When Titans Clash – The Spirit vs. The Octopus

“Come on! Toilets are always funny.” So says Samuel L. Jackson as the maniacal Octopus, coming off as dedicated to his character as we’ve seen him since Pulp Fiction. This one short fight scene from Frank Miller‘s The Spirit, due out this December, isn’t yet quite enough to start fully judging the film, but I do feel comfortable saying that Mr. Miller seems to be trying to bridge the gap between the campy cartoony humor of The Spirit‘s golden age comic books and the noir sensibilities of modern age works such as Sin City.

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NEW The Spirit Full Movie Trailer !!!

All-out stylization true to Frank Miller form.

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #5 Michael E. Uslan

Michael E. Uslan is the undisputed father of the modern Batman film. A comics lore legend, he was the first professor to teach a course on “comic book folklore” at an accredited university (his alma mater Indiana University.) He famously convinced the Dean of the school to allow his course after equating the Dean’s recollection of the story of Moses with the story of Superman. Since 1979, he and co-founder of Batfilm Productions #8 Benjamin Melniker have owned the feature motion picture rights to the DC Comics Batman franchise. Uslan has shared production credits on every one of Melniker’s comic book screen works, including every Batman film since 1989. He was the first to pitch the idea of a darker Batman, as opposed to the campy 1960s TV Batman, to producers, but was turned down repeatedly. His persistence, however, eventually led to the production of Tim Burton’s 1989 classic, and he has remained the Batman authority since then. In addition, he was executive producer of 2008’s direct to video Turok: Son of Stone, based on the Dell, Gold Key and Valiant Comics hero. He is set to produce Billy Batson and the Legend of Shazam, based on the original DC Comics Captain Marvel. With #11 Sam Raimi, he will be producing a film adaptation of The Shadow, a long time pet project of Raimi’s.

Influence Meter: +++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #7 Frank Miller

Frank Miller     Frank Miller revolutionized the comic book superhero mainstream in the 1980s and ’90s with his injection of Neo-noir and anti-heroic elements into the stories he drew, wrote, and created. His works have had such an impact on popular culture that filmmakers seem compelled to produce them for the screen. In 1981 he created the character Elektra for Marvel, on which Jennifer Garner’s portrayal in the 2003 film Daredevil and in 2005’s Elektra were based. Both films were created with the involvement of #14 Mark Steven Johnson; the latter being co-written by #12 Zak PennIn 1983, Miller created the limited series Ronin for DC Comics.  A film adaptation is in the works involving 300 producer Gianni Nunnari but no release date has been announced.  In 1986, DC released Miller’s Batman: The Dark Knight Returns, a critically acclaimed and highly influential work that took the campy Batman of the 1960s television show and redefined him into the darker, grittier hero now well known to audiences. This, along with Alan Moore’s 1986 work Batman: The Killing Joke, were major influences on Tim Burton’s 1989 film Batman. In 1987, Miller wrote the story arc for four issues of Batman titled Batman: Year One.  This story became the basis of the first of many scripts and story ideas that eventually resulted in #18 Christopher Nolan’s Batman Begins, co-created with #5 David S. Goyer.  
     After leaving Marvel and DC, Miller went on to create his own independent work.  In 1990 he created the three issue series Hard Boiled, published by Dark Horse, which is in the works to be adapted into a film written by Miller and produced by star Nicolas Cage. No release date has officially been issued. In 1991, Miller wrote and drew his first Sin City story, published under the Dark Horse title Dark Horse Presents. Throughout the decade, Sin City “yarns” became increasingly popular and critically well received, reinvigorating the noir and crime comics genre and giving rise to the 2005 film Sin City. Miller was credited as a co-director on this film with Robert Rodriguez, marking an end to his disdain for Hollywood comic book adaptations. Sin City 2 and Sin City 3 are also planned, with Miller directing both and acting as the producer and writer of the screenplay for Sin City 2. In 1996, Miller created Big Guy and Rusty the Boy Robot for Dark Horse, which led to an animated television series of the same name airing from 1999 to 2001. In 1998, Miller and long time collaborator Lynn Varley created the acclaimed graphic novel 300, on which the eponymous 2007 film was based, which Miller executive produced. His latest project, a film adaptation of Will Eisner’s golden age comic The Spirit, is scheduled for release on December 25, 2008, starring Gabriel Macht and Samuel L. Jackson, with #8 Benjamin Melniker and #5 Michael Uslan as executive producers, and Frank Miller directing.

Influence Meter: ++++++++

The 25 Most Influential People in Comic Book Movies: #8 Benjamin Melniker

Batman '89 logoFormer Executive Vice President at MGM and current film industry legend, Benjamin Melniker is the co-founder (with #5 Michael E. Uslan) of Batfilm Productions, Inc. On October 3, 1979, Melniker and Uslan acquired all feature motion picture and allied rights on Batman from DC Comics. Since that time, this dynamic duo has executive produced every modern Batman film, including Batman (heavily influenced by the work of #7 Frank Miller), Batman Returns, Batman Forever, Batman & Robin, Batman Begins (helmed by #18 Christopher Nolan, co-created by #5 David S. Goyer and instigated in part by an early script by Frank Miller) and the immeasurably anticipated The Dark Knight (also directed by Nolan and co-written with Goyer), opening on July 18, 2008. Melniker and Uslan have produced or executive produced many Batman animated projects, television shows, and spinoffs, including the 1992 “Batman” animated TV series (with development assistance from #13 Mike Mignola), Batman: Mask of the Phantasm, Batman: Mystery of the Batwoman, Batman: Gotham Knight (written in part by David Goyer, to be released direct to DVD July 8, 2008), Batman Beyond: Return of the JokerSubZero, and Catwoman. Other projects include their work together as producers of DC/Vertigo‘s Constantine (along with #16 Lauren Shuler Donner and executive producer #15 Gilbert Adler) which has led the two to sign on as producers of the hopefully coming sequel Constantine 2 (also with Adler and Shuler Donner), and The Spirit, which Melniker and Uslan will executive produce and which Frank Miller will direct, starring Gabriel Macht and Samuel L. Jackson, due to be released on December 25, 2008.  Prior to Batfilm, Melniker and Uslan also notably produced Swamp Thing and The Return of Swamp Thing, as well as the 1990 “Swamp Thing” television series, all based on DC’s eponymous character.

Influence Meter: ++++++++

Some movies I’m eagerly anticipating: 2008

Iron Man               5/2    Directed by Jon Favreau, Starring Robert
			   Downey, Jr. and Gwyneth Paltrow
                           AWESOME!!!
Speed Racer            5/9    Directed by the Wachowski’s, Starring
			   Emile Hirsch, Matthew Fox and Christina
			   Ricci
The Chronicles of
Narnia: Prince Caspian 5/16   Directed by Andrew Adamson, Starring
			   Georgie Henley and Skandar Keynes
Indiana Jones and the
Kingdom of the Crystal
Skull                  5/22   Directed by Steven Spielberg, Starring
			   Harrisson Ford and Cate Blanchett
                           NOT BAD.  KINDA LIKE WATCHING A VIDEO GAME.
Kung Fu Panda          6/6    Directed by Mark Osborne & John Stevenson,
                               Starring Jack Black, Dustin Hoffman and
                               Angelina Jolie
                           VERY GOOD. IN THE SAME LEAGUE AS ICE AGE.
The Incredible Hulk    6/13   Directed by Louis Leterrier, Starring
			   Edward Norton and Liv Tyler
                           HULK SMASH! (BUT HE’S NO IRON MAN.)
The Happening          6/13   Directed by M. Night Shyamalan, Starring
			   Mark Wahlberg and Zooey Deschanel
Get Smart              6/20   Directed by Peter Segal, Starring Steve
                               Carrell, Anne Hathaway, and Dwayne
                               Johnson
Wanted                 6/27   Directed by Timur Bekmambetov, Starring
			   Morgan Freeman, James McAvoy and
			   Angelina Jolie
                           EXCELLENT ACTION & VISUALS, THIN STORY.
Wall·E                 6/27   Directed by Andrew Stanton, Starring
                               Ben Burtt, Paul Eiding, and John
                               Ratzenberger
                           LOVED IT LOVED IT LOVED IT!!!!
Hancock                7/2    Directed by Peter Berg, Starring Will
			   Smith, Jason Bateman and Charlize Theron
                           I LIKED IT.
Hellboy II: The Golden
Army                   7/11   Directed by Guillermo del Toro, Starring
			   Ron Perlman, Doug Jones and Selma Blair
 LACKS PUNCH OF PAN'S LABYRINTH AND GRIT AND COHESIVENESS OF HELLBOY I.
The Dark Knight        7/18   Directed by Christopher Nolan, Starring
			   Christian Bale, Michael Caine and
			   Heath Ledger
                           THE MOST POWERFUL BATMAN FILM EVER.
The X-Files: I Want to
Believe                7/25   Direted by Chris Carter, Starring David
                               Duchovny and Gillian Anderson
Pineapple Express      8/8    Directed by David Gordon Green, Starring
                               Seth Rogen, James Franco and Gary Cole
                           NOT NEARLY AS FUNNY AS I'D HOPED.
Vicky Cristina
Barcelona              8/13   Directed by Woody Allen, Starring Rebecca
                              Hall, Scarlett Johansson, Javier Bardem,
                              and Penelope Cruz
Death Race             8/22   Directed by Paul W.S. Anderson, Starring
                               Jason Statham, Tyrese Gibson and Joan
                               Allen
Babylon A.D.           8/22   Directed by Mathieu Kassovitz, Starring Vin
                               Diesel and Michelle Yeoh
Burn After Reading     9/12   Directed by Joel and Ethan Coen, Starring
                               Brad Pitt, George Clooney, Tilda Swinton,
                               John Malkovich, and Frances McDormand
W.                     10/17  Directed by Oliver Stone, Starring Josh
                               Brolin and Elizabeth Banks
Max Payne              10/17  Directed by John Moore, Starring Mark
                               Wahlberg and Mila Kunis
Quantum of Solace      11/7   Directed by Marc Forster, Starring
                              Daniel Craig and Olga Kurylenko
Punisher:War Zone      12/5   Directed by Lexi Alexander, Starring Ray
			   Stevenson and Julie Benz
The Day the Earth Stood
Still                  12/12  Directed by Scott Derrickson, Starring
                               Keeanu Reeves and Jennifer Connelly
The Spirit             12/25  Directed by Frank Miller, Starring
                              Gabriel Macht, Samuel L. Jackson, Eva
                              Mendes and Scarlett Johansson

Last revised and updated August 20, 2008
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