Tuesday, April 21, 2015

Spy vs Guy





This short film is called Spy vs. Guy

The official synopsis: A retired Russian spy hunts down dangerous technology after it falls into unsuspecting hands. Directed by Seth Worley, and written by Seth, Micah Lanier, Neil Hoppe, and Aharon Rabinowitz under the Red Giant banner.

And that's about all I know...

Let's watch.


Not bad. Kind of funny, in a pretty classically slapstick kind of way. Very Peter Sellers. And all while tipping its hat to the old Spy vs. Spy comic. Some of it was really funny, actually. The message delivery system disguised as Weather Alerts made me laugh. It looked good too, kind of a Le Carre aesthetic going on. I really liked the wildly complex, but archaic machinery of his support system, and the amazing-but-dated superspy gear it would provide him. I liked it.

Worth a watch,
Jon

Friday, April 17, 2015

Films I'm looking forward to: Star Wars: The Force Awakens (2nd Teaser) - UPDATED!

Just when I think I'm out...

Have I talked about Star Wars here before? Probably, right? I'm sure I have. Do I need to say more? No? Well then, let's just jump right to it and watch the new teaser...


Revel in it, man. Revel in it.

Yes, it may have broken the Internet yesterday, so you've probably all watched it a million-billion times by now, but I thought since we've now all had a day or so to sit and think about it, we should talk about what there is to love here, because there really is so much here to love...


I think I'm legally required to point out the new rectangular Radar dish on the Millennium Falcon. So, do you see it? Huh? HUH?!?! Good. Moving on, it really is great to see this ship again, huh? The classic moment, the happily familiar done right, the Falcon facing down some TIE fighters. It's just good to see this. It's reassuring. It's a whiz-bang clear hint that they've gotten the touchstones right.


But then you get this too. A crashed X-Wing crumpled in the foreground, and the ruins of a Star Destroyer looming in the background. This is your first indication of the passage of time, that things have changed a great deal. It's fantastic imagery, and very telling.


This is BB8. He's the "new" R2-D2, the new main droid--not that R2 has gone anywhere or anything. BB8 is pretty cool, I think, but the best part about him? He is not CGI, he's all practical effect. That's cool. Plus, it lets you know that these films aren't going to be the total Greenscreen/CGI screaming mess that the Prequels were... at least, not totally.


I love this moment. There's just something incredible about how the X-Wings are coming in over the water here... I love it, it's so good. Add that feeling to the whoosh of the speed and the exhilaration of the roaring engines, a sentiment obviously shared by the pilots, and instead of the dour, poo-faced seriousness you get from some franchises--CoughBatmanVsSupermanCough--you're suddenly feeling the fun of this franchise again, and that's fantastic. The weird split turbine thing on the wings kinda bugs me though...


Speaking of things that bug me, this is Kit Fisto... You heard me. Kit Fisto. Let that sink in for a second. Kit Fisto. Fisto! That's what someone named him. I mean... what the fuck? Fisto? Kit Fisto? I guess they can't all be winners, but shit, man. However, despite this egregiously horrible name, there are idiot "fans" out there who are more upset/confused by his new lightsaber. I don't know why, because it's awesome, except for the obvious reason: They're idiots... Anyway, Kit is the bad guy, as evidenced by his gaunt and striking silhouette, his tattered black cloak, and his red lightsaber. He looks pretty good, really. I just wish his name wasn't Baby Cat Sex Act.

UPDATE: Holy shit! It has been brought to my attention that this guy isn't named Kit Fisto after all--Thank the Maker! Kit Fisto is the squid-head alien, the one that crossed over from Men in Black. Anyway, this guy's name is Rylo Ken... which is still a pretty dumb name.


So, I don't know if this is true or not, but people are claiming this is Gwendoline Christie. I hope so, because she's awesome and so is this suit, so if it's true, together they'll be mega-awesome. Rumor is, this is the soldier who is hunting John Boyega's AWOL Stormtrooper character. I love everything about this look. I love the color. I love the cloak. It's new. It's menacing. This is a good design.


And speaking of good design. I really like the tweeks to the Stormtrooper armor too. I like the idea that things have evolved, because time has passed. And I really like how the design seems to have gone forward, as opposed to the Prequels, where instead of designing it all as if it were the previous incarnation of the equipment/outfits seen in the original movies, everything ended up looking more modern and much sleeker... which was shockingly stupid. So, yep, I'm totally for this. Also, the remnants of the Empire left over since Return of the Jedi now call themselves The First Order. It's a pretty good name, I guess, but The First Order of what...? Business, I guess. Nachos? Maybe... I hope so. I love Nachos.


And then there's this. What else can I really say here except: Awesome. I'm just really glad to see these two again. How could you not be?


Finally, here we have Oscar IsaacDaisy Ridley, and John Boyega as Poe Dameron, Rey and Finn. I'm not quite sold on the names. They're not anywhere near as bad as Kit Fisto, but still... Poe Dameron? Maybe it's just me, but it just sounds so awkward. Poe Dameron. Even Dameron Poe sounds better. I gotta say, the track record of the names so far with these new films is not good, people. Also, I really hope Rey and Finn get last names. Anyway, all of that aside, the three of them definitely look good.

I approve.

Shocking, I know. I never thought it would happen again after The Prequels, but I'm actually excited for more Star Wars. Who would've ever thought that the key to maybe making Star Wars great again was to dump George Lucas? Don't feel bad for him, the man has enough money to buy a solid gold house and rocket car.

However, all that having been said, after watching the teaser, I think it's important to keep two things in mind: Star Trek Into Darkness, and Super 8. Both were good looking films. Star Trek Into Darkness (or more appropriately... STiD) was slick and glossy and fast. It had good looking forward momentum to spare. It was pretty as all get out, and actiony as hell too, well shot and well choreographed. And Super 8 looked just like an Amblin/Steven Spielberg movie from the 80s, almost exactly like a Spielberg movie, in fact. It was amazing how exact it was, actually. The attention to detail, the little quirks and nuances, stunning. And how charming were those kids? Super charming. Super 8 seemed less an imitator of a long gone time, and more an actual artifact.

But both films were terrible.

Mind-numbingly bad.

So, as we all stand here, breathless, giddy with excitment, toes to the edge of a six month slide down into what appears to be a gorgeous-looking update of the much-beloved, and now long gone glory days of a once-favorite franchise, try to remember this, folks, so as to temper your expectations: What we see on display here today? This teaser? This is what J.J. Abrams and his people are good at. In fact, it wouldn't be unreasonable to say that this is what they excel at. They're fucking great at it. They can stir your emotions like no one's business, manipulating you through orchestral cues and sudden imagery until you cry. They're masters of the art of trailer making. So, my advice? Let's all take a small step back from the edge, and keep our fingers and toes crossed that Abrams and his people can do even half as well with the script this time out as they can with the visuals, okay?

Because usually, they can't.


BUT... to end on an upbeat note... Good or bad, no matter how Episode VII ends up this Christmas, Episode VII is going being directed by Rian Johnson. So hold on to that. I am.

The Force is strong within me again,
Jon