Saturday, January 29, 2011

ThunderCats and MotU

The ThunderCats are coming back.
ThundercatsIt's official: The ThunderCats are on the move. Yes, the ThunderCats are loose.
This week's reveal of the first official image from the new "ThunderCats" animated series has quickly made Warner Bros. Animation's upcoming reboot of the late-'80s cartoon one of the week's biggest topics here on Splash Page. The new image debuted just a day after a blurry photo of a "ThunderCats" promotional poster found its way online, and gave us the first good look at how Lion-O, Panthro, Cheetara, and Tygra will appear in the series.
Given the volume of questions the new image has prompted around the 'net, we're excited to bring you an exclusive interview with "ThunderCats" producer Ethan Spaulding, who gave us the inside scoop on the redesign and what it means for the much-anticipated animated series.
MTV NEWS: First off, tell me about the general idea going into the redesign process. How did you approach the task of changing the characters' appearance for a new generation while staying true to the original series' fans?
ETHAN SPAULDING: We decided that it would be best to keep the core character traits of all the characters — specifically their colors — so at first glance you can tell who each one of them is. We really kept that core spirit of all the characters and just updated them with a little more realistic armor, and some of the '80s aspects — like Lion-O's exposed midriff. The original designs are great, but the world we have going on in this story, we had to fit our designs to that story, so that was our overall impetus.
by pacman23
MTV: Everyone's asking about the anime vibe in the image. Will the series have an anime feel to it? Does the anime vibe extend beyond the character designs?
SPAULDING: [It will extend to] the visual storytelling as well. The original show was done in Japan, and many people probably don't know that. A lot of the artists went on to be in Studio Ghibli, and worked on [Hayao] Miyazaki's first film. So "ThunderCats" does have a footprint in Japanese animation. We're kind of going back and honoring that in the new series. I was always a huge fan of the original show and I love the Japanese animation and what they can do, so we're really going back to the roots.
MTV: Were there any elements of the original series that you felt strongly about improving in the new series? Was there anything you felt like there was an opportunity to change for the better in this redesign?
SPAULDING: Not so much. We just had to update it and give it a new spin. Looking at what they were wearing back then, it was more of a superhero show. You can see that in the old lineup, and they looked like they were more of a superhero team. With our back story, we couldn't go in that direction.
MTV: Lots of people are asking about Tygra...
SPAULDING: [Laughs] Everyone wants to know about Tygra, but that's sort of story-specific. I can't reveal too much. Basically, we wanted to make him cooler than he was. The consensus was that he was the boring guy of the old show, so we wanted to make him more interesting and gave him another dimension. But don't worry — he still has the whip. People were wondering where the whip was at one point, but it's on his belt.
MTV: I noticed that even Panthro's nunchuks with the claws made it through the redesign...
SPAULDING: We liked all of the aspects of the old stuff. That's the iconic aspect of these characters — you have to have the nunchuks with the claws at the end. That was the challenge, though: How do you update it? Our art director has done a great job. He actually did the first pass on all the characters, updating them, and then we sent it all to Japan. The character designers there take a pass over the designs, put the final spin on them, and then we give notes. It's like a co-production thing going on here.
MTV: Another thing everyone's asking about is the characters we don't see in the new image. What's up with Snarf, or WilyKit and WilyKat? Will we see them soon?
SPAULDING: Yeah, you'll see them. We're going to slowly reveal that stuff. Rest assured, they're in there, and they look great. They're redesigned in a little different way, though, and you'll see what I mean when it comes time to reveal them.
MTV: When I spoke to your co-producer, Michael Jelenic, about the series, he talked about how one of the redesign strategies was to mute the bright colors of the original a little, and give it a darker tone. How do you describe the overall redesign theme?
SPAULDING: It's more realistic, more real-world palette. The Japanese animations are great. The colors are keyed a lot different than the American animation, and there's a little bit more variety going on. We're fans of that style. You get a little more attention paid to the lighting in this show, the sense of atmosphere, and the scope of the project. We're going for a movie feel, and hopefully we're achieving that.
MTV: It also looks like Lion-O is a little younger in this iteration of the series...
SPAULDING: Yes, that's part of the story, too.
MTV: And Panthro's looking a little more grizzled with that scar on his eye and such...
SPAULDING: Yeah, we're making him the older veteran. He's been out there on Third Earth exploring. He's the elder of the group, once they get together.
MTV: Are you surprised by the massive reaction to the series and everything that's been released so far?
SPAULDING: A little surprised, yeah — but when I think about it, I understand it. "ThunderCats" has been in pop culture since 1985, so it's had time to marinate.
MTV: What attracted you to this project in the first place? Were you a big fan of the original series?
SPAULDING: I was a big fan when I was young. Everyone talks about the opening animation for "ThunderCats," and it's still to this day one of the greatest openings of any animated series. I appreciated the fantasy and science-fiction elements, and gravitated toward the character designs. I drew when I was a kid, so I always responded to the way everything looked in that show.
Hopefully we're doing justice to the characters. They're icons now, and we're trying to do justice to the old show and its spirit, and flesh out the characters more so than the original series.
"ThunderCats" is scheduled to premiere later this year on Cartoon Network. Keep it locked to Splash Page for more "ThunderCats" news as it develops!


I'm looking forward to checking out how these changes look. Not sure if it'll be right for my son right now, but if the quality is up there, perhaps in the distant future. In the meantime, his dad can geek out on nostalgia. My hope is that it goes beyond a similar attempt made with Masters of the Universe...

Somewhat related, I recently re-explored the Masters of the Universe setting looking at what potential it had for an entertaining, yet not too trashy, show to introduce to my son. The forums at are a pretty good place to get geek opinion on such topics. Talking about He-Man and doing a little research revealed that there were four series related to the franchise.

Mattel's action figure line Masters of the Universe was selling extremely well, and Filmation had animated a few early adverts to promote the figures. Looking for a way to further increase the success of Masters of the Universe they asked Filmation to go beyond animating mere toy adverts, and create sixty-five episodes of what was to become known as He-Man and the Masters of the Universe.
The success of the Masters of the Universe toyline and show led to the spin-off series, She-Ra Princess of Power. She-Ra, He-Man's twin sister, fights to free Etheria from the Evil Horde which has enslaved most of this, and other, worlds. She helps the Great Rebellion, who also struggle each day for the freedom or their people and planet.
He-Man and She-Ra had been out of the public eye for a time, but Mattel wanted to capitalize on their previous success. Filmation had closed, so the new series was created by Jetlag Productions.
This series sends He-Man into space - and the future! Skeletor ends up tagging along and causing havoc as usual, but for a new planet called Primus. Both He-Man and Skeletor meet new friends, enemies and possible love interests - as one old friend from the past makes a reappearance.
He-Man re-appears for his third time in toon-form, now in the new millenium. Mattel decided to take him back to his original roots on Eternia with all the original, more familiar characters. Mike Young Productions (MYP), took the wheel this time around and Mattel even hired Michael Halperin to write the new series' bible (who wrote the original Series Bible for the Filmation series). This is the first cartoon to show how Prince Adam came to learn of the Sword of Power!
The most recent version is almost universally considered the best. Everyone raved how good the newest He-Man and the Masters of the Universe was. I watched the pilot and while it was a lot better than the original, it still suffered from an unavoidable level of campiness that I fear will always be part of the franchise.

Either way, ThunderCats are back!

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Christian Bale Roland Deschain

The Dark Tower is starting to make the rumor rounds, it seems. This is exciting, but there is one point that I don't like so far. They are all talking about the Dark Tower instead of the Gunslinger. Take these rumors literally and it seems like they're making the very last book first. We're still more than two years out so I'm sure as we get near it will all become clear and sorted out, but they haven't made this mistake with A Game of Thrones.

Either way, I think Christian Bale could be a great Roland Deschain. Especially if you've seen the Marvel Comics' adaptations of the stories. The art fits Bale perfectly. Perhaps similarly how it seems like Marvel's Ultimates ensured Sam Jackson played Nick Fury.

Christian Bale signed up for Stephen King’s The Dark Tower?

Simon Brew

Will Bale go from The Dark Knight Rises to The Dark Tower, in the ambitious adaptation of the Stephen King series?

Published on Jan 27, 2011

Strong rumours this morning link Bale to the lead role in the adaptation of Stephen King's The Dark Tower, which is planned as a series of films, which branch into a TV show.With no sign of a continuation to Terminator: Salvation, and with The Dark Knight Rises likely to be his last Batman movie, Christian Bale might just be on the lookout for a new franchise to keep him busy. And furthermore, he might just have got one.
Bale is the running favourite, according to the New York Post, to play the role of Roland Deschain in The Dark Tower, with competition including Javier Bardem and Viggo Mortensen.
The project is set to be helmed by Ron Howard, although he was still being a bit vague about his commitment to it when we interviewed him last week. But it's likely that he'll be signing up shortly.
Furthermore, casting speculation links Dexter's Jennifer Carpenter with The Dark Tower, with Naomie Harris and Ghita Tazi also linked with the role of Susannah Dean.
The Dark Tower is planned for cinema release on May 17th 2013. So, there's a while yet for the various pieces to fall into place.


Saturday, January 8, 2011

David Bowie's Birthday

Today is David Bowie's 64th birthday. And that's great for him. But what is great for us [me] is our local public radio station, 89.3 The Current is playing 64 David Bowie in a row! Seems we get the birthday gift, this time, Mr. Bowie.

With 64 songs, they're playing most of his hits as expected, but also some songs like Memory of a Free Festival. So far that was the one that made me sigh the most- Wow, I can't believe that played that one, kind of thing.  So good!

I've been a Bowie fan ever since Sarah wished her young step-brother, Toby, away to the Goblin King.

What a career this man has had. These songs have been jumping all over illustrating just how diverse his music is. It's evident to me how influential his music is particularly to the regular music on this station. I remember my obsession with Bowie peeked 14 years ago while he was all over the media with his 50th birthday. Today, the Current has been incredibly awesome! What other station does that? Oh, I'm pretty sure none.

[ 89.3 Website ]

Thank you, Current. And  Happy Birthday, David Bowie.
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