Archive for October, 2007
Filed Under halloween
David was up at 6:00 this morning, all excited about Halloween. That lasted him through school, but he’s napping now; resting up for tonight. When he gets up, Diane will turn pizzas into Jack O’Lanterns for dinner (eaten while watching It’s the Great Pumpkin, Charlie Brown!); then she’ll take David Trick-or-Treating with some friends while I stay home, pop in Return of the Vampire, and man the candy bowl for the neighborhood kids. Man, I love Halloween.
Hope you have a great one too.
Filed Under giant monsters, giant robots, godzilla, kill all monsters, robbie the robot
I meant to share this picture with you earlier. It was given to me at FallCon by an artist pal of mine, Charles Raymond. Actually, Charles gave it to me to give to my son because Charles knows how into Godzilla David is. I love that he included a giant Robbie the Robot for Godzilla to fight.
Get ‘em, Robbie! Kill All Monsters!
Filed Under Uncategorized
So you know how sometimes you put on your winter coat for the first time of the season and you find a $20 bill in the pocket? The equivalent of that happened to me last Thursday with some vacation time at work. Turns out I’d taken off this week and forgotten about it, so I spent last Thursday and Friday wrapping up some projects that I needed to complete before being gone. Sorry I just sort of disappeared for a couple of days there.
What this also means is that content will be a bit light this week, but I’m going to try hard to still post everyday. I finally got broadband at the house (I know!), otherwise I wouldn’t have even tried to post anything this week, but the faster connection has mostly highlighted how slow my virus-infested computer really is, so I’m still not going to be up to full speed till next week.
Like today, for instance. I’m hoping that showing you this fantastic 20,000 Leagues-inspired painting by Patrick Reilly will serve as a substitute for actual news or thought. (Thanks to Grant Gould, who knew I’d love it, for the link.)
Filed Under black canary, wonder woman
Thanks to photo chutney for the picture of Wonder Woman and one of her “friends.”
“We are no longer doing movies with women in the lead.”
I’ve been consciously avoiding talking about the Jeff Robinov debacle and how it does or doesn’t affect a possible Wonder Woman movie. If you don’t know about it, Nikki Finke — who broke the story — has the details. Essentially though, Warner Brothers’ President of Production Robinov allegedly made a statement that “we are no longer doing movies with women in the lead.” Warner Brothers has denied that he made the statement, but it’s led folks to speculate about whether it’s not a true statement in practicality, even if it’s not a written policy.
The reason I’ve been avoiding it because I don’t like to speculate about that kind of thing. I’m all for other people doing it — in fact, I find that kind of fascinating — but I don’t enjoy it myself. It just gets me ticked about stuff that may or may not be real and I like my blood pressure where it is. If Robinov did say it, of course it’s stupid and he should be appropriately disciplined. If he didn’t say it… well, I think a close eye still needs to be kept on not only Warner Brothers, but all the Hollywood studios to see what kind of female-led movies they’re coming out with. Not a Big Brother kind of eye, but an Interested Consumer kind of eye.
None of this is new though. In fact, I already blogged about it four months ago. The only reason I’m bringing it up again is that the discussion around it has now become a news item (or at least it was two weeks ago, which is how far behind I am in my blog reading). Even the angle on how it affects a potential Wonder Woman movie is a moot point. Even if Warner Brothers was a bastion of feminist movie making, it still follows that the development of the beleaguered Wonder Woman movie will be affected by audience reaction to Wonder Woman in the Justice League movie. I don’t see that Robinov’s views or WB’s policies are going to change that.
Wonder Woman casting
The latest names thrown into consideration for the role of Wonder Woman are Christina Milian (who will appear on an upcoming episode of Smallville) and Shannyn Sossamon (Moonlight). I’m not fond of either choice from a visual standpoint. Milian has a young, cutesy look that I don’t think is appropriate; Sossamon looks too frail. Wonder Woman needs to look like she can kick my ass.
Mahfood’s Wonder Woman
Which may be a large reason why I’m not especially fond of Jim Mahfood’s interpretation of Wonder Woman for the Wonder Woman Day auction. I love the confidence she displays in the piece, but she doesn’t look physically powerful enough. Wonder Woman isn’t just a confident woman. She’s an Amazon.
But back to casting: Emily Deschanel as Wonder Woman?
Not really, but it looks like the star of Bones is a fan.
Street reaction to Wonder Woman
Valerie D’Orazio, another fan, proves how iconic Wonder Woman is.
Who is Wonder Woman?
Amy Reads didn’t have to think as hard as I did about who Wonder Woman is; she knew it all along: “I never felt the need to ask, ‘Who Is Wonder Woman?’ because I already knew. She was us all. She is me, this Girl-Child turned Woman, this once-wearer of secret identity under banal school uniform. Wonder Woman is, above all else, the potential for greatness.”
“Canary needs to learn how to lead.”
Changing the subject to Black Canary, Silver Bullet ran an interview with Justice League of America writer Dwayne McDuffie in which McDuffie talked about Canary’s leadership ability. I can’t read the Silver Bullet site at work for some reason, so I found out about the interview via the CBR message board. I’ll let you read his comments for yourself, but I’m impressed (though not surprised) that McDuffie’s spent some time thinking about Canary as the leader and how that might work out. I’m looking forward to seeing his thoughts played out in the series.
“‘…if I could just…if I could just…there!’ Aaaaaand stab.” (Green Arrow/Black Canary SPOILERS)
I’m not a Judd Winick fan, much less an apologist for him, but I actually buy his explanation for why Canary stabbed Green Arrow in the throat rather than use a non-lethal tactic. Yes, his Star Wars analogy is lame and yes, his point is that he essentially had to fudge the story to make it work, but I think that his explanation holds up. Especially when you consider that Canary didn’t actually believe it was Ollie in the first place.
I also notice that Winick’s “Of course we weren’t going to really kill Ollie” speech possibly sheds some light on his statement a while back that they were considering “killing” off Black Canary. A real death for either character doesn’t make sense. Ollie was just recently resurrected and, figuratively speaking, so was Canary (thanks to Gail Simone and others). Even though Winick doesn’t mention it in his explanation, it’s not hard to connect the dots and figure out that the original plan was for Black Canary to be kidnapped by the Amazons and have Ollie go looking for her. And while I think it would be really cool that the Amazons wanted Black Canary, having her search for a kidnapped and captive Ollie is by far the more interesting story.
Filed Under azrael, harry potter, neil gaiman, writing is hard
The Return of Azrael
I don’t talk much about Azrael, but there was a time when he was one of my favorite comics characters. He eventually turned into a directionless mess, but when he started out he had a cool name, an interesting origin with tons of potential, a great supporting cast, and the coolest costume in the history of superheroes.
I hate that his ongoing series was allowed to continue far past the point where Denny O’Neil knew what to do with the character. He should’ve been retired when Denny ran out of ideas, but even though DC rode the Azrael horse until it died, I’ve always believed that the right creators could revive the character and do something really great with him. There’s just too much potential there.
Marc Andreyko started hinting at a possible return in Manhunter and I’m eager to see where that goes when Manhunter finally returns from hiatus. In the meantime though, Comic by Comic notices an Azrael appearance on the cover of an upcoming issue (#8, if my figuring is correct) of Frank Tieri and J. Calafiore’s Gotham Underground. Of course, Spoiler — another dead Batman ally — is on the same cover, so maybe that issue focuses on fallen friends or something. It’s nice to see Az’s face on a comic again anyway.
Realism and Superhero Comics
I’m not a Garth Ennis fan, so I’ve never been tempted by Hitman, but this review (you have to scroll down a ways) made me want to read JLA/Hitman. Mainly the part where Ennis explains why realism and superhero comics don’t mix: “because there are real situations where men have to kill to succeed, and Superman and Batman don’t really have the ‘moral courage’ to get their hands dirty.” It’s an interesting opinion that I don’t disagree with. The Never Kill manifesto is something that needs serious exploration and possible change if superhero comics are to embrace “realism” as part of what they are.
I Love My Dead, Gay Dumbledore
I wish I’d thought of that line from Heathers myself, but I totally stole it from my fellow Newsarama blogger Tom Bondurant who said it when the Newsarama group was discussing this story amongst themselves. Anyway, I’m sure you’ve heard the story by now about J.K. Rowling’s recently outing Dumbledore at Carnegie Hall during her Open Book Tour.
I agree with some of Ian Randal Strock’s thoughts on it in that if fans want to ignore that bit of information, they certainly can since Rowling never made it part of the stories. But I disagree with Strock’s assertion that it just doesn’t matter since it’s not part of “canon.” Fans who want to ignore Dumbledore’s sexuality — as revealed by his creator — will have to make a conscious effort to do so. Whether it’s in the books themselves or not, the fact is now in the public consciousness and Dumbledore is irrefutably gay. Ignoring that fact isn’t so much a valid choice as it is simple denial.
And so, to Strock’s question, “So what?” I say that this is kind of important because there are Harry Potter fans who didn’t think they knew any gay people before this announcement. And now, for the first time in their lives, they realize that someone they really cared about (fictional though he may be) was gay. And it’s going to force them to take a hard, inward look and decide how they’re going to respond to that news.
Neil Gaiman’s Dog Looks Like Krypto
During hunting season anyway.
Filed Under giant robots, kill all monsters
No giant monster links today. Everyone’s about the robots lately.
The illustration for this post is from a cool shirt you can order from Threadless.com. It’s called Transfarmers. Heh!
Gaga goods has something called a RoboCard that holds CDs and toilet paper! And it comes in Giant and Crazy Monster varieties. So, if you’re the kind of person who enjoys giant or crazy monsters and listening to music while you take care of your business, gaga has the product for you.
I’ve never really wanted to visit Japan until now. It looks like a beautiful country and all, but the real draw would be this giant robot piloting simulator. I think I could get a tax deduction for “research” on Kill All Monsters!, don’t you?
Filed Under 30 days of night, steve niles
I’m so unqualified to write an unbiased 30 Days of Night review. My brother-in-law Dave and I happened to run into Grant Gould at the theater last night, so we all sat together. After the movie, Grant asked me what I thought and my only response was, “Perfect.”
Dave pointed out some plot holes to me later and he has valid points, but I can’t help but dismiss them. Maybe it’s that I’m just really familiar with the 30 Days of Night story and filled in gaps based on what I knew from the comics. Maybe it’s just that I was incredibly excited to see this movie after waiting five years for it and the giddiness hasn’t worn off yet. Whatever it is, I’m still thinking the movie was pretty much perfect.
The only thing I missed from the comic was the scene at the end of the first issue when Eben and Stella look out over the ice fields and see the line of vampires advancing towards town. It’s a great moment in the comic and I’m not sure why they left it out of the movie. They hint at it. In fact, I’m pretty sure that the moment is there; you just never get to see what Eben and Stella do at that moment.
Everything else was spot on. The comic’s limited by its three-issue format and reads a little choppy in the original issues. It skips from the vampires’ appearance at the end of #1 to almost the end of the 30 days as #2 opens. The trade collections fix that as much as possible by adding some extra story pages, but the movie is able to really dig in and explore the entire experience of being stuck up there in Barrow with all those vampires.
It also simplifies the plot a bit from the comic. The comic explains more about who the vampires are and why they’re going to Barrow and has some extra characters. There’s a group in New Orleans that knows what’s going on and try to stop it, and there’s some infighting amongst the vampires about whether or not all of this is a good idea. The movie takes that out and does a slick, smooth job of doing it so you never miss it, but I’m curious about what’ll happen if there’s a sequel.
Both the New Orleans group and the infighting lead to important elements in Dark Days (a movie that it sounds like Raimi would like to make), so it’ll be interesting to see how a Dark Days movie solves the challenge of telling the story without them. It can be done and I’ve already worked out in my head how I would do it, but I’m curious to see how they do it. Dark Days is a more complex story than 30 Days of Night, so it’ll require some thought to get it all right. Fortunately, this movie had no shortage of thoughtful people working on it, so I’m not fearful about a hypothetical sequel at all.
See how this isn’t even a real review? I’m sorry about that, but I’m just way too deep into geek mode to think critically about it.
Filed Under halloween, horror, what's all this then?
If you haven’t seen these movies, SPOILERS BELOW.
Halloween 4: The Return of Michael Myers
At the end of Halloween II, it looked like Michael Myers and Dr. Loomis were both burned alive. Fortunately for the franchise, that wasn’t actually the case, so here we are several years later and Michael escapes captivity again and decides to go after Laurie Strode’s daughter, Jamie Lloyd (named after Jamie Lee Curtis, no doubt). Even the considerably less resilient Dr. Loomis managed to escape the flames.
Since little Jamie is only ten years old, we need another teen-aged girl for Michael to menace. Fortunately again (funny how these things work out), Jamie is a foster child to the Carruthers family who just so happen to have a teen daughter named Rachel.
Laurie Strode is said in this movie to have died in a car crash, but we find out in Halloween H20 that she faked her death. Kind of a jerky thing to do, leaving her daughter to a foster family instead of taking her into hiding with her. Of course, H20 wants to ignore the three movies I’m talking about today so that Jamie doesn’t even exist in them, but it’s not that easy as far as I’m concerned. I’ll talk more about that next time though.
I liked the element of Michael terrorizing a younger child. Not because I’m sadistic, but because I knew that she wasn’t going to die (that’s against the rules of these things) and I enjoyed watching her match wits against this hulking man who’s arguably childlike in his mental development.
Speaking of “this hulking man,” I was a bit confused at the DVD documentaries on this movie and the next one where they kept referring to Michael Myers as The Shape. That’s not something he’s ever called in the films, so I got curious about where that came from. According to Wikipedia (for what that’s worth), “Some fans and even cast and crew of the films sometime call the character The Shape, which is what some of the actors playing the character are credited as. This dates back to the script for the first film in which Michael Myers is referred to by name only twice, in the beginning and end scenes; at all other times, with the exception of dialogue, he is simply referred to as a ’shape’ due to his face not being visible.” So, the way I figure it, calling Michael “The Shape” is the Horror Nerd equivalent of referring to the Marvel Universe as OU812 or whatever it is that Marvel Nerds call it.
The relationship between Rachel and Jamie was really sweet. Rachel isn’t played as a complete saint who willingly sacrifices her whole social life to take care of poor, troubled Jamie. She does sacrifice, no doubt, but she has to be reminded occasionally by her dad that that’s the right thing to do. Which is nice, because it makes her even more heroic when we realize that she’s actually giving something up to watch over her foster sister. And for Jamie’s part, she’s not just a frightened, little girl. She’s also very sweet and funny. I really enjoyed watching the two of them interact.
I haven’t mentioned Dr. Loomis much because frankly his role here is the same as it always is. He runs around telling everyone how dangerous Michael is and shows up at the end to freak out and preside over Michael’s apparent demise.
The cliffhanger to this one was cheesy, but amazingly effective. It was cheesy because Michael abruptly goes from being simply deranged to being this supernatural force whose Evil Essence can be transferred to Jamie when she touches his supposedly dead body. That’s dumb. But seeing her reenact Michael’s opening scene from Halloween with her foster mom made me really anxious to see Halloween 5 and find out what was going to happen next.
Four out of five shotgun blasts to the chest.
Halloween 5: The Revenge of Michael Myers
Unfortunately, the payoff to 4’s cliffhanger is lame. Jamie hasn’t gone completely evil and her foster mom (inexplicably referred to as her step-mom all through this movie) isn’t even dead; just injured. Jamie hasn’t spoken since the incident though and has been committed to the mental wing of the local children’s hospital.
Michael, who obviously didn’t die last movie (I mean, it wasn’t even convincing as you were watching the last movie), has spent the last year letting an old hermit nurse him back to health. But it’s Halloween night again, which means that Michael suddenly decides to kill the hermit he’s been living with for a year and go looking for Jamie again.
Dr. Loomis is still around, and he of course (because he’s just about as crazy as Michael, I’ve decided) interprets Jamie’s reoccurring dreams about Michael as evidence that Michael’s still alive. Which just provides further excuse for Loomis to run around raving about Michael in yet another Halloween movie. Really, Loomis is tiresome, but not as much as he deserves to be just because I actually like Donald Pleasance in this role. I didn’t care for him as Blofeld in You Only Live Twice and he’s unconvincing as the President in Escape from New York, but I like him in these movies. He’s annoying, but he’s also always right about Michael, so I cut him some slack.
Rachel Carruthers is back briefly in this one, but she’s killed pretty quickly. The new teen screamer is Rachel’s friend Tina who also has a really sweet relationship with Jamie. Unlike Rachel, who was sort of bookish in the Laurie Strode tradition, Tina is a partier. She’s the kind of girl you expect to be killed quickly in slasher films because she’s always ready for sex and nothing sets off a psychopathic killer like a girl who’s just had or is having or is intending to have sex.
(Speaking of which, why is it that teen couples always have such screwed up relationships in these movies? It’s always the same: the guy is a total self-centered, drunken butthole and the girl constantly reminds him of it and calls him names, even as she’s taking off her shirt for him.)
Anyway, back to Tina. Though she likes to drink, smoke, and fool around, she’s written against type in her devotion to Jamie. She visits Jamie at the hospital all the time and talks to her like a normal person, even though she knows Jamie’s not going to answer her. It’s very endearing.
The cliffhanger on this one is just as good as on 4. Partway through the movie a guy gets off the bus in Haddonfield. We never see his face, but we know he’s cool because he wears a black duster and black, silver-tipped cowboy boots. And we know he’s mean ’cause he kicks a dog as soon as he’s off the bus. When the police actually capture Michael Myers, we see the mystery man go into the jail and then we watch helplessly outside as chaos erupts inside. There’s screaming, gunfire, and explosions, then Jamie goes inside to check it out and finds Michael’s cell empty with the bars all mangled, leaving a gaping hole.
Who is the mystery man? What does he want with Michael? Why does he have the same tattoo as Michael? Why is that mark also scratched into a wall in Michael’s house? Stay tuned!
Four out of five pitchfork impalements.
Halloween: The Curse of Michael Myers
This one’s most notable for starring Paul Rudd as Tommy Doyle, the kid Laurie Strode was babysitting in the first Halloween. Thanks to Friends, Anchorman, The 40 Year Old Virgin, and Knocked Up, Rudd can pretty much make me laugh just by standing there. Not that this is a funny role for him, but the fondness was already there and I was eager to see him try to kick Michael’s butt.
Michael’s victim this time is a relative named Kara Strode who’s moved with her family into the old Myers house. It’s never really explained how these Strodes are related to Laurie Strode, which is kind of frustrating, but between their last name and their new home, they’re destined for trouble.
We learn early on that the mysterious man from 5 was a member of a Druidic cult (gotta work that Halloween connection!) and that Michael is their servant-assassin. He was possessed almost from birth by an evil spirit called Thorn that now threatens to possess Kara’s son Danny. Also, Jamie — who I guess was also taken by the mystery man at the end of 5 — has been raised for the last several years by the Druids and was raped by them in order to produce a child that they could sacrifice. When Jamie escapes with her baby, pursued by Michael, she manages to get the child into Tommy Doyle’s hands and the battle lines are drawn. The rest of the movie is Tommy, Kara, and Dr. Loomis (who for some reason no longer has the nasty burn scarring that he’s been sporting for the last two movies) trying to keep Danny and the baby safe from Michael (also no longer scarred) and the Druids.
Unfortunately, the Druids aren’t really that scary. They are at first, but we eventually realize that they’re just businesspeople who hope to use the occult to tap into whatever power Michael has. Just how that’s going to work isn’t really explained. And Michael’s basically acting as their flunky diminishes him. He’d be a good flunky to have, no doubt, but it’s sad to see him reduced to that.
Fortunately, he doesn’t stay that way for long. Pretty much as soon as we learn the true, disappointing identities of the Druids, Michael decides he doesn’t want to work for them anymore and starts hacking them apart. At that point, the movie gets really good again.
Three out of five electrocuted deejays.
Next time: Laurie Strode returns in H20 and Resurrection.
Filed Under batman, gilmore girls, legion of super heroes, private practice, steve canyon
Some quick movie/TV news:
The CW is shutting down the KidsWB! Saturday morning programming block. That had me nervous at first about the fates of The Batman and Legion of Super Heroes, but the most recent update to the article says that those shows will continue as long as they’re popular. Just maybe not on CW.
I didn’t know there was a Steve Canyon TV show in the late ’50s. Now the Milton Caniff estate is trying to drum up interest and funds for a complete restoration and DVD set by selling a sample DVD.
Chris from The Gilmore Girls will soon be smooching Addison on Private Practice. First Lauren Graham and now Kate Walsh? Lucky, lucky man.
Filed Under halloween, horror, what's all this then?
I watch a ton of TV and movies, but there still seems to be a buttload of stuff that apparently everyone else in the universe but me has seen. A lot of it seems to be Japanese (Godzilla movies, Akira, Ringu, or any film Kurosawa ever made), but there’s also plenty of domestic stuff that I either missed out on or just wasn’t interested in when everyone else was. So, I’m starting a new feature called “What’s All This Then?” in which I’ll try to catch up on bits of popular culture (both Western and otherwise) that I’ve been lax about visiting. And then I’ll tell you if I thought it was worthy of all the fuss.
One thing I’ve wanted to check out for a while was all those ’80s slasher flicks. I’m not interested in the slasher genre per se, but I love mythos and continuity, and franchises like Halloween, Friday the 13th, and Nightmare on Elm Street all have me curious to see just how they keep the story progressing from movie to movie. In fact, I had zero interest in the Saw movies until I recently saw a trailer for Saw 4 that came right out and said that new Saw movies are now an annual, Halloween tradition. With four in the can and the promise of more, I’m suddenly interested in seeing how the whole thing works together.
So, to kick off my investigation of slasher franchises, I thought I’d start with the first one (not counting Psycho) and watch all nine Halloween films. If you’re the only other person in the world who hasn’t seen these, be warned: SPOILERS BELOW.
Halloween has bad acting, horrible dialogue, and a ridiculous, early shot of Michael and his parents standing in front of the house as the camera slooooowly pulls back from them. Michael stands there, motionless, holding his bloody knife while his folks patiently wait for a response to their questions that never comes. The movie’s also got one of the worst cases of “telling, not showing” that I’ve ever seen. We get zero insight into why Michael Myers does what he does. I kept trying to make connections between his victims and the idea of babysitters neglecting their charges, but I might have been way off. The sequels certainly never explored that idea. All we have by way of motivation is Dr. Loomis’ running around telling everyone that Michael’s Evil. I guess we’re just supposed to take that at face value.
However, our not knowing Michael’s motives makes him unpredictable and that much more frightening. And in spite of it’s heavy flaws, Halloween is undeniably spooky. I love that Carpenter makes us wait a good, long time before Michael starts killing. Before it ever gets dark, we’re treated to scene after scene of him just standing on street corners and in the bushes, watching his future victims. Even when night falls, Michael spends a lot of time just watching people in their homes. Sometimes from outside; sometimes from in. It totally taps into that irrational fear that Someone’s In The House. The killing is a necessary payoff, but it’s secondary to the tension that Carpenter creates early in the movie. Some people criticize Halloween for being slow, but I loved that about it.
Also, that cliffhanger ending was teh awesome.
Four out of five knife stabs.
I like that this picked up right where Halloween left off, but I was mostly disappointed. It looks like Carpenter just wanted to keep it going after the success of the first one and because he’d left himself an opening to. Like I said before, the babysitter connection to his victims is discarded and now it becomes all about finishing the job he started with Laurie Strode (Jamie Lee Curtis) in the first movie.
In the DVD commentary for H20, Carpenter admits coming up with the Laurie-is-Michael’s-sister angle on the fly while writing the script because he’d gotten stuck and didn’t know where to take the story. It shows. Halloween II is just Michael following Laurie to the hospital to kill her, but going through the rest of the Emptiest Hospital on Earth first in order to pad the movie out to an hour-and-a-half.
Still, it had some nice, scary moments, so:
Two out of five hot tub drownings.
Halloween III: The Season of the Witch
I knew going in that Halloween III wasn’t about Michael Myers, but I was convinced that I wouldn’t let that taint my view of it. I would just watch it on its own merits and review it that way.
In concept, it wasn’t a bad idea to keep the series going. Instead of making all the movies about Michael, make it an anthology series. Just switch the story to another madman trying to kill a bunch of kids on Halloween.
Only they made the madman an evil mask manufacturer who was planning to sacrifice all the trick-or-treaters to the pagan gods by having their masks turn their little faces to alien-insect-infested goo at a particular time on Halloween night. They never did explain how that works. Or why he used manbots as minions.
Actually, the plot is cheesy enough to be awesome if you’re expecting it and willing to just have fun with it. But it’s not scary at all. It’s not a horror movie, it’s an awful scifi thriller. So:
One out of five head melts.
Next Time: The Return, Revenge, and Curse of Michael Myers