Sunday, December 30, 2012

Review: Wreck-It Ralph

Happy New Year and all that. I hope everyone is having a better end of year experience than I am (I wrecked my car! Awesome!). This will be the last blog of 2012, which doesn’t mean too much I suppose since 2013 is literally just  hours away at this point, but still.

You might have noticed that I never reviewed Brave despite it being on that Summer Movie Preview I did months ago. I did manage to see it but never got around to writing about it. I may still review it but for now I’ll let you know that I thought it was pretty good but not exactly up to the standard I hold for Pixar. Since whatever movie Pixar made that year tends to be the top animated film of the year the times when they don’t deliver usual quality things get murky. For example since 2005 Pixar has won the Academy Award for Best Animated Film every year except in the years when they released the Cars movies, which are considered to be by far the worst they ever produced.

Enter Wreck-It Ralph. Ever since it came out it’s gained a ton of critical acclaim. But let’s be honest: it’s Disney. The best animated films Disney usually produces are actually done by Pixar so my hopes weren’t very high for it. I ended up putting off catching it until last week. Despite my reservations I like video games and I like cartoons; why no give it a chance?

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, December 26, 2012

Review: Skyfall

I’m not sure it’s supposed to be this difficult to see and then write about a film the way it has been for me to do with Skyfall, but finally after what felt like months upon months I have seen the latest James Bond flick and I’ve made it to my laptop to talk about it.

As mentioned Skyfall is the lasted Bond film starring Daniel Craig. It’s his third movie after the awesome Casino Royale and the less than awesome Quantum of Solace. The film likely would have come out earlier however MGM, the studio behind the Bind films, went bankrupt in 2010 and with their financial situation dubious at best they opted to delay production on the film. Once everything was sorted it seemed the film would be coming out to coincide with the 50th anniversary of Dr. No, the first 007 film from 1962.

There has been a lot of buzz surrounding this flick but that means little, especially when you just watched the previous two films and are even more nitpicky than you normally might be.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There is at least one outstanding spoiler in this review. Just be careful when reading.]

Sunday, December 16, 2012

Review: Quantum of Solace

[EDIT: This is late. This was supposed to come out a few days ago but I was distracted by a Protomen/MC Lars concert and a few other things going on the last few days. To make matters worse I was supposed to see Skyfall this weekend but that ended up falling through. Life, eh?]

Quantum of Solace is the second film in the Daniel Craig era of James Bond movie, one of the few in the series to be a direct continuation of the previous film. Now, assuming you read my last review, you should know that I though this film’s predecessor, Casino Royale, was the best Bond film so far as it had everything I wanted out of an action film while lacking most of the issues I normally dislike from the series (campiness, misogyny, bad puns). But at the same time the film set a pretty high standard.

In 2008, two years after the awesome Casino Royale, Quantum of Solace hit theaters and you know that I was super jazzed about seeing this flick. As I’ve said before Casino Royale made me incredibly excited about future films and, with the cliffhanger it left us with, I was consumed with eagerness to see what happened next. Did it deliver or did it fail to live up to the hype?

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There are some spoilers for this movie as well as Casino Royale. Keep this in mind when reading.]

Wednesday, December 12, 2012

Review: Casino Royale (2006)

As you’re reading this the latest James Bond film, simply titled “Skyfall”, is busy being a money making machine and picking up a ton of critical buzz. Many people are calling it the best Bond flick ever. I have yet to see it but I plan doing so in this weekend. In the meantime I thought it be a great way to warm up for the movie by watching and reviewing every single Bond film leading up to Skyfall…but then I realized that would be a huge undertaking and I’m lazy as hell. Instead I figured we’d look at the films that led up to the new one; namely the Daniel Craig era.

In leading up to 2006 Pierce Brosnan, the actor how had been playing Bond, stepped down from his role. The search for the new Agent 007 also lead to the studio deciding to toss out the baby with bath water and just reboot the whole franchise. This bothered a lot of fans. Things got worse when it was announced that Daniel Craig would be taking over lead character role. I guess he was too blond or something. I forget because it was something like seven years ago. Anyway in the spirit of starting over the new flick was going to be based on original creator Sir Ian Flemming’s first James Bond novel, Casino Royale. It was directed by Martin Campbell, who also directed GoldenEye…which I really disliked.

 I am not a traditional Bond fan as I’d only seen a few of the films in the series and beyond Goldfinger I haven’t loved them. I especially wasn’t very keen on Brosnan’s films at all. But I remember being very intrigued by all the hullabaloo with this flick and I actually went to the theaters to see it; the first time I’d ever paid to see a James Bond movie. So were all the changes worth it?

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There are some spoilers but it's not too bad and, really, this movie came out six years ago. Get over it.]

Saturday, December 8, 2012

Kickstarter Weekends: BIT Parts, Barkley 2, Nightwing

It’s time again for more plugs and karma gathering as I list off my favorite current Kickstarter projects. It’s been a while since we did one of these. I’ve been really busy with a verity of other things in life the past few months (especially NaNoWriMo from last month) so I’d fallen behind on my Kickstarter searches. I did come across a few projects during the down time but I just couldn’t get a blog together for them. Thankfully all those projects got funded without my help so it worked out. Today we’ll have three new projects to look at.

Also MALICE: The Webseries (from the first Kickstarter Weekend) has successfully been uploading new episodes since Halloween. Since, as you know, I’m very attached to that show I heavily suggest you go watch them (Maybe one day I’ll have time to watch them too. Sigh).

Before we get into the new projects let’s check in on last time’s Kickstarter campaigns and see how they did:

Kalamazoo's Music Scene CD/Festival: Funding Canceled!

Final Earning: $0 ($6,500 Goal)

Unfortunately it looks like the project was canceled due to lack of response. It’s likely it would not have reached its goal even if it had lasted to the end. Still I doubt we’ve seen the last of this project.

Through the Fire: Funding Canceled!

Final Earnings: $0 ($750,000 Goal)

Michael Dorn’s dream project just couldn’t make it so he put it out of its misery. I’m not very surprised by this; the project had a huge goal but lacked the right type of advertisement to support it. I have a decent amount of Trekkie friends and none of them had even heard of this movie. For all of Dorn’s hope that this would motivate the Star Trek community it didn’t really seem to reach all that many of them.

Compare that to another Kickstarter project, Star Trek: Reengages, that made nearly $250,000 and also featured several Star Trek veterans.

Leaving Megalopolis: Funding Successful!

Final Earning: $117,660 ($34,000 Goal)

It actually reached its goal even when I posted about it so it should surprise no one that it was a successful campaign. Still it smashed it’s bare minimum proving that the industry was hotly interested in a Gail Simone/Jim Calafiore (so then how about a return of Secret Six, then?). Sadly I wasn’t able to afford to donate to get a copy of the book and I’m pretty sure that that was my only opportunity to get a copy. Sometimes even when you win you still lose.

Molly Danger: Funding Successful!
Final Earnings: $50,329 ($45,000 Goal)

The Cinderella Story from last time had a happy ending, thanks to a lot of comic book creators helping spreading the word. I sincerely believe the world is a slightly better place with Molly Danger being made.

So as you can see it doesn’t always work out on Kickstarter Weekends and sometimes there are tears. Three new projects after the jump.

Friday, December 7, 2012

Nerd Rage #12b: The Cons of Disney Buying Star Wars

George looks a little under dressed for the occasion
And we're back. Today we'll continue talking about Disney buying  Star Wars but things won't be so positive. just because there are good things to come out of it doesn't mean there aren't things that might be cause for concern. Of course it's important to note that it's not all bad no matter what I might be ranting about here. Remember to check out Part One of this blog to reassure yourself that I'm not just being a Negative Nancy.

The Cons after the jump.

Wednesday, December 5, 2012

Nerd Rage #12a: The Pros of Disney Buying Star Wars

I started writing this a long time ago but I was distracted by that whole “NaNoWriMo” thing. So technically I’m a little late to the party on this one. Take in mind that I wrote this  originally when the new first broke weeks ago.

Honestly I'm mainly upset by Darth Goofy's lack of pants
I assume most of you have heard this but for those of you who somehow managed to successfully be a hermit Disney announced that they had bought Lucasfilms. This includes all smaller companies under the Lucasfilm umbrella, including Lucasarts, Industrial Light Magic, Skywalker Sound and, of course, the entire Star Wars brand. Everything related to the franchise (books, video games, etc.) now are part of the Disney machine and George Lucas no longer has a say in the franchise he created and built his life around. It was sold for $4.5 billion, which I think feels a little low for Star Wars, and it was immediately announced that production of Star Wars: Episode VII had begun with a release date of summer 2015. This may be the biggest nerd oriented news in at least ten years.

This is the exact type of news where many nerds go insane over with declarations of “EVERYTHING IS RUINED”. It’s very similar to when Marvel Comics was bought by Disney a few years ago in terms of potential rage, but on a grander scale. And yeah, I too can’t help but raise an eyebrow over this whole mess but I think we need to all step back, breathe, and consider the pros and cons of the situation. Now you might be saying “Beta, didn’t you wash your hands of Star Wars a while ago? Didn’t you basically write a whole blog about it?” And I’d reply “Shut up, asshole.” And afterwards I’d explain that despite some loss of faith Star Wars was still a huge part of my life since I was a baby up until about 1999 and even since then I still maintain a great admiration of the world building that goes into it. I feel that I, like so many other folk to there, have a stake in this development.

Let’s weigh the “Good” and the “Bad” after the jump, shall we?

Monday, December 3, 2012

6 Things I Learned from NaNoWriMo

Beta Magnus Wins!
National Novel writing Month 2012 is in the books (see what I did there?) and I successfully completed the 50,000 word challenge. I even smashed my previous year’s attempt in the first five days or so, which was really cool. “Project: Brothers” (the codename for the book) wasn’t finished in that time as fifty thousand is actually not enough for a proper full size book and I’ll likely need an additional sixty thousand at least to finish it. I’m hopeful that I can finish the book by the end of January though and then spend the rest of 2013 editing and re-writing. I’m sorry to say that I wasn’t able to finish any updates for the blog this past month, partly because of NaNoWriMo but also partly due to very specific problems in my personal life the last few weeks (don’t worry, I won’t get into them. This still isn’t that kind of blog). But now that November is over I plan to getting back to work and giving you as many Nerd Blogs as I can produce.

Today though I wanted to share some of my experiences with NaNoWriMo, as it turns out that it was one of the better things I’ve ever gotten involved with in my life. I’m breaking it down into the 6 Things I Learned from Doing National Novel Writing Month.

As a quick reminder: National Novel Writing Month takes place November 1st through November 30th and is a challenge to write 50, 000 words in that time frame. It can be any kind of prose (I chose original fiction) so long as it isn’t a project started before November 1st.

Six Things after the jump.

Tuesday, October 30, 2012

New Zombie Apocalypse NOW! EP (It's Free)

If you don’t know by now that I’m the lead singer of a nerdy punk band then you’re either a) new to the blog or b) really good at ignoring anything I post that doesn’t have “Review” in the title. Nevertheless I’m the frontman of a Chicago based called “Zombie Apocalypse NOW!” We’ve released a new album, an EP called “Fresh Fruit for Rotting Flesh”. We’ve released EPs before, and I’ve posted about them here before, but the biggest difference between this and our previous albums is that this one will be FREE (Well technically it’s “Name Your Own Price” in case anyone wanted to donate to us but in practice you can just choose to not pay anything). Now the whole thing is streaming on bandcamp but, again, it’s free so why not download it and listen to it from the comfort of your mobile MP3 playing device?

I'm the black one
For those interested there’s more info after the jump.

Review: Looper

So here we are; yet another Joseph Gordon-Levitt flick. Hey, I’m not complaining. By now you should all be well aware of my love for JGL and know that I’ll watch anything he’s in. Three JGL flicks in one year = excellent year for movies.

Looper is the flick that we’re looking at today. It’s the new film by Rian Johnson who previously directed Brick and The Brothers Bloom…neither of which I’ve seen. There’s been a lot of buzz about this film because essentially JGL is playing opposite Bruce Willis with the twist is that they’re playing the same character. Time travel, baby! But a lot of people have been pretty damn skeptical about whether JGL was the right choice to play a young Willis (except that Levitt was cast first so Willis is actually supposed to play an old JGL). I have faith in Beta is Dead’s number one actor, so I’m willing to give this movie the benefit of the doubt.

Full review after the jump.

Sunday, October 28, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #12

We’ve finally made it to the end of this long, long, long, series. I’m really late to the party on this because fans have already moved on to Avengers vs. X-Men: Consequences and Uncanny X-Men #20, which continues deals with the aftermath. Still it wouldn’t be right if I didn’t do this last review.

Avengers vs. X-Men #12 was written by Jason Aaron with art by Adam Kubert (Pencils), John Dell with Mark Morales & Kubert (Inks), and Laura Martin with Justin Ponsor (Colors). I got most of my rage about Cyclops’ treatment last time so I think I can keep this from being a rant. I’ll discuss the issue itself and then conclude with my final thoughts on the series as a whole. Past reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10, 11

Final AvX review after the jump.

Thursday, October 25, 2012

Housekeeping for November

Hey guys. Sorry about lack of updates the last two weeks or so. I’ve been distracted by my band’s new album that we’ve been working on that will be released today (I’ll provide a link later). I have the last AvX review mostly done and I will hopefully get it up by tomorrow evening, with a review of Looper and the third series of the Doctor Who Revival before the end of the month. However right now I wanted to talk a bit about what’s going on next month. 

As you know I write articles here and elsewhere but I actually went to college for fiction and playwriting. So, as with last year, I’m going to be spending most of my time in November participating in National Novel Writing Month. When I did last year’s event I was so caught up in it I didn’t write a single blog for the whole month, which ended up killing the site’s traffic. Therefore while my focus will still be on NaNoMo I will try to keep a presence throughout the month. Partly I’ll try to keep doing movie reviews but they will likely be shorter than normal and I'm not sure I'll be able to do all that many. I’ll also force myself to give updates on the progress of the novel; this may help motivate me to actually finish it if my progress is up for the while world to see. So anyway it hopefully won’t be as bad as last year.

If you’re really interested in how the book is doing I’ll likely have daily updates on my Twitter account (@JasonBetaMagnus). Thank you for your understanding.

Wednesday, October 17, 2012

Anime Review: True Tears

Another anime review? So soon? What is this, 2010? I ended up going through this show really quickly and it left me very, err, let’s say “talkative”. Longtime fans of the blog may remember that I sometimes get a bit flustered and annoyed with how much science fiction/fantasy based anime I watch and somewhat yearned for something based in reality for a change. Well True Tears is my reward.

True Tears is a 2008 anime that is based on a Visual Novel of the same name. I can’t recall if I’ve talked about visual novels before but basically they’re video game-like digital literature. They’re not actually video games (mostly) but they tend to be “Choose Your Own Adventure” type of narratives with vastly different branching scenarios. Many, many of them are labeled as dating sims. A lot of those are also pornography. Yep. The closet example I can think of off-hand is the BlazBlue fighting game series as its story mode is in the visual novel style (but itself wouldn’t be considered one). The most infamous visual novel may be School Days which featured a bunch of endings that involved crazy-ass murders and soul crushing despair before getting an anime adaption that ran with that theme with horrific results. Visual novels are very popular in Japan, and a lot of anime are based on them, but they don’t really appear too much in America.

Weirdly True Tears apparently doesn’t have anything to do with the original visual novel except for the name; not the setting, not the plot, not the characters, not even the artwork. I’m not sure why this is but if I were to guess I’d say it might be because the anime studio didn’t want to make an show where fans essentially already know all the possible endings or perhaps the studio came up with its own original show but decided it would sell better if it had the same name of a popular visual novel. Regardless the show was produced by P.A. Works, Lantis, and Bandai Visual in 2008. Bandai Entertainment licensed and released it in North America later that year. A mundane, romance anime set in the real world with no fantastical elements? What could possibly go wrong?

 Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: The review contains MASSIVE spoilers as I apparently didn't give a crap if I spoiled every detail of the show's ending. Read at your own risk.] 

Sunday, October 14, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #11

Avengers vs. X-men #11 is written Brian Michael Bendis. The art team consists of Oliver Coipel on pencils, Mark Morales on inks, and Laura Martin on colors. Previous reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9, 10.

There’s not much to say in today’s intro. Instead of talking about the comic I want to briefly talk about Cyclops. When I was a kid, in the single digits, I was a big fan of the pilot X-Men cartoon “Pryde of the X-Men” which is my earliest recollection of comic book superheroes and Stan Lee (who narrated the thing). I’d watch that thing over and over. Of all the characters I found myself relating to Cyclops the most. Stiff, uptight Cyclops who no one else seemed to like. So responsible, so smart and yet he was always depressed because of his powers, the very thing that made him special. That was me; I was lonely, I always tried to do the responsible thing, no one seemed to like me for it and I was always depressed from childhood pretty much until today. I didn’t relate to badass Wolverine or even Storm, the first black superhero I ever saw; it was always Scott Summers. As I got older my love of the character only grew and I began seeing as representing everything I thought superheroes should be, even though his comic wasn’t really conducive to proper super heroic actions. I love Cyclops.
Why is Cyclops always trying to blast the sky in these pictures?
But being a Cyclops fan is tough. It seems like the whole world dislikes him. His appearances in the live action films were pathetic. He’s constantly playing second banana to Wolverine in ALL the cartoons. And worst of all it feels like the writers have been purposely writing him terribly for the last twelve years or so, ever since he merged with Apocalypse in The Twelve storyline. Since then he’s been a cold, distant outsider, a cheater, a militant, a dictator, and now in this series, a mad god. The only time he has been written well these past twelve years seemingly was during Joss Whedon’s run on Astonishing X-Men, because Whedon got what the character was all about. But even in the years since that run ended things have been awful. I’m mentioning all this because this is the issue where Scott Summers both doesn’t die like I was afraid he might but also dies in the worst possible way.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: Full spoilers ahead.]

Thursday, October 11, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #10

[So apparently my scanner picked this week to stop working and pretty much delayed me in doing AvX reviews. It’s working now so hopefully I can get back to it.]

I keep falling behind when doing these Avengers vs. X-Men reviews and I think I’m starting to understand why: I’m not super into it. It’s probably because of how many there is too it; twelve issues is a lot. However I like to finish what I start (that’s probably mostly true) and there’s three issues left so I can see the finish line. In theory I could get these all done this week [Nope. My wonky scanner saw to that not being the case]. And in theory were heading into the climax, and Marvel has a great history of ending their crossovers strongly, right? Right? Anybody…? Anyway I need to review Looper and a new anime and this crap is in the damn way!

Avengers vs. X-Men #10 is primary written by Ed Burbaker. The art team continues to consist of the same people: Adam Kubert on pencils, John Dell on inks and Laura Martin with Larry Molinar on colors. Previous AvX reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8, 9.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There are some spoilers in this book, but it's a pretty old issue at this point so it shouldn't be a huge deal]

Thursday, October 4, 2012

Anime Review: Rideback

Do you remember way back in my reviews for Demonic Devil Emperor Satan King Daimao and Ga-Rei Zero when I said I watched three anime series back to back in one sitting and it basically drove me insane? Well the third anime I viewed that day was Rideback. I didn’t review it back then because I actually didn’t finish the last two episodes. By the time I got around to doing so I had pretty much forgotten the plot so I decided to re-watch the whole thing. It turns out that going through it a second time was something of a horrible mistake and it took me FOREVER to finally watch it. It’s done now so let’s review it and move on to some other anime series.

Rideback is a 2009 anime based on a manga of the same name. The show was produced by Madhouse, one of the most well-known anime production companies, who also responsible for Princess Resurrection and Highschool of the Dead (among many, many others). FUNimation licensed and released it in 2011. At twelve episodes it’s another fairly short series but believe me, it felt a lot longer.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There's at least one outstanding spoiler in this review, so proceed at your own risk.]

Friday, September 28, 2012

Review: Dredd

Today is my birthday, from your point of view. I’m actually speaking to you from the past because I don’t want to work on my special day. I was thinking about throwing up a self-indulgent fluff piece but unfortunately I went to go see Dredd this past Sunday and now I need to talk about it.

Dredd is Hollywood’s second attempt at making a movie based on Judge Dredd, a British comic book character first seen in 1977. In 1995 a film version of the comic was made starring Sylvester Stallone as the title character. It’s widely regarded as complete and utter garbage and fans of the comic note that it horrendously messes up the spirit of the original charter. So no sequels for that flick. However in 2012 a new Judge Dredd film hit theaters. When I saw the trailers for this movie I was hooked. I was incredibly stoked to catch this movie; I would have put it on my Summer Movie list…except that it came out in September. It’s directed by Peter Travis who’s done nothing I’ve seen before. There’s about seventeen years’ worth of bad blood for this film due to its predecessor. Does Dredd live up to its comic or is it a repeat offender of extremely shitty cinema?

Full review after the jump.

Thursday, September 27, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #9

My catch up of Avengers vs. X-Men continues. Before I get into it I want to point out that the length of this series is a bit ridiculous. I mean really; twelve issues? That’s twice as long as the average modern crossover event.\ This is in line with the old school twelve issue maxiseries of the 1980s (The Secret Wars, Crisis on Infinite Earths) but those books came out over the course of a year. AvX came out in half that time. It feels kind of like I’m drowning in issues of this book. That said DC has released fifty-two issues or so of book over a year (52, Countdown) and in comparison Marvel is almost being restrained. Of course 52 is considered one of the best superhero comics of the 2000s but I’m not convinced people will be calling AvX one of the best comics of the 2010s eight or nine years from now.

Anyway Avengers vs. X-Men #9 was written by Jason Aaron, whom I’m not overly fond of, and the art team remains the same as last time: Adam Kubert on pencils, John Dell on inks and Laura Martin with Larry Molinar on colors. Previous AvX reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7, 8.

By the way; I've finally read up to issue 11 so  there's no need to protect myself from spoilers in the comment section; it's unlocked now.

More agony AvX after the jump.

[WARNING: Some minor (in my opinion) spoilers ahead]

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #8

Another issue of Avengers vs. X-Men, another dollar. Nothing new to report, just remember that I’ve disabled the comment section temporally so no one accidentally spoilers future issues for me. For the previous reviews click the following: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6, 7.

This time Brian Michael Bendis is on writing duty while a new art team of Adam Kubert on pencils, John Dell on inks and Laura Martin with Larry Molinar on colors. So let’s get on with Avengers vs. X-Men #8.

Full review after the jump.

Thursday, September 20, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #7

I’ve greatly slacked on reviewing Avengers vs. X-Men and by now the series is pretty much wrapped up. So I need to work my ass off to catch up. As of this writing I own AvX through #10 (but I haven’t read #9 and #10 yet) and I will do my best to write them up. They will likely be quick and dirty, but I don’t want to do mini-reviews if I can help it.

By the way according to every nerd source on the internet Issue #11 involves [Spoiler] an important death. Now I don’t know who because I’ve tried to avoid finding out until I actually get to read the book. My first thought is of course Cyclops (for reasons I discussed last last time) I may be temporally locking the comment section for these reviews so no overzealous reader tells me. 

The art team remains Olivier Coipel on pencils, Mark Morales on inks, and Laura Martin on colors and Matt Fraction returns as writer. Previous reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Full review after the jump.

Thursday, September 13, 2012

Review: Haywire

I just had to opportunity to finally watch Haywire, an action thriller that was released way back in January of this year. I was desperate to catch this film in theaters but unfortunately I was unable to (which happens a lot to me actually. As many films as I was watch a year I still can’t watch everything I want). Why was I so gung-ho to watch this random movie? I was fascinated by the fact that this was wide release film with a very impressive supporting cast of well known actors (including Michael Douglas, Antonio Banderas, Ewan McGregor, Michael Fassbender, and Channing Tatum for some reason) but the star of the film was a woman who I never heard of. Who was this unknown actress that a studio had enough faith in to bill ahead of all these established stars?

It turns out it was Gina Carano who is not famous for her acting but rather as one of the most well-known female mixed martial artists in the world. Guys, Hollywood went out of their way to recruit a woman who’s major claim to fame was beating the shit out of people (as opposed to an actress they teach how to “stage fight”) to star in an action oriented movie. She’s a full-on lady action hero! None of this “married to the director somehow means action hero” bullshit the Resident Evil movies feed down our throats but rather instead we got a woman who actually looks like she can do the stuff they have her do…because she pretty much can. So anyway bottom line is that this flick will either be really cool or f**king bad.

Full review after the jump.

Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Review: Premium Rush

I’m going to go ahead and make this official: Joseph Gordon-Levitt is Beta is Dead’s number one favorite actor currently active in Hollywood. Rejoice.

Enjoy that hair while it lasts, buddy
Anyway Premium Rush is the new film from director David Koepp. It’s about bike messengers. Now I don’t like bikers. That may sound a bit harsh but when I drive I’m always finding bikers riding all over the road, running stop signs and red lights and generally being in the way. When I’m walking they tend to almost run me off the damn sidewalk. It’s frustrating. Now I hear that New York bike messengers are pretty much this but turned to eleven. So I guess in theory the “action packed” of a reckless bike messenger would make a good summer action thriller, right?

 In a hilarious turn of event the film’s production studio is being sued by author John Quirk as he alleges that his book The Ultimate Rush was the basis of this movie’s plot. I guess his book is about roller blading messengers in California but also supposedly character names were used as well. I’m not sure how true his claims are but in a situation where Hollywood may or may not have screwed someone out of money I’m usually going to assume that they did the screwing. You know, because Hollywood is evil.

Extreme Bike Messaging after the jump.

Tuesday, September 4, 2012

Nerd Rage #11: Gwen Stacy, Dead or Alive

What? A picture of Gwen Stacy alive and without Spider-Man?
What madness is this?!
I imagine that by now most of you have seen The Amazing Spider-Man (at least if you cared about seeing it). The film has gotten mixed reviews but one thing I think we can all agree on is that Emma Stone was a great female lead in the film, especially compared to Kirsten Dunst in the original Spider-Man trilogy. If you’re not a big comic book fan it’s possible that you were surprised by the fact that Peter Parker was eyeing a blonde girl named Gwen Stacy rather than Mary Jane Watson (even Stone admitted she had no idea who the character was before she took the role). Gwen doesn’t show up in adaptations too often, for actually pretty dumb reasons, but the last few years she’s been appearing a bit more. The Spectacular Spider-Man (the TV show) featured her as a main character and I believe is the first cartoon to do that (the only one time I recall ever seeing her was in one episode of Spider-Man: The Animated Series and she was way out of character).

Here’s my point: I was so impressed with Emma Stone’s performance (and the pretty darn good characterization) that I started thinking; why is Gwen Stacy not in the comics today. Well short answer is that she’s dead. She died in 1973 after being killed by Spidey’s archenemy the Green Goblin. The death has stuck all this time, nearly forty years; she’s been dead longer than Marvel’s target audience has been alive. Today I want to talk about Gwen, about her character, about why creators are hesitant to use her and whether or not it’s finally time to bring her back into the fold.

Before we get to the good stuff I want to make it clear that I’m still a fan of the Peter/MJ relationship and am far more interested in seeing that restored than anything to do with Gwen. I didn’t grow up with Spider-Man dating Gwen; I grew up with Spider-Man married to Mary Jane. This is just 1) a hypothetical situation that doesn’t mean anything and 2) even if it’s a possibility with the Spider-Marriage looking to be gone for good it would be a bit close minded of me to not revisit this character.

Let’s learn about Gwen Stacy after the jump.

Thursday, August 30, 2012

Support Cassandra Cain

I'm still working on the next blog (which will be a Nerd Rage, so it's taking longer than a review) so in order to pass the time I decided to bring this to your attention. If you like or are interested in non-white female superheroes then you'll want to check this out.

Pictured: Toxic material. So I'm told
So you guys should know by now that I’m a big fan of DC Comics character and former Batgirl Cassandra Cain. For those of you not in the know Cassandra was a member of the Batman Family, Bruce Wayne's adopted daughter and, of course, served as Batgirl from 1999 to 2009; a full ten years. The character had several ups and downs (I wrote an article that detailed some of this). She eventually passed the mantle of Batgirl to Stephanie Brown and then disappeared from comics for a short while before resurfacing under a new costumed identity called Black Bat in mid-2011. Then, before anything really got to be done with her and her new role in the comics, The Great DC Reboot of 2011 happened and, much like Stephanie and my beloved Wally West, she was apparently wiped out of continuity (her mother, Lady Shiva, was dramatically de-aged in the reboot making unlikely that Cass exists). She has not been used in any capacity and even when writers had ideas how to bring her back they have been vetoed. There have been murmurs and rumors that key executives at DC consider her (and others) to be toxic to DC, whatever that means, and thus won’t use her. As of right now Cassandra is not being allowed to be written about and her fans, who were very vocal about her treatment over the years, are left with many questions and few very unsatisfactory answers.

However a new movement conceived to show DC that Cass still has fans that support her and show that she can still be relevant is underway. Tomorrow (August 31st) the Cassandra Cain Campaign will begin. The organizers are asking fans to go to Comixology and purchase a digital copy of the Batgirl #1 (2000) which was the first issue of Cain’s ongoing series (for the low price of $1.99). The goal is to get the title onto the site’s bestseller list to make a statement to DC about the financial viability of the character. The tublr starting this campaign has all the details you need about all of this so go check it out here.

Lately a lot of people in my personal life have been complaining to me about the lack of women of color as superheroes. Well this is something you can do to help with that.

Sunday, August 26, 2012

Kickstarter Weekends: KMS CD Compilation, Leaving Megalopolis, Through the Fire

It’s time again for more plugs and karma gathering as I list off my favorite current Kickstarter projects. [EDIT: Yes, I know it's literally the end of the weekend but I needed to hep my girlfriend move the last few days, thus this is late. YOU GOTTA DEAL WITH IT!!!] We’ll again be looking at three projects and if you like what you see feel free to pledge to the cause (they will reward you with cool things, of course) or even just do what I’m doing and help spread the word around as best you can. Now before we check out the new additions let’s look at what became of the projects from last month, all of which have wrapped.

MALICE the Web Series: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $10,170 ($8,000 Goal)

This one was obviously the one dear to my heart. I was worried for a while but it managed to surpass its goal. I even got a “thank you” from series creator Phillip Cook for helping put out the word and later a thank you tweet from series star Brittany Martz…that she sent out to pretty much everyone who donated meaning I’m not all that special after all. Sigh.

Star Command: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $151,807 ($100,000 Goal)

No surprises here; there was pretty much no way it wasn’t going to be successful. I almost wish it had done even better just because that would just make the game ultimately better. Still it’s nothing to sneeze at.

Clandestine - Follow the Path: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $95,685 ($75,000 Goal)

Thousand Pounds’ new web series, if anything like their shorts, will be a treat for anyone who is a fan of highly choreographed martial art epics. It’s currently in pre-production and the final product is still a ways off. Perhaps I’ll try my hand at reviewing web shows when it comes out.

Three new KS Projects after the jump.

Monday, August 20, 2012

200th Blog: Review of Spider-Man - One Moment in Time

Two hundred blogs. Woooo! The sheer amount of words I’ve written in 199 blogs is actually very staggering to me, as I can’t even seem to finish a writing novel. Still I’m very proud that I’ve managed to stick with the blog this long. To celebrate I wanted to do a follow-up to my 100th post which, if you recall, was a very detailed review of Spider-Man: One More Day, one of the worst comic books I ever had the displeasure of reading and the reason I haven’t bought any new Spider-Man comics since (well, at least until today’s comic).

I talked about One More Day to great degree in both the 100th blog and the prologue in the 99th blog so I don’t want to repeat myself too bad. However if you’re too lazy to check them out basically the comic involved Spider-Man and his wife Mary Jane Watson making a deal with Mephisto, the closest entity Marvel Comics has to Satan, in order to save the life of his dying Aunt May whom was shot because Spidey was stupid enough to reveal his secret identity to the world and then decide to betray Iron Man thus losing any protection his family had received and causing them to become fugitives. The book was really, really poorly written, extremely contrived and rushed, and ultimately an unsatisfying end to Spidey and MJ’s twenty-year marriage for those of us who were fans of it. Not to mention the idea of Spider-Man making a deal with the devil so he doesn’t have to take responsibility for his own follies kind of pretty much kills the character’s integrity for me.

The comic concluded with Peter Parker and MJ ‘s marriage never happening (in fact they were broken up, actually), his identity again now a secret, his web shooters restored (the years prior to this he had developed “organic webbing”), and Harry Osborn, long dead son of the Green Goblin and Peter’s best friend, suddenly alive and well. So obviously there were questions that we had with this new status that we all really wanted answers to, including:

-What changes to Spider-Man canon have happened now that the marriage has ben retconed out of existence?

-What happened Spider-Man’s organic webbing? And did the extra powers he gained in The Other storyline hold up?

-How is Harry Osborn still alive? Did he ever become the Green Goblin? And since the Clone Saga turned out to be a(n extremely convoluted) revenge plot by Harry’s father because of his son’s death does this mean that that storyline never actually happened?

Pictured: Peter Parker at the end of One More Day. Probably
In 2010, three years after the taste of One More day had started to wash away, then Marvel Editor-in-Chief Joe Quesada (the architect of One More Day and outspoken opponent of the Spider-Marriage) decided to release a new Spider-Man story to address questions following the controversial comic. No, not the questions above (though to be fair some of them were answered during the post-OMD Amazing Spider-Man comic) but rather the question of “why did Peter and Mary Jane never get married?” Which is actually really annoying because I’m not sure who the hell wanted that question answered. I mean, people who were pro-marriage were not going to want to relive the crap from OMD and people who were enjoying the Brand New Day storyline (post-OMD Amazing Spider-Man) probably didn’t want to have their regular comic interrupted by rehashing old shit. So, because absolutely no one asked for it, Spider-Man: One Moment in Time hit the stands.

Written by Quesada with art from Paolo Rivera it covers The Amazing Spider-Man #638-641. As a warning this review will likely be pretty a pretty nerdy and passionate rant. It likely won’t be as bad as my One More Day review but if you aren’t really into the whole “Angry Dork” thing you might want to wait until blog #201 comes out.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: Spoilers abound in this review, as I pretty much stopped giving a crap about five pages into this mess]

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Review: Moonrise Kingdom

I literally changed what the subject of blog #199 half a dozen times. I basically have five other blogs I wanted to do but due to the 200th blog looming I’ve been going crazy with what I should put on before it. I was supposed to do another Kickstarter Weekend a few days ago but I ended scrapping it at the last minute (and I’m not sure I will be able to do it this weekend). Next blog with finally be the big one so hopefully things will get back on a normal schedule afterwards.

If you aren’t familiar with the works of director Wes Anderson then you are missing out. One of the best and unique directors out there Anderson’s movies usually are at the very least entertaining. Among them is The Royal Tenenbaums which is one of my top three favorite films of all time (it changes pretty regularly but it’s often number one). So whenever he makes a new film I usually take notice. Moonrise Kingdom is his latest film and, though it took a little bit of time for it to hit Kalamazoo, I did in fact get to watch it. Is it another hit or has Anderson finally made his first terrible film?

Adventure and romance after the jump.

Thursday, August 9, 2012

Review: The Dark Knight Rises

Sorry it took so long for a new blog.  It was partly because I didn't particularly feel like writing a review of this movie immediately after the tragic shooting that occurred and also partly because I've been getting ready for my 200th blog post and I've been struggling with the schedule of stuff I needed to get out.

There’s not much to say about The Dark Knight Rises. It’s the sequel to The Dark Knight, which it is itself a sequel to Batman Begins. All three movies were directed by Christopher Nolan who also directed Inception, which was #2 pick for best film of 2010 (second only Scott Pilgrim vs. The World). I’ve been led to believe the original sequel to The Dark Knight was meant to heavily feature The Joker (Hence the way he was defeated in the second movie while Two-Face was foolishly disposed of) but due to the death of Heath Ledger they were forced to go a different route. As a result the movie has closer ties to the first film than I suspect was originally planned.

The hype for this movie has been understandably high. After all The Dark Knight was considered by many, but not everyone, to be the best superhero film ever made and a sequel to something like that has a lot to love up to. So did The Dark Knight Rises fall above or below the perhaps unrealistically high bar its predecessor created?

Find out after the jump.

Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Review: Avengers vs. X-Men #6

By now you’ve likely heard of the upcoming project called Marvel NOW! If you haven’t basically it’s the Marvel Comics’ answer to DC’s New 52, or The Great DC Reboot of 2011, with the difference that instead of being a huge continuity reboot it’s supposedly a new wide spread status quo with new #1s and new costumes for many characters. I’ve heard some people saying it’s more of an equivalent of the “DC Explosion” from the 1970s. It’s really hard to tell right now, especially since the new line will supposedly be the follow-up to Avengers vs. X-Men.

Anyway I bring this up because, just like I was with X-Men: Schism, I’m a bit worried that Cyclops may not survive. Mainly it’s for two reasons: 1) During crossover, and really just the last couple of years, Cyclops has been portrayed in such a way that he needs redemption but I’m worried it will be at the cost of his life due to how low he seems to keep falling. I can totally see, from a storytelling perspective, Scott at the climax of this series as gesture of his him making up for everything he’s done. 2) One of the upcoming Marvel NOW! titles, All New X-Men, features the original X-Men (from the 60s) pulled the past into the present, meaning that there’d be duplicates of Iceman, Angel, Beast and Cyclops. I’m one of the biggest Cyclops fans you’ll talk to and even I don’t see the point of having two Scott Summers running around the main Marvel Universe. Killing off the main one would sure solve the problem. We’ll see.

If you want to catch up on my previous AvX reviews check out 1, 2, 3, 4, and 5. This issue features Jonathan Hickman on writing duties and different art team of Olivier Coipel on pencils, Mark Morales on inks, and Laura Martin on colors; the artwork changes up starting this issue.

More Phoenix Force hijinks after the jump.

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