Fantastic Four

 

The Fantastic Four was… well… fantastic! It was everything the comic is, but brought to life. Casting was exceptional. They couldn’t have found anyone who looked and acted more like Reed Richards/Mr. Fantastic than Ioan Gruffudd. Reed is the distracted, quiet genius who finds himself the reluctant leader of the Fantastic Four. Michael Chiklis played the more difficult role of Ben Grimm/The Thing, who turned into a rock-man, the only one of the four who can’t turn his power on and off. I had reservations about Jessica Alba playing Susan Storm/Invisible Woman; but I have to say she did a great job as well. Susan not only plays the mothering, nurturing-role as the only female of the group, and older sister of Johnny, but she also holds her own as a brilliant scientist and powerful hero. Of the four though, I think that Chris Evans actually became Johnny Storm/The Human Torch, and did the best job of bringing his character to life. Johnny is the playboy, thrill-seeker who loves the media attention, and loves torturing Grimm in endless pranks and jokes. Victor Von Doom/Doctor Doom is played by Julian McMahon, who also does a great job as the Four’s benefactor-turned-villain.

The beginning of the movie seems a bit rushed. There are no slow parts in this movie. But I see where they needed to hurry with the events leading to the accident that changes them, just to get on with the rest of the story. Plus, with 4 people in leading roles, instead of 1 or 2, it’s harder to get into each character’s story. But with sequels already planned, they have plenty of time for more character development. This movie is mainly about how the Four get their powers, how they deal with them, and the beginning of the first super hero family.

Don’t expect the Fantastic Four movie to be like Batman Begins. The mood is completely different. Marvel takes a different approach with their comic book characters. Where DC characters, like Batman, tend to have darker stories and are more dramatic and mythological; Marvel is usually more comedic and light-hearted. The Fantastic Four is probably the funniest comic book movie ever made, without getting too cheesy. Plus it’s family aspect makes it unique as well.

The special effects for this movie were a huge challenge. Chiklis had to don a bulky rubber suit, that looked remarkably realistic as orange rock. Mr. Fantastic’s stretching was a concern of mine. I hoped it wouldn’t look too campy or cheesy. That, too, was well met. I was really impressed with all of the effects in this movie, especially The Human Torch’s fire property.

All in all, the Fantastic Four was an excellent movie and a lot of fun.

Bewitched

 

Bewitched, starring Nicole Kidman and Will Ferrell, was a pretty fun movie. Nicole did, eerily, resemble the former Samantha (Elizabeth Montgomery) at times. Though the movie did take a different approach on Bewitched. Kidman plays Isabel, a witch who decides she wants to live the life of a mortal. Ferrell plays Jack, a down-and-out actor who gets a chance to play “Darren” in the remake of Bewitched. Jack wants to be the star of the show, so he wants to cast a no-name actress for “Samantha.” Jack is egocentric and scene-stealing, but yet keeps a boyish charm that for some reason attracts Isabel. Isabel is a sweet, innocent, and naïve at times. Even when she gets mad and tries to get even with Jack for what he’s doing, she feels guilty and regrets it.

The scenes that I didn’t care for were the TV shows of Bewitched they taped. They were extremely cheesy and campy. I was hoping they would modernize it.

Other than that, I thought the story was fun, and the roles were cast wonderfully. It’s not going to win any awards. But if you’re looking for a light-hearted, feel-good movie I’d recommend it.

Blown Away By Batman Begins!

 

“Wow”… That’s the first thing I said when the movie ended. Batman Begins is probably the best movie I’ve seen in years. If it doesn’t do better than the latest Star Wars in overall sales (I don’t mean opening weekend), I’ll be surprised to say the least.

Yesterday, a friend surprised me with free passes to see the sneak preview to Batman Begins. I was looking forward to the movie, and jumped at the chance to see it early. Now, I was very skeptical that people had been saying that Bale would be a better Batman than Michael Keaton. After seeing the movie, I’d have to say… they were right! As much as I loved Keaton’s performances as Batman, Bale just took this movie to a whole new level.

Of course the supporting cast was excellent. Michael Caine, Morgan Freeman, Liam Neeson, and Gary Oldman couldn’t have been better cast. Michael Caine portrayed Alfred, a wonderful foster-father-figure and friend. Morgan Freeman played the smaller role of “Fox,” an inventor and employee of Wayne Enterprises. Gary Oldman, of course, played the incorruptible Sergeant Gordon, and we get to see the beginnings of the relationship between he (the future Commissioner) and Batman. Look closely, and you’ll catch a glimpse of a crying baby, Barbara (aka Batgirl/Oracle) Gordon. Cillian Murphy played a wonderfully creepy villain, Scarecrow/Dr. Jonathon Crane. Bruce Wayne’s mentor and martial arts trainer, a complex character, was played by the great, Liam Neeson. Katie Holmes even did a pretty decent job as Bruce Wayne’s childhood friend who becomes a District Attorney of Gotham. All of the other minor roles were also cast very well. I could go on and on about them. Thankfully, they’ve already snagged Oldman and Bale for the next sequel. I’m hoping for Caine to return too.

The story was exceptional as well. The movie begins with Bruce Wayne in a prison in Asia, and we see flashbacks to his younger years, and the story develops as to why he’s there. The story is complex, but not to the point of being confusing. Gotham is headed for destruction, and is overrun with corruption and criminals. The story is how Bruce Wayne comes to the decision of fighting for his city, and overcoming his fears. We see the events and decisions that he makes that change Bruce into Batman. And how “Bruce Wayne” becomes the façade, and Batman the real persona. While this movie is darker than the other Batman movies, there are brief elements of humor as well.

Gotham itself was an amazing product of special effects. They really outdid themselves in that area too. Now, since this was the story of how Wayne became Batman, not a lot of FX were needed the first half of the movie. But what they did with Gotham and Batman’s gadgets were outstanding. Like I said, I could go on and on about this movie.

Motor City Comic Con 05

When my father & I arrived in Novi Friday night, we decided to drive to the Expo Center to make sure we could find it easily in the morning. We drove around the building, and were a little concerned since it didn’t look very large. We could see in through the glass doors, and it didn’t look like very many vendors were set up. But when we arrived the next morning, we were pleasantly surprised to see that it looked much larger on the inside, and there were quite a number of vendor booths! We were allowed in 30min prior to general admission, since I had purchased tickets early by mail. There was a table of freebies, where I picked up the movie poster for Batman Begins.

Continue reading Motor City Comic Con 05

Generation X

 

Generation X, the not-so-famous pilot movie that was supposed to usher in a tv series that never made it to the small screen, was inspired by the original Marvel comic series by the same name.
With the villain cast with the annoying, over-actor Matt Frewer (Max Headroom-himself) and a strange plot, is it any wonder it flopped? The movie centered around the Emma Frost (the White Queen) played by Finola Hughes with a bad wig, Sean Cassidy (Banshee), a small group of teenage mutant students who come under attack by the mad-scientist doctor (played by Matt Frewer) in their dreams.

In this version, apparently all mutants with the x-gene have some level of telepathy. I guess they felt sorry for Jubilee’s limited powers of a neat fireworks display. And two mutant teens, Buff and Refrax, were created just for this movie. Characters like Chamber, the mutant with half of his face missing and replaced with just energy, and Husk, who can shed her skin to take on the substance of whatever material she chooses, were too high of a budget for them to take on. Though this movie did not have much display of mutant powers. It was still a good representation of how teens act and treat each other when they’re different. The teens were cast pretty well, as was Banshee.

Even though the special effects were cheesy, and the villain was extremely annoying, it’s still a fun movie. I’m glad I found it on Ebay.

Sahara

 

I just saw a sneak preview of Sahara last night.. found out about the free tickets at the last minute & jumped at the chance! This isn’t really categorized as a science fiction movie, but at many points it sure felt like it. Some aspects of the movie were much too hard to believe.

Steve Zahn is a favorite comedian of mine, & I usually enjoy Matthew McConaughey films. Penelope Cruz, I could take or leave. And my opinions of them didn’t change after this movie.

I’ll give a basic rundown of the plot for those who don’t know much about the film.
Dirk (McConaughey) has a life-long goal of finding a legendary Civil War battleship. When he receives a old Confederate coin from a local in Africa, he believes the ship somehow made its way across the ocean and into Africa. The other story (which became the main plot & somehow overlapped Dirk’s story) was about a couple doctors in search of a source of what they think is the beginnings of a plague that had started spreading through certain villages in Northwest Africa. The plot was really stretching it at points, especially trying to get the two stories to converge. At times I felt like I was watching two separate movies. But I don’t want to give anything away to those who will watch the film.

All-in-all it was a very fun, action/adventure movie. Without Steve Zahn though, I wouldn’t have liked it as much. He added a lot of laughs in areas where the movie might have dragged… and in some areas where there was action happening too! I think they hired Cruz on just her looks or cool accent, because she definitely didn’t shine as an actress. She was in most of the movie, but she had the personality of a houseplant. McConaughey played the same role he always does… the cute, funny, hero… who needs a shave.

ST: Vulcan’s Soul – Book 1


Wow. This is now one of my favorite books. It jumped back & forth between the “past” (in the days of Surak, the father of Vulcan enlightenment).. telling the story of how the Romulans broke away from the Vulcans.. very interesting, if not a little confusing.. and the “present,” where a race called the Waatari claim that the Romulans are murderers that kicked them out of planets that supposedly belonged to the Waatari (Romulus & Remus).. and plan on Romulan genocide because of it.

The Federation is torn, because of an uneasy truce with the Romulans and not knowing exactly what happened when the Romulans found their now-homeworlds… the Romulans’ history is sketchy and filled with myths, so that not even most Romulans know what happened in their early history.

This first book tells the tale of one Vulcan man’s journey.. meeting and befriending Surak and eventually being forced off-planet because of the civil wars. At the end of the book he ends up leading a “wagon-train” ship to the stars, full of Vulcan refugees, never to return home again.

The “present-day” story involves a few of the original Star Trek cast… Ambassador Spock, Captain Saavik (Spock’s wife now), Admiral Uhura, and Admiral Chekov. These lead a fleet of non-sanctioned Federation ships, a few Klingon, as well as some Vulcan ships into the Neutralized Zone to meet up with the Waatari (as well as the Romulans) to try to find out the truth, in hopefully the most peaceful way.

Spoiler Warning:… in the last page of the book, it looks like Chekov is killed in a transporter accident, while he’s wrestling with one of the Waatari! But as we all know… no one stays dead forever in Star Trek.

Dhampir

Dhampir by Barb & J.C. Hendee. It’s a cross between the Blade series and Lord of the Rings. Magiere, her half-elf companion Leesil, and his mysterious dog are con-artists who pretend to rid small villages of supposed-vampire infestations. But when they decide to settle down and go straight, they just happen to pick a village with actual vampire residents. Here, Magiere discovers her true destiny, whether she likes it or not.. that she’s a true vampire slayer.. a Dhampir. Half-vampire herself, she is a living person, but has all the strengths of the “Noble Dead” (vampires). This is an action-packed vampire-slayer book with heart. The Hendee’s do a great job of exploring the main characters, even the “Noble Dead” themselves. I highly recommend this book to any fan of the vampire genre.


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