12 July 2008

The Dark Knight Begins - 6 Minutes of Tease

Once again, the first 6 minutes of The Dark Knight - One Week Early:

11 July 2008

Ink Blots - Futurama: The Beast With A Billion Backs

The second in the line of 4 direct to video Futurama movie, The Beast with a Billion Backs (BBB) takes a step down from the previous effort Bender's Big Score. The last outing, on top of hilarity, offered a clever story and heart. This one mostly just has the hilarity. The intent for these movies is to chop them into 4 episodes each that can be aired in 30 m inute segments. Now I have read a couple of other reviews that say that structure was obvious in this movie, but I would disagree. I did not feel like I watched four episodes "back to back" (pun intended, the story did progress, though I suppose there were independent subplots in each act. Nevertheless, I think chopping this movie up is going to be tough since there really were not, at least to my untrained eye, natural act breaks.

Anyways the basic story involved an intergalactic tentacle monster AKA Yivo (who was also heaven) dating and seducing all of humanity (and some other species too). There was also a pointless subplot with Bender and the "League of Robots" which really was pointless, though the mustached robot was pretty cool. I also enjoyed the giant deathball competition which can be viewed at Amazon. There are also so jabs at Catholosism and religion in general (Fry becomes tentacle Pope), but I don't think any philosophies "spouted" by Futurama should be taken too seriouslly.

This time we got more Zap Branigan (YAY!), more Kif and Amy (meh) and a couple of good vomiting Zoidberg gags. Unfortunately, though we also got additioanl robo-cameos from Calculon, Hedonism bot, and the Robot Devil, we didn't get as many great appearances as were woven into the last outing. And how does Steven Hawking provide his own voice? Shouldn't his voice sythesizer be getting the credit? Was Steve even there in the recording session because they could have just typed his lines into Microsoft Narrator and had it "perform."

Basically, where the last movie was one of those special episodes like The Sting, Parasites Lost, or The Devel's Hands, this is just a good ol funny episode more like The Day the Earth Stood Stupid or the Problem with Popplers, and if you are down with that, you be down with the Beast. Until Bender's Game, I will be content with the 2 two bonus movies with which we have been graced. BBB appropriately earns a B.

Will Hellboy Enjoy Showers of Box Office Gold

Hell hasn't frozen over yet, and Hellboy is here (though not in a handbasket). But the question remains, will the masses care?

The first Hellboy movie made $60 million on a budget of $66 million back in 2004. But money must have been made somewhere because a sequel was eventually given the go-ahead. I wonder how much they think a sequel will earn? I can only assume that Hellboy 2 will outperform the original for a few reasons.

1) The first was fairly well received and built on its small following though DVD word of mouth on DVD and endless airings on FX. My wife agreed to watch Hellboy on DVD with me if I watched Radio. Still not sure it was worth it. But, even though she may not want to admit it, she did not hate Hellboy, she may even have kinda liked it.

2) The trailers look amazing, this looks even better than the first. And who is that dude in the divers suit. He looks like a fun guy to hang out with.

3) Guillermo del Toro is a lot better known after Pan's Labyrinth and the announcement that he will direct The Hobbit(s). People may be interested in seeing what else he is up to.

4) Critics are being pretty favorable. Hellboy is riding an 87% at Rottentomatoes.com compared to the first film's still respectable 80%.

5) The first Hellboy opened in the traditionally slow month of April. With a July opening, there is a better chance for a large opening weekend and strong daily takes. In fact current competition may not be too strong. Last weeks Hancock isn't getting great word of mouth and openers Meet Dave and Journey to the Center of the Earth don't look to steal crowds away either.

On the other hand... opening a week before Batman may kill Hellboy's legs. Also being the 4th out of 5 Superhero films in the summer, can't help.

Anyways, I hope this one earns enough to warrant one more Hellboy film. That's what Del Toro has in mind. A nice cool $100 million would be nice, so go see it!

The Babylonian Captivity - The Long Dark (2x05)

This reeked of bad Sci-Fi rip offs. A ships of cryogenic peole was found (Just Like in Space Seed) and revived, but an alien shadow beast was released. They lured it out and shot it. There was lots of foreboding here, but enough of that. I want some more development. Also, the romance between popsicle woman and the doctor was boring.


The Babylonian Captivity - A Distant Star (2x04)

The new Captain Shiridan meets up with an old war buddy and sets up a rescue attempt when the buddies ship gets lost in hyperspace. This was interesting in that we saw a glimpse of a shadow ship in hyperspace. But again, I was not riveted. Still not a bad jaunt.


The Babylonian Captivity - The Geometry of Shadows (2x03)

After some good episodes, the show has started to slow down again. This episode showed some dudes called Technomages, which are more or less just magicians/computer hackers. The highlight of the show was Londo's continually growing ambition, which I suspect is turning into a villain. Nothing else much happens aside from a silly alien conflict involving colored ascots.


10 July 2008

Ink Blots - Batman: Gotham Knight

From start to finish, Batman: Gotham Knight is sheer eye candy and just like when you fill up on candy without a real meal, you will go to bed with an upset stomach. The idea was to present six tales of Batman, all interrelated, but with different anime influenced styles. Before I give a blow by blow account of each of the six tales, let me say that in presenting different interpretations of Batman, the film was a success. The best part of this movie is seeing all of the varying takes on the Dark Knight. For that, I quite enjoyed the film. Having said that, I could not in good conscience recommend the movie to a casual Batfan. The story is paper thin and if you didn't know the stories were connected, it would be hard to tell because of the act breaks and changes in artistic styles. In other words, the individual chapters really are not all that related.. and there certainly isn't an overarching story. One thread that does tie them together is a consistent voice performance by the Animated Series' own Kevin Conroy. Good to hear him one more time.

Sadly, of all the animated Batman movies out there (Mask of the Phantasm, Subzero, Mystery of the Batwoman, Vs Dracula, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker) this one has the weakest story and the weakest replay value. On the other head, this stands head and shoulders above the unwatchable Superman Returns cash-in Superman: Brainiac Attacks.

Let me break down the tales:

Have I Got A Story For You

The opening tale had three kids each giving their account of an encounter with The Batman. It was cool to see these interpretations of Elseworld Batmen, even if the idea itself wasn't too original. More on that is a moment.

The first described a monster that could melt into shadows.

The second kid described Batman as a Man-bat with fangs wings and claws.

The third described him as a robot.

The real shock is that after these three fantastical versions of Batman we see the real deal who turned out to be kind of a fat guy.

The other main shortcoming of this segment was that it would inevitably be compared to the Batman: The Animated Series episode "Legends of the Dark Knight" which was a VERY similar tale which gave varying versions of Batman as told by kids, who ultimately had a run-in with the real Batman. These versions focused on a campy 50's Batman and Batman from The Dark Knight Returns. The comparison to that episode is begged for, as that very episode is included as an extra on the Gotham Knight DVD.

I don't know, this was still one of my favorite segments for providing 3 cool variations on non-human Batmans.


Next up, the story shifts from the perspective of kids to that of the Gotham PD. Who get caught in the crossfire between two rival mafia organizations. This is another problem with the film. It claims to tie Batman Begins and The Dark Knight together, and from what I have read, some of this mob stuff will be included in The Dark Knight, but its not like any of the happenings are set-up or explained. Just to say that "one of these characters will be in The Dark Knight" doesn't really, to me, qualify this as mandatory viewing. The segment makes other token mentions to the Narrows and Arkham, but those aspects are forced into the story and slow down the segment.

The capey Batman looked pretty good but the story in this segment lagged. Not my favorite.

Field Test

Enter the worst of segment. This tale included Lucious Fox inventing a bullet diverting pulse that Batman could fit into his suit. But fearing that ricocheted bullets could hurt his assailants, Batman opts out of the device. Strike one is the lame story. Strike two is the horrible design of the Batsuit. He looked more like Chickenman than Batman. Wayne doesn't look much better. Also, the perspective again changed from the police officers to Batman (finally).

In Darkness Dwells

If you hadn't notice, there really hadn't been too many villains to contend with yet. In this segment, Batman tangles with Killer Croc of all people, and dodges a couple of scythes thrown by Scarecrow. It was nice to get some action even if the idea of Scarecrow from Batman Begins leading an underground cult seems a little odd. This Batman looked the most like that in Batman Begins. Overall, the segment was an improvement over the last one.

Working Through Pain

In this segment, a wounded Batman has a number of flashbacks to his days learning to manage pain. It was an interesting segment, but again, only very loosely attached to the movie as a whole, and the present time story doesn't really make sense.

Oh, and we also got to see Batman through the eyes of a fear toxined thug. Cool.


This is the segment I would show to people. We have a great looking Batman taking on Deadshot, who, though not a super well known villain, fits into the tone of this segment brilliantly. There is good action and as a stand-alone tale, this one holds up. Sure, it doesn't tie into a bigger arc either, but at least there is a self contained plot which some of the others seemed to lack.

Overall, it seems like someone had an ambitious idea for a Batman movie, but in order to get it ready in time to release with the new theatrical film, they had to slice and dice it and farm it out to 6 companies. Some did better than others. The movie is fun to watch, mostly for its style and designs, definitely not for its story. I would say the first and last episodes were my favorites, and the other ones were mostly OK (aside from Field Test). Oh and one last thing. My DVD had a sticker that said "The first PG-13 animated Batman movie." Now, this is certainly the bloodiest Batman movie with a decapitation and lots of blood, but to be technically correct, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker has a PG-13 cut that I own on DVD. It is also animated and I would argue that it is a Batman movie (though I guess the sticker makers disagree). Anyways, if you are a Batman fan, check this out. If not, find a Bat friend and ask to watch the Deadshot segment which I would give an A-. But overall, in spite of great visuals, without a story I would have to give the film a C+.

09 July 2008

Bender's Game Trailer - The Futurama is Now (Available)

He it is folks. This time the Planet Express crew is delving into the world of Fantasy. I quite enjoyed Bender's Big Score, and am eager to watch The Beast With a Billion Backs (as soon as it arrives in the mail even though I ordered it like 18 days ago! ARGH!) Enjoy:

Ink Blots - Kirikou and the Sorceress

Kirkou and the Sorceress is a lesser-known French-Belgian animated film based on an African folk tale. The titular character, Kirikou, delivered himself from his mothers womb, and could already speak and run (very quickly by the way). Kirikou becomes a champion for his village by facing off against the oppressive Sorceress Karaba and her robot-like minions.

Other than his ability to speak and walk, Kirikou doesnt have any special powers, but he uses his size and cunning to help the village by crawling though water holes and tunnels and hiding in hats to give advice to the grown ups. The movie is charming and the character of Kirikou is quite endearing. What also makes this films special are the colorful and flat animation designs that perfectly fit the film setting. A disclaimer: there is a lot of nudity here - though the film is only as offensive as National Geographic magazine... so you be the judge.

Though the plot may not be too complex, there are great morals and themes presented. This is a real treasure of a film that really deserves a wider following and appreciation. A-

08 July 2008

Wonder Woman's Back

After Superman, The Justice League, and now Batman have received animated movie treatments, its Wonder Woman's turn to take the spotlight. The next DC direct to video movie will focus on the origin story of the Amazon. The movie isnt coming out until next spring, so no footage yet, but the character design has been revealed. Not bad, I just hope her butt doesnt end up quite so flat.

Anyways, its been a long time since she has gotten her own show, so I am hoping this is a good one.

Knight Falls

Batman: Gotham Knight has arrived on DVD. I shall have a review of these 6 interlocking tales soon.

07 July 2008

UPDATE: Jade Giant Gets Animated in HULK VS.

Update: Now with Trailer

Forget Next Avengers, details of Hulk Vs have arrived at Marvel.com. Here is the description.

HULK VS THOR – It's gods versus monsters in this epic 45 minute movie! Never have we explored the explosive power of the Hulk like we have in this new film, every major character from the Marvel Thor universe is thrust into battle with this Green Goliath as he brings a new Ragnarok down upon the realm of gods.

HULK VS WOLVERINE- This dark, violent, smash and slash story was first told in issue 181 of THE INCREDIBLE HULK and the rematches have continued to thrill comic fans ever since. Now Marvel and Lionsgate takes the best of those famous comic book battles and merges them into one heart pounding 33-minute story.

Over the past week, The INCREDIBLE HULK has been tearing a line across the Canadian wilderness, leaving a swathe of destruction in his wake. He has to be stopped, and there's only one man up to the job. He's the best at what he does, but what he does isn't very nice. He's WOLVERINE, an elite agent of Canada's top secret Department H, and he's been put on Hulk's trail with a single objective: stop the Green Goliath… at all costs. Hulk and Wolverine are about to enter the fiercest battle of their lives. And they have no idea that there are a few unpleasant surprises waiting for them on the other side.

Finally, this could just be the Marvel DtV we have been waiting for. Something deserving of a movie treatment and something more than a pseudo TV series pilot. I just hope they don't skimp on the green blood.

Radar Blips - Star Wars Episode I: The Phantom Menace

The Year: 1999

The Players: Ewan McGregor, Natalie Portman, Liam Neeson and Jar-Jar Binks in the continuing adventures of George Lucas.

The Take: $431 million

Is this the one that ruined Star Wars?: Some people think so. But, while this is not Empire Strikes Back, there are moments to treasure in this movie. And as much as people want to blame Jar-Jar for ruining the movie, the real shame is in young Anakin being a dope rather than a prodigy "I'll try spinning, that's a good trick," or "Oops" when he blew up the Trade Federation ship. Why not let him do it on purpose and be a real hero?

Why you should see it: What do people think of when they hear Star Wars? Lightsabers, and this one has what I would call the best saber fight of the saga thanks to Darth Maul who is also awesome. Ewan McGregor is great as Obi-Wan and Qui-Gon is also an interesting and well played character. Overall the effects are top notch. The Duel of the Fates theme played during the fight is also one of John Williams best in a long time. I also think that the story of Palpatine's rise to power which begins here is one of the best story parts of the trilogy. Its really not as bad as people say, it just couldn't live up to expectations... and the pod race was also not all it was hyped up to be.

The Babylonian Captivity - Revelations (2x02)

Londo and his buddy are getting tighter and the Narn Ambassador G'Kar thinks that some ancient enemy has returned. He is beginning to suspect Londo. The cocoon opens and the bald chick now has hair. Everyone thinks she looks totally different, but she just has hair now. Did I mention she is the "French Woman" from Lost? Also that magical healing / killing device from last season made a comeback to heal Garibaldi. Yay. So far I am liking Season 2.


The Babylonian Captivity - Points of Departure (2x01)

Calculon AKA the grinning Commander Sinclair is off the show. He was reassigned as Ambassador to the Minbari folk. Turns out the Minbari supposedly discovered that their race are being reincarnated as humans. Thats why they surrendered on the dawn of victory. Some of the warrior Minbari are left out of the loop on this little secret and want to go out in a blaze of Klingon like honor. But the new Commander Sheridan is too cunning for them and doesnt open fire. The rengade Minbari are left to die by their own people's hands.

New theme music and new actors may make this a little less cheesy.


The Babylonian Captivity - Chrysalis (1x22)

I won't lie, this was a pretty good episode. The effects were still horrible, but a lot of the seeds planted during the season started to sprout. Londo AKA featherhead is in deep with this Morden guy. Morden tells Londo to tell his people that "he will take care of a border dispute" with the lizard faces AKA Narn. Then Morden gets some venomlike ships to effortlessly annihilate all of the Narns in the area. Londo is a hero to his people.
Bald lady spins a coccoon, and Security chief Garibaldi uncovers a plot to kill the president but is shot (not fatally) before being able to prevent the assasination.

Good stuff all around.


As for Season 1, way too much sowing of plot points and too little reaping, but I am hopeful for Season 2. The characters did start to grow on me and I always looked forward to watching the next episode, though I am not yet to the point where I would consider repeat viewings.



The Babylonian Captivity - The Quality of Mercy (1x21)

A murderer got convicted of personality wipe and lifetime service, but instead was killed by a device that takes ones life energy and gives it to another. This one didn't really stand out after a couple of good episodes, but the idea of reprogramming people to do service does seem more practice than a death penalty.


06 July 2008

Will Smith is Legend

Proving he is bigger than Superman, Will Smith mustered up an impressive, though below what some expected, $107 million 5-day ($66 million weekend) opening for Hancock. Thats good enough to launch Hancock into the top 9. Indy has passed $300 million with some gas still in the tank, and Iron Man may not be able to hold him off much longer. Wall-E has also climbed his way up though some of the garbage to the #6 spot and counting.

By next week, Kung Fu Panda will be heating up as it passes $200 million. Competition will also be getting more intense for the new releases to make it onto the chart, though next week's Hellboy may not be a real threat.


Iron Man - $311,758,000
#2 Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull - $306,590,000
#3 Kung Fu Panda - $193,395,000
#4 Sex and the City - $144,864,000
#5 The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian - $138,780,000
#6 Wall-E - $128,132,000
#7 The Incredible Hulk - $124,917,000
#8 Hancock - $107,321,000
#9 Get Smart - $98,115,000