They’re Making a Bananaman Movie

Weird news spotted this month, as it appears that Elstree Studio are working on a Bananaman film. There’s a poster for it and everything, look:

bananaman

Based on the DC Thomson character who first appeared in Nutty Magazine before heading to The Dandy, and now The Beano, Bananaman is an unwanted hero who causes more trouble than anything else. Whenever a young schoolboy called Eric eats a banana, he transforms into the super-powered (but bumbling and clumsy) hero Bananaman, and goes off to stop criminals and villains from robbing banks and committing other dastardly deeds.

The movie, which exists solely as a poster and website right now, doesn’t have anybody attached to it other than the studio. There isn’t a director, or writer, or cast. All we know is that when you go to the website, an orchestral version of the Bananaman cartoon series plays, along with a hashtag called #peelthepower

This is a weird one indeed.

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Fox Unveil Their X-Men Days of Future Past Cast

Yesterday Empire Magazine unveiled 25 covers for their next issue, each of which features one of the cast of X-Men: Days of Future Past. The covers are mixed, with Halle Berry already looking like she may be even worse as Storm in this than she was in the past movies. Evan Peters looks to be saddled with the worst of the costumes, whilst Blink looks pretty amazing. Sunspot is being played by a Mexican actor – rather than a black Brazilian – and Rogue is profiled despite apparently not making the final cut.

It’s certainly massive in scope and ambition, although many are worried that having so many characters in the film means we’re basically in for two-odd hours of fan-pleaser cameos and killings-off that can’t possibly hope to be satisfying. I’m pretty intrigued by the film, in that everything about it looks simultaneously great and absolutely awful at the same time.

There looks to be some real money thrown at the film, and a hope to out-do the Avengers franchise. And also, one thing that’s noticeable here is how Hollywood’s interest in hiring younger actresses has played out in their favour for this movie. They cast young actresses to play Rogue and Kitty in the first movies, and now continuity has meant they’ve had to cast those same actresses, now they’re older, in the same roles for the following films.

And as a result, Anna Paquin now looks MORE like the Rogue from the comics than she did before, while Ellen Page looks just how I picture Kitty Pryde to look. I just think that’s interesting, from a franchise standpoint. They started off looking young, because Hollywood thrives on youth and cast teenage actresses. Now, though? They’re obviously not exactly old, but they look to have grown into the roles perfectly.

Elsewhere, there’s all kinds of interesting things going on, with young and old Magnetos and Xaviers, a cast with wide-ranging diversity of gender and race, and Peter Dinklage looking amazing. The film is probably going to be one of the most interesting and unexpected blockbusters of the year. I have no idea whatsoever if it’ll be any good.

You can see all the assembled covers over here

This Week: Black Panther, Mobsters, Doop and Hepzibah

What have I been up to this week, loves?

I wrote about the break-up of Black Panther and Storm, and got shouted at a lot in the comments

Reviewed Joshua Williamson’s Masks and Mobsters comic from Monkeybrain

Doop Alert!!

Hepzibah Alert!!!

Teamed up with Paul Brian McCoy to cautiously delve into Howard Chaykin’s Black Kiss II

Took a look at all the new Marvel NOWWWWW titles coming out in November and made up a fake teaser for Pixie Strikes Back II

Pondered about Marvel playing trades with their film rights

And came SO close to pushing Simon Spurrier into writing an ongoing Pixie series, you guys

THE Top Ten Marvel Movies

As Christmas 2011 approaches, you may be wondering which Marvel movies might be worth putting on your wishlist for the 25th. Do not fret! Comics Vanguard have got this all sorted out for you. Here are some classic comic films for you to find in your festive stocking.


10: X-Men First Class

Don’t let our review from earlier this year cloud your judgement: the X-Men are our favourites, and we’re always going to be extra-critical of anything they appear in. X-Men First Class may have suffered from a few problems – especially in the way it handled the central idea of what the X-Men stand for – but was great fun to watch. James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender put together a superb double-act in their roles as Xavier and Magneto, which anchored the rest of the film. Their powers require them to, respectively, put a finger to their forehead and frown; and move their hands while grimacing. And they made it work!

9: Thor

Another recent film, which saw the relatively unknown Chris Hemsworth take on the iconic role in a movie which threw in a surprisingly large amount of Walt Simonson’s mythology and ideas into the mix. Crafting a brilliantly-structured movie around the idea that Anthony Hopkins is a warrior-king whose sons wear silly helmets and yell a lot, Thor was also notable for being yet another film stolen by Stellan Skarsgard, as a grumpy father-figure to Natalie Portman’s… science woman. What job was she meant to have, again?

8: Nick Fury: Agent of SHIELD


7: Spiderman

The first of Sam Raimi’s Spider-Man films proved to be a fine showcase for the director’s off-kilter filming style, disorientating viewers and delivering a great plot which underlined everything which makes Spider-Man so beloved as a comic-book character. Tobey Maguire may not have been the greatest Peter Parker, but he was given a terrific supporting cast to do the heavy lifting for him – including a full-on crazy Willem Defoe as Green Goblin.

6: Iron Man

Robert Downey Jr was the draw, playing essentially himself from four years ago, only with added robot suits. His take on Tony Stark was note-perfect, helped by a clever script and light directing from Jon Favreau. The sequel was filled with too much dead-weight, but this first look into the world of Iron Man was great fun.

5: X-Men 2

The best X-Men film, despite what some people say, Brian Singer’s movie added more weight to the mythos at the same time as introducing beloved characters like Nightcrawler and dumping uninteresting characters like Sabretooth. Brian Cox made for an interesting villain, but the main fun was seeing Ian McKellen and Patrick Stewart trying to out-act each other.

4: Howard the Duck

George Lucas crafts an epic which stands alongside Star Wars and Indiana Jones. Howard the Duck is a subtly-drawn masterpiece, underpinned by sterling work from actress Lea Thompson as his love interest, Beverley.

3: Blade II

The first Blade film was stylish and entertaining, but the sequel cranks everything up by at least four notches. Wesley Snipes remains a fairly blank-faced protagonist, but that works well when he’s surrounded by all manner of day-glo vampires, gruff mentors, and Luke Goss as a villain whose mouth expands in size whenever he wants to eat someone’s face.

2: Spiderman 2

A better role for Bruce Campbell, Alfred Molina as Dr Octopus, even snazzier camerawork and spellbinding special effects are coupled with a scene in which Peter Parker gets repeatedly hit round the head while “Raindrops keep fallin’ on my head” plays in the background. A step up in every respect, Spider-Man 2 was the film which cemented the idea that comics were the next new direction for Hollywood to pursue.

1: Punisher Warzone

Absolutely the most underrated film of the last twenty years, Punisher Warzone delivers everything that a Punisher film should – cannibalism, facial mutilation, gangsters, fight scenes where the combatants are handcuffed to each other, dolls getting shot, freerunners getting blown up, and some of the more memorable scenes to ever be brought to screen. Lukewarm at the box-office, the film has gone on to develop a cult following over the past few months. And it doesn’t have John Travolta in it ANYWHERE.

STRANGEWATCH: McDreamy

It’s douche time

STRANGEWATCH! Your #1 source of news on the possible Dr Strange movie which Marvel Studios are either planning or not planning to produce. And it’s time for a quick update, as it appears Patrick Dempsey is making an early campaign to land the role. In an interview with IGN, he makes it clear that he wants to play Stephen Strange (never spell it Steven, for that is not a real name) and he wants to play the role SOON.

STRANGEWATCH!

Comics Vanguard Reviews X-MEN: FIRST CLASS

It’s reasonably well known that X-Men First Class was rushed into production by FOX as both a way for them to keep their rights over the property and a way to combat Marvel Studios’ recent domination of the superhero movie genre. But with Jane Goldman and Matthew Vaughan on the project, there was some hope that the project would turn out well. The two have been on a brilliant run of form recently, turning Kick-Ass and Stardust into two smartly-realised films, which played off the strengths of their respective comics and satisfying audiences. Kick-Ass was as stupid as the comic, but funnier. Stardust took out some of the more left-field bits and made the story more cohesive. X-Men First Class mixes the comics together with the previous three X-Men movies, and goes nowhere with them.

Let’s deal with the good bits first, because we don’t like focusing on negatives and the film only just falls apart. The casting is generally great. The new students all have a strong reading on their characters, and James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender are superb in their roles as Charles Xavier and Magneto. Fassbender in particular is revelatory, stealing every scene he’s in with his, ahem, magnetic glare. If the movie had focused entirely on these characters and thrown in a random villain at the end, we’d be dealing with the best X-Men film so far. Rose Byrne is underused as Moira MacTaggert, the woman who helps form the X-Men, so her character doesn’t get the chance to develop anywhere. However, she’s such a good actress that she almost glues together a personality for her character. On the other hand, the villains are mainly awful. Kevin Bacon, as Sebastian Shaw, is great – particularly in an opening sequence which seems to mirror the opening sequence of Quentin Tarantino’s equally flawed ‘Inglorious Basterds’. But January Jones seems to be around solely as eye-candy. She gets a few good lines, but delivers them poorly. For all that Emma Frost was anticipated, this film actively weakens her, and it’s unlikely new fans will be racing to buy comics about her. Azrael and… Arclight? (we’ve been told this is actually Riptide) as the two minions of Shaw, are barely anything. They appear, use their powers, then wander off again. It’s a shame, but these three characters are a drag on the film.

And this is the main flaw of the film. Instead of focusing on the first class and giving us an origin story not just for them, but for the X-Men as a whole; we instead are introduced to them via montage and watch them develop their powers via montage. They are an afterthought to the setting, which eclipses everything else in the story. The film, as you will know, is set during the Cuban Missile Crisis. We get enough cameos from JFK to remind us of the era, but the film is also keen on giving us excessive scenes with Russians, Americans, and various other factions discussing the war. It works as a backdrop, but the decision to make it a forefront for everything else detracts from the film. The set designs look great, but the film really could’ve left the setting to speak for itself. Bacon appears too often, and too many sequences away from the first class make the film seem stretched and thin. It would’ve been great to see more of the Mystique/Xavier/Magneto relationship, because that’s the strongest work in the film. Instead we have to deal with army officers discussing wartime tactics at length.

The time period means that the inclusion of Darwin and Angel Salvador as members of the first class brings up an interesting story beat: minorities weren’t exactly well-treated at this time. Instead of anything on that, however, the two black characters in the film are taken out of the story – once more, the undercurrent of racial tension which keeps strong black characters from the comics mainstream seeps into the film. And considering the main script came from Jane Goldman, the film is surprisingly demeaning to women. Emma Frost and Mystique are both ogled at length by the camera – and even Rose Byrne is put into lingerie at one point. There’s a bizarre feeling about this film, which seems to be appealing to the worst of fans at the same time as claiming to be a grown-up, serious superhero film. Wolverine’s cameo – which happens – is spectacularly misjudged. The five minutes after he appears are drowned out as you think ‘did he really just say that?’

The special effects look lovely, and the score is fantastic. Apart from one moment when they sue a music cue from a Cee-Lo Green song, the music is rousing, stirring and of the era. It’s bang on the mark. However, the script is far too on-the-nose. When the term ‘slavery’ is mentioned the camera immediately snaps onto Darwin’s face. When the script tries to put in metaphor or allegory, the staging undermines it immediately. With a few more months of prep time, these problems could’ve been ironed out. As it is, the film betrays its rushed nature. If we’re going to get a second film, as hinted at, then here’s hoping the filmmakers stop putting so much into so little space. McAvoy and Fassbender are brilliant actors – if the film had given them more to do, and focused more on the idea of raising kids in a world which prejudices against them, then this would easily have been the best film of the franchise. What we have instead is a half-realised movie which flits between X-Men: The Last Stand and Wolverine: Origins in terms of quality.

A massive shame.

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