Archive for the Movies Category

Skull Island

Posted in Drawings, Gormenghast, Literature, Movies, Skull Island with tags , , , , , , , , , , on March 15, 2011 by gladlad

For the last year I’ve been, periodically, telling my kids bedtime stories loosely based on King Kong.  I love pretty much every version of that movie, and it affords a wealth of ideas for cliffhanger moments; a whole island full of whatever crazy monster and dinosaur you can think of.  My kids call them “Skull Island stories”, and at first they followed the original Kong storyline pretty well, albeit with names changed and far fewer gruesome deaths.  But after months of the fearless ship and film crews searching for Kong’s lair where the actress is stuck alternately fighting and bonding with the gorilla, it started getting a little stale.

There were no children in the original King Kong story, so I though it’d be fun to introduce a little tribal girl named Kita from the walled island city.  She knows about the island and how dangerous it is, but after a mishap involving her doll, she gets stuck outside the city wall and has to get back in somehow.  And on Skull Island, nothing’s ever easy.

I’ve been meaning to hone my brushwork, so I finally drew a picture from our stories.  Here’s Kita and her doll getting swept out to sea in the throes of a suprised python at the base of the city wall.  (Just before this, she was riding a giant ant through the jungle, which I think I’ll draw next.)

In other news, I have been absolutely LOVING the novel ‘Titus Groan’, the first of the Gormenghast Trilogy by Mervyn Peake.  The story is about a handful of characters living their day-to-day lives within the massive, sprawling (like, city-sized) castle of Gormenghast.  I had first heard about this series in a book called, appropriately enough, ‘Castles’ illustrated by one of my art heroes, Alan Lee.  ‘Castles’ is a kind of visual encycopedia of famous castles from world fiction and mythology, and Gormenghast caught my attention due to its description of castle-as-world instead of a simple building within a larger story.  But Castles didn’t prepare me for the oppressively sumptuous writing this book contains.  Peake is a wordcrafter.  He is a sentence-sculptor; a paragraph alchemist.  He wields English like a sensual brush dripping with dark, brooding intensity.  There are no words to describe his words.

The book begins as playful, even cartoonish, and then begins to twist and wrap itself around itself; simple caricatures of characters so idiotic in their exaggerated weirdness gradually solidifying into intensely, horribly fleshed-out individual personalities much deeper than you are prepared to be faced with.  And the description!  The metaphors and similes, the alliterations and onomatopoeia…  It’s like drinking a book made out of dark, spooky, ancient wine made from fruit you’ve never heard of before because it’s from a black hole.  It is a gothic, somber beauty, made even more impressive after seeing Peakes original sketches of his characters.  For the love of all that’s literary, go look at them, man!  He was a writer-artist, of a sort not seen very often at all.  And certainly not in 1946!  It’s like e. e. cummings and H. P. Lovecraft went to William Burroughs’ opium den together and came out with a book-baby, delivered by Dr. Seuss.  And then it’s… not like that at all.

Anyway, it’s (insert hugely understated superlative here).

So I saw Tron: Legacy…

Posted in Daft Punk, Movies, Music, robotic go-go dancers, Tron, Video Games with tags , , , , , , on January 4, 2011 by gladlad

If you ask my wife if I like the original “Tron” movie, she’ll look up into the air for a second, take a deep breath, then gaze briefly at her wedding ring and reply, “…Yep.”  Because, you see, I reeeeeeealy like the original Tron movie.  She, like most other folk, thinks it’s pretty dang boring.  I will readily admit that yes, it IS boring.  But then you need to get ready to hear my long list of the things that make it SWEET.  But I ain’t talking ’bout the original in this here post, I’m talkin’ ’bout this newfangled Tron sequel hoo-haw.

And the only reason I’m bothering to discuss it here in blogdom is because Tron played a very key role in developing my early taste for the fantastic, the technological, and the glow-y.  I have been awaiting this sequel for years.  When cinemaphiles’ dreams come true and people actually do put a lot of effort into continuing long-forgotten-but-magically-unique movies, I sweat a little, both in giddy optimism and pessimistic apprehension.  Man, you don’t even wanna know how I feel regarding the Dark Crystal sequel.  Waiting for it makes my head want to explode.

Okay– so Tron: Legacy.  I’m gonna throw out the pros and cons: the things that either fired up or doused my excitement about it.  Like ta hea-hea go:


  • -Absolutely beautiful CG animation.  A lot of the vehicle scenes were like visual poetry.  I could have happily sat through two hours of the cycles leaping and crashing and the planes twisting and trailing, especially if all their drivers were constantly shattering into little neon ice cubes.  Also, they managed to get a great density into the CG sets and objects; the Recognisers felt clunky and heavy.
  • – I loved the decision to clone 80’s Jeff Bridges.  It doesn’t matter how well they pulled it off; it was a cool plot element and tech gimmic.  I hadn’t watched many previews (on purpose), so I had no CLU (tee hee) he’d be the main antagonist.  I combatted the urge to wince at the facial animations by deciding that he was only CLU, not a real person, and hence any roboticness actually made sense.
  • – The female lead wasn’t half-naked, and was light on the cup size.  I cringed a little when she first showed up and started giggling (her, not me), but she worked out.  She’s no Carrie Ann Moss, but what can you expect from Disney?
  • – Jeff Bridges was in it.  Can you imagine what it would’ve been like without him?  A heckuva lot less Jeff-Bridges-y, that’s what.  “You’re messin’ with my Zen thing, man!”
  • – They threw in a lot of original-Tron easter eggs, especially in the ‘Flynn’s arcade’ scenes.  Even the title is a reference to something from the Tron 2.0 video game.  I nerd-grinned a lot.
  • Daft Punk.  In fact, this is like Pro #1.  Man, their music MADE this movie.  As my friend Cody succinctly said, it was like the helix that the rest of the movie’s DNA hung on.  With different music, the entire experience would have been much, much less powerful.  On the flipside, the music alone doesn’t have the power it did in the film.  It matched the visuals better than anything I’ve seen in a long time.  Soooooooo good.  (Be careful listening to it in the car.  It makes you want to drive really fast and disintegrate people with your weaving laser-trail.)

Um…  I think that’s it.  Now for the (pedantic)…


  • Okay, so this is the future of ComputerLand, right?  It’s seen the rise of the Internet and all the fantastic chaos therewithfore.  Everything’s a zillion times more advanced and complex, right?  So why do the Recognisers (the big pi-shaped ships) need COMBUSTION-DRIVEN PROPULSION???  Why don’t the light-cycles take 90-degree turns at a million miles an hour anymore?  Why do the planes seem like they need to conform to air dynamics?  Why do they fire bullets that shatter small pieces of things instead of de-rezzing them outright like a little data disc would?  Basically, why are there real-world physics?  The answer to all of the above is: because it looks cool.  Meh.  You’re in a freakin’ computer, guys.  Do something weird.

EDIT: (My friend Alex pointed out this Penny Arcade which dots that ‘i’.)

  • On that note, I was really disappointed with just how unoriginal the whole design of ComputerLand was.  It had dumptruckfulls of pretty sparkliness, but it was VERY dry in the uniqueness department.  In fact, if everything was in daylight, it’d just be Mass Effect:

  • On the same note, the original’s nerdily iconic circuitry-suits from the original devolved into glow-strip motocross outfits!  Geez you guys!  For the sake of funky-design-lovin’ folk all over the world, I want to give much-deserved screen space to the suit upgrade I much prefer– the models from the video game ‘Tron 2.0’.  Some shots for comparison:


TRON 2.0:


  • I was pretty annoyed that the first things you see in Computerland (after young Flynn gets nabbed by a Recogniser) are robotic Go-go dancers who cut our protagonist’s clothes off and fondle him into some slick armor.  CLU is going for a perfected Computerland environment, right?  CLU wasn’t a hedonistic Genghis Khan, he was just super committed to digital perfection.  The supermodel intro just didn’t make any sense.  Like the CG, they were just to look good.  Bleh.  To wax pedantic about the original again, I always appreciated the general lustlessness of the characters which seemed to convey a digital DNA.  Plus, scenes like that make my wife unable to enjoy otherwise fun flicks, and make me hesitant to want to show it to my daughter.  C’mon, Disney!  Amp up your cool, smart, normal-girl role-modeling already!  Oh, sorry.  I guess you’d make less money.
  • Michael Sheen.  Yeesh.  Who the heck made that character decision?  I love the actor, but gee willikers, man.
  • The “ISO”s are all dead.  The best possible plot development disappears as soon as it’s introduced.  I would have loved a big epic movie about someone OTHER than Prettyboy McDopeypants doing something, and here you have a race of potential ROCKSTARS!  Self-evolved, fully sentient yet innocent programs on the brink of genocide by CLU…  It could have been a digital fem-strong Braveheart, with a Neo-like dad-and-son Flynn duo on the frontlines!  But no, instead we get a Bambi-eyed hottie for Mr. McDopeypants to ride off into the sunset with.  Play ’em off, Keyboard Cat
  • Daft Punk never got to blow anyone up with rainbow lasers.  What’s up with that?

Rollercoaster of Spring

Posted in Blogging, Miscellaneous, Movies on April 6, 2009 by gladlad

Here is our street at 6:30 am two days ago, on April 4th.


Here is our street the next day.  Minnesota is crazy.


But HEY!  Spring is here!  In its own funny way.  Oh!  And I have to share with anyone reading this that Dana and I discovered a fantastic British comedy from at least one of the amazing guys who did “Garth Marenghi’s DARKPLACE”, one of the funniest things I’ve ever seen.  It’s called “THE IT CROWD”, about two I.T. guys and their new computer-illiterate boss in the basement of a fancy office building.  It’s low-budget, has a laugh track, and the humor is super, SUPER cheesy (it’s about techies, donchya know), but I think what sets it apart is the presence of one of my favorite comedy actors, Richard Ayoade.  He’s the guy with the parted ‘fro.  And he’s amazing.  He played Dean Learner in Darkplace, too.

One of the fun things about the show are all the little nerd-culture references in people’s clothes and posters on the wall around the office.  I’ve seen a bunch of things from some of my favortie comic artists and video games and stuff.  Anyway, if you’ve got Netflix, it’s on their “Watch Instantly” list, and in the meantime here’s the super-fly intro:

I’d gladly see it TWICE

Posted in Movies, Music on January 20, 2008 by gladlad

I just watched the new film “Once”.  I recommend it highly to anyone who likes a) music, b) non-traditional romance movies and c) music.  It is a film about friendship and love interwined so intimately with songwriting that the music becomes the third partner in the relationship.  The two leads were stunningly understated in their perfect chemistry, and I simply couldn’t believe that songs written for a movie these days could actually be SO DANG WONDERFUL.  Sure, you may not click with the style (I did), but you just have to admire the respect these guys paid to the audience in gifting us with original songs that stand alone as just really good indie-rock songs.  And the story was good, too.  Speaking of which, I promise the next post will be about how far I’ve come with my OWN story.  I just had to share a great film.

All done. I’m going to throw up now.

Posted in Blogging, Movies, My BOOK!, Things That Anger Me on January 19, 2008 by gladlad

Well, “the SCHEDULE” is up.  Please refer to the innocuous little link on the right side of the page, concealing a monster of a list.  All said and done, there are 115 steps listed there, the first 86 taking an estimated average of 3 or 4 night shifts to complete, and the last 29 taking who knows how the heck long.  I need to get quicker on Photoshop…

Well, here’s where the proverbial rubber hits the road.  I’ve organized; now I must do!  It’s all been text and tittering thus far, but dagnabbit there’ll be some tantalizing sketches up there soon.  The only problem with this whole ‘blogging-accountability’ pump-up thing is that the very first stage is to finally gather together all the scraps of story floating around in my head and form it into a cohesive outline.  It’s mandatory in order to know what visuals will go to each of the seven chapters.  I’d say I have close to four of those chapters fairly well in hand, but only concept-wise.  I now have to flesh those out, as well as dredge up the content of the other three… and a half… or so.  Ugh.  This will take a little while, and I hope that in that time I can generate more interest in this site, making it more and more impossible, with each new presence, to slacken in my drive to attain each goal.  115 steps to a publishable graphic novel…  Two years?  Three?  Who will see the end with me?  I hope it’s you!

Just so you know, I have been working on this graphic novel for a lot longer than I’ve been blogging about it.  It actually began last winter, suddenly having the urge to achieve my dream of actually publishing a comic book of some kind.  The story actually formed pretty quickly, and I’ve been sketching out junk for it for months.  So I have a little bit of a diving board, art-wise; I just have to fill the pool now so I don’t crack my head open.  I have no idea what that metaphor means.  Moving along…

On a totally unrelated side note, I saw “Cloverfield” last night!  Whooo dogies!  I don’t want to ruin it too much for anyone, but I just have to gripe about the casting of such stinkin’ pretty people.  I felt like the whole first 20 minutes was filmed at a Seventeen magazine model shoot.  It would’ve been a whole lot more believable with actually Everyman-feeling casting.  At least the movie is saved by not having to give a crap about the characters for the entire rest of the movie.  WOW!  What a sock to the face!  In a good way!  Ask Dana; I spent the entire movie wide-eyed, with a huge grin on my face.  Or maybe she didn’t see it while her face was dug into my armpit for the entire last hour.  Great date movie, man– that is, if your date isn’t overly bothered by unrealistically attractive people populating New York City, with uncannily lingering shots of cleavage and too-short skirts in the midst of supposed handheld camera-chaos.  Sigh… Someday someone will make an action movie for the rest of us. 

Anyway, rant over.  Schedule complete, until I notice things missing.  Shift over, typing done.  Bed now.