We Want Action: John Carter, Edge Of Tomorrow & Jack Ryan

john_carter_ver2 I’ve been pretty tired and/or busy lately. Between work and the kids, the days are pretty full and I get awfully sleepy by the time evenings roll around. This is a bummer for me because I like to stay up and watch movies at night, but that’s been more of a piecemeal process lately. However, I’m still trying to take in new films like this trio of more recent big screen offerings.

Let’s start with Andrew Stanton’s 2012 film John Carter from Disney. This adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ space traveler didn’t do so hot at the box office and I think I know why. First off, the well seemed to be pretty solidly poisoned before the movie even came out. I have no idea why that is, but I was heavily in the movie coverage thing for Spinoff when this film was coming out and there seemed to be a lot of pre-press about how it was going to fail. I don’t know why and this might sound conspiratorial, but it seemed to me like someone didn’t want the movie to do well and then it didn’t.

But, that’s not all. This isn’t an easy film to understand and, for me, that’s not a knock. You’ve got to pay attention to what’s going on and do a little thinking yourself to keep up with this tale. It’s not all laid out at your feet, which I appreciate because too many movies spell everything out so there’s absolutely no place for confusion. I don’t mind working for my entertainment and actually think better of the projects that make me get into that headspace.

This isn’t just a thinking person’s sci-fi action film, though. It looks rad. The aliens are fantastic and the action sequences are on point. I’ve read maybe a quarter or a third of ERB’s A Princess of Mars and it seemed like Stanton and company took what’s a fairly dry, clinical narrative and gave it a bit more heart which I appreciated (I actually stopped reading because that old school style of simply listing everything weird that’s happening gets real old for me real fast). All in all, I give this one a big thumb’s up and hope more people discover it at home. It’s too bad we’re not going to get more of this world…at least for a while.

edge of tomorrowAs I move on to talking about Doug Liman’s Edge of Tomorrow starring Tom Cruise and Emily Blunt, I’m realizing that all three of these movies were adaptations. This one is probably the least well known because it’s a manga (which I haven’t read, for what it’s worth). Basically, aliens are invading earth and humanity uses mech suits to fight them off. Tom Cruise plays a self-serving PR guy who gets unceremoniously recruited to the front lines where he kills one of the creatures which gives him a kind of Groundhog Day-like ability to keep living the same day over and over again. He gets in contact with Blunt’s super soldier character who had a similar experience and starts training like crazy, dying constantly along the way.

The story has a pretty high concept and some specific rules about how you get and lose these powers, but again, I don’t mind learning these fairly outlandish details as they’re presented. I was much more interested in Blunt’s character than all that anyway. She’s such a cool, shrewd character who, in a way, knows what’s going on, but in another is completely in the dark because she has no idea how many times Cruise has come back and tried any number of alternative methods. While he’s falling for her over and over again, she’s basically meeting him for the first time every day (and killing him a number of those times).

So, if you can buy into some bonkers rules and like Tom Cruise evolving from brash douche to war hero, then give Edge Of Tomorrow (or as it was retitled upon home video release KILL. DIE. REPEAT.) a shot.

jack ryan shadow recruitFinally, let’s talk a bit about Jack Ryan: Shadow Recruit, based on the character seen in Tom Clancy’s novels. This particular story doesn’t come from one of those books, instead giving the CIA operative an updated origin story for the modern era starring Chris Pine. The idea here was to start a new franchise, but apparently the film didn’t do to well and those plans have been put on hold, but I thought this was a gripping thriller that kept my attention the whole time.

Ryan starts off as a finance wiz who joins the military after the events of 9-11. While serving, his helicopter gets blown up, but he survives to meet and fall for Keira Knightley in a hospital. While getting better Kevin Costner appears and offers him a job as a covert financial analyst for the CIA. He soon comes upon Kenneth Branagh, a Russian whose machinations include a massive terrorist attack that will topple the world economy.

As much as I love James Bond movies where our hero is super experienced in all things espionage, I kind of liked seeing someone like Ryan in his early days. He’s got the training and does okay when he gets attacked early on, but Pine also conveys how overwhelming some of these experiences are. It would have been cool to see his version of this character evolve over a series of films.

Of course, Jack Ryan has been in a series of movies like Hunt For Red October, Patriot Games, Clear and Present Danger and The Sum Of All Fears. I don’t think I’ve seen any of those movies, so I wasn’t spending the whole run time comparing Pine to Alec Baldwin, Harrison Ford or Ben Affleck which was cool, but I am interested in going back and check them out.

 

Quick Movie Review: The Lone Ranger (2013)

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I’ve long given up on trying to figure out why certain films kill at the box office and others don’t. Take The Lone Ranger for instance. Much like it’s filmic cousin, Pirates Of The Caribbean, this film stars Johnny Depp as an offbeat character, was directed by Gore Verbinski and features a ton of fun action set pieces. And yet 2011’s POTC: At World’s End made over $1 billion worldwide and Lone Ranger pulled in a mere $206.5 million. At the end of the day, as a viewer, these things don’t matter to me aside from the fact that a poor performance in the real world will kill franchise potential which is too bad because I did like this film.

I was never a Lone Ranger fan. I remember the reruns being on the Disney Channel when I was a kid, but I avoided them (Zorro was more of my jam back then). I did read the first arc or so of Dynamite’s initial comic series which was solid, but that’s about where my experience ends. So, I went into this without many expectations and was pleasantly surprised by what I was presented with which was a big, fun popcorn movie featuring Armie Hammer developing into the Lone Ranger persona with the help of Tonto (Depp) while running afoul of the always-fantastic William Fichtner.

Sure, the film probably could have been a little shorter — it clocks in around the 2.5 hour mark as it is — but I didn’t find it lagging, personally. There’s a solid mix of character as Hammer’s John Reid moves from the law abiding district attorney he is at the beginning of the film to the masked vigilante at the very end. We even learn interesting things about why Tonto’s so crazy and get looks at a lot of interesting character as well as a bevy of train and shoot-out based action scenes that are always fun.

My one complaint about this film is that they went with the origin story. Much like with comic book films, I think that screenwriters, directors and producers fall into this trap when they’re making films based on existing properties and that is this desire to devote the first film to the character’s earliest days learning to be a hero. I’m personally much more in favor of the Die Hard method of action film storytelling in which you just show the lead being awesome and give details about their past as they’re needed. I wonder if a full-on Lone Ranger film would have done better than the story of the guy who becomes the Lone Ranger. Still, I enjoyed the movie, think it got a bad wrap and would suggest spending a lazy Saturday or Sunday giving it a watch.

Bullet Points: Hot Rounds Of Information Goodness

troll hunterNeil Marshall, the director behind ridiculously awesome movies like Centurion, Doomsday and Dog Soldiers, is going to remake the Norwegian flick Troll Hunter. We’ve only heard good things about the original, but haven’t seen it for ourselves yet. Still, this seems like a good fit. [via Deadline]fast & furious 7 vin diesel

Vin Diesel’s at it again, posting a new image from James Wan’s Fast & Furious 7. Looks like the gang’s at a funeral. [via Facebook]jerry bruckheimer

Sounds like the reports of Jerry Bruckheimer’s professional demise at Disney weren’t greatly exaggerated. The House of Mouse decided not to renew its first look deal with the super producer in the wake of the bomb known as The Lone Ranger. [via Deadline]fury-brad-pitt-shia-labeouf-logan-lerman-michael-pena-jon-bernthal

Fury writer and director David Ayer tweeted out this image of Brad Pitt, Logan Lerman, Shia LabEouf, Michael Pena and Jon Bernthal on the titular tank. The WWII film finds a tank crew going on a special mission behind enemy lines.blade motuc

Mattel recently announced that they’ll be selling a figure of Blade from the 1987 Masters Of The Universe film in their line of He-Man based figures available only on Mattycollector.com. This marks the first figure from the film to make it into the Masters Of The Universe Classics line! michael fassbender x-men first class

New director John Maclean enticed Michael Fassbender (X-Men: First Class, Prometheus), Ben Mendelsohn (Killer Elite, The Place Beyond the Pines) and Kodi Smit-McPhee (The Road, Dawn Of The Planet Of The Apes) to ride along with his Western Slow West. [via Collider]Ghost Recon Future Soldier

Y: The Last Man screenwriters Matthew Federman and Stephen Scaia have been recruited to write a film based on the Ubisoft video game series Ghost Recon, a game developed by Tom Clancy. [via Variety]fight club

Cinemark theaters will be showing David Fincher’s Fight Club in their movie houses on September 22nd and 25th as part of their Classic Series. Check the site for show times in an area near you.

Robo, Man In Black

Last week we showed you the trailer for Jose Padilha’s RoboCop. According to THR, it’s the most watched trailer for the second week in a row. Meanwhile, another THR story announced that the film will hit IMAX theaters when it opens on February 7th.jeff bridges ryan reynolds ripd

Finally, Jeff Bridges opened up a bit about the failure of R.I.P.D., one of Universal’s few flops in recent memory. “I had such a great time working on that movie,” Bridges said. “I remember what we were doing. I thought: This could be fun to see. And when I saw it, I was a little underwhelmed. For my mind, the studio made some, uh, choices that I wouldn’t have made.” [via GQ]

Casting Internets

shootfirstIf you don’t buy my friend Justin Aclin‘s upcoming Dark Horse comic S.H.O.O.T. First, you suck.

I recently discovered a site called Humans Of New York that I can’t get enough of. A photographer walks around NYC, snapping pictures of people and asking them questions then presenting them on the site. Sounds simple, but that’s why it’s so interesting.

Oh my goodness, you guys, this Screen Junkies Honest Trailer for Batman & Robin is super-great-fantastic. Thanks to The Mary Sue for bringing it to my attention!

As a kid, I read The Giver more than any other book. The adaptation is shaping up to be quite a film. Jeff Bridges is in it and according to Deadline, Meryl Streep’s on board too. I will certainly see this flick.

Not quite sure what to think about the CBGB movie. If it’s got even a fraction of Please Kill Me in it, it should be alright. The Ramones look like gods in the first trailer over on THR, so that’s a step in the right direction.

Variety‘s telling me that there’s going to be a Disney Imagineering documentary. I went on the Behind the Magic tour at Disney World which was fascinating, so this should be even better.ace mccloud centurions custom

Not too long ago, I talked about how much I enjoyed the concept of Centurions and wondered why it never made a comeback. Now there’s a killer custom of Ace McCloud by Hemblecreations as posted on ToyNewsI that looks all kinds of rad. That’s internet synergy, yawl.

Comedy Central’s Inside Amy Schumer is hilarious, you should check it out. I will definitely check out her Judd Apatow-produced film, Deadline reports.

Transworld Business, an action sports website I recently discovered, tells me that Oakley’s doing a 6-part web series featuring skateboarder Bob Burnquist showing off his own personal skatepark. The part where he skates around a helicopter made me super nervous.

Right after the X-Games, Nyjah Huston wrote this fantastic column for THR about the greatness of his sport and its potential for inclusion in the Olympics. I’ll throw my vote in for that idea right now.

Danny Way told ESPN might return to the X-Games, bringing a whole new gigantic ramp thing to the proceedings. Yes, make this happen.

I’ve always been interested in how Alice Cooper balances his normal life with his stage one, something he talked to Esquire about recently.walmart-library-5

Web Urbanist posted these amazing pictures of a Texas Walmart that was converted into the largest single floor library in the country.

I picked up The Tom Tom Clubs’ latest record Downtown Rockers this year and have really grown to dig it, so I’m glad to hear they told Rolling Stone they’re likely to get back together and record later this year.

Brilliant physicist Neil deGrasse Tyson talked about science and how it needs to be more prevalent during SDCC. (via Spinoff).

If you’re like me and wondered why the producers on Real World and The Challenge don’t seem to be interfering as much when things get violent, Variety did an interesting write-up on why.sam bosma-lisbon

Finally, go check out the larger version of Sam Bosma‘s Lisbon drawing. It’s wallpaper-worthy, no doubt.

BULLET POINTS: HOT ROUNDS OF INFORMATION GOODNESS

teenage mutant ninja turtles TMNTThe Michael Bay-produced Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles flick from director Jonathan Liebesman got pushed back to August 8, 2014. This movie’s getting moved around more than the Turtle Van on patrol. Is there any hope it will be good? [via THR]

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Word on the street is that Disney’s so pissed about the The Lone Ranger not making it’s money back yet that they’re restructuring their deal with producer Jerry Bruckheimer. In the past, his contract said that he had final cut, but that might not be the case anymore with Pirates Of The Caribbean 5. [TheWrap]

CW’s DC Comics-based Arrow is recruiting The Killing actress Bex Taylor-Klaus to play a  character called Sin. In the comics, Sin is a girl trained for years to replace super-assassin Lady Shiva who gets adopted by Black Canary. [via THR]

Speaking of Greg Berlanti-created shows, the futuristic prison series Paradise got snatched up by NBC. Berlanti’s teaming up with Seth Grahame-Smith (Abraham Lincoln: Vampire Hunter) to make the Prison Break-like show set in a version of Las Vegas that’s been converted into a giant prison. [via Deadline]

seventh son jeff bridges

Divorces can be rough, especially when kids are involved. When Legendary split from Warners earlier this summer, some of the films the former financed were left without distribution. That was the case with Sergei Bodrov’s The Seventh Son, but don’t worry, the Jeff Bridges film will now be distributed by Legendary’s new partner Universal. [via TheWrap]

Warner Bros. snatched up a pitch by Mark L. Smith (Vacancy) called Herald about a Viking king that Leonardo DiCaprio may or may not play. [via Deadline]

james cameron poster blue lady

James Cameron revealed to Visionaries that he was thinking of blue ladies well before he came up with the idea for Avatar. [via Movies.com]

hercules set

Dig this crazy set from Brett Ratner’s Hercules. [via Dwayne Johnson’s Twitter]

Finally, this video reenacts the Peter/Chicken fight from Family Guy as performed by stuntwomen  Jessie Graff and Tree O’Toole. [via Topless Robot]

Casting Internets

My pal Jim McCann was on The freaking Price is Right! It was so cool watching him, unfortunately he got robbed. Dude gives great face, though, doesn’t he?

Reading my buddy Sean Collins‘ review of Contagion makes me want to get it from Netflix again and hope for a copy that isn’t scratched to crap.

I feel strangely proud that Dan Trachtenberg is going to direct a Y: The Last Man movie. I was a big fan of The Totally Rad show and miss the podcast more than I thought, but am happy those guys are getting out there and doing their respective things. Also, that’s just a great book that I know he gets. (via THR)scott c showdowns the stuff

I love Scott C’s Showdowns, I also love when I happen to have seen one of the more obscure movies he does for the first time a few months before he draws things like this one based on The Stuff.

Crank and Gamer in 3D? I would love to see that. Don’t know if my brain could handle it, thought. (via THR)

Rolling Stone reports that Jack White found a recording of his pre-White Stripes band Jack White and the Bricks from 1999 recorded in a Detroit bowling alley. It’s going to be presented on white vinyl but is exclusive to TMR Vault members. Anyone have an extra $240 I can just have to get all their releases this year, that’d be rad. mike mignola catwoman

Gah, Mike Mignola drew Catwoman! Don’t know if I’ve seen this before, but I’m glad The Mary Sue posted it cause it’s radtacular. Much as I love Hellboy, I’d love to see him get back into the Big Two every now and then.

There’s going to be a Doctor Who audio drama starring Tom Baker, Peter Davison, Colin Baker, Sylvester McCoy and Paul McGann called “The Light at the End.” I very much want to hear this. (via Hero Complex)

I really enjoyed Charles P. Pierce’s “The Chris Christie Conundrum” on Esquire.com. This opening sentence is fantastic: Ever since it realized that the entire Republican nominating process was a competition between grifters and fools that only made sense if it produced the one man in the field whom nobody really liked, America’s courtier press has been turning itself into a pretzel trying to avoid the obvious fact that the Republican party has become demented.”

Sean Lennon’s noise rock duo Mystical Weapons sounds pretty interesting. I have no idea what noise rock means, by the way. (via Rolling Stone)

Disney’s Infinity game sounds pretty interesting. I like the concept of trying to recreate playing with a bunch of toys from different lines in video game form. Not excited about having to buy actual toys to play in the game I assume you’ll have to pay for, though. (via THR)

I love seeing trailers for Jason Statham movies on TV and have therefore had a great time seeing all the Parker ads. Anyway, while he talked to Collider about that movie, they also got updates on Homeland and Expendables 3. I think it’s rad how he’s gotten in with the old guard of action guys to the point where Stallone is rewriting scripts that he intended to star in for Statham. That’s got to feel awesome.

Whoa, Tom Morello’s filling in for Stevie Van Zandt on Bruce Springsteen’s Australian tour? I would like those shows recorded, someone make it happen. (via Rolling Stone)

Lastly, I’m excited that DC‘s reprinting Jack Kirby’s In The Days Of The Mob! I wonder how much more of his material there is to reprint, anyone know?

Casting Internets

Goodness. I started keeping notes for this particular post before freaking Christmas. We were pretty busy, so I lost track of links and time. Anyway, here’s the links I liked with a few irrelevant ones removed for extreme oldness.

In addition to my usual posting on CBR and Spinoff, I also contributed to CBR’s top 100 comics of 2012.

Friend and all around wonderful writer about comics Sean T. Collins‘ review of My Friend Dahmer is, as you might expect, wonderful.

Sean also wrote a really moving piece for Buzz Feed about how a certain album helped him get through a tough year.

My buddy and former Topless Roboteer Rob Bricken wrote a piece called “The Theologically Confusing Nightmare that is the He-Man & She-Ra Christmas Special. It is as fantastic as you would think knowing him and after reading that title. It’s on io9 of course. I know this one’s super old, but read it anyway if you haven’t already, it’s hilarious. lilostichThe Ashcan Allstars did a wonderful run of Disney Women a while ago. Riley Rossmo’s Lilo and Stitch was a big favorite of mine.

I love that chef and food writer Michael Ruhlman self-published this e-cookbook about Schmaltz. I don’t think it’s for me both because of the topic and because I don’t have an iPad, but I hope to see more of these in the future.

Halloween Scene: Jack Frost (1996)
I don’t usually care who likes what things that I like, but I’m glad Brian at HMAD liked Jack Frost.

Sketch Attack is dead, long live Sketch Lottery. I might get in on some of that action. I like not having to think of a subject and just joining in on the fun.

Check out T Lo’s run down of the Miss Universe pageant looks, hilarious commentary as always. Dig parts 1, 2 and 3.

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CustomCon 33 was a few weeks back and it was a pretty great offering. My personal favorite line was the Kamandi Klassic one by Joshua Izzo, those are some damn fine looking figures.

I would very much like to listen to the full recording of the Merry Minstrel Musical Circus performance from earlier this month. Jeff Lynne, Jackson Brown, Bob Weir? Yes to all that. (via Rolling Stone)

I agree with all of Nicholas D. Kirstof’s points on gun control and refutations of the points brought up by many in regards to the subject in this New York Times piece.

On a similar note, this New Yorker piece on the history of the Second Amendment fascinating. Funny how things that are only a few decades old are taken as gospel by some.

Another New Yorker piece not only laid down some compelling facts about other countries’ gun control laws but also an amazing virus/faith healing/antibiotics comparison in the opening that was near perfect.

A show about a summer camp that’s supposed to be a cross between Meatballs and Dazed and Confused? Yes, yes, yes, a thousand times yes. (via THR)shark tank
TVGuide has a pretty cool story on why Shark Tank is doing well, I’m a big fan of that show.

I haven’t checked out any of DC’s digital comics yet, but I love the idea of them doing a She-Ra book in that format. There’s no reason this shouldn’t blow up amongst that fan community. (via CNN)

Jim Zub is one of my favorite people in comics to interview. I also dug his 2012 recap post. Dude’s blowing up and totally deserves it.

Zub also wrote this really great piece about why The Big Two won’t give any rookie writer a crack at their characters.

In more “truth about comic news” pieces by creators, dig this ComixMix post by John Ostrander about how tough it can be being a comic book freelancer.

Finally, I’m sad that James Kochalka’s diary strip American Elf has come to a close, but this was a pretty good last strip.