There's several things of importance happening today or have happened in the past...
First up, Stardust!
The movie adapation of Stardust, the illustrated novel by Neil Gaiman and Charles Vess, is released to theatres today. There's been a lot of preview screenings including the one I attended in San Diego during ComicCon and there's been various reviews posted online, the majority of them positive ones. Our local papers, The Phoenix New Times and The Arizona Republic had less favorable reviews, showing that they just don't get it at times.
I enjoyed the movie and plan to see it again this weekend. Neil Gaiman has asked that fans go see it during opening weekend to show your support for good movies, especially ones with a Neil Gaiman connection. What would be really neat is for it to beat Rush Hour 3 in Box office, which likely isn't going to happen since RH3 is probably opening in four times as many screens as Stardust, but if Stardust gets a good per screen average, that will be a good thing.
Yes, there are differences from the book, in part to expand the story a bit more and make it more cinematic. Neil Gaiman is happy with how it turned out and describes the differences as akin to Earth-1 versus Earth-2 versions (or is it Earth 42 or so with the new DC Multiverse, but I digress...). Despite the tone of the movie trailers produced by Paramount, the movie is more than just an action adventure, with a good deal of magic, romance and humour (spelled the British way).
Next Up - Flash Gordon ?!~
As anyone who has watched anything on the SciFi Channel of late knows, today is the debut of the new Flash Gordon TV series. I have not had the opportunity to see the pilot in advance to pass judgement on it myself, but this roll call of critics reviews collected by Hercules of Ain't It Cool News definitely leads me to believe it is going to be the train wreck I was expecting. First of all, when SciFi announced back in January (completely out of the blue), that they were making a Flash Gordon series to debut in July of this year, I had my doubts they could pull it off. At the time of the announcement and even a few weeks afterwards, it was apparent that they didn't even have a concept on how to remake it or had any casting. When the casting was announced of Eric Johnson as Flash, it definitely wasn't anything to get many fans excited (Lana Lang's jock boyfriend from Smallville?) and the rest of the cast are pretty much standard spot-the-Canuck actors we've seen turn up on a lot of Canadian produced TV shows. When they finally admitted who was running the show, Peter Hume (Charmed, South Beach), there was yet another big yawn. When the biggest news about the start of filming was that they were able to reuse sets from the Tin Man miniseries to represent Ming's palace on Mongo, it was apparent they were stretching to find something to try to get people's interest up. Then, when we started to get actual information on their take on modernizing the show, expectations were lowered even more (no rockets, just a wormhole/rift to travel between Earth and Mongo, Ming is a blonde Canadian with no real apparent alienness - who knows, maybe it will work), and with seeing actual clips form the show, it looks pretty much standard made in Vancouver show. SciFi has been struggling with their first run dramas, Battlestar Galactica and the Stargates have all declined in the ratings, Painkiller Jane has hardly made their top ten for the week, likely averaging about half what Galactica and the Stargates were getting in the ratings, The one show that held some promise and had halfway decent ratings during its 12 week run, The Dresden Files, Scifi seemed to disown it and only just recently admitted they had no plans to renew the show. This after stringing fans along for months without anything more than a "no decision has been made" response. I expect there will be some curiosity tune-in for Flash Gordon tonight, but I will be surprised if it manages to hang on to much of a loyal audience.
August 10th Birthdays and other Happenings
Famous people born on August 10th include Claudia Christian (of Babylon 5 fame and apparently isn't enough of a celebrity anymore to make the "Celebrity Birthdays" list in the papers today), Rosanna Arquette, Antonio Banderas, Kate O'Mara (Dynasty and Doctor Who's The Rani) and Ian Anderson of Jethro Tull. It is also my birthday, number 50 (ack!). It is also the date that the Babylon 5 pilot started filming in 1992, and the date I first visited the Babylon 5 set in 1995. I also use this date as an annual request for donations to help support SFTV.org. Amazon.com gift certificates or paypal donations can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org .