iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Nothing new to report on the Bump front, so here's some nice eye candy that distracted me last night.

Here's a really impressive trailer for a film that was completely off my radar, Daybreakers. Stars Ethan Hawke and Willem Dafoe, and set in a world in which Vampires are the majority and humans the hunted underclass. Pushes all my buttons, really.

The surprisingly good, even mature looking (I know, I know), trailer for Torchwood's Children of Earth mini-series (running in five parts Mon to Fri in a single week.)

I'm intrigued by the Johnny Depp / Christian Bale / Michael Mann gangster flick Public Enemies, even if the trailer is just an abridged version of the entire film as far as I can tell. Although he can be quirky and mannered as an actor, Depp is such a chameleon sometimes.

And BIG 'SPLODY THINGS. Roland Emmerich destroying the world again in 2012. Unlike Transformers, the astonishing spectacle of this one may actually lure me to the cinema against my better judgement.

Finally, and on a slight tangent, I'm a complete nerd sometimes but this CGI image from a forthcoming Trek calendar is just stunningly beautiful. In a nerdy way. (From the blog of Doug Drexler, an FX guy from Trek / BSG.)

Star Trek

May. 20th, 2009 08:33 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
My review of the new Star Trek movie is at Strange Horizons today. I can't make up my mind whether I let it off the hook -- see what you think.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Dollhouse has been renewed for a second season. Warner Bros are making a big budget movie of Primeval. And Star Trek is a smash box office hit. It's like the world's been turned on its head.

Still, this plus Niall's admittedly lukewarm defence of the show may finally prompt me to give Dollhouse a try.

EDIT: And as if that isn't enough craziness, they've greenlit a remake of alien-lizard invasion series V which stars Alan Tudyk (Wash) as a human and Morena Baccarin (Inara) as an alien. There's a spoilery review of the pilot, which I haven't read, here.

EDIT to the EDIT: Comment from Joss Whedon confirming the Dollhouse renewal.

Trailers

Mar. 8th, 2009 11:13 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Unexpectedly, the latest trailers (Trailer 3 in both cases) for Star Trek and Terminator: Salvation are not just good but *so* good they've more or less sold me on the films. I wasn't sure either of them would amount to more than superfluous cash-ins on their respective franchises, but the Star Trek one in particular reached me on a gut level in a way that previous promos for the film missed by a mile. Maybe it's just been so long since Trek had some genuine spectacle, drama and energy on its side.

If streaming video doesn't float your boat, both trailers can be downloaded directly here

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
OMG Leonard Nimoy!

It's a new shot added to the recently released trailer for the new Trek movie. Seeing an actor in 2008 playing an elderly version of a character he first played in 1964 is fairly unique in itself. What strikes me first is how very old he looks, but then I look things up on the interwebs and realise he hasn't appeared on screen as the character since 1991. That's an amazing 17 years ago.

As for the trailer itself (HD versions here) it's a strange mixture of homage and newness pitched primarily at a mainstream movie audience. I expect they're hoping, as with the revamped Doctor Who, that any lingering lack of coolness surrounding Trek will have faded with time (notwithstanding the near saturation screening of modern Trek shows in the intervening years). Despite a few moments of more widespread appeal, like The Voyage Home, Trek has always been a fairly niche property so they're clearly pitching at a bigger audience of non-fans who have a nostalgic fondness for the '60s show but aren't that familiar with later incarnations.

What that means is a film that looks high budget, action oriented, with a youngish cast, plenty of humour and only a passing resemblance to the original show. Probably wisely they've opted to keep the general look of the costumes and the core characters but little else. The cast seem okay, aping the original actors to greater or lesser degrees: on the one had is Karl Urban practically impersonating DeForest Kelley as McCoy, and on the other Simon Pegg seems like Simon Pegg with a Scottish accent. But that's probably just because he's so familiar. Likewise Zachary Quinto looks like Sylar dressed for Halloween.

It's hard to deny that it looks interesting, but although I'm keen to see it I think my main reason is less excitement and more a burning curiosity to see what they've done with the concept. I really don't know whether it'll be any good, but I really do want to find out.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
The second trailer for Watchmen is out. (There are some new posters too.) I know that movie trailers are filled with Lies, but impossibly it looks like they may actually have succeeded in adapting the graphic novel for the big screen. That's a very nice trailer indeed. Director Zack Snyder's 300 was so slick and hollow that I do worry whether this will turn out to be an exercise in obsessive visual style over substance, but some of the dialogue scenes in the trailer hint otherwise. The source material is far richer and more thematically complex than 300 (which is, when all's said and done, a fairly trite, macho, sexist and homophobic work). What's clearly intact in the Watchmen trailer is the deconstruction of what it means to have superhuman beings or vigilantes in a more flawed, realistic and political world.

I notice that the film is R rated, which is a bold move since that'll severely restrict its potential audience. By comparison, The Dark Knight was a 12A (even though that nasty little pencil scene alone should have pushed it to a 15 for me). The fact that they've gone with such a box-office-denting rating shows at least some artistic integrity is involved. Also the official Watchmen site currently crashes my browser. Yes, that's how hardcore this film is.

Quantum of Solace director Marc Forster will direct the movie version of World War Z from a script by J Michael "Tin Ear" Straczynski. Not 100% sure what to make of this but my wife loved the book and the script has at least one glowing review. jms is also scripting a remake of Forbidden Planet, an idea so wrongheaded that even he thinks he's walking on hallowed ground.

Finally, an image has been released of the new Starship Enterprise from the semi-reboot Star Trek movie. Casual viewers would probably shrug and say this looks exactly like every other picture of the Enterprise they've seen. Devoted fans have unleashed the kind of lack-of-perspective hate-storm not seen since Daniel Craig's hair was deemed to be the wrong colour for Bond. (Although at least that fan implosion focused on the main role, not just a bit of hardware.) I kinda like the new design myself, but I don't love it. It's growing on me. There's also an image of an earlier generation of starship from the movie, as well as heaps of cast images. It'll either be awesome, or an utter disaster.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Oh god, Bones is doing a two-part season opener set in the UK, aka the famous bits of London. This is not something US TV is noted for doing well, and Bones is not blessed with what we like to call "subtlety". I'm expecting this to be full of Scotland Yard officers wearing tweed and bowler hats. (I wasn't sure what to make of the previous season finale either, which featured a major twist in which one regular cast member acted completely out of character for the sake of the plot.)

Torchwood Season 3 will be a five part miniseries, and it'll air on BBC One, stripped across one week at 9 p.m. in the same vein as the disappointing BBC1 drama Criminal Justice. BBC1, eh? The continued success of Torchwood is as meteoric as it is inexplicable.

Ronald D. Moore has another pilot TV Movie on the go, Virtuality, which sounds a) exactly like a holodeck-goes-wrong episode of The Next Generation and b) completely uninteresting. Virtual reality almost never makes for good TV because it has no consequences, meaning that consequences have to be unconvincingly slapped on: "If you die in the game you die out here too" / "If you unplug her she'll die".

I do seem to remember having a sneaking fondness for the short-lived VR.5, but that's probably because it had Anthony Head and David McCallum in it. (Alternatively it may be because it's "without doubt the best, most entertaining and thought provoking and compelling sci fi TV series I have ever seen, or can ever envisage being made" as someone on IMDB hilariously claims.)

I'm enjoying HBO's seven-part Generation Kill miniseries at the moment. It took a little while to get to grips with the characters, and I'm still not entirely sure I know who everyone is, but over the first few episodes the series has deepened and become more absorbing. It's esentially a cross between Band of Brothers and Jarhead, but based on a real journalistic account of the early days of the Iraq war. The production values are impressive, and the series looks for all the world like it was shot in Iraq during the invasion. It has the same sense of verité that David Simon and Ed Burns brought to The Wire, and a lot of clear parallels in showing flawed people at the mercy of petty and incompetent leaders. What's remarkable is the sense of complete aimlessless and confusion in what should be a co-ordinated military campaign.

Ooh

Jul. 18th, 2008 07:18 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Not entirely sure about this poster as a design, but how perfect is Zachary Quinto as Spock?



That's Eric Bana with the tatoos, although it's pretty hard to tell. Plus Chris Pine as Kirk and Zoe Saldana as Uhura. TrekMovie.com has more details.

--
In unrelated news, today City Link delivered a parcel, to our door, while we were in. They knocked and rang the bell. I believe this means the apocalypse is nigh.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Tom McRae "guests" on the new single by Wills and the Willing, Lipstick. This seems to mean that he wrote and performed all his bits of the song --which are excellent-- based on hearing the rap parts --which are terrible. You can hear the whole song on their myspace page. Tom is also performing on Jonathan Ross's Radio 2 show tomorrow, which will presumably be available on the 'listen again' feature for the coming week. Finally, here is a very good summary and set of interviews with the Tom McRae / Hotel Cafe tour.

Meanwhile have some Star Wars Strictly Come Dancing. The best bit is Darth Vader and the Stormtroopers at the end.

And Harry Knowles has seen some scenes from J.J. Abrams's Star Trek film. It's not out for a year, but this is the first thing I've read to get me actually excited about it.

Sparkly

Nov. 19th, 2007 10:09 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Some sparkly things that have captured my ever-drifting attention:

Everbody's favourite transporter chief1, Colm Meaney, says he's filmed the pilot episode of David E Kelley's U.S. version of Life on Mars. He's in the Gene Hunt role. I'm extremely interested to see what it's like. The original BBC show, especially the first series, was excellent but there's room for a different take on the concept. Relocating it to LA could just be enough of a difference.

Ben Goldacre's seminal explanation in The Guardian of why homeopathy doesn't make sense (it's really good--read it) has won high praise from James Randi. Which is nice.

Galactica showrunner (and Trek alumnus) Ronald D Moore has a shiny new blog replacing his moribund one on the Sci-Fi Channel site. At present there are musings about Galactica and the Writer's Guild of America strike.

Speaking of the shiny, in the wake of the terrifying number of Trek fan series underway on the internet, there's now a Firefly fan series named Into the Black in production. As with most things in modern fandom, the production values are surprisingly decent. The cast... not so much. At least, not if the YouTube trailer is anything to go by. Also the song is quite scary.

Lastly, for the woman who has everything except a talking Stephen Fry clock: a talking Stephen Fry clock. Cool, but not quite as cool as Lego Batman: The Videogame.

--
1 Unless you favour Mr Kyle but, really, how geeky would that be?

Geekgasm

Jul. 28th, 2007 12:35 am
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Several coolish movie things:

Hot on the heels of the probably-very-good casting of Zachary 'Sylar' Quinto as the young Spock comes this simple but pleasingly retro poster for the new Trek prequel film.

A slightly naff yet iconic poster for the new Indiana Jones film. But more interesting still is the news that Karen Allen will be reprising her role as Marian Ravenwood from Raiders of the Lost Ark.

A nice new image of the Joker from Batman Begins sequel The Dark Knight plus a pretty nifty teaser trailer (more audio than video, but good nonetheless).

A stunningly visual trailer for the Neil Gaiman / Roger Avary penned Beowulf film with CGI that you'd be hard pressed to tell apart from real actors for most of its length. I still want to see the characters do some real face acting before I'm convinced.

Lastly some interesting casting for Watchmen.

Oh, and as a bonus I'm throwing this one in just because I can't tell how crap it'll be: a trailer for The Last Legion a film that seems to mix the end of the Roman Empire and the legend of King Arthur with such certainty you'd think it was actually telling real history. Could be just as bad as the recent King Arthur but you never know.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Lots of snippets of news from the New York Comic Con. The B5 Direct-to-DVD release is proceeding apace and may be slated for a July release. Now it turns out that we may also be getting some Direct-to-DVD side-stories from Battlestar Galactica. Maybe they figured they had so many vital bits of plot left over from the actual episodes that they'd cobble together a movie from the missing scenes. Cough.

Meanwhile we're getting another Serenity comic from Joss Whedon and Brett Matthews, again set between the series and the film. The first one was okay, I guess, but not quite the same as watching more Firefly proper.

And lastly, Paramount has finally confirmed that a new Star Trek prequel movie has been officially greenlit, with JJ Abrams (Alias, M:I3) at the helm. It's clearly way too soon to resurrect Trek, but if they're going to insist then a brand new set of writers and actors milking nostalgia in a fresh way is probably the best bet. More bizarrely, silly casting rumours abound. How about Matt Damon as Kirk (Hmmm), Adrian Brody as Spock (Hmmmmm) and Gary Sinise as McCoy (Genius!)

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Buffy S8 - Xander and Buffy Buffy S8 - Willow

There's a nice little interview with Joss Whedon over at geekmonthly.com focusing mainly on the "8th Season" Buffy comic he's co-writing and 'executive producing': Part One, Two, Three, and Four. Spoilers for the comic, naturally.

In the 'pretty pictures' department there are also some lovely new CGI images from the remastered version of 'The Doomsday Machine', one of Classic Trek's best efforts. Although my affection for Star Trek has waned over the years, I somehow still get a kick from seeing images like these.

As previously mentioned I'm heading to London for my brother's Stag Do this weekend, but sadly far too briefly to even consider meeting fellow denizens of the interwebs. It's pretty much going to be arrive, booze, recover, leave. Hopefully in that order. As a result you'll all have to survive the weekend without my dazzling LJ repartee. Much like every other weekend.

Nostalgia

Nov. 14th, 2006 05:46 pm
iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
This is both nerdy and cool at the same time, but I decided that the cool outweighed the nerdy. I have that capacity for self-deception.

If, like me, you were once a fan of Star Trek but drifted away as the modern spin-offs became ever more derivative, you may share some of my nostalgia for the original 1960s show. The recent Hi-Def remastering has certainly reawakened some of my fondness, so I went 'a browsing on the internet (as we nerds do), and happened across these fascinating behind the scenes shots of the original Enterprise model. I had no idea that stuff like this existed from the 1960s.



The above shot (bizarrely juxtaposing the Enterprise and sixties cars) is from this page but there are a great many more pictures over at startrekhistory.com, including on-set shots of the cast, many of which seem to have undergone painstaking restoration work. That's the photos, not William Shatner.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
A few bits of video linkage that caught my eye recently.



Firstly, how cool is this sliding door? It would obviously annoy the crap out of you if you actually had one, but the technolust is too powerful to resist. Janet thinks we should get one.



Those who saw my recent post about the Frank Miller adaptation 300 may have seen the video showcasing several scenes from the film (from a recent comics convention). The official trailer is now available, and it's every bit as testosterone drenched as the previous video, only in better quality. It's also rather stylish, and very beautiful. And it features a shouty man with lots of teeth.



In one of my excessivly geeky moments I talked about the remastering of the original 1960s Star Trek show; primarily this is just a high-definition clean-up and rescanning of the original film/negative, although it's not yet airing in HD. Controversially they've also chosen to update the effects using CGI. Less controversially they're hewing incredibly closely to the look and feel of the original effects, the only complaints so far being that the CGI space shots are allegedly even blander than the original model work. (Well, not the only complaints since Trek fans are a fickle bunch. In fact the faithfulness of the effects is in itself becoming controversial, with some individuals feeling that there's no point in redoing the effects if they're not going to try something a little more daring.) Me, I love the original Trek with the completely non-rational portion of my brain1, and I know a lot of the episodes very well indeed, even though it's years since I actually sat down to watch one of them from start to finish. I'm also generally opposed to special editions, since part of the pleasure in watching something old is in analysing how it looks, whether it's dated well, what still works, what looks hokey, etc. There's a part of your brain which stands back from the story and appreciates it as an artefact of its era. But that said, these do look pretty good. Some sample pictures and videos here and here, including this nice new Enterprise flyby.

1 Yes, there are some rational bits.


iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Serenity)
Zombie TV Shows. Not, alas, TV shows about zombies, but rather TV shows that won't stay dead. Even when it might be better if they did

Firstly there's Star Trek, a tv show - nay, a franchise - that was so thoroughly mined for so long that by the time it ended there was almost nothing left of what made it special in the first place. I'll confess to being a bit of a Trekkie in my youth, and I feel an enduring fondness for the original show, not to mention TNG and DS9. But the franchise overstayed its welcome by at least ten years, becoming increasingly insipid and anachronistic as it did so, and I'm in no great hurry to see more. Received wisdom seems to be that the concept needs at least a decade lying fallow, if it ever comes back at all.

Naturally, therefore, they're making more. J.J.Abrams of Alias and M:I3 fame is now developing a prequel/reboot of the franchise with a film set during the early days of Kirk and Spock. The characters would of course be re-cast. It's a bold, not to say foolhardy, idea to try to play around with such well-established characters in this way, particularly characters so closely identified with the original actors for 40 years. Steve Martin has twice scraped the bottom of the barrel by recreating Phil Silvers' Sergeant Bilko and Peter Sellers' Inspector Clouseau, and the lesson to be learned is that some characters simply can't be successfully adapted by new actors. Even Trek fans have been recasting the original series for a few years now with the lovingly incestuous New Voyages, ambitious fan-produced episodes of the original Star Trek show. Recently they've even recruited Mr Chekov himself, Walter Koenig, and original series writer DC Fontana, to produce a new episode. However while the sets and production values are surprisingly impressive, the recreations of the original characters are not.

It's not the first time such an idea has been mooted. Leaving aside those scary rumours of a Starfleet Academy movie in the late 80s, Babylon 5's J.Michael Straczynski and Dark Skies' Bryce Zabel submitted a proposal in 2004 to pull a Battlestar Galactica on Star Trek, rebooting the original characters and their 5 year mission with a modern sensibility. You can find a pdf of their pitch over at Bryce Zabel's blog. Here's a taster:
Have you ever made a copy of a copy of a copy, to the point where, after enough the blurry words look like they were written on a 1947 Olympia typewriter with ribbon?

Over the decades, Star Trek has become so insular, so strictly defined, and placed layers upon itself that some of the essence of what made us love it in the first lost. The all-too-reasonable desire to protect the franchise may now be the
stagnation.

Imagine buying a new Porsche and leaving it in the garage all the time, because out on the road, it might get scratched. But that is exactly what’s happened The Porsche’s still clean and polished, but we’re driving around in a nice, reasonable
car.

It’s time to throw caution to the wind and go out for a drive…a real drive…
It's tough to argue with their premise, but easier to argue with their conclusions. Where is the sense in dragging something kicking and screaming back to the light in such a way as to be nearly unrecognisable? While the new Battlestar Galactica may have soared to great heights (and plumbed a few depths) it would in many ways have been far preferable to build a brand new TV show, free from the shackles of the past. That way you don't piss off your existing fanbase, and you don't have to overcome the collective preconceptions of millions of casual viewers. Of course the real reason they do it is because it's easier to sell an established brand name, however devalued, than to create buzz around something new. That kind of bottom-line marketing is ultimately quite depressing, and the reason why we're bombarded with nothing but big budget sequels and remakes at the cinema every summer.

And yet, despite all that, the low-tech teaser poster is really rather evocative, and there's a certain Batman Begins thrill that could be had if done correctly. So let's just hope that the movie-going public is precisely as shallow as me.

The second zombie lurching back to life is Straczynski's own Babylon 5, a series that's been lying at the bottom of the stairs with its neck at a funny angle for some years now, but is beginning to stir once more. The original show certainly didn't exhaust its potential in the way that Star Trek did, but neither has it proven to have much promise of longevity. Quite the reverse, it's repeatedly proven itself impervious to sequels and expansions. The original series was always at its best when it had built up a head of steam; with the momentum of a long story arc to pay off there was little that could rival it. Its characters may have been banal on an episodic basis, but they became absorbingly complex over the long haul. When the series tried to create small standalone episodes or TV movies it invariably floundered, with the majority feeling lightweight and derivative. Even its final season stumbled when story arcs were wrapped up in the previous year, while the aborted Crusade and Legend of the Rangers spin-offs distilled much of the show's fireworks but little of its creativity or elegance. It was the overall story that the viewers cared about, not the pit-stops along the way. Now only the pit stops remain to be visited.

Despite all this, jms has just announced at Comicon that WB have green-lit new Babylon 5 episodes straight-to-DVD, each centring around a particular character. It's a potentially intriguing idea, but after all this time the question is whether jms can ever recapture the show's old strengths in a short anthology format. His comic scripts show that his writing continues to improve in leaps and bounds, particularly in the dialogue department, but his real ace in the hole remains his plotting; that knack for pulling the rug out from under you. Even when you know it's coming, he never fails to surprise you. The flipside of this is that his build-up still tends towards the derivative and by-the-numbers. He can churn out a decent story with some snappy dialogue, but most of what makes his writing effective is not demonstrated in a single instalment.

Needless to say I'll be viewing the new material when it becomes available, and I'll be happy to have my fears proved unfounded. But I do wonder why, having lambasted Trek for lumbering on past its sell by date, he's determined to make exactly the same mistake with his own series.

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (Default)
Sci-Fi Wire reports that Christie's are autioning some original Star Trek props from all the Trek series and films. Although my Trek days are very much behind me, it's hard to shake off a certain frisson of nostalgia at the idea of owning:
"a miniature model of the U.S.S. Enterprise-A, seen in Star Trek: The Undiscovered Country, which is expected to draw between $15,000 and $25,000; a Romulan Warbird ship used in several episodes of Star Trek: The Next Generation and Star Trek: Deep Space Nine, estimated at $10,000 to $15,000; a replica of Capt. James T. Kirk's command chair from the original series, which was made for the 1996 Deep Space Nine episode "Trials and Tribble-ations," $10,000-$15,000; Kirk's (William Shatner) uniform from Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan, $7,000-$9,000; and Capt. Jean-Luc Picard's (Patrick Stewart) jumpsuit uniform from Star Trek: The Next Generation, $8,000-$12,000."
These are proper, iconic props, models and costumes not just some unidentifiable alien screwdriver. Christie's has some highlights, with photos, here.

Of course, $15,000 is just a little too rich for my blood. And really, where would we put a Command Chair from a Klingon Bird of Prey?

iainjclark: Dave McKean Sandman image (TV)
Gather ye round, fans of Tim Minear. I'm intrigued to see on Ain't It Cool News that Tim Minear's new show "The Inside", in which I previously had not the slightest interest, actually sounds quite interesting. More details here. What originally sounded like a dodgy cross between Alias and The OC now sounds like a far more interesting and far darker show. Okay, the premise of criminal profiling is hardly innovative, but gritty police procedurals with a bit of character resonance certainly push a few of my buttons. Promising....

This leads me on to thinking that I haven't had a decent discussion about the Tee Vee in ages. At the moment I be mostly watching: Battlestar Galactica, The West Wing, Lost, Law & Order: Lift InspectorsCriminal Intent, Carnivale, Alias, Stargate (both the good flavour and the bland one), and Enterprise. Here follows my spoiler-free commentary on a few of them - should anyone, y'know, care. :-)

Battlestar Galactica - 1x01 to 1x11 )

The West Wing - 6x01 to 6x10 )

Lost - 1x01 to 1x12 )

Law & Order: Criminal Intent - Season 2 )

Carnivale - Season 2 )

Alias - 4x01 to 4x02 )

Stargate: SG-1 - 8x01 to 8x13 )

Stargate Atlantis - 1x01 to 1x16 )

Enterprise - 4x01 to 4x09 )


That's about it. At some point in the future I'm also looking forward to the return of Deadwood, The Dead Zone, and the three CSI shows. I also plan to read more books, and have a life. But you can't do everything...

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