Greetings from the Odinson,
One year ago this weekend Marvel, under the guidance of Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Firefly creator Joss Whedon, released The Avengers worldwide, and a true pop culture phenomenon was born. Once every ten years or so, a movie comes along that raises the bar just a bit higher. Though there are many really good movies, rarely does a film actually live up to expectations, or even better, surpass them. In my lifetime there have been four such movies. Again, there have been many really good movies, but I’m talking about the game changers, those movies that are so good that to simply call them good is a severe understatement.
In 1977 it was Star Wars. This sci-fi fantasy about a young farm boy from a backwater planet that meets up with an old wizard and a pirate and goes on a quest to save a princess from a dark knight and defeat an evil Empire bent on universal domination IS the bench mark by which all other space adventures will be judged. In 1994, it was The Crow. This dark gothic tale of love loss and revenge showed the world that comic books aren’t just for kids, especially when the creators and talent behind the project really have something to say. In 1999, that film was The Matrix. Up until this New Millennium sci-fi masterpiece hit theatres, movie making had become simply business as usually. After this senses-shattering film opened everyone’s eyes, creators everywhere at that moment tore up whatever they were working on and went back to the drawing board. And now, 2012’s Marvel’s The Avengers can be added to the list.
One year later, I sat down over the weekend and re-watched The Avengers and yes, it still holds up. It has (and this is huge for ME to say this) surpassed Richard Donner’s original Superman (1978) as THE greatest comic book movie of all time. This is the movie I’ve waited my whole life to see, so my expectations were sky high. The Avengers not only met my lofty expectations, it blew them out of the water. Anybody that says they don’t like this film either has an agenda or they’re doing a bit. This film delivers the goods.
It is no shocking revelation to learn that I am a huge Thor and Captain America fan. So, it should come as no surprise to learn that I was overjoyed to see them finally adapted into high quality movies. But through those amazing characters I have become a huge Avengers fan. There is nothing better in comics or film than seeing your favorite heroes from across your favorite universe assemble to take on a mammoth threat too powerful for any one hero to stand against alone. It’s Seven Samurai, The Alamo, The Dirty Dozen, and Ocean’s 11. There’s a reason why concepts like Defenders of the Earth, League of Extraordinary Gentlemen, Prophecy, and Masks work. People love their heroes, and they especially love it when they team up together for the greater good.
The groundwork was laid with Iron Man, starring the perfectly cast Robert Downey Jr. as Tony Stark. The march toward pop culture immortality continued with Marvel introducing the mighty Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger to movie audiences. Yes, DC and Warner Bros. have had huge success, both critically and financially, with Batman, but their other icon, Superman, has not been in a worthwhile movie in over three decades. The Green Lantern movie was mildly entertaining at best and other DC icons like Wonder Woman, Aquaman, and the Flash can’t even sniff the Big Screen. So, fingers crossed that this summer’s Man of Steel film is awesome and sets the stage for a Justice League movie.
NOTE: If you really want to see what an awesome Justice League move could be like, check out the cinematics for Injustice: Gods Among Us on YouTube. DC Comics and Warner Bros. don’t have the courage to make a Justice League movie this awesome.
I am a huge Joss Whedon fan and could not be prouder of the man as he gave us his best directorial undertaking yet. He manages to squeeze in his signature humor and, using his years of experience on ensemble shows like Buffy, Angel, and Dollhouse, he masterfully juggles the huge cast of characters. And thanks to the legacy of the Avengers movie, Whedon is now helming a SHIELD television series set in the Marvel Movie Universe!
The legacy of The Avengers movie reaches far and wide. First, it took a B-List character like Hawkeye and made him a household name with his scene-stealing antics in the film. So popular has the Earth’s Mightiest Marksman become that Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye is actually nominated for an Eisner Award this year. Hawkeye?! I always liked Clint Barton, especially his interaction with Steve Rogers [see Captain America (1st Series) #317 and Captain America (3rd Series) #4 for a couple of memorable ones] and it’s good to see this character get the recognition he deserves.
The Avengers movie also finally showed the world how to use the Hulk properly. As strong as the Jade Giant is, given the nature of the character, he works better when he doesn’t have to carry the picture on his own. Now, that being said, I’d still love to see a live action adaptation of the classic Planet Hulk story. If done right, PH and World War Hulk could be epic.
Finally, the Avengers movie set the stage for Phase Two of the Marvel movies. Iron Man 3 and Thor: Dark World in 2013, Captain America: Winter Soldier and Guardians of the Galaxy in 2014, and it all leads into Avengers 2 hitting theaters in 2015, which is rumored to feature the Marvel Universe’s ultimate Big Bad – Thanos the Mad Titan, as teased in the end credits of the first Avengers flick. And it doesn’t stop there. Rumor has it that Scarlet Witch and Quicksilver are both slated to appear in the next Avengers film (see Quicksilver and Scarlet Witch in 'Avengers 2'). How long before the name Vision starts getting mentioned? Plus, in the wake of Avengers 2, there will be an Ant-Man movie and a film featuring Doctor Strange, Master of the Mystic Arts.
If you love comics and movies, right now is a fantastic time to be a Marvel fan!
For the Odinson, in over thirty years nothing had ever challenged Superman: The Movie for the best comic book movie of all time. Iron Man and The Dark Knight came close, but it’s The Avengers that has finally knocked the Man of Steel off the top of my mountain. Not only is The Avengers now the greatest comic book film of all time, like Star Wars, The Crow, and The Matrix, it is a benchmark by which all other films of its kind will be judged.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
Entries Tagged as Movie
May 03, 2013 · 2 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
February 08, 2013 · 2 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
In the past month or so, the internet has been abuzz over the news about Disney acquiring Lucasfilm and announcing that they will continue to make Star Wars films. It has always baffled the Odinson as to why we as fans are not treated to a new Star Wars movie every three years. The galaxy far, far away is so rich with un-mined gold and with the countless novels, comics, graphic novels, cartoons, and games that have been set there, there is a seemingly endless supply of source material to draw from.
The fantastic news just keeps coming, as not only has Disney announced that it is going to do a new trilogy set after the events of Return of the Jedi, but it is also planning to do stand alone movies set in the Star Wars U as well. I’ve read they may do a movie starring Yoda. Though I’m not overly excited about watching a film about the diminutive Jedi Master’s origins and/or adventures, I can see the merits of a film like this being made for a younger audience. I am, however, very excited about the rumors of there being stand alone movies starring Han Solo and/or Boba Fett, easily two of the most beloved, and coolest, characters from the history of the franchise. Another rumored stand alone film the Odinson has read about is an adaptation of Akira Kurosawa’s legendary film Seven Samurai, featuring Jedi Knights. That sounds like it has potential to be really, really awesome.
Here is a list of the Top 5 ideas for a Star Wars movie that the Odinson would absolutely love to see before he dies.
05 – Han Solo – Without a doubt, Solo is the coolest cat in the galaxy. Luke may have been the hero of the story, but every guy wanted to be Han Solo. He has the fastest ship, he gets the girl, and he always comes through for his friends in the end. There are so many different and interesting directions a film about Solo could go. They could explore his old smuggling days with Lando Calrissian (see Scoundrels). They could show how Han Solo and mighty Chewbacca met and became partners (see The Han Solo Trilogy). There’s a story from the old Marvel Comics series called “Star Duel,” that could be fleshed out and adapted into a fantastic Star Wars movie. And who wouldn’t want to see the Millennium Falcon make the Kessel Run in less than twelve parsecs?
04 – Death Troopers – I think I’d really enjoy seeing a story from the Empire’s point of view, while at the same time being treated to something fresh and new. What could possibly be cooler than characters from Star Wars fighting for survival against a horde of the undead? Stormtroopers vs. zombies! It’s a no-brainer.
03 – Boba Fett – Along with Han Solo, Boba Fett is easily one of the most beloved and coolest characters from the Star Wars Universe, and he’s not even one of the main characters. Plus, Fett and Solo’s fates are so intertwined they may just want to combine them into the same movie. They could tell the story of what happened with Fett after the events of The Empire Strikes Back, as he tries to get his cargo, a frozen Han Solo, back to his employer, Jabba the Hutt, while trying to avoid Han’s pursuing Rebel allies and other backstabbing bounty hunters like Bossk and IG-88 trying to take what he’s worked so hard to acquire (see Tales of the Bounty Hunters). They could fill in the missing gaps of Boba Fett’s life from his last appearance in Attack of the Clones to when we see him again in A New Hope Special Edition and how he became the most feared bounty hunter in the galaxy under the employ of the Hutt (see Boba Fett novel series). I wouldn’t even mind seeing a movie on the history of the Mandalorians, warriors so adept that they can go toe-to-toe with a Jedi Knight. A murder mystery set in Jabba’s Palace with Boba Fett taking center stage would be awesome as well. There’s just really no way they could go wrong with a Boba Fett movie.
02 – Obi-Wan Kenobi – For all of its flaws there is absolutely one thing that is for sure about Episodes I-III and that is that Obi-Wan Kenobi is awesome! Legendary actor Alec Guinness established Kenobi as an iconic mentor and martyr for young Luke Skywalker in the original trilogy and Ewan McGregor knocked it out of the park portraying Kenobi’s younger, swashbuckling days in service to the Republic. And what’s great is that McGregor was playing older than he actually is so he’s still young enough that he could easily reprise his role as the coolest Jedi in the galaxy.
Think about it, what are the best parts of The Phantom Menace, Attack of the Clones, and Revenge of the Sith? They are Obi-Wan’s duel with Darth Maul (hands down, probably the greatest two-three minutes in Star Wars History), Obi-Wan’s investigation of the assassination attempt of Padme which leads him into direct conflict with Jango Fett and his employer Count Dooku, and amazing final battles with the deadly Jedi killer General Grievous and the traitorous Darth Vader. I, for one, would absolutely love to see McGregor reprise his role as my all time favorite Jedi Knight in a movie that gives me more adventures with Obi-Wan Kenobi.
01 – Legacy – It was always rumored that George Lucas had planned Star Wars as nine films. I can remember those rumors all the way back in the eighties, long before there even was an internet. After Disney finally finishes the original Saga with this new trilogy they are doing, the next obvious step is to move the story forward and there can’t possibly be a better tale to tell than Legacy. Set over 100 years after the events of Return of the Jedi, Legacy depicts a galaxy that has come under the rule of the Sith. It features amazing characters, political intrigue, sweet Jedi action, and more than a few wonderful surprises.
What if you could take to the two greatest heroes of the original trilogy, Luke and Han, and merge them into one character? Well, you’d end up with Cade Skywalker, the main protagonist of Legacy. Cade is the descendant of Luke Skywalker and Mara Jade who is powerful in the ways of the Force but, due to traumatic events from his past, lives his life out as a space pirate. A major plot point of this tale is Cade’s hero’s journey as he is unavoidably drawn into galactic events that are much bigger than he is. He must face his destiny as a major player that will decide the fate of the universe. Legacy is well worth the read and would be an amazing film trilogy.
“When you wish upon a star…” Sometimes dreams do come true. And Disney is making this lifelong Star Wars fan’s dream of seeing new movies set in the Star Wars Universe come true. They don’t call it the Magic Kingdom for nothing.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
December 21, 2012 · 2 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
It’s time for Odinson’s 2012: The Year in Review: Part 2: The Movies.
TV in 2012
Real quick before I get started I should address some of the gold that’s being mined on the small screen. The Walking Dead continues to be one of the most riveting shows on television. It provides enough of the source material while adding new and exciting things to the story so that fans of the comics and those that have never read an issue can both enjoy the drama and horror unfold. Game of Thrones also continues to entertain. With the plight of Daenerys and her people playing out across the Narrow Sea, Jon Snow’s venture and harrowing discoveries beyond the Great Wall, the inevitable clash on the horizon as the armies under the banner of the Starks march ever closer to challenge the Lannister’s hold over the Iron Throne, the second season of Thrones did not disappoint. This fall also saw the debut of Arrow, a television drama based on Green Arrow. Now I haven’t seen all the episodes but what I have seen of this action series is pretty cool. And what could possibly be wrong with a TV series that includes episodes with Deathstroke the Terminator and Deadshot? Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
I didn’t see The Hunger Games, Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance, nor Men in Black 3 and I’ve heard mixed reviews. Other than Games, which everyone seemed to like, the other two were pretty hit and miss for those that told me about them. So, I’ll just wait for the ole Netflix to pick them up before I give them a view. I also did not see the remake of Total Recall. The original film is such a classic and when I saw the commercials for the remake, there really wasn’t anything in it that made me want to go to the theatre to see it. Plus, how can you have a Total Recall movie and not go to Mars?
As for the films I did see…
Wrath of the Titans – Much like its predecessor, Clash of the Titans (the remake), this film was a buffet of eye-candy, a special FX feast. And like its predecessor, though it had its moments (like Zeus and Hades walking into battle and having a “little fun”), the film as a whole fell a little flat. It was utterly predictable (gee, who’d a thought that Ares would be traitorous). That being said, Sam Worthington is fantastic as the reluctant hero Perseus and after seeing Liam Neeson own the part of Zeus, I really can’t imagine another actor in that roll. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers
The Cabin in the Woods – Leave it up to Joss Whedon to take a tired genre like the horror film and completely come at from a different angle and produce easily the most memorable horror film of the year. Cabin is one of those movies that benefits greatly from multiple viewings. There are always little details that I catch that I didn’t see the first time through. And knowing where the tale ends up gives a lot of the early scenes in the movie whole new meanings. My hat is off to Whedon and his partner in crime Drew Goddard for bringing something fresh to the genre of horror. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
Abraham Lincoln, Vampire Hunter – The Odinson was in a foul mood after watching this terrible piece of cinema. That’s two hours of my life I’ll never get back. The merging of two legends, Lincoln and vampires, I was on board with, if only to see what they do with the concept, but there was just too much nonsense that left me going “Wha?!” The whole chase scene through the stampeding horses was almost too much to bear. It was just silly. And the tie-in with vampires at the Battle of Gettysburg just didn’t click with me either. However, there are some really wild action scenes and ole Honest Abe sure can swing an axe. Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers
Dark Shadows – This one wasn’t overly disappointing, nor was it an absolute must see. It has all the eerie settings and dark humor one might come to expect for a Burton production. Some of the sight gags (like Barnabas Collins trying to find a comfortable place to sleep) worked really well, but the ending was cluttered with plot holes and unexplained twists. It’s definitely worth watching if you are a Johnny Depp and/or Tim Burton fan. Odinson Rating: 3 out of 5 Hammers
The Expendables 2 – Two words: Chuck Norris. ‘Nuff said. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
Prometheus – This film was an utter mess. The first forty minutes or so of the film is exposition. Boring! By the time things start happening I, as the viewer, don’t really care about any of these people so it really doesn’t bother me as they start to drop off one-by-one. Many of them are flat out unlikable. It’s well over an hour into the film before I start to warm up to the Captain as he bantered with his crew. I even nudged my buddy and asked, “Are they actually having a conversation and not just telling us what they are doing and where they are going?” I guess I just didn’t get what I was looking for when it came to connecting the film to Alien. Yeah, it’s there but I needed more, maybe in the next one. Now I will say, Michael Fassbender’s David would be, if not for Loki, the villain of the year, so diabolically calculating. And lastly, I will say that the film was absolutely beautiful to look at, visually stunning. The landscapes and sets were amazing. Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers
Now we get down to the nitty gritty, the top 3 fanboy movies of the year!
Amazing Spider-Man – I thought this Spider-Man film was, in a word, Amazing! I talked before at length about all the things I loved in it (see The Odinson Reviews the Film – The Amazing Spider-Man). It does have its flaws. For instance, why do I have to sit through another origin story of Spider-Man when I just saw a pretty definitive version of that origin barely ten years ago? Even worse, they trick up the Uncle Ben stuff so that it’s different. That beings said, once you get past the origin story, this is a great Spider-Man film. The actors and the acting in the film are fantastic. And I can’t say how much I loved the fact that they went with the Lizard as the Big Bad. Next to Doctor Octopus, the Lizard is my favorite Spidey foe. This is truly a franchise that Spidey fans can get behind and I can’t wait to see what they do in the next film. Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
The Dark Knight Rises – All right, here’s where the Odinson makes a few enemies. I absolutely hated this movie. I love Batman, but I can take a moment to set my Batman pom-poms down and realize that the many plot holes, boring storytelling, and utter predictability of this tale make this easily the worst of the Nolan Batman films. And don’t get me started on the movie’s villain. In the first five minutes of the film, from the moment I heard Bane speak, I was completely pulled out of the movie and could not possibly take this guy seriously for the rest of the film. Alfred acts completely out of character by abandoning Bruce. And does anybody else think that it’s a bit odd that Batman, a hero who hates guns and a man whose entire existence is defined by the dreadful act of violence involving a gun, has his life saved by, you guessed it, a big gun?! What?! And the ham-fisted twist with the John Blake character was sloppy and quite frankly dumb. I saw this film with a friend of mine, a friend that had been the biggest Superman, Batman, DC Comics fan his whole life and he fell asleep during the movie, twice! Rises had some moments that were cool but I am utterly disappointed in the follow up to Nolan’s second film masterpiece that is The Dark Knight. Odinson Rating: 2 out of 5 Hammers
Avengers – Avengers is, without a doubt, the greatest comic book movie ever made. It delivers on all cylinders. For my full thoughts on the film check out The Odinson Reviews the Avengers. Between going to the theatre and the DVD release I have literally watched this film two dozen times, maybe more, and I enjoy it every single time just as much as I did the first time I saw it. Every character is pitch perfect and sounds exactly how they sound to me when I read their adventures in the comic books. Captain America is stalwart and a natural leader, Thor is powerful, Iron Man is super cool, and the Hulk is the strongest one there is. Mark Ruffalo’s Bruce Banner is the best portrayal of that character since the late great Bill Bixby. And Tom Hiddleston’s Loki is, hands down, the villain of the year. The scene that gives me goose bumps every time is the panorama shot of the team assembling in the middle of the battle torn street. The only thing that could have possibly made that scene any better is if Captain America had cried out “Avengers Assemble!” Plus, the Avengers left us with the ultimate trump card. Loki tells Tony Stark, “I have an army.” And without skipping a beat Stark plays his ace, “We have a Hulk.” Nothing beats a Hulk. Thank you Marvel, thank you Joss Whedon, and I cannot wait to see what happens next. Odinson Rating: 5 out of 5 Hammers and a Thunderstrike
2012 was undoubtedly a fantastic year for the fanboys and girls. Believe it or not, 2013 has the potential to be even bigger! Blizzard finally plans to release its follow up to Starcraft II with Heart of the Swarm in March. The Batman/Joker tale Death of the Family is roaring to its mind-blowing conclusion. Marvel’s The Age of Ultron, a storyline that will shake the Marvel Universe to its core, is on the horizon. And though I can’t foresee another movie surpassing the greatness that is the Avengers, 2013 will offer probably the most bang for your buck when it comes to movies the Odinson is looking forward to seeing. 2013 will see the release of Jack the Giant Slayer, Oz: The Great and Powerful, Carrie, GI Joe: Retaliation, Evil Dead, Iron Man 3, Star Trek: Into Darkness, World War Z, Kick-Ass 2, The Lone Ranger, Pacific Rim, The Wolverine, 300: Rise of an Empire, Red 2, The Smurfs 2, Percy Jackson: The Sea of Monsters, Sin City: A Dame to Die For, The Hunger Games: Catching Fire, and Thor: The Dark World. Now that has to be the biggest list of “can’t wait to see movies” ever!
However, along with the Thor sequel, there is one other film hitting theatres in 2013 that has the Odinson stoked more than any other and that is, of course, Man of Steel. The world is so starved for a good Superman movie. I hope this one does not disappoint.
So there you have it. Here’s to 2012. It was fun. Now bring on 2013! Happy New Year everybody!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
December 07, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson’s Year in Review must be pushed back a week for I have a bone to pick, several actually. There have been several incidents this past week that have caught my attention with varying degrees of ire. So if you’ll indulge me a moment and let me borrow Stan Lee’s Soap Box and allow me to vent.
There were two articles this last week one titled Geek Violence and the other Geek Film News. One is about a couple of terrible incidents that happened that involved an argument over the Walking Dead and Collector Glassware this article refers to these things as “geek culture.” The other was providing information on some highly anticipated movies. GEEK Violence, GEEK Film News, GEEK culture - it’s the use, or labeling rather, of the word geek that is bending me out of shape. I know “geek” is a silly word and this really shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but I can’t help it. It reminds me of other media labels that need to go the way of the dodo, labels like “spandex movie” or “spandex saga.”
These labels trivialize the very subject matter they’re supposed to be describing. Maybe that was the intent. I don’t know. And while I’m on the subject, since when did awesome movies like Terminator and Highlander become “geek films?” And what does that even mean? Alas, I know this shouldn’t bother me as much as it does, but c'est la vie.
Moving on… I love the character of Superman so much, what he represents and what he has meant to the history of comic books and pop culture in general. So, as you can imagine, I am beside myself with anticipation for the new Superman movie, Man of Steel, due for release next June. There are very few things that can drag me to a midnight release. A new Star Wars movie is one and a new Superman movie is another (though I am 0-2 on last two excursions, for they were Attack of the Clones and Superman Returns).
I was completely under whelmed with the Man of Steel teaser that accompanied the Dark Knight Rises movie. I felt like they were trying to turn Superman into something he’s not, dark and gritty, solemn and emo. I did however go back and watch the teaser several times recently and my stance on it has softened, a little bit. If you close your eyes and just listen to what Jor-El and Pa Kent are saying to Kal-El/Clark, the message is there. And it’s strong. And it is definitely “Superman.”
But then this past week I hit a speed bump. They released the poster for the film and I absolutely hate it. It’s an image of the Man of Tomorrow in handcuffs, being led by soldiers (see Man of Steel Poster). Obviously, since the restraints aren’t glowing green, I know the Last Son of Krypton is allowing himself to be taken into custody and I get that this is part of the story plot to establish Superman as this alien outsider that the world has to come to trust. And that’s fine. But this is the Man of Steel’s triumphant return to the Big Screen. Couldn’t we have been treated to something more positive and heroic, not something so, what’s the word I’m looking for, depressing?
On this same note, on the same day this poster was released, I was reading an article about the film and in this article something very curious was mentioned. For years and years the Odinson has heard the naysayers and jeers of those who couldn’t stand Superman’s red shorts, as if this garment was holding him back from being something special. Well, they finally got their wish as both in the movie and with the horrible redesign of his costume in the New 52, Superman is sans red shorts. What I found rather funny and ironic is that this article was asking - where are the red shorts? And even went so far as to call the movie-makers out on “not believing in tradition anymore.” And so the pendulum continues to swing.
So there you have it, just a couple of things that ruffled the Odinson’s feathers this past week. I feel much better now. Sometimes it’s good to vent a little. Stan, you can have your soap box back. Be here next week as the Odinson does his annual Year in Review.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
November 23, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Last week I took a look back at some cartoons from the 80s, the decade of fantastic imagination and seemingly endless ideas. Cartoons like Defenders of the Earth, Silver Hawks and Inhumanoids and pointed out just how cool they were and how even more amazing they could be if brought into the 21st Century under the guiding hands of modern day creative teams. The 80s was a Golden Age of Imagination and not only did it produce some of the most original and best cartoons ever, the 80s is arguably the greatest decade for the genre of Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery.
Not only is the decade of the 80s the birth place of such fantasy juggernauts as Dragonlance and The Forgotten Realms, but it is, without a doubt, the greatest decade of fantasy movies. Sure, The Lord of the Rings movie trilogy of the early aughts is the King of the Hill when it comes to fantasy standards, but the decade of the 80s cannot be matched in quantity and quality of movies based in the worlds of might and magic.
1981- The decade started off with probably the most ambitious fantasy title on this list – Dragonslayer. It’s a tale about a young sorcerer’s apprentice and his quest to save the kingdom from a fire-breathing dragon. The viewer really gets bang for his buck with this one. There’s a princess in peril, magic weapons (a Mithril spear and a shield made of dragon scales that can deflect dragon-fire), and the film culminates with a savage battle between a mighty archmage and the dragon. Dragonslayer is a fantasy film way ahead of its time in terms of Special FX and can still be enjoyed, even by today’s CGI standards.
The original Clash of the Titans is a fantastic movie that captures the imagination and features some of the best work of the SFX master Ray Harryhausen. Prince Perseus must brave the perils of the underworld; face down Medusa, a gorgon whose gaze can turn a man to stone; and ultimately find a way to stop the Kraken, a leviathan of such great size and power whole kingdoms can topple before its fury. This film features the winged horse Pegasus, the demonic villain Calibos, the blind Stygian Witches, giant scorpions, Charon the boatman on the River Styx, and the two-headed monster wolf known as Dioskilos. And high up on Mount Olympus, the Olympian Gods watch and manipulate the events far below as easily as a man moving chess pieces around the board. This film is truly a spectacle and a wonderful piece of fantasy. The Odinson can say with all confidence that the original Clash of the Titans is much, much better than the recent remake.
1981 also contains the gold standard and, next to The Princess Bride, the Odinson’s all time favorite fantasy movie - Excalibur. It’s the legend of King Arthur and the Knights of the Round Table boldly told in a way it had never been told before, nor since. It tells of the rise and fall of Uther Pendargon, the brash knight who would sire Author, the boy who would pull Excalibur from the stone and become king. Everything is here, the Lady in the Lake, Merlin the Magician, the Knights of the Round Table, Lancelot and Guinevere’s betrayal, the Quest for the Holy Grail, the witch Morgana Le Fay and Camelot’s war with the evil knight Mordred. Excalibur is Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery at its very best. Unlike other adaptations of the Arthurian Legends, it doesn’t try to root the myths in reality, and even though it is romantic, it doesn’t bog itself down with over flowery romance storytelling. Excalibur is not only the best movie about King Arthur ever made, it is also arguably the best fantasy movie ever made. It is what this genre is all about.
1982 – The second year of the decade probably has the most concentrated batch of fantasy goodness. The Sword and the Sorcerer is perhaps one of the most underrated fantasy movies ever made. It has cool magical swords, a mercenary on a quest for revenge against a mad king whose dealings with the underworld could release hell on earth. It has humor, excitement, big battles and even bigger surprises. The Odinson loves The Sword and the Sorcerer! There is The Beastmaster, a tale about Dar, a young warrior with the uncanny ability to communicate with animals, and his quest to topple a mad wizard and his barbaric hordes. And who could forget The Last Unicorn. Animated though it may be, this little gem features one of the scariest movie villains ever conceived for children – the Red Bull. Then there is Conan the Barbarian. It brought Robert E. Howard’s mighty barbarian to life and made Arnold Schwarzenegger a movie star. There have been other Conan films and TV shows, but none have ever captured the imagination the way this 1982 gem did.
1983 – The third year of the decade saw Schwarzenegger’s fellow bodybuilder, Lou Ferrigno (The Incredible Hulk) bring the legendary exploits of the mighty Hercules to the big screen. Deathstalker was a bloody gore fest that not only spawned several sequels but featured the first time the Odinson saw an orc on the Big Screen. Krull is the tale of a powerful dark force that plagues this fantasy world with suffering and kidnaps the beautiful princess. Prince Colwyn immediately sets out on a harrowing quest to find a powerful magical weapon of legend, the Glaive, and along the way he and his band of outlaw heroes meet wizards, changelings, a witch guarded by a giant spider, horses that run so fast flames spark from their hooves, and a Cyclops. I actually re-watched Krull again recently and it still holds up. It’s a marvelous piece of fantasy.
1984 – The sequel Conan the Destroyer saw Arnold Schwarzenegger reprise his role as the mighty Cimmerian as he embarks on an impossible quest and battles wizards, armies, and ultimately a demon god in order to save the Hyborian Age from Armageddon. Even David Carradine, the star of Kung Fu, got in on the fantasy parade with the film The Warrior and the Sorceress. This B-Movie is a loose adaptation of Japanese filmmaker Akira Kurosawa’s Yojimbo, a film that has been adapted several times by western filmmakers, most notably with Fistful of Dollars starring Clint Eastwood and Last Man Standing starring Bruce Willis.
1985 – LadyHawke, one of the coolest and most romantic fantasy films ever made, came out this year. Starring the uncanny Rutger Hauer and beautiful Michelle Pfeiffer, LadyHawke is about a knight and the woman he loves and the curse that keeps them from each other’s arms. By night he transforms into a wolf while she remains human and by day when he is human, she transforms into a hawk. It also doesn’t hurt that a young Mathew Broderick plays the young thief that winds up helping them in their quest. This was also the year of Legend, Ridley Scott’s fantasy epic that starred Tom Cruise, Mia Sara and Tim Curry and featured unicorns, fairies, dwarfs, and one of the coolest looking movie villains ever put on the Big Screen – the Lord of Darkness. And who could forget the ladies of fantasy Red Sonja and Barbarian Queen, films that proved boys aren’t the only ones that can swing a broadsword.
1986 – “In the end, there can be only one.” Highlander, one of the greatest fantasy franchises of all time, debuted in 1986. It’s the tale of Connor MacLeod, a man born in the 16th Century, an immortal that battles other immortals for the ultimate prize, the ultimate power. Starring Christopher Lambert and Sean Connery, Highlander also featured one the coolest soundtracks and most memorable theme songs of the decade courtesy of the rock band Queen. This movie has spawned four [controversial] sequels and a popular long running television series. I remember the first time I ever saw this cult classic I had no idea what it was about, then all of sudden within the first five minutes, two guys are sword fighting in the parking garage below Madison Square Gardens. I was like Holy Cow! Needless to say by the end of the first act I was hooked. The original movie is yet another one of the Odinson’s guilty pleasures and a film I never get tired of watching.
1987 – I have come to find that there are not many people who remember The Barbarians, a fantasy movie fueled by great mirth and tongue-in-cheek gags starring the twin body builders the world at the time knew as the Barbarian Brothers. It had all the blood and sexuality of Conan but juxtaposed the violence with over the top humor. No scene from the film illustrates this better then when one of the Barbarian Brothers, after beheading a werewolf, picks up the beast’s head and starts barking at it. 1987 also saw one of the Odinson’s all time favorite movies hit the Big Screen - The Princess Bride. This is, without a doubt, one of the best written, acted, and directed films ever to be produced. From “Inconceivable” to “As you wish” to “Hello, my name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father, prepare to die,” it’s easily one of the most quotable movies of all time. The Princess Bride is just one of those movies that I can pull off the shelf every few months and watch it over and over again.
1988 – George Lucas, the man that gave the world Star Wars and Indiana Jones, added yet another notch on his Chewbacca-like belt with the fantasy gem known as Willow. This is the tale of Elora Danan, the one who is destined to bring about the downfall of the evil sorceress Queen Bavmorda. But Elora is but a baby, so it falls to the most unlikeliest of heroes to keep her safe until she can fulfill her destiny. Meet the Halfling called Willow, a peaceful farmer and aspiring illusionist. Along the way, Willow and Elora must face the wicked Queen’s black knights, a two-headed, fire-breathing dragon, and trolls. Luckily, they will be helped on their journey by the Queen of Fairies Cherlindrea, the diminutive little troublemakers the Brownies, the sorceress Raziel, and Madmartigan, the greatest swordsman that ever lived, just ask him. Willow is a really fun watch with all the Dungeons and Dragons-like elements a fantasy lover could want.
1989 – The decade of fantasy is brought to a close with the cult classic Warlock. This is the tale of a malevolent magic user whose dark powers bring him forth from the distant past and into the present day where he is charged by Satan himself to bring about the end of days. The only thing standing in his way is Giles, the brave witch-hunter that followed the warlock through the time portal, and Kassandra, a modern day party girl that gets swept up in the wake of the films harrowing events. This film made a star of Julian Sands who would go on to become king of the B-Movie villains and spawned several sequels. Warlock signaled the end of the decade-long reign of the fantasy genre for 1989 was also the year of Batman, and this Tim Burton film ushered in the era of the comic book movie.
Sure there have been other movies set in the worlds of myth and magic but no other decade before or after can boast a list of Fantasy/Sword and Sorcery movies like the one above. Maybe with the release of The Hobbit, the Odinson’s favorite Tolkien story, a new Golden Age of Imagination can begin.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
November 02, 2012 · 2 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
There’s so much happening in the world of comics and pop culture that the Odinson hardly knows where to begin. I think I’ll start with the biggest news to come down the pipeline, a major bombshell that I for one think will prove most extraordinarily beneficial for fanboys and girls everywhere. Disney buys Lucasfilm! I was on board when Disney took Marvel Comics under its wing and I couldn’t be happier about this wonderful news.
In the past, I’ve talked at length about my love for Star Wars and what it has meant to me. To this day, A New Hope is in my Top 5 movies of all time that I can’t get enough of. I get the same enjoyment, the same wonder and excitement from it as I did when I was a young tyke. I even enjoy the release of the Special Edition version (well, except for the whole Greedo shooting first thing), which brings me to my next point, George Lucas. Lucas is, without a doubt, one of the greatest creative minds in the history of entertainment. His ideas revolutionized the way movies are made and the way they are seen and heard. Pixar, THX, Skywalker Sound, and Industrial Light and Magic were all born out of the innovations developed under the watchful eye of this man. He is responsible not only for giving the world Star Wars but also Indiana Jones and Willow. But, alas, it’s time for him to relax and let others, a generation of creative minds that grew up idolizing his works, to take over and spearhead Star Wars for the future.
I think it is a crime that we don’t have a new Star Wars and Superman movie every two to three years. Those that know me have heard me say this countless times. There’s a vast wealth of material that exist in the Star Wars Universe and unfortunately only a very small part of it has been explored on the Big Screen. Same goes for the Man of Steel. Surely in the last seventy-five years there have been enough stories told that we don’t have to revisit his origin (i.e. exploding Krypton, Smallville) every ten-fifteen years or so. There should be a fresh Star Wars and Superman adventure hitting theatres every few years that don’t involve origins and or remakes. James Bond has been saving the world since the sixties and we don’t have to see his origin every time.
So you can imagine my excitement when I learned Disney plans to start filming right away more Star Wars movies! Just think of all the wonderful possibilities! All the different directions they could go in. They could tell the continuing adventures of Luke Skywalker, Princess Leia, and Han Solo in a movie adaptation of the Thrawn Trilogy or even the Fate of the Jedi Saga. They could do a movie about the deadliest bounty hunter, not to mention one the most poplar characters from the franchise, Boba Fett. There could be a movie of mystery and intrigue set in Jabba the Hutt’s Palace on Tatooine. How about a film that follows Luke’s old friend from back home Wedge Antilles and his harrowing adventures with the X-Wing Rogue Squadron? How about a film set in the days of the Knights of the Old Republic? Or the Dark Times, the days after the Emperor comes to power and his right hand Darth Vader patrols the galaxy enforcing his rule? My personal favorite, the one Star Wars story I hope to see brought to the Big Screen before my days on earth are through, is Legacy, a beautifully orchestrated tale about that galaxy far, far away set several generations after Return of the Jedi.
With thousands of comics, novels, animated episodes, and video games to choose from, there is a seemingly endless supply of material just begging for a Big Screen adaptation. Not to mention original and new ideas set in the Star Wars Universe. And Disney has already stated that the first installment - Episode 7 - is slated to be released in 2015. Joy, joy, happy, joy, joy... (You’ll all just have to picture me dancing in your head.)
On to the next topic, Valiant re-launched its universe and I for one am impressed with what they’ve done. The creative teams they’ve assembled are top notch talent and are producing some of their best work. The first round of releases include Archer and Armstrong, the story about a man who was trained from birth to take down an immortal adversary but soon learns that the world is a much bigger place than he realized and finds himself caught up in a centuries-old conspiracy. Bloodshot, a soldier genetically altered by super science that now has the power and knowledge to either save or damn the world. Harbinger is a tale about the birth of the next generation of super heroes. And Shaowman tells the story of a supernatural defender and the cost he must pay to save mankind from unspeakable horror.
For the Odinson though, the cream of the crop has to be X-O Manowar. In this exciting fast-paced sci-fi adventure, a mighty warrior from the Dark Ages is kidnapped by aliens and transported to the far side of the galaxy to live out his days as a slave. Naturally he revolts and, after acquiring an amazing battle suit with firepower and abilities beyond imagining, escapes. He makes his way back to planet Earth but it is not the world he remembers. Many centuries have gone by and now we get to enjoy the juxtaposition of a man from the past who lives and dies by the sword, armed with the most powerful weapon in the galaxy, and is trying to find his place in the 21st Century.
Robert Venditti’s (The Surrogates) script is compelling and Cory Nord (Conan) and Lee Garbett’s (DreamWar) artwork is fantastic. As the story unfolds, not only is X-O Manowar trying to adjust to a world he does not know but he suddenly finds himself caught up in a conspiracy that eventually sets him against another Valiant hero Ninjak. This showdown is simply amazing as two determined men, two warriors determined to win the battle no matter what cross swords. But they, and the reader, soon learn that if the world is going to survive the coming darkness, these two heroes will have to work together. If you haven’t checked out what Valiant has going on, take the Odinson’s word for it, all of these Valiant titles are well worth your coin
The last little bit I want to touch on is old but great news. Joss Whedon is bringing the spy adventures of SHIELD to television with a new TV show. Anyone who is a Joss Whedon fan knows that if there is one thing this man can do even better than assembling Earth’s Mightiest Heroes on the Big Screen is creating fantastic television. A track record that includes Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, Firefly, and Dollhouse speaks for itself.
It will be quite interesting to see how the SHIELD TV show fits into the overall scope of the universe Marvel has created with their movies. One of the biggest and most pleasant surprises to come out of this announcement is that Clark Gregg will be reprising his role as Agent Phil Coulson for the TV show. Gregg did an amazing job with a supporting part and was a standout in movies featuring a giant green rage monster, a super soldier and a thunder god. The biggest question I keep hearing from others is, in light of Agent Coulson’s ultimate fate in the Avengers Movie, how is he going to appear in the SHIELD TV show? The Odinson would answer a question with a question. Has everybody forgotten LMDs?
A LMD, or Life Model Decoy, is a life-like android that functions and looks just like an individual so much so that it can fool enemies and friends alike. LMDs were first used way back in Strange Tales #135 when Nick Fury used them to fool his would be Hydra assassins. LMDs are so life-like and handy that Nick Fury has been known to use them so often that to this day nobody ever really knows if they are talking to the real Nick Fury or not. So whether it was a LMD that met its end in the Avengers movie or it is a LMD in the SHIELD TV show, either way, Agent Phil Coulson lives!
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 26, 2012 · No Comments
Happy Halloween from the Odinson,
It’s been fun counting down the days to Halloween 2012. We witnessed a Supernatural Fight Night and determined who the toughest monsters were staking the earth. We celebrated Monsters in Comics and the roles they play. We raised a toast to the rock star of monsters, the Vampire, and we took a look at The Odinson’s Favorite Vampire Stories in Comics. Now, the Odinson concludes his countdown to Halloween 2012 with a salute to the ultimate monster – the Boogeyman.
The Boogeyman is perhaps the scariest thing of all. It’s the unknown, that faceless entity hiding in your closet or under the bed. Parents will tell their children not to go out at night or play in the woods or “the Boogeyman will get you.” The Boogeyman was always this faceless horror that haunted a child’s imagination. But as we grow up, the Boogeyman starts to take shape and thanks to literature and movies, the Boogeyman now has a face.
The Silver Screen Boogeyman comes in many different shapes and sizes, but size alone does not determine the scariness of a Boogeyman. Just ask the Barclay family if size matters as they were terrorized by the diminutive Chucky, a child’s doll with the soul of a murderer locked inside of it. The creepy little ghoul from Trick ‘r Treat, Sam, doesn’t seem to let his small size hamper his ability to terrify. The Boogeyman could be a vengeful spirit. If you are ever at home alone at night with all the lights off in the house, whatever you do, do not stare into the mirror and say his name three times, or the Candyman will come. Sometimes a horrible incident occurs in a rural town and the legend of a Boogeyman can grew from that, as was the case for Harry Warden, a maniac miner that seeks revenge on the town every Valentine’s Day. The Boogeyman does not necessarily have to be a man. Just ask the victims who made the mistake of spending their last summer at Sleepaway Camp. Or in the case of the Leprechaun, as anyone who is foolish enough to try and steal his gold will soon learn.
But as the New Millennium approached, a New Age Boogeyman arrived on the scene, a particularly sinister kind of villain that took just as much joy in the mental aspects of the scare as he did in the kill itself. Ghostface uses his expertise in horror movie trivia to get the blood boiling in his would-be-victims and to deliver his message he uses that all important device that no teenager can live without, the phone. Jigsaw is another kind of New Age Boogeyman whose elaborate tortures and mental mind games leave his victims and the audience puzzled, mesmerized and utterly terrified. Another aspect of the New Millennium Boogeyman is that he’s determined to learn from the mistakes of those that came before him and will use the audience’s thirst for knowledge against them as one doomed documentary crew learned when they met Leslie Vernon. But the new generation stand out star of the New Millennium Boogeymen has to be Victor Crowley, the unstoppable, merciless killing machine that haunts the bayous of New Orleans.
But these Boogeymen, though scary, are just small time. They are the minor leagues. Their body counts, though impressive, pale in comparison when compared to the true Kings of Horror. Though Victor Crowley has the potential to one day be on this list, he has a long way to go before his Boogeyman status can match these next few names.
The Kings of Horror – the Ultimate Boogeymen
Leatherface – The Texas Chainsaw Massacre is the horror movie that bridges the gap between Alfred Hitchcock’s classic Psycho and the slasher films of the modern era. Leatherface, part of a family of cannibals that terrorizes motorists that happen to cross their path, is a large mentally challenged man that wears the skins of his victims. He’s a butcher that attacks people with knives and sledgehammers. However, his most terrifying weapon of choice is the chainsaw. If you hear the high-pitched scream of a chainsaw somewhere in the distance, run for your life. It just may be Leatherface on the prowl for another victim. There’s a reason why the sound of the chainsaw is the scariest thing in all the haunted house attractions across our great nation. You can thank Leatherface for that.
Michael Myers – Myers is the mass murderer that stalks the streets of Haddonfield, Illinois. It was his nefarious exploits that kicked off the modern era phenomenon of slasher movies. As a boy, on Halloween, Michael murdered his sister and was sent to a mental hospital. There his psychiatrist, Dr. Loomis, discovered that nothing resided in this boy save pure evil. Years later he escaped and on Halloween night returned to Haddonfield and went on a killing spree. He terrorized a group of babysitters and their friends and was only stopped when Loomis emptied a revolver into him, sending Michael plummeting from a second story balcony. But even that didn’t stop him. Like Jason and Freddy, Michael Myers has proven to be pretty much unkillable. With his expressionless Halloween mask, his signature disembodied breathing, and the most haunting theme music of any Boogeyman, Michael Myers is definitely one person you don’t want to meet in a dark alley.
Freddy Kruger – Fred Kruger was a child murderer that was hunted down by the parents of Elm Street and burned to death. However, Freddy returned, seeking revenge on the children of Springwood. He strikes at them through their dreams, terrorizing, torturing, and killing them in all manner of inventive ways. Freddy’s visage is horrifying to look at. His skin was scarred by fire. He is the Boogeyman that haunts your nightmares. He murders the children of Springwood, harvesting their souls and adding them to his power. In the Dreamworld he is completely unstoppable. The only way he can be defeated is by bringing him forth into the real world. But for the children of Springwood, Kruger’s death is only a short reprieve from the madman’s devilish torment. He always comes back armed with his signature glove with knives extending from the fingers. When he scratches this diabolical weapon against a hard surface it makes a sound that is infinitely worse than nails on a chalk board. 1…2…Freddy’s coming for you…
Pinhead – Pinhead is a Cenobite and the keeper of Lemarchand’s Box, a device that visits all manner of pleasure/ torture on those that dare to solve its puzzle. He is a demon from hell that leads a pack of monsters and other Cenobites in their pursuit of lost souls. If he is anything, Pinhead is an opportunistic villain. He will make a deal, but if he is crossed there is no limit to the number of horrors that he can visit upon those that have wronged him. Pinhead is a powerful denizen of the underworld. Guys like Freddy Kruger get their paychecks from guys like Pinhead. Pinhead can summon chains with horrible hooks attached to them that zip out of the darkness as if from nowhere. These chains impale and crucify his victims leaving them oscillating and defenseless, ready for the gifts he has to bestow.
Jason Voorhees – No list of Boogeymen would be complete without the hockey mask-wearing, machete-swinging, nigh unstoppable mass murderer known as Jason. As a child, Jason was a special needs kid that, when neglected by his camp councilors, drowned in the waters of Crystal Lake, leaving him even more demented than before. This set his mother on a two-decade murderous mission of revenge until meeting her own end at the hands of one of the young women she was trying to kill. After witnessing his mother’s demise Jason began to stalk the woods around Crystal Lake. With a body count that beats both Michael Myers and Freddy Kruger, Jason has gone on to become the most legendary Boogeyman of them all. At first he was simply a hulking demented madman seeking revenge on the youth of America. But after his resurrection in the sixth film, Jason has become a monstrous undead killing machine that slaughters anything, and anyone, that crosses his path. Even when he is fighting other monsters, like Freddy and Leatherface, those that are being protected by his actions will be annihilated if they get too close to the carnage. His preferred murder weapon of choice is the machete, but Jason will use whatever he can get his hands on to get the job done.
Enjoy the festivities on this All Hallows’ Eve, my little ghosts and ghouls, but tonight if you hear a strange noise under your bed, something scratching at your window, or some rustling in the woodlands near your home, don’t investigate. It just may be the Boogeyman.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
October 12, 2012 · 1 Comment
Greetings from the Odinson,
The Odinson continues his countdown to Halloween with a look at the rock star of monsters – the Vampire. There have been more stories, novels, TV shows, and movies featuring the vampire than any other monster that ever crawled or stalked on the earth. Women especially it seems are drawn to this particular creature of the night more so than any other. The vampire is sexy, alluring, and attractive, and the vampire is dark and mysterious. The vampire is the bad boy of the monster club. And what young girl can resist the bad boy? But this was not always the case.
Up until 1976, the vampire was a loathsome creature of darkness to be feared and shunned. Though the legend of the vampire has been around for centuries, its modern day hold on pop culture can be traced back to Bram Stoker’s Dracula. Dracula is the father of all modern day vampires. The majority of the accepted vampire mythology comes directly from this gothic horror story of a monster’s attempt to establish a base of power in the western world and the fragile mortal lives that get caught up in his wake.
Stoker does not portray his dark protagonist in a good light. Count Dracula is not a misunderstood romantic only seeking love and a place in the world, as he is portrayed so often in modern cinema. Truth be told, Stoker’s Dracula, whom he loosely based on the medieval warlord Vlad the Impaler, was actually the template to what would become the modern day super villain. His diabolical plot was to leave behind the desolate old country and establish a stronghold in the modern west. There he would birth an army of the undead that would spread out across the globe bringing the populace of the world under his dark influence, thus making this dark conqueror ruler of the world.
Yes, up until very recently, the vampire was a true creature of darkness, a villain, a monster to be feared. Even in the classic Universal Monster movies of the ‘30s and ‘40s on up through the cult classic Hammer Horror films of the ‘50s and ‘60s, the vampire was the ultimate monster. Then it all changed because of one woman – Anne Rice. In 1976 Anne Rice released her book Interview with a Vampire to the world. It’s a completely different take on the genre as the tale is told not from the human’s point of view, but from the point of view of the vampire himself.
Suddenly the vampire became magical and romantic, with unearthly beauty. Many of the myths and legends surrounding the vampire were tweaked in Rice’s world but the genre of the vampire would never be the same. Wherein Stoker’s Dracula there was no question about who was good (Van Helsing) and who was evil (Dracula), Anne Rice’s tale challenges the notion of good and evil and establishes that in this supernatural world evil is a point of view. Who is to judge good and bad? Is the farmer that slaughters the pig to feed his family good? Is the shark that swallows the surfer that drifts too far from shore evil? For good or bad, Interview with a Vampire changed the course of vampire history forever.
Now the audience actually began to sympathize with the very monster that wants to drain them dry. Movies like Fright Night turned the vampire into a sympathetic hopeless romantic who, though still a monster, just wants to be with the one he loves. Ah, how sweet. Even Dracula’s own tale was reworked to include more overtones of romance. No longer was the Dark Prince coming to the west to conquer but to seek out that which has been denied him for so long - true love. This change in the monster’s mythology has grown over the years to the point where vampire romances are some of the most popular. All you need for proof is just look at the success and followings for Buffy/Angel and Twilight. But Anne Rice wasn’t done yet.
In 1985, she would yet again tweak the genre and bring a whole new aspect to the mythology – the Vampire Hero. Enter: The Vampire Lestat. Though this dark rogue was in Interview with a Vampire, that tale was told by the vampire Louis, a melancholy, self-loathing creature of the night that still clings to his humanity. From Louis’ point of view, Lestat comes off as quite the villain. But we soon learn as The Vampire Chronicles unfold, Lestat is anything but a villain. Lestat is a creature of unbridled passion and unrivaled bravery. No challenge set before him is too great to overcome. Even when faced with the nigh immeasurable dark power of Akasha, the Queen of the Damned, the diabolical plans of the Body Thief, or the ultimate evil himself Memnoch the Devil.
Vampires are still creatures of darkness, never forget that. But Lestat showed that they could also be champions, they can be heroes in spite of their dark nature. The vampire Hannibal King is a private investigator who is a huge help in combating the evil of Dracula in the Marvel Universe. Angel is the vampire cursed with a soul who now uses his dark gifts to protect mankind and spends his nights atoning for all the horrible acts he committed when he was Angelus. Spike was evil Angelus’ partner in crime. For decades they cut a swath of terror and destruction across the Old World. That was until the day he met a certain girl. Spike’s love for Buffy made him want to be a better man so he fought and went through hell to get his soul back. Now, like Angel, Spike is a force for good. Cassidy is a two-fisted, hard-drinking Irish vampire who helps Jesse Custer, the Preacher, on his quest to find God.
In the DCU’s multiverse of 52, Earth-43 is the home to the Vampire-Batman. This creature of darkness was born out of Batman’s battle with Dracula in Red Rain. In Bloodstorm, the Dark Knight Vampire teams up with Catwoman, who has become a werecat, to stop the Joker’s mad scheme of taking over Gotham City’s crime syndicate with the help of a gang of bloodsuckers. And in Crimson Mist, the Batman rises from the grave once more to rid Gotham City of its criminal element permanently.
But not all vampires made the switch to dark brooding romantic hero. No, some creatures of the night still live up to the name. Throughout the ‘70s, Marv Wolfman and Gene Colan chronicled the dark adventures of the Lord of Vampires in the pages of Tomb of Dracula. Tomb was quite unique in that its main character was not a cape and cowl-wearing, stalwart defender of justice but rather a scheming supernatural creature of darkness. Dracula was the main character of the series and he was a true monster. His mortal adversaries, the “Good Guys,” were the supporting cast. Wolfman and Colan stuck close to the roots of the Stoker’s creation and presented Dracula as the ultimate super villain.
Horror master Stephen King told the dark tale of Salem’s Lot, a small town in Maine plagued by the arrival of the undead. Modern movie masters Quentin Tarantino (Pulp Fiction) and Robert Rodriguez (Sin City) teamed up to tell the tale From Dusk till Dawn. In this horror movie, two cold-blooded killers and the innocent family they’ve kidnapped must survive a night trapped inside a desolate bar under siege by shrieking, blood-starved vampires. The vampires in this tale are truly monstrous. But nothing compares to the nightmare that descends on Barrow, Alaska, a small isolated town so far up north that it suffers 30 Days of Night and the hungry vampires that come with it.
So who protects mankind from these monsters? Why the slayer of course. That brave soul that turns the tables on the monsters. Buffy the Vampire Slayer is a super woman who with her Scooby Gang stands guard over the Hellmouth in Sunnydale. Blade is the Daywalker, a slayer with all the vampire’s strengths, but none of its weaknesses. In 12,000 A.D., Vampire Hunter D is a dhampir (half human/half vampire) who hunts the undead and protects mankind from the things that go bump in the night. Rayne, also a dhampir, works for the Brimstone Society, a clandestine organization hell-bent on ridding the world of the vampire plague once and for all. Then there is the legendary Abraham Van Helsing, the man that matched wits with Dracula, and won. Van Helsing would be the greatest slayer if it weren’t for the next name on this list – Robert Neville. Neville lives in a world where he is The Last Man on Earth. Every single person on the planet has been turned into a blood-seeking vampire. By night Neville barricades himself inside his fortress-like home and listens to the unholy cries of the undead as they try to claw their way inside to get to his warm blood. By day, he seeks out their lairs and hiding spots and slays them mercilessly. Neville has become the monster that monsters fear. As he puts it, “I am Legend.”
The Odinson tends to lean more toward the vampire as a monster over the vampire as a broody dark hero, but I can get enjoyment from either version. Bram Stoker’s Dracula is a wonderful horror story, told in a very unique way (through letters and journal entries). And Anne Rice’s Interview with a Vampire is a revolutionary piece of literature that helped creators and audiences look at the genre from a whole new point of view. So raise your jeweled goblet full of your favorite Halloween beverage and join the Odinson in a toast to Bram Stoker and Anne Rice – the Godfather and Godmother of the Vampires.
Join me next week when the Odinson continues his countdown to Halloween with a list of his all time favorite vampire stories in comics.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
July 20, 2012 · No Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Lots of topics are running through the Odinson’s mind this week, so many that it’s hard to nail one down and make it the sole subject of this week’s column. So I’ve decided to talk about all of them with a round of Quick Thoughts.
*** This last week, thanks to Diamond, I was made aware of a short film entitled Dirty Laundry. It’s a little over ten minutes long and it stars Thomas Jane (Deep Blue Sea, Mutant Chronicles) and Ron Pearlman (Hellboy, Blade 2). The short is really well done and the makers of it do a great job of fitting a lot into a very short window. And though it’s not blatant and in your face about it, the best thing about this short film is that the main protagonist is none other than Frank Castle, a.k.a. the Punisher. That’s right, Thomas Jane reprises his role from the 2004 movie The Punisher. Now, the Odinson has never been a huge fan of the Punisher’s style of justice. That being said, this is easily my favorite Punisher movie to date, though War Zone starring Ray Stevenson was pretty good (for a Punisher film).
What really got me jazzed about this short film, other than the quality of it, is that it got me thinking that maybe they are onto something here. This is how Marvel should introduce characters like the Iron Fist, Black Panther, Silver Surfer, Shang Chi, and many, many others in solo adventures to the movie-going audiences, as short films that play before their full length features. Back in the day, movies used to always have animated shorts and/or short films that preceded the main picture. A lot of Pixar films still do. Marvel should seize this opportunity and re-visit this gimmick. Sure Heroes for Hire has fans, but trying to talk a Hollywood investor into shilling out hundreds of millions of dollars to bank a movie about B and C-List characters is a Herculean feat to be sure. And even if you do, by the time Hollywood know-it-alls get done tweaking it, the product is so far removed from the original source material as to be made almost unrecognizable (i.e. Doctor Doom has electrical powers, Wha?!). I for one am a huge Rom fan, but I won’t hold my breath till the day I see a major motion picture based on my cyborg hero. However, Marvel Studios could finance these shorts themselves and introduce many of their lesser known characters to the world at large with little or no financial risk. And if the buzz is good enough, then the next time you see Power Man and Iron Fist it’ll be in a full length feature film. So go to YouTube and check out the short film Dirty Laundry. This could be the beginning of something really cool.
*** Speaking of YouTube, somebody sent me a video which showed all three actors to have played the Man of Steel on the Big Screen, Christopher Reeve, Brandon Routh, and Henry Cavill, standing side-by-side in uniform and by far and away Christopher Reeve looked the best. I know he’s the Superman I grew up with and I will always say that other Supermen, be they movie, TV, cartoon or comic book versions, will all be judged by how he defined the role, but just objectively looking at the costumes, Reeve’s, without a doubt, says SUPERMAN. That’s Superman in all his glory, unapologetic about the bright colors and the source material that inspired it. I’ve said it before and I’ll probably say it again, but there’s a reason this character has been around for 75 years; he works. There’s an old saying, “If it isn’t broke, don’t fix it.” The new costume for Man of Steel aside, can someone please explain to me why the New 52 Superman needs knee pads and armor plating?
*** I saw an interview with Joss Whedon from Comic Con and in it the man said that if someone (meaning a major movie studio) were to put up the money for him to do another Firefly movie that he would put it right to the top of his to do list. What a thrill this was to hear. All right, Browncoats unite! The Odinson definitely has his fingers crossed for this one to happen.
*** Recently I was going through my comic collection and culling it down a bit for the sake of room, selling some books on webuycomics.com, and came across some old gems I haven’t visited in a while. I came across Avengers #262. It’s an issue that features a classic super hero vs. super hero brawl, Sub-Mariner vs. Hercules to be exact, and I remembered how much I really liked this issue when it first came out back in 1985. At that time, I remembered I liked the character Sub-Mariner from when I read The Invaders and saw him pop up from time-to-time in the pages of Fantastic Four, but this is the issue when I became a fan of the character.
As the story goes, Namor is distraught and saddened because he has recently lost his kingdom (see Prince Namor the Sub-Mariner #1-4), lost his love interest (see Alpha Flight #15-16) and the world at large still hasn’t really forgiven his attempted invasion of the surface world (see Fantastic Four Annual #1). The Avengers, keeping tabs on this possible threat via satellite, notice his melancholy demeanor. This is where the tale takes off. The bombastic Hercules is taken aback by the pitiful sight of such a great man. The Son of Zeus only knows of Namor through legendary tales and has always heard of the great strength of the Savage Sub-Mariner. So Hercules, being Hercules, decides to cheer up Namor the only way he knows how, through the glorious rigors of battle!
What follows is a Mighty Marvel Classic, two of the pantheon’s mightiest heroes clashing in a jungle-shaking brawl for the ages. I remember at first knowing Hercules would win hands down, but found myself starting to respect the awesome might of and actually cheering for the Savage Sub-Mariner. To this day, I can’t be sure who would actually win between these two titans. But needless to say, by story’s end Captain America informs the good Prince about his important role in Marvel History (see Avengers #4) and Namor accepts Captain America’s invitation to join the ranks of Earth’s Mightiest Heroes. And to this day the Avengers #262-285 run on the book has one of my all time favorite rosters – Captain America, Black Knight, Captain Marvel II (Photon), Wasp, Hercules, and the Sub-Mariner, with Dr. Druid, Thor and She-Hulk showing up as well. During this run we saw the Return of Jean Grey; learned the final fate of the Beyonder; saw the ultimate Avengers vs. Hulk throw down; witnessed a Kang the Conqueror tale for the ages and an epic undersea crossover with Alpha Flight; gasped as the Masters of Evil stormed Avengers Mansion in Under Siege; and thrilled as Earth’s Mightiest Heroes went to war with the Olympian Gods! I was a fan before this run, but this is when the Avengers became my all time favorite team book
NOTE: New Teen Titans by Marv Wolfman and George Perez is still a close second.
*** The Dark Knight Rises, the third and final installment in Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy hit theatres this last week and I wish I was here to talk about the film, but misfortune and tragedy have happened. First, on a prominent movie review website known as Rotten Tomatoes, after somebody wrote a negative review about the movie, he started receiving over-the-top hostile responses. I even read in one report, borderline death threats. The internet community is full of Trolls but this is taking it too far. Agree with him or not, the man is entitled to his opinion and someone taking their jeering to the level of threatening is inexcusable. And what makes this an even stranger tale is that the movie on this site is getting an 87% positive rating. So what are these people so bent out of shape about?
Then ICV2 reported on this little gem (see Limbaugh Sees Conspiracy in 'The Dark Knight Rises'). Well known radio talk show host Rush Limbaugh has decided that because the main villain in the movie is Bane and that Republican Presidential candidate Mitt Romney who founded a company named Bain Capital that voting in the fall will be affected by this. Really? I am by no means a political expert, but Mr. Limbaugh has clearly shown that he has very little faith in the American citizen to be able to differentiate between real life and entertainment. I haven’t heard the audio, but I sincerely hope the man was saying this tongue-firmly-in-cheek.
And finally, on to an even sadder subject, at a midnight showing of the premiere of The Dark Knight Rises in Colorado, a demented madman entered a movie theatre and with a gun opened fired on the crowd, murdering several attendees and injuring even more. Why do we live in a world where things like this happen? My condolences go out to the family members and friends of the victims.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell
July 13, 2012 · 2 Comments
Greetings from the Odinson,
Last weekend I went and saw the movie - The Amazing Spider-Man. As many of you that read my columns on a regular basis know, the Odinson is not a fan of the origin story, especially in this case where barely ten years ago we saw a Spider-Man movie showcasing his origin. With that being said, I went into this flick with expectations well in check. And to my pleasant surprise, I really, really enjoyed the film.
I took a lot of the tweaks to the origin with a grain of salt, because, for all its faults, the first Tobey Maguire Spider-Man movie (other than the organic webs) did about as good a job on Spidey’s origin as can be done. And it would have been redundant for the new film to retread the same ground that had already been covered. So I let some of the liberties the filmmaker took with Spidey’s origin this time around slide.
Now once it gets past the origin part of the story (roughly the first 20 minutes or so of the film) this movie starts to pop. I really got into the movie. The filmmakers, actor and stuntmen did an outstanding job of bringing Spider-Man to life. He moved, talked, and acted exactly how Spider-Man does in my head when I’m reading the comic books. He had the speed, the strength, the courage to face impossible odds, and most importantly the brains. One the major aspects of the Peter Parker character that this film did much, much better than the others is showing just how smart Peter Parker really is. I loved that the film showed him creating his web-shooters. Parker being super smart is every bit as important a trait to the character as his spider-powers. Spider-Man doesn’t defeat guys like Venom, Electro, Sandman, and Shocker because he’s more powerful than they are. No, he wins because he can outthink them.
Another part of Spider-Man lore this film really nailed was the Peter Parker/Flash Thompson relationship. This is exactly how I remember their friendship developing in the comics. They started out as antagonists, Flash the big bully picking on the nerdy Parker. But as the series went along, Flash actually becomes one of Peter’s closest friends. He’s in his wedding for crying out loud. And I can see that happening as this movie franchise moves along.
I love Mary Jane, but it was absolutely the right call to go with Gwen Stacy on this one. Gwen is such an extremely important part of the Spider-Man mythos it would have been a crime to leave her out, again. The MJ/Peter relationship has romance, but the Gwen/Peter relationship has pathos. It’s a tragic affair because all longtime Spidey fans know where this road inevitably leads.
I would be remiss if I didn’t mention the villain of this piece. For three films, director Sam Raimi teased us with cameos by Dr. Curt Connors, the man who would become Spidey’s reptilian foe, the Lizard. As I’ve spoken at length about in previous columns (see Rogue War: Part 1), Spider-Man has an amazing cast of foes. Foes that aren’t just villain-of-week types, but foes that really resonate and hit close to home, because Spider-Man or Peter Parker usually has some sort of personal connection to them (the great ones anyway). When Spider-Man takes on guys like Doctor Octopus, Morbius, the Green Goblin, and the Man-Wolf there’s good drama to be had because of the personal dimension these conflicts bring to the table. And the Lizard falls into this category. Peter Parker and Curt Connors are friends. Spider-Man knows that behind the Lizard’s murderous facade is a good man.
Visually, the onscreen throw downs between Spider-Man and the Lizard in this movie are absolutely amazing. The speed and strength these two metas display is an awesome sight to behold. Like the Man of Steel’s struggle against the Kryptonian super villains in Superman 2 and the Iron Man/Thor and Hulk/Thor scuffles in The Avengers, when Spider-Man and the Lizard go at in this movie, the audience is really treated to the spectacle of what it would be like when two super humans went at it.
I loved the way the Lizard looked and acted. I loved that he could talk. And the dichotomy and mental struggle between Curt Connors and his Lizard persona was fantastic. There’s a great scene when Spidey and the Lizard are fighting in the high school science lab and what the Lizard does in this scene just made me cheer. It’s a little throw away moment but for a comic fan I appreciated the character inspired move.
About a week before this film came out I re-watched the first Spider-Man movie from 2002. For all its flaws, it’s really not that bad of a flick. But, other than the obvious things like CGI improvements and the organic web-shooting fiasco, the new film also improves on its take on the super villain. The biggest flaw from that first film is the Green Goblin. Not the character, because Norman Osborn is boss and an arch villain through and through, but the look of the character. Every time the Green Goblin shows up on screen wearing that ridiculous outfit it just pulls me right out of the film. It in no way, shape or form resembles anything remotely like the character from the comic. That has to be the worst costume design for a comic book movie villain ever. I get that Hollywood feels the need to tweak this stuff, but that was terrible, and if I can’t take the villain seriously then I can’t take the movie that seriously either. Plus, the film version of the Green Goblin seemed petty and his villainous plots seemed limited for such a smart guy, whereas the Lizard’s ultimate scheme is on a grand scale. It’s an arch design worthy of something right out of a Spider-Man comic book.
Another observation about The Amazing Spider-Man is the top notch casting. With all due respect to the cast of the 2002 film, the acting in this new film is head and shoulders above anything that came before. The leads Andrew Garfield as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and the beautiful Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy carried the weight of the story and delivered outstanding performances. I absolutely love that at the end of this film our characters are still young and in high school. Another one of the flaws from the 2002 film is that in a span of five minutes Peter jumps from age 17 to age 25. It’s quite jarring and a shame that they felt a need to gloss over so much of Spider-Man’s history.
I’ve already talked about the Lizard but Rhys Ifans’ take on Curt Connors is superb, especially for an actor mostly known for comedic roles (The Replacements, Little Nicky). Martin Sheen was great as Uncle Ben and I really enjoyed Sally Field as Aunt May. But easily the stand out role has to be Denis Leary as Captain Stacy, NYC Police Chief and Gwen’s father. Every single scene he is in is marvelous. Oh, and this film has, without a doubt, the best Stan Lee cameo to date. His cameo in Thor was my favorite, but this one tops it.
Any movie can be nitpicked and scrutinized until every little flaw is brought to the surface. For me, my favorite Spider-Man movie so far is still Spider-Man 2, partly because Doctor Octopus is one of my all time favorite super villains and Alfred Molina was simply wonderful in the role. But The Amazing Spider-Man is right there. It’s a film that really resonates and sticks with you long after it’s over. I actually can’t wait to see it again and that’s something that, other than the second one, I couldn’t say about previous Spidey films.
My final observation on this must-see Spidey film is I really appreciated the director’s eye for telling a story, especially a Spider-Man story that a comic book fan can be glad about. There’s a scene in this film where Spider-Man, perched high up on the side of a tall building, is looking down from a bird’s eye view as far below a car chase is transpiring. That moment gives me goose bumps because it’s literally as if they pulled a panel right out of a comic book and stuck it up on the Big Screen for the whole world to see.
Odinson Rating: 4 out of 5 Hammers
Quick Correction: Last week I mentioned that Eddie was Dr. Everett Scott’s son. He is actually his nephew.
This is Odinson bidding thee farewell