I knew I was forgetting a few things in yesterday's Geekstuff post, so here are some tidbits about upcoming movie adaptations of comic books, graphic novels and cartoons.
Transformers: Ghosts of Yesterday, by Alan Dean Foster, is the "official prequel" to the upcoming Transformers live-action movie. I've got mixed expectations for the movie and I generally avoid movie tie-in books like the plague (ditto for comic book tie-in novels1); on the other hand, I've enjoyed some of Foster's earlier novels (particularly his Spellsinger series) and I do loves me some transforming robots. When a bookstore gift card was dropped in my lap earlier this week, I decided to give the novel a look.
Zack Snyder, who directed the brilliant, beautiful and brutal movie adaptation of Frank Miller's graphic novel, 300, has apparently been tapped to helm2 another movie adaptation: Alan Moore's Watchmen.3 I thought 300 was a fantastic movie, but is about a stylistically removed from Watchmen as you can get; it will be interesting to see what Snyder does with a graphic novel whose fans are sharply divided as to whether it can (or even should) ever be properly adapted to film. It's been a while since I read Watchmen, but I think Bruce Davison (Lathe of Heaven, X-Men) is well-suited to the role of Dan Dreiberg, AKA Nite Owl.
I had a copy of the new, extended cut of Fantastic Four in my hands twice a couple of days ago, but ultimately left it in the store. It seems that "Ultimate Collector's Limited Edition" DVD — which came in a round tin that won't sit nicely with the other DVDs on my shelf — isn't quite as ultimate4 as one might expect, as the new release contains twenty minutes of previously unreleased footage and a second disc, undoubtedly jam-packed with new special features. Tempted though I was by this new version, I realized that those twenty minutes are far more likely to contain scenes of Johnny and Ben bickering than an extended battle sequence with Dr. Doom. I'm sure I'll pick it up eventually, as special DVD features are like a kind of crack to me.
I'd say something about the Wachowski Brothers' live-action adaptation of Speed Racer, but I've never actually watched the cartoon. If you're the enterprising sort, you may be able to find a photo of Speed's car, the Mach 5, on the Internets, perhaps even here somewhere.
- A recent exception was Devin Grayson's Inheritance, a novel set in the DC Universe. Unlike the handful of other comic book tie-in novels I've read, this one managed to make the jump from panels to prose pretty well. [↩]
- "[T]apped to helm" is officially part of the Hollywood vernacular, it seems. [↩]
- The likelihood of Alan Moore's name appearing anywhere on screen is slim to none, as Moore wants nothing to do with his works being adapted to film. Thanks to tricksy comic book companies like DC taking ownership of the works their artists produce, several of Moore's graphic novels — most notably V for Vendetta, The League of Extraordinary Gentlemen and From Hell — have been turned into movies without his consent. [↩]
- Come on, Twentieth Century Fox, get with the program. Once you've released an "ultimate" version, there should be no more versions. The word has a meaning; look it up! [↩]
Well, I've been thirty-four years old for a week now and I've gotta say I'm liking it so far. There are times when being an adult is all about socks and shirts and ties, oil changes and mortgage payments, but I'm happy to say that my family and friends know that I'm still all about the books, comics, toys and games. Apart from a very nice polo shirt from my mother-in-law, most of my birthday bounty would have been eagerly received by seventeen-year-old me.
- LEGO Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy for the Xbox, from my young apprentice. Everything is proceeding as I have foreseen.
- The Making of Star Wars by J.W. Rinzler, from Laura.
- A Boba Fett t-shirt, also from Laura.
- The Ultimate Fantastic Four trade paperbacks volumes 1-5, from Miscellaneous G™.
- Three Hellboy comics signed by Mike Mignola, from Chris.
- A green FlyTech Dragonfly, from my sister-in-law and her family. A remote-controlled ornithopter! How cool is that?
- A musical Batman card from my elder, bigger little sister.
- Filthy lucre from my parents, mother-in-law and grandparents-in-law, which I used to buy:
- 18 by Moby (CD)
- Play by Moby (CD)
- Hellboy: Sword of Storms (DVD)
- Dune: Extended Edition (DVD)
- Blade Runner: Director's Cut (DVD)
- Pan's Labyrinth (DVD)
- Last but not least, pumpkin pie from my grandparents-in-law. Yes, it's more of a fall pie. I don't care. I will eat it now and then, I will eat it anywhen!
[EDIT: I forgot a couple of things!]
- Police Squad! The Complete Series on DVD, from the Wiitalas. Police Squad! didn't succeed as a television series (a shame, because it's hilarious), but it eventually evolved into three Naked Gun movies.
- Spamalot Original Cast Recording, also from the Wiitalas. Laura and I saw Spamalot last year, and it was fantastic. My favorite song is probably "The Song That Goes Like This", but they're all good.
- The first season of Arrested Development on DVD, from my sister and her boyfriend. Despite several people telling me I should have been watching this show when it was originally on the air, I've never seen it. I'm probably directly responsible for its cancellation.
- The Omnivore's Dilemma, also from my sister and her boyfriend. I'm not sure, but I think this book has something to do with that "fourth meal" I've been hearing about at Taco Bell.
Are my friends and family not awesome? Yes. Yes they are. They made me a very happy birthday boy.
Okay, so I lied. I said that the only new show I'll be watching this fall is Heroes on NBC. That was a falsehood almost before the words were on the page, thanks to my wife setting up a Season Pass for Studio 60 on the Sunset Strip, also on NBC. Now, to add to the untruth, comes Fantastic Four: World's Greatest Heroes, an animated series produced by Moonscope, a French animation studio.
I heard about the series earlier this year, but completely forgot about it until it was mentioned on one of the many podcasts I listen to. After a bit of a false start with the Season Pass, my trusty TiVo began recording the show at 8:00 on Saturday evenings. I missed the first couple of episodes, but the two I've seen—"My Neighbor the Skrull" and "Trial By Fire"—have both been pretty good. The storyline is classic Fantastic Four, introducing both the shapeshifting Skrulls (and setting the stage for the Super Skrull) and the Kree, a race of alien conquerors. These two races are at war with one another, which should make for an interesting story, especially if the Kree send Captain Mar-vell and his awesome nega-bands to Earth.1
The visual style of Fantastic Four borrows a lot from anime, which would be okay if not for Johnny Storm's hair, which looks like it was ripped from someone in Dragonball Z, or perhaps Digimon. I can't even conceive of the amount of hair gel Johnny must use every morning, and if those sideburns were any longer they'd be a chinstrap for his wacky hair helmet. Actually, Johnny's sideburns may have been a chinstrap at some point, but if so it was surely severed by his pointy, pointy chin. (Click image to enlarge hair and chin alike.)
Tonsorial oddities aside, Fantastic Four is a fun show that looks promising. It's geared toward 6 - 12 year-olds, so it lacks the edginess of some recent superhero fare, but the story so far has a lot of potential. I do regret missing the episode entitled "Doomed", though, as I'm very interested to see how they treat the Fantastic Four's arch-nemesis, Doctor Doom. If he's done well, the series could quickly become a favorite.
- Actually, including the nega-bands would almost certainly require the writers to introduce the ubiquitous Rick Jones, who uses the bands to bring Mar-Vell out of the negative zone. [↩]
Fantastic Four Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD (2005)
Starring Horatio Hornblower, Jessica Alba, Chris Evans, Michael Chiklis, Julian McMahon, Hamish Linklater, Kerry Washington, Laurie Holden and Maria Menounos.
Directed by Tim Story.
The Fantastic Four Ultimate Collector's Edition DVD comes with a miniature reprint of Ultimate Fantastic Four #12, a $5-off coupon (expired on 31 March 2006) for the 44 Years of Fantastic Four DVD-ROM, and a round "collector's tin" containing the DVD, eight round "collector's cards" and CD-ROM containing the first twenty-three issues of the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book series in PDF. In lieu of a regular DVD clamshell case, the collector's edition also includes a cardboard stand for the collector's tin.
As gimmicks go, this one isn't so hot. That's going to look really nice sitting on the center channel speaker above my television until I inadvertently knock it off while fishing for a DVD or Laura gets tired of looking at it. Either way, the lack of a clamshell DVD case is going to make it a pain in the ass to store. Two points for initial impact, minus several dozen points for impracticality.
The round "collector's cards" just what you might expect: images from the movie or marketing material with appropriate blurbs on the back. One for each of the main characters and a couple for the movie in general. Nothing too exciting there. Of course, the only place to conveniently store the cards is in the round collector's tin.
The mini-comic looks like something Pizza Hut might have given away back in the early 1990's. I can only guess that issue number twelve of Ultimate Fantastic Four was chosen because it is the culmination of the ultimate quartet's first encounter with the ultimate version of Doctor Doom. It's not bad, but a direct movie tie-in—say an issue of the comic book adaptation of the movie—would have been a better choice.
On the other hand, I'm very pleased with the other "ultimate" material, despite the fact that it doesn't reflect the movie version of the Fantastic Four. The first twenty-three issues of Ultimate Fantastic Four (plus the first annual) more than makes up for the impracticality of the collector's tin and the disposability of the collector's cards and mini-comic, provided you're at least interested in Marvel's "Ultimate" line of comics, which I am. I'll save comparison of the Ultimate Fantastic Four and the Lee/Kirby classics for another day.
Finally, there is the DVD itself, which has a full-length feature commentary by members of the cast and several "making of" featurettes. There's also a video diary of the pre-release cast appearances, but to be honest, I can only take so much of Jessica Alba when she's not portraying someone other than Jessica Alba, so I only watched a couple of minutes before exploring the rest of the disc. There's only one DVD disc, so the ultimate collector's edition isn't exactly brimming with special features. There are a couple of music videos as well as the film's teasers and trailers.
So which feature did I most enjoy? The Spanish language audio track, of course. I'm disappointed whenever I see that the only languages available on a DVD are English and French. Why? Well, mostly because I have no desire to learn French as a second language, whereas I would very much like to learn to speak Spanish. Also, Laura speaks a little Spanish, so she can relate the occasional amusing translation tidbit. For example, after Johnny Storm performs a stunt on a dirt bike in front of an arena of screaming fans, the announcer calls the stunt "old school" in the English dialog. In Spanish, he says, "We've seen that before, Johnny."
Well, it amused us.
I've discussed the merits of Fantastic Four in a previous post, but I will say that the movie works very well on the small screen. The final battle, which seemed rather anti-climactic in the theater, played much better in my living room. Oh, and I like the Spanish version of the Thing's voice better than I do Michael Chiklis'. Sorry, Commish.
The new Fantastic Four Xbox game had two things going for it that the recently-released Incredible Hulk: Ultimate Destruction game did not:
- It has a cooperative multiplayer mode.
- Blockbuster had it in stock last night.
Miscellaneous G™ and I played for about two hours last night and it appears to be a decent game. There are some silly camera angle problems that developers (of any video game, really) should have been able to eliminate by now, and we ran into a couple of areas where characters became unexpectedly stuck or unable to move without falling to their death. Oh, and the voice acting is consistently dreadful throughout. Sometimes having the cast of the movie upon which your video game is based doing the voices for their characters isn't necessarily a good thing, I guess. Still, the execution of the various powers works well and the game is about as entertaining as most other multiplayer co-op beat-'em-ups I've played. Whether the single player game will be up to par remains to be seen.
On a mostly unrelated topic, it turns out that my wife is still a nerd. I know that there are one or two people on the planet who don't frequent the forums at KJToo.com, so I'll share her haiku triad here:
Kris has hit the mark:
His spawn is in my belly.
(Pass the ginger ale.)
What chance does it have?
With our genes, (s)he'll doubtless be
Blind, blond(e), and nerdy.
O, how life will change!
Soon, no more sleeping til noon...
And no more Xbox.
Her dire predictions of an Xbox-less existence will not come to pass. They cannot come to pass! I'm going to buy one of those mini controllers for Baby Johnson. S/he'll be playing Soul Caliber II before s/he's off the teat!