Friday, December 12, 2014

Films I'm looking forward to: Kingsman: The Secret Service (Red Band Trailer)


I'm not 100% sold on this film.

Mostly because of the creator of the comic book the film is based on.

Say what you will about Mark Millar and his work, the guy is a wildly prolific, idea-generating machine. Not to downplay his talent or anything, but a big reason why he's so successful is because his comics are ready made for the movies, each one seems to be built off a shockingly simple, but surprisingly interesting little hook. He's responsible for creating Wanted (the comic was much better than the movie... although it wasn't all that great either really). He was one-half of the team that created the Marvel Ultimate Universe, an umbrella title for a series of relaunched/rebooted classic comics that ended up heavily influencing a large amount of the look, design, and feel of Marvel's current movies. He also wrote the big Civil War crossover mini-series, which is what they're basing the next Captain America film on. He created Superman: Red Son, a comic that asked the question: What if Kal-El had crash landed in Russia during the Cold War? He made one called Superior, that was about a crippled boy who is offered the power of a Superman-like hero by the Devil, but at the cost of his soul, and another called Nemesis that was basically: What if Batman was a super villain? He also created the comic book called Kick-Ass, which was nominally about: What is real-life people tried to be superheroes?

I wasn't a fan of some of those, the last two especially, they were especially gross and offensive, and that's the problem with some of Mark Millar's work. You can look up the details, if you want. I mean, he's not as bad as Garth Ennis, of course, but in a nutshell, his work can often make him seem like a huge fucking douchebag. Enough of one that I stopped buying his work for awhile.

But then here's the other thing... sometimes he seems completely cool. 

He wrote some of the Authority, a comic which not only changed a lot of how comics are presented, but featured the first gay superhero couple, and they were treated as having a normal, healthy relationship. Granted, the ideas and initial 12 first issues were all by Warren Ellis--who is amazing--but still... Millar did a good job on that book. He also wrote a comic called Supercrooks, an Ocean's Eleven-like super-villain heist story which was not only pretty fun, but also surprisingly positive. He wrote Old Man Logan, an Unforgiven meets Mad Max dystopian-alternate-future type Marvel book, which is easily my own personal favorite Wolverine story, and would make a great movie... but that will never happen. He also just finished a comic called Starlight that is about an old man who used to be a Buck Rogers type of hero, but when he got home, no one--including his own kids--believed him. Everyone considered him a joke. And then one day, that far off planet he once saved contacts him again. They need him to come back. They need a hero again. They need him. It's a fun and positive swashbuckling tale about a hero. 

See, these were all great books. They were smart and creative and not asshole-y. These books make me want to be a fan. Sometimes it's almost like he's two different people. 

Currently, he's working on MPH, about a quartet of small-time hoods that find a bottle of pills that give them super speed. It's... eh... it sometimes falls uncomfortably close to using offensive racial stereotypes. I'm not that into it, but I can totally see it becoming a movie. He's also--slowly--putting out one called Jupiter's Legacy, an alternate world tale where superheros appeared and changed the course of the world Post-WW2. However, years later, with no villains or wars left, their super-powered children grow up as Celebutantes, dumb, mean, indolent, and eventually, murderously jealous of their own parents. It's really slow to come out for various reasons, but still... it's just great. I love this book, it's imaginative and cool, and the fact that it's drawn by Frank Quitely certainly helps. I wish it would come out more often.

And that's how it is with Millar... depending on the book, you can either love his stuff, or think he's a complete fucking douchbag ass wipe. There's no in between.

But anyway, as I was saying,,, 

Mark Millar is a big-time friend of Hollywood, because half his books are ready-made Elevator Pitches that end up making good money, which causes the rest of his books to be snatched up and developed into films.

Like this book here: Secret Service

Secret Service is now a film by Matthew Vaughn called Kingsman: The Secret Service. Vaughn directed X-Men: First Class, so to me, that's a plus. On the other hand, I never finished Secret Service the comic. I think I only bought one issue. It didn't grab me. It's your basic spy thriller thing, very heavy on the classic Bond tropes, and all about a super secret agent that recruits his young fuck-up of a nephew into... well... The Secret Service obviously. I didn't like the first trailers, but then this red band one turned out to be much more fun, so... here we are. 

Just fyi, there's some swearing in this one, if you're the sensitive type. Not that this should surprise you, it is a red band trailer, after all. 

Okay! Let's watch...



Not bad. It looks like it might be fun. Maybe. It seems a lot like Kick-Ass, doesn't it? Tone-wise? I didn't watch the second Kick-Ass, I heard it was shit, but the first was fun. Kind of. You know what actually concerns me? See the tag on the poster I included at the top? "This Fall" it says... Oops. Missed that date, huh? That means the film was pushed back. Why was it pushed back? I have no idea, but it's usually NOT because the film is righteously fucking awesome, know what I mean?

We shall see,
Jon

I do like their symbol...


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Films I'm looking forward to: Mad Max Fury Road, the Theatrical Trailer





So this showed up yesterday...

I've been talking about/thinking of/looking forward to this film forever, mostly because it has been in one form of production or another for well over a quarter of a decade now. Originally, the film was supposed to star the original Max himself, well known Crazy DouchebagMel Gibson. But then God and the Iraq War said: "Stop it. No." and production was shut down for years. Years. As in, for most of the past decade. Crazy, right? Years, until finally, quietly, it all started up again. In Nambia, principal photography had finally begun... supposedly. At first, there were only whispers and hints. It was honestly unclear if anything was actually happening at all.

At the time, in 2013, I said thisIgnoring wars, terrorist actions, storms, local genocides, and who knows how many other plagues sent by a vengeful All Mighty, Mad Max: Fury Road has spit in the eye of God and is well underway, it might even be done filming as we speak. And I just want to state for the record, I fully support this. I love the Mad Max movies and can't wait to see Tom Hardy in this role. Okay sure, his Bane was ridiculous and stupid, but that was mostly due to the fact that the character is inherently stupid and so was the script, the guy is great and I can't wait to see his spin on that perennial post-apocalyptic wandering ronin Max. 

I was obviously very excited then, and by nothing other than just the idea that the film was happening. No pictures, no film clips, no nothing, that's the depth of my love for the series, kids. Of course, in 2013, I was also excited to see Now You See Me, apparently... what can I say? I guess I'm easily excited. We all have regrets, right? I didn't know any better then, but I eventually learned the folly of that particular hope... we all did...  We all did...

Whatever. Anyway...

Then Comic Con happened... WOOO!

The footage looked amazing. Incredible. So good. Way better than you could have ever dared to hope. Sure, sure, there's a good chance that it could just be an awesome trailer and the movie could still be an ungodly piece of shit, that crap happens all the time. But still, hope springs eternal, it certainly looked like it's everything I'd want from a new Mad Max film. 

But then, to me, the formula is simple.

You put in a little Tom Hardy as "Mad" Max Rockatansky, the warrior Max... In the roar of an engine, he lost everything and became a shell of a man, a burnt out, desolate man, a man haunted by the demons of his past. A man who wandered out into the wasteland to die. And it was here, in this blighted place, that he learned to live again...


Add in an amazing-looking Charlize Theron, with a shaved head and cyborg arm as The Imperator Furiosa, leading a battered convoy across the endless wasteland...


Plus a butt-load of crazy...


And it's gonna be fantastic.

Right? Let's watch the new trailer...



Awesome. Let's watch it again... Go on. It's okay. I'll wait. 

So amazing, right? It strikes such a great tone. It's so exciting and wild. Seriously, that is a fine God damn trailer right there, people. Fine and dandy. So, what's it gonna be about? Well, I'm not entirely sure. If I were to guess, I'd think it probably goes something like this: Max gets caught by a bunch of Crazy-ass Desert Rats who are chasing after Charlize Theron's convoy because it's hauling fertile ladies. Maybe gas too. Something like that. It doesn't matter. Whatever it is, it has value, so people want it. Desperate people. Dangerous people. Crazy people. And as a result: The White Line Nightmare, my friends. It turns into one big ass chase, petal to the metal, hammer down, and high octane, full bore asphalt and blood. Max and Charlize end up banding together in order to show the ragged filth of the Wastelands exactly what's what, get me? You know what I'm talking about. Just like you must know that it sounds good to me. How about you? It should. I mean, really if Days of Thunder taught us only one thing, it's this: Rubbing is racing, amirite? 

Rubbing is racing.

Here's an odd thing to ponder: Did you know there are people out there in the Wilds of the Internet who think the original trilogy of Mad Max films aren't in linear order? That there are people out there who never noticed that the Interceptor was the same car in the 1st and 2nd films? And that some of those people never caught what the car represented toward the character?

Weird, right?

Also, because we're here... what's the deal with Bruce Spence's characters in The Road Warrior and Mad Max: Beyond Thunderdome? Are they the same guy? If so, why doesn't he and Max seem to recognize each other? If not, why cast the same guy, and then have him look, dress, and act in a very similar manner, because that's just being mean to the audience.

Anyway...

In the end, I'm just gonna say it... It looks like we've maybe got us something fantastic here, kids. Hopefully. Maybe. I honestly can't wait to find out. Also, it should be noted that this film comes out on May 1st, 2015, and then on May 15th, 2015... Avengers: Age of Ultron. 

Truly, what a lovely day,
Jon


Monday, December 8, 2014

Wanderers





Here's an interesting little thing I have for you to watch today. It's called Wanderers and it's an animated short film by digital artist Erik Wernquist all about Space Exploration, or more appropriately, the possible future of Space Exploration. I'm a big fan of that idea, so I couldn't resist.

Especially once I read the synopsis...

Wanderers is a vision of humanity's expansion into the Solar System, based on scientific ideas and concepts of what our future in space might look like, if it ever happens. The locations depicted in the film are digital recreations of actual places in the Solar System, built from real photos and map data where available.
Without any apparent story, other than what you may fill in by yourself, the idea of the film is primarily to show a glimpse of the fantastic and beautiful nature that surrounds us on our neighboring worlds - and above all, how it might appear to us if we were there.

Well, all right then, that sounds great...

Let's watch.



Brilliant. Seriously. That looked great. I loved it. Plus, that Carl Sagan voice-over was fantastic. Simply fantastic. This is an awe-inspiring little piece. I really liked it. Now, granted, I'm a sucker for this kind of "Greatest Adventure" type of stuff. so your own mileage might vary, but still... you should take four minutes and see the universe.

Jon

Friday, December 5, 2014

Singular






You might not know this about me, but I'm a bit of a fan when it comes to the comic books.

True story, hand to God. I know, unbelievable, right? I mean, I rarely talk about them...

Still, 100% true.

So, keeping that in mind should explain right away why I have posted this particular short film. It's called Singular and it was written by Carlos Esteban Orozco and directed by Juan F. Orozco. As usual when it comes to the short films I post, I don't know much about them. In fact, I basically know nothing about their work. Is it good? Is it bad? I don't know, but this here looks interesting.

Here's the film's synopsis:

In an America where everyone has superpowers, Andy, the only kid who doesn't have one, struggles to escape a group of bullies led by Sofia, who just wants to make Andy's life more miserable than it already is. But what begins as an ordinary 'everyday' beating ends up spiraling out of control, putting our hero in a life-or-death situation where courage, leadership and sacrifice will guide Andy -- and Sofia -- to discover the true meaning of "being special."

I'm always intrigued by the idea of "super powers in the real world". I like exploring the ramifications superpowers would have on society. I like imagining how different types of people would actually use their powers, and how day-to-day life would be changed. I also like thinking about how superpowers in general would actually physically effect the world and the possessor. But that's just me. Like I said, I'm a fan. So, when these stories are done well, I find them really fun, and often a nice alternative to the more traditional comic book superhero tropes.

Unfortunately, the plain truth is these things are rarely done well. In fact, whenever I try on out, I usually end up with something tentative, tone-deaf, and more than a bit dull, something obviously embarrassed by its own genre roots. They're also usually made by dilettantes, people unfamiliar with the genre who think they're bringing some bold and insightful new take to what they consider to be an inert and low end of fiction, when the reality is they're just ignorantly rehashing ideas that are decades old cliches at this point. Or even worse, you get something that neuters all the fantastic right out of the story in favor of something they label as "realistic" and "grounded", or the death knell of all things good and imaginative: "grim and gritty."

Barf.

So, that's the rub... not only do most of these things usually turn out crap, they often end up unintentionally highlighting how ridiculous this stuff really is, turning an ill-conceived project that might have started out as a bit po-faced and dull, into something both embarrassingly unaware and laughably stupid.

Is that what we'll get here? I hope not. We shall see.

Let's watch...



Huh. That was all right. A nice little parable about bullying, I guess. Maybe a little bit too on-the-nose, but then anti-bullying things aren't usually the biggest fans of subtlety, so no big shock there. In the end, the story felt a bit too loose, and a bit naive, really, but it's an 8 minute short film, you can't really get too Epic. I'd be interested in seeing more of the world, though. It seemed to have some interesting ideas going on. It definitely looked good, or at least, professional. I also really liked the portrayal of the powers and all the little quirks that came with them. That was pretty cool. There was a lot of good effect work going on here. On a Technical level, it was very well done. Story? ...eh, not so much. But then, it wasn't terrible either, so your mileage may vary.

If you've got time and you're a fan of this type of thing, you'll probably enjoy the film.

I did.

Love,
Jon

Thursday, December 4, 2014

Time Trap






Stranded in Space, but not in Time...

That's the basic premise of Time Trap, a short film written and directed by Michael Shanks. He's not the same guy as the one from the Stargate TV show, just in case your Nerd ears suddenly perked up at the mention, he's a different guy. But your Nerds Ear should still perk up, because he was most recently responsible for the George Lucas Special Edition parody version of the recent Star Wars: The Force Awakens teaser

The guy's got some skills.

And so... here we are: Time Trap.

Here's the synopsis: After losing control of his engines, bumbling spaceman Fripp finds himself at the mercy of his spaceship. A thrilling descent through an asteroid belt ensues, after which he finds himself marooned on a post-apocalyptic Earth. Without a working spacecraft, the interstellar time-traveler must dip into the dead planet’s history in order to find a way home.

Let's take a look...


Hey, that was not bad. It looked good. It was funny. Although, to be honest, anybody who violently disapproves of Hippies playing Didgeridoos is gonna be a-okay in my book. Either way, that was fun. Definitely worth the 8 minutes.

Take a look,
Jon

Wednesday, December 3, 2014

Films I'm looking forward to: Jurassic World


Somewhere within the ridiculous swirling cacophony that was the Star Wars teaser trailer release bruh-haha, the Jurassic World trailer was lost, and forgotten.

I'm kind of a fan of the Jurassic Park series. Kind of. I guess. Not a huge one, or nothing. I mean, I guess I've seen all of them, maybe twice. The first one was fun, but I probably haven't seen it in 20 years. Part 2 was terrible, as I recall. There's a part in that film that features gymnastics that's a strong contender for the worst moment ever filmed in a movie. Although, to be fair, the part where the bus is hanging over the cliff and the glass is breaking under Julianne Moore's fingers? That was pretty good. And the third one? The third one was okay... wasn't it? I haven't seen it in awhile. Actually, I don't remember very much about that one. Hmmm... Y'know what? Upon closer examination, it turns out it's probably more fair for me to say that I'm not NOT a fan of the Jurassic Park series, than to claim anything else.

Whatever.

Anyway, I guess what I'm trying to say here is that when I heard that Jurassic World--the fourth Jurassic Park film--was happening, I basically had zero interest. I didn't love it. I didn't hate it. It didn't even blip on my radar.

But then I started to hear things...

Chris Pratt. I do like Chris Pratt. Bryce Dallas Howard. I guess I like her in theory, although I'm not sure she's ever been in anything good. Raptor buddies. Buddies? Like a dog? Hmmm... okay, I'm kind of interested. And then there's this, this maybe real, maybe fake piece of supposed concept art. Dinosaur-humanoid hybrids! How crazy awesome are those? Okay, yeah. Yeah, I'm interested. Do you think it's real? Would they actually try to do something crazy like this?

Could we be so lucky?


The trailer actually seems to support it... maybe...

What? You haven't watched the trailer? Well, shit, let's watch it then.



Not bad... Not great either.

Okay, I'm not 100% sold, but I'm kinda sold. It was oddly paced and surprisingly sedate, but still... I'm definitely interested. Even though the story seems to be the exact same story of the exact same idiots doing the exact same idiot stuff that you see in every other Jurassic Park movie, yeah, I'm kind of interested. I liked the glimpse of the Velociraptor hunting pack at the end, with Chris Pratt riding along on the motorcycle, that was nice and crazy. The CGI looked like shit, of course, but then it always seems to look like shit at this stage. Also, during the part when Chris is being chased and you can see the legs of the dinosaur that is gaining on him, it has ankle spurs just like the dinosaur hybrid  does on the far right of that piece of supposed Concept Art that I posted above.

That intrigues me.

Thoughts?
Jon

Friday, November 28, 2014

Films I'm looking forward to: Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens


My story is no different from many of those like me...

I first saw Star Wars in 1977 and my brain exploded. That was it. At that moment, the first of the three Georges (Lucas, Miller, and Romero) took up permanent residence in my head. Now, Lucas and I have had our disagreements in the years since, but despite his constant and seemingly deliberate efforts to run me off, the franchise has never really left me.

Which brings us to this new teaser, the beginning of a new era.

Obviously, this has hit the Internet like a bomb, which is not surprising really, so you've probably seen it already. God knows I've watched it more than a few times at this point.

But let's watch it again...


That was pretty awesome, man.

Quick, but pretty awesome. We don't see much, just some glimpses. We get to see our most of our new heroes, but almost none of the old... We see John Boyega as a Stormtrooper. Daisy Ridley as some kind of dessert scavenger, I guess. Oscar Issac flying an X-wing. We see a few extra details tossed in there, like a cool new roller droid, maybe a new version of an R2 Unit? And we see some of the new gear and ships and worlds, of course. We also get a glimpse of one of our villains carrying a very distinctive lightsaber, which is probably what everyone is going to talk about the most in the wake of this teaser, and is also--probably--Adam Driver, maybe... maybe it's someone else...?

And then they hit us with the famous fanfare from the classic Williams theme and we see the Millennium Falcon taking on some TIE fighters, and well, that basically seals the deal, right?

It certainly did for me.

But here's my problem: The Prequels, of course, because they were fucking awful. In fact, the less said about them, the better, right? Right. But still, their legacy is there. The taint of it exists. And then there's J.J. Abrams. This is my biggest worry, to be honest. I'm not the biggest J.J. Abrams fan in the world, y'see, and I can't help but be afraid that we might be seeing exactly why that is on display right here right now. Abrams is really good at making stuff look super awesome. He has a fantastic eye. He's also really great at coming up with  some pretty cool and attention-grabbing set-ups, but then once you're into the actual film itself, I've found that his stories rarely stick the landings, at least for me. I mean, I don't want to bring up the last Star Trek film, but... after that piece of shit, after the nonsense of Cloverleaf and Super 8, I think it's fair to say there's a good chance he could blow this. Besides, it's happened before, right?

We shall see.... we shall see.


Here's hoping they get it right this time,
Jon