Monthly Archives: July 2011

In Which Rory Continues to be Awesome.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=2xkQkPo7KRU

So there’s the trailer for the last half season of Doctor Who as it premiered at Comic Con.  Lots of  WTF moments there…the Doctor in his tux, Amy Pond going all Samurai on what looks like Marvin the Paranoid Android from Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.  Then there’s River Song with an eye patch looking very much like Madam Kovarian.  Some monsters, cybermen, a big ugly minotaur kind of thing, some quality time between the Doctor and Craig Owens and then…and then…

Rory.  Punches.  Hitler.

Click on the .gif for more Rory Punch Out Action!

Perhaps it’s appropriate that Captain America is also out this weekend.  Sure, Captain America did punch out Hitler in a 1940’s comic cover:

Thud

And here’s one of Superman:

GUUUURKK!

….and Daredevil…..

POW!!!!

…and a freakin’ ninja turtle

CHOK!!!!

….and uh….yeah…..

<insert gay porn soundtrack here. Or My Sharona>

The thing is a lot of people have been depicted punching out the worst evil of the 20th century, but you know what?  Rory Williams is just some bloke from Leadworth.  Sure he’s defied death, been plastic and been resurrected more times than bell bottoms, but at his core he’s just an average guy.  I mean, he wasn’t even wearing his Lone Centurion outfit!  No costume, no superpowers, not even a shoe and a BDSM fetish.

Just a punch in a face from your average bloke to the guy who most deserves it.  Awesomeness.


The Last First Showing: Saying Goodbye to Movie Potter

Whomping Willow and Friends

So here’s a grown man dressed as a student from Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry, sitting next to his similarly dressed spouse in a nearly-full theater, waiting for the start of a double feature at 9 pm on a weekday.  Sitting on the other side of them are a little girl and her mother, both of whom have never read a Harry Potter book but have seen all the movies.  Next to them is another married couple who are seeing this film without their children because they couldn’t wait for the weekend.  In the row behind are two ladies, one of whom has been instructed to give a full report on the movie to her boss, who claims he has nobody else to talk to about things Potter.  Next to them is another mother and daughter who have spent the past ten years reading books and going to premieres together.  All of us are waiting for the final act in a media odyssey…the last of eight films adapting a series of seven books and the last worldwide event for the Harry Potter phenomenon.

Spellbinding T-shirts

It’s hard to believe that a book series could have stirred up so much of a hoopla, especially when one considers the state of children’s books some dozen years ago.  Back then the children’s section of your local book store was lucky to have one or two major book releases a year, and more likely to have stand-alone stories than long-running series. Demand for children’s books was steady but undemanding and a long line at the book store meant waiting five minutes at the most. Flash forward a few years and suddenly there’s a huge crowd flooding book outlets, counting down the seconds to midnight and the release of the next adventure in the Harry Potter Saga.  It’s no exaggeration to say that this book series revitalized and and revolutionized the children’s book market.  The Potter books not only inspired children to read, but to read at levels far higher than their age group as each book became more sophisticated.

students

The First Graduating Class

Now the generation that grew up on Harry Potter was having their last hurrah.  Ten year old readers were now entering their twenties and still sharing the experience with their parents and friends.  The book and movie premieres evolved into media events, complete with cameras and costumes.  I had the pleasure of acting as host for three book releases where we ran the House Cup, giving points to fans for participating in activities or just for being cool.  At one it was my reluctant duty to declare the infamous Slytherin House the winner…by one single point.

The Dark Mark

Sadly there is only one first time for everything.  There’s only one release date, only one first reading, only one opening night, and with the release of Deathly Hallows Part II there was the certainty that this would be the last first time.  There would be no new film and no new book (unless the ever enigmatic J.K. Rowling chose to change her mind), and more than likely there would never be another series like this one.  I suspect that’s why this last movie premiere was so important and so charged with emotion. It was the swan song of the Harry Potter generation.  Like their heroes they had moved into their adulthood and now they were getting one last chance to say goodbye.  Years from now perhaps they will dust off their books and introduce their children to the story, placing them firmly on the Hogwarts train at Platform 9 3/4 just as Harry does.  But whatever becomes of the series, this was the first generation to read the books and watch the movies, and while there may be many more after them, there can only really be one first time.

Sirius Black is not Very Serious


GeekSquirrel’s Nutty Review: Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part II

What a long strange journey it’s been….

I jumped into the Harry Potter phenomenon round about the time the fifth book, “Order of the Phoenix” was coming out. I spent some time catching up on the series before the book’s release and was impressed to find that for the most part the hype was not unjustified.  The books were fun, engaging, and had a wonderful cast of characters.  True there were faults, but these could be easily overlooked because the strengths of the story overcame the weaknesses.  The same cannot always be said of the movies, which to be honest have been an uneven series at best.  The child-like magical realm of the first two films gradually evolved into the adolescent anxieties and darker tones of the middle films, and while all had entertaining bits, none seemed to completely get it right.  Until now my favorite of the bunch has been “Prisoner of Azkeban”, the film that broke away from the fairy tale feeling and injected the series with a grittiness and realism that had been sorely lacking. I did not much enjoy “The Half-Blood Prince”, which felt rushed and seemed to cut out some major backstory, and I was more than a little concerned that director David Yates had been retained for the final two installments.

“Deathly Hallows Part 1” was a wonderful surprise.  For the first time the acting and story were not overshadowed by the special effects, and we all got to see what happens when a group of child actors spends a decade working with the cream of the crop of British acting.  Daniel Radcliffe, Rupert Grint, and Emma Watson have all matured into strong performers, who know the acting craft even if they do not possess the charisma of their cast mates.

“Deathly Hallows Part 2” continues the story, and again the actors take center stage.  Everyone from the leads on down pours their acting guts out for this last hurrah, and even the spectacular and extended Battle of Hogwarts cannot overshadow the very human drama that is taking place.  Radcliffe puts in his best work of the series as Harry is confronted by the truths he never expected to find. Watson and Grint are able as well, but just about every member of this long-standing ensemble gets their moment to shine.  Here are a few of the standouts:

Helena Bonham Carter: after having gleefully chewed scenery for four films, she is presented with the challenge of playing Bellatrix as impersonated by Hermione Granger.  Carter’s imitation is so spot on that you could actually believe it’s Emma Watson hiding behind her.  At one point Ms. Carter has to portray Hermione impersonating Bellatrix, and while a lesser actor might have parodied the character of Bellatrix, Ms. Carter keeps her performance firmly grounded in Hermione’s shoes.  It almost makes you believe in polyjuice potion.

Evanna Lynch: Most Potter fans know how Ms. Lynch won the job of Luna Lovegood.  While not as strong in the acting department as her castmates, Ms. Lynch takes full advantage of the opportunity to stretch her wings a little, standing up to Harry when he fails to listen to her and sharing a bit of shipper-inspired romance with Neville Longbottom.  Which brings us to….

Matthew Lewis: For the win!  Who would have thought the dumpy kid we were introduced to in the first film would grow up into a total romantic hero/spell-kicking badass.  Readers of the series wanted to be able to cheer for Neville all the way in this movie, and he gets several moments to shine…delivering an unexpected “it ain’t over til it’s over” speech and basically leading the charge against the Death Eaters.

I could mention everyone in the cast and pick out a moment where they were brilliant, from Jason Issac’s portrayal of a broken and terrified Lucius Malfoy, to the unspoken love between Tonks and Lupin, to the tragedy of the twins Fred and George and to Julie Walters in the best-choreographed fight scene in the film.

But Alan Rickman steals the show, both in his final death scene (rewritten to include a line that I felt was sorely missing from the books….you’ll know what I mean when you hear it), and in the flashbacks where Harry finds out the truth about Severus Snape.  Rickman brings both the tragedy and the bravery of the character to vivid life in just a few small scenes.

It’s a tribute to this cast that none of them appeared to slouch or stroll their way through the film.  Everyone took their job seriously and the fact that they actually outshine the special effects is a testament to their skills.  In fact if the film does have a shortcoming it is that the effects department comes up a bit short in places.

But perhaps the best surprise for me was the infamous epilogue.  The “Where are they Now?” scene as presented in the book feels clunky, saccharine, and highly lame, but here the filmmakers actually manage to turn the scene into a very tender moment by focusing most of the attention on young Albus Severus Potter.  In  so doing we are returned for a moment to the child-like wonder of the first films, and we get to relive how the story began in the excited but nervous eyes of Harry’s offspring.

The biggest strength of this film is that it actually improves upon the source material.  Some of the weakest parts of the book (like the epilogue) are transformed into wonderful moments, others, like Snape’s death, are given far more weight and drama, and the Neville and Luna sequences are an obvious nod to the fans who thought J. K. dropped the quaffle by not having them together in the first place.

So one acorn for the writing, one for the supporting cast, one for the leads, and one to Jo for bringing this world to life.  And half an acorn for awesomeness….

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 2 gets Four and a Half Acorns out of  Five!


What it Feels Like to Start a Meme

Note: This blog contains spoilers concerning the recent season of Doctor Who…go watch it on your DVR then come back. Trust me it will be funnier that way.

It’s odd how sometimes you succeed without really intending to.  I’ve been kicking around the internet as long as almost anyone and I’ve always wondered how these things get started.  You know, the Dancing Hamsters, the LOLcats, the crasher squirrel….all of those innocent gags that snowball into trends that are followed by thousands of people.  Well it seems that my time has come…

Doctor Who fans are very familiar with the character of Rory Williams:

…an unassuming and slightly geeky fellow who worked as a nurse in the peaceful town of Leadworth in the UK.  Rory dated a quirky sparkplug of a girl named Amy Pond, who as a child had an imaginary friend called the Raggedy Doctor.  Having been smitten with Amy from a young age, Rory would join her make-believe games involving the Raggedy Doctor and his time-traveling blue box, even dressing as her imaginary friend to entertain her.  Ah, the things we do for love.

Of course it turns out that Amy’s imaginary friend isn’t imaginary at all, but rather the latest incarnation of the Doctor, the last of the Time Lords, the Oncoming Storm, protector of the Earth, etc.  The Doctor takes Amy on as his latest traveling companion, and eventually Rory gets pulled into the action. While not as comfortable as his girlfriend is with the whole space/time-travel/alien monster fighting thing, Rory eventually grows into his role, and goes from a somewhat cowardly and insecure fellow into, well…a total badass.

Rory’s badassness credits include: getting killed and revived almost as many times as the Doctor (but without the benefit of that nifty regeneration trick), being erased from history but still managing to come back in the form of an artificial duplicate living as a Roman Centurion (yeah it’s Doctor Who, dude, stuff like that happens), killing a cyberman with a gladius, shooting a Dalek in the face (well, the eyestock), and guarding the box that Amy was imprisoned in for two thousand years.  Ah, the things we do for love.

Rory hits the heights of badassery when his new wife Amy and their daughter are kidnapped.  He confronts a group of cybermen who are withholding information abut his family’s whereabouts (again dressed in a Centurion outfit) and (with help from the Doctor) he blows up their whole fleet to make a point.

Cool Guys Don't Look At Explosions

Did I mention he also fathered a part Time Lord child with his wife while she was dressed up as a policewoman, while they were traveling through the Time Vortex in a time machine that refers to him as “the pretty one”….in a bunk bed? (Dude, it’s Doctor Who, try to keep up!)

All of which of course led my geeksquirrely mind to conclude that Rory Williams is in fact the Next Chuck Norris.

While I know this has been done before with other characters (Jack Bauer and Neville Longbottom for example), I felt I had enough material to do a few jokes along this line, so I went to the Internet Movie Database message board for Doctor Who and threw a few of them out there.

http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0436992/board/thread/183802399?p=1

As you can see by the number of posts I was not the only one who thought this was a good idea.  The responses were so favorable that I decided to create a Facebook fan page to see what would happen:

http://www.facebook.com/#!/pages/Rory-Williams-is-the-New-Chuck-Norris/206862529349188

Yeah…3000+likes and enough traffic to make Amazon.Com look twice.  Pretty impressive for a bunch of re-worked Chuck Norris jokes about a secondary character in a British Sci-Fi show.  The icing on the cake however was the recognition of the meme by a member of the Doctor Who production team…as a matter of fact the Producer and show runner himself, Steven Moffat.  Mr. Moffat re-tweeted this .gif file that was cobbled together with jokes from the two websites, a good number of which were written by yours truly.

(Click on the Gif to see the slide show)

To this day I have no idea who made the .gif, but I wish to offer my sincere thanks for getting Mr. Moffat’s attention.

So that’s how I gained my smidge of internet fame.  I have to confess that I am totally flabbergasted by what has happened.  True, it is unlikely that I will gain anything other than the satisfaction of contributing to the Doctor Who fan community.  But I can honestly say that this is probably the coolest online thing I’ve ever done, at least in terms of how many people I’ve entertained with my writing.  It’s hard to describe how it feels to know that there are thousands of people out there who have gotten a laugh out of your posts.  The fact that so many have contributed jokes of their own is equally staggering, and I am especially indebted to my fellow Rory Rousers out there, especially one Donnie_Darkerr who comes up with just as many gags as I do.  So yeah, grateful, pleased, happy, a little proud and still a tad flabbergasted.

I guess the only thing now is what to do next.  Should I invest in a website? T-shirts? Coffee mugs?  Are such things possible?  I don’t know.  Maybe someday I will go to a convention and see my words on someone’s t-shirt.  Maybe I should get a t-shirt myself….hmm.

So this is me…the first raindrop, the first pebble in the avalanche, the first flake in the snowball….and I’m feeling very cozy surrounded by fellow fans with the same sense of humor.  Thanks to everyone who writes, reads, and laughs along with me.

P.S. Rory Williams doesn’t blog…he rewrites history itself.