05 May 2007

Biggest Day Ever for Spider-Man 3

Spidey has broken the record for the biggest single day take ever. $59 million is in the tank for Friday (including midnight showings), and records aplenty remain to be broken.

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Ra's al Ghul

Welcome to the new weekly look at the friends and foes of the Batman. For the most part I expect this to follow an alphabetical progression (by last name of course), but you never know. I may mix it up now and then. Anyways, lets get started shall we.

Ra's al Ghul, (رأس الغول in Arabic), is Arabic for "The demon's head." He was created in 1971 in part as a response to the success of James Bond to give Batman a global scale Bondesque foe. Ra's has appeared in Batman: The Animated Series and most recently in Batman Begins where he played a key role in Batman's origin. While his portrayal in Begins was fairly accurate, his immortality was presented as metaphorical rather than literal.

Ra's al Ghul was born five hundred years ago as desert nomad somewhere in Arabia. Ra's was interested in science from an early age and abandoned his tribe to live in the city to conduct scientific research. He became a physician and marries a woman named Sora, the love of his life. Later, Ra's discovered the secret of the life yielding Lazarus Pit, and saved a dying prince by lowering him into it. The prince, who was sadistic to begin with, was driven completely insane by the Lazarus Pit. He strangled Sora on whom he had had his eye for some time. The ruler of the city, unwilling to admit his son's culpability, declared Ra's guilty of the crime and sentenced him to a slow, tortured death in a cage with Sora's corpse. Ra's escaped and returned to his tribe only to lead them to slaughter the prince and his city.

Using the Lazarus Pit to prolong his life, Ra's spent the next 500 years mastering many forms of combat. He also built up vast wealth and created The Demon, a vast international organization of which Ra's was the head.

After Ra's daughter Talia fell in love with Batman, Ra's began to consider Batman as a possible heir in light of his great abilities and skill. Ra's deduced Batman's secret identity when he realized that the Dark Knight had to be rich, and learned that only Bruce Wayne has bought the equipment that a crime fighter would have. Ra's surprised Batman in the Batcave, seemingly to enlist Batman's aid in rescuing both Talia and Robin, both of whom had apparently been kidnapped. Batman soon discovered that the whole affair was a charade orchestrated by Ra's to test Batman, which he passed. Ra's asked that Batman become his heir. Batman refused appalled by his genocidal plan to "cleanse" the world of "corrupt" societies. From that point forward, Ra's al Ghul and Batman were mortal enemies.

Villain Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul

The Dark Knight returns in 440 days!

04 May 2007

Hulk is a No Win with Arwen

Iron Man has been dominating in theslick marketing category. Every press release has held great news, and resultantly, fans are pumped. I had hoped Hulk could do the same thing. Casting of Ed Norton was a pleasant surprise, and today we found out who would be playing Betty Ross. Sadly, the PR roll has ended with the announcement that the weakest link in the near perfect Lord of the Rings saga would be tainting Hulk. None other than Livin on the Edge Liv Tyler has the part. Now I don't want to speak for Ed, but I hope he is getting paid a lot to be practically kissing Stephen Tylers ugly mug. Maybe there was a mix up, and she is actually playing Abomination. I guess that would be OK.

03 May 2007

The Golden Compass Poster Bears All

Not wanting to be left out in the cold (haha), a teaser poster for The Golden Compass has appeared (click to enlarge). This film is sure to be one of this Winter's big ones. Hopefully, The Golden Compass will do more to satisfy our winter itch for fantasy than Eragon was able to muster last year.

For those that do not know, this book is set in a parallel Earth were people have little daemon animal companions representing their souls. There is also a mysterious substance called Dust that may hold the answers to the universe. The Golden Compass is the first book in a theological fantasy trilogy known as His Dark Materials that spans several worlds including our own.

So far I have read The Golden Compass AKA Northern Lights (which was good) and The Subtle Knife (which was exceptional) and have yet to read the conclusion, The Amber Spyglass. I am really looking forward to this movie, and with Daniel Craig and Nicole Kidman as well as armored polar bears, it looks like its gonna be good.

Summer 07 Box Office Predictions - Recap

In Part 1, Part 2, and Part 3 I predicted

#9 Evan Almighty - $170,000,000
#8 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - $175,000,000
#7 The Bourne Ultimatum - $185,000,000
#6 Transformers - $205,000,000
#5 Ratatouille - $260,000,000
#4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - $275,000,000
#3 Shrek the Third - $325,000,000
#2 Spider-Man 3 - $380,000,000
#1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - $395,000,000

While these should be the big 9, there a couple other movies coming out that should be worth watching for:

Stardust - 10 Aug 07

As I have mentioned before, I am really looking forward to this film. It hopes to be this generations Princess Bride. This story is about several various people's search to find a fallen star - each for their own selfish purposes. Some of them are more ruthless than others, and they all encounter fantastic obstacles. The story brings these characters together in very interesting ways. Unfortunately, fantasies with a romantic comedy spin have been tough sells. Stardust will likely be a bomb that earns cult status on DVD. I am guessing it will top off at $45 million.

The Simpsons Movie - 27 July 07

This is a tough one to call. On one hand, everyone knows the Simpsons, and most have fond memories of the little yellow bastards. On the other hand, the show has been in a decline over the last several years. The question arises, Why would I pay to see a long episode of a show that has 400 free episodes on TV at my disposal. I just don't know if the movie will bring anything special to the table... though apparently is is going to offer a full frontal of Bart. If this movie can come off as more than a tired rehash, it has a chance at $100 million.

Radar Blips - Eragon

The Year: 2006

The Players: Jeremy Irons as OB-Clone and John Malkovich as the Evil Emperor

The Take: $75 million (but nearly $250 mil worldwide)

Do you mean "D"ragon?: Actually, by changing a single letter of Dragon, you get the hero's name Eragon... clever.

Why you should see it: The previews made this look like a Lord of the Rings rip-off, but it is actually much more of a Star Wars ripoff. Still, if you liked those other films, this is your designer impostor version. There is good action, especially in the final dragon battle sequence. Overall, the effects and flying are good, even though the dragon design is a bit odd (I am not a fan of a feathered dragon). The film wasn't cheap, and even though they butchered the book it was based on, there is still a fairly kid friendly but fun adventure left. Hopefully, worldwide gross and DVD sales will earn Eragon a sequel based on the book Eldest.

Eragon (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Eragon/Eldest Trade Paperback Boxed Set

02 May 2007

Iron Man Exposed

So far, the news from the Iron Man camp has been perfect. From casting to designs, I have gone from little interest to pretty excited about this film. Iron Man may actually stand out in the crowded superhero film genre. Today, Entertainment Weekly has unveiled the final Armor from the film. I wish I had a set.

Iron Man is the latest Marvel Comics superhero to jump from splash page to big screen. (The film is due May 2008.) Director Jon Favreau (Elf ) began shooting in March with star Robert Downey Jr. — in his first comic-book role — as the man inside the cybernetic Mark III suit (pictured) and Gwyneth Paltrow as his trusted assistant. In the film, Downey plays Tony Stark, a playboy industrialist who decides to don high-tech armor to fight baddies after suffering a life-threatening heart injury in war-torn Afghanistan. ''This is a decidedly adult superhero story,'' says Favreau. (Fanboy FYI: Look for Stark's legendary drinking problem to pop up in possible sequels.)

Faithful to the comics and constructed by Oscar-winning F/X maestro Stan Winston, the Iron Man togs — a far cry from Stark's normal black-tie attire — are robo-cool but make for restrictive, sweaty duds. ''Robert was very bullish on wearing the suit whenever possible,'' says Favreau of his star, who bulked up for the role. ''Now I don't know if he's such a fan of that idea.''

New on Tap - Flatland

Flatland: The Movie is an animated entry coming out this June. Can anyone tell me what in the world this is all about? I kept expecting to see Donald Duck in the trailer.

01 May 2007

I'm a Marvel and I'm a DC

Thanks to J for alerting me to these parodies of the old Mac vs PC ads at slashfilm.com. These are pretty spot on in their criticisms. I also threw in another Mac and PC parody just for kicks comparing the Nintendo Wii and PS3. For the record, I hope this Mac vs PC fad ends soon. Its becoming the new "Got Milk" copycat campaign.

The Superman and The Flash Meet The Batman

The Batman Saturday morning cartoon has followed a natural progression over its first 4 seasons. In season 1, Batman had just finished busting the non-costumed criminals in Gotham. Escalation ensued and Batman had WAY too many run ins with The Jokers and The Penguin. In season 2, The Batman got himself a partner in The Gotham PD. Many of the baddies also teamed up with the hope of besting the bat - The Firefly and The Mr. Freeze, The Catwoman and The Penguin, The Penguin and The Man-Bat all cam up short. At the end of the season The Gordon showed up and Gotham PD decided to stop hunting The Batman and to work with him. Season 3 introduced The Batgirl as a sidekick who had WAY too many run ins with The Joker. Then season 4 introduced another partner for Bats - The Robin. Season 4 ended with The Martian Manhunter of all people teaming up with Batman. (Also there was a great DTV The Batman vs Dracula that took the show to a dark and fun level, though The Joker AND The Penguin were also present) So where does season 5 go from here? Its time to form The Justice League with The Flash and The Superman among others.

I have mixed feeling about this. There was an excelent Justice League series that was only just cancelled. WHY? That show was awesome and its lame if it got canned just to do another The League here. Also, this show is called The Batman. So I hope he still gets some moments to shine on his own. Having said that, it will be fun to see all our super friends again. Maybe the show will spin off into a new show for season 6. If Pokemon can have 500 episodes (not an exaggeration) why can't bats get up to 100?

Ink Blots LXII - Flushed Away

Tis a nice month to feature Cheese Eaters.

Flushed Away was a bit of a disappointment for Dreamworks animation in 2006. Let me clarify though. In spite of what the poster says this was not from the creators of Shrek or Madagascar. Dreamworks distributed it, but it was made by Aardman animation, makers of Chicken Run and Wallace and Gromit. Budgeted at a huge $149 million, this film mustered just $64 million. Wallace and Gromit had also generated subpar numbers the year before, and Dreamworks decided to bid adieu to their partnership with Aardman. As long as Aardman can still finance films, they may be better off creatively, its just a shame that American audiences haven't been more receptive to this cheeky British humor.

Flushed Away is a bit of an oddity. I suppose the reason it cost so much us that the studio had to develop CG tools for the film as they had traditionally used just clay animation. The decision to go 100% computer animated was explained as better fitting the watery theme of the film, but still, it seems odd to go so far away from your successful tradition. I have to say though, the computer did a marvelous job at replicating the clay effect, and was probably much less of a painstaking task to animate. Still, it would be a shame if Aardman abondoned clay in the future.

The film involves some rats in the London sewer and an evil Toad that is trying to get them. The general plot of the film is actually sort of straight forward and predictable, but a couple of things bring the film quality up a bit. First, the film is peppered with scenes of singing sewer slugs. These guys steal every scene they are in, and its too bad we didn't get more of them. Another scene I really enjoyed involved a frog mime and a cell phone. Quite funny. There were also a couple of clever references to Wolverine and Han Solo for the observant, but in all, this movie could have been funnier and less manic. The action is just going, going, going, and a little too crazy. Flushed Away is a good film that deserved a bigger audience, but with all the films released in 2006, it got overshadowed. While not quite classic, Flushed still gets a B.

Flushed Away (Widescreen Edition)

UPDATE: Get a Rise Out of the F42 Trailer

Behold the majestic preview HERE

Or just watch the YOUTUBE version here.

30 April 2007

Summer 07 Box Office Predictions - Part 3

In Part 1 and Part 2 I predicted

#9 Evan Almighty - $170,000,000
#8 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - $175,000,000
#7 The Bourne Ultimatum - $185,000,000
#6 Transformers - $205,000,000
#5 Ratatouille - $260,000,000
#4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - $275,000,000

Now, its time for the top 3 and the big May smackdown.

#3 Shrek the Third - 18 MAY 07

A lot has changed since Shrek 2 mustered $441 million 3 years ago. Back then, computer animated films were still special. Not so anymore in today's overcrowded market. Also, I think people are getting a little Shreked out. But kids will still want to see this movie and its still going to be big, just not quite as big as last time around. Dreamworks Animation's flagship should still bring in an ogre sized $325,000,000.

#2 Spider-Man 3 - 04 MAY 07

Even without Venom, I would be jazzed just to see the black costume on screen. With Venom AND Sandman, I can hardly contain my excitement. Also, opening the Summer uncontested for 2 weeks gives Spidey a running start. Part 1 made $403 million and part 2 $374 million. I think part 3 is due for a slight improvement over 2 on its way to $380,000,000.

#1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - 25 MAY 07

As long as this film gets finished before it is released, it stands a good chance of ruling the summer. Part 1 (Curse of the Black Pearl) made a surprising $305 million. Part 2 (Dead Man's Chest) again surprised everyone by making $423 million. There is just no way that only a year later Pirates 3 (At World's End) can repeat that performance in a crowded summer. Memorial Day should help though, as should the cliffhanger ending of part 2. I just think that the 3 hour running time may encourage some to wait for the DVD, and will also put a cap on earning potential. Anyhow, looks like Disney should be number 1 two years in a row with a bounty of $395,000,000.

Shrek (Two-Disc Special Edition)

Shrek 2 (Widescreen Edition)

Spider-Man 2 - Unrated, Extended Cut (Two-Disc Deluxe Edition)

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)

29 April 2007

A Little Dose of Venom

The Quiet Before the Box Office Storm

It looks like everyone is saving up their movie bucks for the big summer. Disturbia came out on top with a measly $9 million weekend. The Invisible came in 2nd with $7.6 million, and the Nic Cage sci-fi thriller Next opened 3rd with just $7 million. It will be lucky to make $20 million by the end of its run. What a sad weekend.

Summer 07 Box Office Predictions - Part 2

On we go. In Part 1, I predicted

#9 Evan Almighty - $170,000,000
#8 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - $175,000,000
#7 The Bourne Ultimatum - $185,000,000

And the numbers are only going to get bigger.

#6 Transformers - 04 JUL 07

This looks like its going to rule the July 4th weekend, and it is going to make a lot of grown men cry at finally seeing their childhood imagination realized on the big screen. Optimus, even with flames, shouls be able to bust through the $200 million wall on a road to $205,000,000.

#5 Ratatouille - 29 JUN 07

Pixar has an impressive track record. Cars earned $244 million and was tauted as a disappointment. Ratatouille should only be so lucky to be as disappointing. Actually, I think cute little rats are slightly more appealing to a broader kid crowd than race cars. I expect another hit from Brad Bird and Pixar to the tune of $260,000,000.

#4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - 13 JUL 07

Of the Potter films, the lowest earning to date was The Prisoner of Azkaban, the only other Potter released in the summer. POA earned $250 million, so still pretty good, just not as good as HP1 (Sorcerer's Stone) with $318 million, or even HP4 (Goblet of Fire) with $290 million. The fact that Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows, the 7th and final book is coming out mere days after this film should help boost earnings. This is not my favorite book, but the trailers look pretty impressive, so Phoenix should do about average for the franchise with $275,000,000.

Am I on track, or way out there? Throw your predictions into the ring.

Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Book 7)

The Incredibles (Two-Disc Collector's Edition)

The Transformers - The Movie (20th Anniversary Special Edition)