Thursday, August 17, 2006

Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer?

Well, the damage is done now folks. Marvel has decided to throw good money after bad. More importantly, they have decided to chuck good characters into a failed franchise.

They have given the Silver Surfer and most probably Galactus to director Tim Story, who gave us the woefully inept "Fantastic Four" film. The new film will be the sequel to FF: "Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer!" Whether or not, Mr. Story and Marvel recognize that the first movie, which was a commercial success, was a steaming pile of you know what, remains to be seen.

I wonder if Marvel understands how much damage to the "X-Men" series X3 has done? I wonder if they can tell why DareDevil failed? Is the optimism of big early numbers really enough to rationalize the dismal drop off of interest in weeks 2 and 3 after the opening weekend? I guess, an executives mind is a fragile thing. So Instead of the earlier plans to give the Surfer a grand debut with a great filmmaker, in a space odyssey, he will be hanging around Yancy street with Michael Chiklis and Chris Evans (who by the way, were the only good parts of the first film).

I know the Silver Surfer belongs with the FF. But the FF movie was so bland, that you start thinking, why contaminate a good character, by giving him to a low quality franchise?

I loved Mr. Story's "Barbershop" films. I think he was just way out of his league, attempting a big budget special effects, action film. Let's hope he realizes that and is spending ever waking hour proving us wrong. I want to go see this movie and cheer "Yay, it's the Surfer!!" not sigh "I guess we will have to wait ten years to see a remake."

Superhero Hype has the news and a summary of the film Here!

Fantastic Four Sequel Title Change

Source: 20th Century Fox
August 16, 2006

20th Century Fox has confirmed to Superhero Hype! that the Fantastic Four sequel has a new name - Fantastic Four: Rise of The Silver Surfer.

The movie was previously known as Fantastic Four and The Silver Surfer. The second film, directed by Tim Story, is set to hit theaters on June 15, 2007.

In the sequel, the enigmatic, intergalactic herald, The Silver Surfer, comes to Earth to prepare it for destruction. As the Silver Surfer races around the globe wreaking havoc, Reed, Sue, Johnny and Ben must unravel the mystery of The Silver Surfer and confront the surprising return of their mortal enemy, Dr. Doom, before all hope is lost.

Michael Chiklis, Ioan Gruffudd, Chris Evans, Jessica Alba and Julian McMahon star.

Let's Wiki up some Surfer History!! (Here!)

The Silver Surfer is a Marvel Comics superhero. Created by writer Stan Lee and artist/co-writer Jack Kirby, he first appeared in The Fantastic Four #48 (March 1966).

The Surfer was originally Norrin Radd, a young astronomer of the planet Zenn-La. He agreed to serve as herald to the god-like entity Galactus in order to save Zenn-La from the world devourer's insatiable hunger. Granted enormous cosmic powers (the Power Cosmic), a silvery appearance and a surfboard-like vehicle — all of which were modeled after a childhood fantasy of Radd — the Silver Surfer roamed the cosmos, searching for new planets for Galactus to consume.

In the classic “The Coming of Galactus” story arc in Fantastic Four #48-50 (1966), the Silver Surfer encountered Earth's Fantastic Four and betrayed Galactus, who doomed him to exile on Earth. In tune with a counterculture of the era, the Surfer explored his new home planet in a heavily philosophical late 1960s spin-off series.

A sequel to the 2005 Fantastic Four film, scheduled for 2007, initially was to be called Fantastic Four and the Silver Surfer but has subsequently been renamed Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer. Early promotional materials indicate it will be a loose adaptation of the “Coming of Galactus” with the Surfer more of a central villain.

The Silver Surfer is a unique product of the Marvel system of comic creation. Unlike in the full scripts employed elsewhere, Lee and Kirby would discuss general storylines or plots initially but leave the specific story elements to the penciller (this was especially so in the case of Kirby). Reputedly, Kirby created the character of the Silver Surfer reasoning that a cosmic predator of planets should have some sort of herald. Lee was surprised by this creation but, taken by the noble features of the new character that Kirby had penciled, scripted him, adding to his characterization.

In the very earliest stories, Kirby envisioned the Surfer as a semi-divine being created by the godlike Galactus, immeasurably powerful yet lacking the most basic understanding of good or evil. Clearly drawing inspiration from Rousseau, Lee's script allowed this completely amoral entity to develop a sense of compassion through contact with the gentle Alicia Masters, a blind sculptress somehow capable of perceiving the surfer's innate nobility.

Lee and Kirby continued this theme through a series of subplots where the Surfer encounters negative human traits such as jealousy (The Thing, driven to rage by the Surfer's relationship with his girlfriend, Alicia); deception, evil and cruelty (de-powered and imprisoned by Doctor Doom, then tortured by Doom's brutal henchmen), despair and hopelessness (languishing in a Latverian dungeon while Doom uses the power cosmic to conquer the world); and finally a thirst for revenge (destroying Doom's castle - along with his sadistic captors, presumably - when he finally escapes).

At the same time, the Surfer continued to evolve as an individual, slowly groping his way to a knowledge of his own humanity. No mention, however, was made of any life or existence prior to the Surfer's arrival on Earth, lending credence to the idea that he was a whole-cloth creation of his world-devouring master. Significantly, during this early period, both Galactus and the Surfer fed in precisely the same manner - converting matter directly into energy - suggesting Galactus created the Surfer in his image.

The Surfer's background was retconned with the release of Silver Surfer #1, providing the character with a previously undisclosed existence, revealing that the character had a life as an ordinary being before he became the Silver Surfer. According to a number of sources, this overhauling of the character's history was one of the disputes which led to Jack Kirby's resignation from Marvel.

In the revised version, the Surfer was born Norrin Radd on the idyllic planet Zenn-La, home to an ancient and advanced civilization that had lost the will to strive or explore; leaving Norrin Radd restless and yearning for something more than the idle pleasure pursued by his fellows. Faced with the total destruction of his world by the planet-consuming Galactus, Radd struck a deal with the omnipotent space god to serve as his herald in return for the safety of Zenn-La and of his lover, Shalla-Bal, at the same time satisfying his desire to discover new worlds and adventures beyond the limits of his home. Galactus accepted the young mortal's sacrifice and imbued him with a portion of the Power Cosmic, transforming him into the Silver Surfer. He served Galactus for an unspecified amount of time, unable to return to Zenn-La or Shalla-Bal, until he came to the planet Earth.

On Earth, the Surfer encountered a number of individuals whose nobility and honor touched him, such as the Fantastic Four and their companion Alicia Masters. The Surfer chose to rebel against Galactus and attempted to prevent his master from consuming the Earth. Galactus was eventually driven off, but as punishment for his rebellion, Galactus confined the Surfer to Earth by creating an invisible barrier which affected only him (deprived him of his space-time powers in the original version - the "Great Barrier" first appeared in the Doctor Doom story arc the following year). Doctor Doom imprisoned Radd and stole the Surfer's power for himself but lost his new might when he collided with Galactus' barrier and the Surfer's powers returned to their true master.

Read on Here!

Saturday, August 12, 2006

Fragments of the Rock of Miller

Sure I loved "Sin City," it was a triumph of style and a new way of looking at
comic book films. If Blade stuck his foot in the door and X-Men and Spidey blew the door open, Spidey 2 ripped the door off its hinges saying "We will never be the unloved step child again!"

But "Sin City," wow, "Sin City" established a new visual marriage of film and book. "Sin City" says don't worry about making the comic film real, make the film the real comic. Make it breath like a comic, move like a comic and feel the grit of a comic. If only "Sin City" had been made before DareDevil....

The funny thing about it, I'm not really a modern Frank Miller fan. I loved his 'DareDevil and 'the Dark Knight Returns' but the 'Sin City' stuff left me a little bored. Somehow on screen its amazing, but on the page, it feels like Raymond Chandler on smack. (not in a good way) And bombastic "Film Noir" is like "naked bears," it's redundant and something that nobody wants to see.

Still, "Sin City" has done for Miller what nobody can do for Alan Moore.... Translated him into celluloid with heart and style. And it has made Miller, the man who gave us the script for "Robocop 2," Hollywood Hot.

Two issues worth talking about:

1) Miller has been given the holy grail of comics, (not the Watchmen) Will Eisner's Spirit. This makes me ill. The stories in the Spirit were dark and character driven, but with warm humanity. Next to Jack Cole's Plastic Man, it is the first great modern comic, decades ahead of its peers.

I feel like Justin Timberlake just covered songs from "The Animals," "The Velvet Underground" or "Iggy Pop." (If you don't know or care who these
guys are it's cool, but the are all major innovators of their time. Without The Animals you would never have had the Stones or hard dirty blue rock, Without Iggy Pop or The Velvet Underground you would never have had Punk music) .

Frank Miller is great, I really think he is one of the great writers and artists of the comic book medium, but he is limited to pain, anger, violence, grit and by his own depraved sense of sexual bondage. Will Eisner's Spirit has a very optimistic side, a small wink with the punch, that Miller doesn't even know exists. In a way, Eisner knew more about the depths of coruption and evil. His characters are more real and full. They have a much farther fall to the "Dark side" then Mileer's extremist stereotypes. Miller is all about extremes. Can Miller truly direct? Who knows what Miller can do on his own, he has never truly directed, has he? Why not let him take baby steps before giving him the Ming vase?

Why not let Michael Bay direct "Love & Rockets?"

Many modern fans think "The Spirit" is a "Dick Tracy" clone. This is a great error. "The Spirit" is nothing less than a subtle pop masterwork. Eisner is the "Johnny Cash of the comics world," and he will continue to influence the creatives, long after the sheep that don't know any better have retired to their mobility chairs.

Brad Bird wanted to direct this movie. Brad Bird!! Warner picks Miller. sigh... Wouldn't it be great if you, me and all like minded fans of quality comics, got Brad Bird, Sam Raimi, Alan Moore, Neil Gaiman and went over to Miller's house? We could
beat him upside his baldspot with a Marv action figure.

If creating a Spirit movie was an easy no brainier, I'd worry less. but I think a movie based on The Spirit is a very difficult chore. It's not bombastic material like SIN CITY so you can't just go for style. Eisner created a very filmic palette. If you don't feel Eisner in every shot and movement, if his dark, yet comical, human characters don't feel both real and exaggerated, it will just be a movie about a silly man within a blue suit wearing a mask.

Much of the time, The Spirit was about the nobody. The little man who would be a minor note in any other story. That was Eisner's magic, the blue hero was sometimes just the background for a great piece on character. This movie has to have great character actors playing these roles. This is probably one of the most "Artistically" difficult challenges of the genre.

Think of what Miller could have done with DareDevil. Please, not Denny Colt!

Still, maybe there is hope.

In "Ghost of Eisner Looms Over The Spirit" written by Cindy White over at, producer Michael Uslan says he promised Eisner not to let someone ruin "The Spirit" in a botched comic to movie operation. (of course I don't believe Uslan knows what "no compromise" means, this is the man that gave us an American Reeves as John Constantine!):

When producer Michael Uslan promised the late Will Eisner that he wouldn't't compromise the integrity of his seminal comic series 'The Spirit' in his attempts to get a feature-film version made, he didn't realize how difficult it would be to fulfill that goal. Now, after years of coming up against a Hollywood establishment that just didn'’t get it, Will Eisner'’s The Spirit is finally in development as a feature film under the creative guidance of none other than Frank Miller. .

..Now Playing recently sat down with Uslan, who has already successfully brought
several comic properties to the screen, including Swamp Thing, Batman and Constantine, to talk about the upcoming Spirit film.

"...Will Eisner'’s The Spirit, being done on an independent basis, ....I'’m getting chills right now talking to you about it, going down the back of my neck. God, I wish he was here."”

Eisner, who passed away in early 2005, entrusted Uslan with the rights to the project because of the producer'’s track record and his faith that he would do the character justice.
(John Constantine and Alan Moore may not agree, ya arseface!! Okay I'll shut up and let you read...) But even Eisner was beginning to get impatient with the proposed film'’s long gestation period.

"“I promised Will that we would do this movie the right way,"” Uslan says. "And nobody was going to touch it. And he was getting a little frustrated with me those last few years because he didnĂ‚’t see things happening. I just absolutely refused to compromise."”

Uslan tells horror stories of pitching the project to studio executives and hearing suggestions that immediately told him he was talking to the wrong people. "“I went around to the studios, to financing and distribution companies. They said, '‘Well, this is real interesting material, Michael. Of course, we'’ve got to get him out of that suit and tie and hat. So a cape or a cowl maybe?'
And it was, '‘Goodbye.'’ 'This is great material Michael, but what'’s his superpowers?' I said, '‘His greatest superpower is his humanity.'’ He says, '‘Well, fine, but how about he really did die and now he'’s supernatural and he'’s got all these supernatural powers?'’ '‘Goodbye.'’"”

The project finally gained forward momentum when Uslan walked into the office of producer Deborah Del Prete, who turned out to be a fan of Eisner'’s and 'The Spirit.' The last element fell into place with the hiring of artist/writer/director Frank Miller, who will employ all three talents in the making of the film.

“There'’s nobody else," Uslan says. "And when I first pitched it to Frank his first thing was, 'Come On. I can'’t do this. How can I touch the work of Will Eisner and bring it to the screen?'’ And then two minutes later it was, 'How can I let anyone else do it? I have to do it.'’ There'’s nobody else who knows Eisner, who knew Eisner, who understood Eisner, who understands both the comic-book medium and the motion-picture medium, who had done these things with Sin City that were directly applicable to a successful translation of Will Eisner'’s The Spirit from a printed page to a cinematic image. It had to be Frank."”

The film will be shot in a similar style to Sin City with "“lots of green screen"” and projected images behind live actors. Miller is currently in the process of storyboarding the film, using Eisner'’s actual drawings for reference.

"“He'’s got a huge wall,"” Uslan says. "“And on the wall he has gone and he has cut out every panel, sequence, page, from all of Eisner's Spirit work that would any way plug into the story that we're going to tell and the characters we'’re going to tell. And he has jigsaw-puzzled them across the entire wall to form the basis of the storyboard for the movie. And then he'’s changing the dialogue as necessary. And where he doesn'’t have the connective tissue panels, Frank is drawing them. Making them up. So Will Eisner is storyboarding the movie with an assist from Frank Miller. And it's proof positive that this is the only way this could happen in order for me to do this the right way."” (Okay...let's see what happens...please Frank...It's Will Eisner!!)

Okay, remember when there was counting in this thing?

2) Miller's book "300" is being directed by an interesting man and if "Sin City" is the burning city of the revolution of comic movies, then this may be the call to storm the castle.

Take a look at these amazing "Video Diarys" of "Frank Miller's 300":

Frank Miller's "300" Video Diary 1

Frank Miller's "300" Video Diary 2

Frank Miller's "300" Video Diary 3

Frank Miller's "300" Video Diary 4

Frank Miller's "300" Video Diary 5

Note: director Zack Snyder's next film after "300"....."Watchmen." More on that later

A You Tube Visit with Alan Moore..

I've said it before and I think what I actually said was this:

"Alan Moore is the finest writer to ever write for comics. It's the truth, no question, no doubt, no close runners up. He is, in fact, one of the greatest writers I've ever read. His keen original mind is an international treasure that could redesign the creative medium if people would just believe in his work."
(from "A Good Moore Film")

And he is. In fact many believe he will one day be looked at more prominently in historical hindsight.
People like to push away from Mr. Moore, the same way I once tried to push away from Jimi Hendrix, The Beatles and Bob Marley, because everyone in college who liked Jimi was a burnout, the Marley fans were those white boys with the self-imposed dreadlocks and anyone who liked the Beatles was a virgin, musically and otherwise.

You can't escape the great ones though... I love the "Velvet Underground", "Ornette Coleman," The Great "Rahsaan Roland Kirk" and "Iggy Pop and the Stooges" I love the obscure and underappreciated, but every once in a while something is both undeniably, the pinnacle of achievement and popular with the general public. In the end, those who keep themselves from Jimi, Bob, Paul and John, only hurt themselves...

For comic fans who would rather have a better answer than "Alan Moore" to "Who is the greatest comic book writer?" ..... Give Up, there isn't one. Okay, maybe Will Eisner, but that's it.

Sure there are other greats:
(The list below is not exclusive or my opinion, just a smattering of some of mine and my friends favorites)

Will Eisner
Jack Cole
Marv Wolfman
Denny O'Neil
Stan Lee
Garth Ennis
Neil Gaiman
Frank Miller
Brian Michael Bendis
Chris Claremont
Grant Morrison
Art Spiegelman
Los Bros Hernandez
Dennis P. Eichhorn
Ed Brubaker
Len Wein
Daniel Clowes
Carl Barks
Steve Englehart
Terry LaBan
(Jim Owsley) Christopher Priest
Gerry Conway
Peter David
Mark Millar
Harlan Ellison
Mark Evanier
Dave Sim
Mike Baron
Peter Milligan
Warren Ellis
Jamie Delano
Brian K. Vaughan
Robert Kirkman

Even many of these guys know that Moore is a transcendent light, and a truly original voice in comics.
Most of the edgy young writers Today owe him big.

Nuff Said.

Here's a celebration of Alan Moore I was viewing this morning on the YouTube.

"Culture Show: Alan Moore" is a BBC2 mini doc show that celebrates artists with pretentious editing.
Part one, Part Two, Part Three,
Part Four, Part Five, Part Six

"Comic Tales With Alan Moore" Is a great little show that is all Alan, talking about the creepy history of North Hampton, magic and creativity..
Part one, Part Two, Part Three,
Part Four, Part Five, Part Six,

Part Seven, Part Eight, Part Nine,
Part Ten, Part Eleve

An 1980's Alan Moore interviewed by a complete moron on on a kid's show called "Get Fresh"
Watch It Here!

Something called "The Mindscape Of Alan Moore".....I dunno, but it's creepy.
Watch It Here!

Also, 3 great Onion AV Club interviews with Alan Moore,
(suggested by my pal Bill)
(October 24th, 2001)
(June 25th, 2003)
(August 2nd, 2006)

Geeks talking about Watchman
Watch It Here!

And last but not least, or maybe least, okay, at least better than the "Geeks talking about Watchman" stuff:
a student film that takes a page from Watchman and turns it into a pretty nice little short film.

Wednesday, August 09, 2006

Afro Samurai...... Animated!

The new 5 part, Spike TV animated series "Afro Samurai" has a nice trailer on its website you might want to check out it if you like Wutang, "Samurai Champloo" or "Cowboy BeeBop." (and who doesn't?)

"Afro Samurai" follows the lone journey of "Afro" an ample haired badass with one of those long, sharp, pointy things, made from tempered metals, that he uses, with profound ability, to perform the ancient and well loved practice of separating mean guys from their favorite limbs.

Afro Samurai is the creation of Takashi Okazaki, who first created the story as a comic book in a manga anthology called "Nononhow" in 1999.

Samuel L. Jackson is the voice of "Afro" and a co-producer. There has been much talk of a live action movie version, which Sam keeps saying he will soon be too old to play. At least he's honest, come on Harrison Ford!!

I think this looks like a fun project, but I miss the days of Sam taking on really challenging roles and characters. I guess I miss those old Tarentino movies, when the dialogue meant something and Sam's ability to mellifluously speak Quentin's words was simply the coolest thing since Fonzie.

The press release says : "AFRO SAMURAI is the tale of a black samurai in a futuristic, yet feudal Japan who is on a mission to avenge the wrongful death of his father. Samuel L. Jackson stars as "Afro," a warrior who travels a solitary path encountering a myriad of enemies, friends and challenges beyond imagination. The series, produced in Japanese animation, blends samurai style with hip-hop, creating a kind of action that American audiences have never seen before."

Funimation and Spike TV have planned five episodes to air in the Fall of 2006, with a DVD in 2007.
Check out the Trailer HERE!
Or watch it on You Tube!
Props to Hungrytim
who found the trailer on YouTube, his blog is Hungrytim's Blog!

Tuesday, August 08, 2006

A Little Poll...

I 'm thinking of adding some polls to gauge your opinions on casting for movies and other general movie excitement, so here 's a test for you. I've recently discovered that my blog readers can be divided into nine separate categories. I have designed this cunning poll to effortlessly distinguish how many of you fit into which groups, so I can then cater only to the majority!!! Tell me a little bit about yourself.