17 March 2006

Pajama Party - Flaming Skulls

Coming February 2007, Ghost Rider. This week, new artwork was revealed for the film featuring Ghost Rider and a western style horseback Rider as well. I think this is pretty sweet looking (click it for a bigger view). Of course, there are skeptics. This film is being directed by Mark Steven Johnson, the same guy that brought us Daredevil (which I actually think is pretty decent). Daredevil took a lot of crap, but many of the complaints should be aimed at Fox Studios for interferences with edits, etc. Ghost Rider on the other hand is being developed by Sony. You may remember them from Spider-Man fame. Anyways, the budget of the film is reported at being over $100 million, and the movie was pushed back from a summer release. Likely, they are trying to get the effects just right.

For those of you unfamiliar with the character, basically Johnny Blaze, a stunt cyclist agrees to allow himself to host an avenging spirit in exchange for the protection of his love. At night he transforms into a hellfire wielding bad mutha. He eventually finds himself at odds with the son of the devil, and then "all hell breaks loose."

Actually a lot of material has been released already for this picture, albeit somewhat quietly. There is a riderless Nic Cage heavy trailer, and a pretty sweet look at the finalized flame head. A full trailer is expected to be attached to X3: The Last Stand in May.

15 March 2006

Disappearing Ink #4 - Batman: Mask of the Phantasm

Batman: The Animated Series premiered in 1992. I still remember watching the first episode, On Leather Wings, which has Batman fighting the Man-Bat. The animation style and quality was unlike any TV animation I had seen before. And the stories were not your average Superfriends fare. They had heart and maturity. Phantasm was originally planned as a direct to video movie based on the series, but was ultimately released theatrically on Christmas 1993. It mustered up a modest $5.6 million, but that's not to say this movie was no good. In fact, until Batman Begins came out, Phantasm was frequently considered the best Batman film. It has a flawless 100% freshness rating on Rotten Tomatoes, and more importantly, a thumbs up from me.

So, what makes it so good? It is true to the spirit of Batman. Now that Batman Begins has spoiled us, it may be difficult to appreciate just what an accomplishment it was to nail the characters of Batman and Bruce Wayne. Kevin Conroy is Batman. His voice is intimidating and commanding without sounding exaggerated. He conveys Bruce's struggle to please his fallen parents, and to and happiness of his own. The film presents Bruce accepting his tragic fate of becoming the Batman. Also, there is mystery, who is the Phantasm, and what is his gameplan? And there is the Joker. Luke Skywalker delivers a maniacally brilliant performance as Mr. J.

One of my favorite scenes is a flashback sequence showing Bruce wearing black, and a knit ski mask (I wonder were they got that idea from in Begins?). He takes on a group of thugs, and ends up on the hood of a speeding semi, where he pulls out a ball-peen hammer from his belt with which he takes out the big rig. Sweet!

The ending sequence does drag a little, but the film is a lot of fun. I guess it may not be for everyone though. If you don't like Batman, you probably wont like it, or if you are lame. Honestly though, the movie will be appreciated more by Batfans than the general public, and for that reason, I give it a B+.

Check out my past reviews:
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy