Tuesday, October 30, 2012
Yep that disturbance you felt was real. Several sites have confirmed that the Walt Disney Company has purchased Lucasfilm Lmd from George Lucas and has announced the start of a new Star Wars trilogy to begin in 2015. Coming Soon has the full press release here http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=96524 and has comments from Lucas, including his plans to pass on the series to a new generation of filmmakers. The site also has a video of Lucas and new Lucasfilm chief Kathleen Kennedy talking about the Future of Star Wars so take a peek.
Sunday, October 28, 2012
This weekend's other comic book review. Let's just jump in.
After failing to kill Tarzan before, gangster Robert Canler hatches a new plan: Abduct Jane and her father and use them as bait and leave a message for Tarzan where he can find them. And you can figure out the rest-Tarzan arrives and all hell breaks loose. Not much left to say there.
I know this plot description sounds really short but that's pretty much all that happens in this issue. As a bridge between adapting the first and second novels, its been handled well by writer Arvid Nelson, especially in extending Canler's role as Burroughs never did anything with the character afterwards. The story does setup some plot points for the next story arc, including Jane's doubts about Cecil Clayton and a theft involving a possible Russian spy so Nelson is connecting the dots. As for Tarzan he does his usual schtick-beating up bad guys and rescuing Jane.
For the artwork, Sergio Fernandez Davila handles the duties and does a good job with the characters. Given that most of the action takes place in a warehouse there isn't much bright colors or anything that really pops but Davila still manages to keep the action flowing and helps the story move swiftly.
In all not a bad fill-in issue. The next issue promises Tarzan's return to the jungle so we'll see where it goes. Take care and try to stay dry and safe.
Saturday, October 27, 2012
OK the first of two comic book reviews this weekend brings us the "conclusion" to Gulliver Jones' tale...or does it?
After helping John Carter rescue Dejah Thoris from the Thithers last time, Gulliver decided to check out Barsoom's future, landing in the 29th century, only to discover that it's not how he thought it would be as he discovers Earthmen on Mars. Thanks to a "great catastrophe" the Earth has been destroyed and now Jasoomians are Terra forming Mars into another Earth and eliminating any remaining Barsoomian. Thinking Gulliver is a spy, an evil colonel has a "worm" implanted in his brain and dumps in the remains of Helium. Here he finds the last resistance being led by the last descendant of John Carter and Dejah Thoris: Dejah Carter, Warlord of Barsoom. Soon enough the bad guys arrive and Gulliver has to prove his worth to the distrusting Dejah and her Thark ally Tarkan Dar, leading to a new chapter in his life.
Yeah I know. It sounds like Edgar Rice Burroughs and Edwin Lester Arnold meets Ray Bradbury's The Martian Chronicles with a dash of Avatar (the evil military colonel ready to slaughter the indigenous population) thrown in. For a first issue this would be a compelling opener but for what is being hyped as a last issue of a mini series its a little much. Let me restate that, its too much. In fact my major complaint here-and it applies to the series as a whole-is that it seems like there was three separate series planned and then condensed into one five issue series, leaving this reader with a serious case of whiplash. Robert Napton does his best here trying to balance the pieces but I feel this should have been separate from the get-go with a five issue adaptation of Gulliver of Mars, another series where he meets John Carter and this one as an the first chapter in a new series.
On the art front though, artist Jack Jadson still delivers a nice and pleasing look to the characters and some unique designs even if there is some bizarre choices. I don't know about you but being told its the 29th century and having Earthmen flying around in outfits that look like a cross between Buck Rogers and The Rocketeer would seem a little strange. Still it has been well drawn series from start to finish so Jadson gets a solid "A" in that department.
I'll wrap up here by giving Warriors of Mars a **1/2 out of 4. The artwork has been great but trying to condense three stories into one miniseries leaves little breathing room and not a lot of time to explore. Maybe this issue's ending is a setup for a continuing series of adventures which would be good since I hate to think its ending on such a note of uncertainty. I'll be back tomorrow.
Thursday, October 25, 2012
Apparently it's official. Deadline has confirmed that Arnold Schwarzenegger will reprise his role as the Cimmerian in The Legend of Conan, with a release date of 2014 being announced by Universal Pictures and Paradox Entertainment. As for the plot, the film's writer Chris Morgan told Deadline it will pick up after John Milius' 1982 original and ignore the campy Conan the Destroyer and last year's reboot with Jason Momoa. For more info, including comments from Arnold himself check out http://www.deadline.com/2012/10/arnold-and-conan-the-barbarian-reunited-universal-reboots-action-franchise-with-schwarzenegger/
Wednesday, October 24, 2012
OK it's time to vote in the most important election of the year-Best Superhero! Yep despite whining about that cave of gold, Taylor Kitsch has landed a nomination in this category at the People's Choice Awards and the voting is now online at http://www.peopleschoice.com/pca/nominations/vote.jsp?pollId=120015. He's facing some stiff competition from Christian Bale's Batman and the entire cast of The Avengers (except Agent Coulson, start protesting!) but that's still some good news for fans. So take the time and vote (and you have to vote in every category for it to count, so you'll need some time).
Monday, October 22, 2012
Saturday, October 20, 2012
This week's comic adventure finds our intrepid princess facing her most dangerous foe yet. She took down a colossus, fought pirates, and faced possession by a witch and her own self banishment. But can Dejah Thoris stop the Vampire Men of Saturn?!?!?
Opening in a dream state, Dejah finds herself pulled back to reality when she remembers seeing a strange ship in the sky of Barsoom and being taken prisoner. She awakens to find herself a prisoner of the Vathek, a race from the sixth planet in our solar system (Dejah calls it Xasoom, to them its Strio). Landing on the moon Titan (or Vona) she finds an ally in Svero, a member of another race called the Palidor. He reveals that the Vanthek became infected with a plague that has caused their condition and are now planning to seek out new blood supplies with Barsoom their first stop. Its up to Dejah and Svero to escape and stop their plans, leading to a chase on winged creatures called dyrio that ends with Dejah...well I'll let you find out.
At this point the Dejah Thoris series has been the most divisive of Dynamite's Barsoomian series partly because the stories have went off in some offbeat directions. If it hasn't already happened I have the feeling that this one might be the make or break story arc for some who might have problems seeing Dejah fighting vampire men. On the other hand so far writer Robert Napton does a good job setting up the premise and not resorting to a supernatural explanation as in the Boora Witch arc. In fact the use of a plague as an explanation for the Vanthek brings to mind I Am Legend with its scientific reasoning for vampirism. I'm sure some will quibble over some of the plot twists or usage (Xasoom anyone) but so far so good.
On the art front Debora Carita returns from the previous issue and does a good job, even though I do hope Carlos Rafael returns soon. That said Carita brings a nice style to Vanthek's ships and the dryio. The designs of the Vathek are a little on the predictable side-at this point is there a new way to draw a vampire?-while Svero is actually drawn wearing Flash Gordon's outfit. Otherwise its got the same pleasing, colorful look as before.
I know that "Vampire Men of Saturn" might be pushing it. Even though Edgar Rice Burroughs himself gave us "Skeleton Men of Jupiter" so no one can complain about leaving Barsoom for a while. Fans of the series will I think enjoy this as long as they are open to the cross between Burroughs and Bram Stoker. Besides its October, so sink your teeth in and see what you think.
Friday, October 19, 2012
Sorry for the lack of updates. I've been busy but I do have some reviews coming up. For now I thought I would take a look back at what little merchandise Disney did release from John Carter. I know some of you may ask why if I was mixed on this movie would I? Well despite a century in the public eye there has been little John Carter of Mars memorabilia to buy compared to say Tarzan. So yeah I've bought some of this stuff to satisfy the completest part of me. So with that out of the way...
With its promise of "Stickers, Codes, Puzzles, Mazes" Adventures on Another World was one of three children's activity books that Disney released through Golden Books and the least expensive (2.99). And well it delivers what it promises: Two pages of color stickers; some word scramble codes to be solved; puzzles that reveal secret clues and mazes that among other things reveals Sab Than's evil scheme and what Dotar Sojat means (in Stantonian terms). There's also some blank pages to practice up drawing Tharks, weapons and your very own tattoos.
Now I admit some nostalgia for old coloring books (heck I still have an uncolored Empire Strikes Back book from 1980) so I can see how this book might have some appeal, even though in this day of video games, IPads and other distractions I don't know if kids have the patience to solve puzzles. As for the adult fan what is there to interest them in this book? There is some nice black and white images from the movie, some of which I don't think I've seen released online, including some shots of Carter and Dejah exploring the Thark temple, more shots of the other characters and Lynn Collins showing some leg in her wedding dress.
It's not going to win a spot on any fan's list of prized possessions but given the lackluster work Disney did in this area, fans might want to snatch it up. Next time I'll be back with this week's Barsoomian comic book review and hopefully more news.
Monday, October 15, 2012
Leave it to the New York Comic-Con to provide laughs. In this case Next Movie has posted this humorous video clip showing a despondend John Carter attempting to conquer the convention. Have a good laugh and enjoy!
Saturday, October 13, 2012
Thursday, October 11, 2012
Wednesday, October 10, 2012
More fun from Youtube. In this case, an episode from the 1960s Saturday morning Beatles series that finds the Fab Four falling down a well and ending up in an "inner world" inhabited by dinosaurs, a beautiful princess and a bird like creature ruling over all of them. I don't know if the show's writers got the idea for this one from Edgar Rice Burroughs or not so take a peek and decide for yourself.
Tuesday, October 9, 2012
As anyone knows who reads this site I can have a hard time coming up with witty openings. Here's one of those instances, so let's take a look at this retelling of a classic tale.
After a presentation at the Chicago Public Library where her findings are laughed at, a budding paleoanthropologist named Jane Porter meets struggling pulp writer Edgar Rice Burroughs. Having already published his first work-concerning a man going to Mars-Burroughs is looking for a new subject for a story. Agreeing to tell him her story, Jane relates her adventures that led to her discovery...and the lord of the jungle.
Working her way through England's Cambridge University as the first female medical student, Jane finds herself embraced by her scientist father Archimedes Porter and the cause of grief for her proper mother as Jane is more interested in cadavers than tea times. When a dashing stranger named Ral Conrath appears, promising to back an expedition to Africa, both Jane and her father leap at the chance to finally prove Professor Porter's theory about the missing link between man and ape. Arriving on the continent they meet other characters, including a Frenchman name Paul D'Arnot who agrees to go on the safari, but Jane discovers Conrath's true colors: He's helping the vicious King Leopold of Belgium find a path through Africa as well as find a fabled lost city that contains riches. When he betrays Jane and leaves her injured in the jungle, Jane finds herself suddenly rescued by a strange white man who she will come to know as Tarzan. Eventually she heals and both become teacher and student-she teaches him English and about his past, he teaches her about the jungle and leads her to the possible answer she is looking for, a tribe of creatures known as the Mangani. They both also learn about love as Jane finds herself falling for the savage but gentle Tarzan. Along the way there is danger and heartbreak and a final confrontation with Conrath that will change both Jane and Tarzan's future.
I'm sure I left something out but there is a lot of plot, subplots and twists and turns in Robin Maxwell's Jane: The Woman Who Loved Tarzan, a well-written and entertaining take on the classic Tarzan of the Apes. And while I did have some issues with the story I did enjoy it as a fun adventure novel with dashes of romance and danger.
The big difference here is the fact that it does retell the story from Jane's point of view and that Maxwell doesn't stick to Burroughs' original novel. While I know that will ruffle some purists, Maxwell at least tells the reader up front this. In fact it plays in well to the opening prologue of Burroughs' original novel as he mentions hearing the tale from someone "who had no business to tell it me" as he wrote. After that the novel takes on Jane's first person point of view as an independent woman. While I never found the Jane of Burroughs' novels a weak woman-especially in later entries like Tarzan's Quest-this Jane is a feminist before there was feminists, proving her opinion and wanting to expand her field of research. The opening sequences are more setup but once Maxwell shifts the story to Africa things open up and Jane becomes an engrossing read.
Which is good considering it takes a while for Tarzan to appear, even though Maxwell jumps around in time as she tells her story. The ape man here is presented as an outcast of the Mangani tribe but here he does remember his real parents as he was taken at age 4 and seeks revenge against the vicious Kerchak for their deaths. In that way his quest parallels Jane's quest to stop Conrath who she holds responsible for her father's misery. In these scenes the book comes alive as we see the emotional bond develop between Jane and Tarzan as she works to understand him and he teaches her about his life.
Don't worry though, it doesn't sink into the pretentious mess that the film Greystoke did as Maxwell keeps the story rooted firmly in the jungle and its mysteries. Eventually there is a city of treasures and massive earthquakes to provide some needed action sequences. There is also the final fights between Tarzan and Kerchak and Jane and Conrath.
There are some things to note though and some short comings. First Conrath isn't well developed beyond being a liar and a thief who at one points gropes Jane-in short a clone of Burroughs' villains like Nikolas Rokoff so he fits in but isn't given much to do and disappears for a long stretch. Also I didn't like Maxwell's rewriting of D'Arnot into a self-pitying drunk from the character in Burroughs. I understand this is her take but I still felt that character deserved better.
Probably the biggest change from Burroughs is that in this book Jane and Tarzan get physical-yes in that way. I get the feeling the major target audience is women as Jane relates her sexual yearnings, to the point that she spends an entire paragraph calling Tarzan's backside one of the seven wonders of the world. Now this material doesn't become salacious or vulgar-it's not Fifty Shades of Tarzan-it's still there so you might want to be prepared.
With all that said, I'm giving Jane a ***1/2 out of 4. It's an entertaining take on a classic tale that manages to keep the reader invested from beginning to end. So give it a chance and see what you think.
Monday, October 8, 2012
First I'm finished with Jane and will have the review up tomorrow. Moving from that, Starz has announced that John Carter will make its TV debut on November 17 at 9 P.M. So mark your calendars if you're a fan. If not, well you can practice up on your MST3K skills. Hi-Keeba! If you can't make that date check out http://www.starz.com/titles/johncarter for more air times and a short promo trailer.
Saturday, October 6, 2012
Is it just me or are they knocking these out quickly? Oh well, more Dejah, more the merrier.
Still in her self-imposed exile from Helium, Dejah has now headed towards the frozen pole of Barsoom when she nearly is killed by an Apt. But fate intervenes in the form of a one-armed (with a hook!) Okarian who kills the apt and then offers Dejah a warm place to stay-as his slave. Not taking to the slave life lightly, Dejah manages to escape but now has two enemies to face, the Okarian and the Apts of the Carrion Caves.
As with the last issue, this one is pretty much a stand alone story with little in the way of forward momentum. In fact it's pretty basic storywise-Dejah gets herself in a pickle and gets out of it. Nothing too big and epic. That said Robert Napton does a good job letting us in Dejah's head as she still ponders her faith and wonders whether or not Issus is testing her. Plus it has a good with a hook for an arm. How can you beat that?
For the art we get yet another new artist to Barsoom, Debora Carita. Carita (whose previous credits include Wonder Woman) does a good job here, even though the standard bland background issues are there. She does manage to make Dejah look attractive yet vulnerable (even though it just could be me but wouldn't she wear more in the frozen wastelands of Okar?) and draws a mean looking apt, complete with a creepy bug head. Plus a guy with a hook. Have I mentioned that?
So this issue is an OK fill-in until the next story line starts. And if the promised title of "The Vampire Men of Saturn" is an indication, we'll get a doozy. Until next time, and I promise to have Jane finished I'll see you then.
Friday, October 5, 2012
I'm a 100 pages from finishing Jane, so I'll have my review up soon. But here's some food for thought for this Friday.
I have just read an article on the Guardian's web site where the writer was talking about the upcoming Man of Steel and how a recent comment by the film's writer David S. Goyer hints that Superman will not be a dark, brooding character, despite the involvement of Dark Knight director Christopher Nolan http://www.guardian.co.uk/film/filmblog/2012/oct/05/superman-man-of-steel-time. One of the major points brought up was that this year's biggest superhero film wasn't Nolan's The Dark Knight Rises but Joss Whedon's light and comedic The Avengers and how the landscape for the superhero has once again changed. It raises the question-are audiences done with brooding heroes and ready to embrace heroes who don't refuse the adventure? If the box office success of The Avengers and the poor US box office take of the recent Dredd are any indications than possibly yes.
And I'm sure you know where this is heading in reference to this blog. One of the biggest debates concerning John Carter was Andrew Stanton's stated decision to take Edgar Rice Burroughs' character (who Stanton dismissed in an interview as a "vanilla" do-gooder) and make him more "relatable" to audiences by turning him into a "damaged goods" hero. A hero who is reluctant to help. Or as he says in the film "It's not my problem." Now it is debatable how much of that had any impact on the box office but-if you look at how much has been written about it-the gloomy tone of the first trailer with Peter Gabriel's moody cover of "My Body is a Cage" and the shots of a depressed looking Taylor Kitsch and Lynn Collins definitely didn't inspire the buzz the film needed to succeed.
The issue for me with John Carter was how Stanton went too far with his "damaged goods" approach. The character's constant reluctance to help, his stated selfish goal only to return to his cave of gold-all of that began to wear on me as a viewer. Probably the biggest moment where this misfired was after the "Warhoon slaughter as Grief Counseling" sequence where-despite telling Dejah he was late before but won't be again-what does he do? He refuses to help her. Yep, he's all sorry that she has to marry that jerk Sab Than but he has his cave and his own dead wife and kid to mope over and her-and Barsoom's-problems are not his. This flew in the face of Burroughs' original character, a man who risked his own life to save Dejah over and over again, from the Tharks, the Warhoons, from marrying Sab Than...that was the character that has lasted for a 100 years and no one had a problem with him before. Except Andrew Stanton it seems.
The writer of the above mentioned piece makes an interesting statement that while he appreciates the approach that Nolan took with Batman, that Superman is different. Yes give him depth but don't remove the joy of being a man who can fly, a man who can save the world. Stanton missed that with John Carter and if The Avengers proved anything it's that people want their heroes and a good time at the movies. So here's the question: Do you think John Carter would have done better with a more pro-active and less reluctant damaged hero? Take a moment and ask yourself who would you want to be, Burroughs or Stanton's Carter and you'll have your answer.