The Geek Beat Returns.
And with it, we have a brand new look at geeky news for the week of October 8-12, 2012. There’s a few franchises that I think are worth focusing on this week that are very near and dear to my heart. One involves a group of brave souls making a trek through the final frontier, and another involves what many consider to be (and rightfully should) the world’s greatest hero (at least in fiction). Some high-profile and surprising things are coming down the pike on movie screens and in comic book stores so I’ll have to touch on that a little bit, but let’s kick things off with the last week’s top three geeky articles from right here at Movies.com!
1) Here's the First Clip from 'Star Trek Into Darkness'
2) 007 at 50: What Makes for a Great James Bond Film?
3) We Asked a Doctor About the Science of 'Frankenweenie' and His Answers Might Surprise You
That last one is particularly riotous and a very entertaining read, but I think the one I need to cover out of that batch is definitely the first one. So, with that, let’s plot our course at maximum warp for the coverage of some sci-fi news.
The Sci-Fi Sector
Our First Look at Star Trek Into Darkness… Sort of
As a fan and observer primarily from the world of superhero films, J.J. Abrams’ turn with the Star Trek sequel is a little puzzling to me. Warner Bros. has been banging the drum for next summer’s Man of Steel since the release of The Dark Knight Rises, Marvel Studios has been very public with their plans for “Phase Two” stretching into 2014, and even lower-key comics films like the awesome (and highly underappreciated) Dredd got the ball rolling on their marketing fairly early on in the game.
As most geeks are fully aware, Abrams’ first Star Trek film was released in May of 2009 to wide critical and commercial acclaim, kickstarting what many thought to be an ailing franchise by taking us back to the classic characters and infusing them with brand new life. Taking a look at where we’re at, though, we’ve yet to see hide nor hair of Captain Kirk, Spock or Dr. McCoy in anything. No teaser, no poster, not even a title until very, very recently. While I don’t think it’s particularly dangerous or even that bad from an objective standpoint, from a hardcore Trek fan’s point of view, it’s downright agonizing.
This may not be a particularly fair comparison, but I’m going to make it anyway: Christopher Nolan told us that Bane would be the villain for The Dark Knight Rises a whopping 18 months before the release of that film, and I don’t think that the box office suffered for it. Marvel let slip the likely villain for both the forthcoming Guardians of the Galaxy film and The Avengers sequel years before we’re likely to see him in more than a cameo.
If that’s not a fair comparison, how about we keep it within this iteration of the franchise? The first teaser trailer for the 2009 film debuted in January of 2008, 16 months before the release of that film. Granted, that film was supposed to be released in December of that year before Paramount decided to turn it into a summer tentpole film, but that’s still at least a nibble compared to what we’ve seen for the new film. Comparatively, we’re a mere seven months away from the release of Trek and the fans are still very much in the dark about the identity of Benedict Cumberbatch’s villain in the film, much less any hint as to what the sequel will look like.
I get that Abrams’ “thing” is to maintain the mystery, and I respect that. There comes a time, though, when he’s got to throw us a bone! And recently, he did just that.
Well, maybe a few cells of a bone anyhow.
As reported by Erik Davis here on MDC and by our friends at TrekMovie back on October 5, director J.J. Abrams took a clip from Star Trek Into Darkness with him to his appearance on TBS’ Conan that was a mere three frames long.
Yes, you read that correctly. Three. Frames.
For those of you who might need a little understanding of exactly how long that is, allow me to explain. Typically, it takes 24 single images, or frames, of film to make up one second of a moving picture. So, that means that the clip that Abrams took to Conan was an eighth of a second long, two frames more than a simple still image. Here’s what we saw:
It’s Spock, played by Zachary Quinto, in some kind of pressure suit inside a volcano. That’s all we know. The look is fittingly hostile, and while I wish we’d gotten more, at least it’s something. We’re still waiting for a bit more, and I hope that Mr. Abrams indulges us very soon, as I think he has to be. The holiday season is the second-highest-profile time for moviegoers every year, and it would be downright… illogical… not to kick the hype machine into gear by the end of 2012. Let’s hope he delivers.
Awesome Interview about TNG Blu-rays
One last bit of Trek news comes from the awesome fan site TrekCore, where the team there was able to conduct an extensive interview with the wizards at CBS Digital, the folks currently toiling in film negatives and sound mixes in order to restore what is arguably the most acclaimed Star Trek television series: The Next Generation. Back in August, I wrote a piece for this site detailing why the Star Trek TV restorations on both the original series from the 1960s and on TNG were so impressive, with the work on the latter being particularly stunning because of the sheer effort put into it.
For geeks like me who love to hear about the technical aspects of restoring beloved works from another time, the interview is chocked full of meaty information giving us a hint at what the extremely arduous process is like, particularly with restoring the show’s original effects to the high level of scrutiny that comes with 1080p HD resolution. Here’s a great little piece from the very first page of the interview:
TrekCore: Sometimes – and Sarah’s already touched on this – footage is seen from the Star Trek movies which is reused in TNG, like the Starbase for example. Is it always possible to find this footage, as Paramount is responsible for the motion pictures?
Sarah Paul: You mean like the Starbase from Star Trek III?
TrekCore: Yes, and I know there were a couple of other effects used [apart from the starbase]...
Sarah Paul: Right. Usually what I have to do is contact the Paramount archive... and I tell them what I’m looking for and what scene. They have a catalogue there and they know what I need and they send it over and I put it up, look at it, and if it’s what I need we put it in the show!
TrekCore: Wow, so you scan [these scenes] from the original camera negatives of the movie then?
Sarah Paul: Yes, we do.
Be sure to check out the full interview here, and remember that we’re not too far off from season two's Blu-ray release in December.
The Comics Corner
The Game is Afoot for the Man of Steel at DC Comics
I have to preface anything I do for Man of Steel by telling you that your first stop for Superman news here on Movies.com should always be Jeffrey Taylor’s awesome Man of Steel Countdown, which you can find biweekly right here. Having said that, there are a couple of things that piqued my interest regarding Superman that I feel is worth mentioning here.
For films, cross-promotion is not a new thing. Whether there’s product placement in a movie for fast food, only one type of appliance, or more high-profile exposure on the original stories that spawned a film in the first place, there’s always a concerted effort to tie something in. With comic book films, a lot of cross-promotion can be found in the pages of the comics themselves, with the publishers trying to get at least a little taste of the potential success a film adaptation will have.
As a comic book store employee, I see very little change in the sales of books when a film is out. I’ll admit there are some that wander into the store looking for the original stories on which comics films are based, but the rate isn’t very high. Granted, our store is small in a relatively smaller community, but as a direct market retailer it doesn’t seem like comics films give us much of a sales boon.
DC Comics, though, is already gearing up for a marketing push tied around their forthcoming Superman film Man of Steel. In an interview at comic book news site Newsarama, DC’s Senior Vice President of Sales Bob Wayne stated that the publishing arm of the company have been having “conversations” regarding Superman comics and the film for “over a year.”
Coming off of that, DC Comics just released their schedule of events for this weekend’s New York Comic Con, and in their press release, the Superman homepage highlighted where they said this in a report on their site: “Con-goers and panel attendees will be treated to major, game-changing news announcements affecting the Man of Steel and the entire SUPERMAN family of titles.”
This likely means that what is announced at NYCC will start to take affect at some point in the first half of 2013, which I infer to be catalyzed by the upcoming release of Man of Steel in June. Even if the “game-changing announcement” releases in the next couple of months of the year, that would give the company plenty of time to print, or reprint, big-fate collections of new and old Superman stories just in time for the film’s release. If you’re a Superman fan of either the casual or hard-core variety, I’d stay tuned to the sites reporting on NYCC and get the lowdown on the news as it happens. I’m pretty excited, myself.
Geek Movies Out This Week
Theatrically, there aren’t any specifically “geek” movies out this week, though I’m personally really excited to see Ben Affleck’s Argo. There are two notable home releases though, one being new, and one being a modern classic.
The new one is Ridley Scott’s Prometheus, starring Noomi Rapace, Charlize Theron and Guy Pearce. I was really excited for the film when it came out back in June, but I have to admit it was kind of a letdown. No doubt fans will be scouring each frame to find all of the backhanded references to the Alien films that we might not have caught the first time around, but I’m less enthused about this one just because it seemed to fall pretty well short of the expectations going into it. Hopefully, we’ll be able to have a more rewarding experience with a sequel, but if not, at least we can watch Alien again.
The modern classic releasing this week is none other than Steven Spielberg’s E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial. The film is making its debut on an HD format, and the reviews for the transfer and restoration work have been very positive from what I’ve seen. This is a fun film that will now be able to be introduced to an entirely new generation of fans now that it’s made the jump into HD, and it’s definitely a film I’ll be adding to my Blu-ray library very soon. Are you excited to see E.T. in HD? Is it one of those films that you think is necessary for the transfer to 1080p? Let me know. I want to hear what you think.
Geek Thing to Buy This Week
Other than E.T., this week at ThinkGeek saw the release of an awesome Desktop Arcade for iPod and iPhone. While it’s not compatible with the new iPhone 5 or the older 3G, the piece fits the 3GS, 4, and 4S and any iPod Touch version 3 or newer, and gives a whole other level of authenticity to playing classic arcade games on your device.
Simply search out “Arcadie” on the App Store to find some games, load the phone into the dock, and play on your desk. It looks like a lot of fun, especially for fans of classic arcade games like Space Invaders or Asteroids. Be sure to give it a look.
My Pick This Week at the Comic Shop
I have to admit, there are two comics I’m very excited about this week, so I have no choice but to make what I promise to be a rare double pick for this edition of the Geek Beat.
The first is Uncanny Avengers #1, written by Rick Remender with art chores by John Cassaday. This issue is the first and most pronounced step into Marvel’s new relaunch, which they’ve dubbed Marvel NOW! After the events of the mega-crossover Avengers vs. X-Men, this title is going to be Captain America’s attempt to bring the formerly disparate worlds of the Avengers and X-Men together into one unified team. Along with new costumes and series for many of its most beloved characters, Marvel NOW! promises a lot of interesting status changes for the publisher, hot off the heels of The Avengers proving to be the most profitable cinematic franchise in comics history. It’ll be interesting to see if the publishing side of things can keep the momentum going, and the best way to take that temperature should be with the release of Uncanny Avengers #1.
However, over on DC’s side, the critically acclaimed Batman title releases issue #13 this week, and with it comes the return of arguably the greatest supervillain ever created: the Joker. The Harlequin of Hate has made only one appearance since DC’s New 52 relaunch last year, and that was in the first issue of the new Detective Comics #1 where we were treated to the crazed clown tearing off his own face. Writer Scott Snyder, who has also penned truly horrific comics stories like American Vampire for Vertigo and Severed for Image, has talked about how this is probably the most twisted Joker story he can come up with. With the title being the best-selling book in comics, a lot of eyes are on the team of Snyder and artist Greg Capullo to see if the return of the Joker is truly going to be memorable and terrifying.
The Geek Beat is now closed (back next week).
Thanks for coming back this week, and I hope you’ve enjoyed the piece. If you have any suggestions or comments, please feel free to write it up below and post it. I read all of them that come through, and I guarantee that any constructive advice will absolutely be taken into account. Thanks for reading, hope to see you back right here next week.
Chris Clow is a recent Western Washington University graduate, film history fan, and comic book expert and retailer, contributor, and overall geek to Batman-On-Film.com and ModernMythMedia.com. You can find his comic book reviews for various monthly titles and his participated podcasts at BOF and MMM. You can find his regular piece The Geek Beat here at Movies.com every Tuesday. Check out his blog, and follow him on Twitter @ChrisClow.