Azn Badger's Blog

What About the Lysine Contingency…?

Are We About To Enter The Age Of Board Game Movies?

Hollywood tends to move in trends.

Really, really, obvious and demeaning trends.

In a market where film studios routinely invest upwards of 100 million dollars on their high profile projects, it only makes sense that producers would display a preference to go with “whatever works.”

According to Michael Bay (and ONLY Michael Bay) this, is what "works."

This of course results in a lot of studios continually aping each other’s films from year to year in hopes of breaking even, or better yet; turning a profit.

In my lifetime alone, I can think of several trends in movies that have come and gone.

Naturally, I have compiled a brief list of said trends:

1. Old TV Show Adaptations

Pictured: One of my favorite films. Hands down.

The first genre trend I noticed, even as a child; was the slew of old TV show (and cartoon) adaptations of the 90’s.

The Brady Bunch, Dennis the Menace, McHale’s Navy, and The Flintstones movies all fell under this umbrella, among a handful of others.

It makes sense, given that Nick at Nite was in the process of becoming an established “thing” at the time; not to mention the fact that a number of the filmmakers of this era were likely of the age group that would’ve grown up watching a lot of the 60’s TV shows.

Y’know, shit like The Addam’s Family, George of the Jungle, The Fugitive, The Jackal, and Mission: Impossible.

While I can’t say who started actually this trend, or if it was even that profitable; it’s managed to stick around long enough to the point in which I doubt it will ever die.

TV shows will always be lovingly remembered by somebody, so as time goes by, it’s only natural that some poor deluded fool will pony up the money to make a movie of them in tribute.

Here’s hoping we don’t see a Seinfeld or Frasier movie 10 years from now.

2. Videogame Movies

Also known as, "Party of Five and Iron Chef Team-Up To Fight Terminator 2."

As with TV show adaptations, videogame movies were something that sprang up during the 90’s, smack dab in the middle of the Super NES era.

While it’s hard to call videogame movies a trend in the fullest sense of the word, it’s evident that they were intended to be one in the mid-90’s.

Following the release of the surprisingly decent Mortal Kombat, videogame movies were stuffed down throats our en masse.

Unfortunately, with releases like Super Mario Bros., Double Dragon, and Street Fighter stinking up the theaters; the trend never really caught on as strongly as I’m guessing it was intended to.

You can thank Mortal Kombat: Annihilation and Wing Commander for putting the nail in the coffin of 90’s videogame movies:

Despite this, videogame culture has apparently grown exponentially over the years, leading to videogame movie adaptations becoming increasingly regular.

The movies stick suck some serious balls for the most part, but the point is; they have yet to reach a point where they are no longer profitable, and thus they continue to exist.

Truth be told, this “trend” is actually more symbolic of the birth of a new film genre as opposed to a trend, but oh well; it’s my blog.

Fuck you.

3. Comic Book Movies

SPIDER-MAN LOVES 'MERIKUh! WHY DON'T YOU LOVE 'MERIKUh!?

Comic book movies are, as THE INTERNET seems to want me to say; kind of a big deal.

While they’ve existed in one form or another for quite some time, it wasn’t until the release of Tim Burton’s Batman in ’89 that we really saw them become en vogue.

Richard Donner’s Superman doesn’t really count, as at the time, it was entirely in a league of it’s own; only serving to spawn weak-ass imitators as opposed to profitable blockbusters.

Anyway, Batman served to open the floodgates and give way to the release of countless comic book films, many of which were of course; Batman sequels.

In response to the angsty, MTV culture of the day, as well as the popularity of “less-than-mainstream” comics, movies like The Crow, Barb Wire, Tank Girl, Judge Dredd, The Mask, and Spawn were all cranked out in short order.

While the success of these movies (except for The Mask) was largely scatter-shot, the success of Blade in ’98 ushered in the Marvel dominated era of the 2000’s.

I kinda' miss the days when Wesley Snipes was cool... And not poor.

Unless you’ve been living under a rock for the past decade or so, you’ve probably come to realize that Marvel is the flamboyant and insatiable whore of the comic book movie world.

The arrogant bastard that likes to prance about and shove his cock in your face and demand you tell him how amazingly massive it is.

*Ahem!* Not like I’ve ever had that happen to me or anything…

Routinely whoring out it’s intellectual properties from year to year, Marvel rode the success of X-Men and Spider-Man (and a string of critical failures) to take the film world by storm, largely through sheer volume of production.

In the 13 years since the release of Blade, Marvel has released a total of 25 major motion pictures, averaging nearly 3 films a year.

While it’s hard to call them rivals these days, (times have changed) DC manages to release, at best; 1 film a year.

The only difference is, DC films have a tendency to win Oscar nominations.

Well, except for maybe Jonah Hex… And Catwoman.

Catwoman: Protecting the World from Modesty and Cosmetics Moguls.

Anyway, for better or worse, strip-mining the previously established characters and events from comic books is kind of the thing to do for Hollywood producers in this day and age; and based on the record-breaking revenue gained from said movies, I’d say it’s what the audience is into as well.

Which brings me to the eerie prospect of a 4th trend in films that I would prefer not see come to pass.

Has anybody seen the trailer for Battleship yet?

If not, here yah’ go:

Some way, some how, they managed to get Liam Neeson to get on board the Battleship bandwagon, (I’m guessing it involved a free trip to Hawaii…) and in all honesty; I’m just plain confused by it all, aliens notwithstanding.

To my knowledge, Clue is the only other board game movie in existence at this point; and while that has kind of a cult following in some (seriously demented) parts of the world, Battleship just never really seemed like movie material in my mind.

To me, Battleship was always that one game my friend and I could never play without cheating.

Seriously man, after 5 minutes of calling out “Miss” to each other, inevitably someone would peek over the game, find a ship, and basically win the game.

Even the name “Battleship” doesn’t seem all that marketable to me.

It’s non-descript, it gives virtually zero indication of what to expect in the film outside of maybe a battle or 2 involving ships.

Oh well, goofy military shit is en vogue at the moment, so I’m guessing therein lies to the logic to the production house’s gambit.

The really puzzling part in all of this, is the fact that I recall hearing rumblings of a Monopoly movie being in the works.

I heard about the Battleship movie awhile back, but it wasn’t until I saw the trailer the other day that I truly realized they were actually going to make it.

What I mean to say is, I really hope Battleship doesn’t start a board game movie trend, ’cause I’ll tell yah’, I’m not an analyst, or anywhere near an expert in these matters; but if this shit comes to pass, we’ll be in for some epic-ly shitty over the next several years.

 

Filed under: Comics, Games, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

Batman’s New Threads

I was clickin’ around on IGN earlier today, when I noticed an article in their comics section entitled, “Batman Has A New Costume.”

Being a Batman enthusiast, I naturally clicked it, half-expecting some sort of shocking redesign along the lines of Batman 500 AKA the Jean-Paul Valley Batman from the Knightfall story arc.

Pictured: The EXACT image that got me into comics in the early 90's.

You see, though I admittedly haven’t followed Grant Morrison’s recent work on the Batman series, least of all the death and return of Bruce Wayne portion of it, with all of the outlandish Batman costume designs being thrown around as of late, I figured we were due for even more craziness.

Goddamnit! I hella' wanna' hate on this image for being dumb, but it's so damn awesome!

Color me surprised when I discovered that not only was the costume redesign a helluva’ lot more tasteful than I was expecting, it was also done by Moon Knight and, *sigh…* Messiah Complex artist David Finch was responsible for it.

As beautiful as his art can be, GODDAMN YOU DAVID FINCH FOR TRICKING ME INTO READING MESSIAH COMPLEX!

That being said, let’s take a look at Mr. Finch’s work:

ART.

I have to say, not just as a David Finch whore, but as a Batman fan in general, I really don’t mind the new costume.

Most of the changes are quite subtle, with some elements, such as the classic; almost Tim Burton Batman-esque yellow chest emblem, actually being recycled elements from previous designs of the Bat-Suit.

Keaton Batman: The Finest Batman the Silver Screen Has Yet to Produce.

In some images I’ve run across, it seems apparent that DC was trying to cash in on the recent mega-success of the Arkham Asylum videogame, as both the beefier arm guards/gauntlets, the bulkier and more heavily ornamented utility belt, and the molded seam-lines of the suit seem very similar to the art style of the game.

No, the Joker is not about to suck Batman's cock. Buncha' dirty sickos...

Which reminds me, I simply have to play Arkham Asylum at some point…

The seam-lines I mentioned above are probably the one aspect of the design that I’m on the fence about.

How appropriate that that just happens to be the single most noticeable change from the current status quo.

To me, the best Bat-Suit designs have always been the ones that take advantage of the 2D, pen and paper medium.

Blue Batman = THE SHIT.

In comics, the artist has the ability to manufacture images of characters without having to take into consideration the physical properties of whatever materials their costumes are made of.

Depending on the artist’s sensibilities, or the mood of the story, Batman’s cape and cowl can be rendered as smooth and voluminous as silk, or as heavy and lustrous as leather.

Kind of like Spawn! You're not allowed to ask "why," you just kind of accept it...

In comics, Batman’s costume usually looks best to me when it’s portrayed as a skin-tight presence surrounding the character.

To me, Batman usually looks best when he isn’t so much wearing a Bat-Suit, as he is embodying it.

Jim Lee’s Batman always struck me as a fantastic, if not ludicrously beefy design.

Jim Lee's Batman is so fucking beastly, it should be spelt "Bat-MAAAANNN."

Aside from the utility belt and heavily detailed boots, every element of Lee’s Bat-Suit strike me as essentially being a part of Bruce Wayne’s anatomy.

At the same time though, I have to say I was very impressed with Lee Bermejo’s rendering of the Bat-Suit in Brian Azzarello’s excellent Joker graphic novel.

Not from Joker, but close enough. Did I mention this art is badass?

Essentially at the other end of the spectrum in terms of costume/character design, Bermejo’s extremely realistic renderings resulted in a Bat-Suit of tangible weight and bulk, so much so that it truly seemed like a suit of armor.

Not only that, but Bermejo’s design of Batman’s cape was truly striking, as it appeared leathery and almost obscenely heavy, such that it assisted in portraying the character as being almost inhumanly powerful and omniscent.

I’m rambling.

To sum up, Finch’s design of the Bat-Suit is honestly only a mild departure from the status quo, but it’s amazing how much an impact a few seam-lines can make.

Personally, I find the new design to be, how shall we say; “acceptable,” I wouldn’t be surprised if those seam-lines get the axe somewhere down the road, as honestly I find them to be somewhat distracting.

Much like pie... If anything can stop me in my tracks, it's the sight and/or smell of a delicious pie...

To me, it’s almost as if Finch is trying to straddle the line behind the Christopher Nolan movie’s Bat-Armor design, and the comic’s traditional Bat-Suit, with the end result being a costume that appears almost flight suit-ish.

So what if Batman has brown-guy hands. I'm lazy, so sue me.

While I find the design to be acceptable, I’ll end by saying this:

I’d take Jim Aparo or Jim Lee’s streamlined Bat-Suit over David Finch’s Bat-Flight-Suit any day.

That being said, here’s one more look at it for the road:

Cool enough, but nowhere Bat-MAAAANN levels of MAN-liness.

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Thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth

If you’re like anyone else surfing around on the intersnatch these days, then you’ve probably heard news of Kevin Tancharoen’s 8-minute pitch video for a new Mortal Kombat movie.

If not, then you should probably click the video above and check it out.

I for one was very impressed, not just by the production values and artistic design of the video, but also by it’s cast.

In case you didn’t know, Michael Jai White of Undisputed 2 and Black Dynamite fame plays Jackson Briggs,

You knew I had to use this one again.

Capoeira expert, Lateef Crowder from Tom Yum Goong and Undisputed 3 plays Baraka,

Funny, he doesn't look like a brutha' to me...

and Matt Mullins, who is currently on the American Kamen Rider TV show and will be playing Vejita in the new live-action Dragonball movie, plays Johnny Cage.

Glad to see they upped the budget for the next Dragonball movie.

To top things off, the fight choreographer of the video is Larnell Stovall, who you will of course remember conducted the fights in Undisputed 3.

And we all know how well that turned out.

From what I can tell, the basic premise that Tancharoen was working from for his “new” Mortal Kombat, is something along the lines of Se7en/8mm/Saw meets Enter the Dragon/Bloodsport.

Okay, this movie needs to be made. NOW.

That is, I believe the idea was to combine the bloody, dark, urban and “ugly,” aesthetic, atmosphere and subject matter of Se7en, and combine it with the underground fighting tournament plot-line of Enter the Dragon.

On paper, I think it’s a great idea.

Though the Mortal Kombat series of games were never really my favorite, (I was a Capcom and SNK kid) one thing I will admit about them, is that they always had a pretty impressive roster of characters.

Sure, the digitized graphics of the older games in the franchise seriously restricted the developers ability to create truly outrageous and memorable designs, and palette swapping was often out of control, but even so; most of the character designs had a lot of charm and personality to them regardless.

Jax: He's a black guy. Yeah, that's all he's got goin' for him.

I have to say, it was truly refreshing to see some of the more gruesome and imaginative character designs in the series I.E. Baraka and Reptile; be integrated into live-action in such a way as to highlight their gruesomeness.

I for one would love to see a character like Kabal, or even Kano, redone in this style.

Previous attempts at doing so in the film series were often cheap looking, and very “PG-13” in their approach, so much so in fact, that most of the costume and makeup designs were often times laughable, especially in that piece of monkey-crap, Annihilation.

Say what you will, their costumes are still better than the ones in Mortal Kombat: Annihilation.

Some purists may object to it, but I feel that moving the Mortal Kombat series away from it’s “Outworld” elements is a good move.

I always felt that Mortal Kombat games were at their best when they kept the mysticism and inter-dimensional bullshit on the fringe instead of at the forefront of their presentation.

Goro was fun and memorable because he was the only inhuman character in the first game.

That and he was a broken-ass piece of shit that knocked you across the room anytime you tried to do anything but jump-kick his ass.

Silly Scorpion, 'told you to jump-kick his ass, but NOOOO.....

By the time we got to MK3, and we reached a point where it was becoming hard to distinguish just who the hell wasn’t some crazy fucked-up monster from Outworld, I felt like things started to get gimmicky.

No wait, THIS, is gimmicky...

Mortal Kombat: Rebirth seems like it’s trying to keep things grounded in a twisted and warped, but otherwise fairly believable reality.

No mention is ever made as to Shang Tsung being any kind of sorceror, nor are Reptile and Baraka ever made out to be anything more than malformed and psychotic men.

May I just say, that after all the internet crap about Harlequin fetuses and what not, I always figured it would only be a matter of time before someone tried to use the concept in a movie.

Congrats to Mortal Kombat: Rebirth for being the first movie I know of to actually do so.

Now here's a picture of Harley Quinn, 'cause Harlequin Ichthyosis gives me the heebie-jeebies.

So, we’ve established that, conceptually and artistically speaking, I think Mortal Kombat: Rebirth has something going for it.

But what did I think of the fighting?

In short, the action put on display in this 8-minute video is pretty much on par with some of the better American martial arts movies.

Lateef Crowder is his usual impressive self, with indications of his Capoeira skills being restricted largely to his posture and the occasional hand-plant or spin-kick.

He, along with the choreographer, seemed to play up Baraka’s fierce and brutal nature in such a way as to tone down the sleekness of Crowder’s movements, and put more of an emphasis on throwing his weight around and giving power and intent to his attacks.

His strikes, particularly his punches, were a little bit guarded and slow, a fact that may have been due more in part to the cinematography than Crowder himself.

Even so, I felt some of his punches just didn’t have the right “big-ness” to them that a character as vicious as Baraka should have had.

Crowder’s performance was pretty good for what it was, but sadly I believe he has little hope in his career of ever being cast as anything but “the Capoeira guy with the dreads.”

Hell, they already cast him as Eddy Gordo in the Tekken movie, that must have been just about the easiest casting job ever.

If you type "Eddy Gordo" into Google, Lateef Crowder is the second result. No joke.

Matt Mullins’ Johnny Cage was pretty good as well.

His movements were sharp and impressively quick, however I felt his attacks during some of the longer, and more complex sequences, were a little bit off.

While Crowder’s punches seemed to be overly restrained at times, Mullins’ seemed to come out half-cocked.

There is a 4-5 hit sequence early on wherein Mullins hits all his marks, but I get the sense he’s just putting his hands where they need to be, instead of fleshing out, and “selling” every move.

It’s a minor gripe, especially since Mullins was actually able to carry out the choreography quite well, and indeed left somewhat of an impression, but it’s still something I felt needed pointing out.

One thing worth noting is that probably the most impressive moment in the whole fight, a inside-spinning-kick, was delivered by Mullins and not Crowder.

Mullins’ form in executing this kick, compared to his somewhat wimpy movements during the longer, more contact oriented beats of the choreography lead me to believe that it may just be a lack of comfort that is holding him back.

Flashy acrobatics and kicks seem to be his forte, but not complex hand work and sparring.

The cinematography during the fight was classy and efficient, with very little unnecessary movement or trickery being emplyoed.

The angles were well selected, and some of the panning shots during the more complex sparring were very nice.

Though I can’t say I am familiar with Tancharoen’s directing skills, I have read that he is a dance choreographer and has directed several dance videos and features, which, on paper should make him well-suited to filming any sort of physical action, in particular man-to-man combat.

In all, the fight was well shot and choreographed, and I have no doubt that, given a longer production schedule, all the players involved in the film, both in front of and behind the camera, could produce something pretty impressive.

...Or they could just make this.

On the whole, I found the Mortal Kombat: Rebirth video to be quite impressive.

I feel that, should it get picked up for production, chances are it would do best as a straight-to-video feature.

The straight-to-video market has been rapidly legitimizing as of late, and given the grounded in reality, but otherwise ridiculous subject matter of Tancharoen’s concept thus far, I don’t think it would be taken as seriously in theaters as the director might hope.

Regardless, Tancharoen was fortunate to score a stellar cast for his production, one that I hope he manages to maintain if the movie ever gets picked up.

We all know Michael Jai White can fight, and we all know he can play the lead, so why not let him do both as Jax?

I would watch that, in fact I would look forward to that.

Well, those are my thoughts on Mortal Kombat: Rebirth, chances are the buzz surrounding it has already past, but oh well.

Filed under: Games, Kung Fu, Movies, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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