Thursday, 31 July 2008

Harry Potter 6 Trailer

Here's the new trailer for Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince. Half-Blood Prince is probably my favourite of J K Rowling's sorcery school books - Harry is finally taken into Dumbledore's confidence, experiencing journeys in time through Dumbledore's bottled and noted memory bar.

Half-Blood Prince is a twisting, snaking companion piece to the second Potter tale: Chamber of Secrets. As in Chamber, Half-Blood takes great delight in drawing an alarming number of parallels between Tom Riddle / Voldemort and our young hero Harry. Both orphans, both perpetually stranded in summer love limbos yearning for Hogwarts, both able to communicate with serpents. Harry and Riddle are contrast doppelgangers locked into mutual extermination. I'm a sucker for twin war! Half-Blood Prince is the calm head-think breather before all-out Wizardpocalypse.

Investigate his past! Learn his weakness!

James Kochalka Must Live!

So he can complete his fever dream Robin comic. Read on AND WONDER!

Read the shocking slumber insight behind such a startlingly surrealist savage side-kick story!

Holy alliteration!

Commence e-bomb DC beg bombardment now. Then head over to his website for his daily update artobiography. It's splendidy.

Wednesday, 30 July 2008

Death Wish

Charles Bronson is Paul Kersey, a New York architect. Cast as a bleeding heart liberal by virtue of the fact that he does not agree with his boorish friend's idea about stick all the poor in death camps. Already we know Bronson's in for a rude awakening with, hopefully, violently cathartic results! Hell arrives in the form of three hoodlums who stalk his nearest and dearest back to their apartment. Led by a goggle eyed Jeff Goldblum, the sex-crime gang have all the larking irritability of dance-school kids doing improv. Perhaps sensing this disconnect, director Michael Winner has them indulge in an especially nasty rape scene, doubly bad for both its brutality and its leering objectification of Bronson's daughter. Bronson's wife, meanwhile, gets her head caved in while Goldblum screams "rich cunt!" in her face.

His life up in smoke, and saddled with a irritatingly familiar son-in-law, Bronson ups sticks and heads to Arizona. It's here he learns to love pistols and simplistic cowboy justice. Bronson's limp left-wing resolve finally breaks half-way through a wild west stunt show. Of course! The Old West eh? There was a time of moral stability! The first half of the tourist show is an extended torture scenario in which a white-hat sheriff gets ambushed, thrashed and imprisoned. Seconds later, he's miraculously recovered and sat on top of a building blasting the malcontents that did him over. It's High Plains Drifter as a tea-time treat, with a millionth of the flair. Returning home, Bronson embarks on a one-man mutilation mission. Cheer him on!

Death Wish
enjoys an reputation that far outstrips its means. Despite Winner's credit I was expecting a sleazy Euro-infused Dirty Harry derivative, instead I got a grubby, rambling cheapy shot through with long, room-sweeping TV takes and a hectoring Herbie Hancock score. At a guess, I'd say Winner hates New York almost as much as he hates women. He shoots the Big Apple as a bestial shit-hole, full of bleating psychopaths and bawling addicts. Best not to mention the obnoxiously loud performances and keystone cop ineptitude that further muddle any thematic interest either. It's not all dreadful though - the funeral of Bronson's wife has a vaguely lyrical quality about it: taking place during a snow storm, what remains of the Kersey family huddle together for comfort. Clad in stark, mournful blacks, each is covered in a coke white freeze frosting. Bronson's always fun to watch too, his face exactly the kind of thing Jack Kirby might chisel out of marble - all brutalised lines and squinting vendetta.

Death Wish's most interesting aspect is the rejuvenation of Bronson through what amounts to homicidal cottaging. Initially Bronson's encounters are either self-defence or rescue. All too quickly though he's wandering around parks late at night, gussied up in expensive coats and flashing money, daring criminals to jump him. Once they've built up the courage to approach him, they get one in the gut and another in their face when they're lying prone on the floor. Retreating into himself Bronson finds solace in bawdy muzak and grim execution. The public loves him.

This is Death Wish's major failing, The Vigilante crusade is never approached from any angle other than simplistic crim bashing. It never affects Bronson's mental state, and his actions are never questioned. There is only another gut bullet at the end of another midnight honey trap. This is pre-Guiliani New York, exterminate the underclass! This lazy simple-mindedness I could quite happily sit through if Winner demonstrated even the vaguest hint of stylistic flair. Everything in Death Wish is shot drab and lifeless though. Corpses stumbling around ugly apartment sets and dark, urban spaces.

I got very excited towards the end - with the Police hot on his trail Bronson can't resist plunging himself into another park, down another flight of bone-white stairs, desperate for any illicit thrill. Half way down Bronson pauses. At the bottom are two muggers, goading and threatening him, demanding his money. Bronson's hand inches into his coat fumbling for his pistol. Suddenly another figure appears behind Bronson. Is it a cop? Is it the cop we just saw puzzling along Kersey's trail? Is Bronson trapped between the law and the lawless? Is that cop really going to take the side of the criminals to put an end to Bronson's reign of terror? Is this film actually getting exciting? Of course not! The cop was stuck elsewhere bumbling around like a twat. It was just another mugger. Bronson exterminated them all. Never mind eh?

A special mention must go to Paramount's DVD mastering department who clearly made no effort what-so-ever in putting this package together. No extras. Shitty print. Shitty sound. Too bad I can't blame them for the shitty film too.

Monday, 28 July 2008

Star Wars: Episode 2 And Change

There's a new Star Wars film out at the end of summer. Ahem. Star Wars: The Clone Wars. Why the distinct lack of hype? It's a feature length spin-off from a forthcoming CG animated TV series.

Reading around the film it sounds like Lucas is operating on whimsy; deciding to release a feature upon seeing rough edits of the TV series projected on a big screen. Despite retaining the character models (or 3D approximations thereof), this series bears scant relation to Genndy Tartakovsky's magnificent Cartoon Network series Star Wars: Clone Wars.

See for yourself, here's the first 4 odd minutes.

All that sweeping camera movement! Reeks of tech-demo eh?

Compare that drab anti-punch to this little wonder.

What's Mr Tartakovsky up to now? He was last seen in the director's chair for fantasy muppet epic Dark Crystal follow-up: Power of the Dark Crystal. When's that out? Maybe never. Apparently the project is long canned, with Lisa Henson looking for an opportune time to break everyone's hearts. Rumour source? Some sneaky chap what smells. Hope he's fibbin'.

Goddamn Bat-Figure!

In dreadful news, looks like Holy Terror, Batman! is off.

Curse and confound it all.

Sunday, 27 July 2008

Watch Tatsuyuki Tanaka!

Rooting around the interwebs, I found myself a couple of Tatsuyuki Tanaka shorts. Tanaka, you may know as the author of the rather splendid artbook Cannabis Works. Other than that his CV is very hard to get a grip on. He's done storyboard work for Studio 4 °C, was a key animator on Akira, and has a short in the compilation sequel Genius Party Beyond. Tanaka's work tends to feature exceptionally well observed slouch frames moored in a steam-machine clutterscapes AND BEYOND! Misleading pat generalisation wise, I'd go Katsuhiro Otomo meets Paul Pope. It's all the clean lines.

Anyway, the shorts:

First a Nike advert, featuring an animeheroic LeBron James.

Lastly, an Utada Hikaru music video excerpt.

Here, have the Genius Party Beyond trailer too!

Kiss Kiss Sight and Sound

Film freak pamphlet Sight & Sound offers a free pdf download of dream double bills. Ain't they nice? Get it here. 52 great write-ups, most of which contain multiple suggestions and ruminations. Including! Some re-appraisal for above Renny Harlin flick. No. Seriously.

Saturday, 26 July 2008

Red-Haired Homewrecker Strikes Again!

Looks like neo Barbarella is off. That's Rose McGowan in the upcoming Robert Rodriguez produced Red Sonja. The film is to be directed by one Douglas Aarniokoski, previous responsible for Highlander: Endgame and reams of second-unit direction on Miramax genre pieces. Based on a Marvel Comics' character created by Roy Thomas and Barry Windsor-Smith - itself modelled on a minor character from Robert E Howard's Conan books - Red Sonja is a lithe female barbarian clad in absurd swim-suit armour.

Sonja was the subject of a quite awful 1985 film starring Brigitte Nielsen and Arnold Schwarzenegger, although scanning message boards following the announcement of the above re-jig, you'd think it was fucking Proust. Pages of whining and complaining that someone has dared to meddle with such an established piece of cinema. Bleh. Nostalgia eh? Just because you saw it when you were a child, and remember bits, doesn't automatically mean it's good.

Friday, 25 July 2008

The Possibility Of Watchmen: The Movie Being Excellent Slips A Little Further Away.


Just highlight the link. It tells you everything you need to know.

The Dark Knight

I'm sitting in front of an 8 storey high screen. It's formatted for a 1.34:1 display - I'm watching a television the size of an office building. It swamps my vision. I can barely see anything but it. A blue glass building bursts into view, filling every inch of the canvas. We hurtle towards it. I'm crashing into it. Windows shatter and clowns take flight. I feel dizzy. IMAX.

Unlike it's hero, The Dark Knight is a film that seems utterly without restraint. People die, buildings burn, and whole sequences are scored with nothing but a buzzing electronic reverb - a giant mechanical fly struggling to get out of a jar, twitching and clawing as a world implodes. Heath Ledger's one-man Al Qa'eda piloting Gotham into extinction. Events steer down dark alleys into dangerous, upsetting territory. All this, despite the usual Summer baggage: July release date. 12A rated.

Christopher Nolan, Jonathan Nolan and Christian Bale's Batman catches a glimpse of light at the end of his tunnel - rising lawyer Harvey Dent (Aaron Eckhart) is cleaning up Gotham within the confines of the law, one swaggering disarmament at a time. Gangsters squabble and cower while Batman brutally ties up a loose-end from his previous outing. He's close. He's grasping at having a relationship with childhood sweet-heart Rachel Dawes (Maggie Gyllenhaal). It's nearly over. He can step down as The Batman. He can make himself a life. Then all fucking hell breaks lose.

The Dark Knight is almost a half-billion dollar remake of Dirty Harry, a maverick law-man shedding rules and process to track a killer that exists in a vacuum. Like Scorpio, Heath Ledger's Joker is in it for the kicks, not the cash. He kills and cackles indiscriminately, holding an entire city to ransom. At that films' conclusion Callahan tracks and murders Scorpio, blowing a fist sized hole clean through him. Batman allows himself no such luxury. He will allow himself to punish, break and maim his foes, but not kill them. This is what carries The Dark Knight out of a summer sweet-shifter funk, through a diminished returns policer ghetto, and off into a fraught, rootless identity splitter. Reflection termination as three scarred men clash and battle in a boiled hell-city.

Unlike Batman Begins, were this code is callously jettisoned for a punish finale, The Dark Knight portrays Wayne's promise, and what it implies. It's his only stake in the society / sanity he's fighting for. It becomes an Achilles Heel to be exploited, ruthlessly stripped apart and used to undermine the potency of a giant man-bat fright figure. Nolan makes text of the most basic (rational?) objection to costumed superheroics - why don't they just kill their quarry? Why would Superman suffer Lex Luthor? Why wouldn't Batman erase Joker?

After decades of muscled-up man-glands exterminating anything that raises an objection in cinema, and proxy war oil grabs looming large outside, how do you examine the make-up of a hero? You give him a pledge, something he'd rather die than betray, then you dangle every single reason imaginable for him to break it. You make him into a monster. You tell lies about him. And in the end you chase his battered, fleeing body screaming and shooting.

Then, hopefully, you make another.

Thursday, 24 July 2008

Wednesday, 23 July 2008

Albino Gland Attacks!

Look at this pituitary monster! Lay off the cattle steroids you hulking freak. Yep, this is how pond stalking neo-con Jason Voorhees measures up in Michael Bay's latest Platinum Dunes de-imagining. Thanks Michael! You fuck.

I kid! I couldn't give two shits how Jason looks. Of all the 80s bogeymen, he always seemed the safest. Freddy's a dream stalking paedo, Leatherface ate people and liked a dance; Michael Myers had a seedy stonk-on for his sister. All loons. Jason was into hockey and dismembering horny / drunk teens. Nice work dickhole! Why not picket for the Phelps Church while you're at it? Jason's always struck me as a big anti-jock wish fulfillment equaliser for dick wringing non-invite nerds.

"Murder up 'dem awful popular kids! I dangs hates 'em!" none of them have ever said.

Still, what genre fan doesn't love a good muscle-mensch fascist? What card carrying geek doesn't love a bit of black and white simplicity? Give it twos! Why didn't The Bayster rope in Rob Zombie in full on SS Exploito-Scuz mood? Stick a swastika armband on the sloping, half-dead blonde dope and what do you gots? Inbred hick master race murder! Fucking get it sorted! He's a one-man final solution. Cast yourself a wheelchaired Roma as the hero, give him a sawn-off shotgun, and we'll see who gets to pass on their genes!

Tuesday, 22 July 2008

Let Them Die Well! 16 Bit Edition!

Remember the parent worrying furore surrounding Mortal Kombat, and its lack-of-depth masking death moves? Once upon a time they were The Devil! Looking back now they seem technologically ugly, and really quite quaint, in their unimaginative attempts to shock. Disappointing isn't it? Where will you get your 16-bit kill fix now? I've gone done ruined it!

"Thanks for ruining that happy memory Disaster Year!" you scream at your monitor. "Thanks for reminding us that everything is just childish shit masked with nostalgia!"

Well, as much as I like to tear down your grubby little memories, it's nothing compared to giving you a real does of outdated pixel grott! Behold Eternal Champions!

Sega's Eternal Champions appeared originally on the Mega Drive system at much the same time as Capcom's long awaited Street Fighter II' Special Champion Edition / Dash Plus. Struggling for a sense of identity to call its own, Eternal Champions dabbled in both combo depth and aggressive sensationalism. Whilst never close to toppling Capcom's mighty fighty, Eternal Champions trumped Mortal Kombat completely with a variety of little-seen graphic gulaging. Realising they were onto a winner, Sega upped the unlikely death stakes into absurdity for an even littler played Mega CD spin-off.

I'm not kidding! There's all manner of murky mega murder here; from point-blank full-stops to full blown vignettes, each with all the twitching gesture plausibility of mondo mondo flicks like Cannibal Holocaust. Ugh!

Yuck it up over here! It's a tea-time treat! Those monkeys are complete bastards!

Sunday, 20 July 2008

Watch Alan Moore On The Telly.

Moore. Moore. Moore.

Here's a few Moore interview scraps from youtube. It's your Sunday evening gift.

First, Mr Moore being interviewed by Skins extras for what I can only assume is a college project. What a nice man.

Unlikely inspiration!

Moore-Man fails to impress! Simpsons also discussed!

Lastly, we have some interviews originally broadcast as part of BBC4's Comics Britannia series, albeit in truncated doses. Here they are in full: Moore offers his thoughts on four of his most famous series'. Can I just say, what a class act too - praise for his collaborators is never far from his lips.

V For Vendetta


The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen

Lost Girls

Isn't Mr. Moore an erudite speaker and commentator? Lock him up in a room and ask him about everything.

Alan Moore Watches Telly.

And has rather excellent taste too.

Plus! Details on Century, the third volume of League of Extraordinary Gentlemen; and thoughts on Zack Snyder's suitability for Watchmen.

Saturday, 19 July 2008

Friday, 18 July 2008

Watch Watchmen

Head ringing from Film Freak Central's exoneration of The Dark Knight, I wandered around looking for the Watchmen trailer. I saw it here. It may be down by the time you read this.

Watchmen, as a film property, has limped around Hollywood for decades. Alan Moore and Dave Gibbons' labyrinthine master-comic charts a self-contained continuity of masked crime-fighters, Richard Nixon, an atomic superman, a brutal murder, and a 1980s world teetering on the edge of an all-out nuclear exchange. 400 pages. 9 panels on most. Terry Gilliam called it unfilmable. Solid Snake voicer David Hayter couldn't help but 'update' it. Paul Greengrass' vision got lost in a corporate re-shuffle. The job fell to Zack Snyder.

Pop video director Snyder managed to quite successfully marry an Aliens siege / flee action narrative to his speeding Dawn of the Dead remake, before his director's cut embellished some rather tasteless homophobia. His follow-up, a seizure edit monument to fascism called 300, is reviewed here. Although I do quite like 300, Mr Snyder's film did utterly fail to underscore the inherent irony present in Miller and Varney's text - fascist Spartans championing democracy. A trait widely held as a wrong-headed imperialist oversight by reviewers not intimately acquainted with the comic. If a grey shade like that slipped under his radar, how could he possibly adapt a work as obsessively layered and textured as Watchmen?

Obviously, as with all trailers, this is nothing more than a tweaked-to-perfection image collage mood enhancer; but at least it points to a retention of teeth. Vietnam's in the film in all its mega-man march glory - 100% less penis though. Manhattan's doppelganger sexuality is alluded to. Comedian has the resigned gaze of an accomplished murderer. Rorschach towers and hates. And the Mars palace rises out of the ground as The Smashing Pumpkins' The Beginning is The End is The Beginning winds down into clockwork doomsday. I really hope the film proper is that good.

I'd start pining for a hypothetically perfect screen interpretation of The Dark Knight Returns, but it sounds like Christopher Nolan has already delivered.

Thursday, 17 July 2008

Woah! I is Plastic!

Various sources are reporting that the Wachowskis are looking to resurrect their 1990s Plastic Man script for their next feature. Rolly polly mouthpiece for the brothers Joel Silver was recently heard talking the project up on German radio, he also revealed Keanu Reeves is sought for the lead.

Plastic Man concerns one Eel O'Brian, a petty hood that gets shot-up and doused with acid. Nursed back to health by a kindly monk, Eel discovers the acid has given him the capability to transform his body into any shape he can conceive. Imagine that! Slapstick crime-fighting ensues. Given the kaleidoscopic eye-treat nature of the Wachowski's latest: Speed Racer, I'd say a surrealist body-morph crime-fighter was right up their crime alley.

My fingers are now crossed!

T4! T-More? T-Bore?!

Saw the T4 trailer!

If you harbour similar desires yourself; look here.

No images have been released (that I could find), so you'll have to content yourself with one of Simon Bisley's covers for Dark Horse's Terminator: Enemy Within comic series as a header.

My findings? Looks like flashy well-lit post-apocalyptia. Feel fairly neutral on it. I'm assured that the overall screen sheen has much in common with TV series Terminator: The Sarah Connor Chronicles. Wow. Great. Thanks. It certainly looks nothing like Cameron's smoke choked neo Stalingrad.

I did enjoy the static bursts hammering out Brad Fiedel's Terminator theme, and sand blasted landscape always remind me of Mad Max 2: Road Warrior / Fist of the North Star - both nostalgia jerks born elsewhere, bubbling up to make something totally different palatable. Christian Bale assures a certain amount of quality though, I'm half-way convinced he's quite incapable of being anything less than great. In interviews he always seems to have a keen genre hat on too; not merely doling out what-you-want-to-hear plaudits, rather demonstrating passion and a research instinct. I would hope that insures a script-level integrity.

The apparently obligatory Terminator role is played by Australian actor Sam Worthington.

Personally recommended by James Cameron (fresh off a role in next years Avatar), he has that man-in-crowd quality that Cameron originally toyed with (but rejected) when plotting the 1984 original. Better Mr Worthington than a musclebound ex-wrestler or Vin Diesel eh?

My main fears (dreads, anxiety attacks) rest first on director McG, and secondly the script. McG, or Joseph McGinty Nichol to his Mum, has directed several bad films - chief among which is surely Charlie's Angels: Full Throttle - and been involved with listing filler TV drek like Pussycat Dolls Present: Search for the Next Doll. It's the resume of a middle-aged chronic masturbator. Rise to the occasion? He'll need a fucken jetpack. Script wise, all I can say is that I sincerely hope that mega spoiler that did the rounds a few months back is completely inaccurate. Otherwise, who gives a fuck? It's not brave, it's just an Alien vs Predator-esque retroactive continuity fucker. Quite apt given the modus operandi of the title characters like, but I'm not that fond of irony.

Water Terminators too eh? What a crock of shit.

Batman: Not Ever Released

Maybe one day Frank Miller will finish his Holy Terror, Batman! project. Maybe not. An interview conducted in May last year had the project about two-thirds complete. It's slated for release later this year. I'm not holding my breath. Holy Terror depicts Batman battling al-Qa'eda in Gotham City - an intentional nod to 1940s propaganda strips that saw Captain America et al duffing Nazis.

Miller's on record (in a doc on one of the Batman dvds) stating his admiration for the rough 'n' ready approach Columbia Pictures took with their 1940s Batman serials - the first of which had a portly lo-fi Batman battling Japanese spy Dr. Daka. Racial slurs and snides abound as Bats does his bit for the war effort, narrowly escapes lethal falls, and plays tricks on his butler. Not that I mean to suggest that Miller's a Johnny Foreigner demonising bigot, just that he seems to find a special kind of joy in seeing costumed supermen battling intangible despotism. Miller's spoken about his project as being a gut reaction to living in New York during the 9/11 attacks. A vocal supporter of the war in Iraq, Miller has compared the World Trade attack with Pearl Harbour, and cited sixth century barbarism and fascism as chief among our abstract enemies' traits. Although I don't find anything Miller's been saying particularly agreeable, I do admire his gumption. Holy Terror should be a cultural artifact du jour.

Until Holy Terror rears it's head, here's a natty little parody piece that popped up not long after the books announcement. Unfortunately I have no idea who produced this little winner. It helps if you're au fait with Miller's (then) recent output - particularly The Dark Knight Strikes Again (a piece that is awash with political caricatures and asides).

Wednesday, 16 July 2008

The Spirit: Trailer Number 2

See! The Spirit's second sexed up sell short here!

I'm particularly fond of Denny escaping the monolith woman's lips. Reminds me of a delirious Eisner title page. Apart from that, it's Sinner City. Or Dicker Tracey. Or a film set in a James Bond 007 title sequence universe. Manga cues. Speed lines. Heavy outlines. Sam Jackson in Nazi regalia. Scarlett Johansson's Lady Snowblood background. Characters swimming in artifice. This is big-feet The Dark Knight Strikes Again Miller plugging away at his excess-overload reptile sex-urge.

Yes please.

Dulce Pinzón

Mexican photographer Dulce Pinzón's new project can be viewed here. Ms Pinzón's latest collection tackles notions of heroism with particular regard to Mexican immigrants toiling in the United States to support their families back home. It's especially interesting to note how these American colour pop costumes have become a visual shorthand for heroism. It's a motif that plays around the world, closer to home, these baggy approximations are standard uniform for controversial Dad rights protest group: Fathers 4 Justice.

With thanks to Anna.

Sunday, 13 July 2008

Eccitazione! Spiderman Italiano è Bruciare Super Molto Eccellente! (sic)

Attention amigo!

Watch! PRONTO!

Tetsuo by Moebius

Jean Giraud's take on telekinetic wunderkind Tetsuo, from Katsuhiro Otomo's manga masterpiece Akira. Otomo is pretty unabashed in recognising Moebius' influence on his own clean-line exhaust vision. Imagine that, your hero doodling your very own mind figure creation.

Saturday, 12 July 2008

Last Battle

Licence stripped localisation of Sega's Japan only Mega Drive Fist of The North Star (Hokuto No Ken) sequel. A charming, beefy little Ken sprite wanders through various drab, detail bare, post-apocalyptic environments constantly attacked by generic Reich thugs. With only a frustratingly curtailed movelist to experiment with, fun evaporates pretty quickly. Boss battles descend into wars of clip attrition, and the less said about the flying axe dungeon wanders the better. Last Battle lacks the only feature that made the original Japanese cash-in title in the least bit rewarding: enemies chain exploding into twitching gory messes after only the lightest of touches.


Chemically attuned to arrogant declaration, how could I not instantly fall in love with a comic called KICK-ASS? That's a statement of intent right there.

Issue 1's cover says it all:

People are going to get punched the fuck through doors!

Thankfully it lives up to such head-ringing boasts.

KICK-ASS is a new-ish Marvel comic by-way-of creator-owned imprint Icon. Parented by Mark Millar and John Romita Jnr, KICK-ASS has, thus far, been a pitch noodling on real-world superheroics and resulting hospital stays. Dave Lizewski is our hero, a rootless, lonely waif numbed by his mother's recent passing. Bored rigid by endless Scrubs repeats (and no small disinterest in academia), Dave dons an eBay scuba suit and takes to prowling rooftops. Quip anxiety, comas and volte face guilt punishment quickly follow.

Recounted from an undisclosed point in the future - whilst our hero is getting his genitals fried by battery powered bolt clippers - KICK-ASS exists in a universe were capes and tights have become a tolerated career avenue. Perhaps analagous to reality TV fame grabber? Lizewski speaks of being 'the first', like some street-justice pied piper. No heaven sent superpowers though. It's all graft and bitter experience.

Throughout the first three issues Lizewski's exploits filter into mainstream data-screen dumps - first a youtube video of his adventures (cannily recreated for viral marketing purposes here), which gets picked up a local news network, then a myspace page set up by the hero himself. Naturally, he clumsily tries to scope himself a ladyfriend with typically disastrous results.

Fortunately a droll eyed mini-pop comes to the rescue.

Lizewski's Daredevil has his Elektra.

And she's 9.

Click the image for a peach of an opening line.

The ink is dry on a movie deal already! Good lord! Is that standard practice these days? Do movie execs hang around publishing house doors, ready to mug jubilant creators? Or is it just a pitch package prerequisite? Gotta have a potential movie. Look out for KICK-ASS: The Movie, brought to you Summer 20XX by Stardust alumni: Matthew Vaughn and Jonathan Ross' much better half: Jane Goldman.

The 'cunts' line had better make the movie.

Devil May Cry 2

Superb production and sound design cannot disguise this rather cynically timed follow-up - Dante appears to be guest starring in someone else's game. Series creator Hideki Kamiya and Production Studio 4 are out the picture, replaced with the production team behind hysterically high-staked fight off Capcom VS SNK 2. Unfortunately, none of that games brash flair is brought to bare.

In stark contrast to Devil May Cry's almost endless lists of money moves, 2 finds the hero stuck with one default Devil Trigger and only cosmetically divergent swords to stomp with. Pistols fire at snails pace making Dante's signature sword-lift-gun-blast move deadly boring. Dante's sneery brash attitude is gone too, replaced with another stoic Clint-alike, manfully silent in the face of blah blah blah. The originals languid Castlevania-alike atmosphere is out replaced by successive techtroplis scapes and other dull real world-ish urban environments. Even the difficulty has been scaled way back - Enemies circle and bare teeth rather than attack.

A quite stunning disappointment, Devil May Cry 2 is antithetical to its predecessor. Every in-road into originality that game represented is ditched in favour of also-ran mundanities. DMC2 only ever comes into its own on multiple-playthrough-necessitating sky-high difficulty levels, even then only with the firework bomb secret character Trish.

Friday, 11 July 2008


James McAvoy's fop haired Wesley Gibson rots in his office stall, medicated into social compliance. His monstrous, braying boss snaps staplers in his face whilst his jock colleague routinely pops over to Wes' place to shag his girlfriend. Woe unt woe. Plucked out of this 20 something malaise by big-head waif Fox (Angelina Jolie), Wes is dropped head first into the machinations of a zealot kill cabal that turns to a giant loom for direction - shades of The Moirae from Greek myth if you're very fucking generous indeed. Turns out Wes' absent poppa was King Kill, and the crypto fascist weavers are counting on nature over nurture. This is Wanted.

Adapted from Mark Millar's nasty comic series of the same name, Wanted the Movie plays like the demented doodles of the office sociopath - dull, wage-slave life is jettisoned for incalculable riches, near invincibility, no consequences gunplay and Jolie kissing. Indoctrinated into the round table, world-running dickholes club, Wes drone is given self-actualising purpose by seeking non-descript bad-man destruction. "They're evil because we tell you!" Naturally Jolie has a sympathetic sob-story to gloss over this anonymous cruelty; and that's the problem.

Wanted isn't as mean as it purports to be. Unfortunately it doesn't want to alienate the morally redemptive tastes of Cinema Goer X, and thus constantly feels the need to whiten up the greys. Ho hum. Third act revelations notionally undermine some of the until-then cast iron kill direction, but that's lost in a blur of motion and mother fuckers. If you're trying to make a film about an amoral scumbag, you might as well go the whole hog. Instead Wanted gets lost in a backwater Joseph Campbell hero quest. At least Night Watch supremo Timur Bekmambetov is having fun. Wanted is chock-full of impossible shots of bullets hurtling through space and heads. A ratty, batty showdown at Fruit of the Loom aside, Wanted hits its action peak during a French Connection referencing car chase - Wes performing gymnastic car crashes to get his mark.

Stanley Kubrick. Stanley Kubrick.

In preparation for a season of Kubrick's films on freeview channel More4, Channel 4's Creative Services department have meticulously recreated a dizzying Steadicam tour of The Shining set.

See through Mr Kubrick's eyes!

If only he was still alive to berate them over some microscopic mistake; invisible to all but him.

Thursday, 10 July 2008

RoboRoboCop: Disagreement is Counter-productive

Harry Knowles' Ain't It Cool News are reporting that Darren Aronofsky has been in talks with MGM to bring a big budget remake of RoboCop to the screen. "Yikes unt yikes!" you no doubt cry.

As loathe as I am to even contemplate a respool of the mighty 80s satire slasher RoboCop, Aronofsky is a supremely interesting choice for such sacrilege; especially when you consider his working relationship with one Frank Miller. Aronofsky and Miller worked together on a film adaptation of Miller's Batman comic reset: Year One. Following the Happy Meal tie-in disaster Batman & Robin, Warners were after a credible kick-start for a new franchise - attuned to violence to distance itself from the previous films stink. Some time in 2000 the duo were contracted to produce a spec script for approval. Aronofsky and Miller indicated 70s crime cinema as major influences; citing Death Wish, Taxi Driver and French Connection as inspiration.

Naturally Warners baulked at such a violent take on the Dark Knight Detective. R rated thump-sleazers don't play to the toy crowd! Receptive to economic concerns, Aronofsky dangled a low-budget grit take produced in tandem with a family friendly feature. Warners weren't interested. Batman 5 would remain in limbo until Christopher Nolan lumbered up for Begins (and arguably took a huge cue from Miller's work - there was a rumour floating round shortly after Begins debuted that Miller received a substantial sum of money from WB in recognition of this). If that's piqued your interest, read the Year One script all up in here.

What's any of that got to do with RoboCop? Well, following the success and mainstream attention of Miller's Batman end caser The Dark Knight Returns, Miller was approached by producer Jon Davidson to flesh out a RoboCop sequel. Ultimately his script was deemed unfilmable, and furiousy rewritten. Despite this Miller was on set throughout the production - making himself available for on-spec polishes. Miller even stars as a nerdy nuke chemist named Frank.

Miller's RoboCop 2 script was eventually revived by Avatar Press, who had recently struck a deal to distribute RoboCop comics. Publisher William Christensen contacted Miller with a view to adapting a draft he owned of the RoboCop 2 script. Frank Miller's RoboCop (the comic adaptation title) dribbled out over the next 30 months, written by Steven Grant and illustrated by Juan Jose Ryp. This RoboCop sequel strays far closer to the root Verhoeven piece - OCP hires unstable private military contractors to empty Detroit to make way for impersonal hyper-town Delta City. Robo gets a cob-one and is replaced by slum vaporising death-bot RoboCop 2; this time sporting the temper tantrum personality of a voluptuous pop psychologist. Eventually winning the day, Murphy scoops Lewis up into his arms, then disappears to become a mechanical Tom Joad.

There's also a rough sketch of another draft of Miller's script floating around out there. This includes much more of the basic skeleton that ended up in the finished sequel film. Murphy is beset by an underhand robot psychoanalyst who tortures him by staging mock reunions with his wife and child. As in the movie, drug kingpin Cain is the subject of the RoboCop 2 programme. Reborn as a cyborg, Cain enjoys a religious epiphany believing himself to be an armoured reincarnation of Jesus Christ.

Read a brief outline of Miller's exercise in excess here (look out for a PDF download of Walon Green's revisions too).

Fill your head full, and march on Mr Aronofsky.

Samuel L. Jackson is The Octopus

Weep ink.

Sam Jackson as he appears in Frank Miller's forthcoming movie adaptation of Will Eisner masterwork: The Spirit.

Jackson plays The Octopus. A master of disguise, Octopus' face is never revealed in the Eisner comics; his sole visual signifier is his monstrous block adorned glove hands. Rapid departures from source abound, this is very much Miller's tar-black noir remix. Out Christmas. Can't wait.

Miller seems to recasting Octopus as a kind of white-out snow ninja. Other press photos have portrayed Jackson dressed in pallid Lone Wolf ceremonial-samurai garb, and as a flamboyant Zorro-esque gunslinger. Master of disguise recast as a genre hopping lethal action figure? Jackson'll have a fucken' ball.

Kill them all decadent psychopath!

Wednesday, 9 July 2008

This Is How It Ends: Galvatron

Born from the battered remains of Megatron, and nursed by an all-consuming Satan planet, Galvatron stole all our hearts in the 1986 classic Transformers The Movie.

Treacherous, murderous, and ruthlessly dicky; Galvatron spent his introductory film entry moping about his Faustian bondage pact. Nominally created to rid doom-globe Unicron of his Achilles heel - the Autobot Creation Matrix - Galvatron instead seized the artifact for himself, turning on his chubby master. Unicron retaliated by transforming into a million storey tall Lucifer-bot and eating his slave. Galvatron survived this feasting only to be soundly thumped and cast out into deep space by a transcending Autobot do-gooder. Curse and confound it all!

Galvatron spent the years between The Movie and Transformers Season 3 trapped in a lava swamp. A tragic state of affairs that caused him to turn inept and mental. A shadow of his former self, Galvatron muddled about future year 2010 beating up his subordinates and failing to trounce interim leader bot Rodimus Prime. Last seen in the US TV series finale falling into space, Galvatron had a brief lease of life in the Japan only animated TV series Transformers: Headmasters.

This is were our glorious hero met his doom.

Cornered on an ice flow by the despicable Autobot Headmasters, Galvatron was eventually seen off by a bizarre sentai form-up that saw the four strong goody task force holding hands, floating in mid-air, and violently expelling white hot plasma blasts. What an affront!

At least he went down fighting (and it basically took the entirety of the hero cast to do him in)!

Galvatron! This is how it ends: See the whole sorry episode here.

Goodbye Emperor of Destruction!

But wait! Although that was the last we saw of Galvatron, in a TV mag exclusive manga / full colour spread series: Battlestars: The Return of Convoy, his carcass was found and revived by yet another interstellar leach-form. This time Dark Nova reformatted his slave herald into an ultra powerful version of former persona Megatron.

Super Megatron
was born!

Scramble Power!

Like an unwanted second-disc padding DVD extra, here's some supplementary material for my Ultra Magnus post a few days back. Really, I should just update that with these links, but then I wouldn't get a quick post bump would I? You've got to think short-term bonuses when blogging.

Above is a scan of a Diaclone advert for Powered Convoy, the figure that would eventually become Ultra Magnus.

Here's some vintage Japanese adverts for various forms of this playset.

First, a 1984 advert for Diaclone Powered Convoy

Next, a Scramble City (Japan exclusive instead-of The Movie feature) branded ad for Ultra Magnus; seen here battling Decepticon City Commander Galvatron

Couple of interesting things to note:

1. Powered Convoy isn't a standalone character; he's a fleet transport alike, used for transporting legions of Diaclone vehicle-bots. Although the name Convoy would be become a supreme hierarchy title in Japanese continuity (in the same way that Prime denotes a leader in western plots), here it simply describes a kind of mob rank - Powered Convoy is the bouncer muscle for this truckin' support group.

2. Everybody's flying. Here's one for the real Transformers nerds - Autobots are classically depicted as being incapable of flight. In continuity applicable to Cybertronian warfare, the Autobots are a bourgeois class of artists and white-collar bureaucrats; the Decepticons are usually either gladiators or military robots who form their own break-away worker revolt faction under Megatron. Decepticons are innately superior combat wise, flight being their trump card. It's never really dwelt upon in any fiction, but the Autobots are pretty much dicks aren't they? They shit all over a slave class, and get a cob-on when they get a whiff of self-determination. Really, Megatrons' a Hero of Communism. That looks like a Nazi. And transformers into a Luger (look alike).

3. Unlike every subsequent continuity ever, these adverts depict the Prime / Convoy cab slotting into the trailer and assuming the Ultra Magnus identity. No wishy washy double-dealing here. Your toy is presented as definitive text! Quite the turn-around from disappointing western storylines that wished you'd forget about certain figure features.

4. Japanese Transformers ads of this vintage very rarely depict children pretending to have fun; instead we get fantastic little stop-motion vignettes of the toys acting as if they really are intergalactic mercenaries dying to shoe-in their foes. Take this and that scale environment!

Two sequences in the above videos really stood out for me: In the Powered Convoy ad, it's the rain soaked close-up of the trailer wheel as the toy screeches to a halt, the rain droplets give it a kind of rustic scale, and the steam pouring off the wheel suggests a real sense of power. You're going to buy something that kick ass! In the Ultra Magnus ad, I get my joy-joy from Galvatron's reality bending black-out transformation sequence - LOOK! As he morphs and contracts mode! SEE! As black inserts suggest a near demonic expression of power! Cower! As he stands there laden with guns looking like some kind of noble-robo devil!

Impressive stuff.

Tuesday, 8 July 2008

Do Not Want!

Easy target alert!

Brendan McCarthy Has A Blog!

Why are you wasting your time here?! Get over there and soak up the wonder!

Hopefully some of his Mad Max 4 ideas / sketches will show up very soon indeed.

Finished? Hungry for more? Give your bank balance a serious mugging and immerse yourself in his life's work visual mind-bent reader: Swimini Purpose.

Don't ask! Just buy!

Gah! That water gag in the previous sentence was purely coincidental. Damn my subconscious punnery! It's making me look a chump.

Friday, 4 July 2008

Wicked City

Occult civil service! Connery-alike pick-up dick Taki and his magic, scenery deforming, magnum are teamed up with renegade demon cop Makie to accompany a lecherous old goblin to the signing of a détente between the human world and a hypersexual demon realm. The frustrated human man / demon woman collaboration, literal honey-traps, and the film's shadowy terror cells lend Wicked City a whiff of 60s espionage - a Cold War unease not unlike the franchise that was churned out of Ian Fleming's potboilers. The violent sexual subtext is elevated to text here though; the demon's predatory appraisal not just limited to (seemingly) helpless women. Wicked City is Yoshiaki Kawajiri's follow up to the lethal Formula 1 short The Running Man (part of the Neo Tokyo anthology), and is likewise drenched with freezing blues, stinging pinks and bubbling, psychic, superorganisms. 

Miami Vice

Blue, grainy, glamour - Michael Mann's further meditation on the mechanics of extra-legality. Miami Vice feels like the culmination of everything Mann's oeuvre has promised: a policer stripped of all surplus exposition - even dialogue - to become pure, cold, calculated case. Simultaneously a post 80s high-tech metal-man action film, and a piece about meditative, clinging, spy people with dead end / self-immolation arcs.

Familiarity with the Cop vs Crims narratives is mandatory; Mann chooses to focus his attentions entirely elsewhere - the leads discuss nothing and understand each other through glances and invisible nod signals. Mann refuses any notion of a safe big budget action update, and instead delivers a head-ringing thought film about lies and self-alienation in pursuit of law process. Throughout, sweaty, hand-held (immediate) violence seems imminent. Miami Vice is almost a bubbling sci-fi identity crisis - the twin spectres of 80s CIA foreign policy and hidden (nuclear?) aggression loom large over it.

A Job Hell Done!



I'm wasted on you guys.

Here's another of those Hellboy vs pop culture teasers. Thanks for the heads up Brad!

Check how happy Big Red is when he thinks he's met kindred souls!

Thursday, 3 July 2008

Though Your Mouth Is Static, Still We Learn

The United States has Superman, Japan has Ultraman. Born from the ashes of 60s Twilight Zone alike Ultra Q, Ultraman has been growing thousand fold and kicking heads for over 40 years.

There is a gentler side to this titanic science patrol policeman:

When not battling skyscraper scraping rubber monsters, Ultraman takes it to the streets - dispensing sound road safety advice (beat up people who do things WRONG) and plowing a keen line in Hawaiian micro-strumming.

Ultraman, is there any end to your gifts?

As seen on Jonathan Ross' BBC3 Japanorama series.