Tagged: Simon Pegg

Joe Corallo: Minority Opinion

trump acceptance speech

Today I’m going to diverge a bit from my usual spiel, but not by much. Oh, who the hell am I kidding? This is pretty much par for the course at this point.

Last week millions of us bore witness to the Republican National Convention, a subsidiary of Trump. One of the points that was made throughout the convention was how they had speakers of all different backgrounds at one point or another, despite the overall representation being very white. Since representation is something I’ve dedicated a lot of my time and energy into for this column, I feel that I should address this and how it parallels representation in comics and other media.

Starting on July 18th and going through the 21st, overlapping with San Diego Comic Con, the Republican National Convention rolled out many women speakers, Hispanics, black men, and even a gay man. Sure, Peter Thiel is a cis white billionaire who was outed against his will, but he’s still queer so that’s something, I guess. Republicans then used these speakers to make the claim that they’re the party of diversity and promptly patted themselves on the back for it.

Doctor IdiotSound like something I’ve said before? You probably read what I wrote about Star Trek Beyond, Marvel’s handling of Iceman (I know, I’ve referenced that Iceman piece a lot lately), and more. These all fall under diversity being added for positive press hits. And similar to the Republican National Convention, highlighting efforts of diversity in comics and movies tend to come from straight cis white guys downplaying how dominated their industries are by other straight cis white guys.

Now I’m not comparing the likes of Simon Pegg to Donald J. Trump. Though diversity for good press in the entertainment biz isn’t without harm, it’s certainly not on the same level as what Donald Trump has done and can do.

There is an assumption that tends to come with being inclusive. The assumption being that you must support X fully and without hesitation if you give X any level of positive or even neutral representation. We see this all the time in comics and movies like with the representation mentioned earlier. We have also seen this in politics. And yes, Democrats can be guilty of this too, but the Republican National Convention this time around was exceptional.

Many speakers at the convention made it a point to condemn PC culture. They made sure to have non-white speakers like Ben Carson to stress this point too so as to show it is not just the rhetoric of a shrinking voting block. Similarly, they found about as many black men as they could find to say either Blue Lives Matter or All Lives Matter. The intention of which was to make it okay to say those things because black men also say them, despite the disparity between how many people in a particular community feel about an issue like that.

Watching that display at the convention brought back the recent memories of the team on Star Trek Beyond having Zachary Quinto speak on George Takei’s disapproval of Sulu being gay now since Zachary Quinto himself is gay so of course his opinion is right. Or how Axel Alonso defended Marvel’s hip hop covers campaign using the fact that since they have radically diverse editors on staff that they are right. Paul Jenkins in my interview with him a few weeks ago stated how he had trans consultants on the script for Alters with the implications that he’s justified in approaching this comic the way he is. Often PC culture is blamed here as well.

It’s important to keep in mind that people like Zachary Quinto, Axel Alonso, and Paul Jenkins in these particular instances aren’t inherently wrong because they found people that agree with them from the communities that would be the most skeptical. The Republican Party isn’t inherently wrong for the same reason.

Minority communities are not monoliths. We are all individuals with minds of our own and different sets of experiences that shape our outlooks. And all of these communities are large enough where you can find nearly every opinion under the sun in them. So please, whether it’s in politics, movies, comics or elsewhere, don’t ever assume that a couple of people from one group expressing an opinion represents the entire group.

And yes, that includes my opinion too.

Mindy Newell: Star Trek – Beyond Tribute and Redemption

Star-Trek-Beyond-2

Kirk: We make a good team

Spock: Yes, we do.

Bones: We could be mauled to death by an interstellar monster!

Kirk: That’s the spirit, Bones.

Considering today is Monday the 25th and Star Trek: Beyond came out only three days ago, how much can I tell you about it without doing the dreaded HERE THERE BE SPOILERS dance? Hmmm…let’s see….

Did I like it?

Yes.

Did I luvvvvvvvv it?

Well, that’s hard to say. If you had asked me that last night as I was walking out of the theatre, I would have said, “No, I didn’t luvvvvvvvv it.”

Meaning that I didn’t want to turn around and immediately buy another ticket, ‘cause I’m too honest to just stay in my seat and wait for the next show, and besides, with my luck, I would have gotten caught by that one guy or gal in the whole wide world who has the thankless job of cleaning up after all us movie slobs between showings and who takes his or her job seriously enough to throw me out or hand me over to the theater manager. The way I wanted to do when I first saw Raiders of the Lost Ark or the original Star Wars or The Empire Strikes Back or, come to think about it, the first J.J. Abrams Star Trek reboot back in 2009.

However, as I was talking about the movie while playing and cavorting in the pool this afternoon with grandson Meyer, daughter Alix, and son-in-law Jeff, I realized that while I didn’t luvvvvvvvv this third entry of the rebooted Trek universe, I definitely do want to see it again, because:

1) Chris Pine is simply becoming more and more handsome. In fact, before sitting down to write this I watched the Wonder Woman trailer – the one unveiled at this year’s San Diego Comic Con – just to feast my eyes on those amazing blue eyes.

Ahem No, not really. Let me try that again.

1) Chris Pine is inhabiting the character of James Tiberius Kirk more thoroughly with each film, allowing us to follow and appreciate the growing maturity of the young(est) captain who sits in the command chair of the Federation’s premier starship, all while never losing the charm of the boy inside;

2) Zachary Quinto and Karl Urban, as Spock and Leonard “Bones” McCoy respectively, still frankly fucking amaze me with their dead-on interpretations of the First Officer and the Chief Medical Officer of the starship Enterprise as we knew and loved them in the “before” time. It’s not only in their acting skills that totally get the quirks and mannerisms of the Vulcan-Terran hybrid and the “old country doctor,” but also in their spoken intonations and, yes, the very sound and timbre of their voices. How do they do that?

3) Speaking of the Euclidian – or is that Isosceles? – triangle that is Kirk, Spock, and McCoy…it’s all there. The wrangling, the bemusement, the annoyance, the loyalty, the friendship.

4) And with regards to that triangle… two sides, Spock and McCoy, are more cantankerously and crabbily thrown together than ever before, giving us the chance to revel in their ornery, and yet loving relationship.

5) Yes! Finally! Hurray!!!! The women of Star Trek get their due!!!!! Communications Officer Lt. Nyota Uhura (Zoe Saldana) has more screen time than ever, and she kicks ass, not only physically but also emotionally and with smarts. Not to mention Melissa Roxburgh as Ensign Syl. Yeah, she may be a “red shirt,” but she’s not simply disposable. And then there is Sofia Boutella as Jaylah, the woman who becomes the crew’s ally. Yeah, she kicks ass, too. But here’s a word that I haven’t seen in any of the media review. She’s adorable. As in, I adored her relationship with “Montgomery Scotty,” which lead me to…

6) Simon Pegg, as the Chief Engineer, is once again simply wonderful. (And by the way, he co-wrote the Star Trek: Beyond with his writing partner, Doug Jung, ably Robert Orci, Patrick McKay, and John D. Payne.)

7) Although I do have to say that John Cho, as Lieutenant Hikaru Sulu, does get a bit shortchanged this time around, in what I thought was a great addition to the character (not to mention to the franchise), it’s established that not only is Sulu gay but that he and his beloved are parents to a little girl. I also think it’s an absolutely wonderful tribute to George Takei, who has been in the forefront of gay rights since he first came out; Mr. Takei was one of the first to marry his partner when California finally voted in the legality of same-sex marriage. The funny thing is, Mr. Takei objected to this “change” in Sulu’s character. That seems odd to me…

As for the reasons I didn’t luvvvvvvvv STB, well it comes down to…

1) Idris Elba.

No. Not the actor. He was, as usual, pretty damn fantastic, especially – nope, not gonna go there. Not going to get all SPOILERY.

In fact, I can’t really get into why Mr. Elba, or, rather, and more specifically, his character, bothered me without getting all SPOILERY.

So I’m just going to have to drop it for now, until (I assume) Art Tebbel and/or Vinnie Bartilucci or someone here at ComicMix gives a more, uh, thorough review.

Until then, live long and prosper.

However…

One thing I did truly luvvvvvvvv, immediately luvvvvvvvved: The honor and respect and love given to Leonard Nimoy, both within the movie itself and in the credits. And the saddest thing about Star Trek: Beyond is the passing of Anton Yelchin. Stay for the credits. You’ll see what I mean, and you’ll “hate” it, too.

Finally…

Alexander Courage’s theme gets me every time!

Joe Corallo: With Allies Like Simon Pegg…

Simon PeggThe third installment of the rebooted Star Trek franchise, Beyond, is set to hit theaters July 22nd. It’s been announced that in this film that Hikaru Sulu, portrayed by actor John Cho, will be revealed as gay. John Cho apparently discussed this with George Takei last year, in which Mr. Takei expressed his displeasure with the idea and lobbied film director Justin Lin to reconsider the decision to make Sulu gay. The movie was written by Simon Pegg, who plays Scottie, and Doug Jung. The Star Trek Beyond team went ahead with their original idea anyway.

George Takei, who played Sulu in the original series and seven Star Trek movies, was delighted that they would be adding a gay character to the franchise but was disappointed that they chose to make that character Sulu and should have made a new character instead. This led to Simon Pegg responding rather harshly that he disagreed with George Takei and creating a new character would be tokenism. Then openly gay Spock actor Zachary Quinto said he was disappointed that George Takei was disappointed. All of that can be read here.

Now there is a lot to unpack here. Why would an openly gay man and LGBTQ activist like George Takei be opposed to Hikaru Sulu being portrayed as gay in the new movie? Part of the reason is in this quote from George Takei himself, “Unfortunately, it’s a twisting of [‘Star Trek’ creator Gene Roddenberry’s] creation, to which he put in so much thought. I think it’s really unfortunate.” He goes on to stress that this is the 50th anniversary year of Star Trek and how that adds to the unfortunate nature of it all. Simon Pegg goes on to counter that stating the decision to make Sulu gay is in line with Gene Roddenberry’s vision.

startrekbeyondRoddenberry himself did want to have LGBTQ representation, but at the time he was helming Star Trek that was impossible. George Takei’s point is not that Gene Roddenberry would be opposed to a gay character in his vision, but rather that Gene thought out all of his characters so fully that if they want to include a gay character that character should be a new one.

At this point I can’t help but think to myself just who in the hell does Simon Pegg think he is? George Takei worked closely with Gene Roddenberry for years. They talked about the character of Hikaru Sulu many times together. Simon Pegg has never worked professionally with Gene Roddenberry. It was incredibly poor form for Simon Pegg to try and counter George Takei’s claim that this goes against Gene’s vision. Honestly, I found it insulting on Simon Pegg’s part. He’s a professional and he should know better.

Going back to George Takei as an LGBTQ activist and how that and his sexual orientation inform his worldview, I think it’s very important to consider that before responding in the way that Simon Pegg, as well as Zachary Quinto did. Not only is George Takei a member of the LGBTQ community, he is also a member of the Asian community in the United States, another minority, and he and his family were subjected to life in an internment camp from 1942 through the end of World War II. Later, he would have to navigate being a closeted gay man in Hollywood. He is a man who has gone through a lot, experienced a great deal, and deserves more thought and consideration towards his ideas than was given to him by the team on Star Trek Beyond.

Simon Pegg is not a member of the LGBTQ community. He is an ally at best. His statements echo those of many other well-meaning allies who have not necessarily contributed positively to the community. I’ve written previously about Iceman being outed in Marvel Comics and was strongly opposed to the idea then. What they have done with the character since has not been positive in any measurable way to me and I stand by my thoughts on Marvel’s decision. The situation with Sulu in the new franchise is very similar.

When it came to Marvel outing Iceman, it came off like cheating at the diversity olympics. Same goes for what Simon Pegg is doing with Sulu. Taking an already established character with a fan base and adding something to that character to make them more diverse comes off as a way to try to add diversity without the risk, and we see right through that. Rather than make an investment with a new character, they’re trying to play it safe and it comes off as lazy more than anything else. I will say it’s nice that Star Trek is at least creating a non-white LGBTQ character through this, but this is still not ideal.

Star Trek ChoWhat both Marvel with Iceman and Simon Pegg do not seem to understand is that retconning old characters as gay to expand diversity isn’t as helpful as they think it is. I understand that they all think that in a way it’s both good for the LGBTQ community and good for profits, but it’s not what the LGBTQ community as a whole needs.

We need new characters, our own characters, histories and stories, not press releases with straight cis white allies patting themselves on the back congratulating themselves on how progressive they are. Especially when one considers how forward thinking Star Trek was in 1966, and how 50 years later we haven’t even had a single gay character of any importance, let alone bi or trans. The Star Trek franchise went from being something of a gold standard in diversity to falling behind compared to contemporary science fiction. They shouldn’t be patting themselves on the back for how progressive they all are, but rather they should be apologizing to us for having taken so long to even attempt to catch up and that all they can offer us is a lazy Sulu reveal.

Something equally important is LGBTQ representation in the background. It’s not enough just to have just one character in the movie represent an entire group of people. It all needs to be sprinkled into the background. How about two women flirting in the break room? Maybe someone has an image of their same sex partner at their workstation. What about a background character just bringing up their same sex partner casually in conversation as someone they’re looking forward to seeing again soon when they get back?

We need to be a part of the greater world. If queerness is not a part of the background, it is not a part of the world. It’s just a token character. The kind of character Simon Pegg claims to be against. His actions suggest otherwise. Especially since Simon Pegg also states that while Sulu is out as gay in this movie that it isn’t important to the story. Straight allies often seem to go back and forth between saying how important it is to queer people like me that they created or retconned a gay character followed immediately by saying the character’s queerness isn’t all that important anyway. It’s insulting and honestly I’m really sick of hearing that.

If this was something important to the people involved in the reboot, they should have made characters LGBTQ from the start back in 2009. By waiting until the third installment, it becomes very difficult to believe this is for anything more than a press hit. Granted, Simon Pegg was not involved in the screenwriting for the previous installments. That said, it’s all the more reason to just create a new character to develop and grow. I find it offensive that Simon Pegg suggests that creating a new character that is gay would mean that the character is just there to be gay. He’s a screenwriter. He should know better. He should know you can create new characters and clever writing can avoid tokenism.

Everything stated by John Cho, Simon Pegg, and Zachary Quinto suggests to me that some people on the film thought that George Takei had gotten big enough on social media that they could lazily write up one scene in a movie showing Sulu with a same sex partner, and assumed that of course George Takei would love the idea because he’s gay and it would be great press. When they found out that the LGBTQ community is a little more complicated than that, rather than listen to George Takei they went ahead anyways in the hopes that he would come around or that Sulu being gay would be a good free press. George Takei did not come around to the idea.

I’m disappointed with Justin Lin, Simon Pegg, and Zachary Quinto. I’m a queer nerd who is a casual fan of the Star Trek franchise. I’m sick of being targeted for marketing that’s not so much for me, but for people outside of the queer community to feel better about themselves. I saw both of the previous Star Trek films in theaters, but after this debacle I’ll be saving my money. I’ll wait to see what Bryan Fuller’s new Star Trek television series premiering next January has to offer.

Box Office Democracy: “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation”

Mission: Impossible - Rogue Nation

Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is a very good spy action movie. It expands and builds on the previous entries in the series although sometimes in ways I’m not entirely sure are necessary but it’s consistently compelling and visually interesting, often funny, it checks every box I would put on a hypothetical action movie checklist. Unfortunately I think the landscape for these movies have changed and being very good might not cut it anymore. Movies need to either push the genre in new or interesting directions (like a Mad Max: Fury Road) or be so consistently excellent the movie becomes a non-stop delight to sit and watch (the approach taken by the last three Fast & Furious movies) or it feels lacking to me. Tom Cruise isn’t enough by himself and Tom Cruise: Movie Superstar is all that is being offered here.

Let’s not take anything away from Tom Cruise as a movie star, because he is a phenomenal one and this is a stunning showcase for him. He is charming and magnetic and because he’s willing to do his own insane stunts the movie looks more authentic. It’s not a very active improvement, though; it’s more like appreciating how it doesn’t look like bad CGI than being particularly amazing in its own right. Tom Cruise is good in a way that makes me think “Tom Cruise is amazing” but not in a way that makes me thing “Mission: Impossible – Rogue Nation is an amazing movie” and that’s a problem. He’s appealing in the role but he never makes me think anything about the character, I know I’m watching Ethan Hunt but I never ascribe any character traits to him, he’s a stunningly blank character for the lead of a fifth movie in the series.

The plots haven’t advanced very far along in five movies either. For Rogue Nation the Impossible Mission Force is disgraced in the eyes of the government and Ethan and his team must work to stop the bad guys with no official support for their actions. This is exactly the same premise of the last entry in the franchise. All they did this time was change the particulars; it isn’t about stopping a nuclear missile, it’s about shutting down a criminal anti-IMF, and the force of government resistance are represented by Alec Baldwin who plays his part as director of the CIA and I can only imagine his process was deciding he was going to play Jack Donaghy from 30 Rock and the director would have to fight him for every bit of seriousness. This is not intended as a complaint; it works quite well. There are also some legacy problems due to the longevity of the series. In a world where good and evil intelligence operatives have been able to do perfect face masks to pose as others for almost 20 years, you would figure no important people on earth would have sensitive conversations without blood tests or some such. As it is you just spend the entire movie waiting for that iconic face pulling off shot and this time around I saw it coming a mile away. It hurts the credibility of the movie.

I’ve complained a lot here and while I think the film deserves it I want to emphasize that it was a perfectly enjoyable way to spend 2 hours and 20 minutes on a hot summer day. It’s fun to watch, the action spectacle is as good as Hollywood is capable of doing. Rogue Nation crosses the globe to incredible exotic locales and it’s fun to see motorcycle chases through Morocco. The supporting cast is a hoot and a half, Simon Pegg is delightful, Ving Rhames is wonderfully gruff and while he sometimes feels like he’s acting on autopilot it’s never distracting. Rogue Nation is a very good movie but I want it to be excellent, these days the genre almost demands it and it just isn’t there yet. I hope the inevitable sixth movie can push it in that direction, and with the track record of this franchise I wouldn’t rule it out.

Voices From Krypton: Simon Pegg Talks TREK And The IMF

Simon Pegg has the distinct honor of being heavily involved with two of movie’s biggest franchises – both over a half a century old each! VOICES FROM KRYPTON talk exclusively with Simon about his current role in MISSION IMPOSSIBLE ROGUE NATION and his dual task of starring in as well as writing the next STAR TREK film.

Marc Alan Fishman: New Star Wars? Meh…

Blow out the torches and put the pitchforks back in the barn, kiddos. Any longtime fan of ole’ Marc Alan Fishman knows well that he isn’t much for the lightsabers and midichlorians. I’m not here necessarily to slight a multi-billion dollar franchise that helped spawn a legion of fanboys that in-turn became the heroes of my youth. Instead, I’m here to explain calmly and coolly why I’m skittish that the hype machine that will churn out the next Star Wars will not be the second coming all the wookies and rogues are awaiting with baited breath.

  1. J.J. Isn’t the Messiah

J.J. Abrams is a talented director and writer. But he’s not a miracle worker. While his track record and profit margins have never been snickered at, I look over his IMDb resume and nothing strikes me. Yes, he created cult (and successfully syndicated) hits like Alias, Lost, and Fringe. Yes, he helmed Cloverfield – lauded for its original take on a typically tropey concept. And yes, he successfully brought the Enterprise into our modern cineplexes.

But I specifically look to his Star Trek movies when I attempt to envision an Abrams’ Star Wars joint. And it has me fretting for the future set a long time ago, in a galaxy far, far away. Abrams’ Trek was clean to the point of stringency. His lens-flared Apple-esque vision held with it no lasting memories beyond the tepid jokes. While he crammed every spare inch of celluloid with today’s troop of tasteful thespians, can anyone here denote a single performance that was anything more than brilliant pastiche? I love Simon Pegg. I tolerate Karl Urban. Hell, I’ve pined for Chris Pine. But cast as living ret-cons, they all floated on the “close by not quite” vibe for their namesake roles.

“You incredulous Dewback!”, you chortle, “J.J.’s Star Wars is using the original cast and veritable no-names for the new roles!” Too true. And if it’s one small saving grace as to why I think the new movie will be reasonably entertaining and not the new testament, it’s largely because I think Mark Hamill, Harrison Ford, and Carrie Fisher have plenty more to pump into their historic roles. But I digress.

J.J. Abrams has the chops to make a palatable port of the seminal series. But, to date, he’s done nothing that screams to me that he was/is/will be the end-all be-all director that will remove the taste of the prequels from my memory. Which leads me to reason two:

  1. Episodes I, II, and III happened.

Preach to me all you want. Rebels, countless in-canon comics penned by incomparable scribes such as our very own John Ostrander, and a litany of extended universe novels may all showcase how amazing the Star Wars universe can be. But in all those aforementioned examples, the target market clearly was always the hardcore Star Wars fan. Not John Q. Averageguy.

The fact is this: Episodes I, II, and III did make it to movie theaters. And sure, they banked considerable cash. But find me someone who walked out of any of those flicks, declaring that they trumped the original trilogy in any way (and “CGI” sure as a Sarlacc don’t count) and you’ve found the village idiot. The prequels were bloated, underwritten, over-produced crap-fests that proved to an entire generation that George Lucas’s original vision had forever been tarnished by the very commercialization that originally made him his fortune. And I’m being nice – we know there’s plenty of people who didn’t walk out of Return of the Jedi singing ole’ Georgie’s praises. The fact remains: the prequels happened, and they’re not going away. Episode VII may end up amazing… but it’s still sitting on a foundation of midichlorians… and of wooden acting.

  1. Hype is a dish best served virally.

I’m wracking my brain to find the last thing in this world that lived up the hype built up over countless marketing ploys. The Dark Knight comes to mind. That’s about it. The fact is Star Wars is a globally recognized juggernaut franchise. When it comes to hitting the multiplex, Lucas and Disney will spare no expense ensuring the world at large knows of the impending Episode VII. Count the coverage of the teaser trailer alone, and then multiply it exponentially as we march closer and closer to the midnight premiere.

Do you remember Episode I? The tent cities that dotted the movie theaters, coated in cosplayers? Do you remember the aisles of every toy store choked with every non-chaser action figure of every background character that would be in the upcoming film? Or how about the happy meal tie-ins. Or the Hostess snack-cake collectible mini-comics. Or the 7-11 collector cups. Or the Pizza Hut Jabba the Hut slice-n-dicer. OK, I made up a few of them, but don’t deny the past (and the inevitable): nothing will stop Mickey and George’s empire from marketing en masse come this December. Santa doesn’t stand a chance.

And if you think Episode VII will be that good enough to forget the sins of the past, and the sins to come… well, I’ll see you at the North Pole.

 

Nick Frost Tops Doctor Who Christmas Special Guest List

Confirming recently circulating rumors, the BBC announced today that Nick Frost will guest-star in this year’s Doctor Who Christmas special.

Nick comments: “I’m so thrilled to have been asked to guest in the Doctor Who Christmas special, I’m such a fan of the show. The read-through was very difficult for me; I wanted to keep stuffing my fingers into my ears and scream “No spoilers!” Every day on set I’ve had to silence my internal fan boy squeals!”

Nick’s frequent partner in crime Simon Pegg appeared in the Eccleston adventure The Long Game as the Editor of Satellite Five, and servant of the Mighty Jagrafess of the Editor-in-Chief, the Holy Hadrojassic Maxarodenfoe (And yes, I used cut and paste, there’s none of us perfect). Other members of the Pegg / Frost / Edgar Wright repertory company who have appeared on the series include Michael Smiley in Into the Dalek and Jessica Hynes as Verity Newman in Human Nature, and again as Verity’s descendant Joan Redfern in The End of Time.

Michael Troughton, son of Patrick (a.k.a. Doctor Two)  will appear in the special as well,  making a return to a long acting career after a break from 2002 to care for his wife, who suffered from MS. During the break he also earned a degree in science.  Michael may be best know in the US for his role in The New Statesman against former Young One Rik Mayall.  This marks his first on-camera appearance on Doctor Who – he drove a Dalek in one of father’s adventures. Michael ‘s brother David has made a number of appearances on the show, most recently as Professor Hobbes in Midnight.

They will be joined by Natalie Gumede (Coronation Street, Ideal, Strictly Come Dancing), Faye Marsay (Pride, The White Queen, Fresh Meat) and Nathan McMullen (Misfits, Casualty).

Steven Moffat, lead writer and executive producer, says: “Frost at Christmas – it just makes sense! I worked with Nick on the Tintin movie many years ago and it’s a real pleasure to lure him back to television for a ride on the TARDIS.”

The Doctor Who Christmas special will air on BBC America. Written by Steven Moffat and directed by Paul Wilmshurst (Strike Back, Combat Kids), it will be shot in Cardiff at BBC Wales Roath Lock Studios.

REVIEW: The World’s Endf

THE WORLDS END BD_2DAfter a steady diet of stupid buddy movies, including this summer’s Grown-Ups 2 flop, I welcomed Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg’s unique take on the concept in The World’s End. After a steady stream of funny and inventive films, this one hewed closer to a traditional premise: five high school buddies reunite for one last blast. However, being from this duo, one could expect something different.

The first forty minutes of the film felt fairly straightforward as the one who refused to grow up gathered his peers, all mired in staid existences, and convinced them to do what they failed to accomplish in their teens. In this case it meant visiting and quaffing a brew at all twelve pubs along the Golden Mile, finishing at the fabled World’s End. We see them struggling to reconnect, all annoyed at their leader for one reason or another. Unlike other films in this manner, the men are archetypal, not caricatures, and you feel the weight of adulthood on their shoulders. Their resentment towards Gary King (Pegg) is also tinged with envy as he has never lost that boyhood spirit, that Can Do attitude that made the next step an adventure.

Then things take an unexpected twist and we’re plunged into an entirely different story that pits these five against an alien threat with the very world’s fate at stake. How they handle this fuels the remainder of the satisfying film, out now on Blu-ray from Universal Studios Home Entertainment. Considered the final installment in the Cornetto Trilogy, viewers should be aware it has absolutely no connection to Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. What they do share in common is an ensemble cast and smart, witty writing that never trips over the line into dumb humor or slapstick.

Worlds-EndWright nicely skewers the horror, cop, and science fiction conventions in these films, always taking ordinary people with ordinary problems and sticking them in extraordinary circumstances. Gary King is the boy who never grew up and as an adult, his actions now appear inappropriate but it is his spirit to never give up that forces the others — — Steven Prince (Paddy Considine), Oliver “O-Man” Chamberlain (Martin Freeman), Peter Page (Eddie Marsan) and best friend Andy Knightley (Nick Frost) – into action. The quiet home of Newton Haven is too quiet and the looks the quintet receive from the patrons borders on The Stepford Wives, even their old college professor (Pierce Brosnan) seem s a little off. When King rips the head off a young punk, he discovers the inhabitants have been replaced with robots out to “civilize” humanity.

There’s a tremendous amount of running, fighting, screaming and humor but in the end it all comes down to King and Andy debating the Voice (Bill Nighy) behind it all. As climaxes go, it falls a little flat but is whimsical in a nice way. And there’s even a touch of romance with Oliver’s sister Sam (Rosamund Pike), the sole major female role in the film, a failing on the Bechdel scale.

The-Worlds-EndThe film’s tone is a steady one, despite the rising complications and activity. The performances are strong as one would expect from the cast, who have worked together for many a year, making this one of the strongest and best comedies of the year. Out on a combo disc (Blu-ray, DVD and Ultraviolet digital), the video transfer is fine, matched by sharp audio. Unlike a lot of recent releases, this one comes with an excellent abundance of material staring with Commentary from Wright and Pegg and Wright and director of photography Bill Pope and Pegg with co-stars Frost and Considine. The first is funny and interesting, the second interesting for technical folk, and the third is as hilarious as you would expect.

U-Control Storyboard PiP lets you see the film’s storyboards alongside the film which is interesting for storytellers. Better is Completing the Golden Mile: The Making of The World’s End (48:00) which takes us through the concept to production although you know some of this through the commentaries.

Additionally, there’s Filling in the Blanks: The Stunts and FX of The World’s End (28:00); VFX Breakdown (9:00); Edgar & Simon’s Flip Chart (13:00), a fascinating look at the beat by beat breakdowns writers use to craft screenplays; Director at Work (3:00); Pegg + Frost = Fried Gold (3:00) Friends Reunited (4:00), mostly culled from a press kit; Three Flavours Cornetto Trilogy (5:00); Animatics (11:00), for two scenes; Hair and Make-Up Tests (4:00); Rehearsal Footage (6:00); Stunt Tapes (9:00); There’s Only One Gary King: Osymyso’s Inibri-8 Megamix (5:00); Music remix montage; Signs & Omens (8:00); Deleted Scene (1 minute); Outtakes (11:00); Alternate Edits (SD, 5 minutes); Bits and Pieces (3:00), additional alternate takes and shots; and, Trailers & TV Spots including the TV Safe Version. Finally, there are Galleries of photographs, concept art, animatronics, prosthetics, theatrical posters and pub signs and a fun Trivia Track.

By all means, check this one out and enjoy the bonus features which enhance the enjoyment.

John Ostrander’s Crossing Realities

Ostrander Art 130127There’s a plethora of “reality” shows on the tube and some fit into the niche of what I call “redneck reality” – shows like “Here Comes Honey Boo Boo,” “Redneck Vacation,” “Alligator Wrestlers” and so on. There’s also a niche of “supernatural reality” shows such as Ghost Hunters, Finding Bigfoot, and other “investigative” shows. Of course there is also fictional horror shows that are real big like “The Walking Dead” and “American Asylum.” At least, these are shows that intend to be fictional.

I’m not loathe to hop on a bandwagon and I love combining genres or niches so I’ve come up with an idea for a supernatural redneck reality show I’m calling “Zombie Wranglers”.

Cue theme music and opening credits: Zombie Wranglers with Joe Bob Briggs, Ellie Mae Clampett and Simon Pegg.

Narrator: Zombie encounters depicted in this show are handled by self-proclaimed experts in the field. Do not attempt these at home. If you see a zombie, run like hell.

Opening visuals: The team walking through bayou country with Joe Bob in the lead. And he talks to the camera. Ellie Mae, in a tied off red plaid shirt opened to the third button and cut offs cut way up high, is on one side, Simon, carrying all the equipment, brings up the rear.

JOE BOB: This week me and the Zombie Wranglers team are in Bayou Country of Loosiana. Lots o’ Zombie sighting out this way. A few running wild. Hopefully, we can hook up with a local bokor, or voodoo priest, who can give us the lay o’ the land.

Now, your average bokor, he may raise himself up some zombies but mostly it’s just to work around the hut or run errands and such. Very rarely do you come across a bokor trying to create a zombie army and I myself personally have never come across one trying to create a zombie apocalypse. Stands to reason – if zombies take over the whole world, where’s the bokor gonna live, I ask you.

Sometimes you might get a hybrid, like a zombie loupy garou or werewolf. Those are nasty. I’ve heard some talk ‘bout bigfoot zombies but, personally, I’ve never believed in sasquatches myself. That’s a little too out there for me.

Some ignorant types said they don’t find zombies all that scary because you can just outrun ’em. That’s not always true. An older zombie, one that’s come back to life a while ago and whose grave is old, yeah, okay. Their joints are stiff and they just creak along. A newly raised zombie or one created by a zombie bite? That’s a different story. They can move pretty fast and you may not know which is which just to look at ‘em.

Hey, Simon – we seem to be getting’ nowhere in a hurry. How ‘bout you send up a zombie call?

Visual: cut to Simon, muttering.

SIMON: How ‘bout yew carry yer own weight on this show, yew bloody gobshite.

JOE BOB: What was that?

SIMON: I’m doin it!

Visual: Simon cups his hands around his mouth and calls.

SIMON: Urgh! Aargh!

Visual: All three heads turn as a cry comes back from close by.

VOICE (off) Urgh! Aargh!

Visual: Camera turns to catch a pretty fresh zombie lurching out of the brush.

ZOMBIE: Urgh! Aargh!

Visual: Joe Bob keeps his eyes on the off camera zombie as he gives direction. Middle background – Ellie Mae unbuttons another button on her shirt. Simon starts sneaking off in the background.

JOE BOB: Okay, Ellie Mae, prepare to lure him on. Not too fast now. And undo another button on that shirt; that’s pure ratings gold right there. Simon, start circling ‘round now behind him.

ELLIE MAE: Right you are, Joe Bob.

Visual: Ellie Mae, glancing behind her with wide eyes, faking being scared, prances on in front of the zombie, her breasts heaving, The zombie, distracted, follows her, reaching for her.

ZOMBIE: Hurrr?

ELLIE: EEEEEEEEE!

Visual: Joe Bob talks to the camera in a calm, professional manner.

JOE BOB: It’s a little known fact that zombies are easily distracted by a purty woman running just out of reach and screaming, especially if she has large hooters on display.

Visual: Joe Bob calling to Ellie Mae.

JOE BOB: Ellie Mae? You want to run a little faster than that, girl. This is a speedy critter.

Visual: The zombie grabs Ellie Mae by her hair, yanks her back, and bites her on the side of her throat. Ellie Mae no longer fakes being terrified; her screams are for real.

ZOMBIE: Hurrr! Aargh!

ELLIE MAE: Gaaaaaah!

Visual: Simon, coming up from behind, furiously plants a machete in the top of the zombie’s head. The zombie releases Ellie Mae but her eyes roll up in her head.

SIMON: Let go of her, ya bloody beastie!

Visual: The zombie, the machete still in its head, turns around and bites Simon in the arm. His eyes start to roll up in his head as he grimaces in pain.

ZOMBIE: Urgh! Aargh!

JOE BOB: (off camera) See now, this is a classic mistake in combating zombies. You want to strike crossways across the neck and take off their head. Top wise like Simon did does no damn good a’tall. Tell ya the truth, I’m a little surprised at Simon for bein’ so unprofessional.

Visual: Back to Joe Bob as he keeps a wary eye out off camera.

JOE BOB: Now yew folks are gonna get a little extra treat here. You’ll see how someone bit turns into a zombie like Ellie Mae and Simon are about to do.

Visual: Simon and Ellie Mae, their faces going white and their eyes sinking back in their sockets, stand jerkily and raise their arms in classic zombie fashion.

JOE BOB: (off camera) There now. Skins getting’ all pasty white and stuff. See that? Sure sign of them turnin’ into zombies, you bet.

ELLIE MAE: Braaains. . .

SIMON: Braaaains. . .

Visual: Joe Bob seeing that their coming for him and turning to run.

JOE BOB: Well, that’s about all the time we got for this week. I’ll be back next week with a new Zombie Wrangler crew. In the meantime, don’t let em’ grab you! Bye all!

Visual: long shot of the zombies chasing Joe Bob through the bayou as ending credits and theme run.

The Author Concludes: Discovery Channel, TLC – I’m waiting for your call.

The Editor annoyingly adds: Illustrating Mr. Ostrander’s column today is a Wasteland piece by the gifted artist and energetic entrepreneur Michael Davis, best known for his long-running ComicMix column published every Tuesday afternoon… when we can find him.

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

Watch “Star Trek Into Darkness” trailer now!

If you didn’t make it to a theater this weekend to see The Hobbit, you haven’t yet seen the full-length trailer for Star Trek Into Darkness, so let’s take a look now…

When the crew of the Enterprise is called back home, they find an unstoppable force of terror from within their own organization has detonated the fleet and everything it stands for, leaving our world in a state of crisis. With a personal score to settle, Captain Kirk leads a manhunt to a war-zone world to capture a one man weapon of mass destruction. As our heroes are propelled into an epic chess game of life and death, love will be challenged, friendships will be torn apart, and sacrifices must be made for the only family Kirk has left: his crew.

Star Trek: Into Darkness brings back Chris Pine, Zachary Quinto, Zoe Saldana, Karl Urban, Simon Pegg, Anton Yelchin, John Cho, and Bruce Greenwood, and adds Benedict Cumberbatch and Peter Weller to the cast. It’s written by Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, and Damon Lindelof, and directed by J.J. Abrams. The film is scheduled to hit theaters May 17, 2013.

And here’s a quick pic from the film of Quinto, Cumberbatch, and Pine…