Tuesday, December 20, 2005

Movie Review: King Kong

I've read a number of reviews of Peter Jackson's King Kong over the last week or so and they have all been overwhelmingly positive. The only negative comment any of them have really made is that it might be a little too long. I'm afraid this is a gross understatement.

Both my wife and I are HUGE fans of Jackson's Lord of the Rings trilogy and devoured the extended editions on DVD with all their many extras. Jackson maanged to craft a series of films that lasts for well over twelve hours and still leaves you wanting more, so when I first heard that his take on the Giant Ape clocked in at just over three hours long I wasn't too worried. Even the extended versions of the three LOTR films never really drag and you certainly never feel that any scene is uneccessary so I felt confident that every minute of King Kong would be thoroughly entertaining.

However, this is not the case, and it shouldn't really have come as any surprise, considering the source material. With LOTR Jackson was drawing on a vast amount of source material. Tolkein's masterpiece is both rich and vivid with an enormous amount of back (and side) story to draw from. Tolkein crafted the entire history of Middle Earth from its creation (in The Silmarillion) and the many appendices included in the three volumes further flesh out the world and the character's back story (indeed, many people objected to jackson's insertion of the Aragorn/Arwen romance...but it's all there in the appendices!). Despite stretching past the twelve hour mark, Jackson's dilemma with LOTR was always what to leave out, and he did, indeed, leave out a lot of good stuff. With King Kong, however, Jackson's source material is a film half the length of his own, and so he has added much, and this is where the movie really fails.

But wait, before get too deeply into the movies failings, let's talk about where it succeeds. Jackson initially starts padding at the start of the film, and it's a full hour before Kong even appears. However, this is really not a bad thing at all. He does an admirable job of introducing all the characters and provides a plausible and compelling justification for their trip to Skull Island. Jack Black particularly stands out here as movie producer/director Carl Denham. Here he proves that there's much more to him than being a funny fat man and I hope he continues to get more serious roles. Jackson spends the first hour slowly building the tension and so you never really lose interest or start to get bored. You feel that you're constantly building to something and as the ship gets closer and closer to Skull Island your anticipation continues to increase.

When we reach the island Jackson gets out his full box of tricks and does what he does best - shows us something we've never really seen before. The island looks stunning, both terrifying and beautiful at the same time.

There are problems here however, it does look good but every now and again the visuals fall below the very high level they've set themselves. The brontosauras chase, particularly, has some really awful green screen moments. Indeed, some are so bad that you wonder if they're not some kind of weird Jackson homage to old school effects.

It's also while we're on the island that you receive a rather worrying revelation...you don't actually care about what happens to any of these people. That's not entirely true, you do actually care about Jack Black's character, but he's supposed to be the villain of the piece! None of our heroes are particularly engaging and that's a real problem in a film like this. The whole point of this movie is that they are constantly in peril and we are supposed to be on the edge of our seats worrying about what will happen to them.

Worst of all, we don't really connect with Kong. One reveiwer I read praised Jackson for presenting Kong as an animal and not a monster. To me, however, that's his biggest mistake. Kong is never anything more than an animal in this film, and so we never really engage with him as a character. He needs to have a real personality, a real character but instead he's just a beast, acting on instinct.

This really becomes a problem as we move into the movies climax, which is also where the pacing of the film really falls apart. We know what's coming, everyone knows what happens to Kong in the end, so surely we should get there in a timely and action packed manner? After all, there can be no suspense, we know what's coming, right? Well, not in peter Jackson's eyes. The finale is so long and drawn out that I...I fell asleep. I never fall asleep at the cinema! Not even in the worst films! As Kong began his ascent of the Empire State Building I started blowing Zs at the ceiling. A timely nudge from my wife ensured that I didn't miss too much of the movie...I'm not sure if it wouldn't have been better if she'd left me to sleep. Kong can't speak. He's an ape. So Kong and Ann stare at each other, in a deep and meaningful way. Except, as I said, Kong is never anything more than an animal in this film, so, really, they just stare at each other a lot. While planes fly round them, occaisionally shotting at Kong. He's big, so it takes a lot of bullets to bring him down. Lots and lots and lots and lots and....zzzz....sorry, drifted off again.

The biggest problem is that, rather than thinking the people are being terribly mean by hounding Kong to his destruction, you're really left thinking that,a ctually, it's probably quite a good idea. Jackson has Kong wantonly and violently killing people throughout the movie. At one point Kong bites off someones head and then throws the body away, and at the theatre at the end he picks up Ann's stand in and, seeing that it's not her, just throws her away. Beauty has not tamed the savage beast, Kong is not clamed by his love for Ann, if anything it drives him to even more violent and bestial acts. You can't even argue that he would have been ok if Denham had left him on Skull Island. The people of Skull Island lived in fear of Kong and were obviously making regular human sacrifices to him. Kong is a monster and, ironically, if Jackson had just given into that, rather then trying to show him as a simple animal, we might have felt more for him at his death.

This review is threatening to become as long as the movie so I'll start to wrap it up now. Ultimately, this is not a bad movie, there's an awful lot to enjoy here. There's a good one and a half to two hours of great entertainment here, more than enough for a thrilling blockbuster movie. I feel the true problem is that after the vast success of LOTR, no one at the studio was prepared to sit Jackson down and say "This film is too long, you need to make some cuts." Jackson proved with LOTR that you can make a movie that lasts three or eevn four hours without boring people, but he's also proved with King Kong that not every movie needs to be that long.

Rating: 7/10

Thursday, December 15, 2005

Movie Review: The Chronicles of Narnia: The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe



I guess I should write more of a review than that. Hmmm...

In my opinion, there are three authors who have so convincingly and completely managed to create the world in which their characters live that you accept that they have no choice in what they write because that is simply what happens. These three authors are JRR Tolkein, JK Rowling and CS Lewis.

If you want to send me hate mail because I've included JK Rowling in that list then kindly direct it to goawayyoufool@aol.com.

It's clear from this that to become a literary genius you must only be known by your initials and your surname. But that's really besides the point.

Some may criticise this film for being slow in places... my point is simply that it is not slow... this is how these events happened. (Yes... I know it's not real... [ok, it is real, but the film isn't...]).

You can tell by this poorly structured review that I'm never likely to be considered a literary genius. Mind you, if both Charles Dickens and Emily Bronte can be considered literary genius's (geni?) then it's quite possible that anyone could.

I grew up with the Chronicles of Narnia. By that I don't simply mean that I read them as a child and I enjoyed them. I grew up with them, they were an integral part of my upbringing. My parents both loved the books and my dad read them all to me at bed time for what seemed like my entire childhood. He also played me the radio adaptation of The Lord of the Rings, but Lewis always had more of an appeal than Tolkein. Despite my short stature and hairy feet I have never particularly identified myself with Frodo, the Pevensie children, however, are a completely different matter. My oldest sister was most responsible, however, for ensuring that the Chronicles of Narnia were more than just books for me. She painstakingly traced the maps from the books and combined them together into a complete map of Narnia. These days a fantasy novel isn't complete without a map in the front, but when I was a child these maps were really something special. They helped bring the books to life because close study showed that the world of Narnia really did extend beyond the bounds of the books. It felt like a real, living, breathing world.

This isn't, of course, the first screen adaptation of The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe. When I was a little buy, we had to make do with what was, really, a quite awful cartoon, where the Pevensie children all wore flares and Lucy was blonde. Still, although generally rubbish, it was better than nothing. It was magical because it was Narnia. Then there was the BBC adaptation. Hmmm. Some people really loved this, but, personally, I feel that casting a fat, ugly kid as Lucy was a fairly unforgivable mistake. Also, the animatronic Aslan was just....well...an animatronic Lion. No matter how well done it is it's never going to be Aslan.

So, we come to this latest effort. Oh boy. It's so good it hurts. Let's deal with one important issue first - why make The Lion, The Witch and The Wardrobe first? For some people this is a moot point, they made it first because it's the first book. By this they mean that it wa sthe first book set in Narnia to be published. However, Lewis himself admitted that he's not entirely sure what order he wrote them in, and that the order in which they happen is probably the best order to read them. there is no wrong or right order though, and the film makers seem to have chosen the order of publication. This probably makes commercial sense because The Lion, The Wicth and The Wardrobe is by far the best known of all seven books. That said, I really, really, really want to see an adaptation of The Magician's Nephew, in order of Narnian history is should come first, but in order of publication it's book 6, which means I could have a looooong wait ahead of me.

Back to the film. The cast are fantastic. The kids...wow... William Moseley is just incredible as Peter. His portrayal of the growth in his character from boy to High King is just superb. But the kids playing Edmund, Susan and Lucy are equally as good. Edmund is especially hard to get right because you have to hate him at the start but deeply care for him by the end. Young Skander Keynes doesn't let us down. Anna Popplewell is totally believable as the sceptic, Susan, and has that "English Rose" kind of innocent beauty. Little Georgie Henley steals the show, of course, as Lucy. It's quite possible that she's actually cuter than a button.

The voice acting si also superb, with Ray Winstone, Dawn French and Rupert Everett standing out, but never over-playing their parts. The real casting genius though is a part which they really struggled with - Aslan.

Liam Neeson really couldn't be any more perfect for this role. His voice is at once soft and gentle but tinged with a hint of hidden danger, he conveys an authority that doesn't come from physical strength but from something deeper...from within.

The effects are fantastic too. Provided by WETA, the people who gave us the stunning visuals in Peter Jackson's LOTR trilogy, they're not quite up to that standard throughout. The key digital characters, however, Aslan, the Beavers, are pretty much perfect and at times you just find yourself completely suspending your disbelief.

So...ahem...I liked it.

Mr Tumnus is great too. Actually, it would be quicker to list what was rubbish.



Wow. That was a long list. What is rubbish, actually, is that I now have to wait for the next film, and I don't know if they're actually going to make all seven (let's face it, a film of The Horse and His Boy isn't going to be an easy sell). One assumes that Prince Caspian will be next up.

To close, this is a very special film. I'm left wondering if, actually, I haven't had a personal relationship with Jesus all these years...but with Aslan.

[Yes...I know they're the same...shut up...]

Rating: 100/10 (Not a typo).

Tuesday, December 13, 2005

Hello Spain!

Yes... another post... so sue me....

Just wanted to say "Hello" to the mystery Spanish person who's been visiting the CHC! My webstats for this site aren't hugely detailed, but someone from Spain has checked out the site a couple of times in the last few days.

It's just good to know that I'm not just talking to myself (or just my sister).

So...hello mystery Spanish person!

Kitty Kitty Kitty!!!!!!

Two updates in quick succession...I know...I know...

Anyway, just wanted to post a couple of pics of Ellen Page who will be playing my favourite X-Man (techinically X-Woman....but, hey...)...and, actually, my favourite comic book character of all time...Kitty Pryde!

As you can see Miss Page is pretty cute, but click here and then click on the photo gallery, scroll down and you'll see the first promo pic' Fox have released of her as Kitty Pryde! Yowza! She looks great! I can't post the pic' here 'cos it's a Flash site, so you can't save the pics to your hard drive. As soon as the pic' becomes available I'll post it here though.

I can't wait for X3 now!

X-Men 3 in motion.....

And now you can see for yourself what the new characters in X-Men 3 look like in motion by downloading the trailer here. Looks pretty good to me, but I had to watch it with the sound off...

Oh, you'll need Quicktime 7 to view it too, but there's a link to download it on the site.

Friday, December 09, 2005

First look at X-Men 3!

You can catch a first glimpse of some of the new characters featured in X-Men 3 by clicking here.

Personally I think Kelsey Grammer is looking pretty good as Beast, but it's hard to tell from this shot. That said, all of the costumes in the previous films looked better on screen than in their pre-release publicity shots.

I'm a little less sure of the look for Angel...those wings just don't look very real to me.

Anyway, click the link and see what you think!

Wednesday, December 07, 2005

DVD Review: The Fantastic Four

You'd be forgiven for thinking that all I ever do is watch movies and work on my comic but you would be, in the whole, correct. I do find time to watch a lot of TV too though, and one of my favourite things to do is to combine watching movies and watching TV by...watching movies on TV. Most people seem to think that my DVD collection is rather large, but, personally, I'm always amazed at just how many films I don't have on DVD. I'm actually also amazed by the films that I do have too...for example, of all three Terminator films, the only one I actually own on DVD is Terminator 3. Some would see this as a travesty and I would tend to agree, but the problem is that a large proportion of the DVDs I own have actually been bought for me, or have been bought by my wife.

Anyway, enough of that, let's get on with the review. Actually, no, before that, as this is my first DVD review for this blog a quick note. I'll be breaking down DVD reviews into two sections - The Movie and Extras. Predictable but I thought I'd point it out. Oh, and I'll be limiting the reviews to movies seen at the cinema and new DVD purchases, because to extend it to movies seen on TV would just get rediculous (and besides, I just can't bring myself to write reviews for The Passion of the Christ and Mission Without Permission today [although I bet those two movies have never been mentioned in the same sentence before]).

The Movie

I'm sure that any readers of this blog out there (Hi Jeannine!) will be fairly familiar with the fact that I like comics, and it's pretty much impossible to like comics without at the very least being familiar with the basic premise of the Fantastic Four. Some years ago some lovely person (possibly the aforementioned Jeannine) bought me the first volume of the Marvel Masterworks series, which reprinted, recoloured and in hardback, the first issues of the Fantastic Four. It's classic Stan and Jack at their best but my comic book collecting focused on Iron Man and then the X-Men, so I haven't read a vast amount of Fantastic Four. The basic premise is, of course, that Reed Richards, his friend Ben Grimm, plus his girlfriend Sue Storm and her brother Johnny go into space where they are bombarded by cosmic rays which bestow upon them superhuman powers. Reed finds that his body can stretch like elastic, Sue can turn invisible and Johnny can burst into flame. All of these powers can be turned on and off at will. The real tragedy is that Ben is turned into a rocky monster....permanently. This is clear early evidence of the genius of Stan Lee, and what was to set Marvel Comics apart from their Distinguished Competition. Most super heroes up to that point had become heroes by choice, or at the very least were happy about the consequences of the freak accident that had left them super powered. Ben Grimm, aka The Thing, was not. The accident effectively ruins his life and he truly hates what he has become. It is only the strength of his friendship with his teammates which really keeps Ben going.

So, the comic book was genius, but is the film any good? Well, actually, yes. Widely criticised for not being as grim and gritty as other recent superhero movies (Daredevil, X-Men, Batman Begins), Fantastic Four is a lot more light hearted and just plain fun. However, this is exactly right for Marvel's first family. The tone of the Fantastic Four has always been a lot lighter than many of Marvel's other books, and a grimmer, grittier feel wouldn't have suited them at all. The performances are generally excellent, Jessica Alba is drop dead gorgeous as Sue Storm, the action is exciting and the effects are stunning. This movie is, above all, fun.

Perfect? No. Not by a long chalk. The Fantastic Four commits one of the worst comic book movie sins there is - tying the origins of the heroes and villains together for no good reason. In the comic book Victor Von Doom is not caught up in the same accident as the four heroes. Yes, he was at college with Reed, but his face was disfigured while he was dabbling in the occult (I seem to recall he was trying to contact his mother) and he creates a suit of armour to hide his hideous face. His powers are a combination of technological (his suit) and mystical (his occult powers). I gues this was deemed all too complicated for the American movie going public, and, besides, you can't have someone dabbling in the occult in a kids film, can you? So, while our four heroes are fairly spot on, we are left with a Doom who is not really Doom. One of Marvel's most iconic villains is reduced to a greedy, power-mad business man/scientist. This is not Doom (it's more like Norman Osbourne). This is a shame, because Doom should be a lot more scary than this. Of course, some might argue that George Lucas already did a much better screen version of Doctor Doom back in 1977.

There are a few other problems too, and I'm going to highlight two of them here. The first is Ben Grimm's fiance. Most reviewers seem to have referred to her as his wife but I noticed last night that it's an engagement ring she returns to him, not a wedding ring. Firstly, I'm not convinced she's necessary at all. I think we're all capable of understanding how hard it's going to be for Ben to fit in after his change without having to see him rejected by this woman. Besides, I don't buy that he would be with someone so shallow in the first place. Secondly, the way she just appears at the end of the action sequence on the bridge and throws the ring at him is just...odd. It doesn't work, it doesn't make ANY sense.

The other prolem is...in an attempt to reverse the process that gave them powers Reed recreates the cosmic storm in his lab. If he's capable of this...why did they have to go into space in the first place? Now, that's a plot hole big enough to drive a truck through.

Despite some major flaws, it's still a good movie and is definitely worth watching.


As I said earlier, a lot of the DVDs I own are bought for me, and this is no exception. Therefore this is the one disc edition and not the two disc edition, so the extras are a bit sparse. I haven't listened to the commentary yet but I've read that it's very good. The only real other extra here is Jessica Alba's video diary of the FF press tour. Yes, that's right, the press tour. If it wasn't for the fact that she's so damn gorgeous this would be a perfect cure for insomnia. There is absolutely nothing of interest here...at all. Lastly, there's the crushingly disappointing preview of X-Men 3 which doesn't include a single shot of the movie and really is of no interest to anyone other than, maybe, Avi Arad's close friends and family.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, December 02, 2005

Grab a Bargain!


Fellow fans of Gillingham FC might want to check this out for a chance to grab a real bargain.

Well, it would be funny if it weren't so depressing.

Tuesday, November 29, 2005

First look at Young Gods #2!

Well, as promised, here is the first sneak peak at #2 of The Young Gods. This is a panel from page four, where we first learn that Revenant can turn invisible as well as intangible. That's something that his team mates don't know yet. He's worried about how they'll react when they find out. Especially if they find out he's been spying on one of them. Ah...young love...

Hopefully the step up in quality from #1 should be fairly clear. If you haven't seen #1 yet, just click on the link on the right for a free downloadable copy. Yeah, the eBay thing didn't work, and I figure the more online fans I can amass now, the better chance I have of getting this book published.

On the subject of publishing, things are inching their way along in that department. I recently popped onto the Markosia forum to say hello and Harry from Markosia kindly replied thus:

"Hi Ian!

It was good to see you too! You certainly have put together a very interesting package. As I explained, if things move the way we hope over the next few months then we'll chat again.
In the meantime, we'll see you in Bristol!

Harry M"

Defintely a positive sign. So get out there and buy Markosia comics! I'd particularly recommend Midnight Kiss. It's an excellent modern fairy tale. You can order it and their many other fine publications direct from their website...again, there's a link to the right. Go get it....go on....now!

Friday, November 25, 2005

Blogging along....

...singing a song....side by side....

God I'm bored.

Well, nearly a week since Comic Expo and I haven't heard anything yet, but I wans't really expecting to so soon. It feels like ages ago though. Mainly because I'm so fed up with work and wish I could just pack it in and do my comic full time. That's a long way off I suppose but I've just had enough of the daily grind.

Issue two is well underway now and it's looking fantastic. For the...um...about one of you that's read #1....it makes that look poor. I'll probably post a few frames here next week so that you can get an idea of how good it looks.

The last couple of days I've been wondering about self-publishing, which I'm generally desperate to avoid. I have no head for business and would prefer to concentrate on the creative side of things. However, I did check out www.lulu.com which is one posibility. They do publishing on demand and handle the money side of things, and it's free, they only take a percentage of any money made from sales. I don't think it would be practical to use them for publishing a monthly book but if I complete all six issues before I find a publisher then I might consider putting out a tpb via LuLu, and spending the money to get on Amazon via them too. Needs a lot more thought first though...particularly on the marketing side. I've looked into advertising rates in Comics International, not a huge readership but it is the audience I'm trying to reach. Or am I? Do I just want to cater for people who already read comics or do I want to reach people who wouldn't normally read comics? Of course, if I really want to reach comic readers I guess I should look into advertising in Wizard, although I suspect their rates will be a little further out of my reach than CI's. But...they are American and the exchange rate would be in my favour there...

Still, this is why I want a publisher, so I don't have to think about stuff like this!

So...now I know my stuff is good enough I'm almost more frustrated than ever. I want to get it out there now!

Monday, November 21, 2005

Comic Expo report back!

(Don't miss my Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire review! Scroll down...)

Well, I guess some of you are wondering how my trip to the Comic Expo went this weekend?

The anser is that it went really, really well. I talked to up and coming UK publisher Markosia Comics about publishing the Young Gods and they were VERY interested. Nothing's likely to happen before March, but we talked about doing a six issue limited series followed by a trade paperback. It's very early days, we only talked for about ten or fifteen minutes, and I'm waiting to hear back from them now.

But, it was very, very encouraging. At the most I was expecting to get some encouragement from a few people at the con, I didn't dare to dream that someone would be seriously interested in publishing the book.

I'll post a link to their website in the right hand column and keep you posted if there are any new developements.

I'm trying not to get too excited though...I don't want to end up disappointed.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire


Okay, a tiny bit of background, like many, many, many other people I am a HUGE Harry Potter fan. I've read all the books. have all the films on DVD and, in fact, saw the last film at the cinema three times - and that was before I had an unlimited card.

Book 4, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, is probably my favourite of all the Harry Potter books so far. It's the book where Harry starts to grow up, and he, Ron and Hermione really make the transition from kids to teenagers. It marked the series transition from relatively short novels to big, thick thumping great tomes. A LOT happens in the book and director Mike Newell (best known for Four Weddings and a Funeral) took on a big challenge in attempting to translate this book to the big screen.

Incredibly, he succeeds, fantastically. The studio originally wanted to make The Goblet of Fire into two films, however, Newell decided to focus the film on harry's story, on the book's main plot, and it works well. Yes, there is a LOT missing which will disappoint fans of the book (gone are the Dursleys, SPEW, Winky, Harry's first date and first kiss, etc), but Newell has captured the essence of the book perfectly. The characters are all developed and the overaching plot is moved on.

Newell is obviously a fan of Cauron's slightly darker tone from Prosoner of Askaban as Goblet of Fire retains much of the feel of that film. Each director in this series has the huge advantage of working with a group of actors who are maturing with each other, and so inevitably produce a better performance with each film. Rupert Grint, who plays Ron Weasley, really shines in this film, and shows himself to be a great comic actor. Whereas Emma Watson stole the show as Hermione last time, this time it's Ron that steals the show.

That's not to downplay Dan Radcliffe's Harry though, as this is by far his best performance to date in the title role. Wheares one could criticise the previous film for feeling more like Hermione Granger and the Prosioner of Askaban, Goblet of Fire is undoubtedly Harry's movie.

This film is both very funny and very dark, and the entire audience regularly bust into loud laughter during the showing. I went to a late showing so there were very few kids in the audience, but be advised, this is NOT a film for small children, there are some VERY scary parts. This film is a lot darker than any of the others. That darkness is best personified by the presence, for the first time, of Lord Voldemort himself, fully whole again and played exquisitely by Ralph Feinnes (in his second excellent movie of the month!). He just oozes evil and menace here, but also brings a certain humanity to Voldemort, reminding us that he is very much a man who has become twisted and evil, rather than just a monster, some otherworldy spirit of evil.

I really cannot find one thing to criticise about this film. The only thing wrong with it is that it's not longer, but I 100% understand why the cuts were made...and if you want a longer version, read the book!

Outstanding in every way.

Rating: 10/10

Friday, November 18, 2005

Young Gods #1 only 1p!

To celebrate my trip to tomorrow's ComicExpo, which I'm still very nervous about, I'm offering Young Gods #1 for only 1p on eBay!

Okay, okay, it's also to do with the fact that no-one's actually bought a copy yet and I thought that offering it for a penny would be a good way to encourage people to try it.

So, click the link to the right and go get it! What have you got to lose, other than a penny?

Hopefully tomorrow will be productive and I'll find someone to publich the book properly tomorrow, at least I'm hoping to make a few good contacts.

See you when I get back!

Wednesday, November 16, 2005

Movie Review: In Her Shoes

This week is shaping up to be an excellent week for movies.

Having seen some trailers for this "chick flick" I really wasn't too excited about seeing it. However, Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette were both on Jonathan Ross's show this week promoting it and the chemistry they obviously share was enough to get me along to my local multiplex to check it out (and having an Unlimited card didn't hurt...).

All I can say is ignore the trailers and see this movie (after you've seen The Constant Gardener, of course). One word of warning though, girls, be prepared for your mascara to run...

"In her Shoes" focuses on the relationship between Maggie and Rose Feller, played by Cameron Diaz and Toni Collette. Rose is the responsible older sister, slightly frumpy with a good job which has completely taken over her life. Maggie is the wild, carefree, younger sister, whose penchant for excess causes constant conflict between them, especially as Rose feels so protective towards her.

Like most "chick flicks" this is a love story, but its strength lies in the fact that it is not about romantic love, but the love between two sisters. Both Collette and Diaz get this relationship spot on and, personally, I feel that both should be sitting expectantly on Oscar night. Both characters are just so real and three dimensional, I really didn't realise that Cameron Diaz was capable of such good acting. She displays such vulnerability in her portrayal of Maggie's struggles with illiteracy that one forgets for a moment that she is better known for her ability to belch in public than her acting skills (although the former is, in my opinion, just as impressive as the later).

The supporting cast are just as excellent, and unsurprisingly the stand out performance from among them comes from Hollywood legend Shirley MacLaine. She plays the girls' estranged grandmother, Ellen, who was shut out of their lives by their father after their mother's death.

One of the many things I loved about this movie was the fact that it's most emotional moment is not about who's sleeping with who, but it is about Maggie's discovery that her "best day ever," the most cherished memory from her childhood, is actually remembered as a terrible, painful day by the rest of her family. The events of her "best day" led directly to her mother's death, but she was too young at the time to know it, and Rose protected her from knowing at the time and has ever since. Maggie's emotional maturity has been stunted by her sister's desire to protect her from the pain that is shared by the rest of her family, and it is this that has set her on a course of self destructive behaviour.

Okay, all that sounds very deep, but the wonderful thing about this movie is that it is infused throughout with a subtle, gentle humour. Even the most loathsome person in the film, Rose's boss Jim (played by 24's Richard Burgi) is not so much an evil slimeball as just a plain old idiot.

Ultimately, this is not just another "chick flick," it's an excellent movie about two sisters, not learning to love each other, because they already do, but learning to live with each other. Possibly the biggest challenge that faces any siblings. You just can't help loving them no matter what they do.

rating: 9/10

Monday, November 14, 2005

Movie Review: The Constant Gardener

Go and see this film.

As you sit in the cinema silently weeping at the injustice of fictional African children dying needlessly to boost the profits of fictional multi-national corporations aided by fictional government officials ponder this: the truth is worse.

One of this weekend's big news stories was the HIV positive man who received no treatment for his condition and yet is now free of the virus. The experts on TV have said that this is impossible, but has definitely happened, but could be some kind of "freak" incident. Was I the only one paying attention in science at school? The scientists tell us that the HIV virus alters our DNA and that this process, once it has happened, is irreversible. They are now faced with a verified case of someone being infected with the virus and now being clear. So...their irreversible process has been reversed. And yet, no-one is willing to say, "Our initial hypothesis must be wrong." Come on, people, this is simple scientific method. If there is even one piece of evidence that is contrary to your hypothesis then that hypothesis must be wrong.

I wasn't at all surprised to find out that someone who tested positive for HIV could receive no treatment and yet later be tested negative, not after some of the stuff I've been reading online recently. Simple fact: no-one has ever actually found the AIDS virus. It's effects have been supposedly seen and recorded, but the actual virus itself remains illusive. Therefore, HIV tests do not actually test for the presence of the virus itself, but rather they look at the quantity of white blood cells in the patient's blood. HIV supposedly attacks the immune system so a lower white blood cell count will indicate the presence of the virus. Of course, it's a bit more complicated than that, but that's basically it. There is a strong suggestion that what actually kills people who are diagnosed as HIV positive is not the as-yet-to-actually-be-found virus, but the drugs that people are given to combat it.

Faced with evidence to this effect, the President of South Africa tried to stop the many, many people who are dying from AIDS in his country from receiving AIDS drugs. I say "tried" because I believe that he was ultimately unsuccessful, I'll let you speculate as to why.

What does this have to do with this film? Well, if this is all true then millions of people are not dying in Africa from a horrific sexually transmitted disease...they are being systematically poisoned by multi-national pharmaceutical companies. The Constant Gardener does not nearly go this far, although it is lightly hinted at, but at it's core is the theme of corporate disregard for African life.

Ralph Fiennes plays Justin Quayle, a British diplomat working in Africa, who falls in love with and marries Tessa, played by Rachel Weisz. Justin and Tessa's is a wirlwind romance and there is an ever-present suspicion that she is just using him. Her close relationship with African doctor Arnold Bluhm adds to Justin's suspicions and it is very clear that she is hiding a lot from him. What remains clear is that Justin is totally in love with her. Justin's world is turned upside down when Tessa is discovered brutally murdered somewhere she shouldn't have been, and Arnold has gone missing.

All this sets up a tense and interesting thriller, but, of course, that's not what this movie is really about at all. Tessa's big secret was not an affair with Arnold, but that she was investigating a pharmaceutical company's testing of a new TB drug. They know the drug can be potentially fatal but they can save themselves millions in redevelopment costs by testing it on Africans and then disposing of those who suffer this unfortunate side effect.

This film succeeds by showing you an Africa that we very rarely get to see on our TV and movie screens. We are so used to seeing Africans portrayed as famine victims, or as backward people who persist in tribal warfare and barbarism...but here they are simply people. Yes, this film does this most successfully when highlighting the needless suffering of children. Yes, that is manipulative. But it gets the point across, and that point is valid.

"The Constant Gardener" could easily have become a worthy and boring film, but every time the movie threatens to flag and start to bore, the director introduces yet another excellent British actor to recapture your interest. Bill Nighy and Pete Postlethwaite are most notable for this. Both pop up almost when you least expect them to and light up the screen.

The backbone of this film, though, is the relationship between Justin and Tessa. Both Fiennes and Weisz deserve oscar nominations at least for their performances here. They expertly portray what is a genuinely complex, touching and very real relationship. The secrets she is forced to keep from him for his protection drive them apart but at the same time it's clear that it's their love which keeps them firmly together.

This is a very brave film but one can't help but think it's a shame that many who see it will simply dismiss it as a work of fiction when it is clearly trying to highlight very real injustices which are taking place in our world today. Indeed, I've already seen it described by one on-line commentator as "another piece of anti-capitalist propaganda." It is a shame that those few people who are brave enough to point out just how badly we have treated the people of Africa can be so easily dismissed as "bleeding heart liberals."

Life is life, and all life is equally precious. The fact that so many can so easily dismiss the deaths of so many because they are a different colour or because they are a long way away is, frankly, chilling.

In closing, go see this film.

Rating: 9/10

Friday, November 11, 2005

Movie Review: The Brothers Grimm

I don't think it would be unfair to describe ex-Python Terry Gilliam's directorial career as hit and miss. While always full of fantastic images and wonderful ideas his movies don't always deliver a fully satisfying cinematic experience. Sadly, The Brothers Grimm is no different, and perhaps worse.

I have a lot of time for Gilliam's work, which includes Jabberwocky, Time Bandits, Brazil, The Adventures of Baron Munchausen, The Fisher King, Twelve Monkeys and a famously failed attempt to film an adaptation of Don Quixote.

From the buzz I'd been getting from The Brothers Grimm I had thought that Gilliam had finally cracked it and made a film that people would actually go and see, and as I took my seat among a packed audience I thought my suspicions had been confirmed.

Sadly, I was wrong, but it's hard to pinpoint why. The characters are great, the actors are all fantastic (check out Heath Ledger doing Alan Partridge for the whole film) and the whole thing is suitably bonkers in traditional Gilliamesque style. Actually...no...there's where it begins to fall down...it's not quite bonkers enough...either that or it's too bonkers. The film is just never sure of the tone it's trying to set. Is it taking itself seriously? Clearly not. Is it totally bonkers. No. The other area in which the film fails is in getting you to engage with the characters. You like them, but you really don't care that much about them. Gilliam fails to put them in any situations of genuine peril, you never truly fear for their lives, and so you will never come anywhere near to the edge of your seat. It's surprising to me that Gilliam, of all directors, fails to fully utilize the underlying feeling of genuine terror in the Grimm fairy tales.

I had hoped that this film would really serve to vindicate Gilliam after the disaster that was Baron Munchausen, but what we seem to have is a Gilliam film that's afraid to really...well...be a Gilliam film.

That said, there are some lovely touches, I've already mentioned that Heath Ledger seems to be channeling the spirit of Alan Partridge for the whole movie, and Matt Damon is equally at home playing "English." Of course, this is absurd for a movie set in French occupied Germany, but Gilliam is clearly having fun playing with accents in this movie. The children with badly dubbed Newcastle accents recall those dodgy European kid's serials that the BBC used to show in badly dubbed form, like Heidi and that awful one about the kid who lost his laugh. But even this is slightly too subtle and sometimes just makes the film seem badly done, and if you don't get the joke then it could totally ruin the film.

This film could have been brilliant, but it fails in so many areas that I left the cinema feeling totally flat and entirely disappointed. Usually Gilliam's genius more than makes up for the many shortcomings that his films exhibit, but there's just not enough genius here for me to recommend this.

Rating: 5/10

Monday, November 07, 2005

Comic Expo: Nervous....

This month sees the first Comic Expo to be held in Brighton in the UK. I haven't been to many comic book conventions. My first was UKCAC back in 1990 (I think) and I attended the Glasgow Comic Convention back in...um...'94? '95? I'm not sure. The first was purely as a fan. The second was as a penciller. I am NOT a penciller, nor will I ever be. To be fair, there were a few small press/indy people who were interested in my pencils. But, I was young and stupid and so didn't persue any of those contacts.

Anyway, this time I'm attending as a creator in search of a publisher. I am going fully prepared for everyone to tell me they're not interested, I'm expecting some rude comments and I'm hoping for, at best, a few encouraging remarks. We'll see.

Actually, I'm terrified. I REALLY want to find someone to publish my comic and I just know I'm not going to be able to stop my mind racing away with fantastic ideas. Got to keep feet firmly planted on ground. Hopefully I'll make some good contacts though, and this time I'll be sure to follow up on them. My fear and trepidation actually stopped me from saying anything to my wife about the convention until today. I deliberately convinced myself that she'd say "No" so I wouldn't have to deal with actually asking people if they'd be interested in publishing my work...face to face...gulp. Of course she said yes. Hopefully a very kind person (ie. my dad) will look after our kids while we make the trip. Maybe he'll say no and then I can put it off until the convention in May...

Now I have to figure out what I'm going to take with me. I'll need to get some sample copies of #1 made up (it's handy working at a printers sometimes) and do a whole info pack about the book. Maybe I should include some bits about Shine? Or should I keep the focus on The Young Gods? Argh!

Thursday, November 03, 2005

The Young Gods #1 eBay Exclusive E-comic!

Excuse the excitement but, hey...

The very first issue of my new comic book, The Young Gods, can now be ordered from eBay for the paltry sum of £2.00. It's an e-comic, in PDF format, so there's no p+p charge.

Just click the link to the right and it will take you straight to the eBay listing. Some of you may have downloaded the free version which was previously available via that link, but the eBay version is completely revamped, with clearer images, revised lettering, covers, credits and a short bio all about little ol' me.

The Young Gods

In the year 2086 humanity faces a new threat, Extra Humans. The government is struggling to cope with the growing number of mutants, aliens and supernatural beings who are living amongst us. People are beginning to panic and so, in 2050, the Department for Extra Human Affairs was established with a remit to try and contain the problem. By 2086 the D.E.H.A. is struggling to cope, so they have formed a new rapid response strike force, The Young Gods. Who better to police the Extra Human community than Extra Humans themselves.

This group of young misfits and rebels must learn to work together despite facing conflict from within and from without. How can they follow a leader they have no faith in? How can they fight people they used to count as allies?

Their first mission sees them taking on an ancient evil, Malak. He is a Nephilim, an ancient race that was spawned when fallen angels mated with human women. He’s seeking a way to bring his “fathers” through to our world, and only the Young Gods stand in his way.

The series is action packed, but the focus is not on the action itself, but on the characters and how they react to the situations they find themselves in. One of the overarching themes of the first six issue story arc is betrayal, and how this affects the leader of the group, Paladin.

Weaving together elements of the X-Men, The DaVinci Code, conspiracy theories, Graham Hancock’s books and much more, the Young Gods is sure to appeal to many.

Tuesday, November 01, 2005

Movie Review: Corpse Bride

Happy Halloween!

Appropriately enough, my latest trip to the local multiplex saw me experiencing Tim Burton's latest stop-motion masterpiece, Corpse Bride.

In a world where animation houses are shutting down their "traditional" animation department in favour of computer generated movies, the last few months have proved that "tradtional" methods, such as cell shading (see the excellent "Howl's Moving Castle") and stop motion, in the form of Wallace and Gromit and Corpse Bride are very much alive and kicking.

If anything, these movies prove that what has made such CGI masterpieces as Monsters Inc and The Incredibles so successful is not the method by which they are animated but the strength of the stories they've been telling, and the excellence of the vocal talents they've employed. Recent damp squibs like Shark Tale and Madagascar have proved that cutting edge CGI doesn't garauntee you a great movie (either that or no-one can do it properly except Pixar). Disney have, supposedly, abandoned traditional cel animationafter the poor performance of recent cel shaded pictures such as Brother Bear. However, one could argue that The Incredibles was not far more successful than Brother Bear because it was CGI, but because it's very concept was intrisincally more commercial. Personally, I did not go to see Brother Bear, not because it was cel shaded, but because it simply did not interest me. Traditional animation can still enthrall kids, my own kids sat glued to The Black Cauldron which was shown on the Disney Channel the other day...and that's not even a particularly good film!

Anyway, enough ranting, what of Corpse Bride?! I've been a fan of Tim Burton's work since Beetle Juice, but his movies are often a bit hit and miss. I find his work often full of great ideas that just don't quite work on screen. For every Edward Scissorhands or Charlie and the Chocolate Factory there's a Mars Attacks or a Big Fish...neither of them bad films...they just don't quite work. Then there are his flirtations with the "Summer Blockbuster"...the Batman films and Planet of the Apes...where the genius clearly struggles against the corporate realities of Hollywood. It is in the realm of pure imagination, however, that Burton truly shines, with the stop motion masterpiece The Nightmare Before Christmas and now with Corpse Bride.

Looking through Burton's filmography it seems clear that he's at his best when working with Johnny Depp, and once again Depp shines when directed by Burton as the nervous groom, Victor Van Dort. Depp is joined by a wonderful cast of fine British actors, including Emily Watson, Tracey Ullman, Paul Whitehouse, Joanna Lumley, Albery Finney, Richard E. Grant, Christopher Lee, Michael Gough (who I though was dead...), Jane Horrocks and, last but by no means least, Helena Bonham Carter as the titular Corpse Bride herself. This cast is simply wonderful and they really bring life to the movie.

The visuals are nothing but stunning. As good as Wallace and Gromit is, the animation here is just ina different class. It seems so real. You buy into the world instantly as Burton's animators craft a world so rich and full of detail that it's hard to believe it's all model work and puppets. The contrast between the dull and lifeless real world and the colourful and vibrant underworld is very stark and serves to make Victor's struggle to choose between his corpse bride and his living and breathing betrothed in the real world only more believable. The character designs are equally inspired, although the appearance of Deputy Prime Minister John Prescott as Victoria's (Victor's fiance) father was surprising!

The music provides the movies highest point and also its one main weakness. There are two piano pieces, one when Victor and Victoria first meet, and a duet between Victor and Emily, the corpse bride. Both are outstanding and really give you a lift. The sound of the piano cuts through the movie so beautifully it will transport you to another place. On the other hand, the film's songs are a disappointment. They're not bad but they are completely unmemorable. This is a shame because even one stand out song of the kind that gets stuck in your head for days would have made the soundtrack a must have and would have elevated this film to the status of classic. As it is, the songs feel a little pointless and misplaced.

Overall, Corpse Bride is a wonderful movie and not to be missed.

Rating: 8/10

Friday, October 21, 2005

Movie Review: Domino

I went to see Tony Scott's latest movie two nights ago but didn't have time to post a review yesterday.

Domino is the "sort of" true story of Domino Harvey, a movie star's daughter and former Ford model who, jaded with life, answers an ad in the paper looking for bounty hunters and embarks on a new career on the edge of the law.

Domino is certainly a fascinating character, Keira Knightly seems unlikely in this role but is, in fact, very good, and her story would seem to be a very interesting one.

However, this movie isn't really her story at all...in fact....this movie isn;t really anything. It looks fantastic, is very artfully shot, but...Scott seems so concerned with getting the film's look right that he completely loses focus when it comes to plot and characters. As such, this is a lot like sitting through a two hour music video, and the effect is little more than nauseating. You could alsom like the experience of watching this as being like sitting in front of a strobe light for two hours, and I'm surprised there's no warning for epileptics before the film starts.

I really feel for Keira Knightly here, she's put her heart and soul into this role and she really is very good...but the film is shot and edited in such a way that you just find it completely impossible to connect with her. You really don't care whether her or her friends live or die, and in a film like this, that's disasterous.

Rather than the fascinating bio-pic this could have been, we're subjected to a complex plot involving an inside job to steal ten million dollars from a Las Vegas hotellier and then pay it back to him to collect a three hundre dthousand dollar finders fee. This plot is hatched by Domino's gang's boss, and he seriosuly lands them in it by having them deliver a group of young men they've framed for the robbery to the mob to be executed. However, two of the young men are the sons of a mafia boss. So...Domino and her gang end up caught between the Las Vegas millionaire and the mafia. Messy business indeed....but you really don't care. Why? Because you never get to know any of the characters. Domino's life story is told in two or three extremely short flashbacks, so you never really learn who she is or what motivates her. We're really never given any other reason for her becoming a bounty hunter other tahn that she's bored and she wants to have some fun. It's all just too shallow. As for her two companions, they are almost totally blank slates who do little more than react to the situations they are in.

This is a total train wreck of a movie and given the subject matter and Tony Scott's excellent record as a director I really am at a loss as to explain why. This could have been so much better.

Rating: 5/10

Sunday, October 16, 2005

Movie Review: Sky High

Welcome to the second of my movie reviews.

I took my four year old son, Zak, to see this latest super-hero film today. I'm letting you know that because it probably effected by perception of the film (y'know...missing key scenes while I tell him to sit down and stop whinging about being hungry...).

The film stars eighteen year old Michael Angarano as fourteen year old Will Stronghold. Okay, why the reference to his age? There has been a lot of talk in the press about the possible need to recast the Harry Potter movies because the actors playing the kids will get "too old." At worst we're going to end up with a twenty year old Dan Radcliffe playing a seventeen year old Harry Potter (see...the press don't seem to get that Harry is actually supposed to be a year older in each book/film). I figure a twenty year old playing a seventeen year old is fairly passable. In this film we have a group of eighteen and nineteen year olds playing fourteen year olds...and one girl that the main character actually dates in the movie is played by a twenty one year old! Okay....that character's supposed to be in the year above...but a twenty one year old playing a fifteen year old girl??

I will NEVER understand Hollywood's obcession with getting people in their twenties to play teenagers. Mellissa Joan Hart, TV's Sabrina the Teenage Witch is the SAME AGE AS ME! Okay, I know they stopped making that show a while back...but I stopped being a teenager even longer ago. (And, yes, I did find out MJH's age just so I could prove to myself that my fancying her wasn't so creepy after all...). The maker's of the Harry Potter films have been extremely brave by casting young actors that are the same age as their characters, and I think they've proved that it works very well.

Ok, ok, rant over, is the film actually any good? The good news is that it's great, and the even better news is that because of the stupid age/casting thing the cute girls in it are 100% legal so, guys, you needn't feel so wrong for thinking they're hot Twisted Evil

Back to the movie... The film stars Michael Angarano as Will Stronghold, the son of the world's two greatest Super Heroes, The Commander (Kurt Russell) and Jetstream (Kelly Preston). Will, along with his best friend Layla (the extremely cute Danielle Panabaker) are just starting out at Sky High, the school for the children of super heros...where they will be sorted into two categories, Hero and Hero-Support (a PC term for sidekick). The problem is that Will has no powers and so is assigned to the Hero-Support stream (which is both embarassing and disappointing for his parents who were hoping he would be joining them in their little super team). Will's powers do eventually kick in, but not before he makes friends with a motly group of "geeks" in sidekick classes. He gets moved to the Hero stream after his powers emerge where he attracts the attentions of school "babe" Gwen. This leads to an inevitable betrayal of his old friends, particularly Layla, who is secretely in love with him. Add to this the fact that Will's dad has put his fellow student bad-boy Warren Peace's dad in triple life imprisonment and that Gwen is really...but...wait...let's not give too much away.

The movie could have been truly awful, but a strong cast and a witty script save it. Steven Strait is particularly good as Will's nemesis, Warren Peace. That the supporting cast includes Bruce Campbell can never be a bad thing. The one thing I didn't particularly buy was that Will would give Gwen a second look when Layla is about a million times hotter than she is.

Clearly the films writers have understood that the real reason people love super-hero comics is because of the soap opera style relationships between the characters. The super-heroics really take a back seat to what is pretty much a standard teen movie plot (but I love teen movies too).

There is, it must be said, very little that's original here. Every super power is lifted straight off the pages of a Marvel or DC comic book, and the general concept has been explored again and again in books like The New Mutants, Generation X and Academy X. But who cares? It's still a great movie, with super heros and cute girls!

I'll finish up with a summary of my four year olds comments on the movie: "I liked the fighting and I liked the bit where they all got turned into babies."

He's not into girls yet. It's not a bad thing.

Rating: 7/10

Friday, October 14, 2005

Movie Review: Serenity

Oh, this is the first of my movie reviews, so bear with me, eh?

Ok, last night I went to see Serenity, which is a continuation of Joss Whedon's prematurely cancelled series, Firefly. Now, I haven't seen Firefly so I came to this movie with almost no expectations. Pretty much all I knew was that, supposedly, if you like Star Wars then you'll like Serenity.

That's a pretty fair assesment as you can see that Joss Whedon has been clearly influenced by the Star Wars movies. The good news for most people will be that the influence is from the original trilogy and not the prequels (although, personally, I feel that Episode III redeemed the prequels [but I still find it hard to stay awake during Attack fo the Clones).

The big influences from Star Wars are the used, dirty, malfuntioning technology and the character of Han Solo...the Han Solo that shot first. The Serenity itself shares a lot in common with the Millennium Falcon. While it's a lot bigger, it's just as prone to breaking down at the wrong moment. It's Captain, Malcolm Reynolds (Nathan Fillion), shares a lot in common with the Falcon's captain too, albeit a Solo before he bumps into an old Jedi and his young apprentice.

At this point I should make it clear that these comparisons are in no way a bad thing. Indeed, one of the most disappointing things about the new Star Wars films was the clean, fully functioning un-Star Warsy ships and the complete lack of a Han Solo type character. For many people Han Solo was their favourite character, and for a lot of Star Wars fans Serenity will provide a welcome dose of Han Soloness.

Serenity is by no means just a Star Wars rip-off though and it's over all tone is a lot darker than any of George Lucas' films. Whedon shows himself to be a master storyteller and while genre fans will probably always be one step ahead of the plot the movie never falls into cliche.

The films biggest strength is the wonderful dialogue, through which you instantly connect with all of the main characters. That was always the best thing about Buffy, so it's no surprise that it's present here too.

What makes this film so absorbing though is also what differentiates it from the Star Wars movies. Whereas Lucas' universe is full of stark moral contrasts, where good and evil are clearly defined, almost all of the characters in Serenity inhabit a definite grey area, morally. Our heroes, the crew of the Serenity, are not averse to breaking the law to make ends meet, and our villains, The Alliance, sincerely believe they are acting in the interests of the greater good.

The effects are fantastic, though they never take centre stage. Film fans should look out for an incredibly long steady cam shot near the beginning of the film.

All in all this is an excellent film, exactly what I've been waiting for for a looooong time. Now I need to go buy the DVD box set of Firefly and see what I've been missing.

Rating: 8/10

Tuesday, October 04, 2005

Shine...Shine Like A Star!

It's a strange day today. My left ear is completely blocked and it feels like my head is in a goldfish bowl. Not that anyone out there really needs to know about my problem with excess earwax. Not that anyone out there is actually reading this.
I find it so hard to get motivated. I know I should really get working on Young Gods #2, or maybe sort out #1 so that I can try and sell it as an e-comic on eBay. I'm currently waiting to hear back from publishers regarding #1...I hate waiting for rejection.
I guess I should also continue working on Shine too, my other comic book project. Shine's been in the making since I was eighteen...that's over ten years! Basically Shine is just your average schoolgirl/superhero/intergalactic adventurer. She's the girl in the picture, the guy with her is Captain Jack (he'll get you high tonight!). Whereas The Young Gods is closely plotted and planned, Shine allows me to just be spontaneously creative. It'll just go off at odd tangents and be fairly free-form. Of course, that's going to make it harder to pitch to publishers, so I'm either going to have to produce something like six months worth of complete comics before submitting it or I'm going to have to keep it until after something else gets published.
With #1 of the Young Gods now complete, and the first six issues fairly tightly plotted, I'm wondering what to do with the concept if no-one wants to publish it (by the way, the pic' that I use for my profile is of Outrage, a character from the Young Gods). Do I just carry on and try to distribute the book myself...most likely in electronic form, or do I give up on it and try something else? Visually, I'm a lot happier with the work I've done on Shine, but I'm really pleased with the writing on the Young Gods...I actually surprised myself when I finished writing #1. I thought that it was going to be "just a bit of fun"...a fairly light hearted sci-fi/superhero romp...but I discovered while writing it that I actually had something to say. Hopefully someday you'll get to read it...hopefully someday someone might actually read this!
Well, I'll leave it here for tonight. I've just got done reading Marvel's (relatively) recent six-part Origin...which finally spills the beans on exactly where Logan came from...or does it? I'm still piecing together my opinions on the series but I'll probably post some thoughts tomorrow.
'Till then, this is me saying, "Sorry? What?"

Tuesday, September 27, 2005

One Man's Obcession With The Intangible

On one hand I'm hearing that there's no actual script for X-Men 3 yet, and on the other they're supposed to be filming it already.

What is certain is that Bryan Singer isn't directing it this time, instead Rush Hour 1 & 2 director Brett Ratner will be directing. I'm not sure if this will be a good or bad thing really. The production has gone through a lot of upheaval, but that's inevitable when you have your dirctor go and walk out on you (to direct Superman! Some people have no taste!). I initially loved both of Singer's X-Men movies, and was particularly pleased when he chose to maintain Magneto's Jewish origins, but I have to confess that his take on my favourite group of mutant super heros has fallen in my estimations over time. For me, they just don't hold up to multiple viewings. Not only this but...and this is not really Singer's fault...I can't help but blame the movies for what happened to the comics. By that I mean the rejection of the traditional costumes, for the bland, black leather, "Who is that?" costumes. There's a reason why super heros wear distinctive, brightly coloyured costumes...so you can easily tell who is who. Suddenly Marvel felt they ahd to target the comic at the audience for the movie...despite the fact that those people don't read comics...they watch movies...

Anyway, that's not really what i wanted this post to be about. Disregarding the merits of either director (and, judging by the Rush Hour movies, we can at least, hopefully, expect a more lighthearted approach to the franchise), what I really wanted to post about is the introduction of a new character to the series - Kitty Pryde.

OK, Kitty has technically appeared in the movies before, but she had a tiny part, this time around she's going to be featured more heavily, and she's going to be played by Ellen Page.

Click on her name and you will see why I'm now looking forward to this movie even with its change of director.

Let's just hope Ratner remembers her Star of David chain, eh?

Welcome to the Cyber Hellfire Club

Hello, good evening and welcome to the Cyber Hellfire Club!

The Cyber Hellfire Club was born many, many years ago in the now largely dead Comics and Anime forums on AOL. It was a community of X-Men fans who posted on AOL's Marvel Comics discussion forums...and more specifically in the PSharman's British Jokes folder.

I thought I'd carry on the torch of the CHC with this blog. I'll be using it to discuss all sorts of things, including comic books, but by no means limited to that subject.

Anyway, that'll do for now...I'll write more...much more...later!

Ian Sharman - The Red King