The Life & Times of an Auteur.

Commentary on Pop Culture, and maybe creating some of my own.

Thursday, May 31, 2012

Prisoner of War


This is it, finally, ten episodes into season two, we're finally seeing Captain America. The real Captain America and not this Skrulltimate impostor. It's been two months and he's been tortured in ways we can't possibly imagine all so the Skrulls can learn how to break us. But, this is Captain America, he does not break. That being said, Skrulls, you can break the average American by threatening to take away their high speed internet and fast food. Cap is a one in a million minority.

The co-star of this episode has to be Madame Viper, who we're really meeting for the first time... the one we've seen up until now has always been a Skrull, and she looks worse for wear. For appearing in only one episode so far, I felt that they gave her a lot of characterization. The scars on her face were how she learned to hate men like Cap say so much about her past while saying so little. On that note, I'm amazed they remembered the scars when Marvel forgot them over twenty years ago. But, it's not out of the question that the Madame Viper of the comics (first Madame HYDRA, then Viper and now back to Madame HYDRA... I think the name they chose for the show was a nice combination of both) had plastic surgery to remove them. Madame Viper has always been an interesting character in the comics, not to mention nucking futs, so I hope she stays around as a villain once this Secret Invasion arc is over.

Let's see, who else is a Skrull. Agent Quartermain of S.H.I.E.L.D., an A.I.M. scientist, Cobra, and Henry Gyrich. We already knew about Mockingbird and Invisible Woman. Quartermain is pretty high up in S.H.I.E.L.D., so one can only imagine the damage that Skrull is doing. Not sure why they grabbed Cobra as of yet. But the others I get.

We finally get some background on the Skrulls and why they are invading Earth. Same reason the comics gave, Galactus wiped out their world and a religious prophesy decreed Earth as their new one. You don't often see religious fanatics fighting a holy war in animation, and so far Yost and Fine are doing this story much better than Brian Michael Bendis did. Is Galactus' little cameo foreshadowing? Hmm.

I do admit to wondering where the Kree are in all of this. We seem to be getting a brilliant adaptation of "Secret Invasion" but I was expecting an adaptation of the Kree-Skrull War. Well, I'm sure we'll get our answers sooner rather than later, and with Australia's airing schedule, it'll definitely be sooner.

The ending of the episode was brilliant. This is who Cap is, a leader among people. He can unite enemies together to fight against a common foe, if not a greater good. I somehow doubt Madame Viper would ally with Cap to cure cancer... but to defeat and kill an enemy, yes... yes she would. But Cap also inspired Queen Veranke's new plan to subjugate the Earth. We'll see what happens.

You know Marvel Animation, I'm usually not in favor of piracy. But you're murdering this show. We already know it's not coming back, and the fact that you're putting it on hiatus in favor of Craptimate Douchebag-Man (which gets lower ratings than this) shows what little regard you have for this show. If you announced a third season tomorrow, I'd stop watching the Australian airings and wait patiently, but you guys at Marvel Animation have long since decided you didn't want me as a fan, and while I can only speak for myself, I know I am not alone here. I will finish this season, I will likely enjoy it, and then... until there is a regime change, or until you return to a style closer to this, we're parting ways.

Wednesday, May 30, 2012

Nightmare In Red


I would be lying if I said I was looking forward to this episode. I do not like Red Hulk. I do not like anything that has Jeph Loeb's name on it. In fact, I question the taste of anyone who does like anything that Jeph Loeb's name is on. And I felt this way about Loeb long before he slithered his talentless ass into Marvel Animation. But while I still hate the Red Hulk as a concept, there was so much else in this episode that I enjoyed.

I've been wondering when the Winter Soldier would appear and now I have my answer. I was also pleasantly surprised when the Falcon showed up, and was very surprised when we found out that Doc Samson was in on all of this. So the Red Hulk, Winter Soldier, Doc Samson and the Falcon all work for Dell Rusk (who I assume is the Secretary of Defense in this universe too). Dell Rusk has got to be a scary guy if the Red Hulk fears him... and yes, I'm familiar with his story in the comics, but for the benefit of some friends of mine who are unfamiliar, I am keeping a lid on it in this review.

I was glad to see General Ross return, and he's got to be nuts when Maria Hill is the voice of reason in comparison. Although I am surprised that Wasp seems to be on a first name basis with Hill. And I was more surprised with the comic nod about Hill having heard that the Hulk was once grey.

I geeked out at seeing this version of Cap's Kooky Quartet in action, but just when you nearly forget what the overall arc is, Skrulltimate Cap shows his true colors by talking the Hulk into standing down and Banner into turning himself over to the Hulkbusters... and then there were three.

Good episode, I'm looking forward to tomorrow's.

Tuesday, May 29, 2012

The Ballad of Beta Ray Bill


First of all, I must complain about the way this episode was aired. It was intended to air before "Who Do You Trust," and, frankly, with a hiatus coming, I think "Who Do You Trust" would have been a stronger cliffhanger. With that out of the way, on to the episode itself.

More Asgard is always good. I like Thor, I like Odin, I like Sif (much more than I'll ever like Jane Foster), and I like the Warriors Three. This episode introduces Beta Ray Bill, a character I've always had some mixed feelings about. He was introduced in Walt Simonson's run, and a weird alien horse-man being worthy of lifting Mjolnir never quite sat right with me. Of course, neither did introducing characters that weren't from the myths. Obviously I am not consistent with that attitude as I enjoy the Warriors Three, Amora, Skurge, Maleketh, and... gasp... the Avengers. But, I don't know. Something about Bill rubs me the wrong way. I've never been able to put my finger on what it is though.

We continue the plot line of Surtur's return, and he spends the entire episode at his forge, and I am reminded of Sauron if Sauron were a Balrog. I do enjoy how this plot line is shaping up, and judging by upcoming episode descriptions, it's going to get even better. Amora returns also as Surtur's Fire Stripperella. I actually felt bad for her, it's always a good sign when the writers can make you feel bad for someone as contemptible as Amora has repeatedly demonstrated herself to be.

Good episode, and we have two more coming this week... *shifty eyes* and I'll try to get them reviewed ASAP. By the way, does anyone wonder how much fun the voice actors had in the booth with the name 'Scuttlebutt'?

Saturday, May 26, 2012

Beneath


Is it just me or is this the first episode of the entire series that Superboy doesn't appear in? "Beneath" was a rather small episode, especially when compared with the last four, but it served a purpose... it really helped us get to know Batgirl, Bumblebee, and especially Wonder Girl and Blue Beetle better. Wonder Girl might be the biggest power house on the team, but she is also the most naive and inexperienced. While she did come through, I wonder if a black ops team is really the best place for her to cut her teeth.

Psimon makes his return, as does Icicle Jr, Mammoth, Shimmer, and Devastation. Hmm, did they escape fro Belle Reve, or is The Light still in control of the prison? I suppose Hugo Strange could still be the warden as the Justice League had no actual proof that he is in the Light's pocket. Of course, Queen Bee also makes a return as the episode closes, but I won't fanboy about Marina Sirtis' voice this time.

In some ways, Maurice felt more monstrous than any supervillain. I guess it just hits closer to home because Maurice is something very real. When mundane evil and fantasy evil are both presented, at the same time, mundane evil always looks worse. Probably because, it being very real, we can more easily comprehend it. The guy is clearly abusive, and he's a pirate... arrrrrr! ;)

Ty reminded me of Apache Chief from "Superfriends," and I'm sure that was intentional. Is he superhuman? Who are the other teens that Queen Bee's men grabbed? Are they all superhuman? Would make why she bothered make more sense, as I'm sure if being a superhuman wasn't a requirement for whatever the "partner" needs, she could have easily grabbed some Bialyan children.

By the way, if you look at the map of Bialya, it looks as if during the five years, Bialya absorbed Qurac.

Good episode, next week's seems to be about the Flash legacy. I hope Wally and Artemis return again.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

What Does Greg Own?

I decided to post my entire DVD and Blu-ray collection. It's not as big as I would like, but it was originally three times bigger, before I sold most of my collection to help pay to have my car fixed a while back. A lot of these I love, some are guilty pleasures, some are very, very guilty pleasures, some I intend to upgrade to Blu-ray, some I intend to dump as soon as possible... and three I only keep around because Michael Ironside kicked ass as Darkseid.

Sunday, May 20, 2012

Salvage


Yeah, it's really picking up. The first two episodes of the season were good, if a bit jolting. While the new status quo is taking a bit of time for me to get used to, between last week's episode and this one, I think we're going to be just fine.

This episode was divided between two stories; one about Superboy and Blue Beetle, and one about Red Arrow. With the former, we see that Superboy is still mad about M'Gann and La'gaan (and may I add, it sounds weird when the names are said one after the other) being a couple. To which I say, dude... you dumped her. Get over it and date Wonder Girl or something. M'Gann may have been your first love, but she won't be your only love. At the very least I hope she won't be (watch me contradict this point a few paragraphs down).

We finally learn why Blue Beetle was talking to himself, or rather what he was actually talking to. Before "Happy New Year" I knew next to nothing about Blue Beetle, but I was told what the deal with his scarab was... honestly, I wish I wasn't told. I think his armor being sentient and talking to him would have been a really cool revelation. But it didn't make the story any less fun. I liked seeing him in action and getting to know him a little.

And yay, Sportsmaster is back. In some ways, I thought he was the break out villain of the first season, so I am happy he is back and still carrying out the Light's dirty work. Although I do wonder what exactly it was he did to Ugly and Whisper. Wouldn't killing them have made the exact same point? As for who his partner is... I know nothing about DC comics, so I have no idea.

The B-plot was where the real meat of the story was for me. I liked the intervention for Red Arrow, who really does look like a mess. I liked the details in his new character design. It's not just shaggier hair and a five o'clock shadow... he looks malnourished, he's lost a lot of weight. Is the money he was stealing really to find Speedy? Or does he have a drug habit to support like in the comics? Or is it both? Right now, I'm betting on both.

And hubba hubba, Cheshire is back, and what's this... she's Red Arrow's wife? She had his baby? Cool. But what intrigues me here is when and why they got married? What were the circumstances? Cheshire doesn't strike me as the marrying type, I think there is an intriguing story here. I look forward to seeing where this all goes.

Finally, the highlight of the episode for me had to be seeing Wally and Artemis still a couple. I love the fact that they're the ones who made it work. They really took their time to get together, and got to know each other first and become friends before they became a couple. I always thought that was the best foundation to build up a relationship. Superboy and Miss Martian were a couple, but I never got the sense that they were friends too. Well, he was born practically yesterday in season one, and everything she knew she got from a corny sitcom... there just never seemed to be substance to that relationship, and I think that was by design. I'm glad Wally and Artemis got it right, and while I expect to see them back in the hero business soon, I hope they continue to make it work.

Good episode.

Thursday, May 17, 2012

Who Do You Trust


This was a very good episode. The best episode of the season so far, maybe the best episode of the series' entire run. Let me start by saying that I think Josh Fine, Chris Yost, and Frank Paur are doing a better "Secret Invasion" than Brian Michael Bendis did. Easily. This is definitely highlighting the benefit of being able to cherry pick through decades of continuity for the meat and discard the crap. At this point, I would trust "Civil War" in this crew's hands. I always thought that story was a good idea that was poorly executed too.

This episode brings back two characters I've been missing, Nick Fury and Black Widow. I'm glad Nick ditched his weird hybrid design of 616 and Ultimate for the Ultimate look, and I say this as a guy who hates Ultimate. Fury and Widow are two really cool characters, and I kind of wish Widow was an Avenger. But I am enjoying the role she is playing now.

This episode is a culmination of so much that has come before, and setting the stage for everything that will happen from this point onward. I loved the attention to detail when we went back and saw the events of "Widow's Sting" again. This is everything guys like me who love unfolding tapestries love, and everything Jeph Loeb despises. The revelation at the end that Mockingbird is a Skrull, and not just any Skrull, but the queen of the Skrulls (is she Queen Veranke?) took me by surprised, and in a good way. While I love figuring out mysteries, it is nice to be caught completely off guard. Yeah, it would have been fun to have Jessica Drew, but we'd all be watching her and waiting for the reveal, instead of being genuinely surprised.

The camaraderie of the Avengers was a lot of fun to watch, especially the hazing of Ms. Marvel. It made the climax of the episode all the more heartbreaking to see the team split, for the most part. I'm really enjoying Jennifer Hale's performance as Ms. Marvel, she really did sound pained. But the highlight of the episode was Captain America's speech to Hulk, Hawkeye, and Wasp (his kooky quartet). It was honest, noble, heroic, it was vintage Cap... and then you remember that this is actually Skrulltimate Cap and not the true Steve Rogers.

Great episode.

On another note, yes I did read this insider tell all, about life inside Marvel Animation (and it is legit, anyone who says it isn't is kidding themselves, and don't ask how I know). I also listened to this podcast where Man of Action pretty much said that Joe Quesada came to them about making "Ultimate Spider-Man" as a show to appeal to kids and kids alone, and not to "forty year old white men reading comics" and this is why Joe Quesada didn't care for "Spectacular Spider-Man" and why he and Jeph Loeb seem to want to burn Marvel Animation to the ground faster than Hank beating Jan senseless with the crap they are producing now (by the way, USM was getting so much negative feedback, Loeb took down his Facebook page).

Enjoy "Avengers - Earth's Mightiest Heroes," because after finally catching up to DC in terms of animation, they're going to go back to a pre-Batman TAS mindset as soon as this is done... and keep your fingers crossed that the A:EMH episodes produced after the upcoming "Along Came a Spider" don't suck. You'll never see Marvel produce an animated episode of anything like this until a regime change happens, that's for sure. And no, don't blame Disney, they're a lot more hands off with Marvel than most think. I know what I know.

For America!

To quote Doug Walker, Okay people, here's the big test. Battleship comes out this weekend. You all know it's gonna suck, everybody who has seen it says it sucks, even the trailer has had audiences rolling in laughter for how much it's gonna suck. My friends, take it from the words of the great Jay Sherman:



It's already made $215,300,000 in the foreign market. This means it's official, if none of us Americans go to see it, foreigners can never look down on us as being lazy, uneducated dolts ever again. Stay away from the movie, do it for America!

Wednesday, May 16, 2012

Three For the Price of One - Legend of Korra



I admit, as much as I am enjoying this show, I am beginning to wonder if it would be better for me to not post any more reviews until the season is done. But, I did promise this, so I'm going to deliver. I haven't made a final decision on whether or not I will continue episode by episode reviews of Korra.

"The Voice In the Night" was a lot of fun, and showcased just how terrifying Amon can be. That scene at the climax at Aang's memorial was dark. Think about it, she is bound by Equalists, she has the crap kicked out of her, and then Amon gets in her face and threatens her. Fear is a powerful weapon and he utilizes it like a master.

Did anyone notice the flashbacks Korra has whenever she is close to Amon? She had another one in "And the Winner Is..." and Aang was fighting... somebody. We got a clearer look at him the second time. This is either Amon or someone related to Amon. I guess we'll soon find out.

And am I the only one who loved seeing Amon take the Wolfbats' bending away? Loved that.

Now let's talk about love for a moment. I may be in a minority here, but I kind of hope that Korra doesn't end up with either Mako or Bolin. They're both right for her in certain ways but wrong for her in other ways. Honestly, I don't think there is anything long term there for no matter which way it goes. "The Spirit of Competition" was the episode where all three of them acted like idiots and it just got worse and worse and worse. But, I will admit, the scene where Bolin runs away crying had me in stitches. I feel bad about that, because I think we've all been there at least once.

I loved the revelation that Tenzin and Lin used to date. I think most of us were waiting for a falling out between Toph and Aang of some kind. Nope... just exes.

Good episodes, loving this series. Let's see what happens next.

Mako and his true love.

Seeing The Light

Warning, spoilers for season one of "Young Justice."



The more I think about it, the more I realize Vandal Savage is right, and the goals of The Light are noble, in a tough love kind of way. If you don't believe me, watch this...

http://www.cracked.com/video_18398_why-star-trek-universe-secretly-horrifying.html

Keep in mind, this is what Vandal Savage is trying to avoid. And this is why Superman is the greatest threat humanity has ever known and needs to have his head cut off with a Kryptonite blade and thrown into the nearest red sun.

Sunday, May 13, 2012

Just Saying...


We interrupt your regularly scheduled blog to once again bring out the clue-by-four. Last night, some anonymous idiot started something that can basically be boiled down to "stop using your blog to express your opinion!" His problem seemed to stem from my hatred for Superman and "Star Wars." Never mind that I like "Star Wars" and the "Empire Strikes Back," I just don't think the franchise is anything special... and he played a card that annoyed me. "Without Superman you woudn't have..." and "without Star Wars you wouldn't have..." So, let's take this line of thinking to it's logical conclusion, shall we.

Without D.W. Griffith's "The Birth of a Nation" we wouldn't have any of the movies or TV shows we've gotten today. In many ways, it was the first cinematic epic. It was groundbreaking. In 1992, the United States Library of Congress deemed the film "culturally, historically, or aesthetically significant" and selected it for preservation in the National Film Registry. So, by "Anonymous's" logic, we should all love it... or at least not say anything bad about it. Ever. So why do we say bad things about this movie?


Oh yeah, that's why. Remember, in this movie the white actors in black face are the bad guys, and the guys wearing the white sheets are the good guys.



Look up this movie some time, for even more delightful moments. What was the message of the film?  Reconstruction was a disaster, blacks could never be integrated into white society as equals, and the violent actions of the Ku Klux Klan were justified to reestablish honest government. The film suggested that the Ku Klux Klan restored order to the post-war South, which was depicted as endangered by abolitionists, freedmen, and carpetbagging Republican politicians from the North.

But, at the same time, without "Birth of a Nation" there would be no "Star Wars," there would be no "Lord of the Rings," there would be no "Godfather," no "Casablanca," no "Jaws," no "Indiana Jones," no "Avengers," no.... shall I keep going? Yes, I know what it all led to, I know how innovative and influential on the medium the film was... but it is still atrocious and I will still hate it.

The point is, and I am not comparing Superman or "Star Wars" (which I don't hate, two of the films are great!) to the fucking Klan. I am just pointing out that the argument that "Anonymous" was making is bullshit. But then again, he likes to hide his name and identity and be a complete asshole... so maybe this movie will be right up "Anonymous's" alley.

Saturday, May 12, 2012

Alienated


Okay, now I'm hooked on "Invasion." This episode was easily the best episode of the season so far. Easily.

First, let's start with the elephant in the room. When "Invasion" started, three members of The Team were conspicuously absent. Kid Flash, Artemis, and Aqualad. A lot of discussion about the previous two episodes were drowned out by people wanting to know what happened to them. Well, we now know about one of them.

Let's look at Aqualad for a moment, the first leader of The Team. I remember a lot of complaints about him having no personality, that he was boring, etc. I think it's safe to say that Kaldur buried himself into the work. The girl he loved chose his best friend over him, and he was far more hurt by that then he let on. So he buried himself in his duty: serving his king, and leading The Team. It was almost all consuming... but a nice way to distract himself from the pain. Now we know that Tula died, and likely violently... he learned that Black Manta was his father and that his king kept that information from him so he betrayed them and joined up with Black Manta. Maybe this is legit, or maybe he is actually deep undercover for the League. I guess we'll find out soon. Either way, Kaldur has never been as interesting as he is now. Now, let's hope we catch up with Wally and Artemis soon.

We now know what crime Vandal Savage used the six Justice League members to perpetuate. And we also now know that the Green Lantern Corps was not informed. As of yet, we don't know why. But the six members and Hawkman left Earth to answer for their actions and hope for a fair trial. How well will this go? Who knows, but the rule of drama says things have to get worse before they can get better.

I enjoyed all of the little character moments. Batman fighting with Nightwing, Batgirl, and Robin was great. And, much as I loathe Superman, it was nice to see him and Conner working as a team now. It was just cool to see members of the League and the Team fighting side by side... mentor and protege.

We finally see the Light again, and learn that Black Manta has been inducted into it in place of "the disgraced Ocean Master." So disgraced that he never got an episode to himself. This is the one place I feel I must complain a little. I know Ocean Master had a story in the tie-in comic, but that didn't factor into the Light or their plans either. Why was he a member of the Light in the first place? Why not start with Black Manta? I hope we get a flashback or explanation soon, because right now Ocean Master just seems pointless... but that wasn't a flaw of this episode, just a flaw in the overall series.

Great episode, looking forward to the next one.

Thursday, May 10, 2012

Two For the Price of One - Avengers: Earth's Mightiest Heroes


Getting caught up on my reviews. These might be brief, but bear with me. Let's start with "To Steal An Ant-Man."

This has been building up for a long time now, Hank Pym has officially left the Avengers. Honestly, I was never much of a fan of the guy and I'm more than glad to see him go. Ironically he leaves on what just might be his best episode (and I saw the yellow jacket, I know it won't be his last). But for now, he's being replaced by Scott Lang.

I don't know the character of Scott Lang all that well. I've read him die in "Avengers Disassembled" and get brought back in "Avengers - Children's Crusade." And I read him during his fling with Jessica Jones in "Alias" before she broke up with him after finding out she was pregnant with Luke Cage's baby. On that note...

Luke Cage and Iron Fist guest star in this episode, and it was beyond sweet to see them properly translated to animation, unlike those horrid abortions in that other show. I loved seeing them, and I hope we get more of them. I did enjoy when Luke told Iron Fist not to call him "Power Man." I think that was always one of the sillier code names, and it's nice to see that this version of Luke thinks so too.

Nice getting a young Cassie Lang into the show, makes me wonder if we'll see cameos by any other future Young Avengers. We did get to see a much older version of Iron Lad. So that's two Young Avengers... and while I am hoping: now that we've got both Luke Cage and Scott Lang in the show, will Jessica Jones be too far behind? If this show is going to get cancelled, let's at least see that infamous scene where Luke and Jessia drive in the Hershey Highway together.

Good episode. So let's move on to "Michael Korvac"


I never read the original Korvac story, but I did enjoy this. Korvac made his grand appearance in the same section of Central Park that Spidey and the Sinister Six tore up back in 2008, just FYI.

Josh Fine wasn't kidding when he said this was the "cosmic season." We've got Adam Warlock and the Guardians of the Galaxy. I don't think Warlock was a member of the Guardians in the comic, but I could be wrong. Interesting that he already has the Soul Gem.

Michael Korvac was abducted by the Kree, experimented on, given super powers and destroys thousands of lives faster than you can say "Hank takes Jan home and beats her senseless." Jan tries to help this guy, because she just loves psychotic men.

I know slim to none about the Guardians of the Galaxy. I have heard of Rocket Raccoon and Quasar, but that is where it ends. That being said, I did enjoy them here. And if these characters make appearances, just about anybody can. At this point it's obvious that the "cosmic season" won't be limited to the Kree and the Skrull. What else will we see? Who else will we see? We've got Captain Mar-Vell and Warlock. Will Thanos the Mad Titan show up too?

Sorry for the short reviews, again, catching up. Tomorrow, I'm doing this for Korra.

Tuesday, May 8, 2012

Earthlings


My ignorance of the DC Universe makes this one hard to review. I don't know who Adam Strange is, or Alanna. Or her father. But, after twenty-seven episodes, I think I know Superboy and Miss Martian, and this episode was mostly about them.

We learn that Superboy was the one who dumped Miss Martian. At first this surprised me, because I thought it could have gone a couple of ways. Miss Martian seems to have dropped the "Hello Megan" stuff, and I figured maybe she moved on from her little fantasy facade and decided she no longer needed a Connor. But, as the episode progressed and we saw how liberally she mind-wiped aliens, a more startling reason is being revealed. Last season, after "Image" aired, I said she became the darkest character on the Team. Well, here we are... whatever she did, it was creepy.

While Connor and M'Gann still do have some feelings for each other, I kind of hope they don't get back together. Ever. I really hope this is a case of never forgetting your first love. Changes in status quos and relationships in Greg Weisman helmed shows tend to be permanent. Goliath and Demona will never get back together, Peter and Liz will never get back together. I think the same will apply here. It was young love, and that's part of growing up.

We get to know Beast Boy a bit better, and I do enjoy his little brother relationship with M'Gann quite a bit. The flashback was sad though. I suspect these were the consequences of M'Gann refusing to cooperate with Queen Bee, the dictator retaliated and hit M'Gann where she knew it would hurt. I don't know how true this is to Beast Boy's origin in the comics, nor do I particularly care. I found it compelling.

I really love that none of the aliens magically communicate right away. This is so rare in TV, live action or animated that it's really a breath of fresh air. Okay, Miss Martian used her telepathy to fix it, but it wasn't a permanent fix, so I'm counting it. It adds a touch more realism, which is always a good thing.

Overall, I don't have much to say about this episode. It was good, I liked it. I liked the animation and the design of the alien mechs quite a bit. And the cliffhanger was such a tease. Well, a few more days until we find out what Vandal Savage had the Justice League do.

Top Ten Guilty Pleasure Movies



The Nostalgia Chick recently posted her Top Ten Guilty Pleasure Movies and, after so many people accusing me of being a snob who doesn't like anything that isn't Oscar bait (the people who say that are mentally ill), I decided to write up my own list inspired by her's. I am ashamed of deriving enjoyment from most of these. They are bad.

10. Street Fighter

Yes, it's a deeply stupid movie. But, you know what, it knows it's a deeply stupid movie. It knows it sucks ass. But it's so cheesy and spends its time reveling in its horribleness that I'm laughing with it just as much as I am laughing at it. And Raul Julia as M. Bison is just so fun to watch...

9. Alligator

Most of you have probably never heard of this train wreck from 1980. "Jaws" was a big hit in 1975 and spawned many imitators. A baby alligator is flushed down a Chicago toilet and survives by eating discarded lab rats, injected with growth hormones. The small animal grows gigantic, escapes the city sewers, and goes on a rampage. It is fucking hilarious. Stupid as hell, but hilarious. Dumbass kid decides to go for a midnight swim in the family pool, gets eaten. Alligator then crashes an outdoor wedding... it's dumb but entertaining.

8. Live Free or Die Hard

The fourth "Die Hard" movie... no where near as good as the first. Not even as good as the third, but better than the second. This time John McClane goes after evil hackers. Obviously anyone who knows anything about how the internet works knows that everything that happens in this movie is complete bullshit. But it's entertaining, and Timothy Olyphant's attempt to scare the audience with his crazy eyes might just be the most unintentionally hilarious thing ever. I saw it the same week I saw Michael Bay's first "Transformers" movie... one of these was stupid, and one was festering retard shit.

7. Transformers the Movie

Can one love a movie that is crap? Yes, they can. I love the 1986 Transformers movie. In spite of, even because of all of it's corny badness. The family friendly AM radio rock soundtrack is terrible, but fun. The entire movie is less a story and more of a series of weird events culminating in a giant climax and minimal denouement. The animation might be good by TV standards, but not at all for movie standards. Very little in this movie works, and yet it's all solidly entertaining. It's a big, dumb toy commercial, but it's my big dumb toy commercial. Plus it traumatized hundreds of children... which is hilarious.

6. GI Joe the Movie

Worse than "Transformers the Movie." Much worse. And yet, I can't bring myself to hate this thing. It's so gloriously stupid. Let's see, what have we got here... a military unit and a ruthless terrorist organization firing hundreds of lasers, missiles and cannon shells at each other and no one ever dies, a secret underground society of snake people in the Himalayas who ride on giant insects, Serpentor getting it on with a weird alien clawed bald ponytail lady, and Don Johnson and Sgt. Slaughter in a buddy comedy. It is so stupid, and yet... I've watched it more times than any sane person probably should.

5. Death Proof

Quentin Tarantino's worst movie, and yet... far more entertaining than "Jackie Brown." Go figure. Stunt man and stunt car played by Kurt Russell murder people. Like "Psycho" we follow one cast of girls for the first half of the movie, they are played like the main characters and then they get killed. Then in the second half, he fails to kill the new cast, and they beat the shit out of him and make him cry like a little girl. If not for that ending, this movie wouldn't make this list.

4. Disney's Hercules

I like this movie, and it has a ton of problems. How true is it to the myths? Not as true as Kevin Sorbo's Hercules and yet I would rather watch this one than Kevin Sorbo. This movie is saved by James Woods' as Hades. He is endlessly entertaining in the role, and the true star of the movie. This spin-off TV series was better and I saw it first, which is probably why I enjoyed the movie in spite of its many flaws.

3. Dracula Dead and Loving It

This is Mel Brooks' worst movie. I will never debate that. But even Brooks at his worst is entertaining. Some of the jokes are overplayed and go on for too long, but it's still fun. I am not a fan of Leslie Nielsen as Count Dracula though. If anyone shined in this movie, it was Peter MacNicol as Renfield. Still, there are better Dracula parodies out there, like "Love At First Bite."

2. Manos: The Hands of Fate

If you've only ever seen this with Joel and the robots, then you've never actually seen this movie. It is the worst crafted movie ever made, and not even intentionally so. And yet, there is something morbidly fascinating about it. It was made by a fertilizer salesman in Texas to prove a point, and a few cast members committed suicide. This movie has a body count. And yet, it's entertaining in its horribleness. This is terrible, but no where near as horrible as any Michael Bay Transformers movies, which I can only conclude were made for retards because you have to be one to enjoy any of those movies. At least the fertilizer salesman has an excuse.

1. Jaws the Revenge

The fourth "Jaws" movie (as if the first needed even one sequel). Apparently the shark is an evil genius and wants revenge on the Brody family for killing it three times before. The shark follows them from Amity Island to the Bahamas, and swims there in three days, lies in wait and kills them. Basically, the shark is Jason Voorhees. Oh, and Michael Caine climbs out of the water and his clothes are still dry. Mario Van Peebles either dies or survives depending on what cut you see. This is one of the worst movies ever made. And yet... it brings me joy because it is my all time favorite movie to pick on. I've been making fun of it since the 80's, and I have no intention of stopping any time soon. Horrible movie, sucks ass but it built Michael Caine a spectacular house. Oh, and the shark stands on its tail out of the water and roars in one scene. Chew on that.

Monday, May 7, 2012

Where Is Greg?

I'm still here. Just been both very busy and very burnt out. But here's what's been on my mind, as far as this blog goes.

1. I have one "Young Justice" episode to review and two "Korras" and "Avengers." I'll get to them soon, I think. Definitely before the weekend when the work load piles up on me. I'll probably review YJ first since I have to for Worlds Finest. The other two shows will likely have their episode reviews combined into one post per show.

2. I am dying to go see "The Avengers" again. I loved that movie, flat out loved it. Before today, I owned "Iron Man" and "Incredible Hulk" on Blu-ray. I bought "Thor" the other day, and I'll be buying "Iron Man 2" and "Captain America" on Blu-ray soon. I want to have the complete set. After I sit through "Avengers" for a second time, I'll dive into spoilers here. I have a lot to say about it. May 4th shall forever be known as "Avengers Day" and no longer be known as "Star Wars Day." I mean, I like the first two flicks, but they have never been anything special and certainly don't deserve to be icons of geekdom.

3. ASK GREG over at Station Eight has gotten a lot more draconian. I know Greg regrets it, and on a few levels I regret it too, but what's been going on there with a lot of "Young Justice" fans has been nothing short of ridiculous. The burning stench if entitlement reeked. People were being rude, nasty, or not displaying any kind of common sense. I just checked and there are over twelve hundred questions in the queue as I type this. But I understand a good portion of those are going to be deleted, which will lead to drama. I'm  mostly avoiding s8's comment room lately, because of these people.

May I add that 'shipping is the lowest form of fandom there is? I might write a longer post about how much I hate rabid 'shippers some time.

4. My friend, Chris Abrams, is now a father. He's my brother's best friend, and I've known him since he was four. His girlfriend, Kristin, gave birth to a beautiful baby girl named Angel. I wish them well, and I wish them luck. With the exception of "Iron Man" and "The Incredible Hulk," I saw every midnight showing of each Marvel movie with them, I was living in Los Angeles when the first two came out. My brother saw them with the couple. We had plans to go see "The Avengers" with them, but her due date was May 4th, and even though these are never exact... nine months pregnant in a movie theater after midnight? Never a good thing. Memorable, maybe. Well, Angel was born less than an hour before the movie started.

5. I participated in a focus group recently to watch a pilot for a series that Fox is airing this fall, I think. It's called "Wicked Smart" and it's.... okay. Nothing horrible or offensive in it, but nothing clever and original. It's basically "Malcolm In the Middle" if the family was somehow even less sophisticated. But it did feature Claudia Christian of "Babylon 5" fame in a minor role as a school official... and the only really worthwhile character. None of the survey questions asked about her, but they did about every other character. I pretty much added notes to increase her role, I might tune in if that happens.

6. The Nostalgia Chick recently did her Top Ten Guilty Pleasure Movies, and it inspired me to do the same. The list is in the works, and some of the things on it just might surprise you. I also expect some people to complain about some entries being considered "guilty." But I'm used to that.

7. If you have not seen "The Avengers" then DO NOT WATCH THIS!



Good night, all.

Friday, May 4, 2012

The Avengers


It's taken us four years, but we finally got here. What started as a small teaser scene at the end of the credits for "Iron Man" turned into a six movie epic where it all came together into this little flick. We do owe a huge thanks to John Favreau and Robert Downey Jr though, because had "Iron Man" bombed, we would not have gotten any of this.

I thought it was excellent. It was a big "fuck you" to all the assholes who use phrases like "popcorn movie" and "turn your brain in at the door" and "it's a movie about fighting robots, what did you expect?" I'm not saying it's "The Godfather" but it was well directed, well paced, likable actors, some genuine character moments, a plot that wasn't convoluted and good dialogue, ie everything that movies like "Transformers" are not. I should not be surprised considering it was directed by Joss Whedon, a man who understands and reveres these characters, and who has a history of juggling ensemble casts.

Everyone in this movie had their moments, and no character was diminished to make another character look good. Iron Man and Captain America were the heart and soul of the flick, naturally. But Thor, Black Widow, Hulk and even Hawkeye got their moments. While Hawkeye got the shortest end of the stick, we still got enough of him to satisfy, I think. As for Hulk, I think this is the first time they got him right, and I would not mind seeing him carry another movie after this.

Tom Hiddleston's Loki was even more vicious this time, and for good reason. As Hiddleston noted in interviews, he was a lot more self possessed, and this time knew exactly what he was and what he was after, and he made deals with some pretty bad people. I won't give anything away, but people cheered during the mid credits scene.

I'm trying to keep this review spoiler free, but there is a ton in this movie to gush over. It was a great movie. Was it the best superhero movie ever made? Well, I'll need more time to reflect and I'll need to see it a couple more times, but I loved it. I have no complaints about it. I liked the other movies leading into this one, but none of them were perfect. This, no complaints, no nitpicks. As a lifelong Marvel geek, it more than satisfied me. The biggest compliment I can give it is this, ask me who my favorite character is, and my answer will be: I liked them all.

What I especially liked, and this happened by having Joss Whedon at the helm, was how unapologetic this movie was about its comic book origins. It knew what it was, where it came from, and it embraced it. So many comic book movies seem to be almost ashamed of their roots and try as hard as they can to hide them. Not this movie.

In the mean time, hey, Warner Bros! What the hell is wrong with you? You seriously need to take a good look at what these guys are doing, because your "Green Lantern" movie sucked, and won't be the catalyst to any "Justice League" movies!


Wednesday, May 2, 2012

How To Talk to a Dr. Doom Revisionist (If You Must)



Victor Von Doom is defined by two people: Cynthia von Doom and Reed Richards. His mother, Cynthia died when he was very young, and she represents his ideals of love and honor. Richards is the target of Doom’s jealousy, pettiness, and all the other traits that prevent Victor from reaching his true potential. And let’s look at what he is:

Myth: Dr. Doom is an ends justify the means heroic character.

Fact: Doom is a megalomaniac. A man with a serious superiority complex. He is the guy who knows he’s better then everyone else, will continuously remind you of it, and uses it as an excuse to do whatever the hell he wants. Why shouldn’t he take what you have? He’s better then you, he deserves it more!

Myth: Dr. Doom is a fair and just leader who is beloved by his people.

Fact: Doom is a dictator. This is something fans need to remember every time they talk about how nicely Doom takes care of the people of Latveria. Doom’s rule is one of absolute power with zero democracy. There is no Latverian congress, no Latverian senate, no Latverian premier. All power flows from Doom, and Doom alone. The most iconic example of this comes from the “Emperor Doom” story, in which Doom uses the Purple Man’s power to subjugate the entire world to his will, installing himself as absolute ruler of the world. Yes, his rule is benevolent and filled with admirable achievements… if one forgets that he has to rob all humanity of it’s free will to achieve this goal.

Myth: Dr. Doom has a sense of honor and nobility.

Fact: Doom’s sense of honor is medieval at best. He sees himself as a monarch, and tries to act as such. This is why he keeps his word, and protects his Latverian subjects as he does. Because that’s what’s expected of a monarch. One should not confuse this with actual honesty or compassion. He’s intelligent enough never to make a bargain that he can’t turn to his advantage, and his generosity comes at a serious price.

Myth: Reed Richards is a dick.

Fact: Umm… Okay, you got me there. But Victor is still an asshole.

Doom’s hatred of Reed Richards is an obsession he cannot overcome. And let’s face it, with his brilliance, he could do it a thousand different ways without being a villain. He could create a solution for global warming, a cure for cancer, desktop-available cold fusion for all, and get the world to hail him as a greater genius then Richards. But it’s not enough for him to just prove he’s smarter anymore. It’s not enough for him to just kill Richards anymore. He wants to BREAK Richards. He wants to make Reed’s world collapse into ashes, then rub Reed’s nose in it before finishing him off.

All of these are NOT the mark of a nice, stable and noble person. They’re the mark of an unstable, sociopathic man who plays by his own rules, and will have no qualms about killing you horribly if you stand in his way or just displease him. Therefore I accept the Victor who loves his mother as much as the Doom who HAAATES the BLASTED RICHARDS!