Del Toro’s Fantastic Voyage

Guillermo Del Toro ranks among my favorite directors, though what I have seen–which is exclusively the trailer–of The Shape of Water left me underwhelmed.

Color palette-wise it feels a lot like Blade II, while story-wise and visually it feels like The Further Adventures of Abe Sapien (though part of me hopes the movie is a backdoor way for Del Toro to delve deeper into the worlds of H.P Lovecraft).

In other words, despite never having seen the movie, I feel like I have, which is never a good thing.

Now, Del Toro directing a remake of 1966’s Fantastic Voyage?  Now that I’m interested in!

By the way, this is how you do remakes!  Most people don’t even remember the original–though there also was a cartoon based on it two years later, never mind the novel–so it’s going to be new to most, which should give the producers room to veer from the source material if necessary.

Though there’s a fly in the soup, namely David Goyer, who’s writing (though to be fair Goyer also wrote Blade II and Del Toro was apparently able to reign in his hackier tendencies, so hope springs eternal).

By the way, Guru!?  Notice how everyone on the team has an actual name, while the Indian character doesn’t (A guru is ‘a religious teacher and spiritual guide in Hinduism…’).

That’s like naming someone ‘teacher’ or ‘bar keep.’  And I won’t even start on the ‘master of mysterious powers’ malarkey.

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Marvel’s The Punisher – Teaser Trailer

There have been three movie incarnations of The Punisher since he was created by Gerry Conway and John Romita Sr. in 1974, and while a popular character in comics, his movies never quite seemed to connect with audiences.

The first movie was in 1978, with Dolph Lundgren as Frank Castle/The Punisher.  It was okay, though he never displayed the the iconic skull emblem the character is known for (this lack of fidelity to the character was made up by it being somewhat gory).

The next version was in 2004 with Thomas Jane (who while physically is probably a bit short, he brought acting chops beyond Lundgren’s). It was okay, but failed in some really peculiar ways, such as as some underwhelming special effects and odd story beats (what I like to call the ‘fire hydrant scene’ is pretty bizarre).

Though at least he wore the iconic skull.

Thomas Jane also appeared in a short as The Punisher in 2012 (The Punisher: Dirty Laundry).

The Punisher next made another appearance in 2008 (This time played by Ray Stevenson) in Lexi Alexander’s Punisher: War Zone.  

Easily the best interpretation of the character in movies–though some of the violence was way over the top and more cartoonish than anything seen prior–Stevenson brought the size of Lundgren, and the acting chops of Jane to the role.

Though it still underperformed in theaters.

Enter 2017, and the Punisher is back.  Introduced in season two of Marvel’s Daredevil and graduating to his own series (a better format for the character than movies) Jon Bernthal brings us a Punisher worthy of the name.

Inhumans – Trailer 2

The more I see trailers for Marvel Television’s Inhumans, the better it’s starting to look.  The FX is fine (and while Lockjaw himself looks great; his transport effect?  Not so much) and while I’m hardly waiting with baited breath, I am interested enough to catch it in theaters (mainly because I am curious if it looks cinematic enough to warrant the involvement of IMAX.

The Defenders – Trailer 2

Marvel Television, as far as I can tell, is in a bind entirely of their own making.

While I enjoy the series that have done thus far–with a particular emphasis on Marvel’s Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.–I do feel a certain reluctance on their parts to embrace the fantastic wholeheartedly (which is an interesting, though odd, problem to have).

This has a lot to do with why why the only costume we’ve seen of the four superheroes that make up The Defenders is Daredevil (which is less a costume than tactical combat armor in varying shades of red) and why the upcoming The Inhumans looks so grounded.

And so ordinary.

Comicbooks are a celebration of the fantastic, the weird, the uncanny and the strange;  a perspective that seemingly ill-fits with the Nolanesque esthetic that Marvel has created for television.

Which isn’t to say all characters should wear costumes.  I get why Jessica Jones and Luke Cage don’t–Jones tried the costumed superhero route; it didn’t take while Cage has always had less a costume than accoutrements (a tiara–there has to be another name for that–coupled wits a chain for a belt and a yellow shirt) that was more indicative of a 1970’s fashion esthetic–the character was created in 1972 by Archie Goodwin, John Romita, Sr. and George Tuska–than anything else

But Iron Fist?  He’s a character where a costume would actually make sense.  It would protect his identity–and by extension that of his family–as well as give him clothing in line with someone who engages in martial arts combat on a (more or less) regular basis.

And that’s not necessarily to say that they have to go with the spandex body suit, though something along those lines would really be appreciated.

Sony’s Bug Problem


And while spiders are arachnids, not bugs, bear with me and all come clear.

Spider-Man: Homecoming makes its North American debut today, and some pundits believe that it will ensnare an opening somewhere in the ballpark of $100 million.  If this bears out it would make the movie the fourth of 2017–joining Beauty and the Beast, Guardians of the Galaxy, Vol 2 and Wonder Woman–to reach that milestone.

Though–at least at the moment–Sony only plans to work with Marvel Studios on Homecoming and its sequel, and that’s problematic not only for that reason, but because they’re also planning movies based on Venom, Silver Sable and the Black Cat, all outside the Marvel Cinematic Universe (known as the MCU).

This is a terrible idea because one of the reasons Spider-Man: Honecoming is projected to do as well as it is is because Spider-Man is returning to the MCU, which people are interested in seeing, while Sony’s upcoming movies will likely not have this version of Spider-Man, if any at all.

As I said, it’s a problem because you’re not only taking away the context that Venom currently exists in–which is the MCU–you’re potentially taking away the reason Venom himself exists (the symbiont originally chose to bond with Spider-Man.  Only when it was rejected by him did it turn its attentions to Eddie Brock).

So Venom (as well as Silver Sable, Black Cat and whichever other Spiderverse characters they intend to use) existing outside the MCU is problematic.

Though without Spider-Man?

That’s more than a problem; that’s a disaster for Sony.  For Marvel?

Not so much, especially when you take into account that while they never actually needed Spider-Man he’s back (albeit temporarily) and the MCU version has appeared in Captain America: Civil War and Spider-Man: Homecoming and with three movies on the way (Avengers: Infinity War, an untitled Avengers movie as well as a sequel to Homecoming).

If Sony were smart–or smarter, after all they did have the foresight to cut this deal with Marvel Studios–they would ensure that the Spiderverse remain in the MCU with a deal a similar to that that they reached with Spider-Man (which would probably have Marvel Studios getting a cut of the box office, perhaps in exchange for contributing to the costs of production).

It’s certainly worth a thought.

Marvel’s Inhumans – Official Trailer 1

I have to admit that I liked the first trailer for Marvel Television’s upcoming Inhumans a lot more than I thought I would.

That being said, that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few problems. such as…

  1. Way too many guns.

Gun

The whole point of the Inhumans is that they have abilities that set them apart from regular humans (something another Marvel Television show Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D.  understands quite well)

Here? Not so much.

      2. (Too) Obvious Fan Service

Screenshot 2017-06-29 10.44.35

The woman pictured is Crystal, and as you can see from the image below, she looks a lot like the version of her character from the comics.  The problem is that that hair is too faithful to the comics, and doesn’t translate to an actual person very well almost pulling me out of the drama, instead of immersing me (as it should).

Screenshot 2017-06-29 11.02.08.png

       3. Lockjaw is Glorious!

Though all is not lost because Lockjaw (which should have been the most difficult idea to get across) looks absolutely glorious!  Though admittedly he’s not seen for long (and the transporting effect isn’t that great) when he does turn up, so did my smile.

Screenshot 2017-06-29 10.49.26

New Inhumans Poster

On the left is the latest poster for Marvel Television/ABC’s upcoming series The Inhumans, and it’s…okay.

It does have a sense of drama (though Medusa’s hair continues to look terrible, mainly because if lacks the voluptuousness that it typically has in the comics, rendering it flat and lifeless).

That being said, I admit that the production has me–based on the admittedly limited information I possess–a bit concerned.

First off, Scott Buck (Dexter, Iron Fist) is the showrunner and while the latter series was much better than most critics have given it credit for, it also wasn’t as engaging as any of the other Marvel/Netflix series so far introduced (and felt to me like Buck knew little about the source material).

Another potential issue is one I’ve touched on before, which is how the characters (and in particular their costumes) look.

And trust me, I get why the producers likely chose to change how Black Bolt looked from the comics: while movies lately ar making these characters more comic-accurate I am not entirely sure that it would work as he’s traditionally pictured.

After all, he’s the king of his people, though nothing about his current costume says ‘royalty’ (though that’s perhaps not not quite fair, though it would need to be relayed to the audience somehow).

In fact, it just looks like–to someone who unfamiliar with him or doesn’t follow the comics–like any other superhero.

And that’s not a good thing when you have so much running on a series.