CBS vs Paramount? Old Star Trek vs Confused Star Trek? ST Discovery = Epic fail? and JUSTICE LEAGUE?!

 

Some Times you wonder how what is seemingly obvious  is utterly lost on people in positions of power.

VALERIAN movie? Great concept on paper , great visuals, the leads are as interesting as watching paint dry. I would not in a million years have chosen those two people to helm that movie. They have no visual interest.

The latest Universal bomb in THE MUMMY, completely predictable. White Egyptians, unless they are Boris Karloff, just never a good idea.

Casting and visuals and chemistry is still a HUGE part of what makes a film or show work and why it is dead on arrival.

It is one reason the JUSTICE LEAGUE movie is despite everything they are trying to course correct and do right, can’t fix intrinsic issues they have done wrong. The comic book decided to put CYBORG in the comic, not because he is a good character, but because he hit three demographics they throught would make for both multiple diversity streams and good merchandising. He was a Black crippled robot.

TRANSFORMERS has proven that robots sell, all day long. On top of that being able to add a character of color to the blindingly white DC universe, ticks that box, and making him a cripple, ticks the handicapped audience. A lucrative and growing segment condsidering how many young men and women this country sends overseas to mutilate and get mutilated.

Here is the issue though. It doesn’t make sense for CYBORG to be in the Justice League, beyond tokenism and a blatant money grab.

From a story point it makes NO SENSE in the comics, and it makes no sense in the movies. I’m all for characters of color toning down the lilly whitness of the Justice League, but not awful characters. The JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED cartoon has shown a great character of color that deserves to be in the Justice League and works great in the Justice League… John Stewart, The Green Lantern, And you know what, he also has kick ass powers and is more than a walking toaster. The late great Dwayne McDuffie made John Stewart a great character, and the Justice League a great AND diverse team without sacrificing quality or common sense. They were great BECAUSE of that diversity and love that Dwayne imbued that series with, that made it great.

Greatness is a thing that seldoms gets said in the same sentence as JUSTICE LEAGUE. Unlike the AVENGERS that has a few notable stories you can hand people to sell them on these characters for live action movies, most notably Mark Millar’s THE ULTIMATES  followed by Steve Englehart’s, Gerry Conway’s, Jim Shooter’s and Kurt Busiek’s runs; the JUSTICE LEAGUE has very little that holds up, or is of appeal to a movie going audience. Outside of deconstructive and apocalyptic stories, the twilight of the Gods type mythology such as KINGDOM COME, and some Morrison work, there are almost no great JUSTICE LEAGUE comic stories. The best the JUSTICE LEAGUE has ever been is in the McDugffie helmed cartoon.

The current comic and the current movie unfortunately, has learned nothing from the late McDuffie’s lead.

Add to that the Cyborg and Flash costumes are crap (didn’t you learn anything from the GREEN LANTERN train-wreck about CGI costumes) and you have a movie that could have been great, crippled by by people who are going to lose dollars to save pennies.  People ignorant or uncaring of the part visual chemistry plays in whether a thing works or not.

And that brings us back to Star Trek.

 

Looking at the cast photo of Star Trek Discovery… that cast has no visual interest, no chemistry. The same issue suffered by THE ENTERPRISE cast, and to a lesser degree the VOYAGER cast. There was no joy or interst or chemistry in this combination of people.

Watching  the latest STAR TREK DISCOVERY Trailer, I find the trailer interesting, however the jury is out on whether that translates into good. There was no excitement in that trailer, a bunch of uninteresting looking people, no visual chemistry or excitement to them, and a general air of uninterst and lack of joy in the whole.

You are in effing space, that should be awe-inspiring to the cast and to the viewer. But all that comes across in that trailer is how dreary everything is. The one male lead, who I know to be a good actor, he perhaps has never been the most rousing actor, and whether lead or not, you need somone immediately that grabs your eye, and you can say, yep, here is a hero or man of action, or somone who can command a screen and command the attention of viewers. Without a doubt great scenery chewing actors is the hallmark of great Star Trek, whether it is William Shatner, or Leonard Nimoy or Patrick Stewart or Johnathan Fraker or Avery Brooks or Michael Dorn.

The star of this series, is a lead actress, and she is clearly charismatic, but you can’t act in a bubble, without that chemistry  of clicking actors around you and fun plots, it is just dreariness. And that’s what came across in the trailer… dreariness.

And a lot of changes for change sake.

The change to the Kilngons… strikes me as… foolhardy at best. THE NEXT GENERATION hit a home run in being able to make an interesting but crude visual race of the Kilingons… better. Not just better, but a rousing transcendent success.  The way the Original Series hit a home run with the Vulcans and the Romulans, the Next Generation hit that Home Run with the Klingons.

You don’t fix what isn’t broken. And in this case DISCOVERY’s redesign of the Klingons just seems change for change sake, that tears down a success, and what could have been an easy inroad to the series for fans craving the popular Klingons, becomes instead a detriment.

Just poor, poor thinking.

Along with that the idea of trying to make American audiences pay to see this series that initially needs as much groundswell of support it can get, is just idiocy. Out of the gate you set an antagonistic relationship between show and audience.

I will, needless to say, not be paying for this show, no more than I had any intest in paying to see VALERIAN or THE MUMMY.

But I will keep abreast of it through online reviews and podcasts, and I hope it can prove me wrong. But if Paramount stick to the visuals and that tone and that cast, that seems clearly set in stone for the first year….you may have an interesting SciFi show, but you arguably wont have a good show, and you definitely won’t have a great Star trek show.

Paramount instued of suing the AXANAR fan film, should have gone with that filmmaker to produce their new show. It is obvious that the fan films have more heart, intelligence, and fun, and understanding of what makes good Star Trek than Paramount has.

PARAMOUNT’s rebooted STAR TREK films, a case of diminishing returns, from the excellence of the first one, to the too self indulgent but still great second film, to the atrocious third film; points to a company that is in desperate need of course correction. And that same folly and arrogant stupidity that highlights their dealings with the fans, mars their handling of this latest television show.

For more on this, I want to direct you to a MIDNIGHT’S EDGE YouTube video, that revealed some of the reasons for Paramount’s mishandling of the latest Star Trek property and where CBS fits in. It’s a riveting and informative bit of reporting.

 

 

 

 

 

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Upcoming Comic Book Convention : North Carolina’s HEROES CON 2012

HEROES CONVENTION was founded in 1982 by Shelton Drum, owner of Charlotte’s Heroes Aren’t Hard To Find comics shop. Since then the convention has become famous for its comics-first and family-friendly atmosphere, where fans can mingle directly with professionals and exhibitors. Boasting an incredible guest list built mainly on reputation and goodwill, HeroesCon is known nationwide as a “must” on the summer schedule, drawing fans, exhibitors, and creators from every region of the country to the Charlotte Convention Center.

HeroesCon 2012 will be June 22-24! Come and celebrate our 30th Anniversary with us!

TRAILERS OF THE DAY

TRAILERS OF THE DAY

CITIZEN GANGSTER- is one of those trailers, like SAMARITAN that gives away too much of the film. Once you’ve seen the trailer there’s really no reason to see the film.

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN- Saw the latest trailer, shows all kinds of stuff and still not remotely interested. The actor playing Peter Parker doesn’t interest me, none of the actors seem to have any personality, and the trailer is just… there.

FIRST WINTER- is a far better trailer, in that it gives you enough of the premise for you to be intrigued, but not so much that it lays bear the film’s secrets. A film that seemingly takes place in the wake of an apocalyptic situation and is about how a group of off the grid types in an artist colony/commune deals… in the face of truly being off the grid. Understated trailer has me interested. View here!

THE ROAD- Yam Laranas’ THE ROAD has me really intrigued. The trailer is very creepy and enthralling and mysterious, which are all good things. This doesn’t look to be a simple slasher flick. This one goes on my have to see list.View the trailer here!

GET THE GRINGO- Unlike many, I have no problem with Mel Gibson. I think he has proven himself to be a fine director and fine actor in the past, and whatever personal issues he has I’m content to keep it his personal business and none of mine.

My reason being as long as he doesn’t go out of his way to make his personal issues public, ala Michael Richards, I’m not really concerned. We all have our bad days and bad moments, moments that should belong to us and the people involved… not necessarily the world. So yeah I have no issues with Mel Gibson, so looking at GET THE GRINGO as just a film I have to say; there’s nothing of real interest in the whole trailer, except Mel Gibson and he just looks sad and tired throughout.

I think he’s trying to pick pseudo comedic films to get back in the graces of the audience, but his choices (BEAVER before GET THE GRINGO) have the problem of being a little too creepy and perhaps a little too sad and forced, and GET THE GRINGO seems to feel (from the trailer) like that. Busy and forced and sad.

I don’t dislike the trailer, it’s just nothing in it that motivates me to go out and see it or even rent it. I think Mel Gibson would be better, rather than starring in these films to attempt to ingratiate himself to the audience, embracing instead (to some extent) the tirades against him.

I could see MEL GIBSON playing a villain, an arched megalomaniac villain. Bondian villain, and that working to put him back as an actor. He needs a film and a role that won’t scream Mel Gibson first, and GET GRINGO doesn’t seem to be that film.

SWEENEY- I won’t waste words. Trailer did nothing for me.

SOUL MAN- The trailer for Guillaume Ivernel’s feature film SOUL MAN looks… AWESOME!!! Wonderful computer animated imagery. With dazzling camera scenes, and a kick ass protagonist. Not sure yet why the film is called SOUL MAN when the protagonist is a Soul Woman :), but that aside a fantastic trailer and definitely looking forward to it.

Come back next time for more trailer talk, and feel free to suggest your own favorite trailers. And you can view any trailers I haven’t posted links for… here.

MISSION IMPOSSIBLE: GHOST PROTOCOL 2011 Movie Review!

So based on the fantastic, kick-ass trailer, MISSION IMPOSSIBLE:GHOST PROTOCOL was one of my most eagerly anticipated films of 2011. So finally seen, with a 1st time Live-Action director Brad Bird at the helm, what is my verdict?

Well first it’s worth setting the scene, I saw this in IMAX, not IMAX 3D or 3D, but IMAX. Parts of this film were shot in the 70mm IMAX format, but not in 3D. So yeah I have no problem, viewing a film shot in IMAX in IMAX.

Well let me rephrase that, seeing this in IMAX is not a problem. Payment the exorbitant markup to see this in IMAX… big problem.

When the cashier said $15.50 I actually had to pause, for a less anticipated movie I would have told him forget it and either not see it in IMAX (which I notice theaters are making it difficult to do, offering either no regular non-Imax, non-3D showings, or these showing only seldom and at inconvenient times) or just wait for DVD.

I can understand seeking to increase revenue in a down market, but attempting to fleece and extort your existing customer base may not be the way. You end up with people like myself, who actively will seek out less IMAX movies and movies in general, because of such price gouging at theaters.

A $15.50 ticket?!! Really?? You’re talking what, a 50% markup over regular ticket prices? That is just not good.

So already you’re creating the wrong mindset for people going into the film, the way my brain, and a lot of peoples brains work, Anything $10 or less, is kind of an impulse buy. You look at the 2hrs of big screen entertainment, and you justify it as $5/hr. Not horrible.

But suddenly cracking $15, and it’s suddenly a purchase that registers in your brain as expensive. You start getting thoughtful about the money spent, which is not really what you want consumers doing, questioning if they are getting value, getting their money’s worth.

It’s a dangerous habit to get the customer into, making a movie ticket less impulse buy and more potentially over-priced money-waster.

So it’s with that mindset a bit in my head I enter the darkened IMAX theater.

This theater being one of AMC’s retrofitted pseudo Imax theaters/Midget Imax theaters, it is not a real 5 story high, 70 foot wide screen (yet another reason I balk at paying the exorbitant prices), that said it is a very large screen for a multiplex.

And obviously they are trying to at least give you something to kinda justify that expense because man, they really had the sound and bass cranked, the picture looking great. I’ve seen IMAX movies at this theater before, and they raised the game for this movie. I sat there looking at the seven trailers prior to the movie, having my chest pummeled by sound, and my eyes dazzled, and I have to say… , I was impressed.

And the seven trailers?

SNOW WHITE & HUNTSMAN- An action packed updating of the Snow White myth

MAN ON THE LEDGE- Intriguing looking heist film

JOHN CARTER- I hated the first trailer for this film, however this new trailer actually looks great,

UNDERWORLD:AWAKENING- I’m no fan of this francise, having only seen bits of previous movies, but this trailer looks good if not great. And I’m always game for a Werewolf movie. RISE OF THE DARK KNIGHT- I have my problems with Nolan’s films. Unlike most I’m not a fan, that said this was a decent enough trailer

GI JOE: RETALIATION- I hated the first GI Joe Movie, however this one actually looks good. Mostly due to Dwayne The Rock Johnson.

THE TITANIC in 3D- There’s one person I don’t bet against when it comes to 3D, and that’s James Cameron. If James Cameron puts his name behind something it’s good enough for me. And watching the trailer I was reminded of all the people who have spent years deriding Titanic, who are going to end up eating their words as they pay to see it a 2nd time in 3D. Fan boys are an odd breed with selective memory, and they like to bash what is successful and popular, just because it is successful and popular. TITANIC became thw largest grossing movie of its time for a simple reason, because it was an effing epic movie, and because people could not stop seeing it.

A lot of fan boys have this revisionist memory, almost attacking things for being popular, forgetting that at the time they enjoyed the movie just as much as everyone else. But in hindsight, and with some posing it becomes the rage to bash on TITANIC. A similar film is SUPERMAN returns, that was a darling when it came out, everyone was raving about the plane scene and the bullet to the eye, but suddenly in blogs and podcasts and the peanut gallery it becomes revised as a bad movie, by the same ones who enjoyed it at the time. So yeah the fickle and schizoid ranting of fanboys I let go in one ear and out the other, quality tells. And quality says, while it’s not going to make a billion dollars in theaters again, it’s going to do very respectable business for a revival film.

I’m pretty sure there was a 7th one, but I can’t remember what it was.

Okay, enough with the trailers… onto the feature.

Brad Bird’s transition from animation to live action can only be called… impressive and epic.

Wow, from first frame to last, what grabbed me was just how brilliant and accomplished this film looked. how the heck does a first time live-action director pull off a film on this scale.

It is a gorgeous looking movie, stylishly filmed, and action packed. It’s easily the best of the MISSION IMPOSSIBLE series, and the performances… I’ve said it before, and I’ll say it again.,.. Tom Cruise is one of Hollywood’s best actors, and that he has maintained giving 110% in his work, even while dealing in the meat-grinder that is the press, and with fickle fanboys, is only to be applauded.

Agree or disagree with Cruise’s beliefs if you choose, though how that’s anyone’s business but his I don’t know, but what he puts on the screen can not be questioned. He’s a star, the likes of which we seldom see anymore. Add to that wonderful performances by his IMF (the use of that acronym kept tripping me up, I would immediately think International Monetary Fund (Boo! Hiss!) rather than Impossible Missions Force (Yay! Hurrah!) team-members, namely Jeremy Renner, Simon Pegg, Paula Patton; fantastic stunts, beautiful locales, and bone crunching action and you have a fun ride at the movies.

Thant said, it’s not perfect. The pacing is a bit uneven, bordering on long, and the script at brief times is a bit by the numbers. I think it probably could have benefited from tighter editing and a shorter runtime, that said I was quite satisfied for the film to play out at its pace.

All in all it’s a solid ***1/2 out of **** and is definitely one I’ll be adding to my DVD collection. B+.

INTO THE MYSTERY: Remembering DWAYNE MCDUFFIE

“You writers live too much out of the world.”
— Carol Reed’s THIRD MAN.

I just heard about Mr. McDuffie’s passing.

We had exchanged emails, a couple weeks ago, about doing an interview.

I wanted to discuss his work and discuss how DC Editorial had hampered his comic book work on JLA (as well as Marvel on FF), and the success of his animation work, and his future plans.

Life being life and we all being immortal, I had put off following up on the interview until we had more time.

Needless to say, time and tide continues to surprise us all.

A towering individual, not only in terms of height (he was 6’7″) but in terms of talent, and enthusiasm, he will be greatly missed by me and many.

I think in a medium that is ever less inclusive, that is going backwards rather than forwards (how DC and Marvel treated him is part and parcel of people who consider themselves liberal but are not, holding ever more egregious lines of pride and prejudice), he was a rare voice against the inherent prejudice, tokenism, and marginalization of people and more the presentation of people.

He had this outrageous idea that these tales of modern myth, could support more than the single token, and tokenized, character of color and instead provide a multiplicity of characters of color. In a medium that still follows to great degree the Disney model of segregation and marginalization, he wanted the myths and the mythmakers… to be better than that.

And to this end he made fantastic inroads into redefining the myths we feed our kids through shows like STATIC SHOCK and JUSTICE LEAGUE UNLIMITED, and with the latter expanding the scope/expectations of American televised animation. JLU is very much a cartoon that appeals to adults who grew up on these characters, as well as kids, and offers a storyline with scope. And remains a watershed work.

It is therefore sad, and inexplicable that with such a pedigree, the editorial department of DC and Marvel, refused to grant his comic work the same license and freedom as his Animation work, and all readers are the poorer for that… sabotage. DC’s actions seemingly more about getting the Milestone characters, completely under thumb, to no doubt like other multi-cultural friendly properties, such as ZUDA, be misused, marginalized and ultimately taken off the table, and buried from the sight of day.

I love all these keepers of a 50s status quo, of the white way, particularly at DC Comics Publishing wing, who come out now in the wake of his passing to praise McDuffie’s work, when they did nothing but their best to butcher his work while alive. Hypocrisy. Be honest now, in your heart of hearts, be honest. You stink just a little of hypocrisy.

Save your pretty lies, and if true sorrow feel, show it in your actions, and not in your primping words.

You did wrong by him in life, do right by him in death, and in so doing, do right by yourself.

Grow.

Learn the contours of your own prejudice and your own culpability, so you can get past it. Be more open to characters and creators of color. use well the Milestone characters, and support diversity in your mainstream books. Stop trying to erase the good creators have done with characters of color, with Marvel it’s them tearing down all the great work Christopher Priest did (instead of making his BLACK PANTHER and CREW work available again, and better yet getting him back on BLACK PANTHER, Marvel seems committed to killing or marginalizing every strong male Black Character they have), with DC it’s them going back to the 50s in terms of all their mainstream characters.

Don’t wait till someone’s demise, to realize you’ve stunted not only their growth, but by doing so your growth, and my growth, and everyone’s. When new visions are sabotaged, the medium suffers. And the medium has suffered with the interference in Duffie’s comic book work.

But in the face of that, one ever to go forward, to shine lights, rather than curse darknesses, Dwayne McDuffie continued to tell stories. His recent CRISIS ON TWO EARTHS, being the best of the DC Animated Adaptations, and his Animated ABSOLUTE SUPERMAN on my list to see.

So Animation and comics has lost a great ambassador, proponent and crafter for these four colored adventures, but more it has lost a fighter against ignorance, and intolerance and stupidity and stereotyping, in a medium filled with too many people, too many editors and writers and decision makers, who live and die only by these inanities.

But for this one fighter lost, McDuffie’s work has served to introduce many to these fields of wonders and whimsy, and hopefully to inspire new mythmakers and new myths.

My best to him and his, as he precedes us into the Mystery.

I’m going to direct you to this recent 2 pt podcast interview with Christopher Priest, coutesy of the guys at Dollcast, as it touches a bit on Milestone, and is just an invaulable insight into a medium, that while little read, becomes ever more influential to other mediums.

Here’s PART I.

and

Here’s PART II

And once you listen to that feel free to go here for a listing of books written by Dwayne McDuffie.