July 31, 2012

The Dark Knight Returns - Trailer

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Frank Miller’s The Dark Knight Returns is a revolutionary comic book that, in combination with Batman: Year One (also by Miller), established the grisly and gloomy tone of the contemporary Batman universe back in the 1980s. Christopher Nolan’s Dark Knight trilogy was heavily influenced by Miller’s graphic literature, and Dark Knight Rises borrows plot elements from Miller’s tale (about Bruce Wayne resurrecting his identity as the Caped Crusader, to battle a new threat).

Miller’s troubling vision of Gotham City no longer has the ability to shock as it once did, but that might not matter, as the trailer for the first half of DC’s Dark Knight Returns feature adaptation suggests it remains as entertaining as ever (even in cleaner, hand-drawn animation form).

"Taking Flight" by Melissa van der Paardt

"Ballad of Poisonberry Pete" by Adam Campbell, Elizabeth McMahill and Uri Lotan

via CartoonBrew

"Fear of Flying" Teaser for Short Film by Connor Finnegan

July 27, 2012

"Cloud Atlas" Extended Trailer

This is the first footage from Lana and Andy Wachowski (creators of The Matrix) and Tom Tykwer’s (Run Lola Run) Cloud Atlas has premiered online. The preview alone is a massive undertaking, as it encapsulates the filmmakers’ kaleidoscopic statement about human existence in a mystifying (some might say confounding) manner. But how can you expect anything less from the combined creative force of Tykwer and the Wachowskis!
David Mitchell’s source novel (and its film adaptation) introduces a sickened clerk (Ben Whishaw) on a Polynesian sea voyage in the 19th century, scribbling his experiences down for the sake of posterity. It jumps ahead in time to the 1930s, where an aspiring composer (also Whishaw) discovers the clerk’s journal – while living alongside a deteriorating master composer (Jim Broadbent), who recognizes the tune his pupil plays... from his dreams.

The result will no doubt be an intense film experience that displays an exploration of how the actions of individual lives impact one another in the past, present and future, as one soul is shaped from a killer into a hero, and an act of kindness ripples across centuries to inspire a revolution.

Gilles Roussel's Seven Deadly Sins

French comic artist Boulet animated the seven deadly sins as GIFs. Go check out Boulet’s Tumblr is also worth a visit. Via Brew.








"Ready...Set...Zoom!" (1955) by Chuck Jones

"Fata Morgana" by Frodo Kuipers

Simon’s Cat in “Window Pain”

July 25, 2012

Delving into Terry Gilliam's Personal Archive

The best find on the internet this week is this little gem; a blog dedicated to showing of Terry Gilliam's personal stash of movie memorabilia and production work, in the words of the blogger (and Terry's daughter):
In October 2011 I took on the mammoth task of organizing my father's archive - all his work from pre-Python days, as a cartoonist, photojournalist & assistant editor for Help! magazine, through all his original artwork and cut-outs for Python animation, posters, logos and generally everything Python, to his storyboards, designs and sketches for his feature films and other non-film related projects (including his opera of "Faust" and that infamous Nike commercial). Why!? Because I have been lucky enough to be surrounded by my father's amazing work all my life and I think it should be seen by everyone so I am organizing the archive so it can eventually be put in a book and an exhibition. Along the (dusty) way I have uncovered absolute gems. I have set up this blog to share my journey and some of the "gems" I find along the way... Enjoy.

See the site.

The Art of Eric Zene

Underwater paintings by Eric Zene! Go check his work here

"Cosmo" Opening Title Sequence

Turner Entertainment Networks International Limited This is an Opening Title animatic I directed for the pilot of an unproduced TV series created by Charlie Bean. Kevin Dart and Alberto Mielgo produced the backgrounds. Thanks to Lee Gingold who helped on few shots. You can see the rest of the opening scenes on Sylvain Marc's blog along with a whole bunch of his artworks.

July 23, 2012

Why Warners Must Unleash The Flash Before They Assemble The Justice League

The Flash

With Batman in the bag and Superman on the way, Warner Bros. is still in the kind of long-term trouble a superhero team understands all too well. Like a group of heroes blindsided by a syndicate of villains that pulled off a world domination ploy, Warners is scrambling to come up with a plan to challenge Marvel Studio’s $1.5 billion The Avengers world take-over. We all know what that plan is: assemble the Justice League movie. We also know the big question Warners is frantically facing right now is how they’re going to do that.

The studio can balk at mimicking a competitor’s model all they want, but the way to get everyday non-comic reading people to really care about a Justice League movie is to roll out the individual hero projects first. Warner Brothers can’t assume people want a Justice League movie simply because everyone knows who Batman, Superman and Wonder Woman are, or that post-The Avengers there is a guaranteed appetite for superhero mega-mixes. For a team-up flick to have maximum impact – i.e. maximum box office returns – without sacrificing integrity or quality, Warners needs to build a demand. The only way to do that is construct a road paved with exciting, entertaining, excellent movies (give or take an Iron Man 2 or two) that compound anticipation and audience faith.

That’s why the most important movie Warners makes specifically building to Justice League will be their first one. It has to instill confidence the studio can do this right, otherwise nobody will care what comes after, and all momentum will be lost before it ever gets going. So, the studio needs to ensure the first movie under the new strategy is good, and it has to be very careful which character it picks to speed out of the gate first. To be their Iron Man-like catalyst. They require the right hero who can get the masses excited about the road to Justice League. There is only one superhero who can do that job, and it isn’t Superman, Batman, Wonder Woman or Green Lantern.

It’s Aquaman!
I’m just kidding. Nobody likes Aquaman.

It’s The Flash.

Fun and Full of Potential

Warner Brothers needs their own Iron Man, and The Flash is the one who can give them that. The reason the Jon Favreau/Robert Downey Jr. vehicle proved to be the perfect jump-start for Marvel’s plans was that they went (partially by necessity) for the opportunity to surprise and excite the masses with a lesser-known superhero. They allowed non-comic reading audiences the possibility of discovery with a character worth discovering: an entertaining crowd-pleasing hero with wildly fun “powers” who was – despite all the humorous cocky bravado – very much human. Marvel ultimately succeeded with Iron Man because they gave us a hero we not only wanted to be like (one of the sources of all superhero enjoyment), but one that we emotionally understood and were invested in.

The Flash has the same kind of potential to surprise and connect with audiences. Like Iron Man, he’s not as well known as his more famous brethren (and nothing like them), which will make the discovery of his powers – inherently exciting and conducive to entertaining action set pieces – all the more rewarding for unfamiliar audiences to enjoy someone not as exhaustively represented in movies. He’s accessible, likeable, has a great costume and has a lot of potential for good stories. Most importantly his inherent disposition and personality can provide something Warners could really use right now: fun.

The Flash represents the valuable opportunity to bring more levity to the studio’s superhero universe. The post-Avengers world has made clear that audiences can enjoy both joyous superhero romps and gritty realistic genre elevators, and while Warner Bros. may be tempted to counter Marvel’s in-house style by solidifying their own brand of real-world superheroes, they shouldn’t. The studio has the unique chance with The Flash to distinguish themselves from Marvel by incorporating both styles into one. It’s an opportunity WB should take, because what it needs now is not more of the same grit and grim, but a quick burst of joyous superhero fun to get people excited for a Justice League movie. Don’t get me wrong, a deep, dramatically rich and serious movie like The Dark Knight can spark anticipation and excitement too, but the way for Warner Brothers to dog the skepticism it’s facing might be to do something different than what it’s been doing. Nothing instills quite the same sense of fun and excitement as being surprised with something unexpected, which is what made Iron Man such a runaway hit.

Just Like Us But Super

The Flash – like Iron Man – wouldn’t just provide a diverging and entertaining ignition to WB’s Justice League plans, but would also introduce a needed humanity to their superhero efforts. What Marvel Studios has done remarkably well is ground their superheroes in a basic relatable humanity (even when they’re invincible gods). It’s something that has always been more difficult to do with DC’s central superheroes. For all their immense popularity, Wonder Woman, Superman and Batman’s status as icons (it’s significant to note Marvel’s A-listers are rarely referred to as icons) have made it hard to make them more accessible. They too often are defined by what they do in costume, not as much who they are behind it. It’s no accident that I imagine few of us can say we relate on a human level more to Batman than Spider-Man.

That’s why Warner Brothers needs The Flash – who is arguably one of the most human of all DC superheroes – to get people to care and emotionally invest not just in him, but to use him as a conduit to care about every movie afterwards leading to Justice League. Like Spider-Man, what has distinguished The Flash – notably under Geoff Johns’ and Scott Kolins’ care – from all the other superheroes with enviable powers is that beneath the mask he is an everyday person we can see ourselves in (unlike Batman, Superman, etc.). Whether it’s Jay Garrick, Wally West or Barry Allen, the men who have worn the red and yellow tights over the years have been everyday guys and family men, deeply connected to their working class roots, city, friendships (super or otherwise) and daily normal lives.

The Flash isn’t about the mask, it’s about the man wearing the mask. It’s that quality that will elevate him beyond the superficial coolness factor he possesses and make him resonate not just as someone we want to be, but already are.

For all the virtues of the Scarlet Speedster that make him an ideal character-based choice to galvanize interest in a Justice League movie, he’s also been made the ideal candidate for Warners’ first new super wave movie partly by default. That’s because none of the Big Three – or anyone else – is in position to step-up. Nobody seems to ever know what to do with Wonder Woman, so it might be wise to take the time to make sure they get her right.

Superman and Batman (possibly Green Lantern) are disqualified because they probably will need rebooting, and the studio has to let some time pass for that to happen – otherwise they risk provoking the kind of mass disgruntlement that greeted The Amazing Spider-Man. Sure, like with Spider-Man people would still show up, but you don’t want to launch your cross-over franchise with people grumbling about too-soon reboots. The effect and excitement would be dulled. As for the other superhero Warners is lining up, I’ll eat a live full-sized shark Old Boy style if Aquaman turns out. Green Arrow risks being too much like Batman, and Lobo, Suicide Squad and Shazam aren’t the heroes to provide the spark plug Warner Brother needs.

The Flash is the only one who can step up. It’s just fortunate for Warner Brothers that the sole superhero that can save them is also the best one to do so. If the studio can realize the potential of The Flash –as a cool superhero as well as a personable character – and pull off a great movie that surprises audiences, then they’ll entice something even more valuable than viewer confidence and excitement: curiosity. The moment moviegoers walk out of the theater they’ll immediately wonder: if the studio got the Scarlet Speedster right, what great things will they do next?

It’s the same question we all asked ourselves about Marvel Studios after walking out of Iron Man. A $1.5 billion grossing Avengers movie later, and it’s safe to say that turned out pretty well. Curiosity puts butts in seats, and all it takes is one movie to ignite that flame. All it takes is a successful Flash movie, and the journey to a successful Justice League will have solid footing and be well on its way.
What do you think?

Fuel TV - "Sackrifice" by Buck

Teaser - "Viaje a pies" (travel by feet) by Khris Cembe

"Pete Hothead - Four Wheels No Brakes" by Ted Parmelee & Sam Clayberger

Beats Rhymes & Life - Title Sequence

A well executed title sequence is hard to come by these days. Then you see Michael Rapaport’s Beats Rhymes & Life - The film is very honest, giving fans a behind the scenes look of the broken relationships between the featured band members that led to their breakup. These colorful illustrations by artist James Blagden and animator Phillip Niemeyer with help from Doubleday & Cartwright really set the stage for the documentary; capturing the bold spirit of Tribe’s music and the visual style of the nineties.

Stills courtesy of Doubleday & Cartwright and ilovehotdogs.