Awesome List: Amazons from Space, Jack Sparrow tells all, flying gorillas, Moon Town, Keira does Shakespeare, and much much more

“Amazons from Space” and other stories

I never had this Wonder Woman one, but I had a couple of these superhero records (like this Hulk book-and-record one) when I was a kid. Clicking either of those links will take you to the Power Records blog where you’ll find tons of these things. Very cool site.

Indiana Jones makes everything better

X-box

Jack Sparrow tells all

Confessions of a Disneyland Captain Jack. It’s an extremely interesting behind-the-scenes look into the challenges of adapting a drunken, horny pirate to a family setting without losing the initial appeal. Be sure to read all the way to the end. It sounds like he’s complaining in parts, but it’s got a very sweet finish.

Disney wanted us to tone Jack down, so they put us through an acting class to discover reasons why Jack walks and talks the way he does. Obviously he is based on Keith Richards, who’s always messed up, which is why they came up with the class. “Don’t be flirtatious,” they told us. “See women as trouble.” And they said as far as alcohol goes, don’t even mention drinking. But the Pirates of the Caribbean song is all about drinking, and they’re drinking all along the ride. So I eventually broke that rule, because it would have taken me out of character. When parents took pictures, I’d say, “Everyone say ‘rum,’ ” and the parents loved it.

Flying gorillas

Do you remember my raving about Gene Gonzales’ flying gorilla? Turns out its for Perils on Planet X, so we can thank Christopher Mills and be even more excited about his and Gene’s comic.

Moon Town

Moon Town is a series of science-fiction episodes being created by writer/director Steve Ogden. He is planning to use a ‘Production-Based’ approach to developing the series, in hopes of keeping down the production cost and amount of time it takes to develop each episode. Look for finished episodes to be released online in serial form. The first episode, “Arrival,” is slated for completion in Spring 2008.” (Thanks, SF Signal!)

Tintin movies a trilogy

Sounds like Spielberg’s directing the first one, Peter Jackson’s got the second one, and they’re co-directing the last.

I’ve never seen a review of an action figure doll before

At least, not one this in depth. Lots of great pictures too. It really is a great-looking doll.

Devil May Care

The new Bond novel is out. I had my hands on it the other night at Borders, but decided I didn’t have time to read it right now. Besides, I’m saving up for the Fleming hardcovers. Devil May Care is definitely on my list though.

“So young, my lord, and true.”

It’s no secret that we like Keira Knightley around here. And thanks to a re-watch of Emma and her performance in Iron Man, I’m kinda developing a crush on Gwyneth Paltrow too. Put them together with Anthony Hopkins and you’ve got a can’t-miss King Lear. The only thing that could make it better would be for Kenneth Branagh to write, direct, and produce, but we’ll give this Joshua Michael Stern fella a chance too.

Hulk connections

Saw Iron Man again last night and dang it if I didn’t forget to look for Captain America’s shield at the appropriate time. I thought about it as the movie started and then got sucked in and didn’t think again about Easter eggs. (Or maybe I was just way distracted by Gwyneth Paltrow.)

I’ll probably do the same with The Incredible Hulk, which is going to have plenty of its own Easter eggs and connections to other Marvel movies.

The Chronicles of Narnia: Prince Caspian (2008)

So now we’re in new territory for me with the Narnia series. I’d read The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe as a kid and knew something of what to expect from the movie, but Prince Caspian was a whole, new thing. Unfortunately, I had basically the same reaction to it as to the first movie.

MAJOR SPOILERS BELOW.

You can’t get away from the Lord of the Rings comparisons in your head, especially when walking trees join a battle or the bad guys start to cross a river and the water begins to magically rise. And I don’t think it’s unfair to make those comparisons anyway. Disney certainly meant for the Narnia series to help cash in on the Lord of the Rings craze, so it’s perfectly appropriate to hold these movies up to that standard.

Of course I understand that Lewis was trying to do something very different from Tolkien. The two even argued about whose approach was better. But I side with Tolkien in that discussion and even if I didn’t, there’s just no matching what Peter Jackson did with those movies. Nothing will ever be that good again.

Though Prince Caspian was marketed a little darker than Wardrobe, it’s got the same kids-movie feel. There’s plenty of hacking and slashing, but no blood. I didn’t want gore, but it didn’t have to be as sterile as they made it. And at times, it gets downright ridiculous. Look, I love Susan and would love to see her kicking more butt in hand-to-hand combat instead of just shooting arrows all the time, but having her knock out soldiers by hitting them with her bow is silly. They went so far in trying to make it kid-friendly that it pulled me out of the action. So much stabbing was going on off-camera that I couldn’t tell when main characters were being wounded.

But that’s not the worst of it. Something else that kept yanking me out of the story is Lewis’ need to make theological points with the plot. That’s the thing I alluded to earlier that Tolkien also didn’t care for. I don’t know what Tolkien’s specific issues were with Lewis’ style, but in Caspian at least there’s a general problem with manipulating the story to fit the theology. Aslan can’t reveal himself to anyone unless they seek him, because that’s how God works. I appreciate the commentary on the nature of faith – truly I do – but it doesn’t make any sense in the story. All we’re given by way of explanation is some vague rule about how “things never happen the same way twice.” Whatever, Aslan.

And the ending…

I can take a downer ending if the story calls for it. I usually prefer a happy ending, but if Hamlet’s got to die to make the point and the whole story has been moving in that direction, so be it. But there’s no reason to send the kids packing back to England at the end here. In the last movie, they got to stay and grow up and have many other adventures together. Why do they get kicked out this time? Oh yeah, “things never happen the same way twice.” How frustratingly arbitrary.

Especially for Peter and Susan who are told they never even get to come back because they’ve “learned everything Narnia has to teach them.” What is that supposed to mean? And it especially especially sucks for Susan who’s fallen for Caspian and why can’t she stay with him instead of going back to England where the nerdy stalker awaits? ‘Cause Aslan says so, that’s why. Maybe there’s some kind of lesson there about questioning God, but leave it out of my fairy tales. Or at least bother to make it make sense in the context of the story you’re telling.

‘Cause except for those two, major problems, Prince Caspian is a very fine fantasy story. I love the Narnia that Lewis has created with all its talking animals and minotaurs and werewolves and dwarves and ice queens and Santa Claus. I love the explanation about where Caspian’s people came from. I love the battle scenes and Peter’s nicely choreographed duel with Caspian’s uncle. I love the extremely powerful and effective White Queen cameo. I love Eddie Izzard as the voice of the chivalrous, swashbuckling mouse Reepicheep. I love swashbuckling mice. I love Liam Neeson and Peter Dinklage and Anna Popplewell. I love the kids’ (especially Peter’s) not being able to adjust to life as young children in England with the memories of having grown old in Narnia. I love that Edmund has learned that it’s better to trust Lucy. I love that castle and the storming of it. I love that water giant.

So much to love. I just wish they’d let me focus on those things all the time instead of bloodless battles and stupid rules about magic.

Three out of five swashbuckling mice.

Thanks, Siskoid!

Siskoid’s Blog of Geekery is one of my favorite places on the Internet, so it was a very cool honor to be chosen as his “Someone Else’s Post for the Week” a week or so ago. It made me realize though that I really needed a different banner for my blog than “Blogger Generic.”

When I shame-facedly admitted that to Siskoid, he proved his awesomeness further by volunteering to make me a new banner. Which you now see at the top of the page there. Indy, flying saucers, and dinosaurs. Everything a growing boy needs. I decided the rest of the blog needed a new look to go with it, so I’m trying out this seaside theme. For me, the ocean is adventure.

Thanks, Siskoid. Final Rating: HOT!

Awesome List: Runaways movie, Moon Nazis, Sea Freak, Steranko, Fleming movie, and the coolest Hulk toy ever

Runaways: The Movie

I quit reading Runaways when Brian K. Vaughan quit writing it. News of a Runaways movie makes me realize how much I miss those characters. Especially Molly (pictured above).

Night at the Museum 2

I’m not quite as thrilled about a possible sequel to Night at the Museum as I am a Runaways movie, but the first one didn’t suck and I’m all for any movie with the potential for more dinosaurs chasing security guards down hallowed halls.

Iron Sky

“In 1945 the Nazis fled to the moon. In 2018 they are coming back.” I want this on DVD right now.

Manhunter interview

Like all lovers of excellent superhero comics, I’m way looking forward to the return from hiatus of DC’s Manhunter. Comic Book Resources has a talk with series writer Marc Andreyko that’s got me even more pumped up.

Andreyko said he has the next six to eight arcs for “Manhunter” in various stages of planning but his goal is to hit the century mark with the title. “My dream is to get to #100,” he said. “So please, buy this book.”

Sea Freak

If that panel doesn’t make you want to check out Sea Freak, nothing will. (Thanks, JK!)

Steranko’s Radical covers

Comic Book Resources has another great conversation up, this time with the Awesome Jim Steranko on his cover (and possible, future interior) work for Radical Comics.

we felt the traditional action approach would be a cliche. The Radical version is different from all other comics’ versions and I felt my cover should underscore that quality. So, instead of casting it in spine-cracking action, I did the opposite: I visualized a silently inert, fearsomely intense Hercules, a Hercules just before the storm, a moment crackling with tension!

Hulk (and friends) Mighty Muggs

These Marvel Mighty Muggs are all great, but look at that Hulk one. Mike Want!

Scrubs creator dishes on NBC

I just watched the NBC Scrubs “finale” the other night. As fun as it was, what a crappy way to end an even crappier relationship between the show and the network that’s screwed it over for the last seven years. Here’s to an excellent final season on ABC.

…when we first did the show, it was a drama with elements of comedy and lots of stupid sound effects. But some of the strongest episodes in the second and third year had character comedy. You can still do things like kill Brendan Fraser and have the lady that loved musical theater die and then sing a song at the end. This became a very Simpsons-esque show with incredibly broad, unrealistic moments and fantasies that were both in reality and not in reality. When you’ve been writing this show for seven years, it’s so easy to get into these patterns of writing the same jokes over and over: J.D. loves Turk, J.D. wants Dr. Cox’s approval, Elliot’s whiny and neurotic. But this year the stuff is really f–king good. I think our old stand-by fans are really going to dig these shows.

Fleming: The Movie

Leonardo DiCaprio’s bought the rights to make a fictionalized biopic (à la Shakespeare in Love or Finding Neverland) about Ian Fleming, presumably with lots of extra spy stuff thrown in.

Elemental

Rufus Sewell’s new show
has a new name. Cannot wait for this one.

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull (2008)

SPOILERS BELOW. Lots and lots of SPOILERS. I’m serious. Don’t read this unless you’ve seen the movie or don’t care if you know everything about it before you go.

It was a good thing I knew about the aliens. It was a good thing I knew that George Lucas has gone absolutely insane and decided to make the new Indy movie a scifi flick. I had it spoiled for me a couple of weeks ago by thoughtless bloggers who made references to aliens in their freaking post titles. I was ticked at the time, but now I’m glad. I’m glad that I had a couple of weeks to get used to the idea.

My brother-in-law Dave had managed to avoid just about every spoiler, so the aliens completely blindsided him. I think he had a tougher time with the movie than I did.

I try to rationalize the aliens. The first three films were set in the ’30s and were homages to the cliffhanger serials of those days. This one’s set in the ’50s, so a scifi theme makes some sort of thematic sense. What it doesn’t make though is an Indiana Jones movie, and that’s where my rationalization fails.

And unfortunately, the scifi plot isn’t the only problem. There are tons of plot holes and other dropped or unexplored elements in this thing. The movie opens with Indy’s having been captured by Russian spies who are looking for the body of one of the Roswell aliens. Indy escapes, but he’s betrayed by a friend who’s now working for the Soviets. Later, the FBI questions Indy, not just about what happened, but also about his loyalty to the country. Indy’s friend’s betrayal has cast a suspicious light on Indy too and the university where he teaches forces him into early retirement.

I know this is all trying to ground the movie in its historical setting during the McCarthy era of the Cold War, and that’s fine (especially the Janitor from Scrubs playing one of the FBI men). What’s dumb is everyone’s attitude towards Indy at the end of the movie. The movie’s plot is about a young greaser named Mutt (Shia LaBeouf) who asks Indy to help rescue a mutual friend of theirs. There’s no world-saving going on. National security isn’t in jeopardy. Yet once Indy returns from the mission, everyone’s forgotten that he’s a suspected communist. They even make him a dean at the university.

Then there’s the problem with the central plot. We’re supposed to believe that somewhere in a hidden temple in Peru are twelve alien skeletons, one of which is missing a skull. When the skull is returned, the aliens will impart great power and knowledge to whomever wants to listen. What’s never explained is how the skull went missing in the first place. If these aliens are that powerful, how did a Spanish conquistador and his pals manage to take one of their heads, depowering them until it was returned?

But really, that’s not the biggest problem. The biggest problem is the whole focus on aliens as ancient benefactors of human civilization. And not because it’s silly, but because it’s so unoriginal. Yeah, sure, Indy and friends may not have run across that theory yet in the ’50s, but anyone who’s seen Stargate sure has. Yet, it’s played up as the big, central mystery in Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. When someone holds the crystal skull up to a painting of Mayan gods and notices that the shapes match, it’s presented as a big, revelatory moment. But it’s not. It’s anti-climactic is what it is.

I also don’t get the big distinction between aliens from space and “interdimensional travelers.” Are we supposed to think it’s a more original concept because they’re from another dimension instead of a different planet?

And what’s with Indy’s not really doing any of the figuring out, but just following John Hurt’s clues? Who’s the hero of this thing again?

Another big disappointment was the missed opportunity for cameos in that last scene. I really didn’t expect to see Short Round show up, but how awesome would that have been? Or Willie? If no one else, they should have at least had Sallah there.

In spite of all that though, I actually really liked the movie. I wanted to get my complaining out of the way first, but honestly, pound for pound, I don’t think aliens are any sillier than an immortal knight guarding the Holy Grail. And there’s a lot else to like about this movie. I haven’t liked any of the Indy movies as much as Raiders, and I don’t expect I ever will. It’s pointless to try to rank the other three. They all have things I like and dislike.

Shia LaBeouf is pretty awesome. I don’t take back what I said yesterday about not being able to call a Shia vehicle Indy 5, but I do take back the tone of that post. It may not be Indy, but I’d totally be excited to watch a movie about Mutt. And his interaction with Indy was perfect. It could have been very painful to watch them try to force that character into the film, but they really did a nice job on him and making him fit.

It was also nice to see Marion again. I wish she’d had more to do, but there were already a lot of characters in the movie and there wasn’t enough time to focus on them all. What she did do was cool. She reminded me why I liked her so much in Raiders and have missed her since then.

Other cool things: the car chase through the jungle, killer ants, Indy’s hat, the Lost Ark cameo, the fight in the Area 51 warehouse, Indy’s getting stuck at ground zero for an A-bomb test about ten seconds before detonation, Shia and the monkeys, Marion’s getting the duck into the water, Indy’s missing his dad and Marcus Brody, quicksand, Cate Blanchett, Indy’s momentarily getting so excited by the mystery that he starts working with the Soviets, Mutt’s having to rein Indy back in, and the jungle setting in general.

The plot is heavily flawed, but they still managed to make it a fun adventure full of great characters we really like and want to see more of. Bring on Indy 5.

Four out of five killer ant mounds.

Awesome List: Lots of Indy stuff, lots of cool stuff returning, and some Cap/Thor movie details

Wait… Indy’s not real?!

I am shocked! SHOCKED, I tell you!

The Lost Ark Raiders, on the other hand…

Are very real. And German.

Indiana Jones makes everything better, part 468

Magazines.

Indy 5 possible

And Lucas is already figuring out ways to make it suck:

I haven’t even told Steven or Harrison this, but I have an idea to make Shia the lead character next time and have Harrison come back, like Sean Connery did in the last movie. I can see it working out.

That’s just depressing. George, you do realize you couldn’t call it Indiana Jones and the Whatever, don’t you?

No, you probably don’t.

Hey, you guuuuuuuys!

On a potentially much happier note, The Sesame Workshop is bringing back The Electric Company. I’m not holding my breath that it’ll have those Awesome Spider-Man segments or Easy Reader, but I bet Letterman’s a possibility.

Music to kill spies to

Bitter:Sweet’s first album The Mating Game was really darn good. Especially the title song, which someone should just build a James Bond movie around right now. Their new album Drama is coming out next month and from the tracks I’ve heard, it sounds even better than the first.

Seaguy returns

I was apparently too stupid the first time around to recognize the genius behind a heroic scuba-diver, a cigar-chomping tuna, and a moon-building Pharoah. Fortunately, opportunity sometimes knocks twice.

Flash Gordon reboot, take two

After the abysmal failure of the SciFi Network’s Flash Gordon series to be cool, it’s nice to hear that we may get to cleanse our palates with a fresh try. I’m guessing we have the upcoming Buck Rogers movie to thank for Hollywood’s interest.

Get it right, guys.

Captain America and Thor movie details (very general spoilers below)

Captain America will be a WWII period piece, though I’m guessing it’ll end with him in modern times (or that’ll happen early in the Avengers movie). Thor will be a fantasy film largely taking place in Asgard. It’s going to be so hard to get the Thor movie right, but I’m rooting for them.