New York Comic Con

2009-02-12
12:08:19 am

So, as I’m sure you’re aware, this past weekend was the enormous New York Comic Con. I’ve actually gone every year and the show gets better and better, though, that’s pretty easy considering how poorly laid out it was the first year.

I mostly walked around and talked to my various ToyFare contacts, but I also got a chance to flip through some boxes of cheap trades ($5, 50% off and best of all, buy 1 get 2 free!!!). So, keep an eye out for a bunch of trade reviews in the coming days and weeks (including a four trade Black Panther retrospective).

Aside from that, I was too much of a wuss to talk to any artists and get sketches in my Green Lantern themed sketchbook (as of now, it’s got one sketch, though it is a pretty cool Koi Pham Guy Gardner). So, if any artists are reading this and want to contribute, let me know 🙂

Last but not least Justin Aclin, the big man at ToyFare, lead a slew of us in a Twisted ToyFare Theatre panel that turned out to be a lot of fun. So, thanks to anyone who came out for that and anyone who wished me a happy birthday on Friday (my 26th).

And, seriously, if you’re an artist and want to draw some rad Green Lanterns, drop me a line!

Halloween Scene: With (Robot) ‘Friends’ Like These…

2009-02-05
3:16:36 pm

You know how sometimes your friend will tell you about a movie that sounds pretty awesome and then, in fact, turns out to BE pretty awesome? Well, I was hoping that would happen after Rickey gave me the following description of Wes Craven’s Deadly Friend (1986) (paraphrased, of course): “So, there’s this kid who built a robot and he likes this girl. A neighbor shoots the robot and the girl’s abusive dad accidentally kills her, so the kid combines them and the robo girl starts killing people.” He then sends me a clip of a girl throwing a basketball at an old woman and her head EXPLODES (it’s on YouTube, just search for Deadly Friend) and I was sold.

Unfortunately, Deadly Friend is a freaking boring movie. If the above premise sounds awesome and you love the YouTube clip, don’t bother with the movie. Just watch the clip over and over and you’ll get more enjoyment out of this flick because, even though the clip promises Machine Girl levels of gore, that one scene is about all you get. There’s also a really weird scene at the very end (I guess this is a SPOILER, but seriously, don’t bother seeing this movie) where the kid is standing over the dead girl and her skin starts tearing away to reveal a sleeker version of the robot underneath her skin. It’s actually a pretty cool looking scene, but it doesn’t make any sense seeing as how he merely put some kind of chip into her chest cavity to bring her back from the dead.

To be completely honest, I don’t remember a lot of the other details about the movie because it was boring, I watched it a few weeks ago and I was probably either dozing off or reading a trade towards the end, but I do remember that the robot looked like a weird combination of Wall-E and Johnny 5 from Short Circuit (a movie I freaking LOVED as a kid). Oh, also, Christy Swanson plays the girl/robot, but even that wasn’t interesting enough to keep me, well, interested.

Speaking of Johnny 5, his human companion, Steph-a-nie (a.k.a. Ally Sheedy) stars in the other robot movie I watched in the past few weeks, Man’s Best Friend (1993). I can’t say that Man’s Best Friend is a movie I’ve been wanting to see for years or anything, though I do remember seeing the box in my local video store. In fact, the only reason I watched it is because it was going to disappear from my Netflix Watch Instantly thing. Plus it boasted Lance Henriksen in a starring role, so I figured, what the heck?

It’s not a great movie, but I’d probably watch it again before I’d watch Deadly Friend. The basic idea is that Sheedy’s a news lady who’s trying to expose animal testing at some kind of facility only to accidentally free a dog named Max that turns out to be an experiment in genetics and robotics. You see, Henriksen and his scientist buddies combined the DNA of animals like monkeys, owls and squirrels (or something) into a dog, but he’s also part robot for some reason (again, I got bored and missed some presumably important plot points).

Anyway, the dog’s dangerous and has some pretty cool kills, especially if you keep telling yourself it’s not a real dog climbing a tree and devouring a clearly real cat (the dog is the obvious fake in this case). The kills are pretty cool, but the whole time I was kind of dumbfounded this this movie got made. I’m not really familiar with either Henriksen or Sheedy’s careers at this point, so this could either have been a movie with pretty big names or a desperate grab for cash from two not-so-hot-anymore stars, but man, what a weird movie.

So, if you’re feeling like watching a robot movie, watch Wall-E or Short Circuit. If you’re looking for a robot movie about killing and you’ve seen the Terminator movies a million times, I guess you could check out Man’s Best Friend. And, if you’re a Craven completist, I still recommend skipping Deadly Friend.

Iron Mongering: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. & Secret Invasion War Machine

2009-02-03
9:09:57 pm

In my ever-expanding quest to read more Iron Man comics I decided to give a few recent trades a shot, which brought be to Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. and Secret Invasion: War Machine. I wanted to read all of the post-Civil War Iron Man books, but couldn’t find them in the library, so this will do.

IRON MAN: DIRECTOR OF S.H.I.E.L.D.

Written by Daniel and Charles Knauf, drawn by Roberto de la Torre

As some of you may know, I was involved in the weekly Civil War Room review column on wizarduniverse.com lead by former Wizard staffer Rickey Purdin. I enlisted thinking it would be a seven week commitment (that’s how long it was supposed to take to come out right?). Well, it turned into an over year long commitment in which I read 99% of the Civil War related comics (thank you vacation). Anyway, because of all this, I feel pretty confident in saying that Iron Man was not a well handled character at the time, at least in my opinion.

So, with that in mind, I was pretty apt to skip Iron Man’s post-Civil War comic which saw him in charge of S.H.I.E.L.D. an organization most well known for being lead by one of the coolest characters in the known universe, Nick Fury. But, alas, that didn’t keep me away forever.

This trade is a pretty interesting one. The writers Knauf spin an intriguing yarn with plenty of espionage and superheroics all the same. I really like how Tony has built Iron Man-like armor for his S.H.I.E.L.D. agents. That’s a cool touch that really makes sense. Also, I like how Dum Dum Dugan doesn’t like Tony’s way of running S.H.I.E.L.D. (like a business instead of a military organization). There’s some pretty cool moments between the two of them as their relationship grows over the issues.

The book, which collects Iron Man #15-18, also features the return of the handless Mandarin who gets the alien power rings surgically inserted into his spine. I really wish I had the next few volumes to read between this and Secret Invasion to see how that played out. Some day I guess…

All in all, good stuff. Maybe not an easy entry point for new readers, but it’s a good read for the initiated and also reprints two older stories, one starring Nick Fury, the other Iron Man. There’s also reprints of some Marvel Spotlight: Civil War stuff and Marvel Handbook stuff, so that’s a good deal.

SECRET INVASION: WAR MACHINE

Written by Chris Gage and drawn by Sean Chen

This book collects the repurposed Iron Man: Director of S.H.I.E.L.D. issues (#33-35) which were dubbed War Machine: Weapon of S.H.I.E.L.D. while Iron Man was stuck in the Savage Land for six months.

I actually really dug this story. It’s one of the cooler Secret Invasion tie-ins, far as I’m concerned. What you get is Jim Rhodes, a.k.a. War Machine, getting a distress call from Tony telling him that StarkTech had been compromised by the Skrulls, but luckily Rhodey (who’s apparently a cyborg who looks an awful lot like Cyborg now) doesn’t have StarkTech inside him, so he’s cool. Tony also leads him to a satellite that’s shielded from everyone that also transforms into a giant robot that Rhodey can control.

The story also has a pretty good tussle with the Winter Guard, some cool Super Skrulls that actually get identified (why couldn’t they tell us who made up ALL the Skrulls?!) and a character by the name of Suzi Endo who is apparently known, but not by me. I wish this book would have come with some kind of intro or a Handbook entry on some of the characters to let me know what’s up with them, but I got the gist of it. I haven’t read the new War Machine book, but this definitely makes me want to, especially if it has a satellite that transforms into a giant robot!!!

Trade Post: Marvel Mania

2009-02-02
5:46:11 am

Time for some merry musings about a myriad of Marvel’s most moving…comics. Wow, that’s harder than it looks. Stan Lee should write an alliterative dictionary. Anyway, I’ve been catching up on some recent Marvel stuff that I missed out on the first time around, so here goes:

GHOST RIDER: HELL BEND & HEAVEN BOUND (Marvel)

Written by Jason Aaron and drawn by Roland Boschi & Tan Eng Huat

I’ve been hearing about how awesome Jason Aaron’s Ghost Rider run has been, that it kind of takes a grindhouse approach to a character whose book wasn’t exactly setting the world, ahem, aflame. Maybe it’s because it’s been hyped up so much, but I didn’t find this volume, which collects Ghost Rider #20-25, all that awesome. Sure it was cool seeing Ghost Rider get mixed up with some ghosts on a highway and crazy nurses, but for me it never went beyond being just cool. I also couldn’t help but feel like these were all Hellblazer stories bounced to another universe and used on Ghost Rider. That’s probably not a fair comparison, but I do like the general approach to the character. Hey, I wouldn’t be reading the book otherwise.

Also, I’m generally not a fan of the art, but I think it works in a book like this. It’s kind of like how I wouldn’t normally like some of the artists who do BPRD or Hellboy minis, but in the context of that kind of book the art really works well. It’s pretty much the same thing here. All this being said, I will give the next volume a read, just to see how it goes, hopefully I’ll be surprised.

THE INCREDIBLE HERCULES: AGAINST THE WORLD (Marvel)

Written by Greg Pak & Fred Van Lente and drawn by Koi Pham and others

Man, this is a good book. I loved Planet Hulk as it was happening but wasn’t all that thrilled with World War Hulk (I’m not a fan of Romita Jr.’s). After all that I was kind of mad that Jeph Loeb was writing a Hulk book while Greg Pak, the guy who made Hulk awesome again got relegated to a Hercules book. I later found out that this was how Pak wanted to do things and heard good things about Herc, so I’m giving it a shot and unlike Ghost Rider, I’m 100% sold on Incredible Herc.

The book is great. Hercules is a pretty fascinating character, not just the wine swilling rogue we’ve seen in issues of Avengers past, but a really complicated dude who’s lived an amazingly long life. The writers really dig deep, but don’t pile things on too heavily and bury the fun. And there’s plenty of fun.

Herc’s chum in all this is Amadeus Cho, the seventh smartest person (first smartest kid) on Earth (I’d like to see the list in ranked order), a character I’ve grown to like in his few appearances leading up to and including WWH. Cho’s obsessed with shutting S.H.I.E.L.D. down because of how they treated Hulk, but Herc doesn’t want to destroy the good with the bad. Meanwhile, Ares is attacking Herc a lot, trying to put his arrogant, famous brother down.

My one complaint about Incredible Herc is that I’m not a big fan of Ares’ characterization. I really really liked Michael Avon Oeming’s Ares miniseries from a few years ago, but I feel like the character he set up there hasn’t really been used as much beyond “big huge bad ass” in later appearances. Here he’s a crazy, jealous dude who just wants to put Herc down. It’s kind of strange and maybe that’s how his character has been developed in books I haven’t read, but it just feels a little off to me and took me a bit out of the story.

I can’t wait to check out the next trade, which, I think, will be Secret Invasion stuff. I read one issue when it came out and really liked it, but it was part 2 or 3 and I missed the rest.

Smokin’ Aces (2006)

2009-01-30
12:27:45 am

I really, REALLY wanted to like Smokin’ Aces when it came out in 2006. A bunch of us from Wizard were so psyched that we went to see it in the theater and man was I disappointed. I wanted so much for it to be this awesome battle of crazy hired killers killing each other at breakneck speeds. But, that’s not exactly what we got.

So, like I said I was disappointed. But sometimes I don’t like something because it doesn’t match up to my expectations, not necessarily because it’s a bad piece of work. For instance I hated Superman Returns when I first watched it. That sure as heck isn’t the Superman I’ve been reading about since I was a kid (the same reason I don’t like the original Superman movies either, but that’s a discussion for another time). But, upon further viewings I like the movie more. I’m not in love with it (Superman has a KID!) and it’s not even close to my top 20 (maybe even 50) comic based movies. I don’t really agree with the director or writers choices, but it’s a well put together movie.

I can’t say that’s the same case with Aces, though. The movie suffers from all kinds of pacing issues and an overwhelming amount of information, characters and business. Plus, you’ve got the bid end twist (which is incredibly telegraphed, too much I’d say) and then the VERY end is just ridiculous (why the heck would they let him in the room?). The alternate “Cowboy Ending” makes a LOT more sense, though it wouldn’t have made up for the whole thing. I feel like there’s a really good story in there somewhere, but frankly, it’s buried under a mountain of other unnecessary bits of business. The last 20-30 minutes have so many head-slapping and scratching moments that it really kills the movie.

There are some fun moments and bits that have more to do with casting and coincidence than the story. The redneck brothers have a pretty cool shoot-out with blades, guns, a rocket launcher (?) and a chainsaw that’s too short, but still great. Basically, it’s what you expect from the whole movie, but it only lasts a few minutes and resolves itself oddly. Aside from that and one other shoot-out, though, the movie lacks action. It doesn’t lack an awesome cast though. Here’s a brief list: Ryan Reynolds, Ray Liotta, Jeremy Piven, Ben Affleck, Peter Berg, Common, Andy Garcia, Nestor Carbonell, Jason “Everything’s Better with Bateman” Bateman and even a small roll for Matthew Fox.

Oh, and those redneck brothers I mentioned? They’re made up of Keamy from Lost, Kirk from the new Trek movie and another guy. Yup that makes THREE Lost cast members in the flick and I still didn’t like it. What are the odds?!

All this being said, I would definitely check out the rumored sequel called Smokin’ Aces: Blowback, though I probably won’t shell out $10 again to see it in the theater. For my money, I’d rather check out a Shoot Em Up sequel, because that movie was exactly what I wanted it to be.

Trade Post: Brave & The Bold 1 and 2, Silverfish

2009-01-28
5:27:33 pm

Hey gang, still having trouble getting more than one post up per week, but hopefully they’re worth your while when they do pop up. I’ve been reading a lot of trades lately, even started fully going through the Wizard comic library again, so hopefully I’ll get more than the aforementioned one post per week. So, let’s jump in shall we?

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 1: THE LORDS OF LUCK (DC)

Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez

When this book first came out I was pretty excited, but it wasn’t the kind of book I wanted when it actually came out. I was looking for simple one-off stories featuring two great heroes put together in a strange situation drawn by one of the few, great living comic book artist legends who actually keeps upping his artistic quality in my opinion. So, when I found out it was actually an ongoing story I wasn’t really interested. Later on, I heard good things about the book and decided to give it another shot in trade form. Enter the trades.

I really enjoyed this book and am glad I read it in trade form actually because there’s a lot going on and I’m not sure if it came out on time, which would have meant I’d have an even harder time keeping track of everything. Waid really nails all of the characters, which include Batman, Hal Jordan, the current Blue Beetle, Supergirl, Lobo and others. It’s great to see a writer who I loved growing up still having the chops to write intricate, fun stories that both play off of and add to the rich DCU, especially when others don’t seem to be able to keep up as well anymore.

And speaking of keeping up, Perez kicks ass. This guy continues to blow me away with each new issue that comes out. I can’t be certain, but I think I first saw his art in Avengers when he relaunched it post-Heroes Return with Kurt Busiek. And even now I’m enjoying Legion of Three Worlds when it comes out. So, yeah, Perez kills it in the first six issues of B&TB. You get everything from great covers to gorgeous splash pages and even great faces. The man’s a master and he’s the perfect match with Waid for this book.

The story itself follows the heroes trying to get a hold of the Book of Destiny on multiple fronts at various times throughout the DCU. It’s the kind of story I want to read in my Justice League comics, not weird Tangent and Milestone stories forced upon the writer.

Oh also, bonus points for the annotations section in the back in which Waid lets the reader know where/when each of the characters appeared for the first time and a few other little tidbits, like the fact that Perez didn’t actually know how to play blackjack before drawing a scene involving the game. I love extras like this and it seems like a pretty simple and easy addition that only takes up a few extra pages.

THE BRAVE AND THE BOLD VOL. 2: THE BOOK OF DESTINY (DC)

Written by Mark Waid, drawn by George Perez and Jerry Ordway

As much as I loved the first volume, I can’t quite say all the same great things about Volume 2, which takes an opportunity to tell great silver age-type stories by having the Challengers of the Unknown reading through the Book of Destiny. I really like these stories, which feature the Silent Night, Hawkman, the new Atom, the original Teen Titans as kids, the Metal Men and others. But they’re not just random stories, they all have to do with the big villain of the story Megistus a new villain who could be pretty cool in the future.

My main problem with this volume is that Waid uses the old “two heroes team up, have different ways of doing things and then learn from each other by the end” storyline a time or two, which, normally wouldn’t be so bad, but in a collection like this it gets a little tired. The other problem is that Perez doesn’t do all six issues. I’ve got no problem with Jerry Ordway and he even does a great job on his issues, but I love me some Perez and it would have been awesome to see him draw the 12 or so character battle against Megistus in the last issue. Also, on the subject of Megistus, I felt like his character wasn’t really explained well.

Also, this collection earns no bonus points for extras because there are absolutely none. I’m guessing it’s because Waid had moved over to Boom by the time the book came out, but an editor could have done the exact same thing. Oh well, I’m still keeping this one in my collection, at least until I have a few beers and clean out my bookshelf again (it cuts down on the sentimentality).

SILVERFISH (Vertigo)

Written and drawn by David Lapham

I’ll be honest, I wasn’t sure what to think about David Lapham’s Silverfish, mostly because I could not stand his City of Crime story in Detective Comics from a few years back. But, I’ve heard great things about his other work, so I wanted to give something else he wrote a shot and Silverfish is pretty short, so it worked out pretty well.

And, I really liked it. It’s got a thriller/horror vibe to it as some kids in the 80s dig into the main girl’s new step mom’s past and find out she was into some pretty heavy stuff. I don’t want to get into the story too much for fear of spoilers, but Lapham keeps a really good pace up throughout the whole story and I read it in one sitting. I like that.

My one problem with the book is the whole idea of the silverfish. They pop up from time to time, but are never really referred to or mentioned by anyone. I’ve got no problem with certain things not getting explained in stories, but this seems like a pretty big element to not get at least a mention. Oh well, like I said, I dug this book and would actually like to see it made (well) into a movie. I assume one of you is a big Hollywood person and can make that happen (if it’s not already in the works).

13.5 Quick Movie Reviews

2009-01-17
5:32:32 am

Hey gang, sorry again about my complete lack of posts lately, things have been crazy. I have been keeping myself busy with movies though, so here are 13 short reviews about some flicks I’ve seen lately, plus one movie I didn’t watch.

SIX STRING SAMURAI (1998)

I really liked this post apocalyptic-like road trip movie with a samurai Buddy Holly. The howler-monkey kid got annoying fast, but the action and snappy dialogue kept things moving along at quite a clip. Much better than I thought it would be.

OUR MAN FLINT (1966)

Flint’s a swinging secret agent int he 60s more worried about having a good time than stopping an international incident (at first at least). Great, campy 60s spy fun, that both pokes fun at but also sets itself up in the same universe as James Bond. A lot of fun, can’t wait to check out the sequel.

THE MAJORETTES (1986)

I don’t actually remember too much about this movie other than it involved some maniac hunting down and killing high school cheerleaders. It’s a way lower budget movie and apparently very little of the money went to snag actors who can, you know, act. Skip this one unless you’re a horror completist or you’re looking to cross another movie off in your copy of Creature Feature (like me).

DAY OF THE DEAD (2008)

I was actually pretty impressed with this remake-in-name-mostly of Romero’s Day of the Dead. I’m not a huge fan of the original or anything, but I wasn’t expecting much out of this flick and was surprised. The story moves along the same speeds as the fast Zack Snyder/28 Days Later-like zombies, but my favorite part is seeing actual people I recognize like Mena Suvari, Nick Cannon and Ving Rhames killing and becoming zombies. When was the last time you saw a non genre actor semi-famous person in a horror movie after they became famous? Hopefully it’s a trend that will continue. I’m actually kind of surprised that they didn’t release this movie in theaters. Oh well, a pretty good zombie movie all said and done, though not a classic.

THE SHADOW (1994)

In my opinion, it’s hard to go wrong when you populate a movie about a pulp hero with actors like Alec Baldwin, Peter Boyle, Tim Curry, Ian McKellen, James Hong and Jonathan Winters and luckily The Shadow held up my opinions. I’m not all that familiar with pulp heroes, especially the Shadow, but I like the idea of him having a network of people all over the city (usually people he has saved) who help him out. There’s all kinds of cool stuff like secret labs and ancient forces of good and evil. Oh and for 30 Rock fans, I highly encourage you to think of these as the early days of Jack Donaghy.

LAST MAN STANDING (1996)

A pretty cool story about a gangster-era hitman (Willis) holing up in a ghost town populated by two rival gangs, gets slowed down with a little too much back and forth back stabbing. I definitely don’t remember all the details about this one, but I’m a Willis fan. Michael Imperioli plays pretty much the same role he always does and Walken stars as Willis’ main competition and they fight which is cool. Can you imagine Walken fighting now? Aside from a dance fight I mean. Oh, also Walter Hill of Warriors fame directed LMS, so it’s gotta be pretty good, right?

FOXY BROWN (1974)

So far my experience with blaxploitation films as been hit or miss, but luckily Foxy is enough of a hit. In the plus column, Pam Grier cuts quite the figure, plus she kicks ass. I also like the idea of a group of inner city dwellers taking the law into their own hands and creating their own kind of police force. I’m not a big fan of the sexual assault stuff, but I guess that’s all part of the exploitation riff. Too bad Foxy and Shaft never got together. That would have been a great flick.

LEATHERHEADS (2008)

I’m not sure if I’ve professed my heterosexual man love for George Clooney on the blog before, but I’m a big fan. I think we’d get along smashingly. I do know that I’ve talked about how much I like the American Office, so you probably know I’m a John Krasinski fan. So, Leatherheads was a good flick in my book. It doesn’t make my top 10 sports movies of all time (well, maybe, I’d have to come up with that list actually), but it’s fun and it offered up a look at a period in professional football that I am completely unfamiliar with, so that was cool. Of course, it’s a comedy, so I’m not sure how accurate it was, but who cares? Like I said it was fun. Has similar story elements to League of the their Own (which probably would make my top 10 because I’m a huge softy). Not groundbreaking by any means, but worth a watch.

JOURNEY TO THE CENTER OF THE EARTH (2008)

I liked Leatherheads more than Journey, but it’s not a terrible movie (even if it is very predictable). The special effects bounce back and forth between boderline okay, pretty good and not so great, but the effort is there. I really wish I would have been able to see this bad boy in 3D. I missed out on the phenomenon in the 80s and have gotten a taste for it by watching Superman Returns (ugh) and Nightmare Before Christmas in lame separate the background from the foreground 3D. I can’t freaking wait to see My Bloody Valentine 3D!!!

KILLER KLOWNS FROM OUTER SPACE (1988)

Holy crap I loved this movie. Rickey got me a subscription to a horror movie mag called Horror Hound that’s not expertly edited, but still offers up tons and tons of horror goodness. One such bit of goodness was a whole feature on Klowns. The movie is just so much freaking over the bigtop fun. I really can’t believe that a studio made this movie. Please, do yourself a favor and check it out. Also of interest on the DVD is the Chiodo brothers’ home movies from when they were making monster movies as kids. Pretty impressive stuff for pre-teens with a 16mm camera.

VAMPIRE EFFECT (2003)

The combination of Hong Kong action and vampires drew me to this flick pretty quickly on Netflix. Heck, it’s even got Jackie Chan in a roll that’s more than him just walking on and being called Jackie (which he is). As with a lot of movies like this that I’ve seen, the special effects and fight scenes are sick, but the story itself is nothing new. I did really like the cool retractable whip/sword weapons they used. I think I designed something very similar what I was younger.

LICENSE TO DRIVE (1988)

If you thought Corey Haim could have been a little bit smoother, though still pretty spazzy in Lost Boys and Corey Fledman from the Burbs could use a little mellowing out, then License to Drive is the perfect 2 Coreys vehicle for you (puns!). Haim fails his driving test, but still tells a young (though still 18 by my math) Heather Graham that he can pick her up. It’s basically like an episode of a sitcom, but stretched to 90 minutes and definitely edgier than your average Saved By The Bell. Good stuff. Next up from the Coreys? Dream a Little Dream (which I have absolutely no knowledge of).

LEGEND (1985)

Legend is one of those movies that I don’t remember at all, but have since come to find that it’s kind of a big deal (to some people). I knew that Tim Curry was in it, but had no idea Tom Cruise was. I thought it might be kind of a funny movie, but when I saw Tom prancing around the forest or whatever I clicked this badboy off and deleted it from my queue. I am no fan of fantasy movies.

JOHNNY BE GOOD (1988)

I’m becoming a pretty big fan of Netflix’s recommendations. I started watching Johnny after digging License and wasn’t disappointed. It’s got an older and more confident Anthony Michael Hall and a completely goofy Robert Downey Jr.. There’s a good deal of goofiness to this movie, which focuses on Hall as a football star getting courted by and visiting different colleges that want him. Downey plays his wacky best friend, but what struck me about the movie is how real it can be at times. Hall and Downey sell their characters like they’re up for an award. Oh, it’s also got Uma Thurman as Hall’s girlfriend and Jennifer Tilly has a quick role. If you’re an 80s movie fan, or just curious to see what Downey might have been like back in the late 80s give Johnny a look.

AUGUST RUSH (2007)

Sometimes you’ve got to add a movie for your lady to the ol’ queue. I was pleasantly surprised with August Rush, not because the story is all the unique (you’ve seen the broad strokes before plenty of times), but because of it’s view of music. The way they show the young boy experiencing music in everyday life, what it means to him and how he’s eventually able to play it in his own unorthodox way really struck me. If you’ve got to watch a chick flick with your girl and you’re a music fan, this is a good choice. Also, Keri Russell is in it and looking good.

KING OF KONG (2007)

If you haven’t seen this documentary about the surprisingly competitive world of classic arcade high score competitions, please stop reading and watch it right now. This one makes it into my top 10 movies of 2007 (should a list ever actually exist). First off, it shows off a world I’ve never seen, which you know I love. Also, that world is full of deceit, greed, cowardice, heroics, villainy, triumph and defeat. The way the story is put together feels like a really well scripted feature film, though the events and the ups and downs are completely real. If you’ve ever liked anything I’ve written about on here, watch this movie.

SUPERMAN/DOOMSDAY (2007)

Seeing as how The Death and Return of Superman is the story that got me collecting comics in the first place (and how deeply and utterly I bought into the idea that any of the four subsequent people could be the real Superman), I was very excited when I heard a few years ago that DC/WB was going to make an animated movie about that very event, I was psyched. I figured it probably wouldn’t have EVERYthing that made the comic so cool (Superman turning back to save a family instead of finishing Doomsday off, that very 90s JLA facing off against Doomsday, an eyes-swollen-shut Guy Gardner asking his teammate to aim his fist at Doomsday so he could blast it, not to mention the four other “Supermen”), but that it could offer up a cool new look on the idea. And it’s definitely a different look. I would have preferred them either go straight with the established look and continuity of the Bruce Timm/Paul Dini-verse or have a drastically different art direction on the project as little things like Superman’s cheek lines become distracting. I was also distracted by the different voices for these characters that I recognize from a specific other incarnation that looked very similar but sound completely different. Even at 77 minutes it felt kind of slow, but the fight scenes are pretty great (though they don’t hold a candle to JLU). I still hold on to my dream of one day seeing an epic, animated incarnation of the Death and Return of Superman though. A boy can dream, right?