Tag: Batman

The Rise of the Comic Book Movies: Some Marvelous, Some Don’t Cut It

by on Jul.09, 2011, under comics, movies

Though I haven’t written a movie review here in some time (partially due to a lull in actual theatrical visits to anything worth reviewing), most who know me are aware that I am a movie aficionado – comic-book themed movies being high on my list of favorites.  Time was that these types of movies were few and far between, and for each one that was well done there were a half a dozen that were half-baked or overcooked.  Lately though, this genre seems have evolved both into a talent-draw and the blockbuster formula.  I for one can’t find much reason to complain so long as the end results are worth watching.

This genre has been tackled from numerous directions by numerous players.  DC has been playing this field for decades now, but most of their attempts to continue something successful has only come back to bite them (e.g., the Superman, and Batman movies prior to Batman Begins).  Marvel has also attempted to plant their flag and, at least I think, has succeeded in doing what Douglas Adams is famous for stating we as humans are capable of but nearly always fail to do – learn from the mistakes of others.  After hitting some snags letting other studios mung things up, they’ve taken the reins back and brought to the big screen what has always made their comics great – continuity.

Not to say that DC can’t get it right – Batman Begins & The Dark Knight are clear evidence that they can.  But their big screen floundering with any reasonable Superman reboot/continuation hasn’t been confidence building, nor has their 180 on bringing Wonder Woman back to the small screen.  Unlike seemingly most of the critical world, I greatly enjoyed the recent Green Lantern movie … up until the mid-credit bonus scene ruined it (I won’t spoil it for those who haven’t seen it, but honestly the only way that scene makes sense is as a teaser trailer for the next film, otherwise it goes against the relational dynamics and apparent character stances they built throughout the movie).  And outside of those properties I haven’t seen much to indicate they are putting any significant efforts into any other properties, which is disheartening given that I think they have a pretty deep bench from which to pull.

I also would be remiss to say that Marvel has been pitch perfect.  Clearly they have had faults in the not too distant past (e.g., X-Men Origins: Wolverine, Spider-man 3).  But their recent efforts with Iron Man and the converging storyline with other future members of the Avengers have been spectacular.  Not only have the stories themselves stood on their own, but the semi-subtle use of character cameos and post-credit bonus scenes give them even more dimension.  As a result, each of these have been movies that can easily be enjoyed by both hardcore fans and the uninitiated.

So far I’ve caught all of the comic-book genre pics released this season and I have yet to be significantly disappointed.  If you are interested in my grading of these, here is the report card:

  • Thor B – I enjoyed the complexity of this story arc and how they were able to give the characters more depth than I’d anticipated.  Though I have to deduct points on behalf of my kids who found the villains a bit too scary (especially in 3D), and the delayed hero-gratification off-putting.
  • Green LanternB- – As I said, I really enjoyed this take on this origin story.  Aside from a few flat supporting characters, it was as true to canon as would have been believable and staged things for strong potential continuation of the title (aside from the ruinous mid-credit scene).
  • X-Men: First ClassA+ – This proved to be much better than I had expected and depicted an intriguing starting point for the eventual path of Profession Xavier and his long-time nemesis and friend, Magneto.  I really felt the characters were well developed and depicted and that the film did an excellent job of retconning itself into our own historical events.  I look forward to any future development of this franchise.
  • Captain America: the First AvengerA? – Obviously I cannot grade a movie I haven’t seen yet, but if the previews and my own speculations on the gaps based on canonical knowledge are any indication, this one is going to be a winner.  I have a feeling, though, that following this movie (or more likely, during) I will have to explain some of the historical context to my daughter.

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Virtual Road to Riches

by on Aug.18, 2009, under comics, family, video games

So one of my bonding activities that I developed as of late with my daughter is video gaming – specifically playing with the Wii (btw, thanks again Mom).  Initially it was all about Mario Party 8 since that was one of the first games we had with it.  But I, frankly, can only handle so much of that game (especially since the taunt feature has been unlocked).  So for my birthday, I got a couple of new games (thanks, Jesse) – Lego Batman and Lego Star Wars.  And loving the genre, my daughter wants to play it with me every day if she can – she will wake me up early on work days to play before I leave and will barter bedtime stories in exchange for another level in the evening before bed.  I try to keep the game-play time within reason, but she is legitimately getting better at playing and as such learning some good eye-hand coordination skills.  So if it is time that the TV would likely be on anyway, I’ll gladly play for a bit rather than vegging out to some show.

Anyway, she and I have managed to work through all 30 levels in Story mode and managed to get a good amount of the minikits and red bricks in Free-play mode (I think we are around 90% complete right now).  Once we get through all of it, we may move on to Lego Star Wars.  But we have discovered some interesting quirks in the game.  For one, we found that there are 5 different extras you can unlock that are score multipliers (scorex2, x4, x6, x8, x10) and it seems you can enable all 5 at the same time thus getting a score multiplier of x3840.  As a result, it has been cake to reach Super-Hero/Super-Villain mode in any levels we hadn’t before.  But also it has led to another discovery – it seems the game has a maximum allowable score of 4 billion studs (the currency of choice within the Lego realms).  So any studs accrued beyond this amount are simply lost in the ether (possibly garnished for Gotham City urban renewal programs?).  Granted, it is a ludicrously high number (though ludicrously easy to reach with all the sore multipliers on) and those studs will never get spent even if I never use the multipliers again.  But it is funny that a cap exists (probably a programmatic limitation).

So my daughter and I now moonlight as Lego billionaires.  It is a complex and lavish lifestyle, but we try not to let it go to our heads.  We try to keep our priorities straight – after all, we still do have a city to save.

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Can I Get a Witness?

by on Aug.13, 2009, under philosophy, video games

The other night at 9:00pm, a pair of Mormons show up on my doorstep.  I had difficulty arguing the lateness since I was in the middle of playing Lego Batman with my daughter, though I managed to slip out of any lengthy conversation by stating that I was about to get the kids to bed (something I legitimately should have been doing).  A part of me secretly imagined what might ensue if a pair of Jehovah’s Witnesses had happened upon my porch at the same time.  The following morning during my commute, I imagined myself playing devil’s advocate with them regarding their faith.  But really, who am I to throw stones – they are entitled to their beliefs.  Though I’d like to think that I’m equally entitled to my privacy.  If they return, it will likely be to square off with my better half – after which they won’t be back.  🙂

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Unapologetically Fanatic

by on Nov.17, 2008, under comics, movies

It should come as no surprise to anyone who knows me that I am a huge fan of the recent comic book film adaptation movement.  I was raised on a formula of Superman, Indiana Jones and Star Wars movies.  Matured to the Batman and Spider-man series’.  And in my adulthood have enjoyed both fleeting and sustained relationships in the comic book movie genre.  But this article sent chills of pleasure down my spine (which I came across via a Slashdot post). (continue reading…)

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by on Jul.31, 2008, under comics, environment, movies, TV

I finally made it out to see “Dark Knight” (see my prior post to read more about my delays in getting to the theater).  My sister-in-law volunteered to babysit the kids for the evening so my wife and I could step out on a date.  And what better date for a couple married over 11 years than one that involves very little conversation (sorry, dear – the joke was there).  She wanted to see it as much as I did, so it was a welcome retreat for both of us.  Though after seeing it, I think she isn’t sure it was the retreat she had hoped for. (continue reading…)

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