The High Five Podcast Episode 17 – Lost Screenplays Adapted As Comics

On today’s episode, I’m running through a quintet of fabulous comic books that adapt unfilmed screenplays of somewhat historical significance. They also happen to be super fun reads.

I read the Things from Another World interview with Phil Hester and Jonathan Lau here.

If you’re curious about the novelization of William Gibson’s Aliens 3 script, here’s the Amazon link.

In addition to the intro penned by William Gibson, I also read this Wayback Machine archived blog post he wrote.

If you have Marvel Unlimited, check out The Star Wars here. You can watch Empire Of Dreams on Disney+!

Here you can see the official Jim Henson Company clip about Time Piece. If anyone knows where I can see the full version and/or The Cube, let me know.

I refer to this Ramon K Perez CBR interview conducted by my pal Steve Sunu!

The High Five Podcast Episode 16 – May The Force Be With Me

On this week’s episode, I’m celebrating my nearly life-long Star Wars fandom! From the days of watching the movies on cable to earning a few bucks from one of my favorite franchises, this one covers it all!

Want to drop me a line? Hit me up at high5tj at gmail dot com or on Instagram and/or Twitter.

The Chronological Spielberg: Raiders Of The Lost Ark (1981)

Like many children of the 80s, I am a huge fan of the Indiana Jones movies. I actually like them all (yes all) and have a special affinity for Temple of Doom that I’ll get to after making my way through a few more Spielberg movies. As a young kid I didn’t have a ton of movies on VHS and yet I remember seeing the Indy movies as well as the Star Wars trilogy a lot on cable back then. I eventually got the box set form my grandparents while in college but haven’t really watched them a lot since then. Still, I like having my favorite movies in my possession so I can watch them whenever I do feel like it.

A few years ago, my wife and I did watch one of the Indy movies, I can’t remember exactly which one, but I think it was Raiders. Anyway, I was struck by how damn good the movie is. It should haven’t been a surprise, but I wasn’t sure if it was one of those things where the movie basically lived in an awesome space in my brain because I saw when I was young. I was glad to find that it really is an expertly put together film that not only pays homage to old adventure films, but also reinvented the genre using Spielberg’s ridiculous knowledge of film and film making.

Take the introduction of Indiana Jones for instance. We keep getting glances of him in bits and pieces, but never the full look until we’re granted something epic showing how cool and brave he is. But, the point of the film isn’t to show a perfect hero, so we see him get screwed over a few times and then in his school environment where, even though he’s handsome and the ladies love him, he’s still kind of awkward. This is not his true environment and it shows. And of course, not long after this he gets ANOTHER awesome reveal when he shows up at Marion’s bar as a gigantic, looming, context-filled shadow. Boom.

Which brings me to another wonderful aspect of this movie: Karen Allen as Marion Ravenwood. She’s brave and powerful and vulnerable and resourceful and can drink like a damn champion, all qualities that don’t just appeal to me but make her incredibly human and real. She’s not one of these one-not female characters who either plays the damsel or needs no man to help her, she’s a rounded, full character, one that I’m drawn to. I was really excited when I found out she was involved in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull and enjoy how that story ended up.

I also want to talk about something I almost never do when writing about movies: sound effects. I realized while watching this movie again that the effects for certain things in this movie are ingrained in my thinking. When I think of someone punching someone, I think of Indy punching a guy. Of course, the crack of the whip is in there too, but so is the sound of that propeller plane. That’s a pretty incredible impact the more I think about it.

All of this is even more impressive when you think about how uneven and mark-missing 1941 was (at least in my opinion). While I barely cared about anyone in that film, I don’t think there was a character in this movie that I didn’t love or hate or feel something in between for. This is the Spielberg who made the incredible Close Encounters and Jaws, this is a Spielberg who understands his strengths and weaknesses and use that knowledge to create a hero that has proven to stand the test of time, something most people dream of. I wonder how much of that came from screenwriters George Lucas and Lawrence Kasdan and how much was Spielberg, but regardless of the breakdown, it shows wonderfully on screen.

For what it’s worth Lucy seemed to get pretty caught up in the story as well, so that’s something.

Revisiting Howard The Duck (1986)

  I have a soft spot in my geek heart for the Howard The Duck flick. I saw it a few times as a kid (not when it came out, but I was young-ish) and really liked the mix of what seemed like a kids movie (alien from another planet palling around and learning about earth, eventually fighting a space monster) with the strangely adult elements (naked lady duck, tiny duck condom and hints at interstellar bestiality). But really, I just thought Howard looked and acted cool. He handled adversity (being stranded on another planet) pretty well and even made the best of it by joining a band. That probably seemed like a pretty good life to me when I was young.

As anyone who follows me on Twitter will know, I’ve been slowly reading through the Howard The Duck Omnibus I got a few years back. I checked out the Essentials version a few years ago, knowing Steve Gerber’s issues are considered some of the best around, but just couldn’t get into that black and white format. I love reading the book in color and am really glad I got the omnibus, I just wish it was easier to read. Damn thing’s heavy! Anyway, I ordered something off of Amazon recently and was a few bucks short of the free shipping threshold, so I looked up the HTD DVD and it was only $5! Welcome first to my shopping cart and soon after my home movie Howard!

I just finished watching the movie again for the first time in probably a decade and I still liked it! Sure, there’s some super corny elements and a few things that don’t fit, but what else would you expect from a movie about a duck getting sucked away from his version of Earth to ours? Notice I said a movie, not a comic. In the issues I’ve read, Gerber tackles everything from Kung Fu flicks and gang violence to artistic integrity in a way that couldn’t really be done in a major motion picture. Maybe a series on Adult Swim, but not something that Hollywood would put money into.

If you’re unfamiliar with the plot, a science experiment drags Howard from his home planet to ours where he lands in Cleveland. He soon befriends Beverly (Lea Thompson), a musician who lets him stay at her place. Bev asks her scientist friend played by Tim Robbins to figure out what his deal is. After some fish-out-of-water (or duck-out-of-pond if you will) scenes, a scientist played by Jeffrey Jones explains that he and his team were trying an experiment that went wrong. They try it again and Jones winds up with a space monster growing inside him. Eventually, Howard has a showdown with Jones and then the monster itself, which looked amazing because George Lucas executive produced this flick.

The movie was and has been panned pretty intensely, but I don’t think it’s really fair. The actors did a killer job, the effects look amazing and overall it’s a solid story that has elements of Short Circuit, ET and Ghostbusters that work pretty well together as far as I’m concerned. Most importantly, no one seemed to think what they were doing was silly, they all played their parts and did what they did seemingly thinking they were making an awesome movie. My one complaint about the movie is that it’s probably 20 minutes too long. I think the filmmakers might have put too much in the movie which wound up extending the period of time audiences had to suspend their disbelief. You might buy the overall premise, but why are you watching such a long scene of Howard and Robbins flying a tiny plane? Aside from that, though, I think it holds up pretty darn well.

At the end of the day, the movie’s absurd and doesn’t really stand up to the comic book, but it’s a fun romp on its own. The DVD itself is pretty rad too because they actually put some effort into it. Robbins is the only person who didn’t come back for interviews as far as I can tell (of course). I’ve watched the first two modern retrospectives and both were pretty interesting. I haven’t gotten to the archival featurettes yet, but I can honestly say that my $5 was very well spent.