Friday, May 09, 2008

FanBoyWonder Film Spotlight: The Return of Indiana Jones

FanBoyWonder had just graduated high school when we and our high school sweetie went to the local Cineplex to view the third of the Indiana Jones trilogy—Indiana Jones and The Last Crusade, staring Harrison Ford in the title role and Sean Connery as the senior Jones.

While not quite as good as the original Raiders of the Lost Arc (what could be???) yet light years better than Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom, we thoroughly enjoyed the adventure. Then we filed it away and we haven’t thought of Indiana Jones for many years.

So it was with a glancing interest that we had been following news that Stephen Spielberg, George Lucas and Harrison Ford were finally going to bring the world’s toughest archeologist back to the screen some two decades after the last installment.

That is until last summer when we viewed specially released teaser footage of upcoming fourth Indy film later to be named Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull. In a word—Zowie!

Here’s the Upshot from Paramount Pictures: The newest Indiana Jones adventure begins in the desert Southwest in 1957 – the height of the Cold War. Indy (Ford) and his sidekick Mac (Ray Winstone) have barely escaped a close scrape with nefarious Soviet agents on a remote airfield.

Now, Professor Jones has returned home to Marshall College – only to find things have gone from bad to worse. His close friend and dean of the college (Jim Broadbent) explains that Indy's recent activities have made him the object of suspicion, and that the government has put pressure on the university to fire him. On his way out of town, Indiana meets rebellious young Mutt (Shia LaBeouf), who carries both a grudge and a proposition for the adventurous archaeologist: If he'll help Mutt on a mission with deeply personal stakes, Indy could very well make one of the most spectacular archaeological finds in history – the Crystal Skull of Akator, a legendary object of fascination, superstition and fear.

But as Indy and Mutt set out for the most remote corners of Peru – a land of ancient tombs, forgotten explorers and a rumored city of gold – they quickly realize they are not alone in their search. The Soviet agents are also hot on the trail of the Crystal Skull. Chief among them is icy cold, devastatingly beautiful Irina Spalko (Cate Blanchett), whose elite military unit is scouring the globe for the eerie Crystal Skull, which they believe can help the Soviets dominate the world... if they can unlock its secrets.

Indy and Mutt must find a way to evade the ruthless Soviets, follow an impenetrable trail of mystery, grapple with enemies and friends of questionable motives, and, above all, stop the powerful Crystal Skull from falling into the deadliest of hands.

Regular FanBoyWonder readers have heard the story before but we so enjoy telling it in that by way of backgrounds, FBW first saw the original Raiders of the Lost Ark on our 11th birthday back in 1981.

As it turned out, we hadn’t wanted to see it as we thought it looked stupid but Mom and Dad FanBoyWonder dragged FBW and our brother Joe to the movies. Suffice to say we left thinking it was the coolest thing we had ever seen and grumbling that Mom and Dad were right about that one.

From what we have seen of the trailer, we like and think it looks promising. Indy is back and tougher than ever but he’s an aging adventurer as kicking bad guy arse is “not as easy as it used to be.”

While he looks great at 65 (we should look half as good when we hit his age) Harrison Ford was wise not to try to play it like the Indy of Raiders circa 1981.

Another Raiders flashback comes with the return of Karen Allen who played Indy’s love interest Marion Ravenwood from the original Raiders. Not only does the return of her character bring us all back full circle to the first film but quite simply, the other Indy films weren’t as good without her.

Why? Karen Allen’s Marion flawlessly played the damsel in distress who could also throw a punch and was every bit as tough as Indy. Ballsy and beautiful but not in an overt sex-pot kind of way—not unlike Margot Kidder’s Lois Lane from the Superman films. (Although pound for pound in a fair fight, we’re pretty sure that Marion could eat Lois’ lunch.)

Indy and Marion reportedly share a son together—that kid from Transformers Shia LaBeouf who will likely do a fair amount of the actiony stunt stuff to take the heat off of Papa Jones.

Since it takes place during the Cold War, it’s not the Nazis who are chasing Indy (Thank God….no more Nazis) but the Soviets—you know, the Godless Commies.

Assuming it is still in theatres come June—a safe bet as it has “blockbuster” written all over it—we plan to take Brianna The Girl Wonder to see it. She will be 7 years old when she comes home for a blessed summer visitation and we think she should experience the same wonder of seeing an Indy movie in the theatre as Grandpa FanBoyWonder did all those years ago.

Indiana Jones and The Kingdom of the Crystal Skull opens in time for the Memorial Day holiday weekend on Thursday, May 22..

See you at the movies.

Thursday, May 08, 2008

Battlestar Galactica—The Road Less Traveled

Wake the kids and call the neighbors. FanBoyWonder has made yet another clean getaway from the confines of Boston, Taxachuetts following our five days in town for a business conference.

Before we flew out Wednesday, we managed to meet and enjoy lunch with Mom and Dad FBW and it was good to see them.

It’s been a hectic week for us working our day job here in Boston, leaving us little time for blogging but we did manage to slip away Sunday evening to catch Iron Man.

We were favorably impressed and we’ll be posting a FanBoyWonder film review (hopefully in tandem Siskel & Ebert-like with our best pal and all around Kemosabe) this coming weekend.

Also, just a quick note of special THANKS to our pal JR. Thank you SO MUCH ….for the company, for picking up the check (the next one is ours, no arguments!) for telling it like it is and for “the penny” & the good thought behind it. Peace be with you my friend.

Anyway, as we repatriotate back into fanboy nation, we realize that we are WAY behind—having yet to post our review of last week’s Battlestar Galactica—The Road Less Traveled—with the next episode—Faith— to air in a little more than 24 hours..

Given the closeness of the new upcoming episode, we are going to opt for the drive-by review and shoot from the hip with our most pressing thoughts.

And with that….on with the show.

The Upshot From Sci-Fi Channel: The prospect of a truce between humanity and a band of rebel Cylons encourages Starbuck (Katee Sackhoff) to trust her old enemy Leoben (Callum Keith Rennie).

Aboard the good ship Demetrius, Capt. Starbuck and her cheery crew of explorers (irony much???) have hit a snag in their search for Earth—58 days into their authorized 60 day mission.

Ship’s XO Helo (Tahmoh Penikett), Gods bless him, is doing his best to keep the ship and crew together while going out of his way to support and cover for an increasingly unreliable and worrisome Starbuck.

When the Cylon Leoben is taken aboard from his damaged raider, it just enflames a distrustful crew against Starbuck—especially as he seeks to “help” them find Earth and as he proposes an alliance between the human fleet and the splinter group of Cylons—who are in the midst of a civil war.

Of course, it wouldn’t be Battlestar Galactica this season if someone didn’t get killed during an episode. So R.I.P. Gunnery Sergeant Erin Mathias (Ellen Pedde) who cashed in her cubits by being on the wrong side of an exploding Cylon raider during a space walk.

We salute the toughest marine this side of R. Lee Emery (Full Metal Jacket) but hotter than Sigourney Weaver from Aliens in that she’ll beat you like a drum and you’ll like it mister kind of way.

In the end, Helo is forced to take a stand when Starbuck orders a jump to the Cylon baseship and not back to the fleet as her orders require. Helo relieves her of command and the crew is poised to back the XO.

As it’s to be continued this week, let’s hope that Starbuck doesn’t do an Admiral Cain on Helo—right between the eyes with a hollow point.

Meanwhile back on the fleet, Gaius Baltar (James Callis) continues to attract followers to his “movement” to the One True God” and newly demoted Specialist Tyrol (Aaron Douglas) has a shaved head, he still grieves over his death’s sudden death for which he blames himself—as well as still trying to deal with the revelation that he’s a secret Cylon.

The emotional torment Tyrol feels as he holds a pistol to his head, desperately seeking relief but unable to self-terminate, was especially haunting. We could almost physically feel his pain as come across the TV screen.

Tory Foster (Rekha Sharma), yet another secret Cylon, appears to have taken over the role of Imaginary Six (Tricia Helfer) for Gaius Baltar as her influence grows over this shepherd of a growing cult.

When Tory notes to Baltar that while he is gaining believers in numbers, they represent the dregs of fleet society—“no one of consequence”—so Baltar makes a public play to Tyrol, one time Galactica deck chief and former union leader of New Caprica.

Baltar provokes an unstable Tyrol to violence but Baltar later visits Tyrol in his quarters to offer an apology that is both authentic and insincere at once and to our surprise Tyrol takes Baltar’s hand.

If’ he’s not a follower, Tyrol appears to be at least along for the ride. So say we all!!

Sunday, May 04, 2008

FanBoyWonder Spotlight: American Dream—A Fresh Female Face To ‘Old School’ (Marvel) Comics

Greetings everyone from Boston. FanBoyWonder flew into “The Hub” yesterday (Saturday), a day early before our business conference started so we could visit family. And so we did, all too briefly seeing our sis-in-law Suzanne but going out to dinner with our brother Joe and FBW’s nephew Jack, who is now 2 ½ yrs old. A good time was had by all.

But a funny thing happened to us on the hotel treadmill this morning—our mind totally wandered as it does during exercise and we realized how much we are looking forward to the upcoming mini-series American Dream.

Spun out of the pages of The Amazing Spider-Girl, the five-issue American Dream mini-series by writer Tom DeFalco and artist Todd Nauck debuts on Wednesday.

To be honest, we knew very little about the heroine who wore Captain America’s colors and we mistakenly thought was Cap’s daughter (in the same way that Miss Spidey is Spider-Man’s little girl).

It turns out (thanks to a quickie search on “The Internets”) that American Dream isn’t related to Cap by blood but to us she represents a fresh, female face to classic comic book storytelling that is nowadays considered “old school.”

Quickie definition of “old school” vs. “new school”: An old school comic story is something that we would allow Brianna the Girl Wonder (who turns 7 years old next month) to read without worry or hesitation, while new school comics—not so much.

Here’s the Upshot on American Dream from Marvel Comics: “As the star-spangled splendor struggles to find a balance between her personal and superhero lives, a hunt for a missing fiancée unexpectedly leads American Dream into a battle with an unstoppable new super-foe and terrifyingly new kind of terrorist.”

As we noted, we know very little about American Dream but we’re looking forward to getting to know this character and to become better acquainted with the world and the universe—the MC2 universe—where she and Spider-Girl reside.

More than anything, we have faith in writer Tom DeFalco as he again attempts to expand the MC2 universe beyond the pages of Spider-Girl, to prove that Spider-Girl’s success isn’t a fluke and that there is indeed a consumer appetite for a universe of Marvel characters where they are allowed to be heroes.

We’ve long ago been on record in noting that we don’t recognize the current Marvel Universe anymore. But worse, the DC Comics Universe is quickly becoming a place that we are enjoying less and less.

For FanBoyWonder, MC2 represents “old Marvel”—not just the Marvel Comics that we knew and loved growing up but a reader respected, kid-friendly place that both kid readers and not-kids-anymore readers can share space and enjoy together.

FanBoyWonder recommends that you join us in giving American Dream fan support and join us as we “Make Mine MC2” (with apologies to Stan Lee).

American Dream #1, a 5-issue, mini-series, is 32 pages, $2.99 and goes on sale Wednesday (May 7). Issue #2 is on sale May 21.

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