Posts Tagged ‘night’

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!

Rollerball (1975) vs. Rollerball (2002)

May 30, 2008

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By and large, I’m not a fan of remakes.  I know the goal is to try to capture lightning twice, to get an easy “win.”  All too often, a studio finds a perfectly good (often great) film, and proceeds to “update” it, making something that is, at best, pale imitation of the original, and, at worst, a two hour display of modern movie makers urinating on history.


Sure, there is the odd occasion when a remake is actually good, and the extremely rare case where it is as good as the original, and the almost non-existant instance in which the update is better than the original, but, by and large, remakes are bad.


I have long said, though, that if Hollywood wanted to really impress me, they shouldn’t try to remake great films, but, rather, lousy films.


That’s right – don’t give me a remake of Planet of the Apes; give me a remake of Batman and Robin, a film so bad that it made me want to gouge my own eyes out while sitting in the theater.


Anyway, time marches on, and, as is apt to happen, Hollywood is running out of “great” films to pillage, leaving lesser offerings.


Enter Rollerball.


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Rollerball was a film released in 1975 starring James Caan and John Houseman. 

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Set in the year 2018, the world is ruled by several Corporations that control everything.


Rollerball is the sport of the future, a game designed by the Executives of the Corporations, to show that the effort of the single individual is pointless.  It is played on a circular track, with ten players on each team – seven skaters and three motorcyclists. 


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As the teams move around, a steel ball about the size of a softball is shot out, roulette style, around the top of the track. 


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The teams try to take possession of the ball and deposit it into a goal.  Just that simple.


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Oh, and it is pretty much a no-holds-barred free-for-all in stopping the opposing team from scoring.


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The Executives face a problem, though.  In a sport in which no individual is supposed to rise above the others, one has – Jonathan E.


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Jonathan E., played by James Caan, is the premiere Rollerball player in the world, a ten-year veteran of the sport.

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The Executives decide that it is time for Jonathan E. to retire, and inform him.  Though resistance to the will of the Executives is unheard of, Jonathan finds that he cannot bring himself to retire.

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What follows after that is a steady stream of pressure on Jonathan to obey the will of the Executives, while Jonathan comes to a place wanting more from himself than the futuristic gladiator that he has become.


The movie culminates in a final Rollerball match in which – well, I don’t want to spoil the whole thing.  Suffice it to say, the theme of the individual achievement versus sublimation to the rulers of society comes to a head.


Sound good?  Yeah, well, don’t get too excited.


Now, don’t get me wrong – the movie isn’t horrible.  It is too long and hasn’t aged as well as some other films, but Rollerball’s biggest crime is that it is pretty much just slightly better than mediocre. 


What manages to keep this movie above that line is the acting.  James Caan is good, though he seems to be trying to out melancholy Hamlet at times, and John Houseman, as the Energy Corporation Chairman, is very good.


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(As he almost always is, even when he was on Silver Spoons.)


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The theme of the film is a bit heavy handed, but handled well enough to inspire further thought on the matter even after the film is finished.


One thing is for certain:  Despite my idea of remaking bad films, I don’t think that anyone was really crying out for an update of the film, and yet…


Enter Rollerball, 2002.


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Gone is that pesky futuristic world!  This film takes place in the here and now!  It is loud and in your face!  And it is eXtreme!  Yeah!


*sigh*


Okay, in this version, Rollerball is the big sport of the former Soviet republics.  It is essentially the same kinda sport, but now played on a figure eight track, and the point of the game is not to send a message to the people, but, rather, to get ratings. 

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And to display singer Pink on large screens around the arena.


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The star player of the sport is Jonathan Cross, played by Chris Klein. 


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In this version, there are no Executives, but the sport is run by a crooked promoter played by Jean Reno.


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Evil looking, ain’t he? Oh, yeah, and LL Cool J and Rebecca Romijn-Stamos were in the movie, too.


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So, Jonathan Cross discovers that players are being set-up to die to bring in ratings, and decides that is wrong!


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He and LL Cool J attempt to escape across a border, which is about 20 minutes of your life you’ll never get back filmed entirely in glorious, grainy night vision.


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Yeah.


Eventually Jonathan Cross is captured and forced to play.  Of course, he is now the next target to encourage increased ratings.

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At this point, a film that was barely making any sense degrades into Jonathan Cross somehow starting a social revolution.


The end.


And, what did the re-makers manage to do with this film?


They took the heavy handed, yet still thought provoking theme of the original film of the individual achievement versus sublimation to the rulers of society and replaced it with an even heavier handed theme of greedily capitalizing on society’s bloodlust, a theme that requires no thought.


They replaced good actors (James Caan, John Houseman) with actors whose abilities remind one of cardboard.  Seriously, Chris Klein couldn’t inspire me to blow my nose, let alone revolt against the powers that be.


And, speaking of, the images of Chris Klein so far have been awfully fierce looking.  I mean, come on!  The Chris Klein we have come to know is that dopey looking Keanu Reeves kid.  Remember?


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Where is that guy?  Oh, wait.  Found him!


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Yep.  That’s the dopey guy we know.


Now, back to Rollerball.


Thankfully, the 2002 version is much shorter than the original.  Unfortunately, it feels twice as long when you are watching.


So, while the original film isn’t the greatest, it is a masterpiece compared to the updated version.


On a closing note, the basis of these films was a short story called Roller Ball Murder.  Aside from the ridiculous name of the sport (yeah, “Roller Ball Murder” is the name), it is actually quite good – a first person narrative from the viewpoint of Jonathan E., very much the story of a weary, futuristic gladiator.  If you have about a half hour, you can listen to the whole thing, courtesy of radio show from the ’70’s, MindWebs, the episodes of which have been archived in MP3 form on the internet!