Trade Pile: Tokyo Ghost, Sonic/Mega Man & Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

Tokyo Ghost Vol 1So many trades, so little time so let’s jump right in! A friend of mine suggested I check out Tokyo Ghost, which didn’t take too much pushing because I love Sean Murphy’s artwork in books like The Wake, Punk Rock Jesus and Joe the Barbarian and I’ve always thought that Rick Remender’s stories work better in worlds that he fully creates and that’s exactly what you get with Ghost. Continue reading Trade Pile: Tokyo Ghost, Sonic/Mega Man & Big Thunder Mountain Railroad

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.

 

Toy Commercial Tuesday: Toy Story Of Terror Spots

Over on PopPoppa.com I gave a glowing review of Toy Story Of Terror. It’s highly recommended if you or yours are big Toy Story fans. In addition to the Halloween special, there’s also a trio of shorts and three commercials based on the characters appearing in the title story. Above you can see the Combat Carl PSA which obviously isn’t a toy commercial, but does share the spirit of the G.I. Joe ones from days of yore. The Blu-ray also includes spots for Old Timer and Transitron that will make fogies like myself smile with nostalgic glee.

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.

Old School Trade Post: Uncle Scrooge Only A Poor Old Man & Adventures Of Tintin The Secret Of The Unicorn

uncle scrooge only a poor old man Uncle Scrooge: Only A Poor Old Man (Fantagraphics)
Written & drawn by Carl Barks

Right off the bat, I want to say that I talked about both of these books a few weeks back on the 42nd episode of my dad podcast, The Pop Poppa Nap Cast. I’m sure I’ll get to a few new points that I didn’t hit on there, but if you listened to that episode this post might feel a bit redundant.

Anyway, one of the greatest things about working at Wizard was meeting so many people who were so passionate about so many different kinds of comics. Some guys were Marvel scholars, others knew everything about indie books and a few others were more fans of old school material like Carl Barks’ Uncle Scrooge comics. These are Disney comics I’d been hearing about for years, so when I had a little extra cash last year I figured I’d finally dip my toe into that coin-filled pond and check out Fantagraphics’ Uncle Scrooge: Only A Poor Old Man which happened to collect Barks’ first Uncle Scrooge-starring comics (before that he was more of a supporting character in Barks’ Donald Duck comics).

Like a lot of people my age, I’m mostly familiar with Uncle Scrooge thanks to Mickey’s Christmas Carol and Duck Tails. While the former didn’t paint a very flattering portrait of the character, the latter made him out to be a go-getting adventurer with a mile-long greedy streak. It’s the latter version that comes front and center in this book. Every story revolves around the almighty dollar (or coin, in many cases) with Scrooge, Donald, Huey, Dewey and Louie going to great lengths to keep his money safe. The stories are presented in Barks’ iconic style which is perfectly cartoony, but also detailed and fun at times you might not expect it. He seemed to enjoy drawing Duckburg as much as Atlantis, so there’s a wide breadth of locations and characters in this collection to enjoy.

“Great lengths” is actually a pretty solid descriptor of this book. I was surprised to find out how long many of the main stories were in this book. I guess that’s just how comics were set up back then, but I often found myself flipping to the end of the story to try and figure out how many more pages I had to go. Personally, I think a few of these longer stories could have been cut down and would have felt a lot more streamlined and focused. As it is, some feel a bit meandering at times. This was compounded by the fact that there are one page gag strips included that I absolutely loved. These were quick, concise and often hilarious.

Even though some of the strips felt a little slow, I would still recommend checking out some of these Carl Barks strips. There’s such a great sense of wonder and exploration here that doesn’t get swallowed up by the greed also present in the series. In fact, Scrooge’s obsession with money might kick off many of the adventures, but it also leads to all kinds of calamity. I don’t want to read too much into these stories, but you can easily pull lessons from here that are good for both adults and kids. I tried reading this book with my kid and she wasn’t super-interested just yet, but I’ll try again later on down the line.

tintin-secret-of-the-unicorn-little-brown-cover-1 The Adventures Of Tintin: The Secret Of The Unicorn (Little, Brown)
Written & drawn by Herge

Herge’s Tintin is another one of those books that I’ve heard about for years but never actually read. At last year’s New York Comic Con I was flipping through a box of $5 trades, saw a bunch of Tintin books and decided to try The Secret Of The Unicorn. At the time I didn’t realize that this was actually the book that the recent Tintin movie was based on. I actually watched the movie, but remembered next to nothing about it aside from the opening scene which is the same way this book opens. From there, though, it was like experiencing a story for the first time.

In this book, kid reporter Tintin gets wrapped up in a mystery directly related to his pal Captain Haddock’s family. The adventure includes shady antique dealers, pickpockets, cops, robbers, pirates, treasure and even a big, old mansion. The simple, comic strip-esque art style lulled me a bit to the point where I was shocked when a guy got shot in the back. I also didn’t expect for the B storyline to tie back into the A one so concisely because I was expecting something more aimed at kids. This was probably the best way to read it because it helped enhance the surprises, twists and turns.

As it turns out, this book leads directly into Red Rackham’s Treasure which I don’t have, but do want to get my hands on. I enjoyed this story so much, I’m actually thinking of picking it up in one of those three-in-one collections so I can keep going.

I want to say one more thing about both of these books, they are absolutely packed with bonus material. Scrooge features an intro by none other than George Lucas and is followed by a series of essays written by Duck Comic scholars and fans that not only give details about Barks and what he was going through at the time, but also explores some of the themes therein. In the Little, Brown versions of the Tintin stories, they’re aimed at kids and include a bunch of material in the back that add historical context and also show off comparisons between Herge’s finished art and the extensive reference material he collected while working on Tintin. I love when trades like this add extra material to flesh out the experience, especially when you’re dealing with older material that might offer a bit more context.

Casting Internets

Every morning I go through my RSS feeds for my day job. My main goal is to figure out what will make for good stories over on Spinoff, but I also keep an eye on toy news and look for fun stories to read later. I have a ridiculous backlog right now that I’m slowly going through, so you’ll see a few older interviews and news bites here, but I’m still jazzed about them.raid-2_42098472

The Raid 2 is getting a US release! We don’t know when yet, but that’s awesome! (via Variety)

how i met your mother season 9

TVLine put together a list of 15 questions they’d like to see How I Met Your Mother answer before ending this year. I agree with about 10 of them, but still a fun rundown.

I’m a big fan of the Ramones anthology that Rhino put out several years back, but I’ve got to say, this box set that Rolling Stone talks about bringing their first six records into one package for under $40 is awfully appealing.

I’m a big fan of the National Treasure movies, so when I read this brief interview on Collider with director Jon Turteltaub about one filming in the next few years, I got pretty stoked.led zeppelin

New Led Zeppelin tracks? That’s not enough for me to re-buy all the records, but I’m definitely intrigued by this Rolling Stone story about songs with John Paul Jones vocals.duplassbros-group

I’ve become a big fan of the Duplass Bros. in the past few years, so I enjoyed this interview with them about what they’re up to these days over on Variety.

It would have been pretty cool to be at that small, career-spanning Blink-182 concert they talked about in this Rolling Stone interview.bootlegsupes1

I’ve always enjoyed reading about wacky bootleg action figures like the one I found above. The Fwoosh contributor TheManInTheAntHill did a pretty great one recently that’s worth a look.

Dave Grohl opened up to Rolling Stone about the waning days of Nirvana. I’m alway up for a Nirvana interview, you guys.Halloween blu-ray

Halloween is one of those movies where you’re never quite sure which version to buy, so I’m glad that HMAD got around to not only reviewing the latest offering, but saying that it’s the one to buy. Much appreciated!mister-rogers

Little Ms. Sunshine was a really emotionally honest film, so I think it’s directors are great choices to make a Mister Rogers biopic. (via TheWrap)

I discovered this old Mental Floss article about the 10 coolest Disney park attractions that never got made while doing some research for a story. Fun stuff!foreverly

Whoa, Rolling Stone is reporting that Norah Jones and Billie Joe Armstrong of Green Day have joined forces to cover an Everly Brothers record. It’s called Foreverly and I’m incredibly intrigued.beach party

The CW sounds like the perfect place to set a drama revolving around California’s emerging surf scene in the 60s. Scheduling conflicts aside, I’m…on board. (via Deadline)

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]