Thursday, December 26, 2013
I hope you guys had a great Christmas. And here's some news that might kick off a good new year. The official ERB Inc. Facebook page has left this brief post on their Facebook page: "We just got word of an amazing development that will be announced at the beginning of the year.....Stay posted for more." Now some of the comments left indicate it won't be concerning the upcoming Warner Bros/David Yates Tarzan film but something else? A new ERB-inspired book? The possible news that Neal Romanek's Skies of Venus finally has a publisher? Or that they have reacquired the rights back to John Carter of Mars? I guess we'll find out soon. For more ERB info hit https://www.facebook.com/erburroughs.
Tuesday, December 24, 2013
Sunday, December 22, 2013
I missed the last issue so I'll be playing catch up.
Following her victory over the vicious Thark Voro, Dejah goes on a secret mission. And like most leaders-from Hannibal to Hannibal Smith-she needs to get the best of the best to assist her. So a team of Tharks are assembled and...that's all that happens in this issue.
Missing an issue does make it somewhat confusing but the only thing I take away from this issue is that it comes across as an attempt to stretch a miniseries for four more issues. The whole "Dejah forms her own A-Team or Magnificent Seven could have been a stand alone story line for the central Dejah Thoris series instead of being tacked on here. That said writer Mark Rahner does a good job setting up the Tharks who are going on this mission and how Dejah convinces them to go with her, since not much else happens here. It's a setup issue nothing more.
Like this week's Warlord of Mars issue, we get another new artist tackling Barsoom, in this case Jethro Morales and like Wagner Reis' artwork in Warlord it's split between some cool, gnarly Tharks and a mixed look for Dejah, who appears either well drawn or in a few panels overly cartoony. And since most of the issue is characters talking there isn't much chance to show off in big action sequences. Again maybe I'm being hard so maybe in the next issue we'll get to see Morales really show his skills.
As a setup story, this would have worked better in the ongoing major series but otherwise it's an intriguing setup so I'll leave it at that. If I don't get the chance later have a safe and merry Christmas everyone. Until the moons hurtle through the sky again, Kaor!
Saturday, December 21, 2013
This week's Warlord of Mars comic finds John Carter exploring more of the dark secrets of Barsoon. In other words a typical day for our hero.
Despite pleas from Dejah Thoris, Carter is determined to investigate the Twin Spires of Helium, even though their history is unknown. Entering the Red Spire of Greater Helium, Carter and his men almost become Ghasta chow but luckily survive. Going further into the spire they find what appears to be an egg with a surprise-SPOILER-the still living body of missing Jeddak Tardors Mors! Bringing him out, Tardors relates how he escaped his captors in Okar only to wake up back in Helium. While his return seems to be a cause for celebration, John and Dejah begin to wonder if something else isn't afoot...
Setting up the latest storyline, "Tyrant of Mars," Arvid Nelson once again comes up with an intriguing setup with some out of left field twists. To say more would spoil the fun but this opening does a good job of providing enough meat to chew on while throwing us some interesting concepts and a unique look at the characters.
Handling the art this issue is Wagner Reis and I'm sort of mixed on it. On the one hand his creatures look great, from the beasts of burden on the front page to the giant spiders Carter and company face in the Spire, he sure knows how to handle the otherworldly creatures. It's his humans and Heliumites I'm a little more down on. Some of them come across too cartoony while others look OK. I guess I'm just used to a more realistic look for them and here they almost bear a caricature look. That said I'm sure will like it so I might be in the minority on that thought.
So with some hiccups in the art addressed, this issue is still an interesting and eye-catching opening for another round of action and pulp suspense. That's all you need to know. I'll be back tomorrow with another review so until then folks.
Wednesday, December 18, 2013
Tuesday, December 17, 2013
This is a few days late but it's worth it.
While giving an important speech, Clark Savage Jr. receives word of chaos in the streets. When he and some of his Fabulous Five arrive they discover an aurora in the skies of New York and people acting out violently. But before they can intervene both the aurora and the violence stops, leaving several injured and a city on edge. Doc and his team begin to investigate but with each step they discover a more massive plan and a bigger threat.
I've decided to leave most of the plot of this issue vague since I don't want to spoil it but believe me, this was fun! Having came to Doc Savage only a few years back thanks to reprints I fell in love with the action and unique characters and this one captures it well. Writer Chris Roberson manages to capture the pulpy excitement of the old novels while at the same time crafting an intriguing story that catches the reader's attention and helps carry through the entire issue. From crafting an interesting tale to providing enough space for Doc and the Five Roberson brings a knack and I can't wait to see what he does next.
Helping the story move along is also the excellent artwork by Bilquis Evely. From the first panels showing the design of the characters-which goes for realism not exaggeration-to the chaos in the streets to the rousing finale he draws with a deft hand, preventing the artwork from getting messy or over the top. Some may not like the character designs, especially if you only know Doc from the James Bama cover art of the 1960s but if you give it a chance the art is sensational.
Fans of Doc Savage and those just looking for a fun read I give this a hearty recommendation. It captures the fun and pulp thrills of long time back while making it accessible to modern day readers. What more do you want?
Saturday, December 14, 2013
No clever opening, just a review.
When a tribute from Hastor arrives in Helium, the residents turn out. Unknown to them, the gift-a statute of Dejah Thoris-is actually a bomb that injures and kills several. When Dejah recovers she suspects this attack was orchestrated by her estranged brother Kajak Thoris. Doing some investigative work along with Kantos Kan and scientist Syl Mak, Dejah discovers that the material that the statue was made from came from Helium's own ersite deposit in the Toonolian Marshes. Taking off under cover Dejah goes to the Marshes to find her vengeance crazed brother, who is waiting for her...
With this issue we return back to the whole "lost brother" subplot that had been explored earlier and well I can't say I'm too overjoyed about it. Part of it is the idea of just adding a brother and some back story about him being stolen and raised as a slave then suddenly seeking revenge against his sister. Part of it may be just in this issue Dejah's pursuit of justice suddenly has her taking things too far, especially in an interrogation scene that smacks less of the woman readers of Burroughs would know. On the plus side the investigation scenes are handled well and the build up is nice but like the Machine Men I get the feeling I'll be happy when this one moves on.
I'll give the usual fine marks for the artwork, again handled by Debora Carita, who is doing a good job of alternating with Carlos Rafael's work. It's nice vibrant and she is capturing the characters and action well.
Not much left to say here. Until next time folks.
Thursday, December 12, 2013
OK this is a few hours late but here's the news. Variety is reporting that Samuel L. Jackson has reentered talks to co-star in David Yates' upcoming Tarzan with Alexander Skarsgard as the lord of the jungle and Christoph Waltz as the villain. Jackson had been in talks previously with Warner Bros to star but had to pass when the project was put on hold following budget concerns. Interestingly the article notes that Yates got Warners to give the film the go ahead when he showed them a previsualization test reel that got them excited. The only character left to cast is Jane Porter, with the current front runner rumored being actress Margot Robbie, who will be seen in Martin Scorsese's upcoming The Wolf of Wall Street. For more hit http://variety.com/2013/film/news/samuel-l-jackson-tarzan-warner-bros-1200941990/.
Wednesday, December 11, 2013
As I'm sure most of you die hard ERB fans know, the first part of The Warlord of Mars was published in the December 1913 issue of All-Story magazine, wrapping up a busy year for the author. Following the publication of The Gods of Mars and The Return of Tarzan, this brought a close to the opening Barsoom trilogy with a bang. Having just reread it for the first time in a while, I thought I would write my impressions and what stuck out this time. See what you think and leave your own thoughts and opinions about the book.
--No prologue this time. Unlike the first two books Burroughs does not open with a prologue establishing how the story was received-usually from uncle Jack. Instead this opens with John Carter in action.
--Woola returns! Showing his loyalty Woola remains a constant throughout much of the early section, especially when Carter almost goes down the wrong path in his search for Matai Shang and Thurid.
--"Hi, I'm John Carter." I had to laugh at his honest introduction to Therns Lakor and his unnamed companion. When you're the greatest swordsman of two worlds I guess lying about your identity is unnecessary.
--"Your widow will become my wife!" Clearly both Matai Shang and Salensus Oll have one track minds since both decide to marry Dejah Thoris. Is she the only hot woman on the planet?
--Insects of unusual size. The hornet-inspired Sith was a creepy addition to the creature life of Barsoom. A smaller version made its film debut in the 2009 Princess of Mars film.
--The Carrion Caves sequence. This would had made a great sequence in a film version, made by someone who respects the material not just his own ideas.
--It takes a while to become an Okarian. According to Carter it took three days to get his and Thuvan Dihn's skin yellow and their beards attached before could enter Kadabra. Usually it just takes minutes for Carter to slap on red dye to pass as a red man so I guess yellow takes longer.
--Solon. Another film-ready sequence would have been Carter's desperate fight with Solon since for once Carter has met his match.
--"It's a trap!" OK if you want more proof of how much George Lucas strip mined from Burroughs consider this: The Guardian of the North projects a magnetic "energy shield" around Kadabra that must be deactivated to save the Helium fleet and allow the attack to commence. Just substitute the shield generator on the third moon of Endor and you get the idea.
--"Heroic daughter of a heroic world!" While Carter mentions that women are not extensively trained in sword fighting he believes that Dejah would had picked one up and fought at his side. So this whole "Dejah is just a damsel in distress" defense that Andrew Stanton and his lackeys used to justify their manipulative "warrior princess" Dejah is like much of their claims-bull. Maybe if they had read the books they would had realized what happened.
--Redeeming a princess. While most of the villains in Burroughs' work are often beyond redemption Phaidor is given a redemptive moment and a shocking twist that even leaves Carter stunned.
--A final kiss. How else should this story end but with the woman he loves in his arms and a final embrace?
So what makes this book work for you? Leave your thoughts below and let me know if I missed anything.
Monday, December 9, 2013
Here you go! Comic Book Resources has posted an eight page preview for Dynamite's upcoming Doc Savage comic book and it looks really good. So hit http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=preview&id=19363 and let us know what you think.
Friday, December 6, 2013
It's the big event-Carter vs. Clayton! (Red woman pictured on cover sadly not included).
Pushed into the arena to finally destroy the "tyrant" John Carter, Tarzan finds himself beginning to doubt the Therns' motives, especially when they start pelting him with fruit in order to get him angry. Carter, using his telepathy, manages to calm him down enough to realize what is going on. Demanding to see Jane, the Therns' leader Jagati Khen reveals her as his prisoner. But hell hath no fury like an Earth woman in lower gravity as Jane escapes. With his plans blowing up in his face, Khen releases white apes and all pandemonium breaks loose as the two Earthmen fight for their lives.
After all the setup we finally get the good stuff. And it was worth it. Setting up Tarzan's doubt and Carter's unwillingness to fight a hesitant enemy, Arvid Nelson and company establish a fast-paced rhythm to this issue that builds to a fever pitch. To say how it turns out would ruin the fun so I'll just say enjoy the mayhem as it builds.
Nelson gets help from Roberto Castro, whose art supplements the story incredibly well. From capturing Tarzan and John Carter's "duel" in the arena to some of the most vicious looking white apes in any of the Dynamite series, it's a visual delight with nice color and rousing drawings.
I'm holding back as this issue is just too much fun to spoil for readers. If you have missed the other Lords of Mars issues I recommend getting them-or the eventual paperback-and then read this one because it will help you enjoy it more. Sit back and have fun!
Thursday, December 5, 2013
While we wait for the third season's debut in January, Entertainment Weekly has released a batch of
photos to whet our appetites. So hit http://insidetv.ew.com/2013/12/04/sherlock-3-photos/ and check out the rest.
Wednesday, December 4, 2013
Sunday, December 1, 2013
Well that was fast. One week after John Carter's shocking discovery and we get the finale.
Barely escaping with their lives from Talu and his men, Carter and Tars Tarkas suddenly find themselves trapped by an ice wall with no passage. And if that wasn't enough Talu and company find them and unleash their big monster-experiment to take care of them. While both fight for their lives, help arrives thanks to Carthoris, leading to a final decision by Tars that could change the peace of Barsoom forever.
I admitted in my review of the last issue I wasn't thrilled with the change to Talu and the Yellow Men, making them the bad guys. I still don't like it but I will give this issue praise for being an entertaining, rousing finale to the "Savages of Mars" story. Most of that is due to the artwork, here a team effort by Rafael Lanhellas and Marcio Abreu that makes the action crackle and move, as well as capturing the characters quite well. There's enough vibrancy to catch the eye that I think readers will come away at least with a visual treat.
The story also does move, even with the aforementioned changes. The interplay between Carter and Tars is excellent, showing off Arvid Nelson's skills as a writer as well as capturing the friendship between the two that Burroughs established. The final choice by Tars is also handled well, showing his Thark thinking and demeanor while at the same time admitting that it is hard to be civilized. Plus I did love his final line at the end.
Yes the big reveal of the major villain was something of a disappointment but otherwise this was a strong and bold storyline that captured the best of both Nelson and Burroughs' gifts. A true fan of Barsoom I think will enjoy the series, even with the changes, and come away happy that someone is carrying on the tradition of adventure and thrills. That's my final word on it so pick it up. Until next time true believers.
Saturday, November 30, 2013
The future is about to get changed. You know all timey-wimey style.
Rescued from her near drowning by her descendant Dejah Carter, Dejah Thoris learns that Barsoom has been invaded by Jasoomians terraforming the planet to make it habitable to them. In order to undo this a plan is hatched to find the time portal in Dorvas, which just happens to be where the new Atlantic Ocean is located. Facing no return to her own time, Dejah agrees to help the cause when the portal is found and brought to the stronghold of their enemies. Both Dejahs come up with a plan to get Dejah T. back to her own time and "unmake the future." An army of Doctors and TARDISes not included.
Playing with the whole time travel scenario, Robert Napton and company have fun with Dejah's reaction to her planet's future, not to mention her discovery of her future and her past. There is mentions of her husband to be and Lt. Jones (whose fate is still open) which helps add some texture to the whole story. Granted the whole solution to the story gets muddled as most time travel stories do but I have to admit having the most fun I've had with this series here.
The typical thumbs up for Carlos Rafael and his work, including some cool action sequences and cool design work, especially the Buck Rogers-esque Jasoomian flying humans. Even though I do think it's funny how more dressed Dejah C. is compared to her ancestor.
With a series that has been uneven as this one has this might be the best story arc that has been done for it. It captures the pulpy tone of Burroughs and offers up a nice escapist story to enjoy. So if you haven't pick up this issue, it's worth it. Next time we'll wrap up another Barsoomain comic book tale. Until then KAOR!
Friday, November 29, 2013
Or crash into that proverbial tree?
It's been a while since I did one of these but here goes. Since the release of the UK trailer for Constantin Films' Tarzan 3D Wednesday, it seems that the verdict on this latest glimpse of the film is not encouraging. In fact it's been pretty abysmal, with some sites like Geek Tyrant and others lamenting the film's look and plot. They're not alone as the film suddenly has a rating of 3.6 on its IMDB page, despite the fact that the film hasn't even been released in most film markets. So what is the problem?
Most of the reaction seems to boil down to two things: the film's motion capture animation and the plot (that and to some the sacrilege of remaking a Disney film. After all as we all know Disney created Tarzan. And Snow White, Cinderella, Peter Pan, John Carter, etc.) I had been holding off criticizing any aspect of the film until I had seen it but some of this I do agree with. When it was announced as a 3D animated film I had assumed that it would be done in the style of Pixar or DreamWorks, not motion capture. But when I heard that I began to fear that the film would suffer visually and indeed that "uncanny valley" effect that made such films like Beowulf and Disney's A Christmas Carol unwatchable is present. Now some of the effects and design look good-especially the forest and some of the action sequences-but the motion capture look might be hard to overcome, especially for audiences now used to a certain level of sophistication and polish.
The other issue has been the plot. Most of the early trailers had kept hidden the actual story, with the only information released being that it was an updated take on Tarzan. That didn't really bother me too much since there has been a few updated Tarzan films and TV series so what was another one? Besides I understood that the target audience was going to be kids and that Constantin might have wanted to distance themselves from Disney's film so I wasn't too aggravated about it. But now the plot has been spilled and well...it's Avatar. (In fact I've seen some dub this Avatarzan so prepare for more of that). I know that hoping for a faithful film version that adapted Edgar Rice Burroughs' original novels is like wait waiting for Robert Iger to greenlight a Mopey Carter sequel but why the sci-fi storyline? Or why make it so close to James Cameron's film, with its greedy company after an elusive power source and only one man and his "family" can stop them? Granted the greedy interlopers plot was used by Burroughs himself numerous times and became the standard plot device for every Tarzan movie since Johnny Weissmuller's days but this really seems to much like Avatar that I have a feeling audiences will just shrug it off as a ripoff.
Now I understand that I am-along with the naysayers and to hip for words film bloggers-not the target audience for this film. It is a children's film and for all I know that audience might enjoy and love this film. But the major concern I have-and probably other ERB fans-is can we take another flop or mediocre film? After the entire debacle of John Carter, I don't know if ERB's reputation can stand another blow and while Warner Bros is still planning their Tarzan film if this film doesn't deliver it could lead them to cancel or delay their version even though the failure of the live action Tarzan and the Lost City didn't derail Disney's Tarzan so Warners might still make their version.
So the question is everyone overacting or is this an omen of what's to come when this film finally is released? As we've seen negative buzz can kill a film even before it hits (even though when you have the director boasting about his magic abilities to have studio executives grovel at his feet and how much fans don't matter you probably are asking for it). On the other hand Cameron himself has had two massive blockbusters overcome bad press and such recent films like World War Z has as well. I do hope that Tarzan 3D will be at best a good film and that it will overcome my concerns. But they have a long way to go.
Wednesday, November 27, 2013
Tuesday, November 26, 2013
Again Youtube delivers another gem. In this case a TV commercial for Trendmasters' Tarzan: The Epic Adventures action figure line, with this one promoting the Mars line with John Carter and Tars Tarkas. Enjoy the memory and let us know what you think below.
Monday, November 25, 2013
John Carter faces betrayal and possible death. What else is new?
Barely escaping with their lives from the experimental Thark they found, John Carter and Tars Tarkas decide to leave, only to be captured by the yellow man Marik, who then reveals the real story: Yellow men created the green men through a breeding program involving apts, white apes and the red men. They also included a "ganglion," which acts like a psychic receptor in the brain. And if that wasn't enough, Carter also discovers that Talu, the man he helped to overthrow former Jeddak Salensus Oll, is behind the whole thing. But to cover it up they decide to have Tars "kill" Carter in front of the public of Okar until Carter discovers a way to break their control of his friend, leading to one command, "KILL JOHN CARTER."
I know that this series has played somewhat fast and loose with Edgar Rice Burroughs' series but this one really takes it a little too far. Forgotten is the fact that Burroughs established that most life on Barsoom sprang from the Tree of Life and its first offspring, which then led to the development of the green and red men of Mars, not genetic manipulation. That threw me but the biggest change is the decision to rewrite Talu and the yellow men as the villains of this piece. Granted moving past the opening trilogy doesn't leave many villains left from the books that are in public domain but still something would have been better than turning a previous ally into an enemy. Plus there seems to be no shortage of big bads in the Dejah Thoris series...
With that the issue still manages to create an interesting premise, helped by the artwork, this time by Rafael Lanhellas, who I think is a newcomer to the Warlord of Mars series. He manages to bring a nice look to the issue, with Tars Tarkas in particular standing out. Granted most of this issue is people talking and Carter chained to a wall but it still manages to be well-drawn and moves the story along.
Still this issue is a stumbling block to what has been a pretty good, exciting storyline. Maybe it gets resolved in the next issue's finale but it will take some heavy lifting to undo this turn. Until next time folks.
Saturday, November 23, 2013
Let's just see what we got, OK?
It's 1963 and BBC Head of Drama Sydney Newman (Brian Cox) decides he wants a science fiction serial for the channel, only without robots and BEMs. He hands the project-Doctor Who-to an unlikely trio: Verity Lambert (Jessica Raine), a fresh producer facing the "old boys" club; Waris Hussein (Sacha Dhawan), the director who has to deal with the technical limitations of television; and William Hartnell (David Bradley), an actor whose career has seemingly stalled. When the group comes together they manage to produce a show that not only brings in the ratings but captures the public imagination. But they also face the future and the pain that came come with change.
Written by frequent Who writer Mark Gatiss, An Adventure in Space and Time is a love letter to Doctor Who and those who created it. Filled with moments that will tickle Whovians-from the creation of the TARDIS and the introduction of the Daleks-this telefilm manages to capture the moment when a group of "misfits" created a classic that ironically was about misfits. Helped by nice production design and a playful but serious tone, the film shows the problems in creating television in the early 1960s and the impact Doctor Who had without sinking too far into sentiment.
What makes the film worth watching is Bradley's performance. Starting out as a cranky old man who eventually warms before having to face his age and growing difficulties in playing the Doctor, Bradley brings life and spark to Hartnell without turning him into a parody or caricature. He's equally matched by the supporting cast, especially Raine as Verity, a feisty woman who has to deal with snickering department heads and her own ambitions to make Doctor Who memorable.
I'm sure some will find the film lacking in real dramatic "dirt" but it doesn't flinch away from the history of the people who made it or the changes that happened. It reminded me in tone of Tim Burton's Ed Wood, a celebration that still had an edge and touching heart. Even the final scene with its "surprise" cameo works.
So even if The Day of the Doctor doesn't live up to its hype, we already have a great tribute to the legacy of Doctor Who. So try to catch this movie when it reruns. It's worth the time for fans and newcomers. Rating: **** out of 4.
Wednesday, November 20, 2013
With only three days to go until The Day of the Doctor (and two until BBC America's showing of An Adventure in Space and Time) IO9 has listed the best and worst episodes of the Doctor's voyages. So hit http://io9.com/every-single-doctor-who-story-ranked-from-best-to-wors-1468104049 and see if you agree.
Thursday, November 14, 2013
And look who's back. Courtesy of JJ Abrams' Bad Robot and Twitter https://twitter.com/bad_robot/status/401077191087095808 comes the first behind the scenes look at the new Star Wars with producer Kathleen Kennedy and a familiar face. I guess this at least confirms one character's return for the new film.
Monday, November 11, 2013
More superhero action. That's all I got.
While he details his plans on how to destroy Superman, Jimmy Olsen finds himself the prisoner of a deranged Lex Luthor. Meanwhile Supes and the creature Wraith fight to save Tokyo from an army of drones created for one specific purpose-to kill Superman. As the two fight to save the city, Lois Lane finds herself fighting for her life against the minions of the villainous Ascension, receiving a mysterious shard that might hold the answer to everything, if she survives and can get back to civilization.
So far I've enjoyed this take on the Superman mythos, a fun piece of work that combines the action and conspiracy thriller aspects that mark the best in any field-movies, books and comics. Writer Scott Snyder also deftly handles the three parallel stories that unfold, balancing all three with skill. It also captures what makes Superman the character he is, especially in a scene where, despite prodding from Wraith to just use the empty buildings to destroy the drones, Supes decides not to since there are still people around and they could get hurt. Some may feel that is corny but as shown in the massive slug fests in Man of Steel where so little concern was shown towards the citizens of Metropolis, this provides a needed counterpoint and makes it more than just mindless destruction.
A big thumbs up also to Jim Lee and his art. This might be one of the best Superman comics I've seen since the John Bryne era, making Superman and everyone look real, not an overly bulky Supes or over sexy Lois. He also handles the big fight scenes and the looks of terror on Jimmy's face with equal skill. All in all a winner in this department.
So if you're heading out this week to buy the Blu-Ray of Man of Steel I recommend you pick this issue up-along with the first three if you missed them-as another vision of the Last Son of Krypton, one that captures the spirit of Siegel and Shuster's classic character much better than the massive piles of broken buildings does.
Sunday, November 10, 2013
It's Hammer Time...Again (Sorry for the lame pun).
Picking up after the Battle of New York and the previous destruction of the BiFrost, Thor (Chris Hemsworth) is cleaning up and bringing peace to the other Nine Realms while still thinking about Jane Foster (Natalie Portman). Back on Earth Jane makes discovers a temporal disturbance and finds herself zapped by a mysterious energy that causes to disappear from the site of the all-seeing Heimdall (Idris Elba). Concerned, Thor finally makes it back to Earth and finds Jane, who has a force flowing threw her. No not that one, rather a force called the Aether, a force that was once sought by Malekith (Christopher Eccleston), the ruler of the Dark Elves, who following his defeat has been in a stat of suspended animation but now awakes. And when Thor takes Jane to Asgard, Malektith follows, bringing death and destruction. Disobeying his father Odin (Anthony Hopkins), Thor decides that there is only one way to defeat Malekith and his minions...and he's going to need help from Loki (Tom Hiddleston) to do it.
Yeah that's a lot of story and depending on where you sit an asset or a flaw. For this reviewer-and fan of the first Thor film and the comics-its sort of a flaw. Part of the problem is that again, like so many of the Marvel films, the plot hinges on a Macguffin that the bad guys want and the good guys have to stop them-in this case the Aether. After a lot of exposition about their early defeat, temporal portals and a lot of running around, you would think the screenwriters could come up with something new or less predictable. Also the film suffers from too much deja vu, and not just from previous Marvel movies. The opening with Malekith's troops and their ships reminded me of the opening melee of Man of Steel, a fight on the home planet of Hogan the Grimm resembles a leftover fight from The Lord of the Rings while the attack on Asgard and Thor and Loki's escape looks like someone had studied Star Wars too much. I know some people were not thrilled by Kenneth Branagh's handling of the first film and probably hoped that new director Alan Taylor would bring a more gritty take on the material (especially after his run on Game of Thrones) but personally I miss Branagh's more deft hand when it came to the action and spectacle.
That's not to say that Thor-The Dark World is a complete loss. In fact it has much to recommend it, starting with the performers. Hemsworth brings a more toned-down attitude to Thor here, now a man struggling with his personal feelings towards Jane while maintaining his duty to Asgard. There is some fun-if too brief turns-by Rene Russo and Elba, and some welcome comedy from Stellan Skarsgard. The humor also extends to a comic "cameo" from a fellow Avenger and the big finale. In fact it's the last part that kicks in and saves the movie, finally putting the exposition away and focusing on the action. The film's biggest asset though is Hiddleston, who again steals the movie as a spiteful and angry Loki, who still brims with resentment towards his brother and father but shows some touching moments with Russo.
If I'm making the film sound bad it isn't. It just doesn't capture the fun spirit of the first film. That said considering the rest of this year's comic book crop (Iron Man 3 was fun while Man of Steel went overboard in the wrong way) Thor-The Dark World manages at least to fit in between. At least there is no annoying computer girls (thanks Agents of SHIELD for delivering the most annoying TV character of the past decade).
I'm giving the film a *** out of 4 with reservations. The good parts are that good and I might change my mind later so I'll leave it for now. Just leave any comments below.
Saturday, November 9, 2013
Friday, November 8, 2013
After three issues of setup, John Carter and Tarzan finally meet! Well sort of...
With his fleet landing outside the Fortress-Temples of the Holy Therns, John Carter and Kantos Kan find no welcoming committee but a defiant Jagati Khen and his new weapon-a mass repulsor based on the Eighth Ray that powers the airships of Barsoom. After making short work of the fleet Carter and Kantos are captured and set for the arena. Meanwhile Jane discovers the treachery at work and attempts to warn Tarzan but is captured before she can, leaving Tarzan to come face to face with the Warlord of Mars in a game to the death.
So after all the setup we finally get to the big duel--and have to wait another issue. Now I don't mind setup but you know maybe it's time to get the action moving. Even the promised air battle is cut short when Khen reveals his super weapon, leaving Carter without much to do except surrender without a fight (after talking about how he loves the thrill of combat) and Kantos to invoke the "tits of Issus." Did he ever see Issus because that's the one body part I wouldn't want to invoke (Dejah on the other hand...)
Even the usual reliable artwork by Roberto Castro is limited to mostly people standing around talking or explaining things or creeping around with little action and somewhat dull and indistinct backgrounds. I just hope he gets to show what he's capable of in the next issue when he finally gets to the big fight between Carter and Tarzan.
I've enjoyed the first three issue but this one feels just to anti-climactic and suffers too much from not enough action or tension that should be there. Let's hope the next issue delivers what fans of ERB and Dynamite expect. Also is anyone else disappointed that we haven't seen Jane in that dress shown on his issue's Alex Ross cover? Until next time faithful readers.
Thursday, November 7, 2013
With the fourth issue hitting this week, Bleeding Cool has a chat with writer Arvid Nelson and fellow comics writer Nancy Collins online http://www.bleedingcool.com/2013/11/05/arvid-nelson-on-science-fiction-edgar-rice-burroughs-and-warlords-of-mars/. Among the topics discussed are Nelson's introduction to the work of Edgar Rice Burroughs and his influence on pop culture, the strength of the Mars novels and his approach to the characters of Tarzan and John Carter and more. For fans it's an interesting talk so take a look and let us know what you think.
Monday, November 4, 2013
It's Dejah Thoris: Days of Future Past!
While visiting the dead city of Dorvas, Dejah gets a demonstration of a new discovery-a "time portal" that as you can guess open time and bring up any period in Barsoom's history. But when a Zodangan spy attacks, Dejah finds herself hurled into the future where Barsoom is in turmoil as rebel forces are fighting off invading armies...from Jasoom. Before too long she's captured by the Jasoomians who think they can alter history and prevent the current rebellion but their plans go astray when both rebels and a rescue party from the past arrive to save Dejah. Eventually Dejah comes face to face with the rebels' leader-a young woman who holds the key to red and green men of Barsoom's survival...a young woman named Dejah Carter.
In other words where's a flux capacitor when you need one?
After the wrap up of the Metal Men story arc I was ready to embrace anything, And much to my surprise I loved this issue. I've always been a sucker for time travel stories and the idea of sending Dejah into the future with no idea of what was to come later in her life is an intriguing idea that writer Robert Place Napton has fun with. Also we finally get back to that cliffhanger that was left at the end of the Warriors of Mars miniseries as the battle between the Jasoomians and the rebels is still raging. There is no appearance of Gulliver Jones here (maybe the next issue or he hasn't shown up yet in the timeline) but seeing Dejah Carter in charge and leading the troops brings a good plot twist, especially when she runs into her ancestor and brings up an interesting dilemma that I hope gets explored more-what would happen if she told Dejah Thoris her future?
In addition this issue brings back Carlos Rafael and again the artwork is great, with nicely defined characters and a skillful handling of the action pieces. He also brings a vibrant style to this issue, helped by the coloring and design work. Even though I'm sure some will wonder why Dejah Carter seems to be wearing more than her great-great-great-great grandmother. Yikes!
So after some less than stellar stories this issue brings us a winner and a cool story to boot. It's a fun piece that handles the setup and action well and gives us a good adventure in the pulp tradition. Just sit back and have fun.
Tuesday, October 29, 2013
More video fun and a question at the end. Here's another fan video set to the song "Without You" from the Glee soundtrack that manages to capture the cosmic romance of John and his beloved princess. The question is why do these fan videos manage to bring across this so much better than the movie? The lack of bad bickering, dead wives or good editors from the clip? Something to ponder as you watch this and as usual leave any comments below.
Monday, October 28, 2013
While we wait for any more bombshells from Episode VII, some cool videos have popped up online from the original trilogy. The first one up is a blooper reel from the original film, which is pretty cool if only to see Peter Cushing and Carrie Fisher cracking up (also don't worry as the first little bit has no audio). The next video comes from a laserdisc that was sold on Ebay that features alternate takes and behind the scenes footage from Return of the Jedi. For more on the later hit https://www.facebook.com/rotjeditdroid?ref=br_tf and enjoy the videos.
Friday, October 25, 2013
Not much going on Barsoom wise (even though if you want to start feeling disturbances in the Force over the recent Episode VII news or debate the new 50 Shades guy feel free to comment below-my take relax on the first and who gives a f--- about the second) here's a brief video clip for those who speak Spanish promoting John Carter on Disney's Cinemagic Channel. I guess "Tengo una cueva de oro" sounds better doesn't it? Take a peek and enjoy Dubbed Kitsch!
Thursday, October 24, 2013
Courtesy of ERBZine is something that would have been cool. Some artwork by Russ Manning (best known for his Tarzan comics) for a comic book adaptation of The Chessmen of Mars for Dell which would have followed up their previous comic book adaptations of the first three Barsoom novels. I wonder if Dynamite or another publisher will ever get around to a Chessmen comic? Oh well check out http://www.erbzine.com/mag8/0831d.html for more artwork.
Tuesday, October 22, 2013
And 3 and 4. Despite having his character (SPOILER for those two people who haven't seen it) met his demise at the end of the first Avatar, James Cameron himself has confirmed to Deadline that Lang will return for the upcoming sequels. In his statement Cameron said “I’m not going to say exactly how we’re bringing him back, but it’s a science fiction story, after all." (As long as it isn't as a shape shifting Sith-Thern OK.) For more comments from Cameron hit http://www.deadline.com/2013/10/james-cameron-has-found-avatars-darth-vader-its-stephen-lang/.
Monday, October 21, 2013
More Dejah, more horror.
After revealing her feelings to fellow survivor Teevine, Dejah begins to exhibit post traumatic stress (or the Barsoomian equivalent of it). But it really hits the fan when she attends a wedding (between a Thark and a Red Woman-I'll say no more) Dejah flips out when a mystery package arrives from the evil Voro. Deciding there will be no relief in her life until she settles this, she releases the Thark Zon Tar with a message-a meeting in the Green Dome, where one two people enters, only one person leaves (cue a chorus of "We Don't Need Another Hero").
OK this issue is pretty much just setup, showing that expanding the story to 12 issues might needed questioning. I did think showing Dejah's vulnerability and her fear that she is losing control of her life is an interesting concept and how even John Carter is unable to help her adds to the drama. But the last page's decision to basically go to Thunderdome...well as long as a blind ape doesn't show up.
The art in this issue by Lui Antonio also has some weird choices. Possibly to show Dejah's mental state, all the wedding guests are just ghostly blue and non descript, a choice that calls too much attention to itself. Beyond that it's the usual good job with the darker look and artwork befitting the story being told.
I'll close by saying that this was OK, nothing more. I'll be back soon.
Sunday, October 20, 2013
This week's comic reviews it's double your Dejah fun. Why does that sound so dirty?
With Dejah and Kantos Kan held prisoner by Mortus and his Machine Men, Tardors Mors reluctantly agrees to launch an air strike over Yorn. But with resistance from Ner Jon, the acting Jeddak of Yorn, Tardors agrees to let Ner and his invisible airship attack Mortus' stronghold. That doesn't leave much time for Dejah and Kantos to escape with their heads still attached.
Yes it's the end of the Machine Men storyline and I'm happy to see it end. I wasn't too big on this arc so to see end it come to an end is a relief. It has some cool action sequences and an optimistic ending but I hope this is the last we will see of Mortus.
I also hope that Carlos Rafael returns to do the art. Nothing against Debora Carita but I miss Rafael's work. Still Carita does a decent job and brings the story to a good end with some nice artwork.
So that bids adieu to the machine men. Tomorrow another Dejah story continues. Until then folks...
Saturday, October 19, 2013
Let's just jump in shall we?
While Tarzan attempts to find a new home for the Mangani, he's being pursued by both his cousin William Greystoke and a fortune hunter, Albert Werper. However both men have an ulterior motive: to find the mythical "savage land" of Opar. With Jane and Robbie trying to warn Tarzan, a bounty hunter on the trail of Robbie and a race of apes known as the Targani the quest is more perilous than anyone thought. Especially when they meet the ruler of Opar, Queen La...
With his third entry in the series Andy Briggs has crafted probably the best one yet. Moving quickly through its 188 page length the book features the sort of action that fans of the pulps will enjoy while at the same time evoking Edgar Rice Burroughs' standard plots of greedy hunters, lost cities and Tarzan in savage action. Briggs also comes up with ways to update Burroughs' characters to modern times without losing their original purpose, even Welper and La that makes it fun for ERB fans.
Not to say it was all perfect. The subplot of the bounty hunter after Robbie was dispatched just as quickly as it was introduced, making me wonder why it was even included. Some of the plot contrivances also wear thin, like the constant volcano and earthquakes that threaten the characters every time there is trouble. And while Jane is more action oriented sometimes she does things that make you wonder if she ever thinks things through.
That said this is still a fun read and leaves an open for another book. I just wonder where Briggs will take Tarzan from here. Rating ***1/2 out of four.
Wednesday, October 16, 2013
This might be a long review, so you guys might want to take a break at some point.
Remembering how hard it was to review last year's Under the Moons of Mars anthology, I thought it would be best just to run off the stories I thought were the best, the worst and some brief comments on the ones left. Let me say though as a collection of stories inspired by the genius of ERB it's a commendable book, filled with fun-for the most part-stories all written by writers trying to recapture the spirit of Burroughs' work. Some succeed and some well don't. So which ones did the best? Here's my picks for the top three stories:
1. "The Forgotten Sea of Mars" by Mike Resnick. Yep the oldest story in the book is the one that does it best. As mentioned in the brief intro before the story starts, a previous contractual agreement prevented any new Barsoom stories (thanks Disney) but Resnick and co-editor Bob Garcia were able to include this one since it had been published before. Written in 1965, "Forgotten Sea" picks up where Llana of Gathol left off as John Carter launches a search to find Tan Hadron of Hastor, who was last seen still on board the Dusar when the crew mutinied and turned towards Pankor. Carter's search leads him to a still active and vengeful Hin Abtol and his mad scheme to conquer Barsoom. Resnick delivers a rousing story filled with enough action and Burroughs-like touches (especially the Chamber of Madness) that any fan should just pick this book up for this one story.
2. "The Dead World" by Paul F. Wilson. Wilson returns us to Pellucidar for this yarn, a good ripping tale in which David Innes and Abner Perry have to solve the mystery of a fallen object that unleashes a deadly vine that threatens to wipe out life in Pellucidar. Their quest leads them to the moon of Pellucidar and a shocking secret. While it takes a turn for the bizarre near the end it's still a good fast past tale and Wilson manages to keep the story flowing through its 40 page length.
3. "Apache Lawman" by Ralph Roberts. Instead of an alien world we head to another frontier, the old west for this continuation of the story of Shoz-Dijiji and his love Wichita Billings in this tale. Picking up where Burroughs' Apache Devil left off, the couple are trying to adjust to life when Shoz accepts an offer to become a deputy Marshal for the Arizona Territory. This brings him into conflict with his past life and "Death Bringer" in a final stand off. While it might seem jarring to have a western in this collection of scifi and fantasy tales, Roberts manages to craft a compelling tale that also reminds us of Burroughs' range of stories and the different genres he tackled in his life.
Honorable mentions also go to Peter David's "Moon Maid over Manhattan" (which brings us back to Julian 5th and Princess Nah-ee-Lah), "The Two Billys" by Max Allan Collins and Matthew Clemons (which picks up with Mucker Billy Byrne being drawn back into the world of his love Barbara Harding) and Mercedes Lackey's "The Fallen: A Tale of Pellucidar (which tells the tale of Mok the Sagoth).
As for Tarzan? Well he gets three adventures that pit him against spies, aliens and. The first one, Kristine Kathryn Rusch's "Tarzan and the Great War" is a fast-paced tale picking up after Tarzan the Untamed as Tarzan finds himself drawn into a tale involving his past and a spy ring that needs to be busted up. Kevin J. Anderson and Sarah J. Hoyt's "Tarzan and the Martian Invaders" pits Tarzan against an alien invasion from another Mars that could put an end to human life as we know it. It's a fun tale that owes a bit to both Burroughs and HG Wells. Finally Joe Landsdale returns to the jungle with "Tarzan and the Land That Time Forgot" as Tarzan, returning from Pellucidar, crash lands into Caprona. It's a cool story filled with enough action to fill out several stories.
So that leaves the worst-or rather the most disappointing I felt. The big one is "Scorpion Men of Venus" by Richard Lupoff, which starts out as another adventure for Carson Napier and Duare but ends with the biggest slap in the face ending I've read in a long time. The sad thing is that it has an interesting premise and that it comes from Lupoff, one of the leading scholars of Burroughs but that ending just undoes everything and shows almost a contempt for the characters Burroughs created similar to Andrew Stanton and his bunch. This one almost made me want to throw the book across the room, if you know what I mean. The other disappointment is "To the Nearest Planet" by Todd McCaffrey, which returns us to Tangor and Polada. Unfortunately it takes a cool premise and meanders through its 50 plus pages until it also delivers an unsatisfactory ending similar to "Scorpion Men."
If you're still with me the question now is this book worth picking up? Definitely for fans who love Burroughs and fun adventure fiction. The best of this collection are fun exciting stories that honor Burroughs and his work and they are worth reading. The worst, well you can skip them or read them and let me know if I'm wrong in my thoughts. Otherwise it is a strong selection and I hope to see more in the future. So pick it up and let us know what you think either in the comments section. Until next time, Kaor!
Monday, October 14, 2013
Hey the Warlord's back! And still trying to solve the mystery of "Savages of Mars."
Still in Okar, John Carter and Tars Tarkas attempt to question the Okarian female Encennia, only to find her killed. Getting assistance from Marik, another Okarian, Carter and Tars discover a secret compartment and a shock-a frozen Thark head! After a brief talk with Dejah over the "wireless" (can you hear me now?) another secret room is discovered, a laboratory with Tharks and apts experiments, including a hybrid monstrosity that-quicker than you can say Frankenstein-comes alive and attempts to wipe our heroes. Will John and Tars get to the bottom of this mystery? Can they trust Marik?
As with this week's Lord of Mars issue, this one seems more setup than payoff as John Carter and Tars Tarkas play Holmes and Watson in their attempt to solve the mystery that has brought them to Okar. The mystery aspect is a pretty cool one, adding something different than the usual story lines that most comics have these days. I also liked how Arvid Nelson brought up Tars' own prejudice against the Okarians and how they might jeopardize the investigation and the peace Carter and Helium has with them. It was also good to see Dejah brought in to provide a clue so all in all another winner story wise.
With the art this issue lists two artists, Leonardo Oliveria and Rafael Lanhellas. While sometimes having two artists working on the same issue might cause problems with the art I couldn't find any. The characters were well handled, especially Carter and Dejah (and can I say it was the best looking Dejah in a long time?). The big action set piece with the Thark-Apt creature also rocked, bringing a breath of action and tension to the issue, thanks to the design and handling of the artists. I know sometimes the art in this series has gotten criticized, even by myself, but here it's really good.
I have to say I'm enjoying the "Savages of Mars" storyline. It's capturing the spirit of Edgar Rice Burroughs and having fun with these characters. The cool setup, mystery aspect and the unique twists and turns gives this story a big A plus. Until next time (and I'm four stories into the Worlds of ERB so I'll have that review up soon.)
Sunday, October 13, 2013
OK let's kick off this week's Barsoom comics as Jane begins to question life on Mars.
As Tarzan becomes comfortable on Barsoom, Jane starts to question their hosts, the Therns, and what they have planned. Reminding Tarzan of being forced into the cave in England that led to being transported to Barsoom, Tarzan goes off to blow off steam on a banth and decides to help the Therns in their quest to take down the false "god" John Carter. Meanwhile when his representative fails to communicate, Carter takes the Helium fleet to the Valley Dor to get to the bottom of the situation, unknowingly heading towards a confrontation he isn't ready for.
Like the first two issues, this one is more setup than action, with Arvid Nelson establishing Tarzan and Jane's disagreement over the Therns, Tarzan admitting he feels at home and Jane showing off her own skills. While some would probably like the story to get moving, the setup is paying off, leading to the big fight next issue (I hope).
As usual the artwork by Roberto Castro is quite good, especially the fight sequence between Tarzan and the banth. The character designs are nice and the art helps the story flow well with its vibrant color and design. So the usual thumbs up there.
I know this one is a short review but if you enjoyed the last two issues then you will enjoy this one as well. While I would like the story to get started, the setup is excellent and the build-up succeeds in getting the suspense going. I just hope the big meeting will pay off. So Tarzan and Barsoom fans pick it up and have fun. (Also is it just me or does Alex Ross' cover Dejah look like Sofia Vergara from Modern Family? Still a hot princess either way.)
Saturday, October 12, 2013
I'm still working through Worlds of ERB but here's some news for Pandorians. Coming Soon has posted a gallery of concept art for Disney's Animal Kingdom extension based on James Cameron's blockbuster. So now you can visit Pandora and get Mickey souvenirs at the same time! Hit http://www.comingsoon.net/news/movienews.php?id=110122 for the rest of the gallery (and get ready for the Back to Barsoomers to moan how they got cheated out of Barsoom Land-or rather Stanton Land).
Friday, October 11, 2013
I know some of you probably think you've seen the movie already considering the number of trailers released. That said here's another one with more footage and in English for a change. Leave your thoughts below and come back as I'll have reviews up soon of The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs and this week's Barsoom comics.
Tuesday, October 8, 2013
I'll cut to the chase. Constantin Films has now an official web site up for their upcoming Tarzan film with trailers, a photo gallery and plot description...in German. Also the site hints that the film is now being targeted for a February 2014 release date at least in Germany so we'll have to wait and see when and if it hits US shores. Until then go to http://www.tarzan3d-film.de/ for more info.
Monday, October 7, 2013
Here's something for you kids of the 1980s: Droid World! Released as a vinyl record and book, this audio drama adapted an issue of the Marvel Comics Star Wars series and now is on line for your listening and viewing enjoyment. So sit back and have fun.
Friday, October 4, 2013
I'm waiting for both The Savage Lands and The Worlds of Edgar Rice Burroughs to arrive (next week) so for the time being here is a trailer for the former. Sit back and enjoy (and possibly debate last night's Lynn Collins Elementary appearance afterwards).
Tuesday, October 1, 2013
Sorry for the lame headline but I couldn't think of another. In any case sit back and watch this short film by Rainfall Films that brings Diana to life and brings us an idea of what the heroine could look like if she ever gets her feature film career started. Just leave your comments below.
Thursday, September 26, 2013
It looks like Tarzan will be ready to let loose the bull ape cry after all. According to Variety, director David Yates' film is now back on track after Warner Bros suspended production after concerns over the costs http://variety.com/2013/film/news/christoph-waltz-tarzan-1200665414/ . The article also has some news on the potential casting, with Oscar winner Christoph Waltz being considered for the villain "a military figure that crosses paths with the King of the Jungle." The article does not mention if Alexander Skarsgard is still in contention to play Tarzan but according to a source actresses Emma Stone and Margot Robbie are front runners for the role of Jane. UPDATE: The Hollywood Reporter has more news about the film and Waltz' role in it. According to http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/christoph-waltz-talks-tarzan-637398 Waltz will play a Belgian Solider named Captain Rom, who attempts to capture Tarzan in exchange for priceless diamonds. The report also confirms Skarsgard's casting as Tarzan and that Dark Horse Productions-a spinoff of the comic book company that published Tarzan back in the 1990s-is co-producing with Jerry Weintraub Productions. The film looks to begin filming if all goes to plan next year for a possible 2015 release date.
Tuesday, September 17, 2013
Monday, September 16, 2013
Saturday, September 14, 2013
As we continue Dejah's quest for revenge, more intrigue threatens the fragile peace between Helium and the Tharks.
Following the arrest of Tars Tarkas, Dejah orders him released but the discovery of several killed Tharks leads to tensions and frayed trust. Meanwhile the flesh eating Voro how's revenge against Dejah as well a plan to end Tars' rule as Jeddak. With suspicious advisor Rek coming close to discovering the truth Dejah finds herself in more danger than before.
Truthfully not much happens in this issue as writer Mark Rahner builds up the tension between Dejah and Rek as well as the growing distrust between the Red Men and the Tharks. Not to say this issue doesn't have its problems. A brief sequence brings back the grisly "torture porn" aspect while John Carter is being reduced to a nothing part and make me wish he was more involved in the story.
Lui Antonio's artwork does a good job capturing the tone with subdued color schemes and some nice character design. I do have to ask though-was it me or did Dejah's anatomy seem to get bigger with each panel?
I'll give this one a fair pass. Not as grisly as before but I still have to wonder if stretching this out to 12 issues was a good idea. Until next time Kaor!
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