Spider-Man (1977 TV Pilot)

Spider-Man, 1970’s style.

 

 

 

Today, since I didn’t get to do a new movie review, I decided to do a special old movie review and this one is a very rare find. It’s not available on DVD. However, I recently discovered it on YouTube and I figure why not review it. Here then is a review of “Spider-Man…” the 1970’s TV pilot.

Yeah, it’s almost as cheesy as the 60’s Batman TV series and the visual effects are primitive even by 70’s standards, but it sure is nostalgic. I remember seeing  this as a kid on Videodisc (if you’re as old as I am, you’ll remember videodiscs) and I thought it was really good back then.

There were obviously some liberties taken with the show. For one thing, Peter Parker (played here by Nicholas Hammond who at the time was known only as one of the Von Trapp kids in The Sound of Music) gets his super powers while in college. In the comics, he gets them while still in high school. He starts out as a photographer for the Daily Bugle before he gets bitten by the radioactive spider whereas in the comics, he works for the Bugle after becoming Spider-Man. There’s no mentioning of his Uncle Ben, whose murder gave Spidey his motivation and his “with great power comes great responsibility” philosophy. So he really has no motivation to become Spider-Man except that he was bitten by a radioactive spider and that he becomes a superhero just for the fun of it. Plus, Spidey’s too quiet. It’s like he’s more ninja than superhero in this one.

I know I’m nitpicking, but I am a die-hard Spider-Man fan. Deal with it.

But there are some things that stand out: For one, the funky “porn music” score (which almost every 70’s show seemed to have and this was no exception) and the wall-crawling effects, which seem unbelievable and impossible (even for a stuntman in the 70’s) to do. But to be fair, Spidey was a next-to-impossible superhero character to pull off back in the 70’s as opposed to now where we have CGI technology to bring him to life. And this show gets an A for effort.

The 2-hour pilot is basically an origin story. Peter gets his powers, becomes Spider-Man and fights crime. His first adversary in this one  is a self-help guru (played by Thayer David aka the boxing promoter from the first Rocky movie) who uses mind control to hypnotize select people to rob banks for him. His evil plan that Spidey has to foil is that he’s blackmailing the city in which unless the city pays him millions of dollars, he is going to hypnotize ten people to commit mass suicide.

Sure enough, the pilot episode launched the series, which lasted for two very short seasons, producing a total of 13 episodes before CBS pulled the plug, not because of ratings but because of “network politics.” CBS didn’t want to be known as the “Superhero Network.” At that time, CBS also had “Wonder Woman” and “The Incredible Hulk” on the air at that time.

But I can’t really pick on the show too much. After all, it was the 70’s. But those were the days. So if you’re nostalgic and want to see an early attempt to bring your friendly neighborhood Spider-Man to TV or film, you might want to check it out.

Since it still is not available on DVD, if you want to watch it and don’t want to search for it, here it is:

Advertisements

The Avengers

And now I am going to do a review (even though it is actually almost three months late and it’s pretty much out of theaters now) of what is not only the highest grossing movie of 2012 (although a certain Dark Knight could change that) but it’s also the third highest grossing movie of all time and the only one in the top 3 that is not directed by James Cameron. So without further ado, here is my long-awaited review of The Avengers!

So what do I think of the movie? It can only be summed up in a few words: Now THIS is a superhero team movie! I mean, the first two X-Men movies were good. I didn’t see the third one but I heard it sucked. And don’t get me started on the not-so-Fantastic Four movies. I really like the way that they used five movies (Iron Man 1 and 2, The Incredible Hulk, Thor and Captain America: The First Avenger) to set up this movie. Aside from the fact that I did not see the 2008 Hulk movie (the one that is part of the Avengers franchise despite being owned by Universal), I thought that the Avenger-related movies have been handled pretty well. And we’re up to this movie. And as soon as I heard Joss Whedon who created Buffy the Vampire Slayer was gonna direct this movie, I knew this was gonna be in good hands. And it shows.

The main plot involves all the aforementioned superheroes Captain America (Chris Evans), Iron Man (Robert Downey, Jr.), Thor (Chris Hemsworth), the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo, replacing Edward Norton from the 2008 film), Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson, reprising her role from Iron Man 2), and Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) are brought together by SHIELD director Nick Fury (Samuel L. Jackson) to save the world from the evil Loki (Tom Hiddleston) and a race of aliens who steal a cosmic cube so they can, you guessed it, take over the world.

And of course, like in every superhero team movie, there’s some good conflicts in the film and not just against the evil aliens but also among the heroes as well, the main ones between the squabble matches between Tony Stark (the self-absorbed cocky anti-team player) and Steve Rogers (the humble yet patriotic boy scout); Thor and Loki (adopted brothers but on different sides of the coin); and probably the best in-team fighting in the movie: Thor and Hulk (demigod vs indestructible 10-foot green monster who becomes so whenever he gets a little teed off.)

Now before we continue with the review, I just want to say that I personally haven’t read any of the Avenger-themed comics growing up, except for Iron Man. Iron Man was cool, especially in the early 90’s with the kick-ass Terminator-style artwork and I was a huge fan of War Machine. I was mainly into Spider-Man and Batman (I have already seen the Spidey reboot and I’m planning to go see The Dark Knight Rises sometime this month.) But as far as the other Avengers go, I never really got into Captain America or the others.

There are loads of action sequences littered throughout the film that will practically leave you at the edge of your seat and the climactic battle in New York City pretty much rivals the climatic battle for Metropolis in Superman II. It will blow you away. And while the film was released in 3D, you don’t really need to see it in 3D to know what scenes were converted in 3D.

Now on to the performances. Robert Downey, Jr. is still in top form as Iron Man and Tony Stark. In fact, Robert Downey, Jr. post-drugs is awesome. Chris Evans is still good as Cap, but he’s more like a general in this one than he was in. But to be fair, he’s better as Cap than he was as the Human Torch in the not-so-Fantastic Four movies. Mark Ruffalo pulls off both Bruce Banner and the Hulk (who is easily the best character in the movie) really well, considering that the only real successful attempt to bring the Hulk to life was the TV series in the late 70’s. The 2003 Ang Lee/Eric Bana film sucked and like I said earlier, I haven’t seen the Ed Norton film to give it a good-enough judgment but this is by far the most successful attempt to bring the Hulk to the big screen. Ed Norton must be kicking himself now for not wanting to be a part of this movie.

As far as the non-super powered Avengers go, Scarlett Johannson more than holds her own, proving that she is more than just eye candy for the guys (she takes out three guys while handcuffed to a chair in a hot black dress.) That’s the way you do it. And Samuel L. Jackson is awesome as usual as Nick Fury despite being a little more subdued than usual (mainly because this is a PG-13 movie.) But if there’s one nitpick that I have with the movie, it’s that Hawkeye (Jeremy Renner) is a little too underdeveloped. He doesn’t get a whole lot of screen time.

Now on to the main villain. For one thing, I like how multi-layered Loki was. He starts out as a General Zod-like character (again another Superman II reference) during his battle with Captain America, mixed with Hannibal Lecter (when he is captured by the Avengers and he does have one scene with Scarlett Johannson that echoes the Clarice/Lecter conversations in “Silence of the Lambs.”) It’s also amusing when he and Tony Stark are talking smack to each other back and forth. But like all villains, he gets his comeuppance in the end and it’s one of the best scenes in the movie so I will not give that away for those of you who have not seen the movie yet.

So basically as far as some closing thoughts on the movie goes, I just want to make a note that I’ve been going to movies since I was 2 years old and never once in my 30-somewhat years of going to the movies have I seen moviegoers on their feet and cheering for a movie than I have for The Avengers. Trust me, it’s that good. If you haven’t seen it yet and by some miracle, it’s still in theaters, go see it. You definitely will not be disappointed.

Superhero

Since I don’t really have too much to blog about, I figured I’d take the time to talk about one of my hobbies growing up in Red Hook, mainly because I feel that my life both outside of work as well as my online life as Blackcatloner. I feel as though I am living a double life. There’s my life off the Internet which consists of work and not much else. Then there’s my life online. Here, I can be myself without any fears at all.

Anyway, the point of this blog is basically about me talking about the four years I spent collecting comic books. Before then, I bought a comic here and there, but it wasn’t until sometime after I moved to Tivoli in 1992 that I actually took up comic book collecting.

I mainly collected Spider-Man comics because he is my all-time favorite comic book superhero. He has these amazing abilities and yet he was imperfect and the superhero who is most like us. He had job problems, family problems, money problems, and girl problems (even though when I started collecting comics, he was already married to MJ)… you name it and yet he still had to go out and fight the bad guys, kind of like yours truly. No wonder I refer to myself as “your friendly neighborhood Blackcatloner.”

In addition to the Spider-Man comics, I also collected Batman, beginning with the “Knightfall” storyline where Batman got his back broken by a then-new villain called Bane and had to be replaced with another Batman with a cooler-looking costume. Up until then, the only Batman comics I had were the adaptations of the first two movies. I had seen both and actually enjoyed them. I continued collecting all through high school because the stories were all so closely knit together and had a real feel to them. I made it my weekly routine until very early in my senior year of high school, partly because the stroe I bought my comics from had for some reason stopped carrying them.

And so this concludes another trip down memory lane into the secret past of the real-life superhero known as “Blackcatloner.” What will he do next? Find out next time (as Stan Lee would say), “true believers.”