Tagged: Dark Knight

MINDY NEWELL: A Face In The Crowd

Outside my window it’s January in October; the snow is falling in thick full flakes, the wind is howling, and the steam radiator is hissing and spitting heat while I write this. I just finished watching Captain America: The First Avenger. The perfect movie for a day like a day like this, when I’m all warm and cozy inside while a little Ice Age is raging on the other side of my window.

It’s a really great movie, totally true to its comic book roots, and yet with just enough of an underpinning of truth that enables – for me, at least – a total suspension of disbelief. I haven’t felt this way about a super-hero movie since I first saw Superman. Yeah, I dug Batman Begins and Dark Knight and I’m looking forward to The Dark Knight Rises. And I liked the X-Men movies, even though they were all about Wolverine – hell, the guy even makes a quick cameo (brilliantly done and totally in character) in X-Men: First Class; but Superman and Captain America are movies that leave me walking on air and just full of joi de vivre.

So much of the credit, like 99% of it, goes to Christopher Reeve’s portrayal of Superman, and I think, in the same way, 99% of the credit for the success of Captain America goes to Chris Evans. They both really get it. They get that these characters are representations of, characterizations of – no, the embodiment of the American dream, the American ideal, the “gee whiz, this is the best country in the whole world, and I am one damn lucky fellow to be living in it” experience.

When suits at Marvel made the decision a few years ago to kill Captain America, I was so upset. Honestly – and I mean this in the best possible way – it was for me as if Christopher Reeve had just died all over again. Reeves had proved himself a true Superman, a true American hero, in so many ways; and his death was, for me, an end of an era. And then, a few years later, and all for the sake of $$$, for publicity, Cap is dead. And I felt like – well, let me put it as succinctly as I can:

This country is fucked.

In 1957, Elia Kazan directed A Face In The Crowd. Starring Andy Griffith in his film debut, it’s the story of Lonesome Rhodes, a hard-drinking country-western singer pulled out of obscurity and given his own radio show by talent scout Patricia Neal. His “down-home” philosophical spiels soon lead to his own television show, leading to worshipful fans, drooling sponsors with money, and political influence. Now drunk on power instead of alcohol, Rhodes is a manipulator of Machiavellian proportion. And although A Face In The Crowd was not considered a success during its theatre run, it has proven to be, as so many of Kazan’s movies were – prescient in its depiction of the overtaking by pop culture and big business of the American political system.

And now we have Herman Cain. Everybody knows him as “The Pizza King,” and who hasn’t seen his “Imagine There’s No Pizza” performance? (John Lennon must be rolling over in his grave. Yoko, can’t you sue him or something?) But did you know that he’s also a gospel singer, and performed on the 13-track album Sunday Morning released by Selah Sound Production & Melodic Praise Records in 1996? Did you know that he writes an op-ed column that is syndicated by the North Star Writers Group to over 50 newspapers? Did you know that he has written numerous books – Leadership is Common Sense; Speak as a Leader; CEO of SELF; They Think You’re Stupid – and that the latest, This is Herman Cain: My Journey to the White House, is on the bookshelves now, and that he is not only campaigning, but on a national book tour as we speak? And did you know that, until he formally announced his candidacy, he hosted The Herman Cain Show on WSB-AM in Atlanta? Lonesome Rhodes, you’ve met your match!

So is he just a huckster peddling his wares? Well, let’s see. Did you know that Cain was on the board of directors of the Federal Reserve in Kansas City? And that he was the chairman of the Omaha branch? (It’s not surprising that Fox News never reports on that, since the Fed is one of the big bad bogeymen under attack by the Repugnanticans.) And that he sat on the boards of some of America’s biggest corporations, including Nabisco and Whirlpool?

So he ain’t just a huckster, he’s a corporate toady and a bankster too! (Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Together, are you listening?)

And since 2005, and ending when he announced his candidacy, Herman Cain worked for Americans for Prosperity (AFP), a right-wing political action committee (PAC). You know who funds AFP? The Koch brothers!!!! You know who’s Cain’s campaign manager? Mark Block, his co-worker at AFP. You know Cain’s senior economic adviser, Richard Lowrie, he of the totally huckster 9-9-9 tax plan? Guess where he met Cain? Yep. Lowrie sat on the AFP board of directors until Cain announced his candidacy.

Yeah, good ol’ Herman Cain. He’s just a regular old joe. A face in the crowd.

Watching Shane now.

Come back, Cap. Cap. Cap, come back. Come back, Cap! Caaaaaaap!!!!!!!

TUESDAY: Michael Davis

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Mark Hamill, The Clown Prince of Voice Actors

Imagine the Joker has you tied up. You’re in a dimly lit warehouse right off the river. The air is thick, stale, and musky. The tide raps against the nearby docks punishingly. The rope that binds your hands behind your back is chokingly tight. Every twitch in your wrist scrapes twine against raw flesh. Footsteps on concrete floors echo louder and louder as they draw near.

That laugh. It starts out low and menacing. It crescendos a bit. A few “hee-hees” and “ho-hos” tossed in jovially. It crescendos. Cackling, lung emptying chortles screech on your ears. You wince and tense up. Your wrists chafe as skin breaks. You can feel blood reaching the surface of the rope.

“So fanboy, it wasn’t hard to lure you here. The promise of a preview copy of Catwoman 2 was all it took. Well. that and the promise of more side boob. And now? I bet you’re hoping… praying… that the Bat shows up and saves you. Well, pookie? The joke’s on you… he’s too busy reading Voodoo to show up here! HAAAAA HAAA HAA HAA HAAA!”

Question: The voice in your mind just there? The voice of the Joker? Well, if you’re anything like me… the man reading back my poorly written dialogue in your head was Mark Hamill.

Since 1992, Hamill has portrayed perhaps one of the single hardest roles for any actor, be it voice or otherwise, to play. The nemesis of the Dark Knight has been written many ways; from straight-up sadistic murderer to psychotic sycophant. Bruce Timm and Paul Dini created perhaps the single greatest interpretation of the seminal superhero and tasked Andrea Romano with the worst possible task. The interpretations of role had been truly original to say the least. Both Cesar Romaro and Jack Nicholson had portrayed the Clown Prince of Crime and took liberty to imbue the character with their own charm. Romero painted over his mustache and played the campy cackler with scene chewing glee. Jack Nicholson exuded his … Jack Nichosoness. But here, with Batman: The Animated Series, we were getting a truer-to-comic presentation. The Joker in this case could not be so closely tied to the actor portraying him. And the less we say about Larry Storch’s voice acting during the Superfriends/Scooby Doo era the better.

Enter Luke Skywalker.

Mark Hamill had done a handful of voice acting roles prior his turn as the Joker (so says IMDB), but none with as much clout. Certainly any kids as crazy-obsessed as me hit the pause button while watching their tapes of recorded episodes to see the voice cast… and would be baffled to see their beloved Jedi master lending his baritone to The Joker.

Astonishment aside though, Hamill sunk into the role such that I strongly believe no one else will ever top it. His nuanced delivery, that carries everything from the silly to the psychotic, is pitch-perfect. Over the course of the series, the animated Joker was pulled in several directions. One episode he’s dressed as a sea captain, driving a barge of joker-gassed garbage down the Gotham River; the next, he’s holding Commissioner Gordon, Harvey Bullock and Renee Montoya hostage on live TV. And whether he was back handing Harley Quinn, or flying away on a rocket powered Christmas tree, Hamill captured the character like no other.

In watching a little featurette about the characterization, Hamill put it best. The iconic laughter of The Joker had to be right. It’s a tool in and of itself. With every laugh he delivered behind closed doors, Hamill captured the essence. For all his nuance and outright amazing portrayal of the character in The Dark Knight, even Heath Ledger wasn’t able to really use it. Credit to Hamill’s fearless acting. As you’d learn in the clip, he performed it standing up. You can feel the manic energy in every line he spoke. And when the animated series ended, Hamill (and fan favorite Bat-voice Kevin Conroy) brought the role out one last time for the now-causing-mass-sleep-deprivation video game Batman: Arkham City videogame. Sadly, Hamill told the world it’d be his last foray into the fracas… and thus his reign as the ringmaster of insanity came to a close.

Other people have taken on the role, to less effect. The fantastic John DiMagio (of Futurama fame and much, much more), Kevin Michael Richardson, and even now Brent “Data” Spiner have all tried to take the mantle. But none capture that balance of the character. Some of it may come from the writing itself… but as we all know, the best actors can make lemonade from just a packet of Sweet-N-Low and a wedge of lemon. Mark Hamill’s been blessed with fantastic writers, but took the role to such heights that now I fear no one will ever replace him.

And just then, the window above shatters. Shards of glass rain down on the floor around you, reflecting the pale moonlight and streetlamp glow as they ping-ping-ping into pieces. A leathery flap darkens the area where you sit. You can’t see anything, but you hear a desperate plea.

“Wait, Batsy, no! We were just about to read O.M.A.C. #1 together! HAAA HAAA HAAA HEEE HEE HOO HOO HEEEE!”

SUNDAY: JOHN OSTRANDER

Check out the John Carter Trailer

Growing up, there was nothing more captivating than Frank Frazetta’s amazing cover paintings for the Science Fiction Book Club editions of Edgar Rice Burroughs’ John Carter series of novels set on Barsoom, er, Mars.

While there have been many abortive attempts at adapting John Carter as a cartoon or live-action film, we’re finally getting one with a strong pedigree. Pixar’s first live-action film, directed by Andrew Stanton, is shaping up to be 2012’s first blockbuster. Opening March 9, it leads a super-heroic slate of films and now the first trailer for the feature is available.

From a screenplay by Andrew Stanton & Mark Andrews and Michael Chabon the movie stars Taylor Kitsch, Lynn Collins, Samantha Morton, Mark Strong, Ciaran Hinds, Dominic West, James Purefoy, Daryl Sabara, Polly Walker, Bryan Cranston, with Thomas Haden Church and Willem Dafoe.

For those unfamiliar with the concept, here’s the studio’s official synopsis:  The studio goes on to note: From Academy Award®–winning filmmaker Andrew Stanton comes John Carter—a sweeping action-adventure set on the mysterious and exotic planet of Barsoom (Mars). John Carter is based on a classic novel by Edgar Rice Burroughs, whose highly imaginative adventures served as inspiration for many filmmakers, both past and present. The film tells the story of war-weary, former military captain John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), who is inexplicably transported to Mars where he becomes reluctantly embroiled in a conflict of epic proportions amongst the inhabitants of the planet, including Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) and the captivating Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins). In a world on the brink of collapse, Carter rediscovers his humanity when he realizes that the survival of Barsoom and its people rests in his hands.


 

Notes:

  • Edgar Rice Burroughs was born in Chicago and is best known for writing and creating Tarzan—still one of the most successful and iconic fictional creations of all time.  John Carter is based on Burroughs’ first novel, A Princess of Mars.
  • Academy Award®–winning director/writer Andrew Stanton directed and co-wrote the screenplay for WALL•E, which earned the Academy Award® and Golden Globe Award® for Best Animated Feature of 2008. He was Oscar® nominated for the screenplay. He made his directorial debut with Finding Nemo, garnering an Academy Award nomination for Best Original Screenplay and winning the Oscar for Best Animated Feature Film of 2003. He was one of the four screenwriters to receive an Oscar nomination in 1996 for his contribution to Toy Story, and went on to receive credit as a screenwriter on subsequent Pixar films A Bug’s Life, Toy Story 2, Monsters, Inc., Finding Nemo and WALL•E.
  • The award-winning below-the-line team includes Production Designer Nathan Crowley, Oscar®- nominated for both Dark Knight and The Prestige,   and Costume Designer Mayes Rubeo, whose work is showcased in Avatar and Apocalypto.
  • Michael Chabon, who won the Pulitzer Prize in Literature for his novel The Amazing Adventures of Kavalier and Clay, is a co-writer on the screenplay.
  • Award-winning composer Michael Giacchino has received numerous accolades for his work on previous Disney•Pixar films Up (Oscar® winner, Best Original Score; BAFTA winner, Best Music; Golden Globe® winner, Best Original Score for a Motion Picture; GRAMMY® Award winner, Best Score Soundtrack Album), Ratatouille (GRAMMY Award winner, Best Score Soundtrack Album; Annie Award winner, Best Music in an Animated Feature Production; Oscar nomination, Best Original Score) and The Incredibles (Annie Award winner, Best Music in an Animated Feature Production; GRAMMY nomination, Best Score Soundtrack Album).

‘The Dark Knight Rises’ Begins Shooting

Here’s the release with all the current information, reminding us of how much we’re looking to seeing how this wraps up:

BURBANK, CA, May 19, 2011 – Principal photography has begun on Warner Bros. Pictures’ and Legendary Pictures’ The Dark Knight Rises, the epic conclusion to filmmaker Christopher Nolan’s [[[Batman]]] trilogy.

Leading an all-star international cast, Oscar® winner Christian Bale (The Fighter) again plays the dual role of Bruce Wayne/Batman.

The film also stars Anne Hathaway, as Selina Kyle; Tom Hardy, as Bane; Oscar® winner Marion Cotillard (La Vie en Rose), as Miranda Tate; and Joseph Gordon-Levitt, as John Blake.

Returning to the main cast, Oscar® winner Michael Caine (The Cider House Rules) plays Alfred; Gary Oldman is Commissioner Gordon; and Oscar® winner Morgan Freeman (Million Dollar Baby) reprises the role of Lucius Fox.

In helming The Dark Knight Rises, Christopher Nolan is utilizing IMAX® cameras even more extensively than he did on The Dark Knight, which had marked the first time that a major feature film was partially shot with IMAX® cameras.  The results were so spectacular that the director wanted to expand the use of the large-format cameras for this film.

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Jeff Robinov

Lex Luthor On Plans For Justice League, Flash, Wonder Woman Movies In 2013

Jeff RobinovLex Luthor, evil genius and president of the DC Universe, spoke today on his plans for Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, the Justice League, and of course, Superman…

…our mistake. This is actually Jeff Robinov, evil genius and president of the Warner Bros. motion picture group, which owns the DC Universe, who spoke today with the Los Angeles Times on his plans for Batman, Wonder Woman, Green Lantern, Flash, the Justice League, and of course, Superman…

The first priority for the man with the ultimate say on what films get made at Warner Bros.: Finally getting the Justice League, DC’s team featuring all its top characters, on the big screen in 2013. The picture had been very close to production in late 2007 and early 2008, but was killed by the Writers Guild of America strike, tax credit issues in Australia, and concerns by some at Warner about presenting a competing (and conflicting) version of Batman while director Christopher Nolan’s films were breaking box office records.

But Robinov said a new Justice League script is in the works. Also being written for Warner are scripts featuring the Flash and Wonder Woman, who could be spun off into their own movies after Justice League.

We apologize for the confusion. And we suddenly understand why no one is talking about having Luthor in the next Superman film.

Batmobile Raider

Batmobile Inspires British Tank Design

Batmobile RaiderIn the movies, Batman fights crime with a collection of, to quote Jack Nicholson, wonderful toys. Hisham Awad, project leader of defense company BAE System’s future protected vehicles group, liked some of those ideas so much he used them to build an assault vehicle:

While Awad was showing one of his team’s concept vehicles, the unmanned skirmisher known as Raider, another of the assembled journalists gave a low whistle.

‘I like that,’ he said. ‘Looks like the Batmobile.’

‘Ah!’ Awad replied, with a grin. ‘Glad you said that. That’s what we based it on.’

Pardon?

‘Yes, we liked the look of that, so we designed something similar.’

What, the Batmobile in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight?

‘Yes, that one. You see, it turns like a motorbike and it has the same wheel configuration.’

Yes, yes, but you’re basing a future fighting vehicle on something you saw in a film?

‘Well, why not?’ Awad replied. ‘In all seriousness, we decided that we didn’t have a monopoly on inspiration, and if we saw something in a film that we thought might be a good idea, why not take a look at it and see if there’s something practical we can develop?’

Looks like Mr. Earle didn’t push sales hard enough. No wonder Bruce Wayne replaced him with Lucius Fox.

Hat tip (I can’t believe I’m saying this): FoxNews.com.

Review: ‘Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics’

Review: ‘Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics’

DC Comics had grand plans for its 75th anniversary but most of them were shelved when the company evolved into DC Entertainment and the mandate was to look ahead, not back. Still, there’s the mammoth book coming from Taschen and this month we’re being treated to the documentary [[[Secret Origin: The Story of DC Comics.]]] Narrated by next summer’s [[[Green Lantern]]], Ryan Reynolds, the 90 minute feature explores the company from beginning through today but given the wealth of subject matter, at best, this is a surface study.

The documentary makes good use of archival footage from creators no longer with us and mixes them in with fresh interviews so we hear from executives, writers, artists, and many of those who built the company. Among those you will see on screen include Neal Adams, Irwin Hasen, Marv Wolfman, Mark Waid, Dan DiDio, Jim Lee, Paul Levitz, Walter and Louise Simonson, Chip Kidd, Joe Kubert, Denny O’Neil, Mike Carlin, Grant Morrison, Neil Gaiman, Len Wein, Dwayne McDuffie, Geoff Johns, Karen Berger, Kyle Baker, Paul Pope, and Gerry Jones. Interestingly, Jenette Kahn, the architect for much of the company’s modern era, and current prez Diane Nelson do not appear.

This is a corporate history and as a result, it’s most famous black marks in its history, from the Fawcett law suit over Captain Marvel to the struggles of Jerry Siegel and Joe Shuster to gain some recognition and cash for[[[ Superman]]], are entirely omitted. Similarly, other corporate facts are either blurred, such as the separate companies[Detective Comics, Inc. and All-American Comics before becoming National Comics or the acquisitions of Quality, Fawcett, and Charlton’s heroes as each company folded are missing.

The chronology is a bit jumbled now and then but overall, we go from [[[New Comics]]] in 1935 though the forthcoming DC Universe Online. We’re treated to clips from the animated shows, live-action films, and some nifty archival footage of the Superman Writers’ Summit where the team plotted the death of Superman. The movie serials are ignored which is a shame and not enough emphasis is given to the current era of animation which was kicked off in 1990 and hasn’t looked back, influencing the comics and other animators.
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Jonah Hex Trailer Debuts on the Web

Jonah Hex Trailer Debuts on the Web

Debuting on the interwebs just a few days ago (in case ya’ didn’t catch it, partner), the trailer for DC’s western wild-man, Jonah Hex, made it’s dusty digital debut. And dag-nabbit, if it ain’t a big ole pile of predictable horse puckey! After you give that link a lil’ ole’ click and watch the trailer for yourself, maybe you bounce right back here for our analysis of why it done got our britches in a bind!

First off, let’s just git this outta the way. Castin’ John Malkovich as yer’ villain these days is as inspired a choice as castin’ Matthew McConaughey in a romantic comedy. I mean, does Malkovich even get a script for pictures like this anymore, or does the director yell action, and just let him do that whole slow-quiet-evil-talking thing he does in every other movie he’s in?

Past that, how about we talk about Mr. Hex himself. Now I admit, I ain’t no historian of western tales from the funny pages, but a quick call to my friend (comic book historian) Alan Kistler proved my theory right. In his illustrious history as a comic book anti-hero, Mr. Hex ain’t never had no “bring-people-back-from-the-dead-for-a-short-period-of-time” power. And you think the folks on this movie could afford a little better makeup job for the ole’ scarface? I mean, the Dark Knight sure did a convincing job with Mr. Harvey Two-Face’s scars… and here? Jonah done look like they painted up a red vine flesh colored and glued it to Josh Brolin’s face… after letting him suffer from some major acne issues.

I seem to recall another movie that loved to play fast and loose with old west technology too. Anyone else recall that gem of a picture, Wild Wild West? Well it seems the fine folks behind Jonah Hex raided the prop closet from that nightmare, dusted it off, and are attempting to pass it off again. A dynamite launching crossbow pistol? Really? I might have been fine with the pair of gatling guns on Jonah’s horse. But where does he get all these wonderful toys? it seems Jonah’s befriended a well-to-do black man with a closet full of steam punk goodies! Perhaps Morgan Freeman wasn’t available?

Next up on the ole’ gripe list. Megan Fox. Now, I know, if a film has to suck (Transformers, I’m looking at you) the least the producers can do is toss in a little eye candy to ease the pain. And given Josh Brolin’s face in this picture, well, they coulda’ used some special effects to clone Megan a sister. But only if she was mute, cause dog-gonnit… everytime she opens her mouth to deliver a line, it saps the lightning outta my loins faster than a picture of Bea Arthur. I’m not saying Megan’s a bad actress… I’m saying she’s a terrible actress. And based solely on the trailer, I can tell she already talks to much. Where’s Megatron when you need him!?

And finally, let’s just touch quickly on the movie poster itself. Now, given my personal preference for movable type, I have to say, their choice for fonts are as ugly as my sorry ass after a night of drinking. If the bevel gets any bigger on the word HEX you might as well sell 3D glasses to the movie goers. And what in God’s good name is John Malovich holding in his hand? A dragonball? I’m all for purty special effects people, but seriously, why would Jonah be firing his pistol crossbow and hip mounted mini-gun? Malkovich is behind him! Seriously folks… this trailer has done got me in a tizzy, and I apologize for ranting and a’ railing all over this blog today. I think I’ma’ gonna’ take in the ole’ Iron Man 2 trailer now, just to settle my frazzled nerves.

Monday Mix-Up: Bateman Begins

Monday Mix-Up: Bateman Begins

Some boys grow up to be scientists. Others grow up to be bus drivers. Some become doctors. Others become writers. Some become international playboys who fight crime at night in order to make good on the their promise to their dead parents. Others become international playboys who need to murder at night in order to feel real feelings anymore. It’s really a small world when you think about it eh? And thanks to this little You-Tubery we can see that there’s a thin line between the Dark Knight and the Cocaine-Infused ATM Kitten Feeder. And while we’re pretty sure Bruce Wayne would get reservations at Doria if he wanted, Batman never trained in precise chainsaw dropping. Bateman 1, Batman 0.

Enjoy the mash-up.

The Point Radio: Bringing A Fresh Eye To ‘The Prisoner’

The Point Radio: Bringing A Fresh Eye To ‘The Prisoner’

As amazing as it sounds, actor Jim Caviezel had never been exposed to THE PRISONER before the script landed at his door. In our exclusive interview, Jim talks about how coming at the project from a new perspective gave him an edge few other actors had. Plus, now those JSA episodes of SMALLVILLE are becoming a movie event, Fox yanks DOLLHOUSE from life support and how about DARK KNIGHT on DVD for $3.99.

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