Monthly Archives: August 2008

Horrible music is really pretty good

One of the things that surprised me most about Dr. Horrible was the quality of the music. I knew Joss Whedon had written a musical episode of Buffy The Vampire Slayer that got great fan reaction, but I’ve never seen it, so I didn’t know how good he and his brother were with music.

These two songs, the finale of act 1 and the start of act 2, are easily my favorites (though I love the first song of act 1 quite a bit as well).

I really think musically, “On the Rise” is probably the best song in the video. The interplay of the characters’ voices and lyrics is fantastic, plus it rapidly sets the tone for act two, which shows exactly what the song says – Dr. Horrible’s evil on the rise. This single video almost makes me believe a musical TV show could succeed (but then I remember “Cop Rock” – and I wonder if the general TV audience would be any more receptive now than in 1990).

Combine that quality music with the humor, and the quality story, and you have an explanation for the attention this internet-only little project has garnered (okay, it doesn’t hurt that Nathan Fillion, Neil Patrick Harris, and Joss Whedon all have rabid fan-bases).

The thing that might get me to actually buy the DVD when this comes out? Supposedly the commentary is going to be done purely in song. That is just too original of a concept to miss.

Superman Returns, but not as expected

Warner will follow Marvel model to develop new superhero films : Slice of SciFi

Superman Returns darker

Superman Returns darker

Ever since Superman Returns was released, rumors were flying about the sequel. Would it happen? Would Bryan Singer return to helm it? Would anybody watch it?

Not long ago (May 7th, in fact), we were hearing that Bryan Singer would be getting Superman: The Man of Steel to theaters in 2009 with wall-to-wall action in a sequel to Returns. Personally, I was pretty happy with that news. I really think Singer knows how to pull off a movie that’s both intelligent and action-packed, and respects the source material.

But now we hear that in the wake of the success of The Dark Knight, Warner Bros. will be putting a darker focus on all its superhero properties.

For fans, this means that the sequel to “Superman Returns” won’t be happening. Instead, the studio will look to take a page from this year’s “Incredible Hulk” and reboot the franchise. Part of this is a need to freshen the franchise, but part of this can also be attributed to the fact that “Returns” struggled to make back the investment Warner Brothers put into the movie.

[…]

Mr. Robinov wants his next pack of superhero movies to be bathed in the same brooding tone as “The Dark Knight.” Creatively, he sees exploring the evil side to characters as the key to unlocking some of Warner Bros.’ DC properties. “We’re going to try to go dark to the extent that the characters allow it,” he says. That goes for the company’s Superman franchise as well.

That’s disappointing. While I get treating superhero movies as real world and serious is important in creating believability, forcing a dark tone on everything is, I think, a mistake. It’s completely appropriate for Batman, but Superman’s main character traits are hope and optimism, and a bit of naiveté (at least on the surface). It is possible to go darker with him temporarily – and I think it could be done really well – but I really think it has to be in a sequel to be good. The character has to be developed as an incorruptible, “thank God he’s here” kind of character.

Plus, I gotta imagine this new direction means a significant delay before the Boy Scout graces the screen again. So that annoys me, too.

On a side note, the linked article also mentions the other properties under development: Green Lantern, Flash, Green Arrow, and Wonder Woman. I’m excited about each of them. All could translate very well to the big screen.

New series – Stargate: Voyager… uh, I mean Universe

SciFi opens a new Stargate : Slice of SciFi

As I mentioned in my last post, Stargate: Atlantis has been cancelled and will be wrapped up in a 2-hour movie. I also referred to a third potential Stargate series. That’s now been confirmed, and the title is Stargate: Universe.

The plot:

“Universe” introduces a team of explorers who find an ancient unmanned ship called the Destiny. Unable to return to Earth, the crew must fend for themselves aboard the ship, which has a preprogramd [sic] mission taking them to the far reaches of the universe.

Sound familiar? A group of explorers on a spaceship trying to get home? Wonder if it will have a female captain?

Anyway… as usual, I’ll watch it when it airs next summer. I’ll probably even like it. Then they’ll rip it away because it didn’t do American Idol numbers in its first 15 minutes.

Stargate to die a slow, painful death

GateWorld – SCI FI confirms Atlantis cancellation, TV movie

Stargate: Atlantis has been cancelled. The show will run through its 100th episode in January 2009 and end on a cliffhanger, which will be resolved by a 2-hour movie.

So basically, this is the new way the studios want to handle their successful franchises – run the series for a while, then make a few DVDs. I suppose I can’t blame them. The formula worked for SG-1. Those two movies were pretty good, really, and I hear they’re selling decently.

The press release is all rosy and positive about how great it will be to tell stories in this universe on a larger canvas. I’ve no doubt that the movies will be good, and feel larger than any individual episodes. The franchise, however, is gonna die.

Yeah, I know there’s another spin-off series under consideration. If it gets green-lit, it might last a couple seasons. But let’s be honest… SG-1 is still the base of the franchise in most fans’ minds. And they’ve wrapped up their story lines. There’s some vague talk about doing another SG-1 movie, but I don’t think it will happen – at least not any time soon. And that’s the problem: the longer you go between “episodes,” the smaller your fan base gets. The public isn’t really known for it’s large attention-span. By the time the next movie comes out, even the true fans will be saying “now, where were we in this story again?”

So they’re going to wrap up the Atlantis story in a 2-hour movie. Great! I’m glad we get the end of the story. I even think they’ll be successful in doing maybe 2 more after that, assuming they do them within 1 year. But they’ll be progressively less ‘large’ feeling, because they can’t build on each other – they have to be self-contained units. That doesn’t mean they won’t be good, they just won’t be as good as they could be.

If the new spin-off gets picked up, it will already be over before it starts. It’ll have growing pains as everyone gets used to it and we figure out if we like this copy of a copy. Then it’ll be cancelled just as it’s starting to get good, because it didn’t do gang-buster numbers out of the gate. Then they’ll make a DVD to tie it up… maybe.

So my prediction is that 2009 will have two Stargate DVDs/TV Movies, 2010 might see a poorly received spin-off, and then Stargate will be dead.

Overall, that’ll be, what… 13 years? Not bad, I guess.

I think I’d prefer to have a really thick, heavy-hitting back half to a season with an explosive conclusion than a set of “let’s milk this thing dry” DVDs, though.

Review: Stargate: Continuum

Everybody dies. Some of them more than once.

Usually, that kind of statement is either a joke or a major spoiler, but then, this is a time travel movie, so I really haven’t told you anything of any importance. Or have I? In a time travel movie, it’s all about when you die that matters.

Stargate: Continuum is a fun return to the lives of the SG-1 team. There were two main story threads left unresolved when the television show was canceled in its record-breaking 10th season. One was the completion of the Ori story (told in the movie The Ark of Truth), and the other was the fate of the final Goauld System Lord, Ba’al. This movie delivers a nice slice of Ba’al totally eradicating Stargate Command and executing his plan for the dominion of Earth. It’s all up to our intrepid team of heroes, who must once again come from behind to save the Earth.

Time travel movies are tough to pull off. It’s easy to get trapped in a paradoxical loop of events. I think this movie handled that very well, with only one hole that immediately comes to mind, and it’s a minor one.

There are also some excellent action sequences. The effects, while not perfect, were very good.

While almost every SGC character (and many Goaulds) from the series makes at least a cameo in this film, the story centers around Daniel, Carter, and Mitchell. All 10 seasons from the show are represented in one way or another, but you don’t have to know any of it to appreciate this story. It really is a good story that proves that SG-1 still has legs (most of them, anyway), and I’d be happy to see more movies in the future. However, if this were to be the last SG-1 story, I think it serves as a good conclusion to the series.

Oh, and when I said everyone dies? I lied.

C.S. Lewis on living by hope

Last week I started doing something I hardly ever do – I started reading a non-fiction book. Even more amazingly, it’s an auto-biography. That’s a genre I almost never delve into. In fact, I can’t even remember the last non-fiction book I read cover to cover. It’s not even a recent book. I ran across it literally by providence, and decided to bring it home.

The book is Surprised by Joy by C.S. Lewis, author of The Chronicles of Narnia, among others. It’s not a standard auto-biography, though. The short description on the cover summarizes it as Lewis’ “search for joy, a spiritual journey that led him from the Christianity of his early youth into atheism and then back to Christianity.”

While his writing is frequently either outside my experience or above my head (in the first few chapters he discusses his very early life, including English and Irish boarding schools and social circles, and manages to write in a few Latin phrases and references to other works that he apparently thinks are common knowledge), I do get the drift. He had a tough childhood, emotionally and intellectually. The cruelty of his first boarding school headmaster was random and violent, and the academic lessons for the most part without merit. I get more of a sense of the atmosphere of the orphanage from “Oliver Twist” (or in my case, Oliver! the movie), than I do of Harry Potter’s Hogwarts, which is patterned after an English boarding school, as I understand it.

But at the end of the description of this time in his life he says this:

Life at a vile boarding school is in this way a good preparation for the Christian life, that it teaches one to live by hope. Even, in a sense, by faith; for at the beginning of each term, home and the holidays are so far off that it is as hard to realize them as to realize heaven. They have the same pitiful unreality when confronted with immediate horrors. Tomorrow’s geometry blots out the distant end of term as tomorrow’s operation may blot out the hope of Paradise. And yet, term after term, the unbelievable happened. Fantastical and astronomical figures like “this time six weeks” shrank into practicable figures like “this time next week,” and then “this time tomorrow,” and the almost supernatural bliss of the Last Day punctually appeared.

He continued to describe the deep, nearly breathtaking delight that that day held. He also went on to acknowledge the other side of the same equation: that at the beginning of each time at home, the next school term was as unrecognized as a young man in good health would recognize his own mortality. It may be acknowledged, but never truly realized, until time moves forward and the inevitable occurs.

In all seriousness I think that the life of faith is easier to me because of these memories. To think, in sunny and confident times, that I shall die and rot, or to think that one day this universe will slip away and become memory . . . is easier to us if we have seen just that sort of thing happening before. We have learned not to take present things at their face value.

I haven’t had the same kind of circumstances in my life that he had, but I can come up with a few situations (though laughably smaller in intensity) that help me draw that same parallel. It’s helpful to have a new frame of reference for living in hope of a new world to come—to be able to work through the day to day grind of life while keeping one eye on the prize.