Avengers Assemble

11-Oct-11 10:08 PM by
Filed under Trailers; 2 comments.

Ladies and gentlemen… boys and girls… I present to you: the summer blockbuster of 2012.

Marvel superheroes Iron Man, The Incredible Hulk, Captain America, and Thor join forces as the Avengers, under the direction of Joss Whedon of Buffy and Firefly fame. The team's individual films have, on the whole, been good to great, so even I, only an occasional fan of Marvel Comics, find myself with high hopes and expectations for this collaboration.

This raises the question: Why can't DC Comics do this with their stable of legendary heroes? Their Batman franchise is going gangbusters, but they've so far failed to gain traction with Superman (though a reboot is coming in 2013) or Green Lantern. The IMDb lists a Wonder Woman TV show coming later this year, with a movie in 2015. By contrast, Marvel assembled their team in just four years.

We'll likely not have an answer until well after The Avengers' May 4, 2012, debut.

UPDATE: Do not be fooled by cheap imitations!

Or wanna-bes!

Duck Tape TRON

22-Aug-11 9:04 PM by
Filed under Humor; Comments Off on Duck Tape TRON

This TRON video came out just today and is sure to be a viral hit — so I'm doing my part and sharing it with Showbits readers, my favorite Internet denizens.

Has TRON's light cycle scene ever been so masterfully recreated than by this work of TRON Guy? I met Jay Maynard at ROFLCon a few years ago, and this advertisement for Duck-brand duct tape is the perfect amalgamation of his stereotyped perception and actual personality. Besides, what genius is it to advertise a specific brand of tape? It's like comedian Steven Wright has said: you never see an advertisement for string. All it takes is one ad to put your product ahead of the competition. I'd say Duck Tape just soared well past the other brands on the grid.

(Hat tip to 8 Bit Weapon)

The Avengers' Backup

27-Jul-11 8:29 PM by
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Stan Lee's true believers know to stick around after each Marvel superhero film, in case of an Easter Egg teasing future comic book adaptations. Perhaps the greatest series of such teasers are those that began with the original Iron Man film, subtly setting the groundwork for multiple movies to be tied together, leading up to The Avengers.

It's the promise of that 2012 film, which will unite Iron Man, the Hulk, Captain America, and Thor that led me to catch this summer's release of Thor. I have no familiarity with the Norse god and wasn't interested in seeing his movie — but I knew that if I skipped this one while seeing the other three, I'd be only 75% prepared for the team-up I 100% want to see.

These tie-ins successfully pried my moviegoing money from me, making it an effective strategy for Marvel. What if they decided to apply that same tactic to more of their films — or even patented it then lent it to other studios? What other films might we be forced to endure just to ensure we didn't miss the big picture? College Humor has the answer.

In Brightest Day

17-Jun-11 10:51 AM by
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This is a day that will be long remembered: the release of a highly anticipated film adaptation of one of the most popular comic books ever.

When I started reading comics in 1996, I was immediately drawn to a superhero I wasn't very familiar with. His abilities and adventures were stunning and made me an instant fan. I've long hoped to see him brought to life by Nathan Fillion, and someone in power must've seen the fan trailer that demonstrated the power of that union, as he's been cast in a direct-to-DVD animated film. But the live action take on this storied character debuts today with an entirely different cast:

Yes, I want to see Green Lantern — but the casting and the reception have both been poor. So I'm psyched to see the perennial favorites from Sesame Street ride the wave of public awareness to promote their upcoming film. The above is one of many misleading trailers that suggest terrible films in alternative genres. Here's the romantic comedy approach:

SImply named The Muppets, the film returns Jim Henson's creations to the silver screen on November 23, 2011.

Summer Shorts: City of Scars

02-Jul-10 11:00 AM by
Filed under Films; 1 comment.

The shorts we've watched so far this season have demonstrated the creativity of artists with original intellectual properties. Some actors and directors are just as limitless when applying their talent to their own interpretations of well-known characters. Batman, created by Bob Kane and Bill Finger in 1939, has undergone many metamorphoses, each time adapting to the times and audience in which the superhero finds himself. One manifestation of the Dark Knight can be found in a recent 40-minute independent film, City of Scars:

For a "short" to carry its plot across 40 minutes requires excellent production values and talent, which this film has in spades. But it does set itself apart from the archetypal Batman in several important ways.

Just as Superman's modus operandi is based on the trust and support of the American people, Batman's power is founded on fear. Most of Gotham has never seen Batman and few believe him to be more than an urban legend, which made his bold appearance in the bar hard to believe. Nor was his fighting style as subtle and elegant as represented in the comic books. Rather than choke a thug with an iron chain, Batman would more likely bust out a martial art that would lay the hood low without little apparent effort.

We're also given an unusual look at Batman's counterpart. This Joker acts (or perhaps looks) like a bully, lending the character more anger and menace and less insanity than previous portrayals, such as Andrew Koenig's. Yet this Joker is not new to the role; Paul Molnar has previously played the Clown Prince of Chaos in both Patient J and Batman Legends, in which Kevin Porter again played Batman. Given the above film's ending, it seems this partnership may be at an end.

There is no one right way to define these characters, though, and it's encouraging to see films that are willing to put their own spin on classic icons. What is your favorite version of Batman, either in print or on screen? Does the above version mesh with what you expect from these characters?

Find more Batman films from these artists at Bat in the Sun. For a lighter look at Batman, see Batman's Bad Day and The Interrogator — or even RiffTrax's take on The Dark Knight.

(Hat tip to Showbits contributor GeneD)

Jake Gyllenhaal's Prince of Persia

27-May-10 11:27 AM by
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Tomorrow marks the debut of the film Prince of Persia: Sands of Time, based on a game franchise that originated on the Apple II. Disney's adaptation of the game is produced by Jerry Bruckheimer and stars Jake Gyllenhaal. Although Mr. Bruckheimer is commonly related with blockbuster action films, Mr. Gyllenhaal has a more diverse and interesting filmography.

His film debut was a bit part in the AFI's 86th funniest movie of all time, City Slickers, but most people first noticed Mr. Gyllenhaal in his leading roles in the historical tale of October Sky or the bizarre cult hit, Donnie Darko, in which his sister, Maggie Gyllenhaal, played his sister. At one time, he was rumored to replace Tobey Maguire as Spider-Man when Mr. Maguire strained his back in Seabiscuit, leaving him unable to perform the stunts of the friendly neighborhood wall-crawler. Such a substitution would've put Mr. Gyllenhaal opposite his then-girlfriend, Kirsten Dunst. The resemblance between the two male actors was also a factor that led to them portraying siblings in the 2009 film Brothers. More notably, he is the surviving half of the leading pair from the controversial Brokeback Mountain, though his role in the action film The Day After Tomorrow, was apparently overlooked by Game Informer magazine when they noted that PoP was Mr. Gyllenhaal's first action movie.

An actor of such varying roles has certainly deserved to have made a name for itself. The only question is: which name is that?

What's your favorite Gyllenhaal film, and what are your expectations for Prince of Persia?

(Hat tip to ROFLrazzi)

The A-Team: Back in Action

21-Jan-10 1:28 PM by
Filed under Television, Trailers; 2 comments.

When Hollywood adapts a television series to film, it's easy to view the maneuver as an uncreative and desperate attempt to cash in on a well-known brand without any respect for the original property and its fans. From Car 54 and Mod Squad to G.I. Joe and The Transformers, there are myriad examples of stories that were best left to the small screen.

But to paint all such adaptations so negatively is to overlook the overwhelming success, both critically and financially, of film such as Serenity and Star Trek. Such home runs give us reason for optimism, even if their lackluster counterparts temper that optimism with caution.

I'm therefore ambivalent toward the feature film reboot of The A-Team. The original series, which ran for 98 episodes from 1983 to 1987, had a colorful and recognizable cast that included George Peppard (Breakfast at Tiffany's), Dirk Benedict (Battlestar Galactica), Dwight Schultz (Star Trek: The Next Generation), and Mr. T (who will not appear in the reboot). It doesn't seem feasible that any modern studio could recapture that magic.

And yet, the following trailer has me positively giddy:

As Dayton Ward said, "Does Liam Neeson look like a dead ringer for George Peppard, or what?" And it goes beyond just superb casting — the opening dialogue, the music, the one-liners, and the action all seem lifted right from the original series:

Maybe this studio knows what they're doing, after all. We'll find out on June 11, 2010.

(Hat tip to ComingSoon.net)

Prince of Persia Pines for Passion

09-Nov-09 12:43 PM by
Filed under Trailers; 1 comment.

It's not a new phenomenon for video games to be adapted to film, though it is rare that it's done well. Mortal Kombat is my favorite such effort, and even it was a fun popcorn movie of little substance. Yet such translations continue unabated.

The latest attempt to carry a game's success to the silver screen is the storied Prince of Persia, which dates back to an Apple II program originally released in 1989. The game enjoyed many ports and sequels, then lay dormant for some years. In 2003, the franchise was revived for a new generation of consoles with a trilogy of 3D action-adventure games, many of which bestowed the protagonist with power over the timestream. It's those elements that are behind the subtitle the star-studded film The Prince of Persia: The Sands of Time.

Jake Gyllenhaal, Ben Kingsley, and Alfred Moina star in this film, opening May 28, 2010. Here's the trailer:

After watching the trailer, I have a similar opinion of the film as I do with the majority of today's video games: it's not all about the graphics. The above trailer is absolutely gorgeous, and the action sequences look quite intricate — but, in a way, they also seem rather standard. Okay, so we have people running and jumping and climbing and fighting, and a princess and a street rat making snide yet flirty remarks at each other. Is this Aladdin? That film's "gimmick" was the genie, and PoPSoT's should be the titular sands of time. It's apparently a sparingly used plot device, as the trailer overlooks the consequences of this mystic artifact in favor of action that could be found in any number of other frenetic films.

I love Jordan Mechner's original Prince of Persia (also available via Xbox Live Arcade) and admire him for keeping the franchise alive across so many decades and media, and I appreciate that even this trailer acknowledges this property as his creation. As he said in Game Informer magazine:

With Prince of Persia, I've had the opportunity and the challenge of recreating the character and story anew, not just once but several times, since the first Apple II version 20 years ago… Each of these projects gave me the chance to work with a great creative team in a new medium — a triple opportunity that in my Apple II days I could have only dreamed of.

Mr. Mechner recently engaged in a more in-depth interview with ComingSoon.net:

I did the best I could on a side-scrolling Apple II to try to capture that kind of excitement, and running and jumping and really the first 10 minutes of Raiders of the Lost Ark in 1981 was the immediate inspiration for the first "Prince of Persia" game. But I think the movie, as you've seen, goes very far beyond that. There's Parkour, there's sword fighting. It's pretty extreme.

I hope the latest adaptation of Mr. Mechner's prince is something he and his fans can all be proud of.

(Hat tip to Juiced.GS!)