Saturday, December 1, 2012

Justice League Movie Should Not Be An Origin Story

The Summer of 2015 is the release date of The Justice League movie.  DC, creator of the legendary group, is hoping to create a movie that will move Heaven and Earth and fill fanboy pants with joy (or at least compete with The Avengers).

Joss Whedon was the wise choice for The Avengers and Marvel will be holding on to that gem of a writer for as long as humanly possible.  The simple let's-get-together-and-fight-evil model blended well with Whedon's humor and the creative use of the fan service.  But enough about them.  We have Justice League to talk about and I am certain DC is going to follow this similar story route.

Montage of Each Hero --->  Heroes Clash Relationally --->  Huge Evil That Threatens The World ---> Heroes Join Together and a Huge Fight Breaks Out

It's basically an origin story, which seems to be the only kind of super hero plot line we have been getting for the past five years.  But the question remains: do we really need to know the story of how they all came together?  I think we only care about these two elements.

Huge Evil That Threatens The World --->  Heroes Join Together and a Huge Fight Breaks Out

Let's be honest, everyone knows the story or at least can guess what is going to happen.  The characters meet, they clash with each other's personalities, but they find common ground to defeat the greater evil.  Marvel at least padded the painfully obvious plot progression with humor and epic hero moments.  DC might not have that luxury.  So here is another option.

Throw away the origin story

Do we really need to start on day one?  Other movie genres are not obligated by origin stories so why live by that rule?  Origin stories are very cookie cutter and make a very easy framework that builds up to a sequel, but they aren't imperative to the audience.  If you take into account that the audience wants to see each hero personality richly intertwining and interacting throughout the plot and a barrel load of epic fight scenes you don't need an origin story to pull that off.  In fact, origin stories try so hard to make sure you know where everything starts that it gets in the way of the character development.  Origin stories have kept Peter Parker from being witty and clever, Batman from being dark and brooding, Punisher from being merciless and Green Lantern from being...well that was just a bad movie.  It's not fun to watch your favorite hero personality slowly develop and not reach their character when you already expect them to be it.

So why not get there already?

Imagine a Justice League movie that starts five years into its story.  The Justice League has already formed and they know each other quite well.  We can catch the audience up to speed with some short montages about how they met and how Martian Manhunter formed the group, but nothing longer than ten minutes of back story.  The world already is familiar with them, the JLA are kicking serious butt and having moon base meetings.  I just saved the audience an hour of meaningless reactions and stupid introductions that would have been predictable anyway.

NOW...we can get into the meat of the issue and see how Superman, Aquaman, Green Lantern, Batman, Flash, Martian Manhunter and Wonder Woman work together since they are already deeply invested in one another.  The movie could jump right into the politics of maintaining a super group, the egos of each character and stress of being a world power.  If the movie assumes that they are already friends (Super Friends?) the relationships can build and reveal much quicker than if they had to introduce each other and focus on reactions.  The story arc would look like this.

Back Story of Rich History Between The Heroes  -->  The Relationship Struggle and Stress of the Team  --> The Mastermind Working Against The Team --> The World Loses Hope--> The Eventual Resolution

The big difference is that you can have some epic fight scenes anywhere within that story arc because the team is already together.  Also, this plays to DC's strength because the JLA story is all about super heroes thinking they are gods amid a helpless world and theweight of each ego struggling for leadership.  You will never get Batman's lectures to Superman about him not manning up to responsibility in an origin story.  At least not as deep.

As they say in my improv class: "don't try to get there...get there."  Origin movies are always trying to get there, but it's the sequel that gets there.  Tony Stark wasn't fully the Tony Stark we loved till Iron Man 2.

How cool would it be if the writer/director assumed you knew everything and treated you like you could figure it out (which is not too farfetched considering the fanboy following)?

But no! DC is never going to take this route.  Why?  Because an origin story is sooooooo easy.  It writes itself.  Most likely we have to sit through an hour of characters introducing themselves to other characters, characters reacting to characters for the first time and the super group introducing themselves to the world.  Then in the last twenty minutes we will see the big fight between Brainiac/Darkseid and then we can wait for the sequel where everything is setup.  This is all done so some fanboy's girlfriend doesn't feel left out.

Tell me what you think.    

Saturday, October 27, 2012

The Walking Dead: Gripping Saga or Getting Silly?

It's not hard to see why The Walking Dead is getting nominated for all these TV awards.  It's an Indy science fiction TV show that takes itself very seriously without any hint low budget B acting.  Not to mention that people are in love with zombies.

But as the show jumps into season 3, I am beginning to see some themes and routines that are raising a few eyebrows.  This is an otherwise great show, but if these themes took over it could ruin the credibility of the series.  For example...

1. Trying So Hard To Be Graphic

We get it.  Zombies are supposed to bleed and dismember everything.  We also get that killing a zombie results in lots of brains getting splattered.  There is no competition--The Walking Dead is the most violent show on TV.  I still can't figure out why my cable company rates it at TV-14, when clearly the show is an R-Rated series where no one uses the F-word.

Gore and blood is supposed to elicit a shock response.  But I think AMC is starting to realize that their audiences are becoming desensitized.  No longer does it phase anyone that a horse is getting de-gutted.  So what do the writers do...find new ways to be overly graphic.  The new season has Carol performing a C-section on a female zombie for practice later.  A good way to solve a plot problem?  Maybe.  Totally disgusting?  Oh yea.  But don't worry, we will get desensitized to on air C-sections and the writers will have to try again to get us to be squeamish.  I'm sure they have lots of fun things for Michonne to do that will fill the disgust quota.

Don't worry dad I am a Master level Ninja with Expert Stealth powers!

2.  Easy Zombies

Do you remember the first episode where seeing a pack of walkers was a big deal?  You were like, "Oh crap, that guy is doomed."  Now when you see a bunch of walkers it's like watching a video game.  The crack team of zombie destroyers are amazing at perfect head shots regardless of distance or type of weapon and the zombies almost seem effortless to kill.  The justification is that Rick's survival party spends all time mastering the skill of zombie hunting.  The problem with that is that the zombies are no longer a threat.  Even the prepubescent Carl is a crackshot who can take down zombies with a pistol from a tower.  You can also get some perfect noggin shots from a speeding car and a shotgun.  The walkers are a hindrance at best.  I am starting to think that I would be a great zombie hunter.  Not only does this effortless task take away the horror element of the show, but I am starting to wonder if the zombie element is just to prove that the show is for adults.  So when are we going to see dangerous zombies again?  When are we going to see the survivors tortured by this endless threat?  How did our military fall to this simple hurdle?

At the jerk auditions!

3.  The Selfish Jerk Plot

Every season has one.  In the first season we had the racist hillbilly on the rooftop.  In season 2 we had Shane being a jealous lover with ego issues.  In the third one I think Rick is filling the shoes of the egotistical jack donkey who is giving his wife a cold shoulder.  Every zombie movie is required by law to have the reckless zealous male and the heartless selfish female in the cast of survivors, but in The Walking Dead it is a hat that gets passed around the cast.  Now add that to the fact that killing a human being has become as popular as greeting them and you have this cycle:

 Jerk irritates protagonist --->  Protagonist stabs Jerk  ---->  Protagonist becomes Jerk

I have to cut The Walking Dead some slack.  This is a brand new genre to TV and the Walking Dead is doing phenomenal at keeping everyone hooked.  But when Rick can just kill anyone that irritates him slightly then you start to get a bit predictable.

I don't want people to think I loathe the show.  It is actually one of the few shows that has a chance to survive mediocrity and boredom.  I also want to note that this show deserves all its accolades.  But this is what I don't want to happen.

1.  The show becoming a violent video game with a side of great character development

Personally, I am just waiting for the zombie fad to die out so TV can start something fresh.  (I am surprised we haven't cashed in on a show about ninjas or bacon)      

Tuesday, August 28, 2012

Things I Expected In Online Christian Dating (But Never Got)

Take God's favorite pastime,getting people married, and mix it with the internet.  It almost seems flawless and well executed.  The power of the global community and Christian values mixing together should make the most awesome display of true love.  But, sadly, this was more of a wake up call than a triumphant victory.

I expected:

1.  Tons of Opportunities

I met hundreds of girls that were both church oriented and searching wholeheartedly for a good Christian man.  The odds were in my favor completely.  I started locally and met at least thirty girls who did not bow the knee to false idols.  Three ghost towns later--nothing.  I went a bit further into some surrounding cities to see if they could spare a cup of Christian girl.  Zilch.  Then I started to see what other states had holy women of the Lord to fulfill.  It's like they smell the rejection on me.  Finally, I started to consider long and hard what other countries I would dare visit in order to find someone who would reply to my emails.  I hit rock bottom when I was trying to raise airfare for Abu Dhabi because I swear someone gave me eye contact.  The reality is that you can get a lot of nothing.  There's no guarantee.  The temptation is to start sacrificing your core beliefs in order to widen the playing field.  What does that really accomplish, but remind us that we are acting out of desperation?

2.  Authentic Christianity

On some websites the term Christian means about the same thing as saying you wrote your name on the organ donor line on the back of your drivers' license.  I can't tell you how many websites that boast in their quantity of God fearing women actually has very few that are actual practicing.  It's not like these girls are confessing to heroin parties and full time work at the orphanage bombing centers.  In fact some of them are pretty decent.  My biggest beef is that the almighty creator of the universe has called them to help build his kingdom at the mercy and expense of his historical son, Jesus Christ and they would rather share how motivated they are about pony breeding.  I guess I just didn't prepare myself for the word Christian to be passed around so loosely like the words organic, swagger, yoga or epic.  On the flipside, you can always bet on atheists being passionate about what they don't believe.

3.   Reciprocation

I would rather have some girl honestly tell me to drop dead than to meet another tumbleweed girl.  A tumble weed girl is someone who responds to your message over internet dating mail.  They strike up a conversation and happily oblige to all your questions.  Then you start to notice that you are the primary CEO of keeping the fires alive with conversation.  After a day or so the word reciprocation has no meaning at all.  And with a gentle gust of wind she drifts off into the background of nothingness like fading from a dream.  I am completely baffled by this.  Girls have tumbled away mid instant messenger sentence.  In some respects I completely get it.  These ladies are making judgements that I am not cut out for them.  I don't mind being fired from their affection.  But stop pretending that I am a bear that if you hold real still I won't see you.  Have the decency to swat me away like a fly you don't want in your house.  Anything else is just bad friendship.

This is a message that I understand

4.  To be polite to everyone

I met a girl who decided that I was worth her time.  She had to answer questions about me, discover my likes and dislikes, write an essay about her dreams.  Then finally, eHarmony gave us permission to talk to one another.  That was the same time she said she just wanted to be friendly and she already had a boyfriend.  The hardest riddle was trying to decipher if she was just ignorant or cruel.  But the fact of the matter is that she thought she was being friendly. Being polite on a Christian dating site is very deceiving and inappropriate.  First of all, there is no small talk and simple chit chat.  Virtually everyone who takes it seriously has the agenda to find a relationship.  With that in mind,  ignore people you don't want to spend time with.  Block people you don't want to notice you.  Don't smile back or answer any questions from anyone you don't want to engage with.  Break friendships and ties with people that you can't/won't reciprocate with.  In the real world we need to be polite, friendly and be civil with everyone to treat them like a human.  In the online dating world you need to give constantly give the cold shoulder.  This is one of the reasons why I hate online dating.

I told you I was freaky!

5. To have God in the backseat

I realize that I am the freakish outcast in this story.  I have had no luck with Christian Mingle, eHarmony, Match, Christian Dating For Free, Chemistry and Christian Cafe.  Now I have put myself directly into Sodom and Gomorrah with Ok Cupid.  I don't mean to be explicit, but Ok Cupid is like trying to find a Veggie Tales DVD in an adult shop.  Realizing that the romance story that I will share with my kids is that I had a choice between the self-proclaimed transgender pirate who makes scarves from sheded kitten fur and my wife sets off a few alarms for me.  I am starting to realize how important it is to let God write my story of love.  It involves looking at myself and realizing if I am mature enough for the fragility of a relationship (that is difficult).  It also desires the sensitivity to let God act.  I have a theory that a great number of us are posting profiles online because we are afraid that God said "wait" when we asked for a significant other.  I am not one of those sentimental suckers who believes in the stop-looking-and-someone-will-magically-appear idea, but I do believe in taking direction from someone who knows me better than myself.

Thursday, August 23, 2012

Updated Christian Guide to Voting (or ushering in the apocalypse)

Caution: Takes this article with a grain of salt and try not to put that grain near an open wound.

The primaries are creeping up on us and ranking a close second to Jordyn Wieber's Olympic gymnastic performance on the list of things we should care about.  We live in America so the following must be true: we can vote for anybody and we can worship anybody.  So how does the Christian American treat the primaries?

1. Try to Trigger the Apocalypse

As a Christian, America is not our true home so why not help nudge Revelations a bit further?  Just because The New JerUSAalem has USA in it, does not mean we have reached Heaven.  When you hit the polls, remember that you are aiming for the candidate that is going to unite the world into one secular nation that welcomes the Woman Who Rides The Beast.  Besides,  we are overdue for some serious persecution (your office mates snickering about your virginity vows does not count).  It was the early church fathers who said, "the church is built on the blood of the martyrs."  Would it not be truly ideal to step your faith up a notch by being captured, tortured and forced to kiss Barack Romney's loafers while declaring him the true Cesar?  If we brighten up the place with a little fire and brimstone, surely the seven plagues, bowls and four riders will give us confirmation that we made the right decision.  Vote for the guy who is going to create a secret police that will put a gun to your head, while you are forced to perform your first abortion on a clone baby who is bred only for wars  in Afghanistan.  Who knows, the end might be right around the corner.


Seeking the servant attitude and trying to make this place better.  Christians are unique in that we are the only people group who preserve things to be holy.  We are the priests of our nation who answer to one person and in return we try to make America the clean bride for her groom.  What does that mean?  We don't fret over food stamps and unemployment, but we do help people find their purpose in serving.  We don't want anyone to terminate a human life in any stage and that is why we educate on the sanctity of life.  We want America to be a hero, not a comfortable pigpen.

2.  Your Friends

Asking Facebook about a fair pros and cons discussion about politics is like asking a racist about his thoughts on equality.  Your friends have probably posted posters trying to compare the rival candidate to an inept monkey who drowns inconveniently when it rains or a super Nazi baby killer who eats kittens with cyanide.  When confronted with their bulverism they will stand on their soapbox and declare that they "Love America Too Much."  Let's face the facts, those displays of sarcastic patriotism was never meant to teach any opposing view and the author is hoping to receive some undeserved pats on the back.  But deep inside everyone knows that being president is about making people happy who voted for you.  Meanwhile the other half is stabbing voodoo dolls of your likeness because nothing you say/do/mime will EVER be good enough.  That's why I think we need another Civil War.  One side versus the death.  When the North dominated the South, the South eventually lost and muttered nasty things under their breath.  Imagine Democrats and Republicans musketing each other to smithereens.  We've been doing it in our heads, moving to action should not be so hard.  The winners could always remind the losers that might actually did make right.  I know I have the Republicans on my side.


Reading your Bible.  It's not popular or fun, but there's definitely a promise for those who seek the wisdom of God.  Somewhere, we as Christians have not put any faith that the life God has for us is for the prospering of humanity.  Strangely,  the things we care so much about in politics are all answered by followers of God who obey.  Americas greatness has been built on the backs of healers, prophets, educators, comforters and anyone who said yes to God.  Also, Christian apologists should be studied as well because A) they are way less caustic than your friends B) they help give perspective to scripture.  May I suggest politically passionate preachers like Rick Warren?

3.  The Chosen One

Who will save America.  It wasn't the last guy.  We have used that line over forty times.  Obama is the worst president since Bush.  Bush is the worst president since Clinton.  It's a vicious circle, but I have good news.  This new guy is the one.  He is doing things that everyone in the past hasn't done yet.  He is the one who has the answers that no one has thought yet.  But if my guy doesn't get in then I will automatically guarantee you that my comfortable American life will turn into me eating cat food, begging for prescription drugs from pimps and selling condoms so I can afford a trailer home.  So that is why I am starting early with the worship.  I have sent my candidate love letters with the words "save me" written in my own blood.  Every morning I sacrifice a picture of Mel Gibson on an altar to make sure that John the Baptist will make clear his path.  I buy my candidate sandals just to remind him that I am unworthy to velcro them.  After many rejected offers, my candidate will not allow me to wash his feet with my hair and perfumes.  On any CNBC press talk you can see me in the background trying to grab hold of his white cloak for inner healing.  My faith is unshakeable and I can build my house on every promise that escapes his mouth.  Fox News is my Bible and John Stewart is his prophet.  I'm not a betting man, but I think everything is going to work out.


Jesus.  That wasn't a swear word I just yelled out--it's a person.  The way I see it, Romans says that God appoints all leaders and makes them his servant (I prefer the term tool).  Our God asks us to trust him for all anxieties and personal problems.  I don't have to worry about deathly chaos because my unemployment benefits ran out nor do I have any right to worry about how I run my Christian chicken food chain.  And here is the shocker.  God asks us to respect (not necessarily agree with) anyone who is in office.  The early Christians were currently under the murderous bigot Cesar, but I am sure they totally understand that our situation is different.  I don't have to worry that my guy didn't get in because in the end I know that my Lord got in and has stayed in for a very long time.  When it is put in perspective, we start to see that the office of president is no different from being a servant.  Maybe you are the president...the president of being God's tool.    

Monday, July 23, 2012

Forget 3D! Movie Experiences I would Actually Pay For!

Nothing makes movies more modern and technological than Hollywood offering technology from the 50's at extortionist prices.  I don't understand 3D and I really could care less about the IMAX experience.  I am baffled as to why movie makers are using images that "pop out a little" as the marketing scheme to revolutionize the cinema watching experience.  It almost sounds like an organized crime protection service.  If you pay an extra 3 dollars, the crime lords will give you special glasses so that the movie doesn't look blurry.

Now I have listed some services that movies could offer that I would actually pay for.  These would actually make a little bit more sense to me.

1.  Better Acting

Imagine, if you will, getting a choice to see Spiderman with Tobey Macguire or if you paid an extra 3 dollars you would get to see Spiderman with James Garfield.  Countless movie fans would gladly chip in the few extra bucks to see a less painful exchange of drama from James Garfield.  I paid thirteen dollars to see Will Smith sloppy his way through Men In Black 3.  Not once did I say, "oh my goodness, the 3D made up for the paper thin plot and underwhelming fun!"  Now if you offered the Men In Black 3: Acting Coaches and Script Editors Edition, I could see tossing a few bucks.

2. Adjust the Fight Scenes (So we actually know what is going on)

There's a theme among action movies, where the camera man and the editor will give you the perspective of someone having a violent spasm in the dark during a fight scene.  Every movie that claims to have good fisticuffs has had this editing style of extremely close up fights, one millisecond shots and horrible lighting.  The Dark Knight Trilogy is riddled with shoddy action scenes because at no time did the director ever want you to enjoy the fight.  I would pay an extra five dollars to rewind these indiscernible fight scenes, slow them down and add lighting.  Each person who paid the extra fee would get to choose options like, "slow motion," "add lighting" and "add Jackie Chan." Imagine a brawl that looked more like Morpheus' and Neo's exhibition and less like Batman's epileptic rave sessions.

3.  Hilarious Commentary

The girlfriend wants you to see some sappy Zac Effron movie where he rolls shirtless into puppies for two and a half hours, while he macs on a chick who cries all the time.  Instead of groaning painfully to the female pornography that you have to endure, you can order the hilarious commentary headphones.  For an extra ten bucks you can have members of Mystery Science Theater 3000 or some sarcastic comedian rip the movie apart, while your significant other commits mental adultery.  I would relish the part where Conan O' Brien compares Gerard Butler's romantic comedy to a Justin Beiber song.  So while Zac Effron is stumbling over a love scene, you can laugh hysterically knowing that you are sharing this movie with a loved one.

4.  The Comment Box

This one is a bit pricey, but I know that it will sell in droves.  This is for anyone who put high expectations into a movie that clearly let them down.  We call it Spiderman Syndrome and it happens every ten years.  After the movie is finished, the ushers bring out a comment box where you can fill in criticisms and direction to make the movie better.  The comment box is shipped directly to the script writer and producer, who are contracted by law to obey the majority criticisms of the movie.  Let's envision a world that won't get another Marvel reboot or how about sleeping peacefully at night knowing that Anne Hathaway won't be in the sequel.  The service would cost about $100 dollars, but I would gladly chip in to have the safety of the comment box.

5.  Professional Probation For Directors

Whenever a business man wastes tons of money or a politician makes a stupid law, they potentially lose their job in some way.  Not true for movie directors.  They can dump out endless movies and still make a profit overseas.  What if we could pay an extra few dollars to determine the director's career at the end of a bad flick?  If a movie sucked, the audience could vote and the majority would count as a strike against them.  One strike and the director would have to make an apology blog.  Two strikes and the director goes on professional probation, where they are required to take three classes at the New York School of the Arts.  If they get three strikes they must leave the movie business.  This kind of movie fan input would seriously make Sam Raimi consider his next artistic choices more carefully.  Consider a world where the movie visioneers of the cinema wouldn't jump to Tom Cruise so readily.  I would gladly pay for those features.

6.  Artistic Discussions

Have you ever seen a great movie and wanted to talk about it after?  But usually your friends want to go home and get some sleep.  For an extra five dollars, the movie does not end with the credits, but with a serious panel discussion with a movie critic, a theologian and an expert in the field of whatever the movie was based on.    You could wittle away hours explaining how Batman's cape was not exactly like Frank Miller's vision. Serious philosophers could explain the messiah complex of Sucker Punch as they pertain to the Christian Gospel.  Meanwhile, your girlfriend would be pulling on your arm saying, "I'm bored!  Why didn't we see the Zac Effron movie?"

7.  Sex Scene Distractions

There is not much you can do during a movie sex scene.   I mean really, you can watch it and look like some perv who is taking notes.  You can turn to your parents and explain that you didn't know Natalie Portman would perform such a rude act.  You can't really announce to the audience how the inclusion of the sex scene helped you understand that Adrian Brody actually had feelings for Keira Knightley.  But, for an extra five dollars, a professional juggler and balloon artist will perform during the whole awkward scene.  It helps conservative parents and makes that awkward romantic date seem a little more bearable.  How many of you would have rather seen a professional sword swallower rather than see King Leonidas teach your 5 year old brother what one does with a wife before battle 300?

This is....awkward!

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...