Sunday, March 30, 2008


Source: MICHAEL CIEPLY, The New York Times
Published: March 29, 2008

LOS ANGELES — Time Warner is no longer the sole proprietor of Superman.
Joe Shuster, left, and Jerry Siegel, right, sold the rights to Superman in 1938 for $130.

A federal judge here on Wednesday ruled that the heirs of Jerome Siegel — who 70 years ago sold the rights to the action hero he created with Joseph Shuster to Detective Comics for $130 — were entitled to claim a share of the United States copyright to the character. The ruling left intact Time Warner’s international rights to the character, which it has long owned through its DC Comics unit.

And it reserved for trial questions over how much the company may owe the Siegel heirs for use of the character since 1999, when their ownership is deemed to have been restored. Also to be resolved is whether the heirs are entitled to payments directly from Time Warner’s film unit, Warner Brothers, which took in $200 million at the domestic box office with “Superman Returns” in 2006, or only from the DC unit’s Superman profits.

Still, the ruling threatened to complicate Warner’s plans to make more films featuring Superman, including another sequel and a planned movie based on the DC Comics’ “Justice League of America,” in which he joins Batman, Wonder Woman and other superheroes to battle evildoers.

If the ruling survives a Time Warner legal challenge, it may also open the door to a similar reversion of rights to the estate of Mr. Shuster in 2013. That would give heirs of the two creators control over use of their lucrative character until at least 2033 — and perhaps longer, if Congress once again extends copyright terms — according to Marc Toberoff, a lawyer who represents the Siegels and the Shuster estate.

“It would be very powerful,” said Mr. Toberoff, speaking by telephone on Friday. “After 2013, Time Warner couldn’t exploit any new Superman-derived works without a license from the Siegels and Shusters.”

Time Warner lawyers declined to discuss the decision, a spokesman said. A similar ruling in 2006 allowed the Siegels to recapture their rights in the Superboy character, without determining whether Superboy was, in fact, the basis for Warner Brothers’s “Smallville” television series. The decision was later challenged in a case that has yet to be resolved, said Mr. Toberoff, who represented the family in that action.

This week’s decision by Stephen G. Larson, a judge in the Federal District Court for the Central District of California, provided long-sought vindication to the wife and daughter of Mr. Siegel, who had bemoaned until his death in 1996 having parted so cheaply with rights to the lucrative hero.

“We were just stubborn,” Joanne Siegel, Mr. Siegel’s widow, said in a joint interview with her daughter, Laura Siegel Larson. “It was a dream of Jerry’s, and we just took up the task.”

The ruling specifically upheld the Siegels’ copyright in the Superman material published in Detective Comics’ Action Comics Vol. 1. The extent to which later iterations of the character are derived from that original was not determined by the judge.

In an unusually detailed narrative, the judge’s 72-page order described how Mr. Siegel and Mr. Shuster, as teenagers at Glenville High School in Cleveland, became friends and collaborators on their school newspaper in 1932. They worked together on a short story, “The Reign of the Superman,” in which their famous character first appeared not as hero, but villain.

By 1937, the pair were offering publishers comic strips in which the classic Superman elements — cape, logo and Clark Kent alter-ego — were already set. When Detective Comics bought 13 pages of work for its new Action Comics series the next year, the company sent Mr. Siegel a check for $130, and received in return a release from both creators granting the company rights to Superman “to have and hold forever,” the order noted.

In the late 1940s, a referee in a New York court upheld Detective Comics’ copyright, prompting Mr. Siegel and Mr. Shuster to drop their claim in exchange for $94,000. More than 30 years later, DC Comics (the successor to Detective Comics) gave the creators each a $20,000-per-year annuity that was later increased to $30,000. In 1997, however, Mrs. Siegel and her daughter served copyright termination notices under provisions of a 1976 law that permits heirs, under certain circumstances, to recover rights to creations.

Mr. Toberoff, their lawyer, has been something of a gadfly to Warner in the past. In the late 1990s, for example, he represented Gilbert Ralston, a television writer, in a legal battle over his rights in the CBS television series “The Wild Wild West,” which was the basis for a 1999 Warner Brothers film that starred Will Smith. The case, said Mr. Toberoff, was settled.

Compensation to the Siegels would be limited to any work created after their 1999 termination date. Income from the 1978 “Superman” film, or the three sequels that followed in the 1980s, are not at issue. But a “Superman Returns” sequel being planned with the filmmaker Bryan Singer (who has also directed “The Usual Suspects” and “X-Men”) might require payments to the Siegels, should they prevail in a demand that the studio’s income, not just that of the comics unit, be subject to a court-ordered accounting.

Mrs. Siegel and Ms. Larson said it was too soon to make future plans for the Superman character. But they were inclined to relish this moment.

“I have lived in the shadow of this my whole life,” Ms. Larson said. “I am so happy now, I just can’t explain it.”

Thursday, March 27, 2008

Will Ian McKellen return as Gandalf in THE HOBBIT?

One of the big questions among film junkies is IF there will be a movie based on the Lord of the Rings prequel THE HOBBIT? And if it will be directed by Peter Jackson and will many of the stars of the Lord of the Rings movies be back to star on it? Will Ian Mckellen be back as Gandalf?

Well, an interview in Mckellen's official website (click here to go to the site) may answer those questions. Here are the contents of the interview:

Q: So has it come to pass, good Sir McKellen? Shall the dreaming masses with their musty books and their blackened pipes at long last hear those immortal words issue from under that famous nose? "Yes, yes, my dear sir-and I know your name, Mr. Bilbo Baggins. And you do know my name, though you don't remember that I belong to it. I am Gandalf, and Gandalf means me! To think I should have lived to be good-morninged by Belladonna Took's son, as if I was selling buttons at the door!" Looking about, I find I share the same hopes as millions of others, so I ask, a single query in a chorus... Will you again be our Gandalf in "The Hobbit" now that the deal is settled?

A: Yes I will, if Peter Jackson and I have anything to do with it, he being the producer and me being, on the whole, a very lucky actor. I've just read your quote out loud - fabulous speech.

Q: Have you been approached yet by Peter Jackson or anyone else about reprising your wonderful role as Gandalf for the two upcoming "Hobbit" movies. I read that principal photography begins in 2009, and I can't imagine those movies without you!

A: Encouragingly, Peter and Fran Walsh have told me they couldn't imagine The Hobbit without their original Gandalf. Their confidence hasn't yet been confirmed by the director Guillermo del Toro but I am keeping my diary free for 2009!

Expect The Hobbit: Part 1 and Part 2 in theaters 2010 and 2011.

Thursday, March 13, 2008

10,000 BC

(In the Name of Palagpatism)
By Reymundo Salao

The story of 10,000 BC revolves around the young man (I think his name is Delay) from a caveman tribe that hunts wooly mammoths, and the girl who is prophesized to change the lives of their tribe (I think her name is Everlate). And so the tribe was, one night, raided and pillaged by some strange warriors, they kidnapped some men and women of the tribe (If you’ve seen Apocalypto or Conan the Barbarian, you know what I mean). Delay, the elder hero, and a minor character journey to track down the whereabouts of their kidnapped fellow tribe members and plan on how to defeat their captors. The prisoners are taken into what seems like a more CGI-richer version of the Apocalypto set where they were going to be slaves for some god figure who demands that pyramids should be made. After impressing a neighboring tribe of warriors that he could speak to a sabertooth tiger (who seems to clarify to Delay that their debts are settled even), Delay becomes a leader of an uprising that will plan to topple what seems like a well-established civilization already. So after the obligatory speech before a tribe that doesn’t really understand his language, Delay leads them into a combat that will take only one morning. But how will the battle be won, if Delay is more concerned by Everlate, than he is concerned for the lives of the entire tribe and the other tribes that put him in charge as leader?

Ever since the US remake of “Godzilla” up until the borefest “Day After Tomorrow”, Roland Emmerich’s big budgeted films have been getting duller and duller, and dumber. Now Emmerich marks a new milestone in dumb films with his new idiotic masterpiece. 10k BC was like the commercialized version of Apocalypto. But where Apocalypto seemed to have consistency with historical and anthropological basis, 10k BC was just based on some ignorant perception of what has occurred in 10,000 BC or what could have been possible to have happened around that time. The title presents itself in a documentary kind of way. If they titled it something like Tribal King, it would have been more forgiving for it to be presented as fiction. But the title itself 10,000 BC has an encyclopedia Britannica impression, this tends to make the dumb dumber.
10K BC is sheer fantastic idiocy. Who would’ve thought that there were telescopes during this caveman era? Who would’ve thought there were large sailships already? The movie tends to make its own shallow interpretation of history.

Some of you might complain, "Why should it be consistent with history and reality? It’s just a movie..!" well true, but the title is misleading people into thinking that this movie is based on something which happened or which could possibly have happened around that timeline. The next thing you know, some misinformed (or possibly just stupid) teacher would tell his/her students to watch this movie as an educational material (just like our high school teacher who had "Robin Hood: Prince of Thieves" shown as an educational film showing, when in actuality, this is just a commercialized, Hollywood version which was severely altered so that it would satisfy some dumb producer, a version that is very very different from what is scholastically the proper storyline of this piece of literature. Suspiciously, that teacher of ours perhaps just wanted to watch that movie in the big screen of our AV room. There was nothing ""educational" about that movie).

Both the dialogue and the acting are devoid of any form of charisma. When the hero-leader makes his obligatory pre-battle speech, you feel as if you're one of the warriors rolling his eyeballs in boredom and doubt, uninspired and intending to survive the battle without lifting a spear. This is a movie where people in the prehistoric era look like supermodels. Camila Belle, who plays the female lead is a walking eye candy herself, looking deliciously pretty even though mud is smeared all over her face. Everybody seems to have evolved from cro-magnon phase overnight and instantly became beautiful and handsome crossbreeds.

If you want to watch this movie for a good laugh at how idiotically outrageous it is, then do so, and you will see a sabertooth tiger who repays gratitude, a caveman who wields a spear which is also a sword (just like something Batman could’ve made, definitely not the kind a caveman could make), the lamest human sacrifice made for a god, and an inexplicably miraculously ridiculous ending. Honestly, I believe it would have made more sense if the villains were revealed to have been space aliens. I mean if they were to have already made something far-out and stupid, at least they should have done it all the way.

People rushed to this movie hoping it was going to be like Snyder and Miller’s “300” Suspiciously, even the numerical title seem to have been chosen so that it can cash in on the fame of 300. Well no, this was never like 300; this was more like just an expensive piece of Palagpatism. I could not have chosen a word more precise to the point than that.

Wednesday, March 12, 2008

No Country for Old Men

By Reymundo Salao

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN follows the story of three men, Llewelyn Moss, who stumbles upon a number of dead bodies, an aftermath of a drug deal gone wrong, finds and takes with him a big bag of money left by the dead dealers, never realizing that this will lead him to be hunted by a criminal syndicate. Then there is Anton Chigurh, a humorless, cold-blooded assassin (not to mention, psychopathic killer) who is seeking to retrieve the money and kill the one who has it. The third character, The Sheriff, Ed Tom Bell, is the one who is investigating the series of deaths that has been occurring in his town.

Starting off with the great points of this movie is the fact that this starts out as not your typical Oscar movie borefest. This is straight-up action thriller that starts with the bad guy killing off two victims and quickly establishes himself as one of the most wicked and most frightening villains in the silver screen. The film then goes into a noir-ish, suspenseful trip of cat-and-mouse chases between the hunter and the hunted. But just when you were about to announce to yourself that this is the best crime thriller you've ever seen, it starts to get excruciatingly dull.

I wish I could join all the other so-called high brow critics in giving much praise to the Academy Award Best Picture NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN, but I simply could not praise a film that, in the end, was very disappointing. To my opinion this film was a bit too overrated.

NCFOM (No Country For Old Men) is an adaptation of the novel by Cormac McCarthy of the same title. If you ask me, NCFOM has a story that is best kept in book/novel format. I felt that the final act of this movie was not executed well, cinematically. (Yes, this is the spoiler part) You see, NCFOM has an ending where all the events seem to stop and just hang there from where it stops. You get an ending that will make you say - THAT was IT? and will definitely give you the unpleasant surprise of seeing the credits just when you have decided to glue yourself to your seats, planning to invest a good 20 more minutes for an anticipated glorious ending. But what you get is far from what may be considered as glorious.

Those who loved the movie may argue - But that IS definitely the point of the ending... that WAS THE purpose of the ending, to hang it where it stops- with the bad guy still on the loose, and the remaining hero, just sitting on his breakfast table. The purpose of the story seems like an exercise in futility. Sure, ok, let me agree with THAT purpose... But what still has bugged me is that the Academy Award winning directors of this movie, the Coen Brothers, did not seem to give the effort of making a kind of ending that is appropriate for a story that just stops without a sense of closure. The film just simply stops without warning, like it was the filmmaker's weird sense of humor.

Sure, some may say it’s a daring style of filmmaking. It's not typical Hollywood. That is how they see it. Fine. But what I see is effortless, lazy, and sloppy. I am all of a sudden suspicious of the Academy Awards desperate to give an award to this film just because it is unusual, and would probably upset the typical audience. It feels like it was too intentionally unconventional to the point that it felt so pretentious.

There really is nothing wrong with breaking the rules of conventional cinema. Hey, I am all for breaking the rules. But just executing what I think is a lazy technique, in my opinion, is not deserving of what is considered a Best Picture. To sum it all up, NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN was supposed to be a great movie. But it terribly screws up the ending. I praise the movie for its actors, its unforgettable bad guy, its creative action and suspense, but with all good things considered, it quickly became a bad movie because of its final 20 minutes, and those final 20 minutes should have been enough to prove that this movie is really Not The Best Picture.

Friday, March 07, 2008

Latest & Final Poster of IRON MAN [Junkie News]

The latest and officially the final poster of IRON MAN has recently been revealed. What I love it is that it has a sort of classic feel, it deviates from the typical superhero movie poster wherein you see only the superhero himself/herself/themselves. This poster seems to tell us that this movie is just more than just the title character. IRON MAN will be officially released on May 2, 2008. Hopefully, it will have an earlier release date here in the Philippines. Most probably, it would be in April 30, 2008

Thursday, March 06, 2008

Why I Was Gone...

Greetings! I am very sorry about this site’s being quite inactive lately. I know that it seems like it has been relaunched some months ago, yet here we are again in this state of inactivity. Truth is, that I have just lately been very disappointed, upset, and fed up by the fact that I have not lately received any compensation from the local newspaper I am writing for, for the articles I have previously submitted. I have been very patient about the compensations due, and I have even stopped trying to be accurate in how much I should still collect, and just gladly receive what so little it seems to give me. I am very very loyal to my newspaper, and for many instances have I been tempted to transfer my column to other newspapers, but I did not let my loyalty linger. Yet, I feel as if I’m an unfed servant whose master doesn’t really care if I run away.

This is actually the grim reality of local journalism. Only a select few are given satisfaction. If you’re just some typical writer (especially if you have no political affiliation), do not expect to be rich out of being a journalist.

I am not saying goodbye to my newspaper. No. I will stay true to it, even though if in times like this, it ignores me. I just have to be thankful that I have a dayjob, and this is just a sideline. But nowadays, everybody needs a sideline. Regular salary is not as sufficient to live a life out of anymore. One of these days, my film column will get back to the pages of my newspaper. What keeps me doing this is the belief that I am a writer… because it is for my readers, no matter how few they may be.

- Reymundo Salao
Just Another Film Junkie