Good Memories of 2010, Day 3: The Black Widow

Fifteen or more years back, some friends and I were talking and the question arose, “If you could write and direct a movie about any Marvel Comics character, who would it be?”

I didn’t even think about it. “The Black Widow.”

It wasn’t an answer I’d have predicted. I wasn’t an enormous Black Widow fan, and hadn’t really given her much consideration in any way when I wasn’t reading about her or admiring some George Perez portraiture. But when the question appeared, my mind was on the case, and the sultry sexiness, mystery, and espionage background of the heroine offered up exactly the sort of cool superheroic options I was in the mood for.

And there’s just never enough hot femme fatales in catsuits on the screen. Continue reading

Harry Potter and The Sexy Hallows (Updated)

Haven’t seen Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows yet, but have read all the books. But I had this short dialogue on Facebook with writer Alex Wells in which I shared some thoughts I’d had when I read Hallows:

Tim Byrd

Tim Byrd I hope the movie has that part where they’re in a tent for several years waiting for the plot to happen.

Friday at 9:42pm 


      Alex Wells Come on – don’t they get in some arguments and give each other dirty looks and stuff? 

      Yesterday at 8:31am ·

      Tim Byrd I’ve always suspected that Rowling meant for Harry and Hermione to sleep together while Ron has abandoned them, making for some uncomfortable subtext once he returns. But she chickened out and left the tent sequence essentially dramatically inert. 

      Yesterday at 8:40am ·

      Tim Byrd See also: Dumbledore’s homosexuality, which she didn’t have the courage to depict on the page, when it mattered most. Though kudos to her for outing him after the fact. 

      Yesterday at 8:43am ·

      Alex Wells I would have loved it if she ventured into these realms – it would have made conversations with my kids more interesting and relevant (ok they’re only 9 – not too relevant). The HP books are also the most blatant display of the changes the publishing industry has gone through – no money to pay for a kick-ass, hardcore editor, but all the money in the world for advertising the top ten popular books. 

      23 hours ago ·

      Tim Byrd 

      It’s been a while since I read them, but I remember puberty seething in the penultimate books, as the characters grew up. Then she builds this situation with them as they enter adulthood, and all that passion is pretty much gone (though I understand Emma Watson taps into it in one unreal scene in the flick). I think she was going there, and I think she had a failure of nerve.And you’re right on the editing. I love Rowling’s work, but the last two books particularly needed a strong second opinion before going to press. 

      UPDATE: More commentary added Continue reading

Timwolf’s Guide to Halloween

For the interested, here are some posts from back in my blog somewheres related to Halloweeny goodness…

5 Classic Horror Flicks to Goose Your Bumps

…for those who might like to watch something scary and good, I figured I’d throw you a few bones. Collect ‘em all and you can build a skeleton.

These are just five classics, not my all time favorites or anything with that much thought behind it, not in any particular order. All of them are first rate.

5 New Classic Horror Flicks You Might Have Missed

Some more contemporary works that many people haven’t seen, and everybody who loves a good scare needs to.

Saturday Night With Cthulhu

Sebastian’s Voodoo (A Great Short Film)

A wonderful short animated film by UCLA student Joaquin Baldwin. It’s visually amazing, and the story is very moving.

Doc Savage News

I reported a while back that my old friend Shane Black (writer of Lethal Weapon among other things) was scripting a Doc Savage movie. As many of the folks who’d care most about this sort of thing likely already know, it was recently confirmed that not only is Shane writing the screenplay (along with Anthony Bagarozzi and Chuck Mondry), he will be directing the film as well. Anyone who has seen Shane’s directorial debut, Kiss Kiss Bang Bang, will know how exciting this news really is.

With Sam Raimi working on The Shadow, it’s looking very promising for pulp adventure in the near future. Now all we need is a Bruce Timm adaptation of Doc Wilde and the world will truly be on the right track.

In related news, DC Comics just released the first issue of their First Wave series, in which they establish an alternate world, outside the normal DC universe, in which pulp heroes operate, and no one has super-powers. The greatest of the heroes in this world is, of course, Doc Savage.

The First Wave series actually began last year with the one-shot Batman/Doc Savage special I reviewed in November. I was underwhelmed, but still hopeful that the actual series would be good.

Well, I just read First Wave #1, and it’s awesome pulp and awesome comics. Brian Azzarello’s writing and treatment of these classic characters honors their roots while at the same time deepening their emotional lives and rooting them realistically into the world. And artist Rags Morales brings the cast to vivid life with a style that’s both realistic and somewhat cartoony, befitting the pulp nature of the work. My only beef with the book is that Doc Savage’s hair color and complexion are still off, though not as badly as they were in the Batman team-up book.

Great stuff.

Where, Oh Where, Have The Tits Gone?

I don’t have the same overarching esteem for Roger Ebert that many folks do, but I recently had a bit of his review of Black Lightning brought to my attention that I got a kick out of:

I am happy to say it brings back an element sadly missing in recent movies, gratuitous nudity. Sexy women would “happen” to be topless in the 1970s movies for no better reason than that everyone agreed, including themselves, that their breasts were a genuine pleasure to regard — the most beautiful naturally occurring shapes in nature, I believe. Now we see breasts only in serious films, for expressing reasons. There’s been such a comeback for the strategically positioned bed sheet, you’d think we were back in the 1950s.

Preach it, Brother Roger.

Tim Burton’s Weekend At Bernie’s

In the same wonderful spirit as Wes Anderson’s Spider-Man, here’s a taste of what Tim “Frankenweenie” Burton might do with the noir classic Weekend At Bernie’s.

Johnny Depp features. But then, it’s a Burton piece.

It’s here. I’d have embedded it, but it won’t. So.

Good Memories of 2009, Day 7: Avatar and Avatar

Avatar & Avatar

This was a year in which I got to enjoy two creations called “Avatar,” and how often does that happen? Perhaps it’s a sign.

The first was the Nickelodeon cartoon Avatar: The Last Airbender

The second, of course, was James Cameron’s science fiction epic Avatar, in theaters now earning a billion plus dollars.

Let’s talk the Cameron film first, saving the best for last. Continue reading

Rudolph Is In Danger!

Keith “Kez” Wilson is a master of the mashup, taking artwork and cover designs from Bantam’s Doc Savage paperbacks 0f the 1960s-80s and combining them with imagery from genre films to incredible effect.

Here’s the haunting tale of Doc’s encounter with an angry amphibious atavist…

(Hmmm…perhaps a cousin of the Frogs of Doom…?)

And here, his dread meeting with a golem fashioned from corpse parts…

The latest is a very special Christmas adventure involving the most famous supernaturally illuminating ruminant of all…

I’d read these books. Kez has a bunch of ’em, all cool. You can check them out at his site.

Shane Black On The Writer And Fear

I’ve mentioned Shane Black a few times recently. A friend from years back, he’s also the screenwriter responsible for a few classic flicks, among them Lethal Weapon and Kiss Kiss Bang Bang. Recently, he’s been working on the script for the forthcoming Doc Savage movie.

So Shane knows what it’s like to put bread on the table (and in the bank) by typing words out of your head.

Writer Billy Mernit recently blogged about Shane’s visit to the “Writing the Character-Driven Screenplay” class that Billy’s in. Shane made some comments about writers and fear that are worth reading for anyone facing the sinister blank screen…

I know it’s tough to say, ‘Don’t be afraid,’ or ‘Think positive,’ but…There really is just no other way to go.  You’re up against a wall, you’ve decided you want to do something, you’re having some adversity – you can either play out your hand or quit.  And I suggest that… My career came down to one moment like that.

I was working on a script called Shadow Company in 1984, and I was on page one, and I showed it to my brother – he hated it.  I sat down and I thought, “I can’t do this.  I sat down to write a screenplay – I don’t know screenplays, what am I doing, this is so stupid… And I thought: I don’t want to write!  I don’t want to do this, I can’t.

I’m a one-finger typist.  And I said – Just do it.  [Shane holds his one typing forefinger in the air, and jabs it an invisible keyboard.] I went, ‘The… rain… lashes…  Ground… Bla-bla-blah.  I started typing – I hate this, I hate this, I hate this, I hate this – and all of a sudden, I’m: Huh, okay that’s a good line. What would he say there?  Okay, he says this… And three pages later, I had a scene, and it became a script – and it sold, optioned – and it got me Lethal Weapon.

It came down to this.  I had a piece of paper in a typewriter and my finger poised to hit one key and I couldn’t do it, I didn’t want to do it all.  All I wanted to do was stop.  And I hit the key.  And now I have a career.  So that’s the leap of faith.

The whole piece is here.

Blood of Eden: “a very complex and sophisticated tale”

Recently, I posted about a screenplay that Steve Antczak and I wrote called Blood of Eden, which got fairly close to becoming a Die Hard movie.

In that post, I mentioned that the producer’s “coverage” (a detailed summary/review of the script for in-house use) had been leaked, but I wasn’t able to find it.

Thankfully, “belzecue” posted a comment to that entry, pointing to a copy of that coverage posted to a screenwriting news site.

Because the coverage is, naturally, full of spoilers, I don’t want to just dump it here or just post the URL, lest it ruin the reading of the actual full script for someone. It has a tricky twist or three I don’t want you to have spoiled.

So, I’m going to post a heavily redacted version first, editing out most of the plot details, but leaving in the writer’s general opinion of the story.

Then, after the jump, I’ll post the entire coverage, in the hopes that people won’t read it until they’ve read the actual script (you can find the link to it in the original entry). To make the read easier, I’m adding some paragraph breaks where there weren’t any, as the original uses huge blocks of text that won’t read well online.


Title of Submission: Blood of Eden
Author: Tim Byrd & Steve Antczak
Date Covered: 9/2/99
Genre: Action Adventure

This screenplay’s story is a very complex and sophisticated tale, presenting its drama and tension in an undersea setting. While there are more and more space- and sea-oriented films these days, this screenplay stands out on the merits of its excellent writing and the incredibly detailed, yet believable, environment in which it takes place. I have some plausibility questions, but they are minor and can be easily addressed….

While the characters’ main personalities and motivations are clear, I’d like to see them developed a bit more…In this story, it’s very refreshing to see all the bad guys (the ninja) referenced by name, rather than by Ninja #1, Ninja #2…it’s a nice thing to have the bad guys be real people names…

Dialogue in this screenplay is a mixed bag. Overall, it’s fine, and it’s especially refreshing to hear the Japanese bad guys using realistic dialogue. Unfortunately, this quickly unravels into typical American macho expletives. The contrast of Japanese thought and phrasing versus the language we are used to hearing is one of the points which made this screenplay unique. Also, some of the American dialogue is either weak (“then the bad guys struck”) or too obvious as exposition (Travis and Desmond comparing backgrounds). In an otherwise very fine screenplay, dialogue is an area that could use improvement.

“Blood of Eden” is more action-packed than theme-packed, but does touch on several interesting topics, including nationalism versus Pacific Rim countries, maternal and paternal instincts, heroism and honor.

The writers do a stellar job of writing action, weaving a tense, sophisticated and compelling tale. Their descriptions of environment and physical action, in particular, are exemplary. All of the hand-to-hand scenes are vividly depicted. The descriptions of the Edensphere do a great job of making the complex “seeable.” Lots of the action and other descriptions are almost literary in their quality, such as the spattering of bullets, the rushing of walls of water, etc. The writers’ challenge is to bring the quality of their characterizations and dialogue up to par with the rest of the screenplay, but I’m sure they can do it.

The structure here provides a strong foundation for the story. All scenes are vital and either propel the action or impart necessary information…

The writers have done a great job of imagining and describing an entire undersea environment and the rules for survival there. Edensphere’s location in the Pacific, however, is unclear. It’s not too far from San Francisco…but it’s clearly far enough north to be in frigid waters. From the “Northern Pacific” slug lines, I kept imaging someplace off the Alaska coast.

This screenplay has great potential as a very entertaining and marketable commercial venture. It gets off to a good start, jumps into action very quickly and keeps the action going til the very end…

And now, the un-redacted version… Continue reading

A Doc Savage Movie On The Way!!!


Art by Ruben Procopio

It’s no secret that Doc Savage, Lester Dent’s pulp hero from the 1930s and 40s, is a huge inspiration for my own character, Dr. Spartacus Wilde (who saves the Earth from Lovecraftian batrachia in Doc Wilde and The Frogs of Doom). I grew up on paperback reprints of the Doc Savage novels and they, along with other pulp sources I’ve written about, are strong strands of my literary DNA.

In fact, Grandpa Wilde (Spartacus’s father), the original Doc Wilde who was famous in the thirties and forties, is my intertextual acknowledgment that the original hero is parent to the current hero, but also speaks to the fact that the younger Wilde is his own man. As similar as he is to Savage, he is also very different in ways, not least of which is that he is a warm, emotionally accessible family man, unlike the stern and remote man of bronze.

Unlike The Shadow, the only character more popular during the pulp era, Doc Savage isn’t very well known these days, though his influence on characters ranging from Batman to James Bond is widespread. But there are still quite a few fans, many having grown up on the same books I did. One of them is Shane Black. Continue reading

Blood of Eden

Many moons ago, I was friends with Shane Black (who makes an appearance on the acknowledgments page of my book). He’s the guy who wrote Lethal Weapon and spent a few years wrestling Joe Eszterhas for highest amount ever paid for a screenplay (Shane’s personal best was $4,000,000 for The Long Kiss Goodnight, which was then run through the mediocritizer by director Renny Harlin).

Shane also wrote and directed the INCREDIBLE Kiss Kiss, Bang Bang, which is oceans full of fun, and has great performances by Robert Downey Jr., Val Kilmer, and Michelle Monaghan.

But I digress.

Seriously, we'll all be better off if you let Tim write the movie.

Seriously, we’ll all be better off if you let Tim write the movie.

Shortly after Lethal Weapon 2 was released, I had what I figured was a great idea for a third movie in the series. I wrote a treatment, and Shane took a look. Continue reading

The Life Before Her Eyes: beautifully crafted, beautifully written, beautifully performed (review)


Streaming movies on Netflix continues to be a source of discovery. It allows me (and you, if you sign up) to try any number of films I probably would never get around to, if I knew of them at all. Sometimes they’re duds (I tried 1994’s The Favor, for instance, and couldn’t bear more than ten or fifteen minutes), but sometimes they’re treasures.

The Life Before Her Eyes is a treasure. Continue reading