Monthly Archives: May 2012
Today is Thursday so I am looking at movies in various stages of production. Today I have a few spoilers about the movie Iron Man 3 which is currently shooting. Actor James Badge Dale will be playing the villain, Iron Patriot, which is an amalgam of Iron Man and Captain America. In the comics Iron Patriot is an alter ego of Norman Osborn who is also the Green Goblin in the Spider-Man series/franchise. In this move James Badge Dale will also be playing Eric Savin since SONY studios still holds the rights to the Green Goblin character. I doubt that Iron Patriot will be the main villain given that Academy Award winning actor Ben Kingsley has signed on to play the main villain.
I really enjoyed the first Iron Man movie immensely even though I was not a fan of the character while growing up and knew very little about him. Iron Man 2 is not really that bad it is just too busy with multiple plot lines and characters and in the end it is not as good as the first one. I am keeping my fingers crossed that they can capture the magic of the first one. Shane Black is the direct of this installment taking over from Jon Favreau who directed the previous two movies.
There was rumor floating around the internet that Benedict Cumberbatch was playing Star Trek’s iconic villain, Khan, in the Star Trek movie due out next summer. Yesterday, Simon Pegg, who plays Chief Engineer Montgomery Scott, in the new movie has reported that Cumberbatch is NOT playing Khan. There were even reports at one time that there is not going to be a conventional villain in this new movie.
I was open minded about Cumberbatch being Khan and thought he could pull it off. However, I must admit I am feeling a slight bit of relief that it isn’t true. Star Trek and the new Superman movie are the two movies I am looking forward to the most for next year. When Star Trek came out in 2009 there had been many rumors that proved false. So, I think I will take all rumors with a big grain of salt.
Today was supposed to be about reviewing new releases on DVD. While there is alist of movies coming out today there really isn’t anything on the list that I am interested in. So today I will share my review of Star Trek’s first pilot episode, The Cage, which I watched this weekend.
The lovely Susan Oliver as Vina.
This is the original unaired pilot for Star Trek. This episode was written by Star Trek creator Gene Roddenberry and directed by Robert Butler. NBC rejected the pilot episode in February 1965 calling it “too cerebral.” The network did see potential in the material and ordered another pilot episode, which resulted in the episode “Where No Man Has Gone Before.” Much original footage from “The Cage” was later incorporated into the first season two-part episode “The Menagerie.”
I fell in love with Star Trek when I was about 12 in 1975 and cable TV had just come to our little community in Upstate New York. I watched it on WPIX Channel 11 out of New York. I was instantly hooked.
Actor Jeffery Hunter was cast as Captain Christopher Pike of the USS Enterprise out on a deep space mission looking for survivors from a doomed expedition on the distant planet Talos IV. Instead of the heroic Captain Kirk of the series Captain Pike is burned out and experiencing a crisis of self doubt wondering if he made the right choice in becoming a star ship captain. Upon arrival on the planet surface, Pike, accompanied by members of the crew, including a more emotional Mr. Spock, played by Leonard Nimoy, finds that the survivors of the expedition were merely an illusion except for the vivacious and attractive Vina, played by actress Susan Oliver.
Enter the inhabitants of the planet, the Talosians, a humanoid race with giant pulsating bulbous heads that have the telepathic ability to create illusions within the mind that are as real to those experiencing the illusions as reality is to everyone else. The Talosians also have a menagerie where they house specimens from various parts of the galaxy and want to keep Captain Pike, along with Vina, as examples of the human species. While Spock and the rest of the crew try to rescue Pike from his captors the Talosians, along with Vina’s help, temp Pike to stay willingly by tempting his desires and the self doubts he has in his mind. As Pike angrily resists he soon learns that anger is an emotion that the Talosians cannot defend against and they reject Pike for their exhibit due to mankind’s anger and barbaric tendencies. When he is about to leave Pike requests that Vina accompany him only to learn that Vina is anchored to this planet and the Talosians because her beauty was only an illusion. Being the sole survivor of the doomed expedition the Talosians had never seen a human before and did not know how to repair her.
The show has many of the elements that we would come to know and appreciate about Star Trek. An intelligent and logical female first officer, called Number One, played by Majel Barrett the future Mrs Roddenberry, a wise old ship’s doctor, Dr. Phillip Boyce, played by John Hoyt. NBC wanted to get rid of many of the characters including the alien and Satanic looking Mr. Spock and the female first officer Number One (NBC didn’t think a female officer that was the second in command was realistic!). We also have the ship and the bridge (with different colors) and the transporter room and communicators are all in place. Although this would be the template for the original series and all that was to come under the banner of Star Trek this episode feels more in the spirit of Star Trek: The Next Generation than it does with the original series. The reason for that is the original series also was influenced by the work of producer Gene Coon who tempered Roddenberry’s more intellectual approach with more action and adventure. When Star Trek: The Next Generation came out in the late 1980s it was in syndication and without a network to appease Roddenberry’s more intellectual approach became more apparent.
According to the chronology of the Star Trek universe the events of the Cage take place thirteen years before the first season of Star Trek.
The long awaited sequel to the Men in Black franchise successfully defeated Avengers atop the box office over this Memorial Day weekend. Competing with Men in Black 3 was the thriller Chernobyl Diaries and Wes Anderson’s quirky Moonrise Kingdom. MIB3 pulled in $55,000,000.00 domestically and $132,000,000.00 at the foreign box office with a grand total of $187,000,000.00 worldwide. . Although certainly not a record breaker it is good news for a franchise whose last entry was ten years ago and wasn’t very well received by critics and fans alike. The Avengers came in second place with $36,987,000.00 for the weened increasing its overall domestic total to $513,672,000.00 and along with its $781,600,000.00 at the foreign box office for a grand total $1,295,272,000 world wide. Despite its second place finish the Avengers is still performing strongly.
I did not include Chernobyl Diaries or Moonrise Kingdom in my reviews of upcoming movies so I will include their trailers here today. They do look interesting and I may give them a view when they come out on DVD.
Since I take the weekends off and do not blog unless there is some breaking news, I thought today I would work on setting up a format or a schedule for this blog. My other Blog, European Royal History http://europeanroyalhistory.wordpress.com/, is set where I have a series of historical topics to write about along with current news. This blog is somewhat different. I do not want it to be all about movie reviews, past and present, I also want to look at other topics associated with being a bit of a nerd. 🙂
So here is the schedule that this blog will follow:
Science Fiction Blog
Monday ~ Box Office Updates
Tuesday ~ DVD releases. I will feature the newest science fiction/fantasy movies being released. I will also review the new movies I have seen and purchased.
Wednesday ~ Miscellaneous Nerd Day. This will be dependent on what I want to discuss.
Thursday ~ In Production. Movies that are in various stages of production.
Friday ~ Old Movie Review/Movie Release Day
Feedback to this list is welcomed. Is there anything any of my followers want to see that I have not included? Let me know!
Last week I reviewed the 1954/55 classic, Godzilla, King of the Monsters, which is a cut, Americanized and edited version of the 1954 Japanese original, Gojira (Godzilla). Today before I movie on to the next movie in the franchise I want to to review the original Japanese version.
Directed by Ishirō Honda and featuring the special effects by Eiji Tsuburaya, Gojira starred Akira Takarada, Momoko Kōchi, Akihiko Hirata and Takashi Shimura. It was an instant box office smash in Japan. Although many elements are similar to the American version the structure of the story is different. The film begins with the mysterious destruction of a couple of ships near Odo Island. When people come to investigate the occurrences they experience some type of attack at night during the height of a hurricane. Then the scientists arrive to study Odo island where they encounter a giant reptilian monster standing over the hill roaring at them before fleeing to the ocean.
The story also revolves around the human characters, such as the lead scientist Archeologist Kyohei Yamane, his daughter Emiko, who is engaged to her father’s colleague, Daisuke Serizawa, but is in love with a salvage ship captain, Hideto Ogata. A core scene and plot point of the movie is the break up of Emiko and Serizawa. Before she can break off her engagement to Dr. Serizawa he shares with Emiko his secret weapon he invented, a device which can destroy oxygen in water. After witnessing the horror and the destruction that this device can do to living things Serizawa has Emiko swear to reveal his secret to no one.
Amidst these interpersonal relationships Godzilla begins to attack Tokyo and with each attack being more destructive than the last. Emiko is overcome with grief as she views the destruction Godzilla has brought to her city and nation. She also nurses a her wounded boyfriend, Ogata, who survived Godzilla’s rampage. With the government unable to defeat Godzilla and fearing more death and carnage Emiko betrays Dr. Serizawa and reveals his secret of the Oxygen Destroyer. At first Serizawa refuses to use his weapon. After being convinced of the wisdom of using the weapon Serizawa burns the research papers.
The Japanese Navy brings Ogata and Serizawa to Tokyo Bay to use the weapon to destroy Godzilla. Once the weapon is deployed and Godzilla writhes in agony and is dieing Serizawa cuts the chord to his oxygen tank to sacrifice himself so that the secret of his weapon dies with him. Emiko and Ogata witness the demise of both Serizawa and Godzilla yet there is no comfort in their victory due to the loss of Serizawa coupled with the awareness that the atomic age has released forces that may strike again.
For myself both the original Japanese version and the adapted American version are equally good movies. There is a somberness to the tone of the film and an urgency along with despair and helplessness that would never be repeated in the franchise again. As Godzilla evolved into a more child friendly franchise Toho studios did not attempt to recreate the seriousness of this first film for many years. Once they did try to a more serious attempts at a Godzilla movie in the late 80s and beyond they could never achieve the the same mood and tone this one set. One of the reasons, in my opinion, that the later movies failed to recreate the same mood is that all Godzilla movies has Godzilla fighting another monster (except the 1984 reboot) and those rampages by the big guy seem more motivated toward defeating a threat by another monster than Godzilla being a threat himself. In the original movie Godzilla was something mankind had brought upon himself and was reaping what he sowed. That was not the message in these later films. I also think the black and white cinematography and the distinctive musical score by Akira Ifukube also helped set the mood. When Toho begins to make Godzilla movies once again, or if the planned American movie gets made, I hope they take lessons from the one that started it all.
I have posted about movies that are coming out this year and next so today I want to mention some movies that are still in development phase. Being in development does not mean the film will see the light of day. There is a place called Development Hell where film ideas can languish for years and even decades before they get made. Sadly, some films never leave Development Hell.
One movie that is in development now and was supposed to have been released this year was a new American made Godzilla movie. There was an American Godzilla movie produced by Sony Pictures and directed by Roland Emmerich and producer Dean Devlin (Independence Day) which did not do as well as expected at the box office. Although I enjoyed the 1998 American Godzilla movie many did not and the rights reverted back to Toho Studios and no sequels were ever made.
In 2010 Legendary Pictures acquired the rights from Toho Studio to make another American made Godzilla film, with a release date of 2012. The project was to be co-produced with Warner Bros., and Legendary has stressed that their film would have no association with the 1998 Godzilla that their film would be a complete reboot to the franchise.
Legendary Pictures has stated that conceptual artwork for Godzilla that would be consistent with the Japanese design of the monster is being pursued. In January of 2011 it was announced that Gareth Edwards, who directed Monsters, was hired to direct the new Godzilla film. Edwards, who is a Godzilla fan himself, has mentioned he will give this movie a new feel consistent with the character and would not share the tone and feel of the 1998 fiasco. What has transpired thus far is that David Callaham’s first draft of a script was rejected and in November of last year (2011) Max Borenstein was hired to adapt a story outline by David Goyer to be turned into a script.
From the sources I have this new Godzilla movie is being pushed back until 2014. I have heard nothing else about this movie and hope it is not languishing and suffering eternally in Development Hell.
Another movie that is in Development Hell is a sequel to Cloverfield. Director Matt Reeves, Producer JJ. Abrams, and writer Drew Goddard have been saying they want to do a sequel but nothing has really happened in this direction. The reasons given by the three is a lack of a coherent direction for the sequel and the inability to have the time to get together to work on this project. I really would love to see a sequel to Cloverfield but I am certainly not holding my breath waiting.
This is a large topic and I think I will dedicate Thursdays to examining science fiction and fantasy movies that are in development.
G.I. Joe: Retaliation
Initially this move was going to be released next month on June 29, 2012 but now it is being pushed back to March 29, 2013 in order for it to be converted to 3D in post production. I’m bummed. I don’t care for 3D and I was looking forward to this!
The Great Gatsby. Based on the F. Scott Fitzgerald novel that takes place in Long Island and New York City in the summer of 1922. Starring Leonardo DiCaprio, Tobey Maguire and Isla Fisher.
I mentioned this movie in a blog post a couple of days ago. Late yesterday the first trailer was released. Technically this is not a science fiction or fantasy movie but I also am into history and I love period piece movies, movies that take place in other times than our current time period and the closer to the 19th century the better. This is a classic story and if the trailer is any indication then it looks like it will be a very good filmed version of this story. I truly think this trailer shows that the movie has vividly captured life in the Jazz Age, the Roaring 20s and brought them to life.
The movie will be in theaters Christmas Day, 2012.