Tuesday, May 27, 2008

Casting The King of Kong Remake

As if once wasn't enough, New Line is doing a fictional remake of The King of Kong! It's listed at IMDB, but you need premium membership to get any info. (Oh, come ON, guys, you're killin' me!) Fine, then, we don't need your stinkin' info, we'll make some up!

So over on the official King of Kong boards, there's been a little discussion going on about what Hollywood actors could fill the roles of the various people featured in The King of Kong. I've been giving it some serious thought, because it seems rather challenging, and I'm ready to present my conclusions. I included the real people below for comparison where I could get them. I'll fill in the rest later, but unfortunately, my copy of The King of Kong is on loan to a friend. And now, the results of that trial...

Steve Wiebe
I was really stuck on this one for a while, but my best friend, Kanadani (who also created the awesome new header you see up there - thanks, Kanadani!) NAILED IT with Nathan Fillion.

Steve Wiebe, Nathan Fillion from Firefly (and Slither, which I just revisited this past weekend)... and yeah, I threw Christian Bale in there too, because I wouldn't complain. Just sayin.

5/29: G4's Attack of the Show aired an interview segment with Steve where he mentions that Greg Kinnear, Jason Bateman, and Nathan Fillion are being considered for the role of Steve Wiebe. He's cool with any of those. I am too, but I still think Nathan is BY FAR the best choice.

Billy Mitchell
This may be the toughest casting choice of the entire film, though the BBC is evidently way ahead of us here. You want somebody who can pull of larger than life attitude (and Fabio-grade hair) convincingly. Rumor has it that Ben Stiller may be interested, and I could definitely see that working. On the other hand, Colin Farrel always has a plan...

Walter Day
James Cromwell might be able to take a stab at this, though he's perhaps a bit tall.

Unfortunately, two strong contenders have muscled James Cromwell out of this role (his agent will hear about this!). Strader on the Picturehouse forums recommended Roberts Blossom, the old guy from Home Alone, and Robert M. recommended Steve Smith, of the Red Green Show.

Roy Schildt

If Ahhhhhnold isn't available, let's go with Matthew McConaughey, but only the version straight from Reign of Fire...

Robert Mruczek

Jon Heder. Just pretend that figure skating movie never happened.

Brian Kuh

Steve Buscemi may be way too old to play this role, but I can literally hear him doing it, and it would be perfect.

Steve Sanders

Nicolas Cage. They both have that laid-back sort of likeability to them. Understudy: Ian Ziering of 90210 fame.

Evelyn Mitchell
The role of Billy Mitchell's wife belongs to Jennifer Tilly.

Nicole Wiebe

I'm tapping Hillary Swank for this one. Why not, right? She's totally cool.

Mark Alpiger - the guy who plays Crystal Castles (Crystal) with his feet

Aaron Ruell, aka Kip Dynamite. If not this role, he belongs in there somewhere!


Here are a few more for the mix.

Doris Self
Robert Mruczek over on the official forums suggested Linda Hunt for the role of Doris.

Greg Bond (the Mappy champion)
Kanadani threw me another great choice, for the role of Greg Bond - David Koechner, from Anchorman.


Todd Rogers
An addition that would really make this movie complete would be Ron Jeremy in the role of Todd Rogers...or Steven Segal if Ron's busy on another Surreal Life season.

Joel Hedge
After meeting the Czar of Xybots at Funspot X, and given the sizeable contribution he made to the DVD extras, I wanted to add him to the remake mix! One Keith Gordon is our choice here.

Other people who belong in there somewhere

Uncle Rico (Jon Gries)

McLovin!!!! (Christopher Mintz-Plasse)

Neil Patrick Harris (as himself)

Alright, New Line, get to it! If anybody has additional suggestions, let's hear them!

Tuesday, May 20, 2008

You Got Your Portal in My Rock Band!

Dammit, I can’t do it! I can’t get a perfect on Still Alive! /smashed guitar on the ground

I’ve come SO CLOSE, so many 99% runs due to one stupid note here or there. Not hard notes. EASY NOTES. Blitzkrieg Bop I can practically do with my eyes closed, but the sweet, sweet lullabye of the companion cube eludes me. I’m not eating. I’m not sleeping. The kitty litter needs changing. How did it come to this?

One of the countless little clips my co-workers forwarded on to me back in the day was an acoustic version of Baby Got Back. Comedy gold. That was before the first-person shooter/puzzle game Portal hit the scene. So I appreciated Jonathan Coulton back then, but had no idea what was in store.

Admittedly, I never played Portal, only experienced it vicariously, but nevertheless fell in love with the end credits song. At work we would fire up YouTube and play it regularly. Take a listen.

Now, Guitar Hero/Rock Band. Everyone knows what a revolution that was, on the level of what Nintendo did with the Wii. Harmonix is actually in my neck of the woods, and I used to work with some of those guys, so I have that extra vested interest in learning to play competently; Guitar Hero and Rock Band were staples in our company game room. Since Rock Band came out, I’m a decent medium-level guitar player, but there’s no way I’ll ever be able to do 5 keys. And drums – forget it, not even on easy. My brain just can’t process that, and I accept my mental limitations.

And then came the announcement that the Portal song was going to be available as a free download for Rock Band. ZOMG!!!! I’ve been playing it ever since. My 2 year-old can sing it practically word for word, if that’s any indication of how many times I’ve tried to get through it.

I WILL get a perfect on the Portal song, if it’s the last thing I do. Sometimes I feel like I’m actually getting worse at it, though.

Tuesday, May 13, 2008

The Missed

You say Stephen King movie and immediately, my perimeter alarms go off. What is it about King movies? They’re either phenomenal and moving (Shawshank Redemption, The Shining, Stand By Me) or just awful drivelly train-wrecks (Dreamcatcher, Desperation). The Mist got my hopes up, and then dashed them on foggy cliffs of poor taste.

I’m not a big reader of King, I’ve read The Stand (enjoyed it), and that’s it. I’m not crazy about his mode of writing. This isn’t about Stephen King, though, he did his part in this case, he wrote the original story with a FINE ending (so my husband tells me). This is about the attempt by director Frank Darabont to be “edgy.” Oh, it was edgy, I guess. In an unrealistic, unnecessary, and mean-spirited way. But I’m getting ahead of myself.

So we put the kids to bed, and start watching The Mist. I’m digging it, despite my reservations on the hit or miss nature of King movies. It was Lovecraftian in a way that I liked much better than any film attempt at Lovecraft so far (see, Lovecraft, that’s more my style of reading, that and The Name of the Rose…ok, and Harry Potter). The religious fanatacism was a tad over the top, but so far so good. The movie drew me in, and I was thoroughly enjoying myself, disbelief suspended, eagerly waiting to see what would happen next.

And then the ending came along, that nasty little pointless ending. Mr. Darabont, why did you have to do this to us? If you haven’t seen The Mist yet…do yourself a favor: when 5 people are in the car and they see a giant behemoth slouching its way towards Bethlehem…STOP THE MOVIE. That’s the actual ending that King wrote.

If you want to see why I’m irritated enough to post about this, keep watching. Not to ruin the ending but...oh wait, they already did. The actions that this film portrays a parent taking at that particular moment, I’m sorry, I can’t suspend my disbelief that far. No parent would take that ultimate step unless imminent threat was present, and at that point, there was no imminent threat. I'm not sure if I'd feel the way I do had I seen The Mist before having children of my own, but I think even then it's evident bad taste.

Now, had the car been utterly swarmed by monsters, and the outcome seemed inevitable, ok, then I can buy it, but instead, the shock decision comes at a relative lull in the action. You have to create justifiable cause, and that was not done. And to add insult to injury, rescue arrives on the scene seconds later…the other wrong choice. That’s not shocking, that’s just mean. If you ARE going to have your heroes off themselves at the end, paint a bleak ending like that, and leave the main character to deal with his reality, that’s fine. The film could have ended with an overhead pan up from the car, until it disappeared into The Mist, without knowing that help ever came. I’m a fan of apocalyptic films, and that would have been a fine ending, too.

Neither of these options was chosen. Instead, our hero makes a ridiculous choice, and then gets a cosmic one-finger salute moments later for it. That’s horrible! This “shock” was almost done as an afterthought, just shock for shock’s sake. I guess the reason I’m so annoyed by the whole thing is that the rest of the movie was really good, and if a non-director like me can come up with two viable alternatives to end the film darkly but smartly, well then so could a director.

So Frank (can I call you Frank?)... we all make bad choices in life, and I guess I forgive you. Just don’t let it happen again, OK? I’ve been hurt before…Tack.

Friday, May 9, 2008

I <3 The King of Kong

It’s my current mission in life to make you see The King of Kong. If a movie ever deserved word of mouth, it’s this one. And so far, nobody I’ve watched it with is disappointed.

In a nutshell, The King of Kong is about a fight for the top score on the classic arcade game, Donkey Kong. I’ve played Donkey Kong, and I SUCK at it, but everyone who’s ever dropped a quarter into an arcade machine should see this movie. Or even if you haven't. It deserves an Oscar. Go throw it in your Netflix queue right now.

I’m not sure my friends are quite as fanatical about the film as I am, but I’m an utter gamer geek. As a kid, I had a book on Pac-man strategies and dreamed of pulling off the “donut dazzler.” As an adult, I swear one day I will have a Ms. Pac-man table-top machine in my basement. I started off with the Magnavox Odyssey II and the Atari 2600, and have fond memories of many a birthday party hosted at Aladdin’s Castle. I would sit on my bed, eating bacon bits and reading the latest Nintendo Power, and get excited about every trip to the grocery store, knowing that Crossbow and Wizard of Wor awaited. The King of Kong is the documentary I was born to see.

I recommend you watch the movie before really delving into what the story is all about, it’s so much more interesting to be drawn into it gradually, to watch it unfold without knowing the ultimate end. That’s how I watched it, and afterwards I declared it the feel-good movie of the year. Then I watched the extra footage, which you will also need to do. Another great thing about this scenario is that it’s not over (do NOT go to http://www.billyvssteve.com/ until you’ve seen the movie, if you can help it).

Another thing, if you get G4 tv, you CAN catch the world tv premier on June 1. Then afterwards you'll go out and buy it.

There’s a narrative remake of this movie being done for New Line by the director, Seth Gordon. I dug up a really excellent interview with him on that at http://thefilmlot.com/interviews/INTsgordon.php. I'm not sure how I feel about a remake. As the interview points out, the real-life characters are stranger than fiction here. Oh for sure, I'll go see it though! I'll have to do some thinking about what Hollywood actors ought to reprise those roles. Again, I advise you to see the film first before reading that full interview. Spoiler alert!

The creators of this documentary did a fantastic job of polarizing the rivalry of these two classic video game players, and making you care, and that's why this film succeeds. They'll tell you how the story was there to begin with, but like Michelangelo chipping away at a block of stone to reveal the work of art within, it took skill to weave the tale for us in such a compelling manner. You can see the results if you visit the official forums. Unlike many of the forum posters there, I appreciate Billy for what he’s done for this film, though I’m wrestling with an extreme inner conflict at the moment. To buy the hot sauce, or not to buy the hot sauce? I’m torn, I don’t know if principles allow me to cross that line and contribute to the evil empire...

But back on the subject of emotion, this story wouldn’t be remotely as entertaining as it is if Billy weren’t the way he is. Would Steve Wiebe be as endearing if he were up against some other equally likeable guy? Hell no. Every hero needs a foil. So really, I consider Billy the villain I love to hate. As was the case with Watership Down’s General Woundwort, I’m guessing it’s a monument that would not displease him.

Oh and by the way! If you pay attention to the end credits, you'll see two shots of Asheron's Call 2. That's one of the games I worked on, and actually implemented a handful of quests for prior to its closure in December of 2005. I was there to the final second, playing music with the community members of Thistledown as the servers winked out. /shout out from Ramen to my AC2 peeps!

Read about other geekumentaries in my Top 10 Geekumentaries article.