Thursday, April 29, 2010

Isle Watch Both...

Perhaps you recall that Treasure Island is one of my favorite books. In my top five. Or three even. Besides being connected to Peter and Wendy (Peter Pan) both in text and the friendship of Robert Louis Stevenson and Sir J.M. Barrie, it’s a masterpiece of entertainment and the source (it would seem) of EVERY pirate cliché [with the exception a hook for a hand, of course. ;) ]

You might also recall that in this post I reported on a new film adaptation of it. Despite it being slated as a “hipper” version, I’ve become excited, or at least hopeful, that Stevenson’s classic is done justice with modern filmmaking.

Well, now we have two shots at it. You know how there were two volcano movies virtually at the same time, two asteroids hitting the Earth movies, two cute insect movies, etc… well, now, yes, it seems Warner Brothers is also setting sail with a film based on the book Treasure Island.

Normally I’d roll my eyes at the “two alike movies” scenario, but here it’s a second chance to get it right, so to speak. I certainly have not seen ALL (there roughly 50) of the adaptations of the book, but the few I have seen have been good, but not “good enough.”

So here’s hoping the complexities of Long John Silver shines on the silver screen. And a lot will depend on the actor playing Jim Hawkins. Without a good Jim, you’ll have nothing.

Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Where's That Dang Crocodile?

To quote a cliche: How time flies!

It's been just about a week and I've not posted anything. My apologies to regular readers. I'm sure you know what happened... I had things to do, places to be (that old drill) and time just got away from me. And yes, I had also been writing Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between during that time. In fact, I've come up with a "tagline" for it, too. Bart loves it... and I also bounced it off Andrea Hook & Jill Jones, who is likewise fond of it. I'll reveal it later, of course.

A couple Peter Pan related items I've found since last post:

The band Kula Shaker has a new single out: "Peter Pan R.I.P." I sorry to say I'm not that much of a fan of this song. No, the title/subject idea has nothing to do with it. Truth is, I rather like Kula Shaker. Their song "Tattva," to put it in a creative way, spins my soul the other way around when I hear it. And many of their other pieces I enjoy very much. Unfortunately, for me, this Peter Pan song does nothing for me. It's just not as engaging somehow. On a non-aesthetic level, I also don't fully understand it. Evidence more than suggests that Peter Pan is far from dead. Perhaps they're saying kids grow up too fast today? My other guess (and this is probably it) is that it refers to Michael Jackson. (Jackson's self-proclaimed Peter Pan-ness never [ha!] sat right with me in the first place - not to mention that his "Neverland Ranch" had Disney Pan sculptures in it.) That all said, it doesn't say much about Peter Pan at all. At any rate, I wish I could be more of fan of Kula Shaker's new song. You can listen to it here, if you like (in the little music player top right side.) [At least at the time of this posting, the song is/had been available.]

There's a re-release of a book called Neverland by Douglas Clegg. I admit I have not read it, but from what I can gather it is not about Pan's island. Though it does take place on an island...hence the title. Actually, there are other reasons. It's a horror novel touching on some of the themes from Barrie's masterpiece.

Neverland is the story of a dysfunctional southern family summer-vacationing on a Georgia island of badly faded glory, and of the horror that washes over them, literally like a hurricane, when the children turn an abandoned shack into their clubhouse and discover there dark secrets about the family, the island's history, the supernatural, and ultimately themselves.

As the title suggests, themes and elements from J. M. Barrie's Peter Pan figure prominently, such as imagination, the wish never to grow up, and even the fantasy of enchanted flight.

- quoted from The Groovy Age of Horror

(If the title of this post is too cryptic, I'm referring to the Croc in Barrie's story, of course, and the idea that when you want to know the time in the Neverland you need to find her.)

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

-DO- Pay Attention to the Man Behind the Curtain

Another OZ movie is on the way. When I first heard it, the proverbial alarm went off, bracing myself for some new remake atrocity. But no. This... this sounds like it could be good.

Imagine a prequel to The Wonderful Wizard of OZ. Rolling your eyes? Don't yet. How about a prequel dealing with the Wizard, or rather the man from America's Heartland that became the Great and Powerful OZ. The story of his arrival and ascent to mysterious stardom. Sound a little better but like it could be headed for disaster? How about if the story is pieced together from the information available about the "Wizard" from the series of OZ books? Now that's intriguing. It's at least worth a try.

In fact, Bart reminded me that I'd given the matter a little thought before. When reading Gregory Maguire's Wicked I started to wonder about the origins of the little circus fellow who would be a Wizard. I immediately tried to recall what we do know about him - and what backstory and motives and challenges he might have had. But I also knew that I'd not be the perrson to tackle that tale.

Well, here it is from Hollywood, OZ the Great and Powerful, reportedly starring Robert Downey Jr. as the little man behind the curtain himself. Here's hoping Mitchell Kapner's script (originally called Brick) combined with the team that films it creates something as awe-inspiring as the Land of OZ itself.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Plot Twists? No, Plot Braiding.

Very late last night (the wee hours of the morning, in fact) I made great progress on Peter Pan: Betwixt-and-Between. No, I didn’t write any more of it (not counting a few tweaks.) Rather I wound up shuffling texts around. Specifically my notes to myself for the rest of the story. Since I had just figured out the specific order of a few events the other day, I wound up with a much better handle on the rest of them. I saw that one note could be paired with another, this scene belonged two notches down, and so forth. I wound up with an outline up through the end of the novel. Hoash! I’m sure the characters will send new moments my way or take me variant routes. Even while re-configuring it one of them showed up to put in a scene I thought I’d not be using. But now I am — however not at all the way I originally conceived it. How nice to have it all fall into place beyond a general understanding of the story.

If you’re wondering how I would not have already had it all plotted out, see this post.

It’s going to be fun to write the rest. Ever onward.

Monday, April 19, 2010

My Life in Random...

It turns out that the new episodes of Johnny Test consist of only one new story, not two. Darn.

It also turns out that I wound up seeing Burton's Alice in Wonderland again with a friend, Buttercup, who had been curious - but a little leery. I kept telling her it's amazing and she's come to value my opinion based on other things. Guess what. She loved it and said "I need to see it again. It's not that I just want to... I need to." She also agreed as to what the title of this film should be. :) [Oh, I didn't see it in 3-D this time and, yes, it didn't make a difference.]

And on the Peter Pan front, my novel Betwixt-and-Between is still going well. I am rather enjoying 'working' with Tiger Lily again. I'm guessing I'm two-thirds done. And if that sounds like I haven't done much, it miught be on account of me revising it as I write it. Plus the characters keep throwing new stuff at me. But the latest scenes that I have completed turned out much better than I thought they might. I also figured out the exact sequence for some of the smaller events - which means I'll have no trouble (it would seem) forging ahead. [Yes, that is the title portion of the cover.]

I rather feel like someone else scripted this past weekend... since nothing quite went as planned. It turned out lovely, ending up with an unexpected and sudden gathering of folks at our place on Sunday night. Bart made a shrimp pasta for everyone. As if you needed to know...

Thursday, April 15, 2010

A "Novel" Idea

Back in this post, I'd pondered what would happen if novels became "remakes."

Well, it seems some has been brave enough to tackle this idea.

John Scalzi has “rebooted” H. Beam Piper’s 1962 science fiction novel Little Fuzzy.

It had been one of his favorites and what began as an experiment/exercise turned into a Piper Estate sanctioned novel titled Fuzzy Nation.

You can read all the details on Scalzi’s blog here.

Best of luck, sir!

Tuesday, April 13, 2010

Oh Boy.

Peter Pan showed up on Jeopardy! again.
This time in the form of a wrong question.

It had also been wrong by way of the category: 19th Century Literature

Thus ended the reign of the current Jeopardy! champion.

Monday, April 12, 2010

Two Cents for The 3 Laws...

Another two cents from me:

I just wanted to say I rather liked the note at the end of the 2004 movie I, Robot.

It simply said Suggested by the book I, Robot by Isaac Asimov. It acknowledges the source and at the same time lets you know liberties have been taken. Bravo for the distinction.

How irritating is it when a movie puts the author's name as part of the title and then brings something which vaguely resembles the work to the screen?

Oh - yes, I watched the movie over the weekend. Did I like it? Yes. It falls into the "entertaining" category. Not bad, not great. A fun flick.

Yet another two cents: Although it's a mediocre film, I liked "futuristic Chicago" much better as depicted in the movie A Sound of Thunder, based on a Ray Bradbury story.

Looking for the pic I discovered I, Robot 2 is a possibility. That seems excessive to me.

Friday, April 9, 2010

TWOting a Horn

Well, I have now seen every episode of Johnny Test. Yes, the quest to catch all of his adventures is over. I’d thought perhaps this happened a couple of times, for I’d not been entirely sure from the brief descriptions of a few of them if I had in fact seen those segments. Well, to be utterly redundant, now I have for certain. Not to worry though - new episodes are now on the way each Monday. Hooray!

I’ve made it known in this post how much I adore Johnny Test, both show and character. I think the last time I loved a cartoon program this much had been Animaniacs. I said that I’d most likely discuss aspects of it again. The time has come.

One such aspect that impresses me is that each episode has two segments, that is to say two separate stories. Each is about eleven minutes long. Think of that. A whole adventure in eleven minutes! Johnny Test, of course, is not the only TV cartoon which does that. Another that springs to mind is The Mighty B! which stars the great Amy Pohler. Another I like, The Fairly OddParents, also has two smaller stories. Even Animaniacs followed this format, sometimes with more than two ‘episodes’ within the half hour [and always with a different set of characters.]

I just wanted to point it out. From a writer’s standpoint, it’s quite a feat. Especially when the condensing still feels like a bigger event in such a short amount of time. In other words, I never feel short changed by the compact stories. In Johnny's case, it includes a funny bit that turns into the exposition/launching for the story, the acquistion of what's wanted/needed, the problems that ensue, the thinking of a solution (on the part of the characters) and the resoultion. All in eleven minutes. And that’s not just a “boom boom boom” of “plot points” but also character development, jokes and homages. I’ve talked a little bit about this with my faithful reader & commenter Anon, who holds the position that it speeds along too quickly. I can understand that view, for it isn’t as if the fast pace goes entirely unnoticed. But it doesn’t bother me, perhaps because it mirrors the ever-moving mind of a child. An argument can be made, I suppose, that it’s a reflection of the somewhat founded belief of kids’ dwindling attention spans. But I don’t see it that way, since they’re also “expected” to watch both mini-episodes.

The long and short of it is that it allows for more adventures of Johnny (or whichever character[s].) And I, for one, am much happier having had double the amount of his shenanigans.

So to those who write the mini-sodes of the cartoon world: Bravo!
Thanks for all the extra fun.

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

REHASH of the Titans

I don't mean to sound like I'm on a flying high horse... but I told you so.

No, the remake of Clash of the Titans didn't entirely suck, but it had been a waste of time. As I had said in my other posts about it, there's no reason to do THAT story again. Greco-Roman mythology is rich in characters and objects and situations. And yet they chose to try and fix a movie that had not been broken. Oh sure, it's been repackaged with some parts taken out and other characters introduced as well as whole elements shuffled around. But ultimately, note for note, it's the same damn story... and therefore boring. No amount of high-budget effects could resurrect or recapture the glory of the original. Can it be chalked up to having been a kid when I first saw the original? I'll say no... since we'd just watched a good portion of it the other day (prior to seeing the remake) when showing it to a friend who'd never seen it. She'd been impressed, by the way. This new movie, though full of energy, is a lackluster blockbuster.

Here's a question: Why are the other gods even depicted in this film? It turned into the Hades (an addition) and Zeus show. Seriously. Apollo has a line and the other gods/goddesses are shown but never even called by name. From just watching the movie, we have NO idea which lovely lady is Aphrodite and which is Athena. (Oops.) No arguing with Zeus, no conspiring while Zeus is not around, no interaction with the mortals, no Hephaestus tinkering to make the special sword. Nothing. The movie would have functioned just the same without them. A Greek Myth movie with no gods? Interesting. And I'm sorry, I really like Liam Neeson, I really do, but he's terrible in this movie. He has no command of the scene or the insight to the character, no presence. (Not a good thing for the King of the Gods.) And can somebody please give Hades a lozenge? Seriously... did he have to talk like that? Then there's his rivalry with and hatred of Zeus... oh sure, it's part of mythology in some cases... but we saw THIS story before as well. Disney's Hercules. Another rehash. And you know what? Disney prominently featured (and named) the gods quite well. Not to mention presenting the story better.

How did Perseus's mortal father know his name if he found/adopted him? He didn't know his identity and the only way to have "seus" at the end of your name is to be a son of Zeus.

Why could the giant scorpions (now from the blood of Calibos [also reconfigured entirely] and not Medusa) speedily advance toward the humans when fighting them, but have to go like snails when the Djinn enabled them to be ridden? (The new characters of the Djinn... a.k.a. "Hi! I'm a cute special effect and over-convenience to the plot and nothing more!")

And sadly...there's no need for Andromeda to be in this movie. Oh sure, she's interesting enough as a character here. But she's pointless other than her mother praising her beauty above Aphrodite (who, as you know, had no reaction.) Yes, yes, they need her for the sacrifice to the Kraken - except they don't. The Kraken is sent to destroy Argos to punish the mortals and does so anyway, regardless of Andromeda being strung up before him. Her sacrifice will save the town... her one life for the lives of everyone. It's supposed to cause rifts and fighting among the mortals as part of Hades's master plan. But this aspect is so played down it may as well not even have been in the film. Thus, the Kraken attacks and smashes much of the city regardless before Perseus comes with Medusa's head. Andromeda is barely in it and worthless to the story. I say that of the character only, not actress Alexa Davalos who did wonderfully. And Andromeda is not even the love interest of our hero. Nope...
...the love interest is Io. And I'm sorry, all I kept thinking is "You're supposed to be a cow." She is in mythology - turned into a cow by Hera for sleeping with Zeus. Not in THIS movie - she rejected the advance of a god and is doomed not to die. Okay, that's not actually a complaint, since the original film didn't follow Greek mythology to the letter either, shuffling and rewriting a bit. But truly, Io the Not-a-Cow is only here to serve as Bubo the Mechanical Owl Guide from the first film, who makes the briefest of cameos for no reason other than a lame joke.

I missed Ammon, the Burgess Meredith character, serverely.

And it had no ultra-creepy moments like the head of the statue coming to life.

We did so not need lines such as "Don't look the bitch in the eyes."

They wasted one of their best new lines/concepts by having it appear twice. Hades "shocks" Zeus by telling him that although he [Zeus] and the other gods draw power from the prayers and love from the humans, he [Hades] has learned to survive on their fear. Quite a great idea to add. But don't do it twice. When he says it again toward the end of the movie, it has no impact - it's rehashed.

I'll tell you - when a man riding a winged horse (a black Pegasus? [which, by the way, is his only distinction because there are plenty of white ones and he needs to be special {unlike the first time when he'd been the only winged horse left}]) is boring, you've got problems. When the Kraken attack falls flat and retreaded, you've got problems. Though, yes, I did like the Kraken redesign. But I really wish they'd not fully shown it in the trailers. If I didn't know what it looked like perhaps it would have been an exciting scene.

Nothing but amber/sepia. Maybe another reason it felt lackluster is due to no color in this movie. (Not literally, but for all intents and purposes.) It also had F/X for the sake of having F/X. Such as the gods leaving in wisps of light at Zeus's command so that he could have a talk with Hades which amounted ONLY to saying "Release the Kraken" as if the other gods needed to leave for that.

The one truly good part of the movie had been Medusa. Now THAT's a worthy update. Marvelously done. No offense to Ray Harryhausen but this Medusa kicked his Medusa's ass. However, to be absolutely fair - new snake-woman didn't scare us at all. She's fun in this film. Harryhausen's may have been slow and not slunk and twisted around columns and had fewer snakes in her hair but at least she'd been scary. At least there had been tension in the scene. The new version felt slick and cool - not claustrophobic and sinister like the original. As for the other other monsters - yeah, they're pretty good in the remake but they, too, still don't have the grandeur of the original movie.

Like the massive boat later named for them, this movie sank. But it might not have - if they'd used other stories. Here's hoping War of the Gods is the "updated" Greek Myth Movie we're been needing.

UPDATE:  War of the Gods has since been retitled The Immortals
A Myth Take?
Hit or Myth?

Monday, April 5, 2010

Make Sure to Catch Wind of THIS...

Perhaps you recall me griping about the NEW new remake of The Amityville Horror. In that post, I do say that perhaps someone is gung-ho about getting the story "right" on the screen. But I have what I believe to be a better idea.

I watch quite a bit of the "haunting" shows on TV. It seems like there's always one playing, across two or three networks. I have stopped watching the "Ghost Hunter" type. I quickly learned they're really just a bunch of people giving themselves the willies. There had been one moment that really creeped me out. But I think it reached its peak for me then, and I have not watched one since. (From boredom, not fright.) So anyway, I find myself drawn to shows that are "documentaries" of supposedly real cases of people being traumatized by "the other side" in their homes. Sometimes they're hilarious (such as the people who had NO idea how a Shadow Demon could have entered their home - only to find out from a brother that they'd used a ouija board to summon a Shadow Demon not too long ago - but they have NO idea how it got in or tormented them!) and sometimes they're a little creepy. No, I'm not frightened by them. Intrigued and mildly weirded out on occasion. A particularily fun one is Celebrity Ghost Stories.

So, bearing in mind that I have seen a LOT of these shows, there is one that I felt had some great twists to it as well as an interesting backstory/history of the haunted house. I also, therefore, have seen a great many depictions of spirts. And I have to say the one in here gave me the undeniable creeps. Horribly so. Oh, sure, from the right "angle" it's laughable. But you know how things can be both stupid and upsetting. I have to say... if I had the particular experience of the people in that program, I wouldn't be the same for weeks, or for never after.

I'm talking about The Summerwind Mansion. How many other haunted house stories do you know where it's entirely plausible that after escaping the horrors of the house the residents have to go back inside years later? In this 'true story,' the father of the woman who lived there doesn't believe in the paranormal and buys the house himself to "fix it up." Her brother, too, is a non-believer. Sure enough, the dad soon comes to wonder (and the brother is scared out of his wits.) Obsessed with knowing "what the hell?!" they use hypnosis (though not originally for the purpose of uncovering information about the house) and wind up with a mild possession (of the ghost from Summerwind) and information about what he's looking for - thus the need to return to the inner depths of terror.

I'm probably not "selling" it right, but believe me when I say this one is truly unique. After a while these types of stories can all run together. But not this one. It stands alone as not just a cool variation on themes but also having the power to seriously have freaked me out.

So... anybody from Hollywood who is looking for the next great ghost story... look no further than Summerwind Mansion. (Now burned to the ground after being stuck by lighting despite the tall trees surrounding it!)

LO and behold... after looking for links to the TV show I watched so that you can experience it for yourself if you wish... I found out there is in fact someone writing a screenplay. They are on Facebook (along with a "fan page" of it.) Best of luck to Lee of Dark Latitude Pictures.

Unfortunately I did not find the entire Discovery Channel show, either legally or illegally posted online. It's probably being repeated, though. The show is called A Haunting and if you're into being scared by ghosts, I strongly recommend trying to catch this one. It's well above par.

By the way, besides my genuine lifelong interest in this subject matter, I am also collecting ideas and stories for a ghost story that I will one day write, which is the one I've been talking about lately.

Sunday, April 4, 2010

It's That Time Again...

“You won’t forget me, Peter, will you, before spring cleaning time comes?”

That's what I've been up to - Spring Cleaning.
Yep, over the past few days I've gotten into many nooks & crannies...
so much so that I now ache.

Aren't you glad you know that?

What a wonderful rarely seen F.D. Bedford drawing!
It's a good thing Wendy is a nice motherly person.

“Oh dear!” Wendy said, “you see, I feel that is exactly what I am.”

- Peter and Wendy, Sir J.M. Barrie

Friday, April 2, 2010

An Andersen Anniversary!

Just wanted to note the
205th Birthday
Hans Christian Andersen

Google has the above pictures of Thumbelina up for its logo today.
Five different scenes (via clicking the logo) before it goes to links on Andersen.

To whom it may concern at Google:
Please forgive my re-posting of your artwork. I'm doing so merely to praise it. If you wish me to remove the pictures, I will gladly do so.


I'm only a peripheral fan of Archie Comics. I like it well enough, but I'm not very well versed in it. I've been wondering why there hasn't been a live action series of it. Perhaps it would be too hard to get actors to look quite right? I'm not sure, but it just seems the perfect material for a TV series. Sort of a parody-response to shows like 90210 and Dawson's Creek. (Note: I did not actually watch either of those programs, to be honest.) Of course, if Archie & friends did show up on TV, I don't mean that the primary focus should be parody/staire of such programs. An Archie show should live up to the expectations and establishments of the original source.

It could work, I think. It's not like characters from that universe haven't made their way to the "little screen" as animation and also with the live action (and animated) Sabrina the Teenage Witch. Again, I didn't watch it per se, but I did catch some episodes here and there. If I'd been younger when it aired, I would have been all over it.

I believe an Archie movie has been in production hell for some time now. Perhaps it had been killed by the underachieving Josie & the Pussycats movie, which, also to be honest, I very much enjoyed.

I have to also put in a word for the radio program from the 1940's. I wind up hearing the Xmas episode when listening to "Old Time Christmas Radio" during, well, the Holiday Season.

Anyone else think Riverdale needs to hit the TV airwaves?

Thursday, April 1, 2010

On Board with Barrie

Last night, I got together with Bart, Banky, Clara and author Andrea Jones. We had one purpose in mind. We broke out a Ouija Board… …and contacted none other than J.M. Barrie!

He had a lot to say, it turns out. He’s been “spinning in his grave” ever since the Disney movie took hold of the world’s perception of Peter Pan. He also seemed quite perturbed about the many books that have come out.

To our relief, he seemed okay with mine and Andrea’s writings on Pan - but not until we clarified some points for him. Andrea needed to reassure him that the sexuality of her book did not undermine the essence of his story. I needed to explain to him why War had to factor into my book.

We asked, and he loved Jeremy Sumpter, Rachel Hurd-Wood and Jason Isaacs as their roles. He thought a television mini-series of the novel would be best, so that nothing had to be fall by the wayside.

Some points he wanted to emphasize:
Hook is not a comical villain. Peter Pan does not wear tights. And his shadow is not alive.

We tried to get him to give an answer as to whether or not the Jolly Roger flies at the end of the story, but alas, he refused.

Not a single one of us will ever forget the experience, though it did seem rather dreamlike, as if it never actually happened at all.