16 December 2006

The Many Foes of Spider-Man - the Kingpin

Time for the big daddy: the Kingpin

While Wilson Fisk AKA the Kingpin has had many run-ins with Spider-Man, he is also a thorn in the side of Daredevil and the Punisher.

Wilson Fisk is a criminal mastermind who was involved in extensive illegal activities such as drug running, smuggling, murder, and so forth. Despite this, he had (until recently, see below) no criminal record and an army of lawyers to keep it that way, and is a criminal financial strategist without parallel. Fisk has no superhuman powers, but the majority of his 400-plus pound bulk is muscle (when he delivered a kick to the Kingpin's back, Daredevil could only think, "Whatever that was, it wasn't fat. Felt more like rock"). He is a superb fighter who has held his own against Spider-Man, but in recent years Daredevil has occupied his attention. He has been aware of Daredevil's secret identity for years, thanks to Karen Page's drug-fueled betrayal.

Wilson Fisk began his life as a poor child, ridiculed by his classmates, as he was heavy and unpopular. When he was repeatedly harassed by bullies, Fisk began training himself in physical combat. Using his newfound strength, he intimidated the bullies into joining his gang, and he started on the road towards being one of the most successful criminals in New York City. His first gang was a small one with only a few thugs. However, he eventually was found by crime lord Don Rigoletto. Fisk became Don Rigoletto's bodyguard and right-hand man. Eventually, Fisk killed Don Rigoletto and took control of his gang, immediately becoming one of the most powerful criminals in the city.

Villain Profiles:

the Beetle
Black Cat
the Chameleon
Doctor Octopus
the Green Goblin
J. Jonah Jameson
Jack O' Lantern
the Kingpin

Spider-Man 3 debuts in 139 days!

New Animated STAR TREK Series in Development

Though not greenlit yet, CBS is interested in an animated for the web Trek series set 150 years after Star Trek Nemesis AKA Star Trek 10.

From trekmovie.com

Trek’s darker future…with a spark of hope The Zero Room team felt that the time was right for a new approach to Trek. The setting is the year 2528 and the Federation is a different place after suffering through a devastating war with the Romulans 60 years earlier. The war was sparked off after a surprise attack of dozens of ‘Omega particle’ detonations throughout the Federation creating vast areas which become impassible to warp travel and essentially cut off almost half the Federation from the rest. During the war the Klingon homeworld was occupied by the Romulans, all of Andoria was destroyed and the Vulcans, who were negotiating reunification with the Romulans, pulled out of the Federation. The setting may seem bleak and not very Trek-like, but that is where the show’s hero Captain Alexander Chase comes in. Relegated to border patrol, Chase is determined to bring the Federation (and a ship called Enterprise) back to the glory days of seeking out new life and new civilizations.

A conflicted ship and crew
This new animated series would take place again on a ship called Enterprise, but the old girl has seen better days. Captain Chase’s Enterprise will be a ‘Bismarck Class’ heavy cruiser from the Romulan war and a bit out of date. Her mission will be merely patrolling the border, but Chase chose the Enterprise for a reason. As a student of the Federation’s glory days, he wants to have the Enterprise reclaim her legacy. Although they are not ready to share artwork, Rossi says the ship will be very different than familiar saucer/hull/nacelle designs while still being recognizable as a ‘Star Trek’ ship. Her crew will be a collection of humans and aliens including a chief engineer named ‘Mr. Zero’ who wears an environmental suit to survive. Life on the ship will mirror that of the Federation itself. "The Captain is more forward thinking and wants to go out and do some exploring but half the crew will be against that and want to just protect the border," says Rossi. Leading the ’stay the course’ faction will be Chase’s first officer, Commander Barric Holden who wants a command of his own and be a bit resentful of the his new captain. Rounding out the ‘big 3′ will be Lt. Kaylen Donal, a tough-as-nails security chief whose team of red shirts are all linked with Borg technology implants called ‘Biomechanical Utility Grafts or ‘BUGs’. The Zero Room team want to see this security squad kick some butt and not just be cannon fodder. Rossi draws the distinction with previous security personnel "they aren’t the hapless pajama wearing guys who get vaporized every time…these are going to be very thoughtful clever bad-ass soldiers."


Aside from an utter Battlestar Galactica style reboot, this is just what Star Trek needs. A complete rethinking and mix up. I like this idea. I like the idea that the glorious Federation is once again the underdog. The Borg were a great opponent at first, until Voyager could destroy a cube in one shot. It would be nice to see some real stakes again.

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Star Trek The Animated Series - The Animated Adventures of Gene Roddenberry's Star Trek

15 December 2006

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 2006

As the year winds down and following in the tradition of retrospectives past, behold, I bring you the superheroes on screen in 2006.


Twas truly a prolific year for Superheroes on screens both big and small. Though while there were heroes a plenty, none of them was a huge sensation. Is the tide starting to turn for Superheroes being a sure thing? Or will next year see a return to dominance of the genre?

In May, X-Men: The Last Stand, the 3rd and final (yeah right) X-Men film opened huge. The box office quickly cooled off though resulting in a healthy, but far from dominant, $234 million take. This movie was a real let down. Don't get me wrong, I enjoyed X3, I would say I liked it at least as much as the original X-Men, but nowhere near as much as X2. Also, X2 built up to a fantastic cliffhanger that was basically abandoned. Jean Grey / The Phoenix was a wasted opportunity, and Brett "the Hitman" Ratner lacked the wavos to actually go through with killing / demutifying any of the characters. When the film closes, Cyclops is dead (good riddance to this pale imitation of the comic book Cyclops) but everything else is safely status quo. Still, I loved seeing the Beast, Kitty Pryde was well done, Angel was shortchanged, and Magneto was as bad as ever. We also got the danger room, but I sorta wish we didn't. Anyhow, thanks to this films success, an X4 focusing on the youngsters is all but a sure thing, its just a matter of when.

After years of failed reboots and scrapped ideas including Superman versus a giant spider, Superman finally returned in June. I really though that this film would rule the summer. I mean, who doesn't know Superman? But, thanks to Pirate-mania, Superman Returns struggled to compete against Pirates 2. A subplot involving a Super-bastard child, and Superman stocking Lois didn't help, nor did another zany Luthor real estate scheme. Who wants to live on a radioactive razor sharp crystal? Superman did gain a boost in box office from IMAX 3D, and the film accomplished a milestone by crossing the $200 million mark (barely), suring up a Super sequel (The Man of Steel) in 2009. This film was a beauty to behold, and fairly good, but I would prefer a Superman involved in less morally questionable activities. I would also like my Superman to throw at least 1 punch next time rather than just lifting things... I get it, he's strong. Its a shame that Bryan Singer left X3 to give us this. Let's Hope his follow-up is more like his vastly improved X2.

Then came July and My Super Ex Girlfriend. Superheroes sell right? "Here is a piece of crap movie, but its got a superhero! Watch it! " But no one did, and the film flopped with only $22 million proving (surprisingly) that audiences still have some taste.

Ah, but filmmakers do not. In August, Zoom which sadly can best be described as a poor man's Sky High, opened and also bombed with a mere $11 million. Why is Tim Allen richer than me?

The Direct-to-Video (DTV) market also saw its share of productions this year. Marvel comics released its first two animated titles under a partnership with Lionsgate. In February, Ultimate Avengers: The Movie (click for review) adapted the first part of the Ultimate Avengers comic, and was followed up in August with the introduction of the Black Panther in Ultimate Avengers 2. Though not perfect, these films were a nice way to bring the Avengers to the small screen and I would love an animated series to continue their story.

Less successful was June's attempt to cash in on the upcoming Superman Returns. Superman: Brainiac Attacks used designs from the Superman: Animated Series, but made the characters idiotic. And in spite of its short length, this film was just so boring. This was a major disappointment.

On the other hand, in September DC comics previewed the very good Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo on the Cartoon Network. Though I would have liked seeing a more direct follow-up to the now canceled series, this was everything the Titans should be. It had some funny gags in Japan, and good action with a creative new foe. Hopefully, more Teen Titans DTVs will follow.

In October, Dark Horse comics brought the first Animated Hellboy film's debut to the Cartoon Network. Hellboy: Sword of Storms is the first of several DTV Hellboy projects. This film showed promise and I expect Hellboy: Blood and Iron to be even better. You can learn more about the upcoming films at gotohellboy.com - I just like that URL.

In November, accompanying the DVD release of Superman Returns was an all new edit of Superman 2 called The Richard Donner Cut. Superman 1 and 2 were being filmed simulataneosly, but when production fell behind schedule, a decision was made to focus on finishing Superman 1. Though 80% of Superman 2 was already filmed, the financers of the project decided to be real cheap SOBs and fired the director, Richard Donner, even after Superman's huge box office success. His replacement, Richard Lester (also director of the campy Superman 3) refilmed almost half the film so that he could be listed as the "director" instead of Donner. Most of the dumbest part of the film including Superman's unexplained new powers (amnesia kiss, super plastic S-Shield, teleportation) were Lesters addition. After years of fan requests, Richard Donner's film footage was brought to light in a new edit of the film. Since the movie was never completeky shot with Donner, the new cut does use some of Lester's footage, but it is used sparingly. This new cut has marvelous scenes explaining why Superman gave up his powers, and how he got them back. These scenes include a touching exchange between Kal-El and papa Jor-El (which was cut so as to not have to pay Marlon Brando). Also, ther is a new ending, new beginning, and new reveal to Lois that Clark is Superman. Its a great film to check out for fans of the original Superman 2. It will leave you pondering over and over, "why did they take that scene out!"

Not wishing to be left out, television was also a hopping venue for the distribution Superhero tales.

Marvel comics certainly has a different philosphy than DC with their heroes. While DC seems stingy with its characters, choosing to do return to the well with Superman and Batman rather than seriously developing other A and B list characters into film (Flash, Green Lantern, Hawkman, Wonder Woman), Marvel seems to think any of their heroes can carry a film (Elektra, Ghost Rider, Ant-Man). And in the case of Blade which started off as a successful franchise that ran its course, Marvel attempted to get a little more milk out of the character with a Blade Series for Spike TV. Blade lasted 3 months and only 12 episodes, but I still wonder if Marvel won't somehow find a way to keep this pony running.

In July, SciFi showed Stan Lee's Lightspeed, an all new creation with incredibly poor production which made Striperella seem like a good idea. Poor Stan, always looking for the next Spider-Man and only coming up with a cheap Flash knock-off.

Luckily, Stan Lee struck gold (or at least silver) with a new reality show Who Wants to be a Superhero? The idea sounded cliché, but the campy humor and pure cheese made the show fresh and enjoyable. I still don't know how Fat Mama became the runner-up, but having the geeky Feedback win made me feel like some day I could be a hero too.

After Aquaman's big boost to thew Smallville ratings, a spinoff seemed certain. But when the WB and UPN merged into the oddly named CW, Aquaman: Mercy Reef's bubble was burst. One of the fruits of this failure was that the lead in Aquaman has joined the cast of Smallville as Green Arrow, easily the best part of Smallville in its sixth season. After huge success on iTunes, rumors of a pickup reemerged, but it seems the series was not meant to be.

2006 also introduces a couple of new animated series. Up first, the Cartoon Network began showing a new Animated Fantastic Four series. The animation was great, but the fight choreography has been pretty lame. Also lame, the series seems to have begun already out of ideas as every chliché plot has either already been used or is on tap for later in the season. Hero and villain swap bodies. Check. Heroes get shrunk. Check. Heroes swap powers. Check. I am just waiting for "Heroes turn into babies." Only a handful of episodes have aired, but things look grim for the Four, which is too bad as a slew up upcoming guest heroes may have improved the show.

DC comics debuted their new show on the Kids WB (on the CW). The Legion of Superheroes features a young Superman in the future fighting side by side with such legionares as Saturn Girl, Bouncing Boy, and Lightning Lad. Notice I said nothing of Superboy. Apparently Superboy is a different copyright that Superman, and DC lost a lawsuit recently which gives the owners of Superboy a bunch of green whenever Superboy is used (maybe I should copyright Batboy). I think its stupid that Superboy and "young" Superman are different from a legal point of view, but anyways, the show is OK so far. It trying to be in the vein of the lighter Teen Titans style, but I haven't been won over yet. The series has promise, and a huge cast of heroes to draw from and also new creative reimaginings of many clasic Superman foes. So, I will keep with it for a while longer.

Perhaps the biggest surprise of the year was the new NBC drama Heroes. When I first heard of the show, I thought that it was a little late to be cashing in on the Superhero genre, and expected this show to be rubbish. I was very wrong. The show has been able to be engaging and grounded with soe gore and cool characters - some of which even have fairly original powers. The show is a lot like an Unbreakable Tv series, but also has some fun elements. Season 1 has focused on capturing a serial killer named Sylar that steals heroes' brains in order to acquire their abilities, as well as stopping a bomb from going off in New York City. Its been a realy good show thus far, one of my new favorites. As for the heroes, there are Hiro, a geeky Japanes sci-fi fan who can bend the space time continuum, Peter, a male nurse (murse) who can mimic any other heroes powers, Nathan, a sleezy politician that like R Kelly, believes he can fly, Claire an indestructable cheerleader with a knack for getting in nasty accidents, Niki/Jessica a split personality mom with Hulk-like tendancies, DL aka male Shadowcat and Niki's husband, Micah the son of Niki and DL who can fix broken phones, Eden a woman with a mighty power of persuasion, The slient Haitian who has the ability to let everyone know his country of origin without saying a word, he can also erase memories and mute others' powers, Matt a dyslexic cop that can read minds, Isaac who can paint the future... when stoned, and a Mohinder a powerless Indian geneticist. Heroes is surely the crown jewel of 2006 and a must see for anyone reading this column.

Proving more is not necessarily better, 2006 gave us MORE. Still, there were plenty of good projects this year and even a couple of great ones.

Previous Retrospectives

Behold, Shrek the Third's Trailer is Here

I sorta fell like I have been Shreked out. This franchise has been funny, buy really, how long can it last? The good news is, there was a couple things in this preview that made me chuckle including Pinocchio's truth telling, so maybe there is a still a little proverbial gas in the tank. Still, of the 3 "Part-3's" (Spider-Man 3, Pirates 3 and Shrek the Third) all releasing in May, I see the big green ogre poetically coming in "Third". Oh and, 3 3 3 3 3 3.

Check it out:

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Shrek (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Shrek 2 (Widescreen Edition)

14 December 2006

There Be Pirates in These Waters

Updated wuth some Fat Chow

This picture has been floating around for a while, so I thought I might as well post it here. Looks like we are getting either Ninja or Samurai Pirates in part 3. I guess that goes along with Ghost Pirates from part 1 and Fish Pirates from part 2. I for one won't be completely happy until we get Robot Pirates in the inevitable Pirates 4: Plundering the Seas of Time.

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Pirates of the Caribbean - Dead Man's Chest (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Pirates of the Caribbean - The Curse of the Black Pearl (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

Superheroes on Screen - Once You Go Black...

Another new look at the alien costume.

The 12 Days of Bookmas Countdown - #7


The Earthsea Cycle: The Farthest Shore - The Studio Ghibli film based on this book was the whole reason I began reading the Earthsea novel series, so I was excited to finally get to Volume 3 (Book 2, The Tombs of Atuan is higher on the countdown). These Earthsea books are only loose sequels. The characters reappear, but plot elements are nicely resolved at the end of each part. Ged is again a main character (though Tenar, the protagonist in book 2 is sadly not around); however its is Ged's traveling companion Arren from which the point of view takes place. Ged is an old man now and wiser for the wear and Arren must learn from him. This book is similar in many ways to the first book, with plenty of questing and sailing around to the various islands of Earthsea, only this book is much better than part 1. The book gives a great look at how the hero Ged could have turned out, if he had chosen the path in life that he began in book 1. While not as good as part 2, I will eventually be continuing in this series with Tehanu which features Ged again as well as Tenar. On a final note, I am glad I started the series at the beginning, I don't think this would have been as good without the background story, though it probably would have still made sense for the most part (so hopefully the film isn't an incoherent mess).

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Countdown So Far

#7 The Earthsea Cycle: The Farthest Shore
#8 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew
#9 - The Earthsea Cycle: A Wizard of Earthsea
#10 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
#11 - The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
#12 - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

Superheroes on Screen - Dogs Can Be Heroes Too

I sure hope this is better than Garfield

DVD Peddlers Are Trying to Make a Monkey Out of Me

ANOTHER UPDATE: The 4-disc Narnia treatment on DVD has arrived in the form of an alleged "Extended Edition." DON'T BE FOOLED. While I have not seen this version for myself, this excerpt from the DVD review from the reputable Disney themed site UltimateDisney.com is quite telling:

It's an understatement to say that the differences between the two are minor. There are no whole scenes added and the overwhelming majority of the theatrical cut remains untouched. Most of the extensions are of scenery or of characters walking. The more remarkable but less necessary inclusions are found in the end battle, largely of the weird bat-like creatures and their airborne competitors. There is next to nothing in the way of new dialogue; in fact, there is not a single substantial addition of speech.

Not surprising, but still disappointing that Disney feels like it has to go for that extra Christmas time dip. Oh, and be on the lookout for a 3rd DVD release of Pirates 2 next year, possibly an extended version to coincide with a Pirates Trilogy Box set. Word has it some deleted scenes were held back from the original and special edition releases to pad the extras next year. Now that behavior deserves a "YAR!"

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The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Four-Disc Extended Edition)

The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Special Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

The Chronicles of Narnia - The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe (Widescreen Edition)

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.

13 December 2006

The 12 Days of Bookmas Countdown - #8


The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew - Long before the Star Wars prequels, Clive Staples Lewis was writing back stories for his big hit Narnia saga. This book was interesting in that it explains the origin of the White Witch, the lamppost the wardrobe and even Narnia itself. These back stories are well told and more importantly, worth telling, and it was all done without the help of a Jar Jar Binks (meesa stinky winky). It was a pretty good story, better than I remembered, and I hope that they are able to make all of the Narnia books into films eventually. This one would probably be last though as its human characters, for the most part, are unique to this book (or at least much younger than Wardrobe counterparts). Like Prince Caspian though, this book lacks the "big battle" sequence, not that I am complaining, but the movie makers may wish to find a way to up the action. In recent years, this has been numbered as the first book in the Narnia series, but Magicians Nephew is better as a follow-up to Wardrobe than as an introduction or even a stand-alone book. In other words, read Wardrobe first.

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Countdown So Far

#8 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Magician's Nephew
#9 - The Earthsea Cycle: A Wizard of Earthsea
#10 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
#11 - The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
#12 - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

12 December 2006

Ink Blots XLII - The Wonderful World of Puss 'n Boots

Pero, the ironically named titular "Puss" not only wears boots but a whole musketeers ensemble. As the film begins, Pero is sentenced to death by the cat folk for refusing to eat a mouse (he likes to favor the underdog... or in this case undermouse). Of course, Pero escapes, but throughout his adventure, he is pursued by three sword-toting dim-witted cat cops. Pero meets up with the young fair skinned pauper Pierre. Pero, being a cunning cat, devises a plan to get the Princess of the land, Princess Rose, to fall in love with and marry Pierre. Unfortunately, the ogre Lucifer also wants the hand of Princess Rose (so why is it that dastardly villains always have such a desire to enter into the holy bonds of matrimony). Its Pierre and Pero to the rescue along with a gaggle of mice that Pero has befriended.

Produced in 1969 Japan, this early anime is probably best known for its key animator, Hayao Miyazaki. The film has a nice old school animation style full of simple shapes and vibrant colors. Highlights include the character of the Ogre who uses a magical skull medallion to transform and use magic. Also, the brave mice that accompany Pero are comical. As for the cat, he's fairly charming, and his skillful deceptions prove that he is a clever little scamp.

Prior to seeing this film, I did not have much exposure to the character of Puss 'n Boots other than the comical version in Shrek 2. I knew he was an ogre slayer and that he wore boots, but I have no idea how faithful this story is to the original, or how much it deviates. I don't even know if Puss's name is really Pero in the original story, but whoever thought of that is a genius. So, did I like this film? It was entertaining, and not without its charm, but neither did it blow me away. The dated look and forgettable tunes are more nostalgic than great, but film still has class (as the infamous "pop culture reference" in animated films had not even been thought up yet) and a timelessness. For that Pero the Cat and his boots walk away with a B.

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11 December 2006

The 12 Days of Bookmas Countdown - #9


The Earthsea Cycle: A Wizard of Earthsea - A lot of times, when I hear about a movie I want to see, I rush to read the book first. Well, I heard that Studio Ghibli was making an animated Tales of Earthsea based on the third book in this series. Little did I realize it wouldn't be released in the US until 2009. Anyways, this first book is fair. Its a typical story of a young man discovering he is special and growing into a man. What is different is that in this story, the hero makes some major mistakes along his path. Its a little slow but has a cool ending. Overall, I liked it well enough to continue on in the series.

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Countdown So Far

#9 - The Earthsea Cycle: A Wizard of Earthsea
#10 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
#11 - The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
#12 - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe

10 December 2006

The 12 Days of Bookmas Countdown - #10


Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone - I have read the first 4 Potter books at least a couple times each. After reading the Half Blood Prince, I wanted to look for clues in Potters past. Call me a horcrux hunter. Of the Potter books, this one is my second to least favorite, with Chamber being my leastest fav. There is too much quiddich in here, but the main fault of the book is that it is just not as good as the incredible books that follow. It sets everything up nicely, but I also have seen the movie far too many times to really get into this one too much anymore. I do have to admit though, that the first time I read this book, I totally though Snape was the bad guy. But being as this was a repeat read, I just didn't enjoy it as much as I did the books I read for the first time. Besides, I didn't find any horcruxes.

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Countdown So Far

#10 - Harry Potter and the Sorcerers Stone
#11 - The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian
#12 - The Restaurant at the End of the Universe