Sunday, November 23, 2014

Nerd Rage #17: Beta vs. Marvel Studios

They've come a long way from being a bankrupt joke
A blog in November? What madness is this? As I suggested a while back I have decided not to participate in National Novel Writing Month this year, partly because of all my work with my book earlier this year but main due to having recently started a new job that would not allow the time to writing 50,000 words in a month and still have anything resembling a life (actually my new job doesn’t leave much time for any writing at all, to my great chagrin).

Anyway Marvel Studios formally announced their movie schedule through the year 2019 (and for some reason this is considered a fine move) and apparently it made everyone I know go insane with anticipation. Some of the films sound pretty cool and others one sound kind of “meh”. I thought it would be fun to briefly at all of Marvel’s upcoming flicks and judge mercilessly despite knowing almost nothing about any of them. And hey, maybe you don’t know much about the characters in the film and this may be a nice learning experience.

Of course supposedly a list of Marvel movies was leaked earlier this year and I distinctive recall many people on my Facebook feed losing their shit over it; taking it completely at face value. I recall being very skeptical about it, especially with World Word Hulk, Captain America: The Fallen Son, and Avengers: Civil War as none of them really made any thematic sense to me based on what had already been established. (Though, let’s face it, Marvel could have easily changed key details of their films after the word got out but we either way it’s hard to know of sure) In any case I didn’t even want to talk about those rumors until things were verified. Now that the official list of films have come out I thought I’d go through them (and since I had a few friends who asked my thoughts about it I get it all out of my system at once).

Congratulations, suckers; you f**king fell for it!
So today we’ll look at all of Marvel Studios’ upcoming films. This does not include the upcoming X-Men, Spider-Man or Fantastic Four flicks as they are produced by different studios (Fox and Sony respectively) nor will be looking at DC Comics' line-up partly because they probably deserve their own topic and partly because I don’t want to angrily ramble right now. I mean, I may still do that today but at least this way I’m not starting out already being annoyed and pissed off at the source material. (Doctor Doom is an angry hacker? Really?)

Marvel Studios’ future after the jump.

[WARNING: While most of my ramblings are just conjecture I may be spoiling plot points for future films simply by taking about the comics they're based on. Read at your own risk.]

Friday, October 31, 2014

Review: Pontypool

Happy Halloween, everybody. As you may well know by now I’m not a huge fan of horror films (like, at all) but I had such a fun time reviewing Evil Dead last year that I decided to review another horror film today. My friend Travis, upon hearing I was thinking of reviewing a horror flick, got super excited and sent me a list of films he thought I would like because he’s a giant fan of the genre and is also history’s greatest monster. Despite reservations I decided to take him up on his suggestions and watch the 2008 film Pontypool which is based on the 1995 novel Pontypool Changes Everything by Tony Burgess (who also wrote the screenplay). It’s a zombie flick…kind of. The fact is that the film is part of the zombie genre of horror but plays itself differently from the norm.

Directed by Bruce McDonald Pontypool is a low-budget Canadian feature that didn’t get a heck of a lot of screen time in the USA until finally being released on home video in 2010. Despite this the film received a lot of favorable reviews over the years. Perhaps now something of a cult film whether or not it can overturn my long established dislike of the genre is the question of the day.

Full review after the jump.

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Sin City - A Dame to Kill For, The Maze Runner

It's taking me longer than I anticipated to get back into the swing of reviewing things again here on Beta is Dead (the previous blog was actually started after I was half-way through this one). To make matters worse both the movies we’re looking at today are pretty much old news and you’ve already either seen them or at least decided that you’re not going to bother seeing them. The cost of being idle is high when you’re a writer, I guess.

Anyway today we’ll be looking at two film adaptations, Sin City: A Dame to Kill For and The Maze Runner. Sin City 2 is the long promised sequel to the 2005 film and both movies are (mostly) based on the comic of the same name by Frank Miller. Now I’m not sure what the shit took so long for this movie to get made but here’s a list of movies Robert Rodriguez chose to direct over Sin City 2 during the near decade gap:

The Adventures of Sharkboy and Lavagirl (2005)

Planet Terror (2007)

Shorts (2009)

Machete (2010)

Spy Kids: All the Time in the World (2011)

Machete Kills (2013)

No less than three kids films and a full length version of a fake trailer AND its sequel (neither of which were all that great). Planet Terror is the only film on that list that doesn’t feel like a waste of time to me. Oh yeah, Frank Miller directed The Spirit in 2008 and it was one of the worst films of the decade; that’s not as important but it’s still notable.

The Maze Runner is based on a young adult novel of the same name by James Dashner that originally came out in 2009. And…that’s pretty much all I know about it. The Maze Runner did extremely well in the Box Office while Sin City 2 was a major bomb, possibly the biggest bomb of the summer. But as we learned from Scott Pilgrim vs. The World, Dredd, and any Transformers movie monetary success does not always determine the film’s quality.

Two reviews after the jump.

Saturday, October 11, 2014

Kickstarter Weekends: Like Father, Like Daughter; Zombie ApocalyOOPS!

By my calculations (i.e. I looked at the archives) it’s been about eight months since the last Kickstarter Weekend. Aside from the obvious glitches this summer with me working on my novel I think the major reason for this has been that I haven’t been visiting Kickstarter and other crowd funding sites as often as I used to. Perhaps my obsession over them has cooled off. That successful, but ridiculous, Potato Salad campaign that floated around everywhere certainly didn’t make me too eager to visit any projects for a while. I should point out that the most interesting crowd funding project I came across during the off time was Hullabaloo, a steam punk hand drawn animated short film starring a strong female lead character (!) that made 588% of its goal on Indiegogo. I would have blogged about it if I wasn’t so distracted this summer but obviously it didn’t need my help.

Anywho today I’ve decided to get back on the horse, so to speak, and look at two new projects. In this case both of them sort of tugged on my heartstrings as the creators remind me of what I myself might need to do in the near future to see my own dreams and vision come to fruition, more so than the average campaign I cover. But before we get to talking about the new stuff we need to revisits the old stuff…and it looks like there’s a lot of old stuff.

Michigan City Vandals Album Project: Funding Semi-Successful

Final Earnings: $1,150 ($5,000 Goal)

This project failed to meet its $5,000 goal but because the Michigan City Vandals were using Indiegogo it would seem they got to keep what they made (to a point; Indiegogo’s cut was probably pretty steep). As it’s been such a long time since the campaign ended the album has since been recorded and released so I guess it all worked out in the end. I’ve listened to it and I think it’s pretty good. You can find (and hopefully buy) it here.

One Nation - Out of the Darkness: Funding successful!

Final Earnings: $13,515 ($13,000 Goal)

Another close call but the project managed to end in success. As far as I can tell they’re still working on getting the book itself done but I haven’t heard a tremendous amount of things about the comic lately. Of course that’s partly because I sort of forget to keep tabs on it over the summer. Oops.

Water War: Funding Unsuccessful!

Final Earnings: $0 ($30,000 Goal)

This one bums me out but in a way I’m not really surprised. The concept of this film was amazing but the presentation of the project was overly ambitious. With a super long KS video (not to mention several prequel videos!) I imagine a lot of potential backers backed away without giving it a fair shot. Director Josh Nikolas had vowed that he’d try to make the movie even if the campaign failed but I’m not certain what, if any, progress has been made since then. As of right now it seems that my dream of seeing a flick about children shooting each other with squirt guns and being over dramatic about the whole thing will remain just that; a dream.

Robot Heart: Funding Successful!

Final Earnings: $28,914 ($3,000 Goal)

Absolutely no surprise here since the project was funded before I even got to post the last KSW. I do want to mention that since I posted that last KSW one of Kawehi’s video covers (I think it was “Heart Shaped Box”) and went viral and she has become massively more popular and famous than she was before. In fact she’s had another project on KS since the last one and it not only got funded super quickly it made $42,972 ($3,000 goal)! Wow! [EDIT: The new project is still ongoing as of this writing, though not for much longer, and has picked up even more money than originally reported].  Overall this makes me feel really good as I get to see someone I’ve admired do very well after seeing them struggle with their art in the past plus it gives me some hope for my own artistic endeavors.

Then again if there’s one thing I’ve learned this year it’s that "hope" is bullshit and poisonous. F**k it, let’s move on.

Two new projects after the jump.

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

State of Beta is Dead

Hello everyone. If you’re a regular reader of Beta is Dead I’m sure by now you’ve become concerned by the severe lack of updates, especially based on what I said earlier this year about possibly quitting the blog business altogether. Or perhaps you didn’t really give a shit and didn’t even notice. Either way now that it’s October (…really?) I figured I give an update about what’s been going, what hasn’t been going on and what my plan going forward is.

The lull in updates has primarily been due to two factors. The first is personal and as you should know by now I don’t like using this blog as a live journal. Still if you’re a loyal reader and have been upset from the lack of hearing from me I suppose you would want some sort of explanation. Long story short this past July something made me very, very sad and my ability to function was impaired but is now relatively fine. The second reason is that I spent the second half the summer being obsessed with finishing my novel. As you probably noticed I have stats for book projects I’m currently working on post on the sidebar and if you were observant you may have seen the word count for “Project Brothers” skyrocket over the past few months. I put everything in my life on hold while I worked on it. I managed to post a few blogs during this period but the more I wrote of my novel the more it felt like any other writing was a distraction.

Somewhere along the line I went from “I’ll work on this review later tonight” to “f**k everything that isn’t this book, goddamn it!”

So anyway the first draft of my first novel, “Project Brothers” (clearly not its real name), is done so my obsession has died down and bit. Beta is Dead is, um, not as dead as the name implies and I’ll be attempting to get back into groove of writing shortly (easier said than done as it’s taken me three days to actually even start this blog). I also have something I’m working on but it’s better not to talk about it now in case it doesn’t work out. I will just try to do reviews until I get back in the habit of writing blogs.

That all said November is coming up. For the last couple of years I've tended to take November off to participate in National Novel Writing Month. Since I basically took September off doing it again so soon seems pretty lousy. Also I’m unsure I want to try to blaze through another 50,000 words of a new book when I probably should be editing the current one. As of right now I haven’t decided what I’ll do but I’m leaning towards skipping it this year. We’ll see.

Anyway bottom line is that I’m sorry I was gone but now I’m back. I also still haven’t seen the new Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles movie yet so my sanity is relatively intact.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Review: Guardians of the Galaxy (Film)

I’m sure by now we’re all aware of Marvel Studios' latest offering, Guardians of the Galaxy; judging by the Box Office numbers we’ve all gone to see it at least once. Tagged as Marvel’s riskiest film to date GOTG managed to become one of the year’s biggest hits. I am a little late to the party as my current life situation did not allow me to see this film at a Thursday midnight showing like I would have years ago but I was able to see it after opening weekend and I feel I can properly review it today. However before we get into the movie let’s look back on the comic that inspired it.

First appearing in Marvel Super-Heroes #18 in 1969 the original Guardians of the Galaxy seemed to be Marvel Comics’ answer to DC Comics’ Legion of Super-Heroes, in that both were about a superhero team operating about one thousand years in the future. GOTG was more of a rebel faction fighting against an alien empire rather than a team of super-teens fighting future crime. This incarnation of the team lasted for some time but was never really popular outside its niche audience and never received an abundance of attention outside the hardcore comic book fanbase (which is why you’ve probably never heard of Charlie-27; I sure as hell hadn't).

Cult worthy title or Silver Age silliness?
You decide!
In 2005 Marvel launched a pretty massive crossover event called Annihilation that untied most of their cosmic (i.e. “outer space”) characters in one epic storyline. The comic was extremely well received despite still being more of a cult hit, and ended up getting several sequels and spin-offs over the next few years. One of those spin-offs was a rebooted Guardians of the Galaxy book in 2008. Rather than taking place in the far future this title took place in the Marvel Universe proper, just in space, and was formed by several per-existing cosmic characters: Star-Lord, Gamora, Drax the Destroyer, Rocket Raccoon, Groot, Phyla-Vell (the third Quasar), and rapper Adam WarRock Adam Warlock, who is definitely not a rapper. Though pretty much being exclusively fifth-string characters the team carried on the reputation Marvel had created for itself in recent years for their best storytelling being in the cosmic portion and thus the title garnered a very vocal following.

While the book has been off and on the radar since it's initial launch someone over at Marvel Studios thought it’d be an a awesome idea to make a film version based on the cult title that features characters that no one in the general public had ever heard of. And as the film has made millions and millions of dollars it’s hard to say that wasn’t a brilliant move. This film was directed by James Gunn who also directed the cult films Slither and Super, which makes him an interesting choice to helm this flick. Many people are saying this movie was very good but there are also people who are saying it’s highly overrated. Seeing as I can think of at least one other film that was highly overrated by the internet in recent memory (coughcoughfrozencouch) I think it’s best I examine it myself.

They're like the Avengers...IN SPAAAACE!!
Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains some spoilers. Nothing too bad, and really nothing that hasn't been floating around already, but they are still there and unmarked. Read at your own risk.]

Sunday, August 3, 2014

Anime Review: Kill la Kill

The last year or two there have been a handful of anime that have been so successful in Japan that their popularity has bled over to the United Sates. There have been enough titles that have done this lately that I am legitimately wondering if we’re on the verge of a new anime boom. I’m talking about shows like Attack on Titan, Puella Magi Madoka Magica and, of course, Sword Art Online which as you know I was very fond of. Even the new Sailor Moon anime, Pretty Guardian Sailor Moon Crystal, has generated a tremendous amount of buzz. But of all these surprising hits I’m willing to bet that Kill la Kill is the goddamn strangest.

Kill la Kill was directed by Hiroyuki Imaishi and written by Kazuki Nakashima, the same team responsible for Gurren Lagann, one of the most popular anime of the last decade. This show was the first full length show to be produced by Trigger, a brand new studio. Debuting in 2013 it only wrapped up a few months ago and the turnaround of it showing up on various streaming services was pretty fast. Licensed by Aniplex of America as of this writing Kill la Kill has not yet been released on home video in the USA but is has been shown on Hulu and Netflix.

The internet has been abuzz about Kill la Kill for months now and I was seeing references and debates about it for quite some time before I bothered to give it a shot. And really I only did it so I could see what all the fuss was about. Well I have and I’ve got an opinion on it.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Review: Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

Dawn of the Planet of the Apes is a sequel to the 2011 film Rise of the Planet of the Apes, which itself was a reboot of the Planet of the Apes movie franchise. “Rise of” was surprisingly well received and a sequel was approved fairly early on. As the film takes place some years after the first one, and after the ramifications of the ending, the entire human cast has been replaced. So if you were hoping for another James Franco centric film I guess you’re out of luck.

This flick was directed Matt Reeves who previously directed Cloverfield and Let Me In, two films that were met with positive reviews in the past. Still despite his talent one must wonder if “Dawn of” will be able to capture lightning in a bottle again now that it has a someone new at the helm.

Full review after the jump.

Monday, July 28, 2014

Review: Transformers - Age of Extinction

So I should probably talk about Bayformers, huh? No use putting it off anymore.

In the mid-2000s toy company/barons Hasbro decided to start trying to make movies based on their various properties. Transformers was the first to make the transition and many TF fans were pretty worried from the get-go. Once production started there were two primary concerns: 1) Hasbro is notorious for not giving a shit about their properties so long as the can sell kids toys so there was no guarantee of quality of film from their involvement. 2) Michael Bay was hired to direct the film which was a red flag because Bay has previously proven to not be all that good when it comes to things like “character development” or “plot” and prefers EXPLOSIONS when making movies.

The film, called “Transformers”, was released in 2007 and despite being overly juvenile, oversexed, slightly racist, possessing an overreliance on the human cast, featuring Megan Fox in any capacity, Dull Surprise, and no Transformer having anything resembling a three dimensional personality or an character arc and having hard to distinguish character designs the film at least wasn’t awful. At the time this felt like a victory.

The film was a big success and thus a sequel hit theaters in 2009, Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen. Now it would take me an entire blog to explain just how terrible this movie is so for now I will just say that it was truly one of the worst flicks I’ve ever seen in my entire life. Everything bad I mentioned about the first one returned in droves in the second one. It’s like when you meet a friend’s dog once and its fine then the next you see the thing it tries to rip your throat out. Still the film did even better than the first, despite being insanely awful, and thus Transformers: Dark of the Moon was released in 2011. This film was better than the second but ultimately it was still a very bad movie for all the same reasons the previous ones were bad movies. It’s biggest plus was that Megan Fox was fired but then she was replaced by English actor model Rosie Huntington-Whiteley who never acted before this and it showed (incidentally in the three years since this film came out the only gig I’ve seen her as having is in the upcoming Mad Max sequel, so I’m guessing Hollywood figured her out).

Also these movies introduced Transformer testicles
Never forget. Never forgive
By the way in Dark of the Moon there is totally a scene where Optimus Prime and the Autobots allow the Decepticons to blow up a big chunk of Chicago in order to teach humanity a lesson for trying to force them off Earth. This totally happened and I mention it now because this will be important later.

After three terrible but highly successful films Michael Bay decided to step down from the franchise following the third one, giving the series a possible chance to be helmed by a better director…until he changed his mind and signed up for a fourth film after all, Transformers: Age of Extinction. With a completely new human cast this appears to be the start of a second trilogy with several of the stars signed up for two more films. It’s also pretty much made ALL THE MONEY so there’s no way to avoid this terrible future. Anyway I did get around to seeing Age of Extinction and most of you likely know I’m a big Transformers fan. Thus my wrath will be swift. 

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, July 9, 2014

Review: Maleficent

Let’s talk about Disney Princess for a second.

One of Disney’s bigger money making operations Disney Princess is a multimedia merchandise platform featuring various female characters (not all of them princesses) from their feature length animated films aimed at young girls and pretty much no one else, much like action figures based on action cartoons are aimed at young boys and no one else. There are a lot of questions about the anti-feminist nature of this franchise and honestly that’s too important a subject for me to write extensively about in an intro like this but I think that while their depiction of women and defined gender roles can be troubling there are certainly examples of good female role models in place, such as Mulan who I always thought was a badass. However the further back in time you go the less legs you have to stand on as the classic depiction of Princess in Disney’s catalog are clearly sexist and clearly represented Walt Disney’s idea of patriarchal system. If the main character of your film is a woman who is basically waiting an hour and a half for a dude to come rescue, and then marry her, then your movie sucks, plain and simple.

This brings us to Sleeping Beauty, possibly the most obvious film to fail in this regard. Based on at least two fairy tales we all basically know the premise of this story; Princess Aurora gets got by an evil fairy and falls into a coma until the man of her dreams waltzes into town and sexually assaults kisses her while she’s under, magically freeing her from her curse. Aurora is such a prop in her own movie that she has less than twenty minutes of screen time. She’s such a non-character that I suspect the average person wouldn’t even know her name aside from being called “Sleeping Beauty”. Now the flip side of this is despite the uninteresting lump of uselessness that was Aurora this film also introduced us to one of the coolest Disney villains ever conceived: Maleficent.

Now Maleficent isn’t exactly a great character either, as her major motivation stems mostly from “because I’m evil, stupid” but her design, power set, scope and even her name are all make for an very memorable villain. She routinely places high in Top Disney Villains lists all over the internet and continues to be used as an antagonist in various Disney projects, probably most famously in the video game series Kingdom Hearts. With this in mind it shouldn’t be too surprising that Disney is making a film featuring Maleficent as a protagonist, epically when we consider the incredibly successful musical Wicked which similarly took the villain of a classic story and flipped her role. This film also follows in the footsteps of recent flicks Snow White and the Huntsman (which in retrospect I probably scored too high) and Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland (which I fully plan on never watching again), modern reinterpretations of classic children’s stories/fairy tales aimed at wider audience and not simply little kids. In some case they’re darker in tone and in most cases they are far more complex. With first time director Robert Stromberg at the helm where does Maleficent stand in this relatively new genre?

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: This review contains some spoilers , so if you were aching to see what boils down to be a kids movie you better proceed with caution]

Saturday, July 5, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Edge of Tomorrow, Jersey Boys (Film)

I’m running behind in my reviews so far this summer so this might be a good time for some mini-reviews. Today we’ll be looking at two summer flicks, the science fiction “epic” City on the Edge of Forever Edge of Tomorrow and the Broadway hit Jersey Boys now turned into a film of the same name.

Two new reviews after the jump.

Sunday, June 29, 2014

Anime Review: Gundam Build Fighters

Last time I talked about the anime metaseries Gundam. Today we’re looking at the most recent addition to that series, Gundam Build Fighters. Like pretty much all Gundam series in recent memory it was produced by Sunrise and made its debut in 2013, making it the timeliest anime I’ve ever reviewed. As of this writing it has yet to be selected for import but there is some legal streaming of it around the web.

In the last couple of years Gundam hadn’t been doing super great and had not lived up to the runaway success of 2002’s Mobile Suit Gundam SEED. The most recent TV show, Mobile Suit Gundam AGE, ended up being a huge flop. Perhaps that’s why the creators decided to go in a different direction for Build Fighters. Like with Mobile Fighter G Gundam this anime threw out all tropes associated with the franchise but unlike G Gundam that included the space opera narrative. This series takes the concept first introduced in the OVA series Model Suit Gunpla Builders Beginning G, an anime that is basically about fans of Gundam playing with the model kits associated with the show (which are nicknamed “Gunpla”), and takes it to its logical conclusion: have a whole TV show about young kids battling each other. To put it simply this show is basically a cross between Gundam and Yu-Gi-Oh! If reading that last sentence made you want to shake your head and close this window I don’t blame you as I had a similar reaction when I first discovered this show. Here’s the thing; it’s wrong to judge something before you check it out so let’s take a look at this crazy anime and then verbally rip it to shreds.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Beta vs. Gundam

"Fly, Gundam!"
Today I was going to do a review of Gundam Build Fighters, the latest Gundam TV series which just finished up its run in Japan a few months ago. However it occurred to me that the Gundam metaseries is a pretty big deal but that a lot of people who read this blog might not know much about the franchise. So really I had two choices: either I write the review and have an intro that may be as long as, or longer than, the review itself OR dedicate a blog to talking about Gundam and get it out of my system. Since that’s something I’ve wanted to do for years anyway it seemed like a pretty good time to do so.

For those of you who have absolutely no idea what the hell I’m talking about Gundam is a large franchise, primarily an anime, that’s extremely popular in Japan and pretty darn popular in America as well with the right people. Although it’s a bit more complicated than that the most important thing to know about it that is it features giant robots (or “mecha” as they’re often called) fighting each other with beam rifles and laser swords….and usually in space. If that sentence doesn’t at least peak your interest than I’m unsure if you and I will get along.

So today I’ll be looking at the Gundam TV series. It’s important to understand though that there is a lot more to this franchise than just the cartoons. As a giant money maker for its parent company Bandai this series has taken just about as many forms as you can think of. However for the purposes of this article I won’t be going over every little thing. In fact I’ll likely be skipping or skimming over many of the spin-off movies or OVAs, of which there are a lot, so if I don’t mention a comic or a light novel series here or there just note that I likely am aware it exists and you don’t need to tell me how dumb I am for forgetting to mention it. And if I do skip your favorite Gundam related thing and it really bugs you feel free talk about it in the comment section (just don’t ramble; that’s my job and I’ll delete anything that tries to touch my Kool-Aid).

We all dig giant robots after the jump.

Thursday, June 12, 2014

Review: Godzilla (2014)

We all know about this franchise, right? Just in case you’re a hermit I’ll briefly discuss it. Godzilla is the American name for the fictional Japanese giant monster Gojira, star of a huge film series popular in both Japan and the United States (probably significantly more so in Japan) produced by the company Toho. Godzilla originally appeared in the self-titled film from 1954 where the creature was a metaphor for reckless use of nuclear weapons (this was a post-World War II Japan so nuclear destruction was a pretty terrifying concept). Since then Godzilla has appeared in a ton of films. The Japanese movies are split into three distinctive eras: the original Showa Era (where things were goofy and more often than not Godzilla is basically a superhero), the Heisei Era (which supposedly to be more serious yet still produced a film called Godzilla vs. SpaceGodzilla with a straight face) and the Millennium Era, which I know nothing about because I somehow managed not to see a single film in that series. Interestingly all eras seem to use the original 1954 as a starting point for their continuity.

In 1998 Hollywood made its first attempt to make their own fully American version of a Godzilla film directed by Roland Emmerich, who has pretty much never directed anything anyone has considered art ever, and while it did well financially it was a critical disaster that seemed to wipe it’s ass with everything that made Godzilla what it was in favor of, I dunno, a weird giant iguana thing that no one could possibly like (and thinly veiled potshots at Roger Ebert and Gene Siskel). The film to this day is considered one of the most hated movies of the 90s and a huge betrayal of the Godzilla franchise that even Toho openly mocks in their own movies.

Now let’s fast forward to 2014 and Hollywood is at it again. That’s what we’ll be looking at today. This time, with Gareth Edwards as director, they have sworn up and down that they had learned from their blunder from sixteen years ago. The marketing has at least proven that, yes, that’s totally Godzilla in that poster. So far so good.

I love Godzilla. My father was a huge Godzilla fan when he was a boy so when I was a little kid and expressed interest in it he gleefully fueled the fire by getting me access to lots of those old kaiju films from the 1960s and 1970s. This would lead to me having a casual Godzilla addiction during the mid-nineties. For the record my favorite film of the franchise is Godzilla on Monster Island, actually titled “Godzilla vs. Gigan”, which is goofy as hell (the villains turn out to be human size cockroaches and I’m pretty sure Godzilla and Anguirus have a conversation at some point) but I still have a lot of nostalgic fondness for it. But my point is that I’m a pretty big Godzilla fan and I, like all of the other Godzilla fans, hold a generous amount skepticism about this flick. Can Hollywood succeed where those before them (also Hollywood) failed to do; to create a good adaptation of a classic Japanese franchise? Or am I just a fanboy who will never be satisfied? OR WILL IT BE BOTH?!?!?

Yeah, this movie wasn't great
Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, June 4, 2014

Review: X-Men - Days of Future Past (Film)

X-Men Month concludes! I wanted to throw up one more post, which would have been a Nerd Rage about something, but I couldn’t get riled up enough to do it which is probably for the best: one less nerdy rant on the internet.

But in any event we have come to the X-Men: Days of Future Past. Is there anything left to be said at this point? It’s a sequel to X-Men: First Class, a movie I LOVED and consider it to be the best X-film. It’s being directed by Bryan Singer who directed X-Men and X2 which were both great but hasn’t directed a ton of great stuff since then (and Jack the Giant Slayer was actively terrible). It’s based on the very classic X-Men comic storyline of the same name. The plot was pretty much the same; the future has been conquered by the Sentinels, mutant hunting robots, and a small group of surviving X-Men use their resident super psychic Rachel Summers to send the consciousness of Kitty Pryde (or “Kate Pryde” as she prefers to be known in the future) through time to 1980 (or “the present” as it preferred to be known at the time) into the body of her teenage counterpart to stop Mystique and her Brotherhood of Evil Mutants from killing a specific dude which will cause a ripple effect that creates the terrible future. Of course this movie still takes place in the X-Men Movie Universe so the details would have to be drastically altered but the main crux of the story seems to be intact.

Anyway with two good movies, one awesome movie, one not terrible Wolverine movie and two absolute garbage flicks the X-Men Film Franchise has had its ups and downs over the years. BUT there’s been a lot of positive buzz about this movie where many people saying it’s the best X-flick to date. So it’s pretty clear that with so many people I like, trust or admire enjoyed it so clearly I’ll love this movie too, right? Right? Why are you just staring at me like that?

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: There are a few spoilers throughout this review, though I avoid the really big ones. Still, read at your own risk]

Thursday, May 22, 2014

Beta's Top Ten X-Men Villains (Part Two)

Sorry this took so long. I was really busy then I was suddenly sick.

Some of these guys are actually X-Men, but the image is cool nonetheless
And X-Men Month is back. Here we are with Part Two of my Top X-Men Villain List, where I’m counting down my personal favorite adversaries of my favorite superhero team. You can find Part One here but if you’re lazy (and I suspect you might be) then let’s do a quick recap of the list so far.

#10: Sabretooth 
 #9: Sentinels 
#8: Mojo 
#7: Dark Beast 
#6: Mystique 

So let’s get back to the list and see who made the top of the list. But first let’s take a quick look at another Honorable Mention that wasn’t good enough to be on the list.

The Brotherhood of Mutants: Or “The Brotherhood of Evil Mutants” if you prefer. I’m pretty much just lumping them all together as the vast majority of its members won’t appear on this list. The Brotherhood are the closest thing the X-Men have to an evil opposite team, being similar with a different ideology. Here’s the thing; the Brotherhood is pretty much completely different with a different roster every time we see them and every incarnation has a much different modus operandi than the last. Hell, originally they didn’t do shit about mutant freedom and just want to conquer the Earth. There’s no consistency so I tend not to care too much when a new group of villainous mutant that Marvel Comics labels “The Brotherhood of Mutants” show up.

Final Five after the jump.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Review: The Amazing Spider-Man 2

Let’s take a quick break from X-Men Month, shall we?

In 2012 Sony rebooted the Spider-Man film franchise with a straight face and zero irony. While the film was successful it was critically mixed. I gave it a pretty good review but even I couldn’t ignore the film’s major problems: it was full of plot holes and unforgivably dark for a Spider-Man film. Regardless The Amazing Spider-Man did well enough to warrant a sequel.

The Amazing Spider-Man 2 features the return of Marc Webb, who directed the original, but has a completely new writing team (Alex Kurtzman, Roberto Orci, Jeff Pinkner). This flick was already working through some pretty bad mojo since, let's be honestly, pretty much everyone agreed the first one wasn’t great (but to be fair that is likely mostly due to The Avengers also coming out that summer making every other superhero movie look boring and stupid by comparison). Sony did not help their situation any by their marketing strategy of “let’s show Spidey fighting as many villains as possible” as there are clear scenes of the title character fighting Electro, Green Goblin II, and Rhino with obvious visual cues to Doctor Octopus and the Vulture. This implies that Sony learned absolutely nothing from Spider-Man 3. Allow me to break this down: in order to properly develop a villain in a superhero movie you need time and thus the more villains you feature the less time any of them will have and the more shallow they will feel as characters. Half the reason Spider-Man 3 sucked was because it tried to develop Sandman as a sympathetic character, included the ENTIRE Venom origin which is probably too complex for one film, and feature the Harry Osborn “I’ll kill Peter Parker/Actually I lost my memory/I got it back and now I’m a dick again/Just kidding, here’s my redemption scene” plot line that took up way more of the film than it should have.

Of course this is conjecture. We can’t know exactly happens in a movie until we look at it and judging it before that is ridiculous and short sighted. Then again as I write this intro I HAVE seen this movie…so take that how you want.

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: The following review contains HUGE amounts of spoilers so read at your own risk.]

Saturday, May 10, 2014

Beta's Top Ten X-Men Villains (Part One)

This may be a good time to just go right back the way you came...
X-Men Month continues! X-Men: Days of Future Past approaches I’m tossing as many X-Men posts as possible in a blatant scheme to bring in search engine hits for your entertainment. Three years ago this month, while writing blogs leading up to my review of X-Men: First Class, I listed my Top Ten Favorite X-Men (Part One, Part Two) but even as I wrote that blog I wanted to do a Top Villains list as well but I didn’t have the time back then. I figured I’d write it up eventually but then I never did. So now I finally have an excuse which is great because I have a list that I’ve spent years working on!

Actually I threw it together over the last two weeks or so. But I thought about doing it for the last three years!

Anyway the X-Men, likely due to their massive popularity in the 1980s and 1990s, have faced a large variety of foes over their fifty year history from simple crooks to interdimensional despots and everything in-between. For a superhero team that’s supposed to be a metaphor for prejudice they sure fight a lot of enemies that don’t neatly fit into the analogy. However they do have one of the best rogue’s gallery in superhero comics. Today (and then a second day because this will be a two-part blog) I’ll be looking at my favorite villains. Not the “best” but rather the ones I like the most; the ones that when they show up in a comic I say “Oh shit, I should probably pay attention to this storyline.” Let’s get to it.

Honorable Mention

The Juggernaut: Professor Xavier's evil, resentful step-brother whose magical powers make him super strong and invulnerable. A classic X-villain old Cain Marko doesn’t make the list proper because as dangerous and powerful as he is he spends most of his time trapped somewhere, like a mountain or a magic pocket dimension, and it’s gotten so bad over the decades that’s it’s makes him kind of a joke. Plus he’s a thug with little imagination. As reviled as Chuck Austen’s run on Uncanny X-Men was at least he tried to give Juggernaut the character development to grow from those limitations. It didn’t stick but I for one liked the idea of Marko trying to be a good guy since being evil has worked out terribly for him.

Click below for Part One.

Monday, May 5, 2014

Review: Wolverine and the X-Men (Animated Series)

Wow, I only managed to write up two blogs in the entire month of April? I sincerely apologize to people who were coming here looking for content. If only there was a way I could make up for this; some theme that would ensure that several posts go live in May. Oh, I know: Welcome to X-Men Month! You may recall back in 2011 in the lead up to my review of X-Men: First Class I wrote a series of X-Men related blogs. Well now that we’re coming up on that film’s sequel, X-Men: Days of Future Past so I figured why not do it again. Let’s start with a review, shall we?

If you have spent any time in the archives, especially under the comic book tag, you would likely know that I hate Wolverine. Despite being the most popular character in the X-Men franchise there is no comic book character I despise more (…well maybe The Sentry…and maybe the Red Hulk…and maybe Barry Allen). I’ve talked about this several times and even started Cyclops Lovers Against Wolverine for people like me who prefer good old Scott Summers over the terribly two-dimensional, overpowered James Howlett. So with all this in mind you’ll be unsurprised to learn that when I first heard Marvel would be releasing a cartoon entitled Wolverine and the X-Men I was anything but pleased. Airing in 2009 Wolverine and the X-Men is the third animated adaptation of the X-Men franchise (fourth if you include the Pryde of the X-Men pilot) and was the successor to X-Men: Evolution, a cartoon I absolutely despised. In fact much of the production team was the same for those two cartoons. But, even with the stink of XM:E surrounding it, my main issue stemmed from the fact that in the months leading up to its debut the show was clearly hyped as being a Wolverine centric show with the X-Men merely featured in supporting roles which found to be ludicrous.

I tried watching this show when it was first aired but didn’t have time to finish it. It ended up being canceled after one season so it pretty much disappeared from television after that. From what I’ve heard there was some sort of financing problem that caused a planned second season to not happen. Five years later there has yet to be a follow-up series and there doesn’t seem to be one in the pipeline as of this writing. [EDITOR’S NOTE: There was an X-Men anime released in 2011 produced by Madhouse as part of the Marvel Anime line that Beta has yet to see. In his defense most people have yet to see those shows; that’s the problem]

While this show has a lot of negative things attached to it technically it would be wrong of me to condemn it just on that without giving it a fair chance. So let’s give it a chance now…and then afterwards condemn it.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, April 16, 2014

Summer Movie Preview '14

I’m once again doing a Summer Movie Preview. Summer Movie season is a frustrating magical time of the year where Hollywood churns out its loud big blockbusters. I also tend to spend most of my free time in the movie theater during this season. So last year there were a ton of movies I was super excited for and most of them let me down. I think this has affected me as I now find it hard to get all that enthusiastic about this year’s offerings. That’s kind of sad.

Anyway today we’ll be taking quick looks at movies that have come under my radar that will be hitting theaters this summer (I tend to think of May, not April, as Summer Movie Season). If I missed anything or if there’s a film you’re excited about feel to let me know in the comments.

Click below for more.

Thursday, April 10, 2014

Review: Captain America - The Winter Soldier

I love Captain America as a character and I don’t care who knows it. Cap gets a lot of heat with some comic fans and causal fans about being “corny”, “lame” and “old fashioned” not unlike how people tend to view Superman. However I am of the opinion that when he’s written correctly, true to the spirit of the character, he’s pretty much the perfect superhero. I haven’t really reviewed many things that I felt got Cap correctly, as AvX and Civil War did not seem to really fully comprehend the character. But what did seem to get him were, surprisingly, the films Captain America: The First Avenger and The Avengers. Marvel Studios did a fantastic job at translating Captain America to the big screen and Chris Evans is pitch perfect in the role. In fact I believe that Evans as Cap is the best casting in the entire Marvel Cinematic Universe, better than Robert Downey, Jr. as Iron Man in fact (especially since technically his version of Iron Man was actually pretty different from the comic version which has since been altered to more resemble his performance).

So I really liked the first Captain America movie and I loved the Avengers film so it theory I should like their sequel Captain America: The Winter Soldier. However, as I learned with Iron Man 3, just because it’s a got the Marvel logo on it doesn’t mean it won’t piss me off. Also the director of the first Cap film, Joe Johnston, did not return to for the sequel (which is a very common story as apparently Marvel Studios has a serious problem with holding on to directors) and was replaced with Anthony and Joe Russo. Now these guys work mainly in television, most famous for Arrested Development and Community. Both are hilarious shows but superhero movies they are not, thus there’s a serious question as to whether they can pull it off.

Full review after the jump.

Monday, March 31, 2014

Review: Sexy Evil Genius

So today I want to talk about an actress who I’ve wanted to write about since I started the blog since I started back in 2010: Michelle Trachtenberg. At the risk of sounding creepy (haha, because having a nerd blog is totally not creepy, right?) I have nursed a crush on oh the actress since I was about ten years old, ever since she was supporting character on the old Nickelodeon show The Adventures of Pete & Pete. I have mentioned her many times before: she tops the list of the “Hottest Women in Hollywood List” I used to do and #2 was still way behind her. But unlike everyone else on that list Trachtenberg is the only one who wasn’t in a movie I was reviewing for this blog which means I went over four years without reviewing a single piece of work from my favorite actress.

The reason is pretty simple: she doesn’t star in a lot of films that I have any interest in seeing. It’s weird but most times one of her films comes up I usually have no interest in seeing it. It never has anything to do with her; ether it looks bad or one of the co-stars are on my list of actors to avoid, or it’s a TV film based on a book written by someone I hate. (Huh. That came out kind of specific). That brings us to Sexy Evil Genius.

I was aware of Sexy Evil Genius but had kind of put in on the back burner and didn’t give it a whole lot of thought. It wasn’t until my friend Mr. Kaze, who knows damn well about my twenty year crush, brought it up and told me he thought it was pretty good. Well I was going to try to watch and review Muppets Most Wanted this week but that fell through. Despite that I still wanted to get a review of something up today. Fine. Sexy Evil Genius it is.

Sexy Evil Genius is a 2013 independent film written by Scott Lew and directed by Shawn Piller. It has some pretty good nerd pedigree going, despite not being a particularly nerdy film at all. In addition to Trachtenberg the movie also stars Seth Green (who I’m such a big fan of I actually stopped watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer back in the day after he left the show…which ironically means I missed out when Michelle was on the show and had no idea she joined the cast until YEARS after it ended) as well as Katee Sackhoff, a major character on one of my favorite TV shows Battlestar Galactica Longmire and Harold Perrineau from Lost, which may or may not be all that nerdy of a show.

Anyway the point is that on paper this movie has a lot of ingredients for a really awesome film but let’s face it; I’ve been fooled before.

Full review after the jump.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Anime Review: Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040

I probably don’t talk enough about classic anime on this blog. Let’s rectify that today with Bubblegum Crisis.

Bubblegum Crisis was an eight episode OVA (original video animation; a "straight to video" sort of deal with more prestige) released in Japan starting in 1987. Set in and futuristic cyberpunk setting the series focused on a group of women who used mechanical suits, to battle against rogue robots called “boomers” and the evil mega corporation Genom. Heavily influenced by Blade Runner this series is considered to be both a groundbreaking and classic anime series. Despite this it’s initial run was cut short from thirteen episodes to eight leaving it unfinished. This was due, it would seem, to in-fighting within the studios producing it, budgetary problems and supposed a lack of initial popularity in Japan. Since then there has been a (less critically revered) sequel to try to tie the loose ends up, called Bubblegum Crash, as well as numerous spin-offs, prequels and adaptations. Furthermore Bubblegum Crisis was a pretty important anime for American audiences as it was from the same era of cartoons brought over cartoons like Akira and Project A-ko. It was one of the late 80s/ 90s anime exports that gained a cult-like fandom from collage age Generation X-ers (because there was once a time where Gen-X-ers were young and hip, apparently) that directly led to the anime boom of the early 2000s. The show is still popular today, having recently been the subject of a successful Kickstarter campaign to bring it to Blu-Ray. With so much pedigree and historical significance it’s a no-brainer that I review it now.

But instead I’m going to review its 1998 remake. Hooray.

It was decided to commission a re-telling of the original OVA, almost certainly because that anime was never properly finished. However in this new version the character designs were greatly altered, as were the personalities of most of the cast, and the story ended up going in a completely new direction with different themes. As far as I can tell Bubblegum Crisis Tokyo 2040 (as it was called) is not considered to be as good as it’s predecessor. In fact it would seem that BGC fans kind of think of it as an afterthought. Hell, it doesn’t even have its own TV Tropes page, which I found to be really odd as those guys make pages about everything! (By the way, I wouldn’t mind a Beta is Dead TV Tropes page. I’m just saying…)

Anyway it was produced by Anime International Company and licensed for America by ADV Films in 2001. Since ADV Films’ mid-2000s bubblegum financial crisis FUNimation has picked up the license and re-released the show on DVD in 2010. I have never seen a single episode of the original Bubblegum Crisis so, unlike a lot of classic anime fans, I will be reviewing this on its own merit rather than comparing to the beloved series. Is it unfairly judged or does it have its own crisis of content?

Full review after the jump.

[WARNING: The review contains a few spoilers for a cartoon that came out in the 90s so read at your own risk if you managed to remain spoiler free this whole time]

Monday, March 24, 2014

Mini-Reviews: Robocop (2014), 300 - Rise of an Empire

I suppose I should get back to doing the whole “movie review” thing, huh? A lot of reviewable movies are starting come out and it’s going to be difficult for me to see them all in a timely fashion, made worse by the fact that I’m currently staying in Chicago where movie tickets are at least $1.50 higher than what I’m used to. Still I’ve managed to get myself to the theaters a few times recently so to save time it would probably be best if we did this as mini-reviews.

Today we’ll be looking at two odd Hollywood summer blockbusters that studios clearly wanted as far away from summer as possible; the Robocop remake and the belated sequel to the 2007 action fantasy film 300. Astute readers may well recall that nearly a year ago when I posted my annual Summer Movie Preview I clearly said 300: Rise of An Empire would be coming out in August of 2013. Well apparently it was pushed back to March, not unlike what happened with G.I. Joe: Retaliation when I previewed it two years ago. So I guess if you were burning with desire for me to review that particular flick then this blog is for you.

Two new reviews after the jump.

Monday, March 17, 2014

Review: Doctor Who - Series Four (2005 Revival)

It has been far too long since my last review of Doctor Who. Long story short I never, never, never seem to have time to sit down and re-watch the show. I tend to get to watch an episode here and there except that “here and there” seem to be months apart! Since the last review a lot of changes have occurred in the franchise including a new companion and the first appearance of the Twelfth Doctor. However we’re still here in the fourth series talking about the Tenth Doctor. I will attempt to do this more frequently but as you should know by now I don’t like making promises about future content.

Anywho the fourth series of the revived Doctor Who is notable for several reasons but mainly that it was Russell T Davies’ final full season as show runner and that it would be the last season until 2010, a nearly two year hiatus (in lieu of a season 2009 had several Doctor Who specials). Change was fast approaching the show, bigger than the new series had experienced thus far.

Full review after the jump.

Friday, March 7, 2014

A Brief Intro to The King of Fighters (Shameless Self-Promotion)
Very recently my band, Zombie Apocalypse NOW!, released a new EP: “ZANVSKOF”. Although it is very short, only three tracks, it is the culmination of over a year of hard work despite numerous setbacks. I’m very proud of this album and feel like it contains some of the best songs I’ve ever written. It’s also the first of what will be a series of EPs coming out by us over a period of time. What’s different about these releases versus our previous ones is that while there’s often been a nerdy tone on our music I had the idea to make full-on themed EPs. Meaning that every EP is inspired by a different subject and, because I’m the biggest nerd I know, they will be pretty dorky ones. I was heavily inspired to do this by the music of Adam WarRock. For those of you not in the know WarRock is a rapper whose song topics tend to cover a wide variety of topics that include comic books, cartoons, TV shows, and even occasionally professional wrestling. He’s pretty fantastic and also a giant nerd so you can guess why I like him. He regularly releases free EPs/Mix Tapes and they usually are based on some top or another (I originally discovered him from his West Coast Avengers and Firefly albums). I loved that idea and wanted to do something similar. Then I remembered that I have a band and I have access to a home studio. So why the hell not?

Anyway “ZANVSKOF” is inspired by the King of Fighters video game series. I had a lot of ideas for EPs but I settled on starting with King of Fighters because I had already written lyrics to a song about my favorite KOF character years before so it seemed like a decent place to start. So now, with the album finally done, you can listen to it from our Bandcamp page and also download it for free (Or any amount. Tips and donations are appreciated).

Twenty Years of sadistically difficult bosses!
But I don’t want to just plug my new album today. It occurs to me that a lot of people, whether folks who frequent this site or even people who like my band, may not know a hell of a lot of stuff about this game series. Thankfully I have a blog and a lot of useless information in my head and therefore I can give a beginners guide to exactly what this franchise is all about.

A brief look at the King of Fighters after the jump.
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