09 September 2006

The Many Foes of Spider-Man - the Chameleon

One of Spidey's first foes rears his head this week, presenting the Chameleon

This old school baddie first appeared in Amazing Spider-Man #1. Dmitri Smerdyakov is your standard "master of disguise," who over the years has come up with various methods for changing his appearance. These range from simple make-up to biological mutagenic enhancements and appearance altering fabrics. He is also an expert method actor. These skills earned him the name of the Chameleon.

This guy may be one of Spidey's oldest foes, but he is not one of the most memorable. Perhaps his greatest plan involved posing as the web head and framing him theft. Quite a masterful plan indeed! :)


Villain Profiles:

the Beetle
Black Cat
Boomerang
Calypso
Carnage
the Chameleon



Spider-Man 3 debuts in 237 days!

07 September 2006

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 2001

Following in the tradition of the 2005, 2004, 2003, & 2002 retrospectives, behold, I bring you the superheroes on screen in 2001.

2001__________________

I will be honest with you, 2001 was an awful year for superfolk. There were a few onscreen adaptations of graphic novels including Brendon Frasier in Monkeybone as well as From Hell and Ghost World. There were, however, sadly no Superheroes on the big screen.

Luckily, things were a bit brighter on the small screen. In 2001, the Superboy character was reimagined with a "no flights, no tights" mantra in the show Smallville. In the show, young Clark Kent befriends a young Lex Luthor as the two vie for the affections of Lana Lang. Clark discovers his powers, and fights to forge his own destiny. Various other characters from Superman lore have also been reimagined into the show including Lois Lane, Perry White, Zod, Brainiac, Morgan Edge, the Flash, and Aquaman. Smallville begins its sixth season in the fall of 2006.

While he had his own 90's animated show, The Tick (based on a cult comic book) made his live action debut in the fall of 2001. Originally, the show was conceived as a strike filler for a writer's strike which never happened. Once The Tick finally premiered, it was given the standard Fox treatment - dumped to Thursdays against tough competition with little promotion and promptly cancelled.

Superman got even more screen time in 2001 with the debut of the animated Justice League. This series continued a few years after Superman: The Animated Series, and reunited Superman with Batman. Also added to the mix were Wonder Woman, the Flash, Green Lantern John Stewart, the Martian Manhunter, and Hawkgirl. Guest heroes also dropped in on occasion including the Lantern Corps, a toughed up Aquaman, Metamorpho, the New Gods, and the Demon. To add to the epic mood of the series, and to accommodate all seven stars, each episode was a segment of a two or three parter. This series did much to bring back respect to the League after the silly 70's Superfriends. The show produced 52 episodes before morphing into the series Justice League Unlimited.

In all, 2001 really doesnt stand out as a great year, though it did produce a couple of good TV shows. I doubt there will be another year without a superhero on the big screen for some time.

Previous Retrospectives
2005
2004
2003
2002

06 September 2006

Galac is Back!

It has been far too long since I have absorbed any new Battlestar Galactica, and while season 3 does not debut until October 6th, we have been tossed a bone to tide us over in the form of online webisodes. These 10 segments fill in the gaps of what happened between seasons 2 and 3. The first segment is already available for free viewing at SciFi.com's Pulse page, and new webisodes will be available each Tuesday and Thursday until the Season 3 premier.

So far I like what I see, a little insurgency from the "good guys." Tyrol and Cally have a little one, and they are working to organize a resistance with everyone's favorite drunk, Colonel Tigh. Meanwhile, the Cylons are trying to recruit a human police force to keep the streets safe. How thoughtful. Check out these webisodes, and watch Battlestar Galactica when it returns in October.

05 September 2006

Prime Revealed, More and Better Transformers Pics

Optimus Prime in Full: Optimus Prime has been unvelied. Behold and marvel at Prime's backside and head (in standard and battle mode):





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The names of the Autobots and Decepticons appearing in next summer's Transformers movie were released along with a bit of commentary. I thought that would throw in a few pictures of the robots as an added bonus. Click for bigger version. Sadly there is no ghetto-blaster (or iPod) Soundwave, but I admit the "flame" look on Prime looks A-Ok. Enjoy.

Autobots

Optimus Prime - "The king!"









Bumblebee - "He's the same underdog character we always knew and loved." [Note: Except he's a Camaro in the new movie.]





Jazz - "He's eager to take on the Decepticons."



Ratchet - "Ratchet, who was an ambulance in the cartoon, will appear in a new form."



Ironhide - "The muscle. A tough soldier who can make any Transformer bust an o-ring just with his stare!"


Decepticons

Megatron - "He's been portrayed as pure evil but we're trying to get a little bit behind the evil in this movie. ... He has a slightly less idealistic version of what he thinks humanity is worth."





Starscream - "Always secretly plotting to dethrone Megatron..."



Brawl
- "An extremely pissed off Decepticon."

Bonecrusher - "The closest thing to a Constructicon in the film."

Barricade - "The hunter of the group -- a cop car."

Scorpinok - "Closest thing to Beast Wars or Dinobot in the film."



Frenzy - "A smaller form able to infiltrate spaces -- a stealth spy."

Blackout - "The guy who takes out our ability to fight back."

Ink Blots XXVIII - Fantasia 2000

September has sprung and with it, Ink Blots is ready for a new theme. This month I bring you Musical Movies (NOT to be confused with movie musicals).

First off is Fantasia 2000. This film was released January 1, 2000, the first film of the new millennium. Roy Disney had pushed for this follow up to the visionary classic 1941 film Fantasia. This project was given the green light after record revenues from video sales in the early 1990's and the overall success of Disney animation under Roy's directorship. So how did the film measure up?

Like the original, this film is divided into musical segments inspired by classical pieces. Beethoven's 5th Symphony gets the ball rolling with segment featuring dancing shapes of colors interplayed with dark shapes. A decent if not forgettable introduction.

Next up, Respighi's Pines of Rome. This delightful segment showcases a pod of whales splishing and splashing in the open sea, and then soaring through the air with the seagulls and then into the clouds. The humpback whale has not been given such respect since Star Trek IV. This piece is truly magnificent.

Gershwin's Rhapsody in Blue follows beginning with an etch-a-sketch feel, and then transforming into the style of animator Al Hirschfeld. During this segment, I was very distracted by the memory of United Airlines ads, but the story is sorta fun to watch. Set during the depression in New York, we are given a glimpse at several characters. I like this segment because it incorporates a different style of music into Fantasia without losing the "classical" feel, but the story is not my favorite.

Shostakovich, Piano Concerto # 2 Allegro Opus 102 features a steadfast tin soldier and an evil jack in the box, some rats, and various other perils. The soldier is one lucky SOB, who stays true, and gets the girl. A good segment.

Saint-Saens, Carnival of the Animals, Finale answers the question of what would happen if you gave a yo-yo to a flock of flamingos. Very charming and too short.




Dukas, The Sorcerer's Apprentice returns. It is fitting since this piece is probably the one most people think of from Fantasia 1. Its just as good here as it always had been.


Next, from Elgar, Pomp and Circumstance. Originally, Eisner had wanted this segment to feature various Disney characters "graduating" by presenting their babies at a big ceremony. The animators hated this idea partly because it implied that all of the Disney princesses had had sex, and partly because its just a pretty lame way to show the characters. The song too is not the best choice. It's not really timeless, in fact it was chosen since it was familiar to everyone who has ever been to at least a high school graduation. Here we are given the story of Noah's ark featuring Donald Duck. As usual, the Duck is outshined by the mouse, but still the animation here is superb, and the story is fun to watch. Also, after all his abuse, its nice to see Donald get a happy ending.

Stravinsky's Firebird Suite tells of life death and rebirth in a segment that rivals night on bald mountain for scariness. The conclusion of this piece is quite awe inspiring.

Overall, there are not really any stinkers, though Beethoven's 5th didn't do much for me. On the other hand, Pines of Rome and Firebird are masterpieces with Pomp and Carnival of the Animals being quite fun.

One thing that ruins some of the timelessness of this film are the various hosts who introduce each segment including Steve Martin, Bette Midler, and Penn and Teller!? Can we please keep pop culture out of Fantasia?

Fantasia does not seem to bring in the audiences. This film generated only $60 million (partly due to limited early releases in IMAX that prevented big crowds while buzz was at its highest), but I think most would agree that the idea is great. Perhaps shorts in the style of Fantasia should be produced and attached to Disney features. I would love to see the Fantasia project kept alive and not resurrected 60 years from now. As for this film, perhaps not as revolutionary as the original, but still worthy of a B+.

04 September 2006

Lord of the Rings Part 4!? No, Its Eragon

Check out this footage from the film presented at Comic Con. Eragon comes out December 15, and hopes to be the next big fantasy saga. I haven't read the book, so I don't know if it really is a Lord of the Rings rip off or not, but this footage looks promising.