Monday, May 31, 2010

You Damn Dirty Apes Prequel

A Planet of the Apes prequel called Rise of the Apes is going into production in July. The new movie is an origin story. Three of the original movies were prequels: Escape from the Planet of the Apes, Conquest of the Planet of the Apes and Battle for the Planet of the Apes. I’ve read plenty of comments stating that the real origin may have been changed by the events in Escape, and that this movie will tell what really happened. That may be true, but it seems to me that they make these movies for a new generation that has never bothered to watch the originals and not to enhance the existing ones.

Fox also plans on doing all of the apes in CGI ala Avatar. The only redeeming factor of Tim Burton’s “reimagining” was the makeup. You were able to accept the characters for who they were and forget about the actors underneath the makeup. That was how I felt about the apes in the original movies. I think Avatar did a great job of making us believe the Na’vi were real, but they were a totally new race, something we had never seen before. We know what the apes are supposed to look like, and unless they real change it up for this new movie (which could also be a mistake), all they are creating are CGI versions of the apes we’ve already seen. CGI characters have their place in movies; Gollum is a prime example. However, sometimes CGI becomes a crutch, or an easy fix.

Yes, I am a huge fan of this franchise: movies, TV series, comics. (I once dressed as Caesar for Halloween, and I still have my Mego action figures.) And yes, I am ranting right now. Maybe next summer, when the CGI apes are up on the big screen taking over the world, I will be cheering in the theater.  Maybe.

Monday, May 10, 2010

Frazetta the Legend

Legendary artist and painter Frank Frazetta passed away today at the age of 82. He was best known for his paperback covers of Conan and other sword and sorcery novels. His art was the definition of fantasy.

What most people don’t know is that Frazetta started out drawing comics in all different genres. He also drew funny animal comics and worked on such strips as Al Capp’s Li’l Abner and Playboy magazine’s Little Annie Fanny. In the mid 90’s, Verotik produced comics based on two of Frazetta’s characters – Death Dealer and Jaguar God. Most recently, Image Comics has several titles based on Frazetta’s paintings.

I first discovered Frazetta when I started reading Conan novels. I bought several other books and magazines just for his artwork. His paintings were so realistic and always had movement. You could easily visualize the action that was taking place, and you could imagine what was going to follow. The paintings themselves told stories.

I have never traveled to Pennsylvania to visit the Frazetta museum and gaze upon a Frazetta original. I think to do so would be like standing in front of the actual sun. You know it exists, you’ve seen pictures of it, but until you actually look directly at it, you do not realize the power it holds.