Tuesday, August 26, 2008

Raiders Of the Lost Franchise

I know I said I was going to share my thought about Hellboy II: The Golden Army, (good but not as good as the first), but I caught up with Indiana Jones and the Kingdom Of the Crystal Skull at the bargain matinee, and boy, am I glad I didn’t pay full price to see it.

(SPOILER ALERT, although I’m sure everyone’s seen it by now.)

This is the kind of movie that makes you want to pull a gun on the cashier and demand everybody’s money back. There is an almost palpable stench of desperation about it, from the opening sequence, which takes place in the same warehouse in which the Ark of the Covenant is hidden (and which is inexplicably located within a quantum leap of White Sands Testing Range). Which leads to Indy escaping a nuclear test blast at ground zero by hiding in a refrigerator.

I guess they made ‘em better back then.

An attempt at believability was made by labeling the fridge as lead-lined (who knew they were that worried about irradiated produce back in the ‘50s?). So all he had to deal with was the shock wave and the thermal blast, which would've cooked him like a Swanson’s TV dinner. I know I’m supposed to park my brain at the door, but even my spinal cord couldn’t take this. And it went downhill from there.

Don’t get me wrong - I loved the first 3 movies. (Well, I loved the first and the third, and parts of the second.) But I don’t --

Well, that’s not entirely true either. In fact, I think I may be the only person on the planet who has a severe problem with the ending of Raiders. At least, I’ve never heard anyone else mention it. And oddly enough, it’s exactly the same problem that Han Solo has in the “Special Edition” of Star Wars. In that version, as every fanboy knows, Han didn’t shoot first.

And Indy didn’t either.

I’ll go into detail in my next post.

Wednesday, August 20, 2008

A Knight To Remember

THE DARK KNIGHT: I enjoyed this one as much for its complexity as I enjoyed Iron Man for its simplicity. This is the Godfather II of superhero movies. A little long in spots, and falls a bit flat (as does Two-Face; you’ll know what I mean at the movie’s end). But all in all, a fine business.

Everyone’s pretty much in agreement that this would’ve been Ledger’s breakout role. A damn shame, but at least we have this performance to remember. The scene with the disappearing pencil alone was enough to clue you that this ain't your father’s Joker, unless your father is Alan Moore. And Aaron Eckhart is wonderful as Harvey Dent; he doesn’t have that much to do as Two-Face, but makes that character his own as well. (And I must admit I was tickled that they did an homage to the B:TAS design.)

For a long time I had the pleasure of being told that the Mask Of the Phantasm, which I was one of the writers on, was the Batman movie, better than any of the live-action ones. When Batman Begins hit the screen, I stopped hearing that, and I don't expect a resurgence of compliments after this one. And I don’t mind one bit.

Monday, August 18, 2008

"Does Whatever An Iron Can ..."

Finally got around to catching a few summer movies, now that they’ve been relegated to the local bargain cinema. So, for what it’s worth, my thoughts on:

IRON MAN: Probably the most enjoyable superhero flick of the summer; certainly the most enjoyable Marvel movie I’ve seen since the first X-Men. Also probably the most successful origin story I’ve seen in awhile, for a very simple reason: It was an origin story. Period. It didn’t try to deal with how Tony Stark got the suit in the first half hour and then went on to battle the Mandarin, or Titanium Man, or War Machine (although there’s a nice tip o’ the hat to the last). No, they gave the story room to breathe, and that, along with some fine performances (especially by Robert Downey), allowed them to bring the characters to life in a way I haven’t seen a superhero movie do in awhile. I could’ve done without the open-with-blowing-stuff-up-and-then-flashback-to-the-party bit -- just tell it like it happens, you’ve already got my money. But that’s a minor quibble. Everybody stepped up in this one; even Jeff Bridges managed to do a lot with that thankless role of the baddie (I’m sure I don’t have to label that a spoiler, right? C’mon, you all spotted him a furlong away, didn’t you? I mean, he was bald! He smokes! He was Tony’s trusted mentor!). Lotta laughs, lotta fun. I look forward to the sequel and how they manage to make the Mandarin (Ten Rings, remember?) a politically correct villain.

And, since I’ve still got Dark Knight and Hellboy II to get through, maybe it’s best if I split this post up. More in a day or so.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008


I've been lurking on the Star Wars boards of late, and, while the responses to Jedi Twilight are generally quite positive, there is one complaint that crops up repeatedly, both on forums and in private email: Why do I use so many big words?

I find it sad to even have to mention this, but I've gotten enough complaints to wonder about it. A writer's job is communication, after all, and if my vocabulary is getting in the way of that, than maybe I should throttle back the thesaurus a mite.

The thing is, I don't consider my vocabulary to be all that baroque -- I'm just using words I know. I think English is a wonderfully descriptive language, and I enjoy using it. I figure that if they're words I know, then any 5th grader should know 'em. Also, most of the more esoteric meanings can be gleaned from context.

My concern is that if I start censoring myself, then I'll become paranoid and worry about using any polysyllables (like that one). (Should I have used 'gleaned' earlier? And is 'esoteric' too esoteric?)

See what I mean?

What gets me is how indignant they're all sounding. How dare I use a word they're unfamiliar with? I must be doing it to show off. I always thought geeks appreciated not being written down to; that I was writing for sf fans, who were a cut above the mundane.

I guess not.

How disappointing.

Sunday, August 10, 2008

Too Bad

So, for those who came in late: Marc Scott Zicree and I had been nominated for a Hugo award for our episode of Star Trek New Voyages, "World Enough and Time".

We lost.

I suppose I should be gracious and say that it was an honor just to be nominated, (which it was), and that we were up against heavy competition (which we were). But dammit, I really wanted to win. We were up for the Nebula, too, but I never figured we had much of a chance there, due largely to some incredibly picayune nitpicking about our eligibility. The Hugo, however, I thought we had a real shot at.

Ah, well. Too bad -- that rocket ship would’ve looked mighty fine on the mantle next to the Emmy ...

Thursday, August 7, 2008

Back Into the Fray

Here we go again.

I'll be honest -- I don't know how often I can post to this thing. Since I've been outed as far as having Parkinson's Disease goes (on Neil Gaiman's blog, no less, which is one step down -- or to the side -- from the Word Of God), it does me no good to keep being coy about it. This is probably a good thing, all in all; at least it gives me a legitimate reason to not feel obligated to post every damn day.

Anyway -- yes, I have PD. (Actually, I prefer to call it Michael J. Fox's Disease, because if you have someone young, courageous and charismatic publicly fighting the disease, it makes more sense to capitalize on that than to name it after some stodgy 19th Century physician no one's ever heard of. But that's just me.) I've had it for over 15 years, and for much of the time it hasn't been that big a deal, especially after my first DBS (that's Deep Brain Surgery; basically a pacemaker in the ol' noggin). Lately, though, after having it done again (each procedure takes care of one hemisphere, so the maximum number of operations is 2; the third one referred to on Neil's blog is a readjustment), I've had a lot of problems -- the biggest being my vocal chords atrophying. I haven't been able to speak coherently for 6 months, and while there are those who don't consider that a bad thing, it's damned inconvenient as far as I'm concerned.

So, anyway, I've decided to go public with it. I'll try to post regularly, but my typing speed is down from 90 words a minute to 90 words a day, if I'm lucky, so don't get your hopes too high.

(And just in case you're wondering -- no, this won't be totally about having PD. I'll talk about other things, too.)

More soon ...