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In your CGI tights/fighting for your rights.

§ December 28th, 2020 § Filed under movie reviews, wonder woman § 30 Comments

As I’m sure you’re probably aware, the new Wonder Woman film, AKA WW1984, has been released for home streaming for HBO Max subscribers (along with a limited theatrical release). While I did end up watching the movie, I hadn’t really planned on doing any kind of extended discussion/review here, but in response to some of my tweetery on the topic, someone noted they’d wait for my Spoiler Discussion Zone…so, what the hey, here you go. Opinions seem to be pretty varied (from the more rational commentators, not counting the “g-g-g-irls!?” or “I hate all DC movies!” reactions from usual suspects who, from all appearances, may not have even seen the film in the first place), so I’d be curious what my readers here have to say.

My spoiler-free review…perfectly acceptable superhero film, though one wishes the Wonder Woman action was spread a little more evenly throughout the film, rather than primarily at the beginning and end. Generally light and optimistic in tone, with a resolution to the main conflict that manages to escape the slugfest/”giant thing exploding” solutions upon which most special effects epics (including the previous Wonder Woman film) tend to rely.

Okay, SPOILERS AHOY between these two screenshots I pulled from the trailer, and in the comments section to follow, so avert your eyes if you don’t want to know that Ares’ mustache survived the first film and has returned to exact vengeance upon the Amazons:

Okay, like I said, I didn’t watch the film with plans to write about it here, so here are just a few comments on what I saw.

The most impressive thing about the movie, as I alluded to above, is that it wasn’t Wonder Woman beating the tar out of Maxwell Lord. If you wanted your superhero vs. supervillain punchout, you got it the CGI-riffic Cheetah fight just prior (and you can tell how much confidence filmmakers have in a particular CGI effect based on how dark the lighting is), but Diana speaking to Lord (and through him, the world) trying to talk everyone down and renouncing their wishes…that was far more satisfying than having, I don’t know, Lord’s building exploding or whatever.

Also, that Lord’s apparent punishment at the end of the film is not being exploded along with a building, or dying in regret, or whatever the usual fate is for a bad guy. Instead, he begs forgiveness from his young son, openly admitting to him his failures. It’s an emotional punishment, and a hopeful one for a better future for the both of them.

Another nice nod to the comics was Lord occasionally dabbing at a bleeding nose after using his wish-granting powers (as comics Lord would do after psychically “pushing” someone). Yes, I know the ghost of Dr. Polite Scott would have some words about this (mostly along the lines of “brain trauma much”) but it was still a “hey, I remember that!” moment.

Speaking of character resolutions, I don’t recall seeing a post-Cheetah transformation Barbara at the end of the story. Did I miss her? I feel like she’d be the one with the most to resolve emotionally post-battle, trying to reconcile who she was with what she’d become once she had some power in her hands.

And so long as we’re at the end of the movie…literally the very second the “missing Amazon” was mentioned earlier in the story, I knew 1) who was going to play her, and 2) who the post or mid-credits scene would feature. I won’t note it here, just in case you haven’t seen the flick and are trying to spoil it for yourself by reading these comments…but c’mon, it doesn’t take a genius to guess just who I’m talkin’ about. Don’t know if this is just a nod to fans or if she’ll actually take part in the next film…frankly, I think just making it a one-off thing is fine. It was cutre, and I was glad to see it.

Some folks wondered about the 1980s setting, and I’m guessing a big part is the whole business involving the actual President of the United States may have been a big part of it. Having this as a period piece with an only sorta half-convincing Ronald Reagan, and playing on his Cold War involvement) probably goes over easier than a modern day film featuring a Trump impersonator (which would have been distracting and divisive no matter how he was portrayed) or the usual gambit of Old White Guy As A Fictional President (which may have taken folks out of a story about magical wishes and a strong lady in a star-spangled outfit). Also, can you imagine the opening mall fight in modern times? She wouldn’t have bothered having to take out the security cameras, because who was going to see her?

Plus, if we’re still pretending there’s a DC Comics Cinematic Universe, putting it in 1984 gets around the whole “where are Superman and Batman?” question. Okay, maybe it doesn’t avoid the “where’s the Challengers of the Unknown/Crimson Avenger/Doctor Occult/Scribbly” question, but…all right, you got me, I don’t really have a point here, I just wanted to namedrop Scribbly.

One thing I kept waiting for…look, it’s nice to have Chris Pine back as Steve Trevor. I liked him as Steve Trevor, a character in the comics that’s had a…mixed history, shall we say. And a character in the comics where, for years, was kind of a running gag in that he’d kept being killed off/written out and then brought back again. I presume that kinda went away when George Perez revamped the title in the ’80s, but I haven’t kept up lately and kind of hope they’ve reestablished that trope. Just aint’ Steve Trevor unless he keeps getting removed ‘n’ revived every few years.

Anyhoo, having Diana wish him back into existence is…well, it’s certainly a way to get him back. And it brings a bit of personal sacrifice into having to renounce her wish in order to save the day. (There’s a whole bit of business about a cost to getting one’s wishes granted…in this case, Diana’s wish for the return of Steve seemed to reduce her superpowered abilities, but Barbara’s wish to be like Diana also was implied to have taken her powers? I wasn’t clear on that, maybe I missed something.) But Steve is brought back, Deadman-style, possessing another dude’s body…which is barely addressed by anybody in the film. I mean, there are jokes about his apartment, but not a whole lot about “we’re totally hijacking this poor dude’s life here.” So that was all a bit uncomfortable. I do like that Steve departing that fella’s body was left offscreen once Diana renounced her wish.

I hope they find a way to bring Steve back for the third film. And in every film thereafter, as long as they’re making these. Just a different wild way every single time.

And while we’re on the topic of characters from the first movie…yes, that was definitely an old Etta Candy in that photo in Diana’s apartment, confirmed by Lucy “Etta” Davis her own self. I think few people would deny Etta was a real highlight of that movie, a delightful character that, in the comics, did not have the most dignified of origins. (“Ate A Candy,” indeed…geez louise.)

And one more thing about the conclusion of the film…while everyone’s wishes were renounced and undone, it’s made pretty clear a giant reset button wasn’t necessarily pushed, putting everyone and everything back to how it was. The wishes were granted, things happened, then suddenly things…didn’t exactly unhappen, but mostly just stopped happening. Yes, the woman who was wished dead came back to life, that was just straight up undone, but it’s not like the U.S. and Russia didn’t launch missiles at each other, whether or not those missiles disappeared. Seems like there are still consequences of those wishes existing in the world as left at the end of the story. That’s the main sticking point in the redemption of Maxwell Lord…he still screwed things up for everyone good ‘n’ proper.

Oh, and Simon Stagg is a character in the movie. Unlike his CW TV counterpart (killed off in Green Arrow or something) he survived, so there’s still hope for a big-budget Metamorpho movie. Don’t say you wouldn’t want to see this. DON’T YOU LIE TO ME.

And I’m sure I’m forgetting something, but I’ll let you folks in the comments remind me, as I’m sure you will!

…And can you believe how the Robot Kanga army took out Angle Man? Brutal.

Those were just a few thoughts I had…I may follow up in a future post if you folks remind me of anything (or if I see the movie again, which I may soon, since it’s leaving HBO Max in a month). And speaking of the future, please sign my petition to have the next Wonder Woman movie take place in the year 2050, just to mess with people. Also, the villain should be Doctor Psycho. Specifically, the version in the Harley Quinn cartoon. Ol’ WW giving a foul-mouthed misogynist what-for…it’s what he world needs.

I didn’t forget about The Losers, just didn’t have anything to say about it.

§ December 2nd, 2020 § Filed under movie reviews § 26 Comments

Okay, on to the DC Comics films. But first, Thom reminds me that I forgot Into the Spider-Verse, which really is a fantastic film and quite possibly the best of the bunch.

Also, if folks want to leave long ol’ comments on my posts, that’s fine with me! So long as they’re reasonably on-topic, y’know? And everyone has been lately…haven’t had epic-length disturbed rants show up in quite a while. I mean, c’mon, leave those to me.

So, DC Comics movies. Hm. I’d been thinking about how I was going to approach this topic, since there’s definitely a shift in filmmaking between the Christopher Reeve Superman films and, like, Birds of Prey, and my initial instinct is to split them up into different “ages” but, sheesh, that would be too confusing, what industry would do something like that?

The elephant in the room is the Snyder-verse films Man of Steel, Batman V Superman, Justice League, which are pretty divisive among fans. Personally, I generally like them, though I can completely understand why people wouldn’t. The dark tone, the odd choices (jar of urine in my superhero movie? sure, load it up) adding up to productions that seem like the exact opposite of what the characters are about. Well, okay, maybe not Batman, but surely Superman should be bright and cheerful and Henry Cavill has such a winning smile it’s a shame it was barely used.

But I did enjoy this more somber rendition of the characters, while realizing, yeah, maybe a lighter touch might have been more appropriate. So, mixed feelings on these, but generally positive. And I’ve noted that Justice League, while having some of the tone problems of the other pictures, I thought was successful in being a bit more of a cheery adventure. With grave-robbing, sure, and the buckets of “we gotta get that Avengers money” flopsweat, but it was all in good fun. And I have to say, my favorite scene in any modern DC superhero movie is still that fight sequence between a newly revived Superman and the rest of the heroes (particularly as he “slowly” becomes aware of the Flash).

The Snyder-verse-adjacent flicks, Wonder Woman and Aquaman, were more to everyone’s tastes, I’d imagine. Certainly lighter in tone, well, aside from the whole “World War I” thing in WW, but seemed to be more crowd-pleasing than their dour brethren. Of all the films, Aquaman was the one that felt the most Marvel-like, extremely jokey and high in the “we’re having a good time here!” energy. But that was the film, I’ve said before, where I felt like I was seeing the seams in superhero movie-making, where every point felt predictable, every reveal unsurprising. I don’t know, not saying it wasn’t likeable, and that the actors weren’t all watchable and entertaining. Maybe it was just my mood that day, but for whatever reason this film felt more like “product” than the others, like something specifically constructed to get after some of that Marvel money. Maybe I’ll need to rewatch it at some point and see if my opinion improves.

Okay, this is going to go on forever if I keep up all this typing. So:

Shazam – good, still don’t like the Billy/Captain Marvel relationship has been altered to “Tom Hanks in Big” status, but that’s how it is now and I have to live with it. Also hate he’s called “Shazam” now, because I’m a nerd. Anyway, Shazam’s characterization put me off, but I get it’s the “has to learn to be a hero” trope and that’s just how it’s done.

All the Batman movies – the 1966 one is a favorite because Adam West is Best Batman, of course. The Keaton-etc. films were an exercise in diminishing returns, with Keaton’s performances elevating the first two, along with the Tim Burton weirdness. The fourth is goofy fun, brightly colored and very silly and enjoyable on those terms.

The Nolan films may have been better as a duology, but then we wouldn’t have had a million impressions of Bane from the third film, which is just straight-up comedy gold. I remember when the first one had trailers in theaters, folks groaned when they realized it was a Batman film, as the previous movie Batman and Robin was still fresh in everyone’s minds. But that film turned out good (actually convincing you “well, of course he had to dress up as a bat”), but I think the second one is the best. Heath Ledger’s performance as the Joker is one for the ages, and it’s a film about moral ambiguity and moral choices and it’s all amazingly effective.

Of the Reeve Super-films, the first is of course the best…I know people like the second one quite a bit, and it is fun, but I don’t think it’s as…well, well-made as the first. Third is fun and goofy, and the fourth is an abomination. Reeve is great in them all, of course, but I wish he was surrounded by better material. Definitely classic scenes in those first two films, combined with some inexplicable ones (levitate-people-with-your-finger-beam power, Superman’s magic chest-emblem cellophane net).

And there are a few others: Superman Returns, in which Brandon Routh is great, but everything’s too mired in trying to be the Reeve film. Birds of Prey, a fine, and funny, adventure romp which gives Margot Robbie’s Harley Quinn a proper venue. Constantine, which turned out a lot better than it had any reason to be, despite not quite getting the title character right (I mean, beyond the hair and accent). Watchmen, which I adore but recognize it falls apart the farther away it gets from the original plot…great cast, though. Catwoman, which almost seems like it might be okay, at first, but it’s all lies.

And there are others, but let’s get this down to “worst” and “best” so we can all move on with our lives.

WORST is definitely Superman IV, and I say this even though I couldn’t even finish Supergirl. Supergirl at least had the charm of Helen Slater. Superman IV looks like, if I can borrow a phrase from Mystery Science Theater 3000, everyone’s last known photo. It’s cheap looking, it’s unpleasant, it’s made by people who seemingly had contempt for the material. I know Reeve cowrote it or plotted it or something, but it’s dire.

I want to plug Jonah Hex in here too, but folks are rewatching it and finding new entertainment in it, and I’d like to see it again before it vanishes. Suicide Squad wasn’t great, but it had good performances (Will Smith, the aforementioned Robbie) so it may live.

BEST is…well, I think Joker is actually the best-made of the bunch. It holds together as a story, the deterioration of the main character is tragically fascinating, and it just plain looks great. I understand the qualms one could have with it, but maybe that’s part of what makes it so fascinating.

But I think I’d watch The Dark Knight before I’d see Joker again. It’s more fun and a little easier to take. And it’s a little thought-provoking as well, which I appreciate from my funnybook movies.

Now, like I did with the Spider-Verse movie, I left out the animated feature films (and I’ve seen them all!). And I still want to say Return of Swamp Thing is my favorite. Do any of these other movies have Swamp Thing driving a jeep with Heather Locklear? I submit to you, dear reader, that no they do not.

Yes, I know Howard was in the second one, too.

§ November 30th, 2020 § Filed under movie reviews § 12 Comments

So there’s been a little back-and-forth about superhero movies in Friday’s comments section (along with some now deleted reactions from folks upset about…socialism, I guess?), and while I think we can all agree what the best superhero film is, I just wanted to put in my two cents. And conveniently, this is my blog, so I can do so.

I’ve seen in the past some comments about how there’s a “sameness” to the Marvel Universe movies, and as has been noted, surely that’s by design. It’s brand-building…you go to a Marvel movie, you know what you’re going to get. Not really any different from Marvel the Publisher having a “house style,” really. Does this prevent the studio from reaching any “highs” by a purposeful maintenance of a consistent level of expression? Not necessarily, no more than Marvel’s “house style” kept Gerber’s Howard the Duck from happening.

I don’t know what would be the “Howard the Duck” of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, aside from the first Guardians of the Galaxy movie, which was 1) a really out-there move for the studio, and 2) literally had Howard the Duck in it. Other than that, I’d say the films that stretched the formula the most would be the Deadpool films (which weren’t under the main Marvel Studios room at the time), and possibly Logan (see previous parenthetical note).

“Yes, yes, but were any of these any good?” I think Marvel’s done a good job, he said about the company that’s raked in billions at the box office, building that brand and making each of their films a must-attend event for the fans, just so you can keep up with what’s going on and be properly informed for the next installment. And yeah, I realize that’s probably a thing that makes film purists wince, and I probably can’t blame them, but I honestly don’t see anything wrong with what’s basically big budget movie serials, looking at the nine movies of Star Wars and saying “oh yeah, here’s twenty and counting!”

Okay, okay, the first Guardians of the Galaxy is probably my favorite, with Thor: Ragnarok a close second. Avengers: Age of Ultron was my least favorite, at least upon initial viewing, but I find that occasionally catching a few minutes of it here and there as it’s rerun on TV or as the nieces and nephews watch it on Disney+ has made me a little more forgiving of it. Perhaps that’s the best way to watch it…snippets at a time, and not necessarily in order.

Of course, special mention must be made of Iron Man, which took a second-or-third stringer character published by Marvel, and, despite a lot of fans thinking “Iron Man? Really?” gave us a solid film. Solid enough to kick off one of, if not the biggest, moneymaking things ever.

Outside of the mainline “Avengers-verse” Marvel films, I think my favorites may be…well, surprisingly, the Deadpool films. I say “surprisingly” because I’ve been mostly indifferent to the character’s comics. But the movies are a refreshing mockery of your standard superhero movie nonsense, and frankly I’m shocked they even still use the “superhero landing pose” after one of the Deadpool movies pretty well demolished it.

Also, I think I’ve mentioned here that I saw the first one in a “4-D” theater, where the seats moved around in relation to the film’s action, and lights flashed at you and you occasionally got air blown in your face or whatever, and that’s pretty much the only way one should see a Deadpool movie.

Outside of that…I think of the X-Men films, the first one is still my favorite, Storm’s “frog hit by lightning” dialogue and all, if maybe only because I can still feel the amazement that they actually managed to make a halfway decent X-Men movie. And the Wolverine movies are all fun, and Logan was a real achievement. Dark Phoenix, the last film, was…not great, and given their attempts at trying to glue together the initial X-Men films with the First Class continuity, you essentially have Jean become Dark Phoenix twice and hoo boy that seems weird to me.

The many and varied Spider-Man films, prior to Disney getting involved, are…mostly good, I think. I like the Raimi movies a lot more than the two “reboots” that followed (though Amazing had Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, which ain’t nothin’ to sneeze at). Spider-Man 3 had “Evil Peter Parker,” which may be the greatest cinematic Spider-moment of all time, and if you don’t agree, I’ll have to ask you to leave this lecture hall.

All in all, I still have a soft spot for Howard the Duck, which isn’t part of the modern wave of Marvel movies, but I saw that on opening night in a theater with a small handful of other people and by God I’m going to treasure that memory forever.

Okay, that’s too much typing, so I’ll hit DC next time. I may decide Return of Swamp Thing is the best DC movie, just so you’re warned.

So what I did on my Thanksgiving…

§ November 27th, 2020 § Filed under how the sausage is made, movie reviews § 16 Comments

…was not expose myself to unnecessary health risks, but stayed home, did some laundry, ate some homecooked food with my girlfriend, watched a movie, and switched over to a new desktop computer.

The “switching over to a new desktop computer” thing is what’s standing in the way of a proper update to this site here…I mean, I’m writing this post on the new computer right now, but I still have a few things to do to it to beat it into a shape I’m familiar with.

And “new” is perhaps not quite the right term…it’s a Mac Mini from 2010 which I know is half-past-dead in terms of computer lifespans, but my previous Mac Mini from 2009 was a pretty robust machine up until the CD/DVD drive decided to die out on me this week. In fact, the 2009 machine probably would have been fine to continue using as, aside from that particular mechanical failure, it was still chugging along swimmingly.

But since I had this 2010 Mac Mini here (given to me by my parents, as they upgraded to a newer machine a few years back), I just went ahead and made the switch.

It’s a stopgap measure, I realize…the last three or four Mac system software updates don’t seem to be installable on this particular Mac’s hardware configuration. And eventually, the programs I depend on will require more recent system updates. But for now, it’s fine…everything from the startup and the actual operation seems to be significantly faster, so I’m probably good for a while. Hopefully after my eyeball situation, and now my teeth situation, ha ha, come to some sort of resolution I can save up for a new home computron.

Anyway, that’s more than you probably wanted to know. Thankfully everyone’s too busy doing Black Friday stuff to read this.

Oh, and the movie I watched was Joker. Turned out the girlfriend got a year’s worth of free HBO as a promo thing from the cable company, and that comes with an HBO Max login, so I took a break from watching 50-year-old episodes of Sesame Street to watch the only DC Comics film to be nominated for a “Best Picture” Oscar. (And the second Joker portrayal to win an Oscar.)

It’s…certainly depressing. And a little horrifying. The cinematography was certainly excellent. Gotham definitely looked like a city that would need a guy who dressed like a bat to protect it someday. Watching Joaquin Phoenix play a guy who ultimately seemed doomed from the start was…affecting, worrying, and definitely appropriately cringe-y in parts. Removed from the real world concerns that surrounded its release, I’d recommend it as an interesting take on the character, but given the more social and political ramifications it feeds from, I can understand why folks would give it a pass.

I did see in an interview somewhere where (I think) the director of the film was intrigued by the idea of what kind of Batman would arise from the world created in this film, and I have to say…you know, I realize there’s no shortage of Batmanning in Hollywood, but I’d kinda like to see that too. Especially if it, like the Joker film, was told entirely from the point of view of the Joker. I mean, who wouldn’t want to see an adaptation of this series? I call dibs on playing Willie the Weeper.

(EDITED to correct my poor Oscars memories.)

“Keeping it short,” he says.

§ November 11th, 2019 § Filed under movie reviews Comments Off on “Keeping it short,” he says.

So I found myself fighting a cold most of the weekend, which is still affecting me even now, as I type this. It’s not too bad, and this is really the first time I’ve been fully under the weather with an illness since I got scared straight into living a healthier life, so I suppose I can’t complain too much.

Anyway, as such, I’m keeping this post fairly short so that I may hit the sack a little early and kinda goose the recovery along.

I did want to note that I watched the recent Hellboy reboot film, and…well, I actually kind of liked it. Not a great film, but a good and watchable one. It crams a lot of material from the comics into its two hour runtime, which makes for bit of a crowded and cluttered experience but certainly an energetic one, and it manages to keep your attention as it rushes from set piece to set piece. David Harbour makes a fine Hellboy, though there’s something about the makeup that strikes me as…off, somehow. Some element about the design that strikes me as offputting. It’s not the hair, it’s more like…the shape of the head and body feels odd to me…weirdly distended, maybe. I’m not sure. Could be I’m just used to the old makeup job.

Despite that, it’s generally fun…mostly more f-bombs and a lot more bloody than the previous films, but there’s still some humor. Like I said, a lot of stuff from the comics makes it in here,, though once you get to the whole “Hellboy is descended from King Arthur” thing, that’s almost like one revelation too many…fans of the comic might dig it, but your average moviegoer might be all “wait, that too?” Plus, comparisons to the previous films are minimized just a hair by pairing up Hellboy with two other characters from the comics aside from Liz and Abe Sapien (though the latter gets a tease for a sequel that will never come).

The special features on the disc don’t avoid the comparisons, however, and the interviewees, including Hellboy creator Mike Mignola, go on about how this film hews much closer to the source material than those other films, and how much darker than this film is than the other films, and how Hellboy’s makeup is more realistic than that in the other films, and so on. I don’t think they’re trying to put down the other films, but it occasionally comes off that way.

While overall I liked the film, I think I would have preferred a third film in the del Toro version of the series. I understand the financial reasons why they decided to opt with a new film rather than continuing the “old,” but as it turns out, given the success or lack thereof of this flick, they might as well have continued the original films. Ah well.

But this movie did have Thomas Haden Church as Lobster Johnson, so by that standard the reboot has a leg up on the original film franchise.

I miss Bibbo.

§ August 27th, 2018 § Filed under death of superman, movie reviews § 6 Comments

Bibbo is, of course, the rough-hewn but good-hearted sailor who turns up in the Superman family of books shortly after the Byrne reboot in the mid-1980s. He was a semi-regular member of the supporting cast for quite a while, though his funnybook appearances have declined to a far more sporadic occurrence of late. However, he’s made it into DC’s newest attempt at adapting the “Death of Superman” to animation, in the aptly-named DVD/Blu-ray/digital release The Death of Superman.

Now, as compared to the original animated movie (discussed on this very website a mind-staggering eleven years ago), it hews much closer to the original comics, though seen through the lens of DC’s semi-New 52-ish continuity they’ve been painting onto these direct-to-home-video releases over the last few years. And this is probably the closest we’re going to get to whatever the New 52/Rebirth version of “Death of Superman” is, as it apparently existed in the new continuity (and was referenced in this interminable storyline that I don’t remember anything about aside from the terrible cover designs). Of course, now with the merging of the post-Byrne/pre-Flashpoint Superman with the New 52/Rebirth continuity, the original “Death of Superman” story is probably back in play, more or less, and…ugh, look, don’t get me started.

Anyway, this new cartoon corrects the main error of the original cartoon adaptation, in that Superman dies (um, SPOILER?) and is just straight up gone until the next movie eventually rolls around sometime in 2019, as opposed to his being gone for a few minutes in that first cartoon and then popping back up again. So yes, there will be at least the real world illusion of Superman being “gone” as we all patiently await the sequel. Not quite as effect as with the actual comic book event, where the Superman books continuied without any Superman in them, and even that brief hiatus in publishing his titles for that summer…quite the shocking turn of events after being used to weekly installments for the character.

We’ll also be getting, in that aforementioned sequel, the replacement Supermen (Steel, Superboy, Cyborg Superman, The Guy with the Weird Glasses), so it’s following the comics’ lead there as well. Also, this new movie had regular Lex Luthor, not Lex’s-brain-in-a-younger-clone-body-pretending-to-be-his-Australian-son Luthor which is a real strange artifact of weird subplotting at the time of the original event. (But still amusingly referenced in the film as a disguise worn by Luthoer.)

Speaking of strange artifacts, this costume just gets more and more dated:

…and with any luck maybe the payoff of the sequel will be Superman’s return to his classic costume. It’s so much of Its Time, and will only be remembered when people look back at this era of comics entertainment and say “man, remember that lame costume Superman was in? Who approved that idea?” It’s the Superman mullet of the modern day. Though it would be hilarious if the mullet shows up in the sequel. Would be comics-accurate, after all!

Despite all that, the costume isn’t that much of a distraction. Superman’s innate heroism shines through the story, and that’s the important bit. The movie is very action-packed, though with sufficient character moments to keep it from being entirely a brutal slugfest. And speaking of that, the cartoon certainly conveys just how brutal the battle is, and how outmatched all the rest of the Justice League is in their own attempts at slowing down Doomsday.

Overall, a nicely done film, I thought, and I look forward to the follow-up. But…in that one impact, where Superman slams into Doomsday with Lois Lane standing right there…I mean, that should’ve killed Lois, right? All those shockwaves they showeed and such? Lois was pretty much right there at the point of impact. …Anyway, nitpicking.

The special features are…okay, I guess. I think I was hoping for more background on the actual original event in the documentary, which you get a little of, but mostly it’s talk about the film and adaptation of the story elements from the original comics. Lots of Jon Bogdanove in there. And I suppose the doc on the first Doomsday DVD kinda covered the comics end of things sufficiently.

You also get a preview of the next movie, the one with all the faux Supermen in it, and you get a couple of Legion of Super-Heroes episodes from the TV series, featuring those weird redesigns I didn’t care for.

But enough about “Death of Superman,” let’s talk about…”Death of Superman,” as, due to a bit of fortuitous timing, my former boss Ralph brought me another box or three of old comics promo stuff from Long-Ago Times for me to poke through. And whaddya know, there’s some Death of Superman stuff located within. Such as, for example, these ads for t-shirts from Graphitti Designs (which you’ll have to click to enlarge in order to read ’em clearly):

Where was I? Behind the counter selling the darn comics, or managing the giant line of customers snaking through the store, that’s where I was.

“Wait, we still have regular ol’ Superman shirts to sell! Uh oh, how do we sell ’em?”


[slaps forehead] “Of course!”

Also click to embiggen this, so you can see the tastefully-muted Bloody S:

“The only card line to capture this incredible event…those bastards at Topps tried to get Superman’s death into their hockey cards, but NO GO, AMIGOS.”

While on the topic of tastefulness, here’s a slick provided by the publisher for our advertising convenience:

I wonder if the people I saw with that Bloody S tattooed on their arms still have ’em? (If I remember correctly, at least one celebrity Bloody-S-tattoo-haver had it covered up or removed.)

And here we go, the actual solicitation information from DC Comics for Superman #75, the actual Death issue…first, the blurb from the Coming Comics catalog cover for items releasing in January 1993:

One of the few instances where the publisher wasn’t kidding when they said “oh, yeah, actual real world media may be interested in this, so order lots.”

And here’s the issue’s solicitation itself:

I seem to remember ordering ten times our normal Superman numbers on this…”that should be more than enough,” we thought.

Oh, and here’s DC’s own t-shirt solicitation:

“QUANTITIES ARE LIMITED to however many millions our factories are phyiscally able to crank out.”

The event of course was so big, other publishers referenced it in their catalogs:

So there you go, more Death of Superman stuff than you can possibly stand, the latest installment in a long line of me talking about the same damn thing over and over again. But of course I’ll talk about it again when that second “Death of Superman” cartoon finally comes out, so get ready for that!

Besides, what else am I going to talk about?

I mean, honestly.

That really is an awful thing to say about Age of Ultron, but I really don’t mean it that way.

§ August 15th, 2018 § Filed under movie reviews § 4 Comments

Just gonna keep this one short, since I need my beauty sleep…and if you’ve ever seen me, you know that’s true. Anyhow, I picked up the Avengers: Infinity War Blu-ray Tuesday night, partially on a whim, partially because my girlfriend requires ownership of all the recent Spider-Man cinematic appearances, and partially because I never did get to go see this while it was in theaters and I figured watching it at home with having to deal with the sounds and smells of other people sharing a room with me would be a preferred experience. This was the first of the current spate of Marvel movies that I didn’t catch in its original theatrical run, which feels a little weird…that comic collector in me, needing to keep my “run” complete, I suppose. I mean, I was there for the very first Marvel movie (starring Howard T. Duck, my friends), I’d hate to miss the rest. Though I missed Ant-Man and the Wasp, so that’s two, I guess.

So, the movie. I enjoyed it! Certainly liked it more than the previous Avengers film, which I didn’t much care for when I caught it at the local moviehouse. Though, I have to admit, over the last couple of years, as I’ve seen bits and pieces of Age of Ultron on television, I find that I seem to appreciate it more in smaller segments rather than as a whole. …There’s probably no good way to say “the less of it I see, the more I like it,” but that’s kinda sorta the case here. Maybe one of these day, when I somehow squeeze an eighth day during one of my forthcoming weeks, I’ll give the whole movie another go, beginning to end.

Okay. SO. THIS MOVIE. THE “INFINITY WAR” ONE THAT I ACTUALLY JUST WATCHED. I heard a lot about how folks were impressed that they managed to get so many characters into so many action sequences in this film without it feeling too crowded or complicated and…well, yeah. I can’t disagree. My problem with the previous Avengers flick is that it felt like we’d seen it all before, that the novelty of seeing a pile of superheroes onscreen was no longer there, and we didn’t get anything to replace that novelty to keep interest up. Here, the sheer amount of characters and the configurations in which they were placed brought a freshness to the proceedings. Even when it’s “CGI VERSUS CGI,” I was still invested enough in the story to buy in. The various plotlines were clearly told, the fights easy to follow (always a problem in this “hold the camera up close and shake it around a lot” era of action moviemaking), and pretty much every character that appeared was given something of significance to do. No draggy spots, either…it managed to keep the pace up without ever feeling like it was too much.

My only real complaint was that Thanos’s head was too long. And maybe he should have been a darker purple. THIS IS WHY YOU’RE NOT GETTING A “BEST PICTURE” OSCAR, PEOPLE.

In conclusion, I liked it just fine. Obviously there’s going to be a giant “reset button” resolution in the next film, undoing the rather dramatic events of this one. And I fully expect Chekhov’s Hulk to be fired at someone next time ’round, too. But I think overall it was a good showcase for the various elements of Marvel’s film franchise…which is kind of the purpose of superhero team-ups anyway, to sell folks on other superheroes. Maybe I’ll try to catch the next one in an actual movie theater…NO PROMISES.


§ November 23rd, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews § 6 Comments

Ah, one of the few days of the year where I can bend the bars, roll the toilet paper out the window, slide down the roll and have an escape from the shop. Yup, ain’t no Mike at the store today, so you all are just going to have to wait ’til Friday to pick up your extra copies of Frank Miller’s The Spirit Blu-rays for the holiday season. In the meantime, I plan to…hell, I don’t know, what does one do with this “free time” I’ve heard about in whispered legends? …I actually had a customer say to me on Wednesday “you are taking the day off, right? You’re always working!”

This looks like one of those lost weeks here on the blog…late start with a Tuesday post, and ain’t nobody checking in during the holiday weekend, so…yeah, let’s all meet up here again next week. I’ll bring the dip. …Me, I’m the dip, in case you were wondering.

However, let me comment on a couple of things before I send you off to argue with your relatives about the political matter of choice:

1. Saw the Justice League movie, which was just fine. Lots of action, sufficient humor, all the characters got their time (or times) to shine, and was just good old fashioned fun. Not a perfect movie…no movie is perfect, save Cabin Boy…but for folks who’ve been wanting a DC Universe live action movie that isn’t dark and dour, well, here you go! Yes, the villain is just a dude who wants to destroy things for its own sake, but served well as a plot device to spur our heroes into action. And yes, most of the film is about as deep as a sidewalk puddle…no attempts at the “big questions” or themes here, like in MoS or BvS…but that first Avengers movie was empty calories, too, and we all seemed okay with that.

Also, didn’t seem to notice Henry Cavill’s CGIed lip or a surfeit of midriff-baring Amazon warriors…you know, the things everyone was complaining about.

Anyway, the movie’s plenty entertaining, and just from my personal experience, still seems to be attracting audiences…we had to go to two theaters, on a Tuesday night even, to find a showing we could get into.

2. So I got my signed comp copies of Cryptid Cinema in the mail from Steve Bissette, and here’s what he put on my envelope:


See you guys next week, and thanks for reading.

I’m sure my complaining about kids today and their cellular phones doesn’t make me sound old at all.

§ July 10th, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews § 4 Comments

So here’s something I haven’t done in a long time…gone to a big blockbuster film on the very first day it opens to general release. I mean, I used to do it all the time, 20, 25, even 30 years ago. I had to go The Very First Day because I didn’t want anyone else spoiling things for me, and also because I’d get all excited for these films and I just couldn’t wait.

Nowadays, I don’t have quite the energy or enthusiasm that I did for movie-going, as I slowly slip into my dotage. Part of it is not caring nearly as much about spoilers, part of it is not wanting to deal with huge crowds, part of it is everyone’s friggin’ cell phones that they apparently paid 10 bucks a ticket so they could sit in a dark room and look at them. There’s also the fact that movies tend to get released to home video right quick and I have a large widescreen TV at home and a Blu-ray player and the ability to pause when nature calls. Blah blah blah get off my lawn, etc.

Generally, if I do go to movies, it’s either the following the first weekend, when the crowds have died down a lot, or two or three months after said film has opened, when we go onto the local Navy base and see movies in the free movie theater that’s offered for Navy personnel, their families, or civilian Naval employees (the latter category my girlfriend falls under). The Navy theater was how I got to see Logan, for example. And this fine flick.

But anyway, as I said, I did go to a film on opening night last week, thanks to the girlfriend’s nephew buying tickets for his family, my girlfriend and me for Spider-Man: Homecoming. The theater was in this giant newly-built mall, it was packed, there was also an outdoor festival going on, it took me nearly half an hour to find a parking space (on pretty much the exact opposite side of the mail from where the theater was located), and I was plenty stressed by the time we all managed to get to our seats just in time for the 20 minutes or so of trailers.

However, the actual viewing experience was fine. It was crowded, yes, but we had good seats right in the middle of the theater (this particular showing had assigned seating, and apparently the nephew ordered early enough to get his pick of seats), nobody around us was too obnoxious (though at the end of the film I had to tune out the guys behind me talking about Spider-Man comics — NO WORK TALK ON MY FREE TIME, PLEASE), and the projection at this theater seemed to be properly lit (as opposed to this other local small midtown theater that always seems to project their movies through several sheets of black construction paper).

Yes, yes, but what about Spider-Man: Homecoming itself?

I liked it just fine. I joked on the Twitters that “it didn’t have Dancing Evil Dork Peter Parker” so Spider-Man 3 remained the best film, but I think this film succeeded very well in giving us a sufficiently nerdy Peter Parker that integrated quite well into the larger Marvel Cinematic Universe. Michael Keaton was great as the Vulture, but that shouldn’t be a surprise to anyone. In fact, I’d say most of the cast here did solid jobs, and let’s hope a lot of them can stick around for a while as friends/foils for Spidey and we can stave off yet another reboot.

I have a couple of specific comments to make that could be construed as SPOILERS, so I’ll toss ’em in here between the two stills I grabbed from the trailers so you can skip over them if you need to. And by the way, holy crap does it seem like EVERY beat from the film can be found in these trailers. The trailers need spoiler warnings.

  • One of the “these guys are dorks” moments from the film is when Peter’s pal Ned excitedly tells him about the Lego Death Star set he just acquired, to the derision of a couple of girls who overhear the exchange. Peter is thrilled to hear the news, which caused someone on Twitter to remark “Peter didn’t know what an AT-AT from Empire Strikes Back was in Civil War, and now he’s excited about Death Star Legos? He’s a Fake Fan” — or words to that effect, because I’m pretty sure that’s over 140 characters.

    I think there are three clear responses to that. Either 1) Peter has since learned about Star Wars, what with getting all caught up in the excitement around Episode VII; 2) Peter is excited because his friend Ned is excited; 3) Peter just plain loves Legos, especially if he gets to work on a massive set that’s probably way out of his price range. There, problem solved…where’s my No-Prize, Marvel?

  • I talked about this somewhere before, on Twitter, on this site, on a BBS running Wildcat, I don’t remember, but I noted how…isolated Spider-Man seemed in his previous films. He was like the one guy with super-powers…well, one good guy, since he kept running into bad guys, obviously. Still, though, I couldn’t help but think how lonely it seemed, with Spider-Man separated out from the rest of the Marvel Universe. Now that he’s in the Cinematic Universe, it feels…satisfying, like a big piece that was missing is finally plugged back in there. It would be nice if someday the Fantastic Four could rejoin their four-colored friends onscreen, instead of a bunch of diminishing-returns reboots that never quite seem to, you know, get it. Oddly enough, I’m okay with not getting X-Men mixed in there, too, since, at least to me, they always seemed like they were kinda off on their own in the comics anyway. Yeah, of course there were crossovers and guest-appearances and such, but it always felt to me like “Here are the X-Men, and here is the rest of the Marvel Universe.” Not that I wouldn’t love an X-Men versus the Avengers movie.
  • I’m okay with having the Super Spidey Tech suit as a specific plot point for one film, but I’m hoping the replacement costume he gets at the end of the movie is just a cosmetic improvement without all the bells and whistles. Spider-Man as Iron Man-Lite on a regular basis wouldn’t feel like Spider-Man.
  • I know at this point in his life the movie is presenting, Peter isn’t working at the Daily Bugle yet, but man, I feel sorry for whoever they’re going to cast as J. Jonah Jameson. J.K. Simmons so nailed the part in the first trilogy, that they didn’t even bother to recast in the two-movie Andrew Garfield reboot (though you can see JJJ’s name as a sender of some emails at one point). I mean, I suppose eventually it’s going to happen, but it’s funny I can accept a new guy as Spidey, but JJJ’s recasting is going to be tough to take.
  • How great was Zendaya as “Michelle?” I want to see her “no time for your crap” attitude bump up against her inevitable discovery that Peter is Spider-Man. That’ll be a confrontation for the ages, I think.
  • There’s a mid-credits scene (that provides an answer re: the film’s plot point regarding Peter’s identity) and a post-credits scene that actually sort of depends on you performing the actual act of waiting through the credits. It’s quite clever, and a nice follow-up cameo to the character’s other cameos throughout this film.

And in conclusion, I can’t believe Spider-Man tried to get a job with the Fantastic Four at the end of the film. Who saw that coming?

I do have more to say, I think, that’ll probably wait for another day. In the meantime, it’s nice to have a new Spider-Man movie that’s actually good and doesn’t force us through the origin yet again. Even it there was no Evil Dancing.

The only thing I really wondered about is how much money Fox paid Warner Brothers to use the Superman music in that Deadpool trailer.

§ April 3rd, 2017 § Filed under movie reviews, wolverine § 9 Comments

So we finally made the time to go see Logan…for free, at the movie theater on the local Navy base, which is always the best way to see a movie in the theater because the other patrons are always so well behaved. No yapping during the film, no foolin’ around with phones, no acting up and causing disruptions…yup, I didn’t do any of those things this time.

As to the movie itself…hoo boy, I was told to expect a bit of the old ultraviolence, and that’s what I certainly got, but it’s not jut exploitative and…well, okay, maybe a little exploitative, but built on the story’s framework of aging, loss, and regret. It’s violent, but it’s serious and it’s funny and it’s sad, and it’s probably one of the more mature works in the superhero film genre. Tonally, it’s difficult to extrapolate Logan from Wolverine’s beginnings in the early X-Men films, which helped establish early on the formula for superhero films, but Logan wouldn’t work nearly as well without the character work performed by Hugh Jackman and Patrick Stewart in those movies, endearing Wolverine and Xavier to us.

But you all saw it already, so you know all that. One of the things I kept coming across online, in between the film’s opening and my seeing it this past weekend, were a handful of clickbait-y articles declaring that fans were confused by the end of the film. Now, I deliberately didn’t click on said articles, since I didn’t want the film spoiled for myself, and a cursory glimpse today in the various internet arenas where I spotted those particular headlines didn’t turn up anything. I didn’t see anything in the ending that looked like it needed any kind of explaining, so I turned my query to my Twitter pals to see what they had to say. Just what was so confusing about the ending of Logan?

(SPOILERS AHEAD, in case you hadn’t seen it yourself, yet.)

One possible point of confusion that was mentioned was the eulogy Laura recited at the graveside. The thought was that maybe, despite hearing the same speech during the bits of Shane shown earlier in the film, viewers may have forgotten that bit of foreshadowing and later wondered just what she was talking about. That’s a possibility, I guess, thought that scene where they’re watching the movie in the hotel room might as well have had the caption “WE’RE SETTING YOU UP FOR SOMETHING LATER IN THIS FILM” across the bottom of the screen.

The other bit that may have thrown people off is the nature of “Eden” or “sanctuary” that the kids are trying to reach, whether it’s real or not. There’s radio contact with an unseen someone who is trying to help the kids, and we never see the kids reaching their supposed safe haven after leaving their gathering place on this side of the border. And given that the coordinates for that gathering place were taken out of a comic book presenting the fictionalized adventures of the X-Men….well, there’s a lot to parse here, and I think this isn’t so much “confusing” as “deliberately vague.” This movie’s not about kids trying to reach safety. It’s about what Logan goes through to help these kids…any details as to what this safe haven is, and how the kids learned about it, who distributed those kinda terribly-printed X-Men movies, etc. etc., can all be explained in Logan II: Laura Strikes Back.

And the only other thing that struck me as possibly making viewers scratch their head is Laura turning the grave’s cross on its side to make an “X.” Let’s face it, that’s waaaaay subtle.

Also mentioned to me on Twitter, and everyone in my theater thought this too (I know this, thanks to the incredible telepathic powers I’ve developed after seeing every X-Men movie in the theater), was the idea that surely Wolverine’s clawed fist was going to thrust out of the grave in that very last second of the film. C’mon, you expected it too. I’m glad they didn’t, however…just letting the story end right there, as kinda depressing as it was, was the right move.

At least until Logan III: Return of the Mutant, coming Summer 2021.

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