12/30/2009

Avatar (2009) is a flawed, but gorgeous film with heart that revolutionizes cinema as we know it.

When my wife and I went to see the movies last Friday we ordered our tickets online, dropped our son at the babysitter and raced to the local Harkins cinema. We were convinced we were going to be in the front row, because everyone knows you don't go to a big movie less than an hour before show time. At T minus 45 minutes we nervously ventured into the theater...to find it virtually empty. Later, we found out the reason the place was empty.

Avatar is about a paralyzed war veteran, played by Sam Worthington, who volunteers to take his brother's place driving an "avatar," a biological robot, on a distant alien moon called "Pandora." The moon is inhabited by a ten-foot-tall hostile blue alien race, called the Na'vi, which is stopping them from mining "Unobtainium." He joins Sigourney Weaver's team of researchers trying to broker a peace treaty with the natives. When he gets adopted by the tribe, he falls in love with the princess Neytiri, played by Zoe Saldana, and joins them in fighting the corporation's attempts at forced re-location during some knuckle-biting action scenes. The film's plot is far from original, by taking Native American themes and setting them on another world, but it's the love story between Jake and Neytiri that holds the film together. Worthington and Saldana give many subtle movements and gestures that bring the characters to life and Cameron manages to find the universal themes in his story in a way that's entertaining and moving.

By the way, the reason the theater was empty was because everyone was in the 3-D showing. The bulk of ticket sales this past weekend are from the stereoscopic film viewings, 58% at last count, and we were behind the curve. I've been a huge skeptic of 3-D films, but when we went again this last Saturday I was shocked at how natural it was to watch a film in three dimensions. While nothing jumped out of the screen to demand my attention, the subtle depth of field made the experience extremely enjoyable. Already studios are scrambling to revamp upcoming films in 3-D and I couldn't be happier.

Overall the movie, with its themes of environmentalism, is engaging, powerful and visually stunning.




UPDATE: Shout-out to "The Sci-Fi Gene" for coming up with a title I wish I'd thought of " Flight of the Na'avigator [Review: Avatar].

We'd love to hear what you think of Avatar and 3-D movies in general? Let us know in the comments!
While I hate to talk about movies that aren't even filming, it's interesting to watch the Thor (2011) movie come together. So, here's what we have so far: Chris Hemsworth is the "Mighty Thor", and I'm presuming is bulking up to 300 levels of machismo ("This is Asgaaaard!"). Rene Russo is signed on to play Frigga, step-mother of Thor and wife of Odin. Sir Anthony Hopkins is almost a given as the powerful Asgardian king Odin, although I think he'll do a lot of hunching and whispering. Samuel Jackson has a cameo as Nick Fury, which makes sense since this is going to tie into the Avengers (2012) movie. Natalie Portman plays Jane Foster, who, in the comics, was the nurse of Thor's alter-ego Dr. Donald Blake and is guaranteed to be the love interest. Tom Hiddleston plays Thor's mortal enemy, the evil trickster Loki. Ray Stevenson plays Thor's fat drinking buddy Volstagg which should provide some comic relief . With this casting news, the movie is probably going to use the current origin of Thor as a Norse god cast down from Asgard to live among humans as Dr. Donald Blake. While it would make Stan Lee's cameo easier, if they use his inane secret identity as a comic book artist, I'm going to slit my wrists with a Trisket (I can't find any references to it, but trust me, it happened).

Do you think the Thor movie is going to be the bomb-diggity? Let us know in the comments!
[Image from Marvel.com]

12/28/2009

The Internet is full of lists of sexy babes in science-fiction, but who has time to go through them all and find the best ones? Apparently we do. Since we're not above the desire to generate traffic, we now present a list of the 21 best lists of women in science-fiction. We've tried to rate them based on content and, of course, picture quality. Some of these lists had ratings and some were just unordered lists. For the ones that didn't use ratings, we just figured they saved the best for last.

21 - A Pakistan News' "Sexiest Sci-Fi Women" is hilarious in its poor translation of English. The list is minuscule, listing only four women, but has the dubious distinction of being the most strangely worded entry in the list. Entries like "I’ve got to sit Number Six on this list. Number six is really a 10, his is a very complex character who just goes about as close to human as you can get without being human." There are no pictures, but it's hilarious.


Winner: Tricia Helfer, Number Six from "Battlestar Gallactica"

20 - Associated Content's "The 11 Hottest Women in Science Fiction" is a fascinating list, because even though the standard entries are there like Princess Leia, they added Marta Kristen from Lost in Space and Kari Wuher from Sliders. However, after seeing the word "sexy" for the 50th time, I think the writer could use a theasaurus. Here are a few suggestions: come-hither, cuddly, flirtatious, kissable, libidinous. There are no pictures, which I find odd since the title implies these women are the hottest.


Winner: Tricia Helfer, Number Six "Battlestar Gallactica"

19 - NiceGirl's TV's "The Women of Sci-fi" is alluring in that it's written by women. This means the list isn't based on how much the guy's hands tremble as he types, but on the inherent value of the woman to the genre. This leads to fascinating entries like Linda Hamilton from Beauty & the Beast, Yvonne Craig as Batgirl and Zoe Washburne in Firefly. Of course, the usual hotties make the list like Jessica Alba and Tricia Helfer, so there's something for everyone. Not surprisingly, there are no cheesecake pictures.


Winner: Diane Rigg, Emma Peel from Avengers

18 - Examiner's "The Most Beautiful Women of Sci-Fi" was also written by a woman, and she tries to capture multiple ages and types. It's a pretty good list of twenty-five women starting with Raquel Welch from Fantastic Voyage, and lists many unique entries like Linda Carter from Wonder Woman. A very well-thought out list, but lacking any photos. What's that, you say? No point in clicking on the link above? Well, fine. Skip to the next entry then.


Winner: Jeri Ryan, Seven of Nine from Star Trek: Voyager

17 - AOL Television's "Sexiest Sci-Fi Women in TV History" is a delicious listing of pretty much every popular woman in science-fiction. The list is good, but the pictures are horrible. The picture of Grace Park who played Boomer from Battlestar Galactica, elicited the comment, "I thought that was an old picture of George Takei for a second..."

Winner: Lindsay Wagner, Jaime Sommers from The Bionic Woman

16 - Mike Brotherton's "Six Sexy Smart Women from Science and Science Fiction" focuses on women in science-fiction that can actually carry on an intelligent conversation. This makes for a fairly short, but well-done list. Gillian Anderson tops the list, of course, but so does Kari Bryon from Mythbusters, and she's hardly science-fiction. Mike uses a mixed media approach and adds photos and videos for us to wistfully admire.

Winner: Alyson Hannigan, Willow from Buffy the Vampire Slayer

15 - Total Sci-Fi Online's "The 25 Women Who Shook Sci-Fi" chose women based on their impact on science-fiction and not necessarily their bust size. It's hard to deny Gillian Anderson (Dana Scully) proved geeks will accept an intelligent woman that isn't wearing a halter-top, but it's debatable how much Megan Fox changed science-fiction versus automotive maintenance. The pictures are good, but not great.

Winner: Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Ripley from Alien


14 - ShortList's "Sexiest Women in Sci-fi" uses an interesting twist by featuring videos of women we can ogle. The descriptions are very logical and very funny. Too bad there are only ten, but any list that has "The 50 Foot Woman" and Lora from Tron can't be bad. No minority women in the list, but that seems typical of science-fiction in general. This point brings us to number twelve.


Winner: Natasha Henstridge, Sil from Species

13 - First TV Drama's "Black Women in Science-Fiction" is a fairly old list, but does hit all the classics like Uhura and, the more obscure, Lt Maxwell (Gina Torres) from M.AN.T.I.S. The list is broken into three parts: shows with female main characters, recurring characters, then shows that have never had a black female main character. It's no surprise the third section is the longest part. There are a couple of pictures, but, sadly, none of any substance.

Winner: Josette Simon, Dayna Mellanby from Blake's 7

12 - HecklerSpray's "Top 13 Hottest Sci-Fi Women Ever" lists Princess Leia as the hottest woman in sci-fi, which is justifiable, but also has Ashley Judd's guest appearance on Star Trek: The Next Generation. I find this odd, since Counselor Troi was much more alluring. Overall, the videos are well chosen, but many have been removed and it's hard to ogle screencaps.


Winner: Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia from Star Wars: Return of the Jedi

11 - SciFi Babez' 10 Hot Sci-fi Babez Past and Present is a website devoted to "Sci-Fi Babez," so you'd figure they'd have a pretty good list. And they do have a good one, but it's awful short. A lot of popular entries show up and the descriptions are hilarious. We have to take a point off for choosing the over-saturated Megan Fox as the hottest, but we're willing to look past it since the added Zoe Saldana.

Winner: Megan Fox, Mikaela Barnes from Transformers

10 - Entertainment Weekly's "Sci-fi Hotties of '09" only deals with 2009, which proves this was a very good year. It's a short list of twelve women, but they make up for it with stunning pictures. They start with Tricia Helfer as Number Six, and end with Echo from Dollhouse. It also lists the robot Eve from Wall-E. I have no response for that.

Winner: Tricia Helfer, Number Six from Battlestar Gallactica

9 - FunnyTown's The 15 Sexiest Sci-Fi Babes adds a twist by showing tasty photos of them in and out of character. There are only a couple of surpises like Xev from Lexx, but it does have very engrossing descriptions and justifications. Good pictures and good women make good lists, my friends.

Winner: Milla Jovovich, Leeloo from The Fifth Element

8 - Radaronline's "Sexiest Women of Sci-Fi" is a list consisting mostly of bikini pictures. Since most science-fiction films don't take place on the beach, these are candid shots of the chosen actresses. Considering the site, this isn't surprising. This is one of those "cheesecake" lists, but it involuntarily proves that some women look better in clothes than out of them (ex. Charlize Theron). There are very few descriptions to distract us, so we have to make them up as we go along.


Winner: Uma Therman, Irene Cassini from Gattaca

7 - SciFiSizzle's Sexiest Women of Sci-Fi uses a community-based voting system that is very interesting, although it doesn't list either Princess Leia or Uhura, so it's kind of disappointing. The pictures are numerous and stunning. Oddly enough, the number one girl is from a low-rated television show named...what's that again? Oh, yeah. Andromeda. I can hear the echo from here.

Winner: Lexa Doig, Andromeda/Rommie from Andromeda

6 - Listal.com's "Hottest Women in Sci-Fi Past & Present" is another community-based list with great pictures, but no descriptions. It lists 35 women from Tess on Highlander: The Series to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. For some reason, it has seven entries for Buffy the Vampire Slayer, only three women from Star Trek and no Star Wars. I'll leave you to guess which Star Trek women made the list. Here's a hint: one rhymes with "heaven of fine."

Winner: Sarah Michelle Geller, Buffy in Buffy the Vampire Slayer

5 - Online Game Walkthrough's "Top 10 Sexiest Women in Science Fiction TV Series" is short, choosing to focus only on television, but features an inviting gallery of the actresses more than the characters they play. The pictures are large, glossy, and well-chosen. Overall, it's probably the most effective at inducing the intended "man-trance."

Winner: Claudia Christian, Susan Ivanova from Babylon 5


4 - B4tea's "Top Sci-Fi Sexiest Women Photos" is another top ten list which focuses on its core goal: showing seductive pictures of women. In fact, it shows several photos for each entry. The sweet "girl-next-door" pictures of Kaylee Frye from Firefly are my favorite. The top ten entry is kind of a cheat since any picture of Denise Richards (Starship Troopers) is going to be good, and the movie itself is notable as one of the worst book-to-movie translations ever made.

Winner: Denise Richards, Carmen Ibanez from Starship Troopers


3 - Den of Geek's "Top 50 Sexy Sci-Fi Costumes" takes a different approach by focusing on the provocative clothing on women. Which is a perfect excuse to list pictures of sexy women. There are many well-chosen entries like Ursa from Superman II, the green dancer from Return of the Jedi and obscure old movies like Love Factor. I'm not sure if James Bond qualifies as science-fiction, but we're not complaining.

Winner: Ornella Muti, Princess Aura from Flash Gordon

2 -UGO's Top 50 Hottest Sci-Fi Girls is one of the best lists out there. The pictures are fantastic and the entries are pretty comprehensive. It lists why the girls were chosen, and then what they'd like to see them do next. The obvious entries are there like Jessica Alba and Megan Fox - although she's number 50 - but there are a few surprises like Kelly LeBrock from Weird Science and Virginia Hey from Farscape. The fact that Virgina Hey is on so few lists boggles my mind, but I know the muppets put a lot of people off the show.

Winner: Carrie Fisher, Princess Leia from Star Wars

1 - Flixter's "Science Fiction Babes Through Time" is the winner because they list steamy women from over fifty years, sorted by decade, recognizing that these lists are a product of their generation. A fifteen-year-old might look at Raquel Welsh and think she's arousing as his grandmother, but drop a jaw at Jessica Alba. On the other hand, someone from the 80's might find Eartha Kitt inviting, but Megan Fox trashy. The descriptions are simple, but well-done and there are lots of gorgeous, well-selected pictures. As an added bonus, you can watch the clothing styles go from one-piece potato sacks to pasties and dental floss.

Winner: Sigourney Weaver, Ellen Ripley from Alien

While this is technically a list of other lists, we can extrapolate from the winners the following: Tricia Helfer is the hottest woman in science-fiction, with Carrie Fisher being a close second.

What do you think of the lists? Did they hit the mark?

[Images from avengers.tv, burntime and from their respective websites]

12/27/2009

Once again, as he did in Titanic, director James Cameron has sacrificed original storytelling and characterization for thrills and special effects in the new movie Avatar. Here are some quotes from the reviews:

I've complained that many recent films abandon story telling in their third acts and go for wall-to-wall action. Cameron essentially does that here... - Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times

Perhaps the most surprising thing about Cameron's visual accomplishments is that they are so powerful we're barely troubled by the same weakness for flat dialogue and obvious characterization that put such a dent in Titanic. - Calendarlive

The story is really nothing you haven’t seen before (a man trapped behind enemy lines goes native), some of the dialogue is clunky, and not all the characters are fully written. This is more a showcase for new technology than it is an attempt to push storytelling. - Premiere Magazine

Some people could accuse these reviewers of just missing the point of Avatar or picking on the movie because of its controversial director or all the other lines that Avatar-defenders throw out to any critics of the movie. What makes these quotes unique is that they can be found in the most positive reviews of Avatar. All three gave the movie an absolutely 100% perfect score. So if even the most ardent supporters of the movie didn't care for the storytelling, what does that mean for the rest of us?

What do you think of Avatar? Let us know in the comments

12/25/2009


[Pic of the Week from HotTopic]

Yes, the pic above is real. As much as I hate Snuggies (make that Snuggies for dogs specifically) the above image borders on the psychopathic. I like how the model is trying desperately to make it look cool by sporting metro-sexual hair and an erring. Sorry man. You're still wearing a Snuggie. This is what you get when you put Snuggies and Underoos in Jeff Goldblum's teleporter. On to the news. It's kind of a slow week really...
  1. With the upcoming remake of Clash of the Titans I'm getting nostalgic for stop-motion, which is why it's so cool that the original King Kong (1933) metal skeleton sold for $218,000. I would have paid twice as much.

  2. Pitch Black was a masterpiece, but Vin Diesel's Facebook updates on Chronicles of Riddick 3 scare me to death. The "sequel" was overblown and self-centered and I can't imagine the third one being much better. [ComicBookMovie]
    OVER/UNDER: Pitch Black made $39,240,659 at the box office. Chronicles of Riddick made $57,761,012 in ticket sales. Chronicles of Riddick 3 will follow the sequel rule (sequels make the at least one half more than the original), and make $87,000,000. Sad to say, I think it will be OVER, which means a pointless prequel will be made.

  3. I get tired of saying "women would never like this," so I'll just say that if you find any woman that thinks it would be cool to ride in the Bat-mobile Limousine to your wedding, propose immediately!

  4. The rumor that Kirsten Dunst might be cut out of Spider-Man 4 in favor of "Black Cat" has reared it's ugly head again. Once bitten, twice shy. If it's true: great. If it's not: let it go. [ComicBookMovie]

  5. The remake of Clash of the Titans is going back for reshoots with more money. This is usually a sign that the movie is lame (e.g. X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Dragonball), but I think its just because they're now planning a 3D release and want to add more shots of things pointing at the screen.

  6. With all the Avatar hype, I'd almost forgotten that once-upon-a-time James Cameron was working on the Spider-Man movie. A new book called "The Futurist: The Life and Films of James Cameron" points to a very different treatment than the one from Sam Raimi. An excerpt from the book says, "Cameron’s script treatment is darker and more adult than anyone expected from a comic-book movie in the 1990s... with Peter Parker [cursing]...Adult-oriented comic-book adaptations like Dark Knight and 300 found huge audiences more than a decade later, but Cameron’s writing was a dramatic departure from the accepted wisdom about the genre at the time." The franchise has gotten darker over time, but it makes me wonder what could have been. [/Film]
What do you make\think of our opinions? Let us know in the comments!

UPDATED: Mainly for grammar and spelling

12/23/2009

Let's say you want a miniature replica of the Bat-Signal that plugs into your computer's USB port and projects the signal onto the wall...and who doesn't? Well, you have a couple of choices. There's a miniature Bat-Signal available from bigbadtoystore.com for only $394.94. Then there's Instructables.com, where they have instructions on how to build your own miniature Bat-signal out of household materials for about four bucks. Hmmm, decisions, decisions. I guess the question is, how badly do you want that Bat-signal on your wall?

12/22/2009

We'd like to say goodbye to Brittany Murphy, a woman who has given more to the world of geek than most people realize. Brittany Murphy, who was complaining of flu-like symptoms for several days, died of natural causes from cardiac arrest on Sunday night. The 32-year-old actress started her path to geekville in 1995 when, after doing a string of teen television roles, she had a guest appearance on "SeaQuest DSV 2032" as teen love interest Christine VanCamp. She was made famous for several other roles like "Girl, Interrupted (1999)", the thriller Don't Say a Word (2001), the drama "8 Mile (2002) and the comic-to-film "Sin City" (2005). She did geeks another solid in "Futurama: The Beast with a Billion Backs" as the voice of the hysterical serial dater Colleen O'Hallahan. But, her greatest contributions were yet to come. I've been looking forward to the "2010" knock-off "MegaFault" (2009) for a while and she stars as the seismologist working with Eric La Salle to stop a massive earthquake from destroying the world. It will be bittersweet now.

Happy trails Brittany Murphy. You will be missed.

What do you think of Brittany Murphys death? Let us know in the comments.
[Image from wikimedia.org]

UPDATE: I was wrong about the 2010 knock-off. That was "2012: Supernova". Changed her cause of death to cardiac arrest.

12/21/2009

His MoMA Don't Dance and his Daddy Don't Rock N' Roll
We've been a fan of Tim Burton since "Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" and always enjoy his quirky view of the world. My personal guilty pleasure is to see all the bizarre, yet beautiful, sketches he does for his movies and see how closely he was able to capture them on-screen. I even liked "Planet of the Apes" for the ornate sketches he did on the costumes. So, it's with joy that I found out about his new exhibit "Tim Burton" at the "Museum of Modern Art". The show features over 700 illustrations, sketches, paintings, statues, photos, and films from his early days and work in Hollywood. It's wonderful to imagine his eccentric artwork surrounding you, from the mouth-like doorway to the statues and paintings. If anyone wants to fund a trip for me to go see this exhibition feel free to leave a nickel in the tin cup lying at my feet as I dance on the sidewalk.


Would you go to see this show? Let us know in the comments!
[Image from MTV]

12/20/2009

One of the true signs of the egomaniac is the failure to admit his or her own mistakes. I think there's no greater proof of Joss Whedon's egomania than his interview in the Chicago Tribune, where he tries to explain the failure of his sci-fi series Dollhouse. As I predicted in my earlier post, Whedon spends the entire interview blaming everyone and everything for the show's failure - with one notable exception. Here are some samples:
Basically, the show didn’t really get off the ground because the network pretty much wanted to back away from the concept five minutes after they bought it...Network television has taken great treads backwards in terms of dealing with sexuality or the body or anything...It’s the classic American double standard: torture -- great. Sex -- oh, that’s so bad!"...But ultimately most people [watch] TV shows going, 'OK, this is "Party of Five." I’m going to cry." And I’m not really good at that...
So let's review: The network is to blame, network television is to blame, American culture is to blame, the TV audience is to blame. You know who's not mentioned here? Joss Whedon. Nowhere in the interview does he address the real reason the show failed, which I addressed months ago: Dollhouse didn't have a hero the audience could root for. I actually enjoyed parts of the show, but found no real incentive to watch it every week. I couldn't say "I want to see more of Echo," because Echo changed every week. I couldn't say "I want to see what happens to Echo," because nothing ever happened to her that couldn't be fixed by putting her back in the chair and hitting the reset button.

A lot of Whedon's fans are swallowing the company line and wallowing in "blame Fox" rhetoric. That ultimately gets you nowhere. If Whedon wants to make a popular show later on, I would suggest he take an introductory class on creative writing. Anyway, it looks like Whedon has a golden parachute. He'll be pursuing other ground-breaking, thought-provoking, edgy, sexually provocative work like directing episodes of Glee. But wait...I thought Whedon wasn't good at that?

What do you think of Dollhouse's cancellation? Let us know in the comments.

12/18/2009



Pic of the Week from movie-moron.com

Again, we present our opinions on this weeks' top news.
  1. Bryan Singer, the director of the only good X-Men movies, has signed on to do "X-Men: First Class" and has ordered an entirely new script. The film, a prequel to the previous X-Men fims, will now focus on the relationship between Professor X (Charles Xavier) and Magneto (Erik Lehnsherr) and the development of the school for mutants. This film will now restore my faith in the franchise and finally remove the taste of bile that still lingers from seeing Hugh Jackman's naked butt. [/Film]
    TOSS-UP: If you had to replace Bryan Singer as the director who would it be: Tim Burton or Steven Spielberg?
  2. It's insanely cool that William Baldwin was almost cast as Schumaker's Batman. "I was one of Joel Schumacher's top choices" Baldwin said in an interview, "Monday morning, the headlines in the trades said that George Clooney had gotten the part. So apparently, I did actually come very close". He would have been awesome as Batman, but, I would pay a million dollars to watch Gary Busey. [Comic Book Movie]
  3. No woman will ever sleep along side a man in his bed shaped like the "Star Wars Millenium Falcon". Although, it would be perfect for my future "man-cave". [/Film]
  4. ODDMAKERS: What are the odds that the Predator motorcycle would beat the Giger Alien motorcycle? The Alien bike looks cooler, but I think it has too much wind resistance. I'd give the Predator bike at 80%.
  5. Roland Emmerich's "2012" is on track to be the highest grossing US film in China due to it's pro-China themes. Not to give away any spoilers, but China and the Chinese people pay a significant part in the story. Currently, the foreign film record is held by "Transfomers: Revenge of the Fallen" with $65.8 million (400m in local currency). This will inevitably lead to movie studios pandering to other countries to increase sales. I'm not looking forward to "Crouching Transformers: Hidden Dragon" or "Slumdog Superman".
What do you think of this weeks' news? Let us know in the comments!

12/16/2009




The first trailer for "Iron Man 2" is online and geeks everywhere are rejoicing. The Internet almost collapsed under the collective weight of all the announcements and reviews of the trailer last night declaring it "so kewl". One rule about trailers I follow is that good movies have trailers that focus on the plot, while bad movies have trailers with lots of shiny, pointy things. "Watchmen" is probably the best example of this. This trailer is almost entirely plot driven with some dancing hotties thrown in to keep the menfolk interested.  Here's the official synopsis:
"Paramount Pictures and Marvel Entertainment present the highly anticipated sequel to the blockbuster film based on the legendary Marvel Super Hero "Iron Man", reuniting director Jon Favreau and Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr. In "Iron Man 2", the world is aware that billionaire inventor Tony Stark (Robert Downey Jr.) is the armored Super Hero Iron Man. Under pressure from the government, the press and the public to share his technology with the military, Tony is unwilling to divulge the secrets behind the Iron Man armor because he fears the information will slip into the wrong hands. With Pepper Potts (Gwyneth Paltrow), and James “Rhodey” Rhodes (Don Cheadle) at his side, Tony forges new alliances and confronts powerful new forces."
Here's the plot of the trailer as far as we can figure out. Tony Stark, played by Robert Downey Jr., is under pressure to share his Iron Man technology with the U.S. government. A Russian, played by Mickey Rourke, with electric whips that cut cars in half, is out for vengeance on Stark for his past developing weapons. Don Cheadle, as the armored hero "War Machine", fights giant robots with "Iron Man". Scarlett Johansson, as Black Widow, is in the film beating guys up in a black skin-tight outfit.

There is already a shot-by-shot analysis of the trailer, and a million blog posts about it, so I won't bother to try to compete with that. However, I'll point out three surprises: One, Whiplash actually looks cool and dangerous. Two...Garry Shandling? Three,"War Machine" looks like one bad mother-hush-yo-mouth!
UPDATE: After watching the trailer a few times I had some more thoughts.

What do you think of the trailer? Let us know in the comments!
[Image from comicbookmovie.com]
There's an interview at Mania.com with Alan Moore that's causing a big stir out there in Geekland. In it, he goes off on his usual anti-comic industry rants. But the controversial thing to me is that a lot of it is right on the money. In a series, we'll be analyzing some of his points. In this third installment, let's take a look at the fate of the monthly comic book:
We are seeing the death of comics publishing as we know it. The pamphlets—the individual issues—are not selling. They haven’t been selling for years. The companies using them as a way of financing the eventual trade paperback. I don’t really see the traditional fare of the comics industry—which is, regrettably, superheroes—I don’t see that as being best suited to survive in a serious bookshop environment.

I agree with that. I haven't bought an actual monthly issue of a comic book on a regular basis in years. Besides the annoyance of spending ten minutes reading fifteen pages, then waiting another month to find out what happens, there's no way to justify the price at over three dollars a pop. That's true, especially when you could rent a two-hour movie for the same price. Besides, we all know the full run of any good stories will be collected in a cheaper and uninterrupted format in a year's time as a graphic novel.

Where is the future of comics headed? I personally think it can and should go to the digital format. Should have been there years ago. That, plus, stop publishing monthly comics. Publish graphic novels with full storylines, instead.

What do you think of Moore's comments? Let us know in the comments!

12/14/2009

Last year, DC announced that they were merging the Milestone Dakotaverse into the world of Superman. This is sad. Milestone truly lived up to it's name in comic book history as the first attempt - make that only attempt - to create a truly diversified comic book world made up of complex characters.

In 1993, during the heyday of independent comic book companies, a group of African-American artists and writers set out to create a series that would redefine minorities in comic books. While it was published by DC, the comics were completely independent. I fondly remember reading the first issues and it opened my eyes to the restrictive view of minorities in the medium. It spoke to me as an African-American in ways no one else had, and I was sad to hear of it's eventual demise in 1997. Static (renamed "Static Shock") came back briefly as an animated show in 2000 for four years, but then disappeared again. 

While it's nice to think of the characters coming to life again, it's virtually impossible for them to retain their soul. Why? Because mainstream comic books are written and marketed to American audiences and there's no marketing value in minority superheros. In comic books, minorities are treated like novelties because there's no money in it.  Minorities are usually reboots of failed white characters (ex. Mr Terrific, Firestorm) or sidekicks (ex. Falcon, Battlestar) and grateful to get any work at all. For now it looks like characters like Icon and Static will just be joining existing superhero teams like "Teen Titans" and "Justice League" and probably won't get their own series.

Maybe it will get better, but the fact that the only honest African-American superheroes are being bused into a larger comic book world to survive says something.
[Image from kevingarcia.livejournal.com]

12/11/2009

There's an interview at Mania.com with Alan Moore that's causing a big stir out there in Geekland. In it, he goes off on his usual anti-comic industry rants. But the controversial thing to me is that a lot of it is right on the money. In a series, we'll be analyzing some of his points. Second, let's take a look at his commentary on the "dark hero" trend that he started:
I suppose the thing to say about ...Watchmen...is that these books were not meant as the Bible. They were ways in which the superhero could be handled. They weren’t the only way. They weren’t meant as a Bible or a jail sentence. We were trying to have fun. ... I think, ultimately, that approach that I brought in—taking previously existing characters and reinterpreting them—has probably led to very grim and very un-enjoyable comic books. ... And, it seemed to me that people basically took from it what they were able to take from it—mostly a slightly depressing atmosphere and the idea that everybody had to be a grim, ruthless psychopath.
Amen to that. The trend in the nineties became making every comic all dark and menacing. The days of happy and fun superheroes almost vanished. Fortunately, that trend went out of favor, but the attitude is still there. They're even talking about making the movie version of Superman dark. Superman has always been a bright, shining light of hope in comics. To make him dark would be like making Batman light. And we all know how that worked out...Batman and Robin, anyone?

Pic of the week

This week's geek news is "Spider-Man 4" heavy, which shows I'm more excited about Spider-Man than I'd like to admit. In unrelated news, Paul Ruebens is making a new "Pee-Wee's Playhouse" stage show which proves his career has ended where it first began. I'm not sure if it's going to be as funny to see a 57-year-old guy prancing around in short pants.
  1. Sony CEO, Howard Stringer, says that the upcoming "Spider-Man 4" sequel will not be in 3D. I hope more studios fight against this trend since, most of the time, it's nothing more than a contrived stunt.
    TOSS UP: Which movie would you like to see remade in 3D: "Edward Scissorhands" or "Batman (1989)"?
    I vote for "Edward" since I'd love to see those scissors flying at the screen. Who would you vote for?

  2. McG says he's making two more sequels to "Terminator: Salvation". I'd worry about it, but, the film nuked the fridge with the Terminatrix anyway.

  3. "Iron Man 2" was voted as the most anticipated comic book movie of 2010 by the cutting-edge news website "Duh!".
    OVER\UNDER: The number of sites linking to the MTV post will top 1,090 by the end of the month. I say UNDER, since it's not really news. What would you say?

  4. Michelle Rodriguez', who stars in Avatar, talked about using props while filming CGI movies, and it's brilliant. She said, "You watch the first one ["Episode IV" in 1977] and I don't know how you feel, but I wonder, 'Why does this feel so much greater than the digitized world he [George Lucas] created now?' And I realize it's because of the props" Hopefully, more directors read it and listen to her words of wisdom. Plus, it calls out Emperor George Lucas.
     
  5. ODDS MAKERS: Joe Quesada, Marvel Comics' Editor in Chief, says the film based on the Nordic superhero "Thor" will "re-define what a super hero movie can be". What are the odds that he's right? Considering that "Batman Begins" already did this years ago, I'd say 45%. This is assuming that he means "redefined" in a good way, as opposed to "Hulk", which redefined superhero movies as artsy garbage. What do you think the odds are?

  6. Tobey Maguire whining about fighting to get one of the movie "Spider-Man" suits is ridiculous. First, the suits are each hand-made and cost  $100,000 apiece. Second, Sony already lost four costumes to theft and was probably skittish about giving away the ones left. Third, most superhero movie stars don't keep their costumes. Robert Downey Jr. had the same problem and he didn't whine to Oprah about it. Finally, the guy's already been paid over $36,500,000 for his roles and can afford to buy his own costume. Did he want them to throw in one of the movie sets too?
    ODDS MAKERS: According to rumors, John Malkovich and Anne Hathaway are joining the cast of "Spider-Man 4" as the geriatric villain "Vulture" and "Vultress". What are the odds that Dylan Baker (Dr. Curt Connors), will live to see his role as the reptilian "Lizard" make it into the "Spider-Man" films? I'm voting that the odds are low at 25%. It's been six years since the director, Sam Raimi, foreshadowed the coming of the Lizard and he obviously isn't keen to introduce him. Poor Dylan's had his arm strapped to his chest for almost a decade and still gets no respect. What do you think the odds are?
Respond in the comments! Do it now before your A.D.D kicks in!

12/09/2009

Why anyone would want a sequel to the horrible Will Smith homeless superhero film "Hancock" is beyond me, but the movie made $682 million dollars so someone must care. When news broke that they had solidified Will Smith and Charlize Theron's involvement in the sequel, everyone was excited. But, now, it looks like the movie is stalled by scheduling issues and I couldn't be happier.  Peter Berg said,
"There are so many people involved in that, from Will to his partner James Lassiter to Akiva [Goldsman] to Michael Mann, myself and to get us all in the same room just like this where we can all talk and then agree on anything, you've never met a group of people that have a harder time agreeing on anything. It's like the Israeli peace process times a thousand how tough it is to resolve."
On a positive note, if this movie does get made, it means peace in the Middle-East should be just around the corner.

What do you think of a Hancock sequel? Are you looking forward to it? Let us know in the comments!
[Image from justjared.buzznet.com]
Men watching "Avatar" will be hopelessly frothing at the mouth for James Cameron's CGI women. In an interview with Playboy magazine, Cameron said that men watching his new movie won't be able to help themselves from being overcome with licentiousness.
"They will have actual lust for a character that consists of pixels of ones and zeros. You’re never going to meet her, and if you did, she’s 10 feet tall and would snap your spine. The point is, 99.9 percent of people aren’t going to meet any of the movie actresses they fall in love with, so it doesn’t matter if it’s Neytiri or Michelle Pfeiffer."
He then goes on at length about the computer's nipples which, in 3D, should be interesting. Mr. Cameron, I've seen Neytiri. I've seen Michelle Pfeiffer. Mr. Cameron, she is no Michelle Pfeiffer. Frankly, those eyes give me the willies.
What do you think of Neytiri? Let us know in the comments!

12/07/2009

The international poster for the "Iron Man" movie - due May 7, 2010 - was released to Yahoo last week, and it looks awesome, but raises some questions. The idea of shortening the title to the sequel number is bizarre, but I guess they're hoping the designs are recognizable enough to speak for itself. For those not familiar with the characters, in the Marvel comics Tony Stark's African-American friend, Jim Rhodes, took on the role of Iron Man occasionally and became a super-hero called "War Machine".

The movie design of the "War machine" armor is darker, angrier and more functional than the sleek lines and bright colors of Stark's. Plus, the suit has a ginormous Gatling gun on the shoulder. I'm still skeptical that Don Cheadle will pull off the character as well as Terrance Howard, but we'll see. Cheadle has always struck me as an actor than seethes rather than explodes with anger, so it's hard to imagine him being as angry as Rhodes is portrayed in the comics. I'm guessing they're not going to go with the comic book incarnation of Jim as a cyborg, rather than just a guy in a suit.

It would have been nice not to have the black man in the background, but this is probably a reference to the story-line of the suit being created by Tony's business rival Justin Hammer (played by Sam Rockwell) and may indicate a rift between them. Otherwise, it's just another example of black superheroes getting second billing.
What do you think?

12/06/2009

This week begins a new series, Comic Questions. It examines some of the questions that comic book fans are reluctant to ask. This week, we take a look at the Bat-Signal.

Gotham City's police summon Batman with a spotlight that has Batman's symbol in the middle, known as the Bat-Signal.The Bat-Signal is one of the most iconic images from the comic books. Who can forget the dark, cloudy sky with Batman's symbol rippling across it, like a gigantic winged avenger soaring over the city? Of course, there's a glaring flaw with the Bat-Signal: it only works if there are clouds to reflect it off of. What happens to the Bat-Signal when there are no clouds?

In the comics, this is solved by always drawing Gotham City under a perpetual blanket of clouds. This is good for drama, but makes about as much sense as Gotham City's criminals only committing crimes at night. Unless Gotham City is some sort of meteorological freak of nature, it has to have a clear night sometime. If I were a criminal, I would plan my jobs on a cloudless night. You could hold half the city hostage and kill the other half and never worry about Batman, because he would never find out. Bruce Wayne's always tucked away in that mysterious castle miles from the city, brooding by a window.

Frank Miller must have realized this problem. Among the many revisions to the Batman mythos in his epic graphic novel, The Dark Knight Returns, he had the Bat-Signal reflected off of a skyscraper adjacent to the police headquarters. Good idea, although that means that Bruce Wayne always has to be at that exact angle to see it. If he's on the wrong side of town, he won't see it. At least, it works in clear skies, though.

12/04/2009


Pic of the week: "My Little Slave Pony"
  1. The first person to die on the Marvel Comics Theme Park Spider-Man ride will probably get a slew of goofy titled obituaries like "Web-head Kills Local Rider" and "J.J Jameson Was Right: Spider-Man is a Menace". Actually...those are pretty good, so I'm going to file those for a future post.

  2. After watching "The Greatest American Hero" on Hulu I had two thoughts: First, it's time to remake this series. Concept: A slacker encounters what he thinks may bee aliens and discovers a red leather costume that gives him superpowers. Since his laptop with the downloaded instructions is broken, he is forced to stop minor crimes till he can figure them out. My second thought is that the teacher\student sequences are about as dramatic as "Welcome Back Kotter". [Source: comicbookmovie]
    TOSS UP: If they do a hip-hop version of the original theme song should they use Jay-Z or Kanye West? Kanye would make it super-cocky, so I'd vote for Jay-Z to add some soulfulness.

  3. Based on the history of remakes, the new ending of "The Black Hole" remake will be even more confusing than the original. They died and went to heaven BTW. Ha! No spoiler warning there fool! Now I've ruined it forever! Mwuah-ah-ah! [Source: scifiwire]

  4. The Alien prequel may flesh out an interesting back story and bridge "Alien" to "Alien vs. Predator", but it's going to ruin the enigmatic feel of "Alien". [Source: slashfilm]

  5. TOSS UP: Giger or Schumacher's "Batman Forever" Batmobile?
    While Giger's looks cool, it's way too complicated and preternatural. I reluctantly have to cast my ballet for Joel.

  6. The image of Princess Leia tanning with her stunt double puts a Gamorrean Guard beatdown on every single picture on LeiasMetalBikini.com. [Source: scifiwire]
    OVER/UNDER: The image will get 6751 Diggs by the end of the month. I say OVER.

  7. With the "Red Hulk", "Red She-Hulk", "Savage Hulk" Skaar, Lyra and Hiro-Kala cluttering up the Marvel Universe, "The Fall of the Hulks" with finally put a end to the pandemonium.  This will leave only the original Green Hulk, Gray Hulk, Mr. Fixit, Doc Savage and She-Hulk, which is much cleaner.

UPDATE: The "My Little Slave Pony" is actually one of many ponies created by a talented artist, Spippo.  I like the "My Little Solo in Carbonite" the best. Thanks to Angie for the heads-up!
[Image from Spippo]

12/02/2009

This blog post deals with the most exasperating part of the show "Smallville": the cardinal rule of "No flights. No tights". When the show first aired, the producers, Alfred Gough and Miles Millar, felt their target audience wouldn't be able to accept a hero in a cape and tights. They wanted a hero that young people could relate to, and watching a guy fly around wearing spandex seemed preposterous. More importantly, the rule showed me they recognized that this was not Superman, but they wanted to show how he would become the hero we know. But, nine seasons later, we find the rule has become pointless. Fans are angered by the policy and the producers don't care about the spirit of the rule. But, since they made such a big deal about the rule, they can’t let it go. Clark wears a "costume" with the Superman symbol on it, has a secret identity of "The Red-Blue-Blur" and regularly fights for truth, justice and the American Way. So, here we have a TV series about Superman that doesn’t have Superman, which is pointless, stupid and lame.  By now, its clear the producers want to remake “Smallville” into an alternate reality of Superman. The show has sabotaged the continuity of Superman by guest starring the DC Universe every week to boost flaccid ratings. The saddest thing is that a few weeks ago I tuned in for "The Wonder Twins". So, it works I guess.
[Awesome custom figure image taken from Figurerealms]

12/01/2009

There's an interview at Mania.com with Alan Moore that's causing a big stir out there in Geekland. In it, he goes off on his usual anti-comic industry rants. But the controversial thing to me is that a lot of it is right on the money. In a series, we'll be analyzing some of his points. First, let's take a look at his commentary on modern comic book writers:
The people drawing and writing [in the 1960's] ... were often professional writers who happened to be making a living in comics.... Then, they were replaced in the middle ‘60s by basically fan-writers, some of whom were pretty good. But, it began a fairly incestuous process that meant that it was fans writing for fans who would be the next generation of creators.
I can't argue with that point too much. I mean, when you look at modern comics, a lot of it is way too circular. You know, like Wolverine having a flashback from fighting a villain who's the daughter of the villain that he fought twenty years ago. The original generation of comic book writers were inspired by classic literature, not comic books. For example, Stan Lee was inspired by Frankenstein and Jekyll and Hyde to create the Hulk. Contrast that with a modern villain like Victor Zsasz, who's just a garden-variety serial killer with a cutting obsession. Every good writer knows that diversity is where great ideas come from.

What do you think? Is the current crop of writers just as good or better than the old ones? Or do you agree with Alan Moore?

Next: Part 2, Psychopathic Superheroes

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