Mike Mignola TV Adaptations

News on two of Mignola's comic book adaptations to television. If you missed it, you can catch the pilot for The Amazing Screw-On Head on the Sci Fi Channel's web page. We're still hoping this one makes it to a series.

Also, the Hellboy Animated web page is up, complete with trailer. The interesting thing about this is that it has the same talent as the movie, including the director (Guillermo del Toro) and the main characters - Ron Perlman (Hellboy), Selma Blair (Liz), and Doug Jones (Abe Sapien). It looks good. It's still supposed to hit Cartoon Network on October 28.


The Guyver (1991) mini review

based on a comic

There doesn't seem to be a lot of manga-adapted non-Japanese films. The Guyver is one of the few.

If you're a comic fan, and you've never heard of this movie, there's probably two reasons. First, it's based on a Japanese comic, and second, it's just not that good. Actually, it was almost good enough to sit through once, but any accolades beyond that would be overdoing it. Mark Hamill has had a rather prolific voice career (he's done a ton of stuff, but my favorite is, of course, The Joker in Batman: The Animated Series ), but in The Guyver, he stars in another film disappointment. In the movie, he plays an agent for the CIA following up on some weird stuff going on at the Chronos Corporation. Come to find out, they are harboring an ancient secret. Aliens created mankind to be the perfect bio-weapons. A screen crawl at the beginning of the film gives the somewhat confusing history of how the aliens created some humans called Zoanoids that could change into "super monster soldiers", but also created the Guyver, a type of armor, which, when worn by a human, increases their natural abilities a hundredfold.

The movie ends up being nearly as hokey as that description makes it sound (Jimmy Walker is even cast as one of the villain's henchmen). But, with an attempted serious performance by all the "good guys", I can't decide if they're trying to play it straight, or just for laughs.

See it if you want to see some decent special effects or J.J. from Good Times playing a comic book villain.

Don't see it if it sounds like you'd rather just hear Mark Hamill's nearly awe-inspiring turn as The Joker in Justice League, Batman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond: Return of the Joker, Batman: Gotham Knights, Superman: The Animated Series...


The Tick on DVD (and TV)

I have had the good fortune to recently discover the fact that Toon Disney has been running The Tick (check here for listings), and recently (with the help of DVR) have watched all 3 seasons. I'm not sure if I would have made it through grad school without the chance to wake up to his crimefighting and philosophical meanderings every Saturday morning. The show was genius; I caught the first year mid-season and was an avid follower ever since, only missing a few of episodes of the 3rd season. But now, with the modern conveniences of hundreds of cable channels, DVR, and DVD, the whole world can see the greatest cartoon of all time without having to download marginally legal copies from the internet.

Oh yeah; Season 1 of the Tick was released to DVD today. I'll be adding that to my DVD collection (though, for some reason it doesn't include the 11th episode, The Tick vs. the Mole Men).

My Super Ex-Girlfriend (2006) mini review

superhero film not based on a comic

My Super Ex-Girlfriend is a corny romantic comedy with a corny romantic-comedy ending. But it works.

Uma Thurman is G-Girl, resident superhero of New York. But, she falls for sweet-talking Matt (Luke Wilson) and when he tries to break up with her she decides to use her super powers to make good the usually empty threat, "You'll regret this!" She is, apparently, not familiar with Spider-Man's "With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility" credo, which is odd, being from New York and all. This is what Fatal Attraction would have been if it had been funnier and Glenn Close's character had super powers.

Thurman plays the cliché gorgeous superhero, with the geeky secret identity, and arch-foe complete with linked history. It's not played entirely as parody, but the references we all know and love are there, and mixing it with the love story results in a completely entertaining film. Is it the best romantic comedy I've ever seen? Probably not. Is it the best superhero movie I've ever seen? Definitely not. But it is a successful fusion of the two genres. A lot of reviews might not be so friendly toward this film, but to me, a comedy works if you can sit and enjoy it for 90 minutes, and it keeps you laughing. Of course, throwing in superheroes (and a little bit of Wanda Sykes) never hurts.

See it if you can take your superheroes tongue-in-cheek.

Don't see it if you can't handle a chick flick mixed up with a serious subject like superheroes. (Or, if you have your kids with you - it's PG-13 and definitely not aimed at the younger crowd.)


Who Wants to Be Disappointed?

I watched the first 3 episodes of Who Wants to Be a Superhero? in a mini-marathon lasting until 3 am. I was truly fascinated - I hadn't seen an entire season of a reality show through from beginning until end, and I thought this one was amazing. I saw how everyone gets caught up with the players; emotions run high; you wonder, who's getting kicked off next? And I was further impressed that Stan Lee could actually take this subject and make it real. Testing traits like compassion, courage, honesty, commitment. These are the true qualities of a superhero.

But, then came episode 4 and things took a turn for the worse. It really started to look fake. I realize that in "unscripted" television, sometimes things might be staged, or filmed in a way to make it look different than it really happens. But, this show has just begun to look like the whole thing is scripted. I'm sorry, but prison inmates? More like really bad actors. People on the show seem more contrived every episode; the superheroes act less authentic every episode. I just finished watching the 5th ep, and it's not any better. It looks less real than Joe Schmo (the only other reality show I really watched - you know, the one where there was only one person on the whole show that didn't know it was all staged?). I'm starting to get tired of all the self-sacrifice as everyone acts so disappointed when someone else gets eliminated.

And on this last episode, Feedback says, "This is the most important thing I've ever done." What?? You're on a reality show (maybe). And you might get your own comic book. While that might be really cool, I can't imagine it being the most important thing I've ever done.

In fact, I'm a bit disappointed. What seemed to start out as a genuinely creative endeavor has begun to look completely artificial. I guess if there's only one more episode (and since it's still about superheroes), I'll probably see it through to the end. And I'll probably buy the comic when it comes out (I guess I will buy it since I'm adding it to my comic order for October), and I'll likely watch the Sci Fi Channel movie. But as a whole, it hasn't pulled me into the whole reality genre. And I don't think I'll be pre-ordering the DVD.


Afro Samurai

It seems we're not at a loss for comic-adapted animation these days. Samuel L. Jackson will be starring in Afro Samurai coming on Spike TV at some point this fall.

Take a look at the website and trailer - it looks promising (note: it's bordering on rated R, so you may not want to send your kids to the site).

Afro Samurai is based on a manga (Japanese comic for you infidels) found in the back of a 1998/99 self-published comic, Nononhow, by Okazaki Takahashi. I guess that's why I can find absolutely no information on the internet about it. It follows Jackson's character as he attempts to avenge his father's murder.

At the 2006 Comic-Con there were even discussions of a live action film. Stay tuned.


Comics, Cartoons, and Television

A lot of premiers over the next month. I need to write them down all in one place so I remember to set the DVR.

New stuff:

First, Fantastic Four hits Cartoon Network on September 2.

While checking to see which ep of The Batman landed on my DVR today, I noticed a commercial for Legion of Superheroes which premiers September 23 (on The WB). Hmmm...that will just about coincide with the VS Customizable Card Game Expansion, if you're into that sort of thing. There's a ton of information on the show here on Wikipedia.

Hellboy Animated comes to Cartoon Network in the form of a movie on October 28. (The DVD will be released on February 6.) Upperdeck will also be releasing a Hellboy VS deck, but not until next spring.

Returning shows:

Teen Titans: Trouble in Tokyo (Cartoon Network) debuts on September 15. I'm not sure if this will kick off a new season, but they're replaying all of the old episodes on Sept. 5-30.

The next season of The Batman (The WB) is supposed to start on September 23. The Complete 2nd Season is released on DVD on the 19th.

Up in the air:

Tonight, I watched the debut episode of Amazing Screw-On Head that I had recorded, and it was just as good as when I watched it on Sci Fi Pulse. I'm hoping they run with this one. If you missed it, it's on again tonight, August 20, at Midnight/11C.

Thanks to Comics2Film and Comics Continuum for the Comics Continuum links above.


Painkiller Jane (2005) mini review

based on a comic

Just to be fair to the Sci Fi Channel, I thought I'd share my Painkiller Jane review, which is a bit more positive than my thoughts about Lightspeed. Let's hope that their next superhero film is more like the former than the latter.

Making its debut in December 2005, this Sci Fi Original Picture is actually quite impressive - better than many of the comic book films (with bigger budgets) that have been released to theaters, especially when you consider it's a made-for-cable movie. In Painkiller Jane, Jane Elizabeth Browning is a captain in the U.S. Army, and, after getting exposed to a biological agent, rather than dying like the rest of her troop, her normal abilities are enhanced. She has more endurance, her body heals quicker, her mind works faster. The story follows her as she tries to figure out exactly what has happened to her and who's responsible.

While I enjoyed Painkiller Jane, there's not really a lot that stood out about the movie; it's just a completely engaging action film. It's one of those movies you get drawn into and enjoy, and forget to make mental notes about what was good or bad. There was one thing, though, that especially impressed me - the way the movie treats her new-found abilities; her mental abilities in particular. The filmmakers were quite creative in coming up with ways to show (rather than explain) how her mind was now able to perceive patterns and make connections that she couldn't before.

An interesting cast note: a number of the actors have experience in live action comic book films. Emmanuelle Vaugier (Jane) was in Smallville for a while as Lex Luthor's girlfriend, Dr. Helen Bryce; everyone would recognize Richard Roundtree (Colonel Watts) from his pivotal role in Steel; and Tate Donovan (Dr. Graham Knight) was in the obscure G-Men from Hell.

Painkiller Jane is based on a comic created by Joe Quesada and Jimmy Palmiotti. It appears to have originally been with Event Comics, but is now owned by Dynamite Comics. Her origin in the movie is quite a bit different than in the comics, a detail that could turn off long-time fans.

See it if you like good, solid action films, with a bit of science fiction thrown in for good measure.

Don't see it if you're expecting something that's true to the source material.

Lightspeed (2006) mini review

superhero film not based on a comic

OK, I suppose it should technically be called Stan Lee's Lightspeed; and I finally figured out that his name must be on it because it was the first film produced by Lee's company, POW! Entertainment.

Of course, this is the company that brought you Stripperella, and is working on a project that showcases Hugh Hefner as a secret agent. This is pretty indicative of the quality of Lightspeed.

In this film, Daniel Leight is subjected to a highly experimental, very dangerous chemical and radiation traeatment after nearly being killed in one of his missions with the NSA. Voila! Instant superhero! Now Daniel is Lightspeed - able to move at the speed of - well, not quite light, but pretty darn fast. Unfortunately, at this day in time, where Smallville has been on the air for a number of years, and we have television shows with amazingly high production values, all the special effects (particularly the high-speed running) look really corny. For some reason, it reminded me of that student film from the 80's - The Wizard of Speed & Time (remember that?).

Attempts at cool camera work and the overuse of slow motion to create drama make the movie look like it was shot by an amateur. The action and gunplay looked like something out of an 80's low-budget film. It really doesn't feel like something that came out in 2006 - more like 1986. Actually, it sort of comes across as a special 2-hour 6 Million Dollar Man; which is ironic, as Lee Majors has a cameo role. The way they explain the backstory while the hero and villain are fighting is all very comic book, but it doesn't come across like they did that on purpose, and it just adds to the amateurish feel of the movie.

Lightspeed is not very well-written, not very well-directed, and not very well-acted. If you didn't see it, you didn't miss much.

See it if you want to see what kind of production values Stan Lee's company is putting out.

Don't see it if you've got some dishes to do or something...


Superman Returns (2006) mini review

based on a comic book

Superman Returns wasn't what I had hoped. After The Usual Suspects, X-Men, and X2 (and even the TV show House), I expected a lot more from Bryan Singer. While watching it, I realized that it had a lot of the same sensibilities as the original Superman films, but didn't realize until later (after reading a few things on-line) that it was intended to be sequel, of sorts, to Superman II. Kevin Spacey was excellent, if too reminiscent (in my opinion) of Hackman's Lex Luthor (for example, being constantly exasperated at the incompetence of his henchmen). Parker Posey plays Lex's girl, but, while I love her in just about any role she's in, again, her Kitty isn't far from the Miss Teschmacher character in Superman. Personally, I was hoping it would fully divorce itself from the other films (a la Batman Begins). Marlon Brando (or, rather, his disembodied voice) even returns as Jor-El, with a few new lines to boot.

When this film starts, Superman has been gone a number of years, looking for traces of his home planet, Krypton (duh). He returns only to find that Lois has a family - she has a son and is living with him and the boy's father (James Marsden - Cyclops from X-Men). Lex Luthor then hatches another genius plot, rather similar to the one in 1970s Superman, and once again, Superman is the only thing that stands in the way of Lex's diabolical scheme.

Brandon Routh's Superman (and Clark Kent) are definitely reminiscent of Christopher Reeve's, so if that's the direction Singer was going, he did a good job. Especially without any real direct references to the first two Superman films (though there were a couple scenes and lines that hinted at the originals). I wondered why some of the set design (e.g., the Fortress of Solitude) was so similar to the first couple movies. But even disregarding my misgivings of the continuation of the series, the sense of awe that should have been a part of a Bryan Singer film just wasn't there. It was good, but not Amazing. Guess I'll have to wait for the next Spider-Man film for that.

Finally, I do have to say that I was a bit put off by what seemed like a play for Lois on Superman's part when she was obviously involved with a family (even though she wasn't married). It seems like Superman would be more honorable than that. Maybe I'm just old-fashioned (or maybe I just think that's the way Superman should be played).

See it if you've been looking forward to the next incarnation of Superman on the big screen.

Don't see it if you're comfortable waiting to rent the DVD.



How is that this film sailed under my radar? I never heard of it until I saw the trailer before Lady in the Water last week.

Hollywoodland is about the mysterious circumstances surrounding the death of George Reeves, who, as every comic fan knows, played Superman on television in the 50's.

It stars Adrien Brody, Diane Lane, Ben Affleck, and Bob Hoskins and is coming to theaters in September.


The Fountain Softcover

Something else I found in the August issue of Previews.

Darren Aronofsky (of Pi and Requiem for a Dream fame) was slated for a while (2001/2002) to write and direct an adaptation of Batman: Year One. That, of course, never happened.

He was then supposed to helm The Fountain, which fell apart a few years ago about the time that Brad Pitt left the film.

Well now, The Fountain is a graphic novel, released by DC under its Vertigo line last year, and a film about to be released in October. The film site seems to be up, but doesn't have much content (save a screensaver). The trailer, however, can be seen on Apple's site, and looks pretty amazing.

The softcover edition of The Fountain graphic novel is being released by DC and is highlighted in the August edition of Previews.


I was sitting in a theater Friday night (I'm almost embarassed to say what I was there to see), and I saw the most amazing preview. I don't get much of a chance to watch TV, and when I do, it's something I've DVR'ed (is that a verb?) and fast forward through the commercials. So this was the first look I had at a TV show coming to NBC this fall called Heroes. It's about a group of people who find out that they have some amazing abilities and what happens as they come to grips with them.

I was out of town when I saw the trailer, and found out the pilot will be available on iTunes on September 1st (a few weeks before it appears on TV). Several theaters will be giving away iTunes cards that will allow download of the episode and some behind-the-scenes features. The theaters include Cinemark (where I was last week), AMC, and Regal.

Apparently this is all old news, as Superhero Hype posted it on the 28th and Comics Continuum had the news out on the 29th. There are even several Heroes fansites and forums out there.

Heroes premiers on NBC on September 25th and in the 9/8 Central timeslot.


V for Vendetta (2006) mini review

based on a comic book
From the Vault.

V for Vendetta was released on DVD yesterday. I'm planning on picking up the Special Edition, and thought I'd share my original thoughts of the movie.

Remember, remember, the fifth of November...

In V for Vendetta, Great Britain has become a fascist state. One man (Codename: V, played by Hugo Weaving) attempts to restore power back to it's rightful owners: the people. It is a tale of revenge more than a tale of terrorism and a tale of patriotism more than a tale of treason.

I've heard attempts to describe this film as glorifying terrorism, but I fail to make the connection to the present-day terrorism issues we're facing. There's probably less killing in this film than there is in a lot of television these days. That's not an attempt to justify or defend - just to give a basis of comparison. The desired result of terrorism is fear - the only people that V is making afraid in this film are those who have tyrannicaly wrested power from country's citizens.

Weaving is excellent as V; Natalie Portman plays Evey, his sometimes accomplice; and John Hurt (Hellboy) is Adam Sutler, the Chancellor of England. It's rather difficult to determine what in particular made the film so good (besides the opening and ending sequences, which held me transfixed). It's kind of like listening to a piece of music where no specific instrument stands out on its own, but together they create a seamless work of art. As writers and directors, the Wachowskis act as composer and conducter in creating one of the best comic book movies I’ve ever seen.

Regrettably, V for Vendetta was shunned by the author of the original comic (Alan Moore). Originally published in black and white, in the early 80's by Quality Comics under the name Warrior, it was published by DC in the late 80's under it's current name, V for Vendetta*. I wish I could remember more about the comic, but it's been a while since I've read it, so I can't really compare the two, but the end result is a powerful film serving to remind us all of the blessing of living in a free country.

*See Wikipedia

See it if you like well-made, well-acted films, even if they are a bit dark; especially if they make you think.

Don't see it if you're taking the family or aren't in a thinking mood.


Who Wants to Be a Superhero Comic Books

I was reading the most recent Previews yesterday, and came across the Dark Horse page for the Who Wants to Be a Superhero comic book tie-in. (The first episode is still waiting patiently on my DVR for an opportunity to watch it.) A comic book cover has been created for each superhero on the show, and the lucky winner will appear in their own full-color, 32-page comic book. The covers don't look to bad; it'll be interesting to see who comes out on top.

The comic has a release date of October 4.