Not much about the camp 1960s Batman TV show can be regarded as definitive — when Liberace guest stars and is one of the more mundane parts of the ensemble, that’s saying something. But Frank Gorshin’s portrayal of the Riddler is still everyone’s mental image of that character, whether in a book or on a screen. (Jim Carrey’s take, the most recent screen iteration, was pretty much Gorshin’s version thirty years later.) The manic movements and cackling laugh he brought to the table belonged in that outlandish setting, with the written sound effects and relentless alliteration. The Riddler fit right in. More precisely, Gorshin’s Riddler did. And transcended. Read more…
Few superhero films have ever had as much venom spat their way pre-release as the newest cinematic incarnation of the Fantastic Four. The reasons are many. After two movies in the past decade that were middling at best, Twentieth Century Fox has opted to reboot the franchise so that they can keep their grubby paws on the license, leaving the ever-growing MCU bereft of its most venerable team — not to mention key cosmic character cogs. Director Josh Trank (Chronicle) may or may not have been a complete dick during the filming, requiring studio intervention and extensive re-shoots to salvage whatever could be saved. The Ultimate-esque cast is unspeakably young, and the brother/sister tandem of Sue and Johnny Storm is now biracial, which ignited innumerable Stormfront vs. SJW contretemps in internet comment sections. It became increasingly obvious in the run-up that they had totally befouled Doctor Doom again.
And, last but not least, Fantastic Four is advertised as a “contemporary re-imagining” of the team. Which sounds utterly insufferable. I think we can all agree on one thing: if that phrase was a person, we’d all be lining up to punch it in the face, like it was the hysterical chick in Airplane!.
Now it’s in theaters. And the verdict is? Read more…
I can’t say that I’ve ever been much of a fan of Deadpool, a character fallen from the poisonous Rob Liefeld X-tree. And I can’t say that I’ve ever been much of a fan of Ryan Reynolds, whose mystifying appeal has baffled since his Van Wilder days. It’s not often that an actor can be part of not one but two botched superhero comic book movies, but his turns in the widely panned X-Men Origins: Wolverine and Green Lantern managed to do just that. (We’re all offering up prayers that Affleck doesn’t follow in these footsteps.) So the upcoming Deadpool film is a potential collision course of suck. Read more…
A flight of coconuts to the head sing thee to thy rest, Mr. Piper. Accompanied by bagpipes, of course.
I’ve only seen one Adam Sandler movie in a theater, and Punch-Drunk Love was more a movie that Adam Sandler happened to be in. I’d have to be heavily sedated to be dragged to any of his cinematic offerings. So I won’t be seeing Pixels. But thankfully we have the fine gentlemen at Half in the Bag, who watch this crap so we don’t have to. Enjoy. Or not.
Bugs Bunny is 75 years young today, having made his animated debut three quarters of a century ago in the Merrie Melodies short, “Wild Hare.” For the generations of us who grew up watching Bugs and the rest of the Looney Tunes stable, those of us whose pop culture vocabularies were filled out by the Mel Blanc-voiced creations, this is a big day. So have yourself a plate of Hasenpfeffer in honor of the most famous leporine crossdresser of them all.
I liked Man of Steel, Superman’s most recent film iteration. I look forward, with some trepidation, to him (finally) sharing a screen with Batman next year. But no one ever wore the cape and boots like Christopher Reeve, and it’s likely that no one ever will. And really, could you picture Henry Cavill in the above commercial? With his chainmailish, muted costume, and after snapping (justifiably, granted) Zod’s neck? Read more…
Tom Hanks has evolved into a modern version of revered screen stars of yore, well-liked both for his work onscreen and his amiable, even keel off of it: a latter-day Henry Fonda, Gary Cooper, Gregory Peck, etc. Does anyone out there hate the guy? Anybody? And why would they? Unless, of course, they’re still steamed about wasting their money on Joe Versus the Volcano tickets. But really, who’s still grinding that ax? (Okay, I still am — I wanted to go see The Hunt for Red October, but my stupid friends insisted on Joe. Yeah, I ran with some real dummies back in the day.)
It’s been so long since Philadelphia diverted Hanks to a serious, Oscar-bait career trajectory, we forget that most of his early movies were zany comedies that tried to outdo one another in their silliness. And there may be no sillier moment in Hanks’s 1980s oeuvre than a little side project that went along with one of those comedies. The “City of Crime” music video ladies and gentlemen. Well, this exists. Read more…
One keeps wondering what the bridge too far will be for Marvel’s movie slate. While there have been some narrative clunkers put out by this relatively newfangled Hollywood titan (Age of Ultron was a rather wan successor to 2012’s transcendent Avengers), none have been that classic momentum killing disaster: the box office bomb. You kind of thought that Guardians of the Galaxy with its talking raccoons and ambulatory trees might have fit that bill, but lo and behold it was one of the biggest cinematic hits the House of Ideas has ever had. Suddenly Chris Pratt is an A-List star because of it, which is mind-boggling. Yeah, the chubby loser from Parks and Recreation.
Maybe Marvel really does have the Midas Touch when it comes to ticket receipts. Maybe they do have that coveted, mythical license to print money.
Well, we’ve come to another effort that might not tickle the audience’s fancy as others have, a potential tripwire on the road to riches. Ant-Man, ladies and gentleman. A founding Avenger, but the tiniest of the bunch. Who shrinks to the size of an ant. Who can talk to ants. Sort of like an insect Aquaman. This could be trouble.
Verdict? Ant-Man isn’t great. It’s okay. “Capable” would be a word that I’d use to describe it, with flashes of brilliance when the titular hero is shrunk down and doing his thing. But the family “drama” that undergirds the movie (the term is in quotes because what we get is barely deserving of that appellation) is the plainest of plain vanillas, and the plot is utterly predictable. But you know what, it’s a Marvel movie, it has its moments, and most members of the audience won’t feel cheated out of their hard-earned cash.
Click on through for some more detailed thoughts, including some spoilers, as well as a final rating. Read more…
I think everyone by now is just waiting to see how Fox has managed to botch comicdom’s First Family this time around, and whether Josh Trank’s rumored set difficulties show up in the finished product. At least we’ll always have Roger Corman’s iteration of the Fantastic Four, which was excusably bad due to its budget and keep-the-rights intent, and thus not as excruciating as its successors.
One thing this newest venture “has going for it” — you have to put that in sarcastic quotes — is what will likely be its utter botch of Doctor Doom. This trailer gives us our best look to date, and he looks awful. You get the feeling that he’s being held back not to make his eventual onscreen reveal cooler, but to delay the backlash until the opening weekend. It takes a special kind of suck to ruin one of the great villains this fictional medium has ever produced, and if that’s what winds up happening — kudos! Another triumph!
I can’t say that I’m overly interested in this upcoming Suicide Squad take — it seems odd to me to go to a villain team-up so early in your shared universe, when the heroes haven’t even been established yet. And this rather soporific sizzle reel isn’t exactly changing my mind. But whatever — it has its moments. Though Viola Davis is no substitute for CCH Pounder, she seems capable stepping into Amanda Waller’s plus-sized wardrobe, and Jared Leto’s new Joker, dreadful early reveal notwithstanding, seems to be, you know, crazy. This is a good thing.
Note: it appears that human charisma-vacuum Jai Courtney is playing Liev Schreiber as Sabretooth. Excelsior!
Note: Due to a recent illness and a subsequent trip down the rabbit hole of the medical system, the blog has been silent for a while now. Since the upcoming World’s-Finest-movie-by-another-name is, despite its underwhelming marketing to date, my most anticipated film in years, let this (hopefully) latest bit of promotion mark a return to activity.
And this newest Batman v Superman trailer out of Comic-Con? Better. It has its moments. Have to love Bruce Wayne charging towards the danger as everyone else flees for their lives. Robin’s costume, covered with Joker graffiti. “He is not our enemy.”
Still wish this Superman was a little less dour, though. A little more sunshine, please? Just a little?
The departure of David Letterman from the late night broadcast airwaves has generated much online comment and many nostalgia-driven puff pieces, and I’ll try not to add too much to that burgeoning heap. But a few points before the gap-toothed one rides off into the sunset: One, it’s easy to forget how big a deal Letterman’s move to CBS was, and how it was one of the bigger things to happen in television history — in a TV landscape where the big three networks were still the Big Three Networks. I mean, it was HUGE. Two, we should all thank Mr. Letterman for his contributions to the comic book medium, both his The Dark Knight Returns doppelganger, David Endocrine, and his Avengers-loving self. Three, twenty-two years sure goes fast. I don’t feel old, but I’m sure as hell not a teenager anymore, taping the first Late Show on my VCR. Time flies, folks.