Monday, May 12, 2014

First Constantine trailer is here!

I am going to come out and admit that I full on loved the 2005 Constantine movie starring everyone's favorite movie savior, Keanu Reeves. I know some people hated it but well, to borrow from the comic book they're tossers.

With that said, it's about to get blown out of the water.

NBC has picked up a TV-series based on, I think, the original comic book and reset it Constantine to his blonde, British roots. The first trailer for the series has just dropped and if demons and angels are your cup of tea, then sit back and take some good long sips because this one is a doozy!

The show stars Matt Ryan ("Criminal Minds") as the eponymous supernatural detective, Lucy Griffiths ("True Blood"), Harold Perrineau ("Lost") and Charles Halford. The power of Christ compels you!

Saturday, May 3, 2014

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

His greatest battle…is having his movie
written by the same people who
wrote Prometheus
You will hear that The Amazing Spiderman 2 is not a good movie because of a glut of villains.

This is not true.

You will hear that The Amazing Spiderman 2 is not a good movie because Garfield or Foxx didn't embody their character right.

This is not true.

It is not a good movie because it has plot points but not narrative.

It is not a good movie because it has characters without motivations.

It is not a good movie because it had more product placement than Man of Steel.

It is not a good movie because it has lifted whole scenes from other super hero movies...but not the right ones. In all seriousness, Jaime Foxx's Electro is an almost beat for beat clone of Jim Carrey's Riddler and I mean that in the worst way possible. To quote Elephant Robot himself, "when you can have had Django Unchained Jamie Foxx, why would want In Living Color Jamie Foxx?"

I wanted to love this movie but would have settled for enjoying myself. And...and the movie is just ok. Lots of great, wonderful little moments surrounded by tons of wasted opportunities and wasted potential. It’s not throw-your-popcorn-at-the-screen bad, nor it it clap-and-jump good. It's shoulder-shrug okay. And that…mediocrity…is what really pissed me off.

This article and this one sum it up quite nicely if you want to read more reasons why this movie is so frustrating. 

Wednesday, April 30, 2014

Pax Romana is getting the TV treatment!

Over here at Elephant Robot, several of us are big fans of Jonathan Hickman's deliriously good Pax Romana, a heady graphic novel that involves time traveling priests, WWIII, and more text than you might read in a proper non-graphic novel. Hickman books are  the anti-Game of Thrones…he assumes you can maintain focus and attention in the midst of robust dialogue and doesn’t hide his ideas in "sexposition," as it were.

We've just learned that the lovely people over at SyFy (the SciFi channel is dead! Long live the SyFy Channel!) will be adapting Pax Romana it for the small screen. Which both excellent and terrifying. Excellent because TV is where a complex concept like Pax Romana needs to live. Terrifying because, well, it's still the SyFy channel and they're not exactly known for amazing programming. I mean, Warehouse 13 is a good time and all, but great TV it is not.

But let's not lose the forest for the trees here: Pax Romana is about to become a TV show. And that. Is. Awesome!

Batman Day!

Why isn't my baby monkey old enough to do this yet??!?

Batman Day” is on Wednesday, July 23rd, and in libraries on Saturday, July 26th. So what are the comic stores going to have in stock? Coming to retailers for free in time for that day…
Detective Comics #27 Special Edition, featuring a reimagining of the 1939 Bob Kane/Bill Finger original comic book, designed by Chip Kidd with a script by The New York Times #1 bestselling author Brad Meltzer. 
12” x 16” x 4” Store Bags featuring Batman 75th Anniversary artwork on one side and the Batman 75 logo on the reverse side. 
Batman Graphic Novels bookmarks 
22” x 34” History of Batman Timeline Poster. 
22” x 34” Batman Graphic Novels Poster.
And stores can also purchase the following to giveaway,

Monday, April 7, 2014

"Leaked" Star Wars…The Musical…Auditions

So apparently the good people at Funny or Die took out an ad stating that Disney was casting for a musical version of Star Wars. And they filmed it. Because of course they did. So here you go folks…happy Monday!

Friday, April 4, 2014

Podcast: True Detective

Elephant Robot, BioMechanical Bear, Hydraulic Hummingbird, and the irascible Magnetic Monkey discuss season one of HBO's "True Detective," in our first ever podcast.

Friday, March 28, 2014

Love/Hate/Try Friday

A special Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles edition of Love/Hate/Try Friday!

Hate:  Traditional nerd hand-wringing that, sight unseen, a new movie of some beloved property will be terrible. (e.g., the new TMNT movie will have them be aliens)

Try:  Pressing play on this trailer.

Love:  Everything the trailer has to offer, from the silly 80's goofiness placed into a hyper-real world, the one guy from The Dark Knight, and Michael Bay apparently making up with Megan Fox.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Spider-Verse, Spider-Verse, does whatever a Spider-Verse Can

J. Michael Staczynski's celebrated run on The Amazing Spider-Man from 2001 to 2007 was the high water mark of the book for many readers, myself and and Elephant Robot included. That run included several exceptional expansion so the Spider-Man universe, such as Spider-mentor Ezekiel, Peter's children with Gwen Stacey's (gasp!), and perhaps best of all...Morlun.

Morlun was the first exceptional addition to Spider-Man's rogues gallery in almost a decade. He remains, to me, the most terrifying villain Spider-Man ever faced. The only thing like him to me was Agent Smith from The Matrix (just the first one people, let's be serious here). Every time he appeared, I was freaked out over what he was going to do. Spider-Man finally bested his foe and Morlun's been more or less off the grid since then. 

Until now.

Marvel announced a new event starting in November that will cover the entire "Spider-Verse" that sees the return of the dearly departed Morlun. 
Peter Parker, Miguel O’Hara, Miles Morales and many, many more must unite to stop a seemingly insurmountable super-powered foe. Morlun, an incredibly powerful villain has returned with a singular and terrifying goal: exterminate every Spider-Man in every universe! It will take thousands of spider-powered heroes to battle back the greatest threat to this universe or any other!
And, to celebrate that, they've released this kick-ass banner of all the Spider...people...that will be in the book. Click the banner for a larger image and if you're not sure who each of these Spider-people are, check out the annotated poster!

Monday, March 24, 2014

The new "X-Men: Days of Future Past" trailer is here!

The new X-Men: Days of Future Past trailer has landed and against my better judgment I continue to get more excited about it.


What did you think? Many of the sins of X-Men movies past seem corrected:

  • Halle Berre lackluster acting as the center point (X3)? She's barely here!
  • Lackluster badguy with no serious powers (X2)? Sentinels!
  • No emotional conflict tying the characters together (X3)? Trails abound in the trailer!
  • Total misuse of comic backstory (X-Men Origins: Wolverine)? This looks deeply embedded in the source material.
  • No Patrick Stewart or Ian McKellen (X-Men: First Class)? This movie has EVERYONE in it!

The depiction of various mutant powers continues to impress me as both graphically impressive and also tied to story. There's also a quick look at Quicksilver in the background of the shot at 1:10 that doesn't look half as bad as it did in the still shot on a recent magazine cover.

Yes…I'm loathe to drink the X-Men kook-aid again after the debacle that was X3 and X-Men Origins: Wolverine...but X-Men: First Class and The Wolverine have convinced me that perhaps the ship has been righted.

Here's to hoping again.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Love/Hate/Try Friday

Love it
Activision is making The Amazing Spider Man 2 video game! The first one was excellent. Love that a second is en route!
Hate it
Divergent is (apparently) the latest in a long line of terrible YA adaptations. I hate that YA movies are where super hero movies were pre-Marvel: studios are stuck in "if we make it, they will come" and focus on pumping these movies out rather than making sure they're good.

Try it
Captain America 2: The Winter Soldier opens next week. If you haven't tried the graphic novel run that this movie is based on it, do yourself a favor and stop doing everything else in life until you have. No seriously.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

RoboConvo - Part 6

Once upon a time, Magnetic Monkey (MM) and Elephant Robot (ER) went to a theater and watched RoboCop.  Then they talked about it.  A lot, in fact.  What follows is Part 6 of that conversation.  It's the last part!

MM:  It would have been interesting if they had done the RoboCop piece with the first candidates, who were just missing limbs or paralyzed.  It would have been interesting if they had tried it with them, and the robotics don't take... they can't accept the programming... whatever.  And that's when they decide, "you know, we just need his brain.  That's all we need."

ER:  Yeah.  You know, I read that Padilha had a number of ideas he couldn't get into the film because of studio involvement.  He said something like "for every 10 ideas, I have to scrap 9," or something like that.  And it would have been interesting to see how dark and twisted it would have been if he could have gone all out with those ideas.  Though I think it is a testament to him as a film maker that, for all those constraints, he made a pretty darn fun and interesting movie.

MM:  Yeah.  Well, in the Paul Verhoeven era, it was before everything was supposed to be a tentpole to hold everything up.  RoboCop, the original, is a small unassuming movie.  Small budget, low expectations, and it became this sleeper hit.  Well, this new movie comes out, and Padilha  doesn't have the freedom if it had been made independently simply because the studio had sunk all this money into it, and expected a franchise back.

ER:  Yeah.  The studio is thinking of longevity.  "if you do THIS, that precludes a sequel."

MM:  Yep.  Got to have the kid in it.  Got to keep him in there.  It's a deal with the devil, when you're making studio films that way.  It only makes me appreciate The Avengers more, because Whedon was able to make a film that satisfied both the studios and the Geeks.

To a certain extent, people who like this kind of material do need to vote with their dollar and go see these kinds of movies.  Because when they don't do well, the studios think it was because they didn't control it enough, not that it wasn't given freedom enough.

ER:  But at the same token, with remakes geekdom thinks "Oh, you're going to ruin the original movie."  Like people who think the prequels ruined the original Star Wars movie.  But that's simply not the case.

MM:  Yeah.

The world super needs a Gilgamesh movie
ER:  Well, I think we should wrap this up.  Which means it's time to circle around back to the question: why did this movie need to be made in the first place?  I didn't want to answer that, but you said you did.

MM:  Yes.  In each generation, as you move away from an original story, the next generation has to retell the story for itself.  So if you don't retell Beowulf, or Grendel, or Gilgamesh, the story is no longer in your cultural repertoire.

For all the crap people give Disney about retelling Snow White, Cinderella... in the absence of those re-tellings?  Those stories would be gone.  We wouldn't have references to the Hans Christian Anderson and Brothers Grimm stories.

So why do you have to remake RoboCop?  Because if you don't, we won't remember it, and what the story has to tell us is lost.

I don't think there's anything wrong retelling a story for each generation.  Hopalong Cassidy is gone, the Lone Ranger is still here.  If you don't retell the story, eventually the story will go away.

Here's hoping that the RoboCop remake in 2040 
 features Christian Bale as RoboCop's maker

So I hope in 20 or 30 years they retell another RoboCop story.  I just hope the studio will give things a little bit more time to breathe.  Batman is getting rebooted too frequently, with the new one.  Whereas the difference between the Keaton Batman and the Bale Batman was perfect.

So I think you do need the space between stories to let each one stand as a separate iteration.  So each generation will retell the story of Hercules, and retell the story of Thor, and impart their own morality to their own children.  That's the point of stories.

ER:  A point of stories.

MM:  The. Only. One.  No, you're obviously totally right.  But that is one of the main reasons we tell stories.

ER:  So basically, this movie is responsible for the continuing existence of not just western drama, but also western civilization.

MM:  Basically, yes. RoboCop ensure life as we know it continues.

ER:  All right.  Well, there you have it.  If you don't go see RoboCop, our cities will burn.
Don't let our cities burn!

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

RoboConvo - Part 5

Once upon a time, Magnetic Monkey (MM) and Elephant Robot (ER) went to a theater and watched RoboCop.  Then they talked about it.  A lot, in fact.  What follows is Part 5 of that conversation.

ER:  Let’s talk more about the end of the movie. I think there was the possibility for a real dark ending to be had in this film, prior to the comedic Sam Jackson button.  And that is - the task is over, whatever that ends up being, and I don't think it wanted to end with him killing the Michael Keaton character.  I think it would have been more interesting if he hadn't.  If instead that character had been arrested and put in a cell, in the way that Alex Murphy is now in a cell - the cell of his body.

MM:  Ooooh.

ER:  But I think there was some horror to be had at the end, with some realization "now that the chase is over, the fight is finished... here I am, a floating head."  And I think that for a movie that wanted to be realistic, ultimately... he can't go back to his family.

And because they had built up the family as such a key part of the movie, I think the ending wanted to be more tragic.  Where there's an acknowledgment of what's lost.  He's horrifying to his son.

MM:  Yeah.

ER:  He can't make love to his wife.

MM:  Nope.

ER:  And he has the entire criminal database always at the corners of his mind.  So I think there was some kind of interesting and unresolvable hurdle to attempt at the end
of the movie.  And they shied away from that for a PG-13, all is well, family is back together, the day is won.

I'm reminded of A History of Violence.  And as much as I disliked that adaptation, because I think it lost the heart of what the source material was...

MM:  Totally agree.

ER:   But there's that great scene at the end of the movie after he's just bad-assed out and killed...

MM:  Everybody.

ER:  Everybody.  And he sits down at the table with his family.  And there's that moment where it's the appearance of the family being back together.  But something has inexorably shifted, and there's a horror introduced now.  Even something as short and simple as that would have been welcome to me at the end of RoboCop to acknowledge something is broken that's not going to be fixed.

MM:  A Murphy family dinner would have been amazing.

It gets back to that question of identity.  "What is it to be human?  What is it to be a husband?  What is it to be a father?"  These are things that he's lost.  And in human history, you know, if you lost an arm you lost an arm.  Then we had hooks.  And now we're adding robotic arms.  And it raises the question of "what is it to touch someone?"

I feel like in the 21st century we have Kurzweil and Google basically trying to rebuild humanity inside machines that we built ourselves.  I think it's a far more relevant story today.

RoboCop tackles questions like... mortality, and what's it worth to be alive?  When do we die?

The idea of losing an arm, as an example, is a situation where you life has died to a very real extent.  In the same way that when you have a child, your life as you knew it has died.  And there's this very profound rebirth sequence that you go through.  And the rebirth is made more painful when you're trying to hold onto the life that you've lost, instead of embracing the life that you have.  And that loss, that grief... the robotics just preclude Murphy from dealing with it for a period of time.

His wife doesn't get to go into mourning after the car bomb.  She's in this liminal state.  She's almost Schrodinger's cat.  She's neither alive nor dead.  She's neither a widow nor a wife.

I don't think you have to deal with that, but I think RoboCop tried to be a family movie, in a weird way.  And it was not going to get away with that.  Or at least, the PG-13ness was trying to make it more palatable.

But I understand why they did that.  Because they want to get their money back.

ER:  Well, and it's interesting that what you have at the end of this movie is an unintentionally satiric
moment, where you have the dark side of the "typical nuclear American family," which is that Dad is sort of this iconic absent figure.  He goes to work.  He does his thing.  We don't understand what that thing is.  Then he comes home, and he's kind of a part of us? But really he's not. And without intentionally doing that, that's sort of what they did at the end of the movie, in that shot where we see them in the skywalk together.  There's this great appearance of normalcy, that doesn't exist.

But the film wasn't intending that, but unintentionally that was communicated.

MM:  I thought there was a nice moment in True Detective, Episode 7, where Woody Harrelson's character acknowledges to his ex-wife that their lives – her life, and the kids' lives – are better off without him in it.  And he thanks her for that, and he appreciates it.  And it's this moment that
sometimes you recognize that the horror of what you do precludes you from the life you would otherwise have led.

And there's something about RoboCop that...well, it's like a priest.  They choose not to take a family out of dedication to their office.  And RoboCop has basically sacrificed "the joys of the flesh," as it were, to be a more badass cop.

ER:  RoboCop and the priesthood.  I think that’s a good place to stop for today.  Tune in tomorrow for our final installment of the epic RoboConvo!

Monday, March 10, 2014

RoboConvo - Part 4

Once upon a time, Magnetic Monkey (MM) and Elephant Robot (ER) went to a theater and watched RoboCop.  Then they talked about it.  A lot, in fact.  What follows is Part 4 of that conversation.

ER:  Let’s talk about technology.

MM:  Let’s.

ER:  When the original RoboCop came out, nobody had cell phones.  Most people didn't have home computers.  The internet didn't exist - not how it does today.  There was that Ray Kurzweil article you were telling me about that said we are already cyborgs.  Just because the computers aren't inside us, doesn't mean there isn't already this symbiotic relationship between people and their iPhones, their GPS devices, their televisions.

So I was thinking about how we, as a culture
re, are all so... not just reliant but in love with our technology.  So it's hard to present the RoboCop story today as a techno-nightmare.  There's the body horror, yes.  But apart from that, viewers might watch this and say, "oh, those are some nice short cuts he has to his technology.

MM:  The part that particularly kind of hard for me was when they were downloading the case files into his brain, and then all the CCTV feeds, and all of a sudden he's like "I just solved 600 cases."  But that technology already exists, to synthesize those two sources.

ER:  Well, yes and no.  I think that's one of those interesting cases where you see what the symbiosis is between man and machine.  Because computers are stupid.  And you could take a computer and it can store all of that data – how Murphy did – and have access to all those CCTV feeds – like Murphy did, but the computer doesn't know how to manipulate that information creatively.  To connect the dots and draw the conclusions to solve crimes.

At the same time, a human brain is much slower than the processing speed of a computer.  So a person couldn't sit down at that machine and solve 600 cases how Murphy did either.

To me, that was actually a small but interesting moment that presented something that challenges the audience with, "well, wouldn't this actually be nice?  What could you do with an augmented brain?"

MM:  Yeah.  I want to jump back to the third act.

ER:  Do it.

MM:  I do think one of the central problems with the third act of the film is that it's not sure what it's critiquing Michael Keaton for having done in the first place.  What was the great evil he perpetrated?  The big thing that he did was take Murphy of life support.  Which, in the film, was one of the lesser things someone did to mess with him.

ER:  You know, in making the film plausible and not camp, the antagonist can't be twirling a mustache with a hobby of killing puppies.  The Michael Keaton instead is an intelligent man.  Thoughtful, charismatic, empathetic –

MM:  So why is he your villain?  Why is he your "big bad?"  I thought the Jackie Earle Haley character would have made a better opponent for the third act confrontation.

ER:  Well, he was.

MM:  But he wasn't the final hurdle.

ER:  To me, the failure of the third act isn't that the Michael Keaton character wasn't a "sufficiently evil" villain.  But rather that if this was a real world situation... you know, the evil we see in the real world is never intentionally evil.

MM:  No one wakes up and thinks "I'm a villain."

ER:  Right.  So the Michael Keaton character is making money, and making choices to make more money.  And yes there are ethical missteps –

MM:  Or an absence of ethical foresteps.

ER:  Perhaps.

MM:  But from an emotional payoff situation, you want the Quantum Leap thing.  You want them to make right what once went wrong.  You want something avenged in a morality play.

ER:  Well, and that's the thing in the original movie.  In the end, even though he says "Call me Murphy," the character is still for all intents and purposes lobotomized.

MM:  Absolutely.

ER:  So there's no potential in that movie for him to be anything more than that.  This film made the choice to allow him to maintain his memories and his personality and his sense of humor –

MM:  Which to my mind?  That makes Gary Oldman the villain of the movie. Because he's the one that took his emotions and his feelings and his humor away from him.

ER:  Although that made his life easier for a brief time.  That's when he's happiest in the movie.  One could argue.


MM:  The moral of RoboCop:  prozac is good for you.

ER:  Yes.  On that note, let’s take a pause.  See you tomorrow, faithful readers, for Part 5.

Sunday, March 9, 2014

RoboConvo - Part 3

Once upon a time, Magnetic Monkey (MM) and Elephant Robot (ER) went to a theater and watched RoboCop.  Then they talked about it.  A lot, in fact.  What follows is Part 3 of that conversation.

ER:  Let's jump back to a really basic question we skipped over.  Did you enjoy the movie?

MM:  I did enjoy the movie.  I didn't think the third act gave me what I wanted, because there wasn't a central villain.  The original movie has a stronger third act, because it's him getting revenge on the guys who killed him.  There's two layers of it.  There's the gang boss who kills him.

ER:  The dad from That 70's Show!

MM:  Yes.  And then there's the gang boss' boss.  In the remake, he kills the gang boss in Act 2, so that's diffused before the climax.  In the remake, there's a disconnect between the Michael Keaton character and the movie feeling buttoned up.

ER:  Because he's not going after him for making him RoboCop, but because he tried to kill him 15 minutes earlier.

MM:  Right.

ER:  This takes us back to some of the conscious changes Jose Padilha made with the tone.  One of the things he wanted was for the robots to be functional.  In the original there's that joke where he can't go up the stairs, and they just don't work well.  And in the original movie, the reason they want to put a man in the machine is to make the machine work better.  It's a practical reason.  So that's something in updating it, he said "No, no - the machines work, and they work just dandy."

MM:  Probably in those exact words.

ER:  That's right.  The other choice is that Murphy maintains his personality.

MM:  He never dies.

ER:  Yes.  Which really allows a horror element that's not present in the original movie.  I mean, there's that scene where they are building him up, and the Miguel Ferrera character tells them to cut off his arm, but we're not getting the sense of a man being amputated, as much as a vague consciousness being born.

So those two changes, and the structure of the original movie, the original movie pulls very much from Isaac Asimov.

MM:  Robotic laws.

ER:  Yes.  And Murphy is trying to rewire these basic commandments.  And at the end of the film, the climax is that he finds a Clintonian way around them.  The baddie gets fired, so he can shoot him.

In this new movie, I think they struggled with their final button moment.  And instead of coming up with something new, they tried to make that moment fit in with the red wrist band things.

MM:  Which, weren't you expecting somebody's hand to get ripped off at some point?

ER:  Definitely.  That gun never fired.

MM:  I agree with that.  And I think that the movie wanted to condemn Keaton's character for stealing Keaton's humanity.  He's the one who didn't let him just die, but insisted he be reborn this way.  But Gary Oldman's character is complicit in making that happen, and he's the one that actually does it.  And there's no sense of critique in the film for Oldman's character.  He addresses that he thinks he made a mistake and went too far, but the movie doesn't condemn him for it.

ER:  Yeah... and do they say Murphy is paralyzed from the neck down or the waist down?

MM:  Waist.

ER:  Aha.  So that's something that's never addressed in this movie.  Why he had to lose his torso and that one working arm.

MM:  I just found it interesting that the movie had no criticism for Gary Oldman's character.  I mean, ultimately Michael Keaton chose to pull the plug on him.  But that's what Murphy wanted in the first place, he wanted to be able to die.  And Oldman actually monkeyed with Murphy's brain.  He actually turned him into a slave to programming.

ER:  Well, hopefully our readers have become a slave to this series.

MM:  Hopefully.

ER:  Come back tomorrow for the next installment.  Your programming requires it.

Saturday, March 8, 2014

RoboConvo - Part 2

Once upon a time, Magnetic Monkey (MM) and Elephant Robot (ER) went to a theater and watched RoboCop.  Then they talked about it.  A lot, in fact.  What follows is Part 2 of that conversation.

ER:  Okay.  So I was thinking about amputees.

MM:  Keeping it light.

ER:  Right.  With amputees, people are familiar with phantom limb syndrome.  But less familiar with the idea that people go into mourning for their body parts that are now gone.  The thing that's interesting about the human body is that we think about ourselves as a single entity, when we really are a corporate structure.  Billions of cells that all come together, and there's no one cell that's you.  Even your mind isn't a single thing.  So that's interesting - when you've dismantled, as they did in RoboCop, all the cells except for a few parts of living anatomy, what does that do?

MM:  Yeah.

Original shot of C3PO's dismantling in Empire Strikes Back
ER:  Well, we sort of jumped right in here.  But let's back it up a bit and ask, what was to be gained from telling this story again?  Why did we need a RoboRemake?

MM:  I think I have an answer for that.

ER:  I'm sure you do.

MM:  But I'm going to hold onto it.

ER:  Clever girl.

MM:  So you first.

ER:  Why do I think we needed a remake?
What's this from?
Option 1: "Heeeeey yooooou guuuuys!"
Option 2: outtake from The Toxic Avenger
Option 3: The original RoboCop because…reasons.

MM:  It was your question.

ER:  Yeah, well I don't want to answer it.  What I do want to speak to is something I liked about this remake, which is that it tried consciously to be something different.  And that started with tone.  The first RoboCop was camp.  At it's blissful, splashiest, unapologetic best, it was pure camp.  But unlike, say, the Adam West Batman, that camp was coupled with this over-the-top violence.

MM:  Which is really cartoony.

ER:  It absolutely is.  And those two elements, camp plus gore, that's really the Verhoeven hallmark.

MM:  Yes.

ER:  And with this movie, I think the thing Jose Padilha set out to do was to take this campy idea and this campy movie, and somehow make it all grounded in a plausible reality.  And that was accomplished not just with the action sequences, but with the characterization.

MM:  And the tone.  The original is much more comedic, but it has to be because it's a very pessimistic film.

I wish this was an outtake from
Newsies 2: Brooklyn Takes Manhattan
ER:  I agree.  And it's interesting that you say that, because a lot of people said RoboCop 2 was this horrible leap where all of a sudden everything became pessimistic and bleak.  Roger Ebert (before he was RoboCritic) very famously decried that the movie had a kid who was a killer.  And this of course was about a decade before Columbine and the subsequent school shootings, so the film was very prescient in that regard.  But there was just as much twisted humanity in the first film, which as you say was pessimistic.

MM:  Hugely pessimistic.

ER:  But entertainly so.

Terminator? Cylon? Robo-fodder?
MM:  Yes.  It was sarcasm, which is the disbelief in the genuineness of something.  But the remake distinctly wants a world free from... well, it's almost like its merging a couple things.  The drone component is identifying that humans are programming computers, and then trying to masquerade that as being free of bias.  But they've been programmed by a human that had a bias in the first place.

ER:  Right.

MM:  So drone warfare is, in one sense, dismantling the humanity of killing.  And on the flip side, they're saying the machines are better to administer justice because they have no bias.  But that's not true, because they're programmed by people with bias.

ER:  It is true.  Well, let’s leave things there for today.  Come back tomorrow for Part 3!

Friday, March 7, 2014

RoboConvo - Part 1

Once upon a time, Magnetic Monkey (MM) and Elephant Robot (ER) went to a theater and watched RoboCop.  Then they talked about it.  A lot, in fact.  What follows is Part 1 of that conversation.

Magnetic Monkey:  I think one of the interesting things that the new RoboCop movie tackled that the original did not is the idea of embodied humanity.  There's a question of like, "what is it to be human?"  Is a human just the brain impulses?  Is a human also there body?

So the gnostics of the first century very much believed that the body was a sensory illusion, that the real human was the mind beneath it.  The gnostics were the ones who were famous for claiming that Jesus the son of God wore Jesus the carpenter son like a flesh suit, then left the flesh suit behind when he was crucified.

So you have this idea of "what is it to be human?"  Is a human both their body and their mind?  Is it body, heart, and soul?  You have this thing that people have... are we dualists?  That's kind of the question.  Are both parts necessary to identify us as humans.

So I thought the new film tackled that.  And there was the line "it's a machine that thinks it's Alex Murphy."  In the original movie, there's nothing of Murphy left except for some ideas and his face.  There's no fleshy parts left.  So in that one he's flat out dead.  In this one he never dies.  So the question of the soul, where is it housed, where is it cased, this new movie tackles some of those questions, or at least leaves you to consider them.

Elephant Robot:  There's that cheeky moment when one of the marketing people says flippantly, "Oh, what do you mean, his soul?"  It's one of those moments that was sort of... I don't know, I didn't dislike it?  But it was a bit on the nose, as far as what you're talking about.

MM:  Yeah, certainly more so than other things.  But they hit that beat and then dropped it and left it aside.  They didn't labor on the point.

ER:  Yeah.

MM:  And they never really came back to it.  The discussion points they dwelled on were definitely the drones.  That was the bigger issue they were talking about.

ER:  Okay, so going back to this "dualist" thing, body versus mind.  What do you think the film says about that?  Or do you think it just asks questions without  making a conclusion?

MM:  You know, weirdly enough it makes me think of Star Trek:  First Contact when
Data has the fleshy arm for a bit.

ER:  Just a piece of it.

MM:  Yeah, just a weird piece of his arm, where they didn't put makeup on Brent Spiner that day.

ER:  And his face too.

MM:  Yeah, which Gotye used the design of for his video.

ER:  I liked that the shape on his face was exactly that of the Star Trek logo.

MM:  "See what we did there?"

ER:  Right.

MM:  Well anyway, in that one the Borg Queen tells him to just tear it off like it's a broken sensor.  Tear it off like it's nothing.  And Data can't because he loves it.  It's part of him.

ER:  Yes.

MM:  And I think there's the part for Murphy where he's struggling to understand himself in terms of his identity without a body.  He says "there's nothing left."  He wants to die.  You know, able bodied people don't really have to consider that on a regular basis, "what is our life like without our physicality?"  I thought about it with Roger Ebert.  He lost his jaw and his ability to speak, this basic human component of conveying information.  And how did he continue to communicate?  And continue to be human?  His computer allowed him to do that.

ER:  He became RoboCritic.

MM:  Right.

ER:  So you think this movie asks the basic question "what is it to be human."

MM:  Yes.  And I don't think the original did that.  I think this movie is asking can Murphy still be Murphy without body parts.

ER:  Well, we've certainly picked a heavy place to start, haven't we?

MM:  Haha.  Yes.

ER:  Tune in tomorrow to see where it goes from here!

Friday, February 28, 2014

Gird your loins

The Elephant Robot team was delayed in screening RoboCop.  But that delay has come to an end.

Well, we have something to say about this movie.  Actually, a lot.

So starting next Friday, we will bring you an epic weeklong conversation between Elephant Robot and Magnetic Monkey about the new film and the old film.

Gird your loins, and stay tuned!

Friday, February 21, 2014

Saved by the Bell's Zach Morris as Street Fighters' Ryu

Here at Elephant Robot, I'm known for getting a little fanboy-ish over Pete Holmes.

Well…I'm not sorry about that. The man's hilarious.

Also? He makes hilarious parody videos. As noted by his newest venture, "Street Fighter Red Tape: Ryu", co-starring Mark Paul-Goselaar as the eponymous Ryu who has a hard time describing the exact words he uses in some of his signature moves.

I hope this series keeps going…I really want to see Blanca. Click the video below to watch!

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy

Guardians of the Galaxy is going to be the most important comic book movie since Iron Man.  That's right.  IMPORTANT.  Why?  Because it is going to take a bunch of characters that nobody cares about and fewer people even know, and transform them into your favorite crew of galactic galavanters.  Still don't believe me?  Check out the first trailer below.

Be honest with yourself now. Before Robert Downey Jr.'s snarktacular performance as Iron Man, did you give a crap about Tony Stark? You did not. Six years ago, John Favreau revitalized the comic book movie, showing viewers (and studios) that it was possible for a comic book film to straddle the line between comedy and drama, while bending genres between comedy, action, and sci-fi.

James Gunn's upcoming film is going to revitalize the genre for the next six years, showing viewers (and again, and more importantly, studios) that there's a lot to be offered on the far fringe away from those characters with the iconic logos on their chests.

Marvel remains, indeed, the house of ideas.

Friday, February 14, 2014

Love/Hate/Try Friday

Love it:  Game of Thrones Season 4 fifteen minute preview.
Surely this is the season Tyrion will create giant robots.

Hate it:  Legendary funnyman Sid Caesar passes away.
Rest in peace, you comedic genius.

Try it:  The Robocop remake.
The Elephant Robot team will be seeing it Sunday.  Expect a report early next week.