Just because.

I did in fact get around to listening to the audiobook version of Star Trek: Movie Tie-In (I do love that title so), in which Zachary Quinto narrates Allan Dean Foster's valiant attempt at imposing narrative sense on that story.

It would be fascinating to know what version of the script Foster was working from, because there are differences that are kind of intriguing. For example, although it's touched on only very lightly, you do get the sense of the utter wrongness of the Spock/Uhura relationship -- not wrong because it violates the canons or anything like that, but wrong because he's a Starfleet instructor and she's his best student. For all that Starfleet may be different from our current military standards, he was taking an enormous, and enormously stupid, risk, all for troo luuuuv. The film manages to gloss this by eliding the fact that he's a serving officer, and not some sort of very accomplished student who gets to wear a blue shirt just because. (Aided in this elision by the fact that Quinto just isn't much older, if at all, than everyone else.) One of the strong improvements in the novel -- and honestly, I don't know why they didn't put this in the film -- is that instead of getting held up, and therefore saved, because Sulu forgot to take off the parking brake, Enterprise stops and the bridge crew has a discussion in which they realize that the planetary distress call from Vulcan is a fake -- after all, it would have to be, since the attack on the planet itself didn't start until after Enterprise came into the Vulcan system, right? They try to broadcast to the other ships in the fleet, but it's too late. (Interestingly, one of the finer side points in the novel that might get missed is how Kirk's other future gets foreclosed by the attack -- in TOS, he's supposed to have served on Farragut before going to Enterprise, but Farragut is one of the ships destroyed at Vulcan.)

The novel's got a few deliberate call-backs to other Trek moments. For example, in the final climactic battle, instead of taking place somewhere outside the solar system, everything happens next to Titan, allowing Enterprise to rise out of the mists behind Narada, much as in another Trek film. (That said, I think the film changes were better there; however improbable, Sulu -- one assumes -- shooting all of Narada's missiles down like that was just cool. Also, having a black hole open just above the ecliptic around Saturn, when a much smaller black hole swallowed and destroyed Vulcan, would probably have been just a teensy bit too much bad science for the average Trek fan to take.)

There are a couple of small moments here and there that aren't quite what one would expect. The one disappointing moment in the entire thing comes early on, as Quinto is settling into his reading style; when he says "Live long and prosper" to the Vulcan Science Academy board, he just ... says it. Mind, he was somewhat hampered by the surrounding text which specifically emphasizes how deliberately emotionless he is when he says that, but still, I was hoping for a really good "Live long and prosper, [bitch]," and it's just not there. There are also the moments where he puts on his Winona Ryder, which are just ... weird. I mean ... weird. He tries this falsetto-ish voice that just doesn't work at all. His Uhura is much more successful.

Overall, definitely a worthwhile adjunct to the film. Though I still suspect that reading Star Trek: Countdown would be slightly more helpful in making sense of Nero, at least.

A few random links:

Star Trek: The Abridged Script | The Editing Room
The money quote from the above: "BLACK HOLES MAKE EVERYTHING POSSIBLE!"

Oddly enough, despite being specifically inspired by Editing Room's style and format, Bad Transcript's version of the movie is far more interesting. Aside from the money quote, of course. And this is maybe even better.

Interviews with Orci and Kurzman, the scriptwriters:
Part 1
Part 2
A few things become blindingly obvious as you read through these:
(1) They were not prepared for the obsessiveness of the average Trek fan, let alone the seriously obsessive fanboys. Their befuddlement at certain moments is just ... charming, really. Unintentionally, of course. But really, someone should have warned them.
(2) By scrupulously avoiding a great deal of the previous 69 episodes and 10 films, they managed to be completely unaware, for a very long time, of the fact that Trek had cobbled together a surprisingly coherent view of time (as long as you ignore the end of Voyager and, it seems, Enterprise) -- that there is One True Timeline, and if someone meddles in it, you have to go and re-meddle to make it go back the way it was supposed to. While this may be forgiveable for the youngsters, it makes it more than mildly baffling that Spock doesn't say to young Kirk and friends, "So, what say we take a slingshot trip around Vulcan's sun, warn everyone what's about to happen so that they can just shoot down Nero's lightly protected drill with all the spacecraft that Vulcan, as the oldest spacefaring culture in the Federation, should have just lying around, and prevent Vulcan from getting all crunched in the first place? Hey, maybe we could even slingshot into the future, save Romulus, and prevent Nero from going bonkers in the first place! Howzabout that?" After all, he's done it at least three times himself.

In any event, they are very clear that the TNG/DS9/Voyager timeline continues, and they'd rather like to see a new TNG film. It seems highly unlikely -- I cannot imagine Paramount et al deciding that they would like to simultaneously juggle two different continuities on film, thank you VERY much, especially given that the last TNG film only just made back its production budget domestically, whereas the reboot has been wildly profitable, even against a much increased production budget. Paramount is likely to just invest in the current timeline and explore the changes that have been made possible. (Does Kirk have to go back and fail to rescue Edith Keeler again? Do they need to go back and get another couple whales, or did Narada maybe kinda accidentally blow up that probe for them? Just how much is Spock Prime going to tell them, or not tell them? Inquiring minds want to know!) I do wonder if the still robust book publishing program for TOS/TNG will be allowed to continue, or if they'll shut that off in favor of only working within the reboot universe.

(Purely a sidenote: everyone keeps calling it the reboot, which keeps making me want to shout "ReBoot!" Which will, of course, be meaningless to just about everyone, so here, have a teeny bit of context.)
Which is to say that, being as I was up to my limit in monthly credits on Audible, I had to blow a few on something within the next few days or lose some credits, so I decided to use one on the wonderfully named Star Trek Movie Tie-In. Adapted by Alan Dean Foster -- because that's just what he does -- and narrated by Zachary Quinto, who starts out being a mite ponderous but settles down quickly. (He even does an "Amanda Grayson" voice. Sort of. You can hear it in the sample attached to the book record. It also contains a very interesting, "Wait, Sarek said what now?" moment, which makes sense after you've seen the film, but which would be boggling if you read/heard it beforehand.) I'm now really curious as to how much of the film got cut out; it's hard to tell from a novelization, of course, but so far it sounds like possibly the early section of the movie was supposed to have a bit more in the way of parallel structure between Kirk's and Spock's early lives than it actually wound up with.

Also, listening as Foster either tries to make the bad science work, or tap-dances frantically past and hopes you don't notice is kind of hysterical. The Super Supernova continues to go completely unexplained in any way that makes sense -- Foster initially presents it as though it were a normal supernova, ending in a massive expulsion of matter and a neutron star, which means that it absolutely cannot do what it winds up doing. (One thing I'm seeing here and there on the web is that people are assuming that it was the Romulus star that went supernova, and that wasn't the case, according to the prequel Star Trek: Countdown; it was a star outside and a fairly hefty distance away from the Romulan system that went nova, and that, as it ate the planets and stars nearby, quickly acquired spectacular mass and eventually ate the Romulus star and system from the outside. But I digress. I think.)

And found elsewhere: Bad Transcript: Star Trek (2009), in which the plot holes and bad science are relentlessly exposed. Including some that I hadn't even noticed were plot holes and bad science. The movie moves so fast that you don't have time to think, "Hey, why didn't they do That, anyway?" until after it's over. (Seriously, that thing he mentions near the end, with the photon torpedoes. Even if it didn't work -- it's not like they had the foggiest idea where Narada's engine room even was -- it would have slowed them down a bit. That said, it's worth noting that in the above linked Star Trek Movie Tie-In, Foster attempts to address some of the plot holes noted in Bad Transcript. For instance, the thing about why the "slightly damaged Romulan ship" isn't firing on the escape pods is specifically addressed -- viz, George Kirk knew what he was doing and died yet more nobly and awesomely than ere we knew.)

And purely a side note, but something I've always wondered: what person who was actually educated enough to know who he was would name anybody after Tiberius, of all possible people? (I don't mean our Kirk himself, but his grandfather, whose name he inherited.) Tiberius may have been a good general, and he may have left the Roman state solvent and in a very good military position -- something the emperors typically didn't do -- but he was loathed and despised at the end of his life, and he seems to have been a perfectly dreadful ruler after Germanicus died. It's not at all clear that he lived the dissolute life he's rumored to have lived when he withdrew to Capri ... but people think he did, which is perhaps just as important.
iainpj: man's head with glasses (avatar1)
( May. 21st, 2009 01:19 pm)
Which is to say, I finally got around to seeing the movie.

Yes, on the night of the AI finale. What, you think I'm going to stay in and watch that bloated thing when I can just Tivo it, jump to the end, find out who won, and be done with it? Oh no no no.



Anyway, here's a bit of discussion. )
How ... interestingly unexpected.

New gig for 'Mountain' man - Entertainment News, Film News, Media - Variety:
Looking to match its "Race to Witch Mountain" director Andy Fickman with another family adventure film, Walt Disney Studios has attached him to helm "Monster Attack Network." Scott Elder and Josh Harmon have been hired to adapt the AIT/Planet Lar graphic novel, which the studio bought last summer. The 2007 graphic novel focuses on a team of first-responders who guard the citizens of Lapuatu, a Pacific island that would be a paradise except for frequent attacks by giant monsters that rise from the sea. Marc Bernardin and Adam Freeman wrote the graphic novel, illustrated by Nima Sorat.

Jason Netter is producing through his Kickstart banner. Disney views the film as a visual effects-heavy tentpole. built around an elite government agency's resolve to protect America's coasts from huge, rampaging monsters....

"Visual effects heavy" certainly makes sense. After all, how else are you going to work all the monsters in? And Monster Attack Network is an elite government agency. But ... "America's coasts"? Where did that come from? Lapuatu is supposed to be a Pacific island nation somewhere. I'm assuming that the story location was changed because faking Los Angeles/New York is simply far easier and has a bit more resonance with the audience than evoking the Unnamed Island theme from so many monster movies. (Plus, most of them end up with Tokyo getting stomped anyway.) I'm also guessing that this means that the royalist angle is right out; after all, unless the history gets considerably more alternative than one might expect, we don't have a lot of royalty thick on the ground here. Not ours, anyway.

I wonder how many of the story elements, aside from the location, will be changed. I'm betting that this being Disney means that Zeke the big black gay guy, while possibly being still big and black, is no longer gay. Which ... well, it's not as though it meant that much to the storyline anyway. But still. I also suspect that the romantic/sexual aspect of the story is going to be gutted or at least dramatically transformed, because "family adventure film" does not precisely equal a scene where characters have sex to get all that uncomfortable sexual tension out of the way in the first ten minutes of the film. None of this means that it'll be a bad film; just that it will be a very different story than the one in the book. (The fact that people have been complaining that there's no actual story in "Race to Witch Mountain", that it's a lot of running around and not much else, that would concern me.)

I have to admit, I'm now very curious as to how the casting and the rest of the story might change, or not, as the case may be.
Jack White ft. Alicia Keys - Another Way To Die - Official Music Video, Quantum of Solace

Yeah ....

OK, look. I've reluctantly come to terms with the idea that, no matter how profoundly radio rejects these themes recently, the Broccolis and whoever else is involved with producing Bond movies will keep trying to get music that's going to both be popular and sound like "Bond", despite the fact that the two types of music have diverged so widely in recent years. But seriously, this is kind of a hopeless mess. It's trying to be jazzy, it's trying to be Bond, it's trying to be hard rock, it's trying to be soulful, and it tries itself into a musical muddle. I get the impression that they really really don't want to go the way of "Die Another Day", which was popular but did not remotely sound like a Bond song -- apparently Madonna has enough clout to keep the Broccolis from seriously messing with her music, and honestly, I'm not sure what you could do to that to make it sound more Bond-like without destroying it. It has been widely reviled as the worst of the Bond themes; despite not being a dreadful song on its own, it does sound wrong for Bond.

What they really need to do is to make the commitment to moving to a completely different sound for the Bond themes. A very hard, edgy rock song would actually be entirely in character for Craig's Bond, who has a lot more ragged, damaged edges showing than any Bond to date. Dump the violins and the rest of the orchestra, and just go with the rock sound.

I have to admit, I do wonder what would have happened had Amy Winehouse not drugged herself out of the theme song. She certainly couldn't have carried off this song; I'm sure that whatever she was going to do would have been much more period-sounding and backward looking, which probably really isn't the direction they should be looking, musically speaking.

All that said, I would like to point out the following: the title of the new song would be a WAY better title for the film than "Quantum of Solace". I get that it's a title actually associated with the Bond short stories, I understand that they wanted to maintain the connection. Nonetheless. Title sucks, and not in the happy fun way, neither.
virgin de-and-re-virginized
:: Liquid Comics ::: Liquid Comics has completed the management buyout of Virgin Comics led by the founding management team of Gotham Chopra, Sharad Devarajan and Suresh Seetharaman. Liquid Comics will continue to develop innovative digital, film, animation, and gaming projects for its original character, stories and other properties.

Commenting on the change, Sharad Devarajan said, "Virgin Group has been a fantastic partner with whom to work and together we have established a strong foundation of great character properties and media partnerships.

We remain fully committed to continuing our mission to provide a home for innovative creators and storytellers across the world."

It looks like this means that many, if possibly not most, of Virgin's titles will continue. The front page of the new Liquid Comics site -- which is redirected from virgincomics.com -- contains the first issue of Devi, broken up in a very strange way. The question is, how will Liquid work without Virgin's backing? Who owns the various movie and television coproductions, Liquid or Virgin itself? Will they focus on making good comix instead of focusing so strongly on Hollywood-ready properties? And what's going to happen with the Stan Lee superhero universe that he was going to create for Virgin? Is that still alive? Will they work harder with either the direct market or the book market to get their stuff where people can see it? One of their biggest problems is that they simply got no push at all in the direct market, so a different take on superheroes fell largely on deaf ears. (NB: According to his quarterly Word Balloon interview [FIVE HOURS! FIVE!], apparently Virgin made Marvel's Brian Michael Bendis an offer to work on the Stan Lee project that he was seriously considering. I can't imagine that they can afford to throw mind-numbing amounts of money at him this time around, and in any event, he declined the first time because of all of his other existing work.)

Actually, the real question is: will there be more Devi? I really don't care about the rest of it, I just want her back. (...OK, I care about the rest of it; just not anywhere near as much.)

m. night reconsidering: In other world news, M. Night Shyamalan is considering making Unbreakable 2. Which ... hmm. On the one hand, I kind of think it was the last good movie he made, although it did end on a serious downbeat that limited who would see it. Rightly or wrongly, people generally don't like their superhero movies to end in so dark a manner -- although that said, the end of the original Superman II is awfully bittersweet, and The Dark Knight is only slightly lighter than Unbreakable (although containing more actual corpses). It also had some pacing issues here and there, although I'd say that it's one of the rare movies that doesn't kick you out of the right headspace if you wind up thinking a little about what's going on as it happens. I do think, unless he's going to posit that the main character went into hibernation over the past decade, that Bruce Willis might be a shade long in the tooth to return to the role; that said, given the amount of time that's passed, it would be interesting to see if maybe what happened with the character David Dunn is genetic, and gets passed on down to his son. After all David didn't come into his powers in any major way until he was in his 30s; maybe his son wouldn't come into his until his 20s or some such. And hey! in true supervillain fashion, maybe Samuel L. Jackson's Elijah could escape from prison to plague Dunn from his wheelchair! (And note: if M. Night does decide to make a sequel, Samuel L. is ready to go.)

minx unminxed: According to CBR, DC has pulled the plug on Minx, their imprint aimed primarily at teenaged girls. Some of the remaining titles will still be published, some won't, some won't be published as Minx titles if they're published at all. (I wonder if they'll move them to CMX?) Apparently, no matter how hard they tried, they couldn't get the titles to the manga shelves in regular bookstores. Not surprising, I suppose; with a recession chopping off people's discretionary spending, and with Borders in acute distress -- and Borders was the single largest sale point for manga in this country -- I can't imagine that anyone would have done well. (That said, while the first wave of titles was good, there seemed to be a real drop-off in quality with the second wave. Mileage varies, of course, but I didn't like the second year titles anywhere near as much as the first, with the exception of New York Four by Brian Wood and Ryan Kelly.

What amuses me is that they're possibly considering moving some of the titles to Vertigo, based on the prior success of My Faith in Frankie by Mike Carey. The thing that struck me at the time was that My Faith in Frankie was truly, sincerely, desperately NOT a Vertigo title. It was too light, it was clearly -- except for the ending -- aimed at a younger audience than Vertigo's normal one. Maybe that'll work this time; they certainly won't have problems getting it into regular comics stores, and they've got some inroads into the bookstore markets for the Vertigo and DC labels.


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