Category Archives: Films

My Time with Azog and the Ghastly Crotch of Doom

Not particularly being a fan of The Hobbit or The Lord of the Rings, I was concerned about my capacity for objectivity when my editor at The Comixverse asked me to review The Bridge Direct‘s 6″ Azog figure. Most of my thoughts towards Tolkien’s works can be best summarized by the character Randal in the film Clerks II, so I didn’t approach this task with my usual enthusiastic, ride-or-die zeal. Two months of procrastination later, I crawled out of my cave and gave it a whirl.

It turns out thatvAzog is a pretty sweet figure that I was able to take some great photos of, all while developing appreciation for a collectible outside my typical purveyance of transforming robots and superpowered spandex jockeys. His spooky loincloth had me at hello, without having to mimic RenΓ©e Zellweger’s perpetual bitter beer face or shoplift the pooty to get the message across.

So, whaddya waiting for?! Go on and check it out here and feel free to share your thoughts.

A final warning to the weak of heart: beware of the phantasms emanating from Azog’s pelvis, lest they devour your mind and steal your soul.

image

Advertisements

Batman and the Daredevil of Hollywoodland (aka Affleck was the Bomb in Phantoms)

affleck west batman-picsay

By Nick Saunders
8/28/13

I love being a geek. It allows me to hold dearly onto childhood passions under the guise of being idiosyncratic, fun-loving, intellectual, and different. The truth is I just never grew up, and while most men of my age get all hot and bothered about the latest Callaway driver or the rising value of their diversified stock portfolio, I on the other hand get my jollies from the latest Transformer, Action Figure, or Superhero film to be revealed.

Which brings me to today’s topic, the casting of Ben Affleck as the new Batman. Why are all these people foaming from their collective rabid mouths with such embittered nerd rage? The backlash has been so immense from the fan community that there currently is a petition on Change.org with over 85,000 signatures on it to reverse the casting decision. Something tells me that the individuals who founded this website weren’t considering the protest of superhero movie actors to be the kind of sweeping public policy reform they were hoping to invigorate.

But back to the lecture at hand. From this young G’s perspective, before trashing Affleck we should take an objective gander at his career thus far. Yes, during his meteoric rise to fame he made some awful films whilst firmly nuzzled up to J-Lo. The usual suspects come to mind- Phantoms was garbage, Reindeer Games wack, and Gigli is an everlasting example of the pitfalls encountered when a power couple drinks too much of their own Kool-Aid and believes their hubris alone will translate into cinematic gold.

However, Good Will Hunting was a very good film, one for which his contribution tends to be severely overlooked, despite winning an Oscar and a Golden Globe for co-authoring the screenplay. He was compelling in his portrayal as the embattled Superman actor George Reeves in Hollywoodland. He showed he has directorial chops in Gone Baby Gone. The Town was tight. In Argo he acted and directed his way to a Best Picture Oscar. This guy hasn’t had a misstep in over half a decade.

Even Daredevil catches him an inordinate and unjustified amount of flack. I went back and rewatched it recently, and it is not a bad film. When I think of terrible superhero movies, I think of Spawn, Ang Lee’s Hulk, Ghost Rider, and Spiderman 3. Daredevil was better than all these stink nuggets combined, which is an empirical fact because I just published it on the interwebs.

Let’s keep an open mind here people. Michael Keaton, who initially appeared to be horribly miscast in Tim Burton’s Batman films, was a surprisingly good fit for the tights. George Clooney, who I initially thought was a perfect choice for the role, almost killed the franchise by coating it in an impenetrable veneer of fail. I figured Val Kilmer would suck as Batman, and I was right. And Christian Bale, well I didn’t know who the heck he was to even have an advance opinion. But he was pretty dang good.

The moral of the story is that social justice should not be intermingled with fanboyism of any sort, and that history dictates that unconventional casting has worked for Batman films in the past.

Enter The Wolverine: Will this gaijin warrior have any honor?

image

By Nick Saunders
7/9/13

I need to start off by saying that I freaking love Wolverine. How much you ask? Let’s just say I successfully lobbied to name my first-born son Logan. Growing up in the late 80’s and early 90’s when the X-Men exponentially increased in popularity (or blew the hell up in layman’s terms), he was a household name to my brother and I.

He’s The Fonz of the X-Universe; the epitome of cool. In the span of one issue, he could down a case of beer, make out with Jean Grey behind Cyclops’ back, kill a dozen ninjas, and make it home in time to read Jubilee a bedtime story- all the while puffing on the fattest stogie. Β Also, he made having excessive body hair socially tolerable, something which I would come to appreciate later in life.

On July 26, The Wolverine will be released in theaters as a sequel to 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine. There is a fair amount of skepticism within the fan community as to whether this movie will be a) good b) true to the comic or c) complete bastardized garbage the likes of, well, X-Men Origins: Wolverine.

Personally, I enjoyed the first installment, but the current 38% rating on Rotten Tomatoes clearly places me in the minority. All you have to do to enjoy it is completely ignore the parts where they made Deadpool a mute automaton with pseudo-Wolverine claws, Maverick an Agent Smith wannabe, Patrick Stewart a mannequin, and Sabretooth a brunette. Okay, so basically if you watch anything besides the intro sequence and the adamantium infusion procedure it was pretty heinous.

This new film has promise though. An Oscar-winning director is at the helm with James Mangold (Cop Land, Girl, Interrupted, Walk the Line), which lends some cinematic credibility to the project.

The choice of focusing the story on Wolverine’s time in Japan, as presented originally in the 1982 Chris Claremont/Frank Miller Wolverine miniseries, is also compelling. Based on the trailers released thus far, at minimum we will see Wolverine battle Hand ninja and the Silver Samurai. It also appears based on casting information his conflict with the Yashida Clan and romance with Mariko Yashida will be included as well. What I would really like to see is the director tell the story of Wolverine’s training with his bushido master, Ogun. In the comics, I have always found Wolverine’s embedded samurai code of ethics to be a fascinating facet of his character.

The problem for me is that the X-Men films have been so hit-or-miss. I don’t know that I can categorize any of them as great films, partially due to my fanboy-fueled frustration with any gross straying from source material (see tantrum-inducing Deadpool example from above as example). I plan to see this movie the week it is released, and genuinely want it to be good. However, I can’t get the nagging thought out of the back of my head that keeps groaning, “God I hope they don’t fudge this one up too.”

In short, this Fonz best not jump the shark.

image

All this whining over a broken neck (Man of Steel)

image

By Nick Saunders
7/1/13

If you are reading this post I will make an educated assumption that you have seen the film in question. If not, go see it first so I don’t have to receive death threats for spoiling your experience.

I want to throw my humble opinion out there regarding this most recent addition to the Superman mythology.

At the end of Superman’s climactic battle with Zod in Man of Steel, he over-torques the villain’s spinal cord and reluctantly ends his life. A family of humans is spared a country-fried death.

Many would have you believe that this is a travesty and that Zack Snyder ran our beloved hero into the dirt by having him break a cardinal rule.

This is not Batman. Superman’s psyche was not molded by the murder of his parents and does not possess the dark, damaged nature of his Gotham City contemporary. Superman has killed when absolutely necessary. Heck, in the comics he killed Doomsday at least two times that I can recall, Hank Henshaw a couple of times, would have killed Darkseid in Final Crisis had his own temporally-displaced bullet not done it first, and the list goes on. Even in that miserable film Superman IV, he threw the golden mullet-adorned Nuclear Man in a nuclear reactor and destroyed him. That’s right, even Christopher Reeve did not believe in the rehabilitation of super-powered homicidal maniacs.

This leads to my next point- this is not 1978 and Christopher Reeve has passed on. If the idealized, “aw shucks Lois that blouse really looks swell on you” characterization still resonated, why did everyone crap all over 2006’s Superman Returns? Brandon Routh should be a household name if that held true, yet instead of making more films as Superman he became Dylan Dog.

Snyder took a risk and presented a conflicted, yet relatable Kal-El to the audience. One who will do what is horrifyingly necessary to protect the people and planet he loves from virtually omnipotent would-be decimators. He did not do so lightly or sans remorse.

Killing is sometimes needed to defeat unspeakable, unrelenting evil. Some 70 years ago, staunch pacifism would have turned our country into a happy little place called the United States of Germany.

Superman has grown up, perhaps we all should follow suit.