Wednesday, May 13, 2009

Guess whether or not I liked Star Trek (2009)

Easy guess. You'd be right if you said I can't stop thinking or talking about it ever since last Friday. I think my buddy Ron is probably hoping a Delta Vegan drakoulias would eat me, then be consumed itself by the hengrauggi, if only if it would shut me up. I have tentatively inserted the latest Star Trek film on my list of 100 favorite films of all time as #24, just above Iron Man just below Attack of the Clones (and bumping poor#74 to make room). Repeat viewings will either push it higher or lower, depending. This list fluctuates a lot, but until I see every movie that ever was I think that's better than locking it off and denying that new films exist. Anyhoo, without further poodoo, my revoo. It's SO good! No seriously. If you'd asked me a year ago I'd never have believed it. I felt like the last guy at the Star Trek party, standing by the Romulan Ale saying hey, guys, there's still some life left in this old horta, let's keep it going heh, heh...aww. So I gave up, tried to convince myself that the well had gone dry and let's face it, Voyager and Enterprise were feeling a little stale in places toward the end. Star Trek was dead and I'd have to do without it for a decade or two...Then they tell me that Abrams guy is going to direct a brand new cast of newbies and I'm thinking oh, crap, it's gonna suck so hard. It's gonna (a) be some Lost-style cynical misery fest where Spock flashes back to how he's secretly a child molester or (b) some mindless Top Gun-esque pap where Bones and Kirk fly fighter jets into each other's thruster ports if you know what I mean. Slowly--oh, so slowly I tried and tried to get into it... oh, Simon Pegg? I like him. John Cho? Cool. Sylar? Oh, lord beer me strength, what if it's as bad as Heroes? Abrams brags 'I'm no Star Trek fan' 'This isn't a film for Star Trek fans' and I'm thinking 'Way to alienate me'. WINONA RIDER IS SPOCK'S MOM? What are they thinking? Oh, but then the TRAILERS started... they might win me back. If only... what... they didn't build the Enterprise on the ground! Cannon! Continuity! But the kids at work are like, oh, migod, the new Star Trek's gonna be SO cool. And I'm like. I'm so, so very old. Buuut... Simon Pegg! And then.. Leonard Nimoy! Really? So they aren't trying to rape my childhood? THEN- the comic book Countdown. Not that DC Countdown pile of dogshit. Star Trek Countdown: Nero and Spock, backstory, Captain Data, Ambassador Picard, Geordi builds a Jellyfish, ROMULUS explodes!?! Hey, these WRITERS are good! And... this is key... IT'S A BRAND NEW ALTERNATE REALITY. They aren't crapping on the old continuity, they're building a SECOND Star Trek world from the beginning. Then they smuggled the new film to some old-school fans and won them over. Every trailer looked better than the last. Space channel ran the Fandom Forums, I watched old fans getting excited, new fans being seduced. The action figures and toys showed up... I bought one for my friend Anthony. Despite myself, I'd done a complete 180. I was excited in the lineup. AND I LOVED IT. It was really well done. This is a fun, funny, action adventure. Stuff goes boom. Every single actor does what I hoped and several points more. Pine is handsome, cocky, runs and fights. Quinto IS Spock. Turns out he's an actor and shit, I was wrong. Karl Urban blew me away- this is a McCoy to love. Saldana is lovely, sassy. Cho is kick-ass. Young Anton is a splendid Chekov, Bruce is a Pike to respect. Yes, Simon Pegg is a delight. This shouldn't surprise you. Even Winona Rider turned out just fine- what was I so worried about? The effects rock, of course. The story is timey-wimey, you KNOW I'm down with that, yo. Nostalgia factor is high- this is good retro, but the new things are good too, like Deep Roy's Keenser. Or blink-and-you'll-miss-it alien doctor delivering Kirk: Nice eyes! And nice green on Cadet Gaila- how I hope she didn't die on one of those poor starships at Vulcan... couldn't the Enterprise use a peppy outgoing Orion in her smalls? SOMEBODY has to keep the sonic showers warm in the ALREADY underway sequel... allright, one-track mind, right, right, but a guy can dream.
CAUTION! CAUTION! SPOILERS are now included in this nit-picking addendum: there is a scene on Delta Vega, an icy world, where desert Vulcan can be seen exploding in the sky before Spock's eyes. This, in a movie with warp-speed beaming, time-paradox, alternate reality, planetary core drilling, and what-have-you shouldn't bug me, but it did. If it's close enough to see, wouldn't they be in essentially the same orbit and if so why is one cold and the other hot? Actually bugged me for a few days off and on, and then I remembered 'The Immunity Syndrome'. In that episode, Spock SENSED the death of a shipload of Vulcans from across the galaxy. I decided the scientifically dubious explosion scene (which, after all, is a flashback within a mind-meld) was an emotionally charged representation of Spock's telepathic SENSING of Vulcan's demise, not a literal recounting of something he SAW visually. Thus, Delta Vega is probably not in the same system as Vulcan, VERY unlikely to be close enough to see explode (otherwise wouldn't Scotty and Keenser have detected it too and been more freaked out?). There. My problem created and solved for your amusement. Now somebody tell me why a computer that should understand Vulcan, Klingon, Romulan, Orion Prime, and what-not can't suss out RUSSIAN-ACCENTED ENGLISH? Well, what the hell. The toy phaser I bought has a little flashy, spinning muzzle that flips from stun to kill. So, actually, everything is actually right with the world.

Saturday, May 2, 2009

Free Comic Book Day

Today I took a long bus ride to Manning Crossing Shopping Center with lunch chicken frustratingly lodged in my back molar, scratching my scruffy beard in anticipation of meeting Ty Templeton. He's the author and artist behind many things, including some issues of my beloved She-Hulk, the very probably awesome but hard to find Spider-Man/Human Torch "I'm With Stupid" story, and more. I was first in line to shake his hand and he got a chuckle out of my 'Kirk is My BFF' t-shirt. I monopolized his time from a bit after one o'clock until nearly 2:30, leaving his table occsionally to give others a chance, and to buy his 'Star Trek:Mission's End' comics, enter some draws, and drool over Doctor Who spaceships.
Ty (I choose to call him Ty, plus it's his name) calls Dan Slott 'Danny', speaks regularly with him by phone and says they help each other with story points. Ty's art is quite good, and I coveted his story pages including a Green Lantern page from 'Two-Minute Warning'. However, I didn't want to see my wife's reaction to the cost. He showed me his Hoverboy comic, and I showed him my Monkey McDevill #2 in the Tales from the Harbor anthology. He laughed at the strategically placed dialog balloons in the shower scene. He signed my copy of his 'Howard the Duck: Media Duckling' trade paperback.
I began my rant: "Howard's great... now, don't get me wrong..."
"You mean Steve Gerber," he interjected.
"No, David, although maybe I started that sentence badly... Peter David was writing She-Hulk at the time and your Howard the Duck was the best She-Hulk comic that month."
He laughed, thanked me, and said that when the She-Hulk sales plummeted, he and Dan had offered to come back to the title, but the execs wanted Dan on their higher profile Spider-Man.
Ty recommended lots of comics, including Gerber's 'Hard Time', spoke of Gerber's working through his final days: working for two years as his lungs slowly calcified. It seemed like a horrible way to go, but an impossibly admirable work ethic.
Ty showed me advance art for his Futurama-Simpsons crossover, and his older art for Looney Tunes his Pepe LePew story ("the world's most loveable date-rapist" he quipped).
He quoted Ringo Starr at some point, something about writing or talent which seemed profound to me at the time and which I can't recall.
He pointed out that Spidey-Torch was coming out in hardcover next month, and I said I was eager to read it but I had a moral objection to buying hardcovers: they take up too much space on my shelf. He had an objection as well, but it was that he felt comics were an art form meant to be impermanent, ephemeral, and hardcovers seemed to be trying too hard to seem prestigious. Or something like that. I'll admit, I can't say it as well as he said it, but you had to be there.
With only minutes to spare before my bus came, I saw Laurie B. draw a She-Hulk for a guy and intriuged, I asked how much?
"You can pay me if you WANT, but Jay wants us to sketch for FREE today."
Never one to turn down FREE, I requested one, too, but asked her to finish it in 10 minutes. As she sketched a cute She-Hulk ("Make the boobs smaller than the last one," Ty urged, "That'll save time.") I apologized for needing speed but I had pre-bought tickets to Wolverine:Origins. Ty's semi-silent review was thumbs down with raspberry. Laurie was more inclined to like it. Ty pointed out a certain division along gender lines and I commented that my wife was interested in it mainly for Hugh Jackman butt.
"Plenty of that," smiled Ty. "Plenty of shirtless beefcake."
"So if I was considering a movie to help me switch teams..." I trailed off.
"This is the movie that lets you know that would be o.k."
When I complimented Laurie's sketch "I wish I had your talent." Ty said "There's no such thing as talent. It's a made-up word to make what we do (he pointed at the three of us) seem like magic. You just need to practice. If you can put two lines together you can draw. If you can put two words together you can write."
"I just have to be less lazy," I mused.
So this is the day I got my first art collectible sketched live. (I was jealous of my friend Devin's batch of sketches from Calgary's Comicon, I admit it)
"Your FIRST?" Laurie B asked.
"You started me down a dark path," I said. "Thanks to you both."
"Enjoy your movie," said Ty.
"Keep an open mind," said Laurie.
The Wolverine movie was not as bad as I expected. And there's butt. My wife will be pleased.

Coming soon: STAR TREK!!!