Deadpool

Standard

cvkqtaoukaagbhs

[Spoiler-free]

This is a movie that understands itself, sets a reasonable goal, and achieves it.  That may seem like faint praise, but considering that many movies miss that mark, it’s actually quite an achievement.  Deadpool isn’t revolutionary, but it has all the elements necessary to meet fans’ demands and keep them thoroughly entertained.

Element #1: Humor
Deadpool is “The Merc a Mouth.”  He is supposed to be a talkative, joking wise-ass, lovable and irritating at the same time.  Ryan Reynolds nails it, and the rest of the cast/movie tone is good too.  The jokes run the gambit from dick jokes and potty humor to gallows humor and 4th-wall breaking.

Element #2: The 4th Wall
One of the traits that sets Deadpool apart from so many other humorous and/or anti-hero characters is how he breaks the 4th wall, a trait alive and well in this movie.  The 4th wall is broken frequently, and other movies by Fox and/or Ryan Reynolds are skewered in the process.

Element #3: R-Rating
Look, blood!  People get shot and stabbed and blown up, and there’s actually blood and gore to accompany it!  And there’s skin: full-on frontals of naked women, man-butts, and even a faint penis cameo.  There are sex scenes – yes, plural – and torture scenes too.  Captain America would not approve of this movie.

Element #4: Romance
In the comics Deadpool is not a complete stranger to romance, and the love story they chose for this movie works surprisingly well.  I’m not a fan of typical “chick flick” romances, but this is more realistic than sappy, striking a nice tone that actually made me care about it rather than wishing it would just end already.

I think this movie may make production companies rethink their PG-13 vs R stances.  Deadpool proves that if done right, you can have your chimichangas and eat them too.

Rating: 8.5/10

USA_Today_Podium

Debate time!  There are some debates revolving around the Deadpool movie that I feel the need to jump into.

1.) Deadpool is a poor parody.
This argument says that Deadpool is out to skewer traditional comic book movies, that it’s supposed to make fun of them and do something totally different, but then falls flat or is actually hypocritical because it falls into some of the same tropes it’s making fun of.

Yes, the character Deadpool makes fun of a lot of comic book tropes, namely because he’s aware that he’s in a comic book and therefor has more awareness of said tropes.  And yet, Deadpool is a comic book character, just one in a large, traditional comic universe.  So while he is able to make fun of it, he’s destined to have a number of similarities with traditional comic book characters/stories.  He’s just supposed to give you a wink and a nudge, acknowledge what you’re thinking, and have fun with it.

2.) Deadpool isn’t the first rated-R comic movie.
Apparently some people are mad that so many are praising Deadpool for being rated-R because there are other rated-R comic book movies that came before it.  My response: Deadpool is the first FUN rated-R comic book movie.  Of the earlier rated-R comic book movies I’ve watched, the only one I found somewhat enjoyable was V for Vendetta. 300 was nothing but a mindless testosterone-fest, and Watchmen was an overhyped, pretentious load of bulls*** that took me 2 attempts to finish.  And every older R-rated comic book movie I can think of is serious, dark, and/or depressing.

Identity Crisis

Standard

IdentityCrisis

I’ve always preferred Japanese manga to Western comics.  Something about mainstream Western comic art style and story-telling always felt lackluster to me.  There are exceptions of course, but by and large they’re not something I’d waste time or money on.  Identity Crisis may be one of those exceptions.

The first discussion point is what is most immediately obvious about any comic book: the art.  I would not say the art was as nice as 1602 Witch Hunter Angela, but it certainly seemed a step above a lot of traditional comics.  I can’t recall any one particular frame that made me think “ick,” which is an accomplishment in and of itself.

Next comes the story.  My friend raved about The Killing Joke, which ultimately ended up being a letdown in how predictable I found it.  As such, I approach comics with low expectations.  Perhaps it was because I had low expectations, but I was pleasantly surprised by the actual story of Identity Crisis.  There was still predictable parts, sure, but there was enough that I didn’t guess to keep it interesting, and it’s obvious some thought was put into it.

I did borrow this book from the library, and I’m not sure how re-readable it is, so I can’t say I’d suggest paying a lot of money on it, but if you can find it for cheap or borrow a copy, it’s worth your time to read.

Rating: 7/10

SpoilerAlert

I enjoyed how this comic gave attention to the loved ones of super heroes, specifically to the danger they’re in.  Sure, you have comics when Louis Lane or whoever gets kidnapped, but often the danger feels like a simple plot device or excuse, with the main focus still being on the hero versus the bad guy.  In Identity Crisis, heroes relationships with their loved ones and the threat to the lived ones’ safety is central and felt throughout the story.  And not just heroes: a brief but surprisingly sincere reunion story between Captain Boomerang and his illegitimate son is also featured in the book.

The focus on these relationships makes it more impactful when we finally learn that the culprit behind Sue Dibny’s murder is The Atom’s on-again-off-again lover, Jean Loring. The extra whammy behind it is that Jean insists she didn’t mean to kill Sue, she just wanted to rough her up so the heroes would get worried and spend more time with their loved ones.  So the villain isn’t your classic villain, but rather someone with mental/emotiona; issues that are just coming to light.

Ready Player One

Standard

Ready_Player_One_coverHere we have a geek book.  The main characters are geeks, the plot revolves around playing video games, and the book is packed with geeky pop culture references.  I’m somewhat geeky and like a handful of video games, but I’m no gamer, so I was worried that this book would go over my head and/or be boring.  So, did I like it?

oh_yes_david_tennant

I did.  I was a tad worried at first, but I put on my +1 Helmet of Geekdom, dove in, and had a fun time.  I finished this book in three nights/reading sessions.

The book is set in the not-too-distant future, where civilization is swirling around the drain.  Climate change, overpopulation, and war have have all stacked up to make life shitty.  Unemployment is high, people are crammed into slums everywhere, and natural resources are stressed.  To avoid reality, people turn to OASIS, a global,  immersive virtual reality game.  People go to school in OASIS, work in OASIS, and some live the majority of time in the game.  This is true of the main character Wade, aka Perzival.

Like many others, Wade lives and breathes OASIS.  So when Halliday, the game’s creator, dies and announces that the winner of a puzzle/hidden teasure contest in the game will inherit his fortune and position as owner of OASIS, Wade is eager to win.  Of course, so are thousands of other OASIS players.  And an evil corporation.

The contest stretches for years, with all but the most die-hard players like Wade giving up.  Then Wade discovers the first clue and the race is on.

MJstill

Sure, there were some references I didn’t get, and the plot was very predictable, but I was still very entertained.  It made me want to go hop on a video game and beat some boss-monsters.  It also made me seriously think that it would be a good movie, and sure enough, a movie adaptation helmed by Steven Spielberg is supposedly in the works.

I do think the plot could’ve been a tad deeper, and a lot of the pop culture references weren’t exactly necessary, but this was a fun book.  If you have any interest in video games, D&D, or cult pop culture, I recommend you read it.

Rating: 9/10

ClappingGif

Secret Wars: A-Force #1

Standard

AForce1

I’m generally not a comic book fan.  Most traditional comic book art doesn’t impress me, and I think comic books are an expensive hobby.  However, when I saw an ad for A-Force in one of my Free Comic Book Day comics, I decided to give it a shot.  I like the idea of an all/majority-female team, and of seeing some female heroes I know less about take the spotlight.  In those regards, the comic didn’t disappoint.

The concept behind Marvel’s Secret Wars is the multi-verses have collided and created one patchwork place called Battleworld.  So all the different universes’ variations of certain heroes can all conceivably exist on the same planet now, in different locations and/or new combinations.  A-Force takes place in an area called Arcadia, where the majority of superheroes are women.  I like this.  It’s fun to see all these different female heroes I like on one team, and to read a plot/story where the women are in charge without the men being reduced to slaves or house-husbands.

GirlPower

The female hero squad regularly patrols boundaries of Arcadia, and as we watch them make their rounds, we see a number of heroes: Lady Loki, Captain Marvel, Pixie, Spider Woman, and more.  From the cover and various internet summaries I know who the main characters will be, but in this chapter it felt like the most important characters were She-Hulk, Sister Grimm/Nico Minoru, and [Lady] Loki.

We learn that this new world has some new rules, and that breaking those rules have serious consequences.  This is obviously going to be a point of conflict in the series.  There is also a hint at some other unknown danger at the end of the chapter, as well as a mysterious character.  You know, things to get you to tune in next time and buy the next book.  And I definitely will.

Art: 6/10 (Slightly better than average for common comics I’ve encountered)
Story: 7.5/10
Overall: 8/10 (Admittedly, this is partially just due to my excitement of an all-star female team)

SpoilerAlert

Now to head into my thoughts and speculations about some particulars.  First, Lady Loki.  Lady Loki is apparently a guardian/mentor/parental figure to Ms. America – who was apparently taken away/drafted as a result of breaking one of Battleworld’s new rules – and Sister Grimm.  As far as I know, there are very few times where Loki stays a good character.  I anticipate tension at the very least.

The face of trouble.

The face of trouble.

Singularity seems like she’ll be an interesting character.  One of the comics’ creators basically said she’ll provide an outside perspective on the A-Force/human race – think Spock, Q, Castiel, etc. – and will possess the ability to move between worlds/dimensions.  Since breaching the borders of Arcadia – or whatever little piece of Battleworld a character lives in – is one of the new big No-No’s, Singularity presents an interesting potential loophole and dilemma.  And since Sister Grimm is the one that found her, it looks like the comic’s writers are planning to head in that direction.

Free Comic Book Day 2015 – Part 2

Standard

AOT_Comic

This book actually has four different manga stories inside.  I will review each part separately, starting with Attack on Titan.

Considering all the praise and hype surrounding Attack on Titan, I expected it to blow my mind, but my brain has remained in one piece.  In fact, by the end of the story, I was kinda going “So what?”  Yes, I can see how the story has potential, but the actual part in this manga book was nothing special.  I may watch the series on Netflix, but unless the TV series is amazing, I won’t be reading any more of the manga.

Rating: 6/10

Noragami

This second part is about a homeless, roaming, D-list god.  I was expecting the god to have a Naruto-type personality, or maybe be like Captain Jack Sparrow.  He turned out to be a bit of a jerk and not that interesting, so I didn’t like him.  I like the idea of curses and blessings personified/coming to life, but it’s not enough to get me to spend money to read the rest of the series.

Rating: 4.5/10

VinlandVikings

Viking invasion of Britain.  Meh.  I like medieval fantasy stuff, but this was lacking in the fantasy element.  I ended up skimming the story and nothing really caught my eye.  Nothing of interest here.

Rating: 2/10

inuyashiki

With how unimpressed I’ve been with the majority of my FCBD loot, I was not expecting a story like this.  The story follows an old man, diagnosed with terminal cancer at the very start of the story.  To make things even sadder, his family all either takes him for granted and/or ignores him.  The only character that seems to give a shit about him is the dog.  His situation kicked me right in the feels.

The story’s summary hints that the old man will be getting abilities of some sort, and the ending was pretty cliffhanger-y.  I like stories with a less conventional main character, I like the potential of the story, and I wanted to hug the old man.  Inuyashiki is the first and only story from all of my FCBD loot that genuinely makes me want to buy more to see what happens.

Rating: 8/10

LieinApril

Boring.  The premise described in the summary wasn’t particularly interesting – sounded like a sappy YA novel – and the actual manga wasn’t any better.  A guy finds some girl’s clothes hanging in a tree, and then sees a not-naked girl playing some music for some kids.  That’s it.  I just told you all of what happened in a single sentence.  BORING.

Rating: 1/10

SpoilerAlert

Speculation on Inuyashiki.  I’m not sure how spoiler-y this is, but figured I’d put a warning.  The official summary says that after an incident, the main character – Ichiro – notices something different about himself, and that maybe he’d have a chance to become a man worthy of respect.  The end of the tease implies that he was accidentally killed by aliens, and rebuilt as a robot/cyborg (or something similar).  This could mean that his cancer is gone (I hope), and that he could have all sorts of fun robot/cyborg powers.  Elderly gentleman with super strength and laser eyes,perhaps?  Now that’d be interesting!

Free Comic Book Day 2015

Standard

DocWhoComic

The art was fairly close to typical Western comic style art, but I found it more tolerable since I really like Doctor Who.  These stories were definitely the best of all the comics, having three self-contained mini-episodes, two of which I could easily see being full-length TV episodes.  The fact that the stories made sense, were entertaining, and each reached a conclusion made this the hands-down best comic that I picked up on Free Comic Book Day.

( 0 = Die in a fire, 5 = Average, 10 = I lurv it)

Art = 5
Story = 7
Overall = 6

SecretWars

The first comic, the Secret Wars, was boring and stuffy.  The whole thing was nothing but a bunch of stuffy kids standing around discussing the pseudo-science, colliding-universe nonsense that Marvel is going to use as an excuse to create the giant crossover.  While the crossover sounds interesting, this part of the comic was a giant snoozefest.  I’m not familiar with Attack on Titan, so while at least the second part had action, I wasn’t that impresses with it either.

Art = 5 (Both)
Story = 3 (2.5 for Secret Wars, 3.5 for Titan)
Overall = 4

AllNewAvengers

I was interested to see the new Ms. Marvel, Spiderman, and female Thor together as I hadn’t seen them before.  It had action, but the story was just… meh.  It wasn’t good or bad, it was just there, and it was short.  The Inhumans part was better.  I wouldn’t say it was great, but it was enough to intrigue me about the series; what I saw of Medusa made me interested in her.

Art = 5 (Both)
Story = 4.75 (4.5 for Avengers, 5 for Inhumans)
Overall = 4.75

TitansScooby

The Teen Titans part left me conflicted.  The art is cute, but very childish.  Maybe I’d get used to it with time, but it seemed too youthful for a book about teenage superheroes; might’ve been better for something like Powerpuff Girls or Invader Zim.  The story was a silly bit of fluff with no real plot, but it was self-contained which was nice.  The Scooby-Doo part was stupid.  A team of superheroes, including the detective-smart Batman, the ridiculously powerful Superman, and Supergirl needed to call on the Scooby Gang to solve a “ghost” problem?  No.  Just, not.  I don’t buy it.

Art = 5.5 (6 for Titans, 5 for Scooby)
Story = 4.5 (6 for Titans, 3 for Scooby)
Overall = 4.5

MotorSamurai

I had high hopes for this one.  The art is interesting, and just judging from the cover, I figured it’d be about a motorcycle-riding female hero gang.  Nope.  It had potential, but the writing/way the story was told made it boring.  Very disappointing.

Art = 6
Story = 2
Overall = 2 (Story outweighed art)

SuperMutantAcademy

UGH!  So bad, it was frustrating.  The “good” art in this comic book looks like Sunday comic strip art at best.  In the first part, each “story” was only one page long.  Each story was about stupid stuff that might happen in any normal high school, but not even the fun stuff, just lame, run-of-the-mill events!  In the second part, the “stories” were a single line long.  That’s right, three frames!  I didn’t even bother finishing it, and considering it’s basically a picture book, that’s sad.

Art = 1
Story = 0
Overall = 0.5

Avengers: Age of Ultron

Standard

AgeOfUltron

[First part is spoiler-free, then spoilers after the warning]

I was so excited about this movie.  I loved The Avengers, and I greatly enjoy most Marvel movies, so I figured this would be a sure hit.  I splurged on the viewing, reserving a seat at the dine-in theater as soon as tickets were available.  I met up with some of my friends, I bought something other than the cheapest option on the menu, sat back, and was ready to be amazed.

So was I amazed?  Well…

AngryMob

Time out!  I didn’t say it was bad!  Drop your pitchforks, back away from your keyboard, and let me explain.

Like I said, I loved the first Avengers movie.  Seeing all those characters together on the big screen was like magic.  I think that is part of what made it so grand though; it was the first time I had seen a movie take so many main characters and bring them together in one movie.  Since the Avengers had already been assembled in the first movie, Age of Ultron didn’t have that going for it.

Pacing was a bit problematic.  There was a lot of action; during the Hulk vs Hulkbuster scene, I actually felt a bit bored/tired.  The movie had some slow parts, but they didn’t properly counterbalance the action and fast pace of the rest of the movie.

However, Age of Ultron is still a good movie.  The core cast is back, with a couple of new additions.  Some characters got some much-needed development, particularly Hawkeye.  In The Avengers, poor Hawkeye spent most of the movie brainwashed.  Between that and his lack of screen time, he was almost an extra in The Avengers.

Don't worry Hawkeye.  Your time is coming.

Don’t worry Hawkeye. Your time is coming.

In Age of Ultron, Hawkeye starts to find his niche.  He doesn’t have superpowers or loads of money, but you learn that he does have something different to bring to the table.  Black Widow also gets some development, but Hawkeye steals the show in that arena.

Ultron was not what I expected.  I figured he’d be one-note, straight dark and psycho.  He was bad, yes, and crazy, but he also had some humorous lines and familiar-but-fun motives, putting him above the likes of Ronin, Malekith, and Justin Hammer.

Wait, that's not Ultron?  Close enough.

Wait, that’s not Ultron? Close enough.

There were some things I didn’t buy in the movie, or that seemed a touch off, but overall it was quite good.

Final Rating: 8/10

Now, I will enter spoiler territory to dissect some of my issues with the movie, and some of my favorite parts.  If you haven’t watched the movie, stop reading and come back later.

SpoilerAlert

The movie reveals that Hawkeye is married, and that he has a house out in the country where his two kids and pregnant wife live.  I’m torn about this reveal.  It positions Hawkeye to be the most human of the Avengers, with the most in common with the average person the Avengers are supposed to be protecting, so it does give him a nice perspective to bring to the table.  On the other hand, I didn’t buy the idea of a house being so secret that neither Tony Stark nor Ultron knew about it, unless they just hadn’t bothered to look.  Plus, Hawkeye’s country house, 2.5 kids, loving and understanding wife, and assorted other domestic bliss just seems too perfect, especially for a member of an internationally known crime-fighting organization.

Marvin

I am still left torn about Black Widow.  I want to like her.  I really, really do.  But Scarlet Johanson’s portrayal of her just seems so… wooden.  I always envisioned Black Widow as being the ultimate femme fatale: sexy, exotic, alluring, and able to kill you without breaking a single perfectly manicured nail.  ScarJo’s Black Widow is just… not that.  They tried to evolve her character in this movie by giving her a romantic interest in Banner.  I get the reasoning she gave for being attracted to him, but I feel Black Widow would’ve more confident/assertive in pursuing him, and I don’t think she would’ve stayed as visibly upset for as long as she did.

I do like that they didn’t have her try to pick up Thor’s hammer though.  Because if she tried and couldn’t move it, some fans would’ve been pissed since in at least one series of comics, she can move it (and gets a cool Asgard suit too).

AsgardWidow

There were some other minor things.  Like, at the end of Iron Man 3, it seemed like Tony was done with being an Avenger, but here he is Avenger-ing again.

So what about the things I liked.  Let’s start with Scarlet Witch.  This is a comic book character I was very interested to see adapted to the big screen.  And I must say, I am very glad they didn’t try to give her a headpiece; I hate her comic costume headpiece.

SWitchHeadpiece

BreadCat

Scarlet Witch’s accent was meh, and I’m not sure about her mind-fuckery powers – I don’t remember her having those, but I’m not a hardcore comic fan – but I was just glad to see her.

Vision was surprisingly awesome.  I knew almost nothing about him going into the movie, other than the fact that he wasn’t human and was green and purple.  The green and purple part had me worried; how could that not look dumb?  But it worked, and Vision was a very dignified character, making the “Well, I was born yesterday” line at the end perfect.  It was nice to see Paul Bettany in front of the camera.

Speaking of, did you all realize that Klaw was Andy Serkis?  I’m so used to him doing motion capture roles, I didn’t recognize him when I actually got to see him using his own face in a movie.

This dude is Gollum (LotR), Caesar (Planet of the Apes), and King Kong.

This dude is Gollum (LotR), Caesar (Planet of the Apes), and King Kong.

The humor was great.  There was no single, gut-busting moment like the Hulk/Loki scene in The Avengers, but there were many lines and scenes I thought were quite funny:

  • Cap scolding Iron Man for cursing, then everyone ribbing Cap about it.
  • Iron Man saying “great talk!” and then one of the guys he shot saying “No it wasn’t!”
  • Black Widow saying “Beep beep!” while driving a motorcycle through a crowd.
  • Ultron saying something to the effect of “They took the rarest metal on Earth and made a frisbee” (referring to Cap’s shield).

I am a fanfic reader.  I tell you that to tell you this: there were scenes where the writers were teasing fanfic fans.  The writers and the cast know about the fanfic; hell, they talked about the fic term “sciencebros” on Jimmy Kimmel!  So they know about it, and the fanfic community knows that they know about it, and now the movies are deliberately teasing us.  Don’t believe me?  Next time you see a scene where you think the bromance is just a tad much, remember it’s for the fanfic community.  And we love it.

happy-oh-stop-it-you

So the movie didn’t have quite the same magic as the first, but it was still fun, and a bit like coming home.  I look forward to phase of Marvel movies.