1/29/2010

[Pic of the Week by Gizmodo]

Apple announced the release of the highly anticipated tablet computer, called "iPad", and this was a red-letter day for Steve Jobs' world conquering company in two other ways. This week, 25 years ago (January 24th 1984), the first Apple Macintosh 128K went on sale becoming the first commercially successful personal computer to feature a mouse and graphical user interface. For all you Apple Cultists out there, this week (January 30, 1982) Richard Skrenta wrote the first publicly released PC virus, called "Elk Cloner", on an Apple computer. One day the company will just make iEarth and we'll all move in. On with the news...
  1. Remember the scene in Star Wars: Revenge of the Sith where Darth Vader realized his wife Padme was dead and let out that whiny scream? Well, I could press the "Nooooooooo!" button all day long. [SciFiWire]
    TOSS-UP: Which Chinese to English translation is funnier: Darth Vader's "Do Not Want!" (A bootlegger's translation of "Nooooo!") or "All Your Base Are Belong to Us" (A translation of the video game phrase "CATS has accepted control of all of your bases")?

  2. TOSS-UP: The animation company Pixar has decided to make all their future movies in 3-D. If they go one step further, which would you rather watch in "Smell-O-Vision": Cars 2 (about a world dominated by cars instead of people) or Toy Story 3 (about a group of living toys looking for their grown up owner).

  3. I hate upcoming production news, so let's get all the reboot movie and television news out of the way in one go:
    * La Femme Nikita - It may be good, but just maybe. Jennifer Garner's Alias pretty much closed the book on female spy television. [SliceofSciFi]
    * Planet of the Apes - This one just feels desperate, but the idea of doing a quasi-sequel telling the story of Cesar, the ape that led to the world of "dang dirty apes" might be worth seeing. [CHUD]
    * Mortal Kombat - This movie sounds kinda cool, if they keep techno music.

  4. Michael Bay says Transformers 3 will feel "very different" from the other two, which means it will have a coherent plot and defined characters.
    ODDSMAKERS: What are the odds that we'll see a robot cry in TF3?

  5. OVER/UNDER: Since J.J. Abrams may not come back to direct the sequel to the wildly successful sci-fi film Star Trek (2009) it's not going to be as good. Using the sequel profit formula (Sequel gross = Original gross + Gross/2) this film will make exactly $486,595,028.
    TOSS-UP: Which Star Trek villain would you rather see in the sequel: Intelligent reptilian humanoid Gorns or genetically engineered super-villain Khan Noonien Singh?

  6. China recently changed the name of their famous "Southern Sky Column" mountains in Zhangjiajie, Hunan province to "Avatar Hallelujah Mountains" in honor of James Cameron's 3-D science-fiction epic Avatar floating mountains. Next year I'm saving up to go to the "Great Avatar Dark Knight Titanic Blade Runner Wall of China." [/Film]

  7. There's an inane rumor that Will Smith (Hancock) is slated to play the star-spangled superhero Captain America and now the Internet Movie Database is showing him in the role as "rumored". While this would be progressive it would ruin the franchise because he could never play Captain America with enough gravitas to do him justice. [ComicBookMovie]

Happy Anniversary
  • This week, on January 28th 1813, Jane Austin's Pride and Prejudice was published in the UK setting the standard for 19th century novels on class and status.196 years later, Seth Grahame-Smith publishes Pride and Prejudice and Zombies coming soon to a theater near you.
  • While definitely not a happy anniversary, this week (January 29th, 1986) the U.S. Space Shuttle Challenger broke apart after lift off, killing all seven astronauts on board. I still remember I was in class when the news broke and it shattered my image of space travel forever as being safe and reliable.
  • On January 28, 1958 Lego patented it's iconic set of bricks. The company, founded in 1932 by Danish carpenter Ole Kirk Christiansen, has produced over 400 billion bricks since then and millions of fond memories. Interestingly, the name comes from the Danish phrase "LEg GOdt," meaning "play well."
What do you think of this weeks news? Let us know in the comments!

1/28/2010

Movie posters of The Last Airbender (that other Avatar movie) have been released and they look nifty. The film, based on a popular children's animated television show, follows a young boy named Aang that discovers he has the power to control the four main elements of earth, air, fire and water. He is pursued by the evil "Fire Lord" and "Fire Clan" who wishes to destroy the last "Avatar".

But, we asked ourselves, what are the chances that M. Night Shyamalan will make a good film?

So, we set out to scientifically chart his career in hopes of prognosticating how his next film would do. We now present "M. Night Shamalyan's Film Career" chart:




Final Conclusion: This is the most expensive film M. Night has ever made and, based on the data, The Last Airbender may make money, but will be nominated for at least one "Golden Raspberry" award.

What do you think of the odds The Last Airbender will be good? Let us know in the comments!
Movies and television have embraced and dramatized cloning since the 1960's, and they've almost always gotten it wrong. The basic principle that movies and television tend to ignore is that a true clone of another human being is nothing more than a twin created artificially rather than the usual method. Instead, the media turns the act of cloning into an extremely complex and slightly mystical procedure. Since it's the year 2010, and human cloning seems right around the corner, let's take a look at the top ten most common mistakes in the portrayal of human cloning in movies and television.

1. Cloning is Evil - In movies and television, no good ever comes from trying to duplicate a human being. Sometimes, this is off-set by the inherent purity and goodness of the clone, but whoever dreamed up or implements the idea is a monster. In movies like Judge Dredd and TV shows like Star Trek, clones are only created by bad people. In reality, there are many scientists who have legitimate reasons for creating human clones (like providing children for infertile parents, creating replacement organs, and bringing dead celebrities back to life). While their reasons may be dubious, very few of them are monstrously evil scientists who spit in the eye of God. A lot of them are just excited by the possibilities. Or misguided. Or stupid. Now the fertility doctor who gave eight kids to the unemployed, over-worked, borderline psychotic Nadya Suleman (a.k.a. Octo-Mom)? That guy's evil incarnate.

2. Evil Duplicates - On the list of cloning errors, this is one of the biggest and most common. In movies like Star Trek: Nemesis, the clone often turns out to be a twisted and evil version of the original. The clone will dedicate its life to crime and/or destruction while the original helplessly struggles to stop it. Of course, there's no scientific reason why a clone should be evil or good, since it's just a genetic duplicate. Whether the clone turned out good or evil would be based on the development of its personality, how it was raised, or its experiences, just like everyone else. There's nothing about the technical act of cloning that would cause someone to be evil. Still, it makes for good drama. But if every clone in our world (also known as twins) produced one good and one evil version, this world would flooded with more evil geniuses than a James Bond movie.

3. Artificial Wombs - One of the most universal themes in human cloning is artificial wombs. From The Matrix to Star Wars II: Attack of the Clones, the good old womb is no longer needed. We don't know exactly how it's done, but naked bodies floating in a fetal position in a vat is essential to the process. Also, it's important to be able to see everything that's going on inside, so the vats are made of clear glass. In reality, the artificial womb is a pipe dream nowhere near reality. Recent efforts have been horrific failures. The reason is that recent research has shown that the human uterus is more than just a bag of fluid to keep the fetus inside. For example, the human mother is actually sending chemical cues back and forth to the growing fetus, a process crucial to normal development. The mother's mood even affects mental development. Maybe one day, they'll create an artificial womb that's equal to or even superior to the natural womb. But for the foreseeable future, it's far easier, cheaper, and less complex to simply grow fetuses inside of a normal womb, perhaps that of an animal or a human surrogate. But I admit, the sight of rows and rows of pregnant pigs isn't as visually striking as the jars.

4. No Free Will - One of the biggest reasons that people have for cloning humans in movies and TV shows is to get armies of mindless drones subject to their every whim. It's a common sight. Look at movies like Judge Dredd and Attack of the Clones, where the clones are created with the idea of having a huge army of genetically superior warriors that immediately obey their creators' every command. In reality, creating an army of clones would be like creating an army of brothers and sisters: they would be no more inherent to obeying commands than anyone else. A lot of sci-fi media explain the zombie-like nature of the clones with brainwashing them in vitro. Of course, in the real world, brain-washing that perfectly imposes your will onto another human is a myth. Besides, even if you had brain-washing technology, you don't really need clones. You could round up a bunch of normal children and do the same thing. Here's a tip for all you potential mad scientists: orphanages are full of kids, and are cheaper than cloning banks.

5. Exact Duplicates - Whenever someone is cloned in movies or TV shows, the clone is always an exact duplicate of the original, right down to the very pores. Check out the armies of soldiers in Attack of the Clones: you couldn't tell them apart if you tried. But if you look at twins in the real world, even identical twins who share the exact same DNA, they are never exactly the same. That's because genetics are only part of what makes someone unique. Things like nutrition, environment, parenting, physical injury (or lack thereof), and personal choice can change someone's appearance drastically. Take a clone of Brad Pitt, give him poor nutrition that reduces his height, give him a bout of bad acne in puberty, break his nose with a football in high school, and you'd be hard-pressed to recognize him in adulthood.

That's just the physical problem. If you wanted to create a human being who would have the same thought pattern and abilities, you're in for an even bigger surprise. In The Boys From Brazil, Nazis clone Adolf Hitler, and it's implied that they are on the verge of resurrecting the greatest and most evil leader in history. Never mind the fact that Hitler's personality and achievements were a product of his childhood, the political environment, and his education. Personality is shaped primarily by our environment, not our DNA. It would be impossible to create a clone with the exact same skills and personality as the original. As disappointed fathers have known for generations, you can't make a child follow any given set of footsteps.

6. The Perfect Being - Another big reason that people go to all the trouble of creating clones in movies and TV is to get the ultimate human. In the movie Twins, scientists mix the DNA of great men in all fields to get a man with the body of a Greek god and the mind of Albert Einstein. Same thing happens in the animated TV series GI JOE, where COBRA clones their new leader Serpentor from the DNA of great dictators like Napoleon and Genghis Khan. The idea is that just mixing the right genes together would get you the perfect being. Of course, the reality is much more complex. First of all, just having the brain of Einstein would only get you so far. His IQ is unknown, but it's likely it was only slightly higher than average. The woman with the highest IQ ever recorded, Marilyn vos Savant, isn't splitting atoms; she's writing an advice column. Likewise, having the genes of an Olympian would be worthless if you didn't have the right exercise program. There's more to perfection than just good genes. And we're also supposed to believe that the perfect being is Arnold Schwarzenegger. Sorry, I don't buy it. Now Milla Jovovich in The Fifth Element? I'm listening.

7. Rapid Aging - It's been seen in movies from Star Trek III: Search for Spock to Alien: Resurrection* Starman. The clone is born (or more commonly hatched) and somehow becomes a full-grown adult in a matter of days or hours. There's usually an implausible or vaguely-defined explanation for why the clone ages so quickly, but rarely a good explanation for why the aging stops at exactly the age of the original. It serves the story - most movies need the clone to be the same as the original so the actor can portray the clone without plastic surgery. Of course, since a clone is nothing more than a twin, it should age the same as the original. In real-life, the evil scientist would hatch the clone, then wait twenty years for it to reach adult age. Very few evil scientists have that kind of patience.

8. Genetic Memory - Another commonly used gimmick in movies or TV shows is something called "genetic memory." The idea basically means that the clone is born with memories from the original literally stored in its DNA. In movies like Alien: Resurrection and The Island, and in TV shows like Jekyll, the clone is able to access memories and abilities from its ancestor. This usually involves sudden flashbacks or amazing abilities that are far beyond the clone's experiences and training. It also means that the clone doesn't have to go through things like English lessons, driving lessons, or martial arts training. In reality, genetic memory is junk science. There's absolutely no scientific evidence that any living organism can store its experiences in its genetic code and pass it on to its offspring. The problem is that memories are stored in the brain, not the DNA. Some of the belief in genetic memories came from experiments performed in the late fifties on flatworms, but these experiments were later discredited. Still, the idea lives on.

9. Rapid Degradation - One of the most common and scientifically inaccurate cliches in sci-fi cloning is that, once created, they degrade quickly. Clones in movies (like Shinzon in Star Trek: Nemesis) and TV shows (like Pollux in The Flash) suffer the same fate as the average Klondike bar: they fall apart quickly over time. This is usually explained by some flaw in the cloning process. This provides dramatic tension for the story (see Rapid Aging) and provides hubris for the creator (see Cloning is Evil). It also allows them to get rid of the clone quickly, so things can go back to normal. Once again, we go back to the fundamental fact of cloning: a clone is a twin. When twins are born in the real world, there's no threat of them suddenly falling apart. Although Dolly the cloned sheep did suffer from some premature aging from the cloning process, it's not the same thing.

10. Accents - One cloning mistake that is less obvious but more egregious is that clones almost always have the accent of the original person they're cloned from. This often happens in movies and TV shows, even when the clone has never met the person he or she is cloned from. For example, the entire clone army from Attack of the Clones have an Australian accent, just like their predecessor, Jango Fett. This would make sense, except that all the clones were created and educated in a mass production laboratory by non-Australian aliens. In the real world, accents are developed from the environment and method where someone learns the language. I admit, it's a small blooper, all things considered, but I needed one more to get to ten. So we're done.

* Actually, Starman is a better example of rapid aging than Alien: Resurrection.

Can you think of any more common cloning mistakes? Got an opinion on the ones listed? Discuss them in the comments.

1/25/2010

Okay, I think we all saw this coming, but it finally happened. Avatar officially earned 1.8 billion dollars over the weekend, surpassing the gross of Titanic over the weekend, making it the number-one highest-grossing movie of all time. That means the two highest-grossing movies ever were written and directed by James Cameron.

Okay, Cameron, you can say it: you're king of the world.

Why were these movies so popular? I think it's because Cameron created the perfect date movies. It appeals to both men and women. Men could enjoy the sinking-ship scenes in Titanic while women could enjoy the romance. Men could enjoy the fighting and aliens in Avatar while women could enjoy the romance. That means the new trend in sci-fi will be chick flicks. I can hardly wait (ugh).

What do you make of Avatar's gross? Let us know in the comments.

1/24/2010

There's an old saying that when you point one finger at someone else, you've got four fingers pointing back at you. That's what I was reminded of when I discovered the identity of the leak of the pre-release print of X-Men Origins: Wolverine. Just to recap, back in April, an unfinished version of Wolverine was leaked onto the Internet a month before release. The studio, the director, and even Hugh Jackman went crazy. The FBI launched a full investigation. In December, they arrested Gilberto Sanchez, a glass installer from the Bronx and charged him with leaking the movie online. Looking deeper into his story, though, it turns out not to be that simple. Sanchez didn't acquire the work-print - he just bought it from a DVD bootlegger outside his apartment, then posted his copy online. No, despite all the fanfare, Sanchez is not the real source of the leak. In fact, shortly after the investigation began, the question of how the workprint got out of the tight security surrounding the film at the studio was answered. The real source of the leak was FOX's CEO, Rupert Murdoch.

You see, it turns out that during the production, Murdoch asked for a DVD of Wolverine to screen for some friends on his yacht. Despite the fact that this is exactly the kind of thing the studio was trying to avoid, a DVD of the movie's work-print ended up on Murdoch's desk as ordered. Along the way, as I'm sure someone probably thought might happen, someone made another copy and the rest is history. The fact that Murdoch hasn't gotten any heat and this glass installer is getting all the blame illustrates one thing: it's good to be the boss.

1/22/2010


This is an unusually nostalgic week here at Geek Twins as we flashback to both the Topp's Star Wars: The Empire Strikes Back stickers and various other toys my brother and I played with in our youth. All we need now is to have a remake of the 80's cartoon show M.A.S.K. to make my life complete. Cast Will Smith as Matt Trakker, Christian Slater as Stiletto and Hugo Weaving as Miles Mayhem. On with the news.
  1. TOSS-UP: You're forced at gun point to choose one costume to wear to the Source Awards: would it be the Star Wars Tie-Fighter costume helmet OR the Star Wars crocheted Yoda hat? [Starwars\Force.net]
    Let us know in the comments

  2. One surprising side-effect of the Disney\Marvel acquisition is the $50 million Broadway musical Spider-Man, Turn off the Dark, which was shut down due to lack of fundage, is back on.Oddly enough, knowing that Disney has their fingers in the pie makes me feel better about it. It's going to be a train wreck, but at least it will be the kind of train wreck that ends with soft bunny rabbits and cartoon deer strewn on the ground.
    ODDMAKERS: What are the odds that this musical will last for 200 performances or a month (whichever comes first)?
    Let us know in the comments

  3. ODDMAKERS: After news that Martin Luthor King Jr. personally asked Nichelle Nichols to stay as Star Trek's Lieutenant Uhuru, because she was "the first non-stereotypical role in television", what are the odds that Al Sharpton will petition for a film version of Homeboys in Outer Space (1996)? [GeekTyrant]
    Let us know in the comments

  4. The "leaked" (yeah right) set pictures of the new Predators look exactly like the 1996 Kenner Predator toys my brother and I had as kids. I'm not sure if that's a good or bad thing. R.I.P Kevin Peter Hall. [io9]

  5. News that the release of four new movie tie-in Star Trek novels (Star Trek: Refugees, Star Trek: Seek A Newer World, Star Trek: More Beautiful Than Death and Star Trek: The Hazard of Concealing) have been delayed by the publishing company deciding "to hold off on telling new stories while JJ and his team continue to develop his vision". Presumably they're referring to the as-yet-unwritten Star Trek sequel. I think this shows a new intention to remain creative control and prevent the books from going outside the canon of the movies...finally. [io9]

  6. Even after news that people were naming their dogs after Twilight, I'm still not convinced people are naming their babies after Avatar characters. The popularity of the name Pandora is just a coincidence, since it's already popular.[SciFiSquad]
    TOSS-UP: Which would you name your next kid: Neytiri or Tourok?
What do you think of this week's news? Let us know in the comments!

    1/21/2010

    Sometime Google Ads (Adsense) scans our posts and has some unintentionally hilarious connections.
    The best is the one from This Week in Geek 10/30/2009 (which talks about a guy looking for an amputee to complete his Chewbacca costume) which offered an ad for "Amputee Dating". The best one I've found since then is James Cameron Calls Out the Raincoat Brigade for Avatar which proudly offered up an ad for "Trenchcoats - Huge Sale".

    Have you spotted any funny ads in our blog? Let us know in the comments!

    1/20/2010

    Sony has officially announced the Spider-Man franchise will be directed by former music video director Marc Webb. Let's take at the legacy of Sam Raimi's directorial masterpiece: the Spider-Man trilogy.

    A self-confessed Spider-Man fan, when Raimi took the director's chair he was just transitioning from the world of independent film to big Hollywood. He still had the style and grace of his early days, but had a few dramatic flicks under his belt with The Quick and the Dead (1995 ) and A Simple Plan (1998) to persuade the suits he could make a big budget action film. From the very beginning, his love of the character shined with plucky choices like Spider-Man's organic web-shooters, the Green Goblin's battle-suit and casting the little-known Tobey Maguire as Peter Parker. His signature style remained in tact with dramatic close-ups and sweeping camera shots.

    The first two films were a runaway success catapulting the character to new heights of popularity, but the third film suffered from lack of direction and studio pressure. In the end, it was Raimi's struggle to reconnect with the character, juggle villains, adapt to technology and still satisfy the studio that did him in. It was a successful run though and, as he moves on to other projects, he'll always be remembered as one of the finest comic-book movie directors in the business.

    What did you think of Sam Raimi as the director of Spider-Man? Let us know in the comments!
    [Image from Videogameblogger]

    1/18/2010

    Almost any male child of the eighties has a special place in their hearts for He-Man and the Masters of the Universe. One of the most bizarre and fun action figures ever created, characters like Skeletor, He-Man, Trap-Jaw, and Man-at-Arms still trigger fond memories. Yet the series has never really gotten much respect, partly because of its quirkiness (with figures like Stinkor and Mekaneck, who can blame them). But the Masters of the Universe have a new member in their ranks, the Master of Pop Art.

    The Gallery 1988 Museum teamed up with Mattel and an army of nostalgic artists to create Under The Influence: Masters of the Universe Tribute Art Show. The show features a hundred pieces of original artwork inspired by the toy series. Some of them, like "Bound Before The Right Eye Of Greyskull," are dramatic. Others, like "Trimming The Bowl Cut," are hilarious. Still others like "Heroic Warriors" (seen at the right) are just plain fun. If you can't get away to Los Angeles to check out the show, you can browse the gallery online.

    What do you make of the Master of the Universe Art Show? Let us know in the comments!
    Just dying to see Ryan Reynolds in costume as the Green Lantern for the upcoming movie? Then check it out. Here's the first top secret photo straight from the set of Reynolds in his test costume. Okay, not really. It's actually fan-made art from Josh MC. But it's pretty freakin' awesome, both as a Green Lantern costume, and a photoshopped fake. One can only hope the real costume looks this good.

    What do you think of this pic? Let us know in the comments!

    1/17/2010

    The second in our continuing series Comic Questions is asking the questions that comic book fans are afraid to ask. We'll be pointing out the gaping flaws in logic in some of the most beloved figures and concepts in comic books. Why? Because it's kind of funny. This week, we look at the length of Wolverine's claws.

    Let's make it clear: Wolverine is a great character. The idea of a guy with unbreakable, razor-sharp knives that he can pop out whenever he wants is awesome. But let's ask the question that needs to be asked: how does Wolverine bend his arms?

    The idea is relatively simple. Wolverine has three indestructible metal blades (commonly called "claws") sheathed inside each forearm. When he wants to pop them out, muscles attached to the claws force them out from the back of his hands. When he's done, he pulls the claws back into his arm again.

    But according to comic book lore, each claw blade is twelve inches long when extracted. You also have to add on a couple inches that stay inside the arm to keep the claws stabilized, giving the total length of each claw fourteen inches. The average male's forearm is the same length as his foot. Given the fact that Wolverine is 5'3", and he doesn't have enormous fourteen-inch feet, we can assume his forearms are not fourteen inches long. That means his claws wouldn't fit entirely inside his forearm, so part of them would have to be inside his elbow and bicep. That also means that whenever he bent his arms, the ends of his claws would tear out of his forearms and/or elbows. I guess that wouldn't make for a very good comic, Wolverine running around with his arms sticking straight out.

    UPDATE: Added some pics from the comics to prove the point.

    1/15/2010


    Pic of the Week by Funnyjunk.com
    Now that's a movie I'd like to see. The Nav'i are in outer space because they're too scared to be on the same planet as Chuck Norris. On with the news.
    1. I was excited about The-Network-Formerly-Known-as-SciFi's Battlestar Galactica spin-off, Caprica, until producer Ronald Moore said, "It's setting out to tell a very different story... It's planet-based, instead of space-based, it's not action-adventure, it's much more centered on two families than a military environment. We wanted it to be much more about contemporary society and problems that are coming up on a social front as well as a technological front." So, apparently, it's a science-fiction version of The Gilmore Girls. [about.com]

    2. While the producer of Repo! The Genetic Opera is naturally upset about the new Jude Law movie Repo Men, which both feature a future where organ transplants are repossessed when the owners can't pay, I think he just needs to keep it in perspective. It's an original idea with great potential, but did they really think it would hit the big time as a funky rock opera with Paris Hilton? Do what Robert S. Fiveson, who had his 1979 film Parts: the Clonus Horror ripped off by Michael Bay for The Island, did and sue the studio. Otherwise, quit whining. [io9]

    3. OVER\UNDER: The lawsuit by Marvel against four of Jack Kirby's progeny, who are trying to cancel copyrights to Spider-Man, Fantastic Four and other Marvel characters, will be settled in two years.

    4. The downgrading of NBC's Day One, about a group of apartment neighbors surviving in a post-apocalyptic world, from a prime-time series to a TV movie shows that network television doesn't have the guts for science-fiction anymore. In two seasons, serialized science-fiction shows will be extinct on network television. [io9]
      TOSS-UP: Who would you rather share a post-apocalyptic apartment with: Will Smith or Denzel Washington?

    5. Even though directors like Michael Bay insist that 3-D is a fad, the success of Avatar in 3-D will convince studios to pressure directors to, at least, consider filming big-budget movies in three dimensions. [/Film]

    1/13/2010

    For some reason, one of our most popular posts to date is "TV Movie The Phantom Images Released", so here's an update: It's dead. Syfy made a big splash about the upcoming mini-series based on Lee Falk's purple-suited comic character "The Phantom" last year with a sneak peek and then quietly snuck off hoping no one would remember it. Imdb says the film is in post-production with a Canadian air date of December 20th of last year. Ryan Carnes, who plays the hero, Chris Moore, lists this film as his last project. This is not surprising considering everyone hated the goofy costume redesign and the trailer looked like something out of a cracker-jack box.

    Even the plot summary by Muse Entertainment, the Canadian film company, sounds awful:
    "Law student and parkour runner ('traceur') Chris is shocked to learn that he was adopted and that he is actually the son of The Phantom, a caped crime-fighter. He joins the Phantom team in the jungles of Bengalla to be expertly trained in martial arts and combat, and emerges as the next Phantom to battle the assassins of the evil Singh Brotherhood."
    First off, the Phantom never wore a cape. He wore a skin-tight bodysuit with a lone ranger mask and a hood.  Second, how in the world does a law student have time to learn the complex, and physically demanding, sport of parkour? Third...what?

    I think the ridiculous plot and, almost universally panned, costume design left the series with so much bad buzz that it fall apart. There. Now we can all stop talking about it and look forward to the Austrailian big-screen reboot "The Phantom: Legacy" starring Crocodile Dundee. Just kidding...but it would be kinda cool.

    How many Phantom reboots would you like to see? Let us know in the comments!
    [Image by Nerdage]

    1/12/2010

    The news just broke Monday morning on Deadline.com and was confirmed by Sony in a press release that afternoon: Spider-Man 4 will not be a sequel, but a reboot of the franchise without Sam Raimi, Tobey Maguire or any other member of the current franchise. Apparently, Raimi said he couldn't maintain creative integrity and meet the release date. Sam raised with a pair of twos and Sony called his bluff, deciding just to drop the whole thing and start fresh. They already have an early script by James Vanderbilt that focuses on "a teenager grappling with both contemporary human problems and amazing super-human crises." Sony is calling the parting "bittersweet," but there's no word from Raimi and Raimi said he knows "they will do a terrific job". Tobey, who was tired of the films anyway, said he's "excited to see the next chapter unfold" without him.

    I have mixed feelings about this, since I loved the first two films and loathed the third. Most likely, they'll take more cues from the Ultimate Spider-Man series which will only make it better. Here's my wish list for the reboot: Make Peter Parker really nerdy and goofy, including the glasses. Focus on modern problems that teenagers have like Facebook bullying and cellphone videos of Spider-Man. Hire an actor to play Parker that is really a teenager. Hire an actress to play Mary Jane that actually looks like a future model. Keep the mechanical web-shooters, since the organic ones in his wrists made even less sense. Don't bother trying to explain the wall-crawling, since we know it doesn't make sense. Tie the series into the movie Marvel universe by having "Wolverine" stop by to borrow a cup of sugar.

    UPDATE: Sam Raimi came out with a statement late yesterday about leaving the franchise.

    What do you think of Spider-Man without Raimi and Maguire? Let us know in the comments...
    [Image from Collider]

    1/11/2010

    Recently, Megan Fox has been quoted as saying that she likes nerds. While a lot of the geek community are salivating with cries of "I have a shot," my reaction is different. You know what I say to that? Megan Fox, we don't need your charity! Megan Fox has been dating Brian Austin Green, hardly the prototypical nerd. When was the last time you saw Megan Fox on the red carpet with a guy with a pocket protector? How often does Megan Fox walk out of ComicCon with a nerd on each arm? This is akin to women who say the thing they want most in a guy is a sense of humor. Right. Like Gilbert Gottfried has ever been on any "sexiest guy" poll in any magazine anywhere. Uh...not that I'm bitter or anything.

    What do you make of Megan Fox's comments? Let us know in the comments!

    1/10/2010

    When Google announced its new custom smartphone, what did its name Nexus One bring to mind? Futuristic? Technology? Focus? Coolness? Blade Runner?

    Yes, Blade Runner. The estate of the late science-fiction writer Phillip K. Dick, author of the novel Do Androids Dream of Electric Sheep that inspired the movie Blade Runner, is planning to file a lawsuit against Google. They claim that the term "nexus one" is violation of copyright.

    You see, the term "nexus" was not invented by Phillip K. Dick. And the term "nexus one" never appeared in the original novel or the movie. Rather, "Nexus-6" is the name of the most advanced and dangerous model of android in the novel. That's kind of a stretch, but the Dick estate argues that "nexus" has a connection to the novel, because of the name of Google's OS: Android.

    In my opinion, this case doesn't have a leg to stand on. The definition of copyright infringement is that the offending product is so similar to your product that its uniqueness will be tainted. If you have to explain how something is a violation of copyright, then it's not a violation. If Google named their smartphone Mickey Mouse, this would be an open-and-shut case.


    What do you think of the Nexus One lawsuit? Let us know in the comments.

    1/08/2010

    There's an interview in LA Times with Tim Burton about directing his upcoming movie, Alice in Wonderland. The movie looks like it's going to be incredible, but it doesn't take much reading between the lines to see that Burton is not happy filming this movie. He complains incessantly about working with the special effects. Here are some samples:

    Q: ...how liberating has it been to utilize these new tools [green screen and CGI]?
    A: I don't feel liberated yet, no, only because it's a very strange process. On a live-action, you've got actors, you've got sets and that's what I like. This is almost the opposite of that. You've got a lot of pieces and not until very late in the game do you see a finished shot. I think I've yet to see a finished shot. It's quite a scary, daunting process...This is the first time I've dealt with a lot of green screen and it drives you nuts. After a while you start to get kind of jittery and crazy.
    Q: Would you do something this technically complex again?

    A:
    ...I don't really know what the outcome's going to be. Any film you do, you just kind of finish and you wish you could spend a little bit more time on this or that...I don't even think I'm that much of a perfectionist, but it's hard to let go of anything.

    I find it kind of funny that Burton is complaining so much about not being able to see the finished product when his background is in stop-motion, which takes days to produce seconds of film. But compare his reaction to green screen to George Lucas', who clearly embraced green screen and CGI with open arms. And Burton is arguably a better director. Still looking forward to the movie, if Burton doesn't go insane during the production. Then again, one might argue that would make for a better movie. Then again, one might argue Burton's already gone insane. Then again, one might argue that it's time to move on.

    What do you think of the new Alice in Wonderland movie? Let us know in the comments.



    [Pic of the Week by Tronguy.net]

    The amazing thing about the above picture is not that we have a big fat guy dressed in a white spandex bodysuit, but that there is a big fat guy dressed in a white spandex bodysuit who's proud of it. Jay Maynard actually does personal appearances all over the world. You have to love that kind of self-confidence. On with the news.
    1. I'm going to make up a term I'm calling the "Titanic Effect" which describes the power that tween and teenage girls have on popular culture. It was this singular affect that pushed Titanic to being one of the highest grossing films of all-time and we're seeing it again with Twilight. Twilight, for those living in a Sarlac pit, is a series of novels written for young, teenage girls (see the book category if you want to contest this) about a girl and her forbidden love for an emo vampire. Now we've reached the climax: the name of the main character, Bella, has beat out, "Max", as the most popular name for dogs.  I'm tempted to get upset, but I think there's a certain irony in people saying, "I sure do love Twilight. I know! I'll name my smelly four-legged mutt after her!  That way, when I'm walking my dog I can say, 'Go ahead and poop on the lawn, Bella!'" [SciFiWire]

    2. A Monty Python quote - “Strange women lying in ponds distributing swords is no basis for a system of government. Supreme executive power derives from a mandate from the masses, not from some farcical aquatic ceremony.” - has topped Wired Magazine's list of "100 Quotes every geek should know." It's all subjective of course, but the "unladen swallow" quote is much funnier to me.
      TOSS-UP - The best use of the term "Unladen Swallow": Google's Python script optimization project or Style.org's detailed mathematical analysis of the question?

    3. Since the "Underoo-bomber", Umar Farouk Abdulmutallab who tried to blow up a Detroit airliner by sewing a bomb to his underwear, there has been a lot of talk about reinstating the full-body scanners in airports. The ACLU sued to stop them, but the TSA promises to blur pictures of passenger's faces and delete all images produced. We should just scrap the whole privacy debate and go full on into Total Recall style x-ray scanners.
      ODDSMAKERS: What are the odds that we'll still be walking through these scanners in five years?

    4. ***Spoiler Alert*** News that the special edition DVD release of Avatar will have an expanded sex scene, which was deleted to get a PG-13 rating, makes me sad since the original scene was beautifully understated. [SciFiWire]
      ***

    5. This week George Lucas' was on the Daily Show and he gave a smarmy assertion that "there is a whole new group of kids who loved [the new trilogy] and they didn't like [the original trilogy]" and whether you like the new Star Wars movies or not depends on when you were born. I'm old enough to have watched the original and the new series and this opinion borders on the delusional. It must be nice to live in a world where your botched mistakes can be seen as success just by turning your head in the other direction.

    6. TOSS-UP - Now that Sony and Sam Raimi are squabbling over the villain should be in Spider-Man 4 (Raimi wants the "Vulture" while Sony wants "Black Cat" and anyone other than "Vulture"), who would you least like to see in the movie: "Kraven The Hunter" (He wears a lion skin vest and is a really, really good hunter) or "Mysterio" (He wears a fishbowl and creates illusions)? [Empire]
      ODDSMAKERS: With the script, and possibly, shooting now being delayed, what are the odds that Spider-Man 4 will meet its original release date of May 5, 2011?
    What do you think of this week's news? Let us know in the comments!
    AVH: Alien vs. Hunter  (2007) is a masterpiece of poor film making with boring characters, lazy special effects and a pedestrian plot ripped off from a mediocre film, but still manages to be worth watching. William Katt, famous for his role in the 80s hit Greatest American Hero, stars as a washed up writer in a small California town who leads a ragtag band of whiners from one place after another getting decimated by the "Alien" and the "Hunter". The motivations of the characters are so obscure that when one character kisses Katt on the forehead she goes into an embarrassed ramble of how she didn't mean it. Why would such a platonic action need to explained so vigorously?

    The movie poster grossly exaggerates the quality of the special effects in this film, which are wonderfully atrocious. While the "heroes" face off against a guy in a bad rubber suit they would cut to a shot of a huge honkin' spider-like monster walking through the forest. I was halfway through before I realized they were supposed to be the same creature. The filmmakers at "The Asylum" obviously created the suit, and then changed what he looked like in post-production CGI. The Hunter, meanwhile, looks like a collection of parts taken from the bargain bin at a hardware store. Don't bother looking back at the poster, because the Hunter looks nothing like that.

    *** SPOILER ALERT! *** I'm going to give away the "twist ending" because it exemplifies something I've noticed about "Asylum" films. In the end, the Hunter takes off his mask and reveals he's human. He talks to someone, in English, looking forward to the next hunt. So, was he a human-looking alien on Earth or was he a human on an Earth-like alien planet? We're not sure, but if we assume he was a human-looking alien on Earth then why was he letting the monster run amok and not even try to communicate with the poor saps stuck in the middle? If it wasn't Earth why was everything exactly the same as Earth in such boring ways? The biggest problem with this "twist" is that it completely depends on you having seen the original. If we don't assume the Hunter is an alien creature from the beginning, then it's no surprise.
    ***

    Overall, this film gets a reverse three stars since it lacks everything you'd want from a good film, but has everything you'd want from a bad one. Bad special effects, lame dialogue, pointless violence and a ridiculous premise.
    -*** stars out of five

    1/07/2010


    Tron Legacy, the sequel to the 1982 film Tron, is being released in December and anyone born in the last 10 years probably has no idea why. Looking at it from 2010, the film looks cheesy, boring and ugly.
    So, to help put the film in context, I'll give a brief overview of why Tron is one of the best science-fiction films ever made.

    The movie follows Kevin Flynn, a video game programmer played by Jeff Bridges, who is abducted to a surreal "world" inside computers where programs are people fighting in games. He joins "Tron", a security program played by Bruce Boxleitner, in his struggle to overthrow a dictatorial program known as MCP (Master Control Program), played by David Warner.

    Let's look at the culture of the year 1982: Arcades were king at this time, because it was the only real way to enjoy video games. In the early 80s, an IBM personal computer cost about $4,995 ($10,662 in 2008 dollars). So back then, you could purchase a new car or get a PC. Game consoles, like the Atari 5200, were incredibly popular, but looked more like stick figures fighting.  If you wanted to play a popular game then you had to go to the arcade.

    Movies about video games and computers, like Hackers or Matrix are common today, but in 1982 these films were unheard of. Even basic computer ideas like the character "Bit" that only responded with "Yes" and "No" - a parallel to the binary one and zero - left people scratching their heads. So, for many, it was an educational experience to understand the computer revolution occurring all around them

    Finally, let's look at the special effects technology of the 1980s. Lucas' Star Wars was the pinnacle of movie effect technology, but CGI simply didn't exist in film at that time beyond simple wire-frame raster graphics. This was the first time that live-action and computer graphics were combined in a movie, and the effect was stunning. The 80s neon glow "computer world" effect was achieved by filming the live-action scenes in black-and-white using back-lit screen projection on black sets. This technique led to some of the stilted acting, since it was almost impossible for the actors to know what they were responding to.

    The film single-handedly affected the way people think about computers, video games and the role of CGI in movies forever. All that in a film from twenty thirty years ago.

    BONUS LINK: Steve Lisberger, Exclusive TRON (Disney) Interview

    Do you care about the Tron remake? Let us know in the comments!

    Update: Thanks to curemode for pointing out that Tron is almost thrity years old now!

    1/05/2010

    Being rich means never having to say "I'm bald."
    Last year James Cameron said, "[Avatar] makes 'Titanic' look like a picnic," and it seems he was right. Avatar, which cost $430 million to finance, has already made over $1 billion in three weeks. Along with Sherlock Holmes, it led to a record breaking weekend and is nominated for four 2010 Golden Globe awards, including "Best Director" and "Best Motion Picture." He still has a ways to go before eclipsing "Titanic's" $1.8 billion, eight Golden Globe nominations and three Oscars, but it's still an amazing achievement.  Personally, I hope he wins so he can yell, "I see you! Whooooo!" in his acceptance speech.

    What do you think of Avatar's success? Let us know in the comments!

    1/03/2010

    Dollhouse promo photoScifiwire wrote an interesting article on "7 Ways Dollhouse Could Have Been Great." Personally, I don't agree with most of them, because they don't address the fundamental flaws in the show. So here's my version: 5 Ways Dollhouse Could Have Been Great.

    5. Don't make the hero an Active. This is probably the most radical change to the series, but I think an important one. If you're going to make the Actives child-like automatons with no personality or control over their lives, don't make them the main characters. Focus on someone else at the Dollhouse. Make one of the handlers the main character or even a client. But by the same token...

    4. Give the Actives real personalities. I think the number one flaw in Dollhouse was the idea to make the Actives default to childish zombies. According to the show, all the Actives were mind-wiped after agreeing to become dolls. When Echo was on a mission, she had a new personality that was vibrant, interesting, and compelling. But the moment she was reset to her default personality, she was dull as dishwater. She had only a vague understanding of what her life was about and followed commands blindly. We have no one to root for, because it wasn't really possible to care about Echo. I think the show would've been more interesting if the Actives hadn't had their minds wiped before entering the Dollhouse. I would have had them keep their original personalities between missions. They would remember their lives before the Dollhouse, and be fully aware of what was happening to them, have opinions and feelings about their missions, and would evolve as characters. That would give us a reason to watch each week. But that leads to another change...

    3. Make the Actives prisoners, not volunteers. One of the other problems with Dollhouse was the dubious morality of the facility. I mean, the Actives are volunteers, but are also mind-wiped so they can't give consent anymore. The Actives are monitored and protected while they're on their missions, but are sometimes assigned things that are dangerous or immoral. You were never sure if you were supposed to be rooting for the Actives or hoping they escaped. I know one could argue that the show was richer by dealing in shades of gray, not black and white. I disagree. I think the show would have been better if the Dollhouse had been clearly defined as evil. One big step in that direction would have been to have the Actives be unwilling participants. Make them prisoners, kidnapped and forced to carry out this life by the Rossum Corporation. The Dollhouse would be more than just a place to stay between missions - it would be a literal prison. Then there's a dramatic tension as we tune in to see if they manage to escape each week. Which would lead to...

    2. Have Echo remember her missions. I think another major problem with the show was that there was no real dramatic tension. No matter what happened to Echo, no matter how much trouble she got into, no matter what kind of emotional impact she suffered, it was always solved the same way. At the end of every episode, they put Echo in the chair, hit the reset button, and she was fine again. I would have her remember her missions, so the emotional impact could make her evolve. For example, there was an episode where they programmed her to be a protective mother, then took away her baby. The episode had real impact and drama as she fought to keep the baby, torn apart by her maternal instincts...until they reset her personality, and she forgot everything. No more drama, move on to the next episode. By having her remember, Echo would have carried that pain on through the series. That's a dramatic arc. They kind of started doing that in the second season. Too little, too late. But knowing what kind of Hell the Dollhouse was putting her through could have led to a big change, and that would have been...

    1. Have Echo escape the Dollhouse. Besides the way the Dollhouse protected her from emotional harm, they also protected her from physical harm. The Dollhouse monitored her, protected her, rescued her, and repaired her. That meant another major reason to watch the show was missing - she rarely was in real danger. The writers knew this. That's why, every episode, her handler would lose track of her or wouldn't be able to get to her right when she needed them most. It became a cliche. Echo needed to get away from the Dollhouse and its protection, face the world on her own and in danger. The show would become about her trying to survive and escape the Dollhouse's attempts to return her to her prison, while using her new-found abilities to change personalities at will.

    By the way, what's the deal with Dr. Saunders, a.k.a. Whiskey? Last we saw, she escaped the Dollhouse and was driving off into the sunset. Everybody seemed to shrug their shoulders and move on. You're telling me they wouldn't have put everything and everyone on hold to get her back? They sent two Actives on long-term missions to manipulate the detective Paul Ballard to keep him from finding the Dollhouse. Why wouldn't they send every Active out to track down Whiskey? More sloppy writing.

    Anyway, what do you think of these changes to Dollhouse? Let us know in the comments.

    1/01/2010


    [Pic of the week by Springfield Punks via Gizmodo]

    It was kind of weird writing the date as 010110. In hex color code it's, basically, black. In binary it's 22, and the 22nd letter of the alphabet is V.  Coincidentally, we talk about a black guy named Laurence Fishbourne and the TV show V. I tried to find some kind of news using the number 22, to round it out, but couldn't come up with anything. Next year the date will be 01/01/11 (00010111 is 23 in binary) and I'll bet people go all "woo-woo" about what it portends. Speaking of numerology, Knowing was garbage. Let's get on with the news.
    1. Avatar has been the most bootlegged film ever, and Avatar: The Making of the Bootleg is a mock behind-the-scenes video of a bootleg production team including a "Bootleg Director" ("If you end up shooting, and you get caught, you know to act like you're retarded right?") a "Bootleg Art Director" ("The visuals are so stunning they really need to be watched on a reasonably sized TV.") and a "Bootleg Producer" ("One of the landmark things that Tim is doing is shooting from two different angles. So, we are seeing it from the front and from the left.") Oddly enough, even though I've seen the movie twice, it makes me want to watch the bootleg version. [JoBlo]
    2. This was a spanking good week for collectibles. You can either purchase a Lynda Carter Likeness Wonder Woman Bust for $80 or a full-sized replica of the Back to the Future Delorean for $85k. [Comicbookmovie]
      TOSS-UP: In a fight, who would win: Thor or Wonder Woman? Thanks to ElectricFerret for raising the question.
    3. I was bored by the idea of the Predators (2010) movie, written by the venerable Robert Rodriguez, until I heard they've cast Laurence Fishburne. While the movie will be worthless, his performance will save the film, since Larry makes everything better including Pee-Wee's Playhouse.
    4. The alien-invasion show V suffered from plummeting ratings, so ABC has cut the episode run by one to 12. If such a widely hyped show gets cancelled, this will end 80s remakes for a while. [Scifiwire]
      ODDS-MAKERS: V: The Series (1984) ran 19 episodes. What are the odds V (2009) will air more episodes?
    5. TOSS-UP: Sir Patrick Stewart (Captain Picard) or Knight Peter Jackson (King Kong)?
    6. James Cameron said in an interview on MTV, "They've done the good [superheroes] and they're starting to get down to the second and third tier of superheroes - the guys that would not be asked to speak at the annual superhero dinner." He has a point about descending the superhero ladder, but I think it actually creates opportunities for lesser known heroes to shine. Most people had never heard of "Iron Man", but he's become one of the biggest superhero franchises ever. [Splashpage]
      TOSS-UP: Who'd you rather see in a movie: "Hong-Kong Phooey" or "Dazzler?
    Do you agree or disagree? Let us know in the comments!
    UPDATE: Minor grammatical changes.

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