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Angry Zen Master

Enlightenment Through Focused Rage

Evangelion, I Just Can’t Quit You

Especially when you’re a live action, CG mech punching things!

I have documented my sick addiction to Hideako Anno’s Neon Genesis Evangelion. In short, while I think the series is terribly cynical that attempts to break down the tropes of the giant robot genre that I love while somehow establishing new tropes that have poisoned anime since Evangelion debuted, I’m still a sucker for giant robots punching.

Fortunately, with this short you don’t have to sit through hours of Shinji being Shinji to get the punching robots. Clocking in at 6 minutes 23 seconds, Evangelion: Another Impact Confidential (what is it with these titles?) gets right to the punching. This piece was created as part of a weekly animation project that was executive produced by Anno.

Even without Portuguese subtitles, you can pretty much guess what’s happening. But just in case, here’s a description of the short from the website:

Another time, another place.
An activation test of a decisive weapon was underway.
With its development and operational trials shrouded in complete secrecy, the Another Number – Unit Null, suddenly breaks free ofhuman control and goes berserk.

For what purpose was Another Number – Unit Null created?

The story of an Evangelion’s activation, rampage and howling in another world.

Riiiiiiiiiiiight.

Welp, it wouldn’t be Anno without some batshit weirdness. Can’t just have robots punching. Nope, you have to put in some weird bullshit that will never get resolved. Just caaaaaan’t help yourself. And goddammit, I kinda want more!

For more on this and some of the other shorts that premiered in the series, check out the post from the Anime News Network.

Power Rangers Bootleg Explores Child Soldier PTSD

Produced by Adi Shankar and directed by Joseph Kahn, this 14 minute Mighty Morphin’ Power Rangers bootleg explores the emotional damage that the young Rangers would suffer if the show had taken place in a more realistic setting. Shankar produced the 2012 Dredd reboot and this short feels like it takes place in a similar world. I kinda cringed when I heard that the Power Rangers reboot would be a grim and gritty remake, but after seeing this short, I kinda believe it’s possible to take this material seriously.

James Van Der Beek is the traitorous Rocky. When I was watching the show as a kid (who am I kidding, I was in high school) I felt kind of betrayed when Rocky took Jason’s place as the Red Ranger. It’s like Shankar knew that’s how some of us felt and has channeled that betrayal through the Dawson who turns in a truly venomous performance.

Katie Shackhoff as Kimberly gives the Pink Ranger a gravitas that she’s never really had. Kim was always the care free one throwing Peter Parker like quips in the heat of battle. Starbuck’s version of Kim has had all the joy stolen from her. You can see the pain in her eyes as she recalls her fallen comrades.

The call backs to the original series are subtle. When they hit, I could hear my fan brain saying “Aw yissss! Some shit’s about to go down!” The grimdark atmosphere might not be for everyone. But it hit all the right notes for me. And dammit, now I’m kinda looking forward to see what they can do with this reboot movie. Gaaaah!!!

Here’s Shankar explaining his motivations behind the project.

My Problem With the Live Action Ghost in the Shell

So I’ve heard about the petition going around to get rid of Scarlett Johansson as Makoto Kusanagi in the live action version of Ghost in the Shell. Normally, I can’t stand it when studios white wash a cast and I certainly understand where the petitioners are coming from. But in this case, I’m not mad.

I’m certainly not mad as ScarJo. Although I absolutely love that comic book movies are mainstream, big budget blockbusters, I’m still disappointed in the lack of diversity. Since Catwoman, we haven’t had a DC or Marvel super hero flick lead by either a woman or minority. Before that one it was Blade. Oh sure, Black Widow had a much bigger role in Captain America: Winter Soldier. And they introduced Falcon as a major character. But fans have been calling for a solo Black Widow flick for a while now and there’s none on the horizon. And where the hell is a Wonder Woman movie?! So until DC and Marvel figure this out, I’m glad to see Scarlett Johansson grab a starring role in a live action manga flick.

What worries me is the source material. Ghost in the Shell isn’t exactly easy stuff to digest. I go into it a bit in the vloggy vlog I’ve posted.

Side note, I think I’ll be doing more of this style of posting than my usual stuff. It’s taken me a while to get back to AZM so please bear with me as I figure out what I want to do with the blogy.

So yeah, I won’t be signing the petition. I’ll just be hiding in the corner hoping that they don’t fuck this thing up too horribly.

The Only Way to Enjoy a Michael Bay Transformers Movie

Our daughter was born January 30 which meant that I missed out on the annual television advertisement competition called the Super Bowl that Sunday. So I missed out on the Coca Cola thing (which only makes me love them more) and the usual assault of movie trailers. I’ve finally gotten some time to sit down and check out some of the things I missed and lo and behold, there’s a new Transformers movie coming later this summer.

There are two ways to react to these things, IRATE FANRAGE or blissful ignorance.

Up until now, I’ve viewed this franchise through the eyes of an old school fan. I grew up with Generation 1, saved allowances to buy the toys, recoiled in horror as my generation of Transformers were killed on screen in animated form. Those are precious nerd memories to me. They’ve helped inform the kinds of wacky crap that I collect and the things I look forward to in my entertainment.

I wasn’t wholly opposed to seeing a live action version when the first one was announced. I had survived the Dreamwave comics version and the relatively short-lived 80’s cartoon comic revival that surrounded it. And there have been a handful of Michael Bay movies that I enjoyed. As my brother often points out, he made Martin Lawrence look like a bad ass in those Bad Boys movies. But when I finally saw the thing, I was less than impressed.

The jerky camera work, the claxonic sound design, the fact that I couldn’t tell Autobots from Decepticons because of the “Tinker Toy from Hell” design aesthetic, it all came off as a big stinking mess. This wasn’t even an echo of the Transformers that I grew up with.

However, there were giant robots on screen. We don’t get a lot of that here. I mean, since Transformers came out in 2007, we’ve had that weird boxing robot movie with Hugh Jackman and Pacific Rim. And I barely count that boxing robot movie. Not a whole lot of giant robot love here.

I fucking love giant robots. And if we get to see more of them on screen, perhaps more people will come to love giant robots. So shouldn’t I love Michael Bay for bringing giant robots to the screen? Even if I can’t tell who’s fighting who?

And then, it hit me. There’s one sure fire way to reconcile my love for giant robots and absolute disgust for this version of Transformers.

FORGET THAT IT’S A TRANSFORMERS MOVIE

If I didn’t know what a Transformer was, if I didn’t have the original G1 character designs blazed into my childhood fan memory, if I didn’t know that the Matrix of Leadership would light our darkest hour, I would watch this trailer and think, HOLY FUCK, GIANT ROBOT WITH A SWORD RIDING A ROBOT DINOSAUR! ROBOT WHOSE FACE TURNS INTO A CANNON? GIANT FLYING ROBOT DINOSAUR!

SIR. YES. SIR. MAY. I. HAVE. ANOTHER.

Watching this thing with blissful ignorance turned up to eleven makes it a movie about giant robots and giant robot dinosaurs. And that sounds like some shit that I want to see. And fuck, there’s even a sword! Giant robot with sword means yes. Just yes.

Granted, it’s likely going to be a very long time until I’m able to see this movie. And when I do, I’m likely only to see it at the Arlington Cinema and Draft House where they serve beer and food. But it’s pretty difficult for me to ignore a movie with giant robots with swords in it. So what that I have to delude myself into seeing this stupid thing.

My daughter needs all of these.

Baby Break

My daughter needs all of these.

My daughter needs all of these.

Not that you guys expect any sort of regularity from AZM these days, but I’m taking a break from geek blogging at least until the week of February 17.  We’re having a baby girl this week and it’s probably going to take me some time to figure out my schedule.

She’s about two weeks overdue so we’re heading to the hospital later tonight to see if we can coax her out.  So by Thursday, we will have evicted our baby girl from Audrey’s belly.

Just wanted to give you all a heads up.  When I return, I think I’ll continue with my opinion based stuff instead of just reposting new reports and announcements (unless it’s some really cool shit that I like).  There are so many aggregators for geek news these days that it’s almost impossible to scoop anyone.  And since I don’t have any real primary sources, my news is really old news by the time I report on it.  However, no one can write the crazy shit that’s in my head except me.  So that’s what I think I’ll continue to focus on when I return.

Thank you all for sticking around and reading my crazy ramblings.  And I’ll see ya mid February!

Noah Trailer Leaves Me With Many Questions

I’m not a fan of disaster movies in general and this one about Noah and the flood doesn’t really interest me.  Besides, Bill Cosby’s version is pretty much the only version I need:

Still, after seeing the trailer like five or six times (been going to the movies a lot lately), I’m left with many questions.  All I know about Noah is that he built the arc, that it housed all the animals of the land, and that it floated around to forty days and forty night.  So I’m curious to know what bits are in the good book, what bits have been cobbled together from bible scholars, and what bits are complete fabrication.

  • Noah and his family are Caucasian.  Is this just Hollywood being predictable or is there a historical basis for the ethnicity choice?
  • Why does everyone speak with an English accent when it’s a period drama?  If it’s in Italy or Greece or the Middle East, why does everyone have an English accent?  I’ve seen films that take place in China where they have English accents.  Okay, so I guess it makes sense if it takes place in Hong Kong, but still, the shit is weird.  When The Wire is remade as a period drama thirty years from now, will everyone speak with an English accent?
  • Was there an army of people who wanted to get on Noah’s Arc as the floods came rushing in?
  • Along those same lines, if ALL THE PEOPLE died, did Noah re-peopleate the earth with his family?  Caaaaauuuse that would means some brother-sister lovin’ somewhere along the way.  Or did he bring along a neighbor or two just to keep the gene pool diverse?  Or did some of the people survive?
  • How did Noah feed all of those animals and his family for forty days and forty nights?  Maybe he ran out of food and the unicorns had weak constitutions and they died which is why we don’t have them anymore.  Maybe there was a whole level full of creatures we think of as mythical who all died because they ran out of food.
  • Seriously, where did the food come from?  Was there some kind of bible stove that they could use to cook food?  Or did Noah’s family just dip in to the troughs and eat nothing but grains.
  • How did they deal with animal waste?
  • How did they prevent disease?
  • Could the Arc be steered or did they just float around and hope that eventually things would dry out?
  • How did Noah build this thing?  Did elephants help him move trees and lift things?  Did he hire neighbors to help with construction?  Plowing up a field to turn it into a baseball diamond I can see being a one person operation.  But building a vessel that will house ALL THE ANIMALS can’t possibly be done by your lonesome, at least in a timely fashion.  Noah needed some help.  Now if we believe in crossovers and that Emma Watson is really playing Hermione, she could use magic to help construct the arc.

I think this is why I don’t like disaster movies.  It’s impossible for me to suspend disbelief.  I always come up with annoying questions that will never get answered in the space of two hours.

The scientist who discovers the world ending disaster never explains things in a manner which is terribly satisfying.  The other scientist who figures out how to prevent the disaster always comes up with some bullshit that would never work.  Our charismatic hero is never charismatic enough for me to forget the completely stupid solution to saving us all.  I rarely care about the cast enough to want them to survive.  It’s not that I wish them death.  It’s just that we usually get sketches of characters that don’t give me enough of an emotional hook.  And if you don’t care about the characters, it makes their impending doom much less exciting than it probably should be.

Disaster films are what I like to call demo reel movies.  CG effect companies will use their shots in their demo reels to get more work.  And if you get to experience them in full 3D on a big ass screen, the effects are always amazing.  But as realistically terrifying as these effects shots can be, the stories rarely hold up to that level of awe.  Maybe it wasn’t always like this, but modern disaster flicks depend way too heavily on their effects.

In the case of this film, we don’t have science to lean on which may make it easier to suspend disbelief.  But some of the other questions I have would probably jump me out again.  Even with people I like in it like Emma Watson and Jennifer Connelly, I just can’t get into disaster movies.  Maybe if I pretend I’m watching Hermione and Sarah stuck in some weird ass labyrinth, this might work.

I'm doing what now?

An Epic Romantic Remake Of 1984?

I’m doing what now?

“It’s about love in a world where love really doesn’t exist anymore.”

So says director Drake Doremus about his upcoming film Equals, a new version of George Orwell’s 1984.  What’s really surprising is not the casting of Kristen Stewart, but that it’s taken so long for a new millennium take on the story.  I guess Equilibrium from 2002 counts.  Fucking gun kata!  But with all the remakes, sequels, reboots, re-imaginings, and remixes that Hollywood is so fond of these days, you’d think that 1984 would be higher up on the priority list.

My hope is that it doesn’t get all glitzed up with CG effects and green screen.  I suppose it would be cool to see armed guards walking around in some kind of futuristic armor, but I really think the version starring John Hurt captured the look and feel that I saw in my mind when I read the book.  Lots of grays.  Nothing at all fancy or shiny.  Just really brutalist and depressing.

As for Kristen Stewart, what I find most interesting is that she seems to be a little intimidated by the role of Julia:

I can’t believe I agreed to do it… I trust Drake’s process and I know we will do something really natural and real. But I told Drake, ‘Don’t expect that I am going to be able to do this. It’s too hard.’ But he wouldn’t take ‘no’ for an answer. I’ve given directors disclaimers before, but never this much… It’s a love story of epic, epic, epic proportion. I’m scared.

Now I know a lot of people like to dog on K Stew because of her acting and whatever, but this sounds like someone who’s considered the source material.  I remember hearing similar things from Chris Evans when he was pursued to play Captain America and he did just fine.  I think Stewart will rise to the challenge.

Until we see actual trailers of this thing, we won’t really know much more about this interpretation of 1984.  I’m choosing to be slightly optimistic.  I’ll keep an eye out for this thing as it develops.

From: ABC News

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