A show like AMC’s Comic Book Men would never have even been considered for broadcast ten years ago — at least as far as series star Bryan Johnson is concerned — let alone attract the popularity that has spawned since its debut last year. But we live in a time when the nerds have risen up and taken their revenge. As proclaimed by Comic Book Men creator, accomplished filmmaker, and Hollywood’s resident ambassador of the geek community Kevin Smith at the New York Comic Con panel for his AMC series, “We’re no longer marginalized.” It was a declaration that incited cheers among the crowd (a population naturally sympathetic to the plight of nerddom), which only erupted more vociferously when Smith concluded his thought: “We are the voice.”
It’s not only Comic Book Men that leads Smith to this perspective — as he and his longtime friends and collaborators, and the collective cast of his AMC program, Johnson, Walt Flanagan, Ming Chen, and Michael Zapcic summed up for all attendees, the near entirety of America’s contemporary blockbusters are comic book-adapted properties.
Smith and his CBM team plugged the forthcoming second season, premiering Sunday night, with a video montage of highlights to yet come: a superhero wedding, a children’s birthday party inside the Stash, a life sized model of the Millennium Falcon, and conversations about everything ranging from the best superhero accessories to interspecies erotica in fiction… not to mention a visit to the store by a comic book legend: the one Stan Lee. Flanagan told Hollywood.com that one of the properties he's most excited to see in Season 2 is Mecha Kong.
Following a technical malfunction that forced all five men to huddle around a single microphone, the gang began opening conversation on the journey they have taken together on the AMC series. Smith noted in particular the evolution of the public’s opinion on Johnson, whom they affectionately/not-so-affectionately refer to as “Beard Guy.”
At the dawn of the series, as Smith recalls, Comic Book Men viewers would storm social media with exclamatory remarks of, “I f***ing hate Beard Guy.” After a few episodes had passed, the public began to give way to Johnson as a source of comedy: “Beard Guy says some funny s***.” And the eventual complete 180: “I want to be Beard Guy,” Smith claims a fan once posted online.
A good deal of the panel was occupied by the Men engaging in conversation about their favorite Batmobiles, (which ranged from the '40s Batmobile to Adam West's '66 version to the Michael Keaton Tumbler), to superheroes they'd most want to be (mentioned were Nightwing, Professor X, and Rick from The Walking Dead, a remark that Johnson followed up with a facetious plug: "This Sunday on AMC!"), but eventually the conversation turned to Smith's film career.
"My journey has kind of come to a close," the View Askewniverse creator stated, adding, "I will never make anything better than Red State." However, Smith did mention two titles presently in the works for him: the hockey film Hit Somebody, which he promises will take form once he edits the script down from 240 pages to 150, and Jay and Silent Bob's Super Groovy Cartoon Movie, which he will fund and tour himself. Although Smith affirmed that he "[doesn't] have anything new to say," he also promised that he will make "one more movie that will rap it all out." Something worth waiting for.
Comic Book Men's second season premieres Sunday, October 14 at 11:30 PM.
[Photo Credit: AMC]
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Louis Leterrier’s remake of Clash of the Titans the 1981 cult favorite that fused Greek mythology with sci-fi theatrics is a grand experiment in the ancient art of alchemy a big-budget attempt to spin fanboy nostalgia for a 30-year-old novelty into contemporary box-office gold. The main ingredients in this ambitious concoction are a potent arsenal of CGI weaponry and the star of the biggest movie ever Sam Worthington who inherits Harry Hamlin’s role as the heroic Perseus. But it’s what’s missing from the formula that ultimately dooms this remake.
Clash of the Titans redux mimics the original film’s epic ethos and preference for spectacle over all else but its storyline differs dramatically. Perseus is still the half-breed product of a one-night stand between the god Zeus and a human hottie and he still must to defeat the monstrous Kraken in order to save the lovely Princess Andromeda. Almost everything in between however has been altered — and not necessarily for the better.
The new version casts the Greek city of Argos as the primary battleground in a proxy war fought by dueling Olympian superpowers Zeus (Liam Neeson) and Hades (Ralph Fiennes). Born of a god but raised by and partial to humans Worthington’s Perseus battles not for the hand of Andromeda (Alexa Davalos) — as Hamlin’s character did — but instead for the people of Argos who stand to perish along with their princess at the hands of the dreaded Kraken. The film’s love story if it can be called that consists of the briefest of flirtations between Perseus and Io (Gemma Arterton) his self-appointed spiritual guide. (Cursed with immortality by the gods Io’s been secretly watching him all his life — which ostensibly makes her a glorified stalker.)
This detail is a small but crucial one. Strong-willed Perseus braves an obstacle course of giant scorpions gorgons and other horrors laid out for him by the wheezy fiend Hades but it’s never quite clear why he bothers with it all since what’s at stake is a princess he isn’t particularly interested in and a community of people he doesn’t really know — and who frankly don’t seem all that worth saving. His deadbeat dad up on Mount Olympus certainly isn't worth dying for nor are the battlefield compatriots he met barely a week prior. And while I’m sure that a few inviting glances from Gemma Arterton are positively delightful I wouldn’t risk being doused in flesh-eating scorpion venom for them.
This narrative oversight triggers a drain in enthusiasm that persists throughout the film. For a movie so epic in scale Clash of the Titans makes for a disappointingly bland ride. Leterrier’s CGI set pieces are at times magnificent but they’re proffered in the service of weak story filled with characters whose motivations are either unclear or unconvincing. During the film’s climax when Neeson’s Zeus utters the portentous words “Release the Kraken ” what should be an emotional high point instead feels perfunctory and anticlimactic. The only excitement it spawns comes from the knowledge that the end is mercifully imminent.
Will it take a Hollywood production to alert the masses about the current oil crisis facing the world which leaves no person unaffected? Does Syriana have the makings to be such a wide-reaching film? Well probably not but it does make a noble stab at it. Much of the way through Syriana has the feel of a documentary although it ultimately falls into the pattern of the popular interwoven narratives that are so popular these days. Among the interwoven: A beleaguered CIA agent (George Clooney); a wary and inquisitive Washington lawyer (Jeffrey Wright); an opportunistic energy analyst (Matt Damon) and his wife (Amanda Peet) who have just lost their young son; and a Persian Gulf prince (Alexander Siddig) who helps China in an oil deal thus antagonizing the U.S. The cast assembled here includes some of this era's finest actors. That no single actor steals the show is mostly a testament to on-screen time split justly. Clooney is the big story here and he should be: Rare is the sex symbol superstar of his enormity who dares to don a gut and a beard as he does here. With his trademark physical attributes obscured Clooney's acting is allowed to shine and his character's tension is palpable. As for Wright the quintessential chameleon of an actor his performance is as flawless and brilliant as always. Damon provides a reliable turn but it's onscreen wife Peet who adds the truly raw emotion that the film lacks overall. Rounding out the ensemble are two under-appreciated stalwarts: Chris Cooper nailing the role of a shrewd oilman and Christopher Plummer perfectly cast as the head of a law firm. Stephen Gaghan has displayed his writing chops in the past—most famously in 2000's Traffic for which he won an Oscar—and he certainly has a solid mentor behind him in (executive producer) Steven Soderbergh. After making his directorial debut with the 2002 flop thriller Abandon he finds far better luck with this star-studded politically charged film having traveled the world to gain insight into Robert Baer’s book which serves as source material. Unfortunately Gaghan’s stirring documentary/handheld-cam filmmaking is contradicted by the overall convoluted feel of the movie which comes to a too-neat conclusion that leaves several characters hanging. Although Gaghan has a bold and daring take on a topical problem there's a reason a topic like this with so many disparate lives and ideas is not often tackled on the big screen: film is just not a vast enough medium.