Heaving Is For ReEEaauggGgGGhhLlll…!!!

In 2003, 3 year-old Coulton Burpo nearly died during an emergency appendectomy. When he came to, he started telling people that he’d had a near-death experience and had gone to Heaven, where he’d ridden a rainbow colored horse with Jesus, met magically de-aged versions of people’s dead loved ones and brought back a message from his own miscarried would’ve-been sister.

Oh, and not that you should read ANYTHING into this minor detail, but Coulton’s dad Todd is a pastor (shocker!) who transcribed the kid’s “account” into a bestselling book, which (amazingly!) the Burpo Family has been able to expand into a hugely successful ministry movement; because apparently American “pop-Christianity” wasn’t embarrassing enough without stadiums full of clueless twits literally swaying in thrall to a not-even-Biblically-Correct spew of pablum from an oxygen-deprived 3 year-old.

And now it’s a movie, starring Greg Kinnear (why?) as Todd. Interestingly, the trailer (maybe also the movie?) seems to leave out the detail of this guy already having been on Heaven’s marketing team – which is kind of a weird detail to leave out of something like this…



I like how the trailer, while downplaying the proselytizing aspect (presumably the film will take a “true or not, isn’t it INSPIRING!!!???” track since it’s aiming to be a mainstream sort of thing) none the less manages to cram us much Christian Movie stock-iconography into the frame as well: Heartland sunsets? Firefighters? Soldier funerals? All that’s missing is Kirk Cameron and a 1-800 number.

Yesterday on Twitter I got into a bit of a “thing” with the Reddit Atheism crowd, suggesting that they might want to ease up on their typical behavior (and maybe while they’re at it those obnoxious “nyah nyah!” holiday-themed billboards) when it comes to Aronofsky’s NOAH movie. Well, regardless of how I feel about Internet Atheists… even the douchey-ist of douches can have a purpose, and stuff like this is theirs. Have at it, fellas.

MALIFICENT Teaser

It’s kind of weird that Disney – named for a man who more-or-less invented the modern American concept of consumer-nostalgia – seems to have only figured out within the last decade that there are ways to mine it’s back catalog other than the perpetual re-release cycle. MALIFICENT, for example, is a two-fer: Part live-action remake of SLEEPING BEAUTY, part spinoff/prequel giving as “tragic origin story” [eyeroll.gif] to its iconic villainess:



Someone is going to have to explain to me how an infodump of background-detail actually helps this particular character beyond getting her Disney Store merch to move a bit faster. The idea of giving Disney bad guys franchises of their own to go be entertainingly evil in – PG-rated versions of slasher/monster “villain as main character” series, basically – is a good one… but Malificent’s whole appeal in this pantheon is that she’s really the only straight-out Satanic “evil for evil’s sake” major heavy Disney ever bothered to generate.

Seriously. Even Scar, Ursula and Jaffar at least have political “seize the throne” power as goals. Cruella DeVille had vanity. The Wicked Queen had both. Captain Hook wants revenge. Malificent is their “pure evil” baddie – there’s no motivation for what she does in the story beyond what’s played as feigned-outrage over a minor sleight, and she never seems to have a bigger goal beyond “feels good to be bad.” That black-pit lack of depth and nuance is entirely where the interest lies.

Is This GRIMLOCK?

The assumption for awhile has been that The Dinobots would be the new showpiece toys characters in the fourth Transformers movie, and I mean before they were officially calling it “TRANSFORMERS: AGE OF EXTINCTION.” Now, JoBlo.com (yes, I’m aware that they finally took the “Chud meets Maxim” routine revoltingly far a few months back – but a source is a source) says they’ve snapped some merchandising art that appears to show our first look at Dinobot leader Grimlock in his T-Rex alt-mode… and that’s apparently the newly-redesigned Optimus Prime riding on his back.

I’ll say this much: You have to be pretty bad at… well, everything if you can fuck up as simple a concept as Robot Dinosaur (car-robots are actually quite easy to fuck-up: just look at the Go-Bots) …and it doesn’t look like they fucked this up. I mean, I’m sure his robot mode looks just as bad as all the other live-action Transformers, but this looks about like it should look.

Assuming that this isn’t just crappy merch-art that couldn’t be assed to keep to scale, by far the most interesting thing about this is that Grimlock appears to be about 2 1/2 to 3 times larger than a real T-Rex, which Prime (going by the previous films) would be either at eye-level with or a bit taller when it’s hunched-over like that. All the Autobots are supposed to be getting major design-overhauls for this one, which is supposed to be a break from the story and human characters from the first three (no one has seen a good image yet, but the chatter has been more solid-looking bots with fewer moving-bits and exposed parts and they’ve said Prime is blue now) but Prime was confirmed to still be a truck and even if not it’s hard to believe they’d be shrinking him down to near human size. The simpler answer is likely that Michael Bay is exactly the filmmaker who would look at dinosaurs and say “No, no – we need to make them BIGGER!”

Against my better judgement, I’m holding out a certain amount of hope for this one. I really do regret the immature cheap shots I took at Bay (absolutely as a person and, to a lesser extent, as a filmmaker) back when Escape to The Movies was still finding it’s voice; and “PAIN & GAIN” was a potent reminder that whatever you think of his aesthetic predilections he really is something when he wants to be. The previous three Transformers movies all failed at least in part because of the tug of war between the Amblin-wannabe Sam story he was stuck with and the stuff that actually seemed to interest him – maybe (maybe!) now that that’s over with (Mark Whalberg is the new human lead) this will finally “work,” even if it still won’t likely be the Transformers movie some are still hoping for.

Here’s The American MISS UNIVERSE Contestant Dressed As OPTIMUS PRIME

The Miss Universe Pageant held it’s preliminary National Costume Show a few days back, a pre-pageant publicity event where the contestants show off early builds of their outfits for the “National Costume” portion of the event – aka “dress up as the Sexy Halloween Costume interpretation of your country’s national identity.” You can imagine how this is supposed to go: Miss Sweden as a Viking, Miss Denmark as The Little Mermaid, etc.

Well, pictured at your right: Miss USA Erin Brady in her national costume interpretation of… Optimus Prime, leader of the Autobots faction of The Transformers. Which were, of course, were Japanese toys – but that’s really the least silly thing about this, isn’t it?

The pageant itself will be held on Saturday, so there’s presumably some time for them to possibly get her into something else… but I kind of hope they don’t. This is us, America. Might as well just wear it.

Here’s Another ROBOCOP Trailer

Well, this still looks like shit. Nice to know some things are constant.



At least we’ve now got some kind of new-ish story to work with: In this version, OCP makes it’s money selling drones to every country but the United States; which apparently has either a law or at least a big cultural apprehension toward the use of robotic security within its borders (“Robophobia” waka waka waka fuck you.) and Robocop is a way around that: Ostensibly an augmented-human with bonus “second lease on life for a cripple” sob-story that’s actually little more than a corpse being remote-controlled by OCP and tricked into thinking it’s making its own decisions. But then he remembers to be human in time to get in elaborate (and PG-13 friendly!) CGI battles with other robots – i.e. exactly the sort of stuff the original movie devoted two entire sequences to making fun of.

Amusingly, the idea that near-future America is still considered a really important consumer market to “crack” immediately makes this a more optimistic movie than Verhoeven’s film. This will be out next year, so everybody remember to get just as psyched as you did for “The Thing” and “Total Recall,” both of which I’m sure we all have on fondly-displayed Blu-Ray and watch at minimum once or twice a week.

MARVEL’S DEFENDERS To Netflix

Where are all the black people, differently-abled and (other) women in the Marvel Universe? Netflix, as it turns out. Today’s big news: The ubiquitous streaming service will follow-up it’s year of turning the TV drama game upside-down with the breakout mega-success of “House of Cards” and “Orange is The New Black” by getting into the superhero game with Marvel/Disney.

The plan is produce four seperate series (each with a 13-episode initial run) based on Luke Cage (black guy, really strong) Iron Fist (white guy, does kung-fu) Jessica Jones (former superhero, now a private detective) and Daredevil (blind, also a defense attorney); and a team-up “miniseries event” that will bring the four together as THE DEFENDERS (the name is borrowed from a hodgepodge 70s/80s Marvel group that randomly tossed together Doctor Strange, The Hulk, Ghost Rider and Silver Surfer for no particularly sensible reason.) The rational for all this is almost certainly to be that these are all regular/”street-level” heroes who
So, basically it’s “The B-List Avengers” as a streaming content-dump. But it’s also a canny move that makes the Marvel brand immediately part of the huge story that is the rise of the Netflix model as a viable platform for serial television – they’re now the streaming action-show brand. The characters are all well chosen, since none of them generally have the kind of adventures (on their own) that would befit a singular big blockbuster but might work better handling 13 smaller-scale scenarios an hour at a time.
Presumably they’ll rope one or two of The Avengers into a walk-on for the publicity at some point (Devin at BAD thinks it’s plausible that Jones might debut as her superhero self “Jewel” on “Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D” first, which makes a lot of sense) but I wonder if this might start to work like a franchise farm-system; where if (for example) Luke Cage is the breakout hit we’ll see him called up to the majors for “Avengers 2” (or 3)?
Sounds interesting, at least. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I’m off to light a candle for whatever unfortunate mid-level guy at Warner Bros/DC is currently dodging office equipment thrown by a boss bellowing “WHY DIDN’T YOU THINK OF THIS???”