16 June 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Ace: The Bat-Hound

Ace the Bat-Hound was the costume wearing canine crime-fighting partner of Batman and Robin during the 1950s and 1960s. Ace's creation was likely inspired by the success of Krypto's debut (Superman's canine partner) and by German Shepherd Dogs from detective films and serials, such as Rin Tin Tin and Ace the Wonder Dog. Ace has appeared in the animated shows Batman Beyond and Krypto the Superdog.

Ace was a German Shepherd Dog originally owned by an engraver named John Wilker. He was found by Batman and Robin after his master was kidnapped by a gang of counterfeiters. Batman used Ace to try to locate Wilker. Because he had already placed a large number of "lost dog" announcements for Ace in his civilian identity of Bruce Wayne, he was concerned that anyone recognizing Ace (who had a prominent star-shaped marking on his forehead) might make the connection between Bruce Wayne and Batman. To forestall that problem, he hastily improvised a hood-like mask for the dog that incorporated the bat emblem as a dog tag dangling from Ace's collar. Ace was subsequently christened "The Bat-Hound" by a criminal he helped Batman to apprehend.

Wilker later took a new job that made it difficult for him to take care of Ace, so he left the dog to Bruce Wayne. Wilker was never aware that Ace was the Bat-Hound or that Bruce Wayne was Batman.

Ace disappeared from the Batman comics in the 1960's but a modern-day version of Ace was reintroduced in Batman1991. This new version originally belonged to a Native American shaman and had a distinctive bat-shaped patch on his shoulder. He didn't wear a mask, nor was he referred to as Bat-Hound. The dog at times helped Batman on cases, but eventually disappeared.

Friend and Foe Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul
Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll
Bat-Hound (Ace)

The Dark Knight returns in 398 days!

15 June 2007

Golly its WALL•E

Check out the teaser for the upcoming Pixar film WALL•E at Apple.

Silver's No Gold, But It Still Has a Bit of a Shine

Obviously I am a bit biased. I enjoy practically every superhero film I see (aside from the abysmal Catwoman). The fact that I waste countless hours blogging about superhero films should be a hint at my fanatical viewpoints, so if I don't like a superhero film, you know its bad.

Over the past two days I have beheld both Ghost Rider and Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer and have had 2x the fun. Neither is the next X2 or Batman Begins, but neither is devoid of charm. Ghost Rider's fights were a bit weak, but the Rider himself was awesome. As he swung his chain around and rode his flaming bike up the side of a building, I was grinning like a chesire cat.

As for F4:2, the Silver Surfer was incredible. Even the Morpheus voice wasn't too bad as the guy wasn't very talky. The movie had a number of funny scenes mostly involving the Thing and "John" Storm. It seemed that the teammates each got their scenes in the spotlight. Galactus AKA V'yger was hardly in the movie, and had absolutely no semblance of non-cloud form. Still, his stormyness wasn't too big an issue, and I think the epic F4 story was pretty well adapted. Back also was Dr. von Doom. Of all the problems with the first film, Doom was the main one that didn't get addressed. He was still pretty lame and wussy, though his final fight was cool. The Fantasticar was ok, but also the source of some pretty blatant product placement for Dodge. "Hemi?" "Of Course." Overall, if you hated Fantastic Four, this one is pretty much a cooler version of the same formula, but still has ample portions of corniness. But if you liked parts of the first one, this one has even more to like. As I have said before, the secret to the elusive sequel that is better than the original is setting the bar nice and low. So, in short, I liked it. Its a good solid second tier superhero film sort of on par with the original Teenage Ninja Mutant Turtles or Daredevil.

One last note, at a mere 89 minutes, surely a lot was cut. I am interested to see what makes it onto the inevitable Fantastic Four 2 extended DVD. And the Silver Surfer solo film should be great!

The Jokermobile Popped a Wheel and The Batsuit Still isn't Graaaaaaaaay

Hey, looks like the Bat machine is in full effect. Got a couple of great images here from The Dark Knight. First up, the Jokermobile. I don't know why he has a purple car, it doesn;t seem to fit with his Insane Clown Posse look, but still, I like it.

Of course, the even bigger news (Thanks Tom Saville) is the new and improved Batsuit. I think it looks great, and its got some nice upgrades as well. I am glad the bright yellow oval is still AWOL.

Entertainment Weekly got the scoop and describes the suit as:


HEAD GAMES Ever wonder why movie Batmans rarely turn their horned heads? It's because the cowls of past suits were firmly attached to the neck and shoulders of the costume — necessary to maintain that iconic silhouette and to prevent the actor from moving around inside the mask. The new headpiece — modeled after a motorcycle helmet — is separate from the neck, so star Christian Bale can now swivel his noggin side to side, or nod up and down. ''It was the hardest part of the suit to make,'' says Hemming.

CAPE FEAR Don't bother asking. ''It's top secret,'' says Hemming. Meaning...? ''Let's just say things happen to the cloak.'' Our guess: It's also a picnic blanket!

BLADES OF GLORY The razors on Batman's forearms are actually part of the suit. (His gloves tuck into the sleeves of the suit.) They're retractable, and yep, they're weapons. ''They shoot at people!'' says Hemming with a Jokersesque laugh.

RAW MATERIAL The new suit is made of 200 individual pieces of rubber, fiberglass, and nylon and metallic mesh. Bruce Wayne's work duds now have a stylish texture, suggesting they're made with sophisticated new technology. ''I thought it would make it more interesting to look at and wonder about,'' says Hemming, adding that the stretchy rubber lines also help bind the costume to Bale's body.

Look on My Works Ye Mighty and Despair - Transformers Poster

Rise and Shout, The Surfer is Out!

Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer is here. I am going to try and catch it today, and I will post my thoughts. Every one else, post your thoughts and box office predictions here! I stand by my $175 million (actually, that may end up a bit high) prediction, after a 3 day opening of $68 mil. I just hope the film does well enough to ensure old mirror face gets his own movie.

14 June 2007

The Mummy That Keeps on Giving

The Scorpion King was a spin-off from the Mummy 2 in which the Rock's character's heroic history was explored. How he became a villain / arachnid never really made sense, but lucky us, The Scorpion King 2 is in the works. I actually have enjoyed the Mummy series. They are no Indiana Jones, but they are decent guilty pleasures. Here is the story from shocktillyoudrop.com.

Shock has been tipped off that Resident Evil: Extinction director Russell Mulcahy is moving from the arid locale of one sequel to another: Universal's The Scorpion King 2.

The first film, a prequel to the studio's "Mummy" franchise, opened in 2002 to a $36 million three-day gross - it made a grand total of $91 million domestically by the time it ran its course. Regardless of the reviews it proved to Hollywood that The Rock - who was mostly seen in The Mummy Returns as a CGI'd tail-shakin' baddie - had star power.

Unfortunately, we haven't received any further word regarding the sequel's plot or casting details. A new "King" poses a tremendous opportunity for Universal to tap some serious cross-promotion as Rob Cohen heats up a third "Mummy" chapter.

Mulcahy, an Australian filmmaker, previously helmed Razorback and Highlander. He has dabbled in some mummy lore himself with Talos the Mummy in '98 and, most recently, The Curse of King Tut's Tomb.

Radar Blips - Star Wars Episode III - Revenge of the Sith

The Year: 2005

The Players: Big George Lucas, Ewan McGregor, Hayden Christensen, Natalie Portman, Samuel L. Jackson, Yoda, and Chewie (Raaaaaarrrrrrrrrr)

The Take: $380 Million

Do the Sith their revenge?: I guess so, for what I am not sure, but the Jedi definitely get their tail's whooped.

Why you should see it: After generous helpings of political turmoils and cheesy romance, we got a film full of saber fights. While none match the Maul fight in Episode 1, Yoda vs Palpy, OB vs Ani, and Sam Jax vs Paly are all cool, as is OB vs the coughing cyborg. The film also opens with the best space battle of the prequel saga. Some of the Jedi were too easily disposed of, and this film didn't answer everything (like how did Qui Gon become a ghost), but the movie does present Darth Vader as a really bad dude and completes the masterful Emperor's plan. Also, watching this film can't help but make you want to continue on with Episode IV, the film that started it all.

13 June 2007

Surferman Returns

Looks like if Fantastic Four 2 is a hit, the Silver Surfer will be flying solo in his own film (i just hope he ditches the freaky Lawrence Fishburne voice). Thor is also moving forward. According to Latimes.com:

Feeling bullish on the eve of the release of its "Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer," Fox has already put a feature spinoff into development that will star the enigmatic Surfer, with J. Michael Straczynski currently crafting the screenplay.

Despite lackluster reviews, the first "Fantastic Four" raked in $329 million worldwide, apparently a result of its appeal to younger viewers. So the sequel, which opens Friday with a story by John Turman and Mark Frost and a screenplay by Frost and "Simpsons" writer Don Payne, has skewed its tone even softer. This has resulted in a PG rating, which has provoked a disgusted outcry from fans online who churlishly point out that even Harry Potter is now too gritty for 11-year-olds.

They may have a point, given that this film ostensibly features a Christ-like harbinger of doom like the Surfer and Galactus, a God-like destroyer of worlds whose rep may be a little inflated. Reports from the project's development indicate that the producers kept trying to purge Galactus entirely from early versions of the screenplay.

Well, perhaps the studio has heard the negative static, since it apparently hopes to spin the new Surfer franchise in a darker direction to attract the slightly older demographic of its X-Men films. If so, Straczynski, whose original screenplay "The Changeling" is on director Clint Eastwood's slate, is a logical pick for the Surfer story line.

A longtime writer of television science fiction on "The Twilight Zone" and "Babylon 5," Straczynski has also spent much of the last few years writing for Marvel Comics on properties like "Amazing Spider-Man" and "Thor" (also in development with a Mark Protosevich screenplay and "Layer Cake's" Matthew Vaughn reportedly negotiating to direct). Straczynski recently penned 15 issues of Fantastic Four for Marvel, and the first issue of his "Silver Surfer: Requiem" series just published last month, with three more in the works.

Seems like Straczynski's on the rise too.

Ink Blots LXVIII - Brother Bear

Some people have a knee jerk reaction to any film (especially animated ones) with any sort of environmental or nature friendly message. Well, Bambi has a pretty liberal spin, and its almost universally hailed as a classic... so it is possible to be a good movie and be anti-animal killing. Now that I have established that point, on with the review.

Had Brother Bear come out ten years sooner than its 2003 release, it would have fit in perfectly well with the batch of Disney's 90's new classics. Sure, its not quite a Lion King, but its no Home on the Range or Chicken Little neither. As it was, Brother Bear came out at the tail end on the traditional animation decline. Bear mustered $85 million in the US, and a total of $250 million worldwide, so it really wasn't a bust, but not a blockbuster either.

The story centers around Kenai, an Inuit boy who loves to antagonize bears. His antics get his brother killed, and so Kenai seeks revenge eventually killing the bear who caused him trouble. As a kharmatic result, the spirits turned Kenai into a bear so he could gain a new perspective. A third brother, think the bear had offed two of his brothers vows to kill the bear formed Kenai. In the meantime, Kenai meets up with a hyperactive cub who wants to go to the salmon run which is conveniently near the Aurora Borealis (home of the spirits). I wont spoil the end, but there a couple of profound and interesting developments.

The animation is quite nice here, and a nice touch is the change in aspect ratio corresponding to Kenai's transformation. Also, upon becoming a bear, the animation becomes more vibrant and slightly more "toony." One of the down sides of the film is that it went the Tarzan route of Phil Colinsifying the film rather than just having the characters sing. Phil is ok, but supercharging the film with too much of a "good" thing hurts it a tad. Still, On My Way, Welcome, and Through My Eyes are all pretty good. Unfortunately with so much Phil, the songs tend to blend.

Overall, I was surprised by how much I liked this one. Its got a classic feel to it, and is a bit touching even though it teaches us to be nicer to bears. The "funny moose" are slightly funny, and the animation stands up with Disney's top tier. Even though the music isn't terrible, I would have preferred a different style for the movie, and for that reason, Bear doesn't quite stand up against The Little Mermaid, or other Disney A list animated films. Brother Bear still manges a B+ and is worthy of a better rep than it has.

11 June 2007

Bizarro Meet Supergirl

Guess who is coming to Smallville this year? If you haven't guessed by the title of this post or picture, I suppose I should just tell you. It's Supergirl, and just in time to help Clarkie fight that pesky Bizzaro phantom. Its kinda weird since Kara was already on the show in season 3. I am not sure if this character is related to that one at all.

Anyhow, here is the scoop from TvGuide.

Look, up in the sky: It’s a bird… It’s a plane… It’s Supergirl?! When Smallville returns for its seventh season this fall it will be revealed that Clark Kent (Tom Welling) is not the only member of his family to survive the destruction of the planet Krypton. His cousin Kara “was sent to Earth in a ship that arrived at the same time as baby Kal-El’s,” reveals executive producer Al Gough, referring to Clark by his Kryptonian name. “But there was a problem and she’s been in suspended animation for the last 16 years. We’ll find out in the season premiere that the big dam break in last season’s finale is the reason she’s finally awoken.”

Gough says this latest visitor from the DC Comics universe “will help Clark get in touch with his Kryptonian roots. With his [adopted] father dead and his [adopted] mother moved to Washington [to become a U.S. Senator], and Lana blown up, suddenly there’s some family in his life.”

Like her cousin, Kara will have enhanced physical abilities generated by Earth’s yellow sun. “She has all of Clark’s powers and a couple he doesn’t have yet,” Gough teases. “She can fly. And her response when Clark asks why is ‘obviously girls mature faster than boys.’”

Kara, a teenager when Krypton exploded, was sent to Earth by her father, Zor-El (Kal-El’s uncle), to look after her younger cousin. But while in suspended animation she didn’t age and now it’s Clark who must be the mentor. “She becomes enamored with our culture: clothes and iPods and stuff,” Gough says. “We’ll have a lot of fun as she gets acclimated.”

Kara makes her debut in the season premiere of the CW drama and will appear in about half of this season’s episodes. A casting notice is set to go out shortly, and producers hope to unveil their new addition at July’s Comic-Con International in San Diego.

I'm a Marvel (2 More)

Looks like he may be losing some steam, but still funny.

10 June 2007

13 Proves to be Moderately Lucky

Smoothing its way to the top this weekend was the summer's 4th 3quel Ocean's 13, though the heist was a bit less than hoped for. At this point, Ocean's 14 is a real long shot. Surf's Up also underperformed, a big Bogus for Sony Animations future prospects... I mean if you can't cash in on penguins, what's left? As for the current batch in the race. Spidey is "Peter"ing out but has achieved the $325 mil mark. Shrek hit $275 and still has some gas in the tank, and Pirates has peg-legged it past $250 mil.

Next week, The Silver Surfer will Rise to the #1 spot for the weekend, and Nancy Drew will hopefully be another bomb.

Current Rankings:

#8 Surf's Up - $18,000,000 (-.-%)*
#7 Georgia Rule - $18,444,280 (-.-%)*
#6 28 Weeks Later - $27,625,000 (-.-%)*
#5 Ocean's 13 - $37,080,000 (-.-%)*
#4 Knocked Up - $66,241,000 (-.-%)*
#3 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - $253,614,000 (64.2%)*
#2 Shrek the Third - $281,892,000 (86.7%)*
#1 Spider-Man 3 - $325,680,000 (85.7%)*

*Percentages earned relative to my predictions

My Predictions:

#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

Pixar Update

A little glimpse of whats to come from our boys at Pixar via Comingsoon.net and TIME. Up sounds interesting, but when do I get my Incredibles 2?

The new issue of TIME magazine talks about what's ahead for Pixar Animation Studios, including new details on the company's next three films after Ratatouille, opening on June 29. Here is what you can expect:

WALL• E (June 27, 2008)

The studio synopsis: "The year is 2700. WALL• E, a robot, spends every day doing what he was made for. But soon, he will discover what he was meant for." Andrew Stanton, writer-director of "Finding Nemo" (still Pixar's biggest box-office hit), describes this metallic love story as "R2-D2 meets City Lights," with WALL• E meeting a cute robot named Eve. Those who remember the 1931 Charlie Chaplin film, about a blind girl wooed by a tramp she mistakenly believes is a rich man, can transpose the story to a lonely planet and guess from there. The main roles will be "voiced" electronically by Ben Burtt, the wizardly sound designer behind Star Wars.

Up (June 12, 2009)

Pete Docter, the Pixar lifer who made "Monsters Inc.," and co-director Bob Peterson are preparing this "coming-of-old-age story" about a seventysomething guy who lives in a house that "looks like your grandparents' house smelled." He befriends a clueless young Wilderness Ranger and gets into lots of alter kocker (ComingSoon.net note: we have no idea what this means) altercations. Says Pixar: "Our hero travels the globe, fights beasts and villains and eats dinner at 3:30 in the afternoon."

Toy Story 3 (2010)

Originality is a Pixar hallmark. None of the company's films have been based on fairy tales or novels, and only "Toy Story" has spawned sequels. Why a third adventure for Woody (Tom Hanks) and Buzz (Tim Allen)? "We got an idea we thought would be really great," says Lee Unkrich, who co-directed "Toy Story 2" and "Finding Nemo" and graduates to full director status here. "We're just starting to write the story," he confides, adding, "I wake up every morning hoping for a eureka moment." He and the Brain Trust have already had one inspiration: they've asked Randy Newman to write the score. Or was that a no-brainer?

I Scream, You Scream, We All Scream For Batcicles.

Did I mention, my internet problems are in temporary suspended animation? Look for a bunch of posts in the next few days, SERVEwithCHIPS is back in business.

Looks like the tumbler won't be Bruce's only ride in The Dark Knight. So, will we get a Batmarine in Part 3?

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Bane

Bane is one of the Batman's more recent foes, first rearing his ugly head in 1993. Since then he has made appearances in Batman: The Animated Series, The Batman (in one of the 1st seasons best episodes), and as a brainless moron in Batman and Robin (one of the films many missteps).

Born to serve the life sentence of his father, Bane's childhood and early adult life were spent behind the walls of Peña Duro, an infamous prison located in Santa Prisca. Though imprisoned, his natural abilities allowed him to develop extraordinary skills within the walls of Peña Duro. He read as many books as he could get his hands on, built up his body in the prison's gymnasium, and learned to fight in the merciless school of prison life. Despite his circumstances, he appears to have found teachers of various sorts during his incarceration, ranging from the hardened convicts who were his company from birth to an elderly Jesuit priest, under whose tutelage he apparently received a classical education. Bane would murder this priest upon his return to Santa Prisca years later. However, he committed the first of his murders at the age of eight, stabbing a criminal who wanted to use him to gain information about the prison.

During his years in prison, Bane carried a teddy bear he called Osito (Spanish for "little bear"), whom he considered his only friend. It was revealed that Osito had a hole in his back to hold a knife that Bane used against anyone who bullied him.

Bane ultimately established himself as the "king" of Peña Duro prison. He had already developed a superior physique through bodybuilding, and used his physical and intellectual abilities to become the "king". The prison's controllers took note of this, and eventually, Bane was forced to become a test subject for a mysterious drug known as Venom, which had killed all other subjects. It nearly killed him at first, but he survived and found its effects enhanced his physical strength, although he needed to take it every 12 hours (via a system of cables pumped directly into his brain) or he would suffer debilitating side-effects.

Years later, Bane escaped Peña Duro, along with several accomplices (his friends Trogg, Zombie and Bird, all of whom are named for 1960s rock bands: The Troggs, The Zombies, and The Byrds, and were designed to mimic three of Doc Savage's assistants Monk, Ham, and Renny). His ambition turned to destroying Batman, whom he had heard tales of while serving his sentence, becoming fascinated with Gotham City as, like the prison, it was a place where fear ruled—in this case, fear of the Batman. Bane was convinced that the demonic bat that haunted his dreams since childhood was a representation of the Batman.

Aware that a direct assault on Batman would be foolish, Bane destroyed the walls of Arkham Asylum, allowing its deranged inmates to escape into Gotham City, where Batman spent three months rounding them up. Running himself to exhaustion, Batman returned to Wayne Manor, where Bane awaited him. He fought Batman in the Batcave, defeated him, and delivered the coup de grace: he broke Batman's back and threw him off a building in Gotham Square so that all Gothamites would know that he had defeated their protector.

While Bane established himself as ruler of Gotham's criminal underworld, Bruce Wayne passed the mantle of Batman to Jean-Paul Valley, also known as Azrael. As Batman, Jean-Paul grew increasingly violent, allowing the villain known as Abattoir to fall to his death. Jean-Paul also refused to recognize Robin as his partner. Utilizing a sophisticated combat suit in place of the traditional Batman uniform, "AzBats" (as comics fans refer to him) fought and defeated Bane at the end of the "Knightfall" arc, severing the tubes that pumped the Venom into Bane, causing severe withdrawal, and inflicted on Bane a vicious beating. Jean-Paul left him alive but broken, much as Bane had left Batman.

Following the events of "Knightfall", Bane recovered from his Venom addiction while serving time in prison as seen in Vengeance of Bane II: The Redemption (1995). He eventually escaped from prison and returned to Gotham, where he fought alongside Batman to take out a criminal ring that was distributing a Venom derivative to street-level thugs. Following a victory over the criminals, Bane proclaimed that he was "innocent" of his past crimes and urged Batman to stop hunting him. He then left Gotham (without fighting Batman) to begin a search for his father.

Bane's search brought him back to Santa Prisca (shown in the Bane of the Demon miniseries published in 1998). In search of leads, Bane questioned the Jesuit priest who had taught him while he was in Peña Duro. The priest explained that there were four men who could possibly have been his father: a Santa Priscan revolutionary, an American doctor, an English mercenary, and a Swiss banker. While searching for the Swiss in Rome, Bane encountered Ra's al Ghul's daughter Talia. Talia introduced Bane to her father, and eventually Bane impressed Ra's so much that he chose Bane as his heir (an "honor" he had previously imparted on Batman).

Ra's al Ghul and Bane then launched a plague attack on Gotham in the "Legacy" storyline. Bruce Wayne, again costumed as Batman, got his rematch with Bane and narrowly defeated him in single combat. Since then, whenever Batman and Bane square off in battle, their fights usually end in a draw, as Bane's strength is now equal to Batman's (instead of vastly superior), because Bane no longer uses Venom.

According to the Jesuit priest that Bane spoke with there was a possibility that Bane's biological father was an American doctor. In researching this issue, Bane came to the conclusion that he and Batman shared Dr. Thomas Wayne as their biological father, with Dr. Wayne having apparently become close to Bane's mother during his time in Santa Prisca. Bane alerted Batman to this possibility, and during the time that the DNA tests were being performed, stayed at Wayne Manor and fought alongside Batman on the streets of Gotham. Ultimately, it was revealed that Dr. Wayne was not Bane's father, and Bane left Gotham peacefully (and with Batman's blessing and financial backing) to pursue leads in the snowy mountains of Kanchenjunga.

Bane eventually found his father, the unscrupulous King Snake. Bane, with Batman looking on, helped to foil King Snake's plans to unleash a powerful weapon upon the world. In the process, Bane saved Batman from being shot by King Snake, but was mortally wounded in the process. Batman then saved Bane by bathing him in a Lazarus Pit, and left him with a clean slate and a new opportunity at life.

Villain Profiles:

Ra's al Ghul

Talia al Ghul
Baby Doll

The Dark Knight returns in 405 days!