30 December 2006

The Many Foes of Spider-Man - the Lizard

You can't be a superhero without a reptilian nemesis. Spider-Man's got the Lizard

Doctor Curt Connors was a gifted surgeon who enlisted in the military and was sent off to war. His right arm was injured in a blast and had to be amputated. After his return to civilian life, he became obsessed with uncovering the secrets of reptilian limb regeneration and studied reptilian biology extensively. From his home in the Florida Everglades, he finally developed an experimental serum taken from reptilian DNA. He successfully regrew the missing limb of a rabbit and then, despite the warnings of his wife Martha, chose to test it on himself. Connors ingested it and his missing arm did indeed grow back. Unfortunately, it had a horrible side effect; Connors was subsequently transformed into a reptilian humanoid monster! Spider-Man discovered this situation during a trip to Florida to investigate newspaper reports of the Lizard. Spidey was then able to use Connors' notes to create an antidote to restore him to his human form and mentality.

Later, Curt Connors relocated to New York City and was able to repay Spider-Man by developing a formula to save May Parker's life after Peter Parker had given his aunt his radioactive blood during a transfusion that had put her in mortal peril. It later became clear that the success of Connors' apparent cure from the Lizard persona was short-lived. A repeating pattern occurred, with stress or a chemical reaction turning Connors into the Lizard, Spider-Man fighting him and then forming some kind of temporary cure to revert the transformation until the next time. A second personality had formed with the Lizard, one with the familiar goal shared by many villains of taking over the world. The Lizard envisioned a world where all humans had been transformed into (or replaced by) super-reptiles like himself.

For a time, Peter Parker worked as a teaching assistant to Dr. Connors at Empire State University, although Connors had no idea that Peter was actually Spider-Man. Connors' wife took their son Billy and separated from Curt after his absence during the Lizard's involvement in the Secret Wars battles. Connors then tried to straighten out his life and control the Lizard, with some degree of success. This ended when the villainess Calypso used her voodoo magic to take control of the Lizard for her own purposes, reducing him to a mindless savage state. After a series of bloody battles, the Lizard and Calypso were defeated by Spider-Man. Connors once again gained control of the Lizard's mind and body, although it was very weak control. Curt carried out a plan to cure himself temporarily, after which he voluntarily submitted to incarceration in the supervillain prison, the Vault. When Calypso forced the transformation and attempted to control the Lizard once again, the creature killed her and escaped from the Vault. After this escape, the Lizard fell into a quicksand pit during a battle with Spider-Man and the bounty hunter Warrant and was believed to have died.

Although reunited after his apparent death, tragedy later struck again in the Connors family - this time, for Martha and Billy. Both mother and son were diagnosed with cancer after years exposed to carcinogens from living near an industrial lab of the Monnano Corporation in Florida. Spider-Man assisted Curt, and successfully forced Monnano to admit their environmental culpability. However, Martha succumbed to the cancer and died. Billy survived, and remained bitter towards his father. Curt's guilt and internalized anger at these events eventually led him to become the Lizard and attack Spider-Man once again. After reverting back to human, Curt purposefully attempted bank robbery so he would be sent to prison. Curt's stint in prison was short-lived, as he was released and transformed into the Lizard once again as part of a scheme by Norman Osborn, AKA the Green Goblin, to form a "Sinister Twelve" group of villains to kill Spider-Man. The Sinister Twelve was defeated and captured by the combined forces of the Fantastic Four and certain members of the Avengers.

More recently, the Lizard has resurfaced to face Spider-Man with the aid of a pint-sized "twin" of himself, who was revealed to be none other than his son, Billy. Curt had injected Billy with the Lizard formula while under the influence of a mysterious meteorite that caused savage behavior in those within range of its radiation. Both the Lizard and "Lizard Junior" were eventually captured and transformed back to human, but the future effects of the Lizard formula on Billy Connors remain to be seen.

Villain Profiles:

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

Spider-Man 3 debuts in 125 days!

Indiana Jones and the Padded Retirement Fund

There will be another adventure for Indiana Jones. As much as this rings of an cashing in with an unnecessary sequel, how could you not be excited? 2008 is gonna be great.

From ComingSoon.net:

George Lucas said Friday that filming of the long-awaited Indiana Jones 4 will begin next year with Harrison Ford set to star again.

Lucas said he and Steven Spielberg recently finalized the script for the film.
"It's going to be fantastic. It's going to be the best one yet," the 62-year-old filmmaker said during a break from preparing for his duties as grand marshal of Monday's Rose Parade. Exact film locations have not been decided yet, but Lucas said part of the movie will be shot in Los Angeles.

The fourth chapter of the "Indiana Jones" saga, which will hit theaters in May 2008, has been in development for over a decade with several screenwriters taking a crack at the script, but it only recently gained momentum.

Lucas kept mum about the plot, but said that the latest action flick will be a "character piece" that will include "very interesting mysteries." "I think it's going to be really cool," Lucas said.

At the inaugural Rome Film Festival in October, the 64-year-old Ford said he was excited to team up with Lucas and Spielberg again for the fourth "Indiana Jones" installment. Ford said he was "fit to continue" to play the title role despite his age.
Ford played Indiana Jones in 1981's Raiders of the Lost Ark, 1984's Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom and 1989's Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade.

28 December 2006

Radar Blips - The Abyss

The Year: 1989 (August). The final entry in an unofficial underwater movie trilogy that year including January's Deepstar Six and March's Leviathan

The Players: Directed by James Cameron (Aliens, Titanic), starring Ed Harris and Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio, and some waterlogged rats.

The Take: $54 million

What's an abyss: A big crack in the ocean floor that delves deeper than man can explore without imploding. This particular abyss has something mysterious at the bottom.

Why you should see it: James Cameron creates a tension and claustrophobic mood that began to literally drive the movie cast crazy. This is probably the best underwater film there is, and in addition to watching rats breathe liquid oxygen (this was NOT a special effect, but a scientific reality captured on film), you get to see a woman drown (though not for real). Not least of all, watch it to find out what in that big ocean crack.

The Trailer:

26 December 2006

Flame On - The Fantastic Four Teaser Trailer

The Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer teaser trailer is live and features plenty of Torch and Surfer action.

View it in High Quality


Terrible Quality Here:

Ink Blots XLIV - Cats Don't Dance

In Cats Don't Dance, surprisingly, there are dancing cats. Unfortunately, when the film came out in 1997, not many people saw them. Cats Don't Dance was a product of Turner Entertainment Animation in conjunction with Warner Brothers. Like Warner's other 90's animated products The Iron Giant, and Quest for Camelot, Cats was a flop, earning a dismal $3.5 million.

Danny is a kitty from Kokomo Indiana with big dreams. In 1939, he heads to Hollywood to become a movie star. He lands a role right away in a film called Lil Ark Angel - an adaptation of the Noah's ark story - but his only line is the stereotypical "Meow." Animals in Hollywood are having their dreams dashed left and right as they are never given a chance to shine. You see, in Hollywood, cats don't dance... people do. Danny takes on the Ark Angels' child star Darla Dimple to establish real roles for the animals in Hollywood whose talent is all going to waste.

There are a couple of funny cameos by famous animal stars of the time King Kong and The Wizard of Oz's Toto. In fact, there are quite a few funny bits in the film. The sinister character of Darla Dimple was a lot of fun, and while she was probably inspired (at least in look) by Shirley Temple, she reminded me a lot of the villain Baby Doll from Batman: The Animated Series.

Danny is voiced by Scott Bakula and the female cat, Sawyer, is lent the vocal talents of Natalie Cole who does well with the 30's style musical songs. The animation style, reminiscent of Warner's old Loony Tunes animation, brings a classic feel to this relatively new and brightly colored film. I really see no reason for this film to have done as poorly as it did. It is a nice little movie that most people would enjoy. The theme of discrimination in Hollywood comes off as a bit silly as it sort of makes light of the real issue, but I guess its at a good level for kids. In spite of the huge number of cat and dog cartoons out there, this one brings its own sense of innocence and excitement that doesn't reek of corporate tampering. Cats Don't Dance didn't blow me away, but it was much better than a description of the plot would have led me to believe. The film could have benefited from a few more character moments to get me to care more about Danny, but I still enjoyed watching that little fur ball never giving up his dreams. While fans of golden age films like Singin' in the Rain (the film was dedicated to the late Gene Kelly who choreographed some of the musical numbers) would probably adore this film, for me it was worthy of a B+.

25 December 2006

The 12 Days of Bookmas Countdown - #1

Stardust - Once again, inspired by an upcoming fantasy film, I picked up Stardust by Neil Gaiman without knowing what to expect. This book is about several people all trying to capture a fallen star for their own selfish reasons. There is Tritran who got a girl's promise to marry him if he brings her the star, some witches who want the star to give them youth, and some crusty old dudes who want the star to settle their right of succession to their family throne. Though set in a fantastic world, this novel avoids the clichés of all the Lord of the Rings rip-offs and is unique and excellent. This was such a good book, I read it in just a couple of days. The closest thing to it is probably The Princess Bride, but without the Fred Savage cut aways.

Complete Countdown

#1 - Stardust
#2 - The Earthsea Cycle: The Tombs of Atuan
#3 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy
#4 - Ender's Game
#5 - Disney War
#6 - His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass
#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

24 December 2006

Another Prime Pic

Gracing the cover of Empire magazine is our good friend Optimus.

The 12 Days of Bookmas Countdown - #2

The Earthsea Cycle: The Tombs of Atuan - Now this was a good book. Though Ged was the main character in A Wizard of Earthsea, he is just a secondary character here. This book is about Tenar, a young woman that governs the labyrinth of tombs which Ged attempts to rob. Tenar and Ged develop a friendship and Tenar must struggle with accepting her role in the world or trusting an outsider. Getting through the first Earthsea book was totally made worthwhile by this compelling follow-up.

Countdown So Far

#2 - The Earthsea Cycle: The Tombs of Atuan
#3 - The Chronicles of Narnia: The Horse and His Boy
#4 - Ender's Game
#5 - Disney War
#6 - His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass
#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