Archive for the ‘fantasy’ Category
Filed Under avatar, fantasy, kate beckinsale, lost, warrior women, whiteout
Action Girl Pulp of the Day
By Arnold Kohn.
Season Five cast photos have been released. You can see the guys too over at Grant Gould’s LJ.
Kalinara picked up on something I totally missed when I mentioned the casting for the live-action Avatar movie. The Avatar heroes aren’t white.
The Evolution of Women in Fantasy Movies
AMC has a brief survey of the role of women as they’ve appeared in fantasy films, starting with Jason and the Argonauts and moving towards Stardust. It’s not a deep article, but their choices of representative films are interesting.
CBR has a couple of new stills from Kate Beckinsale’s Antarctic murder mystery, Whiteout. You gotta scroll past the Watchmen ones to get to them though.
Filed Under fantasy, femme noir, jungle
“Orphan of Atlans”
By Robert Gibson Jones.
Zegra, Jungle Empress
Download the issue here.
Femme Noir #4
The jungle girl issue, with a variant cover by Mike Wieringo. Chris Mills has the skinny on lots more Femme Noir plans, including a Free Comic Book Day short story, the book collection of this first mini-series, and a print collection of the original web comics. Lots of good stuff coming.
Filed Under fantasy, space girls
I’m headed to Nashville for a wedding this weekend, so content will be tiny. I should have enough scheduled though to have at least something up every day while I’m gone.
Today, it’s links to Golden Age Comic Book Stories’ galleries of Planet Stories covers. I don’t know a lot about Planet Stories, but apparently they weren’t afraid to have women kick some butt on their covers instead of just fainting or cowering from evil robots and aliens. Here are a couple of samples, but there’s a lot more Action Girliness in the links.
Filed Under burn after reading, captain cook's extraordinary atlas, fantasy, giant monsters, hulk, jessica hickman, john carter of mars, maps, middleman, robin hood, she-hulk, spies
Burn After Reading poster
From the Coen Bros. upcoming spy comedy. Gotta love that Saul Bass-inspired design.
Game of Thrones TV Show
I couldn’t make it through the first book, but it looks like progress is being made on getting the story to me in a different form (because it’s all about me). Novelist George R.R. Martin has the update.
I’ve been watching ABC Family’s new, comics-inspired series Middleman. It’s too soon for a full review, so I’m just saying here that it’s pretty awesome. The characters are charming and funny, the dialogue is clever, and the plots are insane. The pilot episode featured Chloe from 24 as a scientist whose supercomputer took over a gorilla’s brain and turned him into a Tommy gun slinging mobster.
The only complaint I have is the Power Rangers-quality effects. I’m gonna stick with it a while and see if I can get past that though because otherwise I love it.
My friend and sometimes collaborator Jess Hickman was recently interviewed about her work on volume 3 of Otis Frampton’s Oddly Normal series of fantasy graphic novels.
Essential Giant Monsters
I see enough Top Ten Giant Monsters lists that I don’t usually link to them (or many other Top Ten lists at all, for that matter). Robert Hood’s list is different. Rather than just assigning personal rankings to the multitude of giant monsters in the world, he’s created a comprehensive list of what he believes are the essential movies in the giant monster genre. It’s quite a check-list and would provide a good year’s worth of viewing material for anyone hoping to see them all.
Here’s a Top Eight list I can get behind though
Topless Robot’s Top 8 Coolest Sesame Street Toys Ever. Admittedly, it’s a nostalgia thing. I had and wore out nos. 1, 4, 6, and 8 as a kid.
The Lies of Locke Lamora
This is the second recommendation from the friend who also told me about Peter David’s Tigerheart (which I picked up from David at Wizard World Chicago, by the way). My friend describes The Lies of Locke Lamora as a cross between Ocean’s 11 and Robin Hood with some fantasy elements thrown in. Sounds good to me. (Although I much prefer the cover I posted to the garish one on the US mass market paperback.)
Captain Cook’s Extraordinary Atlas
ABC is developing a show about a girl who finds an atlas of a secret world underneath our own. Whether or not the Harry Potter and Pan’s Labyrinth comparisons are justified, it sounds tailor-made for me. And it stars the little girl from Silent Hill.
New Hulk cartoons
It was inevitable. And bring ‘em on, I say. Even the Gamma Corps one where he’s leading She-Hulk and Doc Samson into battle.
John Carter movie “update”
Not really an update; just a reminder that the format of the developing John Carter of Mars movie could be anything. Live action, 2D cartoon, computer animation… nothing’s been ruled out. According to writer/presumed director Andrew Stanton, that will all be determined by the eventual script.
Filed Under fantasy, narnia
So now we’re in new territory for me with the Narnia series. I’d read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a kid and knew something of what to expect from the movie, but Prince Caspian was a whole, new thing. Unfortunately, I had basically the same reaction to it as to the first movie.
MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW.
You can’t get away from the Lord of the Rings comparisons in your head, especially when walking trees join a battle or the bad guys start to cross a river and the water begins to magically rise. And I don’t think it’s unfair to make those comparisons anyway. Disney certainly meant for the Narnia series to help cash in on the Lord of the Rings craze, so it’s perfectly appropriate to hold these movies up to that standard.
Of course I understand that Lewis was trying to do something very different from Tolkien. The two even argued about whose approach was better. But I side with Tolkien in that discussion and even if I didn’t, there’s just no matching what Peter Jackson did with those movies. Nothing will ever be that good again.
Though Prince Caspian was marketed a little darker than Wardrobe, it’s got the same kids-movie feel. There’s plenty of hacking and slashing, but no blood. I didn’t want gore, but it didn’t have to be as sterile as they made it. And at times, it gets downright ridiculous. Look, I love Susan and would love to see her kicking more butt in hand-to-hand combat instead of just shooting arrows all the time, but having her knock out soldiers by hitting them with her bow is silly. They went so far in trying to make it kid-friendly that it pulled me out of the action. So much stabbing was going on off-camera that I couldn’t tell when main characters were being wounded.
But that’s not the worst of it. Something else that kept yanking me out of the story is Lewis’ need to make theological points with the plot. That’s the thing I alluded to earlier that Tolkien also didn’t care for. I don’t know what Tolkien’s specific issues were with Lewis’ style, but in Caspian at least there’s a general problem with manipulating the story to fit the theology. Aslan can’t reveal himself to anyone unless they seek him, because that’s how God works. I appreciate the commentary on the nature of faith – truly I do – but it doesn’t make any sense in the story. All we’re given by way of explanation is some vague rule about how “things never happen the same way twice.” Whatever, Aslan.
And the ending…
I can take a downer ending if the story calls for it. I usually prefer a happy ending, but if Hamlet’s got to die to make the point and the whole story has been moving in that direction, so be it. But there’s no reason to send the kids packing back to England at the end here. In the last movie, they got to stay and grow up and have many other adventures together. Why do they get kicked out this time? Oh yeah, “things never happen the same way twice.” How frustratingly arbitrary.
Especially for Peter and Susan who are told they never even get to come back because they’ve “learned everything Narnia has to teach them.” What is that supposed to mean? And it especially especially sucks for Susan who’s fallen for Caspian and why can’t she stay with him instead of going back to England where the nerdy stalker awaits? ‘Cause Aslan says so, that’s why. Maybe there’s some kind of lesson there about questioning God, but leave it out of my fairy tales. Or at least bother to make it make sense in the context of the story you’re telling.
‘Cause except for those two, major problems, Prince Caspian is a very fine fantasy story. I love the Narnia that Lewis has created with all its talking animals and minotaurs and werewolves and dwarves and ice queens and Santa Claus. I love the explanation about where Caspian’s people came from. I love the battle scenes and Peter’s nicely choreographed duel with Caspian’s uncle. I love the extremely powerful and effective White Queen cameo. I love Eddie Izzard as the voice of the chivalrous, swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep. I love swashbuckling mice. I love Liam Neeson and Peter Dinklage and Anna Popplewell. I love the kids’ (especially Peter’s) not being able to adjust to life as young children in England with the memories of having grown old in Narnia. I love that Edmund has learned that it’s better to trust Lucy. I love that castle and the storming of it. I love that water giant.
So much to love. I just wish they’d let me focus on those things all the time instead of bloodless battles and stupid rules about magic.
Three out of five swashbuckling mice.
Filed Under barbarians, black canary, fantasy, frankenstein, futurama, hellboy, julianne moore, mermaids, pulp, undersea
I’ve been struggling to get posts up over the last couple of days, but that’s actually good news because I’ve seen forward progress on a few projects and have had to spend time thinking about and working on them.
Just to get something up today while it’s still today, here are a few more items from the enormous backlog of art I’ve found.
Black Canary and Green Arrow
By Dominique Fam.
By Stephan Martiniere (Via).
By David Au.
Julianne Moore as Ariel
By Annie Leibovitz.
Stand-In for a Corpse
By Ken Kelly (Via).
Filed Under faeries, fantasy, forbidden kingdom, spiderwick chronicles
A couple of quick reviews.
The Spiderwick Chronicles
I’d almost forgotten about this one, but as my dad and I were trying to kill time our last couple of days in Florida we found a theater with an Imax screen that was showing it. I hadn’t seen it on my usual movie night with my brother-in-law because Dave had pretty much dismissed it as a kids’ movie. I was less sure.
After all, Harry Potter started out as a kids’ series, but even from the first book/movie there was something about Harry that appealed to adults too. I hoped that Spiderwick would be the same, but it turns out Dave was right.
I didn’t hate Spiderwick and I wasn’t bored by it, but for whatever reason it sketches its characters in only the barest of ways, relying on archetypal clichés to help us fill in the blanks. Jared Grace is the typical angry-kid, giving his mom a hard time about his parents’ divorce and proclaiming loudly how much he wants to live with his dad. Of course he’s going to learn who the truly heroic parent is by the end. He’ll also learn to channel his anger in a positive direction by becoming the aggressive, decisive leader of a little, goblin-fighting army made up of his siblings. His brother Simon is the smart, but clumsy nerd. Sister Mallory is the sword-wielding fighter of the family. It’s nice to see a girl in that role, but she’s no more fleshed out than any combat-oriented Dungeons & Dragons character.
I complained when I heard that the movie was squeezing all five Spiderwick books into one film, but people who’d read the books assured me that there wasn’t enough story in one book to fill a whole movie, so it pretty much had to be done this way. Having seen the movie now, I still think they should have made more than one film and used the extra time to develop the characters more.
Mom is a stereotypical female divorcee, trying her best to start life over in a new town in order to make a good life for her kids. Dad is a stereotypical male divorcee who’s left his family to shack up with a younger woman. Mr. Spiderwick, whose collection of notes about the habits and secrets of faeries is what starts the story going, is a cliché absent-minded professor who gets so wrapped up in his work that he doesn’t realize its potential for evil. And even when it’s pointed out to him, he can’t bear to destroy it because it’s his life. His daughter, a young girl at the time of his disappearance; an old woman by the time the Grace kids meet her, is the cliché eccentric old lady who’s not really as crazy as everyone says.
Even the main faerie characters, a brownie named Thimbletack and a hobgoblin named Hogsqueal are unlikable and boring. Thimbletack starts off sort of pink, cute and mousy, but gets large, ugly, and shouty when angry. Everyone in the movie treats him like a favorite pet, but he’s more Cujo than Benji. Hogsqueal is just there to be gross and play the unconvincing deus ex machina at the end of the movie.
Everything seemed rushed and by-the-numbers, like they were trying to just get us through the story as quickly as possible. There’s no supsense; no set up. They really should’ve made it at least a couple of movies, if not five.
Two out of five evil ravens.
The Forbidden Kingdom
About halfway through The Forbidden Kingdom I figured out what kind of movie it was and was able to enjoy it more.
It’s not an awesome kung fu movie. The fighting – even the very long scene where Jackie Chan fights Jet Li – is boring and full of wire fu. My main expectation from any martial arts film is for it to show me something I’ve never seen before and make me go, “Wow!” The Forbidden Kingdom never did that. Neither in the fighting nor in terms of special effects or the fantasy element.
There’s some nice, pretty scenery, but certainly nothing to compare to Lord of the Rings. The mythology is inconsistent and the depiction of the Chinese immortals makes them look quaint and funny, not cool. The first time I saw the Monkey King I thought he was Neelix from Star Trek: Voyager.
And then there’s the framing sequence about a modern-day kid named Jason who finds an ancient staff in a Chinese curio shop and gets sent back in time to return it to its rightful owner. It’s right out of The Karate Kid and Neverending Story. Jason loves Chinese movies and culture and hanging out in Old Hop’s store, but his uniqueness gets him picked on. When a gang of toughs right out of West Side Story find him with a bag of kung fu movies from Old Hop’s place, they natually assume Jason’s been “hanging out” with the old man. It’s a correct assumption, but you have to wonder how they arrived at it by looking at the logo on a plastic shopping bag. If some muggers caught me walking home with a Best Buy bag, would they automatically figure I was in tight with the store manager and could get them in after hours so they could rob the place? Apparently so.
Jason stupidly decides not to take his beating, but leads the gang back to Hop’s place where he gets Hop to open the door so they can break in. Then, counter to the ridiculousness with which the gang’s been portrayed up to that point, the West Side Story Jets suddenly become the Bloods and pop a cap into Old Hop. Not believing that Jason won’t tell on them, they start to chase him too, but he’s got the ancient staff from the shop (I forget why) and it sends him into the past for most of the rest of the movie.
There he discovers a world ruled by the evil Jade Warlord who can only be overthrown if Jason returns the staff to the Monkey King, who was tricked and imprisoned by the Jade Warlord centuries ago. Helping him in his quest are a drunken immortal (Jackie Chan), a remarkably talkative Silent Monk (Jet Li), and a vengeful girl (Yifei Liu) whose parents were killed by the Jade Warlord.
It was partway through the quest that I realized that I wasn’t supposed to be watching a cool, kung fu-fantasy movie. What I was watching was a throwback to ’80s teen-wish-fulfillment adventure. If I was thirteen years old I think I might have really identified with poor Jason and been able to imprint myself on him in order to better enjoy his adventures. Jason gets to do a lot of cool stuff. He hangs out with Jackie Chan, Jet Li, and a murderously beautiful girl. He gets to learn kung fu and save the world from an evil tyrant. And of course he gets to return home at the end and use what he’s learned on the JetsBloods.
In that respect, The Forbidden Kingdom is a harmless, fun movie. But it’s not a good movie and it’s not a movie with a lot of appeal for anyone outside of that teenaged boy demographic. Jackie Chan is fun to watch in it – certainly more fun than he is in the Rush Hour movies – but that’s not enough to make me love it.
Three out of five vengeful and beautiful orphan girls.
Filed Under batman, bond, faeries, fantasy, giant monsters, hellboy, indiana jones, superheroes, tron
Lego Batman videogame
Check out the trailer here.
In 3D, no less. At least, that’s the rumor.
Indy DVDs re-release
This time you can buy them separately. And with bonus features that you couldn’t get on the first release. I’m not holding my breath for a commentary track though.
New Bond novel
They’ve released the cover art for the US edition of the new Bond novel, Devil May Care. Pretty snazzy.
Monster loves Liberty
Poor, stupid, giant monster. (Via.)
A Midsummer Night’s Fountain
Charles Vess is designing the coolest fountain ever and shows you how it’s done.
Mike Mignola talks about expanding Hellboy’s universe.
The Immutable Rules of the Marvel Universe
Tom Spurgeon asks his readers what elements of the Marvel Universe should be set in stone and gets a nice list that reminds me why it’s such a fun place to read about. You’ll find my two cents in there too.
Filed Under battlestar galactica, burn notice, chuck, fantasy, giant robots, grey's anatomy, historical, house, indiana jones, jericho, lost, men in trees, private practice, spiderwick chronicles, terminator
Indy’s hat and jacket
IndianaJones.com has a new featurette about Indy’s iconic look and trying to recreate it for the new movie.
Apparently, the teaser trailer for Indy and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull will be attached to The Spiderwick Chronicles when it hits theaters on Thursday. I also saw something on IndianaJones.com earlier today about the trailer’s TV and ‘net debuts, but I can’t find it now. Either I’ve gone stupid (entirely possible) or the info was released prematurely or is being changed. I’ll let you know which once I know.
Giant Robots are stupid.
According to TechRepublic.
Oh, wait. No, they’re not.
Says Jeremiah Tolbert.
Three Days to Never
According to Bookgasm, Tim Powers’ Three Days to Never contains all of my favorite things: “hidden histories … spirits, spies, talking disembodied heads, dybbuks, time travel, Charlie Chaplin’s quest for magical power, Albert Einstein’s secret doomsday device, and about a million other awesome things.” So totally sold.
Welcome back, TV.
With the WGA strike all but officially over, TV Guide has a new strike chart up predicting when we’ll start seeing new episodes of our favorite shows. Here are the ones that interest me:
Battlestar Galactica: Returns April 4 with first half of 20-episode final season. Production on second half could start as early as March. Airdate for those TBD.
The Big Bang Theory: Expected to shoot 5 to 7 new episodes to air in April/May.
Burn Notice: Production on Season 2 expected to get underway in late April. New episodes could start airing as early as July.
Chuck: No new episodes until fall.
Grey’s Anatomy: Expected to shoot 4 to 7 new episodes to air in April/May
House: Expected to shoot 4 to 6 new episodes to air in April/May.
Jericho: Seven episodes remain. No additional episodes expected for this season.
Lost: Six pre-strike episodes remain. Six additional episodes could air this season.
Men in Trees: Eleven pre-strike episodes remain. No additional episodes expected this season.
The Office: Expected to shoot 5 to 10 new episodes to air in April/May.
Private Practice: Slim chance it could return with 4 or 5 new episodes this season. Either way, it’ll be back in the fall.
Pushing Daisies: No new episodes until fall.
Scrubs: Four pre-strike episodes remain. Four additional episodes will likely be shot; unclear whether they’ll air on NBC or go straight to DVD.
Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles: Five pre-strike episodes remain. Future beyond that TBD.