06 January 2007

The Many Foes of Spider-Man - Man-Wolf

Don't call him a wolf-man, he's Man-Wolf

John Jameson is the son of J. Jonah Jameson, publisher of the Daily Bugle. Initially an astronaut, he was first seen being saved by Spider-Man when his craft malfunctioned on re-entry, something that did nothing to endear the wall-crawler to his father.

On a later mission, Jameson was infected with a virus that gave him super-strength, but strained his body and mind. He was forced to wear a strength-restraining "Jupiter suit" and battled Spider-Man at his father's urging before recovering.

Still later, Jameson became possessed by an other-dimensional ruby which he found on the moon. The jewel transformed him into the lycanthropic Man-Wolf, and he fought Spider-Man in this beastial form. The ruby was removed by Spider-Man.

The ruby was later reattached onto John by Morbius the Living Vampire who used Man-Wolf as a pawn so Morbius can find a cure for himself...which is thwarted by Spider-Man.

Later, he was transported to the Other Realm, from which the ruby originated. It was revealed that the ruby was created by the dying Stargod to pass on his powers. While on earth Jameson could only partially transform, resulting his berserk behavior. While in the Other Realm he could fully transform, resulting in him retaining his human consciousness while in lupine form. He took up the mantle of Stargod, and gained new powers such as telepathy and energy manipulation. He fought his foes with a shortsword, dagger, and longbow in this incarnation. He later opted to return to earth, resulting him losing the ability to fully transform, and the loss of all memories of being the Stargod. He later allowed himself to be subjected to a procedure that removed the ruby, restoring normalcy for some time. Despite this, he remains friends with Spider-Man and often tries to convince his father to "let up on him."



Villain Profiles:

the Beetle
Black Cat
Boomerang
Calypso
Carnage
the Chameleon
Demogoblin
Doctor Octopus
Doppelganger
Electro
the Green Goblin
Hammerhead
Hobgoblin
Hydro-Man
J. Jonah Jameson
Jack O' Lantern
Jackal
Kangaroo
the Kingpin
Kraven the Hunter
the Lizard
Man-Wolf

Spider-Man 3 debuts in 118 days!

05 January 2007

Next Up From Miyazaki - I Lost My Little Boy

According to Animation Magazine, Hayao Miyazaki's next project will be based on a Chinese book titled I Lost My Little Boy (Wo Diushile Wode Xiaonanhai). The book is about the amazing adventures of a young boy with heart disease.


I really don't know what to say. After Princess Mononoke, Spirited Away, and Howl's Moving Castle, this is a bit of a letdown, but maybe if I knew more about this "little boy" book, I would be more excited. After all, a one sentence description of Spirited Away (a girls adventures in a bathhouse for spirits) sounds sorta lame too.




Miyazaki 3 Pack (Spirited Away/Castle in the Sky/Kiki's Delivery Service)



Howl's Moving Castle




Princess Mononoke

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 1999

Its time to party like its 1999.

1999__________________


'99 wasn't a very prolific year in the arena of superhero films. The solo entry was the Ben Stiller comedy Mystery Men. The studio took a hit on this one, earning back only $30 million of the $68 million budget. Its a real shame too because Mystery Men is a funny show. In the film, a rag tag group of friends form a super team to battle the evil and hilarious Casanova Frankenstein when the city's superhero (endorsed by Pepsi) goes missing. Ben Stiller plays Mr. Furious, his power is that he gets furious. Hank Azaria aka Moe from the Simpsons plays The Blue Raja. He doesn't wear blue, but he throws forks. My personal favorite, The Shoveler, played by William H Macy basically just "shovels very well" and fights with a shovel. These three are joined by Janeane Garofalo' Bowler, Paul Reubens as The Spleen, and Kel Mitchel as the Invisible Boy (who can only turn invisible when no one is watching). It is silly, but also very funny. Its a shame it didn't do better, especially in a year so devoid of superheroe films.



A couple of animated TV shows also got their start in '99. The first was Batman Beyond. The show is set 40 years in the future with a new young Batman taking over after Bruce Wayne has retired. The show could have been terrible with too much emphasis on a "teen Batman" but truthfully this show was dark and stylistic. Also, the show really earned the viewers respect by growing Terry McGinnis into his role as Batman. By the sries end, he wasn't a Batman imposter, he was Batman. This series was a semi-sequel to Batman: The Animated Series, and some of old Batsy's enemies reared their ugly heads in this new series including Mr Freeze, and the Joker. The future Justice League also made a showing featuring an old, but spry Superman. This show ran 3 seasons and didn't get a fitting finale until the second season episode of Justice League Unlimited titled Epilogue. In that episode, it was revealed that Terry McGinnis was actually... sorry, its too good to spoil here.




While Batman Beyond took a gamble that paid off, Spider-Man Unlimited tried to mix things up with horrible results. Spider-Man enters an alternate reality (follwed by Venom and Carnage of course) where Beastials rule and humans drool. Yeah, um... This show got demolished in the rating by Pokémon, and only lasted a few episodes.




So, 1999 wasn't a poster year for Superheroes, but it wasn't a complete waste neither.

Previous Retrospectives
2006 2005 2004 2003 2002 2001 2000



Mystery Men




Batman Beyond - The Complete First Season (DC Comics Classic Collection)




Batman Beyond - Return of the Joker (The Original Uncut Version)

04 January 2007

Radar Blips - Caravan of Courage: An Ewok Adventure

The Year: 1984

The Players: Warwick Davis as Wicket, and a couple annoying kids

The Take: Only released theatrically overseas. In the US, it was a Sunday night TV movie

What's an Ewok: C'mon, everyone knows what an Ewok is right? Its sort of a half-man half teddy bear. Much more cuddly than the man-sized Wookies.

Why you should see it: Really, the main reason to see this film is to get that nostalgic Ewok feeling. The movie is pretty so-so, but them Ewoks are so cuddly. There isn't much here that would even identify the world as part of Star Wars (aside from the Ewoks and stop-motion effects) but it is still a fun little adventure. If nothing else, it will make you even more happy there was never a "Gungun Adventure" movie.

Watch the trailer here (sorry, i couldn't find an embeddable clip)


Star Wars Ewok Adventures - Caravan of Courage (aka The Ewok Adventure) / The Battle for Endor

03 January 2007

Bond Box Office Through the Years

Due to popular demand, and thanks to the good data at BoxOfficeMojo.com I have generated this chart comparing Domestic Box Office (in Millions of $) of all the Bond Movies. It is not adjusted for inflation, but feel free to do those adjustments at your leisure. Also, since Casino Royale is still going strong, it looks like a lock to become the #1 earner in gross domestic box office (it has already claimed the all time #1 spot worldwide).

The Orange bars represent unofficial Bond Films. The original Casino Royale was a spoof with Peter Sellers and Woody Allen. Never Say Never Again was a Thunderball remake starring an aged Sean Connery.

Also make sure to check out the charts of strict Theater Attendance.




Casino Royale (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)






James Bond Ultimate Editions

02 January 2007

My Top 10 Anticipated Films of 2007

I talk about a lot of movies here but I am finally taking a stand to list which ones I am most looking forward to this year. Let me know if you disagree, or what SHOULD be on my list.

10) Pirates of the Caribbean: At Worlds End - I think I liked part 2 better than a lot of people I talk to, but I don't know if I am up for another 3 hour pirate quest so soon. Still I do want to see how it all turns out.



9) Ghost Rider - I am a sucker for superhero films. I rush to see them all (except Catwoman which I still have not seen). I get particularly excited when one of the books I read as a kid comes to the big screen. I don't expect this one to make a lot of money, but I think the trailers have been great.




8) Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - I am a big fan of the Potter series, but what I really want to see is the 6th book on film. Book 5 was not my favorite, but perhaps the film can trim the fat. The last 2 have just been so good, I hope this one doesn't disappoint.




7) His Dark Materials: The Golden Compass - Could this be the next big fantasy trilogy in the making. Its got a strong cast with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman, and the book offers an intersting take on fantasy. Besides, did someone say armour wearing polar bears?




6) Transformers the Movie - The recent trailer bumped this one up for me. Could be sweet or it could be awful. But Michael Bay never skimps on explosions, and thats a good thing.




5) Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer - I know the last one was subpar, but I still actually liked it pretty well for what it was. Adding the Silver Surfer to the mix was a brilliant move. So far, this one looks very promising. I am hoping this one outdoes the first like X2 upped the ante after the lukewarm X-Men.




4) The Bourne Ultimatum - These movies have been so good. I love James Bond, but the Bourne movies are so much more grounded. You really believe this guy is invincible. I expect plenty more shaky cam goodness and another great car chase.




3) Ratatouille - I love Director Brad Bird's Iron Giant and Incredibles movies. I am not completely sold on a movie about rats in a French restuarant, but Pixar hasn't let me down yet.




2) Stardust - My favorite book I read last year looks like it could be the next cult classic. A new Princess Bride if you will. I am keeping my fingers crossed on this one.




1) Spider-Man 3 - With the alien costume alone I was excited, but seeing Venom and the Sandman is gonna rock. The first 2 were great, and for a Spidey fan like me, I just know I am going to love this film.



Ink Blots XLV - The Hobbit

A new year, and a new monthly theme. Its Talking Dragons Month

You may not have heard, but there is a new movie trilogy based on JRR Tolkein's Lord of the Rings series. Of course, I jest. If you haven't seen these movies, then I am surprised you even have access to the internet, so I will assume that anyone reading this has at least heard of the movies. Back in 1977 (in the age of the other big trilogy) there was no way one could enter Middle Earth, but through the written page. That was, until The Hobbit was produced as a 77 minute animated television special.

This is probably one of the most famous Rankin Bass projects along with the stop-motion Christmas Special Rudolph, the Red-Nosed Reindeer, and the TV series Thundercats (They also created one of my favorites, The Last Unicorn). The animation style is very typical of their efforts, and is probably suited to this story as it is much more family freindly and light hearted than the Lord of the Rings. The show was a hit. In 1978, Ralph Baksi's theatrical The Lord of the Rings animated film was released with a darker style and less critical acclaim. That film told the first half of the Lord of the Rings saga, but a second follow up film was never made. Instead, Rankin and Bass were again hired to adapt the Return of the King for a TV special. Return of the King finishes the saga (though it doesn't fill in all the gaps) back in the same style as The Hobbit, with fun animation and catchy songs. But I will leave the details of these projects for another day.

The Hobbit remains fairly faithful to the book on which it is based, but of course not eveything could be squeezed in (if Peter Jackson adapted the book, it would probably be 3 and half hours long). Given only 77 minutes there has to be some stuff missing. Still, The Hobbit hits all of the high points. One of my complaints is the odd depiction of the green Mirkwood elves. Orlando Bloom, they are not, nor so they even look like the elf Elrond. Anyhow, what really stands out in the film are the songs. Glenn Yarbrough sings a number of musical numbers, and though he sounds sort of like a man/sheep hybrid as he "baas" the words, the songs are received fondly especially the main theme, The Greatest Adventure and The Roads Go Ever On.

Highlights of the film include the riddles in the dark exchanged between Bilbo Baggins and the froglike "precious loving" Gollum, some nasty spiders, Bilbo's showdown with the cat-faced Smaug the Dragon, and the Battle of the five armies. It is also fun to see where Bilbo gets Sting his sword, his mithril armor, and of course the ring. That Bilbo is a cunning little bugger! Overall, as an adaptation, the film is pretty good, though it does feel a bit episodic, but Bilbo the burglar burgles a B+ for The Hobbit.




The Hobbit

01 January 2007

Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron - Trailer

Here it is, the first trailer for Hellboy Animated: Blood and Iron, the DTV follow up to the animated Hellboy: Sword of Storms which debuted on Cartoon Network last October, and was reviewed by me here.


Bond Attendance Through the Years

ANOTHER UPDATE*

(*I have just added a new story with the domestic box office figures for your added pleasure)



I ran across this nifty chart that shows the worldwide attendance of James Bond films over the years (By the way, the units appear to be in millions of theater attendees). Turns out Thunderball is the all-time most popular and Licence to Kill the least popular (among official Bond movies). I am not sure why The Man with the Golden Gun had such a poor showing. Its also clear that no one has matched the draw of OG Sean Connery.

The orange bars represent the two unofficial films. The original Casino Royale was a spoof with Peter Sellers and Woody Allen. Never Say Never Again was a Thunderball remake starring an aged Sean Connery.



UPDATE: Here is the US only attendance. Again, units are in millions of theater attendees.


Casino Royale (Widescreen Two-Disc Special Edition)





James Bond Ultimate Editions