Monday, September 01, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy Awesome Mix Vol. 2

Just my suggestions for the next movie's Awesome Mix Vol. 2:

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

1. Motherlode - When I Die
2. The Stampeders - Sweet City Woman
3. Pure Prairie League -Amie
4. Rick Derringer - Rock & Roll Hoochie Koo
5. Edgar Winter Group- Free Ride
6. ELO - Twilight

7. David Bowie - Look back in Anger (1979, might be too late in their timeline) or, Suffragette city 1972

8. Looking glass - Brandi you're a fine girl

9. Sugarloaf - Green Eyed Lady - How's that for Gamora?

10. Steely Dan - ?
11. Marshall Tucker Band? Heard it in a love song

We have to remember that this tape was put together by Star-Lord's mother, so the songs would stay on the fun and light side. I'm still up in the air about these:

The Temptations - Papa Was A Rolling Stone (referring to Star Lord's real father)
The O'Jays - Back Stabbers
The Allman Brothers Band?
Led Zepplin?

Guardians of the Galaxy - Film References Part 1

Guardians of the Galaxy was a nice treat for a busy summer this year. I almost felt like I was watching the original Star Wars for the first time. Nice balance between action and humor. And experience helped me notice quite a few references to other classic movies. These were deliberate tributes, I believe. Such as the classic prison line-up shot:

(All images copyright Marvel/Disney, unless otherwise noted.)

"The Usual Suspects"...

...which comes from classic Film Noir.

(original copyright Bad Hat Harry Productions, Blue Parrot, 
Spelling Films International, Gramercy Pictures, and PolyGram Filmed Entertainment)

Star-Lord, played by Chris Platt, gives us a misfit, wise-guy hero who is still lovable. He's sort of a jerk, but he grows on you the way Han Solo did. Peter Quill/ Star-Lord has the same identity/disrespect issues that Mister Furious (Ben Stiller) had in Mystery Men. His first opponents respond with "You're who?" or the "I don't care” attitude.

The Raiders of the Lost Ark homage didn't register with me. The scene went by too quickly. Star-Lord didn't have too much trouble getting the Orb out of it's force field container, and then he seemed to give up to easily when confronted by Korath The Pursuer.

(copyright Universal)

Neither guy gets the respect he demands. Rodney Dangerfield, look out!

Another movie reference in Guardians gives us the classic "Walk" shot...

Mystery Men had theirs...

(copyright Universal)

Which was a play off of The Magnificent Seven...

(original copyright The Mirisch Company/Alpha Production)

Which in turn was inspired by Akira Kurosawa's The Seven Samurai.

(original copyright Toho Productions)

The bigger theme was the oddball, rag-tag fighters coming together for a common cause. The obvious example was the original Star Wars:

Nothing new under the sun, or the galaxy for that matter.

I don't mean to be critical here, but they may have been trying to squeeze in too much.

In Independence Day we have the giant starship descending on the planet, and the high-tech fighters engaged in a frantic dog fight over the city...

 And the similar scenes with Ronan's ship.

The Abyss: Maybe I'm reaching here, but the way Star-Lord rescues Gamora seems like a switch on Ed Harris' Bud Brigman's decision to let his ex-wife Lindsey (Mary Elizabeth Mastrantonio) deliberately drown in hopes that she can be revived later:

In Guardians it's sort of the reverse: Peter Quill/ Star-Lord puts his space helmet/ mask on Gamora to save her life, without regard as to how long he can withstand the lack of air in space.
Korath The Pursuer
Korath The Pursuer

Coming up next: Vin Diesel's Groot as compared to his Iron Giant, alien abduction themes, such as Close Encounters of the Third Kind, and the Dirty Dozen - misfits sent on suicide mission.

Saturday, August 30, 2014

Guardians of the Galaxy - original comics

Finally saw Guardians of the Galaxy. It's a great, fun action movie. (Just don't try to sit back and think.) I was a little leery of how the Marvel superhero movies tinker, or mostly just steamroller over their original comics' history. But they did do justice to some old childhood friends. Seeing all these heroes and villains was almost like a family reunion.

Wow, where to start? I still have the Marvel Preview 11 Star-Lord graphic novel from 1977.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

This comic blew me away. Except for his living starship, Star Lord was a loner, driven by angst over his mother's murder by aliens. I had seen the earlier Star-Lord black and white comics, but the art and story turned me off. Chris Claremont and John Byrne must have known the original Star Wars was on the way, so they carved out this jewel for Marvel. In Marvel Preview 11, Star Lord eventually picks up some allies and discovers his real father was the Emperor of the galaxy.

A lot of water has gone under the bridge at Marvel, and Star-Lord has been revamped over the years. He had gone from being a kick-ass cosmic vigilante to becoming a beat up loser. For superhero movies, being part of a team seems to be a big selling point these days. So, Star-Lord gets thrown in with a group of misfits:

Gamora created by Jim Starlin

Originally trained by the master villain Thanos, Gamora is still green, and deadly enough to give even Star-Lord a hard time in a fight. But she is still one of the underdogs, and has a uphill battle all the way.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Drax the Destroyer, also created by Jim Starlin

Drax used to have a lot more cosmic power, and he used to be green. In the Captain Marvel comics, he turned out to be more like Thanos' punching bag. In the film, he remains this noble, stoic character, but he keeps getting pulverized by Ronan the Accuser. I wish they could have stayed more faithful to his original look. Fortunately, Jim Starlin got a screen credit for creating Drax, Gamora and Thanos too.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Rocket Raccoon created by Bill Mantlo and artist Keith Giffen

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Rocket used to have other animal pals that had much more lighthearted adventures. I guess the Beatles never complained. I still have this in my parents' attic somewhere.

Which leaves us with Groot, created by Jack Kirby.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

I thought Groot was something they made up just for the movie, but he turned out to be "real". Talk about making Mulligan's stew with leftovers, but it works. "GotG" may be the biggest hit of the year. Now I'm trying to imagine these characters working together in their original forms. 

But I never got into the original Guardians of the Galaxy comic. This movie is a far cry from the original comic, and I used to get them confused with the Guardians of the Universe from Green Lantern. Some geek I am.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)

Good thing Marvel held on to this copyright. It must be a nerve wracking experience to decide which property will take off and become a box office blockbuster. The alien archer Yondu got quite an overhaul, going from a superhero to an outlaw leader of a group of "ravagers".

* * * * *

 Bring on the Bad Guys. To my knowledge, Ronan and these characters never crossed paths, at least in the "Bronze Age" of comics.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)
 Special guest villain - Ronan the Accuser.

(copyright Marvel/Disney)
Extra special guest villain - Thanos!

Forty years ago, I could not  have imagined movies like this. The special effects technology simply did not exist. And audiences would have laughed... or yawned at actors running around in tights!
But someone had the drive to put out this film. I haven't enjoyed a movie like this in a long time.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Disney Fantasia Ostrich Ballerina meets Wander over Yonder Sylvia

Still trying to get back in my groove after my trip to Canada...

Here's another quick mashup of Wander over Yonder's Sylvia, and the Ostrich Ballerina from Disney's Fantasia. The potential for calamity here must be astronomical. I wonder how long Sylvia would put up with "Mademoiselle Upanova's" haughty attitude...

Probably a whole 2 seconds I would think...

(All artwork copyright Disney Corp., strangely enough.)

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Spongebob Squarepants Pearl meets Emperor Awesome

Finally back from my Canada trip with no internet access for over a week. (Just got back from Illinois, locked the front door, oh boy, look at all the happy creatures dancing on the lawn...)

Speaking of fantasies after a long trip, here's a quick mashup of Wander over Yonder's Emperor Awesome, and Pearl from Spongebob Squarepants.

(Artwork copyright Disney and Nick Studios)

I pasted Pearl into the scene from "The Fancy Party". Awesome tries to put some moves originally on Sylvia, but I thought Pearl's reaction here is just as priceless. What the hey, they are both sea creatures, right?

Thursday, July 24, 2014

A world without books

Still getting used to a generation of animation students who don't rely on books. While there is a huge amount of material and tutorials online, I wonder how they "index" it all in their minds.

And I don't just mean bookmarking websites. Growing up with books made me learn how to "index" which specific material was in which particular book. My point is, what will they do when they are in a situation where they might be cut off from the web? Of course that might be in the midst of a huge natural disaster. Don't mean to be so gloomy, but what will the human race become?

 "Books? Yes, we have books."

(screenshots from George Pal's Time Machine, copyright 1960 Galaxy Films, Inc. Originally distributed by MGM, now handled by Warner Home Video )

Sunday, June 22, 2014

Facebook and your privacy

Found this on Digital Village on KFPK. It seems Mark Zuckerberg has to know your business, even after you have logged out of Facebook. Anything to make an extra buck.

The procedure to keep Facebook off your back is listed here:

Did you ever have the feeling you were being watched?

Friday, June 13, 2014

Tove Jansson

I stumbled across a copy of "Who will comfort Toffle" while on an expedition to Hi-De-Ho Comics in Santa Monica last week. I had seen some of the Moomin books before, but it never quite clicked in my head that it was all written and drawn by Tove Jansson.
Anyway, there were some interesting characters in Jansson's work, besides the Moomins. Earnest, yet surreal at the same time, Jansson's characters grapple with the mysteries of life, along with the humdrum chores that go with it. And also some very strange neighbors:

Something about the work made me feel young again, as corny as that sounds. It took me back to when I was little, and all ladies were lovely, mysterious giants.
(all artwork copyright Tove Jansson)
Sorry I didn't find these books sooner. But it made sitting on the 405 with an overheating radiator worth the trip.