Wednesday, June 29, 2011

"Mission Impossible: Ghost Protocol" trailer

So they're making another one of these, I guess. And it's directed by...Brad Bird?!

Yes, apparently this is Brad Bird's first attempt at a live action feature. Anyone who's seen his Pixar films (which I assume is all of you and then some), or his criminally underrated The Iron Giant, knows he can definitely tell a good story (he also wrote the even more underrated *batteries not included, but didn't direct it). Unfortunately, he didn't write this one. In fact, J.J. Abrams apparently stuck around after the last one to help with the script, and brought his Alias writing staff with him. Although Roberto Orci & Alex Kurtzmen are nowhere to be seen, which is always a plus.

This will definitely be interesting to see Bird test his range as a director. Many directors tend to sink when they stray from their well-trodden path into unfamiliar ground. Martin Campbell, a director mostly known for action pieces using old school stunt-work and on-location shooting, tried that just weeks ago with Green Lantern, a film that was roughly 78% shot on green screen, and look how that worked out. Let us hope Bird is a little more adaptable.

The trailer doesn't look terribly promising. Pretty standard rehash of the Mission: Impossible formula. Definitely hating the music: a hip hop song followed by a scant few cords of the Mission: Impossible theme? What the hell? The cast is fine: Paula Patton as the obligatory hot chick (this is her first big blockbuster film to my knowledge, so only time will tell if this is her breakout role into the mainstream), Simon Pegg (who seems to be appearing in more & more action oriented roles lately) as presumably the comic relief, and Tom Wilkinson, always good.

Not to doubt the great Brad Bird, but somehow I don't see this being a hit. The studio clearly isn't banking on it, considering they gave a December release date to a film clearly made for the Summer. Plus, it's the fourth in a franchise, and I highly doubt we're going to get two good post-trilogy sequels in one year. Though admittedly I did like the second one a lot more than most people, so maybe it'll be this year's guilty pleasure for me.

Monday, June 27, 2011

The NEW Justice League

So they tell me this will be the new post-reboot Justice League. I remain unimpressed.I'm hoping that the theory that this is just DC's version of Heroes Reborn is correct, and everything will be back to normal in a matter of months, because nothing about what we know so far has convinced me this is a good idea. Supplying continuity-free versions of your flagship characters to attract new readers is great. Abandoning your existing readers in the process is not great.

Though looking at this picture makes me pretty confident this won't stay around very long, because nothing about it screams "timeless" to me, it screams "we're still stuck in the 90's". My first beef with it it more of a personal one, admittedly: It's a Jim Lee illustration. Yes, he's a good artist, but somehow his work just rubs me the wrong way. His facial features are always too sharp and angular for my taste (meaning he has the exact opposite problem of Ed McGuinness) and I've never liked how short he tends to draw Batman's ears (though they are longer here than normal for him).

But the main problem with these designs it that they have the same problem most comic book art had in the 90's: TOO MUCH DETAIL. Remember that godawful redesign Ant-man got in Heroes Reborn? Same basic problem. Lines, creases, all the extra surface detailing they could think of has been added, presumably to make there costumes more "realistic" (though someone needs to explain the realism in Superman wearing armor). Cyborg is the worst offender, drawn in that godawful post-Bayformers style. Apparently all robots/cyborgs by law must now be cluttered up with a ton of useless little metal bits just kinda hanging off of him. The old rule of less is more goes double for character designing. They less detail you use the more memorable the design is.

Also Wonder Woman's redesign is apparently staying. Honestly I could live with her having pants it it weren't for all the black. No matter how much more "modest" her costume gets, replacing the blue and gold of her costume with black and silver is just plain wrong. It removes any of the regal nature of the character's aesthetics. And where the hell are the stars?

Flash, Green Lantern & Aquaman are OK, design-wise, and Batman's looked worse. Although in redesigning the Big Two, it seems like the editorial mandate was "lose the jock straps." I guess they were sick of everyone making "underwear on the outside" jokes. It really bugs me when comic book companies do this kind've thing in response to old wisecracks, it just comes off as immature. Remember in the 60's when they brought the first Batwoman & Batgirl in as Batman & Robin's girlfriends solely to stop the gay jokes?

Plus, changing Superman's costume, even in the slightest, is never gonna stick. It's just won't. He has BY FAR the most iconic costume in the history of fiction. Even Batman & Spider-man have more freedom. Batman's chest emblem is almost constantly changing, Spider-man goes back and forth on the underarm webbing, etc. Superman is constant. No costume change ever sticks with him. Even people who've never picked up a comic book in their lives know every detail of his costume by heart. Hell, the man can't even get a new haircut without people noticing (though to be fair, the ponytail with a product of it's time).

We can't see enough of the rest of the characters to comment on their costumes: There's Deadman (interesting choice), Green Arrow, the Atom, Hawkman, someone I'm told is called Element Woman (I haven't been reading Flashpoint), A blonde who could be either Power Girl or Black Canary (it's not clear from the headshot), Firestorm, and Mera. This being a reboot, it looks like Firestorm is a white guy again, score one for equality. Though it is interesting that Aquaman AND his wife are now fellow league members together. Not thrilled at Hawkman showing up without Hawkgirl though. I mean, by the very nature of their backstory I've always felt they should be a package deal, but whatever.

Oh well, here's to the safe return of our continuity very soon (please don't let this be permanent, please don't let this be permanent...).

Sunday, June 26, 2011

The Geek Chorus #2: Who Reviews the Reviewers?

"Quis custodiet ipsos custodes?"

The Latin phrase meaning "who guards the guards themselves" or more commonly translated as "who watches the watchemen" thanks to some graphic novel in the 80's no one remembers.

I'm certainly not the first person to do a bad takeoff of the famous phrase and I certainly won't be the last. I bring it up only because I think people tend to take the wrong message away from this saying sometimes, or at least different from what I take away.

Saturday, June 25, 2011

Celebrate "The Rocketeer's" 20th Anniversary

Tuesday was one year to the day that The Rocketeer was released, a fun little pulp superhero movie that sadly gets overlooked too often. If you haven't seen it, you probably should, if for no other reason than to quell any reservations you might have about the new Captain America film (they have the same director, don't 'cha know?). It included, among other goodies, Nazi fighting (always a plus), Timothy Dalton playing an evil Errol Flynn parody (Flynn was rumored to be a nazi sympathizer, they do a take off on that), and the ever-ageless Jennifer Connelly at the sexiest she gets with her clothes on (yum yum).

Anyway, being a cult item the film is not without it's diehard fans, and talented ones at that, as evidenced by this animated fan film that's been circling the net. Check it out after the jump.

The Rocketeer 20th anniversary from John Banana on Vimeo.

Thursday, June 23, 2011

The Lunatic Fringe: The Usual Suspects

On the two year anniversary of the show, The Lunatic Fringe gets a brand new start with this look at Bryan Singer's The Usual Suspects.

PLEASE NOTE: A lot of my fellow reviewers went out of their way to provide cameo footage for this anniversary episode. All their efforts are greatly appreciated, and it pains me to inform them that none of it is featured here. This is due to two reasons 1) Time. I simply didn't have time to complete the entire video, skits and all, by the due date I set for myself, and 2) On the advice of a friend I have decided to cut back on cameos, in-jokes, skits, and other material in order to make the show more accessible to new viewers and focus on my strengths as a writer and performer. However, I do plan to complete the full video, cameos included, and release it at a later date. I offer my thanks to all those who contributed and my assurances that their efforts will not go in vain. Stay tuned.

Saturday, June 18, 2011

Anarchy at the Movies: Green Lantern

A great light has gone out in the's the fans' hopes for a good Green Lantern movie.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

Hope for Green Lantern?

Yes, the CGI looks like shit. I think at this point it's an accepted fact at this point that this, like The Incredible Hulk, was rushed out and will enter theaters looking unpolished at best. In this era of CGI over-saturation that happens more than it should, but hey, what're ya gonna do?

Nonetheless, this clip gives me hope, mainly because it seems that the film is getting a lot of the important stuff right. For one thing, it's well-shot, bad CGI not withstanding. You can clearly see everything that's happening, which shouldn't be a big deal, but it is. The shots are steady and at a good distance, the editing is natural and un-intrusive. Even in the good action movies these days, I'm sick of wanting to reach out and steady the damn camera myself. Not really surprising in retrospect. Martin Campbell did direct three of my favorite action films of the last few decades (GoldenEye, The Mask of Zorro, and Casino Royale).

But the thing that really excites me is that it actually feels like the way a Green Lantern fight scene should. If you've ever read the Green Lantern comics, you've probably given yourself a headache trying to picture any of it playing out in live action. Every other panel the rings produce a different shape or item. Even the Justice League animated series struggled with this, which is why they gave Jon Stewart a more no-nonsense tough guy attitude, not prone to complicated and elaborate constructs. Mostly he just used the ring to fly, shoot lasers and erect force fields. Later in the series he would flex his creative muscles and give us the occasional giant drill or set of fists, but that was about it.

Compare that to this. In the space of less than a minute, Hal Jordan pulls out no less than four different constructs. Jon Stewart would've just blocked the flaming Parallax lugie with a force field, threw the truck with a simple tractor beam, then shot it with a laser blast. Not Hal. Catapults, springs, gun turrets, that's the way a Green Lantern handles things. This shows a real grasp of and respect for the source material. Fingers crossed folks. This could be a good one.

Wednesday, June 8, 2011

Anarchy at the Movies: X-Men First Class

It took them five tries, but the finally got it right...for the most part.