Friday, June 08, 2012


Moving On!

Decided to resurrect this blog, now located at WordPress:

Saturday, September 27, 2008


An Epic Battle


Wednesday, July 30, 2008



Things I Liked: Heath Ledger's Joker. In fact, everything about the Joker. Wasn't sure I would like this anarcho-punk incarnation, but it turned out to be great. The fact that they did NOT show Joker's origin, and that Joker's own explanation for his scars keep changing a la The Killing Joke. The fact that Joker survived the movie. Gary Oldman's James Gordon. Absolutely perfect. Referring to the original 1989 Bat-suit that famously did not allow Michael Keaton to move his head. The cameo by Senator Pat Leahy. Keeping the same Bat-mobile. Referencing the 1970's "Batcave" hidden beneath Bruce Wayne's penthouse. Batman willing to take on the general public's hatred.

Things I Did Not Like: The damn thing was so dark (I mean lighting-wise) at times you couldn't tell what was going on. The fight scenes were claustrophobically-shot; how can you tell Batman is the world's greatest fighter when all you ever see is a blurry close-up of his elbow? The sound editing; loud and awful. Dialogue was drowned out at times, particularly during Gordon's closing exposition. Harvey Dent; pretty much everything about him. We never learned enough about him to care or understand why he went insane or why he was so great Batman would seriously consider retiring in favor of him. Dent's portrayal in The Long Halloween was much better. In fact, his entire sub-plot felt tacked-on and unnecessary and his death pointless. The music; utterly forgettable. Production values on Gotham City. While I don't miss the homo-erotic Stalinism of Joel Schumacher's Gotham, there was something to be said for Tim Burton's gothic mega-city. Gotham City should be virtually a character in and of itself. The city should reflect the corruption within it and I hardly recall even seeing graffiti. Nolan's Gotham either looked too much like Chicago (where it was shot) or too generic (particularly the hospital). Christian Bale's Bat-Voice. It's become so dark and raspy as to be unintelligible, more like Billy Bob Thornton in Slingblade.

Overall? Frankly? It was kind of meh. Hate to admit it, but yeah.

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Thursday, July 24, 2008



Great movie. Really great movie. I loved the concept of an essentially homeless alcoholic superhero utterly despised by the city he protects. Will Smith does a superb job of conveying the character's essential loneliness and surly alienation from society. Jason Bateman is understated and convincing as the earnest, PR sidekick who takes it on himself to rehabilitate Hancock against his will. Charlize Theron plays Mary, Bateman's disproportionately hot wife. The plot is more or less an origin story for Hancock and does an intriguing job of speculating on how superheroes might actually be perceived in the real world. Hancock also shows that the powers don't make the hero; his are relatively generic (flight, invulnerability, super-strength) but we don't mind because the character who wields them is complex, interesting, and (eventually) sympathetic. There is a mild plot twist at the end that most fanboys will spot coming, but it's still interesting and advances the plot without being annoying. Highly recommended.

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Sunday, June 15, 2008


The Incredible Hulk

Subtitled "The Apology," this version completes ignores Ang Lee's widely-panned previous effort and actually pays homage to the old TV series, from cameos by Bill Bixby and Lou Ferrigno, to the classic "Banner hitchhiking" piano music, to the Hulk-making gadgetry. The plotting is tight and rather simplistic, with three increasingly-spectacular set-piece battles. Edward Norton channels some of his old "Fight Club" angst as the isolated, lonely and perpetually-fearful Banner. Liv Tyler is, well, Liv Tyler: enormous eyes, pouting lips, and almost no acting ability beyond a breathy little-girl voice. I particularly enjoyed the intertwining of Marvel history throughout the movie, including references to the Captain America mythos (in this respect, it's more like the Ultimate Universe). The CGI Hulk, however, was a little disappointing; it didn't seem nearly as realistic or emotive as, say, Gollum in LOTR. Overall, a very good effort, though not as incredible as Iron Man.

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Saturday, May 24, 2008


Indiana Jones & the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull


Spectacularly mediocre final installment of a series that has been going steadily downhill since Raiders of the Lost Ark. The franchise feels old and worn-out, not unlike Harrison Ford who seemingly can scarcely contain his boredom. The plot, such as it is, is molecule-thin, even by Indiana Jones standards, and riddled with holes, dead-ends and sheer silliness. Showing a hero facing old age is good idea, but other than one or two references to his age, Indy is exactly the same superhero he was in 1937, though he seems to have lost all common sense when it comes to reading his friends. He gets caught in a nuclear blast, tossed ten miles in a refrigerator that slams into the Earth at high speed and is able to get up and dust himself off! Which brings up another point: the stunts have gone WAY beyond thrilling and deep into ludicrous territory. The villains here (the godless Commies) are completely indistinguishable from the Nazis in the previous films, save only for the accents and the uniforms. And the last quarter is cringe-inducingly racist (not that the previous three installments were exactly enlightened), with Indians portrayed as screeching naked savages (and, apparently, some kind of ninja) and far too stupid to have invented anything on their own, instead being dependent on the "benevolent" von Daniken-ite aliens to instruct them. Overall, a disappointing end to an era.

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Sunday, May 11, 2008


Speed Racer

Emphasis on "Speed." An insane combination of Rollerball (the crappy original, not the crappy remake), Death Race 2000 and some kind of neon-fueled acid trip involving lots and lots of Hotwheels track. Presented with a deafening sound and explosive visual intensity designed to induce seizures in Japanese schoolchildren. Edited and directed by a hyperkinetic ADHD Asperger's Syndrome five-year-old. On crack. And bizarrely enough, the movie is actually LESS violent than the original cartoon series thanks to Plot Device Super Balls that eject the drivers when their vehicles unconvincingly explode (perhaps due to the Treknobabble matter/anti-matter drives that run them) into a billion white hot fragments.

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Recent Comics I Have Read

Mighty Avengers #13: Shorter Bendis: "This'll show you all for not reading Secret Wars!"

New Avengers #40: Yeah, it's Battlestar Galactica.

Avengers/Invaders #1: Hmmm, okay. Not sure about this. Art okay, like seeing the actual Captain America back. Have to assume this is some weird hiccup of continuity seeing as how Cap never "remembered" any of this.

Batman #675: Bad art. Jezebel Jet is annoying and pointless. Plus, the eye-finger guys from 52.

Captain America #37: Red Skull is well-presented, as was the Hawkeye vs. Bucky America confrontation.

DC Universe 0: It was free. And worth every penny.

Detective Comics #844: The cartoonish artwork goes well with Dini's writing. Nice, creepy origin for the new Ventriloquist. I still liked the Goth look for Zatanna better.

Infinity, Inc. #9: Mediocre art, reads sort of like an X-Men for DC. How old is Mercy supposed to be?

Iron Man Viva Las Vegas #1: Jon Favreau makes his own continuity, which is cool with me. Liked the artwork, fairly snappy dialogue. Not sure how Tony Stark pulled off the whole bathroom change thing and still kept his secret identity, though.

Justice League of America #20: Another team-up, this time Flash and Wonder Woman. Pretty well-handled, nice art and good dialogue for Flash. This may be part of the set-up to retire Wally and reinstate Barry Allen, desecrating the last grave in the superhero universal cemetery. Heaven forbid that any meaningful death ever be allowed to keep its meaning.

Ms. Marvel #26: Agent Sum is more interesting and Machine Man way more creepy than I originally thought. Paranoia strikes deep.

Noble Causes #32: Picks up five years later. Artwork is vastly improved and the new characters are intriguing, though I missed Liz Donnelly.

Powers Annual #1: Sigh, more of the super-apes. And with fur thong bikinis.

Secret Invasion #2: Okay, this is WAY more interesting than the interminable exposition in the Avengers. Bendis is doing a good job of stretching out the suspense over who is really a Skrull.

Amazing Spider-Man #558: My first BND issue and it was intensely adequate. Given that the whole BND shtick was to bring back the "glory days," it's pretty disappointing that this storyline doesn't even remotely approach Roger Stern's run. Creaky dialogue, silly plot. And Peter Parker living with his aunt in his late 'twenties doesn't make him an Everyman, it makes him pathetic.

Superman/Batman #47: Return of a concept from Generations and JLU that really makes sense when you think about it, even without Luthor as President.

Uncle Sam & the Freedom Fighters #8: Black Condor has been leeched of all originality and reduced to a New Age-spouting, Tarzan-talking stereotype. Very sad.

Wonder Woman #19: Simone continues to grow into the role, developing an interesting take on the main character. Artwork slipping, though.

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