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Movies Review

Should I Read It? Secret Wars (1984)

I know what you are thinking – didn’t we just leave this party?  And the answer to that is…complicated.  I am talking about the original Secret Wars from 1984-1985 today, one of the very first big crossover events at the big publishers.  It debuted 32 years ago, though you can’t tell from the May date on the cover.  If you’ve already read the new event, you’ll find some similarities here.  Doctor Doom and Owen Reece (the Molecule Man) are important, there’s a Beyonder (who may or may not have anything to do with THE Beyonders), and a bunch of heroes and villains fighting on a Battleworld.

But should you read it?  I lean towards yes, if you can keep in mind that it came out in the mid 80’s.  There’s a lot of narration and expository babble, but there’s a decent job done to give the big players their due.  Jim Shooter’s story was fun but in the end, little changed for the Marvel U as a whole.  Spider-Man, however, had one HUGE change come out of this:

Secret Wars 8 1984 spidey

Parker OBVIOUSLY had never seen a sci-fi movie at this point – never, never, NEVER stick your head under something spraying out black goo.  And eff you, Thor and Hulk, for not being more specific about which device makes clothes and which one sprays out goo monsters.

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Comics Review

Our Free Comic Book Day 2015 Haul!

Above you can see the picks both me and my kids picked out for Free Comic Book Day 2015!  I didn’t get to get out early so I missed a couple of the free books I wanted (the Dark Horse sampler with the Avatar: The Last Airbender comic, and Terrible Lizard) but we still got a bunch of cool stuff.  Some favorites:

  • Cleopatra in Space:  I *love* the art in this, and I can tell my daughters are going to enjoy it.  I see buying all the books.
  • The Invincible Iron Man War Machine collection:  My son’s pick (I think Age of Ultron affected this one), and a huge nostalgia bomb for me as I collected every one of these issues when I was a teenager.
  • Infinity Gauntlet/Planet Hulk #1:  These were both $1 reprints and my son really seemed to enjoy them.
  • Sensation Comics featuring Wonder Woman:  My girls both pegged on this one, as the cover art pulled them in.  Two stories, with one featuring interior art from Mike Maihack, of the above Cleopatra in Space.  Just a ton of fun.
  • The Unbeatable Squirrel Girl #4:  What can I say, Doreen reminds me of my Mattie and my wife reading the dialogue out loud to us was hilarious.

I think we’ll have to go back to the shop again sooner this time.  I was very happy to see lots of young women and girls out, and my daughters definitely liked seeing a wider selection of stuff with girls/women on the cover.  They both pointed out stuff like She-Hulk and Ms. Marvel while also picking up things like Dan Slott/Humberto Ramos’s The Amazing Spider-Man Volume 1.  All in all, I call that a successful day out.

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Comics Life

The “For Boys” Problem

MattieCapSweatshirt
My girls!

This is my daughter, Mattie (and the back of my other daughter, Eva).  The girls have taken on my love of comics, mostly due to the show Earth’s Mightiest Heroes and the Marvel Cinematic Universe.  M is wearing her new Captain America hoodie which may be her new favorite possession.  Upon seeing it in the store, Eva squealed “Daddy, do they have a THOR ONE???” but a quick check of the racks showed that they did not.  Hey, his last movie came out a while back.  So I did a search for ‘Thor hooded sweatshirt’, and the first link went to the Disney store.  As soon as the link loaded though, I rolled my eyes.  “Thor Costume Hoodie for Boys” it says.  The thing is, for a kid that is under say, 10, hoodies are all pretty much the same.  I had no problem buying that out of the ‘boys’ section, but a lot of people would avoid that.  Online, it shouldn’t even BE a problem.  Just tag it for both and drop the “for boys” out of the name.

It didn’t get any better when I scrolled to the bottom of the page.  Six more related items, all hoodies for Marvel heroes (and R2D2), all “for boys”.  The Thor character page for girls is desolate, with a Mr. Potato Head toy, a set of figurines, and Disney Infinity 2.0.  Last I checked, glasses, wall clings and books work the same for either gender.

BoysHoodies

I find the lack of Thor stuff for girls particularly funny right now, as Thor in the comics is going to BE a woman in just a few weeks.  Cosplayers of both genders have been dressing as Thor forever.  Women and girls go to comic book movies, they work in comic book stores, they read comics.  Why don’t the companies making this stuff get that?  There are sources for stuff at some of the more niche sites on the web, but most folks aren’t going to WeLoveFine or SuperheroStuff.  The girls who want to wear this now are the ones who will pick up a Spider-Man comic on a whim when they get to be teens, and will be filling Tumblr (or whatever fills that role in 10 years) with GIFs of whoever the next Hugh Jackman, Chris Evans or ScarJo is.

I hope this gets better.  DC and Marvel both have some really great books starring female heroes they could get more gear out there for, but sometimes your daughter just ends up loving Captain America, despite how many times you read Ms. Marvel or Captain Marvel around them.  Let’s support it, okay?

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Movies Review

Movie Review – Thor: The Dark World

The first Thor movie (am I the only one who feels like THOR should be all-caps?  or maybe in that ‘Asgardian’ font they use in the comics?) was a solid effort despite some cornball moments.  The real star turn from that was for Tom Hiddleston’s Loki however, and the fact he got to villain it up in The Avengers shows that.  So yeah, this was always destined to be a Thor/Loki team up.  What’s surprising is how well both characters come out in the end.

Thor-2_2709663b
Loki, you magnificent bastard.

What always causes problems for potential Thor movies is the plot – being the most cosmic and mystical of any current MCU property, it’s not hard to see why.  In this, a power called the Aether is released inadvertantly by Jane Foster, in her efforts to find a way reach Thor.  Oops.  Lucky for her, Thor and the Asgardians have reforged the Bifrost and he can take Jane to be looked at by their healers.  Odin is having NONE OF THIS as Thor should be with Sif, man.  Sif herself is certainly on board with this, though it never develops into a real love triangle – Thor is all about Jane.  Frigga (Rene Russo gets to do stuff this time!) is more open to Jane.  The awakening of the Aether also brings the villain of the movie out of a sort of suspended animation – Malekith the Accursed.  In a flashback we are shown just HOW VILLAINOUS he is when he lets the majority of his people, the Dark Elves, get slaughtered by Asgard when the Aether is kept from him.  Christopher Eccleston does it well enough, but it has to suck to be second fiddle to the Thor and Loki show.  By the way, I want to single out Idris Elba’s Heimdall as well.  He’s by far the coolest looking character, and like Frigga, has more to do.

Like the first Thor movie, there’s some genuinely funny moments, some solid father/son, mother/son angst, good battles, and the twist and the end…well, if I say more, it’ll be spoiled, and you will NOT want that.  Better than the first, and really, stay through the credits.  You should know that by now, right?  I got a real kick out of this, and you will too.

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Featured Movies

The Top 10 Superhero Movies Of All Time

I got to thinking about this thanks to a forum post at one of the sites I frequent.  Someone said there hadn’t BEEN ten good ones, which just seemed silly, so I quickly banged out my list.  But there are so many more movies, I know you guys will differ!  So I present to you, the poll for your top 10 Superhero movies:

Top 10 Superhero Movies Of All Time

  • The Dark Knight (18%, 12 Votes)
  • The Dark Knight Rises (15%, 10 Votes)
  • The Avengers (14%, 9 Votes)
  • X-Men: First Class (6%, 4 Votes)
  • The Amazing Spider-Man (6%, 4 Votes)
  • The Incredibles (5%, 3 Votes)
  • Iron Man (5%, 3 Votes)
  • Captain America: The First Avenger (5%, 3 Votes)
  • Batman Begins (3%, 2 Votes)
  • X-Men (3%, 2 Votes)
  • X2: X-Men United (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Iron Man 2 (3%, 2 Votes)
  • The Crow (3%, 2 Votes)
  • Hellboy 2: The Golden Army (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Hellboy (2%, 1 Votes)
  • X-Men: The Last Stand (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Batman (Burton) (2%, 1 Votes)
  • The Watchmen (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Kick-Ass (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Superman (2%, 1 Votes)
  • Mystery Men (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Judge Dredd (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Ghost Rider: Spirit of Vengeance (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Jonah Hex (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Blade 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • X-Men Origins: Wolverine (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Spider-Man (Raimi) (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Batman Returns (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Spawn (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Spider-Man 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Fantastic Four: Rise of the Silver Surfer (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Hancock (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Blade (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Fantastic Four (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Blade: Trinity (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Incredible Hulk (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Thor (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Superman Returns (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Green Lantern (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Superman 2 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • Spider-Man 3 (0%, 0 Votes)
  • The Spirit (0%, 0 Votes)

Total Voters: 31

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A few notes…this is semi-complete as I left off some of the lesser-known options (and of course ones I didn’t think of).  If you are missing a top choice, let me know and I can add it, but I think I’ve got the ones that will be on most of your lists.  The choices aren’t ranked in the poll, just put your 10 best (use the comments if you want to post a ranking) and I’ll see which moves get the most votes.

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Featured Movies Review

Movie Review – The Avengers

Be warned:  Spoilers, I have them.

I’ve been struggling with how to approach reviewing The Avengers.  I mean, I’m a comic guy from way back, but not an obsessive one.  Iron Man is one of my favorites, and I’m not sure I can be entirely impartial.  Had I stayed up last night (got home at 1:30am) and wrote this, my post would be peppered with ‘FUCK YEAH AVENGERS WOOOOO’ and stuff like that.  By this time, you’ve read a bunch of other reviews and know pretty much what you are getting – but I have to write something!  I thought Joss and the rest handled so many egos perfectly.  Just about everybody had a great line or three that left people guffawing.  As anyone that’s watched Firefly knows, Joss has excellent comic timing, and a way with having the unexpected happen that only amps it up.  This is funnier than you are expecting, yes, even if you like the jokes in the trailers.  There’s a few spots of real emotion, though they were kept a bit to the sideline so that the movie would keep moving (one particular scene with Agent Carter and Steve Rogers was cut as it ‘brought the movie to a halt’).

Favorite bits:

  • Stark referencing “life model decoys” from the comics
  • Captain America’s “There’s only one God, ma’am…” line
  • “Puny God” and the absolute ass-kicking Loki received just before it
  • Rogers/Cap paying up the $10 (total Joss move right there)
  • “Hulk…smash”  *grin*
  • “He’s adopted”
  • Banner on Loki:  “That guy’s brain is a bag full of cats. You can smell crazy on him.”
  • Tony’s speech to Loki at the final battle.  “You’re missing the point. There’s no throne. There is no version of this where you come out on top…”

If there’s one bit that didn’t work, it was Stark with Pepper at the beginning.  Could’ve used som polishing, and possibly Pepper should’ve worn some pants.  Not that I don’t mind the fan-service daisy dukes there, but it distracted from them as a couple.

Minor quibble, though.  I’ll be seeing this again on Wednesday, and probably again once it reaches the second-run theater, or maybe at the drive-in if there’s something good paired with it.  Highly recommended for all except the little ones.

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Featured Review

More on Thor: Come ON, Roger

Roger Ebert is one of the few critics I play attention to.  I don’t always agree with him, but he thinks really hard on even the silliest movie he has the misfortune to see.  That is, most of the time.  He didn’t review Thor officially, but mentioned in his ‘Journal’ today.  I can understand him not being familiar with the source material – neither am I, really, as I never read Thor’s standalone books – and it’s really not necessary for this movie.  Most of what you need to know is laid out for you, and if you don’t get that the ‘Barton’ dude carrying a bow is a reference to Hawkeye, so be it.  You’ll figure it out later.  But check this:

In the arena of movies about comic book superheroes, it is a desolate vastation. Nothing exciting happens, little of interest is said, and the special effects evoke not a place or a time but simply…special effects.

A ‘desolate vastation’??  I might save that for Elektra but Thor wasn’t a bad movie.

Thor to begin with is not an interesting character. The gods of Greek, Roman and Norse mythology share the same problem, which is that what you see is what you get.

This I agree with, but I thought there was enough interest with the byplay between Thor and Odin, and Thor and Loki.  Different strokes.

The land (sphere? state of mind? heaven?) known as Asgard is described in Norse mythology as being near Troy, or perhaps in Asia Minor.

Uh, in the MOVIE, it was explained pretty clearly ‘where’ Asgard is and how it connects to the other realms.  Roger also missed both the scientific description of the Bifrost and Thor’s own description of it, as that confused him too.

Later there’s a meteoric event in which Thor’s hammer hurtles to earth and becomes embedded so firmly that it can’t be pulled lose by a pickup truck or even the federal government.

Again, there’s source material that could help with this, but I thought it was made pretty clear that only someone WORTHY of wielding Mjolnir could lift it.  “Whoever wields this hammer, if he be worthy, shall possess the power of Thor.”  You hear that, you see everyone NOT lifting the hammer, you get it, right?

Thor luckily speaks English and Jane and her friends take him to the local diner, where he eats lots of Pop Tarts and, when he finishes his coffee, smashes the empty cup to the ground. “We don’t do that,” Jane explains as if to a child, and advises him to simply order another cup, after which he apparently absorbs human behavior and the movie drops the Taming of the Thor angle.

Yes, he speaks English.  As a god-like alien whose people have traveled to 9 different planets over thousands of years, he might’ve learned it.  If you’re wondering how he eats and breathes…

The three scientists are thin soup. Jane flirts demurely with Thor, Darcy stands next to her and does nothing very important, and Dr. Sevig regards them gravely and looms slightly above a low-angle camera while looking on with wise concern

This I agree with, but I think both of the ladies are pretty cute, and Dr. Selvig does his job okay.  Always seems out of breath, though, he should see a doctor.

Superhero movies live and die on the quality of their villains. “Thor” has a shabby crew. The Frost Giants spend most of their time being frosty in their subzero sphere of Jotunheim and occasionally freezing their enemies.

Admittedly, the Frost Giants didn’t impress me, not seeming ‘giant’ enough.

Thor’s brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston) is dark-haired, skinny, shifty-eyed and sadly lacking in charisma.

The Trickster god, he does a solid job of manipulating everyone, but he’s not a match in a direct fight, so he doesn’t.

These villains lack adequate interest to supply a climactic battle, so the plot provides a Metal Giant, sends him to the New Mexico town, and has him blast fiery rays that blow up gas stations real good but always miss his targets. He is apparently stopped by a sword through his spine, but why does he need a spine since when his mask lifts we can see his head is an empty cavern?

The Destroyer is stabbed by a spear, and doesn’t get killed by it.  Just wrong.  Look, there’s more here that doesn’t make sense but I guess I expect more from Roger Ebert.  I don’t expect you to read years of back issue comics to understand a comic book movie, but that’s not required here.  Just watch the movie.  It’s not the best comic book movie, but it IS a good one.

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Featured Review

Movie Review – Thor

I went and saw Thor at the IMAX 3D last night, solid, enjoyable movie.  I was never a fanboy of the Thor comic, mostly only reading it when it came in the big bulk packs that I bought, but I’m glad I went to see this movie.  This is normally where I’d explain who Thor is and give the basic rundown on how he came to be, but I will link the Marvel wiki instead.  I liked the way they are trying to integrate the more fantastical heroes of Marvel with the more real-to-life  ones.  I’ll never understand the power balance between the groups, but then again, the comic writers themselves have that problem too.

Chris Hemsworth has bulked up seriously and definitely looks the part of a god.  The fighting style used for Thor fits as well, big, brutal strikes.  The power of Mjolnir seems well represented, summoning lightning, smashing giants and causing mayhem.  Loki (played by Tom Hiddleston) is a decent villain, it’s a not easy to have a baddie that ‘fights’ mostly with words, manipulation and illusions but that is why the biggest fights are against Frost Giants and the Destroyer.

Natalie Portman ably plays Jane Foster, Thor’s earthly love interest who is researching (unbeknownst to her) the end point of the bifrost, the rainbow bridge that connects the various realms together.  She’s a bit of a maverick, and has a tendency to hit Thor with her van.

There’s a good bit of humor (as there should be for a comic book movie in my opinion), though a few of the jokes fall flat.  There are plenty of in-references if you are a comic fan, though I had to look some of them up, having little experience with the more fantastical books in the Marvel lineup.

If you are a comic book fan, see it.  If you are a Branagh fan, see it if only to contrast it to all the Shakespeare-related movies he’s put out.  It’s just a good movie, with a set-up after the credits for the forthcoming Captain America movie that had my more Thor knowledgeable friends buzzing.

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Featured Media

Spring and Summer 2011 Movies

The meat of the 2011 movie season is coming up, including the Summer blockbusters, and I thought I’d run them down and see which ones I’m planning to check out.  Note that as a Dad, the list leans towards animated movies as well as comic book movies and summer blockbusters.  I don’t like horror and dumb comedies.  Month by month breakdown:

March

Will see:

Rango– Interesting to see where Johnny Depp can go with this 3D animated/motion-capped role, with original Piratesdirector Gore Verbinski.

Sucker Punch – Zack Snyder and hot chicks, I’m guessing the guys at work will open the movie-going season here.

Maybes: 

Battle:  Los Angeles – Need more data on this one.

April

Will see:

Hop – From the Despicable Mefolks, so I’ll probably see it with my son.  I’d like to see more of a trailer, first, though.  They don’t have the built-up cred that Pixar has with me.

Rio – Another movie with the kids, from the Ice Age guy this time.

Maybes:

Source Code – Interesting premise, but time travel movies are tricky.

May

Will see:

Thor– Now we’re getting somewhere.  The latest in the inter-connected Marvel universe movies is also the one that seems most likely to, well, not fail, but perhaps underperform.  Fitting Norse gods into a fairly ‘real’ world, with a Shakespearean director in Branagh, is a tougher sell than a billionaire playboy with sleek toys.  For me, if you add Natalie Portman and Anthony Hopkins into the mix, with Chris Hemsworth as the Mighty Thor, and it could surprise the skeptics.

Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides– While the second and third movies weren’t super, there was some entertainment value.  I’m curious to see more of Captain Jack and Captain Barbossa, and just adding Ian McShane’s voice is a plus.

Kung Fu Panda 2– The original was a heck of a classic kung fu movie story, animated or not.  Might be looking forward to this more than anything.

June

Will see:

X-Men:  First Class – Sigh.  This might get dropped to ‘maybe’, just because I dislike the idea of rebooting something that isn’t that old (same with Spiderman).  The problems in X-Men:  The Last Stand were fixable.  But anyway, I’m a Marvel guy, so I am giving them just a little bit of rope with this one.

The Green Lantern – I’m only passingly familiar with this DC title, as I really only read Batman back when I used to buy comics.  But Ryan Reynolds is pumped, and hey, most comic movies are fun.  Definitely a guy’s night movie.

Cars 2– Ooh boy.  Would probably be a maybe if I didn’t have young children or this wasn’t Pixar.  I enjoy the original well enough, but I don’t think I need more of it.  Pixar has proved me wrong enough times though.

July

Will see:

Transformers:  Dark of the Moon – I like big robots blowing s$!# up.

Captain America:  The First Avenger– I actually liked Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, despite the failings of the Fantastic Four movies, so I think he can handle this.  Toss in Hugo Weaving and Joss Whedon, and it’s up towards the top of my list.

Maybe:

Cowboys and Aliens – Dimly on my radar at this point, but Daniel Craig and an interesting premise.  Requires further investigation.

August

Will see:

Nothing on my radar yet.

Maybes:

Conan the Barbarian – I don’t have any memories of this, save maybe being in the room by my older brothers when they watched it while ‘watching’ me. 

I’ll stop there – don’t see anything yet in September but that is far enough out that it’s subject to change.  By the way, the Smurfs movie looks like an unholy abomination.  I saw an episode of the show the other day, and while it’s not something that’s held up since childhood, I seriously hate the ‘take a “classic” set of characters and put them in the REAL WORLD’ idea here.  Like Yogi Bear, what works as a cartoon (talking bears that have a collar and tie with no shirt) just looks extremely odd as a mix of live-action and 3D animation.

Faithful readers, anything else you are looking forward to?