Pulp Fiction #2: The Man of Steel Turns 80!

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On April 18, 1938, National Publications presented Action Comics #1, showcasing typical comic book fare of the era like master magician Zatara, sports hero Pep Morgan, and adventurer Tex Thompson. And then there was the red-and-blue suited guy on the cover…

Yes, it’s Superman, strange visitor from another planet with powers and abilities far beyond those of mortal men… who can change the course of mighty rivers… bend steel in his bare hands… and so on and so forth! Eighty years ago tomorrow, Superman made his debut and changed the course of mighty comic book publishers forever. An immediate hit with youthful readers, Superman headlined his own comic a year later, spawned a slew of superhero imitators, became a super-merchandising machine, and conquered all media like no other before him!

Wayne Boring’s Superman

And to think he came from humble beginnings. No, not the planet Krypton, but from the fertile…

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Confessions of a TV Addict #2: A Fan’s Appreciation of Adam West

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Adam West, who died June 9th at age 88, will never be ranked among the world’s greatest thespians. He was no Brando or Olivier, no DeNiro or Pacino. His early career wasn’t very distinguished: one of Robert Taylor’s young charges in the final season of THE DETECTIVES, Paul Mantee’s doomed fellow astronaut in 1964’s ROBINSON CRUSOE ON MARS, the bumbling romantic lead in The Three Stooges’ THE OUTLAWS IS COMING (1965). Were it not for one role, no one would be mourning his loss today. But that one role, as millionaire Bruce Wayne aka BATMAN, captured the imagination of an entire nation, and remains the hero of an entire generation.

It’s hard to describe to anyone who wasn’t a kid in 1966 just what BATMAN meant to us. The series was a comic book come to life, before comics became “dark and brooding” little psychodramas for fanboys. Comic Books were OUR medium…

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Sock! Pow! Zok!: STARRING ADAM WEST (documentary, 2014)

adam3Holy high camp! STARRING ADAM WEST is a fun documentary about the quest to get a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame for 60s TV star Adam BATMAN West. The film also serves as a biography of the cult actor, from his humble beginnings as a child in Walla Walla, Washington to his rise as TV’s biggest star of the mid-60s, and his fall after being typecast as the Caped Crusader reduced to performing in crappy car shows and carnivals. West later resurrected his career as an ironic icon in the 90s and still does voice work today, notably on the animated FAMILY GUY. Through all the ups and downs, the star has retained both his sense of humor and love of family. An entertaining look at a down to earth guy in the what-have-you-done-for-me-lately world of show biz, STARRING ADAM WEST is playing all this month on Showtime.


T.V. Review: Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. – Season 1, Episode 4 (“Eye-Spy”)


I’ve been a fan of Joss Whedon shows since he first burst onto the scene with Buffy, The Vampire Slayer over on what used to be the WB Network. I’ve followed his work from one show to the next and if there’s one thing all his shows seems to have in common it’s that they take time to find their stride. In the past, shows were given time to get their bearings. See what  works and what doesn’t in a narrative sense. These first few episodes also give the writers a chance to flesh out characters for the long run. Yet, in this day and age of instant gratification Whedon and company may not have the luxury to take their time to get their footing, so to speak.

Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D. has been good to so-so the first three episodes. While all the episodes have been fun there’s also a feeling that ABC and Disney were really going on the cheap side of production with these episodes. It’s almost as if the powers-that-be producing the show were hedging their bets as to whether the show will be a sure-fire hit or a dud soon to be cancelled. This is Whedon we’re talking about whose last two series haven’t really panned out despite a rabid fanbase.

I think with tonight’s episode, “Eye-Spy”, the series may finally be finding its rhythm. It’s still not a perfect show. The fun factor is still present as is the witty banter that comes with a Whedon show, but where the first three episode looked somewhat cheap this fourth entry had a much more polished look to it. Maybe Disney and ABC finally loosened the purse strings. Even the look of the episode had a subtle change to it. Gone was the overlit scenes that added to the cheapness of the production. We actually were given scenes with shadows and darkness. There wasn’t an overlit sequence to be seen.

Let’s return to the episode at hand.

Tonight’s episode sees Agent Coulson taking the team to Stockholm, Sweden to investigate an apparent diamond heist. The heist itself was a nice cold opening. With over a dozen men dressed in matching black suits and all wearing those creepy red “Stranger” masks. First reaction to this was that they must be part of some sort of secret organization that was probably actively going against S.H.I.E.L.D. Yet, the writers do a 180 and we find out they’re just an elaborate, albeit unsuccessful, attempt to keep a briefcase carrying 30million dollars in diamonds from being stolen. We’re soon introduced to the target of Coulson and his team. One Akela Amador, a rogue S.H.I.E.L.D. agent and one-time Coulson protege, who may appear to be more than meets the eye.

This whole episode has been about getting a bit more character development for Agent Coulson and his latest protege, Rising Tide hacktivist Skye. The chemistry between the Coulson and Skye looks to be more well-developed than the love interest angle the writers have been trying to create between Skye and field agent Ward. While the latter looks like it’s still a hit-or-miss proposition the former looks to be developing quite nicely. If there’s one thing Whedon and his writers have been very adept at creating in their past shows it’s setting up the mentor/protege relationship. The best example would be Buffy and her Giles who also didn’t start off on the right footing in the early episodes of Buffy’s first season, but as time passed that relationship grew and there’s signs of something similar happening between Coulson and Skye.

The writing for tonight’s episode was crisper than the previous episode. We got less forced humorous moments. The dialogue actually flowed much more smoothly and allowed for the funny bits to come across naturally. Once again it’s Clark Gregg as Agent Coulson that provides the rock upon which the rest of the cast steady themselves. There’s an almost old-fashion earnestness to Gregg’s portrayal of Coulson which have endeared the character to legions of fans.

So, it’s only natural that the episode provide some more hints and bits of dialogue that Coulson may not be who he appears to be as well. Theories continue to abound that Coulson may be a Life-Model Decoy or being set-up to be future Avenger recruit Vision. There’s also some talk that he was revived by sorcery which means it’s a step to introducing magic and Dr. Strange to the MCU (Marvel Cinematic Universe). In the end, the mystery of how Coulson survived the mortal wound he received from Loki might just be the main mystery of the show’s first season.

“Eye-Spy” was was written by Whedon-veteran Jeffrey Bell and directed by Star Trek alumni Roxann Dawson (better known as B’Elanna Torres from Star Trek: Voyager). The two worked well together and I’ll be interested to seeing the two become more involved in moving the show through it’s first season. So far, they seem to have found the necessary balance of spy intrigue, superhero action and witty byplay that the first three seemed to lack.

time will tell if the show will be a huge success or just good enough to survive it’s first season. But seeing how much Marvel and Disney have invested in adding this show as an integral cog in their Marvel Cinematic Universe I see Whedon and his writers getting a bit more leeway than they’ve had in the past (looking at you Fox Network executives).

Scenes I Love: “The Orange Man” from Unbreakable.

There’s a part of me that really wants to see M. Night Shyamalan come back into his own again. I think somewhere between The Village and Lady in the Water, he started this strange descent. But back in 2000, he had “Unbreakable” which wasn’t bad at all. The story of a man who discovers he has abilities far beyond normal people, Unbreakable could be considered one of the first ‘every person superhero’ films. As with some origin stories, Unbreakable’s David Dunn has to come to terms with what he can do. Once he’s put on the path by a Comic Book aficionado (played by Samuel L. Jackson), he heads off to do some good.

The above is David Dunn taking down a home invader with a simple choke hold. Enjoy.

The first time I saw this scene was on DVD, with my little brother. This part in particular left us with smiles. It’s not so much what takes place, but the music behind it. James Newton Howard’s score takes what would normally be a quick action theme (for a story like this) and uses a dramatic piece to cover the scene. I thought it worked really well here. It also reminds me that as he wasn’t working on The Dark Knight Rises score with Hans Zimmer, you might not find a lot of those softer themes. Then again, with Gotham in turmoil, maybe that’s not the kind of music it needs right now.

Trailer: The Dark Knight Rises (Official Teaser)

The first official teaser trailer for the third and final installment of Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight Saga has finally arrived in it’s official form. The teaser had leaked in bootleg form last week. People who went to watch Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 were able to see the teaser in all it’s glory on the big-screen and from my own experience it was one of the major highlight’s even before the main attraction began.

The teaser trailer plays exactly as it sounds. It teases just enough to begin the buzz and hype which should run a full year before the film’s release. We see glimpses of Tom Hardy in the role of Bane. Most of the teaser has Police Commissioner Jim Gordon in a hospital bed looking like he may have just gone a round or two with Bane. It also brings back the lesson first given to Bruce Wayne by Ra’s al Ghul from the first film about how a man could become a legend. There’s even some Inception-like imagery of crumbling high-rises that could only mean Gotham City itself now under siege.

It’s going to be a long wait til The Dark Knight Rises premieres in the theaters on July 20, 2012.

Trailer: Captain America: The First Avenger (Theatrical)

The summer of 2011 has been called the Summer of Superhero Films. In early May we had Marvel Studios’ Thor film premiere to good reviews and it has had a certain level of success (though not the level of The Dark Knight success rabid fanboys and jaded film bloggers think every comic book-based film should be doing). Then next up was the fourth X-Men film from Twentieth Century Fox by Matthew Vaughn that seem to reboot the franchise from it’s downward spiral begun by the third film and the Wolverine origins film. This film garnered even higher praise than Thor and many saw it as equaling or surpassing the X2. While it’s box-office success has been good it didn’t make the sort of money previous films in the franchise have made in years past. Then we come to the recently released Green Lantern from Warner Brothers and DC Entertainment.

This film was to be the next crown jewel to join DC’s successful Batman film franchise and iconic Superman series which seems to be the only DC properties to have had a successful live-action adaptation. While the film did very good in it’s first weekend the reviews of the film range from “ok and fun” at best to “downright awful” at its worst. All three films have huge budgets and, most likely, all three will be a profit for their studios, but not runaway hits.

Maybe the public has begun to tire of superhero films as a cause for the less than cosmic box-office returns. One other reason could be that too many people have been blinded by the massive box-office success of Christopher Nolan’s The Dark Knight that every superhero film must now be compared to that one fair or not. This makes the job much harder for Marvel Studios’ second film of the summer, Captain America: The First Avenger, as that film looks to cement the foundation for next summer’s major blockbuster ensemble superhero film, The Avengers.

I don’t see Captain America doing TDK level money, but early screenings of the film has earned it some major positive buzz that had been missing from Thor. That early positive buzz and this latest trailer which really showcases the action of this period piece of a superhero film should help push Captain America to be a success no matter if it makes 200million dollars domestic or more.

One thing I’m sure of is that this latest trailer should be more people excited for Captain America: The First Avenger when it comes out on July 22, 2011.