Not a Leap Year

We saw the new Die Hard movie last Friday, “A Good Day to Die Hard.” It wasn’t terrible—the action sequences were good and the concept was there—but compared to the last movie it was disappointing, largely because (for me) the dialogue was very stilted and cliché, focusing more on the one-liners than advancing the plot or anything. Plus it didn’t really give John McClane the “nobody else is here to do this” kind of role that the character is really known for… I ended up thinking the movie is begging for a fan fiction rewrite that could really tighten things up and make it 100% better. Or a Phantom Edit-style recut.

Of course, you always have to wonder about (yet another) sequel…

Earlier this month I set up my old Commodore 64 computer system for the kids to see, just for grins. Basically their computer desk in the office has been empty since the (older) Sony Vaio all-in-one system started dying (the integrated LCD monitor light was starting to burn out, which is a huge pain) so I figured, why not? I have to say, it is amusing as hell to see that old system set up again—but other than that first day we were playing around with it, it hasn’t been turned on.

Lots of beer things are happening, too: we’re planning this second year of Central Oregon Beer Week and that has been taking up a lot of time. Maybe I’ll do some “behind the scenes” type posts for that at some point. Suffice to say, there are a lot of good ideas floating around but trying to nail down details like sponsorship packages is a chore. Hopefully we’ll have that dialed in very, very soon and can get down to the fun stuff of drinking beer! Or at least planning out events where we get to drink beer.

Incidentally, Central Oregon Beer Week is taking place from May 20 through 27 this year—the week leading into Memorial Day Weekend. It’s going to be awesome.

Star Wars + Disney

Obviously it’s not news anymore that Disney bought the Star Wars franchise—or more specifically, Lucasfilm—but all the speculation about the announced new Star Wars movies (starting in 2015) is interesting, if amusing. I’m not particularly worried either way about this new trilogy of Episodes VII, VIII and IX, but I do wonder a bit at what tack they are going to take with them. After all, it’s been nigh on 30 years since the original cast were last on screen together, and while we would all love to see such an official reunion, it could be painful to watch.

Plus, it’s not like there hasn’t already been stories told that take place after Return of the Jedi—that’s what the Star Wars Expanded Universe is all about, really—and much of it is already considered pretty official. Two post-ROTJ series of stories that post immediately to mind—starring the characters from the Original Trilogy—are Dark Horse Comics’ Dark Empire series and Timothy Zahn’s novels. In a lot of ways either one could be considered Episodes 7-9.

And then on a completely irrelevant tangent, consider the possibilities of blending Star Wars with the other Disney properties. The Avengers vs. the Empire anyone?

Items of recent awesomeness

Some of these links aren’t as shiny-new as they were when I started this post, but even so:

The CDC’s zombie apocalypse preparedness plan: Yes, the CDC is all over the possibility of a zombie apocalypse. For real.

If zombies did start roaming the streets, CDC would conduct an investigation much like any other disease outbreak. CDC would provide technical assistance to cities, states, or international partners dealing with a zombie infestation. This assistance might include consultation, lab testing and analysis, patient management and care, tracking of contacts, and infection control (including isolation and quarantine).

Tintin: The Secret of the Unicorn move trailer: I knew Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson were making a Tintin movie, but I didn’t realize just how OMGAWESOME it was going to be until I saw the trailer:

The Javascript PC emulator: pure amazing geekery. This is an x86 processor being emulated in Javascript inside a browser. And it’s running Linux. To be clear: what is essentially a full computer is running independently inside the browser. Which theoretically means you could run, well, anything inside of it.

Superman

A few weeks ago I checked out Superman from the library (the first Christopher Reeve movie) so I could watch it with the kids; it had been far too long since I last saw it, and the kids (naturally) needed an introduction to the best “Superman” movie, well, ever. And I have to say, even though it was made in 1978 and some of the effects are, well, 1978, it holds up.

I loved the Superman movies when I was a kid; considering the only previous “on screen” Superman adventures around were basically the old George Reeves ’50s television series and the Super Friends cartoons, those movies were like magic when they came out. They turned what I could imagine about a live adaption of the comic and turned it on its ear, they were that good. And Christopher Reeve was a genius bit of casting for that role—completely filled it out like nobody has before or since.

I’m thinking of the first two movies, primarily, since they hold together relatively well. I was pretty excited about Superman III when it came out, but even then I could tell it wasn’t up to par for the first two; they gave short shrift to Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane (completely ignoring the circumstances of the second movie, it seemed), for instance, and adding Richard Pryor as a campy, weird sort of villain just didn’t click.

And then Superman IV was just a mess, obvious even to me as a kid at the time.

I never have watched Superman Returns, which purports to ignore III and IV and operate as a sequel instead to II. Too many bad reviews and from what I read about the movie itself, too much of pretty much the same things they already did in the first two movies, and Brandon Routh just isn’t Superman. And I’m sorry, but the costume looked horrible.

I actually rather enjoyed the “Lois & Clark: New Adventure of Superman” show that was on during the 90s. Dean Cain was no Christopher Reeve, but he held up.

And I love the Animated Series that was out around that same timeframe (and which continued into the Justice League series); I haven’t seen all of the episodes but I think it’s probably the best TV series done for the character.

I haven’t watched “Smallville” though. No real reason, just missed the boat I guess.

Now, you can probably see where this is going.

So there’s this new Superman movie coming out, slated for December 2012… Man of Steel. I’m not sure what to make of it yet, but it’s got some pros and cons (in my mind) going for it.

The good:

  • It’s a reboot. No more sequels or trying to tie into the past movies, this is a case where a reboot is definitely needed. And frankly, I think they can reboot Superman while foregoing the origin story (which I’ve railed against before); everybody knows Superman’s origin. Give it a nod during the credits, or in the first few minutes of the movie in flashbacks or something.
  • Zack Snyder is directing, Christopher Nolan is producing. Snyder directed 300 and Watchmen; Nolan rebooted Batman (and did it right). These are the guys you want doing a Superman movie.
  • The effects. We’re finally in an era where the effects can be believable and amazing and done right; in this case (since I didn’t see Superman Returns, but have to assume the effects were good) I’m thinking of Hancock, which for me pretty well nailed it in the effects department.

The bad:

  • Well, I don’t know if this is bad, but I’m leery of the casting; I’m not against a Brit taking the role (Henry Cavill(?) has been confirmed as Superman), but Superman is such a tough role to cast properly. Doesn’t matter who they cast, I’ll be skeptical.
  • General Zod as the villain. Not again… General Zod was the main villain of Superman II (also featured in the beginning of the original movie), a thinly-veiled variant of Zod was in the Lois & Clark TV show (“Lord Nor”), and Zod cropped up again apparently on Smallville. (Not to mention, Zod has apparently been playing a prominent role in the recent comic books.) So, what, it was, I’ve got an idea! Let’s use General Zod as the villain in the Superman reboot! Seriously? No, it’s a tired idea. The smartest thing Batman Begins did was to not start with any of the usual villains; let’s see that here. Look, I know Superman is a hard character to pair with a challenging villain: He’s Superman. But it can be done. Frankly, learning that Zod was chosen as the villain again was disappointing as dampens any excitement I might have felt about the movie.
  • DC Comics really hasn’t had much success (with the exception of the last two Batman movies) with any of their franchised properties over the last, oh, dozen years or so. If the new Green Lantern movie coming out this year tanks, then that doesn’t bode very well for Man of Steel.

Okay, deep breath… Yes, I’m excited for this movie. I hope it’s as good as the original Superman. But… well, we’ll see, won’t we?

The Ultimate Star Trek Collection

This is one of those over-the-top, for-the-person-who-has-everything, I-have-too-much-disposable-income type of things: The Ultimate Star Trek Collection on Amazon. It’s insane:

  • 212 discs
  • All 5 TV series
  • All 10 movies
  • Commentary, interviews, documentaries, featurettes, deleted scenes, trailers, and more
  • All for the whopping-low price of $2,499.99!

What a deal! Especially since you save $1,409.

W and G (May contain nuts)

Wallace and GromitSunday my dad and I took the kids to see Wallace and Gromit: The Curse of the Were-Rabbit. Hands down, the best movie I’ve seen this year. The story is funny and quirky, and the claymation is simply a delight to watch. And it’s genuinely funny, which is rare in a movie these days; like my dad said, I haven’t laughed so hard at a movie in a long time.

Amazon has a good deal on the first three Wallace and Gromit films on DVD. I’ve got a couple of them on videotape around here somewhere, but it sure would be nice to get a hold of this…

In other related news, a fire wiped out Aardman Animations over the weekend… destroyed nearly everything, including the props and sets from those first Wallace and Gromit films. That’s rough.

Fantastic Four

Okay, I admit that since I saw the trailer for it at the beginning of Star Wars, I want to see the “Fantastic Four” movie. Even though, as my brother seems to think, it will likely turn out to be desperately bad. But with today’s CGI and effects technology, even the desperately bad can look good—or at least the trailers can.

The qualm I do have about the movie is one I share with my brother—the rubbery-looking costume for the Thing. I hope the final version looks a lot better, because right now it looks like, I don’t know, Meat Man or something. This is supposed to be a character who’s mutated into orange rock or somesuch, not latex. Couldn’t they have done an all-CGI Thing?

I don’t have a problem with casting Michael Chiklis in that role, though. It seems appropriate. Peter David, who’s doing the novelization, made a comment about this: “If I had to guess, I’m thinking Chiklis’ Ben Grimm is going to be the character everyone’s talking about.” So there’s hope. Maybe.

Of course, when there’s an article on Wired about all the hype and hooplah the studio’s going through to promote the movie, that just seems to be that they’re trying too hard. The movie will look good—mostly—but it’ll likely be another Hulk.

And in related news: Defamer reports that a skywriter promoting the movie messed up by drawing the “4” backwards. Nice.