Friday, August 31, 2007

Movies that should be TV series, Michelle from 24 moves to ER, and what a Shazam! movie should be

Speaking of Big Trouble in Little China, Kung Fu Rodeo has a list up of movies they'd like to see made into TV shows. I'd certainly want to watch a Big Trouble in Little China show if they got the right actor to play ol' Jack. And I agree that Nathan Fillion is "the right actor." I'd also totally dig a Time Bandits show and an Incredibles show. Maybe an Army of Darkness show, but I don't know if you could do that without Campbell and I'm already getting my weekly fix of him on Burn Notice.

The rest, I don't know if I'd watch. I definitely wouldn't watch a Showgirls or Goonies series because I didn't like the movies all that much. Dawn of the Dead, The Dirty Dozen, and Jurassic Park seem like they'd get tired fast. The Road Warrior could be good, but then again, it could absolutely suck. I'd need to watch the pilot before knowing if it was for me.

Speaking of knowing if things are for me, the writer for the upcoming Shazam! movie said something interesting recently. He was talking about the tone of his script and called it an action-comedy, then -- perhaps sensing that that wasn't what fans wanted to hear -- immediately tried to clarify what he meant by that. “In a sense, even with a character that doesn’t have the giant spotlight on him like Superman or Batman, there’s a tremendously loyal fanbase who have very clear expectations about what they think a Captain Marvel movie should be."

The thing is, I'm not sure that the Captain Marvel fanbase does have clear expectations about what they think a Captain Marvel movie should be. I know I don't want it to be anything like Trials of Shazam!, but do you go more for a straightforward, Power of Shazam! take, lighten it up even more and make it like Monster Society of Evil, or go totally goofy like the original comics? If there are any Captain Marvel fans reading this, let me know what you think. What would a good Captain Marvel movie be like?

One last bit of news for the week: this makes me really tempted to start watching ER. I don't want to wade into years of backstory, but Michelle was one of my favorite characters on 24 when I used to watch that show and I'd love to see Reiko Aylesworth in something new.

Balls of Fury

I really hadn't planned to review Balls of Fury, but a) it was really funny, so you should see it, and b) it actually has a kickass heroine in it, so it's the sort of thing I like talking about here.

Regarding the funny: no, you didn't see all the best parts in the trailers. The ads do spoil some moments that would've been funnier if you hadn't known they were coming, but there are still plenty of surprises. That said, the ads also do an excellent job of letting you know whether or not this is Your Kind of Movie. If you don't think it looks like Christopher Walken's Best Role Ever from the commercials, it might not be for you. But then, I pity you for your no-sense-of-humor-having. Throw in Lt. Dangle from Reno 911, Oswald from The Drew Carey Show, Lo Pan from Big Trouble in Little China, George Lopez from, well, George Lopez, John Doggett from X-Files, Ross' girlfriend Charlie from Friends, Mowgli from that '90s live-action Jungle Book, and Maggie Q from Mission: Impossible III and Live Free or Die Hard... you've got a lot to look at and laugh at.

I was particularly impressed with Maggie Q's role. She's a butt-kicker, but not at all your usual spy-comedy heroine. She doesn't do Damsel-in-Distress, but she also doesn't do Annoying, Over-Compensating Man-Hater. She's annoyed with the students in her ping-pong school who paw at her, but she quickly kicks their asses and moves on. She doesn't seem to hold it against all males and she certainly doesn't seem like she has anything to prove to anyone.

I don't want to make too much out of her though. She's certainly not the focus of the film; I just liked her and wanted to point her out. I will say though that her change-of-heart towards the main dude (she starts off disliking his slovenly self, but ends up falling in love with him) is completely forced and unbelievable. It happens because it's supposed to happen.

The critics aren't liking Balls of Fury very much, but screw 'em. I had a good time with it. But then again, I had a good time with The Last Legion last week, so what do I know?

Thursday, August 30, 2007

No respect for Green Arrow

I've been trying to warm up to Green Arrow because Black Canary has. If I can't like him, then it's possibly going to affect my opinion of her for marrying him, and I'd like to keep liking her.

So, when I read this, I was prepared to dismiss it and keep on trying to like Green Arrow anyway. After all, Devon lists several perfectly good reasons to not like GA, but adds "the constant political posturing foisted upon the character" to the list. That sounds like Devon's stretching for another reason not to like him. There's no doubt that GA's been a jerk in his most important relationships, but to claim that writers have "foisted" political posturing on him isn't fair.

First of all, GA's agenda is far more social than political, but more importantly is that his passion for those issues have been a part of his character for way longer than his relationship buttholery. Why does Devon think that that part's been "foisted" on him while accepting that the womanizing, child-abandonment, and lying are all natural parts of his character? My first thought was that passion about social injustice is actually a positive thing and so it makes Devon's point better if that's not really part of who GA is, but just something that writers stick on to further their own agendas. And that kind of logical trickery makes me want to toss Devon's whole argument aside.

But I can't, because by the end of the essay, I agree with him about why Black Canary shouldn't have agreed to marry Green Arrow.

"...Oliver Queen tells his ex, Black Canary, the reason he wanted to become a better man so he could get her back and then, proposes to her...Black Canary proved day-in and day-out she was better off without him. He never made the choice to actively become better off without her. He never asked himself whether or not she was better off without him.

"We've all taken our own personal walks through hell, confronted personal demons and the like. We've all taken personal rolls of the dice and taken bets on ourselves. It should be done out of a fundamental belief in self. In this undertaking, one should become a better person for self, first and foremost. Not from a place of rejection. Kids, do NOT try this at home. That way lies failure."

I think I disagree that this is further evidence that Green Arrow's an a-hole, but it certainly does make him an unhealthy choice for a husband. I applaud Barbara Gordon for basically saying as much in the most recent Birds of Prey (#109). I also totally get that Black Canary -- who, in spite of Green Arrow's many faults, is still in love with him -- wouldn't be so receptive to that advice. But I love that Barbara said what needed to be said. Black Canary can't hear it now, but she'll likely remember it later when it's too late to take the advice.

There's been a lot of talk about how Green Arrow -- the Oliver Queen version anyway -- isn't on the cover of the first couple of issues of the new Green Arrow/Black Canary series. And how the solicits for the book hint vaguely at "what's happened to Green Arrow." It makes me kinda sad that I'm actually hoping something awful happens to him and that Black Canary's heart is broken quickly and soon, rather than lingeringly and after a nasty relationship that goes on for a while. They were once a nice couple, but that was when she was the type of character who could just quietly support him. She's grown and improved though since then and nowadays, I can't imagine that happening. As Devon says, she's better off without him.

Edited to add: She's better off without Green Arrow as he's currently written. As I explained here, I used to really like Green Arrow and even defended him against other critics, but the way he's been portrayed recently by Judd Winick and others makes him indefensible. I hope that changes.

Happy Frankenstein Day!

Mary Shelley was born 210 years ago today. I'll always love her for creating one of the most complex heroes in literature.

There's a heartbreaking line from Kenneth Branagh's Frankenstein that sums the Creature up beautifully and perfectly. I don't have a copy of the novel with me, and it's been a while since I've read it, but if this line isn't there verbatim, the feeling behind it certainly is.

"I do know that for the sympathy of one living being, I would make peace with all. I have love in me the likes of which you can scarcely imagine and rage the likes of which you would not believe. If I cannot satisfy the one, I will indulge the other."

Happy Birthday, Mary.

To Read: From Hell to Midnight

I've thought for a long time that "Western" is a term that applies better to a setting than a bona fide genre*. Genres come with all kinds of rules and tropes that tend to trap authors into writing the same kinds of stories over and over again. That's why a movie like Rustlers' Rhapsody (which I highly recommend, by the way) works so well. It's making fun of the tropes.

When you ignore the rules and just treat it as a setting, you move past all the cookie-cutter Westerns and end up with movies like Unforgiven. And books like From Hell to Midnight, which is a comedy in cowboy gear. According to Bookgasm, it's not a parody; it's just funny. And it includes "a protagonist who wears jodhpurs, a red polka-dot bow tie and a pith helmet." Sounds good to me.

*Incidentally, I think the same holds true to "Fantasy" and -- for me, anyway -- "Science Fiction." I'd be much more interested in Fantasy novels if they quit being about epic quests and tried telling some other kinds of stories. And I've realized in the last couple of years that I'm not at all interested in the speculative aspects of Science Fiction, but just want to read lots of different kinds of stories that just so happen to have robots, spaceships, laser guns, and aliens in them.

Wednesday, August 29, 2007

Warrior Women Wednesday

I've been keeping half-an-eye on the development of the JLA movie, but I just realized yesterday that this is the closest we're going to get to a Wonder Woman movie for a while, so maybe I'd better pay more attention. Kevin Melrose has the latest skinny, linking to the same Christian Bale interview I did about how Bale and Routh aren't likely to be in the thing, and also linking to IESB.net who debunks the rumor that the whole thing will be CGI motion-capture.

According to IESB, "it will not be an all out 'motion capture production.' Heavy motion capture will be used for the OMACs, the underwater sequences and such. So, all in all, this will be a traditionally made film with some motion capture characters, pretty much like every big fantasy movie these days." (IESB also claims that Tom Welling has been approached to play Superman, but Superman Homepage contradicts that with a statement from Smallville producer Alfred Gough who says, "Hasn't happened, won't happen, [Welling] is under contract to Smallville through season 8.")

Speaking of Super-folks, the Fortress of Fortitude has a great essay about the history of Supergirl and includes some excellent suggestions on how DC might help young girls reclaim the superheroine from creepy, old guys.

"DC can keep Kara in the Teen Titans or Legion of Super-Heroes, but they should cancel the solo title and reintroduce it as part of the revitalized Johnny DC line. Bring back Streaky, Comet and teen-age romance. Give Supergirl back to the little girls, and once again make her a character that represents everything a young one can aspire to. Not every character has to be complex, brooding and kewl."

Edited to add: Even though I like the Fortress Keeper's thoughts about what kind of Supergirl stories DC should be telling, I really don't see why they couldn't do those while still continuing to publish the current version as well. Just because Marvel Adventures: Avengers exists doesn't mean that New Avengers shouldn't. If there's a market for both, why not publish both?

Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Artist of the Day: Kaluta

MW Kaluta is not at all someone I've recently discovered. I don't remember where I first saw him, but it was a long time ago. I'm thinking it was a Tarzan illustration. Maybe for this.

Anyway, Saturday was his birthday, the news of which led me to his website. Even if you already know his stuff, the site's worth checking out for all the art he has posted. Especially the commissions.

Monday, August 27, 2007

Jesse James poster, Dean Koontz Frankenstein comic, and JLA without Bale

Kill All Monsters!-Related

The Giant Monsters Attack! blog has a profile of a new comic called Sleeping Giant. The creator describes it as "Princess Mononoke, Godzilla and Donnie Darko all mixed into one with a comedic twist." Sounds good to me.

A lovely, giant, mechanical octopus shooting lasers from some of its eyes graces the cover of the next issue of Clarkesworld Magazine.

Dust to Dust-Related

The Assassination of Jesse James has an official, new poster that you can see illustrating this post.

War

It was only a matter of time before someone decided to do a live action G.I. Joe movie. I've got slightly more interest in that as I did in a Transformers flick, if only because I think it could be done well as a relatively straightforward combat movie or political thriller. But Stephen Sommers is directing it, so that's probably not what we'll get. (Also interesting in that link is news that G.I. Joe's owner Hasbro is also interested in "possible movies based on such properties as the board games Monopoly and Battleship." I can't imagine a world in which a Monopoly movie would be good, but I may be jonesing hard enough for a big-budget combat movie that I'd go see one about Battleship.)

Horror

There's going to be a comic series based on Dean Koontz's Frankenstein. That makes me very happy in theory. As long as it's executed well.

The X-Files movie script is done and David Duchovny has read it. But he ain't talkin'.

The International Association of Media Tie-In Writers has announced the winners of the first annual Scribe Awards. Particularly cool to me is that Jeff Mariotte & Steve Niles have won the "Best Novel - Original" category for 30 Days of Night: Rumors of the Undead.

Fantasy

This isn't completely fantasy, but I've just discovered the existance of a cool blog called Strange Maps that is exactly what its title suggests. Some of the maps are of real places (only made out of, say, clothing on a bed), but most of them are of fantastic places or places that might-have-been. You could easily waste a day exploring the archives.

Science Fiction

Two artist pals of mine, Katie Cook and Grant Gould have created some Star Wars book covers for all your back-to-school, book-covering needs. I'm not even going back to school, but I'm still trying to figure out what books I can cover in these. My son starts Kindergarten this year though. Hmm.

Wonder Woman

I haven't talked much about the JLA movie here because most of what's out there about it is just rumor. Like that it's being fast-tracked and that it might be all CGI/motion-capture like Polar Express and Beowulf instead of live-action. But here's word straight from the bat's mouth that puts to rest popular speculation over whether it'll star the likes of Christian Bale and Brandon Routh as its main heroes. According to Bale, it won't.

Comic Book Resources readers are offering suggestions of things they'd like to see in Gail Simone's upcoming Wonder Woman run. Top suggestions are the return of Ferdinand the Minotaur, the return of Steve Trevor, and the inclusion of more romance in the book (with Martian Manhunter and any sort of lesbian relationship being specific suggestions).

Hulk

I'd write a detailed post exploring my fondness for the Hulk the same way I did with Wonder Woman, Black Canary, and Rogue, but really my Hulk-love can be explained in two words: Hulk smash. It doesn't go much deeper than that, although I do also love the quiet, simple moments when Hulk tries to fit in with other superheroes. This one in particular made me chuckle loudly in my cube (the lengthy set up to the moment-in-question is informative, but you don't need to read it to appreciate the gag at the bottom of the post).

Friday, August 24, 2007

Jungle Girls

Jess Hickman and I are working on another story together. It's for an anthology that I don't know if I'm allowed to talk about yet, so I'll just tease the story and let you know more about the anthology when I know it's okay.

Since I haven't found what I'm looking for in jungle adventure comics lately (though I haven't read the first issue of the new Shanna mini-series yet), I decided to write one of my own. And honestly? Getting Jess Hickman to draw it is a stroke of genius that I wish I could take complete credit for. But at least some the credit goes to the anthology's editor who knows that I love working with Jess and wondered if she might be interested in this. So I told Jess my idea and asked if she was interested.

She says I had her at "jungle girl."

You're welcome.

The Last Legion

Thursday night has been my night to hang out with the guys for I guess the last 16 years or so. Pretty much since I moved to Minnesota. For most of that time we've been a roleplaying group, but now that we've shrunk to just three people, we've been going to movies most weeks. This week we had a harder time than usual picking the movie.

Top of my list right now is The Bourne Ultimatum, but my pals have already seen it. And I wasn't that interested in the top couple of picks on their list. But even though it wasn't high on any of our lists, we were all intrigued by The Last Legion.

Not knowing anything about it except that -- like King Arthur, which I really enjoyed -- it apparently bridges Roman history with Arthurian legend, I checked out the trailer and decided that it was an action/fantasy flick rather than an historical epic. Good to know what box to put it in.

Wanting to know more, I read the IMDB Buzz on it where I learned that it was originally scheduled for release last January, but was delayed until now. According to IMDB, "the month of August is also known as the other month [January being the first one] during which studios may dump their supposed flops." They seem to think though that it is supposed to be an historical epic and compare it (unfavorably) to Kingdom of Heaven and Tristan + Isolde. Okay, so it's not supposed to be very good.

On to Rotten Tomatoes, where it's got an 18% fresh rating. Yikes! Out of curiosity, I read blurbs from the positive reviews and saw things like "Put yourself in the proper boy's-adventure mindset and The Last Legion's corny moments will just add to the charm" and "The many faults of The Last Legion give way to guilt-free popcorn thrills." Not high praise.

So, I figured, it's a bad movie, but enjoyable if that's the kind of thing you're expecting and looking forward to. And... my figuring was exactly right.

The Last Legion is horrible on so many levels. It sports a first rate cast what with Colin Firth, Ben Kingsley, and someone who I thought the whole time was the kid from Finding Neverland and Charlie and the Chocolate Factory, but actually turned out to be the kid from Love Actually. Which makes perfect sense since Colin Firth was also in Love Actually and we kept joking about how we were going to have to watch for cameos by Hugh Grant and Renée Zellweger. Alas, Hugh and Renée didn't show, but we got the kid and we got Aishwarya Rai from Bride and Prejudice, so the romantic comedy contingent was well represented. Oh, and it also has Dr. Bashir from Deep Space Nine (who's apparently back to calling himself Alexander Siddig instead of Siddig El Fadil, which he'd switched to for a while). Correction: Mel Lowery from Siddig's Official Fan Site comments below that he originally went by Siddig El Fadil and then changed it to Alexander. She would know and I bow to her expertise. I guess I remembered incorrectly, which is entirely likely.

Anyway, unlikely cast or not, I couldn't have had more fun at this thing. Yes, a hearty band of heroes appear to walk from Italy to Britain in about a week without having so much as a parcel of elvish waybread to sustain them. Yes, the acting is mostly wooden, except for Kingsley who makes up for everyone else by overacting, especially in an hilarious scene in which he hugs, kisses, and all but makes love to British soil upon his return to that country. Yes, there's a scene in which a young girl reveals a crucial plot element by pointing dramatically at the camera and announcing, "It was... it was... HIM!" (That one had my brother-in-law and I rolling and laughing almost to the point of embarrassment, but really, the only people in that theater who should've been embarrassed were on the screen.) And, yes, as my other buddy said when a fuzzily CGIed villain fell from a cliff onto the rocks below, "The special effects really aren't that special." And, yes, Rome fell to the Goths because there were apparently only about twelve guys defending it at the time. And, yes, oh my God let's not even talk about the villain who gets points for choosing to cover his face with a mask, but zero for choosing one that looks like a frickin' faun.

BUT!

If you're in the mood for a bad '80s fantasy flick in the style of Conan the Destroyer or Red Sonja (it didn't surprise me in the least to discover in the end credits that Last Legion was produced by Dino De Laurentiis; in fact, the world suddenly made a lot more sense), this is your movie. It's not Dungeons and Dragons bad. There are redeeming qualities to it. The fights aren't inspiring, but they're cool enough. And Aishwarya Rai sure is pretty. And... okay, that's about it. But damn did we ever have fun watching it.

Even if we have banned Ben Kingsley flicks now from Thursday Night Movies.

Thursday, August 23, 2007

Jesse James trailer, Jekyll DVD, and Depp as Sweeney Todd

Dust to Dust-Related

The trailer for The Assassination of Jesse James by the Coward Robert Ford has been released. I wondered before if they were going for a Legends of the Fall vibe with it and that (or Unforgiven maybe) seems to have been accurate.

David Woodbury is looking into books about Jesse's life and reports his preliminary research into which might be the best ones. I'll look forward to his eventual reviews of them.

Horror

Oh, mama!

I know at least one person reading this will be glad to know that the BBC mini-series Jekyll will be available on DVD next month. The rest of you should too though.

Science Fiction

If I'd ever known that George Lucas had once approached David Lynch about directing Return of the Jedi, I'd forgotten it. Man, what if Lynch had said, "Yes?" I'm trying to decide if that would've increased my chances of still liking the movie today.

Comics

Browsing Stupid Comics is a great way to kill a couple of hours. (Found via Tom Spurgeon.)

Artist du Jour

Pascal Campion. Further proof that Charles Raymond (from whom I've discovered three great artists in about as many days) and I have really similar tastes in art.

Wednesday, August 22, 2007

Agatha Christie comics, reading recommendations, and cool art

Charlie Chan by Alex Toth (from Hey, Oscar Wilde blog)Kill All Monsters!-Related

I wished I lived in Independence, Kentucky.

Mystery

Ooh! Agatha Christie comics! (Found via Kevin Melrose.)

Horror

Maybe I'm just in the mood for naked women, sunken treasure, wealthy villains, and undersea horror... What am I saying? I'm always in the mood for that. Sounds like Dark Gold is just the thing.

Science Fiction

Here's a very cool Planet of the Apes resource site.

Brass Goggles has an intriguing review of Starcross, the second book in the Larklight series. I'm Wish Listing the first one right now.

Art

Rather than try to categorize new artists I've learned about by some sort of arbitrary art genre, I figured I'd just start a new category. To kick it off, the whimsical drawings of Dave Perillo.

Hey, Oscar Wilde, It's Clobberin' Time is an awesome site full of various artists interpreting their favourite literary figure/author/characters. I may have linked to it a long time ago in one of its other incarnations, but it's certainly worth revisiting. It's searchable by artist and subject now which makes it an engrossing place.

Cool flickr gallery of Gil Elvgren pin-up art.

Flash! Na-ahh! (and Bulldog Drummond too)

I gave it a shot. Really I did.

In spite of pre-show publicity about wormholes instead of spaceships and how Ming was going to be all charming and stuff, I wanted to like SciFi's new Flash Gordon show. But I just don't.

I get that they're trying to reach a "modern audience" and want to make the relationships and the tech "believable." But did that have to make it so boring in the process? In the '30s serials, the premise is set up quickly: an alien invasion is coming and someone needs to stop it. Zarkov has the plan and Flash and Dale get swept up in it by happenstance. Then the rest of the series is the three of them trying to save their planet from the merciless Ming and running into all sorts of monsters and aliens in the process. It's adventure after adventure after adventure. It's the stuff that inspired freaking Star Wars.

The SciFi series adds the element that Flash's dad discovered Mongo years ago in some sort of top secret project (supposedly for NASA, but the real sponsors are a mystery). Dad's former assistant, Zarkov (at least I think he's Zarkov; two episodes in and I swear I haven't heard him called by name), teams up with Flash and Dale (Flash's ex-girlfriend who's just moved back to town as a local news reporter) to uncover the mystery and figure out what the heck's going on with all the alien sightings lately. Seems people from Mongo are starting to come to Earth to retrieve a device that belonged to Flash's dad.

Instead of giant, sexy, space opera adventure, the show is going for a cross between The X-Files and Stargate SG-1 by keeping our heroes mostly earthbound and trying to uncover conspiracies. It might not make for a bad show if it weren't Flash Gordon. And if we hadn't seen the same type of story done better already in other shows. I mean, it's Flash Freaking Gordon! I want to see him teaming up with the Lion Men to fight the Shark Men! I want him to kill giant monsters, escape deadly traps, and battle in alien gladitorial arenas! What's with this lame ass skulking around at night trying to open a wormhole to Mongo while keeping the aliens' presence on earth quiet?

I've given it two episodes; I'm not giving it any more. Someone let me know if it gets better and I need to check out the DVDs someday.

And speaking of series I'm getting tired of, I'm about done with John Howard's Bulldog Drummond movies. They're pretty harmless and disposable at only an hour in length each, but having every movie be about Drummond's wedding getting interrupted by a sudden, unavoidable adventure has snapped my suspension of disbelief right in two.

I also don't understand why Scotland Yard keeps trying to actively keep Drummond away from cases when he's always right about them, nor why the Colonel so objects to being called "Inspector." I much prefer the ones I watched first where the Colonel and Drummond are on good terms, with the Colonel going so far as to call Drummond in as a sort of consultant on cases that the Yard was having a problem with.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Happy Birthday, Christopher Robin

Today would've been Christopher Robin Milne's 87th birthday. He passed away in 1996.

Like Blue Sky Disney, I like to imagine that candles are being blown out and presents are being given today at a party outside a hollow tree in the Hundred Acre Wood.

Fiona

I had a huge crush on Gabrielle Anwar after seeing her in The Three Musketeers and For Love or Money in the early '90s, but I lost track of her after that. When she popped up on Burn Notice, I recognized her name, but barely the actress. In the '90s she was all fresh-faced and girl-next-door. Obviously she's matured in the last fifteen years, but on Burn Notice -- although she's still hot -- she looks worn and haggard. Like she's had a rough life.

Which, of course, she has. Or her character has, I mean.

I didn't like Fiona for a while. Like most of the other characters on the show, she seemed placed there merely to give Michael a hard time. She felt like a generic ex-girlfriend who could still fit in with the show because she also had a similarly shady past. But as the show's gone on, I'm loving her more and more.

Lately she's been pressuring Michael to talk about their relationship. That could get annoying fast, but it hasn't been thanks to the writing and Gabrielle's acting. Oh, she's nagging him, but underneath that is the knowledge that she's a fiesty, former IRA-member who could not only kill Michael thirty-five different ways, she'd do it while eating an ice-cream cone and listening to her iPod. Fi's got a streak in her that may not be sadistic, but it's close to sociopathic. Gabrielle plays her very calmly and dispassionately, but with a sad loneliness that's beautifully painful to watch.

It's like Fi knows that she's in a dark place and she's pretty much okay with that, except that she likes the way Michael makes her feel. I don't get the feeling that she wants Michael to "redeem" her or anything. He seems unequipped to do that even if she did. It's just that she loves the guy, so she flirts and teases and nags and tests, because Michael can't get past how bad their relationship was last time. But because she's so nearly unhinged, her nagging and testing carry a huge sense of danger with them. In last week's episode, she put Michael in harm's way a couple of times just to see if he'd support her.

Since he's Michael though, he can handle himself in those situations, so you never get angry with her. That's why they're such a hot couple. They'd totally kill anyone else they'd ever try a relationship with, which is why they're both so lonely. But they can survive each other. They're the only people in the world who they can survive. If only Michael would realize it.

Their relationship will always be rocky though. Michael's right to be nervous about her. Fi is to Burn Notice what Wolverine is to X-Men. She's unpredictable and deadly. Michael can take care of himself, but Fi is a monster in the way she deals with opponents. Michael's badass, but Fi's fifty times more. As capable as he is, Fi's the one he calls in when he needs super-muscle. It's a really good thing that she's so fiercely loyal to him. I'd be worried about his eventually pissing her off and making an enemy of her, but that's not the way things are going. Michael obviously cares about her and is loyal to her too; he's just not sure he can go where she wants him to romantically.

The result is a fascinating relationship between two characters I absolutely love. I started watching the show for Bruce Campbell (and he's great, don't get me wrong), but Fi's my new favorite. Not just on Burn Notice, but in genre fiction in general.

Monday, August 20, 2007

Cthulhu Day and Wonder Woman links

Today is H.P. Lovecraft's birthday, so Happy Cthulhu day. He would've been 117. In today's Writers Almanac, Garrison Keillor notes that it's also the 30th anniversary of a day that Lovecraft would have shuddered at the thought of: when Voyager 2 was launched by NASA to explore the planets of our solar system.

Other than that, I gots lots of Wonder Woman links for you today as I continue catching up on comics news:

At San Diego Comic-Con, Smallville producers Alfred Gough and Miles Millar reiterated that they still can't use Batman on the show, though they ask if they can use Wonder Woman every year.

"Ladies, if you are sporting a Wonder Woman Cuff Bracelet, you will be more attractive to nerds. It’s as simple as that."

Rumor has it that DC's planning a Wonder Woman animated movie.

Speaking of rumors, it sounded for a while there like Katie Holmes may have been bucking to play the Amazon on the big screen, but we seem to have dodged deflected that bullet.

Roberto Campus has a cool, how-to-draw Wonder Woman tutorial.

Gail Simone's highly anticipated run on the Wonder Woman comic has been delayed a month in order to give artist Terry Dodson a running start at it.

And let's finish with some video of both Lynda Carter and Debra Winger doing the Wonder Woman spin.

Friday, August 17, 2007

"I find your lack of pants disturbing."

Stolen from I've totally forgotten where. Probably the Star Wars blog.

Jonny Quest movie, Shang Chi versus a shark, and how to write comics the Hitchcock way

Adventure

There's a live-action Jonny Quest movie in the works and it's producers have high -- very high -- hopes for it. They're calling it "our Pirates. Our Transformers." They're also saying, "We always knew we wanted to do an origin movie about how Race and Hadji came to join the Quest family ... As for tone, this isn't going to be some kiddie movie. Our model is Raiders..."

Swashbuckling

Moonstone's adding to their prose anthology library with a Zorro volume.

Pulp

My friend Joe sent me this link to Pulp Fiction Central, an excellent pulp resource site.

Horror

Ooh! More Frazetta comics are coming and they sound really good!

Also, more Necromancer coming! Yay, Josh Ortega!

Fantasy

I wouldn't call him a Fantasy Artist per se, but I've just discovered Dean Yeagle's humorously sexy work and this is the closest category I can think of to put him in.

Super-Heroes

DC is redoing its line of kids' comic and, man, it's looks cool.

Shang Chi versus a shark. (One of these days I'm going to have to get in on this whole Friday Night Fights action.)

Writing is Hard

Here's a really excellent article on building suspense the Hitchcock way. It's written for screenwriters, naturally, but applies equally well to comics writers and possibly even writers of prose.

About a year ago I wrote this post on branding that was inspired by a conversation I'd had with Caleb Monroe, another writer. Caleb's added some thoughts on the subject in his own blog. I'm especially interested in his idea about wearing the same hat to every convention and how that got him recognized. My pal Joe (same one from above) made the same suggestion in the comments of my post, so this got me thinking. Where that thinking eventually led though was to the idea that with my size, my long hair, and my white-red beard, I'm a fairly recognizable figure without any headgear. My appearance is my logo. Now I just have to make sure not to taint the brand with bad stories or boneheaded behavior.

Also in Caleb's post is a link to an article on branding by Warren Ellis in which Ellis doesn't give Neil Gaiman nearly enough credit, but does note that if you're good enough at what you do, your name is logo enough.

Thursday, August 16, 2007

More Wizard World

A couple of pictures Jess and Grant took at Wizard World Chicago.

Me taking a picture of Grant taking a picture of me.

"Is it hot in here, or is it just May?"

Giant Robot Warriors, Poe's visitor, and the Treasure of Constantinople

Kill All Monsters!-Related

I got my Amazon confirmation that Monster Attack Network is on its way. Which reminds me that I also need to check out Stuart Moore and Ryan Kelly's GRW: Giant Robot Warriors from AiT/PlanetLar.

Dust to Dust-Related

Northfield, Minnesota is kicking off its Defeat of Jesse James Days. The official festival isn't until September 6-9, but they have Royalty coronations this weekend and there was a hogroast last night to get things started.

Adventure

Delilah Dirk and the Treasure of Constantinople looks and sounds wonderful. (Thanks to Kevin Melrose for the link.)

Jungle

I'm always up for a new Jungle Book movie.

Horror

RKO is probably my favorite movie studio of all time, so I'm really hoping the revitalization effort works for them. A remake of Karloff's Isle of the Dead sounds like a good place to start. It's nostalgic, but offbeat.

I hate that I'm such a slow reader. Otherwise I'd be all caught up on the 30 Days of Night novels. Especially this one about my favorite 3o Days character Dane. Fortunately, Rod Lott is much faster and has the review.

The mysterious visitor to Edgar Allen Poe's grave has been revealed. Anticlimactically, unfortunately.

Fantasy

Frank Beddor's Looking Glass Wars is an exciting, fast-moving alternate take on the Alice in Wonderland story and I loved it. The sequel, Seeing Redd, comes out next week.

Thanks to Charles Raymond for directing me to artist Sarah Mensinga's wonderful work.

Stuff Nobody Cares About But Me

My son was absolutely freaked out by the scene in Ratatouille where Remy's dad takes him to the gruesome window of a rat-trap shop. We had to leave right after that. Good thing we're not planning a trip to Paris soon, because that shop is real.

I got a very nice email today from First Second about my latest review of one of their books. I didn't ask, but hopefully they won't mind me sharing this nice compliment: "You’re always seeing to the heart of the books we put out, and that’s such a fantastic thing." I love that.

Wednesday, August 15, 2007

Robot and Monster links

I'm still catching up, but here's a mess of links about giant monsters and giant robots. And at least one about a giant robot monster.

Las Vegas Weekly and Johnny Bacardi review Monster Attack Network. Even though I've seen it in comics shops, Amazon tells me that my copy is still on pre-order. As soon as I get it though, I'll tell you what I think.

My review of Frankenstein Conquers the World: it's crap. Blogcritics gives it considerably more thought. They also review The Giant Behemoth.

How I mourn that Hammer never made this Zeppelin v. Pterodactyls film.

If you've got a limerick about giant monsters lying around, now's the time to use it. And you can win yourself a copy of Daikaiju! 2: Revenge of the Giant Monsters.

I'm sure you've heard about the live-action Voltron film in the works, but just in case...

How's about some giant monster-inspired music?

They don't exist yet, but Germany's planning to create a bunch of giant, robot beetles to fight forest fires. I can't wait until they go crazy and start menacing campers.

And now, the moment you've all been waiting for: Mytek the Mighty, the underwater giant robot gorilla.

Kill All Monsters!: The Vacuum Cleaner Commercial. See the giant robot housewife battle the enormous, shambling dirt heap!

Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Jekyll (sort of)

I'm leaving for WizardWorld Chicago early on Thursday and tomorrow will be spent getting ready for it. Today was spent trying to stay on top of work so that I can leave with a clean desk. All of which means: lame post today.

Last night we watched the premiere of Jekyll. I'm not gonna review it except to say that it was mesmerizing. If you want a real review, check out SFScope. They give a nice summary of the episode and point out all the things I liked about the show. Especially that quote at the end about murder being like sex.

And looking at my links file, I guess I should mention that "Monstrous" apparently isn't so much the name of the J.J. Abrams giant-monster movie as it is a tag line for it. Other versions of the poster are rumored to exist with tag lines like "Colossus" and "Terrifying." Oh, well.

I'll be back online on Tuesday. See you then!

Monday, August 06, 2007

Dick Tracy (1937)

I managed to finish the first Dick Tracy serial while I was on vacation. Not easy.

I'm not familiar with Dick Tracy except for the Warren Beatty movie, but I don't hold that against the character. It was just a bad Batman rip-off. I should probably have introduced myself to the character via the original strips, because this 15-chapter serial wasn't much better than Beatty's version.

It's played mostly straight with Dick Tracy as an FBI agent trying to break a crime organization called the Spider Ring. The Spider Ring is led by a mysterious figure called The Lame One, whom everyone fears in spite of the fact that he's mostly helpless. The Lame One employs a mad doctor named Moloch, but he's mostly there to be hunchbacked and sinister-looking. His one accomplishment is to medically turn Dick Tracy's brother Gordon evil; it's Gordon who becomes the real threat throughout the serial, leading most of the capers and trying to kill Dick.

Even though they're silly though, The Lame One and Moloch do help create an atmosphere of weirdness around the story, and Gordon Tracy is as deadly as serial villains are allowed to be (seeing as how they have to keep getting defeated episode after episode). As I understand it, that's the charm of the concept: straightforward detective stories with an air of weirdness created by grotesque villains. So I guess it succeeds on that level.

What I didn't care for about it was its episodic nature. That might be a weird criticism for a movie serial, but what I mean is that every episode or two has Dick Tracy uncovering (usually by sheer accident and coincidence) a new Spider scheme and shutting it down. That keeps the story going for fourteen episodes until Tracy finally decides to do some real investigating and talks to some eye witnesses to events that happened way back in the first episode. After that, it's pretty easy for him to locate the Spider Ring's headquarters, swoop in, and break up the organization.

Dumb.

I'll try a couple more to see if they get better though. Ralph Byrd is really friendly and likeable, as is the whole supporting cast. If the stories improve, it could be a neat series.

Bulldog Drummond

I've been checking out Bulldog Drummond lately. So far I've seen three of the movies from the '30s (Bulldog Drummond at Bay, Bulldog Drummond's Revenge, and Bulldog Drummond Comes Back) and the '60s revival/attempt to cash in on the Bond craze, Deadlier Than the Male.

The '30s films can be confusing. There's a buttload of them and only a handful are available on DVD. Bulldog Drummond at Bay (the 1937 version; the title was re-used in 1947) was the earliest I could find and stars John Lodge as the retired, British WWI captain who lives in a remote castle and constantly gets caught up in adventures. Lodge is a rugged, likeable, manly man who lives with a dog and an elderly maid. It's easy to see how his character may have influenced James Bond. In At Bay, he accidentally gets mixed up with foreign agents who are trying to steal plans for an experimental airplane. It's a short (about an hour long), uncomplicated adventure, made enjoyable by Lodge's performance.

The next film in the series though, Bulldog Drummond's Revenge, stars John Howard (Lost Horizon) as a considerably more dashing Drummond. Without any thought to continuity, Howard's Drummond begins the movie engaged to a woman who wants him to give up his adventurous life and the plot centers around his inability to do that. What's especially interesting is that top billing for the film doesn't go to Howard, but to John Barrymore (Drew's grandfather) as Drummond's former colonel who now works for Scotland Yard and acts as a sort of unwilling "M" to Drummond's Bond. In both Revenge (which doesn't actually feature any) and its follow-up, Bulldog Drummond Comes Back, Drummond is a joking, swashbuckling character. Very different from Lodge's version, but likeable in his own way. His adventures seem to center around trying to get married, but constantly being thwarted in the attempt by the constant appearance of mysteries in need of solving.

Comes Back also stars Howard and Barrymore, as well as the rest of Revenge's supporting cast. Louise Campbell plays Drummond's fiancé, E.E. Clive plays his faithful manservant Tenny, and Reginald Denny is Drummond's cowardly, comical, best friend Algy. Barrymore and Campbell stuck with the series for only one more film after this one, but Howard, Clive, and Denny lasted for a while, so I guess this was a popular version.

Comes Back is based on the Drummond novel The Female of the Species, which also serves as inspiration for the 1967 film Deadlier Than the Male (the title of Female of the Species comes from a Kipling poem "The Female of the Species," which includes the line: "The female of the species must be deadlier than the male."). In Comes Back, Drummond is plagued by friends of a criminal named Carl Peterson whom Drummond helped put away. In Deadlier Than the Male, Peterson is the main villain, though he remains behind-the-scenes for most of the film, letting his hot, female assassins do his dirty work for him.

As '60s Bond rip-offs go, Deadlier Than the Male gets off to a good start. The plot is introduced slowly and in a round-about way that makes you pay attention, there are some interesting, but not outlandish gadgets, and the women are gorgeous and competent. Richard Johnson is a good Drummond. My wife pointed out that he had Greg Brady's eyes and that made him hard to buy as dangerous at first, but then I noticed that he also had a Timothy Dalton quality to him whenever he was pissed off. Most folks don't like Dalton as Bond, but the comparison is a compliment coming from me. The only thing I didn't like about Johnson's Drummond is that he's an insurance investigator of all things. It gets him involved in a pretty brutal plot, but he seems really overqualified for the job.

Instead of Algy (who was also in Bulldog Drummond at Bay, though not played by Reginald Denny), we get Drummond's nephew Robert who's still comical, but not as exaggeratedly cowardly as Algy. It's actually a good trade.

But even though it starts off okay, the last third of the movie gets silly. It's like they realized there were still some big Bond elements they hadn't included yet and decided to hurry up and toss them in. So we get a pointless make-out scene between Drummond and the lead assassin and a stupid sequence in which Drummond and Peterson do battle with a giant chess set. And Peterson makes all the dumb, Bond-villain mistakes, but unfortunately doesn't have the charisma that most Bond villains do to distract us.

I'm not sure that I'm intrigued enough to track down the original novels, but I'm definitely up for more of the movies. And Moonstone did a comics adaptation a while back by William Messner Loebs and Bill Bryan. I'd love to see if I can get my hands on that. Knowing Moonstone, it'll be the most faithful to the feel of the books without having to actually read them. If I like that, I'll be more inclined to start hitting the bookstores.

Saturday, August 04, 2007

We're okay

Hadn't planned on posting until Monday, but what with the bridge and all, I figured I should let everyone know that we're okay (having been out of the state all week until a couple of hours ago) and all our friends and family are okay. But there are a lot of folks who aren't and my heart goes out to them. Sorry if anyone was worried by the silence.

I'm not on my usual computer and can't remember my LiveJournal password to save my life, but I'll throw a message up there too when I'm able.

LinkWithin

Related Posts with Thumbnails