Monday, March 28, 2011

Mark Strong on Green Lantern and John Carter of Mars Plus a Bonus!


Well it's not much of a bonus but still. First up Empire Magazine's online site scored a brief chat with Mark Strong where he discussed his roles as Sinestro in the upcoming Green Lantern and (straight from the site) "ruler of the Ferns, Matai Shang" in John Carter of Mars http://www.empireonline.com/news/feed.asp?NID=30529. Most of it is discussion of working with the heavy CGI and green screen process and he compares both:“They’re very similar in a sense that they’re like trying to make a jigsaw puzzle with two thirds of the pieces missing because so much of it is CGI. As Andrew Stanton says, ‘I’m not in post, I’m in principle digital photography.’” I wonder if those Ferns are hard to do in digital?


UPDATE APRIL 2: I decided to give you a different bonus: Footage from Green Lantern shown at this week's WonderCon in San Francisco. It looks better than the previous trailer and I hope you enjoy it!

Thursday, March 24, 2011

Thor's Lightning Hammer!


Yes kids, if you always wanted your own Mjolnir to summon the lightning (or annoy your parents) here it is-Thor's Lightning Hammer!

OK I'm just doing this to annoy a friend who has stated he will NOT buy any Thor toys but I hope he at least gets the humor. Also for those who haven't noticed yet two new items have been added to the blog-a "Blogs of Interest" section that's pretty self explanatory and "Top Posts of the Week" which shows the most popular postings (and apparently anything Dejah Thoris related gets a lot of hits.) So after you check out the video below of the Hammer in action take a look and let me know what you think.


Monday, March 21, 2011

The Hobbit Begins Filming!


And here's your first look at Bilbo Baggins' home courtesy of Peter Jackson. The director posted two photos of himself on the set on his Facebook page and you can see the other one at http://www.facebook.com/pages/Peter-Jackson/141884481557. Nothing more needs to be said I think except good luck Mr. Jackson and company and don't let us down.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #5


Another comic book review, this time with big swords!

When we last left John Carter, he had just met the incomparable Dejah Thoris and vowed to hold anyone accountable if harm befalls her. As this issue opens the two share a moonlight stroll where John reveals the truth about himself and then like most guys makes a blunder-guys never ask a woman about her romantic past. He also talks about escaping, plans overheard by the scheming Sarkoja who relates them to Tars Tarkas. As the Tharks make their way home, John finds himself shunned by Dejah and then faces a really big problem-Zad, an o-mad warrior who has a big sword and a bad attitude.

At this point the series has hit a good stride, sticking close to the novel. That does leave readers familiar with the story though little suspense though since we know how it turns out. But after the DC and Marvel series I at least appreciate the effort by Arvid Nelson to tell Burroughs' story in comic book form, without going off on subplots that seem out of place with the narrative or conflict with what Burroughs established.

As for the artwork again artist Lui Antonio does this issue and it's sort of back and forth as far as the characters go. While he does a good John and his Dejah is still attractive (even though I'm falling for Carlos Rafael's version in the Dejah Thoris series) I didn't care much for Zad's appearance-he looks like the Hulk-and Sarkoja's whithered old crone look reminds me of the Crypt Keeper (or possibly Issus from the Weird Worlds series). Still the fight between John and Zad is drawn well and the series has begun to find a good artistic version of Barsoom.

So after five issues, I feel the series has hit its stride pretty well. It's doing a good job portraying the world of Barsoom and while I know there are some who have issues-some don't like the Tharks and how Dejah is drawn-their sticking to Burroughs, which as a fan is something I appreciate. And one final note-the cover shown above by Joe Jusko is my current favorite of the entire series so far and is worth the price just for that alone.

Friday, March 18, 2011

Savage Worlds: Face of Mars RPG


This comes courtesy of the site Marooned - Science Fiction & Fantasy books on Mars (http://sffbooksonmars.blogspot.com/). A company called Adamant Entertainment that specializes in pulp inspired Role Playing Games has just released Face of Mars, the latest RPG game in their Savage Worlds series. And being a sucker for hot Martian babes the cover art definitely caught my eye. You can find out more at http://www.rpgnow.com/product_info.php?cPath=&products_id=89427

Thursday, March 17, 2011

Comic Review: John Carter, Warlord of Mars #16-20


We've reached the halfway point in Marvel's series of Barsoomian adventures. And here we get a new writer, a new storyline and action. Plus Dejah Thoris in a sports bra.

Issue 16 begins The Master Assassin of Mars and opens with a shock: "John Carter is Dead!" Celebrating his second wedding anniversary John drinks some wine and slumps over apparently dead. A slave girl named Daria announces she's guilty and working with a new group the Guild of Assassins but is killed before she can reveal any useful information. With Helium in mourning Dejah Thoris vows vengeance and heads off to find the people responsible. But in true Burroughsian fashion, John isn't dead, his Earthly metabolism counteracting the poison (at least according to his doctor). When he finds out Dejah has went off on her quest he flies after her and the two are reunited and well as John puts it "I won't dwell on what happened next" (I guess those fliers have fold out sleeping silks and furs.) But before they can return home John notices a huge canyon that suddenly causes Dejah to panic and tell him to turn around quickly. But it's too late-strong winds smack into them and cause them to crash. And be found by some "shapes moving towards" them.

And those shapes? Well issue 17 "What Price Victory?" reveals them to be men with wings! One carries off Dejah and John is eventually overtaken and they fly off. Eventually John wakes up in a palatial bedroom and all is revealed: they are Orovars the mythical beings who once inhabited Barsoom, only in this case they have mutated into giants with wings and are living in the land of Karanthor. John quickly meets Gar Karus, Jedwar of the armies and Garthon, a regular size Orovar who is Gar Karus' son and tells him not to reveal his marriage to Dejah. Along the way John discovers that the red people are seen as an inferior race by the Wing Men and that Dejah is in the slave pits. But when she comes up for auction, John attempts to buy her but gets into a scuffle with another warrior which causes the cruel leader of the Wing Men, Chan Tomar to buy her for himself. Can John overcome his loss and rescue his true love?

"Meanwhile, Back in Helium" (as issue 18 is titled) Tars Tarkas finds himself with is own problems-he has been challenged for leadership of the Tharks by Barak, a Thark who feels that the Tharks should not work with the Red Men of Barsoom. Tars reluctantly agrees to fight him and leaves Helium for their duel. Arriving in the dead city of Maharn Tars and Barak duel only to be interrupted by strange hands coming out of the ground and both men have to save each other from this new threat.

We return to John and Dejah in issue 19-"The Valiant Die But Once" to find John has risen in ranks thanks to his skills and white skin among Gar Karus' army. But his anger seeing Dejah with Chan Tomar bubbles over and he confronts Dejah whose attempts to explain why she's with Chan Tomar falls on deaf ears. Heading off John is attacked by friends of the wing man he fought in issue 17 but he is rescued by Garthon who tells John the story of the Orovars and how they ended up in Karanthor. John also finds out the Garthon is in love with a red slave named Hira. But John and Garthon soon face a new problem-an attack by the Ptothians, a race of savages that intend to destroy Karanthor.

And that's pretty much the plot of issue 20 "Battle at the Bottom of the World!" As John and Garthon lead the battle they are able to beat back the Ptothians. John also finds out why Gar Karus dislikes his son-his lack of wings and his love of poetry and gardening. Eventually the Ptothains retreat and John decides it's time to rescue Dejah and leave. Garthon agrees to help, revealing a secret passage out of the city and back to the outside world. But when John goes to get Dejah Chan Tomar is ready....

With the exit of writer Marv Wolfman after issue 15, Marvel brought in a new writer-Chris Claremont, who would become famous later for reviving the Uncanny X-Men and turning it into one of Marvel's most durable franchises. And with these opening issues of his run, Claremont does a pretty good job. In fact it's pretty close to a standard Burroughs novel-a new country, treachery, lecherous bad guys, John Carter in all his sword clanging heroics. I also liked the stand alone issue of Tars Tarkas-who I felt was getting short changed before-and the introduction of the Guild of Assassins, which Burroughs had introduced in Swords of Mars, so it ties in nicely.

Not to say there isn't some flaws-the biggest being Dejah Thoris herself. She goes quickly from grieving widow to vengeance seeking a little too quickly to be believable and then her sudden change to Chan Tomar's love slave seems out of character with the woman we've seen so far. Also while I liked the use of the Orovars the Wing Men concept is too Flash Gordon for my tastes. And why in the Tars issue the demon hands? I also couldn't help but wonder about Garthon-a poetry loving gardener? Does Barsoom even have tree hugging hippies?

Art wise these issues use one continuing artist-Ernie Colan-who brings a nice design and a steady look to the series. His drawings of John and Dejah are quite good while the battle scenes are handled brilliantly. For issue 17, though a "guest penciler" (as it is noted in the credits) was brought in-the one and only Frank Miller and he brings a great look to Tars Tarkas and the issue as a whole. So to sum up, these issues are pretty first rate, even if they do have their quirks-yes Dejah Thoris in a sports bra and panties which seems modest compared to her recent "outfit" in the Dynamite series. Oh well it was the 1970s so we'll let it go.

Sunday, March 13, 2011

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #1


Again a clever opening eludes me so let's just jump into the Princess of Helium's first solo comic adventure. And yes there will be spoilers.

Titled "The Colossus of Mars" the storyline opens 437 years before John Carter's arrival on Barsoom. The state of Helium is split by a civil war between Greater and Lesser Helium with the latter being led by the Jed Tardors Mors and his son Mors Kojak. Things are beginning to look up and victory seems assured when they receive a visit from an envoy of the Jeddak of Yorn who offers a deal to stop the war-have his son marry Dejah Thoris. Thinking this will end the war she agrees and before too long meets her future husband to be-a clumsy somewhat pudgy fellow named Dor Valian. But it's isn't too long before the Jeddak's real agenda is revealed-he captures the leaders of both sides and announces he will be taking control of all of Helium. And if that isn't enough...well let's just say there's something underneath his plans.

I have to admit it's hard to judge a series based on just the first issue. But I have a feeling this might split some. First the good stuff-the artwork by Carlos Rafael is pretty good-in fact as much as I thought Dejah Thoris looked good in the current Warlord of Mars series, Rafael delivers an even better Dejah-she manages to look both sexy and beautiful at the same time, even though I'm sure there will be some complaints about her twin Heliums (if you catch my drift). Her character of a proud noble princess is also well handled by writer Arvid Nelson in the dialogue and her actions. So in this case Dejah herself comes across well.

But there were some problems-first up the Jeddak of Yorn seems a little weak as a villain. In fact he almost seems too similar to Than Kosis from A Princess of Mars-an enemy who uses the marriage of his son to Dejah to gain his goals. Also Rafael draws him almost looking like Ming the Merciless! I also had problems with the comedic aspects of the clumsy son as well if only because it's an old cliche. And the final page seems to come out of left field. But I'm willing to cut that some slack until I see how the story ultimately plays out in the future issues. Again most of this is just not knowing yet where the series is going. I had a similar reaction to the first issue of Warlord of Mars as well and so far that series has improved so it's possible these kinks could be worked out by the next issue.

In the end this first issue at least delivers a hot Dejah but I need to see where it goes before I can judge it a success. I do feel that this series will probably play better for those unfamiliar with the books more than die hard fans who probably have their own ideas of what Dejah was doing before John arrived. We'll just have to see where it goes from here.

Friday, March 11, 2011

Conan Teaser Trailer


And it's a tease all right. But here you go, the first glimpse of the upcoming Conan the Barbarian with Jason Momoa. Not much to see, but you do get some demons, a hot babe and Momoa speaking. Let's just hope the next trailer has more in it.


Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Jusko Paints "Dejah Thoris"


I guess Comic Book Resources just can't get enough of the Princess of Helium today. First up are some preview pages from issue 1 of Warlord of Mars: Dejah Thoris http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=7989 which hits comic stores tomorrow (Wednesday, March 9). Also from CBR is "Process of the Artist: Jusko Paints "Dejah Thoris" in which we get a look behind the scenes with artist Joe Jusko, showing his work from initial sketch to the final painted cover for issue 3 of the series http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=31197. It's definitely worth a look for anyone interested in the artistic process, the decisions that go into a comic book cover or for any fan of Jusko.

Saturday, March 5, 2011

Dueling Thor Posters




Yes it's two Gods of Thunder! All that's missing is Gene Simmons singing. As you can tell the top one is the latest poster for Marvel's big budget epic with star Chris Hemsworth covered in red paint while the second one is from our old pals at the Asylum with their Thor-actor Cody Deal-wielding a really big hammer. There is also some stills from this version at http://www.theasylum.cc/product.php?id=183

Thursday, March 3, 2011

Retro View: Excalibur


It's been a while since the last "retro view" so let's take a trip to Camelot (and no we won't be eating ham, jam or spam a lot).

It is a period of civil war between two factions, one led by Uther Pendragon (Gabriel Byrne) and the other by the Duke of Cornwall. In order to end the conflict the wizard Merlin (Nicol Williamson) brings forth the sword Excalibur from the sacred Lady of the Lake which ends the fighting. But Uther's lust for the Duke's wife causes trouble as he forces Merlin to help him get one night with her. Merlin uses the "Charm of Making" to change Uther into the Duke and he get his night but there are problems-the real duke is killed. Uther becomes king and the lady bears his son Arthur who is taken by Merlin as payment. Afterwards Uther is killed but not before driving Excalibur into a stone. Years pass and at a tournament a young Arthur (Nigel Terry) unaware of his heritage pulls the sword free and is declared king. Merlin also returns and if you know your mythology you can guess the rest-the formation of Camelot and the Knights of the Round Table; Arthur's marriage to Guinevere (Cherie Lunghi) and the fall of the kingdom due to Guinevere's love for Lancelot (Nicholas Clay); the quest for the Holy Grail and Arthur's last stand.

By 1981 when Excalibur was released the last few attempts at the Arthurian legend ranged from the overblown movie musical Camelot, Disney's The Sword and the Stone and Monty Python's take. In this case director John Boorman decided to stick to Sir Thomas Malory's Le Morte D'Arthur for his film and we get all the familiar elements story wise. There are some notable changes-the combining of the characters Morgause and Morgan La Fay into Morgana (played by a young and really hot Helen Mirren) and a borrowing from the Tristan and Isolde story when Arthur thrusts Excalibur between the sleeping bodies of Lancelot and Guinevere after their night of infidelity. Even with those changes it still sticks to the legend-no attempts to remove the fantasy elements like the abysmal Clive Owen/Keira Knightley version. Nor is there an attempt to tone it down for kids-we get violent battle scenes, infidelity, incest and Guinevere nude. In short things that would have made Walt Disney flinch.

The film also looks fantastic with lush design and camera work, all shot around Boorman's home in Ireland. Boorman also uses classic music by Carl Orff and Richard Wagner to give the movie an epic feel. Where the film seems a little off is in the performances. As Arthur Terry gives his all and Lunghi makes for a sweet and in the end sympathetic Guinevere but both of them are upstaged by Williamson's eccentric take on Merlin-part wise sage, angry old man and comic clown-and Mirren's sexy Morgana. They both dominate the film leaving the leads little to do but try to keep up. You can also spot a young Liam Neeson as Sir Gawain, Patrick Stewart as Guinevere's father Leondegrance and Ciaran Hinds as a member of the Round Table named Lot.

Is this the best movie based on the legend? Probably. Or at least the best without the Gorge of Eternal Peril. Rating: **** out of 4.

Tuesday, March 1, 2011

James Purefoy on Solomon Kane and John Carter of Mars


A little early morning news before you go to work. The website Den of Geek has posted a pretty good interview with the ultra busy James Purefoy http://www.denofgeek.com/movies/791457/james_purefoy_interview_ironclad_solomon_kane_john_carter_of_mars_007_and_more.html. Most of the interview is about the upcoming medieval action flick Ironclad but he did talk about both Solomon Kane and John Carter of Mars. On Kane he admits he doesn't know if a sequel will be forthcoming and admits "I don’t know what’s happening with any release in America" while most of the talk about John Carter concerns filming with the visual effects and how "this is a film I can’t wait to see, because I don’t know what’s going on behind me!"