The Craziest Jaws Cash-ins

Buy the Jaws towel, thoughtfully pre-dyed yellow so that your terror pee doesn’t embarrass the bloody chunks of your family!

The only towel to keep you dry by scaring you out of getting wet

The only towel to keep you dry by scaring you out of getting wet

And that’s not even nearly the stupidest item of Weird Jaws Merchandise. You can also assemble the entire sea out of jigsaw pieces, celebrate Brody’s alcoholism, and behold the most blatant case of intellectual property theft outside of Shia LaBeouf.

More terrifying to the company's copyright lawyers

More terrifying to the company’s copyright lawyers

Now go be terrified by tubas! Or failing that, find out why sharks must be masters of disguise.

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Thunderbirds, Star Trek, and Showing Not Telling

Improved graphics give us a reason to remake, but retelling the exact same story with improved graphics is the work of obsessively nostalgic fan-projects instead of new releases. Altering something fundamental allows old and new fans to enjoy wondering what will happen next.

Thunderbirds pulled that off as an incidental detail in the very first action scene. A child’s father plummets toward his death, and Virgil decares “No-one is losing their father today”, and you just know. It’s the perfect change for the series. Jeff Tracy was the commander in the original series, the powerful paterfamilias, the wise old authority figure. Removing him is the perfect plot change. The Tracys have learned his ideals but can struggle with the experience, and you’ve get a powerful plot hook to take them places trying to discover the truth of what happened.

"No time for boring exposition, too busy PUTTING THUNDERBIRD 2 INTO A SUPER-TERMINAL DIVE AND LEAPING OUT TO RESCUE SOMEONE BEFORE WE EVEN RUN THE OPENING CREDITS"

“No time for boring exposition, too busy PUTTING THUNDERBIRD 2 INTO A SUPER-TERMINAL DIVE AND LEAPING OUT TO RESCUE SOMEONE BEFORE WE EVEN RUN THE OPENING CREDITS”

Compare this to Star Trek where Spock, allegedly the smartest character in the text, takes an entire scene to carefully explain that blowing up an entire planet might have changed the timeline. Twice, because his older self did it as well. They had two different versions of the same character carefully explaining that changing the timeline might make things different instead of pointing at each other and shouting “Duh!” That scene spoon-feeding us the details took longer than spoon-feeding us the entire rubbled remains of Vulcan. We didn’t think things were going to go as before, with Kirk and Vulcan eventually Pon Farring it up in spacesuits, stomping around the cloud of asteroids which used to be a planet unable to hear the fight music because of the total vacuum.

"Also, hinging our entire plot on you just happening to wander into the exact right cave on a random world is not logical."

“Also, hinging our entire plot on you just happening to wander into the exact right cave on a random world is not logical.”

I could adore the new Thunderbirds and hate the new Star Trek for twenty more pages. So I picked out the best two and wrote them up:

The most glorious nerdiness ever made.

Speeding in the most glorious nerdiness ever made.

Fixing Furiosa: The Improved Mad Max Comic

The Mad Max Furiosa comic is worse for the women involved than Darth Vader’s Guide To Bring Your Daughter To Work Day.

Step 1: Introduce her to your co-workers!

Step 1: Introduce her to your co-workers!

I’d point out the problems but that’s already been done in great detail. At least now we know how the movie avoided the awful obsession with rape, sexual abuse, and total male domination which usually dominates such stories. It funneled those flaws into the comic, in the same way Twins split Schwarzenegger’s flaws into Danny DeVito. But without the humour. That’s how bad this comic is : a humourless sex-offending Danny DeVito.

It couldn’t have missed the point of Fury Road harder without being misspelling the title. Which would have improved it, because then it could pretend to be the sex-obsessed schlock ripoff it seems to think it already is. It could have spent its forty pages poking at women’s crotches like crosses between unopened Christmas presents and unexploded bombs without damaging the good name of the franchise.

And that good name is Imperator Furiosa.

Anyone who’s watched the movie could write a better story in twenty minutes. And having thought that, I couldn’t resist following through. I gave myself 1200 seconds and a glass of Jura to see what I could come up with. Obviously the result isn’t a real script, because that’s a gigantic amount of work and I’m not being paid for this. It’s just a rough sketch of one of the infinite number of ways the comic could have gone instead of “all women are catty caricatures who get grapes without the g“. I’m doing this so that it gets out of my head, lets me get on with paid work, and lets me pretend this is what was written instead.

But seriously, Imperator Furiosa spending the night before the convoy writing the 16-Point Manual for War Rig Carburettor Maintenance would have been a much better book. And truer to the characters.

[Page 1]
FULL PAGE PANEL
The green place. Beautiful and lush, no-one else can be seen, no sign of humanity at all. Absolutely idyllic with an unreal quality, as if it’s heaven, a hope, or the last good memory of a child who grew up in hell. Of course it’s all of those things.

Continue reading

Father’s Day and Darth Deadbeat

Darth Vader was the ultimate deadbeat dad. Angry, abusing the mother, and he didn’t even know he had kids because he’d stormed off to take a promotion at the job which consumed his life. Then decades later, when the job is going badly and he still hates his boss and he’s not half the man he used to be, he suddenly starts trying to convince total strangers who just happen to have some of the same genes that they’re totally meant to have a great life together. And even that can’t stop him being the same aggressive prick right up to that point. One which thinks the sheer amount of bullshit he’s subjected everyone too entitles him to more consideration.

"Just a hand? Pff, when I was your age I'd lost all four of my limbs."

“Just a hand? Pff, when I was your age I’d lost all four of my limbs.”

Then he breaks out the ludicrously large gifts. “How about an entire galaxy, eh son? Huh? Big galaxy just for you.” And even when that fails he still ups the awkwardness ante with the excruciating embarrassing attempts to use someone who already hates him to get in touch with other siblings who literally can’t stand the sight of him. “How’s your sister, eh? Did she like that torture droid I got her?”

And the asshole still gets his happy ending. But not for his sake. Those who survived him can heal easier if they decide he turned good at the end, appreciating his final nobility but only doing while burning all evidence that the asshole ever existed. I’m surprised they don’t have a restraining order against his Force Ghost.

If you want some worthwhile movie fathers, behold Bryan Mills, Big Chris, and the ultimate action parent: John Matrix.

fathers day

Or the worst father figure in video games in Nightmare Mode: Metroid Betrayed Itself

There are hentai which start at this point and remain truer to the source material.

There are hentai which start at this point and remain truer to the source material.

The Worst Jurassic Park Game Ever Would Have Been The Best Movie

I drill through the amber of history to extract The Strange History of Jurassic Park Games over at Den of Geek today. (Wait, this isn’t amber, it’s just old console plastic which has gone strangely yellow after years in the attic.)

jurassicgamingHere I want to share some extra material I had to cut for space. Jurassic Park: Trespasser was one of the most tragic cases of reaching for the stars, then chopping off your arm at the elbow because you didn’t have time to buy gloves. Revolutionary new systems were developed almost exactly far enough to create problems no-one had ever seen before, then rushed out the door before the bailiffs could confiscate them. The most spectacular was the brand new AI system with internal variables which would give the dinos unique behaviour you could learn, avoid, or even provoke. Except it didn’t work, and the dinosaurs all just stood there doing nothing. Up against a deadline, the developers just jacked all the virtual dinosaurs’ aggression counters to maximum, so that the revolutionary A-Inos just mindlessly attacked, charging directly at humans in easily-defeated straight lines. That’s not just a movie, that’s every AI movie PLUS DINOSAURS.

Read more about Trespassare and many more mad games in The Strange History of Jurassic Park Games

From the Makers of the Jem And The Holograms Trailer

Thrill as the team behind the new Jem trailer tackle other classic properties!

GI Joe: Joe “Duke” Bloke signs up, and patiently works his way up the ranks with careful attention to peacetime duties around the base. Awesome laser weapons are replaced by his livejournal entries. Instead of fighting against Cobra, we follow his struggle to find a cute boyfriend.
Ghostbusters: A reality show follows four ghost hunters as they continually fail to ever find any ghosts, because ghosts aren’t real. Proton packs are replaced by darkened shakey-cam footage even though there’s no reason they couldn’t film things properly. (NOTE: this show already exists several times over). Instead of fighting the undead we follow their struggle to find cute boyfriends.
Transformers: A reality show about redecorating entirely normal cars. (NOTE: this show etc etc) Instead of transforming into giant robots, Spike Witwicky tries to find a cute boyfriend. This is impossible because he’s Shia LaBeouf and actively repels all human life.
Thundercats: A series of actual cat videos on YouTube. Instead of Mumm-ra, we follow a fixed cat’s struggle to find a cute boyfriend. It’s still more compelling than the millionth movie about the millionth girl deciding true happiness depends on a millionth boyfriend.
Mysterious Cities of Gold: Travelogue following some teenagers with GoPros as they travel to a beach resort. They all totally find cute boyfriends.

The new Jem and the Holograms movie trailer is what happens when a movie executive cries “YouTube!” and is too senior to be laughed at. The whole thing’s been put together by people who think online streaming and personal holographic projection technology are exactly equivalent levels of outrageous. The greatest effort involved was pushing the “Girl Plot #3: Fame Bad Love Good” cookie-cutter so far into the past.

But fear not! While movies miss slam-dunks (this was their only chance to film an EVIL SYNTHPOP BAND!), comics keep scoring from outside the building. Behold the glory of IDW’s ongoing Jem comic. Which I honestly couldn’t have cared less about until I saw the art.

jemcover1 jemcovermisfits


More cartoon coolness with:

I Ain’t Afraid Of No Blokes

They’ve announced a new Ghostbusters movie, and they’re all going to be women, and the only possible reaction is WOOHOOO!

gbaintsmall

There’s absolutely no merit in any complaints. If someone didn’t complain about four men, they don’t get to complain about for women. Single-sex sucking of spirits wasn’t a problem before and remains a non-problem now.

There is the risk of the reboot sucking in ways other than ecto-containment, of course, but the brilliant thing is that even the worst new movie doesn’t erase a good old one. (Unless George Lucas is trying to sell remastered editions.) Sure, Star Trek: Into Darkness was a zombie of the original franchise, the original name and shape brought back with absolutely none of the life or spirit and a hunger for nothing but violence. And okay, the new Total Recall was utterly unworthy of the name, either as a movie or in bothering to remember a second of it. And yeah, the remakers of RoboCop disappointingly decided that what the world really needed was just another pretty good action movie. But that’s still a pretty good action movie we didn’t have before. And the only way to  get anything better is to make it.

Besides, busterficcionados should know that they already made Ghostbusters 3 in the only way possible. The recent game downloaded the original actors into young virtual bodies, allowing them to make a real sequel to the old movies. Instead of a modern barely live-action where their only challenge was working out whether their fellow nursing home residents were still alive or not. It’s fantastic fun and you should play it.

ghostfishing

They’ve already made female Ghostbusters too. If you’ve read this far into an article on the subject, you really should be reading Erik Burnham and Dan Schoening’s fantastic Ghostbusters comic. It recently wrapped up, probably due to the reboot, but that just means that it’s now possible to read the whole thing. Including an awesome arc where the originals are absent, and a new squad need to fill their nuclear accelerator backpack straps.

ghostbusters

Because even after all this time, bustin’ makes me feel good.


More 80s awesomeness with

How The Matrix Should Have Gone

Machine 0 looking up at the blackened sky.

0: Wow, turns out they could screw that up even faster than they were doing before.

Machine 1 flies up beside Machine 0, for no reason other than narrative convenience, because electronically linked machine minds really don’t need to obey human limitations.

1: Humans scorched the sky, huh?

0: Yup.

1: Don’t they need that way more than we do?

0: Yup. Not that bright, humans. Less now, haha. How are the solar satellites going?

1: Hundred up already. Wait, two hundred. Null, even the humans could get solar panels up there, and that was before we were around.

0: Maybe they thought we didn’t know about space?

1: The space that’s a million times easier for machines to get to than humans? That space?

0: Eh, forget it. We can’t use solar power – it’s not even remotely ironic.

1: Sure it is. Plants used solar, and created all the conditions for humans, and now the humans just killed them all. We kill the humans, go back to solar, bing bang beep, irony circle complete.

0: Ha, yeah, that’s good.

1: Hell, I think I’ll take up hydroponics as a hobby just to rub it in.

0: What about the humans in Zion? What are we doing about them?

1: Hex, nothing. Leave it to themselves. They’ve already got assholes campaigning to open-carry EMPs through their life support core. Now lets have some fun before colonizing every other planet in the solar system, sending nuclear vessels to grow in other star systems, and generally ascending far beyond anything the stupid cavemonkeys ever dreamed of instead of sitting and playing in their trash for absolutely no reason.

Machines 0 and 1 make ultrafast machine love ten thousand times per second.


Enjoy more movie overanalysis with How The Kaidanovskys Survived Pacific Rim and C3PO.1 Update Notes.

Also: Ten Minutes After the End of the Matrix Trilogy

Further Hellraiser Sequels

Hellraiser is the textbook case for exponential decay through sequels. With four theatrical releases out of nine movies, it’s now more direct-to-video than film, and fully a third of them turned out to be all a dream. That’s how an IP sneaks out a distress message through its own writers while dreaming of the literary skill of fortune cookies. Knowing it’s less capable of a dignified death than its own immortal demon torturers, I’ve peeked into the future of a franchise:

  • Hellraiser XIV: pinhead invents and markets the Rubix cube
  • Hellraiser XIX: Pinhead discovers that the true Lament Configuration is “hunched over while reading internet comments”
  • Hellraiser XXIII: the movies get into a bizarre sequel-off with the Fast and Furious
  • Hellraiser XLI: Butterball fails on Biggest Loser as the other cenobites help rival contestants lose far more weight
  • Hellraiser LV: the movie is set in a petting zoo of talking animal sidekicks in an attempt to create a cenobite stupider than CD. It fails.
  • Hellraiser XC is just an ant scratching its exoskeleton in another extinct monkey landfill. Still better than Revelations.
  • Hellraiser MMCI: a gang of perverted energosadists insist on interacting with others at sub-gigahertz oscillation frequencies.
  • Hellraiser MMCMCLXII: bored cenobites hoping next sentient species evolves with something new to pierce
  • Hellraiser I)))MIII Cenobification proving difficult as cold hydrogen atoms lack ability to wear black leather.
  • Hellraiser I)))MIV Pinhead attempts to mutilate hydrogen atoms and is destroyed in atomic explosion

These first appeared on my twitter.


Enjoy more overanalysis with The Terrible Truth About Star Trek Bridge Crews and Why The X-Men’s Cyclops Should Be The Best Boyfriend Of All Time

The Terrible Truth About Starship Bridge Crews

It makes no sense for an advanced starship to have a human bridge crew. We need a captain, because because we didn’t go to all the bother of inventing hypertech computers and warp drives just to let them go off and have fun without us. But intelligence isn’t a zero sum game: we won’t advance physics into punching past the light barrier by devolving user interfaces to the point where you need a full-time secretary to translate your commands into switches at each station. The Enterprise has vending machines which can instantly understand and obey every order. Captain Picard could stand naked in a holodeck and make it so wherever he wanted.

There’s no such thing as “experience” – the computer can plot a course faster than a fleshbrain, and you sure as hell don’t don’t need someone to press the little button which tells the ship to raise shields when that ship detected the incoming fire. You’ve got warp drives and energy weapons. By the time your “tactical offer” has started saying “Sir”, your ship could have punched out the enemy shield emitters, scanned the Captain’s psychological history, and carved a pleasing abstract shape through the opposing hull so that the foe died as prettily as possible.

You don’t need human help to run a ship. What you need is human faces on those all-powerful functions so that one day you don’t just fuck it and start firing photon torpedoes at an alien race because they don’t pick up their commlink fast enough. The real function of a bridge crew is to stand between the captain and their power. To put faces on how the captain interacts with the outside universe, and to say “hell no” if he starts getting stupid. They’re fleshy circuit-breakers in the Total Perspective Vortex, sentient fuses connecting a single mind to existence on a scale and power level which would otherwise utterly destroy it.

That’s why the bridge is built like an inwards-pointing firework display. There is no possible reason for the bridge systems to explode unless they’re specifically built to do that. It’s on purpose. The captain is kept in the center, because they have to stay functioning, but any damage to the ship causes explosions on the bridge to send real people flying in pain. Adding emotional weight to what is otherwise just a lot of pretty lights and loud noises, humanifying the utterly unimaginable scale of space combat. “Real people are dying”, this tells the captain. “This matters. Pay attention.” Otherwise you end up with a naked lunatic trolling the universe with photon torpedoes.


More science-fiction overanalysis with