284 articles found by Bert Ehrmann
||James Cameron's Aliens at 30
The first time I saw the movie Aliens I was 12 years old.
A few years ago I caught a movie I’d never heard of from 1986 called Band of the Hand. Band of the Hand isn’t great, but the one thing it has going for it is that it’s weird. Really weird. AMAZINGLY WEIRD…
||ID4: Disaster on a grand scale
In the summer of 1996 the movie Independence Day (ID4) was everywhere.
||Grown up and animated
There was a time in the late 1970s and early 1980s when writers and directors started making animated features for grown-ups
||X-Men paved the way
The 20th Century Fox X-Men movies are probably the most important superhero franchise in movie history. While today they might be second to the more popular Marvel Studios movies like The Avengers, Guardians of the Galaxy and Captain America, none of those films would exist without X-Men (2000).
||Screaming for attention: 400 TV shows and counting
Late last year researches at FX Networks found that there were more than 400 scripted TV shows in 2015. Not 400 HOURS of scripted shows, but 400 DIFFERENT shows. Let
||Aliens: This time it’s comics
This year the movie Aliens turns 30. It’s a seminal movie for me — it’s still one of my favorite films and for a time was my favorite movie.
||Summer Movie Preview 2016
First up this summer, as it has been the last eight years, is a Marvel movie; this time a third Captain America film with Captain America: Civil War on May 6.
||Daredevil: The Punishment Due
The first season of Daredevil was the finest live-action superhero TV series since … well, since forever.
||What did Doc Brown know?
I found myself wondering the other day after watching a marathon of Back to the Future movies; what exactly did Doc Brown know about what’s about to happen to Marty McFly when we first meet Brown at the beginning of Back to the Future?
||After the fact: A youth spend seeing movies on tape
Now that I think about it, I didn’t see a whole lot of movies in the theater growing up.
||Better Call Saul: It's 'saul good, man!
I may be one of the only people you’ll ever know who didn’t adore the TV series Breaking Bad, and it’s not like I didn’t try.
||The X-Files and the steamroller of pop-culture
It’s surprising just how fast the TV series The X-Files went from one of the cornerstones of pop-culture to being crushed to gravel on the entertainment super highway in just a few short years.
||The Best Movie and TV Posters of 2015
2015 was a so-so year when it came to movie and TV posters. There were several strong poster designs in 2015, but in a year when dozens of movie and TV posters were released — there were only a few strong poster designs among the masses.
||Other kid's Star Wars toys
From as far back as I can remember I’ve always had Star Wars toys. I was two when Star Wars was released and tidal wave of merchandise that followed, but I have photos of myself getting the Death Star playset which was released in ’78 so that must’ve been one of the first.
||Judge Dredd and the Failed Politics of Mega-City One
The Judge Dredd comic book inside the pages of 2000 AD has been in publication the last 38 years and has spawned two films.
||Evil Dead vs the Gorezone
I was the teen who was into horror movies with a lot of gore; the “gore” the better.
||The Comic-Con blues
It was 20 years ago last summer that I went to my first real comic book convention. Then known as the Chicago Comic-Con but now the tongue twisting Wizard World Comic Con Chicago, it was everything I hoped it would be.
||Space: Above and Beyond - 20 years gone
I was excited about the TV series Space: Above and Beyond (SaAB) from the moment I first heard about it in 1995…
||Fall TV preview
There’s quite a few new series to look forward to on TV this fall. In fact there are FIVE series/mini-series based on influential novels set to premiere later this year on cable and streaming services and a few other interesting shows to boot.
||Meet a bloody end with Game of Thrones
Last spring the TV series Game of Thrones ended its fifth season on HBO. While I’m usually a huge fan of the series I didn’t much care for last season…
||Fear the Walking Dead numbers game
The series The Walking Dead is one of the most popular shows on TV with up to 17 million people watching each episode.
The 1998 movie Godzilla was on TV the other day, I watched a bit of it and was instantly transported back to that summer when I first saw that movie.
||To infinity and beyond with Kyle Reese and John Connor
Is it just me, or is the computerized Skynet system of the Terminator films and TV franchise just not up to snuff? Sure, it did effectively wipe out most of humanity in “Judgement Day” via nuclear war, but since then it really hasn’t lived up to its potential.
||Star Trek: the Force Awakens
A few months back the second trailer for the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII - The Force Awakens movie was released and, like most of my fellow geeks of the world, I was immediately enthralled by what I saw on the screen.
||Innovation and Halt and Catch Fire
All too often series that deal with the creation of something focus on the creation of the BEST something.
||Hannibal: He slices AND dices!
The NBC TV series Hannibal is a show that shouldn't work. It's based on a book series that inspired a mega-popular set of films. And the title character of Hannibal as portrayed by Anthony Hopkins in these films is cemented in popular culture…
||Mad Max: What a lovely day
It took me a lot of years to fully appreciate the movie Mad Max (1979). I saw that film many times on TV during the 1980s but if you would have asked me back then if I'd preferred Mad Max or its sequel The Road Warrior (1981) I would have gone with The Road Warrior every time.
||Online TV series are old hat
We live in a world where new TV series are being created not only by network and cable channels but via online services like Netflix, Hulu and Amazon as well.
||Bum Rap: Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008) is the least interesting of all the Indiana Jones movies. That being said, I wouldn't say that it's a bad movie…
||Summer movie preview
With three movies due out it seems as if Marvel Entertainment has bought and now owns the naming rights to summer. The first of which is The Avengers: Age of Ultron on May 1. Really The Avengers Part 2, or is it Iron Man Part 5…
||Robotech: The Gateway Anime
I was an impressionable 10 year old when the animated TV series Robotech first premiered here in 1985. Back then the TV landscape was very much different that it was today, especially with kid's cartoons.
||A Most Wanted Man — a new way to watch movies
Recently, I bought and watched the movie A Most Wanted Man. As I often do I began formulating my opinion on the movie as the ending approached.
||Star Wars: the Dark Decade
For about a decade Star Wars was decidedly not cool…
||The Americans: the anti-nostalgia trip
Nostalgia can be a tricky thing. Movies and TV series that deal in the past tend to get the overall big picture right but fudge the everyday little details of life.
||The best TV series of 2014
The last several years, this one included, the new fall TV season has been underwhelming at best and just plain bad at worst.
||The Best Movie and TV Posters of 2014
The last several years have been good ones when it comes to TV and movie posters. Even if the movies/TV series said posters were promoting didn't always light up the box office/TV screens, designers still offered crops of nice posters to marvel over.
||Bum Rap - TRON: Legacy
Who makes a sequel to the movie TRON (1982) that at that point was nearly 30 years old and didn't do that well at the box office to begin with?
||Do endings matter?
I watch a lot of TV. A comfortable estimate is that in the last 20 years I've easily watched something like 15,000+ hours of television and have seen my share of TV series beginnings and endings.
||Why I stopped watching The Walking Dead
I've watched every season of the TV series The Walking Dead (TWD) since it premiered on AMC back in 2010. It was a series I couldn't quite believe was being made…
||Forgotten HBO shows of lore
15 years ago The Sopranos premiered on HBO. Up until that point HBO was mostly known for airing movies along with some original series. Before The Sopranos, shows like Tales from the Crypt, The Larry Sanders Show and 1st and Ten were all HBO staples.
||Disaster Du Jour: Meteor (1979)
Until I watched it again a few weeks back, I don't think I'd seen the movie Meteor (1979) in 20+ years.
||2014/15 TV Preview
It's been a few years since I've felt this way, but I can say that I'm actually kind'a looking forward to the slate of new shows set to debut on network TV this season.
||A season of summer flops
I've been a follower of films in this column for a decade and on my website for 16 years now. And while there are things I know -- like the summer movie season will be full of action and things that go "boom" while the winter one will be full of Oscar contenders -- for the life of me I can't figure out why some movies are flops and some are hits.
||The expanse that is the modern Marvel movie megaverse
Officially, the very first movie based on a Marvel comic book was the 1986 cult-classic Howard the Duck. But that movie flopped at the box office and was for many years an embarrassment to all those involved…
||Falling Skies: Chicken Little was right
It's been said that the best horror movies come during uncertain times, that these movies act as a sort of release valve for the real-world woes around us in stories that play out at a safe distance from reality.
||Orange is the New Black: Would the real Piper Chapman please stand up?
Piper Chapman is having an identity crisis. Chapman (Taylor Schilling), the main character of the Netflix series Orange is the New Black, is a middle-aged, upper-class woman who's just gotten engaged to the man of her dreams…
||Godzilla, king of the monsters
Think about this for a second; Godzilla has been with us as long as the music of Elvis.
||All out of love with movie theaters
One of the very first memories I have is of seeing the original Star Wars movie in a theater. I'm pretty sure I didn't see the film when it was first released in '77 but instead when it was re-released a few years later…
||Disaster Du Jour: I Am Legend (2007)
Know this -- most of this article deals the the theatrical and alternate endings to the 2007 movie I Am Legend. So, if you've never seen that movie before and you don't want to know how Legend ends it might be smart to look away now.
||An appreciation of Parker
The character of Parker has been around in one form or another for more than a half century. Created by author Donald Westlake under the pen-name Richard Stark, there's been 23 original Parker novels since the first was published in 1962 as well as a total of eight films based around the Parker character.
||Summer movie preview
First up this year, as it has been every year since 2007, is a movie based on a character from Marvel Entertainment; this time The Amazing Spider-Man 2 on May 2…
||The Assets — the perfect model of dysfunctional network TV
Earlier this year ABC premiered the series The Assets based on real life CIA agent Aldrich Ames (Paul Rhys) who in the 1980s was working for the CIA but spying for the KGB.
||Hannibal, NBC's delicious killer show
The NBC TV series Hannibal is somewhat like other modern cop TV series but where Hannibal differs from other forensics shows like CSI is that it's also an examination of the nature of human reality specifically within the character of Will Graham (Hugh Dancy).
||The Americans: James Bond in Suburbia
Sex has played a major role in stories about fictional spies since there were stories about fictional spies. On the male side there's been the womanizing James Bond of the last 60+ years who's inspired a term to record his conquests; "Bond Babes."
||RoboCop, a modern Frankenstein
The other day I rewatched the movie RoboCop for the many-ith time in preparation for the RoboCop remake due in theaters February 12.
||The best of the rest of 2013
My favorite "Trip Down Memory Lane," my favorite book, my favorite app, and more…
The start of the 2012-13 TV season was little more than a barren wasteland. Of the few new shows I checked out last season there wasn't any I stuck with for more than a few episodes. To say I was depressed this time last year at the state of TV would not have been an understatement.
||The Best Movie and TV Posters of 2013
I think many underestimate just how hard it is to create a good movie or TV poster. There are a plethora of amateur designers with Tumblr accounts turning out cool movie posters for fun every day.
||Doctor Who, the great sci-fi hipster wanna'be
I've been a fan of Doctor Who nearly as long as Matt Smith, the current actor in the title role, has been alive.
||Ender's Hunger Games
Over the last decade young-adult books turned to movies have become one of the most popular franchises at the cineplex.
||The Online TV Revolution
When I first started writing this column nearly a decade ago, legally watching TV shows online wasn't possible…
||The X-Files: One of the greats turns 20
There are a few TV series that I consider “mine.” These are the series that I started watching before they were cool, before they were featured on the covers of magazines, before the actors became superstars, before the series were spun-off into movies…
||How I made $1,500 selling 3 comic books on eBay
Typically I don't collect things because I think they'll increase in value, I collect things because I think they're cool.
||2013/14 TV Preview
There's nothing new about sci-fi and horror series on network TV. But for every hit series like Star Trek, Lost or The X-Files there are three forgettable ones like Space Rangers, Threshold and Strange World.
||What the heck was that? Pop-culture stumbled upon moments
I used to love channel surfing.
||Disaster Du Jour: By Dawn's Early Light
Fear of a global thermonuclear war was very real in the 1980s. At the height of the cold war the Soviet Union had tens of thousands of nuclear weapons aimed at the US and NATO countries and we had just as many aimed at Russia and Warsaw Pact countries too.
||Doin' the Godzilla stomp with Pacific Rim
For the last 50 or so years, gigantic monster movies (GMMs) like King Kong or Godzilla have been ignored at best and derided at worst.
||World War Z: Zombies, zombies everywhere
omehow during the early part of the 21st century zombies in popular culture became downright…dare I say!?…respectable.
||Man of Steel: The Fantastic Untold Origin Story (Not Really)
This summer, DC Entertainment is set to try and launch a new superhero movie franchise with Superman. Again. For the fourth time.
||Disaster Du Jour #3: Deep Impact
The summer of 1998 was a particularly good one when it came to movies. I remember looking forward to Saving Private Ryan and The X Files and Godzilla to name just a few. But the movie I was looking forward to most that year was the disaster film Deep Impact.
||Is it time to cut the cable TV cord?
A few months back I received an e-mail from my satellite TV service. What it essentially said was that my cost for their service would be going up this year like it has almost every other year. And while they're sorry about that…
||Marvel Movie Madness Starring Iron Man
Marvel Entertainment is a studio accustomed to making hit movies. Last summer The Avengers raked in $1.5 billion in ticket sales; the year before that Captain America: The First Avenger and Thor brought in $359 million. The summer before that Iron Man 2 $312 million…
||The Evil Dead movies
Over the last few years Hollywood has become remake crazy, and it seems as if one of the more popular types of movies to be remade are horror films. One of the movies that's in the process of being remade, for good or ill, is The Evil Dead.
||Lost & Unmade Superhero movies of the 1990s
These days superhero movies are some most popular types of films. Flicks last year like The Avengers, The Dark Knight Rises and The Amazing Spider-Man grossed a staggering $1.3 billion combined in ticket sales alone.
||The Evil Dead movies
Over the last few years Hollywood has become remake crazy, and it seems as if one of the more popular types of movies to be remade are horror films. One of the movies that's in the process of being remade for good or ill is The Evil Dead…
||Summer Movie Preview
I cannot describe to you how much this time of year I look forward to the summer movie season. From now until May I almost literally count the days until the first movie premiers.
||The Evil Dead movies
Over the last few years Hollywood has become remake crazy, and it seems as if one of the more popular types of movies to be remade are horror films. One of the movies that's in the process of being remade, for good or ill, is The Evil Dead.
||Star Trek: Deep Space Nine the Best Trek Series Turns 20
This year marks the 20th anniversary of a movie and two TV series that are important to me, the first of which is the TV series Star Trek: Deep Space Nine.
||Best movies of 2012
I can't quite believe it myself, but this year I only went twice to a movie theater. Not that I didn't see a lot of new movies, but in 2012 I saw the vast majority of them in the comfort of my own home…
||The Best TV Series of 2012
With TV this season, it was the best of times, it was…you know the rest. While the crop of new shows in the 2012-13 season might be bland, that doesn't mean that there's not loads of great TV series out there, just not so much on network TV…
||The Best Movie and TV Posters of 2012
It took a bit of digging this year to compile my “best of” list. Usually, the problem is that I find so many posters that I have to cull quite a few good ones just to make this list a manageable size, but not this year. This year the challenge was just finding enough posters for the list. I found lots of posters I liked, but only a few I loved.
||15 Years of Starship Troopers
I am convinced that when I first saw the movie Starship Troopers in a theater back in 1997 I was the only one there who actually liked it. I know the two friends I went to see it with didn't care for it, and it didn't seem like the dozen or so other people in the theater with us were all that jazzed about Starship Troopers either.
||Disaster Du Jour #3: The Swarm (1978)
The 1970s were a time chock full of real-life terrors; from communist world domination fears, to nuclear proliferation around the globe, oil embargoes, terrorism… And all these fears were translated into a golden age of disaster films throughout that decade. But one of the most bizarre of these disaster films has to be The Swarm (1978).
||Mars Attacks. Again
I can remember the first time I ever saw an original Mars Attacks trading card. It was the mid-1990s and I was at the Chicago Comic Con where a dealer was selling well-worn cards for $15 each.
||Revenge of Horror TV!
I have to admit that sometimes I'm a “glass half empty” kind'a guy.
||Batman: The Animated Series Celebrates its 20th
I was exactly the wrong age to appreciate Batman: The Animated Series (TAS) when it originally debuted 20 years ago in 1992.
||Fall 2012/13 TV Preview
I am a TV junkie. Most years there are usually six or seven new shows I'm interested in checking out.
||Disaster Du Jour #2: Rise of the Planet of the Apes (2011)
What's with Disaster Du Jour? One of the most popular types of films decade after decade are disaster movies and it seems like these films are a reflection of the times we're living in, or at least a reflection of what we're frightened of at the time.
||For Sale: My Collection of Image Comics
The 1990s were a very interesting time for those of us who collected comic books.
||Disaster Du Jour #1: Earthquake (1974)
What's with Disaster Du Jour? One of the most popular types of films decade after decade are disaster movies and it seems like these films are a reflection of the times we're living in, or at least a reflection of what we're frightened of at the time…
||The Secret Sci-Fi Trilogy?
When you watch as many genera movies as I do, you start to see certain patterns emerging. To be sure, most of these “patterns” are nothing more than the creator of one movie aping another, but sometimes I think these patterns point to something larger…
||Before Watchmen: Not a completely terrible idea?
Recently, DC Entertainment began releasing a series of prequel comics to the 1980s series Watchmen, which is considered one of, if not the, greatest comic series of all time.
||Falling Skies: The Best Show of the Summer
Movies about the end of civilization have been in vogue since at least the late 1990s.
||Movies Have Always Sucked
Over the last few years there's been a lot of talk that the overall quality of films has been slipping from previous decades, and this seems born out by looking at lists like the American Film Institute's “100 Years…100 Movies” of the greatest films of the last century.
||A Thoroughly Modern Sherlock
It's almost impossible to successfully update a beloved character/story to modern times and not end up upsetting someone.
||The Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes
To say that the recent movies based on Marvel Entertainment characters has been extremely successful would not be an understatement.
||Tomorrow, When the War Began Book Series
I was ten years old the first time I saw the movie Red Dawn. That movie had me convinced that one day I too would have to live in the woods and fight back against a Soviet invasion.
||Why would anyone want to be a part of The Hunger Games?
Early in 2011 I became hooked on The Hunger Games book trilogy. I'd heard of them sometime before but had written them off as yet another series of teen romance novels in the vein of the Twilight series.
||John Carter of Mars aka Dotar Sojat of Barsoom
The turn of the 20th century must have been a wonderful time for those interested in the sky and astronomy.
||Summer Movie Preview
I always find that the best way to beat the mid-winter blues is to think about the upcoming slate of Summer movies.
||Zombies Freak Me Out
Those who are longtime readers of Dangerous Universe will know of my affinity for the zombie genre. I've seen just about every English language zombie movie that has been made in the last 40+ years and own many of them on DVD.
When I was growing up, most of the animated TV series and films I watched were pretty tame.
||The Best Films of 2011
My favorite films of 2011.
||Best TV of 10/11 season
The best TV series of the 2010/11 season is the NBC series Community.
||The Best Movie and TV Posters of the Year
I've been picking what I think are the best movie posters of the year each year since 2006. And while I've always been able to find many interesting movie posters, it wasn't until recently that posters for TV series started catching my attention.
||Mini-series to Movie Gold
There's been a bit of a trend over the last decade of short-run British TV mini-series being turned into feature films. One of the early of these British mini-series to be turned to feature film was the six episode series Traffik (1989) that was adapted as the film Traffic (2000).
||The Return of "What's Your Set Up"?
A few years back I wrote a column on how some friends of mine and I consume movies and TV series and I thought it would be interesting to revisit that idea and see how things have changed since then.
||The Walking Dead: Do Zombies Go Forever?
I honestly can't remember a time when there's been as many interesting new sci-fi/horror TV series airing as there are now
||Somebody in this camp ain't what he appears to be
I've been a big fan of the two sci-fi/horror films, The Thing From Another World (1951) and its remake The Thing (1982) for many years now. Though both movies deal with the same subject matter — an alien invasion fought by the small crew of a far off base — each approaches the material very differently.
||Does Terra Nova= Earth 2?
The new Fox TV series Terra Nova, which premiers Monday, September 26 at 8pm, is by far the most interesting sounding network show to be announced in quite some time.
||Fall TV Preview
For the slate of new network TV series set to start premiering this month, the future is nothing but bright.
||New Movies: To Wait or Not to Wait?
The window between the time a movie is released in theaters to the time it's available on Blu-ray/DVD/digital download (home video) is quickly shrinking.
||Remember when toys were just for kids?
Collecting toys is a very much different activity than it was even 15 years ago.
||When Captain America Throws His Mighty Shield…
Captain America has to be one of the most recognizable super-heroes of all time…
||Slip the surly bounds of the Earth with The Rocketeer
The 1990s were not an especially happy time for movies based on comic books. After the smashing success Warner Brothers had with the first Batman movie in 1989, there was a rush from other studios to duplicate that success with their own comic book films.
While films have never shied away from dealing with the apocalypse and what comes after, that hasn't always been the case for TV series. Call it an aversion to negativity or not knowing how to keep a story about the end of the world rolling for 24 episodes a season for over six or seven years…
||How I'll Spend My Summer
Some of my fondest memories as a teen are of watching movies at the drive-in theater that used to be in Decatur, Indiana.
||The State of TV
As the 2010-11 TV season wraps up this month, it’s the perfect time to look back at the season, analyze what worked and, more importantly, what didn’t work.
||God of Thunder, Mighty Thor!
I think it’s safe to say that I’ve written about comic books enough times over the years to cement my geek cred in the genre.
||A Eulogy for Sym-Bionic Titan
I have an eclectic taste in TV series. Not only do I watch shows that do well in the ratings like Big Bang Theory and Modern Family, I also watch shows that are outside the norm. One of these kinds of shows I've fallen for the last few months is the series Sym-Bionic Titan.
||The Jennifer Lawrence Games
For the last few months, movie websites have been abuzz as to which actress would be cast as the lead in the adaptation of the book The Hunger Games.
||Forgotten Films: Year 2002, Part 1
I’ve always been amazed at the way pop culture consumes itself. That what’s captured the interest of the public one minute can be all but forgotten the next. But what amazes me even more are the things, specifically films, that I thought would have captured that interest but, for whatever reason, didn’t.
||Alien Invasion Du Jour
It might seem like an obvious idea now, but it wasn’t until near the start of the 20th century that the concept of aliens invading the Earth was first created.
||Summer Movie Preview
Every summer movie season since 2007 has kicked off with a film based on a Marvel comics superhero, and this summer is no exception…
||Forgotten Films of the Last Decade: Year 2000
I’ve always been amazed at the way pop culture consumes itself, the way that what has captured the interest of the public one minute can be all but forgotten the next.
I can remember the day as a twelve-year-old that I stopped collecting toys.
The action/adventure TV cartoon once typified by the likes of G.I. Joe and Transformers in the 1980s became something fresh and new with the premiere of Batman: The Animated Series in 1992…
||The Best Films of 2010
The best movie of 2010 was David Fincher and Aaron Sorkin’s The Social Network.
||The Best TV Series of 2010
The best TV series of 2010 is NBC’s brilliant and irreverent Community. Last season, having seen some 12 episodes of Community when I wrote my best of 2009 column, I thought Community was good, but not great…
||The Best Movie & TV Posters of 2010
In 2010 many of the designers of mainstream movie posters relied on essentially the same “look;” a shot of one or more members of the cast from the knees up.
||Aliens Ate My Neighbor
I’ve always loved the science fiction notion of intelligent aliens that come to the Earth to — simply put — eat people.
||The Walking Dead
The only creature from the horror genre I can think of that’s more tired and overused than vampires are zombies.
||Never No More
On September 24th a TV anniversary quietly passed by that few took notice of. On that day back in 1995 the doomed series Space: Above and Beyond (S:AAB) premiered on Fox.
||Define “Comic Con”
I’ve been a comic book nut going back as far as I can remember…
||Fall TV Preview
The 2009-10 TV season will probably be remembered as the year the network sitcom returned to prominence…
||You are not you. You are me.
The most talked about and critically acclaimed movie this summer is Christopher Nolan’s Inception. While I greatly enjoyed that film,but regardless of what I thought of the movie, Inception is just the latest in a long line of movies to focus on dreams/dreaming…
||Mad Men: Good or Great?
The fourth season of the most critically acclaimed drama on TV, Mad Men, returned to AMC a few weeks back. I’ve been a huge supporter of the series since it debuted, but the fourth season of any TV series is unusually important for the long-term viability of a show.
||Movie Trailers — Did I Just See What I Think I Saw?
I had a conversation with a friend a few weeks back about his experience with the movie Splice (2010). He said that the trailer for the film made Splice out to be a combination of films like Alien (1979) and Frankenstein (1931) when in fact though the movie did share certain elements with those films, Splice was something wholly different.
||The TV Drama Conundrum
Until very recently, I thought that all modern TV dramas should be in the Battlestar Galactica (BSG)/ The Shield/ Mad Men format. That is, the series is presented with one long overarching story that has a beginning, middle and end, which is revealed over the run of the show.
||Two Men Enter, One Man Leaves
If the first Mad Max (1979) film was about a man lost in revenge and the second The Road Warrior (1981) was about redemption then the third Mad Max Beyond Thunderdome (1985) must've been about Tina Turner, her golden pipes and a band of roguish children.
||Lost is Over and I Feel Duped
I've been a fan of the TV series Lost since the first episode was broadcast on ABC back on September 22, 2004. Since then, I've devoted several columns to the series as well as too many blog posts to count. Lost was unlike anything I had ever seen on TV and seemed to be written and acted by some smart, funny and adept people.
||Star Wars Memories
Like a lot of kids born between the mid-1960s and early 1980s the original three Star Wars films were a big part of my youth. So, it was with an odd sense of "holy-crud that was a long time ago!" that I recently read that The Empire Strikes Back (1980), was released 30 years ago May 21.
||The Modern Comic Book Film
Comic book characters have had a long history with the movies. As far back as the early 1940s Superman, Batman and Captain Marvel were all fighting villains in movie serials…
||Pray that he's still out there – somewhere
Last time we talked about the film Mad Max (1979). This time the focus is on The Road Warrior (1982).
||...Remember, He's on Your Side
When I was in high school my favorite film was Road Warrior (1981). I think the reason that film appealed to me is that it presented a sort of nihilistic view of the near-future that I've always found interesting…
||Comics worth collecting
I've been collecting comic books in one form or another for as far back as I can remember. The early ones I recall having were a few issues of Spider-Man and Batman along with a oddities like Mad Magazine and the Star Trek comic from Gold Key all tucked away in a box in our toy closet
||What to Watch this Spring
As the TV season races towards its summer break and the multiplexes take a quick breath before the crush of the upcoming summer movie season, there are some interesting things to catch on TV and watch in theaters during this transitional time of year.
||Summer Movie Preview
Each summer film season seems to have some sort of theme, be it a summer with a few films about asteroids about to smash into the planet or one chock full of films about future civilizations. Unfortunately, the last few years the theme has consistently been "remakes, comic books and TV adaptations" and this summer seems no different in that respect.
||Underbelly: It’s a Jungle Out There
I've been a big fan of the Australian crime series Underbelly for the last several years now. Unfortunately for most Americans, though, Underbelly has never officially aired anywhere in the US, which means that no matter how many people heard me extol the virtues of the series, it didn't really matter…
||The Best Films of 2009
The best film of 2009 was writer/director Quentin Tarantino's Inglourious Basterds.
||The Best TV Series of 2009
The best series of the 2009 TV season was the new ABC series Modern Family. To be honest, when I first heard of Modern Family last summer, I wasn't that interested…
||The Best Movie Posters of 2009
This is the third year in a row that I've picked my favorite movie posters of the year.
||The Best TV Series 1999–2008, #1 and #2
What has come before: #10 Battlestar Galactica; #9 The Sopranos; #8 Spaced; #7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer/ Veronica Mars; #6 The West Wing; #5 Freaks and Geeks; #4 The Office (UK) and #3 The Wire.
||Fall/Winter Movie Preview
It seemed as if a lot of good movies came out last spring/summer. Be it an indie gem like Moon or a more mainstream film like Inglourious Basterds, from May until August I found myself to be quite entertained at the cineplex. However overflowing with interesting movies the first two-thirds of the year might have been, latter third of 2009 seems to be a bit more bleak.
||The Best TV Series 1999–2008, #4 and #3
What has come before; #10 Battlestar Galactica, #9 The Sopranos, #8 Spaced, #7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer/ Veronica Mars, #6 The West Wing and #5 Freaks and Geeks.
||Drag Me to Hell
I can't say that I’m a fan of many modern horror movies. I thought the first Saw (2004) film was decent enough but have been disappointed to see that just about every other horror film since the has copied much of the structure of that movie; namely an uncomfortable focus on pain, torture and suffering.
||50 Years of The Twilight Zone
I'm about to make a bold statement; The Twilight Zone (the first episode of which aired 50 years ago on October 2, 1959) is my favorite TV series of all time. Period. I may love Arrested Development and think that The Wire was one of the best TV dramas ever, but when it comes to BEST TV SERIES OF ALL TIME I'd cast my vote for The Twilight Zone (Zone) every time.
||The Best TV Series 1999-2008, #6 and #5
What has come before — #10 Battlestar Galactica, #9 The Sopranos, #8 Spaced and #7 Buffy the Vampire Slayer/Veronica Mars.
||War Through the Eyes of Patrick S. Dunan
Even though the Vietnam War had come to a close in 1975, I can remember as a kid that its after effects were still resonating across the country into the 1980s. It seemed as if in the mid to late 1980s that the country was finally ready to come to terms with that war beginning with the film Platoon in 1986.
||Fall TV preview
The 2008-09 TV season was one that the broadcast networks are probably trying to forget. Overall viewership was down last season compared to the previous and has been steadily declining the last few years.
||G.I. Joe: What’s The Other Half of the Battle?
When I was younger, my absolute favorite TV cartoon and toy line was G.I. Joe. I have fond memories of buying my very first two Joes back in '82 (Breaker and Short Fuse) and for a time I was so into the line that I subscribed to the comic series. But as the years went by I found myself less interested in G.I. Joe and more interested in other things. I held onto a few of the figures and comics left from my childhood, but honestly up until the movie version of G.I. Joe was announced last year I hadn't thought much about the series in the last 20+ years.
||The Best TV Series 1999-2008, #8 and #7
This is the second column that will chronicle the ten best TV series 1999-2008. What's come before is #10 Battlestar Galactica and #9 The Sopranos.
||Make Mine Batman!
It's difficult for anyone born after the fact to realize just how HUGE the original Batman (1989) movie was. To be sure there have been movies after that have earned more money but I don't think that any other film since has come close to the hype and excitement that followed the lead up to the release of Batman – and then again months later again for the release of the film on VHS.
||Michael Mann, Public Enemy Number One
I've been a big fan of writer/director Michael Mann for some time now. I originally discovered him through his film Heat (1995) and after that devoured all the Mann films I could get my hands on. In quick succession I watched Thief (1981), Manhunter (1986), The Last of the Mohicans (1992), Ali (2001) and just about everything in-between.
||The Alien Turns 30
This spring the Alien franchise — featuring six films, numerous comic books, novels, toys and everything else — turns 30. And though I've been a fan of just about everything Alien for most of that time, when the first film was originally released I was a bit too young to quite comprehend and appreciate that movie.
||Drag Me To Terminator
There are a few interesting movies opening up this month – one is the fourth film of a 25 year old franchise and the other is also the fourth film of a 28 year old horror movie franchise. Only not quite.
||To boldly go…where are we going again?
Star Trek is the only television series I can think of whose fans were constantly derided. No one ever made fun of people that watched Cheers or Guiding Light, yet everyone, no matter how subtle or deep their affection for Star Trek, were branded as “trekkies” or “trekkers.” For years, trekkers were the pop-culture shorthand for “nerd” and it was assumed that anyone who liked Star Trek must also don the pointy Vulcan ears and dress up as Mr. Spock.
||The Best TV Series 1999-2009, #10 and #9
It seems a bit odd to think this, but The Sopranos premiered on HBO a full decade ago last January. That series was groundbreaking in so many ways, the least of which for HBO was that it turned this once backwater pay cable channel into THE destination for innovative TV series. Which got me thinking; if one assumes that The Sopranos marked the start of a golden age of TV 10 years ago, what were the other nine great series to air over the last decade?
||What to watch this Spring
As spring quietly enveloped Indiana a few weeks back – giving us slightly more day than night and (hopefully) sending Old Man Winter up north for the next seven or eight months – we quickly started down the road towards the time where most network and cable TV series begin winding down and films at the Cineplex turn almost exclusively to mindless fun. But there is still time to catch a few good series/movies before this change takes place as well as some good TV series new to DVD.
||Comics as Good as Watchmen
The Watchmen movie opened in theaters in early March generating nearly $60 million in ticket sales and capturing the number one spot opening weekend. Even though the movie was a little over two hours in length, there was no way that it could have ever come close to the depth of the original 380 page Watchmen series of comics originally published back in 1986.
||Who’s Going to Watch the Watchmen? Hurm!
The massive scale of the Watchmen (1986) series of comics is staggering. Consisting of 12 issues and over 380 pages of content that deals with everything from childhood abuse, sex and murder as well as the threat of total nuclear annihilation – the mind-boggling complexity of Watchmen had kept this fan-favorite story from being translated into film form for more than 20 years.
||What’s Your Setup?
As the date for the conversion to digital television crept closer and closer to reality this month – only to be pushed back all the way to June – I started thinking about all the ways people access entertainment content today differently than they would have a few years back. I asked a few of my more tech savvy friends just how they watch TV and movies these days, at the start of 2009.
||Summer Movie Preview
The 2009 summer movie season kicks off May 1 with the X-Men spin-off movie X-Men Origins: Wolverine. I liked X-Men (2000), loved X2 (2003) but thought that X-Men: The Last Stand (2006) was lacking just about everything a movie can lack
||The Best Films of 2008
On and off over the last decade, I’ve taken time at the end of each winter to compile my list of the best movies of the year. It’s a trip to look back at the first list I came up with at the end of 1999 that had The Matrix as the best movie of the year but somehow failed to include films like The Iron Giant or Fight Club. Regardless, in all the time since that first list I’ve never had as many problems coming up with what I felt were the best movies of the year as I’ve had here in writing this at the end of 2008.
||The Best Movie Posters of 2008
What a year it’s been at the box office. Though there have been a lot of “fun” movies released in 2008, I’d count exactly two movies I saw as being very good and wouldn’t say I’ve seen any great ones. Which is the exact opposite of last year where there were a plethora of great films released during the later part of the year.
||My Favorite Non-Christmas Christmas Movies
This time of year it seems as if there’s never a shortage of Christmas themed movies on television. Be it a classic like A Christmas Story (1983) or a more recent comedy like Elf (2003), from the beginning of December to the end it’s like the viewing public is presented with a glut of Christmas TV.
||MST3K Turns 20 and I Feel OLD!
I can’t quite believe it myself – but Joel, the ‘bots, the “Satellite of Love” and the whole TV series Mystery Science Theater 3000 (MST3K) turns 20 this Thanksgiving. That means when I first started watching (and falling in love with) MST3K, I was a punk high school kid not yet old enough to have a driver’s license. Does time fly!
||What’s Worth Watching?
Though the 2008-’09 television season is already a few months old, I can’t say that I’m too enamored with many of the new series that have debuted so far on network TV. In some seasons past, I’d find myself watching plenty of new comedies and dramas nightly. But this year… not so much.
||A Halloween Double Feature! Zombies, Zombies, Zombies!
Over the last several Halloweens I’ve profiled some of my favorite horror movies. This year I’ve decided to profile two of my favorite, and quite different, zombie movies.
||Now on DVD…
There are several interesting movies and a TV series new to DVD you should check out over the next few weeks.
||Detoxing Determined Demented Dexter
I’m not sure what’s up with HBO, the channel that once proclaimed of itself, “It’s not TV, it’s HBO.” Other than the mini-series Generation Kill that ended a few weeks back, there hasn’t been any drama series of note on that channel since the end of The Sopranos more than a year ago.
||The best of summer '08
As the summer slowly draws to a close, I thought it would be the perfect time to look back at some of the things I liked best about the summer of ’08.
||Sci-Fi and Loneliness
There’s a sub-genre of science fiction that’s been around for the longest time – the “last man” on the Earth story. These stories, almost always involving some sort of worldwide catastrophe to remove the rest of the population, are a good way for storytellers to examine a character’s true nature. If the easiest way to find out what someone’s like is to watch their actions when they think no one is watching, then the best way to find out what someone’s really like is to watch their actions when they’re completely and utterly isolated from all human contact.
||Spaced: A cultural touchstone you might have missed
I had heard of the UK TV series Spaced years before I ever saw an episode. It was a series so popular with those who had already seen it that they used it as a reference point for critiquing other shows. Before I saw Spaced, I figured the series was a sci fi drama based on the title alone, but in reality Spaced is a modern day comedy that deals with a group of twenty-somethings living and (sometimes) working in London.
||Mad Men, The Best Series on TV?
I have to admit that when I first heard about the AMC TV series Mad Men last year I was skeptical. How exactly could a show on AMC, which up until that point had been known as a cheap knock-off to TMC, turn out ANYTHING of quality? Surly if a show like Mad Men were any good, it would have premiered on a “real” network like HBO or FX. Right? WRONG! AMC did the impossible last season in producing the best series of the year on a channel other than HBO.
||I Want to Believe in The X-Files
It makes me feel old to think that the first episode of the TV series The X-Files aired almost 15 years ago. Before The X-Files became a bonafide 90s pop culture phenomena spawning a series of fan conventions, comic books, magazines, toys, a feature film, etc., etc., etc. it was an unknown show premiering one Friday night on FOX. I was excited about that but I figured no one else would watch.
||Before Marvel movies were cool
Movies based on Marvel Comics characters/titles seem to be dominating the box office the last few years. Be it the Spider-Man and X-Men franchises that have earned more than $1.7 billion dollars combined worldwide, or the release of Iron Man and The Incredible Hulk this summer that is sure to take that number well north of $2 billion by years end, things couldn’t be better for Marvel.
||What do the British, psychics and The X-Files have in common?
Mid-May is the time of year that the TV networks decide on their upcoming fall/winter TV schedules. It’s also the time of year that new series commissioned by the networks are either picked up and added to the schedule or discarded altogether. But this May is different than Mays of past.
||Andromeda, Trixie, Captain Tripps, Motaba, KV and Rage (Oh, my)
At the end of this month, the cable channel A&E will premiere a two-part remake of the film The Andromeda Strain (1971). Though I’ve never been much of a fan of that particular film, I’ve always been intrigued by the central premise that humanity could be put into peril by something as seemingly innocuous as a microscopic virus.
||What I read on my winter vacation from TV
Over the last winter with the television writer’s strike obliterating much of the new scripted series of the season, I found myself searching for alternatives to Indiana’s famous “stuck inside with nothin’ to do” winter blahs. I briefly toyed with reality TV (mistake) but luckily found something just as good (if not better) than most of what passes for entertainment these days – the modern comic book/graphic novel.
||He fights and smites with repulsor rays!
Be forewarned – this may be my “nerdiest” column to date. Let me start by saying that I have nothin’ but love for the characters of Batman or Superman and mean no disrespect to them in what follows. (That sentence alone had a nerd factor of +20.)
||Battlestar Galactica: The End
It seems a bit odd writing about the upcoming final season of Battlestar Galactica (BSG), especially since the debut of the series was one of the first things I (almost) covered for The Fort Wayne Reader. Back in late 2003 I had been approached by the publishers of The Reader to become their entertainment columnist. I accepted their offer and was given a pre-air DVD screener of the then upcoming new BSG mini-series for review.
||What lies in The Mist?
In the previous edition of Dangerous Universe, I discussed three great movies I missed seeing in theaters last year. This time I’ll talk about one movie I did catch in the theater and called one of the best of ’07; Frank Darabont’s The Mist. Unfortunately, though The Mist may have been a great movie, it was mostly overlooked by the public/reviewers last year.
Even though I try to see around one new movie a week, I still can’t see everything I want to in the theater. Be it conflicts with other movies, not having the time in a given week to make it to the theater, bad word of mouth or even not wanting to waste my hard earned dough on a movie I suspect will be a stinker, great movies do slip by me.
||Cloverfield and the problem of viral marketing
A few weeks back the “giant monster attacks New York” movie Cloverfield opened to huge numbers at the box office, earning over $40 million and the number one spot in its first week in release. Cloverfield opened so big that most assumed Paramount had another movie franchise on their hands and that a sequel would soon be in the works. Director Matt Reeves reportedly said of a sequel, “Only time will tell.”
||Summer Movie Preview
If summer 2007 at the box-office was the year of the sequel, then next summer will surly be remembered as the year of the comic book movie. By my estimate, there are no fewer than half-a-dozen films either directly based on comic books, or at least inspired by them, due out from May to August. The first of these comic book movies out May 2 is Iron Man.
||Is the ’07-’08 TV Season Dead?
As the television writer's strike threatens to obliterate most of the 2007-08 TV season (not that the season was that great to begin with), there seems to be little left to watch other than re-runs of Seinfeld or episodes of Holmes on Homes on Discovery Home Channel. However, with the start of the winter TV season set to begin later this month, there are some alternatives to the parade of knock-off reality TV the networks have been serving up these last few weeks.
||The Best Movies of 2007
The best film of 2007 was Children of Men. Bleak, dark and uncompromising, Children of Men presents a terrifying vision of a future where women have become infertile and, without any new births, mankind has slowly started the trek towards extinction. Enter apathetic Theo (Clive Owen) who gets more than he bargained for when hired to help smuggle a girl out of the U.K.
||The Best Television Shows of 2007
The best show of the 2006-07 television season was the AMC series Mad Men. Set in the early 1960s after the boom of the 1950s but before the rise of the counter-culture later that decade, Mad Men shows us in so many ways that while the “good old days” might have been “good” for a segment of the population, it certainly wasn’t so good for everyone. The center of the show is Don Draper (Jon Hamm), an advertising exec that seemingly has it all and is living the “American Dream.” None-the-less, Draper is living a lie…
||The Best Movie Posters of 2007
I love movie posters. Though I might not buy as many posters as I used to (mostly because I can download relatively hi-res copies of posters online) I none-the-less enjoy the art form enough to take the time to catalog the best posters of the year.
||Battlestar Galactica: Razor
To call the Sci-Fi channel’s television series Battlestar Galactica (BSG) a “modern television masterpiece” would not be an understatement. Since its debut in December, 2003, BSG has used science fiction as a guise to examine what it’s like to live on 21st century Earth.
||Fall/Winter Movie Season
After a so-so summer movie season passed us by a few weeks back, what does this fall/winter movie season have in store for the viewing public? Unfortunately, out of the dozens of movies all set to open between now and next spring, only a few seem as if they hold much promise.
||The Mothman Cometh
Halloween-time is upon us once again and that got me thinking, why aren't most horror movies all-that frightening anymore? Though almost any scary movie can have a few “jump scares” when the killer pops out at an surprising time or when character unexpectedly dies, not many of these movies leave any lasting impact on the viewer.
||These Days, Spies Are in Good Company
When the television mini-series The Company originally aired earlier this summer on TNT, I almost didn't watch. I guess I figured that this series would be another watered-down program TNT is famous for – be it like the million episodes and counting Law and Order franchise or the recent hit The Closer.
||Is Cable TV Finally Worthwhile?
I usually look forward to this time of year. Sure, I'm a sucker for changing leaves and cooler weather, but it's during the fall that the television networks begin premiering their slew of new comedies and dramas. At this time last year there were so many new shows I was interested in I had to carefully schedule my time each weekday evening in order to catch everything I wanted to see. Shows like Smith and Studio 60 and The Nine captured my imagination, though perhaps not as many other viewers as needed to sustain a successful show.
||Wizard World Chicago 2007
For some reason it's the comic book convention in San Diego gets all the press. Sure, it's the largest convention of the sort in the country, but does it really deserve to be known as the one and only "Comi-Con" when there are literally dozens of other comic-cons that are held across the country each year? When was the last time you heard about the comic book convention in New York, or Philadelphia or even the second largest convention in the U.S. held just a few hours up the road from here every summer; Wizard World Chicago?
||Delightful Dangerous Deadly Deceitful Dexter
Up until last year, it seemed as if the HBO had the market cornered on quality pay-cable drama and comedy series. Beginning with shows like Sex and the City, The Sopranos and continuing with Six Feet Under it appeared as if the cable giant could do no wrong as each new show became a bigger hit than the previous. Even series like The Wire and Deadwood that didn't garner as many viewers as shows like The Sopranos still managed to bring the channel lots of positive "buzz" from the critics and overall good word of mouth to HBO.
||Bourne Again and Again
Though I've been interested in movies as far back as I can remember, it wasn't until the late 1990s that I seriously began following films. And though I'd consider the Summer of 1998 as a benchmark of my movie-mania, I didn’t really start going to movie theaters on an (almost) weekly basis until 2002.
||Surviving the Summer TV Doldrums
Every Summer when the movie cineplexes are kicking into high gear the television networks seem to be shifting into low gear. Over the sweltering Summer months, these networks prefer to burn off the last few episodes of failed drama and comedy series while also releasing a slew of reality and game shows in order to fill their TV schedules. And if you're the type of person that's into these types of shows, then good for you, but if you're like me and can't stand even a minute of reality TV there are some alternatives to the Summer television doldrums.
||The Lowly Comic Book Movie
Earlier this Summer, the movie Spider-Man 3 opened to huge business, raking in an estimated $300 million in ticket sales in the month of May alone. But the real surprise hit of the year (so far) was the "swords and sandals" epic 300. Released in March, this "little movie that could" cost an estimated $60 million to produce yet managed to take in over $200 million at the box office with a DVD release set for later this Summer.
||If It Bleeds, We Can Kill It – Predator
I'm not sure what the deal is with years that end in seven, but it seems as if a lot of interesting sci-fi movies/TV series debut in years ending in this lucky number. This year the movie Starship Troopers (1997) celebrated its tenth anniversary, later this fall Star Trek: The Next Generation (1987) will celebrate its 20th and last month Star Wars (1977) turned 30. But there's another important movie most people overlook that also turns 20 this year – Predator (1987).
||New Bionic Cavemen Anatomy Chronicles
A few weeks back, with much glitz and glamour, the television networks debuted their schedules for the 2007-08 Fall season. Though next season, much like every other television season the last 20 years, has its share of wacky sitcoms, "rebellious defense attorneys" and "rogue cop" dramas, there are a few interesting and unique series set to debut next Fall.
||Return to Dream of a Big, Huge Turtle
Some people are obsessed with cars, others with comic books but for 20 years Fort Wayne Reader publisher Michael Summers was obsessed with a made-for-television movie that aired a few times in the late 1970s before slipping into obscurity.
Is it just me, or does it seem as if America is under the spell of some zombie-fetish movement? By my count, there will be five major films out this year, not to mention a slew of books, books and even a television series in the works for next fall that all feature the walking dead.
||The Venture Bros. – Love Never Blows Up and Gets Killed
I've been a casual observer of the Adult Swim line-up on The Cartoon Network over the last few years, but wouldn't call myself a fan of most Adult Swim shows. I'm not all that interested in their slew of series that seemed to be marketed to buzzed college dropouts with nothing better to do than watch goofy cartoons at 2:01 A.M. on a Monday morning. I guess I find the concept of Adult Swim (animated media and content for adults) more interesting than the results.
||…at the Grindhouse!
Before DVDs, even before VHS, people had to go to movie theaters to see movies, even bad ones. Though popular movie theaters would show traditional films, there was a market for, shall we say, "untraditional" movies, be it an ultra-violent gore-fest flick too bloody to run in a conventional theater or a sexy comedy featuring loads of bodacious cheerleader vixens and their shapely pom-poms.
||The Best Television Series of the 1970s
Back in the 1970s, the world existed someplace between the tensions of the Cold War and the possibility of a nuclear war. On one side was NATO, lead by the US, and the other the Warsaw Pact lead by the Soviet Union. Though these two "superpowers" weren't involved in a traditional shooting war, there was a covert war being fought along the edges of the Cold War. This is where the characters of the television series "The Sandbaggers" operated.
||David Fincher, A Career in the Shadows
You may not recognize the name David Fincher, but I can almost guarantee that you've seen at least one of the movies he's directed. Though Fincher started his career overseeing music videos in the late 1980s and early 1990s, many consider several of the feature films he’s directed since, me included, as modern-masterpieces.
||"Lost" on the decline?
I've been a big fan of the television series Lost ever since I saw the pilot episode of the show back in the summer of 2004. To me, Lost was a bit of a revelation – a well-written drama that wasn't on HBO. I evangelized Lost to my friends. I gushed over Lost in previous columns and on my web site. As the series progressed, I found myself to be more and more excited about Lost, and waited in anticipation for each new episode.
||Summer Movie Preview
As I began to write this column on movies due out next summer, I had no idea that just about every major film I was about to preview would be a sequel to a previous one. I can understand the tendency of movie studios to release sequels – they usually represent a guaranteed payday – but are TEN sequels in one summer too many? In 2007, have the movie studios gone” a sequel too far?”
||Starship Troopers: A Primer
Over the last decade, I've taken a lot of flack for my unwavering admiration of the movie "Starship Troopers." Most see this movie as little more than a mindless monster "shoot-'em-up," but I see, and have always seen, "Starship Troopers" as having deeper elements, not completely apparent upon first viewing.
||The Best Movies of 2006
I seriously considered listing 2006 as one of the most uninteresting and dull years at the cineplexes in recent memory. In a year when the four top-grossing movies this summer earned something like a combined total of $1.3 billion, there weren't too many movies that seemed to have artistically deserved this box office plunder.
||The Best Television Shows of 2006
To say that television in the 2005-06 season marked a high water mark in the history of the medium probably wouldn’t be an understatement. We’ve come a long way from just a few years back when not many new series seemed to be working while television networks seemed to be stuck in the “Clone Friends” mode. But things have changed.
||The Best Movie Posters of 2006
In recent years, the movie poster has taken a backseat to other marketing media, namely television commercials and web sites. It almost seems as if the poster has become little more than a way for drivers to pull up to a theater to quickly gauge what’s playing and when.
||Aaron Sorkin and the Myth of an 8-hour Workday
The characters in television shows written by Aaron Sorkin don’t live by the union mantra “eight hours for work, eight hours for play and eight for what we will.” They live their lives through and for their jobs. Outside of work these characters have no life, no identity. Sorkin’s world is like our own, but with snappier dialogue: when people can be in constant communication with the office via e-mail, cell phone or Blackberry, there is no escape.
||Is it real? Or is it… a Fauxcumentary?
Over the years a sort of sub film genre has emerged – the faux documentary. These films aren’t quite fiction nor docudrama, they’re something else altogether. Blending fictional elements with a documentary style, these films can best be described as the “fauxcumentary.”
||The “Thing” About Halloween…
The great thing about Halloween is that it’s the one time of year that lots of good sci-fi/horror films turn up on television – and I’m not talking about any of the recent Saw movies. I’m talking about classic sci-fi/horror, where the men are real men who use large caliber weapons and flame throwers to send the beasts of hell back from where they came.
||Battlestar Galactica: Nothing’s ever gonna’ be the same again
When Battlestar Galactica returned to the airwaves this fall, it marked the end of a 210-day absence of new episodes. Somehow, the wait seemed longer.
||"Heroes" and "The Nine" – Early Reviews
I couldn’t wait to see the pilot episode to the series Heroes, set to premiere this fall on NBC. Unfortunately, Heroes wasn’t worth the wait.
||"Jericho" and "Studio 60" on the Sunset Strip – Early Reviews
Just when you thought the threat of nuclear war on television screens had evaporated in the mushroom clouds of The Day After (1983) comes the “post-apocalyptic drama” series Jericho on CBS.
||Wizard World Chicago, 2006
On Saturday August 5, I once again had the opportunity to attend the Wizard World Convention held annually in Chicago. What used to be known simply as a “Comic Book Convention” has recently morphed into the “Comics, Cards, Games, Toys, Anime, Manga, Gaming, TV and Movies!” convention. (Now that’s a mouthful.)
||Yes Virginia, there is Snakes on a Plane
This summer’s most anticipated movie doesn’t star Johnny Depp or feature the world’s most famous superhero. It features snakes. Poisonous snakes. Lots of poisonous snakes. Let loose on a plane.
||Jim Cameron’s Guide to Being Silent
It’s been nearly a decade since writer/director James (Jim) Cameron proclaimed himself the “king of the world” at the Academy Awards after receiving the Best Picture Oscar for his film Titanic. Grossing nearly a BILLION dollars in ticket and VHS/DVD sales and winning a total of 11 Academy Awards, Titanic is still a benchmark of film success.
||Taking down the story behind Heat
1995 was an “interesting” year at the movies. Actress Mira Sorvino won an Academy Award for Mighty Aphrodite (remember that one?) while Mr. Fire Birds himself Nicolas Cage picked one up for Leaving Las Vegas. 1995 was also the year the modern day masterpiece Heat premiered.
||Spring: The Season of Finales
Every spring, supporting actors on dramatic series must take a collective breath as they read the season finale scripts for their respective shows. Generally, the television season finale is characterized by a sensational cliffhanger ending, meant to entice viewers back next season to “see what happens.” The more supporting characters shot, stabbed and/or possibly dead (and written out of the show forcing the actors to look for new work) in the finale, the better.
||Deadwood. A nice place to visit…
For this column, I had originally planned to wax poetic on the television series Deadwood. But as the saying goes, plans are easy; it’s the execution where things get difficult.
||Spin-offs, the redheaded stepchild of the TV industry
A few weeks back, the Sci Fi Channel announced a spin-off of their popular Battlestar Galactica series entitled Caprica was in the works, while last winter the BBC announced a show called Torchwood would be spun-off of their Doctor Who series.
||Spielberg’s WWII obsession
After one night spent watching movies, I came to the conclusion that director Steven Spielberg has an obsession with World War II. In my estimation, Spielberg has been involved with, in one form or another, over 50 hours of material dedicated to the Second World War.
||This summer, "Superman Returns"
On June 30 Superman Returns to movie theaters, but where has the “Man of Steel” been the last 30 years?
||"Lost" on "Gilligan's Island"
I can’t imagine anything more horrible that being trapped alone on a deserted island. I’m not sure what would get me first, the loneliness or the absence of a working toilet. Time and time again, television producers use the stranded-on-an-island theme as the plot to their shows.
||The Sopranos – "Oh Poor You!"
The Sopranos has retuned to television after a hiatus of nearly two years and life is good.
It’s hard to believe that it’s been over seven years since The Sopranos first premiered on HBO in 1999. Back then; HBO already had one hit on their hands with Sex and the City but up until that point, the network’s original programming was known as having a slightly risqué bent. Even HBO’s horror anthology series Tales from the Crypt featured ample amounts of nudity.
||When in doubt – copy, steal, adapt
It’s that time of year again – time for television producers to begin pitching, writing and filming television shows, a tiny minority of which will turn up on television screens later this fall. That’s right, it’s pilot season!
||Sam Peckinpah – “…it’ll do.”
Twenty-two years ago film director Sam Peckinpah died of a stroke at the age of 59. Though Peckinpah might be gone his work lives on. In his nearly 30-year career spanning the 1950s to 80s, Peckinpah directed 14 feature films and created a television series (The Westerner).
||Dr Who, an introduction
It’s been a long wait, but the Brit import series Doctor Who is finally returning to our shores after a decades’ absence. Originally broadcast here in the America via syndication from the 1970s to 1990s (in Fort Wayne on PBS), Doctor Who vanished from the cultural landscape after an aborted attempt at Americanizing the show in the mid 1990s.
||This summer, count on the “cheese factor”
When winter slowly strangles the life out of northeast Indiana, it’s the perfect time to look forward to warmer weather and cheesy movies. Next summer looks like it will be no exception when it comes to the “cheese factor.”
||Top 5 of '05
It’s been a long year for the movie studios. According to MSNBC.com, the total box office revenue this year is projected to fall below that of 2003 and fewer tickets were sold this year than in 1998. Somehow, I don’t think movies are getting any cheaper to make.
||Trick question: what time is A Christmas Story on?
As the Christmas season descends across the country, there’s one thing that’s certain – from Christmas Eve night to 24 hours later on Christmas day, either TNT or TBS will devote an entire programming day to airing the movie A Christmas Story (1983).
||Just four, that’s it – no more
In recent weeks, I’ve made a startling discovery – something so explosive that it threatens the entire fabric of the entertainment industry. That something? There are really only four types of sitcoms on television. That’s it.
||A legendary story
In 1954 a book was released which still has a cult following along with scores of movie directors trying to adapt it to the big screen. Though the general public might not have ever read (or heard of) Richard Matheson’s (The Twilight Zone, Somewhere in Time, Duel) book I Am Legend, they no doubt have felt the effects of I Am Legend on modern horror through the years.
||Go tell these movies to the marines
On November 6, Universal Pictures will release Jarhead. Directed by Sam Mendes (American Beauty, Road to Perdition), Jarhead is based on Anthony Swooford’s book on his experiences as a Marine through boot camp, to Kuwait and eventually taking part in the first Gulf War.
||Carl Kolchak is the father of modern TV
As this year’s Emmy Awards drew to a close one thing became apparent; the American television audience is really into a drama about a group of plane-crash survivors stranded on a desert island. Not only did the series Lost win seven Emmy awards but also, and probably more importantly, its second season opened with a whopping 23 million viewers, an all-time high for the year-old drama.
||The House/Holmes Connection
How best to describe Gregory House, M.D. (Hugh Laurie) the central character of the Fox television series House, M.D.? He’s a doctor who’s loud, crass and rude, more likely to berate a patient for not telling the truth than to visit their bedside. He’s nearly friendless, antisocial, and a recognized genius in the medical field.
||Americanization, syndications, and the art of making money on TV
Question: why do Hollywood television producers “Americanize” (recast with American actors and rewrite with American tastes in mind) British television shows? It’s a common enough occurrence. Over the years there’s been some 60 odd shows converted from Queen’s English to American Slang including Three’s Company, Sanford and Son and All in the Family, all based on British television shows.
||The Ultimate Comic Book
As you may have gathered from reading my numerous and brilliant columns here in the Fort Wayne Reader (they’re lucky to have me really), I am a collector of comic books. Though I might not be a person who spends hundreds of dollars a week buying every title released, and believe me those people exist, I do, on occasion, enjoy spending money on “the funny pages.”
||My date to the nerd prom
For the last decade, I’ve had the opportunity to attend the “nerd prom” aka Wizard World Chicago aka The Chicago Comic Book Convention. Although Wizard World Chicago might only be the second largest nerd prom in the country (the “king” of the nerd proms is held in San Diego), there are still many sites to see and things to do at Wizard World Chicago.
||Fall from the inside of a movie theater
As summer slowly burns the green grass of Indiana yellow, it's time to look ahead to the slate of movies due in theaters this fall. Generally, summer is a time for movies designed to lure the crowds into theaters (read mindless fun) whereas fall movies tend to be a bit more adult oriented (read "Oscar contention”).
||I remember a Fantastic Four movie that wasn’t all that fantastic.
I've seen the Fantastic Four movie, but probably not the one you're thinking of. Sometime in the early 1990's, a Fantastic Four movie was shot and never released – a rarity in an industry that will do almost anything to recoup an investment. The movie was promoted in specialty magazines, and fans waited for a release date that would never come, wondering whether they’d ever get to see this movie.
||I have a "thing" for Jack Ryan
I’ve had a “thing” for Jack Ryan for quite some time now. Jack Ryan is the man who saved America, if not the world from nuclear destruction several times now – not unlike that copy “weenie” Jack Bauer from TV’s 24. Jack Ryan is the same man who traveled to the jungles of South America in order to battle drug dealers while fighting Irish terrorists on our home soil after they attempted to take his life and the lives of his wife, daughter and unborn child. And let’s not forget the time Ryan came close to stopping terrorists detonating a nuclear device in Baltimore in order to try and start World War III.
||Six degrees of "Can't Hardly Wait"
The other night I was flipping through the television landscape when I came across one movie I have an affinity for, 1998's Can't Hardly Wait. Can't Hardly Wait is set at a high school graduation party where teens that wouldn't usually get together do. There's the jocks, the white kids pretending to be gangsta' rappers, goths, preppies, etc. The main crux of the plot comes from character Preston Meyers (Ethan Embry) finally deciding to ask his high school crush (Jennifer Love Hewitt) out on a date. What I found most interesting about the movie were all of the actors who would go on to bigger and better things after Can't Hardly Wait.
||Witches, zombies and Martians… My movie going dreams are fulfilled.
The summer movie season is in full swing with bonafide hits such as Star Wars: Episode III - Revenge of the Sith and misses like xXx: State of the Union stinking up movie screens nationwide. (Yeah, they both stunk up the screens, but Revenge of the Sith made a lot more money stinking up the screen than xXx did.)
||The Summer Blockbusters of Yesteryear
The summer movie season as hordes of teens descend on a theater near you to stuff studio coffers with their parent’s hard earned cash. Whereas kids today flock to Star Wars: Episode III - The Revenge of the Sith or Batman Begins (and know practically every line before it even opens), kids of yesteryear flocked to their own movie megaplexes to see their own blockbusters. Other than the beast that is the Star Wars movie franchise, what are the top grossing summer movies of the last twenty-five years?
||Next TV season, it’s not all Desperate Lost Housewives
Spring is "do or die" time for new television shows. It's the time when cable channels and networks pick which new shows will air on television screens next fall and which will suffer a fate worse than death – availability only on bootleg Internet download sites frequented by television geeks.
||What a way to go
People always seem to remember the "good deaths" featured in Hollywood movies. Whether it's Darth Vader turning back to “The Force” before dying of his wounds in Return of the Jedi or Valeria succumbing to the venom of a snake in Conan's arms in Conan the Barbarian. But for ever "good death" Hollywood also present us with very "bad deaths"; like Private Mellish being stabbed to death by a German soldier in Saving Private Ryan or the legless Kermit the Frog in All Frogs Must Die begging for his life to Miss Piggy. But this begs the question, what are the absolute worst "ways to go" in a Hollywood movie?
||The Revenge of the Duies – The second annual Duie awards.
About this time last year I introduced Fort Wayne to the Duie awards. The Duie, or better known as the Duies, are an attempt to give out awards in lesser-known categories of moviemaking. For example, last year Uma Thurman won the “Best use of a tracksuit in a non track and field movie,” while the award for “Movie aided by Alan Alda in a starring role” once again went unclaimed.
||When it comes to Brit television, you don’t know what you’re missing
When you watch as much television as I do, you sort of come to the realization that the current American television schedule isn't enough. It's not that American shows are boring or uninteresting, it's just that in a given week there's not nearly enough good shows to fill a viewers’ busy schedule. Of course, if you're into shows like The Apprentice, Celebrity Dog Makeover or Celebrity Dog Apprentice then maybe there is enough television for you. But if you're like me and shun reality TV, then you may be lacking things to watch.
||Where have you gone, my Calvin & Hobbes?
It’s hard to believe, but the last day of 2005 will mark the ten-year anniversary of the publication of the last Calvin & Hobbes newspaper strip. Let that sink in a minute. Next December will be ten years missing Calvin, Hobbes, his mother and father, Spaceman Spiff, Tracer Bullet, Stupendous Man, et all.
||It’s not the TV series; it’s where you look.
Late last year here at Dangerous Universe, I talked about two of the best television shows on TV right now – ABC’s Lost and UPN’s Veronica Mars. However, these two shows aren’t the only good episodic series currently being aired on TV. There are a few other options for people wanting to watch good television.
||The “darn good” movies of 2004.
Well, it’s the end of the year and what kind of a man would I be if I didn’t list the movies I felt were the best in 2004!? (Answer: A better one.) But still, I must press on like every other critic in the country at the end of the year and release my “list.”
||Lost about what to watch on television this season?
Earlier this year, I reviewed a smattering of television pilots some of which hit the airwaves this fall. Most of the shows I profiled were never shown on television screens – as the fate of most television pilots produced these days. Still, one of the shows I reviewed last spring turned out to be one of the most successful dramas this fall.
||Summer movies are all the rage this winter
Last week, I looked over my wall calendar featuring all the celestial wonders of the night sky (I bet you do this too) and realized that we’re just FIVE short months away from the next summer movie season. I became so excited that I began to hyperventilate and passed out hitting my head on an old chiffarobe that my friend Tom Robinson was going to come over to break up for firewood. (At least that’s the way I remember it.) There are only around 150 days for Dangerous Universe to prepare for the onslaught of the mindless summer movies. That’s just barely enough time!
||The Number One Comedy on Television Can’t Get Arrested.
Quick question; what’s the “Most Outstanding” comedy on television as awarded by the 2004 Emmy’s? If you guessed Friends, Frasier or CSI: Miami you’d be wrong. Dead wrong.
||Halloween, strange things seen. Skeletons talk, ghosts may walk.
I am in love with Halloween and she is a harsh mistress. As a kid, I loved dressing up in costume and on many occasions wore my Halloween costumes to school – even if I had to break school policy to wear my “duds”. (If you went to Blackhawk Middle School in the late 1980’s, I was the kid who dressed up as a zombie year after year who moaned and shambled his way down school halls during Halloween. Apologies if I tried to bite you so that I could “spread the zombie disease from person to person.” I was obviously a confused kid.)
||Do bad movies brain your rot? What was the question again?
Lately, I’ve been watching a lot of movies. My usual habit of viewing a few movies a week has suddenly turned to a sick addiction. In the past week I’ve managed to watch twenty movies as well as my usual television schedule of six hours a day. Some of these movies include “Bloody” Sam Peckinpah’s masterpieces Bring Me The Head of Alfredo Garcia and Ride the High Country, the classic King Kong, Smokey and the Bandit (“The first thing I’m gonna’ do when I get home is punch your mamma in the mouth.”), Deliverance and Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow to name a few.
||Forget drugs, I’ve found the real threat to our nation’s youth.
On my recent trip to the comic book convention in Chicago, I got into a discussion with people attending the con with me about the things they were most frightened of as kids. I related a few of my best ghost stories and they told me about how scary it can be to test out a snow sled with several dozen bottle rockets attached to the sides. (In homage to Calvin and Hobbes of course.)
||You want Hollywood insider information? We got that too.
A month or two ago while The Fort Wayne Reader took a break from publishing (I suspect rehab) I was forced to do the unthinkable – I had to answer my own e-mail. You have no idea how embarrassing it was for me to hit “receive” in my mail program only to find out that I only had 1,278 messages waiting for me over a span of two weeks. Ugh. And I thought you people liked me.
||Welcome to a Wizard World that’s not ruled by Harry Potter.
“A” is for “August,” that time of year when the weather in northern Indiana turns from hot, to hotter, and then hellish, while the children, gambling on an endless summer from school, are dragged into the local box-marts by parents and are force fed ream upon ream of either wide or college ruled notebook paper.
But that’s not the only reason that August ROCKS! There’s also the annual Wizard World Convention held in Chicago every year where the freaks, geeks, dweebs, spazs, dings, and Trekkies of the world, Midwest America at least, unite to assure each other that there’s nothing wrong with falling in love with a cartoon character or having the Starship Trooper logo tattooed on their upper arm.
||So it's the end of the world.
It’s a bit odd coming back to this column after the short break that The Fort Wayne Reader has taken off the last month. Who knew that trying out a low carb diet during the break would lead to a race that would start at the rim of the Grand Canyon and end on the surface of the Moon?
||My biggest entertainment successes
Last issue, I introduced the world to my biggest entertainment blunders. Some of these bad choices included watching bad television instead of good, not watching Seinfeld on NBC, and being seduced by the power of special effects.
||We all have failures sometimes
Even though I like to think of myself having some inside knowledge of the movie and television industry (it's because of the subscription to Entertainment Weekly) it doesn't mean that I always make the best entertainment choices. I'm sure there have been many good movies and television shows that I have missed over the years even with this "inside" information.
||When good movie trailers go bad
A few years back I learned a high school classmate of mine was working in Hollywood cutting movie trailers together. Let's call him Steve, though that is not his real name because I can’t remember what his real name is.
||What does New Zealand have to be proud about?
Way back in the 1990's (post Beavis and Butthead) Peter Jackson began filming his three-movie epic The Lord of the Rings. What was different with The Lord of the Rings series of movies was that they were not being filmed in California, or more likely on the mean Hollywood friendly streets of Canada, but in New Zealand; a country previously known more for sheep export than cinematographers.
||Random notes on the last few weeks
The movie Battlefield Earth has been airing a lot lately on TV, and I find myself wondering why. Battlefield Earth is one of, if not the, worst movies of all time. The story is awful and the acting performances are sub par at best. Am I missing something here?
||Guilty Pleasure Movies of 2004
Every year movie studios release a group of movies that can best be described as “guilty-pleasures.” These are the sort of movies that serve no purpose other than to fill a few hours with (sometimes forgettable) enjoyment. Not all movies can be considered classics and the following movies don’t even pretend to be.