02 June 2006

X4 is Coming! Or Rather, I Should Say 4 X Spinoffs Are Coming

The most likely next entry into the X-Realm will be the solo Wolverine movie. Whether this will be a prequel, or sequel has not been clarified, but my hope is for a prequel set during the Weapon X days. Many flashbacks in X2 alluded to this story, but it could certainly be fleshed out. Also, with Logan's amnesia, Sabretooth and Deathstrike could be brought back. There is great potential in this film to introduce Maverick, Deadpool, Omega Red, and Silver Fox. Given the proper treatment, this one could be hot!

Also long rumored is a Magneto backstory starring an computer effect age-reduced Ian McKellen. This story would be set in the 40's-50's pre evil Magneto. Sounds like an interesting comic, but it could be a dull film. I am not too keen on this one being greenlit (of course, I will probably still see it in theatres before also buying the DVD).

Now this is where the rumors get interesting. A third film would be the most sequelish, featuring the "new mutants" left over after X3. Ice-man, Rogue, ShadowCat, Colossus and Angel would be the most likely center stagers. But there would also be a great opportunity for the long overdue introduction of Gambit, as well as intros for Cannonball, Havok, Blob, Dazzler, or Polaris. Could be a fun film, though it sounds like it would have a less serious tone more centered on the "life of a young mutant." The best aspect of this project is the chance to see all our yet unseen muties on screen.

Lastly, and most surprising are rumors of a film centered on the yet unseen Emma Frost aka White Queen. Did anyone see that coming? I cannot even begin to guess what this one would be about, but I am interested to learn more.

Perhaps the biggest letdown of the above news is the lack of mention of Cable or Bishop, two huge fan favorite mutants. Unfortunately their time traveling aspects sort of limit the faithfulness of their backstories within the cinematic X-World. I would still like to see them get a proper treatment someday.

Pajama Party - Retrospective 2004

Following in the tradition of the 2005 retrospective look, I bring you the comics on screen in 2004.


In April, Hellboy did modest business for the Dark Horse Comics hero. This son of Satan was summoned by the Nazi's but raised by the good guys to fight paranormal threats. The film was ok, had some decent action, and mustered a good enough following to get talk for a sequel. Unfortunately for Hellboy fans, plans for the sequel, The Golden Army, were just recently put on hold, though an animated series of features is still forthcoming.

Later in April, a Lundgrenless version of The Punisher split business with Kill Bill Vol 2. I did not see this one, but I guess it was not too bad, as Punisher 2 will be coming soon.

The highly anticipated Spider-Man 2 spun into theatres in July. Though the science was a bit sketchy (why exactly are mechanical arms the secret piece to the puzzle of sustaining a fusion reaction!?), Doc Ock a hit with fans (much preferred to the Mighty Morphin Green Goblin), and the film received critical praise on its way to nearly $375 million. This film's story seemed to be inspired by the beloved Superman 2 plot, where Supes loses and regains his powers. While I also prefer this sequel to the original, I was surprised to hear Ebert supporting the film for a possible Best Picture nomination. With the success Spidey 3 was a sure thing for 2007.

Also in July, Catwoman littered up the screens failing to recoup its $100 million budget, and attempting to put another nail in the Batman coffin by association. This film was a mess through and through. From Halle Berry's casting, to the bondage style costume with rat style hood, to jokes about "milk, straight up," everything just screamed "don't make this movie." Original plans were for there to be 9 Catwomen in the world, of which Batman's was just one. Thankfully, this film only had 1 life. If they insisted on doing a Catwoman film, why not use Michelle Pfeiffer, the best part of Batman Returns?

In November, Pixar scored its sixth straight hit with The Incredibles. This film borrowed heavily from established superhero lore (particularly The Fantastic Four), but it got everything so right, that no one seemed to mind. From the jazzy score, to the clever jokes about capes and monologuing, I love this film. I know Pixar isn't in the sequel business for the most part, but I would love another helping of these folks.

Blade: Trinity, the final entry of the Blade trilogy, took a risk opening against Ocean's 12. The gamble didn't really pay off as the film only did so-so. The following remained strong enough to provide for the upcoming Blade TV series on Spike TV.

On TV, Smallville season 4 featured a quest for three crystals that when assembled would form Clark's icy fortress of solitude. And animated series The Batman and Justice League Unlimited made their debuts.

And that Folks was 2004. Overall I'd have to say it was the year where lesser known/darker heroes failed to escape the shadows of the better known good guys' success... But at least they got their shot.

Previous Retrospectives

31 May 2006

Disappearing Ink XV - The Last Unicorn

In 1982, my parents took me to a the theatre where I would be terrified by a huge fiery beast. This red bull does not, as you might expect, give you wings, but rather chases unicorns into oblivion. The Last Unicorn was based on a novel by Peter Beagle, who also assisted in the screenplay adaptation. America came out of the desert on their nameless horse just in time to contribute several songs to the film's soundtrack including the theme. This was a Rankin/Bass production, the team that also gave us the stop-motion Christmas Special Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, the animated The Hobbit , and the TV series Thundercats (Hooooooooooo!). While the film scored an unimpressive $6.5 million box office take, it has found a loyal following and greater appreciation since its release on video.

The film opens with the strangely attractive and titular "Last Unicorn" coming to the realization, that she is the last of her kind. This information comes through the ramblings of a crazy singing butterfly. I guess, that was good enough for the Unicorn, because she sets off on a quest to find the red bull and her kind. Along the way, she is captured by carneys including Murder She Wrote's Angela Lansbury. The bumbling wizard Schmendrick helps her escape. The duo becomes a trio when Miss Molly Grue joins the quest. The group heads for King Haggard's castle, the home of the red bull. But along the way, the bull appears and nearly kills the Unicorn. Schmendrick, in a desperate attempt to save the unicorn transforms her into the enchanting woman Amalthea. Since the bull only seems to hate unicorns, he leaves the three alone. The trio join the King's court, and continue to search for the rest of the unicorn folk.

As a human, the hornless unic Amalthea not only loses her taste for sugar cubes, but starts to forget her life as a unicorn, and begins to fall in love with Prince Lir (who has always loved horseback riding). King Haggard (voiced by Saruman) remains suspicious of the three, and has a hunch that Amalthea is no mere human. The trio are aided by a peglegged pirate-talking pussycat with an eyepatch and a funny skeleton (aka Odo), who help them to find the bull's lair and the unicorns. I won't spoil the end, but I will say that not everyone gets a happily ever after. Amalthea must either stay human "walking man's roads" and in love, or give up love and return to a state of immortality as a unicorn with her own kind.

Though the animation in The Last Unicorn is family friendly, the themes of the film are thought provoking and profound. Unfortunately, some of the character designs are a bit on the goofy side (big nosed Schmendrick and wrinkled face Haggard), undermining the more serious tone of the film. The music is also a great fit for the film and the time in which the movie was made. There are a couple of other songs in the movie that do not hold up as well as America's, but they aren't that bad either. Along with some of the strange characters I mentioned above (butterfly and cat), there are a couple of other odd moments including a seduction by a busty oak. But these elements add to the film's charm. Nevertheless, this film triumphs over other 1980's stabs at dark edged swords and sandals adaptations such as The Black Cauldron and the live action film Legend. On the other hand, I have to be careful. A dude shouldn't be to generous with his ravings about unicorn movies. I thinks it's safe to give Amalthea and company a solid B.

Here is a clip from the film featuring America:


Check out my past reviews:
Fire & Ice
The Sword in the Stone
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

29 May 2006

B.O. Derby

X-Men went gangbusters with a giant $46 million opening day, and continued strong through the weekend. Da Vinci continued to bring in crowds, and Over the Hedge nearly matched last weeks take. Mission 3 and Poseidon continued to creep toward recouping their budgets. Ice Age remains on top for the year so far, but it is only a matter of time until it gets eclipsed. Overall, combining totals of all movies out, this weekend was the biggest weekend for the box office ever. With this mutant madness, it's a safe bet that at the least Wolverine will be on the fast track, and quite possibly, X4 may be forthcoming in spite of the claim that X3 would be the "last stand" for the muties. I really wonder if Supes will outearn X-Men, I would have thought so for sure, but this early run has been quite impressive.

Current Rankings:

5) Poseidon - $46,730,150
4) Over the Hedge - $84,377,727
3) Mission: Impossible III - $116,170,705
2) X-Men: The Last Stand - $122,861,157
1) The Da Vinci Code - $144,918,409

My Top 9 Predictions

9) Lady in the Water - $160,000,000
8) Poseidon - $175,00,0000
7) Mission: Impossible III - $205,000,000
6) Over the Hedge - $220,000,000
5) X-Men: The Last Stand - $225,000,000
4) Cars - $260,000,000
3) The Da Vinci Code - $275,000,000
2) Superman Returns - $325,000,000
1) Pirates of the Caribbean 2: Dead Man's Chest - $350,000,000