Tuesday, December 28, 2010

Buck Rogers and John Carter Comic News


I guess I'm still on the grid following my lack of love for TRON. But here's some comic book news to make up for it.

First up Dynamite Comics will be publishing Buck Rogers Annual 1 this coming February http://www.dynamiteentertainment.com/htmlfiles/viewProduct.html?PRO=C725130159823 I had read some of their short-lived Buck series and it was just getting good when they cancelled it so maybe this will restart it.

Fans of Barsoom might also need to make a trip to the comic book store this week. Several sites, like this one http://dailypop.wordpress.com/2010/12/28/new-releases-122910/ are reporting that Dark Horse Comics' John Carter of Mars: Weird Worlds collection-which has the DC Comics version of the character-will be released tomorrow, December 29. Previously it was announced for a January 12 release and the listing on Dark Horse's website still has it, so I'll try to check or if someone knows for sure can you let me know.

Monday, December 27, 2010

Movie Review: TRON Legacy


I hope you faithful readers had a good and safe Christmas. And I know this review is coming late but I only just got to see it during the holiday break. Be warned though, you'll be singing "you're a mean one, Mr. Grinch" by the time I get through with this...

Our story opens in 1989 when we meet once again computer genius Kevin Flynn (Young CGI Jeff Bridges) telling his son Sam the story of the Grid and the adventures of Tron and Flynn's alter ego Clu (which is probably a good thing since Disney yanked the original off the market reportedly for fear of ruining this one's box office chances and we need the refresher). Dad departs to go to work and then disappears, causing much confusion for his company Encom and leaving Sam the standard Disney Orphan. We then move ahead 20 years where Encom is now being run by corporate sharks and Sam (Garrett Hedlund) is a young dude with a cool motorcycle, computer skills up the wazoo and a bohemian lifestyle (which is probably the least realistic plotting in the movie). After pulling a mass prank in which he releases an upcoming software package for free, Sam gets a visit from his father's old friend Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) who has news of his own-a page from Kevin Flynn's office at the shut down arcade Flynn owned. And even though he says he doesn't care Sam goes there to investigate, finds dad's office and before he know is zapped in the Grid-a computer universe created by Flynn to help the world. But things didn't work out and before you know it Sam is captured, forced into gladiatorial combat with flying Frisbees of death and meets the Grid's new ruler-Clu! After a game of lightcycle smash-up Sam is rescued by Quorra (Olivia Wilde) a program who is living off grid (so to speak) with the real Flynn (Non-CGI Jeff Bridges). Sam then has to find a way to get his father home and stop Clu's master plan. And do it while wearing hip hugging leather pants, survive an encounter with a David Bowie clone (Michael Sheen) and not get creeped out by the CGI version of the Dude.

OK confession times folks-I never cared much for the first TRON. My memories of it was it looked nice but was boring and poorly scripted and directed. Well on that level TRON Legacy sort of lives up to the original in that is also poorly scripted and directed. In this case director Joseph Kosinski (a former commercial director, continuing Disney's track record of bad director choices for their films) seems more interested in the light show going on and less on the characters or devising a gripping story to keep the audience interested. Then again the story might have been more interesting if it wasn't cribbed from other movies-in fact the film could have been called TRON: Star Wars since it includes elements from that franchise-our orphaned hero searching for his missing father; the lightcycle tournament (which was the coolest element of the original) sequence is pretty much the pod race from The Phantom Menace; old Flynn is Obi-Dude Kenobi, spouting mumbo jumbo and surfer lingo; a fight in a bar; a character loses an arm, etc. Flynn even has a final confrontation with Clu where he admits he failed, a la Obi-Wan in Revenge of the Sith. Also not helping is the acting-or rather what the actors do. As Sam Hedlund is bland in the part, substituting groan worthy one-liners and a non changing facial expression for acting. And what planet did Sheen beam down from? His performance belongs in a Monty Python sketch more than this. Of course the biggest thing has been CGI Jeff Bridges-honestly it looked OK-but the problem is Clu just isn't memorable. Older Bridges meanwhile seems to be channeling the Dude because the writers couldn't come up with anything else. It's a shame as Bridges is a great actor stuck with nothing to work with. As for the much vaunted 3D, honestly I couldn't tell it made much of a difference. Maybe it was the overly dark Blade Runner look but nothing seemed to pop off the screen. You would think with Frisbees of death and lightcycles that would be cool 3D effects but nothing (makes you wonder if this wasn't retrofitted).

So does anything work? Well as I said before it looks visually spectacular. Disney did spend the money to make it look big and bold and the film can't be faulted for that. The return of Boxleitner from the first film is also nice. And the score by Daft Punk really rocks. But I say probably the best thing in the film is Olivia Wilde-and not just because of her form fitting outfit. As Quorra, an artificial being who has spent her entire life inside a computer, her questioning about what is to be human adds what little human emotion there is. She also handles the action scenes well-much better than Hedlund-and by the end makes you care about her. Maybe if the film was about her quest instead of our dull hero it might have made it better.

In the end, TRON Legacy is full of sound and fury but with nothing underneath. It's a light show and a desperate attempt to grow a blockbuster out of a marginal idea. If you're a fan of the original you might find it more enthralling than I did. If not well I warned you. Rating: ** out of 4.

Thursday, December 23, 2010

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #3


First up Happy Holidays and I hope it's a good and safe one for you and your loved ones. Now let's hit Barsoom!

And that's where this third issue begins, with John Carter landing on the planet (sans clothing so again readers use caution!), discovering his new found abilities and...well if you read A Princess of Mars you know the rest as this issue follows the the novel closely-the incubator, meeting Tars Tarkas, sakking, Sola and the introduction of every one's favorite Calot (which art-wise looks to have been inspired by this piece of art done for the Paramount movie version http://www.erbzine.com/mag23/wool02.jpg ) .

Again like the last issue, this one shows signs of improving. Of course now with John Carter on Barsoom the story will seem overly familiar to readers of the novels and that might seem a little boring since we know where the story is going but maybe that's for the best. If anything we'll be spared shape shifting Therns. There are some nice touches I did like in this issue-the Tharks' dialogue is presented in alien symbols, which makes the read feel as alien as John Carter and the design of Korad the abandoned city that John Carter is taken to. Also cool is some drawings of the inner bone structure of a Thark included in a text piece "written" by John that explains the effects of Mars on his physiology as well as how it affects the Tharks.

So we finally get the good stuff. And the next issue finally promises the arrival of the most beautiful woman of two worlds (just in time for her own series to start). About time!

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Dejah Thoris Gets Her Own Comic


Some news courtesy of Marooned http://sffbooksonmars.blogspot.com/ According to the site Comic Book Resources http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=29893 Dynamite will be publishing Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris, a spinoff of their current Warlord of Mars series. The book will be a prequel, following the adventures of Dejah before she meets John Carter, and I'll let writer Arvid Nelson explain: "Burroughs left so many tantalizing breadcrumb trails in the first few Mars novels, but he never followed most of them. This series is going to follow some of those trails. We're going to see how Dejah Thoris' kingdom of Helium rose to preeminence. We're going to see her first suitor. And we're going to see Dejah herself kick some ass. She's a great character, totally deserving of her own series. It's great having her in a more active role." More Dejah the better I say! The book is set to hit comic racks March 2011.

Monday, December 13, 2010

Conan Renamed and Reshoots


CROM! More news from the upcoming Conan reboot. First up the film has been renamed, originally just Conan, then Conan 3D (Crom no!) to (wait for it...) Conan the Barbarian! So much for trying to distance themselves from Arnold. The second news comes from Conan The Movie Blog that is reporting that producers Nu Image have ordered reshoots after a test screening of the film http://www.conanmovieblog.com/2010/12/08/conan-the-barbarian-early-test-screenings-provoke-reshoots/. Usually this is a bad sign that things aren't working and they're trying to salvage it. We'll just have to wait and see on August 19, 2011 if it helps.

Friday, December 10, 2010

New Thor Poster AND TRAILER!


With the trailer for the film hitting the Internet latter today-early descriptions imply that it is an edited version of the longer Comic-Con reel that popped up online months ago-Marvel has released its first teaser poster for the film, showing off the God of Thunder and his big hammer. I'll add a link to the trailer when it shows up. UPDATE: Well it's here http://movies.yahoo.com/movie/1810026342/video/23447610 I'll save my rant about how annoying Yahoo is for another time and just enjoy the show

Thursday, December 9, 2010

Thark Choreography Video


Another post for the day. This time a friend emailed me a video link on Youtube http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Ff_FuWLbUqw with the title "Paradox Pollack - Alien / Creature Choreographer." The video's description is that it was a bid for an upcoming sci-fi flick involving "12 foot 4 armed green bug aliens from Mars." I don't know if Mr. Pollack-whose other credits based on info from IMDB includes playing an "infected" creature in I Am Legend, stunt double for actor Colm Feore on the upcoming Thor and creature choreographer for JJ Abrams' Star Trek-was hired for John Carter of Mars or not but the video shows him and others working out the ways a Thark could move and fight. Hope you guys enjoy the video.

Lynn Collins Tweets John Carter of Mars


Our old friend at http://www.barsoomia.org/ has dug up some Twitter comments from none other than Dejah Thoris herself. The tweets were apparently made while filming was going on in Utah and...well there wasn't much to report, except that Utah looked great and had some weird weather. The last comment posted though was interesting: "did some final photo kills for jcom...we worked hard and it looks great." I guess I need to brush up on my movie speak-does anyone know what "photo kills" are? PR shots possibly? You can read more at Barsoomia and check out Ms. Collins' other posts at http://twitter.com/lynncollins7

Monday, December 6, 2010

The Lost Continent Goes Graphic


It looks like Warlord of Mars isn't the only comic book adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs we have in the works. Coming out December 28 is a full graphic novel version of The Lost Continent, one of Burroughs' lesser known novels from Random House http://www.randomhouse.com/catalog/display.pperl?isbn=9789380028316 as part of a deal with a company called Campfire Graphic Novels out of India, which specializes in adaptations of classic novels. And that's not the only ERB-inspired comics coming from the company. A week later, on January 4, 2011, adaptations of The Land That Time Forgot and The People That Time Forgot will also be released, so check your local bookstores or Amazon.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

30 Years of Flash Gordon


All together now...GORDON'S ALIVE!

Yep, this Sunday, December 5, marks the 30th anniversary of one of the campiest (if not THE campiest) sci-fi spectacles ever to reach the big screen. So let's hop into a rocket and look back at Flash Gordon in all of its disco-era glory.

I first saw it probably around 1984 when it my parents finally got HBO. At the time I was completely unfamiliar with the character of Flash Gordon-the local newspapers didn't carry the comic strip (even though they did have The Phantom, go figure) and the Buster Crabbe serials were not being ran on TV at least around where I lived. So my first introduction to the world of Mongo was Sam Jones-fully dubbed-as Flash, Max Von Sydow's gleefully evil Ming, the kitschy spaceships and Queen belting out the title theme. At the time I was unaware of the film's reputation-a critical and commericial disappointment-and just sat there I'm sure slack jawed at what I had just seen. Of course as I got older and discovered both Alex Raymond's work and the Crabbe serials, I began to see why so many despised this version. It had taken a serious piece of 1930s sci-fi pulp and turned into a Vegas stage act. It was the Batman television series run riot.

Looking at the film now I have to admit it is a definite guilty pleasure but it does have its strengths. The supporting cast is rich-from Von Sydow to a pre-Bond Timothy Dalton channeling Errol Flynn as Prince Barin to Brian Blessed's Vultan, probably the film's best performance to the sexy Ornella Muti as Princess Aura-all of them give it their all. The effects, while laughable I'm sure for even 1980, at least stick close to the design of the comic strips. And the last 30 minutes-the Hawkmen attack and Flash becoming the ultimate wedding crasher-is a rousing finale. I admit it does have its problems and just flat out silliness-the fact that Flash comes out of the swamp of Aboria both spotless and with perfect hair is laughable, the character of Zarkov-played by Topol-borders on ludicrous in this version, the Darth Vader inspired Klytus, the bizarre Wizard of Oz references and two rather flat leads in Jones and Melody Anderson, even though both try with what they're given.

So is Flash Gordon an over the top romp? Yes it is- a glorious one, the type they just don't make anymore. I guess you can give credit to director Mike Hodges (even if he has admitted it virtually destroyed his career) and producer Dino De Laurentiis (may he rest in peace) for having the guts to make such an outrageous epic. Here's to you Flash, the one savior of the universe who never fails!

Monday, November 29, 2010

R.I.P. Irvin Kershner and Leslie Nielsen


A sad start to the week with news of the passing of two talented men. First came word late Sunday that actor Leslie Nielsen had died of pneumonia following a staph infection. He was 84. While best known to audiences today for his deadpan comic performances in Airplane! and The Naked Gun series, he also appeared in the science fiction classic Forbidden Planet. In tribute MTV's blog site has listed several of Nielsen's best movies http://moviesblog.mtv.com/2010/11/29/remembering-leslie-nielsen-naked-gun-forbidden-planet/ Also gone after a reported long illness is director Irvin Kershner, who was 87 http://artsbeat.blogs.nytimes.com/2010/11/29/irvin-kershner-empire-strikes-back-director-dies-at-87/. A long time filmmaking veteran, Kershner is best remembered for directing The Empire Strikes Back, adding human depth to the Star Wars series as well as the thriller The Eyes of Laura Mars and the non-series James Bond film Never Say Never Again. Both men will be missed.

Friday, November 26, 2010

Warlord of Mars-Rockwell Style


For those in the US I hope you had a safe Thanksgiving and survived Black Friday and for the rest of you guys in the world that you had a good day as well. With that out of the way here is today's cool find-artist Joe Jusko's cover for issue 5 of Dynamite's Warlord of Mars series, done here in homage to the classic Saturday Evening Post covers by Norman Rockwell. Razor-eyed fans might also want to take a close look at the books the young man is reading. For more info on this cover you can read here at http://joejusko.deviantart.com/art/WARLORD-OF-MARS-No-5-187347725?q=&qo=

Monday, November 22, 2010

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #2


Unless something pops up this will probably be the only post this week until after Thanksgiving. Just FYI. And now our look at Dynamite Comics' second issue of their trip to Barsoom. (Spoilers ahead!)

Picking up where the last issue left off, we now find John Carter and James Powell prospecting when they find a rich vein of quartz. And if you've read A Princess of Mars you know the rest as the first section follows the novel pretty closely-Powell's ambush by Apaches, John's rescue and his fleeing into the cave, etc. The second part of the story picks up on Barsoom with Tars and Tarkas presenting their report to the Jeddak Tal Hajus and coming to blows-literally-over the fate of Sola, with Tarkas being pushed by a manipulative female Thark named Sarkoja...

After the first issue, I didn't really know where this series was heading. John Carter's gun fight with the Union soldiers and the Tars-Tarkas plot twist seemed out of left field but with this issue writer Arvid Nelson turns it back towards Edgar Rice Burroughs. The opening section nicely condenses the first chapter of Burroughs' novel and prepares us for the next issue. The resolution of the Tars-Tarkas conflict and the introduction of Sarkoja are also well handled and again ties in pretty well with the novel while setting up the conflict that we know is coming.

As for the artwork it like the writing has gotten stronger. I know some friends of mine who are big John Carter fans weren't pleased with the Tharks-the lack of antenna and the blank eyes-but if anything it adds to the alien look of them even more. And the final fight between Tars and Tarkas is especially well drawn with blood and severed Thark parts flying-something I sincerely doubt we'll see in Disney's version (that and a buck nude John Carter so you might want to be careful where you read this.)

So in the end this issue is a vast improvement over the first issue. The only complaint-again Dejah Thoris gets prominent placement on most of the covers-except the one posted above-even though she's nowhere to be seen. She better be one hot Martian babe when she shows up!

Sunday, November 21, 2010

John Carter of the Cosmos!


I'll have up my review of the second issue of Warlord of Mars tomorrow but here's something to tide you over. In 1980 famed astronomer and novelist Carl Sagan hosted Cosmos: A Personal Voyage, a documentary series on PBS about the universe and for the fifth episode, titled "Blues for a Red Planet" Sagan talked about how the John Carter of Mars books fired his 8 year old imagination and influenced his later fascination with both Mars and the universe. Well thanks to the miracle of Youtube, here's the section from the episode http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=p02Aaq_BaXI, with discussion of astronomer Percival Lowell-whose work influenced Edgar Rice Burroughs on the Barsoom series-and the cool cover artwork by Michael Whelan from the paperbacks. Enjoy the show! (And in case you're curious, the artwork above was a piece of concept art from the earlier Paramount version of John Carter that I've never seen before.)

Wednesday, November 17, 2010

John Carter Set Video and Cowboys and Aliens!



Another post in the same day! Who knew there would be so much video to look at?

Up first is a video walk through of the sets of John Carter of Mars in Utah that was linked to on the blog Warriors of the Red Planet http://warriorsoftheredplanet.blogspot.com/. While not great video quality it still shows off the sets and some stuff we didn't see before.




Next up is yet another trailer, this time for Jon Favreau's Cowboys and Aliens with Daniel Craig, Harrison Ford and Tron Legacy babe Olivia Wilde starring. It looks good and with that cast it should be interesting.


The "Barsoom Segment" and Green Lantern Trailer!



How about some video clips?

The first one up is "The Barsoom Segment," a 7-minute piece of a longer film called Blue Star Red Sand made by the Bournemouth Science Fiction & Fantasy Group in the early 1990s. While it may not have the bells and whistles of a big budget flick it still is an entertaining piece and fans of Barsoom I think will enjoy it. (More info and the pic above come from http://www.barsoomia.org/.)




Next up is the first trailer for next year's Green Lantern with Ryan Reynolds in superhero action, a brunette Blake Lively and our first glimpses of Mark Strong's Sinestro, Abin Sur and Kilowog. So far reaction seems split-some love it, others seem to think it looks worse and that Reynolds was a bad choice. For me it got my interest and for those complaining about Reynolds, considering that Warner Bros considered at various times both Jack Black and Justin Timberlake we should count our blessings.


Sunday, November 14, 2010

The First Dejah Thoris!


And it's not Lynn Collins or Traci Lords. With news pretty much dried up on the John Carter of Mars movie front (again check the article on SF-Fandom linked to below) I thought I would offer up some glimpses from the past. In this case, the original model for the Sunday comics version drawn by John Coleman Burroughs who happened to be his wife Jane. You can read about her and see some more modeling photos at http://www.johncolemanburroughs.com/jrb/.

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Is John Carter's PR a Debacle?


That's the question that is being asked on the site Sf-Fandom by writer Michael Martinez http://www.sf-fandom.com/2010/11/10/andrew-stantons-john-carter-of-mars-pr-debacle/ who wonders why there has been no news about John Carter of Mars recently. For the most part I agree with him (and not just because he has graciously listed this blog in his piece), it seems that everyone involved with this movie-Disney, Pixar and Andrew Stanton-have been hiding this film from the public. We've had two San Diego Comic-Cons in a row with nothing shown (even though Disney has been there 3 years in a row promoting Tron: Legacy), no official website (just a Facebook page that has had no updates forever) and the most we get from the actors is standard "the movie will look great" speak, not to mention Disney preventing concept artwork shown at their D23 Expo in 2009 from leaking out or even the photo of one of the extras in costume that leaked out a few months back which was quickly removed from the actress' IMDB page. Why is this film being hidden? I can understand yes it might be premature to show scenes with needed FX (who wants to see Dafoe in his motion capture PJs?) but the fact that we know virtually everything else about every other big movie coming out in 2012-from constant Hobbit news to casting of the Spider-Man reboot to even pics of John Carter star Taylor Kitsch's other big-budget flick Battleship-you begin to wonder when are they going to start promoting this?

Monday, November 8, 2010

Almighty Thor Is Coming!


That's right true believers! Our old friends at the Asylum are gearing up their next epic production http://www.thefilmcatalogue.com/catalog/FilmDetail.php?id=10968. I'm just wondering if Commander Canada is coming next?

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Dorothy of Oz Artwork


Well I hope you survived the two scariest days of the year (Halloween and Election Day.) And here's something else that could possibly scare you. The Hollywood Reporter has posted a gallery of artwork from Dorothy of Oz, an upcoming CGI-animated take on the classic L. Frank Baum story. This is one of several Oz related movies coming up (including-Heaven help us-Sam Raimi's Oz: The Great and Powerful with Robert Downey Jr as the Wizard) so I guess Hollywood forgot Return to Oz and how poorly it did. You can see the full gallery for yourself at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/gallery/sneak-peek-animated-dorothy-oz-33465#1.

Friday, October 29, 2010

Tron: Legacy Clip-(Or Hot Babe in Tight Leotard!)


First up, have a happy and safe Halloween for all of you out there. Enjoy some tricks, treats and some scares. Now on to this-one movie I'm sure most of you may notice I haven't mentioned much, if at all, has been Tron: Legacy. I was never a fan of the first one and I haven't seen much of this one to make me think it will be any better-except for actress Olivia Wilde in her tight outfit (what can I say, she's hot!). And in this clip http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=_W4FKd3drAk, which was shown during a recent "Tron Night" where viewers at IMAX theaters saw 20 minutes of footage we can see more of her as she meets the film's hero. Maybe it will be better. If not well there is always Ms. Wilde.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Avatar 2 and 3 Announced!


Yes I know-The Dark Knight Rises! But this one seems a little more fitting for this blog (and if you clicked on the earlier post sorry.)

After months of speculation, Fox has announced that James Cameron will be returning to write and direct two sequels to Avatar. The first one is set for release in 2014-talk about making you wait-with the second one following the next year. No word on the plot, except they wil be "self contained stories that also fulfill a greater story arc," as Cameron stated in the press release. You can read the full thing at http://www.aintitcool.com/node/47224

Sunday, October 24, 2010

Barsoom Books on Tape! (And CD and MP3)


For those too lazy to read here's some news from the pulp fan site Coming Attractions (http://members.cox.net/comingattractions/), via Marooned (http://sffbooksonmars.blogspot.com/). Blackstone Audio, an outfit which produces audio books has announced for early next year unabridged audio recordings of both The Gods of Mars (set for February 2011) and The Warlord of Mars (March 2011.) Audio readings of A Princess of Mars and Thuvia, Maid of Mars are already available, as is other Edgar Rice Burroughs novels (including Tarzan of the Apes read by actor Ben Kingsley). You can see their full ERB listings and hear some audio samples at http://www.blackstoneaudio.com/search.cfm?search=edgar+rice+burroughs

Friday, October 22, 2010

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #1


Again a clever opening eludes me so let's just jump in to John Carter's return to the four color format. A quick warning-spoilers abound.

As this issue-titled "A Tale of Two Planets, Part 1" opens we meet John Carter not out prospecting but at a local saloon having a quiet drink with friend James Powell before they ride out to find their fortune. But things take a downward turn when the two have an altercation with some Union soldiers who taunt them that results in unforeseen events. The second part of the issue takes place on Barsoom where we meet Thark warriors Tars and Tarkas (and that's not a typo) as they attempt to rescue some young Tharks kidnapped by white apes for dinner time. A dispute over one of those rescued-a female Thark named Sola-leaves the two warriors split and opens the door for a future conflict between them and Sola's fate in the hands of the Jed of the Tharks...

It's been a good 15 years since John Carter's last comic book adventure (in Dark Horse' Tarzan/John Carter-Warlords of Mars mini-series) and I didn't know what to expect here. I have to admit from a story telling side I was surprised by this opening. Writer Arvid Nelson's decision to show both John and Tars in conflict on both planets is a clever way to show how both characters mirror each other in their actions and their respect for life. On the other hand seeing John and Powell in a gun battle with Union soldiers seems really out of left field and out of character, even though I'm wondering if this hasn't been done to provide the reason for John's retreat into the cave and his trip to Barsoom. It just doesn't feel like the John Carter established by Burroughs or even the character from the Marvel series. I was also surprised by the Tars and Tarkas section. I don't remember Edgar Rice Burroughs ever suggesting that Tars earned the name Tarkas from another Thark but in some ways it makes sense considering that except for Tal Hajus and Lourquas Ptomel none of the other Tharks mentioned have first and last names.

On the art front though the look of it is book unique. Artist Stephen Sandowski brings a nice realism to the human characters and an insectoid look to the Tharks that helps make them look different from previous comic interpretations. And Barsoom looks like the Red planet, not some just the normal Earth-like deserts that many comic versions have shown.

On the whole the series has begun with an interesting opening but I'm not sure if I can call it a winner just yet. And where is Dejah Thoris? It seems funny that she is present on all four variant covers yet nowhere to be seen. Oh well at least she's scantly clad and that sells. In the end we'll just have to wait and see where it goes from here.

Tuesday, October 19, 2010

John Carter Co-Writer Gets Brave?


Here's some interesting news that has popped up. The Hollywood Reporter is reporting a director shake-up on Pixar's upcoming animated project Brave with originally slated director Brenda Chapman now exiting and being replaced by Mark Andrews. And how does this connect to John Carter of Mars? In a few ways. Andrews was the co-writer of the original script for John Carter and recently was second unit director for the film. (His other credits include working with Brad Bird on The Iron Giant and The Incredibles.) The other connection is that the film was set to open one week after John Carter's June 8, 2012 release date. I wonder if this change will push it back possibly to avoid any problems. You can read the full article at http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/blogs/heat-vision/pixars-brave-move-reshuffling-directors-31473 where it also talks about how Chapman was going to be the first female director helming a Pixar film.

Monday, October 18, 2010

Sherlock Holmes 2 and Green Lantern Pics


Elementary my dear readers. I hope to have my thoughts of Warlord of Mars issue 1 up soon. But for now some new pics to look at.

First up photos from the first day of filming on Sherlock Holmes 2 has shown up at http://justjared.buzznet.com/2010/10/18/sherlock-holmes-2-jude-law-robert-downey-jr/ Most of them are of Downey and Law on walking around and riding in a carriage but it's still a peek.

The other photo shows off a battery. A famous green battery as photos of an oversize version of the battery prop from Green Lantern was shown at Spike TV's upcoming Scream Awards and has shown up here http://dailyblam.com/news/2010/10/17/green-lantern-wins-most-anticipated-movie-at-scream-awards

Saturday, October 16, 2010

John Carter: The Sunday Comics


A little FYI for those out there. Dynamite's Warlord of Mars comic has now hit stores and I was hoping to have it and post my thoughts of it. But a snafu (and how many people use that word now?) at the store where I reserved a copy means I'll have to wait and get it (apparently most of the covers were scratched up so they had to special order more) next week.

But I thought this might interest some of you. First up is a brief history of John Carter's comic adventures at http://www.erbzine.com/comics/jcearly1.html, with a complete listing of his appearances in a book called The Funnies and the Sunday comic strips. Those strips were drawn by Edgar Rice Burroughs' son John (who had worked on the unmade animated John Carter of Mars movie with Bob Clampett) and a website devoted to John's work has posted the entire run of the strip starting here http://www.johncolemanburroughs.com/mag22/2281.html There is also some notes comparing it to the earlier Funnies run and the novels and more. I wonder if anyone will collect these in a collection, maybe after Dark Horse releases the Marvel Warlord of Mars book?

Thursday, October 14, 2010

Book Review: Jandar of Callisto


I reviewed Black Legion of Callisto a few months back (you can read that review here http://jcomreader.blogspot.com/2010/07/book-review-black-legion-of-callisto.html) so here's the first entry in Lin Carter's homage to Edgar Rice Burroughs.
Jonathan Andrew Dark is serving as a Red Cross pilot during the Vietnam War when his helicopter is forced down inside Cambodia. While floating down a river he ultimately finds an empty city which surrounds a mysterious well. When he looks in a light suddenly zaps him and he wakes up to find himself not in Cambodia anymore. Instead he soon discovers he is on Thanator, which is actually Callisto-one of the moons of Jupiter. And it isn't too long (especially if you know your Burroughs) before he ends up captured by a strange alien race-in this case a group of insect creatures called the Yathoon-and has to rescue a fair princess, Darloona of the Ku Thud who has been driven from her home by an invading force called the Chac Yuul (or the Black Legion.) But before he can get her back home both of them and the Yathoon leader Koja are captured by Sky Pirates and their leader Prince Thuton who immediately seems to sweep Darloona off her feet. But when Jonathan-or Jandar as the inhabitants come to call him-finds out Thuton's plan to sell her to the Chac Yuul he must rescue the princess and convince her that he's on her side. Which is a lot harder than fighting massive beasts and Sky Pirates as Jandar will tell you...

While I liked Black Legion of Callisto, this first book in the series I felt never got off the ground. Part of the problem seemed to be that unlike Burroughs Carter doesn't spend much time developing his characters. This especially hurts the Jandar-Darloona relationship as he comes off too much like a braggart and clumsy fool and she both snobby and clueless. In short neither of them are John Carter or Dejah Thoris and makes Jandar's mission to save her unconvincing. Also there isn't much development of the Yathoon species compared to the Tharks in A Princess of Mars while the Sky Pirates are non-entities. Probably the best character is Lukor, an aging sword master who helps Jandar in his sword training and quest to rescue Darloona.

It has some good sequences scattered about but as the first book in this series Jandar of Callisto sadly fell a little short of my expectations. At least the second book was an improvement. I'm probably being lenient just because of that so this book gets ** 1/2 out of 4.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

New Conan Set Photos, Green Lantern Trailer and John Lennon as Gollum?!


Here's some news to chew over for the day.

First up some new set photos from Conan has popped up at http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/rorschachsrants/news/?a=23810 It shows off more of the sets and some of the other cast members. While I'm sure it won't do nothing to change concerns about the film at least these photos look good.

Next up is news from last week's New York Comic-Con on the upcoming Green Lantern (what can I say-it's probably the film I'm most looking forward to coming out next year). According to http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=70521 the first trailer will be in front of the upcoming Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows Part 1 which opens November 19. (Also for some of you Potter fans Warner Bros has decided not to release the film in 3D. A sign that this trend is finally coming to a close?)

And finally as I'm sure most of you know this past Saturday October 9 marked what would have been John Lennon's 70th birthday. While there has been much written about his music and impact I thought this tied in well with this site (even though again I'm sure most have heard this)-back in the late 1960s Lennon wanted the Beatles to buy the rights to The Lord of the Rings with himself as Gollum, Paul as Frodo, George as Gandalf and Ringo as Sam but was blocked by JRR Tolkien himself. I did find this piece which talks to Peter Jackson around the time of The Return of the King about this planned film which never went forward http://www.people.com/people/article/0,,623838,00.html

Friday, October 8, 2010

John Carter-Warlord of Mars Collection Coming


Well another trip to the comic book store. The site Comic Book Resources has listed John Carter of Mars: Warlord of Mars from Dark Horse Comics for release on March 2, 2011. This book according to the information provided will collect all 28 issues of the Marvel series and the three annuals. But unlike the recent Jesse Marsh book or the upcoming Weird Worlds collection the book will be in black and white with a cost of 29.99. You can read more at http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=28739

Thursday, October 7, 2010

Thundarr the Barbarian on DVD!


Demon dogs, it's about time! For this kid of the 1980s this might be the best news this year. Thundarr the Barbarian has now been issued on DVD as part of Warner Bros' Archive collection http://www.wbshop.com/Thundarr-The-Barbarian-The-Complete-Series-198082/1000180186,default,pd.html?cgid=&AID=10811526&PID=4110512. It might not be the greatest series ever but for those who grew up with it Ookla the Mok still has a warm spot in their hearts.

Wednesday, October 6, 2010

Script Review: John Carter of Mars 2005


The final script that has shown up online comes to us from writer Ehren Kruger. And it takes the proverbial cake for the most different approach to Barsoom.

Dated September 7, 2005 with a stamp "previous draft by: Mark Protosevich," we open with "Jungle skies" and the appearance of "two MILITARY HELICOPTERS" (as typed in the script). We then meet our hero-"Captain John Carter (28) of Dev Group, the most elite of special forces units." And as you can quickly tell we are no longer in Kansas (or Arkansas in this case.) We also meet fellow unit member James Powell and their mission-apparently mysterious red diamonds are showing up and and the government wants it-which leads to Barsoom. With this setup here's the basics of this script. Be warned there are some spoilers and some death dealing creatures-

--The opening action sequence is basically a repeat of the opening of Predator-special forces guys going in to rescue hostages but really there for another reason.

--After finding a kid and bribing him with Baby Ruth bars, John and Powell find the source of the diamonds-a huge crevasse that has shown up after a recent earthquake. Powell falls down it and John follows to rescue him. Inside though John finds (start rolling eyes now!) "a massive chamber" with a "sundial-type marking in the ground" which when touched activates and ends up sending John not only to Mars but through time as well-the script mentions dinosaur bones becoming live creatures.

--John crash lands on Barsoom in a "dense forest" and is barely eaten by a malagor-which fans will remember were thought to be extinct and were later discovered by Ras Thavas in Synthetic Men of Mars.

--John falls through the trees and lands outside the Thark incubator. Here he also meets Woola-who is introduced guarding the incubator and making a sound described as "woola-woola." We also get great white apes who are breaking in and sucking up Thark eggs like candy. John fights them and manages to kill a female ape before Tars Tarkas and the Tharks show up.

--The Tharks are living in a domed city. At this point it resembles the novel with John being trained by Sola and learning the language.

--In this version the Tharks we learn have been driven off their land by Sab Than-who is described as a "desert prophet" leading the Zodangans, who are mentioned later as having been a group of desert dwellers without a leader. He's also at war with Helium.

--Tal Hajus is basically Jabba the Hutt here. The character of Sarkoja is present in this version as Tal's evil assassin henchwoman. She gets killed by flesh eating maggot creatures. Yummy!

--Dejah Thoris is captured and pleads for help to defeat the Zodangans. We also learn that Sab Than's master plan is capture the Atmosphere Plant but needs the key to enter it. In this case it happens to be some device that Dejah wears around her navel.

--The Zodangans have some device that renders them invisible in both their armor and ships. Those darn Klingons and their cloaking devices!

--John, Dejah and Sola escape and we get Sola's back story, the "revelation" of Powell-apparently he's a skeleton in a Helium museum, and an attack by Warhoons.

--And at this point we get another revelation-Sab Than is...James Powell! ("And I would have gotten away with it too if wasn't for you middling Tharks!) Yep he showed up on Barsoom a good 150 years before John, was taken in by the Zodangans and has led them to attempt to conquer Barsoom.

--He makes the "together we can rule the galaxy" speech to John. When he refuses, Sab/Powell also paraphrases Anakin Skywalker again-"you're either with me or against me." Sadly no fight on a giant lava planet ensues-instead he just gives John to the Warhoons.

--Time for some games. John and a captured Tars have to fight their way through a Warhoonian gladiator game involving starved calots, banths and a "simiac," a super great white ape.

--Escaping on a malagor John and Tars get separated and John crash lands outside the Atmosphere Plant, which is being run by an Orovar who built it ages ago. John discovers he has the key from Dejah's navel (that's some bling!) and has a choice-he can go home or stay and fight.

--The next batch is pretty much the same as before-Tars challenges Tal Hajus and the attack of the Tharks-this time on Helium which is being bombarded.

--Sab/Powell also has a Governor Tarkin moment as he has Dejah watch him blow up her people while forcing him to tell her where the key is. Sola finally talks, making her a tattle-tale.

--John and Tars eventually show up and the proverbial "all hell breaks loose" final battle begins-with malagors fighting Zodangan airships (pre-Avatar!), and the arrival of more Tharks to save the day (written with much similarities to the climax of the Helm's Deep battle in Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers.)

--Everything seems fine-John and Dejah have gotten hitched-until the king is murdered! Who did it? Well at this point Sab Powell has more lives than Jason Voorhees as he gets into the Plant and threatens to destroy it. John finally kills him and gets zapped back to Earth. Only this time he lands back in his home state of Virginia...in 1865. But thanks to his exposure on Barsoom he doesn't age and waits until that earthquake. In the only scene repeated from the earlier scripts, we see Dejah Thoris standing outside watching a falling star-only this time with a "silhouetted little boy" keeping her company. And we fade out...

Well that was different. I can see why many had a fit when rumors of the direction this version was going in leaked out but once he lands on Barsoom it isn't any different from the previous two versions. We get Sab Than as the bad guy and his attempt to use the Atmosphere Plant to conquer Barsoom. John Carter learns from the Tharks and I actually liked him not having to go off and warn everyone about the Plant failing. The problem I had with it though is this-the major plot of Burroughs' novel-the love of John Carter for Dejah Thoris-isn't here. In fact there is no indication of that anywhere until the last few pages. At one point he even resents her for using him to help her escape before she tells him of Powell's "fate." The other major issue is the revelation of Powell as Sab Than which I guess works for this version but isn't as effectively handled. I do have to admit this though-reading it I was amazed how similar this script was to the recent Asylum version of Princess of Mars-the special ops John Carter, Dejah Thoris having the device to enter the Plant and Sab Than's true identity. You can make up your own conclusions about that. In the end this script is an interesting read but I don't know if it would have worked. The action scenes are fine but ultimately I didn't care about the characters in this version or whether or not they would make it. Hopefully that won't be the case with the upcoming film but we'll have to wait and see.

Monday, October 4, 2010

New Thor Pics!


Yep it's more of the God of Thunder (and no I don't mean Gene Simmons.) A couple of new photos from the upcoming issue of Empire magazine has shown up at http://www.heyuguys.co.uk/2010/10/04/a-new-batch-of-images-from-thor/ showing off stars Chris Hemsworth and Natalie Portman. At least it isn't Captain America with fake feet (which can be seen here http://wearemoviegeeks.com/2010/09/captain-america-the-first-avenger-new-set-photos/).

Sunday, October 3, 2010

Retro View: Dracula Has Risen From The Grave


With October now upon us, it's time to bring out the pumpkins and scary movies. So let's catch up with the world's most famous non-sparkly vampire...

The small village of Kleinenberg has been living in fear of the vicious Count Dracula (Christopher Lee) ever since he desecrated the local church, causing poor turnouts for mass and the local priest (Ewan Hooper) to take up drinking even though the count has apparently died. When a visiting Monsignor Mueller (Rupert Davies) comes calling he decides to put to rest the villagers' fears by performing an exorcism on the Count's castle and takes the local padre with him. But when the priest flees he slips, cutting himself and releasing Dracula from his icy tomb. By this time Mueller has stuck a big cross in the door causing more havoc than an eviction notice. And as we learn, hell hath no fury like a Dracula without a castle as he follows the Monsignor back to his hometown and sets his eyes on the innocent Maria (Veronica Carlson), the Monsignor's niece. Standing in Drac's way is Paul (Barry Andrews), the local boy who is in love with Maria. He's also an atheist which causes some problems, especially when Drac gets a stake shoved in him and he can't perform a simple religious ritual. Can Paul save his true love from the Count before she becomes one of the undead and find his religion?

By 1968 when this film was released, Hammer Films had already staked the market with numerous vampire flicks, including two other entries in the Dracula series (well three if you count The Brides of Dracula which does not feature Drac at all) and were beginning to run out of ways to keep the series going. For this entry, director Freddie Francis (best known as an award winning cinematographer on films like The Elephant Man and Glory) adds some offbeat visual touches, like filtered lights when Dracula appears and a city with narrow ledges that people can walk on over the city below, to liven up the proceedings. Also keeping interest is Christopher Lee who brings a mix of sex appeal and menace to his vampire. The rest of the cast kind of pales in comparison. In fact the film's major fault is the lack of a good protagonist to square off against Dracula. This film desperately needs Peter Cushing's Van Helsing from the earlier films, even though Davies does OK as the Monsignor.

The film does deliver though the Hammer touch-the staking of the Count is a bloody delight while the female characters have the lowest cut dresses they could get away with in 1968 (and with a G rating!) along with some rousing action scenes. Also interesting is the religion angle of the script. Most vampire films and TV shows of late have disposed of this element but this film makes it clear waving a crucifix around just doesn't work. You do have to have faith, something that causes our hero an unique problem. In the end it isn't the best of Hammer's Dracula series-that honor goes to the original Horror of Dracula-but it's still fun for fans of Hammer and 1960s horror. At least there are no sparkly teen heartthrob vamps. Rating: *** out of 4.

Friday, October 1, 2010

Finnish Princess of Mars Comics


All credit for this goes to the site Marooned http://sffbooksonmars.blogspot.com/ which posted this. Back in 1991 Finnish artist Kari T. Leppänen got published his own comic book version of A Princess of Mars in the magazine Portti and now has posted the series online and with English translation at http://www.karileppanencomics.fi/burroughs-page.htm. The artwork is pretty good and the story follows the novel very closely. The site also has some other Barsoom inspired work by Leppänen and is definitely worth checking out for fans of John Carter. (A quick warning-John Carter does flash his rear so use your best judgment. I don't want to hear if you got fired because your we're checking out buck naked Virginians at work.)

Monday, September 27, 2010

Woman in Black and Sherlock Holmes News


I know, a little off the track but sometimes you need something a little different.

First up is the pic posted above of Harry Potter star Daniel Radcliffe filming The Woman in Black, an upcoming supernatural thriller where he plays (and I'm quoting from the article posted at http://www.telegraph.co.uk/culture/film/film-news/8027809/Daniel-Radcliffe-pictured-in-The-Woman-in-Black.html) "a young solicitor who is sent to a remote spot to sort out a client's affairs following their death. During his stay he is increasingly haunted by a mysterious ghostly figure, with local villagers unwilling to explain the significance of her appearance." What's interesting about the film is it's the first new film from the revived Hammer Films, the legendary British film studio that revived Gothic horror in the 1950s with films like The Curse of Frankenstein and Horror of Dracula and such latter cult favorites like Captain Kronos: Vampire Hunter. For this horror fan, who has grown tired of pointless remakes and even more pointless sequels (really Saw VII in 3D is going to be an improvement?) I welcome a return back to classic horror. Also there is a brief John Carter of Mars connection-Ciaran Hinds is also in the cast.

And going from horror to Holmes, Heatvision is reporting that actor Stephen Fry has commented that he has joined the cast of the upcoming Sherlock Holmes 2 as Mycroft Holmes, Sherlock's older brother. He will be joined by Robert Downey Jr and Jude Law as well as Swedish actress Noomi Rapace (of the original Girl With The Dragon Tattoo films) for the sequel. You can read more at http://heatvision.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/09/sherlock-holmes-2-stephen-fry.html UPDATE SEPT 29: Following up that casting, Moriarty has also been found-actor Jared Harris, recently seen on the award winning TV series Mad Men has been cast in the role according to http://heatvision.hollywoodreporter.com/2010/09/sherlock-holmes-2-jared-harris-mad-men.html

Thursday, September 23, 2010

John Carter of Mars: From 1991-2006


I'm still reading the last script that has appeared online but I figured that it might save time to go ahead and for the benefit of those few readers I get to fill out the rest of the history of the film's long trip to the big screen. Hopefully I got most of it right, if not someone will please let me know.

I last left off with the hiring of director John McTiernan and the script by Bob Gale in 1990-91. We now jump ahead to '92 where yet another screenwriter has come on board-Sam Resnick, who had written the script for a made for TV version of Robin Hood that McTiernan had produced. It was around this time that Disney also decided to cast the two leads with none other than Tom Cruise and Julia Roberts both approached. (I guess it shows how different Disney is today-at the time they were going after the two biggest movie stars on the planet while the upcoming Andrew Stanton film has two of the biggest unknowns as John Carter and Dejah Thoris.) But here's where things fell apart. According to what I've heard Cruise disliked the script and passed while McTiernan had just scored a major bust with the Sean Connery turkey Medicine Man. Afterwards he left to helm the infamous Last Action Hero.

Surprisingly though that wasn't Disney's last attempt. The studio brought on two new screenwriters to tackle the film-well known fantasy novelist George R.R. Martin (whose novel A Game of Thrones is set to be a HBO series next year) and sci-fi novelist Melinda Snodgrass around 1993-94 (I'm guessing.) I haven't seen their script nor has anyone else that I know but Martin talks about it here http://www.abebooks.com/docs/Fantasy/george-martin.shtml, even though he gives the impression he doesn't think much of Edgar Rice Burroughs or the series itself.

After that, well nothing until 2000 when the ERB fan newsletter The Gridley Wave announced that Disney had dropped the project and the film rights were up for grabs. The rights were eventually snapped up by Paramount around 2002-03. And unlike Disney they didn't waste any time attaching a director and writer: Robert Rodriguez, the indie wunderkind behind El Mariachi and the Spy Kids series and writer Mark Protosevich, whose only credit at the time was the Jennifer Lopez thriller The Cell (since then he wrote the Will Smith I Am Legend and is a writer on the upcoming Thor.) Two other names were also mentioned in connection with the project at the time-Aint It Cool News mastermind Harry Knowles, who was attached as producer and legendary artist Frank Frazetta. In his tribute to Frazetta posted here http://www.aintitcool.com/node/45023 Knowles mentions that while his health prevented any contribution artistically, Frazetta had agreed to oversee the concept artists working on the project. Well this first attempt fell apart, thanks indirectly to Frank Miller (Isn't that been the case for so much?) Prior to starting, Rodriguez has just finished Sin City and wanted Miller to share co-directing credit, something the Directors Guild of America objected to. In response Rodriguez resigned from the guild, which led Paramount (who apparently has a company policy to use only guild members) to have to replace him.

Our next director and writer brought on board also I'm sure raised eyebrows-Kerry Conran, who had just helmed Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow and writer Ehren Kruger, best known for thrillers like The Ring and Scream 3. This one also fell apart but for reasons that I have not ever discovered. I'm sure Sky Captain's poor box-office probably played a factor. Interestingly this one seems to have had the most work leak out online-the script, test animation by Steve Meyer, concept art by Raafel Kayaan, and some recent photos of a Thark sculpture by FX artist John Cox. (Most of this I have linked to in previous posts and the review of the script is coming soon.)

The final stab at Paramount came once again with an unlikely director-a pre-Iron Man Jon Favreau. He brought on board writer Mark Fergus (who after his time on the project would co-writer the scripts for Children of Men and Iron Man, as well as Favreau's upcoming Cowboys and Aliens.) This time around it was the studio that pulled the plug. Now I've heard conflicting reasons for this-a corporate shakeup at the studio; a new head at the time who disliked the project; Paramount deciding to save money and resurrect their own sci-fi property Star Trek and Favreau leaving to do Iron Man. I had hoped that Favreau would have returned-especially after the brilliant work on Iron Man but obviously that wasn't to be. We did get to see some of the artwork for his version by artist Phil Saunders (used above and again linked in previous posts).

And that brings us up to 2007, when Disney reacquired the rights, hired Andrew Stanton and the film now set for 2012. And let's not forget Asylum, who beat them to the punch and got their version out last year (since I'm sure Stanton and Disney will act like their version is the first version ever made.) It's been a long road to get to this point and we'll just have to wait and see if the wait was worth it.

Retro View: Flash Gordon


Who's ready to go to Mongo?

The world is having problems. An unidentified planet is hurtling through space on an apparent collision course with Earth, which leads to mass hysteria. Traveling home to be with his father, famed polo player Flash Gordon (Larry "Buster" Crabbe) meets lovely Dale Arden (Jean Rogers) as they both have to bail out of their plane when it hits bad weather. And of course they happen to land right near a rocket ship created by Hans Zarkov (Frank Shannon) and agree to go on his mad mission to save the world. And you can figure out the rest-they land on that unidentified planet called Mongo and meet the Emperor Ming (Charles Middleton) who decides to send Zarkov to his lab, marry Dale and get rid of that annoying blond guy until Ming's daughter Aura (Priscilla Lawson) gets the hots for our hero which helps him escape and establish ties with Thun the Lion Man, the rightful heir to Mongo's throne Prince Barin (Richard Alexander) and the boisterous Vultan (John Lipson), king of the Hawkmen in his attempt to save Earth. Will he succeed? Well considering I'm reviewing the three backwards I guess you can tell how it turns out in the last chapter.

I have to admit a soft spot for old Flash Gordon. He is-outside of John Carter-probably the best space hero ever created-a normal guy fighting to save the galaxy, rescue the hot babe and stop the bad guy's evil plot. It makes sense that virtually every "pulp" sci-fi creation since Alex Raymond's creation made his debut in the funny pages in 1934-from Star Trek to Star Wars to Avatar-owes more than a passing tribute to Flash, who himself was pretty much influenced by Edgar Rice Burroughs. And I have a soft spot for this serial as well, even with its uneven acting, effects that seem laughable compared to today's technical wizardry and the bizarre lack of pants on the male characters.

What is probably most surprising is how faithful it is to Raymond's strip. The characters and the plot are all presented pretty much as they were in the comics, which is a rarity then and even now. The biggest scene stealer is Middleton who brings Ming-with all of his Fu Manchu influence-to life in a way that wouldn't make it past the PC Police today (if you doubt it, just remember how boring Ming was in that awful Sci-Fi Channel series from a few years ago.) Middleton is almost upstaged by both Lipson's funny Vultan (even though I admit to still liking Brian Blessed's take in the 1980 film best) and the female characters' skimpy outfits. As Flash Crabbe hasn't gotten comfortable with the character as he would in the next serial. Here he mostly shows off his athleticism and does have some moments with Rogers that adds some romance-something notably absent in the next two (I guess the kids weren't interested in the smoochy stuff.)

In the end is this the best serial ever made? Possibly (even though I still prefer Flash Gordon's Trip to Mars and Adventures of Captain Marvel). Is it the most fun? Definitely. Rating: **** out of 4.