I'm not trying to be a hero! I'M FIGHTING THE DRAGON!!

Summer Movie Flashback: Sunshine

tn_sunshine

2007
2007

Yeah, SUNSHINE is still good. It’s kinda like ALIEN but with a (SPOILER) naked crazy dude instead of an alien. Like the alien the crazy naked dude is sneaking around unseen for most of the movie, but a naked dude is harder to pull off special effects-wise than an alien so you never do see him clearly. The camera and editing program start freaking out every time he shows up, like he’s giving off some kind of interference.

A crazy naked dude doesn’t have a projectile mouth, he doesn’t have acid blood. But he’s just as unexpected on a ship with only a few crew members. And he knows how to stab people. In a way he could be more dangerous than an alien because he knows how the ship works and intentionally tries to sabotage their mission.

Their mission, remember, is just a little thing to, you know, stop the entire human race from being destroyed because the sun is dying. They gotta drop a “payload” into the sun and that may or may not reignite it. So that’s a big difference from ALIEN is these aren’t just space workers, they’re humanity’s last hope. And the pressure from that takes a toll. It’s what creates crazy naked dudes. Alien is to Alien Queen as Crazy Naked Dude is to Pressure That If You Fuck Up the Entire Human Race Will Die.

mp_sunshineI never disliked the crazy naked dude aspect like some do. But definitely the best stuff in the movie is just dealing with the mission and the problems that come up that wouldn’t have to be sabotage, they could also just be bad luck or inevitable technical difficulties. The crew have to deal with how hard it is to get along in a situation like this. I mean, many people get in arguments with their loved ones just from going on a vacation to a fun place. Imagine having to live on a space ship with a guy you disagree with and have to work together to save the whole damn planet. There’s gonna be some bickering, right? That’s why in this movie there are two (2) different Captain America vs. The Scarecrow fights.

They have disagreements about how to deal with equipment failures or the possibility of using the abandoned ship from a previous attempt to improve the chances of the mission. They always want to save each other and themselves, but also know that the payload is the priority. Survival of human race > getting home.

When their garden is destroyed in a fire that means they won’t have enough oxygen to make it. But what if 2 of them are dead, then wouldn’t it be enough? And if so, which two should they kill? On reality competition shows there’s always at least one asshole that justifies being an asshole by saying “I’m not here to make friends, I’m here to win.” Hopefully those people have all frozen their dicks off on the cold, sunless earth, but up on the Icarus it’s true, it really is more important to succeed than to be nice to each other. They get a Get Out of Jail For Being An Asshole Free card.

But seriously, which are the best crew members to kill to save oxygen? This is the kind of issue they face every ten minutes or so. Stressful job.

But the “psych officer” (Cliff Curtis, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD) has found a real good way to relax. We see right at the beginning how he likes to go into a special viewing room where he can stare at the sun. Just a wall of fire that starts to surround him, the opposite of total darkness, a type of sensory deprivation. It seems to be hallucinogenic, maybe addictive. He philosophizes about it and everybody rolls their eyes. He starts to be a little chapped and burnt later on, and I think the burns we see on crazy naked dude imply that he also was addicted to the ol’ sun staring. So that’s the direction our psychiatric expert here could be headed.

It’s a great cast. Standouts are Curtis (who sits in his shades and worries about pulling out one of his hairs while they’re discussing the dire state of the mission), Chris Evans (who is brash and can come off as a dick but proves to be correct, full of good ideas and ready to act heroically) and Michelle Yeoh (whose aura of intelligence and warmth work well for an elite botanist caring for all the plants on the ship).

The special effects are flawless, and director Danny Boyle likes to linger on shots of the sun or the ship, showing the majesty of quiet, lonely space. There are also some modern, show-offy quick edits (including some cool subliminalish shots of happy photos of characters as their dead bodies are discovered) but it’s all very controlled and deliberate, it happens at specific times when the laws of reality seem to be in flux and we’re supposed to not know up from down. Re-reading my original review I realize that on the second viewing I actually had less idea what was going on in this last part, because I forgot that I had figured out he was inside the bomb at the end. (If I was even right about that in the first place.) I wish I could decode it better but honestly it didn’t seem like that much of a problem anymore. They’re getting close to the sun, shit is fucked up, what are you gonna do?

original review

other 2007 summer movies: MR. BROOKS, RESCUE DAWN, SPIDER-MAN 3, PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END, OCEAN’S THIRTEEN, FANTASTIC FOUR: RISE OF THE SILVER SURFER, LIVE FREE OR DIE HARD, TRANSFORMERS, THE BOURNE ULTIMATUM, RUSH HOUR 3 (that’s five part threes!)

highest grossing movie that year: PIRATES OF THE CARIBBEAN: AT WORLD’S END

VERN has been reviewing movies since 1999 and is the author of the books SEAGALOGY: A STUDY OF THE ASS-KICKING FILMS OF STEVEN SEAGAL, YIPPEE KI-YAY MOVIEGOER!: WRITINGS ON BRUCE WILLIS, BADASS CINEMA AND OTHER IMPORTANT TOPICS and NIKETOWN: A NOVEL. His horror-action novel WORM ON A HOOK will arrive later this year.
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111 Responses to “Summer Movie Flashback: Sunshine”

  1. Your original review of this was the first one I showed to a buddy of mine in an effort to get him reading your websight. He got annoyed ’cause you didn’t mention how beautiful the film was, which was maybe missing the point.

    I agree that the psychological/technological pressures were more interesting than naked crazy dude; wish they’d focussed a bit more on them. But still. I liked this movie. Great cast and direction, majestic score, beautiful photography etc.

  2. I forgot to mention that both STARDUST and SUNSHINE had themes that I’m pretty sure I’ve been hearing in trailers ever since. The SUNSHINE one is especially effective.

    Also I think they mention stardust in part of this, but I don’t think they mention sunshine in STARDUST.

  3. I’ve never really understood the complaints about the crazy guy at the end. I mean, he probably could’ve been executed better, and the ending is definitely confusing as mentioned, but he’s an important part of the film. I’ve always looked at their quest to reignite the sun as a metaphor for humanity’s pursuit of scientific enlightenment, and the incidents they encounter as metaphors for what commonly impedes that pursuit (human error, technical problems/limitations, cowardice and ego, an unwillingness for sacrifice, etc). Unfortunately, a crazy religious zealot fits into that list just fine.

  4. I don’t get the problems with the naked guy either. Without him, what’s the movie about? “We went on a mission to save the earth—and then we did! Yay!”

    To me, the crazy naked guy represents the most extreme manifestation of that weird thought that enters your head when you’re standing on top of something really tall. “All I have to do is take one step and it’s over.” And you’re like, “What the fuck, brain? Why are you even thinking that?” And your brain’s like, “We’re not really gonna do it. We don’t even want to…but we could. Just sayin’.” And it’s kind of creepy knowing how much power lies in such a simple act as taking a step. That’s the crazy naked guy. Just knowing that he CAN destroy the human race drives him insane and makes him HAVE to do it. It’s the ultimate manifestation of mankind’s death wish. Without that, it’s just a space movie.

    Also, this is one of those movies where the reviews are all like, “It introduces intriguing ideas but then devolves into standard slasher formula at the end.” They mean that as an insult, but I’m always like, “It’s got intriguing ideas AND it’s a slasher movie? Awesome!”

  5. Great review, Vern. SUNSHINE is one of my very favorite films, it’s one of only four blu-ray discs I own. I just love everything about it, from the stark hopelessness that is the inevitable and inexorable head death of the universe to the bright triumph of human optimism and courage… it just hits the right notes for me.

    But it’s important to remember that, when SUNSHINE came out it was Scarecrow vs Johnny Storm. This Captain America bit wasn’t even a glimmer in Chris Evans’ eye!

  6. Oh and that reminds me, Vern… have you had a chance to see Danny Boyle’s newest, TRANCE, yet? It’s quite impressive.

  7. Boyle really is the modern master of tension. There were moments in Sunshine and 127 Hours that turned me into an emotional wreck. For some reason, most of his movies tend to evoke some strong feelings in me. What’s makes it even better is that his movies have happy endings. You don’t cry because the hero died, you cry because he made it. Happy tears!

    I haven’t watched this since seeing it in the cinema, but does anyone else recall this thing in the end credits where they replay highlights from the movie? I found that really strange.

  8. Also, yeah, Burnt Naked Guy needs to be in this movie. Otherwise it could easily have devolved into an Armageddon clone.

    Not that it would have in Boyle’s capable hands.

  9. KingNewbs, I liked Trance, but didn’t find it to have that rich substance that you get in Boyle’s other films. It’s a great cinematic exercise, but with such a strong emphasis on plot that it was difficult to be engaged emotionally (but then, I’m not into severely plot-heavy films, unless it’s Wild Things).

    The only time Trance really got my blood flowing was with Rosario Dawson’s “special moment”, I’m ashamed to say.

  10. I saw this with my wife on a cruise, after a long day with umbrella drinks. What is it about?

  11. The part in the bomb (?) reminded me of the part in Zardoz where Sean Connery’s mind gets lost in the crystal, or whatever the hell is going on there. I wish there were more scifi movies with trippy, under-explained sequences near the end.

  12. Jesus. I just remembered I have not seen ZARDOZ.

  13. “The only time Trance really got my blood flowing was with Rosario Dawson’s “special moment”, I’m ashamed to say.”

    and I’m ashamed to say this is the only thing I know about TRANCE at all, but DAMN, who would have thought she’d ever do that? that’s pretty brave for a modern actress of her caliber to go that far

    anyway, SUNSHINE is a really underrated one, I loved it, great music, great visuals, great acting and such a great ending, I mean *SPOILER* how many movies have the main character dying at the end but it’s a totally happy, zen moment? I love how he gets to see that all beautiful light right before he’s vaporized, if you have to die, that’s probably the best way to go out

    SUNSHINE was also one of the first movies I saw on blu ray and it looked great, even on the old shitty 720p HDTV I had at the time

  14. KingNewbs, that’s awesome that SUNSHINE is one of your four blu-rays.

  15. Griff – I think she already bared it all in Alexander if I remember correctly, but yeah, in 2013, moments like that are few and far between.

    Knox – I was just about to mention that, the weird recap of everyone’s deaths during the end credits set to music. I don’t think I’ve ever seen any other movie do that, even though it wouldn’t be out of place in a slasher movie.

  16. I have no problem with the content of the end — I like the idea of a crazy slasher in there. My problem is the execution. There’s a huge tonal shift, which would require better than the shakey-cam halfhearted slasher ripoff treatment it gets in order to work properly. Pinbacker is an interesting character conceptually, but we never get to learn much about him and so he comes across about as bland as any Jason ripoff in a million other horror movies. Most of the action is intentionally obscured by shakey cam nonsense, and Boyle does too little to visually communicate the geography of the ship, meaning that the chase seems arbitrary and never has the claustrophobic angle you might think they’d get from a “killer-loose-on-small-ship trope.” Most people I saw it with asked questions like “What’s that big thing he slides down on?” which in my view represents a failure to effectively communicate the elements which come into play at the end. Likewise, although the idea of fundamentalism and religious violence (represented by Pinbacker) fits with the stories themes, where does the idea of being chased by a slasher fit in? I suggest Boyle made a serious miscalculation regarding how well this sudden change in tone would fit with the more philosophical elements which precede it. He might have been able to pull it off if the final stalker section was a little stronger, but the generally bad visual filmmaking ensures that it comes off superficial and unengaging.

  17. neal2zod – she only showed her boobies in ALEXANDER I think, not a clear full frontal like in TRANCE

  18. I thought the weird naked guy second half was Boyle’s way of experimenting with genre. I figured he was doing something similar to From Dusk to Dawn, but this time he’s going from a 2001 style sci-fi film into a slasher movie. I’m a big Danny Boyle fan, so I was already sold on the film when I saw it in theaters, and I had no clue it was going to make take that strange left turn halfway through. But I completely went with it.

  19. well, it’s kinda like the left turn 28 DAYS LATER took when the soldiers show up

  20. It’s funny that you make that comparison, Griff. I thought that the military compound was a natural progression of 28 Days Later’s story, but so many people I talked to after seeing that film thought it was absolutely jarring. I guess I see where they are coming from. The story does shift. But for some reason people hated it. It was kind of like the opposite of the critiques of Sunshine. People liked the “brainy” part of the movie, but they didn’t like the slasher half of the movie. But in 28 Days Later people liked the more conventional zombie part of the movie, but they didn’t like the half of the movie that commented on how women have been incorporated into “civilization” for most of human history.

  21. Rbatty — see, I’m not convinced people hated the concept, I think it’s just that the execution declines so noticeably in the final act. People preferred the great high-minded sci-fi section to the mediocre slasher movie section, and so were disappointed. I think had Boyle executed his crazy naked guy murders as well as everything leading up to it, everyone would have been on board. Instead, it just seems like an abrupt change in the movie’s quality, as well as content.

  22. Mr. Subtlety — I haven’t seen the movie since it came out in theaters, so I don’t know if it holds up, but it worked on me at the time. Obviously someone can be a fan of movies that take abrupt left turns, but still think that a particular film doesn’t accomplish this well. But there are also a lot of people out there who just don’t like it when a film does something unexpected partway through. They might be fine with a twist at the end of the movie, since this has become an accepted trope, but try anything like that at any other point, and their heads will explode. I encountered a lot of people like that after 28 Days Later was released, and it was a frustrating experience.

  23. The “28 Days Later” comparison didn’t occur to me before, and honestly I don’t think it’s particularly valid. Looking at the two films, I think “Sunshine”‘s crazy man concept COULD have worked. The execution is done so badly – seriously, WHY film the guy like that? – that it completely takes away from the film. And, that section aside, it’s a very good film (I absolutely love the fact that every character is resigned to their own death almost from the start – how many times do you see that in a movie? – and the ending, and Cillian Murphy’s face in particular, just reinforces how well this works).

    “28 Days Later”, on the other hand… I just don’t think this could ever have worked. I’m on record here as generally hating the whole “The humans are the real monsters!” thing that occurs in so many zombie movies. Can’t you focus on interpersonal relationships in the midst of desperate times without resorting to something as crude as this always seems to turn out to be? The zombies are ALREADY relics of humanity. I don’t need a message like that hammered into my skull with a mallet. The only movie that’s ever pulled this off, for me, is the original “Night of the Living Dead” (sorry “Dawn of the Dead” fans, Vern and I have had this argument before and I agree with him about a lot of it, but it’s still far too much of a tonal shift for me. Guess I’m one of RBatty’s “people out there”, at least in this case.)

    I think I’d have loved “28 Days Later” if it had ended with the wild horses. But instead – and this goes back to my complaints about “Superman Returns” – they kill off the most likeable character AGAIN, and in such a stupid way. I get that the blood drop thing establishes that anybody can be infected at any time, but really… they had to do that?! Then you get the anonymous squaddies who are, almost to a man, such an obviously sadistic bunch that you might as well hang “rapist” signs around their necks. Led by Christopher Ecclestone in what’s easily the worst role I’ve ever seen him in; this might be the only time I ever use the sentence “well I’d make a more convincing military commander than that guy!” Watching Doctor Who try to pull off Tough Military Leader isn’t cringeworthy – there’s a lot of worse performances out there – but it sure as heck doesn’t come anywhere near to convincing either. I kind of like the idea of the chained zombie who acts as a “test”, and that dinner scene (where the squaddies are trying to maintain their civility while still obviously eyeing the two women like pieces of meat) works in terms of pure creep-factor. But overall, I think it’s just an awful way to end a film that, if it had ended half an hour earlier, might honestly be considered a modern horror classic.

    I disliked “Trance” a lot. It looked good and sounded ok; but you can’t give away your final twist in the first twenty minutes of your movie, and then spend the rest of it trying to mystify the audience about how much of what they’re seeing is actually real and how much is just planted memories. What is real? What isn’t? And will you care? (You probably won’t.) I guess I should give it some credit for putting me to sleep, but I can hardly recommend it on that basis.

  24. It’s always tricky to criticise a movie for a “tonal shift”, because often that’s what makes a film interesting. I kind of love it when a film suddenly makes me a little uncomfortable and forces me to consider a new perspective on something. Think of how many daring and unconventional films come out of Korea precisely because of how they haphazardly mix tones and genres.

    That said, I don’t think it really works here. It’s still a good film, the slasher section at the end doesn’t kill the movie for me, but I’d definitely like to see the alternate-universe version of this movie that deals with the tension and pressure of their situation in a more grounded way. Slasher movies are a dime a dozen, but true science fiction is pretty much dead.

  25. Crustacean – I agree with a lot of what you’re saying, and I am fully aware that the vast majority of what I’ve written here is completely subjective points that I’d find hard to defend objectively. (Well, maybe not the thing about “Trance” giving its twist away in the first twenty minutes and then working to the final reveal of that same twist for the rest of the film.) The trouble with a “tonal shift” is that it runs the risk of making the film LESS interesting, not more so. There’s also the risk of introducing a transition that is more than the audience is willing to take (a great example of this is “IP Man” – I loved the first part of the film, very much liked the second part of the film, but wished I’d seen more of what came in between. Just telling me “Hey, the Japanese have invaded now! Surprise!” in an expository text blurb does not work for me.)

  26. hey now, 28 DAYS LATER was what got me into zombie flicks and was almost single handily responsible for the zombie revival of the modern day, so it’s a movie that’s worthy of a lot of respect

  27. I’m writing prequel “28 Days Before” where Cillian Murphy plays a bike courier in London. It sounds boring but because you know he will soon go into a coma and wake up in a world of rage filled zombies its actually quite poignant.

  28. I think it’s entirely a failure in execution, not in concept. The Slasher section is a natural progression, and I like the ideas it’s introducing, but the awful blurred-shakycam aesthetic that gets introduced completely ruins that part of the film. I still have no idea what’s going on through half of that, even re-watching it and paying super close attention. It’s just a really bad visual choice, and it’s a real bummer, because the rest of the movie, including the final ending, works great. Like you could literally have all the same things happen and just film it coherently, and the movie would go from an 80% to a 100% in my book.

  29. bullet3 — I also think it’s weird that Boyle so badly visually communicates the geography of the ship. The idea of a crazed killer in this tiny enclosed world should have been a great claustrophobic nightmare. There’s nowhere to run! But it never seems like the crew runs out of places to escape to, nor do you get a sense of how the whole structure interconnects. A more fastidious filmmaker would never, ever let that final chase section happen without surreptitiously familiarizing us with all these elements beforehand.

  30. Bullet3 – I completely agree with everything you say. In particular I just don’t get the decision to blur the scenes involving the crazy man. What kind of aesthetic were they going for when they made that decision?

    I think “28 Days Later”‘s last third is a failure of concept AND execution. With “Sunshine” though, I think the concept absolutely could have worked, but the execution ruins it.

  31. I think referring to the last act of Sunshine as “the slasher section” is putting unfair expectations on how that final act should be portrayed. Sure, there’s some crazy guy going around killing people, but that doesn’t mean that we are now suddenly fully engaged in a dedicated slasher film.

    Boyle, to me, seemed much more interested in exploring abstract techniques to convey the mood and themes of the story than following the rules and aesthetics of the slasher subgenre.

  32. Maxiao – If you’re really ambitious you’ll incorporate a cameo by Joseph Gordon Levitt’s Premium Rush character. Corporate synergy!

  33. Vern, any chance of looking back on Kingdom Of The Crystal Skull when you do the Star Wars prequel retrospectives? I get the same “I don’t think I like this film but I can’t take my eyes off of it” thought whenever either four of them pop up on tv. Great writing as always

  34. CC, I will definitely consider that, although I don’t want to make too many promises because I already have a backlog of projects I want to do. For the time being you have my review of the movie from when it came out which is already a pretty detailed defense of it.

  35. I don’t hate the prequels. I kinda enjoy them, actually.

    Episode 3 is by far the best one. Hell, I’d go as far as calling it a good movie. I watched the 3D re-release of Episode 1 in cinemas and had a genuine good time (except for those damn glasses turning a bright and colourful movie into a dim blur). It has, strangely, aged rather well. Only watched Episode 2 once, but remember enjoying it.

    Can’t really see how they’re any better or worse than most big name blockbusters.

    Holy crap, why didn’t anyone think of getting Danny Boyle to direct Episode 7? I’d pay big money to see that.

  36. That’s fair enough Vern. Thanks for the reply and I sincerely look forward to whatever you have lined up.

  37. That’s exactly the thing, Knox. As misguided as the prequels are, they’re a good time. I think a half decade of Transformers and stuff like Star Trek Into Darkness was maybe needed to put them into perspective. Or I’m mellowing with age or something. On a side note, the commentaries on those Phantom Edit versions are well worth checking out. They tidy up The Phantom Menace quite nicely and manage to lose forty minutes of Attack Of The Clones without affecting the plot. Whether it’s as entertaining or not is debatable but they’re a great curiosity. I think 1970’s George Lucas might have approved with the idea of people cutting their own versions of his films, at least.

  38. grimgrinningchris

    September 7th, 2013 at 1:16 am

    No idea what prompted it, but I’ve suddenly become extremely curious about Vern’s theater-going snack habits.
    Popcorn or nachos? Butter? Flavored seasoning? Cheese, jalepenos?
    Does he go with the large combo thinking “hey, it’s a bargain and I get free refills” and then never make it back to the counter to get any refills?
    Candy choice? Something fruity like Skittles or Twizzlers or Sour Patch Kids… or chocolate sweet like Goobers or Milk Duds?
    How do you feel about soft pretzels? Mustard? Salt?
    I really do care and I really do not know why.

    Fuck. Now I’m hungry for movie theater snacks. If it wasn’t 3am I’d hit up the very next showing of ANYTHING just it get some in my mouth.

  39. defending the prequels makes Baby Jesus cry

    yeah, they had some well done special effects and action sequences but GODDAMN what fucking atrocious dialogue and acting, some of the worst ever seen in a mainstream movie bar none

    remember folks, those were the movies that all but ruined blockbusters forever, they lowered the bar permanently for the entire art form of movie making, ever wonder why so many movies are fucking awful in this day and age? because the prequels proved to Hollywood that they didn’t have to try anymore, all they needed was a brand name that people recognize and some expensive special effects and BOOM instant cash, no longer do they have to worry about a script that makes logical sense, let alone is good or acting or anything that they used to care about, it’s ALL ABOUT THE BRAND

    the prequels are the father of every bad trend in Hollywood today save shaky cam (and 3D I guess), they’re just. not. worth. it. guys, they’re not worth defending in any way shape or form, you’re not standing up for a bullied kid, you’re standing up for the bully

    look, I know we like to be contrarians here and go against the nerd horde, but in this instance the raging fanboys are right and I can not in good conscience support a defense of those steaming piles of bantha poodoo Vern

    if I could I would erase those flicks from history TERMINATOR style, I’d be doing everyone a favor

  40. the whole saga of the STAR WARS series is such a strange and fascinating one, they even more so than JAWS started the blockbuster, only to kill them later on, it’s almost mythical in it’s own right

    a lot of people bemoan what the original STAR WARS did and while the 1970’s “New Hollywood” was great and all, give me fucking lightsabers over De Niro’s coke fueled acting any day, STAR WARS brought fun back to movies and I think that’s a good thing

    but man did we pay for it with the prequels, I’m not saying that I think there never should have been another STAR WARS movie ever again, but George Lucas should have been wise enough to understand that he created something that had grown to be far bigger than he was and allowed the prequels to be collaborative like the originals were instead of trying to do everything himself

    he did at the last moment though when he saw his son writhing on the floor in pain grab the evil emperor and throw him down a shaft (metaphorically speaking) by signing off to Disney and I respect him for that, but he may have been too late

  41. I think all those bad trends started happening long before the prequels, Griff.

    But hey, I’m more of a coke fueled De Niro kinda guy.

  42. it’s not that I’m against coke fueled De Niro, but if I had to choose between that and STAR WARS it’d have to be STAR WARS

    I mean it’s a pity we can’t have a world with both, but that’s the way it goes

  43. I thought the idea of rebooting a franchise originally came from the comic book business and then the moviebusiness adapted that model in order to create or sustain franchises.

  44. If there’s any industry more directionless than film, it’s the comics industry. Those DC and Marvel guys reboot their entire universe every 2 years. Crossovers and annual “event” storylines… Blegh. They’ve become so sales-driven that they’ve lost all perspective.

    I’m so out of that shit. The moment they go back to realising that people want a single storyline in a title, written by one writer, then maybe I’ll think about going back there.

    Anyway… Sunshine?

  45. Wouldn’t mind Boyle having a go at some lesser known superhero.

  46. What about Super Goofy?

  47. I was thinking Alan Moore’s take on Miracle Man, but okay.

  48. Knox: I am so with you on the comics industry, man. I am not a lifelong comics reader. I picked up my first comic (a standalone issue of a long-defunct Batman title) in 2000 at the age of 23 to have something to read on a long bus ride, and I slowly got hooked. Sales were in a slump at the time so the publishers let creators do what they wanted, and the result were a bunch of books that told their own stories and had their own flavor without a lot of editorial intervention.

    Cut to the beginning of this year, when I went cold turkey on the entire medium because I realized I just didn’t give a shit anymore. Things had been rebooted and reimagined so often that nothing held any value anymore. It was like a TV show that keeps the same premise but gets a new cast and creative team every season. I haven’t read a comic book since January and I don’t miss them at all. In the end, it’s all rather silly, isn’t it?

  49. So Knox, Majestyk…any thoughts on that whole Batwoman boondoogle?

  50. Exactly. On top of that, too many of these hotshot writers are starting to lose their fucking minds. Whenever Frank Miller or Mark Millar open their pie holes, I just wanna slap the stupid out of them. That’s what happens when nerds turn into “celebrities”. They completely lose their shit.

    I hear there’s some good indie stuff out there, but God knows where to find them. And I’m sure as heck not gonna weed my way through that minefield.

    I can vouch for one great title, though: Eric Shanower’s AGE OF BRONZE series. It’s about the Trojan War, and it’s brilliant. Not only is this guy damn good at telling a story, but he does his research. I starting reading it and thought “This is good, I guess”, but by Volume 3 I was knee deep and loving every panel. I feel like creating my own “YOU ARE ONE TALENTED MOTHERFUCKER” Award and inviting him to the handing-over ceremony.

  51. I have no idea what a Batwoman boondoogle is, but it sounds racy.

    P.S. I feel guilty for not talking about Sunshine.

  52. What, that book Greg Rucka was writing for a while? Was that a boondoggle? I didn’t have a problem with it. Rucka’s one of my favorite writers (both in comic and novel form) and the art was very distinctive, with all the ink washes and red highlights. I didn’t read it for long enough to see if it went anywhere, though.

    I’m also not exactly sure what Rucka’s thing with lesbians is. It’s not something that bothers me about his work, because he always makes them characters, not just mouthpieces, and he’s not in it for the voyeuristic thrills. But after awhile it seems like an aspect he feels obligated to include as part of his authorial stamp. Greg Rucka: lesbians :: John Woo: pigeons

    But seriously, what boondoggle?

  53. Sunshine is a great one which a lot of people seem to have forgotten about. For me, Boyle has become one of the most consistent directors out there. I haven’t seen all of them, but the ones I have are a great mix of artistic and entertaining.

    Griff- the 70s and early 80s proved that you can have both light sabers and DeNiro at the top of his game. They are not mutually exclusive.

    Knox- the Batwoman boondoggle is that DC nixed a lesbian marriage storyline so the entire creative team left. Good for them, I say. Quitting a high profile title published by one of the 2 big houses had to take some guts.

  54. Eh Batwoman had lost steam anyway. I like Williams III but he drags the fuck out of his stories to the point that reading them starts feeling like a chore. No skin off my hide. As long as Francis Manapul doesn’t walk away from The Flash anytime soon I’m good.

  55. Well, that does sound like a boondoggle.

    Way to jump right on the zeitgeist there, DC. Ahead of the curve as always.

  56. The issue is that DC doesn’t want ANY of their characters to be married, period. It’s why Lois Lane is no longer Lois Lane-Kent it’s why Iris West is no longer Iris West-Allen. It’s why Jay Garrick is no longer married to Joan Williams etc.

    It’s stupid in the sense that marriage is an eventual part of reality and those marriages added new dimensions to the dynamic of those relationships for years but I guess it’s just not a relateable bit for most of the men children that read their comic books. Other speculation is that it creates problems because the villains will just go after the heroes’ wives like that’s any different than the villains going after the heroes’ girlfriends and that they’re afraid that marriage will “age” their characters which is stupid since even people in their late teens get married everyday.

  57. Wow. That’s slightly less awful than homophobia/perceived homophobia in fanbase, I guess. I’m not the world’s biggest fan of marriage in general but it’s still a pretty stupid and anti-creator editorial edict.

    I stand by my earlier point: It’s all rather silly, isn’t it?

  58. So no Batman & Robin honeymoon special? Those NAMBLA guys are gonna be pissed.

  59. Mr. Majestyk – It is pretty damn stupid. DC has a lot of LGBT characters so they try to seem all progressive. I mean they even made the original Green Lantern the new poster boy for gay superhero leads and Apollo and Midnighter from The Authority have also been folded into the mainstream DCU (though their marriage of course was conveniently retconned).

    Yet Marvel is the one to actually pull the trigger on having a gay marriage despite being a bit more conservative in their approaches lately compared to DC. The current DC editorial regime is full of knuckleheads that would make the three stooges seem like scholars. Especially since they hired Bob Harras the man responsible for a lot of the shitty 90’s Marvel mandates as the new EIC.

    Knox – Considering that the last Robin was Bruce Wayne’s son and is now 6 feet deep I’m sure that will piss off necrophiliacs and incestuous types just as much. At least the latter still has Scarlett Witch and Quicksilver over at Marvel I guess.

  60. For the record I don’t care much for marriage either but yeah crippling your writers’ imagination in such a broad way isn’t exactly the most sensible thing for business in a creative industry.

  61. Chris, I’m not a big movie snacker but when I go to the Cinerama it’s hard to resist this chocolate popcorn they have. Holy shit.

  62. Griff, I wholly reject every point you made about the prequels there. You really think they weren’t trying? That’s just completely ludicrous. You’re not old enough to have that kind of blind, logic–free hatred of them. Where are you getting this?

    Are movies really all so terrible now, and in what way does that terribleness relate to the prequels? Other than their obvious pioneering of many technologies that everyone else uses I don’t see how other movies are much like them at all. No other movies have the same feel which is why I think they’re special and also why you’re able to single them out as allegedly being so horrible. Lucas was doing something completely unique, making huge blockbusters as a completely independent studio. If it was a cash grab he would’ve made them in the ’80s. He even made that Star Wars TV show by entirely making and producing 100 episodes or something and then selling them to TV.

    But alot of people didn’t like what he did so now instead of a talented crazy person making his unique, idiosyncratic movies we have a corporation hiring some dudes to make movies based on this “property” that they bought for 5 billion dollars. Sadly that’s what these fans obsessed with “franchises” and “intellectual property” and “the brand” deserve. We’ll see how it goes. I hope they’ll be good movies but I bet they won’t have that same personality.

    Anyway, I’m trying to write a piece about this topic. For now let’s worry about SUNSHINE prequels.

  63. SUNSHINE might be the only movie in which characters suffer from both extreme sunburn and extreme frostbite. Some die in literally the most powerful fire imaginable, and some die in ultra-subzero temperatures. Pretty & sonorous, it’s Danny Boyle’s best, aside from his Olympic Opening Ceremony.

    Sometimes I sneak in food to the multiplex, like gatorade or protein shakes, sometimes honey roasted peanuts, sometimes a cheeseburger. Hard to do in the summer — it has to be jacket weather for the big stuff. But when I attend a nice arthouse or one of those new-ish gourmet cinemas, I’ll hit up the concession stand for a glass of wine or a pint of Boddington’s and maybe some chicken wings or carrot cake, which somehow costs the same at the nice cinema as a large shitty popcorn costs at an AMC or Regal.

    I wish I could sanitize my brain & memory of all internetization of the STAR WARSes, all exposure to online reaction / analysis / whinery / selfish misappropriation of the unique Lucas sensibility; as we stated on the DISNEY’S STAR WARS thread last year, Vern, Mouth, and a couple others in this world are fans of all of the feature movies. It’s well made space shit with unique action sequences and a good mixture of opera & comedy-tinged adventure. I’m for it.

  64. Yeah as much as I dislike the prequels they had some cool quirks here and there and definitely had character. I mean as sterile as they come across at times they still go out there and clock you over the head with things you wouldn’t see coming or probably wouldn’t get from other filmatists.

    Particularly in EPISODE II like the diner being ran by a fully functioning 4 armed alien instead of casting a conventional dude in prosthetics & a chef hat or a planet with a perpetual storm going on. Or the race pods and the concept of midi chlorians. It was just inventive stuff you could see coming from the mind of a kid who grew up watching 1950’s serials at the matinee.

    He created elements that truly felt alien and different which is appropriate for a galaxy far, far away. On top of that Lucas gets a lot of flack for not knowing how to direct actors but his staging of setpieces is damn near operatic in scope especially compared to a lot of modern filmmakers and their lack of geography and emphasis on shaky cam.

    The opening of EPISODE III and the chase throughout Coruscant in EPISODE II are 2 of my favorite sequences in the entire saga. I don’t know if I’d ever pay full price for the prequel trilogy but I’d buy at a great discount just for all of those things alone. Despite the shitty dialogue, crappy performances, faulty metatext and illogical plot points.

    I actually kinda fear for EPISODE VII because I’m of the belief that Bad Robot is just a geeky Platinum Dunes. I expect something that is by the numbers and generic similar to Abrams’ first STAR TREK joint (never saw the sequel and likely never will). A movie that doesn’t function as it’s own independent movie functioning by it’s own laws but more so one that is like a checklist of things that will make fanboys cream their jeans. Not something more uncompromising and personal to the filmatists like the prequels were for better or worse.

  65. Vern’s original SUNSHINE REVIEW was so much better than this remake. Personally, I’m ashamed to have finally allowed myself to take part in this travesty. The first one had heart. He obviously sold out and was just typing this thing up because some corporation told him it was a way to make more money. He abandoned his creative ideals and turned SUNSHINE REVIEW into nothing but an intellectual property, a brand, a greedy franchise. I bet the next SUNSHINE REVIEW prequelmakeboot, ELECTRIC BOOGALOO IN SPACE 3 SUN 3 SHINE, will be in 3D just so he can get more of our moneys, the soulless sellout fuck.

  66. Broddie – Whatever the reason, that Batwoman mess gave DC a public blackeye. You would think somebody knowing any better would’ve seen this coming.

    Besides why not let that storyline finish? No offense to BW, but she’s only a small blip in the grand scheme of things. Its not like [redacted] or Superman or a major character where a change in canon (like Superman getting married back in the day) changes alot of shit across the banner. Its like how James Robinson took an obscure character in Starman that nobody cared about and more or less re-invented him and created an impressive mythology. Why? Because he was Starman, there was nothing to lose if that went belly up.

    You might disagree, but I wonder if DC shot themselves in the foot again by refusing to cave in to the complaints, digging in with that “anti-marriage” mandate?

  67. When I watched THE PHANTOM MENACE in the theatre,in 1999 or whatever year, little did I know the amount of shit it would stir. It´s a flawed movie, yes. But it is an entertaining space adventure. The only thing that made me grind my teeth a little bit was the flimsy midi-chloridians explanation, but it is not something I lose sleep over.

    The STAR WARS prequels are fine, they have their quirks and awkward moments which makes them precious in their own way, in my opinion.

  68. Vern – I’m not saying the prequels themselves weren’t trying, I’m saying that it proved to the rest of Hollywood that they didn’t try, what I’m saying is that despite all the bad acting, bad writing etc they still made tons of money because they had STAR WARS in the title and there was no way anyone was gonna miss out on them, terrible or not

    it finally proved to Hollywood that they no longer needed to try with “high concept” plots or quality screenwriting or anything that they used to at least put effort in, even if they failed, no instead all they have to worry about is finding a franchise that people already care about and BOOM instant money

    why do you think there were so many damn remakes post prequels for example?

  69. * I’m saying that it proved to the rest of Hollywood that they didn’t have to try

  70. What about INCEPTION? Is that not a high concept-movie that succeeded? I think you are generalizing too much here,Griff.

  71. I know what he’s trying to say, though. Let’s face it, we’ll watch any old shit if they put the right name on the poster.

  72. LucasFilm isn’t Hollywood, Griff. The STAR WARSes weren’t Hollywood.

  73. so? Hollywood still paid attention and took a lesson from LucasFilm

  74. I wouldn’t go as far as Griff, but I do think he has a point. I wouldn’t say that the prequels taught Hollywood that they didn’t have to try, but it did teach them about brand recognition. The idea of taking an existing brand with name recognition and trying to resuscitate it started happening shortly after the prequels. As a film series, Star Wars was dead for over a decade. I bet anything that the popularity of the prequels showed how much nostalgia and just recognizing a name moved filmgoers into theaters. Obviously, this occurred before the prequels, but you have to admit that it has jumped into high gear in the last fourteen years or so.

    When I go to the movie theater I usually sneak in Reeces Pieces. I don’t know why but I love the stuff. And they conveniently sell movie snack sizes at most convenience stores. Who ever thought of doing that is kind of a genius.

  75. No doubt about it that movie was a juggernaut. I remember seeing it opening weekend and there were people sitting on the steps and were like “fuck a fire hazard” of course they eventually got removed or just stood in the entrance ways. Last movie I saw before that where I remember people willingly sitting on steps cause they didn’t care was TERMINATOR 2.

    I saw that one in our old local movie house in washington heights, nyc which is basically a “hood” so people weren’t being ushered out like at the Loews theater downtown. They just didn’t care. Arnold was pulling a shotgun out of a flower and blasting on a liquid terminator. They roared like it was the super bowl in there at points. Still one of my most vivid childhood memories. PHANTOM MENACE’s audience though: dead silent. Even the kids were bored.

    Back then I was 15 and walked out of the movie massively disappointed. I didn’t vent on the net though. I just didn’t even bother with AOTC till it hit cable. I wasn’t into Star Wars anymore and just ignored it. I didn’t have the patience and THE MATRIX had spoiled me earlier that spring. To me personally THAT movie was on that STAR WARS level. THAT was the quintessential sci-fi hero story of that year. Though when I watch TPM as a 30 year old today I could tolerate it a lot more. I got more wisdom and patience now.

  76. Sitting on steps of course cause the house was packed like a damn arena. I think TPM at least in it’s first week gave that perception in the long run to hollywood beancounters that yeah you can revamp stuff for a new generation & make a truck load of cash off the nostalgia buck.

    What Lucas figured was “WB does it, Disney does it” then took initiative on some “why can’t I do it too?” shit. He could’ve only added so much THX to the original trilogy. He had to make SW relevant again. I respect the hell out of George Lucas despite the fact that I never saw RED TAILS or INDY 4 cause the prequels were more than enough.

  77. Broddie – I saw THE PHANTOM MENACE when I was 9 and I remember enjoying the action sequences, but being really bored and antsy during everything else

    AOTC was pretty much the same story, nice action, boring everything else (I audibly groaned during the infamous “sand” monologue), by the time REVENGE came out I was old enough that I almost didn’t see it all, it was basically pure curiosity that brought be back and that time even the action bored me, I was actually surprised at how little I gave a shit about what was going on, the whole thing was just a “shrug” to me

  78. RRA – “You would think somebody knowing any better would’ve seen this coming.”

    Guess you’re not familiar with Dan Didio. The guy is a full blown idiot and between him and Jim Lee and Bob Harras it’s a real circus over at DC. To put it to you in wrestling terms DiDio was the Dixie Carter of Executive Editors. Somebody clueless who is just a casual fanboy and doesn’t really have a passion or understanding of the comic book industry.

    The problem with DC is that they put these idiots that either don’t understand the comic book industry and it’s mythologies or helped lead it to it’s worse period in the 90’s as is the case with Lee and Harras. Then they pair them with Geoff Johns a guy who should only be a writer because he has no comic book boss experience. It’s a recipe for disaster.

    Every DC fan knows in a perfect world Mark Waid and Grant Morrison should be where DiDio and Lee are but it’s not a perfect world and those guys don’t play dirty politics. It doesn’t phase me because none of this is new to me. I’ve been dealing with this as a DC Comics fan for almost 10 years now. It’s not like at Marvel where even though I only read a handful of their books at least they’re not dicks to their creators. JH Williams III is not the first nor the last to go under the DiDio. Hell he’s not the first or last to go under the New 52 portion of his regime just ask Joshua Hale Fiakov or Paul Jenkins.

    Bottom line is as always among all the bullshit there will be some stuff I like to read. Batwoman sadly at this point wasn’t one of those books. It got stale to me 2 arcs ago so I dropped it cause JH Williams III has pacing issues. His art is phenomenal though. I think the book really will lose there. I do think if they put a competent enough creative team though it could survive. Doesn’t matter to me either way cause again I no longer read it anyway. End of the day among all the bullshit there will always be a few books that are worth my money. Same routine as always.

  79. *they put these idiots in charge

  80. I have a pretty low opinion of The Phantom Menace but one thing I do remember is that 1999 was the last time I felt genuinely excited about a summer blockbuster (obviously there’s 2008 and The Dark Knight, but I’m talking about that childlike non-cynical excitement…again, it may be an age thing) and for that reason alone (and only possible in retrospect), I now look back on it with some fondness. Even though it’s a bit shit. That summer we also had John Carpenter’s Vampires (I don’t know if this really qualified as a summer blockbuster but I was in Spain at the time and the posters for this movie were fucking EVERYWHERE), The Mummy and Wild, Wild West and though none of them were stone cold classics, I feel like they all had their heart in the right place, an opinion I can only really reserve for the recent Marvel movies (including The Wolverine).

    And I don’t blame The Phantom Menace for the rape/killing of my childhood enthusiasm for the summer blockbuster, because I think something like The Mummy could be held equally to blame. The prequels didn’t kill the summer blockbuster – CGI did.

    I can’t believe I’ve justified a film I’ve spent fourteen years hating but love them or hate them, to echo Vern’s point, the prequels had personality. I don’t want to jump on any recent bandwagons but I use the Transformers trilogy and Star Trek Into Darkness because I specifically remember checking my watch and wanting those films to end when watching them in the cinema and as many issues as I had with the prequels…well, they never bored me.

    Anyway, I just hope that Danny Boyle’s Return Of Captain Invincible reboot will be darker and…well, more intense.

  81. I’m not justifying Wild, Wild West by the way…it’s just one of those films that felt like it’s intentions were good but they messed up with the execution. I think Kevin Kline’s part was written for George Clooney so just imagine Kline playing Seth Gecko for a moment and you may feel the slightest twinge of sympathy for the filmmakers.

  82. I admit I was legitimately entertained by WILD WILD WEST when I saw it in theaters as a kid, it had Will Smith as a cowboy, steampunk shit (back when that kind of stuff was brand new to me) and Salma Hayek’s ass, what’s not to love?

    I’ve never understood why it has a reputation as being really terrible, it’s not a classic or anything, but terrible? not hardly

  83. Griff – Aside from the kids in my theater audience being inaudible I have another anecdote cause my siblings are from your generation more or less. My kid sisters were 7 and 5 at the time. I remember I tried seeing it again on video when I moved in with my dad and we watched it as a family. The youngest went to sleep halfway through and the older one was bored out of her wits and didn’t get the appeal of Star Wars till she watched the original trilogy when she was a bit older.

    Contrast that to when my dad showed me the original STAR WARS on laser disc back in the late 80’s and I was like 4 years old younger than both my sisters during TPM time yet that movie completely blew my mind away. That thought was kinda sad to realize. I remember by that point I said to myself “Man maybe Star Wars really is just for nerds. Even the kids hate it now.”

    I didn’t watch AOTC till like 2004 and I caught it by chance on HBO. I had heard all the hyperbole about it for a couple of years by then so I didn’t bother watching it with all that negativity fresh in my mind. Plus I had no real interest in it anyway cause again I was on some “fuck Star Wars” shit for a while there and didn’t even look in the franchise’s direction outside the original movies.

    By the time I saw AOTC I remember thinking it had the same flaws as TPM but it was much more pulpy and entertaining. This was probably the closest one to the old serials that influenced Lucas that Lucas himself made out of the 4 he directed. It’s been a couple of years since I last saw it but when I originally viewed it I vividly remember thinking it was like a Roger Corman space opera and I appreciated it as that. Worth watching for Yoda Vs. Christopher Lee alone.

    ROTS I actually saw in the theaters because of how much I actually enjoyed AOTC despite Hayden Christensen. That and cause it was the last SW movie ever at the time so I kinda went to support the team even though I was never an uber SW nerd (no expanded universe or toys for me just some video games and the OT) I do consider myself a fan. By then I knew what to expect out of the prequels so it was the first STAR WARS movie I saw at the cinema that I was entertained by since the Special Edition releases from 1997 of the OT because I just turned off my brain.

    Sure I laughed at “NOOOOOOO” just like everybody else in the theater but I also understood why Lucas went that theatrical with it. He comes from a childhood of early horror movies and sci-fi and adventure matinee serials. To him that type of hammy stuff still resonates heavily on the nostalgic tip but the important thing is that it was all him. End of the day I wanted to see Obi-Wan fight Darth Vader and Vader fall into the lava pit and get burned up. I got that. Other fans wanted more or expected more which considering the suspect quality & negative reception of TPM and AOTC was surprising.

    I don’t fault Lucas for doing whatever he wanted with the shit he created. If a really wealthy director who had been out of the game looking to flex his muscles and push cinema technology further again despite maybe not having the best story to tell more power to him.

    It wasn’t the first time that’s happened and at least this dude was completely independent with it. Those movies were ALL him. No compromise no bending back. This was a dude who started as an indie director with a dream and built an enterprise out of that dream. He did it his way and you gotta respect that. To relate this to badass cinema a bit I always viewed it like if Stallone was a writer/director first and never acted he’d be Lucas.

    I think the prequels were mostly harmless if I had to rate them all on a scale of 1 to 4 the whole trilogy is about a 2 or maybe a 2 1/2 definitely not a 3 and up though. With that said it was more entertaining than THE MATRIX RELOADED for what it’s worth which is ironic since I felt THE MATRIX completely smoked TPM in every way back in ’99. One important thing to note is I don’t really pair REVOLUTIONS with RELOADED I’m like Paul I think part 3 at least had something to say while part 2 said a whole lot of nothing.

    Also unlike everyone else I was never impressed with any of the action in it or effects. It was so overloaded with it that none of the action or effects really stood out. I was bludgeoned with them for so long I became immune to their charms. It was like the anti thesis of the original which was a movie where the effects and action really resonated cause they’re cleverly spaced out and used sporadically but effectively. It was just a very dull affair.

    Nevertheless like Lucas with the prequels the Wachowskis get props from me for at least never compromising with THE MATRIX RELOADED. I respect them for making the movie they wanted to make for better or worse. They stuck to their guns and did what they thought THE MATRIX 2 should be despite it being easier for them to phone it in and give the fans what they were expecting. Instead they slapped them in the face with something totally different from their expectations.

    WB let them make the movie they wanted which come to think of it is something they often do. So it’s like what they did with MARS ATTACK or (I apologize in advance for the Batman movie drop) THE DARK KNIGHT. Where they gave these directors a big budget to create their own sandbox and play in it till their hearts content.

    It’s like the closest hollywood blockbusters came to being fully independent. The first PIRATES, INCEPTION and (my apologies once more) BATMAN RETURNS & even SUPERMAN RETURNS also fall in that category. Meaning that the creative minds behind them didn’t have to really succumb to the wishes of their corporate overlords. They were given the keys to the cars and crashed the hell out of them and they did it on their own terms.

  84. CC – I saw VAMPIRES in theaters back in fall ’98 so we got it earlier here in the states. But that one was a pretty good theatrical experience for me too. One of the last great grindhouse movies and the last thing I liked from Carpenter.

  85. Broddie – agreed, I’m very fond of that film too…always felt like the last of a dying breed, which is probably fitting on some level. You mentioned the g word so I’ll use that as an excuse to confess my love of Tarantino’s Death Proof (also 2007 – see, I’m staying on topic…)

    I have this weird relationship with Death Proof as we didn’t get the grindhouse double-bill on this side of the pond but I did manage to watch a pirated copy at the time, which I loved. Now whenever I mention to anybody my love of Death Proof, to paraphrase Kevin Smith, I always get looked at as if I’ve offered to perform oral sex. But my point is, 99% of people I speak to have only watched the flawed extended version which was forced on the UK so I always wonder if my love for the film is based on the fact that I fell in love with the original edited version first.

    Probably not, I get the impression most people just hate the film in general which I do understand on some level but again it goes back to the thing that I’ll take a flawed film with personality over…

    Anyway, still staying on topic..? How’s The World’s End going down over there? There were zero laughs when I watched it with a full house a few weeks back and rightly so, I thought…it all felt kind of tired and lazy…just wondering if it plays better over there?

  86. “To put it to you in wrestling terms DiDio was the Dixie Carter of Executive Editors”

    Broddie – OH. MY. GOD. That’s brutal.

    As for Johns, you kinda must feel sorry for him because nobody online seems to respect his “authoritah!” at all. Not once have I quite fully understand what his supposed important position is when it comes to movies. I just get the impression (fairly or not) that he’s just a figurehead on that front.

    As for that “New 52” stuff, why do I get the impression that the worst thing to happen to DC in recent years was the Marvel movies? (Jesus GREEN LANTERN was like DC’s attempt at a Marvel film. Yeech.) Because no I haven’t partaked much in this new 52, it just feels like the Ultimates line that Marvel did in rebooting several characters*, you know designs to be used for the movies. At least that’s the vibe I got. I do agree with you about the burnout from the never-ending “major event storylines!” and characters randomly killed off for shock value/sales bump.

    *=To this day everybody still asks, WHAT THE HELL were they thinking by having Quicksilver and Scarlett Witch be fuck buddies?

  87. I still don’t buy the idea that Star Wars popularized reboots or whatever. The ’80s and ’90s were full of attempts to repackage old characters and TV shows and what not into box office money. Sometimes it worked, sometimes not. Some examples include James Bond, Mission: Impossible, The Addams Family, Leave It To Beaver, Batman, Dick Tracy, The Little Rascals, Car 54 Where Are You, Zorro, The Beverly Hillbillies, The Phantom, Bram Stoker’s Dracula, Greystoke, Dennis the Menace and about ten million other movies. So you’re blaming Star Wars because it was the only one that was such a sure bet?

  88. And of course we all knew Star Wars was always planned to have those 3 earlier episodes. So if anything it’s the new sequels, the Disney ones that Griff considered to be Vader coming to the light, that are more comparable to these attempts to stretch a series or “brand” into a new era.

  89. RRA – The thing is when the Ultimates line came about it was actually very fresh and pretty contained. The New 52 has retcons like every month. They clearly have no idea where they want to go. It’s like post-crisis all over again. Being made up as they go along. Some of it is really good though.

    Like Wonder Woman, The Flash and Aquaman are all in a better place than they’ve been in many years. Those books are some of the best on the market today. Earth 2 is also a surprisingly solid reinvention of the Justice Society. It still keeps the spirit of that book intact. Don’t know how much that will change now that Robinson (another writer who left thanks to DC editorial conflict) is out but that book had great world building.

    Green Lantern books are finally getting some much needed traction again now that Johns and Tomasi and company are gone. I liked those guys but the books needed new blood and new ideas. I like that the NEW GUARDIANS book is actually centered around literally new Guardians of the universe for example. I like the new big bad Relic and like his motivations. Red Lanterns is giving Guy Gardner some much needed purpose again. It’s all working out well there.

    Swamp Thing and Animal Man are accessible to new readers again and carry quality books in their own right. TBH the dullest books ironically belong to their most popular heroes Batman and Superman though they’re still readable and the one book that pairs them together is surprisingly alright too.

  90. Vern – I would dare say that most of those movies you mentioned are actually better than similar flicks made today, wasn’t I a few months ago comparing the CASPER movie to a modern SMURFS movie and how CASPER, as not great as it is, does still at least show a 100 times more effort than the fucking SMURFS movies?

    I never said Hollywood didn’t make movies based on old TV shows or whatever before THE PHANTOM MENACE, I was saying that they used to put more effort into it than they did now (most of the time anyway), TPM lowered the bar by being so damn successful while being so bad, prior to that and maybe I’m just crazy, but didn’t it seem like when a movie was fucking awful, most of the time it FLOPPED in theaters? as in it was a financial failure? I know that there were always bad movies that made money in the past, but it seems like it was rarer in the past and has only become more common today

    look, I know you can’t lay ALL of the blame on STAR WARS, a lot of things came along that were bad, like Michael Bay, I’m just saying that you can blame STAR WARS for a lot of it, I mean guys, the original STAR WARS changed Hollywood for ever, why is it so hard to believe TPM had almost as much impact?

  91. Vern I can’t tell if you’re joking or not but Star Wars was always just one movie.

  92. I don’t blame STAR WARS for shit. I do blame motherfuckers babbling for years and yearsandyearsandyears about STAR WARS on the internet for a lot of shit though.

    For example, right here we have a perfectly good movie about space shit, and it has explosions & thrills & stabbings and whatnot, and SUNSHINE barely broke even on its sub-$40,000,000 budget.

    Buncha pissy faux-fanboys sitting around writing trillions of words about special editions and non-special editions and VHS vs. dvd vs. theatrical vs. theatrical rerelease and Jar Jar this and George Lucas shouldacouldawoulda did that and who would win in a fight Boba Fett or Princess Leia (with Force training),
    and then when an original sci-fi movie comes out that might scratch some of those itches for you, motherfuckers stay home and stare at their plastic lightsabres.

    And then some years pass and motherfuckers suddenly start bitching about “Well how come Hollywood sucks and how come there’s no good original movies and how come movies that are like the movies that I like don’t make money?”

  93. Vern-

    So is this like chocolate FLAVORED popcorn or is it chocolate COVERED popcorn. Cuz if its the latter, you’ve now given me my third objective when I finally visit Seattle.
    1. Ride The Duck
    2. Visit Hendrix’s Grave
    3. Go to this magical movie theater that sells fucking chocolate covered popcorn!!!

  94. yeah, Seattle sounds better and better

  95. SUNSHINE OPERA

    It was always a horror/slasher film.

  96. Mouth has a point about the giant black hole of Star Wars debate. Even after requesting that we keep the talkback Sunshine-oriented, Vern can’t resist rising to the bait.

    I personally dread having to fight with you guys about the Star Wars movies. It’s not something I have a tremendous amount of investment in but for some reason it gets my dander up.

  97. Chris, it’s popcorn with some sort of chocolate glaze melted over it. You can also get it mixed with standard buttery/salty popcorn for that salty-sweet combo.

    Fuck Ride the Ducks, though. You don’t need to ride through downtown while some cheeseball plays the Village People and tells you about Starbucks. As far as tourist traps go the EMP/Sci-Fi Museum is way more worth your time.

  98. In Canada they got some caramel covered popcorn, which my almost-mother-in-law smuggled into the theatre, when we went to the movies last time. Now THAT’S some good shit!

  99. shouldn’t that just be Fuck the Ducks?

  100. CJ- caramel corn is common in America too

  101. I’ve never been to America, but it’s good to know that I could find that shit there too.

    As long as we are talking about country specific snacks: Don’t try German Oereos. The American/Canadian ones are better. (I guess because we got way more laws that keep companies from putting every toxic shit into our food. It makes out beer the best in the world, but our Candy less enjoyable.)

  102. Fudge Covered Oreos are the shiznit. IMO they’re the crack cocaine of commercially-made cookies. Fortunately, they’re so rich in flavor even a strong man is gonna punk out after about 5 or 6, so an overdose is highly unlikely.

    And as far as caramel corn goes, I thing everyone should try Fiddle Faddle at least once. Damn good stuff.

  103. The South African snack of choice is biltong. It’s the shit.

    You know what’s good in the Netherlands? They got this strawberry flavoured custard with tiny little Astros (known in Australia as Lunas) in it. Makes the custard nice and crunchy.

  104. Good point about people bitching about the Star Warses while great movies that might might scratch some of the space action itch, like Sunshine, barely make any money. But the thing is, fanboys don’t want smart or artistically interesting films. They want movies that fill all of the basic predetermined blockbuster quotas. Back when the superhero film was just getting off the ground in the early aughts, fanboys complained that these characters have depth to them and they should be treated accordingly. And then a well regarded director like Ang Lee is assigned to make the Hulk movie. And although he adds elements of camp (which I would argue are a component of the comic book anyway), he still treats the themes of the Hulk with utmost seriousness. But the fanboys go nuts, complaining about how boring the movie is. They aren’t satisfied because there’s not enough Hulk smashing shit. Take a look at the Avengers (a movie I really enjoyed). It made like a billion dollars worldwide. And then the director went ahead and made a wonderful adaptation of Much Ado About Nothing. And it made around four million dollars. Very few people actually went to go see it, because despite the geek cred that Whedon brings, there aren’t a lot of people blowing shit up.

    What fanboys really want are the by the number Marvel superhero movies. I enjoy these films, but for the most part, they are (well crafted) studio products. They certainly don’t have the personality of a Hulk or Superman Returns. And when they start to nitpick these films, it’s because they are simultaneously searching to recapture the feeling of watching movies when they were younger. It’s a wonderful experience to be caught up in a film when you are a kid. And it’s something you just cannot recreate as an adult. So these people are going to the theater over and over again looking for that first fix, but they’re not going to find it. This is really the underlying theme of the obnoxious saying, “Lucas raped my childhood.” Fanboys are still holding on to a period of their life that is great to reminisce about, but that you just cannot bring with you into adulthood.

  105. let me clear about my relationship with STAR WARS in case anyone’s thinking I’m just a “fanboy”, the first time I saw the “original” trilogy was the 1997 re=releases, STAR WARS was a thing I was aware of and enjoyed as a kid, but it was not a milestone to me like it was to people who got to see them on their first releases, JURASSIC PARK was a bigger deal to me as a kid

    so TPM arrived just a few years after I had seen the originals, my opinion is not based on having to wait almost 20 years for them or anything like that, I just don’t think they’re very good movies

  106. “Good point about people bitching about the Star Warses while great movies that might might scratch some of the space action itch, like Sunshine, barely make any money”

    I would argue that Sunshine and Star Wars have little to do with one another. Star Wars is much more about mythology than science or speculation; I’m not the first person to claim this but it probably fits better with the fantasy genre than with science fiction.

    A space travel anxiety movie like Sunshine is more interested in considering the “what-if’s” of human psychology in extreme situations; it’s no surprise to me that it doesn’t scratch a Star Wars fan’s itch. Meanwhile Avengers, Lord of the Rings, and Harry Potter DO fulfill the whole large-scale myth, heroic archetype saga thing and DO make zillions of dollars.

  107. grimgrinningchris

    September 8th, 2013 at 4:10 pm

    Ha, Vern. Riding the duck was a joke. A couple years back you had been bitching on here about them and about some loud, obnoxious barking over a loud speaker telling people to “ride the duck” and how much it irritated you- so I was just calling back to that. I admit to being a sucker for cheesy, overly touristy shit, but that just sounds retarded.

  108. When I used the term “fanboy,” I obviously wasn’t referring to anyone here. I was mostly just referring to people who like to speak in hyperbole and rush to the internet not to actually discuss movies but to get in their two minutes of hate. And obviously there’s no one to one connection between Sunshine and Star Wars, but I think if you sat down a Star Wars fan with an open mind in front of Sunshine, they would likely enjoy it. It’s the whole conundrum of people who like to complain about movies, whether that’s to nitpick unimportant details or the fact that there are too many sequels, prequels, reboots, etc, but they don’t actually spend the time to search out interesting little gems that don’t cost hundreds of millions of dollars. I don’t particularly like the prequels, but I’m not about to complain about George Lucas supposedly molesting me because of it.

  109. That’s funny Chris. I’m relieved. I thought maybe some relative recommended it to you.

  110. I probably shouldn’t admit it to this crowd, but I’ve ridden the Duck & it wasn’t that bad. I can see a hard-boiled guy like Vern refusing to ride it, but sweet little lady that I am, when my mom wanted to go on it, I went. Not that I think Vern would refuse to do something if his mom wanted to do. I just mean, shit, I rode the Duck. I learned some stuff I didn’t know about Seattle & I was embarrassed to be seen on it. The best part, though, was that the driver wanted us to make a ca-ching noise every time we passed a Starbucks & when I was getting off the boat/vehicle/shamemobile I heard some tourists with either a German or Scandinavian accent asking him what the ca-ching noise was all about. Welcome to the States – we aren’t always this dorky.

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