Tagged: Universal

REVIEW: Tommysaurus Rex

Tommysaurus Rex
By Doug TenNapel
Scholastic Graphix, 136 pages, $10.99

Tommysaurus RexThe concept of a boy and his canine best friend is nothing new at all and has provided us with countless heartwarming stories through the years. That the dog dies and is resurrected as a tyrannosaurus rex is a fresh spin on the story; one so fresh that in 2004 Universal bid $1million to preemptively option the property. I have no idea what happened with that, but it was based on an earlier version of Tommysaurus Rex, which Doug TenNapel released as a miniseries through Image in 2004 and then a collection in 2008. This month, though, a revised, expanded and apparently recolored version of the story is being released from Scholastic’s Graphix imprint.

Ely is shy, without a lot of friends, except for Tommy, the golden retriever who is his companion, friend, playmate and security blanket. Overenthusiastic in all ways, he pulls free from his leash one day and is hit by a car and dies. A distraught Ely is brought to Granpa’s nearby farm and in addition to learning about agriculture, he locates a nearby cave where, tucked behind some rocks, is a living T-Rex.

The dino-phenomena proves as loving and eager as a puppy and quickly Ely realizes its Tommy reincarnated. How Ely and Tommy win over a fearful and skeptical community forms the core of the story. Of course, there’s also antagonism in the form of Randy, lead bully but rather than be pure evil, we learn what causes him to act in such a terrible way.

Of the TenNapel works I’ve read and reviewed here – Ghostopolis, Bad Island, and Cardboard – this has the most heart and soul. It’s also his earliest work so the art style and storytelling is simpler. Everything is clear and the color adds a nice dimension with solid pacing, mixing pathos, drama, and humor. I’ve been usually critical of TenNapel’s story logic lapses and this has few of those although the fact that a dinosaur is wandering the world seems to attract minimal media attention and zero attention from scientists or the federal government. It doesn’t hurt that the Mayor, up for reelection and seeing the creature’s popularity, acts as a buffer.

Pare away the bullies and gawkers and this boils down to a boy loves dog story that can warm the heart and entertain. It’s an ideal volume for third through eighth graders and is well worth a look.

REVIEW: Frankenweenie

Frankenweenie-Cover-02Most of ComicMix’s readers know that Tim Burton made his live action Frankenweenie short (starring Barret Oliver, Shelley Duvall, and Daniel Stern) while at Disney and was too quirky for the Mouse House so left to carve out a career of his own. The short was visually stylish, creepy, and filled with affection for the horror films of his youth. Since then, he has created his own brand of horror (Edward Sciossorhands, Legend of Sleepy Hollow) and has reinterpreted classic works (Batman, Alice in Wonderland, Dark Shadows, Planet of the Apes) with varying success.

Last fall he finally released a feature-length version of Frankenweenie and while it underperformed at the box office, it is a creatively satisfying effort, and a great family feature. This can now run with The Nightmare Before Christmas as annual Halloween viewing for which I am grateful.

As with most great tales, this is a love story. In this case, it’s about a boy, Victor (Charlie Tahan), and his dog Sparky. When the beloved pet dies in a car accident, Victor uses his scientific genius to bring Sparky back to life. While some see this as a noble thing, Victor’s parents, Mr. and Mrs. Frankenstein (Martin Short, Catherine O’Hara), worry that their son is overly involved with the dog and lacks human friends.

A boy and his dog is classic and Sparky is your typical dog, although he now has trouble keeping all his parts intact, notably his tail.

When the local boys hear about the successful experiment, things begin to go off the rails. Victor may have Sparky back but things have certainly not gone as planned and that’s where the film’s charm and humor shines through in a well-plotted expansion of the original tale. That said, things do drag the further we move on, as if Burton said all he had to say and needed to stretch to get to a proper running time, 87 minutes, for a feature.

Burton stayed true to his vision, retaining the black and white, evoking the great Universal horror films of the past. And like them, this is filled with winning supporting character — Mr. Rzykruski (Martin Landau), Edgar (Atticus Shaffer) —  enlivening the overall story.

The film is being released by Walt Disney this week in multiple formats including the four-disc combo pack — 3-D, 2-D, DVD, digital — and the Blu-ray comes packed with fun extras starting with  “Captain Sparky vs. The Flying Saucers” (2:30) — a new short with Victor and Sparky watching the title home movie; “Miniatures In Motion: Bringing Frankenweenie To Life” (23:00) minutes), your typical behind-the-scenes featurette;  Frankenweenie Touring Exhibit (4:30) 1/2 minutes); the original Frankenweenie short film (30:00); “Pet Sematary”, a music video from Plain White T’s. The first few featurettes are eye-opening in the effort that goes into making these stop-motion films. Burton, executive producer Don Hahn, producer Allison Abbate, and animation director Trey Thomas exhaustively cover the production, shot at the London-based Three Mills Studio.

This is the most entertaining video release of the week and comes highly recommended.

Universal Picking Up Charlize Theron Sci-Fi Project ‘Agent 13’

Universal Picking Up Charlize Theron Sci-Fi Project ‘Agent 13’

The Hollywood Reporter reports that “Rise of the Planet of the Apes'” director, Rupert Wyatt is attached to the Charlize Theron Sci-Fi Project ‘Agent 13’.

Universal is finalizing a deal to pick up Agent 13, a sci-fi project that sees Charlize Theron attached to star and Rise of the Planet of the Apes director Rupert Wyatt attached to direct.

T.S. Nowlin  is the writer behind the pitch, which is based on a little known comic book from 1988. It was created by G.I. Joe and Transformers cartoon writer Flint Dille and David Marconi, who went on to pen the Will Smith thriller Enemy of the State as well as Live Free or Die Hard. 

The comic had post-modern pulp overtones, replete with femme fatales and explosive cliffhangers. The main character is male and despite Theron’s involvement, will remain that way. (The actress is attached to play another part.)

Sean Daniels, one of those behind Universal’s Mummy franchise, discovered the comic and has been developing since at least last year, is one of the producers along with Jason Brown. Theron is also producing via her Denver and Delilah banner as is Union Entertainment.

For more information on Agent 13, check out All Pulp’s interview with Flint Dille and David Marconi from December 2010 at http://allpulp.blogspot.com/2010/12/all-pulps-flint-dille-and-david-marconi.html

To Kill a Mockingbird

Few 20th century novels have been as warmly regarded as Harper Lee’s To Kill a Mockingbird. Currently a perennial work taught in high schools around the nation, it was an acclaimed, award-winning work when released in 1961 as the southern author tried to recapture her childhood life in a small Southern town. I enjoyed the book as a student, then a parent, and now that I’m studying to become a teacher, recognize it as a great piece of literature and great teaching tool.

She wrote in 1964, “I would like to leave some record of the kind of life that existed in a very small world. I hope…to chronicle something that seems to be very quickly going down the drain. This is small-town middle-class southern life as opposed to Gothic, as opposed to Tobacco Road, as opposed to plantation life.”

It was a story of rights and responsibilities, tolerance, fear of the unknown, race relations and many other issues. When first released, it kicked up quite a bit of dust, especially from people who felt maligned by her glaring spotlight on the small town and its small-minded people. But most everyone else embraced it. (more…)

“Cowboys & Aliens” Studios Sued For Copyright Infringement

Scott Rosenberg involved in legal problems and accused of theft? What are the odds?

Cowboys & Aliens studios Universal Pictures and Platinum Studios have been sued by cartoonist Stephen Busti, who claims that the graphic novel and Jon Favreau movie infringes on his strip ‘Cowboys and Aliens’, which appeared in Bizarre Fantasy #1 in 1994.

TMZ reports that Busti’s story was spotlighted in a 1995 issue of Comic Shop News on the same page that ran a story about Platinum’s Scott Rosenberg. The studio executive later presented the Cowboys & Aliens concept to the studio.

Platinum produced a Cowboys & Aliens poster in 1997 and sold the rights to the property to Universal and Dreamworks. It did not appear in graphic novel form until 2006.

MARTHA THOMASES: Are Interns Slaves?

In Great Britain, they’re trying to change the law to prevent businesses from exploiting students by way of unpaid internships. This is not just good news for a democratic society, but for comics fans as well.

How is it good for society? Unpaid internships are a scam, a way for businesses to get free labor while giving affluent students an unfair advantage over other students. The students with the best connections get the best gigs, and they’re the only ones who can get the subsidy from Mom and Dad so they can afford to work for free. After graduation, it’s the well-connected kids who have better resumes. It’s another example of affirmative action for the rich.

Unpaid internships also rob the community of taxable income. The kids working for free, even those with trust funds, are most likely not paying taxes on those unpaid salaries. They accrue the benefits of being part of our workforce without contributing their fair share. The corporations are certainly not paying taxes on the profits they make from the kids’ work.

How is it good for comics? I just spent a pleasant few days at New York Comic-Con. The show is run by Reed Pop!, and they do a decent job. However (and this is a big “However”), I am always surprised to see people working at the show as volunteers. Reed is a for-profit company. Why do they need volunteers?

I don’t mean to malign the people doing these jobs. Far from it. The deal, as I understand it, allows them to get into the show for free in exchange for doing a few hours work.

This might be a lovely way to run a local show, something put together by fans for fans. It’s no way to run a major exhibition in a major city. It’s scabbing. It’s exploitive. It’s an insult to every person who struggles to make a living in entertainment, marketing and hospitality.

It’s also a liability nightmare. If a volunteer has an accident, or somehow harms a guest, who is responsible? Again, it’s one thing if it happens in somebody’s garage, and quite another when it happens at the Javits Center.

I understand that this is a tradition of fans pitching in to help at shows. I love volunteers, and I welcome all efforts that get us more involved with our various and respective communities. However, I don’t understand why we’re volunteering to make money for corporations, instead of for more worthy causes.

Unlike the New York show, the San Diego Comic-Con is a not-for-profit corporation, a 501(c)(3). They are dedicated to promoting an appreciation of comics. Fae Desmond and David Glanzer are among my favorite people. However, it is my opinion that the show has been completely co-opted by other industries – specifically movies, television, and gaming – and to volunteer for that show is to make a non-cash donation to the likes of Disney, Fox, Warner Bros. and Universal.

Maybe, as comics fans, we hate ourselves so much that we feel we need to pay major corporations for the privilege of their attention.

Let’s make them pay us instead. We can use the money for therapy.

SATURDAY: Marc Alan Fishman

Buck Rogers Blasts Back To DVD in 2012

Buck Rogers Blasts Back To DVD in 2012

Coming to DVD 01/24/2012

According to www.tvshowsondvd.com, Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Scaled-Back DVD Set announced with the Fan-Favorite 1st Season. The 6 single-sided disc package will be available in late January 2012.

Blast off to the 25th century with Buck Rogers, one of the most popular sci-fi heroes of all time! When 20th century astronaut William “Buck” Rogers (Gil Gerard) is awakened – 500 years after a deep space disaster! – to an Earth in recovery from nuclear war, he must join Colonel Wilma Deering (Erin Gray) against a galaxy of evil from the past, present and faraway future. Now with all 21 action-packed Season One episodes of the epic series the Associated Press called “razzle-dazzle good fun,” and featuring phenomenal guest stars including Jamie Lee Curtis and Julie Newmar, you can join these legendary intergalactic crime fighters for an adventure you won’t forget!

Season 1 cast

In 2004, Universal Studios Home Entertainment released a DVD set of Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – The Complete Epic Series, a 5-disc package (all double-sided DVDs) with the complete 2-season run of the show (32 episodes, including 5 double-length special episodes). The two seasons of the program were very different from each other, with the first 21-episode run (including 3 double-length installments) being based on Earth and having Buck, Wilma, and ambuquad robot Twiki (Felix Silla, The Addams Family‘s “Cousin Itt” and voiced by Mel Blanc, of “Bugs Bunny” fame) getting their mission directions from Dr. Elias Huer (Tim O’Connor) and the disc-like computer carried by Twiki, Dr. Theopolis (voiced by Eric Server, B.J. and the Bear). The opening credits were narrated by William Conrad (Cannon, Jake and the Fatman, and narrator on The Fugitive).

The second season (11 episodes, with the first two of them being double-length stories) had Buck, Wilma, and Twiki relocated to deep space, on board the starship Searcher, where they were led by Admiral Asimov (Jay Garner) and joined by Dr. Goodfellow (Wilfrid Hyde-White), the alien Hawk (Thom Christopher), and “superior” robot Crichton (voiced by Jeff Davis). This season was much less loved by fans, and likley has been most memorable for the (in)famous “off-think” scene (do a web search for that, if you’re not familiar with it). Since it was relatively short, however, Universal included it in their “Complete Epic Series” DVD release 7 years ago…a collection which is still officially in print as of this writing, and lists for $26.98 SRP. However, it’s become much harder to find than it used to be.

Universal has announced that on January 24, 2012 they will release Buck Rogers in the 25th Century – Season 1, a collection of JUST the original Earth-based season with Dr. Huer, Dr. Theopolis. It also includes a galaxy of guest stars that include Pamela Hensley, Henry Silva, Roddy McDowall, Buster Crabbe, Jack Palance, Tim Robbins, Cesar Romero, Frank Gorshin, Markie Post, James Sloyan, Peter Graves, Jamie Lee Curtis, Gary Coleman, Ray Walston, Michael Ansara, Dorothy Stratten, Morgan Brittany, Thomas “Hollywood” Henderson, Mary Woronov, Anne Lockhart, Dennis Haysbert, Jerry Orbach, Judy Landers, Julie Newmar, and Vera Miles. These 21 episodes running 1166 minutes come on 6 single-sided DVDs, presented in full screen video, English mono sound, and with subtitles in English, French and Spanish. The original complete series release had no bonus material, and similarly there have been no extras announced for this title, either. Before anybody asks about a Blu-ray version, we’ll just point out that nothing at all has been said by the studio about a high-def disc release of this show. Cost for the Season 1 DVDs are $24.98 SRP and you can pre-order it from Amazon currently for $20.

Universal Loading ‘2 Guns’ from BOOM! Studios

Universal must like what it sees in its upcoming thriller “Contraband,” as the studio is in negotiations to reteam helmer Baltasar Kormakur with the pic’s star, Mark Wahlberg, on the actioner “2 Guns.”

Pic follows a DEA agent and an undercover naval intelligence officer who unwittingly investigate each other as each steals mob money.

David O. Russell rewrote a script penned by Blake Masters, who adapted Steven Grant’s graphic novel.

Marc Platt is producing with Boom! Studios’s Andrew Cosby and Ross Richie.

via Universal’s ‘2 Guns’ loading Kormakur, Wahlberg – Entertainment News, EXCLUSIVE, Media – Variety.

NEW REVIEW COLUMN DEBUTS-CAN I BE FRANK ABOUT MONSTER HUNTERS?

CAN I BE FRANK-Pulp Reviews by Frank Schildiner

Monster Hunters means Modern Pulp

By Frank Schildiner

Vampires coming up the front path? Zombies on the lawn? Maybe werewolves howling and keeping you awake at night? Then you might want to look up the MONSTER HUNTER series of pulps by rising scribe, Larry Correira. Three books in the series are MONSTER HUNTER INTERNATIONAL, MONSTER HUNTER VENDETTA and the recently published MONSTER HUNTER ALPHA, all of which are available in bookstores, online as well as electronically through Baen Book’s website.

These true modern pulps tell the tale of  Owen Zastava Pitt, an account with a love for nasty fighting and upbringing that included training a Green Beret would find arduous. Attempting to live a normal life, Pitt is one day attacked by his supervisor who was unfortunately recently infected as a werewolf.

This setup plunges the hero into a world of vampires, ghouls, zombies and government paper-pushers that have terrifying secrets of their own. Owen Pitt is soon recruited by a private company of monster hunters, all of whom are fun and interesting characters in their own right.

Correira, a weapons expert as well as a former account himself, provides the reader with an astonishing level of detail unseen since the days of Don Pendleton’s Mack Bolan War Against the Mafia series. It should be said that most writers who place this level of detail in a series often bog the story down in minutia, but Larry Correira manages to rise above that pitfall and provide the reader with just enough information to get you move involved in the story.

As a hero, Owen Pitt is reminiscent of the pulp heroes of the Western yarns; he’s strong, amusing, self-effacing and confident without becoming a “Mary-Sue”. If you don’t understand what a Mary-Sue is, feet free to pause this article and look up the term on Google (and maybe read the Conrad Stargrad stories by Leo Frankowski). In any event, he plays well off the other protagonists, especially the terrifying FBI Agent known as Franks. That character’s backstory alone is worth the price of admission.

The true pleasure of Larry Correia’s series lies in his world itself. Monsters such as vampires and werewolfs exist and have their own sets of rules. These rules derive from legends as well as great films from the Universal and hammer series and no doubt other sources. Other, equally terrifying and interesting creatures exist and provide the reader with plenty of excitement as well as fast paced action. The approachability of the characters allows the reader a better connection with the story, preventing a feeling of disconnection one often gets in action and adventure tales from new and historical pulp.

To sum up, if you want some modern pulp horror with a fun does of action, not to mention beautiful women and clever dialogue, Larry Corriea’s Monster Hunter series of books. I’m betting you’ll have a good time in the process and, like me, will be looking forward to the continuation of this enjoyable series of tales.

Marvel Wins Summary Judgments In Jack Kirby Estate Rights Lawsuits

Marvel Wins Summary Judgments In Jack Kirby Estate Rights Lawsuits

Photo of Jack Kirby at the San Diego Comic Con...

Jack Kirby. Image via Wikipedia

Deadline reports that the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of New York has delivered a summary judgment for Disney/Marvel and other studios Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures against the Jack Kirby Estate in the matter of notice of copyright termination.

The estate of Jack Kirby, co-creator of Captain America, Fantastic Four, X-Men, The Avengers, Iron Man, Hulk, Silver Surfer and Thor, sent notices terminating copyright to publishers Marvel and Disney, as well as film studios that have made movies and TV shows based on characters he created or co-created, including Sony, Universal, 20th Century Fox and Paramount Pictures.

The federal judge not only granted the studios’ motions for summary judgment but also denied the Kirby cross-motion for summary judgment.

The Kirby estate is represented by Marc Toberoff, who is also currently representing the Jerry Siegel estate against DC Comics in the copyright termination case regarding Superman and Smallville.

More information as we get it.