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.)