We have reached a New year in 2009, but there are still a lot of blog posts which were originally planned at Comicology for the year 2008. So, let's quickly wrap them up one by one.
First-up would be a Movies Roundup for the year 2008. Don't panic, we aren't going away from the main Comics theme of our Blog. In fact, all the movies which are being covered here will be those which has some sort of relationship with Comics, or its sub-genre Animation. There were a total of 20+ movies released in 2008 related to these genre, which is an enormous list to be covered in a single post. Hence this is a 1st of the two part series in this write-up.
Let’s start with our first post, where the movies are ordered according to their US release date.
Rambo (Jan 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>
Sylvester Stallone tried to imitate his past success by re-booting the long forgotten movie franchise Rambo after a decade (since Rambo III). This instalment takes him to Burma in a bid to save the missionaries from evil clutches of savage Military Officer. The film was said to be the most gory of the franchise, with as many killings, but I was somehow not impressed seeing a legendary character being portrayed as in his last breath.
The storyline didn’t give much justice either to the franchise, but the producers are poised to make a 5th instalment of series in 2009, unlike Rocky Balboa two years earlier, which was confirmed as the last instalment of the Rocky series.
You might wonder why this movie is part of our list. But, I just came to know that Blackthorne Publishing, had produced some comics based on Rambo character in 1988. While the Comic based Movie adaptations have mostly been successful, the vice-versa does not show a rosy picture. No wonder the company folded shops the very next year.
Jumper (Feb 14, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
A partly successful movie based on the original novel by the same name in 1992. It follows the adventure of two secret mutant genres, which are destined to fight and hunt each other. Oni Press had actually released a prequel graphic novel before the movie, hence it finds mention in our list. Mostly it is a disappointing movie, which failed to live up to the expectations set by the famous novel. The unknown cast and crew didn’t help the matter much.
But, the film actually did a decent turn out in box office prompting the producers to think on a sequel. One of the attraction of the movie is that its said to have been filmed in 14 different countries. So we get to see a world-tour, when the lead character jumps from one location to another (which was a cute concept).
Horton Hears A Who (Mar 14, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3/5 >>
The first Animation movie released internationally in 2008. Many in India may not be aware of Dr.Seuss, who is known for his literary work targeted for children. Two of his earlier books have also been made as films, with the first one featuring Jim Carrey. But, this is the first movie which was made fully in CGI. It’s a touching storyline which talks about the importance of living things irrespective of their size. Horton the Elephant is comically drawn and wonderfully voiced by the talented Jim Carrey (who seems to love Dr.Seuss work).
The movie could have been made better, if it had avoided lengthy scenes and screenplay. But the climax scene made up for it all, where I was one among those who wished that the voice from the tiny world makes it to what we call as our world.
Iron Man (May 2, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>
The long awaited movie featuring one of the famous Marvel characters, Iron Man, finally hit the theatres in 2008 (It was in pre-production for almost 2 decades, changing number of hands in the process). Marvel seem to have an upper hand over the arch-rivals DC when it comes to Movie franchise. Somehow their comic characters were tailor made for a movies, and the number of characters in their disposal is fascinating, to say at least.
Tony Stark is wonderfully portrayed by Robert Downey Jr., whose dialog delivery, and style, overshadows his ageing face. It’s said that the production house initially preferred a younger actor, but then decided to give it to Downey, since the chracter resembled lot in him, and also because he is a great fan of the Iron Man comics.
The evolution of the Iron Man Costume in 3 stages; Introduction of Iron Monger, Iron Man’s arch enemy, and the plot revolving around him; Saviour of the people in war-torn states; are wonderfully portrayed in the movie, which would make any Iron Man Comics fan proud. There is also a romantic interlude with the personal secretary, Pepper Pots (isn’t that a cute name), which seems to have been set in motion for the sequels to come.
The last scene press conference, where everybody expects Tony Stark to make announcement disassociating the rumours of him being Iron Man, is closed perfectly with the punch line sentence. Credits to the Director, Jon Favreau, for making a movie which was in “Development Hell” for near 2 decades, with incredible plot-work. It should also be noted that the director allowed actors to create their own dialogues. The humor part in-lined with the entire script, with flashy comic dialogues, is said to be due to the involvement of Downey Jr., contributions in the movie’s screenwriting. He claims to have made it stand out from the rest of the hard-hitting super-hero movies. It turned out as a master stroke for the movie.
The Director didn’t let any stones unturned by silently introducing the Avengers Initiative at the end of the movie, setting up the show for 2009. And, Iron Man-2 with the same cast is in for a 2011 sequel.
Speed Racer (May 9, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1/5 >>
A prime candidate for the worst movie franchise, this time made out of Japanese Anime series. I should honestly admit that I was never a great fan for the Japanese Manga style of art and anime, and it could have helped me to write-off this movie completely. But, the overall rating of the movie, does justify my premonition. The plot talks about a young racer, trying to win a prestigious racing championship, in which his older brother was killed. In the process he uncovers the corporate games of cheating, and backstabbing. Lesser said about the plot the better.
Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of Crystal Skull (May 22, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2.5/5 >>
The successful duo of George Lucas (Star Wars fame) and Steven Spielberg (Jurassic Park fame), join hands once again to bring back the famous movie character Indian Jones back onto silver screen after nearly 2 decades. To go by the strong theme of, “If Indiana Jones, then it is Harrison Ford”, 56 year old surprisingly made his return to play the lead character again. Harrison Ford simply has charisma wooing all over him, and it helps bring back the glory days. The Nuclear Bomb Blast, Car chasing scenes and a climax with pre-historic monuments, and encounter with aliens its makes (which was kind of too comical) for an interesting watch. The next instalment may be better.
Even though I wasn’t from the genre when Indian Jones was making headlines, I have heard it from seniors in the biz that it was one of the interesting movie franchise they every witnessed. Since the movie franchise is actually said to have been rebooted, Shia LaBeouf (Transformer fame) is introduced as Jr. Jones, to centre future movies around his character. Even though Indian Jones is typically a movie franchise, Marvel Comics and Dark Horse have long printed graphic novels based on the character, hence he makes into our list.
Kung Fu Panda (Jun 6, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
A movie from the famed DreamWorks studio, which made its way after a huge marketing campaign. But, even then I wasn’t particularly impressed to a great extent with jumping Panda. It shows how a movie from a bigger brand can get mass attention through the strength of campaigns. My rating is sure to create uproars among the comic/movie fraternity, some of whom have rated it even on the top 3 movies of the year. But, with that said, this is my honest rating.
There is also a controversy fuming, that the Americans utilized the Panda as the lead character so as to make profit out of the beloved and national figure in China. I believe that actually worked up pretty well for the success of the movie. Didn’t they say Controversy creates Cash. :)
Incredible Hulk (Jun 13, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>
The Green angry giant makes a comeback to silver screen after 5 years, but as it turned out it was a complete reboot of the Incredible Hulk series from the failed attempt earlier. A lead character and cast change didn’t help matters, as the movie didn’t impress any better than the 2003 instalment. We get to witness the introduction of Hulk’s deadly enemy Abomination, who also fails to hype up the tempo. It looks the producers were never interested to take this hulk movie franchise further, and only attempted to reboot the character to appear as part of the The Avengers Movie planned in the coming years. A fact justified by Tony Star (aka Iron Man) making his presence again at the end credits.
Wall-E (Jun 27, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 4/5 >>
Finally a strong contender for the years best Animation movie award, from the famed Pixar Studios (Toy Story, Finding Nemo, Ratatouille). Wall-E simply shakes us out of our irregular life style of dumping and littering our neighbourhood, ultimately destroying the planet. The scene opens up with a deserted Earth, which has now been reduced to piles and piles of garbage, effectively prompting the Humans to leave it for a search among the stars for a better place to live. But, they forgot to switch off one last robot meant to clear up the Waste, which goes about its task everyday as instructed. In the process it meets its love of life in form of a new generation Robot, aptly named EVE.
What we get to witness is then a romantic interlude among these unrelated machines, and a race against time to bring the humans back to earth. The fact that the half of the movie from the opening scene didn’t feature any dialogues, but still managed to sweep us off our feet, is a testament to the legacy set by Pixar’s animations. Some of the scenes depicted as future humans turning to a lazy chunk of pile, seems to represent partly on our current life style. Pixar’s animations have a richness associated with its work, and it is no lesser witnessed in Wall-E, which is said to the be the costliest movie ever produced by the Studios till date. No wonder, Wall-E finds itself being nominated in various award categories in different film festivals.
Wanted (Jun 27, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2.5/5 >>
The first comic series based movie franchise of the year, which is not from the famed Marvel. Wanted was originally a Comic Series written by Mark Millar (Ultimate series fame), and published in Top Cow (a comic publishing company started by creators to own their work and related licensing). It follows a young executive who suddenly finds that he is a successor to the secret cult of 1000 year old Super-able assassins cult, and he should either be part of them, or see they turn against him. Even though the plot had all the ingredients for a successful movie franchise, the resultant movie is a great failure to the original concept.
The movie even though featuring a strong cast with the likes of Angelina Jolie and Morgan Freeman, failed to live up to its hype. Often losing its way in the screenplay, and a struggling actor in its lead character. The only bright spot in the movie is Slow-Motion Fast paced action sequences, and an ever beaming Jolie, with some bare-dare acts ;).
That completes our first part in this 2008 Comic/Animation based movies review. The second part to this mini-series is also online now. If you liked the post, why don’t you leave your comments and reviews about this topic and the movies discussed in this post in the section below? I would be eager to read them.