Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Creative Control: Good or Bad?

As you've probably heard if you follow such things, British director Edgar Wright is out as helmer of next year's Marvel movie Antman. If rumors are to be believed, Marvel had a problem with some aspect of the script and Wright wouldn't change it. Supposedly the production is still on schedule. We'll see. 

This production was doomed from the start but not for reasons you'll probably catch around the 'net. First Wright wanted to go with Antman #2 Scott Lang instead of Hank Pym. Say what? To me, and I know I'm probably in the minority, he's way more interesting than Lang. (At least for the first movie...) Lang stole Pym's suit to save his daughter from criminals. (Did I mention she's also dying?) To me, it's like going with Guy Gardiner instead of Hal Jordan for Green Lantern... Anyway, Pym is an arrogant scientist (basically an alcoholic version of Big Bang Theory's Sheldon)  who figured out how to make things shrink and grow.  His love interest is socialite Janet Van Dyne; basically more Penny than Amy, if we continue the BBT analogy, also known as Wasp. (Janet would've been the Lang's love interest in the movie 'cause that makes sense...)

Marvel has liked strict control over their properties even before they started making their own movies. True story: She-Hulk was created so the Incredible Hulk TV showrunners wouldn't capitalize on the "success" of The Bionic Woman and create their own version!

In the comics, Antman and Wasp were Avengers before Captain America and the soon to be added Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver yet they're pushed off into Phase 3 of Marvel's cinematic multi-year plan? What the hell is that? It's Big Bang Theory with super powers!  Hank is Sheldon, Tony "Ironman" Stark is Howard, and Bruce "Hulk" Banner is a combo of Leonard and Raj.

Anyway, this got me thinking about if creative control is a good or bad thing. Back in the day at least, Star Trek novels were more controled creatively than Star Wars novels.  Author Barbara Hambly wrote the Trek novel Crossroad where this tentacled black monster from another dimension took over the Enterprise.  It sucked. She then wrote the Star Wars novels Children of the Jedi and Planet of Twilight which were fantastic. On the other hand, Vonda McIntyre's novelization of Star Trek III: The Search for Spock was damn good but her novel written for the "other universe", The Crystal Star, was boring as hell.

To sum up: Some writers need to be reigned in while others chafe too much and still don't follow instruction.  The trick for Marvel will always be finding that right balance.                  

Sunday, May 04, 2014

Spider-Gnome, Spider-Gnome...

Welcome to the 750th edition of my musings! To celebrate the occasion, I'm giving you a two topic post AND the return of the exceedingly rare, if not now nonexistent, book review!

The most recent trip to the Four Lands was the spectacular Dark Legacy of Shannara trilogy. Author Terry Brooks has said that after he finishes the next three stand-alone novels, he wants to write something else for awhile.  And who can blame him? I was reading the previous two-booker in the hospital and my neurosurgeon, after seeing the book on the table, commented, "He's still writing those? I read those as a kid!" I myself started reading his books the summer between junior high and high school when I was recovering from back surgery.  (Actually it was his less financially, and maybe creatively, successful Magic Kingdom of Landover that I started with first thanks to my aunt working at a book distribution warehouse/center...) I should note that the last time he wrote something different (The Word and Void series) we recently got the Genesis of Shannara trilogy connected them as prequels! (I don't know if this was his idea or the publisher but I smell the latter...)

The Dark Legacy of Shannara books brought the series full circle all the way back to the second book ever written about the Four Lands, Elfstones of Shannara which is, conveniently, where they're starting the upcoming MTV series.  The Druids find evidence to the location of the other 4 elfstone sets that have been missing since the time of Faerie when the elves put up the Forbidding trapping the demons inside.  (It's kind of the elf version of the Phantom Zone...) Meanwhile, the barrier is breaking down.  In which book did that last happen? (Hint: I've mentioned it before...) To accomplish all the missions and side missions, Brooks has us revisit all four areas and has representatives of all the Races: humans, elves, dwarves, trolls and gnomes. And demons of course...

This was the perfect spot to end the series for awhile. In fact, they legitimately could have brought the series all the way back to book one The Sword of Shannara  as that was the weapon used to stop the surprise villain last time but a very minor quibble only someone with my writer brain and mental vault of useless trivia would think of...

Anyway, to close: a movie review! How does one celebrate Free Comic Book Day? Go see a superhero movie of course. And not just any superhero but Amazing Spider-Man 2.  You'll read many a bad review of this movie. I chalk the major complaints to: they're too young to have grown up watching Spider-man and his Amazing Friends (which holds up better than the first two or three seasons of Superfriends in my opinion) or they're the the typical film critic that believes blockbusters have to be Oscar-worthy and have a giant film canister up their ass.

There's a new group of critic now: every superhero movie must be super-realistic which has hamstrung the genre. Yes, I see the similarities between this movie and the horrible Batman and Robin but it actaully works here! I probably could write a whole blog post on how Batman and Spider-man aren't the same superhero but I won't because it should be fricking obvious. Yes, both lost their parents at a young age but that's where the similarity ends.  Batman is mopey and depressing. Spider-man chooses life. In battles, he eases the tension with wisecracks. You might say he is more kid-friendly. Holy God you can't have that! It would sell toys and we'd have to come up with another reason to bitch!

And unlike Spider-Man 3, there weren't too many villains. How many of you bitched Scarecrow was working for Ra's Al-Ghul in Batman Begins or that the Joker manipulated Two Face in  The Dark Knight? Remove the film canister and smack yourself in the face...

The other complaint I read was their was music playing all the time in the background. One, no there wasn't and two, seriously?

The movie is, of course,  not without it's problems. There were several unnecessary scenes at the end. I realize the writers wanted to set up the next movie but they, maybe more subtly, already did earlier in the movie.  Those who cared probably saw the scenes as well and those who didn't I'm pretty sure don't care anyway... 


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