Tuesday, September 27, 2011

Wonder Woman 2011

Unaired Pilots: # 2:

Wonder Woman 2011:
Possibly The Worst Thing I Have Ever Watched
And I've Seen Homeboys In Space... twice.

Superheroes are pretty much in demand right now, between big budget films, critically acclaimed cartoons, and in some cases tv shows that break out of the mold of only comic book fans will watch, or even movies and programs that dare to create their own super-powered beings out doing good and evil. But I'd like to talk about the television aspect for a moment if I could, now I know, in recent years, the idea of a a superhero vs. supervillain type tv show hasn't exactly worked out well, Heroes fell flat by the end of its run, and by the time No Ordinary Family finally started to get going and became good, it was too late to recover from its major stumbles out of the starting gate, and well, The Cape was horrible from the get go, it seemed that really the only who actually did any good and could break the horrible mold, as much as I hate to admit it, was Smallville, a fact that delights my friend Sally to no end. So with Superman's show coming to an end and Batman being the only DC Comics character able to make it on the big screen, it seems logical that someone would want to try and bring the last of DC Comic's "Big Three" back to popular culture's eye, and in that logic, is where the recent attempt at bringing Wonder Woman to television, which thankfully failed. Now after checking around and finally finding a copy of this pilot that wasn't ment to see the light of day, and watching it, I can tell you that its more then likely a good thing this didn't make it to television. But I'll get into that after I explain the plot.

The pilot starts with a young black fellow named Willis Parks, as he rushes into his mom's house and tells her and his sisters that he's just gotten into college thanks to a scholarship, only to start to bleed blood from his eyes and start to convulse and gasp for air. Cut to a somewhat sleazy looking criminal running through a downtown cityscape at a breakneck speed, he's running from our hero, this is the first time you see Wonder Woman, who's running about almost as fast as the guy she's chasing, and once she's had enough chasing, she whips out her lasso and ensnares the would be criminal, in a motion that can only be explained by being more like Scorpion's grapple move from Mortal Kombat, complete with yelling "G'ET OVER 'ERE!!" and all. Once she's disabled this scruffy malcontent out to do villainous debauchery, she draws his blood before the police come to collect him from her. Once they do, there is a short discussion between Wonder Woman and one Ed Indelicato, who states its the law that she hand him over to the police, which she does after a short disagreement between the two.

Next, as we see Wonder Woman flying in her high tech jet toward what we assume is her base of operations, we here the narrative of a current affairs talk show, where the host gives us abit of a background on this version of Wonder Woman, she is Diana Themyscira, the head of a multi-billion dollar company called Themyscira Industries, which I guess among other things, makes a Wonder Woman doll, you know, for the chiggin, more on the doll later. As Diana's walking in off the roof more of the news program plays, you have cameos by O.J Simpson Lawyer Allen Dershiwitz, fat ass windbag Doctor Phil, and whatever the hell Nancy Grace is, these were odd choices because all Phil does is talk about how her outfit makes her look too sexy and objectified and we're all left wondering if Nancy Grace is here taping this, who's out there sensationalizing every police case where a little white girl that goes missing? This is also where we meet Diana's assistants, Henry Jones and Etta Candy. Henry is kind of bitchy and always on about business and "the image" of the company, and Etta, though named to sound like one, is not a stripper at a nudie bar in the ghetto where all the other dancers are named after drinks or cars. At the end of the scene introducing them and showing Wonder Woman is a high profile figure of note, you see Diana dressed in street clothing and putting on glasses while doing her hair up, Henry asks her what she's doing, she says "I'm going home.." he says "But this is your home, you mean that apartment you keep under the Diana Prince identity?" she says yes, then he goes on about how acting as she does can cause multiple personalities, and she says she needs the ID to hide and "feel normal", she then goes to said apartment, and eats some chips while petting her cat and watching sad movies, and telling her cat she has to get around to making herself a facebook page, oh she also as flashbacks of her leaving where ever she was before, I'm assuming Washington DC, to "do some good" in Los Angeles, which also includes leaving her boyfriend Steve Trevor, there really isn't anything that would imply or explain why she picked LA, nor is there any real implication they care about each other.

The next day there is a big press conference where Wonder Woman explains to the world that the man she caught the night before was a super enhanced being who was treated with a drug that is almost completely untraceable and gives you enhanced powers, she also explains it was given to the man by a woman named Veronica Cale, who is the CEO of a giant pharmaceutical company, which she claims is also responsible for the deaths of several inner city athletes with promising careers ahead of them, stating that it almost killed Willis Parks, the black kid from the opening of the episode. After this Diana is whisked off to a meeting where she and her board of directors all sit around and discuss the business that is Wonder Woman, leading to a very awkward and stupidly placed rant by Diana about how Wonder Woman is, and this is a direct quote, "More then just tits and ass..". If this wasn't enough annoying, we're next whipped away to Diana sitting in her office as Etta comes in and tells her that the woman she exposed earlier in the day, Veronica Cale, as arrived to speak with her, concerning her earlier accusations. Which leads to the most uncomfortable and completely overt attempted at building sexual tension between two possibly bisexual super attractive females ever on american television. No, I'm not kidding, the press work even lists Veronica Cale as bisexual in the first sentence of the overview, and i am not exaggerating, the two of them are alone in Diana's office, both of them are wearing dresses they had to be poured into or painted on them cuz they're so tight and form fitting, and the dialog is so overt and blatantly attempting to build sexual tension between the two of them that its almost off-putting to the point you know had it gone to series, they'd have used this to garner a ratings stunt out of it somehow, like when Claire kissed that girl that used to be on The Nanny on Heroes for no real reason and then they just forgot about it. And there is a short pointless scene where a Senator who is in the pocket of Veronica Cale tries to find out what Diana's up too, he says they're sending an investigator to check into her and her methods, she laughs it off.

From here, Diana goes to talk to the guy she caught the night before, and after being told she couldn't see him, she says, and i quote directly here, "do you like my outfit? you know, my outfit opens alot of doors for me.." in what is possibly the sleaziest moment in the entire episode. Before this goes anywhere farther, Ed Indelicato comes up and tells the officer to leave, him and Diana have a brief arguement and then he leaves her alone with the guy for 5 minutes. In that 5 minutes she breaks his fingers and arm and he tells her were all the biological drug testing is happening, and where anyone that is harmed by the drugs is kept. She then hops in her weird little jet and flies off, after telling Ed where she's going. After a scene of her flying about where you see the inside of the jet, Ed calls Diana on her cellphone, and tells her that if she breaks into the location, that makes it a crime scene, and anything found while they're investigating the break in can be used legally as evidence. Which i guess makes sense in the land of people who don't understand the law. This also leads to the most screwed up thing of all time, the climatic fight scene, ok well not so much climatic so much as slightly better then those boring 30 second rogue angel fights in that Ghost Rider movie no one but me watched, which reminds me, you all need to remember, I watched that film for all of you so it would save your souls.

Anyway, you cut to the warehouse, where Veronica has instructed her muscular henchman to stop Wonder Woman at all costs, I shall call her henchman "GunShow" because he's constantly posing while showing off his muscles, seriously, no one wants you to take them to the gun show, thats why you got fired from that GNC supplement shop in the sad mall. So Gunshow agrees, and says him and his "men" will handle her. Next thing you see is Gunshow and his men talking about how there is only one wonder woman and she can't beat all 20 of them, honestly, I'm kind of amazed they weren't seacresting out at this point, when you suddenly hear a banging on the near by gate, then another bang, and a third bang, at which point the gate rolls up, and standing there, in the classic wonder woman outfit for some reason thats unknown to us, is Wonder Woman, the look on her face means she's either gonna get gangbanged or she's about to beat the shit out of Gunshow and his wash outs from the WWE, honestly at this this point in the horrible story I was kinda hoping it would be the gangbang to save me from some of this horseshit, but I was wrong, I was horrible wrong, she fights them, with almost effortless ease, which makes me wonder, she can dispense 20 guys with a punch and a kick and afew cracks of the lasso, but it takes her three tries to break a gate open? Not even Heroes at its worst was this bad with power consistency! After beating Gunshow and all his cartoon pals, Wonder Woman walks down a hallway where she finds an armed guard, he fires at her, and she, in classic wonder woman styley, deflects the bullets off her bracelets, after he empties his clip which she deflects, she then picks up a near by lead pipe and THROWS IT THROUGH HIS MOTHERFUCKING THROAT and half way through the door behind him, he hits it so hard it knocks it off the hinges. She walks over him and finds Veronica standing there, they have a short fist fight/rough lesbian sex foreplay moment, which ends with Veronica lifted off her feet against a wall, then thrown to the floor as Diana walks past here and finds where the drugs she's been on about all episode are being tested on men, and sees the ones that all it did was disfigure and mutate. At this point Ed walks in and says they've got everyone in custody and they're shutting the operation down. After this you see Veronica being taken to jail on television, then you find out the "inspector" the senator mentioned earlier was the guy Diana left to come to LA, you know, because they needed one more obvious plot issue to deal with.

End, fade to credits.

Now that I've given you all the blow by blow, lets get down to the nitty gritty dirt band of all, shall we? First off, let me state, this pilot, and the final draft of the pilot's script that hit the internet afew months ago, are NOT the same, either this was an original version of the pilot and then they ordered it remade, which happens more times then you think, recent cases where the US remake of the british series Life On Mars, which had a massively bad original pilot, and a redo was ordered, plus many cases of unaired pilots of shows that have never seen the light of day. The reason I say this about the pilot is simply, that alot of what the script we were all told is the final script from shooting, isn't in this pilot. The running "joke" about suing Katy Perry for dressing as Wonder Woman in a video with out permission, as well as the "I kissed a girl" jokes about Diana and Veronica, are missing, the script had lots of cues for songs to be used, none of which were in this, almost all of the pop culture references are gone completely, the script also had swearing which would be bleeped out here in the states, but let air outside the country, but all there was as far as adult language goes is you hear "tits" twice and "ass" once, but nothing else comes close to harsh language. And this might be a nitpicky thing, but, the opening chase scene isn't what it is written as either, in the script Wonder Woman is running down Hollywood Blvd, and she's running into people dressed as everyone from Buzz Lightyear and SpongeBob Squarepants as well as pretty much every known marvel and dc superhero you can think of, the last of which being a very well endowed prostitute dressed as her, which would lead to the outburst in the meeting about the looks of the Wonder Woman doll that happens afterwards, also the script implied it would run add free, but there are are clearly add breaks in this.

Now that aside, lets focus on whats wrong with this actual pilot instead of pointing out whats missing, and well, whats wrong is, well most of the pilot infact. Sigh, lets see, where to start... First off, the outfit itself, I understand its a television show not a movie, and the budget won't be exactly the same, but the outfit looks literally like it was taken off the rack at a costume shop that has an adults only section, I'm serious, also its too tight, now I'm as much a fan of checking out hot women in skimpy things as the next upstanding gentleman who is wise to the ways of the world, but honestly seeing Adrianne Palicki's breasts muffin top the outfit because its so small on her, it starts to become abit distracting and takes you completely out of the show at times because its so overtly obvious you find yourself hating it whenever you see it, also though the boots look like your standard issue red and gold hooker boots, the pants Wonder Woman wears for all but the final fight scene, seriously look like a pair of stretch pants taken right off the post July 4th clearance rack at Walmart, and the trademark lasso thats always on her side looks like someone cut the end off of a golden glitter jump rope that someone got at a dollar store at the last minute.Seriously, I'm not exaggerating or nitpicking, the outfit really is bad enough to spend a whole paragraph on.

Other things that are wrong is, ofcourse the script itself, it lacks any real feel of structure and is devoid of most attempts at telling a story, in a remotely proper way, and it fails to make us really see any of the stories its trying to string together, the scene with Steve Trevor told in flashback completely misses even giving him a name, and really makes no sense at all other then to tell you Diana lived somewhere else then moved to LA "to use her powers for good", you have no idea where they are, who Steve is until his name is mentioned near the end of the pilot, you also don't have a clue why she feels her powers would be best used in LA instead of say, Washington DC or New York City or one of DC's many fictional cities of note Metropolis, Gotham City, Keystone City, Coast City, ect, you're just expected to believe she just felt the best place for her to use her powers, was the city of angels for no real reason other then to just go there. Plus, there is no actual reference to the fast she's an amazon princess, there is a joke about amazons, but thats it, no reference in the very little we're told of her of her coming to the "world of man" or anything, its just, like she somehow forgot who she is, and the writer completely forgot to tell us this fact, seriously, its kind of annoying once you get down into it. My other massive issues is, Wonder Woman has no concept of the the law, and how justice works, in the real world you can't hold a press conference to say someone is doing something illegal and then expect everyone to trust your word on that simply because you're you, we call that "slander" here in the states, and its against the law, hell its even against Branigan's Law. She also has no issue torturing people, you know, because thats what heroes do, oh wait, I'm from the world that makes sense, where anti-heroes like Cable, Wolverine, Punisher, Lobo, Batman and the like all torture to get information, but heroes like Superman and Captain America and the like do not torture, Wonder Woman doesn't torture, she uses her magic lasso, which when tied around a person will make them tell the truth, I guess someone in the writing department forgot its for more then snapping a motherfucker's neck like a matchstick, but the thing that bugs me most of all, even far beyond the implication that Diana's secretly bisexual and is secretly attracted to Veronica Cale, who again, the synopsis points out in the first line about her, is very bisexual, and even farther beyond the fact they try to make Wonder Woman a mix of Batman and Iron Man, or the whole has three identities thing, above all of that, what gets me the most is how effortlessly, and willingly, Diana kills. Seriously there was no reason for her to toss a pipe through the throat of a security guard who was out of bullets for his gun, just because you're a door guard at a super secret super evil research building, does not make you guilty of being involved with what goes on there, she seriously murdered a possibly innocent person, and no one bothered to even call her out on it. It was seriously mindblowing.

So the big question, is it really worth it? No. It falls into the same category as the unaired pilots for the american versions of shows like Red Dwarf, The Vicker of Dilbey, Absolutely Fabulous, Little Mosque On The Prairie, and countless others that just should be relegated to things people who are only in the know and get a kick out of such things keep and show their friends, and should never ever be shown the light of day. But if you wanna have a good laugh, or wanna see Elizabeth Hurley as a purely evil super hot and super bisexual criminal as she flirts with Adrianne Palicki in a way too tight pleather top from Victoria's Secret or see that believe it or not, the crap that does make the air, isn't always as bad as the crap that doesn't make on the air, then by all means search it out and see if maybe you can find it, and then be amazed at the horror show that follows. Or just avoid it and run like the wind, your choice.



Friday, September 16, 2011

Weep For The Children: A Rant About Children's Films

Weep For The Children
A Small Rant About The State Of Children's Films

Recently, I had the displeasure of watching what passes for children's films these days. And after finding myself surprisingly able to hold in the rage and blood vomit from the full frontal assault of endless one liners aimed at being the children related equivalent of an internet meme, followed by endless pointless visual and audio gags and pointlessly uptight people played for "comedy" in completely watered down and ignorant tasteless lazy attempts at film making, I found myself thinking about it, and thinking how the genre of children's films has gone from a genre of much beloved classics that span the gambit of most genres; action/adventure, sci fi, comedy, animation, drama, and to the extent of just scary enough to give alittle fright, but not nightmares, there is even some things that would be seen as horror, well to a child anyway.

I can remember my childhood watching such great films as The Goonies, Time Bandits, the Explorers, The Neverending Story, Watership Down, and many others that when held up to what is made today, there is almost no honest way to compare, you look at the films of generations past, and you can clearly see the difference, there was storytelling, there was actual acting, there was conflict where a villain, though comical, was clearly a villain not some random uptight adult figure who is uptight for no real reason other then they're an adult. And bullies are bullies who are more then just a simple vague idea of a bully thats been watered down as to not offend anyone. Think about it, can you honestly put any modern children's movie bad guy up against characters like The Nothing, or Jenner from The Secret Of NIMH or The Red Bull from The Last Unicorn, or hell even Judge Dredd from Who Framed Roger Rabbit? Hell can you even pick out a clear definitive out and out bad guy in any modern kids movie? One thats a legitimate evil person and not some adult trying to force a group of children to follow the rules but only ends up the punchline of 90 minutes worth of fart jokes, followed by one or all of said children screaming whatever the line they want kids to remember from the film at the top of their vocal range? Yeah, if you're having trouble, don't worry, you aren't the only one. I've sat down for a good long while, looked through my DVDs, my VHS, downloaded stuff, and went through every single list I could find of children's movies, and I couldn't really find one that had a truly scary definitively bad guy in them, its sad really.

But I noticed something else when I was looking through my lists and timelines, I found when this change from classic beloved children's movies that didn't talk down to you or insult the viewers, changed over the predominate slop they have now, it was, surprisingly, the same year I credit for children's programing and well entertainment in general going down hill, 1990, the year Jim Henson died, and the year a movie aimed at children came out that some of you might have heard of, it goes by the name of "Home Alone". Now don't get me wrong, I have nothing against Home Alone, but it signaled a change in how movies aimed at children were made, much like how Toy Story changed the way CGI films were made, it proved that if you take a young child who seems likable and funny and has just enough acting skill to make it believable that they can pull off being on screen for most of the film, set said child with an unlimited access to just bout anything in the house he will ever need, with no parents to tell him no, regardless of the danger involved, and somehow allow him to outwit some apparently stupid adults who are underestimating said child, and have each scene be literally visual gag over visual gag, followed by pretty lame 2rd grade level jokes and mugging dumb faces at the camera. This formula seems to have been the entire point of that film, and 90% of the films aimed at children sense then, have followed the same path, the problem is, though it worked once, that doesn't mean it will work again, lightening rarely strikes twice, no matter how much Hollywood would like you to think otherwise.

Now this isn't saying that every children's movie before 1990 was a work of art, believe me, for every wonderful amazing film like The Dark Crystal there was Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles 3: Turtles In Time, much like for every Harry Potter film there has been twice as many Land Before Time films, but you get the idea, I'm not really crapping on the last 20 or so years, I'm just pointing out there is a massive lack of quality that started to slide back then and has been continuity sliding down the water slide of fail faster and faster as each year goes, and its really alarming, not just to me as a writer, but as a movie lover as I am, its sad to see a genre that went from such giant and brilliant productions as Willy Wonka and The Chocolate Factory and The Phantom Tollbooth which where just so amazingly visual and well written, has fallen to such horrible and lazy films as Unaccompanied Minors and the completely lazily named and lazily written film Hotel For Dogs. I just wish the people who make this slop, and more so, the people who write it, would look at what they're doing, and realize they aren't doing anything but dumbing down the youth of the world with their lack of ability to tell a compelling story.

Now to some this whole thing might not seem like a big deal, but think about it, each generation of film makers are inspired by the movies they watch as children, and sense I'm pretty sure most parents won't let their kids watch movies by Stanley Kubrick, Akira Kurosawa, James Whale, Jean-Luc Godard, Howard Hawks, Charlie Chaplin, Buster Keaton, just to name afew, or even the more recent brilliance of some of the more recent directors who have shown they are very good at what they do, I know it makes me sound old, but honestly, I weep for what the next generation of film makers, and the films they will make, when they have the crap thats out there now to inspire them.

And if the rest of you think about it, maybe you will too. Or maybe I need to put a dollar in the Douchebag Jar.



Tuesday, September 6, 2011

3D: A Mini-Rant

How 3D Killed Summer Movies: A Mini-Rant

I remember as a kid, going to see a 3D movie was a cool event, it was a rarity and a treat and almost every single scene was designed and shot just to use that technology to its fullest, just as it was back in the 1950s when it was first used to mass effect. See back then, a 3D movie was a big deal, you had to shoot a movie in a completely different way, you had to use special cameras and when framing your shots would have too basically pander to the fact the film is in 3D, and ofcourse, it would be awesome, be it a spaceship flying at you headlong at a breakneck speed and shooting its photons as fast as Machine Gun Kelly would shoot a tommy gun, or Jaws coming up out of the water at you like you're a fun size snickers bar and he's had nothing to eat all day long, and all the many uses in between, but either way, shooting a film in 3D was alot harder then it is now. See nowadays, like with most things in hollywood, 3D is simply a filter applied to an already finished digitalized copy of a film, normally a final theatrical cut made as a second disc after the master has already been put on blu ray. Its a simple filter that anyone with Avid editing software and is aware one of the many filters you can get to add onto it is infact the same 3D filter that is used by the studios (Avid is still the king of hollywood video editing, no matter what mac tries to tell you about their video editing software). And though that has lead to so many interesting changes, just like in the theatrical films, it really seems unneeded and just another excuse to milk more money out of us all.

Now to some this might just sound like me being an angry nerd who bitches and complains about just about anything that isn't what I feel my personal idea of something should be, and I guess that statement wouldn't be 100% wrong, but it also wouldn't be 100% right either, for you see, its simple common sense and logic, mixed with a love of film that its hard for some to understand. Now, for just a minute, think about all the movies that have come out in 3D in a post Avatar cinematic landscape, now, of them, how many of them actually fit the concept of 3D? How many of them had something flying at the camera every scene? How many intentionally aimed things at the camera every single scene to give you that "brought into the film" feel that you get with 3D? Now, how many of them only had one or two scenes where the 3D visuals were even used? And how many had no scenes at all where it was needed, and felt like you were just suckered into paying an extra 4 dollars just to watch a film with a pair of glasses that weren't cleaned before you wore them and all you can smell is whatever the person before you was eating while wearing them? I'm betting there is alot more in that last category then in the others. Honestly, did you really need 3D for Captain America? I loved that film, but no. Did you need it for Transformers: Dark Of The Moon? Again, I loved that film, but no. Did you need it for The Smurfs? I don't know because I refused to watch that pile of dung, but from what I've been told it didn't need it, nor did so many other films, it seems like for the past year and a half or so, every single movie has been available in standard visual format, or "2D" and as well as in the modern take on 3D. And honestly it just doesn't need to be. Its not worth the ramming it down our throats, just for afew extra dollars and some glasses we're gonna steal because we got suckered into paying extra for a film that didn't need extra effects. I've always said this, if a film needs some extra filter tacked onto it in post production just to get sales, its not a good film. Did The Godfather need gimmicks? no. Did Back To The Future need gimmicks? no. Did Ghost Dad need gimmicks? Well it might have helped that pile of shit, actually. But anyway my point remains, a good film, should be seen as a good film, not a film where the only thing you remember from it is the one scene where Yogi Bear shot bear snot at the screen, or where a prehistoric piranha spit out someone's penis right at the camera. Thats not cinema, thats pandering to the easiest and lowest demographics for the easy cash. Its an insult to movies everywhere. Maybe I'm an old bitchy grumpy bastard on this, but it bothers me beyond more then when a well deserved film gets passed over for some flash in the pan gone in a month then on dvd two months later that really pissed people off instead of making the theater raving about what they just saw.

And now I've gotten that off my chest, I'm good now