Monday, June 2, 2008

Grayskull: Masters of the Universe Script Review

A+ (A Complete Miracle)

He reformed VOLTRON, put the Green Arrow in SUPERMAX, and now Justin Marks has the power of GRAYSKULL: THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE!

El Mayimbe here, hope everyone had a great weekend.

Since I read SUPERMAX (which IESB broke today as now being known as GREEN ARROW) a short while ago, I wondered whatever happened to Justin Marks HE-MAN. The deal was announced in Variety back in May of 2007. Well, last week, actually a year to the day the deal was announced, Justin Marks finally delivered his draft. In the words of Ain't-It-Cool-News Moriarty, Justin Marks is easily “the most gainfully employed professional fanboy on the planet right now.”

I managed to get a hold of the script on Friday and actually cancelled my plans that night in order to read it.

What’s the verdict?

Regardless of the post apocalyptic Earth controversy, I liked what Marks did in Voltron. He then knocked it out the park with Supermax, but folks, I am here to tell both you and MOTU fans – Justin Marks has delivered his fanboy masterpiece!


There have been a lot of rumors on the net circling Grayskull’s development process and please trust me when I tell you, DON’T BELIEVE THE HYPE! It’s all bullshit.

GRAYSKULL is LORD OF THE RINGS meets THE MATRIX and a little BATMAN BEGINS thrown in for good measure.

The script takes place in Eternia, not a middle Earth on Earth. It’s a hard and edgy PG-13 tinkering on a R. The script has ZERO CAMP or CHEESINESS. NO FUCKING ORKO EITHER! The writer takes the MOTU mythology very seriously. Whatever made the cartoon corny is not in here at all. In fact, there is not a single beat of comedic relief in the script.

What is GRAYSKULL about? We get both the origin of HE-MAN (or HE-MAN BEGINS), the origin of SKELETOR, and the origin of THE POWER SWORD. If Warners even remotely executes this script like they did 300 they will have a monster hit on their hands because this script leaves it open for a trilogy.

GRAYSKULL is the perfect marriage of Sorcery and Science fiction where in Eternia both Fantasy and Technology co-exist. The character arc of the hero ADAM works for me because like Bruce Wayne in BATMAN BEGINS, Adam has to overcome his selfish need for revenge and realize his destiny for the greater good of his people – the fallen son of Eternia must rise to occasion and become HE-MAN.

Ok, so let’s get right to it because I know you folks are here for the details.

Before the credits we get this kick ass opening prologue narrated by EVIL-LYN.

Four thousand years go in the workshop of Eternus we open on the powerful hands of a blacksmith forging steel from a raging fire. The hands raise the finished SWORD, an amazing mix of katana and high tech. It generates an OUTWARD LIGHT.

At the beginning of time, the blacksmith Eternus forged the Sword Of Light, a blade so beautiful that its spark created all life as we know it. After the blacksmith saw what perfection he’d built, he tried in vain to duplicate his mold. Eventually he fell into madness. Angered by his failure, he forged one last blade before he died. The mirror opposite of its original. The Sword of Darkness.

Instead of light, a dark void burns deep into the surface of this blade. Haunting and ominous.

We are next in an epic battlefield on Eternia.

Both blades, being born of magic gave amazing powers to anyone who held them. And so they were sought after.

On a hilltop plateau, a colossal army marches with enough feet to rattle the earth. Thousands of soldiers, all clad in high-tech battle gear. Think of something out of feudal Japan but poly-alloy and with a hint of alien texture.

Over thousands of years, the swords faced each other army times…

The leader of the army, a king we will come to know as GRAYSKULL (40s), stands at the front and raises the Sword of Light, which bathes his army in a majestic light. On the other of the battlefield: a different army emerges from the fog. Dark and intimidating. Monstrous, snarling BEASTS, augmented by a complex nano-technology that fuses their bodies with mechanical parts. Half monster, half machine. Their leader, a creature masked in thick armor, lifts up the Sword of Darkness. It spreads a black cloud over the army, fueling their bizarre technology with energy.

…until one battle changed it all.

On Grayskull’s side, the soldiers’ battle armor suddenly grows around them like a mechanical shell, encasing their bodies in a high tech metal poly-alloy. On the other side, the snarling beasts rise up, their hydraulic parts expanding and enhancing their size. The two armies run straight at each other and clash violently. Awesome advanced warfare. Mix high tech, swords, and otherworldly creatures and you have a sense of what Eternia’s all about.

King Grayskull squares off against the other leader. During the fight, he manages to defeat him and cause him to drop the Sword of Darkness. Grayskull picks it up and suddenly the two swords begin to fuse together.

It was King Grayskull who first realized that to stop a war between two sides, you had to bring them together.

Metal wrapping around, metal, sparks flying, like a fusion reaction, coils winding down the blades and suddenly and finally nestling at the handle which King Grayskull raises in the air creating a blinding light that spreads over the battlefield. Soldiers on both sides stop fighting and watch in awe.

In that moment, light and darkness combined to form a life-giving magic, subjugating everyone under it’s incredible power. So long as the king lived, Eternia never saw another war again.

We are next in a private chamber, where the much older King Grayskull lies on his death bed, surrounded by well-wishers.

But when his end came, his inner circle feared what no successor would be able to honor the balance the king had created.

Next at a table in the Hall of Wisdom (an ancient temple marked with stone ornamentation), a sacred site, sit six warriors. They are identified by ancient tribal tattoos on their faces. They surround the two swords wrapped in silk.

Six warriors, endowed with the magic of the blades, were trusted with separating them and burying each in a secret location. They were called the Masters of the Universe…

Three masters take one blade, three take the other. They embrace each other and go separate ways.

…and they took these secrets to their graves. For several generations the swords have remained hidden until now.

In present day Eternia at the Sands of Fire, EVIL-LYN (30s) a gorgeous seductress with the same markings all over her face that the Masters wore, has found the location of the Sword of Darkness.

Her companion, obscured in shadow and wearing a heavy hood, scans the terrain. His name is KELDOR (40s).

Keldor reaches for the sword. As his fingers touch it he suddenly undergoes a euphoric vision of dark wonders and endows Keldor with all terrifying forces of black magic. Keldor’s hands wither at the touch of this power. His skin begins to erode. Flesh turns to tissue and then to bone. Soon the sensation spreads to his arms, his shoulders, his face…literally tearing the skin from his bone. He madly clings to the blade as we smash to the main title card GRAYSKULL: MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE.

Weeks later, we are at Capitol City, the center of civic life in Eternia. A stunning achievement of a civilization that incorporates advanced technology and magic. At the Royal Palace, a colossal celebration is underway – the Anniversary of the Great Unrest commemorating Grayskull’s victory many centuries ago. YOUNG ADAM ( 14) is there – dirty blonde with striking blue eyes. He’s the kind of tough kid who acts first and thinks later. He is there with his father KING RANDOR (50s) –the kind of man you’d have to spend a lifetime living up to. They have a father son moment where Randor tells his son Adam that a true leader brings their people together, whatever their differences. Adam tells his dad that he is not that man. Randor looks down at Adam sadly and wonders if he ever will be.

Meanwhile, at the gates of the Royal Palace, two soldiers walk the palace grounds as fireworks explode in the sky. The first, with a face that has seen the horrors of war and yet still stays above it is GENERAL DUNCAN aka MAN-AT-ARMS (40s). The second is just as tough with battle scars all over his body – KRONIS (30s). Let’s just say Kronis betrays Duncan, knocks him out, and opens the palace gates. A heavy black mist pours through the opening.

Kronis and several Eternian guards stage a coup and try to kill King Randor. King Randor puts up a fight and evens the odds.

A terrifying and powerful presence enters wearing THE CHROME MASK OF A SKULL, clad in armor, a hood over his head, the Sword of Darkness mounted on his back, the man formerly known as Keldor…

…now known as SKELETOR.

Kronis fires a huge blast at Randor who drops to his knees. Randor tells Adam to run. Randor uses what strength he has left and slices KRONIS across the face who screams out and falls backward. MOTU fans know that Kronis will become TRAP-JAW. Skeletor stands over a weakened Randor then he suddenly plunges the Sword of Darkness into Randor’s back, killing him for good – our inciting incident. Adam watches in horror, tears forming in his eyes. Adam escapes and Skeletor gives the order to his goons to kill Adam.

Man At Arms helps Adam escape and instructs him to go to the frontier until the time is right. Skeletor’s dark army lays siege to Captiol City and it falls tragically like Troy.

Adam makes it to the edge of the frontier and collapses beside a cluster of trees on top of a hill. A FALCON perches itself on a branch above him. Majestic, dignified, mysterious . Wind picks up in the clattering of branches, we begin to hear a voice, speaking in a whisper, manipulating the sound of the leaves to shape a language. The voice of the SORCERESS. She tells Adam that his time is not over and shows him his future.

Suddenly, a violent gust of wind tears the leaves from the branches and causes them to float freely in the air, forming the image of CASTLE GREYSKULL.

A beautiful stone structure surrounded by a precipice. Epic in detail and a front face which resembles a GIANT SKULL, complete with a raised drawbridge where the mouth would be. The wind ceases. The leaves fall to the ground. Then the falcon spreads it wings and takes flight.

Days later, in a dust storm, Adam is rescued by ZODAK (40s) wearing heavy animal hides and high-tech gear strapped across his chest. A powerful black man, an experienced warrior. Across Zodak’s face and arms are several mystical tattoos similar to what the Masters wore earlier. Zodak belongs to the Order of the Masters. Protectors of the legacy of Greyskull.

For the next 10 pages or so, reminiscent of Batman Begins, Adam gets mentored by Zodak for the next seven years and turns the pampered 14yr old Prince Adam into a 21 yr old bad ass warrior. We get some more cool backstory which I prefer not to spoil. Basically, Adam has to prove himself worthy of the Sword of Light and to use the power of the Sword to create balance, to fight for something greater than himself. We find out that Keldor/Skeletor was actually King Randor’s brother…Adam’s uncle.

We also find out that the Sorceress is the only surviving member of the original Six Masters of the Universe. Now she is the protector of Castle Greyskull. If Adam can get the Sorceress to unlock the Sword of Light, he will be able to stand up to his uncle and take back Eternia. But first, Adam has to prove himself worthy and find Castle Greyskull which is well hidden. So the script also throws in a treasure hunt for good measure and executed perfectly.

The Masters once spoke about the Legend of the He-Man. A fallen son who would find the Sword of Light and unify his kingdom. Will Adam fulfill his destiny? Well, I guess we are going to have to wait and see what Warner Brothers decides to do. I hope to God they make this because you can see the effort it took over a year to complete this draft. The script is lean, mean, got no fat, no camp or cheese and is full of story and action. A special effects house is going to have a field day with the set pieces and battles that take place throughout the story. Like I said earlier, Warners executes this remotely like 300 – they have a monster hit and a potential franchise on their hands. My sources tell me the young execs behind Grayskull are MOTU fanboys that are passionate about this project and are really trying hard to take this to the next level.

Ok, so Silver Pictures took a bit of a hit with Speed Racer, so what? Silver Pictures has in their possession, a script that lays out the blueprint for a movie that is guaranteed to be a fanboy classic. All that made He-man corny, even that forgettable Dolph Lundgren movie is not here. MOTU fans get the movie they have been wishing for over 25 years. I got some bad news folks, unfortunately, pertaining to HE-MAN, since Silver took a hit with Speed Racer, Warners has been unresponsive to Silver projects.

Hands down folks, Justin Marks listened to the fanboys and wrote the next potential Lord of the Rings. Mr. Silver, Mr. Horn, and Mr. Robinov, I hope you are reading this. You would be insane not to at least look at this. Give this script to any creative exec in their early 30s at the studio and I dare you guys to tell me that I’m dead wrong about Grayskull.

Anyway, in spite of the writer’s strike, this has so far been a damn good year for scripts and GRAYSKULL: THE MASTERS OF THE UNIVERSE is already and easily in my top five. I would spoil a lot more but I hope the groundwork I presented today gets all you fans excited. It would be a disservice to spoil more but I leave you with this, the supporting characters.

Along with SKELETOR and EVIL-LYN, the bad guys are TRAP-JAW, TRI-KLOPS (Skeletor’s main henchman), and BEAST MAN. Skeletor’s evil cat PANTHOR is in here too.

The good guys that side with Adam along with ZODAK are MEKANEK, MAN-AT-ARMS, his daughter TEELA, and of course BATTLECAT. Battlecat is totally bad ass in this.


Bad guy vehicles? How about ROTONS, DOOMSEEKERS, and SHADOW BEASTS!

So there ya have it.



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Original here

Frank Miller Assures That ‘The Spirit’ Is Not Another ‘Sin City’

The SpiritIn an upcoming entry in his production blog, writer/director Frank Miller addresses some concerns that fans have that his upcoming adaptation of Will Eisner 1940’s comic book series The Spirit will be a retread of Miller’s Sin City movie.

After the film’s teaser trailer and outdoor banner were released last month, many people thought its look — black and white with a splash of red, placed against green scene sets — too closely resembled Miller’s co-directing venture with Robert Rodriguez on 2005’s Sin City.

But Miller confirms that The Spirit is actually a full-color movie, and that he hopes to make it into a movie trilogy all its own.

The director also said that with The Spirit movie, he is trying to do what Eisner, his mentor, intended by creating “something new, witty, and exploratory” and that it will not be just like Sin City.

[THE SPIRIT] only resembles SIN CITY in that I am its director, and, well, yes, I have my ways and my proclivities. Luckily, I was able to discern three important proclivities I share with the Master. We both love good stories. We both love New York City. And we both love beautiful women.

Another change that fans of the Eisner comic book series are concerned with is Miller’s decision to change The Spirit’s traditional blue hat, mask, and jacket to black. Miller explains that the Spirit’s original blue attire was the product of the limitations of pre-digital printing which necessitated everything in black be printed in blue.

Miller assures that in creating The Spirit’s look for the film, tests were run with the blue color, but that “the blue made the Spirit look like an unfortunate guest at a Halloween party.”

Going to black brings back his essential mystery, his Zorro-like sexiness. It also makes that red tie of his look very, very cool. So I made the call, with all respect to Eisner’s creation, and most importantly, to what I perceived as his underlying intention. It was an easy call for me to make. The Spirit dresses in black, and looks much the better for it.

Miller’s aforementioned blog posting will be at the film’s official site soon, but for now, SSH has the first look on the upcoming ninth entry.

Original here

That License to Kill Is Unexpired


The Bond films, like “Octopussy” (1983), with Roger Moore, have given the character a popular identity beyond the page.

IAN FLEMING, had he lived, would have celebrated his 100th birthday on Wednesday. James Bond, his greatest invention, is probably a bit younger, strictly speaking (the evidence in the books is a little contradictory) — except that Bond, of course, is ageless and immortal. Never mind those three packs a day; he has wind to spare. His liver, astoundingly, is still holding up. He has survived not only Fleming but Kingsley Amis and John Gardner, who, among others, kept on publishing Bond novels in Fleming’s stead. With a new Bond book just out — “Devil May Care” by Sebastian Faulks — there are now, in addition to the 12 Bond novels that Fleming actually wrote, almost twice as many that he didn’t.

In the movies, whenever a Bond shows the least sign of faltering, he is immediately unplugged and a new one wheeled in. Sean Connery was unforgettable in the role, and Daniel Craig has yet to wear himself out. His second Bond picture, the 22nd in the saga, called “Quantum of Solace,” whatever that means, is scheduled for release in November. But who any longer remembers poor George Lazenby, even though his sole Bond film, “On Her Majesty’s Secret Service,” was actually one of the best, or Timothy Dalton, whose two Bond flicks were among the worst? As for Roger Moore and Pierce Brosnan, they blend in memory into a sleek, somewhat ironic Bond — a little weary, you feel, from carrying all that history around.

Mr. Faulks’s new book, on the other hand, featuring a slightly weary Bond, improbably injects new life into the formula.

“Devil May Care” is in many ways a stronger novel than any that Fleming wrote, both because it’s better written and because it has all the Bond lore to draw upon. It’s a satisfying thriller in its own right, set in the early ’60s and beginning in Paris — very satisfactorily — with a man getting his tongue pulled out with pliers, then traveling to Iran and Russia.

But it’s also a fond and at times funny homage to all the other books in the series. Felix Leiter, Bond’s old American friend, turns up, only now without an arm and a leg after being tossed into a shark tank in “Live and Let Die.” The villain has one hand that resembles a hairy monkey’s paw, and his sidekick, an Oddjob-like character named Chagrin, has to wear a kepi because after an operation to render him a psychopath, his skull plate no longer fits. And the plot is full of little nods in the direction of famous Bond landmarks: there’s a crooked tennis game, for example, reminiscent of Le Chiffre as a cardsharp in “Casino Royale” and of Goldfinger as a cheater at golf.

At a certain level all the Bond stories are the same story. There’s the villain, the girl (in “Devil May Care,” the appealing and surprising Scarlett Papava) and the plot that threatens the end of civilization. Bond thwarts the first, sleeps with the second, gets beaten or tortured, and then reunites with the girl, often while still in his wet suit.

The movies are even more similar, and almost invariably include set pieces like the opening sequence with the gun barrel and the inevitable, flirty interview with Miss Moneypenny. What varies is mostly the escalating gimmickry of the gadgets, the special effects and the sexiness of the actresses. Ursula Andress, emerging from the waves in a bikini in the first Bond pic, “Dr. No” (1962), set the bar very high, and in some ways viewers have been jaded ever since.

But to a considerable extent it’s the series of Bond movies, one of the most successful franchises in film history, that have kept the books going, after a fashion, and not the other way around. In recent years neither the Fleming originals nor the knockoffs have sold particularly well, though Doubleday has high hopes for the new one and is printing an initial 250,000 copies.

Fleming lived long enough to see only the first two Bond movies, “Dr. No” and “From Russia With Love,” which happen to be the most faithful to his texts. Many of the others have little in common with what he wrote other than a title, and the Bond most of us think we know — suave, debonair, unflappable and, in his later incarnations, a little bland — is more nearly the movie character than the one Fleming invented.

Albert R. Broccoli, a producer of the first 17 Bond films, could be said to be a co-creator of this other, meta-Bond. It was he or his writers who made a trademark of the “Bond. James Bond” line, for example, and who insisted on the “shaken, not stirred” business. Fleming’s Bond is not nearly so fussy about what he drinks, as long as there is plenty of it. He’s as apt to slug down bourbon as a martini. This Bond is also much more fetishistic about smoking than he is about drinking and makes a point of ordering his cigarettes (with three gold bands on the filter) from Morlands of Grosvenor Street. (In a pinch, though, he’ll also smoke Chesterfield kings by the carton, and it’s little short of miraculous that he can climb a flight of stairs, let alone swim for miles, as he so often does.) He likes fast automobiles but hates gizmos, except for the odd concealed knife, and wouldn’t get caught dead with the laser watches, ejector seats, tricked-out cars and exploding key chains the movie Bond has been kitted out with, not to mention that embarrassing jet pack.

Fleming’s Bond also has a dark streak of world-weariness and melancholy we never get to see on screen. He’s casually racist (in “Live and Let Die” especially), misogynistic (giving women the vote encourages their lesbian tendencies, he believes) and anti-Semitic in a way that would never be permitted in the movies. And he’s far kinkier sexually than any of his movie incarnations. Good sex for Bond is sex that has “the sweet tang of rape”; when he first goes to bed with Vesper Lynde, in “Casino Royale,” we’re told, he “wanted to see tears and desire in her remote blue eyes and to take the ropes of her black hair in his hands and bend her long body back under his.” And in a surprising number of incidents Bond is beaten or burned around the genitals — most famously by Le Chiffre in “Casino Royale’ but also by Blofeld in “You Only Live Twice” — to the point where his potency is in question.

In all these respects Bond bears a more than passing resemblance to his creator, except that Fleming was a far nastier piece of work. He was born in Mayfair, London, in 1908, the second son of a well-to-do member of Parliament. Like Bond (whose offense was “trouble with one of the boys’ maids”), he was kicked out of Eton, and he dropped out of Sandhurst. He subsequently failed as a journalist and a stockbroker, and the war was his salvation. With few other qualifications than knowing the right people, he became assistant to the director of naval intelligence and eventually rose to the rank of commander (same as Bond), in charge of his own special operations unit.

After the war he returned, half-heartedly, to journalism and more enthusiastically to his main interest: womanizing. In 1952 he married Lady Anne Rothmere, with whom he had been carrying on during her two previous marriages. Their relationship was intense but not particularly faithful on either side, and it was based on a shared taste for what the French call le vice anglais. “I am the chosen instrument of the Holy Man to whip some of the devil out of you,” he wrote to her once, “and I must do my duty however much pain it causes me. So be prepared to drink your cocktails standing for a few days.”

Fleming died in 1964, a premature wreck done in by Bondian habits: 70 cigarettes and a bottle of gin a day. By then he looked, friends said, like a bloodhound who had been out in the sun too long. But the novels, which some of his writer friends, like Evelyn Waugh and Cyril Connolly, delighted in poking fun at, brought him satisfaction and a sense of purpose, not to mention a very nice stream of income. He wrote the first, “Casino Royale,” in just four weeks in 1952, and once he hit on the formula he never deviated, publishing a Bond novel a year until he died. There are better Bond books, and worse ones, but they don’t really evolve, any more than Bond himself does.

Brijest Patel for The New York Times

The author of the new Bond novel, “Devil May Care,” is Sebastian Faulks, above in his study in London. The first Bond novelist, Ian Fleming, worked for British naval intelligence during World War II and was concerned with devices like the German Enigma, an encryption device. The example at far left is part of “For Your Eyes Only: Ian Fleming and James Bond” at the Imperial War Museum in London.

At a certain level the Bond books are cold war fantasies, celebrating material comfort and diplomatic importance at a time when Britain didn’t have a great deal of either. When Fleming began writing, British families were still using ration cards and the Empire was mostly a memory. So the books were really wish fulfillments; they took British readers to places, like Jamaica and Haiti, where most of them could never imagine going, and on Bond they projected an image of competence and worldly wisdom.

The plots run as efficiently as Bond’s 4.5-liter Bentley, with scarcely a wasted word, but the books are also extravagant, with their over-the-top villains — Hugo Drax, Emilio Largo, Goldfinger, Ernst Blofeld and his creepy consort, Irma Bunt — and their parade of barely clad heroines so absurdly named they sound like lingerie brands: Solitaire, Tiffany Case, Honeychile Rider, Kissy Suzuki. You get the sense that Fleming — bored, cynical and out of sorts — wrote them to entertain himself as much as the reader. All of them were knocked off at Goldeneye, his estate in Jamaica (now a boutique hotel), with time out for cocktails and snorkeling.

The formula seems easy to imitate, but most of the Bond knockoffs are pretty disappointing. The dozen or so by Mr. Gardner are particularly bad; they’re clumsily written and manifest a regrettable politically correct tendency, giving Bond low-tar cigarettes to smoke, for example, and a Saab to drive. But even Mr. Amis’s Bond novel, “Colonel Sun,” which was published in 1968 under the name Robert Markham, is a little stiff and joyless. Mr. Amis, who also wrote “The Book of Bond, or Every Man His Own 007,” loved the Bond novels and wasn’t slumming when he agreed to try one.

If anything, he took the project too seriously. “Colonel Sun” is fussily written, without Fleming’s flair for sweeping generalizations, and the plot — a Communist Chinese scheme to wreak havoc on the Middle East — is literal and overly complicated. Even worse, the girl, a Greek partisan named Ariadne, and the villain, Colonel Sun, are dull and uninspired. The latter’s evilness seems to consist mostly of just being Chinese, or “a yellow slug,” as M., Bond’s superior, calls him. Mr. Amis doesn’t even do much with the sex scenes, which are of the “they had become one creature with a single will” variety, though he does manage a nice torture sequence, with the colonel, who scorns genital assault as “too unsophisticated,” preferring to drive a skewer through his victim’s eardrum.

Mr. Faulks is not a thriller writer but a highly regarded writer of literary fiction, probably best known for “Birdsong,” set in World War I, and “Charlotte Gray,” set in World War II. Both feature a certain amount of spying, though not of the Bondian sort. His last book, “Engleby,” is about a journalist who becomes a psychopath.

When Mr. Faulks was first approached by the Fleming estate, he “thought it was pretty droll, actually,” he said in a recent phone interview from London, where he lives. “I thought I was a very odd choice indeed, and I was amused by the whole idea.” But Mr. Faulks was between books at the time, so he agreed to reread the Bond novels, which he hadn’t looked at since he was a teenager. “They were quite a lot better than I thought they would be,” he said. “I wouldn’t say I was on the edge of my seat, but I did enjoy them, and I thought they were pretty well written, in a journalistic way — free of cliché. There are some very silly things, like the plot of ‘Goldfinger,’ and some of the names of people are just ridiculous. But on the whole my reservations rather evaporated.”

One key to a successful knockoff, he decided, was finding the right story, and eventually he came up with one that involved both the catastrophic cold war ominousness that Fleming so loved and the kind of specific crime plot that energizes the best of the Bond novels. In “Devil May Care” the villain is trying to undermine Western civilization by addicting everyone to cheap drugs. A subplot involves a rogue C.I.A. operative who wants to drag Britain into Vietnam.

“Mostly I just had fun,” Mr. Faulks said. “I wrote the book the way Fleming did — 2,000 words a day, except I left out the cocktails and the snorkeling.”

“Tuning into the style was the difficult thing,” he continued. “You have to hear the tone. That applies to your own book as well as to anyone else’s. And so finding that style, that pitch, was all-important. With Fleming, once I’d got his voice I developed a sentence structure that was about 20 percent mine and 80 percent his — plenty of verbs, not many adverbs or adjectives. The real danger was getting too close and then winding up in parody territory.”

He added: “I didn’t anguish, and I didn’t feel Fleming looking over my shoulder. The only difficulty I had was when I wanted to slow the story down, to allow a page or two for something significant to sink in. I thought that I could draw a little on Bond’s inner life, but I found that Bond doesn’t really have an inner life.”

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8 Classic Movie Robots That Actually Suck at Their Job

Basically, robots can make everything cooler, from wars to weddings. Hollywood knows this and tries, when possible, to give us what we crave in the form of kickass robots with kickass abilities.

Most of the time, though, these robots that look so cool on screen are so incompetent at their jobs, they'd have had better luck just sending a random intern to do it. Such as:

The Terminator

Terminator asks us to believe a computer becomes sentient and begins building an army of machines to wipe out the humans who survive the nuclear holocaust that the computer creates. Machines that look like kickass chrome skeletons with laser Gatling guns and shit, stomping across fields of skulls, grinning like Dick Cheney.

Then the computer, demonstrating child-like frustration at having only murdered about 5.8 billion people, sends a Terminator back in time to take out the most annoying human before he knows how to fight back. At this point a cocker spaniel-haired waitress and then her smart-ass kid, manage to outwit the thing three different times.

That alone should be proof of the laughable incompetence of the grossly misnamed Terminator. But it gets worse.

As witnessed in T3, Arnold Schwarzenegger's Terminator (a T-800) has a little battery thing in his chest that basically acts like a nuclear device when he needs it to. Why didn't the original, whilst crawling through the machines that eventually crushed it, just use that to kill Sarah Connor? We may never know.

You'd be tempted to call the T-800 the lamest possible Terminator, but in the sequel, Skynet sends back a super advanced T-1000. So advanced it has to be within reaching distance to kill someone since it can only stab. Apparently sending the terminators back in time with some kind of pamphlet on how to build an effective bomb was out of the question, as was programming them to not ask the name of their victim then stare at them for an extended period of time before slowly drawing a weapon.

The cruel irony of it all is, with an army of machines that incompetent, it didn't take John Connor to wipe them out. All mankind needed to do was find a hiding place until the machines accidentally killed themselves somehow.

ED-209 (Robocop)

Brainchild of the most sinister man in all of future Detroit, Dick Jones, the ED-209 is the most kick-ass fully-armored chicken ever. Inspired by anime and probably one or two video games, Eddie was a hard ass, even if he didn't work quite right.

So what's the problem? As a law enforcement robot, we're left to wonder, even if it didn't malfunction, what exactly was it planning on doing? It doesn't have hands, or any ability to transport people to jail. It just has giant machine guns. Was there actually a more peaceful way to end this scenario?

If these had been mass produced and set free in town, could they even issue traffic tickets or just blow the shit out of people who double park?

And, no, we can't avoid mentioning that the thing was ultimately defeated because it couldn't walk down a flight of stairs.

Ratchet (Transformers)

Notable for being one of the Transformers in Michael Bay's movie that isn't Bumblebee or Optimus Prime, making him essentially useless, Ratchet developed an extra layer of pointlessness when we found out he was the medical officer.

For a group of robots.

Arguably, any self-aware robot with some spare time and good sense would have skimmed through a few issues of Popular Mechanics or a Reader's Digest DIY home electronics repair book, maybe picked up a cheap set of tools down at Wal-Mart and been pretty much able to handle his own shit from then on.

Thus, in the only scene in which it seems Ratchet has something to do (which is try to figure out why Bumblebee has lost his voice), he shoots Bumblebee in the face with some kind of laser, confirms the other robot can't talk, and that he ain't doing shit to fix it.

Ratchet is the Cybertronian equivalent of man boobs.

R2-D2 (The Star Wars Universe)

Everyone loves good old R2. From the first time some witty scribe made a joke about him looking just like a garbage can back in the '70s, right up to today, he's one of cinema's favorite robots. This is probably due to the fact that, unlike the image C-3PO portrays which is something like a cross between Frasier Crane and a transvestite showgirl, R2 just beeps and tries to fix stuff.

R2 is so impressive that, apparently, no matter what changes were made in robotics technology between Anakin Skywalker's childhood up to his reign as Darth Vader, he didn't become obsolete. In fact, he's apparently better than all the other robots of his design. Not bad.

On the other hand, we're not 100 percent sure what R2-D2 is good at. Admittedly, in a jam, whenever there's a waist-high computer interface handy, R2 can plug in and unlock a door somewhere, but what is it he does out on the X-wing? Beyond idle chit-chat on a head's-up display, can't he only repair damages within about two feet of the hole he's jammed in? What if one of those crafty Imperials shoots a wing off? R2 is about as screwed as Luke at that point, we assume.

Thanks to George Lucas' creative tinkering/dipshittery in the prequels, R2 became retroactively more arbitrary and useless when we learned he could fly, something that could have come in handy many, many times during the original trilogy. You know, had Lucas thought of it back then.

That is of course the real problem with R2: He's just a little rolling Deus Ex Machina device, who can pull out the right tool in any random situation as though he were Inspector Gadget. When the same tool would be handy in dozens of other situations, it's never seen again. So either it's bad writing or R2 is in a union.

The SAINT Robots (Short Circuit)

Johnny 5 from Short Circuit was actually Strategic Artificial Intelligence Nuclear Transport number 5. Surprisingly, he was the least useless shit robot of the bunch. He had life going for him, and a family-friendly sense of humor. The rest were like little Henry Kissinger's on treads.

Designed to be soldiers and transport nuclear devices, the mind boggles at the potential horrors involved in that scenario if a lightning blast managed to fuck one up so badly it came to life. Your programming abilities have to be seriously lacking if that kind of shit happens. Worse, the remaining robots, that were apparently functioning normally, get reprogrammed into the Three Stooges in the span of about five minutes by Johnny 5.

Sure, he's a robot with some advanced abilities, so we can assume that the enemy, if they were to encounter one of these robots on the battlefield and, say, push it over then capture it, would have taken maybe as much as a week to make a Three Stooges bot out of it. It and its nuclear payload.

How the robots were intended to deliver nukes isn't made clear, but they really only seem capable of standard, remarkably unstealthy locomotion and can apparently be blown to pieces by regular munitions. According to the film, each robot costs $11 million, making one wonder how sending one of these little bastards with a nuke towards something would be more effective than say, a remote-controlled shopping cart with the same weapon stored inside.

Jinx (Space Camp)

The movie Space Camp convinced every gullible kid in the mid-'80s that going to Space Camp would be the most awesomest thing ever, while never once mentioning that they'd most likely end up in Huntsville, Alabama, sharing a dorm with 40 other children suffering from intestinal cramping brought on by a diet of grits and freeze-dried ice cream.

The movie also gave us Jinx, a small, apparently sentient robot who exists for no discernible reason other than to initiate what would be, in reality, the worst public relation crisis any organization has ever faced by launching children into space.

Despite leading us to believe a shuttle only takes a handful of children and a malfunctioning '80s robot to launch, the film raises a number of other questions. Mainly, who thought it would be a good idea to program a robot with all of the technical know-how to launch a shuttle, but to give it the wide-eyed personality and intelligence of a toddler?

Having artificial intelligence is all fine and good, but ideally you want to give your creation the ability to consider at least one of the hundreds upon hundreds of horrifying consequences that could occur as a result of its actions, before you let it roam around the rocket-controlling computers all willy-nilly.

Box (Logan's Run)

Logan's Run provided the public with not just a robot named Box, but a robot that was actually made from boxes with some kick-ass futuristic tin foil tossed in for good measure, plus some flexy vent pipe the producer's probably stole from a discarded dryer. Robotics is just that easy.

Box's job was apparently to freeze food, which seems easy if you live in a giant freezer. Most of the work is probably done for you. But even in this Box somehow fails, and instead, he just starts freezing people, possibly with that Braun hand blender and caulking gun, or whatever it is he's outfitted with.

When the shit hits the fan and Logan has to throw down against Box, who would have guessed that his wobbly, slinky-covered-in-tin foil arms didn't quite have the fortitude to put up much of a fight?

Watch in dismay as, even before the fight starts, the cold apparently affects Box's wicked arthritis and his left hand loses its grip, dropping its prop gun to the ground. Even with the addition of maniacal, drunkard laughter, we're left to wonder what the hell Box was good for.

The Sentinels (the Matrix Trilogy)

In the world outside the Matrix, the machines use Sentinel robots to kill those dirty buggers from Zion. Failing to learn from Skynet's mistake with the T-1000, once again the machines failed to create something that could kill people at a reasonable distance. Like, you know, a number of machines that exist today.

Judging from the climactic invasion of Zion in the third Matrix film, this vast intelligence intended to wipe out mankind entirely with hand-to-hand combat. No awesome lasers or face-melting technology, just slinky arms and the occasional giant drill. Their main plan of attack seems to be squiggling about in mid-air while being shot at and occasionally stabbing at people once they get in reach.

Watching the thousands of sentinels flailing around during the final attack, it appears the machines could have won the battle if they'd just aimed their tens of thousands of soldiers with, well, any kind of weapon. Some old civil war muskets they pillaged from a museum, or a basket of heavy rocks. It's not like the humans were wearing helmets or anything.

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