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Posts Tagged ‘shameless pandering’

Sheer Pandering

March 30th, 2009 No comments

And now…kitty photos!

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Clone Of Silence

August 18th, 2008 No comments

According to Box Office Mojo, The Clone Wars brought in only about $15 million this weekend, landing in third place behind the Dark Knight cash machine. That’s still five million better than The X-Files managed, but just the same, I doubt anyone at Lucasfilm is all that happy about it.

And yes, that total includes my own five bucks.

Oh, don’t look at me like that. Like I wasn’t going to go. Grow up.

It was strange to attend a Star Wars flick that began without most of the traditional trappings: the familiar theme music, the receding logo, the expository crawl or the 20th Century Fox fanfare. The latter is considered so much a part of the Star Wars experience that most of the soundtrack CDs begin with it.

Still, I got about what I expected from The Clone Wars: lots of glorious eye candy and things exploding. Since the droids and vehicles were built from the same digital assets as those used in the real Star Wars films, the battle scenes were on par with the prequels. One action set-piece arguably exceeded anything from Episodes 1-3: a spectacular sequence in which Ashoka the Jedi padawan rode atop the windshield of a Republic walker as it climbed up a mountainside.

The human characters were, as reported elsewhere, surprisingly stiff, springing into action only during the lightsaber duels. Digital Padme, I must note, did have a nice ass.

I found that I didn’t miss the original voice actors much. The guy that played Obi-Wan channeled Ewan McGregor, just as McGregor had previously channeled Alec Guinness. And at least Christopher Lee had a fair amount to do reprising his Count Dooku role.

I did find myself questioning one character choice: the decision to play the villainous Ziro the Hutt as a gay stereotype dolled up with feathers and given a Truman Capote voice. Like Jar Jar Binks–a character in the Stephen Fetchit tradition who was cast with a black voice actor encouraged to perform with a rasta accent–it’s one of those “what were they thinking?” things. Note to George: making him an alien doesn’t help.

As for the story…well, it was more a series of events than a story, which befits its origin as several kludged-together episodes of the forthcoming TV show. And I couldn’t get very invested in it. Will Anakin come to accept his new padawan pupil? Of course he will, until he kills her. Will the Republic convince the Hutts to permit military supply lines through their territory? Could I possibly care less?

Supercollector Adam Pawlus over at Galactic Hunter appears befuddled by the poor reception of the new film by Star Wars fans, but I think it’s pretty obvious. For one, this was more obviously kid-focused than the live-action films. (Indeed, virtually everyone at the 4:00 pm Saturday show I attended was a young child or a parent.) I would also point to the backlash against Lucas not only for the prequels but for the recent Indiana Jones feature.

But more important, I think, is that the fans could smell that there was no movie here. Lucasfilm has tried similar tactics before: the first Clone Wars cartoon was originally conceived as little more than a series of one-minute toy commercials until animator Gennedy Tartakovsky lobbied to make them longer and more elaborate. Prior to that was “Shadows of the Empire,” a between-the-movies, multi-media project that involved books, comics, toys and even a soundtrack, but no film. I believe that the fanboys saw that Lucas wasn’t even trying, so why should they bother?

And honestly, while I can’t say that I disliked the “movie” or felt that I wasted my money, neither can I recommend it to anyone who isn’t a diehard fan in it to see Shit Blowing Up. Or digital Padme ass.

Good Wolf

June 30th, 2008 No comments

It took a few days, but I appear to have isolated and contained the “Bad Wolf” meme that overwrote my blog last week.

I realize that some of my friends are a couple of episodes behind me in the latest series of Doctor Who, but as that’s surely their fault, I’m pressing on with major spoilers for last Saturday’s show, “The Stolen Earth.”

Turn aside! Thar be spoilers ahead!

Nope, not buying it. Even if there wasn’t fairly good intel that David Tennant has already been seen working on this year’s Christmas special, I don’t believe for a moment that in this spoiler-happy world the BBC could get away with a surprise regeneration. Speculation is that the Doctor’s severed hand (seen, once again, happily bubbling in its jar at the start of the episode) may somehow allow him to override the regeneration process and remain Tennant. Which, as far as I’m concerned, would be a very good thing. I’m not ready to let go of him just yet.

As for the rest of the show: well, it was a bit of a mess. A big, loopy, over-the-top mess. It really was Russell Davies throwing as much shit at the wall as he possibly could, but I was willing to indulge him. A couple of posts back, I referred to it as “Crisis on Infinite Whos,” and that wasn’t far from the mark. It did feel like one of DC Comics’ cyclical house-clearings, in which a legion of heroes come together under a planet-filled sky to keep reality from breaking down.

And I do fear just how much of a house-clearing may be in order. All the arrows are pointing at Catherine Tate’s Donna as being the companion to come to a tragic end, but I dearly hope that isn’t the case. Rose and Martha may have obvious charms, but Donna has become my favorite new-Who co-star.

Besides, Dalek Caan’s prophecy was that death would come to the “most faithful companion,” and that’s open to many possibilities. For one, K-9 hasn’t made an appearance yet. And it could certainly be argued that the TARDIS herself has been the Doctor’s most faithful co-traveler, though if Davies really is clearing house before the new producer takes over, it seems unlikely he’d do away with the show’s central plot device. Besides, Caan didn’t say it was the Doctor’s companion…

And how marvelous was the supporting villainy this week? The new Davros, Julian Bleach, did an excellent job of channeling the late Michael Wisher. (I wonder if the rumor about Ben Kingsley playing the part was ever true?) I loved Sarah Jane’s reaction when she heard his voice; she’s the only one of the current cast who’s ever encountered him before, and she was there during his first appearance.

Even more fun was the mad Dalek Caan himself, gibbering and singing away in his demolished casing. I’ll bet he generated some nightmares.

If there was one bit that struck me as a bit too gratuitous (yes, even more than hundreds of Dalek saucers overrunning the Earth), it was the way that Harriet Jones, former Prime Minister, was shoehorned in. While I was happy to see her again and glad that she was allowed her redemptive moment–though I do wish that she could’ve talked to the Doctor one last time–her contribution to the plot struck me as implausible at best.

And from here it’s full speed ahead to the big finale next Saturday! Worlds will die! Heroes will fall! Captain Jack and Sarah Jane will get it on! Woo!

Crisis on Infinite Whos

June 22nd, 2008 No comments

The fourth series of the revitalized Doctor Who has been arguably the best yet. With the sole exception of one stinker (“The Doctor’s Daughter”), this has been a truly enjoyable run of stories. And while one expects brilliance from writer Steven Moffat’s annual entry (this time he brought us a sentient library and darkness that eats people alive), this year he was topped by show runner Russell T. Davies, who demonstrated why he just received a knighthood by knocking out back-to-back homers.

Spoilers!

First was “Midnight,” in which Doctor Who did The Twilight Zone by stranding the Doctor in a truly helpless situation: aboard a passenger bus on an alien world whose solar radiation is instantly lethal. With windows sealed for protection, the vacationers had no idea what was outside when the vehicle broke down and something began hammering on the outside, desperate to get in. It was a truly terrifying piece of psychological horror as the once-friendly passengers gradually turned into a frightened, murderous mob. The best thing was that it offered few explanations and no easy answers. We knew little more about the malicious alien presence by episode’s end than we did at the start. Prior to “Midnight,” the last time Doctor Who had me wanting to assume the traditional viewing position “behind the sofa” was sometime back in the mid-’70s.

More spoilers!

That was followed by this weekend’s entry, “Turn Left,” in which current companion Donna Noble (who is rapidly becoming a favorite of mine) tasted an alternate reality in which she literally chose a different path and never met the Doctor. In turn, the Doctor was killed, kicking off a horrible It’s a Wonderful Life-style chain of events in which the last two seasons of the show played out with disastrous consequences, including the destruction of London, the deaths of several of the Doctor’s friends, and ultimately (for reasons we don’t yet understand) the end of not only the entire universe but all parallel realities.

Massive, massive spoilers!

All of that leads us to next week’s episode, the first of a two-parter in which Russell T. Davies begins to hand off the reins of the show to a new executive producer, the aforementioned Steven Moffat. And it’s obvious that Davies plans a real blowout.

Two years ago, Davies pulled off what seemed the ultimate fanwank by bringing together armies of the Doctor’s two most implacable foes, the Daleks and the Cybermen, for their first-ever meeting, then making them fight. But that’s nothing compared to what’s in store this time.

Former companions Rose and Martha are coming back, along with the soldiers of U.N.I.T. and the casts of spin-off series Torchwood and The Sarah Jane Adventures. Even Harriet freakin’ Jones (M.P., Flydale North) is returning. Throw in the rhinoceros-like Judoon aliens (another favorite of mine), a staggering fleet of Dalek ships, and the first appearance of the Daleks’ creator Davros since 1988!

I don’t know how it’ll all wind up, but suffice to say that I. CANNOT. WAIT.

See for yourself!