Tuesday, January 1, 2019

Aquaman (2018) Jason Momoa, Amber Heard and Patrick Wilson

For New Year's Eve, the family decided to take a trip to the movies to see Aquaman.  What a fun ride of a movie this was.

Jason Momoa is having the time of his life playing Aquaman - intially a surprise casting choise in Batman V Superman and Justice League.  While he may not look exactly like the comic book character, he has the spirit of the character down pat. 

With a touch of the bad-ass "I have a hook for a hand" version of the nineties with a pinch of the blowhard character seen in Batman Brave and The Bold, Momoa nails the character, a child of two worlds, scared of the destiny to unite them both.

There are a couple of intertwining plots - the movie starts with Aquaman foiling a pirate attack on a Russian submarine and a decision he makes causes the creation of one of his arch enemies.

The second plot involves Arthur trying to claim the throne of Atlantis, there are some gorgeous underwater scenes then a quest arounf the world to find the trident of the last great Atleanean king. 

The whole thing ends in a giant underwater battle with sharks with 'friggin' laser beams and giant seahorses and a big ass sea monster.

The search for the trident was a fun Indiana Jones/Tomb Raider/Uncharted style adventure (with a generous side of Disney's Atlantis THe Lost Empire) 

[As an aside - this movie has probably ruined the chances of a live action version of Atlantis: The Lost Empire or  The Deep, - but damn it made me wish for them]

Then the movie did the most awesome thing the quest for the trident ended in the lost sea in the hollow Earth - they went to Skartaris.  And queue the blank looks, for newbies to the worlds of DC Skartaris is the centre of the Hollow Earth created by Mike Grell (also known as the greatest writer on Green Arrow ever)  for the comic book known as Warlord. Skartaris has appeared in a couple of episodes of Jusice League Unlimited.  Could this be a set up for a Warlord movie?  Oh I hope so.

The whole movie was so much fun to watch from start to finish that everyone left with a big grin on our faces.

Thursday, December 13, 2018

The Blake Mysteries:Ghost Stories (aka New Beginnings) 2018

I am a huge fan of The Doctor Blake Mysteries which aired on the ABC from 2013 to 2017.  It starred Craig McLachlan as Dr Lucien Blake, a police surgeon in Ballarat in the 1950s.  Blake was a WWII veteran who was very good at solving mysteries.

It rated quite well but the ABC (Australian Broadcasting Commission) decided to cancel the series in 2017.  (Just as they did with Miss Fisher's Murder Mysteries - although that may have been more because Essie Davis was getting more international work Game of Thrones)

But there was good news Channel 7 was going to continue the series (as well as a Miss Fisher Spinoff Miss Fisher's MODern Mysteries featuring Phyrnne Fisher's niece).

Then Craig McLachlan got caught up in #metoo and one of his co-stars from the Rocky Horror Picture Show stage production accused him of inappropriate behaviour.  McLachlan is fighting the charges and suing for defamtion  but it put a pall over the revival of Dr Blake and he bowed out.

From what I read everyone was ready to start filming casting had happened and the decision was made to make Dr Blake's new wife and former housekeeper Jean the focus of the TV movie.

Which raises the question, could the series work without the "great detective" Dr Lucien Blake.   Could you make Monk without Tony Shaloub as Adrian Monk, Elementary without Jonny Lee Miller or The Mentalist without Simon Baker?

The Blake Mysteries does work in a way because Lucien's absence is part of the show and the characters step up and take on some of the roles that Lucien would have taken.  Lucien's old colleague Dr Alice Harvey has been appointed the new police surgeon and she now takes the lead on autopsies and forensic investigations that Lucien Blake would have taken, his wife Jean effectively becomes Lucien butting into police cases,  Jean however feels more Jessica Fletcher just happening to be on the scene of this murder rather than Lucien's Quincy MD style of investigation.

It ultimatly works and I hope we get an explantion as to what happened to Dr Lucien Blake,  if McLachlan does return it my make for an interesting new direction for the show either as rival detectives or as a Nick and Nora style couple detectives.

Thursday, November 15, 2018

The Great Vigilante reread: Vigilante Southland 2016

Here we are at the end of the road.  So after Dorian Chase's viiglante ended.  There was no more Vigilante.

The New 52 had Pat Trayce make a couple of appearances in the Deathstroke title.

But 2016 was a very good year.  DC wound back some of their New 52 changes with Rebirth and brought back some of the iconic versions of characters.

For Season 5 of Arrow it was announced that Adrian Chase and Vigilante would appear.

And DC announces that there is a new Vigilante series Vigilante Southland, which used the Vigilante logo from Adrian Chase's series.

Could it be that Adrian Chase was being ressurrected?  It seemed possible.

Instead we got a new Vigilante Donny Fairchild in a six issue miniseries written by Gary Phillips and art by Elana Casagrande.  However only the first three issues were released in floppies and the other half of the series was a trade exclusive.

It seems that poor reviews and sales killed the series but at least the entire series was released in a trade paperback.

When the series came out I pointed out some of the problems I had with the series as the continuity was a little hard to follow ie the main character shaves his head between panels.  and this reread was a much soomther experience knowing some of these things but I needed to have muddled through it the first time figure out what was going on,

In many ways the story reminded me of the Howard Chaykin Miniseries Midnight Men (for Marvel's Heavy Hitter line).  Donny Fairchild has no connection to any previous Vigilante (including the original Greg Saunders)  but there seems to be a group of vigilantes operating in LA, Donny's girlfriend Dorrie Smallwood wears a similar outfit and is killed at the start of the story.  As far as I can tell she never uses a codename like Vigilante.

Her mentor Mike Relagardo, used the indentity of the Eastsider 20 years ago before he was shot and paralysed.  I like the idea of a legacy group of heros all operating in the same area using differnt names but I'm not sure if Vigilante is be the best alter ego for this idea.

But the floppies kept me interested enough to seek out the trade.

But Gary Phillips wasn't only one reviving Vigilante in 2016.  Arrow brought Adrian Chase and The Vigilante into the series in season 5.

In a surprise move Chase wasn't The Vigilante - he was Prometheus the big bad of that season.  Arrow as a show cops a lot of crticism for not being 100% faithful in the adaptation, but I don't mind it.

In this case it meant the the reveal of Prometheus was a surprise because as comic readers we expected Chase to be Vigilante and I was going "who is Vigilante?"  (BTW there was a sweet George Perez sketch of Vigilante in at least one episode)

In season Six we discover that Dinah (Black Canary III) Drake's old police partner Vincent Sobol.

Vigilante was a fun antagonist for Team Arrow and who knows someone might cast a Donny Fairbanks, Dorian Chase, Justin Powell, Dave Winston or Alan Welles and bring back the Vigilante.

Thursday, November 8, 2018

The Great Vigilante Reread:Vigilante 2009

So our 2005 Vigilante, Justin Sutter did not set the world on fire and Marv Wolfman the creator of Adrian Chase brought in a new Vigilante - this one was a cool and mysterious foe for Nightwing in his title.

Then the new Vigilante appeared in Gotham Underground where Batman handed him his ass.

It was a little later that we fianlly got a new Vigilante series that ran for 12 issues.  The series really brought up more questions than answers  and it wasn't until issue 7 that we discovered his name was Dorian.  Issue 9 we discover that he was Adrian Chase's brother and issue 12 that we discovered his backstory.

I bitched and moaned about this series back in 2010 when I first read it and its realiance on living in the DC shared universe.  Several issues were tied in with "Faces of Evil" issued 2, Origins and Omens issue 3 (with visit from Nightwing), Titan's Deathtrap (4,5 and 6)   with reference to another miniseries (DC Universe Decides) and Batman appearing in issue 10.

I'm even more frustrated with this series now than I was then.  The idea of a hero searching for redeption to atone for his sins is an interesting one.

It seems like story lines chopped and changed as the book was written and it felt like a heap of filler and tie-ins to get to an end result.

And questions - JJ is alive? How did that happen?  but he died in issue 10 of the 1980s series he was definately dead.  I know DC likes to rewrite their universes history but this was jarring.

Adrian has a younger brother?  One that was never mentioned before even when Adrian confronted his father about being a disappointment because he became a DA instead of joining the family law firm?

(i should mention this is not the first mysterious Chase relative to turn up the TItans had Danny Chase a psychic and son of spies who made reference to his uncle Adrian)

Perhaps if the story had the chance to find its feet free of the confines of the DCU proper it would have been better.

Dorian hasn't been seen since but he is still alive.  Who know he could get another shot but I wouldn't be holding my breath on this.

Wednesday, October 24, 2018

THe Great Vigilantre Reread - Viglante 2005

After finishing the 50 issues of the 1980's Vigilante I decided hey there's not that much more Vigilante stuff so why not just go the whole hog - dividing it up an entry or so for each new person behind the Vigilante's mask (with a couple of exceptions)

But first the Punisher/Vigilante near connection.  IN Vigilante #39 (Mar 87) The VIgilante is driving around in an Ace Plumbing van.  I say that seems familiar and grab out Punisher Essentials Vol 1 and in the story Death Sentence from Marvel Preview #2 (THe Punisher's first solo story) he is driving around in an Ace TV repairs van.  So a little disappointing that it wasn't the same company.

So when we left Vigilante, all three bearers of the Vigilante name are dead and the supporting cast moved over to Checkmate.

Marv Wolfman was getting another Teen TItans spinoff off the ground Deathstroke the Terminator.  In issue 9, we are introduced to Patricia Trayce, a Gotham city cop who found Chase's Equipment.  Trayce became Vigilante and a supporting character in Deathstroke, then appearing in the all new Hawk and Dove miniseries and then a few random appearances arround the DCU.  (She also appeared in  a couple of issues in the Nu52 Deathstroke Title)  But she never got her own series.

Also for a very short run in Deathstroke, Slade's wife Ademine briefly donned the costume.)

Then in 2005 it was announced that Micah Ian Wright was going to write a new Vigilante under the Wildstorm Banner with Carlos D'Anda on art,  We got this piece of promo art.

Then Wright got outed as lying about his military service and the whole thing was called off and a new 6 issue miniseries appeared The Vigilante by Bruce Jones (writer) and Ben Oliver (art).

This was a completely different story that what we had been teased from Wright and D'Anda.

The series sets up a mystery with Vigilante killing criminals who escaped the law and three suspects as to who might be behind the mask.  The story was set in Metropolis but Superman doesn't appear even when the Mayor is murdered.

And colour me surprised the Daily Planet has more employees than Perry, Clark, Lois and Jimmy who knew.

The twist as to who The Vigilante is surprising,  I did a review on the old blog which pointed out that the origin of this Vigilante missed an opportunity to reference Adrian Chase.

THis Vigilante appeared in Infinite Crisis #7 in a crowd scene and never again.

Sunday, October 21, 2018

Charmed (2018)

Really, has it been 20 years since Charmed first aired? I quite enjoyed the show as a kind of companion seres to Buffy The Vampire Slayer. (Sadly they never officially crossed over with each over with each other or with Angel)

The basic premise was the Halliwell sisters Prue, Piper and Phobe (later joined by half sister Paige after Prue's death) were the Charmed ones prophecised by their ancestor witch Melinda Warren as she was executed (burnt at the stake if memory serves)

The original ran for eight seasons.  Look I'd never call it a high point of Television but I found the show to perfectly enjoyble. It was a fun supernatural series with a trio of sisters.  One could make a case for it helping pave the way for Supernatural.

There was some snobbery, Buffy fans seemed to make a point of declaring it the inferior show.  I recall one online debate about how Charmed merely copied everything Buffy did (and Buffy did much better) that Charmed had done the "Wake up in an asylum, and everything in the series is just a crazy person's fantasy" episode before Buffy.  The reply "that's just a genre trope and doesn't count."

I'm usually on board for a reboot/retool/revamp/refresh/continuation for things I've enjoyed in the past.  So I was curious when I read rumours that Charmed was going to be rebooted.

The idea was to do a prequel Charmed series set inthe 70s where the mother and grandmother of the Halliwell sisters of the original series had adventures.  Not a bad idea but not the greatest (You could pull an American Horror Story make it Charmed:The Warren Witches and each season is a different branch of the family.  There was a Prose anthology that had a similar notion except every, single, solitary story had the Halliwell sisters time travel.)

That was scrapped in favour of a  modern day fierce, funny and feminist reboot of the series that wasn't a continuation of the original.  So there were no plans to include the original sisters/actresses.

I recall that there was some ill will between the original cast and the producers of this one as Alyssa Milano called out how feminist they were not rehiring the originals only 12 years later.  What I heard didn't fill me with hope.

But I went in with a mostly open mind.

One thing that annoyed me was there was no opening credits song,  The original had "How Soon is Now" by Love Split Love (a cover of the Smiths original and also used in the movie The Craft a couple of years earlier.)  

This one some music box noise for like 2 seconds while the Charmed logo appeared on the screen.  But this was the pilot and the second may change this - look I'm not saying they have to use "How Soon is Now"but a proper theme song wouldn't hurt.

The characters - oh boy this show is WOKE! We are politically aware and not afraid to tell everyone that cis white males are the font of all evil and Trump's Presidency is the first sign of the apocalypse.  The middle sister Mel, is an angry, lesbian feminist.  FIght the Patriachy sister.

The youngest sister Maggie is the "normal" one at college wanting to join a soirority and go to parties.

Imagine 10 Things About You where it is dialed up to 12 and to be treated oh so serious and not played for laughs.  The original Charmed had a element of 90s "Gitl Power" but this one had me nearly ready to walk away.

This pair is joined by an older sister Macy who was raised seperately to the other girls.  Macy is scientific and it actually makes for one of the better parts of this episode, where the girls are looking at some demon residue and trying to find a spell/potion to defeat the demon in the Book of Shadows, she is analysing it scientifically and comes up with a solution in a minute or two.

We also meet their white lighter Harry, who seems to have been a classmate of Wesley Wyndam Price from Buffy and Angel without the goofy charm.  However we receive some information about him that might change everything.

There where things in the pilot annoyed me, look by being so uber-anti-male feminist. "This demon always fed on strong women." "people always called strong women witches."  you risk turning people off - a large chunk of your audience should be male.  I'm not going to lie part of the appeal of the original series was watching three attractive women fight the supernatural that brings in a male audience.
(in discussing this with a friend he asked which cast did I find hotter?  I said the original because I'm not a dirty old man.)

Trump is a sign of the apocalypse again you are annoying a chunk of your audience.  Have opinions have polictical opinions I don't care but if I feel like I'm being lectured by the show I'm going to switch off.

However, they did enough to keep me around for the next episode or two.  Firstly, they made these sisters also descendants of Melinda Warren which gives a nice connection to the original.  I also spent half the episode trying to figure out if it was the same house as the original show.

I quite like Macy, her scientific background brings in a perspective to magic that this show didn't have before.  I think there is more to her story and want to know why her mother abandoned her.  This wasn't really addressed in the pilot,  (it also robs the show of playing the long lost sibling card that the original had when Shannon Dougherty was fired and Prue killed off in the show).

I'm curious to see where the twist at the end of the episode goes.

Charmed 2018, I want to like you.  I'm willing to give you some latitude to find your feet my fondness for the original series only stretches so far.  Look I'm not asking for a clone of the original, but entertain me don't lecture me.

Saturday, October 20, 2018

In Like Flynn (2018)

In Like Flynn Trailer

So the add a video function is being tempermental and not letting me embed the trailer for the new movie In Like Flynn.  I saw the trailer and I was so on board for this movie.  Thomas Cocqueral certainly looks the part as Errol Flynn.

However what if I was to tell you it was based on Errol Flynn's own travelouge Beam's End ?
(which hopefully means the book comes back in print because prices are crazy high)

But wait there's more Errol's grandson Luke Flynn is co-writer and producer?

Not enough for you? The director is Russell Mulcahy, of Razorback, Highlander, The Shadow and several episodes of the Teen Wolf TV series.

I really enjoyed this movie, the opening sequence in New Guinea brought to mind the opening sequence in Raiders of the Lost Ark which is high praise from me.

Most of the movie is a fun pulp ride, i really really enjoyed what I have taken to calling the Razor dance as Flynn fights off several straight razor weilding gang members whilst charming the pants off the gangster's moll.

Flynn is irresistable to women and it gets him into trouble more than once.

But there is also a heart to this movie as Flynn acquires a yacht The Sirocco (the first of two boats with that name that he owned)  and brings in two of his mates Rex and Dook. There is a history between the three men and their friendship is the backbone of this movie.

The trio are joined by Charlie the sailor and owner of the ship.  who joins them on the trip to New Guinea.    I grew quite fond of the old salt who was at his beams end and knew that this would be his last voyage as he was mourning the death of his wife and daughter.  (The end credits replayed one of Charlie's sea shantys which brought a certain sadness to the whole affair.)  The quartet have an easy comraderie which can turn from playfulness to arguements in the blink of an eye yet all four are ready to jump in a help each other when they are in trouble.

If you get a chance check out this movie.