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Archive for July, 2008
There are spoilers…but you’ve all seen it several times, so check out his thoughts.
Toldja there was a big announcement coming!
It’s 36 beautiful pages, with two Metro Med stories, pinups, character profiles, a new Annotations section, plus an all-new color 1-page story on the back cover. As a bonus, I included my out-of-print story “Melvin and Marvin Middler, Time Meddlers”.
In 2005, I published Metro Med #0 via my buddies at Shooting Star Comics. A thin volume selling for $2, this #0 issue was rushed to the printer in time to have it for Wizard World Chicago. Unfortunately, the quality of the printing was not what we would have liked and it ended up as our ashcan edition. (I’m still glad we published when we did, since afterward not only did someone else do a superhero hospital book but there was also another superhero using the same name as one of my characters. Thank God for ashcans!) Shortly afterward I lost my artist on the book, so it’s taken me a while to decide how to proceed. While I’m looking forward with some new artists, I decided it was time the first volume got a quality printing.
I didn’t tell you any of this because, until I saw it at Wizard World Chicago, I wasn’t sure how the printing would turn out. Yes, I was in the same “no proof” boat I was in back in 2005. However, the final result is stunning. I thought the quality of #0 was just disappointing, but once I saw the quality of this new one printed through Ka-Blam/IndyPlanet… well, I regret ever showing anyone the old one. THIS is how Metro Med was meant to be.
Well…at least until I can get it redone in color.
Take a look for yourself. IndyPlanet has a six-page preview.
Yes, I’ll be talking this up for a while.
From Neo to Eel, apparently. Keanu Reeves is set to portray Plastic Man in a movie made by the Wachowski “brothers”. The Wachowskis are the one-hit wonders who couldn’t figure out how to rebottle their lightning from the Matrix and turn it into a franchise. Recently, they stunk up the cineplexes with a Speed Racer film that Joel Schumacher called “gaudy and loud”.
Honestly, Keanu’s casting is the best thing about this announcement. I can see it. Reeves’ range of expressions may be more appropriate for casting as The Terminator (…..sayyyyyyyyyyy… why didn’t they think of that?) … but I find him likable and everyone says he is one of the most down-to-Earth and decent people in Hollywood. Plus, I’m just glad they dodged the Jim Carrey bullet, especially with Grant Morrison essentially turning Plastic Man into Carrey.
I’m not dead. I’m getting better.
I know, there hasn’t been much activity around here. Blame illness, gardening, a niece who’s on my computer checking out Facebook all evening and a very addictive new Wii game or three.
My overdue Wizard World recap.
My overdue announcement.
My overdue review of Matamoros.
That’s probably enough commitment right there.
It’s no question that Christian Bale had some trouble keeping up with his co-star on screen.
The real question is how can a living actor compete with the Joker’s Spectre for an Academy Award.
Here’s my review:
This movie was so good that my wife and my niece both thought it was fantastic. (I don’t think Melinda even watched the first one!)
Melinda was actually swooning over Heath Ledger…which just made her sad, of course. She, too, thinks he gives an Oscar-caliber performance, so that isn’t just hype.
Beyond Heath, the biggest difference is the plot. Remember how the first film had a rather contrived plot about an underground society of Asian assassins who want to destroy an American city on the opposite side of the world, and to do so they export a fear toxin to a local nutball who dresses in a scarecrow mask and arrange to have it put in the water supply so that they can rig up a stolen device on an elevated train hoping to drive the city to madness? Don’t get me wrong, it’s a great movie, but that is the plot, right?
This movie? Far fewer contrivances. It is a little “24” at times, where just when you think they’ve bested the Joker it turns out that this was all prelude to his next big thing (and this happens about a dozen times). However, the drama is incredible and this story would work if instead of Batman and the Joker you had generic characters, which means it will have far more appeal than to just the comic book fans. (Again: neither of the women in my life are comic book fans!)
I’m reminded of Chuck Dixon’s favorite complaint about “Batman Forever”: the Riddler was an idiot whose idea of a great mystery is giving clues that spell out his name…and meanwhile, there is a perfect Batman vs. Riddler movie, except that it is called “Die Hard with a Vengeance”. Batman films have always had sucky plots that were mere frameworks for cool set piece ideas and movie star villains demanding screen time and scenery-chewing. Until now.
No complaints. I repeat: NO COMPLAINTS. This is a four-star superhero film.
Well…no complaints aside from how distractingly unattractive Maggie Gyllenhaal is. There is something just wrong with her nose. I know, I was about the only defender Katie Holmes had in the last movie, but here she is sorely missed. Maggie may have better acting chops, but at least Katie didn’t look like a victim of a loose I-beam. What is up with her nose?
That’s not really a “complaint”, more an annoyance. Kinda like Bale’s Batman voice, which sounds like a bulldog. That’s great if you’re tormenting someone in an alley but there’s a lot of conversations in this film and then it just sounds like a total fake voice. You’d think Gordon would say, “That’s clearly an act. Why can’t you talk like a person, ya poser?”
Oh, and I think I caught a goof. I could swear that when Bruce Wayne first comments on Rachel and her new boyfriend, Bruce calls her “Rachel Spencer” or something like that. For a while in the movie, I thought they’d changed the character to go with the actress change, but I guess not.
TRIVIA: The mayor of Gotham is played by Nestor Carbonell, who played Batmanuel on “The Tick”.
Also, notice how Gordon’s daughter is never shown in full face. This is so that someday they can cast a name actress to play her, I would imagine.
* Ozymandias’ costume was always the worst one, so the change here is fine.
* I’m glad to see this looking much more faithful to the original story than the previous leaked scripts. No doubt the comic-to-screen versions of Sin City and 300 have helped.
* Why does Nite Owl have to be studly? The middle-aged paunchy guy was my favorite character.
* It could be this isn’t final quality, but Dr. Manhattan’s CGI looks ridiculously cartoonish. I mean, Hulk may look like a rushed-to-market video game, but this guy looks about as believable as Homestar Runner interacting with humans. I don’t get why they had to make him CGI at all. A bodypainted actor could have worked well so long as the makeup was done right. It’s not like Mystique or Nightcrawler looked fakey in the X-Men films.
* In fact, all the CGI looks too low-res and underdeveloped. (The only realistic CGI is the clockwork stuff behind the logo!) Things like the owlship could have been done with models and worked much better.
On this last bit…I’d like to give a shout out to the director of Iron Man and Zathura, Jon Favreau. Zathura is unfairly overlooked because it was the sequel to the mediocre film Jumanji (which relied too much on poor CGI). The DVD extras on Zathura include a treasure trove of “Making Of” features (about as long as the movie itself), and this movie is where Favreau learned a lot of the tricks that probably helped him with Iron Man. One of the most sensible things the crew did was decide right off that this wouldn’t be an all-CGI feature. CGI has its place, but too often it looks fake. Thus, most of the special effects are models with enhancements via CGI, and the result is rich and stunning. It’s too bad Zathura didn’t do well at the box office or more directors might have learned something from it and we wouldn’t have an Archie that looks like a Playstation game cinematic. (The water coming off the ship is all wrong!)
Forget pirates vs. ninjas. Is there anyone who ISN’T at least intrigued by the concept of Vikings vs. aliens?
I have four reactions:
- Untouchables music. I know, all trailers use music from other films (or pop songs), but I’ve memorized that movie so I can’t get that out of my head. Probably not a problem for most everyone else.
- 2. “I’m on my way.” WHY would they steal the trailer catchphrase from the first “it’s a comic book so let’s do it all in primary colors” movie, Dick Tracy?
That’s the only version I could find on YouTube, but back in 1990 the TV spots (whether 10-second or 30-second) all opened with a call for Dick Tracy over his wrist radio, with Warren Beatty’s “I’m on my way!” as his only line.
- 3. If I didn’t know that Frank Miller was the writer, I’d accuse the writer of ripping off Frank Miller’s “Batman, the Dark Knight”.
- 4. The look is exactly that of Sin City, but less realistic. I think a high school AV student could have made that trailer to show off his first semester of Adobe Premier.
The game isn’t bad. Though…why is it Movie Batman is always firing bullets at people? From the Batwing in the 1989 movie to the huge Gatling guns on the Batbike in this new film, it appears they’re trying to establish a totally illogical ideology where Batman is very opposed to handguns but vehicle-mounted weapons that fire bullets or even rockets don’t bother him in the least. I’ve never understood this. I may be a pro-self-defense guy, but I could totally understand how Batman would feel the things he feels and thus believe the way he does about guns due to his childhood trauma. Yet, I would think this would form some kind of ideology about individuals possessing powerful weapons that allow them to mete out death dispassionately.
Indeed, Batman has said as much at times in the comic books, but then he hangs around with people who wield the power to kill you from across a star system and doesn’t seem to be bothered by that. I’ve pointed out before the illogic of finding Green Arrow’s actions in any way acceptable. (Batman’s fine with a guy who uses his superior skills to penetrate the flesh of outclassed victims so long as the guy is talented and accurate enough to never hit a vital organ? Granted, around the same time Oliver Queen started doing that in the comics, Frank Miller introduced Batman flinging handfuls of Bat-shaped throwing stars which somehow never cause permanent injury.)
Of course, taking that to the next step, one would have to wonder about Batman’s own deadliness. If you had to choose between facing me with a bazooka and Batman with a butterknife, you’d choose me, right?
Maybe Batman has some egotistical philosophy where he trusts himself with weapons and abilities that he would deny others. If so, maybe Movie Batman’s having guns is just an elevation of that same worldview.
I…I probably put way too much thought into a derivative video game where they want Batman to shoot stuff.
Mother of Mercy! I don’t speak Japanese!
I’d never before seen this documentary about sloths. My sides hurt.
Hulu (which webcasts the “Writer’s Room” series I’ve mentioned before) also has SNL sketches. Years of them, actually. Unfortunately, they’re hard to search, so you just have to page through them five at a time in no particular order. Here are some of my faves so you don’t have to hunt for them:
More to come!
I found Wall-E to be emotionally manipulative, and I suppose if one is capable, or equipped to manipulate my emotions, given that I essentially have none, Disney Pixar deserves some large amount of credit.
Musical composers, students, and psychologists (often) argue that music, properly wielded, can make person’s mood sunnier, or take a cheery visual overview and make it seem sinister, depending on the sort and tone of what is played. This could actually be called cheating.
Wall-E does not possess much actual dialogue. What remains certainly is the sort that will tug one this way or that. The two primary (robotic) characters communicate mostly in pantomime and situations are set up to provoke reactions, often of pity or sympathy. More importantly we are moved more by character interaction, of sorts, than we are by plot. We are moved more by how the characters react than how we otherwise would or should react. Pop psychology obviously is best not left to me.
Yet here we are on the raggedy edge. Ignore the supposed political overtones (I have). Ignore how uncreative the idea of the super-consumer-driven society run by the uber-monopolistic super-corporation is. Do not attempt to muster the imagination necessary to suspend disbelief to buy that a literal monopoly could form instead of government in today’s political climes, let alone that corporation the government for the world. (Come to think of it, everyone speaks English in Wall-E; how multi-cultural are we in 700 years)?
The point is that the mere tone of voices of Eve and Wall-E, accompanied by the music and atmosphere are set to alter your perceptions and reactions. That is hardly fair. I hate that.
The movie itself is fine. The character arcs of the main characters are about struggles to move beyond their programming. Even the humans exist in this movie to move beyond all expectations, to break from the norm and experience as they willfully must. If anything the message in this movie is anti-collectivist. The protagonists include the two robot characters and the one human leader, the Captain of the Axiom, a ship designed to keep the human society in a sort of unthinking, non-growing stasis. Those are the main characters, aside from one antagonist robot and its servants. John Ratzenberger’s requisite appearance was complete and is more than a cameo.
I do not care for any supposed notions, intentions, or intended agendas regarding green movements and I stopped caring about creators’ political leanings and how they informed author’s intent once I read Joss Whedon saying that Serenity is intended as a critique of the Bush administration, etc, based on Mister Whedon’s left-wing leanings. It does not matter what Joss Whedon believes, Serenity is a movie about space Libertarians, is a movie set from the sociopolitical right pitting its heroes/protagonists against an overbearing and expanding government intent on putting a vision of civilization into the hearts and minds of all denizens and citizens, effectively ending hate. Hmmmm. "Ending hate" sounds familiar. I also wonder where the rape zombies come in for the real-life Bush Administration. So if Pixar and the creators really were trying to make a crack about modern day thinkers and doers, al a Star Trek IV: Save the Whales, it falls on deaf ears for me. I see the message. The message is that right and wrong are not automatically determined simply by what men have traditionally, in society, always done; we need to check the why. There is no scientist of the past whose findings should be accepted a couple hundred years in the future. Do not take an old, unproved conclusion as a standard premise for new theories. Check anew.
Actually that sounds a lot like a "rebel without a cause" message. It even sounds a tad anti-traditional for the sake of being anti-traditional which cannot be my point because I am a staunch traditionalist.
The movie is beautiful to look at, with a mildly clear and barely compelling plot with details that do not quite hold up to scrutiny. More urgently I resent the movie for pulling me along on some of its points. Yet you look into the bright blue and the moving images, you too will enjoy the dance.