15 July 2006

Spider-Man 3 Poster in Transitional Glory

Did I mention this poster is lenticular. It changes as you move, and here is a better depiction of the transition effect. WARNING to epileptics =)

UPDATE: Click image to be linked to the official site. Sorry, original posted image was removed.

14 July 2006

Pajama Party - Retrospective 2003

Following in the tradition of the 2005 and 2004 retrospectives look, I bring you the comics on screen in 2003.


Ahh 2003. The year that the industry realized that perhaps comic book movies were not a guaranteed goldmine. The year started off with the release of Daredevil on Feb 14. Nothing says I love you like a blind vigilante I guess. The film played up the romance between Daredevil and Elektra and actually performed fairly well. People like to label this as one in a string of Affleck flops, but the truth is the film earned a tidy $103 Million on a $78 Million budget. Throw in DVD sales and this film certainly turned a profit, and yielded the true flop Elektra semisequel. Speaking of the DVD, a few months after the DVD release, a Director's Cut was released with significant additions. This extended version downplayed the love story, and instead developed a subplot focusing on Coolio's character who was framed for murder by the Kingpin. Remember how in the movie, after Daredevil whooped up on the Kingpin, all of the sudden the cops were coming (as if its a crime to get beat up by Daredevil). Well, in the Director's cut, the cops actually had some evidence of wrongdoing, and a reason to arrest Mr. Kingpin. Daredevil was enjoyable, especially the sonar effects, but the character just doesn't have the broad appeal of Spider-Man or Batman. Nevertheless, this was one of the first benchwarmers to receive a decent theatrical treatment.

X2: X-Men United opened on May 2 and built upon the success of the X-Men movie. Turns out, this would be one of the finest comic book films to date, and would be well received. The film opened with the incredible Nightcrawler attack on the president, and the film continued to make up for any shortcoming of the original. The closing of the film teased that the Phoenix storyline was coming, though the follow-up in X-Men: The Last Stand would fail to meet many fans expectations. In the end, the film took home an impressive $215 Million and made a lot of X-Men fans very happy.

On June 20, The Hulk smashed its way into theatres. After a great opening weekend of $62, something went terribly wrong. Receipts dropped a huge 70% the second weekend, and the films totals fizzled out to a disappointing $132 Million. Many reasons for the failure of the film have been cited. Some cite Superbowl ads that featured a poorly rendered CG Hulk as souring fans opinions early. Also, director Ang Lee's ambitious treatment using comic book panels and multiple angles on screen were perhaps too high brow for fans wanting "Hulk Smash." The pacing of the film was slow and deliberate, which I thought was wonderful, but again not what fans necessarily expected from the not-so-jolly green giant. Lastly there were some silly elements like a Hulk-Poodle and an over the top Nick Nolte Absorbing Man dad that could have been done better. Fans opinions were split by this film. Marvel itself has stated that they were proud of this film, but next time (of course there is always a sequel) they will present a Hulk-Lite or Diet Hulk with more smash for your cash and less brooding.

October brought a direct to video release titled Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman. This film continued in the continuity of Batman: The Animated Series. The film introduces three new lady friends for Bruce Wayne, and one new vigilante, The Batwoman. Who is she? Batman also fights the Penguin (quack, quack) and Bane. While enjoyable, this film was not as good as previous Batman animated videos Subzero and Mask of the Phantasm. Still worth checking out though.

2003 also saw the premiers of several animated series. First up was the Teen Titans. This show put together Robin, Beast Boy, Starfiire, Raven and Cyborg in an anime influenced series. The show ran 5 seasons and introduced a whole slew of other titans along the way including Kid Flash, Speedy, Aqualad, Bumblebee and original creations Mas y Menos.

Spider-Man: The New Animated Series debuted on MTV after the Spider-Man movie. The series used some funky CG renderings, that in my opinion looked terrible. The stories built on the movie plot, and I think Doc Ock was not allowed, but Electro and Lizard showed up among others. The series only lasted 13 episodes, though it may eventually continue elsewhere. Basically, MTV is not a place to start up a long lasting series.

Lastly, Stan Lee, creator or X-Men, Spider-Man, Hulk etc. made his latest contribution to the genre: Striperella. This Spike TV series involves a crime fighting stripper. Stripper by night, crime fighter by late night. Pam Anderson starred in this short lived blotch on Stan's resume. Since I never saw the show, I guess I can't be too critical, but the premise is pretty ridiculous.

That my friends was 2003, the year that the tide started to turn for the genre due to oversaturation. Though overall, I have to say, the movies this year were all pretty decent.

Previous Retrospectives

13 July 2006

Behold! The Spider-Man 3 Poster

I like it:

Pajama Party - Prime & Superman: The Quest for Cash

Here is a leaked photo of Optimus Prime in truck form from next summer's Transformers movie. Not exactly what I had in mind, but at least he is still a truck. As for Megatron, is he a gun? We have to wait and see.

Also, some rumors on the street say that Superman Returns must break the $200 million domestic barrier before a sequel will get approved. Who would ever have imagined that reaching that figure would be such a challenge. But thanks to a certain motley crew of pirates, it certainly is NOT a forgone conclusion. As of today, the film still needs to earn about 50.5 million bucks to reach that figure, so if you haven't seen it yet, do. If you have, see it again. Bryan Singer may make good films, but he sure isn't the best money manager. Had this film cost a bit less, turning a profit would not be such an obstacle. Among his cuts from the final film was a completed sequence where Superman tours the remains of Krypton. This effects heavy sequence probably cost around $10 million or so to film, money that could have been saved by cutting the sequence during the script phase (Every one dollar spent requires two in earnings to break even). Sure, there will always be cuts, but come on, that's just wasteful. Then again, at least they have a good pitch for the inevitable Extended Version DVD. In any case, as the B.O. Derby continues, I shall give updates on the progress of Superman: The Quest for Cash.

Superman Returns still needs $50,427,000 to reach $200 Million

12 July 2006

Ink Blots XXI - Superman: Brainiac Attacks

Machine month continues with an unpleasant detour in Supermanland.

In the 1990's, a group of creative folk led by Bruce Timm got together and decided to do Superhero cartoons right. Starting with the excellent Batman animated series and continuing through the most recent Justice League Unlimited, the world of DC comics was brought to the small screen. While these adventures thrilled kids, they were not dumbed down. These animated series did justice to the heroes they showcased and the villains as well. In 1996. Superman: The Animated Series debuted with a 3-part origin story titled The Last Son of Krypton. This "movie" told the story of Jor-El's courageous efforts to save his son from the inevitable destruction of his homeworld. Additionally, the story introduced the evil Kryptonian computer Brainiac, who hid the coming destruction so that he could focus on saving the Kryptonian data and himself rather than being tasked with the futile effort of saving the planet. Brainiac escapes destruction only to visit other worlds, gather all of their data, and destroy them so that his records remain complete. This brilliant series proved that Lex Luthor should not be the only name in Superman's rogues gallery as Mxyzptlk, Metallo, Bizarro, Livewire, Parasite, and of course Darkseid all were given A+ treatment. The series ended while still in its prime, and 6 years later when movie based on the show was announced all rejoiced... Prematurely.

Superman: Brainiac Attacks is a travesty. It took the animation designs from the series, and some of the voice actors, and none of the reverence for the characters or stories themselves. The main plot is that Lex teams up with Brainiac to get rid of Superman. Lex plans to double cross the computer, but is out calculated, and in the end needs the Man of Steel to save him along with the rest of the world. Of course, Superman is busy trying to recover some magic from the Phantom Zone to cure Lois Lane of her Brainiac induced Zombieism. Riiiiiiight.

One of this movie's biggest offenses is the transformation of the series' no-nonsense, calculating billionaire businessman Lex Luthor into a Hackmanesque one-liner spouting buffoon. Another egregious, but less noticeable change affects Brainiac's origin, as he seems to forget that in this incarnation of Superman, he also hails from Krypton, and should have no lustful need for Kryptonian data in Superman's Fortress of Solitude.

There is plenty of action, too much in fact. It doesn't ever seem like there is any danger to Superman, nor does it seem that the fighting will ever end. Also, the absence of the original series' Superman theme is noticeable, as the hero is left to fight with a bland score to cheer him on.

I normally would not spoil a movie, but one of the main plot points that coerced me into watching this film was the prospect that Clark Kent would reveal himself as Superman to Lois. Let's just say, that never happens (hey, at least there was no use of super-amnesia kiss powers).

As bad as this film is, it is still Superman, and that keeps it from being utterly unredeemable. It just isn't the Superman it should have been, so I am going to give Brainiac Attacks a generous D-.

Check out my past reviews:

Batman: Mask of the Phantasm
The Black Cauldron
Final Fantasy: The Spirits Within
Fire & Ice
Grave of the Fireflies
The Iron Giant
Kaena: The Prophecy
The Last Unicorn
Magnetic Rose
Princess Mononoke
Starchaser: The Legend of Orin
Star Wars: Clone Wars - Volume 1
The Sword in the Stone
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Wallace and Gromit in A Grand Day Out

10 July 2006

Films of 2007 - A Sneak Peek - Part I

Now that most of the big films have debuted for 2006, I thought I could whet your appetites with what next year holds. Here is a list of the films in which I have the most interest. Next year looks to be a big one, especially May with 3 third installments in the biggest franchises around. I will save my box office predictions for next year, but with fierce competition, there has to be both winners and losers. Just ask Superman.

Ghost Rider - February 16

A motorcycle stuntman, Johnny Blaze, makes a pact with a dark force, known as Mephisto, selling his soul to save his adopted father. When the bargain goes sour and the man isn't saved, Blaze is transformed into "the spirit of vengeance," Ghost Rider.

Check out the trailer for this one, it looks pretty hot. We shall see if Marvel can continue its streak of success. Methinks yes.

Stardust - March 09

Based on a Neil Gaiman novel of the same name, Stardust concerns the adventures of Tristran Thorn, a young man who lives in the village of Wall, located on the borders of Faerie. In order to win her love, Tristran makes a promise to the girl of his dreams, to retrieve a star that fell in to Faerie. But he is not the only one looking for the star.

I have this book in my ever growing queue of "to read," but the premise sounds good. Also, with Robert De Niro, Michelle Pfeiffer, and even Ricky Gervais, this film should be worth checking out.

Meet the Robinsons - March 30

Disney's latest animated entry is based on William Joyce's book A Day with Wilbur Robinson. Lewis' latest and most ambitious project is the Memory Scanner, which he hopes will retrieve early memories of his mother and maybe even reveal why she put him up for adoption. But before he can get his answer, his invention is stolen by the dastardly Bowler Hat Guy.

Lewis has all but given up hope in his future when a mysterious boy named Wilbur Robinson whisks him away in a time machine and travels forward in time to spend a day with Wilbur's eccentric family. In a world filled with flying cars and floating cities, they hunt down Bowler Hat Guy, save the future and uncover the amazing secret of the Robinson family.

Sure, Chicken Little was sorta forgettable, but it was not as bad as people said either. This film looks like something different from Disney, and looks like it could be worth checking out.

Spider-Man 3 - May 04

Peter Parker returns, gets a new costume, and battles the sandman. Gwen Stacy and Eddie Brock also show up further complicating things for the old web-head.

This is probably the one I am looking forward to the most. Its got the black costume, and what looks like tons of action. I will be disappointed if this isn't the best Spider-Man yet.

Shrek the Third - May 18

With the heir to the Far Far Away throne missing, Shrek and Fiona are forced to stand in as rulers. In order to return home to their swamp, it is up to Shrek, Donkey and Puss in Boots to find the true heir. During their absence, Princess Fiona finds herself faced with a coup attempt by Prince Charming.

Am I all Shreked out? I'm not sure. I liked the first two, but I don't think this series needs to go on forever. Besides any movie with Justin Timberlake just might suck. But, I haven't seen any previews or anything yet, so I won't pass judgment yet. And no matter what I say, this one is gonna be big.

Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - May 25

As the age of piracy comes to a close, Captain Jack Sparrow, Will Turner and Elizabeth Swann must sail off the edge of the map, navigate treachery and betrayal, and make their final alliances for one last decisive battle. Our heroes must face Lord Cutler Beckett, Davy Jones and Admiral James Norrington in a titanic showdown that could eliminate the freedom-loving pirates from the seven seas -- forever.

Yo ho, with Pirates 2 breaking all sorts of records, and ending with a cliffhanger, I am sure this one can't come soon enough. Should be fun seeing Chow Yun Fat as a pirate. Hopefully this film wraps everything up and justifies the trilogy.

Stay tuned for Part II coming soon.