Tuesday, September 30, 2014

'At The Earth's Core' Hits Blu-Ray

Get ready to experience Pellucidar...in High Definition! Scorpion Releasing has released official details for the Blu-Ray release of the 1976 adaptation of Edgar Rice Burroughs' inner world classic that starred Doug McClure, Peter Cushing and Caroline Munro. The disc will be released January 13, 2015 through Kino and MGM and will include as extras audio commentary with director Kevin Conner, interviews with Conner and Caroline Munro, the original theatrical trailer and reversible cover art. Check out https://www.facebook.com/scorpionreleasinginfo for more details and a peek at the other cover artwork.

Saturday, September 27, 2014

Kerry Conran's 'John Carter of Mars' Would Have "Changed" Films

Or at least spared us Shape Shifter Shang and Mopey Carter. In an interview celebrating the 10th anniversary of Sky Captain and the World of Tomorrow, director Kerry Conran's brother Kevin (who served as production and costume designer on Sky Captain) talks about that film and the brothers' attempt to bring Barsoom to the big screen and how it might have changed the landscape of filmmaking. Among the pertinent highlights:

On why the film ultimately wasn't made: "We worked on that for almost a year. Paramount gave us a fair chunk of money to hire a bunch of guys and put some test footage together," Kevin says. "We were actually all prepared to fly to Australia for it and scout locations. We were going to shoot some of the live-action stuff down there. It was right around that time that [CEO] Sherry Lansing left Paramount, she had been our champion. The new regime, as is often the case, just scuttled everything that was in the mix. We were tabled for a while and didn't know our fate. It left us and of course ended up going to Disney, who made the film."

On how it could have trumped Avatar and possibly influenced a new style of movie making: "I tell my friends, had we been able to finish John Carter and get it released, it would've changed Hollywood history in a really profound way. Avatar came out a year or two after we would've been released, and it's a similar story - Earth warrior goes to alien world, falls in love and leads an uprising. We had things in our version of John Carter that are actually in Avatar, the flying mountains and four-winged lizard creatures. All this kind of stuff, we had in our early prep work.

"It's weird. If we'd come out a year-and-a-half ahead of Avatar, they would've had to scramble and change some things. We were close, we were on the way to Australia and had spent three-and-a-half million bucks doing tests and hiring people. We thought we were going to do it."

For more hit http://www.digitalspy.com/movies/feature/a598519/sky-captain-and-the-world-of-tomorrow-10-years-on-a-ground-breaking-blockbuster.html?rss#~oR4FbPJnkebUho and if you want to sample what could have been-or refresh your memory-here is the test reel for Conran's version.

Friday, September 26, 2014

'Jupiter Ascending' Unleashes New Trailer

After being bumped to next February, Warner Bros, has released a new trailer for the Wachowski's new sci-fi epic and it looks really good. A little more plot is revealed, more awe-inspiring visuals and Mila Kunis so what do you want? Other than wondering if Sean Bean will survive this one? Take a look and leave any thoughts below.

Thursday, September 25, 2014

'John Carter, Warlord of Mars' #1 First Look

Bleeding Cool has posted a preview of the first issue at http://www.bleedingcool.com/2014/09/24/exclusive-first-look-at-john-carter-warlord-of-mars/ and you can check it out. The pages do lack text and for those who have issues about female Martian anatomy well...

You've been warned. Head over and take a peek and leave any comments below.

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

Comic Review: Legendary Star-Lord #1

OK so this is a few months late (there already up to issue 3) but here's my thoughts on the first issue of the new adventures of Peter Quill.

After a brief flashback to Peter's life on Earth, the story opens with Quill in a faceoff with some Badoons over the Mandalay Gem that is being hid at an orphanage in the fringe territories of the Spartax Empire. Once captured Quill plays some games with his captors to escape and get the gem back. It doesn't go where you think though.

Opening up this first issue, writer Sam Humphries manages to juggle a lot of information without losing sight of the story or getting too bogged down in references to the past, even though readers will need some knowledge of Star-Lord and the Guardians of the Galaxy's past to make sense of some of story. The action is quick, the quips even quicker and the tone is bright and fun, making for an easy accessible entry into this universe.

Helping out is the artwork by the combo of penciler Paco Medina, inker Juan Vlasco and colorist David Curiel as all three bring the story to life with nice designs, splashes of color and a firm grasp on the action and story being told. It may not be the most vibrant comic on the market but it is still eye-catching and pleasing to look at.

If you caught the movie and want more, then Legendary Star-Lord is off to a good start with a fun story and an offbeat character to follow. Give it a try if you haven't and I will try to get the next two issues and post reviews of them. Later folks.

Saturday, September 20, 2014

Newsarama: Marz Goes to 'Mars'

Another day, another enthusastic Ron Marz interview, this time from Newsarama http://www.newsarama.com/22188-marz-goes-to-mars-john-carter-warlord-of-mars-returns.html?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+newsaramapreviews+(Newsarama.com+previews). This time there is discussion of about the accessibility of the new series to readers, artist Abhishek Malsuni's work on the series, the variant covers and Marz's own thoughts on Andrew Stanton's John Carter. Head over and leave any thoughts below.

Friday, September 19, 2014

'Starlight' Movie Finds A Writer

For fans of Mark Millar and Goran Parlov's current outer space comic series, it looks like the movie has found its writer. According to the Hollywood Reporter, screenwriter Gary Whitta will be handling the script for the upcoming film about an aging space hero having to return back to the scene of his past adventures. Whitta is also working on one of the Star Wars spinoff films with director Gareth Edwards so he's got a full slate coming up. For more info hit http://www.hollywoodreporter.com/heat-vision/star-wars-stand-alone-writer-734197

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

Ron Marz: "Scratching" The Barsoom Itch

This is a little late but fans will still want to check it out. Writing a "Shelf Life" article for Comic Book Resources, Ron Marz talks about getting the chance to write John Carter, Warlord of Mars and how "it was the fulfillment of a dream I've had since I was 12 years-old or so. And I mean that literally." In addition he also talks about working on past dream projects and how they turned out and reveals one of his next projects, a Solomon Kane short story for Robert E. Howard's Savage Sword that will come out in March. For more-including test pitch artwork for the Kane story-head over to http://www.comicbookresources.com/?page=article&id=55465.

Saturday, September 13, 2014

Movie Review: Tarzan (2013)

No clever opening for this, except watch out for that...meteor!?!

It's that meteor that results in both the destruction of the dinosaurs and a local African legend about its powers. Those rumors have brought billionaire explorer John Greystoke, his wife and son JJ to the jungle, along with fellow scientist Porter, to find it and discover its power, One of those powers, a strong magnetic field, causes the Greystoke helicopter to crash, leaving young JJ the only survivor but before too long he is found by Kala, a gorilla who had just lost her own child and husband and takes in the young boy. Before too long he is Tarzan, king of the jungle! And that's the first 15 minutes. The rest finds the grown-up Tarzan (now played by Kellan Lutz) meeting feisty environmentalist Jane Porter (Spencer Locke), and the evil businessman (has there ever been a good one?) Clayton, who needs to take out the heir of Greystoke and find that rock to secure his fame and fortune, There is also a huge snake-lizard-Sarlaac creature that tries to eat Tarzan and Jane, double crosses and a lot of helicopters heading towards Pandora. I mean that rock!

I don't know how to say it so I'll just give you to straight: this Tarzan isn't the worst Tarzan film ever but it doesn't come close to the top. As you can tell from the plot above, director-screenwriter Reinhard Klooss has updated the story and added an Avatar-like sci-fi element to the proceedings that results in a mess of a movie plot wise. Part of the problem is that so much of the emotional hook of the original Tarzan story-the death of his parents, his adoption by Kala and his rise among the Mangani-is lost in favor of the constant running around looking for the meteor and (in some cases well done) action sequences that overwhelm the thin story. It also doesn't help that Tarzan himself isn't fleshed out more, outside of one good sequence among the ruins of his parents' crashed helicopter and his scenes with Kala. The other characters don't emerge beyond one dimensional, especially the copy and pasted bad guys and some comic relief characters.

The other area of concern is the motion capture, which resulted in several dismissive comments when the trailers were released about the rubbery look of the human characters. While it doesn't reach the heights of Pixar's best it's not the worst. If anything at least Klooss avoids The Polar Express problem of attempting to make his characters look like the actors playing them but facial expressions do get stiff and give an unfinished appearance quite often.

There is some good elements here though. While the humans don't fair well, the apes are animated pretty well, with some nice movement and weight given to them that adds some reality to the story. Also the backgrounds in this are great-gorgeous in fact. From Tarzan's lush jungle home to the meteor the environments are given a top notch job that if anything makes the film look more expensive than it probably was. There is also a good performance from Locke as Jane, bringing some nice humor and emotion to the story that fails to develop elsewhere and her scenes with Lutz adds added depth.

The real audience for this version of Tarzan is kids, so I'm guessing they will probably enjoy it more than adults or ERB fans will. The backgrounds look great but are at the mercy of a poor story that probably needed more work and characters that needed more development. Rating: ** out of 4.

Friday, September 12, 2014

RIP Denny Miller 1934-2014

Sad news has hit with the passing of actor Denny Miller from ALS at the age of 80. Miller is remembered by ERB fans for his lead turn in 1959's Tarzan the Ape Man and as an active member of the fan community for years. For more about his life and career http://www.reviewjournal.com/entertainment/denny-miller-who-played-tarzan-dies-las-vegas and our prayers to his family and friends.

Saturday, September 6, 2014

Book Review: The Goddess of Ganymede

It has been a while since we had a book review, so get ready to go to Jupiter and Beyond!

With the space race still ongoing, astronaut and soldier of fortune Adam Thane has agreed to take part in a secret mission-to land on either Mars or Jupiter! When he heads towards the gas giant, he discovers why previous missions have failed. He also discovers that the moon Ganymede is inhabited by strange races like the Kroths-a race of men with wings-and the standard beautiful princess, Delisse. Of course there is enemies aplenty, primarily the "God" Tarafolga, several battles and a goddess to win so our hero begins his quest...

Published in 1968, Michael Resnick's The Goddess of Ganymede was another entry in the sword and planet boom inspired by the rediscovery of Edgar Rice Burroughs and for the most part the book is an ERB pastiche from top to bottom. Resnick (who had already written The Forgotten Sea of Mars) doesn't attempt to hide the references, from our soldier of fortune hero who has superhuman strength to the beautiful woman desired by everyone to strange creatures, it's all there. Unfortunately it is also easy to see why Resnick has distanced himself from this book since it isn't very good either. The characters fail to develop beyond one note and the setpieces have a derivative quality about them. In fact it almost plays like a "greatest hits" of ERB, from a section involving a "Chamber of Madness" (inspired by the similar chamber John Carter finds himself in The Warlord of Mars) to a religious "god" whose divinity hides evil to even the cliffhanger ending, anyone who has picked up a Burroughs novel will recognize the source.

It's not to say it's all bad. The book is a quick read-at 160 pages-and does deliver some rousing action scenes. The opening setup-with the space race-brings current events into the tale, even if the race to colonize Mars and Jupiter seems silly, and the scenes between Adam and Delisse have some nice spark to them.

If you're a fan of sword and planet fiction and can find it, The Goddess of Ganymede is a decent if unspectacular entry in the genre. It doesn't equal the best of ERB or other works but for what it is it's a decent time killer. Rating: **1/2 out of 4.

Friday, September 5, 2014

Comic Review: Dejah of Mars #4

It's time for closure, and there will be blood (lots of it).

Managing to subdue the Red Reaper's wife (yep talk about needing marriage counseling), Dejah finally finds John Carter and the Reaper. Having drunk some of Carter's blood, the Reaper is preparing to activate a series of cannons (which was last seen in the Dejah Thoris and the Green Men of Mars series) and cause massive destruction, But he reveals they are something else, something that can bring an even more deadly force to life. So it's up to our heroic couple to save the day once again.

With everything from high speed pursuits and crashes to bloody eye gouging, manic monologues and massive sword wielding mutants, this last issue has it all. In fact it has too much, giving the feeling that a planned longer series was compressed into this last issue, which results in many dangling plot threads, unexplained twists (seriously where did those mutants come from?) and Dejah and Carter slashing and blasting their way through it all. I was critical of the Green Men of Mars series being dragged out beyond the breaking point but here it might have helped to give it some breath and allow Mark Rahner and company to present a more smooth narrative.

Still it manages to complete the story, helped by the standard excellent art by Jethro Morales, which manages to capture the action and characters quite well. Also a plus to the coloring, which for once makes the red men RED and Carter WHITE. Not pink or tanned.

Fans of the first three issues will find much here to enjoy but be prepared for a lot of stuff to be dumped in your laps before it ends and brings a close to this series and the start of the new one in November, Until next time folks, that's all!

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Ron Marz Talks 'John Carter' Part 2

With more build-up to the new series here's another interview, this time courtesy of ComicVine http://www.comicvine.com/articles/ron-marz-discusses-working-on-john-carter-warlord-/1100-149719/. Among the topics discussed are starting over with this new series, making it accessible to new readers and the revelation of the first story arc, "Invaders of Mars" which Marz describes as "a sweeping adventure that introduces the characters and the world, and also introduces a new villain to the Mars mythology." For more hit the link above and leave any thoughts below.

Dejah Thoris Sideshow Statue Revealed

Some Barsoom news from San Diego Comic-Con for you guys. Sideshow Collectibles has released first images of a Dejah Thoris statue for fan...