16 June 2006

Pajama Party - Gimmick of the Week

Remember back when Superman died in the 90's? How about when Batman's back was broken and he was forced into retirement? How about when it turned out that Spider-Man was actually, and had been for quite some time, a clone? Well in all those cases, the status quo returned, and it most likely will here as well. But this week in comics Peter Parker revealed his identity as Spider-Man to the world... and comics sold like hotcakes. Just wanted to keep my loyal readers up to date.

Since this feature does not usually focus on comics in print, I thought I should toss a bone out from Superman Returns. A&E aired an excellent history of Superman this week including this shot from the new film homaging Superman's first cover on Action comics. Enjoy.

14 June 2006

Disappearing Ink XVII - Starchaser: The Legend of Orin

What if you were to ripoff (er um I mean be inspired by) two of the coolest franchises of the 80's. Well, you might make Starchaser: The Legend of Orin. You would have stone hunting slaves in a fire cave, with a desperate need to be liberated (Temple of Doom), message bearing holograms (help me Obi-Wan, you're our only hope), lasers, whips, laserwhips, cylons (also a star wars "inspiration"), androids, smugglers, and of course a princess. For a hint of originality, you might add some body part hunting mandroids along with a synthesizer based score to spice things up. Lastly, throw in a "She"-3PO for the women's libers, and call it a day. The surprise is, that in spite of its heavy Star Wars influence, Orin actually delivers. After all, Star Wars (at least the Original Trilogy) gained its following for a reason. It was fun. Starchaser: The Legend of Orin is able to reproduce that space opera feel in an all new star warsish adventure. What more could you ask for? And at least Orin doesn't pretend to not be copying Star Wars (notice the tagline "the search for the force is over...").

The story begins with Orin finding a mystical sword hilt in the fire mines run by the evil Zygon. He begins a quest to find the blade, but oddly, the bladeless hilt still proves fatal in Orin's hand. This weapon seems to conjure up an invisible blade helping Orin slice his way out of danger. Soon enough, Luke, I mean Orin teams up with Han, er I mean Dagg. Eventually Orin meets his princess, who luckily is not his sister, and they fall in love. And the rest of the movie continues about like you would expect with space battles, swordfights and such, but it is fun to watch nonetheless. Oddly enough, the Starchaser spaceship with swivel mounted engines seems to have inspired the Serenity of the short but sweet Firefly series. Overall, the animation is decent, and I would love to have seen this film in 3D as it was originally screened, but I had to settle for the good old flat on the TV screen version.

Like most sci-fi animation, Orin did not bring in big results at the box office. I doubt the just over $3 million take was enough to justify the budget of the first 3D animated film. Maybe if the film had done better we would have learned that Zygon was really Orin's father. Of course if you have actually seen this movie, you would realize that last statement was a joke. Ha ha. Still, while the film is entertaining, its familiarity must be considered in assigning a score. Orin should definitely be checked out by all fans of stellar wars, though you might be sad to know that of all the elements carried over from Star Wars, there are no wookies. As such, Orin earns a B-.

Check out my past reviews:
A Grand Day Out With Wallace and Gromit
The Last Unicorn
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

11 June 2006

B.O. Derby

Cars opened fairly big this weekend. And while $62 million is a lot of dough, it is being described by some as a disappointing take. For one, both Nemo and The Incredibles opened bigger, and for two, Ice Age 2 opened bigger as well. But before people start prophesying the downfall of Pixar, I think it would be wise to see how this film fairs over the long haul. For one thing, all the CG copycats have surely taken a big piece of the Pixar pie. Just this year, we have already seen Doogal, Ice Age 2, The Wild, Over the Hedge, and now Cars, with Monster House, The Ant Bully, Barnyard, Open Season, Happy Feet, and Flushed Away still coming. With such an oversaturated market, they can't all be blockbusters. And while cars may not be as lovable as say fish or um monsters, they still sell toys. I am sure Pixar is doing just fine. Even if this film doesn't break the elusive $300 million mark, given that kids are now home for the summer, it will most assuredly top Ice Age 2 and Over the Hedge.

Also notable, X3 passed the $200 million mark and claimed the years top spot so far. Let's see how long it can defend that honor.

Current Rankings:

8) Poseidon - $54,935,000
7) Cars - $62,800,000
6) RV - $65,011,000
5) The Break-Up - $74,095,000
4) Mission: Impossible III - $122,664,000
3) Over the Hedge - $127,509,000
2) The Da Vinci Code - $189,028,000
1) X-Men: The Last Stand - $201,716,000

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