Rebooting ‘Buffy’ without Joss Whedon is probably a bad idea.

23 11 2010

This reboot is dead to us.

You’ve probably heard: Joss Whedon’s cult movie (which spawned the popular television show), Buffy the Vampire Slayer, is getting a new reboot—and Joss isn’t invited to the party.

The official press release says, “Atlas’ Charles Roven and Steve Alexander will produce the feature film alongside Doug Davison and Roy Lee of Vertigo Entertainment (The Ring, How to Train Your Dragon, The Departed). Whit Anderson is writing the script. Warner Bros. Pictures optioned the rights from creators Fran and Kaz Kuzui, and from Sandollar Productions (Sandy Gallin and Dolly Parton), for Atlas and Vertigo to produce.”

It seems only the movie, not the television show, is available to reboot. I’m hoping that means that Xander, Willow, Giles, Spike, Angel, and the rest are safe, but there are very few details available right now. The movie’s release is slated for 2011 or 2012, so more information should be forthcoming.

I’ve been reading articles all over the Internet, and the general response among Buffy fans is overwhelmingly negative. Whedon himself has a dedicated following, and he isn’t behind the reboot idea either: “I always hoped that Buffy would live on even after my death. But, you know, AFTER. I don’t love the idea of my creation in other hands,” he said.

David Boreanaz reacts to the news.

“There is an active fan base eagerly awaiting this character’s return,” said producer Charles Roven. Too bad for him: we want Whedon’s character, not Whit Anderson’s. It looks to me like WB is grossly overestimating the movie’s potential fan base, since dedicated Whedon fans are already bowing out—and not gracefully or quietly.

This out-of-canon movie reboot is looking like the new Star Trek (you know, the Chris Pine/Zachary Quinto one) for Buffy fans, and we’re dreading it from the start. And if this gets in the way of WB following through on theVeronica Mars movie, which fans and the actors and the creator DO want, I will be very pissed off.

What do you think, guys? Does the idea of a reboot bother you, or are you okay with it? Would you ever see this movie, even if the new cast rocks?

Grave stone image credit: Dr. Insano, a user on io9. The original screen shot from the show belongs to Fox.
DB image credit: Hart Hanson’s Twitter.





Finally, a ‘Veronica Mars’ movie?

10 11 2010

The fans are behind it. The actors are behind it. Rob Thomas is behind it.
It’s only Warner Bros. who isn’t behind it, since low ratings led to the TV show’s cancellation in 2007. But what WB has continually forgotten about is the people who discovered the show after it was off the air—including me.

It all started when a friend, who had purchased several copies of Veronica Mars season one to give as holiday gifts, discovered she had a few without intended recipients. She offered to send them to people who were seriously interested in watching the series, and I requested one. I received it in the mail and was hooked within episodes. But this was after the show was canceled. I’ve since watched the series through at least three times and recommended it to several friends.

Now, according to TV Series Finale, WB has set up an email account to collect messages from the fans who have been demanding a movie. There’s no way to tell whether or not they’re serious, but even Rob Thomas is hopeful and sending an email takes, what, ten seconds? So, if you’re one of many TV lovers who are dying for more Veronica, send emails or petitions to “VeronicaMarsMovie@warnerbros.com” (without the quotes). You’ll just get a form letter back, but it can’t hurt to try!

Dear Warner Bros.: I will pay to see a Veronica Mars movie in the theater.





‘Weeds’: The big reveal

9 11 2010

Here we are, less than a week from the season six finale. I had to stop and look up the news from September: Weeds was renewed, right? (Of course it was.) So, even though the preview for next week looks intense, Nancy will survive it.

I found myself really interested in Silas’s dilemma, and while I don’t want him to stay behind, I am glad that he found his real dad. This whole paternity kerfuffle is the kind of thing a show employs in its sixth season, so while it seems kind of random, I don’t mind it that much. Silas hasn’t ever fit in completely with the family, and he’s never been happy. It’s possible the writers planned this from the start, too. The father (who I called California Boy in my last post—I guess his name is Lars) seems pretty cool, at least, and not at all afraid of being a dad. I keep waiting for something bad to happen with him, though. Hunter Parrish should be on the show next season, though, so maybe none of the Botwins make it to Copenhagen. What would Nancy do there, anyway?

Doug is sadly pathetic. I’m glad Dana told him where to stick it, but I felt bad for him at the same time.

And I almost can’t believe Andy had someone chop a penis off of a cadaver. He’s pretty much my favorite character.

Maybe I missed it, but I’m not sure how the journalist, Vaughn, is connected to Esteban. Was that explained? Was Vaughn talking to Esteban when he said “I found her” at the end of the episode before this one? Either way, Nancy is sure in trouble.

Talk to you after next week’s finale!





Guest Blog: Syfy wins (and fails) with ‘Sharktopus’

9 11 2010

by Chris Imms

Before it became Syfy, the Sci-Fi Channel was known for making the worst science fiction movies ever. Such titles include Mansquito, Anonymous Rex, and Gargoyles: Wings of Darkness. When the Sci-Fi Channel changed its name, I thought it was the end of these movies that are so bad they become great. And indeed, since the switchover, the Syfy Saturday movies have been pretty weak. Until Sharktopus.

There are certain factors that make a bad B movie a great B movie. The first is a weak plot. In Sharktopus, a company named Blue Water creates an octopus/shark hybrid named S11. They tried to make other hybrids, like the Sharktowhale and the Octofish, and on the 11th try they created the Sharktopus. In traditional monster movie fashion the Sharktopus escapes, then travels to Puerto Vallarta, Mexico, and starts wreaking havoc. The Blue Water Corporation sends the hero, Andy Flynn, and some sidekicks to capture him.

The second thing a B movie needs is a combination of bad writing and bad acting. It should have such bad writing that you think a bunch of drunken lemurs with brain damage wrote it while high and on fire. Thankfully with lines like, “everyone, everyone, there is a killer octopus/shark hybrid heading this way, please leave the area now,” Sharktopus has bad writing in spades. But writing is only half of it—you need horrible acting as well. Half the people in this movie act like they were just pulled off the street, given lines, and filmed their scenes in one take, which may have happened. Plus, since the Sharktopus was CGI (more on that soon), these actors had to act with nothing there, making their bad acting even worse.

The worst acting in Sharktopus comes from the classic character actor Eric Roberts and movie lead Kerem Bursin. Eric Roberts plays the CEO of the Blue Water Corporation and wants the S11 captured—not killed—by any means necessary. Roberts may be the best actor of the bunch but says his lines like he is just doing it for a paycheck. In fact, in an interview with Attack of the Show!, he and his publicist stated that if they knew the writing was as bad as it was, he would never have been in this movie. But Eric Roberts’s lethargic acting does not compare to Kerem Bursin’s. Bursin plays Andy Flynn like the typical main character in a monster movie—no personality, he just wants to kill the monster. Bursin is the worst actor in this movie because of what he does with his clothes. Every time Andy gets mad or has to face the Sharktopus, he takes off his shirt. Friend gets killed, he takes off his shirt. Has to save a little kid, takes off his shirt. Fighting the final battle with the Sharktopus, the shirt comes off. After every shirtless scene, the shirt magically reappears on him to signal we are done with the important action scenes.

The third thing that makes a horrible B movie is bad special effects. The S11 just looked wrong. It had the head of a shark, the tentacles of an octopus, a beak protruding from its belly, and spikes coming from its gills. Instead of S11 they should have named it “overkill,” because that’s what it looked like. I think they ran out of money after creating the Sharktopus because at times he looks superimposed on the screen which makes his killing scenes all the more silly. There are over 20 deaths in this movie. If this film does anything right it is that it varies the types of death. There are bungee jump deaths, car deaths, yuppie boat-sinking deaths, best friend deaths, zip line deaths, hotel performer deaths, sun bathing deaths, camera man and hot reporter deaths, villain deaths. It’s like the writer had a dart board and just picked the type of death at random.

Sharktopus is one of the worst made-for-TV B movies I have ever seen. It has bad acting, bad monsters, bad killings, bad writing, and bad directing, but all that bad makes it good. I wanted to see the next killing. I wanted to see Kerem Bursin take off his shirt in anger. I wanted to see the spectacularly stupid ending (I won’t spoil it for you, but it has to do with a river and a computer password). I wanted Sharktopus to prove to me that the Syfy channel still has the magic to make a bad movie, and by golly, they have made the worst of them all. Thank you, Sharktopus, for making my Saturday that much better with your horribleness.

For Chris’s bio, see his first guest blog.





Guest Blog: ‘The Walking Dead’: a brain munchin’ good time

1 11 2010

by Eric Gray

Grimes, his ill-fated horse, and a street full of zombies.

I don’t read comic books. I can’t stand them really. Maybe I just don’t get the format, but it’s not really my thing. So, I’ve never read Kirkland’s work. But I did hear of it, and I followed the development of The Walking Dead television series closely. I was excited for the premiere, and I came away with a pretty clear statement: “That’s the best damn show I’ve ever seen.” And really, it was.

Another little thing about me, just so you can get some perspective about what I’m going to talk about. I’m a detail-oriented person. I notice the little things, and attention paid to the little things often define the line between something being “good” or “bad” in my eyes. Case in point, the new Star Trek movie? Bad on details, so subsequently I didn’t like it very much (for a buncha different reasons, but the detail was a killer). What about Terminator: Salvation? Loved it (although it seems like no one else—besides Jess—did), partially because the detail was there, down to minute stuff no one would ever recognize or think was important. But I saw it, and said to Jess, “Hey, you know that little so-and-so? That was in the third movie and they’re bringing it back here as a little tie in! Brilliant!” For me, The Walking Dead uses details to explosive effect. These choices make for a TV show like I’ve never seen on cable—never seen, period.

I’m going to skip plot for the most part, just because we don’t need it quite yet. The show just started, there wasn’t a lot of character development beyond meeting them, and we leave our hero, Rick Grimes, stuck in Atlanta, in a tank, covered with zombies. I am going to talk about the chances this show takes, and why it succeeds. First, the obvious: this show takes a BIG (honkin’ even) chance on violence. I’ve not quite seen violence like this on cable TV, ever. A couple of times, I had to remind myself that this wasn’t HBO or Showtime. Risks are taken from the very first scene, where we get a point blank shot to the head on a zombie kindergartner, complete with CGI bloodspray, splatter, and a ragged, oozing gunshot wound on the forehead. We both looked at each other and said, “this show just killed a kid, on screen, within the first five minutes, HOL-LEE SHIT….” This happened likewise with Bicycle Girl, the first real zombie Rick comes across. That was another one of those “holy crap, they just blew her brains out in an unbroken shot!” moments. Jess applauded the adultness of the show, but I’m actually curious as to why this ISN’T on Showtime or HBO.

On to the more subtle parts. The sound and visual design is pretty close to flawless. Shows don’t often like to be quiet, but The Walking Dead thrives on it. Background music (composed by Battlestar Galactica‘s Bear McCreary!) was used minimally, and more often, whole scenes played out in absolute silence, with only ambient noise. It was used effectively to add tension to scenes, and also really increased the impact of sound when it was used. The punctuation of a gunshot drives the point home; the shot is allowed to echo and reverb, making it just that much louder. Naturally, we get this to full effect when Rick fires off his gun inside the tank. Although the inclusion of the severe ring in the ears was a nice touch, I would imagine that ruptured ear drums would be more likely, as well as the very real danger of a ricochet.

No other show I’ve seen has taken such risks on filming, either. There were large stretches of the pilot where literally nothing happens, we’re left to just take in the whole vista of post-zombiepocalypse. The bleakness was apparent and frightening, especially when Rick wakes up in the hospital. The slight and occasional use of jump cuts adds a nice little distortion and sense of surrealism to the scene as well. I was glad to see that technique used to such an effect. Also, I’ve never seen a show choose to light a shot with just a single match, and allow the camera to plunge into complete darkness several times. The scene in the stairwell was by far the scariest part of the whole show. I want more of this in the coming weeks.

And finally, we have to talk about the zombies. We’ve seen the setup before, but that’s not really the point. It’s more about how it’s done. There’s a serious creep factor here. For instance, turning a corner in a deserted city and finding the street crammed from sidewalk to sidewalk with zombies? Yeah, that’s pretty damn scary. But viewers have to remember, this tale is not about zombies, it’s about the survivors. We have to look at this series as not redefining the zombie genre like 28 Days Later tried to do. Instead, this is a story of the human condition under extreme duress. The choice to make this a weekly series is a strong indicator in this regard. So, I would remind would-be detractors to hold off with their comments calling this “hackneyed” or “done before.” Yes, we have seen this premise before. No, we haven’t seen it quite like this.

The product of these various elements creates a television show that evokes the best that cinema has to offer. The Walking Dead is truly a cinematic experience—one I am glad to have seen, and one that I will continue to enjoy throughout its six-episode season.

Happy Halloween!





‘Weeds’: a biology lesson

27 10 2010

I’ve not covered several episodes of Weeds this month—October has been nuts! Nancy and the crew have purchased and traded an amusingly-painted RV, been run out of town, sold weed at a kids’ concert, been to a pediatrician, and continued to evade detection.

But Nancy made the mistake of returning to her home town, a place where people know her—and giving Shane and Silas a chance to snoop around. Is Judah Silas’s dad, or is it really Nancy’s California-boy high school sweetheart?

Yes, Silas, blonde hair can skip a generation. A quick lesson in genetics (skip this if you don’t care; it probably isn’t new to you): Blonde hair is the result of two recessive genes. Recessive genes aren’t expressed unless a person gets one from each parent. Silas is blonde, so he got one from Nancy and one from whomever his father is (Judah or California boy). Nancy is a brunette with a blonde kid, so she has one recessive blonde gene from one parent and one dominant brunette gene from the other. She passed her recessive blonde gene on to Silas but the dominant brunette gene to Shane (and Stevie). If Judah had blonde people in his family, he could have passed on a recessive gene and therefore fathered Silas. If not, daddy dearest is California boy. In short, two brunettes can have blonde kids if there are blonde genes in their heritage, but two blondes cannot have brunette kids.

To illustrate, we have Punnett squares on Post-It Notes.

Punnett square 1: Nancy and Judah, if Judah has a recessive gene (yes, I forgot to put the “B” on the top and “b” on the bottom on Judah’s side. Sorry about that.)

Punnett square 2: Nancy and California Boy

Punnett square 3: Nancy and Judah, if Judah does NOT have a recessive gene

You probably knew all of that—it’s pretty simple bio. Now Silas needs to learn it!

Anyway, the guy Nancy met in the cemetery is, of course, trouble. He’ll sic the FBI (or Esteban) on Nancy and the kids soon, but for now, let’s just ponder this new “Silas’s daddy” mystery, conveniently dropped into the plot because Weeds is running out of steam. The we’re-on-the-run-but-oh-no-someone-spotted-us storyline is tired and needs to nap until next Monday.

Richard Dreyfuss kind of rocks, even if his character is creepy.





’24’: The Jack Bauer Power Hour isn’t over yet!

27 10 2010

The 24 feature film is in development and set to be released in 2012, but fans just weren’t satisfied by the final moments before the clock ticked down in the series finale.

We got used to Jack Bauer’s routine. Each new season starts with him in hiding/returned from torture in China/just plain old sick of saving the damn day every damn time, then ends with him being done with CTU’s bullshit—until he’s needed again the next season. Season 8 was no exception. It ended with Jack on the run and Chloe, CTU’s new director, helping him escape.

Did you think she’d get away with it? The 24 cast and crew sure didn’t. There will be an epilogue in the season 8 DVD set called “Chloe’s Arrest,” where our favorite snarky, geeky CTU agent is interrogated for her role in Jack’s escape.

The DVD set will be available on December 14th. Hopefully, it’ll satisfy Bauer fans until the 2012 movie. I know I can always use a little more Jack in my life!