Saturday, October 29, 2011

John Carter "Fun Facts" and Character Bios


With the recent announcement that the movie is "locked," I guess we should be seeing word of a new trailer and more images from John Carter soon. In the meantime a site called Stitch Kingdom has posted character descriptions and facts released by Disney http://www.stitchkingdom.com/disney-john-carter-character-descriptions-fun-facts-18249/. Some of the descriptions sound good (especially the Tharks), some confirm early speculation (Tardors Mors (Ciaran Hinds) is Dejah Thoris' father in this one) and others...am I the only one tired of hearing John Carter described as "broken" and "damaged?" Oh well take a look and see what you think. (Thanks to the Unofficial John Carter movie site http://www.jcofmars.com/ for the link.)

Tuesday, October 25, 2011

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #11


Yep, another comic book review for the week.

As this issue opens Dejah Thoris and Sola question a servant named Okat, who tells them he was arranging John Carter's possessions on the order of the palace steward Vem Drost when he found the mysterious amulet that was discovered in the last issue. But it looks like Vem Drost has disappeared. Meanwhile Carthoris and Tars Tarkas are attacked by a group of Warhoons who plan on holding the duo to their arena for deadly sport. Luckily Kantos Kan and and his scouts rescue them and allow them to go on their way. Cutting back, we find Dejah engaged in a game of Jetan with the Holy Hekkador of the Therns where she asks him about their history until Zat Arras arrives with news about finding Vem Drost, stuffed into a locker. Finally reaching the Atmosphere Factory, Carthoris and Tars find the caretaker's assistant, injured and babbling about the Therns, Plant Men and a valley and that "there is more than one. Not so special now..." With that cryptic warning, the pair find another amulet and an the hope that the truth lies in a mysterious journal...

With the second issue of "The Heretic of Mars" plot line, Arvid Nelson is doing an interesting job bridging the two first two Barsoom novels. The mention of the Valley Dor and the actual nightmare it holds is a good build up to what we know is coming, as is the attempts by Zat Arras to carry favor with Dejah Thoris. The mystery angle adds tension and helps expand what was going on during John Carter's absence. I know some fans may not like this fill in the blank approach but for those who've enjoyed the series so far it's fitting in well.

Helping move the story along is Stephen Sandowski's artwork. He captures the savage battle between Carthoris, Tars Tarkas and the Warhoons exceedingly well, as well as capturing the characters well. Granted the backgrounds are a little bland, lacking the vibrancy you would expect of Barsoom but that's the only complaint I have about the work. All in all another entertaining issue. And one more to go before John Carter's return so Carter fans hold on.

Monday, October 24, 2011

Comic Review: John Carter-A Princess of Mars #2


Sorry for the lack of updates in the last few days. But I'm back and with a look at the second issue of Marvel's take on Edgar Rice Burroughs. Unfortunately those looking for an improvement won't find it here.

After a brief recap of the first issue where John Carter overuses the word "amazing", we jump in as he meets the Princess Dejah Thoris-who promptly spits on him (yep that's a way to make her updated). Afterwards the story follows the novel with her "trial" in front of Lourquas Ptomel and John earning his chief status. We also meet Sarkoja whose hatred for both John and Dejah leads to a duel between John and the Thark Zad that...Look you read the novel you know how it goes.

Sorry for the snark but I was guess after the lackluster first issue I was hoping that maybe it was a fluke and this one would be a vast improvement. Sadly no such luck. First Roger Landridge's writing makes it clear the book is really being aimed at younger readers who apparently will relate to a braggart boasting of being "amazing" and being a "fearless hero and all." While John Carter would become boastful later on (after all he was the greatest swordsman of two worlds), here it just gives the reader-especially the first time reader-an unlikable character to root for. Also a spitting Dejah Thoris? Turning her into a blitzing warrior maybe pushing things, but her dignity went out the window with her saliva. As for Filipe Andrade's artwork? Sorry folks still not sold on it. When you can't turn out a drawing of the most beautiful woman of two worlds you know you're in trouble.

So in closing I have pretty much the same reaction as I did for the first issue-it's an empty money grab meant to appeal to undiscriminating youngsters. My suggestion if you want to introduce the world of John Carter and Dejah Thoris to young readers just give them a copy of Edgar Rice Burroughs' A Princess of Mars. If anything it's better written and whatever cover art is on it is bound to be better than this.

Wednesday, October 19, 2011

New Sherlock Holmes 2 Trailer


More explosions, Moriarty, the return of Rachel McAdams' Irene Adler and well just watch and you'll see the rest.


Monday, October 17, 2011

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars-Fall of Barsoom #3


Sorry for the late review. I needed a few days off from Barsoom but now I'm ready to go.

Last seen getting a sword to the body, Orovar General Van Dun Bor survives and finds the green men declaring victory of the city Thark. After finding a thoat, he rides on, only to find an Orovar convoy under siege, this time from rogue Orovars who have been driven from their home. Driving them off, Van Dun and the soldiers prepare a trap for the oncoming green men to slow them down. Meanwhile at the Atmosphere Factory, scientist Tak Nan Lee continues his work to get the factory running, but a rising conflict between the Orovars and the captured red woman Anouk causes problems. And unknown to anyone the plant is being watched...

Following my review of John Carter-World of Mars, I decided to take some time before jumping into this issue. As is the case with most limited series, issue 3 is more setup than payoff, showing the breakdown of the Orovars, the rise of the Tharks as a separate race from the Warhoons and the struggle to get the Atmosphere Factory ready before tragedy strikes. Writer Robert Napton does a good job of balancing the plots and keeping the reader interested. He's help by artist Roberto Castro whose work captures the falling planet and its races well.

I know this review seems brief but I honestly can't say anything bad about this issue. I did enjoy World of Mars more but as far as this series goes it's still a fun and entertaining read for Barsoom fans.

Friday, October 14, 2011

Comic Review: John Carter-World of Mars #1


OK here it is! The question is how good is it? Well read on to see...

We open with John Carter recounting his life and his arrival on Barsoom and learning about the planet's past from both the Princess Dejah Thoris and the Thark warrior Tars Tarkas who relate their separate, yet interwoven tales. As the real story opens the city states of Helium and Zodanga are at war. So are Zodanga's ruler Than Kosis and his son and successor Sab Than, who feels that his father is unfairly treating him. But after thrashing a few soldiers, Sab is banished for a week and sets upon a quest to prove his right to rule and to upstage his father. Meanwhile in the Thark territory we meet Tars and Tal Hajus-here friends under an aging Jeddak. Tal Hajus feels that the Jeddak is growing old, weak and overweight and reveals his strategy to win the throne-by going after the rumored Gothan, a vicious Warhoon who has reputedly survived for centuries by feasting on those he kills. And he wants Tars to help him in his quest. Finally we remeet Dejah, this time playing scientist when she receives an unwelcome visitor...

I have to admit I was weary when this series was first announced. Maybe it was the fact that it seemed like another cash-in by Marvel and Disney to tie-in to the upcoming John Carter movie. Or maybe it was the fact that I was growing cynical after hearing so much about the movie that wasn't encouraging. And following the lackluster first issue of John Carter-A Princess of Mars I figured this one would be another tossed off comic. Well surprise: This one actually rocks! First up the smartest thing was hiring Peter David. Having enjoyed his past work, he manages to keep the story moving while easily cutting between stories. I especially loved the section on Tars Tarkas and Tal Hajus and establishing a friendship that we know is doomed to failure. Also David throws in little touches from the novel-like John Carter referring to himself as Captain Jack Carter and the presence of Than Kosis-that I'm sure fans will get a kick out of. I admit that the change of Than Kosis and Sab Than's relationship might put off some fans, but I actually like that there is tension between them and Sab Than's attempts to prove his worth. The only negative I can think of is the last page and well let's just say blitzing. Even with that misstep David gets an A plus on the writing side.

On the art side, well this is where I'm torn. Not because of Luke Ross' work though. In fact it's pretty nice. He captures the Tharks well and thankfully makes them look alien and unique-not the "Hulks" of the Dynamite version nor the silly looking ones of the Princess comic. He also captures the likenesses of the characters well-John Carter does look like Taylor Kitsch. And the brief shots of Zodanga and Helium are cool. Where I'm torn is well what I've been snarking about for a while now-those damn tattoos. And yes they still look awful, even in comic book form. Especially the one slapped on Sab Than's face. I also have to ask-is that supposed to be a thoat we see John and Tars riding on the third page? It looks awfully bulky. Also the Heliumites most love those feather things on their air craft since this one we get a one man flier with things on it-it resembles a spider creature crossed with the speeder bikes from Return of the Jedi. Still Ross manages to make it colorful and appealing to the eye which is the important thing.

I guess to wrap up, it's best to approach this series for what it is: a prequel to a movie. I admit that I have my issues with what I've seen and heard about the movie but to my surprise that didn't stop me from enjoying this issue. I hope the remaining issues (and I guess Marvel decided to cut it short, the front mentions that this is a four issue series, not the five originally announced) prove just as fun.

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Thor 2 Gets A New Date And Director


For those waiting for the next solo adventure of the God of Thunder, well you have to wait a little longer. Disney has announced that Thor 2 will be moving from July 26, 2013 to November 15 of that year. Apparently Disney needs the date for their animated Phineas and Ferb movie. Coming Soon has the announcements here http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=83154 along with the new date for the back from the dead Lone Ranger movie. I wonder if those need to make $700 million bucks to get sequels? UPDATE: Following up the new release date, Marvel has announced the new director for the film: Patty Jenkins, best known for the drama Monster with Charlize Theron and episodes of the AMC TV series The Killing will be taking over the reins for the sequel. You can read the full story at http://www.deadline.com/2011/10/toldja-patty-jenkins-confirmed-as-thor-2-director/

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Craig Brewer Talks Tarzan


Here's some news for you ape-man fans: The site I Am Rogue has an interview up with writer/director Craig Brewer (currently doing publicity for his Footloose remake) where he talks about his plans for Warner Bros' new Tarzan film. Among the information revealed, Brewer had just turned in the script and is excited to be working on the film: "I am so excited about it because I just turned my script into the studio last Friday. I’m waiting to see what they think. My producing team loves it, and some other people at the studio have read it so I’m waiting to see. I can tell you it’s the best thing that I’ve ever written. I hope they’re going to let me do it because I really think we are going to make an incredible Tarzan. So I’m hoping to do it." He also reveals that the film "definitely doesn’t take place in a modern context. I was a big fan of the Edgar Rice Burroughs’ books and it takes place in the African Congo around the turn of the century so it’s the classic legend." You can read the rest at http://www.iamrogue.com/news/interviews/item/4962-iar-exclusive-interview-director-craig-brewer-talks-tarzan.html

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

John Carter Needs $700 Million


If you want a sequel. That's according to an article on Slash Film http://www.slashfilm.com/john-carter-700-million-earn-sequel/ that quotes a profile of Andrew Stanton that the New Yorker has done. The article admits there are some stumbling blocks in the way-an unproven leading man in Taylor Kitsch, a bland title that tells the audience nothing, a lack of audience buzz despite the film being 5 months away from release and mixed reactions to both the trailer and the footage shown at the D23 Expo. The article does point out though that Avatar faced similar issues and still conquered the box office, not to mention Stanton's Pixar history and the possibility of a big marketing push over the holidays so we'll see. So do you think John Carter can make that much at the box office? UPDATE: More info has come out from the New Yorker piece, this time from the site The Playlist http://blogs.indiewire.com/theplaylist/archives/john_carter_had_a_lengthy_18_day_reshoot_to_improve_correct_story_issues/, which reveals that the film underwent "a lengthy" 18 days of reshoots after the Pixar team watched and critiqued a three hour rough cut of the film. Among the problems was "a rather drab opening sequence in which the details of the Barsoomian wars on Mars are explained" which Stanton reworked down into an opening "battle between Zodangans and Therns" (OK anyone got an explanation for where that came from?). Also the article reveals that the film did receive a positive response at a test screening in July but voices concerns that the film might end up like this past summer's Cowboys and Aliens as another high concept box office disappointment.

Sunday, October 9, 2011

New John Carter Pic!


OK how about some late news? The site Comic Book Movie has posted a scan from the current issue of the British movie magazine Total Film http://www.comicbookmovie.com/fansites/Wolvie09/news/?a=47819&t=New_Image_From_iJohn_Carteri_Featuring_Taylor_Kitsch_as_the_Main_Character, showing us a new pic of John Carter (Taylor Kitsch) looking a little bruised and with what looks like a chain behind him. Take a peak and let us know what you think. UPDATE: Total Film has now released the image officially as well as some brief comments from director Andrew Stanton http://www.totalfilm.com/news/exclusive-new-john-carter-image. Sorry for the low-res quality of the pic. Hopefully a high resolution version will surface soon.

Comic Review: Dejah Thoris #7


A little piracy for your Sunday.

When we last left off, Dejah had just been captured by Phondari, the Pirate Queen of Barsoom, and her band of cutthroats on their ship, the Jedessa's Revenge. As this issue opens their ship is attacked by a bigger craft. Facing capture, Phondari agrees to release Dejah, who quickly using her golden wings joins the fight, but are out numbered and captured. Eventually we meet the captain of the bigger ship: Xen Brega, another pirate who has a history with Phondari. After revealing he has also capture Dejah's men from the Helium Pumping Station, he sends Dejah, Phondari and her crew to be prepared for dinner...

At this point I figure the best way to approach the Dejah Thoris series is the same way I approached the 1970s Marvel John Carter: Warlord of Mars series as a mixed success. Like that series, the strongest asset is the artwork, here done by Carlos Rafael that manages to catch the eye-and not just because it has scantly clad women (even though that doesn't hurt). The attack on the Jedessa's Revenge is well handled, and the ship design for Xen Brega's ship is pretty cool, if maybe a little too Star Wars.

On the flip side is the storyline. While the story so far doesn't reach the low points of say the Wingmen section of the "Master Assassin of Mars" run from the Marvel series, it still has some storytelling issues. Again the problem could be trying to review it on an issue by issue basis without knowing how the story will end, leaving the reader with an unfinished chunk. Part of it could also be the fact that since this is story takes place prior to John Carter's arrival we know that Dejah will make it through, robbing the reader of any potential suspense as to the outcome. It can be hard to get invested when we know that our hero won't face any real perils. That said Arvid Nelson's writing is sharp and at least manages to capture the pulpy tone well.

I'll end with the same recommendation from my review of the previous issue-give it a look at the store and if you seem interested go for it.

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Taylor Kitsch Talks John Carter Audition


I'll cut to the chase-MTV has posted some video clips from an interview with John Carter himself talking about his work in the upcoming film and other films. In this case you can watch his discussion about the audition process and how he prepared to land the role below (thanks to the Unofficial John Carter Movie site http://www.jcofmars.com/ for the original link. UPDATE: As mentioned in the comments, the video won't play for people outside the US. Sorry about that folks. Luckily MTV has posted a breakdown of what Kitsch says right here http://www.mtv.com/news/articles/1672088/john-carter-taylor-kitsch.jhtml. Hope that helps.


Tuesday, October 4, 2011

John Carter PR Event: Tharks and Props!


As usual I'm running late with this news. The site Showbiz Cafe has posted up some pics from another press screening of footage from John Carter, this time around showing off costumes, weapons and space ships maquettes and even a life size Thark. Unfortunately no descriptions of the footage shown were allowed (thanks to the paranoids who run Disney) so we'll just have to make do with the pics. You can see the rest at http://showbizcafe.com/en/news/disneys-john-carter-exclusive-sneak-peak-look/2554



UPDATE: A few more pics, this time from the site Just Jared http://justjared.buzznet.com/2011/10/04/taylor-kitsch-lynn-collins-john-carter-preview/ showing off maquettes of a baby Thark, a Great White Ape (which resembles the one shown for the upcoming John Carter: The World of Mars comic book) and Woola who has come down with a case of the Disney Cutes. So what do you guys think?


Monday, October 3, 2011

Comic Review: The Mighty Thor #6


As usual no snappy opening.

When we last left off, the war between the Asgardians and Galactus has reached a stand still when both the big G and Odin fell to Earth, the latter slipping into the Odinsleep. As this issue opens the citizens of Broxton and the small Asgardian army led by Volstagg confront Galactus who refuses to show mercy. With Thor and the Silver Surfer racing towards Earth, Mjolnir is pulled from Thor's hands and into the hands of the Destroyer who is about to face off against Galactus when he retreats...Or so it seems. Actually the Worldheart Seed that both sides have been fighting over has been stolen by Loki, who has hid it inside the broken World Tree in order to stop the fighting. With both sides at a stand still, Odin agrees to peace but the final resolution rests with a simple human.

Having enjoyed the previous issues in this series, writer Mark Fraction ends "The Galactus Seed" storyline not with a big Marvel bang but rather in a more subtle and touching way. Focusing on the character of Pastor Mike and his own fears about protecting his flock, it adds a human touch to the cosmic action and shows what one man can do to save the world. Fraction also adds a touch to Loki and Thor's relationship and how even one noble act does not erase the past. My only disappointment was the lack of action for the Destroyer-I'm sure others would have enjoyed seeing a smack down between the Destroyer and Galactus.

Also making the issue a visual treat is the artwork by Olivier Coipel whose work has been tops in this series (it makes me wish he was doing the art for A Princess of Mars) as he captures the epic and the intimate details of the story. If you're looking for a good looking comic book this one tops my list.

I just hope the next storyline has been as entertaining as this one has. A final rating of "The Galactus Seed:" ***1/2 out of 4.

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Comic Review: Warlord of Mars #10


Sorry for the lack of updates in the last week. So I'll try to make up for it with some reviews in the next few days. First up, "The Heretic of Mars!"

As this issue opens, it's been some time since John Carter's mysterious disappearance when Dejah is attacked by an assassin at night. But she's rescue by both her son Carthoris and Tars Tarkas. Also arriving on the scene is the new Jeddak of Zodanga, Zat Arras, who Carthoris has already grown to dislike. But things take a turn when an amulet worn by the late keeper of the Atmosphere Factory is found among John Carter's possessions. An emergency meeting of the Jeddaks leads to suspicions that John was responsible for the caretaker's death. When a representative of the Holy Therns offers Dejah and Carthoris the sanctuary of the Temple of Issus until the killer is found, Carthoris plans his own investigation at the Factory. But before he leaves Tars Tarkas agrees to go with him, leaving Dejah and Sola at the Temple and possibly in more danger than before...

Planned as a three issue arc that to bridge the gap between A Princess of Mars and The Gods of Mars, this issue opens well with the attempt on Dejah's life, the introduction of both Carthoris-who has reached at least adolescence in Barsoomian fashion-and Zat Arras, as well as bring in the Therns into the storyline. Again writer Arvid Nelson shows he has done his homework by setting up plot threads from Burroughs-Zat Arras attempts to gain Dejah's favor for example-even though a brief mention that Matai Shang has "taken an interest in the Helium Princess" doesn't seem to fit the character's latter threat to hand her over to his generals or the First Born Thurid in The Warlord of Mars. Then again that plot could be more revealed in the next two issues. I'm sure there will be the die hard fans who will balk at the setup and the attempts to fill in the gaps and others might enjoy it.

As for the artwork, this issue sees the return of Stephen Sandowski to the interior art (and the cover art shown above) and he does a pretty good job of keeping the earlier designs but tweaking them. He's given Dejah a nice makeover, still retaining her beauty and manages to tone down the "Hulk" Tharks. Admittedly outside of the opening scene, there isn't much action so mostly Sandowski is drawing people standing around and there is some offbeat choices-the Temple of Issus looks like a Mayan temple for example-but he's still a good choice for this run.

So to wrap up this review, I guess we'll have to wait and see how it ties together. As I said some might enjoy this "what if" approach to the time between John Carter's departure and return and others might not. If you want a brief preview go here and you can see http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=9899.