In case you needed another reason to like whiskey…
While researching for my Van Helsing Mixes Monsters for Movie Magic post I found out that there was a cartoon short released in conjunction with the major motion picture. Van Helsing: The London Assignment tells the story of what Van Helsing is doing in the days leading up to the start of the film.
Van Helsing is on the trail of a vicious London-based murderer who not only kills his lovely female victims, but leaves their bodies twisted and mummified. But even after this string of heinous crimes, the order to which Van Helsing belongs demands that he try to capture the fiend and save his soul from damnation.
He soon meets the monster, none other than the giant Mr. Hyde who helps Hugh Jackman open the live-action movie. In an interesting twist, Dr. Jekyll is every bit as evil (or even eviler) than his alter ego, but he is doing all in the name of love.
Years earlier his eyes met those of the young and beautiful Queen Victoria and he believes to that day that she fell in love with him in the same instance. Jekyll uses a potion concocted of the souls of his victims to grant her a new lease on life and with the help of his hellish minions he absconds with her to his fiery layer deep below the city. How will Van Helsing (and Carl the monk, of course) rescue the queen and save the day?
I called this 30 minute short a “diamond in the rough” because a lot of the animation is jerky and reminiscent of Hanna Barbara cartoons (no offense Scooby Doo!) with intermittent flashes of brilliance. The action sequences clearly got more love (or maybe just a bigger budget) than other scenes, which is to be expected, but it was kind of distractingly lopsided. That being said, it is a fun story that made me alternatingly chuckle and say “whoa!” It really felt like a noir comic book come to life, which was cool to see.
There is a nice documentary in the special features about the making of the live-action movie which is really cool. I learned that both Kate Beckingsale and Hugh Jackman did most if not all of their own amazing stunts.
You can watch the full cartoon through youtube below!
I have heard some hemming and hawing about the costumes in NBC’s Dracula because they aren’t “period” enough. Personally, I think that is part of what makes it steampunk rather than a period drama and therefore way more interesting. I watched a special about the making of the Tudors and I think the costumers on Dracula are taking the same approach: It’s not about historical accuracy, it is about making the audience look at clothes and get an impression about the person wearing them. For instance, records about the real Anne Boleyn show that she was on the forefront of fashion in her day, but how do you capture that for an audience that doesn’t know the difference between silk and satin?
So the costume designers made a compromise between authenticity and modern designs to appeal to the audience and give the impression of her changing status as her look evolved. The same goes for music in movies like Moulin Rouge and The Great Gatsby, these aren’t the original songs or even the original genre of music, but the point is to capture the excitement of the time and place and draw the audience into the world of the film.
And the same goes for NBC’s Dracula. The men’s clothing is absolutely gorgeous and connotes the huge wealth that Dracula and the Order Draco control. Except for during the occasional ball, Mina’s clothes are much plainer than Lucy’s, which brings their different social statuses into focus. Here are some costumes and sets for you to drool over.
I was puttering on Pinterest and I found some art by Justin Yun (pictured above). I was curious to find out more and it turns out it was a piece of concept art for a new TV series, Lantern City.
The project was announced in 2012 and is set to premier in 2014. One of the creators, Bruce Boxleitner,has made a short film describing the concept. The most exciting thing about the series to me is the call to Steampunk artists, designers, artisans and enthusiasts to send in submissions and contribute directly to the show.
As a prelude to the television series, the creators have released an illustrated novel called Rise. Check out this video from Chicago’s C2E2 for a concept film about Lantern City followed by the announcement of Rise.
The only downside I can find is that when they described the overall concept, basically an alternate universe where Steampunk is the way of life, was the basis of my own novel-in-progress, Soaring Heights.
Here’s a description of the plot/history from the Lantern City website:
History of Lantern City
“Lantern City is the southern-most city in Hetra, a world parallel to Earth, and is bordered on the south by the Silver Sea and has the largest river in Hetra, the Faudnice River, running through its heart. The city was always known for its commerce, agriculture, innovation, and trade; because of its isolated geography it never developed a real military power. Lantern City was difficult to travel to by land and it had the ability to control who came in and out of its ports.
Eventually, a band of warlords from the outlands of Hetra conquered the surrounding areas leaving Lantern City as their final target. The onslaught of refugees from the other cities gave the citizens of Lantern City ample warning to protect themselves, However almost no one in Lantern City had minds for military strategy or any real combat experience. This was the perfect opportunity for soldier and entrepreneur Isaac Foster Grey to rise to power and “save” the city from the invaders. To secure the city after the battles for Lantern City’s existence, Grey had a wall built around the city and enacted isolationist policies.
Over one hundred years later, the citizens of Lantern City know little about the rest of Hetra.
Since so few citizens know anything about the history of Lantern City or anything about Hetra, a myth has replaced the actual history. Many of the working class citizens and the members of the Underground believe that a peasant named Nolvan inspired thousands to travel as far south as they could and establish a new and free place called Lantern City. It wasn’t until the Grey Empire tricked the populous and took over that the citizens weren’t free.
Many of the working class are waiting for the next Nolvan to arrive and save them from their fates.”
The cast also looks fantastic. I recognized Raphael Sbarge and Tony Amendola from Once Upon a Time, but of course John Rhys-Davies’ face was immediately familiar as well as Mira Furlan from Babylon 5.
I have been seeing Steampunk pop up lately on mainstream networks like ABC and CBS. For instance, the clip above is from the show Castle starring the oh so talented Nathan Fillion (who first came to my attention in Joss Whedon’s space western Firefly) checking out a Steampunk bar in NYC. (Check out this article for more info: http://www.alterna-tv.com/castle/steampunk.htm)
I also found out right after I wrote my Time Machine post that The Big Bang Theory has an episode where they get a hold of a replica of the movie prop.
But, I think the best new Steampunk TV is NBC’s Dracula. In this “punked” version of Bram Stoker’s classic novel the count we all know and love (Jonathan Rhys Meyers) is posing as an American entrepreneur in Victorian England. His business? Taking out a secret society of wealthy lords through the miracle of scientific innovation and of course, biting people and smoldering. Episode 3 airs tonight at 10/9c on NBC. (http://www.nbc.com/dracula/)