Archive for the 'comic books' Category

09
Mar
09

Movie Review: Watchmen

watchmen_rorschach

 

Who watches the “Watchmen?” I did…

 

Stars Malin Akerman, Billy Crudup, Matthew Goode, Jackie Earl Haley, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Patrick Wilson, Carla Gugino, and Matt Frewer. Directed by Zack Snyder. Based on the graphic novel by Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons.

 

Loud, brash, abrasive, violent, brutal, gorey, slick, sexy, and a bit underwhelming.

 

“Watchmen” (based on the graphic novel I previously reviewed) is set in alternate 1985. The U.S. won the Vietnam War (with the help of Dr. Manhattan). Richard Nixon is on his fifth term of office. At any moment we could be swapping nukes with the Russians. And in New York City, a Comedian dies…

 

So goes “Watchmen,” the latest superhero/graphic novel adaptation from acclaimed graphic novel adapting filmmaker, Zack Snyder. For those who don’t know (or read the title cards in the trailers) Snyder is responsible for the film adaptation of “300,” a graphic novel by Frank Miller. Ever the technical director, Snyder ups the ante with his take on the acclaimed Moore/Gibbons series.

 

Before I go too much further, I finally figured out what a “fanboy” or “fangirl” is. These are the people who turn out to see these movies on the sheer fact that what they’re watching is based on the comic book/graphic novel. This is ultimately their movie.

 

And for them Snyder delivers. Snyder takes literal adaptation to the next level by making sure that the film looks EXACTLY like the graphic novel in every frame possible. If you just wanted to see this achieved, then here you go.

 

If you liked “300,” or Zack Snyder as a director, or love comic book movies no matter what (and I cannot stress that enough), then this is your movie. Have at it. Enjoy.

 

Still reading? Good.

 

“Watchmen” fails on the account that Snyder doesn’t understand nuance. Or breathing room. Or the fact that just because you wanna make a carbon copy of something the acclaim of the source material will shine down upon you, because it won’t (see: Gus Van Sant version of “Psycho”) Through this movie I have learned the reason why the “boring parts” in books and movies exist: because we, the audience, need a moment to process what just happened.

 

For those who have read the graphic novel, do this: take out all scenes centering around the man and his newsstand. Take out all of the “Tales of the Black Freighter.” Take out all the newsclippings, sections from “Hooded Justice,” and anything remotely literary. What you have left is the “Watchmen” movie.

 

And on that note Snyder is a success, although I think that removing allegory, nuance, paranoia and subtlety in favor of slick brutality and violence isn’t much of a success, but then again I don’t have his bank account. The one thing I will give him credit for is the opening; a montage of events surrounding superheroes caught in 3-D slow-mo. I also thought his ending worked better than the “giant psychic squid” of the graphic novel.

 

As for the rest, it was difficult for me to care. I loved Rorschach in the graphic novel; a post-40’s detective that nobody likes solving a murder no one cares about and finding the answers reveal something more sinister. While the same is achieved in the movie, Snyder does not allow for the same breathing room as the comics and forgoes the noir tone for action/adventure. Imagine a movie like, “Chinatown,” with most of the investigating removed.

 

“Watchmen” writer Alan Moore had his name taken off of this and refuses to acknowledge the movie, citing it as “unfilmable.” Maybe it’s because previous works, “From Hell,” and “V for Vendetta,” weren’t faithful to his vision. Having read the graphic novel, I entirely understand. But I hope he gets some of the royalties…

 

My grade :B (based on technical achievement)

 

 

02
Mar
09

Book Review: Watchmen

A review of the “Watchmen” graphic novel.

See more at http://www.associatedcontent.com/article/1525296/book_review_watchmen.html

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20
Jan
09

Movie News and Views January 20, 2009 Inaugural Poster Edition

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All the movie news fit to blog!

 

         Good news for Zack Snyder/ “Watchmen” fans. Warner Bros. and Fox have reached a settlement over the movie. For those who don’t know the backstory Warner Bros. gave the go-ahead to do a “Watchmen” movie. Late in the game a contract was found dating back to the Nineties which showed that Fox had distribution rights on the graphic novel. Fox threatened to halt distribution while the WB was too far into production to stop the movie (i.e. it was almost in post). The settlement is reportedly $5-$10 mil from WB upfront to Fox, then an additional 5-8% of the theatrical gross.

         A new prequel for “The Thing” will involve what happened to the Norwegian scientists (who were dead at the beginning of John Carpenter’s “The Thing.”)

         Keanu Reeves has been confirmed for the “Cowboy Bebop” movie.

         Sam Rockwell and Mickey Rourke will be in “Iron Man 2.”

         Joaquin Phoenix has officially left acting to be a rap star. Chronicling his adventures on video is his best friend Casey Affleck.

         J.K. Simmons will reprise his role as J.J. Jameson in “Spidey 4.”

         Reshooting on the upcoming “Wolverine” movie DOES NOT mean previous shooting went bad. Several actors’ schedules couldn’t clear until now.

         Roland Emmerich (“Independence Day,” “The Day After Tomorrow”) is slated to direct Isaac Asimov’s “Foundation” trilogy.

         Pioneer will stop making Laserdisc players after 3000 for the year. This is surprising since I didn’t realize the players were still being made, and a movie hasn’t been pressed on LD since 2000.

         Samuel L. Jackson may not play Nick Fury in the upcoming “Nick Fury” and “Avengers” movie. Apparently, contract negotiations have broken down due to the paycheck Jackson was requesting.

         Jackie Chan will play “Mr. Miyagi” in the “Karate Kid” remake starring Jayden Smith (Will Smith’s son).

         “Transformers 2” info: The Decepticons will use Devastator (from the Constructicons) and the Autobots will use Superion (constructed from the Aerialbots).

         Warner Bros. has put DC Comics movies on hold.

         The next Superman movie will have a new villain.

         Relative Media has purchased Rogue Pictures from Universal.

         A homeless man was cast in Guy Ritchie’s “Sherlock Holmes” movie.

         Bollywood is set to remake “Back to the Future.”

         “The Terminator” has now been submitted for preservation in the US Film Registry.

         Jay Mohr changes his name to Jay Ferguson Cox Mohr, due to his wife Nikki Cox.

         Bruce Boxleitner and Jeff Bridges will return for the next “Tron” movie.

         VHS is done. The last movie to be released on it was “A History of Violence.”

 

 

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01
Jan
09

Movie Review: The Spirit

spirit

 

 

My movie screens and I am her reviewer.

 

Starring Gabriel Macht, Jaime King, Eva Mendes, Scarlett Johansson, and Samuel L. Jackson. Directed by Frank Miller. Based on the graphic novel by Will Eisner.

 

I expected it to be stylized, but didn’t expect it to get boring.

 

Story: It’s Central City. Think Basin City from “Sin City,” but with no anima. Denny Colt (Macht) is a cop who is shot in the chest and dies, only to be miraculously resurrected and take the form of masked crime-fighter “The Spirit.” His arch-nemesis is “The Octopus” (Jackson), a former coroner turned mad scientist/ criminal mastermind. When a cop is all but murdered “The Spirit” is on the case: a case of switched cases. He soon runs into old flame-turned-jewel heist queen Sand Seref who got the box containing a vase holding blood of Heracles (or Hercules, if you will) when she wanted the case with the “bling”: Jason’s Golden Fleece. Eventually this all gets sorted out. Eventually.

 

I wasn’t expecting much from this movie, but even with lowered expectations this movie slips under the bar. For what it’s worth the movie isn’t so much bad as it is boring. We’re treated to an alternate-now detective story where the characters act as if they were plucked straight from a 1940’s film noir. Or maybe it IS the 1940’s and some dimensional portal gave them cellphones, copiers, assault rifles, and helicopters. Either way, “The Spirit” takes place in this world and apparently people are few and far between. Aside from cops and crooks, very few people seem to exist in the sprawling mecca of Central City.

 

“Spirit” himself comes off as Clint Eastwood when he narrates but when he’s doing his job is basically no more than what he was when he died: a rookie cop. Only now he can get shot, hit, hurt, etc. and heal from the wounds. How is this possible especially when every time he thinks back, every time he blacks out, death/ Lorelei (King) is waiting to claim him? Well, that’s all due to the Octopus.

 

And The Octopus is busy finding the key to immortality (the blood of Heracles). With the help of his assistant Silken Floss (Johansson) and always-replenishing clones Pathos, Logos, etc. (Louis Lombardi) he plans on achieving it. Problem is that his henchmen are morons that he keeps killing off only to create more. Oh yeah, and believability.

 

This is the type of movie that I wonder if the actors involved even bothered watching it. There’s one point in the film where The Spirit is tied-up and The Octopus and Silken Floss are marching around in Nazi uniforms. And The Octopus’ ensemble is complete with a monocle. Seriously. Jackson has done worse I suppose but I wonder if Johansson watched it and thought, “maybe ‘Eight-Legged Freaks’ wasn’t as bad as I thought.”

 

Note: The above scene also contains a line where the Spirit asks, “I can be bored, can’t I?” Well yes you can. But I paid $9 and it wasn’t expecting to be.

 

For the most part, Miller did a good job on the “look” of the film. Yes, it does feel a little like “Sin City.” Yes, you made the actors and CG look nearly seamless. Yes, Eva Mendes is hot while she is scantily clad when everyone else in the scene is dressed for below-zero temperatures.

 

My grade: C

01
Jan
09

Movies on DVD Review: Hancock

hancock

 

A superhero mess of a movie.

Starring Will Smith, Justin Bateman, and Charlize Theron. Directed by Peter Berg.

I’m glad I didn’t shell out money on this one.

Story: $mith is Hancock, an alcoholic, washed-up amnesia-victimized superhero living in L.A. who causes more harm and damage than good. When he saves the life of PR professional Ray Embrey (Bateman), Embrey decides to return the favor by representing Hancock. Hancock begins to clean up his act, starting with voluntary jail time. When crime rises 40%, the city calls Hancock back into action. After, he finds out a secret from Ray’s wife Mary (Theron) that threatens the Embreys as well as himself.

The movie can be divided into three parts, as I will demonstrate:

Part One: Everything you saw in the trailer. Everything. If you saw it in the trailer or on a TV spot, it’s within the first third of the movie. $mith is a drunken superhero. $mith saves lives but at a giant cost. $mith saves Bateman. Theron stares at $mith weirdly.

Part Two: Hancock tries redeeming himself. This was the best part of the movie in my opinion. $mith tries being nicer. He goes to jail. He’s released and saves the day with minimal injuries. Everything is going well until…

Part Three: The ‘plot twist.’ In a way that only M. Night Shamma-lamma-ding-dong can appreciate, $mith finds that he’s over 3,000 years old and was married to Theron, who is also a superhero. They have a gigantic fight that goes from the mountains to the middle of L.A. Meanwhile, a group of cons escape prison. $mith ends up in the hospital Theron tells him that as long as they’re near each other, their powers diminish. The convicts find them and war breaks out in the hospital. Theron is shot and nears death, $mith stops the convicts and flies away. Eventually, everything gets better.

The biggest problem with this movie, aside from the structure, are the leaps in logic (what is commonly referred to as “suspension of disbelief”). In the Information Age, why couldn’t he find out who he was by going to the library? Wouldn’t there be public records, newspaper articles, something to remind him of who he was? Secondly, if Theron and $mith become mortal by being around one another, why did Theron leave only to “pretend” to be mortal around Ray and his kid?

But maybe the biggest crime is having a superhero movie without an arch-nemesis. Three convicts escape prison to go and kick Hancock while he’s down? What kind of bull is that? Yeah, I saw “Superman 2” and while Superman gave up his powers and was mortal he did it with conviction and he paid for the consequences; it was a choice he made, not a “by the way, check this out” convenient plot point. Wait a moment… “Superman 2” had three escaped convicts who took on the Man of Steel while he was mortal. Thieves! You screenwriting THIEVES!

And yes, the “plot twist” is an interesting concept, but in the movie it felt extremely B.S.

Sadly, $mith is working on the sequel to this.

My grade: C-

29
Dec
08

Is Kevin Smith Still Relevant?

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Writer, director, and comic book artist Kevin Smith came into the Entertainment Scene in 1994 releasing his first film, “Clerks,” about a Quick Stop convenience store employee who was dealing with relationship problems while having problems with customers. Using credit cards and money borrowed from his family, as well as shooting at the Quick Stop where Smith worked during nights and in-between customers, the movie was an epitome of the Independent Films of the Nineties and traveled the film festival circuit before being picked up by Miramax, which gave him money to shoot additional scenes as well as pay for music rights (which cost more than the film itself).

 

The next year Smith received a bigger budget and made “Mallrats,” a movie about comic book-loving slackers who are dumped by their girlfriends and seek refuge at the local mall. This film featured a few people from “Clerks,” most notably the duo Jay and Silent Bob (Jay Mewes and Kevin Smith). The film’s budget was $6 million and brought in $2.1 million; a nearly critical failure for Smith. The best thing to come from this movie was that it was Jason Lee’s debut, who went on to do more Kevin Smith movies as well as the film “Almost Famous” and the hit NBC series, “My Name is Earl.”

 

Smith redeemed himself with the follow-up, “Chasing Amy” (1997) Ben Affleck starred as Holden McNeil, a comic book artist who falls in love with a lesbian comic book artist played by Joey Lauren Adams. The movie was a critical hit for Smith, being better received than “Clerks” and especially “Mallrats.”

 

From that point Kevin Smith climbed the filmmaking ladder with follow-up hit, “Dogma.” Smith had gained more “star power” with casting Linda Fiorentino, Alan Rickman, Chris Rock, Salma Hayek, George Carlin, Janeane Garofalo, and Alanis Morissette. Made on a budget of $10 million, it earned most of it back within its first weekend ($8 mil). Controversy from the Catholic Church surrounded it, possibly driving more people to go and watch it.

 

With the characters Jay and Silent Bob, as well as the inter-weaving of stories through Smith’s “View Askew Universe,” it was only fitting that Smith’s next film was, “Jay and Silent Bob Strike Back,” following the two convenient store misanthropes as they head to Hollywood to stop production of a Bluntman and Chronic movie. Smith has called it a “$15 million inside joke,” making it for the fans and to tie-up any loose-ends of the “View Askew Universe.”

 

And with the finalization of “Jay and Silent Bob…” Smith was closing a chapter on what made him famous: slacker characters and “dick and fart jokes.” As quoted by Ben Affleck: “Why in God’s name would I wanna keep writing about characters whose central preoccupations are weed and dick and fart jokes? I mean, ya gotta grow man. Don’t you ever want anything more for yourself?” Kevin Smith did, and walked away from the characters in View Askew.

 

Three years later Smith returned with “Jersey Girl.” Most the fanbase, reared on “Jay and Silent Bob” as well as Smith’s dialog (read: cussing and weed, dick, and fart jokes) turned away. The reasons differed, but most of the reasons stem from Ben Affleck’s relationship with Jennifer Lopez. To his credit, Smith made a good film. Not great, and not what he had built his career on, but it showed that Smith’s “Peter Pan” syndrome was well behind him.

 

Or so it seemed.

 

Sans any good ideas, Smith returned to his roots: “Clerks.” Cashing in on “sequel-itis,” “Clerks II” showed slackers Dante and Randall having to find jobs after the Quick Stop catches on fire. Here Smith returns to what made him popular: the View Askew Universe of characters. While the film did make its money, “Clerks II” was a far cry from Smith’s previous VA Universe ventures.

 

Which brings me to “Zack and Miri Make a Porno.” Greenlit by the Weinsteins before Smith had even written the script, “Zack and Miri” follows as two lifelong friends, strapped for cash, make a porno. Reportedly, this was based on Smith’s experiences in making “Clerks.”

 

And it’s this stagnation that makes me question Kevin Smith as a filmmaker. Ever since Smith has “struck out on his own” from the View Askew-verse, his road has been worse than a flat tire forced across speedbumps. I will give him credit for “growing up” and making “Jersey Girl,” and accept why it wasn’t as popular as his previous entries. However, he has mined the “Clerks” shaft all the way to China. He made a “Clerks” animated series, released a special “Clerks X” DVD with commentaries, original version, etc., and made a sequel not even as good as the original (which, in the world of his characters, requires chastising). Harlan Ellison once said that, “Gene Roddenberry had only one good idea in his lifetime, and that was ‘Star Trek.’” It seems that “Clerks” may be Smith’s “one good idea.”

 

If I had one thing to say to Mr. Smith, it would be, “Yes, I know that you LOVE ‘Star Wars’ and ‘Indiana Jones.’ We GOT that. Can you please move on?” I don’t mind the occasional reference to the series, I love them myself, but how many references to Spielberg and Lucas do you need? For God’s sake man, we get it!” And you can only keep profane language, comic book references, weed, dick, and fart jokes going for so long.

 

So, I’m opening this up for discussion. Is Kevin Smith still relevant? Is he still a filmmaker to be admired, or are his fifteen minutes up? Give me your thoughts.

 

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12
Dec
08

In Passing… Forest J. Ackerman (1916-2008)

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Sci-fi enthusiast, editor, agent, magazine publisher and movie memorabilia collector Forest J. Ackerman passed away on December 4, 2008 at the age of 92. Ackerman was known for having the largest collection of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror movie memorabilia; housing 300,000 items (50,000 of them books) in his 18-room house he dubbed “The Ackermansion.” In 2002, due to financial straits from court cases, he moved into a smaller home, but each Saturday would still open his home to visitors wanting to see his collection.

 

Ackerman was born in Los Angeles and by the age of 8 fell in love with science fiction which at that time was in the form of a magazine called “Amazing Stories.” As he grew up he started science fiction fan clubs, worked as a movie projectionist, and even enlisted in the Service. Upon his return he invested further interest in science fiction, notably by mentoring Ray Bradbury and introducing him to Robert A. Heinlein, Frederic Brown, and Jack Williamson. He also gave Bradbury money to start a magazine called “Futuria Fantasia.” In 1958 he started his own magazine, “Famous Monsters of Filmland,” introducing the history of sci-fi, fantasy, and horror to readers. The magazine ran until 1983.

 

Above all things, Ackerman was one of the biggest fans of science fiction and an inspiration for those in the genre including George Lucas, Steven Spielberg, Tim Burton, Stephen King, Danny Elfman, and John Landis, among others. He was also the literary agent for Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov, and numerous others. Lastly, he has appeared in several movies such as “Queen of Blood,” “Dracula vs. Frankenstein,” “Amazon Women on the Moon,” “Vampirella,” “Transylvania Twist,” “The Howling” and Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video.

 

Thoughts and prayers to his friends.

 

For more information, click on the link below:

http://profile.myspace.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=user.viewprofile&friendID=67699686