James Cameron has finalized a deal with 20th Century Fox to make two sequels to Avatar: Avatar 2, for release in December 2014, and Avatar 3, for release in December 2015.
“Avatar was conceived as an epic work of fantasy – a world that audiences could visit, across all media platforms, and this moment marks the launch of the next phase of that world,” the director said in a statement. “With two new films on the drawing boards, my company and I are embarking on an epic journey with our partners at Twentieth Century Fox. Our goal is to meet and exceed the global audience’s expectations for the richness of Avatar’s visual world and the power of the storytelling. In the second and third films, which will be self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc, we will not back off the throttle of Avatar’s visual and emotional horsepower, and will continue to explore its themes and characters, which touched the hearts of audiences in all cultures around the world.
“I’m looking forward to returning to Pandora,” Cameron said, “a world where our imaginations can run wild.”
At a Los Angeles event on Friday, Avatar star Sigourney Weaver suggested there was a very good possibility that she would return for the movie’s sequel, now being conceived by writer-director James Cameron.
According to Blaster.com, when a reporter mentioned that Weaver’s character, Grace Augustine, had died in the original, Weaver said:
Darling, that’s not true. She didn’t maybe die. Maybe she’s just in the tree. … I’m not allowed to say anything, but [Cameron] certainly made a lot of notes over the last year of where to move on. I think he really wants to keep the team together as much as he can.
When a reporter suggested that the planet of Pandora could somehow resuscitate her, Weaver added:
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Q: Oh Great Oracle! What in your opinion are the best movie aliens of all time? But I don’t mean movies where the aliens are the villains, like in Alien (the movie that would obviously win any such contest). I guess I mean “background” aliens, like the Cantina scene in Star Wars. — Megan, Riverside, CA
A: First, The Oracle agrees with you that the Alien alien would win any movie-alien contest (by far) — it was just so perfectly realized. I also agree that the Cantina scene in Star Wars really reset the bar for movie aliens — it’s hard to overstate what an incredible impact that scene had (even if it looks a little pedestrian now, even with George Lucas‘ later GCI additions).
What other movies has excelled at such “background” aliens? Well, the Star Trek movie extras in rubber masks aliens have always been a major disappointment in this regard — although they’re dramatically improved in the latest franchise reboot.
Post-A New Hope, Star Wars continued to introduce many weird and wonderful aliens, from Admiral Ackbar on down (although I think it speaks to the complete creative paucity of the prequel series that, despite having CGI technology, the aliens in those three Stars Wars movies are all almost completely forgettable).
Other movies with terrific “background aliens” include 1997’s The Fifth Element (a terrible film) and the 1984 fantasy movie The NeverEnding Story (I think the “giant-head” creatures in the Childlike Empress’ court are classic!).
Other suggestions? Readers?
Aliens from The Fifth Element (top row) and The NeverEnding Story (bottom row)
Q: We are wondering where the storyline came from for Avatar? Does it have anything to do with a Hindu goddess? — Jim
A: The storyline is entirely writer-director James Cameron’s, although he has openly acknowledged many “sources,” including “every single science fiction book I read as a kid,” as well as the movies The Emerald Forest, Dances With Wolves, At Play at the Fields of the Lords, and Princess Mononoke, which all share similar themes.
And yes, Cameron was also aware that in the Hindu religion an “avatar” is a deity who has come down from heaven and taken form on Earth. He explained what an “avatar” is to Time magazine way back in 2007:
It’s an incarnation of one of the Hindu gods taking a flesh form. In this film what that means is that the human technology in the future is capable of injecting a human’s intelligence into a remotely located body, a biological body. It’s not an avatar in the sense of just existing as ones and zeroes in cyberspace. It’s actually a physical body. The lead character, Jake, who is played by Sam Worthington, has his human existence and his avatar existence.
In other words, a computer or gaming “avatar” also comes from the Hindu word, but since both meanings are appropriate for the movie, it’s the perfect title for the film.
Q: Oracle, I beseech thee: I remember Wil Wheaton taking a lot of heat — though I was never sure why. Do you think he’s finally redeemed himself with Evil Wil Wheaton on The Big Bang Theory? — Mark, Las Vegas, NV
A: The Oracle never quite understood the animosity directed at Wheaton personally, which apparently arose because a lot of people didn’t like the character of Wesley Crusher, the character he played for four seasons on Star Trek: The Next Generation.
Even if the character was annoying (and I’ve always personally found Star Trek characters such as Voyager’s Neelix to be faaaaar more annoying), why take that out on the actor? But that’s what a lot of people did, making this an early example of “internet demonization.”
But I would say that Wheaton has absolutely had the last laugh — he is, of course, not mocking himself with the character of Evil Wil Wheaton, but the internet geeks who tried so hard to demonize him. And the fact that this character has become such a fan favorite on a hit show proves that plenty of people are now sharing a laugh with Wil — at his former-detractor’s expense.
Q: I know the 2005 movie The Descent has nothing to do with Jeff Long’s novel The Descent, despite both being about subterranean creatures. But will there ever be a movie based on the novel? It’s good! — MAGPIE, Toronto, Canada
A: Much has been made of the similarities between between the 1999 novel The Descent (which is terrific, as is the sequel, Deeper) and the 2005 movie of the same name.
Then again, it’s not like it’s the most original story of all time: if you’re going to write a thriller about going underground, you’re probably to create “devil”-like creatures. And even author Jeff Long has acknowledged that he based his novel on earlier works — namely Dante’s Inferno.
But I do think Long got a really raw deal. There was, in fact, a movie version of his novel in the works prior to the release of the 2005 movie, to be directed by David S. Goyer, the writer of Batman Begins and a director in the Blade series, for Dreamworks.
But I can find no evidence of any such movie still in the works, and with the break-out success of The Descent, I suspect the movie version of Long’s novel will probably never happen now.
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Apparently not having had their fill of fantasy with Spartacus: Blood and Sand, the Starz network has obtained the rights to Pillars of the Earth, an “epic tale of good vs. evil told against the religious, social and political struggles of medieval Europe.” Man, Starz is becoming the place to be, isn’t it?
Are people excited about the new V? I can’t seem to get my finger on that particular pulse. Well, if you are, we have promises from the powers that be that we’ll see more, more, morein the coming episodes. As for me, I just want to see mega-hottie Morena Baccarin rip her face off. Is that too much to ask?
Okay, I thought the idea ofPride and Prejudice and Zombies was genius. I freakin’ loved the title Sense and Sensibility and Sea Monsters. So needless to say, I am super-stoked to learn that Tim Burton will be directing the upcoming film adaptation of Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter. A possibly risky move considering the novel was just released today.
The part of Albus Dumbledore’s brother Aberforth has been cast, and it’s … Julius Caesar? Actually, it’s Ciaran Hinds, who played Julius Caesar on HBO’s Rome. From slain emperor to crazy old wizard. Not too shabby there, Ciaran.
As a New Yorker, the Tribeca Film Festival has always held a special place in my heart. I love that in a city as commercial as New York there’s a festival that really honors the independent, artistic spirit of roll-up-your-sleeves filmmakers. And I’m proud that they’re honoring that tradition by opening the festical this year with … Shrek Forever After? Seriously? Wow, can’t wait till they open next year’s festival with that hard-hitting indie documentary, Transformers 3.
I ain’t afraid o’ no spoilers. Bill Murray spills the beans on Letterman about the possibility of a new Ghostbusters movie. He doesn’t seem so into it.
I have to confess, I never read any of Terry Brooks’ Shannaranovels, even though they’ve called to me like sirens every time I pass them in the bookstore. Well, I should get crackin’, because he has three more on the way.
Anyone else suffering from a little Hobbitrumor exhaustion? It’s cast, it’s not cast, it’s in 3D, it’s not in 3D, oh, wait, it might be in 3D. Just make the freakin’ movie already. (Incidentally, I’m currently reading The Hobbit again just for fun. Guess what? It’s just as awesome as you remember. Of course, the best part of the novel is not having to hear any rumors about the making of it.)
After the more-successful-than-God run of Avatar, talk of a sequel is naturally in the works, but James Camerondoesn’t want to call it Avatar 2. He’s thinking he might call it Na’vi. I say he can call it whatever he wants, as long as we don’t have to hear rumors about it for years. Damn you, Hobbit.
Daniel Radcliffe consistently proves he’s a bloody brilliant bloke, most recently for his work with The Trevor Project, a hotline to help LGBT teenagers in crisis. That’s right, a celebrity working for a cause that he’s not personally affected by and doesn’t tie in to a film he’s promoting. He’s just doing it because he knows he has a platform and he wants to use that opportunity for good. Wingardium levi-awesome.
Finally, I’m trying to figure out an excuse I can come up with to post this next link … ooh, I got it. You all saw Look Who’s Talking, right? That was kind of fantasy … wasn’t it? Babies talking to each other? Yeah, that should work. Anyway, here’s 6 scientifically-proven facts that show that babies are completely evil, spiteful, petty A-holes.
Joss Whedon is looking for Comic-Con superfans for the documentary he’s developing with Super Size Me’s Morgan Spurlock. I don’t really know their angle, but consider Morgan (who I went to high school with) so immersed himself in junk food he nearly died to make his big film — so we could be looking at a geek reenactment of epic proportions.
As for geek reenactments of slightly less-epic proportions, more than 100 Star Wars fans flashmobbed a shopping mallin Bristol, England for a massive lightsaber battle. Yes, there’s a video:
Something was in the water in the UK, because days later, 99 costumed cosplayers dressed up in their Federation finest showed up at the London launch of the Star Trek MMO. They were trying to set the record for most costumed Trek fans in one place. I’d like to make a joke, but I can’t stop starring at the rack on Beverly Crusher.
In case you’re waiting breathlessly for Sharktopus on SyFy March 13, you can whet your whistle with the network’s showing of Dinoshark, also from director Roger Corman. In the article, Corman explains how you get a Sharktopus in the first place, and as usual, the U.S. military is involved.
Over at Entertainment Weekly, Michael Ausiello thinks that The Legend of the Seeker is a safe bet for renewal. He also gives dish on the March 20th episode where Kahlan has a spell put on her, and Richard has to protect her greatest enemy to save her. I don’t watch the series, but based on my memory of the books, I’m going with Shota.
This picture hit my inbox with no explanation — it could be real, it could be fake. All I know is that the combination of features in the image is slightly terrifying. Anybody want to explain how this isn’t scary?
In an interview with the Los Angeles Times, Sir Anthony Hopkins gives his take on playing Odin in Thor, and while he calls it a “ruthless charm,” I’d go with pig-headed.
Director Stephen Norrington’s new take on The Crowwill film before he gets around to Patrol, since he actually has a script on The Crow, even if he’s not telling us what it is. All we know is that it’s not a sequel/prequel, just a new look at the mythology.
Viceland had a list of the Dumbest Action Figures of All Time that ranges from Mozart to George Lucas to Wonder Woman. It’s a bizarre walk through toys that never should have been.
There’s a new feature trailer out for The Secret of Kells, and the more I see of this fantasy/historical animation, the more determined I am to see it.
Eureka Unscripted takes us into the rather bland geek-den that the writers of the quirky SyFy program hole up in to create their imaginary technologies, which still make more sense that the science on Fringe.
Slashfilm gives us a rambling interview with Mike Newell, the director of Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time. It doesn’t really spend much time on the movie, but more discusses Mr. Newell’s rather eclectic career choices. My favorite line? “The great thing about guys like me is I don’t have to make anything.” I love an honest man.
All of Hollywood and the blogosphere is buzzing that Stephen Spielberg may go make something with dinosaurs again. We’re not talking about revisitingJurassic Park (someone else is make those three films), but Terra Nova,a television series being called Land of the Lost , but nice. I keep having weird flashes of dinosaurs done on a television budget, and all I see is Primeval, and do we really need to see that again?
Avatar gets the FunnyOrDie treatment today with Bavatar, where babies transfer themselves into adult bodies so they can gain control of the kitchens from the adult world.
EA says Dragon Age: Originshas sold 3.2 million copies, an astounding run guaranteed to bring sequels and expansion packs for years to come. Bring on more of that troll on elf lovin’.
The most elusive part of Avatar: The Last Airbender (besides any hint of humor) has been Appa, the six-legged flying bison. With only the briefest cameo in the trailer, our best indication of the live-action version of Ang’s best friend may be the toys that will accompany the film. Based on this gallery, well, it looks like a six legged flying bison. I don’t know why my mind thinks a plastic Appa is wrong, and he should be plush, but it does.
Ratings for Spartacus: Blood and Sandwere down Friday night opposite the Olympics Opening Ceremonies, which was no surprise, but numbers for rebroadcasts are up. Starz has a bona fide hit on their hands.
We have a featurette fromHow to Train Your Dragon that makes me not hate the film as much as all the shameless Olympic plugs have been making me hate it. Mostly because we spend some time getting to know all the dragon types, and it sounds like someone thought about this for a while.
And finally, we have a new featurette for Alice In Wonderland, this time focusing on the world building and the non-human creatures in that world like the Bandersnatch and the March Hare, who finally speaks. All in all, about four seconds of new footage, and three seconds of old footage with new sound — but what sound it is when the Bandersnatch roars!
Best of both worlds? The Spider-man team met with the Avatar team to discuss filming the next episode of the webslinger saga in 3-D.
Speaking of Avatar, here’s a fun little story about how the power of love changed the ending of one particular screening of the movie on Valentine’s Day.
And in case this just wasn’t enough Avatar news for you blue-cat-monkey-people lovers, James Cameron is planning to write a prequel to the blockbuster … in the form of a novel.
In the never-ending avalanche of both remakes and franchises, this article speaks of the efforts to turn Dean Koontz’s Frankensteinnovels into a series of films. Anyone excited about this? Hands?
I know everyone out there is just dying for more vampire stories, something our culture is almost completely deprived of, so thank the powers that be that The Vampire Diaries has been picked up for another season. The article is informative, but I found calling the CW the “C-Dub” and the show’s performance its “perf” to be just on this side of obnoxious.
And while we’re on the subject of vampires (don’t you love these segues?), here’s another potential 3-D story for you. Turns out that the masterminds behind the Twilight saga are trying to figure out if they want to project Taylor Lautner’s glorious six-pack abs into the third dimension.
What’s that, you say? Can’t get enough of Megan Fox’s bust? Well, neither can a lot of people, but fortunately, you can soon own it when these busts are released as a tie-in to the Jonah Hex movie. Horndogs everywhere, you’re welcome.
I’ll just own this: Lord of the Rings is my favorite fantasy story of all time, and I own all the various incarnations of DVD’s, including the pretty craptastic Ralph Bakshi cartoon. LOTR was the book/movie/video game series that made me a fantasy fanboy, and it will always have a special place in my heart. Therefore, I get majorly psyched when someone with the same love in their hearts busts out the elbow grease and makes a fan film such as Born of Hope. May I suggest a trip to their website? The trailer is below:
Well, it’s finally happened – Avatardidn’t come out atop the weekend box office. Dear John, the romantic comedy headlined by G.I. Joe’sChanning Tatum trounced the men (and women) in blue. It also performed a public service by beating the previous record for a Super Bowl weekend opening, knocking Hanna Montana/Miley Cyrus: The Best of Both Worlds off the record books.
Enjoy every day, because it may be your last. The Large Hadron Collider is online, and even though it hasn’t cranked up anywhere near full power, the current collisions are producing an “unexpectedly high number” of mesons. We don’t know what it means, but anything “unexpected” with a machine theoretically capable of creating a black hole is worrisome.
Emily Rosehas been tapped as the lead for the new SyFy series Haven, based on the Stephen King book The Colorado Kid. The show revolves around an FBI agent coming to a small town to solve a murder, only to discover that the town residents have supernatural powers. So it’s Warehouse 13 with people instead of artifacts. How original.
Regency and Fox are rebooting another comic book hero. This time it’sDaredevil, because that came off so well the last time. It actually looks like it’s just a $100 million way of thumbing their nose at Disney, who gets the rights to the character back if Fox doesn’t use it for so many years.
The Secret of Kells is either a dull commentary on religion, or a fantasy action movie, depending on which trailer you watch. You can get flavors of Disney’s Kim Possible or Cartoon Network’s Samurai Jack. It’s got Oscar nominations though, so they must have done something right.
I’ve seen a lot of PC casemods, but none are quite as disturbing as this one from God of War, with Kratos holding your gaming GPU as well as a sword. Perfect for people with not enough anxiety in their lives.
Are we looking at Captain America, the Musical? It sounds that way. Since the superhero’s costume is basically an American flag, they’ve come up with a novel way to get him into that particularly garish garb (which didn’t look odd on the comics page, but might on movie screens): assign him to the USO to sing and dance. Not surprisingly, he can’t wait to get out of the costume.
Terry Pratchett, author of my beloved, cracked Discworld novels, is fighting Alzheimer’s Disease. As an offshoot of that health battle, he’s coming out in favor of euthanasia in an interview with the Guardian. It makes me sad to think about someone who has made me laugh this much is thinking about things this morbid, but I agree with his logic.
Do we package stories into genres like “science fiction” and “fantasy” based on rules the authors followed for world-building, or more as a blueprint for the reader on what the world should be composed of? Author Jo Walton thinks it’s the later. Think of it as boundaries for “suspension of disbelief.”
Considering that Avatartook 14 years to make, it’s not a surprise that there’s an entire backstory and history on Pandora itself.Io9.com has gathered all the information from the movie’s designers into five separate articles here.
Disney is reportedly so thrilled with themselves over Tron: Legacy, they’re already working on asequel and a television series for Disney XD. There’s supposed to be a full 2:30 trailer appearing on March 5th, which means they plan to launch it with Alice In Wonderland.
The 37th Annual Annie Awardshave announced their winners, and Pixar’s Up has won Best Feature. At this point, shouldn’t Pixar pull a Candace Bergen and remove themselves from the running?
In the “why didn’t someone think of this before?” category, Turbine Lightis preparing to show their egg-beater style turbine that fits around light poles on highways and utilizes the wind off passing cars to power the lights.
The new Dune movie will be a new Dune movie, from scratch, with incoming director Pierre Morelcoming up with a new script and plans to go 3-D on everything, but especially the sandworms. How can a movie that’s already been made once for theaters and once (very effectively) for television, and is based on a book be so hard to develop?
Author Neil Gaimanhas confirmed that he wrote an episode of Doctor Who for Matt Smith’s doctor. The bad news is that it’s not for the season that’s currently filming, but the season after that. Considering how slowly Doctor Who produces seasons, we should see it about the time we make it back to the moon.
Hasbro has been steadily developing game properties like Battleship and Candyland into movies. They just announced that Battleship was being pushed back a year to allow time for the effects. Now they’re announcing that Taylor Lautner, Mr. Twilight Werewolf, is going to playStretch Armstrong. I may mock everything remotely related to Twilight a lot, but this I can see, based solely on The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl.
Someone call Dick Cheney, because the heroes of Avatar are really just a bunch of treasonous war criminals. Or that’s what the New York Times says some think about the heroes of a lot of genre films.
It’s a good time to be a fantasy author, because sales are booming. And it’s all thanks to Twilight. Sales of genre stories are up 20% to the critical teen demographic. I’m all for kids reading, I just hope that Twilight is a gateway drug to better stories.
In an effort to beat as many dead horses as possible, screenwriters have been hired for Enchanted 2 as well as for The Lost Symbol, which is basicallya The Da Vinci Code sequel (Angels & Demons is, of course, a sequel movie, but a prequel book).
Frank Miller has taken to Twitter to give us a new look at Sin City. Not content with just giving us 140 character story hints, he’s tweeting original artwork.
Entertainment Weeklyhas a picture of James Marsters on Caprica. He looks like James Marsters on anything else. Do they make him bring his own wardrobe to guest spots these days? Because he doesn’t exactly vanish into roles. And nothing I saw in the pilot of Caprica looked as dirty and destroyed as this picture.
Latest rumors say that the new Spider-Man reboot, which has a rom-com director at the helm, will get the Disney treatment, if you believe the rumors. David Henrie, who plays the eldest wizard brother on The Wizards of Waverly Place is rumored to be up for the role. It fits – he’s a goody-goody nerdy type on the show who got great pecs between seasons. Maybe he was bitten by a radioactive Mickey Mouse? He’s already fond of red and blue outfits.
Stephen Fry was supposed to write a Doctor Who episode a few years back, but ran out of time in his life. Then it was too late, and Russell T. Davies had moved on. But while he was picking up his National Television Awards last week, he mentioned he’d love to try again. I can totally see Fry writing for David Tennant’s Doctor, but I’m not sure he could have done it for Chris Eccleston’sDoctor. Since I’m far from sold on Matt Smith, I’m ambivalent.
AMC can’t decide what it wants to be as a network. It used to be true to the name, American Movie Classics. Then they decided “classics” could include Ferris Bueller’s Day Off, which worked for me, but might have been stretching the truth, MTV-style. Now they’ve picked up a pilot calledWalking Dead, about the zombie apocalypse. Yes, you heard it here: zombies have made it to television, so they’re done. Please rewrite all movie screenplays for angels.
In random shopping news, Whedonites can pick up a Firefly replica keychain for only $9.95. It’s amazingly detailed, but having seen the damage River Tam can spontaneously dish out, I’m not sure I want that in my pocket, near things I care dearly about. Like my iPhone.
Fantasy writer N.K. Jemisinhas written a blog about some of the disturbing themes that appear in fantasy novels and movies, from inherited power (of the royal kind) to inherited power (of the magical kind). She thinks that it smacks of feudalism and eugenics, which is one way to look at it. Another is that every story about knights guarding the gate of a castle sells one copy, but if a dragon attacks the king and gets blasted by magical fireballs, well, then it’s not classified as a sleep aid.
Because original ideas are so last century, the current buzz is that Fox’s Planet of the Apesreboot is now back on. It sounds very prequel, showing how the apes took over. Jamie Moss of Street Kings fame, is writing, while Rick Jaffa and Amanda Silver are punching up the dialog.
Sci-Fi Wire has this previously-told-but-still-amazing story about how Martin Luther King, Jr. kept Uhura from leaving Star Trek after the first season. He felt the role was the first post-racial character on television, and convinced Nichelle Nichols of how vital it was to the civil rights struggle.
I’m vaguely creeped out by Lockheed-Martin’s HULC exoskeleton for soldiers, seeing it as the first step toward the cyber-apocalypse. But I had previously been consoled by the fact that the battery on the thing was measured in minutes. Now thanks to a fuel cell upgrade, the thing can go for three days, increasing strength and endurance, until it gains sentience and enslaves the wearer. Did we learn nothing from Doctor Octopus?
Casting for Conan the Barbarianhas been completed – Jason Momoa, of Stargate Atlantis and Baywatch, will be picking up the sword Arnold once carried.
By the time you read this, Avatar will have passed Titanic as the top grossing movie of all time. Closing out the weekend, it was $1.841 billion worldwide, $2 million short of Titanic’s 1998 record.
Have a question about something fantasy-related? Ask the Oracle! (Be sure to include your first name and the city, state, and/or country you are writing from.)
Q: So have you heard of this phenomenon of Avatar Depression? What is your take on it? — Angela, Mooresville, NC
A: Before you emailed, I hadn’t heard of the “Avatar Blues,” which is supposedly a depression that sets in when, after viewing the beauty of Pandora, people fall into a funk when they realize that it’s not “real” and they can’t ever experience it. According to CNN, more than a thousand people have posted feeling exactly this way on just one Avatar fan forum.
What does the Oracle think?
Well, I’m reluctant to judge other people’s emotional reactions to so-called “fictional” universes. I was moved and depressed for days after the end of Xena: Warrior Princess. And I couldn’t sleep the night I discovered the reason why Buffy was so depressed was because her friends had pulled her out of heaven.
But at the risk of sounding insensitive to those who experience this, the Oracle would diagnose the Avatar Blues phenomenon as being the direct result of (a) the movie’s extremely effective immersive visual experience (which includes 3-D, making it all the more powerful), (b) the nature of internet and social networking, where people draw attention to themselves by saying extreme, provocative things, and (c) hype-happy media which love to wildly exaggerate news in order to make a story “better.”
Q: Have you heard anything regarding the casting or start of filming on the Conan remake? — Dennis, Los Angeles, CA
Q: The movie currently has a start date of March 15th for a 2011 release. As for the cast, the lead has apparently been narrowed down to three choices: Twilight’s Kellen Lutz (pictured, right), Stargate Atlantis‘ Jason Momoa (pictured, left), and a third unnamed, but more established actor. But according to one connected blogger, Lion’s Gate has nixed both Lutz and Momoa — leaving us with the third, established actor?
Not necessarily. At this point, anything seems possible.
Incidentally, we do know the director: Marcus Nispel, the man behind Pathfinder and the Friday, the 13th remake. He has another intriguing fantasy movie in development, The Last Voyage of the Demeter, which tells the story of the ship that carried Dracula’s coffin from Transylvania to New York, and arrives with no survivors.
Q: You always hear about actors getting together to watch their TV shows together. Does that really happen? — Mason, New York, NY
A: “I had the whole cast [of Chuck] over to my house last night for the premiere,” McG, the executive producer of both that show and Supernatural, told reporters this week at the Television Critics Association in Pasadena. “I like to always show my thanks to the writers and all the staff members and all the cast people, so they come over for the premiere every year.”
Incidentally, they were very pleased with last week’s Chuck numbers. “Hopefully, it’ll keep on Chuck-in’,” he says of the show that has incorporated plenty of fantasy-esque elements this season. “The show was on the edge of extinction, and the fans spoke and people are really passionate about it.”
Having been raised Catholic (and gone through 16 years of Catholic school), this doesn’t surprise me in the least. I spent my whole childhood being taught that humans were fundamentally different from everything else in the universe — not just in terms of degree, but in kind. There was a vast, unbridgeable chasm between humans and the rest of life in the universe: we had “souls,” but they did not.
The natural world exists for us, and should be saved because it’s “God’s creation.” But we’re not part of that creation. We stand separate, special — case closed!
From my very earliest memories, this simply never made any sense to me. It was clear to me that animals were actually a lot like us: they absolutely did experience emotion and were capable of relationships and communication, if not “language” exactly. In short, the natural world clearly included degrees of intelligence.
So did it also include degrees of a “soul”? And what was all this emphasis on one species — namely, us — being so spankin’ much “better” than everything else anyway? Sure, there are clearly differences in intelligence, but isn’t all life “equal” in a way too? After all, we don’t take away a human being’s rights just because they’re mentally disadvantaged; a baby is afforded special protections precisely because it can’t protect itself.
That’s when the whole concept of the individual “soul” began to break down for me. Some kind of “life force”? Sure! But if humans have souls, and every other animal does not, what about Early Man? What about Neanderthals?
The Catholic Church acknowledges the reality of evolution, so if what they were telling me was true, there literally had to be a point where two parents, who didn’t have souls, gave birth to a child who did have a soul.
The older I got, and the more I read about history and science, the more I realized that the Catholic Church was merely clinging to the previous paradigm — a way of thinking that made sense in and was consistent with a time when we had a very different understanding of the natural world.
Now, thanks to science, our understanding of the natural world has been completely transformed. But the Catholic Church persists in its pre-Enlightenment point-of-view, despite all this evidence to the contrary, out of blind allegiance to tradition and, perhaps, sheer obstinance.
I honestly think the Vatican is incapable of understanding even the dumbed-down spiritual themes presented in Avatar. They see an acknowledgment that we are all part of a grand tapestry of life as nature “worship,” because they can only see the world in a dualistic, hierarchical, 16th century way. We’re not connected, and it’s a chain of command, so someone must be on top: plants and animals, then us, then God.
I can see why the movie would threaten them so much, but it makes me sad in a way too, because I feel like there’s not really even enough common ground between me and a traditional Catholic for us to have a substantive conversation about anything; the assumptions we make about the universe are simply too different. I’d like to think I understand their point-of-view — after all, I was taught by them for 16 years, and they gave me the highest grades in all their classes and the highest scores on all their tests. But I know for a fact they don’t understand me (and, apparently, the themes contained in 98% of all speculative fiction).
So why am I sad? Because if we human beings can’t agree on something as patently obvious as the inter-connectedness of all things, how are we ever going to solve the genuinely complicated problems of the world?
And no, I absolutely didn’t expect to go off on this topic in this column!
THE EVIL INTERNET TROLL!
For anyone who’s ever spent any time online (that would be everyone reading this now!), this is actually pretty funny (but NSFW!):
THE IDIOT BOX
On Friday, we have new episodes of Ghost Whisperer (8 PM, CBS), Dollhouse(9 PM, Fox), Medium(9 PM, CBS) and the two-hour season finale of Sanctuary (9 PM, SyFy).
This weekend, there’s a new episode ofLegend of the Seeker (syndicated, check local listings).
On Monday, there’s a new Heroes (9 PM, NBC).
On Thursday, there’s a new Fringe, along with the return of The Vampire Diaries (8 PM, the CW) and Supernatural (9 PM, The CW).Here’s the preview of the latter:
THE BOX OFFICE
Nothing fantasy-esque opening this weekend, but look for Peter Jackson’s much-maligned adaptation of The Lovely Bones.
Well, this week’s flame has sputtered out, but join me again next week when I promise I won’t be nearly so cranky.
For the next four weeks, they’re offering tours of the set for The Voyage of the Dawn Treader at something called Movie World, which is a theme park in the Gold Coast of Australia.
Earlier this week, I complained that I was reading critics’ list of the best movies of the 00s and they didn’t include The Lord of the Rings, but in fairness, here’s a list of all the critics who did. I especially appreciate the critics who included all three movies in three different spots, not just lumping them together in one slot. Interestingly, Metacritic says that The Return of the King was the best-reviewed of the all the decade’s Best Picture winners.
Is Avatar unconsciously racist (or at least racially insensitive)? The argument is that the story of minority-liberation is told, yet again, from the POV of a member of the “white” majority; racial minorities are allowed to be sort of “side-heroes” in their own story, but they really exist only to motivate the main character, who is the one who does all the changing. It’s a compelling argument, but I agree with this writer, that the “racist” argument misses the point of the movie, that Jake’s transformation has all the elements of good drama. More baldly, I’d also point out that the way the existing movie is framed, it’s far more likely to seen by a “white majority,” exposing them to the whole issue of the oppression of native and indigenous people; in short, the audience is “transformed” along with Jake. But since “the Great White Hope” is typically the only way this story is ever told, I totally get how some native people could be annoyed.
Speaking of politics, is Pixarsocially conservative? Uh, frankly, I’m annoyed and offended by the whole idea that only conservatives care about “family” — I’d argue that, rhetoric aside, the exact opposite is often true. As for The Incredibles being somewhat Ayn Randian, I had no idea that Mr. Incredible was supposed to be any kind of role model. I interpreted the character to be an annoying, arrogant, entitled a**hole.
Thanks to Avatar and Harry Potter (and, in must be said, Twilight and Transformers), Hollywood set a record. And it’s not just because ticket prices are up (in part, due to 3-D); overall ticket sales were up 4% too.
EW does a survey which results in Harry Potter being named “entertainer” of the decade. I’m not exactly sure what this means, but I suppose it’s fair.
Ten (funny) reasonswhy 2010 will be crap. Here’s what they say about Voyage of the Dawn Treader (to be released this year): “Oh really? You’re really going to make all the Narnia movies, even though The Lion, The Witch And The Wardrobe is literally the only one that people like? The Voyage Of The Dawn Treader hasn’t got any witches OR wardrobes in it, plus all the adorable child actors from the first film are all about 35 years old by now. Plus it’s about a boat. Plus if they keep making Narnia films, we’ll eventually have to put up withThe Horse And His Boy, a story about a horse. And a boy. Crap crap crappity crap.”
Peter Jackson and Patrick Stewart have both been knighted. I should hope so! But I hope it doesn’t make me a geek when I point out that Stewart was already a knight, having played King Leondegrance, Guinevere’s father, in the 1981 film Excalibur.
After Robert Downey Jr. has been on all the talk shows joking that Sherlock Holmes and Watson are secretly gay, the rights-holder to the character says she would withdraw her permission if this was pursued in future films (but, of course, she’s not anti-gay!). First, Downey is clearly joking. Second, there’s no way in hell a studio would invest this much in a movie without first making sure they have iron-clad sequel rights.
Jon Stewart discusses fan reaction (positive and very, very negative) to Star Wars with George Lucas. Truthfully, it’s pretty interesting, especially talking about the generational differences. (Stewart says, hilariously, “My son says his favorite movie is The Phantom Menace. And I’ve explained to him, ‘No, it isn’t!’”
Stephen King named 2012 as one of his favorite movies of 2009. Apparently, when he was knocked over by that van a few years back, he took a serious blow to the head!
This is old news, but I suppose it must be said: Avataris a massive hit, and its prospects are growing better by the hour. Even more interesting to me, surveys find that every single demographic gives the movie an “A”!
Speaking of which, Stephen Spielberg liked Avatar a lot, saying it’s as revolutionary as Star Wars.
The first issue of the returning Realms of Fantasy magazine is available for free download.
The X-Men: First Class project means that the Magneto: Origins movie is now off the table — the Xavier/Magneto origin will now be part of the former film.
A (dubiously sourced) rumor says that Taylor Swift will play Supergirl.
28 Star Warsmashups. Good Lord, some people have way too much time on their hands!
Hasbro, which owns Wizards of the Coast (which makes Dungeons & Dragons) is suingAtari, which owns some digital rights to the game and recently sold them. Can I be honest? I didn’t even know Atari still existed.
Tobey Maguire as Bilbo was a rumor with no basis in fact. Really? People on the internet are just making shit up? Who knew?!
The decade’s most “profitable” actress was … Harry Potter’s Emma Watson. Which just kinda proves how stupid these kinds of surveys are.
A great blog with all the news about HBO’s upcoming A Game of Thrones.
A new website does for sci-fi/fantasy books what RottenTomatoes and Metacritic do for movies: it compiles and composites all reviews for particular books. Helpful!
Liza Minnelli is not a fan of The Wizard of Oz – but only because she has a hard time watching what they do to her mother.