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.



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]
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.

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:

Hollywood’s Upcoming All-White Live-Action Remakes

After bleaching Egypt in Exodus, and announcing caucasified live-action versions of Ghost in the Shell and Akira, Hollywood is half a step from releasing an all-white remake of the rainbow. What other projects are in the pipes?

  • Chess. Making all the characters white would make the plot confusing, if the plot hadn’t been simplified to a single male lead (White King) saving the Queen by/while killing a bunch of black pawns. The King and Queen have swapped powers, because Hollywood can’t handle a powerful woman rescuing a distressed male. In 2015. Apparently.
  • Where’s Wally. Searching through a huge number of near-identical figures to find the right one closely mirrors the modern lead casting process. Also provides a solid justification for making sure everyone is the same color.
  • Othello. Why not at this point.
  • La Pieta. This original has the advantage of already being white! Sure, it’s a masterpiece in its original medium, and the conversion to live-action movie would be more pointless, lifeless, and heavy-handed than replacing a porcupine with a bowling ball, but it’ll help Hollywood avoid new ideas for one more movie.
  • The Law of Gravity. Spinning a single equation into a two hour screenplay will require some effort. Announcements so far include a romance subplot, an old friend of the hero who appears to have betrayed him but relents at the last minute, and the inhuman universal constant of gravitation will be played by Benedict Cumberbatch.

More movie mockery 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 Effect of Fractal Hobbits


“And if the scale has already been pierced, doesn’t that mean that anything could kill Smaug now? Like regular arrows of which there are thousands in the city, not counting the infinite number being carried by Legolas and Tauriel? I don’t want to labor the point, but it’s just that your family is apparently really bad at knowing how to use a point.”

The Hobbit’s good fun, it’s just a pity they were bribed into drawing and thirding the poor thing for extra money. Even in the most beautiful scenes you can feel where the plot’s sinews tear and pop a single fun romp is stretched out over a trilogy. And where they kept the unpleasant noises to try and lend a fun kid’s story some epicity. And no, the word “epicity” doesn’t work. That’s why I used it for that attempt.

It’s time dilation as caused by proximity to vast quantities of money, the spacetime continuum stretched by sales of tickets and DVDs. Behold how the property is endlessly extended:

  • Three epic books become three epic movies
  • One short book becomes three incredibly long movies
  • The Silmarillion becomes an entire encyclopedia set. The same number of people read it all the way through.
  • The mere mention of the War of the Ring becomes a multi-season epic on fantasy warfare. One where the writers don’t think they should add a few rapes, because sane non-terrifying people don’t ever think “I know, we should add some rapes”.
  • Roverandom becomes an entire franchise of big screen children’s movies despite every single person needing to google what a “Roverandom” is, and being proof that even the creator of Gandalf the Grey sometimes just says “a wizard did it”.
  • An old napkin on which Tolkein had scribbled “A ring??” become a twelve-week certified course in precious metalworking and jewelry design.

More movie magic with Patch Notes for C3PO.1, and Why Cyclops Should Be The Best Boyfriend Of All Time.

How Terminator Salvation’s Heart Transplant Should Have Gone

Random resistance medic: John Connor needs a new heart.

Marcus: Take mine.

RRP: What? No! Are you insane? You’re the most insanely valuable soldier, equipment, and intelligence resource we have! You know how our enemy operates and you can access Skynet systems – which will be really important if our entirely computerized enemy ever stops leaving open human-accessible laptops and walkways in all its facilities for no reason!

Marcus: You need him more. He’s John Connor! He’s the leader of the resistance!

RRP: No, the leaders of the resistance literally ignored him to their death in this movie. He’s so unimportant that Terminators literally forgot to Terminate his father before he existed. That has been their only plan for decades, and in this continuity he’s so optional they didn’t bother.

Marcus: Everybody deserves a second chance.

RRP: Okay, how about, “I’m a doctor and I am not murdering you”. When did it become okay to tear a healthy person’s heart out? Are we the human resistance or Huitzilopochtli cultists? Damnit, my buddy Jeff has a prosthetic leg, can I tear out his liver if I drink too much? If I was wearing my glasses would you punch through my ribcage? Shit, if we’re killing people anyway, let’s just strip one from one of the dozens of injured soldiers outside since they’re demonstratably not bulletproof. You can probably see them with your Terminator vision, and carry them back with your Terminator strength, and do all kinds of other things we can’t because you’re a damn Terminator and we’re not throwing you away to get a spare part for an asshole!

Hell, I got it, your name’s John now. You’ve done more for us anyway, and every single one of your decisions this movie wasn’t completely wrong, unlike some Johns in the tent. Welcome to humanity, John Better-Connor. Hurray!

Fix more movies with Pacific Rim: How The Kaidanovskys Survived and 8 Explanations For The Lack Of Women In Star Wars.

Watching Frozen

Watching Frozen, you can physically feel Disney heaving their arms free of the  quagmire as they watch Pixar sprint into the distance. But that swamp is seventy years of their own movies and there’s still a long way to go.

The movie starts so well. Indigenous Scandinavian music pounds and choirs through the cinema and you think “Yes! Maybe this Disney musical won’t be Americans talking to each other over music!” Nope! But that was a nice thought while it lasted. It was like Disney realized that musical flexibility and an entire world of inspiration were wonderful things, then ticked that box as done in the first five minutes.

Then they do the exact same thing with the characters, opening with Elsa, an empowered, interesting, and deeply conflicted character, then whipping her away to make room for Anna’s quest for love. Because looking for a boyfriend is much more interesting than a superpowered struggle against the elements and self. You’re halfway through before you realize that Elsa isn’t the main character but the unintentional villain, and instead of seeing someone struggle with their true nature we watch Anna looking for a boy, hurray, found a boy! Sure, the first boy she met was evil, but then the second one is great, so if you think all your problems will be solved as long as you find a boy you’re absolutely right about that. Just keep looking.

I mean, who wants to see an array of gorgeously rendered ice effects representing a deep emotional struggle for self-acceptance anyway. Apart from everyone who loved “Let it go” as the best bit of the movie, because that should have been the entire movie. Instead let’s watch two teenagers pretend they’re not going to bang for a solid hour and a half.

The king and queen are the worst parents in history (“Don’t every use your abilities, to help we’ll lock you in a room where you have nothing else to even think about doing for your entire life!”), but they’re also the worst king and queen in history. They’re scared of people finding out about Elsa’s powers and forming an angry mob, and sure, that might be a risk if you’re a commoner and stupid enough NOT to freeze people who are trying to burn you at the stake, but they’re royalty! They live in a castle! They have an army! Their entire life, job, and social structure is designed to be utterly mob-proof!

Plus they live in country whose only access routes are water and already half-impossible frozen mountains. They should have introduced her as a blessing, princess, and ultimate weapon all at once. “Behold, our kingdom need never fear invasion again! And if anyone feels like complaining, first please watch what happens when Elsa freezes this banana and then hits it with a hammer.”