The Dark Knight Rises

This will be a very brief review.  There’s very little I can say about this film without giving away spoilers.  All I can say is that THIS FILM WAS EPIC!!!!!!!!!

It ended well, for the viewer and the characters.  We got closure, the characters got closure.  The way they ended Batman, if they wanted to, and if done right, they could easily carry on Batman without Christian Bale and his character Bruce Wayne.  Poor Bruce, they really tortured him in these three movies.  The way his story ends, it’s bittersweet, and you don’t want him to come back as Batman.  He has done enough, suffered enough.

When I asked my friend what she thought of Batman, her answer was:  ‘It was long!’ Yes Christopher Nolan’s Batman trilogy is LONG!  But you’re never bored and you’re always kept guessing.  Especially in The Dark Knight Rises, woof so many twists!  Personally, if you haven’t loved the previous two films, invested time in dissecting them and a fan of the comics you won’t really enjoy the third.

So, my opinion on Bane.  Awesome villain, ridiculous accent. I’m sorry, but if you create a character with such a menacing look, that whole face gear, huge hulk look, muscles everywhere, you can’t have this high pitched weird Irish accent. It just doesn’t work. It has to be low, rumbling and deep. Like Darth Vader. I enjoyed the evilness of Bane and his intelligence, and his insanity, it was terrifying.  But ye gads the accent.

I was surprised by Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s character.  I thought he was going to be a villain!  Well he isn’t, he’s a cop, and a very likable character.

Here’s a little trivia, Christopher Nolan managed to assemble the majority of the Inception cast in this film!  We have Michael Cain, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, Miranda Tate, Tom Hardy and Cillian Murphy.  Also, for Stargate fans, you might spot an evil henchman played by Christopher Judge aka Teal’c.  YAY he finally figured out that he looks better bald!  I loved Teal’c it’s a pity he didn’t get more screen time, even if he just pitched up behind Bane in a couple of scenes looking menacing.  Also if you’re a Criminal Minds fan you may have noticed JJ’s husband, Detective William LaMontagne Jr., aka Josh Stewart as Banes right hand man. >< He is so yummy, pity he didn’t get more dialogue.

Oh my gosh, I haven’t spoken about Anne Hathaway as Selina Kyle/ Catwoman yet! 0_o wow, she was AMAZING!!!  She made the role her own, and was fantastic in it!  I especially loved her shoes!  A very clever accessory. I wanted her to have a whip, the fighting style they gave her was gorgeous, and the movements she made would have been complimented very nicely with a whip!  I liked her chemistry with Batman, I liked her saucy hardboiled attitude, and you could see that very, very, very deep down she had a slightly gooey centre.

I didn’t have much issue with this film, it was a fantastic watch, but there was one piece of logic that really, really irritated me because it was so unrealistic.  It’s the whole situation with Gotham PD.  And that’s all I can say, it’s a clever idea, but a bit unrealistic.

In conclusion: poor Bruce, he went through the ringer.  Bruce Wayne can’t be happy and be Batman, he can’t retire and be happy, he just can’t be happy ever!  I wouldd like to think of The Dark Knight Rises as the Batman ending and closure which the comic series will never have, because a comic series like Batman can never end.  A fantastic ending to an amazing trilogy.

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The Amazing Spider-Man

It’s strange, I was so not excited for this remake.  I loved the original Spiderman movies, except the third, I don’t think anybody liked the third. I felt it a bit of insult to remake the film so close to the originals.  What’s next remaking Lord of the Rings? Having said that, I really was pleasantly surprised by this film.  Heck it blew the original out of the water!  I loved this film.  This was a Spiderman movie.  They got it right, well action wise. Not that I’m saying that the action was bad in the original, but they’ve made Spiderman even more flexible. I’ve always imagined Spiderman’s movements with a touch of parkour.

This was the better Spider Man film, but I mean no disrespect to the originals, they were amazing, and proved superhero films could be done and done well. (except for the third film.)

I must admit that it’s irritating that every time they reboot the franchise we have to start with the origin story.  Its getting a bit tired, but Spider Man gave us something a bit fresher, a bit different than the same tired old story that every Spider Man fan knows.  I will be honest, when I saw the first trailer for the film, with Peter wearing his hoody up, I thought ‘Oh goodness they’re making him emo.’  Which Peter can be, often, like every second or so issue, but that’s not really the case.

I like that they seem to be drawing a lot of their subject matter from the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series.  I started following later on in the series, but it’s a fantastic read, really well developed characters, really cool revamps of classic and somewhat hammy Spider Man villains and the resurrection of certain ‘dead’ characters.  For example Gwen Stacy. Now I will have to say, I wasn’t very happy with the casting of Gwen Stacy.  I liked Emma Stone as Gwen Stacy, don’t get me wrong, but she is far better suited for Mary Jane.  She has a very strong presence, and she has this fantastic sweet yet saucy attitude, which is what Mary Jane is.  In the Ultimate Spider-Man comic series Gwen Stacy is goth!  She is a fantastic character, strong, no-nonsense, kind, she’s even best friends with Mary Jane which is funny since both girls date Peter at different times.  In the Ultimate Spider-Man series it is really funny how well all three of Peter’s girlfriends get along with each other.  The third is Kitty Pryde, Shadowcat, from the Ultimate X-men comic series.  Now she and Peter were a surprising match and she was such a fun character when she joined the main cast in the Spidey series.

Oh man, way off the point.  What I was trying to say is that the Gwen Stacy character could have been so much more than a smart, preppy blonde with access to Oscorp.  The way they created her didn’t have to be what moved the plot along.

As for Peter, daw he’s such a honey.  I loved how Andrew Garfield portrayed Peter, he was a quirky, shy, awkward character.  He felt far more real than Toby Maguire’s Peter Parker, who was far more subdued in his personality, which isn’t Peter Parker.

My favourite awkward scene is when Peter is trying to ask Gwen out. It’s the most disastrous conversation EVER!  Nothing gets said, it’s mumbled, no numbers are exchanged or arrangements made, they’re so nervous that the whole conversation is just trying to get out the line ‘Wanna get together?’  It was so funny.

I found it interesting that this is the first Spiderman film/ cartoon/ comic (that I have read/watched) that doesn’t immediately have Norman Osborn and Harry Osborn.  I wonder who will play Norman Osborn.  I loved Willem Dafoe as the Norman Osborn/ Green Goblin.

I liked that Aunt May and Uncle Ben didn’t look like they were suddenly going to drop dead.  I found the original couple too old.  I guess it made Uncle Ben’s death all the sadder.  I enjoyed Martin Sheen as Uncle Ben, but then I have loved Martin Sheen since the West Wing.  I loved him as the President.  So when Uncle Ben dies, this is not a spoiler, everyone knows he dies going in, so when he died, I bawled my eyes out.  Andrew Garfield’s performance also helped.

Apparently there was this huge stink over not using the Spider-Man iconic line ‘With Great Power Comes Great Responsibility.’  It is a good motto, but by continually referring to it over and over again for the last fifty years it loses it impact. They didn’t create and exact equivalent of the phrase but Uncle Ben gave a speech with the same message, which made far more impact in the film, than the time honoured classic.

So Amazing Spider-Man is an AMAZING watch. I can’t wait to see what they do with the next movie. Who knows maybe Gwen Stacy will go goth!

On another note go read Ultimate Spider-Man, it’s a fantastic read and a new spin on an iconic Marvel character. I enjoy this series because it is brilliantly written, it has great artists and its’ supporting cast of characters are just as enjoyable as the young Peter Parker. It gets even more enjoyable when Shadowcat, Iceman and the Human Torch join the series.

The Avengers

Only the most anticipated movie EVER! Fans everywhere have been waiting since 2008, when at the end of Iron Man not only did we get Samuel L Jackson’s Nick Fury, but the hint of an Avengers movie! Iron Man was Marvels first movie that was written and produced by them, so fans accepted that if they were going to make such a promise they would try their hardest to ensure that it would happen. Four years later and an Iron Man sequel another Hulk movie, a Thor and a Captain America film with a sneak peak of the Avengers film later, The Avengers was finally released a week earlier world wide than its American release. I don’t know why this appeals to me, it just does.

So we have a star studded cast, an amazing director and the assurance of stellar special effects. So the question is does Avengers do justice to the hype that surrounds it? My answer is: HELL YES AND A BAG OF CHIPS!! It’s been a long time since I went to a film that not only lived up to its hype, but surpassed it! The Avengers hit the spot, with equal blends of action, comedy, suspense and gob-smacking special effects. I guess that’s the only thing that has really been holding back the superheroes movie genre, the special effects, but Iron Man, Thor and X-men movies have proved that they can been done.

I was really worried that the Avengers wasn’t going to live up to the mass amounts of hype started for it until Joss Whedon was brought on board. Then I didn’t have a single worry, why because: JOSS WHEDON IS GOD. Now not only was I getting and Avengers movie I was getting an Avengers movie scripted and directed by Joss Whedon. We know his genius from Buffy, Firefly and Dollhouse, and I’ve read his run on Astonishing X-men and the Buffy Season 8 comic series, so I know that this guy will know how to deal with superheroes.

One thing that really irritated me was the advertising campaign for the Avengers. Ok so here in SA we didn’t really get much of it, but the internet was lit up lit a Christmas tree with all the trailers for America, Russia, Japan, all the TV spots, there was just too much. I didn’t watch any of it, well maybe 4 no 5 of the earlier trailers, but you have to stop at some point before you spoil the movie for yourself. Like I tried very hard not to watch trailers with the alien enemy in them because I wanted to be surprised, I still haven’t managed to figure out who they are. Obviously alien villains I haven’t read. Oh well. BUT I have finally figured out who the villain is that was shown during the credits! Would you like to know?

So I can’t really speak about the film because most of my favourite bits are kind of spoilery. One of my absolute favourite little moments is during the epic battle at the end of the film, between Thor and Hulk, in Grand Central Station. Let me just say, it was taken straight out of the Avengers cartoon series. Which by the way is a fantastic series, brilliant stories and character development, I can’t wait to watch the second season. I also loved the Shield Base. Was such an epic scene to see in live action!

I loved this film; I cannot wait to see what they have planned next! What would really make my day is if Luke Cage and his wife Jessica Drew, Spiderman and Wolverine were on the cast for the next film. This won’t happen because Marvel doesn’t have the film rights for Wolverine. Wolverine and Spiderman on the Avenger’s roster are such fun. Spiderman is such a fan boy, and brings a lot of witty one liner’s that eases the tension. Wolverine is just awesome, and can be quite funny in his own dark and brooding way. Well one can hope and dream.

 

X-men My Beginnings

I’m constantly being told that should write about the comics a read, put my opinions on them on my blog. Which I will do, I just feel I need to do an introductory piece on how I got into comics, especially since a lot of people out there want to get into comics but don’t know where to start. My foray into the comic world was slow, but it was destiny that I would find comics. I blame my mother.

But more on that later. Ever since I was little I was primed to become a fan of the super hero genre and then X-men. When I was little every Sunday morning I would sit with my dad and little sister and we would watch Superman, Batman and Spiderman together. But it was the X-men animated series I craved to watch. Back then we didn’t have satellite TV, and X-men was aired on K-TV which was a satellite channel. But twice a year, for a week, my family would go on holiday to Plettenberg Bay, and we would stay at the Beacon Island hotel, which had satellite TV for its hotel guests. One week, and in that week, K-TV would air an episode of the X-men. I was pretty young so the logic of trying to find out what time and X-men played at Plett was beyond me, but I knew the channel, and I roughly guessed Friday or Saturday morning. It went on for years, my desperation to watch x-men. If memory serves, I don’t think I ever caught a full episode, what with either leaving or arriving on the day it aired, or doing outdoor activities and coming back to the hotel during an episode. I think I saw little bits of at least 5 episodes, out of I think 5 seasons. And when my family finally got satellite TV, K-TV had stopped airing it! But that was the start of my love for the X-men.

My foray into comics began with Archie. My parents were just happy that I was reading. The book store I used to buy Archie from would sometime have a two rand bin, where old stock or overprints of comics from overseas where put on sale. My mom found the R2 bin and brought home a pile of Archies for me, and a couple of other comics that caught her eye. A lot of it was Superman, and they were weird story arcs, they also had gaps, but I never really liked Superman, he was just too wooden a character. While I never got any R2 X-men comics, I did get a couple of other Marvel series, my favourite among them was a Fantastic Four issue 12 1998. I loved the artwork; I loved the story of that issue. The Fantastic Four were on Genosha, and The Invisible Woman, The Thing, and the Torch had all had their bodies switched with terrorists. It was written by Chris Claremont and illustrated by Salvador Larroca. It was a brilliant issue, I loved the comic to death, the cover eventually fell off and I cello taped it back on. Many years later I finally got a hold of the other issues before and after that one so I could get the full story.

Fantastic Four issue 12 1998, Salvador Larocca

I started properly collecting X-men comics in 2001, a year after the movie came out. The X-men was fully planted in my brain, I wanted to know more, but where the hell to start? Especially with the X-men, who have like 10 spin-off titles running at any given time. Which do you choose; where in the story do you start. Just accept that when you pick up a title like X-men, Spiderman, The Avengers, Batman, Superman or any of the long running series, the first little while you are going to be thoroughly confused. With me I actually had a fairly good background knowledge of X-men by the time I started following religiously. First my mom found me a Dorling Kindersley book on the X-men, with individual bios on the most important characters, their histories, powers, back story on all the teams, it was a fascinating read, I wanted more. Second my dad went to England around the same time, and I asked him to buy me some X-men comics, since I didn’t know where to buy them here, and my local comic shop only moved to my area a few years later. I said anything would do; just find me some comics and I’ll start from there. When I think about my dad’s marching orders I realise they couldn’t have been vaguer. My dad was magic, he went to England, and he got me X-men comics, no clue where, but he did more than that, he bought me classic X-men. Essential Uncanny X-men, an omnibus book in black and white of all the original Uncanny X-men issues. These volumes had 24 issues a volume, on thin paper in black and white. They were absolutely magic, I loved reading them, and they were fun, but serious. My characters suffered, sacrificed and died, but they also had fun wacky adventures. My favourite story arcs where the one’s where the X-men were in space, and how Kitty got Lockheed her alien dragon. I also loved the issue where Kitty tells a bedtime story to Illyana and it’s a fantasy adventure featuring all her team mates. It was such fun. These four volumes gave me such a firm grounding on the X-men, those four volumes are continually referred to, and made me comfortable with the series and characters. After I finished those volumes I was ready. I went out and bought my first singe Uncanny X-men issue 394, 2001. I was stupidly lucky I had picked up an issue from the beginning of a story arc, and I knew all the characters, although I couldn’t understand why Angel was blue, he was blond in my comics.

My First Issue, Uncanny X-men issue 394, 2001

Essential X-men Vol 1, most iconic image ever

Here’s my next tip, if you have no clue what precedes your current story arc, research. I used the official marvel site for a while, but it was too download heavy for my computer, and the information was poor. Ergo, fan sites, I found a really good one that gave seriously in-depth histories and issue appearances for characters, which further solidified my knowledge base. Uncannyx-men.net was incredibly useful. The best site to use is Comicvine.com. The character bios are fan written, so they are far more reliable than the Marvel site ones, where they selectively exclude info from the early days or the more ridiculous and improbable story arcs, to give the characters more plausible and more realistic origin stories. Comicvine also has a huge database of images for characters, and it lists every series and issue a character has been in. They also have synopses for most issues, plus who it’s written by, illustrated, edited, inked plus all the characters featured. It is a great way to find out what missing issues are needed to fill in empty holes in your collection. Don’t use Wikipedia, it has far too many spoilers.

http://www.uncannyxmen.net/

http://www.comicvine.com/

Nowadays the way I choose my comics is by the artwork. I’ve dropped titles because I didn’t like the artwork. And don’t be fooled by the cover art, the artist who does the covers isn’t necessarily the one who illustrates the issue.

Ultimate Spiderman 118

Currently all the comics I collect on an issue basis are X-men, I also collect Fathom, but that’s by Aspen Comics, and it doesn’t release very often. I collect X-men Legacy, Wolverine and the X-men, Uncanny X-men and Generation Hope. I do collect other Marvel titles, but I usually wait for the graphic novel format. I’m pretty sporadic in that regard. I used to collect Ultimate X-men in graphic novel format, and then dropped it when I didn’t like the artist. The same goes for Ultimate Spiderman, which I only started collecting 12 volumes in because it got an artist I liked. I will discuss these series and artists at a later date.

Wolverine and the X-men #4

Currently the X-men are going through this big shake-up, with the X-men splitting into two factions. The Uncanny X-men title/ team lead by Cyclops believing every mutant, including children are now soldier in the fight for their races survival living on the mutant island of Utopia, and Wolverine and the X-men title/ team lead by Wolverine who believes the children should be given a chance to grow, to maintain their innocents, so he becomes head master of his own school. Big drama. In light of this momentous occasion, Marvel decided to take the Uncanny X-men title, and start it at 1 again. I hate it when they do that. Marvel has done this often over the years, and then they go back to the status quo and change the numbering back to what it originally was, so issue 12 is actually issue 556, and it just makes your comic collecting difficult. I had this problem with Fantastic Four so I had no clue what number the issue I wanted was, took a lot of research to figure it out. Thankfully nowadays there are incredibly detailed databases on comics so it makes comic collecting easier.

Now I would consider myself very well read on matters relating to X-men, other series I follow in graphic novel format are The Runaways, X-23, Young Avengers, the Ultimate storylines, and New Avengers, I keep an eye on the other series. Now I’m not that clued up on DC, I monitor it, felt disdain with the huge revamping that DC did to their major titles, I take an interest when I see art I like. I also look at upcoming titles from other comic companies, so I’m pretty up to date with the comic world.

Labyrinth

Labyrinth is a Jim Henson movie that came out in 1986 starring David Bowie as a glitter covered, spandex wearing Jareth the Goblin King, who kidnaps the baby brother of Sarah, played by jailbait Jennifer Connelly.  It is a strange movie, just because it has puppet doesnt mean its for kids, the puppets are actually kinda creepy, especially this one scene where is on a lack background and they start taking their heads off and throwing them around. seriouslyl creepy,plus theres all this of sexual tension between Jareth and Sarah, which is slightly disturbing since she is only 15.  The movie is one of those classic corny 80’s magic movies, a flop when released, but has a strong cult following.  I watched it often when I was little; it’s actually a bit on the dark side for kids.  So I grew up (well I aged), forgot many of my childhood films, got nostalgic and went looking for all my old favourites so I could re-watch them.

I recently came across a web comic that is a fan comic of sorts for Labyrinth and that’s what brought the film back to my attention.  The web comic is called Girls Next Door, created by a girl on Deviant art who calls herself pika-la-cynique and it’s about Sarah from Labyrinth, who is now in college, and the web comic begins with her new roommate, Christine, moving in.

Turns out that Christine is from The Phantom of the Opera, and both have weird, tortured, supernatural stalkers. Both girls are looking to live normal lives free from their ‘respective stalkers-slash-suitors’, which backfires drastically when the girls discover that their twisted obsessive stalker suitors are living downstairs!  Now the fun begins. I love this web comic; it’s full of angst, neurosis, funny gags, crazy antics, fan service, and guest appearances by other crazy film and book characters.  The writer/ artist seems to love Tim Burton/ Johnny Depp characters, and Legolas often shows up too.  He is portrayed in an unusual light, often the comic relief, plus, who doesn’t want more Legolas in any form.  I particularly enjoy the one or two Twilight crossovers.

There has been Sweeny Todd, Edward Scissorhands, Legolas and a lot of Pirates of the Caribbean, Twilight, Star Wars i.e. Leia, some Terry Pratchett, Rocky Horror Picture Show, Howl and Sophie from Howls Moving Castle, Jareth’s parents make an appearance as, I would say, the best two fantasy villains ever.  There is some Narnia, and Danny from Game of Thrones appears as well.  There’s a plethora of movie and book references and character appearances, and it is such fun to read and identify these references and see some of your favourite characters act in different ways and grow in different directions when not confined by the lore of their films.

This is one of my favourite pages because it is an exciting crossover with some of my favourite characters.  I especially love this page because an older version of Chihiro from Spirited Away is in it.  For some reason I find this depiction of her just so appropriate, and if I were to imagine an older Chihiro this is what she would look like.  I also love the little groups mentioned in this pages, the Wibsy’s and the Fangbangers.  It made me laugh;  it’s such a clever idea.

So, a bit out of order but this is the page before the one I’ve just shown, it is another example of how much fun crossovers can be if done cleverly.

I like to try and guess who they are before I cheat and look at the bottom of the blurb under the picture of Pika’s deviant art page, to see who’s actually in the comic that week.

I really love the relationship that has evolved between Sarah and Jareth, its complex and messy and the characters do grow, the writer has taken what was created in the 80 film and pushed it further, and doesn’t let the official film lore prevent further development.

Oh I forgot to mention that the main reason I love this web comic, apart from the great writing, dialogue and comedy, is the art.  I love the style;  I love the fantastic facial expressions that this artist creates.  I admire her style and talent.

http://pika-la-cynique.deviantart.com

Some other examples

The Dark Knight Rises

WAIT WAS THAT A FLYING BATMOBILE?!?!?!  I quite honestly have no clue what this particular Batman is going to be about!  I’m not an authority on Batman, but from the characters chosen it feels kind of garbled.  Anne Hathaway as Catwoman should be interesting, from what the trailer shows us she’s a lot saner than Michelle Pfeiffer’s Catwoman was, but more vengeful almost, which makes her just as scary.  Which is worse, a slightly insane Catwoman or vengeful and sane Catwoman?

I don’t know who Bane is, what I know about him was gained from the George Clooney Batman & Robin.  This Bane looks less ridiculous, downright Hannibal Lecter in appearance and definitely more brains than the previous Bane.  I’m unsure who Joseph Gordon-Levitt’s John Blake is supposed to be.  The character Miranda Tate does ring a bell, but I can’t say who she is.  I’m not about to go and look up their comic book counterparts because I’ll most probably read something that could spoil the movie.

This is the official synopsis for the Dark Knight Rises:

Eight years after the events of The Dark Knight, the terrorist leader Bane arrives in Gotham City, pushing it and its police force to their limits, forcing its former hero Batman to resurface after having taken the fall for Harvey Dent’s crimes.

If they are trying to imitate the chaos and insanity of the Dark Knight I don’t think they’ll succeed.  The Joker, was just absolute chaos, this film looks more like war than chaos.  Not that I’m complaining.  The Dark Knight Rises looks cool.  Can’t wait to see how this goes.

G.I. Joe 2: Retaliation

Unlike many, I really enjoyed the first GI Joe movie.  It was fun, with great action, a little romance, and some corny but fun one liners.  I also have a fan girl crush on Snake Eyes!  I know it doesn’t make much sense to crush over a guy whose face is always covered, but it’s the mystery behind the awesomeness that makes him appealing.  Also, the actor playing him is Ray Park aka Darth Maul, super hot Sith badassness, what’s not to love.  That aside, the sequel looks fun as well.  No surprise Storm Shadow’s alive, the way his death was set up in the first film, it was so obvious he was going to come back.  Plus, with a bod like that, it would be such a waste to kill him off permanently.  From the little we are shown in the trailer, poor old Duke (Channing Tatum) doesn’t live very long.  Now I’m not an authority on the GI Joe comics, I’ve only just started being interested in them, and only because a specific artist I like worked on the series.  The character of Duke is pretty much synonymous with the GI Joe franchise, the same goes for Scarlett (not appearing in this film), Snake Eyes and Storm Shadow.  I’m sure there are others, but the GI Joe team is huge, like over 100 characters, but they’re back-up singers.  Without certain characters this film just looks like a Dwayne ‘The Rock’ Johnson film.  Not that I don’t like him, you just don’t kill off Duke.  Not that I’m saying I like Channing Tatum, his acting is like a talking piece of wood!  BUT Bruce Willis playing the Original Joe, and his little quip about his cholesterol, fantastic.  The stunts looks awesome, but what a waste to have a ninja fight hanging on the side of a mountain,  you could pose and frame them far more dramatically on a flat surface, the scene looks a bit, erm, gangly?  Not as graceful as a ninja show down should be.

On another note, the trailer itself isn’t very dynamic.  The first one was quite an exciting, well edited piece, with lots of quick successive shots, and I love the song that was used in it.  This trailer is almost mellow compared to the first movies trailer.  (Actually I’ve just realised that I’ve only seen one version of the first movie trailer, it was the first released and I consider it the best and works well in interesting the viewer).

Still, very excited that there’s a sequel.  Please let it not be in 3D.

GI Joe Rise of the Cobra