Transformation: Michael Bay and ‘The Birds’

The nightmare begins:

After successfully remaking several 80s slasher films, Michael Bay and his Platinum Dunes banner look ready to remake one of the master of suspense’s classic films alongside Peter Guber’s Mandalay Pictures.

Platinum Dunes, Mandalay Pictures and Universal have tapped Dutch filmmaker Diederik Van Rooijen to direct the remake of Alfred Hitchcock’s “The Birds.”

As a longtime Hitchcock fan, I am so ready to hate this movie. This is the trailer for “The Birds”:

This is the trailer for the next big Michael Bay extravaganza:

The only thing that could make this worse is Michael Bay decides to cast Shia LaBeouf and Rosie Huntington-Whiteley in the lead roles for “The Birds.”

Lego builds a movie franchise

I went to see “The Lego Movie” under ideal conditions. A Thursday matinee in Louisville in a modern theater containing only three people. It’s usually fun to watch a kids’ movie with kids around, but it have to be your kid, and mine is now in his 20s and had to work that day.

So, anyway, I got to see the movie and hear all the jokes without the distraction of 5-year-olds kicking the back of my seat and asking their moms to buy them a Batman Lego set when the movie was over.

This was a pretty good marketing move for the Danish company. (What? You thought Lego was American? Think Lincoln Logs instead — which actually started in Japan). Lego is a multibillion dollar (euro? krone?) enterprise going through massive growth. Here’s a chart that shows how well it’s doing:


That’s a lot of building blocks.

A lot of these franchises are represented in the movie (and the voices of C-3PO and Lando are really the voices of C-3PO and Lando). And since it is, as they say, “Fun for the whole family,” expect a lot more currency to end up in Lego’s coffers. And since it comes from Fox studios, there goes more dollars into Rupert’s pockets.

Anyway, here are the (scripted) outtakes:

As you can tell, the movie’s a lot of fun. Even when there are a lot of kids around.

Knowledge gaps: Superman and the Beatles

You think you know everything about one aspect of entertainment, and then something pops up that comes as a complete shock.

Like, I used to think that I’d seen every filmed live-action presentation of Superman, from the Kirk Alyn serials in the 1940s with the cartoon flying sequences, through the George Reeves television series, the Christopher Reeve movies (remember “The Quest for Peace”?), “Lois and Clark,” “Smallville,” the Brandon Routh revival of the Christopher Reeve persona and the most recent Henry Cavill city destruction. I’d even seen the “I Love Lucy” episode where Superman has to rescue Lucy from the ledge of a building, and I probably was one of the seven people who went to see the Ben Affleck biopic “Hollywoodland.”

But one day I bought a box set of the George Reeves series, and there was an episode I’d never seen where Lois (Noel Neill) is spraying a room with a machine gun, and I’m thinking, “Where the hell did this come from.” Not only that, there was a commercial I didn’t know existed:

But this isn’t about my Superman obsession. It’s about my Beatles obsession.

Last week, I saw this chart of the songs written by John Lennon and Paul McCartney:


It shows who was the main contributor to their famous songs. Only, what’s this song “There’s a Place”?

Where the hell did this come from? I’ve never heard this. When this came out in 1963, we bought 45s, not albums. Apparently, this was the B side of “Please Please Me.” Did I never listen to the B side? I thought I knew all the Beatles songs. Obviously, I don’t. Now I have to go through life obsessing about what other things I’ve missed.

FandomFest 2013: Louisville here I come

Looks like this is where I’m going to be this weekend:

This weekend, some of the biggest names in science fiction, horror and comics will descend on Louisville for FandomFest, which runs Friday through Sunday at the Galt House and Kentucky International Convention Center.

William Shatner, Gene Simmons of KISS, Gillian Anderson of “X-Files” fame, actor and director Kevin Smith and Spider-Man creator Stan Lee are among the stars who will appear at the festival, billed as the largest convention of its kind in the Midwest.

The convention covers entertainment genres such as horror and anime films, steampunk literature and video games. According to the founder of FandomFest, Ken Daniels, the convention should appeal to fans of all kinds.

I’m such a geek.


Man of Steel: Cement for brains

Spoiler alert: I’m going to talk about one of the things that really bothered me about the movie “Man of Steel.”

If you saw the movie, you know the end is mainly one overwhelming battle of super beings in Metropolis. And you have to see the movie to fully understand the magnitude of the devastation of the city. If you thought the destruction of midtown Manhattan in “The Avengers” was over the top, that was noting compared to what happened to Metropolis:

Click here to see an editorial by Daily Planet Editor Perry White, which includes this:

perry white

So here’s what bothers me about “Man of Steel.”

The Superman I know would never let a battle like this happen in Metropolis. He would have first disabled the terrible machine wrecking the city by flying to the other side of the Earth and destroying the machine’s counterpart there, forcing the super villains to chase him to that part of the planet, where the destruction of life and property would be minimal.

But this Superman didn’t do that. He kept the battle in Metropolis. And what was the result? Here’s the estimate by disaster expert Charles Watson and his crew at Watson Technical Consulting and Kinetic Analysis Corp., requested by the folks at Buzzfeed.


That’s right. Almost 130,000 confirmed dead and $2 trillion in damage.

With a protector like that, who needs terrorists with nukes?

And by all counts, the Avengers were far more responsible in limiting death and destruction. If you remember, Captain America directed the team to contain the fight to midtown Manhattan, between Grand Central Station and 30th Street. Yes, there was carnage, but according to estimates (from Wonkblog):

The damage to Manhattan in “The Avengers” is estimated at around $160 billion.

Not small change, but nowhere near $2 trillion.

I liked “Man of Steel,” though the fight scenes did go on too long. But I remember back in 1980, the previous time Zod appeared in Metropolis. Superman faced battle then saw what was happening to the city and took off. Folks were upset that he “ran,” but he knew what he was doing.

Yes, there is a lot of destruction in this. But it isn’t even close to what happened in “The Avengers,” and definitely not anywhere near what happened in “Man of Steel.”

See, this is the Superman I know. He saw people were in danger and he took the battle to somewhere safe.

That guy in “Man of Steel” was totally irresponsible.

A better use of Superman’s time?

The beginning of an interesting suggestion from Slate:

I don’t want to offer spoilers for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel but suffice it to say that for a while in the film Superman is kind of bouncing around sporadically rescuing people from random accidents. And it’s a Superman scenario we all know and love. Even when humanity’s existence isn’t being threatened by alien invaders or the latest evil Lex Luthor plot there’s always someone, somewhere who needs to be saved by a guy who can lift really heavy objects.

And yet is this a good use of Superman’s time?

I don’t want to offer any spoilers either, but when you see “Man of Steel” and think about it afterward, you’ll realize that overall, he didn’t save that many people. I suspect this writer didn’t see the movie.


How does Superman shave?

Oh, come on! Really? You don’t know how Superman shaves?

This has been answered many times.

You can go with this:

Which I found hard to accept, because wouldn’t his heat vision melt the mirror?

Or you can go with the comic books.

Decades ago, the question was asked and the answer was he used his super sharp fingernails.

That made sense to me.

Or you can make up a totally rational elemental theory. He has access to a microscopically thin form of Kryptonite that he uses as a lubricating strip on a regular razor, creating a temporarily vulnerable face and beard.

I’ll go with the fingernails.