New Movie Trailer: Mockingjay Part I

https://i0.wp.com/www.celebitchy.com/wp-content/uploads/2014/09/mockingjay0.jpgThe final installment of The Hunger Games trilogy is coming soon. Or, at least the first half of it. And the first trailer has arrived. As you can see from this just-under two minute promo, the revolution that began at the end of Catching Fire is now in full swing. The games are now over, in both the literal and figurative sense, with Katniss and the President openly sparring for the future of Panem.

However, it is also clear that the capitol has Peeta (Josh Hutcherson) in their clutches and is using him to stop the revolution before it spreads. And true to form, Katniss wants to go and rescue him. Man, that guy is truly annoying! He’s like the male version of Bella, another superfluous character who is always in need of rescuing. And worse, the love triangle is becoming disturbingly like that Team Edward/Team Jacob crapfest!

mockingjay-set-photos-16In any case, Julianne Moore is new to this film, playing the role of Alma Coin (leader of the resistance). Liam Hemsworth reprises his role as Gale, Woody Harrelson is back as Haymitch; and of course, Donald Sutherland is back in the austere and hauntingly-voiced role of President Snow. Part I airs this Nov. 21st, and Part 2 won’t be released until sometime in 2015.

Seriously, what’s with these money-grubbing Hollywood producers and YA franchises? First Harry Potter, then Twilight, and now this!

The Akira Project

Akira_explosionKatsuhiro Otomo’s Akira is hailed by manga and comics fans alike as being one of the best graphic novels of all time. Similarly, the film adaptation, which was also written and directed by Otomo, is considered a premier example of anime and the cyberpunk genre – one that has remained a cult classic to this day. In spite of that, no one has been able to create a live-action version in the almost three decades since it was released.

That’s where the Akira Project comes in. This non-profit, crowdsourced group launched their Indiegogo campaign in July 2012 with the intention of financing a live-action version of the film that was as true to the original material as possible. After spending three days shooting on location in Montreal, Quebec (go Habs!) and a year and a half in post production, and with the help of some 40 artists in 12 countries, they have finally released their version of a live-action trailer (seen below).

In addition to wanting to see a film adaptation that does Akira justice, this project is also a response to Hollywood’s abortive attempts to create their own adaptation of Akira. These began in 2002, when Warner Bros. declared that they had acquired the rights to the franchise. However, since that time, there has been a constant stream of news that indicate that the people meant to write, direct, produce and even star in the film keep changing.

akira_club03For example, from 2008 to 2011, it was rumored that the leading roles would be filled by either Leonardo DiCaprio, Zac Efron, James Franco, Keanu Reeves, Garrett Hedlund, Michael Fassbender, Justin Timberlake, Joaquin Phoenix, and Chris Pine have all been said to be the front runners for the lead role of Kaneda at one time or another, while Andrew Garfield and James McAvoy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt were all said to be considered for the role of Tetsuo Shima.

The names of those meant to director this film have also changed repeatedly. Initially, it was said that Stephen Norrington was on deck to direct, but in 2008, Ruairí Robinson was said to be the new front runner. In 2010, Warner Bros. was said to be in talks with Allen and Albert Hughes, but Lazar announced that summer that just Albert would directing. Most recently, Jaume Collet-Serra was said to be committed to the movie.

268170-akira06_superThe only name to stick to this project since 2008 is Andrew Lazar, who is committed to producing it. On top of all that, fans of the franchise have also been frustrated by apparent indications that the live-action Hollywood remake will be set in New York rather than Neo-Tokyo. This, combined with Collet-Serra’s apparent dislike for the original characters, has led to concerns that the movie that might result will be a bastardized, Americanized-version of the story that bears little resemblance to the kick-ass original.

Hence the Akira Project’s stated goal of being true to the original, as well as dedicated to making it happen. I tell ya, its a cool time to be alive when fans don’t have to wait for the major studios to get their heads out of their asses, and can make things happen on their own. For more information on this group and its progress, just head on over to the Akira Project website. And in the meantime, enjoy the kick-ass trailer:

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Movie News: Upcoming Sequels and Remakes!

With 2013 now in full swing and summer not that far off, it’s once again time to announce all the remakes, relaunches and sequels that Hollywood has in the works. And much like last year, it seems the majority of the industry’s money is being placed on some safe bets. In other words, instead of investing in new and exciting projects, they are banking on previous successes and old favorites that are sure to cash in.

Oh Hollywood! Do you remember when it was exactly that you lost your passion for cinema and became a tired, old hack? I guess it’s not your fault, what with all the money that goes into generating these movies and all the money that comes out. Money! Screws up everything. And we the public are probably to blame too. If we didn’t lap your shit up, you’d stop slopping it us wouldn’t you?

But this isn’t a thought essay on the merits of marketing to the lowest common denominator or the ethics of mass consumption. Here’s some of what Hollywood and their affiliates have in store for us for the year of 2013. Surprisingly, not all of it sucks!

Carrie:
carrieThe original movie adaptation of Stephen King’s classic tale of alienation, teen judgement and psychotic, telekinetic revenge was… well, a classic! So why do we need a remake? Is there any possible reason other than wanting to cash in on the fame of the original? Or could it be they simply want to take advantage of updated special effects for the sake of the bloody prom night scene? Originally due to come out in March, the movie has been pushed back to October to coincide with Halloween. Good call there!

Catching Fire:
IFor fans of the Hunger Games, this return to the popular Suzanne Collins series promises to be big, bold and profitable. In this installment, Katniss Everdeen (once again played by Jennifer Lawrence) is on a Victory Tour of Panem and realizes that her win with Peeta has triggered a series of rebellions. Photos from the shoot have begun to leak, and the movie is slated for release in November. Probably won’t suck and I am interesting in seeing it, just as soon as I actually read the second book.

Fantastic Four:
Fantastic-Four-reboot-Josh-TrankOnce again, Hollywood is making a reboot just a few short years after a previous adaptation was already launched. They did the same with Spider Man last year and this time around, its Fantastic Four. Josh Trank, director of Chronicle, is rumored to be man who will be directing, and there are hints that the remake will look and feel somewhat like Alien. No news yet on who is being contemplated to play the lead roles, but rest assured, the remake will be splashy and a likely draw.

GI Joe: Retaliation:
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After seeing its release pushed back a year in order to incorporate 3D, the sequel to the first G.I. Joe movie is slated to be released this May. In addition to starring Dwayne “The Rock” Johnson, Bruce Willis is also making an appearance as a character that seems no different than John McClain or Church from The Expendables. No telling why the studio felt it was necessary for the movie to be shot in 3D considering all the action and big names, but I would imagine it’s because they didn’t have a lot of faith in these things alone.

Man of Steel:
man-of-steel-logoNews of the Superman remake has already been making waves, and considering the writing team, cast, and the trailers that have been released, it seems that this movie might actually be firing on all cylinders. Still, one has to wonder why the franchise needed to be repitched so soon after the last repitch, which took place back in the summer of 2007 with Superman Returns. Wasn’t that movie decent enough, and didn’t it drop all kinds of hints that there was more to come? But of course, some projects run out of steam and you have to start over fresh. And this is one relaunch that I will actually be seeing and (fingers crossed) enjoying thoroughly!

Smurfs 2:
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Yeah, you read that right. It seems we can all look forward to a sequel to the original adaptation of that children’s cartoon that for some reason aired in summer of 2011. I mean there’s nostalgic appeal and then there’s this! What going on, Hollywood. Did some call for a retro free-for-all? Neil Patrick Harris will be reprising his role from the first, no doubt because he’s contractually obligated to! Oh, and its being shot in 3D, which of course means the studio has a lot of faith in it 😉

Thor: The Dark World:
Thor2Building on the success of the first movie, as well as the Avengers and all the other Marvel comics adaptations of late, this sequel sees Thor facing off against some “Dark Elves”, led by Christopher Eccleston (Doctor Who, 28 Days Later, Shallow Grave, The Others). Rumor has it that this movie will be directed by Game of Thrones veteran Alan Taylor, who’s apparently bringing some of the same realism he brought to that series to Asgard. Will that include blood, guts, and plentiful nudity? Guess things got a little darker and dirtier since the first one!

The Wolverine:
wolverine_prequelThe third prequel in the X-Men franchise, this one once again focuses on Wolverine. Going with a storyline which is big with the fans of the original comic, this movie tells the story of how Wolverine went to Japan to learn the ways of the Samurai. Hugh Jackman will be reprising his role as the title character, and seems to have undergone some kind of surgical procedure to remove every ounce of fat for the role! Seriously, Hugh, I hope that’s photoshop because you don’t so much look buff as scary!

And that’s some of what the great filmakers of LA LA land plan to subject us to. Do you ever sit back and wonder just how many starving children could be fed with all the money that goes into financing these projects? Of course, I can’t criticize too much since I’ve already admitted that I’m planning to attend more than one. And what’s more, there are a few projects coming out which do seem exciting, original, or just plain overdue. But that’s another post!

Source: IO9.com

“A Day Made of Glass”: The Future of Touchscreens

Earlier this week, I came across some interesting news regarding the creation of flexible, paper-thin displays. Known as AMOLED technology, companies like Samsung, Sony, Nokia, and other communication giants were all working towards the development of digital devices that would be controlled through manipulation and not touch. In addition, they would thinner and lighter than any and all previous digital devices, and virtually immune to destruction.

Well it seems that touch screens are not to be outdone yet. In the midst of all the fanfare about the future of communications and information technology, a company by the name of Corning had its own vision of things to come. In their world, display screens can and will be built into panes of what they call “Gorilla Glass”. These panes could be the screen on your next smartphone, or the window in your bathroom, the panels in your car, on a wall in the street, or the basis of portable computing.

Just imagine, information kiosks on the street made out of large panels of illuminated glass, tablets that are less than a centimeter thick and completely transparent, and a handheld mirror that can also receive text messages, email and incoming calls. Much like flexible displays, this sounds like something out of a truly awesome science fiction novel, or a somewhat awesome Hollywood approximation thereof.

For some time, speculative writers have predicted that the future of computing will lie in “smart surfaces” and “smart materials” that are composed of computers and displays so tiny, that any flat surface can be made into a dynamic display device or interface. Once again, it seems that reality is catching up to fiction, and not a moment too soon either! I don’t know about you, but it’s nice to learn about technological innovation that doesn’t evoke feelings of dystopia or apocalypticism.

Check out the video below to see what Corning has in mind and how they will likely effect future generations and how they interact with their everyday environment:

The Hunger Games You Didn’t See

You know how Hollywood will announce an upcoming movie, and will usually precede any trailers by releasing special info like who’s attached to direct and who will be starring in it? Believe it or not, there’s actually an interesting selection process that leads up to this. Yeah, I was surprised too. Given what I’ve learned from Entourage and Hollywood’s many movies about itself, I would have thought that the whole process was done behind closed doors, and involved a bunch of sleazy executives, some martinis and many, many lines of coke!

But according to a recent article from Blastr, the process is a bit more complicated. It seems that prospective directors are also expected to make pitches to the producers, and often do so in the form of videos. When The Hunger Games was first being conceived, that’s precisely what prospective director Kevin Tancharoen did. Tancharoen is relatively new to Hollywood, the man behind the 2009 remake of Fame and the guy who has been on the radar of the sci-fi fan universe ever since he released a test film for the proposed Mortal Kombat: Rebirth film.

The trailer featured below is the mashup he created to show to the producers. It features footage from numerous movies, including Harry Potter, Serenity, Gladiator, Ultra Violet, X-Men, 300, Lord of the Rings, and a slew of other science fiction and action films. In the background you hear key lines of dialogue featured from the original novel, giving a sense of context and direction to the montage. Having watched it, I can tell you that it’s not bad, provided you don’t mind that not a single scene is original! Of course, Tanchareon didn’t get the job. But there’s still the sequel to think of…

Which reminds me, I’m due to review the movie they did make. I finally got around to watching it, and I think it would be nice to do a blow by blow comparison between it and the original novel. Expect it soon!

 

 

 

 

Of Remakes and Smart People Making Stupid Arguments

In my position as a social sciences major, I have had many opportunities to witness dumb ideas argued intelligently; cases where the stupidest premises imaginable were made to sound respectable and even plausible by academics who were in the habit of injecting cool rhetoric or intellectual claptrap into weak ideas. If nothing else, it demonstrated to me that there are apologists and defenders who invest way more thought into their arguments than other people do into their work.

One case involved a Humanities Major (I assume) arguing that Brittany Spears song “I’m Not A Girl (Not Yet A Woman)” was a possible indication that the then starlet was a closet post-modernist Hegelian philosopher. Another had to do with the hidden genius behind George W. Bush’s many uses of inventive wordplay. And both were patently brilliant in the way they tried to make the completely mundane and painfully stupid sound smart. I tell ya, you have never heard so many smart argument employed in the defence of such stupid subject matter!

But this article really took the cake for me. Entitled “Why Remakes Are One of Our Greatest Achievements as a Civilization”, this article asserts that there is a connection between the many, many Hollywood relaunches of late and some of our most venerated cultural traditions as a species. And here too, I had to doff my cap the writer. Never have I heard so much thought dedicated to pure thoughtlessness, so much intellectual rhetoric employed in the defence of something so undeserving.

First, the author asserts that remakes are really a sublimated form of folk tales, resembling how cultures in ancient times would tell the same basic stories across vast stretches of space and time. Second, they deconstruct originality by claiming it is a largely 20th century construct that was invented by Modernists hoping to make a break with the past. The conclusion? That originality is a myth and that retelling the same story is a sign of organic creativity… I guess.

Ignoring the fact that we are talking about Hollywood remakes for just a second, I noticed two fatal flaws in this argument. One, Hollywood remakes are deliberate attempts to capitalize on old ideas by simply updating them with the latest in special effects, or by simply redoing an old idea which was shown to have worked in the hopes that it will again. Only in the most farfetched ways does that resemble the organic process of how stories spread across time and space, evolving in terms of detail but remaining similar in theme.

Second, originality may have been a Modernists obsession, but it’s hardly a recent invention. In fact, writers of all ages have lamented the lack of originality in their own  generation and wishing they had lived in earlier times, when writers of great renown established reputations by being the ones who left an indelible mark on their cultures literary traditions. Ancient Greece’s own Aeschylus said his tragedies were “composed of the crumbs from Homer’s table”. Shakespeare’s own works acknowledge a huge debt to Christopher Marlowe, the man who invented blank verse Iambic Pentameter and inspired many of The Bard’s own stories.

Granted, nobody is 100 % original in any time, but to say it’s a myth is both cynical and a rhetorical dead end. And that fact that I’ve even invested this amount of thought into this argument makes me think that the authors of this and other such articles have pulled one over on me. But really, I just have to wonder… are there really people out there, so educated yet so bored, that they have to employ their argumentative and rhetorical skills to subject matter such as this. Have they nothing better to do?

In any case, here is the article. Note the comment, by me (houseofwilliams) in the comment section. I did my best to argue my previous thoughts in as succinct a form as possible. Feel free to leave your own thoughts, or do the mature thing (which I could not), and not not dignify such arguments with a response. And believe me when I say that I will be commenting on the summer or reboots and remakes shortly, and not in a particularly kind way 😉

Why Remakes Are One of Our Greatest Achievements