Is the New Thundercats Going to be Good?
Posted on: July 27, 2011 by admin.
Even though Thundercats officially premiers this Friday, some people have already been given advanced screenings of the pilot episode, and over at Toonzone.net they've got an early review of what to expect. Be warned, though, there are a ton of spoilers in this article and if you want to be pleasantly surprised when you watch it, I'd recommend skipping this one. Still, if you're like me and want to see if the cartoon is matching the hype then check it out.
Peter Cullen on Optimus Prime
Posted on: June 27, 2011 by admin.
BotCon, the annual Transformer's convention, was held this month, and one special guest in attendance was none other than Optimus Prime himself, Peter Cullen. Maybe it was because Dark of the Moon is coming out soon, or Geek is cool now, but there were also some CNN reporters who sat down with Cullen and asked him to look back on his career as the leader of the Autobots. My favorite part? When Cullen explains how his Marine Corps brother inspired the voice:
I was called to audition and said goodbye to Larry, and I said I was auditioning for a hero. He said, 'Be tough enough to be gentle, you don't have to always be loud.' It stuck with me when I read the character description. I just echoed Larry's voice in the first few lines, and fell right into it. And I thought, boy, this feels like home.
You can find the complete article on CNN Entertainment, where Cullen not only talks about the voice, but the impact the role has had on his life, why Optimus is the perfect father figure, and whether he has any of the bazillion Prime toys that have been sold (the answer might surprise you).
"I know better than they do": Movie Reviews, Week #4 - The Simpsons
Posted on: June 2, 2011 by gregoryeverett.
It’s probably not the best of policies to go into a review with a biased opinion. So far I’ve only re-watched one movie to review it (Batman Returns), but this week I’m looking at something I have seen many, many times before: The Simpsons Movie (2007). Why, you ask? What business is it of yours, I say, and then, in the interest of professionalism, apologize and tell you that a) I’ve been watching a lot of The Simpsons lately, and b) The Simpsons Movie is a textbook example of a common mistake made when transferring well-established, beloved characters from one medium to another. Think of this week’s article not so much as a review as a critique, and then think of this critique as a condescending lecture (impotent wailings) from a self-styled expert (slobby prick) because, when it comes to the creators and producers of a popular animated series that’s been running for twenty-two years, well, I know better than they do.
The quick and dirty is nothing you haven’t seen before; those who accuse The Simpsons Movie of divorcing itself from classic Simpsons writing obviously didn’t notice the names of James L. Brooks, Matt Groening, Ian Maxtone-Graham, Mike Scully, and John Swartzwelder attached to the screenplay, all long-time veterans of the T.V. series. The director, David Silverman, is another name easily recognizable to those of use lame enough to pay attention to Simpsons credits. And, of course, there’s the cast: Dan Castellaneta, Julie Kavner, Nancy Cartwright, Yeardley Smith, Harry Shearer, and Hank Azaria (it’s really sort of shocking to see pictures of the people behind the voices; compare Homer to Dan Castellaneta, for instance).
[caption id="attachment_1562" align="alignnone" width="400" caption="Well, alright, here they look surprisingly similar"][/caption]
I’m not going to give you a summary this week, because the plot of the movie is what I’m centering this piece around. Instead, I’m going to take a systematic look at the movie, and walk you through it as best I can. Something to keep in mind is that The Simpsons Movie, or any movie based on a series, is drawing on a cast of characters and settings that the audience will be expecting to see; this can be done artfully, or it can feel strained. Beginning the film with Itchy and Scratchy was a solid move on the part of the writers; it gets them in there and saves space later, when it might be difficult to squeeze them into the action. Practicality aside, it’s also a good episode of Itchy and Scratchy; Scratchy screaming while the nukes fly into his open mouth is classic I&S. My quibble (and buckle down, because there are going to be a lot of them) is that in a movie which steps the series’ PG rating up to a PG-13, there’s no blood in the Itchy and Scratchy sequence.
The good old bird’s-flight-through-Springfield introduction is there, and it does a great job of giving us an extended look at Springfield without milking it (indeed, it milks it less than the intro to the second decade seasons do). Green Day doing the theme song, however, is arbitrary and simply try-hard, and gives us our first taste of this movie’s major failing: relying far too much on non-Springfieldian elements. As an immediate counter, however, we get the church scene, and a great look at almost all of the town’s residents as they admonish Homer’s brashness. From here, and for the next half-hour, everything plays like a regular episode of The Simpsons, and hey, that’s exactly what we want. We have a great scene with Homer and Bart working around the house, culminating in Homer trying to ‘earthquake’ his son off of the T.V. antenna and ‘aftershock’ him while he’s clinging to the rain gutter. That is good Simpsons. We also have the sequence with Bart skateboarding naked, which I will say is unequivocally one of the finest examples of directing I have ever seen. There’s Spider Pig too, and you know what? That’s not as funny as everybody thinks it is. But it’s fitting for Homer, and I can begrudgingly accept that.
[caption id="attachment_1563" align="alignnone" width="538" caption="You will never write anything this funny."][/caption]
But what’s this appearing a half an hour in? Russ Cargill, President Schwarzenegger, and the EPA? Granted, Russ Cargill is voiced by A. Brooks, who you might recognize as motivational speaker Brad Goodman, would-be adulterer Jacques the bowler, and, my favourite, Hank Scorpio. Granted, President Schwarzenegger is just Rainier Wolfcastle. But here we see characters from outside the Springfield Universe, not contributing to or accompanying the story, but creating the conflict that drives the plot. In the next ten minutes, the EPA has put a dome over Springfield, and the townspeople have driven the Simpsons out. Homer’s managed to necessitate fleeing Springfield many times with no outside help, why couldn’t he do it this time? I’m not saying this isn’t funny. Well, okay, yes I am. What I’m not saying is that there aren’t good jokes in here, and ultimately, if you can feed me enough good gags I’ll stick with any Simpsons plot. Even Russ Cargill manages to make me laugh with his ’10,000 tough guys, and 10,000 soft guys to make the tough guys look tougher, here’s how I want them arranged” speech. But look around: they’re on the outskirts of Springfield, and it doesn’t look like Springfield. Even the colour palate is all wrong. And now they’re going to Alaska?!
[caption id="attachment_1564" align="alignnone" width="538" caption="Lisa has obviously realized she's having an out-of-Springfield experience"][/caption]
Again, I can’t claim that the trip to Alaska is all pshaw and no guffaw. The Simpsons family unit is intact for a while, and the dynamic is faithful to our expectations. There are Simpsons staples, funny signs like the Red Rash Inn, and the classic gag where Bart scribbles on the wanted poster and a family matching the scribble gets arrested. But there’s no Springfield, there’s no Moe and Apu and Gill and everyone else. On that note, a lot of characters are non-entities when we are in Springfield, let alone on the way to Alaska. To make matters worse, Marge packs up and leaves Homer, as the writers seem hell-bound to pare down the Simpsons cast to a skeleton crew. Homer then goes on an odyssey to regain the family, which he’s done before, even a spiritual journey, which he’s done before. Then, in the final small part of the movie, the Simpsons family is reunited, they return to reclaim Springfield, and the movie is marginally enjoyable again.
[caption id="attachment_1565" align="alignnone" width="538" caption="Now THIS looks like The Simpsons"][/caption]
My point is, as much as the makers of the Simpsons might resent it, what we wanted from The Simpsons Movie was just an extended episode of the show. I was excited to see it when it came out because I wanted to see what sort of hilarity could be cooked up with an ensemble cast and an hour and a half to play with. Instead, what I got was a half hour episode of the Simpsons, and an hour long movie about the environment and Alaska that could have starred anyone. So let that be a lesson to you, filmmakers, in this climate of re-hashes and comic-craze: you’ve got a cast of characters, with a world of their own, that over the years has become stronger than anything you can create in the run-up to your summer release. Use them.
A Trinity of Trailers!
Posted on: April 5, 2011 by admin.
The past few days have been chalk full of trailers for upcoming movies/TV. Some have been great, others...not so much. Here's a look at some of the ones that have been making the rounds everywhere on the net.
Green Lantern Second Trailer
Released at WonderCon, this trailer is a lot longer than the theatrical one and gives us a better idea of the movie itself. I won't spoil who the big bad of the film is going to be but, ...ahem...that yellow gloop has something to do with it. I know a lot of you are really looking forward to this movie, but I'm still not convinced. If anything these trailers are making it worse for me: Ryan Reynold's still can't act, the suits still look like chia pets, and the CG is reminding me more of a Sy-Fy made for TV movie rather than a Summer Blockbuster. Don't get me wrong: I'm still going to see it, I just hope my instincts are WAY off on how it's going to be....
Nope, it wasn't a crazy April Fool's Joke; This really going to happen. And not only are we lucky enough to get a TV series, we're also getting a 3D movie on top of it. This thing looks....so, SO bad. The only way that I can accept that Stan Lee is behind it is by convincing myself that somewhere, in a dark Kali-fornia project, his wife and children are being held at gun point by Maria Shiver...seriously, it's incredibly sad to me that the man who created Marvel is ending his career with this.
Thundercats Second Trailer
Saving the best for last - a new Thundercats trailer also premiered at WonderCon this week, and words can't describe how awesome it looks. It seems like the series is staying true to its core, but at the same time reinventing itself for a new generation of kids, and actually reminds me a lot of the Mike Young He-Man in the early 2000s (this is not a bad thing). I'm still not entirely sure on the plot, other than Mumm-Ra takes over and Lion-O gets the sword but yeah, this looks amazing. Definitely something I can't wait for. Thundercats Ho! (I'm SO getting that sword now...)
Over at ToplessRobot today, I found this picture of Snarf from the new Thundercats cartoon/toyline. Now, for some reason I've always liked Snarf, even though he's one of the most annoying sidekicks this side of Scooter, so I was excited to see what he looked like...
and was totally disappointed to find out that he's like a mutated Garfield. Seriously, is this even cute? Ah well, at least there's still Mumm-Ra...