Monday, July 29, 2013

One Fan's Reactions to SDCC 2013: Part 2 (Age of Ultron)

       As mentioned in the previous article, the sequel to The Avengers will be titled The Avengers: Age of Ultron. This is the second and final bit of news that I'll go into any depth into regarding SDCC 2013. Let's talk some of the decisions they're making with the follow up to the third highest box office pull of all time. First of all, the 2015 film will have absolutely nothing to do with the on-going, oddly-familiar-sounding series Age of Ultron by Brian Michael Bendis.
       Well, this pisses me off to no end. If it has nothing to do with the series, why name it the exact same thing as the series?! Especially because the series is so fresh in our minds as it just came out. Did they just get lazy and say "well, we don't really like the comic, but damn that's a catchy title. I'll take it!" Come up with an original title if you don't want to base the story on the content of the thing the title is based on.
      The other bit of information announced regarding the Avengers sequel is the actual creation of Ultron. Whedon announced: "The other thing is in the origin story there was Hank Pym, so a lot of people assumed he was going to be in the mix, but he's not". Well, just what the hell is that about? Hank Pym's going to be starring (presumably, although there are a few other Ant-Mans? Ant-Men? out there) in the Ant-Man movie, directed by quite possibly my favorite director Edgar Wright. So, wouldn't it stand to reason that Hank would have some involvement in the creation of that character he created? It's also worth noting that Whedon said that he's not going to "be in the mix", probably meaning he won't appear at all and will probably be saved for The Avengers 3.
       Hank is a character defined by his major mistakes (as fellow Nerdi, Phil, has pointed out): hitting his wife, Janet (it's time to get over it people), and creating Ultron. Originally, Ultron was a bit of a Frankenstein's monster who grew to hate his father and fall in love with his father's lover, Janet aka Wasp. To me it would be silly to take this away from him as it would add some depth to a character who could appear redundant with at least two other super geniuses already in the Avengers (Bruce Banner and Tony Stark). But the talk so far is that Ultron will be created either by Tony Stark or appear at the end of Captain America: The Winter Soldier. One possible way that I could see this going down is one of the Iron Man suits goes haywire and gets corrupted and bam, we have Ultron (or perhaps even more interestingly JARVIS gets corrupted and turns against his maker. That oughta piss the fanboys off).

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

One Fan's Reactions to SDCC 2013: Part 1 (Batman vs. Superman)

Maybe Trask is compensating for something...

Another San Diego Comic Con has come and gone. With it have come a couple of pretty huge announcements, and a few underwhelming ones. The much anticipated Avenger's sequel got an official title: The Avengers: Age of Ultron, along with some news about the film. A long-awaited Flash movie has finally been officially announced for 2016. Also, Peter Dinklage has been confirmed to be playing Bolivar Trask, the creator of the Sentinels in X-Men: Days of Future Past (something most fans kind of guessed already), as well as a pretty good view of the new Sentinels.

But the most spectacular bit of news out of SDCC is that DC has all but assured that every human will see the sequel to Man of Steel by announcing that Batman will appear in it. Let’s start with the surface level stuff. They plan on naming the upcoming film some variation of Batman vs. Superman or Superman vs. Batman. This is such a completely uninspired choice. It’s basically just a way to build the synopsis right there into the title. Pretty boring, uninteresting stuff. As we go a little deeper, Zach Snyder had Harry Lennix (who plays General Swanwick in Man of Steel) read a particularly interesting, and badass, line of dialogue from one of the best stories in the DC universe, The Dark Knight Returns, by Frank Miller:  "I want you to remember, Clark…in all the years to come…in your most private moments…I want you to remember…my hand…at your throat…I want…you to remember…the one man who beat you".

The aforementioned badass line.
 Snyder later confirmed that the BvS movie won't be a direct adaptation of the graphic novel, but it will draw inspiration from it. Here's where I have a few questions and I'm sure all comic fans have pretty similar ones. How much inspiration are we talking? If you just mean it's going to feature a battle between Batman and Superman, then that barely even qualifies. But so much of The Dark Knight Returns depends upon Bruce being an older gent (about 55) after he retires from crimefighting and hangs up the ol' cape n' cowl. A relationship between Clark and Bruce has been established long ago and Supes is basically a government stooge. That certainly doesn't seem to fit into the Man of Steel universe which involves a much younger version of Clark and presumably a younger version of Bruce. Also, the involvement of Oliver Queen, as an old, one-armed Green Arrow, in the comic is of the most wonderful bits, which I doubt would be part of the "inspiration" Snyder is thinking about.

As far as casting the new Batman, I'm really sick of hearing people pretty much throw out the biggest names in movies right now. I never need to hear Bradley Cooper, Ryan Gosling or Jon Hamm's names in connection with anyone in the DC universe ever again. It would be so hard for me to see these people as such an iconic character because they are so established already and people have such strong associations with them (the one exception to this in my mind is Michael Fassbender. He is already an established star but I'll see him in absolutely anything, including Shame where he wasn't as much the star as much as his penis was).
That jawline screams Bruce Wayne to me.
 I think the best way to go is to cast a familiar face but not quite established star, much as they did in casting Henry Cavill for Supes. I think Karl Urban would be a good choice here, although even he may be too familiar to anyone with real nerd-cred. I think this could work particularly well in a Frank Miller-esque Batman character (who seems to be pretty gruff and serious, with a grim sense of humor).

      That's it for the Man of Steel sequel news/opinions. Sound off in the comments and let us know what you think. Tune in tomorrow for my Avengers: Age of Ultron thoughts. Same Bat-time, same Bat-channel.

Friday, July 19, 2013

The Walking Dead: Season 4 Teaser

The Untold History of X-Men: Days of Future Past

SDCC has arrived along with DOFP photos and news. Lets start with some awesome photos that we found today. The first photo is Wolverine with gray hair. In the comic version and animated show, Wolverine is one of the sole survivors of the X-Men. In the comic book, he survives along side Kitty Pryde. Although, the animated cartoon does the story a little differently. Instead of Kitty, Wolverine is working alongside Bishop to stop the extinction of the X-Men and stop an X-Man from killing Senator Kelly. The cartoon's version of the future: After the Senator was killed, the Government passed the Sentinel Program.  Do you remember Singer's original take in the first  X-Men ? Senator Kelly was killed in the first one and then Mystique took on the appearance of Senator Kelly. Ok, now stop and take a breather because the connecting of the dots does not end here.
Earlier this week, non-comic purists across the globe went bat-shit crazy. According to I09, "In Singer’s take, Ellen Page returns as Kitty from the Brett Ratner–directed X-Men: The Last Stand, but this time she uses her powers to send Hugh Jackman’s Wolverine back into the past, where he encounters the younger mutants..." My guess is that her phasing ability somehow powers up their time machine. In the comic book, DOFP-Kitty transfers her mind to her past self. Yeah, I know. You might be scratching your head but stay with me. To be honest, the last time I read DOFP was in 2000. I definitely do not remember what Kitty did to teleport her mind through time but we should save judgment until we see it get laid out on the big screen.

The most recent rumor is the after-credit scene in The Wolverine that leads directly into Days of Future Past. My guess is that Kitty sends DOFP-Wolverine mind into present day Wolverine and then teleports him to the 60s-70s to stop Bolivar Trask from creating the Sentinels. DOFP is having a panel at SDCC, so expect to see some footage.

Here is a list of mutants that will be in DOFP

First Class Mutants:

Original Trilogy:
Cyclops (Rumored)

New Characters:
Bolivar Trask
The Sentinel Program

Thanks to our buddy at Fanboy Radio, we have a photo of Singer's Sentinel. Fanboy Radio saw similarities with Transformer's Bumblebee but take a closer look. The Sentinel is a mix of Bumblebee/a Terminator and the robots from I, Robot. Since the original trilogy, fans have been begging for Sentinels and I don' think we will be getting the Sentinels we want. I expect oversized robots that are about 15 feet tall instead of the size of a typical skyscraper.

Thursday, July 11, 2013

The Only Pro-Lone Ranger Review You Will Find

When I was approached to do a guest review of The Lone Ranger, I was ready to pass it up. Yes, I'm an avid movie lover and yes, I enjoy discussing and ranting about movies just as much as the next guy, but I'm not a writer by any stretch. I've never written a review of anything in my life (my review of World War Z notwithstanding), except maybe an extremely negative review for The House on Mango Street in English class. So what convinced me to decide to write this review? The fact that I've only read bad reviews for The Lone Ranger when I feel that it deserved a great one. That being said: basic plot spoilers ahead.

The movie starts with John Reid (played by Armie Hammer - The Social Network), a law school graduate heading home to Colby, Texas where he is to become the town's prosecutor. Aboard the same train as John, two prisoners are being transported to Colby; Tonto (played by Johnny Depp - A Nightmare on Elm Street), a Native American who was arrested for just that--being native American, and Butch Cavendish (played by William Fichtner), a murderer and our lead baddie for the movie. Cavendish's men take over the train and break him out of the train's prison. John and Tonto try to save the day, but Cavendish escapes and the train ends up crashing near Colby. John's brother Dan (played by James Badge Dale - Iron Man 3, World War Z) is the leader of the Texas Rangers, the law enforcers of Colby. When John returns home, his brother Dan makes him an honorary Texas Ranger and the Rangers set off to find Cavendish. The gang of Rangers are ambushed and all of them are killed by Cavendish's men. John is presumed dead by Tonto, who happens to stumble across the dead Rangers and digs graves for all of them. When John wakes up in his grave, Tonto believes him to be a "spirit walker", which is a man who can not be killed. Tonto convinces John to wear a mask; since he is assumed dead by Cavendish and his men, it could prove useful if he were to hide his identity. John vows to bring Cavendish to justice for killing his brother, so him and Tonto set off to find him.

The first thing you need to realize about a movie like The Lone Ranger, is that you're not walking into the theater expecting to see an instant classic. This isn't No Country For Old Men, this isn't Gangs of New York or The Departed, it won't be winning any Academy Awards next year--sorry to disappoint. You're walking into a film made by the same people who brought you Pirates of the Caribbean: a movie with big-name actors, a fun story, lovable characters, and plenty of action. Slap a PG-13 rating on it and it's fun for the whole family. That's exactly what I expected from The Lone Ranger and that's exactly what it gave me. There are loads of humorous character moments, plenty of quirky dialogue, fun action sequences, and an elaborate story that did not leave me disappointed. All the elements that make for a fun western were present which was backed by a cast of excellent actors. The dynamic between Hammer and Depp is fantastic (perhaps Depp's portrayal of Tonto is pretty much what you'd imagine, but I wouldn't have wanted anything less). Hammer makes for a believable law student turned vigilante and his progression from one to the next makes for a humorous, light-hearted, clumsy protagonist. Few actors actually intimidate me on screen, but Fichtner is one of them--and this role was his time to shine. A dirty, mentally insane anti-hero who literally eats the hearts of his victims was enough to convince me that he would be a sizable adversary for our heroes. My only critique? Ruth Wilson wasn't babe enough for Armie Hammer. A very believable damsel-in-distress type, but.. let's up the babe-factor in the sequel, guys (if it ever manages to get one). 

One last comment I'd like to make is about the character Tonto. I've read numerous reviews saying that Tonto was made out to be the butt of all of the movie's jokes and that it's offensive to Native Americans. That he's portrayed as more of a fool than a trickster and this upset some people. I didn't see this at all. In fact, the other Native Americans in the movie point out that Tonto is a bit of a moron. That he's a little peculiar and very different from the other Native Americans which is what makes his character a bit of an outcast. I don't think that could of been made any more clear.

I can understand that The Lone Ranger came after a long line of blockbuster movies this summer (Iron Man 3, The Great Gatsby, Star Trek, Fast 6, Man of Steel) and perhaps the bar was set a little too high, but by no means does it deserve to be such a big flop. But hey, at the end of the day I suppose the box office doesn't lie. Let's be real though, who'd of thought Despicable Me 2 would of doubled it's production budget in it's opening weekend...

My overall rating of The Lone Ranger: 87%

Reviewed by Michael Lombardo

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

Our First Ever Video Review: Man of Steel

For weeks, we were either lazy or busy and did not have time to do a review for Man of Steel. Today, Brian and I have reunited and told the world our thoughts on Man of Steel. It is without a doubt the most polarizing film this year. Brian and I don't throw punches at each other during this debate but we definitely do not agree on most topics.

Several topics that we discuss:

Should Man of Steel be considered a dark film?

What plot holes upset us and which easter eggs did we like?

Was Man of Steel an origin story?

What would it take for Superman to kill again?

Didn't Superman kill General Zod in Superman 2?

Did Superman commit genocide?

What happened to mild mannered Clark Kent?

How many Smallville references were in Man of Steel?

Minor edits in retrospect of our video review:

City Damage: In Man of Steel, $2 trillion for Smallville/Metropolis. In Avengers, $160 billion for New York City.

Easter Egg: Blaze Comics published a Booster Gold comic within the DCU.

If you want to watch it straight from Youtube, click here

Let us know thoughts, comments, opinions and condemnations!

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

First Ever Special Guest Review: World War Z

What I recalled as a drunken promise to do one movie review turned out to be a drunken promise to do two movie reviews.  Seeing as I might end up doing more of these in the future (or at least promising to do them while i'm drinking), the least we can do is get acquainted.  So, hello!  I'm Mike.  And although this about a week too late, why don't we sit back, push our golden Brad Pitt locks behind our ears, and have a little chat about World War Z.

In a world where The Walking Dead has made zombies cool again, Max Brook's best-selling novel World War Z has been turned into a feature film... Or at least the title was. The novel follows a journalist who travels the world conducting interviews with people following the events of the zombie apocalypse.  From what I can tell, the only thing the movie retained from the book is it's title.  I'll do my best to keep this as spoiler-free as possible, but.. tread lightly, spoilers ahead.
Gerry Lane (played by Brad Pitt - Legends of the Fall, Thelma and Louise) is a loving husband and father to two daughters.  He was once one of the UN's best investigators, but he's left his job in order to be a stay-at-home dad and remain closer to his wife and kids.  One morning while out driving with his family, there's some sort of accident on the road that causes traffic to come to a standstill.  Gerry exits the car to find out what's happening, when all of a sudden there are explosions, cars crashing, and all hell is breaking loose.  Zombies are hurling themselves at civilians, biting and scratching and turning people into ruthless killing machines in a matter of seconds.  When the virus starts getting out of control and taking over big cities, the government brings Gerry in to travel the globe to investigate where the disease originated so that they could maybe find a way to cure it.  

World War Z was much different than what I had anticipated.  The trailer made it seem like a frantic struggle for survival in a world taken over by an ever-expanding number of blood-thirsty zombies.  Actually, the trailer never made mention of the word "zombie" at all, which is why I was surprised when "zombie" was tossed around so often in the movie.  Instead of an edge-of-your-seat/ what's-around-the-corner kind of zombie flick, World War Z reminded me more of Zero Dark Thirty.  Most of the movie is Brad Pitt travelling the globe in search of answers, meeting with scientists and the military in order to find clues that could lead to a cure.  Of course there are zombie attacks mixed in-between, but they're almost always predictable.  Anytime Gerry expects there to be some sort of danger, there's danger.  And with such a large scale zombie outbreak, we're talking hordes of zombies--too many to fight, so most of the time everyone is just running away.  This movie is definitely big on adventure, but it's PG-13 rating kind of hindered the violence and blood.  For example, there's a scene where Gerry knocks down a zombie and then smashes it's head in with a crowbar.  The crowbar gets stuck in it's head and all we ever see is Gerry from the waste up.  It was almost confusing when he's trying to dislodge the crowbar because I wasn't sure why or how it became stuck in the first place. 

One problem I tend to have with zombie films is their ending--especially when the outbreak is on such a large scale, there's no way to ever recover from that. You're lucky if your "happy ending" is a "well, I guess that's the best we could do!". That's sort of how we're left in World War Z. Gerry doesn't find a "cure", but he finds out that the zombies are only looking for healthy hosts. Gerry's solution is to inject terminal, but curable diseases into the living so that the zombies leave them alone. And it works. It's an interesting idea, but you're still left with a world full of zombies that will continue to make more zombies until you can inject every single person with a terminal disease... which they will eventually need a cure for or they'll die anyway. The movie is left open for a sequel which may remedy my need for a "happy ending". Otherwise, I'd say World War Z was your average zombie flick.

My rating for World War Z: 65%
Reviewed by Mike Lombardo