Godzilla always has been a strange beast. Born from the ashes and trauma of post-WWII Japan, it was a slumbering monster awakened by nuclear tests—a threat to Japan but also the reaction to that threat, and a metaphor both for the threat of nuclear warfare and for national pain.
Over the years, however, Godzilla changed dramatically, transforming first from menace to savior, and later to mascot and ultimately cinematic legend. Now, after we’ve almost forgotten the extremely unfortunate 1998 attempt, director Gareth Edwards finally has brought a remake of the classic Japanese film to American shores. And while it certainly is a respectful film, one deeply aware of the history of its franchise, it’s not a particularly interesting one.
SAN DIEGO — The convention floor opened on Wednesday at 6 p.m., but for one of Comic-Con’s most fascinating tribes of fans, the celebration started in earnest a few hours later, outside in the warm night, on a stretch of sidewalk a half mile north in San Diego’s Gaslamp District. There, slowly, the Guild of Extras began to assemble— at first just five, clustered in a knot around a lamppost, and then three or four more, and then 10 more from inside the building until the sidewalk was thick with their talk and embraces. There were men and women in roughly equal numbers, predominantly in their twenties and thirties, but a few were much older. Some of them wore the group’s official jacket: a sharply cut zip-up number with a whimsical crest of a googly-eyed squid, embroidered on the left breast.
Who were these people? The first thing you need to understand about the Guild of Extras is that they’re friends–very close friends, by any fair definition of that phrase. There are 182 of them by the most recent count, and they stay in touch mostly through a private Facebook group. But they meet up in person whenever they can, and Comic-Con is a special time when a large portion of them can reconnect: “It’s like the rest of the year is just a waiting period,” one of them tells me.
The second thing to know about the Guild of Extras is that (per their name) they are extras, in the Hollywood sense of the word. But almost none of them are trying to make it as actors or actresses. They’re scientists, students, healthcare workers, and so on, who appear as background characters on web series, for free. They do it to support creators whose work they admire, but also for another chance to hang out together once again.
It’s only third, after pondering those other two points, that you should think of them as fans — though fans they most certainly are. The Guild of Extras all met while serving as extras on The Guild, a web comedy about World of Warcraft-style gamers that ran six “seasons” online and helped launch its creator and star, Felicia Day, into the middle echelon of nerd celebrities. Over the remainder of Comic-Con, the self-named “Guildies” used Day-affiliated events–her meet-and-greets and signings, the panel parties hosted by her YouTube channel, Geek & Sundry–as gathering points for their own get-togethers.
There’s been a lot of talk about Pacific Rim. Depending on whom you ask, it’s a shallow rock-’em-sock-’em “extended 3D episode of Mighty Morphin Power Rangers on very expensive acid.” It’s an imminent flop that could end up sinking faster than Battleship. It’s a gripping emotional thrill complete with rich imaginative worlds unlike any ever seen before. It’s tracking poorly. It’s got a killer soundtrack. It’s possible Kanye West could save it from itself!
Here’s our advice: Just shut up and go see it, preferably on the largest screen imaginable.
The Man of Steel movie hits theaters today, the latest cinematic reimagining of the iconic character of Superman. And while the “S” logo is recognizable the world over, some people say that the man of steel isn’t the easiest character to identify with, either because he’s too much of a “Boy Scout” with an antiquated moral code, or because his omnipotence and alien origin make him less relatable compared to other superheroes who are more grounded in reality.
But after taking a deeper look into Superman’s psyche, we beg to differ. Sure, he’s from another planet and can fly, shoot laser beams from his eyes, and see through unleaded objects. But, if you look beneath the “S” on his chest from a psychological perspective, you’ll see that Superman is more human than superhuman, with the same sort of conflicts, crises and identity issues as the rest of us.
Netflix is reaching out to all the “families” butting up against its current two-simultaneous-streams limit with a plan that shows the streaming service understands how viewers actually want to use it. It knows we want to share, and that in fact sharing can be good for Netflix too.
In today’s first-quarter earnings letter (.pdf), Netflix announced a $12-a-month plan that doubles the current limit of two simultaneous video streams to four simultaneous feeds plan. Netflix says that the plan best serves large families that have butted up against the two simultaneous-stream limit. It also says that it expects less than one-percent of members to take advantage of the plan.
“The core focus is on the immediate family. We don’t think there’s much going on with sharing password with a marginal acquaintance,” said David Wells, Netflix CFO during the earnings call.
Well played, HBO. Just as Jurassic Park 3D hits theaters, the premium cable channel announced a new movie titled Bone Wars, a period comedy based on the rivalry between two nineteenth-century paleontologists. If an HBO comedy about battlin’ dino-scientists isn’t enough to pique your interest, then just wait until you hear who’s playing the paleontologists: Steve Carell and James Gandolfini, who will also produce the film.
When Star Wars was released in May of 1977, it took another six months for it to reach Finland. The historic Savoy theater in downtown Helsinki, where the film premiered, is now closed, but it’s forever associated with George Lucas’ epic. Finnish illustrator and designer Vesa Lehtimäki was 10 years old when he saw it on the Savoy’s big screen.
“Two of the great moments of my childhood were the first two original Star Wars movies,” says Lehtimäki. “As a kid I wanted to become a movie director. I made some Super 8 movies but it did not work out that well.”
Lehtimäki’s fanboy nostalgia for the franchise of all franchises, in combination with an itch to create his own worlds, led him to conceive Lego On Hoth, a make-believe series of photo-vignettes in which he describes the downtime, hijinks and rigamarole in the daily lives of Imperial and Rebel forces.
“With my photography, I’m revisiting an unfulfilled career path, I guess. With the attached little stories my photos are like tiny one-frame movie scenes,” he says. “And I get to direct Star Wars!”
See more @ Raw File!
How do they do it? The tribute poster wizards at the Mondo Gallery seem to have a special gift for condensing the strangeness, beauty and excitement of iconic movies into graphics that capture their essence — and become works of art in their own right.
Poster geeks looking for answers can glimpse a behind-the-scenes peek at the creative process at Mondo in the new aptly titled exhibition In Progress, which opened last weekend and tuns through February 23 at the Mondo Gallery in Austin, Texas. The show features mind-melting sketches, concepts and line art prepped by design auteurs including Martin Ansin, Ken Taylor, Kevin Tong, Jay Shaw and Tom Whalen en route to final products celebrating Creature From the Black Lagoon, Planet of the Apes, Pan’s Labyrinth, Iron Giant and other cult classics.
See more EXCLUSIVE movie posters from Mondo’s new gallery show over @ Underwire!
It’s official: J.J. Abrams will be the director of the upcoming Star Wars: Episode VII film.
As rumored earlier in the week, Abrams will be taking over the reins for the newest installment of the Star Wars film sequel, which was announced in late 2012 after Disney’s $4 billion acquisition of the sci-fi franchise.
“It’s very exciting to have J.J. aboard leading the charge as we set off to make a new Star Wars movie,” said producer Kathleen Kennedy in a press release Jan. 25. “J.J. is the perfect director to helm this. Beyond having such great instincts as a filmmaker, he has an intuitive understanding of this franchise. He understands the essence of the Star Wars experience, and will bring that talent to create an unforgettable motion picture.”
Read more @ Underwire!