Quarantine Chat: Colony – The Film (Or Show?)

colony-finalHello readers! As we settle into the second (or for some, third or fourth) week of pandemic quarantine, I figured it’d be nice to help ease the stress of things to talk about something amusing and entertaining, even if, at this time, only hypothetical:

What if … a studio bought the rights to make Colony a feature of some kind?

It’s a fun hypothetical because there’s a lot of different ways you could do it. Film. Series. Animated. Live action.

Which one would you want to see? Or better yet …


Who would be the actors? Who would you want to see playing Jake, Anna, and Sweets? Who do you think could fill the shoes of the trio?

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OP-ED: Hollywood Clearly Doesn’t Want Video Game Films to Succeed

Okay, remember how I said I’d post tomorrow? Well, I’m posting today. You’ll get a post tomorrow. This news I just received … Well, it set me off, and a post had to be made.

I saw Sonic the Hedgehog over the weekend. And you know what? It was actually pretty dang good! But you know why? Only because Paramount reacted to the massive and rightly earned horror the public recoiled with upon seeing their “improved” version of the iconic character.

Sonic Redesign

Seriously. Remember this abomination of terror? The redesign of a classic character that Paramount did only because they apparently wanted to “prove” they could do it better?

Here’s what Sonic actually looks like in the games, by the way, so you can see how badly they screwed it up:

tsr_sonic

Only after being absolutely flattened by angry and horrified responses from the general public did Paramount push the film back and decide to change the final film into something actually resembling the the character whose name they were using, giving us this:

Sonic Redesign 2

Which, you’ll agree is a lot closer to the actual design of the character whose film again, they claimed they were making. You know, they just wanted to improve it.

So why am I talking about this (and exposing you to the horrors of Paramount’s “improvement”)? I mean, I didn’t even get into the absolutely awful choice of music for the first trailer, but I digress.

So why talk about this? Because I firmly believe at this point that Hollywood is doing its best to damage every video game property they can get their hands on. Why?

To damage the competition.

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My Thoughts on Terminator: Dark Fate

I was five when I saw Terminator 2: Judgement Day for the first time. Maybe six. Somewhere around there. My dad rented it on a VHS tape and watched it and let me sit there and watch it too.

My mother was horrified, which is a whole ‘nother story that from my perspective is pretty funny.

Anyway, my point is I saw T2 at a very young age and loved it. I mean, why wouldn’t I have loved it? Robots from a future where machines have risen up against man? And one’s a good robot while the other is a more advanced shapeshifting robot made of liquid metal?

Okay, I don’t need to explain to most of you why T2 is both so iconic and so good. Most of you know. And if you don’t, well, it’s really hard to go in blind, but the less you know past “An AI losing a war against mankind in the future sends back a machine to change the past by killing the kid responsible for the victory of the resistance” the better.

So why tell you this? Because I’m always interested in a new Terminator film when it comes out. I like the premise. I like the action. Drop a trailer for a new Terminator film and I’ll likely go see it. Save 3. 3 was … well, there’s a reason I’m not even bothering to italicize the title.

Actually, in fairness the other Terminator sequels haven’t been that great either. Salvation was at least somewhat novel but ultimately didn’t click for me, despite at least being memorable. Genisys was … How to explain this? Oh, I know. I literally forgot that the movie existed after I saw it. It wasn’t until a youtube algorithm spat me a link to a fight from it that I remembered “Oh yeah, this was a thing!”

Amusingly enough, a friend of mine said almost the exact same thing about it last night, noting that he too completely forgot the film existed after seeing it. Compared to T2, well … ouch.

Note: It does have some cool moments that are worth hitting on Youtube. So there is that.

But with all that, I was still excited for Terminator: Dark Fate. And at long last, I finally got to see it. So now, I’m going to tell you what I think about it.

I liked it. A lot.

No, really. I enjoyed the action. I loved Gabriel Luna’s fantastic portrayal of the REV-9, with plenty of very clear callbacks to the iconic Robert Patrick’s role as the T-1000 (if memory serves, Luna even stated in an interview that he underwent some of the same training to achieve the same effect). I enjoyed seeing Linda Hamilton again, and even if some of her lines were a little over the top I felt it worked as she’s clearly someone who’s still not over the … well, that’s a massive spoiler alert, so heads up, we’re going deep into spoiler territory here. If you want to avoid spoilers, well … stop reading here. And know that I enjoyed it quite a bit. It’s not T2, but it at least deserves a place on my shelf alongside it.

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OP-ED: The Gears of War “Movie”: Games and Hollywood

Hollywood has … problems.

Okay, that’s kind of a lame lead. We all know that. Everywhere has problems. Is Hollywood unique?

Well … yes. Most of their problems are pretty specific. And a lot of them are of their own, self-inflicted making. If you want a fascinating hour, go look up a podcast on how things like Academy Awards are determined and you’ll be exposed to an almost insane feedback loop wherein people make movies to please the academy so that they can win awards to make movies to please the academy.

Yeah, Hollywood is weird. But one of their more puzzling “problems,” the one that I want to talk about today, is their obsession with “fixing what isn’t broke.”

That’s right. I want to talk about video game movies.

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The Wandering Earth

So the biggest, most successful film ever in China hit Netflix earlier this month. To … little fanfare. Which some people online immediately took issue with, as The Wandering Earth is based (very, very loosely) on Liu Cixin’s The Three-Body Problem which, even if I wasn’t a huge fan of, did win a bunch of awards and was a huge deal in the Sci-Fi world.

So for The Wandering Earth to release without much fanfare on Netflix, there were a number of cries I recall reading in the news that it was an attempt to “downplay” China’s triumphant entry into the Sci-Fi film world. Or recurrent contributions to, depending on where you were reading. Opinions varied. China being a political hot-topic however, as you can imagine there was a lot of internet flame being built up around this film.

To be fair, some of it is justified. China is … not a great place. Their surveillance and their “social programs” aren’t exactly out of 1984 only because they’re honestly better at it, something that many have attributed to the success of The Wandering Earth in China (so I hear, if you went to see the movie, you got a few extra points put on your social score, which was one of the reasons the film was so big A reader from China has let me know that thankfully this was not the case here. PHEW!). China is headed by a now life-long dictator. People disappear. So when that government backs a big film, well … some people get cagey.

Anyway, I don’t want to dive any further into that side of things because it just flat-out gets messy, and re-education camps don’t have much to do with The Wandering Earth, which yes, I sat down and watched. Because it was the biggest film in China’s history, I’ve enjoy a number of other Chinese films, I do love Sci-Fi, and well, it was right there on Netflix. So … how was this film adaptation of The Three-Body Problem?

EDIT: Another reader let me know in the comments below that despite what I’d read and been told, this film is an adaptation of a short story by Cixin, and not Three-Body. Which makes a bit more sense. However, upon checking, not even the credits of the film point this out (in fact, they continue to refer to the material it is based on as a novel rather than a short) so the confusion may have some root in that.

Clearly, this changes the theory in the next paragraph. END EDIT.

Well, it has nothing to do with Three-Body. And I do mean nothing. I’m fairly certain that the only reason the book is mentioned at all in conjunction with this movie was marketing. I’d even venture to say that the script for Wandering Earth was probably already written, and the writers/producers saw it as a way to get their project green-lit. So they snapped up the rights to Three-Body, started work on their film, and put “Based on” in the credits.

But it’s not. To put it another way, Wandering Earth is as similar to Three-Body as Terminator is to Star Wars. They’re the same overall genre yes … but they’re pretty much unlike one another in every other respect.

Which was fine by me. I found the characters and plotting of Three-Body bland and predictable through most of its length, the only redeeming bit being the alien sequence at the very end. It was a novel written to explore ideas, rather than have character or plot. So I was alright discovering that Wandering Earth didn’t have any of it.

Again, none. I cannot stress this enough: If you are planning on watching The Wandering Earth because you loved The Three-Body Problem, you will be extremely disappointed with it. Because if it is similar to any Sci-Fi at all, Wandering Earth is much closer to Independence Day than anything else.

But that doesn’t mean it’s bad. Not at all. You just have to have the right expectations.

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The Captain Marvel Kerfluffle

Or, How Captain Marvel‘s Writing Team Showed They Really Don’t Know Their Craft.

There wasn’t supposed to be a post today. In fact, I am slamming this out in-between a work shift, a very important errand, work on book projects (my email box is FULL of comments, fixes, and changes from the awesome Alpha and Beta Readers I have), and then a big social event tonight. But this warranted a post.

Okay, backstory: This last weekend, with Marvel’s Captain Marvel about to come out on Blu-Ray, the marketing team released an extended version of a scene from the film.

Okay, fine, not worth commenting on so far, right? Well, this came with an additional caveat. It was marketed as “see a hero taking on toxic masculinity.”

Oh. Oh no.

As I pointed out in my thoughts on Captain Marvel, the largest weakness of the film by far was the writing. And … that’s come back to bite folks again. Badly.

As you can imagine, the internet exploded.

Hang on though. We’re still in backstory. The scene in question is an extended version of the scene in the film where—minor spoilers—Vers steals a guy’s bike and some clothes. In this new version, rather than her simply eyeing the bike and stealing it (which is justifiable in character at the moment), we instead get a scene where the biker hits on Vers in a pretty sleazy manner, only to get his conceptions crushed by Vers. She shakes his hand, then crushes it (you can hear bones crack and pop) and tells him to give her his bike and jacket or she’ll remove the hand.

Again … a bit more sinister, sure. Except … then the writers had to step in and explain that this was Captain Marvel being a hero and striking a blow against toxic masculinity. And … well, you can imagine how the internet has taken it. Both sides have, as you can predictably guessed, gone up in arms. Both make some good points, and both make some bad points.

However, the reason I chose to take some time out of my crunched day to post about this was because at its core, the argument Disney’s marketing team and the writers of Captain Marvel have claimed is … well, wrong.

Vers isn’t a hero in that scene. Not by any definition of the term. And to see people so aggressively defending Vers actions as “heroic,” even the writing team? Well … I think that’s in part why the Captain Marvel had the problems it had.

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How Marvel’s Movies (and Others’ Products) Have Changed Storytelling

Pop quiz for you. Don’t worry, it’ll be easy to answer. Have you ever read any licensed literature? Like Star Wars books, or Star Trek, or Warhammer, or … Sands, really any licensed property? Or maybe seen a tie-in TV show to a movie? Played a game of a movie or a book?

Basically, anything that could be considered “secondary canon?”

Right. I can already tell I’ve lost some of you. So let’s back up. Let’s say you are a movie producer. Better yet, you’re one of those producers like James Cameron who often writes, produces, and directs your own movies. And you’ve just made a hit.

Now, with this hit on your hands, someone has come to you and asked for a chance to expand on the universe! They want to write a trilogy of books that tie into the movie and extrapolate a bit after it! Awesome!

But … you don’t want to write a trilogy of books. You want to keep making movies.

“No problem!” says the publisher with the contract. “We’ve got an author lined up! They’ll write all three. We just need some notes on the movie, for you to answer some questions, and that’ll be all we need!”

So you sign the paper, and the trilogy comes out. You collect a small licensing fee, and a bunch of fans of your movie go on to read the book and form excited theories and ideas.

Except … a year or two later, when you sit down to write the sequel, you’ve got a bunch of ideas that don’t quite mesh with the world and liberties the author of the book trilogy took to flesh out their story. Not that you know this: You probably haven’t read them. Or, if you did read them, you’d know the score as being thus—

The movie came first, therefore the movie is the final word.

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