Sunday, December 26, 2010

The Nutcracker - In 3D

I'm not typically someone who fancies 3D - my wife and I deliberately try to find theaters that offer showing of any movie in 2D.  However, this new version of the Nutcracker could be quite interesting to see in such a way.  Still not sure if it's something I'll particularly enjoy, but it's always fun to see films that dive into the unrealistic and fantastic.  The trailer definitely makes the movie out to be pretty darned awesome though...

Friday, December 24, 2010

Super-Hero University

What would the superheroes we know and love have been like in college?  Chase Mitchell from College Humor provides a clue with these images....





Thursday, December 23, 2010

Harry Potter Bares All In Equus

Daniel Radcliffe takes a broad leap in his acting career with the famous Broadway production, Equus.  But instead of focusing on the quality of the play in and of itself, people seem to be more concerned as to whether or not Radcliffe is jeopardizing his career with such a revealing role.  Sure, an actor or actress can be a huge factor in whether or not the play/movie sells, but instead of focus on an actor's choice of roll, why can't we look at how good the production is?  It's a very frustrating for me to think Equus could be overshadowed by Radcliffe and his career as a boy actor.  Oh well, only time will tell how things turn out.

Zombie Survival Thursday #1 - Staying safe during the holidays

The zombie epidemic has progressively gotten worse through the years.  Now, with the success of the Walking Dead, it's become clear to me that zombies are truly becoming one of the greatest threats to humankind.  As a proactive attempt at serving humanity, I have decided to start a weekly posting with survival techniques when dealing with zombies.  This is serious, and I hope you take it seriously too.

With the Christmas holiday right around the corner, the last thing you would expect is an attack from a zombie horde.  Well, in the spirit of old Saint Nick, here is a classic instructional video on how to survive an attack from zombies during the wintry snow.  Enjoy...

Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Wonder Woman Wednesday #5

So I still think the new Wonder Woman costume isn't that bad, but I am in that very large crowd of people who would like to see her return to that classic costume, strung out with stars and bright colors.

I don't know, it's been apart of her for so long that it's hard to see her in anything else.  In fact, the trinity of DC has very defining costumes which have stood the test of time for over 60 years.  So many of the other younger heroes who have made a name for themselves have gone through constant costume changes and stuck with them.  But the one costume change that Supes, Bats, and Wondy have gone through haven't stuck do to the unpopular opinions from fans.  Will This new costume of Diana's stick, or will it dissipate like fans are hoping it will?  If this photo is, in fact, a glimpse into the future of Wonder Woman, I think fans can sit back, relax, and soak in the fact that their worries and fears are unmerited.

But we shouldn't give up our hopes, it is very possible that DC plans to take this new costume and ride it out as long as they can.  Lighting conductor Superman was around for some time before going back to the classic red, yellow and blue tights.  It's quite possible that Diana could be strutting her new duds for a while before DC caves into fan demands and gives back her old wardrobe.

But, then again, maybe Megan Fox would be more willing to play Wonder Woman with the new suit rather than with the old one.  If that's the case, then I pray to God DC makes the right decision.  Hint; Fox should never play Wonder Woman (or anything character for that matter) and take up a career in "not" acting.

I'm sorry, I trailed off a bit.  That usually happens with me when it comes to Megan Fox or James Cameron (yeah, you knew I was going to throw in a Cameron knock down.  My blog, my rules.)  Let me get back on topic.

Wonder Woman, despite what her costume may look like, will always remain one of DC's underestimated heroes.  Never doubt the writer behind her purely based on the costume.  As long as a competent writer is taking care of her run, Wonder Woman will always be a great book.  Now, if only Gail Simone would return to the title.  JMS us doing great, but...no offense...I want Simone back.

Monday, December 20, 2010

Christmas Time IS Here

Which mean's the consistency in my posts might be a little off for the next few weeks.  Wednesday I'll be flying out to Pittsburgh with Clarissa to see the family, but the next two days I have some wrap-up work to do with my job which might take some extra time...possible overtime, woo hoo!!!

But fear not, I shan't be out of touch for good.  My family plans on going to see Tron: Legacy and Narnia, as well as some other films, which means I'll be shooting out some film reviews like I did last year around this time.  But don't fret over my absence.  Enjoy the holidays, bring along Batman or Wonder Woman as your guests and get a smidge fatter.  Happy Holidays!

Sunday, December 19, 2010

Top Ten For 2010


Last year I made a call for votes for the best individual comics book of 2009.  Now, 2010 is coming to an end and my call for votes is once again going into motion.  However, some new categories have been added to the list...
Top Ten Comic Books of 2010
Top Five Writers Of 2010
Top Five Artists Of 2010
Top Five Best Covers Of 2010
Top Five On Going Series Of 2010
Best Comic Book Moment Of 2010
Best Mini-Series Of 2010
Best Story Arc Of 2010

There are no rules in voting.  As long as it pertains to 2010, you're good to go.  I've been compiling a list of what I would vote for, but I need some help in assuring I'm not missing anything. 

Leave your vote in a comment, or message me on Facebook.  Votes are due by the 3rd week in January.  Any questions?  Don't hesitate to ask. 

Excelsior!

Saturday, December 18, 2010

Comic Book Review: Kill Shakespeare #8

Literary & Artistic Credits
Writer: Conor McCreary & Anthony Del Col
Penciller:  Andy Belanger
Colorist: Ian Herring
Letterer: Neil Uyetake
Cover Art: Kagan McLeod
Editor: Tom Waltz

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Reading Shakespeare was never something I fancied back in high school; I’m sure my peers shared this sentiment.  There’s all these “big” words, connected with more “big” words, that form “big” sentences which are too “big” for my puny mind to comprehend right?  I always had difficulty in school understanding what was being said – I wasn’t alone in this either. But for me, the frustration with reading Shakespeare was not due to the level of difficulty found in the literature, but with the fact that there was no visual to go along with the reading.

Is Shakespeare’s material poetic, beautiful, moving, and well written?  Of course!  But they are plays, meant to be executed as a play for the eyes to behold.  Why make people read it when watching it serves the purpose Shakespeare always intended for his work?  Eight issues into this title and I’m still geeking out over how well a Shakespearean style story works within the comic book genre. 

Issue #8 brings us into the company of Hamlet, Juliet and company in a much more wholesome light.  No longer are they arguing amongst themselves.  They have found the good within each other that seems to be hidden under the shroud of their most inner moral conflicts.  Hamlet and Juliet have taken to each other quite nicely, finally admitting to what we all already knew.  Othello attempts to asses his own life choices and face his demons, while Falstaff continues to be the comic relief who serves as the peacemaker among friends.  While the team decides to split up in their search for Lord Shakespeare, Romeo, Othello and Iago all run into a very interesting road block…one which may put a damper on some RECENTLY revealed plot threads.

I must say, the mistrust that was flowing throughout this was beginning to become a little overbearing.  While there is a lighthearted undertone to this series, the force driving the whole story is the dark and menacing plot where everyone betrays everyone else, or nobody trusts those within their own band of adventurers.  It’s nice to see McCreery and Del Col bring trust and a sense of hope into the story’s main characters.  If only everyone COULD be trusted, then Iago could have actually been am amazing asset to the team.  But, having a spy for the bad guys really does help spice everything up.

There was a moment where I tipped my head in disappointment (only for a moment mind you) and wondered if having Juliet climb up the ladder to Hamlet above in the balcony was border lining on the corny side.  But, such is the life in the world of Shakespeare.  Corn and cheese..can’t have a Shakespearean tale without one.

And of course, the art by Mr. Andy Belanger is nothing short of excellent.  His work, and I do believe I’ve said this before, reminds me so much of Amanda Conner’s work in Power Girl; very cartoonish, but still very mature and artistic.  I was disappointed at how much of a decrease there was in actions sequences in comparison to last month’s issue, but it doesn't mean that I can’t enjoy scenes such as the one with Lady Macbeth in the graveyard.  (click to enlarge) There is that bewitching feeling that the colors seem to radiate behind the shadows and light from the lantern.  Ian Herring knows no bounds when it comes to bringing out the shine within each and every panel.

I have to be honest, I DID NOT see that ending coming!  I wont give it away as this issue hasn’t even been released to the comic book stores yet, (December 22nd, pick it up!!) but do not fret, it will blow you away!  Conor and Del Col did one hell of a job at giving importance to this character’s roll in the story, but was equally good at giving it a level of unimportance too, making me think it was merely a means to explain the protagonist’s point of view.  Next issue should be a doozy!

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
I can’t stress enough how bad of an idea it is NOT to read this series.  It’s enticing and exciting, shining better than any other series in the world of comics.  The only series I would say meets Kill Shakespeare’s level of quality, it would be the Secret Six,

Rating: 10 out of 10
Writing: 10
Art: 10
Themes: 10

Friday, December 17, 2010

Movie Trailer: Tron Jeremy

Yeah, he's definitely taken it to the next step.  What do you guys think of this?  Isn't Ron Jeremy like, what...40? Maybe older?  How does someone that old stay on top of the porn industry as a star?  Oh well, enjoy, have a few laughs, and...please....DON"T watch the actual movie.  Th trailer is enough...

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Bloggers Of Note: Girls Gone Geek

Did you guys know that there are a shit ton of comic book bloggers out there?  I'm sure the majority of my readers already knew this.  While most of the comic book blogs out on the world wide web are fairly to somewhat interesting, there is only a handful of them that actually put a lot of time and care into what the is written.  This go 'round, I would like to honor a site that might just be one of the best written fan blogs out there, Girls Gone Geek!

What's interesting is, the two authors, Vanessa G. and E. Peterman, typically post a lot of interesting facts and nostalgic paraphernalia and write down their thoughts, a lot of the time pondering on the "What If" factor.  One of the most refreshing aspects about GGG is how much respect and love they show towards the genre, always treating it as a legitimate form of artistic literature and acting as if the rest of the non-comic lovers around the world don't even exist.  They have, it seems, a very healthy mindset when it comes to comics in general.

Another amazing aspect of E and Vannessa's blog is the incredible amount of diversity within their posts.  I mean, of course, the diversity of topics and interests that flow through their writing.  This is not a blog like any other and WILL keep your interests flowing as nothing is ever the same...at least not enough for the blog to develop predictable trends, like mine does.

I have not met these two women but hopefully one day at a comic convention (assuming I get to go to one sooner rather than later) I can shake their hands and enjoy chatting about all things geekified and nerdily.  Please, if you haven't done so already, stop by Girls Gone Geek and show them some love!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010

NPR Interviews Neil Gaiman on the Golden Age of Comics

Yes, NPR again proves that they programs are some of the best on radio today by conducting an interview with Neil Gaiman.  Listen below....


It's nice to see National Public Radio acknowledging the fact that comic books aren't just some feeble and childish form of literature, but rather an artistic and exceptionally literary form of storytelling that is equally for adults as it is for children.

But even more interestingly is this notion, made by Neil Gaiman in the interview, that comic books, if you think of it in terms of the continuity that both DC and Marvel have tried to and successfully established, are the longest fictional narrative ever created by humanity.

And it's true.  DC Comics has been around for 75 years and the stories have all connected together in one huge continuity based story for that long.  Yes, comics split up into arcs and series, written by different authors, but they still all connect into one giant story.  Even the different comic book titles connect with their fellow titles.  You could almost make the argument that both DC and Marvel comics connect together as well with all the crossover stories that have occurred in the past, and recently.  Even the more recent comic book companies like Dark Horse Comics (founded in 1982) and Image comics (founded in 1992) have comic books that are still going strong, and continuity is still just as important as it used to be.

The interview addresses how much comic books have been rejected by schools, media, etc.  And Neil Gaiman, one of the best sci-fi authors of this and last century, makes the claim that comic books are just as legitimate as any other form of literature.  In addition, Gaiman makes the claim that comic books help to enforce literacy.  I remember growing up and granny always scolding me for my love of comics, and my mother always supporting my reading habits; making the argument that comics help to improve my vocabulary.  And what better way TO improve your vocabulary right?  Comics can use bigger and complicated words for young readers where they can develop their deductive reasoning skills and use the pictures to figure out what the "bigger" words mean.

But even more so, it's a literary and artistic medium that is unique despite its long life within American culture.  To constantly deny this medium as an influential and wonderful literary art form is an exceptional ignorant and  uninformed opinion to have.  You don't have to like them, but America really does need to open up and accept the fact that comics aren't just "funny books" for children.  In fact, you could say comics are the one true American bit of folklore that will withstand the test of time..

R.I.P. MD - Lincoln Butterfield Christmas Give Away

Artwork and comic strip available at our Flickr http://bit.ly/ewQDWN

Christmas Caption Competition
                                               
Win a copy of the critically acclaimed Graphic Novel RIP M.D. this Christmas

Yes it’s that time of the year again and we’ve got a competition that’s going to get you into the Christmas spirit. Lincoln Butterfield Animation is hosting a Graphic Novel giveaway starting December 13th and entering couldn’t be easier. 

Simply visit www.Facebook.com/LincolnButterfield and take a look at the incomplete Christmas Comic Strip drawn by Emmy Award Winner Mitch Schauer displayed on the page.  All you then have to do is come up with a hilarious punch line to complete the strip and you’ve entered the competition!  It’s really that simple. 

Pop your award-winning punch line as a comment under the photo and the boys at Lincoln Butterfield will chose their winner.  The competition entry ends on December 19th

GOOD LUCK!

About RIP M.D.
RIP M.D. was written and illustrated by Mitch Schauer, an Emmy® Award-winning producer, writer and designer. Comic book veteran Mike Vosburg has brought his innovative, illustrative style to the artwork’s inking, and Michael Lessa and Justin Yamaguchi have created a whole new look for RIP M.D. with their cinematic color and special effects expertise.

What the press are saying  about RIP M.D.

“…simply awesome.” – Animation Magazine

“RIP MD is near perfect…– Ain’t It Cool News

“Hopefully, there is more to come, but our first appointment with Rip M.D. is pure fun.” – Comic Book Bin

“…graphic novels such as this are a great outlet for ambitious creators with ample imaginations. Check it out.” – Cartoon Brew

"Angry Beavers creator Schauer displays a knowledge and fondness for the old-school culture of monster movies, and the art [in Rip M.D.] has a nice balance between the macabre and the absurd." – Publishers Weekly

Comic Book Review: The Flash #7

Literary & Artistic Credits
Writer: Geoff Johns
Penciller:  Scott Kolins
Inker: Scott Kolins
Colorist: Brian Buccellato
Letterer: Sal Cipriano
Cover Art: Francis Manapul
Editor: Adam Schlagman & Eddie Berganza

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Look guys and gals, I enjoy the occasional deviation from a comic book title’s focus to dive deeper into a characters personality just as much as the next geek, but Captain Boomerang?  Of all the villains out there…

Ok, so maybe it wasn’t THAT bad.  I guess I’m just a tad bit upset by the fact that, after only six issues DC decides to take Flash out for one comic book installment to focus in on one of DC’s lamest villains.  The actual writing of this issue isn’t bad by any means; Geoff Johns is a fantastic writer and can typically turn even the most uncreative and boring characters/stories into a readable storyline.  But the outcome lends nothing to the title itself and is, more than anything, just a recap of stuff we already know.

Digger Harkness grew up in a crumby part of the world where his dad beats him, his brother enjoys the show, and his mother allows Digger to endure such ridicule from his father out of fear I’m sure.  But mysteriously, Digger constantly receives a boomerang in the mail, despite his dad’s consistent breaking of them.  One thing leads to another, and Digger becomes a master of the boomerang, leaves home and…well…you know the rest.

So let me ask this…what purpose did this issue serve other than to fill in the gap of the Flash’s deviation from a monthly schedule?  Is there a reason why Brightest Day is slapped across the top of the cover when the only connection this title has to the after math of the Zombie attack are the self generating boomerangs?  Was this merely an attempt to release the Reverse-Flash and allow him to return with a vengeance, but you needed a fill-in storyline.  I don’t understand how this specific focus on Captain Boomerang actually helps us understand the lead-in with the Reverse-Flash, nor how this aids to the title in general.

Boomerang is still a decent character, but I don’t think it merits making him a focal point in any single issue.  I’m all about the splurge of villain focused book, but keep Boomerang out of the mix.

Scott Kolins was a great replacement for Francis Manapul this month as he emulated this titles regular artist quite well.  Sure, you can tell the difference between the two styles, but by no means should anyone have anything to complain about.  The colors work even better as a representation of what Manapul and company have put in motion with this title, especially when Reverse-Flash finally pops out of his hanging, metal-cocoon prison; flashing about his yellow and red suit with piercing, blood-shot eyeballs. And let’s not forget about that cover!  Manapul, you’ve done it again.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
Here’s the deal, everyone will probably be entertain by this issue.  I know I was thanks to the fabulous work by writer Geoff Johns.  But to be honest, skipping this issue is also a viable option.  We aren’t given much as far as new content and it really doesn’t serve the title that well.

Rating: 6.7 out of 10
Writing: 7
Art: 8
Themes: 5

Monday, December 13, 2010

Comic Book Review: T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents #2

Literary & Artistic Credits
Writer: Nick Spencer
Penciller: CAFU
Inker: Bit
Colorist: Santiago Arcas
Letterer: Swands
Cover Art: Gary Frank & Anderson, after Wally Wood
Editor: Wil Moss

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
I wasn’t able to find much history on the Tower Comic’s “T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents” first published in the 1960s.  So, the difficult part now is to know what original concepts are being used in this new run, and what has been changed.  Based on what I know of the classic comics from the early part of the Golden Age, the psychology of this latest run is, more than likely, new and fresh.

Five characters need to be introduced, and it looks as if introductions will take at least five issues long.  #2 gives us the back story of the new Lighting - Henry, an Olympic quality Kenyan runner whose life revolved around the sport, as it does with the entire African tribe of the Kalenjin.  But not even years of success and respect among he’s people can repel a failed drug test on three counts.  Denying the allegations, Henry must deal with his tribe shunning him, being striped of his Olympic medals and titles, and having troubles talking with his family.  Then enter the redemption squad!  T.H.U.N.D.E.R. offers him a chance to use his God given talent yet again, but for a “greater good.”  The only difference is, within a year, he’s knowingly going to die.

Nostalgic storylines always hit my soft spot, especially when those stories involve tragedy with an intelligent twist.  The first question I asked myself when I heard of this series was, “what exactly is killing the people enlisted to be a T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agent after a one year duration?”  Thankfully, that question was answered here in this issue.  Who knows what the original series was like, but I can make a very safe assumption that this plot device wasn’t part of the first T.H.U.N.D.E.R. Agents. 

It’s an interesting way to make sense of the whole thing, that using the powers provided by the super-powered suits don’t kill them because of the strain it puts on the body, but on the mind.  But even more interesting is how the suit allows Henry to run faster than he ever had before.  You’d think he would love that, given how much he loves running and how much it defined him.  Now the tables have turned, and all running does to Henry is bring back painful memories…or at least painful images.  Whether or not they’re real images has yet to be determined as the memories seemed to toggle around and change.

From an artistic standpoint, we are presented with an interesting take on Henry’s flashback and present day story.  Three artists, with exceptionally weird names, Cafu, Bit, and Crisscross (whose names their kids this?) tag team in and out of the storyline.  Cafu takes charge of the “main sequence” while Crisscross initiates that “Lightning sequence.”  However, whether it’s Cafu or Crisscross working the art, the artistry of this issue is undeniably true.  The way the rays of light hit Henry while running and the dark tone during Henry’s flashback were fantastic displays of color and sketch mastery.  

A minor gripe – what was the cover supposed to represent?  This was a story about Lightning right?  What’s the hooded skull have to do with the story?  It’s a fantastic cover, don’t get me wrong.  Gary Frank is one of the better artists with DC and everything he does is top notch work, but it doesn’t truly connect with the story within #2.  But these are only minor complaints that don’t really detract from the book itself.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
I’m going to tell you right now, this is going to make my list for the top ten comics of 2010.  It’s a exceptional story that rates along with the writing of Gail Simone and Geoff Johns.  Honestly, if you aren’t picking up this series, please do, it will knock your socks off.

Rating: 10 our of 10
+ 1 Incentive Point
Writing: 10
Art: 10
Themes: 10

Sunday, December 12, 2010

A Movie I Love - A Movie I Hate #2

I found myself watching many different trailers for the upcoming film, Tron: Legacy and was inspired to embark on another installment of the movies I love and hate.  This particular installment focuses on the world of fantasy and sci-fi, which also includes animated movies.  One thing I maintain within my movie-going philosophy is that even animated family films can have adult oriented themes.  But I should stop while I'm ahead. read on, comment with disagreements and/or additions you wish to add to what I've already written.


I Love.....The Secret of N.I.M.H.
Since his move from Disney to his own studio, Don Bluth has created some fantastic animated films, the Secret of N.I.M.H. is by far his most notable.  It was this film that made the execs at Disney decide to stop making cheap animated films and start moving towards the quality that Walt Disney had put in place at the founding of his company.

The film presents us with a world of mice and rats which emulate the humans that surround them.  In turn, they develop very twisted, violent and dysfunctional relationships with one another.  This was one of the first animated films that took adult themes seriously, which helped to boost animated films to what they are today.  No longer can the lie of rats and mice being cute, cuddly, furry creatures continue within family oriented films.

But even more important, the truth of human nature is exposed, much like with Art Spielgelman's famous "Maus" graphic novel.  The film is filled with rats spilling death threats, arguing, dropping houses on one another, and multiple counts of betrayal.  N.I.M.H. was and still is one of the best things to ever happen to animation.



I Hate....Cloudy with a chance of Meatballs
And then we are met with a digression in animated feature films.  While the fun, humorous and silly nature of the film is a positive aspect of the story, the thematic implications henceforth are never addressed.  The intended audience (or I should say the supposed intended audience) is family oriented, posing as a fun film that intends to create laughs, forgetting about the long term effects.

But of course I guess it's true that a policeman resembling Mr. T would jump around like a monkey, like most films of the past have tried to make black people out to be.

But let us not for get the steady decline in nutritional value among the American people. (America being the fattest country in the world) Here comes a films which praises a world filled with ice cream mountains and fountains spewing with nacho cheese.  This is a world doesn't respect the artistic value that food should have, making it utterly revolting and visually unappealing.  The film's intentions are noble, but ultimately leaves a bad taste in the filmatic taste buds.

--------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------
I Love....Tron
Disney has always been a company filled with "firsts."  It created the first full length animated film, the first theme park, and the first computer animated feature film...Tron.

This was also Disney's first attempt at moving away from their normal type of film.  It still verged on the fantastic and unrealistic, but this story stepped into a dark world with very little hope and humanity, with a script that took a bold move in questioning the very concept of religion and God.  But, of course, that isn't the focus of the film.

The take on video games as a separate, real world was most likely a courages step for Disney since many parents of the day viewed video games as a demonic sensation that would potentially harm their children's well-being.  Surprisingly, the movie was met with fantastic reviews and repeat visits from film viewers.  While the animation doesn't meet the quality of present day, it's still remarkably well done and still entices my retinas.

Now, with Tron 2 coming out, I wonder what new direction Disney will take the film?  It seems to be making an attempt at continuing the video game feel that was established with the first Tron, but will the new and darker direction work?  One can only hope.


I Hate...Superman 4: The Quest for Peace
Richard Donner made a landmark with his two Superman films.  But Sidney Furie took the already campy comic book film franchise and turned it into a flop.  I already hated the idea of Lex Luthor as a bumbling idiot who thought of himself as intelligent, now they put his voice into a ridiculous super villain whose more annoying than creative.

But what's even worse is the whole comedic feel to the film.  While the previous three films maintained a hokey feel, this film's comedy was out of place and only made you laugh out of embarrassment for watching it.

But here's the conundrum...I own it on DVD.  And such is my torment, to enjoy watching a film that I hate.  If only Warner Bros. could have realized then that trying to make up their own villain really doesn't work well when there aren't competent writers in charge of the script.

But even small editing problems made the film hard to watch.  At one point, Superman had become old with no explanation as to why.  The story never found its footing and was confusing the whole way through.

Saturday, December 11, 2010

Saturdays With Karen Alloy #7

hmmmm, my wife tried a few of these techniques on me.....and they TOTALLY worked!

Tuesday, December 7, 2010

Cosplay With My Heart

I'm Speechless....It's kind of a dumb video, but hilarious at the same time.


So THIS was The droid they were looking for

Obi Wan was right, those WEREN'T the droids they were looking for.  This was the one they were looking for though...

alright alright, I'm sorry.  1) to my fellow bloggers who have seen the women in Star Wars bathing suits flocking all over the internet, and 2) for any family members who see this thinking I'm this perverted sexual fiend.  Just note, I post this purely because...well...Star Wars is awesome and anything new piece of clothing, gadget, or toy that comes out involving Star Wars needs to be seen by the world.  This is the latest thing, so I posted it.

My wife is going to shake her head at me when she sees this.

Monday, December 6, 2010

Rainbow Bright - The Movie

You know, I'd probably watch this regularly if it was a real show....

Sunday, December 5, 2010

Movie Review: Tangled

Release Date: November 24, 2010 (3D/2D theaters) 
Studio: Walt Disney Pictures 
Director: Byron Howard, Nathan Greno 
Screenwriter: Dan Fogelman 
Starring: Mandy Moore, Zachary Levi, Donna Murphy, Ron Perlman, M.C. Gainey, Jeffrey Tambor, Brad Garrett, Paul F. Tompkins 
Genre: Adventure, Animation, Family, Musical 
MPAA Rating: PG (for brief mild violence) 
Official Website: Disney.com/Tangled 

So Here’s What The Film Is About…
With the healing power a ray of sunshine embedded deep within her golden hair, Rapunzel is stolen from the King and Queen by an evil woman who wishes to remain young for the rest of her life.  As Rapunzel stays locked in the tower, with the frequent visits from her adopted mother, she dreams of a life outside the tower walls where she can live her dream.

Now enters the love interest, Flynn Rider, who has stolen the precious crown of the long lost princess finds refuge within the mysterious tower hidden away in the woods.  Out of fear, having never seen a real man before, takes Flynn hostage and offers him a trade…take her out into the world to see the glistening lanterns that appear every year on her birthday in return for the crown.

And thus starts the adventure where the unlikely duo sets out towards the castle where both will come face to face with their future.  But they will have to avoid the over-protective and selfish mother as well as a few of Flynn’s enemies along the way.



And Here’s What I Thought About It…
As with most Disney animated films which are based on very dark and twisted stories, Rapunzel is given a very rich, animated look filled with happy butterflies and gumdrop smiles.  This is not a negative criticism as things obviously need to be changed in order to meet the “family film” criteria and keep that rating of PG or lower.  I don’t think any of us will really want to see Flynn’s eye scratched out by the villain now do we?  But with any change in a film adaptation also comes with it a fear that something drastic will change in the story, causing fans to rip the film to shreds in how “inaccurate” the story is.  Whether you are one of those types of fans or not, rest assured there is something for everyone within Tangled.

Tangled is, of course, a shout out to the Roy Disney and Michael Eisner days of Disney; giving fans storylines involving a princess in distress who is rescued by the handsome prince (or in this case, thief) and running away from the evil mother.  It is the story of a free spirited young girl who yearns for something more than what her current life provides; with the random array of animals who seem to understand English and the folkish feel to the story, Tangled screams to the 30 – 40 year olds of today to travel back in time to when they were all just finishing elementary school and remember their filmatic childhood.  (Yes, I made up a word.  My blog, my rules…deal with it!) 

However, with this countries retelling (Yes, America is not the only country that tells these types of stories) of the famous folk story, Disney took a chance and strayed away from the popular title and slapped a much more modern and creative title across the movie posters streaming the internet.  And like most of the animated feature films of today, Tangled is filled with silly attempts at appealing to today’s youth, such as Flynn surfing down the dam and Rapunzel’s highly clever and athletic way of using her hair. 

But with the steadily declining interest in musicals in American culture these days, Disney markets this film as a simple animated film with very few musical numbers.  Quite the contrary as the film holds up to just as many songs as you would find in the Aladdin or Beauty and the Beast.  And Tangled is arguably the most musical animated film Disney has produced since Ariel’s adventure to the surface world.  (Just sit through all of the credits and you’ll see what I mean.)

Disney goes through different stages within their animation quality.  Once Walt died, brother Roy took it in a different direction.  As he left, Don Bluth came in and gave Disney a new artistic direction that changed the way animation was done.  Years later after Disney’s “let’s-make-our-movies-cheaply” faze, Michael Eisner took the helm and began giving us animated films to the quality of the Lion King. Now, Robert Iger is forcing Disney into a new era that has been bench marked by that of Pixar Animation Studios.  Tangled maintains that classic, Disney style but balloons the film into much more rich, fuller and life-like animation than in the companies past.  The landscaping of the woods and the chase scenes within them were perfectly done while the collapsing dam within the dried up canyon could have been mistaken for a live action, on location shot.

But most impressive is the detail in not only Rapunzel’s hair, but the hair of each and every character.  Mother Gothel’s mid-length curls had the sturdiness of any black-haired temptress, while Flynn’s thin and wavy brown locks were a sight for sore eyes.  And obviously, Rapunzel’s hair was given an extra amount of care as it was needed to maintain its golden grace despite the many trials and tribulations both her and Flynn would meet along the way.  This is all thanks to the 10 year research project and thesis by Xinmin Zhao and Kelly Ward, whose expertise aided in this films top notch animation quality.

The film’s story does take a little bit to find its footing.  But it isn’t helped by Flynn’s beginning narration and the montage of introductory set-up for the main plot.  It was a necessary thing given the starting point Disney decided to go with, but for about a half hour I was wondering what kind of film I was about to see; A cute and funny story with a Disney twist, or a seemingly contrived plot that was trying way to hard to be cool.  But after that first half hour, the film takes off into a fantastic adventure filled with laughs, action and adventure.

Casting was exceptional, especially the surprising singing talents given by Donna Murphy as the evil mother Gothel.  (I should stop being surprised by the musical excellence of most actors and actresses shouldn’t I?)  Donna Murphy, who’s made some brief appearances in films such as Star Trek: Insurrection and Spider-Man 2, went outside her normal, mellow acting role and pulled out all the stops, giving us one of the sexiest temptress voices to ever hit the recording studio.  Mandy Moore gives an excellent performance as does the unknown actor (at least unknown to me) Zachery Levi. The two make that classic connection of opposites attract very well.  Oh! And see if you can figure out who directors Nathan Greno and Byron Howard are doing the voices of!
For those of you who read my reviews consistently, you’ll know of my distaste for the storylines which are very predictable and purposefully pulled from the Hollywood script vault. While I understand why this is done, I find myself still having trouble accepting the fact that nothing original can come from a regurgitated storyline.  But, from time to time, I can allow myself to enjoy a film with a predictable script, especially when it comes to Disney animated films.  And with Tangled’s obvious shout out to its Eisner glory days, I take no real issue with the story’s plot base as its progression.  And with the upgrade in the quality of animation, Disney has given audiences an animated family film that anyone can enjoy.

Rating 9 out of 10

Comic Book Review: Action Comics Annual #13

Literary & Artistic Credits
Writer: Paul Cornell
Penciller: Paul Cornell & Ed Benes
Colorist: Val Staples & Jason Wright
Letterer: John J. Hill
Cover Art: Ethan Van Sciver & Hi-Fi
Editor: Matt Idelson

My Awe-Inspiring Opinion
Just like last year, Action Comics delivers one of the years best comic book stories.  However, #13 doesn’t divulge into the alien mythological world of Krypton, but dives deep into another part of Lex Luthor’s youth, even further explaining on the attributes of the Lex we know today.

This issue splits into two stories, both separate from each other while still connecting in similar ways.  Lex has always been a very independent person on the search for power beyond any man’s dreams, but there has always been a lingering need deep within him for a father figure.  Obviously Lex’s idea of fatherhood is quite construed seeing as how he murdered his own father, but this doesn’t mean he doesn’t long for it.  Paul Cornell’s Luthor story gives light to the scared young lad who later becomes one of DC’s most interesting villains.

The first story shows Lex in Metropolis, out on his own and looking for work.  He gets in with the wrong crowd who just so happens to have a major connection with Darkseid and the fiery world of Apokolips.  And here we are! In the midst of Luthor’s unknown reason for mistrusting aliens!  It all started with Darkseid!  But even then, Lex never showed an ounce of fear and even attempted to take over Apokolips by defeating Darkseid.  No such dice of course, but just like the relationship between him and Batman, Darkseid sees promise within the young Lex’s intentions, even if he’s unwilling to admit it.

The second provides a much older Lex, one still retaining his hair.  It’s interesting to see Luthor’s developmental stages in life.  Birthright showed us a Lex who was simply pissed off at the world due to it’s inadequacy in comparison with himself.  Action #13 presents a Lex who was still very much an angry young man, but sought to better his understanding of power and how mankind achieves it. Ra’s Al Ghul, of course, was far ahead of Lex intelligently and kept Luthor from taking what was his, but the conclusion of the story caught me off guard.

In a weird way, each male (Is Darkseid considered male on his planet?) That Lex runs into shows a certain amount of care for him.  Even Perry White, who was more about standing for truth, Justice and the American way rather than being the hardcore news editor we know today.  Luthor both accepts and rejects their fatherly advice and teachings; accepting them as good ideas, rejecting them in the sense that he now claims all his success to be of his own doing.  It’s interesting to see how his relationships develop with each character and how he interacts with them as well.

Marco Rudy and Ed Benes, two very accomplished artists, one a little more well known than the other, both having completely different styles.  What would my initial reaction to this be?  I think you know.  But this issue was not daunting for me since both stories were separate, and the different styles complimented their specific story.  I’ll always love Ed Benes, but Rudy definitely deserves two major thumbs up with his with his style similarly representing J.H. Williams III and his work on Promethea; overlapping panels, layouts that represent the characters feelings, it’s all quite unorthodox and a fresh take on the art in Action Comics.

My Majestically Climactic Conclusion
Action Comics has certainly become one of DC’s hot titles.  Its ability to exchange mainline characters is something the other titles are unable to do, which makes it standout very well.  But now, with Luthor having taking control of the said title, part of me wishes he would remain as Actions Comics’ protagonist for the next few years.  Unlikely that will happen, so I will enjoy this time learning more about Lex and his maniacal ways.  Now will you excuse me?  I need to go read this issue again…

Rating: 10 out of 10
+ 3 Incentive Points
Writing: 10
Art: 10
Themes: 10

Saturday, December 4, 2010

A Movie I Love - A Movie I Hate #1

I know I'm a film snob, and everyone I know is aware of this fact.  Most of my peers who can't understand my likes and dislikes when it comes to film often try to come up with reasons to help sway my opinion more closely resembling theirs.  Often times, they use bits of jargon to describe my thought process that is far from the truth; claiming I am unable to get into the emotional aspect of a film, or I don't understand film and storytelling to begin with. Typically, their attempts come off more as feeble and are ridiculous forms of persuasion that honestly don't help their viewpoint.  It's only successful in the fact that it makes them feel better about themselves and somehow causes them to believe that my opinion is wrong and theirs is right, making them feel justified in acting the way they do just because I don't agree with them.

So as a way of honoring these folks, I've decided start a new regular addition to the Heretic's Blog titled "A Movie I Love - A Movie I Hate."  In this I will pick a few movies I can't stand and attempt a contrasting viewpoint alongside them with some movies I love.  In doing this, it is my hope that these select individuals who scrutinize my film reviewing techniques and my love for certain types of film in general that, as hard as they may try to belittle my opinion, I will always stay strong with my opinions.  (But really...this is just my way of saying that they only like movies where stuff blows up, or ones that are are severely lacking in any intellectually stimulating content.)

Genre: Action Films! (Bang! Pop! Boom! Ka-Plow!)
I Love...The Spirit
Here's the issue, most people hated this film.  Whether you are or are not a comic book fan is irrelevant because most people hated this film in general.  But for me, this film sits in a very special place in my heart.  Why?  Because it's an incredible display of Film Noir at it's Best.  Bad karma floods this entire film with people dying, sex appeal, and corny one-liners that are welcome in a classic detective story.  But it had a flavor that doesn't typically come along with the modern day film experience.  It was weird and unorthodox (except for it's unrelenting circus of female eye candy) and presented the story in a not-so-pleasant fashion.  This doesn't sit well for most film goers...but for me it does.

I Hate...Avatar
Would you believe I hadn't even heard about this film in the least until me, my wife, and my family walked up to the theater and bought our tickets for it?  Well, it's true, I hadn't even heard others talking about it.  Which is weird because EVERYONE seemed super excited for it.  And this is strange to me because, unlike films and shows like Star Wars, Battlestar Gallactica, TMNT and Batman, Avatar had absolutely NO cult following.  There was nothing connecting it to any fanboyish theme, nor was it a continuation of any popular TV show or book.  Yet people began getting excited about almost a year before it had been released!  Why? Because James Cameron knows how to appeal to film goers "stupid" slice of the brain.  Sure, it's flashy and a monumental achievement in CGI animation...but what else was there?  Acting was sub-par and the script was a laughable piece of shit.  Throw out good film making and give fans regurgitated storylines (that were never that good to begin with) and you have Avatar.



Genre: Drama (Life is hard, I must cry about it and give an Oscar winning speech to prove it!)
I Love...Doubt
Why is this film amazing?  (Aside from the fact that it has Meryl Streep) Because it's written well!  It might very well be one of the BEST written scripts for a drama in the history of film.  Now, this could be due to the fact that it was a live stage production, which means a lot of thought and detail was put into the dialog, but its adaption onto the big screen was expertly done.  The performances by the cast went beyond my expectations.  (And believe me, I was expecting A LOT!)  But even more so, the story itself is so thought provoking it almost hurts.  The idea that a Nun, someone who devotes her life to God and living a Christ-like life, has doubt.  It is an incredibly emotional and heart clenching idea that no one wants to accept the reality of.





I Hate... Brokeback Mountain
I don't actually hate it, but I never felt the story went forward with what it claimed to be.  It will only become a landmark within Hollywood film making merely because it's the first film that really shoves the homoerotic strain within American Culture right into people's faces.  But the story itself is lacking much in substance.  It goes to great lengths to show the struggles that a homosexual male have go through in a world that doesn't accept the lifestyle, but nothing is learned, and everyone remains with their original viewpoints no matter where they stood.  The main character dies, his lover is sad about it, but no one learns anything from what transpires.  The life of the story doesn't extend past feeling bad that two homosexuals live hard lives.  The story is never given a chance to transcend beyond it's plot base, which makes it rather incomplete for me.  I'm not saying I needed the two men to run off with each other and live happily ever after, it wasn't that type of film and didn't need it.  But the film never becomes more than it's premise.