For those unfamiliar with this segment, it’s just a list of a few items of note from the World Wide Web that I found interesting or thought worth mentioning. Perhaps you’ll agree.
First up, as mentioned last Various Bits segment, friend and fellow cartoonist Max West launched his Kickstarter for Dominic and Claire Circus: A Comics Cavalcade of Chuckles! I put in my pledge and will show you what I got in a video once it comes in. If I didn’t mess up my math, this Kickstarter has 9 days left for you to support Max and his terrific comics. Please show him some love by going here.
Those who know me know I’m a fan of Mark Borchardt, who is most commonly linked to the documentary American Movie, which follows his struggling journey to make his short film, Coven. Mark’s a very kind and smart guy whom I admire (side note: He and I seem to have had similar journeys in the creative field despite practicing different disciplines). This video shows a bit of why I like him and, if you know me, you’ll see which parts he and I line up on.
We got a teaser for Stranger Things Season 4. Only watch if you want a spoiler. (The thumbnail has the spoiler so use this link.)
Lastly, I want to end with a special nod to my friend and fellow superhero author, Frank Dirscherl. He is the creator of The Wraith, a pulp hero in the vein of the Shadow who has multiple books out, comics, and a movie. Frank’s also expanded the merchandising part of The Wraith character, which is quite interesting to watch unfold. Please visit Frank at The Wraith’s lair by going here.
The Wraith: Eyes of Judgment (2005) Written by Stephen J. Semones and Frank Dirscherl Directed by Stephen J. Semones Runtime 50 min. 4 out of 5
I’ll admit I’d been looking forward to this film for a long time and when I finally received a rough cut of the film in the mail from the film’s director, Stephen J. Semones, I was pleasantly surprised by what I saw.
The Wraith: Eyes of Judgment is based on The Wraith comic series and novel created by Frank Dirscherl. It follows the story of Michael Reeve, an honest and dedicated cop who, through an encounter with The Wraith, finds himself adopting the crime fighter’s identity, both as The Wraith and the hero’s alter ego, billionaire Paul Sanderson.
This is the first longer-than-five-minutes independent superhero movie I’ve seen and I have to admit I was quite amazed, and pleased, with what I saw. There was an atmospheric sense to the film that made you believe, yes, you were in The Wraith’s world and you truly felt his presence. There’s a scene right at the opening that does that—an encounter between The Wraith and a robber—setting the tone for the rest of the film.
The special effects were great—the CGI backgrounds, the “eyes of judgment” glowing on The Wraith’s chest, the sweeps of the city—and there’s no complaint from this fanboy here.
The music was amazing. Then again, when getting Emmy-award winning composer Larry Groupé (Apt Pupil, The Usual Suspects, The Cable Guy) to do the music for your film, amazing is something of an understatement. The music was heroic, dark and, to a degree, sad. It really carried a sense of emotion, which helped move the story along. Speaking of music, “Home of Darkness,” sung by Mandi Leigh during the credits, was extraordinary and I wish there was a soundtrack for the film available because of it.
The action and fighting were great and there were some really cool, super-realistic sequences where I jumped in my chair after each punch or kick. There was only one fight sequence that lasted just a few seconds that looked rehearsed.
The story was down-to-earth, human, realistic and didn’t carry the sense of “there’s no way this can happen” like some of the superhero stuff coming out of Hollywood. You honestly believe that this story could happen in real life, which to me is a huge plus as I often wonder if superheroes could ever truly exist off the comic book page.
Having read both the novel and the comic, the major props for the movie go to Stephen J. Semones for directing a flick that was 99% true to source material. Of course a few minor changes had to be made, but that’s film for you. Staying true to the comic or book the story is based off of has been time and again the biggest concern of fans of whatever franchise they happen to love. I’m happy to say Stephen nailed it on this one.
The story ended too soon, in my opinion. It felt like it was the beginning of a movie and didn’t carry a sense of closure that the story was over. All franchises have “origin films” (see Fantastic Four or Spider-man or Batman Begins) and they’re meant to be open-ended, but this one was a bit too open-ended. Though it was intended to pave the way for any future films, I wish there was something a little more finite to the tale. I still wouldn’t let this point hold you back from checking it out. If anything, I was really disappointed it ended so quickly.
The acting, on the whole, was not bad. I understand independent films cannot hire the likes of Tom Hanks or Helen Hunt, but there were a few points where I wondered if the actor was monotonously reading his/her lines versus really saying them with conviction.
All in all, I’d give this film 4 stars out of 5. I’m looking forward to the DVD and all the extra features (and believe me, there’s a ton of them) come September. I’ll be the first in line to get one. You should be there, too.
The war between Good and Evil has raged since before Time began. Now it’s ultimate power versus ultimate savagery.
With ferocious fangs, flesh-ripping claws and a feral hunger to destroy anything in their path, werewolves are one of the most feared monsters on the planet.
Stepping in to stop their quest for blood are the metahumans, men and women with powerful abilities that set them apart from the rest of humanity. Some wear costumes as symbols of hope, others operate discreetly, using their special abilities for good. Put these two groups of people together and you have a clash between light and darkness that is sure to rock the foundation of the world and bring about an epic battle unlike anything seen before.
Featuring familiar heroes like Axiom-man, Midnight Angel, Nightcat, The Wraith, The Cowl and others, these eleven stories of super-powered heroism and terror are a thrilling ride through the worlds of wolf and superhero, and to a place where only one can remain standing.
Contains stories by Frank Dirscherl, Lorne Dixon, A.P. Fuchs, Anthony Giangregorio, Keith Gouveia, Jon Klement, J.L. MacDonald, Gina Ranalli, Jim Robb, Stephen Semones and Scott Story.
Other anthologies in the “Metahumans vs” series: Metahumans vs the Undead.