Tuesday, July 22, 2008

Last night I finally went to see The Dark Knight.


I don`t think that movie could have been any better than it was. I was blown away. It seemed to me to be the most faithful adaptation of a comic book to film that I have ever seen. Not the story, mind you. That was written specifically for the film. It was the characters themselves that were true to the comic. Heath Ledger played a psychotic, destructive Joker; as opposite from Jack Nicholson's campy bright-purple-wearing character as one could get. Christian Bale, Michael Caine and Gary Oldman all reprise their characters very well. The only complaint I have would be about Maggie Gyllenhaal, who takes over Katie Holmes' character of Rachel Dawes. I'm sorry, but this woman could not act her way out of a paper bag. Other than that, the film is perfect.

If you haven't seen it yet, GO. Go right now. I'm serious. Well, finish reading this first.

Everyone should see this film, even if it's just to see Heath Ledger in his final role. That man COULD act his way out of a paper bag, a non-biodegradable plastic bag, and even one of those new environmentally friendly cloth bags and still bring the groceries in from the car. (What? Wait, I think I lost the handle on that analogy. Just go see the movie, okay?)

Oddly enough as I went to sleep last night, I wasn't thinking of the Joker trashing Gotham City and laughing maniacally. Images from one of the previews kept flashing through my mind. The preview was for a movie called The Watchmen, and it's a film I've unknowingly been waiting to come out for 18 years and knowingly been anticipating since I found out it was in production last year. You can see the preview here.

For those of you who are unfamiliar with this one, The Watchmen is probably the greatest graphic novel of all time. I recieved it for Christmas when I was 13 years old (a story I'll save for another day.) Since then it has been my favorite comic and I've probably read it well over 100 times.

I won't get into the story or how I feel about it or anything like that because then I'd be here all night. Again, stay tuened for another entry on that one.

Instead just some quick thoughts about the trailer:
- Dr. Manhattan seems REALLY blue to me. This isn't a complaint; I have no complaints about this trailer. It's just that after reading the graphic novel for so many years, you get used to the way the characters look. I just didn't expect him to be so glowy.
- It looks like Zack Snyder is using his slow-then-fast-then-slow camera technique that he perfected in 300. I hope he doesn't use too much of this. It worked well for 300, but this is something completely different.
- Visually, the film looks great. As close to the comic book as one can get, really. Although the only character that looks exactly like the comic is Rorshach. All the others have had their spandex (it's a privilege, not a right!) costumes made more textured for a better on-screen look.
- The final scene in which Dr. Manhattan constructs his Mars palace just blew me away. I mean, that is exactly as it was presented in the comic.

I don't mean to sound critical about this trailer. As I realized what it was, sitting in the Polo Park theatre, I almost shat myself. (Well, not really. I just wanted to use the word "shat" in a sentence.) I just want to love this movie so much that I find myself over-analyzing it just a bit.

Arrggh! I have to wait eight more months before I can see this! I'm sure I will post on this subject again, as I have a lot to say about it. That's it for now, though



Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Jump the Shark

Here's a neat website, if you're a big TV buff. Jumptheshark.com gets its name from an episode of Happy Days (broadcast date: September 20,1977,) in which The Fonz jumps a shark on a pair of water skis. I had originally thought that the expression meant the penultimate peak of a TV show's greatness, after which everything else sucked. I was wrong. Allow me to cut and paste the Wikipedia entry:
Jump-the-shark moments may be scenes like the one described above that finally convince viewers that the show has fundamentally and permanently strayed from its original premise. In those cases they are viewed as a desperate and futile attempt to keep a series fresh in the face of declining ratings. In other cases the departure or replacement of a main cast member or character or a significant change in setting changes a critical dynamic of the show. These changes are often attempts to attract their fans' waning attention with over-the-top statements or increasingly overt appeals to sex or violence.
So its basically THE EXACT OPPOSITE of what I thought it was. I just remember watching that episode of Happy Days as a kid and thinking that it was the coolest thing I had ever seen. That's a six-year old's point of view talking, I guess.
One of the most popular ways to do this back in the eighties and nineties was to introduce a new character, usually a child. The Cosby Show, Married with Children, Growing Pains (twice guilty: Leo DiCaprio and the new kid, "Krissy.") Who's the Boss and Family Matters were all guilty of this, among many others. That was the point at which I stopped watching most of these shows. I remember the point at which I actually recognized this as a plot device was when the character of "Seven" was introduced on Married with Children. I thought,"This is completely ridiculous, why would they do this?"
Then it dawned on me.
And every other show that had done this ran through my mind and I recognized this tactic for what it really was: an act of desperation. Ever since then I have looked upon the introduction of a new child character in any TV show as its death knell. In a way, the act itself of bringing a new child character in kills the show's ratings. Maybe that's why it doesn't happen anymore.
This website is all about the voting. Diehard fans of certain TV shows like Lost vote that their fave show has never Jumped the Shark." To me this is rubbish. Every show Jumps the Shark at some point or another. I believe that it unfair to even look at a show for this phenomenon until it has finished its run and one can look at the entire series as a whole.
One show that many say never Jumped the Shark is Seinfeld. I will certainly agree that Seinfeld went out on a high note (my favorite all-time episode is the one where they're stuck in the Puerto Rican Day parade, second-last episode.) I would argue that Seinfeld jumped the shark in it's very last episode. Many shows do this. They complete the series with a total Cleveland Steamer of a show in an effort to make all of the fans "happy" and still leave open the possibility of a spin-off or movie,. Most of them suck. In my mind this is the worst way to jump the shark, as a crappy series finale leaves a bad taste in one's mouth for the whole series.
What do you all think? Has your favorite show Jumped the Shark? Can you think of examples I've missed? I await your thoughts.
Stick a fork in me, I'm done.

Wednesday, July 9, 2008

The Big Red Machine is back!

I was watching mostly NBC tonight, and I saw a bunch of these little short Hellboy 2 promos. Pretty funny stuff, actually. One of them features Hellboy being interviewed by James Lipton on Inside the Actor's Studio, another has him gently stroking a fluffy kitty. It's pretty apparent that whatever studio produced Hellboy 2 also owns NBC. Ah, cross promotion. Where would we be without you?

I am excited as hell -er- boy? (sigh, I gotta stop that.) about this movie. I loved the first one and the comic series and this one looks just as good, if not better.

Here's a question: why is it that the studio feels the need to tout this film as being from the director of Pan's Labyrinth? How about from the director of Hellboy? Isn't that one a little more relevant? What, because Pan's Labyrinth got all these critical accolades and oscars and Hellboy didn't that makes it more appealing to the masses? Well, let me clue you in a bit, Universal: this one ain't gonna win too many awards either, other than for special effects or makeup or somehing like that.

I just think its funny: All these comic book movies being made, and the studios are still trying to find a way to sell them to mainstream audiences. What they haven't figured out yet is that the comic book/sci-fi/fantasy audiences are becoming the mainstream. Just look at the turnout at conventions across North America. The San Diego comic con, taking place at the end of this month, is almost completely sold out. Our own Manitoba Comic Con is moving from the Victoria Inn into the Convention Centre this year because of record attendance. We're everywhere!

Anyway, between Hellboy, The Dark Knight and the upcoming X-Files movie, I will be hitting the theatre a lot this month. I'll post reviews here as I see 'em!


Saturday, July 5, 2008

The force is strong with this one.

So last night, Jack was pulling his usual stall techniques ("I pick out story, Daddy," I brusha teeth, Daddy,") for keeping me from putting him to bed, when he actually asked for something reasonable: "I needa milk, Daddy!" Who am I to refuse the boy his bedtime glass of milk? So I took him to the kitchen and gave him some milk, with a firm reminder that once he was done, it was bedtime. He acknowledged my terms with "My milk!" and went to watch some TV.

I joined him and quickly found Empire Strikes Back playing on Spike which I started watching simply to see if I still knew all the lines. (I do, how lame is that?!)

What amazed me is that Jack was extremely interested as well. When Yoda came on the screen, he would say "What's that, Daddy?"

"That's Yoda, my son," I replied.

"Dats O-da," he parroted.

Same goes for C-3PO, Chewie, anything else that looked out of the ordinary (Which is lots, in Star Wars.) The boy was transfixed for at least twenty minutes. Anyone who has kids knows what a feat it is to keep a two-year-old focused on anything other than Dora and Backyardigans for more than five minutes.

He absolutely loved it, and I was a beaming proud poppa. His education of the Star Wars universe began last night, and hopefully it will be something that he keeps an interest in as he gets older. I admit that some of it was still stalling for bedtime (if his attention would wander, I would say "Bedtime, Jack," to which he would reply, "I watcha TV, Daddy!") but he really did like it.

I am a firm fan of the original trilogy and of the "prequels" to some extent. While the writing, acting, directing, characters and overall plots of the newer films generally suck, there is something to be said about having a backstory. As we watched Empire last night, I thought of how Darth Vader got to where he was and I found I liked knowing that he had once been human, with a weird little rat-tail haircut and a spoiled rotten attitude.

I cautiously look forward to the new CGI Star Wars movie coming out next month. Check out the trailer here. Hopefully it does not lick balls. If Lucas wants to go this way for future Star Wars movies/TV shows, all the power to him. He shoulda done it for the prequel trilogy. It was 99% CGI anyway.

So to sum up: Old Star Wars good, new Star Wars bad, my son likes Star Wars, and that's cool with me.

More on this as it develops,


The prodigal son returns...

Wow. I haven't posted on this blog since last October. OCTOBER! That's nine months since I last decided to share my thoughts and experiences with the world at large.

For those of you who I haven't taked to in that time, no, I haven't had a baby or anything. I've just been simply too busy to post. School, work and family are three fairly time-consuming things and the blog just kinda fell by the wayside. Also, I notice that the blogging stopped as soon as my workload in school kicked up a notch. Those of you who are in or have taken Cre Comm know that when you spend five days a week writing various articles, proposals, pitch letters and other assorted communications pieces, the urge to write for fun kinda dies.

Well, I've decided to dust off this blog, clear out the cobwebs and start writing again. Several reasons for this, really. Since school ended I have not had an opportunity to write anything at all other than shopping lists and the occasional angry letter to George W. Bush. (Dear George: Stop doing shit. You've got less than six months left. Just relax and enjoy the plane while you've still got it. Sincerely, Dan. P.S. You suck.)

I have also found time in my schedule to actually sit down and write in it as well, so might as well take advantage, eh? Considering I almost always draw a blank whenever I go on the internet (email, facebook, wwdn, then ?) This will give me something else to do.

So whaddya think? Anything you want to talk about in particular? Drop me a line and we'll talk.