Sunday, 18 March 2012

Xcursus: John Carter Movie Review...

I'd seen John Carter on Tuesday (March 13), but I've been so busy that I was unable to write a review (even though I completely intended to). Then I was added into the Take Me Back to Barsoom! I want a sequel! Facebook group & I decided I should do my bit as a fan of the movie. I haven't read the book or the comics- all my prior knowledge about the John Carter universe came from online news & reviews.
The film follows John Carter (Taylor Kitsch), a Civil War veteran, who discovers the secret of a mysterious "cave of gold". He soon finds himself transported to Barsoom (which he later learns is actually Mars), replete with green four-handed giant Tharks led by Tars Tarkas (Willem Dafoe) & the humanoid alien race from Helium ruled by the beautiful Princess Dejah Thoris (Lynn Collins) & her father Tardos Mors (CiarĂ¡n Hinds). There's a war waging between Helium & the Zodangans aided by the shapeshifting & technologically-advanced Therns (with Mark Strong's Matai Shang at the fore) & Carter realizes it may just be in his destiny to help end it.
The first thing after seeing the film that I felt really glad about is that the two main leads, Kitsch & Collins, FINALLY get their chance to shine in a film that I'm sure will prove to be a great vehicle for them both. Taylor's mature strong voice really hits you when he starts with the narration. He delivers a consistent performance, portraying the (amusing) confusion of Carter on landing in the strange place along with his strength & pathos that truly make you root for the character.
It was awesome to see Lynn Collins actually getting something she could really sink her teeth into- Dejah is a strong, intelligent, ballsy woman who knows what she wants & how to get it. Added bonus- she's a killer sword-fighter! Collins manages to pull off the character of a princess torn in two- what she wants from her life & what her people need from her in order to safeguard their existence on Barsoom. AND Lynn accomplishes this WHILE looking drop dead gorgeous!
What can I say about Andrew Stanton? He's a Pixar director (Finding Nemo, WALL-E). Both films won the Oscar for Best Animated Film. Nuff' said. You won't be able to tell that this is his first time directing a live action movie. The Helium palace scenes (below) made me feel that Stanton could have been a good bet to helm Thor 2! Apparently the character of John Carter in the books was pretty one-dimensional, but Stanton succeeds in making you feel for the character & you hope that he meets with a happy ending. Add to the direction the wonderful editing- especially with that amazing action scene that beautifully intertwines flashback scenes from Carter's tragic past in it.
The story is well-written, wasting no time on unnecessary thrills. The movie speaks for itself & doesn't feel the need of simply bombarding the audience with one action scene after the other. This is not to say there isn't enough action- there's plenty of awesome action to go around! All the characters are well chalked out with clear motives & every element serves its own purpose. I like that the film doesn't always take itself too seriously & interjects the heavier scenes with a bit of wit & humor.
Now when you have a Pixar director at the helm you'll obviously expect top-notch VFX- AND it definitely delivers on that front as well. The locales of Barsoom & the visually stunning aircrafts are breathtaking to watch. And of course, who can forget about the aliens! ALL of them (below)- the Tharks, the monstrous white apes & the adorable Woola, have been so painstakingly created that it actually aids your belief in the mythos of Barsoom, however outlandish it may be. Here I'd like to make an interesting note- all the Thark actors (Dafoe, Samantha Morton & Thomas Haden Church) acted in motion capture suits & walked around on stilts, for appropriate eye contact between the "normal"-height characters & them. So all movement & emotion you saw on the Tharks was very real.

This movie definitely is one of those that needs a mention on it's costume design. Their translation of the John Carter Barsoomian costume is bang-on, probably even cooler than the He-Man-like comics one. When I saw the trailers for the John Carter movie, I was bummed to not see Lynn Collins in the skimpy costumes that her comics version dons :P, but then the character wouldn't have been taken seriously. I suspect Dejah's remark on the rather revealing outfit she wears towards the end of the movie (below) was a tongue-in-cheek comment aimed at the outrageous comics costumes themselves! Also, smart move of making the Heliumites as simply a tanned & tattooed race- in the books they are actually red-skinned.

All in all the movie more than just manages to transport you to a whole new world- It's a tale that touches on several human themes despite featuring a whole host of aliens. I'd give the film a very well-deserved 8/10. If you're already a fan of the source material I suggest
you give the movie a go. And even if you weren't one (like me), this movie is sure to still leave you thoroughly entertained.

UPDATE (30/3): The Back to Barsoom FB group now has a website! Check it out & don't forget to sign the petition!

Saturday, 17 March 2012

X-Event: 2012 Comic Con Schedule & London Super Comic Con cosplay!

This year we have new Comic Cons to look forward to! And you know what that means- more X-cosplay madness & X-news & previews! :D Below is the current Comic Con schedule for 2012. I'll update it with info on any Cons that I may have missed out on as soon as I get it. I know the MegaCon & London Super Comic Con have already taken place, but I just post to have a complete schedule of all the main or new Comic Cons...If you got a Comic Con you wanna see listed out here, just comment on this post.
Comic Convention Dates Venue
MegaCon Feb 17-19 Orange County Convention Center, Orlando, Florida
London Super Comic Convention Feb 25-26 Excel Center, London
WonderCon March 16-18 Anaheim Convention Center, California
C2E2- Chicago Comic & Entertainment Expo April 13-15 McCormick Place, Chicago, Illinois
Wizard World Toronto Comic Con April 14-15 Metro Toronto Convention Centre, Toronto, Canada
Kapow! Comic-Con May 19-20 London Business Design Center, London
San Diego Comic Con July 12-15 San Diego Convention Center, California
Dragon*Con Aug 31 - Sept 3 Atlanta, Georgia
New York Comic Con Oct 11-14 Javits Center, NYC

This was the inaugural year for the London Super Comic Con & many of the big-wigs from the comic book industry showed their support & made their presence felt at the event. Loads of publishers & creators both big & small showcased, sold & signed their work.

While there weren't any Marvel events, comic book legend Stan Lee was present (see right >) on both days at his own LSCC panel! Apparently memorabilia including oil paintings signed by Stan The Man were being sold for £1,150 a piece!

On Feb 25, a cosplay competition was held & you'll can see some of the awesome cosplays at the LSCC! London has definitely got it alright! Check out some of the cosplays below!

Rogue (& Gambit)

^1, 2- Rogue in her Shi'Ar costume! I know right?? So AWESOME to see a different Rogue costume than the standard one. Ditto for 7 which is X-Men Evolution Rogue!

X-23, Daken, Sage, Wolverine, Domino

^2, 3 is a different spin on Daken! 

Hope Summers, Jean Grey, Pixie, Jubilee
^1, 2 is a GORGEOUS Hope ♥! 3- Classic Jean Grey with Rogue & Pixie. 4- An amazing Pixie!

Gender-bender Magneto & (X-Men First Class) Professor X
^These are pretty good concepts!

Group Photos

^1- X-23 with DC's Black Canary & Poison Ivy
2- Kingpin, Thing, Bloody Mary & Deadpool.
3- This has the complete view of that rad Hope costume. She's here with Shockwave & Joker.
4- Valkyrie & Scarlet Witch

*Special thanks to Jennie, blogger at Fancy Dresscapades, for her quick response with the photos she & her boyfriend took at the Con!
*Kacey Lucius
*Mark Gascoigne

This is only the beginning of the 2012 cosplay- LOADS more cosplaying goodness will be coming your way out here- so keep your eyes peeled for the updates! (Hint: The next cosplay post is a "mega"-sized one! ;P )

Monday, 12 March 2012

Xhibit: Mystique Joins X-Force! :D

Here's another artwork submitted by me for the Artists Assemble segment of the Comic Book Nerds Are Hot Facebook group. For this one, we could draw any character from any media (movies, tv, comics, games, books) but as a member of Wolverine's X-Force. So that basically involves the trademark black-&-grey costumes, masks (if needed) with red eyes, weapons & blood. Lotsa blood. :P

If you been reading my blog from the time I started, you'd know that I'm a HUGE Mystique fan, so I knew I just HAD to draw her donning the X-Force duds! It's just a happy coincidence that she can also be a murdering bitch which makes her a perfect fit for the X-Force team! You can download the artwork I created as a wallpaper (1280x1024). Below are two versions: clean & bloody.

When thinking of ideas about what her costume & weapons would look like, I was gonna go for her leather pant suit look that she sported in her solo series Mystique Vol. 1 #1-24 (see below) but then realized that it wouldn't be challenging enough so I decided to go with changing up her classic white costume (you know, the one with the skulls). Also I decided she didn't need a mask cos, duh- she's a shapeshifter! And since imo her yellow eyes look gorgeous on her blue skin, I didn't give her red eyes either.
^Mystique's solo series issues #1, 4, 6 & 12. I used the title
Below you can check out all the images I used either for inspiration when sketching her out or for the background...

^Mystique in her classic white costume, the Uncanny X-Force costumes, X-23 in her X-Force costume without the mask & the boots!

^These are the actual props used in X-Men The Last Stand as the cure guns.

For the background I used one of the stills released for Resident Evil 5 (aka Resident Evil: Retribution)

Do lemme know in the comments if you liked the wallpapers. Critiques are most welcome as always...

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