So this is a bit belated, but I still thought that it was worth mentioning because it is rather awesome.
Earlier this year Gallery 1988 in LA put on an entire show dedicated to the father of many of our favorite comic book characters, Stan Lee. The video below (6:53) is really cool and some of the art is radical.
Empire Online released new images from the upcoming film adaptation to Alan Moore's, The Watchmen.... and I'm concerned.
Here's the problem I foresee; The Watchmen is a story about aged superheroes donning their spandex costumes again after a long hiatus. Part of the charm of The Watchmen, not unlike Frank Miller's The Dark Knight Returns or even Pixar's The Incredibles, are the trials and tribulations that middle aged superheroes face when taking to the streets to fight crime again.
What I'm seeing in these images are young, fit, and thin superheroes. How are they going to convey the fact that Dan Dreiberg (Nite Owl) is a huge nerd with a confidence problem when they have him played by a strapping youth with a chiseled jaw and washboard abdominal muscles? The only person that has any right to be in that kind of shape is Rorschach. In any case, the casting and creative direction concerns me.
I will say that the Comedian looks perfectly done and Doctor Manhatten is stunning. And the trailer is really just f'ing amazing, one of the most exciting that I've seen. So I guess I'll just hold on to the hope that editing and the director's vision will make these characters work better on screen than they do in these new pics.
As part of our revampification, we thought that we'd experiment with an RSS feed. Let us know what you think about it. Just click here, and then click on the right hand side to subscribe in your mail, or whatever you might like to do.
Now that everyone has had their say about the Dark Knight, it's time that the Action Direct duo steps in to set the record straight. If you haven't seen the movie yet, then be warned that we speak freely about all aspects of the movie and you might want to consider waiting. But really, if you haven't seen it yet, then you're probably in the wrong place to begin with.
Chris: What can I say about the Dark Knight that hasn't already been said? It is hands down the best damned Batman movie out there and it seems that few would argue differently. From it's opening Bank Robbery sequence through the high tech Hong Kong kidnapping to the amazing execution of the Two Face origin story, this movie delivered on all fronts. Don't you just love it when all of your friends and the media and Jesus build up a movie like crazy and then it still surprises you with how awesome it was? That was my Dark Knight experience. Alright, here are a few of the specific highlights in my book:
I suspected Heath Ledger was going to be an excellent Joker, but worried that he would pale in comparison to Jack Nicholson's portrayal in the original Tim Burton version of Batman (1989). However all of these fears were quickly put to bed upon The Joker's magic disappearing pencil trick. From then on, I knew we were all in for an extraordinary performance. Convincing would be the word I would use to describe his performance. Utterly convincing. There were times that I had to stop and remind myself that this was indeed an actor (RIP) and not an actual psychotic agent of chaos on the screen before me.
And what about Eckart as Harvey Dent/Two Face? I found myself rooting for Dent in spite of the knowledge that he would shortly be transformed into Batman's double sided enemy. Seriously, I liked him as Dent. I wanted him to make it. Any thoughts Casey?
Casey: Let me first start off by saying that I was also pleased as punch with the most recent Batman installment. I had the fortunate experience of watching it at the Seattle Center IMAX, an experience that will likely not be rivaled until my first born enters the world, and possibly never. It was great. Really just great.
Okay, best things about the movie: the Joker was, as Chris puts it, utterly convincing and, as it turns out, well researched. My girlfriend was telling me that the thing that the Joker did with his tongue (f the old Barty Crouch, Jr flick) is actually a common permanent side effect of anti-psychotic drugs which are used in the treatment of schizophrenics and psychotics. Holy shit! Was the Joker admitted for schizophrenia at some point in his life? Are the other mentally ill lackeys that he hires former inmates of his psychiatric treatment center? The possibilities are endless. This tiny detail offers just the littlest bit of insight into the origins of a character that is clearly one of the best villains in a comic book movie to ever grace the silver screen (sorry Jack). Amazing.
As far as Harvey Dent/Two Face is concerned, I know exactly what you mean Chris. I've read a couple of different reviews claiming that Eckart was the soul of the movie. While I don't totally agree with this, I have to admit that he was fucking good. Even knowing the whole history of Two Face, I really did want to believe in Dent. And the truth is, he had me so thoroughly convinced that I didn't really believe it when he started to kill people. I was like, "Harvey, no!" And what a twist to have Gordon and Batman make a martyr of him, rather than soil the name of Gotham's White Knight.
One more thing. How awesome were the throw-backs to the original movie? Like the North Korean cargo plane with the all too familiar Batwing scissors on the nose cone? And how about the Batman/Joker last fight in an abandoned building lit only by the floodlights of hovering police helicopters? I was just so happy with how true this film stayed to the original, and yet went as far as it did in the exact right direction.
Was there anything that you didn't like about this movie Chris?
Chris:I was upset at first that they killed off Two Face at the end, but after a bit of thought, I realize that they could easily manipulate that into a false death situation. I say this because 1. They never actually said outright he was dead, they just said that Gotham couldn't find out about his 'condition', and 2. Faking his death and locking him up in Arkham Asylum would be a great solution to the publicity problem Harvey's psychosis would present (possible sequel material? Anyone?).
I suppose that was the only thing that didn't really sit right with me, but the more I focus on the subject, the more I realize it was just an all out badass film. I am incredibly upset that we will not see Ledger reprise his role as the Joker in later films, but that is a given. I will also say that I was happy to see Rachel Dawes bite the bullet. If there is one thing I hate, it's a lead female character who is constantly trying to convince the protagonist to hang up his guns with a promise of a calm, regular life. We saw it happen to Christopher Reeves in Superman 2, and we saw it happen to Tobey Maguire in Spiderman 3. The only difference is that Mary Jane and Lois Lane didn't get turned into burnt toast half way through the movie.
Casey: Yeah, that's my main complaint as well. I feel robbed of a Two Face centered Batman epic. If they don't bring him back, I'll be pissed. I mean, what kind of a chump villain dies after falling 25 feet onto soft dirt? That's bullshit! But, you're right. It isn't definitive. They just better make the right choice in the next cash cow.
I think that I also could have done without Alfred's jewel thief story. Don't get me wrong, I liked the story. But I didn't necessarily like hearing it from Alfred. It seemed a little forced, and given what little we know about Alfred, it just doesn't make that much sense.
I've read that people's main complaint with the movie was its length. But to me, the length was a pro. It's like when you're watching The Return of the King extended edition, and the whole time you're thinking to yourself, "Why the hell did they cut this out?" Well, Chris Nolan had the guts to leave it all in there, which really did give it the graphic novel feel that it deserves. Episodic with multiple plots that ultimately wrap up, leaving a few loose ends for the next volume.
And yes, I'll agree that Rachel Dawes' death was both essential and satisfying (although I must say that Gyllenhaal was a vast improvement over Holmes).
Overall: A very enthusiastic two thumbs up from Action Direct! What's your opinion?
I warned him several times about that damned Jar-Jar character, but George just wouldn't listen. Now we've got an epic trilogy tarnished with the addition of a CGI laden crap cake of a prequel. What else could I do but freeze the bastard in carbonite?
Seriously though, I have got to go to comic con next year. Even without this awesome sculpture, this year's comic con looked amazing. Watchmen, Lost, Wolverine vs. Hulk, Robocop, how can you go wrong? Take a look at /film for a very thorough coverage of this year's comic con including reviews, previews and great photos of the Owl Ship from the upcoming film, The Watchmen.
First Showing reported today that the Isaac Asimov Foundation Series is on the chopping block. That is to say, producers Bob Shaye and Michael Lynne (the guys who brought us the Lord of the Rings series) have stepped up to the plate to bring these classic sci-fi novels to the big screen.
Now, I'm not a huge Asimov fan. But I'm guessing that I would be if I had read any of his stuff. However, I know there are a few dedicated Action Direct fans who claim intimate relationships with him and this series specifically. This entry is all about getting your feedback. Is this a horrible, bad, no good idea?
Alright, I'm going to completely undermine my credibility here and say that I loved Top Gun. I even named it as one of my top ten all time favorite 80's action movies in a recent email chat with Keanu Banderas and some of our devoted Action Direct readers. That's right, I like it that much.
So you can imagine how pained I was to hear that the script for Top Gun 2 is already completed and crazy Tom is on deck to be the star. According to cinematical, the plot is supposed to go something like this:
"The idea is Maverick is at the Top Gun school as an instructor - and this time it is he who has to deal with a cocky new female pilot."
I'm totally speechless. It's like they didn't even try to make it good. As a matter of fact, its like they tried to make it crap. More likely than not they'll pair Cruise with some no name floozy with negligible talent. You know, someone who won't steal Cruise's thunder or make him wig out on set.
This is what the good folks over at the Movie Blog posed as an alternate plot:
"In this film Maverick teaches his students how to prepare in the event of a UFO invasion against the forces of XENU!! He is a special operative with a dark past, a dirty secret. Eventually one of the students finds out that Mav is an alien abduction survivor and now spends his time preparing for revenge."
This would be a VAST improvement over that other fecal matter. Cruise from War of the Worlds teaching Top Gun flight school sounds much more entertaining than Cruise trying to be Tom Skerritt in a second Top Gun.
The big wigs up in Tinseltown finally figured out the key to making great movies- quit filling them with worthless crap. Who knew? As a result, we're getting an awesome string of movies this summer and a few more in the pipe to enjoy down the line. One such movie touches on a dynasty very near and dear to our hearts here at Action Direct, the most awesome Terminator series. That's right, I'm talking about Terminator Salvation. I don't know how this one slipped under the radar but I just recently saw the trailer before The Dark Knight (go see it) and I must say, the future belongs to us. None other than Badass Hall of Famer Christian Bale will be playing John Connor and it looks like the supporting cast aint half bad either. To wet your appetites, I present to you this teaser trailer. Enjoy.
I know that sometimes we here at Action Direct focus on what some might argue are "bad" action movies. While I tend to disagree, I understand that some of our subject matter feautres not only strong fight scenes and blatant disregard for political correctness, but also a lack of irony with which the protagonists treat the delivery and content of one-liners such as "Strike three, you're out!" and "Let off some steam!" We contend that the latter actually augments badassery in an 80's and 90's action movie.
But never fear. We also appreciate those action movies which do not operate under the premise that the star is impervious to most kinds of bullets. And today, we review one of these.
The Professional (1994) will go down as one of the best assassin movies, if not action movies, in history. I was just having a conversation with someone last night about how formulaic assassin movies are, this after having watched the preview for Hitman (which I heard had decent action). The story usually goes something like this:
Brick Steele was the best assassin money could buy. But when his own son comes between the crosshairs, Steele has a change of heart. Now the establishment is forced to take out the very man that it trained to be the ultimate assassin....*
And so on. I'm not saying that this is a bad plot. In fact, a number of pretty good action flicks rely on some incarnation of this theme. It worked in Assassins. And to a certain degree, the Bourne movies are just a variation of this plot line. But The Professional has none of this. In fact, it is something entirely different.
The Professional (also known as Leon), directed by frenchie Luc Besson, is the story of Leon (Jean Reno) the cleaner and his companion/apprentice Mathilda (Natalie Portman). Mathilda is orphaned after her screw-up father messes with the wrong guy, a crooked cop with a healthy addiction to crazy pills played by Gary Oldman, and gets himself and the rest of his family killed. This includes Mathilda's mothers, sister, and brother. Now, it doesn't matter so much to Mathil that her parents and sister were shot down in cold blood, but it really pisses her off that her little brother got it as well. Leon takes in Mathilda and decides to train her in the art of cleaning so that she might one day exact revenge on her brother's killers.
During the process of the training, Mathilda takes a liking to Leon. And I don't mean in that father/daughter kind of way. Oh, did I mention that Mathilda is 12 years old? Needless to say, I get a little uncomfortable watching some of the scenes in this movie. Partially because its a little weird, and partially because Natalie Portman as a twelve-year old is still kind of hot.... too far?
In any case, the movie culminates in a solid shoot out scene between most of the New York Police Department and Leon that I'm sure influenced the Wachowski brothers as they put together that epic sequence in The Matrix (you know the one).
The Professional is an action movie. It is a love story. And it is fucking badass. Chalked full of awesome dialogue (i.e. Leon explaining to Mathilda that the knife is the last weapon the cleaner learns to use because it is the most intimate) and just awesome training sequences (my favorite being when Mathilda uses a paintball sniper rifle to shoot a Bill Clinton-esque president figure as he jogs through Central Park), I have to say that this movie is in my top ten all time favorite action movies.
For those of you who have not yet seen Iron Man, shame on you. However, at the Alamo drafthouse theater down the street from me, they recognize the fact that some need a bit of motivation. So watch this and maybe you'll get so pumped your head will explode and you'll realize what a douche bag you've been for putting off seeing this movie....