Wednesday, 26 February 2014

Harold Ramis: Rest in peace, Egon


Harold Ramis was one of the architects of my childhood, one of the geniuses who co-wrote and starred in the perfection that was Ghostbusters. The humour and excitement of that film blew my mind as a kid and shaped my creativity in ways I didn't realise for many years.

As I grew up I discovered the other classics he was a part of, Stripes, Caddyshack, National Lampoon's Vacation, Groundhog Day and more. Whether behind the camera or in front of it, Ramis was a genius of timing and understated humour which never failed to entertain and inspire me.

News of him passing away due to a lengthy battle against a horrible illness came as a shock to a lot of people like me. I didn't even know about it. I guess that's a sign of the man he was – never someone who courted sensationalist attention.

The tributes are pouring in from across the world, many of them mentioning his Ghostbusters and Groundhog Day credits (which is understandable, especially in the case of the massively popular and influential Ghostbusters), but to remember him fully is also to remember he was a director, a talented actor, a father, a husband and a friend to many. Rest in peace, Mr. Ramis. Thank you for the gifts of entertainment you gave the world.

Tuesday, 25 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: SPIDEY TRAILER AND THREEQUEL, X-MEN CLIP, WINTER SOLDIER FALCON POSTER, DC TAKES OVER TV


PANELS TO FRAMES: SPIDEY TRAILER AND THREEQUEL, X-MEN CLIP, WINTER SOLDIER FALCON POSTER, DC TAKES OVER TV

AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 2: ACTUALLY LOOKING DECENT? 

I hated the look of the first Amazing Spider-man film and still to this day refuse to watch it. The Lizard shouldn't look like a Mario Bros Goombah. I just can't face watching that thing. However, as much as I ranted about this new entry, the new trailer (featuring the rise of Electro) is looking much better.

Sure, Rhino is a CG Transformer, the Green Goblin isn't very green or much like a Goblin (I hope he gets the hood at some point) and Electro still looks like a sex toy, but this trailer is showing glimpses of what appears to be a pretty strong superhero film with some genuinely decent Spidey character moments. Could I have been wrong? Possibly.

Mind you, the inevitable smackdown between Spidey, a dildo, a Dinobot and a Power Rangers villain is liable to bore me senseless/enrage me, but that's the old comics fart in me saying that. Get offa my yard, you young whippersnappers!


AMAZING SPIDER-MAN 3 CONFIRMED – DATE AND DIRECTOR TOO! 

Marc Webb will once again be returning for the third Amazing Spider-man movie, which is set for a release date of Jun 10th 2016. Here's hoping he's learned from the mistakes made by the uneven and villain-heavy Spider-Man 3 from 2007. Then again, with the formation of The Sinister Six in the second movie, probably not.

X-MEN: DAYS OF FUTURE PAST CLIP 

A very, very brief clip of new X-Men: Days Of Future Past footage has been released and is being seen by some as an attempt to get some coverage in the wake of the debut of the epic trailer for the new GODZILLA. I love how this X-men movie is shaping up, but I'm starting to get a little concerned that it's way too overcrowded for its own good and may not hold the attention of the moviegoing masses. 

CAPTAIN AMERICA: THE WINTER SOLDIER – FALCON POSTER

The Falcon is looking badass in this new poster from the hotly-anticipated Captain America sequel. Everything I'm seeing about this flick is getting me more excited for it.

I loved the first Cap flick, but I'd be the first to admit it had its faults. Now the origin stuff is out of the way, we can get on with some proper stories, and I for one am excited to see how much this one delivers. 


DC TAKES OVER TV

While Marvel continues to dominate the big screen in terms of comic book movie output (until the much-debated Batman/Superman movie arrives), it's DC which is winning on TV. Marvel's patchy Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. is okay but really inconsistent, however Warner/DC's ARROW is going from strength to strength in terms of quality and audience numbers from what everyone is saying. I may even grudgingly have to check it out.

I never got on with Smallville as it just never seemed to gel properly somehow, but Arrow sounds far stronger in terms of narrative and overall quality. Add to this the forthcoming GOTHAM and THE FLASH and it seems that DC is taking a different approach in building an audience for their screen properties.

It's interesting to see how things have worked differently for the Big Two's properties. A lot of DC's output has the potential to work really well as ongoing Tv series, while Marvel seems more suited to cinemas. How all of these series will play a part in the developing cinematic DCU is anyone's guess. Probably nowhere, but if there was some crossover with the films, then that would be a stroke of genius in terms of world building.

====

(Panels To Frames is my comic book movie column. Usually running over at Lost In The Multiplex, the column is currently running here while the LITM site is down for maintenance work)

Friday, 21 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: THE FANTASTIC… EH?


PANELS TO FRAMES: THE FANTASTIC… EH?

Fox have apparently cast their new version of The Fantastic Four, and as with any comic book movie casting news, the fans are polarized. Well, actually for the most part fans are outraged, but that's fans for you. We get outraged easily.

Not only is this new Fantastic Four very young, but Johnny Storm is now African-American and Ben Grimm/The Thing is... Billy Elliott. No, seriously. They've apparently cast Jamie Bell as Ben Grimm. It's okay, I don't really know how they thought of him either. Great actor, but for The Thing? nah. The rest of the cast consists of Miles Teller as Reed Richards/Mister Fantastic, Kate Mara as Sue Storm/The Invisible Woman and Michael B. Jordan as the aforementioned Johnny Storm/Human Torch.

The young cast suggests to me yet another origin story. Sigh. Sigh again. Why can't we just have a FF movie where they're already established as heroes and not have to go through the same old getting used to abilities/becoming a proper team routine? There was a chance to break the mould a bit with a new take on The Fantastic Four, but if it's yet another origin story then I have even less interest in it than when this supposed casting news broke.

The previous Fantastic Four films, starring Ioan Gruffudd as Reed, Jessica Alba as Sue, Chris Evans as Johnny and Michael Chiklis as Ben, weren't perfect by a long way, but they were true to the spirit of the characters and were decent fun. Especially the second movie, Fantastic Four: Rise Of The Silver Surfer (aside from Galactus showing up as a giant space fart). Seriously, give that flick a second chance. Just hold some Kirby art over the screen when the big G shows up.

Anyway. This new one. As long as it still has a similar origin, Doctor Doom and suchlike then some semblance of the FF can be scavenged. If they go a completely different route to that which has been established and appreciated since the early 1960s, then audiences will wonder what all the fuss was about in the first place and shun the movie. Now if you'll excuse me I'll get back to reading flame wars about the cast.

Comic book resources have put up a poll about the casting (which has now apparently been confirmed). Cast your vote!


PANELS TO FRAMES is my comic movie column, which usually runs at Lost In The Multiplex. The column is running here right now as LITM is on hiatus due to much-needed maintenance.

Thursday, 20 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: OKAY, I'M SOLD ON GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


PANELS TO FRAMES: OKAY, I'M SOLD ON GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY


Okay, so my initial excitement following the 15 second teaser for the GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY trailer may have seemed excessive to some, but hey, I'm a 35 year old bald guy who still proudly reads comics in public, so what do I really care about what people think of me? Some people get excited about reality shows, or football, or upgrading their bloody smartphone. Myself? I get excited about comic book movies and the comics which spawned them.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY, that big fat gamble Marvel is taking by thrusting a big-budget, high-profile movie out of its awesome studios without the safety net of big name leads (aside from the fantastic Zoe Saldana) or indeed characters which are familiar to people outside of comics fandom.

I guess that lack of familiarity has allowed Marvel to have a bit more fun with what they bring to the screen this time out, and it certainly shows in the wonderfully unpredictable trailer. Of course, the big action scenes aren't glimpsed as effects work is still going on, but we get a sense of the fun atmosphere of the film as well a the look of it, which seems to be nestling somewhere between Farscape and Firefly. That's no bad thing.

Chris Pratt's Star Lord character seems like he's going to be something of a hit with those who check out the movie, coming across with a little bit of Han Solo and a little bit of everyone's favourite Browncoat, Mal. The other Guardians (Gamora, Drax, Groot and Rocket Raccoon) are going to get their fair share of attention too, but I'd say alongside Star Lord, it's going to be Rocket who steals the show. The glimpses of the film's design work feel like classic Star Wars – futuristic but battered, used and worn. That adds a little realism to the fantasy.


Naturally, GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY will feature a ton of comic book style acton set pieces (hopefully plenty involving Karen Gillan's awesome-looking Nebula – aka the bald blue badass who claimed to be the granddaughter of Thanos himself), but as with the Avengers before them, it looks like the film will be mainly carried by the dynamic in the team of misfits that are given the task of guarding, erm, the galaxy.

Add some disco music and obscene hand gestures and you have a trailer which has piqued the interest of a lot of people. And hot on the heels of that trailer and five short character spots comes the beautifully simple first poster for the movie, as you can see with this post.

It's a pretty standard (but very cool) poster until you see the nice and cocky “You're Welcome” at the bottom of it, alluding to the anarchic ride to come and the ongoing indoctrination of the Marvel methodology and ideas into cinemas. GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY looks set to surprise a lot of filmgoers with a comic book movie where the audience really doesn't know what to expect, and that sounds like a hell of a lot of fun to me.


(Note: PANELS TO FRAMES is my ongoing comic book movie column, usually to be found at LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX, currently running here while the site is on hiatus for maintenance)

Tuesday, 18 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY TEASER FOR THE TEASER


GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY TEASER FOR THE TEASER


Gah! This is one problem with being in England. I miss the stuff from the night-tim US shows getting their premieres, such as tonight's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY teaser. Earlier today Marvel released a 15 second teaser for the teaser. Yeah, a teaser trailer for a teaser trailer. I know. Normally I would be annoyed by this micro-advertising gimmick, but tonight I don't care one jot, because those 15 seconds look AMAZING.

The full teaser trailer is showing tonight in the US on the Jimmy Kimmel Live show, and of course will arrive online at the same time. Right when I'm having feverish dreams about what it's like. Look, this stuff matters to idiots like me, ok?

The teaser-teaser shows the first proper footage from the movie, and it looks brilliant. The visual feel to even just those brief glimpses is wonderful, very sci-fi but still grounded in that strange sort-of-reality feel that the Marvel movies do so well.

The characters look superb and that tantalizing shot of former Doctor Who star Karen Gillan as intergalactic villainess Nebula is just awesome. Someone commented on the video that the footage looks like Farscape, and I'm not sure if they meant that as a positive comment, but HELL YES that makes it even better for me.

Even just from these fifteen seconds of footage, I think my interest in this film is growing along with the feeling that it's going to surprise a lot of people – not least of all me! I am edging towards the thought that GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY is going to be a gamble which does actually pay of for Marvel, and that bodes well for the future of the comic book movie genre and of course the further development of the Marvel Cinematic Universe.

Big sci-fi epics will pave the way for some of the more fantastical elements of the Marvel Universe to be explored. Doctor Strange. Galactus. Skrulls. Hell, even some more lesser known teams might arrive onscreen. How about The New Warriors? But first of all, there's GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY to look forward to. Now hurry up and let me go to sleep so I can stop fidgeting so much waiting for the proper teaser.


(Note: PANELS TO FRAMES, my comic book movie column, continues to run here at my own site while its usual home, LOST IN THE MULTIPLEX, is on hiatus for maintenance)

Saturday, 8 February 2014

PANELS TO FRAMES: VISION AND MS. MARVEL IN AGE OF ULTRON? GUARDIANS 2 IN 2016?

(Panels to Frames continues right here until Lost In The Multiplex returns from its maintenance-induced hiatus) 

AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON CAST GROWS? 


The cast of characters that are to appear onscreen in the forthcoming AVENGERS: AGE OF ULTRON seems to be growing further still, with rumours circulating that The Vision (apparently to be played by Paul Bettany, the voice of JARVIS) and Ms. Marvel (rumoured to be played by Katee Sackhoff) are to join the current lineup of Captain America, Iron Man, Hulk, Thor, Black Widow and newcomers Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver.

 Would yet more heroes overcomplicate the film with a crowded roster, or do they add further to the story? Plus, I'd be interested to see how they're going to add The Vision if they indeed do so, considering his origins. Although, having said that, maybe the Vision would be part of the creation of Ultron, especially with Bettany voicing JARVIS and the rumours that Stark's AI actually becomes Ultron in the first place.

Overcrowding the Avengers would run the risk of an incoherent film with too much going on and nothing getting enough attention (see X-MEN: THE LAST STAND as an example). Alternatively, these new additions could just further enrich the Marvel movie universe. Either way, I still think it'll whup the backside of any DC movie coming out in the next few years.

GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY 2 IN 2016? 


It's been said that Marvel's 2016 summer slot is to be taken up by a sequel to the forthcoming GUARDIANS OF THE GALAXY. This is interesting, considering the outcome of the gamble that is the first film is yet to be determined.

 This is one film in particular which Marvel are counting on to further expand their cinematic line, but with no popular characters in it and a tongue-in-cheek feel to the footage which has been screened, it's going to be one a lot of people will be checking the numbers for. 

With the big sci-fi scale of the movie, a lot of cash has been poured into it and I wonder if the sequel will be canned if this first one tanks. Mind you, it's a Marvel Studios movie and for the most part they have been delivering the goods in damn fine style.

What is especially interesting is the expansion of the Marvel movie universe with some bigger science fiction concepts. Following the lead of the THOR movies, expanding the MCU with these ideas is a great big step towards bringing some of the more fantastical classic stories to the big screen at last.