Tagged: movie

The Muppets Send Up The Hunger Games

The Muppets Send Up The Hunger Games

Exemplifying brilliant timing, Walt Disney has released a new parody trailer, this time skewering the eagerly awaited The Hunger Games, opening March 23. Meantime, it reminds us how funny the Muppets can be, just in time for their recent film, The Muppets, to come out on home video on March 20.

The Muppets will be available in a variety of formats including The Wocka Wocka Value Pack, containing the movie on Blu-ray high-definition, DVD and Digital Copy (3 discs) plus a download card for the film’s soundtrack from Walt Disney Records.

MARTHA THOMASES: Hunger Games, Buffy, and Goldie

My friend, Goldie, said, “I’m reading the best book. You would love it.”

I was skeptical. My friend, Goldie, usually likes different kinds of books than I do. She likes historical novels with a sense of place. She enjoys literary fiction, with Serious and Important themes. Still, she is my friend, and I was curious. “What is it?” I asked.

The Hunger Games,” she said. “I can’t put it down.”

“Isn’t that a young adult series?” I asked. Goldie is circling 60.

“It’s so good,” she said.

The next week, I found myself sitting around a lot and I managed to plow through the entire trilogy. At the same time, another friend (also older than me) and a woman whose job required extensive medical training both told me they were reading it.

Why are four reasonably sophisticated urban women, all but me with advanced degrees, reading a science fiction series aimed at tweens? Are there others like us? Are we statistically significant? Will the lines for the upcoming movie look like the Twilight audience, but now with more feminists?

Because The Hunger Games is definitely a work for those of us who have grown up with feminism. The heroine is brave, strong, skilled and smart. There is almost no mention of her beauty, or even if she is attractive. The two men vying for her affections never comment on her appearance. The challenges she faces throughout the books are about politics, the individual’s obligations to the larger society, and the repercussions of personal choices. She does not shop, talk about shoes, or even hang out with other girls. She doesn’t dislike other girls. She simply has no time for friends.

There is no comparison to serial science fiction in comics. Perhaps Buffy, the Vampire Slayer, but only because it’s based on a (deliberately) feminist television series, one in which the producer retains creative control.

The Hunger Games seemed to me most like the Philip Pullman series, [[[His Dark Materials]]], with the same mistrust of authority, the heroine with a mission whose scope is unknown to her when she begins, the complex and dystopian society. Pullman is a better writer, creating a richer world. There is no love triangle, but there are talking bears.

If you like your fictional worlds created for an adult audience, I highly recommend the books of [[[Elizabeth Hand]]]. The early ones especially are dense and humid, cheaper than a trip to Mexico and much longer-lasting.

Hand, along with Paul Witcover, created a series for DC in the 1990s. Anima was also big fun, mythic while also grungy and pulpy, a Rrriott Grrl for the DCU. Naturally, DC cancelled it before it could find its audience.

This is why there may be lines outside the theaters for the opening of The Hunger Games, but there won’t be lines outside the comic book store.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman


Valiant’s Bloodshot Hollywood Bound

modern-bloodshot-300x225-8655094Valiant Entertainment has been stirring things up as they prepare to relaunch their moribund line of characters in May. Now word has hit that Jeff Wadlow has sold a spec script for a Bloodshot film to be produced by Columbia Pictures.

According to The Hollywood Reporter, Wadlow, best known for the film Prey, came up with the notion for the movie and tracked down the rights holders, Jason Kothari and Dinesh Shamdasani, convincing them he was the right man to tackle the property. The script has been kicking around Hollywood since 2008 and was even considered for the developing comic line although that appears to have been abandoned. In March 2010, X-Men First Class director Matthew Vaughn was attached to direct a version of Bloodshot that may or may not have included Wadlow’s script. Wadlow, though, has been paid $450,000 for the spec script and that could swell to $1 million should the movie actually go before the cameras.

Original Films will produce the film for Columbia with Neal H. Moritz set to executive produce. In the announcement, Hannah Minghella, Columbia president of production, said, “The Bloodshot character has been a fan favorite for nearly two decades, selling approximately 7 million comic books globally. Because there have been more than 1,500 pages of storylines published, there is a rich legacy to draw from as we develop the screenplay.  Neal is one of the best action producers working today and we know he is the right filmmaker to take on this potential franchise.”

Moritz is no stranger to comics and pop culture icons, having most recently worked on the remakes of 21 Jump Street and Total Recall for Columbia, and adapting Dark Horse Comics’ R.I.P.D. for Universal.

Meantime, Brett Ratner was announced to be directing an adaptation of Valiant’s Harbinger in 2008 as he sought a franchise he could call his own. Since then, there has been nary a peep from Valiant or Ratner on the property’s development.

Valiant, founded in 1989 by Jim Shooter, will return after a decade’s absence with X-O Man of War in May. Former Marvel editor Warren Simons has been carefully assembling creative teams with a slow roll out apparently mapped for 2012 and beyond.


It’s spring training for baseball, a time when even Cubs fans can be hopeful despite knowing that, sooner or later, this year’s team will break our hearts as every Cubs team has done for over a century. Truth is, if the Cubs ever won the World Series, their mystique would be gone. Their legend is based on being losers.

As baseball season is upon us, and tonight is the Academy Awards, I want to look back not only at the game but at my favorite baseball movies. For my taste, there is something better about baseball films than there is in films for any other sport. There’s a duality to it; baseball is played by teams but it comes down to individuals – batter versus pitcher.

So here, in no particular order, are my favorite baseball films. I’m not saying they’re the best but they are my faves and I think every one of them is watchable. These aren’t the only baseball films I like and the list may not include your faves but there’s only so much space.

Moneyball stars Bard Pitt in his Oscar nominated role; the nomination is well deserved although his pal, George Clooney, will probably beat him out for the award. The movie does not deal with the game per se but with the business behind the game, focusing on Oakland A’s manager Billy Beane as he attempted in 2002 to win the World Series despite having very little money to work with. At the same time, it has most of a baseball film’s tropes – a team that has little chance, a maverick at the center of the story, a shot of redemption and so on. It comes at everything from a different angle but very worthwhile.

The Natural. Okay, it’s pretentious, it’s overwrought in places, heavy on the symbolism, Robert Redford at the start of the film is too old to be playing a rookie phenom and maybe even the score is over the top. For me, it works. When Roy Cobb hits the light-shattering home run at the climax and the Randy Newman score comes to its symphonic heights, I get chills. I stumble on it on the tube, I watch it all the way through. Great cast, too.

Bull Durham. Great comedy, great romance, sexy as hell, and terrific performances. Focusing on a minor league team is a great idea – players on their way up, players on their way down, players who aren’t going to get any better than this. Human, humble, great baseball scenes, loopy as hell. Costner, whatever else you may think of him, is almost always good playing an athlete and especially a baseball player. He does another great job playing a baseball player in a supporting role in The Other Side Of Anger. This is my second fave baseball movie.

A League of Their Own. “There’s no crying in baseball!” Tom Hanks, that line, and that scene alone merits the film’s inclusion here. Incredible cast overall – Geena Davis, Hanks, David Strathairn (almost always a MVP no matter what movie he is in), Madonna, Rosie O’Donnell and Jon Lovitz in what may be the film role I most enjoy him in. Or enjoy him in at all.  The movie also covers a story I didn’t know about – a women’s professional baseball league in the 1940s while World War II was on. A little sentimental here and there, but first class. Makes you wonder why there isn’t a womens’ professional baseball league today. Maybe we haven’t come a long ways, baby.

The Comrades of Summer. I’d be surprised if most of you knew this one. It was a made for TV movie in 1992. Personal bias – it stars Joe Mantegna who I knew back in my theater days in Chicago. Great guy and a wonderful actor. In this movie, he plays Sparky Smith, a resentful and recently fired baseball manager in the States who gets hired by the Soviet Union that wants to field a team for the upcoming Olympics where baseball will be a competitive sport for the first time. He’s resentful, the players are largely untrained and well nigh hopeless and the odds are long. Classic baseball film material. Aside: there’s a Russian street hustler, Voronov, in the movie who contributed more than a little to my creation of Vilmahr Grahrk in some of my Star Wars stories for Dark Horse.

Field of Dreams. My favorite, hands down. I came at it sideways. When it was first released, I had no interest in it. Then I heard the soundtrack playing in a friend’s car. I didn’t klnow what it was and my friend identified it for me. James Horners’ score for this film is one of my top five favorite scores of all times. Beautiful and haunting. The film hit one of the rerun movies houses in Chicago (the old Three Penny Cinema of fond memory; it’s now a rock joint called Lincoln Hall) and I wanted to see how the music worked with whatever the film was about. So Kim and I went.

Knocked. Me. Out. It has the element of mysticism that The Natural strived for but not so heavy handed. It has James Earl Jones playing a J.D. Salinger type character (in the book by W.P. Kinsella – it was called Shoeless Joe – from which the film was adapted, the character is J.D. Salinger) and Burt Lancaster in a warm and wise small part. Once again, Kevin Costner is the main character, Joe Kinsella, which he handles with humor and heart.

The film is about baseball, yes, and James Earl Jones has a terrific speech towards the end about the importance of baseball and the dreams it has. It’s about redemption and long odds and, most importantly, fathers and sons. The ending is perfect. “Want to have a catch?” I think every father-son relationship is imperfect (yes, probably every father-daughter one, too) and I tear up every time when that final scene plays out. It ends in hope and beauty – just as every baseball season begins in hope and perhaps some beauty.

There’s a few more I’ll mention in passing – the TV version of Bleacher Bums (not the movie version), performed by the original Organic Theater cast including the aforementioned Joe Mantegna. This is the definition of what it means to be a Cub’s fan. “No one ever went broke betting against the Cubs after the Fourth of July.” Soul of the Game about the Negro Leagues just as Jackie Robinson was about to break the color line. Delroy Lindo, Mykelti Williamson (currently seen in this season’s Justified) and Blair Underwood as the young Jackie Robinson. Great stuff. Dennis Quaid in The Rookie. Sort of The Natural without all the mystical hoohah. And the musical Damn Yankees for Gwen Verdon, Ray Walston, and the song (You Gotta Have) Heart. That’s baseball right there.

I think what unites all these films is a sense of redemption and of hope.  You need hope to get through life, even if you know better, even if you know that, in the end, your heart will get broken. Again. That’s what you have at the start of spring training, that this might be the year. Miracles happen. The Cubs might do it. I like myself better when I hope.

As the fabled Cub Ernie Banks used to say, “Let’s play two!” Batter up!

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

REVIEW: J. Edgar

j-edgar-blu-ray-300x407-4286327J. Edgar Hoover has been demonized for his many excesses and lapses during his distinguished career as director of the Federal Bureau of Investigation. He seemingly turned a blind eye to organized crime after Prohibition ended, focusing instead on gaining information to use as leverage against political rivals and rooting out Communism long after it stopped being a domestic threat. What few appreciate is that he was the figure to move law enforcement from a collection of theories to a disciplined, trained force that embraced forensics and dogged detective work to build cases against their suspects.

Clint Eastwood took on an examination of this complex figure in J. Edgar, a deeply flawed film that was released in the fall and is out now on disc from Warner Home Video. The movie is constantly shifting from Hoover’s early days as a fed to the 1960s and the time frame jumps proved jarring as you needed a snippet of dialogue or visual clue to figure out if it was 1932, 1963 or 1968. The screenplay, from Dustin Lance Black, bookends the man’s career but we the audience are left wondering what happened between the election of Franklin Delano Roosevelt and the presidency of John F. Kennedy. Surely, Hoover and the FBI did something of note during this era but there’s not a single clue. (more…)

The Point Radio: SANDRA BULLOCK On 9-11 And New York

For weeks now EXTREMELY LOUD & INCREDIBLY CLOSE has ben generating buzz among movie goers as well as touching on the emotions of anyone who was involved with 911. Long time New Yorker, Sandra Bullock, chose to be in the picture for just that reason and shares it all here. Plus HUNGER GAMES is set to blast out the box office and how a little stack of old comics made some big money this week.

PROGRAM NOTE: We will be back on TUESDAY (2/28) next week instead of Monday. Be here as we begin our exclusive of the new NBC series, AWAKE.

The Point Radio is on the air right now – 24 hours a day of pop culture fun for FREE. GO HERE and LISTEN FREE on any computer or mobile device– and please check us out on Facebook right here & toss us a “like” or follow us on Twitter @ThePointRadio.

DENNIS O’NEIL Goes Haywire

Well, you know that I wasn’t going to allow Haywire to escape from my local monsterplex without giving it a look. A guy who’s written about Lady Shiva and Black Canary, not to mention a somewhat wimpified Wonder Woman who used martial arts in lieu of genuine superpowers – this guy was about to let pass a movie starring one Gina Carano who, in addition to being gorgeous, has real-life ass-kicker credentials, a film directed by one of the most interesting gents in movieland? No siree!

For reasons that I suspect are exempt from rationality, I have always responded to movie swashbucklers who can actually do the stuff they’re pretending to do – in the case of the excellent Jackie Chan, actually doing it for the camera. So, either in theaters or in my domicile, I’ve watched flicks starring Jackie, Bruce Lee, and, descending to the region of lesser lights, Cynthia Rockrock, Olivier Gruner, Jean Claude Van Damme, Don Wilson, Steven Seagal and maybe one or two I’ve forgotten.

Not everything featuring these performers was a cinematic masterpiece, but I watched and, dammit, I will continue to watch, at least as long as Blockbuster is willing to rent me discs.

The conflation of fiction and biography isn’t new – far from it. Davy Crockett and Wild Bill Hickok were featured in the pulpy dime novels of the 19th century in yarns that may have been…just a tad exaggerated, maybe. Hickok starred in a stage drama about a frontiersman who may have had more than a passing resemblance to Wild Bill himself before dying of a gunshot while playing poker, and Buffalo Bill Cody, animal hunter turned showman, had a vastly successful “wild west show” with cowboys and Indians and stage coaches and lots of horses. (Even a cow or two?)

Going way, way back – even Alexander the Great was pulpified in extravagant adventures written about someone with his name and general background who didn’t otherwise resemble the great conqueror. (My source doesn’t specify how these stories were disseminated: read aloud down at the agora while the hearties knocked back the fermented honey or whatever was in the barrel in far-past days of yore?)

So what’s the appeal of these mashups of fable and fact? I offer two possible reasons.

First reason: In the cases of Chan, Lee, et. al., it might be a twin to the pleasure we get from watching dance because dance is what a well-choreographed movie fight is. (And I do wish that Hollywood folk would become aware of this.) The human body doing the extraordinary – the reason we watch the Olympics and a lot of televised sports.

And the second reason: we need heroes and maybe knowing that there’s something authentic in screen portrayals helps, just a tiny bit, in our willing suspension of disbelief.

Haywire? Oh yeah, Haywire, with Gina Carano. Did I mention that it was directed by the protean Steven Soderbergh and that I thought it was pretty good?

FRIDAY: Martha Thomases


MICHAEL DAVIS: Shit And The Comic Book Industry

Please take a moment to look at the graphic that accompanies this article. Chances are you seen it before on the net or right here on ComicMix when Glenn posted it a few days ago.


I’ll admit it’s clever as shit. It’s interesting as shit. It’s thought provoking as shit.

I came across this on Facebook and I must admit I was mad as shit when I read it. I was even madder when I saw it was a marketing ploy. Don’t get me wrong. It’s a great marketing ploy and I freely admit that shit.

I went to the website and the Facebook page of the person who put it up. After reading some of the stuff on the Facebook page I was disappointed that I was so upset. Why? Because this is the sort of person I should like. We share a great many thing with regards to politics and he seems like a great guy.


But I know a wee bit about the comic book industry and I know a wee bit more about building franchises and a wee bit more about mentoring talent.

I also know you do not do any of that shit with fear.

In any and I mean any part of the entertainment business you will find incredible success and dismal failure. That’s not the industry’s fault.  The industry was not set up for you to be either an incredible success or a dismal failure.

That shit is on you.

Are there barriers to entry?

Yes. Tell me, what profession does not have barriers to entry? There are barriers to entry for everything.

That’s what school is for. That’s what working on your craft is for. That’s what life experience is for. That’s what you go to comic conventions for.

If you want to work in comics, you go to comic book conventions to learn the industry not to hang out with your 20 friends in one hotel room with the sole intention of going to the Twilight panel to kiss the ass of the movie company so they will give you a glimpse of that bullshit movie which is the same movie as the previous 15 but “this time it’s personal.”

Yeah, I called the Twilight movies bullshit. That’s my opinion.

The Twilight franchise?


I don’t have to love a thing to respect a thing and I respect the shit out of the Twilight franchise. When it comes to how they run that shit I’m Team Edward all the way.

Instead of going to a portfolio review or a small press panel the young creators who will fall for that “call me” ploy from the comic industry poster spend their time trying to catch a glimpse of Jim Lee at the DC Comics panel. Jim is not there to talk to you about getting into DC he’s there to sell you the books you are already buying.

So, how does any of the above help your career?

It doesn’t.

The graphic depicts the comic book industry as an industry of people who will try and stab you in the back. Really? You think Jim Lee wants to stab you in the back so he can steal your idea? That great idea that you drew with a ballpoint pen, inked with a magic marker, colored with Photoshop 0.1 in tones of nothing but blue?


You know why Jim Lee does not want your great idea, which all your family and friends have convinced you will be bigger than Superman?

I’ll tell you why, because if you have been reading comics and using that as your only education and attending Twilight like and not career oriented panels at comics conventions then most likely your idea is shit.

Why would all your family and friends tell you had created the greatest thing since Star Wars? I’ll tell you why; your family and friends love you. They are bias as shit.

Think of what you say to that fat ass 300-pound girlfriend when she’s asking you if she looks fat in that dress.

Fat 300-pound girlfriend: Do I look fat in this dress?

You: No.

You lie. You lie because you want to tap some of that fat ass. Guess what? She knows you are lying. She’s 300 pounds, dude. She would look fat in stranded in the middle of the ocean.

Your family and friends are your family and friends; they are supposed to lie to you.  Your family and friends they don’t know shit about what makes a concept a good idea.

Secondly, your “bigger than Superman” concept was drawn with a ball point pen, inked with a magic marker, colored with Photoshop 0.1 in tones of nothing but blue and your can’t spell so your lettering sucks also.

Is the comic book industry fair?


Does some projects that suck get published?


Is there an “old boy” network at many publishers?


Are there people who don’t want you to succeed?


Welcome to Earth, motherfucker. Or more specifically, welcome to the real world of grown-up business.

In every single business on the planet there are unfair policies, projects that suck that get green lit, cliques of people who won’t let you in and people who do not want you to succeed.

Fuck that shit and fuck them.

Learn the game before you hook up with somebody who claims he can help you with your “franchise.”


Give me a fucking break. Learn to write, learn to draw. Ask Jim Lee for advice not an autograph. Stand in line to hear Marv Wolfman or Harlan Ellison talk about writing. Stop standing in line to see clips from a movie you are going to see anyway.

Comic creators like giving advice. You will be surprised to see how much you can learn from an conversation about that creators craft.  Set realistic goals for yourself. Seek criticism from people that know what they are talking about.

Here’s a hint. Make appointments with people you would like to talk to. All they can say is “no” but would not a “yes” make your day and help you?

Take classes, go to school make an effort to learn the industry.

Yes, think about your own Franchise!

Yes, build, your own Franchise!

But before you call someone to help you do something that they have not done, do the work that’s needed to achieve your goal. Yours – not someone else’s.

When you do all of that and more, when you have gotten to a place of excellence in your craft and still don’t succeed, try again and again and then again.

Frankly, if you are that good you won’t have to keep trying because you will succeed.

Anything less, anything quick, anything that does not involve the kind of commitment to your the craft is just bullshit.

WEDNESDAY: Mike Gold Gets Sentimental


This has been a week to experience anguish, not least of it over the upcoming movie based on Marvel’s Ghost Rider character. As you know if you read this site (for example, here and here), Marvel (or its corporate overlords) is behaving dickishly towards Gary Friedrich, one of the character’s creators.

Now, I’m not a fan of Ghost Rider. To the best of my memory, I’ve never read the comic. I haven’t seen the first movie, not even when I’m just mindlessly staring at the television. I’m not a big Nicolas Cage fan (although, when I’m mindlessly staring at the television, I’ll always watch Con Air, which is amazing if only for the sympathetic psychopath child molester played by Steve Buscemi).

But I really really really want to see Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance. I adore the work of directors Mark Neveldine and Brian Taylor. Crank: High Voltage is the reason that the phrase “motion picture” was invented. If you haven’t seen it, really, run right out. Don’t just take my word for it.

They even took the terrible script that was Jonah Hex and made it boogie along. It helped that they had Will Arnett. I think all comic book movies should have Will Arnett, especially the ones that don’t have Samuel L. Jackson.

Should I deny myself the potential joy of a Neveldine/Taylor film for Gary Friedrich? I don’t think I know him. Who is he to me, or I to him? Why should I care what happens?

Well, it turns out, I should care, and you should, too. My life is greatly enhanced by the existence of creative people. Even creative people who sign crappy work-for-hire contracts because they are so short-sighted, they consider that feeding their families and keeping a roof over their heads was more important than their artistic integrity.

Been there. Done that. And if, by some miracle, my work gets optioned, I would much prefer sharing in the glory (and, maybe, the profits) to getting sued.

So, in the interest of karma, I will do my best to create the world I want to live in. Maybe I’ll go to the movie this weekend, maybe not. But I’ve already tried to do right by writers and artists everywhere by showing some appreciation here. If you’ve enjoyed my work, or Gary’s work, or anyone’s fiction, stop by and give what you can afford.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman Offers His 12 Cents


REVIEW: “Justice League: Doom”

justice-league-doom1-300x402-7902089If you’ve been a fan of Warner Bros.’ direct-to-DVD DC Universe movies, you are no doubt eagerly awaiting the February 28th release of Justice League: Doom. ComicMix’s own Glenn Hauman and Mike Gold attended a press screening of the movie, along with the mandatory press conferences and post-game roundtable discussion. We decided to take a conversational approach to our preview – not quite a review, as we’re avoiding spoilers. Still, if you’re extraordinarily anal retentive (the fanboy/fangirl affliction), you might want to just look at the pictures.

Glenn: The story, and the universe, felt familiar – not just because we’ve known these characters forever, but because it was Dwayne McDuffie’s take on them, his POV from Justice League and from Justice League Unlimited. One of those “you don’t realize how much you miss it until it’s gone” things.

Mike: DC’s animated universe came about organically, from the original Fox Batman Adventures through Doom… with major exceptions like that Teen Titans and that unnecessary and initially unwatchable The Batman series a couple years ago. Dwayne played a major part in that Justice League animated universe to be sure, but those Batman and Superman series created the foundation of this universe, as well as the bouncing off point for many of the actors.

Glenn: Speaking of the DC animated universe: one thing that was weird for me, throwing a new bit of unexpected unfamiliarity, was meeting Kevin Conroy, the voice of Batman for two decades, because he just doesn’t quite look the part in real life – he looks more like the Scarecrow. I found myself mentally covering up his face from his nose up, superimposing a cowl on him. Or am I just that weird?

Mike: Yeah, Conroy is pretty skinny and he’s got a great face. But I think he’d be perfect as Jason Blood or Orion of the New Gods.

Glenn: Conroy as Jason Blood, live action? Oh, that works really well.