Views & Reviews From Writer Steve Miller
Formerly Reviews and Stuff at Rotten Tomatoes, 2005 - 2009.

Currently Showing at Cinema Steve

Sunday, January 30, 2005

'Golden Age Sandman' is comics history,
but it still disappointed

Golden Age Sandman Archives, Vol. 1 (DC Comics, 2004)
Writer: Gardner Fox, Ogden Whitney,
Artists: Bert Christman, Creig Flessel,
Rating: Six of Ten Stars

From the first time I saw him in an issue of "Justice League of America" (during one of those way cool crossovers between Earth One and Earth Two that were an annual tradition in that title), I had all sorts of ideas for the Golden Age Sandman. There was just something about his look I liked. I wanted to see more of him, and I made up my own stories. I even submitted a couple story proposals to DC Comics in the early 1990s, but they were rejected.

When the Sandman was revived in "Sandman Mystery Theater", I followed the title until the very end. I was disappointed that it didn't have the feel of the old-time movies from the 1930s and 1940s, but it was decent enough. I also didn't quite like the way Wesley Dodds was portrayed, but mostly because he didn't fit with how I'd imagined he should be.

But, the Sandman still remained a visual favorite of mine, so when I saw that DC had released the earliest tales as part of their Archive Edition series, I had to get it.

Unfortunately, the Golden Age Sandman is still better in my imagination than he's ever been in print.

The tales presented in this hardbound book are interesting historical artifacts as far as the development of the comic book medium goes, but they really are not all that good. They have the choppiness of a newspaper strip that was a frequent weakness of early comics, and they feature artwork which is only slightly better than the norm of the day. Worse, the recycling and swiping of panels that artists did to keep their deadlines is embarrassingly evident in several stories.

All that said, the stories are better than a lot of those found in comics from the early 1940s, and the reprinted covers are very cool.

I don't regret buying the book, but it's hard for me to recommend to others unless you're a Big Time Fan of early Golden Age comics. AS much as I remain enamoured by the look of the Golden Age Sandman, this material simply doesn't warrant the upscale format it's presented in... nor the $50 price tag.

Friday, January 28, 2005

Pauly Shore is dead, but funnier than ever

Pauly Shore is Dead (2003)
Starring: Pauly Shore, Todd Bridges, and a host of other known faces
Director: Pauly Shore
Rating: Five of Ten Stars

With his career beyond hope of salvage, comedian Pauly Shore decides to fake his own death since, as his guardian angel--Sam Kinison--tells him, "it's better to be a dead genius than a live idiot." And, sure enough, once he is believed dead, Pauley goes from entertainment industry pariah to highly praised genius who everyone suddenly misses.

"Pauly Shore is Dead" is a comedic and bitter look at the fickleness of the public and the entertainment industry and a commentary on how quickly fortunes turn for those in the spotlight. Written, directed, produced, and starring Shore as himself, it is a venomous toward just about everyone, including Pauly Shore's own fans, who are represented by a family of shack-dwelling retards.

The film's biggest weakness is that it suffers from a voice problem. In many parts of the film, it's clear that we are watching performers doing comedy--even self-mocking comedy. At other times, the film takes on a documentary feel, like "This is Spinal Tap" or "Drop Dead Gorgeous." This lack of focus keeps viewers from getting involved with the simple story of the film, so while it's hard not to feel sympathetic toward someone who only wants to be liked, there isn't enough cohesion for the viewer to get involved with Pauly until the film's almost over. (And, having had a brief taste of fame myself, I can perhaps relate to where Shore is coming from than most people... and even *I* was not feeling particularly interested for most of the film.)

I get a sense that maybe Shore has a future as a filmmaker. I think he'd do well trying his hand at a true faux documentary (like "Best of Show" or "A Mighty Wind" or the two aforementioned films). "Pauly Shore is Dead" was at its best when it had that sort of feel to it, and it was at its weakest when it strayed into obviously staged bits (even if one of the funniest moments in the film was of that category... when Pauly meets Rico Suave who has been reduced to selling oranges on a highway overpass).