The Walking Dead – Behind the Scenes Sizzle Reel (AMC)

It’s now just a little over a month to go before one of the most anticipated new shows on TV hits the airwaves. AMC’s tv series adaptation of Robert Kirkman’s critically-acclaimed and fan favorite comic book series The Walking Dead will premiere on Halloween night 2010 at 10pm. The show will also premiere within days in over 40-plus countries which would be an unprecedented feat for a first time tv series.

Frank Darabont and his band of writers seem to have taken Kirkman’s story and made the necessary changes to make it work on tv. One aspect of Kirkman’s storytelling was how some people thought it to be too expositionary. This left each page with too much talking while at the same time not fleshing out each character to be distinct from each other. While I can see that I don’t buy into that particular flaw in the story too much. This is a story of the end of the world and stress definitely plays a key role in how everyone reacts to their new environment.

From the AMC “sizzle” reel the network has released just in the last few days it looks like the show’s writers have taken Kirkman’s story, ideas and dialogue and made them flow much more naturally. Final judgement on whether this actually happens will have to wait until the show premieres, but Darabont has always been a writers first and filmmaker second so I definitely have much faith that he and his team will come out with a great product that takes the best from the comic book and trims the fat and gristle off by the wayside.

There’s also one thing the “sizzle” reel above shows which should answer the trepidations that some of the comic book’s fans have had since hearing th news of the adaptation. This was whether AMC will keep the gore and violence from the comic books or will it be toned down. From the looks of some of the scenes shown in the reel above the gore and violence is on-hand and from the look of things this may be the most gory thing on tv that’s not premium cable. I see blood, gore, viscera and all the nice gooey things that happens when a body’s insides are exposed to the environment. YUM!

Halloween 2010 needs to come now, but until then revisiting the comic books the series is adapting is a good way to pass the time.

Source: io9

AMV of the Day: Toradora – A Thousand Miles

[spoilers within video]

Another AMV from the romantic-comedy anime series Toradora! is my pick for AMV of the Day.

There’s not much else to say about this series other than it’s a must-see. Unlike most romantic-comedy series this one actually tries to tone down the comedic aspect of the series, but not enough to give the whole thing a too-serious vibe. The characters have believable motivations and reactions to the goings-on around them. The series also dos a great job of matching up several characters initially only to have these matches re-done until the couples people want together end up together.

This particular AMV was created by Youtube user ChangitoLoko who also made four other AMV’s using Toradora! and its many characters. I will take a huge flying leap and guess that ChangitoLoko really enjoyed this series. The song he used for this AMV is Vanessa Carlton’s song, A Thousand Miles. This song has been used in many other romantic-based AMV’s in the last. I really liked this song as paired with scenes and characters from Toradora! though there might be spoilers for those who haven’t seen the anime so beware.

Creator: ChangitoLoko

Song: A Thousand Miles by Vanessa Carlton

Anime: Toradora!

Avatar 2: Na’vi Holocaust

Dear James Cameron,

Hi, my name is Lisa Marie Bowman and I hate just about every movie you’ve ever made.  Well, that’s not totally true.  First off, I haven’t seen every movie you’ve ever made.  And I have to admit that when I was 12, I would cry and cry whenever I saw Titanic.  So, let’s just say that I hate Avatar and I thought it was kinda fun to watch your ex-wife kick your ass at the Oscars earlier this year.

From my research, it appears that you take issue with people who disagree with you or who dare to suggest that you might not be the greatest filmmaker since DeMille.  So, let me just add that this letter is being written by me and me only.  When you send out your army of Orcs to punish the heretic at Through The Shattered Lens, they need only come for me.  I may think you’re just a cranky, old dumbfug toadsucker but that’s my opinion and mine alone.

See, here’s what Arleigh had to say about Avatar.

And here’s what I said.

See, good people can have differing opinions.  Unfortunately, just judging from some of your comments in the past, I don’t think you quite understand that.  Maybe that explains why, rather than defend your movie, you always seem to end up accusing your critics of supporting global warming and the war in Iraq.  Maybe that’s why the few Oscars that Avatar won were all accepted by balding little eunuchs who spent their whole acceptance speech praising your name as if they knew that if they didn’t, you’d end up going all psycho killer on them.

But I’m getting off topic.

This letter was inspired by the news that you’re apparently planning on setting the sequel to Avatar underwater.

Wow, that sounds really, really …. boring.

Listen, James, I’m going to help you out.  Here’s my plotline for Avatar 2, which, trust me, is a lot more interesting than anything you’re planning on doing.

The film opens on Earth.  As you explained in the first film, there “is no green” on Earth.  But there are television networks and there are documentary crews.  One of these networks has recently sent a group of young filmmakers to Pandora.  Their assignment?  To track down the Na’vi and to make a documentary about these “brutal savages” and their life on the green hell that is Pandora.

(Yes, James, this film is a prequel.  Perhaps you could have Jake’s brother getting murdered in the background of one of the opening New York City shots.)

However, a week after the documentary crew first arrived on Pandora, all contact with them has been lost.  The television networks hires a portly anthropology professor to go to Pandora and find out what has happened.  Before the professor leaves on his mission, he is informed that the documentarians frequently staged the very atrocities that their films are known for.

Our anthropology professor — let’s call him Nick, since I know you like to dumb things down — goes to Pandora.  With the help of a native guide, he manages to track down the Na’vi and win their trust.  Taken to the Na’vi village, he discovers that the remains of the documentary crew are hanging from the Soul Tree.  He realizes that they were captured and eaten by the Na’vi.  However, the Na’vi did not destroy any of the film crew’s cameras.  The footage of their final days in the jungles of Pandora has been preserved.  Nick steals the footage and manages to make it back to “civilization” even as hordes of angry Na’vi chase after him (not mention Sigourney Weaver who can do a cameo somewhere around here).

While all this is going on, the film will occasionally pause to show grainy stock footage of various jungle animals being killed in various sickening ways.

Nick returns to Earth with the film.  Sitting in a dark theater with the television executives, Nick views the footage.

Now, James, this is the tricky part.  The “found footage” will dominate the last 40 minutes of Avatar 2.  It’s important that the footage look so authentic that, for decades after, various dumbfugs will swear that they’re watching actual footage of actual people being eaten on camera.  So, you’re going to have to abandon the 3-D for this part of the film.  Instead, you’ll have to develop a multi-billion dollar process that will make the film look damaged.  I’m talking about random scratches, unsynchronized sound, solarization, the whole deal. 

As for the footage itself, this is what will make Avatar 2 special.  We’ll see how the documentary crew staged “reality.”  We’ll watch as they set a Na’Vi village on fire and how they arrogantly assumed that they’re superior to the natives.  Finally, however, the Na’Vi will strike back and, in the film’s final moment, we’ll watch as the documentarians are eaten by the Na’Vi while their own cameras silently record the massacre.

We’ll call it Avatar 2: Na’Vi Holocaust.

I think it could be a winner.


Lisa Marie

Highschool of the Dead: Episode 11 – First Impressions

We are down to the last final episodes of this first season of Madhouse’s anime series adaptation of the zombie and ecchi manga series, Highschool of the Dead. The last episode was the start of the calm before what I hope to be the major storm that will take this series into a second season.

Episode 11 didn’t linger on too much on the fanservice side of the series with the exception of an all-too-brief look inside the school bus of Shido-san and his sex cultists. We get a glimpse at how Shido deals with the students who don’t conform to his twisted (albeit must be quite fun) outlook on the new world order as it stands now. The manga had shown that particular sequence of why that one student was thrown off the bus to be taken by the zombies. In this episode we didn’t see what caused his expulsion, but got a sense that the student didn’t want to join in on the bus orgy going on between the students with Shido-san acting as a sort of Aleister Crowley-like figurehead.

While inside the Takagi compound it looks like the episode skipped some more of the manga and didn’t show how Takagi’s father was finally swayed to allow Kohta to keep the groups weapons. I can understand the Madhouse writers trying to cram as much of the manga into a 13-episode season, but the way they’re going about things they could catch up to the manga by episode 13 which would definitely might be a sign that a second season won’t be in the offing. Here’s to hoping that the writers were just trying to move things along to the crisis which sends the group out of the compound and back into the dangers of the city-proper.

While the fanservice was limited the harem aspect of the story continued to grow as Rei literally threw herself at the mercy of Komuro but to no avail. Does Rei know that Saeko and Saya may be competing with her for Komuro’s attention? If that’s the case then Komuro definitely has shown quite a bit of restraint when it comes to Rei’s increasingly aggressive advances. There’s also the fact that Komuro and Saeko may have already sealed their partnership a few episodes past though we never really saw it but definitely implied.

The arrival of Shido-san into the compound definitely explains why Rei was so adamant to leave the safety of the bus early in the season. The fact that Rei dismissed Shido-san as less than worthy of her attention was a nice touch even though this could become a major problem for the group down the line. Even in the manga the fate of Shido-san and his group of students were not truly explained though not all of them could’ve survived their subsequent exile.

With two episodes left and with the major superpowers throwing nukes at each other, I hope that this calm has finally ended and the storm that’s been brewing since the group arrived at the Takagi compound can finally smash into the city. If there’s to be no second season then these last two episodes need to put the previous 11 in terms of action, horror and fanservice to shame. It’s the only way for the series to go out with a huge bang.

Review: The Walking Dead Volume 6 (by Robert Kirkman)

[Some Spoilers Within]

The Walking Dead follows-up the 5th volume with This Sorrowful Life and Kirkman sure does hit it right on the nail with the title. The book tells the second half of the story arc begun in the previous volume. To recap in the previous volume Rick and his group make way to investigate a crashed helicopter only to run into another group of survivors who have holed up in the partially walled off and fortified town of Woodbury. Whatever joy they find in knowing there are other survivors other than themselves was short-lived as they finally meet the person who runs and rules Woodbury.

This Sorrowful Life takes the story up with Rick, Michonne and Glenn in even a worse situation than being stuck outside with the zombies. The book introduces the people of Woodbury as not just survivors but also the polar opposite of those surviving in the prison. While the book makes a point to not paint the whole Woodbury population as losing their humanity it also points out that they’ve sacrificed their humanity to those promising them safety. They’ve pretty much given up their rights to the one who calls himself the Governor who rules Woodbury through intimidation and so-called bloodsports involving gladiator-like fighters and corralled zombies. We see who the difference between Rick and the Governor’s way of keeping their people safe also show the kind of people the are. Where Rick tries to keep his people safe and together without losing their humanity the Governor goes the opposite way and grabs a hold of power even at the cost of everyone.

Kirkman does a great job of showing the two groups and how its probably inevitable that the two will have a confrontation either in Woodbury or back in the prison. While not everyone in Woodbury were out for themselves, a few manage to sympathize with Rick and his group, the rest of the town could easily be considered as the biggest threat hanging over the prison survivors. Again Kirkman shows that sometimes its not the zombies themselves who’re the biggest threat to humanity’s survival. It’s people and their flaws to always get into conflict with each other instead of pulling together for the greater good and survival of everyone.

The book ends with Rick having to make another decision where he has to sacrifice some of his own ideals in order to keep his family and friends safe. Will this sacrifice end up costing him down the line will be up to Kirkman to tell us. I hope he continues to expand on this Woodbury angle but at the same time not go overboard on the extreme end of the emotional spectrum. It’s great that he’s limited the amount of soap opera-style stortelling which dominated volume 4, but going for just action and action and action without plot would be just as bad. So far, volume 6 and it’s predecessor in volume 5 tells me he’s got a great hold on the story.

6 More Trailers: The I Am Woman Hear Me Roar Edition

It’s the weekend and that can only mean that it’s time for another installment of my favorite grindhouse and exploitation trailers.  This installment is devoted to films about women kicking ass.

1) Faster Pussycat!  Kill!  Kill!

From infamous director Russ Meyer comes this classic drive-in feature.  I just love that title, don’t you?  This was the original cinematic celebration of women kicking ass.  As the lead killer, Tura Satana has to be seen to be believed.  Whenever I find myself struggling with insecurity or fear, I just call on my inner Tura Satana.  (All women have an inner Tura Satana.  Remember that before you do anything you might regret later…)

2) Vixen

This is another one of Russ Meyer’s films.  Released in 1968, Vixen is best remembered for Erica Gavin’s ferocious lead performance.  For me, the crazed narration makes the entire trailer.

3) Coffy

I love this movie!  Pam Grier battles the drug trade and kills a lot of people.  When we talk about how a film can be both exploitive and empowering at the same time, Coffy is the type of movie that we’re talking about.

4) Kansas City Bomber

Before there was Ellen Page, there was Racquel Welch.  Playing her boyfriend/manager in this film is Kevin McCarthy who was the lead in the original Invasion of the Body Snatchers.  My mom used to love this movie.

5) Shock 

This was the last film that Mario Bava ever directed and it’s one of my personal favorites.  In the lead role, Daria Nicolodi gives one of the best performances in the history of Italian horror.

6) Let’s Scare Jessica To Death

This is one of the greatest horror movies ever made and it reamins sadly neglected.  You must see this film before you die (which, hopefully, will not be for a very long while).

Quickie Review: The Town (dir. by Ben Affleck)

If someone just five years ago told me that Ben Affleck would turn out to be a director whose work has been some of the better crime drama/thrillers of the past decade then I would declare shenanigans on that individual. Ben Affleck might have won an Oscar for helping write the screenplay for Good Will Hunting, but his career since could be labeled as being one of a joke (Gigli) interspersed with huge paycheck projects (Armageddon) that showed his range as an actor.

This is not to say that Affleck has no talent in front of the camera. I just believe that early in his career after winning his Oscar he got fooled into thinking that everything else since would be Easy Street paved in gold (financially and critically). To say that it hasn’t turned out to be that way (though he did make a ton of money) would be an understatement. But one thing happened while Affleck’s acting career was heading nowhere but down. He got behind the camera as a director and his very first time directing a feature-length film he would make one of 2007’s best films. I speak of his film adaptation of the Dennis Lehane crime drama, Gone Baby Gone. He didn’t just direct the life out of that film, but he also the screenplay with the help of Aaron Stockard.

The two of the them would collaborate once again on Affleck’s latest Boston-based crime drama, The Town. He wrote the screenplay and directed the film and pulled in some wonderful performances from an ensemble cast which included Jeremy Renner, Jon Hamm, Rebecca Hall, Blake Lively, Titus Welliver and Pete Postlethwaite. Fellow site writer Lisa Marie already reviewed the film in detail and her review pretty much put down into words exactly what I thought of the film. I will say that I would swerve slightly away from what she considered some of the flaws in the film.

The Town was adapted from Chuck Hogan’s novel, Prince of Thieves. I would consider the screenplay and dialogue as a major strength of the film. While at times it did seemed to follow the step-by-step and by-the-numbers heist thriller story the screenplay itself didn’t ring false. I liken this film to another heist film which shared some themes and similarities. Michael Mann’s Heat also dealt with the cops-and-robbers foundation. Where Mann’s film had a much larger and epic scope to its storytelling it still boiled down to two groups of determined men playing a dangerous game of cat-and-mouse. The women in both film were written just enough that they had distinct personalities, but in the end they were motivations for the men in the film.

Affleck shows that he doesn’t just know how to direct, but continues is reputation as being one very good screenwriter. One just has to be reminded that he is now 3-for-3 when it comes to screenplays he has written which have turned out to be great ones. While he doesn’t have the same flair for words as Tarantino or Mamet when it comes to the screenplay. What he does well was to create an efficient script which flowed from scene to scene. Tarantino’s screenplays are great, but at times he does allow himself to overindulge his inner-film geek and create dialogue that might be Sorkin-like in execution. What I mean is that as great as the dialogue sound there’s no way people really spoke like this to each other. Affleck’s screenplay for The Town felt very natural and even with Jon Hamm’s less than great performance the film had a natural and genuine sound to it’s dialogue.

That’s one flaw pointed out by Lisa Marie that I would disagree with her on. The other two I can see her point, but it bothered me none. Though if I ever took on a life of crime I would hope I find someone just like Rebecca Hall’s Claire. Now there’s a woman who stands by her man no matter what.

I think in the long run this film might just be seen as one of the best of 2010 and some critics have already dubbed it so. While it’s prospects come awards season time is still up in the air I wouldn’t be surprised if it ends up nabbing one of the ten Best Picture nominations when the Oscar nominations get announced. It would be well-deserved and would just prove that Affleck’s career in the film industry might just be hitting its stride. Who would’ve thought it would be as a writer-director and not as an actor.