Tagged: Sam Raimi

Marc Alan Fishman: A WONDERful Problem To Debate

Marc Alan Fishman: A WONDERful Problem To Debate

Don’t you love when a spoiler leaks to we, the misbegotten nerds, and suddenly the Internet is on fire? I sure do. And nothing has gotten our ragespew a flowin’ in recent memory like the potential spoiler (ahem… alert.) that Wonder Woman would be a descendant of the Kryptonian colonists of yesteryear in the Man of Steel movieverse. Funny enough, it didn’t phase me in the least. Whereas some of my close personal friends let loose a brilliantly recorded tirade railing against the very notion of it, I simply concluded that it made sense to me. Rao be damned!

So, Internet, why all the anger? Well, the knee-jerk reaction is to simply say the pitch is not in line with the true origins of the character in the source material. It’d be rude of me to then say completely straight-faced “Oh my gawd, you’re absolutely right! In fact, I concur that the only way to enjoy a character’s portrayal in a different medium is to ensure that his or her origin matches perfectly detail-for-detail their previously published debut!” Then you’d roll your eyes, and call me an ass.

Well, go on, call me an ass. Because you know what? I give a flying invisible jet’s patootie if Wonder Woman descends from ancient Kryptonians. Or that Superman killed Zod. Or that Batman will not be Bruce Wayne, but Dick Grayson.

Ha! Got you there for a sec, didn’t I? The simple fact is as a fan of Superman, Batman, and Wonder Woman, what I care most about isn’t their backstory but how they are portrayed in the present of the film.

I understand the fear and outrage. We proud geeks – covetous keepers of our continuity – despise the idea that movies or TV shows depicting our wares must be muted, diluted, or otherwise repackaged to appease the lowest common denominator. But when it’s done with conviction, quality, and common sense, we tend not to get our underwear so wedged up our own asses.

Remember how much we all loved Tim Burton’s Batman? OK, remember how many of us loved it? Well, I don’t recall the masses going insane-in-the-bat-brain over the revelation that the Joker was one Jack Napier. And while I recall plenty of nit-picky problems over Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man, nary a word of anger seemed to spewed over the organic webshooter after the film came out. Same could be said of the blackcasting of Michael Clark Duncan as the Kingpin, Samuel L. Jackson as Nick Fury, or Idris Elba as Heimdall. Funny how that is, isn’t it?

And where is the utter outrage at the animated DCU? Or Marvel’s Hulk Agents of S.M.A.S.H? And what are we going to do with all the yutzes who like Arrow?! I mean, last time I checked, Oliver Queen had a god-damned goatee. Interesting enough, all I hear is good things about the show. Even the notion that a Flash spin-off might occur has seemingly traveled the Interwebs without igniting civil war. And this week when someone dropped that Donal Logue might play Harvey Bullock in a pilot revolving around a police procedural Gotham show? Somehow, we all woke up the next morning perhaps uttering that scariest of phrases… “I’ll see it when it comes out, and make up my mind then.

And therein lies my point. It’s not a factor of fear that Warner Brothers chooses to reimagine Batman in Christopher Nolan’s trilogy, or change gears with Superman twice within a 10 year period. It’s all a matter of business. The same could be said with Disney/Marvel. Consider cold and calculated business that allows characters like Gravitron and Blizzard to be reimagined on Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. in order to better suit the long-terms plans of their movies and television series. As I’ve come to find here in my waning youth, the all-mighty dollar drives all that we love in the world of content creation. While true passion for characters and story may drive we the few and proud creators… without the financial backing of crazy-mad corporations, what we build may exist only on our hard drives, our sketchbooks, and our minds.

If Wonder Woman in the polarizing Man of Steel DC movieverse ends up with a strain of Krypton flowing in her meaty non-clay veins… so be it. I’ll care far more that she is portrayed as regal, strong, and self-assured. If Themyscira’s statues tribute Rao over Zeus, big whoop-dee-doo. So long as it’s filled with overly tall, buxom, man-hating women (you know, who are all like… empowered and crap) then my prayers shall be answered. Or better yet? If the character, her background, and her portrayal all lend to the forward momentum of actually realizing a cross-picture universe for DC… then we’ll soon be living in a golden age. With powerful franchises from both the big two comic book publishers in place, those evil unwashed masses who dilute our precious universes may end up loving the same characters we love.

And when they do? They might just take that bold leap to a comic shop to see what they’ve been missing all along.

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

MONDAY: Mindy Newell

TUESDAY MORNING: Jen Krueger

 

 

The Darkman Finally Comes to Blu-ray in February

DarkmanCrime has a new enemy, and justice has a brand new face.  Fans of visionary director Sam Raimi (The Spider-Man trilogy) know well the story of Dr. Peyton Westlake and his tragic transformation into the action hero known as Darkman.  Based on Raimi’s short story “The Darkman,” the popular crime-fighting master of disguises comes to life in the 1990 film adaptation DARKMAN, starring three-time Golden Globe® nominee Liam Neeson (Taken) and Oscar® winner Frances McDormand (Fargo). Directed by Sam Raimi, this explosive, action-packed thriller also stars Colin Friels (Dark City), Larry Drake (Dr. Giggles), Dan Hicks (Evil Dead 2) and Nicholas Worth (Swamp Thing) and features soundtrack by award-wining composer Danny Elfman. On February 18, 2014, SCREAM FACTORY™ will release DARKMAN COLLECTOR’S EDITION Blu-ray, featuring all-new interviews with Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand, Larry Drake, Danny Hicks, make-up effects artist Tony Gardner, production designer Randy Ser, art director Philip Dagort and much more! This definitive collector’s edition also contains a collectible cover featuring newly rendered retro-style artwork, a reversible cover wrap with original theatrical key art. A must-have for loyal fans, movie collectors and pop culture and comic book enthusiasts to complete their entertainment library, DARKMAN COLLECTOR’S EDITION Blu-ray is priced to own at $29.93 SRP.

Avid fans and collectors please take note: those who order DARKMAN COLLECTOR’S EDITION Blu-ray from ScreamfactoryDVD.com will receive the exclusive 18”x24” poster featuring the newly commissioned artwork!  These are only available while supplies last.

In the darkest hour, there’s a light that shines on every human being, but one….

Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand star in this explosive, action-packed thriller from director Sam Raimi. Dr. Peyton Westlake (Neeson) is on the verge of realizing a major breakthrough in synthetic skin when his laboratory is destroyed by gangsters. Having been burned beyond recognition and forever altered by an experimental medical procedure, Westlake becomes known as Darkman, assuming alternate identities in his quest for revenge and a new life with a former love (McDormand).

UNIVERSAL PICTURES presents LIAM NEESON  FRANCES McDORMAND “DARKMAN” COLIN FRIELS  LARRY DRAKE

Music by DANNY ELFMAN Make-up Effects by TONY GARDNER and LARRY HAMLIN Production Designer RANDY SER

Director of Photography BILL POPE Line Producer DARYL KASS  Story by SAM RAIMI

Screenplay by CHUCK PFARRER and SAM RAIMI & IVAN RAIMI and DAN GOLDIN & JOSHUA GOLDIN

Produced by ROBERT TAPERT  Directed by SAM RAIMI

Special Features:

  • Interviews with Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand
  • MY NAME IS DURANT – interview with Larry Drake
  • THE FACE OF REVENGE – interview with Makeup Designer Tony Gardner
  • HENCHMAN TALES – Interviews with actors Danny Hicks and Dan Bell
  • DARK DESIGN – interview with Production Designer Randy Ser and Art Director Philip Dagort
  • Audio Commentary with director of photography Bill Pope
  • Vintage “Making of” and interview Featurettes featuring interviews with Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson, Frances McDormand and more…
  • Vintage full-length interviews, not used in the featurettes, with Sam Raimi, Liam Neeson and Frances McDormand
  • Theatrical Trailer
  • TV Spots
  • Still Galleries – Posters & production stills, Behind the Scenes, Make-up Effects and Storyboards

1080p High-Definition Widescreen (2.35:1)/ DTS Master Audio 5.1/1990/Color/96 minutes/Subtitles: English/Special Features are Not Rated.

Look at the Oz Opening Sequence

Look at the Oz Opening Sequence

Going into the weekend, Oz the Great & Powerful has raked in $155,528,133 domestically, and an additional $136,800,000 worldwide, so it’s a certified success, despite the $300 million it took to make and market.

Walt Disney Studios has released the Opening Sequence to the Sam Raimi-helmed film and it’s worth a look if you have yet to see it in the theater.

Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great & Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.

When small-time magician Oscar Diggs (James Franco) pulls one flimflam too many, he finds himself hurled into the fantastical Land of Oz where he must somehow transform himself into the great wizard—and just maybe into a better man as well.

A New Clip from Oz the Great and Powerful

A New Clip from Oz the Great and Powerful

We’re less than a month away from the release of Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful, coming from Disney on March 8. Can James Franco make us forget Frank Morgan’s indelible performance as the Wizard in 1939’s classic MGM musical version of L. Frank Baum’s immortal novel? No one is sure yet but the trailers look cool and here’s a just-released clip for you to sample.

Disney’s fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful, directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.

Oz The Great and Powerful is produced by Joe Roth, with screen story by Mitchell Kapner and screenplay by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Grant Curtis, Palak Patel, Josh Donen and Philip Steuer are serving as executive producers. “Oz The Great and Powerful” opens in U.S. theaters on March 8, 2013.

Disney Teases Two Films

EVANORA_DARK_GENERICWalt Disney announced today that the hotly rumored 1952 project is officially titled Tomorrowland. Written by Damon Lindelof and Brad Bird from a concept by Lindelof and Jeff Jensen. Lindelof (Star Trek, LostPrometheus) will produce and Bird (The IncrediblesMission: Impossible – Ghost Protocol) will produce and direct. Jensen, a longtime contirbutor to Entertainment Weekly and one-time Teen Titans writer, is making the jump to the big leagues with this one. George Clooney is signed to star in the film which is scheduled for released December 19, 2014.

Coming out far sooner is Sam Raimi’s Oz the Great and Powerful. The studio released this teaser for the Super Bowl ad set to air on Sunday. Apparently, once the spot airs, the Disney website will be taken over by one of the witches. Willit be a good witch or a bad witch remains to be seen.

DARK_GLINDA_GENERICDisney’s fantastical adventure “Oz The Great and Powerful,” directed by Sam Raimi, imagines the origins of L. Frank Baum’s beloved wizard character. When Oscar Diggs (James Franco), a small-time circus magician with dubious ethics, is hurled away from dusty Kansas to the vibrant Land of Oz, he thinks he’s hit the jackpot—fame and fortune are his for the taking—that is until he meets three witches, Theodora (Mila Kunis), Evanora (Rachel Weisz) and Glinda (Michelle Williams), who are not convinced he is the great wizard everyone’s been expecting. Reluctantly drawn into the epic problems facing the Land of Oz and its inhabitants, Oscar must find out who is good and who is evil before it is too late. Putting his magical arts to use through illusion, ingenuity—and even a bit of wizardry—Oscar transforms himself not only into the great wizard but into a better man as well.

Oz The Great and Powerful is produced by Joe Roth, with screen story by Mitchell Kapner and screenplay by Mitchell Kapner and David Lindsay-Abaire. Grant Curtis, Palak Patel, Josh Donen and Philip Steuer are serving as executive producers. Oz The Great and Powerful opens in U.S. theaters on March 8, 2013.

MARC ALAN FISHMAN: Fantastic Flop – How I’d Reboot Marvel’s First Family

So I found myself with a bit of time to kill while my wife and mother-in-law went out and about for lunch. My week-old son and I decided it was time to enjoy a bit of cable TV goodness. A quick surf left with me few options. Food Network was showing yet-another cupcake show… USA was playing that episode of Everybody Loves Raymond where his wife is a shrew and his mother annoys him, and TBS was on Tyler Perry’s Black People Watch Everything I Put Out, Not That It’s Good. And FX? Callooh-Callay! They had on the Fantastic Four movie from a few years back. Given that I was still sporting half a nerd-boner for the Super Bowl Avengers spot, and the recent web-release of The Amazing Spider-Man trailer, FF seemed like the perfect way to wet my whistle for a bit of comic goodness.

Granted, I’ve seen the movie a few times. Saw it opening weekend, and didn’t hate it. Didn’t love it either, but somehow, it was one of those guilty “Hey, if it’s on, it’s really not that bad is it?” pleasures. A few hours later, my favorite ladies returned to a house with both their boys rife with a case of the cranky pants. I’m pretty sure my son Bennett had pooped himself. I didn’t have a mess in my trousers, but I had a tear in my eye. Seems I crossed that threshold where the movie stopped being “worth” the free cable viewing, and slid right into “Good lord, people paid money for this crap?” zone.

I could spend the remainder of this column dissecting how putrid the FF movie ended up being. But it’s old-hat, right? So, why not make this a turn for the positive. I’d like to outline four things Marvel can do to reboot the familial franchise into something… dare I say… more fantastic.

1. Explore the emotional origins as well as the basic plot points. We all know the bullet points by now, don’t we? On an outer space adventure… they got hit by cosmic rays. And that moment changed forever… in the most fantastic ways. No need to fear, their here… just call the four! Sorry, it was a damn catchy theme song. Suffice to say, the rocket ride with Kirby dots isn’t ALL that the origin of the FF is. You have romance between Sue and Reed. You have Ben, the stalwart pilot. Johnny, the joker, and comic relief. While these points were hit on in the last iteration, we miss the history. Use flashbacks (ala Batman Begins) to enhance our emotional ties to the characters. It’s not a race to the whiz-bang-special effects, when you have solid characterization. And each of the Four present a solid opportunity for fun beats.

2. Ditch the “We’re learning to use our powers until it matters at the end” montage. Face it. What killed Green Lantern (OK, one of the things that killed it…) was the age-old power development plot line. A solid 45 minutes of the last FF movie spent time building the revolvers it would later shoot at the movie’s climax. It’s just not needed. When you cross over into the sci-fi, plausibility takes a backseat to adventure. If we took time to dissect the fact that Luke Skywalker was able to get a shot into a teeny hole on a battle station that decimated nearly all of his backup (who were all far more experienced fighter pilots)… we’d go mad. Once you accept that “Comic Rays” can turn one man into a walking pilot light, and another into silly putty, you don’t need to spend an hour back-peddling to make us “believe” they’ll know what to do when it’s clobbering time.

3. The big villain? Mole Man. Follow me down the rabbit hole if you will. Batman Begins took a venerable B-Lister in Ra’s Al Ghul as its first antagonist. It was a smart choice. As Nolan said in countless interviews, the villain suits the arc the hero takes across the movie. In Spider-Man 2 (easily the best of Raimi’s Marvel contributions), we got a brilliant update on a pretty mort-worthy villain. And because Peter was learning to have balance in his life during the course of the movie, Doc Oc was a perfect foil. The Fantastic Four have a pretty decent rogues gallery. It’s easy to want to jump immediately to Doom or Galactus. But the first in a franchise needn’t aim so high. In both cases, those villains would outshine the stars of the film. First and foremost, it’s the FF that people should be ooohing and aaahing over. With Mole Man you have an obvious foe who will test the Four and their ability to become this odd family unit of world-savers. The villain fits the arc, as it were. Plus, it gives us a chance to recreate that iconic first issue cover on the big screen. And you know that’d be the bee’s knees.

4. Casting. Most every comic book film lands an amazing cast… even if they don’t get utilized properly. I didn’t hate anyone in the last FF iteration per say, but let’s be honest – Ioan Gruffudd looked OK but lacked the cockiness-by-way-of-supreme-intelligence. Jessica Alba was there for eye-candy only. Chris Evans stole the show, Michael Chiklis looked the part, but had no Yancy Street swagger. Ole’ Blue Eyes needs have a definitive balance between boisterous banter and tragic pathos. Some of this could easily be the scripting, but let’s say I was a casting agent? I’d cast accordingly: Jon Hamm as Mr. Fantastic. Uma Thurman as Sue Storm. Breaking Bad’s Aaron Paul as Johnny Storm. And Brendan Fraser as Ben Grimm. Hamm can pull off “the smartest man in the room, with ease. Thurman is equally weighted when on screen (and can pull off shorter hair, and heroic). Paul can sling insults, and certainly could look the part… And Fraser, who I know most would say is a stretch, is built big, can pull off a New York accent, and has more potential than most nerds give him credit for. And as my Mole Man? Paul Giamatti. He’s damn good in everything.

So there you have it. I know a new FF movie is already in the works… here’s hoping someone over at Marvel is trolling my articles, and a few of my hopes and dreams gets swept into the pre-production fracas. What do you think? Voice your opinion below, true believers!

SUNDAY: John Ostrander

Some Additional Convention Thoughts

Some Additional Convention Thoughts

Spider-Man and Superman

Image by heath_bar via Flickr

Sometime in the late 1970s, there was a show in New York where DC Comics actually had a booth and I got to wander over as a fan and chat casually with president Sol Harrison. It was the earliest memory I had of a publishing taking booth space on the convention floor. Before then, the tables were given over to fanzine vendors, back issue and new release dealers and that was about it. Little in the way or merchandise and even less original art was being sold.

Fans and creators could mix in the aisles, chat in the lobby, and talk before and after panels. It was a far smaller, more collegial atmosphere and certainly formed relationships with people I still have today.

By the time I joined staff at DC in 1984, the major publishers had been taking booth space with increasing regularity at shows from coast to coast. These were standard trade show booth designs that were decorated with the company’s wares, maybe a TV monitor with a video tape playing but that was about it. Editors and creators sat at tables and signed comics, did sketches, and handed out sampler comics or buttons.

During the 1980s, things continued to grow and more customized booth set-ups were showing up but fans could still walk into a publisher’s booth and talk to editors and talent. That began to change in 1992-1993 when Image arrived with show biz razzle dazzle and DC, flush with Death of Superman profits, gave us a mammoth booth dubbed Wayne’s World, nicknamed after Bob Wayne. Since nature abhors a vacuum, this new space filled with a growing number of fans, but patient ones could still talk to staff and freelancers.

(more…)

Who Knows What Evil Lurks? Dynamite Knows As It Picks Up “The Shadow”

Dynamite Entertainment has signed a comprehensive licensing agreement with Conde Nast for comic books based on The Shadow. Arguably the most famous pulp hero of the 20th century and an inspiration for Batman among many others, The Shadow has been featured in comic books, comic strips, television, video games, and at least five motion pictures.

“We are pleased and excited to entrust The Shadow to the capable, creative hands of Dynamite Entertainment,” said Jerry Birenz, licensing attorney for Conde Nast.  “We look forward to a continuation of the long tradition of The Shadow in comic books, and the enjoying of the new adventures and experiences Dynamite Entertainment will bring us.”

Introduced as a mysterious radio narrator by David Chrisman, William Sweets, and Harry Engman Charlot for Street and Smith Publications, The Shadow was fully developed and transformed into a pop culture icon by pulp writer Walter B. Gibson.

The Shadow debuted on July 31, 1930, as the mysterious narrator of the Street and Smith radio program Detective Story Hour.  After gaining popularity among the show’s listeners, the narrator became the star of The Shadow Magazine on April 1, 1931, a pulp series created and primarily written by the prolific Gibson.

“Pursuing The Shadow has been a life time quest,” says Dynamite Entertainment President and Publisher Nick Barrucci.  “Dynamite is working to launch the Shadow with some of the comic industries leading talent including John Cassaday, Alex Ross, Ryan Sook and Jae Lee, with more to be announced – creators who will bring justice to The Shadow.”

Just as with Dynamite’s pick up of The Green Hornet, this could also signal movement on a new Shadow movie. The Shadow was last seen on screen in 1994 in a film starring Alec Baldwin, Penelope Ann Miller, John Lone, Ian McKellen, and Tim Curry. In years past, Sam Raimi has also expressed interest in doing a Shadow movie.

Sam Raimi Begins his Journey to Oz

Pontiac, MI., July 25, 2011—Walt Disney Pictures’ fantastical adventure Oz The Great and Powerful,  directed by Sam Raimi, went in front of the cameras at the brand-new Raleigh Studios in Pontiac, Michigan, on Monday, July 25, 2011, boasting a stellar cast that includes Academy Award® nominee James Franco (127 Hours) as the young wizard, Golden Globe® nominee Mila Kunis (Black Swan) as the witch Theodora, Academy Award® winner Rachel Weisz (The Constant Gardener) as Kunis’ sister Evanora and two-time Oscar®-nominated actress Michelle Williams (Brokeback Mountain, Blue Valentine) as Glinda, the Good Witch.

The cast also includes Emmy® and Golden Globe® nominee Zach Braff (Scrubs, Garden State), who will play Franco’s circus assistant as well as lend his vocal talents to one of the CGI creatures in the story — Finley, the winged monkey who accompanies the magician on his journey to Oz; and 12-year-old actress Joey King (Ramona and Beezus), who will voice another CGI character in the story, China Girl, who also joins the future Wizard on his excursion through Oz. (more…)

Hollywood wrapup — Iron Man, Spider-Man, Scott Pilgrim, Cowboy Bebop

Hollywood wrapup — Iron Man, Spider-Man, Scott Pilgrim, Cowboy Bebop

A pile of Hollywood related comic items I didn’t get to this week, so let me get them out of the way:

* Emily Blunt in Iron Man 2?

* Keanu Reeves will be starring in a live-action version of Cowboy Bebop. It’s just been confirmed as going into production for Fox.

* The cast of Scott Pilgrim Vs. The World expands.

* Sam Raimi wants Morbius for Spider-Man 4? By the time it comes out in 2011, everyone will think he’s ripping off Twilight.

* And finally, a cast photo for Wolverine: