I think I might still have one of these.

I can remember going to McDonald’s with my dad after seeing Star Trek: The Motion Picture (1979) in the theatre and getting a movie-themed Happy Meal — the one with the transporters on the front, I think. (It’s the one on the top left in the video below.) I believe I might still have the Happy Meal box somewhere among my still-packed items here, and if I’m lucky, I might still have the plastic communicator with comic-strip roll that came with it.

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One thing I did not know, until I read this item at TrekMovie.com tonight, is that ST:TMP was the first movie to get a McDonald’s Happy Meal tie-in. Learn something new every day.

Ten thousand here, one million there, and pretty soon you’re talking real history.


I have to review 10,000 B.C. next month, so I figured I might as well see the similarly-titled One Million Years B.C. (1966) last night — and I have to say, I kept staring at Raquel Welch’s eyebrows. Yes, her eyebrows. I know she has other assets, too, but they didn’t seem remotely as anachronistic or implausible to me as those perfectly manicured lines above her eyes.

Of course, the two films presumably don’t have all that much in common, beyond the similarities between their titles.

One film takes place in truly prehistoric times, with cavemen and dinosaurs somehow occupying the same timeframe, whereas the other film — based on what we see in the trailers — seems to take place in the earliest days of civilization, with cities and temples and the elaborate social and physical structures that go with that. (I don’t know where the new film takes place, but cities like Jericho and Damascus are believed to have been inhabited as early as 9,000 B.C. and 10,000 B.C., respectively.)

What’s more, One Million Years B.C. has no intelligible dialogue — everyone speaks in a “prehistoric” language — whereas the most recent trailer for 10,000 B.C. indicates that the actors in that movie will probably speak English. And in a weird sort of way, that difference alone almost makes me want to take the Raquel Welch movie more seriously than the other movie.

As cheesy and stupid as One Million Years B.C. may be, the lack of modern dialogue gives it a sense of “otherness” that helps to transport the viewer back in time, whereas I suspect the dialogue in 10,000 B.C. will sound hopelessly modern, no better than the lines that were spoken by The Rock and friends in The Scorpion King (2002). And let us not forget that 10,000 B.C. is directed by Roland Emmerich, whose Revolutionary War film The Patriot (2000) featured such absurdly anachronistic exchanges as: “May I sit here?” “It’s a free country — or at least, it will be.”

And speaking of Mel Gibson movies, the trailer for 10,000 B.C. makes the new film look like Apocalypto (2006) with CGI mammoths — and Apocalypto, of course, also benefitted from foreign, ancient-sounding dialogue, even if the dialogue was undercut at times by modern colloquial subtitles. So that’s one more comparison that doesn’t work in 10,000 B.C.‘s favour.

Incidentally, the night before I watched One Million Years B.C., I happened to see Jason and the Argonauts (1963) on the big screen — and both films feature visual effects by Ray Harryhausen. That was purely coincidental, and in fact I had forgotten that the Raquel Welch movie featured his work, but it was a nice surprise to see his name in the credits again, twice in two nights.

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A first time for everything: A book meme.

I don’t think I have ever done anything quite like this before, but Carmen Andres at In the Open Space “tagged” me, so… Apparently there is a Book Meme making the rounds, and it works like so:

  1. Pick up the nearest book (of at least 123 pages).
  2. Open the book to page 123.
  3. Find the fifth sentence.
  4. Post the next three sentences.
  5. Tag five people.

The nearest book to me at this very moment in time happens to be the 1978 edition of The Book of Lists by David Wallechinsky, Irving Wallace and Amy Wallace — a paperback that I put on the table next to my laptop to keep it out of my kids’ hands. Page 123 has only seven sentences — I assume the list of interplanetary statistics doesn’t count — so if I have to type out sentences six to eight, I’ll steal the eighth sentence from the top of page 124:

Uranus is the first “discovered” planet, found by accident in 1781 by William Herschel, an amateur astronomer at the time. When the German chemist Martin Klaproth discovered a new metallic element in 1789, he named it for the new planet: uranium.

Neptune was the first planet whose existence was predicted theoretically before it was discovered.

Now comes the part where I tag people. I hereby nominate:

  1. Betty Ragan at Maximum Verbosity
  2. Geosomin at The Supposed Golden Path
  3. Jeffrey Overstreet at The Looking Closer Journal
  4. Magnus Skallagrimsson at The Shining Path
  5. Matt Page at Bible Films Blog

In Jeff’s case, if he doesn’t want to give away any spoilers from the books that he is working on, I would say he can limit himself to material that has already been published. Since the rest of us are working with published page numbers, that only seems fair!

Newsbites: CleanFlicks! Kong! Rambo! Trek!

Here’s another batch to get you through the weekend.

1. Christianity Today reports that CleanFlicks, the firm that edits Hollywood movies to make them safe for families, has filed a $1 million lawsuit against Daniel Thompson, who was widely reported to be a co-owner of the company when he was caught in a sex scandal a few days ago. The company claims that Thompson has “harm[ed] the firm by illegally claiming a business relationship with the firm and infringing its trade name and trademarks.”

If this claim is accurate, it is curious that CleanFlicks did not sue Thompson for trademark infringement a few years ago, when he was being quoted alongside CEO Ray Lines as though he were a representative of the company in stories such as this one.

It is also kind of funny that a company which has, itself, been sued by the studios for infringing on their properties would now be suing someone else for infringing on its own trademarks.

2. The South Florida Sun-Sentinel reports that Billy Mitchell, one of the two “co-stars” of the documentary The King of Kong: A Fistful of Quarters, has not seen the film itself but, based on what he has heard and read about it, he claims it leaves out some important facts in order to make him the “bad guy” of the story:

Challenger Wiebe, for example, “did not surpass my [Donkey Kong] score, contrary to what the movie would have you believe,” Mitchell said. He hasn’t spoken with Wiebe since the two met at Rickey’s, Mitchell’s Hollywood restaurant, in 2005.

But he said he bears Wiebe no ill will, and he maintains that they had more friendly interaction, both competitive and casual, than the filmmakers let on.

A parallel story in the same newspaper adds:

The dispute sets up Wiebe for a second, official run at the record, and presumably a face-to-face showdown with Mitchell. This is where Gordon has left out a bit of back story for the sake of the yarn. A viewer will get the distinct impression that these foes have never met until an on-camera encounter at an arcade-game warehouse in Pompano Beach. But according to Mitchell (see accompanying article), he and Wiebe actually did play Donkey Kong side by side at an earlier meeting in California.

That’s all very interesting, if true. But at the same time, there is no question that Mitchell behaves within the film in a way that is oddly defensive and arrogant and so on and so forth. He couldn’t have been such an effective “bad guy” within the film if he hadn’t actually played that part, to some degree — though as Sun-Sentinel writer Sean Piccoli notes, Mitchell isn’t really a bad guy, per se, he’s more like the Apollo Creed to Steve Wiebe’s Rocky Balboa.

3. Reuters reports that the government of Myanmar, AKA Burma, has banned the new Rambo movie. I can’t imagine why.

4. Speaking of Rambo, the British film Son of Rambow made a splash at Sundance over a year ago, and at one or two other festivals since then, but it hasn’t come to regular theatres yet. Why the delay? Legal matters, it turns out. Reports Variety:

After a year in legal limbo following its splashy $7.5 million acquisition by Paramount Vantage at Sundance ’07, “Son of Rambow” is finally ready for release.

Vantage has reached a compromise with StudioCanal in their tug of love over this quirky little British movie by writer/director Garth Jennings.

Vantage has sold certain U.K. rights to StudioCanal’s Optimum Releasing; and the French major has dropped its objections over the pic’s use of material from “Rambo: First Blood,” which it owns as part of the Carolco library.

Optimum, whose topper Will Clarke was after the movie from the start, will now send it out wide in early April. Vantage goes a month later in the U.S. with a platform release. Both hope it could be a leftfield Brit break-out in the vein of “Billy Elliot.”

It was a tough call for Vantage to give up the movie in its home territory — where it stands the greatest chance of success, and where its performance will set the bar for Par’s distribution in the rest of the world.

“Everything we did, we did because we love the movie and we want to get it out as soon as we can,” explains Vantage prexy Nick Meyer. . . .

5. Did yet another Star Trek XI actor let slip yet another spoiler? TrekMovie.com reports that Anton Yelchin, who plays Chekov in the new movie, said something in a recent interview about “seeing the Klingon warships” during the special-effects shots. For a while now, it has been said that the villains — including a guy named Nero, played by Eric Bana — will be Romulans, but this is the first time anyone has said that there will be Klingons in this movie.

Just for the record, Klingons have made appearances in all but one of the previous Star Trek films, the single exception being Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan (1982) — although even there, footage of Klingon warships was used during the Kobayashi Maru test at the Academy, and Khan himself quoted a Klingon proverb.

So if the Klingons do make an appearance in this film too, it will be interesting to see whether they have the bumpy-skull look that all Klingons have had since the first movie came out in 1979, or — given the retro quality of the new film — if they will look more like the dark-skinned and sometimes-bearded humans that we saw in the original live-action and animated TV shows between 1966 and 1974. (Click here to see how a couple episodes of the TV series Enterprise tried to resolve this discrepancy in 2005.)

6. Variety notes that less and less newspapers, including the major ones, are keeping home-grown, full-time movie critics on staff.

Yet another Indy IV photo drops the hint.


We have already seen the photo of Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood and Shia LaBeouf as Whoever, posing among some crates in a warehouse that looks extremely reminiscent of the warehouse at the end of Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981). Today, MTV Movies Blog posted the latest picture released from the set of Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull — and this time, Indy himself seems to be climbing and crawling all over the crates. Is he looking for the Ark of the Covenant again? And if so, why? Rumours abound, but we’ll find out for sure May 22.

Classic special effects coming to Vancouver!


If you’re like me, and you like to catch classic films — especially classic sci-fi and fantasy films — on the big screen, then you might want to check out this series on innovative special-effects movies that is playing at the VanCity Theatre over the next few days:

  1. Thu Jan 31, 7:00pm — King Kong (1933)
  2. Thu Jan 31, 9:30pm — Jason and the Argonauts (1963)
  3. Fri Feb 1, 7:00pm — Blade Runner: The Final Cut (1982)
  4. Fri Feb 1, 9:15pm — Close Encounters of the Third Kind (1977)
  5. Sat Feb 2, 7:00pm — Tron (1982)
  6. Sat Feb 2, 9:15pm — The Matrix (1999)
  7. Sun Feb 3, 7:00pm — Raiders of the Lost Ark (1981)
  8. Sun Feb 3, 9:30pm — Jurassic Park (1993)
  9. Mon Feb 4, 7:00pm — 2001: A Space Odyssey (1968)

Of these nine films, there are seven that I own on DVD or Blu-Ray, and I have already seen all seven of them on the big screen — though it depends on whether you count Blade Runner, the only version of which that I have seen in a theatre is the “director’s cut” that came out in 1992. At any rate, while I would love to see any of these films in a theatre again, I could survive if I missed them.

That just leaves Close Encounters, which I saw on TV a couple decades ago and really should see again some day, and Jason and the Argonauts, which I may or may not have seen on VHS some years ago; I honestly can’t remember. So I’ll try to catch that one tonight, at least, especially since it is being introduced by Ken Priebe, who literally wrote the book on The Art of Stop-Motion Animation and sometimes writes for HollywoodJesus.com.


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