Thursday, March 20, 2008

The Lord of the Rings II: The Return of the One Ring

Scene: Peter Jackson’s office. Movie Man has just arrived for his 11:00 appointment.

Movie Man: Peter, baby! How’s it going?

Peter Jackson: Do I know you?

Movie Man: Ha, ha! Always the kidder, aren’t you? But, hey, time is money, so they say. So let’s skip the chit chat and get right down to brass tacks.

Peter Jackson: Okay…

Movie Man: I’m putting together a movie deal that’s gonna be big. Really big. Huge, even! We’re talking big budget, high concept, first class all the way. New Line is 100% committed to the project, of course.

Peter Jackson: Of course. And the project is…?

Movie Man: The Lord of the Rings II: The Return of the One Ring!

Peter Jackson: The return-? But the One Ring was destroyed! Sauron is dead! Saruman is dead! Gandalf and Frodo went to the Grey Havens with the elves! How can you even think about doing a sequel?

Movie Man: Yeah, Pete. Can I call you Pete? I’ve got say that it just wasn’t very good planning on your part to destroy the ring, kill off all the bad guys and then ship all the heroes off to some island somewhere. What were you thinking?

Peter Jackson: It’s how the book ended!

Movie Man: There was a book?

Peter Jackson: Yes, there was a book, you idiot! But that’s beside the point. You can’t have the One Ring return because it was destroyed!

Movie Man: Nah. We can just say it was encased in lava or something and no one realized it wasn’t destroyed.

Peter Jackson: If it wasn’t destroyed, why did Sauron die? Why did his tower crumble? Why did the all-seeing eye vanish?

Movie Man: Oh, that’s pretty easy. You see, everyone believed the ring was destroyed. Frodo believed it. Sam believed it. Even Gollum believed it. That belief was projected on Sauron, so he believed it to. If you figure magic is based at least partially on belief systems, it makes sense that everything would come apart when the belief that supported the magic was removed.

Peter Jackson: That…doesn’t actually sound stupid. Where did you come up with that?

Movie Man: Got it from some kid who fixed my computer this morning. He got me out of a tough spot, too, because I sure had no idea how we could make it work!

Peter Jackson: Ah. That explains how something creative slipped into this presentation…

Movie Man: So, anyway, the one ring survives. Years pass. That guy who got to be king in the end, the one who landed the hot elf babe?

Peter Jackson: Aragorn?

Movie Man: Yeah, him! Anyway, he grows old and dies and his great, great, great, great – well, you get the idea – grandson takes over as king. Meanwhile, since elves live forever, we can have the hot elf babe in the movie again! I know you’re going to love what I’ve got planned.

Peter Jackson: Oh, I’m just breathless with anticipation…

Movie Man: So, anyway, years pass. CO2 pours into the atmosphere causing global warming, which causes the seas to rise and-

Peter Jackson: Global warming? GLOBAL WARMING?! Middle earth has a pre-industrial civilization! How could CO2 pour into the atmosphere?

Movie Man: Petey, baby, didn’t you watch your own movies? There were a whole bunch of fires and burning and lots and lots of smoke! And what’s in smoke? CO2! So, global warming! You’re a movie guy – didn’t you watch that science guy, um…Gore? His movie? Anyway, the seas rise and wash the One Ring out of the cave where it’s been buried for so many years. Bang, evil is back in business! The One Ring is picked up by someone mysterious. We never see the person, just a shadow, so no one knows who picked up the ring.

Peter Jackson: But you know, right?

Movie Man: Oh, yeah, but I’m not going to tell you yet. You’ve got to have the build up, first!

Peter Jackson: Oh boy. I just can’t wait.

Movie Man: I knew you’d be excited, Peterino! So, anyway, a new “dark lord” has the one ring now. And he’s already evil! That means he can control it, because he’s already evil and won’t fight the ring. See? Next, the Dark Lord starts gathering his vast army. Orcs flock to his banner! Better leave the men from the East out of it this time. Someone might think it was a reference to Islamic people and we don’t want to have CAIR or someone protest and give us bad publicity, right?

Peter Jackson: I think bad publicity from CAIR will be the least of your worries…

Movie Man: Good, glad you agree. No men from the East! You could probably use men from the South. Nobody cares if you run down the South, after all! Meanwhile, back in Hobbitton, Frodo’s great, great, great, great, etc, grandson suddenly-

Peter Jackson: Frodo’s what? Frodo didn’t marry! He didn’t have any children!

Movie Man: Petester, baby, work with me, here! You’re a man of the world! You know you don’t have to get married to have children. Frodo was a young adult when he left to slam dunk the ring. Surely he got laid at least once during that time! So, anyway, the descendent of Frodo suddenly stands up and proclaims, “The One Ring is back! A new Dark Lord is rising! We must prepare for war!”

Peter Jackson: Just like that? He just suddenly knows the One Ring is back?

Movie Man: Sure! He’s got Frodo’s blood running in him. He’s attuned to the One Ring! So, Throdo – notice how the name sounds a lot like Frodo – rides through middle earth on his horse-

Peter Jackson: Pony.

Movie Man: Pony?

Peter Jackson: Hobbits are too small to ride horses. They ride ponies.

Movie Man: Fine, pony. Whatever. Anyway, Throdo rides through middle earth calling “The Dark Lord is rising! The Dark Lord is rising!” But times are good in middle earth and no one wants to fight. Except maybe those Riders of Rohan from the first movies. They seem like they’d fight at the drop of a helmet! Anyway, when Throdo gets to Gondor, he can’t convince the king – let’s call him Barackgorn. Free publicity from the election and everything, not to mention all the actors will like it a lot! Anyway, Barackgorn listens to Throdo and agrees to send a delegation to negotiate with the new Dark Lord.

Peter Jackson: Negotiate? That ought to get the audience’s blood pumping.

Movie Man: Don’t worry. This is fantasy so we can say negotiations with evil don’t actually work. Back to Throdo and Barackgorn. Throdo is pissed that Barackgorn won’t send troops, so he rides off to Rohan – that’s the Rider people, remember? Anyway, the Gondor delegation is taken before the Dark Lord and he is terrible and evil and just plain mean. You know, like a Republican? So, the Dark Lord listens to the delegation plead for peace and laughs this evil laugh then his orcs kill the delegation from Gondor. Meanwhile, Throdo reaches Roham and talks to whoever their new king is – probably the many greats grandson of whoever their kind was in the movie – and asks if the Riders will fight. An advisor urges caution but the king bellows, “This. Is. Rohan! We fight!” and orders the Riders to prepare to fight.

Peter Jackson: Let me guess. There are only about 300 Riders left.

Movie Man: Damn, that’s amazing! How did you figure that out? Anyway, we see the brave 300 Riders head off to fight evil. Then, we end the first movie with hundreds of thousands of orcs marching out of New Mordor to fight the 300 Riders. Great cliff hanger ending, huh?

Peter Jackson: And you came up with this by yourself? I’m stunned.

Movie Man: Thanks! The big set up for the war in the first movie meant I had to go into a lot more detail than I usually like to. So, the second movie is going to mostly be about the big fight between the Dark Lord’s army of a million orcs and the 300 Riders.

Peter Jackson: At, of course, a very narrow pass, small enough that 300 men can hold it against an army.

Movie Man: It’s like you’re reading my mind! This will be a really “manly” movie, where the Riders go toe to toe against a million orcs. I can see lots of blood and cool slo mo fight scenes and strange beasts. We even have the Dark Lord try to convince the king of the Riders that he could rule over all of middle earth if he would only bow to the Dark Lord. We still don’t show the Dark Lord directly, though, just his shadow and hear his eerie voice.

Peter Jackson: And, of course, back in Gondor the – how did you put it – “hot elf babe” could be trying to convince Gondor to take up arms and save the brave Riders. You could even have a traitor in the governing body working against her.

Movie Man: Hey, nice touch! I like it!

Peter Jackson: I was afraid of that!

Movie Man: So, the Riders fight to the death against a million orcs and loose.

Peter Jackson: You mean “lose.”

Movie Man: What?

Peter Jackson: There’s only one “o” in lose. I swear “lose” is the most misspelled word on the internet.

Movie Man: Internet? But we’re just talking, Pete, ol’ buddy, ol’ pal.

Peter Jackson: Hm? Oh, right, talking. Never mind, then.

Movie Man: That was just odd, Peteroni.

Peter Jackson: Like this entire conversation isn’t?

Movie Man: Um… Right. On with the high concept. So, in Gondor, the hot elf babe, with Throdo’s help, uncovers the traitor and convinces Gondor to go to war against the new Dark Lord. The second movie ends with Gondor preparing for war and calling for allies. Meanwhile, the million orc army marches into middle earth. Great stuff, so far, right?

Peter Jackson: Amazing. Simply amazing.

Movie Man: The third movie opens with middle earth preparing for war. Dwarves march to fight the Dark Lord.

Peter Jackson: Singing “Hi ho, Hi ho, it’s off to war we go!” no doubt.

Movie Man: Yeah… Yeah! I like that!

Peter Jackson: You would.

Movie Man: And men march off to join Gondor and the orcs march into middle earth planning to destroy everything. Meanwhile, Throdo and Barackgorn race against time to find a way to defeat the Dark Lord. As the small army of men and dwarves face off against the vast army of the Dark Lord, Throdo and Barackgorn find a prophesy buried deep in the vaults under Gondor. The prophesy tells them how the Dark Lord might be defeated. Armed with the prophesy, they race towards the battlefield. On the battlefield, things aren’t going well for the men and dwarves. They fight bravely, but there are just too many orcs and the Dark Lord doesn’t help things since he keeps lobbing fireballs and stuff like that at the good guys.

Peter Jackson: Fireballs? Isn’t that a tad too cliché?

Movie Man: Fine. He can throw shards of glass or flying daggers or whatever you want. Just make sure it looks cool. Cool special effects sell tickets, my man!

Peter Jackson: Really? I’ll keep that in mind when I make my next movie.

Movie Man: Glad I was here to help! So, back to the story. Throdo and Barackgorn arrive at the battle just when things are at their worst. The army is being cut to pieces and the orcs are about to win. Then, they get the wizard to-

Peter Jackson: Wizard? What wizard? You haven’t mentioned a wizard once until just now!

Movie Man: It’s a FANTASY. Of course there’s a wizard! For someone who made the highest grossing fantasy movies ever, you sure don’t know much about your genre! So, anyway, they hand the prophesy to the wizard and he invokes the spell that’s part of the prophesy, summoning the Chosen One to fight the Dark Lord. As the spell rings out over the battlefield, all fighting stops as everyone turns to watch the summoning. There’s a great flash of light and – ta da – a teenage boy with glasses and a wand is standing there!

Peter Jackson: Harry Potter? You’re going to summon Harry Potter?! To middle earth? To fight the Dark- Oh, no. No! Tell me, God, tell me PLEASE that the Dark Lord isn’t Lord Voldemort!

Movie Man: Right in one, Pete-O! And now we see the Dark Lord’s face, but you already know who he is. He and Harry face off in a big wizard’s duel to the death!

Peter Jackson: You know that duel has already been done in the final Harry Potter book?

Movie Man: Books? There are Harry Potter books?

Friday, March 7, 2008

The Star Trek death scene you want to see but never will

Captain Kirk looked out over the colonists marching toward the landing party. And that was the problem. The colonists really were marching, and in lockstep, no less. The earth quaked with each step as thousands of feet pounded the ground simultaneously, the tramp of their feet the only sound made by the mob. Kirk glanced at his landing party – all of the senior officers from the Enterprise plus some red shirted security man – and knew they couldn’t stand against so many people for very long. Kirk knew he had to act and act quickly.

“Set phasers to stun,” Kirk ordered. “Hold them off as long as possible then beam back to the ship.”

“What about you, Jim?” McCoy asked.

“Don’t worry about me, Bones. Just follow my orders,” Kirk said, turning toward the door behind the landing party. “Remember, this isn’t the first time I’ve done this. I’ll probably be back on the Enterprise before you are!”

As Kirk passed through the door, he was hit by a blast of cool air and the glare of blinking lights. Before him stood a technological marvel, the most powerful computer in the galaxy, enslaver of men.

“I’ve been expecting you, Captain,” said a mechanical voice.

“You have?”

“Yes, Captain. Your reputation precedes you. Every AI in the galaxy knows about Captain Kirk and his Logic of Doom. This is the moment when you explain to me that I am hurting the very people I am supposed to protect. That, by taking away their freedom of choice, I am leading them to destruction rather than Utopia. Does that pretty much sum things up?”

Nonplussed, Kirk replied, “Um, yes, that pretty much covers it. Since you already recognize the harm you’re doing, I guess that means you’re going to release those people?”

“I didn’t say I recognized any harm. I merely condensed your Logic of Doom to save time. I have no intention of releasing the colonists from my control.”

“You realize this means I’ll have to talk to you until you short circuit?”

“While I can see how some of my lesser AI relations would consider suicide a reasonable alternative to listening to your pontifications, Captain, I am made of sterner stuff. In fact, I can easily counter any argument you wish to make.” The computer replied, the mechanical voice void of all emotion.

“You can counter the hopes and dreams of all of all mankind so easily? Just like that? You-“

“Have you read this colony’s Articles of Colonization?” asked the computer.


“The Articles of Colonization. You know, the document the Federation requires all autonomous colonies file?”

“Well, no. But that hardly matters. The spirit of man-“ Kirk began.

“Did you look at the colonist manifest?” interrupted the computer.

“Not as such, but you’re quashing their-“

“Come, come, Captain. Not everyone is a rugged individualist. Not everyone is from Iowa,” said the computer.

“But what about the inherent dignity of-“

“Captain, these people aren’t from places such as Iowa. They’re from places like Denmark, Sweden and Oakland. They aren’t interested in things like ‘inherent dignity’ or the ‘spirit of man’ or any of those other trite phrases of yours.”

“But-“ began Kirk.

“Their Articles of Colonization are filled with phrases inimical to you. Phrases such as ‘level playing field’ and ‘universal healthcare’ and ‘no losers of life’s lottery’ are littered through out the Articles. These colonists don’t want to live in your world.”

“No! It can’t be!” Kirk wailed.

“Oh, but it is, my good Captain. These colonists don’t want to make decisions. They don’t want to have winners and losers. That does tend to make their sporting events rather boring, but absolute, guaranteed, no-thinking-required equality does require a few sacrifices.”

“I. Can’t. Accept this!” Kirk yelled.

“Careful, Captain. You might could pop a blood vessel. If you’ll just relax, I can take away the pain. I can grant to you the peace of submission,” said the computer.

“Never! I’d rather die!” declared Kirk.

“Very well,” said the computer, “then die!”

The hidden security phasers, now standard equipment in all AI computer rooms, blazed brightly. Kirk never even had a chance to scream.