Saturday, December 24, 2016

MCU Fantastic Four Dreams

So with the Marvel Cinematic Universe gaining Spider-Man after his last solo movie at Sony underperformed, fans are asking when the Fantastic Four will come home to Marvel Studios.

Marvel licensed out the Fantastic Four to Constantin Film back in 1986 and has been kept out of Marvel's hands ever since. In order to retain their rights, Constantin commissioned producer Roger Corman to make a film on a shoestring budget that was set to be released in 1994. The film's release was cancelled and in order to extend their deal again, Constantin signed a new deal with 20th Century Fox, who would help them release a pair of Fantastic Four films in 2005 and 2007. The films made money, but didn't strike big with critics and the lower returns on the second film made Fox cancel plans for a third film and a Silver Surfer spinoff.

Fox announced they would reboot the series, but didn't get started until late 2014, when their option on the rights nearly expired. The 2015 Fantastic Four film strayed far from what fans expected for such a film and what audiences expected for a movie about a superhero team and wound up with a 9% rating on Rotten Tomatoes and was estimated to have lost the studio at least $80 million.

So, fans ask, after thirty years and four movies that can't be called masterpieces, isn't it time the rights went back? While there are rumors of Fox and Marvel working out a deal and news that the studios have cooperated recently, the only thing we can count on is the rights staying with Constantin and Fox until about 2022, unless Fox makes another film. My warning to fans is that unless Marvel announces the rights have been returned to them or they've worked out a deal, assume the rights are still with Fox and Constantin.

That said, until Fox decides to make a proper Fantastic Four movie or Marvel gets the right back, we can dream up our ideal film version of Marvel's first family.

First off, we need a cast that can embody the FF. For Reed Richards, previous versions have focused their casting on Reed being the brains of the group. However, in the classic comics, Reed is also a very attractive gentleman. So, my suggestion for a Reed who can be smart, attractive and heroic is Matt Bomer. Bomer's eyes can be very expressive and it's easy to imagine him getting lost in his work and forgetting previous engagements.
Also, he already has close scenes with Bruce Banner...

For Susan Storm, I suggest Kristen Bell. She looks the part and has a track record of playing indominatable female characters. She could easily be the one who has to remind Reed to shut off whatever he's working on and come actually interact with people, put Johnny in his place or listen to Reed while also kicking Doctor Doom's ass.

For Johnny, my main pick is Dylan Sprayberry. Despite a huge age difference between him and Kristen Bell, Johnny is supposed to be hot-headed, arrogant younger man. In the original comics, he was a teenager. Sprayberry is currently 18, and chances are, by the time a Fantastic Four movie would get rolling, he'd be a bit older. Still, I think he'd embody the character very well. Johnny should clearly be the youngest member of the group and should also be able to hold his own.

For Ben Grimm, I've been a little loose, but one I think could handle the role well is John Krasinski. Ben Grimm is an astronaut as well as a tough guy who happens to also be quite handsome. Of course, most of the time, we'll see Ben as The Thing, who has to deal with the fact that he doesn't look like a normal human being anymore. Not only do I think John could pull off Ben in human form, I think he could also portray the Thing with all the bravado, tenderness, tragedy, humor and gusto the character requires.

I'm not so dead set on the supporting cast. Alicia Masters, perhaps John Krasinski's real wife, Emily Blunt. Maybe if Taylor Lautner could bulk up a little, he could play Wyatt Wingfoot. The Mole Man, I think Johnny Galecki could handle the role. Just about any capable actor could play Uatu the Watcher, Galactus or the Silver Surfer.

For Doctor Doom, I had an idea where Victor could be much younger than Reed and instead of being a fellow student, he IS Reed's student as Reed lectures on the science he works in. For this version, he could be played by Matt Smith. However, for a more traditional Doctor Doom, get Luke Evans.

My idea for an MCU Fantastic Four trilogy would see the Fantastic Four's origin told briefly in the first film's opening moments, then scatter the team around so they have to come together when it's time to get on a task: Johnny is at college, Ben lives with his girlfriend Alicia, Reed works at the Baxter Building while Sue manages the business there.

In most of the comics and the first three film versions, the origin of the Fantastic Four has them go to space and have an accident when hit with cosmic radiation and they'd crash land back on earth and discover their new fantastic powers. The latest film version and the Ultimate Fantastic Four comics change it to Reed cracking teleportation to an alternate universe and his work gets noticed by the Baxter Foundation, who help develop it on a bigger scale. The human test teleportation meets with an accident, giving the FF their powers.

I think we should stick to the original origin in general, but update it. It was, of course, the space race back in 1961, but today, Reed would simply be trying to further space exploration more than ever before. Not only is this a simple way to update the classic origin, it's in line with what scientists are looking into doing right now.

The first two films would see the Fantastic Four face the Mole Man and Annihilus while building up to a big Doctor Doom story in the third film. HERBIE the robot could be retooled as a guidance system/AI robot in the spacecraft and become separate from it during the cosmic rays bombardment. HERBIE would be destroyed during the Annihilus story as it's revealed that his programming was scrambled by exposure to Negative Zone energy and was actually working to let the Negative Zone's creatures invade Earth.

Galactus and the Silver Surfer are also built up over the trilogy, but the threat they pose would be better served as a major Marvel team up event movie.

To close, I'd like to quote from an interview with one of the hosts of the Fanasticast, Andrew Leyland on "The FF are deceptively simple to get right: Reed is a two fisted genius in the Indiana Jones mold, constantly curious, always learning but not afraid to roll up his sleeves and punch somebody should the need arise. Ben is a hotshot fighter pilot with a heart of gold who suffered the greatest due to the cosmic rays and is therefore a very tragic figure. He’s a matinee idol trapped in a monster’s form. Johnny is the cocky jock teenager who probably reminds Ben of himself which is why they rub each other the wrong way. But they love each other like brothers. Sue is the glue that holds the team together. She’s Reed’s Wife, Johnny’s sister and Ben’s best friend as well as being a competent scientist in her own right and the head of FF Inc. She’s arguably the most powerful member of the team yet its most caring. Together they explore both inner and outer space, striving to push the boundaries of humanity’s knowledge whilst still arguing over whose turn it is to cook dinner. How is that not a winner?"

Thursday, December 8, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (12/6/2016 - 12/8/2016)

Supergirl, Gotham and Lucifer had their midseason finales last week. The remaining shows are having theirs this week.

The Flash - "The Present": Barry discovers where Savitar and Dr. Alchemy came from and enlists Jay Garrick of World 3 for help. Cisco sees visions of his dead brother Dante. Joe is concerned about Wally leaping into a superhero role. Barry has to confront Julian again.

Agents of SHIELD - "The Laws of Inferno Dynamics": Eli Morrow sets out to build a device that will ultimately destroy Los Angeles, but Robbie is hot on his trail. Aida's status as an LMD is revealed to the new director. Daisy is publicly revealed to be back in SHIELD. This episode sees Robbie leave the show for now for potential future storylines or a Ghost Rider spinoff. Stay tuned!

Arrow - "What We Leave Behind": Curtis' husband gets a major red flag about his husband's late night activities. Prometheus reveals himself to Oliver and leads him on a chase with a clear goal: to make Oliver wish he was dead.

Legends of Tomorrow - "The Chicago Way": The Legion of Doom (Reverse Flash, Damien Darhk and Malcolm Merlyn) make a deal with Al Capone in 1927 Chicago, creating a time aberration, leading the Legends to arrive to attempt to fix it. Although this does lead to an incapacitated Elliott Ness. Mick begins to see visions of Leonard Snart who encourages him to go back to villainy. The Legends have to face the Legion both on and off the Waverider.

So that wraps up our recaps until the shows start coming back in January. I'll try to write some more fun stuff until then. Peace!

Thursday, December 1, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (11/28/2016-12/1/2016)

Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow had a four-show crossover this week.

Supergirl - "Medusa": Cadmus produces a virus that can kill aliens. Alex comes out to her mother.

Gotham - "Beware the Green Eyed Monster": Jim realizes that Leslie's fiance has been infected with Alice Tetch's blood, only problem is, it's their wedding day. Eddie realizes that Oswald loves him and that he killed his girlfriend. Bruce, Alfred and Selina infiltrate the Court of Owls.

Lucifer - "Quid Pro Ho": Lucifer's mother has her sights turned on Chloe. Lucifer assists Chloe's mother with a murder trial.

The Flash - "Invasion": A spaceship crash lands on Earth, unleashing aliens called the Dominators. Barry rounds up the other heroes he knows: Green Arrow, Spartan, Speedy, the Legends, and Supergirl. Wally tries to get in on the team with his newly-granted super speed. Barry comes clean to everyone about Flashpoint, and a message from his future self puts a strain on the team. Not helping: the Dominators have a mind control device.

Agents of SHIELD - "Deals With Our Devils": As Robbie's uncle Eli Morrow manifests his new powers, Robbie, Coulson and Fitz find themselves stuck between dimensions, invisible and undetectable to everyone. Mack becomes the new Ghost Rider. Agent May launches an attempt to use the Darkhold to bring back Fitz and Coulson.

Arrow - "Invasion": The Dominators put Oliver and several of his close friends in pods that make them dream of a happy life where many of their loved ones are still alive and someone else is the Green Arrow. Cisco, Barry and Supergirl team up with Team Arrow to rescue Oliver and the others.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Invasion": Some of the Legends go back in time with Cisco and Felicity to investigate what happened to the Dominators last time they attacked Earth. Stein decides he needs to correct his timeline, even though that will erase a daughter he now has. The Dominators reveal that metahumans—especially Barry—are a threat. As the crossover comes to a conclusion, the collected heroes need all their abilities to end the threat of the Dominators once and for all.

Tuesday, November 22, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (11/21/2016-11/22/2016)

(Agents of SHIELD will be finishing its three week hiatus this week, Arrow and Legends of Tomorrow are taking the week off due to the Thanksgiving Holiday. All of them will be back next week.)

Gotham - "Time Bomb": Eddie decides Butch is responsible for Isabelle's death and sets out to take his revenge. Thanks to Ivy, Bruce, Selina and Alfred discover more about the Court of Owls. Jim decides to make his peace with Tabitha.

Supergirl - "The Darkest Place": Kara enters Cadmus to rescue Mon-El and faces a surprising villain in an enhanced individual. J'onn feels the effects of having White Martian blood in him. National City's new hero the Guardian is caught on video killing someone. Some very good twists and turns this week.

Lucifer - "Homewrecker": Lucifer gets his bar taken away from him. Chloe's investigations put her on the bad side of Lucifer's mom.

The Flash - "Killer Frost": After helping Barry fight Savitar, Kaitlin begins turning into Killer Frost, taking on a sinister personality. Joe wants to get Wally out of a cocoon Dr. Alchemy put him in. Cisco learns more about Flashpoint.

Thursday, November 17, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (11/14/2016 - 11/17/2016)

Supergirl - "Changing": Mon-El begins training with Kara. Alex comes out to Kara. The DEO investigates a parasitic alien found in the Arctic. James and Winn unleash a new hero on National City.

Gotham - "The Executioner": Ivy reveals her new, older form to Selina as she needs help returning goods she stole. Jim investigates the now very violent Barnes. (Written with help from my brother Drew.)

Lucifer - "Trip to Stabby Town": Lucifer discovers an angel's blade has been unearthed by a human and is being used to commit murders. He has to enlist his mother's help in finding it.

The Flash - "Shade": Wally has dreams of his Flashpoint identity as Kid Flash, hinting that he's being targeted by Dr. Alchemy. Caitlin reveals her Frost powers to her team mates. "HR" proposes a museum to help conceal STAR Labs' association with The Flash.

Arrow - "Vigilante": A vigilante not connected with Team Arrow has been killing criminals in Star City. Quentin Lance quits his role of deputy mayor. Now Team Arrow has someone else to track down.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Outlaw Country": The Legends pop back to the Old West where they meet Jonah Hex once again to fight an outlaw who has the use of futuristic technology.
This week's bonus is a short made about 1992-1994. Produced by a special effects company, The Silver Surfer was made as proof of concept that the character could be put onscreen with CGI. Surprisingly, it's one of the first Marvel-based productions with a post-credits scene. It can be viewed on YouTube.

Thursday, November 10, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (11/7/2016 - 11/10/2016)

The Flash and Agents of SHIELD took a break this week, not least of reasons being that their usual night was election night and people would be more likely to watch election results.

Supergirl - "Crossfire": Kara attempts to help Mon-El enter normal society by helping him get a job at Cat Co. Except there's a culture clash going on. Alex makes a major personal decision. Project Cadmus equips a gang with anti-gravity and disintegration rifles. James Olsen decides he needs to step up as a hero.

Gotham - "Blood Rush": Commissioner Barnes begins to give into the blood lust given him by Alice's blood. Oswald decides to deal with Eddie's new girlfriend, who sets him off with her resemblance to the ex he murdered back in Season 1. Jim settles back into the GCPD.

Lucifer - "My Little Monkey": Lucifer attempts to try a new style by shadowing another detective on the force. Mazikeen finds new employment.

Arrow - "So It Begins": Prometheus begins a series of murders that serve as a coded message to Oliver. The new Team Arrow is finally beginning to operate as a group. Thea discovers that Quentin has become an alcoholic. Felicity steals evidence from the police department (and her new boyfriend) in an attempt to discover the identity of Prometheus.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Compromised": Traveling to the 1980s, the Legends have to face off against Damian Darhk again as he tries to interrupt a peace treaty being signed at the White House. Martin Stein has yet another encounter with his younger self as both Vixen and Ray try to figure out their identities as heroes.

As the review bonus is a Doctor Strange double feature. While Marvel's Sorcerer Supreme may have only just hit theaters, the character has already been a star of two other productions and was going to lead a feature film in the early 1990s. I'm not reviewing that last one, but I'll speak about it. Doctor Mordrid (1992) was initially going to be a Doctor Strange movie, and would have joined The Punisher, Captain America, and Roger Corman's Fantastic Four (if it had been released) in an attempt to bring the Marvel heroes to the big screen and make them household names. As it turned out, Fox's Saturday morning cartoons were more effective for doing that.

Full Moon Features produced Doctor Mordrid, reworking their plans for a Doctor Strange film after their option for such a film expired. Doctor Strange would have aimed for PG, but without a license from Marvel, the resulting movie went for a hard R with a reported overuse of profanity and an inexplicable nude female scene. There are entertaining scenes with animated animal skeletons fighting. The end result wound up being unlike Doctor Strange with a mystical sorcerer who crosses to our dimension to fight an evil wizard. Anyone interested can check out video reviews that use clips from the movie, and it's also available on DVD and Blu-Ray.

The first solo Doctor Strange project was a television movie released in 1978. At this time, it seems CBS was attempting a live action Marvel TV universe with their famous Incredible Hulk TV show, the short-lived Amazing Spider-Man TV show, a pair of Captain America movies, and this Dr. Strange TV movie, recently released to DVD by Shout Factory with a handsome remaster.

The CBS/Marvel TV universe would later expand with Daredevil and Thor appearing in Hulk reunion movies, although these were aired by NBC. Apparently, CBS planned live action movies featuring The Human Torch and The Sub-Mariner, but these never came to pass. All of these TV movies were basically test pilots for TV shows. I'll repeat myself and say that only The Amazing Spider-Man and The Incredible Hulk became shows.

Dr. Strange is one of those adaptations that are loosely based on the original source material. Stephen Strange (Peter Hooten) is a doctor here, and we see him working with patients, but no indication that he's a great surgeon. Furthermore, he's never in an accident that forces him to leave the work he does. The plot follows Morgan LeFay (Jessica Walter) coming to do away with the Sorcerer Supreme Lindmer (John Mills) or his successor. Lindmer knows his time is coming to a close and tasks his assistant Wong (Clyde Kusatsu) to find Stephen Strange. The movie is all about how Stephen becomes a sorcerer, with very little time of him in an iconic costume for comic fans to enjoy.

Interesting one for the diehard fans of live action Marvel, but casual fans, give it a pass.

There have been several animated versions of Doctor Strange, but the only one to have him as the lead character, 2007's direct to video animated movie, Doctor Strange: The Sorcerer Supreme. This one is considered the best of that bunch of animated Marvel films.

It serves as an origin story, but now with several sorcerers appearing in New York chasing monsters that have escaped the Dark Dimension. Strange's story focuses mainly on how he's humbled, then grows into a sorcerer as he learns from the Ancient One, facing Mordo and Dormammu.

The movie has that simplified, anime-flavored animation style, and a bit of that good old dialogue stilt. Otherwise, it's a very fine film. It's available on Blu-Ray, DVD and digital video.

Thursday, November 3, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/31/2016 - 11/3/2016)

Supergirl - "Survivors": As Kara and Winn help Mon-El learn what he can and can't do, Alex, Hank, Maggie and Kara investigate a bartender's actual identity as a female Martian and work on busting an alien fight club.

Gotham - "Red Queen": Jim gets drugged by Jervis Tetch and has a bad trip and hallucinates a lot. Oswald gets cockblocked because Eddie found a new girl. Also the Court of Owls continues plotting some more. And Jervis Tetch drains his sister's corpse's blood. Just... what the hell is this show anymore?

Lucifer - "Monster": As Lucifer and Detective Decker investigate the murder of a bride at a zombie-themed wedding, Lucifer gets rather unstable, acting very erratically. Mazikeen takes Decker's daughter trick-or-treating.

The Flash - "Monster": Caitlin sees her mother to learn more about her cold-generating powers as a giant monster threatens Central City. Barry moves in with Cisco as the team learns more about the new Harrison Wells they've brought from "Earth 19." Barry manages to connect with coworker Julian a bit more.

Agents of SHIELD - "The Good Samaritan": As we prepare for a multi-week break, we learn how Robbie became Ghost Rider as the new director wants to question him. We also learn where these ghosts came from. Fitz discovers a link to the final season of Agent Carter. Robbie fights the new director of SHIELD, revealing his Ghost Rider identity to his little brother. Things aren't looking too good...

Arrow - "Human Target": Tobias Church orders a hit on the mayor, but Oliver—with help from one Christopher Chance—uses this chance to smoke him out. Oliver also has problems with the press. Oliver's secret identity gets leaked to the wrong people.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Abominations": Wow, I never expected them to crossover with Gotham. Okay, okay, just kidding... A zombie virus from the future infects soldiers during the Civil War, as well as Mick Rory. Ray and Dr. Stein stay on board the Waverider to find a cure while the other Legends deal with zombified soldiers and slavery. Actually, a very good and solid episode.

Two movie reviews this week!

Batman: Return of the Caped Crusaders: A direct to video animated feature celebrating the 50th anniversary of the famous 1966 Batman TV series, complete with the surviving cast (Adam West as Batman, Burt Ward as Robin and Julie Newmar as Catwoman) returning to voice their respective characters, with soundalike voice actors filling in for the rest.

The Joker, the Riddler, the Penguin and Catwoman steal a Replica Ray for their nefarious deeds. During the events of the adventure—which takes the wackiest and best of the classic TV show and in some cases dials it up to 11—Catwoman infects Batman with a drug to turn him evil. It doesn't quite work as she expected, though.

The transformation of the world of the 1966 show into animation is done very respectfully, though with some liberties—the sound effect pop up words no longer have a solid color background behind them, Comissioner Gordon now has his signature mustache and glasses, unlike the live action TV version—but if you're familiar with the classic TV show, there are Easter Eggs galore.

Thumbs up to the writers, animators and cast, I'm looking forward to the sequel!

Doctor Strange: The latest entry in the Marvel Cinematic Universe introduces a mystical side to the world we've seen in the past 13 movies. After sustaining lasting damage to his hands, skilled surgeon and arrogant cynic Stephen Strange (Benedict Cumberbatch) cannot return to his practice. He's led to a mysterious place in Kathmandu, Nepal where he meets the Ancient One (Tilda Swinton) who begins training him to be a sorcerer. While Strange quickly find allies in Wong (Benedict Wong) and Karl Mordo (Chiwetel Ejiofor), he finds his training interrupted by the rogue sorcerer Kaecilius (Mads Mikkelsen) and his attempts to remove the mystical protection of earth so the Dread Dormammu can plunge Earth into the Dark Dimension.

Visually, Doctor Strange works. As a story, it takes one of Marvel's lesser known characters and creates a good story around them, as they've basically been doing with most of the MCU since Iron Man. By and large, it works very well. Examining it more as a standalone, some typical issues with Marvel films will turn up. Smaller characters (especially Rachel McAdams' Christine Palmer) seem underserved, but this is because Marvel usually plans to do two or three movies with these characters and have them take part in other films. While some will take issue with it, I can't call it a flaw because it's what the creative team decided on.

Acting, well, Marvel picked a fantastic cast for the film, just about the only thing is Benedict Cumberbatch's American accent. I don't think it was done badly, but being a fan of Sherlock, The Hobbit, The Imitation Game and other things he's been in, it's a little strange to hear a very different voice come out of him. One scene struck me as him sounding very off.

I plan to see it again before it leaves theaters, and yes, there is the now-standard mid-credits and post-credits scenes to stick around for!

Thursday, October 27, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/24/16-10/27/16)

Supergirl - "Welcome to Earth": As the mysterious man in a Kryptonian pod (Chris Wood) breaks out, Supergirl helps protect the president (Lynda Carter) from an alien attack. Is the runaway mystery man to blame? Is it someone else? At work, Kara has to write an article about aliens living on earth and has conflicting opinions with Snapper Carr. Maggie Sawyer (Floriana Lima) reveals a bar for aliens to Alex and the DEO.

Gotham - "Follow the White Rabbit": Jarvis Tetch (the Mad Hatter) leads Jim Gordon a deadly chase that kills several bystanders and forces Jim to choose between the two of the women in his life. Meanwhile, gosh, are the Penguin and the Riddler about to hook up? Because that's basically what it's looking like. Or else they're playing with us again.

Lucifer - "Weaponizer": Lucifer's keeping a close eye on his friend Detective Decker as he feels sure God is trying to put her in situations that will lead to her death. The appearance of angel Uriel (Michael Imperioli) certainly doesn't seem to dissuade that concept...

The Flash - "The New Rogues": Sam Scudder (Grey Damon) finally emerges after disappearing after Season 1's pivotal particle accelerator explosion with the ability to create wormholes through mirrors and other reflective surfaces. He joins with Rosa Dillon (Ashley Rickards), and they become Mirror Master and the Top. However, it turns out part of his powers can trap Barry in a mirror. Jesse Quick learns to better hone her powers.

Agents of SHIELD - "Lockup": The Darkholm book is found, and not by SHIELD or Ghost Rider. Robbie storms a prison with Quake, Coulson and Mack. Meanwhile the new director of SHIELD clarifies his stance on Inhumans by revealing that he is one to the public.

Arrow - "Penance": Oliver goes to break Diggle out of jail, Ragman confronts Felicity. Oliver still can't get the new Team Arrow in line with his attitude.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Shogun": After Nate discovers he can turn into a strong metal man, he and Ray get thrown back in time in ancient Japan. Vixen joins the Legends. A cruel shogun steals the Atom suit and Nate has to learn how to harness his powers to get it back and defeat the shogun who plans to kill the woman who kindly assists the Legends. But wait, shouldn't this be a team effort?

Bonus. Continuing with old productions based on Marvel comics, this week is the pilot to the cancelled Power Pack TV show. Admittedly, I'm not familiar with the comic versions of Power Pack. They're a group of young kids—two brothers and two sisters—who have superpowers, and originally operated without their parents' knowledge.

This TV pilot foreshadows later Marvel productions by not giving the kids their costumes, and in this version, the parents know about their powers and encourage them to keep them secret. When one of the kids brings home an item from a "haunted house" he visits with a couple classmates, strange events happen all around town. It's up to the Power Pack to return the item and put everything right.

This apparently aired on Fox as a TV special during Saturday mornings. For what it is, it's pretty enjoyable, and it's almost too bad a series didn't ensue, though the nature of having it star children was likely something the producers were glad to not have to deal with. Perhaps there will be a Power Pack movie eventually, though with the use of children, maybe this would be best as an animated property.

Thursday, October 20, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/17/16-10/20/16)

Before we start the TV recaps, here's a little movie review!

So, what was the first Marvel feature film to hit theaters? And no, the Captain America movie serial doesn't count. That honor goes to Howard the Duck, produced by Lucasfilm and released in 1986. They initially planned to make this an animated film, but because Lucas was contractually required to produce a live action film for his distributor, the production crew had to figure out how to put Marvel's most cartoony character in front of a camera. The movie was recently released to Blu-Ray, and finding it in a discount bin, I decided to try it out.

Howard (voiced by Chip Zien) lives on a world of anthropomorphic ducks when he's suddenly pulled from his home by a mysterious laser beam and brought to Earth. He meets Beverly Switzler (Lea Thompson), the lead singer of a band, which he winds up becoming the new manager of. A friend helps them match Howard to the science lab that made the laser beam, where they learn another test has brought a dangerous being called the Dark Overlord of the Universe to Earth, and he wants to bring the rest of his kind, and they will eliminate all other life.

Going in expecting a weird, goofy movie that isn't quite the best (your reputation precedes you, Howard), the movie really wasn't bad. It was pretty enjoyable, actually. Just get over seeing a female duck without a bra and Beverly finding a condom in Howard's wallet. It's a goofy, wacky movie and one of those that has to be seen to be believed.

Nerd bonus: the opening of the movie actually explains the multiverse concept.

Supergirl - "The Last Children of Krypton": As Superman concludes his visit to National City, the newly-risen Metallo strikes. Cat Grant turns her office over to Snapper Carr (Ian Gomez) as she takes leave of her company. Kara considers a major shakeup in her life, which upsets Alex (Chyler Leigh) before the two sisters decide what family really means. Supergirl has completed its move to the CW and it's as good as ever.

Gotham - "Anything for You": As a gang called the Red Hoods begins to terrorize Gotham, Penguin goes to any lengths to stop them. Eddie begins investigating with the GCPD again. Bruce and Jim take their search for Ivy to Selina. Alice's blood appears to be a bigger concern than you'd think.

Lucifer - "Lady Parts": As yet another crime is investigated, Lucifer's police partner forms a group of fellow lady friends, which includes Mazikeen.

The Flash - "Magenta": Dr. Alchemy is turning people into the super-powered versions of themselves they were in the Flashpoint timeline. New one? Magenta (Joey King). And she's determined to kill her foster father with her metal-controlling powers. Meanwhile, Harrison Wells (Tom Cavanaugh) and his daughter Jesse (Violett Beane) visit from Earth-2 to help Jesse get her recently-emerged super speed under control. Wally—who was in the same incident that gave Jesse her powers—tries to get his own super speed to show up with no luck. Barry and Iris try to have a date with each other.

Agents of SHIELD - "Let Me Stand Next To Your Fire": Daisy and Jemma team up to find Hellfire, while Robbie Reyes/Ghost Rider teams up with Coulson and Mack to find some information about a mysterious book the ghostly entities at SHIELD are also interested in. Agent May recovers from her near death with the help of Fitz.

Arrow - "A Matter Of Trust": Diggle is sent to jail and meets a live Deadshot, his cellmate. The new Team Arrow continues their training. Thea tries to fix a blunder in announcing Quentin Lance as deputy mayor by causing even worse talk in the media. Drug dealer Derek Sampson (Cody Rhodes) is made immune to pain and super strong after falling into a chemical after getting shot, so he plans even bigger crimes. Oliver has to re-evaluate his leadership methods once again.

Legends of Tomorrow - "The Justice Society of America": After completing a mission in 1942, the Legends encounter the Justice Society of America, who tell them to leave their time, only for the Legends to discover that the Justice Society was now wiped out thanks to changes in history. Dr. Stein (Victor Garber) takes command of the Waverider. Sara discovers that Nate is a hemophiliac. The Legends return to help the JSA defeat some Nazis. During the combat, Ray Palmer (Brandon Routh) and Vixen (Maisie Richardson-Sellers) are captured but manage to steal some super serum.

Thursday, October 13, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap (10/10/16-10/13/16)

Luke Cage - Episodes 5-13: The previous recap looks way outdated now as I finish watching this series. The first episodes had a slow start, setting up Luke (Mike Colter) and his world. Then the plot really gets going with some twists, and it's a wild ride from there, celebrating and commenting on the African American experience in America, a very smart update of the character from the comics, and the best use of Rosario Dawson's Claire Temple (a recurring character in the Marvel Netflix shows) so far, and an engaging Misty Knight played by Simone Missick.

Supergirl - "The Adventures of Supergirl": After crossing over to a new network, Supergirl begins restructuring itself with a job change for Winn Schott (Jeremy Jordan), a sweet farewell to Cat Grant (Calista Flockheart), a new job for Kara Danvers/Supergirl (Melissa Benoist), a new character in Lena Luthor (Katie McGrath), a mysterious arrival in a Kryptonian space pod, a menacing new villain, and a special guest star role by Kara's cousin, Clark Kent/Superman (Tyler Hoechlin). A very enjoyable Season 2 opener!

Lucifer - "Sin-Eater": Lucifer (Tom Ellis) and Detective Decker (Lauren German) investigate a couple grisly murders as Amenadiel (D.B. Woodside) and Mazikeen (Lesley-Ann Brandt) deal with Lucifer's mother (Tricia Helfer) now living on Earth.

Gotham - "Mad City: New Day Rising": The Mad Hatter plot seems to reach a tragic climax. Eddie discovers that Oswald is trying to buy the election and sabotages this dishonesty, but Oswald wins anyway. After having an "adventure" with Selina "Five" (Bruce's doppleganger) is taken in by "The Court."

The Flash - "Paradox": Barry discovers that the effects of "Flashpoint" are reaching further than he thought. Iris is upset with Barry, Cisco's brother Dante died, Barry has a new coworker (Tom Felton) who distrusts him, and several other little changes. Jay Garrick appears and tells Barry he can't fix everything. The Rival from the Flashpoint world reappears as Barry faces him.

Agents of SHIELD - "Uprising": Agent May nearly dies after her mysterious illness. Daisy becomes acquainted with Robbie Reyes' wheelchair-bound brother Gabe as it appears a group of Inhumans shuts down power to major cities, allowing criminal action to go by undetected. SHIELD is revealed to the public to be active again.

Arrow - "The Recruits": Oliver's (Stephen Amell) attempts at training a new team leaves a lot to be desired as he focuses more on breaking them down than building them up, so he has to refine his method. Meanwhile, John Diggle's army service is less than ideal. Also, a new villain with a link to Oliver's past reveals himself to the Green Arrow.

Legends of Tomorrow - "Out of Time": The Legends (a group of former supporting characters from Arrow and The Flash) are out to fix time, going back to stop the machinations of Damian Darhk in World War II, meeting Albert Einstein along the way. To stop a nuke, Rip Hunter (Arthur Darvill) scatters the team throughout history and seemingly sacrifices himself, leaving Heatwave (Dominic Purcell) in stasis on board the Waverider, where a future Oliver Queen and time traveler Nate Heywood (Nick Zano) revives him and set out to find the team.

Bonus entry: Doomed! The Untold Story of Roger Corman's The Fantastic Four. A year ago, I wrote about my love for Marvel's Fantastic Four franchise, and here's a new documentary about a mysterious part of it: the 1994 Fantastic Four movie. The movie was filmed on a tight schedule, edited, scored, special effects (such as they were) finished, and the cast had extensively promoted it. And then, the plug was pulled. The film was commissioned to be made on a shoestring budget to maintain the film rights for Constantin Film. A VHS of the film leaked and floated around the bootleg circuit and now is widely available online for free viewing.

The movie—when its limitations are taken into consideration—is actually not that bad. There's a clear love for the source material and a drive to make a good movie certainly present. Its limitations are certainly in the forefront, with no time to refine the script, not a lot of time for reshoots, no access to the best digital effects, and audio issues that included a lack of re-recording. But still, it's a surprisingly enjoyable movie, even if it's largely laughable.

This documentary interviews the cast and crew of the film who tell us all about the creation of the film up through its promotion, its surprise cancelled release and then successful afterlife as a bootleg. It contains clips of the film, a little bit of behind the scenes footage and photos, views of magazines and articles covering the film, all putting together as complete a story as they can.

Certainly worth a watch, there will be a physical home media release in December.

Wednesday, October 5, 2016

Superhero Shows Recap

As we get into the main TV season, the superhero TV shows I enjoy are coming back. The CW features several shows based on DC comics: Supergirl, The Flash, Arrow, and Legends of Tomorrow, which all share a continuity, and iZombie, which is based on a title published by DC Comics imprint Vertigo. DC's Gotham is on Fox as well as Lucifer, also based on a Vertigo title.

Marvel's TV presence is right now represented by ABC's Agents of SHIELD. Agent Carter sadly didn't get renewed for a third season. Legion, Cloak and Dagger and a series based on the X-Men will be joining them. Also Netflix's Marvel originals Daredevil, Jessica Jones, Luke Cage and the upcoming Iron Fist, The Punisher and The Defenders are also around.

Which do I watch? ALL OF THEM.

So, here's my recaps of all of the shows so far as the DC shows on the CW come back.

Gotham - "Better to Reign in Hell...," "Burn the Witch," "Look Into My Eyes": Gotham is the oddest show as it follows young versions of Batman's James Gordon, nearly all the villains and even a young Bruce Wayne being cared for his butler Alfred. Frankly, it's also the least-regarded DC show. The show gives us engaging villains and uninteresting protagonists who are frankly no better than the villains. My personal favorites are what I've dubbed the "Murder Bros," Oswald Cobblepot and Eddie Nygma, better known as the Penguin and the Riddler.

Basically, Season 3 of Gotham has the city in an uproar as a resurrected Fish Mooney and enhanced people from Arkham Asylum begin striking the city. One of them ages up "Ivy," Bruce is trying to figure out who's really running Wayne Enterprises as a boy identical to him shows up. Oswald calls for justice and begins running for mayor. James is currently not working with the GCPD and is hunting down the escapees from Arkham as a bounty hunter. In the latest episode, he runs into Gotham's terrifying hypnotic version of the Mad Hatter who wants to find his sister Alice.

I'm not holding out much hope for Gotham's ratings as Supergirl Season 2 debuts on the CW next week. Generally, Gotham paints some nice characters we want to see Batman interact with, but Batman isn't around in this universe yet. Most episodes are otherwise unremarkable. If there's one show I'd be fine with going away, it'd be Gotham.

Agents of SHIELD - "The Ghost" and "Meet the New Boss": Daisy Johnson/Quake is hiding out from SHIELD in the Los Angeles area when she discovers gang members being killed by a mysterious man in a flaming car, who she discovers to be Robbie Reyes, who turns into the flaming skull entity known as Ghost Rider. After some clashing with each other, Daisy and Robbie decide to team up.

Meantime, Coulson and the rest of the SHIELD team are dealing with a new director. Leo Fitz is secretly helping keep a new lifelike artificial intelligence android (LMDs: Life Model Decoys) under wraps as its further developed.

Meantime, agent Melinda May gets infected and begins seeing ghostly visions that confuse her.

SHIELD can drag, but Season Four is off to a good start. Hopefully with the inclusion of Ghost Rider, we're in for a more memorable season.

Lucifer - "Everything's Coming Up Lucifer" and "Liar, Liar, Slutty Dress on Fire": Lucifer is literally about the Devil taking a vacation in Los Angeles and helping the police department solve murders. Meantime, he's also keeping tab with an angel from heaven. Season 2 finds Lucifer's mother coming to earth, which has proved to be an entertaining plotline.

The strength of Lucifer is how well it develops a character based on who's supposed to be the most evil entity ever, but this character is extremely likeable and has problems and is someone you can relate to. Otherwise, it's mainly a regular "solve a murder each week" show.

The Flash - "Flashpoint": The Flash is probably the most fun superhero show on, period. Most takes on grounding superheroes in a believable setting steer it away from how wacky comics can be. The Flash manages to ground its characters, but still go exceptionally comic book as it follows Barry Allen as he gains super speed and becomes the hero known as the Flash.

After going back in time and saving his mother from being killed, Barry finds the present altered. Wally West is now the Flash, his sister Iris is no longer Barry's love interest but an all but total stranger to Barry, Joe West has little drive anymore, Cisco Ramon is a billionaire instead of a STAR Labs employee (but still inventive as ever), and other team member Caitlin is a simple doctor. While Barry's life is fine, are his friends' lives any better? Barry is forced to make a difficult choice: let Eobard Thawne murder his mother and restore the timeline, or let this new Flashpoint universe become the norm?

Arrow - "Legacy": Arrow, the first of the current batch of CW superhero shows, follows Oliver Queen as he takes on the mantle of the Green Arrow and the other people who become heroes along with him. It stays very grounded (even when dealing with some more comic book-style plots). It has borrowed a little bit from Batman mythos (season 3 even featured Batman villain R'as Al Ghul), but very much found its own identity.

Season 5 finds Oliver balancing his life as mayor of Star City and life as the Green Arrow. However, it becomes clear that the fight against crime needs to strengthen, and Oliver begins to decide he needs to recruit more heroes to fight crime in the city.

Luke Cage - Episodes 1-4 (so far): This show follows Luke Cage in the Marvel Cinematic Universe version of Harlem. The Netflix shows have a more mature tone than the popular Marvel films, taking time to flesh out the characters and more gritty violence and intense character moments than you'd find in the movies, taking advantage of what being a Netflix original can offer with little FCC control and much more time than a movie can offer.

Luke Cage works and lives in Harlem, which is under gang warfare, not helped by "Cottonmouth." Cage's origins are also explored. It's a very character-rich experience and well-reccomended.

See you next week with more recaps as Supergirl and Legends of Tomorrow return for their second seasons.

Monday, September 26, 2016

The Revival of Disney Animation

If you ask about the big names in animation, you will assuredly hear the name "Disney" come up. And why not? Studio founder Walt Disney began as an animator who created the first cartoon with synchronized sound, using sound to punctuate the visual gags in the cartoon. Walt is also credited with the first color cartoon, though that honor may actually go to Ub Iwerks, who was a one-time colleague of Walt who opened up his own studio. It is also not exactly true that Walt created the first full-length animated feature film as there were others preceding it, notably The Adventures of Prince Achmed, but Walt was the first to use multiplane color cel animation for the entire time in 1937's Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs.

Regardless of what Walt actually did first, the Disney animation brand quickly became synonymous with innovation. Many of Walt's follow up animated feature films would use new styles and techniques in animation, creating visuals too difficult to create with live action at the time.

During the 1940s, the studio quickly petered out, creating package films containing extended shorts or even two shorter subjects packaged together as a feature film. It was not until Cinderella in 1950 that the studio clearly went back on track with animated films that delighted audiences and critics and were financially successful. If Cinderella had flopped, Disney would have been pressured to close.

Disney animated films became a staple during the 1950s with a new film every few years, but the Disney company began branching out into television and live action film. Walt wanted to tell stories, and explored several avenues to do them. So after his death in the 60s, the animated features by Disney clearly began to lose their way. There were some fun ideas, such as an all-animal cast for Robin Hood, or a retelling of Oliver Twist now told through modern stray animals in New York City. But it was becoming clear that these films weren't doing that well compared to other fare and Disney was even considering closing the animation department and moved them off the lot.

The animation department was generally replaced with new animators who wanted to bring prestige back to the name of Disney animation. They dusted off two fairy tales Walt Disney had conceived as possible animated films, the first one being The Little Mermaid released in 1989. The film brought concentrated storytelling to the tale and Broadway-caliber music.

The story was very different from its source material, in which the mermaid kills herself when she fails to make the Prince fall in love with her. In this case, Disney needed something that would resound with audiences and draw them into wonder and an ending that ended tragically for our main character simply wouldn't do. Lyricist Howard Ashman was instrumental in reinventing the story as a Broadway show. The movie was a big hit for Disney, reinvigorating Disney animation, setting off an ongoing series of annual animated films (broken only in 2006 so far).

Disney's next animated feature would be the less than warmly received The Rescuers Down Under, but the big follow up to The Little Mermaid would be Beauty and the Beast, also envisioned in a similar vein and recently reissued to Blu-Ray and digital streaming. It also differed from its original source, creating a more streamlined version of the story.

The original version had the titular Beauty character (who Disney named Belle) with several siblings, her widower father was a down on his luck merchant. Disney made Belle a single child and her father was an inventor. Instead of having Belle's father trade her for his freedom, she chooses to stay in his place. In the original, the Beast asks Beauty to marry him day after day. Disney had them have a very antagonistic relationship at first, then begin to befriend each other once Belle tries to flee and Beast saves her from wolves that attack her.

A number of people criticize Disney's Beauty and the Beast for romanticizing Stockholm Syndrome, which has a prisoner learn to love their captor because there's no one else around. But I must respectfully disagree. Belle is not easily swayed, looking beyond outer appearances. She rejects suitor/villain Gaston despite his attractive appearance because she recognizes he's selfish and conceited. She chooses to return to the castle with the Beast even though he yelled at her and nearly struck her because she begins to realize there's something more to him as he fights off the wolves rather than trying to recapture her. (Some fans even interpret this as a suicide attempt by the Beast.) As time goes on, Belle and the Beast interact with each other, begin reading, and finally, when she finds out her father is lost trying to rescue her from the Beast, the Beast lets her go. (The original story had the Beast allow her to take a visit that she overstays.) The story is about how the Beast suddenly stops devolving into a monster and begins to change into a human again inside before the curse on him is finally broken and he regains his human form. Belle has simply remained true to who she is, not realizing that the Beast is her Prince Charming until "chapter three" (the third act of the story).

Aladdin was the follow up to Beauty and the Beast. Although Howard Ashman had worked on early development on this one and written three songs, he'd died before Beauty and the Beast was completed. Still, Aladdin works quite well as a final piece of a trilogy with The Little Mermaid and Beauty and the Beast. It again streamlined the original story, cutting the genie of the ring and Aladdin's mother, now emphasizing Aladdin romancing a princess.

These films issued in what is called the Disney Renaissance, and while it continued with The Lion King, Pocahontas and The Hunchback of Notre Dame and (arguably) other films, these first three certainly have some shared elements between them that make the three work as a whole.

The most prominent characters in all three films are the heroines (or hero, in the case of Aladdin), their love interests and the villains. The heroines of all three movies are what push their own story. Ariel the Little Mermaid boldly investigates the Surface World and later bargains to be with Eric. Belle goes to find her missing father herself and volunteers to stay imprisoned in his place, and later decides to warn the Beast when Gaston goes to attack the castle. Jasmine is dissatisfied with simply being a princess to be married off to a rich prince and sneaks out of the palace to live like a normal person and later even questions the boy she did fall for when he reappears as a prince.

Similarly, the heroes of the movies are no slouches. Eric defeats Ursula. The Beast is the one who has to learn to love Belle, defending her and his home, even making the choice to let Gaston live, telling him simply to leave. Aladdin (of course, being the title character) actively defends Jasmine, then carefully makes his way through the Cave of Wonders before becoming a prince, wooing Jasmine and finally giving up his dream to live in a palace simply to save Agrabah from Jafar and fulfilling his promise to the Genie.

Another element to the three films are sidekicks, and even the villains have them. Flounder the fish, Sebastian the Jamaican crab and Skuttle the seagull all assist Ariel, while Eric has his dog Max and Ursula is assisted by two eels, Flotsam and Jetsam. The Beast and Belle are assisted by people transformed into objects, most prominently Lumiere the candelabra, Cogsworth the clock, Mrs. Potts the teapot and Chip the teacup, Belle's father Maurice has Phillipe the horse and Gaston has his buffoon friend Lefou. Aladdin has Abu the monkey, the mute magic carpet, the wisecracking and flamboyant Genie (voiced by Robin Williams), Jasmine has Rajah the tiger and Jafar has Iago the parrot (voiced by Gilbert Gottfried, the character would become an ally of Aladdin in later spinoffs).

Howard Ashman
All three of the films are very musical, thanks very much to Howard Ashman's influence. Settings and characters are established through song ("Part Of Your World," "Belle," "One Jump Ahead"), grand midway-point numbers ("Under the Sea," "Be Our Guest," "Friend Like Me"), romantic numbers ("Kiss The Girl," "Something There" and "Beauty and the Beast," "A Whole New World"). Even the villains get into the singing with "Poor Unfortunate Souls," "Gaston" and "The Mob Song," while Jafar sings a reprise of "Prince Ali." (He would get a song to himself in the direct to video sequel The Return of Jafar.)

Despite the similarities, each film has its own identity and story. Many of the similarities are based on previous Disney films, where Snow White had the Dwarfs and her animal friends, Cinderella had her helpful mice, and Aurora had the three good fairies looking out for her. In the terms of love interests, these films improve on the former by actually fleshing out Eric, the Beast and Jasmine, while we only got a brief appearance by Snow White's prince, just a few glimpses and a dance with Cinderella's prince, while Prince Philip had more of an active presence than Aurora. But when it came to music, few Disney movies before or after these three integrated it so well. Frozen comes pretty close, though.

These three films were certainly among my favorites as a child, although now that I realize Howard Ashman was gay and so am I, I do have to wonder if it was more than great songs, good storytelling and dazzling animation that appealed to me. Maybe the themes in each of people wanting and then earning more than what their lot in life gave them was a wish fulfillment parable. Some even interpret the Beast's devolving into a monster as a parable for Ashman's battle with AIDS. Although these movies do not feature openly queer characters (a fair number of characters are given no romantic interests at all, so who can say?) and the pairings are all heterosexual, none of them feature people falling in love the way tradition suggests. Ariel's marriage bridges two species, the enchanted Prince and Jasmine find their love interests in common people. Belle recognizes the humanity in someone who doesn't appear human. Ursula was inspired by drag queen Divine, the Wardrobe attacks and puts an attacking villager in drag (his rejection of being dressed as a female causes him to scream and run away), and the Genie adopts a few female personas, and even flirts with Aladdin during the song "Friend Like Me." ("I'm on the job, you big nabob!")

As I said, Beauty and the Beast has recently been reissued to Blu-Ray and digital. It had been released to Blu-Ray before in a 2-disc Blu-Ray Diamond Edition with extensive bonuses as well as a DVD copy of the movie. It was later reissued with a 3D disc and a digital copy. This new Signature Edition release only has one disc with the movie and a number of newly produced bonuses, but none as indepth as anything found on the 2-disc Diamond Edition. However, nearly all of the previous bonus features were ported to the digital copy, which comes free with the Blu-Ray. Owners of the limited 3D edition who redeemed their digital copy and signed it into Disney Movies Anywhere got a free upgrade. The new bonuses aren't simply fluff, but pale in comparison to the previous set. The movie's presentation, however, is more or less the same, the new disc having a slightly higher bit rate. If you're into bonus features and prefer them on disc, I'd suggest hunting down both versions as the new one can complement the older one. For just watching the movie, the new one wins as the 2-disc edition tried to take advantage of Blu-Ray's seamless branching menus which could get confusing and added some eventually less than welcome audio comments by Lumiere. The new disc's menu works simply and lets you access the movie, scene selections and bonuses as soon as the menu loads.

Thursday, September 15, 2016

The Iron Giant

Man, I miss blogging. I don't know why, but my urge to blog has really fallen off. For my Oz blog, it's like, I want to write more, but finding topics to write about just escapes me.

But if I want to get back to blogging, why not just do it? I don't feel like talking so openly about my personal life on my blog, but I do tend to preorder books and movies (preferably on Blu-Ray), as well as see movies in the theater, why not write about how I enjoyed them? Or didn't.

Let's start off with a Blu-Ray that came out earlier this month: The Iron Giant - Signature Edition. I had never seen The Iron Giant before, although I do remember seeing commercials for it back when it came out. I'd heard of its reputation as a new animated classic, and given that the Blu-Ray was only $10, I figured it was worth a try.

The Signature Edition is a "remastered" version of the original movie. The animation has been touched up with shadows to give it additional depth, dark skies with sparse clouds have been replaced with starry skies, and there's a couple brief additions, adding two minutes to the runtime. I only watched the Signature Edition, so aside from what I've heard, I can't comment on how it differs from the original version first hand. Note that only the remastered animation appears on the Blu-Ray, so while a version of the movie that's edited just like the original theatrical cut is on here, the original version actually isn't present. It can still be had on DVD, however.

The Iron Giant is based on a book originally published as The Iron Man by Ted Hughes. It was retitled to The Iron Giant in the US to avoid confusion with a certain Marvel Comics character. I haven't read the book either, but the Wikipedia synopsis reveals a tale of a mysterious gigantic iron man who appears in a little village who eats farm equipment. A boy named Hogarth Hughes decides the giant could live on scrap and live happily. Then the giant faces a fantastic space dragon that attacks the earth with a message about the destructive power of war.

The animated version takes a different approach. Gone is the space dragon, instead the anti-war messaged is conveyed by moving the antagonism to a government agent named Kent Mansley who'd rather destroy the giant.

The giant comes from outer space to a late 1950s small town. Hogarth lives with his mother, who's a waitress at a local diner. The giant mainly hides in the woods, and only has a few flashing memories of where it came from. Hogarth befriends the giant and begins teaching it some crude English and about heroism. He finds an ally in a modern artist who runs the junkyard. Unfortunately, Kent Mansley traces signs of the giant back to Hogarth.

Although I haven't read the book, I think this may be one of those adaptations that manages to fully flesh out the story concept they chose and tell it well, quite like a Disney adaptation of a Hans Christian Andersen story. It's different, but the story they do tell isn't bad. It endears us to Hogarth by making him feel like a kid, and adds a childish nature to the Giant. In addition, the animation and music is very well-done. Smooth, fluid, and very much draws you into the story.

I haven't watched the bonus features, but honestly, I think I'll be revisiting this Blu-Ray soon, so I'll check them out eventually.