Trade Paperback : http://www.amazon.com/Hawk-Machine-Van-Allen-Plexico/dp/0615641318
All too often, super-hero origin stories happen to one person and we follow their journey. On rare occasions, usually involving Jack Kirby creations, we have a handful of people gain extraordinary abilities and we see how that alters the dynamics. In film, the focus has tended to be on singular characters so it’s somewhat refreshing to see Chronicle attempt something different. Effectively a YA super-hero novel brought to film; director Josh Trank explores what it might mean if three teen boys suddenly gain telekinetic powers. He has merged this familiar coming of age tale with the film trope of “found footage” (see The Blair Witch Project, Cloverfield) keeping things fresh and interesting. Thanks to Max Landis’ script, the film and its characters feel contemporary and relevant.
There’s little wholly original about the movie – now out on home video from 20th Century Home Entertainment — as you feel elements of other similar tales so it all comes down to the execution and here, the film succeeds. It tells its story, makes its point and ends, leaving the audience entertained and largely satisfied.
The footage comes mainly from Andrew Detmer (Dane DeHaan), a high schooler trying to find meaning in life. He has a mother slowly dying from cancer and an alcoholic father, making him feel isolated, alone, and powerless. Some of life’s meaning is explained by his cousin Matt (Alex Russell), a philosopher quoting Jung and Schopenhauer, conveying the film’s message in a not-so-subtle manner. When they and class president candidate Steve (Michael B. Jordan) wind up underground, they are exposed to an unexplained red-glowing crystal, they all gain telekinetic powers. Being teen guys, they pull the expected pranks on one another from tossing balls to raising skirts (reminding us of the similar 1980s comedy Zapped!). (more…)
Considering director Tarsem Singh and screenwriters Vlas and Charley Parlapanides come from cultures steeped in mythology, you would think Immortals might have a touch of fidelity to the ancient source material. Instead, this incredibly generic looking film barely pays attention to even the most basic elements of the gods, goddesses, and creatures that interacted with man once upon a time. The film, out on home video now from 20th Century Home Entertainment, pays some lip-service to the stories once told to enthrall the masses and focuses on the handsome, well-oiled Theseus, our mortal hero. Played by the Man of Steel, Henry Cavill, he’s used to larger-than-life figures and gamely works his way through a bland script that pales in comparison with the best of Harryhausen and even the various myth-based films of the last few years.
The story in short involves the bad king Hyperion (Mickey Rourke), who wants to bring about the gods’ downfall by releasing their forbearers, the Titans, who languish in captivity within Mount Tartarus. His scheme begins by kidnapping the virgin oracle Phaedra (Frieda Pinto), so her powers can tell him how to bring his scheme to fruition. Along the way, Hyperion pillages a village, killing Theseus’ mother and dragging the peasant into the fray, setting him up to be the hero. While the gods come courtesy of Clash of the Titans, the film’s look owes royalties to 300 (which makes sense since it comes from the same producers without the vision of Zack Snyder) and Gladiator. (more…)
TIPPIN’ HANCOCK’S HAT- Reviews of All Things Pulp by Tommy Hancock
GHOST SQUAD: RISE OF THE BLACK LEGION
by Andrew Salmon and Ron Fortier
Cover by Chad Hardin
Interiors by Rob Davis
Published by Airship 27 Productions
Even though Pulp, both Classic and New, runs rampant over a myriad of genres, there’s no doubt that a personal favorite of mine and indeed of many Pulp fans of all shades and types is the tried and true Hero Pulp. A strong central ‘lead’ character surrounded by able bodied, skilled, and interesting teammates off on an adventure against over the top villains with a larger than life plan to take over some corner, or pray tell even the entire world. There’s just something about those stories that endear themselves to me and to Pulp Fans as a whole.
I really enjoy it when I find such characters in a New Pulp work, one that effectively tips its fedora to what came before, but also brings enough modern sensibility and nuance to the Hero genre to make it stand out, to make it more New than Rehash.
That’s why I really, really enjoyed GHOST SQUAD: RISE OF THE BLACK LEGION from Airship 27 Productions.
Co-written by Ron Fortier and Andrew Salmon and originally released in 2008, GHOST SQUAD opens with a story known to many of a man once dead returned to life by Jesus Christ. This opening segues into another introductory sequence showing the same man now working the front lines of World War One. This unique way of setting up the central character of the team we get introduced to in later chapters quickly endears the reader to said character, who currently, in this title, is using the name John Lazarus.
The uniqueness of utilizing the biblical character adds a touch of fantastic imagination to a story that also comes replete with a two fisted pilot, a beguiling lady stage magician skilled in real magic, an elite group of Nazis led by someone nearly as long lived as Lazarus and very much his opposite number, and so much more. GHOST SQUAD moves with a pacing in the first 12 chapters and from chapter 14 on that is top notch and would serve as a great blueprint for New Pulp writers on how to pace a Pulpy tale and utilize both rapid fire action and balance throughout.
There are times, however, when one section, one chapter, even one page of a book can threaten to derail the whole process, disengage the reader so completely that they almost don’t finish the tale. GHOST SQUAD has just such a stumbling block. Chapter 13, which highlights a car chase involving Hale, one of the Ghost Squad members, and a very special guest star from the era of the Classic Pulps through the city of San Francisco, is a complete waste of time. Well, not the whole thing necessarily, but the chapter, 23 pages in length, drags on after about the tenth page and carries the heroes and villains through a series of twists and turns that, although possibly intended to add tension and excitement to the story as a whole, does just the opposite and weighs the story down so much that it made it hard to stay invested in the tale. Fortunately for the book and for me as the reader, Salmon and Fortier return to the dead on pacing and storytelling they exhibited in the first 12 chapters with Chapter 14 and do not let up or fall back into that Chapter 13 trap again at all.
Although the cover to this book isn’t typically what I enjoy stylistically, Hardin’s work fits this piece extremely well and the image cast by the cover works perfectly. Add in Davis’ top of the line interiors, some of his best New Pulp work I’ve seen to date, along with his equally excellent design work on the package as a whole, and GHOST SQUAD definitely stands as one of the best looking New Pulp offerings out there.
FOUR OUT OF FIVE TIPS OF HANCOCK’S HAT- This book came out in 2008. Far too long since Lazarus and crew have seen light, if you ask me.
Growing up, I devoured just about all the animated adventure programs on television at the time, meaning I saw early anime series like The Amazing Three and Astro Boy in addition to the adaptations of Belgium’s classic hero Tintin. As a result, I have always known the teen hero and have respected Hergé’s amazing output of graphic albums until his passing. I even paid a visit to London’s Tintin store, amazed at the variety of offerings that were nicer and less kitschy than the American tonnage devoted to the most meager of properties.
It always surprised me that a live action Tintin movie was never made so was excited to hear that two legends, Steven Spielberg and Peter Jackson, were going to collaborate on a series of films. The quirk was that it would all be done with state-of-the-art motion capture plus shot for 3-D. Since Robert Zemeckis first explored motion capture, the technology has been continually refined, but full-length features have always fallen short (remember Beowulf?). I am also not one of those who has embraced the latest round of 3-Ds; both proved factors that kept me away from The Adventures of Tintin when it opened over the holidays.
A chance to evaluate the film has arrived in the form of the Blu-ray edition, going on sale Tuesday from Paramount Home Entertainment. I still have vague, pleasant memories of some of the adventures I watched as a kid and was looking forward. As it turns out, the script drew from three of the albums — The Secret of the Unicorn (1943), The Crab with the Golden Claws (1941), and Red Rackham’s Treasure (1944). What amazes me is that Steven Moffat, Joe Cornish and Edgar Wright, all highly pedigreed screenwriters in their own right, mined these and came up with what felt like an exceptionally thin story.
Largely, it has to do with the descendants from two families dating back to the days of pirates, one seeking hidden wealth and one hiding from his legacy inside a bottle. When Tintin becomes accidentally embroiled in the search of the legendary treasure from the sunken ship The Unicorn, things are moved forward. As a result, there are many, many differences from albums to film and yet, it all feels incredibly weak, just excuses for chase scenes.
What the script does nicely capture if Tintin’s youthful exuberance and inexperience, so he’s not a perfect hero with all the answers. It also takes him around the world to exotic locales, which Hergé painstakingly researched and Spielberg nicely realizes.
The idea of a motion capture Tintin versus a traditional line-drawn animated was certainly an ambitious one but it is jarring to see Tintin’s hair swoop and Captain Haddock’s bulbous nose in three-dimensions. (Having said that, I adored the animated title sequence.) In fact, so much of life-like mixed with the exaggerations culled from the source material that the final product looks right and wrong at the same time. Where the motion capture excels is when the characters move and there’s plenty of movement. At times, the story feels more like an excuse for set pieces that leave you breathless or checking your watch.
Jamie Bell makes for a fine Tintin and was well cast, paired nicely with Andy Serkis’ hard-drinking Haddock. It reminds us that Serkis is more than a guy who moves well, but a guy who acts and moves well. This is a strong performance. They’re well supported by the likes of Simon Pegg and Nick Frost as the bumbling Thompson and Thomson and Daniel Craig as Ivan Ivanovitch Sakharine. Snowy is all digital and steals most of his scenes.
The biggest problem for me with the final film is that it was pretty to look at but there was not enough character bits or story to make it worth sitting through the prolonged action sequences. John Williams’ first score in four years even sounded overly familiar.
The 2-D Blu-ray transfer is wonderful with excellent sound so you won’t mind sitting through this at home. The film is supported by a series of featurettes that, strung together, run 1:36 and give you just enough information on Tintin, Hergé, the casting, and the laborious production process. Some of the best bits are the early tests for Snowy and Jackson filling in as Haddock. You get a sense of how directing and filing a motion capture production works but there is a lot of the same movie footage recycled and it gets tiresome. And despite celebrating Hergé, there’s no real image of him or footage of his widow complimenting the film. It would have been nice to have provided a checklist or digital album sampler to direct people to the print version.
Overall, I had high hopes and was left visually pleased but ultimately dissatisfied with the final results. Word is, work is already proceeding in developing a sequel and we’ll see if the content matches the technology.
Captain Action, the popular super hero toy from the 1960s returns to toy shelves with new costume sets, including Marvel Comics’ Spider-Man, Thor and Captain America. new costume sets will debut in March 2012.
Dr. Evil, a menacing alien complete with his traditional creepy exposed brain, served as the original antagonist to Captain Action during the 1960s. Just as Captain Action can assume the identities of popular heroes, the new Dr. Evil will assume the identities of villains such as Thor’s evil brother, Loki, and the Red Skull via costume sets. “Every good hero needs an evil counterpart, and who’s more evil than the original Dr. Evil?“ said Ed Catto of Captain Action Enterprises.
The new figure will be created from all new sculpts and molds, and even add one creative innovation. “The new Dr. Evil will have interchangeable brains! The figure will come with three different brains: a battle brain, a brilliant brain and a bionic brain” said Mike Murphy, Creative Director at Round 2. “Fans will be able to swap the brains in and out of his head with each one having a specific purpose that will aid Dr. Evil to carry out his diabolical schemes!”
Comic legend Joe Jusko is providing the Dr. Evil illustration for the packaging. Dr. Evil and the Loki costume set will be available in July of 2012.
Pro Se Productions and Tommy Hancock announce today that the first story in Hancock’s iPulpFiction.com series ‘Tales of YesterYear’, drawn from the same set of characters spotlighted in Hancock’s debut novel ‘YesterYear’, is now available at iPulpFiction.com. The first story, THE FIRST YESTERDAY, spotlighting an overview of the universe of the story as well as the origin of the first Hero, is available for absolutely FREE! Go to www.iPulpFiction.com and log in or register for a free account and then browse the shelves for the Tales of YesterYear cover and click the image! Download THE FIRST YESTERDAY for free from Tommy Hancock and Pro Se Productions!
ALL PULP REVIEWS by Ron Fortier
|THE PULPTRESS as drawn by
|THE PULPTRESS as drawn by
Ralf van der Hoeven
AP: That brings up a good final question. Where is home? Who are you when you hang up the mask on the hook beside your fedora? Who are you when you’re not The Pulptress?