Archive for August, 2008

SK2: Crypto-Image #7 & 8 + Shootin’ Update

Posted in News from the SK Citadel on August 26, 2008 by Tonk

Hi fans. A double special treat for you today. 2 Crypto-Images and a Shootin’ Update.

Production of SK2 has slowed a little over the last few weeks. Trust us: this is not by design.

The reality of self-funded filmmaking is that you rely a lot on other people doing you favors. To a large extent that means that your schedule is pretty much dictated to you by the other commitments your crew may have outside of the production.

I know what you’re thinking: “But surely there is nothing more important than bringing SK2 to the masses!?” And you’d be right. Unfortunately, we as compassionate producers, accept the fact that people have lives outside of the SK Citadel and we must respect their need to get on with those lives.

Plus, as SK2 is a much more ambitious project than SK1, certain logistical hurdles have had to be overcome which we’ve previously not had to deal with. Namely, finding and securing locations. Again, being a self-funded project, SK2 is essentially paid for by our producers turning tricks or selling some of their organs for scientific research. This means, especially given the state of Craig’s liver, that money is scarce. Locations must be obtained for free or by breaking into them when nobody is looking. Issues such as this can slow production, as has been the case here.

But we’re now happy to report that filming is back on schedule and with any luck, SK2: Death Crush should be scorching it’s way onto your retina within a few months. Apologies for the delay, but as I’m sure you can appreciate, great art never comes easy.


Death Sentences: STARSHIP TROOPERS 3 Review

Posted in Death Sentences on August 26, 2008 by Tonk

I actually saw this before Clone Wars but was too slack to write a review back then. The plebs at the Citadel were busting my balls: “Hey Darth can you help me with this…?” “Yo Death, carry this thing over here and hold it for me!”, “Oi, DD you’re gonna have to work back late tonight and finish building that additional wing on the North East corner!” You know, all that kinda bullshit. So I’m gonna review it now because I owe it to you, my fans. That’s the kinda great guy I am.

About 3 weeks ago I didn’t even know there was a STARSHIP TROOPERS 3. I was trawling one of my regular news sites and saw someone else’s review of it. That was the day before it was released in Australia so I made a mental note to shoot down to my local JB and grab a copy.

I should just preface things here by stating that ST3: Marauder is a direct to DVD release. No, you didn’t blink and miss the theatrical release because there wasn’t one. Sony opted to bang this out for a stingy $20 mill and hope the Starship Troopers fans would take the gamble on it and fork out the $30 for the DVD. Which is a big gamble given the abomination that was Starship Troopers 2: Hero of the Federation.

I think part of the reason I’ve procrastinated on this review is that its not an easy review to write. I gotta state here and now that Verhoeven’s 1997 film Starship Troopers holds a very special place in my heart. Outside of the Star Wars Saga it rates as one of my all time favorite films. I love its satire. I love its characters. I love its action and I love its visual effects. It is an awesome, awesome movie that deserves special mention in the history of Science Fiction. Hence, anything Starship Troopers related is hard for me to write on because I want everything to be good. ST deserves it. Johnny Rico deserves it. Shit, I deserve it.

So is ST3 any good? Well, yes and no.

Put it this way: It craps on ST2 from a great height.

Here are the positives: Ed Nuemier returns as writer. Now Ed wrote not only the original Starship Troopers screenplay, but also the original Robocop. Robocop, like ST1 is an amazing piece of art. Yes, art God damn it. I’m not gonna waste column inches by banging on about how great Robocop is, but suffice it to say I think it has one of the most stunning scripts ever committed to celluloid. So the return of Ed Nuemier to Starship Troopers should be a good thing, right? Well, don’t get too hasty. Ed also wrote ST2. Yes the same ST2 that provided nothing more than a horrid footnote to the majesty of ST1. The same ST2 that confirmed the fact that director Phil Tippett should stick to Special Effects and never ever be given the reigns of a movie again. the Same ST2 than made me cry myself to sleep and pray that ST2 be somehow erased from history and never mentioned again. So anyway, Ed N returns to ST3. I’m happy to say that here he’s done a much better job.

Ed has drawn much inspiration from the original 1959 Robert Hienlein novel of Starship Troopers. If you haven’t read that book you should. Its a seminal piece of Science Fiction. Wicked. One of the glaring omissions from 1997’s Starship Troopers film was the battle suits worn by Rico and his buddies. I’m glad to say that they make an appearance in ST3. Hence the subtitle of the movie: ‘Marauder’. With ‘Marauder’ being the name of the top secret project to develop the battle suits. ST3 also sees the introduction of ‘Sanctuary’. The secret deep space headquarters of the Terran Fleet. ‘Sanctuary’ plays a big role in the original ST novel. So its good to see it mentioned in this film.

But the most important positive is the return of Johnny Rico, the central character from the novel and ST1.

Rico was absent from ST2. Lucky for him.

Johnny Rico rocks. He has always been one of my most favorite film characters. Caper Van Dien gets Johnny Rico. He IS Johnny Rico. In the same way that Mark Hamill IS Luke Skywalker. Seeing Rico return to ST3 immediately lifts this film from mediocrity to a level of acceptability.

ST3 also sees Ed Nuemier’s directorial debut. I feel for the guy. I really do. $20 mill may sound like a lot of coin. But when you’re trying to create a world that does Starship Troopers justice, it’s not going to get you too far. The shoot was allegedly only 4 weeks long. In many ways, that translates onto screen as some scenes feel like they were rushed during production. One gets the feeling that the actors were just getting into the groove when the crew had to strike the set and move on. Where Ed has succeeded however, is in getting the best visual value for money. For a direct to DVD release, ST3 looks great. If you manage to get a copy, check out the extra features and you’ll appreciate just how much work went into the visuals and how far they managed to stretch their very limited budget.

The story is essentially one of a rescue mission. A group of Troopers is stranded on a bug planet and must reach a downed drop ship in order to contact the fleet. General Rico, after being arrested for treason, is seconded to lead the rescue party and unleash the new Marauder Battle Suits. As a backdrop to this, we see the corruption within the Terran hierarchy and the emergence of a new ultra Brain Bug.

Much of the film is shot on location in South Africa. The location stuff looks pretty dang good and certainly translates as an alien planet. The supporting cast is ok, but never comes close to the brilliance of the ensemble gathered for the original ST1. Jolene Blalock plays Captain Lola Beck who is essentially the lead character. Star Trek fans will know her as the hot Vulcan from the ‘Enterprise’ series. As cool as Johnny Rico is, its a shame to say he is under-utilised. Was this a budgetary constraint which didn’t allow enough screen time for Casper Van Dien? I dunno. But when Rico is on screen he OWNS the film.

The satire and parody that has always defined Starship Troopers is in evidence once again, and in some ways it is even more overt than in ST1. For me it got just a little too silly in parts. But on the whole it certainly helped the film feel more like ST1.

I would recommend STARSHIP TROOPERS 3: MARAUDER to anyone who considers themselves a fan of the 1997 original. It is merely a shadow of that great film, but all the same, it helps redeem the franchise from the abortion that was Starship Troopers 2. Just don’t expect too much. Enjoy it for what it is, which is essentially an expensive tele-movie. Enjoy the return of Johnny Rico. And enjoy the brief, but cool emergence of the Marauder Battle Suits.

As Casper Van Dien stated, this is really the sequel to Verhoeven’s film. ST2 can and should be forgotten. So if you’ve got a lazy $30 laying around that you don’t know what to do with, go drop it on ST3. It’s not all that bad. It’s not all that great either. But hey, not much is these days anyway.

Death Sentences: CLONE WARS Review

Posted in Death Sentences on August 25, 2008 by Tonk

Yeah I know what you’re thinking: “This film’s been out nearly 2 weeks and Death is only just getting around to reviewing it? What sorta Star Wars fan is he? Slack and piss-weak that’s what kind!”

To which I would respond: “Bugger off. I have a life, ok?! And I only just managed to squeeze it into my hectic weekend schedule as it was. Being a Lord of Evil takes up a lot of my spare time, dig? So back off, nerd!” Or something to that effect.

Anyway, so onto CLONE WARS. You know, I’d read a lot of negative crap about this film before I saw it. And a lot of that negative crap was emanating from the keyboards of long disgruntled ‘Star Wars fans’ who think that they know more about what Star Wars should be about than George Lucas. You know the kind of nerd I mean: the fat, ginger, lardy type who wouldn’t know a creative impulse if it flew up and bit him in his Cinema-Scope sized arse. The sorta nerd that has to draw breath and stop for a break on his trip between the couch and his refrigerator. The sorta nerd that gets banned from Skywalker Ranch because he posted online pre-release Star Wars scripts and then makes out like he’s some kinda victim of George Lucas’s bullying. The bitter, twisted, envious nerd who deep down wishes they were George but never will be so in order to compensate waste their days bullshitting to their online mates about how GL raped their childhood. Yeah that kinda nerd.

Well I got news for you, nerd: You were wrong about Clone Wars. Clone Wars rocks. Clone Wars is a fun, enjoyable adventure that continues to expand the Star Wars universe and lay the groundwork for what will no doubt be some very cool TV.

Make no mistake: Clone Wars feels different to the other 6 Star Wars movies. Is that bad? No. In fact I think its a positive.

The 6 live action Star Wars movies form the centre-piece of the Star Wars Universe. They are the central story around which all other Star Wars stories revolve. Clone Wars is a TV show. The Clone Wars movie is effectively the pilot or introduction to that show. It is in essence an ‘appendix’ to the other 6 Star Wars movies. It should feel somewhat different. And it does, the main reason being the fact that it’s animated. The musical score is also somewhat removed from the Saga, being more contemporary in style with only echoes of Williams’ score weaved throughout.

The visual style of the animation is one of the things that I enjoyed most about Clone Wars and is one of the things that will divide opinion. George Lucas stated fairly early on in Clone Wars development that he didn’t want the human characters to look like their live-action counterparts. He thought that if they looked too life-like, audiences would become distracted as they subconsciously compared them to the likes of Hayden Christensen or Ewan MacGregor. George quoted the works of Gerry Anderson as being the biggest influence on the visual style of Clone Wars. And it is hard to deny that the human characters bare a striking resemblance to Virgil Tracy or Captain Scarlett. Personally, I really dig it. But I know there are those who won’t. That doesn’t make me right, (actually it does.) it’s really just an aesthetic thing which you either dig or hate.

The central story of Clone Wars revolves around the abduction of Jabba the Hutt’s son and how that will ultimately effect who gains control of shipping routes in the Outer Rim. On the surface, that may sound pretty dull, but make no mistake, this film is utterly action packed. The opening 30 minutes is effectively one big battle which introduces us to one of the hundreds of battles being waged across the galaxy. This then acts as a stepping-off point for many other set piece battle scenes which litter the rest of the film.

In a strange move, which seems to run contrary to established canon, Anakin Skywalker is given a Padawan to train. The character of Asoka is ok and likable. But doesn’t really bring anything hugely new to the concept of the Clone Wars. The central character remains Skywalker and it will be interesting to see what becomes of the character of Asoka given the ultimate fate of Anakin.

If you’ve not seen Clone Wars yet, then I don’t wish to give to much of the story away. I think it is important to remember that this is an introductory episode in an ongoing series. There isn’t really an ending to it. The film just kinda stops. But that’s ok. To me Star Wars films have always had a Comic Book feeling to them and so I’m a little more forgiving of the fact that Clone Wars just comes to a halt with the emphasis on there being many more stories to come.

From an animation perspective, Clone Wars feels really fresh. And I think this is due to the fact that Western Animation hasn’t really done much in this Sci-Fi action area. When I think of animated movies I recall the likes of Shrek, Toy Story, Finding Nemo, etc. I like that here we have an animated film that is in many ways emulating what a live action film would do, if that live action film had say $300 mill as a budget.

So anyway, go see Clone Wars because its cool and fun. That’s it. If you think this is gonna be something other that that then piss off and watch Cloverfield again or some other pretentious piece of crap that tries to ‘redefine the genre’.

Remember: Its all Star Wars. Its all good.

Death Sentences: Random Goodness

Posted in Death Sentences on August 21, 2008 by Tonk

Comic Books: they can either be a source of great escapism and adventure or a depressing journey into mediocrity. Anyone who has read comics on a consistent basis will know that its a total gamble as to what you’re gonna get when you drop your coin on a latest issue.

Now it’s no secret that Darth Death is a big GREEN LANTERN fan. I’m talkin’ about the REAL GL: Hal Jordan. Sure the other GLs have their place in the DC Universe, but for DD’s money, Jordan is and always will be Earth’s greatest Green Lantern.

After DC basically shafted the character of Jordan for over 20 years, its great to see both Hal and his book undergoing a real renaissance.

Geoff Johns and Ivan Ries continue to pump out brilliant issues each month. The current story arc is a 7-parter entitled “Secret Origins”. It sees Hal Jordan’s origin once again retold in order to set up the framework for 2009’s massive Green Lantern story arc, BLACKEST NIGHT.

If you’ve ever been interested in the awesomeness of Green Lantern then this is s great time to get into the title as it is effectively re-booting Hal Jordan and setting up the book for some exciting stories to come.

I thought this story arc was worthy of mention here due to the fact that comic books in general, whilst far better than they were 10 years ago, seem to be very hit and miss these days. Great story combined with great artwork is a rare find and I strongly recommend anyone interested in solid Science Fantasy and rich mythology to pick up a copy of GL. You won’t regret it.

Further proof of why King George rules

Posted in News from the SK Citadel on August 7, 2008 by Tonk

We found this really cool interview with George Lucas on the HERALD SUN website.

It gives a great insight into some of George’s philosophies and illustrates how incredibly grounded he remains despite his stupendous success.

We’re not stupid. We know Star Wars has its detractors, especially in this cynical age in which we live. But thank Christ dudes like George are around to just do what they wanna do despite the amount of crap some douche-bags pile on them.

George would be totally within his right to just shove two fingers up to the World and say: “Screw the lot of you! I gave you these great gifts of Star Wars and Indiana Jones and American Graffiti and Pixar. Now I’m just gonna bugger off and wallow in my cash!” But no, George just keeps on giving.

What a freaking legend.

BTW….CLONE WARS opens in a week!

SK Producer becomes old bastard

Posted in News from the SK Citadel on August 5, 2008 by Tonk

Tomorrow marks the 35th birthday of our so-called ‘Producer’, Craig ‘I like to big up myself by calling myself a producer’ Tonkin.

For all those who don’t know, SUBURBAN KNIGHTS is basically Craig’s brainchild. And he’s pretty dang proud of it.

Sure, the SK Saga may be a pointless, stupid and utterly childish venture, but for Craig its a labour or love. So from all of us here at the Citadel, we’d like to wish Craig all the best for his 35th. Happy Birthday you decrepit old bastard!

Here’s a totally irrelevant picture of Snake Face to make you happy:

SK2: Crypto-Image #6

Posted in News from the SK Citadel on August 5, 2008 by Tonk