Archive for February, 2009

Heroes: Gonna Take A Superman To Sweep Me Off My Feet

Tuesday, February 3rd, 2009

Heroes is back. Uh-gain. ‘Volume Four: Fugitives’ started last night, and an ever-diminishing audience tuned in to see if this time the creative team would follow through on their eternal promise to fix what they knew was wrong with the show. So, how did they do? If you want to know my thoughts on the latest episode, follow me beyond the gratuitous Zachary Quinto pic. If the new episode hasn’t aired in your parish and you don’t want to be spoiled, scroll on, dear reader; scroll as if your life depended on it, and mayhap return another day.



Previously on Heroes: Arthur Petrelli had a plan to give lots of people superpowers. I don’t recall why. Then he got shot, and that was pretty much that. New York Senator Nathan Petrelli signed up for the ‘give everyone powers’ scheme, and when that fell apart he asked President Worfbama to implement a ‘lock up everyone with powers’ scheme, because Nathan likes any scheme so long as it’s stupid and evil enough.

So where are we now? It’s a few months later, and all the characters are getting back to their normal lives. Peter is trying to save lives; Claire is uncovering conspiracies; Hiro is setting up a Batcave; it’s all so refreshingly normal! Where ‘normal’ means ‘par for the course”.

The episode begins with Niki expositing on the phone while Nathan exposits on TV. Double the exposition! (It’s not Niki, of course; it’s the other one, Ice-Niki. Remember that cloned-babies plot that they almost got around to dealing with? Isn’t it nice to know there’s a third Ali Larter out there somewhere for when they decide to kill this one?) Nathan is being interviewed with plothole-covering questions like, “Didn’t you have a religious epiphany storyline ten episodes ago?” and, “How are you so influential as a senator when you spend more time in Haiti putting down warlords than you do in New York or Washington?”. They don’t explain why a senator is doing the job of the Secretary of Homeland Security, but, details, details. And then Niki gets kidnapped.


L-R: Niki, Tracy, Barbara

And thus goes the rest of the episode. Look, here’s another of your old favourites getting back to their normal life; and here they are getting kidnapped. And all your favourites are back! They still haven’t culled the cast! Because the plot involves the government kidnapping them all, they can’t be drip-fed into the plot one by one. Instead we have to catch up with everyone at once! (Except the ones in New Orleans, because we all know that you can’t get the US government to go to New Orleans.)

So over here we have Mohinder and the return of his magic yellow cab of coincidence. Over there is Hiro, setting up an immensely contrived GPS-tracker plot device. And then there’s Matt and Daphne and their stalker/stalkee love nest. I never understood how those two became a couple. Lonely? Single? In need of a date? Go up to someone you fancy and tell them you’ve been to the future and you’re destined to be together. Follow them around for long enough and they’ll eventually assume that their ‘destiny’ must have come true!

Even that damned African mystic is back, and he was beheaded! Yet here he is, handing out iteration five of the stupid plot-hobbling paint-the-future powers. Not that these powers are very useful when two people can stare at a painting of their own backs seen through a bullethole-cracked window and not immediately think ‘duck!’


Oh, and what of Sylar? Any fool knows that a good villain will wither from overexposure, and Sylar is as overexposed as a streaker at the Winter Olympics. The writers have surely taken note and wisely tucked Sylar away in their back pocket to reintroduce to the board at a time when he’ll have the most impact, right? No. They waited precisely ten minutes before bringing Sylar back into play in an already crowded episode. 

So having been reintroduced to the entire bloody cast, just about everyone is dressed in Gitmo jumpsuits (so contemporary!) and shovelled into an aeroplane, whereupon the aeroplane crashes. The end. Next episode; meet the all-new, all-different Heroes! Please?

As opening episodes go, I will say that they’ve set up a good pace that gets to the meat of the new plotline in a hurry, and that at least is a rerurn to form. Also, everyone seems to be acting in character (though they do each have several characters to choose from). Best of all, Peter and Mohinder have a clunky conversation about the potential dystopian future that could arise from the current plot - it’s not good dialogue, but it may save us from yet an0ther trip to the future to spoon-feed us the idea of ‘what’s at stake’. Sometimes ’show, don’t tell’ is not such great advice.

Blessedly, Hiro is still depowered, and hopefully at most he’ll only get his teleporting powers back. Peter also appears to have been significantly powered down. That takes care of two of the three characters with powers that regularly make a nonsense of the plot, leaving only Sylar. The best way to deal with him? Stop putting him in every episode!

That the writers have identified any of the show’s many problems and taken steps to fix them is at least a positive sign, but I’m not sure what the show can do with the Fugitives arc that will feel terribly new, given that it’s the same bunch of character running around chasing after each other. Uh-gain. I will of course be tuning in next week to find out, because I am a sap for pretty people shooting magic out of their fingers. Therein lies the true power of Heroes.

Batman is a Bitch

Monday, February 2nd, 2009


Defamer has audio of Christian Bale giving both barrels to a director of photography who had the gall to walk onto the set during filming of Terminator: Oh God Not Another One. This was far too distracting for precious princess Bale, who proceded to throw a stroppy temper tantrum so ripe with actorly self-importance (and blue language) that Norma Desmond herself would have taken him aside and advised him to show a little decorum. “My mind is not in the scene if you’re doing that,” wailed Bale. “You don’t understand what it’s like working with actors.”

The most remarkable aspect of this diva behaviour is Bale’s accent. Bale keeps whatever accent he’s doing throughout a shoot and even during the press interviews afterwards. “It’s just too weird having a guy playing Batman speaking in a British accent, you know, for interviews”, Bale told one reporter, weirdly. During his crazed tirade, Bale veers wildly from English to American, and it sounds like his real personality, if he has one, is written on a Post-It note that has lost its stick. (Tropic Thunder’s absurd method-acting monstrosity Kirk Lazarus was obviously based on Bale. “Man, I don’t drop character ’till I done the DVD commentary”.) 

I used to be quite a fan of Bale, but after watching his bland Harvey Fierstein-voiced performance in the Batman movies I’ve come to realise that I was blinded by his good looks and pomposity and all that nonsense about losing weight or gaining muscle to transform himself for the role. Despite all that hard work, he still only has two facial expressions (serious and stupid) and two accents in his repertoire. John Gielgud Laurence Olivier famously once told Dustin Hoffman, “Why not try acting, my boy?” This sage advice might be beyond Bale’s capabilities. Christian Bale is a vacant space where an actor is meant to be. This furious rant is how he thinks actors behave. This is what passes for professional behaviour in his mind.

The First Airstraightener

Monday, February 2nd, 2009

 Shock news!

You may recall that last week I talked about how the movie adaptation of popular cartoon series Avatar: The Last Airbender is whitewashing all the Asian characters. This guy was cast as the lead antagonist:


None more Aryan! The protest letters came flooding in, and then, remarkably, it was discovered that the little blond boy had ’scheduling conflicts’. His busy XBox 360 schedule would not allow him to appear in the film after all. You might think that the producers would look around for another pale fair-haired Anglo to fill the role, but no! As chance would have it, between originally casting the role and having to recast the role, a movie has come out that has won the heart of moviegoers and critics alike and looks dead set to grab a few Oscars, and lo and behold, it has an Asian cast! And one of them is a boy!


Look everyone, it’s Dev Patel, star of Slumdog Millionare and Skins, and person of colour! Thanks to the revelation that people will actually go and see a film with Asians in it, an Asian director making a film full of Asian characters has been coaxed into taking the risk of casting an Asian actor. Alleluia and pass the tarka dhal.

Of course, he’s technically the wrong kind of Asian - the character is East Asian in appearance, and Patel is of Gujurati Indian heritage - and sure, this now means the only character-of-colour in the film is the villain, but, hey, baby steps, Hollywood. Baby steps. Maybe if one of the other actors also has to drop out due to ’scheduling conflicts’ (like, they were supposed to go to the mall with their mom that day), the producers can cast noted  Māori actor Temuera Morrison, master of a thousand ethnicities. He’s managed Mexican, Native American, Vietnamese and even Mandalorian. I’m sure he’d be perfect as Katara, the fourteen-year-old Asian girl with ‘waterbending’ powers.

In other news (well, not news; stuff that has happened), actor Ryan Eggold has bemoaned the lack of originality in television today. ”It’s extremely depressing that there’s no original content to be made,” he told Digital Spy. “Hollywood seems to be out of ideas and just taking old things that have worked and redoing them.”

Eggold currently stars in 90210, the sequel to the 90s TV series Beverly Hills 90210.

In A World Where Knowing Is Half The Battle

Sunday, February 1st, 2009

The first trailer for this summer’s GI Joe movie premieres during the Super Bowl, whatever the hell that is. It’s also available online. The 30-second spot shows Sienna Miller strutting around as the Baroness (a mirror universe version of Velma from Scooby-Doo), the Eiffel Tower succumbing to a nasty venereal disease that makes it go limp, and lots of very fast running and jumping with occasional shooting.


Aside from Sienna Miller’s Baroness, the main villain of the piece appears to be Christopher Eccleston as a psychotic Scotsman, thus taking work directly from Robert Carlyle’s table. I think he may even be playing Robert Carlyle’s character from Trainspotting and moving him in a bold new direction. Begbie Does Paris. 


You’ll note that the Baroness is wearing a sexy black leather catsuit (or possibly leatherette). Time was, you could tell the heroes from the villains because the villains wore sexy black leather. The first time you met a villain, they would still have that ‘new villain smell’. Times have changed. Look at the heroes!


OK, so it’s still just the villains wearing sexy black leather. The heroes, it seems, have to wear plastic gimp suits made from airline food trays. Apart, that is, from the girl, who has cereal bowls strapped to her chest (sexy, sexy cereal bowls), and Dennis Quaid, who thankfully has been allowed to wear baggy trousers and a sensible jacket. Actually, those may well be skintight trousers. At his age it could be the skin that’s baggy.

That’s Marlon Wayans in the middle of the photo, by the way. Marlon ‘White Chicks’ Wayans. Marlon ‘Norbit’ Wayans. Marlon ‘Scary Movie’ Wayans.  The same Marlon Wayans who, in 2000, starrediin two of the most depressing films ever made; Requiem for a Dream, and Dungeons & Dragons. Depressing for different reasons, obviously.

Marlon Wayans does not have the best record when it comes to picking movies. And yet, Marlon Wayans is not the most worrying thing in this trailer. When people talk about how bad Batman & Robin was, they can sum it all up in two words; “rubber nipples”. Sometimes one stupid creative decision can be all the indicator you need for the lack of wit or care that went into a production. The coolest character in GI Joe - the Wolverine of the franchise - is the silent ninja Snake Eyes. Here he is fighting his nemesis Storm Shadow.


And here he is up close.


Rubber lips. He’s a silent ninja - he’s mute - and his costume has sculpted rubber lips, right there between his moulded rubber cheekbones. When people look back on the GI Joe movie in future years, I suspect the phrase that will come to mind will be ‘rubber lips’.

Now you know. And knowing is half the battle.