Posts Tagged ‘Mystery’

Movie Time: Surrogates

October 14, 2009

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Surrogates
PG-13
Directed by Jonathan Mostow
Starring Bruce Willis

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There was a time, not too long ago, when Hollywood offering a token of science fiction with good production values and name stars was unusual. It was a dark time. As a result, I still get excited when I see a movie preview from the genre, despite the greater number of offerings.

Enter, Surrogates.

I saw the previews for this film and was really amped to see it. Real life delayed me, until this past weekend, but now I’ve seen it, and thought I’d go ahead and give my two cents about it.

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In a future world quite similar to ours, technology has allowed the vast majority of people to purchase robotic surrogates, physically perfect avatars, to interact in the real world. No more need to fear the dangers of the outside world, people plug themselves in and live through these machines in perfect safety. Even if the surrogate is damaged, the operator is perfectly safe.

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That all changes, though, when a college student is somehow murdered via their link with a surrogate. FBI agent Tom Greer (Bruce Willis) investigates the death, running into roadblocks from the company that creates the surrogates, the military, and those that rebel against the use of surrogates.

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The movie is based on a limited comic book series from Top Shelf Productions.

I’ll admit, I haven’t read the comic book. I thought about seeking it out before seeing the movie, but I tend to believe that is a bad idea. Seldom to films live up to the source material, and I wanted to give this film every chance.

At the start of the film, I was completely struck by the look of the characters. I would bet that underwear companies had to delay their ad campaigns while every perfect underwear model in the world worked on this film. That isn’t a knock against the film – it establishes very early on the feel of the movie, and artificial perfection, a “fakeness” that allows the premise that people living through perfect machines is plausible.

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In fact, this is reinforced when we meet up with the plastic version of Bruce Willis’ character. I don’t know what all they did to Bruce Willis to give us the plastic/perfect look that blends in with the underwear model cast so well, but it is impressive.

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And, when his character is forced to go without his surrogate, the grizzled, wrinkled, and bald look of the actual human behind the puppet is also great for establishing the contrast of the film.

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Unfortunately, one aspect of this compare/contrast demonstration didn’t really work. In the movie, there are those that are resistant to using the surrogates. Resistant is probably too subtle a term. “Violently opposed” is more accurate. They have been separated from the general populace in various camps. To emphasize the difference between these “real” people and the surrogates, most of the real folks are too real – sloppy looking, craggy, unkempt. It made me wonder, as I was watching, why none of the “real” people looked basically average. You can’t tell me that only the least attractive members of society reject surrogates. There have to be a couple of average folks mixed in, or it seems too black and white, which actually took me out of the movie.

The movie does have several good action sequences, and I have no complaints about the effects within the film. And, with a running time of under 90 minutes, the movie certainly doesn’t drag!

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On the other hand, the film is pretty heavy handed in its moral. Not only does the main plot seem to revolve around the detachment of humanity, the sub plot of the relationship between Greer and his wife does as well. I think the makers of the film were trying to use the sub plot as a more personal reflection of the widespread issue of the main plot, but what results is the feeling of being hammered over the head in a “well, if you didn’t get the idea from that, how about this” sorta way.

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(Ooh, by the way, wanna see what that surrogate having its face pulled off looks like? Okay!)

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And, had the film stuck with the single social commentary of the detachment of humanity, I think they could have had a better product. Unfortunately, that non-dragging 90 minutes doesn’t really allow for the exploration of that theme, the violation of personal civil liberties, the question of justification in terrorism, and any of the other statements that the film failed to sufficiently elaborate on.

The movie failed to really offer anything new, though. We’ve seen this same sort of story done before, both better and worse.

The real problem with the film, though, is predictability. Every action seems to be telegraphed throughout the movie. Plus, I was able to figure out most of the film in the first five minutes, which is something I hate. OG tells me that this is partially my fault, because I never go into any book or film without overanalyzing as I go along. Maybe he’s right, but I still hate knowing how things are going to be put together at the beginning.

Overall, the movie was okay. Nothing spectacular, but it wasn’t unwatchable. I wouldn’t recommend running out to the theater to catch it before it moves to DVD. It isn’t worth that.

I’m going to give Surrogates two Running Steves.

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I don’t know that they could have really done enough to make the film great, but there was definitely room for improvement.

It is a Mystery!

October 9, 2009

There is a mystery in Geekdom.

DC Direct has been producing some pretty neat action figures in relation to the Blackest Night mega-event that is taking place in the Green Lantern titles (and, soon, the entire DCU… my wallet is already crying).

In the first batch of toys, we were treated to a “mystery figure” in all the promotion:

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Soon enough, we learned it was Kal L, Superman of Earth 2 as a Black Lantern:

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In the next wave, we had another mystery figure:

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Turned out, it was Black Lantern Martian Manhunter:

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The next wave included Black Lantern Aquaman, but I don’t think his promo was blacked out. It might have been, but I don’t recall. The wave of figures after that, though, is where the real mystery is.

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In that image, we see the Black Lantern Firestorm, but there is another figure blacked out. The solicitation for this wave says:

“This series includes Wonder Woman, who is surprisingly transformed by the happenings of the Blackest Night (Read the comics to learn more!)”

What makes this figure so mysterious is that, unlike the previously blacked-out figures, this one hasn’t been spoiled. Kal L and Martian Manhunter were uncovered within weeks of the initial promo. This figure… it is well over two months now.

Don’t get me wrong, it is nice to NOT be spoiled… but it raises a lot of questions. All of the previous mystery figures were Black Lanterns, does this mean Wonder Woman will be a Black Lantern? But, each wave up until this one only has one Black Lantern, and this wave already has Black Lantern Firestorm.

Which leaves us to wonder (get it? wonder? ha!) if Wonder Woman will be getting a ring, and if so, which one?

A lot of folks are thinking that Wonder Woman will become a Star Sapphire. This is based on an image tucked away in the massive two page spread found in Green Lantern #25:

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See it? No? Down in the left hand corner. Still no? Okay, how about blown up a bit:

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As far as I can tell, the only thing that people are going by to connect this image and Wonder Woman is the mystery figure:

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Looking at the figure, it seems to have the same skirting that is seen in the drawing. And, thus a lot of folks seem to make a massive leap to say that the figure must be that Star Sapphire, and since the solicitation for the figure says it is Wonder Woman, Wonder Woman will be a Star Sapphire!

That… is a pretty flimsy reason to make that leap.

The whole “Power of Love” (man, I love Huey Lewis and the News) thing the Star Sapphires have going on doesn’t mesh with my idea of Wonder Woman.  Plus, the ouline of the figure doesn’t really match up with that Star Sapphire costume.

A lot of folks think Wonder Woman may become a Blue Lantern. But, as passive as those Lanterns are, I don’t see that either.

Green seems unlikely. Red? An angry Wonder Woman is a thing to behold, and might work. Yellow is possible, but less likely. Sure, she can inspire fear, but as an ambassador to the world, it seems against her nature. Orange? Nah.

Which leaves Indigo. And, while attaching an Amazon Warrior to the Indigo Tribe seems like a more natural fit, I’m not buying it either.

I’ve never seen Wonder Woman as a mercy killer.

Then what? Well… I propose that the solicit is deceiving. (That’s right, solicit! I’m calling you out!)

After all, Diana Prince isn’t the only woman ever to be Wonder Woman.

Alternate option #1: Wonder Woman of Earth 2

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She was seen again back during Infinite Crisis, so maybe she is coming back to take care of the Black Lantern Superman of Earth 2.

Alternate option #2: Hippolyta, Queen of the Amazons, and Mother of Diana

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That’s right – for a time, Diana’s mother served as Wonder Woman. She even traveled back in time and served with the original Justice Society of America. I’m not sure if any of this has been retconned, but it is a possibility.

Alternate Option #3: Artemis

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Ah, the 90’s, when superheroines all had gravity-defying hair and broken backs! Yes, Artemis, the grim-and-gritty version of Wonder Woman! She served as Wonder Woman after Queen Hippolyta called for a new contest for the title of Wonder Woman in an effort to protect Diana. Could be her… and, she’s already dead, so she’d be able to slip into a Black Lantern costume pretty easily… which is necessary with that back condition.

Alternate Option #4: Donna Troy

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During the year that Diana took off for 52, Donna served as Wonder Woman in this far-superior costume! (Yeah, personal opinion, but, c’mon! That IS a much cooler costume!) Plus, if you are reading the Blackest Night: Titans comic, you’ll know that there is a real possibility here. Plus, she seems to be wearing the correct skirt (or possibly the sword) that is seen in the mystery figure.

Which is why Donna is my odds on favorite for this figure – a Donna Troy as Black Lantern Wonder Woman. Why as Wonder Woman? Well, her other costumes have been generally unremarkable. The Wonder Woman outfit is more distinctive, and should mess with the minds of the other heroes quite a bit, too.

To give an idea of what the figure might look like, I took this image:

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And, with a quick, not too detailed mock-up, I came up with this:

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I know – not the best, but it gives the idea. I could be completely off base here, but we’ll see!

Comic Con 2008 Day 2: Con-Gorilla!

July 25, 2008

Welcome faithful reader(s?)  EG thought it was important that we blog tonight and for this I hate him.  My body hurts.  I have the stink of other geeks upon my person.  And, the destroyed remnants of a Burger King Triple Stack and a couple of their Taco bombs just laid waste to my lower intestine.

But, EG tells me that the peoples they demands the updates. 

So, here you go. 

With the continued growth of ComiCon and the hope-dashingly long lines for nearly every panel (I’m looking at you “Ghost Hunters.”  Seriously?  Ghost Hunters was at capacity?  Really?  Did actual ghosts appear at the panel?  Were they captured before a live audience and then given corporeal form only to feast on the souls of the innocent leaving an ectoplasmic residue in it’s wake?  Perhaps that’s what I sat in.) we only managed to get to handful of panels.

Oh, but what glorious panels (except for that Batman one with the corpse of Jerry Robinson) they were!

Here’s what ended up in along with both of our brief reflections on each followed by a few photos that’ll make you feel like you were actually there with impaired vision…

WARNER BROS. THE WATCHMEN PANEL (In which the director, cast and co-creator of the Graphic Novel presented new footage, some expanded from the recent trailer):

EG’s Thoughts:  Despite my still lingering misgivings about the project I can’t deny that the footage is impressive and that the makers of the film really do have a love for the project and the best intentions.  I still can’t see it being able to adequately translate the work from the sequential page to celluloid but we’ll see.

OG’s Thoughts:  While there’s not much in the world that’s worth a three hour wait in line behind the world’s biggest “Drew Carey Show” fan (not EG), this came pretty darn close.  Unlike most of these big Hollywood panels, the cast were unusually well spoken and knowledgeble of the source material.  (The scars from Sarah Michelle Gellar’s heat-vision blasts of disdain from six years back still burn.)  The footage knocked me out of my sweat-soaked socks and I’m just as excited about this movie as I was when we saw our first glimpse of “Superman Returns.”  Sadly, I think we all know how that turned out.

DC: BATMAN: NO REST FOR THE DARK KNIGHT (Starring writer’s Paul Dini, Brian Azzarello and Grant Morrison and Joker creator and aforementioned corpse Jerry Robinson): 

EG’s Thoughts:  I regularly buy both Batman and Detective Comics.  I’m enamored with both of the writers of those books (Dini & Morrison).  So, you’d think I would’ve been thrilled with this panel.  Unfortunately, there was no new information given, the writer’s seemed generally unaware of what each other was doing and most of the talk seemed to be rife with spoilers from “The Dark Knight” (which we won’t actually be seeing finally until Sunday!!!).  All and all, it was a generally disappointing panel that not even the lilting brogue of Grant Morrison could redeem.

OG’s Thoughts:  I second all that and would only add that it would have been nice if some of the questions asked of the creators were about the actual comics they create.  This panel sucked.

EG Adds:  And I desperately would have liked to have seen an actual fist-fight between Dini and Morrison who certainly seemed not to respect one and other very much.  (Despite lip-service to the contrary.)

ADULT SWIM: VENTURE BROS. & ROBOT CHICKEN:

EG’s Thoughts:  We have been to these panels before and they are consistently fun and entertaining and this year was no different.

OG’s Thoughts:  These two shows are the only programs in the Adult Swim line-up that don’t seem to be cobbled together from non-sequiters and bong resin.  And, while this panel has always been fun in the past, the creators have always seemed a little too-cool for school and kind of annoyed to be there. (Aqua Teen Hunger Force being the primary offender)  So, I really dug this year because these guys seemed to geniunely like interacting with the fans and were enthusiastic about what they had coming up.  

EG Adds:  The only down side – NO FREE SWAG!!!  Say you want you want about the Aqua Teen guys, those green Mooninite socks were awesome!

And, finally…

MYSTERY SCIENCE THEATER 3000 20th ANNIVERSARY REUNION (Patton Oswalt hosts the entire cast and writing team of this landmark in geek programming):

EG’s Thoughts:  If we had only managed to get to this panel for the entire Con I still would walk away satisfied.  As a long-time fan and member of the “Information Club” I was delighted to see both the clips and the cast united on this historic occasion.  I only wish that they had been able to announce a new re-launch of the series to heal my aching heart of the loss their cancellation brought.

OG’s Thoughts:  Really, probably one of the best things I’ve witnessed our 5 Con-going years.  Only that sad, miserable part of myself was disappointed that the Riff Trax people didn’t go to fisticuffs with the Cinematic Titanic people.  But, that’s a small part of me.  Mostly, I was happy to see them all together celebrating their excellent work.

Tom Servo, from MST3K.

Tom Servo, from MST3K.

     

Crow T. Robot, from MST3K.

Crow T. Robot, from MST3K.

 

Seems Emil Hirsch, following the failure of the recent Speed Racer film, has fallen on hard times.

Seems Emil Hirsch, following the failure of the recent Speed Racer film, has fallen on hard times.

Any guy willing to come to a hot, crowded Con, dressed in a furry Scooby Doo costume just to promote his comedy act and website deserves the link.  Here you go - Andre Meadows!

Any guy willing to come to a hot, crowded Con, dressed in a furry Scooby Doo costume just to promote his comedy act and website deserves the link. Here you go - Andre Meadows!

 

Okay, seriously - maybe the best Two Face costume weve ever seen.

Okay, seriously - maybe the best Two Face costume we've ever seen.

 

Is there anything I can type here that wont make me seem like a total perv?  No?  Okay, nevermind then.

Is there anything I can type here that won't make me seem like a total perv? No? Okay, nevermind then.

Alright, that’s it for Friday.  Due to an expected late night on Saturday, look for Saturday’s update on Sunday after we return to Los Angeles!