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Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan - DVD Review

11/3/2008 11:08:11 AM permalink

Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan tells the story of the rise, fall and eventual rebirth of the Wu-Tang Clan, one of the most successful hip-hop groups in history. It follows them from their humble beginnings as kids in Staten Island watching kung-fu movies to the height of fame and power as rappers, record producers, actors and major motion picture composers.

The impact of the Wu-Tang Clan can not be overstated. The simple fact that the group had nine MCs is amazing in and of itself, to say nothing of their dominance of the industry, brought about by their unique deal with Loud Records which allowed each member of the group to sign with a different record label for their solo releases. From clothing stores to video games to nail polish, the Clan branched out into many different avenues of business, each one of them successful.

But success has its price, as this film documents. Internal struggles within the group and personal problems essentially dissolved the Clan. It seemed that their egos got the best of them as rivalries and feuds made enemies out of former friends. Struggles with personal demons led to the incarceration and eventual death of founding member Russell Jones aka Ol’ Dirty Bastard. Much of the film is dedicated to ODB’s problems and acts as something of a tribute to this often misunderstood but immensely talented individual.

The film features interviews with friends and family as well as never before seen performance footage from the early days in clubs to sell-out arena crowds. The impact of the group is underscored by this amazing footage. The crowds at these shows are so diverse: seemingly people of every color and culture loved the Wu-Tang Clan and at several times throughout the performances, it would seem that the crowd is the MC. They know every single word to every song. It’s almost like a rally or a revival meeting. There’s something almost religious about these events and the power comes through on film.

While Wu: The Story of the Wu-Tang Clan is probably the best documentary on the group I’ve ever seen, there’s a simple reason for that fact: it’s the only documentary on the group I’ve ever seen. The downfall of this film is that while it touches on nearly every important aspect of the group’s history, it never really gets in-depth. It glazes the surface of many events, but never really delves into any of them, with the exception of the death of ODB. There are lots of interviews with producers, relatives and friends, but the majority of the interviews with actual members of the Wu-Tang Clan are ones that have been seen before on MTV or BET and are several years old.

It’s not that the film isn’t informative, it simply isn’t informative enough. Not enough for me, at least. Don’t get me wrong, I’d definitely recommend this movie to any fan of the group, but I have to admit that I was left wanting more. The cover of the DVD package states that this is an authorized film, and part of me has to wonder if that is part of the problem. I got the feeling that because the director is a close friend to the Wu-Tang Clan, perhaps he did not delve as deeply or as intimately into certain matters as he could have. Not that I was looking for a tawdry history of the group, but I did feel like this film pulled its punches a bit. More information on the Wu-Tang Clan to be found on Wikipedia than in this movie. On the other hand, we live in such a tabloid culture these days, maybe it’s best to simply take a look at a group of artists and applaud them for what they’ve done rather than rake them over the coals and expose their darkest secrets.

This DVD includes extended versions of some of the interviews seen in the film as well as the music video for Protect Ya Neck, the debut single that started it all.  The DVD will be available in stores November 18, 2008.

Tags: review, dvd, miscellanious

WWE: Bring Back the REAL Survivor Series!

10/28/2008 5:49:34 AM permalink

I'm pretty new to Mania, so there's a chance I'm just missing something, but whenever I scour this site for professional wrestling content, I find it to be woefully absent despite the fact that the site was plastered with advertisements for WWE Smackdown a few weeks back.  Obviously they think there's an audience here.  I think so too, and I'm hoping to find it.

I'm a longtime fan from way back: I don't get to watch wrestling as much as I used to, and when I do I often find myself acting like a curmudgeonly old man... "What? Randy Orton?  You shoulda seen his dad "Cowboy" Bob Orton!  Now there was a wrestler!"  But I still enjoy it and I can't complain too much, even if my tastes run more toward 1980s NWA than 2008 TNA.  Once a fan, always a fan.  Wrestling has gone through a few boom periods and it picks up a lot of fairweather fans, but there's always a few that become lifers.  That's me: The WWF got me back in the 80s when I was a kid and Hulk Hogan's Rock N' Wrestling was on tv.  Since then I've become a scholar of the sport, so to speak.  Sure, I've gone through periods where I haven't watched as much as I used to, but I always come back.  

Anyway, I'm rambling now.  Enough about me, let's get to the point: Survivor Series.

WWE has what, 12 Pay-Per-Views a year?  There's one every month, and I think there's a month where they sneak an extra one in, but I can't remember.  The point is this: Vince McMahon puts on 12 (possibly 13) big events a year that we're expected to pay for and for the most part, they're all more-or-less exactly the same.  The only one that's any different is the Royal Rumble.  But the Survivor Series used to be different.  It used to be an event.  It was, and still could be a great way to advance storylines, start new feuds and showcase different types of matches.

Back in ye olde day, the Survivor Series featured five-on-five or four-on-four elimination tag matches.  It lived up to it's name.  Only the strong survived.  Sometimes an entire team would make it through their match; other times, it might end up being only one or two.  You might see one guy rally and take out an entire four man team.  You might see four wrestlers with tremendous egos attempt to co-exist and fail, thus sparking a new feud.

Nowadays, you're lucky if you get one "Survivor Series style match" per card.  Mostly the event is no different from the Great American Bash, Summerslam, Backlash or any of the other glorified Monday Night Raws they make fans shell out money for. 

Money is really tight right now and fans are feeling the pinch.  If the WWE wants to sell their PPVs, they need to offer us something that we can't get any other month out of the year.  They need to give us something special to look forward to.  I think it's time to bring back the real Survivor Series... not just one four-on-four elimination match, a whole card full of them!

I can understand some of the reasons for not doing it.  Back in the '80s, tag team wrestling was all the rage.  People wanted more of it.  Faces and heels were more clear cut and the WWF of the era was more cartoonish: it was easier to team up all the "good guys" and have them fight the "bad guys".  These days, the good guys don't always get along so well and it's often hard to distinguish them from the bad guys. 

Still, I think this is all the more reason to bring back the real Survivor Series.  Draw teams randomly and see if they can make it!  That way fans don't feel insulted with cookie cutter "good guy vs. bad guy" feuds.  Give the winners a Money in the Bank title shot... hell, just give 'em a big trophy that they can use to smash somebody over the head with.  Make it worth something, for the wrestlers and especially for the fans.

The real reason I want to see the old Survivor Series return isn't some misguided sense of nostalgia (though I admit that does play a part).  I just want some variety in my rasslin'.  I don't order all 12 Pay-Per-Views in a year.  Actually, I don't order any - there's a bar about 15 minutes from here that gets 'em all and only charges $3 cover.  But that's beside the point.  I don't go to the bar to watch the WWE PPVs every month because I don't feel compelled to: most of the time it's just the same old stuff every single month.  Every so often there's a really good card and I feel inclined to go, but these days it's harder and harder to get me out of the house to watch a WWE event.  They need to get me out of the house.  With the poor state of the economy, it's harder and harder to get me to part with those few extra dollars that I could be spending on comic books.  Give me a reason to throw away a few bucks.  Give me the Survivor Series.

Tags: wwe, rasslin business

Joy Ride: Dead Ahead - DVD Review

10/21/2008 6:44:03 AM permalink

My mother always told me “If you don’t have something nice to say, you probably shouldn’t say anything at all.” It’s a good thing I don’t always follow my mother’s advice because if I did, this would be the shortest reviews I’ve ever written.

Joy Ride 2: Dead Ahead tells the tale of four twenty-somethings on their way to Las Vegas to celebrate an imminent marriage. They’re taking the back roads to save time and wouldn’t you know it: their car breaks down. They come across an abandoned house and decide to “borrow” a car they find there. Naturally, the car belongs to Rusty Nails, a crazy trucker who decides to hunt them down and kill them; not because they stole his car, but simply because he’s a crazy trucker who likes to kill people. I guess when your mom names you Rusty Nails, you end up with a particularly mean disposition.

If you enjoy formulaic-to-the-point-of-boredom horror films, this might be right up your alley. Otherwise, steer clear of this disaster. Sometimes, adhering to a basic formula works really well. Sometimes it’s fun to watch a mindless horror or action movie knowing full well what the outcome will be. Being able to figure out the entire plot within the first 15 minutes of a movie isn’t always a bad thing. If you’re in the mood for that sort of thing, or if you’re playing a drinking game, it can actually be a pretty good time.

I defy anyone to enjoy Joy Ride 2. I defy anyone to sit through the entire movie without finding a bit of light housework to do while watching. I had no problem stepping out of the room for a minute or two, knowing full well that I wouldn’t be missing out on any major plot points or particularly juicy lines of dialogue. This movie was so terrible I didn’t even get any satisfaction out of watching the death scenes. Yeah, it’s that bad.

If you’re interested in finding out where turds come from, you could tune into a gastrointestinal documentary on the Science Channel, or you could watch the extras on this disc, which include a making-of and storyboard-to-scene comparisons. There’s also a featurette which showcases the how-to’s of gore makeup, which is actually pretty interesting.

In short, I advise you to stay as far away from this movie as possible. There is no joy to be found in Joy Ride 2.

Tags: movies

The Happening Ain't Happening - my DVD review

10/17/2008 11:22:59 AM permalink

In the summer of 2008, writer/director M. Night Shyamalan unleashed his first ever R-rated feature film, The Happening. The film was pretty much universally panned by critics and filmgoers alike, myself included. There’s certainly no mistaking The Happening for something that the average person would refer to as a “good movie”, but upon further contemplation, I do feel that this movie has something to offer to a certain selection of film buffs.

The basic plot of the film deals with a strange plague that causes people to off themselves in particularly gruesome ways. There’s a husband and wife who run around trying to get to the bottom of the whole thing while simultaneously dealing with the effects of the plague. Namely, everybody starts panicking and acting all crazy. The main point of the film, without spoiling anything, is that ultimately it is people who are the real terror.

This movie features, without a doubt, the worst acting I have ever seen captured on film. I’m not just referring to one or two of the actors, I’m talking across the board. It’s true that no one has ever mistaken Mark Walberg or Zooey Deschanel for Academy Award winners, but to call their performances in this film wooden would be an insult to the lumber industry. They’re just plain bad.

The movie was marketed as something of a horror film, or maybe a suspense thriller or something of that nature. The truth of the matter is that it’s not even remotely scary. I can’t recall sitting through a less suspenseful movie in my lifetime. This film fails to hit the mark on nearly every attempt: it’s funny when it’s supposed to be serious and during the (allegedly) humorous scenes, there was nary a smile in the theater.

Now, I saw The Happening in the theater, and I’ll be totally honest with you: I almost walked out about 30 minutes into it. But at some point, I’m not exactly sure where, a light bulb appeared over my head and the truth of this film was illuminated. “Oh!” I thought to myself while sitting in the theater contemplating other things I could’ve spent my $10 on, “This isn’t a good movie… it’s a bad movie!” And from that point on, I actually kind of liked it.

Here’s the deal: if The Happening had been released some time in the 1970’s, I’m convinced that it would be revered today as a lost gem of the drive-in era. Its poor acting, slow pacing and heavy-handed social and ecological messages would have meshed quite well with other films of the era such as Billy Jack, The Late Great Planet Earth, Soylent Green or Silent Running. If it had been released as the third movie on the “Grindhouse” bill along with Tarantino’s Death Proof and Rodriguez’s Planet Terror, fans of exploitation films would have absolutely swooned over it. It fits in perfectly with these films, and a part of me has to believe that it was M. Night Shyamalan’s intention to craft an homage to this bygone era of filmmaking. I have to believe it because it’s the only way I can make any sense of this travesty of modern cinema.

There is no possible way Shyamalan wrote this dialogue and handed it over to the actors thinking it was going to be the next Sixth Sense. I can not possibly believe that he directed these actors and at the end of a long shoot looked back over the finished product and thought "Yes, this is exactly what I was going for!"unless what he was going for was an intentionally bad movie. And if that was indeed his goal, then he succeeded with flying colors and I applaud him for his efforts.

I myself am a fan of exploitation films and B-movies. I am among the seven people in the world who actually own the remastered 5-disc Billy Jack 35th Anniversary Ultimate Collection. Nothing moves me to recycle or make a difference in my community like a good (or from most perspectives, bad) mid-to-late ‘70s ecological disaster movie. So when I look at The Happening through that perspective, there is a big part of me that really does enjoy it. That strange and indefinable part of my brain that absolutely thrills to bad cinema. If you feel the same way, you just might find something to enjoy in The Happening. However, if you are filmgoer with any sense of taste, you’ll stay as far away from this movie as you can possibly get.

The DVD features all sorts of deleted scenes with introductions from Shyamalan, as well as behind-the-scenes featurettes and a gag reel.

Tags: review, dvd, the happening

Sequential Art and the Never-Ending Struggle for Truth, Justice and Mainstream Acceptance

10/16/2008 8:34:20 AM permalink

It's a topic I've talked about before, but it's worth talking about again, so here goes...

For years, fans and creators of sequential art have fought for mainstream acceptance.  We know the medium is an artform, no less important than film, painting or sculpture.  But it's often an uphill climb getting others to accept that.  We've made a lot of progress, but I find that I am still met with a lot of scorn or at the very least, a condescening look and a roll of the eyes when I tell people I read comic books (or graphic novels, if you prefer that term).

I expect it from older folks: they've grown up with the idea of comics as a disposable medium, printed cheaply and oftentimes featuring juvenile plotlines.  Just because they're from another generation doesn't make it right, though.  But as the saying goes, "you can't teach an old dog new tricks", so you kind of have to let that slide.  I'm more dismayed when a peer dismisses the notion of reading comics... "You like movies, right?  And you like books, right?  So why wouldn't you enjoy something that is a perfect melding of the two?" - that line usually works, or it at least shames them somewhat.

But take heart comic fans... a new horizon is dawning and brighter tomorrows are right around the corner!

Comic specialty shops are becoming friendlier places that welcome new faces and comic-based films are dominating the theaters.  The Dark Knight is ... what, the 4th most profitable movie of all time now?  And beyond just making a lot of money, it was accepted by mainstream moviegoers not as "a good comic movie", but as a good movie period.  There's a big difference there, folks.  And that's a good thing.

I think it's safe to say that "The Big Two" has become "The Big Three" as Image comics has become the go-to place for high-profile independent comics.  I'd probably even go so far as to say that Dark Horse deserves a spot in there as well.  Superhero comics have been getting more and more mature and Image and Dark Horse publish a ton of stuff that doesn't feature superheroes, tights, capes or anything resembling a radiation-based super power.  Marvel and DC have always been dominated by superheroes, but they've also published a lot of westerns, romance comics, etc - and that's growing too.  It seems to me that DC is a bit braver when it comes to branching out with stuff like Jonah Hex or the entire Vertigo line.

But I'm just telling you stuff you already know.  

And why am I telling you this?  Well, I felt like I had to offer something of a recap before I got to my actual point.

My wife has a subscription to Marie Claire.  It's like a fashion magazine or something.  Sort of like Cosmoplitan but without a million headlines that scream "27 Ways to Please Your Man!" ... I've always been confused and a bit amused by the fact that a so-called women's magazine seems to offer nothing more than a variety of articles about making a man happy.  But I digress.  Marie Claire, from what I can tell from my occasional perusals, seems to be something of an upper class version of Cosmo mixed with a dash of People - but less gossipy and tawdry.

By now you're probably really wondering what the hell I'm talking about.  Here's the deal: I was flipping through the most recent issue of my wife's favorite magaine (I want to stress that it is my wife's, and I that I was only looking at it because I was bored and there was nothing on TV) and I came across a 1/2 page segment that was referred to as "The Culture Pyramid" - like a food pyramid, but with pop culture.  At the bottom (guilty pleasures: partake sparingly) I found a recommendation for the Iron Man DVD.  It was listed as a guilty pleasure, but it was a favorable review nonetheless.  That's cool.  I scanned the rest of the pyramid and at the top (sustenance: 6-11 servings) I found Y: The Last Man.  A comic book.

So what's the point?  Why did I waste your time and mine writing all this stuff?  Because a mainstream women's magazine is recommending comic books!

Now, we know that there's plenty of girls who read comics, but a lot of folks still see it as a male-dominated medium... which, admittedly, it is. But it's getting better and more and more books are coming out that are aimed at a female audience (though there's still not nearly enough).  But it's not simply the notion of women reading comics that got me so geeked.

The thing that got me so excited was that I wasn't reading some hipster magazine or a self-published geek 'zine or somebody's blog.  I was reading Marie Claire.  My older sisters, who have never picked up a comic in their life, read this magazine.  Your wife or girlfriend, who might think of comics as your silly little hobby read this magazine.  In short: girls who aren't geeks read this magazine, and it's telling them to pick up a comic book.  That's cool.

Now, we've still got a long way to go.  There's still that problem of the older generation, but you know what?  They're all gonna die someday.  I'm not wishing for bad luck to befall anyone's mom or dad, and I don't want you to think that I'm sitting in front of a computer screen salivating at the prospect of the day when all the baby boomers and members of "the greatest generation" are all in the ground... I'm just saying that by the time our kids are adults, it will not be a question: Comics books will be accepted as art.

Not on the way to acceptance.  We'll be there.  We won't have to deal with all these stupid headlines that say "Comics: Not Just For Kids!" whenever a magazine or newspaper wants to do an article about an adult comic book, because that will be common knowledge to everyone, just as it is to those of us "in the know".  For some reason, seeing this tiny blurb in a magazine really hammered that point home to me... and it made me feel really good.  

Tags: comics, miscellaneous, rex

Silverhawks Volume One - DVD Review

10/9/2008 7:22:41 AM permalink

In the hierarchy of 80’s cartoons, none can dispute the “holy trinity” of He-Man, G.I. Joe and Transformers. However, there were a few others that aspired to reach the lofty heights of these three masterpieces. Among them was a team of space faring cybernetic law enforcers known as The Silverhawks.

Silverhawks was created by Rankin/Bass as a follow up to their previous series, Thundercats, and there are quite a few similarities between the shows, including the majority of the voice actors. There’s a little more sci-fi and a little less fantasy in this series, but overall, it’s pretty obvious the same hands were at work in both shows. Which is great, as Thundercats were pretty freakin’ awesome.

Silverhawks are pretty awesome too. The show is essentially a 29th century cops n’ robbers program that pits a team of flying heroes with cybernetic enhancements against the threat of Mon*Star and his ruthless gang of thugs. Mon*Star is your classic gangster, except for the fact that he flies through space on a giant squid equipped with laser guns and he’s got metal spikes sticking out of his head. His gang consists of a little troll named Hardware (the weapons expert), a giant robot minotaur named Mumbo Jumbo (the muscle), an environmental terrorist named Windhammer, who can manipulate the weather with a giant tuning fork, a shapeshifter named Mo-Lec-U-Lar (who looks a bit like an evil version of the grapes from the Fruit of the Loom commercials) and a punk rock chick named Melodia who uses a keytar that shoots lasers. Yup, they’re just your average, everyday mobsters.

Did I mention everyone can breathe in outer space? Apparently, the Limbo Galaxy, where the show takes place, has some sort of atmosphere, because people in space tend to fall downward relative to whatever vehicle or platform from which they lost their footing. If you’re looking for realism, look elsewhere. On the other hand, if you’re looking for robot birds and spaceships that look like cars from the 1940’s, Silverhawks is your show!

Anyway, back to the forces of good and the stars of the show: The Silverhawks. Basically, they’re a bunch of sweet-looking flying cyborgs with names that are somehow related to metal. Quicksilver, the Copper Kid and the twins: Steelheart and Steelwill. Oh, and the pilot is a cowboy named Bluegrass who, similar to the evil Melodia, uses a laser-firing guitar. This is the kind of awesomeness our descendants have to look forward to and as I watched this show, I found myself cursing the fact that I was born nine centuries too early.

I suppose I should talk about quality at some point. Is it any good? Yeah, it actually is. Being a children’s program, it’s not the type of series that’s likely to inspire any deep conversations about the nature of good and evil or the possibilities of technological advances we might see in the future, but it is a lot of fun. If you grew up with the series and you’re wondering how it holds up, I will attest to the fact that it’s a whole lot more enjoyable than those G.I. Joe DVDs you bought a few years back.

The #1 thing about Silverhawks that I found really cool was the character designs. Sure, the plots are simple, but they’re not made for adults. But I defy any adult to find a cartoon with cooler looking characters! Practically every character on this show looks totally awesome, and with the exception of the lady with the keytar, it really doesn’t look dated at all. I think you could show this to a kid today and they probably wouldn’t even realize it was over 20 years old, as long as they didn’t hear the theme song.

The 4 disc set features 32 episodes. That’s over 11 hours of action! In addition, there’s a little featurette called Partly Metal, Partly Real: Remembering Silverhawks. It’s a nice program that recalls the origins of the series and features interviews with the producers and voice actors, who still look back on the show fondly. As well they should.

Silverhawks may not be remembered by quite as many people as the aforementioned “holy trinity”, but that doesn’t mean it’s any less good. As a matter of fact, it’s probably better and at the very least, it looks cool as hell. If you’re a parent looking for a slice of nostalgia that you can enjoy with your kids, you could do a lot worse than picking up a copy of Silverhawks Volume One

The DVD will be released next Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Tags: review, dvd

That Costume Kicks Ass!

10/7/2008 12:13:15 PM permalink

I talked about it a bit in my last post, but since some new pictures made their way online this week, I figured I'd mention it again - I think the costume from the Kick Ass movie kicks ass!
There's been a number of different approaches to superhero costumes over the years: from Christopher Reeve's basic by-the-numbers Superman suit to the Burton Batman fake muscles to the X-Men's leather jumpsuits.  I for one am ready for a throwback to ye olden days, a simple cloth costume that actually looks the way the character in the comic looks.
Now don't get me wrong, I'm all in favor of a few changes when it comes to superhero flicks.  I understand that sometimes a costume that looks awesome on the printed page might not translate well to the big screen.  When Tim Burton's Batman came out in '89, the fake muscle approach was new and I think it worked really well in it's day.  It enabled a smaller actor to look a little more imposing.  The same basic approach was used in the Flash TV show and I was in favor of that as well.
When the 90's rolled around and the X-Men wore a uniform style of leather jacket and pants, I was fine with that too.  The explanation the studios gave was that they had attempted to do a more literal translation, but it just looked like Power Rangers.  Okay, that's fair.  Who knows how Wolverine's mask would've looked on a real guy?  And at that time (after the last Bat-Fiasco), superhero movies were still a bit untested.  Taking them out of tights was a logical choice.
There's been a few other approaches... I thought Daredevil's suit looked fantastic - it had the same basic look as the comics, but it felt more realistic to me.  Like the type of costume that could actually function in the real world.  In the most recent Spider-Man and Superman movies they're wearing something a little closer to a traditional superhero suit: tights, but with sort of a slick scuba look to them.  I've got no complaint with these suits either, though in all honesty, I don't have a problem with the 70's film incarnations of Superman or Spider-Man either.
The Incredible Hulk's been all-CGI in his last two incarnations and that seems to have been met with mixed reviews.  I tend to think that a bodybuilder in green paint would look a little goofy in 2008, and while a CGI monster might not look totally realistic... well, a big green guy smashing tanks isn't too realistic anyway.  What more do you want from them?  Chris Nolan has taken the body armor approach to another level with his Batman flicks and once again it works well.  It fits the character and adds a realistic touch.  But I gotta tell ya... as cool as Batman looked in The Dark Knight, I'd LOVE to see a really well done version of the real Batsuit as it looks in the comics.
Which is why Kick Ass really appeals to me.  I think it's really refreshing to see this "all-new yet totally old school" approach.  No leather, no body armor, just a guy in a cloth costume.  Like an Alex Ross painting, it's the way a superhero really would look in the real world.
I'm not saying that every superhero movie from here on out should follow Kick Ass' example.  I have a very "to each their own" approach when it comes to these films.  What might look great for the X-Men might look terrible for Green Arrow and so on...  I'm not calling for a return to basics for all future tights n' fights movies; I'm just applauding Kick Ass for breaking from recent tradition with their costume design.

Of course, we'll have to wait and see how it really looks.  A few pictures don't really give us the full picture, so to speak.  The true test will be on opening day.  I'll be there.

Tags: movies, comics

You've Got Your Mania in My Comics2Film!

10/4/2008 5:40:40 PM permalink

Okay, so this is my first blog entry since the big C2F/Mania shake up.

To the loyal Comics2Film readers - Welcome to the new site and thank you for following us here!  It's a pretty big change, and it'll take some getting used to, but I'm up to the task and I hope you are too.  I noticed a few of you asking where the C2F blogs were and mentioning me in particular - you have no idea how good that makes me feel and I thank you from the bottom of my heart.  Seriously, it's nice to know you're appreciated.

To the Maniacs who are unfamiliar with the Supernaut, please allow me to introduce myself: I'm a man of wealth and taste... well no, not really.  Here's how it works around here: I just throw some opinions or insights at the wall and see what sticks.  Hopefully you've got an opinion to share.  I generally don't tend to take myself too seriously, though I am very serious about my love of sequential art.

As far as I'm concerned, this is your forum just as much as it is mine: I just happen to be the guy throwing out the ideas.  I'd love to create a nice little community here.  I encourage debate and discussion and I only have one request: be nice.

Obviously, a little friendly (and even some not-so-friendly) trash talking is to be expected and it's encouraged... there's no need to take ourselves too seriously here and no need to be shrinking violets.  But one of my biggest pet peeves are the folks who leave insulting and ignorant comments or try to belittle other readers.  We're all geeks here folks: let's treat each other with respect.

That being said, if you wanna tell me I'm a dumbass, feel free to do so.  But please back it up with some facts or an honest opinion.  I'm always impressed by the guy or girl who can make me change my mind or see things from a different point of view.

So without further ado, how 'bout I throw some crap at the wall and see what sticks?

* Have you guys seen the pictures from the Kick-Ass movie?  The ones that show the costume?  Hey, I'll be the first to admit that the suit looks a little goofy, but I like it.

I love the Bat-armor and I think the X-Men really do look sweet in their leather jumpsuits, but I think it's about time we saw a superhero on the big screen in tights.  And I'm not talkin' about the "easy to CGI" weird looking tights that Spidey and Superman are wearing in their latest film incarnations, I'm talking about cloth costumes ala' the Adam West Batman or the live-action Spidey from the 70's and it looks like that's what this guy is wearing.  I've had enough plastic/leather.  Give me real Jazzercise-lookin' tights!

* Any thoughts on Supermax?  I think the idea of a Green Arrow-in-prison movie is awesome.  Not every superhero flick needs to be an origin story and I think this concept suits Oliver Queen quite well.

And if the Green Lantern movie really is on-track, then Ollie's time spent in the slammer could be used as the impetus which leads to his bleedin' heart liberal politics... and could be a nice set-up for a Green Lantern/Green Arrow movie!  (and for the record, I'm a bleedin' heart liberal myself, so don't take that last line as an insult)

* Is it cool if I call you guys 'Nautomaniacs now?  I've been a HUGE fan of pro wrestling since the 80's, and since C2F was bought by and the Mania readers are referred to as "maniacs"... well, it seems appropriate and would be really cool if I could say stuff like "Watcha gonna do when 100,000 'Nautomaniacs run wild all over you?!?!" 

... not that 100,000 people will actually be reading this, but a boy can dream, right?

* Have you read my other posts?  'Cause now would be a good time to do that... there's a lot, but it's the weekend, so it's not like you've got anything better to do, right?  And we're geeks - you can't just start in the middle, you gotta go back to issue #1.  Continuity, baby... continuity.  For all you know, I might be the Earth-2 Supernaut, who replaced your earth's Supernaut last year - and you'd never know because you've never been to!  Now is the time!  I'm not reprinting these things in a handy black-and-white easy-to-afford Showcase volume, folks!

And while you're at it, check out the rest of the C2F bloggers.  Savage Henry Lee and The Xenos are the guys who're posting the most (and they're both awesome), but every once in a while Black Machismo's Gamma Blog is up and running and there's a rumor that The Superfist will be returning soon.

* That's all I've got for now.  I'll be back in a day or two and I'll have more ideas for you.  You'll have things you'll want to talk about... and I will too.

Tags: movies, comics, rasslin business

Postponing The Return of Steve Rogers

9/28/2008 11:24:46 PM permalink

Just got done reading Captain America #42 and I thought I'd throw a few thoughts out there to get a little discussion going if I could. I hope everybody isn't sick of talking about Captain America just yet... Now, I'm a big Captain America fan. When handled by competant writers, he is (in my opinion) one of the greatest superhero characters around. An all-around classic and a cornerstone of the Marvel Universe. So it might sound a bit odd, but... I'm really not looking forward to the return of Steve Rogers. Not that Marvel has hinted at it in any way shape or form. But at this point, as of this writing: I don't see any need for it. Yeah, it's blasphemy: I'm a big Cap fan and I don't want to see the real Cap back in action. I know, I know. I know just what you're gonna say. "Steve Rogers is Captain America. Has been since 1940-whatever. Anyone else is just an imposter. Clearly you're NOT a true fan of Captain America. It's not the costume, it's the person who defines Captain America." Yup. Heard it all before. Hell, I've been the guy saying it. But are you reading Captain America? Bucky Barnes has really come into his own lately. Is he Captain America? Well, no. By most folks' standards, he's just a johnny-come-lately retcon pretender to the throne. But is George Washington the Spirit of the United States of America? Is Benjamin Franklin? Is John F. Kennedy? Is George W. Bush? Is David Koresh? What the hell are you talking about, Supernaut? I don't know. It's late and I've had a few beers. Look, times will change and heroes will change with the times. Don't worry, True Believers - your old buddy Steve Rogers will be back sooner or later. But for now, let's enjoy the ride. I'm in no hurry to see Steve Rogers return because Ed Brubaker has got me on pins and needles waiting for the next issue of Captain America every single month. And every single month, upon reading the current issue, you can bet I'm running over to talk to fellow C2F blogger Black Machismo... "Did you read the latest Cap?" The book is good. Damn good. And it's been that good for a while now without Steve Rogers. Now let's get into the whys and wherefores. For one thing, they did an autopsy and they tossed Steve Rogers' body into the ocean. So from that perspective, I don't know how the hell they're gonna bring him back. Skrull? God, I hope not. That would be a terrible way to resolve the story and a massive cop-out. Will the Cap of the 40's (from the Invaders/Avengers mini) stick around? Another cop-out. Plus (sorry to get all geeky) - it would set up a ridiculous time loop problem... if Cap from the 40's stays in the 00's, then it means he never got frozen, never got unfrozen, never joined the Avengers,etc. Lame. What I'm saying is: I don't even know how they'd bring him back. I'm sure there's an out. I'm sure Joe Quesada wouldn't have approved Ed Brubaker's plans to kill Steve Rogers unless he had a plan to bring him back... but those guys are obviously way smarter than me, 'cause I can't figure out how to do it. But I also don't see a reason why. (Yeah, I did have a point)... I really dig Bucky Barnes in the suit. To me, it harkens back to ye olden days of Cap but with a modern twist (not YE olden days; but rather, the 1960s). We've got a guy from a bygone era trapped in a world he can't quite understand - wracked by guilt over the sins of his past, trying to live up to a costume he knows he's not fit to wear. Some of the details are different, but that sure sounds like Captain America to me. With the whole Red Skull/Dr. Faustus/Arim Zola/Third Wing storyline resolved (more-or-less), I can't wait to see the continuing adventures of Bucky Barnes as the new Captain America! I can't wait to see how he deals with Nick Fury, the Avengers, Tony Stark, Spider-Man... all of this stuff has been touched on briefly, but it hasn't really been delved into yet. There's a whole lot of story waiting to be told. I hope Brubaker's at the helm and if not, I hope Marvel finds someone else suitable to carry on. This topic is old hat and I don't need to say it but I will anyway. Steve Rogers will be back because Steve Rogers has to be back. Okay, we've got that out of the way. Let's move on. I know that with a movie on the way, odds are good that Mr. Rogers' return will coincide with Cap's appearance on the big screen, but I honestly hope not. I think this death should be handled the same way as Barry Allen. Give it time. Let it sink it. Let us mourn him and make this death really mean something - don't make Steve Rogers the next Jean Grey. This storyline has really shown the fans and the fictional characters in the Marvel U just how important Steve Rogers really is. Don't do the story or the character a disservice by bringing him back too soon. And for the love of god, don't stop giving us Bucky Barnes as Cap! I think the guy is even more interesting than Steve Rogers. Let's get back to that whole notion of bygone eras and modern twists... and while we're at it, let's set up some kind of scoring system. Okay, Steve Rogers was a guy from the 40's frozen in ice, revived in the 60's (or the 70's or the 80's depending on the "Marvel Comics sliding timeline"). Same with Bucky Barnes. One point each. Steve Rogers was wracked with guilt because of his failure to save his partner. Bucky Barnes is wracked with guilt over being a brainwashed servant of evil for years. Damn, that's a lot more guilt - Bucky wins this round. Steve Rogers had a lot on his shoulders. He represented America. Bucky Barnes has a lot on his shoulders. He has to live up to the standard set by Steve Rogers. Barnes wins another round. Steve Rogers had the Super-Soldier Serum. Bucky has a mechanical arm. This round was tough, so I'll give each guy a point. Steve Rogers was a patriotic kid in the 40's who was classified 4F but ended up impressing the brass and got picked for Project: Rebirth. Bucky Barnes was a kid who figured out Captain America's secret identity when he stumbled in on Cap's dumb ass in the act of changing into costume! Barnes wins another round. Steve Rogers knows everybody and everybody respects him. Bucky Barnes has a lot to prove. Scoring for this round depends on your point of view, I guess, but I'm gonna say that for the purposes of future storylines, I gotta give it to Barnes. The underdog is always more interesting. The score is 2 to 6 in favor of Bucky Barnes. Clearly, my very scientific method has proven that Bucky Barnes is fully capable of carrying on as Captain America and providing fans with great storylines for years to come. At least, I think so. And has anybody thought about the whole "Public Domain" thing? Look - I won't pretend to understand all the legal mumbo jumbo that surrounds the whole Superman/Superboy/Siegel case, but I know that old characters like Superman and Captain America stand the chance of becoming public domain at some point in the future. Is there any chance that Marvel is putting a different guy in the suit to ensure that even if the Steve Rogers version of Cap becomes public domain, they'll still have their very own copyrighted version of the character? Seriouly... I don't mean to sound like a dumbass, and I'll freely admit that I don't understand all that business (I try to read it but fall asleep about three paragraphs in). So if I'm severely misunderstanding any of this, I'd love to have it put into layman's terms... But has this side of the story been considered at all? Could this be the real reason we've got a new Cap? Aaaaahh... I'm just rambling now. It's late and it's time for bed. At any rate, I know that eventually Steve Rogers will probably be back under the mask, carrying the shield. I'll be there with open arms to embrace him upon his return. But for the time being, I hope that all of the folks who think that there's only one guy who can wear that suit will give the new guy another chance. I have a feeling you'll be surprised.

Tags: comics

On The Fence About the Green Hornet Movie

9/25/2008 2:29:32 PM permalink

I'm still undecided in regards to the upcoming Green Hornet movie. Seth Rogan and Evan Goldberg are writing it, so I feel comfortable with the notion that the movie will be very funny... but I'm not really sure I'm comfortable with The Green Hornet being a comedy. Everybody knows who Seth Rogan is. I think the guy's really funny, though I have to admit I'm getting a little tired of his lovable loser routine. But I don't really see him in a dramatic role anytime soon, so lovable loser it is. Nothin' wrong with that. He's writing the script and he's a good writer, so that's cool too. Evan Goldberg? Worked on The Pinapple Express, Superbad and Da Ali G Show. Funny? Sure. No worries there either. He's co-writing the script. Can't say that I'm familiar with Steven Chow, but people seemed to get excited when he signed on to direct and play Kato, so I'll assume he's cool too. I think the idea of a superhero dealing with the fact that his sidekick is more famous than the hero himself is absolutely brilliant, and there is no character more perfectly suited to this type of story than The Green Hornet. Older fans and geek historians will probably remember the old tv show from the 60's starring Bruce Lee as Kato and some other guy as The Green Hornet. It's a perfect idea. So what we're looking at is a group of fan favorites with a really original concept making what will undoubtedly be a very funny superhero movie... so what am I complaining about? I'm not really complaining, it's just that I dig The Green Hornet. I think he's a really cool character: basically a modern day version of The Lone Ranger. In fact, when The Green Hornet was originally created, he was actually written as The Lone Ranger's grand-nephew! This aspect has been downplayed since the 1950's when The Ranger was bought by another company, but the fact remains that The Green Hornet is a blood relative of The Lone Ranger. That's freakin' cool. Anyway, I might be in the minority here, but I'd actually like to see a serious movie version of The Green Hornet. It could be set in the 30's or 40's or updated for modern audiences - doesn't matter. I think it would be really sweet. That's really my only point here. I'd like to see the character handled seriously and this movie is squashing any chance of that. Would a big budgeted action version of The Green Hornet actually work? Well, probably not. The mainstream audience would probably say "The Green Who?!?" and the film would be a huge flop. It's not like the public is clamoring for a Green Hornet movie; most folks probably don't even know who he is. The Rogan/Goldberg team will undoubtedly drum up interest and the moviegoers will flock to the theaters to see their latest effort. Maybe with any luck, there will be a renewed interest in the Green Hornet and we'll see some more traditional stories featuring the character. But it's not like we're talking about Batman here. This is The Green Hornet, a character that only grandpas and the handful of people who read the NOW comic from the 90's even remember. Batman is so iconic, he was able to survive a campy interpretation and come out better and more badass. Hell, I bet even the folks who absolutely hated the old Batman tv show can look back on it fondly now. But can the Green Hornet survive such a drastic retooling? Will anyone ever take the character seriously ever again after this movie? Does anyone other than me actually care? Well, the worst that will happen is that we'll get a really funny superhero movie, and a nearly forgotten character will get a few more moments in the limelight. I guess that's really not so bad. In related news, did anybody read that news about Johnny Depp being cast as Tonto in the upcoming Lone Ranger movie? In a weird case of art imitating life, the sidekick will upstage the hero yet again... in a movie about the ancestor of the other hero who's sidekick upstaged him in a tv show. Wait, is that right? The hero who is the ancestor of the guy who's sidekick upstaged him on a tv show is going to be in a movie where he will be upstaged by his sidekick, Johnny Depp. Yeah... yeah, that's right. Right?

Tags: movies, comics

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Date Joined: June 15, 2007