Thursday, February 28, 2008

Finally Found the New Frontier

Picking up the kids yesterday and made a detour to the mall to check for The New Frontier, again. I managed to strike gold at Wal-Mart this time, apparently missing the two-disc edition when I was there two days ago. Maybe I was in a bit of a rush and missed it since I scooted over there on my coffee brake from work, but the important thing is I now have it, I have watched it, am listening to the audio commentary as I write this and I have the day off so I'm going to explore the discs and maybe watch one of the movies my friend Dale lent me that I have yet to get to.

But I digress.

The film itself was pretty good. It sticks incredibly close to the graphic novel by Darwyn Cooke with very few points where they left the source material totally behind. Design-wise, the art direction is incredible with the period of the 1950s in the United States being represented beautifully, both in background sets and clothing. The script, as I mentioned before, stayed as close to the book as possible and had Darwyn's stamp of approval with some bits actually written by the man himself.

In particular, there's a scene with Lois and Superman shortly after Superman has his discussion with Diana in Indo-China, and they're sitting on the Daily Planet globe talking about the state of America and McCarthyism. It was added to throw some exposition in that would help round out the period, helped justify expanding Lois' role in the film and, like I said, was added by the original creator himself so it carries a litlle added extra weight.

The voice cast was incredible with David Boreanaz doing a wonderful turn as Hal Jordan/Green Lantern, Lucy Lawless is just the painfully obvious choice for Wonder Woman, Brooke Shields and Kyra Sedgewick do a surprisingly good Carol Ferris and Lois Lane, respectively, and Neil Patrick Harris is a surprising but inspired choice as Barry Allen/The Flash. And that's not the whole cast, by a long shot. I suppose Miguel Ferrer should get some props for his Martian Manhunter and while Darwyn loves Jeremy Sisto as Batman, I'm still wrapping my head around it, so I'm just going to leave it at that.

One of the things that really stood out for me on the picture was the animation used on The Flash and how he was written. I've never been happy with how the character is portrayed while running in TV or animation prior to this, but the guys who put this movie together got it absolutely right. The guy is the fastest man alive, he can circle the world 7 times in the space of a blink, you shouldn't see his arms and legs moving while he runs, not unless he's running a little slower, anyway. He should just be a blur and be able to do things you can't even see on-screen, and that's how he was here. When Captain Cold asks why his cold gun doesn't work and Barry says, "I rewired it on the way down," I was thrilled that someone finally got it right.

I'm not sure why Warners holds these movies to a 75 minute running time because New Frontier would have been so much better with another 5, 10 or 15 minutes of story added in. Seeing young Hal Jordan, The Losers on Dinosaur Island and, while I understand how the John Wilson story does little to advance the plot, it would have been nice to see it play out as more than a news bite in the middle of the film. Or even leaving some of that stuff out and just fleshing out some of the details at the end. The climactic ending, to me, did feel a bit rushed and was not as satisfying as the finale in the book. There are a lot of dialogue-less moments in the movie, and probably just as many slow cuts as quick ones, but I'm the kind of guy who likes to linger on characters and events to let them soak in a bit.

Still, these are minor nitpicks since a person could always go back to the source material if they really wanted to get some of that extra texture, and as a living, moving representation of the graphic novel goes, The New Frontier hits so many of the right notes that it is hard to complain about too much of it. My wish is that, because of the book it was based on, they would have done this movie a la Batman: Mask of the Phantasm and gave it a longer running time and a theatrical release, but you gotta take what you can get, where you can get it, right? And, really, I'm still viewing it as money well spent and that's before I've had a chance to scour through the special features and documentaries, so that should speak volumes to anyone who knows me.

All this Darwyn chatter is making me want to resurrect an old interview that I conducted with the man but never saw print in its full form. A segment of it was published as an article in my University newspaper which I've since posted on my website, if you care to check it out.

I remember calling Darwyn afterwards and wanting to do another interview that I would blend with the old one since it never saw print and I always felt bad about that. After making the request, though, he said, "What do you mean, I read the article already?" Somehow, he managed to get a copy of The Sheaf (through a friend, I think) checked out the piece and liked it, so I felt a little better about that, but I still always wished that I got the whole interview in print.

I'm going to see if I can dig it up, find out how much of it was transcribed and how much work it might be to post it on the blog.

Anyway, the second commentary track is almost done so I'm going to sign off here for the time being, grab some breakfast, take it easy.

Oh, and if you haven't been inspired to go out and check out The New Frontier yet, go do it. I urge you to do so.

Later!

mike

Tuesday, February 26, 2008

Missing the New Frontier

The DVD pictured at right is the new original DC Animated film, Justice League: The New Frontier, based on the comic book of the same name created by uber-talent, Darwyn Cooke. I've been waiting months and months for this puppy to come out. I loved the comic book and when I heard that they were going to make it an animated film, my brain lit up with the possibilities. I will also go out on a limb and admit that part of my motivation for going out and buying the Superman: Doomsday disc when it came out (the first DC original animated movie) was to see the New Frontier preview that was included there as a special feature, so you can maybe see how I'm kind of jazzed about this whole thing.

My only problem is that Warners put out two versions of the DVD - a single-disc and a two-disc special edition - and I can't seem to find the two-disc version anywhere nearby. I hit the local Future Shop, as well as the Wal-Mart (which can usually be depended on to carry stuff like this), and neither have the DVD I want. It's enough cash that I'm not willing to buy the single-disc just to watch it but it's torture to think that I won't be able to see the film until I track one down.

Curse my 9 to 5 workday.

Maybe I'll take my thursday off and scour the city for this elusive Objet de mon d├ęsir.

Until then, I can only hope that my copy of 30 Days of Night will keep me occupied for the next couple of days.

Later!

mike

Saturday, February 23, 2008

I Actually Picked Up Some New Comics!!!

It's been a while since I've been to the LCS and possibly even longer since I've done a proper review segment on the blog so, since I've remedied the one, I'll get to remedying the other right now...

Fantastic Four #554: When I heard that Bryan Hitch and Mark Millar were taking over the World's Greatest Heroes, I think my reaction resembled a rousing "woo-hoo!" I think the last time I'd been tempted to pick up the FF's monthly book was when Carlos Pacheco was doing the book. Since then, I've resorted to grabbing issues of the Ultimate FF to get my FF fix since nobody else was writing the series in the way it was meant to be done, with the four heroes tackling fantastic cosmic problems, straddling inner and outer space, and behaving like a family, warts and all, throughout their adventures.

After reading #554, I'm seeing some of those elements come into play, but I found the issue overall to be a bit of a bore. I'm not one to shy away from the group just hanging around and doing nothing, as long as what they're doing is somewhat interesting, but the set-up that we are made to endure in this issue is kind of tiresome and the action bits at the beginning to give you a bit of an adrenaline boost before the real doldrums begin fall somewhat short of exciting.

As for Hitch's artwork, I've seen better from the guy. I don't know if it's the format or Neary's inks or what, but I just didn't feel the magic here.

Also, as a sidebar, I'm not sure I really enjoy the post Civil War Marvel U, so watching Millar try and pull off a 'reconciliation', as he puts it, doesn't hold a lot of interest for me at this point. We'll see how it goes.

I'm not too sure I'm going to stick with the title through the whole Millar/Hitch year, but my curiosity is enough to keep me onboard for at least three or four more issues.

Star Wars: Dark Times #5-6: Part of getting back to the LCS was catching up on titles I'd sort of left behind in the middle of a storyline, like Star Wars: Dark Times. Grabbing #5, the end to the "Path to Nowhere" storyline, and #6, the beginning of the "Parallels" story, I was reminded why this was the only Star Wars book that I would not only pick up regularly, but go out of my way to obtain it.

For those of you who may not know the concept, Dark Times covers that period of Star Wars history post Episode III. In fact, in some cases, it actually picks up immediately after Order 66 is invoked to chronicle what happens to several Jedi not covered by the film (it had to be assumed that not all of the Jedi were wiped out by the Clones). The first 5 issues were great reading with amazing artwork by the talented Doug Wheatley and concluded with a truly heartbreaking ending that fit the series' title to a T. I've just begun the next arc which starts with a bunch of Jedi and younglings being wiped out by Clone Troopers, so I'm assuming that it doesn't appear to promise any lighter fare for the forseeable future.

Still, as editor Randy Stradley comments in the lettercol, perhaps stories like this will show people what happy ending A New Hope really was and just how tough the interim period of the Star Wars saga is.

I'm wondering what the live-action TV series will look like in comparison.

That's it for now, I suppose. I still have a lot to run down so I'll hopefully be back with more soon.

Later!

mike

Sunday, February 17, 2008

John Alvin, R.I.P.

I was surprised to find out about the passing of artist, John Alvin, the other day. Part of the reason for that was just the sheer shock at yet another death in the industry following so closely on that of Roy Scheider and Steve Gerber, but also because I was literally just watching him talking on the Blade Runner Ultimate Edition DVD and he seemed perfectly fine. I guess you can never really see a heart attack coming, but to turn around and hear of his passing was just a little shocking.

StarWars.com has a nice tribute done up for him that also showcases some of his work. If you have any interest in the man or his work, I'd urge you to pop over and check it out.

Later!

mike

Saturday, February 16, 2008

Untitled Bill & Ted Project

There's not much information on it here, but those 5 words have filled me with a small ember of hope that the Bill & Ted in their 40s story that Alex Winter and Keanu Reeves talk about every now and then is an actual possibility.

Knock on wood.

mike

Thursday, February 14, 2008

First Day Back in the World

Today was my first day back at work which was all right, all things considered. My lungs have had better days, that's for certain, but overall it was pretty low key with not too many customers and very low expectations. I basically puttered most of the day away and got used to being back in the world, as it were. It was a little more tiring than I anticipated and the dust and grit floating around in the air at work didn't help with the coughing at all, but it's good to be making some cash again. I think I've only missed 3 or 4 actual days of work so I won't feel it too terribly hard on the old paycheque, but any more time off and I think things would start to hurt a bit monetarily.

Not a bad start. I just hope my reacclimation period isn't too long.

I'm sure I'll update the situation later.

mike

Wednesday, February 13, 2008

Mad Rage

I just spent 2 freakin' hours at the minor emergency clinic to get a doctor's note confirming that, yes, I did have pneumonia and I wasn't just faking work out. I waited an hour in the waiting room and then an hour in the examination room for about a minute and a half of the doctor's time.

If I didn't have some X-Files to watch right now, I'd probably be out on a mad rampage with my cat somewhere.

Later!

mike

More Sad News

Steve Gerber, creator of Howard the Duck and many other comic book properties for Marvel, DC and various indie companies, died on the 10th of February as a result of his long battle with pulmonary fibrosis.

Howard was the only Gerber character that had a truly lasting impression on myself as a reader but I did enjoy his work wherever I encountered it, be it on television or in the funny boooks. He was a brilliant satirist, a unique voice, and a presence in the industry that will be sorely missed now that he is no longer with us.

Mark Evanier, long-time friend and colleague to Steve, has a nice tribute to him up on his blog which I'd urge you to go check out.

And don't think I didn't notice that Steve passed on the same day as Roy Scheider. Not a great week.

mike

Monday, February 11, 2008

R.I.P. Roy Scheider

I just saw this on Sci-Fi Wire this evening:

Roy Scheider, a two-time Oscar nominee best known to genre fans for starring in Steven Spielberg's '90s TV series SeaQuest DSV and 1975's Jaws, died Feb. 10 at age 75, the Associated Press reported; he died of complications from multiple myeloma, a cancer of the blood cells.


I've been a fan of Scheider's for years and was very sad to learn the news. Anyone who has read this blog for any amount of time will probably know that I'm a big Jaws fan and hold his role in that film as, probably, my favourite that he's ever done. Yeah, I know he was in The French Connection and a slew of other films, and he's a great presence in all of them, but I think Jaws was the first movie I ever saw him in and he made such a great impression on me.



Rest in peace,Roy.

mike

Pneumonia...Not a Fun Thing

So, I discovered a few days ago that I have pneumonia. After a week or so of feeling draggy and unpleasant I developed a heaving dry cough, a fever, shakes and just felt unpleasant overall. I hit the minor emergency clinic where they told me that I was in the beginning stages of pneumonia and hooked me up with some antibiotics to fight off the bad mojo.

I spent Thursday at home in bed, Friday at my parents house with my daughter, me lying on the couch feeling like shit, Emma fighting off her own cold and watching Family channell all day in the play room there.

I've never been this sick before. I've taken a day or two off work before for the odd flu or cold but this thing is potent. It'll be a few days yet before I make it back into the co-op. Hell, it'll be a few days, I'm sure, before I make it out of the house for any length of time. This is not something I'd reccomend to anyone.

The only bright light amidst all the sickness and near-death experiences was the fact that, while waiting for my precription to be ready, I found Season 3 of Futurama for a really great price and picked it up. I've watched all the commentary tracks so far and will wait for my health to get better before watching the episodes since I want my brother, Ed, to be in on that action. I've seen most of the episodes already, so it's no big whoop waiting a few days.

Anyways, I'm sure I'll post a few more times before my quarantine is up.

Later!

mike

Saturday, February 02, 2008

Optical Drive Burnout

Well, I've finally managed to burn out my DVD-ROM drive. I'd heard that it was possible, I knew that the day would eventually come, and after several years of faithful service, my Pioneer DVR-109 has finally gone the way of the dodo. She still reads okay, but the writing capability on it is completely shot and the disc hardly spins up anymore.

The good news is that optical drives are cheap as borscht, so I've already replaced it and am just waiting to get at the guts of my computer in order to install the new one.

I'll be up and running again in no time, I'm sure.

Later!

mike