Toy Commercial Tuesday: Big Blastin’ Rocket Raccoon

I know the whole world fell in love with Guardians Of The Galaxy last year, but we only got around to seeing it this past weekend. Even with the delayed viewing, I think it’s safe to say that this movie become an instant favorite at least amongst my daughter and I (we watched it three times in four days). After giving it a look, I was reminded of a few GOTG collectibles I got sent from Hasbro back when the movie came out including this Big Blastin’ Rocket Raccoon! At first my daughter was terrified of this thing, but after watching the movie, she loves playing with it and already knows all the lines!

Toy Commercial Tuesday: The Avengers

Over the weekend, I introduced my daughter to a bunch of Avengers toys I was sent years ago as a way of hyping the toy tie-in line from Hasbro. Everything came in a super cool, locker-like box but the toys inside proved to be a lot more interesting three years later. My daughter’s just at the right age to actually play with the smaller scale figures and get a kick out of things like a Hulk mask and Iron Man repulsor ray. We’ve also got that shield-slinging Cap which is fun, but the real highlights are the 3 3/4 inch figures which have made their way with us on various outings.

Personal story aside, I forgot how crazy the rap was in these Avengers toy commercials. Wowzers.

Dolph Double Feature: Dark Angel (1990) & The Punisher (1989)

dark angel scream factory Over the past few years, I’ve had a lot of fun diving into the action movies of the 80s and 90s focusing on stars like Sylvester Stallone, Jean-Claude Van Damme and Dolph Lundgren. As it turns out, Lundgren and his films have turned out to be a lot more impressive than I would have imagined. Not only does it turn out that he’s a brilliant man, but what I’ve learned about his life has been pretty fascinating. He also makes really fun movies with lots of kicking and explosions.

One such movie is Dark Angel (a.k.a. I Come In Peace) which I’d never seen and only started hearing about in the last two or three years. Shout Factory recently released the film on Blu-ray and a buddy of mine sent me a copy. I jumped at the chance to start watching the week before last, but fell asleep and then found myself in a place without a Blu-ray player so I had to hold off on finishing until last night. But, I will say the movie about alien drug dealers running afoul of Lundgren’s Detective Jack Caine and his new partner Special Agent Smith (Brian Benben) was worth the wait. While investigating the murder of a police officer, Caine and Smith become more and more aware of the intergallactic threat which they fight in an abandoned warehouse, as you do.

The disc comes with a retrospective that scored Lungren, Benben and director Craig R. Baxley (Action Jackson) to talk about the movie. It was really interesting learning that Baxley was tight with stunt people, so he was able to really beef up the explosions and other action elements, all of which look great in Blu-ray. Lungren also points out an interesting aspect of the story that I didn’t think about, but it’s cool to see a sci-fi movie that’s on a relatively small scale. This isn’t an alien invasion movie with a few people fighting them off, which is what you tend to get. From story and explosions to actors and ideas, I dug Dark Angel and am glad to have it in my collection for repeated viewings.

The Punisher 1989 poster Moving from Dark Angel to The Punisher seemed like a pretty natural move for me. Not only did they come out a year after each other, but they both feature a bad ass Dolph sporting uncharacteristic dark hair! Plus, it helps that the latter has been in my DVD collection for years.

A lot of people complain about how bad comic book movies were for so long and, compared to the effort put in these days, it’s fairly accurate. But, I think The Punisher — directed by Mark Goldblatt (Dead Heat) — is an overlooked gem. Frank Castle is actually one of the easiest comic book characters to bring to film which makes him a good choice for a lower budget, street level movie concept. His wife and kids were killed so now he’s driven by the desire to kill all criminals. There’s no flying or lasers or superpowers, just lots of shooting, punching and explosions which were right up Lungren and company’s alley in the late 80s.

This movie finds Castle living in the sewers, befriending weird rhyming guys like Shake (Barry Otto) who give him information and avoiding cops on the hunt for him like Jake Berkowitz (Louis Gossett Jr.) and Sam Leary (Nancy Everhard, who was in Trial Of The Incredible Hulk that same year too!). Castle’s after a mobster named Gianni Franco (Jeroen Krabbé) who’s on the ropes after years of the Punisher taking out his men compounded with the recent appearance of Lady Tanaka (Kim Miyori) who’s trying to take over by kidnapping all the mobsters’ kids. To save the kids, Punisher teams up with Franco to get his boy back.

The film features several great fight scenes, but there are two particularly fun ones. Castle heads to Coney Island in an attempt to get the kids back and faces off a ton of gun-toting ninjas in an amusement park ride. How rad is that? The end of the movie also features Castle and Franco storming Lady Tanaka’s skyscraper, taking on all kinds of threats as they climb towards their adversary. For some reason, many of these scenes are tinged red, but I still really enjoy this high body count explosion of violence. This is one of the few comic book movies that also fits right in with that great 80s/90s action aesthetic and I love it.

Halloween Scene: Ten Notable Movies That Scared This Jaded Horror Fan

I’ve seen a lot of horror movies since I started getting into the genre around the age of 16. Like a lot of horror fans, I feel like I’ve become somewhat jaded over the years. Once you see enough of these things, you can see the Matrix a little bit and know when a scare is coming — if you can tell the difference between an impending jump scare and a legit one, you’ve got the super scardar. And yet, there are still the scenes that scared us when we started out and even though they’re fewer and farther between these days, the new films that still give us the willies or come out of nowhere to spook us. I figured with Halloween still in the air — and inspired by awesome horror blogger Stacie Ponder doing something similar over on her excellent Final Girl blog — I’d run down the ten movies that scared me over the years. I’m sure there’s more out there in the world, but these are the ones that came to mind, either because they entered my life at just the right time, scared me for a moment or created an atmosphere that still ooks me out to this day. So, in no particular order, here’s the ten movies the still spook me in no particular order. Consider yourself warned, spoilers abound after the jump!

Continue reading Halloween Scene: Ten Notable Movies That Scared This Jaded Horror Fan

To My Mind, Amazing Spider-Man Is Superior

amazing spider-man poster

Like a lot of people, I was dubious when I head about plans to reboot the Spider-Man film franchise so quickly after the previous installment (there’s only 5 years between Spider-Man 3 and Amazing). I’m also about the only person on Earth who doesn’t like Spider-Man 2 (too overwrought) and one of the many people who actively disliked Spider-Man 3, so more Spidey on the big screen wasn’t something I was interested in whatsoever. So, why’d I wind up watching it last night? Pretty simple: we’ve got a Starz’ family movie channel replacing the absent CBS on our cable and it happened to be on. With a general feeling of, “Eh, why not?” and our daughter loving Spider-Man, my wife and I figured we’d give it a shot.

And, you know what? I really enjoyed this movie. I’ll say right now that it’s been years since I watched Spider-Man and my memories of that film have absolutely been tarnished by the sequels, but Amazing compared favorably to that other film as far as I’m concerned. I liked the “figuring out his powers” scene a lot for instance and not just because it included skateboarding.

While still doing the origin thing (which I actually missed as we turned the movie on about 10 or 15 minutes late) the movie focused more on Peter Parker as a high school kid. Before Uncle Ben (Martin Sheen) inevitably passes away, but after Peter discovers his powers, he embraces his new abilities as well as the scientific projects he gets to work on with the one-armed Dr. Connors. They’re working on a limb regeneration experiment that Dr. Curt Connors (Rhys Ifans) winds up using on himself, which turns him into the Lizard, a process that drove him so crazy that he utilized a device to try and spread the lizard-izing chemicals all over NYC. Meanwhile, Peter’s flirting with Gwen Stacy (Emma Stone) and meeting her dad (Denis Leary) who doesn’t like the vigilante running around his city.

First and foremost, I adored Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker and Spider-Man. I’d only ever saw him in The Social Network and wasn’t sure how he’d play as one of the world’s most iconic superheroes, but I thought he killed it. He nailed the darkness that comes from the loss of a loved one along with the general high school angst. This isn’t just the story of Peter Parker becoming Spider-Man, but the story of a boy dealing with the loss of his father figure while also working through actual parental issues and you feel that throughout the film. Then, a few minutes later, he’s doing the whole jokey thing which is clearly his way of embracing his new life. Some people complained that there wasn’t enough joking around, but that made sense with this story which gets pretty intense pretty quickly.

I also appreciated what they didn’t do in this movie. There’s no “With great power comes great responsibility” or wrestling match or Mary Jane or J. Jonah Jameson or Norman Osborn. Those elements are there in various forms, but after seeing those things done already, it was nice to see them skipped over this time around. My biggest concern going into Amazing was that it would be far too much of a rehash. Sure, director Marc Webb ((500) Days Of Summer) makes nods to the comic book and movie origins but also puts a spin on them that makes sense within the context of this film.

amazing spider-man poster 2

I should also note that I’ve never read Spider-Man comics aside from an Ultimate Spider-Man binge-read I did years ago that got me up to around the #100 mark (I didn’t dig it). So, while watching this version of the story I wasn’t concerned with “Hey, that’s not like the comic” or constantly comparing it to the hundreds of comics I’ve read (like I did with Dark Knight Rises and Man Of Steel). Thanks to that disconnect I was able to just sit back and enjoy the film.

Oh, the special effects are rad too. I know they did as much practically as they could, but even the super CGI-y scenes made sense and looked pretty good on my TV. I’d still like to watch the movie on Blu-ray at some point to really see how good or bad it looks.

I dug the movie and so did my kid actually. It’s funny the little things here and there that she picks up on. There’s a part where Peter’s supposed to pick up eggs but gets sidetracked. My wife and I both joked that he forgot the eggs when he got back to the house and our daughter kept asking about the eggs throughout the movie. Unfortunately, she fell asleep before that was all wrapped up at the end of the movie, yet another reason to watch the movie again!

Trade Post: American Born Chinese & Ghost World

american born chinese American Born Chinese (First Second)
Written & drawn by Gene Luen Yang

Several years ago I was talking to a friend of mine from high school who is now an English teacher. She asked me if I had any suggestions for comics, trades or graphic novels that might be useful examples of the form for her AP students to read. I want to say she’d already read Watchmen at this point, so I went with several suggestions of books that I had either read myself or heard were good and passed whatever hard copies I had along to her for her perusal.

Well, today I got a box from her in the mail with all those books. I remembered passing her Dan Clowes’ Ghost World, Mo Willems’ travelog You Can Never Find a Rickshaw When It Monsoons and a pair of Marjane Satrapi books — Embroideries and Chicken With Plums — but had no recollection of giving her Gene Luen Yang’s American Born Chinese. This surprised me because it’s a book that I’ve been hearing about since it came out in 2006, especially from my pals at Wizard who were for more tapped in to the indie comic and graphic novel scene like Sean T. Collins and Kiel Phegley.

Anyway, getting this box today was kind of like comic Christmas. I felt like reading something I was excited about and ABC fit the bill. I’m going to say right now that I only knew that people liked this book and understood that it had something to do with trying to fit in as a kid of Chinese lineage in America. That’s it. So I was pleasantly surprised by everything in this book. If you’ve heard good things and want to check it out, I recommend stopping here and getting your hands on a copy because it was a delight having this tale unfold before me.

If you’re still here, I’ll explain a bit more. The book features three different stories. One is of a monkey king who flirts with the idea of becoming a man, another stars a wildly racist version of a Chinese person visiting and embarrassing a high school student and the third follows Jin Wang as he does his best to navigate a school that’s not overly friendly to him while dealing with all the feelings and emotions any kid that age finds themselves surrounded by. All three stories are really enjoyable, but it’s tough to talk about how good they get without getting into spoilers.

So, this paragraph is SPOILER TERRITORY. The beauty of this book is that it kept these three stories going along and each one was super entertaining. I wondered why I was reading all three in the same book, but it didn’t bother me much. Then — BAM — you find out how they’re related and it’s this great Usual Suspects like moment where the good thing you were reading just revealed to you that it’s great. What started out as three different stories turned into this much more impressive non-linear fable that left me a little slack jawed, I must say. That was a great experience and I hope repeated readings will only add to the experience.

I can easily say that all the hype around ABC is dead-on accurate. There are bits in this book that made me laugh, cringe, feel sad, remember the awkwardness of growing up and even thrill to some pretty spectacular action. For all that, it gets a gigantic thumbs up.

Ghost World Ghost World (Fantagraphics)
Written & drawn by Dan Clowes
Collects Eightball #11-18

I don’t remember when I first read Ghost World, but I feel like my reaction to this book has probably changed since then. I want to say we first crossed paths in college. That’s when I was really building up my trade collection by buying cheap lots of on ebay. I wound up with a wide variety of books to explore. I’m not sure if I saw the movie before reading its sequential inspiration or not, but kind of think that was the case.

Ghost World first appeared in Dan Clowes’ self-published comic Eightball which also birthed The Death Ray and Art School Confidential. The comic follows lifelong friends Enid and Rebecca as they wander around town, talk and create complicated backstories for the people they encounter. It’s nearly impossible for me to separate this comic from some of the indie movies I rented from Family Video back in the late 90s/early 00s because it has that kind of slice of life, slightly meandering tone that shines the spotlight on young people trying to figure out the world. 

The problem? These young people are assholes. Man, I feel ancient writing that sentence. But, reading this book kind of made me feel ancient anyway and not just because I wanted to shake Enid and tell her to get out of her own ass and actually do something, but also because Teenage Me probably did and said many of these same things. Let me amend that, I probably said the same things, I would have never called a personal ad guy and set him up for a fake date. That level of meanness has always bothered me and it makes me dislike Enid pretty strongly.

But I think that’s the point. I’m not very familiar with Clowes’ work, but from what I gather he enjoys presenting unlikable or hard-to-like characters and giving the reader an idea of what their lives are like. You definitely get that with Enid and Rebecca. This book doesn’t go deep into the hows and whys of their relationship or psyches, but you do get to form your own opinions of such things as they talk. And, as things progress throughout the story, you do come to realize that things are going to change for these women. Enid’s dad wants her to go to college, the mere idea of which winds up creating a rift between Enid and Rebecca, one that gets them both to reevaluate their relationship and what they’re doing with their lives.

At the end of the day, I don’t think I need to read Ghost World again. It’s not a bad book by any means. Clowes knows how to tell a story, expertly combining dialog, pacing and cartooning skills to get you into the story, but also keep you involved even when you might not like the people you’re reading about. After returning to this book, though, I’m left feeling like I did about some of those indie movies I mentioned: regardless of how I felt about the people, I respect the artistry involved, but I don’t think I need to revisit any time soon. Then again, Clowes is one of the most well respected cartoonists around so it might be worth keeping around for a while…

I Very Much Enjoyed Man Of Steel

man-of-steel-poster I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, getting into Superman comics in the early 90s changed my life. Finding out about the death of the icon lead me into the world of comics sparking my imagination and introducing me to a hobby I still enjoy to this day as well as a career that allows me to spend every day with my daughter while playing reporter, Clark Kent-style. But, that doesn’t mean I love everything related to the character. In fact, I’m pretty much the only person I know who doesn’t like the movie from 1978 starring Christopher Reeve. That’s just not my Superman. My Superman didn’t have quite so much goofiness. As you might expect, I’m also not a fan of Bryan Singer’s Superman Returns which suffers from not only a connection to movies I don’t like, but also creative choices that don’t service that character very well. Still, there’s great things in that movie, it’s just not a Superman story.

But, even given my mostly negative reaction to his previous film Sucker Punch, I was hopefully optimistic for Zack Snyder’s Man Of Steel. I liked what he did with Dawn Of The Dead, 300 and Watchmen, properties that I adore, have no experience with and like respectively. Plus, even though Sucker Punch was a mess, I assumed that Warner Bros. and producer Christopher Nolan would be able to temper Snyder’s whims better than he did on his own with his previous offering. Sucker Punch also looked freaking fantastic and did masterful things with CGI fight scenes that I figured would work their way into Man Of Steel.

So, when it happened that the latest Superman movie was scheduled to debut on Father’s Day weekend and my in-laws were in town, my wife decided to take me to the picture shows to celebrate the most important holiday of them all. Aside from Dark Knight Rises, I can’t remember the last movie I saw a movie in theaters, so this was a nice treat. We got there early and secured pretty good seats which was a wise call on our part because it filled up pretty quickly. I was happy to see people of all ages, even families, pouring in to watch Superman on the big screen.

And it turned out to be a great experience. The crowd mostly followed movie etiquette and also seemed to get engrossed with the film. I also have to commend the Showcase in Newburgh for having some really high quality digital projection. I’m not sure if I’ve seen a movie in theaters that looked as good as this one (outside of IMAX of course). Oh and I really enjoyed the movie itself too, which was a relief.

I’m going to throw up the SPOILER WARNING right here because I knew relatively little going into the movie and enjoyed seeing how it unfolded. So, if you don’t want to know about the flick, stop here. The story winds up covering a lot of ground, starting with Superman’s dad Jor-El trying to convince the Kryptonian council that they need to abandon their planet in order to keep the race going. Having foreseen these planetary problems well in advance Jor-El and his wife Lara decided to have a child by way of natural methods instead of the cloning processes used on the planet for centuries. In order to save their only son, Jor-El and Lara planned to launch him into space where he would land on Earth, a planet of beings physically similar to Kryptonians, but that would grant their child amazing abilities. At the same time, General Zod and his people decide to overthrow the government, but they disagree with Jor-El’s methods and there’s more conflict there. Kal-El winds up getting shot into space, Zod and his people get captured and sentenced to imprisonment in the Phantom Zone and Krypton eventually explodes.

Cut to Earth where an adult Clark Kent travels the world trying to stay anonymous, but usually breaking off to use his fantastic powers to help save people. Lois Lane winds up discovering his true identity while at the same time Zod and his fellow prisoners show up near Earth demanding they turn over Kal-El. Just before that, Clark learned his true identity, got his suit and went on to not only work alongside the U.S. government but also do his best to work with Zod, though that turned out to be less than likely thanks to Zod’s desire to terraform Earth in order to revive the Kryptonian race there. Many fights ensued.

As much as I love Superman and have what I like to call MY era of his adventures (basically post-Crisis to New 52) I enjoyed the changes that Snyder and screenwriter David S. Goyer made. It makes sense that one of the best reporters around would be able to figure out who Superman really is. That completely shifts the paradigm of the Lois and Clark relationship, but since you’re dealing with a movie instead of something more episodic like comics or TV, I think that’s a fine alteration. I also really enjoyed how human and realistic Superman is. This is a very new, young hero, one who has the ideals of the hero I know and love, but doesn’t know how to do everything all the time. He flies through buildings without checking to see if people are inside, he causes all kinds of damage to the city and, well, he does that thing at the end. An experienced Superman wouldn’t do those things, but one without any kind of real training or experience? That guy would do these things. I appreciate how it all makes sense within the confines of the story.

Of couse, it’s not a perfect film, though few are. I’m not quite sure where I fall on Michael Shannon as Zod. He was a little too “screaming evil bad guy” for my liking. The challenge whenever you’re dealing with a villain, especially one who wants to destroy our world, is making him sympathetic. And, when you really THINK about Zod, he’s sympathetic because he wants to save his people, but he doesn’t ever come across as likable or even levelheaded, so most people just dislike him, write him off as crazy and wait for the fight scenes.

And boy, are there fight scenes in this movie. It is difficult to follow them sometimes because they go by so fast. The camera also moves A LOT in this movie, like they gave the cameraman 19 extra cups of coffee before yelling “Action.” But, at the same time, we’re dealing with ridiculously fast beings instead regular humans. These scenes got a little video game-y at times, but I enjoyed them all the same. I would have liked to have seen more practical effects, but I’m not sure if that’s even possible given the way these crazy fights were mapped out.

I also had a bit of a problem with the in-your-face Jesus comparisons. In addition to being 33 (Jesus’ age when he died) and striking at least one overt on-the-cross pose, Clark also goes to a church where he talks to a priest directly in front of a stain glass window featuring Jesus. It was so on the nose that it made my eyes roll. I’m also not a fan of tying Superman to any one religion, or religion at all really. He might be his own man with his own beliefs, but he’s also supposed to be a hero of the people. You could have just as easily done that scene with him talking to anyone in the entire world. I wish they had gone that way because, as it is, that church scene feels incredibly trite.

I’m also not sure what to do with the fact that the only person in the film to bring up evolution is the most evil Kryptonian in the group: Faora. I can understand Zod’s desire to save his people, but Faora just seems to enjoy fighting and killing. She brings up evolution while talking about how the Kryptonians are going to destroy humanity and that just seemed weird to me. Maybe I’m reading too much into it, but I think there might be a pro-religion, anti-science message in this movie that I do not go in for.

Speaking of Faora, holy crap Antje Traue is a villainous treasure. She looked at every solider shooting at her like that single friend you have looking at your kid when they’re doing something cute and the friend could not be less interesting. It’s amazing. In fact, aside from my on-the-fence-ness when it comes to Shannon, I thought the casting in this movie was delightful. Henry Cavill perfectly captured Superman and Clark Kent. Plus he’s dreamy! Amy Adams nailed Lois Lane, one of the greatest ficitonal characters of all time. She might not look like the version of Lois that lives in my brain, but she matched the actions completely. It’s all good from there, too, with Diane Lane as Ma Kent, Kevin Costner as Pa, Russell Crowe as Jor-El, Ayelet Zurer as Lara and, well, literally everyone else in the cast.

Man of Steel PosterWhich is a roundabout way of bringing me to another elements of the film I enjoyed: they didn’t make a big deal about a lot of the Superman comic book elements brought into the film. Kelex is in this thing, you guys! That’s a pretty deep geek reference and yet it’s not distracting if you have no idea who or what that is. It also seemed like they didn’t refer to Metropolis as Metropolis until it was shown on a computer monitor in one of the military war rooms, but I could be wrong on that one. Ma and Pa Kent weren’t actually referred by those titles. They also didn’t try to shove too much of the relatively unimportant Daily Planet staff into the film. Since we’re dealing with a pre-Metropolis Supes here, it makes way more sense that they not be heavily featured in this film. But, it’s still great to see them doing their things and showing what to expect with potential sequels. More Jenny Olsen please!

The more I think about this movie the more I enjoy it. I stayed away from just about anything anyone was saying going in, so I’m not sure what the complaints are. I’d assume the end rubbed a lot of people the wrong way. The slowish pace of setting up yet another superhero origin on film — one that most people probably know the very basics of — also might not have sat well, but I enjoyed the slow burn. What did you guys think?

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Man Of Steel Exploders

I’m pretty excited about Man of Steel which debuts this weekend. So, I figured I’d look around for some Superman related toy commercials and was surprised to find that there aren’t that many on YouTube. I’m not sure if this one, or a version of it, is even running anywhere, but I did see the Exploders toys at a store recently, so I know that they exist. This commercial was actually posted in the fall of last year, but it certainly reflects the details we know about the film: Zod comes to Earth on the Black Zero which happens to be packed with Kryptonians loyal to him and they fight. While my personal tastes tend to veer towards more traditional action figures, I like the play value involved with these Exploders. Superman obviously doesn’t stretch (unless you’re reading wacky Silver Age stories) but it’s a cool way to get to the idea of flying through the air and smashing through bad guys and other obstacles.

Casting Internets

Got some pretty old and dusty links as usual. Think there’s still some interesting stuff in here so enjoy!

My buddy Kiel Phegley interviewed the wonderful Jim Rugg about his upcoming magazine/comic mash-up Supermag which sounds pretty amazing. (via CBR)

I’ve talked about my pal Alex Kropinak’s blog before, but it’s worth mentioning it again to bring up an animated TTT from our ToyFare days that I had completely forgotten about. Muppets!

I’m really enjoying the DC Showcase Tumblr which, as you might expect, just shows all kinds of DC covers, pin-ups and interior pages.

A game designer invented a game called A Game for Someone and buried it in the desert so future people could play it 2000 years from now. Fascinating. (via Polygon)

Tom Junod’s Esquire piece about how the anti gay marriage talk has negatively tinted adoption is pretty fascinating.

On a lighter note, Esquire also posted a story about The Asylum, the company that puts out all those bullshit mockbusters like Transmorphers.

Horror Movie A Day has come to an end. Thanks for all the years of great reviews BC! Glad to hear he’s going to still review flicks when he as the time and desire, that’s the way to go in my opinion.

My lovely wife sent me this Jezebel piece about how lots of people will be freelancing in the future. Writer Lauren Beck’s assessment of the positive and negative sides of the freelance lifestyle are dead-on in my opinion. I wonder if Jezebel’s looking for another writer…

Once again, Jim Zub is dropping all kinds of creator owned comics knowledge. A must read for anyone interested in taking this route creatively.

I fully support Patrick Duffy’s idea of doing a Step By Step reunion special. Make it so! (via THR)

I always wondered why there wasn’t a Wayne’s World 3, according to this THR piece, it was because there were a few feuds going on between Mike Myers and Dana Carvey and also Myers and director of the first film Penelope Spheeris. It’s been so long since I started acquiring links that this has now already happened and been covered by Deadline.

Hero Complex talked about the evolution of superhero entertainment by way of the old Shazam! show and the Cathy Lee Crosby Wonder Woman TV movie.

Scott Snyder has a new horror comic called The Wake in the works with Sean Murphy. This is very good news. The only negative? It’s not through Vertigo which means I didn’t get to interview them about it for CBR. Don’t worry, Josie Campbell is more than capable and did a bang up job on the piece.

No joke, I was just thinking to myself, “I wonder if there’s anywhere I can download those Mickey Castle/World of Illusion games. And now they’re getting rebooted DuckTales style. This is all very good news. (via Topless Robot)

Buffy’s Anthony Head being on Warehouse 13 makes perfect sense. I have no idea if I’m caught up on that show or not. (via TVLine)

I love a good martial arts tournament movie and Keanu Reeves’ Man of Tai Chi looks might it just be that. Cool. (via Collider)

In other movie news, I thought it was pretty interesting and not super surprising that the rights for the Daredevil movies reverted back to Marvel Studios. Not sure how that will fit in with the larger film universe — and I’m not sure it really has to — but here’s hoping for a solid flick. (via CBR)

We Want Action: Dredd (2012)

dredd-poster I’m turning into an old man or rather an even older man, depending on your perspective, I guess. I used to be able to stay up all hours of the night and then get up and do what I needed to do, but since our daughter has started getting up between 6:30 and 7:00AM every morning, those are days of the past. I only say all this because it wound up taking me three or four nights to actually watch Dredd. That’s in no way a commentary on the movie itself, just my inability to stay awake past midnight most nights.

Anyway, Dredd is one of those movies that didn’t seem to have much of a PR push behind it, snuck into movie theaters and did almost no business (it only made $36 million worldwide with a $50 million budget). But, the people that did see it all seemed to love it. I’ve got to agree with the folks that dug this movie because it’s pretty fantastic and requires absolutely no knowledge of the longstanding title character whose been starring in 2000 AD and the Judge Dredd Megazine over in the UK for decades.

The basic concept here is that, basically, the entire eastern coast of the United States has morphed into one giant city called Mega-City One. It’s an overcrowded  corrupt place filled with degenerates, criminals and people just trying to get by. The only ones standing between the good and the bad are the Judges, a group of law officers who not only enforce the law, but also mete out punishment according to the law. The film follows Judge Dredd (played by Star Trek‘s Karl Urban) as he trains rookie officer Cassandra Anderson (the bewitching Olivia Thirbly) who also happens to be a mutant with psychic abilities. While out on patrol they’re called to a massive building that’s essentially a project house that’s run by a drug running gangster called Ma-Ma (Lena Headey). Dredd and Anderson wind up getting trapped inside the building with Ma-Ma’s goons gunning for them and things play out from there.

Yes, it sounds like a futuristic version of The Raid, but stylistically, there are completely different approaches to the basic idea of fighting mobsters in a high-rise. While The Raid gets so real and intense that it’s almost disturbing, Dredd kept a kind of hyperkinetic-but-still-real tone that featured futuristic, voice-activated weaponry, a bit less hand-to-hand combat and more explosions and giant guns.

I haven’t seen any of Pete Travis’ other movies, but I thought he did a really killer job with Dredd. The movie keeps itself in a fairly limited locale that doesn’t require a gigantic budget but does that one location really, really well. You can tell from watching that this film was basically a test of concept for the viability of Judge Dredd in film. While it might not have been a financial success, I’d say it was a successful proof of concept. I really felt the intensity of Dredd as an upholder of the wall ans I thought Thirbly was just mesmerizing to watch and the world felt real and raw and like the kind of place that needs these kinds of protectors. I would love to see a more sprawling story set in this world, but that’s probably not happening any time soon. To feed the Dredd jones I now have, I’m trying to get my hands on the first volume of the Judge Dredd Complete Case Files, but the person I tried to buy it from on Amazon bailed on the transaction (I’m guessing because they realized the $14 book they were selling was much lower in cost than the $30 versions other people are trying to sell) and have since placed a bid on an ebay auction. We’ll see. There’s a lot there to get through, but it’s a journey I’m willing to take…if I can get the books relatively cheap.