Tagged: prequel

Snarky Synopsis: “Original Sin” #0

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Original Sin #0. Written by Mark Waid. Art by Jim Cheung, Paco Medina, Mark Morales, Guillermo Ortego, Dave Meikis, Juan Vlasco, and Justin Ponsor.

It’s that time again. No, not when the swallows return from Capistrano. No, not when Dan DiDio polishes his head in the Shine-O-Ball-O. It’s epic-crossover time, kiddos! Marvelous Mark Waid puts his pen to paper for Original Sin #0, a cosmic odyssey that focuses on the supreme perv of the 616, The Watcher. Ole’ Uatu is destined for a possible dirt nap, and let’s just assume a ton of fallout will occur. But I’m getting ahead of myself. You’d clearly have known that… had you been an all powerful, big headed, poorly dressed voyeur. But you’re not, so you’re likely wanting to know how the prequel – such as it were – fares. If I were to bestow upon you a fair and just warning that a major cosmic event is about to occur? You’d be long dead before it comes up concerning this review.

Issue 0 of Original Sin anchors itself with the newest Nova of Earth, Sam Alexander. Waid is quick to establish his voice – cosmic Peter Parker. Simply put, it’s impossible to read through the issue and not be reminded by Marvel’s everyman. As Sam quips, zaps, and stumbles his way through the issue, every smirk that crept to my mouth was adjoined by the feeling I’d been there before. The plot, as it were, is as straight-forward as you might get. Nova, in between telling himself his life story (assuming he doesn’t know he’s a comic character), comes to a great and grand universal mystery: Why does the Watcher watch? This is opposed to Who Watches the Watchmen, which everyone knows already. So, with the innocence of a child, Sammy takes to the moon to ask Uatu if he watches Dateline: To Catch A Predator.

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REVIEW: The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug

THE_HOBBIT_THE_DESOLATION_OF_SMAUG_BLU-RAY_thumb_I first read The Hobbit back in high school, during the tail end of J.R.R. Tolkien’s renaissance, sparked by the Ballantine Books editions that first popped up in the 1960s. I later learned Tolkien wrote this as a children’s tale and when asked for a sequel went away for a decade and came up with the adult Lord of the Rings. A few thoughts come to mind starting with how far children’s literature has fallen since this debuted in 1937 so thinner and lesser works are now receiving acclaim.

msddrag-pa002-h-1It was lighter and sprightlier than its follow-up but in the hands of Peter Jackson, it has been uncomfortably shoe-horned into a cinematic continuity where it has struggled to find its way. In order to flesh things out, Jackson and his initial collaborator Guillermo Del Toro turned to the appendices to find supplemental story material, which worked out fine with the first trilogy. But the tone and approach to this children’s story has grown darker and certainly designed to act as a prequel trilogy to the more substantive LOTR. As a result, it’s almost impossible to judge the Hobbit films against the source material. The first, released in 2012, was maybe 60% from the novel and now The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, out on disc now from Warner Home Entertainment, is even less so.

the-desolation-of-smaugLooking at the second installment as a film and not an adaptation, it works wonderfully well, a stronger middle chapter, much as The Empire Strikes Back deepened the early Star Wars universe. Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) continues heading for the Lonely Mountain and its protector, the giant dragon Smaug. He is there to help the brotherhood of dwarves and honor his commitments, emboldened by the experiences in An Unexpected Journey. As is his wont, Gandalf (Ian McKellen) has gone off with Radagast the Brown (Sylvester McCoy), seeking to learn more of the dangers he senses, all prelude to the following trilogy.

The-Hobbit-The-Desolation-of-SmaugThis film is really less about our hobbit and far more about the coming of age, as it were, of Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage). While there are some thrills as they encounter Beorn (Mikael Persbrandt) and an army of giant spiders in Mirkwood, his major test comes when the band is captured by a darker, more malevolent elf Legolas (Orlando Bloom), accompanied by Tauriel (Evangeline Lilly). By inserting Legolas here feels odd since at no time in the LOTR trilogy does he comment at all about having met Bilbo since the notion hadn’t yet occurred to Jackson but bothered me. And while the diehard loyalists decry the whole cloth creation of a female elf, she works just fine for the purposes of the story. As the captured dwarves are delivered to Elvenking Thranduil (Lee Pace), we finally get to see Bilbo uses the One Ring to affect a nifty recuse. The characterization that both helped and bogged down the opening chapter is lessened here, which is keenly felt at times.

1881268230_1359899548Finally, our merry band arrives at Esgaroth, setting up the confrontation with the amazing CGI creation of Smaug, voiced perfectly by Benedict Cumberbatch. Just like that, 2:40 slide by and you’re left with a cliffhanger that had fans stunned last December. This is a far stronger film than the first and feels justified as part of a trilogy, avoiding the sag many middle films suffer from.

As expected, the film transfer is gorgeous and glorious to look at from the couch. The sound is equally strong so you’re in good hands here.

What you have to decide now is whether or not having this version is all you need or should you wait for the extended cut edition no doubt coming next fall. The current set comes with the film on Blu-ray and DVD along with an Ultraviolet copy plus a Blu-ray disc of extra features. You get Peter Jackson Invites You to Set (40:36), four Production Videos (36:41), Live Event: In the Cutting Room (37:52), New Zealand: Home of Middle-earth, Part 2 (7:11), and a Music Video for “I See Fire” by Ed Sheeran (5:42).

The Point Radio: The Twists And Turns On CRISIS

The new NBC thriller CRISIS is filled with twists and turns. So how does the cast keep up? We asked series regulars RACHEL TAYLOR and LANCE GROSS to fill us in, plus 24 gets a comic prequel and who is talking TV on Twitter?

THE POINT covers it 24/7! Take us ANYWHERE on ANY mobile device (Apple or Android). Just  get the free app, iNet Radio in The  iTunes App store – and it’s FREE!  The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE  – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

John Ostrander: Sequels and Prequels and Remakes, Oh My!

Fox Movies has announced the possibility of re-making the musical [[[West Side Story]]] because Steven Spielberg has evidently expressed an interest in doing so. A part of me, a large part of me, wonders if that’s a good idea. The original won ten Oscars and is considered a movie classic. So – why? Why do a remake? It might be different but will it be better? How likely is that?

It puts me in mind of Gus Van Sant’s shot by shot re-make of [[[Psycho]]]. Why did he bother other than as an artistic exercise? Why did the studio okay it? One of the justifications I heard is the younger generation won’t go to the original because it’s in black and white. Seriously? They can’t be that shallow.

At one point there was talk of doing a re-make of [[[Casablanca]]] as a film. That was fortuitously abandoned. There was a TV prequel to it in 1983 that lasted about a season. There was also a TV remake of Going My Way which starred Gene Kelly in the Bing Crosby role and Leo G. Carroll in the Barry Fitzgerald part. This one actually had a large impact on me; I was in the 8th grade at that point and it made me want to be a priest. My “vocation” lasted only a little longer than the series. But the TV series was my first experience with the material and so the TV series was always my “real” Going My Way.

Famously, there was the [[[Godfather]]] sequel that was better than the first film. Less fortunately, there was another sequel which was lesser than either of the previous two films. Likewise, the sequel to the first [[[Star Wars]]] film was, by most peoples’ account, the best film of the series while the third one was far from that. Then Lucas, in his supreme wisdom, went back and did a prequel to the original trilogy. The technology certainly was superior but the story – not so much. For myself, I wanted to know what happened next – which was the basis for the [[[Star Wars: Legacy]]] comic book series that Jan Duursema and I did. Disney, having bought the franchise, will do a bit of both – they’ll push on to Episode VII, set thirty years after [[[Return of the Jedi]]], but they’re also developing stand alone films about young Han Solo and young Boba Fett. So they’re looking forward and backwards. That could make you dizzy.

There’s nothing inherently wrong with a sequel, prequel or remake. It depends on the reason you’re making it and/or the story you have to tell. Sometimes you look at your earlier work and you see the flaws and think, “Man, I’d love another shot at that.” You feel you’re better at what you do, you’ve deepened as a person, you have more to bring to the material. The danger, of course, is that you could “improve” it to death.

Perhaps the remake is an existing property that you didn’t create. Me, I’d love a shot at [[[The Shadow]]]. Love it or hate it, Howard Chaykin achieved his own vision of the character when he took it on, as did Andy Helfer with artists Bill Sienkiewicz and Kyle Baker. Not traditional and perhaps neither were MY vision of the character but they were interesting and valid and reflected its creators.

I’ve done my own fair share of prequels, sequels, and remakes. Some have worked, some haven’t but in each case I tried to get down the essential concept of the book or character. My run on DC’s [[[Suicide Squad]]] was partly a continuation but mostly it was a re-make. The big question should always be – what story do I have to tell? Is it worth telling? Is it worth the reader’s time and money?

When you get right down to it, those are the same questions for any story you tell – new or remake. The story should always be its own justification.

Photo by nickstone333

Jen Krueger: Surviving the Fall

Krueger Art 130107When we last saw the BBC’s Sherlock Holmes, he watched from afar as John Watson beseeched, “Don’t be dead,” to a headstone bearing Sherlock’s name. Watson does this at the end of “The Reichenbach Fall” after seeing Sherlock seemingly leap to his demise, and I thought it bold of series creators Mark Gatiss and Steven Moffat to tackle this update of Arthur Conan Doyle’s “The Final Problem” in their second series. A faked death on a show is as logistically tricky as a real one, and if there’s one thing that almost always creates a make or break moment for a TV show, it’s dealing with a major character’s death.

For a lot of shows, it’s a break moment. Perhaps some of the problem comes from the fact that a character’s death is often prompted by an actor’s exit from the show. When Dan Stevens decided to leave Downton Abbey at the end of his three year contract, his character Matthew Crawley was killed in a car crash that struck me as a spiteful way to explain his forthcoming absence in series four. Aside from the fact that the crash itself didn’t look severe enough to be fatal (I mean, how fast was he going, 30 m.p.h.?), it also felt like an afterthought to the 2012 Christmas special, as if the episode had been scripted to end in the preceding scene and the death was tacked on once it was official Stevens wouldn’t re-up. This was particularly disappointing from a show that had so recently served up an amazing character death by killing off Sybil Crawley mid-season. Even if I hadn’t hated her character (we get it, you like irking daddy by playing blue-collar), I would still have been pleased with her demise because of the way it affected the other characters on the show. Watching her parents, sisters, and husband deal with their grief was more interesting than Sybil herself had ever been, yet asking viewers to watch the family hit the reset button at the top of series four to mourn Matthew is grating.

But perhaps worse than the character deaths that are forced are the ones I don’t believe even within the world of the show. When Peter Bishop stepped into the doomsday device at the end of season three of Fringe, I didn’t for a second buy him exiting the show. His character was too important, and the circumstances of his disappearance too obviously pointed to a return for me to believe I’d never see Peter on the show again, which seemed to be what the writers hoped I would assume. Instead, watching became a waiting game centered on his return, and one that wasn’t concluded quickly or satisfactorily enough to justify his unbelievable disappearance in the first place.

That’s not to say shows can’t kill important characters successfully. When Boardwalk Empire concluded its second season by offing Jimmy Darmody, the character who’d served as the audience’s entrance into the (under)world of the show, it was wonderfully stunning. Even though the drama had blossomed into a sizeable ensemble by the time Jimmy was eliminated, he was still the most frequent point of view character, which meant his death irrevocably changed the show’s direction. But Boardwalk Empire had managed to build to Jimmy’s death in such a way that it seemed inevitable, and created plot momentum that carried forward into even the most recent season finale.

Of course, the holy grail of TV character death is the surprise demise. Four episodes into its third season, Southland unceremoniously killed detective Nate Moretta on the job. The disturbingly quick and brutal death was shocking in and of itself, but it also demonstrated no character on the show was safe regardless of their rank, skill, or narrative importance. From that moment on, I watched Southland with my stomach in knots every time a character I liked was in peril because I truly didn’t know if they’d emerge from it unscathed, or at all.

Though the titular character of Sherlock didn’t actually die in the series two finale, his faked death was just as striking to me as the most successful of these actual TV character deaths. The charade has the same effect on Watson as the real thing would have, meaning the audience still gets the emotional payoff of a pivotal character death, while how Sherlock managed to pull it off is a mystery fans are as eager to solve as they are any of the eponymous detective’s cases. Which, of course, is precisely the point. American audiences will get their answers in the series three premiere on January 19, but having already seen it myself, I can say “The Empty Hearse” sated my curiosity and I’m very glad that, as this prequel minisode promises, #SherlockLives.

TUESDAY AFTERNOON: Michael Davis

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold

THURSDAY MORNING: Dennis O’Neil

 

Salmon Reviews First Fringe Novel!

OUT ON THE FRINGE
A Review of Christa Faust’s THE ZODIAC PARADOX
byAndrew Salmon
 
If you’re a Fringe fan like me, you’re probably feeling some withdrawal by now. So having the chance to dive into THE ZODIAC PARADOX by tie-in queen Christa Faust was welcome relief. But does the novel deliver? Read on.
 
 
The first thing readers should know is that the novel is a prequel with a capital P. It begins in 1968 and moves ahead into the 1970s so if you’re expecting Olivia and Peter to appear, then you’ll have to wait for the next two books inthe series. What you do get in the pages of THE ZODIAC PARADOX are healthy doses of Walter Bishop, William Bell and a smattering of Nina Sharp for some seasoning.
 
The novel kicks off with Walter and Bell performing their LSD experiments (which will ultimately culminate with the invention of Cortexiphan in the TV show) that result in their temporarily opening up a portal between universes. If you don’t know what any of the above means, then stop reading and get yourself some Fringe boxsets as you’ve got a lot of catching up to do. Still with  me? Okay. Now through this portal, a serial killer flees the police in the alternate universe and enters ours and immediately takes up here where he left off over there. This killer will come to be known as the Zodiac Killer. When Zodiac killings begin to resemble Walter’s and Bell’s remembered visions when the portal opened, they realize that they are responsible for unleashing this monster and must do something about it.
 
What follows is an engaging read that will satisfy Fringe fans and should please newcomers to the Fringe world. Faust can write and, although her other work tends to be gritty, intense and sexual, she knows how to rein that in for her tie-in work. If you’ve read her award-winning version of Snakes on a Plane (the best tie-in novel I’ve ever read), you know what I’m talking about.
 
Her characterizations are accurate and you find yourself hearing the actors’ voices as you read the lines. Walter, especially, is well drawn. Given John Noble’s unforgettable performance in the series, this comes as welcome relief. Yes, he’s not the focused, unfeeling monster portrayed in flashbacks on the show, but he has no reason to be. He’s young, brilliant, untouched by tragedy and yet, when the situation demands it, he will exhibit that iron will that will, ultimately, lead to his downfall and eventual redemption. Bell, too, comes across accurately. He’s the rock star of the group and his megalomania is hinted at here. Nina Sharp is a little farther along than the two leads. She’s focused, smart and her won’t take crap from anyone is balanced with her genuine empathy.
 
The action of the book is the only weak link here. Although most of the sequences are well thought out and exciting, these brilliant people often do stupid things, which I suppose can be explained by their being out of their depth. Two academically inclined youths, bookworms for lack of a better term, can’t be expected to act like Rambo and that’s as it should be. They are, however, geniuses, and their smarts occasionally go out the window. This is a minor nit-pick but it did take away from the reading experience a time or two.
 
So, should you read THE ZODIAC PARADOX? If you’re a fan of the show, definitely. There are insider nods throughout the book that will go unnoticed by newbies. And what about you newbies? Can you get anything out of the book? As a long-time fan of the show, it’s all but impossible for me to answer that question but I’ll give it a try. The answer is yes. The novel captures the genre smash-up that was the show. Using science and dimensional portals against a radiation-spewing killer from an alternate universe is what Fringe, the series, was all about and the novel should grab you right out of the gate.
 
I enjoyed THE ZODIAC PARADOXand am looking forward to Book 2 with a Olivia front and center. Fringe fans take note, the show lives on!

JEFF DEISCHER UNVEILS MYSTICO

Mystico the second volume of the Golden Age series by New Pulp Author Jeff Deischer is available at Createspace and Amazon. You can find it here. Jeff posted the first chapter here.

About Mystico:
THE QUEST FOR ULTIMATE POWER

The Golden Age Vol.1

1940: The Nazis are obsessed with mystical artifacts. Believing one was hidden in America centuries ago by the mysterious Knights Templar, the black wizard Nacht sends a party led by the sorcerer the Baron to find it.

Nacht is as much a mystery to the Nazi hierarchy as he is to the rest of the world. Claiming to be one of the Earth’s “secret masters”, he helped Hitler climb to power after the failed 1923 beer hall putsch, tutoring him in occult ways. He is aided in his quest by Reinhard Heydrich, the infamous “Hangman”, who now controls the dreaded Vril power, becoming Nietzsche’s Ubermensch.

In this exciting prequel to the groundbreaking The Golden Age, the Auric Universe’s mystical heroes must join forces to stop Nazi Germany from gaining one of the greatest prizes of all!

John Ostrander: Backwards or Forwards?

Ostrander Art 130324Bought and watched The Hobbit DVD when it came out. My Mary and I had watched the full IMAX version in the theater; it’s one of her favorite books. I’m pretty fond of it as well.

Enjoyed the movie again and look forward to the next installment. However, I had problems with it. Both the way that the story is being divided into three films and from some of the action sequences, it’s playing out as a prequel to the Lord Of The Rings films. The book The Hobbit is not a prequel; it’s a stand alone story that has some story elements in common with LOTR. In the film, however, it’s coming off very definitely as a prequel to the point, IMO, that the story is changed or even twisted a bit to make it fit that mold. Visuals such as the race through the Underground Kingdom of the Goblins was very reminiscent, visually, of the race through the Mines of Moria in LOTR. What was stunning and even surprising in the LOTR movies looks rehashed here.

Generally speaking, when I’m reading or watching a story, I want to know what happens next – if I want to know anything more at all. Some stories, like Casablanca, doesn’t need prequels or sequels (although a sequel was discussed early on for Casablanca and, fortunately, never worked out). With Star Wars, after the original trilogy was done, I was ready to see what happened next but George Lucas decided he wanted to tell what happened previously. I watched but it’s not what I wanted and a lot of the public was less than enthralled as well. It’s only now when Disney has assumed ownership of the whole shebang that Episode 7 – “and then what happened?” — is being prepared.

The prequel trilogy of Star Wars changes the thrust of the story. The original trilogy is about Luke Skywalker and his coming of age, learning who he is, and becoming the hero his father might have been. The prequel trilogy changes the arc of all six films; it becomes about Anakin Solo, his fall and his redemption. I liked it better when it was Luke’s story.

I don’t absolutely hate prequels; I’ve done them myself. The last two GrimJack arcs I’ve done have technically been prequels. I also did a four issue story on The Demon Wars in GJ and, in the back-up space, my late wife Kim Yale and I did a story of young John Gaunt which would also qualify as a prequel. In each case, however, it revealed aspects of Gaunt that helped in understanding who he was and which weren’t going to be told in any other way. Each was also a stand-alone story; you needn’t have read any other GJ story to understand these stories.

There can be problems with sequels as well. Does it add to the story or does it just water it down? Godfather II deepened and expanded on the first film; Godfather III – not so much. The original Rocky is a great film; none of the sequels improved on it and only tarnished the story. OTOH, Toy Story 2 was better than the first film and Toy Story 3 was better still.

I can understand the desire with the studios to go back to the same material; it has a proven track record. There’s more money to be made not only from the movie but from all the ancillary crap. Less risk (in theory) and more money (in theory).

Maybe what it comes down to is this for sequels and prequels – does this story need to be told? When you think about it, that’s the same criteria as every other story, isn’t it? Or should be. Is this story worth telling? Not – will this make more money? Sadly, the reason for too many sequels and prequels is the monetary one.

MONDAY MORNING: Mindy Newell

MONDAY THE REST OF THE DAY: Wait And See

TUESDAY MORNING: Emily S. Whitten

 

The Point Radio: Milo Ventimiglia Does Digital In CHOSEN

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Milo Ventimiglia is back in action in the new series, CHOSEN and this time he’s doing it digital. Milo gives us all the details on the new Sony web series from Crackle.com, plus  – SyFy cancels ALPHAS and are they serious about a GREMLINS reboot?

Take us ANYWHERE! The Point Radio App is now in the iTunes App store – and it’s FREE! Just search under “pop culture The Point”. The Point Radio  – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or on any other  mobile device with the Tune In Radio app – and follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.