Archive for April 18, 2020
If you watched The Circle earlier this year and then recently started your Too Hot To Handle binge, you probably wondered...is that narrator the same woman from The Circle? The voice sounds similar and the style of jokes are almost identical.
In both The Circle and Too Hot To Handle, the narrator plays an important role. She is there to play the role of both host and audience, a generally faceless voice providing context and hilarity in one fell swoop. In foreign iterations of The Circle, the host's visage is never revealed to the audience. In the U.S. version of The Circle, we saw Michelle Buteau at the very beginning and during The Circle reunion in the last episode. Her constant commentary throughout the episode was needed, since the contestants were isolated in their own rooms - wouldn't that be terrible? - and forced to communicate with one another through technology. That is not the case with Too Hot To Handle. The contestants in the latest Netflix hit dating show are all over each other, to a certain extent of course. Still, the adaptation of the faceless host persists.
So is the host of Too Hot To Handle Michelle Buteau? No. It's another comedian, Desiree Burch. This is the job for a comedian, rather than a typical TV host who may be more of a household name. You can hear a comedian's writing in many of her one-liners. Burch loves poking fun at Haley for her romantic feelings for Francesca. She expresses contempt for the men and women who act in unsavory ways and applauds the women who stand their ground against the men whose sole purpose is to have sex.
As is often the case with a new show, the host is hardly the most prominent character in the story. But by being invisible, Burch has become one of the most relatable hosts on television. She is us, watching at home, cringing at the things that come out of Harry's mouth and cheering for Chloe for not succumbing to physical temptation. She interjects often because we are too, behind our computers, questioning many of the actions we witness on screen.
While Burch and Buteau are different and incredible at their jobs in their own way, they represent a potential path forward for reality shows looking to break through into the mainstream. Someone as straight as Chris Harrison wouldn't cut it on a show like Too Hot To Handle, because part of the fun is laughing in the ridiculousness of it all. That's what makes hosts like Buteau and Burch so successful in their respective roles. No matter what happens, they're always in on the joke.
Eddie Redmayne has been the face of Newt Scamander since the Harry Potter film series branched off with a spinoff, but a few other big names were also considered. Fantastic Beasts and Where to Find Them served as a spinoff and a prequel to the original work by J.K. Rowling. The 2016 film, and subsequent sequels, are based on the 2001 “guide book” of the same name featuring a British "magizoologist" at the lead. Rumors swirled that Redmayne was the first and only choice to play the famed wizard Newt but that probably wasn't the case.
Newt was the author of the guide book used for first-year Hogwarts students. For Fantastic Beasts, Newt served as the central figure prior to his fame. He was a magizoologist researching magical creatures for his book. Newt traveled to nearly a hundred countries before making a stop in New York City during the year 1926. Upon his stop-over, some of Newt's creatures escaped causing him to get assistance from a no-Maj. Newt also got swept up with the MACUSA, and one of its employees, Tina Goldstein, who also happened to be his future wife. Newt then returned for the sequel which focused on the wizard teaming up with Albus Dumbledore in taking down the Dark wizard, Gellert Grindelwald.
Casting for the first Fantastic Beasts film launched in mid-2015. There was a ton of speculation regarding who would be the perfect fit for the lead role. The plan from the beginning was for a multi-film franchise so whoever they cast, had to be in it for the long haul. Rowling was heavily involved in Fantastic Beasts, writing the script, and of course, having a say in the casting process. She, and many other crew members involved, felt that Redmayne embodied the role since it looked like he was already plucked from the 1920s. Though Redmayne was the frontrunner, the film had its eye on X-Men star Nicholas Hoult for the role of Newt. Many fans had no issues with those two choices but another name received even more buzz.
Coming off of playing the Eleventh Doctor on Doctor Who, actor Matt Smith was in pretty high demand. A few tabloids put out the notion that Smith was up for the lead in Fantastic Beasts and Harry Potter fans were elated at the prospect. Smith had an interest in the project and he was considered for the role but it's unclear if the actor ever officially auditioned. More than likely, rumors spread like wildfire and the casting director acknowledged those rumors but nothing came out of them. That certainly didn't stop adamant fans from creating petitions and casting campaigns.
Redmayne was later deemed the pick to play the lead, and there's no question that the actor already had Newt-like qualities. He was also very familiar with the Harry Potter series and Rowling's wizarding world. Before getting the role of Newt for Fantastic Beasts, Redmayne auditioned for the teenage version of Tom Riddle. It would certainly be odd to imagine Redmayne in a villainous role now that he's currently playing a wizard with one of the biggest hearts in the franchise's history.
It's currently a tough time for both comic book shop owners and customers, but Kevin Smith made things a little easier for his customers at the Secret Stash. Smith made an incredible gesture at his comic book shop, as he revealed he paid for the outstanding balance on all of his customer's outstanding pull lists.
Smith, best known for directing films such as Clerks, Chasing Amy, and Mallrats, and more recently Yoga Hosers and the Jay and Silent Bob Reboot, as well as hosting a handful of podcasts, including Fat Man Beyond, SModcast, and Hollywood Babble-On, has been a comic book shop owner since the mid-90s. He owns the comic book shop Jay and Silent Bob's Secret Stash (featured on AMC's Comic Book Men) - where he paid off all remaining pull lists for his customers.
Kevin Smith and Fat Man Beyond co-host Marc Bernardin aired a new episode on their podcast on Friday, where Smith revealed he cleared and paid for the pull lists at Secret Stash. On the podcast, Smith (around the 10:20 mark) said he spoke to Secret Stash employee Michael Zapcic and asked him to clear the entire pull lists for his customers. Smith said that he was inspired by Venom writer Donny Cates, who recently paid off the entire remaining balance at his local comic book store in Austin, Texas. Cates suggested those who had their comics paid off to spend their money on something they could get due to budget concerns - like a new board game, try out a new comic series, or get something for a friend.
It's an incredible gesture for Smith to make. He's taking his own money and spending it to give his customers free comics. In a time where people are stuck at home quarantining as they wait for the spread of COVID-19 to stop, providing them with their comics that they might not have been able to afford given the circumstances is profoundly cool. It's also important to mention Cates' gesture as well, because he had no intention of making it public. He just wanted to help out his local comic shop and pay it forward. The comic industry might be in a standstill at the moment (although there are positive signs it's slowly returning) but with gestures like Smith's and Cates, people will have access to their comics at home. Kevin Smith cares about his customers and the comic industry and proved it. It's an amazing move and hopefully, more comic creators will be inspired to do the same thing.
Source: Bleeding Cool
James Bond’s iconic gun barrel opening sequence has become synonymous with the character of 007 himself – and has been reimagined just as many times. With the onscreen arrival of Britain’s greatest spy in the early 1960s, movie-goers were witnessing the birth of a truly legendary action franchise. Along with his explosive theme music, James Bond arrived with sweet rides, famed one-liners, and highly-specific shaken not stirred Martini preferences in tow. And alongside the gadgets and cars came one of Bond’s most identifiable trademarks: the gun barrel sequence.
From the opening titles of his first adventure, Dr. No, 007 has introduced himself to audiences with a confident strut and a fatal shot to the camera — all framed by a would-be assassin’s gun barrel. Since that first dynamic introduction, the sequence has become a staple of the Bond franchise, signalling the arrival of every Eon-produced Bond film since.
And while the memorable sequence has only ever lasted a few seconds, its history is richer than one might think. With each new era of Bond, filmmakers and leading men have put their spin on the gun barrel opening, often paying homage to the films that came before, and sometimes entirely overhauling the whole thing. With the 25th Bond movie, No Time To Die, set to appear in November this year — following its delay due to coronavirus — what better time than now to review the most memorable character introduction in action movie history.
The first film of the franchise, and a fan-favourite, 1962’s Dr. No saw 007 take on the eponymous villain in a stunning Jamaican setting. But the tropical locale wasn’t the only Bond trademark introduced in the film. Before Sean Connery even utters his legendary introduction, audiences are greeted with the first ever gun barrel opening. While it has now become a renowned piece of cinematic history, the creation of the original sequence was actually a fairly low-tech affair.
Designed by film title artist Maurice Binder, the sequence starts with a single white dot, moving left-to-right across the screen until it’s straddled on either side by the names of producers Harry Saltzman and Albert R. Broccoli. Working in a time before CGI, Binder actually used small white stickers, intended to be price tags, to create this simple design feature. Accompanied by some crude computer sounds, which Binder said he acquired from a “little old lady in Surrey,” the dot then moves to the right and the iconic gun barrel opening unfolds.
In this first iteration of the sequence, Bond enters from the right as the gun barrel motif emerges around him, creating the impression that 007 is the target of an unknown shooter. Binder managed to recreate the rifling of a gun barrel by using a small pinhole camera to take an actual photograph of the barrel of a pistol — widely thought to be a .39 caliber. This particular image would remain part of the sequence for an impressive 32 years, before Pierce Brosnan’s first outing as Bond in 1995 used computer graphics to reinvent the intro.
Bond’s suit and hat combination would also remain a staple of the sequence for the next ten years, mirroring contemporary design trends until a far more informal Roger Moore would stride on-screen in 1972. This Simmons opening would be used for the next two Connery films: From Russia With Love, and Goldfinger. Only in 1965 would Connery appear at the end of Binder’s barrel, when the opening was recreated in color for the release of Thunderball. The fourth Bond film’s use of Panavision’s anamorphic format necessitated a new, widescreen intro – though the white dot and barrel design was maintained. The lead actor did, however, switch things up in terms of performance, foregoing Simmons’ pre-shot jump, staying in the center of the circle, and taking a lower stance when pulling the trigger. The new Connery sequence would appear in black and white at the start of 1967’s You Only Live Twice, and was reused again in 1971 for Connery’s return to the franchise in Diamonds Are Forever.
The close of the 60s saw the arrival of a new Bond, with Aussie George Lazenby taking on the title role in 1969’s On Her Majesty's Secret Service. A new 007 meant a new gun barrel sequence, and while Binder’s original design was kept, Lazenby’s take on the intro was wholly original. Accompanied by the subdued tones of a Moog synthesizer, Lazenby strolls onscreen before becoming the only Bond to ever kneel while shooting his weapon during the famous opening. His entrance is also notable for its strange tracking effect, whereby the camera keeps moving as the actor turns, making it appear as though he’s walking on some sort of invisible treadmill.
On Her Majesty’s Secret Service’s gun barrel sequence is also the first and only instance of the blood effect actually erasing Bond from the center of the frame – a fitting design element considering Lazenby would never return in the role following his one outing.
The opening of 1972’s Live And Let Die featured the relaxed gait of a new James Bond played by Roger Moore, who enters the frame surrounded by Binder’s familiar gun barrel design, but this time sans hat – a first for the franchise. With George Martin’s take on the Bond theme playing, Moore introduces yet another first for the sequence as he fires the fatal shot with both hands gripping the gun. The Man With The Golden Gun would use the same footage in 1974. The Spy Who Loved Me sees Moore striding onscreen against an off-white background in a tuxedo with flared pants, making Moore the first actor to reshoot the gun barrel sequence during his time as the leading man.
It wasn’t just the attire that changed with Moore’s second gun barrel appearance: this updated version is notable for being the first time the prop gun isn’t actually fired. Prior to this, the guns used in the footage emitted a visible puff of smoke, but for Moore’s second time in the crosshairs, he simply turns to camera and a shot is heard before the frame freezes. The subsequent James Bond movies Moonraker, For Your Eyes Only, Octopussy, and A View To A Kill would all reuse this footage before Bond was once again recast in the mid-80s.
After the light-hearted Roger Moore years, Bond was ready for a more austere reinvention, and Timothy Dalton was the man for the job. Swinging the gun towards camera with one hand, Dalton’s dinner-suited take on the classic introduction shares a lot in common with the original Connery version. Though the hat doesn’t make a return, Dalton brought back the actual firing of the weapon during the gun barrel sequence. That familiar puff of gun smoke can be seen, larger than ever, in the gun barrel sequence for 1987’s The Living Daylights. The same footage would also be used for Dalton’s only other outing as Bond in 1989 – Licence To Kill.
1995 gave viewers Pierce Brosnan’s super-suave take on the super-spy, with GoldenEye ushering in the age of the computer-generated gun barrel opening. Designed by title sequence artist Daniel Kleinman, GoldenEye’s CG gun barrel still pays homage to the original design, with the reflections in the barrel riffling mimicking those of the Binder barrel. Brosnan also arrives much like his predecessor, clad in a tux and wielding his pistol with one hand. This time, however, the filmmakers added a muzzle flash to the gun, with the blood following over the kill shot appearing much darker than previous iterations.
The new Bond’s arrival is also accompanied by the film’s unique, synth-laden score, marking the beginning of a trend that would see Brosnan’s 007 appear without the main theme in all his gun barrel sequences. Love it or hate it, the film’s gun barrel sequence heralded a new age in the Bond franchise, and Serra’s novel musical accompaniment certainly signalled that change.
With 1997’s Tomorrow Never Dies and 1999’s The World Is Not Enough reusing this same intro footage, Brosnan’s Bond wouldn’t get a revitalized gun barrel opening until 2002 when Die Another Day hit theaters. Rather than overhaul the intro completely, director Lee Tamahori opted to add in a CG bullet. As Bond turns and fires, the bullet shoots directly at the camera and presumably down the barrel of the opposing gun.
In keeping with the 2000's trend of doing grounded takes on action heroes, Bond’s 2006 outing was to be a decidedly darker affair than its predecessor; the new direction Casino Royale was headed was established by the film’s gun barrel sequence. Daniel Craig’s first Bond film is also the first to completely do away with the original Binder design in favor of having the entire gun barrel sequence happen within the narrative of the film. Having just beaten the living daylights out of a henchman and trashing a public bathroom in the process, Bond bends down to retrieve his pistol and deliver the kill-shot. Once he makes the 180-degree turn and fires a round, the gun barrel motif surrounds him. But this time, it’s a completely overhauled CG design that shifts quickly in and out of frame as an entirely new blood design cascades down the screen. While Binder’s 1962 white dot design is nowhere in sight, there is a significant link to Bond film history with this being the first black and white gun barrel opening since 1971’s Diamonds Are Forever.
The bruised and rugged Bond at the end of Casino Royale’s gun barrel was a symbol for the forthcoming film’s unrefined aesthetic, and signaled a shift in the franchise’s direction for the foreseeable future. But Binder’s now-iconic 1962 design wasn’t out of the race just yet. 2008’s Quantum Of Solace stuck with the damaged Bond of Royale, but resurrected the classic white dot motif from erstwhile Bond films. Yet again, the gun barrel was redesigned, this time more closely mimicking Binder’s initial snapshot, while a business-suited 007 fires off a shot with one hand.
But perhaps the most striking thing about this version of the sequence was that it appeared at the end of the film. Yes, Quantum Of Solace marks the first time in franchise history that the gun barrel opening isn’t an opening at all. This is a trend repeated in 2012 with Sam Mendes’ Skyfall. Once again, Bond’s gun barrel walk-on is reserved for the closing moments of the film, and this time there’s a few more subtle throwbacks to Bonds past: for the first time since the Roger Moore years, there’s no visible muzzle flash or gun smoke – just the sound of a shot going off. With Skyfall’s attempts to backtrack on the gritty character of the previous two films by reintroducing classic Bond tropes such as the Aston Martin and Q-Branch, it’s not surprising this film would see a return to a more traditional gun barrel sequence.
This fondness for past Bond eras would come full circle with 2015’s Spectre. The gun barrel itself was once again redesigned for Mendes’ follow-up, and looks much closer to the original Binder barrel. This time, Craig’s Bond is silhouetted against a background with a slightly yellowish hue, recalling the off-white tone of the character’s early color sequences. After 24 Bond films, the franchise had returned to its roots in both tone and design, with Maurice Binder’s original vision still proving effective almost 60 years later.
Steve Rogers is the man most associate with the mantle of superhero and Avenger Captain America. But fans may be surprised to learn that he isn't the FIRST Captain America in the history of the Marvel Universe. That honor goes to a hero whose adventures predate even the country after which he is named.
Unlike most other versions of Captain America, the Captain America of the Revolutionary War is canonical, having been referenced more than once in the main Marvel Universe (otherwise known as Earth-616). First created by Jack Kirby himself, this Captain America made his first appearance (appropriately enough) in Captain America's Bicentennial Battles #1 in June 1976, and made his latest appearance this year in Ruins of Ravencroft: Sabretooth.
Steven Rogers of the Revolutionary War was an ordinary soldier, a skilled, fit fighter, but with none of the enhanced capabilities of his descendant. He fought alongside the human mutate Ulysses Bloodstone, and Wallace Worthington, and battled members of the Hellfire Club. He wore a distinctive red, white, and blue uniform, and carried a shield not unlike that of his super-enhanced descendant (although his was wrought of regular iron). While not much else is known about his origin and backstory, Ruins of Ravencroft shows this Captain America fighting in one of the last battles of the Revolutionary War, and subsequently being killed by an exploding cannonball.
The canonization of a Captain America during the Revolutionary War does make some small wrinkles in Marvel history. While the Captain America moniker isn't officially given to this Revolutionary War character, his garb and shield are highly reminiscent of the Captain America with which we're all familiar. Additionally, this Captain America would seem to exist before the United States of America existed (perhaps explaining why he isn't identified by name). The biggest question left remaining is whether THIS Steven Rogers is in fact related to the Steve Rogers who later becomes the Captain America we know; modern-day Cap is the result of World War II experimentation, and is the child of Irish immigrants. As marvel.fandom.com hypothesizes, perhaps at some point Rogers' family traveled from the American colonies, back to Ireland, and then immigrated back to America, but this seems highly suspect.
While Captain America's Bicentennial Battles was published in 1976, the story about Cap's supposed ancestor was perhaps written as a piece of patriotic fluff to celebrate a monumental anniversary in the country's history. With Ruins of Ravencroft, that side-story is made canon, a legitimate piece of Marvel history. As the established origins of our modern-day Captain America run counter to what we now know of his Revolutionary War predecessor, future stories could perhaps clear up some overarching questions.
However, now that this Captain America IS an official part of the Marvel Universe, opportunities abound to explore other heroes and characters from that period (something which the Ravencroft series is already currently doing), enriching the already fantastic and thrilling Marvel Universe.