Wednesday, April 29, 2009

Comic Book Movies

The Summer movies are when the big budget eye popping special effects movies come out. More often than not they aren't satisfying movies. I would have to rate the Lord Of the Rings trilogy as the best SFX movies ever. It's just a great movie in all areas of acting, directing, sets, design, costumes, etc; and it wasn't a summer movie. The LOTR movies were released in the Christmas season. The summer extravaganza begins May 1 with "X-Men Origins: Wolverine".

There are not many comic book movies that would make the great movies list. I enjoyed "Iron Man" quite a bit, but that was because of Robert Downey Jr. He's a marvelous actor and he carried this movie by virtue of his prodigious talent. The story and SFX were good but Jeff Bridges as the bald headed villain was just silly. I really don't have a desire to watch the movie again which is the main criteria for any film to be on my favorites list. The recent Batman movies were very good and well made. I enjoyed watching them when I saw them but not really interested in watching them again anytime soon.

Superman II with Chris Reeve is the only comic book movie I have ever watched several times. Then there are the Spider-Man movies. I have seen Spider-Man 1 twice and consider to be far and away the best of the three movies. Interestingly, I have the DVD set of the tv series "Adventures of Superman" I have seen all of the episodes numerous times. I enjoy the George Reeves rendition of the "man of steel" immensely which will be the subject of a future post. Not that it's great theatre but super-heroes presented in a 30 minute format seems to work best.

I plan on seeing Wolverine and expect it to be a pleasant movie going experience. I also expect it to be immediately forgettable.

UPDATE! After going to Origins: Wolverine with pretty low expectations, I am happy to say I wasn't dissapointed that I actually thought this was a pretty good movie. Hugh Jackman and Liev Schreiber were very good as Wolverine and Sabretooth. The film was much better, in my view, than the trashing it is getting from the critics. It gets a 38% fresh rating at It seems the chief knock on the movie is that it panders too much to X-Men fanboys and doesn't develop enough backstory on why we should care about what happens to this mutant named Wolverine. If I had come into the theater with no idea who Wolverine was I might have cared (but I doubt it) why Wolverine is called Jimmy by his brother and Logan by everybody else (this was an actual complaint from one critic that I read). Well, so be it then. I really don't care what the snobby critics think. Critics often only review movies for each other; or, for people like themselves, and not for the average movie goer. I've never been much of an X-Men fan but I knew enough about the character to think that the film captured his and co-mutants essence pretty well.

Does this mean I will watch the film more than once? Probably not...unless I happen to come across it on cable one of these days.

Tuesday, April 14, 2009

The Beatles in the comics.

Growing up in the 60's meant that you saw the Beatles in many publications not the least of which were comic books. I'm not going to talk about comics that were one shot issues that were produced specifically to feature the Beatles. Naturally the DC and Marvel romance comics would have an issue where the Beatles were mentioned as a back drop to some soap opera plot. In fact one of the harder romance comics to find in upper grade condition is "Girls' Romances" #109 from 1965. Beatlemania was in full swing with the Fabs on the cover which is drawn by Gene Colan. Colan went on to much greater heights as a fan favorite drawing superheroes "Daredevil", "Iron Man", "Sub-Mariner", "Dracula", and"Batman", and he does a nice rendering here of the Beatles on the cover.

The Beatles also made appearances in the mainstream silver age superhero comics which were usually quite amusing. Displaying the hipness that would eventually make Stan Lee and Marvel the number one comics company, "Strange Tales" #130, feature the Beatles in a March 1965 issue. The cover shows the Thing and the Human Torch hilariously wearing Beatle wigs. The Thing and The Human Torch are taking their girl friends to see a Beatles concert but have to leave the girls to go and defeat a villain. Bummer man. Stan Lee was definitely one cool cat.

Beating Marvel to the punch though was DC which published "The Red-Headed Beatle of 1,000 B.C." in the Sept 1964 issue of Jimmy Olsen. Jimmy travels back in time and puts on a show for the ancient teenagers with a Beatle haircut and a bongo. Superman being no square himself notes that Jimmy is as popular Ringo.

Obviously, DC felt that Jimmy Olsen being a young cub reporter was able to relate to kids who read comics and were also big Beatle fans. The Beatles are referenced again in "Jimmy Olsen" #88. Superman is doing a twist like shimmy while warbling "YAH YAH YAH".

The most entertaining of all the Beatles references in Superhero comics was in "Batman" #222. This issue has a cover date of June 1970 and came out just as the group was breaking up. The story written by Frank Robbins is a take off on the "Paul is dead" hoax that was perpetrated by a Detroit disc jockey but managed to capture the world's attention. Unlike Paul McCartney who was cut off from the world on his farm in Scotland, which only helped fuel the rumor, and who was innocently unaware of the firestorm; the leader of this comic's fictional band (who were drawn to resemble the Beatles) actually and purposefully planted clues that he was dead and replaced by a doppleganger.