible to stay with the movie rather than just cataloging the issues as they pop up, one after another.

At almost every single thing this movie attempts, it misses in big and small ways, with the unsurprising exception of the Will Smith as Deadshot storyline (Big Willie carries too much clout in Hollywood to not come out of this still intact, and the charm I'd nearly forgotten the man has on screen fills in a lot of gaps that the movie leaves there for virtually every other character).  Whether it's the much derided musical accompaniment, the nonsensical story bits left in place after the editors were done, the odd choice of villain and scope of the mission, or why everything in the movie felt like it needed to be doodled upon from the frame of the film to Margot Robbie's face to Will Smith's collar.

This movie is a @#$%ing mess.  And, no, it's not even really a "fun" or "enjoyable" mess at that.  Maybe "a distracting two hours where you'll ask yourself a lot of questions about why they made a lot of decisions the way they did."  That kind of mess.

Thursday, August 4, 2016

Nick & Nora Watch: Another Thin Man (1939)



After two great movies in a row, the third installment of the Thin Man series, Another Thin Man (1939) feels like a project that just didn't gel as well as it could have.

I recently completed reading The Return of the Thin Man, which is less a book and more the lost story-treatments and scripts that Dashiell Hammett worked on during his tenure in Hollywood and some editorial/ historical notes about what was going on with Hammett in relation to the work.  Frankly, you're probably better off just watching the two movies it covers - After the Thin Man and Another Thin Man, but completionists will find the book worth checking out.

The gist of the notes about this third movie indicate that not only was Hammett sort of done with Nick and Nora before he even started work on the movie, the credited screenwriters, Frances Goodrich and Albert Hackett - who had worked with Hammett on the two prior films - were also ready to call it a day.

All in all, the film does work.  Let's not call it a troubled film.  But the alchemy that caught everyone's attention in the original that semi-carried over to the sequel, is fizzling a smidge by this installment.

Tuesday, August 2, 2016

70's Watch: Shaft (1971)



In the 1990's, for reasons that involve a lot of co-option of black culture by suburban white kids, and waffling between irony, genuine appreciation and I think a sincere love for the score - young white America somehow became invested in the 1971 film that was considered one of the best films to come out of the blaxploitation movement, Shaft.

Context free, a lot of us cracker kids watched I'm Gonna Git You, Sucka on VHS or HBO, maybe understanding that this was riffing on movies of a prior era, but I hadn't seen them, nor had my peers.  I think the closest I got to taking in any blaxploitation film until the early 90's was tuning into Super Fly one night as a kid in middle school, believing from the title that it was a superhero movie I'd somehow missed.  If anything, I got a clue as to what the spoof movie had been on about via reruns of TV shows that lifted from blaxploitation, but I confess to being mostly ignorant of the genre until maybe 1992 or when I got to college.

Kids hipper to a wider variety of music than what I listened to picked up pop-culture references as 80's and 90's hip-hop name-dropped and sampled from 70's actioners and that bled over to other genres of dance music.  The curious kids picked up some of those movies to rent and saw a lot of stuff I didn't catch until others got me to take a look or I heard about it word of mouth (the internet was just Star Trek fan pages and lo-fi porn then, you see).  Other kids who had gotten into soul and funk music tracked down Isaac Hayes and wanted to actually see Shaft.  I do know that by the time I left high school, I was at least aware of who Hayes was, but that was about it.  Had maybe heard of Shaft, but this was also an era in which your local Blockbuster likely didn't carry movies that were older than 7 or 8 years from the theater.

As a good, sorta-hip white kid of the 1990's, I caught Shaft at some point during film school.  I don't remember if it was before or after a unit on blaxploitation as a genre and my first exposure to Pam Grier (something a young man never forgets).

The funny thing is - watching it this last weekend, I didn't really remember Shaft all that well.  Once the one guy gets tossed out the window, I couldn't really piece together what the plot had been, just snippets here and there.  So, I was pleasantly surprised to find out - Shaft is actually a strong private detective story in a classic pulp-crime style (deeply appealing to this viewer), with a fascinating protagonist who is literally not playing by anyone else's rules - if'n you should ever want to see what that actually looks like, you with your anti-heroes.

And, of course, Shaft is a Black superhero who cuts through white culture through the sheer power of not giving a good goddamn.

Monday, August 1, 2016

Shark Watch: Sharknado 4 - The Fourth Awakens



It's never quite been the same since the first Sharknado movie appeared on TV like a bolt out of the blue.  Yes, it was absurd, it starred sharks, it featured actors whose careers had seemingly jumped the... shark.  In those weird years where the SyFy network decided it was all about post-Corman D-level movies with C to Z-list actors, and movie after movie about man vs. monster was released into the wilds of basic cable - those movies - which never took themselves seriously - also usually came with a reduced sense of humor and never quite, exactly, seeing how absurd they could get.

And then came Sharknado.

Sunday, July 31, 2016

Bourne Watch: Jason Bourne (2016)


This is my fourth Bourne movie, and with about 9 years between The Bourne Ultimatum and Jason Bourne (2016), a lot has changed in the world and in movies.  You'd be hard pressed not to find an action movie not taking something from Paul Greengrass's energetic direction and tracking camera shots.  It's something I'm maybe too aware of when I watch something like Captain America: Civil War, when they go in for some "authenticity", or at least a particular feel to the action in the Lagos scenes - that "we're on an espionage mission, so the camera needs to be shakey" look to the proceedings comes right out of these movies.

But as a character in film, Bourne was always a bit flat, a bit two dimensional.  He was the hero who was complex not by what he did, necessarily, but by virtue of the background given him.  Then he proceeded to act like a fairly standard-issue guy-in-a-white-hat action hero.  Matt Damon did a lot to make the character likable, and when you're one guy against the CIA, there's a lot to root for.

The first three films contained the plot of what might have been in a single film if the Bourne movies weren't mostly about the extended action sequences.  Really, The Bourne Ultimatum is impossible to understand unless you've seen the first two, and it's really the third act of a story about Jason Bourne recovering himself from a bunch of shady dudes who got him to volunteer for a CIA program that made him a superhuman, but messed badly with his personality and splintered his mind.

I don't think the third movie, no matter how many Joan Allens in turtlenecks it may contain, is actually a great movie.  It's a necessary concluding chapter with more impressive stunts than prior films.  And speaking of Joan Allen, my feeling was that Pam Landy's part was more pivotal in making you care that any of this was happening at all than anyone realized.  Without a Pam Landy, you've got a bunch of people just operating in a moral neutral zone where it's all about government folks playing CYA and a guy who's a bit of a cypher trying to not die.  That's not really a story, per se.

I was unsure what to expect with a fourth installment, especially one arriving late.  I had no idea what story they might concoct to see Jason Bourne back in action after escaping.  But, like Batman comics of late, it seems there's no part of Bourne's origin that we don't need to explore more, and so it's back to the origins of Treadstone,

Comedy Watch: Super Troopers




It's been years since I watched Super Troopers (2001).

Thanks to my incessant theater-going between 1994-2002, I caught this one during it's theatrical release and was able to say "I saw this before it became a hit via home video and cable".  Thus, my hipster credential or whatever.

Going back is never easy.  The comedies I enjoyed from my teens through my early twenties reflect much more of the sense of humor of a young man who can happily sit through, say, one of Adam Sandler's earlier works.  Which I did.  Heck, in my teens, I saw a Pauly Shore movie in the theater.   This is sacrilege for a 90's Austinite, but I find Dazed and Confused nigh unwatchable these days.

Super Troopers 2001 was the brainchild of and investment in comedy troupe Broken Lizard, and was marketed as such, which was weird, because I don't think anyone had ever heard of Broken Lizard in most major markets.  They hadn't had a show on MTV or Comedy Central or anything that I recall.

The movie uses the set-up of making the Broken Lizard guys highway patrol officers in upstate Vermont, not known for having a whole bevy of issues, and so the cops spend their days entertaining  themselves with comedy sketches along the roadway and trading insults with city cops from the local small town.  Really, especially in the first 45 minutes of the movie, that's where the movie works best and is genuinely funny (to me, anyway).  And that's the part everyone remembers.

Saturday, July 30, 2016

50th Anniversary of the premiere of Adam West's "Batman" here in sunny Austin, TX


Fifty years ago today, Batman premiered at Austin's own Paramount Theatre!  Above, you can see Adam West in person addressing the crowd and Congress Avenue completely blocked (something I don't even think happens during SXSW).

The Paramount was showing the movie today, but I had something I had to do during the day and couldn't make it (and I've seen it about 7 times, at least).

Here's a write-up from when I went to see the movie at the Paramount in June of 2010.

Here's a video you can watch at the Texas Archive of the Moving Image of Jean Boone interviewing actors from the movie inside The Paramount.

The Batboat - which appears in this movie, was also manufactured right here in Austin by Glastron Industries.

I didn't learn of Batman's Austin history until about 2009, and I am certain, had I known about all the bat-ties to Austin as a kid, it would have melted by brain and I would have seen way, waaaaayyy too much symbolism in Austin's gigantic bat population.

What's perhaps strangest is that Monday, two days from now, is the 50th anniversary of the UT Tower shootings.  The UT Tower sits at about 23rd Street, about 15 streets away as the crow flies (the Capitol and several other obstructions mean you can't drive straight through).

Kind of freaky.


Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Friday Night: Let's Watch and Live Tweet "The Rocketeer"



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

Trek Watch: Star Trek Beyond (2016)



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.

Sunday, July 24, 2016

Comic-Con Trailer Discussion! DC, Marvel, Kong!



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.


DC


Wonder Woman



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.