Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Who's gonna watch The Watchmen

Is it weird now that it's an American dream to be a blogger? As far as I know, most people who do this for a living aren't making a ton of scratch from it. But just being able to pontificate and feel important because YOU HAVE AN OPINION and then get paid for it... well, that's much better than bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly, I guess. So I know from my statistics that I get some traffic here, and if people do read the blog, I assume they're geeky like me, into sci-fi, comics, and other geek traditions.

I am about to drop in readership significantly.

I don't care about The Watchmen. I'm not excited about it. I didn't like the comic book and I think Fox has every right to try to stop the film from release until Warner Brothers gives them some money.

Sorry, there, I said it.

The honest truth is that, while I appreciate what Alan Moore was trying to do with his epic tale, which seems to be the deconstructing of the super-hero fantasy and placing such ideas in the real world... sure, it's great, and I'm glad he did it, but I think it's been done better since... even by Moore himself.

When I first read The Watchmen, I wasn't that into complex comics... to be honest there weren't a lot of them out there, if you didn't live near a comic book shop. In fact my first real introduction to that kind of epic storyline was Sandman #8... I'd had my father picking up Comic Buyer's Guide for me when he went to the 'big city' of Lexington, KY, and for a few months all anybody could talk about was a new horror comic called Sandman, written by some guy I'd never heard of. Well, once I turned 16 and got my license, I finally began to (occasionally, as I was poor) going to Lexington myself, and one of my first trips to the comic shop saw me purchasing this comic book.

I remember sitting in my car behind the shop after buying it. I'd read so many reviews and seen so many blurbs that I had to see what it was about. After I was done, I went in and bought the other seven issues.

This began my introduction to "indie" comics, like Tales of the Beanworld, Zot!, Nexus, The Elementals and more. Eventually I began tracking down other well-reviewed indie comics, starting with Alan Moore's other epic story, Miracleman.

Wow. Just, wow. The whole idea of taking an antiquated super-hero like that and asking "What if they really existed? What if we took super-hero physics and applied them to our world?

"What would it be like if these gods walked among us?"

The savage Kid Miracleman was unparalleled violence in comics, at the time, and it was also so amazingly good. Yes! This is what they would be like. Superman wouldn't be a Boy Scout, he'd take what he wanted. He'd find all the Kryptonite in the world and hide it on Europa and make sure we were never able to get to it.

So, it was around 1995 that I first read The Watchmen. My general response today would have been "Meh." I really only liked the Dr. Manhattan stuff, because Alan Moore was taking quantum theory (as it was at the time) and twisting it up and that was fun, but all the other stuff just bored me.

I've tried since to get into the series, but it never resonates with me. It feels like a relic. Perhaps it is.

That said, the movie looks pretty decent from what I've seen. Warner Brothers reportedly isn't being completely faithful to the story, but come on, do we really need a giant squid, guys? Eh, some people are bunchin' their panties up about that, I'm not. But all in all, Warner Brothers looks to be doing a smashing job on the movie.

And here comes Fox to fuck it up!

Okay, here's where I differ from the fanboys crying for a boycott of Fox to protest what they're doing. Are Fox being dicks? Absolutely. And they have every rights to be dicks about it because they still own the rights to distribute the movie. Why Warner Brothers would even contemplate putting this into production without first securing the rights is beyond me. Would it be okay for me to film and distribute a sequel to The Dark Knight without securing the rights to the characters? No it wouldn't.

Fox is completely within their rights to get compensation for a movie adaptation that they still own the distribution rights to. Warner Brothers should have locked this down a long time ago, and yes, it would have cost them a pretty penny. But now that penny is going to be much, much prettier.

That said, I'll still go see the movie, if only to oggle Dr. Manhattan's Smurf junk.

Friday, January 9, 2009

Batman: The Brave and the Bold

Have I mentioned how shocked I am at Batman: The Brave and the Bold?

When Cartoon Network first announced the series, my eyes rolled into the back of my skull so quick you'd have thought I was a slot machine. A new animated Batman series that looks more based on the Adam West-era Batman than the current, angsty version that Paul Dini and company had kept alive and on the air? Who's going to watch that?

Besides, I'd already been disappointed with two other "cutesy" animations of the DC Universe... the Legion of Super-Heroes didn't do anything for me, and while Teen Titans wasn't bad, all I really cared about was Puffy Ami Yumi's super-cool theme song (a song I'd totally do at karaoke). Cutesy just didn't work for me anymore.


The show had me from the first clip I saw online. And frankly, Even just hearing the super-jazzy theme song and opening titles, and I realized that there's nothing wrong with a Batman that's not grimacing all the time and trying to figure out what level of raspy is appropriate for his voice. There's nothing wrong with a Batman that was... well, fun.

The best thing about the show is what promise it holds for fans of the DC universe... you're practically guaranteed every week team-ups with others from the DC Universe, both heroes AND villains, similar to the also-excellent Justice League: Unlimited. So far we've seen the current Blue Beetle, Firestorm, the Green Lantern Corps, and R. Lee Emrey voicing Wildcat. WILDCAT.

I mean, he teamed up with B'wana Beast in the episode I just watched. B'wana Beast.

It's an incredibly fun show with an incredibly fun, retro score to it that I really hope gets released as some sort of soundtrack, similar to the very excellent Batman Beyond. I could listen to that all day, never mind what I'd do with it at my job.

Fridays on Cartoon Network at 8 PM EST. Put it on Tivo, just once, why doncha?

Monday, January 5, 2009

Doctor Who???

I'm not sure how to react to Matt Smith being named the next Doctor Who.

Of course the cutesy approach is also appropriate... "Doctor WHO?" Meaning, who the fuck is this guy. I have to say, as much as I want to chime in with all of the complaints... he's too young, he's too emo, look at that hair... I really don't feel it in my bones. After all, I thought Tennant looked perfectly silly when he first showed up. And I would not have thought the other guy was appropriate either, until I saw him in the role.

I guess it all boils down to how they'll write the character. Will he still be aloof, mysterious, with just a streak of viciousness now and again? Will he be too goofy? Will he be too serious?

But to be honest, the real thing that matters, to me at least, isn't going to be who's playing The Doctor... it's going to be a.) first and foremost, the stories, and b.) nearly as important, the companion. Yes, I'm one of those weird ones that frets more over the companion than I do The Doctor.

Rose was a wonderful companion, but she left at the right time. A big part of me didn't want to see her come back (particularly when she did come back and seemed to have one hell of an overbite or something). And Martha... well, Martha was shocking to me, because I began to realize that deep down inside of me somewhere, I was a little bit racist.

It's true. Sure, it wasn't a "join the Klan let's burn a cross" racism, but a part of me couldn't believe that they could pull off a black companion with The Doctor. In this day and age, I felt that. Now, a black Doctor? I don't think I'd have a problem with that. If I can accept a black Ford Prefect, a black Doctor isn't a problem. But somehow the companion... it just wouldn't fit for some reason.

After the second episode I'm glad to say my doubts were gone, and I couldn't believe that there was a time that I felt otherwise. Still, it was disconcerting to find even a sliver of racism in me.

On to Donna Noble. I know it's fashionable to say "I warmed up to her" or "Well she irritated me at first" or "It's about time somebody stood up to The Doctor," but holy hell did I hate that screeching harpy. To me... to me it felt like she was getting a free ride because of her comedy element. She was distracting in her first episode and distracting when she returned. Shrill, obnoxious, not likeable at all.

So for me, this young pretty boy dilemma is really a non-issue. Sure, he looks like he just stepped out of a screening of Twilight. Tell me who the companion will be, and I'll tell you whether I need to worry.

Sunday, January 4, 2009

BluRay dieting & Doctor WHO?

I tell myself that I will not allow a collection of BluRay Discs to form and amass and get out of control like my DVDs did. After getting a first generation DVD player from my workplace (and breaking several laws doing it, I might add), my collection once neared 750. Mind you, a lot of them were garbage, but I like watching garbage.

So when I got my PS3 (part of a bundle for my HDTV) I made the promise that only timeless classics (to me anyway) would be bought. At first, the purchase of three discs were enough:

Alice Cooper, Live at Montreux 2005: an actual Alice Cooper concert shot in HD at the Montreux festival. It was from the Dirty Diamonds tour, an album I didn't hate but didn't particularly find appealing, as opposed to the previous AC album, The Eyes of Alice Cooper, which was phenomenal. Timeless Alice Cooper concert classics like Steven, Ballad of Dwight Frye and Welcome to my Nightmare mixed with newer classics like What Do You Want From Me... and even a gem from the album From The Inside appears... a rarity.

The Omega Man: to me, the best part of the Charlton Heston sci-fi trilogy of the late 60s/early 70s (the other two being Planet of the Apes and Soylent Green). Nothing says I'm a Product of the 70s like this movie. kind of like Return of the Living Dead epitomized the 80s for me, or The Crow for the 90s. Albino vampires and the immortal, lovely Rosalind Cash with my favorite movie quote ever: "Don't screw up. I know how to roll, but it's hard on the elbows. And if you just have to play James Bond, I'll bust your ass." Plus an incredible score that I was fortunate enough to snag a copy of when it was released on a limited edition CD recently.

Dark City: Alex Proyas' masterpiece as it was meant to be, and probably the disc I've watched the most. I love the fact that Roger Ebert did a new commentary for the new release, just as he did for the original DVD release. And it's just as interesting to listen to.

Well, after these first three purchases, I was content to skip buying new discs until The Dark Knight came out, and I admit I'm not against making more purchases... but unlike DVD, they'll need to be very very limited to my Most Favourite Things. So, some Star Trek movies? Perhaps. Shock Treatment, Rocky Horror and Little Shop of Horrors, yes, if they're ever issued. Whatever Happened To Baby Jane? would be a favorite. But probably no Godzilla movies; no Britcoms, no TV shows (except Spaced and Wonderfalls) and no really bad movies.

However, I'm content to put them on my Wish List and let my family buy them for me. Yesterday my brother's Christmas gift finally arrived:

Young Frankenstein: the funniest Mel Brooks movie ever, and his most perfect. Now don't get me wrong, I know that this is pretty much tied with Blazing Saddles among Brooks fans, and I can't deny how important a movie like Blazing Saddles was and is; there's no way you could make a Western Comedy nowadays where an old lady tells the black sherriff, "Up yours, nigger!" But Young Frankenstein is simply perfect. It is a perfect love song written to the James Whales movies, which you don't even have to have seen to appreciate. It's also genuinely funny, no matter how many times you've seen it; who can't crack up at PUDDDDINONDARIZZZZZZZZ?

2001: Stanley Kubrick's super-boring movie is also one of the best science fiction stories ever, both in movie form and in Arthur C. Clarke's novel (and even going further back, to the original short story, The Sentinel), and it looks especially good on BluRay. The new documentaries that come with it are snazzy too; that's always been my favourite bit of DVDs, the docs you get with older films.

Terminator 2: Judgement Day: Who doesn't love this movie? I don't think they actually did any special HD recoding or anything for this edition, but damn, does it look pretty in HD. It's making me want to get another 5.1 setup though, because neither the Dolby or DTS mixes properly transmit the soundtrack on my HDTV.

OH! I didn't mention the best thing about the Young Frankenstein disc... besides the new docs, it has an isolated score! So now I gotta dig through all my old shit and find my MiniDisc recorder and make a copy.

I was going to talk about the new Doctor Who also, but this post has gone on long enough, I'll post about it next time.