Author Archives: J. Fortune

Petty, Theft and Full Moon Fever

Tom Petty died October 2, 2017, at the age of 66. With his band The Heartbreakers, Petty had just completed his final national tour marking the 40th anniversary of their self-titled debut. He left behind an incredible musical legacy and a legion of fans among whom I am proud to count myself a member.

I want to tell you what Tom Petty and his music meant to me. I want to do so without suggesting what his work should mean to you–I want to spare you the generic platitudes that so often follow the death of an icon.

Photo appears courtesy of Kevin Mocker, Mocker’s Photos

My parents never really played the “100 songs for kids” or owned a Rafi album. My siblings and I learned about rock and roll, folk, and soul from the backseat of our parents’ car. My dad brought his love of Bob Seger, Jim Croce, Lynyrd Skynyrd, and Creedence Clearwater Revival on every road trip. My mom peppered every ride to the grocery store and drive to school with Aretha Franklin, Roy Orbison, The Eagles, and heavy doses of Motown.

I first discovered Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers–as many did–through the multi-platinum selling 1989 album Full Moon Fever. My path to fandom was slightly different than most. I was 18 and working part-time. Since I had no expenses, I spent all of my meager income on CDs. I had amassed quite a collection, mostly comprised of artists my parents had introduced on those car rides. I had a CD slipcase housed in a wooden box that held all 60 of my musical treasures.

One night while working late, some nefarious soul broke into my 1985 Mercury Grand Marquis and absconded with $10 in loose change from my cupholder and my entire CD collection. I was, to say the very least, devastated. I remember that drive home from work as one of the most depressing experiences of my young life. The radio in my $600 car only picked up the local country station, so I drove home in silence quietly lamenting the loss of my traveling companions.

The next morning as I got back in the car for my 30 min commute to college, I wondered if maybe the radio might be good to me and at least tune in the local classic rock station. It didn’t.

There are moments in your life when you can look back and divide time between a certain second and everything that came after it. Just as I was about to give up and set the dial to the pop-country sounds available on my radio I dropped my hand to my side and felt something in-between the seats. My skin knew the hard textured plastic to be a CD jewel case.

I had completely forgotten that a few days before I had purchased Full Moon Fever. I bought it because I had heard “Free Fallin” on the radio and felt that the sound fit my tastes. “This band was bound to have a couple more songs that I would enjoy,” I had thought. Why I hadn’t played the CD before that moment is lost to me now. I slid it into the CD player and listened with thankful ears to what would become my favorite album, mostly because it was my only album.

After a month or so of exhausting that record and learning the lyrics to every track, I needed more. At the local record store, I studied the available selections. After much deliberation, I bought a copy of Echo. At the time it was the most recent release. It didn’t sound the same. The music was more subdued, the singer sad, the lyrics were more expressive. I didn’t like it. On repeat listens (remember I only owned two CDs), I came to appreciate the darkness of Echo in contrast to the light of Full Moon Fever.

Not long after purchasing my second Tom Petty record and boring my two best friends to tears analyzing the lyrics, pointing out the musical subtleties and repeatedly calling Tom Petty a genius, I discovered his tour was coming to Columbus, Ohio. I purchased tickets with money I didn’t have and convinced my friends to do the same.

We arrived at the venue early and quickly found our seats. Chatting with several of the people seated around us I quickly discovered that this being my first show placed me in the minority. Most of the other attendees had seen Tom Petty multiple times, a few of them had seen a few shows on this tour following the band from town to town.

The Heartbreakers were amazing to watch. Tom was in complete control of the crowd. The set included most of the hits and went on for nearly 3hrs. I rode the high of that experience all the way home. I quickly began devouring any Tom Petty record that I could find, and within a month I had them all. Those ten records sat perfectly on the shelf above my computer. A complete set. I wrung each album dry for the next year. Listening to those records, I felt I had reached the end of the line. Then I discovered the Playback box set, and the magic began all over again. Every time I felt like I had exhausted the catalog, I would read about another release Tom Petty and the Heartbreakers had played on. I would track them down and begin all over again.

Through Tom Petty’s musical style, I discovered many incredible artists. His music had elements of The Byrds, Bob Dylan, Gram Parsons, and The Flying Burrito Brothers. Tom Petty also played on many tribute albums and in collaboration with artists like Carl Perkins, Johnny Cash, Del Shannon, Roy Orbison, and George Harrison. Through his liner notes, I learned about many artists who played on Tom Petty’s records: Donald Duck Dunn, Robbie Robertson, Ringo Starr, Steve Jordan, Jim Keltner, Richard Manuel. Learning about the artists who worked with Tom Petty taught me about Stax Records, The Band, The Beatles, and many others. I studied each of those artists with the same ferocity with which I had attacked Tom Petty’s catalog.

No matter what I was listening to at the time, I always cycled back to Tom Petty. Every year or so I would plow through my collection again and get something new out of most of the songs. There was always a depression that followed placing that last album back on the shelf. Every time my collection started to feel incomplete, like clockwork, there was a new album a new concert DVD or documentary film. Every two years there was a new tour. Tom Petty became a constant in my world.

Photo appears courtesy of Kevin Mocker, Mocker’s Photos

Lyrically, I found a Tom Petty song for every occasion. Each time I experienced highs and lows in my life, it felt as though Tom had already been there. He became like an older brother going before me into the world and sending back his findings. Tom Petty’s music helped me through a divorce, career changes, the loss of my father, and even the loss of a child. Tom Petty may not have experienced those specific things, but his music told of grief, disappointment, lowered expectations, and loss.

The characters in his songs seemed like real people. The narrative that began with each opening line told of a lifetime. I got to know them all. They weren’t all likable, but they were all relatable. Tom Petty handled each one–hero and villain–with the care and concern that each of us would ask for if it were our story being told.

Being a Tom Petty fan made me a better fan of music in general. His work set a standard of songwriting that each artist must meet to find themselves a place on those shelves that hold my collection. He was a master storyteller with reverence and deep respect for those who came before him. Tom Petty gave me a master’s course in what it means to meet people where they are and see where they are coming from.

Tom Petty’s work was the first music that was truly mine. I discovered it independent of my parent’s tastes, and just as they did with their favorites, I share it now with my own children. They will follow that path to find their own things and pass them on to their children; the big old world keeps spinning round.

The point of this piece is to honestly say thank you to a friend and a mentor: thank you for being a piece of the unfolding journey that is my life. I also want to say thank you to the thief who stole my CDs.  Without you, I might never have dug in and discovered all that Tom Petty had to offer to the soundtrack of my experiences. “Even the losers get lucky sometimes.” (I said I wouldn’t quote lyrics… I lied.)

Tagged , ,

Terminator: Still Waiting on Judgment Day

Remember the early nineties when most everything was great, and we only had two Terminator movies? Two films about time traveling cyborgs trying to change the future by altering the past. Terminator and Terminator 2 were a rare offering in film: a story in two parts with a complete resolution. When Terminator 2 closes we are given a complete story, an ending. Somewhere along the way the series ceased to be “self aware” and in pursuit of an ongoing franchise started pumping out sequels that made me wish Skynet had just wiped us all out in the nuclear fire in 1997.

Image property of 20th Century Fox

Image property of 20th Century Fox

After Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines succeeded in making little sense and less money, the franchise took a break. A break that many of us thought would last forever. However once the dust settled someone realized that since the continuity was already fractured Fox could do whatever they wanted. Terminator: The Sarah Conner Chronicles did the only logical thing, operating in the space between Terminator 2 and 3 allowed  the showrunners to explore the importance of John Conner’s mother. The show wasn’t perfect, but if there had to be additional stories wrung out of the original concept at least original writer and director James Cameron was involved with the project.

Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles lasted for 2 seasons. After the 2nd season ended in a fascinating cliffhanger, it was canceled. Not because the numbers were bad, but to avoid confusion with the new prequel/reboot Terminator: Salvation.  This movie sought to explain what no one cared about; how did Skynet construct the Terminators and make them look human?

If you haven’t put it together this rant is building to a new rant about a new film in the franchise due out in July.  The poorly titled Terminator: Genisys, because when Skynet took over all of our computer systems spellcheck wasn’t compatible.  Genisys sounds so unbelievably terrible that it will most likely do this dead horse of a franchise in, despite the fact it has been optioned as the beginning of a new trilogy of films.

Terminator: Genisys is expected to begin with John Conner sending the Arnold Schwarzenegger  model terminator back in time to look after his mother as a teenager. With that one sentence we have effectively destroyed the only  two movies worth watching in this entire series. This won’t be the tidy universe creation of the 2009 Star Trek reboot. Oh and how does the model T-800 look so old? Time travel aging his organic tissue. Gotcha. makes perfect sense. Especially give how awful the one film without Schwarzenegger turned out. Even director Mcg saw the problem and created the CGI puppet seen in the films climax.

I think I feel worst of all for former Doctor Who star Matt Smith. This is Smith’s first mainstream American film role, and it is going to be in a terrible movie. Casting Smith at first gave me a shred of hope, but that has passed. Now I can only pray that this franchise can and will “self terminate”

Tagged , , , , , ,

Don Pardo: A Voice That Meant So Much

PardoIf you are under 50, then chances are you knew Don Pardo, or at least his rich baritone. For 38 seasons (all but 1)  Pardo was the announcer for Saturday Night Live; each week he could be heard belting out his trademark line “It’s Saturday Night Live”. Whether  intentional on the part of NBC and producer Lorne Michaels, hiring the seemingly straight laced traditional announcer provided an interesting foil and an air of sensibility to the sketch comedy show. Pardo did more, though, than lend an air of legitimacy to the program.  He even appeared in a few sketches and monologues as a parody of himself.

Pardo began his announcer career 70 years ago at NBC. There he handled announcer duties for memorable programs like Jeopardy (pre-Trebek) and The Price is Right (pre-Bob Barker). Pardo was the first voice at NBC to announce an assassination attempt on John F. Kennedy.

Pardo said over the years that he paid careful attention to his voice. He semi-joked to the Associated Press in 1985 that besides being his meal ticket, it was also “my Achilles heel. When I get sick, it’s always my voice.”

He said he carried cough drops everywhere.

He appeared in Woody Allen’s movie “Radio Days,” playing a game show host, and can be heard on recordings by the late Frank Zappa and Weird Al Yankovic, in his “I Lost On Jeopardy” parody. Despite relocating to Arizona in the early 2006, Pardo continued his SNL duties long distance.

Pardo was a familiar voice to generations of radio and TV fans; though, many have never seen his face. Upon the announcement of his death, tributes and remembrances poured in from all over the television industry.

“Any SNL actor will tell u:the ultimate moment of your career was hearing Don Pardo say your name. Each week he represented a dream come true,” tweeted Rachel Dratch, who appeared on the show from 1999 to 2006.

Seth Myers, who spent years on “SNL” before recently beginning his own late-night talk program, wrote, “RIP Don Pardo. A voice that meant so much.”

Don Pardo died August 18, 2014. He was 96.

 

Tagged , , , ,

Something Something of the Planet of the Apes

Ah the reboot, the Hollywood method of pumping new life and new revenue from an existing intellectual property. A way  of turning each franchise into a choose-your-own adventure story. In many ways and though to far less profit, it is what we have done recently here at The Cool Ship.

Image property of 20th Century Fox

Image property of 20th Century Fox

The Planet of the Apes was an absolute revolution when it first hit theaters in 1968. The film boasted the largest FX budget of the time and the sweet baritone of future NRA president, and the guy who seems to love screaming at the end of sci-fi movies, Charlton Heston. The film also starred Roddy McDowall as a frightening realistic (at least for the time) talking ape.

The film is about a team of astronauts who crash land on what they think is an alien planet, but turns out to be the Earth in a distant future. In this future, apes have evolved beyond men while man as we know him has experienced a sort of devolution and has been enslaved. The movie’s beautiful climax when Heston’s character enters “the forbidden zone” and discovers the remains of the statue of liberty is one of the most heartbreaking on celluloid. Planet of the Apes grossed very well for the time.

From that moment forward, for about 10 years, a Planet of the Apes sequel was released bi-yearly, each with an even more ridiculously long title ; Beneath The Planet of the Apes, Battle for the Planet of the Apes, Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes, Stop The Planet of the Apes I Wanna Get Off the musical. That last one was a joke… and not even my joke… it’s from the Simpsons.

Image property of Fox television

Image property of Fox television

The Planet of the Apes sequels are all horrible. I know The Planet of the Apes sequels were awful because they only cost about $4 on Blu Ray… for all of them. That’s roughly 80 cents per film. The original film is available in a standalone Blu ray for $16, or you can get a boxed set of the entire series for $20. I could cite any number of reasons, from decreased budget to watered down scripts to less interesting actors for the shift in quality, but I think you get the idea. I won’t even go into the 2001 reboot except to say that Mark Wahlberg is a pretty poor substitute for Charlton Heston (keep in mind this is 2001 Marky Mark), and the final scene posed questions that could only be answered in a sequel that never came.

image property of 20th Century Fox

image property of 20th Century Fox

2011’s Rise of the Planet of The Apes has taken us back to where it all began. It attempts to answer the question that no one was asking; “how did those apes get so smart, and the humans so dumb”.  The CGI is like nothing ever seen before and as an action movie it does pretty well.

James Franco is a scientist (still with me?) testing a drug meant to reverse the effects of Alzheimer’s in humans on chimpanzees. The tests are shut down when one of the apes goes… oh I can’t help myself … Ape S@#! and cause the entire lot to be destroyed. Franco smuggles one infant chimp out of the lab. The chimp called Caesar is crazy smart due to the Alzheimer’s drug passing from his mother. Caesar ultimately is responsible for giving “rise”, if you will, to The Planet of the Apes.  You can see where this is headed, right?  All and all a fine if unnecessary film addition to an incredibly overworked concept. However, it is successful in showing a logical path to the world we were exposed to in the original film.  The most amazing thing about this movie and the coming sequel Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is Andy Serkis as Caesar. His movements are recorded by a state-of-the-art suit and transcribed for CGI. This setup makes for a most believable sentient monkey. Has he ever been in a movie? As a person?   Serkis achieves what took Roddy McDowall hours of make-up in the original.

I look forward to Dawn of the Planet of the Apes with cautious optimism: we may yet get the follow-up film we have been waiting for since 1968, or we may just as likely get another 80 cent sequel.

Tagged , , , , , , ,

Sherlock Holmes and the case of Oversaturation

image courtesy of Wikimedia

image courtesy of Wikimedia

Is anyone out there not getting enough Sherlock Holmes? With the pending third film in the Robert Downey Jr. franchise, a BBC series(Sherlock) that just began its long-awaited 3rd season and an American adaptation (Elementary) in its second, the market is pretty well saturated with stories of the detective. According to IMDB 252 movies and television series have been based on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle’s short stories and books since the character first appeared 125 years ago.

A federal judge has ruled that the Deerstalker (Holmes’ signature headwear), 221 b Baker street, Watson and Moriarity  along with all elements of stories written before 1923 are now in the public domain. This means that the first 50 tales involving the character and any character development or events within can be used without paying the writer’s estate. Chief Judge Rubén Castillo of the United States District Court of the Northern District of Illinois, Eastern Division, stated that elements introduced in Holmes stories published after 1923 — such as the fact that Watson played rugby for Blackheath, or had a second wife — remain under copyright in the United States. (All of the Holmes stories are already in the public domain in Britain.)

This means some pretty great things for Holmes as a literary character. The new volume of short stories from various writers that touched off the original suit will go into publication in March and we can expect plenty of affordable reprintings of the classic stories.

As for television and film I have to ask: What hasn’t already been done?

Comedy ? Done

Younger Sherlock? Done

Older Sherlock? Done

Female Watson? Done

Sherlock as a doctor, a lawyer? an action hero? Done! Done! Done!

I adore Sherlock and find the RJD films to be fun. I loved House (a slightly different take) and thought Michael Cain, Roger Moore, and Jeremy Irons were all excellent as Holmes in their respective films. While I haven’t seen Elementary, I am sure it is a fine take on a tried and true property.

Anyone who remembers The Raven knows that an attempt to give Sherlock the Castle or Murder She Wrote treatment (think about it they’re the same show) will fall flatter than the notes Holmes squeaks out on his violin.

I fear however the public domain ruling will give rise to even more adaptations and interpretations of an already overused character. Below are 3 Sherlock Holmes concepts you will see in the next year:

1. Watson is the killer

2. Sherlock as a woman

3. Sherlock Holmes played by The Rock, Zach Efron or Channing Tatum

Seeing the master sleuth done to death is more than I can bear. It is nothing new, but at least it used to have a price tag.

Tagged , , , , , , , ,

Christmas Movies That Aren’t

As the Christmas season winds down and we reach that most treasured of days, I hope that you are spending the next couple of days close to those you love. As you fill your gaping maw with sugared treats and completely overindulge yourself in every form of excess, do so as a family. The world of DVD and digital streaming has been overloaded to bring you all of the well known holiday classics which take us all back to a simpler time in our lives and remind us of the true reason for the season.

Each year I enjoy a few standard Christmas classics, mostly of the comedic variety. Probably the same films and television episodes with which you are familiar and appear on many of these lazy, hastily written holiday movie guides. While putting forth even less effort I bring you:

Top 5 Movies That Mention Christmas Briefly, but do not Place The Holiday Central to Their Plots(catchy no?)

L.A. Confidential:

Based on the James Ellroy novel of same name and boasting an all-star cast of Russell Crowe, Kevin Spacy and Nicole Kidman. This police drama about the deaths of hookers who look like movie stars set in 1940s Los Angeles is a top notch thriller. Everyone is dirty, but they don’t all necessarily prefer it that way. The film succeeds by showing that everyone has a motivation for their choices, right or wrong.  So where is the Christmas? This film opens with several drunken police officers leaving an office Christmas party to work over some suspects believed to have injured a fellow officer. This event termed “Bloody Christmas” by the newspapers is in many ways what brings our heroes together on their way to solving the crime.

Lethal Weapon: 

image property of Warner Bros.

image property of Warner Bros.

Before Mel Gibson was an Oscar winning director and crazy conspiracy theory spouting DUI recipient, he was an actor in action movies. This little gem from the late 80s is still the best example of that work. Gibson plays Martin Riggs, a suicidal cop who shoots first and later, often failing to ask questions. His partner is Roger Murtaugh played by another future crazy person in the form of Danny Glover. The two uncover a massive drug smuggling ring which leads them to Mr. Joshua (Gary Busey being another future nut job). Working on this film must have come with some amount of hazard pay. Lethal Weapon is also responsible for 3 sequels and turning every movie for 15 or so years into a buddy/action/comedy. So where is the Christmas? Late in the film when Mr. Joshua decides to make things personal, it is a Christmas Eve street fight between him and Riggs that decides nothing and ends about the way you would expect it to.

 

Gremlins:

Image Property of 20th Century Fox

Image Property of 20th Century Fox

Is this a horror movie? Is it a comedy? I cannot say for certain. I can say it was the 80s, I was a boy and I loved this movie. A teenager receives a Christmas gift in the form of a strange adorable and easily merchandised pet. He is instructed to not get him wet, not feed him after midnight and not to expose him to bright light. He does all of these things and unleashes a horde of malevolently mischievous monsters on a small town.

 

 

 

Die Hard/Die Hard 2: Die Harder: 

It seemed simple enough. Fly out to LA and visit your estranged wife for the holidays. When terrorists take over the Nakatomi tower they didn’t count on wise-cracking New York city cop John McLane and his ability to… well… kill terrorists. The best action movie–maybe ever– begins and ends with Christmas.

image property of 20th century Fox

image property of 20th century Fox

While subsequent sequels removed the Christmas angle, Die Hard 2 reveled in it. With Holly and John McLane reconciled, living in LA and visiting DC for the holidays. Who could have expected that terrorists would take over the airport? Never travel with John McLane on the holidays unless you like spending Christmas eve fending off terrorists.

Have a Merry Christmas Cool Shippers!!

What did I miss?

Tagged , , , , , ,

Oh, What’s in a Tweet

If you are like me you are waiting everyday with baited breath for any morsel of information about the upcoming X-Men Days of Future Past. If you are not like me then you are wasting your life.  Director Bryan Singer’s Twitter has been abuzz with images and tidbits about the film. The first picture of a sentinel, the announcement that Patrick Stewart and Ian McKellen would reprise their roles from the original trilogy and even the title of the film were first announced by Singer via Twitter.

So imagine the hysterics this tweet created when posted last week by the director:

X-Men-Apocalypse-Bryan-Singer tweet

The Tweet is rather cryptic unless you know anything about the X-men universe. In that world Apocalypse is an ancient mutant and one of the toughestImage property of Marvel Comics villains in The X-men rogues gallery. Indestructible and godlike, Apocalypse has been the big baddie in plenty of X-Men storylines. The most famous being a temporary series of alternate reality releases called Age of Apocalypse in which Charles Xavier was murdered before forming The X-Men; leading to many different alliances and awesome new costumes.

It is unlikely that Age of Apocalypse would be used as the backstory for the follow-up to the yet unreleased Days of Future Past. It is just too much of a shake up following a time travel film. Not to worry though, Apocalypse could be the source of any number of fantastic plots, or they could try something crazy…like writing an entirely new story.

What do you think Singer’s Tweet means?

Tagged , , , , ,

Origin of Hate 2: Green Lantern

When I was a boy, I had Superman pajamas, but only because there were no Green Lantern ones. The DC merchandising machine did not take the George Lucasian approach in the 80s; instead, they only produced merch pertaining to the heaviest of hitters–unlike today when one can find nearly any character emblazoned upon garments meant for a grown man. Seriously 1980s, no GL Underoos? I digress. Even though I haven’t read a comic book in years, if I were to pick one up it would no doubt star my favorite Silver Age Emerald Knight.

So years after I had moved on grown a bit and admittedly developed a “make mine Marvel” attitude about my costumed heroes, I was pretty excited when a Green Lantern film was announced. When the film debuted in 2011, I was very excited to see it. I planned several times to head out to my local theater and for whatever reason kept putting it off. Then I started reading the huge pile of negative reviews, most of which called it a huge pile, and resolved to just pretend it didn’t exist. 3 years later, the Blu-ray was just laying there at the top of a bin filled with budget priced titles, and I decided to give it a shot. It isn’t as bad as described, but very little could be.

For those of you who are unfamiliar:

Image property of Warner Bros.

Image property of Warner Bros.

A test pilot named Hal Jordan (Ryan Reynolds)  is granted an alien ring that bestows him with otherworldly powers, as well as membership into an intergalactic squadron tasked with keeping peace within the universe.

Firstly let’s talk origin. Hal Jordan is the original Green Lantern. (Well unless you count the “Golden Age” which took place on Earth-2 which I don’t.) There is some confusion on this point created by the inclusion of John Stewart as the main Lantern in the Justice League cartoons.

Ryan Reynolds was not ideal as Jordan,with mostly comedic credits to his name and questionable Marvel pedigree in support of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. The humor seems to overtake the story at times. Reynolds’ fast talking and wise cracking is better suited to The Flash as portrayed in the previously mentioned cartoon outing. It is hard to believe that anyone would let this guy fly their plane–let alone wield a ring with unfathomable power. Reynolds does, however, come across as likeable, which is important to the character.

CGI and effects for 3D seem to be placed in such a way to disguise the lack luster script. Even the iconic Green Lantern uniform, which I have always wanted in PJ form, is constructed of pure effects. I prefer to view CGI through the lens of history. Think about the effects featured in the video for Dire Straits “Money for Nothin.” At the time this was the most advanced and exciting revolution in special effects. The video cost about a billion dollars to make and when viewed today looks like the most dated piece of garbage ever produced. Our children will feel the same way about this movie and many others like it (I’m looking at you Speed Racer).

Image property of Warner Bros. The villain’s motivation is confusing and seems to come out of nowhere. To tell you the truth I knew he was going to be the villain going in, but was surprised when he turned. The true motivation seems to be an after thought to the pointless CGI pile mentioned above. This is symptomatic of the attempt to cram too many Lantern stories into one film. It’s like they already knew they wouldn’t rate a sequel, so they give us 80yrs of story in 2hrs. The one standout is Marc Strong as Sinestro. His acting is explosive and my attention was perfectly held each and every time he appeared onscreen. Oddly, we learn very little about Sinestro despite The Matrix derivative approach to his mentoring role Strong still shines through. Also (though a tad unrelated to this point) the training scenes were straight out of The Matrix.

Any comments beyond these would just be petty. This is still an ok superhero picture. Honestly, it would have been a revolution had it come out before the game changing X-men franchise or even before Iron Man further raised the bar for the genre. Pouring a rich character history into a single film is difficult to manage.  Mediocre casting and poor writing = lackluster expensive looking movie.

 

 
Image property of Warner Bros.
Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Sean Connery Still Number 1

 

American television and film have long had a love affair with British actors. As the quality of television writing has improved many film level Englishman have made a name for themselves(some for a second time) appearing on small screens across the pond. Actors like Hugh Laurie have used American tv as a stepping stone to American cinema.

The Q scores organization which considers itself “The recognized industry standard for measuring consumer appeal of personalities, characters, lisenced properties, programs and Brands.” Bi- yearly since the 1990’s, QScores.com has released it’s top British actors according to American consumers.

For the third time since 1998 Sir Sean Connery has come out on top. Despite not having made a film in 10 years, and spending the last 8yrs as a tax exile in the Bahamas the 83 year old Scotsman is number one. Connery endeared himself to the American arriving on the scene at the end of the “golden era” of Hollywood.

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Photo courtesy of Wikimedia commons

Connery’s breakout role as James Bond in 1962’s Dr. No lead to a type casting he would spend 25 years trying to escape (despite returning to the role twice). Connery’s second coming began in the early 1990s playing the aging action star and sage adviser in films like The Untouchables. Sean Connery’s last live action film role as Alan Quartermaine in The League of Extraordinary Gentleman was a fitting finale to a fantastic career. Quartermaine is road-weary and tired, ready to pass the torch to the next generation.

“Connery ranks among the top 10 Hollywood actors of all time,” said Henry Shafer of Q Scores. “Awareness of Sean Connery and his appeal was strong across the country and with all ages.”

Sir Anthony Hopkins finished second in this year’s results, followed by Liam Neeson,  David McCallum of  NCIS  and Daniel Day-Lewis. Dame Judi Dench is the highest-placed woman in the list at six, followed by Dame Maggie Smith at seven.

The complete Q scores top 20:

1. Sean Connery
2. Anthony Hopkins
3. Liam Neeson
4. David McCallum
5. Daniel Day-Lewis
6. Judi Dench
7. Maggie Smith
8. Daniel Craig
9. Hugh Laurie
10. James Purefoy
11. Benedict Cumberbatch
12. Robert Carlyle
13. Eamonn Walker
14. Colin Firth
15. Jonny Lee Miller
16. Jane Leeves
17. Kiefer Sutherland
18. Gerard Butler
19. Lucy Punch
20. Daniel Radcliffe

What is your favorite Sean Connery Role? Who do you feel is missing from this list?

 

 

 

Tagged , , , ,

Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Nominees (make me feel old)

The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame released its ballot of 2014 inductees. As is the trend in recent years, this year’s nominees run the gamut between artists that without question belong enshrined in the hallowed hall, and those that shouldn’t be allowed to setup in the street in front of the Cleveland, Ohio, museum.

As always, arguments can be made for why each of these artists or groups belong in the Rock Hall. I can make a pretty solid argument against nearly all of the nominees, but I will spare you. If you can’t go on without my thoughts on the subject you can read them here.

According to www.Rockhall.com the rules for induction are as  follows:

To be eligible for induction as an artist (as a performer, composer, or musician) into the Rock and Roll Hall of Fame, the artist must have released a record, in the generally accepted sense of that phrase, at least 25 years prior to the year of induction; and have demonstrated unquestionable musical excellence.

We shall consider factors such as an artist’s musical influence on other artists, length and depth of career and the body of work, innovation and superiority in style and technique, but musical excellence shall be the essential qualification of Induction.”

See the key phrase there was musical excellence. Nirvana, Kiss, The Replacements and Hall and Oates seem to be the most likely of this year’s field. The fanaticism for Kiss will no doubt carry the overhyped, overrated, flame spewing and tongue wagging all the way to the Rock Hall stage.  The validity of a group like The Replacements is often judged by those that they have collaborated with or opened for while touring. Likewise I am fairly skeptical of the necessity of the mustachioed blue eyed soul of vocal duo Hall and Oates.

This is the first time I have felt old while reading the nominees list. The good news is going forward the list of artists from my generation will only get longer…But I digress. Nirvana is nominated for the first time this year.

I will not waste your time by recanting just who Nirvana were, and what their contribution was to popular music. Their influence is truly felt on most if not all of the bands that came after them. The tragic and untimely death of band leader and front man Kurt Cobain created my generation’s biggest “what if.” Nirvana is one of those rare groups whose influence even reached backward, influencing future works by established artists.

This year also marks the second time that fan vote will be a factor in the selection of inductees. See the full list and vote for your favorites at www.RockHall.com

 

Tagged , , , , , ,

Jack Ryan: Shadow Reboot

Tom Clancy,  who created truckloads of novels filled with political and military fiction–as well as several video games that I know nothing about, died last week.  He left behind a legacy of practically inventing a genre of fiction, or at least reinventing it. Adaptations of his work breathed newSean Connery, Alec Baldwin and Scott Glenn life into movies about espionage and government conspiracies. Like his books, the best and worst of these films often featured Jack Ryan.

Billed as the thinking man’s James Bond: the character of  CIA analyst Jack Ryan, as portrayed by future comedian Alec Baldwin, first appears on screen in the submarine cold war epic The Hunt for Red October. The movie, about a Soviet defector played by Sean Connery (sounding quite Scottish rather than Russian) and his experimental submarine, finds Ryan a great negotiator and reluctant action hero.

Harrison Ford took Jack Ryan to the next level in Clear and Present Danger and Patriot Games.  Adding his signature scowl, Ford’sford Ryan gets quite a bit more physical while enhancing the cerebral nature of the character.   This work in my opinion is completely undone by future Batman Ben Affleck.

In a reboot of the series, The Sum of All Fears shows Jack Ryan recruited to the CIA by Morgan Freeman. We see Affleck play Ryan as uncertain of himself and out of his element. The origin story, however, doesn’t seem to get off the ground. Preventing a terrorist attack on American soil while trying to understand the world of high stakes espionage and keeping the details from his new wife– it just seems like too much for Affleck to handle… because it is.

This week saw the release of the trailer for a new Jack Ryan reboot. Hot off of Star Trek: Into Darkness, Chris Pine has stepped into yet another role established by someone else. Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit is more than a reboot, it is a wholly original script pulling little to nothing from the source material. The trailer suggests the departure from any existing Jack Ryan property  and the conversion to full action film. Also it appears Jack Ryan gets younger with every reboot.

 

I will do my best to reserve judgment until I see the film, but it may have been better to let this character die with his creator.

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Continuum Continues

Given the current climate in Washington, the plot of the Canadian Sci-fi series Continuum could not be more topical. In the not too distance future, theContinuum2 government has failed. Private business bailed the government out. The corporations imposed draconian laws essentially removing privacy and limiting personal rights. Seven terrorists are about to be put to death for a bombing that killed 30,000 people. The condemned have hatched an escape plot and, at the last second, travel back in time. They did not count on two things: instead of going back six years as they had planned, a miscalculation sends them back 65 years to 2012, and Protector Keira Cameron is sent back as well. Stuck in the past and unable to get back to her husband and son, Kiera concentrates on bringing down the terrorists before they can wreak havoc in our present.

Protectors are the cops of the future. Keira as a protector is equipped with an electronic body suit. This suit, which is worn under the clothes, enhances her physical strength, speed and endurance. The computer within the suit allows it to become a wearable weapon. When it malfunctions Keira seeks out its inventor, Alex Smith, who is a teenager in this time and asks him to repair it. This would be akin to asking Henry Ford to tune up your 1966 Mustang 20 years before the first Model A. Part of the technology Alex has invented allows him to communicate with Keira and even see through her eyes or replay events she witnessed. Impersonating a detective of the Portland Oregon police department, Keira also forms an uneasy alliance with Vancouver detective Carlos Fonnegra.

The show, produced for the SyFy channel is a Canadian production. It includes a current trend unique to Canadian television. Though in recent years continuum3American television has been willing to blur the lines between hero and villain, our friends up north take this one step further. Though the focus of the program is placed on the protector, it is unfair to call her the protagonist. Though she is on the side of the law, the law of the corporations is unjust. The terrorists have a noble agenda, but their means are less than so.

The effects are fantastic. You won’t find the current expectation of movie level effects in a small screen production being met here. What is achieved is just enough CGI to make you want more. Still, you get enough in eye candy to show that the program has a respectable budget. The character development is somewhat slow and tends to lean more plot driven. My favorite thing about  Continuum  is that is does not bother itself with the traditional rules of time travel. It is evident that what goes on in  the past will effect the future, but it is not overbearing.

All-in-all, Continuum is a great time. It introduces some topical concepts for the current America while maintaining its Canadian sensibilities. Is it enough to make up for Justin Bieber? not really…but it’s a start. justin-bieber-canada

 

 

 

 

 

The first 2 seasons of Continuum are streaming on Netflix. Season 3 is currently airing on SYFY.

 

Tagged , , , , , , ,

The Office With a Heart

I adore British comedy. From Monty Python and Fawlty Towers to Are you Being Served, the Brits always seem to have something designed to tickle myricky-gervais-david-brent American sensibilities. However with the exception of The Office English comedic television  has seemed as dreary as a November afternoon in jolly London town.

When Ricky Gervais created a vehicle to showcase his brand of awkward comedy he effectively changed the comedy landscape on both sides of the pond. The mockumentery about an inept manager at a failing paper company breathed new life into the workplace sitcom. Gervais followed this with a few terrible movies, a stint hosting the Golden Globes and a fantastic travel miniseries called An Idiot Abroad.

In his Netflix original series Derek, Gervais revisits his roots while stepping beyond them. Derek is shot in the same mockumentery style as the Office. The writer/director/actor plays the title character, a fifty year old caretaker at an end of life nursing facility. The staff and patience make up the remainder of the cast.

Derek seems to be mildly mentally handicapped in a way that is as yet not fully disclosed. He is kind hearted, but often confused by social convention. I expected the outrageous and often over the top Gervais to take jokes about Derek’s disability beyond an acceptable place. Instead of exploiting Derek’s shortcomings for cheap laughs Gervais transcends expectation. He delivers a relatable, and loveable portrait of a high functioning individual.

Some of the funniest moments in the show involve Derek showing YouTube videos to the camera and explaining them as while they are playing. Gervais gives us in these moments what appears to be true laughter and pride coming from a character that is trying to make you laugh with him–not at him. There are how ever plenty of opportunities to laugh at this program. derek_group

The always hilarious Karl Pilkington and David Earl portray Derek’s best friends Dougie and Kev. Both of whom, though younger than him, see Derek as a little brother. They have their fun with him; though, they are quick to prevent others from doing so. Dougie takes many asides with the camera explaining his philosophy of life which is often dark and uproarious. Kev is the resident “horndog” always drunk and always looking for a good time.

Derek is subtle even gentle  in it’s humor, often the big laughs come from trying to imagine similar events happening in your work place. It is quite a bit more dramatic than Extras or The Office. You will alternate between nervous laughter and the brink of tears. All the while truly enjoying a fine comedy. The first 7 episodes of the series are currently available on Netflix instant streaming.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

What is the Origin of all the Hate?

When my DVD player went on strike last year, I finally had the excuse I needed to make the jump to Blu-ray. Initially, I had trouble with the idea of replacing my rather extensive collection of DVDs. Is the quality really that much better? What about older movies? Can they really be enhanced? After much research, I replaced a few titles from my collection. I finally got around to watching some of those titles recently. So far, it seems I have made the right decision.

In rewatching the entirety of the X-Men films, I was wowed by the effects. In some ways it made me feel like I was watching these movies for thex-men_origins_wolverine_ first time. After completing the original trilogy and First Class, I reluctantly threw in the red headed stepchild of the franchise, X-men Origins: Wolverine. The 2009 prequel to the above listed films has been long hated by fan boys and critics alike. Never having really been a reader of comics, or a stickler for a movie being a word for word remake of its source material, I just don’t have a lot of bile for this one.

Don’t get me wrong; like all of the other films in this series Origins is not without it’s problems. The movie opens with two big bombshells: Wolverine was born in the late 1800s, and Sabertooth is his brother. These revelations are lost in the next sequence as we see Logan and Victor(Sabertooth) fighting in several battles from the American Civil War toVietnam. These are some of the best scenes in the film. When Wolverine is forced to reveal his mutant abilities to rescue Victor they are both sentenced to death by a firing squad. After that method of dispatch proves ineffective they are recruited by William Stryker for a special operation. As part of a mutant team our heroes are doing America’s dirty work.

Stryker, played brilliantly by Danny Huston, is in search of meteor fragments that will ultimately make up the adamantium which we all know will be bonded to Wolverine’s bones. When Logan and Victor are called upon to kill innocents in pursuit of the metal, Logan refuses and walks away from the team. All of this takes place in the first 28min of film! What happens after shows Wolverine lured into the Weapon X program by Stryker with help from Victor who feels that Logan betrayed him in leaving the team. The movie glosses over the growing distance between Logan and Victor. The transition from brothers to sworn enemies, I feel, is reduced to a subplot when in reality it is the finest of the 10-plus stories this movie is trying to tell.sabertooth_l

Victor/Sabertooth is played expertly by Liev Schreiber. Schreiber really captures the essence of a character embracing his animalistic side. His quiet sadistic delivery is one of the highlights of the film. Schreiber’s Sabertooth makes up for the poor usage of the character in the first film (played there by Tyler Mane). Sabertooth is who Wolverine could have become with only slightly different choices.

The pointless inclusion of Deadpool and Gambit make very little sense, and do nothing to advance the plot. The tie-in to the original franchise only creates more questions. Cyclops? Professor X walking? Really confusing stuff.

For a movie with “origins” in the title, this one tells little of that story. Sure, we learn about Weapon X and the amnesia. We even discover where Wolverine got his snappy jacket. It misses the mark by ignoring the origin of WHO, not WHAT Wolverine is. He is a loner uncertain of his place in the world. An outcast partially of his own making. Wolverine is a self loathing, tragic hero confused as to his own nature.   The fact is we learn more of his “origin” from every other film in which he appears.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,

Dredd-ful

Does anyone else remember how poorly comic book properties used to be executed on the big screen?  Look no further than 1995’s Judge DreddStalone in Judge Dredd 1995 to gain a complete understanding of our past. Judge Dredd was a book adored by many; though it hardly achieving Superman or X-Men level readership, it did just fine numbers wise. The story was fantastic:  a dystopian future in which people were forced to live in crowded “mega-cities.” The Mega cities were so crime-laden that our justice system collapsed. The roles of judge, jury, and executioner were combined; the resulting “Judges” are meant to bring order by any means they deem necessary, usually by shooting someone in the face. Sounds like a great basis for a movie.

However, in 1995 the comic book movie was often a losing prospect. The popular solution involved the following 3 steps:JUDGE DREDD, Rob Schneider, Sylvester Stallone, 1995

1. Cast a tried and true action star

2. Tool the movie to reflect whatever is selling at the time

3. Dump all of the remaining cash into special effects

So Judge Dredd became a futuristic buddy action comedy starring Sylvester Stallone and future box office cancer Rob Schneider. Stallone played Dredd pretty much the same way he played every other role in the ’90s. Lots of bravado, light on humility, but with no small amount of heart. The movie was simply awful.

Judges have wonderful and fabulous tech that allows them to police the mega cities safely. The have fantastic guns called “lawgivers” that are voice activated and fire different projectiles. They have bulletproof body armor and computerized, virtually indestructible helmets. In Judge Dredd all of these elements are misused. The body armor comes off more like football safety equipment worn over the clothes. The lawgiver spends too much time firing flares into direct sunlight, and Stallone can’t seem to ditch the helmet quickly enough(an act in direct conflict with the character he is meant to portray)

Most of Mega City is right out of Blade Runner, while the police sets are essentially cribbed together from The Rock, Alien 3, and the Fifth Element.  I consider Alien 3 to be a better film.  At least in that movie you can understand what people are saying.  Despite  Jurgen Prochnow, Armand Assante, and Sly Stallone in the same film, the drama falls flat.

Carl Urban in DreddFlash forward to 2012’s Dredd, and in many ways, the timing was perfect. The reboot skipped the 2005ish era where popular casting would have almost certainly placed The Rock or Vin Diesel  in the title role. Instead of a 40ish pound overweight aging Stallone, a trim Karl Urban is cast and looks as though he stepped directly from the pages of the comic. Doing  the best Clint Eastwood impression I have ever seen, Urban is fantastic.

While training a new recruit, Dredd is chasing the prostitute-turned-drug-kingpin Ma-Ma. Ma-Ma peddles the drug “Slo-mo” which slows the senses to 1/2 speed. Seeing Dredd on her trail, she offers a bounty on his head and turns the entire ghetto into a shooting gallery. This also turns every resident into an enemy. The mega city is depicted on a considerably smaller scale, as most of the film is spent inside the enclosure of a ghetto.

Despite better acting, a more relatable plot, and better, if scaled down, effects, Dredd actually took in about half the receipts of its predecessor. The sequel, which had been almost a given, is now on hold. Dredd falls flat on a couple of simple points. Urban behind the opague visor can’t seem to be bothered to drop the one-liners so important to the character. Without these little breaks Judge Dredd is simply a libertarian’s worst nightmare, a fascist empowered to act unilaterally in a pursuit of order. After all, he is the law, remember.

Maybe 17 years was not long enough for Dredd. Perhaps this one just wasn’t made for the big screen.

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , ,

So Long Dutch

elmore_leonardElmore “Dutch”  Leonard died this week of complications from a stroke he suffered two weeks ago. He was 87.  Leonard was the author of 47 novels and several collections of short stories. Nearly everything Elmore Leonard wrote was optioned by Hollywood. The more notable of which were Get Shorty, Jackie Brown (based on the novel Rum Punch), Out of Sight, and most recently, the FX series Justified (based on the short story Fire in the Hole). Leonard was sometimes happy about how these adaptations turned out.

Born in 1925, Leonard began his career as an advertising man. His first novel, 1953’s The Bounty Hunters was handwritten on yellow legal pads, a habit he never lost. The Bounty Hunters, like most of Leonard’s early works was a western. With 1969’s The Big Bounce Leonard took his gritty characters out of period pieces and into a modern setting. In many ways Leonard reinvented the crime thriller, taking it to a place beyond the dime store pulps.

With Timothy Olyphant on the set of Justified

With Timothy Olyphant on the set of Justified

I first discovered his work on a $0.50 used paperback shelf in my local bookstore. After reading Killshot, I devoured everything Elmore Leonard I could get my hands on. Like many of his readers, I was enamored of the realistic dialogue and the desperately relatable characters. Beyond the wonderfully intricate plots was an ability to allow the dialogue to drive the story. When asked about his dialogue Leonard responded “Don’t you hear people talking? That’s all I do.” It was that dialogue that allowed Leonard to write re-readable thrillers while most are viewed as disposable.

In addition to the gift of his stories, Elmore Leonard offered some advice for the rest of us. Leonard’s Ten Rules for Writing published in 2007 was a list of common sense rules for aspiring authors. With simplistic rules like “Never open a book with weather” and “Never use a word other than “Said” to carry a conversation” The pamphlet offered some insight into his success.

Elmore Leonard, sometimes called the Dickens of Detroit, gave depth to all of his characters. He treated the antagonists with the same care as the protagonists and showed the same concern for each of his stories. Leonard wrote westerns and thrillers with the same attention to each aspect of the narrative. He allowed for humor and depth in each. Leonard’s style and career are best explained by what I believe is the most important of his ten rules: “If it sounds like writing, I rewrite it.”

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

What Happens in the Kremlin Stays in the Kremlin

RED was the sleeper hit of 2010. The well-written action/comedy exceeded expectations both in quality and commercial success. It is littlered_2_poster_teaser wonder  the film was destined to do well with Morgan Freeman, Helen Mirren, Brian Cox, Bruce Willis and John Malkovich portraying aging retired CIA, MI6 and KGB operatives. As is the current nature of Hollywood, the sequel was a forgone conclusion. Amazingly all of the fantastic talent returned for the second outing.

RED, along with the Expendables (2010), touched off a type of action film renaissance–not just a renewed appreciation for the genre, but a glow placed on the stars that drove the genre in the 80s and 90s.  What differentiates RED is its reliance on those who were often not action stars, and John Malkovich providing high comic relief.

RED2 begins with Bruce Willis’ Frank Moses once again trying to adjust to civilian life. Moses and his girlfriend Sarah (Mary-Louise Parker) are experiencing a very realistic relationship issue. Following the events of RED Frank is overly worried about Sarah’s safety, and Sarah has gotten bored with their non action RED 2packed lives. After the presumed death of Malkovich’s Marvin, Moses is brought in for questioning about a portable nuclear device the details of which have just been released via Wikileaks. After a fantastic shootout between Moses and various special forces, led by the very capable Neal McDonough, Moses and the not dead Marvin are forced to go on the run in an attempt to clear their names.

Our unlikely team of heroes are joined by Cathrine Zeta-Jones as a former love interest of Moses’ and Anthony Hopkins as the delightfully mad scientist who invented the bomb at the center of the plot. The trail leads them to Paris and Moscow all the our team is stalked by the “worlds greatest assassin” played by Byung-hun Lee.

RED2 explores complex relationships and displays depth even though it doesn’t have to. The action sequences are a tad over the top, so much so that it seems to poke fun at more serious movies in the genre. The new characters and exotic locations are fantastic. Though often accused of phoning it in as of late, Bruce Willis’ performance is one of his best. He conveys a great deal of emotion through facial expression, and seems to show genuine surprise and irritation as he reacts to some of the more ridiculous scenarios. red2set-116

RED2 doesn’t break any new ground, and it doesn’t need to. What it does has already been done. Where it succeeds is in its acknowledgment of that. Everyone is doing it, but from where I stand, no one is doing it better.

Tagged , , , , , , , , ,

Harrison Ford Gets Expendable

Grauman's Chinese TheatreSure the plot of the first two Expendables films was as incoherent as director/star Sylvester Stalone singing Tip Toe Through the Tulips with a mouthful of jaw breakers, but the idea was solid enough; jam as many aging action stars as you into an explosion-packed shoot ’em up and market it to 30 somethings who grew up watching these actors kick, stab and shoot the bad guys. The box office bank, of course, guaranteed the sequel, and the sequel guaranteed even more dried up old anti-heroes blowing up the baddies played by other old actioners.

While it seemed amazing to see Arnold Schwarzenegger share the screen with Dolph Lundgren and Jason Statham, the novelty wears off pretty quickly. Honestly, I only watched the second film for the inside jokes, the highlight of which is Chuck Norris tossing out references to his Internet fandom. I was really surprised to learn that the threequel had been greenlit.

Adding to its already ridiculously overcrowded stable with the likes of straight to video king Steven Seagal and recent parolee Wesley Snipes, Expendables 3 is due in 2014. We learned this week, however, that the film will have to go on without the likes of Bruce Willis. Series creator Stalone announced on Twitter that Willis was “greedy and lazy” and had been released from the project. I wonder if perhaps Rocky discovered that John McLane could actually act.

Moments after announcing the ouster of Willis, Stallone made another announcement; he welcomed Harrison Ford into the Expendables fold. I will repeat that because it bears repeating–Harrison Ford will be in the freaking Expendables!! The question I keep asking myself is why?? Why would someone like Harrison Ford want to be in something as ridiculous as an Expendables sequel. Why would an actor of his caliber want to lend his gravitas to such a piece of tripe?

Sadly my answer was obvious. It was the same answer that was offered to Holly Martins in the classic film The Third Man– “For the money.” See I just made a reference to a film that probably only one person in the sure to be simply awful Expendables 3 would get. That person is Harrison Ford.

Harrison Ford is in the freaking Expendables!!!! You win, Universe

Tagged , ,

Geek Week Round-up

Usually I fill this space with a complaint or observation about something that I have been watching or reading over the past week.  Well two things have gotten in the way of that: First, what I am watching this week is just not that geeky, and what I am reading I have not digested quite yet.

So how about a round up of things that interested me from various media this week?

I thought you might like that.

 

SingerDays of Future Past is going to be without a doubt the most epic film in the X-men cannon. Blending the casts of the original X-men trilogy and  X-men: First Class should prove big box office bank in 2014. In X-men 3 we got a quick glance at a Sentinel in the Danger room, but this week, director Bryan singer gave us the full monty. Still no word as to whether or not Singer will sew up the plot holes between the films as I mentioned in a previous post.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

avatar-1-121109Oscar winner James Cameron announced today that not one, not two, but three sequels to his 2009 smash-hit Avatar are now in the works According to 20th Century Fox, Avatar 2, 3 and 4 will be shot simultaneously, with production kicking off next year, and will be released in December of 2016, 2017 and 2018, respectively. This should give the writers plenty of time to watch Ferngully again and Ferngully 2.

 

 

 

 

rts programme awards 2 190308The wait is almost over as the BBC announced today that it will announce the next Doctor on Sunday 8/4/13. I somehow doubt it will be anyone I suggested. Read more about the pending announcement in this Modest Wit post. Peter Capaldi seems to be the main contender– probably for many great reasons. I am sure it has nothing to do with his cast credit from World War Z.

World War Z

Peter Capaldi…………………………..W.H.O. Doctor

I rest my case.

 

Netflix now offers individual profiles and instant queues for everyone in your household. Which means Netflix can now screw up “because you liked ” for your whole family.  I will no longer have to see a recommendation of The Backyardigans next to a recommendation for Silent Hill Revelation–neither of which I want to see but the mixture is just weird.

 

QueenThe BBC also released today the script written just in case WW3 ever broke out. Meant to be delivered by Queen Elizabeth and dating back to 1983 the speech encourages those survivors of a  direct assault on The British Empire to “move on and rebuild”. A speech written for the Prime Minister Margaret Thatcher was also released. Full text available here

 

 

 

 

Finally a new Thor poster debuted this week. Still my least favorite Avenger, but it is still better than most things coming out this fall.

Thor

 

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Sci-Fi Prophecies

Ridley Scott, DGA Quarterly, October 1, 2010It has been long established that many of the modern marvels we now enjoy in our everyday lives were sometimes predicted hundreds of years before by fiction writers. Often devices and inventions described by science fiction writers of the past are made reality by the scientists who read these works as children.

Jules Verne's Nautilus

Jules Verne’s Nautilus

Director Ridley Scott has compiled information on some of the most inspirational science fiction writers for the Science Channel’s Prophets of Science Fiction.  Taking the scientific elements from the works of such sci-fi writers as Mary Shelly and Arthur C. Clarke, Prophets of Science Fiction explains, through interviews with authors and scientists, how the work went on to inspire an actual innovation.

A science fiction writer often has vision, but lacks the scientific prowess to make that vision a reality. Writers like Jules Verne imagined huge underwater submarines, space travel, and the tools of Arctic exploration more than 100 years ahead of their actual discovery. Writers like Verne and H.G. Wells predicted the future with startling accuracy.

Some of the featured authors, such as Isaac Asimov and Philip K. Dick, have made numerous predictions that are yet to come true. Many in the field of robotics use Asimov’s work as a guide and Dick’s as a warning. Asimov is also the definitive master of all artificial intelligence writing. His influence on other sci-fi writers is apparent in many popular works.asimov6

The oddest inclusion in the program is George Lucas. Lucas in many ways is a fantasy writer. His definitive work and recent Disney property, Star Wars has a focus on things more supernatural than scientific. Lucas’ inclusion here has more focus on life saving and life extending medical technology. From Vader’s respirator to Luke’s prosthetic hand and even the surgical droids Lucas has predicted a great deal of medical tech.

Overall the program is quite watchable. Forgoing the usual reenactment style the show instead uses scenes from films based on the works in question. The remainder is filled in by animation, Interviews with scientists, futurists and current sci-fi writers and film makers and the thoughts of series producer and creator Ridley Scott.

The series is probably best summed up in a 1977 quote from George Lucas:

     “I would feel very good if someday I were 93 years old and they colonize Mars and the leader of the first colony says “ I really did it because I was hoping there would be a Wookie out here.”

 

 

Tagged , , , , , , , , , ,