Posts Tagged ‘spoiler’

At one point during The Avengers, I suddenly realize that here I am, in a big screen theater, full of people, watching a live action Thor and Iron Man fight. And it’s good.

Decades of comic book movies have brought us to this point: Where we can have high budget movies with A-list actors and directors bring our comics to the screen for the mass audience.

Sure, there have been some bumps along this road. But Marvel’s The Avengers paved over a lot of them.

Robert Downey Jr.’s Tony Stark and Gwyneth Paltrow’s Pepper Potts had more charisma in five minutes of screen time than in the previous two movies put together. (But why was she dressed like that?)

Chris Evans stopped being a boy in man’s clothes who didn’t emote (like how he was throughout the whole Captain America movie) and started being the take-charge man of principle that we all know he is.

The Hulk looked less like a cartoon, and more like a big, green Mark Ruffalo (This is a good thing). Ruffalo did a good job playing the conflicted Bruce Banner, and you could see in every scene that he’s trying to hold it together. I think Edward Norton could have done it well, too, but these things happen.

Black Widow was given something to do. Instead of just slinking around and kicking people, she was the brains of the operation in a way that Stark and Banner couldn’t be.

I should add here that I liked all of the previous movies, but The Avengers became the rug that really tied the room together.

Joss Whedon’s fingerprints were all over this thing. The bickering. The long stretches of dialogue. The humor.

There were times when a few characters are talking, then it switches to another scene where a few characters are talking, and then another. Compare that to the X-Men movies, where there’s a few minutes of dialogue and then someone is attacked. It was a welcome change, with all the testosterone flowing around, for people to have intelligent, character-revealing dialogue.

I’m very happy for Whedon. He helmed a very large, very expensive, and very high profile project and he did it well. However, I do NOT want him to direct any sequels. Whedon has a tendency to get too familiar with his characters, rendering villains harmless and heroes little more than people who just hang out together.

The plot was paper-thin, when compared to what Loki attempted in the Thor movie. But, this movie was all about bringing the heroes together, and there might not have been room for an overly elaborate villain plot. That’s debatable. The heroes spent almost as much time fighting each other. That may have been the plot, actually.

Loki was a bit too brutish with some of his combat. I don’t see him as the type to bring down helicopters with an energy weapon while riding on the back of a truck. He is the master of illusion. However, maybe his fight was just a ruse. As you see later, when he gets caught.

There was a hint of romantic subplot that may happen at some point, but there was no burden of forced romance when there are a bunch of big storylines running around.

Image

So, I’m very psyched for a sequel, although I have no idea how they’re going to top the villain they introduced (I saw it coming, for the record!) for the eventual part 3.

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For a parody to be successful, it has to be both good and first.

The official trailer for Men In Black III (shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=IyaFEBI_L24) went online two weeks ago. My animator sent me a link and asked what we could spoof about it. I had a script done in two days. Within two weeks of the trailer being online, my video is online (shown here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC-x0KkLjS0)

If you search “Men In Black 3 parody” in YouTube, my video is the first to come up. And it’s the only one that’s really relevant.

What I’m hoping by all this is that by being first to the party, I’ll get a head start on views. The script is good, and I especially love the ending. And the video is first, or at least among the first if I missed the others.

So, take a look at it, and let me know if it’s successful. Thanks!

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=zC-x0KkLjS0

 

When something as popular as Twilight invades pop culture the way it has, it’s not hard to write about it with at least a passing knowledge.

I recently wrote a parody of it for an animated sketch. Here’s the video. I hope you like it. But you should be warned there’s some disturbing footage in here:

cartoon parody

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ncjwZ2CJoTQ

When I wrote this parody, there were certain truths I kept to:

1. It’s about the characters. A lot of people rip on Twilight because of the drama. However, the drama is what drew fans to the series. Critics whine that vampires and werewolves should be more visceral, not lingering in love triangles. So I played on that.

My parody is about a Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn video game. So I made the first part of the gameplay about relationships, which I see as the strength (not the weakness) of the books.

2. Take it too far. Parodies work if you take it just far enough outside of the spectrum of what’s acceptable in the book’s real world. The second act of the video you’ll see just how far I pushed it.

3. Prey upon people’s preconceived notions. The interaction between Edward Cullen and Jacob at the end is based upon what pretty much every guy thinks Twilight is. It’s an easy joke, and I’m not proud.

4. End with a 180 degree change. The problem with some parodies is that they just keep doing the same joke over and over. So, I wanted to make sure the last thing my protagonist says is a surprise.

This is definitely one of those cases where I had already heard of the story, and that ruins the surprise. But I probably wouldn’t have been so eager to read it had I not known what the story was.

 

For spoilers sake, I’ll leave out as much as I can.

 

The book contains stories about all the different Scourges. If you’re like me, you thought there was just one. Honestly, they should have stopped at one.

 

The original Scourge was a vigilante who gunned down costumed villains. He didn’t just go after B- and C-listers. He actually went for Kraven and Hobgoblin, but they got away. The B- and C-listers like Miracle Man weren’t so lucky, probably because the writers saw less potential in them for future stories.

 

My biggest surprise was that the storyline crossed over into so many books. Often it was just one page. Villain shows up. Bang. Justice is served. The worst issue in the series was in The Thing, where Ben Grimm, Miracle Man and Scourge are all on the same bus.

 

The best issue in the series has him going after Hobgoblin in Spider-Man’s book. Flash Thompson was just unmasked as the Hobgoblin, even though it turns out to be a trick, so Spidey’s got to protect him from Scourge. These big crossovers tend to be awkward when they sprawl into other books, but this was a real strong way to tie in to the current Spider-Man story seamlessly.

 

Usually, when you read an older book, it’s a bit dated. Here, not too much felt old, surprisingly. I think the only thing that was glaring was that during this era Steve Rogers made his living as an artist drawing the Captain America comic book. Seriously. I don’t think this would have flown these days. Not with a character like Cap. If Peter Parker was an artist and not a photographer, then I definitely could see Marvel hiring him to draw Spider-Man. Then he’d have to draw Spidey being a bumbling fool or be told by his editor “You’re drawing him too muscular! Everyone knows Spider-man is a weakling!”

 

The entire storyline was very well done, and could have created a villain with a great future. But, the ending was perfect.

 

The later Scourge stories were less exciting. Once writer Mark Gruenwald said that there was a Scourge program, and that once one was defeated, another took his place, it started to get old. An organization like this is interesting. But I think an individual acting alone is much more interesting. The later stories tended to be retreads of the old story. I guess that’s the way it is with comics. If you like it once, they’ll try it again over and over until you don’t like it anymore. They played with the toy until it broke.

 

Several people took on the identity of Scourge over the years, mostly with the same motive. One notable stand-out was that Red Skull had hired someone to be a Scourge to take out his competition. Unfortunately, we don’t see much of this Scourge’s exploits in this book.

 

Also unfortunately, in the copy I read, the title on the cover and spine of the graphic novel read “SCOURGE of the underwolrd.” Nice job, Marvel editors. Still, it wasn’t as bad as an X-Men collection I read. There were character bios in the back, and they were completely unedited. There was actually a note from the editor to the writer (Write about this for 3 or 4 lines…) that went to print.

WHAT I LEARNED: If you’ve got a good story, know when to end it. I often retread the same thing over and over again. If it can be done once, why not again? Because it’s boring. That’s why not.

 

Abduction = Bourne Identity + The Face On The Milk Carton

Before Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows 2, there was a trailer for this movie called “Abduction.”

First of all, the minute I see Taylor Lautner, a) I already sign off on not seeing the movie and b) flagellate myself for knowing his name. (Maybe I’m being mean. I’m sure he’s a swell guy.)

As the trailer hints at the plot, and the girl shows him the age-progression photo, I think that’s not a bad little scene. Then I remember “The Face On The Milk Carton,” a story by Caroline B. Cooney about a kid who learns he’s been abducted.

But then, VIOLENCE!

Suddenly there’s shooting, and who do you trust? And he’s jumping around like he’s got spider-powers. And seriously, can we just get back to “I Know My Name Is Steven?”

Because what this looks like to me is that he’s been involved in some kind of super soldier program, genetically bred to be better than the rest of us, and kidnapped to be programmed, but maybe programmed for good rather than evil and instead of having any real emotional story it just descends into bullets and screaming and trailer scenes.

 

For my (sometimes offensive) humor videos, visit:

http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge?feature=mhee


I decided I didn’t want to watch Transformers 3. (Here’s why: https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2011/06/29/why-i-wont-see-transformers-3/)

But I’ve been reading reviews to determine if I’m making a mistake.

Here’s what they say:

It’s much better than Rise of the Fallen, but it still had plot holes.

Wheelie wasn’t as annoying, but they gave him a pet. A sidekick should never have his own sidekick.

Shockwave was cool. But he was only in it for a few minutes and was upstaged by the wormy thing that came out of his hand.

John Malkovich was a good actor, but he wrestled a robot.

Some of the new characters were interesting, but completely unnecessary.

So, it seems like the problems I had with the first two are still problems, and maybe I’m correct in skipping this one.

By the way, here’s a silly “live action/stop motion” version of what I think Transformers 3 should be:


By the way: My nephew also told me all about Transformers 3. This is his version:

“When the movie starts, Megatron is like king of Africa. He’s talking to an elephant.”

I’d like to coin a new phrase: Michael Baywatch: When beautiful people run through explosions in slow motion.

 

The Bad:

 

I watched Transformers: ROTF because I felt obligated. The G1 series informed so much of my childhood, I had to go. Granted, the 1980s cartoon movie, if watched at a distance, is pretty cheesy. My emotional connection to my childhood is what makes it my favorite movie.

The high point of the movie for me was the trailer for Harry Potter.

 

Just like the first one, the changes in Transformers are not what bothered me. At first, I was upset that they actually made Bumblebee cooler by turning him into a Camaro. But now, I’ve come to expect some changes.

What bothered me was poor scriptwriting, sloppy scifi, continuity problems, lack of plot, lack of character…

Basically, if it wasn’t a Transformers movie, I wouldn’t have watched it. Or cared enough to post about it.

 

A lot of people are saying to ignore the plot holes and just enjoy the fun ride. But Iron Man and Dark Knight showed us that you can have both: A whirlwind action-adventure thrill ride that has great characters and story.

Saying that “It’s just giant robots fighting, don’t expect much” insults Transformers.

Again, the cartoons I grew up with weren’t Shakespeare. But they had characters and stories.

I still think this movie, and the last one, are monster movies. Giant aliens with no discernible personality are trying to destroy the world. It ignores the fact that the best thing about the toys when I was a kid was that there were personalities. Example: G1 Swindle. Toy was decent but it was the personality that was great. Mirage. Wheeljack. I could go on and on.

In monster movies, a person gets about 3 lines of dialogue and is killed. They don’t have a character, they have one character trait. Sound like ROTF?

 

Roger Ebert’s review is very poignant. It’s where I grabbed the Iron Man and Dark Knight thing from. He also said how a child can hold a Transformer toy and use his imagination to craft wonderful stories. And that ROTF was certainly not the work of a vivid imagination.

 

Some questions:

-If the Allspark created all Transformer life, why does it only make evil robots?

-Why does it take a Matrix of Leadership to bring Prime back to life, but Megatron can just be rebuilt on the ocean floor?

-Why is Megatron such a putz? He shows up on Earth, gets frozen. Gets thawed out, killed by a fleshling. Wakes up again only to kowtow to some ancient Cybertronian. I want my villains better than this.

-During the first fight, a human died. They showed his coffin. Was he in the first movie? Was he supposed to be important?

-How is Optimus a descendant of the primes? Do they have babies?

-Was Ironhide British in the first one?

-How did the government scramble a huge attack force to come in what seemed like seconds?

 

When Megatron called to Starscream for help at the end of the movie, Starscream should have looked around to make sure no other Decepticons were looking, then said “I’ll tell the others you fought bravely.” Then killed Megatron. That one simple action would have changed a lot of my opinion about the movie.

 

This should have been a kids’ movie.

A Bot firing a crotch-mounted cannon; constant testicle jokes; dogs humping; a bunch of cursing; an impossible to ignore drug scene; John Turturro’s thong (OK, that part was kind of funny, but still). The ratings board must have been out for popcorn during some of this.

I would be mortified to have my nephews here. My daughter is 2 and loves Optimus Prime. (She calls him Op-pa!) I think, when she’s older, I’ll have her watch G1 but not the new movies. Kind of like how I’ll have her watch Star Wars Eps 4-6, not Eps 1-3.

 

It’s kind of bad when Turturro had to actually ask Jetfire what the plot is.

Plot derives conflict: Character A wants to do something, but Character B wants to stop that. To a degree, there was some of that. But what we got was “There’s some big thing we have to destroy before it blows up the sun.” When Hitchcock was asked to define a MacGuffin, he said the audience doesn’t care what it is, as long as it drives the story.

Iron Man had a MacGuffin in it, too, the rings that created his power-core-heart-thingy. And the first Batman had the microwave emitter. Dark Knight didn’t have a MacGuffin, and that’s why it was brilliant.

There was comic relief, but no comedy.

The difference is that comedy flows naturally out of the story or characters. Comic relief is injected, forced into a movie. A robot calling a human a “pussy,” for instance. Jetfire’s routine “My father was a wheel….” was hilarious. But it shouldn’t have been in the movie. A lot of the gags, like a robot humping a girl’s leg, should have been in the Scary Movie franchise instead.

 

About the Jar Jar Bots. Much has been made to say they were racist black stereotypes. I didn’t get that. I hated them, yes. But I thought they were rednecks. I didn’t see the correlation.

 

The Good:

I think I’m being overly critical, so I’ll talk about what I liked.

I think Sam and Mikaela are very charismatic. They’re not necessary to the movie. But they’re likable.

I enjoyed Sam’s parents (minus the drug scene.) I liked them in the first one, too.

 

Any fight scene with Prime was amazing. If he wasn’t there, it was kind of blah. But whether it was slo-mo or what, you could really see what the characters were doing. It was a lot of fun to watch those fights. The 3-on-1 where Prime died; his return to take on Megatron and the Fallen; even Jetfire vs. Scorponok; Bumblebee vs. Rampage and Ravage.

And Bumblebee is making up for lost time. He stopped getting his butt kicked and started kicking butt.

There was one point where Ironhide was hurting pretty badly. No incarnation of Ironhide has ever been my favorite, but I was actually sitting there hoping he wouldn’t die.

Megatron and Starscream playing the roles that we’re used to seeing.

Soundwave and Frank Welker’s voice. Soundwave was always one of my favorites. I was curious to see how they were going to use him. The satellite was an interesting idea.

Ravage. Another one of my favorites. Done very well, I think.

 

This is a version of Transformers 3 I made myself based on what I think the script should be:

 

 

Spider-Man got revamped before his time….

Dare I hope that the Transformers license can get relaunched?

The concept is solid: Giant robots that turn into things hiding among us fighting a secret war that quickly becomes not-so-secret. But instead of a movie full of plot holes and forgettable characters, can I hope instead for a reboot within the next ten years?

A movie where you actually care about the humans? And the robots? Where it’s a science fiction war drama, not a monster movie?

Hasbro has said that they have plans to keep the Transformers line in the public consciousness indefinitely. They’ve gone to great lengths to streamline the story and develop the core characters.

Perennial toy lines and constantly retooled cartoon shows are part of this. But how about a new movie trilogy? The animated Transformers movie came out in 1986. 30 years later, there was 1997’s live action movie. Would it be too much to ask to see another series by 2027? 16 years from now?

That works generation-wise. The kids in 1986 (me included) have kids now to show the movie to. The kids watching the Michael Bay movies now will have kids in 2027. And so forth forever.

In the immortal words of Simon Furman: “It never ends.”

 

By the way, here’s a silly “live action/stop motion” version of what I think Transformers 3 should be:

 

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ppG3ZtyIiJs

 

 

Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

I make silly videos and post them here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge

 

Even if you don’t like Thor, you will go see it because you want to know what’s happening in the Avengers movie.

This is a trick comic companies have been doing for years: You only buy Uncanny X-Men, but they want you to also buy X-Men, X-Factor, X-Force, Generation X, Astonishing X-Men, Wolverine and Dazzler. So, they parse the story up and put a page or two into every title, forcing you to buy it.

Now, just think of it as a multi-million dollar film deal. They want you to watch each one, so they put Samuel L. Jackson into all of them, and spread the storyline around a bit, and then you’re hooked.

That said, it was a good movie.

Acting was solid. Costumes. Sets (except the New Mexico town seemed like it was built in the literal middle of nowhere).

Loki’s plot was good. He had me guessing. And he was a well-rounded character, not what I’d expect. Also, I appreciate that his plot wasn’t a MacGuffin. He had a real motivation, and it was layered.

The only issue was there was a bit of a reality problem. Like I said in:

https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2010/08/25/super-hot-super-genius/

I just don’t buy the idea of a beautiful young single scientist who just so happens to be in the right place at the right time. Maybe there are hundreds of young, gorgeous scientists who are busy chasing storms, spelunking volcanoes and exploring ancient ruins. Anyway, half of the movie is in Asgard, which has a lot of digital animation. And the other half is on Earth, with this relationship that’s blossoming between a scary stranger and a brilliant scientist who turns into a 13-year-old schoolgirl every time the Thunder God smiles in her direction.

I asked my friend Michelle, one of the people I saw it with, if she thought it was too weird. She didn’t think so. My reason for asking is that most super hero movies to date have been pretty grounded. Ideas like mutants and radioactive spider powers introduced slowly and carefully. Then, we have the 9 realms, Asgardians, Destroyer, the Warriors Three, Heimdall (who kicked ass) and the Rainbow Bridge. And…wow…is this too much for people to swallow?

Granted, maybe this movie isn’t for grandma and grandpa. Unless your grandpa is Stan Lee.

It helped that Sif and the others were pretty one-dimensional to begin with. You’re not really going to get into the mind of Fandral or Volstagg. That’s OK. You got enough of them to know their motivations, and not to get them confused with other characters in armor.

It’s worth seeing, if you can suspend disbelief about gods and about awkward romance blooming. Especially if you want to see Avengers.

Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

I make silly videos and post them here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge

Hangover 2 trailer review

The Wolfpack is indeed back.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=RYL_T7f59o8

It’s strange that I’m excited about Hangover 2. It’s not my usual kind of movie. I’m a little late to the party. I only saw the first movie in April. So I already knew about Mike Tyson and some of the other gags. The first one had a great premise, and – as opposed to lots of movies – the payoff was just as good. The acting was pretty good, and I’m beginning to like Zach Galifianakis more each day. One day, I might just let him out of my basement.

I saw the trailer of Hangover 2 in front of Scream 4 (which I reviewed here: https://whatilearnedbywriting.wordpress.com/2011/04/24/scream-4-a-spoiler-free-writers-review/)

First off, I knew they were going to shoehorn in Mr. Chow, that annoying Asian gangster from the first one (Ken Jeong). This time, Stu’s getting married. Which means in part 3, it will have to be Galifianakis.

The trailer was strong in that it didn’t give anything away. Just little snippets and hints. Like the first scene after they wake up. Pieces of the puzzle.

The difficulty in making this movie is that it had to be bigger and crazier than the last, which is quite a feat.

So how does a writer make something that’s bigger and crazier? Some people have complained already that this movie has the same plot. Others have said “Who cares? It worked the first time.”

Really, this is not the type of movie that needs to reinvent itself. Maybe the key is to know your audience, and what their expectations are. And play with those expectations.

One criticism, and it’s a very minor one, is that I fear that too many of their issues might stem from some crazy sex or drug thing. A little too cliche. I’d like to see instead a bevy of strange things that happened the night before, but they should be strange without being just about sex and drugs.

Here’s the following things I want to see them wake up to in their hotel room:

$2,000 worth of Girl Scout Cookies.

A chocolate fountain, but it’s not filled with chocolate.

An alarm, slowly ticking down to something, but they haven’t figured out what yet.

A signature by a celebrity, and they’re trying to make it out. Maybe Ringo Starr signed Zach Galifianakis’ breast.

An empty gun.

One end of a 200-foot rope leading to….?

I actually don’t remember too much about the trailer. Fitting, I know. Perhaps they were trying to make you feel the anesthetic haze. Parts of it are blending with the trailer for the next installment of the Fast and the Furious. By the way, it shouldn’t have been called Flash Five. It should have been called Furious Five, and that way it could have starred Grandmaster Flash.

Disclaimer/background: I’m a traditionalist. I don’t think people should break rules of storytelling unless there’s a good reason. I write comic books, short fiction and children’s books. Just to put my comments in perspective, these are my interests and favorites: My favorite superhero is Spider-Man, and I also like Justice League and Batman. My favorite comic writers lately have been Kurt Busiek, Peter David, and Geoff Johns. I am a huge Transformers fan. In children’s books, I go either simple or meta: either really simple stories or books about stories. In movies and books, I am more impressed with something small that makes me feel something rather than something I’m told is a “must-read” or a must-see.”

I make silly videos and post them here:

http://www.youtube.com/user/verylittleknowledge