The Dark Age of genre movies

What set me off was the post And the He-Man Movie Is Back to Being F@#$ed about some nobody writer, egged on by Warner Bros., fucking up the script to a potential Masters of the Universe movie.

Warners sees the big-screen version as a gritty fantasy and reimagines Adam as a soldier who sets off to find his destiny, happening upon the magical world of Eternia. There, Skeletor has raised a technological army and is bent on eradicating magic.

A technological army? Robots? Why? Well, robots are natural cannon fodder, I concluded. No one cares when they get blown-up, cut in half or crushed (just ask HELPeR, a Battle Droid, or the Terminator). Having disposable baddies lets you get action in your movie without having to worry about killing off any beloved characters and risking tying your hands when it comes time for a sequel. But wouldn’t an action movie where no one dies be better described as a motion movie? Transformers: The Movie killed off characters in spades, and it still remains one of the most memorable movies from my childhood. It never had a sequel.

True, the reason so many G1 Transformers were killed off was to make room for new toys, but I would rather have old characters killed off and new ones brought in than to let a franchise wallow in its own ossified nostalgia. Must He-Man, Transformers, or GI Joe (whoa… all movies) be the exact same things from our childhood? We grew up, why couldn’t they? (OK, maybe some of us didn’t grow up so well, so I guess maybe toy franchises are no different.)

But with this eye-rolling example of a writer who just doesn’t get it writing the He-Man movie, plus the huge shit Michael Bay has taken on the Transformers franchise, not to mention the sound and fury signifying nothing that was Wolverine, I feel like comic book movies are suffering through the same Dark Age that comic books went through in the ’90s.

It took some time to digest, but soon the better draftsmen in the field began to interject their art with realism and reverence. … Artists who draw in the cartoon style of the Eighties or the hyper-thyroid style of the Nineties are out of fashion — perhaps forever.

This excerpt is taken from Our Gods Wear Spandex, how Alex Ross’ Kingdom Come broke the mold that had stifled comic books in their garish pre-bagged, chromium-covered trappings throughout the Nineties. It was a time when talentless hacks churned out mediocre characters and horrible art. Sound like something playing at a theater near you?

Myst for iPhone

Myst is coming to the iPhone! I also just realized my iPhone has more processing power than the LC III I first played the game on. Can’t wait.


Who’s #1? You are, Number Six!

I recently had cause to re-watch The Prisoner because a friend of mine hadn’t seen it in nearly eight years and wanted to revisit the series. On the DVD cover was the slogan “no man is just a number” and she remarked on how that saying actually betrayed the intent of the series — a revelation that left me taken aback. To me, Number Six was never just a number, as he so adamantly asserted. He was a free man. But then I was reminded that in the final episode (spoiler alert!), it was revealed that the long-elusive Number One turned out to be none other than Number Six himself. He was a number after all.

That’s what I call a bad fur day

I’ve been looking for the out-of-print version of Conker’s Bad Fur Day for the Xbox, but as the game is three years old and under a different name, I couldn’t remember whether Conker: Live and Reloaded was the same as the original for the N64. And so I went to the definitive guide for video game information:


UPDATE: Oh bleep. Apparently the Xbox version is heavily censored. I would rant on about how this undermines the Conker character, but I’m sure that ground was already covered when the game was originally released. Still, cr*p.

He even saved the boxes

I’d written before about the man who died and left his wife with a garage full of boxes of Mac junk he had collected over the years. I like collecting this old, hard-to-find memorabilia, and found myself the owner of three more boxes of old Mac parts my friends had dropped off, after helping the departed’s wife clear his junk out of their house (evidently she wasn’t as sentimental). I think it’s a cute hobby, getting hardware and software twenty years past its prime humming again, even trying to get it to work with modern computers, like waking up a cryogenically frozen time traveler to the distant and bewildering future after the year 2001.

But there’s a point where all this collecting becomes pathological, and I felt a little sad digging through the deceased’s box of various manuals and peripherals. Well, not the peripherals themselves; they were long gone — I was looking at just their boxes. A box of boxes. Each one neatly preserved, flattened in a display of efficiency and economy of space, oblivious to the sad fact that these things weren’t worth keeping in the first place. What would drive a person to save just the boxes? I thought, fighting back the awareness of the various LEGO boxes squirreled away in the nooks of my apartment.

It seemed to me an inability to separate priceless from worthless; should one ever need to know the uplink speed, the version number, or how to reset some archaic device’s password, that data would be neatly shelved away, on the off-chance that scrap of cardboard would one day become invaluable.

Rather than learn what information was important about each device, and in the process separate the signal from the noise, the pack rat simply files it all away: dictated, not read. I believe this is the behavior of a person who prefers to catalog their experiences, rather than allow the ephemera of life to pass through them, and in that way they’re really cataloging their life rather than experiencing it.

Getting these boxes made me take a long look at myself, and raised some difficult questions. Questions like why do I have five modems when I don’t have a phone line? How many SE/30s is enough? And more importantly: how do I get rid of this stuff? And which of these things should I keep?

Who watches old toy commercials?

People who are editing the Watchmen movie, that’s who. I just got off the phone with a rep from Warner Bros. about my Veidt toy ad. He told me that “the editorial staff just loves it”! They liked the tone of it, and it’s sounding more and more like it’ll end up somewhere in the movie, as long as the film isn’t cut too short. I had uploaded a DV version to their media server just the otherday, but the reason for today’s call was they need a higher-quality version. I’m taking this as a very good sign, provided I can get them the ‘quality’ version of the ad. Oh, if only I had shot this on Betacam!

*My apologies to Paul, who is apparently tired of hearing about this.

Buttoned Up

Thanks to CafePress, I have two new buttons.

Watchmen & Invisibles

I’m sure any geek can guess the first one, but with all those weird comics you read, are you going to tell me you don’t know what the second one means…?

It’s written all over your frontal lobes, love.

I’m rolling up a new character

Grant Morrison did it when he was 30 and I’m going to try and roll up a new character for myself this fall. According to D20 Modern rules, a character past third level can multiclass, so I’m going to freeze my 5th level Programmer class and start over as a first level Animator. It sucks to be starting over at level one, but I was wasting all those experience points on skills outside my class anyway (Perform: Stand-Up???), so at this point changing classes would just be easier.

So far I’m spending my skill points on Photography, Animation, and Music Theory. And one point in Disable Device, just in case. Below is my character sheet, in case you thought I had already put up the dorkiest thing imaginable on my site.

Character Sheet

Seek the Six

I knew any exhibit as obtuse as the one I saw at Comic-Con this weekend had to be about The Prisoner! I visited the address on the card I was handed: After staring at an unhelpful splash screen for an awkwardly long time, eventually the site loaded: six screens of 6 x 6 images apiece. All I had to do to unlock their hidden meaning was to click on images with six of something in them. I’m starting to detect a theme here…

Anyway, here are some of the images I found which worked for me.

  • six red locks on teal wooden door
  • 6 sign on green brick wall
  • black stadium seats among red seats
  • roulette wheel on 6
  • six-fingered hand
  • rotary phone face all 6’s
  • six stacked stones against blue sky
  • digital stock chart
  • six diamonds
  • Q-bert blocks

Pictures with six things in them, easy enough. This list can also be described as “things they already know at kotaku, io9 or toplessrobot”, but I thought I’d list it here anyway. After you solve this little puzzle, it takes you to a place to enter your email address, then dumps you out on an already available blog following the remake of The Prisoner. The number they gave me is 590875… but I refuse to answer to it.

And thus my viral marketing role is fulfilled. Enjoy!

Watchmen viral ads in your favorite blogs!

A couple of friends found more posts about the Watchmen ad winners!

Television Without Pity has a story on the Watchmen ad, along with links to five of their favorites, including my own Ozymandias toy ad! It’s so satisfying to see people picking up on the nuances I put into the video, like the mispronunciation of “Ozymandias” by the disinterested A/V tech in the video’s pre-roll. You may also notice the copyright at the end is in roman numerals, which while not that unusual, is a touch I think Veidt would have insisted on.

The ads also showed up on sci-fi blog io9, which included four of their favorite videos — guess which familiar toy ad makes an appearance? I’m really excited that people like the ad enough to keep posting it. While you’re there, you may want to also check out a Veidt hairspray ad that is so 80s it’s almost unhealthy.