Wednesday, January 26, 2011

'ThunderCats' Out of the Bag

“ThunderCats, transform and roll out!”

Wait, let me try that again.

“And balls of string are half the battle!”

No, that’s not it either.

“By the power of Thundera, I have the hooooooo!”

Close enough.

The blogosphere is going bananas this week over Warner Bros. Animation’s forthcoming ThunderCats animated series, the latest in a long line of 1980s franchise resurrections that will, of course, be accompanied by an extensive line of action figures. You can check out a first (albeit blurry) look at the Bandai toy line on display at the London Toy Fair by visiting ThunderCats Lair.

Further fueling the fervor over the fighting felines of Third Earth (alliteration!), Japanese animators Studio4°C have released this official look at the characters in this series. Pictured are Tygra, Cheetara, Panthro and Lion-O, who is brandishing the Sword of Omens.

Like most animated series these days, the new ThunderCats has a very anime look to it, and I have absolutely no problem with that. It’s reminiscent of the short-lived 2002 Masters of the Universe relaunch, which brought us some pretty cool toys and an underrated animated series. Let’s hope this new version of ThunderCats doesn’t cough up a hairball on our childhoods when it debuts on Cartoon Network later this year.

Wonder Woman Returning to TV?

Alright, alright. The big nerd news this week is clearly the death of a member of Marvel’s first family in Fantastic Four #587—an issue that will surely disappoint overzealous comic book speculators for years to come—but I’m frankly more shocked by the fact that that Wonder Woman could be making her long-awaited return to television, according to TVLine’s Michael Ausiello.

Reportedly, McG (Charlie’s Angels, Terminator: Salvation) is being lassoed to direct a Wonder Woman pilot for NBC. Now, it’s pretty commonplace to bash McG, both for his ridiculous name and his style-over-substance directorial style, but I can’t knock him for executive producing some intriguing genre TV series, namely Chuck, Human Target and Nikita. Maybe he’s the ideal person to finally bring Diana back to the small screen. If he isn’t, at least us geeks will have something new to snark about. We love our snark.

The big question is, if this supposed pilot does materialize and become a series, who will don the star-spangled spandex and bullet-deflecting bracelets? Lynda Carter’s a tough act to follow.

For the full story, click here.

Monday, January 24, 2011

New 'Spider-Man' Set Photo Reveals Mask, Web-Shooters

Sony recently unveiled a first look at Andrew Garfield in Spider-Man garb for the forthcoming reboot of the popular superhero franchise, but the unmasked photo that circulated online earlier this month raised more questions than answers. What will Spidey’s mask look like? Are those things on his wrists mechanical web-shooters?

Well, MTV’s Splash Page posted a nice, clear shot of the Wallcrawler in action, and here it is (click to enlarge):
Now, keep in mind this is likely a version of the costume used for stunts and wide shots, so the redness of the eye lenses and the bizarre metallic sneakers he seems to be wearing aren’t necessarily representative of what we’ll be seeing in Marc Webb’s 2012 film. That said, check out Spidey’s wrist. It looks like Sam Raimi’s controversial organic web-shooters are a thing of the past.

I reacted pretty favorably to the official image of Garfield in the suit, but this photo raises some major issues regarding the suit’s color scheme, particularly the stripe down the leg and the bizarre pattern on the gloves. This suit looks too Spider-Man 2099 for my taste. But what do you think?

Saturday, January 22, 2011

Liam Neeson Returns as Qui-Gon Jinn in 'Star Wars: The Clone Wars'

If you’re a Star Wars geek and you haven’t been watching Star Wars: The Clone Wars, well, you should probably get on that. The second and third seasons of this groundbreaking computer-animated series have introduced some of the best Star Wars stories ever told. That’s right, ever.

Entertainment Weekly revealed earlier this week that Liam Neeson will be reprising the role of rebellious Jedi Master Qui-Gon Jinn on an episode of The Clone Wars airing on Jan. 28—the first installment of a three-part story arc. Neeson will voice Qui-Gon again on the Feb. 11 episode of the Cartoon Network series.

Of course, Qui-Gon is dead at this point in Star Wars chronology, so he presents himself to his former Padawan Obi-wan Kenobi as a Force ghost. Seasoned Star Wars nerd that I am, this strikes me as odd for two reasons:
  1. I was always under the impression that Neeson wasn’t all that crazy about Star Wars—or its creator George Lucas—after his experience starring in The Phantom Menace. I thought this was why the planned post-mortem appearance of Qui-Gon was cut from Revenge of the Sith.
  2. Obi-Wan seemed genuinely surprised at the end of Revenge of the Sith when he learned that Yoda had learned how to communicate with Qui-Gon through the Force. I know the folks at Lucasfilm are making things up as they go at this point, but this seems like a fairly flippant disregard for continuity—but then again, so were the prequels.
Gripes aside, this should be cool, and I have faith that this series’ supervising director Dave Filoni has figured out a logical way to bring back Qui-Gon without completely contradicting the films. Head over to EW.com to watch a preview.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Selina Kyle and Bane Confirmed for 'The Dark Knight Rises'

Warner Bros. announced today that Anne Hathaway has been cast as Selina Kyle in Christopher Nolan’s third Batman film, The Dark Knight Rises. The studio press release—which you can read in full at Deadline.com—does not specify whether or not Selina becomes her sultry alter ego Catwoman in the anticipated Dark Knight sequel, but let’s all hope she slips into some skintight leather at some point in the film. Hey, geeks can dream.

The studio also announced that Tom Hardy (Nolan’s Inception) has been cast as Bane, the hulking behemoth who broke Batman/Bruce Wayne’s back in the 1993-94 Knightfall storyline. In that arc, Bane—a steroid-fueled criminal genius—freed all of the most dangerous inmates at Arkham Asylum, forcing Batman to go up against all of his most diabolical foes simultaneously. After taking Batman to his limit, Bane tracked the Caped Crusader to Wayne Manor, beat him within an inch of his life and broke his back over his knee. As a result, a wheelchair-bound Bruce was forced to hang up the cape and cowl for an extended period of time.

“I am delighted to be working with Tom again and excited to watch him bring to life our new interpretation of one of Batman’s most formidable enemies,” Nolan said in a statement.

Nolan’s made interesting choices in casting Hathaway and Hardy, and as was the case in casting Heath Ledger as the Joker in The Dark Knight, these decisions will almost certainly pay off.

The Dark Knight Rises
hits theaters on July 20, 2012.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

Unauthorized 'X-Men: First Class' Artwork Causes a Stir

I couldn’t possibly be less excited about Fox’s forthcoming X-Men: First Class—a prequel to Bryan Singer’s original X-Men film—but there was a lot of buzz earlier today about this supposedly “leaked” promotional art that’s been making the rounds on the web. In it, we get our first official look at Michael Fassbender as Magneto, James McAvoy as Professor X, January Jones as Emma Frost and the rest of the cast in full costume and makeup…or so it would seem.

Evidently, as reported by MTV’s Splash Page, Fox has confirmed that this questionably Photoshopped graphic is not an authorized piece of art for the film. So we can all quit whining about how “meh” this movie looks…for now.

Monday, January 17, 2011

'Here's a Headline!'

The latest Saturday Night Live featured what might be one of the best Digital Shorts I’ve ever seen. It stars Andy Samberg, and it’s called “Andy and Pee-Wee’s Night Out.” If I told you anything else, I’d be spoiling the surprises. Enjoy!

Emma Stone Alludes to Mechanical Web-Shooters in 'Spider-Man' Reboot

Just days after the first image of Andrew Garfield suited up as Spider-Man emerged on the web, MTV News caught up with Gwen Stacy herself, Emma Stone, to find out whether Peter Parker’s web-shooters will be mechanical in the new film—as they were in the original comic books—or organic, as was the case in Sam Raimi’s trilogy.

“It’s a device,” the actress told MTV on the Golden Globe Awards red carpet. Although this should not be considered an official confirmation, it seems as though Peter will indeed create his web-shooters and webbing in this iteration of the franchise.

I was never opposed to the idea of Raimi’s organic web-shooters, because it’s not entirely plausible that a high-schooler—teen genius or no—would be able to invent them himself. Then again, the idea of Spidey spraying sticky bodily fluid all over Manhattan is pretty gross if you think about it.

To watch MTV’s red carpet interview, click here.

Saturday, January 15, 2011

Ridley Scott's 'Alien' Prequel Dead

Remember how Alien director Ridley Scott was poised to resurrect the ailing sci-fi/horror franchise for Fox with a prequel film? Well, as Private Hudson might say, “Game over, man! Game over!”

According to The Hollywood Reporter’s Heat Vision blog, the canceled Alien project—which would have taken place long before the 1979 original film—has been reconfigured into an original film called Prometheus. The new film is slated for a March 9, 2012 release date.

“While Alien was indeed the jumping off point for this project, out of the creative process evolved a new, grand mythology and universe in which this original story takes place,” Scott said in a statement. “The keen fan will recognize strands of Alien’s DNA, so to speak, but the ideas tackled in this film are unique, large and provocative. I couldn’t be more pleased to have found the singular tale I’d been searching for, and finally return to this genre that’s so close to my heart.”

Sounds intriguing, but it’s odd move for Fox to cast aside such a lucrative property in favor of a wholly new one. Then again, perhaps Fox is looking for its next Avatar, which was helmed by Scott’s fellow Alien franchise veteran James Cameron. There’s no word whether this film will also be in 3D.

Click here for the full story.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

Spider-Man Looks Like Spider-Man!

Marvel has unveiled our first look at Andrew Garfield suited up as Spider-Man for Marc Webb’s as-yet-unnamed 3D reboot of the superhero franchise, set to hit theaters in 2012.
You know what? I have no problem with the new suit. The textured design is pretty faithful to the traditional look of the character, and it actually resembles something a high school-aged Peter Parker might put together in his spare time. Here’s hoping Spidey’s mask measures up as well.

Wednesday, January 12, 2011

James Turns 27

Yes, as many of you might already know, I celebrated my 27th birthday today. The fact that I’m fast approaching 30 is bewildering to me, as I’ve yet to shake my boyish affection for comic books, action figures, video games and various other pursuits deemed childish by the more “sophisticated” among us.

Furthermore, since the anniversary of my birth coincided with a snowstorm this year, I’ve been bombarded with the phrase “plowing difficulties” all day on the news and yet am somehow expected not to laugh. Because, you know, I’m 27. An adult. Mature.

But shouldn’t 27 be the year I finally act my age? Well, as C.S. Lewis once said, “When I became a man, I put aside all childish things, including the fear of childishness and the desire to be very grown up.”

So one could say my “plow”-related giggling is a sign of exceptional maturity. So suck it, universe.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

Warner Bros. to Distribute and Fund 'The Hobbit'

Tolkienites rejoice! Deadline.com is reporting that production on The Hobbit can officially move forward unfettered, as Warner Bros. has agreed to distribute both films and cover their combined $500 million price tag.

To make a long and convoluted story short, cash-strapped MGM Studios owns the rights to the property but lack the funds to bring it to the movie-going masses. As a result of this new deal, MGM will retain worldwide television rights to the films, while Warner Bros. will reap the benefits of their global box-office take as well as home video sales.

The two-film Lord of the Rings prequel, helmed by returning franchise director Peter Jackson, begins shooting next month. Rumored to return to Middle-earth are Lord of the Rings alumni Cate Blanchett, Sir Ian McKellan, Orlando Bloom and Elijah Wood.

For the full story, click here.

'Star Wars' Blasts onto Blu-Ray in September

At this year’s Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, Lucasfilm and Twentieth Century Fox Home Entertainment announced that Star Wars: The Complete Saga on Blu-ray—the highly anticipated high-definition release of all six films—will hit store shelves this September. The seminal space opera is now available for pre-order with online retailers, including Amazon.com.

Because Star Wars fans are a finicky lot, three distinct sets will be released. The premier collection is The Complete Saga, a nine-disc set that includes all of the films and more than 30 hours of special features that delve into the Lucasfilm archives and unearth never-before-seen alternate footage and deleted scenes. This set will retail for $139.99

This nine-disc collection is clearly the definitive Star Wars package (for now), but for all of you scruffy-looking nerf herders out there who scoff at the price tag, two three disc sets of each trilogy will also be available, which baffles me. I can understand purists just wanting the original trilogy, but does Lucasfilm honestly think Star Wars fans are going to buy the prequels by themselves? Really? There’s going to be enough prequel product lining store shelves this fall to choke a space slug.

In any event, the three-disc sets will run you $69.99 each. Oh, and those purists I mentioned earlier should probably note that the unaltered versions of the classic films will not be included in this release. Greedo’s trigger finger remains itchy (but his aim’s not so good).

To watch a video preview of the Star Wars films on Blu-ray, click here.

Tuesday, January 4, 2011

The House of Ideas Has a New Editor-in-Chief

Marvel Entertainment announced today that longtime editor Axel Alonso has been promoted to the position of editor-in-chief, while Joe Quesada—who had held the position for more than 10 years—has become the new chief creative officer for the company.

Alonso’s previous work as an editor at Marvel has included overseeing J. Michael Straczynksi’s Amazing Spider-Man run and X-Men crossovers such as Messiah CompleX and the recent Curse of the Mutants.

“It’s with tremendous pride that I announce Axel Alonso’s promotion to editor-in-chief,” Quesada said in a statement. “For over a decade, Axel’s been instrumental in bringing fresh new voices to Marvel and reinventing our biggest characters like Spider-Man, the X-Men, Wolverine and so many more. He’s fought to create unique imprints like Marvel MAX while also bringing fresh new voices to the Marvel family.”

In his new role, Quesada will oversee Marvel projects in film, television, digital and more. Alonso, meanwhile, will oversee day-to-day publishing operations.

“Time and time again, Axel has proven that he is one of the very best story editors in the history of our medium and one of the finest people I know,” Quesada continued. “And, like everyone here at Marvel, he has one single focus, bringing you the best stories with the best characters in all of comicdom. That’s why I have no doubt that Axel will bring Marvel Comics to greater heights than it’s ever known!"

To read the official announcement, visit Marvel.com

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Red Letter Media Roasts 'Revenge of the Sith'

Red Letter Media’s Harry Plinkett has posted the highly anticipated final installment in his popular trilogy of Star Wars prequel reviews, this time skewering Episode III: Revenge of the Sith.

Episode III isn’t art,” Plinkett says in his comprehensive three-part analysis of the film. “It’s commercial diarrhea.”

While it’s fairly easy to pick apart the storytelling flaws running rampant throughout the prequel trilogy, Plinkett’s review—as humorous as it is—takes a serious film workshop approach in breaking down what doesn’t work about Sith, namely George Lucas’ dull shot/countershot coverage of dialogue scenes and the prequels’ inability to connect with the audience.

“Really, at its core, Star Wars was about the people—a vast array of characters, situations and relationships,” Plinkett explains, comparing the prequels to the original trilogy. “And most importantly, we liked those people. I don’t like any of these people [in the prequels]. And in the end, all of the computers in the world can’t generate the most basic thing that a movie needs: an emotional connection with the audience.”

Watch the first part of Plinkett’s review below.