22 July 2006

Star Trek XI Poster First Look

In 2008 it looks like Trek Classic Returns!

Superman Returns, Again!

In spite of lackluster box office earnings, Bryan Singer is planning a Superman sequel for a 2009 release. According to Superherhype.com

Bryan Singer said that he was in talks with the studio about a sequel to Superman Returns. He hadn't concluded a deal to do it yet, which he said is always "iffy," but he has every intention to do a sequel for 2009, and said that while Superman Returns reintroduced the character for new people, the next one will let him get all "Wrath of Khan on it." He added that you can expect an alien villain in the sequel.

Methinks an alien villain would be a wise move. Bring it on!

Superman Returns still needs $27,128,000 to reach $200 Million

21 July 2006

4th Spidey Villain Revealed

Though it had been rumored that Mysterio would appear, it turns out the 4th bad guy in SM3 is none other than evil Peter Parker. What a let down. :(

Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles Return in TMNT

I may have made a boo boo. In my recent films of 2007 sneak peeks 1 and 2, I neglected to mention the upcoming all CG Ninja Turtles film. Why? Because I still had a bad taste of Vanilla Ice in my mouth (not literally) after all these years. But today the teaser debuted, and it looks sweet. Check it out on Apple here. Look out for March 30, 2007!

Or just watch it here:

20 July 2006

UPDATE: DVD Peddlers Are Trying To Make A Monkey Out Of Me

UPDATE: Well, its been announced. But at least this time I was not a double dipping monkey. I will be picking up my first copy of King Kong in November. By the way, there will be an extended Narnia as well (making 3 versions so far), but I think I will pass on that since I already dropped too much on the twice the price "special edition."

Aside from Star Wars, George Lucas' greatest contribution to Hollywood was his mastering of the double dip. When I was young, I was given the Star Wars Trilogy on VHS. The particular version I received was the "last time on video" THX remastered version. It was somewhat cutting edge to have some "special feature" interviews with George on these tapes as well. I suppose some people probably upgraded their VHS copies to this highest quality release. The threat that these tapes would be out of print forever E.T. style is what got a lot of my friends to buy them. What we did not realize that this was a clever ploy to sell some extra copies before the Star Wars Special Editions were released. The trilogy would never actually be "unavailable."And who were the Special Editions marketed to? The exact same crowd who had just purchased the original trilogy of course. Well, at least the movies were an upgrade, and had different content right? But did anyone really want two trilogies on their shelf? In any case, the scheme worked. George had found a way to sell more units than there were customers to buy them. This was only the beginning.

A few years later, when Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace was originally released, it was only available on VHS with "no plans" for a DVD release in spite of a burgeoning DVD market. VHS sales were impressive nevertheless. But low and behold a year or so later, when VHS sales had slowed no doubt, suddenly a DVD 2-disk special edition was announced (this time with only a couple of added scenes, mostly to the already over long podrace). Once again, my peers and I owned two versions of the same film. The DVD was an obvious upgrade, but we couldn't help but to feel duped. This is when the rest of the DVD market began to take notice. I have since purchased the trilogy on DVD, and as many deleted scenes have still not been integrated into the films, a forthcoming ultimate edition is inevitable (maybe the ultimate edition would include Jar Jar in the Jedi ghost scene along with the recently inserted young Ani). I will more than likely take the bait too, since I never seem to learn... Or do I?

It was not long before 2-disk special editions were the norm, in fact they were not that special since they were often the only edition. Even when content would easily fit on 1 disk, we got 2. 2-disks just sounds like you are getting more. And if you are getting more, they can charge more... Right? I had finally gotten used to this though, and by picking up movies during the first week of release, I could get them for a reasonable price. But like the Borg, the industry continues to adapt.

The next big scam occurred when the Lord of the Rings movies were released. First came the theatrical cuts, and a few months later, feature filled and superior Extended Editions were made available. At least with these films, an astute movie fan was aware that director's cuts were forthcoming. The strong willed could wait for the latter release before buying the film. Why the delay between versions though? Supposedly, the good folks at New Line Cinema wanted to let us get a hold of the theatrical cuts "as soon as possible." They were doing us a service. The Extended versions just weren't ready in time. Riiiiiiight. Conveniently, many fans couldn't wait, or were unaware of a forthcoming release and ended up again with two versions of the film. After being fooled with The Fellowship of the Ring DVD release, however, many people wised up and waited for The Two Towers and The Return of the King Extended versions before making the purchase. I must say though that I did appreciate that the extended versions were not a complete secret, and that the theatrical and extended special features did not overlap. But this was the next step in the evolution of multiple film versions. Comic book films in particular have embraced this strategy with director's cuts being released mere months after theatrical releases, and no mention of forthcoming versions until after the initial versions have already been sold. Guilty parties include Daredevil, Elektra, Sin City, Hellboy (Spider-Man 2.5 and X-2.5 are also rumored to be in the works).

More recently, DVD producers have gotten significantly more crafty in getting extra cash out of their turnips/customers. Last year Warner Brothers devised a new plan that hit me hard. When Batman Begins was released, a 1-disk feature only version was released as was a 2-disk deluxe edition. I thought that it was nice that they were giving folks more options and not staggering the release to trick their customer base. But they were still being tricksy, just tricksier than I had expected. During release week, the 1-disk version would sell for the same discounted price as the "2-disk special editions" had been selling. The deluxe version however would sell for a premium of about $8 more (in spite of the $1 variance in MSRP of the versions). Of course advertised prices were for the cheap version, and it was not until buyers arrived at the store to buy the film that they realized they would have to ante up for the special edition features.

But it gets worse. This Tuesday, King Kong is coming to DVD. Not only is there another $8 hit for special features which would have been free a year ago, but there is likely an extended version of the film coming shortly. I say likely, because Universal is remaining hush-hush on the topic. Given Peter Jackson's track record with making long movies longer and his hinting at an extended version, I suspect that come November there will be another Kong DVD for sale. Is this a film that I really need two copies of? Why can't companies just be honest and give buyers the facts? Rumors are that The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe will be pulling the same trick with 1-disk and 2-disk simultaneous releases, and a forthcoming planned but unannounced extended version for later this year. The occasional upgraded version may be warranted, but its the subterfuge that really annoys me. At least Jackson adds a lot of content. Narnia will probably have like 1 extra shot of a fawn or a beaver. I am the one that's already dropped hundreds of bones on my video library, and all they can do is look for ways to sell it to me all over again. Is having happy customers so undesirable? Apparently so.

A Brokeback Knight to be The Joker, and Other Comics News

Heath Ledger, star of A Knight's Tale and Brokeback Mountain is rumored to have been cast as the Joker in the upcoming sequel to Batman Begins. Not who I would have at first thought of, but not a horrible choice either (like the rumored Robin Williams would have been).

In Hulk news, Louis Leterrier will direct The Incredible Hulk. Who? He directed Transporter 2 and Unleashed. Which? Hey I just pass the news along. Leterrier says "We won't be spending times presenting the characters, which is unfortunately pretty much unavoidable as far as number ones are concerned. " Huh? He also said that this Hulk will be less serious, use less CG, and will still have a sizeable budget over 100 "millions." Zak Penn writer of X2, X3, and Elektra will write. It has also been announced that the Hulk will square off with the Abomination in this theatrical "do-over."

And in other news, DC is actually going to make a non Superman or Batman movie, 2 in fact. Plans are being made for adaptations of The Doom Patrol and Deadman. I do not have too much exposure to the Doom Patrol other than their gust appearance on Teen Titans, and they had a character named Elasti-Girl before The Incredibles. Here is a bit about them:

Debuting in 1963, "Doom Patrol" was often compared to Marvel's X-Men. Both comics follow the exploits of a band of super-powered social misfits ostracized by the rest of the world.

As with X-Men, the Doom Patrol is guided by a wheelchair-boundmentor in fighting evil. Characters include Elasti-Girl, Negative Man and Robotman.

The series, created by Bob Haney, Arnold Drake and Bruno Premiani, ceased in 1968 after failing to woo a big audience. DC revived the series several times over the years, however, with more recent incarnations turning Doom Patrol into a much darker, edgier comic than X-Men.

Check here for more info.

As for Deadman:

The character is a ghost who, when alive, was a circus acrobat named Boston Brand. He was murdered during a trapeze performance by an unknown assailant but his spirit was granted the power to possess the living in order to search for his murderer as well as help the innocent.

Again, here is a bit more.

Stay tuned for more from Comic Con 2006

19 July 2006

UPDATE: Guess Who is Coming to Dinner in Smallville? Green Arrow!

That's right folks, Oliver Queen AKA Green Arrow will be joining the likes of The Flash, Aquaman, and Cyborg by teaming up with young Clark Kent (played by nearly 30 year old Tom Welling) to fight crime in Smallville. This time around, the guest hero will be showing up for at least 7 episodes giving him the chance to leave a lasting impact. Stay tuned for more details.

UPDATE: One of the purposes of Green Arrow's appearance is to form an organization or League for the superpowered good guys. Word is that long with Arrow, we can expect the return of Flash and Cyborg as well. Oh Boy!!!

Ink Blots XXII - Robots

Rodney Copperbottom (played by the always likeable Ewan McGregor) has big dreams that take him to where else? Robot City. Rodney wants to meet up with big name industrialist Bigweld to become an inventor. Unfortunately, Ratchet and his mama have taken over the company with a new ad campaign selling robot parts with the slogan, "Why be you, when you could be new?" Along the way, Rodney meets up with the Robin Williams voiced zany character (yep, the same stale character he always plays) who always falls apart. Rodney doesn't get his dream job, but he finds plenty of work fixing up robots that can't afford the high end robot parts being peddled by Ratchet. This makes Ratchet angry...

The visuals in the movie are stunning, especially for an engineering guy like me. The mechanical details are fun to watch and as I child I would have loved a working Robot City playset. The transit system that flings pods across town with precision is particularly cool, and makes me want to play a round of Mousetrap. As for laughs, this film is a bit lacking. It starts of fine with some cute and literal "baby-making" jokes, but when we get to Robot City, the humor becomes a little less sophisticated. How funny you find the jokes depends on how funny you think Robin Williams' Fender is. One particularly annoying scene in this film involves Fender dancing to Hit Me Baby, One More Time. These kind of unfunny pop culture "gags" that come out of nowhere make me cringe and feel embarrassed to even be watching the movie. Much funnier is Rodney's little sidekick invention, the large bottomed Aunt Fanny, and the voice impersonator bot. Pretty forgettable are Fender's sister Piper and Halle Berry's Cappy (the obligatory, though barely there love interest).

Timeless classic this is not, but a fun visual feast it surely is. Robots came out in March 2005 from the same folks as Ice Age. It did fairly well at the box office earning almost $130 million, but it did not perform as well as many of the critter-based CG films. Still, I give it props for using the medium for something new. Mostly on its designs and animation, not for its forgettable characters I grant Robots a B-.

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
Superman: Brainiac Attacks
The Sword in the Stone
Tim Burton's Corpse Bride
Wallace and Gromit in A Grand Day Out

17 July 2006

Films of 2007 - A Sneak Peek - Part II

Continuing from Part I

May is sure to be a hot month, but the summer will just be getting started. In addition to some high profile sequels, and adaptations, the summer also has a couple of fresh ideas worth checking out.

Fantastic Four and The Silver Surfer - June 15

Marvel’s first family of superheroes, The Fantastic Four, meets their greatest challenge yet in Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer as the enigmatic, intergalactic herald, The Silver Surfer, comes to Earth to prepare it for destruction. As the Silver Surfer races around the globe wreaking havoc, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must unravel the mystery of the Silver Surfer and confront the surprising return of their mortal enemy, Dr. Doom, before all hope is lost.

The first one did OK, but overall, it was a bit on the cheesy side. I think the addition of the surfer will bring back the crowds (even though I never really got his appeal, I mean, he's a silver naked dude on a cosmic surf board. Sure...) . Still, even with a bigger threat, increasing the camp may not be a good idea, but I don't see any realistic way they are going to have the Fantastic-Car withouth the camp-o-meter going through the roof. But, I am a sucker for the comic book films, so see ya there.

Ratatouille - June 29

Pixar, the creators of "Finding Nemo," "The Incredibles" and "Cars" now cook up "Ratatouille," a delicious new animated-adventure centering on an ambitious French Rat named Remy who dreams of becoming a great chef. Because of his passion for cooking, Remy accidentally uproots his family from the French countryside to the sewers of Paris, and finds himself ideally situated beneath a restaurant made famous by his culinary hero, Auguste Gusteau. When Remy helps create a soup that wins rave reviews from the world's most powerful food critic, he sets in motion a hilarious and exciting rat race that wreaks havoc on the entire city, allowing him to achieve the impossible and pursue his true gift. The screenplay, written by Academy Award-winning Brad Bird ("The Incredibles"), is flavored with a colorful cast of characters and exquisite French backdrops making "Rataouille" a tantalizing recipe of imaginative fun and unexpected delight.

Ah, Pixar. That plus Brad Bird = a surefire hit. The Incredicles is one of my all time favs, and the iron giant is great too. "Rats" looks to mix up the Pixar formula a bit as well. While I may not be the most excited for this film, it will probably end up being one of next year's best.

Transformers - July 04

Giant transforming robots bring their war to our world.

Don't know too much about this one, other than the fact that director Michael Bay loves to blow things up. This film may be a few years too late, but depending on if the spirit of the cartoon can be translated, this might be OK. Then again, I could see this being the big flop of next summer, especially if the focus is on the humans rather than the bots. As for the teaser footage, it not actually in the film. Also Bumblebee is a Camaro, Prime has a long hood, and noone knows what Megatron will be.

Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - July 13

Harry continues his adventures at Hogwarts. In this fifth installment, Harry seeks out the prophecy that may hold the key to why Voldemort wanted to kill him.

He is back again! Not many franchises put out a fifth film that doesn't totally blow. But I have complete faith in Mr Potter. These films have been handled very well. Having said that, this was not on the top of my list of favorite Potter books. It was overlong, and had far too much Grawp. Also, the resolution was sort of a let down to me. Lastly, this was the book where Expeliarmus became the most devestating spell a wizard could use. Then again, there are some scene which should be amazing on the big screen, and really even a bad Potter book is pretty OK.

10,000 B.C. - July 27

This epic tale centers on three stages in the development of primitive man, as seen through the eyes of a 21-year-old hunter from a primitive tribe who must hunt mammoth to survive.

All I know about this is what I wrote above. But if it is an epic story with a dude fighting Wooly Mammoths, it could be cool.

The Simpsons Movie - July 27

A goof by Homer at the power plant results in the government putting a dome over the city limits of Springfield

D'oh, are there really more stories to tell? Maybe only all the 30 minute variety are used up. I love the Simpsons, but I am not sure how many people are going to pay to see this when they can watch 3 or 4 reruns a day on TV for free. Surely the writers know that they really need this to be something special in order to even justify its existence.

16 July 2006

B.O. Derby

Another fantastic weekend for Pirates springs the swashbucklers into 1st place for the year, with a target for the elusive 400 million dollar milestone. Little Man and You, Me, and Dupree both pulled in about $20 mil, not earth shattering, but more than they deserved. In the rankings, Cars has vroomed past Da Vinci, with its eyes on passing up X-Men as well in the next couple of weeks. If Cars manages that feat, this would be one helluva year for Disney. Not fairing as well was the Man of Steel inching his way toward that coveted $200 million mark. Ol' Supes would have a decent shot at that goal if new films didn't keep opening. This upcoming weekend there will be 4 big releases: First, from the folks that made The Polar Express, Monster House. Next, one I plan to see and also a pick to be in the top 9 of the summer, M Night's Lady in the Water. Also, unnecessary sequel Clerks II. And lastly, the horrible looking My Super Ex-Girlfriend.

Current Rankings:

9) The Break-Up - $116,095,220
8) Click - $119,963,211
7) Mission: Impossible III - $133,382,309
6) Over the Hedge - $150,898,980
5) Superman Returns - $164,316,103
4) The Da Vinci Code - $214,891,691
3) Cars - $220,001,446
2) X-Men: The Last Stand - $232,329,982
1) Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man's Chest - $258,364,766

Superman Returns still needs $35,683,897 to reach $200 Million

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: Dead Man's Chest - $350,000,000