Cruise Kneels Before Zog

Everything about “Jack Reacher” looks good… except Tom Cruise. He’s not a bad actor, he’s not an actor I dislike… it’s just that his whole “aura” – scrappy, intense, perpetually-youthful – seems like bad casting for a character they’re essentially selling as John Rambo: Consulting Detective.

Still, this new trailer makes the film a must-see by revealing Werner FUCKING Herzog as the villain(?) For a guy who’s spent so long being a movie maverick, it’s fun to see how enthusiastically Herzog has embraced present-day Hollywood’s overdue fascination with him:


Take ten minutes and watch this video clip of “Prehistoric Beast,” a 1984 homemade stop-motion short film from FX dynamo Phil Tippet and one of my favorite dinosaur-related things EVER. As you watch it, keep in mind that ’84 means this was done the old-fashioned way – frame-by-frame with NO computer effects… even those “hand-held camera” shots are artificially executed bit by bit.

I first encountered the short as incorporated into “Dinosaur!”, a 1985 “everything you wanted to know” documentary hosted by Christopher Reeve that I probably watched multiple times a WEEK as a child. I was obsessed with this thing, and as a science doc it still holds up today:

The Moment

Busy night. May or may not post a longer debate-related thing, but in brief: Obama won but Romney still standing, Fox News will now spend a years trying to ruin Candy Crowley, Obama saying that low-skill jobs that’ve gone to China “aren’t coming back” and that high-end, high-skill tech and science careers are the future of the American economy is the first time a politician with something to lose has told the HARD TRUTH about jobs since John McCain said it four years ago.

However… for me, there was only one moment that stood out, and unlike a lot of people (so far) it’s not Mitt getting “live fact-checked” by the moderator about Libya.

No, “The Moment” was when Mitt Romney – GOP nominee for the President of the United States in the 21st Century – answered a question about gun violence by saying (in part) that “…women should think about getting married before they have babies” (paraphrased, since the damn thing only just ended) – in other words: “gun violence is committed by hoodlums raised by single mothers.”
That he said such a thing isn’t the story – the anachronistic myth that ONLY a strong patriarch can managed a family (or anything else) properly is one of THE key animating beliefs of the present day Republican Party.

No, the story is that he said this thing – without a hint of irony! – while standing on the same debate stage mere feet away from a man who was the child of a single mother AND GREW UP TO BE THE PRESIDENT OF THE UNITED STATES.


This is one of those “remake of a classic” first-trailers whose first, last and only mission is to A.) “surprise” audiences with the reveal of what it is (even people who haven’t seen “Carrie” have “seen ‘Carrie” and B.) let lovers of the original know that this one is bigger but that they know their iconography (re: “don’t worry, we’re still going to dump blood on her and start a fire.”)

Fair or not, I think they’re kind of wasting their time if they think classic-horror fans are coming at this one with anything other than knives drawn, regardless of how good it looks or is. The original is known not just for being a good movie but for the “DePalma-isms” that a remake is either going to catch shit for ignoring or catch shit for imitating poorly…

For me, the big draw here is Chloe Moretz – or, rather, the innate interest in seeing one of the all-time high school horror movies executed with actors who actually look like high schoolers (the original, for all it’s merits, DOES still have that “obvious 30 year-olds playing children” problem.)

"Ant-Man" is happening

Sandwiched amid the expected announcements today that “Iron Man 3” and “Thor: The Dark World” will be in 3D comes official confirmation that Marvel/Disney are making it official for Edgar Wright’s long-gestating “Ant-Man” movie… and that it’s now dated to come out in November of 2015 – after “Avengers 2;” meaning that they’re already setting “Phase III” in motion before “Phase II” even officially gets underway.

What’s fun about this is that by announcing “You’ll see Ant-Man in 2015,” they’re making it feel VERY likely that we’ll in fact see him before 2015, too…

Here’s the thing: Wright and Marvel had a “test reel” of Ant-Man FX footage at Comic-Con which apparently felt an awful lot like something that would be the post-credits teaser of another Marvel movie – and while they haven’t cast the “official” Ant-Man yet, in the footage he was wearing a full-head face-obscuring helmet so it’s probably still extremely useable and I’d be very surprised for a penny-pinching studio like Marvel to not repurpose it at some point.

Also, they’ve been shooting (and then deleting) minor references to the character (who, for the record, can communicate with ants and also shrink down to tiny-size while retaining his full strength) for awhile now – there’s a clear references to “the guy who gets small” in the “Avengers” deleted-scenes, and the scientist Dr. Selvig emails in “Thor” was supposed to be revealed as (in an email handle) Dr. Hank Pym, aka Ant-Man.

That’s another reason he could be turning up before his own movie… or even before he’s been (fully) cast: Wright’s script is said to feature both original Ant-Man Pym and later mantel-carrier Scott Lang as characters, supposedly with Lang as the “main” protagonist. That’s interesting in and of itself (Pym’s character went to some pretty dark places in the comics and modern retellings tend to cast him as an antihero at best) but it also leaves the door open for Pym (and the Ant-Man abilities) to appear in “Avengers 2” (or “Iron Man 3,” or “Thor 2,” or “Captain America 2,” or “Guardians of The Galaxy”) and then for Scott Lang to become Ant-Man in the series-proper. FWIW, the Comic-Con footage depicted Ant-Man either breaking into or out of what looked a lot like a S.H.I.E.L.D. facility.

An interesting footnote to this is the question of whether or not – Pym or no Pym – perennial Ant-Man sidekick/love-interest The Wasp (same powers, but with wings) turns up for “Avengers 2” as well; given that she’s a fan-favorite character and given that the team is overall hurting for a more diverse lineup.

Bill Nye Needs Your Help

Just about the only thing I can sort-of agree with the current Republican party about is that they consider the Space Program to be one of those government programs that, like the military, “doesn’t count” for some reason in their no-government-programs rhetoric.

I don’t buy for a second that they’re actually “committed” to it, of course – there’s no way the party of Creationism and Climate Change-Denial is really devoted to the idea of expanding human knowledge of space, and with private space-travel companies coming into their own I’m sure the GOP’s make-believe affection for NASA will dry up at roughly the same pace.

Either way, for now the question of whether or not to restore federal funding for space exploration is up to whoever is President in 2013. And Bill Nye wants your help in convincing them to do just that:

The thing is, public-pressure is really the ONLY way this is going to get done. I’m sure a President Romney ::shiver!:: would make a nice show of being pro-NASA, but don’t kid yourself – he and his party are whole-hog on the side of the guys who want First Contact to be made by some corporate-sponsored junker covered in Doritos sinage (and before anyone brings it up, YES, I do in fact think that Felix Baumgartner’s big space-jump yesterday is rendered significantly less awesome than it otherwise might have been by the fucking Red Bull logos all over his spacesuit.)

Obama, meanwhile… I dunno. Democrats, obviously, are better friends to science on-average because they actually acknowledge that it exists, but I don’t detect any special affection for space travel in Obama and frankly he seems very much like he’d be a “Why are we paying to collect rocks in space when PEOPLE HERE are STARVING you guys!!??” bleeding-heart about it.

But WHOEVER wins is going to come out of the election looking bloody, dirty and in need of some easy pandering… and if they can be convinced that re-funding the space program can BE that easy pandering, then I’d call that a win.

Coulson Lives

NOTE: No, the headline is not spoiling a surprise… which in and of itself is surprising, since this sounds like something that could’ve made for a killer reveal.

For me, what continues to be the most interesting part of the Marvel Films experiment is that they keep making decisions that feel like conscious, deliberate challenges to every “that won’t work in a movie” part of their material. Prior to this, every superhero movie was approached from a perspective of “what has to be done to this comic for it to work as a movie?”… but they’ve been doing the exact opposite: More and more, the “grand scheme” of the whole enterprise seems to be transforming “the movies” into comics so that their Universe can be carried over as unmolested as possible…

Already we’ve seen once thought “unfilmmable” aspects of superhero comics like genre-mixing and shared-universe continuity brought successfully to the screen, and the results have made Marvel so confident that they feel comfortable going even deeper into comic-spawned weirdness… like, say, greenlighting a space-opera co-starring a Tree Man and a Space Raccoon as “Phase II’s” new Big Shiny Thing. And now, we may possibly be looking forward to comics’ infamously loose rules of mortality coming over as well: Yesterday at NYCC, Joss Whedon, Kevin Feige and Clark Gregg confirmed that Gregg’s Agent Coulson character – famously killed off in “The Avengers” – is coming back for the pilot of the “S.H.I.E.L.D.” TV series.

At this point, no one knows in what form his appearance will be (he could just be there for flashbacks, for example) but Gregg was already joking about LMDs (Life Model Decoys, human-duplicate robots typically used to fake deaths in the comics and referenced in “Avengers” by Tony Stark) at the announcement. I seriously doubt that he’ll be popping back into full-human existance (remember, Gregg is also a filmmaker in his own right so I’d be surprised if he committed to a TV series) but having a Coulson-based LMD – or maybe some kind of “digitized memories” hologram or computer-presence – onhand as part of the team would be a clever way of keeping him around while also keeping him dead “for real.” It would also leave the door open for the popular fan theory of Coulson becoming the Movie-verse version of The Vision (short version: He’s a Terminator who dresses like a superhero and has the digitzed memories and personality of a dead good guy.)