Thursday, September 6, 2018

Review: Three Stooges Matinee Madness


The latest Three Stooges comic book from American Mythology features a change in format. The scripts are written to be more in line with the classic two reel shorts and the art work in toned in black & white.  The reprints are also reduced to single page strips.  The issue's two new stories, both written by Mike Wolfer are top notch.  He captures the tone, the characterizations, and the humor of the classic shorts perfectly.  Best of all, unlike some of the previous issues which seemed to be influenced by the Farrely Brothers movie, there is not a bunch of pop culture references to hit the reader over the head that this is 2018.   A good interpretation of the Stooges should be timeless.  There doesn't need to be an aggressive attempt to scream "hey, this is 2018", nor to scream "hey, this is 1938".  Just write the characters faithfully and put them in funny situations and don't worry about what year its supposed to be.  Wolfer succeeds with that in this issue. The premise  of the first story has the boys as exterminators who are mistaken for pastry chefs at a swanky party.  The second story's premise has gangsters hiring the boys to take them on a tour of a swamp where a scientist inventor is secluded. The artwork is by Eric Shanower, who with Jeremy Kahn's black and white tones, captures the atmosphere of the classic shorts. Shanower's renderings of the boys looks like it is more influenced by Norman Maurer's artwork from the '40s and '50s.  A bit more cartoony than the Fraim brothers artwork in previous issues, at least in regard to the Stooges, while other characters have a more realistic rendering.  Hopefully the Fraim brothers will get an opportunity to draw an issue or two in this new format.  Overall this issue earns an A+.

Saturday, July 21, 2018

The first "Shazam!" trailer

This is it.  What we have been waiting for since 2002.  The Shazam! trailer.



I was completely underwhelmed by it.  Visually, it was too bland and generic. It looked like it was a big screen version of one of DC's CW TV shows.  Content was just as bad. It appears as if the studio is aiming for this to be a G-rated entry level film for children into the larger DCEU. There were a lot of attempts at humor, all of which fell flat. I didn't think any of the jokes were particularly funny. This is definitely not the G-rated version of Deadpool that word of mouth indicated several weeks ago. It's not even DC's version of Ant-Man.  If anything, this is more along the lines of Sky High.

I will say Asher Angel, as Billy Batson, impressed me.  I didn't think he could do it, but he was able to keep up to the level of the more celebrated and critically acclaimed Jack Dylan Grazer, as Freddy Freeman. Zachary Levi, on the other hand... well, let's just say he goes into full Freaky Friday mode, and that is not what Captain Marvel is about. But this movie is not about Captain Marvel.  It is about New52 Shazam, and the trailer looks as if it is going to be one of the most faithful adaptations of a comic book ever. If this trailer is any indication, the final product could be a live action version of a motion comic.  The big problem is, "Curse of Shazam" is the most wrong comic to be so faithful to. It is divisive, the antithesis of what the Captain Marvel character is, and the majority of long time Captain Marvel fans abhor it. I think the average viewer over the age of 17 will find Levi's performance obnoxious after about 10 minutes.  Plus there is the fact his face looks more like Dagwood Bumstead than any C.C. Beck drawing of Captain Marvel.

It's funny, a few days before this trailer dropped, I saw the teaser for Tim Burton's Dumbo.  It had the tone, the look, and the atmosphere I so desperately wanted for a Shazam! movie. After seeing the Shazam! trailer, I wish Tim Burton was signed to direct Shazam! and David Sandberg was signed to direct Dumbo. Even so, the biggest problem is that it's based on Geoff Johns' work, and you can add butter and garlic and seasoning to a plate of shit, but it's still going to be a plate of shit. And that is what DC is serving us.

Thursday, July 12, 2018

First "official" image from the Shazam movie

Unfortunately this is just further confirmation this is going to be Curse of Shazam: The Movie.

In the Entertainment Weekly interview, director David Sandberg mentions the costume's shorter cape, as if that is the thing that will keep us long time Captain Marvel fans happy and quiet: “It makes him feel a bit more Golden Age superhero, which is the vibe I’m going for.”  And yet everything else, so far, appears to be ripped directly from the New52 reboot, which the majority of long time Captain Marvel fans detest.

The first teaser trailer will be released next week.  It is going to have to be ... well, marvelous, to win me over.

UPDATE:  a second official photo has been released, also featuring Zachary Levi and Jack Dylan Grazer, confirming a thought I had when it was revealed the talented Grazer was cast as Freddy, while lightweight Disney Channel personality Asher Angel was cast as Billy: Freddy is going to get a lot more screen time than Billy.
And a new photo for the cover of EW, which is cringe worthy of where this movie is going.
Finally, a pic of Billy Batson (with Freddy Freeman) has been released.

Friday, June 15, 2018

D.J. Fontana, R.I.P.

Dominic Joseph "D.J." Fontana, Elvis Presley's long time drummer, passed away on June 13, 2018 at the age of 87. The trio of Elvis, Scotty Moore, and Bill Black met D.J. during their year-plus stint on the Louisiana Hayride radio program, where D.J. was a staff drummer.  He joined the group, which was informally known as "the Blue Moon Boys", and continued to play with Elvis until 1968.  Arguably the first rock 'n roll drummer, one of his best known drum fills is from Hound Dog.

Eternal rest grant unto him O Lord, let perpetual light shine upon him, may he rest in peace.

Wednesday, May 16, 2018

Review: Three Stooges Slaptastic Special

The latest issue of American Mythology's series of Three Stooges one-shots is once again by the standard team of writer S.A. Check and artists Brian and Brendan Fraim.  The first story has the Stooges entering the world of virtual reality. Even though it includes a cameo by Shemp, this type of "modernizing the Stooges" formula just does not work, and this story falls flat.  The second story has the boys as window washers on a skyscraper, and fares much better.  This story is classic, entertaining, and funny.   The issue's third story is a vintage reprint written and drawn by Moe's son-in-law Norman Mauer, featuring Shemp as the third Stooge, and is top notch. Overall, this issue earns a B-.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Shazam! wraps filming

Director David F. Sandberg announced filming on Shazam! has ended on May 11, 2018.  He also seemed somewhat confused as to why an official photo of Captain... Shazam has not yet been released.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

The Columbia "Blondie" film series

Recently, Turner Classic Movies aired the first six Blondie movies. Starring Arthur Lake as Dagwood, Penny Singleton as Blondie, Larry Simms as Baby Dumpling and Jonathan Hale as Mr. Dithers, these high quality films are a cornerstone of the family sitcom genre, and hold up very well, with classic comedy that is as funny today as it was in the 1930s and 40s.   It was great to see them on television again, but I'm disappointed TCM aired the edited TV prints. When AMC aired the Blondie film series about 15 years ago (back when AMC was an alternative to TCM and likewise didn't air commercials), many of the films were restored with the original Columbia titles and a couple minutes of footage edited out of the TV prints.


I hope Sony Pictures (Columbia's parent company) and King Features (or its parent company Hearst) will team up to restore all 28 Blondie movies to their original state, with the Columbia titles and missing footage restored, and release it in HD in a Blu-ray box set.

Icing on the cake would be to include bonus discs of all the episodes of the two short lived Blondie TV series from 1957 and 1968. The former with Arthur Lake reprising his role as Dagwood and Pamela Britton taking over the role of Blondie, included 27 episodes plus a pilot filmed in 1954 with Hal Leroy as Dagwood.
The latter was in color, and starred Will Hutchins as Dagwood, Patricia Hardy as Blondie, Jim Backus as Mr. Dithers, Pamelyn Ferdin as daughter Cookie, and had Bruce Lee as a guest star in one episode.  Only 14 episodes were produced.

 
And perhaps some extra bonus features could be Meet The Family, Arthur Lake's own 1954 Blondie-inspired pilot co-starring his real life wife and kids, and may be a few of Lake's silent two-reel shorts from the 1920s.

You can voice support for such a project by emailing Hearst/King Features at
kfs-public-relations@hearst.com
and Sony/Columbia at
consumer@SPHECustomerSupport.sony.com
and
SPE_Feedback@spe.sony.com