Archive for Slinger’s Notes

What I Did this Summer:


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If you can name any of the people in the picture other than myself, you get a cookie.

These were by far two of the greatest and most influential days of my life.

I’ll post more about it later, for now enjoy pictures of me with Hollywood stars inside high-level security government buildings. I hope I don’t get arrested for putting them up!

Recently I heard through my favorite film-news website Dark Horizons that, in an interview with AMCTV (full story there), not a single person who actually worked on the upcoming sci-fi action thriller BABYLON A.D. is pleased with the end result. The director himself is practically disowning the film in its current format. It is currently nearly 15 minutes shorter and a heck of a lot dumber than what the cast and crew had been hoping for. How did this happen and what does it mean? Let’s explore a bit, as I believe this to be a great example of the flaws of our current studio system, and an even better example of a director trying to show some integrity within his constraints.

Based on the novel Babylon Babies. The story is about “a mercenary (Diesel) in the year 2019 who is hired to transport a woman and her guardian from Eastern Europe to New York” and critics are already drawing comparisons to recent critical success Children of Men. Unfortunately they are all negative, such as the review of one Jordan Mintzer of Variety, who calls the film “A noisier, costlier version of Children of Men, [that lakcs] that film’s social-political significance and jaw-dropping direction.”

Babylon AD was set to be a strong come back piece for critically maligned action star Vin Diesel. Featuring imaginative special effects and a reliable sci-fi backstory to flex his muscles to, I was hoping that he’d really have a chance with this film to star in something intelligent and meaningful (while at the same time punching bad guys in the face). So did he.

Diesel emphasizes the movie’s theme of smuggling people across national borders. “This whole thing that’s happening in Georgia right now is so fresh that no one has even asked about it yet,” he says. “We’re coming into an age where borders are closing, and I think that our society will be numb to it because of our freedom in the virtual world, our freedom in the Internet.”

Diesel has been known to take a more intellectual and involved approach to his film making, helping to craft the fantasy universe of Chronicles of Riddick along with director David Twohy, and taking a turn as a dramatic actor in the critically successful (anywhere other than RT anyways) courtroom drama biopic, Find Me Guilty. If the action star isn’t happy with the result of the movie, and furthermore is upset at the brainlessness of it all, then the final product probably has some major flaws. Diesel sympathizes with Kassovitz.

A director is always in the difficult position of being held accountable for a film’s success or failure. “It’s hard,” he says. “Filmmaking is such a collaborative effort you can’t look to one person.

He couldn’t be more right. But it seems that 20th Century Fox might be the bad guy again, in a case similar to their butchering of the already-pretty-dumb-concept Hitman movie earlier this year. It serves as an odd coincidence that Vin Diesel was one of the key producers on that film as well. What does 20th Century Fox have against the baritone-voiced behemoth? Well, Kassovitz and Diesel have some opinions on that.

The film’s production was reportedly riddled with problems, from vast delays to budgetary concerns to weather setbacks. Kassovitz points to the studio, “Fox was sending lawyers who were only looking at all the commas and the dots,” he says. “They made everything difficult from A to Z.” The last stroke, Kassovitz says, was when Fox interfered with the editing of the film, paring it down to a confusing 93 minutes (original reports were that 70 minutes were cut from the film; Kassovitz says the number is closer to 15). Diesel too was astounded at the film’s length. Having just completed production of the fourth installment of The Fast and the Furious, he had not seen a cut of the film in six months. “Am I even in the movie any more, or am I on the cutting room floor?” the actor joked. Fox could not be reached for comment on this story.

The director, Matieu Kassovitz (Gothika), has even gone so far as to warn people about how bad the film is. “Ready to go to war” with Fox, Kassovitz lashes out, saying:

“It’s pure violence and stupidity,” he admits. “The movie is supposed to teach us that the education of our children will mean the future of our planet. All the action scenes had a goal: They were supposed to be driven by either a metaphysical point of view or experience for the characters… instead parts of the movie are like a bad episode of 24.”

The forewarning is strong indeed. The forewarning that big-budget studios would rather use their money on big dumb action flicks, especially if that means lobotomizing legitimate intentions of intellect. Reminds me of the case of 20th Century Fox v. Ridley Scott over the changes made in Blade Runner. While I doubt any version of Bablyon AD would have been as challenging and as intelligent as that film, I always enjoy seeing younger directors trying to step up to the plate. Shame on Fox though, as we will be treated to watching yet another movie where Vin Diesel punches a bad guy in the face and has little context to put it in. At this time, your dedicated reporter is unsure whether to put his 10 dollars into the film. Kassovitz isn’t helping.

To be fair, Kassovitz doesn’t entirely hate the film. “I like the energy of it and I got some scenes I’m happy with,” he says. “But I know what I had — I had something much better in my hands but I just wasn’t allowed to work.”

In the end I’m glad to see someone up there in the big leagues that has the integrity to admit when he’s being bought out by companies like Fox; admitting to making garbage under the hopes of creating intelligent pieces of work. “I should have chosen a studio that has guts,” he says. “Fox was just trying to get a PG-13 movie. I’m ready to go to war against them, but I can’t because they don’t give a s–t.”

Oh well. Maybe next time. Babylon AD opens in theaters everywhere this Friday.

Sources from Darkhorizons.com and AMCTV.com

Otakon 2008 Notice

I’ll be attending this year’s Otakon at the Baltimore Convention Center in Maryland. Thankfully, the jerks at my place of business felt it better to let me go early this summer, so I can go all 4 days!

I’ll be there filming some new stuff for the website and getting together with friends and parading around as both Max Action from our films and Johnny from Guilty Gear X2– A game I one day pledge to make into a feature film.

It’s been a long road to this thing and I’ll put up pictures and video later, but hey, until then meet up with me if you can find me! You’ll get a spot on the website and a ton of kudos if you’re in costume!

Here’s a video from a long, long time ago (one of my first, actually) of some of the craziest exploits I could film from the convention, click here to comment.

It’s a nerdy thing, it really is. But it’s too much fun to pass up.

See you all around the bend.

As you all can see an exciting change has been made to the website! We have no unveiled our new theme and banner so that when you guys visit the website you can finally recognize it as uniquely ours- something that shows off some of the best moments in SAP history!

So I hope you all enjoy the new look, in terms of functionality the website is still the same, and forums will hopefully be upgraded to match soon enough!

In the meantime, I’m going to start posting EVERY DAY. Even if its something nostalgic or generally unimportant, best to post SOMETHING. I find it inexcusable that I have left our readers with empty mental stomaches for the better part of six weeks- its time to just start posting whatever our crew finds interesting!

So today I have a link to a video, a heads up on one of our biggest inspirations ever, and a quote from a famous actor that gives a glimpse into my upcoming personal criticism of The Dark Knight:

First off, the amazing TV show, Battlestar Galactica, is getting it’s prequel film,
and Sci Fi has the first trailer here.

Secondly, we have news about Strike a Pose!!! Inspiration, RYUHEI KITAMURA is going to be making an American Version of his cult classic, VERSUS. Here’s the scoop, brought to you by DreadCentral.com:

Kitamura just announced that he’s working on an American version of Versus. He just finished a draft of the script and will do one more to polish it up. It’s going to be a few years before it’s made, as he’s doing an action film first, but he stated, and I quote: “The US Versus will be insane!”

And finally, Sir Michael Caine has cast his vote towards the making of a third Batman Begins film, and IMDB has the story! Check out the full article here.

“He tells WENN, “I think this one will be such a success it will be difficult to do a sequel because we’ve done one and we’ve topped it, obviously, and now we’ve got to top this.

“That is difficult. That is difficult because we’ve already broken the box office (record) in American movie history. We’ve got to break our own record. It’s hard.”

I’ll have more on my personal opinion of both The Dark Knight and WALL-E later this week.

For now though, enjoy the new update, and for those of you who don’t know what VERSUS is, check out this great fan video from UltimateVersus2005 on Youtube.

End of an Era: Stan Winston

“You have to understand that rightly or wrongly, I consider myself an artist and I consider the work that we do art. In helping to tell stories by creating these characters. I came out as an actor. I am not a technician. I am techno-ignorant, but I love creating characters and telling wonderful stories. Thinking of myself as an artist doesn’t allow me to think of size having to do with importance.”
~from Imdb.com’s Stan Winston page.

One of the most important figures in my inspirations for film making died last night.

His name was Stan Winston, and he is solely responsible for the amount of Aliens, Predator, and Terminator toys within the storage of my old collection. He was a living legend- the single most creative special effects artist in the industry and quite possibly of all time, having crafted both the dinosaurs in the Jurassic Park series and the physical suit that Robert Downey, Jr. used in the recently succesful Iron Man

It is quite rare for a special effects artist to be so well known by name and not just his studio, but many people were big fans of his work. He was a big enough deal to be one of two special effects artists on the Hollywood Walk of Fame. Nominated for over 30 cinematic achievement awards in his lifetime, he was also a four time Oscar Winner for his work on Terminator 2, Jurassic Park, and Aliens. His works with James Cameron, Tim Burton, Steven Spielberg and many, many others have crafted the imaginations and fascinated a whole generation of film going kids and adults.

For all his hard work and his endless amount of entertainment, realism in effects, and memorable characters and creatures, Strike a Pose Films salutes you, Stan Winston. There certainly wouldn’t be a Bodangofish without you.

EDIT:
I’d like to throw this video up on the site- a very tastefully done and touching piece by our friends over at joblo.com and Arrow in the Head that details some of the best moments in Stan’s legacy. I swear I nearly cried. This man WAS my childhood.