Midnight Ramblings XIX

Chaos in Print

NOTE: I have this tendency to ramble and it generally manifests itself in long drawn out rambling e-mails to my friends until one day when I thought “hey, why don’t I format this ramblings into columns?” and so I did that but I still e-mail my friends and they still find it annoying but they love me so because I annoy them in that nice kind of way and…oh, I’m rambling again.

Hey Neelix!

I just watched A&E’s Biography on Tim Burton, and man oh man, I love that director more now than I ever did. In a hero worship way, of course. What stunned me was who all they talked to. Sure, they talked to the requisite people associated with Tim Burton: Danny Elfman, Michael Keaton, Paul Reubens, and long-time girlfriend Lisa Marie. But, they also talked to some of his old fellow Disney animators, like Little Mermaid and Hercules co-directors John Musker and Ron Clemmens. What amazed me the most, though, was they talked to his old college classmate, fellow former Disney animator, and director of Toy Story, John Lassetter! It’s weird, mainly because since they have two vastly different storytelling styles, you don’t think that they’d be friends. But they are. Very cool. And John Lassetter had some of the best stories, too. “The most amazing thing I’ve ever seen was when Tim first showed me his sketchbook. Each page was just so…alive.” “When Tim first told me he was doing Batman, I thought (eyes go wide, jaw drops), ‘WOW! HE MADE IT!'” “When I first saw Tim doing an interview in those dark sunglasses, I knew right away that he had created a character. He doesn’t do interviews as Tim Burton. He does it as Tim the Director.”

And the Disney animators also had some good stories. I knew that Tim Burton worked on The Fox and the Hound. I knew that he had done a lot of the conceptual art for The Black Cauldron. What I DIDN’T know was that all his conceptual art for The Black Cauldron was rejected because it was too Tim Burton-style and not Disney-style. Tim Burton was very unfulfilled with his work at Disney. The animators would tell stories about how Tim would hide under his desk and spend hours standing in the closet. “We’d go to the closet, open it up and say, ‘Hey Tim, you OK?’ and he’d just stare at us.” Man, I used to do that in junior high when an oral presentation didn’t go well. Tim later started focusing his creative energy into doing no-budget short films on video cameras with his friends during weekends.

And I finally got to the bottom of something! I had known for a long time now that, around the time Nightmare Before Christmas came out, Tim Burton and Danny Elfman had a huge fight and didn’t speak to each other for about a year and a half. That’s why Ed Wood is the only Tim Burton film without music by Danny Elfman. What happened? Well, Tim had worked for seven years straight. He was nearing a burnout. Then, he met his long-time girlfriend Lisa Marie, and he had trouble communicating that he was in love and wanted to spend more time with her. So, rather than say to his friends, “I’m in love and I want to be with my girlfriend,” he got testy. Elfman’s brief comment about the fight? “Tim and I are like brothers. But, we’re brothers from a dysfunctional family.”

What better way to follow up the Tim Burton Biography than by watching the “the making of” special for his latest movie: Planet of the Apes? When I read the blurb about the special in TV Guide, they said that, among those interviewed, were Trey Parker and Matt Stone. And I got to thinking, “Now what would these two have to do with Planet of the Apes?” So, in the special, they talk to a whole bunch of celebrities about Planet of the Apes. In this montage, they talk to Parker and Stone. Turns out that their band, DVDA, wrote a song about Planet of the Apes. It’s sung from the point of view of Charlton Heston’s character, and pretty much recounts the plot of the first film. But what they did in this special was, they took this song, and used it as the musical backing to a whole bunch of clips featuring Planet of the Apes jokes and references in various movies and TV shows! I just loved the scenes from The Simpsons, where Homer finally clues in on the ending during a NASA press conference:

Homer>> I have no problem with going into space. As long as they don’t send us to that horrible Planet of the Apes!
(various other clips.)
Homer>> Wait a minute. Half-buried Statue of Liberty…THAT WAS OUR PLANET!
(various other clips.)
(cut to Charlton Heston doing the same at the end of the first film.)

And then, at the end of this montage, we go back to Trey and Matt: “Oh yeah, we’re close friends with Tim. We’re sure he’ll stick it on the soundtrack. We hope he’ll stick it on the soundtrack.” Cut to Tim Burton: “You’re kidding, right?”

Man, I’ve got to hurry up and see Planet of the Apes before the media blows the new twist ending. You know what other big summer blockbuster I still want to see? Jurassic Park 3. Actually, I was reading an interview with Stan Winston online a few weeks ago. You know Stan Winston, right? His animatronics shop built the animatronic dinosaurs in all the Jurassic Park films. And what Winston does in his spare time is…cool. Ya know those TV shows that are currently on with 2 robots slugging it out? This takes it to the extreme. At the end of filming Jurassic Park 3, Stan Winston and his crew of puppeteers had the animatronic T-Rex and the animatronic Spinosaurus slug it out. The winner? The Spinosaurus, which ripped off the T-Rex’s head. Said Winston, “The head was lying there on the ground, with all this oil spurting out.” And (get this), the director of Jurassic Park 3 filmed the whole thing! Can we say “DVD bonus material?”

Speaking of DVDs, guess what’s getting the 2-disc special edition treatment? Tron. Yes, it’s already out in a bare bones basic edition, but Disney is preparing an all new, 2-disc super special edition for the film’s 20th anniversary! Expect the standard accouterments like a director’s running commentary, cut scenes, and an all new documentary on the making of the film. Plus, since it was the first film to feature computer generated FX, it’ll have a brand-new documentary about the history of computer animation. What’s getting most geeks excited, though, is the storyboard-to-film comparison of the light cycle chase. It’ll hit store shelves in January.

While I’m talking about DVD’s, let me boast of my latest acquisition. I got the big boxed set of the Die Hard movies. I watched Die Hard for the first time in years last night. Know what? It wasn’t as “big” as I remember. I’m thinking that maybe, for the sequels and rip-offs that followed, they just kept making the formula bigger and bigger, now making the original pale somewhat. But it was still good. But, following with the “bigger is better” logic that’s been incorporated into my personality, I guess I’m going to have to say #3 is my favorite.

WOO!! I just found out that Pokémon 3 comes out on DVD on Aug. 21! What’s really weird, though, is among the bonus features is the trailer for Pokémon 4. I thought #3 bombed, thus eliminating the chances for #4. Oh, well. I guess the straight-to-video market always needs product. And how else are they going to sell all those action figures?

Everyone’s getting in on the action figure game market now. I knew that when I first heard about the Bionicles. What’s a Bionicle? Well, you see, even Lego’s getting in on the action figure game now. The Bionicles are Lego’s premiere action figure line. The heroes are a group of funky Earth spirits that you build yourself out of Technic Lego. They’re in stores now! The villains, a group of funky Technic Lego demons, comes out this fall. Lego’s got a whole back story to these guys, with the requisite cartoons and video games in the works.

But besides old stalwarts like Lego getting in on the action figure game, everyone and their brothers are forming toy companies. Stan Winston has now formed his own toy company. But, rather than making action figures of the classic animatronic characters his company has made over the last 25 years or so, they are going to be ALL NEW creatures. Said Winston, “These are going to be all new creations from the people who designed Predator and the Terminator and the Jurassic Park dinosaurs. Rather than buying a copy, it’ll be the original.” And, each figure will come with a CD-ROM, telling you all the vital stats on this creature. How cool is that?

But enough of toys! What would one of these ramblings be without some mention of Star Trek? I’m doing more reading on Enterprise, and you gotta love how people look for loopholes. See, in Gene Roddenberry’s original vision of Star Trek, he had one simple mandate: it takes place far enough in the future where humanity has evolved to a point where only its good qualities remain. There is no racism, sexism, homophobia, war, poverty. The human race has become good. Then, Rick Berman comes along. He says, “Yeah, that’s good and all, but if the crew all likes each other because they are so evolved, you eliminate tension between the crew members, and thus lose a lot of dramatic possibilities.” So, all of Berman’s shows have been, “How can we get the crew to not like each other, but still stay true to the original vision?” For his first attempt, he said, “Let’s put it at a space station, with hundreds of different alien races, some hostile. That should do it.” Deep Space Nine had some mild success with this. For his second attempt, he said, “Let’s create this rebel faction in the Federation, and then have them and the Federation be forced to work together.” That was Voyager, and the whole Federation/Maquis conflicts tended to fade away in the second season. Now, we’ve got Enterprise, where they’ve said, “This time, let’s put it not so far in the future. Let’s set it where humanity hasn’t evolved to that point yet.”

This is starting to become evident as I read more about our new captain, Jonathon Archer. It seems that Archer doesn’t like Vulcans very much. He dismisses them as smug and suffering from a superiority complex. Archer’s distaste of Vulcans comes from the fact that he believes that Earth (and, more specifically, his father) could have made great advancements in warp technology if the Vulcans had shared their technology with Earth, rather than being so huffy about their “prime directive.” So, of course, there’s a Vulcan on his ship. A very sexy Vulcan. Or, at least, that’s the impression, seeing as to how the only piece of work I can find involving this actress is a Maxim pictorial.

And, that’s all for now. Well, maybe one last thing. At the recent San Diego Comic Con, the audience was treated to the first ever clip from Spider-Man! Just for you, here’s a description of that clip. We’re at a New York City science lab, where Peter Parker and his class are on a field trip. Peter and fellow geek loner, Harry Osborn, are hanging at the back, and Peter tells Harry of his love for Mary Jane Watson. Harry asks what kind of lines Peter would use to dazzle Mary Jane, so Peter tells him. Harry then goes and uses these lines on Mary Jane with great success, much to Peter’s dismay. So, the field trip continues, and they soon come to the insect room. Here, the tour guide tells the class that they are doing experiments on spiders involving radiation. As Peter gets close to one of the cages to snap some pictures for the school paper, he notices that one spider seems to be missing. The tour guide says that it’s probably been taken to another lab for experimentation. As the tour wraps up, Peter’s love gets the better of him and he snaps a picture of Mary Jane. Mary Jane, feeling goofy in that way that teenagers are, begins to strike a number of fashion model poses for Peter, and Peter gladly begins using up his roll of film. As this foolishness goes on, we see the missing radioactive spider descend on a webline behind Peter. The spider lands on Peter’s arm and bites Peter! Peter shakes off the spider, and gets up. And that was the clip! Oh, and the spider was described as looking like a Black Widow, only the trademark red hourglass marking was replaced with markings in Spider-Man’s red and blue colour scheme.

And that’s all! Until next we ramble!


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