05 May 2006

Pajama Party - Marvel-ous Movie Slate

Just after last week's deadline, a slew of Marvel movie news was released. Leading the pack was the announcement that Jon Favreau will direct Iron Man. First off, I have never been much of an Iron Man fan, but from my understanding, he is sort of an alcoholic Batman, with higher tech toys. He traditionally wears red and gold armor and can fly, but Tony Stark, the billionaire inside the armor, is a mere mortal. There is also a black and white dude that looks like iron man, but I guess his name is War Machine. I am not sure of his connection to the Fe coated hero, but I am sure there is one. Anyways, Jon Favreau is a bit of a surprise. He directed the Christmas comedy Elf, and also the unseen, but decently reviewed Jumanji clone Zathura. Does that qualify him to direct Iron Man? Apparently so. Look for filming to begin early next year for a 2008 release.

Marvel also announced the continued development of Hulk 2 as reported last week, Ant-Man, Thor, Captain America, and Nick Fury agent of S.H.I.E.L.D. I think Iron man will probably be a success, and Hulk 2 can be also depending on how much it makes. After that, we are sort of pulling heroes off the bench. Captain America really needs to be done right to avoid being a big cheese fest. Ant-Man could succeed as a sort of adult version of Honey, I Shrunk the Kids. Thor and Nick Fury will have the toughest go. Thor is sort of an oddball guy and a good adaptation would be costly, so I would be nervous to finance that one. Fury on the other hand is a guy that I have just never cared about. He is basically an eye-patch wearing spy. Wupee. I think I could pass. But I won't pass judgment on any of these until a little more is known about them. Then again, a Fury adaptation has to be better than the 1998 TV Nick Fury movie starring Mr David Hasselhoff. On top of all these, there is also a Wolverine, Magneto, and possibly a third X-Men spinoff coming as well.

In other news, it has been mentioned again that the Silver Surfer may appear in the Fantastic Four sequel. This would really elevate the movie to another level. I didn't love the first film, but as a fan of the genre, it was fairly enjoyable. Dr. Doom was a real missed opportunity, but Galactus could really up the ante. I don't know how I feel about the Surfer. I have never been a huge fan, and the fact that he "surfs" through space is pretty hokey. On the other hand, he looks pretty sweet, and has a compelling background. I just hope F4-2 doesn't get too cosmic. Its hard to belies that F4-2 comes out in a little over a year. They better get the ball rolling.

Last but not least, as promised, I will offer a few thoughts on the new Superman Returns trailer. It looks promising and beautiful, but there does not appear to be a compelling plot (at least for me). I like Spacey as Lex, much less campy than Hackman, though still in the realm of diabolical villain. Just why o why does it always have to be Lex? I think even the Joker would get old if he was in every Batman film. And at this point the masses probably think Lex is Supes only enemy. What about Brainiac, Darkseid, Metallo, Mr. Mxypltk, Bizarro, Parasite, Prankster, Toyman or Doomsday? Only Zod got a chance to shine, and he was awesome! Really though, my least favorite parts of the preview are everything about Lois. She is just too young in general, and really too young to have a kid that old, and I don't like the fact that Clark has to deal with being a home wrecker. Also, didn't Lex already raid the fortress of solitude in Superman 2? Well, I will still definitely see the film, hopefully in IMAX 3-D. As I said before, the film looks gorgeous, and that plane crash scene intense, so count me in. No matter what I would as soon miss this film as kneel before Zod.

03 May 2006

Mania, Trailer Mania

In addition to the Superman Returns trailer posted yesterday, this week has been full of preview releases for upcoming movies. Here are some of my favs:

Arrrrrrrrrrr! Pirates vs Fish! Shiver me timber. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest is my pick for biggest box office of 2006.

Miyazaki-Sans' son brings us Tales From Earthsea. Looks like he's got his daddy's skills.

Shaken, not stirred. A new Bond tries to "Bourne-ify" the franchise with Casino Royale.

Disappearing Ink XI - Wizards

The Roman Numerals above represent a new age in Disappearing Ink... Monthly Themes. This Month, I am going to kick things off with a "Swords and Sandals" theme. In other words, each of these May movies should have a little magic and some swordplay. Up first, a little known film from the 70's - Wizards.

Wizards comes from the mind of Ralph Bakshi, who somehow managed to create an X-rated cartoon - Fritz the Cat (if you are interested). I guess the next logical career choice was to go into family films, for that is what Wizards is intended to be -- though it is questionable how many parents would enjoy a nice evening with their children viewing Nazi propaganda and the slaughtering of elves with machine guns. I am getting ahead of myself. Wizards graced the theatre houses in 1977, and was originally titled Wizard Wars. The distributor, 20th Century Fox, concerned about overdosing audiences on wars with Star Wars coming out later in the year, had the title shortened to simply Wizards. Fox's Wizards earned $9 million in the box office compared to $29 million earned by the Disney's larger budgeted The Rescuers in the same year, which I must assume made Wizards a moderate success. Other non X -Rated films later created by Bakshi include the animated and sequelless Lord of the Rings Part I, a film to be reviewed in a couple of weeks Fire & Ice, and a seemingly Roger Rabbit ripoff Cool World.

Wizards features a war between two... er um, wizards. The evil Blackheart has been banished to the land Scortch, a land of mutants and technology. His brother Avatar lives in a land of fairies, elves and magic. The setting of the film is millions of years in Earth's future after most of humanity has been wiped out. Blackheart begins to excavate old German war technology (tanks, planes, and machine guns) to use in a battle with the good folk who through a harmony with nature and an abandonment of technology, have harnessed the powers of magic. Blackheart is kept fairly well in check until he finds a secret weapon, a projector which shows Nazi propaganda films in the sky during battle to terrify his enemies and inspire his loathsome troops. Avatar goes on a quest with his buxom fairy friend Eleanor, and an elf buddy Weehawk, guided by a terminator robot he has reprogrammed to lead him ironically named Peace. In the end, Avatar relies on "a trick his mom taught him." To say more would spoil the fun. =)

The movies is ok, though Avatar's quest is a meandering tale of side stories including a run in with a Mark Hamill voiced Sprite (1977 was a good year for Mark). Supposedly, Bakshi ran out of money to animate the battle scenes, so he relied on rotoscoping old WWII stock film footage. Basically, it looks like black and white films have been penciled over leaving realistic outlines of soldiers and war instruments, without too many details. Its quite an interesting technique, especially when coupled with the sub-Saturday morning cartoon level animation of the rest of the film. But I will say one thing, it really makes you realize the 'toon' elves are in for it, when realistic looking machine gunners start marching towards them.

Its hard to claim this is family friendly when Hitler himself shows up, leading a violent and bloody mowing down of cartoony creatures. This is really a love it or hate it move. While I appreciate the artistic style and I liked the designs of the wizards and Peace, I did not love the story or the overall animation quality. Balancing art and story elements, and considering that this film is, if anything, unique, Wizards earns a C.

Check out my past reviews:
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Princess Mononoke
The Black Cauldron
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy

02 May 2006

Superman Returns Trailer

The Homewrecker is back! Looks pretty sweet. Enjoy.

Commentary will be reserved for Friday's PJ party. See you then.

01 May 2006

Battlestar Spinoff-alactica

Readers on this blog (I know there a couple of you out there) are probably aware of my affection for Ron Moore's reimagined Battlestar Galactica. Its a great show, with great characters and well thought out storylines. While some have complained about a few weak episodes of season 2, I say that they are only weak by comparison to the greatness of the show at its best. Anyhow while we wait forever for season 3, it was announced last week that after a measly 2 seasons, there would be a BSG spinoff show, Caprica, set in the same universe as Galactica, but 50 years in the past on the capitol world.

Supposedly, this show would allow for plotelines where humans fought robotic cylons, and were had a bit better odds at winning. Knowing that Ron Moore is involved, any doubts I have about this show working are wiped away. On the other hand, what is to become of BSG? As the Chinese (I have no idea if the Chinese have ever said this) are fond of saying, "A bird in the hand is worth two in the bush". Galactica has been so great, and is still young. I don't want it to suffer from its younger brother stealing away all the talent. I think I would rather have the show wrap up completely before seeing a spinoff. For one thing, this would prevent any possible crossover episodes, which I can't imagine could be pulled off too well.

Anyways, that's my $.02 on the matter, and since no one is asking my opinion anyways... Long live Ron Moore, and long live the Bucket (but not necessarily the Beast)!