Archive for December, 2007
Filed Under superheroes
This week’s “Fringe Benefits” column is up on the Newsarama blog. It’s a review of Paul Jenkins and Chris Moreno’s Sidekick, which is a really funny superhero parody.
“I don’t usually like superhero parody a whole lot. It’s an overdone subgenre and most of the parodies I’ve read just repeat the same tired jokes endlessly. I’d list a couple of examples for you, but honestly it makes my head hurt to think about. I actually am pretty fond of superhero comics and dwelling on their worst qualities isn’t something I enjoy. If I find a particular aspect of superhero comics unappealing or ridiculous, I’ll just quit reading comics that have that trait. I certainly don’t want to read a parody comic that highlights it and makes it the center of focus.
“Sidekick isn’t that kind of parody. I actually had to think about the word “parody” for a bit to decide if it even applies to Sidekick, but I think it does. Certainly there are some fun, silly superhero comics that get inappropriately labeled as parody, but they’re more celebrating the genre than making fun of it. It’s the difference between laughing with someone and laughing at him. Let me repeat that it’s certainly valid to laugh at superhero comics; I’d just prefer that comics that do that be, you know, actually funny. And that’s what separates Sidekick from the usual parody.”
More at the link.
Filed Under charlie chan, i am legend, national treasure
National Treasure: Book of Secrets
National Treasure required a lot of suspension of disbelief. It was a fun movie, but you really had to let your brain go a bit to buy that the founding fathers went to that much trouble to hide the secret, Masonic treasure. All the clues leading to clues leading to more clues was fun, but a bit hard to believe.
Book of Secrets stretches credibility even further, starting with why Nick Cage gets involved in the first place. It’s supposedly to clear the name of an ancestor who’s recently been implicated in the assassination of Abraham Lincoln, but I don’t think you’re supposed to think that hard about how finding a lost City of Gold is going to do that. Just like you’re not supposed to think too hard about the even more ludicrous string of clues.
But if you’re willing to ignore all that, it is a movie about a bunch of treasure hunters looking for a lost City of Gold. And, like National Treasure, it’s got a great cast. All the original folks are back except Sean Bean, but he’s replaced by Ed Harris, which is a fairly even trade. And it’s got Helen Mirren as Nick’s mom. I could’ve sworn the first movie said she was dead, but going back and rewatching that scene just now, it’s really left open to interpretation, so no need to call the continuity cops.
Three out of five conspiratory presidents. (I give the original four out of five.)
I Am Legend
I let my hopes get raised by some friends who saw this before I did and loved it. Yes, Will Smith does a wonderful acting joy and it’s worth seeing just for that.
Unfortunately, the ending is completely changed from the novella and not for the better. The novella actually makes you ask some interesting questions about what it means to be human. This is just a Hollywood, feel-good ending.
It’s an okay Will Smith flick, but it’s not I Am Legend. Also, the mutants are boring.
Two out of five boring mutants.
Charlie Chan at Monte Carlo
Charlie Chan movies are fairly formulaic, but I like the formula. They’re usually about a bunch of rich people, at least one of whom has gotten him or herself into trouble with a murder and it’s up to Charlie Chan to figure out what really happened and save the day. I can see why the average moviegoer in the ’30s would’ve liked them. You get a glimpse at the glamorous, rich life, but you also see that rich folks have a lot of problems of their own. And it’s nice to see a friendly, man of the people like Charlie be the one to fix everything.
Monte Carlo isn’t any better or worse than the rest of Warner Oland’s Chan films, but all that means is that it’s a clever mystery and utterly charming.
Four out of five shifty-looking bartenders.
Filed Under buck rogers, frazetta
Okay, it’s officially low-content mode again. Sorry about that, but at least there’s still some nifty art, eh? Like more Buck Rogers from Frazetta courtesy of the indespinsable Golden Age Comic Book Stories.
Reviews, news, and whatnot will resume after Christmas.
Filed Under island adventure
I’m posting this after midnight, which means I’ve missed a day of posting. I don’t want to officially announce low-content mode yet, but as Christmas gets closer, that might become more likely.
Today’s art is another piece from Pulp of the Day.
Filed Under cloverfield, giant monsters, lord of the rings
It’s a few days old now, but there’s a nice, long preview of Cloverfield making the rounds. I was worried that they’d go for that grainy, amateurish, Blair Witch look, but it really looks good. And I love the man-on-the-street perspective. It helps you experience what it might actually be like in a giant monster attack. I’m hoping it’ll be to Godzilla movies what Marvels was to superhero comics.
My only concern is whether they’ll be able to keep that approach interesting for the length of a feature movie, but I tend to trust JJ Abrams. And director Matt Reeves is also doing a good job of making it sound cool.
Sounds like Peter Jackson is involved with the Hobbit movie again. At least as an executive producer, but they’re not saying that he’s not directing yet. And apparently they’re splitting the story into two movies, which bodes well for stuff like Beorn, Gandalf’s encounter with Thorin’s dad, and the Necromancer making it in.
Filed Under charlie chan, mystery
Behind That Curtain is the first non-silent movie to feature Charlie Chan. Actually “feature” is a strong word because Chan barely appears in it. He’s mentioned early on as a great detective who occasionally helps the movie’s main investigator and then he’s brought in for the ending, but most of the film follows Scotland Yard detective Sir Frederick Bruce.
Even though Chan doesn’t fit into it much, the plot is actually pretty cool. Or, it has the potential to be cool. Unrealized, but under different writers, it could’ve been really good.
A young heiress named Eve defies her controlling uncle and rejects her best friend in order to marry a louse named Eric Durand. As soon as they’re hitched, Durand moves her to India and begins boinking the help. Then Eve gets word that Durand may have been involved in a murder back in England, so when Eve’s jilted friend John, a world-traveling explorer, shows up in India, Eve leaves Durand and goes out into the desert with John. What adventures will they find? Will they find true love in each others arms? Is Durand really guilty of murder? It’s up to Sir Frederick to find out.
Unfortunately, none of the answers are nearly as exciting as the questions. Eve and John don’t really find adventure in the desert. Their time there is mostly spent lamenting their not being able to be lovers and John’s trying to convince Eve to stay with him. True love eludes them though because Eve’s a stupid decision-maker. Even the question of Durand’s guilt is never seriously in doubt.
Behind That Curtain could’ve been a cool movie, with or without Charlie Chan, but instead it’s a poorly executed, horribly acted mess. Lois Moran as Eve is especially bad. She delivers every line as melodramatically as possible, even for the ’20s. E.L. Park is a goofy, charmless Charlie Chan too, so that when he finally shows up, you wonder what the point is.
Boris Karloff does show up in a bit part as John’s manservant, but it’s the only exciting part of an otherwise disappointing movie.
Filed Under doctor strange
Not only does Daniel Danger have the coolest name in the world, he’s also got a kickass Dr. Strange poster for Gallery Nineteen Eighty Eight’s upcoming Tribute to Stan Lee exhibit.
(Thanks to my fellow ‘Ramablogger Kevin Melrose for the links.)
Filed Under black canary, darwyn cooke, wonder woman
I’m embarrassed to admit that I haven’t read Darwyn Cooke’s New Frontier yet. By the time I decided I wanted it (after seeing Cooke’s awesome stuff on The Spirit), the Absolute Edition had been announced and I’ve been saving up for that.
That doesn’t mean that the news about a New Frontier Special isn’t just as exciting to me though. Especially considering that Black Canary will be involved this time. Says Cooke, “J. Bone and I are tackling Wonder Woman, Black Canary and old school chauvinism in an New Frontier parody along the lines of the old Kurtzman/Wood Mad satires.”
Also included will be a Superman/Batman fight that’s “going to kick the hell out of those two,” and a Robin/Kid Flash story that pits them against “Red saboteurs.” Sounds good to me.
Filed Under friday night fights, hulk, thing
Our story opens as General Ross brings in the Fantastic Four to deal with a certain, jolly, green giant. It’s important to know that nobody’s figured out that the Hulk is actually one of Ross’ scientific team… yet.
But when the FF finally meet up with ol’ Jade Jaws, the Thing…
…starts to figure…
Uh oh, Hulk. He’s on to you. What’re you gonna do now?
Don’t worry though. Before long, everyone’s friends and the Hulk and Thing are comparing muscles.
Hulk… never change, buddy.
Check out Marvel Adventures Fantastic Four #29 for more smashy action.