Monthly Archives: February 2009

Quick thoughts on Watchmen: unfilmable?

Is Watchmen unfilmable?

Is Watchmen unfilmable?

I’ve seen the trailers. I’ve seen a bunch of clips. It looks good. The visuals are great. Hard to say much else about it, though, so far.

I’m also reading the book for the first time. At the moment I’m over 3/4 through it, so I don’t know the whole story, but I’ve seen a lot of it. I like the book (probably not a surprise).

Here’s the thing, though. Everyone has told me that this is supposed to be unfilmable. I’m not sure why. Yeah, there are parts that would be challenging to film, but nothing, to this point in the book at least, seems insurmountable. The hardest things I’ve seen would be the concept of Dr. Manhattan’s perception of time and the juxtaposition of the pirate story (Tales of the Black Freighter) with the street corner characters. They certainly would involve some creativity to get on film, but I can at least conceive of how it might be done, and I’m not a filmmaker.

For what it’s worth, though, unless it becomes way more important in the last bit of the book (and it might) it sounds like the decision to remove the pirate story from the film is the right one. It’s not that it’s extraneous in the least in the book—it certainly adds to the book—but it’s also not central. I’m a little sadder to hear the street corner characters are all but missing, but I can live with that, too.

Of course, I may feel completely differently about that once I finish the story.

The frequency of flashbacks could be a problem for a mainstream audience, I suppose. I’ve seen a lot of movies that use flashbacks well, though, so I really don’t think it’s inconceivable that they could be done well here.

I’m a little annoyed that I can’t experience this film both with and without knowing the story ahead of time. I’d like to avoid the book ruining the movie for me, and vice-versa. It sounds like the movie will have a bit of a different ending than the book (or at least a different motivation for the villain), so at least there will be something original to judge on its own merits. Given that I can’t have it both ways, however, I think I’m making the right choice in reading the book first.

It’ll be interesting to me to get my wife’s take on the film. She has not, and will not have, read the book before we see the film. Whether the story is one she’ll get into is questionable. It seems like one that could go either way with her. It depends on which elements they emphasize. I’m looking forward to see what she thinks.

Now I gotta go read more of the book so you guys who comment don’t spoil the end for me… at this point I’m thinking Veidt is the bad guy, but I’m not positive yet. It does seem likely though, since he’s the only one they’ve built up as smart enough to pull something this big off. At the moment the motive seems to be money, but that could be a red herring. It would be kind of boring if it was.

Off to the book!

Best conversation I’ve ever had with my kids

For simplicity’s sake, I’m combining the statements of both daughters (currently 4 and 3).

Kids: I don’t like much boys.
Me: Why don’t you like boys?
Kids: I don’t know.
Me: Oh.
Kids: You’re a boy! We love you! We don’t like any other boys except we love you.

And that’s the way it better stay for at least 15 years.

Tuesday TubeWatch: Free lightsabers in the real world

A couple years back, I ran across this Star Wars fan film. It’s still one of my favorites. The coolest thing about it is that it’s a completely original story, and it’s not set in the Star Wars universe.

In the first film, Three in the Afternoon, three Star Wars geeks get an unexpected, mysterious delivery: a case with three real, working lightsabers. What would you do if they were delivered to you?

The effects on this are very good. The acting is actually pretty good for a fan film. Stick around for the end of the credits on both efforts. (Warning for the kids: there’s a bit of language in these.)

Three in the Afternoon

The second entry, Six in the Morning, takes the rather light plot from the first installment and builds it into something a bit more interesting.

Six in the Morning – Part 1

Six in the Morning – Part 2

So the big question… will we ever see Nine in the Evening? I sure hope so, but given that the Fanboys Productions site hasn’t been updated since the Six in the Morning release, I’m doubtful. That’s a shame, because I really think these and the Chad Vader series are the two best scripted Star Wars fan films out there.

New Transformers trailer is nice but…

Here’s the thing about Michael Bay’s Transformer films: from what I’ve seen, there’s not much plot involved. With this new trailer I was hoping we’d get some semblance of plot or something. I think there is about 3 lines of dialogue in the whole thing, surrounded by a bunch of special effects, frequently in slow motion:

Don’t get me wrong… I love special effects (okay, technically they’re visual effects, mostly). But unless something happens to show a little more plot development, I’m not sure I’m going to go see this movie in theaters. It pains me to say that, because I do love special effects, and the theater is by far the place to see them, but I still believe that the special effects should serve the story, not the other way around.

The way this trailer and the previous one looks, there is nothing in the movie but robots fighting and people running scared. I’d be okay with that at rental prices, but at theater prices? Sorry. I want at least some substance behind my eye-candy.

Tuesday TubeWatch: Banjos and Steve Martin (and Star Wars!)

A long time ago, before I knew how to embed videos, I linked out to a David Letterman clip showing Steve Martin and Earl Scruggs (and a bunch of other guys) doing “Foggy Mountain Breakdown” as Guys with Banjos Who Know How to Use Them. It’s still one of my favorite live Banjo bits, mostly because I’m fascinated by the fact that Steve Martin can actually play the banjo. I don’t know why that fascinates me, but there you have it. It doesn’t hurt that it’s a cool song, too. Oh yeah… and Earl Scruggs.

Anyway… I found another clip of Steve on Letterman, playing banjo. This time it’s different people with him and it’s a song he wrote (“The Crow”), which I also find very cool. (Some people have too much talent…)

The guy impresses me.

And speaking of being impressed, check out this clip of the guy setting the Guinness Book World Record for the fastest banjo playing (where do they come up with these categories?). He uses, of course, Dueling Banjos. I actually thought it was pretty good, and definitely fast.

Banjos are cool. They should be used more in pop songs. Somebody could probably pull out a cool rendition of almost any song using a banjo.  :)

Tuesday TubeWatch: Signing Time

My kids have been watching Signing Time on our local PBS station here for over a year now. They love the show so much that we got them one of the DVDs for Christmas. It really is a great kids show and in my opinion is one of the best educational shows out there.

The goal of the show is to teach kids basic signs from American Sign Language. It’s a beginning point for learning sign language so hearing children can more easily communicate with deaf children, but just as importantly it’s a way for kids who haven’t learned to speak yet to communicate with their parents. Studies have shown that children who learn to communicate with signs before they learn to speak experience lower frustration levels in communicating (as do the parents), and thus have better temperaments, which even helps avoid the “terrible twos.”

The story behind the show is really interesting as well.

She and her husband immediately started teaching American Sign Language (ASL) to Leah as fast as they could learn it. Something remarkable happened: by the time Leah was 18 months old, her sign language vocabulary far surpassed the spoken vocabulary of hearing children her same age. While Leah’s little friends could only point and whine for something they wanted, Leah found it much more effective to sign, “Juice, not milk”or, “Cheese and crackers, please”. Other parents took notice, including Rachel’s sister Emilie, who started teaching sign language to her infant son Alex, so that he would be able to communicate with Leah. Emilie was thrilled one morning when baby Alex, then only ten months old, found his own use for sign language: he stopped fussing, looked up at her, and signed “milk”.

From personal experience, I’d have to say that my kids’ vocabularies seem to have been positively affected by learning these signs.

Here are a few examples from the show:

Days of the week

Counting

Helping out

I just found out that as of October 2008, the show has been pulled from all PBS stations as the extremely small production company can’t afford the $1.5 million dollars it takes to produce a 13 episode season (PBS does not pay for shows).  If you’ve got ties into any corporate sponsorship programs or any other ideas, I’m positive they’d love to hear from you.

Sci-fi rumors and news catch up

Well, here we are with more sci-fi news. This time it’ll be a mix of things old and new. Strap on your propeller hat and hang on, ’cause here we go…

Spider-Man 4 is apparently going to shoot in 2010 for a 2011 release. This is information gleaned from an interview with J.K. Simmons, who plays J. Jonah Jameson in the films. Sam Raimi is on-board as director and Tobey McGuire is set to reprise his title role. Kirsten Dunst was unsigned as of the interview, which was a couple weeks ago.


In really old news, A&E is going to reinterpret the classic 1960’s hit “The Prisoner” with James Caviezel (Frequency, The Passion of the Christ) in the title role and Ian McKellan (The Lord of the Rings, X-Men) as Number Two.

The newer news is that A&E has now released a behind the scenes piece that reveals a bit about the costuming and locations:


Moving up into newer news, Battlestar Galactica’s prequel, Caprica, will see its pilot movie released in an extended, unrated version direct to DVD (and digital download) long before it’s aired on television. The release date is set for April 21, 2009, not long after the March 20th series finale of its parent show.

“Ever since fans first caught wind of the ‘Battlestar Galactica’ prequel Caprica, they have been eagerly following its development,” said Mark Stern, Executive Vice President, Original Programming for SCI FI & Co-Head Original Content, Universal Cable Productions.  “We wanted to give them a chance to see the pilot in its original form and experience the prequel to the BSG story while that series’ finale was still ringing in their ears. It also affords the creative team an unprecedented chance to get viewers feedback before production on the Caprica series begins this summer.”

See the full press release at Slice of Sci-fi.


Finally, some news on Torchwood!

The new 5 episode mini-series, which will be the entire season for 2009, will air simultaneously on BBC and BBC America (though we don’t know exactly what dates it will air). And just in time for the NY Comic-Con, we have a trailer.

Warning: this is not for the kids.

Torchwood: Children of Earth trailer

To be honest, it doesn’t look as intriguing as I’d hoped, but the whole “they’ve been here before” thing is pulling me in.


And here we are at the last bit of news. Warner Brothers has reportedly stalled all of its DC superhero movies (e.g., the Superman sequel and the Justice League). Despite that, plans seem to be progressing on the Green Lantern movie (which rocks!) in the hiring of Martin Campbell as director. With a James Bond movie and the Zorro films under his belt, it’s possible he could pull it off. Still a gamble, though, in my book. The movie is gonna have to hit hard on all cylinders to be satisfying. We’re talking about Iron Man level, not just Incredible Hulk level, sweetness here.

Statistics and Ego Stroking

This post is all about me feeling better about myself and bragging a little. If you can’t handle that, well, sorry. I promise the next post will get back to the usual insightful reporting you’ve come to expect. Not on this site, of course, but I guarantee that somebody is writing something insightful somewhere on the Internet in the next few seconds. The odds are with me on that. Of course the odds are against you actually finding them, but that’s not my fault.

Which leads me to statistics. I’m a bit obsessive in checking the stats for this site. I don’t know why. On a day to day basis, there’s really not a whole lot of change, usually, but I check at least 15 times a day; more if I’m not busy.

I have multiple statistics packages tracking this thing. They don’t always agree, which is frustrating, but when that happens I just pay attention to the one I like the most at the time. For example, this is the graph of page views over the last year:

Monthly page views in 2008

Monthly page views in 2008

This is a graph I like. Eleven straight months of growth (hey, stop looking at August). I’m even willing to let December go and call it 13 months straight – after all, December has Christmas and everybody’s stats take a hit around then (plus I had a two day “issue” where no stats were collected).

You’ll notice there are no actual page counts on this graph. I like it better without the numbers. Looking at the actual numbers is a little depressing… but concentrating on the trend is fun!

Apparently I’m doing well with SEO, since most of my hits are new visitors, but almost none of them stick around for more than, oh… about 0.38 seconds. So that sucks. But again… concentrating on the trend!

To those of you who are repeat visitors: Thank You. It’s nice to know I’m not just talking to myself here (though I’d probably keep doing it anyway). My question is: Why do you come back?

I’m serious. What made you want to subscribe, or continue to visit? It’s perfectly acceptable to answer that you know me personally and feel obligated to read it. I accept charity. If there are other reasons, I’d be interested to know what you find most interesting about this site. It may influence what I post in the future (or I might just say, “hmmm” and then go on doing whatever I feel like at the moment).

So here’s your chance! If you’re reading this through some subscription method, click on the title to come to the site just this once. Leave a comment below. It won’t hurt. (But if it does hurt, don’t bother telling me. See if your boss will pay worker’s comp on it.)

Tuesday TubeWatch: Super Bowl Movie Roundup

If you were the head of a movie company, which movies would you choose to spend $1.5 million per 30 seconds to advertise during the Super Bowl—an event watched primarily by people who like to watch men running and slamming into each other? Let me give you a hint: it wouldn’t be Wendy and Lucy.

No. You get action. You get slow motion beatings and martial acrobatics. You get fast cutting, adrenaline pushing excitement and special effects so good they’ll burn your eyes out if you stare at them too long.

Consider yourself warned. These things are so good they hurt.

My top three picks for best movie commercials aired during the Super Bowl are…

Star Trek

Transformers 2: Rise of the Fallen

GI Joe (which turns out to look way better than I expected it would)

Also interesting, but a distant runner up:

Race to Witch Mountain (I liked the Witch Mountain movies as a kid)

Why I loved last night’s Super Bowl

I don’t follow football. At all. Never have. Most of the time I’m surprised to learn that the Super Bowl is on.

I used to appreciate the commercials and watched mostly for them, but in the last few years that hasn’t been much of a draw either.

So what was it about last night’s Super Bowl that was so great that I now sing it’s praises?

It’s very simple: it kept all you crazy football nuts out of my way while I went to dinner with my family on a Sunday night.

We went out to a restaurant that is usually a 20-30 minute wait on weekends. We walked straight in and sat at the table. Not even a 5 second wait. They brought us chips and salsa all night. There were maybe 8 other tables with people in the entire restaurant. Noise was low, service was good. Traffic on the way home was non-existent; I think I saw 5 cars over 8 miles.

It was one of the most relaxing dinners out I’ve had in a long time.

So, thank you very much, crazy Super Bowl fanatics, for staying home and keeping your families with you. I sincerely appreciate it. Let’s do it again, soon.