Saturday, January 25, 2014

Man Of Steel, Remakes, and The Downfall of Comic Book Movies

About a week ago, a sudden urge took over on my way back from taking a drive and I decided to rent Man of Steel. My wife and I both watched it. It was a good movie but had its flaws. Particularly, the score didn't resonate with me and there seemed to be a lack of joy in it. It's being presented as the darker side of Superman. I tweeted about it later on.

Then my wife and I started a conversation about comic book movies. I had mentioned that their making a Batman vs Superman movie. Eventually we both arrived to the conclusion that we are tired of super hero movies. To the point that we have established this ultimatum for Hollywood:


(Caution: Spoilers Ahead!!!)

Think about it. How many Spider-man movies are there? Doesn't that seem like a big number? A little excessive maybe.

Well, I've figured out why.

Superhero/comic book adaptations are a sure thing. They are the quintessential cash cow of Hollywood. How much did Iron Man make? How about The Dark Knight Trilogy? Were they good movies? Yes, but how long before they are rebooted, revamped, reshaped, remolded, or whatever the hell else they plan to do it?

You'd think we'd get tired of it. I know I am. But apparently Hollywood doesn't think so.

Comic Book Writer Grant Morrison said, according to Wikipedia, that "The Incredible Hulk Reboot was proof that the audience will forgive you if you reboot the franchise..."

Well, if that didn't open the flood gates, I don't know what did. These days I feel bombarded with superheros I am already familiar with, grew up with in fact, being re-casted or redone.

I feel like after Batman Begins, all the studios wanted to capitalize on rebooting a popular super hero franchise. 

Since we started with Superman, let's take a look at him first. I associate Superman with a pureness. A hero who is friendly, calm but also strong. A hero who stood for Truth, Justice and The American Way. And I feel like the person who embodied that the best was naturally, Christopher Reeve. Made 4 movies from 1978 to 1987. Yes, the last two movies were lacking in both budget, effects and story, but Reeve was a hundred percent committed to the character.

Superman had style, and he was funny and made you happy just watching him fly. But he could also be intense, filled with a righteous burden of holding the reigns of mankind. To keep things in balance and to watch over everyone. 

I mean, as far as acting goes, Christopher Reeve brought it. Remember this iconic scene?

But it was also remarkable to see him riff, pull out a one-liner of wit here and there? I was hoping for something to that effect in man of steel. I mean, all I would need is a little boy asking the last son of krypton, "Hey, Superman. How can I grow up to be big and strong like you?"


I mean the movie made you feel helpless. Yes, they raised the stakes from Superman Returns (which I think the grand plan was boiled down to krypton real estate wheras Man of Steel hiked it up to terraforming Earth for Krypton) but at least Superman Returns had some joy in it. Yes, it was long and in some spots boring, but how can ya beat that recognizable score. I know they wanted Man of Steel to be a separate movie but, can you imagine if it had John Williams included?

"By God...I'm on Mars."
But, in a way, Hollywood has tried with little success. You know how much Green Lantern made Worldwide? $219 Million...and it is considered a flop.

John Carter, a movie I actually like, made $284 Million and is considered a flop. But why. It's different, its fun and it has a little mystery and a lot of heart. It boggles my mind how movies that made so much can still flop.

And now I hear they are starting Ant-Man, which looks interesting and, mor importantly, different. But when are we gonna have The Flash? The Midnighter? Shazzam? The Phantom Stranger? Moon Knight? The Maxx?

When is Hollywood going to take a risk and be original?

(P.S. If you could have only one super power, what would it be?)

Sunday, January 19, 2014

Sherlock Holmes and The Dreaded Case of Public Domain

So it's finally happened. What we all feared. Well, maybe some of us. According to a Chicago Judge, Sherlock Holmes is apparently in the public domain.

For some this is a travesty. How can such a limitless character with hundreds of stories be shoved in the public domain?

For others, it really isn't that big of a deal. Sherlock Holmes still holds his weight in relevance today. Why else would we continue to depict him in tv shows as well as movies? There are many books that you can get on Kindle which are public domain which are still classics.

I guess the only thing I hope would happen is that whoever reads whatever stories get put up under public domain will walk into a bookshop and buy a physcial copy of the book to contribute to the Doyle Estate. After all, they carried this character through over a hundred years. I think they deserve some compensation for their efforts.

And who knows? What with the advent of streaming television shows, I deduce (see what I did there) that a whole new generation of Sherlock fans will emerge. I mean, take a look at the BBC and what they've done to utilize the character in modern day London. If you listen closely, you will find that a good eighty percent of the dialogue they use from that show are pulled straight from the stories themselves.

So go forth, my young lad and pick up a copy of this bloke's adventures.

The game is afoot...and you're sure to be Sherlocked. ;)

Saturday, January 18, 2014

The Following or How I Learned To Stop Worrying and Love The Bomb

In 2008 I was toying around with the idea of writing a short story collection. It began with a handlful of objects. Toothpicks, pennies, paperclips. I tried to weave a story around these items. Some of them were more prominent in the story than others. 

But one story I really enjoyed writing was The Graveyard Shifters, a tale of two misfits who stumbled upon a gothic device that somehow transports the consciousness into a corpse. What's more, it is later revealed that the device belonged to Edgar Allen Poe. Before this story, I didn't know much about him. I read some of his stories but it wasn't until I read a biograpghy of him that the seed of my short story really began to develop.

That was then.

Now I feel like everyone is shoving Poe down my throat.

It's gotten to the point of saturation. I hear the name so much, that I get annoyed when someone wants to educate me on Poe.

It was bad enough that I was burned by watching 2011's The Raven. Granted, I don't fault the actors. They did the best with what they had. I blame the script. They fudged some facts, tied in a serial-killer/Saw angle, dressed up the villian in the same wardrobe of V for Vendetta, with a Sai for a weapon, I might add. And there you have it. Now EVERYONE  and their brother thinks they know what's what with Poe.

At first, my wife and I were excited to see the show seeing as how we hardly heard anything about it. So we were going in with somewhat hopeful expectations.

Good Grief.

You know you're watching a bad movie/tv show when you start rewriting things in your head.

So here are a few scenes that really irked me and made me realize that I was watching a terrible show.

A killer in the show is obssessed with Poe, to the point that he has built a following of people, like Charles Manson. 

1. It's All Been Done Before
So, at the begining we have a setup that could work, had it been excuted with a little originality in place. But instead we get formulaic, predictable story points which aren't even points, really. Joe Carroll, the killer is a literature professor who has had many students who he has mentored and in this instance, he was caught by Kevin Bacon's character, via a whole Hannibal Lecter/ Will Grahm scenerio.

Kevin Bacon is still coping with almost meeting his end by the hands of Joe Carroll. Enough so to the point that he has to hide vodka in his water bottles.

2. Scenes Play Just For Shock Value:
As Bacon and others are brought back on to the case, after Carroll escapes prison, they start calling in all the people who were connected, in some way, to the killer. One woman stands up, strips naked, revealing scribbled text over her body and stabs herself in her own eye. All I have to say, and it should be glaringly obvious, is what does this have to do with anything? It doesn't do anything to move the story forward. It's just creepy for creepy's sake. And, why would the killer be sending her as a message? Wouldn't a post-it do? Or, I dunno, maybe not warning the lead detective at all? Maybe take him by surprise? Then Keven Bacon displays what I call false genius. Somehow, he's the only one who can tell, at a glance, that all the writing on her body is by Poe. Big whoop.

3. We're Still Doing The Whole Writing In Blood On The Wall Thing?:
At one point, in a garage, the killer has written NEVERMORE in the victim's blood. Um...okay? So...what does this have to say about ANYTHING? Does this mean that the killer will nevermore murder again? Is he alluding that death is a raven that taunts you? No, it's just creepy being creepy for creepy's sake. Hey, I've been guilty of this little trope myself but I've learned from my bad writing in order to identify what bad writing looks like. And this is bad writing.

4. If You Are Going To Use Poe, Use His Other Stories:
Over the course of the first episode, Poe and a handful of his literary works are mentioned. The Tell-Tale Heart and The Raven. Why not use something else, huh? Like, I dunno, The Cask of Amontillado? There's a story that could be portrayed, a person being bricked in somwhere. Or Fall of The House of Usher? Or Muders at The Rue Morgue? Use anything else! Because when you only use The Raven and The Tell-tale heart, that, as a viewer, tells me that you are only using what you believe to be his greatsest hits.

5. It's Not A Plot Device, It's Just Plain Lazy:
By the end of the episode, we learn that several people, we thought we could trust, are actually underlings working for Joe Carroll. At this point, in my mind, someone should be tossing papers in the air and rolling their eyes. By this rational, anybody could be a hidden discple of Joe Carroll. Which you would think is an edgy plot device but really it's just plain lazy. Every episode could have somebody who is conveintally working for Joe Carroll. It just really spoils the show.

Anyway, I guess I'm done ranting about the show but, if anything, I've taken away a valuable lesson from this. Sometimes you have to hunker down and watch a terrible show or movie. Even if its just for a minute. Why? Becuase each story is a lesson on writing. Either you learn how not to make the same mistakes as others or you can find a different path to a story, completely wowing your intended audience in the process. After all, that's what writing is all about, isn't it? Just a constant chain of people observing what worked and what didn't and trying their hand at it. So pop in that movie with the chicken-scratch script. Because even if it is a bomb, it will teach you a valubale lesson in creativity and how to control it.

Needless to say, I won't be watching the rest of this show. Too afraid of wasting my time with it. I've already gleaned as much as I could from the first episode. I guess it couldn't be all bad. I mean, hey, at least they aren't using the stereotype of someone dressing up in Edgar Allen Poe attarie with a bobble-head paper mache face. Man, it'd be even worse if they had him throw confetti like Rip Taylor or something, right?

Oh for Pete's sake.

Friday, January 3, 2014


Hey gang, got another brand-spanking new title for you.

This story bubbled up into my brain about a year ago and I just couldn't shake it. So I wrote it.

Right now it's on the Kindle for 99 cents.

Just click here to buy the book.

Here's the description:

Carl has discovered something disturbing about himself. Something that makes him unlike any other human on the planet. A rare disorder which has dangerous consequences with each passing degree. Now he has to reach out to his best friend help him with one last request.

Also, another little announcement -