Halloween 2010, the dead rise on AMC!

Hey all…

Yes, I know it’s not even September yet and I’m talking about Halloween – one of my least favorite holidays… But this year will be different.

AMC is airing the 90-minute premiere episode of The Walking Dead… This will be a 6-episode series based on the comic of the same name written by Robert Kirkman and Tony Moore and published by Image Comics.

The television series based on the comic is being directed by Frank Darabont (The Shawshank Redemption, The Green Mile, The Mist) and has been in the works for a while now. But up to now (unless you were at Comic Con) you might have missed the trailer (though it’s been going around the internet like wildfire).

Yes, there are survivors of a deadly zombie plague. But like all good zombie stories, it’s less about the monsters themselves but how people deal with them. When the chips are down, how do they react? Do they do what’s right? Or what’s convenient?

The survivors are led by police officer Rick Grimes (Andrew Lincoln) who’s simply looking for somewhere safe to call home. Rick’s wife Lori (Sarah Wayne Callies) and friend Shane (Jon Bernthal) are tagging along. And of course they pick up a few others along the way.

Here’s the trailer. It looks awesome and it’s weird looking forward to Halloween for a change! Be sure to check out the premiere on Sunday, October 31st at 10/9c on AMC.

–Fitz

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DVD Review: Superman: The Complete Animated Series

Let me tell you a little story…

In 1992, at a science fiction convention in Denver, Colorado, I had my first glimpse of Batman: The Animated Series. That night we watched footage from “On Leathery Wings,” which focused on a battle between Batman and the Man-Bat in Gotham City. From that point on, I was addicted to the DC Animated Universe as produced by Warner Brothers Animation. Over the next few years, I watched Superman: The Animated Series, Batman Beyond, Static Shock, Justice League, and Justice League Unlimited.

Each of these series proved not only that a cartoon could be more adult in nature and still appeal to kids, but that it could deal with more serious themes of love and loss, dedication, sacrifice, and justice. No longer were these kiddie cartoons, but something deeper.

So when Superman: The Complete Animated Series was released in November 2009, I was very excited to see it – spread across a 7-disc collection, all 54 episodes plus commentaries, making-of features, trivia, and more. Not only could I see these episodes again, but I could show them to my daughters and share these great stories with a new generation of animation lovers.

Starting with the destruction of Krypton and Kal-El’s parents sending their only child to an unknown life on a distant planet, the series begins with a bang. I hadn’t seen the original three episodes (“The Last Son of Krypton” parts 1-3) in many years and was happy to find that they were still emotionally relevant and packed a punch to start the series right.

Some of my favorite villains of all time are in these episodes – Lex Luthor, Braniac, Lobo, Darkseid, Bizarro, Mr. Mxyzptlk, and many many more. You even encounter many of the heroes like the Flash, Batman, Supergirl, Green Arrow, etc.

It’s also interesting after all these years to go back and listen to the many different voice talents involved in production. Tim Daly (Wings, Private Practice) as Superman, Clark Kent, and Bizarro… Clancy Brown (Highlander, The Shawshank Redemption, Starship Troopers) as Lex Luthor… Dana Delany (China Beach, Desperate Housewives) as Lois Lane… Michael Ironside, Gilbert Gottfried, Lisa Edelstein, Joely Fisher, Ron Perlman, Malcolm McDowell, Michael Dorn, Lori Petty, Brad Garrett, William H. Macy… the list goes on forever. It reads a virtual “Who’s Who” of actors and actresses from then and now.

Since all of these series stopped airing new episodes, I have to say that the number of animated shows I still catch regularly has dropped dramatically. The style of Batman: The Animated Series and Superman: The Animated Series and all the rest hearkens back to the Max Fleischer Superman series from the 1940s mixed with modern techniques for the time. There’s something about the style that WB Animation used for all of them that can’t be matched by more modern, CGI or mixed media animation these days.

Fifty four episodes aired over the course of a bit more than three years between September 1996 and February 2000. And though they may have run out of stories from the original comic books, I probably would have continued to watch!

In addition to the episodes themselves, which I really enjoyed watching again, there are a number of extras scattered through the seven discs that really make the collection worthwhile. Creator commentaries, making-of featurettes, trivia tracks, and more are distributed across the main six discs.

For me, the feature on Disc 7 – “The Despot Darkseid: A Villain Worthy of Superman” – really shows the difficulties faced by writers trying to come up with viable villains for the hero. Darkseid is definitely a worthy villain from outside the normal Superman universe. The writers and directors involved in the animated series talk at length about Jack Kirby and the contributions he made to comic books. Darkseid brings a true evil, fascist dictator – almost an Anti-Superman – with great strength and intellect to the DC Universe. Suddenly Superman could be hurt and the whole world is in peril.

If you were a fan of Superman: The Animated Series when it originally aired in the late 1990s or have been catching it on Toon Disney, I think Superman: The Complete Animated Series is an amazing collection. Having all of these episodes in one place makes it entirely too easy to fall back into the habit of watching them after schoolwork!

–Fitz

p.s. Pick up Superman: The Complete Animated Series and other awesome animated titles from Amazon below:

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The Mist – Was very cool!

Hey all…

Continuing the theme of movies I saw a few weeks ago but haven’t written about until now… The Mist, starring Thomas Jane, Marcia Gay Harden, Andre Braugher, and Laurie Holden, is based on a story by Steven King. This version was directed by Frank Darabont, who also wrote the script. He’s worked wonders with other Steven King material, such as The Green Mile and The Shawshank Redemption, so we knew he had some chops.

Rating: ★★★★

Here‘s the IMDB link for The Mist.

If you didn’t see any of the trailers, the story is basically that a small town is beset by a strange mist after a freak storm. The townsfolk hide in a supermarket and fight for their lives.

What made this movie for me wasn’t the setting. It wasn’t the special effects (though they were cool and used very well). It was the characters.

I am a big Thomas Jane fan. I think the next Punisher movie coming out (War Zone) is a mistake. He gave the character an emotional core that I think will be lacking… but I digress. I thought his character, David Drayton, a book cover artist, had just the right balance of manliness and uncertainty. Who would believe that there were monsters in the mist? He didn’t. Had to prove it to him.

And the ending… Wow. Just heartbreaking.

The other characters… Mrs. Carmody played by Marcia Gay Harden was a real witch disguised as a religious woman. :) Harden played her to the teeth. You hated her from the beginning and it only got worse!

And Andre Braugher… Brent Norton, the uptight neighbor. He was trying to do the right thing too. But he didn’t believe in the monsters until it was almost too late…

This is a movie that uses suspense well. The backgrounds go away once the mist arrives. So your focus is entirely on the characters and what they do to survive. It gets a solid 4/4 from me. I really enjoyed it. One of the best “horror” movies I’ve seen in a long time.

–Fitz

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