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December 2001

Download the word version, perfect for printing and handing out on street corners!
In this issue:    Harry Potter, Prince of Darkness! Star Trek! TV Terrors! PLUS: Coca Cola Christ! Literature! and What Ash Really Wants for Christmas!.

There's never a happier time in Hollywood than when the powers that be are able to exploit something near and dear to children's hearts and gain trucks full of profit from it. Usually on the agenda, if all goes according to their evil world domination scheme, that first entails getting the lil' ones to drag their parental folks out to a movie that mom and dad really don't want to see 2 or 3 times all that much. It doesn't end there, oh no, my naïve reader. After leaving the theatre, the little ones whine and complain until every piece of canned/boxed food in the house features something in the shape of the movie's characters. Then there's action figures, board/video games, bed-sheets, posters, watches, shoes...an endless list of over-priced items that the child will need. Without each and every one of them, the kid is likely to be ridiculed and bullied by its peers and forced to drop out of public education in favor of taking up a trade like mining or locksmithery.

The tinseltown fat cats are especially happy if said project can spawn sequels or spin-offs. This year is no exception. They've been quite successful at their game of squashing original concepts in favor for the easy sell. There have even been a couple of original scripts that were sure to cause executive producers and studio executives alike to salivate at the thought of brand new franchises of films, and TV shows after the weekend box office grosses came in. More bags of money to buy that spare mansion and extra fleet of Porsches with .

But the two big boys were saved 'till the end of the year, to make the most of that runaway behemoth known as The Holidays. Two giantly budgeted movies that studios not only hoped would instigate sequels...but that they absolutely knew would. In both cases, the second chapters were being worked on before the first hit the thousands of multi-plexed silver screens across the globe. Both adapted from books with huge amounts of die-hard fans, just waiting to throw their hard-earned cash at the clerks. Of course, those two movies are Harry Potter and Lord of the Rings.

The version of Harry Potter that we Canadians get to see is subtitled The Philosopher's Stone. The version that our Yankee friends to the south got is called The Sorcerer's Stone. Little did I know of the average American child's love of sorcery and hatred of philosophy...and vice versa for Canadian kids. Who knew? The movie stars 3 annoying lil' British kids, the bad guy from Die Hard, TV's Cracker, a Monty Python guy, Willow (the midget...not the lesbian babe) and everyone's favorite drunk: Richard Harris. It's directed by Chris Columbus, who not only helmed such classics as Home Alone I and II, Mrs. Doubtfire and Stepmom but also discovered America. In his defense, he also used to write good movies like Gremlins and Goonies.

The story follows an abused and abandoned young man who is forced to live in a closet. Then one day a giant comes to his house, kidnaps him and brings him to a school to teach him about the wonders of witchcraft. From there I kind of lost track as to what exactly was going on. There was some kind of flying soccer broom game, a lil' dragon, a big 3 headed dog and a cloak of invisibility. Then the 3 annoying kids played a giant chess game, and the one with glasses defeated a guy with 2 faces thanks to a rock that magically appeared in his pocket. At the end (I think the total running time was somewhere around 6 hours), all the characters wave at the camera and say "See you next year kids!". It's made a couple hundred million dollars in its first 10 days or so. The best part of the movie was when Ewan McGregor was having this big fight with Jango Fett, and then Anakin's all mad and says, "It's all Obi Wan's fault!". Uh...well, of course that was actually the trailer for Episode II. Well worth the price of admission.

Lord of the Rings (with more of a target audience leaning towards the 30 year old, 250 pound comic geeks who live in their parents basements crowd) hits theatres in December. It's much more promising, considering that it's directed by someone with actual talent: Peter Jackson. He brought us such great movies that made no money like Heavenly Creatures, the Frighteners, and the gore fest masterpiece, Dead Alive. It's sure to be leaps and bounds better then the pile of traced garbage that was Ralph Bashki's cheaply and poorly animated version of the tale. I wish I had known that big budget (meaning good) versions of the stories were being produced. 'Cause man, let me tell you...getting through those books wasn't easy. Just the willpower it took to put in the effort to flip from one page to the next was like reading one of those big rock paged caveman tomes that you see Fred reading on The Flintstones. Sure, there are lots of cool battle scenes and monsters...but it's paralleled by a hell of a lot of fruity poetry and singing (which has thankfully reportedly been completely cut from the upcoming motion picture). The movie stars the kid from Flipper, that big dude from Indiana Jones I and III, Magneto, Queen Elizabeth and horror movie legend and all around cool guy, Christopher Lee. The greedy money grabbing schemes from Lord of the Rings have already begun to appear. Including my personal favorite, the Lord of the Onion Rings value combo meal at Burger King. I'm sure that that's exactly what the late J.R.R.R. Tolkien hoped for as a legacy. Tasty onion rings.

There's nothing that moviemakers love more than making a glossy, meticulously planned movie going experience that will cause current and future generations of people to read less of those dusty, smelly, old, outdated books. And this winter looks to be a resounding success on all fronts. I mean, think about it. Do we ride around in horse and carriage? Do we live in dwellings the likes of Little House on the Prairie? Do doctors drill holes in their patients heads to let the evil demons out? Does anyone go to church anymore? No, no ,no and no. So then, why the hell should we as a society read books? What do you think TV and movies were invented for anyhow? To make our lives better by causing the overall extinction of the written word. Congratulations to Hollywood, and good luck with future endeavors from all your friends at PULP.

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