Friday, December 30, 2005

The Best Comics to Movie Adaptation Ever

Frank Miller's Sin City is the best comics to movie adaptation ever.

Sure, arguments can be made for Superman [the first with Christopher Reeve and directed by Richard Donner], the original Crow movie [with Brandon Lee] and even this year's Batman Begins. But for my money, Sin City is the cream of the crop as far as getting to the screen what was on the comic page.

That may change next year when Warner Brother's releases 300. Interestingly enough, 300, like Sin City is based on a graphic novel by Frank Miller. What's also interesting is that Zack Snyder, 300's director, will make extensive use of the same "green screen" techniques employed by Robert Rodriguez and Frank Miller when they brought Sin City to life for the big screen.

Zack Snyder really impressed me with his work on the Dawn of the Dead remake. Not only did he have the stones to take on the job of updating Romero's cult classic, but he succeeded!

Check out the official 300 web site and you'll see that Snyder is a huge fan of Frank Miller's work. I believe that Snyder will bring the same sense of respect and ability to 300 that he brought to Dawn of the Dead. And if that's the case, we'll not only get a great movie experience but also possibly the best comics to movie adaptation ever.

Saturday, December 17, 2005

Which Kong is King

Peter Jackson's King Kong is a worthy successor to the original King Kong.

The original King Kong is considered a classic. It inspired generations of film makers and paved the way for a new genre of movie which spawned countless imitations in film and other entertainment media. Consider all of the King Kong riffs that you've seen in tv, comics, novels, etc. Yeah, the original King Kong is the gold standard.

Peter Jackson's King Kong is going to be dismissed by some pureists who won't consider anything but the original King Kong to be the best. For many film buffs,the original King Kong is THE movie that made them love film.

The original King Kong touched them in a way that no other film ever did before and when they watch it they recapture that feeling. They're taken back to a time and a place that was special. No matter how good Peter Jackson's King Kong is, it won't be able to rekindle those feelings and will therefore fall short. Heck, I'd feel the same way about any Rocky movie that wasn't made by Sly Stallone.

Ok, so how good is Peter Jackson's take on the big ape?

That I can answer. It's absolutely great. Easily one of my two favorite movies of the year.

First of all, my hat is off to Peter Jackson. King Kong has been the film that he's wanted to tackle since before he became a filmmaker. Everything that he'd done before Kong was just to prepare him for Kong.

Everything about the movie is near perfect. Loved the cast. The special effects were flawless. The music and editing were as well. The screenplay, while based on the original King Kong screenplay, kicked up the action and took me to a place that was familiar but much, much more dangerous. All aspects of the production combined to create a movie-going experience that was truly an experience.

Before I go on, let me say that if you haven't seen the movie, you may want to stop reading since I'm going to discuss aspects that contain SPOILERS...

... Still here... ok then...

Some folks have complained that the first hour is too slow. I went in thinking that this might be the case, but for me, it wasn't. I enjoyed the character development.

I loved the look of the island. The natives were realistic and frightening. Come to think of it, even the island looked frightening! And you've gotta love the way the native got onto the ship!

And then the appearance of Kong. Man, he looks so real. And I'm not just talking about his physical appearance. He moves like a giant ape should [note I said should, not does]. His fur gets matted and stuff gets in it.

I think it's cool that Kong's scarred and older looking. He's a warrior on an island that demands you fight to survive. His battle with not one, but three tyranesarous rex [at the same time] was nothing short of amazing. All the while he's fighting them, he's protecting Ann... even as he throws punches, climbs, dodges and falls. He's not called "King" Kong without reason.

But there's more to King Kong than just the baddest mo on the island. Kong is the last of his kind and his loneliness is apparent. I also love it that Kong is intelligent. He has a sense of humor and enjoys the beauty of a sunrise. If you haven't seen the movie, then my last sentence probably has you scratching your head. If you've seen the movie then you know it will break your heart before the movie's end.

I love the search for Ann in New York... the frantic, wild search for just the right women and then how everything slows down and nothing else in the world matters once you find her. The escape with Ann is exciting and then the interlude on the ice. Beautiful. Unexpected and so sweet. It was at this point that I could feel the tears forming. Because the interlude wouldn't last.

Kong's climb up the Empire State building still had one more surprise. If you saw the movie, you know what I mean. Kong places Ann in a place of safety and sits next to her. He looks out at the horizon and sees a sunrise and "tells" Ann it's beautiful. Now the tears were flowing...

... because here came the planes. And you know the rest.

So is Peter Jackson's King Kong better than the original King Kong?

Who's to say? Comparing the original King Kong to Peter Jackson's King Kong is like comparing an athlete from 1933 to one from today. Odds are that today's athlete is bigger and faster but does that make him better? Does it really matter?

I guess that's why sports leagues create their own Halls of Fame. Different athletes from different time periods can be honored and there is room for all who deserve a spot.

Peter Jackson's King Kong deserves a spot next to the original King Kong. Let others then argue which Kong is King.

As for me, I'll spend my time watching them both!

The Original "King Kong" rates an A+. Peter Jackson's King Kong rates an A+.

Friday, December 16, 2005

John Spencer - RIP

A few minutes ago it was announced that John Spencer has died of a heart attack.

Most of you that recognize the name probably know Mr. Spencer from his work on
the West Wing where he played Leo McGarry.

Others may know him from his roles in LA Law, Cop Land, Black Rain, The Rock, Ravenous or one of the many other roles that he played in his career.

I always, always enjoyed it when John Spencer was on the screen. Even, like in Cop Land when he was playing a bad guy, I liked him. I wasn't alone in my admiration for Mr. Spencer's acting. You can tell that from the many awards that he won over the course of his career.

Mr. Spencer was just 59 years old. He was still appearing on the West Wing where his character had been chosen to run for Vice President [under the likely winner]. Even with the potential of this being the last year for West Wing, John Spencer, and his fans should have had many more years to enjoy his acting.

Sadly that is not to be. Our thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends and fans.

Wednesday, December 14, 2005

Another Can't Miss Blockbuster

The DaVinci Code was on the best seller list for years. Even people who didn't normally read books picked it up... and most loved it. The buzz was huge. Except for Jaws and Harry Potter, I can't think of any other novels that instantly became a part of popular culture like The DaVinci Code.

Next summer The DaVinci Code will make the transition to the big screen. My guess is that the movie will also be a blockbuster. Ron Howard's directiing it and Tom Hanks is the lead.

How can it go wrong?

If the trailer is any indication, it can't.

Monday, December 12, 2005

Tom Cruise, Ving Rhames and Me

Mission Impossible III is coming.

Tom Cruise is back.

Ving Rhames is back.

After seeing the teaser trailer, so am I.

Sunday, December 11, 2005

Richard Pryor - RIP

As you've probably already heard, Richard Pryor died yesterday. He'd turned 65 a little over a week ago, but had suffered with multiple sclerosis for years. The disease made Richard seem older and robbed him [and us] of years that he could have been performing.

In the coming days you will hear testimony from comics, celebrities and others about Richard Pryor. Most will proclaim him to be one of the greatest comedians of all time. They'd be right, but Richard Pryor was much more than just a guy who told jokes.

Richard was a former soldier [two years in the army]. He was a great stand-up comedian. His comedy albums are classics. Pryor worked in television as an actor and writer [even starring in a short-lived series that was ahead of it's time]. He also appeared in nearly 40 feature films, several of which he wrote, produced and/or directed.

Pryor's comedy was raw. Sure, the language was quite often foul, but that's not what I mean when I say his comedy was raw. Pryor's comedy wasn't superficial. He didn't just relate funny stories. Pryor's comedy crossed age barriers, color differences, and made you think even as you were laughing till the tears came. That's because Richard's comedy was founded in truth. He talked about racism, drug addiction, sex, male -female relations, and more.

Sure, he made us laugh... but equally important, he made us think.

The funniest movie that I ever saw was Richard Pryor Live. I saw it in a crowded theater in 1979. If you haven't seen it, you should. It's a concert movie. Richard Pryor, a microphone and a crowded ampitheater. I never laughed so hard in my life.


I laughed to tears and beyond. My sides were truly hurting by the time the movie was over. And I wanted to hear more. I talked about the movie for days. Telling others that they should go and sharing laughs with people who'd seen it. Heck, it's 26 years later and I'm still recommending it.

I'm sad to hear that Richard Pryor is no longer with us. I'm just as sad that he had to suffer so long from multiple sclerosis.

My thoughts and prayers go out to his family, friends, and fans.

Saturday, December 03, 2005

Sgt. Rock, Jew Gangster and Rocky Balboa

Joe Kubert is a legend. And deservedly so. At 79, Joe is still turning out not just great drawings but great comics!

His recently published graphic novel, Jew Gangster, is getting great reviews and soon we'll see Joe's return to one of his signature characters, Sgt. Rock, when the six issue mini-series, Sgt. Rock: The Prophet hits stands. You can get a sneak peak at both by clicking HERE.

I had the good fortune to meet Joe Kubert in the early 80's. He was Guest of Honor at one of Jim Ivey's OrlandoCons. Joe was there to pick up his Ignatz award. At the time Joe was also promoting a series that he was to write and draw for DC called The Redeemer. Sad to say it never appeared.

Another thing that Joe worked on that never appeared is, interestingly enough, a proposal for a Rocky Balboa newspaper strip. Joe told me that he was approached to work on a daily newspaper strip and that he had in fact worked up character sheets, some daily samples, etc. Sadly the strip was never picked up.

You can imagine how excited I was to hear that JOE KUBERT had drawn Rocky Balboa. I asked Mr. Kubert if the art was available for sale, but it wasn't. I then asked if I could buy Xeroxes but again, Mr. Kubert politely declined. Man, you just know that those pieces look great... maybe someday we'll get the chance to see them in a treasury of Joe's work...

At any rate, we can pick up Jew Gangster now and still have Sgt. Rock: The Prophet to look forward to.