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News Around the Net!

How great is this first trailer for Black Panther?

This looks like a fun new direction for a Marvel film to take.  I hope they really go crazy in exploring this new corner of the Marvel universe.  I loved Creed and I can’t wait to see what director Ryan Coogler has cooked up here.

Speaking of Black Panther, here is an interesting bit of speculation as to whether the same character will be appearing in Black Panther and the upcoming season 2 of Luke Cage, albeit played by different actresses.  I am sad that the Marvel films and TV shows are no longer coordinating the way they had planned to when Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. was first launched.

I am hoping that by the time you read this, I’ll have seen Spider-Man: Homecoming.  In the meanwhile, this is a pretty great video analyzing the reasons Sam Raimi’s first two Spider-Man movies worked, while Marc Webb’s two Amazing Spider-Man movies didn’t:

I don’t agree with every single point in that video, and I think the “Spider-Man as Jesus” bit in Spider-Man 2 is one of the film’s few off-notes, but for the most part this video hits the nail right on the head.

Oh man, it looks like What We Left Behind, the Kickstarter-funded Deep Space Nine documentary, is really coming together.  I can’t wait to see the finished product!

Sic Transit Vir (B5 fans get the reference): Sad news of the passing of actor Stephen Furst, who played Vir on Babylon 5 and Flounder in Animal House.  This article is a wonderful salute to Mr. Furst’s great work on B5, and here is B5 creator J. Michael Staczynski’s lament for the far-too-long list of B5 cast members who have passed away, all of whom are missed.

This oral history of Austin Powers is a great read and a fun look back at a film that I used to truly love.  (I haven’t seen any of the Austin Powers films in YEARS, but this article makes me want to revisit at least the first one…)

Is Robotech the greatest love story of the 20th century?  As a kid who first saw Robotech at exactly the right age to fall in love with it, I can get behind this idea!

I loved the first season of Vice Principals, and so I cannot wait for the show’s second (and apparently final) season to air:

James Cameron’s Terminator 2 is being released back to theatres?  I am in!!  I don’t need the 3D conversion, but any excuse to see this great film back on the big screen is very exciting.  Can’t wait:

I lost a decent amount of time exploring … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Teen Titans: The Judas Contract

Teen Titans: The Judas Contract is the latest DC Animated direct-to-DVD/blu-ray film.  It adapts the famous Judas Contract story-line by Marv Wolfman and George Perez from The New Teen Titans in 1984.  In the early eighties, Wolfman and Perez’s Teen Titans was an enormous smash hit for DC Comics, rivaling Marvel’s X-Men in popularity.  The Judas Contract is one of the most well-known stories from the run, in which the young Titan Terra is revealed to have been working with the villain Deathstroke to learn the Titans’ secrets in order to destroy them.

This new animated film is a direct sequel to last year’s Justice League vs. Teen Titans That film introduced this version of the Titans into the “New 52” continuity of the past few years’ worth of DC animated films.  I enjoyed this version of the team introduced in that film, with an amalgam of characters from the classic Wolfman/Perez run (Starfire, Raven, and Beast Boy, with Cyborg and Nightwing making brief appearances) combined with characters from more recent versions (the current Blue Beetle and the Damian Wayne Robin).  Justice League vs. Teen Titans was a loose adaptation of Wolfman and Perez’s Terror of Trigon story, which delved into the origin of the young heroine Raven.  This new film focuses exclusively on the Titans, without feeling the need to shoehorn in the Justice League, and dives directly into The Judas Contract, perhaps the most famous Teen Titans storyline ever.

Overall, I was very satisfied by this adaptation.  When this series of direct-to-DVD/blu-ray animated DC films began a decade ago, The Judas Contract was one of the first storylines that was rumored to be adapted.  But year after year, it never happened.  It’s great to see that, so many years later, this adaptation has finally gotten made, and that it’s far better than most of the other very mediocre recent animated films have been.  This isn’t anywhere as good as the great Bruce Timm/Paul Dini collaborations from years ago, but it’s a solidly entertaining story with good characters and interesting conflict.  The voice cast is great, and the animation is solid if not spectacular.  The film has an adult edge, but it avoids the worst of the juvenile cursing-and-sex masquerading as “sophisticated” elements of the recent DC animated films.  I liked it quite a bit.

The film makes a LOT of changes to the original story, in order to fit it into the continuity of these new DC animated films.  But I was impressed by how faithfully the film stayed to the major beats of the original story.  Most of the best moments from the original story find their way into the movie somehow.  The Judas Contract, as … [continued]

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Josh Reviews Wonder Woman

June 12th, 2017
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Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman is a delight, a thrilling spectacle whose heart is 100% in the right place, focusing on a hero who is fierce and brave, a skilled warrior, who nevertheless prizes loyalty and love above all else.  It’s hard to believe it’s taken so long for a Wonder Woman movie to get made (or for any female super-hero, for that matter, to have an opportunity to headline their own big-budget film) (and no, I’m not forgetting about the dismal Elektra or Catwoman, try though I might).  It’s fantastic that this movie exists, and even more exciting that it’s so great, washing away the stink of Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad.  Yes, the movie has flaws (most notably the lame CGI punch-fest of an ending), but what works far outshines any chinks in the armor.

DC and Warner Brothers, clearly jealous of the success that Marvel Studios has had with their interconnected cinematic universe, tried to jump-start a DC universe with Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad.  Rather than having the patience to introduce their characters one-by-one in their own films, before then building to a crossover film (like Marvel’s The Avengers), Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad threw the audience into an already-existing universe in media res.  Had the films been good, that approach might have been an exciting way to differentiate the DC films from the Marvel ones.  It might have been cool to jump into a DC universe that was already well-underway, with lots of backstory and characters for us to discover.  But sadly, both Batman v. Superman and Suicide Squad stunk, with nonsensical plots and nonexistent characters.  They were also painful in their desperate desire to be “adult.”  It’s interesting to imagine a DC cinematic universe in which Man of Steel had been followed up, not with those two turkeys, but with Patty Jenkins’ Wonder Woman.  The one-two-punch of those films would have left me chomping at the bit to see where the DC universe would go from there.

Wonder Woman has a brief framing sequence that acknowledges the wider DC movie universe, but thankfully the rest of the film is a completely stand-alone story that stands on its own two feet as opposed to being an advertisement for future adventures.  (Part of me wishes even that short framing sequence wasn’t in the film, though I can understand why DC/Warner Brothers wanted it there.)

I applaud whoever had the courage to make this film a period piece, rather than setting it in the modern day.  And setting the film in WWI, rather than WWII, is even better.  This gives the film a flavor and texture that differentiates it from so many … [continued]

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News Around the Net

“There’s always money in the banana-stand!”  I am thrilled that, four long years after the release of season 4, Arrested Development season 5 is officially happening!!  Yes, season 4 was a bit of a disappointment, but I’m hoping Mitch Hurwitz and this amazing cast can turn things around with another time at the plate.  I can’t wait.

A brief follow-up to my recent analysis of the teaser trailer for the new Star Trek show, Discovery: I’d noted in my review that it looked like they had adjusted the look of the actual starship Discovery since the initial teaser a year ago, though it was hard to get a good look at the ship in that new trailer.  However, eagle-eyed on-line fans noticed what I didn’t, which is that Jason Isaacs had previously been announced as the captain of the Discovery.  This means that much of what we see in the trailer between the first-officer played by Sonequa Martin-Green and the captain played by Michelle Yeoh all probably happens in the first episode as a prologue to the events of the series itself.  Therefore, the starship seen in this trailer is not the Discovery at all.  So we don’t know yet whether the Discovery is really going to look like that blocky, angular design seen in that first trailer.  (As I commented a year ago, I like the idea of basing the starship’s design off of an unused-by-famous-to-Trek-fans Ralph McQuarrie design for the refit Enterprise in Star Trek: The Motion Picture more than I like the execution as seen in that teaser, which looked chunky and without any of the art of Matt Jefferies’ original Enterprise design.)  Also, this likely means that Michelle Yeoh, who I liked so much in the trailer, is probably going to have a very small role on the show itself, assuming that something bad is going to happen to get first-officer Burnham (played by Ms. Green) assigned as the first officer to another captain on another starship, rather than getting her own command.  That is a bummer, since I really liked the dynamic between Ms. Yeoh and Ms. Green in that trailer.

Ordinarily we’d be well into the new season of Game of Thrones at this point in the year, but we all need to wait two more months.  This substantive new trailer will ease the pain (or make it worse!!):

Let’s also join in lamenting that the shortened seven-episode seventh season will be followed by an even-shorter final season, which will reportedly only be six episodes long.

Jon Williams recently received an honorary doctorate from Harvard University, and one of the school’s a cappella groups, the Din and Tonics, … [continued]

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Updates to the Site and News Around the Net!

Do you like the new Guardians of the Galaxy cartoon on the homepage?  We’ve made a few updates to the site, most notably finally getting some social media buttons back on the individual pages, so feel free to share away on-line and spread the MotionPicturesComics.com goodness!  I’ve also added a “portfolio” section to the site, with samples of some of my illustration work.  Go ahead and take a peek and let me know what you think.

OK, what else is happening around the interwebs?

Let’s start things off with this extraordinary, in-depth interview with David Letterman.  Sit back and enjoy this great read.  You’re welcome.

Let it be known that I believe in the Oxford comma.  Here is a great reason why.

Oh man, a new film from Edgar Wright is coming out this summer?  I cannot wait.  Look at this cast.  This looks like a lot of fun:

Here’s a trailer for Becoming Bond, which tells the story of George Lazenby and his one Bond movie (the vastly underrated On Her Majesty’s Secret Service) through what looks like a combination of documentary footage and reenactments with a great cast.  I am intrigued:

Holy cow check out this new trailer for War for the Planet of the Apes:

I cannot wait for that!!

How great is this new Spider-Man: Homecoming poster??  I love it!  There’s also a new trailer, but I’m not going to post it here because unfortunately gives away far too much of the movie’s plot.  I hate trailers like that.  I wish I hadn’t watched this one.  So click on the above link at your peril.

Meanwhile, in DC-land, this new Wonder Woman trailer looks great.  Is this film going to break the DC movieverse’s losing streak?  Here’s hoping:

This new trailer for the Justice League (the DCU movie following Wonder Woman) is a little less encouraging.

There’s nothing bad in the trailer, but neither is there anything thrilling.  For the most part, this looks like more of what we got in Batman v. Superman — dark, loud, and messy — and if that’s truly the case, then we’re in trouble.  (Though I do love that snippet of J.K. Simmons as Commissioner Gordon.  J.K. Simmons can do no wrong.  Is there any possibility that we can get him to reprise his role as J.J. Jameson in an upcoming Spider-Man movie??)

I didn’t know anything about this movie Atomic Blonde before watching this trailer, but now I am desperate to see it.  The trailer makes this look like a Matthew Vaughn type of mix of mayhem and fun; if the actual movie delivers on this promise, this one is going to be great:… [continued]

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Josh Reviews Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice

April 1st, 2016
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Well, Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice isn’t the catastrophe that I’d thought it would be based on the terrible trailers, but that doesn’t mean it’s anything approaching a good movie.  The film is fun to watch, in a brain-dead sort of way.  Seeing Batman and Superman (and Wonder Woman) on screen together is certainly a thrill, but the movie is such a disjointed mess, such a blatant advertisement for the next ten DC universe super-hero movies that Warner Brothers wants to make, that it barely functions as a movie despite (or because of?) its lengthy run-time.

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Let’s start with what the film does well.  Let’s not forget what a groundbreaking thing it is to have Superman and Batman on screen together.  In this age of the Marvel Cinematic Universe it’s easy to forget that no one has ever done what Marvel has so successfully done, creating a shared universe in which the super-hero characters can team up together in one another’s movies.  This is still a pretty cool thing.  A Batman/Superman crossover movie has been talked about for a while now — and Warner Brothers came very, very close to making one about a decade ago (I believe a billboard for that aborted project can be seen in the Will Smith I am Legend film) but it’s never actually happened until now.  This sort of crossover is commonplace for comic book fans, but seeing it happen in a live-action movie is still pretty exciting.  I love seeing these characters together (and wish that they were actually together more in this long movie, but wait, let’s hold my litany of complaints for another few paragraphs), and it’s great fun seeing Clark Kent use his super-powers to listen in on Bruce Wayne’s earpiece communications with Alfred, or to see Batman and Superman slug it out underneath the bat-signal.

This film’s biggest success is its depiction of Batman.  I absolutely love Ben Affleck in the role.  I think it’s a great choice that, rather than re-tell the Batman origin yet again, instead the filmmakers decided to give us an old, grizzled Batman, one who has already been operating in the shadows for years before Superman’s arrival on the scene.  This is a brand-new movie version of Batman, and it works like gangbusters.  Director Zack Snyder has borrowed heavily from the depiction of an old Batman in Frank Miller’s iconic, wonderful “last Batman story” from 1986, The Dark Knight Returns.  This is not a version of Batman that I ever expected to see on-screen, and I love it.  It makes a lot of sense to contrast a bitter Batman with the more noble, idealistic Superman (except that this movie’s near-total betrayal of the … [continued]

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Can Nicholas Meyer Save Star Trek a Second Time? And News Around the Net!

February 29th, 2016
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I was of course excited several months back when news broke that a new Star Trek TV series was in development for CBS All Access.  I have loved many of the big-screen Star Trek adventures, of course, but Star Trek belongs on TV.  Star Trek began as a TV series, of course, and the vast majority on canon Star Trek adventures, hundreds and hundreds of hours, have been on TV.

We still know nothing about what the TV show will be about, what era it will be in, even what timeline in will be in (the “prime” timeline of all the previous TV shows and movies, or JJ Abrams “nuTrek” timeline from the past two movies).  But my excitement raised by many notches when we learned a few weeks ago that Bryan Fuller would be the show-runner of the new show.  This is an amazing choice, probably the best possible choice.  Mr. Fuller has a lot of actual Trek experience.  He was a writer on both Deep Space Nine and Voyager.  In the years since, he has become a phenomenal show-runner, helming a number of critically acclaimed shows such as Dead Like Me and Hannibal.  This makes Mr. Fuller a seemingly perfect combination of someone who has deep Trek love and Trek experience, while also very much being a new, fresh voice at the helm of a Trek show.  I couldn’t be happier.

Or so I thought.  Because then last week the news broke that Nicholas Meyer would be joining the writing team of the new show.  This is unbelievable, jaw-on-the-floor, earth-shattering news.  Mr. Meyer is, in my opinion, the very best writer to have ever worked on Trek in any of it’s many incarnations.  He is responsible for the very best Trek, the Trek that most feels to me like my most beloved incarnation of the series.  Let me explain.  Mr. Meyer wrote and directed Star Trek II: The Wrath of Khan.  He wrote most of Star Trek IV: The Voyage Home.  (He wrote everything that takes place in 1986.  Mr. Meyer takes over the story with Spock’s classic line: “judging by the pollution content in the atmosphere, we have arrived in the latter part of the twentieth century.”)  He wrote and directed Star Trek VI: The Undiscovered Country.  Has Trek ever been better than those three films??

Mr. Meyer truly saved Star Trek back in 1982 with The Wrath of Khan.  Remember, Star Trek was cancelled after only three seasons on NBC in 1966-1969.  It was something of a miracle that the series was resurrected in 1979 with Star Trek: The Motion Picture.  But that film didn’t quite get the tone of Star Trek right.  … [continued]

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Still More Great Comic Books!

November 18th, 2009
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In addition to highlighting some of the very best comic book series that are out there (click here to read about 100 Bullets or here to read about Planetary) I’ve also been having fun writing about some of the great books that I’ve been following on a monthly basis (or semi-monthly basis, as the case may be) when I make my weekly visits to the comic book shop.  Click here to read about books like Incognito, Kick-Ass, and The Nightly News, and here to read about books like Hellboy, Ultimate Comics: Spider-Man, The Dark Tower, and Batman: Streets of Gotham.

What else have I been reading?

Detective Comics — I am all for female heroes in my comic books (as well as TV shows and movies, for that matter) but generally I tend to think that female versions of male super-heroes (She-Hulk, Supergirl, etc.) are pretty lame.  So when I read that Detective Comics was going to start focusing on the newly-introduced character of Batwoman, I was less than overwhelmed.  However, when I heard that Greg Rucka and J. H. Williams III were the creators coming on board the title, I quickly changed my tune and decided to sample the series.  Boy I’m glad I did, because the first five issues of their run have been terrific.  Mr. Rucka is spinning a taught, tense mystery/adventure story (something at which he excels), and Mr. Williams III’s art is absolutely jaw-dropping.  I’m baffled as to how exactly he produces the art I’m seeing before me (and surely colorist Dave Stewart is a key player), but it seems to be a constant mix of different media and styles, presented in wonderfully eccentric panel layouts (no simple panel grids to be found here).  Each page is truly a work of art.  Really wonderful.

Star Trek Romulans: Schism — The very first time, as a kid, that I paid any notice to the names of the creators behind the comic books I was reading was because I noticed that there was one guy whose work I was enjoying way more than anyone else’s.  That was John Byrne.  He was the first artist I really followed, and I made it my business to track down back-issues of his famous work (his lengthy runs on Uncanny X-Men and Fantastic Four) as well as his less-famous work (Alpha Flight, Namor, etc.).  About the time that he was writing and illustrating the magnificent series John Byrne’s Next Men, I was convinced that he was the greatest comic book creator of the time.  Lately, Mr. Byrne seems to have fallen somewhat out of favor within the industry — he’s a name I … [continued]