31 December 2008

Superheroes on Screen - Retrospective 2008

Another year has passed and its time to look back at the Superheroes on Screen in


In February, DC released their second in the line of DtVs for more mature audiences, this time offering an adaptation of Justice League New Frontier. As I wrote in my review, If the idea of silver age heroes battling a flying island that shoots dinosaurs sounds appealing to you, you will love this movie.

In March, the surprisingly fun Spectacular Spider-Man cartoon debuted. Aside from the characters having oversized eyes, the look of the show is fantastic. The season long story arc was compelling making Tombstone a Kingpin like threat who is financing the creation of other masked freaks to distract crime fighters from his own devious endeavors.

One of the years biggest stories was the performance of the previously classified B-Lister Iron Man. The Iron Man trailer got people talking and the thoroughly entertaining film put together an impressive little run of $318 million bones. Marvel studios bet all their chips on this movie and they won big.

A month after Iron Man, Marvels second helping of superheroes was offered in the shape of The Incredible Hulk. Hulk had none of the hype or anticipation of Iron Man, but when the dust settled it turned out to be a decent enough film. And even though it cost more and made almost the exact same as the perceived bomb Hulk 2003, this one seemed to be viewed as a success (though being beaten by Mama Mia is just sad). Whether or not Hulk will return in another solo outing remains to be seen, but he should be returning in 2011's Avengers.

Hancock kicked off an overstuffed July in an overstuffed summer of superheroes, but proving how big of a star Will Smith is, this poorly reviewed film went on to earn $227 million, enough to all but guarantee a Hancock 2.

July also saw the release of a Batman animated midquel that supposedly ties Batman Begins and the Dark Knight together. This anime inspired project contained vignettes animated by 6 different studios and though it sounded cool in concept, it was pretty disappointing.

Up next was Hellboy 2: The Golden Army. Lets just say that opening a week before The Dark Knight was a terrible idea because the movie received pretty good reviews and a decent (in comparison to the the first) opening weekend, but then was all but forgotten. It really is a shame as this was a very enjoyable and visually impressive, though quirky film and it made only $75 million. If you havent yet, see it.

Of course, the year's most remarkable story must go to The Dark Knight which shattered expectations and earned the superhero genre real legitimacy. For better or worse, this will be a pivotal film inspiring copycats and imitators for years to come. But hey, it was pretty good.

In August, Marvel got back in the DtV games with the release of Next Avengers. Though this movie didn't really deliver on the for mature audiences theme, it was pretty well put together... even though once again, the movie seems like a pilot for a series rather than a stand alone. Still, old Hulk was great.

Though still to make its US debut, Wolverine and the X-Men has begun airing north of the border. From what I have seen this is a fantastic new series that may even surpass the previous X-Men toons.

Mr Bats also got a new show in the form of the team-up themed The Brave and the Bold. The series is off to an impressive start displaying a visually compelling style and scripts that improve on what very well may be Superfriends plots. In other words, there is no shortage of camp. In any case, Its nice to see guys like the Red Tornado and Blue Beetle finally get there moments in the spotlight.

Bolt is not really a superhero, but he plays one on TV. This Disney film took the Buzz Lightyear idea of not realizing the main character wasn't really super, and combined it with an Incredible Journey style animal trek. I haven't seen Bolt yet, even though it seems like I have from the description, but it has received a fair amount of praise so far. In spite of a mediocre opening, Bolt is gonna break the $100 million mark, besting Disney's last effort Meet the Robinsons.

On the other hand, the ultra goofy looking The Spirit is not getting the best reviews. The film debuted on Christmas Day and unless you think toilets are always funny, this may be one to avoid. Its got bomb written all over it.

Oh, and I almost forgot to mention, December also saw Marvels third try with The Punisher in Punisher War Zone. The sub $10 million take of this one should postpone Punisher 4 for at least a couple of years.

As 2009 ushers in, we shall all fondly remember you 2008. If nothing else, you were prolific indeed.

30 December 2008

Radar Blips - Tron

The Year: 1982

The Players: The man in the Iron Monger suit and Commander John Sheridan

The Take: $33 million

Whats a Tron?: Tron (short for elecTRONic) is the name of one of a computer security program designed to topple the evil Master Control Program (MCP).

Why you should see it: Computer animation sure has come a long way. Tron makes that very evident. This movie is a precursor to the matrix, in which a human enters into a computer reality to fight against an electronic authority. The coolest parts of the film, however, and the disk fight sequence and the light cycle battle. Even if Tron 2 has no plot at all but has an updated light cycle sequence fans should be satiated. The music is also unique and catchy.

29 December 2008

9 on 9-9-09

I'm glad they didn't wait until 2099 to release this just for an even more memorable release date. Looks good. Check here for my review of the original short film.

Radar Blips - The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

The Year: 2005

The Players: Tim from The Office UK, Mos Def, Jovie girlfriend to Elf, and of course Willow in suit voiced by Severus Snape

The Take: $51 million

Is there a lot of hitchhiking in this?: Not as much as you may think. The main character does a little hitchhiking when earth gets blown up * end spoiler. The guide is like a know-it-all computer that fill in the viewer on the background of strange galactic encounters.

Why you should see it: The scenes with the guide are pretty much the best part of the film. There is a lot of nonsensical whimsy that didnt seem to play out that well. The book on which this is based comes off a bit more clever. The over the top opening sequence of dolphins saying, "so long and thanks for all the fish" was another good takeaway moment. The trailer, presented guide style, is actually quite worth checking out. Too bad the movie wasnt more like the trailer.