Pith Helmet

John Carter, Warlord of Pixar
June 20, 2008, 9:46 am
Filed under: Gaming, Movies

Like every parent of every child born in 21st century America, I have seen almost every Pixar movie to come down the pipe. I’ve found Nemo, raced with Lightning McQueen, and followed a plucky group of rice farmers ants as they hire a band of samurai an insect circus troupe to defend their village hill against roving bandits grasshoppers. I have enjoyed them all. But now, according to The Pixar Blog, Andrew Stanton is writing the script for “John Carter of Mars.”

*Insert fannish squee from geekparents everywhere here*

The Pixar Blog‘s MB1000 posted the following back on June 6:

Stanton: “I am writing John Carter of Mars right now.”

[ h/t io9 ]

Unclebear’s Appealing Idea
In his post yesterday titled “How I’d Do Risus D&D,” Uncle Bear offered the following idea:

For spells, you can pick spell names and effects out of a D&D book of any edition, or, to be more creative, invent spells on the fly. For authentic flavor made-up spells should be named using the Name-Adjective-Noun(ish) format. “Cure Light Wounds” is boring; I always wanted to cast something like Garbledor’s Astonishing Recovery. Fireball? Feh. Try Faldoron’s Spectacular Holocaust.

I never played magic-users for more than a single adventure, but I always thought that casting Bigby’s Crushing Fist or Drawmij’s Instant Summons sounded much cooler than casting the generic Magic Missle. However, I will say that while Rary’s Mnemonic Enhancer has much more flair than a plain old Fireball, it doesn’t do squat for you in a pinch when your party gets bushwhacked by a band of frost giants.

[ h/t Uncle Bear ]


M. Night Shymalan’s “The Happening” Ain’t
June 14, 2008, 4:44 am
Filed under: Movies

In M. Night Shamalamdingdong’s latest film The Happening, a mysterious outbreak strikes the northeastern United States. However, this is no ordinary outbreak. No monkey-borne Motaba virus. No Trioxin-tainted zombies. Rather than cracking each other’s heads open and feast on the goo inside, victims of The Happening become disoriented then proceed to kill themselves by whatever means necessary. Some leap from tall buildings in a single bound (giving new meaning to the old Weather Girls single “It’s Raining Men”). One group plays Russian Roulette with an automatic pistol. Then there are lions, and hairpins, and mowers (oh my!). Science teacher Marky Mark spends the entire film trying to figure out the cause of the en masse suicides when the answer is really quite simple.

What would cause that many people to kill themselves with such complete abandon? The realization that one spent nine bucks a ticket to see this cinematic trainwreck. Were William McGonagall alive today, I am certain he would immortalize this film in verse.

My loathing for this film is such that one may think that I have an axe to grind with Mr. Shyamalan. Nothing could be further from the truth. I’ve long considered myself a fan of his work. I liked The Village. I loved The Sixth Sense. And Unbreakable was one of my favorite films in 2000. I find his ability to translate the magical into the modern via storytelling and cinematography a refreshing delight in an overly CGI-dependent Hollywood. Not since Rod Serling’s right ring finger typed out its last period has there been a screenwriter who so mastered the art of plot twisting. Shyamalan’s mastery of the surreal even shines through in this muddle cloud.

Unfortunately, these talents which carried movies like The Sixth Sense and Unbreakable straight to the winner’s circle carry this film straight into the realm of bad 80’s horror cinema. Mark Wahlberg, who impressed me by his performances in such films as Fear, The Basketball Diaries, and even in Tim Burton’s superfluous blasphemous remake of Planet of The Apes, was just plain dead in this movie. Perhaps suicidal ideations weren’t the only contagion in this movie. Perhaps Wahlberg was infected by Zooey Deschannel’s trademark cardboardedness. As always, her performance was as awkward as Jo Polnachek in a pair of stiletto heels after tossing back shots of Jagermeister at the Eastland Academy Class of ’83 reunion. Even John Leguizamo’s performance had a terminal case of the lacklusters. In fact, one of the most lifelike characters in the film, Private Auster (played by Jeremy Strong) was nothing more than a rehash of the airman in the “Sideshow Bob’s Last Gleaming” of The Simpsons.

Perhaps the best advice I can give to anyone stepping into the theater to watch this movie is to pass along the advice that Mrs. Jones (played by Betty Buckley, whom you may remember as the stepmom on Eight Is Enough) gives to Marky Mark’s character in the film: “Get out!”

Weekend at Indy’s
May 20, 2008, 2:45 am
Filed under: Movies | Tags:

With the impending arrival of Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull, I’m just as filled to the brim with eager child-like anticipation as the next Indiana Jones fan, but, given Harrison Ford’s age, one has to wonder if we are getting a bit to close to this:


“What We Have Hear Is A Total Lack of Respect for Shariah Law”
April 5, 2008, 12:45 pm
Filed under: Movies | Tags:

Perhaps it’s the idea of Madonna remaking Casablanca, or it could be that I’ve been listening to Rachid Taha and Jerry Reed in the same playlist, but whatever it is, it has given me the inspiration for a remake of another classic movie, reset in modern day, war-torn Iraq. The film: Smokey and The Bandit.

The remake could still center on truck drivers Bo “Bandit” Darville and his partner Cletus “Snowman” Snow. As a Basset Hound owner, I, of course, would be dismayed if they didn’t include Fred. But rather than hauling a cargo of 400 cases of contraband Coors from Texarkana to Atlanta, they could haul oil for KBR-Halliburton. The Snowman would still drive the semi (this time full of full of “Texas Tea” instead of beer), with the Bandit still driving the “blocker” car, a decoy to distract rogue militiamen away from the Snowman and his shipment.

Rather than “Smokey” referring to state troopers, it could refer to the head the pursuing Sunni insurgents who is seen in every seen puffing on a hookah. Instead of Sheriff Buford T. Justice, he could be Sharif (something) T. Jihad.

Bandit could still pick up a runaway bride along the way, only this time she would be wearing a burkha instead of a wedding dress and bridal veil.

There could still be high-speed chases, but the ’76 Pontiac LeMans with which the sheriff/sharif pursues our heroes would have to be replaced with a Toyota truck loaded down with RPG and AK-wielding militiamen. It could still fall apart piece-by-piece as it is subjected to car-crash-after-car-crash as the Sharif and his henchmen attempt to deter Bandit and the Snowman from their appointed rounds.

Recommended Reading

  • Cindy in Iraq: A Civilian’s Year in the War Zone by Cynthia I. Morgan

  • … the right of the Legos to keep and bear Arms, shall not be infringed.
    April 5, 2008, 9:31 am
    Filed under: Movies | Tags:

    h/t Turk Chief

    Whether your Legos are engaged in a secret mission for the Kaiser, bus’in’ a cap in some Slob, or mobilizing for a jihad, they can now be armed appropriately thanks to those Basil Zaharoffs of the Lego world, the fine people at Brick Arms.

    Desperately Seeking Fatwa

    Madonna wants to remake Casablanca. Not even those whose acting talents far exceed Madonna’s, such as Peter Paul and David Paul, should try to retell a story that has already been told flawlessly. If that weren’t bad enough, she wants to set it in modern-day, war-torn Iraq.

    Furthermore, to make matters worse, Madonna, who is pushing fifty, wants to play Ilsa Lund, the role played by Ingrid Bergman when she was in her twenties.

    Perhaps if someone threatensto let Taylor Hicks remake Like A Virgin, she’ll back off.

    [ Sympatico / MSN ]

    Daily Cossack
    February 19, 2008, 12:01 pm
    Filed under: History, Movies | Tags: ,

    h/t Mark Copplestone

    There are a couple of Russian trailers/teasers around on Youtube that you might find interesting:

    `Admiral Kolchay` forthcoming epic – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IESTueKuCDk&NR=1

    `Nine Lives of Nestor Makhno` miniseries – http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=1VzkYk_MoC0

    Also worth looking at www.memocast.com where you watch low-res Russian epics (like Chapaev or The Quiet Don) streamed for free or available as higher-res pay downloads (though I haven`t tried that yet).

    There are pics of some interesting (and apparently original) RCW flags on this militaria site – http://www.forvalor.com/DougD/flags.htm – and some interesting uniforms on the Pre-1935 page.

    The Magnificent Seven Go To Burma
    January 19, 2008, 3:55 pm
    Filed under: Movies | Tags:

    Sylvester Stallone appeared (by phone) on Friday’s Glenn Beck Show discussing the new Rambo movie.

    You know, it’s really am an act of attrition. Nobody wanted to make Rambo just like nobody wanted to make Rocky because the whole business paradigm has changed so much that it’s all about use films and concept films and Rambo‘s considered low concept compared to what’s happening today. And luckily there is a man named Javy Lerner of New Image Films, said “Let’s give it a shot.” I said we’ve got to find something pertinent to write about. So I wrote a story about Mexico and MS-13 and let’s go into that area. I thought that would be kind of intriguing like a modern day western. I thought that’s a little too close to home and I don’t know if that’s going to be around the world. So then I called Soldier of Fortune magazine and certain individuals and said where is the most egregious display of human right violations on the planet? They said, Burma, and no one knows about it because the Chinese and the Burmese spend millions of dollars a year with Washington and lobbyists to suppress what’s going on. So I investigated and it almost simplified it. It’s like The Magnificent Seven. You have a group of small peasant being overwhelmed by the second largest Army in the Far East and they’ve held on for 60 years, Glenn, and they are hanging on by their nails and they have these missionaries, these Christian workers, from Oklahoma, Chicago, bus drivers, policemen, they pool their money together, they go and they bring medicine and Bibles and I thought, I could create a story around this, of Rambo being this atheist and he’s a boatman going up and down the river and he’s the only way they can get into Burma down the river and then the adventure begins. His story begins, a man completely pessimistic about a man who spent his entire life up to his waist in blood and realizes war is natural; peace is an accident.

    Magnificent Seven? I doubt very much it’ll be John Sturges, and it certainly won’t be Kurosawa, but the whole Burma story and the comparison to the Magnificent Seven/Seven Samurai peasants may have just sold me my very first ticket to a Rambo movie.

    However, rather than comparing the new Rambo to either of those films, Beck compared Stallone’s synopsis to another classic:

    I don’t know — I don’t mean this in a bad way. It’s almost like Father Goose. I kind of got the Cary Grant image of, jeez, you’re on the boat and you are kind of going and you’re going against your will. Kind of?

    Licorice Nazgul

    (I forget for whom the hat tips)

    And people say I have to much time on my hands. Oh yeah, at least I never had the time to build a diorama of the Battle of Pelennor Fields from The Return of The King using nothing but candy.