Saturday, April 7, 2012

Avengers Assemble! The Incredible Hulk (2008)

We talked The Incredible Hulk during its initial release in 2008, and we sort of glossed over the movie at the time.

I like the two Hulk movies pretty well, I suppose.  I own them both for home viewing and I'll watch them both when they're on cable, too.  There's something about the "monster lurking inside" that's all emotion, be it rage or whatever that is The Hulk is thinking when he sees Betty Ross.  No wonder Ang Lee was so smitten with the idea.

Anyway, this was Take-2 for the Hulk character in the post Spider-Man era.  Folks had sort of complained about Lee's take on the character and it hadn't made the money Marvel had seen from Spidey or Spidey 2.

The Incredible Hulk (2008) isn't a terribly complicated movie, perhaps in direct response to the supposedly heady The Hulk (2003).  Its a fairly fun movie, and the complication between Thunderbolt Ross, Betsy Ross and poor 'ol Bruce Banner manages to carry some weight.

Despite the somewhat baffling/ brilliant casting of Tim Roth as villain Emil Blonsky, the storyline and eventual climax of the movie in a slugfest between Hulk and the Abomination just never feels much more than perfunctory.

Where Eric Bana had played Bruce Banner as a PTSD victim, I think I prefer Ed Norton's driven, desperate take.  And if you're going to replace Jennifer Connelly, I cannot complain about Liv Tyler tagging in, even if she mostly goes for dewy-eyed helplessness.

With The Avengers coming up, I'm curious to see how their Bruce Banner will fit into the mix, but I think it'll be fun, even with yet another actor coming in as Banner.

Thursday, April 5, 2012

So, as an exercise, in 2001 Garcia and I thought up a blockbuster we could sell

So, like, way back in 2001, I was working in a video studio on UT's campus.  Why and what we were doing isn't relevant (distance learning), but we hired bright-eyed RTF students to help us out.  In fact, that's how I started there, actually.

Anyhoo, a student worker and I were kicking back one day and were wondering how one cooks up a plot to a movie like, oh, say... Armageddon, thinking of it as blockbuster movie bingo rather than a compelling narrative. In that, Garcia and I cooked up SP666.

SP666 was a movie in which a wrongly convicted Bruce Willis was serving time in the near/ distant future on a penal colony built upon an asteroid.  Of course the asteroid would house only the worst scum of the solar system, watched over by a tough-minded bureaucrat Andre Braugher and his worn-thin security crew headed by the cruel and disposable Eric Roberts.

Willis would arrive at the colony and befriend Robert Duval, the old, wise crook who regretted his crime and the life he'd led here at SP666 (Space Prison 666 - cause, you know, its like being sent to hell).  He'd show Bruce Willis the ropes, keep him alive and steer him clear of the very bad but intelligent bad-guy, probably Jimmy Smits.

In the second act the prisoners would riot/ mutiny and Bruce Willis would be forced to hatch a plan to try to survive.  Further, the stabilizer jets would now be on (turned on by a weaselly but technically savvy character actor like Steve Buscemi who had glommed onto Jimmy Smits to survive here in SP666).  Smits would declare his intention to return the prisoners to earth or ram the planet with the prison, killing millions.   Andre Braugher would be beat up some, and Bruce Willis would protect his sexy daughter (it was agreed it didn't matter who we cast here as she'd be forgotten by Hollywood in a year).  And, of course, Smits would do something awful and gross to Eric Roberts that you can only do killing someone in space.

Of course, Bruce Willis has to stop Jimmy Smits.  So, you know... lots of protecting the sexy daughter, lots of fighting space criminals.  Some danger tied to vacuum and space conditions.  And, of course, Bruce Willis's old pal played by Ed Harris is watching all this from Space Comm, back on Earth.

In the third act twist, we learn that Robert Duvall is actually the mastermind behind Smits, and he has no intention of slowing SP666, because he's secretly CRAZY.  Earth is going to pay for making him spend 40 years on a godforsaken rock (its also too sick to live).  Smits, who doesn't want to die, tries to stop Duvall who kills Smits while monologuing in front of a concealed Willis.

Bruce Willis tries to stop the engines, and confronts a well-armed Duvall in the engine room.  Willis wins, but they must evacuate the prison which the President (a semi-respected 50's-ish actor, probably a minority, will play) is going to destroy with nukes.  Ed Harris tries to give Bruce Willis more time, he succeeds when Willis slows the asteroid/ prison.  Our heroes escape in the shuttle flown by the sexy daughter and...  EXPLOSION.

Over the credits, we hear a washed up, but generally still popular band playing a ballad.

I don't know if Lockout is better or worse than SP666.  I do think our casting was better.

Its kind of weird to see this movie actually happen, but it tells me a bit about the writing process for feature films.  And that I should be a millionaire at this point.

I still think the 90's killed the action movie as we know it, partially because the audience seemed to come to awareness of the interchangeability of the moving parts that went into making a big, blockbuster action film.  That's not necessarily a bad thing, but it has meant that the audience became somehow even harder to please, and you're now left selling action movies to an audience that doesn't care that their movies are that predictable or who are sort of amazed every time they magician knows which card was theirs.

I dunno.  I just laughed out loud when I saw the trailer for Lockout.  

The hi-res version of the new Man of Steel movie logo

Zack Snyder's vision of Krypton seems to be rooted somewhat in a sci-fi medieval look.  As long as he sells it, I'm fine with that.  The "S-Shield" is supposed to be the logo or emblem of Superman's family (the House of El), and this seems to fit Snyder's concept of Krypton I've read about online.

At this point, I don't really have a preference.  I was never 100% sold on the Brandon Routh-worn symbol with all the textures on the symbol, and while I grew up with Christopher Reeve's suit, technology in costuming is pretty far ahead today of where we were then.  Superman is a science-fiction character, and the suit can reflect trends in sci-fi, costuming, etc.. so long as it contains the basic design elements.  And while I am a huge fan of George Reeve's costume, you can't really go back, you know?

But this is just the logo for the movie, not the suit, exactly.  Its an interesting mix of the emblem as drawn years ago, I'd argue in the Wayne Boring model, and a sort of modern tattoo-artistry look.  And who knows?  maybe that's what this needs? I'm not against this at all, its just interesting to look at.

You can see a higher-res version of the image if you click on the picture.

Wednesday, April 4, 2012

Signal Watch Re-Watches: John Carter (2012)

I will be brief.

But, I am documenting every time I watch a movie this year.  And it would seem unfair to not tell you.  Yeah, before it left the theater (I assume first run theaters will be dropping the movie from their screens this week), I wanted to see it again.

And, you know, I liked it just as much a second time, if not more after reading the first three Barsoom books.  Lots of little bits that are throw-aways from the book, or book-accurate bits like the hand-on-shoulder greeting among allies, radium shells from the Thark rifles, what a royal @#$%* Sarkoja can be...

Anyway, it would have been nice to see where they wanted to go with the sequels, especially as they took such an incredible number of liberties with the source material.  At least I would have been kept guessing.  At its core, the movie remains true to each character they represent, even if there's no appearance of Phaidor while we see Matai Shang, etc...  and so its not that hard for me to reconcile the differences.

I'll shut up about John Carter for a bit.

Signal Watch Reads: Warlord of Mars

Well, I have now completed the first three Barsoom novels, just finishing Warlord of Mars.

I will say, of the three, Warlord is, perhaps, the silliest of three fairly ridiculous novels.  Now, when I say the books are ridiculous, these novels are hyperbolic, escapist adventure fantasy.  Its the predecessor to Flash Gordon and Conan by several years, each, and helped launch both genres.  While interesting themes and ideas present themselves in the three books, you'd be hard pressed to say that Edgar Rice Burroughs was pushing an agenda beneath the layers of the Barsoom novels, or that he was seeking to impart a subversive message or pat himself on the back for writing a very important book.  But that doesn't mean they aren't pretty wild fun, and don't work surprisingly well in the context of the modern action enthusiast.

But it can get silly.  Warlord features at least two instance where our hero goes undercover in iffy disguises, knocks himself out more than once, and routinely has to explain that maybe he isn't much of a thinker as he apologizes to the reader for not having a particularly good reason why he has once again pitched himself into a fight that maybe didn't need to happen (while suggesting he thinks to think too hard about these things is sort of for jerks, anyway).  In some ways, John Carter is the Jack Burton of his time and place.  He's a reasonable man caught up in unreasonable circumstances.

Hail to the king, baby

Tuesday, April 3, 2012

No post today, either

I dunno.  My back hurts because I did crunches wrong.  I had a pretty nice dinner out with pals this evening, and think I'll be having another nice dinner out with pals on Thursday.

I'm almost done with Warlord of Mars, and think I'll finish that instead of blogging.

You're on your own.

here's Bacall reminding you that she's Bacall

Monday, April 2, 2012

Jump for Joy (no post tonight)

all right

You guys take some time off.  Go out and get some sun.  And, of course, jump for joy.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

Documenting A Descent Into Madness with Paul

The weekend seemed to just shoot by in a way that the past several weeks really have not done.

If you're following us on social media, you may have seen a cryptic allusion to PaulT (aka: PlacesLost) and I joining forces with our respective extra-curricular interests and making a day of it.  Spoiler alert:  Paul was looking to do something fun for himself in the world of video, and so he interviewed me about my Superman hobby for a while, and then he shot my my collection of stuff.  Also: we ate pizza.

I think its still a bit up in the air what Paul will do with the footage, but we had fun, and I think I talked either as an interviewee or just running my mouth from 10 in the morning until about five PM or whenever Paul departed.  

This promises to upstage Nixon/ Frost, I am sure.  Yes, that is me in my office.  We're a bit out of focus here, so consider it a teaser and get off Paul's case.

TV Round-Up: Shows I'm Really Missing

Of late, Jamie and I are running out of shows to watch.  Frankly, we've lost our enthusiasm for some of the shows we'd been watching as time seems to have taken its toll on whatever early creative explosions were occurring, giving way to predictable, redundant comedy or plotting turning the show into a 30-60 minute exercise in remembering better days.

Yes, I'm looking at you 30 Rock.  I've turned you off halfway through the episode the past two weeks.

But it reminds me that at least 30 Rock got a chance, again and again from NBC.  Other shows have either been cut down in their prime, or ended due to what I have to assume were business reasons before the show has finished really exploring the possibilities of the characters.

editor's note:  for clarification, from here to the end, its probably worth checking the calendar.

We mostly talk genre around here, so surely I am not alone in my despair amongst my friends here as I wonder aloud why Lexx ever went off the air.   A clear vision of man's future, at least as inspiring as Andromeda, or the oft mentioned Earth: Final Conflict.  All had something compelling to say about us as people, something that needed to go on for much longer than the limited schedules fate bestowed them.

But if I can indulge in Example Prime:  According to Jim.  

I am aware that many shows are lucky to see a single season, but with the complex plotting, nuanced characterization and fascinating growth of the characters in multiple modes from a sort of Sirkian exploration of family and class to a sort of pathos worthy of Von Trier, this slice of Americana received only 8 seasons in which to explore the lives of Jim, Cheryl, they're family and friends.  What more could we have learned by seeing Jim's eventual transition to retirement?  How would he and Cheryl have coped in Season 25 with the overdose death of Dana?  

There are so many lingering questions that only time and the room to let the characters really breathe in their space could have really bring the show to maturity and let longstanding trends with the characters bear fruit.

It seems impossible that 2009 saw the final (official) episode of the program, and I admit I'm a bit behind in my fan-fiction both prose and the skits and full episodes on my website http://geocities.accordingtoryan/\\3456#, but I think its worth keeping the vision of the show alive.  If Arrested Development can see a revival after its shaky ratings and confusing messaging, I'm fairly certain that the millions who watched According to Jim during its official run will be able to see this program see the light of day once more.