Feeling Buggy (Mania.com)

By:Matt Kamen
Date: Friday, May 11, 2007

…comes Star Wars: The Exhibition, which opened this week and runs to September 1st at County Hall, Westminster in London. Part of a Europe-wide 30th Anniversary celebration of all things Star Wars, the exhibition provides a chance to ogle a wide array of the costumes, props, vehicles, art, models and more from the Star Wars saga. It all leads into Celebration Europe at the London ExCeL in July, which promises live entertainment, star guests from the movies and more. May the force… oh, never mind.
 
Collectormania or Bust?
 
I myself was unable to attend the Collectormania event in Milton Keynes this past weekend but my correspondent Dan Hart was less than enthused.
 
I've attended the Milton Keynes Collectormania for about 3 years now, along with Showmasters London Film and Comic Con.

My main overwhelming impression from this show was "My god, EVERYONE's selling the same Dr Who stuff!" Ok, maybe not every stand was but the vast majority of them were, so I was a little annoyed by the lack of variety. There were a lot of general merchandise stands, but unfortunately, they seemed to be very samey and full of the kind of items you could get cheaper online. I realise Showmasters has no control over what traders sell, but c'mon people, try and sell different things, you're not all going to shift stock if you're carrying the same items!

The guests were spread out over the weekend and were not of an especially high level of notoriety. Charisma Carpenter is STILL hotter than the sun, but the rest were pretty forgettable apart from Rene Auberjonois (Odo from DS9). Had I been there for the Sunday I would have happily attended the 'Allo 'Allo cast reunion, mostly out of a nostalgia factor and the recent "Return of 'Allo 'Allo" special on the Beeb.
 
The show this past weekend was hugely disappointing to me and I'm unlikely to attend the Milton Keynes one in future, especially since it costs just shy of £30.00 to get there from London in the first place. Anyone having to travel to get there is likely to feel burned by the experience.”
 
So, that’ll be a bust then.
 
Free Stuff! Whoohoo!
 
Free Comic Book Day was held internationally this past weekend, though whether it was a case of cross-media serendipity or ingenious planning that lead to it being the same weekend that Spider-Man 3 broke box office records is for greater minds to ponder. Or, alternatively, I can't be bothered to ponder.
 
Here in the UK, FCBD is a hit and miss affair. While the stock itself may be free, the shipping costs aren't and so many UK comic stores can't afford to take part. This leads to the few that do get involved not being able to meet the demands of their regulars, let alone have enough to entice new or lapsed readers.
 
In a pleasant turn of events though, this year's FCBD saw greater UK retailer interest than it has before, with stores in London and Birmingham, and presumably other large cities as well, advertising the event beforehand and holding special activities on the day. The undoubted star of the day though? Marvel's offering, Spider-Man: Swing Shift. No doubt buoyed by the excitement from Spider-Man 3, it was snapped up pretty much instantly everywhere. Whether that's sign of renewed interest in comics brought about by the movie or a wave of cynical opportunists looking to cash in on eBay remains to be seen…
 
Does Whatever a Spider Can?
 
Speaking of comics and blockbuster movies… Sam Raimi's latest addition to the Spider-Film franchise was unfortunately the weakest of the trilogy. That's not to say it's a bad movie, it's just that it pales next to its predecessors and doesn't stand up to much logical evaluation. The main weakness came, in my opinion, from shoehorning Venom into the film. Kudos to Raimi for working in the alien symbiote without wasting time on working in a space mission or some such but kudos lost for presenting said symbiote in an annoyingly inconsistent manner. Little indication was given that it was affecting Peter Parker's judgements; less indication was given that it was truly alive in any sense. I found myself questioning the point of Peter having to fight it off in the belltower when we'd seen him taking it on and off in his apartment the whole time. Further minor grievances were the constant unmasking of, well, everybody, Peter's apparent loss of a Spider-sense and worst of all, Venom speaking in the singular! Admittedly, these are minor quibbles with the movie individually but when taken as a whole, they became rather distracting.
 
None of which seems to have impacted its box office take. With $104 worldwide gross from the first day of release, it's safe to say the movie's been a financial success regardless of the critical reception. However, I feel in the long run Spider-Man 3 will be marked more for what it could and perhaps should have been than for what it is.
 
A Nation in Mourning
 
Why, you ask? Because the next episode of Doctor Who has been postponed a week to make way for the bloody Eurovision Song Contest! I really have to question the logic of the BBC sidelining their premiere show halfway through its run in favour of a 'music' contest that is universally loathed and makes preschooler's sing along songs seem mature in comparison. It's not like the UK's going to win anyway, not with crap like this being entered. View, and weep.
 
New UK DVD Picks for 14/05/2007
 
Elemental Gelade Volume 1 + Manga Volume 1
 
A nice cross promotional pack here which includes the first volumes of both the DVD and manga versions of this light hearted adventure series. Elemental Gelade follows Coud, a young sky pirate, and Ren, a living weapon, as they escape people who would abuse Ren's powers and search for a land where Ren can finally be free. While it’s not an award winning anime series, you're unlikely to regret killing a few hours with it. The manga telling of the story is the stronger of the two and the inclusion of the first book was a welcome addition.
 
House of Rock
 
What happens when you hold Celebrity Dead Brother with the likes of John Lennon, John Denver, Freddie Mercury, Marc Bolan, Notorious BIG and Kurt Cobain? You get House of Rock, the cult animated series from Channel 4. Surreal and hilarious, the series poked fun at the volatile personalities and wider pop culture as a whole. DVD extras are a meagre two additional features but the low retail prices just about makes up for it.
 
Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde
 
An incredibly niche choice here, as we see the release of the 1920 silent film adaptation of Robert Louis Stevenson's 1886 novella. Regarded by many aficionados of the silent movie genre as one of the greats, this budget release is an ideal opportunity for film fans to experience some of the roots of modern cinema.
 
That’s it for this week. Thoughts? Comments? Hatemail? Contact me at mattkamen@gmail.com