Saturday, February 26, 2011

Inception: Oscar Dark-Horse?

The Oscars are tomorrow and I am all but certain that it's going to be a two pony race photo finish between The Social Network and The King Speech taking the top prizes. I've already said who I think will win Best Picture and honestly if Th e King Speech wins I will be sorely disappointed. I mean, in a year of amazing movies that movie winning would be like Shakespeare in Love beating Saving Private Ryan... wait, that actually did happen. Does it have to do with recall, does a movie have to have fresh buzz to remain noteworthy? Seriously, of all the movies nominated for best picture which movie had the most buzz and staying power... Inception. 

Look at the numbers... Inception holds a 86% Rotten Tomatoes score (weighed down by internet bloggers like yours truly) and made over 823 million dollars at the box office alone. A summer movie with great reviews and a truly original idea to get behind... dreams within dreams with dreams, zero-G fights, upside-down streets, an epic Hans Zimmer soundtrack and Leo. You would think that'd be enough. I wonder who makes up the 'Academy' and what criteria they use to do their voting. I mentioned the fact that Saving Private Ryan lost to Shakespeare in Love. What was the reasoning behind that, it was a happy show, with British accents? One of the best visions of one of the most vicious wars to date in stunning graphic detail, and I'm not just talking about violence, lost to a British romance.

I doubt Inception will win any top awards, I just feel like the voters don't want to recognize this movie's merits mainly because it's a summer popcorn flick. It contains one of the most original ideas I've seen, the most complex and self-contained idea since The Matrix.

I mentioned that Daft Punk wasn't nominated for an Oscar for it's score of Tron: Legacy. I sincerely hope Hans Zimmer's score for Inception will win... But in all likelihood, The King's Speech's score will win just because it's British.

For the people who loved Inception a little too much - Here's a video from Weikang on youtube, that features the four dream layers of Inception all in real-time...

Do you think Inception will win anything on February 27th? Tune in to the Oscars @ 8:30

Thursday, February 24, 2011

March Movie Badass Madness

I have something very special planned for the month of March. It started with a voicemail I got from my brother. He asked me to do a subjective argument for which actor was more badass, Kurt Russell or Patrick Swayze. He wanted it to include their movie history and their personal life. His idea was great but it was a little too small. I texted him back with my idea. Next month I will be doing a bracket of movie badasses.

I'm culling through a list of movie stars whose careers have been action movie oriented. I'm slowly working through the large list of A, B and at sometimes C-list movie stars and I'm going to have a 16 actor bracket. Some names that would normally be consider may be dropped outright based on their personally issues tipping the scale against their favor, Mel Gibson comes to mind. Over the month I'm going whittle the actors down to the top two most badass actors around.

Now, here's how I plan to do it.

  • The actors are going to be given an aggregated score based on Rotten Tomatoes movie ratings.
  • Then I'm going to give a point/counterpoint of each actor.
  • The person with the better RT score and best pro to con ratio will win the round and move up in the bracket.
  • If there is a tie I will render the decision based on the RT score of the two actors most recent movie.
I will have a bracket made up before the end of the month so you make you own decisions as to who should be the most badass movie actor around.

I'm open to any and all suggestions as to who should be included in the bracket.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

Green Lantern: Emerald Knights Sneak Peek

One thing Marvel and DC have gotten right recently is their attempts at making animated movies that appeal to a wider range of audiences. I grew up watching Batman, Spider-Man and X-Men cartoons, I even watched the Justice League cartoons and the re-imagined X-Men Evolution cartoon. As my generation got older the subject matter in their cartoons began to become derivative, but a change started with the direct to dvd adaptation of Ultimate Avengers. These animated movies offered the same complex and diverse characters the were written by Mark Millar in the Ultimates. More movies in this vein followed like Invincible Iron Man and Batman Gotham Knights.

These adaptations featured big actors like NCIS's Mark Harmon, William Baldwin and James Woods who voiced Superman, Batman and Owlman in Justice League: Crisis of Two Worlds. Most recently there was an adaptation of Grant Morrison's epic Superman story All-Star Superman which showed the last days of Superman. Law and Order: SVU actor Christopher Meloni voiced a rookie version of the Hal Jordan in the first movie devoted to this summer's sure to be blockbuster Green Lantern, in Green Lantern: First Flight

The next big animated movie based on a comic franchise will be Green Lantern: Emerald Knights, which is based on stories from various Green Lantern books, featuring Nathan Fillion as the voice of Hal Jordan. Fillion was a fan pick for the live action adaptation of Green Lantern (my personal pick as well, but hey Ryan Reynolds will do fine.) He's also appeared in Justice League: Unlimited and was also the voice of Wonder Woman's love interest in an animated movie based on that comic series.

Here's a sneak peek at Green Lantern: Emerald Knights... coming soon to Blu Ray and DVD. 

The next animated movie planned for release is an adaptation of Frank Miller's Batman: Year One.

Saturday, February 19, 2011

The Many Faces of Spider-Man

Spider-Man Has gone through a lot of costume changes over the years. In the weeks leading up to the crossover event Civil War he wore a suit of armor designed by Tony Stark that had 4 metal appendages that could function independently with his arms and legs, like the eight legs of a spider. After revealing his identity to the public and beginning to be hounded by supervillains and the Kingpin he decided to return to an earlier costume design in Back in Black, a costume based on the one he wore while hosting the venom symbiote.  At other periods, and also alternate universes there has been a Spider-man, this was the basis of the videogame Spider-Man: Shattered Dimesions which featured 4 different versions of the wall crawler.

I decided to compile as many different versions of Spider-Man as I could find after I saw that Spider-Man would be donning a new suit for his work with the three surviving members of the Fantastic Four. This white suit looks like a film negative version of the symbiote suit Peter Parker used to wear, but it does look cool. He will be appearing alongside the Future Foundation in starting in The Amazing Spider-Man #658.

Thursday, February 17, 2011

New Thor Trailer Strikes

A new Thor Trailer hit the web today, showcasing Chris Hemsworth's  characterization of Thor, the interations he'll have in Asgard and on Earth and the ass kickery to follow. Check out the new trailer, which also features more Natalie Portman and Kat Dennings, which is never bad.

I for one am excited to see how Kenneth Branagh has crafted the world of Asgard. The last time I saw him doing anything he was holding a live hand grenade under his chin in Valkyrie. The only thing missing from this trailer was Thor should have called for a wench to refill his coffee cup before he threw it to the floor, but I digress. Thor hits the theaters, in 3d, on May 6th.

I hope we one day get a sequel featuring Throg... 

War of the Green Lanterns

Green Lantern has become one of the flagship properties at DC Comics since Geoff Johns decided to bring back Hal Jordan in Green Lantern: Rebirth. Since 2004 he has crafted a trilogy of Green Lantern tales that have reshaped the lantern mythology as well as expanded the universe to include multiple lantern corps based within an emotional spectrum. The summer blockbuster event of 2007 introduced us to the Yellow Lanterns, the Sinestro Corps, named for their leader who was the first to wield a yellow ring. Then last year Johns outdid himself with Blackest Night, a DC Universe engulfing tale that showed both the expansion of the emotional spectrum but the return of dead DC characters as zombie-like Black Lanterns. In the end, the monsters were defeated and a select group of heroes and villains saw their lives returned to them; is has been covered in comics under the banner of Brightest Day.

But things are not exactly bright and shiny in the the lantern corps. A fragile truce between the seven lantern corps is strained by conflict both on earth and the anit-matter universe as something is stirring across the universe. Eventually it is revealed that a believed-lost Guardian of the Universe, Krona, has returned and has been taking emotional avatars to help him in his quest to find an answer to how life began. To stop him fragile alliances have been made between enemies. And as these secrets come into the light there has been infighting between lanterns. This is where we are currently in the pages of Green Lantern, Green Lantern Corps and Green Lantern: Emerald Warriors. 
Coming in the next few weeks will be War of the Green Lanterns, the next big story from writer Geoff Johns. Ideals and friendships will be put to test as the Green Lanterns try to stop whatever Krona has planned for the emotional entities, and life itself. Who will be victorious, will the friendship between earth's four Green Lanterns hold?

Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Whatever Happened to The Runaways?

I've mentioned once or twice how much I enjoyed Brian K. Vaughan's comic book series The Runaways. The idea to have a group of kids running away from their super-villain parents caught the attention of many people. I am such a fan that I went as far as to bash the artist who was doing the art alongside Joss Whedon on a dreadfully-long-delayed story arc, Dead End Kids. That was back in January of 2008, the final issue of that run came out in June of '08.  Things looked up when it was announced that the third volume of The Runaways would start coming out in August of that year Terry Moore taking over as the writer. He released two arcs, Dead Wrong and Rock Zombies in his run as writer with Humberto Ramos taking over for Michael Ryan as the artist. Their style was somewhat goofy compared to what Adrian Alphona had done in the first two and a half volumes.

Then after the end of Rock Zombies, nine issues into the third volume it was announced that Kathryn Immonen and Sara Pichelli would be taking over on the Runaways. They came out with a bang and killed on of the Runaways is their arc, Homecoming. Their run lasted only 4 issues, and then the comic went into hiatus.  That was over a year ago... What's the deal Marvel? There have been rumblings over at Disney, where they are trying to adapt Runaways into a movie that will appeal to young comic book fans... But what about the fans who are waiting (rather impatiently I might add) for some new Runaways. We've been forced see Nico Minoru and Karolina Dean bounce around random comics. Karolina appeared in the limited series S.W.O.R.D. as a supplemental character.

I think is the problem with comic books sometimes. Like with television, it feels like the editors think they know what we want to read better than we do. They focus on the staples of the industry or bleed a property dry and ignore the other properties (how many comic books are currently featuring Wolverine, Captain America and Deadpool, honestly.)

I hope The Runaways will come back, if only for more Jo Chen covers.

The Best Comic Book On the Shelves

I think, Secret Warriors may be the best comic book you can buy today. I say that after reading the first part of the final story arc of the series. The team was created by Brian Michael Bendis and made their debut in the pages of the massive Marvel crossover Secret Invasion. Nick Fury and his second in command, Daisy Johnson had been in hiding since the events of Secret War, where Nick recruited the top Marvel superheroes on a covert mission and the proceeded to whipe their memories of the event. This led to his removal from S.H.I.E.L.D. and during that time he had to work behind the scenes. He helped Bucky Barnes located the assassin who shot Captain America, without ever being seen.

After he helped beat back the Skrulls in Secret Invasion we learned what he had been doing all that time. He learned S.H.I.E.L.D. was a branch of the evil inc. H.Y.D.R.A. who he had been fighting most of his uncommonly-long life. So using his team of unknown super-powered soldiers he took went about destroying as much of H.Y.D.R.A. as he possibly could. This included reuniting with the surviving members of the Howling Commandos who fought alongside him and Captain America during WWII, and drafting as many former S.H.I.E.L.D. agents and operatives as possible.
What makes this book so good is the writing; the stories move with a dynamic flow, calling to mind movies like The Bourne Trilogy or Tom Clancy novels, like The Hunt For Red October.  Hickman has created a tightly wound tale full of espionage, complex characters, betrayal and double crosses. Hickman took the characters first created by Bendis and gave us a reason to follow them; when characters were hurt you felt bad for them and when they died you mourned for them. Stefano Caselli's art is crisp and modern, with some panels utilizing incredible amounts of detail and others using the minimal required detail to articulate something.When you put Hickman's detailed scripts over Caselli's art you get one of the best comic books on the market today. Sadly, there are only three issues left and with what happened in the first part of the final story "Wheels Within Wheels" it will probably go out with a bang.

The Rock Returns for Wrestlemania XXVII

Vince McMahon advertised last week that the host of Wrestlemania XXVII would appear on Monday Night Raw this week and indeed he did. To a MASSIVE pop Dwayne Johnson The Rock returned to the WWE last night. If he doesn't wrestle at Wrestlemania I'll be mad, but I know he's said that he'd never wrestle again... kinda like how Dennis Miller has said he would never reappear on SNL. I must say, that was the loudest I have heard a WWE crowd in a long while. He's probably going to spend half of Wrestlemania advertising Fast Five...

Let's hope Kane walks to the ring and Chokeslams Justin Bieber... Oh yes, he's going to be at Wrestlemania too...

Monday, February 14, 2011

The Spider-Man Reboot is Amazing

The "Untitled Spider-man Reboot" finally has a name, one Spider-man friends should recognize. Andrew Garfield will be donning the revamped Spidey outfit, web shooters included (squee!!), in The Amazing Spider-man. Right now, The Amazing Spider-man is set to be released on July 3, 2012... Sweet, we'll be alive long enough to see the movie and buy it on Blu-Ray before the world comes to an end...

Here's hoping there an homage to the live-action Amazing Spider-man TV series somewhere in this movie. Sony's already got an official website for Amazing Spider-man.

Is it too soon for this movie? Do you think this movie could remove the stink of Spider-man 3?

Movies and Video Games Don't Mix.

One thing that has become common place in the world of entertainment is that when a major motion picture is released, invariably there must be a video game to coincide with it. This has been going on since the NES and SEGA Master System, but is now so common that you've come to expect them. The problem with these officially licensed video games is they are normally poorly made.
Think about it, how many movies have been made into video games since the Atari:

  1. ET: The Extra Terrestrial
  2. The Godfather
  3. Wayne's World
  4. X3
  5. Wolverine
  6. Fantastic Four
  7. Iron Man
  8. Indiana Jones Trilogy
  9. Super Star Wars Trilogy
  10. Home Alone I&II
  11. Batman (and every sequel)
  12. Superman Returns
  13. Scott Pilgrim Vs the World

You get my point. Last year Sega released a game version of Iron Man 2, a 3D enabled Avatar game was released for the PS3, an arcade beat 'em up game based off of Scott Pilgrim Vs the World was released on the PS3 and 360 arcades, and a game based in the Tron: Legacy universe came out after the movie's release. Excluding Scott Pilgrim each of those movie-based games received very negative reviews.  Then Tron: Legacy tie-in game, Tron: Evolution received a D+ rating from and a passing 6.0/10 from, based solely on the fact that it takes more than visual effects and nostalgia to make a good video game.

Is it because the entertainment industry thinks we need to gobble up as much media as humanly possible that they make these games... if we love the movie then surely we'll go out and buy the game? I loved Home Alone as a kid, but I wasn't able to beat the SNES adaptation until I was 22 because it was so darned frustrating (why are Harry and Marv immortal, honestly?) 

I say all of this because two of this summer's sure to be blockbusters have already released trailers for their video game tie-ins... Will they buck the trend, we'll find out together when Thor: God of Thunder and Green Lantern: Rise of the Manhunters are released alongside their movie counterparts for the Wii, PS3, 360 and DS this spring.

Happy Valentine's Day

Saturday, February 12, 2011

Does The Social Network Stand A Chance?

I'm somewhat dreading the Oscars this year... I'd like to say it's because Daft Punk didn't get nominated for Best Score, or the fact that Christopher Nolan did not get a nomination for Best Direction for Inception but those are not the causes of my dread. Roger Ebert does a 'stump the expert' type of competition every year where he makes his Oscar picks for the top 24 categories and then other people make their picks and wait to see if they win prizes, it's like bracketbusting with NCAA Basketball. I trust Ebert's judgement on things about 80% of the time, personally I loved Green Hornet but I also love Seth Rogen, and he and I are in agreement when it comes to this year's Best Picture. It goes like this, The King's Speech will win Best Picture.

Am I happy about this position? No and I'll tell you why. How is it that the best movie of the year, as mentioned by as many outlets that make that designation, is in this situation well I'll let Roger's words explain it best. Read the rest of Outguess Ebert here.
Hollywood churns out violent crap every weekend and then puts on a nice face by supporting a respectable picture at Oscar time. I mean that not as a criticism of “The King's Speech,” which is a terrific film, but as an observation. A British historical drama about a brave man struggling to overcome a disability and then leading his people into World War II looks better to the academy than a cutting-edge portrait of hyperactive nerds.
And he's got a good point. What is it about the British that makes everything they make gold. Shakespeare in Love for example, is a good movie and it won Best Picture over Saving Private Ryan which critics felt is still the most accurate portrait of war that has been done. Don't get me wrong, I loved The King's Speech, but I just don't think it's the best movie of the year... I think it's not even in the top 5. Is it just because the movie is British? Are the stories better in the UK or the people, because their teeth certainly aren't. Or is the speech impediment they reason for the acclaim, because if that's the case then we've got a Tropic Thunder situation on our hands. Who's disability's better - Jessie Eisenberg's Mark Zuckerberg who more than likely has Asperger's or Colin Firth's King George's stammer?

As I write this all I can think about is John Oliver's jokes about the sound of British people's voices. He may be right. But, just because words sound better coming out of Colin Firth than they do out of Jessie Eisenberg does not mean The King Speech should steal the Oscars.

Friday, February 11, 2011

X-Men The First Class Trailer

So I find myself in a very strange situation. As much as I love Matthew Vaughn and what he did with Kick-Ass, Layer Cake and the under appreciated adaptation of Stardust I find myself dreading his X-Men The First Class movie. I know Matthew Vaughn could make an amazing movie about Xavier's original team of gifted young mutants, that's not exactly what's happening. X-Men The First Class was a series of mini series events where the original X-Men team are adjusting to being brand new superheroes entering a world already populated by people like Thor and the Fantastic Four. What they're doing at Fox under the production supervision of Bryan Singer is make a story about the relationship between Charles Xavier and the man who would be Magneto. Even that's not a bad idea in theory, James McAvoy and Michael Fassbender have pretty good on screen chemistry and that part of the movie will probably be good.

Here's my issue with the movie. Instead of doing the movie as a standalone story explaining the relationship between Magneto and Charles Xavier they decided to link this movie to all of the other movies they've made at Fox. The reason for this was so Fox could keep the X-Men rights from reverting back to Disney. As a result they've decided to incorporate a slew of characters that only the hardcore X-fans will know about, characters who've either already been established in the film series' continuity or never be untilized. Instead of Cyclops, Iceman, Marvel Girl and Angel teaming up with Beast we get Havok (Cyclops' brother) and Mystique. That's a deal breaker for me right there. If you're going to make this movie to stick it Disney that's fine, make the movie and call it something else. 

I am interested in a few things, the fact that's it's been described as a 60's cold war spy story with superpowers is interesting and having the secret society The Hellfire Club at the heart of the espionagesque tale is promising. I do also like the fact that the movie features both Mystique and Azazel (Nightcrawler's biological parents) is pretty awesome for the hardcore fan of X-history. 

Check out the trailer for X-Men the First Class

As much as I'm upset over the story choices, I do have to say having January Jones as Emma Frost was an interesting casting choice, the same goes for Kevin Bacon as Sebastian Shaw... I can't wait to see January in one of those skimpy Emma Frost outfits.

My expectations for this movie are very low, especially after seeing Ratner's X-Men 3 and that dreadful Wolverine prequel. What do you call a prequel of a prequel?

Thursday, February 10, 2011

Why Don't They Just Make That Movie?

Dragon Age II is coming out in a few weeks and I showed my dad the trailer for it a few days ago. I showed him Dragon Age: Origins and explained to him that it's basically a choose your own adventure LOTResque RPG with multiple origin stories and multiple endings. He saw the trailer for Dragon Age II and the first thing he said was "Yeah that's pretty cool, why don't they just make that movie?"

It's a valid question. We've reached the point where our technology is good enough where in-game cinematics are as good or better than some movie's CGI scenes. For example, look at the trailer for Dragon Age II.

Maybe the issue is sure they can make the movie, but it would have to be live action. We're seeing this right now with David O Russell trying to get a movie based on the Uncharted franchise off the ground. He wants who he wants to play Nathan Drake, the fans want who they want, and other fans think the movie shouldn't even be made. The original Uncharted game was crafted to be a Indiana Jones-inspired game where you take control of a man like Indiana Jones and play through a movie. Why make a movie about a game inspired by a movie, it just seems way too meta.

We are halfway there though, games like Mass Effect 2 and Red Dead Redemption incorporated cinematic elements into their gameplay. Mass Effect 2 even contained the likeness of Yvonne Strahovski and Martin Sheen who lent their voices to the game. A game coming out this spring called LA Noire features full face mapping for dialogue like James Cameron used in Avatar to show facial expression in the video game characters. LA Noire is set in 40's era Hollywood and you play a detective, the object of the game is to determine whether someone is lying or telling the truth through interrogation.

My dad does have a good point. The Star Wars Old Republic MMO is coming out soon and they've released trailers with massive lightsaber battles, Sith vs Jedi vs Bounty Hunter. I'd love to see this trailer made into a full length movie... It's be better than anything being pumped out by Lucas.

I'd love to see a CGI movie based of Dig Dug

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

Justified Season 2 Premiere

Justified returned tonight with a very strong episode. It picked up immediately where the first season ended with a massive shootout between Marshall Rayland Givens and a group of drug runners. Later in the episode the new foils to the Marshall were introduced. Jeremy Davies joins the cast as a member of a gang of pot growers who have no qualms about killing to protect their business (finally, a show with a LOST alumnae you might actually want to watch.)

The humor is still there, the action is there, the characters are complex and diverse. Do yourself a favor, check out Justified on FX

One of my favorite ads from the Super Bowl just happened to be about Justified. Like the promo that metareferenced Star Wars this ad recalls one of Clint Eastwood's most famous quotes from the Dirty Harry franchise.