Other web sites think their movie reviewers are tough, but let’s see them try and watch movies for five days straight while not being distracted by Times Square. That’s what our own Matt Raub (second from right) is doing right this minute, as he tries to break the world record for watching movies. No fast forwarding through the slow parts. No skipping the credits. And no popcorn throwing at the other contestants. All this for a $10,000 cash prize, a lifetime subscription to Netflix, the first-ever Popcorn Bowl trophy, and the glory of a Guiness World Record.
Well, tomorrow’s equinox marks the actual onset of autumn, but tonight’s the Emmy Awards marking the official changing of the TV season. More or less. With staggered season openers depending on which network you’re talking about, how you watch your shows (webisodes? DVR pile-up?), the idea of a TV season is in flux, but you can always count on ComicMix to feature geek-oriented show reviews as well as our usual columns and features. Here’s what we’ve had for you this past week::
Speaking of politics, so far my favorite new program this season is The Rachel Maddow Show, and I must confess that, between Rachel, her companion pundit hour, baseball wrapping up its 2008 season and all the stuff I’m trying to clear from my DVR, I haven’t been paying much attention to TV premieres…
[Editor’s Note: While ComicMix columnist Michael H. Price devoted a recent column to reviewing the superhero parody film Superhero Movie, regular ComicMix film reviewer Matt Raub braved hordes of pre-teen Drake & Josh fans this weekend to provide some addiitonal insight on the film. With ticket prices as they are these days, we figured ComicMix readers would appreciate the extra review before they parted with their money. -RM]
To begin with, this movie isn’t terrible. But before we get into that, a brief history lesson:
Scary Movie is a horror-spoof franchise that began in 2000 and was helmed by six writers that included the Wayans brothers and their team from previous projects. Also included were writers Jason Friedberg and Aaron Seltzer. This team’s only previous credit was the 1996 spy spoof Spy Hard, starring Leslie Nielson. As a whole, this was the creative team responsible for the first two Scary Movie films, but they opted out of a third film, and the franchise continued with Airplane and Naked Gun creator David Zucker at the helm. Zucker brought along Pat Proft, who he had previously worked with, and a new guy named Craig Mazin, who worked on a quirky superhero comedy from 2000 called The Specials.
Still with me here? Good, because we’re almost to the point, I promise. Upon leaving the franchise after Scary Movie 2, two of the six writers decided they weren’t quite done with the “spoofing genres” game and went on to write and direct Date Movie. (The original trailer for Date Movie even tagged the film as “from two of the six writers of Scary Movie.”) They also went on to do Epic Movie and, finally, winter’s kick-in-the-face: Meet the Spartans. At this point, if you’re not bleeding from the ears, you may be asking yourself, “Why did I need to know any of this?” Well, because those hating on this film based purely on its existence need to know that [[[Superhero Movie]]] was not the brainchild of any of the people attached to the three terrible spin-off-genre-spoofing-machines, be they [[[Date]]], [[[Epic]]], or [[[Spartan]]]. Instead, it is that of Craig Mazin, who created 2000’s superhero comedy [[[The Specials]]], starring Thomas Hayden Church and Rob Lowe (pick it up on DVD, it’s pretty good).
ComicMix comes to you from Toy Fair this week, in the heart of New York City… and we have video!
Okay, so it’s not exactly the "heart" of the city. It’s more like the "elbow-region," way over on the Western side of the island where the subways don’t dare to travel. But the point here is that there are toys — lots of them.
Waiting for a trolley: "I’m so glad, I just found out that Lucy Lawless is going to be here on Sunday. I hope I get to show her my tattoo!" And in case she doesn’t get a chance, everybody else can see it here.
Neil Gaiman, at the Paramount preview panel: "I’m growing vats of people like you all around the world. Eventually we’ll put a bunch of you in a room with knives, and whoever emerges alive will be the winner and can make the Sandman movie."
On Market Street: "IDT buying IDW? Aren’t they supposed to buy a company called IDU first?"
Marvel Studios has both Doctor Strange and Ant-Man in development as live action movies, along with gosh-darn near everything else in the catalog. The good Doctor, of course, will make his live action D2DVD debut in a few weeks. And, according to a source, a new slate of animated D2DVDs is in the works.
Contributors to today’s column: Adriane Nash, Matt Raub, Mike Gold
Well, maybe not the NJ Turnpike, but it seemed like every car in the world was in the Garden State Parkway heading southward both yesterday and today. Kinda fun if one’s travelling northward, but not at all amusing when one is among the plastic and metal hordes. It’s nice to come home to one’s own bed, one’s own computer desk, and one’s own ComicMix colleagues; here’s what we all cooked up for you this past week:
Of course our newest addition, Andrew Wheeler, has been cranking ’em out day in and day out, hope you’ve been keeping up! In addition, Robert Greenberger‘s had some crack analyses, Matt Raub‘s been reviewing everything in sight, and even Glenn Hauman made another columnar appearance this past week with Above and Beyond #3: Who made comics piracy big?. Plenty of cool reads during these hot times!
We’ve got an extra-special bonus edition of The Big ComicMix Broadcast today, because things are still cooking in Charlotte as we enjoy another day at the 25th Annual Heroes Convention – and we take you along for the ride! If you ever wanted to publish your own comic, then get ready to meet someone who made his dream come true! Plus… Matt Raub dives into Fantastic 4: Rise Of The Silver Surfer, we lay out the Late List of Missing Comics and take a trip back to the days when *Pow* and *Zap* were actually not insults to comic fans!
OK, so here we go: it’s the official midway point between the first and latter half of the Summer of Blockbusters. With last week’s box office flop consisting of Ocean’s 13andHostel Part 2, a sequel to a film nobody was all that psyched about to begin with has got failure written all over it, right? Wrong. Of the films I have caught this summer, FF2 has got to be my favorite, which is probably the highest honor I can give it. From titles to credits, I only complained once, and even that wasn’t totally worthy of complaint. But I’m getting ahead of myself, we’ve done this enough times for me not to deter from format, of course we have to break the film down and throw in a few obscure comic references, or else it just wouldn’t feel right.
Starting off with the acting, I was more than happy with everyone’s performances in the film, including Alba’s, who I bitched and moaned about in the previous film. This movie has got enough content jam-packed into 89 minutes that her flickering eyes and blank stare were almost as invisible as the character herself.
My favorite part of a superhero sequel is that we’re beyond the need for introductions and origins, and we can get to the grits of the character. There were a few things I wanted in the first film that were delivered with bells on in this film. Those being: more Johnny and Ben camaraderie, less “will they or won’t they” with Sue and Reed, and a whole lot less of Julian McMahon looking somber. While we got much more of the first, the second two still had their moments, but again with a film that primarily shifts the focus on a brand new character, the little problems like that get lost in the cracks. We also get a reprise of Stan Lee, unsurprisingly, but this time he doesn’t come back as Postman Willie Lumpkin, but another, very special character. I won’t give it away, but I’ll drop a hint: He’s old.
The next section of course being the special effects of the film. And I’m somewhat jaded in this category, because for years, the only Fantastic Four I knew of other than ink on paper was from the Roger Corman epic, and those of you who remember that also remember a lot of clay-mation stretchiness and I Dream of Jeannie camera tricks for the invisible effect. So comparing it to the two new films is like holding a candle up to the sun. The effects started off pretty poor, but then came to blow me away by the end of the flick. This is where we touch on the giant purple elephant in the room, Galactus.
I’m going to put an end to the rumor right now and admit that Yes: Galactus is a cloud, BUT! It’s completely pulled off in this picture. I was the first webgeek to bitch and moan that I wanted a giant purple dude like we’ve always known the Devourer of Worlds to be, but when you consider the impact of a twister three times the size of earth coming to literally eat the world, the image is haunting, and even us original geeks get a nod from the crew towards the end of the picture. Again, I don’t want to spoil too much, but during the final battle, look directly into the “belly of Galactus” to see an old face.
So here we are, smack-dab in the middle of the unforgiving Summer Blockbuster Land of 2007, we’ve already got 300 Spartans, a few talking turtles, a spider, an ogre, and a whiney Kurt Russell under our collective belts, and we still have so much more to get to. But here we are with the culmination of the summer in Disney’s third installment to their Pirates of the Caribbean franchise entitled World’s End.
Now, going into this film I had pretty high expectations, which I normally don’t, but this film had enough build up in the first two films to get just about anybody excited for an outcome. So with that said, I had a few issues with the movie as a whole, but before we get to that, so as not to ruin tradition, lets break down the film into the specified categories.
Starting off with the best element of the film, the acting, I was more than pleased with the performances of the cast. Geoffrey Rush returns as Captain Barbosa and did an amazing job playing off of Depp’s Captain Jack. His performance is full of creepy glances and pirate lingo which I had completely no idea what it meant, but it still sounded awesome. Knightley was impressive in stark comparison to her role in the first film, this film was meant as the “all grown up” point in her life where she’s no longer the dainty, naïve Governor’s daughter, and has embraced the pirate way of life. Orlando Blooms role, while large in the last 20 minutes of the film, was somewhat lacking in the other 2 hours and 40 minutes. There seemed to be way too many different parties to give enough screen time to each of them. Bill Nighy did an amazing job, of course.
Which brings us to the final member of our massive leading cast, Captain Jack Sparrow. I only had two major problems with this film, we’ll get to number two later, but the biggest one was the unnecessary, force fed comic relief in this film. It isn’t even considered to be comic relief because it consumes 90% of the movie, which just makes the other 10% well needed dramatic relief. I was happy in the first two films where our comedy came mostly from our two would be pirates Pantel and Ragetti, and the occasional wackiness from Depp’s Sparrow, but in this film, Captain Jack ends up going crazy in Davey Jones’ locker, which apparently makes everything, yes everything he says sound like it was written by Larry David. Now normally I’m the first one to complain that a movie is taking itself too seriously, but this became ridiculous after three hours of zany one liners and slapstick visual jokes. I was rooting for the major death at the end of the movie, only because the audience needed a shellshock to help us realize that it wasn’t a Night at the Apollo.
Hey gang, Matt Raub back again, and that can only mean one thing – it’s Who time! So here we are, already a quarter of the way through another explosive year of Doctor Who. And what better time to start the season three story arc than in the 727th produced episode, beating out all of the Star Trekseries combined!
In the episode, entitled “Gridlock,” the Doctor and Martha travel on their third voyage together, this time to the future city of New New York. Some of you may remember that we’ve been to New New York, and fairly recently (Don’t worry, Martha brings that up too). Last time, the Doctor and Rose visited a sick friend in very chic hospital above ground, but this time we find our traveling duo deep in the city’s bowels and on the New New York Motorway, which reaches all the way to New New Jersey. Fun thing about this motorway is that, due to the traffic, it takes about 10 years to go four miles. Well, in all the chaos, Martha is kidnapped by two motorists hoping to get into the express lane. The doctor then does his doctor thing and declares he will find her if it’s the last thing he’ll do.
The greatest part of this episode isn’t a quirky part of dialogue, or interesting plot point, but the way the episode was shot. The majority of this episode is going from car to car, whilst the doctor searches for Martha. Now, each car is shot in the exact same set, just with a change of furniture and a few new actors. This makes for an incredibly cheap budget for the episode, and while this is completely unnecessary for the BBC’s top rated show, it reflects some of the ingenuity that American TV lacks. My hat is tipped to executive producer and episode writer Russell T. Davies and the boys and girls overseas for this particular stunt.
Back to the episode, while looking for Martha, the doctor comes across an old buddy – in fact, the same old buddy he came across the last time we were all in New New York: The good ol’ Face of Boe. Those of you who remember the last encounter with that giant head-in-a-jar, remember that Boe said he would meet the Doctor a final time, and then he would tell him the great secret. So now here we are, and that big secret is? **SPOILER WARNING**