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Monday, July 28, 2008

Birds of Prey Redux



Finally the DVD set for the 2002 "Birds of Prey" TV series has come out. Here are my reviews of the program reviewed as it aired back then:

Birds of Prey

It's really not as bad as I thought back then. Perhaps it got better with age. It's not the comic book, not by a long shot, but if you go in with an open mind and a blank slate without knowledge of the comic... it's really not bad.

Sunday, July 27, 2008

Mamma Mia!



What a fun movie experience!

Mamma Mia! was a wonderful mouthwash after seeing The Dark Knight, reaffirming my love of film letting me know that everything on the big screen isn't complete dog feces.

Fun and wonderful are only two of the adjectives I have for this musical. As a virgin to the stage show I wasn't quite sure what to expect beyond ABBA music. I grew up in the 1970s so I was exposed to quite a bit of it, some I liked and actually owned. Yes, I'm a straight man who admits to liking ABBA. Deal with it.

Sophie, played by up and coming name to watch Amanda Seyfried, is getting married and has invited three men who she suspects could be her father to the wedding. From there, as they say, hilarity ensues, but with an ABBA musical flavor. I must say this was quite surprising with Meryl Streep (as Sophie's mother) and even Pierce Brosnan (one of the potential fathers) among others displaying heretofore unknown singing talents.



Above the rest, Christine Baranski and Julie Walters especially feature here as Streep's best friends and former back-ups in her old singing group, Donna and the Dynamos. Baranski in particular shines in her own number "Does Your Mother Know." The entire cast, many of which are Greek extras, jumps in on the fun of singing throughout the flick. It is however notable that it doesn't seem like any woman on this Greek island wears a bra. This is both for better and worse.



This is a fun movie, a terrific and more than welcome step back into the age of musicals - and highly recommended. And don't forget to stay through the credits for the cast doing a few more songs in full seventies ABBA-ish regalia.

The Annual FundsforWriters Essay Contest

The 7th Annual FundsforWriters Essay Contest, sponsored by IdeaWeaverSoftware.com.

FundsforWriters and its annual sponsor IdeaWeaver, creator of writing and creativity software, announce the 7th Annual FundsforWriters Essay Contest.

THEME: "The Best Advice I Ever Had."

As is the FundsforWriters trademark, applicants enter with or without an entry fee, their choice. Prize monies range from $10 to $200.

LIMIT: 750 words.

DEADLINE: October 31, 2008.

http://www.fundsforwriters.com/annualcontest.htm

Direct any questions to Hope Clark here.

Saturday, July 26, 2008

Estelle Getty Passes at 84

BET's Black Panther



The trailer for the new "Black Panther" animated series for BET debuted at the San Diego Comic Con today. Here's a peek.

Animated might be a strong word based on this trailer, but with recent animated projects like "Invincible" and the "Watchmen" Motion Comics on iTunes using much the same techniques, the style may have come into its own.

Stan Lee created the Black Panther back in 1966 in an issue of Fantastic Four and the character is considered one of the genre's first African-American superheroes. In recent years, the Panther's own title, sometimes written by screenwriter and director Reggie Hudlin, has become one of the more controversial comics on the shelves.

Launch for the animated series is set for sometime early in 2009 according to BET.

Friday, July 18, 2008

Read the Label

This one's for The Christian Voice. You know those folks who can't read a simple label, or do their research.

Regarding the release of the Black Canary Barbie, based on the female role model and super-heroine who has been gracing the pages of various DC Comics since 1947, this is what a spokesperson from Christian Voice had to say:

"Barbie has always been on the tarty side and this is taking it too far. A children’s doll in sexually suggestive clothing is irresponsible – it’s filth."



One of the things that bother me most about the Great Uninformed Masses and anything to do with comic books is the perception that comics are just for kids. Nope. Wrong the first time. Current demographics put the main comics audience in their twenties, thirties and forties. That's pretty far from kids' ages. And even if you want to reach back in time to a more innocent age, Black Canary has always worn fishnets. Since 1947. I'm just guessing that it's the fishnets are what CV are calling sexually suggestive. Are they against the Rockettes too?

The other thing, the most important thing perhaps, is that Mattel will be marking this product, due for release in September, for adult collectors. It is specifically part of the Black Label Collection, packaged and marketed specifically for the adult collector market. Hear that, Christian Voice? Not for kids. So why the whining?

And if Black Canary's costume is so offensive, where have you been since 1947? Where were you when she was featured on popular TV series like "Smallville," "Justice League Unlimited" (a cartoon! and you all know those are just for kids!) and "Birds of Prey?"

No matter, as I said, Christian Voice obviously isn't an organization that's big on things like reading or research. If you check their website, which I won't advertise here, you'll find that they really don't have time to read and research. They're much too busy committing verbal hate crimes against the gay community.

Remember Slade?



Slade in Flame ~ Though largely a British phenomenon, some of you may remember Slade as the band whose songs Quiet Riot frequently covered when they had their fifteen minutes of fame. Slade had a brief moment here in the States after that, but back in the 1970s, they were one of the major forces in the UK glam rock movement. Notably they inspired Kiss, Cheap Trick, the Ramones and some say This Is Spinal Tap. Whether that last one is a compliment though is hard to judge.

The movie Slade in Flame is a whole ‘nother thing of course. This fictional account of the behind the scenes antics of the glam rock band Flame, played by Slade (duh), is sometimes amusing but mostly falls flat with that odd British dry humor we Americans rarely get. On the other hand, there’s no denying the charismatic power of lead singer Noddy Holder. He has a style envied and copied for decades now, and the performances are electrifying. Fast forward to the music and forget the rest.

Breaking Into Comics


Countdown to Wednesday ~ The title of this documentary references the day that comic books are released every week, and invariably the day consumers pick them up. As with any documentary on this subject, I fear that my fellows in the field and hobby will be humiliated. It’s just like when a new Star Wars or “Star Trek” movie comes out and people get in line early to see it – the media always finds the most absurd, bizarre and obsessed fan to interview, and then we’re all embarrassed.

But it’s not that kind of documentary thankfully, it’s something else entirely. At its start it appears to be a primer for folks who want to get into the industry. Using interviews with writers and editors in the field it teaches what to do to get in, what books and resources should be utilized for writers. Heck, this is as useful for any writer as it is for an aspiring comic book writer. Excellent advice here.


Now there're also segments about artists, self-publishing and the business of comics - and they're good too, but it was the writing parts that really got my attention. Excellent documentary for anyone interested in the comics field and even for those new to the genre. Must have for those wanting to break in to the business. Recommended.

Thursday, July 17, 2008

The Watchmen Trailer


Oh my God.

The Watchmen preview is now online at Apple.com. If the movie is half as good as this trailer makes it look - this is going to be better than any of us could have possibly hoped...

See it here.

Wow.

Sorry, Harlan

The Oscar ~ This 1966 film was notorious in my teenage years. It was known as one of the worst movies ever made, and it was also the main reason my favorite author, Harlan Ellison, had so much contempt for Hollywood, as it was co-written by him. The really bad part was that it very rarely aired on TV. The one time it did, it was so boring I fell asleep before it had barely begun. Luckily (or maybe not) I got a chance to see it again recently, and in its entirety.

Based on the novel by Richard Sale and starring Stephen Boyd, hot off of Ben-Hur, the lovely Elke Sommer, and believe it or not, Tony Bennett in a dramatic role, the flick actually boasts quite a cast and crew of superstars and behind-the-scenes masters. At first glance, this could have been, and should have been a surefire hit. The question is – what happened?



The acting. To paraphrase Colonel Kurtz – “The acting, the acting…” When the performances are good, they’re over the top, and when they’re bad, they are so camp it would make a drag queen blush. The Oscar feels like the love child of Peyton Place and Mommie Dearest. More than once I had that same feeling I have when watching Showgirls… did they let the cast in on the joke? If this had more music, more costumes and more patient pauses, this could be another Rocky Horror midnight movie sensation.



Sorry, Harlan. Proof positive that you can have Jill St. John do a striptease, and your movie will still suck. The Oscar is so bad, it’s good, but not that good.

Wednesday, July 16, 2008

What's Muh Up To?

While the rest of the pop culture universe is going insane hand over fist over cameraphone to get pics of Brangelina’s new twins, me, I’m still thinking about Madonna.

I have a love/hate relationship with the woman I fondly call Muh. I’m not mean; I won’t call her 'Madge' like TMZ. I think she’s a wonderful performer and entertainer, possibly one of the most savvy businesswomen around and arguably the best self-promoter on the planet. Her every move is calculated, even when it doesn’t seem like it.

But this, what’s this about? Madonna and A-Rod? Alex Rodriguez of the New York Yankees is the latest to be rumored to be romantically linked to Muh. A-Rod’s wife has apparently lost her mind over this, understandable that, but no one seems to be talking to Muh’s husband Guy Ritchie about any of this. Either way, Madonna thrives on this kind of stuff and Muh will survive. No doubt, baby.

The bigger story might be the age difference between Muh and A-Rod. Alex Rodriguez is 33, while Madonna (according to her official biography at least, and I don’t believe it for a second) is within months of 50. That makes the Immaculate One a cougar, doesn’t it?

Also in evidence would be her new Hard Candy CD in which she’s helped by wunderkind Justin Timberlake and his producer buddy Timbaland, both of whom are around half Madonna’s age.



So while Madonna only has four minutes to save the world and is learning new tricks from ex-boy banders, could it be she’s also teaching ball players two decades her junior new tricks? Older women/younger men relationships are nothing new. Heck, 'boy toy' was in the vernacular at least two decades before 'cougar.' And the video clip for "Four Minutes" says a lot as well. Just the fact that Muh can keep up with Justin on the dance floor is worth a thousand words.

It’s always been said that women mature faster than men. Add in the fact that women reach their sexual prime in their thirties and men at eighteen and you can see it’s a winning proposition.

Except of course if you’re Guy Ritchie or Cynthia Rodriguez…

For more on cougars and the sexuality of the older woman in general, I suggest you check out the blog of fellow writer and friend Fran Metzman, The Age of Reasonable Doubt. She’s got her finger on the pulse of all that and more.

True Blood Is Coming

It’s true. The vampires are out of the closet, in more ways than one, and they’re coming to HBO – in "True Blood."



After a blood substitute has been manufactured and distributed, vampires, no longer having to feed on humans, reveal themselves to the world. It turns out they are everywhere and now want to assimilate into society.

"True Blood," the new series from HBO is the work of mastermind Alan Ball of "Six Foot Under" and based on the wonderful Southern Vampire Mysteries books by Charlaine Harris. If that’s not enough to bring you on board, it stars the lovely and talented Anna Paquin. The series debuts on HBO in September.



For more on "True Blood" – check out Bloodcopy.

Tuesday, July 15, 2008

Confessions of a Mike Mignola Elitist


You're probably expecting a review of Hellboy II: The Golden Army that reflects on the differences between the film and the comics. Well, surprise, I can't do it.

I have a confession to make. I've only read two Hellboy comic books in my entire life, and those I read because they also included Starman, one of my favorite characters, so I didn't pay all that much attention to that Hellboy guy. Now trust me, that's no slight to writer/artist/creator Mike Mignola. Only a fool would dismiss the man's talent and position in the comics field, but I'm sorry, the man's style just never grabbed me. And if Mignola doesn't do it for me, why would I pick up one of his comics?

That said, I really enjoyed the first Hellboy movie as well as the animated pseudo-sequels Sword of Storms, Blood and Iron and The Phantom Claw. Suffice it to say, in the non-comics media, I love Hellboy, even though my knowledge of the characters and the continuity is limited to the movie experience.

Hellboy II: The Golden Army continues that tradition. I did have some trepidations regarding director Guillermo del Toro, especially after seeing Pan's Labyrinth which was just damned disturbing to me, and considering the amount of new creatures in this film - but didn't need to be. The flick is a glorious adventure into a new world of special effects. Wonderful and bizarre all at once, and with a quirky sense of humor - which I might add, Mike Mignola had no small part in as he was fully involved in the project. Highly recommended and lots of fun. And maybe I'll be picking up a Hellboy comic soon.



P.S. All Barry Manilow fans will love this movie!

Previews


Star Trek, back to basics and back to the beginning by J.J. Abrams of "Lost" and Cloverfield - coming for Christmas.


Obviously this Jason Stratham vehicle (pun intended) was put into production thinking Speed Racer would be a success, and anyway wasn't it about time for a Death Race 2000 remake?


Speaking of remakes, I'm not sure what to make of this. Did this near-perfect classic even need to be remade?

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Quickies 7-12-2008

The Ruins ~ Adapted by Scott B. Smith from his own novel, for a change, at this is supposedly a horror flick that might have some of the same bite as its book. The previews for The Ruins gave me the willies just seeing less than a minute of it, and as I watched the DVD I hoped I hadn’t seen it all. Well, I hadn’t seen it all, but I did guess most of it. And my original thoughts on the writing proved wrong as for whatever reason the author chose to change around a few characters and their names and fates. It has a few good scares, not counting Shawn Ashmore with a perm, and is quite graphic and gory, genuinely hard to watch in a few places – but just an average horror outing, nothing special.

Camp Rock ~ I have nothing against Disney trying to bottle lightning again in the High School Musical vein, except when it seems packaged and formulaic. Other than being an average Disney Channel movie, and an obvious vehicle for the Jonas Brothers, the biggest sin of this flick is its painful similarity to HSM in plot, characters and tone. Sometimes lightning just doesn’t strike twice. Harmless and entertaining, but it’s no High School Musical. Nice to see Julie Brown again though.

Don’t Worry We’ll Think of a Title ~ Written and produced by Morey Amsterdam and starring the lesser half of the old “Dick Van Dyke Show” suffers from a feeling that it would have been a bad 1940s soundstage comedy when in reality it was made in 1966. An early scene features Moe Howard staring January Jones right in the breasts. That’s about as funny as it gets, and that wasn’t in the script. I think, if I had been fourteen when I first saw this, I would have been in stitches. A case of mistaken identity, lots of classic cameos and one liner set-up after one liner set-up make this mediocre flick sometimes painful to watch. It would have been a great sketch but not a whole movie.


The Devil’s Rain ~ If you’re not a horror fan, most folks when they think of this flick will remember it’s John Travolta’s first film, but then gain, it’s nothing to get excited about because he’s barely in it. As far as acting goes, this is a great flick for seeing William Shatner and Ernest Borgnine overact, and to see some of Keenan Wynn and Tom Skerritt’s more embarrassing performances. Also look for Ida Lupino in one of her last roles. Eddie Albert is there, as is real father of the Church of Satan, Anton LaVey. Other than the above The Devil’s Rain is actually an above average devil worship B-movie for the time. Sone of the things that kick it up a level are things like the credit sequence featuring art by Hieronymus Bosch and the aforementioned LaVey as a ‘technical advisor.’ Good and scary popcorn movie for a Friday night with the lights out.

Tuesday, July 08, 2008

Batman: Gotham Knight



This is a bold venture from DC Comics and Warner Brothers, an anime version of Batman from six of Japan’s greatest animators telling six interlocking stories that occur between Batman Begins and the upcoming The Dark Knight. Written by Americans and animated by the Japanese, it is to Batman franchise what The Animatrix was to The Matrix trilogy.

The first tale, animator Shoujirou Nishimi’s “Have I Got a Story for You,” is a fun but bizarre combination of the episodes “Almost Got ‘im” and “Legends of the Dark Knight” (included on the Blu-Ray version of this disc) from “Batman: The Animated Series” with a Rashomon spin. And speaking of the animated series, refreshingly Batman is once again voiced by Kevin Conroy, the grandmaster. Skate punks describe three different Batman sightings to each other before they all see the real thing in action together. Imaginative, twisted and fun.


Greg Rucka and Futoshi Higashide’s “Crossfire” is done in more traditional anime style and surprisingly features Crispus Allen, a character from the Detective and Gotham Central comics, and more notably for the real fanboys and girls out there – he’s the new Spectre. But this is pre-Spec, and he and his partner are ordered to take the techno-maniac –captured in the previous episode- to Arkham. Arguing on the way back about whether Batman is a good thing for Gotham or not, they get caught in a crossfire between rival gangs, Maroni and the Russian. Guess who shows up to save the day? Other than Crispus Allen, there’s not much surprising here. The visuals are exactly what one might imagine when one thinks ‘Batman anime.’

The third segment, “Field Test,” is the one that was previewed early on Comcast OnDemand. The style shows Bruce Wayne as a particularly younger looking individual, skewing from the continuity, and vibing the young heroes who usually inhabit Japanimation. Despite the startling visual, Conroy’s Wayne voice still fits perfectly, maybe even better. The “Field Test” Batman has a very interesting look – sort of Zoltar meets Gyaos meets Jack the Ripper. This segment, besides being a fun story and continuing the thread of the whole package, is also a delightful look at the Bruce Wayne ‘disguise.’

“In Darkness Dwells” brings a new villain to the new Batman universe, one that has been around in the comics (and animation) since the 1980s – Killer Croc. For the uninitiated, Croc is a grotesque reptilian man-monster that fits in perfectly with the rest of Batman’s bizarre rogues gallery of freaks, inhumanly strong and also a cannibal, fun for all. Like a baby alligator, he’s right at home in Gotham’s sewers.

Now might be a good time to mention a major character in this animation, Gotham City itself. Gotham has always been a character in the comics, if not in words then definitely visually after Anton Furst’s Oscar-winning designs in Tim Burton’s 1989 feature. Subsequent films have thrown their own ideas into the mix, Batman Begins giving us Chicago with a gothic twist for Batman’s hometown. This DVD continues in that line, giving all the segments the perfect background and atmosphere.

This one, written by screenwriter and comics writer David S. Goyer (Blade, Jumper, The Dark Knight) and animated by Yasuhiro Aoki (Sailor Moon, Neon Genesis Evangelion), is probably the best of the bunch. The interplay between the Batman and Gordon is priceless and the set-up in the sewers is classic horror movie protocol. And Aoki’s Scarecrow is truly frightening.



Segment five, Batman comics writer Brian Azzarello’s “Working Through Pain,” appears to be a direct sequel to the previous chapter unlike the others. It’s possible, but probably not true – close-eyed viewers will note the wound is on the other side from where Croc bit him. Having been wounded (maybe in combat with Killer Croc, maybe not), Batman flashes back to the past, and his training in India, reportedly a sequence that was supposed to have been in Batman Begins. I gotta say, I was unimpressed with this one, nice voice work by Parminder Nagra as Cassandra though.

“Deadshot,” the final chapter features, guess who, Deadshot. Written by another fantastic writer Alan Burnett, the man who resurrected “The Twilight Zone” in the 1980s, and wrote all the really good Earth-Two stories, this one pits the Batman against his deadly assassin foe, Deadshot. I really didn’t care for Madhouse’s weirdly shaded animation here but no matter how you slice it, the execution here is near perfect. The music by Robert J. Kral here is beautiful and it paces the action exquisitely. Great stuff.

All in all a wonderful collection and the stories are linked well. Refreshing and imaginative, Batman: Gotham Knight is a wonderful addition to any comics fan’s DVD collection.

Bozo the Clown, Larry Harmon Passes



Larry Harmon 1925-2008

Monday, July 07, 2008

Almost Incredible


The Incredible Hulk ~ I’m a bit puzzled over the rave reviews for this flick. I mean this isn’t a terrible film, but it’s not a great film either. I do wonder however if the rumored extra 70 minutes would improve or wreck the flick. I think critics are just thankful it was more Iron Man than Spider-Man 3, and most of all that it wasn’t Ang Lee’s Hulk (even though I liked his interpretation).

The extra footage is what may or may not temper this flick, but we’ll have to wait for the DVD for that, hopefully. Also the cut footage was also why star and writer/re-writer Ed Norton would not do any press for the film. He apparently disagreed with its final cut. I don’t disagree at all. Norton frequently puts his all into a project and is not only a perfectionist, but also very passionate. I’m sure the Norton version has a lot more heart than what we’ve seen so far on the big screen.

That said, there were sequences in this film that were just amazing. The opening scenes in Central America show an intriguing village set along the side of a mountain. The first thing I thought was what a great place for a big chase, but only the Bond films do that sort of thing any more. I was delighted to see an exotic locale used for more than just being pretty. The chase rocked.

There is also the college scene where the Hulk is attacked by the military on the college campus. This was a nice homage to the comics as in for most of the character’s early career he fought against the US army. This one sequence rolled like a greatest hits and was done well. Bravo.

The rest of the film had really nothing to offer in the way of the same spectacularity. Honestly the final battles between Hulk and the non-reptilian Abomination were frankly boring except for when the Hulk finally speaks (without explanation I might grumblingly add). The CGI effects were far too dark, fast and blurry for me to marvel at, at least.

What is fun with the rest of the film are the vast amount of Easter eggs and nudges for fans of the comics. There are so many. From the credits with documents flying by signed from SHIELD and Stark Industries to the origin of Hulk archenemy The Leader to the fact that the Abomination is transformed by the same super-soldier serum that created Captain America to the Iron Man star who shows up at the end of the flick. Lots here for the fanboys.

And that’s not even mentioning the nods to the TV series, from direct frame steals from the show’s opening to the appearance of Lou Ferrigno (also the Hulk’s voice) and even Bill Bixby on a TV rerun of “The Courtship of Eddie’s Father.” Also look for Stan Lee in one of his more amusing cameos.

The remaining cast is less than satisfactory in comparison to Ed Norton. Liv Tyler is okay but she's no Jennifer Connolly and her Betty Ross is less than adequate. Tim Roth is good for the time he's on the screen and William Hurt only makes a good General Ross if you've never seen Sam Elliott in the role - one he was born to play. And don't miss 1960s "Spider-Man" voice actor Paul Soles as Stanley the pizza shop owner.

All in all, it’s recommended, especially for comics fans. It’s no Iron Man, but it still rocks.

Wall-E


WALL-E ~ “Waste Allocation Load Lifter Earth Class,” Wall-E (pronounced Wally) for short, is a love story and a tale of courage. Writer/director Andrew Stanton originally visualized this Disney/Pixar flick as “What if mankind evacuated Earth and forgot to turn off the last remaining robot?” The story expands from there.

Left behind to clean up mankind’s ecological mess while the human race goes off into space, Wall-E soon finds himself alone in this endeavor. When a robot probe, the super-slick EVE model, lands to explore Earth, clunky trash compacter Wall-E falls in love. Eve finds proof of life and returns to space with Wall-E in tow. The plant she finds leads the remaining humans, made fat and lazy by a life waited on by robots, to believe it’s time to come back home.

There are moments when Wall-E could have been as preachy as the early 1970s eco-scifi flicks like Soylent Green or Planet of the Apes but it rarely strays in that direction. Of course the accusative finger of Corporate America isn’t hard to see in Buy ‘n Large but it’s a point not hammered home like it could have been. In the end all is right and everyone lives happily ever after – a nice change of pace from most ecological disaster movies.

It’s worth noting that the first hour of the flick is without dialogue, an achievement worthy of praise in this day and age. With an economy of lines, Jeff Garlin is wonderful as the Captain and Fred Willard is surprisingly good as one of Pixar’s first live-action actors.

Speaking of Pixar, there are tons of great cameos from previous films among Wall-E’s junk collection and among the debris littering Earth. And don’t miss the cartoon before the feature. “Presto” is one of Pixar’s best. All in all, a pleasant family experience.

Wednesday, July 02, 2008

Wanting

Wanted ~ Wanted, the comic book mini-series by Mark Millar and J.G. Jones, is about super-villains, superheroes, global conquest, brainwashing, parallel universes and secret conspiracies. Wanted, the movie, is about a fraternity of assassins and secret conspiracies. Hmmm, just like the Superboy comics and the “Smallville” TV series. The names are the same and the characters seem familiar, but in reality they are two completely different animals. This is very loosely based on the comic book, so much so I think it should have said just that in the credits. The stories are sort of close, close in that same way that The Godfather and Mafia! are both about organized crime. But while the comic was one of the best on the shelves in the last few years, the movie after the first hour becomes just another over-the-top action movie. And not a very good one either. Ride yes, movie no.


James McAvoy plays mild-mannered, apathetic, panic attacked loser Wesley Gibson whose life is turned upside down when he’s informed his father is one of the world’s greatest assassins and he has to take his place in a secret fraternity of assassins. In several twisted Rocky/Batman training sequences he makes the grade and begins the hunt for his father’s killer. McAvoy is a lot of fun, and he’s very good. He’s got quite a bit of range in his past roles and I always look forward to seeing his work. That said, I liked his human Wesley more than his super-assassin Wesley.

Co-star Angelina Jolie looked suitably sexy and dangerous as the Fox, one of the few names kept from the comics. Other than eye candy however, she’s not much else. Morgan Freeman is, well, Morgan Freeman. It was refreshing to hear him swear once in the flick. It reminded me of his Oscar-caliber role in the much-overlooked Street Smart all those years ago. Ya know, with a nudge and some effort I think Morgan Freeman could easily be Samuel L. Jackson again. Common doesn’t have a lot to say, but damn, he still looks fierce. Marc Warren, who I loved when he appeared in “Doctor Who” and “Life on Mars,” is terrific as the Repairman. He’s a face to watch.

There are some truly spectacular stunts here but the quick cut shaky cam tricks do this flick a solid disservice. Why create terrific stunts if you’re not going to let the audience see them? Equally, the curving bullet effects are cool, but after a while they became just that, another overused effect. It reminded me of the visuals in The Matrix and Jumper - it just ain’t that special if it’s used too much. And the Danny Elfman soundtrack is superior, especially “The Little Things,” perhaps his first real rock vocal since Oingo Boingo.

The biggest loss, in my opinion, of this non-adaptation of the source material is that the outstanding villain of the piece is not the frightening Joker-template, Mister Rictus as in the comic, but instead Wesley’s overweight harpy of a boss, Janice. Great comic and good summer fodder for a movie ride. Worth the ticket price, but still Wanted left me... wanting. All in all I think I’ll read the comic series more times in my lifetime than I’ll watch this again.