28
Jul
16

AU REVOIR, old friend

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I worked on B5 for 4 years but only had a few encounters with Jerry. We spent more time hanging out at conventions than on set, but what can I say? Anyone who knew Jerry for even a few hours probably has the same impression – a smart, charismatic guy, quick with a joke and always the life of the party (without ever trying too hard).

Here are a few of the personal moments I remember about the erstwhile Mr. Doyle:

– He was thrilled to be the only human to survive the series!
– During the after hours at conventions, he could always be found at a booth in the bar, nursing a stogie and holding court with as many women that could cram into the seats.
– We sat together once and compared our favorite details about the fairer sex. We both tipped a glass upon discovering we agreed 100%
– Jerry, myself and a small entourage ventured into downtown after the con (which city I don’t remember) to hit up a popular club. It was filled to capacity and the surly looking bouncer wasn’t letting anyone else in. Not one to be refused entrance to a good party, he got us all in by shaking hands with the gatekeeper in a suspicious manner and asking “how about making an exception for Mr. Franklin and his pals?”
– He once ran for local office in Los Angeles and listed one of his qualifications as being “the only candidate with his own action figure.”

If you’re laughing & smiling now, good – that’s the way he would have wanted it and I’m sure this is the way he’d want to be remembered.

Whomever he’s with now, they sure are lucky.

12
Jul
16

movie review: batman vs superman vs captain america vs the avengers

Ok, so clearly the movie events of the decade were the bringing together of our favorite comic book heroes in two mega-hyped films. The majority of the critics panned Batman VS Superman and liked Captain America: Civil War.

The problem is, they got it backwards.

Let’s start off at the drawing board of both movies: Marvel needed to have some sort of battle between Captain America, Iron Man, Black Widow, Antman, Spiderman, the black guy, the red guy and the guy with the bow and arrow.

DC had to focus on a conflict between two legendary characters, Batman and Superman.

Now, class, what’s the number one lesson they teach you in art school?

Less is more.

 

WHAT WAS GOOD ABOUT THIS ONE

WHAT WAS BAD ABOUT THIS ONE

The thing that made Captain America: Winter Soldier one of the best comic book movies of all time was that it was actually about Captain America. Captain America: Civil War is maybe 51% about Cap and 49% Avengers (its focus on Cap is loose at best – why they didn’t make this a straight up Avengers movie i’ll never know).

Another popular aphorism is too many chefs spoil the soup (or in this case, the super heroes). All those characters feel crammed into the movie just to lead up to a fight I never wanted to see in the first place. Maybe diehard Marvel fans thought this would be cool, but ultimately the story felt like it was trying too hard to get these guys on opposite sides of the fence. The focus on Captain America just wasn’t there – a big disappointment considering the first two films.

On the other hand, Batman VS Superman has been a mainstay of the DC universe since the dawn of comics, and something even the general public can easily identify with. Every human on Earth is pretty much born with the knowledge of who Batman and Superman are, and just the thought of these guys duking it out evokes memories of Ali VS Frazier, Holmes VS Moriarty, Kirk VS the Klingon, tastes great VS less filling.

But the Marvel version is like Donald Trump: Civil War featuring Donald Trump VS Ted Cruz VS Jeb Bush VS Ben Carson VS Chris Christie VS Jim Gilmore VS Lindsay Graham VS Mike Huckabee VS Bobby Jindal VS John Kasich VS George Pataki VS Rand Paul VS Rick Perry VS Marco Rubio VS Mark Santorum VS Scott Walker. Not exactly a classic confrontation we’re dying to see again.

You can argue that Batman VS Superman also brought along another character with Wonder Woman, but she was woven into the plot in an intelligent and mysterious way and wasn’t forced to fight the good guys (and at least the gratuitous scene where other DC characters have a forced cameo is mercifully short).

Furthermore, much of Supes VS Bats is based on what many consider to still be the best comic book of all time, Frank Miller’s genre-changing epic The Dark Knight Returns. Here’s a page so you can see how close the film came to it:

And here’s what it seems like Civil War is based on:

In addition, it can’t be ignored that both films have largely the same plot: the government and much of the general public are wondering if these “heroes,” who operate outside the law, are more of a menace than a benefit (featured is the collateral damage we’ve seen in their previous films).

In the various Avengers movies, yes, we’ve seen cities get pretty wrecked, but it was mostly by the bad guys.  However, in Man of Steel, half of Metropolis seems to have been devastated, much of it caused by Superman haphazardly flying through buildings and indiscriminately zapping things with his heat vision (in Superman II, at least Superman spent just as much time saving civilians as he did fighting Zod and his cronies). Why didn’t Superman just take the fight to the middle of nowhere?  Fans universally criticized this aspect of the movie.

And, much to our delight, this is exactly what is addressed at the start of the film!  We see a replay of the end of the battle in Man of Steel from a whole new perspective – by the people who suffered and died as a result of it.  The focus is on what Bruce Wayne witnesses, and his failure to get everyone out of the Wayne offices. This turns the most negative aspect of Man of Steel into a positive one and forms a largely single-minded perspective for the entire film: Superman may ultimately be too dangerous for this world and Batman is the only one who can stop him.

If I had to consolidate the plot of Civil War into a paragraph, I’d say the government wants to control the Avengers, which causes a rift between them. This leads to a ham fisted super-confrontation between people who are essentially friends and the whole thing just feels forced.

Neither film is perfect in execution – they both have faults and their fair share of dumb scenes – but I always excuse poor execution for a story that, at its core, is worth telling (Star Trek VI wasn’t perfect, but the basic story of a military establishment wanting to prevent peace at all costs was admirable).

Now while I felt pretty much all of Civil War was a disjointed mess of conflicting tone, Batman VS Superman was consistent until the very end, when it fell into the groan-inducing cliche of good guys get together to fight a really BIG bad guy (in this case, Doomsday was randomly pulled out of nowhere).

WTF WAS HE EVEN DOING IN THIS MOVIE??

Likewise, Civil War ended with another Big Man On Campus, this time with AntMan turning into ridiculous Giant AntMan (I don’t care if it’s been done in the comics, in the movie it was just plain ridiculous).  Unfortunately, in a major contradiction to the plot, this final battle also results in millions of dollars of collateral damage and essentially destroys an airport (and some 747s). At least much of the battle at the end of Superguy VS Batdude, most of the damage is held to a pier, some very angry fish and one disappointed nuke.

Again, the nuke scene is directly quoted from the classic Dark Knight:

Whereas giant AntMan:

Ultimately, both films are imperfect and have their own fans, but after viewing each, I walked out of Civil War underwhelmed, bored and confused, and after Batman VS Superman I was pretty much along for the ride until the last ten minutes.

Why did the critics – and many of the fans – see it differently?  Maybe you can help me understand this in the comments below!

 

Click here to see how you can help Mojo!

 

 

12
Jul
16

reposting a classic: STMP “Pon Far” Edition

This was taken off of it’s original link on YouTube, but here it is on a new link (I had some requests for it):

The story behind it:

While we were working on STMP: The Director’s Cut, we were fast forwarding through a cut of the original film and examining the visual FX shots.  Well, while you are zipping through it, you really get a sense of just how much time was devoted to people staring at the viewscreen with incredulous looks on their faces. “It looks like they’re watching a porno movie,” I observed.

And the idea was born.

It may seem like a simple edit, but it was more complex than it looks.  First and foremost, I had to choose a scene from a movie that had no obscene dialog – I wanted the short to be suggestive but not outright perverse; good luck finding THAT in an X-rated movie (I had to do a lot of, um, research).

Next, I needed a scene with enough random audio cues (like moans and other, shall we say “interesting” sounds). Also, it also couldn’t have any music in the background, since I knew I would be editing the scene down from 15 minutes to about 4, and interruptions in music are far more noticeable than in dialog (or whatever you want to call it).

Once I had the right audio track, the rest was easy – I just cut in great reaction shots of the crew to match the audio (my favorite is Ilia’s look during an especially loud female moan). The final touch was a bit of cheesy boom-chicka-boom-boom porn music in the background and voila!  After about two days of work in my free time, a classic was born.

And it was convention safe!

 

Click here to see how you can help Mojo!

12
Jul
16

it’s alive!

Howdy folks (at least those of you who are still tuning it). Yes, it’s been a long time since I updated, but yesterday I was reading some of my old posts and thought “gee, this thing was pretty good!”

I’d like to just say “I’ve been busy and life got in the way,” but we all know that’s felgercarb. Yes, some of it is life, some of it work, but mostly I’ve just been at a party on the beach!

(more on the real story down below)

 Back in the olden days, I was using all my free time to make each in-depth, lengthy post (they take 3 to 4 hours each) and once I started a new job it was tough to devote that much time to it (and I could never bring myself to write the cracker-sized posts of the average blogarino).

But I’ve still got stories to tell and stuff to show so, fingers crossed, I’ll start posting again soon (however, if you look me up on Facebook, I do sometimes put some goodies up there (look up Adam Mojo Lebowitz)).

In the meantime, dear reader, I could use a little help from those of you who have followed and appreciated Darth Mojo over the years…

For much of the last twelve months, I’ve had some health issues that I’m happy to say are finally being resolved.  I’ve relocated to Boston for a variety of reasons (not least of which is the best health care in the country) and I’m excited to soon re-enter the workforce.

However, this also means that lately I’ve had the income of a small garden Gnome (and not a particularly hard working one) so I’ve been relying on friends – and some friends I never knew I had – to give me a hand with getting myself up and running.

I’ve been scraping together some sheckles here and there on GoFundMe and while it may seem like a healthy amount, keep in mind it’s lasted me for the last six months. I’m pretty close to my goal, and I figure if I reach it, I’ll have enough to tide me over until my first paycheck.

I haven’t reached out to my blog readers yet so, here goes!  After all, if Darth Mojo was a sci-fi magazine (and I humbly suggest that my posts are essentially magazine articles) you probably would have spent maybe $100 on it over the years!  So, if you’ve enjoyed what you’ve read here and liked the music I’ve posted (like my Ferris Bueller soundtrack and the Sci-Fi dance mix), why not chip in a few bucks?

https://www.gofundme.com/p8fk64hv

And I PROMISE, for every $100 I raise I’ll make a new post. Fair enough? And as a show of good faith, I’ll make a brand new post right now.

Thanks, and May the Force Be With You!

 

PS: Several people said they prefer PayPal – contact me and we can work that out: DarthMojo at Gmail.

 

08
Nov
15

THE ORIGINAL

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(Without the beam that someone added in the new “best of” book).

Interesting fact: this is based on a scene that was cut from the one and only Ron Moore “Voyager” script, a moment where Borg cubes were supposed to be hovering over a forest, searching for renegades.

The image of trees is an actual photo of a forest that had been decimated by acid rain. Although the credit for the image was given to Steve Burg (an extremely talented man), it was actually conceived and rendered by MOJO.

Steve’s primary involvement was helping me with the near-impossible task of compositing the cubes behind the trees… without his Photoshop help I never would have finished the shot! I remember the late night as his place… We played around with various Photoshop tools until it finally worked :-)

Why was the shot cut? I have no idea. They routinely cut VFX shots from Voyager as being “too expensive” before ever even asking the crew that would be doing the work. It just took a long time for them to finally shake the “motion control & miniatures” mind set – but they finally got on board with what CGI could do for them with the amazing two-part epic “Scorpion.”

I have plenty of stories about the FX for that episode…

30
Mar
15

ROOT BEER FLOAT REVISITED

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Not too long ago it was Pie Day here in the states. That means it was March 14, otherwise known as 3.14. People all over get together, bake pies and share the sugary goodness. I was lucky enough to be invited to such a gathering by my long-time good buddy Chairman, yet I didn’t feel my pie making ability was up to snuff (read: I have never made a pie). So what do you bring to a party of delicious desserts when you don’t bake pie?

Root beer floats!

That’s right, friends: I dug up the old ingredients for the Mojo Float (Bulldog root beer and Haagen Daz Dulce de Leche) and brought them to the party. My secret plan: to steal the pie show with root beer floats!

As I began making the floats and started passing them to the crowd, I was greeted by the same reaction from everyone: WTF? Why are you giving me a root beer float? Who cares? “Just take a sip…” I would suggest. A few seconds later, I pretty much got the same reaction from everyone:

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People liked them. I won. Case closed. TRY IT.

08
Nov
11

Newtek’s 3D thursday throwdown

If you’re a visual effects groupie (or just enjoy gawking at really cool, Emmy-Award winning eye candy for a couple hours) you’ll want to make your way to beautiful downtown North Hollywood on Thursday night at 6:30.  That’s where Newtek (makers of Lightwave 3D, the ground breaking computer animation software that started the CGI revolution) will be sponsoring a night of glitz, glamor and space ships.  And you are invited!

Continue reading ‘Newtek’s 3D thursday throwdown’




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