Saturday, July 18, 2009

Camera Obscura: Harry Potter Returns; Comic-Con News; 'Futurama' Fail; 'District 9'

The newest Harry Potter movie opened this week with midnight shows and Cathy at Domestic Psychology has the skinny on what that event was like --

  • Midnight movies are fun, but I fall two days behind every time I do an all-nighter anything.
  • HBP doesn’t suffer from the “trying too hard” to be dark, funny or normal that previous installments had.
  • This movie has an inevitable destiny feel that makes each of the characters more interesting and more forgivable.
  • Calvinists will like this movie.

  • Be sure and read the full report. HP6, as my niece calls it, is breaking records already for box office earnings and is on track to earn even more (and there are still two movies left in the series).

    Warner Brothers is looking to fill the soon-to-be Potter gap with a new series of movies based on another popular book series, this time it's writer Angie Sage's Septimus Heap series:

    Sage's seven-volume series shares a lot of similarities with young Potter. Septimus Heap is the seventh son of a seventh son, who possesses magical powers, and is apprenticed to ExtraOrdinary wizard, Marcia Overstrand. Naturally he must overcome many trials and tribulations in his magical training, and his life is a sharp contrast to that of his adoptive sister, Jenna, who gets to live in the comfort and security of the Heap household after a Skywalker sort of switcharoo. While she lacks magic powers, Jenna makes up for it by being a princess, and heir to the throne of Castle. The overarching villain of the story is necromancer DomDaniel, who is power hungry and up to no good, as all necromancers are. Unlike the Potter movies, Magick will be animated. Not only is that bound to be disappointing to fans, it's a pretty big departure for Frankel, who is best known for live-action flicks like Marley and Me and The Devil Wears Prada. "

    Warners is also planning a big push for their TV schedule at next week's frenzied Comic-Con in San Diego. From "Smallville" to "Fringe" and "Vampire Dairies" a re-boot of the alien-filled "V" series and much more, all can be yours to review and inspect at their official web site.

    Online sites are humming about the news too - which may be either confirmed or dispelled as wanton publicity hunting - that the return of the cult favorite animated "Futurama" series has hit a negotiations snag prompting the studio to promise to get rid of the entire cast of voice actors for the show and go for all new ones:

    We love the Futurama voice performers and absolutely wanted to use them, but unfortunately, we could not meet their salary demands. While replacing these talented actors will be difficult, the show must go on."

    Bad move - though bloody typical for the idiots at Fox - if it is true, and perhaps it is just a stunt to gain some talk for the show.

    Cinematical also has some preview pics of movies sure to be hot at Comic-Con - a new Iron Man, the next Twilight movie and Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland. Check it out here.

    Speaking of aliens, this trailer for the new movie "District 9", produced by Peter Jackson, looks just fantastic, It's set for an August release:

    Speaking of alien movies, this week I saw one of my favorites from years past - itself a remake of a 1950s classic. "John Carpenter's The Thing" was one of several first class genre movies which came out in the summer of 1982. My brother and I saw this one summer day while in Erwin, TN in an older downtown theater which had just converted their balcony as a single screen. It was a jaw-dropping experience to watch the horror roll out on a gigantic screen in room with just a few dozen seats for the audience.

    It's by far Carpenter's best movie and has a great soundtrack, and a great cast, featuring Kurt Russell trapped in the frozen Antarctic along with a bizarre alien who had been trapped for perhaps as long as 100,000 years before breaking loose. The creature is not cute or even remotely human, until of course, it begins to imitate humans. The alien is more like some weird Lovecraftian silly-putty with endless power and energy. And the cast of victims quickly discover how vile and ruthless this creature can be. Rob Bottin's special effects are likewise first-class.

    If you've never seen it, it will curl up your hair and if you have seen it, it's worth seeing again.

    Tuesday, July 14, 2009

    Shoot-Out Or Opt Out?

    Thanks to the short-sighted, political goofballery of the Tennessee State Legislature, any community in the state which has a public park has been forced to formulate a policy on whether or not folks can tote their guns with them when they head out to the park. It's the great Opt-Out Debate of '09.

    Thanks, state legislature, really. THANKS.

    Meanwhile, some good writing and thinking on this issue for the city of Rogersville comes from DeMarCaTionVille:

    "Folks, I’m a gun owner. Hell, I’m a gun lover. I am also a strong defender of Second Amendment rights – yep, another one of those “pry it out of my cold, dead hands” types. But before all else, I am a mother, a volunteer and an advocate for the children of this community.

    While I’d like to believe that only the most responsible gun owners would be packing heat at the T-ball games – you know to pick off the zombies, I sincerely doubt it would happen this way.

    My husband and I are very involved with the local AYSO region. We have also participated or volunteered in most programs offered by the city. Over the years, we’ve dealt with our share of negative sideline behaviors, angry spectators, verbal disputes that have escalated to shoving matches or fist fights, and the occasional group teen vandals. We know firsthand that even the most responsible, level-headed person can become completely irrational if they feel their child has been attacked or treated unfairly by another adult.

    I can also tell you that approaching these people to discuss a behavior they need to curtail, particularly when they’re already angry, is scary enough without adding firearms to the mix.

    Therefore, I fully support the proposal to opt out. I’d also remind Pop and his cronies that their grandchildren play baseball, softball, soccer, tag and pin the tail on the donkey in that park. So, for me, this isn’t a battle against the conservatives and the others or government versus the common man.

    It’s about common sense, the safety and welfare of children and making sure that my ass doesn’t take a bullet when I have to calmly approach the Dad, who just threw his chair across the field and threatened to assault the opposing coach, or the opposing coach, who yelled back: “Yeah, Bring It Fatass!”… right before she flipped him the middle finger.

    Since the logic seems to be that if more folks have guns to protect themselves, why not just require every resident in the state to tote a gun with them wherever they go - that way, we will all be equal ... except of course for the ones who have the best quick draw and dead aim.



    JOHNSON CITY, Tenn. - Patrons headed to a Johnson City sports bar will be handed water pistols on the first day when state law allows guns in bars.

    Dan Numan said the gimmick is a facetious protest of the new statute, which he called "ignorant."

    The first 100 people who visit Numan's Cafe and Sports Bar today will be offered the water pistols. A massive water gun fight was anticipated.

    Numan said he and several other restaurant owners in the city intend to post signs, as allowed by the legislation, that lets them opt out of permitting real handguns in their establishments."

    Via the Knoxville News Sentinel

    Toxic Tennessee Valley

    The aftermath and current struggle of residents living in the midst of a full-blow disaster, the giant 1.1 billion gallon coal ash spill from TVA's coal plant in Kingston, gets a medical report from CNN.

    People think they're going to die before they'll see results."

    Mixed into this daily nightmare is the sludge of economic debate about what to do about it, whether or not it is a health hazard, what category of "waste" this ash spill is labeled, and how does TVA handle coal now and in the future.