I Was A Teenage Ernest Borgnine

I have very little sense of personal embarrassment. I’ve done a whole selection of odd things in public – sometimes for a joke, sometimes because I was bored – so when my friend Tristan asked me back in the early 1990s if I’d spend a couple of afternoons running around the Cornish countryside dressed as ‘Marty’ and ‘The Wild Bunch’ star Ernest Borgnine, how could I say no?

The result of those afternoons was ‘The New Airwolf – The Next Generation’, a ludicrous VHS-shot spoof of the mid-1980s action series ‘Airwolf’, which starred Jan-Michael Vincent as moody helicopter-piloting hero Stringfellow Hawke and Ernest Borgnine as his trusty sidekick, Dominic Santini. I owed Tristan for all the help he’d given me on a previous video project (our VHS-shot fantasy epic The Alchemist), so it only seemed fair, even when I ended up wearing a radioactive-yellow hat and had a sofa cushion stuffed under my clothes (to properly simulate the classic Borgnine ‘barrel-chest’ physique).

And it’s never quite gone away. The end result was gloriously shambolic but far more fun than I expected, and Tris put it up on YouTube in 2006, where it’s notched up a hilarious number of views (some of whom may have actually watched the whole thing). Then, recently Tris contacted me with the slightly boggling news that someone had done a ‘4K Restoration’ and actually edited Hi-Def versions of the original series footage we used into the video. The only downside of this version was that the sound wasn’t very good (especially in the end battle sequence, where the ludicrous gags are the point)… so I found myself constructing an all-new version by syncing up the soundtrack from Tris’s lower-quality version, for an all-new ‘Ultimate’ edit. It’s creaky and desperately silly, but I’m still oddly proud to have been part of it, and I’m glad that it’s still out there, on the Internet, playing havoc with search results and bewildering the hell out of any ‘Airwolf’ aficionados…

Movie News: Lanterns-a-Go-Go (New footage from Green Lantern)

Green Lantern Ryan Reynolds Movie Poster Wondercon Teaser Footage

Only yesterday I was talking about how the production schedule and effects work on Green Lantern has kind of slowed down and caused problems with the marketing push, resulting in us only getting a not-exactly-stunning trailer so far. Well, it seems like Warners have woken up to this, as the footage that’s recently premiered at US Convention Wondercon has also been put up online in sparkling high definition at the Apple Trailers site. It’s a sensible move, considering how often comic convention exclusives almost always get leaked onto Youtube as crappy cameraphone videos, and how awareness of Green Lantern as a movie property is not exactly at an all-time high right now.

And the footage? Well… it certainly proves that Warners dropped the ball with the first ad, and really should have gotten more effects-work done in time, as this is a much more impressive trailer than the first one, giving a far greater sense of scale and easing back for the most part on the cheesy humour. It certainly looks like it’s going to be colourful and fun, but with a major streak of straight-faced sci-fi cheese that seems to be – at least from my perspective – part and parcel of the whole Green Lantern experience (To be honest – it’s going to be absurdly hard to make the kooky and poetic Green Lantern oath work dramatically, and it doesn’t look like they’ve cracked it here (and I’m deeply worried about sequels and potentially getting to all the other colour Lantern Corps, all of whom have their own ridiculous poem-oath)). The costume looks better here (even if the mask is still going to be a tough sell – an alien energy costume, and the best thing it can think of to protect his identity is a domino mask?), although much of the footage on Oa, home of the Green Lantern Corps, looks like it’s way too skewed for the whole 3-D experience with CG shots that are good, but not always looking brilliantly immersive. I’m more onboard than I was before, but I’m still not entirely convinced (I’m nowhere near as sold as I was on the Captain America trailer), and I do reckon it’s going to be very interesting to see what sinks and what swims in this upcoming superhero-overloaded blockbuster summer…

Video: Star Wars Begins

You can’t throw a brick on the internet without hitting a Star Wars-related image/cartoon/video somewhere. One of the most heavily watched in recent years is, of course, the Red Letter Media series of epic video reviews of the Prequels, most notably the one dealing with The Phantom Menace (which would be a dazzling piece of film criticism, if it wasn’t for the tiresome and rather mean-spirited ‘Serial Killer reviews a movie’ gag that’s been eventually run into the ground), and much of what’s out there deals heavily with the truly gigantic level of disillusionment Star Wars fandom went through as a result of the prequels. Certainly, it’d take something astonishing to actually get me truly excited about any Star Wars-related project now (the fact that we’ve now got 3-D conversions of all the films coming up had me basically thinking “So What?”) and I know there are plenty who feel the same.

However – there are people out there who’ve kept the faith, and one of them (Youtube user jambedavdar) has made a fan documentary that, frankly, will take some beating. Star Wars Begins is a fourteen part, two-and-a-half-hour documentary that takes you through the whole movie and shows you alternate takes, storyboards, deleted scenes, behind-the-scenes footage and concept work, as well as giving you a gigantic selection of audio interviews with a massive number of both the cast and crew. There’s a lot of minute detail here (including things like minor differences in dialogue between versions), but there’s also some big surprises, and a gigantic amount of trivia in what adds up to the greatest unofficial Star Wars DVD extra ever. A long watch but one that’s well worth it, Star Wars Begins is a fascinating exploration of the magic of old-school movie making, as well as a reminder that before the franchise, before the prequels, and before the disappointment, Star Wars was just a movie – and a rather bloody good one, too…

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