Wednesday, June 18, 2008

Comic book flicks to watch out for

Look up at the movie screen! Is it a comedy, is it a horror? No, it’s a comic book adaptation! Since the 70s, comic book adaptations of superheroes and mystical creatures have went from page to screen. However, this fad absolutely erupted in May of 2002 with a little film you might have heard of called, Spider-Man. The juggernaut film broke box office records, along with its sequels, and every studio wanted a page of the comic book action.

Flaunting off flashy special effects, the big-budget flicks attract even bigger audiences, turning the cinema into a comic book lover’s paradise.
Even B list characters have been made into fairly successful films like Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and the upcoming…Ant-Man (ever heard of him)?
According to IMDB (Internet Movie Database), an outstanding 80 some comic book adaptations are announced to be made, soaring into movie theaters, TV sets or DVD players. America’s obsession to watch their favorite superhero fight off their favorite supervillain better not wear off anytime soon.

Here is a look into this upcoming year’s hottest and most anticipated comic book adaptations that will come alive on screen.

The Incredible Hulk-
It was half a decade ago when art-house director Ang Lee brought this 1962 Marvel comic character turned TV show to life in an underwhelming and underperforming flop. However, the giant green guy who you don’t want to get mad is making a reinvented comeback. The comic is about physicist Dr. Robert Bruce Banner who gets caught in an explosion by a Gamma bomb which he created turning him into “The Hulk”. Edward Norton plays our superhero in the upcoming remake with Liv Tyler as his love interest, Betty Ross.

Wanted-Published in 2003 by Top Cow, this violent miniseries makes its leap to the big screen. Forget superheroes, Wanted is all about the supervillains. The intriguing set-up circles around Wesley Gibson, a white-collar nobody with a boring life. Things hit the ceiling when Wes finds out that his father got assassinated and that he was a supervillain called, The Killer; a part of the villainous Fraternity. Rising star James McAvoy plays Wesley with Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman as his mentors that try to bring out the murderer in him.

The Dark Knight-The beloved caped crusader is back in his 6th film under Christopher Nolan who revamped the series with Batman Begins. Bob Kane’s creation published under DC Comics debuted in 1939 and was turned into a TV show in the late 60s. Under the mask is rich playboy philanthropist, Bruce Wayne, who protects New York’s Gotham City after his parents were killed. With no superpowers, he does have a super utility belt. Gliding into theaters this July, Christian Bale reprises the role of the Dark Knight with the belated Heath Ledger (in his last full performance) as the Joker and Aaron Eckhart as politician turned villain Two-Face.

The Spirit-From the 1940 Will Eisner newspaper strip, Frank Miller brings the comic to the silver screen this Christmas in vein of the visual styling’s of his other work, Sin City and 300. Denny Colt is a rookie cop returned from the dead as a masked vigilante, the Spirit, protecting his city. Gabriel Macht will play The Spirit. Samuel L. Jackson plays the villain, The Octopus with Scarlett Johansson as his accomplice. Eva Mendes is Sand Saref, the Spirit’s love interest who ends up on the other side of the law.

Barbarella-Originated in France in 1962, the raunchy science-fiction comic finds the busty Barbarella adventuring around the galaxy. It was made into a notorious 1968 flick starring Jane Fonda. Jean-Claude Forest’s comic might find new life as it is to be remade by Robert Rodriguez, starring his girlfriend, Rose McGowan. However, the big-budget is causing delays.

Justice League: Mortal-Super friends: Aquaman, Batman, the Flash, Green Lantern, Superman and Wonder Woman are to finally unite. The relatively unknown very young cast and director George Miller (Happy Feet) is an ominous sign. WB is hoping that this picture will jump-start separate series with the lesser known superheroes in the gang. However, shooting location disputes leave this picture hanging. Marvel Comics is pulling together a similar picture with its own line of superheroes, The Avengers, for 2011.

Watchmen-Alan Moore’s 12-issue series published by DC in 1986 is one of the most anticipated comic book movies coming out. The depiction of Superheroes as real people made it a success. The story follows a mysterious murder of a fellow superhero with shocking dark twists and turns. Zack Snyder (300) directs with the lesser known but talented cast that includes: Patrick Wilson, Jeffrey Dean Morgan, Billy Crudup and Jackie Earle Haley.

Y: The Last Man- The 2002 Vertigo comic book stars Yorick Brown, the only male left alive after a suspected plague kills every mammal on earth with a Y-chromosome. This critically acclaimed comic shows a post-male world while chronicling Yorick and his friends’ journey. D.J. Caruso (Disturbia) is set to direct with a rumor of Shia LaBeouf to star.

The First Avenger: Captain America-Synonymous with American comics, Captain America will finally get a break and be made into a feature film. Created by Joe Simon and Jack Kirby; Marvel Comics has published it since 1941. The alter ego of Steve Rogers, gains his powers by a serum to aid the US in the war effort. Director Nick Cassavetes is the son of John who directed Iron Man.

Also keep an eye out for the forthcoming follow-ups to our favorite comic book adaptations: Iron Man, The Punisher, Superman, Sin City, and X-Men. Other projects announced are: Barbarella, Buck Rogers, The Flash, Nick Fury, Shazam, and Wonder Woman.

These big-budgeted and special effects laden projects finally make our favorite heroes truly fly off the page.

"Indiana Jones" is back

**** out of ****

Everyone’s favorite globe-trotting, artifact-digging, whip-cracking, fedora-wearing professor is back in Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. Harrison Ford graces the silver screen again as Indiana Jones, exactly 19 years after 1989’s Last Crusade; Crystal Skull is the franchise’s 4th installment.

Not quite the Indiana Jones we know from Raiders of the Lost Ark, there is still plenty of nostalgia from start to finish, appeasing the older generation as well as today’s, bringing out the excitable kid in all of us.
The year is 1957 and Indy is once again in peril, being captured by Russian radical sword-wielding psychic scientist Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett). Spalko forces Jones to search for a mysterious magnetized artifact in a government warehouse, but just in the knick of time, Indiana escapes…temporarily.

Young greaser Mutt Williams (Shia LaBeouf) meets up with Indy for his aid in finding lost colleague, Professor Oxley (John Hurt), who was previously kidnapped by Spalko to find the legendary city of gold, El Dorado. But the gold is not at stake, rather a crystal skull. The crystal skull is a supernatural object that grants its retriever unimaginable powers.

Setting off to South America and the deep, dark dangerous jungles of Peru, Indiana Jones, with Mutt in tow, fight off creepy-crawlers, hoards of ants, ancient tribes and the Soviets with non-stop action and adventure at every turn.

Harrison Ford is back in action as the adventure-seeking, wise-cracking Indiana Jones. Even though he is well into his sixties, Ford still can crack a whip. Also aging well is Karen Allen reenacting her role as Marion Ravenwood. Indiana’s tough-girl love interest in Raiders, Allen is pleasurable in her scenes next to Ford.

For today’s youth, Shia LaBeouf, who seems to be Speilberg’s favorite actor (producing most of his films), joins the crowd as the young spelunker. Cate Blanchett dons a heavy Russian accent as our villain, but probably is one of the weakest dastardly characters in the series with a underdeveloped part.

Steven Speilberg and George Lucas team up again and still have the magic touch. Lucas, who dreamt up Star Wars, also came up with idea for Indiana Jones. However, David Koepp (wrote Speilberg’s War of the Worlds, The Lost Word: Jurassic Park) pens the fun script that at spots gets murky.

Speilberg keeps up his outstanding credentials with stupendous sequences that you must see to believe. In particular, a jungle car chase with plenty of swashbuckling and bullet flying action that will keep anyone on the edge of their seats.

With plenty of familiarity too it, one reason why this Jones feels slightly different from the others is its CGI. Still with plenty of practical special effects (reportedly only 30% of effects were CGI), the graphics in some scenes can’t help but go unnoticed, though they are of course top-notch. Also, the extraterrestrial subject matter doesn’t feel too Jones-ish.

With exactly the perfect amounts of danger, humor, adventure, romance and swashbuckling, Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull is nearly impossible not to enjoy.