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Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Movies. Show all posts

May 30, 2009

Paradox - A History of Violence | 1997

All the election fever which was going around in the country for the last few months, have finally come to a sweet end, with India Inc. decisively voting in Elections 2009 for a stable government at the centre. Let’s hope that the momentum shows enough strength in revitalizing the economic fortunes of the country, which took a beating, undoubtedly, by the global financial slowdown.

Iznogoud Mini At Comicology, our recent post on Iznogoud with a complete account of his Indian presence, has garnered enough interest among comikers. Being an Iznogoud fan myself, there is no joy abound then sharing all the info about one of the famous antagonists in Comics, with like minded people.

Rest assured that, with the list of Iznogoud titles published by Lion Comics, and the ones planned by
Euro Books and CineBook, may mean that this is only a start to the avalanche of posts reviewing the titles featuring this legendary Franco-Belgian comic character over here at Comicology. Stay Tuned, Comikers.

The topic for the current post, is a follow-up on the works of John Wagner, about whom we saw more during our Mehta Comics debut post, here.

Paradox – A History of Violence (1997)
ISBN: 1-56389-367-3 | Pg:300 | TPB | Size: B6
$9.95 / INR 125 (in India on Back-Issue sale)

This time around it is about his first ever works in form of a Graphic Novel, as quoted in there.

Small town Michigan wears a calm LookSo without further adieu, let’s move on to this issue, Cover-art of which is sure to turn-on anyone towards exploring it.

Life is moving at their slowest best, in one of the evening in a small town near down-town Michigan. Mild-mannered Tom McKenna appears serving his last regular customer, Bessy, at his soda-shop.

Hitchickers are Brutaly MurderedThe door bells cling, as the two disturbing figures enter the shop with a demonic freezed looks.

The trouble makers were just shown leaving a blood trail on the way to the town, by killing two hitchhikers cold-bloodedly for money. So, their intentions were pre-told as they enter the unsuspecting town locality.

Duo demands their CoffeeWithout heeding to McKenna’s advice that he is closing, they demand their Coffee. The premonition of trouble, thrusts McKenna to wrap up his customers, and serve the duo before he brings down the shutters. McKenna was wise enough in deciding to send his daughter Ellie, to tag along with Bessy, for home bound.

McKenna attacks the Trouble-doersHaving cornered McKenna alone, the duo threaten to deprive him off his life and money. Just when they thought that they have managed to make some free-lunch, they are shocked by the swift attacks McKenna manages to throw, in the process killing one and brutally injuring other.

A Natonal Hero is Born The next day, papers across country flash the news of the unlikely hero who courageously made his stand, helping to capture the mischief-makers. McKenna and his family suddenly receives huge fanfare and attraction. But McKenna is shown growing in concern, as he mysteriously starts fearing that the increased limelight may only bring more trouble.

Torrino confronts McKenna His fear turns to reality as the incident draws three more strangers to the isolated town, one of them an elderly man named Johnny Torrino. Dressed in Gentleman suits, the trio starts stalking McKenna and his family.

Torrino shows his brute strengthTorrino, who sports scarred face with an missing eye, confronts McKenna in his shop, quizzing about a long-lost kid from New York, named Joey Muni, who had left something with him: A cut finger, which hangs in a capsule on the neck of Torrino. A sight of which brings shivers down McKenna’s whole body. McKenna’s wife Edie, comes to help, as she quickly pushes out the trio, warning them of police action if they every trouble them again.

Back at their hideout, the trio confronts between themselves, as the younger sect believe that they mistook McKenna for someone else. But, they are soon silenced by the raging Torrino, The warring party arrives at Tom's placewho seems to have more power than his deputy’s, even at his old age. Feared by his anger, the trio decide to follow McKenna, even setting aside the warning they get from the Sheriff of the locality.

Tom confronts Torrino & Co After a lot of run-down of frequent visits, and anonymous telephone threats, Torrino, finally consoles himself that he may have a mistaken in identifying his man. But just as they were making it back out of the town, Torrino encounters McKenna’s younger son, Frank.

The resemblance of his face with his father’s, was enough for Torrino, to confirm his assumption, which sees him abducting Frank, and landing outside McKenna’s home. Torrino warns McKenna that he has finally found out his real identity, and it is time he comes out and gives himself up, or see his family massacred just before his eyes.

Joey and Richie ponder over their plans The resultant gun-shots and edge-of-the seat action, is sure to bring a chill running down your spine, as the Chapter 1: “A Small Town Killing” comes to a close on this Graphic Novel, which details how someone’s past life can come Richie faces his worst nightmareback to haunt him even if he desires to drive away from it. As they say, when you play and live life hard, then you have got to pay the price.

What did Joey do in his young age which has brought such hell to his new home, is detailed in the Chapter 2: “The Brooklyn Murders”, as it chronicles the life and trouble of two teenage friends, Joey and Richie who play hard, and use the shortcuts in life to earn quick money and fame, which sees them go separate ways.

After seeing that their is huge cash being circulated in the locality, Richie decides to steal some out from them, which was also to avenge his brother’s murder by the goons. Along with the reluctant Joey, the duo manage to make a run-down with local mobs, in a swift cloaked attack, and leave them bruised and killed, and having drained them of their booty, expectedly leaving them seeking for revenge.

Torrino corners young Joey/TomBut, Richie’s attitude of flashing his money all over, draws the attention of the mob leaders in the locality, who hand-pick him for slaughter. The trails leads up to Joey, as he makes a run for his life, followed closely by the underground mobs.

The scenes where he confronts Torrino, in an alley, and the resultant fight where he takes an eye-out of Torrino with a barb-wire, can’t be expressed in mere words. Incidentally, the talented artist did the same in those pages for us.

Joey gets a call from a dead manThe life comes back to present day, as Joey now in his new life as Tom, tries to mend the evil seeds from his past, as he reappears in the city which changed his life for the worst, as Chapter 3: “With Evil Intent”, closes this 300 page epic Graphic Novel titled, aptly as A History of Violence, and carries the same weapons used significantly throughout the novel on its cover.

As witnessed throughout in the graphic novel, It has surprise twists at the end too, as Joey receives a chilling phone call from his supposedly murdered cohort Richie, and the last scenes where he encounters his worst nightmare, is one to take the readers to witness a whole new level of evil incarnation, which is an embodiment of a evil man’s inner self.

Overall, HOV is a Graphic Novel to remember for long, at least for me.

John WagnerJohn Wagner, who wrote “A History of Violence (HOV)” graphic novel, was eventually his first attempt to establish himself among the bigger league in American Comics Industry. He was ably assisted by Vince Locke, who with his unique line-artwork was able to recite the dark and noir nature of the graphic novel and its intrigued plot, a fact acknowledged by Wagner himself in his Preface on the Graphic Novel.

Vince Locke (c) We have seen enough in detail about John Wagner, during our Monster review post over here, so let’s look briefly at the other creative genius behind this graphic novel, the American comic books artist, Vince Locke, whose expressive style of bringing the emotions of the characters in his artwork, formed a great combination along with Wagner’s writing style.

Vince Lockes Artwork on CCorpse-DVD Locke came to in prominence in 1986 during his work as the artist for the underground hit series Deadworld, which was a zombie horror comic set in post-apocalyptic world. Though the series was short-lived due to frequent ownership changes, Locke was one of the main-stay, during which the series achieved a cult status.

Buoyed by the success, Locke, soon contributed as an artist for the some of the famous comic series, including The Sandman, American Freak, Batman, Witchcraft, and eventually tagging along with Wagner in this memorable graphic novel, HOV.

You could read more about Locke’s work on his official site, who is currently busy with his artwork contribution to many a Role Playing Games (RPGs), an area where he would flourish for his noir-touch mixed artwork style, and a taste towards using watercolours heavily in his art-frames. Some of the images in his site was as scarry as it can get, for which a sample is given over here. So, it is not for the light-hearted :).

The idea of the Graphic Novel, HOV, came when Paradox Press Editor Andrew Helfer met Wagner in Scotland during a convention circa 1995. They have had prior stints of working together in various publications, before Helfer joined Paradox, which is a low-cost trade imprint of DC Comics, which was setup to concentrate on real-life stories, and drive away from the superhero theme adopted by DC.

So as per their established standard Helfer asked Wagner, to drive away from his Superhero works on 2000 AD series, and concentrate on providing something which involves Real stories with Real people. Wagner, accepted that challenge, and came up with an initial proposal which looked lot more similar to his other work on Button Man comic series. No need to say that Helfer rejected that concept, asking for more humanish characters.

History Of Violence (Vertigo Version) After another two years of hard-work, Wagner finally came back with the story which eventually found its place in History of Violence graphic novel, making it one of the memorable novels to hit the stands under Paradox Press brand.

But, due to the low cost mantra, and content, Paradox never really achieved its due credit in the American market, which greatly affected the talented work of John Wagner to go places. Wagner is still restricted to his work on 2000 AD, with his works on his world famous creation, Judge Dredd.

But HOV, as stated before, was one of the best selling novels released by Paradox, so when Paradox was wounded up due to low sales, the series was reprinted in DC’s another trade imprint Vertigo. By this time, talks were on about making a movie based on the graphic novel, and when it was reprinted again, the covers widely published this news, as seen above. Also note the subtle change in the cover-art, to hide the suspense of the graphic novel, and leave it for the movie to open-up.

History of ViolenceA History of Violence (2005): It’s a premonition that not all great graphic novels get their due recognition, when adopted into mainstream movies, a fact agreed among many comics fans. But the 2005 movie, for which the central plot was adapted from the History of Violence graphic novel, sure deserves mention in our HOV review post here at Comicology.

The Movie was directed by David Cronenberg, and had a mega star cast like Viggo Mortensen (famous for his role as Aragorn in Lord of the Rings Trilogy, as Tom/Joey), Maria Bello (seen recently in Mummy 3, as Eddie),
Ed Harris (the multi-talented actor-director-writer as Torrino, or Carl Fogarty in the Movie), and William Hurt (as Richie), with all contributing equally to the success of the movie.

The Opening of the movie, with calmly looking duo, slowly moving past a Motel, leaving a blood trail, is sure to have caught the attention of all movie lovers. Especially considering that there was no background score for more than 5 minutes from the start during this scene enactment.

More importantly Ed Harris’s still and scary slow-paced acting (he was undoubtedly the perfect choice for graphic novel’s Torrino’s character), and Mortensen’s renditions of a frightened man trying to save his present being haunted by his past. Bello’s acting ably assists in bringing out the character of a worrying and supporting wife through his husband’s struggle to take control of his sagging life.

The scenes were Harris and his goons, stalk Mortensen’s family were shot with a unique blend of suspense and thrill, which is sure to bring many a comic fan’s dream of seeing a movie made out of a graphic novel with all its essence, maintained at the same level as the Original. Top of the pick is the shopping-mall and house invasion scenes.

Cronenberg was the right choice to direct this venture, as he has the speciality to make movies with themes ranging in the darker aspects of human emotions and behaviours (who can forget the Sci-Fi movie, The Fly), and the plot of HOV was virtually his playground. Josh Olsen who adapted the Screenplay based on the Novel, also contributed to twists and scenario changes to make the movie interesting and packed for the 80 Minutes run-time, meaning it was meant to cut the past reciting witnessed in Chapter 2 of the Graphic Novel.

Tom confronts the thugs at the Diner (A Scene from HOV)It should not be forgotten, that the success of the movie also derives heavily from the reciting of Wagner and Locke in their graphic novel, which contributed heavily to the screenplay in many parts of the movie, which propelled it to a blockbuster of success, and landing William Hurt and Josh Olsen for Oscar award nominations as the Best Supporting Actor, and Best Adapted Screenplay, respectively.

Eventhough, the movie at many its places moves through the mum-scene way of story-telling, there were instances of genius in dialogues, when an opportunity was available. Two of the areas, which I felt touched where:

When, confronting with his son, who just broke out of a fist-fight at school

Tom: In this family, we do not solve our problems by hitting people!
Jack: No, in this family, we shoot them!

When, an irate Eddie after knowing of Tom's past life, quizzes about the choice of his last name - Stall

Tony: It was available.
Eddie: I guess I was available, too.

The climax of the movie is altered from its Graphic Novel counterpart, as that scene was too a risky proposition to have passed through movie censorship (if at all, there is one such in United States :)). But, looking at it from the movie point of view, the climax looked like a better fit. The movie ends with a silent dinner scene involving Tom’s family, which leaves viewers to diffuse whether they stayed together or not, after all that has gone through. All credit goes to the director and screenplay writer, for delivering such a power-packed movie.

Tom Stall & Eddie (A Scene from HOV) Apart from that, there were little-over dose of sexual romance scenes of Mortensen and Bello, which could have been avoided. But hey, aren’t we talking about a Hollywood movie? so it is well within expectations, as many would agree :). Not a movie to watch with your family for sure :).

Thus we come to the end of another review post, which featured one of the unique Graphic Novels I read in recent times. Thanks mainly to the Back-Issue title release, as a result of Paradox’s closure, through which this particular issue was available in India at a throw-away price. I wouldn’t have spent $10 to buy this comic for sure :).

Also to be noted here, that I should admit that, “Lover of Dreams” Shankar Visvalingam’s recent review post (in Tamil) on a graphic novel titled, From Hell, which was based on the notorious Jack the Ripper character; was instrumental in me getting down to read through this novel. The reason, I generally despise those comics, which have a noir style of artwork, but still doesn’t classify in the standards laid out in the present comics world.

But Shankar’s post made me realize that artwork has to more importantly resemble the plot for which it is drawn, yet maintaining a style of its own, and in that way A History of Violence was truly up-to-the mark.

With that note, I will conclude this post, and would be eager to read your comments on the graphic novel, and this review post in whole. And by the way, if you get a chance, to grab this copy, do not miss the opportunity to own an item which certainly deserves to be there in your collection. Have a Great and Enjoyable Weekend, ComikersAdios Amigos !

Jan 17, 2009

2008 Comics/Animation Movies Round-Up – II

The recent post on Year End Movies Review Part 1 was well-received among Comicologists, where we chose to review only the movies which were based or inspired by Comics, coupled with the Animation, which is considered its sub-genre.  Thanks for all those who responded to the post, and my reply to the comments could be found at the end of the same.  If you haven’t read that post, then I strongly recommend you to read that before proceeding on with this instalment.

Let’s quickly wrap-up our second and concluding post to this 2008 Movies Round-Up.  Again, they are sequenced based on their their US release date.

HellBoy 2008HellBoy 2: The Golden Army (July 11, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>

Hellboy 2, is the sequel to 2004 film, which were both directed by Guillermo del Toro (who is known as the Three Amigos of famed Mexican line-up.  It is said that Ron Perlman, who is usually known for his negative roles, was the first-choice of the director and producer duo, right from the time the movie was originally conceptualized.  There is no doubt that their choice was a master-stroke, as the Hellboy character suits well to his huge size, which makes him more aligned to the character plot.  I didn’t like the first instalment of HellBoy film franchise (which was more an intro into Paranormal Research organization, and an overdose of Nazi desertions and mad scientists), but I should admit the 2nd version was one of the best creative work filled film.

hellboy2-elementalYou should see that to experience the thought Provoking Character Designs (Tooth Fairies, Abe Sapien, Krauss, Forest God, etc.), Costumes, Artwork, and finally the self-repairing Golden Army at the climax.  Particularly, The scene where Hellboy confronts the gigantic Forest God, and the resultant dialogues with evil Prince Nuada, while he contemplates ending the last one of its race, or be spectator to the massacre of innocent earthlings.  A touching scene to say the least.  (Thanks to fellow Comicologists ShankarV, Viswa and Josh for reminding me of this scene)

A total visual treat, and a little effort on the plot could have made wonders.  But then wasn’t this a comics fantasy movie, so that seems to be on the expected lines.  It is said that the movie plot was totally written anew, rather than relying on any comics storylines released so far.  That’s definitely a change from the 1st instalment.

I wonder what effort Perlman, would have gone through with the heavy masked layer on him, to depict the Hellboy’s demonic looks.  He seems to have been gung-ho about these characters with his past movies around on Beauty and Beast, Island of Dr.Moreu, which had similar heavy make-up for him.

The movie is intriguely set for final sequel of the Trilogy as originally planned by Del Toro, with the Hellboy’s love-mate expressing that they would be expecting twins.  I wonder how would they look like (Hell & Fire combination) in the 3rd instalment which is yet in discussions

Hellboy was a fictional comic character created by Mike Mignolio (who is also the co-writer of the movie franchise), which is one among the very few characters with a plot-work involving the dark concept of Hell. After being shunned out by the DC for the same reason, Mignolio launched it as a creator owned comics venture with Dark Horse. Wouldn’t he be considering it as a blessing in disguise, as it is now one of the very few comic based movie ventures not backed by the Big Two: DC & Marvel.  I was never a big fan of this comic series, now the movie franchise, has tempted me for the same.

I had to revisit my reviews for this movie, since my fellow Comicologists had requested this be considered in equals to one of the classic fantasy tales, and I must admit that my rating was little lesser to the quality which was in offer.  Hence the new update in the review and further ratings point, then the original.

Batman 2008The Dark Knight (Jul 18, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 5/5 >>

Clearly, the run-away favourite for all the masses, and the biggest hit of 2008 among all genre Movies.  This sequel to the new Batman move franchise (rebooted with 2005’s Batman Begins), directed and co-written by the incredibly talented Christopher Nolan, redefined and set high standards for all Comic based movies for the present and future.  Batman faces his biggest arch-nemesis Joker in this dark-sinister suspense thriller, which is breath-taking from the start to finish.  Character plot-work, action sequences, technical gizmos, this is a movie which will make any Batman comic fan proud.  Thanks to Nolan Brothers.

The stunning climax scene, where the Good’s and Bad’s of the society are pitted against each other, with their fate lying on the opposite camp (a switched remote detonator on either side of the ships), is wonderfully scripted.  The result is the slap in the face of the so called Gentlemen of the higher society.  The ending scene with Batman taking up the blame for all the Incidents, to save the hero face of the villain turned Harvey Dent, has nicely setup the next movie instalment, with Batman now being termed as a Fugitive.  It is best exhibited as conveyed by Commissioner Gordon, as an ending note (also adding to the movie title):

“He's a silent guardian, a watchful protector. A Dark Knight."

No wonder you find much of the Quotes from the film in our “Comic-Quotes” Section in the sidebar of Comicology.  I am planning to move them to a separate archive page for ready quick reference.

You talk about the Batman Movie and it will be a sin if you forget the contribution of Heath Ledger.  It can be clearly noted that more than protagonist Christian Bale as Batman, Ledger outperforms everyone (including a scary looking Two-Face) with his portrayal of Joker, ironically in his last act.  No wonder, he is tipped for a posthumous Oscar award for the Best Supporting Role.  He deserves that for sure.

The DC owned Batman character, originally created by Bob Kane, is considered one of its two flagship comic characters along with Superman.  It’s popularity is only rivalled by the Marvel’s Spiderman, who have traditionally held the upper hand in the comics based movie franchises, ever since DC stepped back with their Superman movie franchise (heavily due to the Christopher Reeve’s accident), and their repeated box-office failures with the badly made Batman movie franchise.  But with Batman: The Dark Knight, they have recaptured their past dominance, just in time when Marvel were pitching for their Avenger Movie launch.  So we are in for a great battle between DC & Marvel, this time to be witnessed in the Movie Industry.

Space Chimps 2008Space Chimps (Jul 18, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>

A movie from the little know production house, called Vanguard Animation.  It talks about a set of Space Chimpanzees who are lead on a space mission, by the reluctant grandson of the first Chimpanzee on space, where they put an end to an tyrant in a distant world.  Not much could be said on the movie plot, as it has few glimpses to have been based on the Planet of Apes movie franchise, but fails on the execution of it.  For the sheer reason, of being their first international release, it makes up the list barely.  The production house seems to have got rewarded with a sizeable profit, mainly due to the low production cost associated with the venture.

X-Files 2008 X-Files: I Want to Believe (Jul 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>

It’s another comeback movie franchise in the house, in form of X-Files (inspired by the 90’s hit TV series X-Files.  The last film was released in 1998, even though the 9th and last TV series aired until 2002.  The stars from the TV series, David Duchovny (looks rather old for the lead role) and Gillian Anderson (surprisingly still good-looking) make their appearance again to boost up the movie star cast.  But, unlike the earlier movie this doesn’t follow the extra-terrestrial theme for which the Original X-Files series is known for.  Instead it follows the age-old theme of horror/thriller, and it even dwindles at the level of basing the plot on the self-proclaimed messenger of god, to unravel the mystery.

I didn’t follow the TV series, but I should point out that the first movie was actually good.  The second instalment is surely a let-down, and I wonder why they took 6 years to devise a plot for this failed attempt. 

Reason for this movie in our list: Little known Topps Comics released few comic sets during TV series prime, which unsurprisingly remains their only significant comic releases ever.

Mummy 2008Mummy: Tomb of the Dragon Empire (Aug 1, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

The failed attempt for rebooting forgotten movie franchise continues, with the latest addition being the ever-famous Mummy movie series.  Eventhough they were greatly put down by the critics, I had liked the the first 3 movie instalments, which as per me where a visual treat.  They brought the Golden genre of the mysterious Egyptian civilization through breathtaking virtual reality.  But the latest movie comes out of its original theme, by moving over to Chinese Terracotta Warriors and lost prince.  It seems the creators wanted to hit jackpot, by casting Jet Lee, but like his numerous Hollywood attempts, this is another failed attempt for him.

Another failure in this movie franchise, is the non-appearance of incredibly beautiful Rachel Weisz to reprise her character.  Instead another unknown face Maria Bello makes up the number with, a certainly old looking, Brendan Fraser. It is said that Weisz opted out due to the storyline featuring her in as middle-aged women, and setting up for a motherly role in future movie series.  A Wise decision, as I like many others wouldn’t want to see her in that state :).  Maria does show her credentials in few fighting sequences, but she can never match up to Weisz’s popularity.

It should have got only 1.5 in our rating, but scores a extra fraction due to its stunning visual effects (even though they are a touch lesser than the standards set in the 3 prequels).  Talks are ripe that the movie is actually being rebooted with Jr. Connel taking the lead role in the future instalments.  Hopefully they will be better and newer than the 2008 instalment.

Reason for our listing: IDW Publishing has released some comic sets based on Rick O’ Connel’s character in 2008.

Igor 2008Igor (Sep 19, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

A different plot with the lead character portrayed as the strangely looking Igor (ones with hunchbacks), who were long portrayed in many movie genres as an understudy to some evil maniac.  In a village dominated by the Evil Scientists, who rule supreme with their frightening machines, Igor's are considered and treated as their under-study and lower cast.  One Igor, who is incredibly talented aspires to be the Greatest Evil Scientist, and the plot takes us through the oppressions and his struggle in his quest.  Eventhough it’s wonderfully animated (from the new film group Exodus) it fails largely on the plot-work.  The fact that it is an attempt from a lesser known animated group, also made it a prime candidate for lesser acceptance and publicity.

Roadside Romeo 2008 Roadside Romeo (Oct 23, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

The first Bollywood based international animation movie to have ever released, co-produced by Yash Raj Films and Walt Disney Studios.  The movie even though boasting of a superior animation (mainly because of WD involvement, and hard work of 2 years) failed to reach the same stardom of its partner.  The plot is nothing better from a Bollywood love story, which the first-time director Jugal Hansraj, tried to imitate in animation industry.  The result when you try to combine a theory from one genre to another without significantly tweaking it to fit the target market, is here to see with the box-office failure of the film.

Bollywood’s Real-life Love Couple  Saif Ali Khan, and Kareena Kapoor have lent their voice to the movie, but it seems their combination taboo made their effect on this movie too, like their other Bollywood films.  It enjoys a rating of 2, for the simple reason that it is the first ever Indian International venture in animation industry. 

Fellow Comicologist Siv, had recently blogged about a comic adaptation for this movie in his blog here.  I am planning to do a further post on Indian Comics based on Movies, so we will have more details on to that sooner at Comicology.  Stay Tuned.

Madagascar 2008 Madagascar: Escape 2 Africa (Nov 7, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3/5 >>

It’s a sequel to the hit and much critically acclaimed 2005 animated film.  It continues the story of the Zoo escaped Lion, Hippo, Zebra, and Giraffe, all known by their human names than their race.  The fact that it comes out of the DreamWorks studio, says more about the stunning animation as witnessed in every frame of the Movie.  It picks up from the 1st instalment, where the animals actually decide to move back to their captured life, but crash-land in central Africa, finding their own species.  Now, it’s decision time again for our favourite folks.  The Forest life is incredibly brought before our eyes, with wonderful combination of colours, and our title heroes comical activities makes it for an interesting watch.  Certainly a must see for all animation movie lovers.

QOS Bond 2008 Quantum of Solace (Nov 14, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

Incidentally, the most anticipated movie of 2008, which ironically was also the most disappointing comics movie franchise of the year.  Daniel Craig reprises his Secret agent role in 22nd James Bond Movie franchise.  Unlike the earlier movies which always are stand-alone versions, this movie is actually a follow-up/sequel to the 2005 Casino Royale, where Craig made his stunning debut as James Bond.  Bond sets up about on the task of avenging those who were behind the killing of her lady-love in 21st Bond Movie.  What we get to witness are Betrayals, and Pure adrenaline action, where James Bond even forgets to deliver his punch-line: “My name is Bond, James Bond”.  

The one bright spot of the movie was Olga Kurylenko, who seems to be the first-choice for all animation/comics based movie as witnessed in recent times (2007’s Hitman, & 2008’s Max Payne).  Surprisingly we don’t get to see a romantic interlude between her and Bond in this movie, as common among the so called “bond girls”.  Another new style being adopted Craig’s Bond Movies (but, nevertheless, we have another Bond-Girl in the movie ;) ).  One more unique feature is that, this is the first ever Bond Movie (or maybe any other movie) to have made its release in India, even before it was released in North America.  Doesn’t it make we Indians proud enough, and it seems India is considered a bigger movie market then how it was treated with 2nd, 3d rate Hollywood movies hitting the theatres years back :).

Despite the storyline, Daniel Craig impresses in his stylish act, and he is obviously the most ably fit actor ever to have praised the James Bond character. I can only laugh at the initial critics who were so crazy over his selection for Bond, just for the simple reason that he was a Blonde.  I hope they would have got their answers.

With that said, I would love to give it even worst rating, but the action sequences, and the intention of the newly formed Bond team to set this movie different from the earlier instalments, managed to eek out this rating at Comicology.  Let’s see what they make up with their next movie planned for 2011.

You don’t need any introduction to James Bond  when it comes to comics.  Classical comics enthusiasts (or Comicologists as we term them over here at Comicology) would remember the legendary comic-strips from UK’s Newspaper media.  We are going to have a long line-up of these Comics review as we go down dissecting the James Bond Comics released by erstwhile Rani Comics, shortly.

Bolt 2008 Bolt (Nov 21, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 3.5/5 >>

Walt Disney animation Company launched its 48th theatrical animated feature (the Roadside Romeo doesn’t count because it’s billed from the Indian based Yash Raj Films), to the industry they revolutionized, in the form of Bolt.  The film is strengthened by media heavyweights like John Travolta, and Miley Cyrus lending their voice to the lead characters.

The plot revolves around a white dog named Bolt, which is grown from a pub with the image of a super powered dog. But it was a myth as the production crew were hosting a live program of events featuring Bolt. A supposedly accident, drives Bolt out of its comfort zone to the reality of outside world. The rest of the movie features Bolt going on a cross-country tour to see its companion, who is supposedly has deserted him for another dog, replacing him in his live serial.  The film has so far received 85% approval on Rotten Tomatoes, for all the credit the movie deserves.

Punisher 2008Punisher: War Zone (Dec 5, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 1.5/5 >>

The movie reboot doesn’t seem to be stopping, with 2004’s Punisher movie in the frame this time.  Marvel comes back to re-launch another of there never-ending comic heroes into movie.  This reboot is unique in the sense that it is the only franchise, which has been re-booted for the second time in row.  Comicologists would remember that the 2004 film, was actually a reboot to the 1989’s original movie.  Isn’t this a new trend.

But, it must be said that they are yet to achieve the popularity and acclaim they received for their Spiderman series.  The initial reviews about this movie also seems to be pretty disappointing.

Punisher is one of my favourite characters in the Marvel Comics, as he is the one who is human (and not those super freaks), and is only driven by his rage towards putting an end to the growing crime in the neighbourhood.  A hero everyone of us aspire to become, deep in our self.  The new creative team, cast makes for an interesting watch, but failed miserably in terms of plot and execution. The character of Punisher deserved more.

Spirit 2008 The Spirit (Dec 25, 2008) << Comicology Rating: 2/5 >>

Will Eisner’s famous comics character The Spirit, which was originally created in 1940s, finally made it’s way to the mainstream media; with the ‘300’, ‘Sin City’, ‘Dark Knight Returns’ series fame Frank Miller donning the Directorial duties for a change.  Obviously inspired by his earliest directorial debut, with the critically acclaimed Sin City Movie adaptation.  But it should be noted that he was then assisted by a two more able directors.  Overall, I didn’t like the movie a bit, which was often slipping in screenplay and direction at various scenes.

Movie-critics and followers, it’s a failed attempt, and one which shows the great character of Eisner in poor light (a fact strengthened by the personal account of Love of Dreams ShankarV).  It looks Frank Miller should have stayed on with the job which he does best, which is comic book writing, and artist.

That completes our 2008 Movies Round-Up. Overall, 2008 was an eventual year, with so many comic based movies hitting the theatres, and many garnering critical acclaim. 

There were even some other movies which had comical relationships, but weren’t based on any Comics for actual say, hence weren’t covered in our year end movie review posts;

Like SuperHero Movie (a shoot comedy on Comic based Movies) Hancock (billed as Redefining the Summer of Super Heroes), and Max Payne (from the famous video game; Original inventor of Bullet time effect, but was actually revolutionized through Matrix Trilogy).  But, we aren’t missing anything, as they are sloppy ones to say the least.

So with the ratings it might clearly show what could probably be my Top 3 Best Movies of 2008.  But just to reiterate the same, here they are:

        1. Batman: The Dark Knight
        2. Wall-E
        3. Iron Man

2009 promises to be even better, with the announcement of Watchmen, X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Whiteout slated in for the year.  We will have a complete review of these movies at Comicology when they hit the theatres.  So, stay tuned for more.

I hope you liked Comicology’s complete account of Comic and Animation based Movies round-up of 2008, spread over 2 lengthy posts.  If yes, why not share your views on the same, for which you could use the Comment Section below.  I would be eager to read them.

And before I close, Wish every Comicologists a Happy Pongal, which is now also considered as Tamil New Year.  While many fellow Comicologists decided to have a special post for the event, I believe every post at Comicology is special enough to be among the list :).  Happy Reading and Watching, and I will be back with another post very shortly.

Jan 5, 2009

2008 Comics/Animation Movies Round-Up – I

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 2008 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 2008 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 2008 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 2008Iron 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 2008Speed 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 2008 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 2008 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 2008Incredible 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 2008 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 2008 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 ;).

[Concluded on Round-Up II]

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.


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