While 2008 was a high-profile year for movies adapted from comic books (Iron Man, The Dark Knight), 2009 had its own army of super properties arrayed on the big screen — nine notables all tallied, including the highly anticipated Watchmen.
So, how did this year's movies stack up? We take a look back, identifying the 2009 Comic Book Movies: Winners and Losers. And here's a bonus tip for studios that just can't be repeated enough: Don't turn an anime property into a live-action movie. Posted 11.24.09 by reelz
|Title ||Weekend ||Total ||Analysis |
|Paranormal Activity ||$22.0M ||$62.5M ||At the week 5 mark, it's Blair Witch Project $107.3M, Paranormal Activity, $62.5M. |
|Saw VI ||$14.8M ||$14.8M ||Has the indignity of getting crushed by $15K-budget movie, but with a mere $11M budget this pic is already in the black. |
|Where the Wild Things Are ||$14.4M ||$54M ||Big Week 2 drop-off puts the financial viability of this big-budget pic into question. |
|Law Abiding Citizen ||$12.7M ||$40.3M ||Small Week 2 drop-off keeps this thinking man's Saw in Top 5. |
|Couples Retreat ||$11.1M ||$78.2M ||Critics hated on this movie but it's also in the black after its third week ($70M budget). |
Bomb of the Week: This week is a pick'em between Astro Boy and Cirque du Freak: The Vampire's Assistant. Both movies got very wide releases but didn't even crack the Top 5. "Animation fatigue" and "vampire fatigue" were cited. Posted 10.25.09 by reelz
When we first saw the trailer for Astro Boy we wondered if he was Big Boy's little brother. Now he's in theaters and the consensus is "It ain't Pixar but it's still pretty good."
"...better than most of its recent competitors, such as Monsters vs. Aliens and Kung Fu Panda."
— Roger Ebert, Chicago Sun-Times
"If you're pining for the richness of a Pixar film, or even for the crackerjack comedy of, say, Kung Fu Panda, look elsewhere. Yet the new Astro Boy is a marvelously designed piece of cartoon kinetics, with the pleasing soft colors and rounded-metal tactility of an atomic-age daydream."
— Owen Gleiberman, Entertainment Weekly
"...a well-oiled CG-animated superhero pic that makes up in competence and vitality what it lacks in originality."
— Andrew Barker, Variety
"Derivative bits aside, the pint-sized Japanese icon takes flight in vibrant CG animation — no 3D glasses required."
— Michael Rechtshaffen, Hollywood Reporter Posted 10.22.09 by reelz
Though incredible strides have been made in the advancement of computer and robot technology, it's highly unlikely that we'll be seeing a flying boy robot with butt cannons anytime soon. Astro Boy director David Bowers admits that Astro and some of the other robots in the film are extremely "sci-fi-y." He told Popular Mechanics that he did make a conscious effort to base some of the technology in the movie in reality.
I wanted the technology to be relatable. That's why the cars look vaguely like cars. I wanted people to understand without having to say, "What the hell is that?"
Bowers says that, unlike Astro Boy, many of the other robots in the film are more plausible, with a basis in current or near-future technology.
[The other robots] aren't humanoid, like Astro Boy — they're designed to do a job. I just really love the idea of nanobots, they're very cool. And if you're doing a sci-fi movie, you have to have military tech. You have to have robots with big guns.
Astro Boy's nemesis, Peace Keeper, is a gigantic robot capable of repairing and modifying itself by incorporating raw materials into itself, an idea that Bowers admitted was harder to conceptualize than it was for him to imagine.
When I came up with the idea, I thought, I have no idea how I'm going to achieve this! I wanted Astro Boy to be fighting a robot so huge and powerful that people would wonder how he could defeat it.
Astro Boy stars Freddie Highmore as the voice of Astro Boy and also features the voice talents of Kristen Bell and Donald Sutherland. Posted 10.22.09 by BrentJS
While Astro Boy is hardly a household name in America, he is something of a cultural icon in his native Japan. In fact, a six-foot statue of "Tetsuwan Atom" (Astro Boy) was erected outside Ikeda Elementary School in Osaka's Ikeda City to honor Osamu Tezuka, the man who created the character in the '50s.
Director David Bowers (Flushed Away) was the man tasked by Imagi Animation Studios with updating Astro Boy for modern American audiences. Bowers told AMC that he looked to some classic sci-fi films for inspiration.
I think things like Star Wars and Blade Runner have just been so influential that if you make a science fiction film you can't help but include elements. But I was just after making a very cool science fiction film, so I just threw all of the things I loved into a giant melting pot and tried to make something original from it. Somebody asked me during production, "Who's this movie aimed at?" And I cited Star Wars as an example of a film I loved when I was ten years old — I loved the robots and the space battles. And then when I came back to it as an adult, I loved Luke Skywalker's journey and his relationship with his father. So I hoped this movie too would work on different levels.
Bowers designed the world of Astro Boy to be futuristic, yet familiar, a style he calls "retro-futurist."
I wanted to make sure that the Astro Boy movie felt as fresh and new and original to audiences today as Tezuko's strips were in the 1950s. But of course nowadays they look retro and old-fashioned. So I tried to retain elements of that and the feel of it, but sort of update the style of it. Posted 10.20.09 by BrentJS
Initially unveiled at the San Diego Comic-Con to thunderous applause, Imagi's latest animated adventure, Astro Boy, debuts in theaters this week and director David Bowers is hoping that American audiences will connect with his take on the iconic Japanese character created by Osamu Tezuka.
It's such a rich story, and I think its themes are universal. I think American audiences are very used to superheroes, so it's not an enormous stretch for them. The only difficulty was having it be such a beloved character and having to decide what to retain and what to get rid of.
I like origin stories. I think Richard Donner's Superman is still just about the best superhero movie ever made. And I think it's interesting to see where these characters come from and what their roots are. I think it would be hard to jump into an Astro Boy movie with him already fighting robots and battling aliens. Plus, I think the story, what happens to Toby and why Astro Boy is created, it's pretty compelling.
Bowers' first film as a director was the light-hearted animated film Flushed Away, but he got his start as an animator and story artist on such films as Who Framed Roger Rabbit and Shark Tale, skills that proved useful when directing a movie about a robot boy with a fairly distinctive haircut.
The graphic image is great, but in three dimensions when he turns his head one of the hair points disappears. So I swap it over every now and again. So it points left in some shots and right in the others. It's just like Mickey Mouse's ears.
Astro Boy stars Freddie Highmore as the voice of Astro Boy and also features the voice talents of Kristen Bell and Donald Sutherland. Posted 10.19.09 by BrentJS
We've got a new action-packed three-minute scene from Imagi's coming CGI-animated adventure Astro Boy. This is an old anime classic from the '60s that has been given a modern makeover, but if it's new to you, we've included the official synopsis after the clip.
Set in futuristic Metro City, Astro Boy tells the story of a young robot with incredible powers, created by the brilliant scientist Dr. Tenma (Nicolas Cage). Powered by positive blue energy, Astro Boy (Freddie Highmore) is endowed with super strength, X-ray vision, unbelievable speed, and the ability to fly. Embarking on a journey in search of acceptance, Astro Boy encounters many colorful characters along the way. His adventures teach him the joys and emotions of being human, and gain him the strength to embrace his destiny. Ultimately learning his friends and family are in danger, Astro Boy marshals his awesome super powers and returns to Metro City in a valiant effort to save everything he cares about and to understand what it means to be a hero. Posted 09.18.09 by reelz
Imagi Animation Studios has released a series of new stills from the upcoming CGI film Astro Boy. Imagi put on a media blitz at San Diego Comic-Con, showing several unfinished scenes and hosting round table interviews with the cast, and since that time they've been carefully releasing bits and pieces of artwork to help build on the momentum generated at that event.
Astro Boy was directed by David Bowers (Flushed Away) and features the voice talents of Freddie Highmore, Kristin Bell, Nicolas Cage, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, and Samuel L. Jackson. Posted 08.28.09 by BrentJS
After viewing Imagi Animation Studios' unfinished footage of Astro Boy at the San Diego Comic-Con, we had the opportunity to sit down and chat with actress Kristen Bell, who provides the voice of Cora, a character created just for the Astro Boy movie. Bell, famous for her roles on Veronica Mars and Heroes, said, "I saw the movie a couple nights ago and I loved it." Bell went on to say that while the movie contains kid-friendly action, it still touches on some important themes, including the importance of preserving our environment and the old standby of being kind to one another.
Astro Boy was directed by David Bowers and also features the voice talents of Freddie Highmore, Nicolas Cage, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, and Samuel L. Jackson. Posted 08.03.09 by BrentJS
Astro Boy has new life, thanks to CGI magic and the talent of voice actor Freddie Highmore. Created in back in 1950s Japan as a work of manga (Japanese for "comic book") by Osamu Tezuka, Astro Boy was turned into a popular TV series that ran for three years in Japan before being exported to the rest of the world.
Imagi Animation Studios rolled out unfinished clips of the new feature-length CGI Astro Boy movie at the San Diego Comic-Con and Reelz had the opportunity to sit down with Highmore after the presentation for a little Q&A. Watch the clip below for Highmore's response to the question, "Are you personally a fan of animation and comic books?"
Astro Boy was directed by David Bowers and also features the voice talents of Kristin Bell, Nicolas Cage, Nathan Lane, Eugene Levy, Donald Sutherland, Bill Nighy, and Samuel L. Jackson. Posted 07.25.09 by BrentJS