What this blog is about

It's an art blog.
Mostly about theatre... but also a healthy dose of pop culture, politics and shameless self-promotion.

Sunday, August 19, 2007

Superhero LIVE! at the 2007 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival.

Holy moley, it's been a long time since I've blogged!!!

I'm in Edmonton right now. I came to rehearse and produce my play Superhero LIVE! at the Edmonton Fringe this year. I arrived at midnight on August 1st, and was up early the next morning to do the Fringe Media Conference. We were one of only four groups (of 140) to perform at the conference. At that time I had less than two weeks to put this show together; now we are offically up and running (both the staged show and the radio series).

I guess I should mention what Superhero LIVE! is. It is a comic book spoken word rock opera. I wrote, produced and directed for the Fringe this year. Our executive producer is Happy Habor Comics: a nationally recognized, award-winning comic store in Edmonton. (They win awards because they sponsor stuff like this!) It's a two hour show performed against a original rock n roll score played by a live band; we're doing it at The Attic Bar & Lounge as a BYOV this year. I've been producing the play as a radio-play serial, online and free to download as Podcasts at http://www.superherolive.com. I booked a sponsorship deal with CJSR FM 88.5 to broadcast each episode of the serial everyday during the Fringe. Then on August 23, 2007, we're doing a live-to-air broadcast of the full-length play from the Fringe Festival. This has never been done at the Edmonton Fringe before.

Okay, so a big task. And like I said, we only had two weeks to pull it off. Luckily, most of the cast from the Podcasts had returned to do the live performance. Alison Boyce was new to our crew, but she has been a superstar and absolutely wonderful to work with.

We've been getting pretty good press coverage: we've been plugged on SONiC radio, City TV, the Edmonton Examiner, and of course CJSR.

The run is only beginning but all ready I have some wonderful memories of this experience. Most notably during the Fringe parade. Shaun's boss at K&K Deli let us use his truck and a generator so that Shaun and John could rock out on the flatbed. We were doing a spot for City TV so Shaun and John started playing: suddenly we were surrounded by a dozen dancing clowns from another show attracted by the kickin' tunes. It was amazing and totally surreal.

Only at the Fringe.

Now that we're open, I'll try to blog a bit more often. It was a real push to get this show up and running, and I didn't have a lot of time to devote to cyber-thoughts. Hopefully now I can be a little more visable during the rest of the festival.

See you in the beer tents???

Monday, June 18, 2007

Fantastic Four -- Rise of the Silver Surfer

SPOILER ALERT. If you don't want to know anything about this movie before you see it, then stop reading right now.

Last night I picked up my fellow actor/comic-geek buddy, David Shelley, to go watch the next Fantastic Four flick. He had spent the entire day on a film gig and was pretty exhausted. I asked him if he was up for checking out the movie and he said he was ready to just relax and veg out in front of the big screen. I said to him, "Don't worry pal, tonight we're gonna enjoy some really cool special F/x and some really bad acting, and it will be a good night!"

Sometimes I'm so on the mark, I surprise myself.

FF 2 or "Rise of the Silver Surfer" is not a bad movie. It's not a great movie, by any stretch of the imagination, but it's not bad. I did not come close to feeling the crushing deflation and seething anger that I felt after Spider-man 3. In fact, I felt pretty good coming out of the theatre. If you have kids, I would recommend taking them to this movie whole-heartedly. If you're a long time fan of the comic, you'll probably think it's a horrific bastardization of the FF mythology. But, then again, you'd probably agree that it's ten times better than the first FF movie.

The highlight of this film is the Silver Surfer. Completely animated, and voiced by the always stellar Lawrence Fishburn, the Surfer is also the best actor on the screen. This is in part a jab at the cast of the FF family, but also this is in praise of the director, F/x team and Fishburn. The performance of the Surfer was simple, direct and empathetic. And he also had the best lines.

Writing: the first 25 minutes of this movie, and the final 10 had me wincing in my seat. Until the FF started interacting with the Surfer, this movie stumbled -- badly. Too many overused, predictable one-liners and too many cheap jokes. And the cast either didn't have the talent to save the dialogue or, maybe, they saw that the stinky writing couldn't be salvaged and didn't bother to try. Jessica Alba, while always nice to look at, was probably the worst offender. As Sue Storm (eventually Sue Richards), she had absolutely ZERO chemistry with Reed Richards. In fact all her chemistry seemed to be saved up for Johnny Storm, her brother; as David pointed out, "Every time they had a scene together, I thought they were going to kiss!"

Iaon Gruffudd (Reed) tried his best, but the writers saved the worst bits for him. And, like Jessica Alba, he's just not old enough to pull of this role. (If the producers were smart, they would have cast Tom Hanks and Meg Ryan as the patriarch/matriarch of the ultimate superhero family: they both have the years, chemistry and chops to truly bring these roles to life.) Chris Evans (Johnny) had a little too much nudge-nudge, wink-wink in his performance for my liking, and Michael Chiklis was okay, especially considering he had a giant rock suit to act through for most of the movie.

Now, as my partner-in-crime, Shaun Mckee says, "I refuse to judge a movie for what it isn't instead of what it is." I, on the other hand, have no such qualms: I think the FF franchise has done a terrible dis-service to the myth of the Thing. The tragedy of the Thing is that he is trapped inside a monster's body and he can't get out. FF2, like its predecessor, keeps having the Thing transform between human and monster, and there are no consequences to the character. It's like Ben Grimm doesn't really mind being the Thing. And I'm not talking about his sense of humor or his good will or continual horseplay with Johnny Storm: this stays true to the comic and is one of the Thing's most endearing traits. At the same time, the Thing is the most tragic figure of the the FF as well as the physical manifestation of Reed's guilt. Neither movie takes the time to explore these themes (or the first one did but in the most cursory, platonic way possible -- like a laughable second thought). I feel like both FF flicks are prime examples of how when a superhero franchise is seen as money-making vehicle instead of an opportunity to make art, the consequence ultimately hurts the superhero-film industry as a whole rather than helps it. FF is one of the longest running and most recognizable comic titles out there: don't you think it's deserving of some research or at least recognition of its artistic merit? Don't you think it's more deserving of some thought and affection when being adapted for the screen? Don't you think the characters have something more to offer besides hot actors in tight outfits doing kick-ass special F/x?

But, maybe I'm wrong: maybe what I want is much too heavy when you're designing a franchise for kids.

(Mind you -- take look at classics like The Secret of Nymh or The Dark Crystal from the 1980's as examples of childrens' films that are unafraid to expose a young audience to elements of darkness. A generation grew up on these films; hell, I watched both of these films in elementary school. While scary, they were also wonderful.)

Okay - enough bitchin'. I actually liked this movie, for the most part. The exposition and conclusion, while painful, were also mercifully short and the movie wastes little time getting to the action. And the action is fun: the Surfer/Torch chase (as scene in previews) is excellent, there is a natural disaster in London averted, a choice battle between the Surfer and the US military which is short and sweet -- and an even better battle between the FF and Doctor Doom (SPOILERS COMING NOW) after Doom takes control of the Surfer's board and powers. I actually really like the film's depiction of Galactus (ominous black nebula cloud) and, as my buddy David says, you can see the outline of the comic-based Galactus head/helmet within the nebula during the film's climax (I'll have to take his word for it; I totally missed it). The film fails to explain how the Surfer is able to destroy Galactus or how he finds out he is able to do it... or if he already knew then what his reasoning was for not destroying it until this point. There were a couple murmers of "what?" in the theatre during the climax. This also was confusing for a moment because you think that the Surfer has decided to sacrifice his home world/true-love-at-home to save the Earth -- but then you realize the Surfer is actually deciding to sacrifice himself for the sake of the Earth.

So it's all good. Overall I'd say 3 1/2 stars of 5.

It's fun ride!

Sunday, May 27, 2007

Holy Crap! It's an Oratorio... I think...

On the front page of the "BUZZ" section of the Sunday edition of the Toronto Star today:

"THE AFTERLIFE OF BRIAN: The film that delighted millions and shocked a very noisy few comes to a Toronto stage in the form of an oratorio, no less."

Inside there is a photo of Life of Brian dress rehearsal with Eric Idle, among others, standing in front of music stands, in plain dress... performing.

Dress rehearsal? This is starting to seem awfully familiar. What the heck is an Oratorio? I look it up. From the Oxford Dictionary: a large-scale musical work for orchestra and voices, typically a narrative on a religious theme, performed without the use of costumes, scenery, or action.

Holy Crap, I think. I'm doing an Oratorio.

A little backgroud: Superhero Live!, currently being released as 15-min audio Podcast episodes online at www.superherolive.com, is going to be performed in full "Live!" at the 2007 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival in August. The production is NOT going to be fully staged and there will be no sets, little costuming, and no stage-fighting. It IS primarily a musical work for band and voices. And, depending on how fervent the fan, Superheroes are a religion of their own.

I was wondering how the heck I was going to describe this upcoming production to the media in the days leading up to the Fringe. A live version of the radio-play? That sounds like it's a fully staged work. A staged reading? Well, no, because the work will be completely memorized, and the performance will be much more heightened than just a reading. A stationary musical? Not really--there's no singing. An audio comic book? That's okay, but it doesn't really say anything about the show...

"Oratorio"... now that sounds impressive. Established. Distinguished--classy even. Maybe I could call it a Rock-Oratorio in my press release. "I'm gonna produce an Oratorio," I thought; I was pretty damned impressed with myself.

Of course, there are major differences for what I intend to produce with Superhero Live!, and what an Oratorio is supposed to be. First off, an Oratorio is meant to be performed with a full orchestra. I have two musicians. Second, an Oratorio is meant to be primarily a musical piece and the plot/story of the piece is somewhat minimal compared to the music. Superhero Live! is very plot heavy, and the acting of the dialogue is central to the success of the production. And there is no singing. Oratorios are basically church-friendly operas, from what I understand.

However this will all be very useful to me when we start rehearsals and it becomes my duty to explain to the cast what I want this production to be in its "Live!" form. The musical score had to play an unfortunately-but-necessarily diminished role within the Radio-play format of the Podcasts. This was for the sake of clarity: without anything to look at, we needed to make sound effects much more prominent in the soundscape of the story so that the listener would be able to understand what the heck was going on. But the original intent of the production was for the music to be much more integral to the piece: it is supposed to be as integral to the plot as the dialogue... just a different way of experiencing the piece. In the live show, the music will be more prominent, and watching the musicians (and actors) perform will be one of the best things about the show... maybe even moreso than listening to the plot.

Is the play going to be a bunch of actors and musicians standing around and delivering their lines? Yes and no. The way our venue is set up and how I'm going stage the work is going to be intriguing to watch... or not watch, depending where you sit...

I won't say any more, as I don't want to spoil it months before the Fringe starts! You'll have come check out the show if you're interested to see what I've got up my sleeve.

So I suppose "oratorio" works as well as any other descriptor for Superhero Live!, which continues to prove itself somewhat un-classifiable. It is and it isn't.

What I know for sure, and what I'm excited to share, is that the "Live!" production is going to be it's own animal. It will be different than the Podcasts, an entirely different experience. It's going to be exciting, fun and an adrenaline rush.

I can't wait to see what people think!!!

Monday, May 21, 2007

Event Movies

On May 25, 1977, Star Wars opened and flipped the film-making industry on its head, 55 days before that, I was born.

There has been a tonne of focus in the media about Star Wars' 30th anniversary because that movie changed... well, everything about movies. The term "Blockbuster" didn't exist before Star Wars, the opening weekend wasn't the litmus test for the film's success, and merchandising was meant to support the movie rather than vice-versa.

There has also been a tonne of lamentation: George Lucas' destruction of the Star Wars franchise through his incessant profit-mongering. The destruction of the film industry itself since the focus has changed from story-telling to special effects and action sequences. There was a quote in the Toronto Star: "The danger is that the public buys into the concept of seeing event movies to the point where people don't want to see anything but event movies."

Well, sure. But isn't that what Hollywood wants too? Why else do they built the huge cinema complexes with digital surround sound and 10 story high definition screens? "Silver-City" was not built for art films from Quebec. Or any other kinds of movies, really. If I'm going to pay $15 bucks for a movie ticket (plus another $30 on a small popcorn), you're damn right I want to see an event.

It IS an event. The experience of seeing an event movie in the (newer) theatres can be awesome (as in awe-inspiring rather than just "cool"). When the story and characters aren't totally ruined by shallow writing... which does happen more often than not with event movies... the experience can be immensely satisfying. And this is not to say that non-event movies don't allow for that same experience. However many people would rather rent those other movies, or catch them on TV a couple years down the road, or download it and watch it on the computer. In my case, I'd rather go to live theatre.

Because what's the point of paying $15 bucks to see a movie that doesn't do the screen it's shown on justice?

I grew up with the Hollywood of today; I can't lament for the past because I don't know what that was. I expect to see trilogies and I expect cool special effects. My expectations are not any lower because I grew up with Star Wars; I get just as disappointed and disgusted when what should be a perfectly good quality franchise gets ruined by "artistic" choices determined by profit rather than creativity.

People usually categorize the event-movie by its mega-budget, its merchandising capability, and its franchising capability. But it's more than that. It's an opportunity for a community to gather. All the "Pirate" nerds, all the "Sci-fi" nerds, all the "Schwarzenegger" nerds, all the "Comics" nerds... they all can get together and identify with one another. "We all belong to this community, we are great in numbers and we are proud of our geek-dom."

I'd like to make event-theatre to be honest. This is a bit of an oxymoron, though, as the experience of seeing theatre is already an event even when you've gone to catch an experimental solo performance with no props. Because the theatre community is by definition a tight-knit local community. And, to be fair, we're mostly made up of former high school drama nerds.

Theatre franchises have yet to be tried... George F. Walker's "Suburban Motel" excepted of course. I'd like to try to create a theatre franchise. If I'm ever successful in doing it, I hope that my artistic choices will always remain artistic.

I hope my audience will hold me to that.

Friday, May 11, 2007

A note on Happiness

When I was 18 and living in Germany, I had a book of Plays called 10 Out of 10. It was a compilation of winning scripts over ten years for an American national playwriting contest for young adults (i.e. 18 and under).

Of course I submitted. I wrote a play called "Terrible Mistake" and it was a very dark piece about murder, rape, firebombs and suicide. It was my first play. It didn't win. (But it fit my age range very well!)

I lost the book in the move back home to Canada. One line from the whole book has always stuck with me, though; it was from a playwright's introduction to his work. He wrote:

"I am disheartened that Orsen Welles was only 25 when he made Citizen Kane. I am comforted that Samuel Beckett was 42 when he wrote Waiting For Godot."

(I maybe misquoting here, but I lost the book over 10 years ago... cut me some slack?)

Moving to Toronto, it has been a joyful-yet-surreal experience catching up with actors and artists that have also moved here from Edmonton, but came here near the beginning of their careers. It's interesting to see and hear where their lives have led them; it's interesting to observe how they seem to feel about their careers. Even within the confines of my own BFA class: from actors with featured roles in multi-million dollar Festivals to actors who have chosen to focus on their children instead of their careers.

When we were all training in "the Program," the powers that be warned us that despite the fact we were receiving some of the best conservatory instruction offered in the country (a fact that would pump up our respective egos even fuller with hot air!), not every one of us in the class would make it as an actor. I think we solemnly nodded our heads in affirmation of this glum reality... but secretly we all knew that this didn't apply to OUR class. We were the exception that would prove the rule: we were all going to be STARS!

As idealistic as we might have been back then, and despite the caution signs our profs were trying to show us, our self-deception was larger than anyone had realized: no one told us what "making it" was supposed to mean.

I'll give you an example: in 2004-05, my former theatre company (the Etcetera Theatre Collective or ETC, a physical theatre collective creation company) was having its most productive season yet. We had created two new works -- one of which was nominated for a Sterling award. We were preparing for a 5-city Fringe Festival tour in the summer. We were beginning to dream up plans for a subscription-based season of plays produced by various Edmonton-based independent theatre companies and co-ops. I was rehearsing for something in the Fine Arts Building at the University and I ran into one of my former profs. She was excited because a (more recently graduated) BFA alumnus was cast in a major musical production in Toronto. She gushed about how she loved hearing about the success of her former students... and then she caught herself and added, "And you! You've been doing well... haven't you???"

I wasn't insulted but was a little confused. Was this other gig better than what I had been doing? Was it better press for the department? Did it have more cache because it was a musical? A large production? Because it was in Toronto and not Edmonton? ... And why on earth was I feeling jealous?

I'm not a musical theatre guy. At all. In fact, the work that I was doing was exactly what I wanted to be pursuing, I thought. I was creating and performing in my own work. I was exploring alternative methods of producing and presenting theatre. I ws writing, directing AND acting. Yet there it was, inside me: the pang of Doubt.

Comparing oneself to anyone else is stupid; yet we all can't help but do it sometimes. I have to constantly remind myself that the measure of happiness can only be determined by juggling what I want with what I already have... in my life and not just in my career.

Having moved to Toronto, I am in the unique position of re-starting my career without wearing the same blinders of inexperience I had in my early twenties. This has forced me to look at what I want and need in my career vs. what I already have, and then redefine myself and my ambitions accordingly (... a process that is ever ongoing). I wrote a play. It's called Superhero Live! and it is different from most work I've seen and heard of. I secretly hope for an inflated budget and inflated cache of a Mirvish Musical for Superhero Live!... I doubt that it would be the correct path for this work, or for me to pursue in general.

... I could certainly use a Mirvish paycheque though...

The most famous actor in the world will meet up with his buddy from high school who has a stable marriage and three beautiful children. They'll sit down over a couple of beers and take a good long look at each other. They will both think to himself: "I wasted my life."

There will ALWAYS be someone who's doing better than you: cast in better role, is in better physical shape, has smarter or better looking children, has more hair on his head and less in his nose, was luckier in his career and was wiser in his life.

Right now, Brad Pitt is looking at Leonardo di Caprio and saying to himself, "That son of a..." (And vice-versa.)

Be happy with what you got. Be clear in what you want. Always remember: in the theatre, if it's not fun it's not worth doing. Enjoy your life; it's the only one you got.

Wednesday, May 9, 2007

New Beautiful Scientist?

This is a more utilitarian blog: I need an actor.

Superhero Live! is scheduled for a "Live!" production at the 2007 Edmonton International Fringe Theatre Festival, August 17-27. We're in a BYOV (Bring Your Own Venue) and are scheduled to do shows every night.

Amber Borotsik, the Beautiful Scientist, is unfortunately unable to reprise her role for the Fringe production. So I'm looking for a replacement.

Here's what I need:
- an actress with a similar vocal sound/style as Amber (listen to the podcasts at www.superherolive.com to hear what she sounds like).
- an actress that will be based in Edmonton from August 5-27.
- an actress that has a lot of vocal energy and likes to ROCK OUT!
- an actress that understands the needs of the voice and is able to protect it so that she endure 10 performances in a row of a two hour show.

I will be holding auditions on June 3 (Sunday afternoon). Send me an email at tibbitytalbs@yahoo.ca if you're interested. If for some reason you can't be in Edmonton on June 3, I will accept an emailed file recording of your voice. Sides are available upon request.

Thanks everyone!

Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Not everyone agrees with me...

Especially not my partner in crime, Shaun Mckee! He's a composer for Superhero Live! and plays the Bass Player.

I'm importing this blog onto my Facebook page (... yeah, I'm on Crackbook...) and Shaun had his own two cents on my review of SPIDER-MAN 3. Read on, superhero lovers, and see which side you agree with:

*** I should add that since Shaun's a notoriously slow typer, this original conversation was all mixed up because I would respond to Shaun's comments before he was finished typing them. I've tried to reedit so that it all makes sense. However I'm a biased editor, so if you think I'm winning this argument, it's probably because I made it to look that way... ;-)

K, I will play number 1 to Aaron's captain Picard. First Aaron's main problem with the movie, at least what i get from his review, is how Spidey is seen as a hero by the people of New York. Aaron you know I have read a lot more spidey comics then you and you seem to forget, the people of New York have always loved spidey. But the comics dont focus on that cause why bother, people who love spiderman dont make a good story.it is J. Jonah Jameson who hates Spiderman, and the daily bugle gives him all his bad press cause jj runs it. I should mention I am talking classic spidey here not ultimate by the way. Yes there have been points where spiderman has been public enemy number 1, but this is definetly not the status quo in the marvel universe. Just because spidey is villified in the media that does not make it the public opinion. Just take the american media and the Iraq war as an example.

Now don't get me wrong here I thought Spiderman 3 was definitely disappointing, I give it a 6.5 out of ten, but it must be said there is flashes of brilliance in this movie, and also flashes of wtf were they thinking. Some of the best sequences of the trilogy were in this movie, but some of the worst sequences also. I fucking hate singing and dancing in my movies. and there were three of these sequences for no fucking reason. Why the hell would you have peter dancing to show how badass he has become? Hi im peter im turning evil, now look at me dance? Raimi you fucking idiot. You hear peter say he is becoming more powerful, but why not show this instead of giving him a god damned emo hair style and having him dance.

I couldn't agree more! It was like watching a nightmare... I don't what they were thinking. And it's true there were some good moments in the film... but few and far between. Mostly they were great action sequences.

By far though my favorite moment from the screening I attended was after the big jazz club sequence and peter accidentally "hits" MJ, in what was I imagine supposed to be a powerful dramatic moment,a four year old boy sitting in the row ahead of me said " she deserved it". The entire theater howled with laughter as his mother in disbelief asked "what did you say" he repeated " she deserved it".

Weird: Some kid in our theatre in Toronto called her a tramp when she kissed Harry too. How come no one said anything when Spidey did the upside-down kiss with Gwen? That was BRUTAL! Nobody called Peter a Man-Whore.

Can you say double-standard?

See, my main problem in the film is not the fact that he was reviled -- I used that point to show that the film had totally departed from what makes Spiderman great -- how he suffers and perseveres. You're right -- you've read more Spiderman comics than me, but dude, all those New Yorkers were meant to represent public opinion in general -- esp. American public opinion and this was shown by the Spidey-pose in front of the stars and stripes. You're pretty generous with your rating... I'd put mine closer to a 3 out of 10 or less. I'm harsh because that movie was SUPPOSED TO BE GREAT. Same creative team, same core group that made the other two fabulous, and yet shit result.
But to be sure there were some things I liked:
1) Brilliant casting. Topher was awesome as Eddie Brock and Thomas Hayden Chuch looked like Stan Lee himself drew him (too bad the writers gave him a shit storyline though)
2) Acting was overall pretty good. Especially Topher, THC and James Franco (Green Goblin). The dialogue a lot of the time was shit, but the cast was talented enough to make it work most of the time.
3) F/X -- first spidey and green goblin fight was especially good. Venom looked suitably scary, they got the costume's alien appearance right, and Topher looked good with the crooked teeth
4) Peter Parker totally clueless -- at the beginning I was cringing with embarrassment with Peter's bonehead decisions about women and what not. That was great.
5) Bruce Campbell -- brilliant, again, nuff said.

I actually like everything about this movie except everything to do with Mary Jane which unfortunately is about 50 percent of this movie. And singing and dancing. Is that not why we did superhero in the first place, to make a musical without the singing and dancing?

Dude. Come on. What about that terrible sequence at the end with Sandman explaining himself to Peter? Long, boring and no need. It tried to make Sandman sympathetic, but instead it just made him unbelievable. What about the Butler coming out of nowhere and telling Harry how he cleaned Gobby's wound. Totally awkward plot structure -- and even if he did "clean the wound," how would he know it was a self-inflicted wound? The dialogue was terrible and the story was weak.

(But yeah -- we made SHL! so that you guys could rock out and I didn't have to sing...
But mostly to make a kick-ass story and hang out and talk superheroes and read comics and call it a business expense!!!)

Dude have you ever read a comic with sandman in it? That is the sandman character to a tee. And yes it may be unbelievable but we are taking about COMIC BOOK characters. Sandman was always a sympathetic character and for the last fifteen years he has been a hero not a villan in the spiderman stories. Hell he was even an Avenger for a couple of years.

And the butler, well yes that was simply a plot device to advance the story, because they dug themselves a hole and forgot a shovel.

To tell you the truth, the Sandman I'm most familiar with is the one from the 60's cartoon...
I still thought the plotline with the daughter was extraneous and I didn't believe him when he said he was "sorry" and "he didn't want this" at the end. I don't care if they are comic book characters. They still have to be believable.

I know but if you are familiar with the sandman character he is actually the most faithfully represented spiderman character in all three movies.

If Sandman is the most accurately represented hero, then he is complex enough to focus a whole movie on him and him alone. Lot's of moral questions to explore when you're fighting a villain who's totally ruthless and yet is justified by his actions (ie. his sick daughter). Problem is, they never explored that part of his character and sacrificed it for the other four story lines they were following -- Peter and MJ, Peter and Harry, Peter and the symbiote, and the Eddie Brock storyline.

Too much.

Yes too much because the studio forced Venom on him because thats what the fans wanted, was venom. I'm guilty for that and I know you are too. I wanted Venom, but not at the expense that we had to pay.

Yeah I wanted Venom, I wanted Venom real bad.

Like I said, Topher Grace was really good. My favourite moment in the whole movie was when he was praying to God, and asked him to "kill Peter Parker". That was a truly chilling moment.

But back to the plot holes: they didn't need the butler. If Harry comes in at the end, it should be to save MJ, and that alone. Way more interesting angle -- the unlikely team-up, and then you have another element to the fight -- if they are victorious, do they then fight each other????

Why redeem the Goblin? Why redeem Harry and Peter's relationship? Why go for the happy ending when tragedy is so much more interesting...

Happy ending? Dude he DIED. DEAD. Peter Parker's best and only friend in the whole world died, and thats a happy ending? Harry finally learned the truth about his best friend and his father, who was a raving lunatic who didn't love his only son, and died helping him save the girl they both loved and thats a happy ending? Just because Harry redeemed himself and finally made the right decision for the first time in the whole trilogy, does not make it a happy ending.He finally learned the truth and died to save his best friend whom he had despised for all the wrong reasons. I think thats pretty tragic dude.

Meh. I didn't care by the time Harry died, because the story had gotten all stupid by that point. Intellectually I see your point. Emotionally, I felt nothing. I didn't care. Sure he learned the truth about his father, but the way the story revealed this (like you said) was a plot device that was forced and, well, stupid.

They shot themselves in the foot. I really didn't care when he died, I didn't care that he forgave the Sandman, and I definitely didn't care that he got back with MJ. And that makes it a terrible movie.

I should add that I read a review which said the movie was crap before I saw it so I had zero expectations going in, while I am guessing you thought you were going to see the coolest movie ever, hence your huge disappointment.

Yeah... I was expecting brilliance. I heard mixed reviews too, but man, this was supposed to be good. It was the foundation of the comic book movie industry. It had the creative core that made #1 good, and #2 great. What the hell happened.

Overall I do not know who to blame the producers or Raimi. He has stated numerous time in the past he is a fan of the 60s comics and the 60s comics only. He does not like Venom and never wanted to involve him.He had the power to say look I am fucking sam the man let me make the movie I want to make. He should have stuck to his guns, introduced the suit and just left venom for number 4, especially since he and the cast have expressed zero interest in returning. w

Raimi co-wrote the film along with Ivan Raimi (his brother?) and some dude named Alvin. The two Raimi's are also credited with the story. I don't know man. I think they dropped the ball on this one. Maybe they were drunk with power, like George Lucas making the Star Wars prequels...

I think the first sequel to all the comic book movies seem to be the best: Spiderman 2, X-Men 2 were the best movies in the trilogies. So I still have hope for FF.

LOL I still think Xmen 3 was better then 1 and 2 put together, lol. Yes they may have been better dramatic movies but I dont watch comic book movies to get my drama fix, I want balls to the wall action and that was Xmen 3. The first comic movie without a silly love story for the girls.

Oh, I don't know, Shaun -- action is fine, but I think you like story too. Don't mistake romance for story. X-men 3 had a great plot and should have been just as good as 2, except they tried to do too much just like Spiderman 3 -- Dark Phoenix Saga, the Cure saga, the Death of Professor X saga -- it's like they're trying to condense all the best storylines told over years of publishing comic books into a single film, and then the movie suffers.
I think romance can work in comic book movies but it has to be done right, and you can't sacrifice action for the romance.

Yes but I refuse to dislike a movie for what it isn't rather then what it is. I know I get disappointed a lot when I see a movie for the first time and I have these great expectations for what I want to see, and it's usually starts off as "well in the comics......." I think that Xmen 3 Did a damn fine job of wrapping up its storylines and character progression of the first two movies and the movies alone. Aaron superhero movies are just like the Ultimate line, they are their own stories and theirs alone.Yes they draw INSPIRATION from some classic storylines but they are not adaptations of those storylines. XMEN3 took some elements from some classic stories but still managed to use all of them to tell its own story, and used it to create a satisfying conclusion that never contradicted what had come before. It all made sense. But you are correct that the same can not be said for spiderman 3.

You know what I wish they could have done with Venom? Make a Secret Wars movie. Then a movie with Spidey dawning the black suit in New York, and really REALLY make him go down a bad road, until he finally separates himself from it and THEN make a 3rd movie with Venom.
That's what I wish. Sucks to be me.

I know Aaron, that is why we need to be in the power positions in Hollywood. Let the real fans make the movies and not the suits that read comics when they were 10 and thought spiderman was neat.

Monday, May 7, 2007


WARNING: If you haven’t seen SPIDER-MAN 3 yet, and still want to go, stop reading right now…

I went to see SPIDER-MAN 3, Sunday evening. I felt like I was taking a chance, going on opening weekend but, surprisingly, there was no line up for the 7 p.m. show. When the commercials started at 10 minutes to, the theatre wasn’t even half-full. When previews finally ended (at 7:25!), there were still empty seats all around me.

I thought to myself: well maybe people don’t go to movies in Toronto. Maybe they like… I don’t know… plays? Concerts? Maybe they’re not as movie-crazy here as they are in Edmonton.


SPIDER-MAN 3 sucks. That’s it. And I’m so disappointed.

And to top it off… I think I just witnessed the end of “superheroes” dominating Hollywood films.

SPIDER-MAN was the cornerstone franchise of both Hollywood’s and (especially) Marvel’s superhero-movie industry. No one was doing it better (except maybe X-MEN 2). Character, style, story and F/X all seemed to come together in the SPIDER-MAN movies; Sam Raimi made great superhero flicks. He seemed to get it, while the others (Marvel and DC alike) always had the stink of producers fucking with it for ever-more profit.

Now SPIDER-MAN stinks the same way.

From start to finish, the movie tried to do too much, be everything to anyone who bought a ticket, rendering the movie meaningless to everyone who watches it. From the weird disco-strutting “bad” Peter Parker, to the deus-ex-machina butler who “cleaned your father’s wounds”, to the news-report telling the audience what they are supposed to feel watching the climactic final battle, to the Sandman blowing away into the sunrise as Spider-Man forgives him (and therefore forgives himself)…

“All we are is dust in the wind…”

If I start going into details about the movie I’ll never stop writing. I’ll give you one example that illustrates my point: the throng of cheering, adoring fans who think Spider-Man is number one... AT THE END OF THE MOVIE.

Yes, Spider-Man can be popular within his own mythology at certain points, and the movie was bang-on in this by having it feed his ego and making him screw everything up. We love this about Spider-Man because it shows how he’s fallible, just like us. However, in the comics, Spider-Man is continually vilified and generally disliked even after he vanquishes his enemies. He’s unpopular within his own mythology, and audiences love that about him.

Because he perseveres. He chooses to do good no matter what because it’s his responsibility to do so, because of Uncle Ben’s immortal: “With great power comes great responsibility.” He’s a modern-day Sisyphus.

In the first movie, Aunt May says to Peter, “You’re not Superman.” And she’s right. In this movie, though, the producers seemed to forget that, and tried to make him into Superman-with-a-spider-mask. Their transparency is highlighted by the “Spider-pose” in front of the American Flag, as the audience cheers him into battle (…and the news reporter telling us that people are cheering for Spider-Man... just to make sure that we got it.)

But it is the producers who missed the point: we love how Spider-Man is reviled. We love that he puts his responsibilities above everything else. We hope that things will get better for poor Peter Parker; we secretly love that he suffers. It makes us want to buy the next issue.

SPIDER-MAN 3 does not make me want to see the next movie.

And, now what hope does the rest of the comic book inspired movies have now that their centerpiece has fallen? I mean, I'm excited for the next FANTASTIC FOUR movie, but I'm a comic book geek and even I admit the first FANTASTIC FOUR movie wasn't very good. Who else but the geeks are going to support these movies?

And... when are the geeks going finally give up on them... because they KEEP SCREWING IT UP!


I get excited about these things because I have a vested interest in superhero-based entertainment being popular among the masses. I wrote a story about a superhero -- I called him "Superhero" -- and I want the superhero boom to keep on rolling. When I see movies like SPIDER-MAN 3, I have my doubts.

So I don't know what to tell you. Go see it so that they keep investing money into superhero stories? Don't go see it because it's not what makes superhero stories cool?

Maybe this... download the Superhero Live! podcasts and listen to how's it's supposed to be done...


Thursday, May 3, 2007

The beginning...?

Where to start?

My name's Aaron. I am a multi-disciplinary theatre artist originally from Edmonton, Alberta, Canada. I just moved to Toronto last month. I've trained at the UofA BFA (Acting) program and got my degree in 2001. I do collective creation, physical theatre, and I like multi-media. I also like comics... a lot.

I've been nominated twice for an AMPIA award ("best actor") in 2006 and in 2007, but apparently that doesn't mean as much here in T.O. as my BFA does. I'm getting more and more into writing and directing as my career progresses.

Now that I'm in Toronto, my career is either going to stall right out or I am going to start fresh and explode right out of the gates... Right now I am unemployed and totally broke. *sigh*

This blog has been started in support of my website:


What is Superhero Live! ???

Superhero Live! is an epic tale of heroism, adventure and… rock!!! The story of Superhero’s origin and first adventure is an eight-part mini-series developed for online delivery as 15-20 minute audio podcasts. It is a love song dedicated to pop culture and is action packed to boot!

...imagine Tenacious D in a head-on collision with Buffy the Vampire Slayer. Fans of The Mighty Boosh, you'll like this too.

Where can I listen to it?

Anywhere you like. (hehe)
Okay, here's where you can find it:
or (if you're on Facebook)

...there's a MySpace page too, but to be honest, I haven't updated it in weeks and weeks...

Beyond shameless self-promotion, I will try to post some actual ideas and thoughts on here once and a while too.

Another word about this blog. About 2 or 3 years ago, my good buddy Shaun told me that all he wants to do is wander the earth and spread righteousness. I'm gonna try to emulate that here.

"There are two kinds of people in this world: those who might imagine a whole other, fantastic reality from the world we know… and those who participate in that reality."
-- Shady Character (Episode 2)