Punisher: War Zone mini review (2008)

based on a comic

It's been so long since I've seen the last two Punisher movies, I don't remember anything about them. Guess I'll have to go back and rent them and write up my reviews. This third attempt at starting up a Punisher franchise may be the best of the three, despite the poor reviews it's been getting.

Punisher: War Zone follows the basic premise of the comics - the family of Frank Castle (Ray Stevenson) is killed by the mob. He then takes the law into his own hands, becoming judge, jury, and executioner to those who are getting by with the current system. And in this version, he meets up with Jigsaw (Dominic West, 300), his comic book arch-nemesis.

This film has quite a different feel than then other Marvel films that have come out in the last few years - it's a lot darker, a lot more violent, and much more bloody. As a matter of fact, it's one of bloodiest movies I've seen in a long time - maybe moreso than 30 Days of Night. (Which made me wonder why that couple brought their 5-year-old kid; but who am I to judge?)  As a matter of fact, the intro showed the Marvel Knights logo rather than the regular Marvel logo. They also made a decent attempt to try to pull the comic book in - introduction of villain Jigsaw, and ally Micro(chip) (Wayne Knight, Justice League). 

It's a bit difficult to find the right words to describe this movie. I can't really say it was fun or enjoyable, but I guess it was as enjoyable as a movie this dark can be. It's a decent mindless action flick. I wasn't blown away (ha!) by it, but there are some excellent action sequences (the movie opens with an adrenaline rush), and there are some funny lines, and some good scenes.  There were some things that took away from the action, though.  Some plot points were a real stretch.  Yes, it's based on a comic book, so you accept certain things about the world, but when you play with the story, you can really screw it up.  I won't spoil the story with the details, but it left a little to be desired.

And, hey, did you know that Doug Hutchison (Loony Bin Jim) had a part in Batman and Robin?

See it if you like mindless movies with a lot of action, and can handle a lot of blood.

Don't see it if you like your superheroes who believe in a little less bloodshed.


Eddie Murphy as the Riddler?

I don't know...didn't we learn our lesson with Jim Carey? Well, if anyone can pull it off, Christopher Nolan can.


Trailer Park of Terror (2008) mini review

based on a comic

I remember hearing about this a while back, I happened to notice it was on Comcast On Demand, and I was kinda in the mood for a horror movie tonight, so I thought I'd take a look.

I want my $4.99 back.

I think it was supposed to be funny. It wasn't.

I think it was supposed to be scary. It wasn't.

It had decent production values.

But it's just kinda dumb.

A low point in the career of Trace Adkins. The only other actor I recognized was character actor Tracey Walter (Bob the Goon in Batman, and some voice work in Teen Titans and Justice League).

It's based on the Imperium Comic, which appears to be an anthology.

See it if...I don't know; I guess if you like horror movies that are kinda dumb (it's not even bad in a good way).

Don't see it if you've got 30 Days of Night on DVD.



Looking forward to the Indie Spanish Romantic Comedy Superhero Film

It's called Santos. Take a look at the trailer - it looks like it'd be worth a watch:

Then read the article in Wired.

I know...I've been AWOL.  Just life going on...


Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2008) mini review

  based on a comic

I've caught up on my comic-book movies; now to catch up on my reviews!

Hellboy 2 continues in the same vein as Hellboy - it has the same quirky humor, the same personality, the same awesome effects and fantastic creatures. In this story, Hellboy (along with the Bureau for Paranormal Research and Defense - the BPRD) has to stop a mechanical Golden Army that is bent on death and destruction. I have to say that I enjoyed this as well as the first, though Guillermo del Toro (who also directed Blade II, and incidentally will be directing The Hobbit) took a bit of a departure and tried to break up the action with a bit of character development in the middle. I don't think it actually took away from the film, but I think it went on a bit too long and very nearly derailed it. (Though del Toro did a much better job trying to break up his fantasy with character development than Wimmer did with Ultraviolet.) This particular plot, though, isn't based directly on the comics, as the first one was.  This is an original story, although it has seeds in the mythology that Hellboy creator Mike Mignola has planted in the comics.

Hellboy is obviously back (Ron Perlman -  Blade II, Comic Book: The Movie, Prince Valiant; Killer Croc in The Batman; other voices in Kim Possible, Afro SamuraiJustice League, Teen Titans, The Tick, Superman: The Animated Series, Batman: The Animated Series, Phantom 2040, the 90's animated incarnations of Iron Man and Fantastic Four). As is Liz Sherman (Selma Blair). David Hyde Pierce is gone as the voice of Abe Sapien, but he's replaced by Doug Jones (Fantastic Four: The Silver Surfer, Men In Black II, Monkeybone, Mystery Men, Tank Girl, Batman Returns), who actually played the physical part of Abe in the first movie. Several other actors have had parts in other comic book films: John Hurt (Professor Broom) - V for Vendetta, Luke Goss (Prince Nuada) - Blade II, Jeffrey Tambor (Tom Manning) - Superhero Movie).

See it if you like fantasy, and you're a fan of the first Hellboy.

Don't see it if you haven't seen the first, which really sets the backstory and the tone.


The Dark Knight

Best comic book movie so far this year; and that's saying a lot. That line you see at the bottom right is people waiting to get into a sold out theater.


Michael Bay and Batman

Apparently Michael Bay (Bad Boys, Armageddon, Transformers) wrote a script for The Dark Knight. Take a look - it's one of the funniest things I've seen in a long time.


Batman Begins (2005) mini review

based on a comic


I wrote this back around the time the film came out, before this blog, but thought it was probably good timing to post it here, what with Dark Knight coming out and all.

As I watch Batman Begins, opening with a million flying bats briefly forming the Bat Symbol, I think to myself, DC Comics is finally back in the game. Constantine was pretty good, but he's not one of their flagship superheroes. Batman is. And with the upcoming Superman Returns and Wonder Woman, I think we've got a lot to look forward to.

While it's not based on Frank Miller's Batman: Year One, Batman Begins shares a number of elements with the classic mini-series. They're both obviously origin stories and include the first meetings of Batman and Jim Gordon, Gordon's dealing with Gotham City Police Department corruption, Gordon's corrupt partner Flass, and mob boss Carmine Falcone. That's not all, but I don't want to ruin every surprise. A number of other comic elements work their way into the film - Lucius Fox (who runs Wayne Industries for Bruce Wayne), the name of Bruce's parents's murderer (a key player in Batman: Year 2), even a cameo from a lesser known villain from Batman's Rogues Gallery.

One of the interesting differences is the idea that Ra's Al Ghul - a villain created by Dennis O'Neal in the 70's - is instrumental in the etiology of Batman. In the comics, Ra's wants to destroy most of humanity so that the earth can heal itself of man's ills and return to a more natural state; in Batman Begins, he wants to destroy the corruption in the world that seems to be the ultimate state of man's existence. To accomplish this end, his organization enlists the Scarecrow to help destroy Gotham City by unleashing a fear toxin via the city's water system.

Batman Begins is well-written, well-directed, and well-cast. Writer-director Christopher Nolan (Memento) has succeeded in bringing the Batman franchise up from the Lazarus Pit (sorry - a Ra's al Ghul comics reference). Christian Bale is Batman, Michael Caine is Alfred, Morgan Freeman is Lucius Fox, Gary Oldman is Jim Gordon, Cillian Murphy is the Scarecrow, Ken Watanabe is Ra's, Liam Neeson (Darkman) is Ra's henchmen Henri Ducard, and Rutger Hauer (Sin City, Smallville) is Earle, supplanter of Bruce's father's position as head of Wayne Industries.

See it if you're a Batman fan or if you want to see how DC re-enters the comic book movie game.

Don't see it if you're too much of a purist and can't handle any deviation from the source material.


Hellboy and Chuck

This promo for Hellboy II: The Golden Army is probably one of the coolest fanboy videos I've ever seen.  Of course, part of that reason is that Chuck was probably my favorite new series this past season.

Here are a couple more Hellboy promos - one with the American Gladiators, and one with Bravo's Inside the Actor's Studio.

Hancock (2008) mini review

superhero movie not based on a comic book


Will Smith (Men in Black, Men in Black II) is Hancock.  A superhero that Los Angeles loves to hate, badly in need of some good PR. Jason Bateman (Justice League) is Ray, a PR agent badly in need of a new account.  It's a match made in...well, maybe not.

This is the type of film that I always feel I need to keep the review short.  Let me just say it's the best superhero film I've seen in a long time.  I'm continually impressed by the depth Smith can display as an actor; and Batemen seems to be good in anything he's in. I couldn't count how many times Hancock made me laugh out loud, but it's not a comedy. It's got a ton of action, but it's not an action movie.  It's got depth, but it still doesn't take itself too seriously.  Iron Man is good.  Incredible Hulk is excellent.  I haven't seen Wanted, yet, but I bet that's pretty amazing, too.  But if you had to make a choice and only see one superhero or comic film this summer - go see Hancock.

My 6 degrees of comic book movie separation - other parts are played by Eddie Marsan (V for Vendetta), Johnny Galecki (Batman Beyond), and Hayley Marie Norman (Trailer Park of Terror).  Also look for a cameo from Akiva Goldsman (writer of Batman Forever and Batman and Robin)

See it if you like stories about people and enjoy a little dark humor.

Don't see it if you don't like the fantastic mixed with your reality; or if you're wanting light superhero fare to take the kids to or are offended by a little language - this isn't a movie for children.



Got to the the theater 30 minutes early for a sneak preview of Hancock - and the place was *empty*. But the theater ended up filling up pretty well. Anyway, go see it. It may be the best superhero movie of the summer. Seriously.


The Incredible Hulk (2008) mini review

based on a comic book


It's incredible how they can turning something around.  (Ha! Get it? Incredible? Sorry.)  I saw The Incredible Hulk last weekend and was really impressed.  Particularly after the disappointment of Ang Lee's Hulk. Actually, I'm trying to decide if this movie was better than Iron Man. The interesting thing about the Hulk is that he is as ingrained in the public consciousness as Batman, Superman, or Spider-Man. Everyone knows that some guy named Banner was in some sort of accident, and now every time he gets angry he turns into a large, green, incredible hulk.  And this second attempt at a Hulk origin story capitalizes on that. The origin is squeezed nicely into the opening credits, and it works.  Sure, if you've got a background in the comics, you'll follow it a lot easier, but it's not necessary.  It's brilliant, really - smashing the origin story that usually takes a superhero film a half an hour to tell into just a few minutes - and in this case, the film is better for it.

The film itself was enjoyable - actually owing almost as much to the classic 70s TV series as to the comic book.  If you haven't seen it, I won't ruin it for you, but it does a great job being based on the comic, but still borrowing from the show. And whenever you go into something heavy CGI, you worry that the human element is taken out.  But that's the beauty of what Marvel has done with a lot of its heroes - made them so human.  And Marvel (this is the second Marvel Studios film, after Iron Man) accomplishes this in amazing ways with The Incredible Hulk. This character is more human and relatable than any superhero I've seen in a long time.  He's not a billionaire playboy, an alien, a demon, or a billionaire tech genius.  Twenty years ago, I might have identified with Spider-Man a bit more, but I'm not that young anymore. This man trying to overcome his inner demon was more real to me than a lot of characters in movies that don't have the fantastic elements that are the stuff of comic books.  The way Ed Norton (Bruce Banner) and Liv Tyler (Betty Ross) portray their characters, they seem so real. I think this is why I thought it was better than Iron Man.

Of course, Norton and Tyler are joined by the likes of William Hurt (A History of Violence) playing General "Thunderbolt" Ross, Tim Roth (Emil Blonsky), and Tim Blake Nelson (Dr. Samuel Stern).  Although the Hulk was my favorite superhero as a child, while I watched the film, I didn't know enough to link all the characters with their comic book cohorts.  I knew enough to recognize the Abomination in the previews, but after seeing the movie, and doing a bit of research, I was surprised at how well they kept true to his role in the Hulk's life.  And during the movie, I wondered about some foreshadowing they did with Dr. Stern - and a quick Google search on his name proved my suspicions right. 

Some trivia: Peter Mensah (General Joe Gellar) also played the messenger in 300. ("This is madness!")  Also, Greg Bryk, who played one of the commandos, will be in the XIII mini-series.

See it if you like action, but you still like your superheroes embued with a bit of humanity.

Don't see it if you don't like all the CGI...but keep in mind, this superhero's more real than the ones that don't rely on computer graphics.


I Wanted to See Wanted

Good grief - can't a guy get a break? So many comic book movies, so little time...

It looks like I'm not going to have a chance to see Wanted this weekend. Now I'm going to have to double it up with another superhero or comic book film. Like Hancock next weekend. Or Hellboy the week after that. Or Batman the week after that. Then we get a 2-month break until Whiteout in September (doesn't that film have a website, yet?).

I can't wait for DVD...(as bad as I wanted to see Get Smart, my comic book films get priority).


The Incredible Hulk

I think Hulk may have been better than Iron Man. Saw previews for Dark Knight, Hellboy II, Wanted, and Hancock. It's going to be a great summer!


Iron Man (2008) mini review

based on a comic book

Well, now that The Incredible Hulk opened this weekend, I should try to post this review I've been trying to get out for a month. By now, most of us know the basic plot to Iron Man. A harrowing experience turns Tony Stark from weapons designer to hero - he uses his technological genius to create Iron Man.

Any movie that starts with great music (AC/DC's Back in Black) and ends in equally good music is going to get extra points, even if the middle isn't great. I said I was going to be disappointed if Sabbath's Iron Man didn't find its way into the movie and only showed up during the end credits - and, well, I really wasn't disappointed. The special effects are seamless - you will believe a man can fly. (OK, I just did a Google blog search, and I'm about the 32nd person to use that in relation to this movie, but I still like it.)

Marvel continues to do it better, and this movie was pretty amazing. Robert Downey, Jr. is the perfect Tony Stark; Gwyneth Paltrow is his assistant Pepper Pots, Jeff Bridges is wonderful as his corporate rival. Every character in the film is completely believable. Clark Gregg's jump from The Adventures of New Christine to a serious government agent takes some getting use to (if you watch the TV show), but that's about it. All around there's nothing to complain about. It's an excellent film. Jon Favreau takes the leap to directing a superhero film and does it with aplomb. There's a little suspension of disbelief, but in anything superhero-related is going to have that. There's comic relief without being cheesy, and romance without detracting from the story. It keeps you on the edge of your seat. There's even a nod to the Silver Age Iron Man. Plus great foreshadowing for the next film. And what's not to love about that surprise ending? (I won't fall in line behind every other web site that spoils it in case you haven't seen it - suffice it to say, if you haven't seen it yet, stay through the end credits.)

Other actors include Leslie Bibb (Wristcutters: A Love Story) as the Vanity Fair reporter, Shaun Tobb (Lois & Clark) as Stark's helper Yinsen, Bill Smitrovich (The Phantom, Batman Beyond, the 90's animated Fantastic Four), and Tim Guinee (Blade, Smallville).

And with Marvel's recent announcements, there's lots to look forward, too. Iron Man 2 and Thor come out in 2010, and Captain America comes out in 2011.

See it if you like films with lots of action that keep you on the edge of your seat - whether you're into the superhero aspect or not.

Don't see it if...crap, if you read a superhero and comic blog, I can't think of any reason why you shouldn't see it.


How to Be a Superhero (Dr. Metropolis, 2005)

Reading How to Be a Superhero, I almost wish I didn't work for a company that followed strict OSHA standards. As the pentultimate "how-to" guide, How to Be a Superhero could walk me through the basics of becoming a superhero should I be bathed in toxic waste or exposed to massive amounts of radiation.

HTBASH (written by Dr. Metropolis) is a wealth of knowledge leading novice and would-be superheroes onto the path of becoming a righteous do-gooder. It starts out by helping you identify what type of superhero you are based on the powers you have. It goes on to assist new heroes with those things that are important and necessary, but are often rushed in trying out new powers. For example, the discussion of the UPS is invaluable. Your UPS is your Unique Personal Style - for a superhero, what makes you, you. It has 3 components - your name, costume, and origin story. No superhero is complete without spending valuable time putting these things together. How many superheroes throw together a costume, jot down a name and run out to fight crime, without spending time coming up with the proper superhero name, or picking out costume colors that best complement their skin tones? Using Dr. Metropolis's name generator, I've already determined that I would be called Cosmic Beast, Fearless Avenger of Virtue. Or should it be The Cosmic Beast? I haven't quite come to a conclusion on that one, yet.

Several other tests and indicators walk you through the basics. This book is a wealth of amazing tools no superhero (or potential superhero) should be without. From finding the right arch-nemesis for you to finding the right fit in a superhero team, HTBASH contains an incredible amount of valuable information.

And realizing the importance of diversity, Dr. Metropolis even finishes out with a bonus chapter for those who might be concerned that they might play for the other team. This section can help the potential super-villain with the lifestyle choices they may be facing.

In the interest of raising awareness of this important book, I've taken the liberty (hmmm...maybe that should be Cosmic Beast, Fearless Avenger of Liberty) of putting together a video to get the word out.


Comic Books Unbound and Unrealized

What's up with all this stuff on cable I can't see?

In an hour (9 Central, 10 Eastern), Starz, which I don't get, is showing Comic Books Unbound, which I won't be able to watch. Anyone taping it? Does anyone have VCRs anymore?

Also, Cracked recently had a contest to create posters for superhero movies we hope don't get made. Some of them are pretty funny - take a look.

I'm way backed up - on my Previews posts, my Iron Man review. And The Incredible Hulk comes out this Friday.

Good grief.

(Thanks to Pop Candy for the news.)


Swamped Thing

Things have just been crazy, and I haven't been able to spend any time writing lately. Anyway, here are some tidbits that have dropped from the sky that I'm finally updating this blog with. (Actually it hasn't been much).

I can finally add Whiteout to the upcoming film listing since it has a release date (September 19th - maybe).

And here's a preview for the ABC family series Middleman (don't forget to set your DVRs for June 16).

Comics2Film also has some interesting background on how the comic was intended as a TV series before it was a comic.

And finally, MSN has an article - Super Fashionable - about superhero style. Though I don't agree with their assessment of Wolverine and the yellow spandex.

Thanks to Comics2Film.


Up and coming: Thor, Avengers, Persepolis, Middleman

I've added a few things to the upcoming movies and releases:

Iron Man 2 has been set for April 30, 2010. Thor has a release date of about a month later - June 4, 2010. Marvel's also release a couple Avenger films in 2011; the first of which is Captain America, set for May 6; the second for sometime in July.

Persepolis is coming to DVD June 24.

The Middleman, from Viper Comics, is coming to ABC family on June 16.

Thanks to Comics2Film.


Superheroes at the Met

met metropolitan museum of art superhero costume

This is different - if you happen to be in New York, there's an exhibition at the Metropolitan Museum of Art called Superheroes: Fashion and Fantasy. It draws an interesting comparison between fashion and the metaphor of the superhero. Take a look at the links above or at the video below.


Britney Spears, Superhero

britney spears break the ice video superheroI can't believe I haven't heard of this before. It's been out for nearly two months, and I just happened to stumble across it today. I suppose it's because I'm a not big Britney fan. Anyway, if you haven't seen it, you should check out Britney's superhero debut (for her recent song, Break the Ice). It's not the best thing I've ever seen, but it was worth watching once...

It looks like they're not allowing these videos to be embedded. It took me forever to come across on I could put here, but I don't know how long it'll last. Here's a direct link to it if the one above disappears. (The video in the link is also a bit higher quality.)


You Can't Stop Crap!

In a recent interview with Stan Lee, when he was asked about current projects, the Disney superhero films came up, as well as some other stuff that's made the round in the news. (I'm sure you've heard about the Disney deal - I didn't realize the films had names: Tigress, Blaze, and Nick Ratchet - they sound like winners.)

What I didn't know about was the animated TV series he had planned with Paris Hilton. Or maybe I heard it and blocked it out.

He made Pamela Anderson into a supehero stripper. I cringe to think what he could do with Miss Hilton.


Marvel Animated

Want to catch some cartoons from Marvel you may have missed? You may get a chance to.

The Spider-Man, the New Animated Series CGI toon (starring Neil Patrick Harris) that was on MTV a few years is coming to the internet and cable. Apparently, Kabillion.com will begin hosting episodes on May 1, but you'll also be able to catch these On Demand with various cable companies, like Comcast and Bresnan Cable. This seemed pretty enjoyable, though I only caught one or two eps. And who doesn't love Neil Patrick Harris?

And if you were like me, and missed most of the episodes of Fantastic Four: The World's Greatest Heroes because your cable guide never matched what they were actually airing on Cartoon Network, Marvelkids.com has those episodes for you. (Though at the time I didn't think it was good enough for me to try to hunt down the shows I missed.) Soon, Marvelkids.com will also have episodes of X-Men: Evolution.

Thanks to Comics2Film.


I Can't Believe This is Real

And I can't believe it's all the way across the country.

Yes, Too Much Coffee Man has his own opera. This is the sequel. How did I not know about the original?

And what category do I put this in?


Newest Comic Book Movie Adaptation

The Onion never ceases to deliver. Check out this news clip about the upcoming Iron Man adaptation. Lets hope the film is as good as the trailer.

Wildly Popular 'Iron Man' Trailer To Be Adapted Into Full-Length Film


Superhero Movie (2008) mini review

superhero movie not based on a comic

In Superhero Movie, Drake Bell is an awkward high school student who is on a field trip to a genetics lab and gets bitten by a genetically altered dragonfly. From then on, he develops amazing dragonfly powers, such as the ability to breakdance on a wall, and constantly crash and burn when talking to the girl of his dreams.

As you might guess, Superhero Movie is more a spoof of the Spider-Man films than anything else. There's a little bit of the X-Men films thrown in, as well as a Batman Begins scene, and a Pam Anderson Fantastic Four cameo. But mostly, it attempts to parody the Spider-Man formula. There's some superhero parody, but what's the point, when other films like The Incredibles and Sky High have done it so well?

But I actually enjoyed myself. I went in with expectations LOW, and Superhero Movie was much, much funnier than I expected. Of course, after watching the wretched Date Movie a while back, I was expecting the worst superhero film I'd ever seen (and I've seen some bad ones). The fact that it far over-reached my expectation was not too great a feat. There were several laugh out loud scenes, but they were accompanied by several scenes that were intended to be funny and just fell flat. Some of the humor was actually good enough to remind me of the first Airplane! film - but it just wasn't consistent.

See it if you like Airplane!-type humor. Superhero Movie isn't nearly as good, but there should be enough in it to keep you entertained.

Don't see it you didn't think Airplane! was a classic.


Premiers and Releases

I guess I haven't been paying much attention to the news wire...a ton of stuff has been happening. Now I've finally caught up and updated some dates and links to the right.

Batman: Gotham Knight is finally available by pre-order from Amazon.com.

The two short-lived series - WB's Birds of Prey (which I enjoyed) and TNT's Witchblade (which I never actually caught) - are both coming to DVD.

(Huh - apparently, July is a big month for comic adaptations - all three of these DVDs are out that month.)

Punisher: War Zone has been pushed back a few months.

And finally, everyone seems to be all excited about XIII coming to NBC. I realize NBC officially announced it on their winter line-up, but still - I think I heard about this a while back.


March 2008 Previews Pop Culture Crossover

Comics coming in May - highlights of movies, stories, and other odds and ends adapted to comics in the March Previews. More stuff from classic artists (Harryhausen and Frazetta), some new and interesting stuff, and some comics related to some awesome movies (including great sequels this year).

  • Igor Movie Prequel #1 (series or mini, IDW )
    Prequel (obviously) to the animated film Igor due out in October. Star-filled cast, including Steve Buscemi, John Cusack, and John Cleese.
  • Indiana Jones Adventures, Vol. 1 (pocket book, Dark Horse)
    Indiana Jones story written for kids (according to Previews).
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull #1 and 2 (2-part mini, Dark Horse)
    Adaptation of the upcoming film. With all these awesome sequels, I need to have an 80s movies weekend and rent Raiders of the Lost Ark, and...
  • Lost Boys: Reign of the Frogs #1 (4-part mini, Wildstorm)
    Rather than an adaptation, this fills the gap between the original The Lost Boys and the upcoming The Lost Boys: The Tribe.
  • The Man with No Name #1 (new series, Dynamite Entertainment)
    Clint Eastwood's Man with No Name immortalized in comic form. I still need to see these films...
  • Ray Harryhausen Presents 20 Million Miles More (Graphic Novel, Bluewater Productions)
    Sequel to the 1957 film, 20 Million Miles To Earth.
  • Tron Vol. 1: The Ghost in the Machine (TPB, Amaze Ink / Slave Labor Graphics)
    Sequel to the original film, taking place in the present day; collects the 6-issue series.


  • Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son #1 (5-part mini, Dabel Brothers)
    Book One in Koontz's trilogy. Adapted by Chuck Dixon.
  • Hercules #1 (5-part mini, Radical Comics)
    The Greek myth revisited.
  • In Odd We Trust (graphic novel, Del Rey)
    Prequel to Koontz's Koontz's Odd novels.
  • The Worlds of H.P. Lovecraft (TPB, Transfuzion Publishing)
    Collection of the full-length adaptations originally published by Malibu.
  • Bionicle Volume 1 (TPB, Papercutz)
    Based on the toys - collects comics that were available to fan club members.
  • Frank Frazetta's Swamp Demon (one-shot, Image)
    Another comic based on a Frazetta painting.

Anything else you're getting? Did I miss anything good?


Comic Book: The Movie (2004) mini review

about comics

Don Swann (Mark Hamill) is a comic book fan along for the ride as Hollywood takes control of his childhood hero, the patriotic Golden Age superhero, Commander Courage, and turns him into gun-toting terrorist-fighting anti-hero Codename: Courage. Well, technically, they take the grim and gritty revamp of the hero (written by Peter David), and adapt the film from this modern version of the hero (along with his sidekick who is morphed from a teenage nephew into a sexy superheroine). Swann attempts to derail the movie's production and turn it back to the original Golden Age hero.

As director and producer, Mark Hamill puts together a mostly-improv'd film with the help of several voice actors, comic creators, and other personalities. The film pokes fun at the current state of comics, including the penchant for remaking comic heroes into something more seemingly palatable for modern movie audiences.

It was genius on Hamill's part to show real people talking about the rich history of not only this fictional character, but also his creator, Jack Whitney. Names you'll recognize include Peter David, Paul Dini, Mark Evanier, Bruce Timm, Bruce Campbell, Stan Lee, Matt Groenig, Lloyd Kaufman, and Kevin Smith (talking about the Giant Spider™ yet again). And that's only the tip of the cameo iceberg. It takes place at the San Diego Comic Con, so it even attempts to be a documentary of sorts of what it's like to enjoy the chaos of the con - though, I've never been, so I don't know if it succeeds in that.

There's a lot of voice talent here, as Hamill relies on his peer group to provide a lot of the characters. I can't begin to list all their credits here, so I'll just include what they're probably most famous for, along with a few superhero parts. Tom Kenny and Jill Talley (married in real life) play Swann's friend, Derek Sprang and his wife Jill. (Kenny is famous for Spongebob Squarepants, but is also the Mayor and the Narrator on PowerPuff Girls, The Penguin on The Batman; Talley has had parts in Stripperella and The Batman). They both actually had small parts in Sky High, playing the couple the end of the film admiring their new house - my daughter was watching that on the Disney Channel the other night, and I thought I recognized them from this film. [Side note: What's this about a Plastic Man cartoon pilot on Cartoon Network in 2006 starring the couple??]

Billy West plays a long lost relative of Courage creator Whitney (he's Fry on Futurama and has had many other parts, including Captain Righteous on The Powerpuff Girls). Of course, Jess Harnell plays the cameraman (he is Wakko Warner, Sewer Urchin from The Tick, and even did voices in Kim Possible and Underdog). The Hollywood stereotypes are played by Roger Rose (many parts on Batman: The Animated Series; Four-Legged Man from The Tick) and Lori Alan (Invisible Woman from the 90's Fantastic Four series, but probably more known as Diane Simmons on Family Guy). Finally, Daran Norris plays the actor who suits up for Commander Courage, and Codename: Courage (he is J. Jonah Jameson on the new Spider-Man cartoon).

The movie's enjoyable, but there are drawbacks. Jess Harnell is fun, but overacts a bit; the improv starts to come apart about 2/3 of the way through the film; and I'm not sure what the whole Hugh Hefner scene was about, except to fit another cameo in.

Finally, I really liked this blurb in the credits:

Above all, we're thankful to the comic books themselves. So to all the artists and writers, both famous and faceless, we dedicate this film.

See it if you're a comic book or superhero fan, or a fan of indie film.

Don't see it if you're not a fan of any of those 3 things. And e-mail me letting me know why you read this blog - I'm just curious.


Superhero Movie Opening Weekend

It's Saturday night, I'm at Superhero Movie here in Florence, Alabama, the movie is about to start, and the theater is definitely not empty. I'm here. And in this poorly lit theater, you can see the only other person here - my brother, who I dragged here with me.

I'm guessing this doesn't bode well. We'll see.

I Can't Think of a Good Title for This Post

I guess it's been a couple weeks since I've posted. I was off of work for a few days for various reasons and "got to" to lay around and do nothing for a while, so I was able to catch a few films. Silver Hawk had been sitting on my DVR for a few weeks. My brother gave me Comic Book: The Movie for Christmas, so I finally watched that. And finally got to sit through Superman: Doomsday. Of course, I've been playing catch-up with work and life since.

Dang but Kevin Smith got a lot of mileage out of writing that Superman Lives script. Probably more than he would've gotten out of it if it was the script they actually used for Superman Returns. It came up in Comic Book: The Movie, and even as a weird cameo in Doomsday. But I think the funniest telling was in An Evening with Kevin Smith. That DVD's a bit raw, but if your ears can handle it, it's pretty funny.

Doomsday wasn't bad. I wouldn't go out and spend the money on it for myself, but I was lucky enough to have a friend who bought it and didn't like it, so he gave it to me. I'm not sure if it needed to be PG-13. It seems like they just added some gratuitous language and a suggested sexual relationship between Superman and Lois just so they could up the rating. If you haven't seen it, you didn't miss a lot. You already know what I think of Silver Hawk, and I still need to post my Comic Book: The Movie review.

Ah, well; I'm off to see Superhero Movie.

Here's hoping I laugh more than twice.


They come in threes? (Spider-Man, Batman, Punisher)

Well, Spectacular Spider-Man is the third animated television premier I've missed. Maybe this'll be the last. And this one is only because I was too stupid to set the DVR in time. What an idiot. I've got it set now, so I'll be able to catch them from now on.

At least I was able to see The Batman two-part finale. I enjoyed watching the Justice League, but it seems odd that they had to pull in aliens for a finale the second time in a row. It's not like Batman doesn't have a rich history and cast of characters on his own.

Completely unrelated, I happened across the Punisher: War Zone official site. It's got limited content, but it's a pretty cool set up. Check out the link to the right under Upcoming Films.


Silver Hawk (2004) mini review

based on a comic

Tell me if you've heard this one. Rich philanthropist by day, costumed crime fighter by, well, other parts of the day. That's the first masked vigilante rule broken by Lulu Wong (aka Silver Hawk) - she seems to do most of her crimefighting during the day, and we all know that to be most effective she should be doing it at night. Of course, today, Silver Hawk not only has to fight poachers stealing panda bears, she has to go up against madmen bent on world domination!

Yes, Silver Hawk has all the makings of a standard, cookie-cutter superhero film. Though it does have Michelle Yeoh - that's got to count for something. And honestly, the fight choreography was enjoyable - Yeoh is pretty amazing.

It's too bad she couldn't completely make up for the silly writing and poor editing. I'm trying to figure out if the original, being made in Hong Kong, was a completely different movie, and they edited the crap out if for Western, English-speaking audiences. Some scenes are completely chopped - to the point that you can't really follow what's going on. And the dialogue? It appears to have been filmed originally in English (except for a few parts in Chinese), but then that English was dubbed over by English-speaking actors who didn't have accents. This doesn't make a whole lot of sense to me. Or maybe it was dubbed over by the original actors and it was just a poor job of looping in post.

Some other odd, random stuff I have to comment on -

The extreme-sport ninjas were an interesting touch.

Did that guy really just go to old-magazine-covers.com to find old magazine covers?

I was going to note this as not based on a comic, but according to Michelle Yeoh's website, it's based on a comic from the 40's and 50's. Of course, I can't find any other reference on the internet to this comic, much less any other pictures. But maybe that's because it's over 50 years old, and I don't know how to search the web in Chinese.

English actor Luke Goss (Blade II, the upcoming Hellboy II) plays villain Alexendar Wolfe, and Michael Jai White (Spawn, various DC-comics related animated projects, the upcoming Dark Knight) plays one of his henchman.

And the second masked vigilante rule broken by Silver Hawk: When you're about town in your secret identity, never, ever, fight exactly like your super alter ego. In broad daylight. In front of people. So that basically everyone can figure out your secret identity without a bit of detective skill.

See it if like Hong Kong films or Michelle Yeoh, or if you can't sleep and notice that it's on Encore Action tonight.

Don't see it if you're bored with the same old same old in superhero films.


2008 Free Comic Book Day Previews Pop Culture Crossover

Free Comic Book Day is May 3. A few pop culture crossover selections that will be available at comic book stores.

  • Comics Go Hollywood (TwoMorrows Publishing)
    Not a comic, per se, but a background look at Justice League: New Frontier, Heroes, and the X-Men and Batman movies.


  • Graphic Classics (Eureka Productions)
    Adaptations of stories by Edgar Allen Poe, Arthur Conan Doyle, Mary Shelley, and others.
  • Del Ray & Dabel Brothers Preview (Dabel Brothers)
    A little bit Dresden Files; a little bit Wild Cards; a little bit Dean Koontz's Frankenstein: Prodigal Son.


  • Bongo Comics Free-For-All (Bongo)
    It's not a Free Comic Book Day without The Simpsons and Futurama!
  • Gumby's Coloring Comic Book Special (Wildcard Ink)
    It's not a Free Comic Book Day without Gumby!
  • Transformers Animated (IDW)
    Adapation of the first episode of the animated series.


  • Sonic the Hedgehog #1 (Archie Comics)
    It's not a Free Comic Book Day without...ok, that was probably old back on Gumby. This one's a reprint of the first Sonic comic.


  • NASCAR Heroes: All-Stars Special (NASCAR Comics)
    Superhero NASCAR drivers. What will they think of next?


February 2008 Previews Pop Culture Crossover

This month I forego Supernatural, Star Wars, Star Trek and several others for some new and different series and one-shots culled from movies, stories, games and other areas.

  • The Complete Persepolis (TPB, Pantheon Books)
    I had to pick up the book that the Oscar-nominated film was based on.
  • The Mummy Movie Prequel: The Rise & Fall of Xango's Ax #1 (one-shot?, IDW)
    There's another mummy movie coming out next summer?


  • The Dresden Files: Welcome to the Jungle #1 (4-part mini, Dabel Brothers)
    Originally a series of books about a private detective and wizard, it has also been adapted into a SCI FI Channel series. This is an original story penned by the author of the series, Jim Butcher.
  • James Bond: The Paradise Plot (TPB, Titan Publishing)
    Ian Fleming's popular spy. Collection of the aformentioned tale and the non-Fleming Bond story Death Mask!.
  • Mack Bolan, The Executioner: The Devil's Tools #1 (5-part mini, Dabel Brothers)
    I read a book from this classic series quite a while back - I'm surprised this doesn't have a Mature Readers warning.
  • Oz Book 1: Mayhem in Munchkinland! (TPB, Transfuzion Publishing)
    Why does the Wizard of Oz have so many dark adaptations and sequels?
  • Pigeons from Hell #1 (4-part mini, Dark Horse)
    Based on a Robert E. Howard short story - I can't tell when it was written, but it was first published in 1938 - two years after Howard died. You can see the original story here. It was even adapted to an anthology TV show (like Twilight Zone) - Boris Karloff's Thriller.
  • Wild Cards: The Hard Call #1 (6-part mini, Dabel Brothers)
    It's been forever since I've read them, but I loved this George R. R. Martin series about a horrible virus that, when unleashed, killed 90% of those affected, left 9% horribly deformed, and gifted 1% with amazing superpowers. The Hard Call is a new story in the Wild Cards world.


  • Brothers in Arms #1 (new series, Dynamite)
    Based on the WWII game by Ubisoft. Take a look at the website - the game looks pretty intense.
  • Gnome One-Shot (one-shot, superrealgraphics.com)
    I never thought I'd see a comic based on a lawn ornament.
  • Thoreau at Walden (graphic novel, Hyperion Books)
    Walden; or, Life in the Woods - one of the many books on my to-read list. I think I actually have a copy on my shelf, collecting dust. This is an interpretation of Henry David Thoreau's philosophical treatise.

I left a lot out, but I didn't think it necessary to list another Friday the 13th story, or Night of the Living Dead collection.


The Gene Generation

So, what's the deal with The Gene Generation? Is it going straight to DVD? When will I be able to see it?

But nearly as important, is it based on the comic The DNA Hacker Chronicles? Or is the comic just a prequel, and the story got cooked up because it's so cool to base movies on comics (er, graphic novels) right now?

I'm not here to spoil anyone's marketing campaign; I just love comic book movies and really want to get down to the truth - is the film based on a comic book? If it is, I'd like to see the source material - what was the original comic like?

The answer took a little work.

Bloodfire studios is publishing the comic The DNA Hacker Chronicles as a prequel to The Gene Generation. But they're saying it's a redesign of a a "cuberpunk comic" that was a "sold out underground hit". The problem is, I couldn't find a single reference to the "underground" comic anywhere on the internet - except in reference directly to the Gene Generation movie. Bloodfire Studios' web site (linked above) states, "Creator Pearry Teo is quoted saying 'I've held back the idea of re-releasing the comic book unless I can find an amazing slew of artists and cutting edge minded people to work with...'" So, according to them, Teo is the original creator of the underground comic. The Bloodfire Studios ComicSpace page notes that "The DNA Hacker Chronicles is a 6 issue mini series from the mind of Pearry Reginald Teo" and that with it, they are bringing to the U.S. the "...the underground comic sensation that inspired the movie The Gene Generation."


The Gene Generation MySpace blog mentions the re-release of the comic through Diamond Comics. It also says the film is based on the The DNA Hacker Chronicles, showing a pic of Bloodfire's new release. It also gives this little blurb:

From grassroots beginnings, The Gene Generation started out through artists and friends and fans who have a similar vision: That Cyberpunk is still alive and kicking. With only a couple of sketches in 2004, we have come a long way to finally completing a feature film. This myspace page is a dedication to those who have stuck with us as we continue (without studio backing) to push forward in spreading the word about this humble project, both as a comic book and a movie.
Which doesn't tell me much - except maybe both projects started in parallel.

But maybe it's really underground. I couldn't find references on the author's (director's) MySpace page, I couldn't find anywhere that's selling back issues of the "sold out" comic. I mean, sure, maybe it was self-published and there were so few copies that it's extremely rare. But I would think that somewhere on the internet, as much information as gets posted about everything, that somebody would talk about it. Nothing in Google searches, nothing in Wikipedia, nothing on ComicSpace. Nothing concrete on any site related to the Gene Generation or DNA Hackers; just the aforementioned vague references to the sold out underground comic hit.

There are even some interviews that talk about how the movie came about. Teo talks about getting the script in this interview - nothing about a comic. And the interviews on this Gene Generation MySpace page don't allude to a comic book source either.

And finally paydirt. One of the stars of the film (Parry Shen) blogged in December that the comic was coming out in January "to strengthen the audience base for the movie." But the final nail in the coffin was reading on comic book artist Matt Olson's web site that he was working on a "comic adaptation of a feature film." The internet trail can be a funny thing. I found his site from his MySpace page. But I got to his MySpace page from another MySpace page, where he left the comment, "I have this other book series in the works called 'DNA Hacker Chronicles' in the meantime (not my idear but based on a movie) ".

So, it looks to me like Bloodfire Studios cooked up the story for a little publicity.

I think my work here is done.

I'm sorry if I bursted anyone's comic book movie bubble...

But if there is some sort of weird underground comic that came before - somebody please let me know.


Comics on DVD

I've never been much of an anime fan, but Batman: Gotham Knight looks really promising. Comics2Film posted the Press Release for Gotham Knight (which is due out July 8). Apparently it bridges the gap between Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Watching clips reminded of the Animatrix, which I really enjoyed; heck, I even went to see Dreamcatcher just because one of the Animatrix stories (Final Flight of the Osiris) was screening in front of it. The Animatrix ep was worth the $7, even if Dreamcatcher wasn't.

I now realize the following video has been around the 'net (now I'm a day late and a dollar short), but I just watched it, so I thought I'd share this look at Gotham Knight.

In other news, I never realized Sam & Max was adapted to a cartooon - but that complete series is coming out on DVD in a couple weeks. The weird thing about that is my son's name is Max, and we have some close friends who have a son two weeks younger than Max, whose name is Sam. They'll both be 1 in March.

And BTW, it looks like when it was released, Amazon dropped the price of The New Frontier by about 30%. You can pick it up now for $17. Hmmmm...they did the same thing with Confessions of a Superhero. I may think twice about pre-ordering from them...


A Day Late and a Dollar Short

Superhero Movie finally put up a site. Good grief - it's only a month away. I guess the movie won't have to live up to the hype.


Confessions of a Superhero (2008) mini review

about superheroes

You may not know Christopher Dennis, Jennifer Gerht, Maxwell Allen, or Joseph McQueen; but you know who they are when they hit Hollywood Boulevard - Superman, Wonder Woman, Batman, and The Incredible Hulk. Chris, Jennifer, Maxwell, and Joe are actually aspiring actors who make their living playing superheroes in front of Grauman's (previously Mann's) Chinese Theater while trying to find their big break. See them as they struggle with real life, and at times blur the line between reality and fiction (sometimes bordering on delusion). Confessions is an inside look at the subculture of characters roaming Hollywood Blvd who are struggling actors trying to make in the City of Dreams.

Director Matthew Ogens paints a vivid picture of what it's like to be these superheroes - a candid look at their day-to-day struggles. But there seemed to be something missing - maybe it would have added something if the director not only drew the viewer into their lives, but could have made more of an emotional connection with the superheroes. I'm sure that's not an easy feat for a documentarian, but we miss a feeling of empathy with these folks trying to reach their dreams, and all we're left with is sympathy.

For more info, check out the official site, or the director's MySpace page.

See it if you enjoy documentaries, like a good indie film now and again, or are just curious to take a look inside the lives of these struggling actors.

Don't see it if you're more inclined to stick with fictional superheroes.

(OK, technically, I know this is an '07 release, but I'm sticking it in 2008 since most of us couldn't see until the release of the DVD in January '08.)


The Surrogates

The year is 2054, and life has been reduced to a data feed. The fusing of virtual reality and cybernetics has ushered in the era of the personal surrogate, android substitutes that let users interact with the world without ever leaving their homes. It's a perfect world, and it's up to Detectives Harvey Greer and Pete Ford of the Metro Police Department to keep it that way. But to do so they’ll need to stop a techno-terrorist bent on returning society to a time when people lived their lives instead of merely experiencing them.

It's late, and I'm a bit tired, so instead of trying to come up with a description for The Surrogates, I dropped in Top Shelf's blurb for their first TPB. Variety reported last November that Bruce Willis had the starring role in Disney's film adaptation, and I'm adding it to Upcoming Films on the right because on Wednesday, they reported that Disney had set a release date.

It sounds like a great idea. If I remember correctly, Phantom Power had some positive things to say about the comic. Willis's comic book-related films seem to do better than his sci fi films. I wonder how a sci fi comic adaptation will fare. Let's hope this one is more like Unbreakable or Sin City, and less like Fifth Element or Armageddon.


January 2008 Previews Pop Culture Crossover

Quite a group of TPBs, minis, one-shots, and graphic novels coming from various areas of pop culture solicited in the January Previews.

  • Buffy the Vampire Slayer Omnibus #4 (TPB, Dark Horse)
    More Buffy goodness. I don't normally list every new omnibus and TPB, but it is Buffy. Guess I better go back and finish the 3rd one before this comes out.
  • Serenity: Better Days #1 (mini, Dark Horse)
    Prequel to the film, written by Joss Whedon himself.


  • Army of Darkness/Xena: Why Not #1 (4-part mini, Dynamite Entertainment)
    Good grief. I don't even think I have a commentary on this.
  • Buckaroo Banzai: The Prequel #1 (2-part mini, Moonstone)
    Sounds like they try to weave more crazy stuff in than even the film does.
  • DNA Hacker Chronicles #1 (TPB, Abrams)
    Prequel to The Gene Generation. What's up with this film? Is it straight to DVD? When will it be out? Plus, is this another chicken-and-the-egg thing? Is a comic based on a movie or vice versa? More on that later...
  • Fritz Lang's M (TPB, Abrams)
    Out-of-print mini series, packaged with the DVD of the 1931 film.
  • The Godfather Chronicles #1 (new series, Boom! Studios)
    I guess you could argue this belongs under Books, but the films really gained the notoriety. This comic continues the story of the Corleone family, and the first arc is written by Mark Waid.
  • Largo Winch Volume 1: The Heir (TPB, Cinebook)
    Comic that the upcoming French film is based on.
  • The Last Winter (graphic novel, Image)
    Creepy looking film due out on DVD this summer. Ron Perlman and James LeGros? What's not to love? Here's the film's site.


  • Avengers Fairy Tales #1 (4-part mini, Marvel)
    I've been tempted to pick up these series from Marvel - their superheroes as fairy tale characters - but I haven't, yet. Are they any good?
  • Dark Tower: The Long Road Home #1 (5-part mini, Marvel)
    Marvel's second adaptation of the Stephen King series.
  • Dark Wraith of Shannara (graphic novel, Del Rey)
    Sequel to the original Shannara trilogy. I could never get through that series...I'm not really sure why.
  • Holmes (graphic novel, AIT/Planetar)
    Appears to be a really off-beat adaptation of Sherlock Holmes.


  • Star Wars: Clone Wars Photo Comic (one-shot, Dark Horse)
    They sure are milking this photo comic thing. I guess if people keep buying it, they'll keep making it.


  • Dead Space #1 (6-part mini, Image)
    Prequel to a Electronic Arts sci fi / horror game coming out in October. The game sounds Alien-esque, but it look pretty dang scary. Here it is at EA's site.


  • Super Friends #1 (new series, DC)
    Based on Mattel's new Super Friends toy line. (I gotta get me - I mean my son - a Batwing!)

Well, there was just too much stuff to list everything. Is there anything you liked that I missed? Maybe that new Star Trek: New Frontier series?


December 2007 Previews Pop Culture Crossover

Finally got that December Previews. Guess I'll have to keep getting these on-line so this doesn't happen again. Special thanks to morpuddypond who sent me the copy I used for this edition. Hope you enjoy Rex Libris - it went out in the mail today!

OK; so here's my monthly Previews list of interesting comic crossovers with movies, television, books and video games. So, I'm a couple months late, but I've got January and February waiting in the wings!

  • 24: Cold Warriors (one-shot, IDW)
    48 pages of commercial-free Jack Bauer. Does this mean every 2 pages is a full hour of Jack's life?


  • The Terminator Omnibus Volume 1 (TPB, Dark Horse)
    Terminator gets the massive book treatment in this 352-page volume.
  • Jumper: Jumpscars (TPB, Dark Horse)
    It's a comic-book prequel! I still can't tell if that's a combo of "Jumps Cars" or "Jump Scars". The film's out now...it actually look interesting - here's the site.

  • Lords of Avalon: Sword of Darkness #1 (6-part mini, Marvel)
    Swords and sorcery. Adapted from Kinley MacGregor's book.
  • Moby Dick #1 (Marvel Illustrated) (6-part mini, Marvel)
    I've been meaning to pick this up for years. Which raises the question - do you read the book or the comic first?
  • Rogue Angel: Teller of Tales #1 (mini, IDW)
    Never heard of this series of books. Dang, I'm really late with this list - this is already out.
  • Tiger and Crane #1 (4-part mini, Bluewater Productions)
    Chinese folk hero Wong Fei Hung (or Huang Fei-hong) is probably the most prolific film character - he has been portrayed in well over 100 movies. Out of the few I've seen, Jackie Chan's Drunken Master films and Jet Li's Once Upon a Time in China series are pretty amazing. This mini-series teams Wong Fei Hung up with an American spy to prevent the Japanese from winning World War II.
  • Zorro #1 (new series, Dynamite Entertainment)
    Originating in the early 1900's Zorro has also been the subject of numerous stories and films. This incarnation is written by Grendel creator Matt Wagner.


  • Star Wars: The Force Unleashed (graphic novel, Dark Horse)
    I have a special place in my heart for the first person shooter, Star Wars: Dark Forces, but looking at the game this comic is based on it may just surpass it. I'm just glad it's coming out for the PS2. Check out the official site
  • The World of Dungeons & Dragons #1 (new series, Devil's Due)
    I haven't picked up any of the Dragonlance or Forgotten Realms series Devil's Due has put out (though I was a major fan of the books based in both worlds back before marriage, family, job, and blogging), so I don't know the quality of the stories they're currently publishing. I wonder if this series will include stories outside those two worlds.

Some of these books are already shipping...anyone care to share if they're any good? And did I miss anything worth noting?