Google+ Isma's Meditation Chamber - Doodles by IAMO: October 2005

Tuesday, October 18, 2005

Batman's Beginning

"They told me there was nothing out there, nothing to fear. But the night my parents were murdered I caught a glimpse of something. I've looked for it ever since. I went around the world, searched in all the shadows. And there is something out there in the darkness, something terrifying, something that will not stop until it gets revenge... Me."

-Bruce Wayne

So, why am I talking about Batman after I have been posting about Star Wars? Well, my excuse is the obvious connection of Liam Neeson playing a mentor to both Anakin Skywalker/Darth Vader in The Phantom Menace as Qui-Gon Jinn and Bruce Wayne/Batman as Henri Ducard in Batman Begins.

But, the truth is that I am a Batman fan and I love everything about Batman Begins, which was just released on DVD today. I am just so happy with how this movie turned out. And it was a long wait to see a good Batman film.

I am a big fan, but, unlike my love for Star Wars, I do have to be more selective when it comes to Batman, because, let's face it, there has been a lot of crap (specially in movies and TV) associated with the Dark Knight since his first appearance in Detective Comics in May 1939.

They had tried making bat-movies before but never got it right. Batman (1989) was not a "Batman movie," it was a "Tim Burton movie," and although it was 100 times better than the shameful 1960's TV series, it was still not faithful to the Batman seen in comic books.Batman Returns (1992) was weird and boring. Batman Forever (1995) was silly and over the top. But Batman and Robin (1997), the worst movie ever made, brought the franchise to a dead stop and left it with the same campy stupidity as the 60's TV show. I never understood why director Joel Schumacher, a filmmaker that has given us some really intense dramas, never took Batman seriously. But, because of that lack of respect for the Dark Knight, I have not seen one of his movies ever since. But now that we have Batman Begins, let's never talk about those movies or the groovy 60's TV show ever again. Ok? They never existed.

But that does not mean that there has not been anything good before Batman Begins. There have been many amazing graphic novels by such authors as Frank Miller, Alan Moore, and Jeph Loeb, just to name a few. And let's not forget animation. I am a big, big fan of "Batman The Animated Series" (1992-1995, and known as "The New Batman Adventures" from 1997-1999), not to be confused with "The Batman" currently shown on Kids WB. Also, before Batman Begins, the feature length animated movie Batman: Mask of the Phantasm (1993) was the best Batman movie ever made. The series and the animated movie were faithful to the comic book, very well written, beautifully drawn and animated, and the voice actors were excellent. Mark Hamill provided the voice of The Joker. Hey, there's another Star Wars connection.

Well, may The Force be with the cast and crew of Batman Begins. Can't wait for the next movie.


Friday, October 14, 2005

Critics Shmitics: Don't Try Too Hard To Hate 'Return Of The Jedi'

A lot of people have read the article "50 Reasons Why Return of the Jedi Sucks" by Dan Vebber. It was originally published around 1997 in the below average "Sci-Fi Universe" magazine (a publication whose editor-in-chief was Star Trek Fan and Star Wars Hater Mark A. Altman) and later included in the trashy paperback 'The Unauthorized Star Wars Compendium: The Complete Guide to the Movies, Comic Books, Novels, and More' by Ted Edwards. As to why some so-called-fans actually got a kick out of this article made available by Star Wars bashers is beyond my comprehension.

The funny thing is that once The Phantom Menace came out, every critic in the world forgot about Return of the Jedi's flaws. Not because one movie is better or worse than the other, but because hating Episode I became a fashion statement.

Vebber lists his 50 reasons in no particular order of importance and tries his best to discredit Episode VI. It would have been somewhat amusing if he had made a funny top 10 list, but, since he forced himself to write "50 reasons," the list runs out of gas very soon and becomes uninteresting, redundant, and hateful really fast. Because Vebber tries too hard to fill in the 50 gaps in his list, he ends up making absurd comments like the following:

"16. Unforgivable Dialogue
Threepio approaching Jabba's palace: "I have a bad feeling about this."
Han Solo, when confronted by Ewoks: "I have a bad feeling about this."
With dialogue like this, it seems Lucas finally put that "million monkeys at a million typewriters" theory to the test."

Well, that's all I need to know that this guy is not a Star Wars fan. Guess what Dan? The "I have a bad feeling about this" line is a running gag throughout the whole Star Wars Saga. And us real fans love it.

How about this one:

"19. Stupid Coincidences
"We have been without an interpreter since our master got angry with our last protocol droid and disintegrated him." Pan over to said droid being pulled apart in a machine, to allow for a startled reaction shot by Threepio. Numerous scenes like this further damage Jedi's ability to convince us this stuff is really happening."

Well, guess what? That stuff isn't really happening. It's a movie! This is a common mistake with people who still think that Star Wars is Science Fiction and not Fantasy. When it comes to Science Fiction, there are certain reality based rules you need to follow. But when it comes to Fantasy, anything goes. Vebber just doesn't get that.

Here's another one:

"35. Vader's Real Face
You know, Darth, that scar will never heal unless you stop scratching it. But enough with the clever bon-mots: it should have been David Prowse under that helmet. Period. He deserved at least that much, and probably would have been willing to shave his head. Sebastian Whatsisname (Shaw) delivers an acceptable acting job (actually, one of Jedi's only acceptable acting jobs), but that pudgy head just doesn't match up with the body we see on Vader throughout the rest of the Trilogy."

Didn't this guy understand that Darth Vader was "more machine that man" and that his look under the helmet was anyone's guess? His comment is just as ridiculous as saying that James Earl Jones should have been under the helmet, whom, according to what Vebber says, would have the same right as David Prowse. This is just an example of a whiney critic not accepting something that was not what he expected.

This one always makes me laugh... at the writer:

"7. Physical comedy
This is a Galactic rebellion, for heaven's sake! Yet an Ewok clocks himself with his own slingshot. Threepio's legs point skyward after he falls off the skiff into the sand. Countless adorable muppets zanily cover their eyes or flip-duck off their perches when faced with tense situations. Worst of all, there are two solid instances where burps are used for cheap laughs. Burps! And where are the f**t jokes?"

Well, he got the fart and poopie jokes in Episode I. Now, when you see an eopie farting in Jar Jar's face, the Star Wars bashers might say, "I told you so." But I say, that's the Star Wars Universe farting in Dan Vebber's face. And it's funny as hell.

And this one:

"45. Generally Dumb Dialogue
Vader, upon seeing that Luke has constructed a lightsaber: "Your skills are complete. Indeed, you are powerful as the Emperor has foreseen."
(Wait a second-all because he read a Time/Life book on electronics and soldered together some transistors? Does this mean Tim Allen is a Jedi?)"

Yeah, sure. I would like to see Dan Vebber build a lightsaber. I assure you it would explode in his face. Anybody who saw the animated Clone Wars Chapter 14 knows how significant it is for a Jedi to successfully construct his or her own lightsaber.

At this point, Vebber was not even trying to be funny. He had become consumed in his own hate for what is basically a fantasy family film and he was just trying to come up with anything that would finish his list.

So, bottom line: When making a list to criticize something, less is more.

Till next time,


Monday, October 3, 2005

False 'Star Wars' Fans Suck!

We know that there are whiney fan boys. And we know that there are Star Wars haters. But there is nothing worse than someone who claims to be a Star Wars fan and can't stop criticizing George Lucas or his work. Beware of these False Fans.

It seems that in the "Original Trilogy" days one could tell who the real fans were. It was all black and white. People either loved Star Wars or they didn't like it.

But then the 1997 Special Editions came along, and Star Wars fans started to split up: those fans who supported Lucas' vision and those fans who wanted... well, who knows what they wanted, but they sure liked to complain.

When Episode I came along in 1999, all Hell broke loose. The whole purpose of The Phantom Menace was to introduce the characters, to set up all of the story pieces in the chessboard. These characters and story pieces would start moving in the next episodes. All true fans knew that. But, some people did not get that, and some fans were not that patient. They wanted the whole package in one movie. These so-called-fans could not stop complaining about how Episode I was not what they had wanted it to be. I remember Howard Stern saying in his radio show something like, "these people have been waiting 16 years for this movie... they finally have it... and they criticize it." And I knew exactly what he meant. A real fan is supposed to be supportive, not attack the artist with vile and cynical comments. It made me sick.

People complained and complained and complained. Their expectations were ridiculously high and they were disappointed with Episode I. Not because it was a bad movie, but because their short-attention-span-minds could not let them see the whole picture (the whole 6-episode saga). For example, in a local San Diego news report where they interviewed people coming out of the theatre on opening night, I remember a young woman saying she didn't like the movie because, "there's no story." Well, there IS a story there, you just have to pay attention.
The start of the "Prequel Trilogy" marked the beginning of the Old vs. New debate. A dumb discussion which is completely generational in my opinion. Since that summer, fandom is split into "Original Trilogy" fans and "Star Wars Saga" fans. Sad.

And Lucasfilm knows this. During this year's Cannes Film Festival, George Lucas said:

"I see it all as one movie, so I don't pay much attention to people who prefer one chapter or another chapter. But we've discovered that we have two fan bases. One is over 25 and one is under 25. The over 25 fan base is loyal to the first three films and they are actually in their 30's and 40's now, so that they're in control of the media, they're in control of the web, they're in control of everything basically. The films, which those people don't like, which are the first two, actually are fanatically bored by the other two. And if you get on the web and you listen to these conversations, they are always at each other's throats and the devotion for each group is pretty equal."

But, there are false fans in both groups.

I had almost gotten used to so-called-fan complaints. But then, the false fans took it to another level. When the Star Wars "Trilogy" (or half of the Star Wars Saga) premiered on DVD in September 2004, fans learned that the movies had additional editorial changes. The hate of the false fans exploded, going as far as saying that Lucas had no right to make changes to his movies because they were public property and that he is obliged to release the original versions of the films. I couldn't believe it. I was past disgusted. I was past sad. I was just mad as Hell that these ignorant little creatures could not shut up and just enjoy the movies. But no one said it better than Scott Holleran in his article "George Lucas vs. the Stormtroopers". Regarding the false fan attitude, he said, "There is a word for this philosophy: fascism."

Now, I'm not saying that Star Wars fans should not have a critical mind. They should. But, there is a big difference between being critical and being cynical. I'm just saying that if you are going to call yourself a "Star Wars fan," than you need to learn to accept it, and enjoy it, as it is. And leave the Star Wars bashing to the non-fans.