Saturday, February 26, 2011

Dear Charlie:

Expounding on my thoughts on The Last Airbender, I can't help but think that it might be worth a reboot.

You know how Hollywood is these days. They put out a Superman movie, it bombs even when it makes a ton, and they remake it with a different cast and director and writers and make another ton. Ditto Hulk. Ditto everything.

So... why not TLA? Why not see what an action director can do with it?

Can't you just see the fight choreography of, say, Woo-Ping or John Woo or Tom Dey or Corey Yuen combined with the CGI awesomeness of Industrial Light & Magic and the writing genius of, heck, any of a dozen action-savvy screenwriters? People who know how to tell a story with or without effects and without just making shit up because they can't figure out how to get from one place to another quickly?

I think that's my problem. No offense to M. Night, but he's more a character drama kind of guy. That's great if you have six hours of film to spend, but not if you have to tell the same story in a buck thirty. Plus, he's just not as up on hitting the action beats. When Aang sticks a move, THAT'S when the CGI air strike should happen. Not a split second before or after.

I mean, that's just common sense.

I know, I know. Part of that is cast inexperience. These kids were, for the most part, complete unknowns. It takes more than a few weeks in the harnesses to make that movement look natural. I get that.

But seriously.

Get an action crew on this beast, and we'd have ourselves an anime movie.

Oh, and remake that godawful DragonBall: Evolution while you're at it. Good God. It's the badness standard by which I now judge all badness.

Oh! And forget all the 3D, for cryin out loud!

Monday, February 21, 2011

Dear Charlie:

Much as I hate to displace the picture of the awesomeness of Big Bad George, I feel it's time for a movie review. I haven't done one in a dog's years (namely because I haven't rented a movie since Blockbuster closed and have only been to the theater once in the last year), but I just signed up at Family Video, so I figured I'd do a little renty-renty and maybe catch up on movies I've missed in theater this year.

Starting with The Last Airbender. Oi.

Remember how annoyed I was with DragonBall: Evolution? Ugh. I'm not saying anime can't be made into live action; I just don't see the point. Make it CGI and keep the voice actors. Or at least try to get actors that look like the characters and coach them to sound similar.

And, for the love of the anime gods, please get a decent script that lives up to the spirit of the series and has catchy dialogue!

DBE didn't do that last. Or the first. Or really the second. Some of the actors weren't truly awful (Goku and Piccolo were as close as they could be with the pitifully weak script, as were Grampa Gohan and Yamcha), but for the most part, everything missed the mark. Might have been enjoyable to non-fans (or at least bearable), but it was just plain awful to anyone in the know.

Honestly, it's the same story with TLA.

I'll pass on accusations of "whiting" up the cast. Yeah, the anime had various races representing the different kingdoms, and yeah, they coulda found Inuits or at least Eskimos to play Katara and Sokka and key Water Tribe characters, but they at least had Asians for earth benders and... well... Middle Easterners?... for fire benders. I may not agree with their choices (even the creators said most of the world was supposed to be Asian), but at least they weren't as whitey-white as claimed in all the articles.

My problem with the cast is what they did to the script. Most of my enjoyment of the anime came from the quippiness of the dialogue. Sokka was a laugh riot (Sparky-Sparky Boom Man, anyone?), and Aang didn't spare the puns or the practical jokes. Heck, even Katara got in on the laugh action, though she tended to be the more mature of the group.

But in the movie, that's all gone. Oh, there are a few places where lines could have been mildly amusing... if they weren't delivered devoid of any personality. How can you have a water-bending misfire end up on Sokka without gaining even a chuckle? Well, they managed.

Sokka is completely humor-deprived. He looks a little like the one from the anime, but he certainly doesn't act like him. Aang tries to look cheery on occasion, but it comes across as so forced and stilted that it loses any joy the anime character took in everyday actions. Katara is lifeless. Instead of being the soul of the group, she's a set piece that moves and sometimes says stuff.

And Zuko? Just... no. Instead of being the tormented, driven, honor-searching and morally dubious upstart from the anime, he's just whiny. The only time I like him is as the Blue Spirit -- in other words, when he has no lines and is heavily cloaked and masked. He's Zuko when he's fighting faceless, but that's it.

And did I mention that there's no sense of humor at all?

Even Uncle Iroh is preachy instead of garroulously fatherly. I didn't hear him mention tea even once, though my attention may have wandered.

[Edited to add: My bad. He did say something about having tea when Zuko returned from rescuing Aang. Woo.]

The sad thing is that they managed to hit most of the high points of the anime's first season, but I suppose that in the rush to cram it all in and tell a logical story, they left out everything that made the anime so absorbing.

I mean, how can they leave out the Kyoshi warriors? They're crucial to the end of the trilogy and to Sokka's growth as a character. They even visited Kyoshi Island, for crying out loud.

And, no offense to Cliff Curtis, but he's no Fire Lord Ozai. Part of the reason the Fire Lord is so imposing in the anime is because he looks every inch nobility. Iroh, the rightful ruler, comes across as a bumbling fool, though his power is off the charts. Ozai, on the other hand, is coldly beautiful in the heat of his passionate rule, and every inch the perfection of an Asian male. I particularly like the long hair. Even silent, he is imposing. The Ozai in the film is simply there.

I dunno. Maybe my standards are too high. I wouldn't consider myself an anime fanatic, as much as I enjoy watching a new one every now and then. And I admit to wanting to see a truly well-done live action, just like any other moderate fan.

But with what's already been done, I sincerely doubt "well done" can be done. Oi.

Sad but true.

So, if you haven't already seen The Last Airbender, you aren't missing much. If curiosity impels you, as it did me, you'll find much familiar and probably be impressed with the graphic representations of Appa, the bending styles, and the Fire Nation's army. They're impressive and worth watching.

But if you're looking for the anime brought to life, you won't find it. At least, not the heart of it.

I mean, they can't even pronounce the names right. Sheesh.

Monday, February 14, 2011

Awesome Update:

As promised (and I always live up to my promises, though sometimes it takes a while), here's a picture of Big Bad George, freshly washed:



And here is the decal that just sets a seal on the awesomeness that is my Deadpool-colored car. Sweet!



Thanks, Jody!

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Dear Charlie:

I do weird things when I can't sleep. Heheh.

So I just saved myself money on multiple levels by... ahem... giving myself a haircut. It's been on my mind a while, but I usually only trust one person to cut my hair, and that person is Uwanna. She lives and does business in my home town, and she's the only stylist that hasn't maimed me in some way or another.

Don't get me wrong: I'm not a vain person. So long as my hair stays out of my face, I'm usually content. However, I don't want to be butched. I've said it once, and I'll say it again: with long hair, at least you can pull it back. With short hair, you're pretty much stuck with it in your face.

But Uwanna has found a happy medium for me several times. For a while there, I'd grow it out to over halfway down my back, then chop it off about shoulder-length (or maybe chin-length, if she could talk me into it). It's kind of a renewal thing. I don't like cutting my hair more than once a year (less if I can help it), but after two years or so, even though split ends are rare, the whole mess just needs to be cut down to size so it can grow out all healthy again.

I hadn't done that for quite some time.

So, it's been on my mind lately. For lots of reasons, most of which have to do with using less shampoo/conditioner and not having to color like a foot and a half of hair. Ugh.

So, tonight, as I was tossing and turning and trying to will myself to sleep, I got tired of shoving my hair out of the way with each turn and decided I needed to run down to Uwanna's and get it cut. Maybe not so much as usual, but at least six inches or so. But it does look cute short (though I hatehateHATE looking cute) and Mom always loves it shorter.....

Toss. Turn. Throw hair out of the way. Toss. Turn. Nearly strangle myself.

That's it.

So I lay there on my back, thinking of how many times Uwanna's cut my hair in a basic bob with a little flare so I can flip it if I straighten, and I'm pretty sure I remember all the steps. Maybe I'll just cut it myself. Save the trip (and the gas money, and the cost of the cut itself, and the tip I always give her).

Then again, I could stop by and see Sean and Kristi and the kids... and maybe stop by to give Aunt Jan a hug and see how the family's doing after RoyAnna's funeral... and get my new key made for Big Bad George....

But I can't do that until Tuesday. And I really can't afford anything extra right now. Anything at all.

I bet I can remember all the steps. And I wouldn't really mind cutting it shorter. Just at, say, shoulder-length. If I want, I can trim it a little higher then, right?

...

...

Yeah. I got up and cut it. And, wonder of all wonders, it actually looks pretty good. I don't have any product in it, and it's a little shaggy in the back, but I kinda like it that way. I have a cowlick back there and was afraid to cut it too straight, anyway, and it gives it a bit of interest.

Just above shoulder-length, but not chin-length. Long enough to have a ponytail (or pigtails, if I want a laugh). But oh, so much shorter.

Just over a foot, to be vaguely exact. Oi.

But it's so much lighter, and it'll be so much easier to deal with, and oh, will I save on shampoo and conditioner! Plus, no gas money for the trip (I use at least half a tank to get there and back, not counting any running around I do while down there), and no stylist cost/tip. And the next time I color (which should be like, um, yesterday), it won't be such an ordeal to get color all the way to the ends without slopping it everywhere. My arms never seem long enough.

And, best of all, my hair grows pretty fast, so it'll grow out again in no time.

The cycle has begun.