So is Peter Jackson going to direct The Hobbit? Or will it be his protege Neill Bolmkamp, who directed District 9? Who knows — I just hope this mess with MGM gets sorted out soon. I’m still getting over my enormous disappointment that MGM’s financial situation resulted in Guillermo del Toro’s departure from The Hobbit films. But boy would it be great to see PJ take the helm once again…
Great new trailer is up for The Social Network, the new film about facebook directed by David Fincher and scripted by Aaron Sorkin.
So, we finally got out first glimpse at The Green Hornet and… I’m still not quite sure what to think. This film is either going to be awesome or a total catastrophe…
CHUD’s list of the Worst CGI in Film History continues, and it’s well worth your time.
Will we ever get another decent X-Men film? I loved X-Men and X2, but X3 was a crushing disappointment and the less spoken of the abominable X-Men Origins: Wolverine, the better. I hate prequels, as a rule, so when word came out last year that the next X-film would be a prequel entitled X-Men: First Class, I thought that was a big mis-step. So what now gives me hope? Director Matthew Vaughn (Layer Cake, Stardust, Kick Ass) and stars James McAvoy (Children of Dune, Atonement, Wanter) as Professor X and Michael Fassbender (Inglourious Basterds) as Magneto. An ember of hope is fanned…
Are we about to finally get another decent Predator film? The first Predator is awesome — one on my favorite movies ever. But the second one (set in the future with Danny Glover as the lead) is weak, and the less spoken of the two Alien Vs. Predator films the better. But Robert Rodriguez and Nimrod Antal’s Predators is set for release in just a few short weeks, and damn if this new trailer isn’t pretty awesome. An ember of hope is fanned…
It’s hard for me to believe that a new Planet of the Apes film is really happening. And now I read that John Lithgow and Freida Pinto (Slumdog Millionaire) have joined the cast? Um, okay… An ember of hope is… well… we’ll see…… [continued]
It’s been a bit of a while since my last review of a novel in Pocket Books’ Star Trek: Titan series, chronicling the post-Star Trek: Nemesis adventures of Captain William Riker and his new command. After reading the first four novels when they were originally released, earlier this year I realized that I had fallen behind on the series. Since a few years had passed since the series began (the novels have been published at a rate of about one or two a year), I decided to go back and re-read the first four novels before moving on to the fifth and sixth installments (which were published this year). However, after finishing book three, Orion’s Hounds, I got a bit distracted by my project to re-read all of Arthur C. Clarke’s Odyssey series, and various other things. But now I’m back in the saddle!
Entering a region of space never-before explored by manned Federation starships, the Titan encounters the planet Orisha, whose denizens have been menaced for centuries by a celestial phenomenon that they call “the Eye” which periodically wreaks havoc on their planet. Many Orishans worship “the Eye” as a deity, one which sits in judgment of their society and regularly punishes them for their sins. As the Titan crew attempt to investigate this phenomenal, things (predictably) go awry and the landing party is separated from the Titan and presumed dead.
Far from being deceased, the landing party find themselves stranded on the surface of a planet Orisha that seems much different from the planet they had observed from orbit. As the crew (both on the planet and back on Titan) attempt to extricate themselves from the situation in which they have become enmeshed, they must struggle with aspects of the Prime Directive while also confronting questions about fate and destiny.
Sword of Damocles, written by Geoffrey Thorne, is another strong, enjoyable installment in this series of novels. I’ve been pleased by how well the different authors have been able to maintain consistency in the voices of the many new-to-the-novels characters that make up the diverse Titan crew. Mr. Thorne has a terrific grasp on the characters, giving each of them a distinct personality even as he weaves scores of alien Titan crew-members in and out of the narrative. It was nice to see several members of the Titan crew — such as science specialist Jaza Najem, chief engineer Dr. Xin Ra-Havreii, and head of Stellar Cartography Melora Pazlar — get a lot of attention in the story, though I must confess some disappointment (small spoiler alert!) that one intriguing character was written out of the series by the novel’s conclusion, just when … [continued]
I can’t believe it took me this long to get to the 2008 HBO miniseries John Adams!
This seven-episode miniseries introduces us to John Adams as a prominent lawyer in Boston, defending the British soldiers who shot and killed several Americans in the so-called “Boston Massacre.” Throughout the rest of the series, we follow John Adams’ long and eventful life through the American Revolution and the fifty years of American history that follow.
This miniseries is a monumental achievement. Each episode is truly a mini motion picture. (And not so “mini” at that — most episodes run WELL over an hour in length.) The production design, the costumes, the sets, and the visual effects that filled in the environment beyond the sets all combine to create an astonishing recreation of pre-and-post-Revolutionary America.
I happen to be fascinated by the American Revolution, ever since taking a class back at Brown with the scholar Gordon Wood (author of the Pulitzer Prize-winning book The Radicalism of the American Revolution, as well as one of the writers quoted by young Will Hunting in the “how about ‘dem apples” scene of Good Will Hunting), and I really enjoyed seeing that period of history brought to such vivid life. Based on the book John Adams by David McCullough (another extraordinary writer and historian), the miniseries is filled to overflowing with fascinating historical details both large (for instance, I had no idea that Mr. Adams spent so much time abroad, working to garner international support for the fledgling nation during its revolutionary conflict with Britain) and small (I was intrigued to observe the changing fashion in wigs of American intellectuals and politicians).
The sprawling cast is top-drawer. The series is headlined by several “big name” actors who are, to no one’s surprise, quite terrific — but the cast is also filled out by some very talented lesser-known faces. The series rests, of course, on the performances of Paul Giamatti as John Adams and Laura Linney as Abigail Adams. The two are absolutely wonderful, capturing the fierce intelligence and stubbornness of both Adamses, as well as the tender love that they shared throughout their lives. I wasn’t expecting this miniseries to present a portrait of such a strong marriage, but that is a strong through-line to the story. David Morse creates an exceptional George Washington (ably assisted by some terrific hair and make-up). Morse’s Washington might be the most idealized character in the piece, but this ideal come to life is so much fun to watch that I have no complaints.
The biggest surprise of the miniseries, for me, was the quiet, underplayed performance of Stephen Dillane as Thomas Jefferson. I can’t speak to the … [continued]
Glad to see that the people running the New York Public Library have a sense of humor. This is worth a watch:
Has the pain of the end of Lost faded yet? (Click here for my thoughts on the finale.) Wanna rub some salt in the wound? Then be sure to check out this video compilation of all the questions Lost left unanswered.
Movie adaptations of Philip K. Dick stories have a pretty terrible track record. But I’m pretty excited about this one. Click here for a trailer for The Adjustment Bureau, starring Matt Damon and Emily Blunt (who really should have been the Black Widow in Iron Man 2).
Has Rob Reiner finally made another good movie? Check out this trailer:
I’m intrigued by that sweet trailer. Rob Reiner had one of the great winning streaks of all time when he directed This is Spinal Tap, The Sure Thing, Stand By Me, The Princess Bride, When Harry Met Sally, Misery, and A Few Good Men. But with the exception of The American President, it’s been a long, loooong dry spell since then. Here’s hoping that Flipped represents the master’s return to form!
Whee, still more great trailers to see! Here’s the second peek at Scott Pilgrim vs The World (about which I must admit I know very little, but these trailers have hooked me), as well as our first glimpse at Part One of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.
CHUD is running a fantastic list of the Worst CGI in History that is sad, funny, and well-worth your time.
See you all back here tomorrow!… [continued]
During the production of the final season of Battlestar Galactica, word broke that show-runner Ronald D. Moore was developing a two-hour pilot to a new sci-fi TV series for Fox called Virtuality. This was exciting news. Mr. Moore is an extraordinary writer, and I’ve been a fan of his ever since noticing that I always liked the episodes he wrote for Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine better than any of the others. Then came Battlestar Galactica, a series which — despite the problems I have with its final season — stands definitively as one of the best dramas of recent memory (and certainly one of the finest sci-fi series ever made). With BSG winding down, I was very pleased to hear that Mr. Moore was developing a new series (in addition to the Battlestar prequel Caprica, which was in the works at around the same time.)
But then, sadly, Virtuality went nowhere. The pilot was produced, but Fox decided not to go forward with a series. The pilot was aired once last summer, and that was that.
Recently, a DVD of that pilot episode was released, and having seen it I now have one more reason to hate the Fox network. Seriously, Fox has created and then cancelled so many great shows that it’s crazy (Arrested Development, Firefly, The Tick, Futurama, Andy Richter Controls the Universe, Undeclared, I could go on and on…).
Virtuality introduces the story of the twelve men and women who crew the experimental space-ship Phaeton. It’s the near future, and the Phaeton has been launched on a ten-year journey to explore a nearby star-system, Eridani. Shortly after launch, the mission turns from one of exploration into something much more critical, as environmental catastrophes begin wracking Earth. The mission to Eridani now represents the best hope for the survival of the human race. Complicating matters somewhat is that the conglomerate funding the mission is paying for the massive undertaking by recording all of the footage of the mission — and the going-on of the Phaeton‘s crew — and presenting that footage as a reality show to viewers back on Earth. The pressure of having cameras constantly monitoring their every move adds, as you can imagine, to the tension level of the crew.
To combat that, the Phaeton comes equipped with extraordinarily sophisticated virtual reality systems for the crew. On their off-duty time, crew-members can put on a VR visor and enter a completely three-dimensional and life-like computer-created environment. (Star Trek fans recognize the familiar concept of the Holodeck.) However, even this recreational device soon becomes problematic for the Phaeton crew, as one by … [continued]
OSS 117: Cairo, Nest of Spies is a French film that lovingly parodies the 1960′s Sean Connery era James Bond films. It got very little play here in the U.S., but if you’re a fan of the Connery Bond films then this movie is not to be missed.
OSS 117 actually began as a serious series of spy novels and films in the 1950′s (predating Ian Fleming’s secret agent by several years). However, Cairo, Nest of Spies is anything but serious. Now, this film isn’t total insane lunacy like the Austin Powers films. Rather, this film represents a gentler form of parody. In many respects, the filmmakers have lovingly recreated the world of 1960′s James Bond — through the sets, the costumes, the colors, the score, etc. But when it comes to the story, everything is nudged several directions towards the silly.
Jean Dujardin stars as the titular OSS 117, Hubert Bonisseur de La Bath. He’s a well-dressed, highly-trained secret agent, able of besting a skilled foe in hand-to-hand combat and wooing any lovely lady he sets his sights on. Sound familiar? But he’s also rather dim, ludicrously devoted to France’s president, and totally condescending to any culture and religion that is not French. Dujardin is a riot, and the film succeeds primarily because he’s able to walk the tightrope between being an imbecile, but a lovable one. He’s able to handle witty reparte as well as broad physical humor (the pose he strikes any time he fires his weapon made me laugh every time).
It can be challenging for a comedic film to work even when watched with subtitles, but despite that I still found Cairo, Nest of Spies to be very, very funny. I’m sure there were a few jokes that would have worked better if I spoke fluent French, but not many. It helps that many of the film’s best gags are visual ones. My favorite moment: a blink-and-you’ll-miss-it gag about OSS 117′s bed-hair when he wakes up in his suite about mid-way through the film. (Though I will comment that I was disappointed that there were several spelling mistakes in the subtitles. That’s unfortunately amateurish.)
This is an obscure film, but for a Bond nut like myself I am so glad to have seen it. To any fellow Bond-fanatics out there, I highly recommend you track this down. (And luckily, a sequel has already been made — OSS 117: Lost in Rio. It hasn’t been released yet here in the States, but I eagerly await its arrival…)… [continued]
I’ve been catching up on some wonderful comic books lately (as well as some books/publications about comic books). Here’s some of what I’ve been reading and enjoying:
Do Anything: Thoughts on Comics and Things by Warren Ellis – This collection of essays (subtitled Jack Kirby Ripped My Flesh: A Grand Tour Through Comics & Culture As Seen Through a Burgled Robot Head) as a phenomenally entertaining madcap history of comics, specifically the work and influence of comic book master Jack Kirby. Mr. Ellis is one of the very best comic book authors working today. His work is usually characterized by a torrent of BIG IDEAS that tend to unfold at a rapid clip, and that quality has been embodied in spades in these collected essays. Mr. Ellis bends language to his whim (turning, for example, the use of a parenthesis into an art form) as his thoughts pour forth in rush that is at once hilarious and insightful. This tome is thick in “inside baseball” for the world of comic books, and there were a great many names and references that were unfamiliar to me. But that’s part of the fun of this collection. At its essence, Do Anything is a powerful exhortation for creative folk to make their own, original work. I defy you to get to the end and not be filled with the desire to double your efforts in your own creative endeavors.
Modern Masters Volume 24: Guy Davis by Eric Nolen-Weathington — The continuing Modern Masters series, published by TwoMorrows Publishing, has been one of my very favorite comic-book related publications ever since their first installment (spotlighting the extraordinarily talented Alan Davis — no relation to Guy). I have devoured each subsequent volume in the months and years since. I was absolutely delighted to see the latest installment spotlight Guy Davis, whose wonderfully idiosyncratic work I discovered and fell in love with in the past few years’ worth of B.P.R.D. mini-series. Mr. Davis’ work manages to be at once cartoonishly stylized — with the frequent use of simplified exaggeration in his characters’ expressions and poses — while also being extraordinarily detailed. Mr. Davis is one of those rare artists who seems to be able to draw just about ANYTHING. As with all of the Modern Masters volumes, this over-sized book consists of a long, in-depth interview with Mr. Davis by Mr. Nolen-Weathington. The interview is far-reaching, covering Mr. Davis’s youth and start in the business, through his period working for DC (most notably on Sandman Mystery Theatre), up to his involvement in Mike Mignola’s Hellboy universe. There is also a fantastic portfolio section at the back of the book, with a series of black-and-white … [continued]