COMICS THAT SHOULD BE MADE INTO MOVIES: DEADMAN

Deadman is another comic with a cool story that I think would make a good movie if done right. Excuse the resemblance to Daredevil. Here’s the Comicvine origin.

The Deadman, born Boston Brand, was a well known trapeze artist who was killed by newly joined member of the League of Assassins, The Hook. (It wasn’t personal, the mission was only for initiation purposes.) For the many kindnesses that Brand had performed during his life, Deadman was saved and given his powers by Hindu goddess of balance, Rama Kushna, so that he should find his killer and settle the score.

He began to hunt for his assassin, knowing only that the man had a hook for a hand. When Deadman learned that a villain called the Hook was a member of the League Of Assassins, he was certain it was the same man who killed him. Along the way of his journey, Brand continued to interact in peoples lives, doing good deeds in his own way. One of the people was another aerialist known as the Eagle. They would first meet in St. Louis where the Eagle tried to kill him during a performance while in the air. Boston Brand as Deadman would see justice done as the Deadman when the Eagle was hired to replace him.

Deadman eventually tracked down the Hook, only to watch him die at the hands of the Sensei, leader of League of Assassins. Then with his brother Cleveland and new friend Batman, Deadman then prevented the League of Assassins taking control of the fabled Himalayan land of Nanda Parbat. Deadman was subsequently called upon to do the duties expected of spirits, such as him, greeting those entering the Land of the Just Dead. In this role Deadman guided the Phantom Stranger, the Spectre, Etrigan the Demon, and Swamp Thing in order to rescue the spirit of Abby Arcane after she was murdered by her uncle.

Deadman has teamed up with other spectral heroes, joining the Phantom Stranger and Swamp Thing to combat the threat of a “primordial shadow” that imperiled Heaven and Earth. When Asmodel usurped the power of the spirit of wrath, Deadman formed part of a strike force of sentinels of magic with Doctor Occult, Felix Faust, the Phantom Stranger, Ragman, Raven, and Sentinel assembled by Zatanna to oppose the fallen angel. Deadman continues to work with people on Earth, hoping one day to achieve a peaceful reward.

Powers and Abilities

As a spectre, Deadman has many supernatural abilities, most notably, the ability to possess other living creatures. The possession is strong enough to allow Deadman total control of the host body, although some particularly strong-willed persons have been shown to be able to resist the possession and exorcise Deadman from their bodies.

He possesses the ability to fly and cross the boundaries between the land of the living and that of the dead with ease, and as such, he maintains an intimate knowledge of the supernatural world.

Deadman is also invisible to most people, with the exception being those with similar supernatural abilities to his own. This, along with his intangibility, are out of Deadman’s control.

As a human, Boston Brand was an elite gymnast and trapeze performer, capable of phenomenal feats of agility and strength.-Source

MOVIE REVIEW: THE DARK KNIGHT RISES

By Scott Tre

As Gotham City steps into a new era, the sins of the past continue to haunt Jim Gordon and Bruce Wayne. Eight years ago, they engaged in a cover-up that required the Batman to become a fugitive from justice. The caped crusader hasn’t been seen or heard from since. Gotham is now a crime free utopia thanks to the Dent act, an aggressive crime bill named in honor of slain district attorney Harvey Dent. In the wake of its success, Gordon is now seen as a relic of the past, and Bruce Wayne has given into despair.

Since hanging up the cape and cowl, the billionaire playboy has become a reclusive cripple. However, a chance meeting with a lovely and exceptional thief named Selina Kyle coaxes him out of a self-imposed exile. He puts his detective skills to work, and discovers Ms. Kyle to be a cog in much larger machine. Sitting at its controls is Bane, a fearsome terrorist leader who means to raze Gotham City to the ground. Once again, The Batman is needed. Can Bruce rise up from the depths of despair meet the challenge that lies ahead?

The Dark knight Rises is the long awaited conclusion to Christopher Nolan’s “Dark Knight Trilogy.” It easily dwarfs its predecessors in terms of size and scope, showing itself to be the most ambitious of the three. That ambition, like so many other elements of the film, proves to be a double edged sword. On the one hand, it liberates the film from the conventions of superhero cinema. On the other, it proves to be an albatross. The film bears the weight of this self-imposed burden while valiantly pushing onward towards the finish line.

With each successive entry of Nolan’s trilogy, the setting and production design have expanded to accommodate his vision. The city of Chicago featured prominently in both Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. Its criminal lore greatly informed the plot of the latter, which was clearly inspired by The Untouchables. In the Dark Knight Rises, the windy city has been supplanted by New York and Los Angeles. There are obvious parallels to the former during the Guiliani administration, which ties into Nolan’s ongoing allegory to the war on terror. Just like New York City in the weeks and months preceding 9/11, Gotham basks in the possibilities of a brighter tomorrow. Those hopes are dashed with the emergence of Bane.

Nolan and his cinematographer, Wally Pfister, have applied some much needed discipline to their visual style. The shots are steadier than ever before, resulting in a strikingly epic look. Unfortunately, the newly stationary camera proves to be both a blessing and a curse for the film’s fight choreography. The Batman is revealed to be an unimaginative night brawler, relying on haymaker punches and the like. While this is a bit frustrating from an aesthetic standpoint, it is admittedly consistent with this particular iteration of the title character. Bruce’s fighting style seems to grow out of his own bullheadedness.

That little nuance comes into play during Batman’s confrontations with Bane. The character is the living embodiment of physical intimidation. The cinematography, coupled with the costume design and Tom Hardy’s bulked-up physique, create an undeniably menacing presence. The vocal effects applied to Tom Hardy’s voice make him sound like Darth Vader. He even seems to have affected Sean Connery’s Scottish accent. During his monologues, he takes on the air of a brutal ringmaster. While effective, he feels a bit incomplete when compared to the likes of The Joker and Rha’s Al Ghul. One never gets a clear idea of what his long term plans are.

The screenplay incorporates elements of such well known story arcs such as “Batman: The Dark Knight Returns,” “Knightfall,” and “No Man’s Land.” It also remains doggedly true to the core themes established in Batman Begins and The Dark Knight. As a result, the film often feels overstuffed and disjointed. It bursts at the seams with ideas, sometimes threatening to buckle under its own weight. The doomsday scenario established in the final act feels abbreviated. Matters are not helped by Nolan’s tendency toward obvious symbolism. Still, his dedication to his vision sees the film through, consequences be damned.

Nolan’s dedication is mirrored by the principle cast. Catwoman is nicely implemented into the pseudo realistic universe he’s created. Her inclusion is handled with a certain modicum of restraint. Her origins are not explored, and no explanation is given for her considerable skills. Like Heath Ledger’s Joker, she simply is. As always, Michael Caine provides the films emotional core, proving to be the sole “voice of reason” in Bruce Wayne’s world. Christian Bale’s incessant brooding instills a certain level of sympathy for the title character. We want to see him succeed, despite the fact that he isn’t much fun to be around.

When looking back on The Dark Knight Rises, there are many parallels between Christopher Nolan and Bruce Wayne. Both men are visionaries with limitless resources at their disposal, and they both exhibit a dogged determination that ultimately pays off. They paint themselves into a proverbial corner, yet are able to defiantly fight their way out. Having reached the inevitable end game, Nolan’s vision is now complete. The Dark Knight Rises doesn’t quite barrel through the finish line as expected, but it still emerges triumphant, and wearing it’s battle scars with pride. To an extent, it succeeds in spite of itself.

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MOVIE REVIEW: THE AMAZING SPIDERMAN

By Scott Tre

Peter Parker, a promising young student at Midtown Science High School, is about to undergo a drastic life change. A discovery in his Aunt and Uncle’s basement prompts him to seek out one of his father’s old colleagues, Dr. Curt Conners. After infiltrating the OsCorp facility under false pretenses, Peter is bitten by a genetically altered spider. The bite endows him the proportionate powers of the tiny creature.

In light of his newfound abilities, Peter again seeks out Conners. The two form a bond, and Peter aids Conners experiments in limb regeneration. Shortly thereafter, Peter’s uncle is accidentally killed by a petty thief. Peter takes to the streets to find his Uncles killer, eventually becoming a masked vigilante named “Spider-Man.” Spider-Man soon becomes an overnight media sensation. Meanwhile, Conners experiments result in him becoming a giant human/lizard hybrid. When the creature begins rampaging through the streets and sewers of New York City, It ultimately falls to Spider-Man to stop him.

The Amazing Spider-Man is the much anticipated reboot of the Sony Pictures franchise. It boasts a different cast than the previous three films, as well as new director. In certain regards, it’s more faithful the source material. In others, it’s wildly divergent. While it admittedly finds a happy medium between the two, it ultimately fails to embody the true spirit of its title character.
The world of The Amazing Spider-Man feels more superficially realistic than that of the Raimi films. The film’s vision of New York is a neo-noir throwback to 70’s revenge classics such as Death Wish. While this works to modernize the film to an extent, it also renders it generic.

While Spider-Man has never been a dark character per se, there has always been a dark undercurrent running through his mythos. Both he and his rogues gallery are the direct result of science experiments gone awry, often with tragic results. The filmmakers choose to bring such elements to the surface, and wind up pushing a bit too far in that direction. Certain moments evoke David Cronenberg style body horror. It gets to the point where even Spidey himself comes off as somewhat creepy.

The action scenes are bit more grounded in reality this time out, and as such not quite as dependent on CG as previous Spider-Man films. Stunt Coordinator Andy Armstrong incorporates elements of parkour and MMA. The difference is noticeable, as Spider-Man is more fearsome in combat than ever before. Strangely, this doesn’t result in more exciting action scenes. The set pieces, like much of the rest of the film, feel strangely indistinct.

The film’s conception of Spidey also proves to be misguided. It’s a complete 180 from the Sam Raimi/Tobey Maguire characterization. The fault lies not with Andrew Garfield’s performance, nor with his physical appearance. The problem lies with the film’s overall depiction of Parker, who’s shown to be a social outcast only in the most romantic sense of the phrase. He never seems particularly put upon, nor do his social inadequacies seem like anything that he won’t eventually outgrow. His transformation into Spider-Man never feels like an organic or even a necessary evolution.

As Conners, Rhys Ifans is much too mannered and distant to be a truly sympathetic villain. The Lizard’s creature design, while somewhat true to the original one by Steve Ditko, is too humanoid. The CGI used to bring the creature to life unintentionally evokes the stop motion creations of Ray Harryhausen.

The Amazing Spider-Man isn’t truly a bad film, but a frustratingly adequate one. Director Marc Webb has a vision for the character, but it consists of making him little more than a garden variety brooding loner. Raimi’s films were light as air, and never felt too tethered to modern expectations of what a superhero film should be. In that regard, they were very much like the title character. By contrast, The Amazing Spider-Man feels much too beholden to fan expectations. As a result, it never truly soars.

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“THE DARK KNIGHT RETURNS” IN ANIMATED FORM

By Scott Tre

Batman will perhaps never escape the shadow of Frank Miller. His take on the character has left such an indelible mark that almost every iteration since has been a variation of what he established. Ironically, as influential as both Batman: Year One and Batman: The Dark Knight Returns have been, the latter has never received a proper adaptation in either live-action or animated form. Alas, The DC Animated Universe provides a wonderful platform to explore non-canonical takes on beloved characters. This fall, the highly popular series will welcome Frank Miller’s dystopian (and some would say definitive) take on the caped crusader into the fold. The Hollywood Reporter has recently published photographic evidence of this endeavor.

Yesterday, The Hollywood Reporter published 10 newly released images from Bruce Timm’s production of Batman: The Dark Knight Returns. The 10 stills show a 55 year old Bruce Wayne/Batman, as well as a thirteen year old female robin. So epic is this undertaking, its makers have split it into two volumes. The first, entitled Batman: The Dark Knight Returns part 1, will be released in the fall. Part 2 will be released early next year. Peter Weller will be voicing the caped crusader, which is fitting seeing as how both Robocop and Frank Miller’s dystopian version of Batman were essentially riffs on Dirty Harry.

The two part epic will be the 15th film in the DCAU line, which has been rechristened DC Comics Premiere Movies. It’s being directed by Jay Oliva, who’s also storyboarding Zack Snyder’s upcoming Man of Steel. The pedigree here is undeniably strong. These ten stills give me faith that Bruce Timm and company will do the single greatest graphic novel of all time justice. I feel that they maintain reasonable fidelity with the artwork of Frank Miller and Klaus Janson. If all goes as it should, Batman: The Dark Knight returns should be the single best DC animated film ever. Below I have embedded the animation stills sans the photos of the voice actors.

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