Category Archives: hayden christiansen

Mandrake the Magician

Mandrake the Magician is perhaps one of the first of the comic strip superheroes. Created by Lee Falk (who also created the Phantom) in 1934 and based on a real life stage magician of the same name, Mandrake was the template for the comic book magicians that proliferated in the comic books of the 1930s and 40s. Mandrake and his faithful companion Lothar adventured for decades in the comic strips, books, stage and screen. The year 1939 brought the Magician to the silver screen in a twelve-part movie serial from Columbia.

Warren Hull was a veteran of the hero business in the movie serials having also played the Green Hornet and the Spider. His Mandrake unfortunately comes off as the most dull of the three. Al Kikume, who played Lothar, is also no stranger to the heroic serials, having parts in the Captain Marvel and Nyoka ones respectively and later appearing on Superman on television. It’s kind of odd though that Lothar who was probably the first non-stereotyped African-American in comics is portrayed here by a Hawaiian. Their chemistry when it happens is a highlight, but a rare one indeed.

The plot of this serial is an old one and has been quite recycled in the genre. Scientist builds a device to benefit mankind and villain steals it to use as a weapon against the world. In this case, the villain is the Wasp, and in another old serial cliché, we have to guess from episode to episode which of our cast is really the Wasp in disguise. It has some good action and suspense, but suffers in comparison to today’s offerings and even to its contemporaries – Adventures of Captain Marvel being the best of the genre.

Much like the Phantom on Syfy, and Flash Gordon recently before that, Hollywood will soon be raping, um, sorry, I mean ‘re-imagining’ Mandrake for an upcoming production starring Hayden Christensen and Djimon Hounsou, possibly for the big screen. Yep, I’m already cringing. Should make this movie serial seem like gold though.

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Jumper ~ You know that old meme question that asks, “If you could have any super power, what would it be?” Most folks say flying. Some guys with a mind toward visiting the girls locker room will say invisibility. Comic book geeks will have a variety of answers, most popular being able to wield a Green Lantern Power Ring. But people of another type – folks always on the run, or want to escape – will say teleportation.

That’s what Jumper is all about. There are folks could can teleport at will, called ‘jumpers’ and folks who hunt them down, called ‘paladins.’ Hilarity ensues, as they say. Hayden Christiansen discovers he’s a jumper and escapes from his horrible home life to be a world traveler and a bank robber until he’s finally caught up in the jumper/paladin war he was unaware of until that time. All he wants to do is court the girl of his dreams.

Hayden Christiansen is the lead who comes off much more likable here than in the Star Wars debacles. As a matter of fact, the entire cast is very effective here except for Rachel Bilson who just feels insincere. I’m not sure if it’s supposed to be the character or just bad acting. I’m leaning toward the latter. Michael Rooker plays to type as Christiansen’s abusive father, Diane Lane is looking very good lately and not just here. Look fast or you’ll miss Tom Hulce and Samuel L. Jackson is back in bad ass mode as the flick’s main bad guy. The prize of the cast is little Billy Elliot all grown up – Jamie Bell as another jumper who tries to show Christiansen the ropes. This guy, already a proven star, is an actor to watch. Bell’s star is definitely on the rise, and higher than before.

Jumper takes advantage of all the special effects at its disposal, and as a story it does just about everything one could imagine could be done with the concept. This is a very full movie. There could be a sequel, and I guess, after the box office it’s done, one will be made, but I hope that won’t happen. Like any number of other sequeled flicks, one would only dilute this movie. Recommended.