Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Review: The Wolf of Wall Street

This will be my last blog post of the year [Editor’s Note: No shit, Sherlock]. Hopefully I won’t be idle too long as January is my anniversary and my annual Top Ten movie list. 

Anyway today we’re looking at The Wolf of Wall Street, a film based on the memoir of the same name by Jordan Belfort. Now Belfort is kind of the poster boy for reckless and immoral pursuit of capitalistic ends that messed up our economy so badly. Hench the idea of Hollywood making a movie about his exploits is a bit unsettling. Regardless this film has been in the works for a long time. Leonardo DiCaprio apparently was in a bidding war with Brad Pitt over the film rights to this flick, which DiCaprio eventually won, but the movie was in developmental hell for a few years before it was finally green lit. Martin Scorsese, who had been on and off the project for the beginning, came on as director. This movie had some potential however its dicey subject matter and the fear of glorifying what is one of the most maddening type of criminal act in modern American culture puts a big flashing warning light on top of it. I’m not sure it was moral of me to even watch this film at all but for the sake of this blog I hesitantly did so.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains some spoilers. But take in mind this movie is based on real events, so I don't feel that bad about it. You crybaby]

Monday, December 30, 2013

Review: Thor - The Dark World

Better do this before the year suddenly stops.

Marvel Studios continues its cinematic universe with Thor: The Dark World, a sequel to 2011’s Thor as well as last years The Avengers. Like many of Marvel’s movies this one had a hard time getting off the ground due to issues finding a director. Kenneth Branagh, who directed the first film, did not return for this one. Initially Marvel hired Patty Jenkins to step in but she quit a few months later citing “creative differences”. If you believe the rumors Marvel has a very bad habit of being extremely controlling over their films which supposedly is what caused friction between the studio and Jon Favreau during Iron Man 2 and Edward Norton during The Incredible Hulk. Anyway Marvel eventually settled on Alan Taylor who hasn’t directed a feature film in ten years. He has been working in television this whole time and most recently worked on The Game of Thrones, which is almost certainly what got him this job. Reviews for this movie were a bit mixed, much like every nerdy film this year it seems, but as a fan of first movie and The Avengers movie I was never going to avoid this flick.

Full review after the jump.

Thursday, December 26, 2013

Mini-Reviews: Anchorman 2, American Hustle

My quest to find a 5-panda movie before the end of the year continues and I have to tell you I’m starting to get pretty frustrated. I’m basically going to the movies every other day now and it’s getting kind of ridiculous. On the bright side no one can ever accuse me of not supporting my local movie theater. Well, not my local move theater since I don’t have an address. But someone’s local theater, surely.

Today we’re doing Mini-Reviews and will be looking at to movies set in the past: American Hustle and Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues.

Two new reviews after the jump.

Monday, December 16, 2013

Review: Frozen (2013)

As far as Disney’s animated films in the 21st Century go they have been very hit or miss. Since the rise of Pixar Disney’s solo efforts haven't reached the pinnacle of success they once ruled over. They’ve made good films (usually ones that were really outside the box such as The Emperor’s New Groove) but they’ve also made some pretty forgettable features and none of them were the same type of smash hit as classic flicks like Beauty and the Beast, Aladdin, and The Lion King. The last few years they’ve been returning to the "Disney Princess" formula with varying levels of success. The Princess and the Frog did bad enough that it effectively killed off the concept of cell animated films [Author’s Note: F**K YOU, HOLLYWOOD!!!!!!] and Tangled, which had a ton of marketing problems, did well and was critically acclaimed despite the fact that it wasn’t all that good. Wreck-It Ralph was easily my favorite Disney film in recent years though it does not get the credit it deserves. Also it’s not a Disney Princess movie. Wait, maybe it is.

Anyway here we are at Disney’s latest attempt to justify not just giving Pixar total control over their animation department, Frozen. This movie, like The Little Mermaid, is based on a fairy tale by Hans Christian Andersen. In this case The Snow Queen. I don’t know why they didn’t just call this movie “The Snow Queen” but I’m sure it was a marketing decision and also dumb and probably sexist. I have a lot of interest in this film because when I was in grade school (So long ago. WHAT HAPPENED TO MY YOUTH!!!!!) we did extensive studying of The Snow Queen even though it’s not the most famous fairy tale in the world. Judging by the trailers Disney didn’t feel a great need to stay accurate to the original story. This film was directed Chris Buck and Jennifer Lee (Lee was also one of the writers of Wreck-It Ralph) and written by the two and Shane Morris.

So Wreck-It Ralph is a pretty hard act to follow. Can Frozen continue the trend set by its predecessor or is it just another example of an overrated Disney movie?

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, December 11, 2013

Mini-Reviews: The Counselor, Oldboy (2013)

And I’m back. However I’m sad to report that I failed to finish the National Novel Writing Month challenge. I don’t want to bore you with my real life shit but I was distracted by a particularly bad personal issue that was immediately followed up by an equally life altering one so my November was mostly spent staring at ceilings in deep contemplation rather than writing (incidentally that’s also why it’s taken me so long to get this up). Things are still extremely volatile, my future is not very assured and I’m not feeling anything close to 100% or really up to doing any writing. BUT WRITING IS WHAT I MUST DO!!!!!

Anyway we’re firmly in December and you may have noticed that I haven’t written a single 5-Panda movie review this year. That’s not good. Frankly it hasn’t been a great year for movies, not like last year which had several really awesome films floating around (hell yeah Moonrise Kingdom, Looper, and Wreck-It Ralph). While I’ve seen good movies I’ve yet to see any truly great flicks this year and with my annual Top Ten Favorite Movie list just around the corner I’ve been stressing over what I’ve had to work with far. But it is Oscar bait season and there’s a lot movies coming out during this time that studios are banking on to be contenders for best film and other Academy Awards. So maybe if I watch as many of these movies as possible I’ll find that 5-Panda movie…or go insane from an overdose of pretension. We’ll see.

At least for today I’ll be doing the Mini-Review format. We’ll be looking at The Counselor, the latest film from Ridley Scott, and the American Oldboy remake.

Two new reviews after the jump.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

Review: Evil Dead (2013)

Happy Halloween, guys. Now I don’t normally do anything special for this occasion, mainly because I don’t enjoy being frightened like a lot of people do. However I decided to review the Evil Dead remake for a few reasons. 1) I legitimately wanted to see it in theaters but chickened out since (again) I’m not very fond on scaring myself. 2) The film makes a lot of use of practical effects as opposed to CGI, which as I understand it only uses the bare minimum of. These days a lot of horror films, science fiction films and even straight action films have been using computers to fake special effect. Even blood splatter being generated by CG is pretty common these days. I like practical effect because they are actually there, not added later in post-production. I guess director Fede Alvarez felt similarly as he went out of his way to achieve this. 3) The place I’m currently crashing on has a Blue-Ray copy of the film just sitting here calling my name. Hopefully that’s just colorful language I just used and not the first sign that I’m about to unleash demonic forces by succumbing to the movie’s allure.

Anyway as I said this is a remake of The Evil Dead, an iconic but low budget 1981 horror film directed by Sam Raimi and starring Bruce Campbell. The remake was produced by both men but directed by Fede Alvarez. It was released earlier this year to what I recall being shockingly positive reaction. Well, positive reactions and a tremendous amount of disgust by numerous viewers who were freaked out by all those practical effects. So the question isn’t just whether this is a decent film but also whether I can hold my dinner as I watch it. Let’s find out.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

National Novel Writing Month Annual Disappearing Act 2013

Hey guys. If you’ve been reading this blog for a few years you may be aware of this already but for those of you who have started reading more recently this may be news to you.

So November is upon us which means it’s once again National Novel Writing Month, which for most of you it likely won’t matter much. But for me and all the other would-be fiction writers out there I plan on taking the annual challenge of writing 50,000 words in a month. Two years ago I tried and failed to achieve this but last year I managed to finish it, despite great distraction from my personal life. This year is arguably way worse as far as shit in my life goes but I at least want to make the attempt.

So as far as Beta is Dead goes for the next few weeks I will likely be putting in on the back-burner as trying to write at least 1,600 words a day for a book and then writing articles for which I do not get paid for is a tricky thing and easily leads to burn out. That said I’m not officially on hiatus so if I have time and am feeling up to it I’ll try to get something up on Beta is Dead. However just remember that I’ve said that twice and in both instances I ended up not posting anything in November. (I'll also be upgrading the counter on the sidebar so in theory you can track progress that way as well)

I apologize for the inconvenience. I know that there aren’t many people who regularly visit this blog but I know you exist and I understand how frustrating it must be to have hardly gotten any blogs recetly only to be told “See you in a month”. I suggest following me, or otherwise keeping track of me, on twitter (@jasonbetamagnus) to keep up with the situation (I post links to new blogs on twitter) or maybe even to check out my progress in the challenge….or to curse at me for not doing the blog. It’s a free internet; I can’t force you not to troll me.

Anyway following November things should get back to normal. If the Battle of the Atom reviews aren’t done by then they WILL be done by the end of the year and I will likely be posting several movie reviews as well. I also watched an anime recently so, assuming I can get it together enough to work on it, there may be a new anime review some time in December. For now please bear with me.

Monday, October 28, 2013

Review: X-Men Battle of the Atom Part 7

I’m way behind in this review series and indeed way behind on the blog in general. With National Novel Writing Month (aka my annual month long self-imposed exile from working on the blog) coming up in just days it’s pretty upsetting how little I’ve been able to write and post the last few weeks. I’m going to try to post a few articles before Friday marathon style but we’ll see if I’ll be able to manage it.

Anyway this is the next part in the Battle of the Atom X-over that’s taken over the X-Men titles. This review is of [Non-Adjective] X-Men #6 which was written by Brian Wood with art by David López (pencils) Cam Smith with Terry Pallot on inks and Laura Martin with Matt Milla on colors. Check out the previous reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, October 16, 2013

Review: X-Men - Battle of the Atom Part 6

Battle of the Atom Part Six. Not much to talk about so let’s just get into it. This review is of All-New X-Men #17 which was written by Brian Michael Bendis with art by Stuart Immonen (pencil), Wade Von Grawbadger (ink) and Marte Gracia (colors). Previous reviews: Parts 1, 2, 3, 4, 5.

Full review after the jump.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Review: X-Men - Battle of the Atom Part 5

Sorry this has taken so long. Lately I’ve been feeling unmotivated and, just like through summer, am dealing with personal problems that have been consuming my time.

Anyway we’re still looking at X-Men: Battle of the Atom and thankfully this is the issue where shit starts getting interesting. It only took four issues…well, four and two thirds because things still take a while to get to the point. Really the ball drops in the next issue, which I would totally like to get to in less than a week and a half if that is at all possible.

For the record we’re reviewing Wolverine and the X-Men #36, which was written by Jason Aaron with art from Giuseppe Camuncoli on pencils and Matt Milla with Edgar Delgado on colors. The previous reviews: 1, 2, 3, 4.

Review of part five after the jump.

Monday, September 30, 2013

Review: X-Men - Battle of the Atom Part 4

Battle of the Atom isn’t exactly the most exciting comic book I’ve reviewed on this blog so far but it’s also not the worst one either. It’s sort of just there; it’s not great but it’s not bad. Having now read up to part five and I can say that things will pick up. However part four, which we are reviewing now, is very much so a transitional issue, which means even less will happen here than it did in the previous three parts. Oh joy. So this will probably be a shorter review. The last three reviews: Part 1, Part 2, part 3

For the record this is a review of Uncanny X-Men (Vol. 3) #12 which was written by Brian Michael Bendis with art from Chris Bachalo (pencils), Tim Townsend, Mark Irwin, Jaime Mendoza, Victor Olazaba and Al Vey (inks) and Marte Gracia (colors).

Full review after the jump.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Review: X-Men - Battle of the Atom Part 3

So far behind…I don’t know what it is? I just can’t seem to sit down and review this stuff. Check out the reviews of Part One and Two

Anyway we’re now at part 3 of X-Men: Battle of the Atom. Last time we got the huge reveal of the new female Xorn actually being an adult Jean Grey, who look far too young to be from the future. Oh and also she’s alive, which is only odd when you remember in the present she’s supposed to be dead.

 Actually Jean Grey is not dead in the present, despite what her fellow X-Men believe. She was indeed killed by Xorn Pretending to Be Magneto Pretending to be Xorn in the storyline Planet X however she immediately was resurrected in the following storyline, Here Comes Tomorrow, in the future (time travel again?!) where she fully merges with the Phoenix Force becoming the White Phoenix of the Crown and eventually evolving to a higher plane of existence. I think somewhere in there she came back to the present.

No, I don’t know what the f**k I just wrote either.

We’ve seen the Phoenix since then; in Avengers vs. X-Men obviously the Phoenix Force was central to the plot but never once did Jean Grey as the White Phoenix come up. Furthermore the Phoenix was destroyed at the end of the storyline which is very confusing considering what we know about Jean Grey. As of this writing I have only read up to part four of Battle of the Atom so right now I don’t know if they’ve explained exactly what’s going on with this version of Jean or her connection to the Phoenix, so any confusing aspects of all this might be expertly explained in the future. For now I don’t know what the shit is going on.

...and yet Marvel won't ever bring Gwen Stacy back to life
I will make a bold prediction: the Jean Grey posing as Xorn will turn out not to be the one who died during Planet X but instead turn out to be the time displaced teenage Marvel Girl as an adult and she’s essentially trying to keep herself from making a horrifying mistake in the present. It’s just a guess and I can, and probably will, easily be wrong here.

Full review after the jump.

Sunday, September 22, 2013

Review: X-Men - Battle of the Atom Part 2

[Question: What’s the best way to delay a comic book review? Answer: Accidentally leave the comic in a different state when you hastily have to leave town. Oops.]

Today we again look at the new, ongoing X-Men crossover “epic” Battle of the Atom. Before we get into the review of Part Two proper let’s talk about that title. For part one click here.

For those of you who aren’t giant dorks like me you might have missed that the title is a play on the phrase “Children of the Atom” which is also the title of a 1953 novel by Wilmar H. Shiras. The book was about a group of young people who were born as mutants due to their parents’ exposure to a nuclear explosion years prior and now are gifted with superhuman intelligence. Apparently it’s never been officially confirmed but since the X-Men were originally depicted as a group of young mutants Stan Lee may have been heavily influenced by this book when he created their original comic (plus Stan Lee is well known for taking a lot of inspiration from popular fiction when creating comics so it would make historical sense). The X-Men, and mutants in general, have been referred to as “the Children of the Atom” for decades by Marvel Comics (often in the description of the team within the comics themselves) to the point that the title is probably more associated with them than with Shiras.

1950s speculative fiction is the best speculative fiction
So anyway “Battle” of the Atom would strongly imply a conflict between the X-Men, especially since the “original” children of the atom are present and accounted for. However as of this writing I’ve made it to Part Four of this series and so far it’s not exactly been the most explosive on confrontation. I’m just saying someone needs to get punched in the face and soon.

Full review after the jump.

Thursday, September 19, 2013

Review: X-Men - Battle of the Atom Part 1

[NOTE: While I started this review two weeks ago it’s taken me a long while to get around to finishing it. As such I’m behind on this whole thing, but hopefully I can catch up by the weekend, or at least by next Monday. No promises]

It feels like I just went through an X-Men crossover but technically it’s almost been a year since I did the last review for Avengers vs. X-Men. Still it seems like X-Men: Battle of the Atom sort of sneaked up on me, even though I was well aware of it. But I am interested in it so I’m going to tackle it, thus spamming you non-comic book fans for several weeks (months?) with unwanted comic book rambling. You’re welcome. Anyway X-Men: Battle for the Atom is a new ten part X-Over (as the cool kids call them) that is moving through X-Men, Uncanny-X-Men, All-New X-Men, and Wolverine and the X-Men in addition to its own self-title two-parter. It features the present day X-Men and the time-displaced teenage X-Men from the past facing off with against team of time-displaced X-Men from the future.

Have I mentioned that superhero comics often don’t make a lot of sense?

Normally I like to have pre-blogs that set up these big events but, as I said, this all kind of sneaked up on me and I didn’t have time. There’s not a heck of a lot of stuff you’d need to understand, really only two things, but I do feel we should talk a bit. So let’s do so right now VERY briefly.

Time travel is a very common plot device in X-Men comics, to the point that no less than three X-Men are actually from varying alternate futures. One of the most famous X-Men stories, Days of Future Past, set the stage for the team to have many, many time travel epics…a lot of which were dumb. It’s such a cliché at this point that certain X-Men can just build time machines casually and the team can pretty much go into the future or past anytime they want. It’s really important to note that Marvel Comics' official policy when it comes to time travel in their stories is that when you travel into the past you cannot change history, instead you merely create an alternate timeline (hence why Bishop, Cable and Rachel Summers can all exist in the present). However this is a rule that is broken ALL THE F**KING TIME! It gets broken so many times that in every instance I hear a writer or editor cite this rulewhen justifying something I kind of want to deck them. Bottom line: Battle of the Atom is by far not the first time this plot device will be used and it won’t be the last.

"Stay tuned for 33 years of Marvel recycling this story over and over again"
As we saw in AvX #12 and Uncanny X-Men #1 Cyclops, now a fugitive, has become the face of the mutant revolution which has freaked out his former teammates. Beast somehow gets the moronic brilliant idea to kidnap the original X-Men (teenage versions of Cyclops, Beat, Iceman, Angel and Marvel Girl) and bringing them to the present in order to somehow guilt trip Cyclops into surrendering to authorities…or something; it was not a good plan. When this doesn’t work (OH REALLY?!) everyone apparently decides that it’s okay for the teens to just hang out in the present for a while, despite the fact that they’re risking the fabric of reality by doing so. In fact the teens have already have experienced game changing alterations as the team now greatly distrust Teen Cyclops for shit he hasn’t done yet, Marvel Girl dumped him in favor of Teen Beast (Marvel Girl is Teenage Jean Grey so this is very bad) and Teen Angel has abandoned his friends to join the mutant revolution. Good job breaking time and space, modern day Beast.

A review of Battle of the Atom Part One after the jump.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Review: Kick-Ass 2 (Film)

I really enjoyed the original Kick-Ass despite its various flaws. Based on a comic book of the same name by Mark Millar and John Romita, Jr. they, as I understood, were banking on getting the book turned into a film from the day they started planning it. However it wasn’t a seamless translation. Actually the movie took major liberties with key characters and moments that, at the end of the day, made the film way more lighthearted and, in my opinion, a far easier to enjoy story (Big Daddy in the comic was significantly more crazy and pathetic in the comic and the main character does not win the girl at all).

A sequel wasn’t completely guaranteed following the first one but as it was something of a sleeper hit it was only a matter of time. Kick-Ass 2 is based on two sequel comics to the original story: the Hit-Girl miniseries and, unsurprisingly, Kick-Ass 2. But since the film still follows the continuity of the original movie it by default can only adapt so much from the comic it’s named after. However my main concern with the film was that Mathew Vaughn, who directed the original AND X-Men: First Class which was my favorite X-Men movie, would not be returning to direct this film (also he would not be directing a sequel to X-Men: First Class either, presumably because he hates us all).

But Hit-Girl is here and Hit-Girl was the reason we all loved the first one. So there’s hope.

Full review after the jump.

Sunday, September 1, 2013

Kickstarter Weekends Special Report: MALICE - Metamorphosis

There’s been a reason for the lack of updates the last few weeks and I may share them with you soon but today I am compelled to do a special Kickstarter Weekend. I’m going to talk about MALICE: Metamorphosis, which is a sequel to MALICE: The Webseries which was the first KS project I talked about on this blog which led me to starting my Kickstarter Weekend posts. I’ve decided to dedicate an entire post to this one project because I have a lot to say about it [EDIT: And I had to cut a lot of it out because it was rambling, but that’s kind of an indication of my feelings on it].

However just because I’m dedicating a lot of time to MALICE doesn’t mean we can ignore what we talked about last time. So before we discuss the new project let’s revisit some older ones.

Geek Bar Chicago: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $44,538 ($9,750 Goal)

As it reached its goal in a day there should be little surprise to see that Geek Bar’s campaign succeeded. It will still be a while before it’s done but once building is complete I plan on spending a decent amount of my time there.

Final Fantasy VII - The Web Series: Funding Suspended!

Final Earnings: $0 ($400,000 Goal)

Whether or not this project would have reached its particularly large goal isn’t certain but sadly it never got a chance: Square Enix got KS to take the whole page down due to “Copyright Violation”. I get it: you own a copyright and you need to protect it. But man, that just seemed harsh. I mean how many fan films based on copyrighted material have been produced in history? And lately how many of them have been funded through Kickstarter? (Answer: A lot) Maybe it was the scope of the project that freaked someone out or maybe it was the fact they actually called it “Final Fantasy” rather than something more original (Inspector Spacetime learned that the hard way) but it still kind of sucks that fans were not allowed to recreate their favorite video game as a live action experience. Shit like this makes you appreciate how gracious George Lucas was when it came to Star Wars fan films.

Anyway as I understand it was the KS page that got taken down, not the whole production but without the funding there’s no way it could work out. The people behind the web series had been attempting to contact Square Enix about the situation but they gave today (September 1st) as a deadline for themselves for when they give up the whole thing and as far as I’ve heard they’ve received no response. This web series will likely never happen. In related news Final Fantasy games have kind of sucked for the last twelve years.

Chroma Squad: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $97,148 ($55,000 Goal)

Lately I have become suspicious of indie video game companies using crowd funding for a list of reasons (for instance, the number of companies that had to go back to ask for more money and the large amount of creators who went bankrupt even after getting more than their original goal). That said Chroma Squad is a video game about managing a Super Sentai TV show…so there was no way I wasn’t going to go crazy over it! It managed to do very well for itself, going more than forty grand over the goal, and I hope it ends up working well. Time will tell and I have to say I’m a bit more cynical about this sort of thing than I was a year ago.

Okay, enough of the flashback. A whole blog dedicated to MALICE after the jump.

Tuesday, August 20, 2013

Anime Review: Tears to Tiara

I recently watched, then re-watched a show called Tears to Tiara. Now I’ve reviewed a few anime based on video games in the past but this case is a little different. As far as I can tell Tears to Tiara was originally a tactical role playing game…an adult tactical role playing game. What do I mean by “adult”? Well as far as I can tell by “adult” I mean “porn”. It was a JRPG that was porn.

Huh. Well that exists, apparently.

Remember that I try to keep myself from doing any  major research about an anime I’ve never seen before until I finish watching it so believe me when I say the cartoon had nothing to make me think that its source material was pornographic in nature. I would assume the main reason for this is that technically the show is based on the non-porn Playstation 3 remake that came out a few years later. Still to go through the whole show only to find out that it has ties to a game where cartoon girls, several of whom must be underage, are getting sexed up by the main character was shocking. And not the good type of shocking like “Oh man, that was awesome” but more like the “F**k, now I need a goddamn drink” type of shock.

Getting back on track Tears to Tiara premiered in 2009 and was produced by a fairly new studio White Fox (this seems to be their first series). Sentai Filmworks licensed it in North America very soon afterwards. At twenty-six episodes long it’s a pretty full series. Ignoring the porn that it’s associated with does this cartoon manage to stand on its own, or is it just a gimmicky premise that’s not allowed actually use it’s gimmick on Television (It’s gimmick is sex).

Full review after the jump.

 [WARNING: There are some spoilers in this review, fairly minor in the grand scheme of things, but still spoilers.]

Monday, August 12, 2013

Review: The Wolverine (Film)

My original plan was to rent X-Men Origins: Wolverine and review it before this one since that is the only X-Men movie I haven’t reviewed on this blog but unfortunately I kept putting it off and putting it off until I ended up just saying “Screw it, let’s just move on” (Which may be my real life mantra. That’s kind of depressing now that I think about it). I will say that, while I don’t want to completely spoil all my thoughts on that flick, the first Wolverine evil was easily worst X-Men movie ever made. It’s biggest problem was that far too much crap and characters were jammed in there (Seriously, why was Gambit in that movie at all?!).

This brings us to The Wolverine. It seemed like Fox was very serious about making a good Wolverine movie since initially they hired Darren Aronofsky (Black Swan, The Wrestler) to direct. Sadly the acclaimed director dropped out when he realized he’d have to be in Japan for a year and was replaced by James Mangold who is…a pretty good director. But after watching his films 3:10 to Yuma and Walk the Line I wasn’t sure he was very good at doing endings (especially with 3:10 to Yuma which was a fantastic movie until the last five minutes ruined everything). Now, like with Pacific Rim, most of what I’ve heard about this film has been extremely positive with most people agreeing it was far and beyond better than the original. If you’ve been reading this blog for a while or have gone back to check out the archives you will probably be aware that Wolverine is one of my most hated characters in superhero comics. I once wrote a long blog about why. (He’s not as bad as Barry Allen though; f**k that guy). But I’m a huge Hugh Jackman fan so I’m willing to give it a chance.

Oh by the way; Fox had prior to this film announced their intention to create their own shared superhero universe following the massive success of The Avengers. In theory the shared universe would include the X-Men and the Fantastic Four with this film starting the trend (well, technically it would make the original film retroactively the trend starter, but whatever). So in addition to its own film we may need to look for clues for possible future films seeing as X-Men: Days of Future Past and the FF are both right around the corner.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains major spoilers. On the bright side they weren't particularly good plot twists but you should still proceed with caution]

Friday, August 9, 2013

Review: Pacific Rim

I feel this may be me simplifying things a bit but there are few things in this world I love more than giant robots and Japanese monster movies (i.e. “Kaiju”). So when I first heard that Guillermo del Toro was developing a giant robot/kaiju live-action film I’m pretty sure my head exploded (though I might be remembering this wrong). While del Toro isn’t exactly my favorite director he does have a great talent for bringing larger than life/out of this world spectacle onto the big screen and making it believable so I had faith that he was the man for the job, especially considering the way he gushes about the genre. Hearing him in interviews really made him sound like a giant fan, which is good.

Pacific Rim, as the project has since been titled, has been out a short while now and sadly it did not do the business many were expecting in America. It did not bomb and it’s done extremely well in foreign markets to the point that it can be considered a success, but how more people in this country weren’t super jazzed to see giant robots punching the shit out of giant monsters baffles my mind. Seriously, check this out:

Damn, son, if that doesn’t get your blood pumping than you and I can never be friends. Anyway it took me a while to see this flick but almost all my friends who managed to told me that it was a fantastic movie. We’ll see.

Full review after the jump.

Tuesday, August 6, 2013

Anime Review: Sword Art Online

So I was working on a review of the anime Tears to Tiara but then I ended up watching and finishing Sword Art Online on Crunchyroll.com and I felt a deep desire to talk about it while it was still fresh in my head.

Sword Art Online is a 25-episode anime based on a still ongoing (as of this writing) Light Novel series by Reki Kawahara first premiering in 2012, making the most recent anime I’ve ever reviewed. Produced by the studio A-1 Pictures it was licensed by Aniplex of America and is scheduled for DVD/Blu-ray release on August 13th. It’s also currently in it’s first run on Americans television on Adult Swim’s Toonami block but it can currently be legally streamed on Crunchyroll, like I said.

Now this is base do a light novel series so that spells trouble right off the bat, especially since it’s still ongoing. I’ve reviewed several anime based on that medium and while they’ve ranged in quality (some awesome, others not so much) the mostly seem to have unsatisfying endings in common to leave off on either cliffhangers or otherwise imply further adventures that never seem to happen. Even Baccano!, one of the best anime of all time, did this. Seeing as of this weekend there will be thirteen books in the series and this cartoon only covers the first four I foresee history repeating itself.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There may be some minor spoilers in this review]

Monday, July 29, 2013

Kickstarter Weekends: Geek Bar Chicago, FF VII (Web Series), Chroma Squad

This is totally not the weekend. This blog was supposed to be done by Saturday or Sunday night at the latest but unfortunately I overestimated my free time on Saturday and on Sunday I had two emergencies come up so no writing occurred. So let’s pretend it’s the weekend and try to get through this.

It’s time we revisit the wonder world of crowd funding. I decided to do a new KSW post since I hadn’t done one in a while but the truth I haven’t come across a giant amount of projects that caught my attention this time around. To be more accurate a lot of projects I would have loved to talk about ended during my…let’s say “break”, or are just about to end. So today we only have two projects to check out. It turn out we have three projects today after all.

 Anyway before all that let’s look at the projects from last time.

My Gimpy Life Season 2: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $59,289 ($50,000 Goal)

The lovely and talented Teal Sherer’s very funny web series will return for a second season. I was a little worried about this one but it made its goal and all is fine. If you haven’t seen My Gimpy Life yet click here to check it out. It’s one of my favorite internet shows.

MMPR: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $ 41,907 ($18,500 Goal)

Because the children of the 90s are now adults the Power Rangers fan film is underway. No surprise here, of course, as it made its goal before the last post went live. Now they say it will take roughly twenty grand to produce one episode and since MMPR doubled its budget I assume that means they’ll be able to make two episodes from this KS project, which is a good start. If those episodes go over well I suspect we’ll be seeing a second MMPR Kickstarter sometime in the relatively near future.

Time Crash: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $6,680 ($5,000 Goal)

Time Crash asked for $5,000, got it, and got a bit of gravy as well. Possibly even better for them they’ve gotten a lot of buzz since they first started their project. All and all I’d say that this is a project that benefited the user not just with the money they asked for but also a generous amount of publicity, or the “Total Package” if I can coin a phrase. And hey, they are (or perhaps one person from the band is) now at least aware that my band exists, so on top of everything else I feel pretty good too.

The Return: Funding Semi-Successful

Final Earnings: $3,600 ($10,000 Goal)

The APT Theater’s attempt to raise ten grand didn’t work out but thanks to Indiegogo’s flexible funding they apparently were still be successful despite being almost $7,000 under (how much of that money they actually got to keep I do not know). Though they didn’t make their goal the play apparently got a successful run, having a bunch of sell out shows. You can’t argue with that.

New projects after the jump.

Thursday, July 25, 2013

Review: The Lone Ranger (2013)

A few years back I reviewed The Shadow and The Green Hornet (the movies) and if you’re a long time reader of this blog you should recall that I was a big fan of the radio serials those flicks were based on when I was growing up but wasn’t too happy with the movies themselves. It should be of little surprise that The Lone Ranger was another show I listened to a lot. So when I first heard Disney was making a film adaptation you can bet that I was…meh, moderately interested. Look, I would have been super gung-ho about this a few years ago if it weren’t for the huge disappointment I had from Seth Rogen’s attempt at parody in his Green Hornet flick; now I’m just bitter and don’t give a shit.

The Lone Ranger first appeared on the radio in January of 1933 and the series has been adapted into various TV shows, films, comic books and books (some more successful than others). The problem with this film (aside from the ones we’ll be talking about in the review proper) is that Disney has been looking to make a new franchise in the vein as Pirates of the Caribbean this flick is this year’s attempt. Seeing as all their other tries at re-creating the success of that franchise has been met with failure I don’t have high hopes for this one. The Box Office gross for this flick was well below expectations and the critics were all over it, so I would imagine we have another lemon on our hand. Don’t hold your breath for Lone Ranger 2.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, July 24, 2013

Review: Man of Steel

[NOTE: I actually wrote 98% of this blog nearly two weeks ago but I've been dealing with so many personal issues this Summer that I couldn't bring myself to upload it. I apologize to anyone who's been disappointed by the lack of updates the last two months. Hopefully I'll be able to get a few blogs up before the end of the month]

Most people, from random people I know on Facebook to big named celebrities, seem to have this weird dislike of Superman usually citing him as being dull or hokey and usually following it up by saying how much they love Batman. I will agree that a Superman movie hasn’t really been something to get excited about in modern times due to the fact that, well, there haven’t been that many good Superman movies. Most people agree that the 1978 Superman film and Superman II are the best of the bunch (though I think the first one is kind of dull and the second one is overrated). Superman III and Superman IV are considered two of the worst superhero movies of all time. Years later we got Superman Returns, which seemed to be Warner Bros. trying to capitalize on the momentum of Batman Begins, ended up not doing all that great and being extremely decisive among the fans (director Bryan Singer decided to have Superman returns be a direct sequel to Superman II, complete with re-used footage). They opted not to make a follow-up.

But now Man of Steel is upon us and there was a lot of good buzz about the film prior to release. It’s a reboot that has nothing to do with the previous films’ continuity (and also doesn’t have the classic Superman march). But wouldn’t you know it; the film has been the most hotly debated film of the year so far. Some people LOVED this film calling it one of the best superhero flicks made but then others have declared it to be an assassination of the character of Superman. I’ve been led to believe people who love Superman hate the movie but people who hate Superman enjoyed it. That’s a bad sign. Also they hired Zack Snyder to direct, presumably because they watched 300 and Watchmen but didn’t watch Sucker Punch and thus still had faith in his directing skills.

Before we get to the review there’s an outstanding issue and that’s the Justice League movie. Ever since The Avengers came out last year amnd ade all of the money on Earth Warner Bros. and DC Entertainment have been touting that they plan on releasing a JLA film in 2015 just in time to go toe-to-toe with Avengers 2 Avengers: Age of Ultron. [EDIT: This has since changed. Skip to the bottom of this review for more details] However a few months later they backtracked on this and said that Man of Steel needed to do well in order for them to move forward on that. That’s…suspicious. In any case this means that Man of Steel isn’t just its own movie but rather the DC equivalent of the original Iron Man movie; the beginning of a cinematic universe. That’s a lot a pressure.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains major spoilers for the film so if you haven't watched it yet and manged to avoid the internet the last month you may not want to skip this one]

Thursday, June 27, 2013

5 Unpopular Opinions About Batman

Is there a Bat-Dickery.com?
Well I guess it’s time to once again become a typical ranting internet nerd and complain about something everyone likes; it’s time for another edition of 5 Unpopular Opinions. Today we’re going to talk about a fictional character that everyone seems to consider the greatest superhero out there: Batman.

You might be saying “Wait a second Beta, don’t you love Batman? Didn’t you used to do those ‘Batman Versus’ posts?” Yeah I did and I do like Batman. But those Batman Versus posts were really me just joking about the ridiculousness of how god-like comic book fans sometime view the character. I will say that I actually do prefer Superman to Batman (Yes, I Fight Dragons, I still like Superman) but as I said a while ago in my Protector/Defender blog I appreciate them both equally. But there are a lot of things that bug me about the guy, and that people treat him like his shit doesn’t stink bugs me even more. Batman’s not a perfect character and there’s some issues with him.

He’s a good character, sure, but I’m going to call him on some things. Remember that these are just my opinions and yours may vary. There’s no right answer here and thus no reason to fight.

Nerdy ramblings after the jump.

Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Review: X-Men #1 (Vol. 4)

I’m well behind reviewing Uncanny X-Men, though I recently managed to catch up with them so I may be posting a bunch of reviews for those issues pretty soon. Today though I wanted to look at another new X-Men title; X-Men #1. You may remember this as the all-female title with an all-star cast featuring Storm, Jubilee, Rogue, Psylocke, Shadowcat, and Rachel Summers Grey that I talked about a while back. I’ve been anticipating this book for months for a number of reason. For one thing it features three of my Top Ten Favorite X-Men on the roster. It’s a very ethnically diverse title as the cast have a lot more different racial and cultural backgrounds than your typical superhero comic. It’s also is, as far as I’m aware, the first time an X-Men book has featured an all-female cast. This last fact has made a lot of people really angry in a display that I can only describe as “sexist asshole rage”. All the arguments, and I use that term loosely, have been very weak and idiotic. One I heard was the worry that because it’s an all-female team the stories would be really emotional and lacking action because women superheroes having normal adventures is “unrealistic”.

Yeah, that’s dumb as hell. If you subscribe to that than please exit this blog.

Anyway this comic is written by Brian Wood and art by Oliver Coipel (pencils, inks), Mark Morales (inks), and Laura Martin (Colors). Brian Wood is actually well known for writing great female characters though for his part he’s admitted his secret is that he just writes women the same as he would men. So if it’s that simple why do so many male writers do it so terribly so often?

 Full review after the jump.

Monday, June 17, 2013

Review: Star Trek Into Darkness

So here we are, slumming it to the Star Trek Into Darkness review. It only took me, what, seventeen years (I’m not good with time). I’ve been having a lot of personal issues in real life and my desire to do any writing has been pretty damn low. But it’s been way too long so let’s get back into it.

So Star Trek Into Darkness is, of course, the sequel to the 2009 Star Trek reboot. The first one was controversial in the pre-production stage but this one was less so since pretty much everyone agreed J. J. Abrams first foray into the franchise was “pretty good”. There was a lot of speculation about who the villain was (oh, we’ll get to that). So you’d think the buzz about this movie would have been a little stronger than it was. It wasn’t and, despite the fact that it did well, it didn’t do as good as one would have guessed.

I attribute this to two main factors: 1) the fact that somehow it took four goddamn years for this movie to come out. Now the reason might be really good (Abrams is a busy guy and several of the cast are A-list actors who sadly can’t be forced to just do Star Trek movies and nothing else) but regardless the fact is that four years in this day and age is probably a year too long to wait for an addition to a movie franchise. All the excitement I had coming out from the first flick was absent in the months leading up to release. 2) A few months ago it was announced that Abrams had been hired by Disney to direct the forthcoming Star Wars movie and considering how very much Star Wars-like the first film was (and how Abrams repeatedly told anyone who would listen that he was a far bigger fan of Star Wars than Star Trek) to seems like a pretty good fit. America has been pretty nutty with anticipation for that film, so much so that every interview I saw of Abrams promoting Star Trek Into Darkness always, always turned into questions about Star Wars. It seems the general train of thought is “Oh Star Trek? That should be fine. But what I’m really all about is Episode VII! Can’t wait for that!” Even I was kind of like that, though in my defense I had waited four damn years for a new Star Trek movie; I was tired.

Also Stark trek Into Darkness is a really weird ass name that hits the wrong side of bad.

*Ahem*. Anyway let’s see if this movie was worth the wait.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains MASSIVE spoilers for this film and should only be read if you either saw the film, aren't planning to see the film or don't give a crap about spoilers because I apparently didn't give a crap about giving them out]

Friday, May 31, 2013

Kickstarter Weekends: My Gimpy Life (S2), MMPR, Time Crash

Normally I would have waited untill posting one more blog before even considering a Kickstarter Weekend but thing are going bad for my ability to go to the cinema these days and thus my movie reviews are suffering. So I figured I might as well do this while the getting’s good. So anyway we have three new Kickstarter projects but before that let’s check out the ones from last month.

Emily and the Strangers: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $64,749

I was getting worried about it but close to the end it ended up making it. So the legend of Emily the Strange will continue to grow. It didn’t break the bank so, unless I’m mistaken, I don’t think we’ll be getting a full EP but perhaps that will come later. What I’ve heard of the song so far seems like it should be a pretty good video.

Code Monkey Save World: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $340,270

So yeah, this made nearly ten times its goal. I knew it would do well but damn! The stretch goals that were met ended up including a children’s book based on the Jonathan Coulton song “The Princess Who Saved Herself”, which is pretty cool. Apparently Greg Pak underestimated how well they’d end up doing. That just shows you how awesome JoCo’s music is.

The Return: Funding Pending

Final Earnings: TBA

This was my acquaintance from college Katie Dickinson’s project with her APT Theater group. Now as of this writing the campaign is still underway and, I’m sad to say, probably not doing as well as it could be. Since Katie was a friend of mine I would like to do everything I can to help her out with this. Please check out the project if you haven’t yet and even if you can’t pledge please spread the world. Right this second they need a bit under $7,000 to succeed (though it's Indiegogo so if they don't don't reach the goal they could still collect what they have, I just don't know if they will or not). There’s still time but they seriously need help. [Link]

Three new projects after the jump.

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

Review: Fat Kid Rules the World (Film)

Well, I need to re-watch Star Trek Into Darkness, actually go through Return to Oz uninterrupted, possibly skim through Tears to Tiara super quick and post at least one more blog before I feel justified in doing another Kickstarter Weekend (also it’s not the weekend). I’m actually in a weird spot with the blog where I have a lot of stuff I need to write but not a lot of ability to actually write them. I know I need to post something to keep the blog traffic coming. So let’s review Fat Kid Rules the World. Because why not?

Fat Kid Rules the World is a young adult novel written by K.L. Going published in 2003. This is a fun story: some years ago Hollywood actor and professional Shaggy Rogers performer Matthew Lillard was asked to record the audio version of the book and soon fell in love with story. Lillard would spend the next decade or so trying to get the book turned into a movie. He eventually succeeded, with himself in the director’s chair. However when he needed extra cash to help with the distribution and promotion Lillard turned to Kickstarter a bit over a year ago. Fun fact: the Kickstarter project (found here, long succeeded) was one of the first crowd funding pages I ever saw which helped start my obsession with, and my subsequent coverage of, them. The idea of Lillard, who is famous and beloved (by me, at least) for his role in SLC Punk (one of my favorite movies of all time), directing his own punk rock themed film was an amazing idea and I was stoked by the prospect. Sadly no theaters were playing it near me.

Fast forward to last week when I noticed that the film was on Netflix. So you know I had to watch the damn thing. I mean it has all the right beats: it’s a punk film, it’s a Kickstarter project turned successful and it was convenient, my favorite thing in the world. So does this film live up to the hype or is Mathew Lillard better off keeping to playing Shaggy for the rest of this career?

Full review after the jump.
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