Avengers Assemble – AWESOME!


Have you seen the Marvel Avengers Assemble film yet?  We went yesterday and it was mind-blowingly awesome.  Marvel have pulled off the biggest stunner so far with the Avengers film.  Given how good the films of Marvel’s individual super-heroes The Hulk, Thor, Iron Man and Captain America were it isn’t that surprising I suppose.  Apart from still trying to come to terms with a black and too young Nick Fury the Avengers and the villains are all very well-played and at least fairly well cast.  The Black Widow getting ready to face down the alien menace with a handgun did seem a bit daft though.  Couldn’t SHIELD have kitted her out with a better weapon than that?  I don’t want to give any Avengers film spoilers but the film is worth watching just for when the Hulk gets up close and personal with Loki.  That is a real laugh.  In fact in some respects The Hulk steals the show.

The Avengers forming as a team is well done and the Avengers infighting and misunderstandings that were always a trademark of Marvel’s all-too-human superheroes are there and well done.  Each Avenger has such a clear personality and the Avengers film makers have clearly set out to provide the definitive version of each Avenger.

I wasn’t sure about Loki but he won me over in the end.  There is a real slimy nasty menace about Loki and a kind of suave and arrogant way too.  Sadly, he reminded me of too many politicians.  As in the Avengers Marvel comics, it becomes clear who is the boss of the Avengers and Captain America is really impressive.  At first glance he is the weakest of the four Avengers but, as in the Marvel comics of the Avengers, ultimately he is the strongest in what counts – skill and intelligence.

The special effects are with all the stops pulled out in Avengers Assemble.  The jaw-dropping global effects from 2012 are there and plenty of others.  If you haven’t seen the Avengers Assemble film yet then don’t miss Marvel supremo Stan Lee’s cameo at the end where he says that the idea of super-heroes in New York is ridiculous.  Of course it is Stan Lee’s 90th birthday this year, which only goes to prove that Marvel comics keep you young and you live longer.

There are a question or two of course on the Avengers film that you might want to comment on.  Whatever happened to the Avengers Giant Man / Ant Man and The Wasp who were members of the original Avengers line-up?  In a way it seems odd to have Hawkeye and the Black Widow around and leave them out.  I always thought Giant Man was a great Avenger.  That would also have paved the way for Hawkeye to have done his Goliath bit and the Avengers comics of that period had an interesting take on what happened when Hawkeye became Goliath.  We also miss out on Giant Man as Yellowjacket of course who was a real character in the Marvel Avengers comics.   If they felt the need to turn Nick Fury black to introduce a little balance into the predominantly whitey world of Marvel superheroes then why didn’t they bring in The Black Panther?  He’s a rich African tribal chief for goodness sake!  Last but not least there’s The Vision and his unlikely romance with another Avenger The Scarlet Witch (also not included in the Avengers here and nor is her brother Quicksilver).  There are still many poignant, exciting, meaningful and world-shattering moments from the history of Marvel’s Avengers comics that could be put into a film.  Let’s hope some of them make it into the next Avengers Assemble film and if I’ve missed a few ideas I’m sure you’ll put me right in the comments.

So what happened?

Tapestry by Brian Froud

Tapestry by Brian Froud

Brian Froud was supposed to be receiving a lifetime achievement award from the society of illustrators but somehow this rumour never actually materialised and everyone seems at a loss as to why it was floated and then didn’t happen.  It is hard to believe that anyone could conceive of the possibility that Brian Froud is not worthy of such an award.  If anything, it is long overdue since he had already produced a lifetime’s brilliant work years ago!  Brian Froud must now be well into a third or fourth lifetime of work in comparison to many newcomers. Perhaps a triple lifetime achievement award would be more appropriate.  After all, Brian Froud is not an artist who climbed on the bandwagon of faery art, he was one of the very few pushing it uphill at the beginning!  Brian Froud’s work dates way back into the early days of fantasy art – far further back than Brian Froud himself probably wishes to remember!  Along with his colleague Alan Lee, Brian Froud set the standard for technical excellence as well as realism, imagination and vision in bringing fantasy ideas to life.

Whether Brian Froud actually IS an illustrator is of course another issue and maybe that was the problem.  Perhaps they recognised that Brian Froud is more a painter than an illustrator.  For the most part Brian Froud has not illustrated books other than his own and certainly in recent years the number of Brian Froud books has grown considerably.  But if film design work is illustrative then Brian Froud’s work on ‘The Dark Crystal’ alone is worth a lifetime achievement award.

Brian Froud has always trod his own path and openly acknowledges his admiration of Arthur Rackham whose work inspired his early efforts.  The world of faerie is probably more due a lifetime achievement award in his opinion since Brian Froud’s work has always been by the inspiration of the faerie folk, however you conceive that to be.  Brian Froud himself doesn’t actually profess to know faerie because he is happy enough to bathe in its mystery … or at least that is how it always seemed to me.

For someone so influenced by faerie that they sometimes pop up even when he is signing his name Brian Froud  actually isn’t away with the faeries.  If you read a Brian Froud book you’ll find it refreshingly down-to-earth in many ways.  Although the Pagans, New Age people and others love Brian Froud’s work he is somehow somewhere else and does not seem really close to any of these groups or genres.  There is certainly magic in Brian Froud’s artwork though and maybe it is that kind of magic that the world is lacking right now.  Let’s hope he continues to bring the realm of faerie out into his paintings for many years to come as he starts on producing the work of a fifth lifetime!

If you are not that familiar with Brian Froud and want to see more, just click on Brian Froud’s Tapestry or here and away you’ll be whisked away … as if by magic!

Disney’s Lion King in 3D

Disney's Lion King

Disney's Lion King

Disney’s Lion King film has been remastered in 3D and out now!

Whether you’ve seen The Lion King by Walt Disney or not it’ll be

worth seeing.  Disney’s Lion King follows the story of young Simba

lion cub and is full of great Disney characters like the “zen-type guru” baboon.

In 3D Disney’s Lion King film should really be something.

Back when the Lion King film was first released we got hold of a few

Disney Lion King promos.  Each one is a glossy reproduction

of a great scene from Walt Disney’s Lion King film.

You can see all four Lion King prints here.

Neil Gaiman Sandman film or TV series

Not unsurprisingly, I own all the graphic novel compilations of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics and am currently reading through them all yet again.  Easy to do.  The artwork in Neil Gaiman’s Sandman comics is superb, Neil Gaiman’s story writing is incredible and the characters literally out of this world … even when they aren’t.  Not only that, Sandman is often hilariously funny, deeply poignant and even tragic.  How many writers can manage that?  Neil Gaiman is truly exceptional.  Then you’ve got those amazing Sandman covers by Dave McKean as well! So what about a Sandman film or TV series?

A good adaption of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman could be the best thing ever in comic adaptions but a poor one would be deeply disappointing.  Fortunately, since 1991, Neil Gaiman has said that he’d rather see no ‘Sandman’ movie than a bad ‘Sandman’ movie made.  He said that the time of a good ‘Sandman’ movie is getting closer but feels that a ‘Sandman’ movie needs someone with the passion of a Peter Jackson for ‘Lord of the Rings‘  or Sam Raimi on ‘Spider-Man‘ to get the film through Warner Bros.

What I can never understand is why the original story lines never stand up when it comes to filming.  It seems that everyone is so frightened a film won’t work that they feel they must cherry-pick the best ideas from an entire series to make the first film.  This must cause a lot of problems for any sequels.  Then you get daft situations like the so-so Iron Man sequel when there is this amazing character The Mandarin in the Iron Man comics who hasn’t made an appearance in either film.  It beggars belief!

As far as my money goes I could imagine a series far longer than Heroes featuring Neil Gaiman’s Sandman but then maybe some daft idiot will pull the plug for no good reason like NBC did with Heroes.  So what do you think?  Film or TV series?  Should Neil Gaiman’s Sandman ever be made as a film or TV series at all?  I hope you feel the need to comment on this otherwise I guess nothing will ever happen anyway.  Oh, yes, I’d love to see a really top-notch adaptation of Neil Gaiman’s Sandman.  If it doesn’t happen then I’ll keep reading the Sandman graphic novels until my eyes give out or the Corinthian comes for them! :-)

Mighty Thor indeed!

Thor in 3D – Wow!  Thor the Norse god, Thor the comic hero and now Thor the film star!

The THOR film is literally magnificent. The special effects for THOR are the best yet.  Asgard looks stunning and is still based on the artwork from when Jack Kirby drew Thor at Marvel comics some 60 years ago (The Mighty Thor). The storyline is not the original Marvel Thor comic book origin story but what they have done with it works very well. Anthony Hopkins is fabulous as Odin and the other characters are well cast.  My only gripe would be the modernisation of Thor’s Asgardian language. Thor speaks a little in the Old English style he had in the Thor comics but it kind of gets forgotten later on and Thor ends up saying things like, “Well, maybe I had it coming” and that seems rather odd. Thor and the other Asgardians do seem a bit too human for the most part but these are minor gripes for what is one of the best Marvel adaptations so far.  THOR is certainly on a par with the Spiderman and X-Men films.  The Destroyer, resurrected from the Thor comics, is totally awesome and far outstrips the Thor comic version.  Yep, thumbs up – go see THOR, especially in 3D!

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