Tag Archives: Avatar

Epic Fantasy Avengers Assemble!

The Heraldic Shield of Awesome Sauce

Nifty shield courtesy of the genius nerds at Fantasy Shields.com

Inspired by a post over at the Tor Books blog, which posits a line-up for a Fantasy equivalent of “The Avengers“, I couldn’t let a day go by without pledging my team of Ye Olde Awesome Fictional Nerds into the fray…

To lead this band of brothers, sisters and brigands?

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We’re going to need magic – that’s a given.  We’re also going to need some one with quick wit, nifty sartorial skills and every team has to have one member liable to go off the deep end and indulge their dark side every so often.  Severus Snape is the complete package.  Just make sure that he hasn’t worked his mojo on the team’s +5 to Health Mead beverages and we’ll be fine.  Think of him as Nick Fury, sans eye patch but replete with devastating sarcasm and lank locks of doom.

Sorcery taken care of – next, we’ll be needing some brute strength, Tank-style.

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Because, you know, Hellboy is Teh Awesomez and is more than a match for his Hulkness.  Also, somebody with his chequered past, supernatural Rolodex is and possessed of The Right Hand of Doom is going to be a cat that you want to have on side when the intergalactic/dimensional cannon fodder start showing up en masse.

If we’ve got magic and damage on lock down, we should be looking at having a sneaky, acrobatic, multi-tasking assassin on side.  Preferably with cute, pointy ears.

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That’s Felicia Day as Tallis in the web series for EA’s otherwise unloved Dragon Age 2.  Elf representation covered, quick wits aplenty and she could probably dash out a nifty Elven ballad or two around the team camp fire on a cold night in the forest.

If we’re basing our team around the Avengers template, I’m going to have to find a Tony Stark/arcane technology specialist from somewhere. And given my abiding love for the video games, we’re going to kill two ancient beasts with  one stone.

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Yep, that’s the Alchemist class from “Torchlight” – who’s as near as dammit to being both Iron Man and Black Widow in the same package.  At least when I’m playing, that is.  Multi-tasking?  Me?  On a school night, yet?  But of course…

We’re going to need somebody who can handle a bow and arrow and take down fools with almost disdainful aplomb…

Yep, Neytiri from “Avatar”, you’ll do nicely (and as some would argue that “Avatar” was more fantasy than SF, there’s certainly a case to be made…)

I confess, I’m slightly at a loss for a Captain America analogue in my uncanny squadron of fantastic misfits – any ideas will be gratefully accepted…

(Not So) Stealth Edit!

After going away and thinking about it for a while – I’m giving the Cap role in my coterie of weird heroes to….

Gabriel Belmont, conflicted warrior hero of the recent “Castlevania: Lords of Shadow” revamp – he’s got the combat thing down pat and can brood for days.  Armour? Check.  Strong moral convictions? After a fashion.  He’s probably got some kind of shield to employ that I’ve yet to find, down some back alley in the game.  Yep, he’s in.

As Garrett points out in the comments, I’m still in need of a good fictional Thor analogue – and suggests Ares, from Greek mythology, but also reinvented for various Marvel titles in the expanded “Avengers” family.

He’s a massively overpowered warrior from antiquity thrust into the modern era, able to summon ancient weaponry from his Mythological Ancestral home, battle like a maniac and has a history with the wider “Avengers” continuity.

Yep, he’s in…

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Team Awesome…

The internet just imploded. Yeah, that happened...

Oh, corporate synergy – when you facilitate this meeting of the minds, you can be as cynical and profit-hungry as you like.

ABC – who make ace Nathan Fillion-em-up, “Castle” – clearly got the order from corporate sibling Disney that some cross-promotion for the upcoming “Avengers” would be desirable.

And rather than go the utterly shameless route that Fox did when shoe-horning the release of “Avatar” into a 2009 episode of the Fox procedural drama, Bones (a large part of that episode took place amidst the nerdy horde queuing camping outside a movie theatre waiting for James Cameron‘s sci-fi epic to open), the good people at “Castle” elected to have Robert Downey Jnr and Nathan Fillion have a wee chat and big-up Marvel’s putative superhero blockbuster to the ABC demographic.

So, boo-hiss to evil marketing!  Evil marketing wrong! Boo!  Now that I’ve made my inner Naomi Klein happy, can we talk about how awesome Downey Jnr is, how genius Nathan Fillion is and why this blatant slice of corporate back-rubbing is actually rather charming, in fact?

I like my marketing to have at least the vaguest implication of wit, so this unobtrusive and mercifully brief synergistic pow-wow did all the right things for me.  I won’t go as far as iO9 did today and playfully infer that Downey’s presence is a coded tease for Fillion being cast as Hank Pym in a future Marvel flick – be not proud, Movie Casting Power Brokers! Make it happen! – but I will delight in it nonetheless.

Plus, that thing with the hair, yeah?  Sweet!

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Posters from…beyond!

THIS I would pay to see.

You’ll be wanting to click-through for more posters like the “Avatar” one above – today’s hits and cult classics reimagined as though they starred icons from the 50’s, 60’s and 70’s.

The “2001” Fritz Lang poster is particularly choice…

 

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“Avatar 2” in 2016?

At this rate, James Cameron’s kids are going to be directing the projects currently brewing in the Canadian sci-fi auteur’s brain.

Long-time collaborator and regular Cameron producer Jon Landau let slip to reporters during a London visit this week that the sequel to “Avatar” is probably four years away from cinemas – with an estimated December 2016 release on the cards.

A protracted delay for the technology to catch up to the ideas taking form in Cameron’s noggin might be a good thing – if he’s going to take a while getting the screenplay together, perhaps this might lead to a more original story for the sequels (inevitably enough, the box office bonanza of “Avatar” has now yielded a trilogy) and fewer complaints of “Dances With Smurfs”-style archetypes.

We can but dream.

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Faux Flop Films Frenzy

Drew Struzan's genius, unused "Waterworld" poster

Those erstwhile young geeks at io9 have an interesting post today about a phenomenon which has vexed me occasionally over the years – revisionist no-nothing ninnies who tell you that a movie was a flop, when it really was nothing of the kind.

Exhibit A, the film illustrated above – Kevin Costner sci-fi adventure “Waterworld”.  I guarantee you that if you spoke to the average person on the street and asked them about the movie, at least a few of them would eagerly recall that it was a terrible movie and a flop to boot.

The jury’s out on the film’s relative quality, and that’s a subjective argument anyway (for the record, I think it’s a lot of fun.  Not brilliant, not terrible, scientifically all over the shop but a whole heap of good times.  Two words: ‘Dennis’. ‘Hopper’), but one thing that you can take to the bank is that it wasn’t the financial sinkhole that Monday Morning box office analysts would have you think it is.

That film’s production cost was officially $175 million in 1995 – big figures, no doubt – and made $88 million in the US.  Worldwide, the film made a further $175 million.  Not “Avatar” grosses, I’ll be the first to admit, but hardly a case of the film opening and closing in a weekend and making $1.5 million.

Say "Hi!" to your ma from me...

Similarly, another title in io9‘s list, the Tim Burton ‘re-imagining’ of “Planet of the Apes” is perceived as a disappointment (no argument from me) but did great business – budget $100 million, worldwide gross $362 million.  I suspect the poor critical reception that this film enjoyed is the reason why we’ve never seen a sequel or continuation of the Burton version of the mythology, as the numbers probably justify more films being made.

The only common thread in a lot of the movies on the io9 list is that they cost a stupid amount of money to make and were almost bound never to make to that initial financial outlay back unless they were blockbusters for the ages – and if we know anything about entertainment in the contemporary era, it’s that studios can’t manufacture a cultural phenomenon and they just focus on making half-decent films.

My point here, and I do have one, is that films don’t have to cost the earth to be enjoyable – and few audiences outside of Los Angeles give a two-penny toss for how much a film cost to make.

In a period where everybody’s feeling the financial pinch and prioritising what they spend, whose bright idea was it to make going to the cinema more expensive, less comfortable and not especially enjoyable?   I read anecdotal evidence from families going to the cinema in the US which suggested that a typical movie night for two parents and two kids topped out at around $100 if you factor in food/snacks for everybody, especially if you’re shelling out for the ticket up-pricing which accompanies a 3D release.

Who can afford that kind of price?  Admission prices (and the quality of films latterly) are the reason that I rent or buy Blu-Ray releases and watch them on my projector at home (no, we’re not rich – it was cheaper than a decent-sized HD tv set when we bought it).  A lot of the experience of going to see a film with none of the hassle was the appeal to me and it has to be said that I can a lot of people going a similar way.

I can count the number of films that I have to see at the cinema on the fingers of both hands – my nerdy obsession with the “Underworld” series aside, I’ll probably be seeing “John Carter”, “The Avengers”, “The Dark Knight Rises”, “Skyfall”, “Prometheus” and “The Hobbit” at the cinema if a certain terrier’s health improves enough to allow her parents out of the house for a few hours.

Event pictures all and “Underworld” aside, films with the budgets to match.  But 3D and deep financial coffers don’t really matter in the grand scheme of things.  I’d go and see anything if it looked interesting or fun and what I’m ultimately saying in this post is that it’s about time that studios really got back into the habit of making smaller films.

James Cameron's "Avatar" - a rare blockbuster worthy of the term.

Not that small equals better, but surely it makes more sense to have a more diverse portfolio of stories than a couple of gigantically expensive epics which cost so much that they can’t easily go into profit without dominating the global box office.  Not every movie can be an “Avatar” and not every movie should be – the differentiation is what makes cinema such an invigorating medium when it’s done right.  Big pics, medium flicks and small gems – surely this isn’t that hard an idea for Hollywood to grasp?

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Yes, Michael J. Fox is still awesome. Need proof?

If they ever remake this film with some Bieber-alike, I will be hunting the responsible people down...

Via my spiritual (and no doubt blissfully unaware) blogging mentor Rob at Topless Robot comes the entirely life-affirming news that Michael J Fox is still kicking all kinds of arse despite his well-documented battles with Parkinson’s Disease.

I have history with Mr Fox, the “Back to the Future” series and the career of Robert Zemeckis and it’s arguably due to being at just the right age and in the right place to appreciate the talents all concerned and the great work that they did.  It’s probably just an inevitable by-product of getting older and thinking that everything was cooler when you were young and that everything today pales in comparison, but let me assure you – “Back to the Future” is still a bloody good slice of clever, well-constructed storytelling.

Today, the equivalent and gigantically successful summer movie which births a lucrative franchise is probably something like “Transformers” or the “Pirates” movies.

It’s hard not to feel that today’s kids are getting the spiky end of the tent pole flick and its leading lights:  Does Shia LaBeouf, in any way other than height, compare to a Michael J. Fox?  I’m going to go out on another limb and suggest to you that he doesn’t.

Maybe “Back to the Future” was one those alchemic films which managed to outwit the many-headed beast of studio interference, preview screening feedback idiocy and any number of issues which usually conspire to up-end potentially great movies and turn them into the crappy, unadventurous fare which so often clogs up the multiplex.

Certainly, Fox’s career wasn’t quite as luminescent as it was here before his health problems somewhat curtailed his acting work.  And Zemeckis went on make films like “Who Framed Roger Rabbit”, “Forrest Gump”, “Cast Away” and my personal favourite, the Carl Sagan adventure “Contact” before spending much of the last decade or so toiling away on motion capture projects which didn’t really connect with audiences – his efforts with “Beowulf” and “A Christmas Carol” being arguably a few years too early to avoid the ‘Uncanny Valley’ effect that James Cameron essentially circumvented to grand style in “Avatar”.

Would it be as good if it were made today?  I’d like to think so, but I’m pretty sure that it would be the victim of a shocking 3-D post conversion, star some no-mark from a CW tv series and be directed by an easily malleable studio pawn to no great effect.

Sometimes it’s best to just focus on the great stuff that you did get and not worry too much about what Hollywood might or might not do with things that you happen to love quite a lot…

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When James Cameron met Disney…

…they didn’t agree to make that hard R-rated ‘Mech Minnie Mouse’ movie we’ve all been waiting for.  Shame.

I await the 'Big Mech vs Navi Knife Fight' simulator with barely surprised glee.

In principle, though, they have agreed to incorporate “Avatar” themed attractions into Disney’s suite of theme parks, per this story on Topless Robot.

As you might have guessed, James Cameron is hinting that flight will play a big part in the attraction – due in 2016, after “Avatar 2” and a third movie have appeared in cinemas (the first sequel is due in 2014).

I’m not part of the target demographic for this – unless Disney up and decide to build an attraction in South Yorkshire, there’s almost no chance in Hell that I will ever experience this thing – but I’m sure that spending all day queueing with sugared-up, blue face-painted kids for five minutes of 3D motion simulator ride goodness is not a recipe for madness but, instead, A Really Good Thing To Do.

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