The Geek Beat is our new weekly column dedicated to all things geek in the world of movies.
Anyone who's a fan of films or a follower of the movie business has had to bow to one dominating, inexorable truth in the last decade or so: the movies today are absolutely dominated by geeks.
What is a geek, exactly? And can there be one definition? Actor Simon Pegg thinks so. He said,
“Being a geek is all about being honest about what you enjoy and not being afraid to demonstrate that affection. It means never having to play it cool about how much you like something. It’s basically a license to proudly emote on a somewhat childish level rather than behave like a supposed adult. Being a geek is extremely liberating.”
My name’s Chris Clow, and I am a resident geek here at Movies.com. I wrote the Countdown article for The Dark Knight Rises and occasionally have my name pop up on other geeky things around the site, including a look at the high-def restorations between Star Trek and Star Wars, an examination of Jaws as the first blockbuster, and even a defense of the Green Lantern movie! I work at a comic book store and love too many things to be contained by the simple label of “enthusiast.” I’m a geek, plain and simple.
This piece is going to be your weekly guide to all things geek going on in the world of movies. I’ll endeavor to bring you some geeky movie news, nerdy observations, and a fair amount of opinions through the lens of the things that geeks love. With that said, let’s take a look at some of the recent geek news to hit the Internet and put our finger on the pulse of the Geek Beat for the first time. Thanks for coming along, and I hope you stick around!
The Sci-Fi Sector
The Return of RoboCop… or BatIronMan?
This last Saturday, some spy pics from the set of next year’s RoboCop reboot arrived via ComingSoon.net, and there are some pretty full shots of the costume Joel Kinnaman will be wearing when the film bows next summer. The biggest look came when Kinnaman was walking around set with his helmet on, presumably giving us our first full look at Officer Murphy’s return to the big screen.
I have to point out that I am a huge fan of the first RoboCop film from 1987. One of the things I love the most about it is that it's very much a smart movie that is pretending to be stupid. It’s easy to get caught up in the cheese of the concept and the costume and look passed what the story is trying to say, but there’s a really interesting narrative to be found in the rebirth of Alex Murphy. How strong is the human spirit? Can it overcome the cold corporate programming of the scientists that brought him back to life? I find these themes to be really interesting and resonant in the first film.
Looking at the costume for the new film (which from what I understand may be one of a few), it doesn’t exactly set my world on fire, but I don’t dislike it either. I’ve heard a lot of comparisons to Batman, or as a strange hybrid of Batman and Iron Man. The first thing that comes to my mind is actually the black variant costume worn by the slain Commander John T. Cable from the 2000 Canadian miniseries RoboCop: Prime Directives, where a former partner of Murphy’s from the Metro South precinct of Old Detroit was created as a more advanced version of the original.
I think one of the things to keep in mind with these images is that this is not how we’re meant to see them. We don’t know if there are any visual effects to be added, we don’t know if there are other bells and whistles that we simply don’t see yet. I’m going to reserve final judgment until we see an official still, but for now it looks interesting and is far, far better than the worst they could’ve possibly done. We’ll see how things progress from here.
The Enterprise to Sail Into Darkness
For fans of the crew of the starship Enterprise, I’m sure you were chewing over the newly revealed title for J.J. Abrams next foray into the alternate reality of the Star Trek universe. No numbers, no colons even. It looks as though the title of the next film is Star Trek Into Darkness. Revealed by TrekMovie and reported on by Movies.com not long afterward, some fans I’ve spoken with have expressed concern that the word “dark” is becoming an overused buzzword. Just this year we’ve had Beneath the Darkness, In Darkness, Dark Shadows and The Dark Knight Rises, with Zero Dark Thirty and Thor: The Dark World coming up late this year and next year respectively, and it seems as though the folks at Bad Robot might just be jumping on the bandwagon.
To that I say this: let’s keep in mind that it is just a title. For some context to fellow Trek fans out there, I think we can agree that Star Trek V: The Final Frontier was a great title. The movie we ended up getting, though? Not so great, as consensus among many of us would indicate. If the title makes sense then I’d be happy to be singing its praises once the movie comes out, but I will admit that it doesn’t necessarily inspire a lot of confidence. What does inspire confidence, though, is the film’s 2009 predecessor. Let’s let the work speak for itself -- or better yet, let’s wait for a single second of actual footage before we start making our preliminary judgments.
The Comics Corner
Justice League to be separate from Man of Steel and Batman reboot?
Bill “Jett” Ramey from Batman-On-Film.com broke a story recently that Warner Bros. is considering their options regarding how to press forward with the eventual Justice League project, and a longtime Warner Bros. source to the site has stated that one of the possibilities is making a League film that has a separate continuity from the burgeoning solo franchises the studio wishes to create out of its DC Entertainment properties. This possibility would mean that Henry Cavill will simply be Superman in his Man of Steel universe, Batman would exist alone in the new series of films he’ll be taking part in, and so on and so forth.
Jett acknowledges that this is now at least an idea that’s merely being thrown around, as far as he knows. Personally, I don’t see this option as playing out because it has the potential to confuse the audience quite a bit. Back in the early 2000s, the producers of the television show Smallville (the 2001-2011 series about the life of young Clark Kent before he becomes Superman) tried on several occasions to have a pre-Batman Bruce Wayne appear on their show. Every time it was brought up, though, Warner Bros. put the kibosh on it because the features department always seemed to have a Batman film in production.
At least for Batman, it appears as though Warner doesn’t want to have multiple versions of the same character running around, and since Batman is due for a reboot, it might seem unusual for the studio to be changing their tune on this subject now.
Since Warner hasn’t had much success in getting other DC characters off the ground, it seems reasonable to me that if they have a solid story for Justice League that they’re confident in, they can use that film as a launchpad for multiple franchises at once, in one fell swoop rebooting Batman (and possibly Green Lantern) and establishing characters like Wonder Woman, the Flash and Aquaman. If Man of Steel is as much of a hit as Superman fans hope it will be, it might be downright foolish not to have Henry Cavill reprise his role as Krypton’s Last Son in a JL film.
One of the things that The Avengers proved from its grand experiment is that mainstream audiences can adjust and adapt to a shared universe through multiple films. What I also think it proved is that the sensibilities of comic book fans and general movie fans for superheroes aren’t as dissimilar as one might initially think, and if that ends up being true, I have no doubt whatsoever that this would extend to, and in fact encourage, a shared DC cinematic universe. Superman is the appropriate first step in establishing just such a thing, and I personally think it’d be incredible to see Henry Cavill’s Kal-El lead the Justice League into battle.
Geek Releases This Week (9/16-9/22):
Anyone looking for a geek film to hit this weekend at the theater is in luck, as the adaptation of British comic book publisher 2000AD’s character Dredd starring Karl Urban as Judge Joseph Dredd hits theaters this Friday. The last time we saw Dredd on a film screen was in 1995, where Sylvester Stallone, Rob Schneider and Diane Lane starred in Judge Dredd. Today that film isn’t exactly well regarded, so it’ll be interesting to see if Urban and director Pete Travis can save the Judge of Mega-City One from the obscurity of oddball sci-fi films. As of the time of this writing, the film boasts an outright impressive 90% on Rotten Tomatoes, a tally it may or may not maintain after opening weekend brings a flood of reviews. I’ll definitely be there on opening day, as Dredd is a personal guilty pleasure of mine and I’m very interested to see what the team does with it.
Also this week is the highly anticipated release on Blu-ray of Indiana Jones: The Complete Adventures. Some theaters in the U.S. and Canada celebrated the remastering of the films by showing Raiders of the Lost Ark in the massive IMAX format, and it looks as though several outlets will be running marathons across North America featuring all four films (I wonder how many are going to stay for Crystal Skull).
It goes without saying that Steven Spielberg and George Lucas’ adventure-seeking archaeologist has become an icon in the world of modern cinema, and the Blu-ray format should prove to be a very rewarding trade-up for fans of the snake-fearing whip wielder. Several of the reviews that I’ve seen have been very positive, although there are critics who have pointed to a lack of transference for some of the standard definition special features, as well as a distinct lack of digital copies for the films. For those of you looking for the addition of only one or two (or three) Indy films to your high-def library, it’s my understanding that individual releases of the films will be coming down the pike soon.
Let Us Know What You Think!
I hope you’ve enjoyed the piece and will keep coming back for your updates on the biggest news pertaining to the passionate world of geekdom, and if you see anything amiss or have any ideas on how things can be improved, please feel free to leave a comment at the end of the page. Until next time, thanks for reading, and never be ashamed to move to your own beat. Isn’t it the most fun?