Let’s Recast The Fantastic Four The Right Way

ff21It looks like 20th Century Fox is going ahead with their reboot of the Fantastic Four, and many fans are already up in arms over that development. They fear the reboot will be as bad as previous attempts and the negative reaction is so intense that many are hoping it stays in development hell rather than being filmed.

What is so troubling for them and myself included are the casting choices being mentioned in the trade papers. While Michael B. Jordan as the Human Torch is an intriguing, though out-of-left-field possibility, some like Miles Teller as Mr. Fantastic just left me wondering what the hell is going on with the casting director. Has anyone looked tellerat this actor? He looks like a dweeb! I’m sorry but nothing about Teller gives the impression that he is a gifted scientist type. And given how young he is, it’s pretty clear that the filmmakers are going to emulate the Ultimate Fantastic Four comic book, which if you ask me wasn’t good at all. The comic book isn’t even being published anymore! Making the superhero team a bunch of child prodigies was a mistake and took out vital parts of what makes the team so fun. See, they’re a family unit, with Reed Richards as the father figure, Ben Grimm as the grumpy but lovable uncle, Sue Storm as the mother figure and her brother Johnny being the impulsive kid in the bunch.

But that doesn’t seem to be the way that Fox is going. Getting a bunch of young actors for these roles is more important to them since they want the movie to appeal to the teenagers. The problem is that the kind of teenagers they’re trying to attract don’t care about the Fantastic Four and probably wouldn’t see the reboot anyway. Then many of the teenagers that do care about the FF will probably be so turned off by the radical changes that they will boycott the film.

Let’s pretend that we’re actually in charge of casting the Fantastic Four reboot. Forget about trying to get the popular young actor and let’s try to stay faithful to the comics. After all, the Fantastic Four put Marvel Comics on the map with their novel approach to super heroics. Now I know that the following choices won’t even be considered, but they’re who I would pick for a new Fantastic Four film.

hammReed Richards/Mr. Fantastic: Going with a twentysomething is the wrong approach to Marvel’s premier scientist. Reed is the 21st century equivalent of an Einstein and he should look the part. As the leader of the Fantastic Four, Mr. Fantastic should be portrayed by a more mature yet fit actor. There are many excellent choices out there for the role and even Ioan Gruffudd did a decent job as Mr. Fantastic. For the reboot Jon Hamm would be fabulous (pun intended) as Reed Richards. He’s the right age for the part (Reed is roughly in his early forties), looks intelligent and emotes a grounded and mature quality needed for the leadership role. Other choices: Casey Affleck; Misha Collins

Sue Storm/Invisible Woman: Jessica Alba, the previous actress to portray Richards’ fiancé then wife rankled many alice evefans who didn’t think she was right for the part. Putting aside her ethnicity, Alba lacked that motherly/big sister/peacekeeper quality needed for the role, but she wasn’t the worst casting choice–more on that later. Now hands down, Alice Eve, most recently seen on Star Trek Into Darkness is a perfect pick for Sue Storm. She looks the part and has the acting chops to pull off the role easily. Eve can do the more brainy and modern interpretation of Storm seen in the comics and can be a tough lady when needed. Other choices: Evan Rachel Wood; Blake Lively Continue reading

Spidey’s Back!

Spidey!In a move that really wasn’t all that surprising to us, Marvel Comics announced that Peter Parker will once again be Spider-Man this spring. The New York Daily News broke the story earlier today in a feature that included an interview with Spider-Man writer Dan Slott.

For anyone who doesn’t follow the latest happenings in the Marvel Comics universe, Peter Parker’s consciousness was removed from his body by his long-time foe Doctor Octopus in a mind swap. Doctor Octopus was dying and did the switch in order to survive. This all culminated in late 2012 with the final issue of the long-running title The Amazing Spider-Man, which was number 700. The title was replaced by The Superior Spider-Man, which featured Doctor Octopus masquerading as Peter Parker/Spider-Man and his darker, meaner take of the superhero divided fans. Many decried the fact that their beloved nerd, Parker, was dumped in order to give new blood to the Spider-Man comic books. But a vocal number of readers came to like the new Spider-Man who wasn’t so noble or honorable. This divide will probably continue for the rest of the character’s history.

Still, fans who disliked the new ASm2Spider-Man are breathing a sigh of relief at the news, which isn’t truly surprising. Think about it, a big-budget movie is coming out in a few short months (The Amazing Spider-Man 2), and it wouldn’t do to have a disconnect between the comic book and movie versions of Spider-Man. The idea of explaining to non-fans that the Peter Parker in the comic books isn’t really him, but the one in the movies is the real deal, can leave anyone confused. This is Marvel’s most famous and beloved superhero, after all. In the long run, that character change couldn’t be permanent. It’s all part of branding and marketing efforts to increase buzz and comic book sales. It worked in the past with so many other superheroes –Superman, Batman and Captain America have had similar storylines where they were replaced. But these marketing gimmicks, while they do work, create negativity and cynicism about the company, since the average reader knew that despite Marvel’s insistence in 2012 that Peter Parker was dying off, that things would go back to the status quo.

This doesn’t mean that The Superior Spider-Man was a flawed effort, it did have its merits and presented a fresh take on Marvel’s flagship superhero. But it is a bit of a relief that the happy-go-lucky Peter Parker is back in a new launch of The Amazing Spider-Man. If only it didn’t have to be relaunched as an issue number 1, but that’s the marketing department for you.

Lewis T. Grove

Khristmas Klingon Style

klingon khristmasOne of the stranger gift requests I received for this Christmas is the new Star Trek book A Very Klingon Khristmas by Paul Ruditis. It’s obviously a parody about the holiday season done Klingon style. Sure, there are many absurd Klingon parodies floating around pop culture out there, but this is one of the more better made ones. BTW, the honor for the most bizarre, yet hysterical spoof is the Klingon video parody of Psy’s famous dance song “Gangnam Style”.

Getting back to A Very Klingon Khristmas, the book looks at the holiday from a Klingon point of view. The holiday being celebrated tongue-in-cheek style is the birth of the mighty Klingon warrior Kahless. In the Klingon holiday, Santa Claus has retractable claws and leaves tribbles in the stockings of the naughty kids, and so on. But, what really sells the book are the Norman Rockwell-like paintings (by Patrick Faricy) that capture the festive, family mood of Christmas with a Klingon spin.

klingon carolers

It’s a cute and fun book for Star Trek fans that isn’t too pricy, (less than $20) though the hardcover is only 32 pages long. That’s something to consider if you’re doing some last minute shopping and need to get something for a Star Trek fan. Look at it this way, A Very Klingon Khristmas will last longer in a fan’s memories than another Star Trek calendar.

So this can be the start of a new kind gift idea. Who knows? Maybe they’ll do other Christmas-themed Star Trek books. Personally, I’d like to read a A Ferengi Christmas Carol. 😀

Annette DeForrester

2014 Hallmark Sci-Fi Ornaments

scout trooper 2This holiday season’s Hallmark ornaments for sci-fi and other genre fans has been a bit lacking. Don’t get me wrong, they’re beautifully crafted, but there isn’t a lot to choose from. Next year, on the other hand, promises a treasure trove not just for Star Wars ornaments, but for other popular films and TV shows.

Star Wars

The Star Wars ornaments made by Hallmark are increasingly popular, which is evident from the variety of available ornaments. The 2014 Hallmark Star Wars ornaments are sure to be sought after by many Star Wars fans. They include:

  • The sandcrawler terrain vehicle used by the nomadic Jawas in Star Wars Episode IV: A New Hope.
  • The alien Cantina band from the same film, and the ornament will feature sound. Hopefully it will have the famous, space jazzy music heard in the background when Luke Skywalker and Ben Kenobi entered the Cantina.

CANTINA

  •  An Imperial scout trooper as seen in Return Of The Jedi. Sorry, no speeder bike. Maybe in 2015, unless the new Star Wars film hogs up everything.
  • Darth Vader from the final moments of Star Wars Episode III: Revenge Of The Sith, when he is fitted with his infamous armor for the first time. If all goes well, we won’t hear him screaming “NOOOO!”. Then again that should be good for a laugh around the Christmas tree.
  • A LEGO version of Boba Fett, the bounty hunter.
  • Another Peekbuster ornament with the motion detector that was used last year for Darth Vader. This time Yoda will do the honors and unlike Darth Vader, Yoda looks more suited for the Peekbuster job. That’s because his green skin goes better with the red Santa clothes.

Star Trek

There will be only three Star Trek-based ornaments released by Hallmark in 2014.  They are the U.S.S. Vengeance PA.INT.34205S_H7.Cship featured in Star Trek Into Darkness, Sulu wearing the original series uniform and a diorama featuring Spock mind-melding with a Horta as seen in the classic Star Trek episode “The Devil In The Dark”. Hopefully by the time the 50th anniversary of Star Trek comes around in 2016, Hallmark will beef up their offerings.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy/Superheroes

Unlike this year, there are plenty of inspired Hallmark ornaments planned for 2014. Superhero ornaments will include Spider-Man, the Hulk, Superman in his modern suit shown in The New 52 comic books and the Adam West version of Batman ornament that was delayed previously. Also worth mentioning is that the Batmobile shown in Tim Burton’s Batman will be available.

superman hulk ornament

As interesting as the superhero ornaments are, the 2014 Hallmark sci-fi and fantasy ornaments will really whet genre fans’ appetites. I can already see some of these hanging from the tree next year. Announced so far are:

alien ape

  • The voracious alien xenomorph from the classic film Alien. Sure, it’s probably too ghastly to hang on a Christmas tree, but it sure is lovingly rendered as seen from photos. It will look great on a shelf or desk.
  • Cornelius from the original Planet Of The Apes film. No word yet if ornaments based on the modern Planet Of The Apes movies will be made.
  • Last year’s ornament of the DeLorean car from Back To The Future was very popular. It was Starloggers’ pick for ornament of the year. For 2014, Hallmark will release another version of that famous car, but it will be the flying DeLorean seen in Back To The Future, Part II.
  • Godzilla! No images are available at the time of this article, but it should be awesome. Hallmark gets extra points if the Godzilla ornament has his famous roar.
  • Harry Potter has become a mainstay with Hallmark ornaments and the 2014 ornament will be of him and Professor McGonagall.
  • An ornament based on The Hunger Games films.
  • The great white shark from Jaws! I’m already humming the Jaws theme.
  • Sloth, the deformed, but lovably goofy Fratelli brother from The Goonies.
  • Thorin Oakenshield, the leader of the dwarves from The Hobbit.

 frankenstein

  • Like the Alien and Jaws ornaments, this one about the Frankenstein monster from the classic Universal Studios films may not go with a Christmas tree. But it looks fantastic, too!
  • Another Hallmark sci-fi ornament coming out in 2014 will be of Optimus Prime, the heroic leader of the Transformers. The one shown in photos looks to be based on the toy and not the Transformers films.

Waldermann Rivera

Remembering Photo Novels

bsg bookDuring the ’70s and early ’80s photo novels (sometimes called movie novels) were popular movie or TV tie-in book adaptations. Following the format of a comic book, these adaptations used picture stills instead of artwork to tell a story. Either word balloons or off-panel dialogue were used and the photo novels were an innovative concept that didn’t go for the traditional adaptation that were sometimes a chore to read.

In an age before the VCR or DVD or even the digital download these books were great for fans who wanted to relive in a small way the experience of watching their favorite film or TV show. And there were hundreds of stills that were never seen before. The best books were the large format adaptations of Alien and Outland since the larger book size meant the pictures were bigger. Of course, the trade off was the cover price ($8.95 for Alien as opposed to $2.95 for Star Trek: The Motion Picture!).

Sadly, as new technologies emerged and print costs went up these types of books were discontinued in the early ’80s, trek pagealthough one was made for The Blair Witch Project in 2000. Many knew something was amiss when the Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan photo novel came out in black and white. The obvious reasoning behind this move was to cut production costs while keeping the book at a reasonable price for consumers. While it featured terrific and rare stills from the movie, the thing wasn’t in color and not visually appealing.

On a side note, photo novels are still produced for online viewing. The BBC’s website has several for Classic Doctor Who stories. There are also fan-made and professional photo novels with original stories that are online for Star Wars and other properties. Comic book artist and writer John Byrne announced in June this year of his intent to make an original Star Trek photo novel.

page 2There weren’t many photo novels produced (no Star Wars, darn it!) during its heyday, but they are great collectibles for anyone who can find them or unforgettable gifts for fans.

The list includes: Alien, Buck Rogers In The 25th Century (the pilot TV film released in theaters), Close Encounters Of The Third Kind, Outland, The Lord Of The Rings (the animated version), Invasion Of The Body Snatchers (the 1978 remake), The Rocky Horror Picture Show, Star Trek: The Motion Picture, Star Trek II: The Wrath Of Khan, The Incredible Hulk (TV pilot), Battlestar Galactica (the TV pilot), and assorted Star Trek episodes (“Amok Time”, “The Trouble With The Tribbles”, The Deadly Years”, among others).

Waldermann Rivera