Mar 192012
 

Johnny here is trying to figure out how to get his soul back from Burton.

March 19, 2012

I was excited when I heard Dark Shadows was going to get a movie adaptation. First of all, it was being directed by Tim Burton. Second of all, it starred Johnny Depp, though that’s kind of a given at this point. Burton and Depp did a great job adapting Sleepy Hollow, one of the great horror comedies of all time as far as I’m concerned. Burton has a good track record (even considering Alice in Wonderland) and he has a style that would lend itself to the campy soap opera.

And then I saw the trailer. If you missed it in the last article, here it is. Keep a tissue handy. You may cry like I did.

Yeah…

I’ll admit I’ve never seen Dark Shadows. I wish I had. It was one of those shows that had a good amount of camp to it but managed to hold its own despite a hectic schedule and soap opera storylines. The fact that it’s still watched and talked about today makes me think it’s something to put on my Netflix queue. In fact, two of my favorite shows, Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Angel could be seen as spiritual successors to some of the things Dark Shadows started, namely using supernatural themes

But this?

I’m getting flashbacks to Alice in Wonderland. I love Burton’s style. It’s like a child’s fantasy on acid. My on artwork was influenced by the darks and playfulness and the way something cute might become something horrific at any moment. Lots of black, lots of white, a little gray, and let the creepiness do the rest. Burton, though, seems to be forgetting the lesson he learned from Sleep Hollow.

If you change something, it better be to make the end product superior.


Sleepy Hollow by ~Mize-meow on deviantART

Sure, the old series was full of little mistakes and the production could have used some polishing, but at least it tried. Now, instead of a drama, we’ve got what looks like a fish out of temporal water story. We’ve already got the same tired joke of the visitor from the past getting freaked out by television and the very unfunny mix-ups with modern slang. So far, I haven’t seen anything that tells me this will build on the original series’ legacy or form. There’s nothing groundbreaking about it.

Maybe I’m wrong. I hope so. Alice in Wonderland was an atrocity. This looks no better. Next thing you know, someone will take Quantum Leap and make it into a zany buddy comedy starring Ashton Kutcher and Jack Black. Ooh! How about we bring back Law and Order but make it a musical comedy starring Zac Effron as Lennie Briscoe?

Hollywood, cut it out before we, the fans, decide to pool our resources and invest in a neutron bomb.

And to clean out the broken dreams, here is every episode of Itchy and Scratchy, all in one place.

Sep 062011
 

Not shown? Restraint and humility.

September 6, 2011

George Lucas is unstoppable. Despite the fan outcries, he will continue to make changes to the Star Wars saga, possibly until his dying breath when he finally just superimposes his face on everyone. He’s already making little changes, like Ewoks blinking, to the big changes, like Vader repeating the oft-mocked “NOOOOO!” from Revenge of the Sith and changing puppet Yoda with digi-Yoda.

But if Lucas is hell-bent on continually tweaking his greatest work, and the love of millions of people world-wide, let’s make the changes mean something.

1) The Great Gungan Genocide

No fictional creature has inspired more hatred in my heart than Jar Jar Binks. He and his entire species of Muppet rejects took a movie that was already at the bottom of the barrel and slammed it nose-first into the bedrock.

Let’s remove every Gungan in the films. They add nothing. Jar Jar is supposed to be comic relief and comes across as a barely-restrained minstrel show. The entire Gungan race could be removed from The Phantom Menace and replaced with generic Naboo troops and we would gain some traction instead of having Jar Jar slip on the preverbal banana peel every five minutes he’s on-screen.

And don’t tell me Lucas can’t do it. He can create armies of droids and the planet Coruscant in its full glory. He can get rid of the annoying frog-people.


A Geico and a Gungan by ~Roswell619 on deviantART

2) Less is More… Sometimes

Nothing says good writing like “show, don’t tell.” In The Empire Strikes Back, Yoda doesn’t say he’s some great warrior. He doesn’t boast. He lifts a flipping X-Wing with his MIND!

We don’t need monologues to tell us Naboo is in trouble. We don’t need people to tell us how they feel. That makes me angry! If Lucas had allowed, like in previous works, for a little improvisation on the part of the actors, a lot of the wooden dialogue and performances could have been avoided. These aren’t bad actors. Natalie Portman won an Oscar for playing a schizophrenic ballerina. Ewan McGregor has BAFTA Scotland acting awards and a list of nominations that would be the envy of any actor. Liam Neeson is… well, he’s freakin’ Liam Neeson!

The audience is NOT dumb. We can SEE the action. We can READ faces. If brevity is the soul of wit, the prequels have not a soul but an ethereal vacuum that eats spirits.

3) Harrison Ford Justice

This one is not a change so much as a reversion.

Han shot first. Han is established to be a two-timing scoundrel who really is in it for the money. Han grows to become a general in the Rebel Alliance and ends up with the girl, eventually starting a family that includes three Jedi (not counting his wife, and let’s ignore that one kid, well, had a little of his grandfather in him.)

All of that gets undone if Han doesn’t shoot first.

First of all, it’s a crappy effect. Han looks like Stretch Armstrong. Second of all, for decades, he was the guy who showed he was willing to kill to escape any situation. Greedo may not have shot him there and then. Han just assumed.

Let’s give Han his balls back, please.


Han Shot First by ~Ticiano on deviantART

4) Daddy was a Dick

The final scene showing Anakin, Obi-Wan, and Yoda as Force ghosts was a defining moment for Darth Vader. He had fully cast aside the teachings of the Sith. He killed his master and saved the son he had, just minutes before, been ready to kill. Anakin Skywalker achieved a measure of redemption and became what he should have become: a servant of the Force.

Now, we have Hayden Christensen douching it up.

Why?

Sure, people can justify it by saying that Christensen’s appearance is what Vader looked like before falling to the Dark side, that his physical appearance was nothing more than the ravages of time and battle.

Crap.

This is the best example of Lucas taking away actors, effects, and, in general, the work of other men and women who made his films what they are. Yes, Lucas owns the rights to the franchise, but it’s outright rude to get rid of the hard work others put into creating his vision.

5) Jabba’s Had Some Work Done

Industrial Light and Magic has some of the most talented visual effects artists on the planet. They have enough hardware and software that I’m convinced they could re-create the Matrix. They helped pioneer the field of digital effects…

So why can’t they make Jabba the Hutt look like Jabba the Hutt?

I mean, look at him in the DVD edition. Even in the screenshots of the new edition, Jabba looks like some generic Hutt, like the animators had a vague idea of what he was supposed to look like. I’ll buy that he gained weight between the films until he was the puss-sack from Return of the Jedi… but come on!

Overall, I have many words on the obsession with re-editing and adding, and changing, and altering tiny things, but that’s for another article. Right now, I’m trying to fight my inner nerd, who really wants to see these films, and my inner writer, that wants to throttle Lucas.

However, there is ONE change that might make the saga cool, or at least so utterly ridiculous I’d watch it. Behold!