Either your browser's javascript has been disabled or it needs an update! Please re-enable your javascript program or update your browser to view this page as designed. Nolan's Pop Culture Review 2001 Banner! Number 65 (Vol 2, No. 25).  This edition is for the week of June 18--24, 2001.
"Atlantis" vs "Nadia"
The Lion King all over again?

You may remember Disney's landmark animated film "The Lion King" had problems with accusations of plagiarizing a book called "Simba" (or something like that) years ago? Well, here we go again...

Disney's "Atlantis: The Lost Empire", which just opened to pretty good reviews, is being slammed left and right, once again, for ripping-off another company's project/idea/theme, this one from over a decade ago. A grateful nod to good friend Scott van Sickle who brought this eye-opener to my attention (see More Fan Friends update, this issue).

Seems about 1990 there was a 39-episode Japanimation TV series called "Nadia". It followed the adventures of a nerdy, cerebral young man who is skinny, with over-size glasses and big red bowtie. He embarks on a quest to find Atlantis. Along the way he meets a woman unlike any he's known before who turns out to be a princess of Atlantis. To save her kingdom from invaders she must unleash her hidden power. She wears a blue crystal pendant, a skimpy bikini and sarong costume, a gold arm band and hoop earrings.
   Fast-forward to 2001. In "Atlantis: The Lost Empire", a nerdy, skinny young inventor, who wears over-size glasses and a big red bowtie embarks on a quest to find Atlantis. Along the way he meets a woman unlike any he's known before who turns out to be a princess from the long-lost continent. To save her kingdom from invaders she must unleash her hidden power. She wears a blue crystal pendant, a skimpy bikini and sarong costume, a gold arm band and hoop earrings.

This is just the tip of the iceberg. For more information and a fascinating point-by-point comparison, I invite everyone to read "Nadia vs Atlantis" (http://zero-city.com/ nadia/ nadia_vs _atlantis.html). Most of the characters, machines, and even battle scenes in "Atlantis" have a direct "ancestor" in "Nadia".


GEORGE LUCAS: "STOP TRYING TO 'IMPROVE' EPISODE 1!!" I heard this one on the radio and it's a howler. Any long-time Star Wars fans have no doubt visited fan sites where there are spoofs of the Star Wars movies. Some are made with clips from the actual film. George Lucas tends to tolerate it except when they take too much of the movie verbatim, i.e., lengthy direct copies of the soundtrack like the South Park people got in a little trouble for.
   Apparently, a lot of pirated video copies of the complete film "Star Wars, Episode 1: The Phantom Menace" have fallen into the hands of lots of fans who have access to digital editing equipment. Furthermore, these fans have gone to the trouble of re-editing the whole movie in order to "improve" it. (Ha ha...Jar Jar Binks is the first to go, no doubt!) These re-edits are then posted(?) or resold to other fans as a weird sort of "improved director's cut".
   Not surprisingly, George Lucas has taken offense at this practice and issued a public statement reminding everyone that those are his movies and he owns the sole copyright and violations will not be tolerated. Translation: Lucas considers himself an editor more than a director, HE'S the one who edited Phantom Menace, you're making him look like an idiot, and don't tell him how to edit his movies no matter how much of an idiot he appears to be!!
   Hey, George: TAKE THE HINT!!!! Sure, you have every right to protect your interests. But, look at what the fans did. You might learn something. LOL!! Some other time, I'd like to discuss what happens when a creation outgrows it's creator (a la Star Wars, Star Trek. etc.,..) and fans seem to have more control than the controllers.
(UPDATE: 6-21-01. Mike Scott took umbrage at the tone of the above article and wrote me that either the radio report I heard, or my interpretation of it, is skewed. To be fair, read what he has to say in this issue's "Letters".---Nolan)
THE TOP FIVE ACTORS I'D MOST LIKE TO SEE REPLACE GEORGE CLOONEY AS "BATMAN".
Respondng to Matt's newest Top Ten challenge (see PCR issue 64) here is the list of actors I'd prefer to see play Batman besides George Clooney! Some of these may surprise you.
1. Alec Baldwin has, to me, always been the obvious choice for Bruce Wayne/Batman. His "The Shadow" was an obvious thumbing of the genre. Why wasn't he asked instead of Michael Keaton the first time? He would have been perfect in 1986. And he is authentically from New York (Gotham). However, age is quickly becoming an issue with him and other previous top contenders like Kurt Russell.
2. Jeff Bridges. Again, his sincerity and vulnerability moves him up the ladder for me. Unfortunately, like Baldwin, he'd have to play an older Batman.
3. Kurt Russell. See the top two choices for nearly the same, age-related comments. He would have also been great for a mid-1980s Batman.
4. Ben Afleck. Too "mall rats-ish?" Maybe. But, he's the right age, a good jawline, and is from the New York area.
5. Russell Crowe. Needs to be a might taller, but a good mix of physical presence and barely-contained sanity that Batman needs. Obviously a fighter. But obviously he's not from around here! (Aussie, I think?) (UPDATE: 6-21-01. Steve Beasley writes: "Note: Russell Crowe is a blinkin' Kiwi, mate! A bloody NZ'er! Not an Aussie."   LOL!! OOPS...sorry to besmirch such sacred ground, Steve!---N)

THE TOP FIVE ACTORS WHO SHOULD NEVER PLAY BATMAN
1. Keanu Reeves.  "Whoa....Robin....it's like totally dark in my soul....whoa...duuuude!" Mr. Valley-boy? Gimme a break.
2. Dolph Lundgren.  Yes, could fill out the costume admirably well. Great martial-arts moves. Would have made my top five list except I could never believe him as Bruce Wayne.
3. Nicholas Cage.  I respect his Academy Award-winning performances, don't get me wrong. But, I laughed before when he was put forth as a likely Superman. He absolutely does not have the commanding physical presence needed to be either Batman or Superman. I think he hails from New York, tho, and that's a plus---maybe the only one.
4. Tom Cruise.  Nah. Too short and too...er....sensitive. I could possibly believe him as Bruce Wayne, but never as Batman.
5. George Clooney.  I've given this a lot of thought. Really...I can't figure out why his turn as Batman was such a failure. I think he's from New York. He certainly could cop an attitude (barely-contained sanity) as evidenced in "From Dusk till Dawn" and "The Perfect Storm". He's a little gray, yes, but still a formidable physical presence. That leaves me with the only option left: he looked ridiculous in the costume! It's like someone so grizzled would never put on a costume that made him look like a candidate for The Village People or something.

About Michael Keaton and Val Kilmer.  I respect what Tim Burton was trying to do, but I've often been stymied by his bizarre sense of casting. (Then again, I thought, "...why Martin Landau to play Bela Lugosi---he looks nothing like him!" Not only was I annihilated by Landau in the part, he won an Oscar for best supporting actor, so what do I know). All I remember is Burton was obsessed that Michael Keaton and Jack Nicholson had the same eyebrows. What a lame way to cast such important parts!! Keaton was too small physically, but was credibly disturbed emotionally and was believable as Bruce Wayne. The costume was so restraining, tho, that sometimes entire fight scenes were choreographed around him swinging on his trick lassos or whatever.
   Val Kilmer was much better. A little too baby-faced and pretty to be a threatening Batman, but was certainly more physically graceful in the part than any of the others. Was believable as Bruce Wayne, and showed familiarity with martial-arts-type moves. However, while he was clever and organized, he never displayed the barely-contained sanity that is so vital to the part. As an aside, I personally don't think he was ever comfortable in the role.


  As you may recall last issue, I was pontificating on the plusses and minuses of the so-called "Internet Romance" where two people meet online, fall in love, meet in-person, and then...whatever. I had mentioned that three of my male friends' lives had been irrevocably altered by this experience. My first subject for focus was Steve Beasley who traveled to Auckland, New Zealand to meet his internet sweetheart face-to-face for the first time.
   Well, after 3 weeks, Steve returned to Tampa Sunday morning.
   In short, the trip was successful, with no ugly surprises. His girl, "Sose" (in legitimate Kiwi, this is pronounced "Sauce-Say"...but she prefers it like it reads, i.e., "Sose" rhymes with "dose") and Steve had been honest with each other about all pertinent issues. (Some time I'll get into some funny areas where Steve had to be a little...er...coerced...by me before he'd let full-body pix of himself get on the internet.) Steve had a wonderful vacation and the two got to know each other. Now the kicker....
   Near the end of the third week, Steve and Sose went to the top of a volcano named Mt. Eden. Nearabouts the rim, Steve officially proposed and Sose accepted. No date set yet, but she is coming to America later this year. I'm very happy for the both of them.
   Steve emailed me a picture of the ring just after he got home. I'd love to show other pictures of New Zealand, but the idiot left the film in New Zealand (along with a few other things). Now that's Steve. Sose is shipping it stateside pronto.
Scott van Sickle MORE FAN FRIENDS. Update. The dashing figure in the picture at left is Bassist Extraordinaire, Mr. Scott van Sickle, taken at Castle Canova, last Sunday, June 17, 2001. No doubt, he's changed quite a bit from y'alls memories!
   The reclusive and elusive Mr. van Sickle and I never lost contact and see each other frequently during the year.
   Scotty is a gifted artist and musician. He was there at the first HATS band practices in the '70s and continued on throughout the Blade years in the '80s and beyond. As a bassist, he is known for his progressive and technically proficient style. In person, he is a very beautiful and quiet individual who rarely complains.
Scott's cover work!    One of his most-often-remembered physical features was the most incredible mane of chest-length brown hair you could see on a man. Well, as you can see in the picture, the mane has been shorn and his baby-face has some facial hair!
   Scotty is 38 years old, lives in Tampa, and has been married once. He lost his mom 2 Decembers ago to cancer. He has a brother, Andrew, who just relocated to Florida.
   Scott has kept up with comic-fan related activities (better than I've been, I'll tell you what), and some of his comics work has been published in underground magazines (Catfight Comics) under the name "Scott Dervish". (The picture at right is Scott's cover for ThunderGirls #1). He has been attracted to the prospect of video production. The next Blade reunion may have just taken another step backward: Scott is seriously considering relocating to North Carolina, where a good friend and associate of his is involved in producing Catfight videos.
   Some related links:Catfight Comics, specifically the "Catalog" button, then to comics-related links where more of Scott's art can be viewed. And lexiefyfe.com, where the main graphic is a T-shirt design Scott did for Lexie.
The above article, with some modifications, will eventually see itself on my WAAAY overdue-for-updating More Fan Friends page....whenever I can get to THAT!

Announcements

SAD "OLD-GANG" NEWS:
R.I.P.
Stephen Loreto "Stevie" Sousa
January 24, 1965---June 18, 2001.
"Stevie" Sousa, 36, youngest brother of Andromeda Society ex-president Rick Sousa, died Monday night (6-18-01) from complications resulting from AIDS.
   I worked with Stevie at Qualex Photo for 7 years (on Gandy Blvd., since closed and the building sold) and I can tell you, he was a kind, sweet and generous person. He had a great sense of humor and was surprisingly well-versed and opinionated about a lot of things. Too few people know that because he was slow to warm to strangers. He was extremely shy, but if you were patient enough to earn his trust, he would express himself a little more. We became good friends.
   In 1995, Steve moved to the Orlando Qualex, which, according to his brother, Rick, was a terrible mistake as he was never the same afterwards. He moved back home to Tampa in 1996.
    He was in the hospital earlier this year with liver/hepatitis problems (in retrospect, that was likely related) and that was the last I ever spoke with him. He never discussed the details of his illness with anyone and even his own family didn't know he was dying of AIDS until a week or so ago. How exactly he contracted AIDS will remain a mystery. I should add here, tho, that no one believes he was gay (not that that would have changed our feelings about him). But he was quite the partier.
Contact info: to send an email of consolation to the family, Rick's email address is: rsousa@tampabay.rr.com.
If you'd like to send an email to his parents, their address is: SOUSARJ@msn.com.
There is no address to send flowers as the Sousas have decided Stevie will be cremated and only immediate family members will be present. Stevie Sousa will be missed by everyone who got to know him.
UPDATE: 6-21-01. I recommend reading a moving tribute to Steve Sousa written by his sister-in-law, Rick's wife, Janet:  "In Loving Memory of Stephen Sousa.".


Mike's Rant!

Readers: Mike's Rant came in after the news of Steve Sousa's death (see "Announcements", this issue) was announced to him privately. It affected him in such a way that he postponed his usual column to render the following piece.---Nolan.

Hello gang. I sat down today with a sad heart. I had all kinds of things to tell you this week, but they will have to wait. Shall we begin:

LITTLE BROTHERS
My friend Rick lost his little brother, Steve, this week. I remember him as a cute kid. He was always trying to tag along with us. It didn't matter if we were going to the Book Nook or just hanging outside, he would be one step behind us!

As I write this, I think back to all of the other little brothers we had to deal with. Colby Gilbert, Jay Gregory, Ron Canova (though his booming voice made him sound like he was 10 years our senior). I know Nolan, Matt and I looked out for Corey like he was our little brother. I know Mark Drinnenberg looked out for Matt, and me for that matter, like the big brother he was to us.

And then I started thinking about my little brother. When my parents divorced in 1973, I went with my father. My brother, Barry, who was almost 5 at the time, went with my mom. Due to the bitterness between my parents, I didn't see Barry for almost eight years. But I would always think about him, and wonder what he was doing. I would think back to the times he would get up in the middle of the night, somehow unlock the front door, and wander over to the neighbor's house. I remember one night having to go to bed early for something he did and biting myself on the arm. I called my father in and showed him the bite marks, tearfully stating how Barry had bitten me. And I remember all of the fun times we would have on Saturday mornings. We would get up early and run downstairs for cartoons. In the oven would be a bowl of popcorn that our mother had made for us the night before. We would sit in front of the t.v. all morning, shoulder to shoulder, and laugh at the exploits of our animated friends. I remember all of the times I would walk into the house after school and how he would run to greet me, yelling "Mike's home, Mike's home" as if I was visiting royalty. How he would crawl into bed with me during thunder storms and slip right off to sleep, knowing that his big brother would protect him.

I'm not as in touch with Barry as I'd like to be these days. In a corner of my house sits his comic book collection, which became mine many years ago when he needed to borrow some money and my mom wouldn't help him. I remember him offering them to me, and then asking me to let him keep the "X-men" ones, as they were his favorite. Of course I said yes. After all, he's my little brother.

Letters to the Editor

Matt's Rail        by Matthew Drinnenberg
To be fair, Matt's Rail arrived last weekend before ANY of us knew the fate of Steve Sousa (see "Announcements" this issue). I know Matt, who also knew Steve, will have something to say about him in next week's Rail.---Nolan.

Greetings one and all. I think I'll begin with Batmania...

TOP TEN ACTORS WHO SHOULD PLAY BATMAN "BEFORE" GEORGE CLOONEY:
1. Val Kilmer:  My first choice as I feel he was the best Batman. And he and Chris [ODonnell] worked off each other well. Much better than Clooney.
2. Nicolas Cage:  Talk about intensity, he would give us a demanding, brooding, explosive Bat.
3. Russell Crowe:  The Academy Award winner, himself. Easily could be the masked man.
4. Keanu Reeves:  The Matrix is the only proof I need that he could be an excellent Caped Crusader.
5. Mike Smith:  I can see it now..."careful, Catwoman, and let go of my Uncle Willie.... NOT..... huh,huh,huh,huh"
6. Bugs Bunny:  Bugs would bring a definite cleverness as he shrewdly deals with his nemisis. Much in the same way he's bested Elmer Fudd on so many occasions.
7. Bruce Campbell:  Without a doubt would return the Campy Cowl to the Batman legend, as created by Adam West. I could almost beg for it.
8. Tom Cruise:  Wouldn't be my first choice, obviously, but let's face it...this guy would only need platforms.
9. Kurt Russell:  Yeah, okay, comes in at #9 but STILL better than Clooney.
10. Me:  "Yeah Robin, I'd like to watch the Cowboys game but I gotta do this...". (forgive my inside humor)(Long story, everybody...---N)

HEY HEY WE'RE THE MONKEES
Looks like OUR [pre-] Fab Four is about to hit the road again this summer. The official site says its a "tour extension", so possibly Nesmith will be with them. I'll keep checking and let you know. They will be playing in the Boston area July 14th. Look for them in Melbourne, Fort Myers, and Sarasota July 26th thru the 28th, respectively. Click www.monkees.net to visit the site for tour dates near you!

NEW MONSTER SITE
There is a site now on the net that pays tribute to classic covers of classic mags from the 50's and beyond. The site also has possibly the best "link" page around. Knowing some of you have checked out my site due to this page, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one, also. Go to www.geocities.com/unifan2001/index.html and you'll see what I mean!

THE LEAVENWORTH LEVIATHAN
Congrats to Phillip Smith, who it seems likes coming out of games with crucial plays added to his baseball resumé. Nolan and I are still waiting for our autographed baseballs.

Till next time,
Take care and God bless,
Matthew


Mike Scott

Actually, the truth of the matter on the Lucas article you mentioned, (See: "George Lucas says...STOP!" at the top of this issue.---N) was that Lucas had no problem with the fan-edited version of Star Wars. In fact, he even seemed pleased with the whole thing. This is a similar reaction to most fan-created items; As long as it's not sold for massive amounts of profit, he has no problem with it.

However, a few things happened here which forced Lucas's hand:
#1- He doesn't own the soundtrack, and it was dutifully copied onto the finished project which is highly punishable all by itself. (Soundtracks have closely and jealously guarded copyrights, though I'm not sure why).
#2 - Copyright laws specifically state that if anyone does something that violates your copyright, and you can be proven to be aware of the infringement, then you must prosecute, or your material will be released from all copyright coverage within a specified period of time. On a small scale, this is typically ignored because it's difficult to prove that someone had knowledge of the fan-created item, but as the story got larger, it was something that had to be officially noticed.
#3 - The movie was being released all over the place, forcing him to officially recognize it as a copyright threat. It was also being posted on sites that use advertising banners. When advertising banners are paid for, then suddenly the Star Wars movie is being used to draw an income.

Just so you know...Lucas has gone on record as saying that his target audience found Jar Jar to be a compelling character. (Well, yeah, Target carries the toys!---N) Older patrons may not have liked Jar Jar, but I'll bet that more people liked the character than are willing to admit it. (Naaaah...N)  Personally, I know folks that are like Jar Jar (Poor bastards...N), and I found it quite refreshing to be annoyed at him---similar to people who "groan" after a bad pun. Does that mean no one appreciated the pun? Or does it suggest that the pun was INTENDED to annoy folks a little? Or is that merely a conditioned response of "cool" people that would rather not let anyone know that they did, in fact, secretly, partially, enjoy the pun.  (Mike...really...it's OK. I still respect you even tho you secretly/partially liked Jar Jar...all is forgiven!  But, as far as MY digital re-edit...you're off the team. So sorry.  In MY version, there is no Jar Jar, the underwater and pod-race sequences are shortened dramatically, Qui-Gon lives, and there's tons more Darth Maul!  Haven't heard from Terence, but I think it's safe to say in his re-edit he's removing ALL CGI footage and cancelling any other scene that has toy tie-ins.  Anyone else out there taking a crack at re-editing "The Phantom Menace?"---Nolan)

A comment on the Batman thing: As I noted in my column two months ago (issue # 55): The movie is supposed to be about Batman in his first year of crime fighting, and Clooney was the guy they'd picked for it at that point, while the script was still being written. (Readers: that's "Batman: Year One", the forthcoming Aronofsky movie based on the comic series.---N) I sincerely wish that this new information about Clooney-as-Batman was just a rumor circulating, based on the fact that his contract is good for 2 more Batman sequels, and not an official confirmation that Clooney has officially been signed on. I'd really been hoping that they'd have gotten someone else for the role by now. I happen to personally like Clooney, and in the "new and improved" Batman theme for this movie, I can't think of anyone that could play the role stronger. However, age is definitely a factor here.. I sincerely hope that they find someone else that looks more like a younger Batman than Clooney does. It's a rookie Batman this time; he's running around fighting crime, guerilla warfare style, with possibly even a dramatically "enhanced" angry edge that Clooney has already proven he can do VERY well. (Like part of his role in "From Dusk Till Dawn.") For my idea of the perfect acting blend for the new Batman theme, think Michael Keaton's Batman, plus Mel Gibson's Mad Max, plus Clooney's "Dusk til Dawn" character's anger, and the apparent youthfulness of Keanu Reeves, or "Marky Mark".
Mike
deadguy@email.msn.com


"Mike's Rant" is ©2001 by Michael A. Smith    "Matt's Rail" is ©2001 by Matt Drinnenberg    Thanks to "Deadguy" Scott for his letter and add'l commentary.    All contents this page are ©2001 by Nolan B. Canova.

This issue of Nolan's Pop Culture Review is dedicated to the memory of Stephen L. Sousa

Webpage design and all graphics herein are creations of  Nolan B. Canova, ©2001