The Violent Blue blog***Comics, Horror and Pop Culture***Updates Tuesday through Friday (and occasionally at random)

Posts tagged “Superhero movies

This Weekend!

fooddrive2014THIS WEEKEND!

I’ll be heading out around 9pm to Carol and John’s comic shop for the annual Christmas party. If you want to pop in earlier that day though, starting right at 10am the following sales take place:

50% off ALL Back Issues
20% off ALL Graphic Novels
20% off ALL Action Figures, T-Shirts and Statues
10% off EVERYTHING else in the shop

but more importantly, All day long you will be able to participate in our art show / food drive for the Cleveland Food Bank (In conjunction with Pop The Comic Culture Club)

Bring in a can of food and get a ticket. (or) Donate a dollar and get a ticket. (They also do six tickets for $5) Tickets can be used in two ways. To buy comics out of the dollar bins or to be placed into a basket raffle to win custom covers by local artists including me. I’ve done up two covers and I would like nothing better than for one of my readers to walk away with one of them!

After the party, my daughter and I will be hopping over to White Castle at 3255 W. 117th St for our final trip there. They are closing down all the ones in Cleveland and while it’s not a particular favortie, i’ll still kind of missit (I always went when I had coupons).

Finally, we’ll be heading out to the Capitol Theatre for the midnight showing of Batman Returns, a great Christmas movie in it’s own right!

If you catch me at any of these stops, tap me on the shoulder and say hi! I hope to see as many of my Cleveland area readers there as I can!

And don’t forget to join us on Monday for the last new Violent Blue of the year!


In Defense of Joel Schumacher

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Schumacher’s name is synonymous with failure. After all, he pretty much destroyed the Batman movie franchise and it took visionary director Christopher Nolan to redeem and reinvent it.

And I don’t believe a word of the above statement.

Truthfully, I think the film Batman and Robin poison everything around them and that’s not fair. Batman Forever was actually a decent film. You have to remember, at the time, the only cinematic version of Batman we had was Burtons, and he had no interest in the source material. Catwoman was interesting, but there’s noting about her that ever remotely resembles Selina Kyle…and the creepy Penguin? I don’t even know what that was.

What Batman Forever gave us were villains much close to their comic book counterparts, and a Bruce Wayne that I actually could believe was the Bruce from the comic series rather than the pointy eye browed, curly haired weirdo that slept hanging upside down (Oh! I get it! LIKE A BAT! um, yeah.)

Sure there was a little more humor…Jim Carey (Who I don’t like that much at the best of times) was being Jim Carey. There was some speculation that Robin Williams should have played the Riddler (and the Joker before that). Can you imagine how hammy THAT would have been? The humor isn’t down to the camp levels of the TV show though. There’s plenty of action, with Schumacher’s flair for zooming shots actually giving it a more comic book feel, and that’s what I loved about it back in 1994. It felt much more like the comics to me and that was a welcome change. I even laughed at the single reference to the old TV show (which I still hate to this day) about Holey rusted metal….

I think however, that some studio exec with warm and fuzzy feelings for that show head that line and a lightbulb went off over his head…

You see, I don’t place most of the blame on Batman and Robin on Schumacher. This was another film (much like Star Trek Five again) rife with studio interference. Not even that. The word “interference” suggests some level creative vision on the directors part. Schumacher walked into a meting, before the script was even written and was handed toys. Cars, costumes and props and was told that these all had to be worked into the film somehow. The original script didn’t even have Bane in it. Ever wonder why the toy looks SO different from the on screen character? It’s because the toy was designed before the role was cast.

Schumacher could have said no. I’ll grant that. He could have breached contract. In retrospect it might have even been good for his career. But back in 1993, I can easily see how quitting this film (Batman films were a license to print money after all) might have looked like career suicide.

This isn’t cockeyed optimism that fuels my devotion to Schumacher. rather it’s he track record. On one hand we have Batman and Robin – a heavily studio controlled film that was an utter disaster on every level. On the other hand we have my favorite vampire film EVER, the Lost Boys. And we have Saint Elmo’s Fire before that. We have Phone Booth and 8MM (both done after B&R, just incase you were about to make the argument that he had talent but then lost it). Phantom of the Opera is another fairly closely controlled property that he was able to make good with.

It drives me mad when I hear him trashed on the basis of (mostly) one film that he had little or not control of, and I’ll stand by my defense of him any day you like.

 

 

 


In Defense of X-Men Origins : Wolverine

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1This is actually a hard Colum to write. The rules are it has to be about a property (mostly movies, but comics and music are fair game too) that everyone in general hates and that conventional wisdom tells us is bad, but that I like. And I mean LIKE. Not just a “meh…that’s not really THAT bad a movie….”

Here’s how I can  tell that Wolverine isn’t a bad movie. I like it – and I don’t like ANY of the X-Men movies. The second one is  the only one I might ever bother to rewatch besides this one (and the way Wolverine cuts through those soldiers in the mansion really bothers me). I actually change the channel if any of these movies come on broadcast TV.

I read the comics, but let’s face it, the cinematic X universe bears little more than a passing resemblance to the comics. That’s actually a good thing too, because I can’t stand Wolverine in the comics. Hugh Jackman however, actually makes me care about the character. he makes me like him. The first three X-Movies are really just all about Wolvie, so why not finally admit it and put his name on the shingle?

The action is good here. It’s a lot of CG, 3but we’ve come to expect that from X-Movies. Wolverine broods a bit, but I think it actually fits the character. I’m hearing a lot of complaing on that same subject for the Days of Future Past film as well, but if you genuinely know the character, you’ll realize he’s more than a hack ’em up brute. It’s a role Jackman plays extraordinarily well.

The lack of continuity with Sabertooth has bugged some people. I get that. I really wish it were Tyler Man again, or that this guy had played him in the first film. It would have helped my suspension of disbelief. However, Sabertooth isn’t just a brute either. In the mid 90’s there was some real development of the character, imprisoned in the mansion and while they were attempting to rehabilitate him, he was 2playing mind games with the crew. There’s aspecial hatred between him and Gambit. It’s a shame that actually never played itself out on screen here. It’s a missed opprutunity, but then again, perhaps one that would have made the plot look too crowded to casual fans.

Gambit by the way, it perfectly realized here. I’m a fan of the character and loved the portrayal in this film. My only complaint is that he’s underused. That’s been the excuse for three previous films as to why they never brought him in by the way – they felt they wouldn’t have a big enough role for him. After waiting so long though, it was good to finally see Remy LeBeau realized on screen.

6Which brings me to the big sticking point for a lot of people.

Deadpool.

For all you haters out there….I’ll give you this one. What they did with deadpol was a real waste. It smacks of studio interference by a group of people who just don’t understand the character. A shame too, because before his transformation into the bizarre weapon X without a mouth. Ryan Reynolds actually does a nice job as Wade Wilson. If anything, it’s a bit underplayed.

Here’s why it didn’t ruin the movie for me. I barely knew ANYTHING abut Deadpool when this came out. He’d shown up in X-Force as a fairly generic Vanilla character and I was completely unfamiliar with the more loony 4characterization he’d grown into (and thanks to Jesse Vining who re-introduced me to the character when I was getting back into Heroclix). I imagine a great deal of the general public was the same way….it was just another bad guy to them. Still, to a fan, I can see how this could poison the film for you. I have similar feelings about Alien 3 (but more on that next month). The fact that we still haven’t gotten a proper Deadpool feature (especially with that script that’s been floating around) makes it even more of a slap in the face.  In this case, I’m genuinely asking you to set aside that and pretend he’s just a random bad guy. This really is a fun film, and there are too few X-films with this kind of rewatchability to just throw this one aside.


Not a review of Guardians of the Galaxy

Movie bannerguardians_poster_via_marvelI was aware of the movie of course, because of all the buzz, but it wasn’t one I was just waiting on pins and needles for.

In many ways I think I’m the target audience for it. People who might have heard something about this, but arn’t really familiar with it. I tried an issue or two of the comic when Bendis rebooted it a couple years ago, but nothing really grabbed me. I like the idea of the talking raccoon (a smart mouth funny animal character is one of my elements for a perfect sitcom formula) and I like Sci-Fi, but had nothing invested here.

There’s a million reviews for Guardians. There’s nothing I can add to those really. I  took my kids, Lydia’s favorite character was Groot – mostly because he spends the entire movie saying nothing but “I am Groot”. And Maddie loved Rocket. Yeah, nothing new here.

What I want to explore is why  this movie is important.

I like this because it’s sci-Fi without being SyFy. It’s not Star Trek or Star Wars. It’s not the gritty or nilistic attitude that we’ve seen in Sci-Fi for the last ten years or so (thanks for nothing Battlestar Galactica). It’s not Gravity or Edge of Tomorrow. It’s fun. It doesn’t take itself to seriously while still going all in to the genre – and this is where you can see Gunn’s Troma roots. Say what you will about Troma, (and I hate ’em) but it’s one of the last places you can go in as nothing and truly advance by merit.  You can start off as a PA or a grip and end up a script supervisor or editor. That’s not an exaggeration, Joe Lynch did JUST that on Terror Firmer. It’s like New York, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere. Much like Roger Cormans studio, Troma is actually forging a generation of professionals despite (or perhaps because of ) working on drek. Gunn knows where to be serious and where to go completely zany, and if he can make you tear up at the image of a raccoon staring down at the charred branches of a tree – that’s something worth noting. This is original. Like nothing else in film today, because they remembered this is supposed to be a good time. They remembered that they cans still make you feel, when you’re having fun, it doesn’t need to be bleak and heavy to get that reaction.

It’s also a game changer.

There has been much written in reviews of how the Marvel brand is a proven one. Sure it is. But only with Superheroes.

Thor was a Sci-Fi movie, but with Superheros. So was Iron Man. And even though they were second stringers at the time (remember in the 90 and early 2000’s if it wasn’t an X-book or Spider book it was back bench), they were recognizable enough. Guardians is pure Sci-Fi. A shrew eye can catch the comic book dynamic – charismatic leader, sexy girl, smart mouth, a warrior, and a tank. Even so, it’s very Sci-Fi, with more in common with Firefly than the Avengers. It’s proof Marvel can do other things. What could happen next? Marvel Horror? Marvel Mystery? We’re getting a very Crime based set of shows hitting Netflix and it’s obvious Marvel want’s it’s brand to encompass more than just superheros. Guardians is the proof it can do so, and may be the key to surviving when the market gets oversaturated with superhero movies and the bubble inevitably breaks.

It’ll be interesting to see where we go from here.

Over at Violent Blue by the way, Steve took Jen to see the movie. We’ll be exploring their relationship against the backdrop of the film all week. Check it out here!


Days of Future Past

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1Finally got around to seeing Days of Future Past.

Here’s the thing, I’m not into the X-Men movies. I liked the X-Men in the early 90’s when it was over the top superhero action. I’ve never been a fan of Wolverine. At that point, there really isn’t a whole lot in these films for me. Worse yet, they just get more and more depressing every time. One was okay, but frustrating because of how much it deviated from any know continuity. Two was actually okay. Fun. The bit about Wolverine killing soldiers bothered me a little but otherwise okay. X3 was just depressing and grim. I gave up after that. I saw Wolverine Origins, but not in the theatre, and I thought it was okay…but mediocre. I didn’t even bother with the Wolverine or First class.

First class bothers me actually because I really don’t like this version of Xavier and I don’t want a version of Professor X that is unlikable.

Really, the X films are all about Professor X and Wolverine. More importantly, they are all about Patrick Stewart and Hugh Jackman. The return of Steward and Ian Mackellan on screen with Jackman is a welcome return to form.

It’s interesting, even though I haven’t seen First Class, I can feel it being integrated here, like two different franchises coming together. A real Avengers vibe. The story deviates miles from the comics, but by now we’ve pretty much accepted that the movies are their own continuity and like I said, these films are about Wolverine and Professor X.

We’re pretty much into full costume mode these days (as opposed to the original film when the fashion was still to try as hard as possible to deny you were in a superhero film), so I don’t understand why they don’t just use comic accurate suits, but the look is very cool. Some of the dopey elements like the fans in the sentinels ake sense when you see them on screen.

There’s not much to complain about here. I still don’t like MacAvoy’s Xavier, but I think I actually may enjoy Michael Fastbender’s Magneto more than Ian Mackellans. It’s enough to get me to pull The Wolverine out to watch it and maybe even anticipate the next film a bit! No small feat. It’s still in theatres, so catch it on the big screen while you still can.

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The Amazing Spider-Man 2

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So yesterday we ran this strip over at Violent Blue.

Amazing Spider-Man 2

I don’t want to hate this movie.

1I really questioned whether I would review it because the problem is this can not possibly stand up on it’s own. This is  the second film in the Amazing cycle and it’s inevitably going to draw comparisons from the Rami cycle. The second Rami movie is the best of all the Spider-man movies ever. More to that point, I have no problem saying it’s one of the greatest Superhero movies ever made. In fact it was just on TV over the weekend (capitalizing on the release of the new film) and it absolutely holds up.

I liked Garfield as Peter Parker in the first film. I thought Toby was a better Spidey though. More light hearted and fun. I hoped Garfield’s Spidy would grow on me, especially since they got the costume right this time. Sadly, it was the opposite. His Peter has gotten more grating and that stupid Bronx accent (is it meant to be queens? It doesn’t sound queens to me) really gets ramped up here and drives me nuts. Not as bad as the Dancin’ Toby sequences in 2 and 3, but not fun.  Peter is too moody. Too brooding. This isn’t Batman. Spider-Man looks best in the sunlight and happy.

2I also don’t buy the Peter/Harry relationship. This needed to be addressed in the first movie. Harry belongs with Peter from the word go, bringing him in cold in the sequel just feels tacked on. What a coincidence Peter just happened to be friends with the richest kid in New York….

Harry’s completely unlikable in this by the way and that’s a shame. The tragedy of Harry Osborne is that he’s not a bad guy, he’s been twisted. If you’re not rooting for him to rise above it, then it doesn’t work. And I’m not. I don’t like this Harry.

He’s not alone though. I HATE Aunt May here. God she’s useless in this series. She’s pathetic…nothing more than a dialogue delivery system. May is supposed to be a dichotomy – old and frail with a shocking amount inner strength that can’t be measured. I mean, they couldn’t even be bothered to put a white WIG on Sally Field!

Look, I have issues with the Rami cycle. I never liked his casting of Kristen Dunst and never really liked his version of Peter Parker. I think his inexplicable need for every villain to have some sort of relational connection with Spidey was ridiculous. But for the most part….for the most part he got it right. Aunt May and J. Jonah Jameson looked like they stepped right off the comic page, and their characterization was so dead on that they stole the show. Even though he didn’t have the right look, everything else about the Green Goblin rung true. Norman and Harry Osborne were perfect updates (and they LOOKED related by the way). Rami got  the relationships right. He understood the characters. Most importantly, he loved the source material. He loved the comics. Everything else comes from that.

3I don’t think the current producers love the comics. I don’t think they get it. In fact, more and more of this feels like film by committee. Everyone has input. This movie in particular drops so many names it’s transparent that it’s just designed to be a springboard to other things…and that fails to entertain.

I want to like this. Remember what I said about them really understanding how to use effects? It’s still true in this entry, but this time it’s par for the course. I don’t see anything that really blows me away. They don’t have the goodwill of everything being shiny and new. They had to deliver a great story, but they are trying to do too much to achieve that.

A lot of what I had a problem with the first time around is still there. Actually most of it has been kicked up a notch, such as treating Spidey like a grim avenger. Instead of repeating it all here, I’ll just refer  you to my post on Amazing here : https://argocitycomics.wordpress.com/2013/02/25/amazing/

 

If you haven’t seen it, wait for it to hit redbox or Netflix. Better yet, just pop in the Raimi films and go from there.


Captian America : The Winter Soldier

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cap1I finally got around to seeing Captain America this weekend. I know I’m lat to this party, but you know me, I don’t visit movie theaters that are less than 70 years old. The Lorain Palace was showing it in 3d for 5.00 (as opposed to a 2d matinée  at a normal theatre for 7.50 at least).

Here’s the thing. The Winter Soldier isn’t a superhero movie. Sure they try to fool you with some big set pieces in the beginning and the end, but make no mistake, this is not a superhero movie. It’s a political thriller – and really, that’s exactly what you would expect from Robert Redford in this role. With SHIELD infiltrated by Hydra, there’s far more intrigue than simple action here. I almost wonder if it’s too elevated for the subject matter.

cap2I was really complementary about the first Cap film. I stand by my opinion that it was the best Superhero film I’d seen in a good decade. I revisited it recently and found it’s not as rewatchable as I had hoped. It’s still as good, but I can’t return to it again and again like I can with The Avengers. It makes me wonder if this film will have a similar feel. It’s an awfully complicated story for casual viewing.

Speaking of The Avengers – I’m having some issues with Scarlet Johansson and the way she plays Black Widow.

It’s not that I don’t like her in the role, I’m perfectly fine with the casting, but it seems like she never plays it the same way twice…does she just forget how the character is played every time? I also wonder if that’s part of the act….that she has so many faces, so many identities that all of them are false. If that’s the case then it really should be a little cleared. perhaps I am just over cap4thinking this, but in her third time out it’s beginning to get to me. In the end she just comes off as really bland.

They also try to play up her dark past in this film. it seems a little late to be getting to this. We kind of acknowledge it in the Avengers, but it’s just in one line. Here it’s far more explicitly stated but feels like it’s too little too late – either tacked on for the fans or an afterthought to try and enhance what has always been a secondary character.

There’s a LOT of Cleveland in this film. This always takes me out of the movie a bit, I’ve spent a lot of time downtown professionally and I recognize so much of what we see here. That is one of the greatest car chases ever, but I know some of those streets. The scene in the mall is crazy. I take my daughters to those fountains. I buy coffee at that stand! I’ve done work in that building cap5they’re keeping the Winter Soldier in….

Falcon is a nice addition in this film by the way. It’s a good origin story for him and he really has chemistry with Cap. I’m actually looking forward to seeing him in the next film…and let’s face it, they telegraphed the sequel. Then again, the commercials really gave away a lot of plot points, and I found myself waiting for stuff to happen. On the other hand it also let me know that I WAS going to see the familiar red white and blue costume for part of this movie and not just the slick blue and silver Captain-America-The-Winter-Soldier-Cap-Golden-Age-versionone. I was pleased that it was a full third of the film.

Interestingly enough, all the commercials and memes and internet chatter I was sure Nick Fury was going to really die in this. It was interesting that all of the spoilers actually hit me in reverse…

I really liked this film and can’t wait to see the next one.

Well, you know,  after I see Superman vs. Batman.

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By the way, we’ll be spending the whole week over at Violent Blue celebrating the new Cap film. Check it out! the first strip is up here : http://www.violentblue.thecomicseries.com/comics/680

 

 


One last word

With all the hate and vitriol I’ve seen slung towards Ben Affleck in the last twelve hours  there is one thing that really strike me about the vast majority of the detractors.

It’s all hate. It’s all passion. It’s all emotion.

 

Warner bros. ARE YOU FUCKING JOKING? BEN AFFLECK AS THE NEW BATMAN IN BATMAN VS SUPERMAN. NOW THIS MOVIE IS A TOTAL JOKE. NOT EVEN EXCITED ANYMORE. 
Bunch of dumbasses.

I think this is a horrible idea and Daredevil sucked

I don’t want to live on this planet anymore

Thank you, Warner Brothers, for absolutely DESTROYING Batman for all eternity. You freaking IDIOTS.

I don’t want to talk about a guy that aff “lack’s” talent to be any hero.

 its a travesty! Its immoral! Its unholy! I feel like vomiting!

well…. so much for look forward to to the Superman Batman movie………

 

 

There’s not a lot of reason going on. People aren’t THINKING about this, they’re just feeling and the knee-jerk reaction to Affleck is generally negative, no matter what role he plays.

I’m not convinced myself. But I’m also not declaring the end of the world. Sit back, let it sink in. Bale wasn’t coming back even if they drove a Brinks truck up to his door and let him pick out the crispest bills. Moreover, DC/WB can’t afford for this to tank. They didn’t pull this name out of a hat. I’ll admit I don’t have a CLUE what they were thinking, but you can bet they have some reason here. The stakes are far higher than they ever were with say; Batman Forever or Batman and Robin.  It’s two years away and you can bet that WB is going to be immediately releasing some stills and pre production to try and slowly win people over.

Hang out for a while. Seriously. Let’s see where this goes.

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The new Batman

ImageSo the news broke, Ben Affleck is Daredevil, and the internet is aflame.

Affleck as Batman, I think I could be okay with this. However, I don’t know about him as Bruce Wayne. The thing is, I LIKED him as Daredevil. I really did, and I think he had a good take on Matt Murdock. I have a much harder time picturing him as Bruce Wayne though…and I really would have preferred a deeper voice.

Those of you hoping the outcry will be enough to get him kicked off the project….well…you remember months ago the news was that he was in talks with Warner Brothers – the rumors were that he was going to be directing Justice league. This casting decision isn’t recent. I’d bet it’s been in place for a good year or so.
They had to know there would be a huge backlash especially in superhero circles, Affleck is damaged goods, and in the mainstream, it’s just conventional wisdom to hate him….in this case I’m kind of the opposite. I thought his Daredevil was good (particuarly to someone who’d been reading the character for twenty years at that point). The director’s cut even more so. In my opinion, most of the people who really hate his Daredevil either already dislike and dismiss the character out of hand or were strictly Frank Miller fans who hadn’t read the title in years- decades even.

I’ll grant Affleck’s Matt Murdock was really just him playing himself -yeah, he does that a lot (so do “respectible” actors like Harrison Ford)….but it worked for me considering Murdock is one of the least responsible lawyers I’ve ever seen. His daredevil fit well enough with what Bendis was writing around the time and had a few callbacks to earlier incarnations. We’re seeing him evolve into a hero in the movie – something that wasn’t always clear enough (Why does everyone complain about him killing Quesada at the beginning but no one has the same complaints about Batman killing the Joker in ’89 – twice if you count dripping Jack in a vat of chemicals or letting Ras die in Begins? At least in Daredevil it’s part of the arc that he grows beyond killing ). It’s a real shame they cut out the sub plot about him trying to solve a case about a dead hooker – we see more development there and a lot more detective work. I never really dug the Bullseye in that film….but that’s got nothgin to do with Batman….perhaps antoher article.

In the end it all makes me wonder what they saw in Affleck that lead them to this casting. Remember how much Michael Keaton was hated when he was announced as Batman as well, and suddenly the 1989 Batman movie was declared “Movie of the Decade!” and to be fair, if we’re going to talk about spotty careers…I still have a hard time disassociating Henry Cavil with the guy that was getting a hummer from a girl with a demonic mask in the eighth (and worst) Hellraiser movie. Superman vs. Batman has a long time before it get’s here. Let’s see what happens next.


Free Comic Book Day 2013

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I started my Free Comic Book Day this year at Midnight. Well, actually a little before, 405895_10151573825462278_1154100036_nheading out to Carol and John’s comic shop for the Midnight release party.The midnight party features free comics, specially brewed drinks and food along with sales and costumes. I went to this a couple of years ago with my friends John and Carl, and remembered not liking it, but didn’t quite remember why.

The two and a half hour wait in line may have had something to do with it. I remember it being crowded, but not this crowded….and we were waiting forever. The young lady in the great Doctor Who shirt (Complete with a button that said “come along Pond!”) that I was in line with was getting a little worried that there might not be much left if we ever go in. (By the way, if your reading this, I owe you an apology. I was in a bad mood and didn’t realize we would be out there so long. I should have talked to you more and been friendlier. I was rude to just stand and read my book as much as I did). On Superman_CustomFacebook I joked with folks that we should have headed to the party and played a game of Heroclix while we waited. Seriously, there was enough time to get in a full game while in line. If I do this party again next year, I’m planning something like that. Cards or heroclix or SOMETHING.

Still, we eventually got in and I got my first selections, including the Cleveland edition of Superman. That was one I definitely wanted, especially since we’re celebrating the 75th Anniversary of the character – or trying to at least.

Madeline had ballet the next morning and we weren’t about to let her take off just to trot around town trolling for comic books with Daddy. We suited Lydia up and were batgirlready when Maddie got home at 11. We tossed her costume on, packed a lunch and headed back to Carol and John’s for the costume contests.

Wow.

We had no idea that half of the places we went for Free Comic Book Day would be OUT by the time we got there. Perhaps we need to start earlier, but it also seemed like there were a bunch more people out this year than before.

600745_569131633131264_696461426_n I saw the  line at Carol and Johns and my heart sank a little. It was as long this afternoon as it was at midnight. Ugh. The girls wouldn’t last an hour or two of waiting like that. Still, we were there in time for the costume contest, so the girls got their numbers and headed up. Maddie and Lydia were in different age categories, so they weren’t competing against each other. I think I’ve very glad for that.

To my great delight (and perhaps a little surprise) both of my girls placed. Lydia got third (and lost out to the cutiest set Power Puff girls EVER) while Maddie got second in her division. I couldn’t be happier.

321454_569132826464478_884028288_n 601916_569130963131331_525149132_n941203_569131093131318_799551964_nNext off, we headed out to Parma to swoop down the Polish corridor. B and L comics  was out, however  he had a few ones from last year and older on the counter to try and still have something for people….my girls and I were at the counter making our purchases (we raided the .50 box) and were asking about which free ones he still had and folks were reaching around us to snatch them away before my two little girls could get anything! How rude!

Traffic was bad enough that we skipped Northcoast Nostalga…a shame too, because 128880_457630_60they always have great discount bins – .25 and .35 bins, and I always rummage through those. York was running out, but the girls got some Strawberry Shortcake there and we bought some Trinity (because they had Wonder Woman on the cover). I also got my Uglydoll comic here. This was just the coolest offering the FCBD! The girls loved looking at the statues and figures. York was running out too, so they pulled stacks of old issues from the back and set them up on the free table so everyone could still get something. Very cool guys. On the way to our next stop, I became aware of Maddie talking in the back seat. Not to me….no she was reading on of the strawberry shortcake comics she had just gotten to her sister.

Thank God for Comics are Go! in Sheffield. They still had a decent stock and had save me one of the FCBD  Iron Man 3 heroclix! You guys saved the day. Seriously. Heroclix_New-300x300The girls had been getting a little discouraged. The other thing Comics Are Go! managed to find for me was a copy of the Walking Dead comic for this year. Not one place we went had that one still in stock. In fact, Mike ran into the back  and dug that and a Judge Dread out for me I wouldn’t have gotten these comics otherwise. Then again, that’s one of the things about having a shop you go to regularly. In fact,  I think next year, we may mostly just do Comics Are Go. (Maybe the midnight party at Carol and Johns, but maybe not).

While we were in Comics are Go! Maddie kept looking around at the toys and other 128886_457754_62comics, and she discovered the My Little Pony comic book. She asked me if we could get that one too, and I said yes (like last year, we want to buy something at every stop to do what little we can to support these places). She was also looking at the figures and discovered the Wonder Woman line – A Circe figure and a special agent Diana Prince figure. She brought those up the Scott, the store owner and asked why the boxes said “Wonder Woman” when it didn’t look like Wonder Woman inside. He smiled and explained who the figures were. It was unbearably cute.

Of course we dressed up. Me too. I tried something different this year, my costume was Perry White, with Maddie as She-Ra and Lydia as Batgirl. Funny, Lydia’s always 21305_569069549804139_1496418892_nrefused to wear masks, but this year she came up to me first thing in the morning and asked me to make her a mask for her costume! Rushed in to the basement to find some foam and elastic, but we got it done!

By the time we got home we were all tired and Maddie was eager to tear into the Lego set she won in the costume contest. The girls asked for a Wonder Woman cartoon so I fired up Netflix and turned on the Wonder-Woman centric episodes of Justice League. We played with Legos and plowed through our piles of comics. We didn’t bring home as many this year. The girls had about seven each. I 935666_569131116464649_793281673_nhad about twenty. I know they were a little disappointed by that, but we still had a fun day out and I still had plans for the evening. After all, what better way to end FCBD than with Iron Man 3 at Amherst Cinemas? I still had a dollar left over from comic book shopping and managed to scrape together two more dollars in change (remember the days when you could still hit a movie using the change you found in you couch or car seats?)

I got to the theatre just before the movie was supposed to start. Just in time to see them put the “Sold Out” sign up.

@#$%&!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Comics shops running out of comics? Comic movie running out of tickets? I’m beginning to see a theme here. Time to pop in the Scott Pilgrim DVD I borrowed from the Library and try again tomorrow.

I did make it in on Sunday. Probably the best Iron Man movie of all of them, I prefer this director. However, while I liked it better than any of the other Iron Man movies, but I still  think it needed 30% more Tony-in-the-suit. It seems like the entire point of these films is to get tony out of the armor….I get that they are trying to make up for it by throwing in War Machine/ Iron Patriot, but honestly, for a film called “Iron Man” Iron man is actually not in it very much. I think we had more screen time with Tony-in-the-suit in Avengers. And poor Tony, he was getting tossed around worse than Bruce Campbell in an old cabin.

I really like the Iron Patriot suit though. I’ve got a bunch of foam in my attic. Wondering if I could make a suit….I think my cosplay for Lake Effect Comic Con might be Tony with just the arm and leg armor from the escape sequence. We’ll see.

We’ll close  this with some photos from the midnight party and FCBD. Some of these are mine, some are culled from around Facebook. And remember, new Violent Blue is up today!

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In Defense of The Punisher

defense

Punisher-FilmsA while back I mentioned that I was a fan of all the Punisher movies, though if I had to pick my favorite, it would be the Thomas Jane movie.

Really the big issue here is I think they are out of order. If you shuffle them around a bit, an arc begins to appear. Let’s do these in my order, starting with the Jane movie.

2_midiI know it’s an origin movie, but much like I do with the first Spider-Man movie, I usually start this guy in about halfway through so we have the origin out of the way. Still, that’s important to what I’m observing. The movie serves to tell us where Frank is coming from. It shows his tragedy and his immediate reaction, a lashing out at the gangsters who killed his family.

This film begins his descent into madness. You see him still in touch with humanity though, through the people in his apartment building, but even then – he’s pulling away. You know when he disappears, he’s gone for good.

10726451_galThis brings us to the Dolph Lundgren film.

Poor Dolph has constantly been blamed for the failure of this film. I couldn’t disagree more. sure, he could be a little more articulate, but then again, her dosen’t really need to be does he? The Punisher speaks rarely, and then only when there ‘s something important to say.

The costume has been blamed as well. This really isn’t a bad costume. I miss the skull. I do. Sometimes you’ll hear people talk about how the clever director shaded Dolph’s face so you could see the skull there. I think that’s overstating it a bit, but I understand. We also tend to forget just HOW different this costume was at the time. The modern Punisher wears a costume very similar to what we see Lundgren in, but back in the 80’s he was still in spandex like every other hero, with white boots and gloves.  This costume was really a bit of a shock to the fanboys. Still it was a time period when it was fashionable to do superhero movies and change the costume completely.

vlcsnap-2010-03-01-02h20m36s5The skull isn’t completely absent either, we do see it on the daggers Frank uses, but ti still would have been nice to see on printed on his T-Shirt – everything else the same.

No, what sinks this movie is the script. The more I watch it, the more i think this wasn’t written to be a Punisher movie, but rather just another low budget action flick, re-written to make it into the Punisher movie.

Having the Yakuza as the villain is a bizarre choice for a movie that’s trying to introduce a character to the public. it’s suited far more for a sequel. The dialogue is clumsy and the disgraced thespian turned alcoholic informant is just annoying.

It’s not all bad though. The “B” story with the Frank’s old partner seeking him out is very well done, probably the best part of the film. Louis Gosset Jr grounds the movie and gives us someone to relate to. I personally imagine he’s the same African American guy from the first movie who did the initial drug bust with Frank  that resulted in Travolta’s son’s death. If you can get your hands on the workprint of this you really ought to. It shows far more range on Lundgrens part – there’s more flashbacks to before Frank became the Punisher, several which are referenced in the final cut. I understand that they mostly make the running time longer and drag the pace a bit but several things make more sense in it too.

Imagine now, that it’s been five years since the first movie. Frank is now living alone in the sewer, completely separated from humanity. his descent into madness is complete and he has little or no human contact. He’s dropped weight, note eating right, never venturing to the surface world except to kill. The sum of his human encounters is that once in a while he pumps an informant for information, but that’s strictly business, not personal. He is singly concentrating on wiping out the mob, and he’s almost succeeded, but his madness is wild, unfocused.

It takes the kidnapping of the mobsters children by the Yakuza to bring him back into the human race. He comes out to rescue them in the process encountering his old partner. He begins to see the need for human contact, for relationships. Perhaps he even sees the benefits tactically. That will lead him to build more contacts and wage his war on crime more effectively. MV5BMTM4OTQyODk0NF5BMl5BanBnXkFtZTcwMzQwNDQwMg@@._V1._SY317_CR0,0,214,317_Something we see in full swing in the next film : War Zone.

In War Zone, even more time has passed. The stated body count has increased from the Lundgren film. In this movei we see Frank has built a support structure both in his police contact Soap and his armoror Microchip. Micro’s supplies have helped fortify the sewer that Frank is still linvign in and probably helped him be a more efficiant killing machine. Now with his madness and rage fous insted of wild like the Lundgren movie, we see a more human Punisher, deadlier than ever. Children are still his best connection to humanity thoguh and we see that again here, a theme continued from the Lundgren movie. It fits best this way.

It’s a pity the way War Zone was received. The director has stated being frustrated by the cries of over the top violence in this movie (see my upcoming  article on Judge Dredd for my opinions on what constitutes Ultra-Violence. This movie has a lot of kills, but not a lot of gore) when the critics didn’t understand she was coping most of those scenes almost panel for panel from the comics.

I don’t mind this movie, but I do think Ray Stevenson gets a little too chatty for the Punisher and the mistake of his, killing the undercover agent, which drives a lot of the story just turns me right off. I think it was poor choice. The Punisher doesn’t make those kind of mistakes, and if he dose, he doesn’t get this emo over it.

It was great to see Jigsaw here. I think he should have appeared earlier in the series, but then again, I suppose I understand why he didn’t. It’s a pity they made him so loony. Really a shame. It damages the character a little too much and combined with the other factors just drags the movie down when it could have been so much better. Still it serves as  a good final chapter in this series. As I said, there’s a definite arc here and I could easily consider this an unintentional trilogy.  It’s a pity there no more movies coming our way any time soon, but you can bet that the next time the Punisher hits the Silver screen, I’ll be there watching… and trying to see wher tit will fit in this list.


The future of Comic Book movies

So blockbuster season is firmly in  the past. I saw what I was going to see, and successfully avoided Dark Knight (not a nolan fan, I’ll get around to it on DVD). and I’m wondering how much longer this can last.

Don’t get me wrong. Comic Book films aren’t going away. They never have. There have been comic book films pretty much as long as there has been cinema. I have old Captain America serials and Superman movies from the 40 and 50s. I think there were a grand total of five Shadow movies. But as you look over history, you can see certian…eras. Especially in the last few decades. Usually it’s started off by a Superhero film that redefines the genre. Superman did it, and that was really the model for a good chunk of the 80s, until Batman in 1989. That redefined things as gritty, dark and rubber suits if you were going to go with a costume like in Captain America – but you weren’t allowed to show the suits too much. No costume? You just went dark and grindhousey like in the Punisher. Oh and the supporting cast didn’t really have to resemble their comic book counterparts. You can toss Judge Dredd, The Crow, Spawn and Blade in there, probably even X-Men though around that time things began to change. Specifically, Spider-Man changed all of that. Now we were looking more at making the costume as closely resemble the source material as possible, like Cap and the Avengers and Thor and Green Lantern and Hellboy ect….and it also defined the Superhero movie as THE blockbuster event of the summer.

And that’s where we’ve been for a while. In fact, we’ve kind of gone from a comic book movie being an event because it’s so rare, to any other kind of blockbuster being an event because it’s so rare. Remember Independence Day? Mission Impossible (two was my favorite)? Godzilla? How about the original Total Recal or Terminator 2? Demolition Man? We don’t see these movies so much now because the Superhero movie has taken their place. Indeed, one of the reasons The Expendables has been such a big deal is because the 80’s action movie has become nearly extinct.

Which brings me to my point. How long can this last? We’ve been on the superhero blockbuster ride for a decade now and what really has me thinking about this is The Avengers. It seems to me that with the Avengers, the comic book blockbuster has reached critical mass. It’s a brilliant achievement in of itself, and really the epitome of everything Avi Avrad was trying to do when he set Marvel down  the path to making movies (his belief was that film was where Marvel would make it’s money and was the future of the company) in the 90’s.

But where do we go from here? Already the landscape is changing again. The Dark Knight seems to be the new template, judging by the look of The Amazing Spider-Man and Man of Steel. If Superhero film is moving in that direction, then the Avengers is already falling behind. And as DC moves forward to try and duplicate the success from the Avengers, the glut of Superhero movies on the market is only going to get worse, making market fatigue inevitable…and quickining it’s progress.

That’s really my fear. That it becomes so common place it breeds contempt. Without some new innovation, a REAL game changer (not just an tonal change like we got from the Dark Knight) that Hollywood will ride this train into the ground, until Superhero movies become box office poison. 

And here’s the really scary thought to me both as a comic fan and as a comic artist on Violent Blue

Because comics these days are so heavily tied to the movie properties to support them, when the Comic Book movie goes back underground or vanishes completely for a while (like it did in the seventies)…what happens to comic books?


Anniversary

Today is my Wedding Anniversary (I know some of you were thinking this would be a Violent Blue anniversary. Nope, more important.)

So why is there a picture of Superman here? Simple. The new film “Man of Steel will come out next summer, durring my 11th year of marriage.

The traditional gift for 11 years is Steel.

Just saying. God is paying attention.


Wonder Woman

This has been sitting on my shelf since I got it at Monster Bash in June. I probably could have located it myself with enough effort but sometimes it’s nice th just let the bootleggers do their work. They gave me a good deal on it too, and bundled it with the Spider-Man musical.

I’ve heard a couple of people tak about how much they wish this series would have gotten made. I certainly can see my following it for at least the frist couple of months and then checking in on it every now and then. I can see myself following it with my daughters (who really liked the scenes with Wonder Woman).

The story is okay, but not the really great kind of narrative you need for a pilot. It feels more like a mid season filler story. Definitely part of the series, but if you missed it, you wouldn’t get lost. I really like that it’s not an origin story. It starts the series with everyone and everything already established. This used to be standard (Star Trek, I’m looking at you.) and in a lot of ways works better. Too many origin stories slow things down instead of moving us into the story.

My biggest problem with this series is Adrianne Palicki herself. I’m not going to go down the tired old road of saying no one can compare to Lynda Carter. Though comparisons are unavoidable, it’s completely beside the point. Palicki ‘s greatest flaw is  that she lacks the strength and confidence to play this character. Her voice is too light…airy. When she gets quippy, it sounds like a 22 year old celebutant, not a strong amazon warrior. Watch the Justice League cartoons. The voice is just a touch deeper, but what it really resonates is gravitas. Even that 19-20 year old Lynda Carter stood and spoke with enough poise that I had no problem believing she was mature, immortal and strong. Palicki  just skews too young. She doesn’t look stable when she stands heroically and she shuffles when she walks, like she doesn’t know how to move in heels (not all women do, not all women need to. But if you’re going to play Wonder Woman, yeah, you really do). The contrast is at it’s most stark during the end confrontation with Elizabeth Hurley (possibly the best thing about this show.) who takes long confident strides and radiates feminity.

By the way, Palicki has a couple of beauty marks that drive me nuts too. One on her jaw and one in between her eyebrows. It’s completely shallow of me and I realize that they make Palicki unique and beautiful, but they don’t belong on Wonder Woman and I just can’t stop staring at them.  $1.00 worth of greaspaint could have solved that problem. Hmmm. That sounds like a good idea for a Violent Blue strip.

The costume is fine with me. It gives the necessary impression and color it needs too and by the way, if you really hate the pants, well they turn into the more familiar bikini bottoms for the final showdown. I think they might have gotten a lot less criticism for the look if they had leaked one of those pictures on the web ahead of time.  Really, the whole look for the series is slick and cool. The fight sequences are stunning. Better than anything even the animateds managed to do. The plane isn’t invisible, but looks cool enough that we forgive it. There’s a fleet of them and it works in the context.

So what’s the final verdict? It’s kind of like the current series of Doctor Who. I don’t hate Matt Smith. He is nowhere near one of my favorites, but I don’t mind him. I’ll watch the series and be happy it’s still on, even though I’d rather be watching David Tennent. That’s how I feel about this Wonder Woman. I would have watched it and been content, while wishing they’d chosen someone else for the role. I’m not happy it got passed on, but perhaps it’s for the best, especially if it results in a better product soon. I suspect it may. DC has seen the success with Marvels Avengers and they know they need to get their tails in gear. I suspect we’ll see Wonder Woman on a screen, either big or small, sooner than you may think.


Robocop!

You know, I used to love the Robocop cartoon on Fox kids (or as they were calling it back then “Fox Action Theater”) but always wondered what they were thinking making a cartoon out of an R Rated movie. Of course I also found myself wondering why they would make a movie that – from the poster art – looked like it would be perfectly geared towards kids and rate it R. I have vivid memories of going to the Avon Lake Theatre (with the marquee all lit up in sparkling moving lights) and staring at the huge cardboard stand up in the lobby – this same image of Robocop getting out of his car, and lamenting the fact that I wouldn’t get to see it.

Of course I caught it on TV years later. Even recorded that TV edited version and watched it over and over through the years. Then my friend Mike got the Criterion cut – the nc17 version. Wow. Talk about over the top violence. The directors commentary on it is really good as well and gives you a much better idea of what was going through Verhoven’s head at the time.

I doubt this will be that criterion cut so it may feel like some things are missing, but I still can’t wait to see this on the big screen. I’ve been waiting for this opportunity since I was 11. If you’ve got five dollars burning a hole in your pocket, come on out to the Cedar lee and join me this Saturday at midnight. And remember,  there will be a new Violent Blue up tomorrow!


Darkman this weekend

I was in my 30s before I saw Darkman. I think I avoided it for so long because it’s really Sam Rami’s consolation prize because he couldn’t do a film version of The Shadow. That’s a shame because you can see the potential here.

I’ve only seen it once ,and that was on DVD. I’ll be heading out to the Cedar Lee this Saturday night to see it properly on the big screen. Feel free to join me!

Don’t forget, there will be a new Violent Blue up tomorrow!