The Crossroads of the Aether
Years ago when I was involved much more in Star Trek fandom than I am now, our Klingon ship would go to movie premiers in force. I had tables full of props, books, comics and other memorabilia along with posters, flags an banners. In full gear with leather, spikey boots, long hair and knobby foreheads, we would have literal run of the place, the managers saying that we could see any movie we wanted while we were there.
The steampunks in Pittsburgh do not have that sort of presence and, to be honest, given the way that steampunk and Victorian-period movies are underrepresented, I don't see that happening any time soon. Never the less, we still try to make our presence known and I still retain some of the habits of my former life by arriving at the theater a full hour before showtime so that I could be seen.
As this was a Civil War movie, I was there in my full Federal Aeroship Cavalry uniform. I chose to leave the saber and revolver at home because the Lowes Theater in Homestead has had issues with rampaging youth and have instituted strict policies. Had I been more involved with the setting up of the event I would have spoken with the theater manager in advance. Not only does that smooth over any potential concerns it gets you in good with management as you are doing them a bit of a favor by promoting their movie.
While I was waiting, a swarm of teenage girls approached and wanted their picture taken with me. Ironic that the pictures were taken in from of the display promoting the next “Twilight” film.
A group of people came in dressed in kilts and tartans, apparently there to see “Brave.” I walked up to them and shook hands.
“Glad to see that other people dress properly to go to the theater.”
“Well, we do traditional Scottish dancing so it’s easy.”
“I hunt vampires on weekends, so it’s easy for me, too.”
My uniform drew the attention of a few more people who I was able to talk to about steampunk before the rest of the Steel City Steam Society attendees arrived just before showtime. There was a power outage in the theater that thankfully saved us from the inane advertising that typically runs continuously between movies anymore. I remember when the theater was quiet up until the point that they brought down the lights to show the trailers. Now it’s just endless, mindless, repetitive advertising.
Tim Burton produced but I didn’t see any of his visual influences in the film. Seth Graham-Smith, the author of the novel also did the screenplay. For that it seems much more cohesive and true to the theme. Timur Bekmambetov, who had done “Nightwatch” directed and his influences are seen in the over-the-top action and splattering blood.
I think the time between Lincoln’s younger days as a vampire hunter and his ascendancy to the presidency could have had a more consistent bridge. In the book, his moving into politics and his presidential campaign was part of his war against the vampires. He transforms from a young man motivated by vengeance for the murder of his mother into a much more moral person, angered by a societal injustice on an unimaginable scale. He puts aside his tiny axe and takes up the power of a nation. In the movie, his political aspirations are presented more as an alternative career. A mere contingency plan.
They played it pretty serious throughout but, with all the murderous action and blood splattering, I thought some humor could have broken things up and made the thing slightly less relentless. On the other hand, if it wasn’t done right, Lincoln might have come off as an Arnold Schwarzenegger type delivering one liners. “Emancipate this!” would have sent me out of the theater.
Here’s a major spoiler: I completely buy Abraham Lincoln as a super hero. The scene you’ve seen in the trailers of Lincoln’s axe exploding a tree in one blow somehow does not break my suspension of disbelief. The Matrix-like chase on the horses stretches it pretty far but, again, Lincoln as a super hero I totally buy into. But, at the end of the first day of Gettysburg, starting to collect up all the silver in Washington, melting it all down into cannonballs, bullets and bayonets, boxing it up and getting it all to the battlefield in time for Pickett’s vampiric charge on the third day losses me.
Yea, super hero Lincoln I accept. Super hero Federal military logistics, not so much.
There aren’t many presidents who could make the transition to super hero. Sure, there was a Saturday Night Live skit called the “X-Presidents” that had all the living former presidents, but I thought it was crap, even when it was reworked into a graphic novel. “President Evil” had Obama and the entire cast of contemporary characters fighting against the zombie apocalypse but it was also a complete parody. I remember a comic book based on a painting by Frank Frazetta that featured Rough Rider Teddy Roosevelt fighting demons and capturing a gem that gives him super powers. Later, as president, he pulls the gem back out of the closet to fight off an invasion from Mars. Roosevelt was shot in the chest on his way to make a campaign speech. He didn’t go to the hospital and ended up making the speech anyway. The bullet was never removed. And he wore nez perce glasses, looking totally badass.
I expect to see him in a supporting role in the upcoming “Boilerplate” movie, but Theodore Rex deserves his own movie. Single handedly thwarting an alien invasion.
Back at the theater, once the movie was over, there was the now requisite standing in the lobby for half an hour talking about the movie. There we spoke to more people about steampunk. It’s a good think I printed up some more business cards. Perhaps this will generate some more membership though it has been my experience that only a fraction of people actually follow the links or use the email address on the backs of my cards.
Then it was over to Eat-n-Park. I hadn’t eaten dinner but I was able to restrain myself by only getting fries instead of a full meal. I didn’t get home until after 1 in the morning. That would mean I would get four hours of sleep before having to get up and drive to Bedford for the Gunfight at the OK Corral event. I wondered if anyone else from the Steel City Steam Society would be showing up for that.