Archive for the ‘Comics’ Category

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The release of the next Halloween movie is right around the corner. I thought it would be cool to take a look at the excellent Halloween: Nightdance comic mini-series from 2008. The four part series is written by Stefan Hutchinson and features excellent artwork from Tim Seeley. For fans of the franchise this is pretty much “Must read

Halloween: Nightdance takes place in the quiet town of Russellville. The main character is a teenage girl who is just managing to come to terms with a horrific event from her past. Like a Robert Altman or Paul Thomas Anderson film this entry into the Halloween series takes a multiple point of view approach to the world of The Shape and how those unlucky enough to come across his path end up. One take away from Nightdance is there are arguably worse fates than death! The way the plot follows different characters and how their tales and encounters with the iconic killer come together is one of the most well plotted and executed parts about the comic. The character work here is better than in most of the proper movie sequels. You give a shit about these characters. Running through the nightmare of this tale is a central mystery too and the outcome of that is chilling.

One thing I can not stress enough is this comic is for mature readers. Beyond the obvious stalk and slash scenes there are some shocking moments that you might not expect. So consider yourself warned if you do not like your horror too in your face. The kills are flat out nasty. Way worse than any in the films. That includes that hyper violent Rob Zombie ones.

Easily the two big stand outs here are the excellent writing, which I’ve gone into above and the artwork. This comic is both beautiful and haunting. These guys are clearly fans of the Halloween series but what comes across most is they get it. It’s easy to say “Yea we’re big fans of the Halloween movies” and then deliver some mess of a sequel but here it is clear Hutchinson and Seeley got what Carpenter set out to do with the original movie and built upon it with their series.

Back when this comic came out right away I thought it would make an excellent movie. We’ve seen the Halloween series, on film, go through its fair share of ups (Season of the Witch, The Return of Michael Myers, H20) and downs (Halloween 5, 6 and Resurrection)over the years. Nightdance felt like the perfect template for movie producers to get the horror franchise back on track. Maybe one day. The best part about Nightdance is how it fits effortlessly into the canon of the films. It has its own start, middle and end and no matter where the films go this could slot in with no issues along the line. Maybe one day.

Read this comic series if you are a Halloween fan. I think it is hard to track down these days but if you can find it and it’s not some crazy price check it out. You won’t be sorry.

 

 

Here we have the, likely, final trailer for Spider-Man: Into the Spider -Verse! This stunning looking animated movie is from the minds behind 21 Jump Street and The Lego Movie and is directed by Bob Persichetti, Peter Ramsey and Rodney Rothman.

What’s cool about this new trailer is it gives us our first real look at the movies supporting characters such as Spider-Gwen, Spider-Man Noir and Spider-Ham (!!). Despite being a comic reader and a Spider-Man one at that I never did read the Spider-Verse stuff. I am looking forward to seeing these characters in action as much as anyone else! The trailer also shows off more of the villains our heroes will be going up against throughout the movie.

Spider-Man: Into the Spider-Verse stars the voices of Shameik Moore, Nicolas Cage, Jake Johnson, Hailee Steinfeld, Mahershala Ali, Lily Tomlin and Liev Schreiber. That’s some cast! Look for the movie in theatres December 14th.

 

Captain Marvel teaser trailer

Posted: September 19, 2018 in Comics, Movies
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Here she is! After months of waiting Marvel fans wishes have been answered with the first look at the Captain Marvel movie. This film stands out among the other MCU movies as being the first one to be led by a female superhero. About bloody time!

My knowledge of the character is limited. I haven’t read her solo comics but I have read a fair bit of Ultimates which is this crazy cosmic series that Captain Marvel is a part of. Those comics are awesome and she’s a kick arse character in those comics. As for her origins? I guess I’ll find out in the movie. I think I read online this film isn’t an origin movie but it sure looks like one from that teaser trailer.

What do you think? I think it looks okay. Look I have no doubt the film will be a hit and will be so because it is well made but – sorry to say it like this – it does – visually – look like any other MCU film. Not a bad thing but I’m just putting that out there. Plus this is only a teaser. Major points for the Blockbuster Video cameo though and I am loving the younger versions of Fury and Coulson. Brilliant effects work there. Oh and Brie Larson is awesome and crazy talented so I think the film will turn out okay. I’m not familiar with the directors though but if Marvel are happy to hire ’em they must be good.

Captain Marvel hits screens next March.

Superman II

Posted: August 27, 2018 in Comics, Movies
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Superman 2 is a odd film to look back on. Not because it is a bad film because it is not. Superman 2 is very good. Sadly, at the time of release back in 1980, the movie went through a number of reshoots and had its original director, Richard Donner, who did the first film, replaced. The man behind A Hard Day’s Night and The Three Musketeers, Richard Lester, was brought in to complete the film. Sounds a bit similar to this years Justice League right? Outside of the shake ups behind the scenes the actual theatrical cut is a solid sequel to the 1978 movie. Stars Christopher Reeve, Gene Hackman and Margot Kidder were back along with several other actors and that’s a given as Superman and Superman 2 were shot back to back like Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy.

The opening credits act as a recap of the last film. I thought that was a nice touch to bring audiences back up to speed. With the actual opening scenes of the film revisiting the Kryptonian terrorist plot point which the first film teased. During those scenes we learn more about the tyrant General Zod and his minions Ursa and Non. Sentenced to life in the Phantom Zone for terrible crimes the terrorist’s find a stroke of luck in their despair when a freak twist of fate sees them released from their prison. Their destination? Earth. So it falls to Superman to face off against them before Zod can take over the world and rule. If that wasn’t bad enough Lex Luthor is on to Superman’s secrets and makes it his mission to bring down the Man of Steel, even if that means forging an alliance with General Zod!

One of the most obvious changes in Superman 2 compared to the first film is the level of action. The entire third act of the film is one big fight between Superman and Zod and his soldiers in the middle of Metropolis. For a film from 1980 the level of destruction on display is impressive and the action is shot well. For younger readers I’d agree that effects wise there’s nothing that would blow your mind here if you’re used to the smackdown action of the MCU or DCU today but there’s a weight here missing from those films. Once again it comes down to practical and in-camera effects work. Clever use of scale models and other wizard like stuff to nail the effects goes a long way and here we are today seeing it has stood the test of time.

Superman gets to fly around rescuing people from time to time before the all out showdown in the film’s last act. An Eiffel Tower hostage sequence is really good and there’s some cool stuff that occurs in and around Niagara Falls which adds more scope to the film than what the first offered in terms of location. It helps to give the impression that Superman and his powers are almost limitless. So when he comes up against Zod and then struggles it’s like “Well what the hell is he going to do to stop this guy?” Plus it’s exciting seeing Zod, Ursa and Non wrecking havoc across the United States and on the moon!

Reeve and Kidder are once again excellent as Superman and Lois Lane. Their relationship is explored more in this sequel and takes some unexpected turns. One aspect of the source these two early films nailed, I think, is this love story and it’s awesome to just watch these two actors play off one another. Hackman is a hoot as Lex. He takes more of a backseat to Zod but still gets some good scenes and it is funny watching him try to make himself useful to Zod, his own ego acting as his shield against the threat of death. Terence Stamp, Sarah Douglas and Jack O’Halloran are brilliant as the bad guys. Scenes of them in space, just flying around, man they used to freak me out when I was a kid and still do. They really see humans as ants compared to themselves and when addressing them or attacking they show no remorse. I know you’re not meant to like the bad guys but I do, I wanted them beaten sure but they’re so fun to watch.

I think this is a great follow up to Richard Donner’s first film. As most everyone knows there is another cut of this film out there under the title of Superman 2 The Donner Cut. I have not seen that. I hope to check it out and see how different that film compares to this. I have heard it’s even better and if that is the case then I guess I am in for a treat ’cause I already like this film a lot as it stands with this, I guess(?), theatrical cut. Superman 2, along with the first film, stands out as one of the best DC movies out there decades after its release. I’m sure it will continue to shine far into the future.

 

Superman (1978)

Posted: August 15, 2018 in Comics, Movies
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Superman is a timeless classic. The film hit theatres in 1978 and it would go on to influence young writers and directors working today in Hollywood. You know this stupid Marvel VS. DC divide so many fans get caught up in? Sorry to burst your bubble but many of the directors, writers and producers over at Marvel have stated their love for this Superman tale. Once you see this flick it’s no wonder. This is an excellent comic book movie and a great character study that gets SO much right despite taking its time to get going and having little to no action of the likes you’d find crammed into any modern Marvel or DC movie.

Richard Donner (Lethal Weapon, The Goonies) directs and puts everything into the film. There’s a ton of heart in this. Two scenes stick out the most for me. There’s not an ounce of action or confrontation in either. The first is when Lois Lane (an excellent Margot Kidder) interviews Superman for the first time. Their exchanges are so honest and playful. The chemistry between the actors is there but so is the great direction and a solid script for them to work from.The other scene takes place shortly after this one and again focuses on Lois and Superman. He takes her flying, just so she can experience it and while in the clouds we hear a poem she’s thought up about this man of her dreams. That right there cements not only the fact she’s fallen for him but their core connection as characters. The great thing about this pair being, as we all know, is Superman already loves Lois and she’d know it if only she could see past his Clark Kent disguise and the film plays with that wonderfully throughout. As the stakes rise in the third act and Lois is put in danger we, thanks to these two seemingly unevenful scenes, care deeply that Superman can get to her in time and save her life.

Superman is so simple from a story perspective. Alien comes to Earth. Is adopted by the Kents. Has to hide his true abilities before finally coming of age and going out into the big city to find his future and fall in love with a girl. There’s no fat on this film. No forced plot points so the studio could, at the time, build a shared universe. None of that crap here. That is why this film works as well as it does. It is focused. No disrespect to Zack Snyder but throw Man of Steel on after this and while you may rightly be entertained for two plus hours I doubt you’ll feel as much when it comes to emotion when you see that take on the character compared to this take. I think i know why that is too. Donner and co., even those at Warner Bros. back in ’78 knew and loved the source and they knew their audience. These days too many of these pictures have too many cooks in the kitchen. This should be an example of how to get these projects done right.

Forty years after release and the special effects are still good. See what I mean when I’m always going on about practical effects over CGI? Sure it’s cool seeing Superman in more modern takes doing crazy flying and other cool shit but who cares if you don’t get invested emotionally? This film nails that balance. The use of miniture sets for grand Superman disaster/rescue sequences may be obvious but have lost none of their impact nor charm. There’s also several impressive actual to scale stunt sequnces in this flick, one involving a aircraft, which still had me on the edge of my seat. You know these days when I’m seeing whole cities being brought down by two dudes fighting I don’t care as much because I know it’s so obviously all just CGI. It doesn’t feel real. Doesn’t matter what it looks like.

Christopher Reeve was/is/will always be my Superman. I was born in ’83 so it goes without saying I grew up with Reeve as Superman and I assumed he would be forever. He’s brilliant as both Superman AND Clark. It’s a performence no actor since has quite been able to pull off as good as Reeve. Kidder is awesome as I mentioned earlier. Then there is Gene Hackman as Lex Luthor and he puts in a fun and brilliant performence. You even get Marlon Brando is this film and you know that guy is just a masterclass when it comes to acting.

The score, by John Williams, is the stuff of legend. You could whistle the theme from Superman to a stranger on the otherside of the world today and chances are they’d know where it was from. This film gets so much right. I read Superman, not as much as Batman or the X-Men but I have read my fair share. This film, this film from FORTY years ago, is the closest a movie has gotten to nailing the character in my eyes. When this whole Superman reboot was first tossed around at the close of Nolan’s Bat trilogy I have to wonder why this Donner classic wasn’t used as a jumping off point. This is what the DCU can be and what I hope it one day manages to return to.

 

 

 

Generation X (2017) VOL 1 & 2

Posted: June 30, 2018 in Comics
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Ah 90’s MARVEL. Everything was bigger and bolder. I came of comic book age in the mid 1990s and it was awesome. I have never looked back. By chance, just as I was getting into my comic book groove, Marvel was getting ready to launch their hot new team book, a spin off from the main X-Men titles, Generation X. Basically this was the 90’s version of the New Mutants. The comic centred on Jubiliee and boasted a whole host of brand new mutant characters such as Chamber, Husk, M, and Penance. Not to mention a terrifying villian in the form of Emplate. You got Emma Frost and Banshee running the team with art from Chris Bachalo and fun writing from Scott Lobdell. The comic was fun and it was very much of the decade that it debuted in. Last year Marvel relaunched Generation X for a brand new generation and the results are outstanding.

Generation X (2017) is written by Christina Strain and features awesome art from a variety of talented artists. I was not familair with Strain’s work before this book and I’m happy to say she has crafted a tale that not only honours its source but pushes long time fan fave characters forwards in their growth and introduces (just like the original book did) a new bunch of X-Kids for readers to fall in love with. I’m gonna go and just get this out of the way right now. Ready? Okay. This is MUCH better than the original Gen X. And I mean no disprespect with that statement. It just is and I’d reckon that even Lobdell and Bachalo would agree Strain and her fellow creators have crafted one hell of a book here. This book is X-Men as its strongest. It’s fun, it’s colourful, it has strong characters, great writing and deals with a variety of themes that relate to real world issues young people all over the wolrd are going through. Simply put this book is vital and long may it last.

The new blood – Bling!, Kid Omega, Nature Girl, Eye-Boy, Hindsight and Morph – may have code names that are a bit too on the nose but rest assured they have the depth of character and complex interactions to add weight to their existance. First loves, jealousy, loners, looking different, acting out, single parenthood and sexuality are all focal points and never in a way that talks down to the reader. These kids look and act real. Where’s as the original Generation X could have stepped off the set of Beverly Hills 90210 these new kids look like your everyday teenager just trying to get by. At first I was a little big gutted this team was missing its diva but then it hit me HE was present all along. Kid Omega AKA Quentin Quire, who made his debut in Gran Morrison’s fantastic New X-Men, more than gives Emma Frost and M. a run for their money when it comes to attitude and sass!

For long time fans of Generation X fear not! The old team is still a core part of this series and are present and accounted for. Right away, depsite a focus on what’s new, this comic reminds constant reader of its roots and how they will never be forgotten. Jubiliee, Chamber and Husk have taken on more mentor like roles but neither has lost what made them likeable to start with and get just as much love as the new characters. Then we have M. The original Gen X diva who gets a great arc. It’ll be interesting to see if any other old faces pop up in future issues. Honestly there’s no rush either, I’d rather classic team members are featured organically and have strong arcs.

So far I am two volumes in into the new Generation X, which would be around 12 issues. Hopefully it continues its seemingly effortless balancing act of highlighting what’s new while showing how some things, thankfully, never change. They just get better. Right now has never been a better time to be an X-Men fan. For the haters who celebrated the notion Marvel had abandoned their mutants last years relaunch shows that was never the case. They were simply taking their time to make sure the X-Men’s return was everything the fans could hope for.

 

This is without a doubt the golden age for comic book movies and a huge reason for this is the quality and the care Marvel puts into their productions. Arriving next month is Avengers: Infinity War. The film is set up to act as a final chapter to each proceeding film that has come before up until now. Marvel bosses have been very clear in stating that come the finale of the Infinity War two movie saga the MCU will be a very different place.

Contracts are up which means we may well see the last of some of our favourite heroes come the end of Infinity War. Of course contracts can be renewed and no one stays dead for long in Marvel comics. I’d be shocked if any of the big deaths stick but what do I know? I reckon Cap, Thor, Hawkeye, Black Widow and yes even Iron Man are safe. I just don’t think Marvel has the guts to get rid of ’em! Maria Hill, War Machine, Nick Fury and Scarlet Witch? Sure. I could see one of those sadly departing the MCU but time will tell.

Anyway! Enough of speculation. What matters is the film delivers. Who lives and who dies isn’t as important as the film being great. The Russo brothers have had one heck of a task bringing a film of this scale to life. I think they’ve pulled it off. We’ll find out in a few weeks!

Okay. So by now most of you have seen the teaser trailer for Venom and the big take away was you did not get to see Eddie Brock in his symbiote costume. This film has literally just finished shooting a few days ago. It’s not even out till October. The fact we got a look at it this early is a privilege. Sony don’t OWE us. They know the fanbase for this is big so all involved wanted to get a look at the film out as soon as possible. Be disappointed by all means but don’t start taking to Twitter complaining how hard it is you didn’t get to see Venom. Relax. You will. The amount of kick off online I saw in reaction to this trailer really pissed me off. Talk about a sense of entitlement!

Now on to the teaser itself. I think it looked good. Tone wise it seems like they nailed it and by that I mean it looks like this will be a science fiction flick with action and a serious vibe. Tom Hardy will nail it as Eddie Brock. With the motion capture tech we have today I think fans will be in for one hell of a treat once we get to see what Venom looks like in action. The film has a great cast. Hopefully the script and direction pay off because if they do this could be a quality flick. Venom hits cinema screens in October. See? It’s ages away. You’ll get another two or three trailers before it’s out.

 

Over the weekend the trailer dropped for the Sony Pictures animated Spider-Man movie. So did the new Ready Player One trailer so you’d be forgiven if this one went under your radar.

What a trailer. This looks fantastic. The animation on display here is like nothing I have seen before. This looks like a living comic book movie and it has me very excited for the film.

Now that we have a title – Into the Spider-Verse – comic readers will know exactly what the film will be about. “So, how many of us are there?” Miles Morales asks Peter Parker. The answer is…quite a few. I haven’t read the Spider-Verse comic arc but I know about it and it’s a great way to blow open the Spider-Man mythology in a new and exciting way.

This movie comes from the folks who had a hand in The Lego Movie and 21 Jump Street so chances are good it will be good. For those worrying Miles Morales will be co-starring in his own movie fear not! The filmmakers behind Into the Spider-Verse have said this is a Miles Morales movie first and foremost.

Here’s the bad news. This isn’t out till next Christmas!! So watch that trailer again and please be excited.

Justice League

Posted: December 6, 2017 in Comics, Movies
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I finally got to see Justice League. I couldn’t get out to see it upon its release and in some ways I think that distance did me good. A lot went on behind the scenes in the making of this movie. I try to ignore those things because what matters is the finished film. In the case of this film though it was hard. Director Zack Snyder (Man of Steel, Dawn of Justice) and writer Joss Whedon (Avengers, Buffy) had to come together through circumstances neither could have foreseen and finish the film. The result is mixed, overall it’s a decent movie that does it’s classic characters and the talent – from Zack, to Joss and the cast and crew – proud.

The plot follows on from the events of Batman vs. Superman: Dawn of Justice. Superman is gone, Batman feels guilty and there’s a world ending threat looming that’s about to kick off. Batman and Wonder Woman must unite Earth’s greatest warriors – The Flash, Aquaman and Cyborg AKA the Justice League to save the world.

During the first act I was worried. Some scenes felt a bit thrown together for the sake of quickly establishing characters we hadn’t got to know yet and the need to bring everyone together. Thankfully as the film moves into the second and third acts the film begins to really come into it’s own. Feeling clear in tone, confident in it’s execution and by the time the credits rolled delivering a solid big screen debut for DC’s most famous super hero team.

The cast is very good. Affleck is a great Batman and it saddens me to think he could be done with the role after this movie. Gal Gadot shines as Wonder Woman and Henry Cavill does good with what he’s given to do. The big draws for comic fans in this movie are the new additions. Jason Momoa, Ezra Miller and Ray Fisher are all great additions to the DCEU. Don’t forget this is the first proper time we’ve got to spend with Aquaman, Cyborg and The Flash. It’s a credit to each of them they’re alble to leave their marks despite having to share the billing with DC’s most inconic heroes.

Zack Snyder always delivers on action and visuals. The action is great in Justice League. It’s not easy working out big fight scenes and who gets their chance to shine and when but Snyder makes sure each of the League gets their moments to stand out. All of the action is well shot and clear. My favourite action scenes being the last act smackdown, those featuring Connie Nielsen’s Queen Hippolyta (what a character!) and a small but welcome one of Batman being Batman. I love Batman and I love the look of Gotham City so anytime spent on either is a plus.

I was surprised the fim’s score didn’t resonate more with me, one thing the DC movies have done a great job at is the character musical themes. I was under the impression this featured both Batman and Superman’s classic themes but the way they’re used in the movie you have to listen to pick them up.

Justice League is a solid movie. As a cap to Man of Steel and Dawn of Justice it works. It brings light to a series that some have issue with for being too dark. As the begining of a new series of Justice League movies it does it’s job. In a good way. It’s not without flaws but it’s fun and as a debut for DC’s finest it’s a welcome addition to the DCEU.

Roll on Aquaman, Wonder Woman II and hopefully a Affleck led solo Batman movie.