Other stuff this week was just random. Yeah. Saw The Amazing Spider-Man. Yet another Summer Movie I found to be tremendously disappointing. The friends I saw it with seemed to dig it, but I gave it a big meh. And I concluded the week with Brave. It was really good, but it also was no UP.
But really everything I did this week was just a distraction from the approaching San Diego Comic Con trip. It's so close I can almost taste it.
TV OF THE WEEK!
Batman - The Animated Series Season 2: The show only gets better in the second season. With episodes like "Night of the Ninja" and "The Strange Secret of Bruce Wayne" the character of Batman is expanded in a way not seen in the original five Bat films. But my favorite ep is "Almost Got 'Im," in which Batman's Rogues share tales of near Bat-Murder. It's goofy and silly and kinda sad. But Season 2 is still not the genius that Season 3 will eventually reveal. I love this show, but it's not till 3 where I can honestly claim that Bruce Timm's Batman is the best Batman.
MOVIES OF THE WEEK!
Batman Forever: So much neon. And you know you're in trouble when The Fab Knight's first words in the film are, "I'll get drive thru." After the lukewarm public response to the perceived "darkness" of Tim Burton's second film (what crack were they smokin?), Warner Brothers dumped Bats into the nipple-suited brain of Joel Schumacher. Now, if you're in a particularly goofy Adam West kinda mood than you can have some silly fun here with Tommy Lee Jones & Jim Carrey's loud and screechy interpretations of a couple of Bats' most notorious rogues, but if yer craving Nolan or even Burton than you shouldn't bother. I do think Val Kilmer could have been a solid Batman in a more serious vein and Nicole Kidman is lovely...but soooooo much Neon!
The Amazing Spider-Man: In just ten years we Spidey geeks have been blessed (or cursed) with three goofy Sam Raimi-helmed Web Heads and now one Marc Webb reboot. That's a lot of wall crawling and a lot of disappointment for this filmgoer. The latest cinematic entry rushes through the origin despite adding some mysterious Parker parent hullabaloo that never builds into anything serious as the film is just another CGI punch-em up with a big green bad guy. Andrew Garfield is kinda great in the suit, finally adding some much needed Spidey fight monologuing, but his Peter Parker is mostly an asshole to his family and friends when he's not being over-emo awkward with Emma Stone and her constant knee high socks. And James Horner's score? It definitely matches the banality of the script.
Inception: Our Man Leo and his Dreamscape Rat Pack infiltrate the fantasies of Corporate Muckety Muck Cillian Murphy on the behest of the other Corporate Muckety Muck Ken Watanabe; much subconscious gunplay to duck & dodge. "The Mind is the Scene of the Crime." It's a cool concept. And it's well executed and performed. I absolutely love fellow thieves Tom Hardy and Joseph Gordon-Levitt--they should have a half hour buddy cop romcom. And it's amazing how Marion Cotillard can be absolutely lovely one moment and then completely, disgustingly terrifying the next. However, I never really did connect to the emotions or even the narrative goals of Leonardo DiCaprio's character. For me, Inception is more about the execution than the character arcs.
Batman Returns: Depending on my mood, I often feel that this is the superior Tim Burton Batflick. Here Michael Keaton feels a little more Batmanesque with his stance, pauses, and terse language. There's a lot of duality at play in the flick; Danny DeVito's Oswald Cobblepot is a mirror for Bruce Wayne, and Michelle Pfeiffer's Catwoman does the same thing for Batman. And I love, love, love Christopher Walken's Citizen Kane-like Max Shreck--definitely the uber-villain of the piece. But the film is very Burton, Burton! Gothy exaggerated sets and characters, and if yer not into that than stay away.
The Adventures of Tintin: A light, whimsical adventure story from a Steven Spielberg I once thought lost somewhere in the late 1980s. Imagine a slightly more childish incarnation of Indiana Jones wrapped in the fetishistic craft of mo-cap animation. Jaime Bell is a stunning Tintin and Daniel Craig has the perfect voice for the evil, bearded pirate descendant. Not sure this film has enough weight to go down as a classic, but it's certainly a popcorn fueled joyous night at the movies.
Matinee: Joe Dante does what he does best, celebrates B-Movies and the art of William Castle in this Cuban Missile Crisis set coming of age tale. John Goodman is the Castle-esque Lawrence Woolsey who's traveled down to Key West to premiere his nuclear horror film MANT! Part Man! Part Ant! He's MANT! But he's really just a supporting player in the background as kid actors Simon Fenton and Omri Katz attempt to navigate their budding sexuality and the chaotic spazzing of fear loving grown ups. The A Story is fun enough, but this dork found the most pleasure in the B Movie references and cameos. And as always, more Dick Miller please.
Justice League - The New Frontier: Based on Darwyn Cooke's utterly brilliant maxi-series of the same name, Justice League - The New Frontier is easily the best film from the modern wave of DC Animated direct-to-dvds. Not just an origin of the most famous super team, The New Frontier explores the birth of DC Comics set in the appropriate Silver Age of 1953. The Korean War has come to a close: Hal Jordan attempts to recover from that horror by diving into his speed demon test pilot persona, the Martian Manhunter arrives on Earth, Batman contemplates a more kid-friendly costume, and Superman struggles with his role in government. But all that is small potatoes when the mysterious being known as The Center plots global destruction. Besides being one of the most epic narratives, The New Frontier also succeeds in capturing the retro vibe of artist Darwyn Cooke. And that in itself is worth consumption. If you love comics and super hero films than you really must experience The New Frontier.
The Villain: "Piss on the white man." Kirk Douglas is a goofball bank robber in pursuit of Ann Margaret's Charming Jones and her asexual guardian Arnold Schwarzenegger. Horribly awkward with its old man humor and loony tunes pratfalls, The Villain is a film you enjoy as an oddity more than a quality Western. Seriously, if you're a fan of the slide whistle sound effect and sped up frame rate hijinks than this is the film for you--uh, does such a Comedy Western fanboy exist? I really can't understand what the state of the world must have been like in 1979 where a film such as this could be considered as passable entertainment--a fascinating history lesson. Check out more confused rambling over at cineAWESOME!
Batman - The Movie: Cheese! Pure, glorious cheese! For part of me, Batman will always be the late Nick At Night reruns of this classic camp Caped Crusader. The film is a little rambling and a tad overlong, but they had to cram in ALL your favorite rogues to propel against rich boys Adam West and the young Burt Ward. And in some glorious future the lawyers will get all the rights issues for the TV show squared away and we can bask in the glory of Vincent Price's Egghead. But until then we've got this theatrical gem. Classic bits of "Some days you just can't get rid of a bomb" and Shark Repellant Bat Spray and "Yo Ho!" Hydrating goons really make this silly flick watchable. Biff! Plop! Krack! And, yeah, this is still my favorite Batmobile design.
Brave: Pixar's first Princess is a fiery haired warrior not interested in giving out her hand to the strongest brute in the kingdom, and when her feminist ideals clash with her mother's unwavering traditions it's going to take some serious celtic magic to keep the kingdoms from erupting into war. Possibly one of the most beautiful films produced by Pixar and saddled with some of my favorite voice talents, Brave doesn't quite reach the levels of Up, The Incredibles, or Finding Nemo but it is an exciting adventure story not often seen in contemporary animation. It's got the laughs. It's got the song. But it's also got a giant ass scary one-eyed bear that feels like he's charged right outta a Don Bluth nightmare. And that's awesome.
COMICS OF THE WEEK!
Batman Incorporated: Grant Morrison's insane Silver Age love affair has all been building to this James Bondesque bit of insanity exploding from Bruce Wayne's Days of Future Past vision...or, rather, his ever inflating ego. Batman has gone global. Gotham City is too damn small and Wayne needs a Bat in every major city on the planet. Japan, you get Mr. Unknown. Argentina - El Gaucho. The Lakota tribe has Man-Of-Bats & Raven. The International Batmen is too dang bonkers not to be based in classic comics and Grant Morrison is My Hero for re-introducing this weirdo idea back into the mythos; where fanboys might be screaming for The Dark Knight Returns over and over again, Morrison is gonna show you the fun of Mighty Lord Death Man (well, he's actually kinda terrifying) or even the Adam West era. You wanna get nuts, let's get nuts.
Fatima - The Blood Spinners #1: Yeah. So. There is something extremely compelling about the art of Gilbert Hernandez. I cannot quite put my finger on what it is about his style that immediately draws me into the story, but that’s just what happens. Fatima centers around a future society in which a drug called Spin turns good citizens into crazed, raccoon eyed zombies. And Fatima is the government agent sent in to brutally execute the junkies. Not really sure about the story yet, but I certainly love Hernandez’s depictions of blood and brains exiting the zombie noggins. Weird book, but I’ll keep going.
Hawken #4: I’m still really enjoying Ben & Tim Truman’s weird Western. It’s the closest thing we’ve had to a Joe Lansdale scripted Jonah Hex in quite some time. Miss that totally Mojo mini series. Sigh...anyway. Hawken is still plagued by the ghosts of his kills, but he’s now bedded the evil celestial from the previous issue thanks to the ground up bones of mermaids. Gross. Similar in effect even if it’s wildly different than Gilbert Hernandez’s style, Tim Truman’s art is beautifully ugly and every now and again a panel will punch me smack dab in the eyeballs. Wonderfully strange adventure reading.
Ultimate Comics Spider-Man #12: I was kinda hoping we were gonna finally get that meeting between Aunt May and Miles Morales but it looks like we’re going to have to wait for a while. Cuz right now Miles is too busy beating the hell outta his evil uncle Prowler. A good action book with a pretty fantastic ending--did not see that coming. And man, I’m really happy to be back on monthlies with this story.
ROAD TRIP PREPARATION OF THE WEEK!
Right now, as I type this, The Wife is scrambling to clean and pack our clothes. I'm going over our checklist with a fine tooth comb. Cannot forget a thing, but we always do. And we're debating what panels are essential and what panels we can afford to miss. And we also have to accept that we're not gonna see everything. It's impossible. But what is the dream? What are the sights we're dying to see this year?
I think the panel I'm most excited to see is Guillermo Del Toro's Pacific Rim. I still hate that title, but the idea of Del Toro pitting Giant Robots against Giant Monsters...oh yeah, that gets me giddy. And I really need something from GDT. It's been too long and this fanboy has been surviving on scraps.
But Comic Con also promises Quentin Tarantino's Django Unchained, The Expendables 2, Iron Man 3, The Hobbit, Resident Evil 5, William Shatner's Get A Life, and Roger Corman's Attack of the 50 Foot Cheerleader. And a Dredd screening Wednesday night to kick it all off. Fingers crossed on that one, doubt I can make it happen but we'll try.
And The Exclusives! I snagged a few last year (Gentle Giant's Movie Cap Bust, Entertainment Earth's Twilight Zone Bob Wilson, Dark Horse's Spider-Man/Peter Parker), but I might go a little crazy this year. Or at least I'm going to give it a try. I love the MAD Magazine Bats & Robin, but I think my favorite SDCC 2012 exclusive is the Blade 2 Blu Ray & Reaper bust. And Gentle Giant also has a gorgeous Pale Man statue! I don't know how I'll get it back to DC but that sure would look pretty in the office.
Then you've got Mondo up to their usual panic inducing tricks. Looks like artists Olly Moss & Daniel Danger have been partnering up for some really weird Batman prints set to debut on the show floor. Each print depicts The Batman perched atop a retail chain. Beautifully weird with a little bit of fanboy commentary. Don't know if I'll shell out the cash for these but I can't wait to see them at the booth. And maybe score some other Mondo surprises and rarities.
Right now I'm just counting down the seconds until the plane touches San Diego soil. Only doing 7 days in the city this year, but we've got a few other non-comic con adventures we want to attend. And frankly, as much as I'm looking forward to the Con, I'm really just looking forward to a little break from this Virginia weather. It's freaking sweltering here, and I could totally use some mid range California heat right about now.
I'm going to bring my laptop with me, but I still wouldn't expect a lot of posts from me this week. If you want all the dirt on Comic Con 2012 though, I will be tweeting like a madman (as usual) from @MouthDork.