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.
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