Comedy on the Road as Seen Through a Comics Bloodshot Eyes

50 funniest New Yorkers
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Few characters defy a nuanced portrayal quite as completely as the Punisher. Unless you're reading a comic by Garth Ennis, he's little more than a vigilante who shoots criminals. A lot. Given that most action films don't go much further than that with their protagonists anyway, it's hardly a surprise that we've already had three adaptations over the years. Of those, our favourite sorry, Lundgren fans is the Thomas Jane version, which loosely adapts Ennis' "Welcome Back, Frank" storyline, surrounding the single-minded killer that is to say, the hero with a more colourful cast of neighbours and villains to inject something a bit less monotonous in there than two hours of shooty-shooty gun-gun.

It makes for a distracting couple of hours, and we'd be surprised if it's bettered any time soon. Most people missed the Director's Cut DVD release of Daredevil , and given the poor reception to the theatrical version it's hard to blame them.

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We'd hesitate to call this version completely fixed — it still has the awful costume, the tonally confused playground fight and a massively miscast Jennifer Garner — but it is considerably better than the version that reached cinemas. The Director's Cut is almost 30 minutes longer and adds some gritty, Frank Miller-esque violence, removes the more overt romance elements and includes an entire subplot about Matt Murdock's courtroom battle to nail the Kingpin, giving some much-needed logic to the finale without these scenes, it appears that the villain is arrested for, er, losing a fight to Daredevil.

It's altogether a far superior film and definitely worth re-evaluating if you liked any part of the original. Based on the comic of the same name by former AD editor Andy Diggle and Jock, The Losers is the story of a special ops team whose masters turn against them. Even so, its top-quality cast elevates what could've been a disappointment into something that's better than you might expect. Another film that did reasonably well in its time but has since all but disappeared, the Dick Tracy movie of is a pitch-perfect adaptation of the pulp detective genre that also spawned Batman.

Packed with retro charm and overseen by veteran director Warren Beatty, the film got seven Oscar nominations and actually won three, but its street-level antics and simplistic approach to story and character leave it buried under the more complex, effects-heavy offerings it's supposed to be competing with. Even so, Beatty was recently confirmed as the owner of the Dick Tracy rights after a long lawsuit and plans to bring a sequel to screens. We'd be interested to see that happen. Based on a comic? You bet!

Maybe that's because stripped of CGI, Carrey's surrounding films — Ace Ventura and Dumb and Dumber — were that much better at showing the wacky, physical humour he excelled at. Maybe it's because the cartoon spin-off made people re-evaluate it as a kid's film. Or maybe, given the size of the box office numbers, we all saw it the first time around and never felt the need to revisit it. Whatever the reasoning, it's easy to forget the genius of Carrey's cartoonish bombast when he was still young and eager to entertain, rather than be taken seriously, and The Mask is vintage Carrey from when he was at his slapstick peak.

It's often forgotten that somewhere beneath the Ninja Turtle media juggernaut there was originally a comic series, one which was intended as a satirical mash-up of the most popular comics of the era, Claremont's X-Men and Frank Miller's Daredevil. That's why the Turtles are mutants and that's why their villains are called "The Foot" parodying Daredevil 's The Hand. Several movies have followed. The original live-action film is probably better than you remember and 's CGI-animated sequel, TMNT , was nowhere near as big a hit as it should've been.

But its sequel, Turtles Forever , unites the TMNT turtles with the black-and-white comic versions and cartoon versions for an amazing, if nostalgia-reliant 90 minutes. And hey, at the very least it's likely to be better than anything Michael Bay comes up with…. The original Ghost Rider was a reasonably dumb outing, enjoyable only to those who turned up for flaming skulls rather than a decent story.

But the sequel? Now that was a fun movie yep, we're aware that, er, not everyone agrees on this one. It won't win awards for the story, but at least it wasn't based on the same template every other superhero movie follows, and if you're the sort of person who likes to see Nic Cage doing his thing we hear the guy has quite a following in some circles then you get everything you want and more. Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance goes further than the original in almost every way, embracing the inherent ridiculousness of the character rather than trying to treat it seriously.

When the filmmakers are having fun, the audience can have fun too, and in case there was any doubt that you're supposed to be having fun, Idris Elba turns up as a gun-toting priest doing a cod-French accent. What's not to like? Just ten years after the pulp-throwback Rocketeer debuted as a backup in the pages of Starslayer , the character got his own film courtesy of Disney and Joe Johnston, later the director of Captain America: The First Avenger.

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And it was fantastic. An utterly charming story, with a timeless look and feel. In all fairness, the effects visuals haven't aged particularly well, but as a homage to the pulp roots of the superhero genre it's got a light touch and wide appeal. Family-friendly action from the days before that meant one set of jokes for the adults and another set of jokes for the kids. The character's undergoing something of a renaissance right now in a new series of comics from IDW, and with a new adaptation being talked about there's no better time to revisit the original.

The story itself is set around the turn of the last century and combines pulp adventure and Victorian-era parapsychology to create a classic adventure movie revolving around the eponymous writer and the characters she encounters. Polished, original and witty, it's a film unfairly overlooked for being French-language. Let's try to change that. Sam Mendes' adaptation of Max Allan Collins' graphic novel is almost 12 years old now, but it remains a powerful a story about fathers and sons thanks to its historical setting and beautifully simple black and white visuals.

Set in s America, it follows a mob enforcer and his son as they seek vengeance against a mobster who killed the rest of their family. The superb cast includes Tom Hanks, Paul Newman, Jude Law and Daniel Craig, making it by our reckoning one of the most talent-stuffed comic adaptations ever made. Lauded upon release but quickly expunged from the popular consciousness, American Splendor was an adaptation of Harvey Pekar's long-running autobiographical series of the same name, starring Paul Giamatti as Pekar.

Drawing heavily on Pekar's genius eye for slice-of-life detail and observation, it's full of humour and pathos, but as in the comics industry, this smaller and more thoughtful adaptation has been overshadowed by superhero blockbusters.

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Another film that did reasonably well in its time but has since all but disappeared, the Dick Tracy movie of is a pitch-perfect adaptation of the pulp detective genre that also spawned Batman. The character's undergoing something of a renaissance right now in a new series of comics from IDW, and with a new adaptation being talked about there's no better time to revisit the original. It proved Naomi Watts was going to be a star long before anyone else even realised she existed, and Malcolm McDowell could phone his role in and still be gripping on screen which is good, because that's what he did. The Director's Cut is almost 30 minutes longer and adds some gritty, Frank Miller-esque violence, removes the more overt romance elements and includes an entire subplot about Matt Murdock's courtroom battle to nail the Kingpin, giving some much-needed logic to the finale without these scenes, it appears that the villain is arrested for, er, losing a fight to Daredevil. They're not unlike athletes, really, training for a big race. Or maybe, given the size of the box office numbers, we all saw it the first time around and never felt the need to revisit it.

Despite an Oscar nomination for best adapted screenplay, it remains a largely undiscovered gem. Make sure you see it, if for no other reason than the chance to see the most page-accurate version of a Robin costume yet portrayed on screen It may have been reduced to a single Brian Blessed line in the collective memory, but the 's adaptation of Flash Gordon based on Alex Raymond's comic strip still holds up today, even if it does have a Queen soundtrack.

Strangely, the film performed badly in most countries but was beloved in the UK. Maybe the distance of a few decades will allow a new audience across the globe to discover its charms. Although critically acclaimed and Oscar-nominated, we'd bet most people reading this never found the time to watch it, so let's take this opportunity to encourage you do so.

We know it sounds worthy, looks pretentious and that a film about childhood in an increasingly oppressive regime doesn't promise a very upbeat experience, but give it a try. If you don't love it, we'll be surprised. In certain circles, Batman's animated series is considered the pinnacle of superhero cartoons, but that doesn't mean everyone's aware of it.

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Originally intended as a straight-to-video release, Mask of the Phantasm was considered so good that it was upgraded to a cinematic outing. And if you think that's a low bar, remember that this was only a year after Batman Returns had been released.

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The short notice for this change left the film's box office poor, but the quality of the movie itself has never been in question. The late Shirley Walker's score is outstanding, too. You can read more about her here. Like all Alan Moore adaptations, the V for Vendetta film isn't a patch on the original work, but as a movie it's better than it's often given credit for and even detractors would admit that it remains the Wachowski's second best blockbuster by some distance.

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Admittedly Natalie Portman's accent gets in the way and the use of the word vichyssoise was so forced-in that one suspects the crowbar is still stuck in the script, but the spot-on translation of a downbeat dystopian Britain from page to screen far outweighs the weakness of the casting and dialogue. Purists will particularly denounce the shift in politics and alterations made to Evey's character, but for us those elements fall firmly under the "Why make an adaptation if you're not going to do anything different? The original comic was, after all, a pro-anarchist, anti-Thatcher tract that was very much of its time, and the film uses the same characters and setting to comment similarly on its own era.

Just the fact that it's a blockbuster movie with themes and subtext puts it streets ahead of most. If you've ever read Hellblazer than you have every right to hate this film, from Keanu Reeves' distinctly un-punk portrayal of freelance exorcist John Constantine, to the way it butchers the punchline of the loosely-adapted "Dangerous Habits" storyline, to the strange decision for the title-character to wield a hellfire shotgun what is this, Ghost Rider?

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But try to forget you've ever read a Hellblazer comic, and suddenly this film becomes a lot better. Tilda Swinton as Gabriel was a superb casting decision, and we're clearly not the only ones to think that because it quite cleanly delineates her transition into mainstream film. The story, sometimes described as "Theological Noir", makes supernatural contemporaries like Underworld and Van Helsing look even worse than they were, and the effects provide an unforgettable vision of Hell as a fire-blasted urban landscape.

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There's a lot to like, provided you can forget that it's an adaptation at all. Who knows what went wrong with this one? It wouldn't be prom if someone's date didn't ditch them -- as happens in both "Pretty in Pink" and "Homecoming. Incidentally, there's some great high school hallway hide-and-seek in both "Homecoming" and "The Breakfast Club. Spidey is a nerd. He has a nerdy best friend, and he sits at the nerd table at lunchtime. Yes, we even heard a few '80s-era tunes in the Spidey soundtrack -- including "Save It for Later" by The English Beat -- that would have fit perfectly into almost any '80s-era John Hughes movie.

High school nerds like their gadgets, as seen in both "Sixteen Candles" and "Homecoming. Nerds are also fond of goggles, as seen in both teen movies. View In Gallery. Show Comments.