Star Trek: The Motion Comic

05-Sep-09 1:00 PM by
Filed under Star Trek; 1 comment.

Three years ago, I reported that a new Star Trek animated series was in the works. No news on the project has since crossed my radar, leading me to assume that JJ Abrams' reboot of the series led to a reprioritization of studio projects. Novelist Dayton Ward recently confirmed the cartoon's status and provided links not only to more details, but also to a sample script and an author's commentary podcast.

Though I wasn't eager to have the series leapfrog 150 years, I'm not sure I like the path the known Star Trek universe is taking, either. What I was looking forward to was a new animated series. I think the successes of Pixar and DreamWorks have done much to diminish the perception of animation as an immature medium, and I'd like to see how the changes in technology and culture in the thirty years since Trek's last animated outing would affect the series.

Once again, Dayton Ward to the rescue. A few years ago, I hired artist Tom Vilot to turn a photograph into a painting; I was very pleased with the results. Another artist has now taken the similar approach of starting with a live-action still and drawing over it to produce this fan creation — Star Trek: The Motion Comic:

Converting a popular franchise from live action to still life was also the unique approach that gave us Bored of the Rings, and crossovers such as implied by the above video's end are also nothing new: Predator, Batman, Robocop, and others have all crossed paths at one time or another. But sometimes, it's the original application of an existing idea that leads to success. Star Trek: The Motion Comic is a dramatic (if occasionally stilted) work that reminds me a bit of digital comic books that were available for PCs, back when the shiny CD-ROM was still new andswa attracting publishers with its multimedia potential. I'm almost hesitant to see the promised continuation to this crossover coalesce, as horror doesn't seem like a good fit for this crew or genre. Still, I hope the inspired artist does create more episodes — though given the four months he says it took him to create this eight-minute clip, I wouldn't blame him if he doesn't.

In what other crossovers or media would you like to see Star Trek appear?

Whoever Wins — We Lose

29-Dec-07 10:36 AM by
Filed under Reviews; 1 comment.

I'm not usually a fan of horror movies. Don't get me wrong, I like being scared; the Silent Hill franchise of video games are absolutely terrific in their ability to disturb and entertain. It's just that movies are too much a spectator sport for me to get very involved.

But when those horror films start crossing over into other genres, then I get interested. Freddy vs. Jason was a hilarious flick, while Alien vs. Predator was a decent action film. The latter had enough potential to warrant my recent viewing of its sequel, Aliens vs. Predator. (The pluralization of the Aliens apparently being too sublime, the movie earned itself a silly subtitle, Requiem, for viewers who've forgotten the nomenclature of the Ridley Scott original series.)

The sequel picks up immediately where its predecessor ends, with an Alien bursting from a Predator's chest, imbued with the qualities of both races. (I didn't realize until now that Aliens bear the traits of their hosts. Interesting.) The Predator ship crash-lands in the woods outside a remote town in Colorado. Hilarity ensues.

Well, not really — at least hilarity has a punchline. Here, we're mostly kept waiting for a payoff that never comes. Whereas the first AvP film featured a team of Predators on the hunt, this time there's only a lone hunter (who we tantalizingly see take off from his homeworld), though his motives are unclear. Is he trying to cover up the Aliens' existence? Save humanity from an Alien infestation? We never know. There was a definite sense in the first film of the Predator as the hero, but his motives don't seem as honorable here. Mostly what we see him do is use some foreign weaponry which is then damaged in battle, affording him a sequence in which he unveils yet another mysterious gadget. Repeat.

Just as unclear is the potential of the so-called Predalien. The best of both worlds and the weaknesses of none, right? Not so much. A Predator's strength comes from his training and weapons, and a newborn Predalien has neither. Except for his physical appearance (and some unjustified ability to manipulate human fetuses), the Predalien functions exactly like an Alien. The fight between the lone representatives of the two species is built up throughout the entire film, but when the climatic battle finally occurs, you realize it doesn't matter who wins.

Everything in between is the usual mayhem, screaming "What are those things?!", and firing into the darkness. The murky cinematography sometimes leaves one questioning how an Alien snuck into a particular building, or where the Predator is supposed to be now. In keeping with the rules of horror films, sluts and stoners are guaranteed to go, but there is the occasional surprise in the nature of their demise.

The film ends with a vague reference to the origin of The Company, which I suspect will be lost on most viewers. But if you have the appropriate expectations going into this film, it will prove a mildly satisfying experience. The first AvP suggested the potential for a great mash-up; it's a potential I'm still waiting to see realized. In the meantime, fans have done a great job of introducing these otherworldly invaders into other mythos, including Terminator, Robocop and Batman. Now that's a winning proposition!

Movie Opening, Collect $50 From Every Player

17-Aug-07 12:16 PM by
Filed under Films, Humor; 2 comments.

In this, the 25th anniversary of Blade Runner, director Ridley Scott will apply his cinematic genius to a film adaptation for which we've all been longing…

Monopoly?!

It's true: Mr. Scott is involved in bringing the Parker Bros. board game to the silver screen. But what may appear on the surface to be a stretch may in fact be justified by Hollywood's history.

I don't know that there is any longer any criteria for judging a concept's worthiness based on its origin. In the past ten years, I've enjoyed the likes of Mortal Kombat, The Brady Bunch Movie, and Superman Returns, despite being unoriginal properties. And the theatergoing masses's overwhelming approval of Disney transforming an amusement park ride into a trilogy of Johnny Depp films extends the list of acceptable inspirations. But Monopoly? I don't get it. What's the hook? What can this game license do that films like Wall Street and Boiler Room can't?

Granted, board game adaptations are not unprecedented; give Monopoly an all-star cast and a good sense a humor, and I'll admit Mr. Scott might not be clueless. But regardless of the film's quality, if the public flocks to Monopoly and makes it a success, we can be sure the clones will follow. Which begs the question: where will it all end?