Archive for the ‘comics’ Category

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Avengers – Ensemble!

February 1, 2013

Avengers ENsembleToo good to not post…Thanks to Ren for passing it on. Are those cats or something in the cello section? And…HULK PLAY BASS!

 

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Happy 45th birthday to the best split infinitive ever!

September 8, 2011

On September 8, 1966, Gene Roddenberry’s “Wagon Train To The Stars” premiered on NBC.  It had a difficult birth and sputtered out after a kind of embarrassing third season and should have disappeared into TV oblivion…but it didn’t. Star Trek became the great syndication TV success story of all time, spawning four spinoff series, an animated series, eleven feature films, several web-originated spinoff or extension series, games video games, and the Great Bird of the Galaxy only knows how many books and other print materials. Even  those who have never been science fiction fans at all in their lives have probably said a catchphrase from one of the shows, like “Beam me up, Scotty.” (Which Captain Kirk never said, actually.)

The debut episode was “The Man Trap,” after some problems with the network not liking the original pilot. There’s a great story in that. There are great stories in a lot of things having to do with Trek. One of the best, of course, is David Gerrold’s journey into writing the episode “The Trouble With Tribbles.” I think it, far more than his subsequent work as a science fiction writer, made him known to a wide audience and a success as a writer. Even though it’s out of print it’s apparently still available from a number of vendors. If you are interested in TOS (The Original Series) Star Trek at all, you should read it. It’s a great story of a young writer and his first big break.

See lady in image above. Yep. Same chick.

I could go on and on and on, and many people have. All I’m going to say is Happy Birthday to Star Trek, and may it boldly go on another 45 years!

Like the changes made by George Lucas in the upcoming Blu-Ray versions of the Star Wars movies, the original special effects have been enhanced in some current versions of the original series episodes. Netflix has those enhanced episodes available for streaming. Unlike Lucas’ work, however, the modifications have been subtle, and if you never saw the originals you would never know there was anything done to them. It was done  to clean up the messiness of early TV EFX, not some kind of revisionist history! And the CGI-enhanced Enterprise looks very much like the original effects crew would have wanted her to look, if they could, in my opinion.

Enhanced Original Enterprise

(The episodes are also available on DVD.)

It’s amazing how this little idea grew into such a huge shared universe. Gene Roddenberry wasn’t even that much of a science fiction fan, if I recall correctly. He did have definite ideas about the direction the series was to go, and he had some fights with the network – and particularly with the network censors. Things that seem tame today were groundbreaking in the late 1960s. Captain Kirk and Lt. Uhura shared the first interracial kiss on network television. The costume designer, William Ware Theiss, tried to get some pretty racy (for the time) outfits past the censors, and usually succeeded. There were many veiled and some not-so-veiled parallels to current events, particularly the Vietnam War and the fight against Soviet Communism.

I think few television programs from the same time period would hold up nearly as well as Original Trek today. And of course, Leonard Nimoy and William Shatner became huge stars because of the show – to the point that, to a degree, they found it difficult to get other work. Today, I think Nimoy is considered practically a national treasure. Shat, well…Bill Shatner is a legend. The guy got a freakin’ Emmy, fer Crissake!

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Hollywood, I find your lack of new ideas disturbing…

July 27, 2011

Hollywood has been adapting novels and short stories in various genres for ages, pretty much since the beginning of movies. Okay, I get that. The idea of seeing what you had imagined in your head on the big screen could be pretty powerful. It could also be a letdown, but that’s not my topic for today, kids.

Based on Pierre Boulle's novel, and he wrote the screenplay

When the geniuses in that enclave on the Left Coast decided we were too dumb for movies where you had to think, they went, naturally, to Saturday morning cartoons. Again, some big successes and some big misses. (Anybody remember the live-action Rocky and Bullwinkel?)

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles - a twofer - comic, then cartoon, then film. Still good.

But remember what happened to those Saturday morning cartoons: the advertisers took over. Instead of cartoons with commercials in between, they became cartoons that were the commercials, promoting Strawberry Shortcake dolls and, even, sad to say, G.I. Joe. Oh, and still with commercials in between.

Now in CGI!

Do not titter at this. My granddaughters love Strawberry Shortcake videos, just as their mother did when she was little. And S.S. has gone through three or four reincarnations since she was a little idea some folks at American Greetings dreamed up. Luckily, so far, she’s stayed in the animated realm.

Yeah, I know about video games, too. I saw the Super Mario Brothers movie, believe it or not, mainly because Bob Hoskins was in it. Same thing – hit or miss. Wing Commander was pretty good, back in 1999.

What Hollywood has been good at mining in these CGI days have been comic superheroes and other “graphic novel” characters. Even the poor ones have been fairly decent, in my view. Well, not Barb Wire. I don’t care what they say. It wasn’t Casablanca.

I'll give you one guess what was supposed to carry this movie...okay, two.

But now, having mined out all the ore that was easy to reach, even with more than a bit of strip-mining, the Gods of Hollywoodland have decided that’s too much plot. Might as well just go straight to board games.

Yep, board games. I know, I know, Clue got the Hollywood treatment way back in 1985, with a pretty heavyweight cast – Eileen Brennan, Tim Curry, Madeline Kahn, Christopher Lloyd, Michael McKean, Martin Mull, Lesley Ann Warren – but it was a game based on a mystery plot.

What’s he playing at? Why have I read this far? Because, dear reader, we now have sunk (sorry) to the level of a new film, budgeted at $ 200 million, opening in the spring of 2012:

Battleship.

Well, it is America's all-time favorite game...

The trailer’s been pulled off of YouTube. Use the link above to go to the official site and see it there. SPOILERS AHOY!!!!: The alien ship looks pretty cool!

Taylor Kitsch, Alexander Skarsgard, Brooklyn Decker, Rihanna (!?!), and The Man Who Will Do Any Movie That Isn’t Pron If They Pay Me, Liam Neeson.

Told you. You can't make this kind of stuff up.

Brooklyn Decker - See where this movie is going?

Taylor Kitsch - equal time for the rest of my readers! I guess he's supposed to be hot...

Alexander Skarsgard - best picture I could find. Sorry.

So what’s next? Monopoly? Candyland?

To quote Yakko Warner, “The mind boggles.”

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Steampunk Palin!

January 22, 2011

What can I say? Just go to Antarctic Press and get the book. Things From Another World is already sold out. I don’t care if you are liberal or conservative, you need to see the battle between Robama and Steampunk Palin.

Also available from these fine folks:

President Evil - He's no Ash!

I'm not even sure about this one...