21 July 2007

The Friends and Foes of Batman - Black Mask

Less than a year to go until The Dark Knight!

The Black Mask first appeared back in 1985 and has since appeared in The Batman animated show. He seems like a great possible choice for Batman Begins 3.

Roman Sionis was born into one of Gotham City’s elite families, to parents who were wealthy and utterly self-absorbed, caring more about their social status than their son; moments after his birth, the doctor carelessly dropped him on his head. Roman's parents were less concerned about their son's well-being and more concerned about covering up the entire incident out of fear of how their wealthy friends would react to the news of their son's injury.

Further adding to the cauldron was his father's "friendship" with Thomas Wayne; both of Roman's parents disliked the Waynes and were quite vocal about it in private with their son. However, to their son's dismay, they continued to associate with Thomas and Martha Wayne and pretended to be friends with the couple, to the extent of literally forcing him to become friends with their son, Bruce. His parents' hypocrisy had a deep impact on him, and he grew to hate and resent them and the "masks" they wore in public.

When he graduated high school, Sionis was given a high ranking position inside his fathers company, Janus Cosmetics. It was there that he met and fell in love with Circe, a young working class secretary. His parents didn't approve of the relationship and made it clear that they wanted the romance ended. Enraged, Roman burned down the family's mansion, killing both of his parents. Upon their deaths he inherited the family fortune and business. As Roman wasn't the businessman his father was he ended up ruining Janus Cosmetics by funding a line of face-paint make-up which failed. In desperation he threw large sums of money at the staff chemists to create a product to save the company, and what came back to him was a kind of water-proof make up. The product was rushed to market without proper testing, and once it hit the market turned out to be a deadly toxin which disfigured several hundred women.

As Janus Cosmetics crumbled Circe, now Sinois' fiancé, broke up with him in front of his entire staff. At that time, now successful mogul Bruce Wayne offered to bail out the company on the condition that Sionis give up control and allow Wayne to appoint his own Board of Directors. Sionis agreed, but was furious at the perceived humiliation and dramatic loss of face he had suffered. He went to the family mausoleum and broke his mother's ebony coffin lid and carved a mask from a large chunk of it, becoming Black Mask as he had always been obsessed with masks, and the idea that when a person becomes someone else when they wear one.

Sionis found he had an amazing aptitude for crime, and he soon had a large gang working for him. Calling them the False Face Society, the one requirement was that all members must select a mask from his collection and wear it at all times when on the job and in his presence. They were successfully gaining power in the Gotham underworld, until Black Mask decided it was time to take his revenge on Bruce Wayne. He began kidnapping Wayne Enterprise executives, putting masks on their faces that were coated in the deadly make-up once made by Janus Cosmetics. He also targeted Circe and forcibly disfigured her with the chemicals in order to force her to reunite with him. Circe would ultimately kill herself, leading Black Mask to replace her with a mannequin that he talked to as if it were a real person.

These kidnappings drew Batman's attention, and he began hunting down the False Facers. He slowly began to dismantle the organization until he finally found Black Mask in the ruins of the Sionis Family home. Black Mask lit the wreckage on fire trying to escape, but was caught in the burning house. Batman was able to save him, but the mask had been burned onto his face and left him disfigured.

Black Mask spent some time in Arkham Asylum, but escaped when Bane assaulted the facility and subsequently restarted the False Facers. He took on a new second-in-command, called Tattoo, and he began burning down Wayne properties. This time he also kidnapped Lucius Fox, CEO of Waynetech and friend of Bruce Wayne. Batman infiltrated the gang and was able to save Fox from Black Mask's torture, and even brought in Tattoo, but Black Mask escaped.

Sionis discarded the ebony mask, believing his scars to be a sign of his strength and determination to survive. By now completely insane, he led a cult whose trademark was ritual scarring, killing anyone who refused to join. He led a powerful group until Batman and Huntress dissolved it.

Black Mask eventually rose to become the overlord of the Gotham underworld.

Allied with reporter Arturo Rodriguez, Black Mask began a campaign to discredit Batman. While Rodriguez slammed Batman in the press, Black Mask committed a series of murders disguised as Batman. This plan was complicated by the arrival of the Joker. Black Mask was intent on killing the Clown Prince of Crime and framing Batman for it, but the Joker wanted to kill Black Mask, because he robbed him of the opportunity to kill another Robin. The two nearly killed each other before Batman intervened. Batman eventually exposed Rodriguez and finally managed to capture Black Mask. However, while being taken to jail, he managed to kill the escorting officer and escape again.

In an attempt to "improve himself" after this debacle, Black Mask threatened the most important people in Catwoman's life, from Slam Bradley to Holly Robinson. Still thinking that she adhered to a strict no-kill rule, Black Mask was caught by surprise when Catwoman retaliated by shooting him in the head and blowing off his jaw, killing him. After the shooting, Selina Kyle passed the mantle of Catwoman to her friend Holly. Not long after, Holly was arrested for the killing of Black Mask.

Friend and Foe Profiles:

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

The Dark Knight returns in 363 days!

20 July 2007

First Look at Smallville's New Belle

Obviously from Kryptonsite.com, your leader in Smallville news, comes the first look at Supergirl in costume. Interesting take on Kara Zor-El. Not too long til Smallville season 7 premiers (Sep 27).

Iron Man's Iron Hand

Take a look at this awesome image of Tony Stark trying out his iron hand. This Iron Man movie looks freaking incredible!

Introducing Polls

A couple weeks back I ran a poll about which Pixar Film would you most like to see get a sequel. The Incredibles was the easy winner. Now, blogger allows me to add polls to my sidebars. ------->

So look for about a poll a week to pop up, and be sure to vote. Also, feel free to make requests.

Transformers - Vote for Sequel Bots

Over at USAToday.com you can vote for your favorite transformer to be included in the inevitable Transformers 2. Your choices are:

Ultra Magnus
Hot Rod

Conspicously absent is Lazerbeak. I will have to cast my vote for either Soundwave or Devestator. Maybe I will just vote twice since I can't decide. Who are you gonna vote for?

19 July 2007

Forthcoming Fantasy Films

Thanks to our friends at ign.com I was inpired to offer an glimpse of upcoming fantasy films that have set release dates.

Stardust - August 10, 2007

Could be a fun movie in the vein of The Princess Bride, or it could be terrible, but word of mouth so far sounds great.

A young man named Tristran tries to win the heart of Victoria, the beautiful but cold object of his desire, by going on a quest to retrieve a fallen star. His journey takes him to a mysterious and forbidden land beyond the walls of his village. On his odyssey, Tristran finds the star, which has transformed into a striking girl named Yvaine. However, Tristran is not the only one seeking the star. Lord Stormhold's three living sons – not to mention the ghosts of their four dead brothers – all need the star as they vie for the throne. Tristran must also overcome the evil witch, Lamia, who needs the star to make her young again.

The Dark is Rising - October 5, 2007

Looks a bit slanted toward kids, but Harry Potter meets Narnia can't be all bad.

Will Stanton is a young man who finds out that he is the last of a group of warriors who have spent their lives fighting against evil. Will travels through time to track down clues that will enable him to confront the evil forces.

Beowulf - November 16, 2007

If they pull off the motion capture in this better than they did in The Polar Express, it could be good. It could also be pretty dark for an animated movie.

The warrior Beowulf must fight and defeat the monster Grendel who is terrorizing towns, and later, Grendel's mother, who begins killing out of revenge.

The Golden Compass - December 7, 2007

This is gonna be a great one. Its got freaking armored polar bears! Hopefully its a smash hit allowing the superior 2nd chapter of the trilogy, The Subtle Knife, to be made.

When Lyra and her daemon Pantalaimon decide to spy on a presentation her uncle, the commanding Lord Asriel, is making to the elders of Jordan College they have no idea that they will become witnesses to an attempted murder---and even less that they are taking the first steps in a journey that will lead them into danger and adventure unlike anything Lyra's unfettered imagination has conjured up. Lyra soon finds herself apprenticed to the elegant Mrs. Coulter---and in possession of a strange device called the alethiometer, a "golden compass" that reads not true north, but truth itself. But truth is a precious commodity, and before long Lyra and Pan are running for their lives, the object of an obsessive hunt by mysterious forces who have been stealing children for dark purposes that no one understands.

The Water Horse: Legend of the Deep - December 25, 2007

This tale of Nessie could be kinda cute, but more likely pretty lame. I haven't read the book, but the trailer doesn't impress me much. Looks more like a Garfield than a fantasy epic.

Set in the 1930s, a girl named Kirstie MacMorrow and her brother, Angus, discover an egg after a storm and decide to take it home. To their surprise this egg hatches into a kind of sea monster they name Crusoe. It grows, until finally it is too big to live anywhere else but in nearby Loch Ness.

The Spiderwick Chronicles - February 29, 2008

This looks like the movie that The Bridge to Terabithia was marketed as (not that BtT was bad, but it was NOT a fantasy). This one looks intriguing.

The story is about three kids who battle goblins and other magical creatures who are after Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide. The story follows the adventures of the Grace children: Simon, Mallory and Jared as they encounter many different types of elves, goblins, dwarves, trolls and faeries.

Inkheart - March 19, 2008

I don't really know what to think of this one yet. Its got Brenden Frasier in it. Take that for what its worth.

The story is about a girl named Meggie whose life changes dramatically when she realizes that her father, a bookbinder named Mortimer, has an unusual ability: when he reads aloud, he can bring characters from books into the real world. Meggie and Mo's adventure takes them throughout Europe, particularly Italy, and brings them into contact with many unusual characters.

Nim's Island - April 28, 2008

Hmm... I have nothing else to say.

Nim lives on an island in the middle of the wide blue sea with her father, Jack, a marine iguana called Fred, a sea lion called Selkie, a turtle called Chica and a satellite dish for her e-mail. No one else in the world lives quite like Nim, and she wouldn't swap places with anyone. But when Jack disappears in his sailing boat, and disaster threatens her home, Nim must be braver than she's ever been before. And she needs help from her friends, old and new

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - May 16, 2008
(also The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader - May 1, 2009)

Probably won't be as good as the first Narnia, but it will still be a hit. The story is just a bit short for a full length adaptation without lots of "making stuff up" to pad out the film.

One year has passed in our world since the first adventure ended, but in Narnia almost 1,300 years have passed. The villainous King Miraz prevents the rightful king, his young nephew Prince Caspian, from ruling the land of Narnia. Caspian uses Susan's magic horn that was left on Narnia to summon the four Pevensies to help him and a small army of Old Narnians reclaim his rightful throne.

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince - November 21, 2008
(also Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows - 2010)

This may be the best Potter to date. Its my favorite of the first 6 books and the plot really thickens.

Set during Harry Potter's sixth year at Hogwarts, the novel explores Lord Voldemort's past, and Harry's preparations for the final battle amidst emerging romantic relationships and the emotional confusions and conflict resolutions characteristic of mid-adolescence.

DeepDiscount.com is in Deep Doo-Doo Over Harry Potter

On Tuesday, scans of the last chapter of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows started popping up online. Apparently, one could also download a torrent that contained .jpg photographs of the entire book. This led to the sprouting up of spoilers everywhere including detailed answers to looming questions about deaths and horcruxes. To ruin the book, click here. I did. Oops. I just couldn't resist. Besides, I'm still gonna read the book.

Anyhow, according to the New York Times, these leaks were the result of the online seller DeepDiscount.com sending out early copies of the book. Now Scholastic is calling DeepDiscount buyers and asking them to hide their copies until midnight Friday (riiiiight).

I am a big fan of DeepDiscount.com who consistently have low prices and always have free shipping. I save up for their twice yearly 20% off everything sale (Next occurring around Thanksgiving). I hope this debacle does not hurt their company since I am a fan of low, low prices. I just wish I had ordered HP7 from them. I could be reading it right now!

Radar Blips - Legend

The Year: 1985

The Players: A wee Tom Cruise, and directed by Ridley Scott

The Take: $15 Million

Is this really a legend?: I suppose it could be, but its not based on any legend I know. I guess maybe someday this tale will be adopted as a classic legend, but thats unlikely.

Why you should see it: The villain of the movie, known as Darkness, is one freaky deaky dude. He is a big red guy with hooves and giant horns, and is scary as all get out. The plot is pretty straightforward in that the hero must rescue the girl from the bad guy that wants nothing more than to join her in holy matrimony. Tom cruise is aided by a little elf kid that talks like he is possessed by a demon. The music by Tangerine Dream captures an 80's electronica vibe. So, basically this is a very odd film, but is full of distinct style.

18 July 2007

Will the Real Joker Please Stand Up

Now this looks a bit more like the Joker we all love to hate (Thanks Mollygood.com):

17 July 2007

Ink Blots LXXII - Ratatouille

One word that sums up Pixar characters for me is "endearing." When I first heard about Pixar's new prject involving a french rat, I was a tad disappointed. It didn't sound like a good way to follow up the great Incredibles or Cars. After all these films, I guess part of me just keeps expecting one of them to stink. How many film companies can boast 8 great films in a row, or a flawless track record. Even their weakest film, A Bug's Life, has some great moments and is still a good movie. I figured that Ratatouille would be Pixar's first big misstep. But man, was I wrong. This was a fantastic film.

By the time I learned that Brad Bird, director of The Iron Giant and The Incredibles, was directing Rats, I started to have hopes, but I admit I was most excited to see this movie simply because it was Pixar. Hopefully their reputation earns Ratatouille its deserved audience because this is another Brad Bird masterpiece. While it may not be Pixar's biggest money maker, it will surely always be a bright spot in Pixar's fine catalog.

Enough of all that, onto the movie.

Remy is a rat that loves to cook and idolizes the late chef Auguste Gusteau who was humiliated by a villainous food critic, and then died. Remy finds himself one day in Paris and sees Gusteau's restaurant and the chance to bring it back its lost glory. Fortunately he finds a boy that needs to cook but can't and the two work out a system to create magnificent food. I really can't say more without giving away a lot of plot, but there is a lot of character development for "tiny chef" Remy and his rat friends as well as the boy chef Linguini. Along with the food critic on the prowl there is another chef that has a grudge against Linguini and wants to "spoil his soup."

The brilliance of this film is that while the rats can talk to each other, they can't actually talk to humans. They can just nod etc. The idea of a rat in the kitchen is as repulsive to the characters as it is to you or me as they are crusty little garbage eaters both off screen and on. But Remy is different. He washes his hands, tries to walk only on his hind legs to keep the front paws clean, and stays out of the garbage. Much of the film offers a rat's eye view of the world with wide angle shots and running through little tunnels. And as it turns out the Parisian setting makes a new and distinct Pixar world.

After Flushed Away, I wondered if Ratatouille would really stand out. Its usually the first to the screens that gets the glory as was the case of Madagascar vs The Wild. But no fears, even though Remy himself gets "flushed away" at one point, in the battle of the rats, Remy is a clear winner earning Pixar and Disney another A.

15 July 2007

Marvel/DC After Hours Continued

Yet Another Look to Next Summer's Big Ones

See Part 1 and Part 2 for my first 3 picks.


WALL•E - 27 June 2008

Pixar's 2008 entry based on a little robot looking for his role in the universe is sure to be full of heart and charm. Rats may be more cuddly than robots, but WALLE is still gonna sell like hotcakes.


The Dark Knight - 18 July 2008

Batman Begins was released to cries of, "More batman! Why!?" But once people saw the movie all those questions went away. The movie ended with the promise of The Joker in the next movie. The Dark Knight is gonna be huge, and hopefully great. This is the must see of '08.


Hellboy 2: The Golden Army - 01 August 2008

Does the world need more Hellboy? Probably not, but the movie still sounds cool. Who doesn't want to see a big red demon fight the tooth fairy? Being the 4th superhero of the summer might not bode too well for Hellboy, but I will still be there to cheer him on.

Pots of Cash for Potter

Sectumsempra was cast upon the enemies of wee Harry Potter this weekend as the boy wizard's 5th outing took the weekend crown and propelled the film into blockbuster territory. On top of an impressive opening couple of days Potter bagged another $77 mil over the weekend. All signs point to 2 more huge Potter films coming soon to a theater near you.

The Transformers also held up nicely for a hearty second weekend drivng the film past the $200 million mega mark. It may be a close race between the Potter and the Transies for the 4th place finish this summer. Live Free or Die Hard also eclipsed the $100 million mark, but its total gross so far has been insufficient to keep it on the Summer Top 9 list. Ratatouille also climbed up a couple spots, and hopes to make it to an impressive (though somewhat disappointing for Pixar) $200+ million take.

Next week the Adam Sandler / The fat guy from King of Queens comedy I Now Pronounce you Chuck and Larry opens, as does Hairspray, so our Top 9 may shift positions, but don't expect many new entries to the list for a couple of weeks.

Current Rankings:

#9 Ocean's 13 - $112,432,000
#8 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - $127,144,000
#7 Knocked Up - $138,194,000
#6 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - $140,017,000
#5 Ratatouille - $143,004,000
#4 Transformers - $222,990,000
#3 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - $304,460,000
#2 Shrek the Third - $317,900,000
#1 Spider-Man 3 - $335,600,000

My Predictions:

#9 Evan Almighty - $170,000,000 (51.8%)*
#8 Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer - $175,000,000 (72.6%)*
#7 The Bourne Ultimatum - $185,000,000 (0.0%)*
#6 Transformers - $205,000,000 (108.8%)*
#5 Ratatouille - $260,000,000 (55.0%)*
#4 Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix - $275,000,000 (50.9%)*
#3 Shrek the Third - $325,000,000 (97.8%)*
#2 Spider-Man 3 - $380,000,000 (88.3%)*
#1 Pirates of the Caribbean: At World's End - $395,000,000 (77.1%)*

*Percentages earned relative to my predictions