31 Dec 2012

Doctor Who Continues After This (This Being Winter)

It just occurred to me that Clara, or Oswin, or whatever her name is, had a presence in the past, present and future. And that's all I've got. Not much of anything, if I'm being honest, but who cares? No one, not when we've got a new trailer for the second half of series seven to watch. Oh, isn't it all very pretty, what with the Gaimaniness, and reptilian lesbians and TARDIS insidy bits and Davos on a submarine.

Now, so far, if you include the Snowmen episode in season 7 thus far (and why shouldn't we), the show has had a fifty percent success rate in my opinion. That is not good. Less good if you include last year's christmas special in with this series as well, that bumps it up to a 57% rate of not goodness. So, eight episodes left, two of which will be written by Moffat, and 57 is the number to beat.

Luckily, Neil Gaiman counts for two all by his lonesome.

Charles Durning Has Died

At the age of 89, on Christmas Eve, Charles Durning died. And because I took the whole week off last week from the internet, and news in general, I'm only just finding out now. And I feel shitty about that.

Durning was a favourite character actor of mine, and best remembered by me for his roles in several Coen Brother's features (Hudsucker Proxy being my favourite), and as the primary villain in the Muppet Movie. He was a veteran of World War II (the most decorated veteran alive, while he was), which is discussed at length in the episode of Dinner for Five above, by his long time friend Burt Reynolds, as Durning preferred not to discuss this time in combat.

And I never know how to finish these sorts of posts.

[Review] - The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey

Courtesy of Warner Bros.
After the Star Wars prequels were released, Kevin Smith was often asked his opinion of their quality, and would often respond in positive, affirmative ways. This apparently bothered some people, mostly people with eyes who had seen the prequels, and assumed he was talking about some other film they obviously hadn't seen. His excuse for this sort of behaviour was an inherent love of the franchise so strong that despite the films (obvious) failings, we would love them all the same. So I feel that before I go on, I must too admit that my own thoughts must be run through a bias filter of some kind, as my own deep seeded love of the Hobbit will undoubtedly colour my opinion slightly. The Hobbit was the first proper book I ever read. I immediately fell in love with it, and continue to reread it on a regular basis. It is not my favourite book, nor the book that most changed the direction and philosophical foundations for my life, but I do like it quite a bit.

I'll also say that I saw the film in the standard formats: 24 fps, and in the regular number of "dimensions." One of the many reasons it has taken me so long to review the film was I was waiting for the opening of a brand new IMAX theatre near to where I live. However, the extra time gave me an opportunity to read the considerable amount that has been written on the HFR, the only format the IMAX version is playing in. And while the only way to truly know how I feel about the HFR is to experience it myself, I sat myself down and had a long conversation about what I expected from the experience of watching the film, and in the end it came down to this:

Content of the film is the reason I'm going to the film in the first place. I want to be impressed, to be amazed, to be surprised. I shouldn't have to think about the act of opening my eyes and viewing the movie. So, to introduce elements to that part of the experience which might, in a non-content way, deter me from enjoying the picture is something I do not appreciate. 3D, I gave a chance to, and deplore. Aside from everything else, it doesn't add anything to the experience, it subtracts. It's a distracting gimmick that directors are being forced into adopting by studios, and I purposefully avoid it. That right there is enough to deter me from the HFR, as those versions are all in 3D. So it came down to seeing the film in IMAX format or not, and suffering the 3D, and whatever other anomalies would come form the HFR. And despite my fondness for the IMAX experience (which adds the depth of field that 3D craves, without mudding the picture, and in fact enhances it), the choice became clear: in standard format, I know the experience won't be tainted, and I'll be able to put my full concentration on enjoying the film, rather then being distracted by the physical film itself.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers long ago driven from their homeland.

26 Dec 2012

[Review] Doctor Who Series 7 Christmas Special, "The Snowmen"

Courtesy of the BBC
Considering that Steven Moffat ripped off a line from Game of Thrones in this episode, I feel it only fair that I point out this comic I made last June. Not for any other reason then to say "you weren't the first to think of that, Mr. Moffat."

I think it is fair to say that Moffat peaked early in the whole Christmas episode department, his latter two attempts paling in comparison with the fantastic Christmas Carol starring Michael Gambon. Last year's, with the... err, trees, was not the best thing ever, and Snowmen sits firmly between them. It's still heads and leagues and unfortunately genetic conditions above anything that was churned out during the Russell T. Davies era, and I guess for that we can be thankful.

I give this episode two points of leeway. First, while being a Christmas special, and taking place on Christmas, it has nothing to do with Christmas, which is my preference. Christmas is not a character in the play, and I'm thankful for that. Second, this is the strongest of the Moffat written episodes for series seven thus far. That is also quite a lot like saying this giant ball of hair is clogging my drain the least. It wasn't complete rubbish, but it wasn't that endearing either.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also lead a double life as a cockney barmaid.

24 Dec 2012

Happy Whatever

As for me, I intend to spend as much of my government-mandated time off during this period of festive et cetera in my place of worship, a movie theatre. They just opened a new IMAX theatre so close to my home, if I had my legs torn off in a bear attack, I could still drag my bleeding stumps to catch a matinee.

So, if this time means anything to you, there you go. And if it doesn't, there you go too. See, togetherness! Yay! (Seriously though, both of you, no matter which way to you go, don't be assholes about it.)

As my gift to all of you, expect posts to be irregular this week.

21 Dec 2012

It's Predator, In A Storage Locker

You can see the influences of Storage 24 in this (red band, for violence) trailer for the film, starring Doctor Who's Noel Clarke, Once Upon A Time's Colin O’Donoghue, and Laura Haddock. It is Predator in a confined space, it is Alien not on a spaceship, it is District 13 in London, and without the heavyhanded political allegory. The question is, were those influences intentionally left obvious, as a homage, or is the film simply that derivative and formulaic?

Whether it is or not, this trailer does look very creepy in places, and is probably worth a look. Unless it isn't. If so, don't blame me. Blame them. There's the ones that done it. I'm just some poor sap on the internet who really wants his holidays to kick in.

A Little Bit Of Everything

Before the western world retreats from the internet for a few days, to join together with/hide desperately from family, I thought I'd burn off those little stories that surfaced this week. Starting with the picture above.

- Yes, the TARDIS will get a brand new desktop theme in anticipation for the fiftieth, and it will make it's first proper appearance next week in The Snowmen. And in celebration of the fiftieth, the design is very retro. I had an issue with the "coral pattern" from the shows return, which I thought was far too organic looking, and drove too hard the idea of the TARDIS as being a living thing, rather then a wonderful machine. It doesn't have to be alive to have a soul, to be lovely, and to be loved. We fall in love with machines all the time. I liked the Moffat design, which was much more technical, while still whimsical, but I like this one best, and I haven't even seen it functional as a proper environment yet.

- Disney is trying really very hard to alienate me from seeing the new Muppet film. First they replace Christoph Waltz with Ty Burrell, and now the announcement that Ricky Gervais will be the human lead in the film. Which makes sense only in so far as he is British (which Burrell is not, but we move on). I don't hate Gervais like some people really hate him, I just don't like him, tend to ignore him, and allow us the space to do our own things (note how I did not include him in my list of celebrities who should cameo in the film). I'm not a fan of cringe comedy, which is really all he does (the quaint Cemetery Junction excluded), and I'm really not a fan of the arrogant egotism he exudes. So I leave him be, and turn the Daily Show off after the second segment if he happens to be the guest. But these are the Muppets. I can't just hold a hand up before me, blocking him out whenever he's on screen. Or plug my ears whenever he talks. So, at this early stage, I am conflicted. Are the Muppets enough to counteract two actors I can't usually watch? I hope so...

Hit the jump for the rest, which includes Riddick news, Game of Thrones updates, SHIELD casting, and some nonsense about Prometheus.

[List] 7 Differences Between The Lord Of the Rings Movies And Books That Made Them Good Films

For those that hadn't realised before now, there is a difference between books and movies. I know, I was surprised too. But the fundamental differences between the two mediums makes adapting a book into a film  difficult. How do you transfers whole chapters of exposition into dialogue, so that it won't feel heavy handed? How do you make jokes told in the descriptive passages work on film, without relying on an overbearing narrator? What works for one rarely works for the other.

One of my many issues with "faithful"adaptations is they get too hung up on making the film as similar as possible to the source material, while losing sight of that which would make the story work best in the new medium. Which is why I'm never that put off when adaptations go off course. If I want to experience the original story, I'll read the original story. If you're going to go to all the trouble of adapting a story, adapt it. Do something original with the characters, the themes, the style. It's why Watchmen is a competent, if not terribly moving piece of film making, and Batman Begins, while taking cues and details from various Bat-stories over the years, isn't pulled from one source exclusively and is a terrific film.

Which brings us to Peter Jackson. In 2000, Ian McKellen wrote that the Lord of the Rings was "perhaps the most faithful screenplay ever adapted from a long novel." And conceded "there will be some omissions of characters and elisions of events." And there has to be. Tolkien was writing a mythology based on his years of training in Old English and Norse literature. Jackson was making a movie, that had to follow the standard formats of pacing, arc structure, character development, and other conventions that make movies enjoyable to watch. Changes have to occur.

And while people ten years ago complained about what had been changed, what was left out, and what was different (and still do), I look back at those changes that made the films better then if they hadn't been changed at all. Hit the jump for the list.

20 Dec 2012

"You Say That Like There's Never Been A French Whore In The White House."

Someone mentioned to me the other day that they thought Anne Hathaway is the new Tom Hanks. Obviously, she lacks the trademark Hanks legs, so I asked for an elaboration. This person suggested that, like Hanks, Hathaway's career began in comedies, and is often humorous in interviews and non-film appearances. Yet the career has taken a steep turn into the almost depressingly dramatic. I thought on this for a time.

Hanks is easily one of the five most affable people in the world, and his ability to draw a laugh (see his epic Cloud Atlas press tour) seems almost effortless. Yes, Hathaway sings and dances. And she's often the best thing about the movies she appears in (Love and Other Drugs, Dark Knight Rises, etc). But I've never really thought of her as a "funny person." Funny or Die seems to want to change that perception, as she and Samuel L. Jackson hold a sad off over their Christmas films, Django Unchained, and Les Mis. Jackson is the clear victor, but Hathaway holds her own.

But I won't be convinced until she goes one-on-one with Stephen Colbert. That, like most things in life, is the ultimate test.

Via Topless Robot.

The Hobbit Cast Know Their Dwarves

One of the best ways you can discern The Hobbit was originally written as a children's story is the first chapter. More then any other in the book, it is very fairy tale, and feels very much like something that might have been made up on the spot. The rest of the story, obviously having had more thought and detail put into it, elevate the narrative considerably, but the first chapter remains the best evidence of the Hobbit's humble beginnings.

And nothing exemplifies this more then the introduction of the dwarves (which is repeated with similar comedic effect when they encounter Beorn). The rhyming names, the paired arrivals. It's great fun to be sure, but not half as much fun as watching the actors from the Hobbit try to speed through them. While Martin Freeman nearly cussing at forgetting Fili and Kili is good, my favourite bit is James Nesbitt's immediate "this is the fellow you want right here" pass over to Aiden Turner.

Via The Mary Sue.

[Review] Primeval: New World, Season 1 Episode 8, "Truth"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures
Back in episode one, I commented that the shoehorning of the "Cross' wife getting eaten by a dinosaur" flashback was a terrible idea, as it immediately removed any tension the character's past might have generated. The audience should have felt as in the dark about Cross as the other characters on the show did. This episode revisiting that sequence put me on the defencive. Would the show somehow manage to salvage that early mistake.

The answer: sort of. This episode wasn't great, but it wasn't terrible either. After watching it, I had a difficult time forming any opinion of it at all. It seemed more like a make up session, a one episode sojourn to correct what the writers obvious agreed was an early mistake. Except they went too far again, and concluded too much.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that often puke on their captors.

19 Dec 2012

Two And A Half Minutes Of Archer

With all the excitement about Justified coming back, and Game of Thrones starting again, I criminally failed to mention the return of Archer on FX, January 17th. If you haven't seen Archer, change this. Change it now. And if you're not passively offended by something he says immediately, just give it time, he'll come around to you.

Seriously though, the show is damned good. Much like Austin Powers (but not at all like Austin Powers) it succeeds at being both a good spy show on it's own, and as a deconstruction of the genre. And to celebrate it's return, FX has released many several clips, not much longer then a quarter of a minute. Just enough time to get in a joke. And that is enough.

See the rest after the jump.

Tim Burton Made This... Yeah

Tim Burton directed this video for The Killers song Here With Me, and boy does it show. There are pin wheels and lots of black and white contrast and a damned creepy Winona Ryder doll, and a child unsettling enough that I began to suspect this video might have had autobiographical overtones (don't believe me, look at Burton, then look at his various muses over the years. Notice a discrepancy?).

The over all tone and look of the video is quite dominating, and does distract from the rather banal song it is representing (or, maybe it's not. Music written in the last thirty years all sounds basically the same to me).

Via Topless Robot.

Foreigners, Skin Conditions And Lizard People He's Alright With, But Lesbians Crosses The Line

An unexpected treat, roughly one week away from Doctor Who: The Snowmen: yet another prequel short, focusing this time on Madame Vastra (and I'm fine with as many web episodes following her around as the BBC is willing to put out). It's just a bit of fun, and I'd say of late Moffat has been at his best in these short bursts of comedy rather then in his long form drama.

And it gives us the first hint at the baddie: snow, but no clouds. The question remains, can it be blamed on the moon?

Via The Mary Sue.

18 Dec 2012

TIFF To Celebrate Cronenberg

Taken from thegate.ca
I've expounded on the TIFF Bell Lightbox in Toronto before. Home to the Toronto International Film Festival, and an exhibition floor that has over the past few years hosted a range of fascinating displays from around the world. MOMA's Tim Burton show, the Grace Kelly fashions, the exclusive Game of Thrones Season 2 exhibit, the soon to end Designing Bond from the Barbician, and the currently running X-Men Master display. What they have yet to do is create an exhibit on the scale of some of these, for themselves. Until now.

The Lightbox will create, host, and eventually tour a retrospective exhibit of writer and director David Cronenberg, chronicling his long career through props, costumes, interviews, documentation and set-pieces from his 21 films. The exhibit is set to open in Toronto in the fall of 2013, and begin touring sometime in 2014.

So, I guess I know what I'll be doing next fall.


I'll Give "I Give It A Year" Another Chance, Apparently

Here is the "international" trailer for Rose Byrne's forth coming comedy I Give It A Year, which is largely identical to the trailer previously released. The only reason I'm bothering to post it at all is apparently everyone took off on holiday early this year, because there hasn't been a damned thing worth wasting words on since about last Thursday.

So I'm scrapping the bottom of the barrel. Not hard, mind. Wouldn't want to sprain my elbow. And all the while, I'm hoping that something gets announced, or some star goes nutty or Firefly gets renewed, or something to make this week interesting.

[Review] Dexter, Season 7

Courtesy of Showtime
The longer Dexter lasts the less love I feel for it in our love-hate relationship, and until last week I suspected that most felt the same way. Until the penultimate pulled in the most viewers for a Showtime programme ever, and from the looks of things the finale bested that record. So I guess the general public still has a place in their hearts for America's favourite serial killer. Or maybe they were just interested to see how it would end. Like a car accident, they couldn't help but watch. Or maybe they found out that Yvonne Strahovski had nuded up earlier in the season, and were hoping for a repeat performance.

This has started rumours that the show might live beyond the deadline given years back that season eight would be the end. This is a mistake, and the show desperately needs to end. Whatever the cause of the viewership spike, what it doesn't change is that Dexter has delivered its most grating, least interesting, and ultimately, least satisfying season yet. And that includes season five, the Final Frontier of Dexter seasons.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains explicit spoilers for the whole season and entire series, so... you know, you've been warned.

17 Dec 2012

More Trek, More Dark

I have to say, I'm confused. As of late, "announcement trailers" are generally a couple seconds of footage culled from the actual trailer, and released some time beforehand. But having watched this second, longer trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, barely anything that was in last week's fabulous trailer is here. Some repeated footage, but mostly new stuff (including what might be a Klingon Bird of Prey), and an entirely new voice over from Admiral Pike, played by Bruce Greenwood, who is the only member of the cast who could have a voice-off with Cumberbatch (I would watch a movie of those two just talking at one another, if anyone is interested). So, effectively, they've just released two trailers within a week for a film that doesn't come out until May.

Oh well, at least this trailer has a single shot of Bones in it.

On a related note, last week I pegged Alice Eve as playing Nurse Chapel, given that she is wearing a medical blue uniform in the trailer. It has since been revealed she is playing Carol Marcus, who would also be wearing blue because I brain-farted and forgot blue is all of science division. Except I didn't consider Marcus because in the original timeline she wasn't part of Starfleet. However, I would like to say I approve, and this is the sort of material that reboots should cover, if reboots need to continue being a thing. We've seen the end of their relationship, but everything else is up for play. An untapped period in the character's history, that is what these sorts of films should be about, not just retelling the same stories that have already been told, over and over again. Because that is lazy.

This Belongs In A Museum

According to the school's Tumblr page, the University of Chicago received a mysterious package last week, seen above. As you can no doubt tell, something about it is off. A student worker in the mail room thought so too, partially because it is covered in unofficial replicas of stamps rather then real ones, and partially because it is addressed to Indiana Jones. When the university opened the package, this is what they found:

"The package contained an incredibly detailed replica of "University of Chicago Professor" Abner Ravenwood’s journal from Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. It looks only sort of like this one, but almost exactly like this one, so much so that we thought it might have been the one that was for sale on Ebay had we not seen some telling inconsistencies in cover color and "Ex Libris" page (and distinct lack of sword). The book itself is a bit dusty, and the cover is teal fabric with a red velvet spine, with weathered inserts and many postcards/pictures of Marion Ravenwood (and some cool old replica money) included. It’s clear that it is mostly, but not completely handmade, as although the included paper is weathered all of the “handwriting” and calligraphy lacks the telltale pressure marks of actual handwriting."
Whomever sent this was smart enough to send it to the building that housed the Geology and Geography departments in the 1930's, not the building they are currently located in. And obviously put a lot of time and effort into this thing, for presumably no reason then to get people excited and cause a little mystery. The obvious conclusion most people are drawing is that this is a viral marketing campaign for something, though what isn't clear. After purchasing LucasFilm, Disney made it very clear they weren't interested in making any more Jones films. And while I would love an Indy animated series, Disney wouldn't go to these lengths to promote a cartoon. An they certainly wouldn't send the package to a university with every possibility that it could have gotten lost, stolen or destroyed before it was noticed.

I don't want this to be anything. I want this to be like those paper statutes that appeared in Edinburgh last year. I want this to be the result of a brilliant, obsessed mind who wanted to have fun, and now gets to sit back and watch us delight in their mischief. I want this to be one of those rare times where fiction and reality transect, and where no one questions it too hard and ruins it for everyone else. I want this to mean something deeper and more absurd then an advertising campaign. I want this package to have a soul.

And if anyone finds out there was something less then magical about why this package was sent, I want them to keep it to themselves.

Via First Showing.

[Review] - Mary And Max (2009)

Courtesy of Icon Entertainment
A few weeks ago, at the announcement that Television Ontario would be cancelling their long running Saturday Night At The Movies programme, I wrote what I hoped was an impassioned argument for keeping the programme on air, citing how it had effected my life. But perhaps the better argument will be this review for a film that, if it weren't for SNatM, I probably never would have known existed. And my life would be the poorer for it. As it stands now however, I will actively seek it out on DVD, and thus Saturday Night At The Movies will have put a penny in somebodies pocket, reaffirmed my viewership, and made me happy, for not the first, but what will increasingly become closer to the last time. In fact, this may well be the last time that programme surprises and inspires me, and that makes me saddest of all.

Mary and Max is a clay, stop-frame animation film that is not intended for the young, and will be the film I show to anyone who ever suggests that "cartoons are for kids." This one is decidedly not. It deals with the "greater issues" of life, tackling subjects like depression, autism, asexuality, irreligion, child abuse, parental neglect, body image, bullying, suicide and the indecipherable nature of humanity. And while the film does reach some pretty dark places, it maintains a wicked sense of humour while doing so. The result is one of the funniest films I've seen in some time, certainly the funniest that also required a sinus-infection amount of tissues.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that have also killed a large number of fish.

14 Dec 2012

I'm Just Going To Phone This One In

So I kind of bummed myself out, what with my rant against the internet earlier, and the knowledge that I'm not going to have a chance to see The Hobbit for at least another week, but there's no time to explain.

Via The Mary Sue.

Dinosaurs Are Everybody's Business

I don't understand people who have no interest in dinosaurs. I mean, I do, sort of. Everybody has stuff they don't care about (hello sports), but still, how are dinosaurs not one of those things that everybody is obsessed with and fascinated by? Huge, strange, beautiful creatures that have left us only their bones and endless speculation and discovery. How do people grow out of that? What sort of lives must they live? Do they simply lack the ability to wonder?

The old cliche goes those who fail to learn from the past are doomed to repeat it. And when taken literally, that makes for a good plot for a science fiction movie. But when taken figuratively, as the video above points out, to appreciate and study and understand the past is the best tool we have for making effective changes in the future. That is the power of science, and it is awesome.

Via Dinosaur Tracking.

[Opinion] Clerks 3 Might Happen, Or How I Need To Learn To Stop Hating The Internet

Courtesy of ViewAskew.
I am a fan of Kevin Smith. Like any writer or director, some of his stuff is good, some of it isn't. And whether it is or not is very much the subject of personal taste. But I've always looked forward to his films. But more then that, I liked the man. Maybe my opinions of the films are coloured slightly because of my opinions of the man. When he first appeared nearly twenty years ago, he was a filmmaker I could relate to, someone I saw something of myself in, and was drawn to that. He seemed affable, kind of an everyman, at least in the early days.

When he announced his retirement, I was disappointed (especially after I eventually saw Red State), but not broken up. He wasn't alone. Quentin Tarentino has said he'll probably be stopping at ten films. Steven Soderbergh has announced a semi-retirement after the release of his next two. There was a time last year where it seemed everyone was announcing their retirement. And while I don't believe that anyone can announce the time they'll cease being (or feeling) creative, if they want to retire, they are free to do so. And Smith promised one final film, Hit Somebody, based on the Warren Zevon song and cowritten with Mitch Albom, which would explore the career of a hockey player. Actors signed on to the film, the script was written, then rewritten. Then nothing. Then the announcement that it would become two films. Script rewritten. Then it would be one film again. It appeared development hell had set in. What had began as a film that was meant to challenge Goon at the box office turned out to be yet another film that might never actually happen. I can't imagine too many of those (largely Red State) actors are still attached. And we'd been here before with Smith (and many, many other directors), promising films that never materialised.

Red State is a remarkable film, such a departure from his usual style and so very watchable, but I think it was during that release that I broke out of what I suppose you could call my "fandom" of the man. I take movies seriously, and I understood and respected all the points Smith was making about the failures and corruptions of the film industry, even if some of them did have the twang of bitterness and reindeer games. But because of the method of release, it meant I couldn't see a film on initial release that I very much wanted to, and had been anticipating for some time. This, coupled with my extreme disinterest in internet social media (and Smith's web presence is persistent) caused the association I felt with Smith to dissolve. He became just another director, a person somewhere else doing things I didn't feel as much for.

Hit the jump to continue reading something that started out as a simple "they're making Clerks 3" post and snowballed into why I don't really like the internet all that much.

13 Dec 2012

A Portal To Another World Indeed

See, it's a funny headline because the trailer very clearly features GLaDOS as the on board computer system for the giants mechas, in this first trailer for Guillermo del Toro's Pacific Rim. Which, I hope isn't a spoiler for how the film will turn out. Is this all just one big, loud, expensive looking Portal prequel? Because... no, I honestly wouldn't have a problem with that.

I do have a problem with a few things in the trailer though. As much as I love Idris Elba, and love seeing him using his real accent, his speech as cut here goes pretty heavy on the melodrama. The voiceover lays things out pretty clearly, but is also pretty terrible, and it removes any need for the trailer to introduce us to the human characters. And I think it contradicts the "we created monsters" tile, unless that was referring to the robots, in which case I'm more confused then I was. The robots too, especially that last shot, look very Bayformers, and that isn't a comparison you want to draw.

I do have faith in del Toro though. And to reaffirm that faith, this trailer makes no attempt to hide what either the robots or the monsters look like. I'll have more on this sort of behaviour tomorrow, but I'm glad to see a film that could have (and probably would have if any other director was doing it) teased us with the creatures between now and the spring, revealing cookie crumbs until the main event (see Cloverfield, and that nonsense). So while Star Trek Into Darkness is busting itself keeping Cumberbatch's identity secret, del Toro is over here saying "you want to see a big friggin' monster, here you go. Come see the movie for more of this big friggin' monster." And I appreciate that tact.

So long as the monsters are killed FOR SCIENCE!

Who Are We Kidding, Showtime Is Shameless All Of The Time

Why else would they have a new series called the Masters of Sex starring Michael Sheen and Lizzy Caplan, based on the real life mid-twentieth century sex researchers William Masters and Virginia Johnson? To quote Wikipedia:
"Their findings, particularly on the nature of female sexual arousal (for example, describing the mechanisms of vaginal lubrication and debunking the earlier widely-held notion that vaginal lubrication originated from the cervix) and orgasm (showing that the physiology of orgasmic response was identical whether stimulation was clitoral or vaginal, and proving that some women were capable of being multiorgasmic), dispelled many long standing misconceptions."
So... right up Showtime's alley, really. Plenty of opportunities to feature nudity, sexual situations that are both dramatic and comedic, and Beau Bridges in a reoccurring role. Actually, from what I've just now read (on Wikipedia) these two do sound like they'd make interesting subjects, especially when they start dealing with Master's attempts to "convert or cure" homosexuality, which Johnson was against. And I'd watch Lizzy Caplan open cans of cat food while being snide, so I'll definitely check it out.

But being Showtime, I just know that there will be something about this show that makes me want to jab a fork in my eye.

Via Uproxx.

Showtime Is Shameless Sometimes

Showtime's programming block is made up largely of shows that, to be perfectly honest, are grating. It's not to say they aren't good, for the most part they are very good. But each of them has a hook, and they will flog that hook like a dead horse, season after season. And despite the fact that the characters might be engaging, or the situations might be entertaining, every time they flog that hook you have to resist throwing a show at the television. Yet week after week we continue to tune in, against our better natures, because we want to see what will happen to these people, forgiving the formulaic conclusions we will inevitably be given. Hank's man-whoring gets old fast in Californication, Dexter's... pretty much everything curdles that show every year after promising starts, even Homeland, the current critical darling, makes you want to pelt the cast with cellphone chargers from time to time.

And then there is Shameless, a show I did not enjoy in it's first year. And I cannot honestly tell you why I watched the second season, but I did, and enjoyed it, despite wanting every single member of the cast to die horribly, because they are all very dumb. So, with the approaching premier of season three, here are some things we can expect: Frank (William H. Macy) will be the most horrible person in the world; Fiona and Steve will be insufferable; Lip will continue to ignore his potential, while obsessing over Karen, unless she has properly left the series (please...); and Kev will continue to be just about the only decent person in the neighbourhood.

I'll still probably watch it. And I'll still want to take a tire iron to every one of them.

12 Dec 2012

Christmas Will Come At Exactly The Same Time It Always Does This Year

The BBC has released a final trailer for the Doctor Who Christmas Special, complete with a single line of dialogue from recently announced guest Ian McKellen. It looks like good fun, and I got a good kick out of the "taking people by the hand" line.

But that isn't the real news. The real news is the confirmation that the second half of series seven will air beginning in April, which is when the 50th anniversary special will begin filming, for an air date that I'm guessing will land sometime close to the true 50th anniversary, November 23rd. It is also about a month after Sherlock begins filming in earnest, so otherwise known as a busy time for Mr. Moffat. This news also pretty much confirms that there won't be a 50th anniversary series, which is disappointing, and means no series eight until 2014. Joy.

Via Den of Geek, and again.

Man Of Steel Trailer Does Nothing To Quell My Ills

So here is the first trailer for Man of Steel, and I'm pretty much done. Maybe I'll keep posting stuff as it comes, maybe I won't. But as I've said before, every time we've learned something about this film, every extra detail they feed us, it hasn't felt right. The more we know, the less it feels off. And setting aside the fact that for the first minute and a half of this trailer, I couldn't see any significant difference between the story this film will tell and Superman '79, this trailer tells me, and you, a lot about how the studio wants us to frame this film in our heads. Trailers are about building anticipation, and getting the audience prepared. Which is why some movies crash and burn based on the mishandling of the advertising, framing it in a completely different tone then the actual film.

And so, based on this trailer, the last ember of interest I had in Man of Steel has been extinguished. Because this trailer is a lot of things. It is slow, then fragmented. It shows a lot without giving anything away. But it isn't Superman.

This trailer is depressing, in the end. The music, the tone, the constant questioning and belittling of Superman. If emotions had directions, this trailer is looking down. That isn't Superman. Superman is about optimism. Superman is about overcoming. There is a reason he wears pastel colours and tights, and doesn't wear a mask. He wants people to watch him, to look up as he flies overhead. Why else would he fly so low? He personifies hope. He wears a big yellow "S" on his chest that draws the eye. The people on the street don't question his identity because they aren't looking at his face, they're looking at the "S". He's a big blue inspiration machine. And a Superman movie should embody that. What we've got here is Superman marketed the only way Warner Bros thinks it'll make money: if it were a Batman film.

Depression, introspection, self doubt all work for Batman. He literally represents the night. But Superman is a day time hero. Heroic journeys don't all have to be about self doubt, which is all this trailer suggest to us. Should he use his powers, how to use his powers, will he be feared, all not only questions no Superman movie or series ever needs to cover again, but they aren't questions Superman would ever ask. He may be curious as to his origins, but understands that for whatever reason he has his abilities, he has a responsibility to use them to greatest effect. His heroic journey lies in wanting to help too much, and learning to accept that despite being nearly a god, he has limitations, and to not let those limitations define him. It doesn't make him an uninteresting character if he has already established a personal identity, it makes him a more complete character. And even complete characters grow and change. Rewriting one of the most retold origin stories is not clever, it's more lazy then anything else.

I've said it before, Superman shouldn't be sad. And what I took away from this trailer was a sad Sups, and that doesn't interest me.

[Review] - Primeval: New World, Season 1 Episode 7, "Babes In The Woods"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures
Success! After six weeks of harping on about this show's use of the word "dinosaur" to describe everything that appears out of the anomalies, when only two dinosaurs have in fact appeared, this episode saw the reasonable shift I've been calling for. Dylan refers to the possibility of "creatures" multiple times, and after ironically identifying this episode's predator as a dinosaur, several characters continue to call it a "creature." Despite the scripts having been written some time ago, and the episodes filmed long before I wrote my first review of this series, I still feel I am entitled to take credit for this change, and will hobo-style fight anyone who cares to challenge me on that. Any takers? No, good, let's move on.

Because once again, the series has surprised me. Three weeks in a row, and the quality continues to, if not increase, at the least maintain the level of "watchable." Another episode like this, and it might even elevate itself to "anticipated." But let's not get ahead of ourselves.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers which have a history of doing unseemly things on the internet.

11 Dec 2012

Oh Yeah, There Are Two More Hobbit Films

Did you all watch Stephen Colbert's Hobbit Week last week? No? What's wrong with you? Do you fear joy? Did someone once push you into joy without warning, and you were forced to sputter and kick your way back to shore, only to be rescued from drowning in joy by your older sister, and ever since then the mere sight of joy makes you nauseous and vomity? Was that the reason? I bet it was.

If you did see it (here for Americans, here for Canadians, um... elsewhere for others), at the end of the week, he took Peter Jackson to Tolkien school and learned him a few things, but Jackson also let slip that the first cut of The Hobbit: the Desolation of Smaug is done (pre-effects, of course), and that Jackson and his editor are the only ones to have seen it. This came at about the same time as the above photo appeared online, apparently from the third film, The Hobbit: There And Back Again. That is Luke Evans as a particularly greasy-looking Bard the Bowman, the closest thing the Hobbit has to a Aragorn-style hero, and Orlando Bloom being happy for the work as Legolas. I wonder if Legolas' role is much more then just a cameo, if he's on the battlefield consulting with Bard.

And exactly who among us asked for additional Legolas? It certainly wasn't me. Come on now, fess up. It'll go much easier for you if you just admit it now, rather then everyone finding out on their own later on.

Hit the jump for a similar first look at the Desolation of Smaug.

Gandalf In Space

This is just fab news. Ian McKellen, who it really shouldn't have to be said is a Shakespearean actor of high regard, best known to modern audiences as Gandalf in Lord of the Rings (and the forth coming Hobbit) and Magneto in the X-Men series, has been announced by the BBC as providing the voice of the Snowmen in this Christmas' Doctor Who special, called The Snowmen.

While it is disappointing that the actor won't be sharing any scenes with Matt Smith (I conjure the image of them getting on quite well), his voice should lend the snowmen the appropriate combination of menace and dignification (and sympathy, if they turn out just to be misunderstood, like last years... er, trees).

I think the list of distinguished actors who haven't yet appeared on Doctor Who has now been dwindled down to just Maggie Smith. Get on that, Moffat.

Via Den of Geek.

Sir Patrick Moore Has Died

Sir Patrick Moore, presenter of the BBC program The Sky At Night, has died at the age of 89.

Being most well known for the documentary program he hosted for 55 years (which in the last few years the BBC filmed in his home to accommodate him), he was also the former president of the British Astronomical Association and author of over 70 books on the subject of astronomy, without any formal training in the field. He in fact rejected the opportunity to study at Cambridge in favour of going on his own. As something of a professional amateur, that alone is an inspiring notion. I think it is fair to say that he was as influential to the people of the UK as Carl Sagan was to the people of North America.

Wonderfully eccentric, he began wearing a monocle at the age of sixteen, and a full set of dentures at nineteen. Queen guitarist and co-author Brian May said of him "Patrick is irreplaceable. There will never be another Patrick Moore. But we were lucky enough to get one." He appeared as himself in the Eleventh Hour, the first episode of Doctor Who to feature Matt Smith, and was reportedly the only man to meet Orville Wright, Yuri Gagarin and Neil Armstrong.

For his faults, which we all have, his undying enthusiasm for all things space was commanding and exciting, and fostered in the viewer and reader a desire to love anything as much as Moore obviously loved the stars. Many of his books have a place in my personal library, and while I cannot claim him to being my introduction to the wonders of above, he has since done his fair share of guiding.

Moore never married after his fiance was killed in the Second World War (which left him with a life long hatred of the Germans), and leaves behind only friends, colleagues and those he inspired.

Via The BBC.

10 Dec 2012

Muppet Update Makes Me Sad

Dammit. See, this is why I don't look forward to things. Because when things go bad, I'm not disappointed. I'd rather be surprised then disappointed, and I knew I should have followed my own rule. I mean, it's up there in the banner and everything.

On the heels of my list of celebrities I think really ought to be in the next Muppet film comes the news that Christoph Waltz has dropped out, due to scheduling. He will no longer be playing the Interpol agent that hunts the Muppets across Europe. This is tough news. But worse yet is who they've got to replace him:

Ty Burrell.

Some of you may be thinking "well, that's not so bad." And fine, if you feel that way, go right ahead. But I dislike Ty Burrell. Really dislike. I've never met the man, and I'm sure he's a fantastic human being, but I cannot stand him as an actor. Knowing he is involved with a project turns me almost immediately. I have no real explanation for how I feel, sometimes some people just rub you the wrong way, and I'm rubbed wrong by Burrell.

Now, there is no force in this or any other earth that would stop me from seeing the new Muppet film. But Burrell comes close. My last ray of hope is that the producers realise the Muppets should be the focus of a Muppet film, and not the humans (unlike last time), and that Burrell (who is also a safe and rather economic choice) has a minimal role.

And maybe he'll drop out before filming begins too. I suppose I could always hope for that.

Via /Film.

Damned Kids, With Their Videos Games, And Their Selfless Pursuit Of Justice

I've often maintained that while DC is completely incapable of putting a live action film of quality together (that doesn't include the word 'bat'), they are the superior force when it comes to animation. The Animated DCU of course is the pinnacle of achievement, but the DC Animated Films and the various TV series over the years have all been heads above anything Marvel has put out.

Until DC Nation went on hiatus, the current proof of my thesis is Young Justice. Everything, from the animation (which is gorgeous) to the voice acting (and talent) to the depth of story telling, and the willingness to both take risks with the narrative and play the long game on story lines make it a better TV show then most live action TV series.

And I didn't know they were making a video game based around it. I was so hung up on Injustice that I didn't even know this was coming. And not only is it a Young Justice video game available on all major platforms (except Wii, cause Wii sucks, or something. I really have no opinion on the matter), but it is written by the shows writers and is canon, taking place during the time jump that kicked off season 2. The last time a game tried something like this, it was Ultimate Spider-man, with mixed results. Here's hoping that Young Justice: Legacy is able to pull it off with more... betterness.

Yeah, that kind of fell apart on me at the end there.

Via ComicsAlliance.

[Review] The Woman Who Died A Lot: A Thursday Next Novel, By Jasper Fforde

Thursday Next is easily one of my favourite modern fictional characters, and her series holds a similar position in my esteem. I look forward to their arrival with the same level of anticipation usually reserved for children awaiting new siblings: a mixture of excitement and jealousy. And an unrequited trepidation, knowing that the laws of thermodynamics can only hold out for so long until there is a bad one. Books I mean, I've gone off the child metaphor. Though, I suppose it holds up. Have enough of them, one is certain to be rotten. Children I mean. And fruit, I suppose...

I've wandered off topic. Which is also not uncommon in the world of Thursday Next, especially of late, and especially in The Woman Who Died A Lot, or TWWDAL. As the world Fforde has created continues to get denser and more detailed, the more tangents Thursday seems to find herself sliding down, and the more the reader struggles to keep up.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that cannot by any measure be considered righteous.

7 Dec 2012

Calvin And Hobbes Search Engine. That Is All

It is here.
Michael Yingling has accomplished the last great achievement of the internet. The rest of us can pack up and go home, no point in us hanging around here anymore. He has created a Calvin and Hobbes search engine, and it is glorious.

Seriously, check it out. Search anything, and it brings up a list of every strip that word occurred in. But not just a list, a chronological break down of every strip, complete with transcript, plot description, link to the official strip, and a pictorial list of all the collections that strip has appeared it. It showcases a level of devotion to the strip that I couldn't muster for making certain I feed myself. I here by declare it the definitive source for all relevant information on the internet; sorry Wikipedia, you lose. Should have included more deranged snow goons.

If nothing else, it proves that Calvin and Hobbes transcends even it's own format, as even the clinical descriptions of the strips are funny, like:
Calvin throws a rock at a bee hive. They chase him. A giant bee comes after him. YOWW! Mom says she doesn't see the "harpoon" that "gored" him, but she does something to help the sting. Calvin says the National Guard can track the bee on radar.
Via ComicsAlliance.

The Puppet Is His Penis

It must be nice to have famous friends. Or, friends at all. Or even just a lone bus rider willing to listen to a measured argument against The Dark Knight Rises. I suppose that what the internet is for...

Neil's Puppet Dreams is Neil Patrick Harris' web series on the Nerdist's Channel on YouTube, and it has everything you might expect, so long as what you expect is Neil Patrick Harris and puppets, in dream sequences. If you were expecting anything else, you should probably lower your expectations. And I mean for life in general, because clearly you are shooting for the moon when it comes to the inconsequential, I can only imagine what your dating profile must look like.

But nobody makes a penis joke better then Nathon Fillion, so I guess it's a good thing he's guest starring in this episode. Otherwise, he'd just be on the street corner, shouting innuendo at pedestrians. Which would be... pretty funny to see, now that I've thought of it. Can we make that happen? Can we make that a thing?

Via The Mary Sue.

[List] 9 People Who Should Have Cameos In The New Muppet Movie [Updated]

With the announcement of Christoph Waltz Ty Burrell (ugh) being cast as an Interpol agent for the new Muppet movie, we can officially start getting excited about Kermit and the gang's next outing. And I'm hoping this time the producers will spend a bit more time sorting out the cameos.

It's not to say that the cameos in the Muppets weren't good. It's just that they felt very... cost-savings oriented. Like the sort of cameos that would appear in a TV special rather then a theatrical release (keeping in mind, the terrible Muppet's Wizard of Oz TV special had Quentin Tarentino in it). A lot of the guests were TV stars, like Neil Patrick Harris, John Krainski, Jim Parsons, and the kid from Modern Family. And Whoopi Goldberg. Sure they had Feist, but that would have seemed more relevant five years ago. And Andy Rooney, fifty years ago. About the biggest proper movie stars they had were Jack Black and Emily Blunt, but Black was in it enough not to count as a cameo, and Blunt is married to Krainski. The majority of the cameos had no substance to them, little more then the camera passing by the actor while they uttered one line.

 I really wish the Muppet Show was on the air. Because the first crop of Muppet films had proper stars. The biggest names of the time, largely because those same stars had guested on the Muppet Show during it's run. Mel Brooks, Steve Martin, Elliot Gould. And John Cleese, as seen above, in what I believe to be the finest example of a Muppet cameo.

Which brings us quite nicely to the future. The feeling is that the new film will feature the Muppets touring, or otherwise crossing Europe, as suggested by their being pursued by an Interpol officer and the film being made at Pinewood Studios. I'm in favour of this. While The Muppet Movie is a classic, and Muppets Take Manhattan is my personal favourite, The Great Muppet Caper is possible the best made of all the Muppet movies. It's certainly the smartest, and features what I believe to be the best Muppet joke ever ("No honey, that's a frog. Bear's wear hats"). To emulate it is a smart move. Now, the trick is, filling the film with Europeans that are actually stars.

Hit the jump to see my list of suggestions.

6 Dec 2012

Boldy Exploding Where No One Has Exploded Before

Two things are abundantly clear from this first trailer (or, trailer announcement, but more on that in a bit) for Star Trek Into Darkness. First, this movie is going to be awesome. And second, Chris Pine is obviously not the star of this film. It is all Cumberbatch. He was the only thing in the poster, and he's all over the trailer. To be fair, with a voice like his, why wouldn't you have him narrate it? It'd be like casting Morgan Freeman in a silent role. But he dominates this epileptic footage. I don't have the emotional reaction to seeing Pine and Quinto and the others in the roles, in the way we do with Shatner and Nimoy, but Cumberbatch does make me feel... something.

I'm not at all a fan of these trailers for trailers, and I hesitated to post this knowing that next week another, slightly longer trailer, incorporating all of this footage will be released. But I chose to anyway, because I feel like this could have been the teaser. Why release another one. This is a concise minute, teases us, and makes us want for more, which we then have to wait for like obedient dogs. That is the function of the trailer business. I'm sure the same was said when teasers trailers themselves first appeared (whenever that was), but a teaser for a teaser is redundant and a waste of our interest.

A couple things I noticed: I like that the references to the larger franchise look to be sticking around. In the footage, the Constitution-class ship (presumably the Enterprise) that hits the waters outside of the Academy goes down roughly in the same place the Klingon Bird of Prey did in Voyage Home. And if you watch the Japanese trailer after the jump, there is an even bigger shout out to Wrath of Khan, though my guess is it will be just that, a shout out, and they put it there just to get us talking about it. I doubt they'd be stupid enough to try to remake that scene, and expect us to care as much as we did originally. And despite the disappointing lack of McCoy, Alice Eve's character is clearly shown to be wearing a sickbay-style blue medical uniform. So, money on Nurse Chapel anyone?

"The Burnout Rate Is 100%" [Updated]

[Update: the trailer, as had been linked above, didn't seem to want to work. As far as I can tell there was nothing wrong with the code, it just wanted to be difficult about it. So click onto the Kickstarter page to see the trailer, cause it is working over there].

And speaking of running a television program, here there is a trailer for a Kickstarter campaign, for the documentary Showrunners. It's a look at the men and women who are in charge of every aspect of a TV show, from maintaining the creative side of things, to dealing with the studio and business interests. A job that balances the artistic validity of a project with its profitability, and gods that sounds like hell.

Featuring interviews with the likes of Joss Whedon, Shawn Ryan, Jane Espenson, and dozens of others that do now, or have done, run shows, as well as some actors and other crew from high profile projects. Some were successful shows, other weren't, and the documentary intends to highlight the strange and difficult existence that is that of a showrunner, equal parts the master of all things, and the servant to all. The interviews have all been conducted, but the filmmakers need our help to raise the funds to finish the thing, so they can get it out to festivals and home release. And they should. And not just because I really want to see it. but because others probably do as well.

Before the internet really took off, showrunners weren't a position that was generally known. Sometimes it's the creator of the series, but not always, or not for long. Like a Chief of Staff, because of the stress of the job, it can have a high rate of turnover. But the internet came along, and people like Damon Lindleof had such a huge web presence during the run of LOST, and interacted with fans to an extent never seen before that the showrunner has in the modern day become something of the spokesperson for the show as well, and carries the blunt of the blame when something goes bad, in the fan's mind (I don't know for sure, but I'm guessing that Joss Whedon was probably the first showrunner who attracted large and specific attention to the position, simply through his affability).

As of the 6th of Dec, they're not quite at a quarter of their goal, but they've got until Christmas. Head over to Kickstarter and give what you can, if you're into this sort of thing. And even if you're not, give some anyways. It'll make the rest of us stop harping on it.

Via /Film.

Dan Harmon Talks About The Death Of TV

Community creator Dan Harmon is like Kevin Smith, ten or twelve years ago. His work is polarising and subject to the extremities of personal taste, but he is also an intelligent guy, knows his business, and knows how to talk to an audience. Putting these things together usually makes for an enjoyable time. Smith has overplayed his hand with the Smodcast network, but those first couple Evening With... DVDs are hilarious and fun, and possibly better then any of his scripted films (I'm happy to debate that point with anyone).

Harmon isn't there yet, thankfully. But his honesty and openness about working in comedy, and working in network television is both refreshing and educational. Anyone who is interested in the politics of television should give the above keynote address a watch.

That, and the fact that it's pretty damned funny.

Via Uproxx.

5 Dec 2012

... Until Winter Comes

So, now it begins in earnest. The cavalcade of promos, clips and set pictures. The avalanche of tremor inducing teasers, designed to reignite our now dormant jones for just a small, sweet taste of that medieval historical fantasy goodness. The twitch in the back of the eye when you remember the feeling, before you were forced to go cold turkey. The way that a slight hit makes you feel every hair on your head, and the crash and burn that comes after it wears off. The deal you make with the voices in your head, that even though you know it'll be over just as soon as it starts, it's going to be sooooo good, and it won't be like last time. This time you'll be able to deal with it, you'll be better this time. Stronger. But then the first licks of that theme start up and you're chasing the direwolf all over again.

116 days.

Via Topless Robot.

This Seems Like It Will Hold Me Over...

I'd like to take a moment, in the shadow of this fourth season trailer for Justified, to talk about one aspect of the show I've always been pleased with. I mean, more then all the other parts. Like the hair, the hats, and the cavalier attitude towards shooting folks. I've always been impressed with Raylan's faithfulness to his lady-folk.

In season one, he was with Ava, until that ended. Then he was with Winona for a season and a half (give or take). I mention this because, at least at the start of this season, he is still with the bartender who proved her mettle while facing down Quarles last year. The instinct (no doubt because of the cultural influence of James Bond) is, when you have a bad ass character like Raylan Givens, who tends towards the violent and the boozy, to have his relationships be short, shallow, and callow. In fact, every character is steadfastly monogamous once they get in a relationship. Except Winona. I guess not everyone can be that good of a person. It is a credit to the writers for deciding to make the characters human, and interesting, instead of vacant repetitions of tired cliches we've seen a million times.

And that makes me happy.
Via Uproxx.

[Review] - Primeval: New World, Season 1 Episode 6, "Clean Up On Aisle Three"

Courtesy of Impossible Pictures.
Yes, that is Stargate's Amanda Tapping, and no she didn't appear in this week's Primeval: New World, she directed it. She is one of many former Stargate and Sanctuary crew that work on the dino-drama. And while her presence in front of the camera would be a well deserved injection of talent, her abilities behind the camera serve the show just as well. This week's episode was well done, if the script seemed to want to rush through things. And also, apparently this was the episode where the producers made their money, featuring some rather blatant product placement. And a hockey joke.

Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that were also once assaulted while watching Bollywood films.

4 Dec 2012

Pixar Stuff

Pixar has released two new teasers for Monsters University, the first of which (American) is here, the second (International) is after the jump. And thanks to the earlier announcement from LionsGate, MU will be going head to head against Joss Whedon's Much Ado About Nothing. I suspect I know who will win the weekend, but I still think I'll see Much Ado over this. Or, at least, first. I'll see them both, don't get me wrong.

It was also let slip that Day & Night director (which, if you didn't see it in front of Toy Story 3, a) what is wrong with you, and b) you can watch here) Teddy Newton will be teaming with Safety Not Guaranteed writer Derek Connelly for a film at the studio, though no details were offered, and considering that Pixar's announced titles extend well into 2015 or later, it will be some time before we see this project materialise.

Hit the jump for the second MU poster.

Movies I'm Interested In Have Teaser Posters, Plus Man Of Steel

The first bit of marketing for Star Trek Into Darkness, just ahead of the teaser trailer (or IMAX footage) before The Hobbit, has arrived. Everyone else is giving it a hard time for ripping off Dark Knight Rises, and to be fair, my mind went immediately to there as well. But take a second look at that thing: it is gorgeous.

It tells us what we need to know going in: that Benedict Cumberbatch, who gets put front and centre over the series mainstays, will wrought unholy destruction upon the future. Some might look at this and think that Abrams is taking the series into the same cynical, dark recesses that Hollywood is currently devoted to, but I will argue against that point until I'm proven wrong. Star Trek has, even at it's darkest, always been about hope. The unwavering, unrelenting, optimistic belief that exploration and personal betterment win out. And this poster is just more of that.

When things get bad, you don't give up, you don't give in, and you don't make the darkness a part of you. You fly straight at it, straight into it as it were, and face it with phasers at the ready. The poster says more with what isn't included, among the smoke and ash and twisted metal. What comes next. The primary colours, the lens flares and the Enterprise.

Plus, it's a damned nice poster.

Hit the jump for a first look at Riddick. and Man of Steel.

CW Intends To Make Something Similar To, But Not Actually, Wonder Woman

Back in September, it was revealed that the CW, former home of Smallville, and current home of Arrow, had bought a pitch from writer Allan Heinberg to bring Wonder Woman to the small screen, under the title Amazon. And now it looks like they are moving forward with the pilot, as they have hired a casting director to find the female lead. Which is all well and good. The CW is a Warner company, as is DC, and they've had the best luck of anyone getting (heavily altered, watered down or generally terrible) versions of the DC characters onto screen. And just because they're making a pilot doesn't mean it'll make it to series. CW learned that with their Aquaman show a decade back. And NBC went through it with Wonder Woman herself not so long ago.

But the more details we learn, the more uneasy I feel. This breakdown from Deadline, for instance:
According to the breakdown I've obtained, her name is Iris (not Diana). "She comes from a remote, secluded country and until now has spent most of her life as a soldier and a leader on the battlefield. Because of relentless brutality of her life at home, Iris looks at our world with absolute awe and astonishment. She's delighted ­and just as often horrified ­ by the aspects of everyday life that we take for granted: skyscrapers, traffic, ice cream. It's all new and fascinating and sometimes slightly troubling ­to her. Iris is completely unschooled in our world, our culture, our customs. And she's completely inexperienced at interpersonal relationships. She has no social filter, does not suffer fools, and tends to do and say exactly what's on her mind at all times. She's bluntly, refreshingly honest. She can tell when you're lying to her. And she doesn't have time or patience for politics or tact because she's too busy trying to experience everything our world has to offer. There are too many sights to see ­and things to learn ­and people to care for. Hers is a true, noble, and generous heart. And she will fight and die for the people she loves. Iris is a fierce warrior with the innocent heart of a romantic ­and she will fight to the death to make the world safe for innocents and true romantics everywhere."
Hit the jump for my thoughts on all of that.

3 Dec 2012

The BBC Seems Intent On Impressing Us With Quality Programming In The New Year

Last week the BBC let the rest of us in on what exactly it is they'll be up to in the new year, and it is exciting. The sad news that the current series of Merlin would be its last, and that Sherlock would not start filming until March was well balanced with the news that Radio 4 will be airing a fantastically casted version of Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere.

And now BBC One has announced their upcoming projects. First, and foremost, is the official announcement of the Doctor Who 50th anniversary special, which we all knew was coming, and to which we still have no actual details. This will be paired with, presumably on BBC2, Mark Gatiss' documentary about the programme titled An Adventure in Space and Time. Luther, the fourth best show on television (with Game of Thrones, Justified and Breaking Bad) will be returning for a third series. Toby Whithouse, he of Being Human and various Doctor Who episodes, has a new Cold War spy drama called The Game, which I'm hoping will blend George Smiley with Whithouse's usual wit and skill, and which I'm quiet looking forward to.

Miranda Tate brings Miranda back for another series, as does Lee Mack with Not Going Out, and Ben Elton, late of Blackadder and Thing Blue Line, has an unannounced sitcom in the works, so that should be exciting. And Richard Hammond, the small one on Top Gear, has a new series called Secret Service in which comedians and actors are called upon by the British public to render services absurd and secretly films. Not my cup of tea mind, but clearly someone is going to be watching on Saturday nights.

The one I'm really interested in is a six episode adaptation of Susanna Clarke's turtle-crushing (its like being a door-stopper, only more so) tome Jonathan Strange And Mr Norrell, as adapted by Peter Harness and directed by Toby Haynes, who lately has been working on Being Human, Doctor Who, and Sherlock. A period piece about magicians, you'd better believe I'll be there. My only concern lies in the length of the book, and how much they expect (or intend) to fit into six episodes.

These of course follow the immediate season at the BBC One, which includes the Doctor Who Christmas special and conclusion to series 7, and finally series 19 of Top Gear. More then enough to keep us interested, I'd say.

Via the BBC.

Joss Whedon Returns This Summer

There is another universe out there, where Sam Mendes or someone else took the helm on Avengers. Where maybe it wasn't as successful, because few others have the skill it takes to keep twelve characters in the air at once. Maybe in that universe it was a more intimate film, focusing on the Big Three. Maybe it was a Michael Bay style crap-fest. Who knows. What is to be certain is that, in that universe, if Joss Whedon had still made his black and white, zero budget, modern-setting-with-original-dialogue version of Much Ado About Nothing, there is a better then excellent chance it never would have seen the light of day. Or would have been dumped directed to video. Or released online (Whedon is into that sort of thing). Hell, in an alternate universe where Whedon's Avengers wasn't as successful, Much Ado probably wouldn't have been more then a blip on the radar.

We don't live in those sorts of universes. We live in the sort where Whedon's skill and talent are recognised, and that a black and white, zero budget, modern-setting-with-original-dialogue version of Much Ado About Nothing has received from LionsGate a prime piece of real estate, with a limited release on June 7th, and a wide release June 21st. Yes folks, Shakespeare in the Summer, going head to head with Man of Steel. Sometimes I love the world we live in.

And I don't have to hesitate to think which of the two films I'm favouring.

Via /Film.

[Review] Killing Them Softly

Courtesy of the Weinstein Company
Sometimes, I don't understand humans at all. For the past ten years or so, I've averaged about a film a week in my local cinetorium, and in all that time, I can't remember any instance of somebody walking out during the show. I'm not saying it didn't happen, but I'm saying I didn't notice. And even if it never happened, that still seems like a reasonable statistic to me. Pay the ticket, as Hunter S. Thompson less literally once said, take the ride. So, it incited in me a previously untapped kind of depressed rage when, in the middle of Killing Them Softly, six people, not together as a group, but independently and over the course of about ten minutes, all got up and left. These weren't bathroom breaks or concession trips, these were departures. These were leaving in the middle of a film, that it made me angry.

Maybe this is how the religious feel, when others slight their gods. Because there is no reason that someone I don't know getting up in the middle of a picture and leaving of their own accord should anger me so. But it did. It almost felt personal, like they were insulting me by insulting the film. I've only once walked out of a film, and that was because there was a technical fault which caused no sound. That's not what happened here. These people came to the theatre, chose this film, paid their money, and sat through half, before getting up and walking out. Now, I don't know these people, maybe they had places to go, in which case why were you in a theatre to begin with? Maybe they're samplers, the sort who drift through life trying things out but never committing. Or maybe it was just, after forty some odd minutes, they realised this wasn't the film they were expecting and decided to leave.

And I cannot for the life of me fathom that sort of decision making process. It completely escapes me. Alien. I have sat through terrible films. Boring films. Films that were marketed wrong and turned out to be absolute drudge. But I paid my money, and I made my bed, as it were. It's different if you're at home, watching a rubbish DVD or Sunday afternoon rerun. You can turn those off, find something new. But going to and later walking out of a theatre, it just seems rude to me. Live with your regret, and next time make a more informed decision.

I, for one stayed, and am pretty certain I enjoyed Killing Them Softly. Hit the jump for the review, which contains spoilers that also stayed through the entire film.
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