This is the time of year when fans of all stripes travel to their favorite meccas to mingle with like-minded individuals, view and sometimes purchase some small sampling of that which made them fans in the first place.
The San Diego Comic-con is in full swing and it's no surprise that folks are looking to see what's happening next to their favorite characters, not only in print, but on the large screen. You'd have to be living under a rock to not notice how big an influence cartoons and comics have had on hollywood. And the toy industry is making inroads as well, as seen by last year's successful Transformers movie and the upcoming GI Joe film.
My favorite show is Gencon, where the largest collection of gaming geeks converge to talk, play, buy, play and play more games. Gencon has been going through some changes lately, but it's still going on in Indiana. Rumor has it that it might be moving back to it's original home in Wisconsin. I won't be able to get away to this year's show, but I'm hoping to visit next year.
So that's some of the things you might be missing this summer. What are you up to?
Well, this summer movie season is turning out to be the year of the superhero. Last weekend's release of Batman, the Dark Knight, is the latest in a long slew of comic book-based outings that includes Ironman, the Incredible Hulk, and Hellboy 2. Will Smith's Hancock also deals with a superhero of sorts, though that film takes a slightly different approach.
I did go to see the Dark Knight on Saturday and I do have to say that Heath Ledger's performance as the Joker is everything everyone has said it was. In fact, I found myself looking forward to his next appearance on screen. Perhaps it was because Christian Bale's performance was so wooden as to fade into the furniture. But maybe it was the story as well. I cannot fault the screenplay for making the Joker's sadistic actions so eratic and creepy, but at the end of the film, I was not left wanting more.
The opposite could be said about Ironman, where Downy Jr.'s portrayal of a man who never saw a problem he couldn't fix with cash or gadgets (usually both) seemed real and on the mark. The director deserves high marks for making Ironman an industrial thriller that just happens to have folks with high-powered exoskeletons fighting it out.
And that, I think, gets to the heart of the matter of what works or doesn't work in superhero movies. In the films that work, the characters are part of the story, rather than having a story built around them.
By the way, the idea for this week's cartoon actually came from many years ago when I first heard that Michael Keaton was getting the starring role in Tim Burton's Batman. Up to that moment, Keaton was known as the slacker screw-up from films like Mr. Mom and the Dream Team. Certainly not super hero material. But Burton made it work.
Oh, and extra points if you know the film (not a super hero movie) that that contains the song that shares the same title with this blog entry.
It's only a matter of time before Indiana Jones delves into mysteries a little closer to home.
I did go to see the new Indiana Jones movie and frankly, I was a little disappointed. Dr. Jones continues to solve mysteries, but the big difference is that we're no longer allowed to participate in the puzzle solving process. The clues are no longer shared with us, just the answers. The end result is that where we used to go along for the ride, now we are just passive observers. The result left me feeling a little empty.
However, you may enjoy seeing some other Indiana Jones stories that have not been seen for many years. In the early 90's there was a short lived television series called the Young Indiana Jones Chronicles. Produced by Geroge Lucas, these episodes showed Indiana Jones brushing shoulders with all manner of historical figures from Teddy Roosevelt and T.E. Lawrence to Pablo Picasso and Norman Rockwell. The stories are, of course, fictionalized, but in addition to the fun we expect from Indiana Jones, the episodes present some brilliantly recreated glimpses into world history. The only downside is that the DVD series no longer contain the "bumper" segments with "old" Indiana Jones that preceeded and ended each episode in the original broadcast. The episodes are now presented in chronological order according to Indy's age instead of in the order in which they were broadcast. The result of this is that the change in age of the actor portraying the 10-year old Indy is very noticiable. Still, the stories are still entertaining and if you're a fan of Indiana Jones or twentieth century history, you should check these out.
Hey folks, we're in the process of moving, so I hope you'll forgive me the outrageous pun this week.
I intended to share with you the latest news on next summer's Star Trek movie, but oddly enough, nothing has been released since they announced the premiere date had moved from December 2008 to May 2009.
So here's a clip from a TV show that was never made - Montgomery Scott in the 24th Century!