Just watch this. This would have been the greatest movie in the WHOLE WORLD to 6 year old me.
Just watch this. This would have been the greatest movie in the WHOLE WORLD to 6 year old me.
There’s a new Fantastic Four film in the works, with a cast of young actors, the apparently shocking bit being that Johnny Storm will be black (who cares…it’s 2014, and besides, Chris Evans is Captain America now). Honestly, I’m maybe in the minority here of comic fans, but who the fuck cares about the Fantastic Four?
Let me explain – I was a comic book fan growing up in the 1980s. Marvel treated the FF like royalty and treated my favorite team, the X-Men, like shit. Oddly enough, X-Men consistently out sold FF, but Marvel just LOVED the FF. They tried and tried to make people like them, but I’ll be honest, there’s not a whole lot to like about these characters. Reed Richards is pretty much a giant douchebag, Sue Storm is the abused wife who won’t leave, Johnny Storm is the closeted brother (FLAME ON!), and Ben Grimm is the sad-sack who probably would end up being your annoying Teabagger uncle these days (goddamned Obamacare doesn’t cover being turned into living rock!). While it might seem like this could lead to an interesting story, and in some ways it could…for a soap opera anyway…for the most part it’s boring as shit when you put it into a comic book.
The only good FF stories were ones where they had to deal with stuff that was totally crazy and somehow they were the only ones who could handle it…this despite the fact that both the X-Men and the Avengers had many times the firepower that the FF could muster. Hell, Thing isn’t nearly as strong as the Hulk, and Invisible Woman? Meet Jean Grey, who can do all you can do plus read minds (and eat stars occasionally…). There is just nothing about the FF that set them apart, but Marvel pimped their asses fiercely throughout the 80s and into the 90s.
Finally around 2000 people started figuring out that no one gave a shit about the FF. Marvel, flailing through bankruptcy, tried lots of ways to save them. None of them particularly worked. The movies flopped, and realistically there is no good reason to try to pull them back down off the shelf.
Well…there is one. You see, Fox owns the rights to the Fantastic Four. They also own the rights to the X-Men. Marvel just made movie history with its Marvel Cinematic Universe…the Avengers showed what could be when you do things right. So now Fox is going to try to build its own shared universe, with the Fantastic Four coming to inhabit the X-Men universe. Ok, cool…um, except the FF and the X-Men have very, very little in common. The best they get is that Franklin Richards, son of Reed and Sue, is a mutant. Except they don’t really accept that he’s a mutant, and Reed in the comics has dedicated massive amounts of time to removing Franklin’s mutant abilities. For the most part, the FF are anti-mutant bigots in the way they have historically treated Franklin.
Still, this seems to be the direction Fox is heading. I think they believe they can set up a similar shared universe, and they aren’t the only ones. Sony is trying to do the same, but they only have access to the Spider-Man family….and there isn’t exactly a lot of shared universe stuff you can do with that. Maybe a Venom spin off? The thing with the FF is, I’m pretty much sure this reboot will bomb. It won’t bomb because of the actors or because of the shared universe, it’ll bomb because the FF are fucking boring.
And that, honestly, is why any movie can fail.
Ooga Chaka Ooga Ooga…
The first GotG trailer is out…go watch it…
Ok, now that you’ve seen it…pretty awesome, no?
The problem, of course, is the negative nellies are already out in force decrying how people will never accept an animal character (Chewbacca), especially an all CGI character (Gollum), or walking trees (the Ents). And of course, comedic actors can’t make good heroes (Michael Keaton, Robert Downey Jr.). They are so certain this will be Marvel’s first big bomb of a movie…because of course Marvel has never made impossible things look possible (Thor, Thor 2, most of the Avengers).
Oh well, we’ll see!
I will freely admit that I have not watched True Detective, the newest sensation burning up the airwaves. It’s on HBO, which I don’t have, and I haven’t seen it on Vudu yet to buy the first season. However, what I’m reading…holy shit…it’s a mythos story!!!
The show is about a murder, or lots of murders, and has lots of great stars and acting and stuff like that. I really don’t know. What I do know is that a central bit of the plot revolves around The King in Yellow by Robert W. Chambers, which is very much considered a part of the Cthulhu Mythos. Dim Carcosa, Hastur, the Lake Hali, the king himself, it’s all very connected to Lovecraft, who was inspired by Chambers.
IO9 has a great write up on this, which I won’t try to duplicate. It’s just amazing to me, all these people getting into this show, and discovering that the words they are hearing, the spooky shit the characters are referring to, all exists, and existed almost a hundred years ago…
For those who would like to read The King in Yellow, it’s public domain. Here’s a link via Project Gutenberg.
I am officially sick of winter. This year has been one of the worst in decades, with temperatures plunging below -10 degrees here. And just as we get out of that, we get a foot of snow dumped on us. My car isn’t made for this weather, and I’m not either. It almost makes me want to move somewhere warmer…unfortunately, most of the warm places are inhabited by conservative bigots and knuckleheads.
In any event, I’m sick and fucking tired of all this winter shit. In the summer it can get so hot you don’t WANT to go anywhere, but it never actually keeps you from going anywhere. Winter, on the other hand, locks you in place.
Tomorrow night, the second half of Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. season one kicks off. As a fan of Marvel comics in general and specifically of the Marvel Cinematic Universe (MCU), I really hope the show gets out of low gear and starts doing something with all of the potential it has. So far the show has been pretty flat and lifeless, slowly building to…well…nothing so far. We’ve had glimpses at possible things, but nothing has yet happened to really push this show into gear.
This isn’t just a problem I have with the show. So many folks have complained that Clark Gregg, aka Agent Coulson, aka the primary mystery of the show, has come out and said that people who have dropped the show are “losers”. He chose his words poorly, but what he’s saying is that the show is going somewhere. The problem is, so far it’s done very, very little. It’s like a plane taxiing around the runway, and we’re all waiting for takeoff. Twelve episodes is a hell of a long time to wait for any sort of payoff.
However we know we will be getting some payoff. Specifically, we know that Mike Peterson on the show (J. August Richards) is becoming Dethlok! Ok, cool, we have a Marvel character here, maybe not super recognizable, but hey, it’s something. Now the only question is, will they spend ten episodes hemming and hawing before they get to him actually BEING Dethlok? We also know we have Sif and Lorelei appearing. Cool! Or it might be cool, if it doesn’t boil down to Fitz or Simmons or both giving some technobabble explanation of why Asgardian magic isn’t magic.
The point is, the show isn’t doing so hot when it comes to pleasing the actual people it needs to please: the fans. I know they will be happy pulling in the casual viewers, but that’s a recipe for a two season run at best. If you want to get to five to seven season territory, or more, you have to build the fan base. With this show, you have one! But when you slow burn your way to seemingly nothing, you’re just shooting yourself in the foot.
The major problem with the show is it doesn’t feel like it’s part of the Marvel Universe. I get that the MCU is in its infancy…you can’t expect spandex-wearing superheroes everywhere. But the show really should have been getting its ass in gear to at least give us something. We’re getting Dethlok…woo…what about any of the million other C and D list heroes out there? We’ve gotten a few villains sort of showing up, but why aren’t we seeing one or two full scale super villains? They don’t have to be Avengers class threats – you didn’t need to make Blizzard into a teenager, for example, and could have had the S.H.I.E.L.D. team take them down. Why not show more of these facilities where all the crazy tech and such is kept? Why not have Ward or May suit up in MANDROID armor? That’d be cool. You could make Ward into Guardsman or Stingray. Heck, make May into Mockingbird. It’s not like you’re going to be using Bobbi Morse any time soon, and May already is basically doing the same role. And then there’s Skye…
We know now that Skye has some kind of powers. We know that Skye is special. We’re getting the standard Whedon “magic girl” package going here…which I hate to say it, but not only is this becoming so very old and tired, but it’s actually becoming misogynistic in the way that Joss has to have magic girls…they can’t just be awesome on their own right, they can’t have come into their powers through their own efforts (like Tony Stark, the Hulk or even Captain America), they have to have been born special.
But in any case, we know she’s something…but what? I get wanting to have riddles, but come on, folks. You already have the Coulson mystery, which is seriously the only mystery anyone watching the show to start with cared about. You’ve got the Centipede mystery (it’s probably Hydra…I mean, seriously, it’s probably just Hydra). You’ve got the Clairvoyant mystery. And now you have the Skye mystery. Well fuck, guys, that’s a wee bit too much there. The plot lines start tangling way too damn much, and you know that one or more of these “big important mysteries” is going to have to turn out to be ridiculously stupidly solved because they can’t possibly deliver on all of them. The writers have clearly bitten off WAY too much to chew in one season. They could have had the Coulson mystery be the central bit, with standard “emergencies” of the week and the show would be great right now. Save Centipede and Skye and the Clairvoyant and everything else until season two, or do the Coulson thing for the first half, have a big reveal, then have Skye’s stuff take up the rest of the season. But no, you’ve tried to run it all together, and like mixing in too many colors of paint, you’re getting nothing but mud.
And this too contributes to not feeling like the show is in the Marvel Universe. There’s way too much of this mystery bullshit. If you want Centipede to be a real thing, then come out with it. Set them up, show them off, make them the new “not-Hydra”, “not-AIM” you’re pushing for the show. Have uniforms, come up with compelling villains, and make them the bad guy. Stop fucking around with “are they bad or aren’t they?” shit. This is comic books – just as I was saying above we need heroes, we also need villains. Clear cut, defined villains. Reveal the fucking Clairvoyant, and either make it a known Marvel character or make it something new, but stop futzing with it while your audience continues to dwindle from “I-don’t-give-a-shit-itis”. This is writing 101 here.
Also, I’d be ok with the show trying to find its own footing if it was a standalone project that had no framework to lean on. But that isn’t the case here. This show has some of the strongest, most well structured framework to use. It should have been well planned out, with story beats that kept you coming back episode after episode. It should not have stumbled out of the gate because it should have already been half-way to orbit based on the supporting media structure. Instead this feels like a show that has no fucking clue what it wants to be. Is it Marvel CSI? Is it Avengers-lite? Is it…fuck, it doesn’t KNOW what else it could be…
So to Mr. Gregg, who I enjoy so much – I have not given up on this show. I know it can be good. I know it can beat the pants off Arrow or any other superhero show. But you have to deliver. Just because I know you’re capable and you know your capable doesn’t mean you actually DO anything. Get the show out of low gear, get a plot line running that MEANS something, and get moving.
There are four new Stephen King Movies planned to come out this year, and I’d like to take a quick look at each, or at least the story behind each of them, and give my thoughts.
First up is the one I’m most excited for – Cell. Cell is King’s zombie opus, and it’s a smart take on the genre. In Cell, a comic book artist on a business trip to Boston is suddenly trapped in a nightmare when everyone with a cell phone becomes a cannibalistic zombie. The book is sort of a zombie road trip, with the main character and his sidekick heading north to Maine to try to find the man’s son. Along the way they pick up a young girl, and the trio work their way north, avoiding the zombies and the survivors both. The book has a heart wrenching part that I can only assume will be in the movie and probably make people really angry, but it’s meant to show just how cruel and brutal the world can be. My one hope for this movie is that it will finish the ending, which is somewhat missing in the book, much like the end of The Mist.
The next film coming up this year is called Mercy, but is based on the story Gramma from Skeleton Crew. I would say this is the movie I’m most looking forward to, because the original story is heavy on the Lovecraft references, but I’m sure all of it will be removed. Still, this is a scary goddamned story. Gramma is the story of a young boy left home alone to tend to his bedridden and obese grandmother. He comes to realize his grandmother is a witch, and worse, has apparently died while in his care. He tries to call for help, but the phone is dead, and so he waits for his mother to return. While doing so, he has to again go into his grandmother’s room and discovers she is alive, or rather, has returned from the dead. The undead woman, essentially a lich, chases after him. He grabs the phone when it rings and his aunt tells him how to subdue the dead thing by invoking the name of Hastur. As anyone who’s ever read the mythos knows, that’s not a good idea. In the end, the mother returns and discovers the old woman dead and her son apparently fine, but it’s heavily implied that the old woman has taken over his body, ala The Thing on the Doorstep.
The third film coming up is The Ten O’Clock People. This story has a lot in common with the John Carpenter movie They Live, and in fact has pretty much the same premise, only instead of special glasses, it’s quitting smoking that reveals the aliens. I’m not sure how this one will work out since it is so very similar, but heck, it might be a good movie, and They Live wasn’t exactly a blockbuster.
Finally we have A Good Marriage, which is a pretty creepy novella from Full Dark, No Stars, making it the most recent of King’s works in the list. There’s nothing supernatural in this story, one of King’s psychological thrillers instead. It’s the story of a woman who discovers that her husband was (and still may be) a serial killer. She resolves to stop him, killing him in a way that makes it seem like an accident, but a detective who was on her husband’s trail deduces that she killed him after learning the truth. Instead of turning her in, he tells her she did good. It’s not the best story in Full Dark, No Stars, but perhaps the most filmable, though I would have gone with 1922, a nice period piece that could be either supernatural or simply psychological depending on how you look at it. This movie’s screenplay is being written by King himself, so it has some real promise.
So four movies to look forward to this year, and four chances to fuck them up by Hollywood. We’ll see which ones do well and which end up in the DVD bargain bin.