Archive for September 23rd, 2009

h1

Alvin and the Chipmunks: Star Wreck

September 23, 2009

Well, this just might be the cartoon that gets my kids even remotely interested in something Trekky. Alvin and the Chipmunks are starring in Star Wreck, a new DVD release of an 80s cartoon. Read more about it here.

Honestly, I had never heard of this movie when I wrote about the Chipmunks a while back. But if the similarities between Alvin and Co. and the TOS crew occurred to me, you can bet they occurred to someone else first. I ain’t too bright.

When I worked at Burger King in the 1980s, we ran an Alvin promotion. After it ended, I took home the six-foot cardboard Alvin lobby standup and repainted it to look like Alex from A Clockwork Orange. Years later, I took it outside during a yard party and consigned it to a bonfire while we howled at the moon like madmen. But that’s another story.

h1

iPup

September 23, 2009

I couldn’t bear to look at that Nic Cage Superman image on my front page anymore, so I decided to bump it. Here’s a picture of a puppy listening to Simply Syndicated. That’s why he has that look on his face.

h1

Nicolas Cage: More Like “Man Of Rubber”

September 23, 2009

I’m still not convinced this is real, but if it is, I’m appalled.

This video is making the rounds today. It’s a collection of sketches relating to Tim Burton’s Superman film, followed by what is purported to be test footage of Nicolas Cage in a Superman costume for the aborted 1990s movie. From what limited view we get, it seems to be fake rubber muscles, which were still kind of in vogue, as the world had not yet realized how terrible Batman and Robin was.

Unlike many comics fans at the time, I was all right with the idea of Superman being played by Nicolas Cage. The way I saw it, and the way I debated it with friends, was that Tim Burton was going to cock the whole thing up anyway with his usual unusual approach, so it really didn’t matter if quirky Cage put on the cape. This would not be the classic Superman of old; this would be Jon Peters’ “caged animal,” a weird, feral alien with bad hair and a designer itching to add rubber nipples to the suit. Probably also puppets.

The hair is another interesting thing; Cage said at the time that he had no intention of changing his thinning brown hair for the role, which had a lot of fans gasping. His long black hair in this shot reflects the way Superman looked in the comics at the time. Cage had long hair in Con Air, which was made around the time this footage might have been shot, but this is an altogether different wig. I think he might have taken it from a Wonder Woman costume.

Still, I’m suspicious, particularly considering that little necklace he’s wearing. Things like that always make me think PhotoShop. And the body looks a bit too much like an action figure, particularly above the weird S shield. If it is fake, though, it’s still a representation of something that might have actually happened. Taking that into consideration, as well as scriptwriter Kevin Smith’s hilarious description of his time on the film, I realize how lucky we are that all we got was Superman Returns.

h1

Heroes Lost and Found

September 23, 2009

Warning: Lost and Heroes spoilers ahead.

I’d like to think Tim Kring was thinking about me when he created Heroes. It’s as though he asked me what I’d like, because the idea of an arcing, multilayered action/adventure series about ordinary people who discover they have superpowers is pretty much what I would come up with if NBC had asked.

Considering how hooked I’ve been on Lost for the past five years, the idea of a new show in the same general vein had me interested. But I didn’t see it right away. When Heroes premiered, I was working nights, and thus didn’t see it until season 1 came out on DVD. I bought it. Was I hooked? At first, yes. But something about it just seemed … off. One thing Lost did well, right off the bat, was handle its many, many characters well. Heroes didn’t do that, and a lot of characters seemed bland and ill-defined. Overall, though, I enjoyed season 1.

Season 2? Not so much. Again, I waited for the box set and watched the 11 episodes of the strike-shortened season, sitting back after the last hour and thinking “I guess that’s it for Heroes.”

But it came back, and this time I activated the old VCR and started watching it week by week. By the seventh or eighth episode, I was done. I couldn’t follow the weirdness, all the time slips and parallel versions of characters and whatever a “catalyst” is supposed to be … there were some wonderful moments, mostly involving Masi Oka as Hiro, but for the most part, I just didn’t care.

Until now. I’m wrapping up the Season 3 box and I have to say Heroes really found its feet again with the second half of the season. Unnecessary twists, like Nathan’s sudden religious zeal, were just dropped and forgotten. Sylar’s story alone is epic, and Zachary Quinto is frighteningly watchable in that role. Touch and Go Baby? Emile Danko? Nathan and Claire’s Mexican getaway?┬áThat’s some great TV, and has given me a renewed interest. I’ve taped the beginning of Season 4 and will start watching regularly.

However …

I can’t help but notice a few similarities to Lost. I’m not alone; some people even claim the two shows are set in the same fictional universe. I don’t buy that. But you have to admit, there are a few shared characteristics that go beyond the general ensemble nature of the shows, the time travel and Greg Grunberg. On both Heroes and Lost:

  • There’s a young blonde named Claire
  • Claire’s real father is someone we already knew.
  • There’s a fat guy with daddy issues.
  • There’s an Easterner with interesting hair.*
  • There’s a creepy guy played by Zeljko Ivanek.
  • There’s a person who couldn’t walk who suddenly can.
  • There are two Asians who can’t speak English.
  • There’s a little black kid with superpowers.
  • There’s a family named Dawson.
  • The fat guy and the Easterner hide out in one of those two-level California motels, with balconies and courtyards.
  • There’s a shootout in that motel.
  • There’s a magical African with a big stick.
  • A toy vehicle from childhood is a plot point.
  • A guy grows a beard to show us he’s depressed.
  • A few decades in the past, a whole bunch of people go to live in an isolated place with playground equipment to do science and tinker with nature.
  • An Asian guy travels back in time, finds his parents, sees his mother, who died when he was young, but then his dad yells at him without knowing who he is.
  • Some Asians suddenly learn English in an interesting, well-written way.
  • The little superpowered black kid doesn’t show up for a long time, and when he does, you say “We waited this long for that?”

But I’m just nitpicking. You could say the same thing about any show with science fictiony leanings. Or any nighttime soap opera. It’s part of the storytelling process to seize on the familiar and tweak it. Done well, it succeeds, Done poorly and it’s just a cheap knockoff. Heroes came dangerously close to being a cheap knockoff, but has redeemed itself in my book.

Also, I think Greg Grunberg is really cool, and I like anything where Ivanek (right) gets to be a slimy bad guy.

* This is a tricky point. I chose to make race and appearance a part of this, because it’s part of the casting process and it’s part of who we are, and it makes the bit about the Magical African work. But Lost features an Indian playing an Iraqi, while Heroes features an Indian playing an Indian. Still, they have a common look and style, which seems to involve sweat and undershirts. I just chose to go with “Easterners.”