I don't know why this ramps up the way it does every year around this time, but it always does. People ask me things. I mean, non-fan sorts of people.
Maybe it's Christmas shopping. There are an AWFUL lot of co-workers and friends of friends that ask me about what to get for their nerd relatives. But many times, it's much more general. You know... some news item comes out and it's big enough to make the non-geek media, and then the next day at work it becomes water-cooler conversation. Since I'm generally the geekiest guy in the room, they turn to me expectantly and ask me to dispense the Expert Nerd Ruling on the matter, ideally with added gossip no one else knows.
Just for fun, I thought I'd put a few of these questions (and answers, naturally) up here for you all. Believe it or not, this is all just from this week and each one is from a different person at a different workplace. I bet a bunch of you have been getting these too.
Did you see the new STAR WARS trailer? What did you think?
Did I see it? Are you kidding? Eighteen different people emailed it, Facebooked it, or tweeted it to me within an hour of its going live. Finally I caved and clicked on one of the links.
As for what I thought, well... first, you have to understand that I'm much more of a Star Trek guy than a Star Wars guy. I like Star Wars okay, but I just don't have the investment in it dating back to earliest childhood the way some of you guys do. So when the newer trilogy came out and it wasn't a patch on the older one, it didn't enrage me the way it did so many other fans because I wasn't expecting much in the first place. I think us Trek types have thicker skins because we get disappointed or annoyed way more often than the Star Wars fans do.
Really. Way, WAY more often.
As for what I thought about the trailer itself? I couldn't begin to guess. I hope that the Star Wars fans get the Mission: Impossible version of J.J. Abrams where he seemed to understand the basic concept of the thing, and not the Star Trek version of Abrams where he is obsessed with one particular episode or moment from the older version to the point where he embarrasses himself by practically begging people to compare his to that. Because it never ends well.
It'd also be nice if the plot was coherent and wasn't a ridiculous mishmash of set pieces that make no sense when viewed all in a row. (Yes, I'm still irritated about Into Darkness. We paid to see that in a theater on its opening weekend.)
Anyway. I hope that for The Force Awakens the story's good. I'm a story guy, that's what I care about. Casting's not really my issue but the fact that they got the original actors back is a good sign. Because none of them need the money and several have been pretty vocal about how NOT fun the original Star Wars experience was for them.
Apart from that, the things that really bothered people about the trailer, or anyway that bothered some embarrassingly vocal fans on the internet, I actually see as hopeful signs.
For example, the Stormtrooper shot that really upset a savagely vocal subset of fans. Without voicing an opinion as to WHY that was a problem for those folks, although I certainly have one, I'll just say this: The fact that a Stormtrooper was shown without his headgear suggests that they're going to be treated as people and not just human bowling pins for the heroes to knock down. That's a GOOD thing and it bodes well for the approach they're taking to the story. So I guess cautiously hopeful is how I feel about it.
But you should get an actual Star Wars fan to weigh in. I'm a Trek guy and it's kind of like dog people and cat people.
*Well, what about Star Trek? Are you excited about the new one?
Hell yes I am. MIND-SIFTER premiered on December 1 and it was everything I'd hoped for. My wife Julie loved it too.
No, no, not THAT one.
Well, we really dug FAIREST OF THEM ALL from Star Trek Continues, too. Best one yet from them. Just terrific writing and a wonderful respect for the original, and we thought the actors pulled it off okay.
The original "Mirror, Mirror" is one of my favorites anyway and the idea of telling the story of what happened afterward with Mirror Spock's mutiny pretty much had me at hello. Trekkies have speculated about that one for years.
No, I mean the--
Yes, I know what you mean, I'm just messing with you. But these fan films are actually much, much closer to the original Star Trek than the new big-budget movies are. Phase II even has both David Gerrold and D.C. Fontana working as production consultants and they're writing for them as well.
But if you insist I offer an opinion about the movies? I'm glad Roberto Orci's not directing any more. And I'm especially glad he huffed off in a huff over the script, because that tells me that it's been scrapped and so someone else is probably writing it now. That to me is great news. Orci's idea of Star Trek is not mine.
The rumors about Edgar Wright taking over are probably so much wishful thinking but if he does get it, more power to him. Nicholas Meyer and Harve Bennett proved way back when with Wrath of Khan that a set of fresh eyes not normally known for SF, BUT still experienced and with a track record of good stuff, can really help a troubled franchise.
At the end of the day, though, I still like the fan stuff-- semi-pro, really, considering who's involved with them-- better than I do either of the new Abrams Trek movies. You should check those out if you are a Star Trek person. Phase II is here-- Star Trek Continues is here.
I'm very fond of Starship Farragut, too. As long as I'm spreading the word about cool fan films.
Those can be found here.
So what did you think of the new James Bond announcement?
Honestly? I'm so damn excited that they settled the silly legal stuff with Kevin McClory's estate over Blofeld and SPECTRE that I almost don't care about any of the rest of it. This business of calling the bad guy's outfit QUANTUM never worked for me. The evil organization that James Bond has to save the world from is the Special Executive for Counter-intelligence, Terrorism, Revenge, and Extortion. Abbreviated as SPECTRE. And it's headed by Ernst Stavro Blofeld. Period. Full stop.
White cat optional. I'm not a purist about that.
As for the rest of it, well, I hope the movie's good. So far the Craig movies aren't disappointing me (though I must be the one guy in the world that thinks Skyfall was kind of a hot mess) and I have a good feeling about this new one. But I'm always cautiously hopeful till I get into the theater.
What did you think about Benedict Cumberbatch being cast as Dr. Strange?
Sounds fine to me. I think he's talented and conscientious and will work hard to do a good job. What's to be unhappy about there?
Of course, I said the same thing about Ben Affleck as Batman while the rest of the internet was throwing a fit, so chances are someone will find something to be crabby about regarding the casting. Me, I just want the movie to be about the Sorcerer Supreme I liked from the cosmic Englehart-Brunner-Colan days, and not the vaguely douchey guy that was showing up in the Bendis Avengers comics.
And I very much hope that they won't do an origin movie, but instead that the story opens with Strange already established as a sort of consultant for people with occult problems in Greenwich Village. You can do it as a flashback or something if you MUST have the backstory in there, but even Stan Lee and Steve Ditko didn't start with the origin. I'd like the moviemakers to, just once, START with the cool stuff instead of making us wait half the movie to get there.
Knowing Hollywood, though, that's probably just a pipe dream.
I have no idea what to get my nerdy friend/relative/whoever for Christmas. They're horrible to buy for, they always get stuff for themselves before I have a chance to get it for them.
Well, you know, I have a couple of books out...
...what? Did you think I'd pass up an opportunity like that?
Seriously, though, here's the thing. Books and video, you probably are indeed screwed. We totally do treat ourselves to that stuff before loved ones ever get a chance. So you get them a fun T-shirt and a gift certificate to the nerd emporium of their choice.
If you don't know what their preferred comic shop or bookstore is, Amazon will do.
Anyway. That was this week. I'll be back here with more stuff at the end of the next one. See you then.