22 April 2006

Impossible Mission? Or Futile Enterprise?

I hesitate to make this entry because even though this blog is touted as containing "things that matter to nerds," Trek is pretty geeky, even for nerds. But I am a closet fan, having seen every Star Trek episode ever made (including the animated series) save possibly a few episodes of Deep Space Nine. But I am closing that gap even still. But with its Superman movie tie-in, I felt justified. Read on.

JJ Abrams, creator of Lost, Alias, and the Director of Mission Impossible 3 has been given the task of writing and directing a new Star Trek film and revitalizing the franchise. Is that even possible? Is JJ the man for the job? Don't get me wrong, I am pretty into Lost, and was into Alias for the first 3 seasons, but they were new creations. MI:3 looks like it might not suck, which is actually saying a lot after MI:2 got Wooified, but I will have to wait to see how it turns out. But messing with Star Trek is a whole nother ball game. ST XI will supposedly feature new actors playing young Kirk and Spock in the Academy. Could be good... Could be a disaster. Lets not forget what almost happened when JJ tried to reinvigorate Superman. Here are some highlights:

*Krypton did not explode, thus Superman is NOT the last son of Krypton.
*Lex Luthor is a CIA agent
*Luthor is actually also a Kryptonian
*Superman dies

*After Supes dies, Jor-El senses the death and kills himself, goes to heaven and talks Kal-El into coming back to life

*Superman digs his way out of his own grave

*Superman fights a flying Lex Luthor

*Superman returns to Krypton for a sequel featuring a political struggle

Given these plot elements, I can only imagine what could happen to Trek. At least whatever happens it will be unexpected. One thing against this film is that it will be "an odd one" Star Trek I, V, and IX were pretty bad. III and VII ok. But the good ones of course were the even ones. Even X was better than any of the odds, except maybe III. And if you didn't follow that, you should take solace in knowing that you aren't quite as big a geek as me.

21 April 2006

Pajama Party - Retrospective 2005

I could have gone the easy route and posted a couple of new pics from X3, like Beast reading a book while hanging upside down, or Multiple Man, or I could just mention that the Official X3 Website is live (the Mutants section is pretty cool). But YOU demand more, and so I am going to occasionally have a supplementary retrospective looking at superhero movies and shows of years past. Hope you like it. This week is 2005.


The year started off pretty limp with Elektra debuting in January over Martin Luther King weekend to horrible reviews and a lackluster box office. Elektra lost out to Racing Stripes (that movie about the racing zebra and the talking flies) among others. In all, Sidney Bristow... I mean Elektra only mustered $24 million domestic total. I have to say, the movie is much better than it got credit for if seen in the vein of Hero, or House of Flyingg Daggers. It dared to be different and paid the price. I like the style and the villains including a dude with tattoos that come to life. But the story could have been stronger. I also was not a huge fan of ER doc Goran Visjic. This pretty much killed the Daredevil franchise even though it didn't have much to do with Daredevil anyways.

Woah! In February, we were served up another dose of Keanu in Constantine the supernatural detective. I chose to pass on this one, but it actually did pretty well. For a dude that takes a lot of crap for his acting skill, Keanu has been remarkably bankable. I think this film's tagline must apply to both the actor and his role: Hell doesn't want him. Heaven won't take him. Earth needs him.

The real highlight of the year arrived in June with Batman Begins. a low key marketing campaign didn't shove "yet another batfilm" down people's throats. Instead, a buzz was able to build and the film was able to speak for itself earning just over $200 million, and more importantly, resurrecting the Batman film franchise. Batman Begins got almost everything right. Bruce Wayne is the focus of much of the film, and in fact his story slightly outshines Batman's in the film. The villains were not overplayed, and the gadgets were grounded in reality. Great performances were delivered by almost everyone and the next batfilm is surely going to be huge.

Contrastingly, Fantastic Four opened in July with a loud marketing campaign, bringing some cheese and comedy along with it. It also was a success earning $155 million and putting the wheels in motion for a sequel. Fantastic Four was more of a missed opportunity than a bad movie. It is overall decent, and has some good moments, but Dr Doom's portrayal is motiveless and wussified. Good villains make good heroes, and this villain was lame. I liked Johnny Storm ok, and the Invisible Girl was ok too, but the Thing seemed like he stepped out of a B movie, and Reed Richards was just plain forgettable. Some of the criticism of this film was so stupid though, like Ebert saying that the Human Torch was just like the Flash. Um, Roger, the Flash runs fast, and the torch flies and is on fire. What are you smoking? If anything, this movie showed that summer is big enough for 2 superhero films to succeed. Hopefully FF4-2 will make the proper adjustments. If so, it could be a lot of fun (though still no Batman).

Disney was quick to try and cash in on the superhero genre with Sky High coming out in the tail end of July. The previews for this film looked like it was trying to be hip like The Incredibles, in a sort of X-Men school environment. Who knows, maybe it was really good, but I will probably never find out. It also was a modest success, terrible effects, costumes, and all. But then again, who can get enough of Kurt Russell? Not me.

In the TV realm, Smallville continued to delight. Season 5 opened with a short but sweet version of Superman 2. Clark journeys to the fortress of solitude, battles Kryptonians, beats them way too easily, and loses his powers. The bad guys also flew off in a 2-D portal just like in the films. Brainiac also made his debut on the series bringing the show to a new level of coolness.

Lastly, DC Comics continued to dominate with 3 animated shows. The Batman continued to sell toys, Teen Titans continued to look Japanese, and Justice League Unlimited continued to appeal to more adults than children.

And that Folks was 2005. Overall I'd have to say it was a pretty good year.

19 April 2006

Disappearing Ink #9 - Tim Burton's Corpse Bride

If you are into necrophilia, this movie may disappoint you as the main character Victor and the Corpse have a strictly platonic relationship. The film opens with Victor and Victoria preparing to meet the day before their arranged marriage. While both sets of parents are creepy and self serving, Vic and Vicky are both genuine and likeable good people. When the two meet, there is a spark that makes them think the arrangement may not be so bad. Unfortunately, Vic being a bit of a klutz keeps messing up the rehearsal. When he goes outside to practice his vows, he accidentally marries a corpse.

There are a number of good things going for this film. Vic and Vicky do manage to generate a real romantic air without the film being cheesy at all. The audience really pulls for them to be together in the face of their misfortune. The Corpse also is a sympathetic character, not a monster, who the audience wants to find peace and a happily ever after. Stop motion animation can be distracting if done poorly, but the smoothness of the effect in Corpse Bride is incredible, and the medium suits itself perfectly to this film's gothic feel.

While the art designs are intricate and creative, Corpse Bride falls victim to comparison of Burton's other masterpieces, The Nightmare Before Christmas in particular. Compared to Nightmare, Corpse Bride's characters seem almost unimaginative, and the dead seem fairly tame. My favorite designs are of the land of the living. Burton made an interesting choice to make the land of the living very cold and dark almost exclusively using black white and gray colors for everything. In contrast, the land of the dead uses a much more extensive color palette incorporating blues and greens into the skin tones of the characters. Thus, the land of the dead is given a warmer and more lively mood. In theory, this is a clever creative choice, though the colorful cast of dead seem so unnatural that the colors just don't work. Tim Burton's Corpse Bride also contains several musical pieces. While adequate, none of them are as catchy as Nightmare's masterful score. Danny Elfman really dropped the ball here, as a couple more memorable tunes would have really invigorated the film.

While this film may never escape the shadow of Burton's Nightmare, it is a good film in its own right with a surprising amount of heart. It's just that I expected a bit more, and I could't stop thinking that I had already seen a better version of this movie. Regrettably, I can only give this film a B-.

Check out my past reviews:
Princess Mononoke
The Black Cauldron
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy

18 April 2006

Sandwich 3.0

Building upon the disgusting real life P'EatZZa sandwich editorial and my original investigation of the sandwich, comes a brilliant SNL parody of what is sure to one day actually be on the menu at some fast food joint (most likely Carl's Jr, home of the Breakfast Burger, and Double Six Dollar Burger). This is one of the funniest things I have ever seen, but the real question at hand, does this qualify as a sandwich?

If you weren't keeping track at home, that's:

* A crunchy all beef taco, slathered in nacho cheese, lettuce, tomato, and our special southwestern sauce

* Wrap it in a soft flour tortilla, with a layer of refried beans

* Wrap that in a corn tortilla, with a middle layer of monterey jack cheese

* Wrap that in a deep fried gordita shell, smear on a layer of special guacamolito sauce

* Bake it in a corn husk, filled with pico de gallo

* Wrap that in an authentic Parisian crepe filled with egg, gruyere, merguez sausage, and portabello mushrooms

* Wrap that in a Chicago-style deep-dish meat lovers' pizza

* Roll it up in a blueberry pancake, dip it in batter, deep-fry it until it's golden brown

* Serve it in a commemorative tote bag filled with spicy vegetarian chili.