Comics Ate My Brain

January 29, 2010

Requiem for an action figure

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Tom Bondurant @ 9:00 am

I don’t usually read the biographical information on the backs of action-figure boxes, usually because I know it already.  However, I did glance at the brief bio from the DC Universe Classics version of Green Lantern Katma Tui:

When the Green Lantern, Sinestro, turned rogue, the Guardians of the Universe named Katma Tui as his replacement.  Katma Tui served with distinction for a long time before retiring.  She returned to service at the urging of Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern of Earth, and trained Jordan’s replacement, John Stewart.  Katma Tui came to love Stewart, and the two of them married, but Katma Tui was murdered shortly thereafter by longtime Green Lantern foe Star Sapphire.

Can you tell which of those data points Mattel might have considered omitting?

I mean, I buy a nominal amount of action figures, and like I said, I don’t often read the bios — but I don’t expect them to say that the figure I just bought is a plastic version of a dead character.  I bet if she comes back in Blackest Night some copywriter is going to be mighty embarrassed….

January 28, 2010

k THX bye

Filed under: Uncategorized — Tags: , — Tom Bondurant @ 9:27 pm

Comics posts are coming, honest, but I did want to mention that I watched THX 1138 recently.  It was the “George Lucas Director’s Cut” version, which meant some CGI inserts a la the Star Wars special editions.  I am not especially familiar with the original THX, although I did tape it (and Lucas’ original student film, also a DVD extra) off Bravo ten-plus years ago, so it’s not like the original is completely lost to me.  The GLDC didn’t despoil my childhood, is what I’m saying.

Anyway, it was an interesting film, very much in the mold of alienated ’70s sci-fi, where everything looks drab, utilitarian, and monochromatic, and all personality has been outlawed. It does have its moments, most of them having to do with the characters LUH (love interest) and SEN (maliciously annoying colleague).*  THX (the character) is heroic in his way, but it’s a slow burn before he finally decides to (as Lucas puts it elsewhere on the DVD) “walk through the open door.” LUH and SEN each have designs on THX, and it’s through their actions that THX is put through his ordeal, so perhaps that’s why they seemed more … well, entertaining to me.  I had forgotten it had nudity — which sounds really strange at this point, doesn’t it?  Nudity in a George Lucas movie? — and either the actors (Robert Duvall as THX and Maggie McOmie as LUH) had great chemistry or Lucas had a much better feel in the early ’70s for directing a romantic scene.  Insert smart-aleck Attack of the Clones comment here.

For paranoid, dystopian early-’70s sci-fi, it’s not especially suspenseful either.  (SPOILER ALERT!)  When Lucas talks about THX walking through an open door, he’s not exaggerating.  The last shot is pretty amazing, though; and it makes a good counterpoint to its sister scene in Star Wars.

Walter Murch’s soundscape didn’t do much for me, probably because I wasn’t watching it in 5.1. I think it’s the kind of movie you have to watch a few times, in order to get a proper feel for the rhythms and themes. I’m not opposed to that, but it may be a while before I revisit it.

* [By the way, I would love someday to chart Donald Pleasance’s various career trajectories. Not long before this he was Blofeld in You Only Live Twice, arguably one of the biggest movies in the world. In 1971 he did THX, in 1978 he did Halloween, and in 1981 he was back with John Carpenter for Escape From New York.]

January 14, 2010

Structure, tone, and Superman

Filed under: movies, superman — Tom Bondurant @ 2:00 pm

These days I am watching movies in big chunks, usually while a certain young someone is napping. Today I finished yet another viewing of Superman, which is probably well-suited to this kind of schedule because it has pretty much four distinct parts.

The opening on Krypton is weird not just because everything is cold and crystalline, but because it all centers on Marlon Brando in a white spit-curled wig. He makes a good Jor-El, in part because he and Lara are the most friendly characters we meet. Even when he’s “interacting” holographically with Superman later, though, he plays a caring dad, eager to catch up with his long-lost son.

Of course, when I first saw Superman during its original run, I was nine years old and didn’t know Brando from Mr. Greenjeans. I had no Godfather or On The Waterfront or (yikes!) Last Tango In Paris frames of reference; and can only imagine what 1978 audiences must have thought about Don Corleone in that wig and S-shield muumuu ambling around the North Pole. (Remember, Superman‘s original script was by Godfather author Mario Puzo.) I expect Am I tripping? went through more than a few heads.

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January 7, 2010

How I’d Fix Generations

Filed under: star trek — Tom Bondurant @ 9:25 pm

With plok asking bloggers how they’d change last summer’s Star Trek, and with me not having much to say about that, here are some thoughts on how 1994’s Star Trek Generations could have been a more fangasmic Trek film.

In many ways, Generations is a victim of circumstance. Conceived and produced by “The Next Generation’s” team while that show was winding down, it was filmed in the spring of 1994 for release in the fall. Meant to bridge the gap between Kirk’s crew and Picard’s, it is hardly entry-level, and plays much more to devoted “TNG” fans than to any other group. In the context of the TV show, it’s passable, but it really doesn’t work as a standalone movie. While Soran and the Nexus are new, Data’s emotion chip was last seen in “Descent” (Seasons 6-7), there are “bad” Klingons despite ST VI‘s peace initiatives, and the Enterprise-D is destroyed just as potential new viewers were getting to know her. Plus there’s now an Enterprise-B and its hapless captain, along with references to otherwise-unseen Original Series stalwarts.  Indeed, watching Generations makes one aware of what’s not in it. The more the viewer must fill in the blanks himself, the weaker the film is.

Thus, Generations desperately needs a steady drip of context, stat!

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