Sunday, January 23, 2011

The Dark Knight Rises

Hi everyone! So at long last Bat freaks like yours truly can celebrate in the knowledge of who those pesky villains will be in the third and final chapter of director Christopher Nolan's Batman trilogy, "The Dark Knight Rises" scheduled to pummel its way into theaters in the summer of 2012. Drum roll please.....CATWOMAN AND BANE! Cool right? Last week Warner Bros. issued a press release confirming this and which actors had been cast in these iconic roles. Anne Hathaway is Selina Kyle/Catwoman and Thomas Hardy is Bane. Personally, I am thrilled with Nolan's decision to include Catwoman in the new movie. Next to The Joker and Two Face, she is probably the most enduring of all of Batman's rogues.
Catwoman has enjoyed various incarnations throughout her many year history. In Frank Miller's "Batman Year One" series she is depicted as a societal outcast scratching out a living as a sleazy call girl in one of the roughest sections of a dangerous town before seeing Batman's heroic acts caught on the news inspires her to fight on behalf of others who are exploited and downtrodden as Catwoman. In Jeph Loeb's "The Long Halloween," Selina Kyle is characterized a skilled jewel thief with a fiery vendetta against Gotham's more notorious crime families and combat skills that rival those of The Dark Knight himself. It is unclear which incarnation of Catwoman Nolan will choose for the film, but, as was certainly the case with Heath Ledger's "Joker," in the last movie, I'm sure he will give a fresh and unexpected interpretation of the character while never losing focus of what makes them character special to begin with.
I am really hoping that Anne Hathaway brings something new and exciting to the table as Catwoman. I have not seen her in very many dramatic roles but I heard she is quite good and she certainly has her work cut out for her following in the footsteps of Michelle Phiefer, whose unhinged portrayal of the whip toting villainess in Tim Burton's "Batman Returns" is arguably the best performance ever by a female actor in a comic book based movie. Unfortunately I can't say the same for Halle (Hotty) Barry. (Stick to Storm Hon)
In Batman's expansive rogue's gallery there are not many villains who can top The Joker. Penguin can't do it, Riddler can't do it, and until he learns how to chuck actual lightening bolts, Maxi Zeus sure as heck can't do it. But if there is one penultimate bada$$ with the potential to be equally, if not even more deadly than the Clown Prince of Crime himself it is the man who broke The Batman, Bane. One of Batman's more modern rogues, Bane was introduced in the "Knightfall" storyline in the mid 90's. A brutal fighter and brilliant strategist, Bane targeted Gotham as the place were he would make a name for himself after escaping from the dismal confines of a barbaric South American prison where he had been locked up for most of his life. Upon arriving, Bane immediately set his sights on destroying The Caped Crusader both physically and psychologically by orchestrating a mass breakout from Arkham Asylum. Struggling tirelessly to recapture all the escaped inmates, Batman was finally confronted by the mastermind responsible and exhausted beyond all measure proved no match for the physically dominate Bane who broke Batman's back in the fight that ensued. So yeah, pretty scary dude if you ask me.
I am not familiar with much of Hardy's work other than his supporting role in the brilliant "Inception." Granted, the guy does not exactly posses Hulk Hogan like physique of his comic book counterpart but definitely has a very strong charisma about him in the mind bending thriller that enables him to stand out from some of his more well known co-stars. Whatever route they have in store for Bane, one of Batman's most cunning and dangerous foes, I'm sure it will be a vast improvement on the drooling idiot schumaker reduced the character to in the abysmal stinkfest "Batman and Robin" (shudder!)
In closing, I am greatly looking forward to seeing how Nolan intends to make these characters fit into his distinct vision of Batman's world. At the end of "The Dark Knight," we saw Batman shoulder the blame for a series of murders he did not commit and in a symbolic sense fall from being the champion of Gotham to a wanted fugitive, hunted by the police and hated and feared by the people he has sworn to protect. Perhaps he will find a kindred spirit in Catwoman, a whip wielding Robin Hood and fellow outlaw who also operates in the gray area between right and wrong and always manages to stay one step ahead of the long hand of the law. Will the two forge a common bond? Or will Batman's unshakable moral compass force him to bring her to justice? And now that the Gotham City Police Force's number one prerogative seems to be the capture of Batman at all costs, perhaps, in there overeagerness they will turn to a man with skills to rival those of The Dark Knight. A man who can get inside his head like no other, a man with sinister ulterior motives and hidden allegiances (The League of Shadows???) A man like Bane. Although details of the actual plot remain a matter of pure speculation, one thing is for certain. The Dark Knight will be faced with what will undoubtedly be his most harrowing challenge yet. And through adversity, he will rise.


Sunday, January 16, 2011

The New Spiderman

Hi everyone! Just thought I'd share this exciting first image from the the new Spiderman movie set to swing its way into theaters in the summer of 2012! I know what your thinking, WTF! This isn't Toby Maguire! Well, it seems the director of the Maguire/Dunst trilogy, Sam Raimi, was very much intending to make a 4th installment that was supposed to come out sometime in 2011 and feature Vulture and Black Cat as the main villains but after just about every screen writer in Hollywood tried and failed to hash out a half decent spidey story that resuscitated the franchise after the colossal disappointment of 2007's "Spiderman 3," the studio petitioned to give the series a clean slate and start over with a new director, new actors, and new direction. In one word. REBOOT!
It is difficult to formulate a solid opinion based on one image but I can tell you already that I'm liking what I'm seeing here. I'm sure purists will balk about the liberties taken with Spidey's classic red & blue threads but I think that they definitely look more practical and something that a teenager with next to no tailoring skills could maybe come up with on his own. (granted, that's a big maybe!)
Speaking of teenagers, the actor cast to play Peter Parker and his arachnid alter ego is Andrew Garfield and he is definitely not one but rather in his late twenties which is kind of weird seeing as how a big reason for the studio's wanting to give the series a fresh start was the desire to focus on a younger, teenage Peter Parker who is dealing with the typical insecurities of being a kid in high school while at the same time having to cope with the awesome responsibility bestowed on him by his new, extraordinary abilities.
Oddly enough I saw this guy in something days before he landed the role and without even know his name was in the mix. The movie was called "The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus" and, on a side not, was also the last film Heath Ledger acted in before the tragic event of his death. I have to say, this kid Garfield gave a pretty impressive performance in that movie, and definitely managed to hold his own against the more seasoned Ledger.
In my opinion this guy definitely looks more like Peter Parker to me than Maguire ever did. In the original Stan Lee/Steve Ditko comics Peter was always depicted as having a more tall, slender, awkward build to him. Maybe it is due to my own personal bias as a tall, slender, awkward guy but that is how I believe old Petey boy should look in a film adaptation, and the diminutive Maguire certainly never fit that bill.
Now that we have been treated to this little appetite wetter I am very curious as to who the villain, or villains will be? Kraven? Rhino? Looks like he's got a nasty scratch there on his cheek, could that be a little souvenir from a run in with The Lizard? Or Black Cat? Personally I would love to see Spidey's arch foe, The Green Goblin, wrecking all sorts of havoc on the webslinger's already tumultuous existence so long as he trades in that goofy Power Ranger getup Willem Defoe had the misfortune of wearing in the first film in favor of the fundamentally disturbing latex mask and purple jerkin he sports in the comics but I'm guessing they will probably save him for the sequel similar to the approach they took with The Joker in the current Batman franchise. As long as they steer clear of any of the symbiote crap, or Peter decked out in his huggers and Jared Leto eyeliner doing on his best John Travolta strut (shudder!) they ought to be Okay. Here's hoping.


Saturday, January 15, 2011

The Green Hornet

Hi everyone! So the last night I went to see "The Green Hornet" which stars Seth (stoner) Rogan as the masked hero and Jay Chou as his loyal manservant/crime fighting comrade. The character, whose pulp origins date all the way back to a 40's era radio program was later adapted into a live action television series in the 60s which co-starred a young Bruce Lee as Kato. Knowing this, the filmmakers try and pay homage to what has come before by incorporating some of what I'm guessing is the old t.v. series' theme music and a clever Bruce Lee reference while still attempting to be fresh and hip for a new generation. Does it succeed? Umm, kind of but not really.
Seth Rogan plays Britt Reid, whose exploits as a lazy, irresponsible, party loving socialite are an embarrassment to his cold and distant, newspaper mogul father who detests having to publish his son's latest nightly excursions along with the paper's more serious hard boiled news. Then, seemingly out of the blue, the elder Reid is killed from an allergic reaction to a bee sting and young Britt is handed the reigns of a media empire he wants nothing to do with and hasn't the slightest idea of how to run. Longing for someone to confide in, Reid befriends Kato, a longtime employee of the family who worked on his father's cars and fixed his morning brew. A man of many talents, Kato shows Reid the 007 like modifications he built into his father's cars including completely bulletproof siding and razor sharp, lance like protrusions that extend from the tires reminiscent of famous chariot scene in Ben Hurr. Commiserating over tales of mistreatment at the hands of Reid Senior, the two soon indulge in one to many shots of liquor and decide to spite the elder Reid's ghost by taking out one of his prized cars for a joyride, a decision which has untold consequences as the two come across a mugging in progress and spring to the aid of the young victims. During this scene we are introduced to the idea of "Kato vision," in which the young mechanic/barrista/martial arts extraordinaire (I know, just go with it) figuratively slows down time in his mind's eye and, like a physical game of chess, methodically chooses the most efficient way to incapacitate an adversary. This stylistic touch is pretty cool at first but quickly becomes redundant especially in light of similar approaches that have been done before (The Matrix, Sherlock Holmes, etc.) and detracts from what ought to be the chaotic, unpredictable nature of the fight.
After narrowly escaping from the Police who mistake them for criminals, the two retreat back to Britt's mansion were, jacked on adrenaline, Britt proposes they pursue crime fighting as a nightly profession and, in a twist on the classic superhero ideal, secretly pose as bad guys to trick the villains into a false sense of trust and taking them out one by one. Using his influence as the new CEO of the family newspaper "The Sentinel" to his advantage, Britt dubs the new crime lord "The Green Bee," which is quickly altered to the more menacing sounding "The Green Hornet" and build his own legend by publishing his exploits on the front page of the paper.
The rest of the movie plays out in an eye roll inducing ride of bad jokes, crude humor, and cartoonish action scenes as Britt and Kato take on organized crime in the form of Chudnofsky, an unlikely looking crime boss with a sweet, two headed handgun and a very big Napoleon complex, and political corruption in the form of a sleazy D.A. who may have had a hand in Britt's father's death.
For what it is, a lighthearted buddy comedy with a superhero twist, The Green Hornet manages to be fun despite its over the top silliness and frequent displays of immaturity. It's obvious the scrip was specifically tailored to fit Seth Rogan's comic sensibilities as an actor and doesn't bother to strive for much more which is unfortunate seeing as how I hoped that Britt would progress from being an immature buffoon into something roughly resembling a hero by the end but such a character arc was apparently beyond the very limited scope of the film's aspirations.
In closing, I would sum up "The Green Hornet" as being a charming yet ultimately disposable bit of entertainment who's "sting" is sure to be very short lived especially with the guarantee of far more fulfilling comic book based movies just off the horizon.


Tuesday, January 11, 2011

The Cape

Hi everyone! So the other night I watched the two hour premiere of the highly anticipated new NBC show "The Cape" or as I like to call it, "two teaspoons of Batman with a dash of Punisher and a pinch of Spawn." No but seriously, it was as though the writers intentionally tossed in elements of the Batman mythos they thought would work well in the context of the show and diluted them with motifs common to superheroes with tastes more partial to the "grim and gritty" so as and not come off as too "obvious" to anyone but the died in the wool comics fans like yours truly. But more on that a little later.
The main protagonist of the show is Vince Faraday, a good cop, loving family man, and all around hometown hero. That is, until the police force Vince has sworn to serve and protect on is transformed into a shady corporate entity run by the nefarious bureaucrat Peter Fleming whose dubious ties to organized crime run deeper than anyone can imagine. Refusing to be a part of Fleming's vision, Vince is framed for a series of murders he did not commit and hunted down by his own men in uniform until an explosion appears to claim his life. Believing that he Perished in the fire, the media declares Vince dead when in reality, he barely escapes with the skin on his back. Drifting in and out of consciousness, Vince awakens to find himself held captive in the lair of The Carnival of Crime, a motley assortment of sideshow-esque circus performers reminiscent of the Penguin's Red Triangle Gang from Batman Returns who have apparently found robbing banks to be a preferable way to make a living than taming Lions and jumping through hoops of fire. Eager for retribution against Fleming, Vince utilizes his knowledge of all entry codes for every major bank in the city, aiding the Carnival in its biggest bank robbing spree yet right under the authorities noses. Having proved his loyalty to the Carnival, Max, the group's leader and flamboyant master magician, takes Vince under his wing and determines to teach him the skills magic and illusion. One day, while wondering through the group's hideout, Vince happens upon a unique cape made entirely of spider silk, with extraordinary tactile capabilities. With the support of his new family, Vince incorporates the cape into a dark new vigilante persona inspired by the comic book character of the same name whose exploits he recalled having read to his son in his previous life. Thus is born The Cape!
The rest of the pilot plays out like any typical revenge story with Vince trying to get back at the man who tore his life apart and the system that burned him. I mentioned earlier about some aspects of the show that seemed very derivative of the Batman mythos. One was an enigmatic character named Orwell. An investigative blogger who comes to form an alliance with The Cape and be his informational database of sorts when it comes to dealing with some of the baddies he encounters during his initial costumed escapade. This reminded me a great deal of a character in the Batman mythos named Oracle who works behind the scenes doing pretty much exactly the same thing for ole' pointy ears and the rest of the Bat-family. Another character that made me shake my head a little in reproach was one of the shows featured villains, "Scales" a hulking tough guy with a skin condition guaranteed to hurt his chances get many dates on a Friday night. This dude reminded me a lot of the Batman comics' Waylon Jones, aka. Killer Croc, a brutal thug for hire who resembles, well, I suppose the name pretty much says it all, ha ha.
My other few minor criticisms of the show mainly have to do with pacing as the second hour of the pilot seems to loose some of the steam it built after a truly killer first and the unavoidable potholes in logic that invariably rear up like parading pink elephants in any live action show based on a guy who dresses up like Halloween and go kick the crud out of bad guys. (The Authorities don't suspect that the Carnival of Crime's secret hideout is in the abandoned fairground!? Really!? Vince's own son doesn't recognize his dad is The Cape when drop's by for a night cap!? REALLY!?)
Nitpicking fuss-budget as I am, the truth is that I really did enjoy this first episode quite a bit. There was drama, explosions, fisticuffs and most important to any superhero story, heart. What more could one ask for? Except maybe a smokin' hot fem fatal in skin tight vinyl and a whip. But Seriously, If the pilot was any indication of what the rest of the season has in store then we are in for a really fun ride. And so long as The Cape doesn't take on any boy sidekicks with green tighty tights and pixie boots, I, for one, will definitely be onboard for it!

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Green Lantern

Hi everyone! So the other night I watched the Green Lantern Trailer again for the umpteenth time. "In brightest day, in blackest night..." This is the first and most recognizable line of the sacred oath that all fledgling Lanterns are made to recite before crossing the threshold from rookie into into full blooded officer of the Green Lantern Corps. In fact the first trailer ends with Ryan Reynolds, cast to portray the titular character of Captain Hal, "Highball" Jordan reciting these words in a solemn voice over as the action winds to a close on screen. For those who are unfamiliar with the history of the character, the DC universe has been populated by a cast of colorful personalities who have wielded a power ring and attested to the name of Green Lantern but none have been quite as enduring as Hal Jordan.
Introduced in the silver age of the 1960s when DC was revamping many of its more fantastical characters by grounding their powers in the newly captivating arena of theoretical science rather than the magic and mysticism that had been prevalent in comics before, Hal Jordan was written as a cocky and reckless test pilot who, through a radical turn of fate, happens on an alien craft that has crash landed in a remote area. The alien inside, dying from injuries sustained from the crash, informs a stunned Hal that he is to take his place as protector of space sector 2814 and officer in the Green Lantern Corps, a cosmic police force created and presided over by the oldest and most powerful beings in existence, the guardians, whose mission it is to maintain justice and order in the universe. Bequeathing to Hal a glowing emerald ring whose crest bears the standard of his new unearthly masters,he is suddenly transported to Oa, home world of the guardians and base of operations for all Green Lantern activity, were he is given a crash course by a motley host of alien veterans, none too thrilled about the inclusion of an "earth boy" in their elite organization, and learns to harness the near limitless power of the ring.
What follows is a great deal of outer space "superheroing," bizarre and memorable alien encounters, and just plain menagerie of all out awesomeness as Hal embarks on his new career as intergalactic lawman and earth's green guardian of good. All this is subsidiary however to one of the most central and enduring themes that that informs Green Lantern and his world. The power to overcome fear. This is the most important prerequisites for any Green Lantern and the reason why the ring selected Hal to be its bearer. In his occupation as a test pilot, his fearless nature is first made evident through the daredevil tendencies he displays in a cockpit which perfectly mirrors the "by the seat of his pants" motto that governs his life in general. Throughout the course of his journey, Hal is forced to reevaluate his perception of what it means to overcome fear as the power of the ring and the title of Green Lantern awakens him to a daunting sense of duty and responsibility he had previously spent his whole life trying to avoid.
Having had only a peripheral understanding of the character growing up it was not until picking up the incredible Green Lantern: Rebirth series that hit comic shelves back in 2004 that I came to love Green Lantern and the gorgeous mythology steeped into his world. In the series, Hal Jordan, exiled and forced to seek redemption as a roving spirit of justice for crimes committed against the Green Lantern corps after the destruction of Coast City (long story short) fights to return from beyond the grave and recapture the essence of his former glory as old enemies from the past rise up to threaten those he cares for. A critical success, the book not only reintroduced Hal to a new generation of fans, but breathed new and radiant life into the Green Lantern mythos, whose light had dimmed throughout a great deal of the 90's.
Fastly becoming my favorite comic book character next to Batman and Superman, I used to imagine how cool it would be if Green Lantern and his world were ever adapted to the silver screen in a big budget motion picture thematically reminiscent of Richard Donner's classic Superman: The Movie of 1979. I even started to work on a script treatment myself before growing frustrated and abandoning it before long. Now it looks like I am finally getting my wish in June 2011 as the official Green Lantern movie is poised to shine it's light on movie theaters all over the world. Upon first viewing the trailer when it hit the web a couple months ago I was immediately captivated by the suit and how it looks like an actual construct of light as opposed to a uniform someone would put on. Other technical aspects of the film, including brief, and I mean BRIEF glimpses of Oa, the greatest Green Lantern turned fallen angel Sinestro, and Hal becoming acclimated to his new powers are just spectacular to behold. It is obvious that the filmmakers care deeply about the mythology and set out to make a movie that satisfies both hardcore fans and main stream audiences alike. Although I was initially pretty iffy about the choice of casting Reynolds as Hal due to his cinematic portfolio being dominated mostly by "funny guy" roles and the fact that his charming persona and dubious notoriety with members of the fairer sex seem to counterbalance his actual talents as an actor, more and more I get the feeling that he was the right choice for the part since his natural charisma and off the cuff humor seem to gel perfectly with the comics' original characterization of a rookie Green Lantern in way over his head. In closing, it is my fervent hope that this movie is successful and makes people take notice of just what a gem this character and the distinct world he inhabits has come to be for comic readers and lovers of fiction like myself.

In brightest day
In blackest night
No evil shall escape my sight
Let those who worship evil's might
Beware my power
Green Lantern's Light!


Monday, January 3, 2011


Hi everyone! Today I want to talk about a book I finished not too long ago. "Phantom" by Susan Kay. I have always been captivated by the story of "the Phantom of the Opera." Something about the story and its themes of mystery, madness, longing, and ultimate redemption through the transcendent power of love have always gotten to me in a way that few other works of fiction can. This book had been on my reading list for a long time and I had to resort to ordering it off Amazon since it has been out of print for awhile. After having read it cover to cover I can happily tell you it was well worth the near thirty dollars it cost me.
The book is a sort of prequal to the classic Leroux novel and tells the story of Erik's journey into becoming the character we know and recognize from pop culture from the tragic circumstances surrounding his birth to to his self-imposed exile within the dark catacombs fo the Paris Opera House to his doomed romance with Christine. Tracing nearly the entirety of his life, the book expands greatly upon archaic bits of exposition that were presented but never really elaborated upon in the classic Leroux novel such as the reasons behind his raw hatred toward his mother the complex nature of Erik's relationship with the Persian.
The book is split into five different secions, each related by a different narrator. The first is told by Erik's mother Madelaine, who is cruel, selfish, and just not a very nice person at all. Her preocupaion with beauty and upper class pride cause her to loathe her son for the ghastly nature of his deformity and she goes to shameful lengths to avoid having anything to do with him including forcing him to wear a mask and locking him away in his attic bedroom.
The next section is told from Erik's perspective as he run's away from home and is captured by a band of roaming gysies who put him on display as the main attraction of their show. An unwillful prisoner at first, Erik's status within the camp grows as he absorbs the secrets of the the gypsy culture and turns the tide on his captors who quickly come to fear and respect his abilities.
The next section is told from the perspective of Giovanni, an aging stone mason living in Rome who is impressed by Erik's knowledge of architecture and takes him under his wing as his apprentice. Unfortunately Giovanni's conniving and impulsive daughter becomes obsessed with Erik and the whole situation just ends very badly.
The following section is told from the perspective of the Persian who is given a name in the story, Nadir. In it, Nadir is odered by the Shah of Persia to track down and retrieve Erik, whose repution as a master sorcerer/magician has spread like wildfire throughout the Eastern world. Allured by the promise of wealth and power Erik returns with Nadir to Persia were he gains fame and influence as a court magician and architect for the shah. This is probably my favorite part of the book. The descriptions of life within the devious, cuttthroat world of the Persian court are equally fascinating and disturbing and I enjoyed seeing the relationship between Erik and Nadir evolve from one of suspicion and distrust to genuine friendship and respect. In no other instance does this become more prevalent than at the end of the section when Nadir helps Erik to escape from the Shah who wants to kill him after having outlived his usefulness.
The next section is again told from Erik's perspective. In it, he joins forces with the renown French architect Garnier to construct the Paris Opera House, a building of such magnitude the likes of which have never been seen before. The construction goes on for the next twenty years until the Franco Prussian war puts an indefinate halt on the project. Finally having had enough with humanity's propensity for violence and bloodshed, Erik retreats deep into the cellars of the opera house, were he constructs a dwelling for himself at the far end of an underground lake.
The narrative of the last section switches back and forth between Raoul and the Phantom and comprises the events from the classic Leroux novel which sees him falling madly in love with a young chorus girl named Christine whom he abducts into the dark recesses of his shadowy netherworld in a desperate gamble to obtain her love.
In summary, I thoroughly enjoyed this book and would definately recomend it as a must read to people like myself who are continually moved by this timeless story. The drama, suspense, and myriad of emotion overflows from the pages and envelopes the reader in the Phantom's dark, beautiful world.


Sunday, January 2, 2011

Green Arrow

So I just finished reading Green Arrow #7. Wow. What a dynamic new direction for the Emerald Archer. Gotta say, as much as I enjoyed the inclusion of his extended family (Speedy, Conner, Dinah etc.) in earlier runs it is quite refreshing to have everything stripped down and back to basics with Oliver Queen living off the grid and on the run as an outlaw rediscovering his purpose within the shadows of the mysterious forest that the white lantern light sprung into being in the wake of Star City's darkest hour. So far the run has been great and issue 7 is no exception. While not really progressing the story any from were we left off last time with Ollie's explosive confrontation with his new nemesis, The White Queen, this ish is nevertheless a profound chapter in the saga as Ollie is forced to face down some of the demons from his past and let go of some of the deep rooted negative emotions he has been holding on to since childhood. The art in this issue is spectacular, especially the artists attention to detail on the characters faces and emotions. And the scene near the end where Ollie is absolved of his guilt and self-hatred by the spirit of his dead mother reincarnated through the powers of the forest is just so poetic and beautiful. Can't wait to see what happens next. Green Arrow #7. Check it out. These have been your Words of Rossdom. 


Hi! My name is Ross. Welcome to my blog, "Words of Rossdom" were yours truly plans to share his opinions on comic books, movies, literature, everything that pulls on the heartstrings. Many Words of Rossdom to come!