Archive for film

SDCC: Green Lantern Gets a Green Game.

Posted in Comics, DC, film, Green Lantern, videogames with tags , , , , , , , on 24th July, 2010 by Red Baron

These are the Manhunters, former protectors of the universe.

Another comic-to-film-to-videogame adaptation has been announced by Warner Bros. Interactive; this time for Green Lantern.  The game will be titled Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters, which hopefully indicates strong ties with Geoff Johns’ work on the character.  Unless it’s also the full title of the film, which hopefully will also draw heavily on Johns’ stellar run.  The game will release Summer 2011, or Winter for those of us in the southern hemisphere.

I’ve never played a Green Lantern videogame before, so it’ll be interesting to see how they handle his virtually limitless powers: using willpower to forge constructs out of green light.  Now a thought-controlled videogame – that I’d like to see.

Deadpool is Green Lantern…Wai–Wha?!

Posted in Comics, DC, Deadpool, film, Green Lantern, Marvel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 27th July, 2009 by Red Baron
Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, is Green Lantern?

Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool, is Green Lantern?

I was more than shocked to read in passing that ‘[Geoff] Johns is really excited about Ryan Reynolds as GL.’ This was during the Blackest Night panel at the San Diego Comic-Con. While I’m sure Geoff Johns was just being polite and towing the company line, DC (or should I say, Warner Bros.?) must be stark, raving mad to sign an actor connected with not just one, but two sword-slinging, smart-mouthed Marvel properties, to portray their now-flagship character, Hal Jordan, the Green Lantern. I am of course referring to Reynolds’ turn as Hannibal King of Blade fame, but more importantly, to his recent role as Deadpool in the Wolverine film (soon to be reprised in a central, starring capacity).

I couldn’t tell you how many hits Bat-Shark Repellent receives on a daily basis, from Google searches on “deadpool”, “deadpool movie”, and “deadpool ryan reynolds” [sic], but I can tell you it’s a lot.  I can tell you first hand that there is a lot of interest surrounding Ryan Reynolds’ Deadpool film, and despite Marvel’s mishandling of the character in Wolverine‘s final act, their interest is well-placed.  Reynolds’ nailed the ‘Merc with a Mouth’ aspect of the character, with a lithe, muscular physique to boot.  He’s perfect for the part.

But not for Green Lantern.  Hal Jordan is a straight-shooter with a carefree abandon, but he’s not a smartass.  Not to Ryan Reynolds levels, he isn’t.  Hal Jordan’s wit and charm hearken back to the James Deans and the Steve McQueens of the day – the ‘Rat Pack’, not the ‘Brat Pack’.  In fact, I was watching The Great Escape the other day, and Hal Jordan is exactly like Steve McQueen.  He dislikes authority; he plays by his own rules; and he can’t be couped up because he wants to be free, no matter the cost.  So in the absence of Steve McQueen, WB should be signing someone like him.

Witty one-liners are the skill of the superhero – more important than flying or super-strength – but there are different brands of wit, and I’m sorry, but Reynolds just doesn’t have Hal Jordan’s.  But hey, what do I know?  This is Hollywood we’re talking about here, and I very much doubt that Warner Bros. concern themselves with stuff like this.  No-one outside of Comicdom really knows Hal Jordan, so they’re likely thinking of him as a blank slate – not a sacred cow like Batman or Superman.  The pitch probably went something like this: “think Wolverine meets Superman” and BAMMO! “Get Ryan Reynolds’ agent on the phone, pronto!”

Reynolds must love him some comics, as this deal would make him the first actor to portray characters from both Marvel and DC.  He was also attached to play the Flash a few years ago.  Now that I can see, provided they meant the quick-witted Wally West Flash and not the straight-down-the-line Barry Allen Flash.

To my mind – and I’m sure to many others’ – Ryan Reynolds is Deadpool.  Steve McQueen is Green Lantern!  I’ll probably see this film regardless – and I’m sure Warner Bros. know this – more out of morbid curiousity than anything else.  But who knows?  Maybe Reynolds can channel McQueen and all will be right in Sector 2814.  (That’s Earth.)

For my money, this Green Lantern fan’s vision of a film starring Nathan Fillon makes a whole lot more sense:

Stephen King’s The Dark Tower: The Gunslinger Born Hardcover

Posted in Comics, Dark Tower, film, Marvel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 24th May, 2009 by Red Baron
Welcome to Stephen King's living, breathing world.

Welcome to Stephen King's living, breathing world.

Creative Director: Stephen King
Script: Peter David
Plot: Robin Furth
Artist: Jae Lee
Inker/Colorist: Richard Isanove
Letterer: Chris Eliopoulos
Associate Editor: Nicole Boose
Editor: John Barber
Senior Editor: Ralph Macchio

Stephen King is no stranger to comic books.  I can confirm, for one thing, that he has at least read Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series.  Whether or not he read the whole thing, I can’t say for certain, but he definitely knew his stuff when writing the foreword to “Worlds’ End”.  What came through in King’s foreword was not only his deep respect for Neil Gaiman as an author, but also for the comic book medium itself.  It should, then, come as no surprise that King enlisted the services of two notable comic book artists to illustrate his long-running series and “magnum opus” The Dark Tower, Dave McKean and Bernie Wrightson.  Then I read King’s afterword to The Dark Tower, and discovered that he’s also read and loved Watchmen, Preacher, and V for Vendetta.  All of this bodes well for a Stephen King graphic novel.

The Dark Tower, as a comic book adaptation of a Stephen King novel, is a difficult book to review.  If it’s well-written (and it is), who gets the credit for it?  Stephen King, who wrote the original novels?  Peter David who wrote the scripts?  Or Robin Furth, who plotted the thing?  Well, if I had read the original novels, I’d be able to tell you!  But I haven’t, so I’m just going to have to thank King for the source material, Peter David for his speechcraft, and Robin Furth for his encyclopaedic knowledge of Mid-World (apparently he knows more about the world of Dark Tower than Stephen King himself!).  I’ve also been informed that The Gunslinger Born is a prequel after some fashion, beginning the story in chronological order for the first time, and so in many ways, this is new ground for the series.

Mid-World – the world of Dark Tower – is an interesting milieu of cultures.  The gunslingers are Old West, but their dialect is known as the High Speech.  The consistency in language really contributed to this feeling of a living, breathing world.  There are wizards and mystical orbs of power, but they still need oil supplies to refuel their World War I tanks.  The unusual placement of familiar objects is all at once surreal and fantastical, but with echoes of reality.  It feels as though Mid-World has always existed, and is simply being revealed to us bit by bit, rather than being built from the ground up.

The Gunslinger Born follows a pretty simple mythic structure.  A boy named Roland Deschain undergoes a rite of passage to become a man, then leaves his family and sets out on a perilous journey with his mates (or his ka-tet).  The gunslingers are an Arthurian Order, Roland falls in love with the damsel in distress, and all the while a dark lord is preparing his army.

The presentation of this comic is probably the most cinematic I have seen, so I have little doubt that this will work brilliantly as a feature film under J.J. Abrams’ care and attention.  The characters are beautifully drawn by artist Jae Lee – again, playing on that grounded surrealism – while Richard Isanove’s colours are moody and atmospheric.  My only qualm with the art, and indeed, the entire book is that the backgrounds are a little too samey from panel to panel.  One the one hand, it maintains this consistency of place and atmosphere, but still, it’s a little minimalistic given the stunning foreground detail, and it did wear me down eventually seeing only one background colour per page.  I know it’s cinematic, and I know it’s fantasy, but it’d be nice to have a hand-drawn background every once in a while.  Still, the book is gorgeous.

As someone who’s never made it through a Stephen King novel, I can honestly say this was an enjoyable read with an enticing world and interesting characters.  The Dark Tower is a great touching point for anyone who’s new to the medium and wants to read a story without the baggage of continuity.  It’s also a great place to start for Stephen King fans who want to gain an appreciation of graphic storytelling, to see what it can do with their favourite story.

Iron Man Lives Again!

Posted in Comics, film, Iron Man, Marvel with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 16th May, 2009 by Red Baron

First of all, let me qualify this review by saying that I am a huge DC Comics nut. One need only look as far as my blog header to determine that. So the fact that a Marvel comic-to-film adaptation caught my eye was an achievement in itself. After seeing the trailer for Iron Man a few months ago, it did more than merely ‘catch my eye’; it actually made me excited for the film. If you haven’t seen it already, take some time to have a look:

What you can take away from that trailer, and what I ultimately took away from the film is this: a grounded plot and believable acting can sell an iron man, comic book films are supposed to be fun, and Robert Downey Jr. is a perfect fit for Tony Stark.

Downey Jr. portrays an utterly human Tony Stark in the Marvel tradition – conflicted and flawed, but ultimately likable. The billionaire industrialist, like his father before him, has built his entire fortune and empire on weapons manufacture and military technology. In the film’s opening scenes, you really get the impression that Stark believes in his company’s role in global stability. This all comes into conflict, though, after an explosive sales-pitch in the Middle-East, when Stark is grievously injured and captured in a terrorist firefight. Iron Man is really born in his prison-cave, long before the suit is built. Indeed, he is born almost out of necessity – Stark wakes up connected to a car battery – an electromagnet the only thing keeping shrapnel from his heart. But more than that, Stark is forced to confront the reality of his world [he’s also forced at gunpoint to re-create his own missile, but that’s another story]; a world in which his own weapons are proliferated for evil designs. His fellow prisoner Yinsen becomes his closest friend, who not only inspires him to be Iron Man, but also helps him build Iron Man. It feels as though Downey’s brought a lot of himself to the table: the slick, aging ‘rock star’ who yearns for release from the shallow trappings of wealth and fame. It’s almost ironic that Stark manages to fill that void by constructing a shell for himself.


Downey Jr. is Tony Stark. Tony Stark is Iron Man.

Iron Man is rich with themes and metaphors like these. The most obvious themes being those of financial, military, and creative power, and accountability for that power. In many ways Iron Man represents the America that it wants to be. On his first jaunt as the finished Iron Man, Stark ventures back to his place of capture to destroy his own weapons and take out the terrorists, without a single civilian casualty. It’s a pity that these excursions are few and far between, but that’s the price of the obligatory first-film-as-origin-story approach. Having said that, Iron Man features one of the better origin stories this side of Batman Begins, and it’s really necessary to sell us on the idea of one man having the mental, financial, and technological capacity to build such a complex suit of armour. Having witnessed the level of detail in the special effects, it really made me wonder how anyone could have believed in an Iron Man as early as the sixties. That’s more a testament to the film than a criticism of the source material.

As amazing as the special effects are, it’s the performance of the cast that really carries the plot. All of the major players (Downey Jr., Terence Howard, Gwyneth Paltrow, Jeff Bridges, and Shaun Toub) serve as strong reference points with believable and well-rounded performances. Tony Stark is more than just a billionaire playboy, Pepper Potts is more than a love interest, James Rhodes is more than just a ‘token black guy’. You really get the impression that these characters are in it for the long haul, and there are a few gentle nods toward this notion. As I alluded to earlier, Robert Downey Jr. was the perfect choice to play Stark, winning us over with his wit and charm, and convincing us in those grim, life and death moments. Iron Man really has the right combination of comedy and mature content for a comic book film, and is reflective of the age and sensibilities of the comic readership. A majority of the laughs are dealt in the suit-testing phases. In these scenes, wealth and technology become his uncomfortable allies, and slowly we see him scorn the former for his Greater Purpose. Granted, this message can be a little hard to swallow with all the product placement (Iron Man would like to thank Burger King, Ford and Audi for their support), but it’s another day at the office for Showbiz.

In what I perceive as its central theme – Creativity vs. the Man – Iron Man takes more than a few stabs at big corporations. In Iron Man, we ultimately see Stark as the creative human being, and the Corporation as a perverter of creativity, and a thief of great ideas. When Iron Man faces off against his own technology in the final battle, he asserts his position as a responsible and accountable force in the world. Again, he is the America that America wants to be.

With spot-on characterisations and richness in theme, credit must go to the scriptwriting team for mining and distilling the wealth of the source material, and director Jon Favreau for handling the film with utmost respect for the character [it all comes back to using power responsibly, see?]. Iron Man brings home the gold, but it also keeps a few aces up its sleeve. If you’re a comics fan, you should have a fair idea of what to expect in the sequel, just don’t look too hard before you actually see the film.

When all is said and done, Iron Man stands tall as a great comic book film. It works both as an action film and a comic book story, denying the power of neither medium. Favreau, Downey and Company sell an iron man to a new audience, even to this DC Comics fan. Well done.

Review on the Run: Hancock.

Posted in Comics, film, Hancock with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on 15th May, 2009 by Red Baron

I went in with fairly low expectations, and I have to say, I was pleasantly surprised with Hancock. Once you get past the five-minute slapstick opening (CG seagulls – you’ll see what I mean), it’s all smooth sailing. Probably the best performance was given by Jason Bateman, who plays a struggling PR man. He finds new purpose in improving the super-lout’s public image, but he certainly gets more than he bargained for.

There’s a few nods to other superheroes here and there, including Iron Man and The Hulk, mostly because Hancock’s always getting drunk and breaking things. But even if you’re not a comic-book nerd like myself you’ll find plenty to enjoy. CG seagulls aside, my only real gripe with the film is the lack of a real imposing villain. Of course, my points of reference are Lex Luthor and the Joker, so that comparison may not be fair.