Tag Archives: Movies

Tolkien expert POLARIS is back with her look at THE HOBBIT 2!

15 Feb

The Hobbit….Take 2 or 2.0

"Wait a minute, I don't remember this scene in the book..."

“Wait a minute, I don’t remember this scene in the book…”

Another year, and another Hobbit movie has come to remind us why we love Middle Earth so damn much.  Which is great, because this is one hell of a fun ride and The Two Towers it is not.  I am at times torn over what to think of the film.  And while ultimately I will need to see the third installment to decide my final opinion of this film, that doesn’t mean that I’m about to let this one sit by the wayside and not review it until the third one comes out next year.  For me there’s a lot to love, a little to wonder about, and just a smidge that makes me sit back and go, “really?”  So on with the show.

See this movie….on a giant screen…IMAX if you can.  As with the other 4 movies, the shots are breathtaking, the scenery gorgeous, and Peter Jackson’s attention to detail unreal.  I’ve always enjoyed how he doesn’t just show you New Zealand in all its glory masquerading as Middle Earth.  He shows it in such a way that you could really believe that you were watching this take place in some otherworldly realm.  The surroundings are such a part of the story and fit so well that at times it’s very hard to believe that CG didn’t create the wondrous landscapes displayed before us.  The setting is as much a part of the stories as the actors and it is something that deserves to be watched on the biggest screen possible.

"Is it my turn to talk yet?" "NOT YET, BIFUR."

“Is it my turn to talk yet?” “NOT YET, BIFUR.”

The actors very much continue to inhabit their characters rather that just perform them on screen, but as with the first one, with a cast so large there are those that get shortchanged, more so for the dwarves in this one that the last one (which is saying something).  Little more than half of them seem to speak more than one sentence, and the bulk of the dwarf screen time appears to be split between Thorin, Kili, Balin, and Dwalin, with just a sprinkling of Fili and Bofur.  Oin gets a bit of a promotion in that he actually gets something to do this time around, but as it was I’d had to look up which one he was once I got home because I don’t recall his name being mentioned at any time.  The others are relegated to once again having single lines, background group speaking, and generally crazy hairstyles in a vain attempt to keep them memorable as they do little more than fill a space in the company.  It’s a difficult conundrum when dealing with thirteen dwarfs who even in the book only had a couple standout members, though Peter Jackson does try to remedy this somewhat with some changes to the story (more on that bit later). Martin Freeman and Ian McKellen continue their awesome streak, and Richard Armitage gives great depth to Thorin Oakenshield as we see his character go from semi-brooding dick to caring leader to greedy asshole.  It’s great seeing Orlando Bloom crop up as Legolas once more (who at this point if I see him in a movie in normal clothes it just seems wrong), and the inclusion of Evangeline Lilly as Tauriel, Thranduil’s Captain of the Guard, makes for some fun fight scenes and some….interesting twists (again, more on that bit later).

"KHAAAAAAAAN!"

“KHAAAAAAAAN!”

Then there’s Benedict Cumberbatch.  Holy fuck.  The more I see this guy the more I fucking love him.  Giving voice to both Smaug and The Necromancer, he brings those characters frighteningly to life just as Andy Serkis did with Gollum.  He’s actually managed to gain entry into that rare group of actors for which if they’re in a movie, even if it looks terrible, I will watch it at least once because I’m willing to bet that even if the movie sucks balls said actor will not, making it worth a watch.  He’s a talent to behold, and I can’t wait to see what he does next.  But “what of the story?” you may ask, well…

Continue reading

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A Very Special Thor Poster

6 Nov

by Mike Hansen

Seen in China:

Thor The Dark World chinese poster

They look adorable together, don’t they?

Source

I saw The Wolverine

11 Aug

by Mike Hansen

The Wolverine argentina

Probably my favorite of the international posters, even if the tagline is as cheesy as U.S. posters: “Fugitive, Hero, Legend.” Really? “Inmortal,” indeed…

They finally got the claws right.

Every X-Men film has its nitpicky moments, giving long-time comics readers like me something to complain about (in the right company). The first couple of X-Men films get a pass, because they were at the very beginning of the superhero-film wave that didn’t really get going until the first Spider-Man movie. Both of them have a lot of good visual and character moments, but watching them now reveals a lot of stuff that would make me cringe if they were made in 2013. The near-franchise killer (despite its initial box-office success) X-Men: The Last Stand is still nearly unwatchable for me, with its odd and pointless creative choices. Likewise X-Men Origins: Wolverine, which clearly owed its limited success to the last bit of goodwill fans had for the material (not to mention the rough cut’s leak, marking the beginning of the end for MegaUpload and making it really damn tough for me to complete my AC/DC bootleg collection – but I digress…).

The Wolverine japan flag teaser

I usually like teaser posters more than later ones. For me, less is more.

X-Men: First Class was a big step back in the right direction, with its bold and ballsy 1960s Cold War setting and the kind of reboot no superhero franchise in any medium had seen yet: nailing down the premise’s origins in a specific time in history, despite the unofficial Marvel “ten-year rule” for its oldest characters (i.e., as of 2013, the Fantastic Four and Spider-Man got their powers in 2003 – even though their first appearances were in 1961-1962). This kind of thinking has also led to creative disasters like DC’s New 52 reboot (although one of its few good ideas was Grant Morrison’s run on Action Comics featuring the early days of Superman), so it can be a fine line to walk between respecting and adapting source material, and just doing overpaid fan fiction. First Class also had that great, super-brief scene with Wolverine, one of the few times I’ve seen a scene designed as fan service really work. (Will its other choices, like an early furry Beast and using Cyclops’s brother, make sense in the long run? Time will tell…)

The Wolverine samurai

I think this poster was for the Japanese market. I dig it, especially its similarity to the new X-Men: Days of Future Past teaser posters.

The Wolverine has none of the problems of previous X-Men films. It’s a tight story set (mostly) during just a handful of days, some time after the events of The Last Stand (none of which are directly referenced, other than that Wolverine killed Jean Grey and is now haunted by this). The story is mainly Continue reading

Unseen TMNT art by Kevin Eastman from the new (dead?) film

14 Dec

by Mike Hansen

UPDATE: These weren’t from the new Michael Bay film; they’re from an earlier unproduced film. Oops!

Awesome! Here are some designs that, sadly, were never used from a fourth 1990s Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles live-action film:

Evil AprilKirby bwSuper ShredderFootKaseyLawsonNano Spyder colorKirby color

Many more HERE.

I watched The Dark Knight Reborn documentary

5 Dec

by Mike Hansen

The Dark Knight Rises (Best Buy Blu-Ray) In case you didn’t know, the Best Buy edition of The Dark Knight Rises Blu-Ray set comes with a free bonus downloadable documentary, The Dark Knight Reborn. (I’ve read that this is also on the Blu-Ray disc itself for Best Buy editions, but my copy won’t show up for a few days.)

Here’s the trailer:

Overall, it’s a bit uneven, but there are a lot of fantastic moments from the making of all three of Christopher Nolan’s Batman films. Nolan is featured heavily in the interview footage, and it’s nice to see one of my favorite directors reflect on his journey of creating the ultimate Bruce Wayne story.

There’s an amazing unused shot featuring Heath Ledger as the Joker – very little happens in the scene, but it highlights just how incredible Ledger’s presence was in The Dark Knight. This moment alone made watching this worth it for me.

This “documentary” is only 38 minutes long, and it’s structured more like a string of unrelated featurettes than as a fully formed behind-the-scenes story. There are way too many talking-heads shots – I understand the need for these during the initial promotional process for a film, but a lot of the dialogue here would have worked better as narration. Speaking of which – there’s a really cheesy narrator talking over a few segments who seems to think he needs to sell the Batman trilogy (hey, guy, we’ve already bought it!).

In order to download/watch it, I had to set up a (free) CinemaNow account, which was a bit of a hassle and required going back a few times to get it to download properly. But once it was fully downloaded, I got myself a .WMV file that can be played/burned however I want.

So was it worth it? Continue reading

Comic-Con: This is how it felt

18 Jul

by Mike Hansen

I didn’t see any Hall H movie or TV panels (because I didn’t want to wait in line for hours), but I love this clip:

Lots of stuff to talk about from the last week… More very soon.

More Links Catch-Up (Walking Dead, Superman, Alan Moore, Joss Whedon, D&D, etc.)

14 Jun

by Mike Hansen

CBLDF

CBLDF (Photo credit: badlyricpolice)

Sorry about the lack of posts yesterday – I’m hammering away on some comics story proposals to pitch to publishers in the coming weeks. I’ll be sharing more info about them in the future. In the meantime, I thought you’d dig these stories:

Awesome story about a kid who asks a comics retailer, “Are you Superman?”

After moving their channel numbers, Dish Network has threatened to stop carrying AMC’s networks next month. That means no more Walking Dead and Comic Book Men (among others) for millions of people. Click here to tell Dish what you think about this.

The CBLDF gives a quick take on the mother who complained about an Alan Moore comic at a library being available for teens. (While I’d call Neonomicon one of Moore’s more “adult-oriented” comics, I’d never suggest that teenagers aren’t mature enough to handle “mature-readers” comics – after all, I happily read Elfquest, Groo, Swamp Thing, Sandman, and Hellblazer as a kid – all of which had nudity, sex, and/or “graphic” violence…)

Now that the Avengers Continue reading

I saw Snow White & the Huntsman

11 Jun

by Mike Hansen

Snow White & the Huntsman horizontal 3part teaserNo, this isn’t comics. But it’s a movie about a fairy tale, and that’s close enough for me.

Short answer: I liked this a LOT more than I thought I would.

Longer answer…

PROS:

Snow White & the Huntsman queen foreignThe story actually works, at least for the first 90% of the film. Instead of treating the source material as a safe story for small children, this movie goes the other way and reminds us how difficult and cruel life was for most people back when this story was created. This is a hard PG-13, and I really appreciate how the material isn’t dumbed down or softened for a younger crowd. Kids already have the immortal Disney version, and this is now the best alternative telling of Snow White for a more mature audience. It’s restrained enough to not go over-the-top or excessive with the violence or death, but there are moments that are likely to give children nightmares, and I say that as a compliment.

The design is incredible. Even though Snow White & the Huntsman is based on a fairy tale, this film treats its subject matter seriously and makes the world feel as real as possible. There are some moments in the “happy/good” forest with the dwarfs that are truly breathtaking. And there’s actually dirt under the characters’ fingernails, including Snow White (though she keeps her disturbing, impossibly white teeth). Similarly, the special effects are, for the most part, fantastic.

This film is much closer to Tolkien-ish realistic fantasy than the cheesy immaturity of the Narnia films and books. This film doesn’t need its characters to stare wide-eyed in wonder at everything, because it looks good enough for the viewer to do this on their own.

Snow White & the Huntsman huntsman segmentCharlize Theron is brilliant as the wicked queen – she completely gives herself over to the role, and is absolutely believable in her vampiric quest for immortality and power. And the script is very, very smart in giving her a genuine motivation for her actions beyond just being evil for its own sake. When she explodes with rage or keeps herself coldly separate from other people and the world, I bought every moment – having seen people in my own life exhibit similarly sad behavior. Theron is so great and dangerously sexy (a vampire in all but name) that I have a hard time buying that she isn’t the fairest one of all – even though the script does a surprisingly impressive job making Snow White an inspiring figure, Kristen Stewart’s performance didn’t quite sell it to me (though the blame for this could go to the director or editor as well).

Similarly, Chris Hemsworth continues to impress me. After his fine work in The Avengers and Cabin in the Woods, he’s having a hell of a good year with some terrific roles, and his Huntsman is given a lot of material to play with.

CONS: Continue reading

LOTS o’ Links (May 30 2012)

30 May

by Mike Hansen

Jack Kirby with Avengers cover

Hail to the King, baby.

The best links I’ve come across in the last few days/weeks – bookmark and read at your leisure:

The Bonfire Agency has put its money where its mouth is, and created FanPan, an online consumer focus group for comics readers. Sounds interesting.

The ONLY Avengers film review you need to read.

Possibly the most important comic you can buy and/or download this year: STEAL BACK YOUR VOTE, from one of America’s best investigative journalists (whose work towers over the often-shoddy reporting of U.S. corporate media). Check it out.

Since I’ve been talking about bonus features, here’s something everyone should know about DVD bonus features. Mark Evanier shines a light on something rather messed up about multimillion-dollar movie studios.

On a related note, here’s a horror story of how Warner Bros treats the translators of Harry Potter novels around the world. They’re even not invited to the film premieres, even when their work is used for the films without credit or payment. Classy.

Would WB treat J.K. Rowling the way DC treated Alan Moore? (Or just their translators?)

Did you know that the first appearance of Batman has rarely been reprinted in its original form? Most “reprints” are actually an edited and REDRAWN version of the story – see this post for a dramatic comparison of a few panels. Ugh! (If you want to read the real deal, it seems that the Batman in the Forties trade paperback is the only recent reprint of the actual original.)

Nice interview with Matt Wagner on his final Zorro story arc – Wagner remains one of the best writers (and artists) in comics, and his Zorro work is one of the best things Dynamite’s ever published. I recommend it for, well, pretty much everyone.

Have you seen this adorable story of how Marvel created a deaf superhero to convince a child to wear his hearing aid? Big points to Marvel for this one.

In the wake of the Avengers movie’s success, Image publisher Eric Stephenson republished his essay on Jack Kirby.

Legendary Marvel writer/artist Jim Starlin (whose work was credited in the Avengers film) had to buy his own ticket. And didn’t get any money for the use of his work. Sigh.

A surprising profile/interview with Stan Lee (who, unlike former freelance Marvel writers and artists, gets $1 million a year for life from Marvel) actually got his take on creators’ rights. Here’s another interview with Lee along the same lines.

Here’s Chris Roberson’s full interview with the Comics Journal in the wake of his departure from DC.

Batman in the Forties TPB cover

The only place to read the REAL original Batman story?

The CEOs of Disney (which owns Marvel) and Time Warner (which owns DC) were each paid millions of dollars last year. I wonder how much the creators of the superheroes they own made.

This is old news at this point, but the comments thread of this piece on Before Watchmen at The Beat is well worth reading – lots of comics pros have things to say, including Toby Cypress, Stuart Moore, Ed Brubaker, and Kurt Busiek.

Former Marvel Editor-in-Chief Jim Shooter has a lot to say about the “shared-universe” concept and a new business model for work-for-hire. Can it be done? I dunno, but it raises some interesting ideas. (This post is also the last of a series reacting to brilliant futurist Cory Doctorow (of BoingBoing, the best must-read website on the planet) and his ideas about using technology to share ideas and work. Obviously, I recommend them, too.)

A just-released German Donald Duck reprint accidentally misused the word “holocaust.” Oops.

An Iranian cartoonist was recently sentenced to 25 lashings for daring to draw a member of Iran’s parliament wearing a soccer jersey. Dear Iran: Go fuck yourselves.

A Swedish manga translator was put on a sex-offenders list and forced to lose his job and “manga expert” title for owning comics that were ruled “child pornography.” This, of course, does not do one damn thing to protect actual children from actual offenders. Good job, Sweden.

Steve Bennett has the most interesting take I’ve seen yet on the “gay people in comics” issue:

Why now?  Because we’ve undoubtedly reached the tipping point where homosexuality has become so ubiquitous in American life if it’s absent in popular culture its noticeable.  And as to why comics?  Because comics are, hopefully, still a part of mainstream American popular culture, and to be that it was to reflect reality… even if there are people who reject it.

This ties in to something that drives me nuts about most movies and TV, which is the continuing near-absence of minorities besides “token” characters with race-based dialogue (“Aw, hell no!”). And, of course, there’s the Bechdel Test

Okay, so WHY am I linking to things that criticize Marvel and DC while interviewing people who work for Marvel? Well, Continue reading

MUST-READ: massive Alan Moore interview on Before Watchmen and much more (with COMMENTARY)

13 Mar

by Mike Hansen

Cover art for the 1987 U.S. (right) and U.K. (...

One of the best books you'll ever read. (Image via Wikipedia)

DUDE. A few comics sites and fan boards are already quoting from this, but it really has to be read in full.

Drop everything and CLICK HERE NOW.

Alan Moore has the balls to stick to his guns and tell the truth as he sees it about comics. A lot of fanboys and professionals (who are mostly fanboys) are going to hate him for this, but I loooooove it. Personally, I agree with a lot of what he says. Not all, but so what? He’s got my respect for telling it like he sees it. (And even if he was batshit crazy and spitting nonsense, like some clueless folks try to suggest, his work changed EVERYTHING, and that speaks for itself. Respect is due)

A few important bits, to get you to click over if you haven’t already:

…Yes, I still get a little bit of the money that I consider myself to be owed for these things.  But, it’s not really the money that’s the principle.  It’s the fact that I was lied to.  It’s the fact that the reason they offered us Watchmen was that they’d seen what I could do with their regular comics.  They could see that I was capable of moving them to a new area that comics had not ventured into before.  So, they offered us Watchmen and it worked out very, very well for them.  They were able to suddenly claim that all of their comics were “graphic novels” now–that they were seriously committed to a progressive comics medium that could produce works of art and literature.  But, that is never what they were concerned with.  It was always purely to do with commerce.

Man, the number of actual “graphic novels” that DC has published since Watchmen is probably less than 5% of its total output. It’s almost all serialized, unending bits of stories strung together. Not that there’s anything wrong with that, if it’s done right.

But, I resolved that I didn’t want to work for DC Comics ever again–or their subsidiaries.  This worked fine for a number of years until Continue reading

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