Archive for January, 2013

Cool stuff I want, Part 100,000,011: Cactus Jack T-Shirt

Posted in Stuff, Television on January 25, 2013 by thebigsmoke

Bang, bang! This entry may or may not fall into the category of “cool”, depending on how you feel about wrestling. I am unashamedly a big fan of Mick Foley (A.K.A. Cactus Jack, Dude Love and Mankind) both in the wresling ring and out. I am currently enjoying his first autobiography, Have a Nice Day (I have already read the second, Foley is Good) and it’s making me want to wear one of these t-shirts. I might even get a red flannel shirt to go with it and take to wearing it all the time. Here’s the get-up in action:

And some of Foley’s wrestling highlights, for you poor, poor uninitiated:

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Once Upon a Time in the West Side

Posted in Film on January 21, 2013 by thebigsmoke

I lamented in my last movie review that nobody reined Peter Jackson in when he made The Hobbit.  The same goes for Quentin Tarantino and Django Unchained to an extent, but Django was a much better movie and I can’t really complain too much.  Fantastic performances from a really great cast and it moved along with pace.

I was going to post a long dissection of Django and all the influences that Tarantino brought together, but then decied I can’t be bothered.  He managed to make a really good, fun film.  Just go see it and enjoy.

5 comics which should be adapted and 5 comics that shouldn’t

Posted in Comics, Film, Television on January 7, 2013 by thebigsmoke

Arguably we need more comic book adaptations like we need more TV shows about the Kardashians, but I’m going to plough on regardless.

Although comic books have been relentlessly mined for ideas by Hollywood, there are still some books and characters which have yet to be fully exploited.  With this in mind, here are five which I think would lend themselves to great television or movie adaptations and five which wouldn’t.

Comics which should be adapted:

5. Daredevil

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I struggled with number 5 on this list and I know, I know; there was already a Daredevil movie.  However, it was terrible, despite the fact that to me Daredevil seems well-suited for movie adaptation.  Although his powers are fantastical, there has always been a serious quality to the character which could translate well to live action.  Frank Miller’s ‘Man Without Fear’ and ‘Born Again’ story arcs need further attention.

4. Incognito

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This series has a great hook: Zack Overkill is a supervillain in witness protection who finds that his powers are no longer being dampened by the government-issued drugs he’s taking.  After a few good deeds, he finds he has once again brought himself to the attention of the supervillain community against which he testified.  No boring origin story, just a novel idea that draws you in.

3. Iron Fist

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The potential for amazing action and fight choreography makes this one obvious to me.  Plus Iron Fist is just really cool, even if he’s not as well-known as the likes of Iron Man or Captain America.  I put the character a little above other notables like Black Panther and Dr Strange in terms of awesome movie potential.

2. Super Crooks

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Mark Millar’s stuff lends itself well to movie adaptation (Wanted, Kick Ass).  This is partly because he obviously writes with movie adaptation in mind.  If this is unfair then at the very least I think he visualizes his comics as movies as he’s writing, which gives them a unique dynamic quality.  The first volume of Super Crooks was a great self-contained heist story starring a bunch of second tier supervillains.  With the inclusion of this and Incognito, I am maybe a sucker for stories centred on supervillains; but this one is begging for movie treatment.

1. Y: The Last Man

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Ask me to pick my favourite comic book series of all time and Brian K. Vaughn’s Y: The Last Man is up there.  Literally overnight, every male animal on Earth dies from a mysterious “plague” but for Yorick Brown.  The rest of the series chronicles his heart-rending quest to discover why he was spared and find a way to repopulate the male population.

The success of The Walking Dead TV show there is an appetite for this kind of thing.  Although the two series have several qualities in common, I found Y: The Last Man a better read than TWD, with a more interesting premise.  The series never loses momentum and the ending is completely satisfying.

Comics which shouldn’t be adapted:

5. Nemesis

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Another character-owned series from Mark Millar, and there was talk of Tony Scott filming an adaptation before his suicide in 2011.  My objection to it being adapted: it’s just not all that good.  Leave it alone.

4. Luke Cage

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The original “Hero for Hire” is one of my favourite characters ever, but there was a time to bring Luke Cage to the big screen and that time was called the 1970s.  Seriously, the comic started as a response to the popularity of blaxploitation films (he even operated out of a cinema on 42nd Street) and that’s the kind of Luke Cage movie I want to see.  Modern-day Cage is sort of dull thanks to Brian Michael Bendis’ treatment.

3. Sandman

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I may be slightly prejudiced here, because I’ve never been bowled over by the comics or anything much from Neil Gaiman.  However, Sandman is one of the most popular comic books ever written and has received all kinds of acclaim for its literary pretentions, and I do understand why people heap praise on the comics.  I think the stories work just fine in comics, but try translating it to the screen and you will start to see some cracks.

2. Preacher

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Preacher is on a par with Y: The Last Man in terms of picking my favourite comic book series, but these days I have very little interest in seing a movie or television adaptation.  I read Garth Ennis’ proposed movie script and it was horrible, but even without that wake-up call I struggle to see how the gross out humour and extreme violence which defined the comic could make it to the big screen intact.

1. Justice League

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The Avengers movie showed that superhero team movies can work, but the Avengers are a different kind of team to the Justice League.  What do I mean?  Well, the Justice League has always been a bit of a clusterfuck.  The truth is Superman is vastly powerful and more capable than most if not all of the rest of the team.  Although as iconic and popular, Batman is completely without special abilities and Christopher Nolan’s trilogy seems to show that as a character in movies he is best suited to a more realistic setting.  I cringe when I imagine Christian Bale’s Batman side by side with costumed heroes like Wonder Woman, Superman and Green Lantern.  It works in the comics, but it’s a stretch to make a live action version at all credible.  I know it looks like a cash cow on paper, but don’t bother, Warner Brothers.

The Hobbit: An Unexpected Trilogy

Posted in Books, Film on January 5, 2013 by thebigsmoke

The Hobbit is made for the fans.  If you absolutely love the Tolkien book, you will love Peter Jackson’s adaptation.  For fans of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, this is basically more of the same.  Why and how they turned The Hobbit into a trilogy of films is a bit of a mystery to me and watching the first installment didn’t provide any further insight.  If you are anything less than obsessive about Tolkien, you will be likely to find this a meandering and self-satisfied affair, although not without a few positives.

We hear so many stories about films being cut and edited horribly, and the popularity of “Director’s Cut” editions is testament to this.  There is something particularly tragic about a director being forced to trim and distort his or her artistic vision.  It is rare that you see a film and think, Christ, if only the studio had reined this in and cut the film down.  The Hobbit is sadly just such a film, as almost every scene could have been improved by judicious editing.  Even where it’s clear a lot of money has been spent on special effects (which I think is probably every single scene) it often feels it’s a waste and the scene detracts from the story.  It’s begging for a fan edit, because there’s a great film in there if you just streamlined the action.

I think it comes down to Jackson wanting to be true to the book (and the whole Middle Earth mythology).  He obviously has a deep affection for the source material such that he can’t bear to be unfaithful or to leave things out.

So, yeah, too long and drawn out.  However, the casting is good, it’s well-crafted; although there is heavy use of CGI, it is some of the best I have yet seen.  Some of the action is very enjoyable, almost mesmerising.  Attention to detail is ridiculous and even the shortest, most pointless scenes are rich visually.  It looks good in 3D, although three hours gave me a headache.  I think they amped up the brightness of the print just so that it would look better in 3D, but I could be wrong.  Overall, I thought it was okay.  A bit of a chore to watch, but okay.  It made me want to play Skyrim again.

52 Book Pick-up: A book a week for 52 weeks

Posted in Books on January 1, 2013 by thebigsmoke

The last couple of years I have tried to watch 365 movies in 365 days (although there were technically 366 days in 2012 as it was a leap year).  Having managed this pathetic feat two years in a row, I’ve decided to set myself a different kind of objective and I’m going to try to finish 52 books in 52 weeks.  I will post some short book reviews along the way and at least list all the books I’ve read at the end of the year (whether or not I manage 52).  Seems like a good idea right now, but I guess we will see.

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