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Monthly Archives: August 2012

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Can We Declare Star Wars Dead Now?

Seriously, can we?

This isn’t some fanmade parody. This isn’t Family Guy doing its 40th Star Wars episode. This is Lucasfilm plus Robot Chicken giving us rapping Darth Vader. Because that would have been funny… in 1989.

Oh and just to state the obvious, Seth Green is pushing 40 now. Robot Chicken was always overrated, but if you turn to a 38 year old guy to appeal to the kids, you get Darth Vader rapping and jokes about TMZ. Mel Brooks already did this in 1987 with Spaceballs. Since the internet got started, there have been 2 trillion Star Wars parodies and a bunch of commercial ones, like Family Guy. Star Wars Detours is the least useful and original thing ever.

Is there anything Spaceballs didn’t say 25 years ago about how silly Star Wars is? Is there anything that decades of parodies didn’t cover that Lucas needed to move forward with a lame CG roast of classic Star Wars characters?

What’s worse is this shows the horse-beating curve for Star Trek. When the only thing that George Lucas can think to do with the original characters is release an officially branded parody, the horse is completely pulped.

SyFy Needs More Ghost Shows

syfy show

Garfield can never get enough lasagna, crackheads can never get enough crack and the SyFy channel can never get enough ghosts. Sure you might think that the 50 ghost shows that the SyFy channel already has are enough, but the painkiller addicted housewives and lab monkeys who are the only ones watching the SyFy channel can’t get enough of fake ghost shows. So it’s making more.

“Want to investigate America’s most haunted locations on a new #Syfy series?

SEEKING GROUPS OF 3-4 PEOPLE. Group can consist of friends, family members and/or couples. (All groups must have 3-4 people, so if a couple is in the group, there must also be a friend and/or family member to make it a group of 3).

Ideal groups have at least one person who is a believer in the paranormal and one who is a skeptic. It is also preferred if someone in the group is legitimately afraid of the dark.

Are you crazy? Stupid? Have no dignity whatsoever? Do you even know what dignity is? Then climb aboard the SyFy Ghost Channel Express.

Required skills.

1. The ability to see ghosts in wallpaper stains.

2. A copious supply of hallucinogens

3. Already maxed out blood and sperm donor income

4. Fake scream

5. Aspiring model/actor looking for something to do now that fake talk shows and fake dating shows aren’t on the air.

But at least this time they’re investigating “America’s Most Haunted Locations”. Before that they were investigating the least haunted locations. No wonder they weren’t getting anything.

Here’s one more thing. Can SyFy do one last name change? Change it to something like the Ghost Network or the Spook Channel or If You’re Watching This You’re Probably Incontinent.

Garth Ennis is a Hack

After muddling through most of The Boys and cross-sections of Crossed, there is just no escaping the conclusion that Garth Ennis is a hack. When Preacher came out, Ennis looked good because there was nothing quite like it. But The Boys had to run side by side with Irredeemable and Incorruptible, the series which for all its flaws did the evil superheroes things much better than Ennis. And Crossed is a poor man’s Walking Dead with gore splattered everywhere. Even its premise seems lifted from Warren Ellis’ superior Blackgas.

What The Boys and Crossed punishingly bring home is that Garth Ennis has absolutely no ideas. The only reason to read through anyone that Garth Ennis writes is to see superheroes, criminals and people in a zombie apocalypse who talk like the guys from a Guy Ritchie movie. That’s fun in a way but it doesn’t nearly justify the price of admission.

The Boys had just about wrapped up after endless delays and routes left, which were far more inexcusable than when Garth Ennis was fumbling around with Preacher. Garth Ennis doesn’t do plots well, that’s no real surprise to anyone, and he doesn’t do conclusions too well either. The big battle with Homelander wasn’t much of a battle at all. But battles are another thing that Ennis can’t really do. His characters win fights because they have the better lines, not because they really do anything.

The question for those who defended The Boys is what does the series actually do well?

The Boys just revived Garth Ennis’ own The Punisher Kills the Marvel Universe concept and swapped out the Punisher for a British version who is drawn to look like a softer version of Frank Castle. Then he threw in a Captain America origin story for the entire crew and his thoughts on American politics drawn from Guardian editorials and 9/11 Truther videos.

How much of a hack is Garth Ennis? Go look back at the superheroes in The Boys. How does Garth Ennis characterize them? Ennis only has one way to do that and that’s sex. Some are evil because they’re gay. Some are evil because they’re promiscuous. Some are evil because of some more exotic fetish. Batman has sex with everything. The X-Men are pedophiles. One superhero has a gerbil up his ass. Another has sex with transvestites. It’s boring and borderline homophobic and it’s the only idea Garth Ennis has.

Hughie, like every Garth Ennis hero, is a good man because he’s in a heretosexual relationship with a sweet girl. Butcher once used to be good when he had that kind of relationship, but when the Homelander raped his wife, he turned into a ruthless vigilante. Ennis is relying on the same exact lazy characterization of a 1940’s movie spiced up with every fetish he can think of to characterize the bad guys. And this isn’t new for him. He did it in Preacher too.

Pull back the curtain a little and the superheroes in The Boys aren’t bad because they’re bad. They’re bad because they have a lot of sex. Ennis can dress that up in lots of graphic scenes, but it’s the same exact message you would get from a 1940’s movie.

Now for the rest of it.

After 65 issues, we have finally gotten to the point where Hughie, an irritating character who whined and fumbled through the 65 previous issues is finally forced to face off with Butcher. Butcher and Hughie are the only characters in The Boys that Garth Ennis cared about. That didn’t stop Ennis from drawing in three other stereotypes and spending entire issues on backstories that were a joke, just not the funny kind, and from killing them off.

Everything that has gotten us to here comes down to the same plot that the X-Men have done forty thousand times. And it’s just there so Hughie and Butcher can swap some lines for two more issues. That’s all there is here.

The Boys and Crossed forced me to reach the conclusion that Garth Ennis’ style is his cover. He doesn’t hate superheroes, he just can’t tell a story. The smug superior attitude and graphic content are defense mechanisms because they and characters drawn from British gangster movies are the only things he brings to the table. Garth Ennis is a hack. He writes the way he does because he hopes no one realizes that he can’t do any better.

Arnold Schwarzenegger does a Western

The Last Stand. No, not the stand before. The absolutely very last stand. The Last Stand is one of those post-Western Westerns, so it’s basically a Western with Arnold as a sheriff who has to stop a drug cartel from smashing through his town.

the last stand movie poster

This really is the last stand. Not the penultimate stand.

PC (Posse Comitatus) means the military can’t send in a strike force of jets, but come on, police forces are so militarized now that the LAPD probably has helicopter gunships and rocket launchers. Still it’s somewhat ripped from the headlines. Cartel violence is serious stuff in Mexico and some of it is spilling over.

I don’t know who this was written for, but it probably wasn’t Arnold. This is a part that Arnold Schwarzenegger isn’t right for, but that he might not screw up either. This is Longmire stuff and Arnold with his heavy accent and rigid smirk isn’t that guy, but for a comeback it’s not a bad move.

Just remember that Arnold Schwarzenegger had a string of box office bombs before running for Governor. If this thing has a moderate budget, he might be okay, but The Last Stand won’t be a major hit. Still it’s a comfortable position for a comeback. Limited expectations and a familiar, but somewhat different role.

The Copland vibe is there, but The Last Stand seems more action movie, than serious actor part.

Indie Hipster Racism Movie Edition

The Frozen Rabbi by Steve Stern book review

The Frozen Rabbi is billed as magical realism but magical realism requires a sense of whimsy. Instead of whimsy, The Frozen Rabbi reeks of contempt for anyone and anything that comes into its view. A narrative that crosses a 100 years and the life of dozens of men and women seems to have no purpose except to humiliate and degrade every single one of them. Just when you think The Frozen Rabbi has gone as low as it could possibly go, it goes even lower. Any noble impulse has to be degraded in a book that begins with a teenager masturbating to a piece of frozen liver and ends with the dead teenager’s girlfriend having sex in prison with the titular frozen Rabbi.

frozen rabbi

The Frozen Rabbi isn’t even uniquely bad. It’s a bad pastiche of a hundred years of literature ending with Philip Roth and Michael Chabon. And Steve Stern makes a poor man’s Michael Chabon, which is sad because Michael Chabon is already a poor man’s Michael Chabon. Like Chabon’s Yiddish Policeman’s Union, The Frozen Rabbi isn’t a story of characters, it’s a collection of ghetto stereotypes wedged into absurd situations that the authors feel no connection with resulting in what deserves to be called, Minstrel Show Literature. It’s about an absurdity that the authors have decided is inherently noteworthy because of its absurdity.

The Frozen Rabbi is the kind of labored absurdist satire that has been cranked out for as long as disgruntled college freshmen have looked for books that reward their sneering cynicism. It’s Rob Swiggart’s Little America dressed up in a black hat and coat and there are enough similarities between the two books that Steve Stern could be accused of plagiarism, if there weren’t a million other books that told the same story in the same labored fashion.

Aside from the sexism, racism and homophobia, The Frozen Rabbi isn’t nearly as offensive as it wants to be. It’s just tired. Like its title character it’s frozen and it never thaws out.

Gorn Porn: The Star Trek Game Trailer Debuts

The objective: Make a game as content free as the movie. A proper triumph of style over substance, of things exploding over space exploration and then add echo noises.

The question everyone must be asking is where are the lens flares? Lens flare technology in games was developed long ago. Star Trek the game has plenty of bloom, but needs more lens flares to hide just how low res its textures are. Just take a look at this gorgeous screenshot from 2005.

star trek game sucks

Namco Bandai’s JJ Abrams’ Star Trek has focused its graphical focus on the important things. Like making sure that Spock looks exactly like Zachary Quinto and not that other guy. Whatever his name is. And once they did that they didn’t have any more time or resources left so they just imported a few terrain maps from Half Life or Morrowind.

For a nostalgia kick, here’s Star Trek 25th Anniversary’s trial sequence.

“I’m James T. Kirk. I’m more worthy than you’ll ever be. And I have girlfriends on fifty planets who will vouch for that.”

And it even has better graphics than Co-Op Quinto shooter.

The Cheesy Action Movie Makes a TV Comeback

Cinemax has a new business strategy. Forget the porn and bring on TV series remakes of action movies. Like The Transporter.

The Transporter movies are played out so an Atlantic TV series makes sense. The Transporter lacks Jason Statham’s maniacal robotic streak, but between this and Strike Back it’s nice to see the cheesy action movie making a comeback. If bringing the cheesy action movie back as a cable series works out for Cinemax, maybe somebody will try to make a SciFi Channel that plays Science Fiction.

Who knows. It might happen.

The Dumbest Story About Nobel Prize Winners You Will Read Today

There comes a time when a Nobel Prize Winner, like everybody’s grandpa, gets easily annoyed by everything and resorts to writing letters about it to the newspaper. For some baffling reason, a bunch of Nobel Peace Prize winners decided to write a letter protesting an NBC Reality Show that didn’t air yet.

I’m starting to feel sorry for NBC which keeps walking into crazy firestorms of hate over its crappy new shows. Animal Practice, or whatever the show with the animals that the network is promoting non-stop is called, led to racism charges. Now Stars Earn Stripes, which is just Boot Camp with B-List celebrities, somehow attracted the attention of nine Nobel Peace Prize winners who couldn’t be bothered to go denounce Bourne or Glee, but had to zero in on The Marriage Ref Joins the Army.

Nine Nobel Peace Prize winners decided to denounce  Stars Earn Stripes for “glorifying war and armed violence”. Maybe that’s a point, maybe not, but why not denounce… everything. Half of everything on TV and in movie theaters glorifies armed violence. The biggest game franchises are simulations of armed conflict. Go and denounce that.

It’s the old Jack Thompson argument and it’s not much more credible from Tutu and Betty Williams than it is from him.

Could NBC have gotten a bunch of foreign Nobel Prize winners to denounce its show as a publicity stunt? It would be expensive but not impossible. They all have their own funds. NBC donates a hundred grand to each of them. That’s less than a million dollars for a fortune in free publicity.

Next NBC needs to get them to denounce Animal Practice.

Bashing Bourne

It’s fashionable to bash some movies and Bourne, which dumped its director and star when they whined too much about their hideously expensive Green Zone vanity project not getting enough support, was ripe for it. But the latest Bourne movie is no box office disaster. Bourne knocked The Dark Knight Rises out of its top spot and had a pretty good ten grand per theater average.

It isn’t in the range of the last Bourne movie, but the Bourne Ultimatum wasn’t up against the Dark Knight. It was up against the Simpsons movie. The real question is how much staying power it will have.

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